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COGIC General Board Member marches in National Marriage Protection March

April 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Porter-marriage-march

Give honor to whom honor is due. And COGIC General Board Member Bishop Brandon Porter of Memphis is due honor for breaking the mold and marching with supporters of natural marriage aka nonsurgically altered,biological male-female marriage which is under severe attack from within and without. Its not just marriage. Behind the attack on marriage, is that age old satanic rebellion against the authority of God. No matter what face the rebellion takes, men of God ought to be the first to lead the counterattack. Those who will not speak out and stand up should not be trusted.

Porter, one of the featured speakers at the rally, told thousands of participants:

“We believe in marriage God’s way “I often view God as a parent. I see the Heart of God more and more each day through the act of marriage. What is the one thing that parents want from their married children? You got it: Grandchildren. And God wants the same. He wants us to multiply and replenish the Earth. Same-sex marriage cannot provide that Kingdom request. [source]
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Is disbarred lawyer Javier Bailey speaking for Bishop Brandon Porter?

October 14, 2014 7 comments
The strange case involving Bishop Brandon Porter, Supt Linwood Dilliard and Pastor Frederick Smith took another strange twist with a statement by disbarred Memphis attorney Javier Bailey regarding the matter.javier-bailey After just a week of Report COGIC Abuse posting the story, Porter had Smith and his church’s name scrubbed from the Tennessee Central website. See here.
No stranger to controversy himself, Bailey posted on an October 1st Facebook discussion about Smith and Porter that he needed to correct a misconception by Memphis radio host Thaddeus Matthews.
I want to briefly correct this post. I am officially stating that Frederick Smith , nor his Church, are operating under the supervision and authority of Church Of God In Christ . Sup. Linwood Dillard is not the person that told me that. Pastor Smith admits that he is not under the authority and supervision of COGIC. It is my opinion that Pastor Smith is very distraught . I spoke with him as a fellow clergic [sic] and in hopes of some healing in this matter.”
If Linwood Dillard didn’t tell Bailey that, then who did? Bishop Brandon Porter? How can a disbarred lawyer “officially” speak for Tennessee Central Jurisdiction without the approval of its official leader? Perhaps what Bailey isn’t saying is more important than what he is saying.
A tale of two policies
COGIC seems to have a flexible release policy when it comes to certain situations its ministers are caught in. Policy A deals with those who legitimately want to transfer jurisdictions or leave the denomination because of the abuse of a bishop. Policy B deals with clergy sex predators.  Using Policy A, such cases are stridently opposed and prosecuted sometimes in civil courts. If the case involves property and money the denomination wants, they enforce COGIC “constitutional laws” with few exceptions.  Just ask Elder Ronald Stidham whose father Joshua Stidham, founded and built Emmanuel COGIC in Wichita, Kansas.
Policy B seems to cover men who are caught in sexual scandals. These individuals are given a quick release to leave the denomination with nothing more than a meaningless statement like the one above. Officials, like Porter and Dillard, remain tight lipped, adhering to Bishop Charles Blake’s mandatory silence edict unless a lawsuit forces their lips open. Sexual wolves are set free to roam as long as they drop the COGIC name. They can keep property, money and whatever else they have acquired while members of the COGIC.
With Policy B, COGIC can easily distance itself from any sexually immoral pastor. For example, when  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, the church’s pastor quickly invoked Policy B. “He`s a minister, but he don`t work here.  He`s just a preacher here.” Wallace had been an elder at the church for seven years.
Although disbarred and discredited, Bailey said he still advises COGIC entities. “Finally , I do advise several jurisdictions across the nation on ecclesiastical matters. However I am not a part of the Southeast District of Central Jurisdiction. It is my hope that there be clarity and that all of your viewers and FB Friends know that COGIC has nothing to do with this matter.”, he said.
We asked how much did Porter and Dilliard know about Smith’s sexual proclivities and when did they know it. That may never be answered by the involved parties, but God allows deception to eventually ensnare the deceivers.
Bailey is the former attorney for Tennessee Headquarters Jurisdiction, where Frederick Smith was also a member in 2007.

