Thursday, March 06, 2008

Judge Rules for Windermere, Against MBC

Judge Callahan issued a ruling earlier this week on March 4, finding that Windermere had acted within its rights when it changed its charter to name its own trustees. The Missouri Baptist Convention has already issued a statement that it will appeal the ruling. Coverage of the ruling by Judge Callahan appears both in the Word and Way and in the MBC's Pathway. Both articles report the same basic facts in the ruling, although MBC expresses confidence that the ruling will be overturned in appeals court. Brian Kaylor points out on his blog that whereas the appeals court did previously reverse Judge Brown's decision about the MBC not having standing to even bring the suit, two of the three judges of that appeals court had significant ties with the MBC and probably should have recused themselves from hearing the case. Those judges no longer serve on the appeals court.

I will be at Windermere this weekend for a meeting of the BGCM board of directors in preparation for the BGCM's annual meeting next month at the Fee Fee Baptist Church in St. Louis. Dan Bench, CEO of Windermere, is scheduled to bring a report to the group and will undoubtedly reflect on this most recent ruling.

My sense is that many Missouri Baptists are tired of the ongoing lawsuits against the five agencies and would prefer to see their Cooperative Program offerings go towards missions and ministry rather than to the pockets of the lawyers who represent the MBC in this case. While I believe that to be true, I also seriously doubt that there will be a forum for them to express those sentiments, as the Legal Task Force of the MBC continues to paint an optimistic picture that the lawsuits will eventually be won by the convention and thus the exorbitant legal expenses are justifiable. Lost in all the rhetoric about the "renegade" institutions being stolen from Missouri Baptists is the fact that the five agencies in question still willingly serve all Missouri Baptists who choose to avail themselves of their ministries. The defunding of these agencies by the MBC and the efforts to harm their ministries represents a very sad chapter in Missouri Baptist history.

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