The Baptist Home and
The Missouri Baptist Convention Controversy
Steven Jones, President
- Communications from the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) leadership is heavily slanted to support the litigation against the institutions. Missouri Baptists are wise to get alternative viewpoints in order to get a well-rounded perspective of the legal claims filed by the MBC’s Agency Restoration Group (ARG).
- The Baptist Home (Home) was founded and established by Dr. Milford and Mary Riggs in May of 1913. The first board of trustees was appointed by Dr. Riggs to provide oversight and accountability.
- During the “darkest day of Baptist Home history,” an Iron County businessman rescued the Home from financial ruin on April 19, 1935. He was a member of an Episcopalian church. In spite of pleas to the Missouri Baptist General Association’s (now, the MBC) leadership, it withdrew all financial support for the Home. The businessman gave the Home to a reorganized board of Baptists appointed by 2nd Superintendent Dr. D. J. Scott.
- In November of 1935, the Association began making contributions to the Home again. Dr. Scott reminded Missouri Baptists that it amounted to $64.36 per month. This amount supported the Home less than 20 days per year.
- In the late 1950’s, the executive director and attorney for the MBC approached 3rd Superintendent, John Burney, with a proposal (during an era of voluntary cooperation and congregational polity) that the Home allow the Convention to approve trustees and charter changes. It was later shown the section that allowed for the Convention to approve charter changes was not legal at the time; therefore it was void since inception.
- Burney made it clear; the trustees had final control of its operations and choose its own trustees for Convention approval. This was the practice until the politicization of the Convention in 2001.
- Financial support from the Association and its successor (MBC) was historically small and declining. In the 1990’s, for every $1 of support the Home received from the Convention, the Home had to raise another $3 to cover the benevolent care costs of its residents. The money contributed to The Home by the MBC was spent in the year it was given to support needy residents. No Cooperative Program funds or State Mission Offerings have been given to the Home since 2002.
- The Home receives no government subsidies or reimbursements from Medicare or Medicaid. The ministry is paid for by residents who pay fees for services and by donors (Baptists and non-Baptists) who give directly to the Home.
- The Association or its successor (MBC) has never given money for property, or owned or held title to any property of the Home.
- Ascending liability was a major concern of Baptists in the latter half of the 20th century, as it should be today. The very courageous and principled trustees acted as fiduciaries by deciding to protect the Home, the Convention, the churches, the messengers, the associations and institutions from these threats.
- The board of trustees changed its charter documents in September 2000 to remove the privilege of the MBC to approve charter changes (that was voided anyway) and to approve trustees.
- The Home’s leadership met with the Convention’s leadership by telephone and in face-to-face meetings before, during and after the 2000 decision about these concerns.
- Messengers, at the MBC annual meeting in October 2000, accepted these changes by overwhelmingly defeating an effort from the floor to reverse the trustees’ decision. The Inter Agency Relations Committee gave unanimous approval for a covenant accepting the charter changes and it was approved by the only legal body of the MBC (Executive Board) in July of 2001.
- A politicized group of Baptists gained control of the MBC’s leadership in October of 2001 and led an effort to successfully cancel the covenant. After reneging on the covenant, the group led in the appointment of a Legal Task Force (Agency Restoration Group) to seek remedies through ‘secular courts.’
- No contract has ever existed between the Home and the Association or the MBC.
- The Association or the MBC was never a sole member of the Home.
- The Home sought resolution to the lawsuit filed by the MBC’s leadership by promptly considering ‘Christian binding arbitration,’ participating in court ordered mediation, submitting a proposal for ARG consideration, willing to meet with leaders in the ‘Save Our Convention’ movement, and offering to meet with MBC’s leadership without the presence of attorneys anywhere at any time. The ARG actively squashed all of these attempts.
- The Baptist Home uses its own money to pay for legal defense costs. It does not use liability insurance for this purpose. The Home does not need the additional challenges of legal costs that channel funds away from ministry that could otherwise be used to maintain, enhance, strengthen and grow its mission.
- The Baptist Home is grateful for the work of the MBC when it is focused on evangelism, discipleship, missions and ministry. However, the litigious actions of the MBC’s leadership are a violation of scriptural teaching found in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.
- The Home’s leadership is willing to meet with any individual and organization as it can be arranged on the calendar to discuss any matter related to the Home. The Home’s practice is to make its leadership accessible and accountable.
- The Baptist Home believes there are no winners in the lawsuits. The hurt and broken relationships will continue far into the future unless the MBC’s leadership ceases its unjust persecution of the institutions in the courts. Wasted legal dollars on all sides will distract Missouri Baptist contributions to the “Great Commission.”
- The Baptist Home mission has not changed. It has expanded its ministry throughout the world. Missouri Baptists have equal access to the Home’s services regardless of the politics within the convention.
The following is my perspective on the Missouri Baptist Convention controversy as it relates to litigation against The Baptist Home. I have heard the Convention leadership’s narrative given in the courts and at the annual meetings. I have read several court documents and articles published in The Pathway (the Convention’s official news journal). The leadership’s narrative is heavily slanted in the Convention’s favor, leaving Baptists badly informed of the Home’s history and relationship to the Convention. I hope Missouri Baptists will understand that the information they’ve received from the Convention’s leadership is not the full story. I hope they will consider other points of view before judgments are made about these matters. Unfortunately, the Home does not have the same access to Missouri Baptists as does the Convention’s leadership through its media outlets and its professionally-trained spokesman. In addition, The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com) is not an objective source of information about ongoing litigation against the Home and is simply a promotional voice for the opinions and views of the Convention’s narrowly focused leadership. Since the Word and Way (www.wordandway.org) is severely restricted in its coverage of Convention issues, Baptists are not getting a fair and balanced treatment of the news related to the Missouri Baptist Convention. I would also direct Missouri Baptists to additional sources of Baptist News Global (www.baptistnews.com) and Ethics Daily (www.EthicsDaily.com) for additional perspectives regarding issues of interest to Missouri Baptists.
