Members accuse church leaders of misusing money - WNEM TV 5

Members accuse church leaders of misusing money

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Controversy in one local church played out in court on Tuesday.

The issue was whether or not large amounts of money were improperly used.

"There is a structure and we want to get back to our baptist roots," said Herman Miller, former chairman of the deacon board at Flint's historic Antioch Baptist Church.

The church dates back to the post World War II era.

Miller is now a plaintiff in a case against his congregation's leader.

"The failure to adhere to the bylaws and to be forthcoming with the congregation as it relates to financial transactions," said Herbert Sanders, Miller's attorney.

Sanders made his case on Tuesday in Genesee County Circuit Court, accusing church leaders of misusing church money from an insurance settlement and then attempting to sell the church building underneath them.

Judge Joseph Farah disagreed. He said the church provided evidence it did nothing wrong with the settlement money. The judge chose to tread lightly in terms of church matters.

"Is the better course of action to acquire action from someone else like a bishop," Farah said. "If this problem is allowed to come into court in its current form, what problem in the church isn't going to be able to?"

The lawyer representing the church and its pastors told Farah the church has no intentions to sell the building where the church currently meets.

Farah ultimately exercised limited jurisdiction over the matter, ruling the church could only be sold in accordance with the church's own constitution.

Both sides said they will still be working with a mediator to resolve their disputes.

"You know, people don't like the inner workings of the church and that happens in any religious institution and they'll figure that out on their own I think," Attorney Satyam Talati said.

Back in April Michigan State Police said they were investigating a complaint at the church, but they have not said whether there was any merit to those allegations.

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