COGIC removes Pastor Erik Cooper for sexual immorality
In a surprising break from its previous struggles with sexually immoral pastors in the ranks, the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination today issued a strongly worded statement about the removal of one its Arizona pastors while reiterating its sometimes nebulous sexual abuse policies.
The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) said that reports to its national office prompted them to investigate the “…alleged lewd conduct and inappropriate sexual acts alleged to have been committed by Pastor Erik M. Cooper, of Phoenix, Arizona, with an adult female church member. “
Since this was no crime, the church in essence must bear the burden of following biblical truth and holding leaders accountable with consequences.
Pastor DL Foster, who has monitored and reported on issues of sexual immorality and crimes committed by denominational clergy members since 2010, praised the church for what he called a “strong and biblical response”.
“The statement really is commendable for two reasons. It shows that COGIC leadership is rethinking its previously self-wounding policy of silence and it sends a signal to other hidden offenders to change their ways voluntarily or get confronted. “, he said. “RCA definitely has worked hard to bring more openness and a more biblically defined approach to dealing with the unrepentant sexual sins of leaders.”
Its comforting to legitimate victims for the church to acknowledge them in its public discourse about clergy sexual misconduct. The Cooper statement did just that. “Ultimately, this policy outlines ways in which to address the specific needs of the victim(s) and the perpetrator(s) in such a way that the good of all will be met.”
Cooper, pastor of Dominion Harvest Christian Church in Phoenix, had resigned after being confronted about the accusations.
“Upon presentation of these accusations to Pastor Cooper, he submitted his resignation and official separation from all responsibilities within the Church of God in Christ (“COGIC”). This includes his local church, district, the Arizona jurisdiction, and the National Church.
The Church of God in Christ has accepted Pastor Cooper’s resignation and has taken steps to cancel and nullify his COGIC credentials, of every kind and description, including his ministerial license, his ordination, his appointment as pastor, and his membership in the Church of God in Christ.”
Cooper appears to have been a somewhat well known “evangelist” which might have prompted the public statement by COGIC.
Interestingly, the COGIC statement didn’t say if Cooper admitted guilt or that he repented then resigned, just that he resigned. That could explain why the church took a slightly harsher approach to removing him from office and nullifying his membership. Gal 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
If a person refuses to acknowledge their sin through repentance which could lead to restoration, the church should take the necessary steps to ensure such a person can no longer represent the organization.