I take full responsibility for the content of this document. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of trustees, officers, former or current employees, residents, or their families. It is not my purpose to criticize the churches of the Missouri Baptist Convention or the majority of Baptist pastors or lay leaders who remain above the fray in the controversy. My criticism is directed towards a handful of leaders who have seized control of the Convention and asserted their narrowly focused agenda for the control of the Convention. Any information contained herein should not be construed as a substitute for professional legal advice. I do not pretend to be an expert at law and I recommend consultation with a licensed and professional attorney in all legal matters. I realize we live in a big house with many windows and each brings a perspective to what we see and experience. I have made every effort to speak honestly and truthfully about the controversy through the Home’s window from which I peer. I am interested in hearing from others if they have additional or contrary evidence to the information in this paper. I can assure you that I want the truth to ring out from the mountain tops and for the correct information to flow freely and abundantly. I earnestly desire for a meaningful solution to the divisiveness in the Convention and a more productive era of Kingdom work.
The Home’s Founding
The Missouri Home for Aged Baptists was founded and established by Dr. Milford and Mary Riggs in May of 1913. A board of trustees was appointed by Dr. Riggs to provide oversight and accountability. Charter documents were developed, accepted and registered with the state of Missouri. The ministry officially started when the first residents arrived at a rented house in Ironton. Within a year, the need outgrew the space and a larger house was acquired in 1914. A new site was developed in 1923, east of Ironton, where the Arcadia Valley campus is today. In 1917, the Missouri Baptist General Association (now known as the Missouri Baptist Convention) began sending contributions. The Home struggled financially, particularly in the early years of its history. Dr. and Mrs. Riggs did all they could to keep the mission going. Dr. Riggs worked tirelessly to sustain the ministry with resources within and outside of Missouri, while Mrs. Riggs tended to the daily care needs of residents. Their health nearly broke while grieving the death of their son who was killed in France during World War I and the Black Thursday stock market crash which plunged the country into the Great Depression.
In a History of Missouri Baptists, published by the Executive Board of the Association in 1934, we found the following quote, “It is sometimes possible to trace the origin and growth of an institution to one man, and that is emphatically the case in the history of the Home for Aged Baptists. To one man is due the conception of the idea, the beginning of the enterprise, and the creation of the present fine plant” (1934). The Home was without question, founded and established by Dr. and Mrs. Riggs.
The Financial Crisis of the 1935
Dr. D. J. Scott became the second superintendent in April of 1932. He and his wife Maude worked just as vigorously as the founders to secure the ministry. “Dr. Scott was God’s man for a difficult time,” third superintendent John Burney explained. “No one else could have done it.” The Baptist Home was deeply in debt, most of the food supplies were consumed, and local merchants would not allow the Home additional credit. The annual contribution received from the Association was $1,306.80, which was barely enough to operate the Home for 20 days. The mortgage on the Home’s property was $126,000, but the lender agreed to accept $60,000 (less than fifty cents on the dollar borrowed). A group of volunteer women raised enough money to pay off the first mortgage in December 1934. Dr. Scott referred to them as the “Baptist League to Aid the Aged.”
However, in March of 1935, five legal notices appeared in the Iron County newspaper announcing a sheriff’s sale because of unpaid debts in the amount of $1,731.51. On April 19, 1935, the property was sold on the courthouse steps on what became known as the “darkest day in Baptist Home history.” Episcopalian and local businessman R. L. Barger won the bid for $131. Mr. Barger, not knowing what to do with the old people living on the property, gave the ministry to a new corporation and a new board of Baptists appointed by Dr. Scott. He did so for the sum of “one dollar and other valuable considerations.” On the other hand, the Association’s leadership withheld its contribution to the Home. In spite of pleas for assistance, it was actually an Episcopalian who rescued the Home from financial ruin. Dr. Scott wrote, “. . . we are quite sure that we have no disposition to criticize their action; but we do know that here we are at the Home with 74 fine old helpless saints in Zion that have to be fed and clothed and nursed and cared for in general, and have medicines, regardless of their action.” In a time of desperate need, the Association’s leadership withheld all support.
As better days emerged in November 1935, the Association recognized the “Home for Aged Baptists” as an organization worthy of support, and once again, began sending funds through the Cooperative Program. It was certainly good news, but Dr. Scott wanted Baptists to remember, “Our checks from the cooperative program are greatly appreciated, but we could not begin to start to commence to operate the Home on the income from the co-operative program. Last month the amount received from that source was $64.36.” During the ‘darkest day of Baptist Home history’, the Association’s leadership withdrew support and the Home was rescued by an Episcopalian businessman.
History of Support for the Home
The Home is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has never depended on the Association or its successor (the MBC) for its legal status with the IRS or the State of Missouri. It is exempted from income, sales, and property taxes based on its own nonprofit status. The Home owns its property and equipment. In 1980’s, the Home expanded its ministry to north Missouri in Chillicothe. Although the Convention’s leadership was supportive, it declined financial participation. A decade later, the Home expanded its ministry to southwest Missouri in Ozark. Again, the Convention’s leadership declined financial assistance. Former Executive Director Ed Goodwin confirmed, “In the 22 years of my administration, the MBC never gave any monetary support for the construction and development of any building project or property purchase of the Home.” In 2014, the Home purchased its fourth property near Ashland with its own funds without Convention’s leadership involvement or support. Former President Larry Johnson commented, “Knowing how many times since the Home’s founding in 1913 the MBC’s leadership steered clear of the Home when it was in financial trouble in order to avoid any legal and financial liabilities, the most notable being in 1935 when the Home was sold on the court house steps and was rescued by a local Episcopalian businessman, and knowing how the Convention’s leadership has refused every time to give any financial help when the Home has expanded to now four campuses, I was shocked beyond belief to hear an attorney for the Convention argue in court before the judge and everyone else that the Missouri Baptist Convention ‘birthed, built and funded The Baptist Home’!”
Perhaps the Missouri Baptist Convention did all that it could; however, the financial support for the Home was historically small and declining. In some cases, the Home was left out altogether from the Convention’s capital campaigns. According to The Baptist Home, dated October 1952, “In 1952, an additional $200,000 Capital Needs was added to the Cooperative Program budget, $75,000 allocated to a Church Building Loan fund; $20,000 to Hannibal-LaGrange College; $20,000 to Southwest Baptist College Loan fund; $20,000 to Missouri Baptist Children’s Home; $50,000 to Baptist Press Building; $15,000 to Other Needs; The Home for Aged Baptists was not included in the allocations. No, the Home, does not share in the $200,000 Capital Needs Fund. We asked for the crumbs that fell from the table (the $15,000 Other Needs), but for some reason the Committee did not see fit to allow that to go to The Home.”
