Joel Peebles, son of the late Apostle Betty Peebles and Bishop James R. Peebles, lost his court battle over the right to the church and its entities after a Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge ruled that the church rightfully belonged to its board of trustees.

Judge Dwight Jackson ruled that Gloria Magruder, Denise Killen, Clarence Jackson, Dorothy Williams and Clifford Boswell constituted the board of trustees and the rightful people in charge of Jericho’s finances.

He also issued a permanent injunction barring Peebles and his co-defendant, William Meadows, from “interfering with the day to day operations or collection of tithes, offerings or any other monies” of Jericho while forcing the two men to transfer all rights to the board including any money they collected at or on behalf of Jericho.

The decision brought an end to a bitter fight that lasted for nearly a year. Jericho, unlike many of the area’s other mega churches managed to survive the economic downturn with its diversity in economic engines. The church runs Jericho Christian Academy, a private school with students from pre-K through the sixth grade; a bible college; Jericho Residences, a luxury community for senior citizens and sells parking spaces to fans attending Washington Redskins home games.

The two sides made an attempt at mediation, but that effort failed exposing Peebles to rumors about his mother’s confidence (or lack thereof) in his ability to lead, as well as questions about his personal finances after foreclosure proceedings began on a property he owned in Baltimore.

Peebles contended the church rightfully belonged to him, but his mother left the church’s finances to the board of trustees in a secret will.

The AFRO has obtained a copy of that will in which Betty Peebles outlined the steps her son needed to take to receive any portion of his trust.

“Joel must place himself under the spiritual tutelage of the Pastor of the Spirit of Faith Christian Center, currently Dr. Michael A. Freeman, at the sanctuary location determined by the Pastor, for not less than one year or more than two years as determined by the Pastor (which may be extended if additional time is required to pursue a doctoral divinity degree),” the will read.

“During the period of spiritual tutelage under and as assigned by the Pastor, Joel shall be required to attend and/or successfully complete biblical studies either at a local seminary, bible institute or other institution of biblical study as assigned by the Pastor,” it continued.

The will also required that Peebles get written confirmation from Freeman upon completion of his tutelage and deliver it to the trustee.

Peebles will continue to serve as assistant pastor.

Click here to read “Messy Fight over Jericho Continues”


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO