A church pastor called deputies to remove 16 congregants who refused to stop singing as he tried to begin his sermon, according to a sheriff’s report.
Pastor David Noel reported a disturbance at the Bethanie Seventh-day Adventist Church to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office when the group would not allow the Saturday morning service to continue.
All 16 church members were issued trespass warnings and left the property without incident, according to a sheriff’s report.
One congregant who received a warning said the group was protesting Noel’s leadership and alleged misuse of insurance money for damage to the church caused by Hurricane Charley.
“We received $364,000, but he told us we only got $264,000 because he wanted to give $100,000 to another church in Fort Myers,” Monique Robert said Monday. “But this money is for Bethanie. We want all the money for our church.”
Another congregant, Edourd A. Pierrelus, alleged that Noel struck his chest and twisted his left earlobe during an Oct. 1 meeting to elect new church board members.
“Many things are wrong in the church,” Pierrelus told deputies Saturday. “We don’t want him to be the pastor.”
Noel declined to comment to reporters Monday.
“I don’t have much to tell you, just that we are preaching the word here,” he said.
Milton Sterling, ministerial director for the Southeastern Conference governing the region’s Adventist congregations, said church officials were investigating the incidents.
Robert said she and the other 15 congregants who received warnings will attend a different church service this Saturday.