The widow of the founding pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Bushwick is being evicted.
Paula Brown, 55, who was married to beloved “archbishop” Rev. Roy E. Brown until his death at 75 in June, found a 10-day notice to vacate on their former home in mid-August, according to the New York Post.
The late pastor reportedly sold his century-old Colonial-style home in Ditmas Park to the church in 1995 for $10; he’d taken out a mortgage to buy the property three years earlier to the tune of $200,000, according to the Post. The pastor’s widow claims the home is now worth $2.5 million and believes she’s being evicted because the church has a buyer lined up, though she says her husband assured her that she “would be taken care of.”
The Christian Post, however, reported that the pastor had transferred ownership of the house to the church in 2016 after hearing that his wife was cheating on him. Brown, the widow, denies she was unfaithful, telling the Christian Post, “I am not an adulterer… Do you even think about why he had a third wife? Because these people [church members] have been doing this all along to fill his head with nonsense.”
Some congregants recall their pastor saying his wife should get the house–a claim the widow also asserts, but the church maintains the pastor wished for his wife to be removed from their home within 90 days of his death. The church’s attorney, Monte Chandler, refused to provide any documentation of the late pastor’s “wish” to the New York Post.
Chandler described the church’s allowing the Brown family to continue living in the home as “particularly magnanimous” since the pastor had retired 13 years prior to his death.
“The church paid $1,700 a week for home health aides, maintaining the house to the tune of almost $7,000 a month for years … it’s not like the church has not been kind,” he told the Post. After all, he added, “the church has a duty to be good stewards over their financial responsibility.”
Adding to the dispute between Brown and the church are allegations from the pastor’s daughter from another marriage, Tiwana Brown, that her step-mother abused the pastor before his death. The widow told the Chrisian Post that she was “cleared of all charges” of abuse. [NYP]—Erin Hudson