Supreme Court will not review MBC case - Word&Way

Supreme Court will not review MBC case

The Missouri Supreme Court will not review a case in the three-year battle between the Missouri Baptist Convention and five related institutions.

On Aug. 16, attorneys for the Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist Foundation, Word&Way, Windermere Baptist Conference Center and Missouri Baptist University petitioned the high court to consider reviewing a Missouri Court of Appeals ruling handed down on May 31.

University attorney Clyde Farris noted that while not totally unexpected, the court's decision is disappointing. "The Court of Appeals agreed that churches were not members" of the unincorporated MBC and that the "Executive Board was not a party" as a body, Farris said.

The surprise, he added, was that the appellate court determined that the Executive Board could file a lawsuit on the MBC's behalf. The Executive Board could do so because its members also may be messengers to the annual meeting.  

The agencies first had asked the Appeals Court for a rehearing, and that if the judges would not hear it again, to forward the case to the higher court. Both motions were turned down on Aug. 2.

The five entities contended that the three-judge appellate panel erred when it reversed Cole County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Brown's March 24, 2004, decision to dismiss legal action against them.

With the Supreme Court's Sept. 20 response, the case returns to Judge Brown.

In 2000 and 2001, the five entities changed their charters to allow each entity to elect its own trustees. In the past, the convention had elected board members, usually from a slate offered by each institution.

The MBC Executive Board and six affiliated churches — Springhill Baptist Church, Springfield; Oakwood Baptist Church, Kansas City; Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City; and First Baptist churches of Arnold — filed legal action against the institutions in August 2002.

Judge Brown had determined that the Executive Board and the churches lacked standing, or the legal right to file legal action. The convention appealed Brown's ruling.

While the first suit was still making its way through the appeals process, the Executive Board and five individuals filed another lawsuit on the convention's behalf on Oct. 25, 2004. That case is pending before Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan.

The five individuals include Robert Curtis, pastor of Ballwin Baptist Church; MBC president Mitchell Jackson, pastor of Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston; James Plymale, messenger from First Baptist Church, Villa Ridge, and Franklin County Baptist Association director of missions; Lyn Heying, messenger from New Oakland Baptist Church, Ralls County; and James Moore, messenger from Concord Baptist Church, St. Louis.

MBC attorneys have indicated they would seek to combine the two cases into one. (09-23-05)