Widow of Jacksonville pastor suing church board

Widow of Pastor R.J. Washington says church leaders tried to expel her

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The widow of Jacksonville Pastor Rodney "R.J." Washington, who died of cancer in May 2017, is now suing the church board.

Washington was the pastor of the megachurch Titus Harvest Dome Spectrum Church for 27 years. He grew his ministry from a couple of people into a broadcast that previously aired Sunday mornings on WJXT.

His widow, April Washington, said within three days of her husband's death, newly appointed church leaders tried to oust her from the church that she and her husband started.

"The church has been devastated behind the loss," Washington told News4Jax on Friday. "You can see I am very emotional right now. However, I know that God will get me through it. But I would love to see the church come back together, and that's what I'm here for, fighting for the church."

Washington said she hasn't had time to grieve after her husband's death because the church's new leaders tried to kick her out of her own church.

"Unfortunately, this is a story of greed and deceit and breaches of trust. It’s a story of opportunists who have come in to take advantage of a grieving widow, and they sought to seize and pillage assets of a church that belongs to this community," said Bacardi Jackson, one of the attorneys representing Washington. "We are hopeful that we can help to restore that, and we'll continue fighting until we can."

Sitting alongside her attorneys, Washington explained why she filed a lawsuit in November against the church's board.

According to Washington, the new leadership tried to expel her from her role as the church's co-founder. She said she and her husband "brought (the church) from zero to more than 3,000 members."

Washington said they "accumulated properties valuing millions of dollars," which she's owed. 

"This happened all within six months of his death," said Marwan Porter, another attorney representing Washington. "Fortunately, April is very strong and she is not going to sit back and watch what her family has built be taken from her."

On Friday, News4Jax spoke by phone with the church's spokesperson, who said the church's board has "no comment" at this time.