Archive

Archive for August, 2012

GB Candidates Questionnaires to be sent out

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Today Report COGIC Abuse will begin disseminating election questionnaires to candidates for the 12 positions on the General Board. This year’s quadrennial election has a field of 23 candidates, including the 9 “incumbents”.

Report COGIC Abuse will be asking the candidates to provide answers to questions voting delegates and the constituency at large are concerned about prior to casting their votes during the November convocation.

The questionnaire is unofficial meaning it is not endorsed by any official church authorities. Responding to the questionnaire is completely voluntary. Once provided, the candidates will have a full two weeks to fill out and return the questionnaires to Report COGIC Abuse. If a candidate declines to respond, it will be noted in our candidate examination series.

View or download the GB Candidate Questionnaire

Related note: The voting poll  (located on the blog’s right column) will remain open until Sept 30th. Although an unofficial and unscientific poll, you can express your choice for GB.  You can vote as many times as you desire and for as many candidates as you desire. If you support someone who’s name is not on the official ballot, you can select other and put their name in.

Categories: COGIC, General Board, policy

Second obstruction charge leveled at Bishops Chair John Sheard

August 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Angry confrontations in the form of letters continue to surface regarding the alleged obstructionist tenure of  Bishop John Sheard, chair of the Board of Bishops. Although his bio lauds his “notoriety as a man of integrity and great leadership”, information now suggest that Sheard has used his office and position to stifle investigations and withhold damaging  information about some of his fellow bishops.

Bishop Juan Lawson of El Paso, Texas, who resigned as chair of the church’s Grievance Committee, specifically cited Sheard as key antagonist  in  systemic actions to prevent certain bishops from being investigated. See story and video here.

Now, a blistering rebuke letter out of the Washington DC jurisdiction alleges even more serious issues of wrongdoing by Sheard.

The letter was sent to Sheard after repeated efforts to get an investigation off the ground on Bishop Neavelle Coles failed to get traction. Noted scholar, ethicist and COGIC Ecumenical Officer Dr. Leonard Lovett sent the angry followup to a June 6 letter which received only a “limited response”.

“It appears that you have set up a series of delay tactics to get you past the elections without any distractions from persons such as myself and others[…]

You never adequately responded to our June 6, 2012 letter requesting that seven (7) concerns be addressed in order to proceed properly with the case.”

Dr. Lovett further said that the political climate fostered under Sheard prevented impartial trials from being conducted.

“We have credible evidence that you are engaging in obstruction of justice with similar cases. Bishop Sheard, you are not beyond an investigation for obstruction of justice by the Judiciary.  We have almost concluded that your limited  response to this and other cases are purely political and that no impartial trial can be conducted as long as you are leading like a boss.  Unfortunately, it is this kind of behavior that results in cases being tried on the internet.”

RCA has documented  the incredibly dysfunctional judicial system within COGIC which has severely hindered and blocked justice  for victims of clergy sexual abuse and those who endured leadership abuses of all types. The systemic culture of obstruction by individuals who were elected to “uphold the constitution of the Church of God in Christ” is one of the most egregious forms of abuse in existence.

Read or download the entire letter

Charges which warrant the trial of a bishop

General Board 2012: Special election coverage series

August 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Over the next 30 days Report COGIC Abuse will undertake an unprecedented goal. As a service to our readers, we will examine in detail the published platforms of each and every candidate for the General Board of the Church of God in Christ.  We believe it is time for a mature, issue-oriented discussion about the men who seek to stand at the helm of the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination. Our examinations will include polls allowing you to voice popular opinion about the issue each candidate does –or does not–  endorse.  At the end of our research and examination, we will produce a comprehensive online voters’ guide which will allow delegates to see side by side where the candidates stand on important emerging issues facing the 21st century church community as well as critical internal denominational concerns.

Biblical Precedent

Jesus chose 12 men who formed his apostolic inner circle. These 12 were given special spiritual insight via a continued relationship with Jesus. But after the suicide of Judas, the 12 were left numerically incomplete. Acts 1 records that Peter cited Psalms as justification for the his replacement.

