Another Church Mess: Bishop William Bonner

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Bishop William Bonner (deceased) who once presided over Harlem, N.Y. based Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ is calling foul play on the church officials allegedly noting that church officials are hiding money and records about real estate and other property that belongs to the family.

Bishop Bonner passed away in April 2015 after suffering from dementia and complications from  a stroke, he was 93 years old. Under his leadership, the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ

According to his granddaughter, Grace Bonner, her grandfather’s will was changed 11 months before he died, which she said is suspicious.

“My father was not allowed into his office or the home to get his personal belongings,” she said.

“There are bank accounts where the Social Security checks went to. We’ve been trying to contest the will since he died. They have hidden a lot of things from us.”

She said several pieces of the property include some on East Seven Mile and Conant in Detroit and an apartment at the Riverfront Towers downtown. Some land parcels and a home are in danger of being foreclosed on by Wayne County because family members say there are delinquent tax bills on them.

“He warned people about it,” and that is what prompted her to ask  the Wayne County Probate Court to intervene. Judge Judy Hartsfield said during a hearing on the matter Wednesday that she will decide by March 9 whether to dismiss the case.

Bonner’s real estate empire includes as many as 30 homes and other properties in Michigan, New York, South Carolina and Washington, D.C., his family says.

His survivors want the church to open its books on the late bishop’s financial affairs to give them more information about the bishop’s will detailing property and cash that they say should be part of their inheritance. But lawyers for Bonner’s estate, which is overseen by a church bishop, say the family should take their questions to church leaders, which Bonner’s granddaughters say they have done without success.

The family, which has no role in the church, is fighting for the right to sell their father’s property while church officials argue any sale should benefit the church.

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