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COGIC tightens up office holders screening

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

After successive years of “looking the other way” on sex criminals and other assorted leadership undesirables matriculating into COGIC offices, some emerging signs indicate Presiding Bishop Blake may be slowly tightening up the reigns of access.

Perhaps this has also been influenced by the newly elected Elder James W. Hunt, Sr., Chairman, General Assembly and Bishop Lemmuel Thuston, Vice Chairman. Thuston was bishop over one of the key front men in the massive Kansas-Missouri black church ponzi scheme. Thousands of people were bilked out of millions of investments dollars. The church was a major recruiting ground.

Report COGIC Abuse reviewed the Application for Elected Office and found that several questions helped to determine whether or not a person was actually qualified to hold high influential offices. COGIC’s ineffective tradition of allowing popular men who were the beneficiaries of nepotism,  preaching gifts and money to get them into places they didn’t deserve to be should come to and end for the good of the church. One way to weed out those whose unresolved sexual issues and potential criminal issues is to at least tighten up the screening process.

The categories of applications include: laymembers (terrible term), ministers and missionaries, Elders, Pastors and Bishops. Thankfully, none of the serious questions are altered for any of the categories.

Of interest, the following questions:

Question 10. Do you, or have you experienced any physical, psychological, or emotional conditions which requires treatment?  If yes, has this condition impaired your ability to function, or make sound executive and judicious decisions?

A person with unresolved emotional and psychological issues are a real danger behind the pulpit and in office.  It should be expected that a person would seek God and gain peace through obeying the will of God, but its been proven that many leaders will not admit when they have problems. They hide and delay seeking help and ultimately exacerbate the problem with hidden sins. The church should require the applicant to produce a doctor’s report stating a clean bill of health particularly on psychological and emotional health issues.

Question 11. Has any disciplinary action (i.e. removal from an office or position, suspension, termination, etc) ever been taken against you in the church, whether local, jurisdictional, national or other denomination? If yes, explain.

Have you been arrested or convicted of a felony? If yes, please explain.

Is there anything in your past that could possibly bring reproach against the Church Of God In Christ? If yes, please explain.

In addition to the applicant’s response, the church should review ALL church files and conduct extensive interviews to determine if all  infractions were properly and biblically resolved. If it was not, the applicant should be required to resolve each situation before the application can be further processed. While it should be assumed that each applicant is prima facie who they purport to be, cases like Thomas A. Wiggins, Charles Brown and JD Husband stand as stark reminders that a lax attitude towards excellence in office produces disastrous results for the church.

These questions allow the applicant to be honest and that is a good thing. In fact, one would think that a person seeking high office in the Church of God in Christ would at a minimum be honest, but that is in our opinion, an immature assumption.

Bishops seeking election to the General Board should also face even tighter questioning and screening than the average person to include ethics questions.  Compare that with a US Senator or President. Unfortunately, elections to high office are a political function and the scrutiny of one’s personal life is part of the process.  Moreover, the high offices ought to be deemed worthy enough to ensure that only men and women of high quality, integrity and service are allowed to hold them. The church should reject the tired good ole boys attitude that most if not all the current crop of contenders perpetuate.

Update: COGIC Elder found not guilty of boy’s rape

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

A jury in Chattanooga, TN found Elder Ronnie Powe, Jr. not guilty of statutory rape. See our report on Powe’s arrest here.  The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that although Powe did have sexual relationship with the boy, it wasn’t proven that he knew the boy’s age.

The son of a Chattanooga pastor has been found not guilty of statutory rape, a jury decided Friday in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

Ronnie Powe, Jr. had been accused of masturbating and briefly performed oral sex on a 15-year-old boy on Feb. 15 after a Chattanooga Police Officer found the two in a car together behind the old East Lake Middle School.

Though Powe’s defense acknowledged that the encounter took place, they had contested that Powe did not know the teen’s age.

Throughout proceedings, Powe’s attorneys referred to the profile the boy had created a profile on an adult black gay website, which indicated his age as 18 at the time Powe met him.

“We felt that the jury understood what we were arguing. We said at the very beginning of this case ‘our client is a victim.’ I think the jury agreed,” said Bill Speek, one of Powe’s attorney.

Powe is the son of Ronnie Powe Sr., the pastor of Chattanooga’s United Tabernacle Church of God in Christ.

Powe, Jr.’s attorneys assailed the victim’s character showing evidence that he frequently misrepresented his age on gay sex sites. Also, the victim admitted under oath that he had made false accusations against his own brother. Nevertheless, testimony did not dispute that Powe, Jr. was active online with the gay sex hookup sites, or that  Powe had sexual contact with the victim. The strength of the Powe case was that his attorneys were able to plant in the mind of jurors that the victim misrepresented his age to Powe, Jr.

Another report said Powe’s legal defense team painted him as a victim.

