Church votes to oust embattled pastor

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Dozens of members of one Hattiesburg church have cast their votes in an important election that has nothing to do with national politics, but according to them, has everything to do with saving their church. At a meeting today, by a unanimous vote, 42 members of Friendship Baptist Church voted to oust current church pastor Gerry James.

He's the minister we first told you about a few days ago, who was recently arrested on the Gulf Coast on multiple charges, including DUI, threatening a police officer and possession of marijuana. He's also been accused by church members of mismanaging church finances in the wake of a 2007 fire that destroyed their church.

The members say the vote represents about half of the adult members of the congregation. The results will be turned over to their attorney.

We spoke to pastor James this afternoon. He told us no one had authority to call a church meeting and said the members who voted are part of a small group that failed to vote him out last September.

He said he's going to continue to pastor the church and said Friendship Baptist Church will hold services tomorrow at the C.E. Roy Community Center.

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