ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Pastors have filed at least three federal lawsuits in recent weeks against the African Methodist Episcopal Church along with several subsidiaries and financial firms the church used, alleging tens of millions of dollars from a pension fund were mismanaged and missing.

The retired pastors in Florida, Maryland and Virginia filed the lawsuits late last month against the oldest historically Black denomination in the U.S.

They are seeking class-action status on behalf of thousands of other AME pastors throughout the country who lost money through the pension fund.

The church says it has hired an outside legal firm and forensics experts to conduct an investigation