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Published: Thursday, 6/13/2013

Church files complaint against county judge


A Toledo church that has been at odds about retaining or firing its pastor is asking Ohio’s 6th District Court of Appeals to order a Lucas County judge to stay out of the church’s internal business.

Southern Missionary Baptist Church, 1224 Indiana Ave., filed a complaint this week with the appellate court seeking a writ of prohibition against Common Pleas Judge James Bates, who on April 29 found that a group of church members who voted to oust the Rev. Lemuel A. Quinn as pastor was not the appropriate body to make that decision.

The judge further ordered the church’s two factions to create a committee to draft bylaws to determine the procedure to remove a pastor.

The judge said six members were to be chosen by each side with a 13th member, Toledo attorney Keith Mitchell, to serve as moderator.

“Ohio courts have held that once a court has determined whether the appropriate church body has made the challenged decision, the issue of whether the church followed its internal procedures is a matter of church governance and discipline into which a secular court is prohibited from inquiring,” the church wrote in its complaint.

The complaint went on to say: “Whether the church adopts or declines to adopt a bylaw governing the removal of pastors is a matter of internal governance into which civil courts are not permitted to interfere.”

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