Reblogged from April 13, 2009 with some minor updates.
Maybe the Presiding Bishop should revisit his question and publish a full commentary in The Whole Truth.
GCM Watch has obtained an original copy of an article written almost 40 years ago by then Elder Charles Blake, now COGIC’s highest episcopal officer. Entitled “Is there hope and help for the homosexual? 1 Cor 6:9-11″, Blake authored the piece for the denomination’s “official organ”, The Whole Truth (Volume VII, No IV, May 1974). The mere fact that he was willing to write and publish such an article during this time suggests that he was deeply concerned about men and women who struggle to overcome homosexuality, without the assistance of the church they were born into. But does the article reveal anything about the Presiding Bishop’s personal perspectives on homosexuality? You might be very surprised reading it. The May issue contained part one, but its not clear whether a “part two” was ever published in the June issue as indicated.
Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions we can’t cite the whole article. Here are some interesting statements made in the article. So please don’t complain about “context” quotes.
“Hope and Help” was written when Blake was 34 years old and just five years after he was appointed pastor of West Angeles in 1969. As the young pastor of a growing church, Blake saw homosexuality as a rising controversy which the church had been negligent in addressing. In his article, he is very adamant about speaking out and educating the COGIC and its leadership.
“…because it [homosexuality] seems to be on the increase, I feel we make the problem more severe and pressing when we ignore it. It does not go away. And by our silence we would appear to condone it or advocate it. If we fail to deal with it then many who might otherwise escape, will find themselves entangled in the midst of its antagonizing complexities.The people perish for lack of knowledge.”
I agree completely that silence about deliverance from homosexuality helps to keep struggling people in bondage. As an example, although I was born in COGIC, I can only remember once my formative 19 years hearing about anyone ever being delivered from homosexuality. That person was a female evangelist named Charlotte Reynolds from Ohio. If I’m not mistaken, she had a testimony in one of COGIC’s “souvenir journals” published for the Women’s Convention in Houston. The lack of role models led me to believe that there was no one who had been delivered and thus in my mind, not a real possibility for me. We can only hope that now that Bishop Blake is at the apex of power in COGIC, he would remember what he wrote and challenge the church and many of his fellow pastors and bishops to openly share their testimony of deliverance from homosexuality.
Apparently anticipating that clergy members in his denomination would reject his bold assertions, Blake rebuked them and challenged them to openly deal with homosexuality “from the pulpit”. There was a broad misapplication of Ephesians 5:3 which caused people to believe such things should never be talked about openly.
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness let it not be once named among you as becometh saints.
In its literal interpretation, these sins should not have been “named” (or mentioned), but only because they should have never have been part of the lifestyle practices of God’s people, not because Paul attempted to standardize some code of silence. In essence, he was demanding a zero tolerance policy. Instead it was said that sexual issues among the saints should never be discussed openly. This is a tragic example of not dividing the Word rightly and its clear what this has led us into.
Most likely, Bishop Blake accurately saw the pulpit as a place of authority in the black church. Unless homosexuality was addressed from THAT place of authority by a person IN authority, it would continue to remain taboo.
“And to those who would feel that this subject should not be dealt with from the pulpit, I would say that the Bible deals with it, God has revealed his mind regarding it and Jesus Christ has provided a means of dealing with it. And thus the preacher who ignores it is either blind of forgetful of his mission.”
Amen! In other words, there remains no excuse for any preacher not to speak out on this issue. Any preacher who ignores the serious and pervasive issue of homosexuality is blind and has forgotten the mission of the preacher of the gospel.
There were more strong words of rebuke for leaders who fail to openly minister truth to homosexuals (caps his):
“Jesus’ death on the cross was for the whole world. And thus the Church of God in Christ must be an extention [sic] of the love of God and the redeeming concern of Christ Jesus to all who need, including the homosexual. And if God has conveyed to us a good word to those involved in sexual variances, then we are guilty of EXTORTION if we keep silent and fail to pass it on.”
Extortion is a strong word, but it is what it is. And unfortunately it appears COGIC leadership didn’t heed these words. Blake himself may have become discouraged fighting against a system so ingrained with ignorance about sexual holiness that at some point he too became complicit. Its no secret in COGIC that ascendancy to the upper levels of leadership comes with a price. In fact, seventeen years later, Blake found himself in the center of one of COGIC’s most infamous homosexual church trials when allegations of widespread homosexual conduct and sexual abuse came to light concerning fellow General Board member John D. Husbands (deceased 1991).
