Church member denied funeral due to non-payment of tithes

(Photo: Sufi Nawaz)

A grieving daughter was devastated to learn that her deceased mother would not be buried in her home church because of lack of tithe payment.

Olivia Blair, 93, was a member of Fourth Missionary Baptist Church in Houston for 50 years, but had not attended services in years due to illness.

Blair's daughter, Barbara Day, reported that when her mother died over a week ago, she wanted Fourth Missionary pastor Walter Houston to officiate the funeral, but he refused.

"She had not 'paid her dues,' and she had not attended the church in recent years," Houston allegedly told Day.

Blair had been sick for ten years, and was in a coma in the final months of her life.

"For the last two years my mother has either been in a nursing home, or she's been in a hospital," Day told FOX 26.

"There's no explanation for anybody who has been paying dues at a church for that long, for him to make me have to roll my mother's body around town, and somebody finally picks her up and say, 'Yeah, we'll do the best we can.'"

Although part of Fourth Missionary's mission is to "to show love one for another that others may know that we are the Lord's Disciples," Ms. Day said that Pastor Houston fell far short of that.

"They knew she was ill. They don't care," she exclaimed. "All they care about is getting money, money, money, money, money. Even retail stores give people more respect than that.

"I don't understand why we've become so commercialised with religion," Day continued.

"What does this have to do with God? Why can't I give my mother her last wish, to be funeralised in the church that she loved so much?"

Tyrone Jacques of watchdog group said he contacted Pastor Houston, and pleaded with him to reconsider his decision not to officiate Mrs. Blair's funeral.

"If the family cared so much, why didn't they at least send a dollar per week?" Houston allegedly replied.

Jacques also reportedly offered to pay for the funeral, but was denied because "membership has its privileges."