By Ken Camp and John Loudat
Leaseholders at Glorieta Conference Center left a July 9 meeting with the property’s new owners hopeful they will be offered better options for their interests at the 61-year-old Baptist camp in New Mexico.
The meeting included Anthony Scott, executive director of Glorieta 2.0, the property’s new owner, and David Weekley, a Houston homebuilder and chairman of the firm’s board of directors. Also present was Jerry Rhyne, vice president and chief financial officer at LifeWay Christian Resources, the former owner of the center.
Approximately 100 attended the meeting, which included several individuals and organizations with leases at the camp expressing concern about unsatisfactory options given them since LifeWay announced the sale in June, according to the Baptist New Mexican. The new owners said they learned a lot during the four-hour gathering.
“We had a good opportunity to explain our situation and the current options in more detail and to answer questions about them,” Scott wrote in a statement released to the Baptist New Mexican. “Leaseholders had a lot of questions, which we answered openly and straightforward. I don’t know that everyone agreed on every point, but we certainly understand each other’s points of views better, and we see who the lessees are.”
Weekley reportedly told leaseholders he would communicate their concerns to his board, and leaseholders could expect to receive a letter from Glorieta 2.0 within a week, participants at the meeting said.
“We are making changes and will share changes in the proposed leases with leaseholders ASAP,” Scott wrote.
Some leaseholders said they are taking a wait-and-see attitude.
“We will analyze the offer (from Glorieta 2.0) and analyze our use of the facility,” said Jill Larsen, treasurer and chief financial officer of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, whose Executive Board owns a lodge on the Glorieta property. “We will look at costs, get a good financial picture and then we will make our decision.”
Previously, Glorieta 2.0 gave leaseholders three options:
• A new 12-year lease that imposes new restrictions on the use of conference center facilities. At the end of 12 years, the leaseholder has up to six months to remove his or her home, or it becomes the property of Glorieta 2.0.
• A one-time $40,000 buyout to leaseholders with homes on the conference center property, regardless of their appraised value. Leaseholders who accept that option have 90 days to vacate after the lease goes into effect in mid-August.
• An invitation to leaseholders to donate their homes to Glorieta 2.0 as a charitable contribution.
A major concern expressed by leaseholders after they heard of the options related to the offer of $40,000, which did not consider the fair market value of each individual property.
Some longtime leaseholders also voiced concern about new restrictions included in the 12-year lease. It bars residents and their guests from conference center facilities during planned events unless they are registered for the event. It also prohibits the use of all-terrain vehicles on Glorieta property and requires leaseholders to submit to criminal background checks and complete child-safety training.
Scott said those restrictions reflect a desire to protect youth.
People who lease property were given until Aug. 15 to choose one of the options.
Ron Warren, minister of spiritual development and leadership at First Baptist Church in Plainview, Texas, attended the meeting. The Plainview church owns a cabin on leased property at Glorieta.
Warren told the Baptist New Mexican he left with “a glimmer of hope” that other options might be offered.
Glorieta Baptist Assembly opened in 1952 as Southern Baptists’ second national conference center and has been operated since then by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, which changed its name to LifeWay in 1998.
Ken Camp is managing editor of The Baptist Standard. John Loudat is editor of the Baptist New Mexican.