The article also contains a rather controversial section of Blake’s research and commentary on homosexuality and gender issues where he quotes Sigmund Freud as an authority on the subject.
This is the Bishop Blake the church needs now. Almost 40 years have passed since he wrote this and things have only gotten much worse. Homosexuality is running rampant in the church (including the one he presides over), threatens to completely obliterate the social landscape of our nation (including the state he resides in) and has birthed an illegitimate movement of “gay christians”. But Bishop Blake is now silent. Instead of living by what he once openly preached and advocated, he now refers to “official positions” when questioned about the issue.
Although unconfirmed, several individuals have attested that Blake was delivered from homosexuality, even testifying to it at his father’s San Diego church. And gay rumors have persisted among fellow leaders. But in 2003, Bishop Blake completely denied that saying “Homosexuality has never been and will never be my temptation.” If the witness of those who heard him testify is true, it would be such an awesome inspiration for the thousands of young people in COGIC who struggle to overcome homosexuality to know their Bishop is an overcomer and not ashamed of what God has done in his life. Interestingly, the scripture he cited in his article title is the only one which specifically acknowledges not only the reality of freedom from homosexuality through the cleansing blood of Jesus, but also those in the church who have been delivered from homosexuality.
Even as COGIC is set this week for $200 ticket, red carpet inauguration of its newest leader, a man who has based his administration on the hope of a brighter future for COGIC, now seems the best time for him to return to what he once believed.
If you’re interested in reading the entire article, contact The Whole Truth.
With attention mounting, the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination has once again found itself over a barrel with the breaking case of yet another clergy sexual abuse case. The Memphis story is making national headlines including News One and The Christian Post.
After a Church of God in Christ pastor in Memphis was arrested for the sexual abuse of a teenage girl, a family member, the denomination’s chief lawyer issued a press statement. Is this a reversal of COGIC’s long standing policy no comment policy? Or is it a forced response due to Memphis religious leaders calling for the church to suspend the pastor?
In the past, COGIC Presiding Bishop Blake rarely if ever responded to clergy sexual abuse cases. But in 2007, when a case involving Pastor Sherman Allen of Ft Worth, TX picked up media steam due to COGIC inaction, Blake issued a statement saying, “The Church of God in Christ does not condone any inappropriate behavior from any of its representatives, and does not comment on pending litigation against the Church or its representatives until a case has been brought to trial and an official ruling has been made. Until then, Pastor Sherman Allen has been suspended from all national and local pastoral roles and activities within the Church of God in Christ. This is Church policy and we will honor this policy for the case against Allen.”
It appears that the only way COGIC will respond is if there is mounting media scrutiny.
Memphis’ ABC 24 affiliate said it began when detectives with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Sex Crimes unit contacted officers with the Fugitive Apprehension Team December 18th in reference to 48-year-old Michael Bryant who was wanted on a warrant charge of Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure. The investigation reveals that he had been sexually abusing a 16-year-old female for the past two years.
The victim said in the affidavit that she told her mother about the abuse a year ago. The victim said at that point Bryant admitted to the touching, but the case was not turned over to authorities because Pastor Bryant and the mother decided they would “pray that the Lord remove these thoughts from his head.”
Bryant, who is the Pastor at Hour of Restoration COGIC, was located inside the Delta Express gas station at Hickory Hill and Knight Arnold. He is being held on $1 million bond.
Fox News carried a broader story about the fallout. Although Bryant has admitted guilt to Memphis law enforcement, COGIC officials said they have not decided if they will remove Bryant from the pulpit. But that met with backlash from other clergy leaders. Its puzzling as to why this church still stumbles and fumbles over enacting basic disciplinary standards with sexually abusive clergy. But after four years and scores of known offenders, COGIC officials still respond like clueless novices.
Memphis resident and COGIC General Board Member, Bishop Brandon Porter is investigating one of his own pastors after the Pastor Michael Bryant was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual battery by an authority figure. The CP story also identified Bryant as an elder at Greater Community Temple, pastored by Porter.
COGIC’s name and image in Memphis are at risk.
