The Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the renowned seminaries here, has been shut down by Labor Court Judge Comfort Natt for debt.
About 70 per cent of Liberian pastors attended and completed studies in Theological Education and Pastoral Care at the seminary. The closure follows a court ruling in favor of Rev. Dr. Lincoln Brownell, former President of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary, who was un-ceremonially removed from office.
Dr. Brownell has been fighting back through an injunction filed to the Labor Court, seeking full payment for services rendered the institution during his tenure as President.
He also claimed damages in the tone of more than $200,000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand United States Dollars). The court ruled that the Management of the Baptist Seminary pays Rev. Dr. Brownell the said amount or risks permanent closure.
The Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary, an auxiliary of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention has been engulfed with series of leadership crises since the forceful removal of Dr. Lincoln Brownell in 2007.
Our reporter, who was part of a team of Journalists that visited the compound of the seminary over the weekend said, a stay order from the court was posted around the vicinities, instructing the management of the theological school to keep away.
Dr. Brownell's predecessor, Rev. Dr. Arnold Hill, resigned his post due to the unconstitutional manner in which the Convention is being run. Since the injunction was filed, there has been no official response from the Management of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary. When our reporter sought the whereabouts of its Acting President, this paper was told that he is in the United States on vacation.
Also, when contacted, the President of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Rev. Dr. Olu Menjay said, he does not run the Convention in the media. Dr. Brownell himself has not commented since the court's ruling.
Meanwhile, a deep-seated leadership struggle continues at the Baptist Youth Camp involving the Women's Missionary Union. Two leaderships of the union are battling for control of the youth camp with two separate privately-owned security agencies deployed currently at the premises along the Robertsfield Highway.
One of the security agencies deployed has been identified as the Savana Security Agency, which is directly under the supervision of the Gwendolyn Cooke leadership, while the other is deployed by the interim leadership of Madam Esther Richards-Freeman.
The Baptist Youth Camp is the national headquarters of the Women's Missionary Union of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention. The camp trains girls and boys in biblical education under the supervision of the Women's Missionary Union.
As a result of the scuffle, the judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit court of Montserrado County, Cllr. Peter Gbenewelleh, issued an injunction, calling on the Esther Richards-Freeman's leadership to vacate the Youth Camp, pending a hearing.
The court's action followed a lawsuit filed by the outgoing leadership, headed by Deaconess Olivia B. Hill. The Olivia Hill's leadership turned over power to Madam Gwendolyn Cooke after elections held in Ganta, Nimba County.
The Esther Richards-Freeman leadership was constituted at the 60th Annual Session of the LBMEC held at Rick's Institute when an alleged resolution was adopted, dissolving the leadership of Deaconess Olivia B. Hill. Since then, there have been two groups within the Baptist Convention, claiming legitimacy of the Women's Missionary Union.
Drama unfolded Monday, 3 February when the Esther-Richards Freeman leadership, represented by Mrs Precious Andrews Greaves and Ms Mardia White, prevented a group of youths from entering the Baptist Youth Camp, on grounds that they were now in charge of the premises.