Jericho City of Praise Update Members create Tell All Website-against Church Staff Hostile Takeover

So many times, I have to write My Take on the inappropriate actions of a Pastor, this time, however, I have got to blast the church staff attempted hostile takeover of  both the spiritual and financial leadership of Jericho City of Praise .  Based on the staff’s recent court depositions, they  have proven to me that most of what the members are saying is true,  they are, in fact,  operating in the most ungodly manner towards the Shepherd of that house, Joel Peebles.

For the past several months, I have been following the sad saga surrounding one of the mid-atlantic regions largest mega-church, Jericho City of Praise.   A multimillion-dollar ministry that includes everything from a 15,000 +member congregation to offering paid parking for Washington Redskins games,  Jericho’s day-to-day operations and total financial control is in the hands of its church staff, who by the way also serve as the official Trustee Board of the Church. Many members have used as a platform to voice their side of the story and chile  If they did not send me proof,  I would have never believed that a church of this magnitude is operating in such an ungodly, incompetent and chaotic manner.

In addition to posting the church staff depositions that confirms what many members have been commenting about, the members of Jericho have now went one step further by creating their own tell it all website: 

Jericho City of Praise  battle of control includes everything from fighting during the offering in a church service, non disclosure of vital financial information and possible conflicts of interest with regard to IRS TAX Codes,  (Dorothy Williams deposition)  to forming a collaborated smear campaign against Elder Joel based on basically the staff’s displeasure of his alleged arrogant attitude (Clarence Jackson deposition). and, style of preaching.  In my opinion only, Jericho’s church staff appears to be  operating in a spirit of  fear in losing their positions within the church due to the ungodly behavior they have directed to Elder Joel who now and rightfully so, feels they cannot be trusted. What was most disturbing to me was a letter forwarded to Pastor Joel Peeples alerting  him that the Board  (church staff members) have decided to invite another preacher into his pulpit.  to preach one of the two Sunday morning worship services.

From perusing the many depositions posted on their website, each staff member appears to be totally resistant to accepting or acknowledging  any type  leadership from Elder Joel.  The following synopsis, confirmed by the above mentioned depositions, was submitted by one of Jericho’s church members, Amer Banks:

“The employees are just that, employees.  They are not qualified in any way to handle this ministry.  They believe they have authority to say what Pastor Joel should preach on, how long he can preach, whether he can do a “War Cry” or not and what evangelist or artist he can bring in.  These six rogue employees are led by an Ex-Deacon who was removed due to  a failure to conduct himself in a manner befitting a deacon in the Lord’s church.  These six rogue employees/members filed a restraining order against Pastor Joel just 4 days after his mother died (Sunday evening after preaching two church services where he told the church his mother was dead) and before she was even buried.

These six employees/members gave themselves large raises and some of them have either purchased new houses and or luxury cars.  Hmmm!!   What a coincidence?  Their story is that Apostle Betty Peebles, while bed ridden with terminal cancer, just days from death was so moved by how well these six took care of her, that she made a deathbed decision to give them all raises of up to $20,000.00 a piece. Church Lady, I don’t think so.  She was too tight!!

Church Lady, our church has provided parking spaces for the fans attending the Washington Redskins football games for over ten years.  Apostle Peebles negotiated with the Redskins for them to pay the church a large amount of money per game.  After Apostle Peebles got sick the six employees /members cancelled the contract with the Redskins and implemented ‘CASH ONLY’ parking lots. The price went from $25.00 to $35.00 per car and for some stadium events as much as $50.00 each. There are thousands of parking spaces (“Cash Money”), Hmmm!! .   These six employees/members that the Judge put in charge do not give any account of the money taken in and they have publicly said that they do not owe the members any financial reports.  They have refused any and all attempts by the members to get some type of fiscal report.  Outside of these six people, no one really knows how much is taken in at any game, how much is paid out for expenses, how much they spend for the lavish buffets that they enjoy each and every  game, as they rake in the dough.  None of the members know if all the money is accounted for.  Hmmm!!      Church Lady, get this, the same people who take in the money, count the money and write the checks on the money…you get the picture. Hmmm!!  C’mon Church Lady, I smell something foul!!”

Now I have a few questions for the members of Jericho City of Praise:

1.  If you have more than 15,000  members in your church and the church leadership refuses to offer financial accountability to its congregants, why are you continuing to pay your tithes and offerings.   This church staff will only listen when the money dries up, trust me on that one.  Pastor Joel I know this is something that you may not want to hear but it is the truth and you know The Church Lady got to keep it real!

2.  Where are your bylaws?   The depositions that I read kept referring to the church staff advising that Apostle Betty Peeples wanted and felt the need to  create new by-laws. Were they ever created and voted on by the members of the church?   If not where are your old by-laws.  I would suggest you refer to the by-laws of the church which is usually a mandate required by IRS that allows a nonprofit organization to be exempt from income tax.

Further, please know by reading some of the disclosures  made in those depositions by Ms. Williams,  there appears to be many areas that may cause an investigation on your beloved church, so understand that by posting your dirty laundry to the world you are opening up Pandora’s box for the Federal Government to move in.   With that being said.  Jericho members, should for no other reason, demand a call meeting with the church leadership to get your house in order .  The process by which a meeting should be called should be included in your church’s by-laws.

3.  Don’t be mad at the Judge for not giving Elder Joel financial control of the church. The Judge had to rule on what was presented and normally Pastors do NOT maintain financial control of a church.   In many churches, including a mega church, the  financial control is managed  with policies, procedures and processes developed and implemented by a board of trustees that meets monthly to review the financial reports offered by the church’s staff  accountant and or a Chief Financial officer.  After which, reports are made to the Senior Pastor and depending on the by-laws offered to the general membership at minimum annually.

Members of the Trustee Boards  are almost never allowed to serve as a paid staff member in any capacity. (to avoid conflict of interest and abuse of power) And, finally members of the Trustee Board normally have background experience  and contacts in corporate relations and or finance .

An appointed member of the Trustee board serves as the treasurer and that persons’ duty is to  work along with the Chief Financial Officer/accountant on a weekly/bi-weekly; work with the auditors and report its findings to the Senior Pastor, Trustee Board and in some cases membership at large.

Normally only the trustees  and Treasurer sign checks.  Very seldom, if ever does  the church facilities manager or administrator or even Senior Pastor sign the checks.  I  was very surprised not to read in any of the depositions that the accountants who conduct’s Jericho’s audit do not report these as areas of concern to the leadership, or did they, and it was never reported to the Pastor or membership at large?

When I read deposition offered by the church’s CFO and learned that she did not have a clue as to what the  basic IRS  UBIT (unrelated business income tax) form is, it was confirmed for me that she may be in over her head to financially manage this multi-million dollar ministry.   Further her position as both chief financial officer and a voting member of the board of directors clearly allows too much opportunity for possible abuse of power.  Which is why normally church staff do not serve in any voting trustee or deacon board capacity.

3.  Bottom line, the power of the church comes from the church community not six church staff persons, when the members of Jericho stand up and demand accountability of its church leadership, the situation will change.  As long as the church allows Pastor Joel to fight this battle on his own and enables the leadership to divide its house, the house will fall down.

I applaud the brave members who are standing up for their  pastor and getting the word out about this pathetic situation.  I challenge my fellow bloggers to post this story on their sites  to help members of Jericho and Pastor Joel Peebles fight these attacks and finally, I pray for the church staff of Jericho.  I pray that God will soften your hearts to allow you time to pray and hear His Voice.   “Touch Not My Anointing.”

One final note to the members of Jericho, “This battle is not only Pastor  Joel’s, it’s YOURS!