COGIC takes a step in the right direction

cogiclogo.jpgIn 2004, we were highly critical of the actions of the Church of God in Christ’s now Presiding Bishop Charles Blake. Blake hosted the openly gay religious activist Rev. Peter Gomes, allowing him to “preach” twice at West Angeles Church. The ensuing uproar over that event still lingers to this day. While Bishop Blake deserves all the respect due to his ascendancy to COGIC’s highest office, the man seemed to have serious discernment issues when it came to homosexuality.

We also felt it was highly inappropriate for Bishop Blake to sanction the doctrine of Robert Schuller, the new age positivity guru. As before, it seems Bishop Blake’s ecumenicalism has led him into pastures that are have been de-greened by false doctrine.

But we are enthused to see Bishop Blake take a step in the right direction by openly addressing sexual misconduct and sexual abuse by clergy in the COGIC. For this, we commend him. This open address is well overdue and in our opinion truly separates talkers from doers. Sexual abuse and malfeasance is cresting in the church and for too long it has simply been winked at or “handled” behind closed doors.

In December 2003, we strongly advised, denominations to invest in a radical approach on sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by its clergy. No longer can the church afford to allow men (in most cases) to continue clergy business as usual  while legitimate accusations have been levied against them.

Bishop Blake seemed to take a major step in making that a reality in COGIC in his Address to the General Assembly.[pdf] In it, he outlined 10 of the top priorities for the nation’s largest pentecostal denomination. Concerning sexual abuse, he said:

We now live in a litigious society. People file lawsuits for every conceivable grievance, whether real or imagined. To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ, we must take positive steps to seriously investigate very case of alleged sexual abuse by the clergy. We must stand behind and support those who are falsely accused of sexual improprieties and found innocent by the courts. We must also insure that the Church act quickly to take firm and positive action against those who violate the sanctity of their positions and are found guilty of sexual abuse and other sexual improprieties.”

Perhaps this is in anticipation of a major sexual abuse lawsuit against COGIC. However, the real proof of Bishop Blake’s preliminary steps will be when this is written into public policy and enforcement procedures implemented to ensure there are no loopholes for career church sexual criminals.

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57 thoughts on “COGIC takes a step in the right direction

  1. You know, its really too bad that the COGIC leadership wasn’t moved to investigate and turn in sexaul abusers until the threat of lawsuits became real. If they had only done right for sake of doing right and not to protect their backsides, they wouldn’t be in this predicament now.

    Sorry, but I take little comfort in this ‘strong stance’ that coincidentally happens when they could loose big bucks after damages are awarded to the victims.

    They saw what happened to the Catholics and are trying to avoid the same fate.

    I do understand how it can be seen as a step in the right direction, but to me this 11th hour proclamation is disingenuous.

    JJ

    PS> Congrats on your ‘Charisma’ feature.

  2. As was noted, Blake is on a sinking ship when it comes to doctrine. The people he teams with as was noted above attest to that.

    I feel Blake’s stance is as he says himself in the quote cited, to protect the image of COGIC in a litigious society. Add to that news of a lawsuit. Add to that, it seems claims of sexual abuse in COGIC only run 2nd to Roman Catholicism and there are so many claims in COGIC, if they were better exposed it might dwarf abuse found in the cult of Mary (Roman Catholicism).

    Blakes’ move is to protect “image” because he is at the top. So if COGIC’s image is blown that means Blake’s image is blown.

    I don’t see Blake doing this to keep the Lord’s name from being blasphemed because of hypocrisy in the church, but rather a move he’s taking to keep up appearances.

    If we outside of COGIC know of lots of abuse claims, I’m sure Blake knew of plenty before assuming his post. So he could have spoken on this from day one, but instead speaks days after a potential lawsuit.

  3. I agree with both of you. This is an attempt to save face on Blake’s part.

    However, at least he is not stonewalling and in denial. If it took this lawsuit to finally make that happen, as a survivor of COGIC clergy sexual misconduct, I for one am very glad.

    But you know God gives time and opportunity to correct or judge ourselves, When we refuse, HIS judgment (usually public) is inevitable.

  4. GCM Watch is trigger-happy. This is the downside of unregulated personal media that are not held to some kind of professional ethic.

    I am a Californian who knows that Bishop Blake has always led his Diocese this way, but is new to the Presiding Bishop office. His presence and wise leadership is very timely for the denomination.

    Furthermore, Dr. Gomes spoke at West Angeles Church on a single occasion, but at both Sunday Morning services. Your “report” is bald-faced bias.

    A ministry LIKE GCM Watch is needed. One that is principled. I’ll keep looking,

  5. David, since you know that Bishop Blake has always led his Diocese “this way”, please point us to the following information:

    (1) Verifiable public documentation citing Bishop Blake’s policies on clergy accused of sexual abuse in his diocese.
    (2) Public statements (minus this one) in which Bishop Blake has addressed clergy sexual abuse in any context.
    (3) Cases of clergy sexual abuse in his diocese where we can determine if the outcome was just towards the victim(s)

    If you can produce this, we’d be happy attribute it to Bishop Blake’s wise leadership. Otherwise, your accusations against GCM Watch amount to little more than anger over negative information attached to your favorite preacher.

    Regarding Peter Gomes, your point is moot. Allowing a openly (known) unrepentant homosexual to “preach” at any service is wrong. Plain and simple. Since we’ve discussed that at length, there is no desire to beat dead horses anymore.

    If you’d like to define “professional ethic”, in relation to blogging, we’d also be happy to review it to see if we are in compliance.

  6. I know about Bishop Blake’s ministry and that he routinely provides printed guidelines for all the churches in his jurisdiction. It’s unfair to make unfounded allegations about a person and then expect those who defend him to provide more evidence than you have yourself.

    GCMW: You are saying that you have seen with your own eyes PRINTED policies on clergy sexual abuse handed out by Bishop Blake?

  7. I have as much documentation as I’ve seen on this site to the contrary, and a journalist has the onus of proving an assertion that impugns another’s reputation. That’s what I meant by the downside of unregulated personal media.

    I do know this much: the pastors in his Southern CA Jurisdiction have been all given manuals for conduct and have been required to provide the same to their clergy staff.

    He speaks about it regularly in his Council, the ordained clergy, who convene monthly–no he doesn’t address every month, but often. He stepped it up after the Roman Catholic priest scandals became public.