“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:

“‘May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,’

and,

“‘May another take his place of leadership.’

 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles (vss 20-26).

Election History

The Church of God in Christ emerged from a dark and turbulent period in its history a changed organization. One in which politics, voting, vying for offices and back room deals replaced the one man apostolic leadership model previously held by founder Bishop Charles H. Mason. Mason’s death in Sept 1961 set off a firestorm of infighting and court battles lasting almost 8 years until finally Mason’s son-in-law Bishop J.O. Patterson emerged as its most recognized beneficiary.

In a court ordered constitutional convention in February 1968, COGIC drafted and approved a new constitution that dissolved the office of the Senior Bishop and the Executive Board and created the office of the Presiding Bishop and a General Board who would be elected every four years to preside over the church. The General Assembly would have the supreme authority over the church to decide matters of faith and practice. On November 14, 1968, the General Assembly of COGIC elected the first General Board and Presiding Bishop of the church.

What is a platform?

A candidate’s platform comprises a series of positions or documents stating the aims and principles of the particular person running for office. A candidate’s platform may include a carefully worded political document which appeals to specific demographic of delegates by touching on a number of issues important to them. COGIC general board candidates generally do not offer a platform which presents a distinct disadvantage to voting delegates. Voting delegates should know what a candidate’s position’s are on emerging issues, what distinguishes them from other candidates and what they intend to accomplish while in office. Failure to state one’s platform allows a person to run on name only basis without a commitment to any substantial corporate improvements while in office. In essence, the candidate without a platform is asking the voting delegate to sign a blank check.

Why examine?

All elections should be run on honest endeavors to improve the lives and well being of the individuals from whom a candidate is seeking votes. If elected the candidate becomes their representative, championing the issues the electorate deems important. Thus, an examination of the candidate’s publicly stated platform, beliefs, lifestyle, associations and other related helps the voting delegate make the most informed decision possible.

Who stands at the helm of 6.5 million people should not be based solely on an individual’s popularity,  financial status or back room promises.  When the apostles cast lots to determine who would replace Judas in their ranks, they did so with a holy sobriety, knowing full well the impact of their decisions. In the same way, we seek to provide you with a sober assessment of the General Board candidates so that when you cast your vote, it will be with prayerful sobriety, knowing full well the impact of your choice.

Categories: General Board

Houston Pastor banned from COGIC but leaves with church property

August 16, 2012 11 comments

HOUSTON – Bishop Gary Emerson Scott was bad business from the beginning but Bishop Prince E. Bryant failed to vet him and refused to discipline him even when reports of sexual misconduct and marital infidelity arrived at his office. In the end, it was the Olive Branch COGIC that was left broken, shattered and reeling from the destruction a ravenous wolf unleashed on them by their own bishop.

A licensed evangelist and 50 year member of the COGIC told Report COGIC Abuse she was devastated about the condition of the church she loves so much.

Scott (on his third marriage) was appointed pastor of the church after the death of its former pastor, but members say Bishop Bryant intentionally overlooked the man’s terrible reputation in an effort to beef up the Texas SouthCentral jurisdiction in his run for the General Board. Scott allegedly pastored another nonCOGIC church called Trinity Fellowship but that church was dying a slow death.

Although married, Scott sexually harrassed at least 3 women in the congregation.  But one member’s letter and call to West Angeles and a threat to sue the national church, hastened an immediate and personal response from both Bishop Charles Blake and his chief church lawyer Enoch Perry III.  An investigation found Scott guilty.

Intervention?

In short, Blake and Perry investigated and removed Scott from the church with orders to Bryant not to allow him on COGIC property again for any reason. Read the Official Letter about the investigation and subsequent banning of Gary Scott from COGIC.

The two denominational leaders departed, but the nightmare for the remaining members of the Olive Branch Church was far from over. And to add to their injuries, Bishop Bryant refused to help them recover.

Despite the order banning Scott from the premises, he confiscated church property and formed another nonCOGIC church. The Olive Branch has sued to get church property returned but told Report COGIC Abuse, they have received no assistance from Bishop Prince Bryant. Members tell RCA that they do not believe Perry or Bishop Blake are aware that Bryant is not following the mandates of the letter. They plan to repetition get the national church’s assistance.