TN Central removes New Life Holiness from jurisdictional website

October 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Just a week after Report COGIC Abuse published the story of  COGIC Pastor Frederick Smith and allegations of financial malfeasance, misrepresentation on a legal document and gross sexual immorality , it appears that Bishop Brandon Porter has taken some action against the pastor and church.

The screenshot of the website taken before and after the report shows Smith and New Life Holiness church now removed from the official jurisdictional website which lists its member pastors and churches.

TNCENTRALIts unclear at this point whether this action is to be viewed as punitive or evasive. Neither Porter nor Smith’s immediate supervisor Supt Linwood Dilliard (also president of COGIC International Youth Department) have made any public statements although the situation has received widespread attention. Has Smith been booted from the denomination? If so, it would seem to verify all the allegations against him.

Has Smith been put on lay low status until the controversy dies? If so, it could indicate his leaders are avoiding dealing with the obvious breaches to COGIC’s policy and doctrine.

Covering or Coverup?

smith-dilliardHow much about Smith’s sexual proclivities did Porter and Dillard know and when did they know it? Is this situation like many others in COGIC where even though leadership is aware of the serious moral and ethical failings of its pastors, they ignore it in their quest to build district and jurisdictional clout within the denomination? Or ignore it because a person has a position and can deliver emotional orations like deceased Bishop JD Husbands?

Records we found show that Smith initially began his COGIC career as a member of a district under the late Bishop JO Patterson, Jr as early as 2007. At some point, he transferred to the Tennessee Central Jurisdiction.

Serious sexual immorality charges emerge on Memphis COGIC pastor; no response from Linwood Dilliard or Bishop Brandon Porter

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

fsmithSerious 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 arrest reportSmith’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.

 

Pastor pleads guilty to sexual battery; church shut down permanently

March 3, 2014 4 comments

gavelWe’re a little late on this but needed to get it on the record.

Several months ago, COGIC Pastor Michael Bryant of Memphis was arrested for a lurid case of sexual molestation and battery of a young girl reportedly a family member. See our stories here and here.

WREG reported that Bryant pled guilty to the charges and his church was shut down permanently.

Michael Bryant, pastor at Hour of Restoration COGIC in Memphis, was in general sessions court Thursday for what was supposed to be a bond reduction hearing.
Instead, defense attorney Art Horne says he and the prosecution worked out a plea agreement in a “criminal information” that will be brought before a judge in criminal court.

“The case is settled,” said Bryant’s defense attorney, Art Horne. “He’s pleading guilty to sexual battery by an authority figure and the sentence will be six years at 30 percent. And we’ll ask for probation.”

“We’re hoping that some good can come out of this, particularly getting this behind the family and allowing people some time to heal and move on,” Horne continued.

Horne says Hour of Restoration COGIC, a small church with 27 members, will shut down for good as of December 31, 2013.
Bryant remains locked up at 201 Poplar on $1 million bond.
According to an affidavit of complaint, Bryant had been touching a 16-year-old inappropriately for the past two years. She told her mother, but instead of calling the police, her mother and Bryant decided to pray together over the matter in hopes of driving the thoughts out of his head. If convicted as charged, Bryant could have faced between six and 15 years in prison.
Horne says Bryant pleading guilty may be what is best for everybody involved.

“We’re hoping that some good can come out of this, particularly getting this behind the family and allowing people some time to heal and move on,” Horne said.

COGIC did not publish the outcome of its internal investigation allegedly conducted by Bishop Brandon Porter.

COGIC Inc lawyer responds to Memphis Pastor’s sex abuse arrest

December 21, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

michael-bryantMemphis’ 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:

U.Henderson

Uleses C. Henderson, Jr., COGIC General Counsel

“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.

More implications

“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]