LifeWay halts legal action against former president Thom Rainer

Former LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer(Twitter/Thom Rainer)

LifeWay Christian Resources has suspended its lawsuit against former president Thom Rainer over an alleged breach of contract. 

The publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention is now seeking a resolution with Rainer instead of legal action. 

Trustee chairman Todd Fannin confirmed the change of tack in an email to the board, US magazine Christianity Today reports.

"In lieu of moving forward with litigation, both parties are currently exploring the possibility of an agreed upon resolution of the differences," Fannin wrote.

"Our continued prayer is that this will be resolved quickly and amicably."

It follows an email from former chairman Jimmy Scroggins, who still sits on the board, "formally requesting for Todd to please withdraw our legal action."

LifeWay claims that Rainer breached his severance agreement by signing a multibook deal with rival publishers Tyndale House. 

Rainer announced the deal with Tyndale last month. 

In the lawsuit filed Monday at the Williamson County chancery court in Tennessee, Lifeway said Rainer's severance agreement included a clause that prevents him from having any business association with its competitors from the time of his retirement in 2019 until 31 October 2021. 

Rainer's transition out of Lifeway had included keeping him on as a salaried chief advisory officer until 31 October 2020, at which time a 12-month non-compete clause was to kick in.

Rainer told the Baptist Press he had received "a written and amicable release from publishing" with LifeWay in October 2019 and had "assumed all was well" until receiving notice of the lawsuit on Monday. 

In his update to the board on Wednesday, Fannin asked "all Southern Baptists to join us in a season of prayer".