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|Religious Non-profit organization|
Incorporated on October 5, 1983 as the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
|Founder||James Marion Frost|
1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, Tennessee,
Number of locations
|170 stores (2018)|
|Thom S. Rainer, Chairman and CEO|
Number of employees
|Parent||Southern Baptist Convention|
|Divisions||Church Resources, LifeWay Christian Stores, B&H Publishing Group, Technology, Finance and Business Services, LifeWay Research and Insights|
LifeWay Christian Resources, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is the publishing division of the Southern Baptist Convention and church business services provider. It is best known for its retail arm, LifeWay Christian Stores, which is one of the two major American retailers of Christian books and products (the other being Mardel, owned by descendants of David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby).
In 1891, James Marion Frost, a 43-year-old pastor, founded the Baptist Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Board began operating retail bookstores under the name "Baptist Book Store".
Around 1971 the Board began using the "LifeWay" imprint on some of its materials and as the name for retail stores in certain markets, reflecting an expansion of items sold which included items produced by others (some of whom were not Southern Baptist). Over a two-year period from 1996-1998 the Board re-branded its stores under the LifeWay banner and officially changed its name.
Although LifeWay sells products created by non-SBC persons and entities, generally speaking its products feature Christian teachings from a conservative perspective (consistent with the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message). It will not sell, and will if needed discontinue selling, works by authors who disagree with its policies. As an example, in October 2016 it pulled all works by author Jen Hatmaker after she endorsed same-sex marriage.
LifeWay's ministry on the subject of sexuality and gender expression categorizes non-normative identities as sinful lifestyles, the threat of which requires church members be "ready when homosexuality devastates." This is generally consistent with Article XVIII of the Baptist Faith & Message (the doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay's parent), though the Article does not specifically address such gender expression issues as transgender or gender reassignment.
In February 2006, Dr. Thom Rainer became the president and CEO of LifeWay. Rainer left his post as Dean of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to assume the presidency of LifeWay. He succeeded James T. Draper, Jr., of the Fort Worth metro area, who had headed LifeWay from 1991 to 2006.
On August 29, 2018, Dr. Thom Rainer announced his retirement from LifeWay which becomes effective within one year or once his replacement has been identified—whichever occurs first.
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