United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky
PASTOR BARRY L. GINYARD, SR., PLAINTIFF
CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST KENTUCKY FIRST JURISDICTION, INC., et al., DEFENDANTS
Decided: March 13, 2014
For Pastor Barry L. Ginyard, Sr., Plaintiff: William Yesowitch, LEAD ATTORNEY, Barber, Banaszynski & Hiatt, P.S.C., Louisville, KY.
For Church of God in Christ Kentucky First Jurisdiction, Inc., Moore Temple Church of God in Christ, Dwight L. Haygood, Sr., Individually and in his Corporate Capacity as President of Moore Temple Church of God in Christ and President of Church of God in Christ Kentucky First Jurisdiction, Inc., Defendants: Byron E. Leet, Rachel K. Mulloy, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP - Louisville, Louisville, KY.
For Church of God in Christ, Inc., Defendant: Kathleen M.W. Schoen, Mark W. Dobbins, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Tilford, Dobbins, Alexander, PLLC, Louisville, KY.
John G. Heyburn II, United States District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Pastor Barry Ginyard, was the minister at a local Church of God church. The congregation essentially terminated him from his position as pastor. Ginyard appears to have been successful on an appeal through church hierarchy. However, he did not receive a new trial or the other relief ordered by the church appellate body. Afterwards, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit alleging violations of due process, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unjust termination. This case turns on whether federal courts should adjudicate cases concerning internal church ecclesiastical controversies. The Court agrees with Defendants' arguments and for the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that in these circumstances it should not.
The Church of God in Christ, Inc. (the " Church of God" ) is a Pentecostal Holiness Christian denomination. The national headquarters and principle offices of the church are located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Church of God has an established hierarchical structure. Bishops, also known as " Jurisdictional Bishops," are appointed to Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions of the Church. Local churches are registered by the Jurisdictional Bishop and pastors of local churches are appointed by the Jurisdictional Bishop. The local church is the basic unit of the structural organization of the Church of God. A local church may establish its own constitution and by-laws.
Plaintiff, Barry L. Ginyard, Sr., was formerly a pastor of Defendant Moore Temple Church of God in Christ (the " Moore Temple" ). The Moore Temple is within the jurisdiction of Defendant Church of God in Christ Kentucky First Jurisdiction, Inc. Defendant, Dwight L. Haygood, Sr., is the Regional Jurisdictional Bishop for Church of God in Christ Kentucky First Jurisdiction, Inc.
Plaintiff assumed the pastoral duties of the Moore Temple in 2009. Three years later, members of the Moore Temple advised Bishop Haygood that Ginyard had exhibited " an array of behavior not consistent with the official manual of the Church of God in Christ." The congregation conducted a jurisdictional trial using the rules of the Official Manual of the Church of God. At the trial, the tribunal found Ginyard guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, and conduct unbecoming of a minister. The tribunal removed Ginyard from office and Plaintiff received his last paycheck on February 5, 2012.
Plaintiff filed an appeal with the General Council of Pastors and Elders Judicial Review Committee/Appeals Court, raising issues of procedural errors. The appeals court found procedural irregularities and errors and (1) remanded the case to the local Jurisdictional Council for a new trial within ninety (90) days, unless an appeal to the Judiciary Board is filed; (2) ordered that Ginyard be paid his salary; (3) ordered that ...