Courthouse Marrying Preachers Ordered To Stop Bickering

Earlier In Day Lady Minister Was Told She Could Do No More Weddings

Friday, April 25, 2003
Rev. Leroy Fitch shows off his ministerial papers. He said another marrying preacher at the county courthouse is not legal. Click to enlarge all our photos.
Rev. Leroy Fitch shows off his ministerial papers. He said another marrying preacher at the county courthouse is not legal. Click to enlarge all our photos.
- photo by John Wilson

Lt. John Sertel on Friday afternoon told the marrying preachers at the Hamilton County Courthouse they would have to leave the courthouse if they didn't stop bickering.

"I told them the fussing and arguing was going to stop because it was disrupting the courthouse," said Lt. Sertel, who is over courthouse security.

He said he told the ministers they would have to take turns in handling marriages.

Earlier in the day, several of the preachers said that a female minister who showed up recently would no longer be allowed to do weddings.

Rev. Leroy Fitch said Dr. Yvonne Freese "is not licensed, and she is not ordained. I told her she's not doing no more weddings. It ain't going to happen until she shows us some papers." He said he and the other preachers have an agreement where they take turns.

The Korean-born Rev. Freese left the courthouse after the morning confrontation, but she was back a short time latter - joining Rev. Fitch and two other ministers waiting for couples to come out of the office of County Clerk Bill Knowles.

Rev. Freese said, "I'm not scared. I'm not afraid." She said she got a degree at Tennessee Temple Seminary last year, and she said it's not necessary to be ordained. She said she would turn in her Temple certificate to the Knowles office.

She said of the other preachers, "I don't have to show it to them. With them it's like a food fight by animals. I wonder if they are born-again Christians and have the Holy Spirit."

Rev. Freese said she plans to do the courthouse marrying for about two years while she gains funding for "a big mission" - that she said will be "Tea For Teens."

Rev. Fitch, who said he is associate pastor of Mount Joy Baptist, called Rev. Freese "a liar." He said, "When she got back, she said she had taken her papers to the clerk's office. But I called in there on my cell phone, and they said she had not given them anything."

He said, "We just want these people to have a righteous wedding and a legal wedding. We don't want frauds coming in here and grabbing free enterprise."

Rev. Mark Sandilands, another of the courthouse preachers, said earlier that the law is clear that the officiant must be ordained and licensed.

But County Clerk Bill Knowles disagreed, saying the law is broad and could apply "to a prayer group leader or a Sunday School teacher." He said his office stays out of the issue of who performs the weddings out in the hallways.

Lt. Sertel said that when he was talking with the preachers, he understood they had argued about one not having a certificate. He said he told them they were not obligated to show it to him.

He said, "Three of them dug down in their briefcases and pulled out their papers." He said Rev. Freese said she would bring hers in.

Rev. Yvonne Freese
Rev. Yvonne Freese
- Photo2 by John Wilson

Funeral Will Be Thursday For 1 Of 2 Men Killed In Motorcycle Wreck

Funeral services will be Thursday for one of two men killed in the wreck of two motorcycles on Sunday night. Police said two motorcycles on Rossville Boulevard went out of control and struck separate utility poles. Robert “Corky” Dunn, 53, of Rossville, attended Rossville High School and was a member of Anchor of Hope Baptist Church. He loved his Harley, fishing, and collecting ... (click for more)

Neighbors Throw Rock Through Window To Wake Up Man Sleeping At Apartment Fire

An apartment fire late Monday night resulted in one man being sent to the hospital after he was alerted by neighbors. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at 9:38 p.m. and responded to Rainbow Creek Apartments at 7604 Standifer Gap Road with six fire companies. Details are still sketchy on what happened initially, but Captain Anthony Moore with the Fire Investigation ... (click for more)

I'm Number One In A Round About Way

Roundabouts have been popping up all over Chattanooga over the past few years and for the most part have been successful.  Unfortunately there are some who just don’t get it as I have found out the hard way.    My latest instance was last week when a young woman on her cell phone almost t-boned me as she flew into the roundabout without yielding.  A near miss ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Judge Philyaw Is The Best

Tomorrow morning there will be a special gathering at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court that will prove to our community that we have perhaps the most innovative juvenile judge in America. Shortly after Rob Philyaw was hand-picked by our Hamilton County Commissioners to fill the remainder of Suzanne Bailey’s term 15 months ago, he found that truancy was a big problem in our schools. ... (click for more)

Vols Open 2018 Season Against West Virginia In Charlotte

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.   – The Charlotte Sports Foundation announced Tuesday that the Tennessee Volunteers will open the 2018 season on September 1 against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers. All information related to kickoff date, time and tickets will be announced at ... (click for more)

Local Swimmers Excel At Georgia, Tennessee State Meets

Several Chattanooga-area swimmers had successful weekends in various meets this past weekend. The McCallie/GPS Aquatics team finished sixth out of 50 teams at the Southeastern Swimming Championship in Knoxville while swimmers from Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold also had memorable performances at the Georgia State Meet, also held last weekend. The McCallie/GPS team recorded ... (click for more)