Crossway Christian Center members have seen much tumult after losing their spiritual leader of the past 34 years amid allegations of wrongdoing.
Now they have been locked out of their house of worship pending a court hearing between the congregation and the New York District office of the Assemblies of God, who are trying to grab the church property.
The congregation of the Crossway Christian Center, located at 2730 Bruckner Boulevard, has officially voted to disaffiliate themselves from the Assemblies of God in a 52 to 0 vote taken on Sunday, May 30. The vote was supposed to take place inside the church, but for the past two Sundays the congregation had to hold its service out on the sidewalk on Balcom Avenue because Assemblies of God placed locks on the gates to the worship hall.
A letter signed by Assemblies of God New York district superintendent Duane Durst was posted to the church’s gate stating that there will be no church service. E-mails were sent to members stating that the Sunday, May 30 and Sunday, June 6 worship services had been canceled.
The vote on whether to disaffiliate or to continue affiliation was court ordered by Bronx Supreme Court Judge Patricia Williams after Assemblies of God laid claim to the church property under a clause in a 30-year-old document from when the congregation borrowed money to build the church.
In a hearing on Monday, June 7, Judge Williams ordered Durst and others to explain their actions in an upcoming hearing slated for Monday, June 21.
“We know that Judge Williams will grant us our amendment to the articles of incorporation and she will confirm the results of the vote we had, despite the lockout,” said Miguel Santiago, a 17-year member of the church who is also the congregation’s lawyer and their chief counsel on this case.
“We know that she will direct Durst to give us the key to God’s house. We hold the deed to Crossway Christian Center.”
As part of the original agreement, ownership of the Crossway Christian Center would revert back to Assemblies of God if its pastor was removed for wrongdoing. Pastor Mark Gregori, who founded the church, was removed in December 2009. The land grab has pitted the congregation against Assemblies of God, an organization they have been affiliated with since its founding in 1976.
The congregation has countered that since there is no mortgage on the property, the members of the congregation collectively own the property.
“The reversionary clause in the articles of incorportation are onerous, oppressive, and have no basis in the law,” Santiago said. “It is only designed to supress the will of the people.”
Assemblies of God New York District Office had no comment. The congregaton plans to continue to hold prayer services in front of the entrance to the church until they are granted access.
“To put locks on the gate of a church preventing people from worshiping is beyond my mind,” said Leonard Levy, who attened the June 6 service.
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.