JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)–A Missouri state judge has stayed a Dec. 31 ruling that had been viewed as a key legal victory in the Missouri Baptist Convention’s effort to recover the Missouri Baptist Foundation, one of five breakaway convention entities.
Senior Judge Byron Kinder issued a stay Jan. 24 that will stay in place while the foundation appeals the ruling to the Missouri Court of Appeals.
The judgment as written by former judge Paul Wilson — whose term expired Dec. 31 — would have required the foundation on Jan. 30 to surrender control to trustees elected by the Missouri Baptist Convention. Since the foundation broke away from MBC in 2001, its board has been comprised of self-electing trustees. The self-perpetuating board will now remain in control of the corporation during the appeal to the Kansas City appellate court.
“Even in complex cases, there is sometimes a simple truth that cannot be ignored,” Wilson wrote. The judge, in his ruling, stated that “[i]n October of 2001, the Foundation deliberately, repeatedly, and surreptitiously ignored the Convention’s right [to approve charter changes] solely for the purpose of … eliminating it.”
The convention’s rights were “plainly and unequivocally provided” by the 1994 charter, and the foundation’s trustees “knowingly and purposefully violated the provisions of the 1994 charter by attempting to … cut off MBC’s rights….”
The foundation released a statement after the Dec. 31 ruling, stating, “[T]his ruling is just a first step in a longer process by which the matters addressed in the judge’s ruling will be reviewed by the Missouri judicial system.”
Missouri Baptist Convention attorney Michael Whitehead, though, said he believes the Dec. 31 ruling breaks a “legal log jam.”
“Judge Wilson’s ruling provides a clear path for resolving the MBC lawsuits,” Whitehead said.
Based on reporting by staff of The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.