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.”
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This time, charges of perjury and what could amount to receiving stolen property have been aired, implicating the Church of God in Christ’s top leaders including its Presiding Bishop and 1st Assistant Presiding Bishop.
In response, threats of lawsuits and legal challenges have surfaced after Holsey sent a letter to Board of Bishop’s Chair John Sheard, demanding assistance in recouping loans from his jurisdiction totaling over $700,000. The largest indebtor?: Bishop PA Brooks who is accused of receiving almost $200,000 of some four million dollars of “missing money”. In response, both Blake and Brooks have released open letters of defense against the charges.
Brooks wrote to Delaware jurisdictional leaders that Bishop Blake had removed Holsey for insubordination and even cited Titus 1:7 requiring that a bishop be blameless as biblical justification for the removal from office.
“As of July 16th, 2010, due to Bishop Thomas Holsey [sic] refusal to cooperate with the Episcopal Oversight Committee (EOC), having no other remedy to protect the best interest of the Jurisdiction but to place interim leadership; pursuant to page 5, paragraph (a) and pages 17 and 18, of the Official Manual, over the Jurisdiction. As noted, “Given the gravity and the emergency nature of the situation”, Bishop Blake has appointed me as the interim Jurisdictional Bishop until such time things are stable or other leadership protocols are defined an [sic] implemented.” [source]
Holsey later faced a trial of his peers, but according to some sources the verdict was overturned. Then in July, a letter from a group claiming to represent the Board of Bishops demanded Bishop Blake cease from “degrading” Holsey’s character. An intervention was staged during the 2012 AIM convention in Birmingham.
Shouldn’t a bishop be blameless?
With all of the accusations, charges, counter-charges and legal threats, wouldn’t such actions disqualify a bishop according to 1 Timothy 3:2? A bishop must be blameless, it reads. By blameless, it should be understood that sinless perfection is not the standard, but rather that a bishop’s life should be above reproach before consecration and remain above reproach after consecration. If Holsey is in violation of Titus 1:7 and 1 Timothy 3:2, wouldn’t Blake and Brooks both be equally at blame until the matter is free and clear? Neither’s episcopal career has met the “above and beyond reproach” plumbline test.
All letters associated with this story can be found under the Letters and Document section.