Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Sr., accepted the official withdrawal of Rev. John J. Hunter from the A.M.E. Church late last month and has begun the Legal Separation Process compliant with Church Policy.
One of Bishop Kirkland’s duties as Chief Pastor of the 5th District of the A.M.E. Church is to oversee the spiritual leadership of local communities by installing competent, capable and compassionate pastors. It is also his duty to remove those pastors who have outgrown their assignments or who no longer service the congregants or community effectively.
After failed attempts to seek relief from the denomination to reverse Bishop Kirkland’s decision to assign new pastoral leadership to First A.M.E. Church—Los Angeles, the Rev. John Hunter has requested withdrawal from Ministerial Orders, and submitted His resignation effective immediately.
“His withdrawal means that he is no longer authorized to oversee worship services, conduct marriage ceremonies, baptize congregants, officiate at funerals or act in any official capacity as a representative of the A.M.E. Church,” said Bishop Kirkland.
The Book of Discipline that governs the AME Church mandates that when a person officially withdraws, he must surrender his credentials and the Bishop of said District must publically announce his separation.
While the A.M.E. Church and the Rev. Hunter may be ending their Ecclesiastical relationship, the lawsuits emanating from his storied tenure as pastor of First A.M.E. - Los Angeles continue to be litigated in the civil courts.
The lawsuits filed by the Rev. Hunter include claims against Bishop Kirkland, claims against the Rev. J. Edgar Boyd (current pastor of First A.M.E), claims against the entire congregation of Bethel A.M.E. Church - San Francisco; and a complaint filed by Pastor Boyd and the members of First A.M.E. against Hunter.
In accepting and approving the Rev. Hunter’s letter of withdrawal, Bishop Kirkland vowed promptly to legally dissolve the relationship according to the steps required by the AME Denomination.
“It is unfortunate that this matter has been a distraction to the witness and work of the A.M.E. Church and our efforts to serve those in need, but we in the Fifth District of the A.M.E. Church remain committed to our mission to ‘Rebuild the Walls’ of the home, the school and the church.
“In keeping with that mission, I will prayerfully act with dispatch to ensure that the spiritual well-being of our communities will not be compromised and that God’s Church and His people move forward, totally focused on Kingdom-building,” said Bishop Kirkland.