Tennessee Church Votes Again to Remove Pastor Who Refuses to Leave; Also Revokes Membership of him and his Wife After Judge Declines to Get Involved


An East Knoxville congregation voted again to oust their pastor Monday night, after a Knox County judge ruled last month it wasn’t his place to get involved.

Four out of 135 members voted Monday to keep Pastor Valentino McNeal at Mount Olive Baptist Church on Dandridge Avenue. And of the 135 taking part Monday night, all but five were against the pastor and his wife retaining membership there.

“He created a sense of tension and conflict and what have you with his own works, so he should not be surprised at all that the church has grown tired of his rhetoric,” said member Theotis Robinson Jr.

After the vote, members set about trying to get into the pastor’s office. They had the locks changed previously.

Private security was on hand Monday.

In May 2015, members first voted to oust McNeal. He declined to leave.

Some members then chose to file suit in Knox County Chancery Court against him, accusing him of spending money without members’ approval.

Last month, Knox County Chancellor Mike Moyers dismissed the suit, saying the dispute was not a matter for the court to handle.

So on Monday night, members decided to take a vote to ratify the prior May vote. They also voted to terminate his membership along with that of his wife.

Said McNeal: “This is some other religious social club where they just got their interim pastor and interim board members. It’s not Mt. Olive. It’s their own private meeting, and it’s absolutely, unequivocally nothing to do with the Mt. Olive Baptist Church East Knoxville.”

McNeal says he’ll be back at the church Wednesday for Bible study.

Church members say they’ll have security on the property and if McNeal shows up, he’ll be detained for trespassing.