Yesterday the Missouri State Supreme Court denied the Missouri Baptist Convention's request to re-hear its case against the Windermere Baptist Conference Center. The MBC has now run out of legal options it would seem in its quest to overturn the decision handed down more than a year ago by Judge Richard Callahan in which he sustained that the Windermere trustees had acted legally in amending their charter to allow the election of their own trustees. ABP has a report here on the latest in the ongoing lawsuits by the MBC against five Baptist agencies in the state.
As of Wednesday morning at 6:30, the MBC's Pathway still hasn't weighed in on the Supreme Court's decision. In every previous defeat suffered in this ongoing legal battle that has consumed time, energy, and resources for the past 6 years, the Pathway has managed to spin some kind of a positive message of reassurance to the MBC faithful that they would ultimately prevail in the court of law. It will require an extra measure of creativity it seems to do so once again in the face of the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case.
It seems that all of their hopes now are pinned on a separate case in Camden County where (contrary to their earlier affirmations that the lawsuits were theologically and biblically permissible because they were suing institutions and not individuals) they are pursuing legal action against certain individuals involved in Windermere's development and financing operations subsequent to the charter change. Most of the cases against the individuals named in those cases have also been dropped, and hopefully the Supreme Court's decision yesterday will accelerate the decision to dismiss the charges against other individuals named as well.
It remains to be seen if the MBC will continue to push forward in its quest to regain control of the other four entities involved--Missouri Baptist University, The Baptist Home, The Baptist Foundation, and Word & Way. Popular opinion seems to indicate that Windermere with its beautiful location and wonderful encampment facilities was the big prize on the table and perhaps the other entities weren't viewed by the MBC as being quite as valuable. That might explain the decision to pursue initially the suit against Windermere rather than the other four agencies.
It will be interesting to see the MBC's response to this latest defeat in the legal battle. Will they doggedly press forward, spending Cooperative Program offering money to try and regain control of the other agencies? They have suggested at every turn of the road that they must do so because they have a mandate from the messengers to the annual MBC gathering to do so. If you'll pardon a biblical analogy though at this point, it seems to me that the situation is not unlike the Jewish authorities in Jesus' day stirring up the crowds to demand the crucifixion of Jesus and the release of Barrabas, only to then argue that they were simply responding to the demands of the people. The consistent push by the MBC leadership to regain control of the agencies is what has fueled whatever vestige of popular sentiment that exists to continue pursuing the lawsuits against fellow Missouri Baptist agencies. Hopefully this latest legal defeat will quell some of the frenzy for further legal action. It's high time to put these issues to rest and get on with the task of sharing the Good News with the state, the nation, and the world.