December 16, 2002
JEFFERSON CITY — Arbitration is no longer an option for the five institutions that have broken away from the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
The MBC Executive Board voted overwhelmingly at its quarterly meeting Dec. 10 to follow the advice of its legal team and eliminate the arbitration offer that had been extended to Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Missouri Baptist College, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist Foundation and Word & Way.
Randy Comer, a member of the legal task force and pastor of First Baptist, Bethany, urged the Executive Board to follow the advice of its attorneys.
"As you know, we have tried for quite some time to have discussions and establish a dialogue with these institutions, but it has not happened," he said. "Legal action has been filed and a motion to dismiss has been denied. We are now moving down the legal road.
"We did not choose this road and have invited them to come back and talk. This hasn’t happened, and now we’re following the direction the convention has given us and that is to recover the institutions."
In response to questions about the necessity of withdrawing the arbitration option, Comer said the legal task force is concerned that as the case proceeds the institutions will want to try binding arbitration if it appears they are going to lose the suit for declaratory judgment.
Comer reminded the board that on more than one occasion the institutions had rejected offers of Christian binding arbitration.
In a related legal matter, Mike Whitehead, chief legal counsel for the MBC, informed the Executive Board that the legal team expects to file motions in Cole County Court, asking Judge Tom Brown to compel the five rebel agencies to produce certain documents.
"For example, we have asked for all documents pertaining to any extraordinary expenditures or transactions outside the regular course of business," Whitehead said in a letter to the board. "This means, in effect, that Windermere should produce documents about their construction project.
"We know from county real estate records that over $6 million in mortgage debt have been recorded against the land. We expect that Windermere will resist producing all the documents we requested, so we will go to the judge to ask him to compel production.
"After some initial discovery, we expect to file a motion for preliminary injunction against Windermere and others, regarding any extraordinary expenditure."