Church of God countersues Barnes, others

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By David Brock/The Advocate-Messenger

DANVILLE – A minister from Shelbyville is one of a group being countersued by the Church of God of America Inc., which has a church in Shelbyville.

Justin Barnes, pastor of the church at 600 Bradshaw Street in Shelbyville, and others had filed suit last year to establish themselves as the leadership of the church.

The most recent lawsuit, filed June 11 in Boyle Circuit Court, accuses a group of disgruntled members of tarnishing the name and reputation of this Danville-headquartered church and its leader, Bishop and President Timothy Napier.

The complaint alleges the group, including two men who once served as pastors, published false and libelous statements without church authority last year.

Danville attorney Bill Erwin filed the suit on the church’s behalf, seeking both compensatory and punitive damages. Erwin also filed for a restraining order on behalf of the church and Napier to stop the defendants from continuing to meet and act on the church’s behalf.

It is the latest salvo in what has become a public and contentious schism in the church. Much of it stems from decisions about how to move forward after the church building on Martin Luther King Boulevard was destroyed by a fire Jan. 31, 2010. Church of God of America Inc., of which Napier is the registered officer with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office, eventually collected $918,000 in insurance money.

“What they have done has been harmful to both Bishop Napier and the church as they are trying to recover and build something new in this community,” Erwin said Wednesday.

Earlier this year, William Fay and Eric L. Barnes, both of Somerset, and Barnes’ son, Justin Barnes of Shelbyville, identified themselves as church elders and trustees in a lawsuit filed in Boyle Circuit Court on behalf of themselves and 27 church members.

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