After a nearly four-year court battle, First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles (FAME) has prevailed in a lawsuit against its former pastor, the Rev. John Hunter; his wife, Denise Hunter; and several others for inappropriately separating and removing the public benefit assets from the control of FAME church, without the knowledge of the congregation.
The defendants dismantled the church-approved bylaws of the FAME Assistance Corporation (formerly known as FAME Renaissance) and FAME Housing, which included a 27-member Board of Directors and a stipulation that the active pastor of First AME Church of Los Angeles be the head of the non-profit corporations.
The ruling, in case number BC496747, was issued by Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney on May 25, and announced at a press conference in front of the church on June 2. The court document stated, “…the procedures used to amend the by-laws of FAME Assistance and FAME Housing were unfair, unreasonable and not performed in good faith. Therefore, the court determines that the amendments to the by-laws are void and of no effect. New officers and directors of FAME Assistance and FAME Housing will be selected in a manner consistent with the original by-laws of the organizations…”
The results of the church’s proposed judgment will be finalized in court on June 30, in preparation to take control of its assets.
FAME Pastor J. Edgar Boyd said, With Renewed Hope, FAME has risen and has begun to provide excellence for the kingdom of God.
Boyd added that “any funders who wish to provide resources to aid the church’s public benefit programs should wait until Pastor J. Edgar Boyd and First AME Church of Los Angeles are vested back in full control of these assets and that all persons wishing to collaborate or transact business with FAME Assistance Corporation or FAME Housing should be fully aware of all consequences associated with any transaction prior to First AME Church being fully back in control of these assets.”
Founded in 1872 by Biddy Mason and a band of believers, First AME Church of Los Angeles is the oldest church in the city founded by African Americans. FAME has established scores of outreach ministries; most were founded under the 30-year leadership of Rev. Dr. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray.
In 1992, after the Los Angeles civil unrest, FAME Church extended its social ministries. At the time of Rev. Murray’s retirement in 2004, FAME’s non-profit arm included an extensive low-income housing program; food and nutrition programs for the needy; a private school, a micro-lending and small business loan program, a transportation assistance program and a wide array of motivational programs, aimed at empowering the economically, academically, socially and legally disadvantaged communities of Los Angeles.
For a copy of Judge Mooney’s ruling and other information, visit famechurch.org.