Alexander City Police Department officers were called to Great Bethel Baptist Church Sunday after a call reported that a former deacon was disrupting the service.
The initial call came in at about 11:15 Sunday morning and two units responded, with a third unit and a total of four officers eventually responding to the incident.
“The complainant said that a former deacon at the church was being disruptive during the service,” Alexander City Police Department Deputy Chief James Easterwood said. “Our officers arrived and asked the gentleman to leave and he did so. The information that I have says it happened near the end of the service and officers stayed on site until the property was cleared.”
Sunday’s incident was the latest in a long line of issues involving the church that have involved the police and the judicial system, including a lawsuit filed by a group of men who were deacons of the church against the church’s longtime minister Rev. Dr. Emerson Ware Jr.
The suit, which was filed on behalf of a group of the church’s board of directors on Oct. 12, 2017, seeks to recover nearly $100,000 as well as complete records and accounting of charges dating back to 2001 made using a business credit card issued in the church’s name.
The suit also asks the court to determine which set of bylaws are legally the ones by which the church is governed, citing changes made this summer by Ware to bylaws that have been in place since 1980.
Court documents show the suit was filed by Alexander City Attorney Mitch Gavin on behalf of the group on Oct. 12. Named as plaintiffs in the suit are Calvin Broughton, Jimmy Brock, David Dexter, Willie George Robinson, Jimmy Boleware, Robert Boleware Jr., Raymond Caffey and Richard Burton.
The suit alleges that the church is owed $32,400 by Ware for money the church received from the Alexander City Housing Authority for housing assistance payments for the years 2006 through 2016 the suit claims was transferred improperly to Ware.
On Feb. 14, Judge Ray Martin had asked attorneys from opposing sides in the suit to take 60 days to try to come to an agreement or be ready to take the suit to trial on April 28.
One person, who declined to give her name, said in Sunday’s incident the former deacon was trying to explain why a group of former church leaders had filed suit against Ware and tried to tell the congregation that they were working on behalf of the church, not against it. The name of former deacon who was asked to leave was not released by Easterwood because no charges were filed.
Both attorneys in the suit were contacted by the Outlook Monday and neither responded for comment at press time.
Sunday’s incident was one of several incidents involving the church. Others include:
• A church burglary and a van theft have been investigated by police at Great Bethel.
• Officers were called to the church over a disturbance between opposing factions at a meeting. Following that incident, the locks were changed at the church.
• Men who were leaders at the church for decades have been “terminated as members” and their names have been taken off the church roll.
• In January, Ware was found not guilty of making harassing communications in city court, despite admitting that shortly after the suit was served on his wife that he called one of the suit’s plaintiffs Robert Boleware and told him “the next time I see you I’m going to whip your ass.”
Source: The Outlook
Featured Image: Patch
Inset Image: Mitch Sneed / The Outlook