As the Home emerged from the great depression and better economic times took hold after World War II, support from the Cooperative Program for the Home eventually paid approximately one-half of its annual operating costs in the 1950’s. However, as operating expenses increased, by 1965 Cooperative Program support fell to 14% of the Home’s operating budget. Soon into the 1970’s, support declined to 8%. In the 1990’s, it declined further to 5%. Since 2002, the Home has had no support from the Cooperative Program. Of all Convention projects, the Home received one of the lowest percentages of support of the Convention’s budget. During budget discussions, Mr. Burney expressed a common feeling of disappointment and described it as receiving “crumbs off the table for the old people.” The Association or its successor (the MBC) has never owned any property of the Home, and have never contributed to the cost of or held any legal title to the properties of the Home. For the Convention’s leadership to suggest the Association or its successor (the MBC) paid for the Home through the Cooperative Program or any other offering is absurd. The ministry is paid for by residents who pay fees for services, and by donors (Baptists and non-Baptists) who gave directly to the Home.
Dr. Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, criticized trustees of institutions who have “distanced themselves or altogether broken from their state conventions.” In a book, For the Church: A Collection of Essays, published in 2013, he writes, “Though diminishing denominational support is a lamentable trend, it is not a permission slip to drift from denominational governance. Whether the Cooperative Program supplies 100 percent of an SBC seminary’s budget or 1 percent, from an ownership standpoint the amount is irrelevant. Southern Baptists have built, funded and own their seminaries.” I do not understand how that less than 50% funding would indicate controlling ownership of another organization and I do not think this reasoning would get very far in the business world. Regardless, while this may be true for seminaries, for many ministries, such as the Home, it is not. Unfortunately, Baptists were given a revisionist history by its current leadership that the Convention “built, funded and own” the state institutions and it supported all their needs through the Cooperative Program. However, this notion is mistaken and it gave a false sense of ownership to the new leadership (many of them are new to the SBC/MBC history, faith and practice). While financial support was greatly appreciated, it is illusory to believe state institutions were “built” and could survive on Cooperative Program funding alone. Again, this idea of Convention ownership is mostly a recent belief among a more authoritarian and revisionist leadership.
Although, Dr. Allen discouraged Baptist institutions from looking “elsewhere” for financial support, he speaks from a much better funding position than that of many state institutions. “Southern Baptists have proven themselves relentlessly generous in funding their seminaries. So much so, that currently the Cooperative Program supplies between 25 and 45 percent of each of the six seminaries’ budgets.” However, he warns, “The surest way to maintain operational control over an institution is to continue to be its strongest financial supporter.” Of course, Dr. Allen is advocating for greater support through the Cooperative Program, but in practice he has had “to look elsewhere.” Even though the seminary receives its support from the national SBC portion of the Cooperative Program, the seminary now receives extra funding directly from the Missouri Baptist Convention. This is to the dismay of Hannibal LaGrange University and Southwest Baptist University that resisted the extra funding, but failed. It is another example of how state institutions have had “to look elsewhere” and could not depend on Convention’s leadership support alone to pay the bills.
The Cooperative Program is a giving program designed by Southern Baptists to promote the “Great Commission.” Churches donate money to state conventions which pass a major portion to the Southern Baptist Convention. The Home did not receive financial support from the Southern Baptist Convention, but did receive financial support from the Missouri Baptist Convention. Although the Home was grateful for these donations, actually by the time it trickled down to the Home, there was little left to provide meaningful support. The Home learned not to depend on Convention funds. It developed one of the most successful advancement programs in the United States amid nonprofit long-term care and senior housing ministries. It remains one of only a few nonprofit providers that do not receive government subsidies of any kind. The Baptist Home, the first among Baptists nationwide, is envied by providers for not having to depend on government funding, and yet continuing to provide a significant amount of benevolent financial support for needy older adults. God has certainly blessed the Home, but the needs of older adults become more pressing every day. The Home does not need the additional challenges of legal costs that channel funds away from ministry that could otherwise be used to maintain, enhance, strengthen and grow its mission.
Today, Cooperative Program funds are wrongly used to finance the litigation against the Home. I am sure many SBC/MBC leaders before 2001 are rolling their eyes in disgust, if alive, and if not, rolling over in their graves for such actions. Churches may choose from two plans, ‘A’ or ‘B.’ ‘A’ is the default plan used to support attorney fees and legal costs. Unless a church specifically designates its Cooperative Program funds go to plan ‘B,’ then a portion of plan ‘A’ funds collected under the pretense of missions will pay for legal expenses. I thought I would never see the Cooperative Program used in this way. I understand that the Convention’s leadership has reported less than fifty percent of churches contribute through plan ‘A.’ Since it is the default plan, I wonder how many churches contributing to plan ‘A’ actually know mission funds are being wasted on legal expenses! It is easily concluded that more than fifty percent of MBC churches do not approve of this funding or the litigious actions. Thus, there is serious disagreement within the MBC regarding the lawsuits.
Over and above the Cooperative Program, there were several additional offerings in which the MBC serves as a ‘pass through’ organization for churches to support various causes. The Home voluntarily agreed to forgo the annual Thanksgiving “I Care Day” offering in the 1980’s, as an effort initiated by the Convention’s leadership to reduce the number of special offerings. The annual “I Care Day” emphasis was discontinued and the Home was added to the State Missions Offering. These offerings were escrowed in the year 2001 for the year 2002 and never reached the Home. Since 2003, the Home has not received Cooperative Program or Missouri Mission offerings from the MBC. Furthermore, in a revengeful spirit, the Anniversary offering that originated with the Home was officially given away to another entity in 2004 by the Convention’s leadership without the Home’s consultation or permission.
All funds donated through the Cooperative Program, the State Missions Offering and the Anniversary Offering went to pay for the benevolent care costs of residents in the year they were given. The offerings were not enough to cover the cost of benevolent care; therefore, the Home needed to raise an additional $3 for every $1 of Convention offering to provide financial support for needy Baptists. Since 2003, the Home has carried 100% of the cost. Nevertheless, all Missouri Baptists continue to have equal access to the Home’s services regardless of the politics within the MBC. Please remember, the Home receives no Medicare, Medicaid or government funding. To do so would jeopardize certain Christian values embraced by the Home, including a firm belief in the separation of church and state. Nor does the Home require residents to give all of their assets in exchange for life care. If residents deplete their resources, then they are eligible for charitable assistance based on need. If a resident’s assets survive his or her death, then the remainder is distributed according to his or her estate plan. The Home was grateful for donations received from the Cooperative Program, State Missions Offering, and the Anniversary Offering; however, the MBC was not the sole or major support for The Baptist Home. The overwhelming charitable support for the Home came directly from individuals, churches, and businesses. These donors were from Missouri and other states, and who were Baptists and non-Baptists.
The Liability Issue
After 2003, the Southern Baptist Convention sought legal counsel regarding the best way to protect its control of institutions and minimize liability. Many state conventions followed their counsel. The attorneys recommended that each entity declare the denomination a sole member of its institutions. GuideStone Financial Resources and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary resisted, but eventually capitulated. However, while the SBC was able to assume ownership as a parent corporation, it more than likely increased its liability exposure. Plaintiff attorneys in 2014 won a 14 million dollar verdict against the Florida Baptist Convention that was an ascending co-defendant in a sexual abuse case involving a pastor of a new church to which the Florida Baptist Convention gave support.
The issue of ascending liability was a major concern of conventions throughout the latter half of the 20th century and should be of concern today. MBC’s leadership understood the threat and approved certain strategies prior to 2000. The Convention’s leadership convened several studies in the past, most recently in the 1970’s, to confirm that it did not own the institutions with which it affiliated. In these studies, it also confirmed the MBC did not have a parent-subsidiary relationship with the institutions. Former Executive Director Rheubin South stated it strongly and clearly in a deposition involving a lawsuit filed against the MBC and Southwest Baptist College in the 1970’s. The Convention’s leadership reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the plaintiffs in the case. Missouri Baptist Hospitals addressed the issue in the 1980’s by removing MBC governance. The Missouri Baptist Children’s Home also took steps in the 1990’s to split into several corporations without MBC governance or approval.
In 1999, The Baptist Home Board of Trustees established an Admissions Policy Review Committee. Its purpose was to address a growing concern that some churches were no longer allowed affiliation with the MBC because of growing political unrest. This was a critical ministry question for the trustees because the Home was the only institution which served Missouri Baptists exclusively. At the time, in order to be a resident of the Home, an applicant had to be a member of a cooperating MBC church for at least one year. Obviously, if a church lost its affiliation with the Convention, then its members would become ineligible for services of the Home. The Committee immediately adopted four objectives to separate the admission issue from the mounting political controversy in the Convention. The objectives became the guiding principles for the ministry of the Home:
- Focus On Ministry. The Home will stay focused on its mission to enhance the lives of Baptist older adults.
- Minister to all Baptists. Because they have so generously supported our mission and ministry for many years, the Home will continue to serve all Baptists.
- Remain neutral on issues that tend to divide Baptists.
- Protect The Home. The Home must do what is necessary to protect this great ministry, its assets, and the endowment funds, which provided for benevolent care.
The committee spent several months doing research, gathering facts to address this question. The committee and the board were assisted by highly skilled and competent legal counsel from Guilfoil, Petzall, & Shoemake, LLC. After reviewing the charter and by-laws, legal counsel advised the board of a far greater concern in today’s litigious environment. The issues were corporate asset preservation and liability concerns spread across the spectrum of ministry relationships. The liability issue was so important and urgent that it overwhelmed the admissions issue. The admissions issue was handled simply by changing the policy to allow residency for all Baptists of churches who have historically cooperated with the MBC. (In 2006 and 2011, the board having an opportunity to expand its evangelistic and ministry outreach, changed its admissions policies to include anyone desiring to live in a Christian and Baptist setting.) According to legal counsel, changing the way trustees were elected was the only way to create a liability safeguard for the MBC and the Home. The decision to establish a self-elected governing board helped to create a firewall of protection. It was unanimous, legal, ethical, and ministries driven since its adoption by the Home’s trustees in September of 2000.
Also pressing, in the same year, was notification by the Home’s insurer that even though the Home had an excellent record, the insurer was no longer providing liability insurance for long-term care facilities. This forced the Home to go into the marketplace to find coverage. Fortunately the Home was able to find insurance, but it was twice the cost and for much less protection. This enlarged the liability exposure for the Home and the MBC in a climate of astronomical financial judgments for plaintiffs. If the Home were successfully sued, plaintiff attorneys would run after other institutions, associations, messengers, churches and the Convention to obtain larger payouts! In turn, the Home could be sued due to an unrelated incident that occurred with the Convention or another affiliated entity! The very courageous, principled, and visionary trustees and leadership of the Home acted as fiduciaries by deciding to protect the Home, the Convention, the churches, the messengers, the associations and institutions from these threats. The Home provides nearly two million dollars of financial assistance to needy older adults each year. Therefore, the Home’s trustees have a responsibility to protect its ability to provide care for those receiving current and future financial aid. The Board of Trustees is convinced its actions have greatly strengthened the ability of the Home to provide ministry to all Missouri Baptists.
The Home’s Governance
No contract has ever existed between The Baptist Home and the Missouri Baptist Convention. The Convention’s attorneys’ alleged the charters, by-laws and financial plans of the Convention are “a contract of sorts” with the institutions. A contract is a verbal or written agreement between two or more parties with certain legal requirements. Normally, a contract includes the names of parties, definitions, dates, mutual agreements and understandings, descriptions of exchanges of money, goods and services, and a statement of how contracts are amended and concluded. All parties must agree in order to change any term of a contract. In Missouri, any contract not defining how it is terminated can be ended at the discretion of either party at any time. Obviously, the Convention and its documents did not meet any of these requirements. The charters, by-laws, and financial plans were simply governing documents for the annual meeting of the Convention and its Executive Board. In addition, the Convention changed its documents unilaterally on many occasions without consulting and seeking agreement with institution trustees. The Convention clearly understood charters, by-laws and financial policy documents are not a contract of any sort; therefore, it did not need to notify and seek the agreement of institution trustees.
In the late 1950’s, Earl Harding (former MBC Executive Director) and Harold Mann (former MBC attorney), approached John Burney with a proposal. Because of the Home’s excellent reputation, they asked the Home to change its documents to allow for greater participation and cooperation in the Missouri Baptist Convention. It was communicated as a voluntary effort by both parties, which was historically Baptist in its practice of congregational polity at the time. Mr. Burney made it clear, “the trustees have final control of its operations and I do not want the Convention approving trustees that did not have love for the old people.” From that point on until 2002, there was a mutual and voluntary understanding of who served as a trustee on the Home’s board. The Home gave an acceptable list of candidates’ names to the nominating committee of the MBC. The committee recommended the list to messengers at each annual meeting. I am not aware of any instance up until 2002 that a candidate submitted by the Home was rejected by the messengers in any annual meeting. Therefore the Home controlled who became a trustee since its founding in 1913. In early 2001, during a telephone conversation between Jay Scribner, (MBC president) and Larry Johnson, (TBH president), Scribner admitted he understood the 2000 decision of the Home’s board and supported it because he knew the importance of choosing who served as officers and on committees in his church.
