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The assistant pastor of megachurch Jericho City of Praise in Landover has appealed a judge’s ruling barring him from participating in the administration and financial management of the church, his lawyer said Monday.
Joel R. Peebles, 41, asked Judge Dwight Jackson, who last month barred Peebles from all church management responsibilities, to rescind the order and allow him to take his place on the church’s board of trustees. Peebles had argued that he and two others had been wrongly removed from the board.
Jackson gave control of the church’s administration to six men and women who claim they had been named to a new governing board in 2009 by Peebles’ mother, Apostle Betty Peebles, who died in October 2010. The decision effectively removed leadership from the hands of a Peebles for the first time since the church was founded in 1964.
Meanwhile, members of the church who support Peebles on Monday held the last of seven symbolic protests against his ouster from power, marching around the giant blue-and-white church seven times, taking a cue from the Bible, when the biblical character Joshua led followers on a march around the city of Jericho. The members put out a call for participation days ahead of time, taking to Facebook and the telephone to rally Peebles supporters.
On Sunday, members of the church filled in paper ballots to cast their votes for an alternative board to administer the church. The vote was orchestrated by a legal ministry made up of lawyers who are church members, banding together to help Peebles untangle himself from the controversy that had rocked the church.
A source familiar with the vote said the lawyers decided to hold the election because of what they believe was a mistatement made in a document written by the board. The document, a Peebles supporter said, said that the board had been elected by the members of the church, when in reality it had not.
In depositions, several members of the board said they had been selected by Betty Peebles, not the church membership.
Some members also complained that they opposed Jackson’s ruling for ecclesiastical reasons, calling it a violation of the separation of church and state for a court to determine who administers the church.
A separate lawsuit Peebles filed seeking to overturn his mother’s will on the grounds that she was incompetent or not operating under her own control is likely to be heard in court next year, according to Peebles’ attorney, Timothy Maloney.
Peebles has repeatedly refused to be interviewed. A spokeswoman for him said he was not planning to be present at the march Monday night.
This report has been updated.