ST. LOUIS (ABP) — The Missouri Baptist Convention broke a 154-year tradition and voted Nov. 4 to stop funding William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., over issues of homosexuality and morality.
Messengers at the annual meeting eliminated the Baptist school from the convention's 2004 budget. Last year the convention gave $900,000 to the college, about 3 percent of the school's annual budget.
Controversial layman Roger Moran of Winfield argued for cutting the college's funds because the school gave an award to a homosexual student and allowed a theatrical production some Baptists considered lewd to be staged on campus. Moran, a frequent critic of the college and some other institutions, is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
The defunding of William Jewell came as no surprise to most Missouri Baptists. “It was a foregone conclusion; the only question was when,” said William Jewell President David Sallee, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In response to criticism, William Jewell's trustees voted in February to affirm the college's mission statement, which declares its Christian and Baptist nature, but declined to answer specific “personal” questions about the faculty and trustees and a question about the college's “official teaching position on the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the creation account.”
The convention previously defunded five other Missouri Baptist institutions that changed their charters to take control of trustee appointments away from the convention. The convention is suing those institutions — Missouri Baptist University, Missouri Baptist Home, Windemere Conference Center, the Baptist Foundation and the Word and Way newspaper.