LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - When Pastor Carl Odom arrived at church for service Sunday morning, the police were there, and he could not get inside because the locks on the doors were changed.
"I've been doing this for 30 years, and I've never experienced something such as this. Just because people can't get their way they decide they're going to seize the church," Odom said.
Odom said the confusion began when he found out that the finances at the church were being mishandled, so he decided to make some changes.
"The confrontation came when we made some changes to the administration and a couple of people did not like the fact that they were no longer in the finance department," Odom added.
Deacon David Barnes said his keys to the church do not work either.
"I don't have a key, they changed the locks about a month or so ago and they never gave me key and I always wondered why," Barnes said.
Odom said a few members have been on a campaign to get rid of him ever since he made changes to the finance department.
"Letters, checks and receipts were going to a member's home and once we found out, we put the member out of the position and put someone else in there," he said.
Odom said a special meeting took place Sunday, July 12, to vote him out.He said the meeting was not according to the bylaws because no deacons or officers were present.
Odom said it was just a few members and they decided they were going to vacate the pulpit, which means to clear the sitting pastor.
There were members inside St. John Baptist Church Sunday, but they did not want to comment on the matter. Seven On Your Side spoke to another member who wished to remain anonymous.
"There are some things that he's doing that just need to be investigated," the member said of the pastor. "As he said finances, there are a few other things, he wasn't visiting sick members of the church, just little things, but they added up."
Odom said it is tough to see his church so divided, but he plans to fight for his members.
"Man it hurts man because, this is about God, it's not about us. We dedicate ourselves to do what God has called us to do. It hurts me deeply, I haven't been able to sleep really," Odom said.
Odom said Laurel police told him to handle the situation in civil court to keep peace.