TN pastor refuses to leave after members said they voted him out of church

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Christmas, is a time when most churches are coming together for the holidays. However, there seems to be a clear divide at Mount Olive Baptist every Sunday.

Members said their pastor was voted out of their church back in May. However, the pastor, Pastor Rev. Dr. Valentino McNeal, said it wasn’t an official vote.

In accordance with Mount Olive Baptist Church constitution, the church only needs 12 signatures to have a meeting to discontinue the service of their pastor. Theotis Robinson Junior, a 23 year member of the church said members voted 86-5 to discontinue Pastor McNeal.

Robinson said that the police are called during Sunday services. He also said accountability of funds for the church is a huge problem.

“He’s dictatorial, on his own he decided to remove four members of the deacon board, because he didn’t feel they were loyal enough to him,” said Robinson. “He’s removal people from the trustee board and fired employees without cause.”

Rev. Dr. McNeal said that’s not the case. “There’s not one person in this church that we had to dismiss from a particular role that adhered to those leadership requirements,” said McNeal.

McNeal said he is shocked by the actions of certain people at Mount Olive Baptist Church. “They’ve made church a country club. They think because they put a dollar in the plate they can do everything they want to in the church without discipline,” he said. “Our religion becomes radicalized when it gets to this magnitude where we have no respect for God.”

Moving forward McNeal hopes things get back on the right track. “God placed me here as there pastor, and I’m going to serve them,” he said.

Knoxville Police Department said they are watching security at the church. In the mean time, a court case is pending to determine property rights of the church.

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