Miami Church Changes Locks After Discovering Pastor Borrowed $520,000 Against Building

Mark Gardner was a fixture at Northside Church of God in Miami. He was, after all, the senior pastor there for seven years as well as parish president. Now he's in a legal battle with church members who want him kicked out and have even tried to change the building's locks.

That's because they learned that Gardner took out four loans against the church totaling $520,246.73 between 2009 and 2011, the Miami Times reports.

Paul Nicholson, a church member for 12 years, apparently discovered the loans. On March 6, Gardner filed a request for an injunction against his fellow church leaders, who he said held an "unauthorized" meeting where it was decided they would change the locks to keep their senior pastor out. The injunction request also notes that whistleblower Nicholson "took bank statements from the corporation, and we want them back." Kind of too late now, buddy.

On top of dealing with the pastor, the church has to figure out what to do about the interest Gardner's loans accumulated, which totals $78,699.01. He also hasn't made a single payment on any of them, Miami Today reports. Riptide's calls to the church to speak with Gardner yesterday were not returned.

Gardner was an associate pastor in New York for 12 years before he moved to Indiana, where he was an instructor at Anderson University. In 2005, he moved to start his new job in South Florida. Besides leading his congregation in West Little River, he's also an instructor and mentor at Miami Dade College.

"Knowing that God sent me has given me the strength, perseverance, and endurance," he told the Miami Times about his five-year anniversary as senior pastor. "It has helped me weather the storms when they come and go."

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

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