SANTA FE – A deal to sell the Glorieta Conference Center east of Santa Fe to New Mexico Baptists has fallen through, but another potential suitor – a California Christian university – has emerged as a possible buyer of the 2,100-acre property.
Both LifeWay Christian Resources, owner of the scenic campus, and the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, which was interested in purchasing the property, released statements Monday announcing that a plan for the state Baptists to buy the facility for a nominal $1 had collapsed.
Lamar Morin of Bloomfield, chairman of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s executive board, said that the offer was rejected because a task force formed to consider the purchase found there would be more to the sale than the $1 price. Another condition of the sale was for BCNM to present a viable business plan to operate the center as a ministry.
“Based on its inspection of the property, the task force determined that a viable business plan needed to include deferred maintenance of $10 million to $20 million,” Morin said. “Accordingly, the task force advised Lifeway that it could not proceed further with the acquisition unless LifeWay agreed to indemnify BCNM for any environmental liability and litigation liability.”
Lifeway, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, acknowledged last fall that the Glorieta campus could be sold. It reduced operations, closed a Lifeway store on the campus and announced layoffs, reducing the staff from 23 to seven.
Another potential buyer now is Olivet University, a San Francisco-based school currently renting facilities at Glorieta for use by 200 Olivet students, faculty and staff.
The potential sale to Olivet includes provisions that would still allow Baptists some use of the facility, a landmark along Interstate 25 which has been in operation since 1952.
Aside from the university’s presence at Glorieta, there is another tie between Olivet and New Mexico: Its president is William Wagner, an Albuquerque native who served as pastor at Hermosa Baptist Church from 1961-1965.
He also was a professor of missions at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary and served as second vice president for the Southern Baptist Convention. He ran as president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008, but placed fourth in a field of six.
According to its mission statement, Olivet University “is an institution of biblical higher education dedicated to training ministry-bound men and women as biblical scholars and leaders, and to equipping them with the practical skills to preach the Gospel effectively into and after the ‘network generation’ – thus priming them to revolutionize the world through Christian mission.”
However, an article that appeared on the front page of Monday’s Nashville Tennessean – Lifeway is based in Nashville – raised questions about the school and its founder, the Rev. David Jang, who is no longer associated with the university.
According to the Tennessean, Jang is a controversial minister who has been the subject of heresy investigations in Asia. The investigations have dealt with claims that Jang’s followers taught that Jang was the second coming of Jesus and that he once had ties to Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal