Church members trying to oust pastor now allege fraud

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The suit filed by Blackwelder Park Baptist Church against former senior pastor Keith Kannenberg went into mediation and was voluntarily dismissed on June 12, 2012.

By Shavonne Potts
KANNAPOLIS — Already the subject of a lawsuit seeking his removal, Blackwelder Park Baptist Church’s pastor now faces a charge that he falsified church documents.
Michael Herman, a church trustee, took out a private warrant last Friday alleging the Rev. Keith Kannenberg filed paperwork with the N.C. Secretary of State’s Office naming himself the church’s registered agent and changing the location of its registered office.
Church member and deacon Stanley “Jamey” Welch Jr. also signed the state paperwork.
Herman’s statement said Welch had no right to do so, since that requires a church trustee. Welch is chairman of the deacon board, not a trustee, Herman said.
Welch identified himself in the state paperwork as chairman of the church’s board of directors.
The previous registered agent, according to state records, was the Rev. Stan Welch, the church’s former senior pastor and Jamey Welch’s father.
The warrant against Welch was served Sunday. The warrant against Kannenberg was served Monday.
They’re both due in court Nov. 3 to face the misdemeanor charge of signing false documents.
Kannenberg declined comment. Welch could not be reached by telephone.
On Sept. 15, after seeking Kannenberg’s resignation, church trustees filed a civil lawsuit asking the court to force Kannenberg to resign.
The suit says Kannenberg misrepresented himself before a search committee hired him in 2008. It also says he cannot get along with anyone and has fired staff who disagree with him. He’s fired ministerial staff without consulting with the Personnel Ministry Team, the suit says.
The suit says Kannenberg has ignored church leaders’ calls for his resignation and has allowed his supporters to disrupt business meetings called to discuss his termination.
In a statement emailed to the post, Jamey Welch and Jeff James, vice chairman of the deacon board, say the congregation voted in a business meeting Sept. 11 to seek mediation in the matter.
On Sept. 21, Kannenberg signed a form with the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State naming himself the new registered agent. He gave his title as senior pastor.
As a registered agent, Kannenberg can accept legal documents including services of process and summonses on behalf of the church. A registered agent must then forward any documents to the entity’s last known address.
The document also changed the registered office of the church from 2204 Summit Ave. to 2299 N. Main St., the location of the church. The church has a preschool on Summit Avenue.
Jaymie Welch signed that document and another dated Aug. 29 changing the principal office of the church from the Summit Avenue address to the one on North Main Street.
On Oct. 21, Herman filed paperwork with the state disputing the pair’s right to make those changes. In the “article of correction,” Herman wrote that Kannenberg had been fired by the church and that Welch misrepresented his authority.
“According to the constitution and bylaws of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church, any legal document concerning the church must be signed by a trustee of the church,” the document said.
Court documents show there are three church trustees — Mike Herman, Melvin McGee and Ken Iddings. Welch, Herman wrote, is chairman of the deacon’s board.
Meanwhile, Kannenberg’s name appeared on another document filed with the Secretary of State’s Office in September.
On Sept. 20, Dr. Eric Troyer, a family practitioner in Landis and a member of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church, filed papers to create a nonprofit corporation — identified as The Life Church of Kannapolis Inc. — naming himself and Kannenberg its two directors.
A month later on Oct. 21, Troyer filed a correction saying the initial paperwork “was incorrect” and that Kannenberg was not a director.
In a statement emailed to the Post, Troyer said he has “recently been convicted to begin this church sooner rather than later” and that it will meet in the lobby of his practice at 107 S. Central Avenue in Landis on Saturday evenings beginning Nov. 26.
Troyer’s statement did not address Kannenberg and he did not respond to a request from the Post seeking clarification about Kannenberg’s role in the new church.
In his correction filed with the state, Troyer named Charles Troyer as the other initial director of the nonprofit.
Kannenberg has hired attorney Carl Conroy of Concord, according to court records. Conroy won an extension of time to file a response to the initial complaint, but the court has not ruled on his Oct. 17 motion to dismiss the action.
Conroy did not return a phone call to his office.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.