News Articles

Plan approved to revitalize Ridgecrest, Glorieta centers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The direction and concepts outlined in a 15-year revitalization plan for Glorieta (N.M.) and Ridgecrest (N.C.) conference centers have been approved by trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In their semiannual meeting at the agency’s Nashville, Tenn., headquarters Feb. 7-8, trustees received a report citing the condition of facilities, the ministry of the conference centers and projections for the future based on independent market research.

Among facts about the physical condition of the centers were observations that current conditions do not represent the quality and standards needed to serve and minister effectively. No new accommodations have been constructed at either conference center in 27 years, the report continued, and deferred maintenance has left deteriorated facilities and less than suitable environments.

Mike Arrington, vice president of LifeWay’s corporate affairs division, said revitalization of the centers is a key “next step in LifeWay’s total ministry as we move into the 21st century.”

He said LifeWay has addressed the challenge of growing its Christian stores ministry, updating Sunday school and other curriculum and addressing challenges in other areas of ministry.

“The time has come to provide the needed improvements and upgrades to the conference centers,” Arrington said. “The conference centers can continue to be a vital part of LifeWay, and they can grow.”

The strategic plan calls for incremental site development with review of results prior to subsequent steps of development. The first step would be $8.5 million in construction at Ridgecrest in 2000-2001, followed by a $7.8 million project at Glorieta in 2001-2002. Requests for funding will be presented to trustees for review and budget approval prior to each step.

Arrington said a 10-year fund-raising plan projected by LifeWay’s capital resource development department would provide $73 million toward the estimated $84.7 million cost through the 15th year.

“This is not a campaign but an ongoing fund-raising process for specific projects,” he said.

As conference center facilities are upgraded, Arrington said attention also will be given to strengthening programming and marketing of events.

Ridgecrest, begun in 1907, and Glorieta, started in 1952, served more than 107,000 persons in LifeWay’s 1998-99 fiscal year. Thousands of spiritual decisions have been reported at each location throughout the years, including professions of faith, rededications, commitments to full-time Christian vocations and other life decisions.

Market research identified large groups in adult conferences as the greatest ministry opportunity, but one which will require significant facilities upgrades and new development, the report indicated. Research showed 60 percent of adults interviewed want standard lodging and amenities equivalent to hotels such as Hampton Inns; 35 percent want economy housing offered by Motel 6 and others; and 5 percent want premium accommodations. Arrington said the best of current conference center lodging is equivalent to economy commercial housing.

Among requirements cited for serving adult conferences with quality are multiple medium-sized conference rooms, many small break-out rooms, state-of-the-art audiovisual and communications equipment, exhibit space, banquet space and varied food options, indoor/outdoor recreation, airport access, on-site transportation for handicapped persons and commercial quality lodging.

He emphasized that youth conferencing will continue to be provided.

Arrington said a master site plan to be developed will identify needed new facilities, refurbishing some existing facilities to meet “economy” needs, removal of some structures and conference space provided from a combination of remodeled existing space and new space for optimum configuration of room sizes and types.

The master plan will be presented to trustees for consideration at their September meeting.

In other matters, trustees:

— approved a 3.5 percent rate increase for conference centers from Oct. 1, 2002 through Sept. 30, 2003. The projection of future rates allows the conference centers to work in advance with meeting planners on future events.

— Heard a report from Ted Warren, executive vice president and chief operating officer, about electronic ministries, including growth of LifeWay Christian Stores Internet store, church resources order forms available at LifeWay’s website, Sunday School for a New Century information at www.lifewaysundayschool.com and downloadable music at www.lifeway.com/musicministries.

Warren said LifeWay’s presence on the Internet offers churches “LifeWay resources at their fingertips.”

— received a report of new books to be released by Broadman & Holman in the coming months, including the June 1 publication of “Payne Stewart: The Authorized Biography” by the late golfer’s wife, Tracey.

— received a project update from LifeWay Christian stores, including plans for new stores this year in Cary, N.C.; Dothan, Ala.; and Fort Worth, Texas. Relocations are planned for established stores in Mobile, Ala., and Tampa, Fla.

— approved the launch in December 2000 of a monthly health magazine as part of the LifeWay Wellness Plan. They also received reports that “Church Administration” magazine will move from a monthly to a quarterly publication with the Winter issue, 2000-2001, and “Let There Be Praise,” a dated curriculum magazine, will cease publication effective Fall 2000.

— heard a report from Gene Mims, president of the LifeWay church resources division, about the priority of providing resources to support churches in sharing the gospel. “We’re marshaling all our forces on church transformation. Through FAITH, we’ve got an army of people knocking on doors. It’s not that people [without Christ] don’t listen. It’s that they’ve never heard. They’re ready to hear whenever we’re ready to go.”

— elected as trustee chairman Bruce Robinson, senior pastor of West Lonsdale Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn., and as recording secretary, Phil Neighbors, co-pastor of Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif., and re-elected as vice-chairman Ben Rowell, pastor of First Baptist Church, Rogers, Ark.

— recognized six trustees rotating off the board in June and presented a distinguished leadership award to Roy Edgemon, director of the discipleship and family group who retires April 1.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis