CHICAGO (CN) – The Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago claims former Circuit Judge David Donnersburger violated its leaders’ First Amendment rights by dictating how they should run church elections.
Rev. Dwight Wesley and the church board of trustees filed suit in Federal Court, claiming the retired judge capitulated to the demands of disgruntled members and forced the church to hold an election for new directors. He allegedly allowed non-members to vote.
The order came in response to a split between two factions of the church, the lawsuit claims. Members of the defendant group allegedly disrupted a Sunday service to demand an election, requiring plaintiffs to call the police. The church obeyed the court ordered and held the election, but challenged Donnersberger’s “sole discretion and control in conducting the election.”
The church is also suing Chapter One Bank for allegedly freezing more than $50,000 in a church account and refusing to release the money to Wesley or church trustees.