If things do not change, there will be no merry Christmas for members of the Davis Memorial COGIC in Grand Rapids, MI. The church is currently shut down and embroiled in a power struggle with its commuter pastor, installed just three years ago by Bishop PA Brooks.
Church officials contend that Brooks failed to inform them of Elder Eric Slack’s previous criminal background including the fact that Slack was permanently disbarred as an attorney in Ohio for multiple felonies.
Slack of Toledo, OH, according to court records, is a convicted felon who spent 4 years in prison for “thefts from two estates and two guardianship accounts he controlled.”
Slack’s bio says that “Since 1992, Elder Slack has served as Parliamentarian of The General Assembly of The Church Of God in Christ, Inc. and General Counsel of the General Assembly. He served under the late Bishop L.H. Ford, Bishop Chandler D. Owens and Bishop, G. E. Patterson and the current Presiding Bishop, Charles E. Blake. In 2003, Elder Slack was appointed by the General Board to work as a Special Assistant in the coordination of the Constitutional Convention of the Church of God in Christ in St. Louis, MO.”
As the conflict widened, the police were called in and local media began reporting the story [with video] due to Slack’s profile as a disbarred lawyer. The church alleges that Slack is back to his criminal ways and they want him out before they are left with no money.
The church alleges that since Bishop Brooks installed him as pastor of Davis Memorial, Slack has discontinued paper bank statements, registered an online banking account, spent $13,000 without authorization and racked up $6,000 in bank overdraft charges. Typical of local COGIC churches seeking crisis intervention from the bishop, none came. Letters and calls to Brooks and Michigan SW 2nd jurisdictional officials went unanswered. The silence of their leaders forced the church board to file a police report and launch a criminal investigation. Subsequently, Slack was removed from office pending outcome of the ongoing investigation.
RCA discovered that SW Michigan Bishop Earl Wright and an entourage went to the church in an attempt to reinstall Slack. But that meeting ended with open threats and violence prompting police to forcibly disband the meeting. A handwritten sign on the church door reads “Church is cancelled until further notice per board of trustees.”
Toledo Blade EOPA probe shows misuse of federal funds
ATLANTA – Seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys for Bishop Larry Shaw, Secretary of the Church of God in Christ Board of Bishops, filed a lawsuit against Bishop John H. Sheard, the board’s Chairman in Georgia’s Fulton County Superior Court, Tuesday October 1st. The suit demands a jury trial.
Also named as a defendant in the suit is Elder William McCray III a controversial media personality and author of a blog known as “Obnoxious Blog”.
We reported to you earlier that the Atlanta law firm representing Shaw and Bishop Thomas Holsey sent a letter to Bishop Charles Blake and Sheard intimating an intent to file suit. Apparently, Sheard did not take it seriously and two days later, emailed the letter out to numerous other COGIC bishops. Interestingly enough, the lawsuit alleges he also knowingly spread a libelous and false letter which prompted the defamation suit.
New information released by the attorneys describe a $10,000 payoff dispute between McCray and Sheard after the latter refused to pay for the libelous letter in the wake of COGIC’s 2012 elections. The suit alleges the two plotted to “destroy” Shaw in advance of the elections. According to the suit, in a private meeting in Detroit mediated by Bishop Nathaniel Wells, Sheard ordered that Shaw “forget about” a document Sheard had illegally signed regarding the suspension of Bishop Holsey. In exchange for Shaw’s silence, Sheard said he would not release the letter. When Shaw refused to cooperate, Sheard copied the letter and distributed it at the church’s November meeting in St Louis. He later enlisted McCray to post it on his popular blog.
Sheard’s attorney told an Atlanta reporter Sheard ‘had nothing to do with the blogger posting that letter.” He said Shaw doesn’t want his reputation harmed and yet, he pointed out, Shaw and his attorney are the ones who called the media.
Read the suit under our letters and documents.
Church leadership conflicts are nothing new
Conflicts between church leaders are nothing new. The bible records one of most well known between Paul and Peter, two of the heavyweight apostles of the early church. It involved lying, hypocrisy, false teaching, confrontation, tension and public rebuke.
“Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Gal 2 vss 4-8,11,14 ESV
On Sept 7, 1967, Bishop RE Ranger filed a lawsuit in the 9th District Court of Texas against Bishop JO Patterson Sr. et al alleging that his removal from office was illegal and void because it did not comply with the Constitution, By-Laws, Customs and Practices of the COGIC. Ranger contended Patterson perjured himself in a Birmingham court. See Bishop Ranger’s searing response letter entitled “Always Liars”.
