LifeWay Considering Sale of Glorieta

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Glorieta Conference Center

Nashville, Tenn. (BP) — LifeWay Christian Resources is considering selling Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico to Olivet University, an evangelical university in California.

LifeWay and Olivet are currently working with an evangelical third party to conduct a comprehensive review of the theological compatibility of the two organizations. During the process, Olivet is renting previously un-used facilities at Glorieta for 200 students, faculty and staff.

LifeWay trustees voted last fall to pursue viable options for the 2,100-acre conference center near Santa Fe, NM, opened 60 years ago. Officials reported that due to changes in church practices, rising costs and a volatile economy, Glorieta had achieved financial break-even only once in the last 25 years. The center now offers only summer events for student groups, including Centrifuge camps and Collegiate Week.

LifeWay had previously offered to convey the conference center to the Baptist Convention of New Mexico for $1 and a financially stable, comprehensive operations plan. The BCNM formed a task force to study possible acquisition of Glorieta in January and will report their findings to the convention’s executive board this week.

However, BCNM executive board chairman Lamar Morin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bloomfield, confirmed to Baptist Press on Saturday July 14 that assuming full ownership and responsibility for the center would not be financially feasible.

“The BCNM Glorieta Task Force believed any prudent business plan would include an environmental study and indemnification by LifeWay for any environmental problems that might be discovered,” Morin said in a statement.

“Based on its inspection of the property, the task force determined that a viable business plan needed to include deferred maintenance of $10 million to $20 million.”

Morin’s statement said when LifeWay advised BCNM it “could not indemnify the state convention as requested, the task force could not proceed any further.”

Morin also acknowledged the “deep love and devotion New Mexico Baptists” have for the Glorieta, but said the task force “recognized, despite multiple suggestions, there was no offer of financial resources by any person or organization to cover the enormous costs and potential liabilities of assuming such a large property.”

LifeWay chief financial officer Jerry Rhyne declined to release specific details of the potential sale to Olivet, but said provisions would include, in addition to the theological review

  • Significant protections for individuals and churches that lease land from Glorieta for houses and conference facilities
  • Permission for LifeWay to continue using Glorieta for summer camps
  • Accommodation of use by New Mexico Baptists
  • Preservation of memorials associated with rooms and structures, and,
  • Prohibition of re-selling the facilities in the future without LifeWay’s permission

Rhyne also pointed out that any sale would need approval of LifeWay’s board of trustees which next meets in August.

The president of Olivet is Bill Wagner, a former International Mission Board missionary and missions professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary who was elected second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2003.

Wagner said Olivet is “honored LifeWay would consider Olivet to steward the Glorieta Conference Center . . . Glorieta’s mission has always been to point people to Christ, which Olivet University is committed to continue to do through education and training of the next generation of leaders called to fulfill the Great Commission through church ministry and missions.”

by Communications Staff

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