The Western District Court of Appeals in Kansas City, Mo., on July 5 overruled and denied motions by the Missouri Baptist Foundation for the court to either rehear the Missouri Baptist Convention’s case against it or transfer the matter to the Missouri Supreme Court.
At issue is the legal action the convention filed against the foundation and four other Baptist institutions in Missouri nearly 14 years ago after all five amended governing documents to elect their own trustees rather than giving that authority to the MBC.
The appeals court on May 24 upheld an earlier decision of the Cole County Circuit Court in favor of the convention to return ownership of the foundation to trustees elected by the convention’s messengers.
The final remaining option for the foundation is to appeal directly to the state Supreme Court.
The foundation’s motion for rehearing or transfer was filed on June 8 and claimed the circuit court’s attempt at a final judgment did not resolve all of the MBC’s claims against it and therefore was not a final judgment.
The foundation also argued that plaintiffs in the suit lacked standing to file it because the court overlooked and misinterpreted the “nature of the foundation, which is a public benefit corporation. It does not have members or shareholders, and it exists and operates solely for public and charitable purposes. Corporate acts of a public benefit corporation are only susceptible to being questioned by the attorney general, a director, or a member of the corporation,” according to the motion.
“The foundation is disappointed with this decision but respects the work of the judges of the Missouri Courts,” the foundation said in a statement. “The foundation will now consider the option available of appealing to the Missouri Supreme Court.
“Business operations of the foundation continue, as they have throughout the legal proceedings, to focus on caring for clients and seeking to fulfill the MBF’s unchanged mission to serve the mission and ministry efforts of all Missouri Baptists,” the statement said.
“June 28, 2016, marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of Missouri Baptist Foundation. The services of the foundation have provided and continue to provide millions of dollars of support to Missouri Baptist churches and related ministries each year.”
Early in 2009, an appellate court ruled that Windermere Baptist Conference Center was within its rights to amend its articles of incorporation and thus won the legal action that had been filed against it seven years earlier. In May 2009, the Missouri Supreme Court declined to rehear the case, effectively letting it stand in favor of Windermere.
In April 2010, the MBC dropped its case against Word & Way, a news organization with historic ties to the MBC, in documents filed in Cole County Circuit Court, voluntarily releasing the news journal from all claims against it.
Cases against two other entities, the Baptist Home and Missouri Baptist University, have yet to go to trial.