Trouble at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Church Members Protest Outside of Church.

October 22, 2008 at 8:50 am Leave a comment

uzee-brown.jpgA dispute at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta spilled into the street where a half-dozen parishioners staged a protest. The protesters object to the removal of the church’s choir director and demand the resignation of senior pastor the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

On Sunday, the protesters held placards reading “Warnock Lies” and “Bring Back Dr. Uzee Brown,” the recently departed choir director.

Protester Gloria Bell was briefly detained by a National Park Service ranger who said Bell had refused to leave the sidewalk, claiming she was standing on city property. But the ranger told her it was federal property and issued her a criminal trespass warning.

Warnock was cheered when he said any attempt to plant the “seeds of dissension in the church” is the devil’s work.

Bell, who was wearing a sandwich sign reading “Warnock Must Go!” had refused to leave the sidewalk, saying it was city property. But park ranger Clark Moore told her it was the Park Service’s turf as he removed the sign, cuffed a screaming Bell and forced her into a patrol car. She returned minutes later holding a criminal trespass warning.

Church leaders said Warnock, who preached his first sermon at Ebenezer three years ago, wasn’t available for comment Sunday morning at the modern Horizon Sanctuary, where services now are held. But shortly after the 11 a.m. service started, a dozen members of the church’s board of deacons walked across Auburn Avenue to the historic church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached his message of nonviolence. They voiced support for Warnock there.

“The current protest by seven members of Ebenezer’s more than 3,000 members clearly does not represent the consensus of the body,” said deacon chairman Phillip Finch, 55, a lifelong member.

Across the street, on a sidewalk outside the national park limits, protestors received a mixed reaction from parishioners leaving the early service.

A couple of members honked in support. Most walked by without saying anything.

One woman shouted, “What do you want — a perfect pastor?”

The protestors, who included choir president Lydia Walker, insisted that Warnock has shaken up the church staff without regard to the feelings of some longtime members.

They also said he has refused to share the church’s finances with them.

Warnock addressed the controversy during the 8 a.m. service, telling worshipers that, while they might not understand everything he does, they must trust in his plans.

“Any effort to plant the seeds of dissension in the church is by definition a demonic effort,” he said to cheers from the congregation. “I’m glad that the devil has no power here.”

Source: AP / AJC

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Entry filed under: African-American, Christian. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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