Judge denies motion to remove parishioners from Grover Beach church

May 24, 2019

The Grover Beach church after C&MA removed the Hillside Church signs

By KAREN VELIE

A San Luis Obispo County judge denied a request to keep members of the Bethel Baptist Church from holding services at the church on Newport Avenue. The question of ownership led Judge Ginger Garrett to say she was inclined to deny the request from the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) for a temporary restraining order against parishioners. [Cal Coast Times]

At stake is the ownership of the 57-year-old church and 3.1-acre lot valued at between $2.4 million to $2.9 million.

“I am not sure what is going on,” Judge Garrett said. “I don’t know who the people are who have rightful ownership or control of the property.”

CMA’s attorney Michael Pick argued that the Bethel Baptist Church parishioners had changed the locks, emptied the bank account, and filed a new grant deed, all without legal authority.

Judge Garrett denied Pick’s request for a temporary restraining order and scheduled a hearing for June 27 to further review the issue of who controls the property while they move through the legal process.

“It is not right. It is not fair,” Pick said. “Kicking it over almost validates what the defendants have done here.”

Members of the Bethel Baptist Church have been battling the CMA over ownership of the property on Newport Avenue since early 2019 when they were told that the church was being shuttered and sold because membership had fallen.

On Oct. 17, 2018, then-pastor Ronald Kennedy filed a grant deed transferring the property from Bethel Baptist Church to the Hillside Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, according to the deed. At that time, Kennedy was in negotiations to sell the debt-free building to the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition.

The property sits on a 3.1-acre lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean in a quiet residential neighborhood.

In early May, the Bethel Baptist Church’s current pastor, John Fleming, filed a grant deed transferring the property back into the ownership of Bethel Baptist Church.

On May 17, Pick filed a lawsuit against Fleming and the Bethel Baptist Church congregation to quiet title. The suit also alleged wrongful possession of property, trespass and intentional interference with contact.

In his lawsuit, Pick says as membership and finances declined, the church legally became under the governance and ownership of CMA. Pick alleges Fleming improperly closed the church’s bank account, removing $7,993.

Pick asked the court to compel Fleming to transfer legal title to C&MA, to eject the congregants from the property, for return of the bank account funds, for punitive damages and cost of the suit.


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AmericaTheFree

Yes, yes, christianity at its finest… And if you don’t think it’s about the Benjamin’s (with a very strong odor of hate towards the homeless community) then you ain’t got a clue.

1 Timothy 6:10 – “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Looks like the many sorrows are multiplying….


kayaknut

A bit confused how members of the Bethel Baptist Church and their desire not to have their church and property stolen by a for profit company disguised as faith based has to do wit the homeless.


AmericaTheFree

The building was slated to be sold to the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition, right? And CMA stepped in and put a halt to that, right? That’s what smells to high heaven…


1965buick

Confused by this. Why would BB be the good guys and not HC?

At a minimum, I think most of us would agree that a ‘homeless services’ location is utter BS.


AmericaTheFree

“At a minimum, I think most of us would agree that a ‘homeless services’ location is utter BS.”

Please explain. What’s BS about a homeless service?


seeking truth

It is nice to see honest reporting on this matter!


ActaNonVerba

It would be wonderful if South County Baptists/other Protestants showed support for Bethel Baptist Church by praying for the future of the church, by attending Sunday services, by allowing their names to be added to the church’s rolls and maybe by throwing a few bucks into the weekly collection.


That goes for all its neighbors — Christian or not, who want to see the property remain a church and not a homeless center. Make a small investment in your neighborhood by showing some support for Bethel Baptist Church. It’ll make a huge difference come court time.


ActaNonVerba

Just follow the money. It sounds like Ronald Kennedy/Christian and Missionary Alliance are real estate thieves. It took a while for other members of the Bethel Baptist Church to wake up, but now they have and they’ll likely prevail in a court of law. Axios!


Once Bethel Baptist Church prevails in court, I hope they sue the would-be thieves in civil court as the SLOC DA will likely not do a darned thing.


I hope this property remains a church. The Catholic Church does not have a presence in Grover Beach. It might be prudent to see if the Bishop of Monterey — Bishop Danny Garcia, would have an interest in acquiring this property?


what the

Umm, I think we have had this “catholic” conversation before, Action. Let’s just leave the “catholic” problems out of our county. Thank you.


ActaNonVerba

Stop with the anti-Catholic prejudice…


There are already more than a dozen Catholic parishes in SLO County. I was just pointing out that the Church does not have a presence in Grover Beach, although it does in neighboring AG, Pismo and Nipomo.


This facility might make a wonderful Catholic parish. Just throwing out an option. A GOOD option at that. It worked in Orange County.


AmericaTheFree

Again, what worked in Orange County? Over 70 priestly pedophiles from approximately 260 priests in that dioecies? That’s what, better than a third of your “fathers” were sexually “working” kids? Yea, that’s exactly what any city should stay away from.

Your stamina in protecting this institution with a long a sordid history of murder and abuse is only outdone by the dogma you project when trying to earn your god’s good graces by endorsing his proto-church…

One other thing (no)Acta’… It ain’t prejudice you’re dealing with here, nope! It’s facts, just simple facts.


AmericaTheFree

One other thing there (no)Acta’… 3 pedophile “fathers” identified from the Monterey Dioecies were assigned to the proto-christian buildings right here in SLO County, bet you knew that too (people are still coming forward, ones from SLO who say those numbers don’t get close to the actual number of “fathers” sexually abusing kids)!

You, and the others here on CCN, will demonize and condemn the homeless community as a whole for the acts of a few but won’t hold that same standard to your proto-church and it’s sexual deviants.

Maybe you should consider ““Fac quod dico,non quod facio” as your moniker in the future


horse_soldier

Score one for the good guys! Go Bethel Baptist.


Gordo

In October of last year the former pastor transfers title, while negotiating the sale of the property, apparently behind the parishioner’s backs.


I wonder what the former pastor’s commission was going to be? Pretty nice severance package!


This is some shady business and it’s too bad we don’t have a District Attorney’s Office that would investigate possible fraud charges. They have all those investigators in their office and they claim they investigate public corruption, but I bet they will steer clear of this case. Nobody wants to ask questions of one of our fastest growing industries: The homeless services industry.


Stunned

Well this took a twist for the good people of Bethel Baptist Church finally. I hope and pray they prevail!