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Olivet Univ. eyes Glorieta as main campus

New Mexico Baptists turn down LifeWay offer

 

NASHVILLE, TN (BP) — The potential sale of LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center has turned from the Baptist Convention of New Mexico to a California-based Christian school, Olivet University.

The BCNM’s Glorieta Task Force has notified LifeWay Christian Resources that it is not feasible for the state convention to assume ownership of Glorieta, even for the $1 price LifeWay had set forth for the 2,100-acre site near Santa Fe.

LifeWay, meanwhile, has stated that it is considering a sale to Olivet contingent on a “comprehensive review of the theological compatibility” of LifeWay and Olivet.

Joe Westbury/Index

For years Georgia BCM summer missionaries like UGA student Todd Lee of Watkinsville have been assigned to Glorieta Conference Center to serve as staff members while honing their ministry skills. Those opportunities will draw to a close with the possible sale of the New Mexico campus but students will still be able to serve at Ridgecrest Conference Center. This photo appeared in a 2011 Index story on BCM summer missionaries.

BCNM executive board chairman Lamar Morin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bloomfield, confirmed to Baptist Press in a July 16 statement that ownership and responsibility for Glorieta would not be financially feasible for New Mexico Baptists.

“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.

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

Morin acknowledged the “deep love and devotion New Mexico Baptists” have for 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 trustees voted last fall to pursue viable options for the conference center, which opened 60 years ago. Officials cited changes in church practices, rising costs and a volatile economy in noting that Glorieta had achieved financial break-even only once in the last 25 years. Glorieta now offers only summer events for student groups, including Centrifuge camps and Collegiate Week.

LifeWay, in information provided to Baptist Press July 16, said it is working with Olivet and an evangelical third party to conduct the theological compatibility review.

During the process, LifeWay said Olivet is renting previously unused facilities at Glorieta for 200 students, faculty and staff.

Jerry Rhyne, LifeWay’s chief financial officer, declined to release specific details of the potential sale to Olivet. According to a LifeWay statement, in addition to the theological review, a potential sale to Olivet would entail:

► “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.”

A followup article on the potential sale of Glorieta to Olivet will appeat in the Aug. 9 issue of The Index.