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Expose letter predicts financial doomsday for COGIC

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

In a seven page letter with almost 4000 words[pdf], the Chief Operating Officer for the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination has accused the church’s top legal man of a plethora of legal, ethical and financial improprieties. The letter, bearing the signature block of Elder James Smith, in effect predicted a looming financial doomsday for the Church of God in Christ and laid the blame at the feet of its  “incompetent” counsel  Enoch Perry III.

The contents of the undated letter was sent anonymously to GCM Watch and Report COGIC Abuse on Monday by a “concerned cogic saint on the east coast”. The letter was also sent to a blog which writes on clergy issues but with no identification of the sender. Its unclear if any other new media outlets received the information. The letter is addressed to the Church of God in Christ’s General Board and copied to its General Secretary.

While GCM Watch was in the process of verifying the authorship and authenticity of the letter, we were informed that Smith —in a telephone conversation with Atlanta-based blogger Kevin Oliver— refused to deny or affirm that he was the letter’s author.

“I told him that we received a letter purportedly written by him. I told him it was posted on PimpPreacher.com and asked him if he were aware of it and if he could confirm he is the author”

“He told me point blank, “I don’t do blogosphere. I don’t who you are or where you’re from and I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment on something I haven’t seen.”

“I then told him that “the blogosphere” is not what it once was, and that a lot of people get their news and information from blogs. I then asked him if I could have his email address so I could send him the article, or if he’d like to go to the site. He again stonewalled me, saying that he had “no interest in discovery” and that it would be inappropriate for him to comment.

Excuse me, but how juvenile and trifling can a person be? Elder Smith, (and yes I know youre reading this blog, just like you read several others)  if you didn’t write the letter, just  be a real man and say “no that letter was not written by me it is a forgery”. Or if you wrote it, just say, yes I wrote the letter.  With duplictious “leaders” like Smith in place in COGIC its no wonder why these the church is falling into darkness.

Oliver said that although he informed Smith the letter was spreading across the internet,  Smith continued railing against “blogs”. Incidentally, GCM Watch was told by a source within COGIC that Presiding Bishop Blake had sent out a warning to church leaders to stay away from blogs on the internet.

Old news

This is no surprise to anyone has read GCM Watch’s comprehensive reports on COGIC clergy sexual abuse and followed our documentation at Report COGIC Abuse. This is old news.  Here’s a review for those who have been vacationing on the planet Krylonogic for the past three years.

Surveying COGIC’s  Justice System

Under oath, COGIC legal counsel Enoch Perry makes stunning admissions

Is COGIC’s “zero tolerance” policy on clergy sexual abuse a failure?

Did Enoch Perry, COGIC’s top lawyer, reveal coverup strategy?

Enoch Perry deposition during Sherman Allen trial

COGIC leader surveys the range of abuses in the denomination

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

A Peoria based COGIC leader has posted what is probably one of the most extensive surveys of the cross culture of abuse within the nation’s largest black pentecostal denmonination.

Pastor (Superintendent) Harvey Burnett wrote on his Dunamis Word blog that “many saints” had contacted his office about  the  “perception is that we, as a church, must stem a tide  of secularism and political and social liberalism and elitism.”

In response, he issued an urgent call to attention of the church’s espiscopal leadership, namely its powerful, but in the eyes of some, silent bishops. Burnett, a 27 year member of the church, called upon concerned bishops to make advocacy of the people a central platform. The church will be facing elections in 2012.

“Are there officials, especially Bishops, yet within the church that will undertake agenda that will benefit ALL members and factions of the church? This is the question that should be posed and one that I believe is deserving of an answer. Now, to be fair, some of the issues we face are issues based on individual and personal accountability or lack thereof. Then on the other hand public trouble is generated by a few who are visible because they do and allow what the church, especially the Grand Ole COGIC,  is not supposed to do and allow.”

This blog was created to give voice to the victims of abuses as well as document those abuses. It is a void the leadership of the church has repeatedly refused to acknowledge or take substantial measures to resolve. Some, including a former member of the church’s highest judicial department believe is due to the lopsided balance of power given to bishops.

Bishop Samuel P. Nesbitt wrote a scathing report on the church’s constitution which he called “perverse” and unbiblical. Nesbitt and was a dissenting voice on a shocking case of land-property abuse in Witchita, Kansas. 

With the passing of former Presiding Bishop CD Owens, Burnett reflected on the state of the church and its seeming unconcern with injustices committed by fellow members of the clergy.

“Now, that Bishop Owens has passed and we consider and reflect upon the condition of our church and what the 2012 general election will bring, I wonder are there any Bishops within this church who will undertake a platform and effort to correct the wrongs that have continued for so long from the highest levels of the church? Are there yet leaders with the nerve to put themselves in the fray and demand transparency, accountability and a reconstitution and strengthening of the General Assembly as church law requires? Are there leaders who will stand out and demand that this church stand up for those who have been victimized and in favor of churches who have had their rights stripped by leaders who are greedy, flesh centered and misdirected?”

