After a year of police calls and lawsuits, no-trespassing signs and changed locks, the dispute over whether the embattled pastor at Rock Hill’s Flint Hill Baptist Church should leave appears to be over, several church members said Thursday.
At a meeting Wednesday night, the Rev. Cedric Maddox – who filed a lawsuit this summer in an attempt to keep his job after dozens of church members tried to vote him out – told members he is resigning effective Dec. 29, people who attended the meeting told The Herald.
The dispute has divided the historically black church, resulting in an expensive and public legal battle. Police were called to the church on Flint Hill Street several times, and a judge appointed South Carolina’s former top law enforcement official to supervise court-ordered church meetings to see they happened in an “orderly” manner. Some services were held outdoors because the locks on the church had been changed.
Maddox himself called Wednesday’s meeting, and the resignation came after many parishioners raised grievances and again demanded that they be allowed to vote on his fate, said Mary Hall, a longtime Flint Hill member who wanted Maddox to leave.
“He stood right there and resigned and said Dec. 29 would be his last day,” she said.
Herb Hamilton, the lawyer for the group of deacons that Maddox sued, said Thursday he was told by church members that Maddox had resigned, but he has received no official documentation from Maddox or his lawyer. A resignation by Maddox could end the legal dispute, Hamilton said, as his clients’ goal from the beginning was to let church members vote on whether Maddox should stay.
Tim Nelson, a decades-long church member and one of the defendants in Maddox’s lawsuit, said he asked Maddox again in Wednesday’s meeting to put the issue of his employment to a vote of the church membership – but Maddox refused.
“After I asked about the vote, he said he was resigning,” Nelson said. “It’s over. He’s out. Finally.”
Votes earlier this year to fire Maddox – Flint Hill’s pastor since 2008 – were later determined by a judge to be in violation of church rules, which mandate that deacons must call for a vote. Maddox and deacons who wanted him to stay on had for almost a year avoided a proper membership vote.
Efforts to reach Maddox and his lawyer, Chuck Ormond, were unsuccessful Thursday. Reggie Lloyd, the former judge, U.S. attorney and State Law Enforcement Division chief appointed to oversee the dispute, also could not be reached.
Billy Hammett, the chairman of the church’s deacon board, who supported Maddox, declined to comment Thursday. Employees at the church also declined to comment.
Maddox’s resignation likely ends the controversy, but for the past year, this church – which survived arson during the civil rights era and helped raise superstar USC football player Jadeveon Clowney – was split to the point that its future was at risk.
Flint Hill for decades had been one of the largest black churches in York County, maintaining several ministries for the elderly and poor, but it had begun losing members and had held no revivals or other staples of Baptist programming.
Maddox’s resignation comes just days before Flint Hill hosts its annual ecumenical Christmas Eve meal and fellowship service with nine other churches across denominational and racial lines to benefit the city’s poor.
Alice Ann McClurkin, a lifelong church member who coordinates the holiday meal, said now that Maddox has resigned, the focus of the church can again be on God and service.