“COGIC and Memphis are as connected as wine and wafer in the city Christian community. COGIC was founded in the Bluff City and it one of the largest Christian denominations in the world. News that one of its pastors was arrested by a Shelby County Sheriff’s sex crimes task force for sexual battery of a teenaged family member stunned loyal supporters.”, said Greg Coy.
The Church’s new legal counsel emailed the following to FOX News 13:
“The Church of God in Christ does not condone and takes a strong stance against sexual misconduct, especially acts targeting minors. Therefore, we are very concerned about the allegations raised against Pastor Bryant. Our local bishop is currently investigating the matter and once his fact finding is complete, the church will respond accordingly. Sexual crimes against children are very serious offenses and we earnestly pray for all of the individuals involved and, in particular, the victim in this matter.” — Uleses C. Henderson, Jr., Office of the General Counsel
“Nobody is above the law,” said Rev. Ralph White, Memphis Ministerial Alliance. “This is a rare occasion, but it does happen and we need to look it closer.
“This is a wake up call for pastors to look at this and nurture our congregations.”
The affidavit presents a disturbing picture of a crime and allegations of inaction based on faith. It says the teenaged victim told her mother in 2012 about the abuse happening repeatedly in Bryant’s home. The document said says the girl’s mother decided not to call police. The teen’s mother and Rev. Bryant “decided they would pray to remove those thoughts from his head.” Other church members were allegedly aware of the abuse but did not report it.
“I think she may say that we her affirmative action, that she did not do anything,” said Caren Nichol, FOX13 News legal analyst. “She prayed but the law may not look at that as sufficient protection.”
Many Mid-South religious leaders told FOX13 News Bryant should either voluntarily resign or be removed as pastor of Hour of Restoration COGIC until this matter is resolved. Nichol said the investigation by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office could be more damaging to COGIC. “It doesn’t matter where it occurred, it matters what they knew,” Nichol said. “If they had some actual knowledge that he some sort of inclination, then they are going to be in trouble.”
Previous Memphis COGIC sexual abuse cases:
2009 - Dwayne Wilson a music minister at St. Mark COGIC was arrested for statutory rape of a 16 year old girl. [source]
2012 – Orlando Wallace an elder at Lakeview Community Temple was arrested and charged with aggravated statutory rape and sexual exploitation of a 15 year old girl. [source]
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?
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.
Some men in the Church of God in Christ seem to be intent on forcing the church back into a chapter of its history appropriately dubbed the “dark period” after the death of founder CH Mason. Across the length and breadth of the church; reports of political wars, leadership abuses and struggles for power have eclipsed the church’s glorious days when its doctrine of sanctification and holiness made it unique.
Holsey vs Blake and Sheard
A growing number of frustrated and angry voices continue to mount against controversial Chairman of the Church of God in Christ Board of Bishops John Sheard of Michigan. We’ve reported before on Sheard’s incompetence, unbridled disregard for COGIC’s rule of law and his inability to lead the denomination’s bishops with integrity. See reports here, here and here.
In what could prove to be the benchmark of COGIC political injustices, the case involving embattled Delaware Bishop Thomas Holsey has stirred up prominent voices in COGIC and the outcome may result in the toppling of Bishop Sheard from power. The sheer punitive nature which has driven Sheard and Bishop Charles Blake to persecute Hosely has shocked some leaders into vocal –and public– opposition.
Bishop Larry Shaw of Georgia has now released a detailed letter accusing Sheard –and by proxy Blake– of the unjust persecution of Holsey. The Delaware bishop who was consecrated and installed by Blake has now become public enemy #1 with Blake and Sheard moving swiftly to strip him of his authority and place among fellow bishops.
According to the letter, Shaw contends: “It is painfully clear that the Chairman of the Board of Bishops has placed himself in direct conflict with the rule of law, order and process as he continues to drag this Board into unnecessary infighting, insignificant scrimmages, political squabbling and a constant power grab by the overly ambitious. He has unilaterally issued verdicts and decisions which continue to bring National embarrassment to this honorable body…furthermore; to many of us it seems that he has allowed himself to be sidetracked by persons who do not wish to protect the future of this great Board of Bishops. “
The letter details plans to demote Holsey despite the fact he had already been tried by a jury of his peers, sentenced and satisfactorily completed all the requirements of his sentencing. (The sentence was declared in November 2010 and completed two years later to the date). In secular court, trying an individual for the same “crime” is called double jeopardy and is illegal. But it seems that COGIC’s leaders suspend basic fairness and instead like Islamic terrorists rush to behead Bishop Holsey from the ecclesiastical heritage he served to obtain.