Interestingly, there is no record of MBC approval in any annual session for the Harding and Mann arrangements with Mr. Burney; therefore, it leads me to believe this was an arrangement by leadership only. On June 23, 1959, the Home’s trustees voluntarily amended its charter documents in order to allow the Convention to approve the Home’s trustees and charter changes. However, the updated documents were clear, as they are today, that the Home had no sole members by which an entity could claim ownership of its institution. Let me say again, the MBC was not and has never been a sole member of the Home’s board. Therefore the Home’s trustees granted certain privileges to the Convention and the Home’s trustees could remove those privileges at any time.
Oddly, the law, at the time, did not allow a not-for-profit board to give up its rights of approving charter changes to another entity; therefore, the section in the 1959 revised charter granting this privilege was invalid. The law declared this provision void ab initio (“from inception”). Such provisions were not permitted until July 1, 1995, when Chapter 355.606 of the Missouri Non-Profit Corporation Act was revised and adopted. However, the revised statute did not require the Home to retroactively make effective the voided provision. In other words, the Convention’s leadership had no authority regarding governing documents of the Home. The authority rested exclusively with the trustees of the Home’s board. In September of 2000, when the Home’s trustees decided to update its documents, they removed provision that was voided from inception.
Does congregational polity apply to Baptist institutions? Although congregational polity is generally thought of as a local church practice, institutions were established in the context of this deeply-held belief defining Baptists. Seldom were Baptist institutions, “built, funded and owned” exclusively by state conventions. It just wasn’t thought of in those ways. Most institutions were founded by individuals or local churches. While many of them eventually closed their doors, several succeeded beyond the imaginations of their founders. Often, the conventions came along afterwards to share in their successes. Winning their support was not always easy! (The reader is encouraged to read the article, “What is a Baptist?” by Dr. Jimmy Draper, October 2000, http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=226).
The Association’s (MBC) leadership often opposed and resisted Dr. and Mrs. Riggs’s’ efforts to establish a home for the aged. People, back then, as some do today, believed families should take care of their old folks. Many of the frail elderly no longer had families and were penniless. Many were abandoned and churches found it too difficult to provide for their care. Also, several aged pastors and their widows had no means of support in retirement. The Home became a ‘deacon’ of sorts for local churches in the truest understanding of Acts 6:1-7.
Attempts were made by some Convention leaders to exert more influence and control over institutions, but generally institutions paved their own paths. Such is the case, as previously mentioned, of who served as trustees on institution boards. For another example, John Burney was not the chosen one of the Association’s (MBC) leadership when he was selected by the Home’s board to become the 3rd Superintendent. Officials visited with Mr. Burney in an attempt to get him to resign the position. Mr. Burney became more determined than ever to prove them wrong. And that he did! Under his leadership, the Home grew and became stronger financially. And, Rev. Ed Goodwin, the first executive director of the Home, shared a story about how the Arcadia Valley campus needed a storage barn. He attempted to report this aim to the Convention’s leadership; however, they did not want him to build the barn. He did it anyway because no MBC funds or obligations were involved. After all, he wasn’t asking for the Convention leadership’s permission, he was reporting the Home’s need. Lightheartedly, after it was built, he offered to dedicate it in the name of the MBC’s executive director.
“Christian Binding Arbitration”
The Home’s leadership met with Convention’s leadership by telephone and in face-to-face meetings before, during and after the 2000 decision. An attempt was made from the floor of the October 2000 convention to rescind the actions of the Home’s trustees. However, the messengers overwhelmingly voted down the attempt. The Home’s president Larry Johnson observed, “Three motions were made from the floor that were intended to punish the Home’s board for its action. All three motions were defeated which was an indication to me that the majority of the messengers were still supportive of the Home.” This is evidenced by a new covenant that was unanimously agreed to by the MBC’s Inter Agency Committee. The covenant was approved by the Executive Board of the Convention in July of 2001 that accepted the Home’s right to elect its own trustees and approve charter changes while the Convention would continue to give the Home financial support. (The courts have determined the Executive Board is the only body that has legal standing for the Convention; therefore the Executive Board was fully empowered to establish the covenant between the Home and the Convention.) Essentially, the new covenant promoted mutual autonomy and expressed a desire to work together for common mission goals. Mr. Johnson said, “I believe that if the covenant had been presented to the messengers for their approval in October 2000 annual meeting, it would have received an affirmative vote.” However, the covenant was cancelled in the 2001 October annual meeting as those who supported the new politics gained control and polarized relationships.
The new politics was led by a nominal Baptist, Roger Moran who founded the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association. After creating the stir, Moran left Missouri Baptist life to join a church of another denomination. Although this group is no longer active, it published scathing and slanderous information on the internet that had little factual basis and that used ‘guilt by association’ tactics against certain leaders and organizations affiliated with the MBC. It had all the elements of a Salem witch hunt. Larry Johnson continues, “This whole issue came about not because the Home changed but because the Convention changed. At any other time, this would never have become an issue that could not be resolved.” After 2001, the Convention’s leadership moved gradually away from mutual collaboration to a level of authoritarianism not seen before in SBC/MBC history.
The Home offered to discuss the matter of ‘Christian binding arbitration’ proposed by the new guard after it threatened legal action against the Home. However, the Convention’s Legal Task Force (now Agency Restoration Group or ARG), submitted new conditions at the last hour before initial meetings could begin (e.g., requiring trustees to immediately withdraw their decision, the Convention be allowed to choose the arbitrator, and all property of the Home be given to and titled to the Convention that it has never owned). These were unacceptable and unreasonable conditions that were placed on mediation efforts. The ‘Christian binding arbitration’ offer was officially withdrawn by the Executive Board in 2004; instead, that ARG chose to seek control through secular courts. It is disingenuous to report the Home refused ‘Christian binding arbitration’ when in reality, the Convention’s leadership withdrew it in 2004 and controlled every condition of it, requiring the Home to capitulate unconditionally without acknowledging the Home’s concerns.
