Prichard youth mentor claims church took cash, violated lease agreement

(image: WPMI) Prichard youth mentor claims church took cash, violated lease agreement

A local youth mentor says a Prichard church took his deposit and rent, then locked him out. Rodney Toomer, known to many in the community as DJ Rodski, says thousands of dollars and even more in sweat equity went into renovating the upstairs of Greater Praise Deliverance Church in Prichard over the last month.

Pictures he shared with NBC 15 News show rooms painted in vibrant colors and new floors. The plan, he says, was to give kids in the area a positive place to go.

"Everything went from kumbaya to combative," said Toomer. "It's real hard for me because I know what we were doing. I know we were in there sweating from 7 in the morning to 6 in the evening. We basically put our blood, sweat, and tears in this," said Toomer.

Toomer also showed NBC 15 News a copy of the one-year lease he signed in May and a receipt for the first month's rent and deposit, $900 total. But he says soon after he signed, tensions escalated with the church's pastor, who wanted the group to rent the entire church not just the upstairs.

"He kept pressuring us to hurry up with the money. "I need the money now!" Hold on man," said Toomer. "I came the next day, the locks was changed. The locks was changed!"

We called Pastor Bobby Cunningham to get his side of the story. After repeatedly telling us no comment, he handed the phone to his finance director. She declined an interview but denied Toomer's claims. The church contends it's being set up as a fall guy for Toomer's failed ministry, which Toomer refutes.

"We have 1,500 children over here. What are we telling them to do this summer? Go out and play."

Toomer says the real issue here is not a lease dispute. It's the kids in this impoverished community he's truly concerned about.

"You know what's going to happen. There's trouble waiting out there. We don't have a recreation center or nothing," said Toomer.

Though it may be a bump in the road, Toomer says it won't stop his mission.

"We're going to find another building this is not going to stop us. It's not going to stop what we're going to do," said Toomer.

The dispute is now in the hands of their respective attorneys, and will be decided in Mobile County civil court.

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