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Former Jacksonville Megachurch Pastor Teases Return to Ministry

Former Jacksonville megachurch pastor Stovall Weems hinted at his next step in ministry in a newsletter to supporters published last week.

Weems resigned from Celebration Church in April and continues to pursue a lawsuit saying he was illegally removed from his position by the church’s governing board earlier this year. Tim Timberlake, who was previously chosen as Weems’ successor as head of the 12,000-member church, had assumed leadership in March.

In a newsletter published on the Stovall Weems Ministries website, the pastor called 2022 “by far the most difficult and darkest season of our lives,” before announcing “several” RSVP-only online gatherings to outline an upcoming ministry. 

Weems was suspended by Celebration amid allegations that he and his wife Kerri had made unauthorized financial transactions, including selling a residence to the church at a substantial profit, taking salary advancements, and transferring funds to for-profit businesses they managed. 

However, a lawsuit the Weemses filed against Celebration alleges that trustee Kevin Cormier had fed church leaders “lies and misinformation” about them to deflect attention from himself, saying Cormier was charging the tens of thousands of dollars for rent and renovations to church property and had padded invoices. Weems had previously used his pastoral powers to remove Cormier from the board.

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Addressing the dispute with Celebration in the newsletter, Weems said, “I’ve learned some extremely painful, however deeply valuable lessons, about myself, about trusting God and his purposes, and about others,” Weems said about the dispute with Celebration. “I want you to know that Kerri and I are operating under spiritual oversight and we are now pressing on towards the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Messiah Jesus.” 

He also thanked the “apostolic elders who continue to provide wisdom, strength and counsel.”

The Weemses had said in an Instagram post after the suspension that they intended to continue to “pastor, preach and minister God’s Word” in Jacksonville. “We are excited about all that is to come for the Church (Big C) in our city, region and around the world!” they said, adding they would announce details of their upcoming ministry plans “in the coming days.”

The pastor said in the newsletter that attendees at a July 25 online meeting will have the “opportunity to get involved with a different ministry.” The meeting will be limited to 200 participants to allow questions, he said, and additional meetings will take place in August as needed. 

“We are looking forward to this new, fresh season, a new wineskin for the new wine of the revelation, message and mission God has entrusted to us to both preach and establish,” Weems said.

The newsletter also said the dispute with Celebration is playing itself out publicly in court “because we were defamed publicly on Celebration Church’s website, after we had already parted ways with the church we founded over two decades ago,” Weems wrote. 

“Some people have asked why we are proceeding through the courts to resolve this dispute. One reason is simple: our adversaries attacked us publicly by falsely accusing us of violating secular laws and should therefore have to answer publicly for the consequences of their actions,” he said.

“We will not waiver (sic) in our commitment to the truth and justice, and we have faith that we will eventually be able to make our accusers stand trial to answer for their actions,” Weems wrote. 

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Anne Stych

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