Ebenezer parishioners vote to oust pastor

There was to be no confusion. A bold sign, in fact, made it clear what the evening was about: "Vote Here for Removal of Clayton Howard.'
Jessica Cuffman
May 2, 2012


There was to be no confusion. A bold sign, in fact, made it clear what the evening was about: “Vote Here for Removal of Clayton Howard.”

Under a red-and-white tent on the front lawn, many parishioners of Ebenezer Baptist Church cast their ballots Friday evening to remove their pastor.

In a 93-2 vote, the majority called for the Rev. Clayton Howard to step down from the pulpit.

They also unanimously agreed to reinstate four members of the church who had been excised seven weeks ago.

In the past few months, the church has been divided.

Howard and head church trustee Thanda Maceo called for the congregation to vote to remove Nora Moneghan, Renee and Josiah Brown, and Daryl Murphy at a March 8 church meeting.

The four members had openly opposed Howard’s leadership, as well as his plans for a $1.25 million expansion.

Suspicious of Howard’s motives, they had called police, written letters to the bank, consulted an attorney and even hired private investigators.

While there were more than just four people trying to stop the expansion, Howard and Maceo declared those four members excised after the March vote.

Church leaders refused to let them return, even calling police to have them arrested for criminal trespassing when they attended service one Sunday.

For the past several weeks, the “4” have been hosting their own services.

But they also organized to remove Howard from his position in the church.

With guidance from an attorney, the scriptures, church by-laws and the “laws of the land,” they made sure they had everything in order, Renee Brown said.

They sent 238 letters, reaching every church member, to notify members about Friday’s vote.

Parishioners who have supported the “4” had to set up a tent on the church’s front lawn Friday evening — Howard and other church officials refused to let them use the fellowship hall.

When he saw a faction of his congregation outside the church, Howard protested, witnesses said.

He drove his SUV onto the lawn, tried to pull up the tent stakes and ordered everyone off the property, Brown said.

Howard had arrived Friday at the church to celebrate his three-year anniversary as pastor at Ebenezer.

Instead, he arrived to see a great, big sign calling for his removal.

When police arrived to settle Friday’s dispute, they decided church members — except for the “4” — had every right to be on the property.

So at 6 p.m. the first ballot was cast.

During an hour of voting, the parishioners’ locations marked a clear divide.

Those outside the church were casting votes for Howard’s removal. Those inside the church celebrated his anniversary.

Briefly, Howard watched from the parking lot. But he was nowhere to be found when the votes were tallied. He did not return multiple calls seeking comment Friday night.

Just what will happen in the next few days remains to be seen.

“I don’t know what he’ll do, but we’ll stand on our own goodness and God’s righteousness,” Brown said. “Because we don’t have any righteousness.

“The church is for God’s worship and not a man’s worship,” she said. “Pastor Howard needs to find another building if he wants worship for himself.”



When you are asked to leave, I guess you go.  But does that constitute the majority of the voting members of the church?  They sent out 238 letters.  Are there 238 members?  That means that not even half the congregation voted, right?  That's only 39% of the 238 letters that went out.  That isn't a majority.  

For the sake of that church, I hope he leaves, but I doubt he will.  So what happens next? 


95 eligible voters out of a 238 voting  is many more than most government elections. Maybe the rest had no opionion. It sounds like they research church law and he has no choice. Bravo to these parishioners for consulting an attorney, doing things the "right way" and taking back member ownership of their church. 



I think Clayton should just move on.   If the members that were in the church celebrating his three year anniversary had stepped outside and cast their vote that would have definitely settled this but by not voting  was a vote against him.  I have to say that if what I have heard from members is accurate this is a broken congregation.  It is also very embarrassing to the black community.  When Rev. Brown was there this was a very honorable place to worship.  He is a honorable man and Ebenezer really needs him.  So sad he had to retire.  This type of behavior can have you questioning the church.  I urge the members to restore the glory and respect to Ebenezer.

Most Wanted

I've known Renee Brown for many years.  She's a good woman.  Good luck and God Speed in your endeavor!

working man

Voting a priceless freedom!!!


Satan is at work trying to destroy churches. Whatever the situation, it should have been handled privately without all the publicity. We all face legal situatuions at one time or another but in the matter of the church it should have been done discreetly. To me the tent and the sign were going overboard. That was just more money wasted that culd have gone to a better cause. Was God pleased with the way it was handled? That is the question you have to ask yourself.


newcreation - I think the article stated that the pastor refused to allow the group to use the fellowship hall, so I think the tent and sign was perfectly legit in that case.  it would appear that the pastor new what the result would be and didn't want it in the church.  Don't see that this is something the congregation had much control over.  The tent and sign out in the open was the fault of the pastor.  He apparently wasn't thinking again.

