April 30, 2005

Church members add twist to lawsuit

The Register-Guard

By Jeff Wright
The Register-Guard

Former members of New Hope Christian Center in Veneta filed a lawsuit Thursday asserting they are entitled to nearly $1.5 million - the value of the property and furnishings of the church from which they say they were evicted last summer.

The former members also allege that district and international officials with the Pentecostal Church of God knew, or should have known, that former New Hope associate pastor Charles Fenwick Jr. previously had engaged in "sexually inappropriate conduct" with minor females while serving a church in California.

The suit was filed in Lane County Circuit Court on Thursday during a settlement hearing before Judge Karsten Rasmussen. The hearing has been continued to an unspecified date sometime this summer.

The mediation session and new filing are the latest wrinkles involving Fenwick, who was sentenced last August to five years in prison, the maximum term, for sexually abusing a female parishioner, beginning when she was 14.

The female, now 20 years old, filed a $10 million lawsuit in October alleging that New Hope and a second church, the Lighthouse Temple in Eugene, were negligent in hiring and retaining Fenwick as an associate pastor. Fenwick worked at New Hope in 1998 and 1999 and at the Lighthouse Temple in 2000.

Posted by kshaw at April 30, 2005 05:00 AM