According to church trustees who spoke with us, Bishop Bryant forged a “deal” with Gary Scott for the Olive Branch Church to go into the building [he had been banned from] at 10:00 am on Sundays for church.  Scott and his new Impact Worship Center church would have church at 12:00 noon because he protested his name was on the leased building and he was not leaving. At that meeting Bryant described Scott as a “good man” despite the proven charges against him.

Members from the Olive Branch Church were ordered by Enoch Perry not to go anywhere near Scott. Using that distance, Scott took the contents and started another nondenominational church (Impact Christian Center) with COGIC contents. The trustees of the church met again with Bishop Bryant in hopes of  retrieving the contents of the church but were told according to them that “he [Bryant] had a name to keep and if we wanted the contents we would have to seek legal representation and the Jurisdiction would not help us financially in any form to retrieve anything”.

Church still suffering

Already suffering behind almost 2 years of Gary Scott’s wickedness, the church was forced to file with small claims court charging Gary Scott with theft.

Scott’s bio says he “…grew his membership from ninety to over a thousand members in less than five years and led him, in 2010, to become the Senior Pastor of the Impact Christian Center COGIC in Houston, Texas, thus making him One Pastor with Two Denominations” (his bold). Like many false prophets, deception is part of their ability to continue getting money and sexual favors from unsuspecting people.

The ministry pastor said, “All of our reports for 2011 were paid in full to the Jurisdiction and the National, however Bishop Bryant chose not to help us in any form and The Olive Branch has not heard from Bishop Bryant since February of 2012. We had to find a place to worship, and Greater Emmanuel COGIC  has allowed us to worship with them.”

As of today, the Olive Branch church is a church with no peace and no help.

Bishop cites “obstruction, coverup and incompetence” in COGIC judicial cases

August 16, 2012 3 comments

In a newly released video, a prominent El Paso, Texas COGIC bishop highlights serious internal problems with the denomination’s apparently broken  judicial system. We previously reported on COGIC’s judicial system here and here.

Bishop Juan Lawson, prelate of Texas Western Jurisdiction and  former Chairman of the Church of God in Christ Grievance Committee, announced via video that he had resigned as Chairman of  that committee due to repeated incidences of “obstruction, coverup and incompetence”  by Board of Bishops president Bishop John Sheard.

Citing the contents of a letter Report COGIC Abuse made public August 10th, Bishop Lawson decried the Blake administration’s disregard of speedy and fair justice for clergy.

Lawson is also a candidate for President of the powerful Board of Bishops which has oversight of cases filed against COGIC bishops.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsUqN98Wz1A&feature=youtu.be

Addendum 5:55pm est: This story was amended to remove the names of Bishop Charles Blake and Bishop Enoch Perry III. Per Bishop Lawson, his remarks alleging “obstruction, coverup and incompetence” were not specifically directed at these two individuals. Report COGIC Abuse apologizes for this unintended misinterpretation.

MD Pastors accuse COGIC General Secretary of gross misconduct

August 10, 2012 2 comments

Report COGIC Abuse has obtained a copy of a letter sent to COGIC officials decrying alleged ungodly actions by the church’s current General Secretary. In addition, COGIC officials have ignored the Pastor’s pleas for help. Pastors in the Greater Maryland First Jurisdiction say that this current letter is the second attempt in over two years demanding the national church investigate Bishop Joel Harley Lyles Jr. Several serious allegations noted include mismanagement (or theft) of $140,000 received from embattled Delaware Bishop Thomas Holsey and “illicit conduct”, presumably sexual in nature.

In August 2010, Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, the General Board’s go to man, told GMF pastors and elders at a meeting following the Bishop’s Breakfast, that Bishop Blake and the General Board had received the original July 26th letter, and would be returning to Maryland to meet with leaders to discuss the concerns said letter referenced. To date, the new letter alleges, there has been no examination from the national church or the local Jurisdiction.

