A state appeals court has upheld a lower court’s decision voiding the Missouri Baptist Foundation’s 2001 decision to move to a self-perpetuating board of trustees.
A three-judge panel of the Western District Court of Appeals in Kansas City, Mo., ruled May 24 the charity violated its own governing documents by amending its charter without permission from the parent Missouri Baptist Convention.
Incorporated in 1946 to manage and distribute funds for Baptist work in Missouri, the foundation updated its charter in 1994 identifying the agency “as the trust services agency of the Missouri Baptist Convention” and included a provision that any future amendments to the charter must be approved by the state convention.
A Cole County Circuit Judge determined in 2010 that the foundation ignored all that when trustees voted in 2001 to amend the charter eliminating various rights of the convention to oversee and influence actions of the agency.
The foundation appealed the decision on jurisdictional and procedural grounds, but after review the appellate court agreed with the lower court’s decision to return control of the agency and its $140 million in assets back to the Missouri Baptist Convention.
“We are so grateful for the court’s decisive ruling today,” John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, told the convention newspaper, The Pathway. “We are eager to welcome the foundation back into the MBC family, and we look forward to a smooth transition in governance for the benefit of all investors.”
The foundation is reviewing the decision before deciding whether to appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.
“The foundation respects the judges of the Missouri courts and the work they do, even as it does not agree with the outcome,” said a statement on the organization’s website. “The foundation will continue to perform its duties to its clients as it has done for all the 70 years of its existence, seeking to serve the mission and ministry efforts of all Missouri Baptists.”
The Missouri Baptist Convention originally sued five former agencies that changed their charters to allow trustees to name their own successors in 2000 and 2001. The convention lost a bid to reclaim Windermere Baptist Conference Center and dropped its case against the former convention news journal Word and Way.
Lawsuits against the Baptist Home and Missouri Baptist University are pending.