A second minister of the embattled First Baptist Church of Carrollton has resigned, saying through a lawyer that "God could not use me there," in light of the recent controversy that has gripped the church.
The resignation of the Rev. Jerry A. Hanline, who has served as an associate pastor of the Riverdale church since 1981, comes two months after the Rev. Edward William Brandt III quit as senior pastor. Brandt stepped down after church members found that he had not earned three advanced degrees nor served as a psychology consultant at four clinics and hospitals in the United States, as he had claimed on his resume.
Last week Brandt was charged with five counts of fraud by Prince George's State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr. for allegedly representing himself as a psychologist and practicing psychology without a license.
Meanwhile, the church corporation and 10 members of the congregation yesterday filed a $5.2 million countersuit against 14 other church members. The 14 had sued the church and its elders in March for allegedly diverting church funds to themselves in order to gain control of church assets. Those filing the countersuit included the elders, Hanline and the Rev. Jefferey A. Watson, another associate pastor at the church.
The action filed yesterday charges that the dissidents "propagated falsehoods and mistruths" against the church in their lawsuit. The action also contends that the elders and ministers, with the exception of Brandt, were libeled through defamatory statements that were spread throughout the congregation and to the press.
Charles Donnelly, attorney for the 14 church dissidents, said he had not yet seen yesterday's filing. "Any attempt to countersue borders on the absurd in light of what has evolved with the leadership of the church and their refusal to provide basic information to my client," he said.
Thomas Antonielli, among those who brought the original suit, said he is seeking dissolution of the church corporation and permission to incorporate under new leadership. Antonielli said that Hanline and Watson "knew, or should have known," that Brandt had lied to the congregation about his credentials. Watson became an associate pastor in 1979.
Antonielli also contends that the ministers and elders reneged on an agreement under which the church would grant him access to its financial records and he would contribute $188,000 on behalf of the Northeast Rescue Mission Inc. of Washington, of which he was board chairman. The money was to be used for shelter, food and clothing for poor people, Antonielli said, but he questioned how it was spent.
Steven D. Campen, the church's lawyer, said that Antonielli was never denied access to the church's financial records, and called the claims of the dissidents "totally fallacious. They don't have any evidence."
Hanline said he planned to stay in the metropolitan area but would not elaborate. A member of the church, who asked not to be identified, said he had learned that Hanline and Brandt would form their own congregation.
Brandt, reached at his home, declined to comment on the report.