Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
SBC Today Publisher
SBC Today is in our twelfth year, including four years under the leadership of Connect 316. As our Publisher, I am profoundly grateful for the superb work of our Editor, Dr. Kyle Gulledge. He is a strong conservative and a faithful Southern Baptist who provides excellent editorial leadership for our news and opinion blog. A study of our most recent fifty articles reveals the breadth of content we seek to provide here at SBC Today.
These stories are designed to bless you and challenge you in your walk with the Lord. Our most prolific devotional writer is Walker Moore of Awe Star Ministries. Others include a team of writers we republish from blogs like Theological Matters hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
These articles relate to the practical matters of Christian ministry, providing suggestions for greater effectiveness. Writers of this genre include Bill Harrell and Kara Barnette, among others.
These essays concentrate on various issues related to biblical, historical and systematic theology. Admittedly, we concentrate heavily upon soteriological concerns, primarily because it is the issue du jour in SBC life. Writers specializing in this topic include Leighton Flowers and Ronnie Rogers.
Coverage of denominational controversy is difficult to come by in Baptist Press or state Baptist newspapers. We allow writers and commenters to express their concerns rather freely. As our disclaimer indicates, we do not endorse every article or comment, but we do feel that a free press and an open exchange of ideas reveals truth and exposes Southern Baptists to a broader range of opinions than the religious press allows. Writers in this genre include yours truly and Thomas Littleton.
Whether the topic is alcohol abuse, transgender issues, or other ethical considerations Christians face today, we seek to explore these matters from the worldview of a biblical conservative. Writers include David Brumbelow and Braxton Hunter.
We can learn a great deal by looking at historical figures and even reading memorial tributes of those who have served the SBC and the cause of Christ with great distinction. Writers in this genre include Ron Hale and Tim Guthrie.
We solicit feedback because we sincerely want to offer you the kind of stories you wish to read—stories to inform, inspire, and challenge fellow Southern Baptists. Please review our research here and let us know how we may better serve you in the days ahead.
December 15, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Recent legal events of September 2017 bring clear understanding about LifeWay’s disposal of Southern Baptist Convention’s New Mexico Glorieta Conference Center asset estimated at $150 million. “Missouri Baptist Convention” as plaintiffs’ settled a corporate civil lawsuit with a Court ORDER mandating the return “Windermere Baptist Conference Center”, part of assets valued at more than $250 million to Missouri Baptist Convention. Legal parallels between the Glorieta Conference Center and Windermere Baptist Conference Center lawsuits are extraordinary tantamount [equivalent in effect or value]. Missouri Judge DeMarce set a hearing for September 18, 2017 in the Windermere lawsuit costing $10 million in legal fees paid out of cooperative program money and raging since 2001. Nine days later on September 27, 2017, Judge DeMarce held that trustees’ had failed uniquely to operate under their corporate Charter and By-Laws. The Trustees’ blatantly ignored specific provisions of their charter/by-laws requiring messengers’ approval vote during the annual meeting of Missouri Baptist Convention. The Missouri case represents a national trend germane to all Corporations required to file “Constitutions, Charters and By-Laws” to their respective States. Therefore, the Judge’s 86-page Court “ORDER” became a guide for all future Corporate litigants (defendants) failing to abide by their Charter/By-Laws with punishment remedies specifically awarded in the Missouri Case voiding all matters since 2001 and returning “Windermere Baptist Conference Center” back to Missouri Baptist Convention.
Southern Baptists, the relevant facts you should be aware of is the knowledge that LifeWay Trustees’ failed corporate charter/bylaws requirement that Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting messengers’ were never given the opportunity to vote in approval of LifeWay’s trustees’ disposal of Glorieta Conference Center, nor did messengers’ vote on the sale of LifeWay’s Nashville corporate center! At this writing, a lawsuit challenging LifeWay’s sale of Nashville headquarters has not been filed, further rumors abound that Tompkins’ litigation has been terminated. However, as Mark Twain wrote, “Reports of my death has been greatly exaggerated”, reports of Glorieta Conference Center lawsuit settlement are likewise greatly exaggerated. Glorieta Conference Center litigation remains active in Federal Court, District of New Mexico Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00460-LF-KRS.
