JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Editor's Note: Click here for more from the Florida Times-Union)
Celebration Church founder Stovall Weems has resigned from the Jacksonville megachurch “I founded and poured my life into,” saying the choice was “absolutely necessary if I am to continue to honor the Lord and be true to what I believe.”
Weems announced his departure over Instagram Monday night, posting a letter dated Friday that told the 12,000-member church’s board of trustees he was leaving immediately.
“I shall not and cannot be legally connected to any church in which the leadership abandons the clear biblical principles and scriptural qualifications” for governance and oversight, the letter said.
Weems and his wife, Kerri, have been locked in a court fight with the board over trustees’ decision to suspend him because of suggestions of financial irregularities.
The resignation “does not and will not affect … any claims that have or may be filed by me or Kerri Weems,” the letter said.
That apparently refers to the suit’s request to recover back pay since his suspension began in January, but it’s not clear what other claims might be lodged.
Since its founding in 1998 and the development of satellite operations around the country and overseas, the church had spun off nonprofit arms to advance its missions. It’s unknown whether Weems might claim interests related to those as well.
A hearing on the Weemses’ lawsuit was already scheduled for May 20.
The resignation letter said Weems and his family would “continue our ministry elsewhere, placing ourselves under the proper accountability and oversight of a council of apostolic pastors and elders in our city.”
On Instagram, Weems posted a note from himself and his wife telling followers “we love you and miss you very much.
“We look forward to seeing many of you since we will remain in Jacksonville where we will continue to pastor, preach and minister God’s Word,” said the message. “…Keep watching this space because in the coming days we will begin announcing details about what ‘the new’ looks like for us.”