Mo. Baptist Convention Hit with Lien for Unpaid Construction Bills - Word&Way

Mo. Baptist Convention Hit with Lien for Unpaid Construction Bills

A contractor filed a mechanic’s lien on March 10 against the Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention for more than $319,000 in unpaid construction bills. Integrity Development & Construction LLC alleges in its court filing that it hasn’t been paid for work to the Baptist Student Union near Missouri State University in Springfield.

In 2019, the MBC’s Executive Board approved a process to consider changes to that BSU property. In 2021, the MBC Executive Board authorized construction to begin and selected Integrity as the general contractor for the $16.5 million project that would not only include a new BSU facility but also apartments and space for a church and other ministries. Integrity has worked on a number of projects in the Springfield region, including buildings for churches, universities, and hospitals.

Screengrab of the planned new Baptist Student Center in Springfield, Missouri.

The MBC had already launched a giving campaign for the project, which MBC Executive Director John Yeats said “has the potential to become a great testimony about God at work through people — a project people will talk about for generations to come.”

By filing a lien on the property, Integrity is not only seeking payment but could also complicate the ongoing project. In the Greene County court filing, Integrity said it “entered into a written Agreement” with the MBC’s Executive Board on Feb. 4, 2021, for preconstruction and construction services. The company, which said it hasn’t worked on-site since Sept. 13, alleged “the fair and reasonable value” of the unpaid services is $319,620.18. Pointing to Missouri’s Prompt Pay Act, Integrity asked in its court filing for the payment, interest at 1.5% per month, and attorney fees. Integrity also noted it has additional costs already accrued for uncompleted work not included in the lien.

In the past, the MBC harshly criticized a Baptist ministry for having liens filed against it by contractors. As the MBC sued Windermere Baptist Conference Center (and other ministries, including Word&Way), the MBC’s publication in 2003 wrote in hyperbolic terms that “a fistful of unpaid bills” for “a major construction project” had led to “creditors banging on the door” as work “ground to a halt.” Thus, the publication claimed the campground was “in financial trouble.”

In that case, some subcontractors claimed the general contractor wasn’t making timely payments. The MBC’s publication reported that the contractors might “start knocking on the court house door for relief.” The contractors were eventually paid.

Windermere was later purchased by an MBC shell company in late 2019. However, after it was closed for much of its time under the control of the MBC’s Straightway Holdings, it was sold just two years later in a lease-purchase agreement with Encounter Ministry.

Now a contractor has knocked on the courthouse door for relief after a fistful of unpaid bills for a major construction project by the MBC. But the MBC has yet to file a response in court or report publicly on the lien against itself. The MBC also did not respond to Word&Way’s request for comment.