By Vicki Brown
Camdenton — A lawsuit the Missouri Baptist Convention filed against Windermere Baptist Conference Center in 2006 will move forward despite the MBC’s effort to put it on hold.
The convention filed legal action against Windermere on Nov. 1, 2006, in the 26th Judicial Circuit Court, which includes Camden County where the center is located.
As part of a 2006 debt restructuring plan to cover the conference center’s Wilderness Creek expansion, Windermere transferred 943 acres of its 1,300 acres to National City Bank of Cincinnati in late 2005. The bank sold the property to Windermere Development Company Inc., owned by William R. Jester of Springfield.
The MBC filed the Camden County suit in an effort to stop all land transactions at Windermere pending the outcome of legal action the convention had taken against five formerly-affiliated institutions, including the conference center, in Cole County in 2002.
The MBC filed legal action against Windermere, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist University, the Missouri Baptist Foundation and Word&Way after the five entities changed their corporate charters in 2000 and 2001 to allow each institution to elect its own trustees.
At a hearing in Camden County on June 10, the court turned down the MBC attorneys’ request for a stay in the 2006 case pending the outcome of the convention’s appeal in the older legal action.
Cole County Judge Richard Callahan ruled on March 4 that Windermere had acted legally when it changed its charter. The convention filed its notice of appeal on April 9.