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LifeWay trustees approve record budget, receive plans for Ridgecrest revitalization

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a record operating budget for 2000-01, approved major capital expenditures and reviewed plans for the first phase of building construction in revitalizing LifeWay’s conference centers.

The operating budget of $418,895,000 was approved during the Sept. 11-12 meeting, along with fixed assets expenditures of $40,330,000.

Ted Warren, chief operating officer and executive vice president, told trustees the agency’s budget takes into account an expectation of strong revenue growth.

Warren also reported to trustees that projected revenue for the agency’s 1999-2000 fiscal year ending Sept. 30, is $372,184,000, exceeding the budget of $362,668,000 by $9.5 million or 2.6 percent. The increase is 11.6 percent above the previous year’s revenue. Funds provided from operations, money for reinvestment in ministry expansion after all expenses have been paid, are expected to be 3.3 percent, compared to a budgeted 2.9 percent.

In addition to financial accountability, Warren urged trustees to “hold us accountable for having a right heart, one that loves the Lord and cares about people; for our minds, experts at what we do; and for our spirit. If you don’t experience the Holy Spirit when you are with us, you need to hold up your hand and tell us.”

Major fixed assets expenditures include funding of new information software systems to enable LifeWay Christian Stores to more effectively serve customers; furnishings for a renovated area of the Nashville complex; and the first year of construction on a hotel and conference facility at Ridgecrest, N.C.

They also authorized additional funding for the Nashville facilities master plan, designed to meet space needs through 2015. It includes funds to relocate and equip a new undated distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn., completed earlier this year; construction of a parking garage, cafeteria, circulation corridor and new main entrance for the Nashville campus; remodeling and equipping former distribution space for office use; and remodeling existing office space in three buildings.

In reporting on the first building project in a 15-year revitalization plan for LifeWay’s national conference centers at Glorieta (N.M.) and Ridgecrest (N.C.). T. Michael Arrington, vice president of LifeWay’s corporate affairs division, said the goal is “to spiritually transform lives in increasing numbers” and to lead the centers “to become the premier Christian conference centers in America.”

Calling the first construction of guest housing in 27 years at either location “historic,” Arrington told trustees LifeWay will ultimately construct more new guest accommodations, conference and meeting space; update existing facilities; enhance service and ministry; implement best practices in operations; and plan and market spiritually transforming conferences and events.

In August, LifeWay announced a centralized organization with top leadership based in Nashville as the first major step in total revitalization of the two conference centers. Under the new structure, the centers will be operated as one organization with facilities at two locations. Comprehensive sales and marketing plans have been developed, Arrington said, and master facilities plans are progressing.

Step one of construction at Ridgecrest will begin with an investment of $8.5 million during fiscal 2001 and 2002, for a 120-room hotel, conference space for 1,200 persons and 100 additional parking spaces. Hotel rooms typically will feature two queen-size beds and private baths. Conference space will include an amphitheater, classrooms and a large assembly room with seating for approximately 900 persons or banquet seating for 560 persons.

Arrington said the revitalization, to be done incrementally and alternating between the Glorieta and Ridgecrest locations, “will be an asset to LifeWay, but more importantly to the lives of those who use them.”

In other reports:

— Ken Stephens, president of the Broadman & Holman division, reported that 3.8 million Bibles and 3.4 million trade books had been published during the 1999-2000 year. He said the Holman Christian Standard Bible New Testament will be released in early 2001, as well as copies of the HCSB Here’s Hope New Testament, an inexpensive version, without notes, designed to be used in evangelistic efforts.

— Mark Scott, president of the LifeWay Christian Stores division, attributed “a magnificent year” to a successful combination of “bricks and mortar stores, direct marketing and e-commerce.” New stores were opened in Dallas; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Brandon and Pensacola, Fla.; Dothan, Ala.; and Cary, N.C. Scheduled to open in September are locations in Conyers, Ga., and Fort Worth, Texas. Acquisitions during the year included stores in Longview, Texas, and Monroe, La. Relocated stores included Mobile, Ala.; Memphis (South), Tenn., and Tampa, Fla. Twelve new stores are scheduled to open in the coming year, during which the national chain will celebrate 75 years of operation.

— Tim Vineyard, director of LifeWay’s e-business group, said LifeWay “is well-positioned to use its content to leverage the Internet for ministry.” He said while Internet ministry and evangelism are in the early stages, lifewaystores.com, lifewayonline and the online ordering function at lifeway.com are providing channels to provide ministry resources. “God’s plan for technology is the Great Commission,” Vineyard said. “We understand what God knew all along-the world is within our reach.”

— Luis Aranguren, director of the international department, said in its two years of existence the department has conducted 300 leadership workshops in 20 countries, involving 10,000 leaders. LifeWay resources are now available through local distributors in more than 60 countries.

Reporting on a recent conference in his native Cuba, Aranguren said, “We’re getting to places that humble my heart.”

— Gene Mims, president of the LifeWay Church Resources division, said first quarter sales of Sunday School for a New Century curriculum exceeded goals by 1 percent.

Reporting on a division change process currently underway, Mims said during his tenure at LifeWay “the 70 percent of churches plateaued and declining haven’t changed. We’ve got to quit talking to churches and start listening. I think it’s time to put the gospel armor on and get ready to go.”

In other matters, trustees approved the deletion of the summer quarters of Children’s Music Series (Music & Me, Music Makers, and Young Musicians), effective Summer 2002 due to the widespread practice of churches disbanding children’s choirs in the summer.

They also received reports deleting The Youth Disciple curriculum effective Summer 2001; redesigning Estudios B’blicos Alumnos into two books effective Fall 2001, and renaming titles of nine Sunday School curriculum publications in Spanish to better describe the content and purpose of the materials.

Trustees also received a report changing the name of National Student Ministry to National Collegiate Ministry to better communicate the target group of single, undergraduate and 18- to 27-year-old collegians.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo titles: RIDGECREST REVITALIZATION, RIDGECREST SITE MAP, RIDGECREST HOTEL.

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  • Charles Willis