JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4JAX I-TEAM has an update on the legal battle between Celebration Church and its former pastors, Stovall and Kerri Weems.
There was a court hearing Thursday regarding the church’s attempt to evict the Weemses from their home because they resigned and are no longer affiliated with Celebration.
There were no major decisions in court, but the judge asked the church’s attorney to work on a proposed order related to discovery material and discuss it with the pastors’ attorneys then they’ll go from there.
Celebration Church owns the property on Black Hammond Island in Duval County where Stovall and Kerri Weems live, so its argument is, since they’ve resigned, they can’t live on church property. But, the Weemses argue, this was part of a compensation and retirement package and they shouldn’t have to leave.
Celebration served the Weemses with eviction notices but says the couple refuses to leave the home. The couple accuses the board of trustees of staging a “coup” to push them out.
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The Weemses also accuse a board member of financial misconduct and say that whenever that person was confronted, that’s when this escalated. The church filed a response, accusing Stovall Weems of financial misconduct and spiritual and emotional abuse. It also says he misused government PPP money, which was designed for COVID-19 relief. Stovall Weems has repeatedly denied that allegation and has encouraged a financial audit.
The couple founded Celebration in 1998, and it’s grown to become one of the biggest churches in Jacksonville, with several campuses. They’re moving on and launched Stovall Weems Ministries. They’ve been holding services at a building in Mandarin.
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Celebration Church has been under new leadership since 2021. Pastor Tim Timberlake was installed to succeed Weems so that Weems could focus on missions and other initiatives, prior to Weems’ suspension and eventual resignation in April.