A two-year struggle for control of the historic but shattered Fourth Baptist Church ended Monday night in a painful defeat for Pastor Dr. William E. Jackson Sr. and his diaconal allies.
An overwhelming 77 percent of the congregation rejected the former prison chaplain’s proposal to fire nine volunteer leaders who had opposed his plans, including almost all of the trustees and the church’s treasurer.
The crucial vote, which drew just over half of the 298 active members, resulted in a final score of 133 to 38 to endorse Dr. Reject Jackson’s proposal to oust the honorary church leaders.
The vote took place under the supervision of a special commissioner appointed by the Richmond Circuit Court, Attorney C. Thomas Ebel.
dr Jackson, who led the church for four years, has not spoken publicly about the defeat of his efforts to oust opponents of his use of church funds and his plans to incorporate the church at 2800 P St. in Church Hill.
However, his tenure as the ninth pastor of the 163-year-old church, founded before the civil war, is now in question.
Outside the church, members celebrating the victory suggested that he could either resign or face an impeachment vote later.
The fight began in 2020, just after the COVID-19 pandemic began, with a dispute over church employee pay after the church was forced to close its door and hold services virtually.
dr Insisting that employees continue to be paid, Jackson, with the support of six deacons, won a congregational vote to remove the finance committee and a later vote to remove opposition administrators to continue his plan for church incorporation.
The fired members fought back with a lawsuit alleging that Dr. Jackson’s actions at virtual congregational meetings violated the Church’s constitution and bylaws.
Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant agreed, first reinstating the trustees and finance committee in April 2021, then finding procedural violations in the voting in his final decision last fall. He appointed Attorney Ebel to oversee any future votes to remove the Plantiffs.
“The members he wanted to remove collectively had been with this church for 364 years,” said Dr. Dannellia Gladden-Green, a former member who, along with her husband, Rev. Kelvin L. Green Sr., is now Dr. Jackson sued and the deacons for reinstatement. “They were there for an average of 44 years.”