Jim Hill, RDI benefiting from MBC connections
Don HinklePathway Editor
February 25, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY — When a sympathetic, liberal-controlled Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board agreed to give former MBC Executive Director Jim Hill his six-figure salary for one year along with the title to a convention-owned 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis, accrued vacation pay (certainly in excess of another months’ wages), insurance and benefits for a year, computer equipment and numerous office furnishings some conservatives were a bit annoyed.
Conservatives, known as champions of the view that objective truth exists, experienced the phenomenon of mixed emotions that October day in 2001; for they were relieved to see Hill leave, but dismayed over the severance terms with which he left.
Conservatives – still three months away from having a majority on the executive board – were helpless.
Disgruntled liberals, of whom Southern Baptists in Missouri had simply had enough, were about to be shown the door, but before their departure they exacted one more pound of flesh: Hill’s severance package.
Despite the liberal majority, board member Jay Scribner, pastor of First Baptist, Branson, teased for his diminutive appearance but a towering figure when it comes to integrity, implored the board to offer six months salary rather than a year.
Not a chance.
A long-time Missourian, from an outstanding family, Hill faithfully served and arguably deserved severance. The terms remain a topic of debate.
So why pick at this old scab?
Hill will likely be a central figure when the MBC’s case against the five institutions — where trustees voted to become self-perpetuating — goes to trial, probably later this year.
Attorneys on both sides are in the “discovery” phase of trial preparation, a process in which requested documents are exchanged and scrutinized for relevance. Depositions, in which key witnesses to facts in the case will be asked questions under oath by attorneys representing the other side, could begin in a matter of weeks. The attorneys are scheduled to meet in Cole County Circuit Court in June to report to the judge on their progress.
Upon his hiring in November 1997, Hill was hailed as a neutral of sort politically by supporters and the media. In reality he was anything but neutral. He arrived in Jefferson City after having pastored South County Baptist Church, St. Louis, where his church had included the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) in the church budget. The CBF is the national organization formed by disgruntled moderates and liberals who dislike the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) because of its conservative direction over the past two decades.
Hill was one of three who headed something called Friends of Theological Education in the Midwest, a group formed in 1992 to oppose the pro-SBC trustees at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Of course it was under Hill’s “watch” as MBC executive director in which liberal/moderate-controlled trustee boards for all five agencies – Missouri Baptist College, Missouri Baptist Foundation, The Baptist Home, Word & Way, and Windermere Baptist Conference Center – voted to become self-perpetuating. In every case Hill took no action to reverse the trustees’ actions and even publicly endorsed the action by trustees at Windermere.
In fact, it was Jim Hill’s idea, as part of his now defunct “New Directions” plan that Windermere was removed from the control of the MBC Executive Board and made a separate corporate entity. In action that would have made Ezekiel proud some conservatives screamed from the watchtower that this set the stage for the trustees to steal Windermere. Hill’s bold idea certainly worried many Missouri Baptists, but in the end enough had their fears assuaged by leaders like Randy Fullerton, pastor of Fee Fee Baptist Church in St. Louis, who was on the executive board at the time and had been instrumental in Hill’s hiring. Fee Fee is where the founding meeting of the new Baptist General Convention of Missouri was held in 2001. Interestingly, just 10 months after Fullerton stood on the stage at the MBC’s annual meeting in 2000 and assured messengers that the Windermere trustees would not become self-perpetuating; he presided as chairman over trustees who voted to do that very thing with Missouri Baptist College.
Beloved Windermere, with its more than three miles of shoreline along the Lake of the Ozarks, is sure to garner considerable attention among the attorneys involved in the MBC’s case against the five agencies.
While many Missouri Baptists have long known about the terms under which Hill departed, they may be unaware that, even though Hill’s controversial severance package has long expired, he continues to make money from some of the former MBC agencies.
Shortly after his resignation, Hill took a job with RDI Consulting (RDI stands for Resource Development Incorporated) in Springfield. He now serves as the company’s president and chief executive officer. The company is described as a “resource serving the non-profit community as comprehensive development consultants,” according to its Web site. “Today our firm provides a wide range of strategy planning, resource development and management services to our clients,” it adds.
Who can be counted among the 48 distinguished clients listed on RDI’s Web site?
Windermere for one — and you can throw in the Missouri Baptist Foundation and The Baptist Home for good measure. Those three — with assets said to be worth more than $100 million — may not come as a shock. More of a surprise might be that Southwest Baptist University, William Jewell College and — low and behold — the Missouri Baptist Convention can be found on their client list.
That’s right, the MBC.
I think I can speak with a great confidence that RDI is no longer providing services to the MBC.
The year may bring many more surprises about the activities and connections of Dr. Hill and RDI. Stay tuned.