An excerpt from the letter dated July 13, 2012:

“Since the July 28, 2010 letter, there have been conversations concerning Bishop Lyles involvement with illicit activity. These allegations include supposed conduct with Pastor Edwin Bass, Pastor Derrick Hutchins and others. I am inclined to believe these statements based on similar concerns made to me years prior to his becoming Jurisdictional Prelate.
I write on behalf of many hurt and disappointed members of our local churches and the Greater Maryland Jurisdiction. I am concerned about the operation, spiritual welfare and appearance of our church to others for the present and future. As one who has known Bishop Lyles since childhood and was also a champion and spokesman of his candidacy to many Pastors to become Jurisdictional Prelate, this letter is not written out of personal animosity, but out of pure concern for me body of Christ. I reiterate that I am asking for the Board of Bishop’s to hold an investigation regarding the financial practices. Episcopal conduct, moral turpitude. and the mistreatment of certain Pastor’s, Jurisdictional Officials, and members of the Greater Maryland First Jurisdiction by Bishop Lyles.”

The letter was addressed to Bishop John H. Sheard, Chair Board of Bishops, Bishop B. Collins. Vice Chairman, Bishop Larry Shaw, Secretary Board of Bishops and Bishop Roy Dixon, Chair, Grievance Committee.

Two years is a long time to wait for someone to acknowledge your complaints and act on them. If the allegations are true, the lengthy delay from COGIC officials only benefit Lyles who could possibly conceal evidence, influence witnesses or worse deny the whole thing. Historically, the wheels of justice in COGIC don’t just turn slowly, several of the wheels have fallen off.  Even with its constitution, policies and procedures, pastors and laymembers of the church seem to be treated as common sharecroppers in the fields of its aristocratic acting bishops.

According to Elder Ron Stidham who founded CogicJustice.com, the reason why officials haven’t responded is due to a nebulous, unpublished policy which works in favor of bishops not complaintants. Officials have numerous loophole type factors that can seriously derail complaints against a  bishop. Although there have been proposals, there is no policy which requires officials to respond to a complaint in any given time.

Read or download the entire letter

Report: COGIC sex crimes increase at alarming rate

August 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Church leaders continue a pattern of denial, inaction and insensitivity to victims. With hundreds of millions of dollars being paid out annually to keep victims of COGIC clergy sexual abuse silent, Bishop Charles Blake, his board and his chief lawyer continue their business as usual policies.

If it is true that there are only 5 cases of clergy sexual sins that demand the attention of the church so far as litigation is concerned, we should be in a state of alarm and in a condition of panic. Why? As I have documented in Clergy Sexual Sins Pt. 2, before he became Bishop, the same “Judge” Enoch Perry previously was recorded to have stated, in public and official church records, in 2009, that the church has hardly ever processed any allegations of cases of sexual abuse in the last 100 years, stating the following to the General Assembly:
“He (Judge Enoch Perry) reported that in over 100 years, there have been 20-25 processed cases of sexual misconduct. He stated statistically the numbers are significantly small; however, there should not be one case among us. Judge perry reported there has not been one successful lawsuit against the church; cases have either been settled or dismissed. He further stated that Bishop Blake supports the church’s zero tolerance policy against sexual misconduct.”  [2009 COGIC General Assembly Minutes Pg. 2 Para. 2 parenthesis added]
Aside from the fact that a “settlement” IS a successful lawsuit in many cases, if his numbers are correct, then in 2012 we are currently facing and epidemic that must be addressed right away. The numbers presented by these officials and recited in official church records, indicate that the church is currently experiencing 20% to 25% of it’s 100 year total “processed” sexual misconduct cases, right now. In other words, unlike the average slightly less than 2.25 cases per decade over the last 100 years that the church has experienced, (according to their statements) we now face 5 cases in just one year stemming from year 2011. Although we know that it is far beyond these totals, by their own numbers, officials of our church should be alarmed.

Read the full shocking report, citing facts and the words of Charles Blake, Enoch Perry and official church documents which clearly show a campaign of deception is in progress.

But the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty. So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail,    both palm branch and reed in a single day; the elders and dignitaries are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray. Isaiah 9:13-16