    Bishop Blake holds monthly meetings with the ordained clergy in his diocese and often brings this up. He began to do it even more frequently after the Catholic scandals broke a few years ago.

    Regarding Dr. Gomes, I didn’t say the invitation was right, only that your assertion was inaccurate, and it’s reflective of your bias that you either can’t see or acknowledge this.

    Further indication of your site being out of control is your allegation that he is my “favorite preacher.” This is so small-minded. I think it was wrong to host Dr. Gomes but you miss the point, or evade it–you made the assertion but would not accept the correction of misinformation.

    If one is going to make statements he should take responsibility for them. I don’t think blogging has a professional ethic, which is my point–it’s downside.

  8. David, there exists no “onus” in the search and verification for information to benefit VICTIMS of clergy sexual abuse. Nor has there been any misinformation.
    Bishop Blake —not GCM Watch— said this was a priority of his administration. This address was issued three months ago. Thus, we (or anyone else) are well within reasonable rights to ask how this will be developed in a practical way.

    We have not seen nor heard of what you claim in defense of Bishop Blake on clergy sexual abuse. If you have evidence to prove any GCM Watch assertions wrong, then present them. “Speaking” about it “regularly is does not have the same impact as a written policy with procedures to enforce corrective measures. Perhaps you are not that aware of the deep and devastating effect of clergy sexual abuse. it deserves much more than a few speeches which cannot be substantiated.

    We are well aware of COGIC’s black manual. That is sorely inadequate in addressing the serious problems with clergy sexual abuse.

    To clarify, we believe these policies —if they exist— should be public. Do you have objections to that?

  9. The bottom line is this, WE KNOW on the word of MANY MANY witnesses that MANY who STILL hold leadership in COGIC ARE CURRENTLY ABUSING people sexually.

    Now Blake can print paper till he’s blue in the face, but he has assumed the role of top man in that organization. Since Blake has assumed that role, how many of the abusers have Blake and the elders with him REMOVED from their posts and helped law enforcement prosecute? Given they have no prison of their own, to hold those who continually harm others. I would suspect if Blake has removed anyone, it was only after their being exposed by the law enforcement authorities of man. Can anyone show Blake has rightly exercised 1 Timothy 5:19-22 without outside intervention? Too many abused saints have said NO.

    Blake printing paper after others were exposed and printing more when facing a lawsuit only shows he moves based on “image”.

  10. You suggested that Blake may be taking his stand because he anticipates a major lawsuit. My rejoinder was that he has guarded his flock in this manner as a matter of practice.

    If there is no onus for an accuser (because you are not a victim of Bishop Blake’s and have no knowledge of his policies) then we have a potential MacMartin situation–confusion and destruction founded on falsity, and therefore it is your responsibility to make sure you know what you are claiming or even suggesting. Otherwise your innuendo goes unchallenged unless a person like myself happens to stumble upon your website.

    I don’t know what Diane, the above poster has, but I have seen the booklet he distributes and I have heard his cautions to the clergy on numerous times. Of course you think that is evidentiary that he is my “favorite preacher” (roll eyes) and dismiss it so you can rant. In my view, your blog is the counterpart of Keith Boykins’–he is a loose cannon in one way and yours is loose antithetically.

    What does the “black manual” have to do with any of this, anyway? I’ll tell you: you are grasping because you don’t know whereof you write.

  11. Bishop Blake SAID (why David continues to ignore this is confusing) “To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ,”

    I saw absolutely nothing concerning helping the victims.

    Of course when your main concern is protecting your name and image, how could you be concerned with victims of the sexual abuse?

    As I was reading his words again, I took note of this:
    “We must also insure that the Church act quickly to take firm and positive action against those who violate the sanctity of their positions…”

    What in God’s name is “positive action”? Is that more of that Robert Schuller gospel of positivity mess that he embraces?

    Like we said this is just a step in the right direction. His sincerety can only be proven if he makes this tangible.

  12. You don’t see the connection between protecting people and protecting image, etc.?

    GCMW: No David, there is no clear parallel. Explain if you care to.
    While you are explaining that, tell us exactly what is your relationship with Bishop Blake, COGIC, etc?
    Please be honest, because you are doing an extremely poor job trying to defend Bishop Blake’s record.

  13. Hey bro GCM! I pray that you are blessed and well in Christ! I understand your desire to want things to be done in the righteousness of Christ Jesus (and I thank God for that in you). Unfortunately, I don’t see anything positive about Blake’s words. In fact I see the opposite of a man of Christ, “To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ, we must take positive steps…” It seems to me that the ‘good ole boy’ of COGIC is more interested in the things of COGIC and protecting it, than the GOD of the universe and the people under his charge. The real ‘man of God’ should be concerned with the sins of the individuals (the sexual and the lying) and the victims (need for Christ, discernment from lying individuals, and help to move past the hurt and abuse) more than the organization. I don’t see Blake’s words as anything more than a p.r. campaign to keep the status quo in order. If COGIC is to survive in Christ, the leadership must change and much of the doctrine that is being preached from the pulpits- to include removing a whole lot of (sinful) pastors must be done away with.

  14. It looks like GCMW is accusing David of being dishonest in the above post. Why? Are we being a bit defensive?

    And by the way, I HAVE personally seen and read the material distributed by Bishop C.E. Blake, since you ask. I first saw it about 5 years ago. Instead of calling other people dishonest, why don’t you just call the Jurisdictional Office at 323-733-8300 and request a copy? All of the elders are given copies, and if you are cordial maybe they’ll send you one, too.

    GCMW: Diane, please cite the quote where David is accused of being “dishonest”? And yes we are defending our position and statements. Its common in discussions like this.
    Secondly, please cite the name of the publication you claim to have seen.

  15. Diane, thanks thats a good idea.

    You still didnt say whether or not this specifically laid out policies and procedures related to clergy sexual abuse. To remind you this post was about what Bishop Blake SAID to the General Assembly. He SAID this was his priority. Therefore, we took what he SAID and explored the reality of that.

    Perhaps that point is lost on you….and David. Reason still unknown.

  16. Im sorry — did we change the subject? I thought this was about clergy sexual abuse. Of course that is what the little book is about–in fact, as I recall, that’s the title.