Shaw, the Board’s secretary, said that Holsey was cleared by a Release Order dated April 2013, rendered by the National Judiciary Board and given to John Sheard. This Judicial order ruled in Bishop Holsey’s favor and allowed him to continue to serve his Jurisdiction as Jurisdictional Prelate without restrictions. This Executive Order was read aloud by Judge Enoch Perry III to the specially called meeting of the Executive Board of the BOB.
But later, under a cloak of secrecy and in violation of COGIC’s constitution, Sheard ordered Holsey retried and demoted. We’ve posted Bishop Larry Shaw’s entire letter under Letters and Documents.
Shaw himself was accused by the family of a boy who was molested by a NC music minister of publicly demeaning them after they sought justice via the legal system. [report]
After numerous ignored written appeals to have their voices heard by COGIC leadership, a small Fort Worth, Texas church who lost its founder, is at its wits end. Now, feeling like they are trapped in an abusive marriage, they are reaching out with their story.
The Forest Hill COGIC sent a letter to controversial Board of Bishop president John Sheard pleading for help with the decision of Bishop [emeritus] J. Neaul Haynes of Dallas. Haynes, they contend is afflicted with dementia and unable to make sound administrative church decisions which are part of the core responsibility of the bishopric. Haynes gave an impassioned speech in the 2012 convocation requesting he be emeritized. See the video of the speech. Haynes stated that while he was “not lacking in passion and committement to the clarity of my heart and mind I hear and feel the sands calling me across the distance of my 81 years of life”
But men can give great speeches in front of crowds. Despite hundreds of people standing around the room, Haynes asked “is there anyone standing in the room besides me?” The church believes that Bishop Haynes’ mental capacity is indeed wavering. Consequently, an additional letter was sent to Sheard.
UPDATE 9:28p EST We have received a complete copy of the Forest Hill Church letter and are replacing the previous incomplete one. This complete letter, addressed to the Presiding Bishop and General Board, detail Bishop Williams’ alleged unsavory disrespect and mistreatment of the founder’s widow and church members. The full text of the letter can be downloaded under Letters and Documents. Here is an excerpt:
Bishop Reginald Lamont Williams who is an Auxiliary Bishop came to the church in a very negative, arrogant and spoke to us in degrading manner. If he is allowed to remain as pastor, this would no doubt mean oppression for our founding widow and the church.
In Bishop Williams’ greeting and introduction of himself as assuming the pastorate of the church, he stated that: He asked if anyone had any questions or anything to say. He went on to say “I know church folk, they will not speak up and say anything but will talk amongst themselves;” when founding Widow Henderson spoke up to say that we have ministers who are capable of preaching or carrying on, he said in a disrespectful way “I don’t need you to say anything Sis. Henderson”.
He spoke of an anniversary service for Elder White and wife, without details of the agreement made between Elder White and the church concerning compensation; he spoke as though we had never shown them appreciation. He stated that he would communicate to Elder Oliver who had been an assistant under Elder White and that he assisted Elder Oliver in getting his ministerial license. He said emphatically that he does not want anyone coming into his office with any concerns. He let us know that he does not recognize or communicate with the head deacon, elders or the board that was already in place under Elder White (as required by the 501c-3 IRS) non-profit status.
He explained the difference between a pastor governed organization or church and a congregational governed organization. He stated emphatically that the Church of God in Christ is a Pastor governed organization.
Compensation: He stated what he expected in the way of compensation. He said that he would accept an offering. $125.00 was taken up the first Sunday he preached and after service he (without recognizing the deacons or board of directors), asked the church secretary to write him a $500.00 check. You can do the math, if we only take in a little more than $800.00 and he takes 500.00 the church will not be able to pay the bills. He asked the members to give $21.00 each and he does not contribute any offerings himself. On Sunday May 19, 2013 he not only received $500.00 but paid another brother from Love Sanctuary COGIC $50.00. This is highway robbery right before our eyes. This lack of integrity and spirit of greed should not be among God’s people.
