ATLANTA – The Archbishop of the organization Bishop Jim Swilley resigned from after announcing to his church he was “gay”, said that “Swilley is not qualified to lead” in the church of God. On October 19th, Swilley, in an hourlong, sometimes rambling video confession, told members of his Church in the Now that he was homosexual and had been since the age of four.
But the comments from Archbishop David Huskins come over a week after Swilley, his ex-wife Debye and his cousin/uncle Donnie Earl Paulk released the stunning video chocked full of profanity, heresy, mental manipulation, gross stereotypes and apparent disdain for some unnamed members of the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (ICCC). The ICCC was headed by Swilley’s uncle deceased sexual predator Earl Paulk, until he was forced to resign in 2005. Swilley had served with the organization on its 13 member College of Bishops since 1998. This is the second time a member of the Paulk clan has drawn the organization into controversy over sexual immorality.
Asked if he believed that as a self identified “gay man” Bishop Swilley was fit for church leadership, Huskins told GCM Watch, “I believe it is not so much a matter of what he is struggling with as it is in what he yields to. I believe all leaders in the Church of God have issues of the flesh but if he is yielding to a lifestyle that is contradictory to the Word of God, and then no, he would not be qualified to lead in the Church of God.”
In an (undated) letter he contested was posted on the organization’s website (it was not per our investigation), Huskins wrote that he paid little attention to the matter due to involvement in an “outpouring of the Holy Ghost”. The letter offers some insight into conversations between the two men about the matter, but contradicts Swilley’s statement that Huskins had no problem with his homosexuality. Also in the letter: an assertion that Swilley promised no “announcement” would be made.
“I did however receive his resignation letter but only after he announced his sexual orientation to his congregation on that Wednesday Night. He had told me there was no such announcement coming and if he were going to do any such thing he would certainly discuss that with me. He had never personally discussed these issues with me but after hearing from others that his plan was to make such an announcement I contacted him.
Again, he did not verify or deny his sexual orientation but rather said there was no such announcement forthcoming. I offered him my personal friendship, love, assistance, and concern. I also voiced my concerns about such a position or announcement. I also addressed the concerns that as an international organization the danger and difficulty he could place some of the bishops in if he were in leadership or a part of the leadership of this communion, in countries whereby homosexuality is not only immoral but in their countries illegal and in some nations punishable by severe consequences. He graciously acknowledged my concerns but never denied nor verified any of the issues being addressed.
I also explained that if such an announcement was forthcoming and he was a member of the ICCC that naturally the College of Bishops would have to address the matter accordingly. He then stated his resignation would be forthcoming. I did not hear from him again until after I heard the announcement had been made and after that I received his resignation.” Full text of the letter
This account also conflicts with Swilley’s contention that Huskins asked him to step down from the college of bishops.
Huskins’ letter includes a rather odd warning to Swilley about how his homosexuality might be perceived should he make a public announcement about it. Particularly, in some African nations where homosexuality is a crime. Swilley had some foreign churches under his supervision.
The ICCC and homosexuality
The Archbishop told GCM Watch in an exclusive reply that the ICCC’s “position [on homosexuality] is the Word of God is inerrant and stands. We believe marriage is between one man and one woman. We believe that there is hope and restoration for anyone who desires freedom from it and yet we offer compassion to those who are trapped in it. ”
The ICCC’s ethics policy requires members to “maintain sexual, moral, and financial purity”. Although its doctrinal statements appear very orthodox, one GCM Watch commenter noted that questionable associations exist within the organization that conflict with its stated beliefs.
Namely, Reba Rambo McGuire and her husband Donnie. In May 2008, GCM Watch reported on the Nashville-based pastors and what seemed to be affirmation of gay christian theology. At one point —though it has since been removed— the church’s website stated it “did not discriminate based on sexual orientation” and was widely known as a gay affirming church. The McGuires were ordained and are part of Huskin’s organization.
“Pastors are ordained by Bishop David Huskins under the Fellowship of Vineyard Harvester Churches. This fellowship acts as a covering and provides spiritual eldership to them and our church. We are proud to be considered part of this great network of churches in the United States and internationally.”
In email responses given to GCM Watch, Bishop Huskins said he had not fully watched the video (he was provided a link). But he indicated that the reason he wanted to set the record straight was because Swilley and DE Paulk had mentioned the ICCC by name and made “certain derogatory remarks” on how the situation was handled.
Other observations by Huskins:
- To his knowledge, Swilley had never previously revealed his sexual orientation to anyone in ICCC leadership or otherwise.
- Swilley resigned willingly not because he was asked to resigned. The ICCC had no previous awareness of Swilley’s sexual orientation or his plan to make such an announcement. After hearing rumors, he contacted Swilley who neither denied or affirmed the rumors, but did say reinterate there would be no such announcement.
- He had little agreement with the small parts of the video he’d viewed.
- Any ties of a structural or organizational nature with Swilley has been severed. Huskins has offered him help in dealing with his sexuality issues as well as “personal concern”.
Huskins said that he would not engage in any further public discussions about dealings the organization has had with any member in disciplinary matters.
“I have found that unhealthy to any potential recovery, restoration, or removal of said members.”, he said and “I will not be continually responding in a public way to these matters as they affect a lot of other people including his family, congregation, and many mutual friends and I have not found the public dialogue and scrutiny to be beneficial in anyone’s healing or recovery.”
UPDATE 10.27 7:55p
Bishop Jim Swilley talks to Atanta’s WSB-TV about his self-generated homosexual controversy. GCM Watch surfaces in the story as a “conservative Christian blog” . Quotes from the blog about Swilley are cited, but the name is never mentioned. Read the story, see the video on WSB.