The point of the matter is when a wrong has been committed and it cannot be resolved through ecclesiastical channels, it is acceptable to seek legal redress. Thus, Bishop Shaw was well within his rights to file suit. Given the decades of stunning dysfunction within COGIC’s judicial processes, its no wonder the lawsuit had to be taken to civil court.
Fair adjudication or pattern of obstruction?
The greater concern of the church should be with Bishop Sheard’s attempts to defame others, obstruct justice and selectively disregard church laws.
- In August 2012, Bishop Juan Lawson, prelate of Texas Western Jurisdiction and former Chairman of the Church of God in Christ Grievance Committee, announced via video that he had resigned as Chairman of that committee due to repeated incidences of “obstruction, coverup and incompetence” by Board of Bishops Chairman John Sheard. [read more]
- Later that month, noted scholar, ethicist and COGIC Ecumenical Officer Dr. Leonard Lovett fired off a letter telling Sheard, “We have credible evidence that you are engaging in obstruction of justice with similar cases. Bishop Sheard, you are not beyond an investigation for obstruction of justice by the Judiciary. We have almost concluded that your limited response to this and other cases are purely political and that no impartial trial can be conducted as long as you are leading like a boss. Unfortunately, it is this kind of behavior that results in cases being tried on the internet.” [read more]
RCA obtained a copy of an internal memo by Bishop Donald Murray dated August 20, 2013. Murray is Vice Chair of the Board of Bishops. The memo contained the findings of a “Special Grievance Committee” and noted passive-aggressive obstructionist efforts by five bishops on the committee after Shaw filed a complaint about Sheard. Whether Sheard influenced the actions is unknown. The bishops refused to even cooperate possibly to stymie the complaint process.
“As the Executive Team Member, holding the responsibility for overseeing the fair adjudication of this Complaint brought by Bishop Larry Shaw, I have reviewed the report tendered by Bishop L. Walter Plummer and I have noted that there are a couple of troubling issues embedded within the report. Thus, as the Chief Hearing Officer for this particular matter, I must address these issues here, as I might not have an opportunity to do so in the future, nor do I want to turn any of our sessions into a spectacle.
The Special Grievance Committee report tendered by Bishop T. Walter Plummer shows that Bishop John H. Sheard, Bishop Roy Dixon, and Bishop Adrian Williams, in response to the May 15, 2013 letter sent by Acting Grievance Committee Chairman, Bishop T. Walter Plummer pursuant to Rule of Trial Procedure 6(b), each properly filed a written response with the Special Grievance Committee addressing or denying all of the allegations of the Complaint. Clearly, these Bishops adhered to the Rules of Trial Procedure established by the Board of Bishops. Regrettably, the report also shows that the remaining five Respondents did not reply at all to the allegations of the Complaint even though a request was made by the Special Grievance Committee Chairman.
The report shows that on May 20, 2013 Bishop Benjamin P. Collins (GA) received the package requesting a response within 30 days via certified mail. The report shows that on May 18, 2013 Bishop Felton Smith (TN) received his package requesting a response within 30 days via certified mail. The report shows that Bishop John Wayne Leggett (GA) did not claim his certified mail package, but that the package was hand-delivered to him during the AIM Convention. To date, there has been no response. The report shows that Bishop Albert Galbraith’s (CA) certified mail package was neither signed for nor was it returned. The report shows that the certified mail package sent to Bishop Roger Jones (MI) went unclaimed, and that an attempt was made to hand-deliver the package to Bishop Jones during the AIM Convention, but he refused to accept it.
Not only did the five bishops refuse to participate in the process, they also refused to give account as to why. Read the entire letter under our letters and documents section.
A woman who sent a letter to COGIC Bishop Rufus Kyles, prelate of Texas Southeast First Jurisdiction based in Houston tells Report COGIC Abuse she is contemplating legal action against Superintendent John Banks over his promise to give her $25,000 to move from Ohio to Texas to live near him so they could continue a year long sexual affair. He met the woman in August 2012. Kyles did not respond to the letter. See other Texas Southeast 1st jurisdiction stories here and here.
