GLORIETA, N.M. (BP) — The Christian ministry buying Glorieta Conference Center from LifeWay Christian Resources has increased options available to those who lease property for residential homes and small group facilities.
LifeWay Christian Resources announced its trustees’ approval to sell the Glorieta conference center in New Mexico on June 13, emphasizing that one of the most important requirements of the sale was “that the new owners provide options that are fair, reasonable and prudent for individuals and churches that lease land at Glorieta.”
When the options were announced in late June, a number of leaseholders questioned how “fair, reasonable and prudent” they were.
On Tuesday evening, July 9, concerned leaseholders met for nearly four hours with Anthony Scott, executive director/CEO of Glorieta 2.0 (the new owner); David Weekley, a Houston homebuilder and Glorieta 2.0’s board chairman; and Jerry Rhyne, LifeWay’s chief financial officer. Moderating the discussion was Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay.
One leaseholder, who spoke with the Baptist New Mexican newsjournal on the condition he not be named, said from his perspective that Stetzer did a good job moderating the meeting and clarifying all the points made during the lengthy discussion.
The leaseholder said Stetzer began the meeting by setting ground rules, which included that the discussion would be civil and Christ-like and that everyone would be allowed to speak without interruption.
Ron Warren, minister of spiritual development and leadership at First Baptist Church in Plainview, Texas, which owns a cabin at the conference center, said he learned some things he had not been aware of before, that good communication took place and that Glorieta 2.0 seemed to listen to the concerns voiced.
Scott, in a statement sent to the Baptist New Mexican after the meeting, said, “We had a good opportunity to explain our situation and the current options in more detail and to answer questions about them. Leaseholders had a lot of questions, which we answered openly and straightforward.
“I don’t know that everyone agreed on every point, but we certainly understand each other’s points of views better, and we see who the lessees are,” Scott said.
About 60 churches and individuals own structures on lots at Glorieta but do not own the land. In the 1950s and ’60s, leases for the properties were for 25 years, but for the past several years have been renewed annually. Most of the current leases expire this fall and, if not renewed, require leaseholders to vacate the properties.
Glorieta 2.0 sent leaseholders letters last month explaining three options to expiration but some expressed concerns in local news reports over fairness of the options. LifeWay said the new owners of Glorieta are offering leaseholders generous alternatives to expiration of their leases.
The initial three options were:
— a one-time $40,000 buyout
— a new 12-year lease that doesn’t provide any compensation but imposes new restrictions on the use of conference center facilities.
— an invitation to leaseholders to donate their homes to Glorieta 2.0 as a charitable contribution.
Following the meeting with leaseholders, Glorieta 2.0 delivered a new letter that describes enhancements to the first two options including compensation payments based on size of each structure, ranging from a minimum of $40,000 to a maximum of $100,000.
The new options also allow those who sign a new 12-year lease, but decide later they no longer want to lease at Glorieta, to be paid the agreed upon amount for improvements on a pro-rata basis. For example, after six years, a leaseholder would receive half of the compensation.
The enhanced options also allow those who are permanent residents or missionaries to stay at Glorieta as long as they are physically able to reside on the property.
Some longtime leaseholders voiced concern about new restrictions included in the 12-year lease. It bars residents and their guests from conference center facilities during planned events unless they are registered for the event. It also prohibits the use of all-terrain vehicles on Glorieta property and requires leaseholders to submit to criminal background checks and complete child-safety training. Scott told the Baptist Standard newsjournal those restrictions simply reflect a desire to protect children and youths.
The new letter to leaseholders also states, “This is a stretch for us and as far as we can go and still be able to have resources needed to revitalize Glorieta as we all desire. It includes many of the things you requested like dealing with values differently, providing more money to the lessees, providing a new plan for permanent residents and more.”
Leaseholders have until Sept. 1 to choose one of the options.
During the July 9 discussion, leaseholders expressed their gratitude for Glorieta 2.0’s ministry and a desire to be able to remain at Glorieta to help the new ministry achieve its objectives, the unnamed leaseholder said.
Glorieta Baptist Assembly opened as Southern Baptists’ second national conference center in 1952 and has been operated since then by LifeWay, formerly known as the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention until 1998.
Glorieta 2.0 was formed by a group of Christian businessmen and camping professionals associated with Camp Eagle, a Christian camp located near Rocksprings, Texas.
John Loudat is editor of the Baptist New Mexican (at www.bcnm.com), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Ken Camp, managing editor of the Baptist Standard of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Marty King, LifeWay communications director, contributed to this story.