Glorieta lawsuit targets SBC, EC, LifeWay, trustees
    September 9 2013 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

    NASHVILLE – The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), its Executive Committee (EC), LifeWay Christian Resources and a long list of trustees and staff members have been named in a lawsuit over the sale of the Glorieta Conference Center to a Christian ministry, Glorieta 2.0.

    The lawsuit, filed by Kirk and Susie Tompkins of Little Rock, Ark., claims the Glorieta property located east of Santa Fe, N.M., was not properly transferred from the Executive Committee to LifeWay after the Executive Committee received it from the Baptist Convention of New Mexico in 1950.

    The Tompkins, who lease property at Glorieta, contend that the original 1950 warranty deed from the New Mexico convention remains the only deed on record in Santa Fe County, and no transfer of deed is recorded.

    The lawsuit appears to assert that LifeWay Christian Resources erred in approving the sale of the property to the Christian camping ministry Glorieta 2.0 in June because, the Tompkins contend, an affirmative vote by messengers to the SBC annual meeting is required for two consecutive years in order for a sale to commence. 

    D. August Boto, executive vice president and general counsel for the Executive Committee, said LifeWay owns Glorieta and explained that the only sale of property by an SBC entity which would require convention approval – in one meeting, not two – would be if the entity proposed to sell all or substantially all of its property.

    “This sale does not rise to that level,” Boto said.

    In a statement released to Baptist Press Sept. 5, Boto said, “We see no legal basis for the proposition that Executive Committee or convention permission is required before LifeWay may dispose of the Glorieta property. We believe, therefore, that the case filed is without any legal merit, and that the court will concur.”

    Marty King, director of corporate communications for LifeWay, said in a statement that “we have proper deeds for all of Glorieta and are confident Southern Baptist Convention approval is not required for this transaction.”

    “LifeWay’s bylaws do require approval for such action by our SBC-elected board of trustees, and, LifeWay’s trustees approved disposition of the Glorieta property two years ago and the sale to Glorieta 2.0 for a Christian camping ministry earlier this year,” King said.

    The Tompkins want the sale of Glorieta, which is set to be finalized this month, to be put on hold until the SBC can vote on it in 2014 and 2015. 

    Sixty-five churches, institutions and individuals own structures on lots at Glorieta but do not own the land – a practice started in 1952 with 25-year non-renewable leases. Most of the current leases expire this fall and, if not renewed, require leaseholders to vacate the properties.

    Glorieta 2.0 has given leaseholders several options:
    • compensation based on the size of each structure, ranging from a minimum of $40,000 to a maximum of $100,000; 
    • a new 12-year lease;
    • those who have been involved in ministry, including pastors and missionaries, can become permanent residents of Glorieta and stay on campus as long as they are physically able; or
    • donation of their homes to Glorieta 2.0 as a charitable contribution.
    Leaseholders had until Sept. 1 to choose one of the options, and the vast majority of them did, according to Glorieta 2.0’s executive director, Anthony Scott.

    When LifeWay announced its trustees’ approval to sell Glorieta, it emphasized that one of the most important requirements of the sale was “that the new owners provide options that are fair, reasonable and prudent for individuals and churches that lease land at Glorieta.”

    The lawsuit contends that the options available to leaseholders are not fair or reasonable and would cause irreparable harm.

    Kirk Tompkins told the Albuquerque Journal that language referring to many of the private Glorieta residences as “cabins” is misleading to LifeWay trustees and others who aren’t familiar with the area. He said he pays insurance on his home setting its value at $382,000. 

    LifeWay trustees, at their August meeting, voted to add 140 acres to the previously announced sale of Glorieta “to provide additional incentive for Glorieta 2.0 to increase compensation to those who have built cabins and made other improvements on leased property on the campus.” Those acres are not contiguous to the main property and LifeWay had planned to market them separately.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press.)
    9/9/2013 3:08:15 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 9 comments

Ruth A King
The lease is convoluted and confusing, in my opinion, and must be viewed along with the 60 year history of Glorieta as a very stable and ethical entity. When the decision to sell was made, the lease loopholes were exploited and ethics went out the window. When all this is considered along with advertisements for a "new Glorieta" with condos and a golf course, a few years back, really make the word scam or fraud comes to mind. I say this only because home are being taken at half their value-or less. That is the crux of the problem!
9/12/2013 9:47:33 AM

Charles Goodyear
Contrary to LifeWay's public comments, it was NOT a non renewable lease. For the previous 59 years all expiring leases were renewed or LifeWay bought the home at fair market value. I signed my lease with the reasonable expectation that it would be renewed.
9/11/2013 10:21:12 AM

Becky Yarbrough
I agree with Charles Goodyear's comment above. I believe it is important that our Southern Baptist Community and others be aware of the facts of this unacceptable lease and buyout options. Why is no one telling the entire truth about the lease options or the buyout options? The fact that LifeWay is not following their own posted CORE VALUES is enough to make a strong statement!
9/10/2013 4:13:07 PM

Charles Goodyear
Daniel, it was NOT a non renewable lease. Over the previous 59 years leases were renewed or the leaseholders were paid fair market value. This "non renewable" lease characterization is a new twist on interpretation and rhetoric by LifeWay.
9/10/2013 3:54:35 PM

William Lee Tomlinson
Based on the comments above it would appear to me that both Lifeway and Glorieta 2.0 may be acting in a manner that is legal, but not ethical. Such should not be the case with these two organizations.
9/10/2013 11:38:45 AM

Karen Foster
Contrary to a previous comment, Leaseholders were always led by LifeWay administration to believe things would continue as they had in the past with renewable leases and the ability to sell when we desired. We were never told our homes were to be donated to LifeWay or any subsequent owner. We would never choose to make a charitable contribution to such a deceitful organization.
9/10/2013 11:29:37 AM

Sounds like the residents knew what they were getting into at the beginning of a "NON-RENEWABLE" lease. Good luck though.
9/10/2013 8:14:57 AM

Beverly Hodges
I can't speak for all homeowners, but those that I do know chose options because they were forced to; not because they wanted to.
9/9/2013 10:59:08 PM

Charles Goodyear
Some important facts were left out of this story.
1) The new 12-year lease gives the home to Glorieta for zero dollars at the end of the lease. Most of these homes are worth $250,000.
2) The $40,000-$100,000 buyout is based on $30 per square foot. Comparable nearby homes sell at $200+ per square foot.
Glorieta is offering pennies on the dollar.
9/9/2013 4:18:00 PM

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