MBC, Word & Way reach respectful agreement
Newspaper submissively departs board meeting
By Allen Palmeri
December 16, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – The opening prayer of Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) President David Tolliver at the Dec. 9 Executive Board meeting was a prayer of reconciliation.
“I pray that even in disagreement You (God) would always help us to be agreeable, and to love You most of all, and in that and through that to love one another," Tolliver prayed before any business took place.
“I ask You to help us in everything we do to have a Christ-like spirit and attitude. We do pray for the ministry of the Missouri Baptist Convention and for the ministry of Word & Way. We pray that Your will would be done ultimately and supremely in all of our lives."
Tolliver’s prayer was answered. Representatives of the Word & Way, the former MBC news journal, submissively left the Baptist Building .
“Our staff will be respectfully dismissed this morning," Word & Way Editor Bill Webb announced to a room full of trustees before Tolliver prayed.
In a Nov. 19 letter to Webb, Tolliver asked Word & Way to stay away from future MBC meetings due to actions taken by the Word & Way’s board of trustees to separate themselves and the news journal from the convention. The news journal was one of five MBC entities that elected to have a self-perpetuating board of trustees. The MBC filed a suit for declaratory judgment against the Word & Way and four other institutions seeking a court ruling on who has the authority to appoint trustees.
Litigants should not be in direct communication or personal interaction with one another, Tolliver said. Webb, by his actions, agreed.
“I don’t know all that’s on your agenda today, and I don’t know what our readers might miss by our not being present, but I simply need to affirm I wish it were not this way," said Webb during a three-minute address to the Executive Board prior to Tolliver’s prayer.
Tolliver, who chose to provide a platform for Webb to speak, emphasized that none of the events that led to the Word & Way being respectfully dismissed Dec. 9 was personal. Litigation took priority.
Even as he prayed, the president was looking forward to the day when “this action," as he put it, will not be necessary. He prayed with noticeable confidence that the will of God would be done ultimately and supremely in the lives of all Missouri Baptists.