Just a week after Report COGIC Abuse published the story of COGIC Pastor Frederick Smith and allegations of financial malfeasance, misrepresentation on a legal document and gross sexual immorality , it appears that Bishop Brandon Porter has taken some action against the pastor and church.
The screenshot of the website taken before and after the report shows Smith and New Life Holiness church now removed from the official jurisdictional website which lists its member pastors and churches.
Its unclear at this point whether this action is to be viewed as punitive or evasive. Neither Porter nor Smith’s immediate supervisor Supt Linwood Dilliard (also president of COGIC International Youth Department) have made any public statements although the situation has received widespread attention. Has Smith been booted from the denomination? If so, it would seem to verify all the allegations against him.
Has Smith been put on lay low status until the controversy dies? If so, it could indicate his leaders are avoiding dealing with the obvious breaches to COGIC’s policy and doctrine.
Covering or Coverup?
How much about Smith’s sexual proclivities did Porter and Dillard know and when did they know it? Is this situation like many others in COGIC where even though leadership is aware of the serious moral and ethical failings of its pastors, they ignore it in their quest to build district and jurisdictional clout within the denomination? Or ignore it because a person has a position and can deliver emotional orations like deceased Bishop JD Husbands?
Records we found show that Smith initially began his COGIC career as a member of a district under the late Bishop JO Patterson, Jr as early as 2007. At some point, he transferred to the Tennessee Central Jurisdiction.
Serious sexual immorality charges emerge on Memphis COGIC pastor; no response from Linwood Dilliard or Bishop Brandon Porter
Serious charges of sexual immorality and possible financial malfeasance by a Memphis pastor have emerged but so far there’s been no response from the pastor’s immediate denominational supervisor nor his bishop.
Last week, popular Memphis “shock jock” Thaddeus Matthews made public information given to him about Pastor Frederick Smith of New Life Holiness Church alleging the pastor paid for numerous sexual encounters with another man.
Matthews published a profanity laden letter sent to him by church members who say someone placed it on their car windshields in the church’s parking lot. The anonymous writer alleges Pastor Smith initially picked him up and paid him $100 for sex. After that, the two met frequently for the same. Due to the graphic language of the letter, Report COGIC Abuse has chosen not to repost it.
The website of Tennessee Central Jurisdiction lists Smith and the church as members of the Memphis Southeast District under Supt Linwood Dillard.
In addition to the charges of gross sexual immorality, Matthews alleges that Smith lied or misrepresented New Life Holiness’s affiliation with the Church of God in Christ. An official bankruptcy document filed in 2012 with the Western District of Tennessee and signed by Smith identifies the church as a member of the Church of the Nazarene. But Report COGIC Abuse found a 2007 JO Patterson Memorial District Calendar which lists Smith and church as members.
Smith’s activities became public after he filed a report with Memphis police alleging he had been robbed, beaten and his wallet stolen. The incident happened around 930p on May 17th. Smith claimed he was at the Harbor Island Apartments because he thinking of moving there when a young black male came up behind him and struck him in the face, took his keys and wallet but not the car and ran.
Police arrested 22 year old Hezekiah Webb who admitted to the incident. Smith refused to press any charges against Webb. Webb now alleges the scuffle took place because Smith attempted to get sex from him.
Its not clear whether Smith is still operating as pastor of the church.
Report COGIC Abuse launched on the birthday of COGIC founder Bishop CH Mason to highlight the need for holiness emphasis on sexual integrity among leaders
Charles Harrison Mason, undoubtedly one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century, was born September 8, 1866 just outside Memphis, Tennessee and later founded what has become the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination.
The church he left upon his death in November 1961 has changed. Greed, avarice, pride, infighting, division and sexual immorality have darkened the spiritual legacy while “the show” of church continued unabated.
Because of growing incidents of sexual abuse of women and children by church leaders, and the coverup of those crimes, Report COGIC Abuse was launched 5 years ago. The site’s main goal is to empower the people of COGIC with reliable information, resources and a grass roots friendly instrument to fight the culture of silence and inaction which emboldens sexual predators to continue their devastation upon innocent men, women and children. We believe Bishop Mason would not have stood by silently in the face of such grave abuses of someone’s sexual sanctity. The site also raises up the profile and plight of victims and the families who are often quickly pushed to the side and forgotten.
We’re thankful, grateful and humbled by the changes that have been enacted since Report COGIC Abuse began its mission five years ago. But sadly, we must continue exposing wolves, fighting predators and crying aloud until victory is won.
Rest in peace Bishop Mason.
HOUSTON – Some members of the Williams Temple Church of God in Christ in Houston say that they are being bullied, threatened and even physically attacked by a woman who serves as a National Trustee of the denomination. And neither the pastor, bishop or national church has responded to any of their cries for support and justice.
Its a sad situation to report but when one looks at those in authority, it becomes very clear why little has been done to reel in Cari V. Barnes’ from attacking fellow church members.
Williams Temple was once a spiritual crown jewel COGIC congregation with a glorious history. Founded in 1919, the church saw several storied pastors, including Bishop CH Nelson and Bishop Robert Woodard, Sr. lead it to prominence in the 3rd Ward of central Houston. A 2 million dollar complex was built in 1989. When Bishop Woodard, Jr. died in 2001, Williams Temple’s membership hovered at over 1,000. Now, the church is a shell of its former self, having lost over 75% of its members, much of it a reaction to the sexual abuse arrest and scandal of its current pastor.
In December 2007, the church fell into the grasp of Bishop Charles Brown who was caught up in a storm of controversy after 3 female members of his family accused him of molesting them as children. After being arrested, Brown was removed from his position in the denomination but then quickly “reinstated” once the sexual abuse case was dismissed on a legal technicality.
Since Brown took control, according to church members, the congregation has suffered greatly. Cari Barnes is a product of the confusion and discord controlling the church now.
Barnes is granddaughter of the late Texas Women’s Supervisor Victoria Barnes and her husband the late Titus, Sr, a successful funeral magnate, trustee and deacon at Williams Temple. She was elected to the national church’s Trustee Board in 2012.
Documents obtained by Report COGIC Abuse show that Barnes’ out of control behavior at the church prompted complaints to be filed with the Houston Police Department, jurisdictional Bishop Rufus Kyles (see here for another Kyles legal controversy), and to Bishop Charles Brown but thus far, no corrective actions have been taken against Barnes.
According to a letter dated Aug 8, 2011 from Deacon Weldon Meeks, a former trustee who’s been a member for 33 years, to Bishop Kyles, Barnes used profanity and physical assault towards him in the church office after he asked another member about a check signature.
“You [the other member] don’t have to explain nothing to him”! I was not talking to you and you go to Hell, you go to Hell, you is [sic] a ignorant as Hell and you go to Hell! *sshole, that [sic] what you do go to Hell! Meeks said Barnes told him to “get the hell out of my way” as she “elbowed” him in passing.
Another undated letter to the church’s trustee board from its finance manager said Barnes accosted her openly in church in front of other saints and youth, loudly accusing her of attempting to sabotage relationships and deny compensation to a family member.
On another occasion, the finance manager wrote that Barnes confronted her because an announcement wasn’t read. Barnes told Bishop Brown to fire the finance manager and Brown did so.
“Cari Barnes consistently and constantly abuses and misrepresents the power entrusted to her by the congregation of Williams Temple COGIC, Inc. and is an embarrassment to the office of Trustee. I am sending my documented proof at this time, because previously nothing would be done about her out of control behavior by Bishop Brown. Now that we have new leadership whether it is temporarily or not, I am sending my statement so that a true picture of occurrences can be conveyed.”
On June 21st, Barnes was involved in yet another altercation in the church office with Deacon Robert Price. According to Price’s complaint sent to Bishop Brown, Price says after he refused to give Barnes a receipt she demanded, she “struck him in the back of the head and jumped on his back.”
