JEFFERSON CITY — Cole County Circuit Judge Paul Wilson heard arguments on three motions related to the Missouri Baptist Convention’s case against the Missouri Baptist Foundation during a three-hour hearing on June 9.
After complimenting attorneys representing both parties, noting “the quality of this briefing was uniformly excellent,” the judge asked each side to submit a “proposed order” by the end of June. He will consider the merits of each as he formulates his own ruling, which could potentially decide the Foundation case, subject to appeal.
He appeared to leave open the possibility that parts of the case might still be determined by a Cole County jury.
In 2000 and 2001, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist University, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Word&Way and Windermere Baptist Conference Center changed their charters to self-elect their trustees. The MBC filed legal action against the five on Aug. 13, 2002, to force them to rescind those changes.
Windermere has prevailed in Cole County and in a subsequent appeal. The MBC voluntarily dismissed Word&Way from the case on April 23 but is moving forward against the remaining three in the Cole County action.
At the heart of arguments presented on June 9 by MBC attorney Chuck Hatfield and Foundation counsel Larry Tucker was whether or not Foundation trustees had the right to change their charter to elect their own trustees rather than to continue to let the MBC nominating committee present them to messengers to MBC annual meetings for approval.
Hatfield argued that the Foundation’s previous incorporation documents stipulated that all charter amendment required the approval of the MBC, something the Foundation’s board did not do before going to court to amend its charter.
Tucker argued that by law the Foundation was not required to secure the permission of the MBC Executive Committee before it made the amendment. The arguments on June 9 were on:
— The Foundation’s motion for summary judgment filed Dec. 15, 2006. The Foundation asked the court to rule in its favor on the grounds that the MBC lacks standing to even bring the lawsuit in the first place.
— The MBC’s cross motion for summary judgment filed on Sept. 24, 2007. The convention asked that the court void the Foundation’s amended articles of incorporation and declare that the 1994 articles remain in effect.
— The MBC’s motion for partial summary judgment filed on Oct. 26, 2009. The MBC asked that the court render the Foundation’s 2001 charter amendment void, leaving the 1994 charter in place.
When Judge Wilson requested the proposed orders by June 30, he did not indicate when he anticipates making his ruling on the motions, nor if he will schedule another hearing.