Barefoot pastor loses first round against Methodist church
A High Court judge has told the Methodist cleric known as “the barefoot pastor” that he cannot sue the President of the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church in Barbados, Rev Dr Cuthbert Edwards and two stewards Roger Marshall and David Harewood.
This, after he was fired over concerns about his “unorthodox” methods of conducting ministry, including preaching without shoes.
Rev William St Clair, through his attorney Hal Gollop, QC, had filed legal action against the three officials, as well as the Ebenezer Methodist Church Incorporated, the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church and the Methodist Church Trust Incorporated.
However, in a decision handed down in the Number 11 Supreme Court today, presiding Justice William Chandler accepted the argument of the Church’s attorney, Elliott Mottley, QC, that the Ebenezer Methodist Church Incorporated and the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church were not legal entities registered in Barbados.
The court also ruled that the Trust, though legally registered, had not been served with the required writ.
Furthermore, the only legal entity, which Rev. St Clair could appropriately sue, was the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA), which is based in Antigua.
As a result, Gollop gave the court verbal notice of his intention to file the suit against that entity.
He later told Barbados TODAY that he did not know on whom the documents should be served in relation to that entity. As far as the three officials were concerned, Justice Chandler also agreed with Mottley that Rev. St Clair had not proven that there was a contractual relationship with them.
The judge therefore adjourned the hearing until January 6 when Gollop is due to formally add the MCCA to the list of defendants.
In the original suit, Rev St Clair had accused the Methodist Church of a breach of contract. He had also requested a court declaration that he had an equitable interest in the church house from which he was being evicted because of the $30,000 he spent, as well as restitution of the money and a stop to the Church’s actions against him.
The Church has also asked him to turn back in the car he was given, all part of his emoluments.
However, it was not all bad news for the ‘barefoot’ priest.
The court accepted an undertaking by the Church to extend his stay at the house until the legal matter is determined.
He will also be allowed to keep the vehicle for the same period.
Reverend St Clair joined the local Methodist ministry about a year ago as the priest-in-charge of the Ebenezer Circuit, but was transferred to Shrewsbury, following concerns about his method of ministering.