Talks break down in church lawsuit

Pastor of Toledo congregation argues against termination

2/12/2013
BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Saying he would rather see Southern Missionary Baptist Church work out its differences outside a courtroom, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates tried unsuccessfully Monday to help the two sides reach an agreement.

The church at 1224 Indiana Ave. filed a complaint Feb. 1 seeking a temporary restraining order against 13 members who it alleged had attempted to oust the Rev. Lemuel A. Quinn as pastor in a vote taken Jan. 28.

The church further alleged the members had filed false police reports and had physically threatened other church members, among other things.

Judge Bates said that while the two sides “made very good progress” during talks in his chambers, those discussions ultimately broke down.

“I hope it doesn’t come to me to make the decision of who the pastor of your church is,” the judge said. “It should not be a legal decision. It should be a decision of the church.”

He scheduled a hearing for Feb. 25 at which time he intends to rule on a motion to dismiss filed Monday by church members represented by attorney Byron Choka.

The motion contends Quinn “does not have the authority to file anything on behalf of the church because he’s been terminated as pastor,” Mr. Choka said.

Quinn and the plaintiffs dispute the termination.

Mr. Choka said his clients are dissatisfied with Quinn in part because they feel he has been deceitful about his criminal record and has been threatening to some members.

Quinn was convicted in 1973 of manslaughter for shooting a man, something he discussed with The Blade in a 2010 interview after he was elected senior pastor of Southern Missionary Baptist Church.

Charles McKinney, who represents the church, said the church’s intent is not to put any members out or take away their rights but simply to have orderly worship services without disruptions and an orderly process for resolving differences.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.