COLUMBIA, Mo. — Although they continue to disagree on a solution, representatives of the Missouri Baptist Convention and four formerly affiliated agencies have agreed to continue to talk about an end to litigation, now in its 12th year.
Meeting Jan. 14-16 in Columbia, organizational heads and attorneys presented their perspective on issues at the heart of legal action the MBC filed against the four — Windermere Baptist Conference Center, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Foundation — and Word&Way. The news journal was later dropped from the litigation.
In 2000 and 2001, each of the five agencies changed its governing documents to elect its own trustees.
The MBC filed a lawsuit in Cole County on Aug. 13, 2002, in an attempt to regain control of them. Windermere won in the Cole County action, but a second case the convention filed against the center in Camden County continues.
Control remains the sticking point, according to a joint statement the parties released on Jan. 21.
The talks were “civil and conducted in a spirit of openness,” and each participant “expressed a desire to have a meaningful relationship...and to work together for the benefit of all Missouri Baptists,” the release said.
However, they could not agree over the governance issue. “This remains the primary issue of disagreement in the litigation...,” the statement confirmed.
According to the release, another meeting is to take place by the end of January. The participants also asked Baptists in Missouri to pray for an end to the conflict.
Last fall, Church Mutual Insurance Company, which insures the MBC and Windermere, called for mediation talks between the convention and the four entities. All parties agreed and met individually with the firm’s chosen mediators.