Archive for the ‘policy’ Category

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.

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

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

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, 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

COGIC removes Pastor Erik Cooper for sexual immorality

May 4, 2012 7 comments

In a surprising break from its previous struggles with sexually immoral pastors in the ranks, the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination today issued a strongly worded statement about the removal of one its Arizona pastors while reiterating its sometimes nebulous sexual abuse policies.

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) said that reports to its national office prompted them to investigate the “…alleged lewd conduct and inappropriate sexual acts alleged to have been committed by Pastor Erik M. Cooper, of Phoenix, Arizona, with an adult female church member. ”

Since this was no crime, the church in essence must bear the burden of following biblical truth and holding leaders accountable with consequences.

Pastor DL Foster, who has monitored and reported on issues of sexual immorality and crimes committed by denominational clergy members since 2010,  praised the church for what he called a “strong and biblical response”.

“The statement really is commendable for two reasons. It shows that COGIC leadership is rethinking its previously self-wounding policy of silence and it sends a signal to other hidden offenders to change their ways voluntarily or get confronted. “, he said.  “RCA definitely has worked hard to bring more openness and a more biblically defined approach to dealing with the unrepentant sexual sins of leaders.”

Its comforting to legitimate victims for the church to acknowledge them in its public discourse about clergy sexual misconduct. The Cooper statement did just that. “Ultimately, this policy outlines ways in which to address the specific needs of the victim(s) and the perpetrator(s) in such a way that the good of all will be met.”

Cooper, pastor of Dominion Harvest Christian Church in Phoenix, had resigned after being confronted about the accusations.

“Upon presentation of these accusations to Pastor Cooper, he submitted his resignation and official separation from all responsibilities within the Church of God in Christ (“COGIC”).  This includes his local church, district, the Arizona jurisdiction, and the National Church.

The Church of God in Christ has accepted Pastor Cooper’s resignation and has taken steps to cancel and nullify his COGIC credentials, of every kind and description, including his ministerial license, his ordination, his appointment as pastor, and his membership in the Church of God in Christ.”

Cooper appears to have been a somewhat well known “evangelist” which might have prompted the public statement by COGIC.

Interestingly, the COGIC statement didn’t say if Cooper admitted guilt or that  he repented  then resigned, just that he resigned. That could explain why the church took a slightly harsher approach to removing him from office and nullifying his membership. Gal 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

If a person refuses to acknowledge their sin through repentance which could lead to restoration,  the church should take the necessary steps to ensure such a person can no longer represent the organization.

Read the full statement

Sexual offenders and ministry [POLL VOTE]

March 21, 2012 2 comments

One Wisconsin church has recently begun holding biweekly church “adults only” services, in part as a way to allow convicted sex offenders to “worship”.

The church’s pastor said, “Through our work with prisoners we realized that there might be a need for a service of this kind because many sex offenders cannot for legal reason or should not for therapeutic reasons attend worship service when children are present.” [source]

As more and more sexual offenders are returning to seek a place in the church,  questions about re-admission and ethics must be discussed and written into policy for the church. But RCA would like to know your opinion on the matter. Please respond to the following polls with your vote.

A. If a person is convicted of a sexual crime (rape, molestation, assault, etc) and placed on a sexual offender registry [example] by a law enforcement agency, how long do you think it should be, after fulfilling their conviction requirements, before they are allowed to hold a “ministry” office (pastor, elder, evangelist, bishop, etc)?

B. If the offender’s victim is a child, and placed on a sexual offender list, how long do you think it should be, after fulfilling their conviction requirements, before they are allowed to hold a “ministry” office (pastor, elder, evangelist, bishop, etc?

C. If the offender is on the sexual offender registry for life, should they ever be allowed to hold a ministry office?

D. If the offender is on a sexual offender registry for life for sexual crimes against children, but allowed to hold a ministry office, should prospective members of a church be informed of the offender’s presence in the church?

If you have additional questions or comments, use the post comment section.

Categories: policy, polls, sex crimes

COGIC sexual abuse policies: mandatory or suggestive?

February 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Has the Church of God in Christ made any significant progress in getting its clergy sexual abuse problem under control? The answer to that question may lie with two key factors. (1) The consistent implementation of church policies at the local church level and (2) the denomination’s enforcement mechanisms.

Without these two working in tandem, its only a matter of time –if not already– that another child or defenseless person is raped, molested, sexually abused or worse murdered by a COGIC representative.

In the past, although there have been small steps to address the issue, COGIC leadership under the administration of Bishop Charles Blake has rarely risen above what could be termed convenient “window dressing”. Eager to keep the church name, image and assets out of controversy, church leaders have made shoddy stitches without seeming to take serious the nature of sexual predation and the countless victims it leaves in its wake.

Its missive to the COGIC faithful, entitled “Keys to Reducing Litigation and Avoiding Liability”  may be telling about the denomination’s real motives in dealing with sexual abuse.  Based on 11 key points, the goal seems  purely legal and business oriented.  Its devoid of the concern for vulnerable human life connected to these real tragic crimes. This attitude is typical of those who view victims as “problems” rather than as people who need the church’s love and protection.

Not to mention strange coming from an organization which purports to uphold “holiness” as a standard.

1. Churches must have a comprehensive, written Sexual Misconduct program that includes and explains child sexual abuse issues

2. Workers who have direct contact with minors (this includes jurisdictional officials, pastors, employees and volunteers) must attend regular seminars and forums that disperse pertinent information regarding all ways in which their church can prevent cases of sexual misconduct, especially that of child molestation. Attendance at such sessions should be documented and kept on file.

3. The pressing need for volunteers and/or workers should not negate the need to be diligent as it relates to hiring practices within the Church.

4. There must be a comprehensive application process whereby individuals seeking to be volunteers or employees would be subject to an extensive investigation. Any person seeking a position (paid or unpaid) within the Church must have been a member of the local assembly for at least six (6) months.

5. Overnight trips should be very carefully planned and monitored with an appropriate number of screened adults.

6. Youth leaders must be mindful to avoid even casual, physical contact with a minor child in their care. Touching, hugging, fondling or kissing any young person is strictly prohibited.

7. Sunday school teachers, daycare providers, other youth workers must be alert to mood changes in minor children.

8. Never take light an allegation made by a child. All claims must be investigated immediately and with a great deal of discretion to clearly protect the rights of the child and those of the alleged tortfeasor.

9. Each childcare worker, Sunday school teacher, daycare provider and pastor must know the reporting requirements of their state for suspected child abuse.

10. Each jurisdiction and local church should have one individual responsible for dealing with the press, the police and the congregation at large as it relates to responding to the publicity that surrounds alleged sexual misconduct cases.

11. The local jurisdiction and the National Church can all be held liable for of the acts of one individual.

Its unclear if this was written by someone with a legitimate legal background. None of the policies are ever attributed to any single person, perhaps because they know they are under scrutiny.  For instance, the rigid command word must is mentioned several times, but there is nothing in place if a church, through neglect, ignorance or refusal fails to implement the denomination’s policies. But then in the same document, must is mixed with the suggestive identifier “should” leaving open the option of compliance. The final point is almost bizarre considering that COGIC’s legal representative Enoch Perry has argued —under oath— in numerous cases that the national church has no legal connection with a local church in these matters. See his Sherman Allen deposition.