Home > COGIC, sexual abuse > COGIC takes a step in the right direction

COGIC takes a step in the right direction

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.

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Categories: COGIC, sexual abuse
  1. Elder RD Miller
    March 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Posted May 21, 2008 at 11:46 PM

    As a member of the COGIC I’m appalled at Bishop Blakes address to the congregation as a whole…If cogic elders as well as bishops are not considered outcast for this type of behavior. Then sadly the behavior will continue we can Condemn the .Violaters but we need to Restore the victims as best we can, I hope bishop blake creates a crisis center or hotline for abused members of its church

  2. Karen Wheeler
    March 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Posted June 22, 2008 at 10:05 PM

    I have read the numerous comments above and well…it brings to mind several thoughts. The first being that none of knows what he or she would do if in leadership – being accountable to thousands and millions of people. We hold leadership responsible for a lot of things, and rightfully so, but at the same time, God holds us individually responsible for many things as well that we fall short in. As a christian working in the field of child sexual abuse, I have always been amazed at the lack of interest and lack of belief by Christians and non-Christians alike when it comes to sexual abuse. No one wants to believe it can happen and that it happens at the hand of a person who is possible highly esteemed in the community, in corporate America, in the church, and primarily in one’s family.

    I realize that many leaders in church and out of church do not speak out about an issue until it affects them. Many of us as individuals are the same way. Until it affects our family, we do not involve ourselves. So when reading the remarks of Bishop Blakes, I can view them as some of you – positive or negative. However, realistically speaking, I consider any remarks that focus on this major issue, especially by leaders (regardless of intent), as a step towards decreasing the incidences of child sexual abuse. YES, too many people wait until someone has been raped or tormented before they do anything. Does that mean when they finally do something I continue to hold the grudge – NO TIME IS OF ESSENCE HERE.

    I am sure that many of us have encountered someone who has been sexually abused by a person – whether in leadership or not. What have we done to bring attention to the issue. The fact is God has equipped each of us with a burden, a passion, for something. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is taboo, something of which NO ONE likes to speak. It begins in the family, but families cover it up. So if families cover up, the community will cover for those who perpetuate, and likewise in the courts, in the church, and as high up as you can go.

    I encourage each of us with the the passion for child sexual abuse to raise our voices to the issue, especially in the church because church serves as a symbol of restoration and healing. Too many of us talk about leadership and others, but we never take a role in personally becoming a part of what we talk about. Be the activist that you want Bishop Blake to be, come up with a plan, and do what you can to get this plan implemented in COGIC. Do it with a pure and humble heart, not with the intent of destroying COGIC or leadership who you may know has issues. God loves our children and is moving the hidden windows for people to see how they are being violated.

    Just remember that we live in a nation that had laws and policies for animals before children. Continue to pray. Sometimes we can be blind for years then suddenly we realize the error of our ways and attempt to change it. Never fault a man for being silent and then coming forward. We have all been silent at one time or another. Coming into the truth is what Christianity is all about. Rejoice each time we get closer to laws and policies being put into place to protect children from sexual violators and bring healing to generations of people who have already gone through sexual abuse.

    PEACE

    • March 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm

      Posted June 23, 2008 at 12:02 AM

      Well said Ms Wheeler. As we noted this is a step in the right direction for COGIC. Hopefully, Bishop Blake will make the protection of children and the rooting out of predators a priority of his administration lest we have another generation of broken, dissalusioned COGIC children.

  3. Seeking Justice
    March 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Posted October 20, 2008 at 5:36 PM

    WOW…I have read through the blog comments and I am just as disgusted with the lack of clarity in terms as I have been in the “Sexual Misconduct” workshops being held in the Jurisdictions. Sexual Abuse is not synonymous with Sexual Harrassment and neither are synonymous with homosexuality and so on, and so forth. Clarity in terms would help a lot. However, I would say that many of my COGIC counterparts fail to educate themselves on such terminology or make it a priority to do so. The bible says “sin” ..the courts will spell out each charge separately. We need to understand the terminology and refrain from passing misinformation. One of the statements made in the workshop was that the majority of child molesters were homosexuals. From my experience, this leaves out the complete list of child molesters that have been men in leadership acting inappropriately with our young women. Though, according to church doctrine it is all wrong, we should be sure that our facts are correct. I’m tired of pastors and elders coming on to my close female friends while their wives are off somewhere, innocently tending to church business and greeting church constituents. If you listen to them though, the COGIC leadership loves to sit and talk about the women and their thoughts about their sexual lives…Its ridiculous!!!

