Members of historic Bakersfield church: Pastor let us vote

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Members of St John's Missionary Baptist Church filled the hallways outside civil court Tuesday, many showing their support for a hearing to decide their church's future.

Members of one of Bakersfield's most historic churches say their leader is pointing them in the wrong direction, and they want him out.

Inside the standing-room only hearing, witnesses from both sides spoke about the conduct of their leader, Pastor Antonio Alfred.

In 2008, Alfred left a job at NASA to assume leadership at St. John's. Members said instead of sending the church into orbit, his leadership style set the church on a course for a crash landing.

Holly Mitchell, a church member of 25 years, said signs of money mismanagement started to surface shortly after Alfred assumed leadership.

Problems also surfaced with utility bills, with a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. bill delinquent thousands of dollars, Mitchell said.

Alfred chose not to take the stand during the six hours of proceedings.

Civil court Commissioner Linda Etienne heard closing arguments Tuesday afternoon. She expects to make her ruling sometime next week.