For about two months in late 2009, Joel R. Peebles had no idea where his mother was. She didn’t answer when he called her cellphone or respond to knocks on the door of her home in the gated Woodmore community in Prince George’s County.

Unbeknownst to her son, Betty Peebles, the pastor who’d transformed Jericho City of Praise in Landover into a multimillion-dollar ministry conglomerate, had written a new will and quietly admitted herself into a Baltimore hospital for cancer treatment, acquaintances said.

A group of longtime Jericho members say that in March of the same year, she also signed papers naming them to a revised board of trustees with a mandate that they handle the business side of the ministry, an arrangement that would keep her son in place as the church’s spiritual leader, but bar him from controlling the money.

In a court battle that erupted days after Betty Peebles died of cancer in October, Joel Peebles, 42, disputed the claim, saying his mother left him in charge. Both sides entered court-ordered mediation Friday but did not reach a resolution. A hearing scheduled Tuesday for a judge to consider pending motions was postponed in lieu of the parties returning to mediation.

Continue Reading on