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Mo. conv. votes to move headquarters

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)–The Missouri Baptist Convention’s executive board has voted to construct a new convention building in California, Mo., 22 miles west of the convention’s current headquarters in Jefferson City.

The 24-16 relocation vote Dec. 10 came after a decision by the same body in October to sell the Baptist Building in Jefferson City for a maximum price of $1.7 million to a Springfield-based company.

“We [the Missouri Baptist Convention] have a lot of work ahead of us, but I am pleased that the decision is behind us,” David Tolliver, the MBC’s interim executive director, said.

“We are moving to a community that is excited about our coming. I know California to be a warm and caring community that will greet us with open arms and make us feel fully welcome,” Tolliver added.

The decision to sell the current building and relocate comes after an internal study showed that the Jefferson City structure is in need of $7 million in renovation and that in the long term it would be more cost efficient to construct a new building.

The move to California became a possibility after Kenny Vaughan of Vaughn Construction Co. of California offered to donate six acres on Highway 50 about one mile east of the city. After two months of studying the relocation proposal, members of the executive board spent less than an hour debating before the vote.

Gerald Davidson, president of the convention, said he thought an overwhelming majority of employees should favor the move to relocate.

The MBC relocation study committee surveyed 52 Baptist Building staff prior to the board meeting to determine how a move might impact them. Responses showed that 32 opposed the move, 18 were unopposed and one said it made no difference. When asked if a move to California would cause them to resign their current position, 43 responded “no,” one said “yes,” eight responded “they were not sure” or “maybe,” and three did not respond.

Tolliver said the convention would work next on raising the $3 million needed for the new building, and he would assemble a team of executive board members and professional fundraisers to begin that task. Also, he said an architect would soon be hired with a goal of moving into the completed facility within one year.

An internal study of the Jefferson City offices by the Missouri convention recommended a new building of about 40,000 square feet, compared to the current facility’s 70,000 square feet. The convention acquired what once was the Missouri Hotel and remodeled it in 1969, and staff members use only about 55,000 square feet of the building.

Messengers voted at the convention’s 2003 annual meeting to authorize the executive board to sell the Baptist Building and look for a new location. The Jefferson City headquarters also is home to The Missouri Baptist Foundation and the Missouri Baptist Credit Union. The foundation signed a 20-year lease in 1998, and both organizations will have the option of moving to California with the convention staff.

The six acres where the new headquarters will be constructed is part of a 238-acre commercial and residential development planned by Vaughan, who is a member of First Baptist Church in California. The value of the six acres is estimated at around $500,000.
Based on a report by Don Hinkle, editor of The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

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