Expose letter predicts a financial doomsday for COGIC [updated]

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In a seven page letter with almost 4000 words[pdf], the Chief Operating Officer for the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination has accused the church’s top legal man of a plethora of legal, ethical and financial improprieties. The letter, bearing the signature block of Elder James Smith, in effect predicted a looming financial doomsday for the Church of God in Christ and laid the blame at the feet of its  “incompetent” counsel  Enoch Perry III.

The contents of the undated letter was sent anonymously to GCM Watch and Report COGIC Abuse on Monday by a “concerned cogic saint on the east coast”. The letter was also sent to a blog which writes on clergy issues but with no identification of the sender. Its unclear if any other new media outlets received the information. The letter is addressed to the Church of God in Christ’s General Board and copied to its General Secretary.

While GCM Watch was in the process of verifying the authorship and authenticity of the letter, we were informed that Smith —in a telephone conversation with Atlanta-based blogger Kevin Oliver— refused to deny or affirm that he was the letter’s author.

“I told him that we received a letter purportedly written by him. I told him it was posted on PimpPreacher.com and asked him if he were aware of it and if he could confirm he is the author”

“He told me point blank, “I don’t do blogosphere. I don’t who you are or where you’re from and I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment on something I haven’t seen.”

“I then told him that “the blogosphere” is not what it once was, and that a lot of people get their news and information from blogs. I then asked him if I could have his email address so I could send him the article, or if he’d like to go to the site. He again stonewalled me, saying that he had “no interest in discovery” and that it would be inappropriate for him to comment.

Excuse me, but how juvenile and trifling can a person be? Elder Smith, (and yes I know youre reading this blog, just like you read several others)  if you didn’t write the letter, just  be a real man and say “no that letter was not written by me it is a forgery”. Or if you wrote it, just say, yes I wrote the letter.  With duplictious “leaders” like Smith in place in COGIC its no wonder why the church is falling into darkness.

Oliver said that although he informed Smith the letter was spreading across the internet,  Smith continued railing against “blogs”. Incidentally, GCM Watch was told by a source within COGIC that Presiding Bishop Blake had sent out a warning to church leaders to stay away from blogs on the internet.

Old news

This comes as no surprise to anyone who has read GCM Watch’s comprehensive reports on COGIC clergy sexual abuse and followed our documentation at Report COGIC Abuse. This is old news.  Here’s a review for those who have been vacationing on the planet Krylonogic for the past three years.

Surveying COGIC’s  Justice System

Under oath, COGIC legal counsel Enoch Perry makes stunning admissions

Is COGIC’s “zero tolerance” policy on clergy sexual abuse a failure?

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

Enoch Perry deposition during Sherman Allen trial

Update April 1st – 1810 est

The rancor over the letter released by COGIC’s COO has been in essence refuted publicly by the church’s Presiding Bishop. In a letter released yesterday through its website , Bishop Blake said it was “unfortunate that private communication became public”. Although Blake praised Perry, he said the issue will be dealt with as an “internal” matter.

COGIC assistant pastor led "double lifestyle"; arrested for rape of teen boy

News reports from Chattanooga, TN said that Ronnie Powe, Jr., the assistant pastor of United Tabernacle COGIC was leading a double lifestyle which ended in his arrest. On Sundays, Powe preached to the faithful at the church, but through the week be prowled homosexual sex hookup sites looking for sexual partners. But when he found one in a 15 year old boy, his career came crashing down around him.

http://www.wrcbtv.com/global/video/videoplayer.js?rnd=174764;hostDomain=www.wrcbtv.com;playerWidth=430;playerHeight=335;isShowIcon=true;clipId=5579372;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=;enableAds=true;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=overlay

