The Way International sold The Way College of Biblical Research-- Indiana Campus at Rome City in northeast Indiana in December, 1999. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported that Sylvan Springs paid $750,000 for the 197 acres of land, 30 buildings, furniture and equipment. Sylvan will use the facility for family enrichment programs.
The campus had been unused for years due to dramatic decline in TWI's following, and the skeleton maintenance staff moved off campus after the sale was final. The group that became Sylvan Springs was the first group to tour the facilities when the Way put it on sale in December 1997. TWI offered no asking price, but asked for bids. It promoted the sale using a video of local news reports about the campus.
It is likely that TWI lost well over $1 million on the campus, rivaling the $1 million loss on the sale of its Emporia, Kansas campus in 1991 (see the article "What's Wrong with This Picture?" for details on the Emporia campus' spotted history and $1 million loss).
TWI bought its Rome City campus in 1976, and opened it in May 1977 . The location had been the Kneipp Springs Health Spa for 84 years, operated for all but the first ten years by Sisters of the Precious Blood, a Roman Catholic order. The Sisters had rejected TWI's initial bid of $345,000 with no explanation when private developer Ten Leininger purchased the property, then sold it to TWI for a profit (which was said to have been 10%). Leininger and his children were involved in TWI to some degree at the time.
TWI initially invested over $1 million to renovate the facility (Sherman Goldenberg, "Secretive Sect Breeds Fear, Rumor," Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Feb 11, 1979). Ex-followers of TWI claim that TWI spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a fire sprinkler system, swimming pool, new roofs, new water tank and general renovation. Recently TWI spent about $300,000 on a new boiler. The age of the buildings called for a high investment in maintenance.
While TWI claims to have put at least $1.7 million into the campus initially, it is likely that TWI's investment exceeds $2 million. Since TWI sold it for $750,000, it apparently lost over $1.2 million-- nearly two-thirds of its investment.
TWI teaches that prosperity follows believing and obedience, yet TWI lost over $2.2 million on two real estate deals. The loss is even more surprising in an age in which inflation is typically over 3% per year.
Dr. John Juedes, C. 2000
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