(Photo: Screen Grab via WOW KTV)
The congregation of a small-town church in Hamlin, W.Va., recently asked their pastor, who also serves as the town's mayor and chief of police, to resign because he allowed his deputies to use the church's bus as a cover in a drug bust.
Until he was asked by his congregation to resign on Monday, Chris Wilkinson was pastor of the Morningstar Community Church in Lincoln County for 10 years while serving as mayor and chief of police, according to a WOW KTV report.
The incident, which sparked the congregation's anger, took place last Thursday when the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department asked the police chief if they could use the church's bus. Nine officers needed to be transported to the scene of a drug bust and the church bus was a suitable cover to approach unnoticed.
"Rumor had it that people living at the mouth of the holler were calling them people living up in the holler, telling them that the police were coming," Wilkinson told WOW KTV.
He gave the officers the nod and they parked their cruisers, piled into the church bus and rolled up to the scene of the drug bust.
Their cunning resulted in the arrest of three people, but when the congregation found out what Wilkinson did they wanted him out of the pulpit, and on Monday one of the church's members gave him a phone call.
"I asked them what they want me to do and they said 'resign,'" said Wilkinson.
He said he was surprised by the congregation's reaction because just three months ago the state police used the bus to arrest nine people and no one complained, so he didn't think it would be a problem to use the church bus in the same capacity again.
"I just assumed since they didn't care that time they wouldn't care for me doing it again," said Wilkinson. But he was wrong.
Despite the congregation's reaction, however, Wilkinson said he would do it again because the church bus, which was purchased with money raised from bake sales and other fundraising events, can be used for a lot more than just transporting church folk.
"A lot of people need help," said Wilkinson.
The town of Hamlin has a population of 1,119 people.