Glorieta available for $1 to N.M. Baptists - Word&Way

Glorieta available for $1 to N.M. Baptists

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (BP)—The LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center is being offered for $1 to the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, according to both LifeWay and state convention leaders.

Jerry Rhyne, LifeWay's chief financial officer, confirmed LifeWay has communicated to the New Mexico convention it is "open to conveying the entire Glorieta campus to the state convention for one dollar."

However, he added, "LifeWay has a responsibility to our trustees and all Southern Baptists that such action would be based on presentation of a financially stable, comprehensive plan."

Last fall, LifeWay trustees agreed to pursue viable options for the conference center near Santa Fe due to changes in church practices, rising costs and a volatile economy. The center now offers only summer events for student groups, including Centrifuge camps and Collegiate Week.

The $1 offer first was noted during an April 12 gathering at the Baptist Convention of New Mexico's building in Albuquerque to explore suggestions for Glorieta's future.

The group of about 30 people from New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma met at the invitation of an ad hoc BCNM committee created in January and tasked with exploring "the future and possibilities of Glorieta."

The committee's creation was a response to a resolution adopted last fall during the BCNM's annual meeting in Farmington, where messengers resolved to "strongly urge the Southern Baptist Convention and LifeWay Christian Resources to insure that Glorieta continues its vital ministry to the people known as Southern Baptists now and well into the future or until Jesus returns."

The resolution followed the decision one month earlier by LifeWay trustees to only offer summer events for students and to pursue "viable options for the disposition of the property."

Executive Board Chairman Lamar Morin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bloomfield, N.M., named himself to the study committee along with BCNM Executive Director Joseph Bunce, BCNM President Maurice Hollingsworth, BCNM business administrator Gerald Farley, BCNM attorney Steve Long and Bloomfield businessman George Riley. All but Farley were present April 12.

In March, Bunce issued an invitation to anyone who would like to address the committee on April 12.

"In order to do due diligence to the task that we have been assigned as a study committee concerning Glorieta's future, we truly want to hear every possible suggestion that would lead to a solution for the future of Glorieta," Bunce said, encouraging those with suggestions to bring "a written business plan."

In response to a question from Rick Sullivan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Artesia, N.M. , about the status of Glorieta, Bunce replied he had been told LifeWay would sell BCNM the property for $1, and Hollingsworth added LifeWay would require the convention to present a detailed and viable business plan.

Hal Hill, the conference center's director who was present at the meeting but did not speak, said later any plan must be one that would allow for ministry to continue at Glorieta.

Specific suggestions offered during the three-hour listening session included:

• Dividing the property into two "manageable" units, separating the campus from the residences.

• Finding new ways of encouraging people to come to Glorieta.

• Subleasing the property to a variety of Christian ministries.

• Employing a full-time sales staff to "aggressively" encourage people to attend Glorieta events.

• Taking advantage of Glorieta's excellent access to water.

Admitting he has been "grief-stricken" since LifeWay's decision last September, Sullivan urged the committee first to act on New Mexico Baptists' belief that Glorieta has a viable future in reaching the next generation and then conduct an economic audit and employ a team of "economic architects" to develop a plan they could propose to the committee.

Jay McCollum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gallup, N.M., affirmed Sullivan's proposal, urging the committee to act on the conviction God has a plan and to make a commitment to carry it out, making Glorieta a viable ministry once more.

"We need to rethink throwing in the towel," McCollum said.