Worship services were cut short at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Newnan on Sunday, because of a dispute that brought Newnan Police to the scene.
A Facebook Live recording, which has been viewed thousands of times on Facebook, shows church members scrambling and asking questions about their pastor’s absence at the service.
A church member said members had met with their former pastor, Stafford Dudley Sr., at the corner of Lovelace Street before the service started. Services normally starts around 11 a.m. every Sunday, but 15 minutes into worship, the service took a turn.
“He told us that words were exchanged on both ends and that he quit,” the member said.
“He told us to go to church peacefully. It all started during the benevolent offering. I think they got upset when they saw no one was putting money into the offering. That’s when one of the deacons stood up and wanted answers about what happened to pastor. That’s when another deacon stood up to dismiss church. We just wanted to know what happened.”
The member said the police arrived shortly after.
Deputy Chief Mark Cooper said the police were called a total of three times to the church.
“On the first trip, there were a couple of members across the street having a prayer ceremony because of a dissention in the church over the leadership,” Cooper said. “The
second time he was speaking to people at their cars. I think he just wanted them to know his side of things. The third time there was an argument between two female members.”
Cooper said the leaders of the church asked the police to have the members exit the church so they could have a calm meeting.
“This is just like if we go to your house and you ask us to have everybody leave, we will assist you in helping you get them out,” Cooper said. “It was not our decision to ask them to leave.”
The deputy chief said police also assisted in having a deacon leave.
“Everyone who was there was allowed to return eventually,” he said. “We didn’t cancel church.”
Cooper said this is not first time the police have been called to church because of a dispute. He said it’s usually a split or difference in opinion between the deacons, elders or the leadership team.
“We try to stay neutral and let them handle their business,” he said. “We are just there to keep the peace.”
As far as the Facebook Live video, the member said the purpose of the video was to show what’s going on behind church doors.
“This is real,” the member said. “I was really upset because I go to church to hear the word. This actually made me stronger and makes me want to get to know God even more.”
Mt. Sinai recently celebrated its 131st church anniversary.