JACKSONVILLE, Florida. –The pastor who founded one of Jacksonville’s largest churches and quit amid a bitter legal battle has announced his future ministry plans.
Ministries Stovall Weems sent out its first newsletter to supporters on Wednesday. He also addressed the ongoing legal case between Celebration Church and its founders, Stovall and Kerri Weems.
“2022 has been by far the most difficult and darkest season of our lives. I learned extremely painful, yet deeply valuable lessons about myself, about trusting in God and His purposes, and about others,” the newsletter read. “I want you to know that Kerri and I are operating under spiritual supervision and are now pressing ‘… toward the goal for the prize of God’s high calling in the Messiah Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:14)”
Stovall Weems has announced that its first online ministry events will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 25 and at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 1. He said he would answer questions and people would have the opportunity to get involved in different ministry teams.
Stovall Weems also addressed the ongoing litigation with Celebration Church. Earlier this year, the Weems filed an injunction against Celebration, alleging that a church administrator was improperly billing the church for construction-type services. They said the trustee turned the others against them and set the stage for an “infamous coup” to evict the Weems.
Celebration Church has hired a law firm to conduct an internal investigation. He spoke with more than 20 current and former senior management, staff, former directors and other advisors. He released his report in April, detailing allegations of financial misconduct, spiritual and emotional abuse, and narcissistic behavior.
The report alleges that Stovall Weems misused money from the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to provide relief from COVID-19. Stovall Weems has repeatedly denied all of the allegations against him and has since filed a libel suit against Celebration Church.
Stovall Weems wrote in his newsletter that some people have questioned why they are going to court to resolve this dispute.
“One reason is simple: our adversaries have attacked us publicly by falsely accusing us of violating secular laws and should therefore be held publicly accountable for the consequences of their actions. It is not a simple dispute between believers that would normally be resolved as provided in 1 Corinthians 6,” the bulletin read. “You would think that after posting such serious accusations about us on their (sic) website, Celebration Church would also be keen to support them publicly. However, he does not want the truth to be put to the test and, despite having cast the first stone, fights in court to keep the truth hidden behind the secrecy of ecclesiastical arbitration. I hope you will understand why we think this legal maneuver is unfair and unfair.
“We anticipate that the legal battle over Celebration Church’s attempt to force our claims to be arbitrated in secrecy will be long, drawn-out and may involve appeals. However, we will not relinquish our commitment to truth and justice, and we are confident that we can eventually bring our accusers to justice for their actions.
The Stovall Weems Ministries newsletter also details plans for a trip to the Holy Land in early 2023. It also announced that Stovall Weems will release weekly podcasts featuring interviews and discussions with pastors and special guests from around the world.
The newsletter says many people have indicated that they would like to partner financially with the Weems by donating their tithes and offerings. It included a link for people to donate online.
Stovall Weems Ministries said its chief financial officer, Connie Mussels Jerozal, has 30 years of professional audit and business experience and will ensure Weems are kept regularly informed.
Other cases in the court system
Two other cases involving the Weems are pending in the Duval County court system.
Celebration Church filed an eviction order to move the Weems out of the house they live in on Shellcracker Road in Black Hammock Island. Stovall Weems sold this house to Celebration Church last summer. Celebration Church said that since resigning from his duties in the church, he no longer has the power to live in this property but “refuses to leave”.
The libel lawsuit said that Stovall Weems, church trustees and the church attorney began preparing a retirement package for him, and as part of this, the property was going to be given to Celebration Global, the Stovall Weems missionary non-profit organization as a gift.
“It was very clear, in writing, and was agreed to by all parties,” Stovall Weems’ defamation lawsuit said. The lawsuit said the church’s internal investigation report omitted many of these details.
The third court case involves First Citizens Bank, which is suing the Weems for a $716,123 debt.
The 71-page filing says Stovall and Kerri Weems and their companies defaulted on their payment obligations.
The filing lists the Weems, Honey Lake Farms Inc., Weems Group LLC and Northstream Management LLC as defendants.
Celebration Church is currently under the leadership of Pastor Tim Timberlake. He was tapped to take over from Stovall Weems last year, so Stovall Weems could focus on missions and other initiatives. The church released a statement to News4JAX I-TEAM at the end of May, saying it was excited about the future and would continue to move forward.
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