  17. Elder Foster,

    Commentaries by some of the people are from individuals who don’t know the process of how these matters SHOULD be handled within the COGIC. So I won’t blame them for their lack of understanding of process and misinterpretation of what the Bishop actually said in his address.

    First of all, Bishop admits from his statement that the system that was in place, to be used to resolve and appropriately address all issues for the benefit of the victim, the accused and the church horribly failed. He said,

    ” we must take positive steps to seriously investigate very case of alleged sexual abuse by the clergy.”

    That statement is an admission of system failure at all levels that should not occur and should not have occurred in Pastor Shermann’s case. The process is as follows:

    Upon allegation (true or false) an investigation team is dispatched to the church to independently interview the victim, suspect, and any additional witnesses. This is to be done under the direction of the Jurisdictional Bishop and team members consist of seasoned Elders, Pastors, and possibly other persons of good report and integrity within the church.

    A thorough and detailed report is to be made by the investigative team to the Jurisdictional Bishop outlining the charges, testimonies and initial results and recommendations by the board.

    Once the report is reviewed, a decision is made on how to proceed. If there is credible evidence a Pastor’s trial will proceed and official charges levied against the pastor or offender. The Jurisdiction Bishop will assess the scope of the problem at that point and will involve the General Board if the allegations and evidence warrant such involvement.

    Bishop Blake explains in one statement of his address that the entire process failed and that there must be a higher standard among leadership to address and correct issues as well as comfort victims. In the Texas case, the Jurisdictional Bishop failed his duties and a total system breakdown occurred. That had nothing to do with church doctrine, teachings or beliefs as some of these “PENTECOSTAL haters” suggest.

    The corrective process is in place (been in place for over 26 years) and the process is BIBLICAL and yes we not only shout and dance and SPEAK IN TONGUES, we also know what the bible says. Unfortunately. rules and procedures WERE NOT followed. This is to the shame of that Bishop and administrators. If others are being victomized the process is in place and civil laws do apply. Reports should be made for all credible allegations.

    Elder Foster, as always you wrote an excellent report and make correct assessments and evaluations of the situation in every way including that dealing with Gomes and Schuller. A homosexual should not have gotten 1 minute in the pulpit yet alone preached a message.

    Thanks and God bless as always.

  18. The COGIC Manual gives procedural guidelines for a trial of a Pastor according to the law of the church. This DOES NOT preclude a Bishop from laying down further guidelines within his Jurisdiction or a Pastor laying down their own guidelines within his church, but organizational guidelines demand due process in case of conflicting information.

    What I wanna hear from some of these reformers…What does your church disciplinary procedure look like? Other than the Bible, do you even have one in print anywhere? What’s your trail of elders or system of ministry accountability? I can trace mine all the way to Memphis, TN. How about you?

    Thanks Elder Foster.

  19. You said “Please be honest, because you are doing an extremely poor job trying to defend Bishop Blake’s record.”

    1) Biblically, the protection of people is inseparable from the reputation of its leaders (1 Timothy 3). You said this is unclear to you.
    GCMW: Bishop Blake said /quote/ To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ,” There is no mention nor is it implied he intends to protect the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

    2) Why presume I’ve been dishonest?
    GCMW: You were asked to further clarify your identity and relationship so as to assess your motives. You claim to know, but have not provided any evidence of this “knowing”. Is there a reason why you need to remain anonymous? Your identity would help to establish your credibility, particularly since you are so adamant about correcting perceived “errors”.

    3) He can defend his own record.
    GCMW: He’s more than welcome to do that. If you’d like to pass on the message it would help our readers to better understand his statement to the General Assembly.

    4) You have not recanted your disinformation re: Dr. Gomes, who was at West Angeles for a single occasion, and when confronted, Bishop Blake recognized it as an error and admitted that he was unaware at the time of Gomes’ homosexuality.
    GCMW: The post is about clergy sexual abuse. The mention of Gomes is a historical insert. Please try to stay on topic.

    5) It will give this blog credibility AFTER you acquaint yourself with the booklet that Bishop Blake requires for all clergy in the diocese, not only senior pastors. Further, to research what he has said to the diocese over several years (to clear up what you suggested about him preparing for an impending lawsuit).
    GCMW: We’re not seeking credibility. We following the mandate of Isaiah 58:1. To some church people, perhaps even you, that would amount to noncredibility. Just so you don’t get hung up on that, we aren’t seeking your stamp of approval.

    6) I am still wondering why you introduced the “black manual.”
    GCMW: See comment by Dunamis2

    All I have done is point out the straw man case made in this blog. I think you can provide a valuable service to the online community once you set a standard for eschewing innuendo and gossip-mongering.

  20. To indep. Conserv., you said this,

    “The bottom line is this, WE KNOW on the word of MANY MANY witnesses that MANY who STILL hold leadership in COGIC ARE CURRENTLY ABUSING people sexually.”

    What are you a facilitator of their abuse? If you know these individuals why haven’t they been asisted in filing Civil process and due process under the law. COGIC is not ashamed to stand with victims, provided that they are credible and follow due process.

    As I said there are sexual abusers in the Reform Church too…I don’t know any church that has a lock on sexual abuse.

    There is always due process and it’s foolish to arbritrarily move anyone or discipline anyone without evidence and a credible case against them. To suggest otherwise is foolish and unbiblical in nature. So don’t hold Bishop Blake or COGIC in general to a higher standard than you’re willing to hold “tongueless” folk to. To do so openly shows your bias.

  21. Thank you Supt. Barnett.

    My partial reason for questioning the detractors about their identity and relationship is that its possible they may not even be in the organization. That has bearing to some extent.

    I am giving Bishop Blake all the credit (hence our post) that can be given for expressing that there has been systemic failure. Thats a step in the right direction. My question was is that because specific policies were nonexistent or because men in leadership disregarded them.

    At any rate, the victims of clergy sexual abuse lose.

    You mentioned that the corrective process had been in place for 26 years. Are you aware as to what caused that to be in put in place?

    The second question is: Does the policy cover what should happen to those who disregard the policies and thus allow the offenders to continue business as usual?

  22. Elder Foster,

    I understand your comments and I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said either in the article or in reponse to questions. You’re on point.

    Like you, I suspect alterior motives for some of the commentary. By the way Kieth Boykins only wishes his mess could be as powerful as you are in the Spirit of the Lord You’re NOT his alter-ego in any way.

