In “Pastor on a bully pulpit at 59th Street Baptist Church?,” Dan Geringer describes a Philadelphia church “torn apart by a nasty battle over its controversial fire-and-brimstone pastor” — one Rev. Dr. Daly Barnes, Jr., “who’s been accused of terrorizing his wife at home and cursing her out in the church,” and was reportedly involved in “a September 2010 domestic disturbance at his Upper Merion home that led to his arrest” and charges of “making terroristic threats, obstruction and harassment … as well as disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.”
There are also allegations of embezzlement, but in a game of he-said, she-said, it’s difficult to know who, if anyone, has been “play[ing] fast and loose with thousands of dollars of church funds.”
After a “committee of deacons and church trustees” voted to kick Barnes off his pulpit, those same church admins were sacked, while Barnes remains in control, kicking up a fuss about a local weekly campaigning to oust him, accusing the editor of using “Black History Month to tear down a black pastor,” and complaining about the front-page attention he’s getting while news of the death of Whitney Houston is relegated to the back page. (Uh, maybe because the Westside Weekly is a local paper, more concerned with local issues, Doc?)
If talk of an attempted murder-suicide, a restraining order , a psychiatric evaluation and accusations of lesbianism (by Barnes against his wife, according to one church member who says she heard a “ruckus” between the two) weren’t enough to trip our ConBab-O-Meter, his apparent separation from his wife certainly would.
There isn’t a lot of information out there on Daly Barnes, save for a few mentions in small, local, African-American-oriented papers — but what is out there is… something.
In the Westside Weekly (Jan. 27 – Feb. 2, 2012), editor/publisher Tyree Johnson writes in “Pastor To Wife: ‘I’ll get a gun and it’ll be a murder suicide.’ Pastor to Congregation, Wife Statement: ‘Not important’”:
… During his nearly two years since assuming the pulpit at Fifty Ninth Street Baptist Church, the Rev. Barnes has threatened to “get a gun” to kill his wife and himself, get arrested by Upper Merion police and plead guilty to disorderly conduct stemming from threatening his wife.
Meanwhile, Rev. Barnes, 54, has managed to fire the deacons and trustees who recruited him and changed the locks on the church to keep them out.
He has gotten into heated arguments with some of the men he calls “renegade deacons,” including a fist fight with one deacon who accused him of sending inappropriate text messages to his wife. …
In an interview in his church office, Rev. Barnes shrugged off the church strife that has pitted worshipper against worshipper as “a normal transition” for a new pastor.
And, as for what he told the congregation about his arrest, disorderly conviction and statements to police by his wife that he wanted to kill her and himself, Rev. Barnes said he felt it was “not important.” …
That ballsy piece is accompanied by an even ballsier sidebar: “How To Get Rid Of Your Pastor Before He Gets Rid Of You.”
A week later, one of Zion Baptist’s deacons wrote a letter in defense of Barnes, admitting that the “events” Johnson reported “are not inaccurate,” but “do not paint a true picture” of Barnes. This was followed by another op/ed from Johnson (now sounding a bit like a preacher himself, and in danger of diving headfirst into The Pit of Purple Prose), “From Zion, Fifty-Ninth Street Baptist WAS WARNED! He Will Destroy Your Church!” (capitalized, red emphasis in the headline as in the original), repeating earlier allegations, this time prefaced by:
A few months before the 59th Street Baptist Church congregation installed the Rev. Dr. Daly Barnes, Jr., as the $80,000-a-year-plus pastor of their church, the deacons received a 4-page, handwritten letter from a woman named, “Mrs. Henry.”
She wrote: “If by any means you intend to have Daly Barnes pasture your church, you might as well close the doors and kiss your church goodbye.” …
Now, nearly two years later, that woman’s letter haunts the soul of many in the congregation that is now divided with some still supporting this troubled man of the cloth. …
This is followed by a blurb about Barnes barring both a local Girl Scout troop “and a youth choir from meeting in the church building” because “[s]ome of the Girl Scouts’ parents’ signatures were listed on the ’85 Concerned Members’ petition calling for a congregational vote to dismiss or retain Rev. Barnes.” (There’s also an announcement about the “Concerned Members” planning a candlelight vigil, which they did indeed hold.)
Finally, there’s this, from the May 10, 2009, issue of the Philadelphia Tribune (which appears to be an extremely conservative local), “Pastor at Zion Baptist resigns”:
The Rev. Daly Barnes Jr. tendered his letter of resignation at Zion Baptist Church after seven years of service to the church.
Sources in the congregation alleged he resigned because of “inappropriate behavior” but no official reason was provided. …
Donald “Ducky” Birts, who has been at the church for 40 years, offered his thoughts as to why Barnes resigned.
“I think it was personal problems,” Birts said. “The church is subject to certain rules and regulations.”
He also shared his views on Barnes’ style in the pulpit and likened it to that if Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House. …
(Re T.D. Jakes: Ugh.)
Our take: It’s not up to us to determine what’s fact and what’s rumor. All we know is that we have a very, very strong feeling this will not be the last we’ve heard of the Rev. Dr. Daly Barnes, Jr. And that feeling tells us that, in the end, the “domestic disturbance” incident is going to end up looking like child’s play.
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