Competing with the din of punching hammond organ music, shouts of praise and punctured preaching in Church of God in Christ congregations around the country, are voices that don’t get praise or prominence. Its the few who have spoken out about the strong spiritual and moral current in the denomination which is carrying the church downstream away from its holiness roots and previous adherence to biblical mandates. Generally such individuals are quickly branded as “troublemakers” and characterized as “fighting leadership”. That diminishes the impact of their words and allows for the pentecostal praise fest to continue among the rank and file members. After all, acknowledging the words of a prophet who speaks truth to leadership would give them legitimacy and its appears COGIC leadership has mastered the art of denying such voices a place to be heard. The show must go on.
But still they speak because the Spirit of the Lord commands it.
Dr. Edward Lee Johnson, son of Bishop Johnnie Johnson and brother of COGIC scholar Dr. Alonzo Johnson, took his message public after a letter decrying the treatment of Supt Earl Carter to COGIC leadership went unanswered.
On March 3, Johnson launched his “Prophetic Argumentative Essay” and contended that COGIC’s Presiding Bishop had supported, openly endorsed and had given authority to speak corruption from the pulpit of West Angeles. On the list were the Rev. Peter Gomes, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, Congressman Bobby Rush, and self proclaimed gay performer Tonex aka “B. Slade”. The common bond with all the men? Homosexuality.
In just the past 108 years God raised up the Church Of God In Christ with the purest Biblical practices since the birth of the New Testament Church. Even racism was brought to its knees for a brief period in Bishop Mason’s ministry. Magic Johnson, a “poster child” for the LGBT community has officially infiltrated our ranks as a (COGIC member). (Listen to his admitted statement with Anderson Cooper during the Donald Sterling debacle.) All it takes for the Church Of God In Christ to change its position against same sex marriage is for enough of the Johnson and Rush types to “creep” into our church. And trust me, there are many that are not highly visible but believe just like them among us. If people will not obey the Bible—what makes you think they will obey your constitution?
We all should be taking a lesson from the US Supreme Court on this grave issue; you only need one deciding vote. I am literally ashamed of the current leadership of our church in this area. Black people are blaming White conservatives for not being compassionate, and having a racist slant—but the Black churches have bought into the liberal agenda of the country, and have almost completely “sold out” on “good morals” and biblical principles. That may not have been the intentions when the church took sides with the political parties—but it’s the reality of where we are presently. And guess who is taking the brunt of the suffering in their communities as a result of poor leadership on the national level among people of color?
Read the entire commentary JUDGMENT-COGIC General Assembly.
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.
Its 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?
How 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
Serious 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’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.
Report COGIC Abuse launched on the birthday of COGIC founder Bishop CH Mason to highlight the need for holiness emphasis on sexual integrity among leaders
Charles Harrison Mason, undoubtedly one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century, was born September 8, 1866 just outside Memphis, Tennessee and later founded what has become the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination.
The church he left upon his death in November 1961 has changed. Greed, avarice, pride, infighting, division and sexual immorality have darkened the spiritual legacy while “the show” of church continued unabated.
Because of growing incidents of sexual abuse of women and children by church leaders, and the coverup of those crimes, Report COGIC Abuse was launched 5 years ago. The site’s main goal is to empower the people of COGIC with reliable information, resources and a grass roots friendly instrument to fight the culture of silence and inaction which emboldens sexual predators to continue their devastation upon innocent men, women and children. We believe Bishop Mason would not have stood by silently in the face of such grave abuses of someone’s sexual sanctity. The site also raises up the profile and plight of victims and the families who are often quickly pushed to the side and forgotten.
We’re thankful, grateful and humbled by the changes that have been enacted since Report COGIC Abuse began its mission five years ago. But sadly, we must continue exposing wolves, fighting predators and crying aloud until victory is won.
Rest in peace Bishop Mason.
The undercover sex wolves in COGIC are NOT going to like this.But COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake deserves some much needed praise for putting the sword to sexual sins during his address at COGIC’s 64th International Women’s Convention in Louisville this past week. The teaching is masterful and befitting instruction from the office of the Presiding Bishop especially in times like these when adultery, fornication, homosexuality and sexual manipulation sins are cresting IN the church.
Not only did Bishop Blake methodically hit the biblical, moral and physical consequences of said sexual sins, he laid out factual statistics as well.
Now, if he would just do a repeat at the Men’s Conference. Watch all three excerpts below.
Report COGIC Abuse, in partnership with I Am My Brothers Keeper Christian Advocacy Council, held Open Forum Discussion on Victims Advocacy Saturday, April 5th. The Forum was well attended and lasted for 2.5 hours. You can listen to the audio of the event by clicking here (Part 1, introductions and presentation by Pastor DL Foster) and here (Part 2, concluding remarks by Pastor DL Foster). Segments 3-5 of the event are available at Dunamis Word Blog.
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.
Memphis’ 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:
“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.
“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]