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Ebenezer Baptist Choir Director’s ouster protested

Ebenezer Baptist Choir Director’s ouster protested
Posted By: Minister Celeste Kelley on October 21, 2008

A handful of parishioners protested Sunday morning in front of Ebenezer Baptist Church, decrying the ouster of the historic church’s choir director and demanding the Rev. Raphael Warnock step down as senior pastor.

The demonstrators held placards reading “Warnock Lies” and “Bring Back Dr. Uzee Brown,” a reference to the recently departed choir director who heads the Department of Music at Morehouse College.

One protester, former choir member Gloria Bell, was handcuffed and taken away by National Park Service rangers in front of the church where she was baptized more than 50 years ago.

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 (left) 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.”

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Rev. JC Harris Jr.
Serv. Asst. at Olan Mills Inc.
Wow! May God help therm God will not Bless no mass....!
Wednesday, October 22nd 2008 at 3:01PM
Takeisha Lambert
Teacher Education Instructor at Rock Valley College
This is very unfortunate. I hope the issue is resolved soon. This damages the Body of Christ.
Saturday, October 25th 2008 at 11:47AM
Pray for the pastor as he may have to make to tough decisions to lead the body. I would also suggest that annual financial statements be made available to members if contributions are in question.
Wednesday, October 29th 2008 at 4:59PM
Vanessa Gorham
Secretary at NIH
I missed the location of this church. Where is it?
Thursday, May 7th 2009 at 1:53PM
Vanessa Gorham
Secretary at NIH
I missed the location of this church. Where is it?
Thursday, May 7th 2009 at 1:58PM
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