Church Ordered to Let Members Return
Two former directors of an Anaheim church, ousted and locked out of the church 11 days ago, won the right to return to their church under a temporary court order issued Wednesday.
Superior Court Commissioner Ronald L. Bauer restrained Christ Church Unity and its current board of directors from blocking former directors Oscar Lehr Holt and June B. Guithlin from attending church services and activities.
Bauer also ordered the church and its directors to refrain from conducting any trustee meetings or business affairs until a more complete court hearing can be held June 20 on a number of issues, including a request for a receiver to oversee a new election of directors.
The commissioner, however, refused a request that would have forced the church to allow fired minister George Stone to hold services at the church.
The order affects about 35 other church members who also will be permitted to return to the church; they were ousted for circulating a petition seeking a new board election, said Milo F. DeArmey of Anaheim, attorney for the ousted members.
Board president Ben Gould, who is named in the suit with the other four directors, said the growing dispute in the church stemmed from the refusal of Stone to account to the board for his income and the money earned on weddings he performed.
“We’re a tax-exempt organization, and we have to do certain things under the IRS laws,” Gould said. “A lot of things that have to do with maintaining our tax status were not getting done.”
He claimed that Stone, a minister at the church for about two years, would not tell the board how much he was earning and how much the church was earning on its “wedding business.”
Stone could not be reached for comment.
While saying that members “are always welcome to come back to the church,” Gould said the ousted members had backed Stone. He said the directors locked the church doors June 2 “to keep peace and to keep anarchy down.”
DeArmey said the suit also seeks to remove directors Gould, Beau Boyer, Ruby Craig, Bill Seale and Keith Watkins from the board because they were not duly elected directors or failed to perform their duties.
DeArmey and Gould estimated that the church has between 100 and 160 listed members, about 60 of them active. The board president said guest speakers will be used every Sunday until a new minister can be found.
Gould described Christ Church Unity as a “metaphysical, new-thought organization,” affiliated with the Unity School of Christianity in Lee’s Summit, Mo.