A three-year struggle between two Plymouth Brethren organizations over a $27 million fund continues. Stewards Foundation (SF), a Barrington, Illinois-based corporation that provides loans and health care to Brethren assemblies, filed suit in 1992 (CT, Aug. 17, 1992, p. 51) over control of the fund, which has been in the hands of Stewards Ministries (SM), a Barrington, Illinois-based nonprofit that provides gifts and grants to Brethren assemblies, commended workers, and Brethren-related ministries. The funds came from the sale in 1982 of five Brethren-own hospitals.
Historically, the two groups had close ties, with the SF board serving as the corporate member of SM until 1989. But in 1989, SM amended its bylaws and severed ties with SF without notifying member churches. In 1991, a newly seated SF board contested the move and in July 1992 filed suit seeking sole control of the $27 million. On August 28, DuPage County Judge John Darrah granted a motion from SM to dismiss the SF suit.
"There has been no breach of fiduciary responsibility," asserts Jim Geoly, attorney for SM. "This whole case is a terrible tragedy. It has split the Plymouth Brethren movement. This is the third judge who ruled that nothing was improper." Last month, SF filed an appeal. "The judge's decision bypasses two major issues: breach of fiduciary trust and fairness," says Kevin Engle, SF executive director.
Engle says SF's inability to access the funds from the sale of the hospitals will have a drastic impact on the health-care package offered to Brethren workers starting next year.1
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