He was absent one Sunday, did not contact anyone until the last minute. We have to wait until he gets to the church, and then he has the audacity to say he preached the same message at his other church (Love Sanctuary COGIC, Fort Worth, TX). He is not considerate of our church family, comes in making changes without any discussion whatsoever. We are treated as though we have no voice. Needless to say, this is all wrong!
Although numerous members have written to various COGIC officials, this particular letter was written by Sis Martha Kelly a member of the church. Kelly, is to be applauded for not hiding behind anonymous monikers like “concerned member”. Kelly, along with Deacon Adrian Winston are seeking to bring resolution to the situation. Both say what many members of the COGIC have voiced to RCA in the times of church conflicts: leadership is almost always nonresponsive, leaving members without fair and adequate representation. And at the mercy of unjust appointees.
An exclusive two part report
The financial damage left by former COGIC minister Donald Barrett, is massive. If there’s one lesson COGIC should have learned by now its that sexually immoral clergy come with a steep price. The Donald Barrett case, unquestionably, is proof of that.
Last week we published an email by Barrett, now living in the Atlanta area, proclaiming ” The case has been dismissed against me. I am yet a member of the Church of God in Christ, Inc.” But If Barrett is still a member of the Church of God in Christ, the first thing Bishop Charles Blake should do is require him to reimburse the church for hundreds of thousands of dollars lost due to his own admitted sexual immorality with two women in his congregation. Then, his credentials should be permanently revoked.
Barrett’s letter claiming the case against him being dismissed is intentionally misleading. Court documents show the case was dismissed only because of financial settlements with the two plaintiffs. But that may be the least of the damage suffered by the denomination he called home for the last 40 years.
Sex cases cost the church big time. In the aftermath of the legal proceedings, the financial loss was so steep Southern California 2nd Jurisdiction was left reeling and narrowly missed being forced to declare bankruptcy. Besides the $350,000 paid to the women from insurance claims, legal fees totalling $134,ooo pushed the jurisdiction’s finances to the brink. Bishop George McKinney paid $4000 of personal money. Whats more jurisdictional pastors were left with a $34,000 tab from Barrett’s out of control behavior. The jurisdiction still owes over $100,000 in legal fees. Just one man’s ungodly action’s cost the church almost half a million dollars.
You can believe that a portion of that money was from the tithes, offerings, reports given by the saints of Southern California 2nd who had nothing to do with Barrett’s illicit actions. We’ve reported on scores of cases where the COGIC has been left holding the legal bill in the wake of sexual abuse cases.
- In 2010, The Church of God in Christ’s Washington state jurisdictional headquarters at 9201 Pacific Ave was put up for sale after having to pay a woman a million dollars in a lawsuit the church lost in King County Superior Court.
- In another case we reported on in 2011, Illnois 5th Jurisdiction was ordered to pay a 12 year old victim $1.5 million after she was sexually assaulted by Elder Ellis Barlow on a church trip.
How is God pleased with such an incredible waste of financial resources?
Report COGIC Abuse obtained court records detailing the deep financial losses suffered. These documents will be posted in our Letters and Documents section.
The Superior Court of California listed the case settled. To “settle” a case mean to legally end a dispute before the end of a trial. Since no case can be dismissed without a specific reason, omitting the reason for the dismissal is intentionally misleading. The question is why does Barrett want people to think the case was dismissed with no consequences? The settlement was reached Jan 29, 2013 with the two women by defendants Donald and Ruth Barrett, Greater Gospel Center COGIC of San Diego and the New Direction COGIC of Yuma, AZ. The settlement amount was $175,000 per plaintiff. One affidavit revealed that the Barretts filed for bankruptcy in a California court prior to the lawsuit, thus the entire burden for the legal assesments were placed on the two churches named in the suit.
To their credit and perhaps due in some measure to the work of Report COGIC Abuse, COGIC is moving towards seriously closing some of the logistical loopholes which have in past times allowed ungodly men freedom to abuse others under their charge. In another post, we will detail some of the new policy changes as recorded in the General Assembly minutes. Prayerfully, the Donald Barrett case will be the last of these types of wicked and damaging incidents which have cast a pall over a great organization.
Listen to the audio of a COGIC “Review Board” questioning Barrett about his involvement with the two women.
