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Federal lawsuit seeks to unseat COGIC General Assembly Chairman

November 15, 2014 Leave a comment

rcagraphic-johnsonvshuntAlleging abuse of power and refusal to abide by the Church of God in Christ constitutional mandates among other grievances, a 17 page federal lawsuit was filed November 8th in the US District Court of Northern Illinois against General Assembly Chairman, Bishop James Hunt, Sr.  The COGIC, Inc was also named as a defendant.

Hunt became Chairman of the General Assembly when Bishop J.O. Patterson Jr. of Memphis died in 2011.

The suit was filed by Pastor Andre Johnson, who is listed as the “court overseer”. [source]

Since the suit is not filed on behalf of the church’s Judicial Court, its unclear where the battle lines will fall in this case.

Johnson is no stranger to legal battles.  In 2008, he sued Kimberly Ann Lewis in the same court for libel, slander and assault. [source]  The suit identified Lewis as a member of St Paul COGIC in Detroit. According to court documents, the married pastor carried on a “brief but intense”  sexual relationship with Ms Lewis while on a ministry engagement in Detroit and that due to his deception, should be removed from office.  Johnson contended that the woman showed up at the 2008 Bishops Conference in Chicago to accused him openly but was later legally forced into silence about the case.  Johnson said he had already been disciplined by his jurisdictional bishop Robert Sanders for the adultery but what that discipline entailed is unknown. In 2009,  both parties agreed to an existing permanent injunction order. Read the full court case Johnson vs Lewis

This latest lawsuit reflects yet another example of how the church hierarchy seems to be imploding. Unable to quell the lust for power, authority and the money it brings, legal battles continue unabated.

We’ve posted the official court document under Letters and Documents.

COGIC denies indecision on suspending sex abusing Pastor

December 26, 2013 Leave a comment

The COGIC, Inc. has posted an undated, unattributed statement on its website denying a FOX News report that it was undecided about suspending Memphis Pastor Michael Bryant who was arrested for sexual abuse of a minor. In the past, the website has been unceremoniously scrubbed clean of such notices.

FOX reporter Greg Coy posted the story Dec 19, citing an email from “COGIC officials”:

In an e-mail to FOX13 News COGIC officials said they are very concerned about the allegations against Rev. Bryant but have not decided if they will remove him from the pulpit.

“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

But after increased attention on the story, COGIC responded with the following:

Last week, Michael Bryant, pastor of Hour of Restoration Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tennessee, was arrested on charges of sexual battery against his 16-year-old stepdaughter.  Pastor Bryant has since been suspended indefinitely from all of his ministerial duties. The Church of God in Christ does not tolerate such acts.

There has been a fair amount of inaccurate information in the media regarding this matter.  The Church of God in Christ has never told the media that it had not made a decision as to whether Pastor Bryant would be removed from the pulpit.  There is an internal process to handling matters of this kind that is being followed.  We ask for your continued prayers for all of those affected by this matter, especially the teenage victim.

The Church of God in Christ has no further comment on this matter.”

FOX News updated its original story on December 24 “UPDATE: COGIC Pastor Bryant, accused off [sic] sexual abuse, has been suspended indefinitely according to church General Council.”

While the church denied that it was undecided about suspending Bryant, it didn’t clarify when he was suspended. Nor at what point after the church found out, did the suspension occur. Instead it re-emphasized an “internal process to handling matters of this kind”.

The church’s confusing application of its policies and resolutions may be at the heart of the problem with “inaccurate information.”  A 2002 General Assembly resolution gave the Presiding Bishop and General Board  “the authority to suspend any officer elected or appointed including but not limited to Bishops, Supervisors, Pastors, Elders, Minister, Missionaries, Evangelists or Deacons  pending the outcome of any allegations of misconduct which has the potential to substantially impact the National Church financially, morally and spiritually.”

Can the Presiding Bishop suspend upon notice of arrest? Not clear.

Does the Presiding Bishop or General Board have to wait until a case is fully resolved before a person can be suspended? Not clear.

If the accused person admits guilt to the police and its known, is the Presiding Bishop and General Board cleared to suspend the person? Not clear.

The timing of a suspension seems to be intentionally ambiguous. That may be because of legal advice. At any rate, it muddies the entire “internal process” and dishonors victims the church claims to concerned about.

