The Missouri Baptist Convention has filed an appeal in its ongoing legal battle with five affiliated entities.
The MBC continues to seek to overturn revised charters for The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist University, Missouri Baptist Foundation, Windermere Baptist Conference Center and the Word & Way newspaper. In early December, it filed its appeals with the Kansas City Court of Appeals.
In 2000 and 2001, the five institutions changed their charters to allow each entity to elect its own trustees. In the past, the convention had elected board members.
The MBC Executive Board and six representative churches filed legal action against the five entities in August 2002. On March 24, Cole County Circuit Judge Thomas Brown ruled that the churches did not have standing-the legal right-to file the lawsuit and dismissed the case. Brown said only individual messengers to previous convention meetings had standing to bring a suit in the convention's name, rather than churches.
The convention sought to amend its original petition by substituting individual messengers from the churches. On April 7, Brown denied the motion to amend and allowed his March ruling to stand. MBC attorneys filed a notice of appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District on April 16 to contest Brown's decisions.
In the brief filed on Dec. 6, the MBC argues that the appeal is “about righting two wrongs” the convention has suffered-that the entities denied the MBC its rights but kept all the assets the convention had assigned to each and that the MBC has not had its “day in court” to prove whether the entities had acted illegally.
In its introduction, MBC attorneys argue, “The convention should not suffer the risk and cost of having to start over with a new action.” But the MBC already had filed a new lawsuit-on Oct. 25-listing the convention and five individual messengers as plaintiffs.
The appeals court will schedule a time for oral arguments in the case, probably in February or March.
Associated Baptist Press