Power Struggle at Jericho City Church in Landover

Year long dispute

Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011  |  Updated 10:39 AM EDT
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One of the most influential mega churches in Prince George's County is split over who will preside over the congregation.

Jackie Bensen

One of the most influential mega churches in Prince George's County is split over who will preside over the congregation.

The congregation of a Prince George's County mega church is divided, after apparent changes have pitted a popular pastor against the church leadership.

Tuesday night, a large crowd gathered at Jericho City of Praise church in Landover, demanding the return of Pastor Joel Peebles.

In what some have called a battle for the soul of the church, a rift started last year when church founder Betty Peebles passed away.  In her will, she reportedly placed the leadership of the church, which has a membership of thousands, in the hands of a six-member board, and not with her only reaming child, pastor Joel Peebles.

Pastor Joel Peebles, sued in Prince George's County court, seeking to wrest control away from the board.

But last week, the court ruled in favor of the board.  On Tuesday, when Peebles arrived at the church, he was reportedly locked out of the church.

An attorney for the church told Jackie Bensen said the locks on the door had been changed after a recent robbery, and that the pastor had not been locked out.

Nevertheless, the rift has tempers high at the church.  Members of the congregation who support Peebles rallied in his support at the church on Tuesday evening, and told News4 they will continue through the week.

Others seem upset about year-long drama, telling News4 that the dispute between Peebles and the board was "not godly."

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