Clipped From The Jackson Sun

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 - Cou rt seeks to avoid chu rch case The Jackson...
Cou rt seeks to avoid chu rch case The Jackson Sun, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 1982 13A By ROGER MALONE Sun reporter General Sessions Judge Robert Holt Tuesday tried to keep Jackson's First Pentecostal Church from settling internal disputes in court by suggesting they hold a meeting open to all members, an action some church members say the Rev. L.J. Johns has refused to take. . The church board was in Holt's court Tuesday afternoon to get about two years' worth of records from former church Secretary-Treasurer Linda Johnston, who Johns said was fired after she "manipulated" his salary and tried to run the church. " - Mrs. Johnston's attorney, Jere Albright, argued that his client was trying to keep Johns from taking money from the church treasury without the congregation's approval or knowledge. He said Mrs. Johnston had kept the records because the church board isn't the official governing body of First Pentecostal Church of Jackson, Inc., a corporation that was formed in 1979 when the local church split from the national United Pentecostal Church association. Sun photo by lorry Atfwrton During a General Sessions Court recess the Rev. L.J. Johns, right, pastor of First Pentecostal Church of Jackson, talks with attorney Lloyd Utley. Albright said Johns had refused to allow the church members to meet and talk about their internal problems. Johns had changed the locks on the church and, on another occasion, preached until 2 p.m., about 2Vi hours longer than usual, to keep the members from meeting, the attorney said. He said Johns didn't want the church to meet because he was afraid the members would vote to have him dismissed as their pastor. Although Holt said he didn't have the power to order the church board to call a meeting of its divided members, he strongly suggested that such a meeting could save days of court time and be the best step toward reconciling the church members. , "I'm a firm believer that church matters should be settled by church members and not outside courts," Holt said, then recessed for 15 minutes. f When court reconvened, the church board members of which attended the hearing had agreed to hold a membership meeting Aug. 22, and Mrs. Johnston had agreed to let the board look at and photocopy the records she was keeping. She insisted, however, on retaining the originals. According to Johns' testimony Tuesday and Albright's questions, the events leading to the church split were: Johns' salary, set at the greater of $160 a week or 40 percent of the Sunday offerings, had taken a "no sedive," the pastor said. Contributions to the church had remained steady, but apparently Mrs. Johnston and her family had started putting their gifts into the building fund, from which Johns doesn't get a percentage. These "shenanigans,' which "did not follow Christian ethics," kept Johns' salary at the $160 level, Johns testified. The church board voted Johns a raise, but Mrs. Johnston had refused to sign the increased checks saying the congregation hadn't had a chance to approve the raise. - " - On June 27, Mrs. Johnston was fired and the new secretary-treasurer immediately signed two checks one for $1,000 and another for $1,200 to Johns for back pay. Johns was later given a petition signed by 18 church members calling for Johns' resignation and a meeting of the 30- to 40-member congregation to decide on the matter.:.'.; ; : Johns and other members' of the First Pentecostal Church of Jackson also received a letter from some of the men who had signed the church's incorporation papers in 1979 calling a churchwide meeting. :.: To keep from having a meeting, Johns had the locks on the church changed and preached one Sunday until 2 p.m. BUY TOT

Clipped from
  1. The Jackson Sun,
  2. 04 Aug 1982, Wed,
  3. Main Edition,
  4. Page 13

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