Windermere Responds

November 17, 2007

Windermere Baptist Conference Center issued a press release on Thursday responding to recent comments about Windermere by Missouri Baptist Convention's attorney Michael Whitehead. The inaccurate comments by Whitehead (which I critiqued in an earlier post) were in response to a previous Windermere press release that dealt with an inaccurate story in The Pathway (see previous posts here and here). Here are a few highlights from this newest press release:

He first responded to a quotation from Dan Bench, Windermere Baptist Conference Center President/CEO. Bench had stated that The Pathway should have contacted him to avoid printing an inaccurate story and that he would be "happy to answer any questions from anyone at any time."

In response, Whitehead claimed that The Pathway could not contact Bench without lawyer approval since they were litigants in a case. What Whitehead's admission reveals is that The Pathway's stories on Windermere Baptist Conference Center or the litigation are deliberately and intentionally one-sided. By hiding behind the lawsuit, he admits that The Pathway makes no attempt to talk with both sides in order to verify the facts. As a result, Missouri Baptists should not trust The Pathway's stories--past, present, or future--about Windermere Baptist Conference Center or the litigation. Since they make no attempt to get both sides of the story correct as responsible journalists would, their accounts should be dismissed as one-sided and biased.

Whitehead's second claim in The Pathway's one-sided story is that the original story by The Pathway about land owned by Windermere Development Company, LCC being foreclosed (which did not occur), was not confusing.

... However, despite Whitehead's assertion, many people were confused by the original headline and thus spread false rumors about Windermere Baptist Conference Center. Multiple church groups with reservations next year at Windermere called to determine if they needed to cancel their camp since the Windermere Baptist Conference Center was being foreclosed. ... KY3 news in Springfield filed a correction on November 9, in which they acknowledged the mistake occurred because of "confusing" similar names. Finally, pastors on the MoBaptistListServe, an online chat group which Whitehead is a member of and writes on, were confused by The Pathway story as they talked about Windermere Baptist Conference Center being foreclosed. Whitehead did not write the group to correct this confusion. As a result of these incidents, it is obvious that Whitehead's assertion is inaccurate. The Pathway's original headline was confusing.

Whitehead's final response to Windermere Baptist Conference Center's October 26 press release was to challenge the claim that 2007 was Windermere's "best year ever."

... Whitehead completely ignored the explanation in the press release about why problems in the past occurred. The Missouri Baptist Convention has repeatedly interfered with the work of Windermere Baptist Conference Center. They have worked to dissuade speakers and groups from attending, interfered with banking and construction work, and spread false rumors about the life-changing ministry of Windermere (for more information, read Windermere Baptist Conference Center's January 5, 2006 press release). Fortunately, the life-changing ministry of Windermere Baptist Conference Center has continued due to the prayers and support of the great Missouri Baptist family.

Finally, Whitehead's comments suggest that he measures what is the best year merely in terms of mammon. However, what really makes 2007 the best year ever is that more people have been served in the name of the Lord than ever before. About 18,000 guests were served this summer and more than 1,500 life-changing decisions were made. That should give everyone cause to celebrate as God is doing great things through the life-changing ministry of Windermere Baptist Conference Center.
It is good that Windermere is standing up to proclaim the truth, but it is extremely unfortunate that this was needed. It is sad that Christians would deliberately attempt to harm ministry efforts with false rumors and attack pieces. To their credit, KY3 in Springfield, Missouri issued a correction last week for the earlier inaccurate story that was based on the claims of The Pathway and the Baptist Press. It is good to see someone willing to take their journalistic responsibilities seriously. What is sad, though, is that Christians should be following a higher standard--not a lesser one--than mainstream media.

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