GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–In a day of meetings overshadowed by terrorism attacks on the United States, trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention completed their semiannual meeting Sept. 11, adopting a record operating budget for 2002.
In their two-day meeting at LifeWay Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center, they also approved major capital expenditures and reviewed a master plan for the revitalization of Glorieta facilities.
However, before the morning session began, trustees learned of the hijacking of commercial flights that crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As committees met, they were provided the latest information from television networks. Trustees met for a time of prayer at their morning break. Prayer times were held again as part of the afternoon and evening plenary sessions.
With uncertainty about when commercial flights would resume, a charter busload of LifeWay employees and a few trustees departed Glorieta the night of Sept. 11 for an 18-hour trip to Nashville, Tenn. Other trustees chose to drive to their homes or wait a day to see if flights became available.
LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. urged pastors among the trustees to begin immediately studying and preparing their sermons for Sunday, Sept. 16.
“You may never have prepared a more important message in your ministry,” he said. “This has been probably the most distracting day we could ever imagine.”
Meanwhile, trustees approved the 2002 operating budget of $437,125,000, along with capital expenditures of $35,755,000.
Ted Warren, LifeWay’s chief operating officer and executive vice president, told trustees the agency’s budget reflects growing expenses, including staffing the new organization of the LifeWay church resources division and technology costs.
Warren also reported projected record revenue of $404,581,000 for the agency’s 2001 fiscal year, ending Sept. 30. The projected total exceeds 1999 revenue by $20,746,000 but will be under the budget of $418,895,00 by $14.3 million or 3.4 percent. Funds provided from operations, money for reinvestment in ministry expansion after all expenses have been paid, are expected to be 3 percent, compared to a budgeted 2.9 percent.
Capital expenses, Warren said, will include a hotel under construction at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center, an enterprise system to integrate business technology for the LifeWay Christian Stores division and extensive repairs to the roof of the operations building on the Nashville campus.
Warren urged trustees to become involved in the future of the agency, asking what LifeWay will be in the years ahead.
“Can we be an organization that really changes the world,” he asked, “or is that something we just talk about? We do not want to ask God to bless our plans; we want God to give us his plan.”
In another action, trustees approved an average price increase for dated literature of 3.6 percent, effective with the spring 2002 quarter. Actual increases for churches will vary with their order.
Roland Maddox, associate to the president of the LifeWay church resources division, said this is the first overall price increase in two years.
In reporting on progress in translation and publishing of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Ken Stephens, president of the Broadman & Holman division, said five editions of the New Testament are in print, with a Reader’s Text New Testament (large print) to be published in 2002.
“We have divided the Old Testament into 178 sections for translation,” he reported. “Ninety-seven percent of the Old Testament has passed first draft, 78 percent has completed a second draft and four books are in final draft.”
Stephens said a completed Old Testament manuscript is expected by July 2003, with the final completed Bible available in spring 2004.
Mike Arrington, vice president of the corporate affairs division, unveiled a master facilities plan for LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center that includes converting existing hotels to a youth conference center, constructing five new hotels for adults, adding a chapel, expanding the dining hall to add additional food options and constructing an exhibit hall for recreation and exhibitions. The plan will be implemented over 12-15 years.
Arrington also reporting that the Rutland Chapel under construction at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center is expected to be completed in December and a new hotel will be completed in August 2002.
The two national conference centers will have ministered to 95,000 people in 2001, he said. Also, more than 2,250 spiritual decisions were registered. Almost 200 college students participated in High Point, a leadership and discipleship program. More than 300 volunteers gave 59,604 hours of service to the centers.
Mark Scott, president of LifeWay Christian Stores, said the national chain surpassed 100 locations in 2001 as it celebrated its 75th anniversary.
“Customer service ratings are at an all-time high,” he observed, “averaging 3.66 on a four-point scale in which we ask them to rate us on nine different items.” In 2000, he said, the average was 3.36.
Scott said among other achievements for the national chain were 12 new stores, two relocations and two store remodelings. Additionally, Nashville-based employees moved into new offices, consolidating staff from several locations on the Nashville campus. Collections from customers for SBC world hunger efforts exceeded $100,000.
“Our product standards are the highest they have ever been,” Scott said. “We use the Bible and the Baptist Faith and Message as our guides.”
Gene Mims, president of the LifeWay church resources division, said improving service to churches is the purpose of the 18-month division change process that will be implemented Oct. 1.
“We’re changing to focus on cultivating personal relationships with our churches,” he said. To achieve the goal, Mims said the division will need to gain a greater understanding of what churches need to grow, improve in their ability to assess needs, meet church needs better than ever before and help churches discover unexpressed needs.
“I don’t believe we can lead churches, but we sure can resource churches and we can champion them,” Mims said.
Tim Vineyard, director of the E-business group, said 1,750 churches now have websites through LifeWayLINK, a Web hosting service.
He also noted that upon learning of the terrorist attacks earlier in the day department personnel had placed 24-hour counselor resources to be easily accessible on LifeWay sites for ministers and others needing help. They also provided a list of crisis ministry resources and links to unfolding news reports.
For 2001, he said page views of LifeWay sites will have increased by 14 million, from 20 million in 2000 to 34 million this year. Also, LifeWay sites draw an average of 750,000 user sessions each month.
Luis Aranguren, director of LifeWay’s international department, said in the past three years 114 international consultants from 35 countries have been trained. “This is the network from which we draw to train churches around the world,” Aranguren said.
Also, he said LifeWay resources are available in more than 65 countries through 530 distributors.
In other actions, trustees:
— approved the formation of a LifeWay Bible society or foundation to provide, through gifts or contributions, for Broadman & Holman to make Scripture more available for ministry. In cooperation with LifeWay’s capital resource development department, Broadman & Holman would pursue formation of an entity to subsidize national and international Bible sales and distribution using a “Bible society” model.
— granted authority to sell real estate in Shreveport, La., which is the location of a LifeWay Christian Store to be relocated.
Also, trustees received information that several dated products will be deleted. These include Believe, Connecting Life and Faith, effective February 2002; One Spirit, Women in Church Leadership newsletter, summer 2002; Church Musician Today, February 2002; and Children’s Choir, Children’s Choir Pak, Children’s Choir CD, Music and Me Pak, Children’s Music Series Cassettes and Music and Me CD, all fall 2002.
The title of a Spanish periodical, Hogar Cristiano, will be changed to La Familia Cristiana, effective winter 2002.