JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Baptist Foundation President Chris Calmer believes ongoing litigation between the Missouri Baptist Convention and the MBF could end — if “Christian brothers and sisters” are willing to dialogue to find a godly way to make that happen.
The Foundation is one of five entities the MBC took to court after each changed its governing documents to elect its own trustees. The convention filed legal action in Cole County Circuit Court against The Baptist Home, Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Missouri Baptist University, Word&Way and the MBF on Aug. 13, 2002.
Windermere won its case in Cole County, but still faces separate litigation the MBC filed against it in Camden County. The MBC dropped Word&Way from the original lawsuit in 2010. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, recently returned the Foundation portion of the case to Cole County. The MBF had appealed a Dec. 31, 2010, ruling by former Cole County Judge Paul Wilson.
In an open letter to Missouri Baptists, Calmer reminds readers that whatever resolution the Missouri court system finally reaches will be a lose-lose proposition. Should either side “win,” fallout from clients, churches and other supporters will haunt both sides.
“[E]ven a ‘resolved’ conflict could be detrimental to our current and future ability to partner together as it may be difficult to put aside all of the history of this litigation,” he wrote.
The MBF president said he believes discussions might lead to “some areas of compromise or resolution outside of the courts and without all parties incurring more legal fees…a mutually beneficial and redemptive solution for all involved.”
Calmer also points to what he believes the entities were commissioned to do. “What would be the impact to ministry if, instead of using resources to pay legal fees, we instead focused all our financial resources to point others to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to help establish more churches, to provide scholarships to our students, to feed and clothe the hungry, and to reach out to a lost and dying world?” he wrote.
Then he asks readers to set aside their “loyalty” and consider: “[I]s it right to continue the legal process?”
Calmer and the MBF trustees issued a joint letter seeking dialogue last year just a few days prior to the MBC annual meeting.