Captain Gutz


Was God pleased with the way it was handled?

Yes he was, but his wife aint too happy about it.


My heart was broken for the "4" members of this church when I read they were excised from their place of worship and arrested for tresspassing after voicing their concerns over this proposed expansion.  It makes clear sense NOT to expand in such a way that the church members are put into such a financially strapped position.  I am not a member of this church; however, I am proud to be a member of the same community as those who have stood up for what they believe in as these parishoners have.   Something tells me this isn't over.  May this church once again find unity and may peace be with them all. 


NewCreation, no need to worry, as Satan doesn't exist. Like God, he was invented by man to explain things that we didn't understand 3000 years ago. We now know that Zeus doesn't ride a chariot across the sky to change night into day, so the Norse/Greek/Roman gods are also equally obsolete.

Even if we allow ourselves to believe that God exists (and I don't believe that he does, because extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which clearly isn't there), the very fact that God doesn't get involved in huge events like worldwide famine/starvation and tsunamis, tells us that he isn't going to waste a lot of time pondering the events at Ebenezer.


freethinker1, I am saddened to see that you don't beleive in GOD, He is real and alive and He is and does wonderful things. Maybe your eyes have been blinded the the Greatness of His Glory and His Grace. I am not and have been transformed into a new creation as a result of His Love. If you would read the bible you would learn that The Word says, there will always be the poor and the unfortunate. It doesn't mean God doesn't exist or he has turned His back on anyone, sometimes God allows things to happen for a greater reason, something we can't understand. I will pray for you. 

yea right

i say let them expand..and when it FAILS put it on YOUTUBE..saying how a pastor and a few power hungry people failed..haha what a joke of a church..banned from entering wow..dont care bout the race or type of church just the fact that it is a church..and they do this crap..when a preacher thinks he has power like this it is time to move on..cause this is what creates a CULT..remember Jones town and Waco..ect...


This situation is a mess and the person I hate it for the most is Pastor Curtis Brown who was such a great pastor but more importantly a greater person. He should not have to experience anything of this nature. It doesn't matter whose side you are on I know God is not pleased with any of this behavior. If Pastor Howard falsified his past history shame on him but also shame on the comittee that selected him because evidently they did not do their due diligence to properly check out his past. With today's technology it is not very difficult to find out anything about a person. Again I am saddened for Pastor Curtis Brown because he is such a fine man and he certainly deserves better after serving Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Sandusky community for so long. And in closing to everyone involved whether it be positive or negative remember what the bible says in Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." So if you bring bad to the table expect bad to come your way but if you are coming in joy and peace expect joy and peace!

Man of the Republic

What a shame to see a work of the Lord stifled by human interference. Surely Ichabod is written over their door, for the glory of the Lord has departed.


This is a wise decision considering our current national economic condition where people are tithing much less.  It makes no sense to expand a church under current economic conditions.  Churches are downsizing or going bankrupt in frightening numbers.

Edwin Ison

 I've seen it time after time in a Church setting.... it is so easy to justify any position or stance, just say "God spoke to me,  I am right".

Becomes a little sketchy when opposing sides have different "visions".

I keep my family away from all Churches, we have Church at home :)


Did I miss the part in the Bible where it says that people are supposed to vote on a pastor? Either I missed that scripture or that concept is totally not Biblical. A pastor is a calling from God, not a position voted on by people. When a pastor is operating under the votes of people, he will make decisions that are pleasing to them, not God. The problem with man made religion is that it is also man operated religion. The pastor is the only God called position in the church, yet many religions have different boards and deacons micromanaging all the decisions the pastor is allowed to make. Pastors in these churches are too afraid of losing their pay check if they get voted out by the congregation so they answer to the people, not God!

The pastor at this church sounds like he is a mess and was a mess from the start. But honestly, the group opposing him sounds like a hot mess too! Did God direct this group to put that huge sign on that tent in the churches yard? And let me guess, did God call the register to notify them about this taking place just like He called them to come to this groups good friday service?

God is gonna show up and do some house cleaning and I wouldnt want to be anywhere near that church when He does. Its time for these so called "christains" on both sides of this situation to WAKE UP! Stop turning to man made church docterines and lawyers and turn to Gods Word...you all are in error!

yea right

Organized Relegion is the ROOT of All WARS