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.
The undercover sex wolves in COGIC are NOT going to like this.But COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake deserves some much needed praise for putting the sword to sexual sins during his address at COGIC’s 64th International Women’s Convention in Louisville this past week. The teaching is masterful and befitting instruction from the office of the Presiding Bishop especially in times like these when adultery, fornication, homosexuality and sexual manipulation sins are cresting IN the church.
Not only did Bishop Blake methodically hit the biblical, moral and physical consequences of said sexual sins, he laid out factual statistics as well.
Now, if he would just do a repeat at the Men’s Conference. Watch all three excerpts below.
Report COGIC Abuse, in partnership with I Am My Brothers Keeper Christian Advocacy Council, held Open Forum Discussion on Victims Advocacy Saturday, April 5th. The Forum was well attended and lasted for 2.5 hours. You can listen to the audio of the event by clicking here (Part 1, introductions and presentation by Pastor DL Foster) and here (Part 2, concluding remarks by Pastor DL Foster). Segments 3-5 of the event are available at Dunamis Word Blog.
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]
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?
Report COGIC Abuse today received confirmation that the Bishop of Alabama 1st Jurisdiction has suspended a married superintendent who carried on a six year adulterous relationship from office pending further investigations. Read our August 1st open letter to Bishop Meadows.
Bishop O. L. Meadows’ letter, dated August 5th stated in part, “Upon receiving of this letter you are suspended from the pulpit of your churches and the responsibility of District Superintendent until this matter comes before the Council of Pastors and Elders.”
RCA praises Bishop Meadows’ judicious handling of this situation in seeking to end the mockery of God’s people by those who do not walk worthy of their calling . The pastor, who supervised another church in a Mississippi jurisdiction had previously been forced to remove the name “Church of God in Christ” from his church name due to sexually immoral actions unrelated to the Alabama case.
In addition, RCA has learned that the pastor –whose name we are withholding at this time– held what was described as a “near violent” members’ meeting over his impending removal from the church.