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LifeWay trustees welcome president, approve new VP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources welcomed Thom S. Rainer as the company’s ninth president, named a new vice president and executive associate to the president, and designated retired president James T. Draper Jr. as president emeritus during their semiannual meeting Feb. 6-7.

Rainer presided over his first trustee meeting, setting an ambitious agenda for the 115-year-old organization in the days ahead.

Trustees approved a recommendation to name Tom Hellams vice president and executive associate to the president, effective immediately. Hellams will serve as chief coordinating staff member of the executive management team and serve the president in strategic denominational and related external roles.

Since 1997 Hellams had served as executive assistant to the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

The trustees also adopted a resolution designating retired LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. president emeritus “in recognition of the exemplary service performed during his tenure at LifeWay, and awarded in anticipation of his future service to LifeWay.” Draper will continue to take a leadership role in the company’s $29 million major-donor campaign called “A Defining Moment.” The position is unpaid and does not confer employee or officer status.

LifeWay’s divisional leaders filed the following reports:

— Finance and business services.

Vice President Jerry Rhyne reported that LifeWay’s fiscal 2005 revenues reached a record $432.7 million, and that LifeWay experienced a strong first quarter of the new fiscal year with revenues of $115.2 million, more than $10 million above revenues for the same period last year.

As of Dec. 31, 2005, LifeWay’s full-time equivalent employee count was 2,737, nearly 400 below budget. Rhyne said the variance was due to lower temporary staffing in LifeWay Christian Stores, and delays in hiring in the church resources and Broadman & Holman divisions.

Finally, Rhyne said LifeWay has used $4.3 million of reserve funds to aid the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita out of the $6 million trustees approved last September.

— Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Vice President Ken Stephens reported that the division missed its revenue target for fiscal 2005 by 10 percent, but reduced costs to provide a positive contribution. Bibles led sales for the year.

Stephens said B&H has made recent personnel changes and developed new strategies in sales, marketing, product development and operations. The division will track new markets and new opportunities such as investing in backlist and special packaging. New products in 2006 will include: “Teen Virtue 2” by Vicki Courtney; “A Simple Church” by LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer; “Spirit Warriors 2” by Stephen Baldwin; and “A Threat to Justice: The Justice Riders, Book Two” by Chuck Norris.

Holman Bible Outreach International, established last year to facilitate the translation, production and distribution of affordable Bibles and Scripture portions around the world, is working with the Asian Bible Society to produce a Chinese translation. HBOI also is printing the Holman Christian Standard Bible for Africa in conjunction with Oasis International. B&H also has launched a new commitment to academic publishing through B&H Academic.

— Corporate affairs.

Vice President Mike Arrington presented an overview of the building projects completed and underway at Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers and reported that Glorieta’s first-quarter revenue grew 23 percent over the same period last year. Several thousand spiritual decisions have been made at the conference centers over the past year, and registrations for Camp Ridgecrest for Boys and Camp Crestridge for Girls are up significantly over last year.

Arrington also outlined LifeWay’s three-year major donor campaign, “A Defining Moment,” designed to raise $29 million. Retired LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. is leading the campaign to raise funds for global ministry projects such as Share Jesus Without Fear and the Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge; local and international discipleship projects; the True Love Waits abstinence campaign; and Holman Bible Outreach International.

— LifeWay Christian Stores.

Vice President Mark Scott reported a strong start to 2006, in spite of the fact that the Southeast, where many LifeWay Christian Stores are located, continues to recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. All but one of the 12 LifeWay Christian Stores closed due to the hurricanes have reopened, including the recently reopened Gulfport store that sustained the most damage. While the LifeWay Christian Store on the campus of New Orleans Seminary remains closed, plans are under way to reopen the store in upcoming months.

In 2005, LifeWay Christian Stores opened four new stores and relocated three for enhanced local ministry. Scott also reported increased sales of LifeWay gift cards. Kids, gifts, reference, Spanish and books were the strongest-growing product lines for the first quarter of 2006.

— Technology.

Vice President Tim Vineyard reported that revenues from online resources continue to grow, including from online catalogues and advertising. He also reported steady growth in unique visitors to LifeWay.com.

Vineyard said a recent highlight of LifeWay.com is the addition of the Student Ministry portal. This area’s design appeals to the target audience and maintains consistency with LifeWay’s printed products. The Student Ministry portal provides a flexible space to consolidate LifeWay’s student ministry solutions.

The division is exploring a full redesign of LifeWay.com to make it easier to navigate, and continues to work with LifeWay’s ministries to meet their online needs. Finally, Vineyard said LifeWay recently launched a special site to pay tribute to evangelist Billy Graham. The site may be accessed at www.lifeway.com/billygraham.

— Church Resources.

Vice President John Kramp said the division had a strong first quarter, with women’s ministry helping lead the way. Looking ahead to LifeWay’s ministry through the local church, Kramp quoted from 1 Chronicles 12:32, saying that LifeWay’s leaders, like the children of Issachar, need to “understand the times and know what to do.” He said the church resources division is exploring the most effective ways to reach out to people in ever-changing churches.

“We must meet the needs of the young adults who have ministry needs different from how we have traditionally done church,” he said. “We have an emerging group of senior adults -– the baby boomers –- who have a different set of expectations than our current senior adults.”

Opportunity is waiting for LifeWay, Kramp said. To meet these opportunities, “We must use the best of the past to solve a new set of church problems. We must invest to discover new solutions for church practice in the future. And we must innovate with biblical solutions that God can bless.”

This fall LifeWay will introduce a new line of Sunday School resources dubbed “Bible Studies for Life,” designed specifically for four sets of adults: young married couples, parents, empty nesters and retired adults, Kramp said.

— LifeWay International.

Director Luis Aranguren reported that LifeWay International granted 151 new licenses for translations during 2005. There currently are 1,784 active licenses in 102 languages and dialects for LifeWay products. Some of the biggest gains in licensing and distribution were made with LifeWay Canada. To date LifeWay has 299 international volunteer consultants from 36 countries.

During 2005, LifeWay international conducted 674 workshops and trained 67,117 pastors and leaders from 7,955 churches in 33 different countries, bringing the five-year total to 3,137 workshops, 275,003 pastors and leaders trained from 43,370 churches in 61 countries.

Aranguren said that in 2005 there were 145 LifeWay mission volunteers who participated in 12 mission trips, leading 17,306 people to faith in Christ and starting 19 churches.

Trustees approved LifeWay’s response to numerous motions presented during recent annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention, including:

— A commitment to continue evaluating resources for single parents based on the needs of churches, developed on the foundation of God’s Word and the doctrinal guideline of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

— A commitment to keep churches the top priority for LifeWay resources and to ensure that churches receive the lowest available price on products.

— An initiative to create a contract position to research and provide information for effective church-based ministries to homosexuals.

— An affirmation that LifeWay will continue to give GuideStone Financial Resources fair consideration as a provider for LifeWay.


— Trustees granted LifeWay the authority to sell 119 acres of non-strategic land across the interstate from LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico, as well as three small parcels of property at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.

— Trustees approved an increase of up to 4.4 percent in the price of Sunday School resources, effective spring 2007, to offset increased production costs, and shipping and processing costs.

— Trustees approved Bill Henard, senior pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., to serve as chairman of the trustee officers, effective in September 2006. Trustees also approved Rick Evans, pastor of Dalraida Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., as vice chairman; and Ron Barber, senior account agent with Allstate, Wilmington, N.C., as recording secretary.

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