Independence, Missouri - Investigators said the search of a small Independence church and neighboring home that were raided Monday night could last for another day.
Jackson County sheriff's spokesman Col. Ben Kenney said the department is looking for anyone associated with New Covenant Faith Church, also known as the House of Prayer, who has information about child abuse, misconduct or inappropriate use of church funds. Deputies said they're looking for information going back as far as 20 or 30 years ago.
A church member was arrested during Monday night's raid on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Deputies told KMBC the person taken into custody was a pastor, but no charges were filed Tuesday. Three other people were questioned and released, officials said.
Kenney said several guns, church records and cash were seized in the raid, located at in the 1600 block of North Jennings Road. He said the raid was part of a year-long investigation of what he described as a "stand-alone congregation."
"It's an ongoing investigation. It's a tip that we received approximately a year ago and it's something we've followed up on and finally, we were able to serve the warrant," Sheriff Mike Sharp said.
Some church members have reported wrongdoing in the organization, deputies said. Some neighbors said they think Pastor Lloyd Sartain is "corrupt" and that it's a cult-like church.
"I've heard so many rumors I guess I'm not surprised," neighbor Kevin Ankrom told KMBC. "My father is a pastor, and I've never seen a church so locked down before, you know? It just seems so inaccessible, it just seems strange to me."
Sartain's attorney, John Carnes, said there's no basis for the investigation.
"This church has been in eastern Jackson County for many years, it's contributed to the community, and to have the reverend treated like this just based on rumors that any church may have float within it..." Carnes said.
Sartain was released from jail Tuesday night. Only KMBC-TV was there when he left the Jackson County Jail.
"I don't even know what it's about. That's why I need to get with a lawyer to talk to him about what's going on," Sartain told KMBC.
Sartain said he never saw a search warrant.
"I'm not against the law, But the law should be handled better," Sartain said. "I don't know what's going on, but something's going on."
Residents told KMBC's Peggy Breit that the church owns much of the land around area churchgoers live in apartments on the property.
"We're looking for any other individuals who feel they might have further information surrounding any questionable actions or conducts of the church or the church officers," Kenney said.