Bossier District Court has ruled in favor of the First Baptist Church of Bossier, Louisiana, which is being sued by former members over issues with the church’s decision making and financial transparency.
Though one of the lawsuits has now been dropped, the legal dispute is ongoing.
In one lawsuit, former church members claimed that Brad Jurkovich, the lead pastor of the church, had improperly diverted church funds meant for supporting missionaries to the Conservative Baptist Network (CBN), a group of Southern Baptists whose mission is to combat the “liberal drift” in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Jurkovich is a member of the group’s steering council and serves as their spokesperson. The CBN was formed in 2020 and has been vocal about issues such as Critical Race Theory and the role of women in church leadership, advocating for a course-correcting plan of action and backing candidates for denominational offices who share their convictions.
In May, Judge Charles Smith ruled that First Bossier would be required to turn over financial records dating back to 2013 to the former church members. This included bank statements, W-2 statements, paid invoices, purchase orders, bank deposits and transfers, staff housing allowances, and loan documents.
The former church members further claimed in another suit that in 2014, Jurkovich had illegally changed the church’s bylaws to grant himself unilateral authority to revoke the membership status (and thus voting privileges) of any church member on the roster.
Smith has now ruled to dismiss this lawsuit on the grounds that the claim was not filed in a timely manner in accordance with state law.
Further, First Bossier said that the changes to the church’s bylaws were adopted at a church member meeting, which was attended by about 1,600 members who were previously informed regarding the meeting.
“It is First Baptist Bossier’s position that all of the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit and represent an improper attempt by former members to litigate an internal church dispute,” the church said in a statement. “We intend to continue our vigorous defense against all remaining claims with the ultimate goal of moving past any efforts to damage and divide our ministry.”