Members of a Birmingham congregation claims their pastor locked them out of their church Sunday morning. It happened at Friendly Missionary Baptist Church on 6th Street North in the Smithfield neighborhood.
Church members said for several months there have been issues between the pastor and some members of the congregation about who is in charge. In a civil lawsuit filed last year, there are allegations that the pastor told the congregation the church is "His Kingdom" and "He has the only key to the church."
On Sunday morning members of church arrived for service only to be greeted by a locked door.
"He locks the door. He comes over to this parking lot right here, parked and waits until five minutes after 11am and he pulls off," said church member Michael Alexander.
Church members opted to have Sunday service on the front steps.
"God is not pleased with this," said Florence Dandridde, who is also a church member.
Alexander has attended the church 58 years and was a deacon. He said, along with several other plaintiffs who filed the civil lawsuit, that in 2013 the pastor refused to leave after he was fired by the deacons and trustees.
"He told us we couldn't fire him, nobody could fire him but God," said Alexander.
The court document states that the pastor announced to the church, "he was the CEO, the boss, and the president of all auxiliaries and that he could not be fired at anytime."
Alexander said once the firing was announced the pastor then turned around and fired the deacons and trustees and appointed new church members to the positions. The civil lawsuit is asking a judge to restore power to the original deacons and trustees.
"It's a shame the way it keeps going. When you're fired, you're fired," said Alexander.
Dandridde said she just wants her church back.
"We have members that have been here for years that aren't even coming because of him and that not right," said Dandridde.
FOX6 News has tried to reach the pastor since Sunday. We've left messages at the church and stopped by the church. We also found an address for the pastor listed on a lawsuit, but could not find his home. We have also reached out to two of his attorneys and called some of the defendants listed in the civil lawsuit with the pastor. None of our calls have been returned.
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