The 72 year old Banks, a member of the Jurisdictional Executive Staff is married to COGIC’s national elections chair Myra Banks, oversees the Baytown District and pastors Greater Emanuel COGIC in northeast Houston.
In the August 13th letter provided to RCA, the woman wrote to Bishop Kyles asking for assistance resolving the matter. The woman said she also sent letters to Bishop Blake and Banks’ wife because she wants him to resign and get himself right.
“I am hoping that you have received my letter regarding the affair (s) of your prelate, Superintendent John L. Banks, Jr. My patience has worn thin waiting on what was promised and due to me. John Banks lured [...] and me to Dallas, Texas so we would be close to him in Houston. He promised to help me establish a home for us. I am aware that he had surgery but he apparently lied about having money and property to keep me interested and to have sex with him. After I exposed our affair in the letter that was sent out to certain people, I would have thought he would have made good on his promise of $25,000 or at least enough to take care of my rent a few months. However, on August 20, 2013, he called me to inform me that he sent $1000.00 via Western Union. I was in the Hospital overnight due to low Potassium and when I was released the next day I went to Western Union to find out that he had his SISTER in Cleveland, Ohio to send me $100.00. I called him and he wouldn’t answer and I texted him and he wouldn’t answer. “
While RCA will not reveal the details at this time, the woman provided numerous significant details of sexual liaisons with Banks. She told RCA that Banks urged her to meet him at COGIC’s November Convocation, but she declined because he required that she “pay half like the other women he had sexual hookups with”. Banks attended the 2012 Bishop’s Conference in Detroit for the sole reason of meeting her for sex.
“Room 138 was our private joke”, she said, referring to the room the two of them met to have sex.
The benefits of sin
Let’s not be naive, sin packs a bundle of benefits. One is pleasure. If there was no pleasure in sin, it would have little attraction to humans. Hebrews 11:25 said Moses rejected the pleasures of sin for a season, choosing instead to suffer affliction with the people of God. The flesh receives a tremendous amount of gratuitous illicit pleasure from sin whether it be sexual or otherwise. That rush of pleasure becomes addictive to the degree that a person will subject themselves to risky behavior not to mention behavior that dishonors their families, churches, wives and God to experience it. But in the blindness of pleasure, death lurks like a crouching lion. As the scripture notes, the pleasure can only last for a time before it turns rotten. Sooner or later, if a person sows to the flesh they will reap the corruption therein. Exposure, broken relationships, damaged families, shame upon the church are all part of the consequential reaping. It will surely come because no one mocks God and escapes the consequences of such behavior (Gal 6:7). Biblically, consensual adulterous sex is just as sinful as nonconsensual adulterous sex.
What these men must be retrained to think is that the eternal benefits of holiness far outweigh the temporary benefits of sin.
Despite the bible, its constitution and policies that spell out what must happen to sexual offenders, its clear the Church of God in Christ is both impotent and incompetent in disciplining members of its clergy for sexual immorality. See the recent case of Supt Jessie L. Hutton. [youtube]That’s one of the main reasons its so widespread. For years the rumors of men in leadership using the Memphis Holy Convocation as a time to fulfill all of their sexual fetishes and fantasies were never substantiated because nothing existed to document the occurrences. But things have changed. Now, we know its true. Its obvious COGIC men have severe sexual immorality problems (both heterosexual and homosexual) and because moral authority is lacking, it continues to attract like spirits. Add to that corruption, greed, deception and injustice and its fairly easy to say that spiritual termites are destroying the denomination from the inside out.
Where are COGIC’s spiritual reformers hiding?
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11
Sexual immorality is an unfruitful work of darkness. It should be the leaders exposing it and ensuring that it doesn’t grow and infect the body. They should be protecting the integrity of the house of God. Instead, its the leaders who are participating and indulging themselves. Its the leaders who are gouging themselves with the pleasures of sin while hypocritically proclaiming “holiness is still right”. Its the leaders of COGIC who cause the people to err; and they that are led by them are destroyed. Is 9:16
Supt John L. Banks, Jr should be ashamed that as a leader he cannot discipline himself or his sexual organs. It may be an indicator that he is unregenerate, not having been filled with the Holy Ghost (Gal 5:22-23) . As such, he should be removed from leadership until he is right with God. You may wonder where is the outrage of all those who are living right and are offended at the actions of their peer? Why are they silent? COGIC culture has them bound and gagged.
And when the house collapses, should anyone be surprised?
