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Macedonia Baptist Church in Dispute

By Joe Starkey



On August 12, 2010 the members of Macedonia Baptist Church met in a place where you seldom see a congregation and their pastor. They were in the county courthouse in a lawsuit to determine who and how their church would be run.The Pastor and Deacons hired assistant County District Attorney Jim Hicks apparently using church money in violation of a restraining order that prohibited them from having authority over the affairs of the church, conducting financial transactions or permitting any salary, expense payments and even from insurance coverage. Mr. Petty Hunter, Mr. Otis Dalton, and Mr. Billy McCreary were listed as representing the congregation in the suit. {{more}}Mrs. Zella Woodruff was the main witness called as she testified about how the church normally conducted business. They are not part of a larger association so these problems can be adjudicated by the court as no higher church body has the authority to take over the church or give it directions. The church evidently has several sets of by-laws “flying out of the walls” in the words of Mrs. Woodruff but has not used them to conduct business in her lifetime of attending the church. Prior to Mr. Lubin becoming Pastor, she stated that they had frequent business meetings and anyone could bring up matters for the congregation to decide. The decision was made at the meeting where the subject was brought up and decided by the majority vote of those present. Mr. Lubin felt that he could not be fired except by a majority vote of all the church members. However, it appeared from the court proceedings that he and the Deacons had refused to put such a motion in the agenda and now believed that the vote taken at the meeting did not have the authority to remove them.Mrs. Woodruff complained that since the meeting on July 19th where the motion was made to reinstate a musician and a following motion was made and carried to fire Pastor Lubin and the Board of Deacons that her group had been “locked out of the church” and were unable to use the church for meetings.At that time, the judge put the court on break and asked the attorneys and principle clients to join him in his chambers. He returned after about 15 minutes to announce that they were having a discussion and he was giving them 10 more minutes to either come to a settlement or he would make a ruling. Evidently a partial settlement was made as they returned and Pastor Lubin was called to the stand to make a statement that he and the Deacons would abide by the ruling of the court and that they would accept a “proper vote of the church.”The Judge then ruled that he would appoint a receiver who would control the physical property of the church, control all finances but only authorize funds for property maintenance and would even have the authority to decide “who preaches on Sunday.” No name was given and no timeline set for the receiver to take over or to set up the vote that seemed required to settle the problem.

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