See the 2002 Resolution on Sexual Misconduct Suspensions

“Always Liars”: A letter from Bishop RE Ranger, part II

February 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Part 2 of 4. CAPS are the Author’s Part 1

(9) We are now being told that the so called “EXECUTIVE BOARD” alone composes the BOARD OF BISHOPS. The others of you who are State Bishops must just pay your money and take “ORDERS”. Tell me, can a “baby” become his own father? The BOARD OF BISHOPS gave the authority to the so-called EXECUTIVE BOARD to function for one year in leadership or until another SENIOR BISHOP had been elected. The SUPREME COURT of the STATE of TEXAS holds, since its JUDGMENT was given in 1963, that the power to this group to act ceased  December 7, 1962, when Bishop Ozro T. Jones was elected SENIOR BISHOP. Only a Federal Court can overturn that judgment. Now, please tell me “How can a baby” become his own father? Bishop L.H. Ford, of Chicago, IL admitted in his sworn testimony in Kountze, Texas (Hardin County) when he and Bishop AB McEwen were there as representatives of the so called EXECUTIVE BOARD that the BOARD OF BISHOPS created the EXECUTIVE BOARD. He further admits under oath in court that they were to serve for 1963. COURT RECORDS WILL SHOW THIS! If according to his testimony, the BOARD OF BISHOPS created them for just one year, how have they now become the BOARD OF BISHOPS that created them? Somewhere, there is a dead cat on the line.

(10) If the BOARD OF BISHOPS is nothing, if the General Assembly is only a rubber stamp to validate the illegal actions taken in the Elder’s Council which has no legislative CONSTITUTIONAL powers, if the SENIOR BISHOPS office leaves him only as a figure head, why should the STATE BISHOPS who have the leadership of all of the people who compose the state assemblies all over the nation, continue “Fattening Frogs to feed Snakes?” Taxation without representation is tyranny. Suppose every STATE BISHOP just holds back his report until a little sense can percolate through a few of those who have BLOCK-HEADS? BISHOPS you do not have to fear these men. They have already shown themselves to be plain Hitler-Stalin type dictators. What would the CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST be like if  they held power 10 years? I will answer; we would all be a group of spineless dupes and theological slaves!  God told Ezekiel, “Son of Man stand upon thy feet and I will speak to thee.” Ezekiel 2:1 If we want God to be among us and bless our labor the time has come for each of us to “stand upon our feet”.  This little group of twelve to fourteen men are not the BOARD OF BISHOPS. THEY ARE NOT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, having sole legislative power in the CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST. We are all very certain that no one of them is the SENIOR BISHOP. Although the great trouble that we now must face really hinges on the fact that a great number of them want to be the SENIOR BISHOP THEMSELVES. As SENIOR BISHOP O. T. JONES will not hurry up and die as some of them were so very certain that he would when he was elected December 7, 1962, they are now seeking to seize the office by coldly, calculated, cunningly and determiningly designed “RAPE OF THE OFFICE”. Your money is being spent to promote this very cohesive and constantly concurring group of conspirators, of evil purpose. Have you been threatened? If you have not, watch it! You may expect to be before your get away from Memphis, Tenn. April 12-14, 1966.

Hear me today! There is no place that I seek in any capacity of leadership in the CHURCH. I have already won the battle in the courts of our State, that many of your states will have to win, if you State Bishops survive as leaders and not serve as SLAVES: HEAR MY WORDS TODAY! “I would rather speak the truth to ten than blandishments and lying to a million. Try it, ye who think there is nothing in it. Try what it is to speak with God behind you—to speak as as to be only the arrow in the bow which the Almighty draws” H.W.B.

Bad words are as influential as the plague and the pestilence. They have wrought more evil than battle, murder and sudden death. They creep through the ears into the heart, call up all of its bad passions and tempt it to break God ‘s commandments. A few bad words got into the ear  of the mother of mankind and they led here on to eat the forbidden fruit and thus to bring death into the world. G. Morgridge

General Assembly Chairman warns against election tricks

November 4, 2012 Leave a comment

The COGIC Chairman of the General Assembly released a memorandum warning  “candidates for National Office and all individuals vying for positions in the national church”  (and their anonymous supporters) against releasing anonymous negative letters during the church’s convocation which begins Monday in St. Louis.

There is good reason for Elder James Hunt to release the admonition: its been a recurring character cesspool for the church. As Hunt’s memorandum noted, these letters are circulated to whip up wild speculation and fuel gossip in an attempt to smear whatever candidate is mentioned in the letter. To our knowledge, Hunt is the first to address it publicly. Which goes without saying that it is shameful it hasn’t been forcefully dealt with before by previous administrations.

