Frank C. Mann’s lawsuit naming the Alabama Baptist State Convention and the State Board of Missions as defendants (read article here) will not harm Alabama Baptist ministry efforts, SBOM executive director says, Rick Lance, who is also named in the lawsuit.
No current or future funds from the cooperative program will be used to defend the lawsuit, he said, noting that the administrators of the Council of State confirmed this fact in August by a formal motion in the form of a resolution. Any legal fees not covered by insurance will be paid from a contingency fund built up over the years for unforeseen circumstances, he explained.
Regarding the defendants’ request for dismissal, Lance is optimistic.
Opposing “false claims”
“The simple truth is that neither the state Baptist convention nor any of its officers had any role in the decision to issue bonds for Judson College and are in no way responsible for the repayment of those bonds” , he said in a prepared statement. “The Convention and its leaders will vigorously oppose the false allegations contained in the lawsuit.
“Since 1838, Baptist churches and individuals in Alabama have contributed millions to Judson College to support its mission to provide a higher Christian education for women, including countless graduates and other alumni. Judson’s financial failure is a tragedy for Christian higher education, but it’s not the fault of the Alabama Baptist State Convention or ABSC leaders, past or present.
Structure of the congress
The state convention is a 501(c)(3) church association. It operates two days a year when its members, called messengers, meet for their annual congress.
The convention has no employees and no board of directors. Baptist churches cooperating with the convention send their selected messengers to the annual meeting to vote on various items, including how to distribute voluntary funds from these cooperating churches and approving the board members of the various favored entities. .
Sponsored entities are nonprofit institutions “whose work is financially supported by the convention and whose departments receive the encouragement and accompaniment of the convention,” according to the convention’s bylaws, which were last revised. times in 1998. Details of the legal relationship with sponsored entities are in Regulation 3C.
In particular, it states: “The Convention will scrupulously respect the individual integrity of other entities which enjoy corporate status under the laws of this State or any other State. Although the entities encouraged by this Agreement may be characterized as agencies, they are in no way legal agents of this Agreement. … Each body corporate encouraged by the Convention shall trade, contract, incur debt, employ, execute notes, buy, sell and do all other business in its own name and never as an agent of the Convention.
It further states that “the Convention expects that entities encouraged by the Convention…operate under the legal control of a governing body composed of persons who are members of churches cooperating with this Convention.”
Seven sponsored entities are currently supported by churches in giving through the cooperative program, but each entity has its own board or board of trustees. Judson was supported in this way before closing the school on July 31, 2021. The incorporated business side of Judson continues to exist as a stand-alone unit, a decision made by board members to have more time to finalize trade matters before disbanding completely.
Judson Board of Directors
Judson’s board of directors is made up of a maximum of 32 rotating members plus some honorary life members, who hold “all the rights, powers and privileges of active members,” according to Judson’s bylaws. In addition to allowing the convention’s messengers to approve its board members, Judson also allowed the convention to approve any proposed charter changes that may have occurred over the years.
The only other legal connection between Judson and the convention is that the convention is to receive the college’s remaining assets upon its dissolution.
Lance, who, by the nature of his role as executive director of the State Council, is also treasurer of the state convention and an ex officio (non-voting) member of the boards of directors of each of the favored entities .
As an ex-officio member of the Judson Board of Trustees until the school closes in 2021, Lance has occasionally attended board meetings. However, he was not present at the board meeting related to the bond decision approved by the directors in 2010, at the center of Mann’s lawsuit, and would not have been able to vote if he had been. here.
All decisions related to Judson were made by its board of directors and neither Lance, the state convention, nor SBOM had anything to do with those decisions, according to legal representatives for Lance, the convention, and SBOM.
Act on behalf of the convention
During its recent August meeting, the State Council authorized Lance to oversee the state convention’s response to the lawsuit “with guidance and counsel” from the Executive Committee of State Council Trustees.
In addition, the convention’s statutes authorize the administrators of the Council of State to act on behalf of the convention on an interim basis (between annual meetings), so the members of the Council of State have also empowered their executive committee to act on behalf of the convention on “any matter relating to the Mann trial”. .”