Grover Beach church wins another round

September 24, 2019

By KAREN VELIE

A San Luis Obispo County judge on Monday rebuked a motion to restrain parishioners from attending services at the Bethel Baptist Church on Newport Avenue while two groups battle over ownership of the property. [Cal Coast News]

Last fall, the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) entered into an agreement to sell the 57-year-old church and 3.1-acre lot valued at $2.4 million to $2.9 million to The 5 Cities Homeless Coalition. Proceeds of the sale were to go into the coffers of the C&MA, a group known for absorbing churches and then selling off their assets.

Members of the Bethel Baptist Church began battling the C&MA over ownership of the property in early 2019 when they were told that the church was being shuttered and sold because membership had declined. After parishioners changed the locks, secured title to the property and accused the C&MA of fraud, the C&MA sued for ownership of the church.

As part of the legal wranglings, C&MA’s attorney Michael Pick filed a motion to bar the parishioners from entering the church until the court determines the legal owner: the C&MA or the Bethel Baptist Church congregation.

In Court, Pick accused the parishioners of destroying church property, and said that they might burn it down. Pick said Pastor John Fleming had changed the locks, emptied the bank account, and filed a new grant deed, all without legal authority. Judge Ginger Garrett denied Pick’s motion.

Garrett suggested mediation, but both sides felt there was no room to negotiate. Pick then asked the judge to move the trial up to April 2020, to protect his clients from loosing their buyer.

Bethel Baptist Church potluck on Sunday

Earlier this month, The 5 Cities Homeless Coalition purchased a 3,855 square-foot property at 100 Fourth Street in Grover Beach, where they plan to conduct homeless services. Even so, the homeless coalition is still trying to buy the Bethel Baptist Church property to utilize for homeless housing.

One of the attorneys for the Bethel Baptist Church, Michael Haupt, told the court he plans to seek a summary judgement and agreed to a tentative trial date in April.

According to the C&MA lawsuit, as membership and finances declined, the church legally became under the governance and ownership of C&MA. Pick wants the court to compel Fleming to transfer legal title to C&MA, to eject the congregants from the property, to return of the bank account funds, and pay punitive damages and cost of the suit.

On the other side, Fleming and the Bethel Baptist Church Board said C&MA employees illegally transferred the church to the C&MA after they used church money to pay off their personal debts.


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ActaNonVerba

Someone with some real juice needs to get the IRS to crawl-up the Christian and Missionary Alliance’s ass…


George Garrigues

“Rebuke” a motion? What does THAT mean? I read the whole story and couldn’t find the answer; did I miss it? Also: “to protect his clients from loosing their” . . . loosing, or UNloosing, or losing, or . . . huh? What ever happened to copy editors?


DocT

Whoa! Is the Claire Eastin from Templeton Community Church, who aided and assisted C&MA in their looting operation the same Claire Eastin who was recently convicted of embezzlement of yet another church?


Is church looting a new cottage industry?


Noodly Appendages

Tar and feathers. It’s all I can think of for Pick and his clients.


analyticone

In big business, it’s called asset-stripping.


Mjd

Folks,


Christ threw the money changers out of the church, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) is wrong to try to steal this church from the parishioners who worship there.


Ultimately, the law is a search for the truth, and the truth of the matter is that the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) is off base, and the judges are correct to rule against them.


God bless the sinners, but reject their evil ways!


NorthCountyLady

This article made my day. When The Christian and Missionary Alliance did virtually the same thing to Templeton Community Church (TCC), their power and money were enough to buy the Board of Elders, and the church secretary Claire Eastin by promising them their continued positions, power and salary, to help them steal the church from Pastor John Kaiser and many families who had called TCC their home and family for years and decades. I applaud the parishoners of Bethel Baptist Church for standing up to them. I will continue to pray that CMA and it’s leadership will see that their decisions based on financial issues is the very anti-thesis of what Jesus’s teachings exemplified.


Kalifornia_Bud

Isn’t Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee’s fingerprints all over this crime scene?


Stunned

This is a great start in the right direction. Can’t wait to see CMA’s smug mugs when the members get to keep their church permanently!