Alabama pastor with AIDS remains at helm in spite of vote to remove, church to file civil suit

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Over several weeks, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Juan D. McFarland progressively revealed his use of illegal drugs, adultery with congregational members, and infection with AIDS. | Shiloh MBC

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Christian Examiner)--Juan McFarland, the Alabama pastor who confessed to illegal drug use and sleeping with female members of his congregation while having AIDS, stood center stage behind his pulpit this past Sunday.

The sermon referenced various Bible stories about sudden and miraculous healing, and came as a surprise to the 50 individuals in attendance. Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church leaders and members voted 80 to 2 to remove McFarland from his pastoral post on Oct. 5. Since then, however, McFarland has maintained control over the church building and finances by changing the locks and account passwords.

When previously asked by a Montgomery, Ala. news station, whether he would step down, McFarland said he would not, and subsequently dismissed the deacon chair, the co-chair, the associate pastor and the minister of music. However, both the church's bylaws and the bylaws of the Alabama Middle District Baptist Association with which it affiliates state the membership controls who leads and operates the church.

The church obtained legal counsel last week when it became clear that McFarland was going to fight removal. Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips and his law partner, Kenneth Shinbaum will represent the congregation and plan to file a civil lawsuit, Tuesday, Oct. 14 asking for a restraining order to keep McFarland away from church property.

These developments come a month after McFarland announced from the pulpit that he contracted HIV in 2003 and was diagnosed with AIDS in 2008. That sermon was the first in a series of confessions that the 47-year old former pastor made which also revealed his drug use, misuse of church funds and sexual relationships with female church members.