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Orange County

Judge Freezes Assets of Divided Church

June 14, 2003|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County judge Friday froze the assets of a Westminster church that is the subject of a bitter battle between two brothers who both claim to be its pastor.

Superior Court Judge James M. Brooks also ordered Crossroads Community Church to be open to all worshipers, regardless of which brother they support.

Former Senior Pastor Daniel Kruse, who stepped down in April after what Brooks referred to in court as a "moral transgression," sought to stop a new board of directors from making collections and managing church affairs.

In granting the temporary restraining order, Brooks also ordered both sides not to incur debt or liability, or sell the church, until a hearing on a permanent injunction June 25.

Daniel Kruse's resignation caused a leadership gap that left church officials and congregants struggling to operate the church, members said. When he allegedly attempted to regain authority, church members formed a new board and promoted Kruse's brother, Pastor Jim Kruse, to take over pulpit duties.

The former pastor countered by choosing Dallas, his 24-year-old son, to be head pastor.

With one faction supporting the former pastor and another his brother, clashes developed during services that led to near fistfights, the changing of door locks to keep one faction out, and allegations of trespass. On two occasions police were called to keep the peace during services.

The situation is so contentious that Brooks also was asked to decide who should preach at Sunday services before the next hearing. But the judge said he was reluctant to do so and instead suggested that "maybe they can alternate."

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