Attempts were made by some recent presidents of the MBC, representatives of the ‘Save Our Convention’ group, and the leadership of the defendant institutions to resolve the disputes outside of the courtroom; however, the ARG and its legal counsel pre-empted these efforts. It was agreed that no attorneys would be present during discussions.
In 2014, the Home was invited by Church Mutual Insurance Company, an insurer of the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Missouri Baptist Foundation, to participate in court-ordered mediation. The Home’s representatives were the first to arrive and the last to leave. The Home’s representatives returned a few weeks later for additional discussions by invitation of the mediators; and again, the Home’s representatives arrived early and were the last to leave. The Home presented a proposal for meaningful compromise during mediation, which was rejected by the ARG without any consideration or comment. It appeared to me that the mediation effort was only to appease the presiding judge who ordered it and there was no serious intent by the ARG to bind the wounds and move toward Kingdom growth and cooperation! It is misleading to report the Home refused all efforts to resolve the concerns of the Convention outside of the courtroom.
Legal Defense Costs
The Baptist Home pays its own defense costs for litigation instigated by the Convention’s leadership. It does not utilize insurance to pay for these expenses. The money for legal defense comes from general operations, thus depriving additional ministry dollars for the mission. It is misleading to imply that these expenses are being covered by the Home’s insurance and does not harm the ministry financially. The ARG seems to justify pursuing litigation because insurance companies are allegedly footing the bill. More to the point, insurance premiums are based on utilization experience. Litigation drives up insurance costs and may cause an institution’s liability coverage to be declined, thereby exposing it to additional risk. Any settlement from an insurance company will come literally from the offering plates of donors as a cost of operation to churches and religious institutions. In addition, insurance companies will raise premiums to recover its losses, driving up future costs for churches and religious organizations. I assume the MBC, churches and institutions will be paying higher insurance premiums for many years to come. This is another example of taking money from ministry resources to pay for legal costs.
The Home remains a conservative, ‘family valued’ organization. Trustees are legal residents of Missouri and are members of Baptist churches in Missouri. Worship services and Bible studies are conducted by Baptist-trained pastors. The Home complies with the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message which was the official statement of Southern Baptists for over 36 years and continues to be the case in many Southern Baptist churches. Trustees are honorable and trustworthy, Christian and Baptist, laypersons and clergy, men and women dedicated to demonstrate God’s love for the aged. Trustees give sacrificially and do not receive pay for their services or personally profit from their decisions. They are representative of Baptists throughout Missouri. In spite of the chorus of false accusations and name-calling in print, video and audio; trustees of the Home have not wavered in their resolve to protect its governing rights against litigious action filed by the Convention’s leadership. The Baptist Home does not agree that the litigation will end soon or that the outcome will be influenced by decisions related to other institutions. The Baptist Home is secure in its defenses and believes it will ultimately prevail and be supported by the courts. The Baptist Home continues to have unanimous consent from its trustees to vigorously defend its legal rights to protect and preserve this ministry and its autonomy. The wasteful legal costs will continue for many years into the future, unless the Convention’s leadership decides to dismiss the litigation.
The Baptist Home has decided to ‘plow around the stump’ and continue to do ministry in spite of the conflicts with the ARG and a few leaders in the Convention. It continues to spend on average two million dollars annually to provide care for needy Baptists without government support. The Home is developing a fourth campus located near Ashland, Missouri and will continue to grow and upgrade the existing campuses. The Home enjoys overwhelming support from residents, their families and churches that receive its services. It provides adult aging consultation and education services in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, and Iowa. The Home is working to relieve pain and suffering on a global scale. It is ministering in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, China, Guatemala and El Salvador. It has supported disaster relief with churches and associations (e.g., the Joplin tornado victims and those affected by floods along Missouri borders). The Home gives money, food, heating assistance, medicines, builds facilities, and shares the good news of salvation and the love of Jesus to the world’s lost aging persons. I have had the privilege of witnessing professions of faith and lives changed as a result of God working through this ministry.
The Baptist Home is grateful for the work of the Missouri Baptist Convention when it is focused on evangelism, discipleship, missions and ministry. The Convention’s leadership should be grateful for the Home’s effort to minister to the needy and to evangelize the world for Jesus Christ through its ministries to the aging. The Home is attempting to fulfill King David’s prayer, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.” (Psalm 71:9 NKJV) The Convention’s leadership has yet to articulate and develop a comprehensive ministry for older adults in Missouri, or express any interest in regards to how it will meet the needs of the frail elderly in the last 12 years of litigation. Some (including those who have been chosen to serve on the Convention-elected board desiring control of the Home) have said that the Home should be sold and the money used for other purposes of the Convention’s leadership. Really! I believe the Convention leadership’s true aim is for the assets of the Home. As long as the Convention’s leadership continues down the path of litigation, it will keep declining and losing effectiveness in Kingdom work. Although many churches continue to affiliate with the Convention, attendance at annual meetings and events has weakened and declined considerably since 2002. It has been observed that there is much less lay involvement in recent years. Some radical elements continue to purge the MBC of those who disagree with them. Many of the ‘Save Our Convention’ group have abandoned participation; this includes some immediate past presidents of the Convention.
Many Southern and Missouri Baptist leaders that were supportive of the ‘conservative resurgence’ movement now believe it has gone too far and the destructive influences have become unmanageable. Dr. Paige Patterson, considered a chief architect of the SBC ‘conservative resurgence’ movement, purported in his book, Anatomy of a Reformation: The Southern Baptist Convention 1978-2004 that the movement accomplished its purpose of returning the SBC from an alleged ‘leftward drift’ to a more conservative position. He also shared these regrets, “Friendships and sometimes family relationships have been marred. Churches have sometimes been damaged even though local church life has proceeded for the most part above the fray and often remain largely oblivious to it. No one seriously confessing the name of Jesus can rejoice in these sorrows,” Patterson writes. “I confess that I often second guess my own actions and agonize over those who have suffered on both sides, including my own family.” Dr. Patterson admitted the ‘conservative resurgence’ movement went too far in causing unnecessary damage to people’s personal lives. Although some were genuine in their desire to see a return to a more conservative stance, others saw it as a pathway to speechmaking, profiteering and celebrity. This has become an obstacle to any meaningful solution to the controversy in Missouri Baptist life. If the conflict were peacefully settled outside the courtroom, some will feel the loss of their celebrity status, while a few will see a profitable income source shrink.
