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.
Shocking news has emerged out of Kansas City, KS where several Church of God in Christ pastors have been indicted on charges of bilking thousands of investors out of money through the fraudulent sales of shares in what was called Petro America Corporation. The massive black church ponzi scheme involved ministers in COGIC jurisdictions in both Kansas and Missouri. Unfortunately, thousands of people were robbed of their money. The case is under federal jurisdiction.
According to the Kansas City Star [source], Elder Martin Roper, 45 and Pastor Edward Haliburton both of Kansas City, KS were key front men in the scam. Haliburton has already pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors have alleged that since September 2008, all 12 defendants conspired to commit securities and wire fraud by promoting and selling Petro America shares despite cease and desist orders from Missouri and Kansas regulators.
The indictment said Hawkins gave billions of shares to the co-conspirators, who agreed to sell the stock and return kickbacks.
More than 12,000 victims allegedly invested more than $7.2 million in the company, which they were told was worth almost $300 billion.
The indictment alleged that the conspiracy had “no basis” for the company’s inflated valuation and that its assets consisted of little more than speculative mining claims and nonproducing oil fields.
The defendants often recruited their buyers through churches, the indictment alleged. Recruiting ministers to his scheme, Hawkins purportedly called the group the “Ministers Alliance” and gave its members white fedora hats and millions of Petro shares.
Haliburton is listed in the Kansas East jurisdiction directory as pastor of the Showers of Blessings COGIC located at 2201 Quindaro Blvd. Bishop Lemuel Thuston is the bishop supervising Haliburton.
The Pitch News, a Kansas City based newspaper reported that in addition to his nefarious financial schemes, Roper was convicted of forcible rape. See Kansas state sexual offender registry He was also a minister at Bales Temple Church of God in Christ, 2340 Bales Ave in KCMO , where his brother Otis Roper is the pastor and under the supervision of Bishop John M. Johnson (Western MO 2nd jurisdiction). Roper was one of the key solicitors for PCA and hatched the scheme with the help of other ministers from his African American Pastors and Ministers Alliance (AAPMA). The alliance was simply a front to gain access to gullible black church members. When the scandal broke, The AAPMA quickly issued a public statement in support of its leaders claiming they were “outstanding citizens”.
“Our African American Pastors and Ministers Alliance organization have signed and sent a petition of over 250 names of Missouri Petro America Corp shareholders that have also signed their support for Petro America Corp. Unfortunately, your office has failed to acknowledge our request and is operating under a veil of Public trust to tear down and destroy our business community and we hope and pray this is not at our expense for political gain. Furthermore, we understand that no complaint from a Missouri resident has been filed against Petro America Corp. Also, Mr. Owen Hawkins and Mr. Martin Roper have been champions for minority businesses and are outstanding citizens in our community. We therefore are requesting a meeting with your office as soon as possible.”
But the “ministers alliance” was discovered to be the primary portal by which it drew in church members. The pastors sold out their own members for money. One of those was Allen Collins, a minister at Pentecostal Church of God in Christ in Kansas City, MO. The insatiable greed of the preachers group was stunning. Reports say that even after the Missouri Attorney General issued a cease and desist order the ministers continued selling the fraudulent stocks right up until they were arrested [source].
Owen Hawkins, a ravenous –but dumb– wolf
The prosperity movement has spawned some of the most ravenous wolves in recent times. Consequently, it has negatively impacted the “black church” more than any other religious demographic. Black church members are groomed to be deceived and taught that their desire for wealth and money is godly. But as the scripture says a fool and his money are soon parted. Hawkins knew exactly what to do to manipulate the latent lust of his victims. He got himself a “degree” from a small Bible school and then used it to present himself as a prosperous preacher whom God had blessed. From his website:
Dr. Hawkins received his Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree (D.H.L.) from the Tabernacle Bible College and Seminary in Tampa, Florida on October 28, 2010 for his work of being a catalyst for making the dreams of economic freedom of so many Americans come to fruition. Recipients of this degree in our generation have been only among those considered the elite and renown of modern society. Those such as Mother Theresa, President Roosevelt, President Bill Clinton, President George H.W. Bush, Dr. Billy Graham just to name a few.
But the Better Business Bereau of Greater Kansas City knew that Isreal Owen Hawkins was a crook.
“We first heard about Petro America in late 2008 and recognized it as a Ponzi scheme. Owen Hawkins solicited churchgoers and prayed on their faith as a way of making money. He claimed that Petro America was an upcoming oil company about to go public (for over 2 years) and investments in it would garner strong returns. In actuality, there was no oil company. There was no oil. It was just smoke and mirrors. The Missouri Secretary of State issued a Cease and Desist order against Owen Hawkins, Martin Roper and Petro America also in late 2008. The problems mostly stopped in Missouri, but people outside the state were still being ripped off. Hawkins continued to rake in money, paying himself a $595,000 salary plus a $175,000 bonus. The Better Business Bureau published a reliability report on the company with an F rating.”
None of the jurisdictional bishops or churches involved have made any public statements on the crimes. Its unknown whether any of them profited financially from the scam.