Missouri Baptist Foundation appeals ruling in Cole County - Word&Way

Missouri Baptist Foundation appeals ruling in Cole County

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Baptist Foundation is appealing a Cole County decision that would have forced the entity to return control to the Missouri Baptist Convention. The Foundation filed a notice of appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals on Feb. 8.

In its notice, the MBF argued that the partial summary judgment former Cole County Circuit Court Judge Paul Wilson issued on Dec. 31 cannot be appealed under Missouri statutes.

The lower court must issue a final judgment before the case could be appealed. Judge Wilson's order cannot be declared a final judgment because it does not resolve all the issues, the Foundation claimed.

Also in its notice, the Foundation declared it did not violate Missouri law or the convention's rights when it amended its charter in 2001 to form a self-electing trustee board. It also claimed the convention lacks standing or legal authority to bring legal action against the Foundation.

In December, Judge Wilson ruled in the convention's favor that the Foundation did not have the right to file amendments it made to its charter without MBC approval. On Jan. 26, Judge Byron Kinder issued a stay on Judge Wilson's order so that the decision could be taken to the court of appeals and possibly to the state Supreme Court.

If allowed to stand by the higher courts, Judge Wilson's ruling would require the Foundation to return to its 1994 charter and articles of incorporation, and trustees not elected under its provisions would have to give up their seats.

On Oct. 9, 2001, the Foundation filed amendments to its 1994 charter as a not-for-profit corporation under one Missouri statute. But the entity retained wording that continued to allow the MBC to elect the Foundation's trustees and to approve any changes or amendments to its articles of incorporation.

A day later, the Foundation filed additional amendments to its articles but filed under a different not-for-profit statute. The second filing excluded the MBC provisions. The Foundation did not seek convention approval for any of the changes, and the MBC filed legal action on Aug. 13, 2002, to regain the privileges outlined in the 1994 charter.

Also if allowed to stand, Judge Wilson's December order would void the Foundation's 2001 amendments and require the Foundation to file notice with the Cole County court and with the Secretary of State's office to that effect.

The MBC's 2002 legal action included five formerly affiliated entities — The Baptist Home, Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Missouri Baptist University, Word&Way and the Foundation. The Home changed its charter to elect its own trustees in 2000, with the others doing the same in 2001.

Windermere won in the Cole County action on March 4, 2008, with the ruling upheld by the Missouri Court of Appeals on Feb. 18, 2009.

A second lawsuit the convention filed against Windermere in Camden County is ongoing.

The MBC voluntarily dropped its case against Word&Way on April 23 last year. Legal action in Cole County against the university and The Home is still pending.