An assistant pastor and spokesman for the jailed founder of a small Tennessee church involved in a trademark dispute with the Seventh-day Adventist Church of North America gave a press conference Tuesday in Loma Linda before surrendering as a fugitive to Redlands police.
Lucan James Chartier, 26, is a member of Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church of Guys, Tenn., founded by Pastor Walter "Chick" McGill, who was arrested July 13 on a federal warrant on the grounds of Loma Linda University Church of Seventh-day Adventists.
Chartier and McGill have been found in contempt of federal court in Tennessee, where a judge ruled in April they violated an order they cease using the name "Seventh-day Adventist" and the acronym "SDA" to describe their church.
The trademark infringement dispute was initiated in court by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, also known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church of North America.
On Tuesday, Chartier met a group of reporters and cameramen at a pre-arranged time at the Loma Linda University Church of Seventh-day Adventists and underscored his defiance of the federal court order.
"Our religion requires the use of this name to describe our faith," Chartier said. "We can't change the name without disobeying a pointed instruction of God. So this isn't a matter of just changing our name on a whim. This is a matter of either obeying God or obeying man. And in that circumstance, we can't choose to obey man over God."
United State District Judge J. Daniel Breen stated in April that if McGill and Chartier failed to comply with court instructions, he would "direct the United States Marshals Service to issue a warrant for their arrest."
About 6:30 p.m. Tuesday July 31, Chartier alerted Loma Linda University campus security of his presence, his identity, and his intent to surrender to law enforcement as a fugitive.
Security officers indicated a Loma Linda deputy would come to arrest Chartier, a scenario similar to when deputies arrested McGill at the same church on July 13.
Chartier earlier said in communications with reporters he was concerned he would be arrested immediately and not be allowed to say all that he wanted.
Instead, he stood on the sidewalk next to the church's property and spoke freely for 20 minutes or so with no sign of a deputy. At the end of his press conference he conferred with campus security again and decided to turn himself in at the Redlands Police Department compound on West Park Avenue.
Outside the police building in Redlands, Chartier used an after-hours telephone to speak to a dispatcher, and he waited more than 30 minutes until two police officers, including one who identified himself as the shift watch commander, took him into custody at 7:45 p.m.
Chartier was held Wednesday morning without bail at Central Detention Center in San Bernardino, according to inmate records. Before his arrest, Chartier said he expected to spend 10 days or more in jail. He also said he intended to fast while incarcerated, following McGill's example.
McGill, 66, was also held without bail Wednesday morning at the same lockup facility, according to inmate records.
At a detention hearing two weeks ago in Riverside, "McGill was remanded to the custody of the US Marshals to serve 30 days in custody, as per the district court's contempt order," Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
McGill will serve the remainder of his time in San Bernardino County, Deputy U.S. Marshal Laura Vega said.
George Johnson Jr., communication director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church of North America, issued a statement after McGill's arrest that included the following:
"We believe that Pastor McGill has the right to exercise his religious beliefs and operate a ministry, however to falsely identify himself with an organization of which he is not a part, is not acceptable.
"This false association confuses the public, media and at times our own members. The Seventh‑day Adventist Church has defined processes and procedures for establishing and maintaining congregations."
In interviews and in a press release after McGill's arrest, Chartier said there was no confusion and he said it again Tuesday before he surrendered himself to police in Redlands.
For previous Redlands-Loma Linda Patch reports about the dispute, click , and .
Approximately 6,500 members of the Loma Linda University Church of Seventh-day Adventists comprise the largest Adventist congregation in North America, according to the church's website.