    Consequently, as far as this blog is concerned, this discussion went from sexual abuse cases, to homosexuals in the pulpit, to sexual harrasment and I wonder what is the real issue. The issue: The church needs to address sexual misconduct which, according to its rules/policies includes adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, fornication and viewing pornography. This list may not be complete but it covers ta vast majority of it all. I am hopeful that Bishop Blake will clarify the churches position, its policies, and make a difference in the years to come. This I think we all agree on. Let’s be the voice within the church to start speaking up against injustice ..they can throw me out, marginalize me, or do whatever they like. I can pass my dollars on to some other organization, because that’s what seems to be most important to many of them anyway.

    This getting up over the pulpits trying to bring certain people to shame is ridicuous, when it is those in the pulpits who perpetrate so much of what we’re experiencing. The same thing has happened in the company I work for. All ethical violations have been from up top, but we at the bottom are suffering for their errors. Its time to stop it all !!!

    • March 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      Posted October 20, 2008 at 8:06 PM

      >>>I have read through the blog comments and I am just as disgusted with the lack of clarity in terms as I have been in the “Sexual Misconduct” workshops being held in the Jurisdictions. Sexual Abuse is not synonymous with Sexual Harrassment and neither are synonymous with homosexuality and so on, and so forth. Clarity in terms would help a lot.<<<

      SJ, thanks for your passion about the larger issue of sexual misconduct. Although the comment on any particular blogpost may vary from person to person, the intent of the post is to primarily address homosexual misconduct among clergy. That seems to be one of your points. That is not to say there is no heterosexual misconduct or that it is not important not to say anything about it. But we are dealing with a particular subject matter intentionally.

      There is also noncriminal homosexual misconduct in the pews which helps to feed the same misconduct in leadership.

      But the leaders need to order a comprehensive assessment of the problem and a comprehensive solution for the problem. Of course as you pointed out in would span both legal and spiritual aspects of sexual misconduct.

      I wasnt aware of any “sexual misconduct” workshops being conducted in the jurisdictions. Have you attended these? If you want to list what jurisdictions are doing so and who’s in charge, we’d be happy to inquire about it.

      Finally, exactly what terms were not defined that you think should have been?

  4. ELLA
    March 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Posted November 21, 2008 at 11:30 PM

    my god i can not belive what i am reading, bishop blake dont worry about lawsuit.what is money.jesus is what that matter.you cant let every body preach to you congreagation you got to no who and what thay are.i was born cogic,my grandmother were a missnary and she could tell if you were a real preach.but now it all about money.i wonder what would have happen if jesus would sold out for money.all i no is cogic i am so glad that my grandfather and grantmother and bishop masion is not hear to see what goring on.

  5. Holy Women
    March 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Posted February 4, 2009 at 5:28 AM

    If our leaders are not watchful and prayerful once again, our churches will be filled with women and children as leaders. For to long Women have visited the men behind bars llll. To much time is wasted by cogic leaders straddling the fence telling women preachers to go teach and not preach, we need Holy qualified people wether male or female.
    God will pay for all unrighteousness, but the legal system has it lawful duties as well and when we hide behind the clergycollar we’re at fault. Somewhere our strong, intelligent, bishops, pastors, and deacons forgot about NUMBERS 32:23. If we can’t call on the men in the church; who will we call? GOD!

  6. JJ
    March 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Posted January 26, 2008 at 11:07 PM

    You know, its really too bad that the COGIC leadership wasn’t moved to investigate and turn in sexaul abusers until the threat of lawsuits became real. If they had only done right for sake of doing right and not to protect their backsides, they wouldn’t be in this predicament now.

    Sorry, but I take little comfort in this ‘strong stance’ that coincidentally happens when they could loose big bucks after damages are awarded to the victims.

    They saw what happened to the Catholics and are trying to avoid the same fate.

    I do understand how it can be seen as a step in the right direction, but to me this 11th hour proclamation is disingenuous.

    JJ

    PS> Congrats on your ‘Charisma’ feature.

    • March 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      Posted January 27, 2008 at 2:42 AM

      As was noted, Blake is on a sinking ship when it comes to doctrine. The people he teams with as was noted above attest to that.

      I feel Blake’s stance is as he says himself in the quote cited, to protect the image of COGIC in a litigious society. Add to that news of a lawsuit. Add to that, it seems claims of sexual abuse in COGIC only run 2nd to Roman Catholicism and there are so many claims in COGIC, if they were better exposed it might dwarf abuse found in the cult of Mary (Roman Catholicism).

      Blakes’ move is to protect “image” because he is at the top. So if COGIC’s image is blown that means Blake’s image is blown.

      I don’t see Blake doing this to keep the Lord’s name from being blasphemed because of hypocrisy in the church, but rather a move he’s taking to keep up appearances.

