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Published: Wednesday, 9/5/2012

4 from city church sue pastor, officials


Four members of a central-city Baptist church have sued the pastor and several church officials and former officials.

The lawsuit alleges that Pastor Raymond Bishop of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, 1401 Hoag St., "seized control of the assets, funds, finances, and operations of the Church," beginning in July, 2011.

The suit was filed last week in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. Church officials did not return calls seeking comment.

The lawsuit further alleges that the church's officers and directors have "failed to report to any members of the church information concerning" how the church is being run and "have failed to account to the members for the funds they have received or how they have utilized the church's assets." The defendants failed to oversee and protect the church's resources and failed to monitor the church's expenditures, the suit states.

The four plaintiffs, Langston Harrison, James Martin, John Rambus, and Eddie Ransom, requested financial documents from church officials, including a year-end financial report for 2011, quarterly financial reports, reports of salary and benefits paid in 2011 and 2012, reports of funds solicited and collected to build a youth center, and several other documents. The church so far has failed to provide these papers, the lawsuit alleges.

Last year, four church trustees sued the pastor, alleging he refused to acknowledge their authority in terminating him.

According to that suit, Mr. Bishop was the pastor from 1990 until he was fired July 6, 2011. Despite the termination, he continues to act as pastor and has "sent letters to the members of the board of trustees dismissing them from the board and their services to the church." The suit alleges Mr. Bishop bought luxury vehicles with church money and has refused to return the vehicles to the church.

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