SOME members of the First Bethany Church of Capitol Heights Inc. (FBCCHI) in Barangay Villamonte, Bacolod City have filed a complaint on the alleged illegal and arbitrary closure of their church facility upon the order of some persons including Pastor Reuben Macaya.

Wennie Sancho, the newly-elected chairperson of FBCCHI, said they filed the complaint before the Convention of the Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) on January 19, 2021.

Sancho, in a press statement, said that on January 16, they were prevented from holding their general assembly membership meeting and election of the members of the new Board of Trustees (BOT) inside the church because it was padlocked.

"On January 17, we were again prevented from holding our regular Sunday worship service inside the church because it was padlocked upon the order of these persons according to the security guards," he added.

Sancho said they were compelled to hold their fellowship service outside the gate of the FBCCHI amid the rains.

He further claimed that the church remained closed on January 24 and 31 thus, they again held the fellowship service outside the gate.

The press statement stated that the order of Macaya and another person is a flagrant violation of the FBCCHI by-laws particularly Article V Section 2, providing for the rights of members.

It said a member shall have the right to avail of all the facilities of the corporation (church).

"By locking us out, who are bonafide members of this church, is a form of oppression inflicted upon us, when we were holding our fellowship services outside amid the pouring rain," it added.

Sancho questioned: "How can Pastor Macaya, claiming to be a minister of God, allow us to undergo this humiliation?"

"Needless to say, this is conduct unbecoming of a pastor. He is acting as if he owns the church and as if the church is his property to be opened and closed at his own discretion," he said.

The concern was already lodged at Police Police Station 4 and Barangay Villamonte Council.

Sancho asserted that Macaya has no right to restrain them from entering the church by closing it and forbid them from performing their spiritual desire to worship God inside the church.

"Even if there is an intra-corporate dispute within the corporation, a pastor cannot close the church arbitrarily because he does not have the authority, unless, he had usurped the regulatory power of a government agency," he stressed.

The statement added that "it is unfortunate that Pastor Macaya declared the suspension of our fellowship services every Sunday, until further notice, but, he was preaching in another church within the neighboring area."

Sancho also asked, "Isn't this a clear abdication of his duty as a pastor? As a pastor, had he not abandoned his moral duty to preach in the FBCCHI. Isn't it a dereliction of his calling as a pastor if indeed, he was called?"

The members are challenging Macaya to face and answer them in any forum believing that "he is accountable for his actions, not only before us, but before God."

SunStar Bacolod has reached Macaya for his side on the allegations of Sancho and other FBCCHI members.

Macaya, however, said he has yet to consult with their chairman of the Board before giving his comments.