COGIC’s bizarre culture of  secrecy and its anonymous rock throwers club has bred this type of scurrilous behavior. An underground cult of men who lead double lives as respected ministers, transform themselves into low class thugs during the elections. No one has traced any of it to a candidate which is reminiscent of mob behavior.

Hunt urged candidates and their anonymous surrogates to “take the high road” and consider that their actions reflect negatively on the church and even the Lord Jesus.

The question is will Hunt’s warning curtail any of the behavior.

Hunt became Chairman of the General Assembly when Bishop J.O. Patterson Jr. of Memphis died last summer.

Presiding Bishop comments on COGIC sex crimes and money issues

March 29, 2012 1 comment

In 2009, according to documented testimony by COGIC’s presiding bishop, the denomination on average pays out approximately $800,000 annually to settle clergy sexual abuse legal claims.

But a year later, in a  2010 report to the General Assembly, Bishop Blake told delegates that financial payouts for “settlements” had dramatically increased.

After “expressing concern” over the denomination’s  financial health due in part to improper financial recordkeeping, the minutes reflected that  “Bishop Blake noted the need for adjustments to be made and highlighted the fact that approximately $1.7 million is spent on legal fees and settlements.”

Then, as if to connect then segue:

“Bishop Blake expounded on the problem of sexual misconduct by clergy and emphasized that such criminal activity must be properly reported.  He also intimated that the general church could not pay legal expenses for local and jurisdiction litigation.”

Even though the church’s chief lawyer Enoch Perry  falsely informed the church’s general assembly that in over 100 years of COGIC there had “only been 20-25 processed cases of  sexual misconduct”. Perry did not say what constitutes a sexual abuse case nor why with such a low number of cases, the church pays out such large sums of money to compensate victims each year.

His GA testimony was in sharp conflict with Bishop Blake’s $800k statement. The math between the two statements were worlds apart.

Another note of interest:  Given the prior numbers and statements from the Perry, no one (at least not on record) ever questioned the presiding bishop as to why settlement payouts had increased and who the money was paid to.

As we pointed out here, COGIC’s own “sexual abuse policy”  approved by Blake says that “The local jurisdiction and the National Church can all be held liable for of the acts of one individual.” This was the case in Washington State where after a legal defeat in the case of Supt Charles Smith, the church had to pay a $1 million dollar settlement. The jurisdictional headquarters was later sold.  And several years prior in Illinois (5th jurisdiction) the church paid $1.5 million settlement (see this) because of a failure of leadership to discipline a known sexually immoral pastor.

April 2010 GA Minutes (contains cited remarks)

April 2011 Minutes

November 2011 Minutes

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.

Did Enoch Perry, COGIC’s top lawyer, reveal coverup strategy?

October 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Originally published March 30, 2010
Calls for pastors to keep media attention away from sexual abuse cases in the church

Enoch Perryperry-enoch III is a man on a mission. A dubious one no doubt, but a mission nonetheless. He’s lethal against people who accuse COGIC leaders of sexual abuse because he used to be a judge so he is keen to how the “system” works. Currently, the seemingly unbridled sycophant is pulling the Church of God in Christ into legal, moral and ethical quicksand. But the top brass in COGIC apparently like him and his advice. So our job is to document the proceedings as a witness to such reckless folly.

Perry has been COGIC’s chief behind-the-scenes architect of sexual abuse “policy” in the last few years. He’s navigated church leadership though numerous legal waters with ubiquitous ease, donning different faces, depending on which court room he happened to find himself in. In November 2009, when Bishop Charles Blake dropped a bombshell announcement that his denomination spent on a yearly average of $800,000 to settle sexual abuse claims against the church, he actually thanked Perry for his cacophony of supporting distortions.

But Perry does have one major fear. He fears the media connecting the dots to the sordid events perpetrated by sexual predators in COGIC (44 and counting) and like the current Catholic church debacle, putting all the dirty business on NBC nightly news, FOX, ABC and other outlets. To that end, he tells COGIC pastors to keep attention away from sexual abuse cases.

“Media coverage of any sexual oriented event and the church will have a negative slant. The pessimistic coverage will have a direct impact on the overall public perception of the church involved, its corporate body and its membership. Additionally, this negativity will directly affect new membership and outside donations.”

