The Missouri Baptist Convention filed motions on Dec. 2 asking the Circuit Court of Cole County to issue a ruling for the MBC in lawsuits against The Baptist Home and Missouri Baptist University. The separate filings against each institution urge the Court to offer a “summary judgement,” which is a ruling made without a full trial.
The MBC urges a ruling in its favor based on the final outcome of the case against the former board of the Missouri Baptist Foundation. The Foundation case ended on Sept. 20 when the Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear the case, letting stand an appeals court ruling favoring the MBC.
The MBC filings assert charters by MBU and TBH included clauses similar to the language in the Foundation’s charter that required MBC approval to changes. Since the courts found that clause significant in ruling for the MBC in the Foundation case, the MBC’s attorneys hope that sets precedence for the other two cases.
While statements from the MBC call the clauses “nearly identical,” a judge could find the various differences legally significant. Both defendant institutions will file their responses before a judge considers the request. If a summary judgment is not granted, then the MBC’s lawsuit against the two entities would continue toward the trial stage.
The MBC originally filed suit in August 2002 against the Foundation, TBH, MBU, Windermere Baptist Conference Center and Word&Way. The boards of all five had taken action in 2000 or 2001 to self-elect their trustees rather than accept those elected by messengers to the MBC annual meeting each year.
The circuit court ruled in favor of Windermere in 2008, a decision the appeals court upheld in 2009. The MBC voluntarily withdrew its claims against Word&Way a year later.
Foundation Board Elects Officers
The board of trustees of the Foundation elected new officers during its Dec. 9 meeting. They will continue to guide the institution now that the MBC won its lawsuit to regain control of board governance.
The new officers are: Chairman Larry Shoaf, a businessman and member of First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mo., Vice Chairman Jay Hughes, administrative pastor at Second Baptist Church of Springfield, Mo., and Secretary Joby Steele, pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church of Alton, Mo.
The board’s previous president, Floyd Gilzow, died Dec. 9 shortly before the meeting. As chair of the MBC-elected board, Gilzow oversaw the transition of governance after the legal dispute ended in September. Gilzow, 66, served as assistant to the president of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., from 1993-1999. He also served stints as chief of staff for Congressman Roy Blunt and as Blunt’s executive deputy secretary of state.
A member of Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo., Gilzow served as vice president of governmental and environmental affairs at the Missouri Public Utility Alliance and also chief operating officer for the Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities.
During the meeting, the board also elected the three officers to serve as the search committee to find a new president for the Foundation. Longtime staffer Stephen Mathis has served as interim president since June 2015. MBC Executive Director John Yeats will serve as an ex-officio (non-voting) member and Robert Kellogg, president of the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma, will serve as a consultant to the committee.