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McBirnie Relinquishes His Pulpit

May 01, 1986

The Rev. Steuart McBirnie has formally stepped down as senior minister of the financially and legally troubled United Community Church of Glendale, turning over the pulpit he has held for 25 years to a 38-year-old Baptist minister from Van Nuys.

The new minister is John B. Myrick, who until last week was assistant pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Van Nuys.

McBirnie, 66, founded a multimillion-dollar empire and numerous church organizations by using his charismatic presence and a nationally syndicated radio show, on which he preached staunchly anti-communist sermons. McBirnie resigned because of poor health, but hopes to launch an international television ministry, church officials said.

New Minister Faces Problems

Myrick was installed as head minister of United Community Church during last Sunday's service. He assumes spiritual leadership of a 400-member church that last month filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U. S. Bankruptcy Code.

United Community Church is under investigation by the FBI in connection with lawsuits filed by parishioners who claim they were defrauded by McBirnie and the church. The church is appealing a $1.2-million judgment levied by a Glendale Court Commissioner in another case in which fraud was alleged. The new pastor says he hopes to steer clear of the church's legal entanglements and concentrate instead on religious duties.

"I may be real naive, but that's . . . my emphasis," Myrick said.

The church, in a Spanish-style building on $3.8-million property along Colorado Boulevard, is run by a board of trustees. The trustees handle financial matters and a board of deacons oversees religious issues.

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