Perry is still miffed at the excellent reporting the Dallas Observer did on Sherman Allen which led to a reopening of the case and a potential PR nightmare for COGIC. In his deposition, he called blogs who reported the story “gossip rags”. The problem was the reporting on real facts threatened the flow of donor money the church was getting from corporations. And who cares about victims when money is at stake?

If anyone ever doubted that COGIC leadership has an intentional strategy of diversion on clergy sexual abuse cases, perhaps this is the smoking gun. And all of it can be attributed to the devious counsel of Enoch Perry. His heartless crusade to paint victims of clergy abuse out of the picture or as “problems” for the church is evident in this presentation given to the church’s “General Assembly” last November. You can read or download the 16 page presentation here.

The above statement is so dizzying that we have to break it down so that you see its elements. Notice that Perry pitches media coverage, not the crimes committed by clergy, as the church’s “vulnerability”.

epp13

Perry: “Media coverage of any sexual oriented event will have a negative slant.”

The negativity doesn’t come because the media invents it, it comes because a grown man sexually violated a young woman or a young man. Perry’s perspective helps the criminals look like victims of media bias rather than the lowlife criminals they really are.

Perry: “The pessimistic coverage will have direct impact on public perception…”

Why label coverage as “pessimistic” (meaning seeing the worst in a situation) when it is the actions of sexually deviant leaders who are causing the “pessimism”? And just what does Perry expect the secular media to say or think about a church who claims to be the “greatest church in the world” with preachers raping boys and girls? Is there something positive in this we are missing? This is just another way of saying that COGIC’s “name, image and assets” must be protected at all cost, including at the expense of victims.

Perry: “This negativity will directly affect new membership and outside donations.”

There’s the money quote. The BIG reason why COGIC must keep clergy sex abuse cases quiet. Translation: Keep up the lies and charade in order to fool people into thinking that all is well. If we let the media find out we have sexual predators in positions of authority people wont join and money wont come into the church’s bank account. After all what’s more important than keeping the money flowing and deceiving people on the outside of the church? Perry should be arrested for encouraging such blatant deception when people’s lives are in the balance.

The numbers game

Pastor Harvey Burnett took a look at the numbers and came to some conclusions that are almost unbelievable. Stay with me on this.

“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]

Later, Presiding Bishop Charles Blake remarks included the following:

“Presiding Bishop Blake thanked Judge Perry for his remarks regarding the church’s policy in relationship to sexual misconduct. he pointed out that, on average, the church spends about $800,000 to settle legal matters many of which have to do with accusations of sexual misconduct. (Who made the comment? and that one singe lawsuit has the potential to bankrupt the church.)” ~ [2009 COGIC General Assembly Minutes Pg. 3 Para. 2 as it is in the minutes]

Now it seems to be somewhat of a disconnect. How can a settled lawsuit be unsuccessful when $800,000 on average is paid toward the settlement and legal matters regarding it? According to Perry’s numbers, this would mean that about $16,000,000 to $20,000,000 dollars (almost $200,000 per year over 100 years) have been paid out to adjudicate matters of this kind and this is only from the national church perspective. I believe these numbers don’t even begin to tell the real story however, because the fact is that it has been documented that over the last 20 years there have been over 35 visible cases of clergy sexual misconduct and abuse among COGIC clergy. Some of these cases were highly publicized and ended in incarceration.

If we condense even Perry’s numbers (which are more than likely understated) into the 20 to 25 year period of time in which we can document publicized cases of abuse and misconduct, that would mean that the church has paid an average of approximately $1,000,000 per year toward the adjudication of sexual misconduct cases. Remember this is $1,000,000 per year of national report and auxillary fund dollars collected and paid to defend and or settle sexual abuse, misuse, harassment, and other sexual misconduct cases.

If you find this at all disturbing, its because it really is. The “presentation” given by Perry to the denominational leaders encouraged duplicity, equivocation, and unethical if not downright illegal activity among so called holiness leaders. Maybe they are already used to operating this way, that’s why no one has called for his resignation. Per the presentation, victims of clergy sexual abuse can expect to receive no mercy, no compassion and no help from Church of God in Christ leaders which is just another reason why they really should drop the “God in Christ” from their name. Perhaps a more suitable name would be Church of Name, Image and Assets (CONIA).

Other stories on Enoch Perry:
Under oath, COGIC legal counsel Enoch Perry makes stunning admissions
Surveying COGIC’s “justice system”