Attempts to settle a lawsuit against leaders of Shiloh Baptist Church in York have not succeeded but will continue, lawyers say.
In June, a group of 10 members sued the church pastor, the Rev. Jasmin Sculark, and several church leaders, saying they violated church bylaws in borrowing $635,000 to buy a church on the west side of the city, using the church property as collateral.
According to church bylaws, the trustee board cannot spend more than $500 without approval of the church body.
The plaintiffs allege that Sculark took an "illegal" vote in January 2007 to purchase the Bethany United Church of Christ building, 740 W. Locust St., without ensuring that those voting were Shiloh members, according to the lawsuit.
Initially, Sculark said Shiloh would become one church with two campuses. But the 1,200-member congregation currently holds worship and activities only at the larger church on Locust Street and rents the building on Pershing Avenue to another congregation, Bethlehem Temple Pentecostal Church Inc.
The plaintiffs want to return to the Pershing Avenue building, said their attorney, Clarence E. Allen of York.
"We're saying it's not fair for the people who sweated and struggled to pay off the mortgage (on that building) who can no longer worship there," he said.
In a court filing last month, the plaintiffs say the church leaders continue to violate the by-laws and locked the doors of the Pershing Avenue building so that members couldn't get in.
They ask the court to order Sculark and the deacons to allow them to worship on Pershing again, halt any attempts to renegotiate or sell the mortgage on the building and to conduct an audit of church financial records.
Sculark did not respond to requests for comment.
Attorney Sarah Buhite, who represents the defendants, said that, while the church leadership initially intended to hold worship services at both church buildings, the arrangement required too much running around.
The locks were changed at the Pershing Avenue church after someone broke in during the summer, she said.
"It's not that (the plaintiffs) are locked out or anything like that. The other group has a lease, and they're meeting at their appointed time," Buhite said.
She has asked the judge to dismiss the case because the plaintiffs don't have the legal right to sue under Pennsylvania's nonprofit law, among other reasons. Buhite also said the defendants verified and tracked the membership of Shiloh congregants present at the 2007 church meeting in question.
"We're looking forward to working it out," Buhite said. "We're still talking."
In other religion news around the region:
Hats off in Shiloh: The youth of Shiloh Lutheran Church in Dover Township are organizing a Christmas gift drive for foster teenagers ages 12 to 17 in the York area.
They're collecting mall, Target or Walmart gift cards, hats, gloves, sleds, art supplies, make up, Axe body spray, jewelry and new shirts in sizes medium through extra large.
To donate, call 764-3275 or drop off the items at Shiloh Lutheran, 2201 Church Road, between 9 a.m. and noon daily.
Outreach at mission: The York Rescue Mission expects up to 1,600 people to attend its Christmas outreach program for low-income families at the York Expo Center's Memorial Hall East 10 a.m. Dec. 24 (doors open at 8:30 a.m.).
For children, organizers will distribute gifts and show a 30-minute Christmas video by the Veggie Tales.
The Rescue Mission's annual Christmas Eve dinner is at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 24 at the mission, 367 W. Market St.
New Southern Baptists: Living Faith Evangelical Church in Littlestown has joined the Keystone Baptist Association of Churches, which is the regional arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Rev. Larry Douthwaite leads the congregation, and the church is at 1490 Frederick Pike. For details, call 359-9837.
Shiloh Baptist Church, sbcyork.org