News Articles

LifeWay trustees remember 9/11, adopt record budget of $446M

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention commemorated the one-year anniversary of the terrorism attacks on America as they completed their semiannual meeting Sept. 10.

In their two-day meeting at Ridgecrest (N.M.) Conference Center, they also announced no dated literature price increases for 2003 while adopting a record operating budget and heard progress of the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation.

Last year on Sept. 11, LifeWay trustees and employees were seeking alternate ways home as the airline industry shut down following the terrorist attacks. This year, in a special service in the new Rutland Chapel, LifeWay employees and trustees observed the anniversary with prayer and worship.

On Tuesday evening at the conclusion of the meeting, trustees approved a 2003 operating budget of $446,586,000, along with capital expenditures of $23,641,000.

Ted Warren, chief operating officer and executive vice president, told trustees the budget reflects “a good indication people accept and value LifeWay products.”

Warren also reported projected record revenue of $422,542,000 for the entity’s 2002 fiscal year, ending Sept. 30. The projected total exceeds 2001 revenue by $20,100,000, but will be under the budget of $437,124,000 by $14.6 million or 3.3 percent.

In 2002, funds provided from operations — money for reinvestment in ministry expansion after all expenses have been paid — are expected to be $14,148,000 or 3.3 percent of revenue compared to a budgeted 2.6 percent.

“For a company to go up nearly 5 percent or almost $20 million from fiscal year 2001 to 2002 in this economy and remain profitable to the extent we have is really a blessing from God,” he said.

Capital expenses, Warren said, will include $23.6 million for Nashville facilities, LifeWay Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center upgrades, LifeWay stores expansion and software to integrate business technology and new automated warehouse equipment. Warren also urged trustees to become involved in the integrity of LifeWay by holding it accountable to its vision.

In reporting about the year since the Oct. 1 church resources reorganization, Gene Mims, president of the division, told trustees, “The transition has gone beyond my expectations and positioned us for the upcoming year.”

He said that more than ever the emphasis of the church resources area is to champion the pastors, grow the churches and grow the ministry.

Mims announced there would be no price increase on church resources’ dated literature for 2003-2004.

He also distributed a list of church resources dated materials that would change, either by deletion, combination with other materials or move to online. Included in those are the leadership magazines “Church Administration,” “Growing Churches” and “Minister’s Family,” all of which will cease to be published individually, but will be combined into a new periodical tentatively to be called “Leading Churches.”

In reporting on progress in translation and publishing of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Ken Stephens, president of the Broadman & Holman division, said all of the Old Testament books have gone through a first and second draft. The New Testament, plus Psalms, Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, are completed and in stores, he said.

“Additionally, we have 51 percent of the Old Testament in final drafts, and six books are totally finished,” Stephens said.

He said the finished Old Testament manuscript is expected by July 2003, with the final completed Bible available in spring 2004.

Some of B&H’s top-selling products in 2002 include the new Oliver North novel, “Mission Compromised,” and three Beth Moore books, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things,” “Praying God’s Word” and “Jesus the One and Only.”

Meanwhile, Stephens said, North is traveling by bus on a 58-city tour to promote his book, the first in a three-book deal he signed with B&H.

“Ollie is a great promoter, and we are thrilled about that,” Stephens said, noting North would sign books in 73 locations during the September bus tour. “Mission Compromised” has made The New York Times and Amazon best-seller lists and received national media attention, he added.

Trustees gave the go-ahead for LifeWay to study a land development plan for LifeWay Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center. The plan includes evaluating the possibility of using 600 of Glorieta’s 1,600 undeveloped acres of land as a residential/golf community, said Mike Arrington, vice president of the corporate affairs division.

“The purpose of this plan is for LifeWay to be a good stewards of the underutilized land in order to fund future development and ministry at Glorieta,” he said.

Trustees approved a revised 10-year conference center revitalization plan that enables the Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers to continue their ministry into the 21st century. Arrington said the plan would significantly lower the capital investment required from LifeWay.

LifeWay conference centers hosted 92,000 guests this year and 1,200 campers, with more than 2,300 spiritual decisions made, Arrington reported, adding that 341 volunteers had given 58,234 hours of service.

He presented to trustees a new LifeWay logo, with the word LifeWay in red and a tag line that reads “Biblical Solutions for Life.”

“The new logo will strengthen our identity among individuals and churches who need quality Christian resources for ministry,” Arrington said.

Mark Scott, president of LifeWay Christian Stores, said the national chain reached 110 stores in 2002 and will add five more stores in 2003. Stores opened in 2001-02 included Clarksville, Tenn.; Macon, Ga.; Temple, Texas; Rocky Mount, N.C; and Columbus, Ga. Before the end of 2002, Scott said, new stores will open in Beaumont, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La.

The 2,800 store employees serve customers in unique ways, Scott said, recounting a story of an associate who volunteered to play the piano at the funeral of a customer’s father. Even though the store associate had only met the customer once, she volunteered to play at the funeral because she couldn’t find the sheet music the customer wanted for her father’s services, he said.

“Our employees have a commitment to go a second mile and be servant-hearted,” Scott said. “This really exemplifies the heart of where our people are right now.”

He told trustees the LifeWay stores’ customer services ratings remain strong, scoring on average 4.5 on a 5-point scale.

Tim Vineyard, vice president of LifeWay’s technology division, told trustees, “Customer intimacy is what I want to have at the heart of our technology division.”

In talking about the accomplishments of the division, Vineyard said, “We need to measure ourselves against the best in the world. That is our goal.”

Describing LifeWay’s website, www.lifeway.com, as “our external portal to the world,” Vineyard said that in July 2001 there were 3 million page views. In July of this year, that had jumped to 5.2 million.

Vineyard said as of Sept. 10 more than 14,000 people have registered for the online Bible study, “Believing God,” by Beth Moore. “There are people from all around the world signed up for this study,” he said.

Luis Arangueren, director of LifeWay’s international department, said that in the past four years 167 international consultants from 31 countries have been trained.

“I stand before you today filled with humility before God,” he said. “What I show you is something I can’t explain. God did it.”

“So far this year, we have invested 1,167 hours to conduct 288 leadership workshops to train 57,428 pastors and leaders from 4,811 churches in 28 different countries,” Arangueren said. LifeWay now is able to offer products for sale in 81 countries where people can buy resources in their own currency, he reported, and 23 new distributors LifeWay products have been added this year.

Arangueren told trustees that in the next year LifeWay will publish three books in China for distribution in that country. “This will be our first effort to publish in China,” he said.

Trustees will next meet at LifeWay in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 10-11, 2003. They voted to meet at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center Sept. 8-9, 2003.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: RIBBON CUTTING CERMONY and MOUNTAIN LAUREL INN.

    About the Author

  • Polly House & Terri Lackey