The lawsuits against Windermere and the Word and Way have failed. The Convention is facing a counterclaim by Windermere. The Convention’s insurance provider has settled out of court with the Bill Jester estate on a related counterclaim. The ARG continues to imply that there is legally protected information that prevents them from sharing the full story with Missouri Baptists. It’s amazing to me that in 13 years of litigation and six legal petitions (five amended by the ARG) that information is withheld from Baptists that would horrify them. In my opinion, these are tactics to string along Baptists to support the cause. In addition, it is difficult to ‘save face’ in light of the fact that millions of dollars have been wasted on legal proceedings. And moreover, 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 prohibited 1st century Christians from taking fellow believers to a secular court of law to settle disputes. Is this scripture not also germane to 21st century Christians?
Opening up Pandora’s Box: Secular Courts and Religious Organizations
A recent lawsuit involving Lifeway Christian Resources’ (SBC) sale of the Glorieta Conference Center in 2013 had a ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Hayes Scott that has implications for religious organizations. According to the Word and Way dated January 15, 2015, a couple who built a vacation home on leased property at the retreat center claimed that Lifeway did not have authority to sell property without Southern Baptist Convention approval. Judge Scott found the couple lacked legal standing to bring a claim for this reason alone and that “secular courts do not have jurisdiction to involve themselves in a dispute involving the interpretation of ecclesiastical rules within a religious body.” Therefore a U.S. Magistrate Judge has determined that ‘secular courts’ have no jurisdiction into ecclesiastical matters. According to attorney L. Martin Nussbaum, Missouri state courts have ruled over nine times and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over 11 times, that secular courts have no jurisdiction in the governance of religious organizations. “Nussbaum concluded that Missouri corporation law repeatedly states that corporations have substantial discretion in how they organize themselves; and that the First Amendment doctrine of church autonomy guarantees that religious institutions shall control their own governance — especially when such governance relates to religious principle (http://blogs.lcms.org/2004/outside-attorneys-letter-responds-to-opposing-lawyers).” The Home’s trustees assert that its rights of governance are based on a long-standing scriptural and spiritual conviction of deeply held Baptist beliefs in the doctrines that support congregational polity and autonomy of religious organizations.
What jurisdiction do courts have in religious organizations? I am sure the courts get involved when criminal actions have occurred such as the embezzlement of funds. I am just as sure, the courts find jurisdiction when an individual was harmed in some way. Courts have also gotten involved in property disputes between religious organizations. A St. Louis Post Dispatch article, “Historic St. Louis Church Fighting for its Property and Future,” by Lilly Fowler appeared in the Daily Journal on Monday, February 9, 2015. Apparently, the Bonhomme Presbyterian Church in St. Louis wants to separate from its national denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), over concerns about the national organization’s stance on certain social issues. The denomination is claiming ownership of the property where the congregation meets. The article mentions a similar case with the St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Catholic Parish which the Archdiocese of St. Louis tried to claim ownership of its property and foundation when the congregation wanted to be independent of the diocese. In 2012, a St. Louis circuit court ruled in favor of the local parish. The article concludes that courts tend to favor local congregations in property disputes since the 1979 US Supreme Court ruling in the case of Jones v. Wolf. The article further states, “A 1985 Missouri Supreme Court case, known as Presbytery of Elijah Parish Lovejoy v. Jaeggi, noted that in keeping with the First Amendment and the separation of church and state, courts refrain from resolving church property disputes “on the basis of ‘religious doctrine and practice’ and must rely ‘exclusively on objective, well-established concepts of trust and property law familiar to lawyers and judges.’” The judge ruled, “The courts must not ‘rely on religious precepts in determining whether the document indicates that the parties have intended to create a trust’ in favor of the national church. If the deed, local church charter, or national church constitution ‘incorporates religious concepts in the provisions relating to the ownership of property’ and if the interpretation of those instruments would require the resolution of a religious controversy, then this court ‘must defer to the resolution of the doctrinal issues by the authoritative ecclesiastical body.’” Senior pastor of Bonhomme Presbyterian Church, Rev. Tom Pfizenmaier told the interviewer, “Why would any governing body want to attempt to coercively hold a group of people in a denomination against its will?” He admits the church has lots of assets, but “you draw your own conclusions as to what was motivating them.” For the Missouri Baptist Convention to succeed in its claim of ownership of The Baptist Home, the Convention needs to show proof of payment for the Home’s properties and clear title to its properties. This it cannot do!
By inviting courts to settle religious disputes, are we opening up ‘Pandora’s box?’ A working example can be found in the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. President Obama’s administration determined that religious organizations; such as, schools, colleges, benevolent institutions, and hospitals; do not enjoy the same religious freedoms and protections of the 1st Amendment as local church congregations. Therefore, religious organizations must conform to certain provisions in the new healthcare law even if they disagree on religious and moral grounds. For example, one of the provisions required religious organizations to provide coverage for abortifacients to its employees; that is, to provide its employees access to medicines that caused a woman to abort an unborn child. The administration refused to label the medications ‘abortifacients,’ preferring to lump them in with ‘contraceptives.’ In another ‘sleight of hand trick,’ the administration made some tweaks to the mandate by excusing religious organizations from paying directly for abortifacient coverage and placed the burden of payment directly on the insurance company. Religious organizations were not so fooled and protested because ultimately, if this had succeeded, they would have paid for the medication through premiums to the insurance company anyway. The administration was obviously imposing its social agenda on religious organizations. And, so goes politics!
Fortunately, the effort failed because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a for-profit business whose owners opposed offering abortifacients to their employees on religious and moral grounds. It would be inconsistent for the court not to extend the same rights to religious organizations. It is nevertheless, disconcerting knowing that influential government leaders are looking for a handle to impose their political wills on religious organizations. I am most thankful for the 1st Amendment that provides a level of protection between church and state. Otherwise, this is a slippery slope leading to governmental intrusion into the religious community. By taking religious disputes too frequently to government for rulings, are we opening a door that we may eventually regret in terms of separation of church and state? Perhaps this is the larger motivation behind Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 6 giving warning about involving secular judgments into matters of faith.