http://www.wrcbtv.com/global/video/videoplayer.js?rnd=695503;hostDomain=www.wrcbtv.com;playerWidth=430;playerHeight=355;isShowIcon=true;clipId=5579372;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=;enableAds=true;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=overlayPastor Ronnie Powe, Sr., says he never knew that his only son, his namesake, who’d helped him minister to Chattanooga’s United Tabernacle Church of God In Christ, had been leading a ‘double life.’
“My son lived the life of a straight young man with the family and with the congregation, and with those he knew in the church community,” Pastor Powe says. “Outside, he lived as a gay young man.”
Tuesday night, Chattanooga Police caught Ronnie Powe, Jr., in a car with a 15-year-old boy, behind the old East Lake Elementary school.
“The suspect first said that he was just speaking to a member of his church about some problems,” CPD spokeswoman Rebecca Royval says. “The officer observed some unusual things and investigated a little further.”
Police reports don’t indicate, nor will Ronnie Powe, Jr., say whether he knew the boy was underage; only that they had met through a gay web site. Had the teenager been of age, the charges Powe faces would have been lewd acts or indecent exposure.
“More than a ten year age difference brings a more serious charge,” Royval says.
The charges ring hollow in his parents neighborhood of Indian Hills/Hillsborough Heights.
Their closest neighbors won’t go on camera. But they describe Pastor Powe Sr., as warm, gentle, and no nonsense; his son as unfailingly polite, never inappropriate. Pastor Powe, Sr. sees his son as conflicted between his own truth, and A Pentecostal faith that condemns homosexuality. A homosexual lifestyle is not what God ordained for us, and we’re not gonna back off of that,” he says.
“But we believe all this has happened to help him come to terms with who and what he is.”
Ronnie Powe, Jr. has resigned as United Tabernacle’s youth pastor. He admitted his homosexuality, and that he had been charged with statutory rape, to a church prayer meeting Wednesday night, his father says.
Powe, Sr. is adamant in stating that his congregation’s teenagers and children never could have been in any danger.
“Because of the way we do things, our structure,it would have been hard for him to do anything without being discovered,” he says.
Powe, Jr., has declined to go on camera. But he tells Eyewitness News he’ll ask forgiveness from the 15-year-old, the boy’s family, his own family, and his church. First he must face the state of Tennessee. A conviction for aggravated statutory rape could put him in prison for five years.
“I want my son to know that he’s supported, and that no matter what style of life he was involved in, we love him,” Powe Sr. says.
“With counseling, with time, I believe that he will be one of the greatest preachers that ever lived.”

The father is to be commended for his stance regarding his son’s sins. Hopefully, he is being honest when he says he did not know what his son was doing. But what does that say about church leadership these days? Is discernment dead? Is the Spirit of the Lord not revealing anything anymore?  United Tabernacle held a reputation of being a strict, traditional COGIC but we see that is ineffective if the leader is not paying attention to the people, let alone his own son.

This type of case highlights why the denomination should step up its effort to educate its men on these issues. How to discern them, how to prevent them and how to report them to church leadership. Sadly, Ronnie Powe is most likely representative of hundreds (if not thousands) of young men in the church matriculating towards leadership with unresolved sexual issues. And they are being ignored. What if Elder Ronnie Powe were Bishop Ronnie Powe? Think of the  widespread negative impact. The COGIC should invest in wholistic programs to help these young men before they self destruct while carrying big, church-sanctioned titles. Ignoring it will only result in more Ronnie Powes.

COGIC bishop who spoke out against homosexuality passes

Atlanta – The Church of God in Christ’s former presiding bishop Chandler D. Owens of Atlanta  has passed away at age 79.

Owens’ five year tenure as the head of the denomination was marked by tensions particularly in the leadership arena. He clashed on numerous occasions with current bishop Charles Blake over alleged “abuse of power”. In the summer of 1999, Owens and Blake were on opposing sides in an Orlando court case in which Blake supported political ally the Rev. Derrick Hutchins in a leadership controversy. Hutchins was later rewarded with a position as head of the influential General Council of Pastors and Elders.   But last year, Blake announced that Hutchins had “submitted his resignation” from his high profile position (due to adultery).

As profiled by religion writer David Waters in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Bishop Owens spoke out forcefully and often against homosexuality.

In 1996, he called on COGIC to “rebuild the walls” of orthodoxy to prevent the world’s unclean spirits from invading the church.

“I believe this is a time of spiritual repair,” Bishop Owens told COGIC members in Memphis. “The walls of the Church of God in Christ, in my judgment, are in bad repair. In many places those walls have fallen. We have allowed the church to be open and we have been invaded by all kinds of people. The church used to be a sanctuary. Now it’s a zoo. Everything from everywhere has crept into the Church of God in Christ.”

He said the church had strayed too far from fundamentals.

“We are against same-sex marriages,” he said. “I don’t care what another church does. In the Church of God in Christ, a man, a real man, a ‘sho-nuf’ man knows the difference between the smell of Old Spice and Chanel No.5 … COGIC won’t ordain sissies.”

Chandler Owens took over the denomination’s troubled Central Georgia jurisdiction after its bishop, General Board member John D. Husband was stripped of his office and excommunicated. Husband admitted to embezzling half a million dollars of church money and sexually abusing countless young men under his charge.

WA COGIC loses headquarters over sex abuse case?

wacogichqsTACOMA, WA – The Church of God in Christ’s Washington state “jurisdiction” headquarters at 9201 Pacific Ave has been put up for sale in July, a consequence believed to be directly related to a million dollar lawsuit the church lost in King County Superior Court.

COGIC, Inc had been sued by a Jane Doe and several other women [read a legal brief of the case] for sexual abuse of Supt. Charles Smith. Smith died before the case was resolved in court.

According to inside reports, Bishop Blake put up $500k of the money and the Washington “jurisdiction” was responsible paying the other part.  The costs were allegedly passed down to pastors in a jurisdiction of about 75 churches, many of them small. We have not yet confirmed whether the jurisdiction failed to pay the judgment and the building was seized to satisfy it or if they did pay the judgment and consequently defaulted on building payments.

