Easter Sunday at Welcome All Baptist Church began with a cold shoulder and accusations of breaches of faith as churchgoers complained they were locked out of their own house of worship.
More than two dozen mostly elderly attendees stood outside with reporters to condemn how the Woodstock church’s disputed pastor Willard Hamrick spent its money. A “No Trespassing” sign hung on Welcome All’s door and the parking lot gate stood locked.
“He is not the pastor here, we have new one we voted in … he needs to give us our church back,” Eva Henderson, the leading crusader against Hamrick, told Channel 2 Action News. She filed suit against him in Cherokee County Superior Court and contends she is the tiny church’s treasurer.
Willard Hamrick’s son Keith Hamrick, who identified himself as head trustee of Welcome All Baptist Church, said the accusations were false and Henderson is no longer a member.
The day of the Lord’s resurrection was no time for a public kvetch, Keith Hamrick told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Jesus wouldn’t have called the news media,” he said.
The discord began with the great floods of 2009, Keith Hamrick said. Within the span of four days, winds tore off the church’s roof and water flooded its rooms.
Henderson filed suit three days after Christmas, saying Willard Hamrick failed to tell his flock about some two-thirds of the $46,000 they received to rebuild. Keith Hamrick said church leadership showed her and other dissidents checks for all of the money they spent.
Henderson said Willard Hamrick was voted out as pastor. Hamrick said she and other critics were voted off the membership rolls.
Critics said Hamrick locked them out the week before Christmas. Keith Hamrick contends that naysayers changed the locks on them, too.
Henderson also caused a man-made flood last month when she had the electricity shut off, Keith Hamrick said. This switched off pumps that keep the building dry.
“If my dad was such a bad person, would she have him preach at her husband’s funeral?” Keith Hamrick said.
The suit seeks to have Willard Hamrick removed, full access to church property, and damages for “mental anguish,” among other things.