In More Ways than One, Mission:Dignity Gives Dignity

By Dr. Aaron Meraz, Director of Mission:Dignity, a ministry of GuideStone

We are on a Mission to provide Dignity to retirement-aged Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows — the dignity that comes with knowing they’ve served the Lord faithfully and can pay their bills at the end of the month.

Michael and Sandra Dowling have served the Lord together for more than 15 years in Alabama. Though they’ve reached retirement age, they still feel called to serve the community where they live. 

“When we received the acceptance letter from Mission:Dignity®, it immediately helped us feel that we were going to be more free to serve. There are no words to describe what a difference Mission:Dignity has made in our lives. They serve us so we can serve others.”

While some recipients are hampered by age and illness, many still serve the Lord in any way they can — volunteering at church, supply preaching, leading Bible studies (in-person and online!), lifting up intercessory prayers and a myriad of other ways.  

“In accepting the call, I realized that I was responsible to support my family, and there was going to be a lack in our finances with Social Security alone as income. Mission:Dignity, by providing this monthly grant, allowed us to be free to serve the community without worry,” said Michael, “Now, I have a pulpit on my front porch to reach the people who walk by and say, ‘Pray for us.’ And I have food to give them when they need it.”

Mission:Dignity helps more than 2,800 individuals every year with extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications. It also ensures a well-deserved dignity, independence and, often, the ability to continue serving the Lord.

In the Old Testament, we find these words: “They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green, to declare, ‘The Lord is just.’” Psalm 92:14-15a (CSB).

Like the Dowlings, these retired pastors, workers and their widows blessed and are still blessing others in their care, time and again. And now, we have the opportunity to return that blessing to these unsung heroes of the faith.

Each year across the Southern Baptist Convention, thousands of churches celebrate Mission:Dignity Sunday to raise funds to help these servants of the Lord. This year’s Mission:Dignity Sunday is the fourth Sunday in June — June 25, 2023. 

Mission:Dignity does not receive any Cooperative Program funding, yet 100% of every gift to this ministry helps someone like Michael and Sandra Dowling.

With Mission:Dignity Sunday quickly approaching, would you, your church and/or your small group join us in giving to these soldiers of the cross in need?

Visit to order materials or get involved. 

In addition to monthly grant efforts, trustees recognized Dr. O.S. Hawkins, President Emeritus of GuideStone®, earlier this year by renaming a special fund, the O.S. and Susie Hawkins Emergency Grant Fund. The Hawkins Fund was established to provide for the emergency needs of Mission:Dignity® recipients with the highest financial need. 

Patsy Rogers’ monthly income is less than $900, and recently, she needed new eyeglasses that would cost her $550. Mission:Dignity was able to come alongside her because of the Hawkins Fund and help ensure she could have the glasses she needed.

Visit to find out more about this auspicious fund.

Dr. Aaron Meraz is the director of Mission:Dignity at GuideStone. Dr. Meraz served Southern Baptists for 30 years as a pastor, church planter, associate director of a large Baptist association and professor at Criswell College before joining GuideStone. He holds a Ph.D. and a D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an M.Div. in biblical languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.