Empowerment Temple recently terminated its lead pastor Rev. G.J. Barnes for failing to file timely audit reports, which cost the congregation thousands of dollars in fees levied by its mortgage holder.

Barnes began leading the church in 2019 after his successor, Jamal Bryant began pastoring New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the majority of the Empowerment Temple board voted to dismiss Barnes immediately on August 4th.

“Empowerment Temple solicits prayers during this time of transition,” read a statement from the church. “The current and previous leadership have reached a fork in the road where it is best that we separate. We look forward to new leadership where we can continue to serve the community.”

Last Wednesday, Barnes admitted that he was late with filing audit reports for 2020 and 2021 required by the church’s lender “out of my concern to be thorough and complete, not rushed.”

“People hear the word ‘audit,’ and they assume the problem has to do with financial problems,” he explained. “This wasn’t. It’s unfortunate that this spectacle has become a distraction, that an internal church matter has become the focus.” He said that the church had been paying its mortgage on time.

Empowerment Temple was established in 2000 under the leadership of well-known activist and preacher, Pastor Jamal Bryant. It is a part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and currently has approximately 4,000 members.

On the church’s website, Barnes was described as a “visionary, leader, executive, intellectual, and servant who served as “president and Chief Executive Officer for multiple national multi-million-dollar organizations.”

Barnes also had a passion for entrepreneurship and preaching at the age of 15 he was accepted into the NAACP Regional F. Lewis Youth Entrepreneurship Institute. Later he became one of the youngest successful African-American entrepreneurs in the country.

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