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Friday, January 25, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Florida churches just love Snipes

At about 7 a.m. Monday, before heading for the federal courthouse, actor Wesley Snipes joined black ministers from churches in Orlando, Gainesville and Ocala for a prayer service.

Several ministers then came for the beginning of Snipes' trial on tax evasion charges. In front of the Golden-Collum Memorial Federal Building, they talked with reporters, saying they prayed for fairness, deliverance and God's favor.

The Rev. Frank E. Thompson, of The Worship Center Orlando, had organized the service at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Ocala.

"All the pastors came because, No. 1, Wes' from Orlando and we came to pray on his behalf," Thompson said.

"It's important not only to show support for him - but any person," said the Rev. Fred Maeweathers Sr., pastor of Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Ocala.

Snipes' lawyers had raised the issue of whether Snipes, as a black man, can get a fair jury in the Ocala Division of the Middle District of Florida.

"Can a person get a fair trial here or every county, everywhere in the state of Florida?" Maeweathers said. "That will be judged by history. And I don't know if there will be a difference. ... I believe that, if we trust in God, fairness comes through him."

Pastor Rozella Brown, of Tabernacle of Deliverance Outreach Ministries in Ocala, wanted to show her support for Snipes.

"He is our brother, and, as the Word of God says, we are our brother's keeper," Brown said.

"Basically, the purpose of the prayer was that God would grant favor and that God would give deliverance for Brother Snipes and that he would also have a fair trial."

Pastor Glenda Sesler of Ocala's Everlasting Light of God Outreach Ministry said she attended the service to lend the strength that comes with unity.

"I was there," Sesler said, "to show my brotherly love and just to show him that we love him."


Related stories:

In letter to IRS, Snipes denies US residency 01/25/2008
IRS agents continue to testify in Wesley Snipes' tax trial 01/24/2008
Snipes warned IRS agents: Back off or face 'increased collateral risk' 01/24/2008
Trial notebook: A good reason to quit early 01/24/2008
Wesley Snipes trial becomes battle of paperwork 01/23/2008
Prosecution continues pressing its case in Snipes trial 01/23/2008
Trial notebook: Courts don't buy the '861 argument' 01/23/2008
Snipes trial resumes; testimony focuses on residency 01/22/2008
Trial notebook: Try not to fall asleep 01/22/2008
Trial notebook: 'Funny box' no laughing matter 01/22/2008
Snipes trial breaks for Martin Luther King Jr. Day 01/21/2008
Ex-employee: Snipes told me to keep quiet, or pay the consequences 01/19/2008
Snipes' ex-advisers testify in tax evasion trial 01/18/2008
Former employee testifies against Snipes 01/18/2008
Snipes trial: Attorneys debate part actor played 01/17/2008
Snipes defense team complains about prosecutors 01/17/2008
All-white jury seated for Snipes 01/16/2008
Lawyers: Snipes schemer or victim in tax case 01/16/2008
Snipes described as conspirator, victim of bad advice 01/16/2008
Legal team snipes at trial's jury pool 01/15/2008
Jury selected in Snipes case 01/15/2008
Prospective jurors all knew about Snipes case 01/15/2008
Snipes enters federal courthouse for tax evasion trial 01/14/2008
Area ministers gather to pray for Snipes, show support 01/14/2008
Jury selection off to a slow start in Snipes trial 01/14/2008
Ali, Spike Lee listed as possible character witnesses for Snipes 01/14/2008
Snipes trial sure to draw large crowd 01/13/2008
Prosecutors: Snipes sought tax refunds totalling $11.3 million 01/10/2008
Snipes trial delay axed by judge 01/08/2008
Snipes appeals judges ruling; tax trial could be delayed 01/05/2008