      If we outside of COGIC know of lots of abuse claims, I’m sure Blake knew of plenty before assuming his post. So he could have spoken on this from day one, but instead speaks days after a potential lawsuit.

      • March 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

        Posted January 27, 2008 at 3:42 AM

        I agree with both of you. This is an attempt to save face on Blake’s part.

        However, at least he is not stonewalling and in denial. If it took this lawsuit to finally make that happen, as a survivor of COGIC clergy sexual misconduct, I for one am very glad.

        But you know God gives time and opportunity to correct or judge ourselves, When we refuse, HIS judgment (usually public) is inevitable.

  7. David
    March 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Posted January 28, 2008 at 3:18 AM

    GCM Watch is trigger-happy. This is the downside of unregulated personal media that are not held to some kind of professional ethic.

    I am a Californian who knows that Bishop Blake has always led his Diocese this way, but is new to the Presiding Bishop office. His presence and wise leadership is very timely for the denomination.

    Furthermore, Dr. Gomes spoke at West Angeles Church on a single occasion, but at both Sunday Morning services. Your “report” is bald-faced bias.

    A ministry LIKE GCM Watch is needed. One that is principled. I’ll keep looking,

  8. March 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Posted January 28, 2008 at 4:02 AM

    David, since you know that Bishop Blake has always led his Diocese “this way”, please point us to the following information:

    (1) Verifiable public documentation citing Bishop Blake’s policies on clergy accused of sexual abuse in his diocese.
    (2) Public statements (minus this one) in which Bishop Blake has addressed clergy sexual abuse in any context.
    (3) Cases of clergy sexual abuse in his diocese where we can determine if the outcome was just towards the victim(s)

    If you can produce this, we’d be happy attribute it to Bishop Blake’s wise leadership. Otherwise, your accusations against GCM Watch amount to little more than anger over negative information attached to your favorite preacher.

    Regarding Peter Gomes, your point is moot. Allowing a openly (known) unrepentant homosexual to “preach” at any service is wrong. Plain and simple. Since we’ve discussed that at length, there is no desire to beat dead horses anymore.

    If you’d like to define “professional ethic”, in relation to blogging, we’d also be happy to review it to see if we are in compliance.

    • Diane
      March 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      Posted January 28, 2008 at 5:19 AM

      I know about Bishop Blake’s ministry and that he routinely provides printed guidelines for all the churches in his jurisdiction. It’s unfair to make unfounded allegations about a person and then expect those who defend him to provide more evidence than you have yourself.

      GCMW: You are saying that you have seen with your own eyes PRINTED policies on clergy sexual abuse handed out by Bishop Blake?

    • David
      March 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Posted January 28, 2008 at 5:22 AM

      I have as much documentation as I’ve seen on this site to the contrary, and a journalist has the onus of proving an assertion that impugns another’s reputation. That’s what I meant by the downside of unregulated personal media.

      I do know this much: the pastors in his Southern CA Jurisdiction have been all given manuals for conduct and have been required to provide the same to their clergy staff.

      He speaks about it regularly in his Council, the ordained clergy, who convene monthly–no he doesn’t address every month, but often. He stepped it up after the Roman Catholic priest scandals became public.

      Bishop Blake holds monthly meetings with the ordained clergy in his diocese and often brings this up. He began to do it even more frequently after the Catholic scandals broke a few years ago.

      Regarding Dr. Gomes, I didn’t say the invitation was right, only that your assertion was inaccurate, and it’s reflective of your bias that you either can’t see or acknowledge this.

      Further indication of your site being out of control is your allegation that he is my “favorite preacher.” This is so small-minded. I think it was wrong to host Dr. Gomes but you miss the point, or evade it–you made the assertion but would not accept the correction of misinformation.

      If one is going to make statements he should take responsibility for them. I don’t think blogging has a professional ethic, which is my point–it’s downside.

      • March 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm

        Posted January 28, 2008 at 12:23 PM

        David, there exists no “onus” in the search and verification for information to benefit VICTIMS of clergy sexual abuse. Nor has there been any misinformation.
        Bishop Blake —not GCM Watch— said this was a priority of his administration. This address was issued three months ago. Thus, we (or anyone else) are well within reasonable rights to ask how this will be developed in a practical way.

        We have not seen nor heard of what you claim in defense of Bishop Blake on clergy sexual abuse. If you have evidence to prove any GCM Watch assertions wrong, then present them. “Speaking” about it “regularly is does not have the same impact as a written policy with procedures to enforce corrective measures. Perhaps you are not that aware of the deep and devastating effect of clergy sexual abuse. it deserves much more than a few speeches which cannot be substantiated.

        We are well aware of COGIC’s black manual. That is sorely inadequate in addressing the serious problems with clergy sexual abuse.

