Source: Woodtv8

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Members of a church whose pastor is facing embezzlement charges met to worship on Sunday — despite the fact that they were locked out of the church. On Saturday, board leaders at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids  changed the church’s locks and canceled worship services. But some members of the church gathered anyway on Sunday morning in the church parking lot to worship and collect an offering for the embattled pastor. Rev. Arthur Pearson is charged with embezzling between $50,000 and $100,000 from the church, but it has yet to be decided if there is enough evidence against him to send the case to trial. “Let me just humbly apologize to the church family for this unfortunate situation with brother Stephon Blackwell and brother Nate Mayfield and taking it upon themselves to change the locks of the church,” Pearson said to at least part of his congregation. “But we still have to love each other.” The men who the pastor mentioned by name are part of the church board leadership. “This is insane. The members have rights too, and we should be able to be in our own church,” said church member Shirley Carter. The decision to change the locks and cancel services came amid an ongoing investigation that has divided the congregation. Pearson’s attorney wouldn’t discuss the pending case with 24 Hour News 8, but said the church majority voted 2-1 in favor of keeping pastor Pearson. He said the lockout is illegal. “When the civil suit was not successful, they then tried to starve the pastor and his family out of the church by cutting their pay, and when that did not drive the pastor out, they then decided they were going to change the locks and lock the majority membership out of the church,” said attorney  Jerry Ashford, who is also Pearson’s brother-in-law. Ashford said they’ve tried to negotiate, but the opposing church leadership refuses to talk. He calls a scheduled re-election to get Person removed as pastor next Saturday “a sham.” Despite the controversy, those who attended Sunday’s worship service vowed not to be deterred. Pearson will be back in court on Monday.