Sexual abuses and deception about the church’s finances continue to plague the administration of current Bishop Charles Blake. Despite promising a new season of fiscal openness and accountability, Blake has shut the door on such promises in relation to clergy sexual abuse.  Both Blake and his chief legal advisor Enoch Perry have intentionally concealed or downplayed multiple major sexual abuse lawsuits against the denomination.

“These statements, were obviously made with a certain hubris and an intent to seemingly dumb-down the issue. the commentary in the minutes “(Who made the comment? and that one singe lawsuit has the potential to bankrupt the church.)” was obviously inserted to not only make a point but to sneer at those who brought contrary opinions about the litigation that the church was and is experiencing regarding these cases. Certainly this was an effort to overs-peak those who ask questions and offer dissent regarding the handling of victims and assets as a result of  sexual abuse cases. The problem is that the statements are misleading as they do not reflect that during the same time frame, COGIC had settled the lawsuit referenced above paying out over $1.5 million and causing the demise of Illinois 5th Jurisdiction. What seems to add insult to injury is that neither do the comments  reflect the other pending lawsuit that COGIC was in the process of fighting which was originally filed in 2007 two years BEFORE the comments made by church officials. That lawsuit was based on the past and multiple sexual abuses and sins of the late Pastor Charles Smith of Seattle, Washington.”

Even as clear evidence proving that the leadership has been duplictious and disengenous with the sacred offices they have been elected to represent, the denial and damage continues. Report COGIC Abuse will document it all until victory is won.

Read the entire summation of Pastor Harvey Burnett’s post Calling out to ALL COGIC Bishops

Other voices on COGIC clergy sexual abuse

March 15, 2011 7 comments

Whether the powers that rule the Church of God in Christ are listening or not, its people are speaking. Decades of hidden, willful sin is festering right under the surface of COGIC’s grandiose facade.  

Does COGIC have a moral problem or a criminally moral problem?  Both are outside the pale for a so-called Christian church unless of course apostasy is being revealed in a different form.

The Sherman Allen case which broke in 2007 has not yet come to trial, but the church’s sorry, passive response to it will serve as a noose once the legal challenges against it begin to move. The story was covered  fairly well by The Dallas Observer and provided probably one of the only outlets for people to seek out the truth. Certainly they had come to expect their own church was not going to inform them. The Sherman Allen case has come to represent all that has been unknown and perhaps all that will be revealed in time.

I read with much interest the comments of those who voiced their exasperation, frustration and anger at COGIC’s stone faced approach to sexual abuse in its midst. Reading the comments (with quite a few from COGIC members) answered  many questions raised here.

Here are examples of those who noted the issues. Keep in mind these comments were posted two years ago and here we are today asking the same questions but facing the same cold-hearted non-response.  Same situation, different faces.

How could any organization refuse to address such a rotten cancer in its midst? COGIC arrogantly calls itself “the greatest church in the world” but dont be fooled, this is a church in name only.

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.  ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.  ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. Rev 3:1-4 NASB

Researcher seeking interviews with abuse survivors

March 9, 2011 Leave a comment

A university researcher is seeking interviews with victims of clergy sexual abuse for a master thesis paper.

Carolyn Waterstradt, M.A. of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI told Report COGIC Abuse that she is conducting research on how survivors of clergy abuse heal spiritually after the ordeal.

If you are interested, you may read the following and contact Ms Waterstadt for further information. Report COGIC Abuse is not connected with this project and cannot respond to any questions regarding it.

“I am currently looking for women to participate in my research who were sexually abused by their clergyperson after the age of 18. I am asking that the offending clergyperson is/was a Master degreed member of the clergy. A Master degreed member of the clergy usually has graduated from seminary or divinity school and in many denominations a Master’s degree is a prerequisite to ordination. I would be happy to help potential participants clarify if the offending clergyperson holds a Master’s degree.

The study will be conducted by phone interviews which will be recorded and later transcribed. The phone interviews will take approximately one hour and the majority of the interview will concentrate on the participant’s spiritual and religious healing after the abuse.

If a survivor is interested in participating in this research I can be reached at cjwaterstradt@yahoo.com. If you have questions about this research you may contact me at the above email address or at 231-903-8538 or you may contact my thesis chairperson, Dr. Cray Mulder at muldecra@gvsu.edu or 616-331-6596.”

COGIC takes a step in the right direction

March 7, 2011 21 comments

Originally posted January 25, 2008

In 2004, we were highly critical of the actions of the Church of God in Christ’s now Presiding Bishop Charles Blake. Blake hosted the openly gay religious activist Rev. Peter Gomes, allowing him to “preach” twice at West Angeles Church. The ensuing uproar over that event still lingers to this day. While Bishop Blake deserves all the respect due to his ascendancy to COGIC’s highest office, the man seemed to have serious discernment issues when it came to homosexuality.