    So far as the policy, I used 26 years because that’s when I came in the church. tirals of Pastors were always in existance in COGIC but at least in an official amendatory form (in print) since 1972.

    If a Bishop or leader disregards the due process, they are open to full exposure and civil process without the assistance of the church. A disregard of procedural process could make one unfit for the roll and thereby removed from office based on the grounds of not upholding the Church Constitution or guidelines and depending upon the seriousness of the allegations and evidences discovered, could be removed from either office or church. Either way it all begins with a trial which may or may not lead to civil prosecution.

    I don’t know of any extreme cases currently but i can imagine like most other organizations, there have been “settlements” and remedys of which I’m unaware.

    Thanks Elder.

  23. Hmmmm, Name, Reputation and Assets… Aren’t those the three big idols in the church today? Something to think about huh? At the very least, someone may be prevented from further sexual abuse once it is revealed if these three things are the reason for the positive action. In response to Independent Conservative’s somment about “many, many witnesses” this mess is everywhere. The larger an organiazation is the more likely these things will be among a group. I am from Boston, the heart of the sexual abuise scandal in the Catholic Church. I can tell you that this is happening in every single denomination. I am sure that is known to everyone. There was a well known Baptist pastor who was indighted (sp?) for sexually assaulting and financially propositioning a man on his staff. Another minister has been reinstated to his post in a church after molesting his nephew. The young man has spent time in a mental hospital as a result and this guy is ministering again.
    If it is in ANY denomination a clear policy and biblically based correction must be enforced with no exceptions. Someone who enables the offenders should also be held responsible because they have been complicit in the deed(s).

    I read somewhere: “If we judge ourselves we will not have to be judged with the world..” Paul, an apostle of GOD.

  24. dunamis2,

    What are you a facilitator of their abuse? If you know these individuals why haven’t they been asisted in filing Civil process and due process under the law. COGIC is not ashamed to stand with victims, provided that they are credible and follow due process.

    I find truth in 1 Timothy 5:19-22. I could care less what is in the COGIC paperwork. The proof is in the lack of sound response that has continually been the case. People including the person who made this post are victims of the abuse and people are STILL complaining about how their voices go ignored. If COGIC stood with them, there would not be so many victims saying otherwise.

    As I said there are sexual abusers in the Reform Church too…I don’t know any church that has a lock on sexual abuse.

    The issue here is the response once that abuse occurs and far too many complaints have COGIC involved.

    GCMW: IC, I know you and Pastor Burnett disagree on somethings. I don’t want either of you to get unnecessarily inflamed due to that. I’m asking each of you to restrain yourself from any personal barbs along those lines.

    That being said, the point has been brought up that clergy sexual abuse exists everywhere. Understood and accepted.
    The issue is not whether it exists, but what are church leaders doing to help the victims and punish these serial molestors. That’s why we encourged those of many prominent denominations to contact their respective leaders and inquire as to what their policies and procedures are.

    The point is that we are discussing what is hopefully a good step forward for COGIC. I have a deep and vested interest in seeing this come into fruition in the church of my birth. So is it for the countless young men I have personally spoken with over the last decade. If any leaders of any of the other denominations make like remarks (and I hope they do) we will take a hard look at what they are saying too. But right now, Charles Blake is the only one I’m aware of. Thanks!

  25. So, GCMWatch, have you contacted the jurisdiction office at 323-733-8300 to request a copy of the booklet on sexual harassment policies for elders?

    Or is it more fun to just take shots at Bishop C.E. Blake?

    GCMW: Diane, do you think that “sexual harassment” is the same as “sexual abuse”? If so, explain how.

  26. Pastor Foster, I respect a portion of my comment having to be omitted. But I need to say that although I can’t detail, I will not converse with dunamis2 any further and would like that to be made known. That was the point I was making in what was omitted. I had no desire to get into any inflamed exchanges and wanted it to be made clear I was ending conversation with him. He and I have never conversed before and I wanted it to be clear I was not conversing with him any further, to avoid causing any strife among our brethren.

    I wonder how some would have responded, if Catholics said when confronted with the issue “oh it happens in such and such other group too” 🙄 . We know it happens all over. Although in some places it appears to go unabated more than others. I don’t desire that the issue be blurred with obfuscation when a particular group with many cries from abused voices is noted.

    I’m not saying Catholics are Christians, just noting we would not tolerate obfuscation from them.

    Any that don’t properly address this matter no matter their affiliation will be take care of, Psalm 37

  27. IC, I can respect and understand that and I appreciate your comments.

    For the record this post was not a COGIC shooting gallery. Nor was it written to disparage Bishop Blake. But as any issue is raised it is certain to attract a divergence of opinion.
    I hope all will agree that victims of clergy sexual abuse need the church to definitively speak up and let them know it has not abandoned them when they did nothing to deserve the evil they endured. I wish someone would have let me know that when I was 17.

    The post does ask a valid, needed question. When a leader makes a statement like he did, what does it mean in practical terms? There can be no more tolerance for political platitudes.

    Perhaps if Bishop Blake enacts tangible, realistic reform in COGIC not only with clergy sexual abuse, but with the church’s passive “dont ask dont tell policy” on homosexuality, it will become a model for other denominations.

    We will see.

  28. Elder Foster,

    I appreciate your comments. I can only say that if you feel to pursue whatever remedy for your situation I will do whatever I can to assist in the effort of justice.

    I don’t have a tolerance for abuse of any kind, and especially as it pertains to youth in or out of church, so I can only voice my support for you.

    Too many times the business of the church is so large until the people of the church in many instances are forgotten or overlooked. As I said that happens to any organization of man. That’s no endorsement of anyones actions, that’s just an observation that is all but too true in modern society. The church (Every Church) owes God and HIS people more than that.

    What many of your readers don’t know is that as large as COGIC is the administration is in no way comparable to modern denominational administrations. COGIC is a “faith mission” based church which allows a great deal of functionality (good or bad) at a local level. If a church or leader has seperated themselves at a local level but retained the name, all too often the individual can function without anyone, including the Bishop knowing what’s going on. Until those individuals are brought to attention many times, they’ll function beneath the radar.

    Catholic, Presb., Episcopal, Methodist and even Baptists ascribing to their respective conventions and synods function somewhat differently and under a little more control of the national church.

