A Circuit Judge has ordered the Missouri Baptist Foundation, which administers over $152 million in assets, to seat trustee/directors elected by the Missouri Baptist Convention (a client of this firm). The Court also awarded $5.5 million in fees and interest, due to the “special circumstances” surrounding the case.
In 2001, the Foundation voted to sever ties with the Missouri Baptist Convention. This ruling affirms a 2010 judgment, in which Judge Paul Wilson said the Foundation trustees tried to “cheat the convention out of its rights” to approve charter amendments.
The Foundation had fought the 2010 ruling, seeking to overturn the ruling no fewer than three times. Judge Frank Conley, assigned to the case recently, overruled all of the Foundation’s outstanding motions. While the Foundation may appeal the ruling, Conley’s order accrues interest at nearly $30,000 per month.
In his opinion, Judge Conley commented on the Foundation’s continual motions and efforts to re-open the case. “The time for re-litigating old motions or filing new motions has passed. The Court is committed to finality in its judgment so that the parties may get finality in the resolution of this decade-old dispute.”
“Missouri Baptists have patiently and persistently asked us to seek the restoration of the Foundation,” said John Yeats, MBC’s executive director. “Judge Conley’s ruling brings further clarity to the issue and, we believe, brings the Foundation one step closer to returning to the MBC family.”
Yeats continued, “As we have always said, we gladly welcome back the Foundation if it seats the duly elected trustees and returns to its corporate charter in which Missouri Baptists, not independent boards, govern its ministry. With God’s grace, we are much closer today to such a reconciliation.”
Still pending before Conley are MBC claims to recover Missouri Baptist University, in Clayton, and The Baptist Home, a multi-campus ministry to senior adults. MBC attorneys say that they expect Judge Conley to apply the same legal reasoning to the remaining ministries, because they have similar corporate charters to the Foundation.