By Elizabeth Young

Leaders of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention have approved plans to sell the current convention office and Gateway Seminary Arizona Campus in Scottsdale and purchase an office complex — Cornerstone Plaza — in northwest Phoenix.

While not seeking to move, the AZSBC received two offers in January to purchase the present 2.37-acre property, AZSBC Executive Director David Johnson told the Convention Council in an email Feb. 7.

The offer that was eventually accepted was $2.55 million from a real estate developer who would like to build urban style single family homes.

One month earlier, Calvary Community Church, Phoenix, offered to sell the AZSBC an office building across the street from the church for $1.2 million, Johnson said. While the property is 1.07 acres, the building is about 13,500 square feet — 2,500 more than the present location.

“This is not a visionary decision,” Johnson told the Convention Council in their meeting Feb. 27. “In some ways, it is not even a strategic decision, although it is. It’s a stewardship decision.”

We are stewards of the property that’s been given to us, the missions funds that people give, and the vision and mission from God, Johnson said.

“This is a stewardship matter,” he said. “It really should never be about buildings or property. It’s about the mission. So, if this can help us move the mission forward, I’m all for it.”

Johnson presented the relocation plan to the Executive Team on Jan. 16, and they voted to recommend it to the Convention Council.

The Convention Council adopted a resolution Feb. 27 recommending to the trustees of the Arizona Christian Ministries Charitable Trust, which actually owns the present property, that the property be sold and that Cornerstone Plaza be purchased, contingent upon the sale of the present property. The trust was established when Coronado Baptist Church, Scottsdale, gave its buildings and property — the current AZSBC office and Gateway Arizona campus — to Arizona Southern Baptists in 2002.

The trustees consist of the AZSBC executive director, state convention president and three at-large members. At the Convention Council meeting, the council elected Keith Henry, AZSBC church life facilitator; Chet Anderson, Executive Team and council member and executive pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Lake Havasu City; and Brett Carlson, Executive Team member and pastor, Mountain Ridge Church, Glendale, as at-large trustees. The terms of the original trustees had long ago expired, and they had not been replaced.

Shortly after the Convention Council meeting, the trustees approved the sale of the Scottsdale property and the contingent offer to purchase Cornerstone Plaza.

1:27 PMhe sale of the present property is set to close on July 5. Moving will begin in mid-July, and the Scottsdale office will be completely vacated by Aug. 31, Johnson said. Gateway will begin fall classes in August at the new location.

In his written report to the council, Johnson said the move will result in more space that is “better suited for the convention and seminary and a windfall for the convention which can be used for ongoing maintenance of the building and benefit for the Cooperative Program.”

While some remodeling will be needed, he wrote, “many of the spaces are move-in ready.” After remodeling costs are covered from the sale proceeds, “the remainder of the funds will be invested to produce income to take care of ongoing maintenance and future capital improvements as well as benefitting missions through the Cooperative Program,” he wrote.

Asked about the future of Pinnacle Church, which meets at the Scottsdale property, Johnson said he had talked to Rob Gaschler, Pinnacle pastor. Gaschler said God had led Pinnacle to focus on reaching college students at Arizona State University in Tempe, but the current location was too far away to do that effectively. Pinnacle recently announced they will relocate to CrosspoinTempe Church in May.

Previously, the Scottsdale property also housed an office for Arizona Baptist Children’s Services’ New Life Counseling. However, that office had already relocated to Corona Baptist Church, Chandler, before the February Convention Council meeting.