Kansas City – The Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City has scheduled a hearing on July 25 in the appeal by the Missouri Baptist Foundation regarding its attempted breakaway from the Missouri Baptist Convention.
In an order issued on June 1, the court set the case for oral argument by attorneys for both sides at 9 a.m. on July 25, before Division Four. The three judge panel sitting as Division Four will be Judges James Welsh, Thomas Newton and Owens Lee Hull, Jr.
Judge Hull is a trial court judge in Platte County sitting as a “special judge” in Division Four. The court of appeals often invites trial court judges to sit on appeals panels, to help handle the volume of cases.
Judge Welsh has been on the court of appeals since 2007, and Judge Newton has served since 1999.
The appeal is from a trial court ruling in favor of MBC, which was initially entered by Cole County Judge Paul Wilson on Dec. 31, 2010. The judgment was later affirmed by Judge Byron Kinder, Cole County senior judge.
In a 37-page decision, Wilson stated that “[i]n October of 2001, the Foundation deliberately, repeatedly, and surreptitiously ignored the Convention’s right [to approve charter changes] solely for the purpose of … eliminating it.”
The convention’s rights were “plainly and unequivocally provided” by the 1994 charter, and the foundation’s trustees “knowingly and purposefully violated the provisions of the 1994 charter by attempting to … cut off MBC’s rights….” In one section, the judge described the actions of the breakaway board as trying to “cheat the Convention out of its rights.”
As a result of these actions, the court ordered the foundation to return control of the board to the MBC-elected trustees, and to pay the convention’s attorneys fees and costs for the past 8 years, plus the appeals costs. Judge Kinder stayed the order pending the appeal.
Michael Whitehead, MBC legal counsel, said that the trial judge’s order was forcefully written and well-reasoned. “We will ask the court of appeals to affirm the trial court’s judgment, upholding the Convention’s rights and restoring the Foundation to the MBC family.”