Appeals Court denies MBC bid for Windermere jury trial

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Missouri Court of Appeals has denied the Missouri Baptist Convention’s bid for a jury trial to determine the legal ownership of Windermere Baptist Conference Center.

Judges for the Court’s Southern District in Springfield on March 25 upheld a 2013 decision from the Circuit Court of Camden County, preventing a planned jury trial in April of last year.

The MBC appealed the decision to the Missouri Court of Appeals, which sided with the trial judge on procedural grounds.

The MBC has 15 days to seek additional review or transfer of the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. If the convention’s executive board decides it has exhausted all legal remedies, it effectively ends the MBC’s decade-long effort to restore Windermere.

“We respect the Court’s authority but are greatly disappointed by its decision,” said John Yeats, executive director of the MBC. “The judges’ decision to dispose of the case for procedural reasons leaves unresolved the core factual issues we feel a jury is better suited to decide.”

Yeats said his greatest disappointment is that Missouri Baptists may never hear the full story. Many details of the case are sealed and could only be disclosed in a public trial. “If Missouri Baptists were to hear the full story, they would clearly understand our perseverance over the last decade,” he said.

The Court’s decision does not impact the legal action involving the Missouri Baptist Foundation. In 2010 the MBC won a judgment in Cole County Court, which ruled that the convention has the right to recover the Foundation and the funds under its management.

Both parties are awaiting the Court’s ruling on a motion for fees due to the MBC from the Foundation or its insurer.