Just last month the Long Beach Assembly of God church locked its pastor out after board members voted to fire him, but the organization, which oversees the church, told church members their pastor had to stay. So Sunday members once again took things into their own hands.
First, they tried to get rid of their pastor. When that failed, they voted to get rid of their church affiliation with the Assemblies of God.
Last month church members at the Long Beach Assembly of God church tried to remove their pastor of two years, C. J. Johnson by locking him out of the sanctuary. When the Assemblies of God district office, the organization which oversees the church, offered them no help in removing the pastor, they decided to lock him out of the sanctuary.
Members of the congregation say under Johnson’s management the church bi-laws were uprooted, and church money was un-accounted for. So, for the past month members of the congregation have been trying to take over and re-establish the church. And after a month of legal battles they finally have.
While the building may be the same, nothing else about the church is. They now have new name, and a new pastor. The sign that used to read "Long Beach Assembly of God" is gone, and a temporary poster on the front door says "Welcome to Bethel Community Holiness Church, Inc."
Church members were able to make the change thanks to a loophole in the church deed, which gives the church trustees the right to manage the church how they see fit. The trustees gave the go-ahead to break away from the Assemblies of God organization and create their own entity.
Church officials say the congregation has shrunk a little. But they say they’ll welcome past and new church members with open arms. And they even say they would even like to see their former pastor C.J. Johnson come back to church.