    All I can say is that I will help ANY READER that has been abused by a COGIC minister or bishop sexually or otherwise. Not that I won’t help anyone of other organizations also, but I know the COGIC system and how it should work and can at least help draw attention to the situation and get individuals in touch with the right people and proper authorities.

    Once again, thank you for your kindness and objectivity. The article was excellent as always.

    District Supt. Harvey Burnett
    New Bethel & Bethel Epiphany COGIC
    Dunamis1@netzero.com

  29. May GOD Almighty bless you out of Zion, Elder Foster. May your tribe increase. You are doing GOD’s will when you advocate for those who cannot do so for themselves. Psalms 82 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themsleves..” If there are indeed victims who need your help they will appreciate godly intervention. I, for one and I’m certain that I am not alone, appreciate what you have volunteered to do. I say this as a (former) victim of a minister who took advantage of me using his position to exploit me.

  30. Elder Jimmy,

    Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragements. as I am glad that the devil of the past couldn’t hold your present or future. Thank God for the victory in Jesus that’s brought us all safe this far.

    Once again, Thanks to Elder Foster for the excellent job he does against the tide of moral decay that has invaded the church with the help and through many of it’s leaders.

    Thank God for a clarion voice of truth.

  31. Elder Jimmy, you bout to make me cry. 🙂

    After writing about Tobias Fox (he and his mother gave me an exclusive interview) in my book, I realized the depth and breadth of the problem. Tobias was sexually molested by a COGIC General Board member. It nearly killed his mother, a second generation COGIC member.

    I wonder why people think it is too much to ask for justice from the church when innocent children and youth have been damaged in such a way. Though I am in no way bitter or living in unforgiveness, I refuse to be silent when these predators get more mercy than those who they have hurt.

    @Pastor Burnett, I learned its risky to stand up and speak out, but men like you truly inspire me.

  32. Ah, I see. Gomes only spoke on a single day but he spoke at two services. Yes, that’s much better. The good bishop gave and activist homosexual access to his congregation. But that’s okay because he only did it on one day.

    Hmmm. So if I only cheated on my wife twice – but on the same day, then she shouldn’t make too big a deal of it. Right?

  33. God always has a “remnant” that will stand up and defend His word during such times of “moral decay” in the land. From reading all the blogs concerning this post, I believe Supt. Burnett is among a remnant within COGIC. I was a member of a COGIC for only 6 years and God ordered my steps away from the denomination but not for “sexual abuse”, just some other things that weren’t “spiritually sound.” However I have no ill feelings towards COGIC nor any former members of that church. Their are sheeps and wolves in every church.

    Pertaining to the subject in this particular blog, accountability is key, civil persecution of “confirmed” perpertrators is key. The main point is making sure such abuse no longer goes unnoticed or simply “swept under the pulpit” just so “image” of an institution can be saved. Image is nothing, unless it’s the image of God, and we all know from the word that God IS NOT “sexually immoral” nor will He condone it…but MAN will for “MAN’S IMAGE SAKE”

    Ephesians Chpt 5 comes to mind (sorry, I don’t know how to insert a scripture link and I won’t write out the whole chapter) but God is truly shedding light on all the perversness that’s been going on in His house. It’s time for the church to WAKE UP and walk as true children of the Light, EXPOSE those SHAMEFUL things that have been done in the dark, stop being foolish partakers with those being “disobedient” to Gods moral standards and deceived by “vain words” of men caught up in the unfruitful works of darkness. We must reprove them, we must allow the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ to shine and make manifest such dark evil deeds. Such evil deeds are not to be named amongst the “saints.”

    Matt 23:27, Woe to scribes, Pharisees, hyprocrites, you are like whitewashed tombs, you appear beautiful outwardly, but inside you’re full of dead mans bones and all uncleanness.
    When we get into “image” or “eidos” (a shape, form that which is seen, an appearance not necessarily based on reality, or where we get the word “imagination” ) we become like the typical “church folks” back in Jesus’ day as in Matt 23:27 I quoted above…we have a “form of godliness, but deny the power (2 Tim 3:5) We are so worried about “looking right” but we’re “living wrong”, dressed up but messed up!

    God gave us clear instruction and “power” to deal with any ungodly circumstances or people for that matter in regards to keeping the body of Christ holy and His name revered. If we are just caught up in “image and how things “look”, then how things “REALLY ARE” will never be dealth with! We’ll say the “right thing” but never “reveal” the real thing. This creates a breeding ground for lies and “secret sins”, issues going on that will not be truly addressed…all because we’re concerned about “image” more than the Truth!”

    We must draw the line between clean and unclean, holy and unholy in the church and our lives. The so-called church has come to an Ichabod state where the glory has departed and we’re just having “church” as usual. Time out for all this nonsense.

    It’s time to start REJECTING “our so called image” IN the world and start REFLECTING “God’s image” TO the world!
    The true remnant of God is not concerned about “an image”, but will continue to hunger and thirst after God and His righteousness, by sounding the alarm, exposing wolves, warning and feeding (not fleecing)the sheep, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those imprisoned, giving to the poor, “freely” proclaiming the Gospel of Christ as it was “freely” given to us and walking in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as an offering and sweetsmelling sacrafice to God. Anything less is just “man’s religion.”
    Have a blessed day my fellow “remnant” in Christ.

  34. We used to say in the YPWW (Young Peoples Willing Workers)
    that we wanted to be the examples that reflect the “image of Christ” in our everyday lives. I pray that God’s people do not forget that we are to decrease while he increases in us, thus shining brighter through us.

    Godlysoldier, I concur with your comments. The wider problem in the church is that far too many shepherd are too busy protecting the image of their organizations and failing to protect the name and Word of God in the organization. The Word of God is being blasphemed among the sinners because of what is allowed to continue in the house of God.

    I dont want to belabor that point, I ENCOURAGE Bishop Blake, and every other leader in God’s church not neglect to protect the weak, defenseless and the vunerable. This is God’s justice and his requirement. Micah 6:8

    Even with the right policies and procedures in place, we need to be spiritually alert, watch and pray.

  35. Unfortunately, Melvin …David’s logic and disjointed commenting became increasingly counterproductive to this post. We had to do a virtual 86 on that.

