Glorieta suit dismissed, notice of appeal filed 

Marty King
LIfeWay Christian Resources

NASHVILLE (BP) – The U.S. District Court for New Mexico has dismissed all claims of misconduct against LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention and its Executive Committee, and the Glorieta 2.0 ministry that bought Glorieta Conference Center from LifeWay 18 months ago.

Federal Judge James O. Browning issued the rulings in a suit waged by an Arkansas couple, Kirk and Susie Tompkins, who had been leaseholders at the conference center. Within hours of the ruling, the Tompkins filed notice of appeal to the U.S.  Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado.

Browning’s ruling came in five separate orders totaling 71 pages, including an order last September that dismissed several named defendants.

One of Browning’s  March 31st rulings states: "The Court cannot find any factual allegations from which it can infer that the individual defendants are liable for the misconduct alleged. Indeed, the Tompkins fail to identify an act by any of the defendants to allow for such an inference. They do not state a plausible claim."

The ruling concludes: “the Court finds the Tompkins have failed to assert claims upon which relief can be granted for lack of factual allegations … (and) for want of standing.” The case was dismissed with prejudice and cannot be re-filed.

LifeWay President and CEO, Thom S. Rainer, said, “This is incredible news. I thank God for his goodness.”

“This process has been extended, painful, and costly. I am so thankful to get this ordeal behind us, leaving no doubt of our integrity throughout this process, and after so many months of baseless attacks on our ministry partners, trustees and executive leadership,” Rainer said.

The Tompkins, of Little Rock, filed the lawsuit in September 2013 claiming the 2,400-acre property near Santa Fe was not properly transferred and that LifeWay, Glorieta 2.0 and Executive Committee leadership improperly handled the sale. 

Last September, federal magistrate Robert Hayes Scott recommended dismissal of all claims in a 79-page  document prepared for the federal district court in Albuquerque where the lawsuit was filed. Scott wrote that he found no evidence of misconduct in the Glorieta sale.

Scott, in his role as a magistrate for the federal court, disagreed with the Tompkins’ contentions in his recommendations to dismiss their lawsuit. "The transfer of Glorieta by LifeWay was not fraudulent," Scott wrote. "... [A]llegations of fraud and misconduct are baseless and have no foundation in the evidence."

Browning declined, however, to award LifeWay attorney fees for defending against the Tompkins’ suit.

At the time of the Glorieta sale to the nonprofit Glorieta 2.0 group, 65 churches, institutions and individuals owned structures on year-to-year leased lots at Glorieta. Rainer reported to the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting that Glorieta 2.0 offered to extend the year-to-year leases or purchase structures built there for up to $100,000, which all but a handful of leaseholders accepted.


Marty King is director of corporate communications for LifeWay. Art Toalston of Baptist Press contributed to this story.


Arkansas disaster relief deployment not necessary following recent storms

"Thank the Lord we have missed the bullet again," said Randy Garrett, Arkansas Baptist State Convention disaster relief (DR) director.

While high winds and hail impacted parts of northern Arkansas March 25, Garrett said that following damage asessment by DR volunteers, no Arkansas DR teams were deployed.

According to CNN reports, one person was killed and more than two dozen people were injured as the storm drove through Oklahoma.

Oklahoma's Southern Baptist DR teams responded to affected areas including Moore, Okla. and Tulsa, Okla. March 25, according to The Baptist Messenger, the state Baptist newspaper of Oklahoma.

Garrett told the Arkansas Baptist News that Oklahoma Baptists have not solicited the assistance of other DR teams within their region at this time.


Kisors recover after motorcycle accident

Howard Kisor Jr. and his wife, Mary, have been released from the hospital and are recovering from multiple injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident March 20.

Howard Kisor is pastor of Crow Mountain Baptist Church in Russellville and former associational missionary for Arkansas River Valley Baptist Association. Mary Kisor is a member of the Arkansas Baptist News board of directors.

Mary Kisor said she and her husband were riding on River Road in Pottsville when the accident occurred. She has a broken foot and multiple bruises. Howard Kisor sustained three broken ribs, a concussion, an abrasion on his lung, a small bleed in the brain that healed and a torn artery below his spleen.

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Selma bridge crossing highlights Black History Month at Williams Baptist

The Williams Baptist softball team pauses for a photo after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. WALNUT RIDGE – The Williams Baptist College (WBC) softball team walked in the steps of civil rights pioneers in Selma, Ala., as a part of Williams students' celebration of African-American culture and history in February.

A large group of Williams students traveled to Jonesboro and attended a showing of the Oscar nominated movie "Selma" Feb. 4. The movie portrays the struggle for black voting rights and centers on marchers who attempted to cross Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.

The Williams softball team was among those watching the movie and, in a fortunate twist of scheduling, played at a tournament in Alabama the following week. Interim Coach Tyler Herring and Williams President Tom Jones led the way as the team crossed the historic bridge and visited the nearby historic center in Selma.

“It was moving to consider the sacrifice of those who marched over the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago, and it was especially rewarding to see that our WBC student athletes were eager to walk in the steps of these pioneers. The historical significance of the place was clearly meaningful to all of us,” said Jones.

Williams Baptist Black History Month Committee: Front (left to right): Andrew Matthews and Patrick Smith. Back: Dara Britton, Ebony Scott, Kathy Evans and Hannah Morgan.Among other Black History Month observances at Williams, the group Personal Praise was in concert Feb. 24. About 100 were in attendance for the spiritual music performance in Williams' Old Chapel.

An evening meal Feb. 26 had a Soul Food theme. Williams' Black History Month Committee coordinated the meal with Williams Chef David Shanteau, who directs food services at Williams.

This year’s Black History Month Committee consists of Williams students Dara Britton, Andrew Matthews, Hannah Morgan, Ebony Scott and Patrick Smith, as well as Kathy Evans, Williams' coordinator of student activities.


Grants help Liberian schools to reopen

Candice Lee
WMU Foundation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A total of $44,000 in grants will assist in reopening Liberian schools on Feb. 16. National Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and the WMU Foundation made the grants from the HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) Fund to provide assistance as Liberia recovers from the Ebola crisis.

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