Meanwhile a Santa Fe County, New Mexico public meeting scheduled for January 4, 2018 will present civil and criminal environmental violations at Glorieta Conference Center. This will be a major media event open to all citizens and press reporters, local and national.
Southern Baptists, be encouraged, [as set out by Executive Committee President Frank Page commentary that, [“any sale of Executive Committee buildings in downtown Nashville must be approved by Convention”], to request that a “study committee” be appointed to bring the disposal of Glorieta Conference Center before messengers’ at the 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. Justified by the truth about adherence to corporate law, the “86-page Missouri Court ORDER” returned Windermere Baptist Conference Center to Missouri Baptist Convention simply followed the law specific to the Corporate Charter, Bylaws, and Constitution. Likewise, the truth about adherence to corporate law in the 2013 Glorieta Conference Center disposal should result in prayerfully directing payment at fair market value paid to every former Glorieta homeowner, plus compensation as legal appropriation for their years of anxieties..
SBC church members are the legal “Sole Members'” of the Southern Baptist Convention having voted in place SBC president, the Executive Committee president, LifeWay president, and every SBC “Entity” president to facilitate and administrate what the “Messengers'” bring before SBC annual meetings. Messengers’ representing sole members are required under SBC corporate bylaws/charter to elect and dismiss the president of the Executive Committee, and each “Entity” president, and approve all entity trustees whose loyalty under SBC constitution is to protect SBC sole member’s interest and assets. Messengers approve budgets financed through sole member gifts, purchases, cooperative program, and endowments. Sole Members provide SBC with more than $11 Billion dollars annually. SBC Messengers must approve, as required by SBC bylaws, constitution, and articles in these legal documents constructed to provide absolute, and clear directions how SBC must legally operate. These legal documents including instructions requiring two consecutive SBC annual meetings to approve changing the name of any “SBC entity”, forming a “new enterprise”, and the right for SBC to file suit and to be sued in a court of law.
LifeWay and SBC executives, trustees, and management did not answer any of more than 10 letters from Tompkins, nor did answers arrive answering any of the several letters from other Glorieta homeowners requesting fair consideration of their property. As non-lawyers, Tompkins’ are pro Se litigants, the Latin term for “on one’s own behalf”. Tompkins continues every avenue for equitable settlement for all former Glorieta homeowners reading lengthy and cumbersome “Rules of Federal Civil Procedure”, studying literally hundreds of case law available at university’s law school libraries preparing to file court documents through federal court “Pacer” electronic filing protocol. In contrast, LifeWay hired legions’ of experienced law firms having expensive legal software giving their considerable legal staff access to anything ever printed in law records. The recent September 2017 Missouri Case is also within the current case files under civil corporate lawsuits that are assessable to the public.
Although inexperienced in the law and poorly equipped in resources Tompkins continues defending retired pastors, widows, and other Glorieta homeowners, some of whom lost their only home and entire retirement because of LifeWay’s decision to pay “Zero Dollars” to homeowners in SBC’s disposal of Glorieta Conference Center (as iterated by a Tenth Court Judge). Meanwhile, LifeWay liquidated more SBC real estate assets making way for a new commercial hotel complex in Nashville, just as LifeWay did in liquidating Glorieta Conference Center to a Texas Billionaire, a commercial builder, reducing SBC real estate assets by more than two thirds.
LifeWay followed corporate law as required by SBC charter, bylaws, and constitution for approval from the required 2-consecutive SBC convention messengers’ vote necessary to establish a new “For Profit” enterprise, LifeWay Global. LifeWay failed to disclose this vote transferred jobs to China and reduced jobs for American Christians in favor of increased profits using non-Christian Chinese workers for publishing thus requiring less building space in downtown Nashville. The shareholders of “for profit” LifeWay Global remain undisclosed protected by “Secrecy Agreements”. Will Southern Baptist Convention church Deacons be required to sign secrecy agreements in step with SBC? Why should there be any “Secrecy Agreements” within Southern Baptist Convention?