Suggestions for Change
Some would have Missouri Baptists believe the losses have been caused by procedural errors. It is true that there are procedural errors on all sides; however, nothing has been left unheard in the case. The petitions are public records and are available to any Missouri Baptist. The Missouri Southern Appellate court in its favorable judgment for Windermere found the Convention leadership’s arguments were “convoluted” and “fastidious.” As far as The Baptist Home is concerned, we are transparent in all matters related to the litigation and operation of this ministry. The required IRS 990 form and independent audits are available to the general public. Unless the trustees are discussing a personnel matter, certain land purchases, or legal strategy, the meetings are open to the public. The key leadership is willing to meet with any individual and organization as it can be arranged on the calendar to discuss any matter related to the Home. The Home’s practice is to make its leadership accessible and accountable. This is not to say mistakes are not made; however, the Home is transparent about them and it tries to address them in meaningful ways to prevent them from reoccurring.
Most Baptist leaders, churches and laypeople would like to see an end to litigation and the fellowship restored. Many people believe there are no winners in this battle and the Kingdom is being seriously harmed by ongoing controversy by the current Convention’s leadership. When facing Baptist disputes in North Carolina, the president of its Baptist Homes spoke of how difficult it was to operate an effective and stable ministry in a climate of adverse politics within the Convention’s leadership. Even if the Convention’s leadership should succeed, the hurt and broken relationships will harm all parties for decades to come. Gratefully, God’s Kingdom will prevail and succeed despite the petty differences of men, with or without us (Revelation 2:2-5). Many of the new and bright young leaders being called of God to serve His Kingdom are not following the instructions of authoritarian men, but listening to the will of God. I am optimistic about the future because I’ve heard these young people preach and watched them lead.
I offer here a few suggestions to restore fellowship and direction for the Convention and the institutions:
- End the lawsuits immediately.
- End plan ‘A’ of the Cooperative Program. Return the Cooperative Program to its original purpose to support missions. This will restore the integrity of the Cooperative Program with Missouri Baptists.
- Understand and embrace strategies to secure ministries from ascending and descending liability by following the advice of highly competent attorneys familiar with litigious risk. In today’s litigious world, do not tie the strings of risk and seek to turn the Convention into a Corporation with subsidiary relationships. If the Convention’s leadership succeeds in its efforts to centralize authority and control, by developing paternal-subsidiary relationships, then every trial attorney will seek opportunities wherever they may. It will drive up insurance and litigation costs for all churches and institutions.
- Embrace long-held Baptist beliefs in autonomy, voluntary cooperation and collaboration in Kingdom work. We should focus on “Bold Mission Thrust” and embrace teachings in scripture to work together for the common cause of Christ.
- The Missouri Baptist Convention was never meant to be a business corporation involved in parenting subsidiaries. Return to an adult-to-adult relationship with churches and institutions as ambassadors of Christ to a lost world. Otherwise, authoritarian approaches will continue to fractionalize and diminish the fellowship. Young leaders are not following authoritarian Pied Pipers.
- Remove and minimize the setting by which those seeking a path to speechmaking, celebrity, and wealth are prevented from keeping principled persons from leading the MBC into a more productive future.
- Stop the hurtful rhetoric, name-calling, demonizing, blacklisting, turn speaking, and purging that are worldly political tactics. Do not sue brothers or sisters in ‘secular courts’ and do not disparage, demonize, and bring false accusations or threaten the livelihood of brothers and sisters with whom there is disagreement. If an organization has brought some great offense or a significant difference in conviction to the MBC, then turn the other cheek and stop supporting the mission. However, don’t attempt to destroy it by worldly methods (Luke 9:50).
- Seek mediation without any predetermined conditions that focuses on how best to accomplish the Great Commission.
Again, I don’t expect for this to end soon unless Baptists bring leadership to a distracted Missouri Baptist Convention. I strongly believe the Home’s trustees will prevail in their goal to retain governing authority as it has since 1913. This is the best course for the Home and for all Baptists. More to the point, I believe the Convention’s leadership is at a crossroads. There is nothing to be gained by winning any battles in these matters. If it continues, then it will only cause more harm and divisiveness. This is a shame because God can use a Convention of cooperating Baptists to do His work in Missouri and around the world. The Home wants to spend its time working together with Baptists to serve His Kingdom instead of fighting with brothers and sisters in the faith. The Home continues to feed, clothe, shelter and provide care for aging adults as a witness for Christ. This ministry’s aim has not changed and will continue until Jesus comes. In fact, if anything good has come of recent years, it is that the Home has expanded its scope of ministry to the far reaches of the world. We invite you to join us in this Holy effort, in a mutually submissive way, and according to Ephesians 5:21 and I Peter 5:1-4. “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” (Ephesians 6:24)
Note A: For purposes of this paper, The Baptist Home was also known as the Missouri Baptist Home for Aged Baptists. The title of the person responsible for directing the Home has changed throughout its history (e.g., founder, superintendent, executive director and president). These leaders acknowledge the important contributions of their wives to the success of the Home’s ministry. Credit also belongs to the many faithful and dedicated, employees and trustees who serve the aged entrusted with its care. And, to God be the glory above all.
Note B: The Baptist Home’s history is a matter of public record and can be found in these books: House of Many Mansions by William Hopkins, 1975; The Story of The Baptist Home by Ira Ann Hawkins, 1989; The Common Thread: A Tribute by Joy Goodwin 1988; The Story of The Baptist Home Special 90th Anniversary Edition by Ira Ann Hawkins with new chapters by James W. Nelson 2003.
Note C: As of 2015, three of the former directors (Burney, Goodwin and Johnson) are still living. The quotations in this paper were from conversations and letters beginning in 2000 to the present. The author cannot speak enough of his appreciation for the support and contributions these leaders have made to this ministry.
Note D: The predecessor for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) was the Missouri Baptist General Association (Association).
Note E: The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the national organization in which the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) is affiliated (although there is no legal tie between entities, the Conventions are unincorporated, congregational and voluntary). The Baptist Home received no support from the Southern Baptist Convention, but received limited financial support from the Missouri Baptist Convention until 2002.
Note G: The Missouri Baptist Convention appointed a Legal Opinion Task Force in 2001 that later changed its name to the Agency Restoration Group (ARG).
Note H: The author greatly acknowledges the editing and assistance of Becky Barton, Ken Chatlos, Kathie Jones, Ron Mackey, Steven Moseley, Jim Nelson, Jim Shoemake, and Bart Tichenor.
This document is the opinion of the author and the author takes sole responsibility for its content. Any information shared within this document should not be construed as a substitute for professional legal advice. The author does not portend to be an expert at law and recommends consultation with a licensed and professional attorney in all legal matters.