Under Tennessee law, the aggravated statutory rape charge requires “knowingly penetrating a person” older than 13 but younger than 18.

“We felt that the jury understood what we were arguing. We said at the very beginning of this case, ‘Our client is a victim.’ I think the jury agreed,” said Bill Speek, one of Powe’s attorneys.

Throughout proceedings, Powe’s attorneys referred to the profile the boy had created on an adult black gay website, where Powe first came in contact with him. In the profile, the teen said he age was 18.

Report COGIC Abuse unsuccessfully attempted to contact the church’s pastor Ronnie Powe, Sr. at his home and church phones for comment.  Powe, Jr’s attorney said he “lost his position at the church.”

Dunamis Word Broadcast interviews DL Foster on clergy sexual abuse

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

OK COGIC Pastor who boasted “nothing will change” plea bargains on sex charges

January 4, 2012 2 comments

***Updated, scroll to bottom
Report COGIC Abuse has learned that in early September 2011, Pastor Edwin House entered a non technical guilty plea to two counts of lewd molestation according to Logan County, OK District Court records. [source]. House’s charges were later amended to assault with intent to commit a felony per Oklahoma law statue 21.OS-681

“THE DEFENDANT PRESENTS HIS PLEA OF NOLO CONTENDERE TO THE CHARGES AS ALLEGED IN COUNTS 1 AND 2 OF THE AMENDED INFORMATION. THE DEFENDANT IS SWORN AND TESTIFIES. THE COURT FINDS THAT THE PLEA IS ENTERED KNOWINGLY, VOLUNTARILY, WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF RIGHTS, WITH ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, AND WITHOUT OBJECTION BY THE STATE. THE COURT ACCEPTS THE DEFENDANT’S PLEA AND SENTENCES HIM TO FIVE (5) YEARS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS WITH ALL FIVE (5) YEARS SUSPENDED CONDITIONED UPON HIS GOOD BEHAVIOR, PAYMENT OF COURT COSTS, AND REGISTRY AS A SEX OFFENDER. THE DEFENDANT IS TO BE UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. THE DEFENDANT IS ADVISED OF HIS RIGHT TO APPEAL.”

Pastor Edwin House and his wife Louvenia were arrested by police in Crescent, Oklahoma  and charged with five counts of lewd molestation allegedly perpetrated on two underage foster girls under their care. House is pastor of the Lighthouse COGIC north of Oklahoma City. The Oklahoman reported that the two were released on bail the following day.

Edwin House is accused of sexually abusing two 14-year-old girls in his home.

She told investigators Edwin House laid on top of her while she was sleeping and put his hand down her shirt. He also put his hands on her chest while she was in his car, she reported. The girl was removed from the home and taken into protective custody, court records show.

Lovenia House told investigators her husband touched the girl’s chest to teach her how boys might act if she continued to dress provocatively. A female foster child who lived with the couple from November 2003 to December 2004 told investigators Edwin House would lay on top of her after he tucked her into bed at night.

House is a member of the Oklahoma NW jurisdiction with Bishop Lee Vicker Broom.  But upon his release, House made an unusually defiant statement to the media. Was it to the media or to his denominational leaders?

Edwin House said Wednesday that his church is aware of the allegations against him and his wife. He is pastor of the Light House Church of God in Christ in Crescent.

“Nothing is going to change at the church,” Edwin House said. He said congregation members and friends have rallied to support him.

EPILOGUE

With House guilty of the charges, per the COGIC “zero tolerance” policy,  has there been disciplinary actions against him?

RCA contacted Louvenia House (charges against her were dropped) who contended the Light House COGIC in Crescent, OK, is still under Oklahoma NW Jurisdiction, but the jurisdiction’s redesigned website no longer lists the church name. Compare to a 2010 church roster.

A church official told us that per a letter released in December 2010,  Light House COGIC is no longer under their (OK NW) jurisdiction.  Additionally, the church had left the denomination altogether but the official was unaware whether the Houses and the church left due to disciplinary action or if it was a voluntary move. We were unable to confirm either position.

If the House’s indeed left COGIC after disciplinary action, why was he allowed to keep the church property? And if a pastor leaves the denomination due to disciplinary actions, does the church’s constitution allow for the continued use of the denominational name?

UPDATE JAN 11, 2012
Bishop Vickers Broom confirmed with a RCA staff member that Lighthouse COGIC of Cresent City “voluntarily” removed their membership from COGIC due to approaching disciplinary action. Broom also stated that COGIC will take no legal action (property) against the Houses. Broom did not say whether the Houses are free to continue using the “Church of God in Christ” name without any penalty.

This brings up several issues of selectively applying the church’s constitution. It seems that when the pastor has committed a crime, COGIC waives all rights to property. But when a pastor and congregation wants to leave the denomination for other reasons, they are taken to court and sued without mercy. RCA will explore this more in a separate post.