The specific articles in SBC bylaws and constitution requiring Messengers vote at two consecutive annual SBC meetings has been rigidly adhered to [when convenient?] as in changing the name Sunday School Board to LifeWay, changing the name of Golden Gate Seminary, forming a “for profit” condominium development at Glorieta, and in LifeWay forming the new entity, “for profit” LifeWay Global. Interestingly, Lifeway liquidated multi-millions of dollars of SBC real estate paid for out of cooperative program money, gifts, and purchases from SBC sole members and their churches while failing adherence to SBC constitution requiring 2-consecutive convention vote by Messengers. Many are aware that Tompkins brought these issues to the attention of Baptist executives, Entity Trustees, and Baptist state media although three Baptist state media requested deletion from email updates about Glorieta.
Tompkins continues in good faith [a law term] bringing forward “issues” that were never decided by the courts! LifeWay never disputed their public statement was false continually reprinting deceitful misrepresentations in Baptist media, “Glorieta lost money 24 of 25 years”. According to public records, LifeWay financial statements filed in court documents are evidence-proving LifeWay statement “Glorieta lost money 24 of 25 years” is a fabrication. LifeWay never disputed Thom Rainer’s address to SBC 2014 annual meeting was not true, claiming “Glorieta was worth multi-millions of dollars, but we sold it for $1.00 to keep Glorieta from becoming a casino”, but another fabrication. Glorieta is not on Indian land nor is Glorieta approved by Bureau of Indian Affairs Department of the Interior to become a casino. Court documents tell a different story compared to LifeWay sanctioned misleading media accounts. Inside informants and affidavits report that in 2006 Thom Rainer was making plans to dispose of Glorieta, that LifeWay sucked all the money out of Glorieta to acquire more bookstores, that LifeWay limited number of operating days and staff attempting to show losses at Glorieta. In spite of LifeWay’s behind the scene efforts, SBC published financial records confirm “Revenues from Conference Centers” remained consistent at $15 million. While LifeWay continued to lay off staff dwindling down to less than half a dozen Glorieta employees reporting lack of participant interest attending Glorieta, within only months after Glorieta 2.0 began to operate Glorieta Conference Center renamed Camp Glorieta, 70 new staff were living in former Glorieta homeowner residences. Failure to follow corporate laws i.e., SBC charter, bylaws/constitution with no convention investigation of any issue about disposal of Glorieta leaves SBC Messengers’ largely uninformed with only a few alarmed by the truths supported with evidence in court documents.
Southern Baptists, you have authority to demand an internal committee review of LifeWay financial records supported by requiring an independent audit. SBC Pastors’ and Messengers’ largely have no factual knowledge about the LifeWay disposal of Glorieta Conference Center. Pastor and Glorieta homeowner John Yarbrough addressed the 2014 SBC annual meeting asking for fair value for Glorieta homeowners. SBC attendees’ applause to Thom Rainer’s 2014 convention prevarication, that LifeWay’s disposal of Glorieta Conference Center saved Glorieta from becoming a casino, confirms Messengers are uninformed of facts about LifeWay’s disposal of Glorieta Conference Center!
Glorieta campus homes are now part of an illegal unlicensed commercial development under state and federal government investigations and occupied by non-Baptist Glorieta 2.0 staff as part of their annual compensation. Fellow Christian homeowners, who are also sole members of SBC, evicted from their Glorieta homes continue to suffer financially from their losses at Glorieta, and suffer from the psychological shock that SBC leadership they fully trusted had failed them. Tomkins’ continuing legal litigation seeks only to require SBC/LifeWay to pay fair market compensation to Glorieta homeowners. Thom Rainer is quoted; “We had every legal right” to evict Glorieta homeowners and his lawyers are being well paid (estimated to be over $2-Million to date) to keep Tompkins from bringing these issues before a jury. Perhaps “moral right” is no longer vogue in such thinking!
