Changes ahead for Georgia Baptist

  • David Melber is COO of the state mission board.
    David Melber is COO of the state mission board.

    A number of parties are interested in the purchase of the Georgia Baptist Conference Center.
    David Melber, Georgia Baptist Mission Board chief operations officer, confirmed last week the center is up for sale.
    "We've had several calls on it," Melber said, adding the interested parties do not wish to be identified.
    Stephens County administrator Phyllis Ayers said Tuesday that one of those parties had met with county officials last week to discuss the property.
    Even with the purchase interest surrounding the conference center site, Melber said he doubts the center will be sold before the end of 2020 and that a sale likely would occur at some point in 2021.
    "It's a complicated piece of property," Melber said.
    Melber said the Georgia Baptist Mission Board elected to sell the center due to revenue losses over the years.
    He said it is costly to keep up with the maintenance of aging buildings over a large and expansive property.
    "It's always operated at a place where we (Georgia Baptist) had to help subsidize it," Melber said.
    Also factoring into sale decision is the repair of the Lake Louise Dam — a cost estimated at more than $8 million, Melber said.
    While declining to speculate if one party had shown more interest in purchasing the center than another, Melber said that Georgia Baptist Mission Board hoped that whoever buys the center would continue to operate it in a similar fashion.
    "Our preference would be it would continue to be Christian based," Melber said.
    He said that the sale decision had not come about due to COVID-19, but that the pandemic "did not help at all this year" due in part to camp closings and lower usage at the local conference center.
    Melber said a portion of the conference center staff will remain at the center as long as Georgia Baptist continues to own it.
    "We are going to be closed through October, November, and December," Melber said, adding that a decision will be made later about reopening in the spring of 2021.
    Industrialist R.G. LeTourneau built the dam that shaped Lake Louise and constructed the original buildings of the conference center in 1940.
    He later sold the site to the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.