Church conflict goes to court

Published 7:51 pm Thursday, October 22, 2009


Pending a final hearing, long time deacons of the New Mount Pleasant Baptist Church have been ordered to surrender keys and church documents and refrain from interfering with church services.

A court order signed Wednesday by Judge Thomas Head in the Circuit Court of Pike County granted the judgment in favor of the majority vote of the church’s congregation and its counsel, against deacon’s Moses and Ernest Batie.

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“The deacons had sort of strong-armed the church and took the keys and abused their authority,” said Julian McPhillips, attorney for the plaintiffs.

According to a complaint filed by McPhillips, the rules of the Order of the Missionary Baptist church state that a pastor’s authority exceeds a deacon’s authority. In issues of conflict the majority of the congregation rules.

Moses Batie, deacon of 67 years, disagreed with McPhillip’s complaint.

“Members of a church actively attend and pay their tithes,” Batie said.

“What they call the majority are members who aren’t active. We don’t really have but 15 active, paying members.”

McPhillips stated in his complaint that Moses and Ernest Batie essentially took over the church property and issued orders that would forbid the majority of the congregation and their pastor from entering the church.

“They felt the pastor shouldn’t be disclosing financial information to the church,” McPhillips said.

Batie disagreed.

“We have a business meeting once a year in November. We discuss the budget in detail and give everybody a statement,” he said.

McPhillips was pleased with the outcome of Wednesday’s hearing.

“In a Baptist church, the majority rule is the rule. It’s a significant victory for democracy and the church as well,” he said.

Batie said he would not be discouraged from future attendance at the church.

“I’ve been paying tithes for 75 years,” he said.

“I’ll always be a member. I’m going to attend the church as long as I live.”