The New Dawn (Monrovia)

31 January 2014

Liberia: Baptist Church in Crisis

Photo: Liberia Government
Members of the Inter-Religious Council (file photo).

A group of Baptists under the banner, "Concerned Baptists" has accused the President of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention or LBMEC, Rev. Dr. Olu Menjay of attempting to mortgage the Church's property in Congo Town.

The group said the transfer of the Convention's Headquarters to the Baptist Seminary along the Robertsfield highway without any appraisal or design to build same, undermines the very intend for such headquarters to be constructed. It claimed that US$ 150,000 was collected within 10 years for the headquarters' construction, but nothing has been done.

The Chairman and spokesman for the Concerned Baptists, Rev. Arnold Hill and Deacon Tugbeh Doe, in a statement issued in Monrovia, described the purported plan as an ultra secret agreement between Dr. Menjay and his cohort, businessman Ezzat N. Eid.

In a 20-count analysis, the Concerned Baptists said, the Convention's Headquarters project in Congo Town is not intended for commercial purposes so attempts by Rev. Dr. Menjay to deviate from its intended purpose should be strongly resisted.

The two eminent Baptists, who once served on the Convention's Investment and Development Commission, said they were removed from the Commission by the Olu Menjay leadership, though their seven-year tenure had not expired.

They said the action was taken against them because they resisted his ill-fated idea to commercialize the church's property without any future benefits for its membership.

The group of Baptists said they recently approved the constitution of the convention, which gives the Investment Commission the authority to supervise all contracts, lease agreements and the management of the Convention's assets.

The Concerned Baptist said the Baptist House is an encumbered absolute asset of the LBMEC and as such, it must be totally and completely vetted by the Investment Commission, instead of it being single-handedly managed by the President of the Convention and his newly appointed cohorts.

The body said it would be totally irresponsible on the part of any legal practitioner to draft a 60-year contract without an advice and appropriate recommendations of both in-house and out- house lawyers.

It said the terms and conditions provided in the agreement, which cause for two optional periods to be extended for another two generation is a bad business practice, and wonder why anyone would love to give up property in two optional blocks in 20 years each.

According to the Concerned Baptists, the decision by Dr. Menjay to mortgage the Convention's National Headquarters is a bad practice and a complete violation of the rights of the Convention's future generation.

The Group of Baptists says it is of the conviction that no businessman will in 2014 lease any meaningful property, including the Baptist House, with the terms and conditions of the optional period defined and set in stone.

In a 20-count analysis of the bogus agreement, the Group of Concern Baptists said the right to pay to a third party other than LBMEC must be resisted.

The group described as stupid, attempts by Dr. Menjay and his collaborators to recommend that US$50, 000 of the 1st 10-year payment be paid on building materials, on grounds that the Lessee is an importer of building materials.

The Concerned Baptists described as unacceptable the annual payment of 15,000 to 20,000 United States Dollars for a good unfurnished apartment, without electricity, along the Tubman Boulevard at a rate of US$1250 monthly.

On the issue of insurance policy in the agreement, the Concerned Baptist warned that the policy should be placed in the name of the LBMEC or the two parties to the Convention securing the benefits of an insurance underwriter to ensure that its interest is protected.

The group is therefore encouraging all Baptists, who means well for their beloved Convention to join them to resist the attempt by the Olu Menjay leadership to mortgage the Convention's National Headquarters.

The Baptist Convention has been rocked by confusion since the 2012 Yekepa Convention, due to the alleged behavior of Dr. Olu Menjay, the President, who members say has refused to reconcile the convention, but choose to witch hunt members who voted against his ambition to become president.

It claimed that Dr. Menjay spearheaded a campaign by bringing about confusion amongst members of the Woman Missionary Union. Dr. Menjay is reported to have influenced a group of renowned Baptist Women to hold a bogus election to remove the leadership of Deaconess Olivia B. Hill.

Since his ascendency, the Baptist Convention has been faced with confusion and division.

However, sources within the Baptist Church told this paper the allegations made against Dr. Menjay are misleading and far from the truth, noting that the Baptist House has never been mortgaged as claimed by the "Concerned Baptists."

The "Concern Baptists" group is just schemers, who is seeking favor from the upcoming 100th Annual Session and should not be taken seriously.

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