By Ken Camp
An Arkansas couple who own a house on land leased from Glorieta Conference Center has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking a temporary restraining order or injunction to prevent the transfer of property from LifeWay Christian Resources to Glorieta 2.0.
Kirk and Susie Tompkins of Little Rock, Ark., allege LifeWay lacks authority to dispose of the conference center without the approval of messengers at two consecutive annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The legal complaint — filed Sept. 4 in the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, N.M. — asserts the original 1950 warranty deed grants the conference center property to the SBC Executive Committee, and no other transfer of deed is on record. The suit names as defendants a long list of officers and employees of the SBC Executive Committee, LifeWay and Glorieta 2.0.
Glorieta Baptist Assembly opened as Southern Baptists’ second national conference center in 1952 and has been operated since then by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, which changed its name to LifeWay in 1998.
The conference center reported financial difficulty for more than two decades, and LifeWay agreed to sell the property for $1 to Glorieta 2.0 in a deal scheduled to close this month.
The suit alleges LifeWay acted in violation of the SBC charter when its trustees voted to transfer property to Glorieta 2.0, which the court documents characterize as “a non-Baptist, non-related group of businessmen operating for profit children’s camps not legally affiliated with SBC or LifeWay.” Individuals involved in Glorieta 2.0 also operate Camp Eagle in Rocksprings, Texas.
As of Sept. 5, LifeWay had not received notice of the suit from the court, said Marty King, director of corporate communications.
“However, we are confident Southern Baptist Convention approval is not required for the transaction,” King said. “LifeWay’s bylaws do require approval for such action by our SBC-elected board of trustees. LifeWay’s trustees approved disposition of the Glorieta property two years ago and sale to Glorieta 2.0 for a camping ministry later this year.
“We will review the court document when we receive it and respond to the court.”
About 65 individuals and organizations own houses built on property leased from Glorieta.