Mission: Dignity graces retirees' 'love story'

Baptist Press
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Posted: May 28, 2014 4:52 PM
DALLAS (BP) -- Twenty-five dollars each month. That's what Bobby Walker received when he went to his first pastorate.

"He never made a decision for a pastorate on salary," Tommie Walker said of her late husband. "He said, 'If God guides, He will provide.' So we went on that."

The Walkers' testimony is not uncommon. A deep love for each other and a commitment to the calling from God characterized their marriage.

"We never did have much of a salary, but God blessed us in so many ways; we had each other," Walker said. "I still miss him so badly."

Tommie Walker's story is told in new Mission:Dignity videos available free to churches. The videos also include the stories of Raymond and Odessa Crow, a retired pastor and his wife, and Virginia Pangle, another pastor's widow.

Mission:Dignity -- an initiative of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention -- provides financial assistance to about 2,000 retired pastors, ministry workers and their widows who are struggling to make ends meet. These men and women faithfully served God's people in small, mostly rural churches and now find it difficult to meet their own basic needs.

"Our videos help tell the story of Mission:Dignity," said John Ambra, director of development for GuideStone Financial Resources. "Under the theme of 'every love story deserves a happy ending,' we are showing these stories of the enduring love and devotion of these retired pastors and their widows, and showing how Southern Baptists have helped to provide a true happy ending -- that they may live out their later years with a sense of financial dignity."

Raymond Crow served nine churches during his 34 years of ministry. He and Odessa have been married 72 years.

"Mission:Dignity has been a life-saver," Raymond Crow said. "She and I are both on medicines and that gets to be very expensive. We've been able to make ends meet because Mission:Dignity has been here to help us.

"It's hard because my nature is to give, but Mission:Dignity is the thing that builds faith: faith in the Lord and faith in fellow man."

Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 22. Churches, Sunday School classes and mission groups can participate in this special day. Free bulletin inserts and these videos (available in three-, two- and one-minute versions) are available by request. Call 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) or visit www.MissionDignitySBC.org. The materials are undated so they may be used when convenient for churches.

Roy Hayhurst is department head of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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