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Hostile Takeover of a Church

HONOLULU (CN) - A Honolulu church "cult" illegally took over $1 million in property and assets of a shrinking Baptist congregation, the takeover target claims in court.

Windward Christian Church and its employee/parishioner Alan Brown sued One Love Ministries, its founder and pastor David Tipton, Bob Hamilton and Kalo Television, in Oahu First Circuit Court.

Brown, who worked for Windward as a custodian, claims he made numerous reports to Hawaii's attorney general over the years that One Love was violating state law H.R.S. 414-201 in its attempted "merger and seizure of WCC's assets."

He claims that his complaints resulted in four letters from the attorney general to One Love 2011, revoking Windward's initial consent to the merger, but that One Love went ahead anyway.

Plaintiff Windward was founded in 1957 through the American Baptist Convention, but membership in its congregation dwindled over the years.

This made their assets a prime target for takeover. The defendants, operating out of downtown, also sought Windward's eastside property because it had a chapel, which One Love lacked, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint states: "(O)ver the years, WCC's congregation has dwindled to fewer than 30 members; this decrease in the church member population made WCC a good 'takeover target' for One Love, a wealthy corporation that intended to unjustly enrich itself and its co-conspirators, including the other named defendants, by converting the assets of WCC to the economic benefit of defendants and changing the church mission to one designed for the economic benefits of the co-conspirators."

One Love ministry was incorporated in 2004 and had an established following by 2006.

The plaintiffs call One Love is "a so-called 'Purpose Driven' corporation falsely engaging in teaching ultra fundamentalist doctrine to advance its political agenda and is the corporation behind the attempted hostile takeover of WCC."

They claim defendant Kalo TV was a "shell" and a "façade corporation" created by defendants Hamilton and Tipton to "deceive Christians and to defraud taxpayers and is used to prey on the innocent who donate money to defendants that unjustly enrich defendants."

The plaintiffs called the acquisition a "cash cow" for the defendants that will make it impossible for the WCC congregation to survive: "The merger of the two churches was a conspiracy to transfer the assets of WCC to defendant, including over $1 million in real property which WCC owned for the benefit of WCC," according to the complaint.

Brown claims that in retaliation for his complaints, One Love sent him a "perfidious letter" accusing him of "improprieties," firing him and ordering him his family to "vacate the premises."

The defendants did not respond to a request for comment.

The plaintiffs seek disgorgement, an injunction, return of assets, and damages for interference with prospective economic advantage, fraud, conspiracy, conversion, unjust enrichment, whistleblower violations and wrongful termination.

They are represented by William Sink.

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