We also felt it was highly inappropriate for Bishop Blake to sanction the doctrine of Robert Schuller, the new age positivity guru. As before, it seems Bishop Blake’s ecumenicalism has led him into pastures that are have been de-greened by false doctrine.

But we are enthused to see Bishop Blake take a step in the right direction by openly addressing sexual misconduct and sexual abuse by clergy in the COGIC. For this, we commend him. This open address is well overdue and in our opinion truly separates talkers from doers. Sexual abuse and malfeasance is cresting in the church and for too long it has simply been winked at or “handled” behind closed doors.

In December 2003, we strongly advised, denominations to invest in a radical approach on sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by its clergy. No longer can the church afford to allow men (in most cases) to continue clergy business as usual  while legitimate accusations have been levied against them.

Bishop Blake seemed to take a major step in making that a reality in COGIC in his Address to the General Assembly.[pdf] In it, he outlined 10 of the top priorities for the nation’s largest pentecostal denomination. Concerning sexual abuse, he said:

We now live in a litigious society. People file lawsuits for every conceivable grievance, whether real or imagined. To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ, we must take positive steps to seriously investigate very case of alleged sexual abuse by the clergy. We must stand behind and support those who are falsely accused of sexual improprieties and found innocent by the courts. We must also insure that the Church act quickly to take firm and positive action against those who violate the sanctity of their positions and are found guilty of sexual abuse and other sexual improprieties.”

Perhaps this is in anticipation of a major sexual abuse lawsuit against COGIC. However, the real proof of Bishop Blake’s preliminary steps will be when this is written into public policy and enforcement procedures implemented to ensure there are no loopholes for career church sexual criminals.

Categories: COGIC, sexual abuse

Al Sharpton hears about COGIC sexual abuse cases

March 4, 2011 1 comment

eriversAn interesting thing happened while the COGIC Presiding Bishop was being praised as a “lone voice crying out in the wilderness” on the Al Sharpton radio show. A COGIC pastor called in and offered a different perspective. Bishop Blake is going to be honored by Sharpton for his humanitarianism. But what about the growing number of clergy sex abuse victims who are being ignored by the Presiding Bishop?

One of the guests was Dr. Eugene Rivers, who self identified as Bishop Blake’s Chief Policy Advisor. We’re not sure what policy he is advising the bishop on, but nevertheless that’s his title. Dr. Rivers was discussing a rather interesting Huffington Post article by Eddie Claude Jr, declaring the black church was “dead”.

Then, this statement towards the end of the article:

But where are the press conferences and impassioned efforts around black children living in poverty, and commercials and organizing around jobs and healthcare reform? Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, appears to be a lonely voice in the wilderness when he announced COGIC’s support of healthcare reform with the public option.

Speaking of reform

Supt Harvey Burnett of Peoria, IL, who wrote a comprehensive victims advocacy plan for COGIC questioned why no one was asking Bishop Blake about his reluctance to enact a victims advocacy program for the denomination.

As Bishop Blake is hailed for his humanitarian service, we must also ask why has there been no action within the Church Of God In Christ to institute any resemblence of a victims advocacy program to help the church minister to its own hurting victims of clregy sexual abuse and misconduct? Dr. Rivers claims this area is a “legally complicated issue” and offers his own version of why the church is doing what it is doing and approaching the subject as it has been.

Rivers says that Pastor Burnett has made an “excellent point”. But then he calls the issue of victim’s advocacy “legally complicated.” Listen to the conversation here. It begins about the 13:44 mark. Dr. Rivers says that he is “privy to a lot of the discussions” in regard to sexual abuse issues in COGIC. Speaking to Pastor Burnett, he says, “I would love to reach out to you…” before Sharpton tells his assistant to get the information. Its strange that although Burnett was clear that his perspective was about victim’s advocacy, Rivers didnt even utter the word “victim”. Intentional?

Incidentally, Al Sharpton himself was drawn into COGIC’s Sherman Allen sexual abuse case when lawyers for the plaintiffs filed a motion to have him testify as an expert witness on clergy matters. The defense fought against it, fearing Sharpton’s presence at the trial would draw unwanted media attention. The case was dismissed in February.

Read Pastor Burnett’s blogpost challenging Al Sharpton is raise the issue with Bishop Blake.

Categories: COGIC, sexual abuse Tags:

Dealing with clergy sexual abuse

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Pastor Harvey Burnett has explored in full detail what the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) constitution says should happen when cases of sexual malfeasance occurs within the ranks of its clergy.

We discussed this pertinent to clergy sexual abuse and COGIC in light of the pending case against former COGIC pastor Sherman Allen of Fort Worth, TX.

The question(s) in this case and several others seem to center around whether or not COGIC has in fact followed its own laws or shuttled them in favor of charismatic personalities accused of sexual crimes…and at the expense of legitimate victims.

Related: Take our clergy sexual abuse poll