    He complained that we were not professional, then remarked blogs cant be professional.
    He complained that we had the facts wrong, but never presented any evidence to the contrary.
    He argued that two speeches in two different services is actually one. I guess that’s a new gnostic mystery.
    He said we could get credibility if we did what he wanted us to do, but refused to identify himself properly for credibility’s sake.
    He seems to have visited keithboykin too often and wanted to make that known.

    Like I said, we had to move on from that foolishness.

  36. Elder Foster, Godlysoldier, and Elder Jimmy,

    My wife and I stayed up late last night doing research on Sherman Allen, the COGIC pastor from Texas possibly referenced by Bishop Blake and in your article. I could not believe my eyes. This was the most REPREHENSIBLE thing I’ve ever seen in or out of church. If these allegations are true Allen and any other person involved in the cover-up can’t go to jail quickly enough or long enough.

    Bishop Haynes was reported to have said, “Old habits die hard.” to the victims when they went to the board with their allegations seeking justice. THAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT I’VE EVER HEARD FROM A SPIRITUAL LEADER. From what I read Allen’s abuse of women went on for 20 years without intervention. This was mind control, divination and DEMONOLOGY at the highest level. I AM SO SORRY for all the souls that were effected and that continue to be devastated.

    Terry Hornbuckle was another pulpit rapist that we researched. He wasn’t a COGIC minister. His sins were TOTALLY ATROCIOUS and supported by his infrastructure and I believe even his wife. There’s no way she could not have known. He is in jail now for 15 years and I believe that’s WAY TOO LITTLE TIME. He should have gotten a minimum of twice that for each rape they convicted him of.

    Elder Foster, I believe this issue is another demanding the utmost priority and urgency of the church and it’s leadership. Not to position the church, but to properly minister to the needs of the people. I don’t understand how leaders expect to be blessed by looking over the hurt and destroying futures as all of the men I named here have done.

    Thank you Elder for your insights. I’m sure I’ve been “blacklisted” by a few but I’m deadly serious about what I’ve said and will continue to say until my work is done. These atrocities can’t continue at any cost and souls MUST be protected at all costs. I still believe that even if my mouth is shut, that God has over 5,000 that haven’t bowed their knee to Baal nor kissed his foot. God bless and help us.

  37. Pastor Burnett, the lack of public record (across the board and especially in black churches) is in my opinion is due to the “closed door” deals in the church. Unless the victims and their families push for legal redress, more than likely these situations will go unnoticed by the church at large.

    Thats why I am simply asking why these more specific policies are not made public. Is it so that no one can actually judge whether or not the procedures are effective? Do they want to make up the rules as they go which allows the predator to escape punishment and continue doing evil?

    Such was the case with Bishop Husbands. At a minimum 8-10 young men were sexually molested by a man who used the immense power of his office to ensnare his victims. Not one single case ever went to court. Witnesses tell me that there was no compensation or public acknowledge of the massive damage done. The only thing you will find on the internet is what I have written based on personal interviews with one victim. One woman went to the then Presiding Bishop with a letter detailing the abuse against her son and he publicly refused to speak to her.

    For those who want to blame the victims consider the possible long term affects of sexual abuse/molestation. [source]

    Anger
    Fear
    Homosexuality Issues
    Helplessness
    Isolation and Alienation
    Legitimacy
    Loss
    Masculinity Issues
    Negative Childhood Peer Relations
    Negative Schemas about People
    Negative Schemas about the Self
    Problems with Sexuality
    Self Blame/Guilt
    Shame/Humiliation

    Is a person’s life and potential loss self worth comparable to protecting the “name, image and assets” of an organization? Where are our priorities?

  38. woooww…….my grandfather told me that Bishop Husband was an unrepentant gay man…..and that Bishop Ford said that anybody who attended his funeral would lose their papers…i didnt know that he was a straight up pedophile….the Sherman Allen thing definitely surprised me….not just his actions but the length of time he was allowed to carry on as well…

  39. djenk, I wouldn’t call Husbands a “pedophile”. He primarily targeted young men between the ages of 15-21. But I would agree with your grandfather. You did get the PB right. And I loved Bishop Ford very much but his handling of the Husbands affair was completely devoid of righteousness.

    It reminded me of the power of COGIC wanting to protect “name, image and assets” over people.

  40. I am recalling the multiplied issues that resulted from my own abuse at the hands of a minister. The guilt and the shame that followed is crippling. I felt for a long time that there must have been something in me that drew this action to me. I tried to have the “devil cast out”, extreme fasting, pleading with the LORD and many other things to cleanse me from the pain. The LORD himself led me into freedom from the remnant of that abuse.

    Hiding sexual sins is a biased sin that is usually for the benefit of men. I grew up in a church that would “disfellowship” a woman for her indiscretion evidenced by pregnancy. The man was almost never dealt with. I have an inlaw (minister) who was allowed to commit adultery repeatedly and eventually impregnated a young woman. His wife went to the elders and it was never addressed. The woman , of course was shamed and shunned. There is a real tendency to hide the sin of peers among clergy.
    Pastor Burnett I will cover you in prayer and ask the Saturday prayer group at my church to do the same. Blesings to you and Elder Foster.

  41. I guess the thing that we should all note is that this same sort of thing isn’t exclusive to any church body or group. James Cleveland was the biggest and still most celebrated gay pedophile I can think of yet he was a traditional BAPTIST minister. In fact the GMWA yet continues in his legacy which included molestation and more.

    I met Bishop Ford personally and as far as I can remember bishop Husband was dead at the time, but Bishop Ford told me personally that his mission was to make sure that “No Homosexuals” would ever be promoted to bishop or any other position within our church while he was alive. Our conversation wasn’t about building and money, it was about people and seving the needs of people.

    Bishop Husband covered up his mess and it all broke after he died. I don’t know of anyone, besides them who personally knew of the situation, who sanctioned it in any way. In fact Bishop “Mr. Clean” White was given clean up duties. He grappled with the whole situation but stayed and worked for the people who yet needed help and love and the Lord is blessing his efforts.

    So we have work to do but to assume that because someone, anyone links natural fallout to a lack of spiritual morality is over the top. There will be natural fallouts and losses because of sin. The bible spells out not only the spiritual loss associated with sin, but the material loss associated with it also. It’s Bishop Blakes job and any other leader’s job to make that connection. It doens’t mean that he was valuing material over souls. His position is multifaceted and demands a more comprehensive response as he gave.