There are hundreds of lawyer members of Baptist Churches learned in the law who can explain all of this far better than Tompkins laymen’s understanding of the law. Certainly, the Missouri Court Judge understood, having taken time specifically to read the corporate Constitution, Bylaws and Charter. Tompkins continues to hear from inside informants, deacons, pastors, and fellow church members that it is politically unpopular to support Glorieta homeowners’ regardless of their tragic treatment by LifeWay. Even as truth about Glorieta is slowly spreading in Baptist circles, Pastors have expressed concern their support of Glorieta homeowners might result in not getting a positive SBC recommendation for their next pastorate opportunity, or their book rejected by LifeWay publishers.
Regardless of any success Tompkins may have in bringing this case before a jury, the voices of SBC messengers’ at the 2018 annual meeting as the “owners” the “sole members” have legal responsibility and the legal right, and hopefully bold determination to investigate the events at Glorieta and restore SBC creditability. LifeWay President Thom Rainer proclaimed LifeWay had every legal right to dispose of Glorieta Conference Center but the Missouri Court ruled otherwise in the Windermere Baptist Conference Center lawsuit citing failure to follow corporate law requiring annual meeting messengers’ vote to approve trustee’s vote. The 65 families evicted from Glorieta are fellow Christians, who are also sole members of SBC. LifeWay destroyed their lives, finances, and SBC’s witness.
Southern Baptists, what action would you favor if your fellow church members or if your mom had lost their life savings and home at Glorieta because of LifeWay? Your bold action can right this immoral justice! Caution, you will be extremely unpopular with many of your peers, as was Christ in his last days! Wipe away the stain LifeWay has splashed upon all things SBC in their decision to get out from under known environmental violations resulting from LifeWay’s failure to properly manage Glorieta. These environmental violations are a result of government agency civil and criminal investigations. Baptist Convention of New Mexico mentions environmental issues in their rejection of LifeWay’s $1.00 offer to own Glorieta Conference Center. (See earlier reference to the January 4, 2018 meeting held by government agency.)
Tompkins is no Homer Cummings (for those learned in the law), but as the Glorieta Conference Center enters its fifth-year of Litigation, the U.S. Federal Courts NEVER ruled against Tompkins for the CLAIMS Tompkins brought before the Court. Court rulings are ONLY against the Tompkins “having Standing” as non-lawyers to sue because the Tompkins did not originally file litigation only for themselves, but attempted JUSTICE for “ALL” of the Glorieta Leaseholders. Tompkins re-filing includes only the Tomkins’ family and should this action take 15 years as the Missouri Case, so be it!
Who has time for dispassionate analysis, for methodical research and a reading of the founding fathers SBC charter, bylaws, and constitution? Missouri Judge DeMarce found time in writing his 86-page opinion. Will a New Mexico Court come to a similar conclusion?
“Judge DeMarce’s decision is encouraging, clear, and conclusive,” said John Yeats, Missouri Baptist Convention executive director. “Churches, conventions, and ministries across the country will benefit from these rulings. In response to biblical principles, Missouri Baptists want to be faithful stewards of the ministries entrusted to us, which were grown with generations of Cooperative Program giving.”
Be encouraged to stand and deliver moral justice before the 2018 SBC annual meeting with appointments of independent and internal committees whose investigations should be assigned to independent discovery of facts about Glorieta!
After serving in the Marine Corps in North Carolina, I have often pondered why my home state of Michigan has such an abysmal Southern Baptist presence. When I lived in North Carolina we would often joke about the numerous Southern Baptist churches, saying “you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting three of them!” Yet you can live your entire life in a Michigan town and never have one person talk to you about the Roman Road.
How do I know? I grew up in a small Michigan town and it wasn’t until I was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, that I had my first encounter with a Baptist who lived like an evangelist. This is what is at stake. Michigan and states like it can either become Gospel powerhouses, or choose to doom endless generations to birth and death where the message of “salvation by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone” will never be delivered to them. Apart from Southern Baptists, communities are gridlocked by “sacraments” of other denominations and the “grace + works” theologies of others that rob people of the power of the Ephesians 2:8-9 Gospel.
The purpose of this article is to explore why Michigan and states like it are ages behind other states. In my years as a pastor and a leader, I have several suggestions that point out why Michigan is falling short.