Brown acknowledged receipt of the incident the next day writing in an email, “Robert and Cari
I am sorry to hear of this unfortunately [sic] incident between the two of you. I will set a meeting with you and resolve this problem. I will contact both of you for a time to meet! Thanks!”
Its unknown whether this meeting ever occurred.
Admittedly, internal church conflicts never benefit anyone. If Williams Temple is to stop itself from sliding into mausoleum status, it will have to resolve these conflicts once and for all. Perhaps part of the resolution is putting a leader in place that has the moral authority to bring peace and discipline offenders of the peace.
Update on a story RCA first reported here. A Las Vegas jury found Pastor Billy McCurdy not guilty of lewdness charges after a trial in 2013. KSNV 3 Las Vegas said the case was decided mainly on a strange retraction by one of the accusers.
“For more than two years, a pastor has lived with accusations of sexual assault involving two young men at Revival Temple Church.
On Thursday, Billy McCurdy heard the words he’s been waiting for — not guilty. The charges could have meant life in prison. The accusations came in late 2010. But then, one of those men recanted to News 3. The transcript of that interview was read to the jury — a strange but pivotal part of the case. McCurdy continues to serve at Revival Temple Church. On Friday, he will be there — with a different message: “It’ll be jubilee, we can celebrate, our liberation, our freedom,” McCurdy said. McCurdy says he is happy to move forward but has lost so much — more than two years of strife and a daughter who, he says, passed away from an overdose as she unable to live with the stress of the trial.”
But a detractor quickly set up a facebook page asserting that evidence was withheld.
“I am creating this page, to allow the public to know the truth, the truth about Billy E. Mccurdy. Billy Mccurdy was recently found not guilty on many sex charges that he faced concerning two EXmembers of Revival Temple. What the public does not know is that, much of the evidence against Billy Mccurdy was kept from the investigation and trial to help Billy Mccurdy go free. Billy Mccurdys life time partner, as stated by Billy himself, Rodney K. Chaney who is a deacon of Revival Temple and Senior Vice President of Bank of Las Vegas also helped to cover up the truth. Rodney Chaney assisted Mccurdy to help invite young men over late at night and Billy Mccurdy would engage in sex with them. One young man was even paid to leave the state after stating that he got what he wanted from them.”
Its unclear whether McCurdy is still functioning as a credentialed COGIC pastor.
Pastor Wayne Bass, Sr. of New Haven, CT, son of Bishop Joseph E. and Mary Bass wrote on his facebook page that the ” Almighty positioned our church at the vanguard of the Pentecostal-Holiness movement in America. However, we have long since abandoned our roots and departed from our destiny.” Many others believe that as well but do not have the courage to voice it.
Bass was a lifelong member of the Church of God in Christ and in ministry since 1967. He and his wife served as long-term missionaries in South Africa. That’s something you wouldn’t expect from a man who holds two degrees from Yale University, along with extensive studies at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.
Bass’ four page, open letter style monologue is both a heartbreaking but also a frightening portrait of what the corporate church has become. Apart from infrequent bouts with “shouting and dancing” and harkenings to its historical legacy, the Church of God in Christ is no more.
“Despite frequent and urgent warnings, the CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST has gradually morphed into an organization that can now be aptly described as the poster child for PERSONAL-AMBITION-RUN-AMUCK. One can scarcely dialogue with those who seek to scale its ecclesiastical ladder without being queried as to the quality and quantity of one’s personal participation, e.g. one’s official positions held within the hierarchy of the church. This degree of abject carnality constitutes a death knell to our divine calling and anointing.”
Bass sees the problem as systemic. Much like the injustice of clergy sexual abuse we’ve consistently documented, other “fruit” has manifested itself and there seems to be no collective will to self correct.