    The real significance is what happens at a grass roots level, if bishops and elders follow his call to change and greater accountability. That’s what I want to see in my brethern.

    God bless.

  42. His position is multifaceted and demands a more comprehensive response as he gave. The real significance is what happens at a grass roots level, if bishops and elders follow his call to change and greater accountability. That’s what I want to see in my brethern.

    True. I will say again emphatically to Bishop Blake’s credit he is the ONLY major denominational leader to make a public statement regarding clergy sexual abuse that I am aware of. If anyone knows of anything else, please bring that to our attention. Perhaps others are aware that their words will be scrutinized and thus avoid doing so. But again to what benefit?

    I am hoping that others will go on record and clarify what they currently do, if that has worked or not and if not what steps are they taking to change that.

    I agree that a level of grassroots dialogue helps to move the discussion along and up to the higher echelons of leadership. I just hope that it is not treated as disrespect and minimized.

  43. Forgive me if I’m ignorant of “protocal” but when was it NOT ok to go to the POLICE when someone has been accused of sexually molesting or raping someone…church leader or whomever. Help me to understand, because I really don’t. I can understand a child that’s been brainwashed and fear tactics used to keep them from telling their parents, and even if they did tell the parents, a young boy thats been sodomized should be able to show some kind of medical proof, as a well as a young girl that’s been raped. I don’t know, again, I cannot truly understand because it’s never happened to me. My heart goes out for those that it has happened to and pray that God completely restores them to wholeness and natural affections if they turned to homosexuality because of the violation done against them.

    I know what the word says regarding bringing accusations against Elders without 2 or 3 witnesses, but breaking the law is breaking the law. All I can say to the offenders and those that have covered up the offences of the offenders is “WOE”…………

  44. Elder Foster & Godlysoldier,

    I agree 100% with you both. Violators demand the full weight of condemnation from both the church and secular society.

    Elder Foster I’ll personally be looking for my Bishop’s view on this and other issues. He’s running for General Board this year and is garnering a great deal of support. His name is Bishop Robert R. Sanders of Il. 3rd. (Chicago Heights). He’s a good man and open to me at all times but I’ll keep you posted. I hope he and others sincerely desire complete spiritual renewal amongst our leadership.

    God bless.

  45. I read with interest GMCW’s exchange with David. I do agree with David that the onus is on GMCW to ensure that the “facts” reported in its articles/blogs are indeed facts. Moreover, the onus is on GMCW to substantiate its assertions. I would say that for any blog(ger), journalist or newspaper.

    Also, the information GMCW requested of David to corroborate his comments GMCW could have ascertained on its own through investigative research or by contacting Bishop Blake directly.

    Has GMCW contacted Bishop Blake to determine his intentions or policies regarding victims of sexual abuse? Did GMCW call the number provided by Diane? If not, why? (I certainly will find it puzzling if you have not.)

    I do agree that such policies are needed. However, these policies will not mean much if they are not adhered to and enforced by leadership. This holds true for any church of any denomination.

  46. Stephanie, lets see if we cant recap this.

    David contested something GCM Watch never concluded nor stated. He “created” the contention that Bishop Blake had “always” done this in his diocese/local church (comment #4). As opposed to what? There is nothing in our post to contrast his assertion against. This is commonly called a strawman.

    Our post NEVER questioned any aspects of Bishop Blake’s local/jurisdictional administrative policies on clergy sexual abuse. The post is titled “COGIC…” and thus focused on Blake’s remarks to COGIC’s General Assembly, a national governing body. Clearly, our commentary dealt with the issue relative to Bishop Blake’s office as the international head of COGIC.

    Therefore there exists no “onus” (another useless strawman) on GCM Watch to prove or verify something that was never the focus of our commentary to begin with.

  47. CORRECTIONS I made some typos. I meant to says deals with a person spirituality as well.. and also COGIC address is http://www.Cogic.org not http://www.cogic.com

    What’s so sad about Bishop Blake’s remarks is that he doesn’t address how COGIC will handle victims abused by clergy in COGIC. It sounds like COGIC is only concerned about numberio “UNO”. I bet if one of Bishop Blake family members was abused by a member of COGIC that statement may have been rewritten different. Clergy sexual abuse destroys lives, families, and peoples faith because it deals with a person spirituality as well.

    The church was so quick to put a policy on their position on ‘Gay Marriages” on their homepage http://www.cogic.org., but they don’t have any policy on their website on clergy sexual abuse or any number to call to report it. COGIC only started taking sexual abuse serious when the Sherman Allen mess came out. If it wasn’t for that mess COGIC would still be covering up mess.

  48. That statement by Blake is lukewarm, ambiguous, and even hostile towards abuse victims.
    The first thing out of his mouth on the subject is, “To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ…”. In other words, the safety of the congregation and justice for victims is not primary. Rather it is the “name, image, and assets” of COGIC.
    What arrogance and insensitivity! In that not an outrage?

    And Blake is a hypocrite at that. He was in a position (along with GE Patterson) to do something about SHERMAN ALLAN IN FORT WORTH, TEXAS a long time ago. This man is accused of molesting/abusing 35 women, and has had a reputation of doing so for over 20 years. But virtually nothing was done. Yeah, Blake got in office and suspended him. That’s it? That’s all you could do Blake?

    I’m outraged. I’m most definitely going to be dealing with this issue.

    Kevin M. Oliver aka “NotYourTypicalNegro”
    http://www.youtube.com/NotYourTypicalNegro

    GCMW: Thanks for this NYTN. I will do a separate post on this information. I just came across additional related information.

  49. As a member of the COGIC I’m appalled at Bishop Blakes address to the congregation as a whole…If cogic elders as well as bishops are not considered outcast for this type of behavior. Then sadly the behavior will continue we can Condemn the .Violaters but we need to Restore the victims as best we can, I hope bishop blake creates a crisis center or hotline for abused members of its church

  50. I have read the numerous comments above and well…it brings to mind several thoughts. The first being that none of knows what he or she would do if in leadership – being accountable to thousands and millions of people. We hold leadership responsible for a lot of things, and rightfully so, but at the same time, God holds us individually responsible for many things as well that we fall short in. As a christian working in the field of child sexual abuse, I have always been amazed at the lack of interest and lack of belief by Christians and non-Christians alike when it comes to sexual abuse. No one wants to believe it can happen and that it happens at the hand of a person who is possible highly esteemed in the community, in corporate America, in the church, and primarily in one’s family.

