A Lakeland pastor faces a lawsuit from Tampa-based Without Walls International Church after leaving its Lakeland satellite ministry in July to form his own congregation.
Randy L. Coggins and his newly created Bridge of Hope Church are defendants in a civil complaint filed last week in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Bartow.
In the complaint, Without Walls International claims Coggins used his position as executive pastor at Lakeland’s Without Walls Central to lure members of the congregation to his own ministry, Bridge of Hope Church.The suit seeks damages in excess of $15,000.
Coggins said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit until being told about it Monday afternoon by a reporter. He reviewed a copy of the six-page complaint.
“This caught me totally by surprise, and my heart is very heavy,” said Coggins, 45. “I just pray this will be able to be resolved in a Godly and Christian manner. These are churches we’re talking about, and churches are not supposed to engage in this arena.”
Coggins was hired in February as executive pastor at Without Walls Central, a North Lakeland ministry operated by Without Walls International Church Inc.. The main Tampa church, founded by Randy and Paula White in the early 1990s, once ranked as the second-largest congregation in the country.
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