“A grave, systemic problem exists. Something is terribly wrong. We have a deadly cancer in the body and we desperately need to identify and excise it. Indeed, we ourselves have created a self-perpetuating, hierarchical monstrosity, characterized by rugged individualism, power grabbing and unabashed greed. To cite one crystal clear example, our financial system is ineffective, nonsensical, and even corrupt. Consider this: How can we ever hope to FUND THE MINISTRY MISSION OF OUR CHURCH when we are so intent on siphoning off funds to “bless” those who hold leadership positions? It is important to note that such funds are frequently raised on the backs of those at or near the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.”
Its hard to spot idolatry when you are maintaining the mountain of religious activities that look and feel like God, but a spiritual eye can see it. Idolatry has crept into the COGIC psyche and sprouted roots.
“Along with these untoward attitudes, a not-so-subtle FORM OF IDOLATRY has systematically infiltrated our ranks, and even our worship services. The creature is now exalted above The Creator, and it is now an integral component of our collective consciousness. However, we must be ever mindful that ALMIGHTY GOD will never brook or tolerate ‘lesser gods,’ be they animate or inanimate. While I love and respect the late Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. (our first elected Presiding Bishop), he made one grave error, i.e. allowing one egocentric man [we all know who he is]* to radically rewrite and revise our heritage – changing us from what we once were and transforming us into pretentious and highfaluting versions of our former selves. If Bishop Mason could see our present-day pomp and pageantry, our esteemed Founder would roll over in his grave, if possible.”
When I grew up in the church, if you left COGIC, you were viewed —and treated— as a backslider. Not in a good way. You were shunned and talked about because you left holiness. Because we anointed ourselves “the greatest church in the world”, we were taught there was nowhere to go but down if you left. I pray that COGIC has educated itself enough to know that the Body of Christ isn’t restricted solely to the denominational confines of a 5-6 million member black pentecostal church. That would be like the Jehovah’s Witnesses 144,000 lie.
Bass seems to anticipate there will be some of that. “It will be quite easy for some to dismiss my words as the ramblings of a cynical, unwise, or embittered man.”, he writes.
Bass’ letter should in no way taken to mean that every member and officer of the Church of God in Christ has become a baal-worshipping heathen. He’s not saying that, but he is grieving over the purity of what once was is no more. And something wicked has taken its place. We grieve with him and praise him for moving on as the Lord gives him grace to do.
Read Elder Wayne Bass’ entire letter in Documents and Letters section.
*Bass is referring to Bishop J. Delano Ellis, who is credited with bringing the “high church” look to COGIC’s ecclesiastical aristocracy.
Houston lawsuit accuses Bishops Blake, Kyles, Perry and Brown of over one million dollars property theft
HOUSTON, TX – A lawsuit being adjudicated in Harris County Texas’ 133rd District Court alleges that COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles Blake, Sr., Texas Southeast First Jurisdiction Bishop Rufus Kyles, Bishop Charles Brown II and newly minted bishop Enoch Perry, III acting on behalf of the denomination’s General Board, were responsible for the theft of over 1 million dollars of intellectual properties and items from a church location [source]. The Church of God in Christ, Inc. is also a named defendant.
The plaintiffs Dr. Patricia Brown-Johnson and Interfaith Interdenominational Ministries, Inc say that in 2005 Bishop Kyles accepted Brown-Johnson as a member of his jurisdiction under a special program due to COGIC’s prohibition of female pastors. Brown-Johnson was to be given the designation of “Special Alliance Supervisor”. Kyles later offered to buy a Baytown, Texas church owned by Brown-Johnson and while in possession of the property, sold or allowed to be sold equipment and other items not contained in the agreement. The agreement went sour when Kyles refused to close on the property.
When Brown-Johnson sought to get the items returned through church leadership channels, she was asked by Presiding Bishop GE Patterson (deceased) and then General Secretary AZ Hall (deceased) not to pursue criminal charges and that the church would recompense the losses. Church leaders wanted to keep the issue private and handle it “internally”.
