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LifeWay store managers meet for training, inspiration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–LifeWay Christian Stores honored store managers May 1-4 during the retailer’s annual national sales meeting at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Managers gathered from LifeWay’s 87 stores across the nation for training and inspirational activities, including a Christian merchandise exposition and a laser light and computer-enhanced drama featuring Willie Aames as Bibleman, a Bible-quoting superhero for youngsters.

Speakers included NFL Titans running backs coach Sherman Smith and best-selling author Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Smith spoke on the influence of faith on the Titans and the effect of belief on behavior and attitudes. He told LifeWay store managers that “character says more these days than ability. When it comes to all things athletic being equal, the player with the better attitude and moral fortitude is going to get the job.”

Hitting upon the national gathering’s theme, “Destination: Transformation,” Cymbala urged managers to put their trust in God and commit to prayer for his provision. He testified about his church’s need for $6 million to fund a downtown worship complex, reporting that pledges for that amount came in two letters within 10 minutes on a Sunday set aside for all-day prayer at the church.

Cymbala also thanked managers for joining in his missionary efforts by placing high priority on his books, “Fresh Faith,” and “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.” The books rank first and second in sales at LifeWay. All royalties are used to fund church ministries.

He encouraged those experiencing difficult times by explaining that trials will also humble and sensitize believers to others’ needs. “When you love the people and know what they’re going through, you can minister on another level,” he said.

Music groups The Katinas, Plus One, Reliant K and Melody Joy presented special showcases during the conference and worship leader Travis Cottrell, a Nashville-based musician, led managers in devotions each morning.

During the chain’s annual awards program, Mick Houston, manager of LifeWay’s Franklin, Tenn., store, received the award for manager of the year and delivered the keynote address. In speaking about leadership issues, he urged the 90 managers to invest in the people who work in LifeWay stores.

Bruce Munns, vice president of retail operations for LifeWay, said Houston won the prestigious award based on personal leadership as well as outstanding performance in financial operational management.

Rob Stine, manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in southeast Houston, won rookie manager of the year.

Mark Scott, president of the LifeWay Christian Stores division, made a special presentation to Bill Graham, director of the national chain from 1974-92 and originator of the LifeWay name. Graham received a limited edition Thomas Kinkade print.

LifeWay also recognized stores in the following areas:

— Highest sales growth percentage, same store: Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Calif.; Fayetteville, N.C.; and Independence, Mo.

— Highest sales growth percentage, relocated/remodeled stores: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., and runner-up, Brea, Calif.

— Best operating contribution: Carterville, Ill.; Augusta, Ga.; and Jackson, Miss.

— Highest sales percent to budget, new stores: Franklin, Tenn.

The retailer’s corporate office in Nashville also recognized four employees as “Good Samaritans.” Receiving the awards, based on exceptional character and service, were Troy Donaldson, visual merchandise manager; Fonda Kopski, executive assistant to the retail president; Jim Graham, facilities specialist; and JoAnn Grosnick, staff accountant.

LifeWay Christian Stores is a leading provider of biblically based books, music, gifts, apparel and church supplies as well as Bibles and other Christian products. The chain is a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

LifeWay Christian Stores may be accessed on the Internet at www.lifewaystores.com or by telephone at 1-800-233-1123.

(BP) photos to be posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo titles: CYMBALA SHARES, BIBLEMAN and MANAGERS PRAY. Photos of managers receiving awards are being sent to state papers.

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  • Sharon Harper