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American Baptist Leaders Propose Sale of Headquarters

American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.’s General Board will vote in November on a recommendation to sell the denomination’s headquarters building in Valley Forge, Pa.

American Baptist News Service reported last week that the General Board’s Executive Committee unanimously recommended putting the 42-year-old <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />MissionCenter on the market.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Officials said ABC/USA entities occupy less than half of the buildings offices, and the remainder is rented out. The building needs capital improvement, which after study was deemed impractical.
 
“We want to be good stewards of our resources and to ‘right-size’ to fit our current space requirements,” said Roy Medley, ABC/USA general secretary.
 
Proceeds from the sale would be used to create an endowment fund.
 
The move comes at a time when American Baptists face the prospect of eroding financial support from splintering over controversy about homosexuality.
 
American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest voted in May to sever ties with the national body over “deep differences of theological convictions and values.” Other regions have considered doing the same.
 
Churches in the former region desiring to remain in full fellowship with the ABC/USA were scheduled to hold an informational meeting Saturday leading up to formation of a new Association of American Baptists in the Pacific Southwest next May.
 
Denominational executives endorsed sale of the headquarters building Sept. 25. The General Executive Council also gave consensus to criteria for denominational restructuring including to “protect and secure the local church as the fundamental unit of mission by preserving historic Baptist freedoms and enacting a balance of autonomy and interdependence” and working to “resolve the division over homosexuality or at least move the denomination forward on this issue.”
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.