ARDMORE, Ala. (WHNT) - An Ardmore pastor working to rebuild his church family has a problem. He says a business woman is tearing away at the church's foundation.
Barry Mitchell hired the woman to replace two signs outside his church. Four months later, the pastor is left with old signs and empty pockets.
Mitchell is forgiving to an extent. He is out almost $400. He’s not too worried about replacing it. He wants to expose the woman he says is messing with God's house. Mitchell says the woman talked the talk, but refuses to walk the walk.
Ardmore Christian Fellowship Church has stood on Fifth Avenue for a long time. Mitchell has led the church six years. He's taken the attendance from six to more than 30.
“Now everyone that comes to visit, tells us I've never felt so much love in a church,” said Mitchell.
It's almost hard for Pastor Mitchell and his congregation to love Melissa Pelkey. She owns Crimson Signs.
“I've been in her shop. She's fixed up nice. She's got the stuff,” added Mitchell.
Pastor Mitchell says Pelkey did a good sales job.
"She talked good and represented herself good. She told me we needed to do this and I would do this. She put on a good front,” added Mitchell.
Mitchell told WHNT NEWS 19 what Pelkey agreed to do was put two new signs out front -- one large and one small. She also agreed to throw in a box of letters.
“I got the letters and a small sign, you saw it out front. But, she just has not fixed the big sign,” added Mitchell.
The pastor handed Pelkey a $375 check. He showed WHNT NEWS 19 that Pelkey cashed it. The church is still without its big sign.
“When I called her, she said she had back surgery. The next time I called her, she said her mother had passed away and she had to make an emergency trip out of town,” added Mitchell.
The church leader has a heart. He understands all of that could have happened. But, there's more.
“The next time I called her, the sign was broke and she had to send it back. The next time I called her, they sent the wrong-sized sign and she had to send it back. She failed to return any of my calls from that day on,” added Mitchell.
Mitchell knows the good book, but he also knows good business.
“We are in agreement, things do happen, but business is business," said Mitchell. "To me, that's ample time to pick up the phone and call somebody.”
Pastor Mitchell is ready to throw up his hands.
“I like what you all do. If you are not an honest person, if she rips me off, that is fine. I can deal with that. But, she needs to be exposed for what she is,” added Mitchell.
He has to remember: What would Jesus do?
“We preach and teach for love and trust. When something like this happens, it is hard,” he said.
He knows it is not his place to judge.
“Taking advantage of a person is one thing. But, this is God's stuff. It is not mine and that's totally something else,” added Mitchell.
WHNT News 19 called Crimson Signs to talk with Pelkey. No one picked up the phone. We left a message and sent an email to the company’s owner.
Pelkey's lack of response goes much deeper. She emailed WHNT News 19 lot in the early stages of covering the story, begging the station to not run it and promised to make things right for the pastor in a few days.
WHNT NEWS 19 was hesitant in giving an extension, but gave eight to nine more days to get it done.
Pelkey never acknowledged the extension. She also never called or emailed the pastor. The pastor still does not have what he purchased four months after writing the business owner a check.