July 1 deadline looms for some churches

Roy Hayhurst
GuideStone Financial Resources

DALLAS — Churches and ministries that reimburse their employees for individual health coverage may soon find themselves facing stiff penalties of up to $36,500 per employee, per year, under the federal health care law commonly known as Obamacare, as a grace period expires June 30. The penalties on employers who maintain employer payment plans were to begin in January, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) granted a six-month reprieve.

Organizations that offer GuideStone health plans are not at risk of these penalties. GuideStone’s health plans — both its Personal and Group plans — are church health plans and are considered group health plans under federal law and thus are not affected by these penalties.

“Fortunately, GuideStone health plan participants and the churches and ministries that employ them can rest assured that they can continue to pay for coverage as they have in the past and meet the guidelines under the current law,” said Donna Lively, managing director of insurance plans at GuideStone Financial Resources. “Organizations that don’t utilize GuideStone should consult with their legal and tax advisors to determine how to comply with the letter of the law.”

GuideStone has updated its popular resource “Reimbursement Vehicles and the ACA: Impacts for Employers,” which is available free online at

GuideStone has developed new health coverage solutions that may be appropriate for smaller churches. Additionally, churches with only one employee can apply for coverage for that lone staff member during the employee’s first 60 days of employment.

GuideStone encourages churches and ministries to remain vigilant about the Affordable Care Act and the related administrative policies that can create significant challenges for churches.

“This is just one of the myriad challenges facing all Americans, but especially churches and ministries thanks to the health care reform law,” said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins. “While we continue to wait for Congress or the courts to provide relief, the churches and ministries we serve can remain confident that GuideStone will advocate for them with legislators and regulators and will provide useful information to help them comply with this law.” 

GuideStone has made available resources on its website to help churches and ministries understand the health care reform law and its requirements on employers and employees. For more information, visit

Roy Hayhurst is department head for denominational and public relations services at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.


Huckabee announces second presidential run from Hope, his childhood home

Huckabee (Screen capture from C-Span)

HOPE – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced his candidacy for president of the United States May 5 from his hometown of Hope.

Following the formal announcement of his presidential bid, Huckabee, who served as pastor of numerous Arkansas Baptist churches before entering politics in the early 1990s, reminisced about growing up in Hope and highlighted some of his campaign’s emphases.

Huckabee referenced his multiterm governorship in “Bill Clinton’s Arkansas” as reason to believe he is the Republican candidate best suited to be victorious against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, former first lady and wife of former President Bill Clinton, who is also a native of Hope. 

"The journey that begins in Hope today can bring this nation to higher ground, but I cannot do it without people being my partners," the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Huckabee as saying. "I ask you to join with me today ... to preserve this great republic so that someday your children and grandchildren can still go from hope to higher ground."

America "has lost our way morally," Baptist Press reported Huckabee saying. "We witnessed the slaughter of over 55 million babies in the name of choice, and we are now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity and demanding that we abandon biblical principles of natural marriage."

Huckabee’s wife, Janet, and current Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, also spoke during the program.

During Huckabee’s first run for president, he received more than 4 million votes and carried eight states before Mitt Romney won the party’s nomination, according to the Democrat-Gazette.

Huckabee’s spokesperson, Alice Stewart, said the former governor will be hitting the campaign trail this week as he visits Iowa and South Carolina on his “Factories, Farms and Freedoms” tour.

Six Republicans and two Democrats have entered the presidential race at this time, said Baptist Press. According to The New York Times, seven additional Republicans and three additional Democrats are likely to enter the race as well, bringing the projected field to include 13 Republicans and five Democrats.


Nepal's quake prompts prayer; Baptists respond


NEPAL (BP) – Notes of a praise song carried from one end of the field to another. As the song ended, another started from a different direction. The two singing churches provided a sense of peace amidst the screams of neighbors sitting in open fields seeking a safe place from the aftershocks and tremors a day after Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

The quake hit April 25 just 50 miles outside the capital city of Kathmandu and reached as far as India, Bangladesh and the Chinese region of Tibet. It was the strongest in the region in more than 80 years, killing more than 4,000 people, injuring more than 7,000 and leveling buildings and homes. The death toll continues to rise as rescue efforts expand from the cities to the countryside.

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Prayer advocate Don Miller dies at 93


DON MILLER, founder of Bible Based Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas, died Wednesday, April 22. He was 93.

Miller was a pastor, church planter and evangelist, serving churches in Texas and New York from 1945 to 1977. From 1977 to 2010, he and his wife, Libby, led Bible Based Ministries, conducting prayer conferences in 1,000 churches in America and on mission fields all over the world. 

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Baptist Health names new administrator for Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway

CONWAY –  Jamie Carter, who was most recently the chief operating officer of the 617-bed Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, has been named as the vice president and administrator of the soon-to-be-opened Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway.

“We are fortunate to have someone with his level of experience joining Baptist Health, and he will be a great fit in the organization,” said Doug Weeks, chief operating officer and executive vice president for Baptist Health.

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