    I realize that many leaders in church and out of church do not speak out about an issue until it affects them. Many of us as individuals are the same way. Until it affects our family, we do not involve ourselves. So when reading the remarks of Bishop Blakes, I can view them as some of you – positive or negative. However, realistically speaking, I consider any remarks that focus on this major issue, especially by leaders (regardless of intent), as a step towards decreasing the incidences of child sexual abuse. YES, too many people wait until someone has been raped or tormented before they do anything. Does that mean when they finally do something I continue to hold the grudge – NO TIME IS OF ESSENCE HERE.

    I am sure that many of us have encountered someone who has been sexually abused by a person – whether in leadership or not. What have we done to bring attention to the issue. The fact is God has equipped each of us with a burden, a passion, for something. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is taboo, something of which NO ONE likes to speak. It begins in the family, but families cover it up. So if families cover up, the community will cover for those who perpetuate, and likewise in the courts, in the church, and as high up as you can go.

    I encourage each of us with the the passion for child sexual abuse to raise our voices to the issue, especially in the church because church serves as a symbol of restoration and healing. Too many of us talk about leadership and others, but we never take a role in personally becoming a part of what we talk about. Be the activist that you want Bishop Blake to be, come up with a plan, and do what you can to get this plan implemented in COGIC. Do it with a pure and humble heart, not with the intent of destroying COGIC or leadership who you may know has issues. God loves our children and is moving the hidden windows for people to see how they are being violated.

    Just remember that we live in a nation that had laws and policies for animals before children. Continue to pray. Sometimes we can be blind for years then suddenly we realize the error of our ways and attempt to change it. Never fault a man for being silent and then coming forward. We have all been silent at one time or another. Coming into the truth is what Christianity is all about. Rejoice each time we get closer to laws and policies being put into place to protect children from sexual violators and bring healing to generations of people who have already gone through sexual abuse.

    PEACE

  51. Well said Ms Wheeler. As we noted this is a step in the right direction for COGIC. Hopefully, Bishop Blake will make the protection of children and the rooting out of predators a priority of his administration lest we have another generation of broken, dissalusioned COGIC children.

  52. WOW…I have read through the blog comments and I am just as disgusted with the lack of clarity in terms as I have been in the “Sexual Misconduct” workshops being held in the Jurisdictions. Sexual Abuse is not synonymous with Sexual Harrassment and neither are synonymous with homosexuality and so on, and so forth. Clarity in terms would help a lot. However, I would say that many of my COGIC counterparts fail to educate themselves on such terminology or make it a priority to do so. The bible says “sin” ..the courts will spell out each charge separately. We need to understand the terminology and refrain from passing misinformation. One of the statements made in the workshop was that the majority of child molesters were homosexuals. From my experience, this leaves out the complete list of child molesters that have been men in leadership acting inappropriately with our young women. Though, according to church doctrine it is all wrong, we should be sure that our facts are correct. I’m tired of pastors and elders coming on to my close female friends while their wives are off somewhere, innocently tending to church business and greeting church constituents. If you listen to them though, the COGIC leadership loves to sit and talk about the women and their thoughts about their sexual lives…Its ridiculous!!!

    Consequently, as far as this blog is concerned, this discussion went from sexual abuse cases, to homosexuals in the pulpit, to sexual harrasment and I wonder what is the real issue. The issue: The church needs to address sexual misconduct which, according to its rules/policies includes adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, fornication and viewing pornography. This list may not be complete but it covers ta vast majority of it all. I am hopeful that Bishop Blake will clarify the churches position, its policies, and make a difference in the years to come. This I think we all agree on. Let’s be the voice within the church to start speaking up against injustice ..they can throw me out, marginalize me, or do whatever they like. I can pass my dollars on to some other organization, because that’s what seems to be most important to many of them anyway.

    This getting up over the pulpits trying to bring certain people to shame is ridicuous, when it is those in the pulpits who perpetrate so much of what we’re experiencing. The same thing has happened in the company I work for. All ethical violations have been from up top, but we at the bottom are suffering for their errors. Its time to stop it all !!!

  53. >>>I have read through the blog comments and I am just as disgusted with the lack of clarity in terms as I have been in the “Sexual Misconduct” workshops being held in the Jurisdictions. Sexual Abuse is not synonymous with Sexual Harrassment and neither are synonymous with homosexuality and so on, and so forth. Clarity in terms would help a lot.<<<

    SJ, thanks for your passion about the larger issue of sexual misconduct. Although the comment on any particular blogpost may vary from person to person, the intent of the post is to primarily address homosexual misconduct among clergy. That seems to be one of your points. That is not to say there is no heterosexual misconduct or that it is not important not to say anything about it. But we are dealing with a particular subject matter intentionally.

    There is also noncriminal homosexual misconduct in the pews which helps to feed the same misconduct in leadership.

    But the leaders need to order a comprehensive assessment of the problem and a comprehensive solution for the problem. Of course as you pointed out in would span both legal and spiritual aspects of sexual misconduct.

    I wasnt aware of any “sexual misconduct” workshops being conducted in the jurisdictions. Have you attended these? If you want to list what jurisdictions are doing so and who’s in charge, we’d be happy to inquire about it.

    Finally, exactly what terms were not defined that you think should have been?

  54. my god i can not belive what i am reading, bishop blake dont worry about lawsuit.what is money.jesus is what that matter.you cant let every body preach to you congreagation you got to no who and what thay are.i was born cogic,my grandmother were a missnary and she could tell if you were a real preach.but now it all about money.i wonder what would have happen if jesus would sold out for money.all i no is cogic i am so glad that my grandfather and grantmother and bishop masion is not hear to see what goring on.

  55. If our leaders are not watchful and prayerful once again, our churches will be filled with women and children as leaders. For to long Women have visited the men behind bars llll. To much time is wasted by cogic leaders straddling the fence telling women preachers to go teach and not preach, we need Holy qualified people wether male or female.
    God will pay for all unrighteousness, but the legal system has it lawful duties as well and when we hide behind the clergycollar we’re at fault. Somewhere our strong, intelligent, bishops, pastors, and deacons forgot about NUMBERS 32:23. If we can’t call on the men in the church; who will we call? GOD!

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