The Evangelical Baptist Mission (EBM), a not-for-profit ministry that supported Baptist missionaries around the globe, announced the organization's dissolution at the end of August amid lawsuits and financial issues.
In a letter to missionaries, churches, and other EBM affiliates, Board Chair Don Whipple writes, “It is with a heavy heart and much prayerful consideration that I, on behalf of the EBM Board of Directors, write this letter. Following extensive objective assessment and the advice of legal counsel, we are beginning action to dissolve EBM.”
The organization was to be dismantled over a period of a week and a half, and the group's main office in Indiana will close on Friday, Sept. 2.
The letter includes a list of missions agencies for church affiliates and missionaries to contact to make sure that donations, which formerly went through the EBM website, will be properly diverted to the missionaries who need them.
Prior to the decision to dissolve, many questions were raised about the financially drained organization when they filed a lawsuit against another organization, The Beracha Foundation, which served as EBM's technical support for several years.
Beracha is an Ohio-based, non-profit agency that provides technical support to churches and other organizations around the globe.
The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that in January of this year, EBM filed a lawsuit against Beracha accusing the IT support group of putting its missionaries at risk by cutting off the function of a website portal that allowed EBM to communicate with its missionaries. They were also accused of shutting down the site’s donation and accounting capabilities.
Beracha later retorted in a statement, saying, “In no way have the missionaries been placed at risk, and in no way has Beracha interfered with EBM and the missionaries' ability to collect and access funds."
They also added that they were “saddened by EBM's rush to litigation with false allegations.”
Jim Burdick, special assistant to the president of The Beracha Foundation, told The Christian Post that EBM broke a number of contracts, yet his organization was “hesitant to break those services knowing the missionaries needed those services.”
He also said that although Beracha fought EBM with a counter suit, they would have rather avoided the courts altogether.
"The only reason that there was a counter suit was, legally, you can defend yourself but to clear your name you have to counter-sue,” he said.
Evangelical Baptist Missions, originally Africa Christian Missions, began in 1928 and originally sponsored just one pastor in the former French West Africa.
Nathan O. Osborne III , a former board member at EBM, wrote a letter of support to Dana Dunmyer, president of Beracha, which says that EBM was “recklessly mismanaged.” He describes their legal attacks as “wrongful,” and says that Beracha should not be blamed for the organization's dissolution.
“EBM’s failure is due to mismanagement over a long period of time. I believe that the organization could not only have been salvaged but it also could have flourished,” Osborne added.
On Aug. 30, Beracha announced that EBM leadership had dropped its suit and apologies had been made. The release said that EBM's chairman of the board regretted having purchased a large facility without the financial resources necessary to maintain both the building and the organization's future.
The release says the chairman also offered “statements of regret for not holding its president and treasurer accountable for their actions.”
EBM could not be reached for comment by press time.