Southern Acres Church Members Sue Lead Pastor

The Lexington Herald-Leader, whose November 22 article provided much of the source material for this post, has written a follow-up. Click here to read, “After lawsuit, more turmoil at Lexington church; Attorney expects pastor to be exonerated,” posted November 29.


Two members of Southern Acres Christian Church, Lexington, KY, have sued the lead pastor and his wife to block them from spending church money or making real estate transfers.

In their lawsuit, members James Keogh and Chad Martin accuse lead pastor Cameron McDonald of concentrating power and financial authority among himself, his wife, and one staff member, according to an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader that was picked up by the Associated Press and has run nationally, including in U.S. News and World Report and the Seattle Times.

The suit accuses McDonald of “a series of moves that dissolved a larger governing board, altered the organization’s operating rules and eliminated churchwide approval votes on changes,” according to the Herald-Leader.

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 20, alleges the church governing board now consists of McDonald, his wife Erica, and staff member Tim Jones, all of whom are on the church payroll, according to reports. Previous to this, the board consisted of five to nine people, none of whom were being paid by the church.

“Keogh and Martin want the court to throw out McDonald’s revised bylaws and the board McDonald put in place to make decisions about church policy and spending,” the Herald-Leader story said. The story continued:

“Because of the rules changes, McDonald cannot be removed without a unanimous vote of the board, excluding the senior pastor and his or her immediate family, the lawsuit said. Consequently, Jones would be the only person who could remove McDonald.

“In addition to tossing the current board and bylaws, the congregation members want the court to order a new election of a new board.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, Nov. 19, when McDonald started his sermon, a number of members spoke up and asked for answers about church finances, and some of them were told to leave, the newspaper reported.

McDonald became lead pastor of Southern Acres in 2006.


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