By John Loudat
Around 30 people from New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma gathered April 12 at Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s building to offer suggestions for the future of Glorieta Conference Center.
They met at invitation of an ad hoc committee created in January to explore “the future and possibilities of Glorieta,” LifeWay Christian Resources’ conference center near Santa Fe.
Last fall, during the BCNM’s annual meeting, messengers resolved to “strongly urge the Southern Baptist Convention and LifeWay Christian Resources to insure that Glorieta continues its vital ministry to the people known as Southern Baptists now and well into the future or until Jesus returns.”
The resolution came one month after LifeWay trustees voted to cut back operations and pursue “viable options for the disposition of the property” at Glorieta.
State convention President Maurice Hollingsworth told the Albuquerque audience the committee was in a “fact-finding mode” to consider all possible options for what to do with the property.
BCNM Executive Director Joseph Bunce said he had been told that LifeWay was willing to sell the New Mexico convention the property for $1, and Hollingsworth added that LifeWay would require the convention to present a detailed and viable business plan.
Five of the seven individuals who presented proposals own residences located on land they are leasing from Glorieta.
Specific suggestions offered during the three-hour listening session included:
— Dividing the property into two “manageable” units, separating the campus from the residences.
— Finding new ways of encouraging people to come to Glorieta.
— Subletting the property to a variety of Christian ministries.
— Employing a full-time sales staff that would “aggressively” encourage people to attend.
— Taking advantage of Glorieta’s excellent access to water.
Rick Sullivan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Artesia, N.M., and a former state convention president, urged the committee first to act on New Mexico Baptists’ belief that Glorieta has a viable future in reaching the next generation and then to conduct an economic audit and employ a team of “economic architects” who could develop a plan they could propose to the committee.
“We need to rethink throwing in the towel,” said McCollum, whose pastoral predecessor in the pulpit at Gallup was the late Harry P. Stagg, who served as executive director of New Mexico Baptists from 1938 until 1968.
Stagg, remembered as the most important Southern Baptist in New Mexico history when he died in 2000 at 101, led the BCNM to purchase the original property at Glorieta in 1947 and deed it three years later to LifeWay’s predecessor, the Sunday School Board, “with the intent that a great Baptist training center would be established and maintained in the West.”
Former New Mexican Bill Lawson of Collinsville, Texas, urged New Mexico Baptists to work with neighboring state conventions to keep Glorieta alive. “Glorieta must not die!” said Lawson.