Church in Court

Church in Court
By:  Wes Wallace
Bell City, MO -- Members of a Heartland church fight to keep meeting at their place of worship. On Friday, a Stoddard County judge will hear a case that pits a group of church goers against their religious association.
"I feel a great loyalty to my parents, my family, and the community," explains Jim Delay, whose parents helped start the church about 75 years ago, "It just broke me up, when I found out about the lawsuit."
The problem started when the Missouri Southern District of the Assembly of God filed a petition and complaint citing 'unlawful detainer'. Apparently, churchgoers at the Bell City Assembly of God disbanded themselves from the association, and took the name lettering off the front of their church. However, that wasn't enough for the association leaders, who want control of the property, the church building and everything inside.
"It's beyond me how a worldwide organized church could come in, and just take us over," says Delay. He claims the church doesn't have any money invested in the church, and that the local community actually owns the property.
Despite numerous attempts, representatives for the Missouri Southern District Assembly of God couldn't be reached by phone. The attorney for the group also did not return our phone calls.