Arrests mount for members of controversial church

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WELLS, Texas – Members of a controversial East Texas church face mounting legal troubles following a series of arrests over the last six months.

The arrests come as several members of the Church of Wells await trial on trespassing charges stemming from an incident at Lakewood Church in June 2015.

Church elder Jacob Gardner, 27, was one of six men charged over the Lakewood incident and he agreed to speak with Channel 2 Investigates about the more recent arrests.

“All throughout the centuries Christianity was persecuted,” said Gardner. “All I need to do is step outside and be a Christian and I’ll be persecuted.”

Gardner said he believes church members based in the town of Wells are practicing a true form of Christianity. Gardner said he believes God compels the members of the church to warn people of a coming judgment and urges them to repent their sins. In many instances this belief manifests itself in the form of impromptu sermons inside other churches, on street corners and on college campuses.

“I truly believe we are confronting the powers of darkness that are hovering over this land,” said Gardner.

Last month, two of the men charged over the Lakewood incident were arrested twice in the New York town of Saranac Lake. Sgt. Peter Gladd told KPRC 2 News that Richard Trudeau and Mark DeRouville were arrested after disrupting services at a Baptist church. The men were arrested a second time for disorderly conduct at a town park, and DeRouville was also charged with resisting arrest.

Gardner defended the men by saying they were simply preaching about God’s love and “lifting up their voices,” not screaming.