        To clarify, we believe these policies —if they exist— should be public. Do you have objections to that?

        • Diane
          March 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm

          Posted January 29, 2008 at 8:24 AM

          It looks like GCMW is accusing David of being dishonest in the above post. Why? Are we being a bit defensive?

          And by the way, I HAVE personally seen and read the material distributed by Bishop C.E. Blake, since you ask. I first saw it about 5 years ago. Instead of calling other people dishonest, why don’t you just call the Jurisdictional Office at 323-733-8300 and request a copy? All of the elders are given copies, and if you are cordial maybe they’ll send you one, too.

          GCMW: Diane, please cite the quote where David is accused of being “dishonest”? And yes we are defending our position and statements. Its common in discussions like this. Secondly, please cite the name of the publication you claim to have seen.

  9. March 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Posted January 28, 2008 at 5:25 PM

    The bottom line is this, WE KNOW on the word of MANY MANY witnesses that MANY who STILL hold leadership in COGIC ARE CURRENTLY ABUSING people sexually.

    Now Blake can print paper till he’s blue in the face, but he has assumed the role of top man in that organization. Since Blake has assumed that role, how many of the abusers have Blake and the elders with him REMOVED from their posts and helped law enforcement prosecute? Given they have no prison of their own, to hold those who continually harm others. I would suspect if Blake has removed anyone, it was only after their being exposed by the law enforcement authorities of man. Can anyone show Blake has rightly exercised 1 Timothy 5:19-22 without outside intervention? Too many abused saints have said NO.

    Blake printing paper after others were exposed and printing more when facing a lawsuit only shows he moves based on “image”.

  10. David
    March 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Posted January 28, 2008 at 5:43 PM

    You suggested that Blake may be taking his stand because he anticipates a major lawsuit. My rejoinder was that he has guarded his flock in this manner as a matter of practice.

    If there is no onus for an accuser (because you are not a victim of Bishop Blake’s and have no knowledge of his policies) then we have a potential MacMartin situation–confusion and destruction founded on falsity, and therefore it is your responsibility to make sure you know what you are claiming or even suggesting. Otherwise your innuendo goes unchallenged unless a person like myself happens to stumble upon your website.

    I don’t know what Diane, the above poster has, but I have seen the booklet he distributes and I have heard his cautions to the clergy on numerous times. Of course you think that is evidentiary that he is my “favorite preacher” (roll eyes) and dismiss it so you can rant. In my view, your blog is the counterpart of Keith Boykins’–he is a loose cannon in one way and yours is loose antithetically.

    What does the “black manual” have to do with any of this, anyway? I’ll tell you: you are grasping because you don’t know whereof you write.

    • March 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Posted January 28, 2008 at 6:20 PM

      Bishop Blake SAID (why David continues to ignore this is confusing) “To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ,”

      I saw absolutely nothing concerning helping the victims.

      Of course when your main concern is protecting your name and image, how could you be concerned with victims of the sexual abuse?

      As I was reading his words again, I took note of this:
      “We must also insure that the Church act quickly to take firm and positive action against those who violate the sanctity of their positions…”

      What in God’s name is “positive action”? Is that more of that Robert Schuller gospel of positivity mess that he embraces?

      Like we said this is just a step in the right direction. His sincerety can only be proven if he makes this tangible.

      • David
        March 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm

        Posted January 28, 2008 at 6:24 PM

        You don’t see the connection between protecting people and protecting image, etc.?

        GCMW: No David, there is no clear parallel. Explain if you care to.
        While you are explaining that, tell us exactly what is your relationship with Bishop Blake, COGIC, etc?
        Please be honest, because you are doing an extremely poor job trying to defend Bishop Blake’s record.

  11. JulianofGod
    March 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Posted January 29, 2008 at 4:34 AM

    Hey bro GCM! I pray that you are blessed and well in Christ! I understand your desire to want things to be done in the righteousness of Christ Jesus (and I thank God for that in you). Unfortunately, I don’t see anything positive about Blake’s words. In fact I see the opposite of a man of Christ, “To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ, we must take positive steps…” It seems to me that the ‘good ole boy’ of COGIC is more interested in the things of COGIC and protecting it, than the GOD of the universe and the people under his charge. The real ‘man of God’ should be concerned with the sins of the individuals (the sexual and the lying) and the victims (need for Christ, discernment from lying individuals, and help to move past the hurt and abuse) more than the organization. I don’t see Blake’s words as anything more than a p.r. campaign to keep the status quo in order. If COGIC is to survive in Christ, the leadership must change and much of the doctrine that is being preached from the pulpits- to include removing a whole lot of (sinful) pastors must be done away with.

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