Strong, but much needed teaching from Dr. Earl Carter during the Northern California 1st Jurisdiction Church Of God In Christ Leadership Forum. Wrong theology is at the root of much of the sexual immorality running rampant in the church. Its a shame preachers like Dr. Carter are not featured speakers at national men’s conferences and convocation where sexual offenders are most likely to gather to preen and troll for victims.
Our thanks to Sis Barbara McHenry for reporting this to us. What a sad and shameful thing for pastors and elders to take advantage of the elderly saints.
Sis McHenry writes:
“I am writing to inform you of a case in Seattle/Tacoma Washington. Pastor Peter DodsonDance or Peter Dance and his brother Elder Michael Dance have finally had their day in court and Peter Dance was sentenced to 2years jail for taking advantage of God’s people through his Mortgage company. He talked my mother into re-financing her home at age 65 creating a second mortgage resulting in her home being foreclosed. While moving her personal belonging it was discovered that he borrowed money from her with a promissory note attached from the proceed. He has not paid the money back as with many of his other victims of predatory lending practices.
Pastor Peter Dodsondance is a preacher in the COGIC church. He along with his brother Elder Michael Dance took advantage of the kindness of church members in Washington State through his Mortgage business. He caused many people to lose their homes, including my mother, Ella McHenry. He talked her in to taking a second mortgage on her property at 65-year-old. His predatory practices have now landed him in jail.”
Video of the COGIC Presiding Bishop and the event “inaugurating” him for a “second term”. COGIC has more and more adopted a political persona with its leadership installment events and governance. Despite the celebration, the Presiding Bishop still has not responded to a letter from an Atlanta law firm stating an intent to sue him and Chairman of the denomination’s Board of Bishop’s for, among other things, federal level racketeering violations.
Breaking: Atlanta law firm to file federal racketeering lawsuit against COGIC Presiding Bishop; Board of Bishops Chairman
Atlanta – Charges of leadership abuses by the administration of Bishop Charles Blake, Sr may have crested with a new volley of potential legal charges. Today Report COGIC Abuse confirmed an Atlanta law firm has sent a letter to the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Presiding Bishop and its Chairman of the Board of Bishops informing them of the intent to file a federal lawsuit alleging racketeering, theft by extortion and several other charges.
Report COGIC Abuse obtained an original copy of the letter sent to Bishop Charles Blake, Sr of Los Angeles and Bishop John Sheard of Detroit dated August 27 by attorneys from the law firm of Changus Campbell LLP on behalf of its clients Bishop Larry Shaw of Savannah, GA and Bishop Thomas Holsey of Dover, DE.
Also named as a potential defendant in the lawsuit is the Church of God in Christ, Inc.
Blake and Sheard are accused of violating O.C.G.A. [Official Code of Georgia Annotated] § 16-14-9 (RICO) . § 16-18-16 (theft by extortion) and and § 16-14-3 (9)(B) (theft chargeable under the laws of the United States). The two are alleged to have engaged in a “pattern of racketeering activity…conspiring together or with others to violate O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4.”
Perhaps the most serious charge is that the Presiding Bishop violated IRS laws by failing to “properly report, identify and pay taxes on revenues generated from offerings within the church”, thus jeopardizing the denomination’s tax exempt status.
The letter cites evidence yet to be revealed accusing Bishop Sheard of offering controversial Atlanta media personality William McCray III (ordained COGIC elder; red glasses) “thousands of dollars” to post defamatory information on his website called Obnoxious Blog. See those reports here and here. McCray has claimed that the Sheards are personal friends. Warning: profanity and graphic descriptions of sexual activity on this site.
The letter also contends that Sheard instructed McCray to post the false and defamatory information prior to 2012 COGIC elections in an attempt to destroy Shaw’s re-election efforts. Bishop Shaw is currently secretary of the denomination’s Board of Bishops. Sheard and Shaw have been in a long standing dispute over Sheard’s unjust persecution of fellow Bishop Thomas Holsey. See our previous coverage here.
It appears this entire situation was supposed to have remained private between the accused parties and the law firm until a September 13 deadline had expired. But sources tell Report COGIC Abuse, Sheard immediately forwarded the letter via email two days later without comment to about 20 select bishops. Its unclear if he consulted with the Presiding Bishop before doing so or had his approval.
We’ve posted a copy of the letter in our letters and documents section. RCA will continue to update this story as pertinent information becomes available.