The members of Southern Acres Christian Church want a new pastor. Nearly 200 people voted Sunday to remove the current pastor of the embattled Lexington church. The vote was a unanimous 173-0, according to Chance Staley, a church member.
“The people have spoken,” Staley said. “Democracy has really gotten to play out here. I think it’s a very important lesson that you have to stand up to injustice.”
Numerous Southern Acres members drove to nearby Meadowbrook Park to cast their votes on a resolution that would oust Lead Pastor Cameron McDonald; his wife, Erica; and pastor Tim Jones from the church.
The church’s controversy has been ongoing since at least November of last year, when a lawsuit — which has since been dismissed — accused McDonald of concentrating power and misusing $100,000 in church money. Since then, several church members have been sent letters instructing them not to trespass on the property and some church members have been barred from entering the church for Sunday services. Prior to November, church members said weekly attendance was about 300. That has dwindled to about 100.
On Sunday the church doors were locked during the morning service, preventing numerous church members from entering.
The passed resolution would also elect a nine-member Board of Elders and task them to search for a new lead pastor. Before the vote, the Board of Elders consisted in part of McDonald, his wife, and Jones.
It is unclear what will happen to McDonald in the near future. Although the resolution passed, McDonald, through an attorney, has previously said the vote was illegal under the church’s bylaws. Other church members believe Sunday’s vote is valid because the church’s bylaws were not approved by the congregation and not valid.
Staley said church members plan to evict McDonald if he doesn’t leave on his own.
“This process should be very straightforward,” he said. “If it does not become straightforward, we will just take the legal actions required. … Even if that means that the police have to escort him out.”
Staley said McDonald and his followers were still welcome to the church, but McDonald is not welcome to lead it.
“We’re not going to lock him out,” Staley said.
The Herald-Leader reached out to McDonald to get his side of the story. He did not respond as of Sunday afternoon.