Controversial ministry purchases land in Dickson County

The Gathering previously met each Saturday at Wayne Jolley's home (WSMV)

A controversial ministry at the center of a Channel 4 I-Team investigation has found a new home.

Records show Wayne Jolley Ministries purchased a plot of land in Burns, TN, in December 2016 for $85,000.

The organization is also known as The Gathering, by its current and former members.

A sign on the empty plot reads: "The future home of: The Gathering International".

But for former members, the move brings up painful memories of the past.

"In my opinion, it's not of God at all," said former member Mike Pugh. "So why are they continuing to perpetuate this?"

Pugh and other members want to know why the ministry is moving at all.

The Gathering previously operated out of a sprawling, million-dollar home in Franklin for years. Former members claimed they were encouraged to tithe heavily.

The religious group claimed to run a worldwide radio ministry that reached billions of people. But the I-Team found no proof of that.

Instead, nonprofit records show hundreds of thousands of dollars had funded home renovations. The place of worship also doubled as a home for the group's pastor, Wayne Jolley, and his wife, Linda.

Pugh shared his theory on why the group decided to move.

"When roaches are exposed to light, they run and they go somewhere else," Pugh said.

This not the first time The Gathering has uprooted and moved. Nonprofit records show the ministry has operated in Franklin, Chattanooga, and Ringgold, GA.

Pugh said any new potential members in Burns should heed this warning:

"Run," he said. "They should run. They should run as far away from it as possible."

Wayne Jolley passed away a year ago this month. Many former members of the congregation wondered how the organization would survive, especially as attendance had already dwindled. Ex-members claimed in the ministry's heyday, up to 80 people attended services.

In August, the state issued the ministry a fine amounting to $5,000 for “utilizing unfair, false, misleading or deceptive acts and practices affecting the conduct of solicitations for contributions."

In doing so, Wayne Jolly Ministries violated state law, according to a letter from the state's Division of Charitable Solicitation, Fantasy Sports and Gaming. The ministry essentially lost its church status in the eyes of the division.

Jolley's widow, Linda, signed the deed for the Burns property. The I-Team reached out to Linda Jolley by phone. She did not respond by deadline.

Stay tuned to Channel 4 News for the latest developments.

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.