On June 27, 2016, the Court of Appeal of the State of California (4th Appellate District Division 3) ruled against Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (CCCM), Brian Brodersen, Roger Wing, Phil Twente, John Jackson, and other CCCM board members in favor of Word for Today and Janette Manderson (Chuck Smith’s daughter) regarding a counter-suit that CCCM had filed against Word for Today.
According to one court document, Word for Today has been involved in a lawsuit against CCCM since 2014 in an effort to reclaim access to Chuck Smith’s “recorded sermons, writings, and other religious materials” that allegedly have been in CCCM’s possession since Chuck Smith’s death in 2013. The June 27th ruling rejected CCCM’s counter-suit which had called Word for Today’s suit a frivolous lawsuit (under the anti-SLAPP statute). The court document states that Word for Today seeks “an injunction enjoining Calvary Chapel from engaging in the unfair and fraudulent business practices.”
In providing an historical background, the court document states that Calvary Chapel hired Chuck Smith as its senior pastor in 1965, upon which he served for 48 years until his death. In approximately 1978, Chuck Smith and his brother, Paul Smith, founded Word for Today, which allowed for the dissemination of Chuck Smith’s sermons, broadcasts, and materials. The June 27th California court document also states:
As part of this cooperative working relationship, Pastor Chuck and Word for Today agreed to allow Calvary Chapel to have access to and use his religious materials during his lifetime. In exchange, Calvary Chapel agreed that Word for Today beneficially owned all rights and interests in Pastor Chuck’s religious materials, Word for Today would have the exclusive right to control and disseminate the materials upon Pastor Chuck’s death, and Calvary Chapel would pay Word for Today for using Pastor Chuck’s religious materials. Calvary Chapel, Word for Today, and Pastor Chuck confirmed his agreement in a signed resolution Calvary Chapel’s board of directors passed and ratified in 1998.
However, according to this same document, CCCM allegedly refused Word for today access to Pastor Smith’s materials immediately following Chuck Smith’s death. For endnotes and to read this entire press release, click here.