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Breaking: Atlanta law firm to file federal racketeering lawsuit against COGIC Presiding Bishop; Board of Bishops Chairman

August 30, 2013 3 comments

cogicbishops-hosleyAtlanta – Charges of leadership abuses by the administration of Bishop Charles Blake, Sr may have crested with a new volley of potential legal charges. Today Report COGIC Abuse confirmed an Atlanta law firm has sent a letter to the  Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Presiding Bishop and its Chairman of the Board of Bishops informing them of the intent to file a federal lawsuit alleging racketeering, theft by extortion and several other charges.

Report COGIC Abuse obtained an original copy of the letter sent to Bishop Charles Blake, Sr of Los Angeles and Bishop John Sheard of Detroit dated August 27 by attorneys from the law firm of Changus Campbell LLP on behalf of its clients Bishop Larry Shaw of Savannah, GA and Bishop Thomas Holsey of Dover, DE.

Also named as a potential defendant in the lawsuit is the Church of God in Christ, Inc.

Blake and Sheard are accused of violating  O.C.G.A. [Official Code of Georgia Annotated] § 16-14-9 (RICO) . § 16-18-16 (theft by extortion) and  and § 16-14-3 (9)(B) (theft chargeable under the laws of the United States).  The two are alleged to have engaged in a “pattern of racketeering activity…conspiring together or with others to violate O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4.”

Perhaps the most serious charge is that the Presiding Bishop violated IRS laws by failing to “properly report, identify and pay taxes on revenues generated from offerings within the church”, thus jeopardizing the denomination’s tax exempt status.

The letter cites evidence yet to be revealed accusing Bishop Sheard of offering controversial Atlanta media personality William McCray III (ordained COGIC elder; red glasses) “thousands of dollars” to post defamatory information on his website called Obnoxious Blog.  See those reports here and here.  McCray has claimed that the Sheards are personal friends.  Warning: profanity and graphic descriptions of sexual activity on this site.

The letter also contends that Sheard instructed McCray to post the false and defamatory information prior to 2012 COGIC elections in an attempt to destroy Shaw’s re-election efforts. Bishop Shaw is currently secretary of the denomination’s Board of Bishops. Sheard and Shaw have been in a long standing dispute over Sheard’s unjust persecution of fellow Bishop Thomas Holsey.  See our previous coverage here.

It appears this entire situation was supposed to have remained private between the accused parties and the law firm until a September 13 deadline had expired. But sources tell Report COGIC Abuse, Sheard immediately forwarded the letter via email two days later without comment to about 20 select bishops. Its unclear if he consulted with the Presiding Bishop before doing so or had his approval.

We’ve posted a copy of the letter in our letters and documents section. RCA will continue to update this story as pertinent information becomes available.

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Holsey case could be the benchmark of COGIC political injustices

June 28, 2013 1 comment

cogicbishops-hosley

Some men in the Church of God in Christ seem to be intent on forcing the church back into a chapter of its history appropriately dubbed the  “dark period”  after the death of founder CH Mason.  Across the length and breadth of the church; reports of political wars, leadership abuses and struggles for power have eclipsed the church’s glorious days when its doctrine of sanctification and holiness made it unique.

Holsey vs Blake and Sheard

A growing number of frustrated and angry voices continue to mount against controversial Chairman of the Church of God in Christ Board of Bishops John Sheard of Michigan. We’ve reported  before on Sheard’s incompetence, unbridled disregard for COGIC’s rule of law and his inability to lead the denomination’s bishops with integrity. See reports here, here and here.

In what could prove to be the benchmark of COGIC political injustices, the case involving embattled Delaware Bishop Thomas Holsey has stirred up prominent voices in COGIC and the outcome may result in the toppling of Bishop Sheard from power.  The sheer punitive nature which has driven Sheard and Bishop Charles Blake to persecute Hosely has shocked some leaders into vocal –and public–  opposition.

Bishop Larry Shaw of Georgia has now released a detailed letter accusing Sheard –and by proxy Blake–  of the unjust persecution of Holsey. The Delaware bishop who was consecrated and installed by Blake has now become public enemy #1 with Blake and Sheard moving swiftly to strip him of his authority and place among fellow bishops.

According to the letter, Shaw contends: “It is painfully clear that the Chairman of the Board of Bishops has placed himself in direct conflict with the rule of law, order and process as he continues to drag this Board into unnecessary infighting, insignificant scrimmages, political squabbling and a constant power grab by the overly ambitious. He has unilaterally issued verdicts and decisions which continue to bring National embarrassment to this honorable body…furthermore; to many of us it seems that he has allowed himself to be sidetracked by persons who do not wish to protect the future of this great Board of Bishops. ”

The letter details plans to demote Holsey despite the fact he had already been tried by a jury of his peers, sentenced and satisfactorily completed all the requirements of his sentencing.  (The sentence was declared in November 2010 and completed two years later to the date). In secular court,  trying an individual for the same “crime” is called double jeopardy and is illegal. But it seems that COGIC’s leaders suspend basic fairness and instead like Islamic terrorists rush to behead Bishop Holsey from the ecclesiastical heritage he served to obtain.

Shaw, the Board’s secretary, said that Holsey was cleared by a  Release Order dated April 2013,  rendered by the National Judiciary Board and given to John Sheard. This Judicial order ruled in Bishop Holsey’s favor and allowed him to continue to serve his Jurisdiction as Jurisdictional Prelate without restrictions. This Executive Order was read aloud by Judge Enoch Perry III to the specially called meeting of the Executive Board of the BOB.

But later, under a cloak of secrecy and in violation of COGIC’s constitution, Sheard ordered Holsey retried and demoted.  We’ve posted Bishop Larry Shaw’s  entire letter under Letters and Documents.

