January 6, 2011
Missouri Baptist Convention Regains Control of Charitable Agencies
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a local judge has ruled in favor of the Missouri Baptist Convention, rejecting an attempt by the Missouri Baptist Foundation to prevent Convention leaders from controlling the Foundation's board (and through that board, the Foundation's $140 million in assets). The dispute apparently arose because of differences between the increasingly conservative Convention, which is the state arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Foundation leaders. The court found that the Convention had the right to approve or object to all amendments to the Foundation's Charter, including amendments relating to Convention authority over the Foundation's board. The Convention has not, however, been as successful with respect to similar disputes with other Baptist charities in Missouri. The Windermere Baptist Conference Center successfully amended its Bylaws to make its board self-perpetuating, without Convention approval required, as lower state courts upheld the amendment and the Missouri Supreme Court denied the Convention's appeal of that decision. The Convention also dropped a similar lawsuit agains the Word & Way newspaper. Litigation is still pending with respect to Missouri Baptist University and the Baptist Home, a network of senior residences and nursing homes. These cases may provide an interesting case study in how differences in governing documents can have a significant affect on future disputes between affiliated charities.
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