Annexes Baltimore parish he built
The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG)’s new policy of taking over the assets and buildings of its parishes from the “franchise pastors’’ in the U.S. has triggered a major crisis with a senior pastor, Tola Odutola, of RCCG Baltimore, North America, calling it quits and “annexing’’ the parish he built.
He rejected the takeover of assets and buildings of the parish he built with his sweat and resources and “ceding’’ only liabilities as contained in a 38-page agreement foisted on the pastors which most of them refused to sign.
Odutola , the Regional Pastor, said in a widely circulated video in the social media :“In the Common purpose 38-page agreement, they (RCCG) we should hand over all the assets and buildings and not the liabilities. And I say why should I hand over $10 million of assets and say $4 million of liabilities belong to me? Who does that?
“Is it my father’s business? People said No. Later they came up with a three-page agreement for us to sign. We showed it to our lawyers and one of them said slavery ended a long time ago.
“It is unbelievable that a Christian drew up the agreement. When I saw it, I asked what happened to the other 35 pages. At that time trust has been lost.’’
With his resignation, Jesus House Baltimore, U.S. is no longer under RCCG and there are indications that some of the parishes he helped to build without funding from Nigeria may follow suit.
In the U.S, churches are independent legal entities and are regarded as charities with their books are open to government scrutiny annually.
Odutola, a chartered accountant at Peat Marwick, KPMG in Nigeria, was Treasury Controller and Business Development Manager at DHL before he received the call into full-time ministry as a pastor.
On the steps he took in arriving at quitting, Odutola said: “I went to God in prayer and for me it was no go area. I can’t sign the document and loose my soul.
“Because I felt if I signed the agreement it is out of my conscience and I can’t. So I refused to sign.’’
He said contrary to the law in U.S. where churches operate as independent entities and charity, the RCCG authorities in Nigeria asked them to merge all parishes in North America to circumvent the law and evade paying tax.
“There is a proposal to merge all churches in North America to drop their tax exemption numbers and come under one tax identity.
“Many of us rejected the idea because if any of the churches (parishes) does something wrong and they want to sue, they will sue everybody,’’ Odutola stressed.
On what triggered his final exit, the former RCCG pastor recalled that a year ago the headquarter church in Nigeria wrote a letter to them as pastors in U.S. that if they had refused to sign they should consider themselves as not part of the church any longer.
“And I said that is okay. In April this year I resigned from the RCCG, North America and RCCG all over the world.
“I have served this church for 30 years with nobody to say you have done well. But I know God is a rewarder; I will not throw stones because I have built this church for 30 years.’’
To his new congregants, Odutola gave a word of assurance: “Your destiny, my destiny is in the hands of God and not in the hands of any man.
“Today is our first Sunday service as an independent church, not under RCCG organization.
“I know there will be many people who may be disappointed by my decision but I apologise. I know I will be demonized in the social media. I want to focus on the job the Lord has given me. I have made up my mind I will not throw stones. We are going to move on with life.’’
Persecondnews recalls that Odutola is not the first senior pastor to resign from the church as it has recorded many of such resignations years back.
Pastor Tunde Bakare, founder of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tony Rapu and Pastor Itua Ighodalo and others had left the church.
In 2013, Pastor Bayo Akijiyan, an architect, quit the church alleging unfair deal and went ahead to inaugurate his own ministry at Ipaja, a Lagos suburb. Pastor Sola Fola-Alade also resigned from the RCCG Trinity House Church in the UK which he led for over 10 years to establish his own called Liberty House a few years ago.
Also, Pastor Victor Wellington also left in 2018.Wellington was the National Coordinator of the RCCG in France with about 25 churches under him before he pulled out of the church early in the year 2018 citing systemic rot in the church.
Jim Obaze’s of the then Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria had recommended how pastors’ welfare can be addressed.
In RCCG today, the branches are feeding the headquarters because many of the churches in the RCCG are weak. The church allows the parishes to be largely independent so they can take care of their basic needs instead of being perpetually tied to the headquarters.
Odutola was the founding chairman of the Redeemer’s Leadership Institute , the leadership arm of the Redeemed Christian Church of God North America (RCCGNA) which provides continuous training for religious leaders worldwide. He is the Chairman of Alpha Leadership Conference (ALC), an organization charged with promoting and teaching leadership skills to all people of all nations.
He consults, mentors and coaches pastors, speaks regularly at leadership conferences, churches, corporations, minister’s conferences, seminars and other leadership development opportunities”.
WATCH VIDEO BELOW