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LifeWay trustees elect new vice president


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources elected a new vice president of research and ministry development and heard details of strong first-quarter ministry results at their semiannual meeting Feb. 12-13 in Nashville, Tenn.

Trustees approved the recommendation to establish a vice president of research and ministry development and elected Brad Waggoner to the new position, effective immediately. Waggoner, who has served as director of LifeWay Research since 2006, now also will oversee the E.C. Dargan Research Library, LifeWay International, ministry development and strategic projects. Additionally, he will serve as theologian in residence as a resource provider for LifeWay employees and as academic liaison with Southern Baptist seminaries, colleges and universities.

LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer noted three major issues facing LifeWay in his address to trustees: integrity and openness; LifeWay as a bridge builder; and the need to establish the new research and ministry development division.

Chief Financial Officer Jerry Rhyne reported that LifeWay is off to a “strong start” in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2006, with revenues near budget and expenses well under control. Divisional leaders filed the following reports:

CHURCH RESOURCES

Vice President John Kramp highlighted several new initiatives including: The Worship Project, a new digital hymnal, hardback hymnal and online worship planning portal, and a new eight-year cycle for Explore the Bible.

Kramp also reported that a revision of the “Experiencing God” discipleship course will be released in August; the “Next Generation of FAITH” evangelism resource will be released in December; and “Worship KidStyle,” a new children’s worship resource, will be ready for churches this fall.

Vacation Bible School’s two lines -– “Game Day Central: Where Heroes Are Made” and “Club VBS: Jungle Jaunt” –- have been well-received, with nearly 2,000 people attending VBS previews at Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers and in Nashville, Kramp reported.

Kramp said ministry initiatives his division is addressing more intentionally are with African American and Hispanic churches and to baby boomers as they begin moving into their senior adult years.

LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN STORES

Vice President Mark Scott reported a successful start to the new fiscal year building on strong results in 2006. In the first quarter alone, LifeWay Christian Stores served 239,000 new households and 2,023 new churches. Scott praised store associates for their “servant-hearted service” that makes each store a “spiritual oasis” for customers.

Scott highlighted the success of “Faith at Home,” an exclusive gift line that helps differentiate LifeWay from other retailers. He also noted that the stores continue to serve 154,000 ministers who receive the minister’s discount, while significant savings have been provided to customers through the LifeWay Rewards program. In addition, the stores have sold, at cost, more than 150,000 copies of “The Invitation” CD that features inspiring Christian music and a Gospel message.

Five new store projects in three states -– Alabama, Virginia and Georgia -– have been completed since September, as well as two relocations and one store closing, Scott said.

New stores are opening this month in Rogers, Ark., and Mt. Juliet, Tenn., as well as a store relocation in Lexington, Ky. Additional projects are planned for later this year, including remodels.

Scott also highlighted the division’s direct marketing efforts in which LifeWay participates with third-party suppliers to provide custom-printed offering envelopes, church buses, signs, steeples and other products.

B&H PUBLISHING GROUP

Vice President Ken Stephens reported that B&H sold 2.8 million Bibles last year and that the Holman Christian Standard Bible was the No. 1 translation in unit sales in LifeWay Christian Stores during the 2006 Christmas season. He also highlighted best-selling resources like Beth Moore’s “Praying God’s Word Day by Day”; the book “Simple Church” by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger; and the Holman Illustrated Study Bible, which has sold more than 95,000 units since its release in October.

Key product launches for 2007 include a new line of communion products called RemembranceWare; a paperback version of Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free”; “Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only” by Beth Moore; “Now You’re Speaking My Language” by Gary Chapman; “The Holman Student Bible”; and an “Apologetics Bible.” Holman Bible Outreach International also reported strong ministry results for 2006 with nearly 300,000 Bibles distributed. This year, HBOI plans numerous projects, from single-Bible donations known as “Sparrow Projects” to major Bible distribution initiatives.

FINANCE & BUSINESS SERVICES

Vice President Jerry Rhyne reported that the 100,000-square-foot expansion of the LifeWay’s Lebanon (Tenn.) Distribution Center was completed in March 2006, and the dated operations department will relocate from Nashville to the Lebanon facility by Oct. 1, resulting in a significant reduction of expenses. In addition, LifeWay has completed the purchase of some property adjacent to LifeWay’s home office in Nashville and has set aside the land for future use. Business Tennessee magazine has named LifeWay one of the top 20 Tennessee employers and will feature the company in an upcoming edition.

Rhyne also updated trustees on the current capital improvements at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center located near Asheville, N.C. The new Mt. Laurel Inn West is scheduled to open this spring and will feature 103 guest rooms, five one-bedroom suites, three conference rooms, a fitness center and a new lobby to connect the new wing with the existing Mt. Laurel hotel. Rhyne also noted the spiritual impact of LifeWay’s two conference centers, where more than 100,000 visitors each year attend a wide variety of discipleship and training events. A decision on whether to move forward with the new convention center at Ridgecrest will be made by June 1.

EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS & RELATIONS

Vice President Tom Hellams highlighted recent LifeWay activities that reached out to the Nashville community, including “A Christmas Prayer,” a musical drama featuring author and recording artist Mandisa and hosted at the historic Ryman Auditorium, in addition to the unveiling of “There’s Room at the Cross for You,” a bronze statue in tribute to the life and ministry of evangelist Billy Graham, permanently on public display at LifeWay.

Hellams also noted some new features in LifeWay’s news and information services, among them weekly podcasts at www.lifeway.com/insidelifeway; celebration of the 50th anniversary of Facts & Trends magazine; and the launch of an interactive Web version of Facts & Trends at www.lifeway.com/factsandtrends.

He also reported that three employee-led mission trips so far this year have resulted in more than 6,500 professions of faith. In addition, LifeWay International now has 628 distributors of LifeWay products in 83 countries.

TECHNOLOGY

Vice President Tim Vineyard reported on the successful on-time launch of the Oracle E-Business Suite, a state-of-the-art business system that positions LifeWay for growth in the years to come. “The scope and significance of this project are massive, and you can be proud of the stewardship demonstrated throughout the entire organization,” Vineyard said. LifeWay is now in the post-launch stabilization period. A change management team has identified more than 150 priority issues and has resolved a third of these already.

OTHER BUSINESS

Responding to a motion from the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention and referred to LifeWay that LifeWay undertake research on a number of issues affecting Southern Baptists, the trustees approved LifeWay’s response that it supports the motion and is conducting the requested research through LifeWay Research.

In a second motion from the floor of the SBC and referred to LifeWay that LifeWay Christian Stores place a store in Phoenix, the trustees approved LifeWay’s response that Phoenix remains a potential future site under consideration.

Trustees also:

— granted LifeWay the authority to exchange property in North Carolina, enabling Ridgecrest Conference Center to acquire a parcel of land near the main campus.

— approved the creation of two dated lines of worship curriculum designed to help children learn how to worship: “Worship KidStyle: Preschool Edition” and “Worship KidStyle: Children’s Edition.”
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