MBC Executive Board approves plan to continue funding legal battle
By Bob Baysinger
October 21, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board has approved a plan that will generate funding for a continued legal effort against five breakaway agencies without using Cooperative Program dollars.
The board took the action at a special meeting Oct. 9 at the Baptist Building.
The plan, which must be approved by messengers attending the 2003 MBC annual meeting in St. Louis Nov. 3-5, recommends an Agency Restoration Fund to cover projected expenses of up to $1 million.
The proposal calls for expenses to be funded by a bank line of credit.
Principal and interest payments would be covered by authorized gifts from churches and individuals and from any award of costs recovered from defendants or their insurers. The names of churches backing the proposed fund were not disclosed.
The Agency Restoration Fund motion, approved overwhelmingly by the board, stipulates that no 2004 Cooperative Program (CP) funds be used for legal expenses.
A second motion, approved initially by the board’s administrative committee before going before the full board, would empower the MBC to authorize the executive board to obtain a bank line of credit up to $1 million at prime rate and secured by reasonable collateral. Money from the line of credit would be drawn as needed to fund the expenses for the Legal Task Force fees and costs and fund the Agency Restoration Fund.
In other action, the board:
- Voted to recommend a $16.2 million budget to convention messengers.
- Approved a plan to use money formerly earmarked for William Jewell College if messengers in St. Louis vote to remove William Jewell funding from the 2004 budget. The proposal calls for $200,000 to be used to establish two endowment funds for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, $100,000 for endowment funds at both Southwest Baptist University and Hannibal-LaGrange College, and $200,000 for two endowments for the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. The remaining $450,000 would be held in a reserve account.
Mike Whitehead, a Kansas City attorney who heads the MBC legal team, said at least four Missouri Baptist churches have pledged financial support for the Agency Restoration Fund.
"If approved at St. Louis, this will show that the Missouri Baptist Convention is committed to recovering the five agencies," Whitehead said, "and that the legal effort will be funded through next year without using CP money."
David Clippard, MBC executive director, described the proposed 2004 budget as very realistic. "There is no fluff in this budget," he said. "We’re operating with 15 fewer employees than we had last year."
Much of the budget discussion by the executive board’s administrative committee centered on what to do with the more than $1 million that will be available if convention messengers vote to take William Jewell College out of the 2004 budget.
"This is a unique moment," said Jay Scribner, administrative committee chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church, Branson. "I wish we were not here, but we are.
"I’d like to see us work hand-in-hand with Midwestern Seminary to help us start 100 new churches in Missouri next year. They ought to step up to the plate with us on that if it is possible to formulate some guidelines."
Another committee member suggested that the money could be used to begin supporting the five breakaway institutions "when we get them back."
Clippard suggested that the William Jewell money be held in reserve.
When it was suggested that Cooperate Program giving would increase after the lawsuit is settled, Clippard predicted it will take time.
"I think we will stay where we are for a while," he said. "A church budget is a hard thing to change."
Clippard asked if it would be possible to keep the William Jewell money in reserve and make a decision at the December board meeting. Scriber said that would not be possible.
"If we don’t deal with the million dollars here, it will be dealt with on the convention floor. I can just about guarantee you," Scribner said.
When it became obvious that there was not a consensus for either Scribner’s or Clippard’s proposals, Cindy Province, also a member of the administrative committee, offered a compromise plan to keep some in reserve and give some to Midwestern and the two Baptist colleges that did not break away.
"I’m very sensitive to the need for a reserve fund," Province said, "but we do have to move forward. If the institutions come back, I don’t think they can reasonably expect us to have money available for them immediately."
Before the executive board voted on the proposed budget, David Baker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Belton, urged fellow executive board members to begin thinking about the establishment of a Missouri Baptist-supported undergraduate program in the Kansas City area.
"Some of our students go to Southwest Baptist, but most are staying in the area and attending Mid-America Nazarene, Avila or Calvary Bible College," Baker said. "Virtually none go to William Jewell. It seems at some point we need to explore an undergraduate program in Kansas City."
After the vote, John Justice, a board member and pastor of Grant Avenue Baptist Church, Springfield, described the budget as realistic. "It honors both God and the Convention," he said.
In other action, the board approved a $14,000 contract with the auditing firm of Williams, Keeper and Payne of Jefferson City to audit MBC financial records in 2004.