Cook County Record

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pilgrim Baptist Church member asks court to order church's deacon board chairman to step down

By Dan Harkins | May 8, 2015

A man denied access to Pilgrim Baptist Church's regular deacon meeting has asked a judge to end the tenure of the church's deacon board chairman, who reportedly had been voted out of office, yet has refused to step down.

Isaac S. Whitman filed an emergency motion May 4 in Cook County Circuit Court.

Located at 3300 S. Indiana Avenue in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, Pilgrim Baptist is in the midst of rebuilding its historic church building, which was destroyed by fire in 2006. The congregation is renowned as the birthplace of gospel music, and played a large role in the Civil Rights movement.

According to the complaint, Whitman, a member of Pilgrim Baptist Church, is the photographer for the church and secretary of the Brotherhood Ministry. Alfonso Carrington, also a member of the church, had been chairman of the deacon board for a decade, as of Dec. 31, 2014.

Whitman's complaint states the deacon board members voted Carrington out as chairman on Jan. 1, 2015, but Carrington has opted not to step aside and even "made the drastic measure by removing ... vice chairman Hillary Hays' name from the church bulletin and without a vote of the deacons."  Further, as of April 30, the suit states, Carrington has not yet announced the annual church business meeting, which has historically been held each January.

The lawsuit states Whitman came to the scheduled deacon meeting April 27, but Carrington denied his entry. Carrington allegedly stated "a request to attend a deacon meeting must be made in writing." The plaintiff alleges "the action by ... Carrington is retaliatory because of a lawsuit filed against Pilgrim Baptist Church by ... Whitman."

The plaintiff asks the court to order Carrington "to step aside and the new leadership of the deacon board announce the annual church business meeting be held no later than 30 days after the judge's decision."

Whitman also asks the court to order Carrington to give him a full mailing list of the church's members in 10 days and to pay him a penalty of $10,000 "for his retaliatory action." Whitman is self-represented.

Cook County Circuit Court Case No.: 15-CH-7275.

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