Shaw himself was accused by the family of a boy who was molested by a NC music minister of  publicly demeaning them after they sought  justice via the legal system. [report]

Delaware money battle ignites more legal threats

September 4, 2012 3 comments

The festering  fallout after the November 2011 trial of embattled Delaware Bishop Thomas Holsey has flared up again.

This time, charges of perjury and what could amount to receiving stolen property have been aired, implicating  the Church of God in Christ’s top leaders including its Presiding Bishop and 1st Assistant Presiding Bishop.

In response, threats of lawsuits and legal challenges have surfaced after Holsey sent a letter to Board of Bishop’s Chair John Sheard, demanding assistance in recouping loans from his jurisdiction totaling over $700,000.  The largest indebtor?: Bishop PA Brooks who is accused of receiving almost $200,000 of some four million dollars of “missing money”. In response, both Blake and Brooks have released open letters of defense against the charges.

Brooks wrote to Delaware jurisdictional leaders that Bishop Blake had removed Holsey for insubordination and even cited Titus 1:7 requiring that a bishop be blameless as biblical justification for the removal from office.

“As of July 16th, 2010, due to Bishop Thomas Holsey [sic] refusal to cooperate with the Episcopal Oversight Committee (EOC), having no other remedy to protect the best interest of the Jurisdiction but to place interim leadership; pursuant to page 5, paragraph (a) and pages 17 and 18, of the Official Manual, over the Jurisdiction. As noted, “Given the gravity and the emergency nature of the situation”, Bishop Blake has appointed me as the interim Jurisdictional Bishop until such time things are stable or other leadership protocols are defined an [sic] implemented.” [source]

Holsey later faced a trial of his peers, but according to some sources the verdict was overturned. Then in July, a letter from a group claiming to represent the Board of Bishops demanded Bishop Blake cease from “degrading” Holsey’s character. An intervention was staged during the 2012 AIM convention in Birmingham.

Shouldn’t a bishop be blameless?

With all of the accusations, charges, counter-charges and legal threats, wouldn’t such actions  disqualify a bishop according to 1 Timothy 3:2? A bishop must be blameless, it reads. By blameless, it should be understood that sinless perfection is not the standard, but rather that a bishop’s life should be above reproach before consecration and remain above reproach after consecration. If Holsey is in violation of Titus 1:7 and 1 Timothy 3:2, wouldn’t Blake and Brooks both be equally at blame until the matter is free and clear? Neither’s episcopal career has met the “above and beyond reproach” plumbline test.

All letters associated with this story can be found under the Letters and Document section.

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

Urgent letter seeks justice for Delaware COGIC Bishop

July 2, 2012 4 comments

BREAKING – An unnamed Washington DC source saying it represented a group of COGIC bishops, sent the following letter to Report COGIC Abuse seeking help in bringing attention to the case  of Bishop Thomas Holsey. You can read our initial coverage of  the case here. Apparently, Holsey’s supporters believe he is being treated unjustly by Presiding Bishop Charles Blake.

What follows is unedited by this site.

“Instead of the presiding bishop dealing with the immorality of the church, he continues to ruin a mans reputation who has been tried and declared to be restored by his board of bishops.  This document is the current affair of the board of bishops to stop the presiding bishop from further degrading this bishops character because he stood up for his rights and won.  What will the chairman of the board do in reference to this letter?”

CONCERNED BISHOPS
BOARD OF BISHOPS
CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST, INC.
June 28, 2012
Dear Brother Bishops of the Church of God in Christ Board of Bishops:
This is an appeal to your empathy for a colleague, Bishop Thomas L. Holsey, Jurisdictional Prelate of the Delaware Jurisdiction.

We must insist on another opportunity to correct a serious error in process and judgment as it relates to the Ecclesiastical Trial of Bishop Thomas Holsey. The time has come for us to stand for what is right for our brother Bishop in the sense of reconciliation.
Fairness, integrity, and justice dictate that we move decisively and with courage to clarify who we are as a Board and what we believe we owe our Church and one another. Acting responsibly and restoring our credibility and reputation as the Board of Bishops both dictate that we move with all deliberate speed as a unit.
Our future is at stake as it relates to how we handle the case before us. There is a clarion call and plea for closure of this case. If it had been properly handled originally, we would not have to address it at this time. The time has come that we must act with courage to support our fellow Bishop! It is the right thing to do!
Bishops, at this critical and defining moment in our proceedings, we must not allow ourselves to be governed by what is politically correct, or convenient, or popular. We must be governed by what is right, what is just, and what is fair. It is the right thing to do!
We cannot properly adjudicate this case or handle it fairly unless we place ourselves in Bishop Holsey’s shoes. What if you were he? What if your worship service was interrupted and infringed upon? What if you as Pastor of your congregation were asked to step aside right in the middle of a Sunday morning worship service by ranking officers of our National Church? Any one of us could be singled out in like manner for even the most minor infraction.
Please give your voice and support to what is right at the upcoming AIM Convention when the Board of Bishops holds its meeting, JULY 4, 2012, WHICH IS EMANCIPATION DAY.
WE THE MEMBERS OF THE COGIC BOARD OF BISHOPS recommend to our brother Bishops to accelerate the two year probationary period which was to be completed by November 15, 2012, to be fully satisfied on our meeting date, July 4, 2012, at 10:00 am, in Birmingham, Alabama.

We strongly support Bishop Thomas L. Holsey’s return to his COGIC Delaware Jurisdiction unhindered and unencumbered by further interference as long as he abides by the Constitution and By-Laws of the Church of God in Christ and follows the COGIC Constitution and the Constitutionally designated leadership of the Church of God in Christ.

Respectfully yours in Christ,

[signed]