Brown-Johnson stated in the lawsuit that she contacted the General Board and was instructed to provide extensive documentation because [she was told by Enoch Perry] Bishop Kyles was going to be “defrocked” over the incident and a trial was to be held. She was repeatedly assured by GB bishops that her property would be returned and she would be compensated for any unreturnable losses. Based on these assurances, she did not file criminal or civil suits.
But after providing the evidence to the satisfaction of Enoch Perry, Charles Blake, COO Charles Brown and other defendants, the evidence disappeared. Brown said the items would be returned after Blake reviewed them. Documents and program she had written and copyrighted later resurfaced as COGIC related documents.
In March 2010, she received a letter from Enoch Perry stating that nothing would be compensated or returned. The good ole boy bishop’s club circled the wagons and begin denying that Brown-Johnson was ever given any assurances of compensation or justice. Brown-Johnson subsequently filed suit.
Bishop Rufus Kyles never responded to the lawsuit and never showed up in court. In a July 2012 judgment the court found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $900,000 in damages plus court costs and interest until the amount was paid. COGIC’s current legal strategy is to get the case dismissed. The next hearing on that is April 21st at 11 am. You can read the actual lawsuit and judgment under Letters and Documents.
“My Spiritual Heritage has been stolen from me”
An Education specialist with a degree from Sam Houston State University, Brown-Johnson told Report COGIC Abuse, “My Spiritual Heritage has been stolen from me!”
I trusted the men of God, Bishop Charles Blake, Bishop Charles Brown, Judge Enoch Perry and now deceased Bishop Chandler Owens. [They said] No matter how long it would take, Interfaith church and I would be compensated for all losses.
My true proofs copyright venues placed in their hands are worth $1,000,000.00 apiece. They have four. Even in a witness protection program with my life under threat, special alliances were made for compliance with request made by the General Board through Judge Enoch Perry.
I need to recover my losses so my children and my life can move forward. Interfaith church can move forward.
Judge Enoch Perry and the IRS have Kyles’ original police reports. We only want what is due us rightfully. I did not have Bishop Kyles and pastors arrested per the General Board’s request because they wanted to settle within the church. The witness protection and life protection program had to be handled in a way that my true location was not disclosed from 2004-2011. Bishop Chandler Owens did everything he could to resolve this until he became ill and passed.”
Nonbiblical COGIC Bishops
These are inglorious acts on the part of COGIC’s leadership. However, as we have reported for many years the facts of this case come as no surprise. The defendants in this case are no strangers to Report COGIC Abuse. Under Enoch Perry’s disastrous reign as chief legal advisor, COGIC leadership has employed unscrupulous tactics against its own unwitting members. As they did with Brown-Johnson, false promises are made to avert court cases only to later capitulate. All four have been involved in numerous cases of sexual, judicial and administrative abuses in the last five years.
- Bishop Blake – Read here, here and here
- Bishop Charles Brown – Read here, here, here and here
- Bishop Rufus Kyles – Read here and here
- Bishop Enoch Perry – Read here, here and here.
The bible is clear and there’s no shadow of turning in its qualifying instructions for the man who would be bishop. Titus 1: 7-8 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (our bold).
When it comes to the flesh and sex, a bishop must exercise self control and discipline. Otherwise, with the magnitude of his influence and the attraction of his persona, his charisma will bring him numerous opportunities to indulge himself sexually and financially. If he does not exercise due diligence in his sexual life (apart from his wife or 100% celibate if single) he will endanger the flock and invite the same spirits to have free reign among those under his jurisdiction.
Secondly, 1 Timothy 3:7 adds this qualifier: Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
A bishop cannot have a bad character/reputation report. This doesn’t include false accusations, it means that there must not be a consistent cloud of suspicious/ungodly/unseemly behavior following him due to his own actions. This extends even to the unsaved. They must not be able to “spot” the bishop’s life inasmuch as his ethics is concerned.
If this is not valued, the bishop will “fall into reproach by giving way to the excesses of his former life [of sin]. Apparently, and with a preponderance of evidence, these COGIC bishops have no resemblance to what is shown in scripture.