A Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday forbidding the Rev. Joel R. Peebles, the pastor at the center of a battle for control over the multi-million-dollar Jericho City of Praise in Landover, from collecting tithes and offerings during church services.
The court order is the first legal action in a court battle that began in October, just days after the death of Peebles’s mother, Apostle Betty Peebles, who co-founded the church and grew it into one of the region’s largest and most influential ministries, with more than 15,000 members and millions in assets.
A group of church employees who claim that in the months before her death Betty Peebles gave them authority to manage the church’s finances had petitioned the court for the restraining order to block Joel Peebles, 41, from handling the money. Joel Peebles, who has been acting as senior pastor of the church since his mother’s death, has countersued, challenging the employees’ authority and the way they have managed the church’s money.
In a two-hour hearing, Judge Dwight Jackson also approved a motion to establish a mediator to help negotiate a resolution and ordered the employees to provide the church’s financial records, which attorneys for Joel Peebles requested five months ago.
“You can’t have drama like that” in church at offering time, Jackson said, admonishing the participants.