JEFFERSON CITY — Attorneys for the Missouri Baptist Convention and formerly affiliated institutions — The Baptist Home, the Missouri Baptist Foundation and Missouri Baptist University — will argue three motions to dismiss legal action against the entities at a hearing slated for May 11.
At an April 27 hearing, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Paul Wilson determined the order in which to hear part of a series of motions still pending in the ongoing case the MBC filed on Aug. 13, 2002, against The Home, MBF and MBU.
The three entities as well as Windermere Baptist Conference Center and Word&Way each changed their corporate documents to self-elect trustees — the Home in 2000 and the others in 2001. The MBC filed legal action against the five in an effort to force them to rescind the change.
The center and the news journal are no longer involved. Former Cole County Judge Richard Callahan ruled in Windermere’s favor in 2009. The MBC lost its appeal in that case and the state’s Supreme Court refused to review it. The convention voluntarily dropped its case against Word&Way on April 23.
At the April 27 hearing, Judge Wilson emphasized that he wants to hear all aspects of the case and needs to hear them in an order that makes logical sense to him. “It is not my intention to hold arguments on one set and resolve those fully and then wait for a round of appeals and then come back to those that are left,” he said.
MBC attorney Jeremy Root argued that hearing the convention’s motion for partial summary judgment against the Foundation would resolve most of the other issues. That motion addresses whether the MBF could change its charter without convention approval. Defense lawyers stressed that hearing older motions first could moot the MBC motion.
Judge Wilson determined he would hear arguments on a defense joint motion filed on Oct. 30, 2006, that challenges the court’s jurisdiction over the case. In addition, he will consider The Baptist Home’s motion to dismiss that challenges the MBC’s rights under a covenant agreement, and the MBF motion to dismiss that argues the convention has failed to state a claim.
Judge Wilson also tentatively set another hearing for May 27 to hear arguments on the Foundation’s motion for summary judgment filed on Dec. 15, 2006, that challenges the MBC’s standing or right to file legal action and the convention’s claim as sole member of the Foundation’s corporation. The judge also agreed to hear the MBC’s partial summary judgment motion against the Foundation.