In what appears to be another fox guarding the pentecostal hen-house arrangement, a man who was the lead investigator of the bungled Sherman Allen sex abuse case is now the Chairman of the “Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Committee”. What an arrogant and pompous sounding title considering the littered trail of sexually abused women and children COGIC sex criminals have left behind. Nonetheless, Pastor Gerald Harris was appointed to the post in January by Bishop Charles Blake during the denomination’s Atlanta Leadership Conference.
According to his bio, Harris was “Chief of Security, Church of God in Christ, Inc. undertaking the responsibility of the supervision and management of the National Security Task Force. Elder Harris is the advisor to the COGIC Presiding Bishop with regards to our National Church security.”
But Harris was also is cahoots with dethroned former legal advisor Enoch Perry in the notorious mishandling of the Sherman Allen case. That case arguably became the lightening rod which first drew significant attention to COGIC’s infatuation with harboring, promoting and celebrating sexual abusers in its clergy ranks.
In a sworn deposition given in a Texas courtroom, Perry identified Elder Gerald Harris and Elder Melvin Williams as the sole members of COGIC’s so-called “National Sexual Misconduct Committee”. Later, in the same deposition, he said the men were members of the “National Review Board”. (pg 22 of deposition filed under letters and documents).
The two investigators violated COGIC’s own policy which requires a minimum 5 individuals on an investigating committee of this sort. It also requires that a “detailed report” be filed with the Office of the General Secretary within 6 months of a case being closed. When questioned about this glaring violation, Perry declined to answer if this had been done in the Sherman Allen case. He called the two “investigators” highly skilled in what they do, but Allen under oath said he was never interviewed by either of the two men. It still remains a mystery as to how men with such skill could disregard church policy in such a high level legal matter.
Despite Harris’ colossal failure, Blake promoted him to the position of “special investigator” . Blake did the same with Perry even after a scathing letter revealing his massive incompetence was released by another church official. This was another immaterial peacock position with special window dressing sauce, dreamed up in the mind of the presiding bishop. There was no evidence COGIC needed a “special investigator”. What was there to investigate?
Although there was no external formal or public announcement we could find, Bishop Blake then created a new Investigative Service Department for COGIC. Something like a church CIA department. The man placed in charge of the job: Elder Gerald Harris of Gilroy, CA. Harris’ dubious promotions followed the pattern of rewarding error, misconduct and incompetence by creating fictitious committees to give the impression the person has done something noteworthy. It also helps to keep the administration’s secrets in its inner circle.
We searched but there was no announcement nor information released publicly about what the newly created “Investigative Service Department” does or does not do, so COGIC members can only speculate as to whether the new department includes elements of secrecy. Shouldn’t members know if they could possibly be under investigation?
When it comes to investigating the sexual abuses of COGIC’s clergy (who commit 98% of the known crimes) its almost unbelievable that the presiding bishop would appoint a man with proven incompetence to head a secret committee to deal secretly with the secret sexual sins, crimes and misconduct of its good ole preacha boys club. Who are the members of the committee? When do they meet? When have they met previously? Women and children comprise 98% of known victims. Are women involved in the decision making process? If so who are they? Where are the rules, procedures and policies governing the sex abuse committee? How does the average member contact them and get access to their qualifications. Why are the members kept secret? Inquire if you desire, search if you may and seek but you wont find this phantom committee.
Bishop Blake has ensured that nothing substantial will ever occur to rectify problems with sexual abuse in his denomination. He does that through manipulative window dressing, creating phantom committees and appointing insider heads to oversee the fake committees. If there was a legitimate committee, they would be investigating Charles Brown, the pedophile bishop who still jumps, shouts, speaks in tongues, pastors a church and sits on the convocation platform. They would be investigating claims made against FE Perry, Jerry Wayne Macklin, Harrison Hale and a crop of other CURRENT church officials. Just like they feigned ignorance and claimed no responsibility with Bishop John Husbands , Sherman “Rev Spanky” Allen and scores of others on the record, they will continue to do the same no matter what evidence exists against one of their own. Its all for the glory of COGIC’s name, image and assets. People are just expendable, collateral damage to keep up the “glory” of the church’s image.
Its a sad and tragic day for sexual abuse victims in the Church of God in Christ.