LifeWay Christian Resources has announced that its board of trustees cleared the way for the sale of Ridgecrest Conference Center and Summer Camps in Ridgecrest, North Carolina.
The board voted unanimously during an April 23 Zoom meeting to authorize site visits by potential buyers which may include Southern Baptist Convention entities, Baptist state conventions and outside groups, LifeWay said in a news release.
The conference center was established in 1907.
“This was a painful decision” given the rich history and spiritual legacy the center has developed over 100 years, LifeWay CEO Ben Mandrell said in the release.
The facilities – which welcome 70,000 guests a year – continue to operate at a profit, according to an FAQ on the nonprofit’s website. However, increased costs, uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic and new organizational strategies led to the decision, Mandrell said.
“As a matter of fiscal stewardship during such an uncertain season, LifeWay must control costs and manage resources in order to continue serving local churches in the most effective way,” Mandrell said.
LifeWay will continue to host camps and events, but “we don’t need to own a hospitality facility to provide those experiences,” he said.
LifeWay made a similar move in 2013 when it sold the Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico. That sale resulted in years of ultimately unsuccessful litigation by an Arkansas couple who owned a vacation home on property leased from the center.
Mandrell said that LifeWay’s preference would be to sell Ridgecrest to a buyer who would continue to provide a Christian environment.
The facilities are currently unused and will not reopen until Buncombe County, North Carolina lifts restrictions on group gatherings, LifeWay said.