Eden Theological Seminary Wins Lawsuit Against City of Webster Groves
In September 2013, for one of the only times in its history, Eden Theological Seminary filed a lawsuit. It sued the City of Webster Groves after the City Council denied use of the former library building as anything other than a library. Eden and its neighboring educational partner, Webster University, had agreed that the university would use the building as administrative offices and home to its chess club. When the Webster Groves City Council denied this use of the building, they did so without giving any reasons or recourse for the seminary or the university. The City's response was that Eden had permission to use the building as a library and could continue to do so. This despite the fact that four years earlier, Eden had consolidated its library collection in the Emerson Library building on the main part of Webster University's campus. Since that time the building has been empty.
St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Seigel, who heard arguments in the lawsuit, has ruled in favor of Eden Seminary, stating: "The City Council's decision is not supported by competent and substantial evidence in the record and it is hereby reversed." The Court directed the City Council to issue the use permit as it was requested.
Eden President David Greenhaw said: "We have believed all along that the City Council overstepped its authority. We were faced with the option of preserving an empty building or fighting back. So we went to court. We are grateful that the judicial system has given us recourse - it is how the balance of powers is supposed to work in a democracy. Unfortunately, the legal costs incurred by all parties, the city, the university and the seminary, were very high. Spending money on litigation that could be used for educating men and women for ministry is hard to do. It is our hope, that the City will find ways to reasonably address community concerns without acting arbitrarily. Webster Groves has two major higher education institutions that are here to stay and will continue to share programs and facilities and to work collaboratively. Making this happen, without harming the quality of life in our community should be the goal of all and of our next steps forward."