A pastor close to the case told us that “Bishop Westbrook and Memphis owns the property.  Bishop Westbrook owns either 75% or 85%!  When is the manipulation going to stop? So many good people have placed their confidence in, invested time, money and energy into an organization.”

Pastor Harvey Burnett who blogs at The Dunamis Word said in a recent post the church’s unseemly silence on clergy sexual abuse creates waves of damage both in the church and the community.

“When the church deals with the issues after the fact, this seems, in every case, to only further damage the victims, reverse any image of goodwill that the church had established within the community and sets aside the perception that the church is capable of seriously dealing with tragic and devastating personal situations. In other words, the community is exposed to an evil straight out of the pit of hell, and because the church has no nerve, the devil reeks havoc.”

COGIC’s leadership, so far has done nothing but employ evasive “policies” and lie to its membership about the depth and severity of clergy sexual abuse in its ranks. Despite mounting evidence and cases all over the country (some we know about but cannot make public at this time) its leadership continues down a path of stunning arrogance.  The church’s lead attorney Enoch Perry is mainly responsible for the quagmire of lies and broken lives. Perry recklessly advised pastors to conceal sex abuse issues because it would affect the church’s ability to get money from outside donors.

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

But in God’s time the church will reach a point to where the lies, deception and coverup will turn and be their demise. Be not deceived God is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For God is no respector of persons.

COGIC to try $4 million Delaware theft case

Bishop_on_WhiteST LOUIS – COGIC bishops allegedly are set to put one of their own on trial during the denomination’s 2010 St Louis convention. As you can see from the title its about money again. It appears nothing will get you brought up on charges  in the nation’s largest pentecostal denomination quicker than stealing money. Not sexual abuse, not sexual misconduct, not even crime.  But retribution against theft is swift.

Theft is a serious crime and should be dealt with, but are the denomination’s leaders aware that the 10 commandments also mention sexual sins?

A clergy member (who asked that his name be with held) told GCM Watch that Bishop Thomas Hosely, head of the denomination’s Delaware “jurisdiction” could possibly be removed and the case turned over to criminal courts pending outcome of the ecclesiastical trial. Hosely is scheduled to be tried November 10th in COGIC’s new meeting city. Hosely who was consecrated into the bishopric in April 2009, stands accused of stealing an estimated 4 million dollars allegedly left in place by his predecessor the late Bishop LT Blackshear.

In March, COGIC fired longtime senior executive assistant Supt Dickerson LS Wells over $20, 000 in missing funds.

The denomination also failed to act on general board member JD Husband’s widespread sexual sins/crimes. That is, until he embezzled over $5 million dollars of church money.

But still no action on the mounting cases of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment perpetrated by COGIC clergy members.  In other news, Bishop Charles Blake, however, did take time to tell a St Louis reporter about COGIC’s great music and the millinery couture of its women.

Related: The 103rd Annual Convocation: Great God, Good Lord, Say What??

Clergy sex crime cases 5th, 6th for COGIC denomination in 2010

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that  Rev. Dr. Laneer Fisher, pastor of the Miracle COGIC in Alquippa, PA  in suburban Pittsburgh was arrested and charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors [source]. Laneer, who was arrested August 31st, allegedly has a history of sexual improprieties with young males.  This is the fifth known case of clergy abuse/misconduct this year for the nation’s largest pentecostal denomination.

The pastor of a church in Aliquippa was arraigned yesterday on charges of molesting two teenage boys.

The Rev. Dr. Laneer Fisher, 38, of Moon, who is the pastor of the Miracle Church of God in Christ on Wilker Street, was charged by Aliquippa police with unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault and corruption of minors. He was charged with those crimes as well as aggravated indecent assault, sexual assault and indecent exposure by Beaver Falls police.

“My client vehemently denies these allegations and will defend himself against them,” said attorney Dirk Allen Goodwald, who wonders why the two young men waited until now to go to police.

“My client understands that these allegations stem from a time when these people were young and came from broken relationships and that they may have misinterpreted, misconstrued, misunderstood and could not accept the nurturing and caring from a pastor and man of God.”

Then on October 13th, Palm Beach, FL police arrested  Michael Charles Campbell pastor of the House of Worship COGIC in Deland, FL [source]. According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Campbell devised a scheme to sexually molest a 15 year old girl. He later used the same scheme on a 13 year old girl.

michael_campbell_571745kA former funeral home employee accused of sexually molesting a teenage girl, then photographing another in the nude, is a pastor at a small DeLand church.

The suspect, 46-year-old Michael Charles Campbell, is pastor of the House of Worship Church of God In Christ in the 300 block of South Woodland Boulevard.

Campbell, charged with lewd and lascivious molestation and lewd and lascivious conduct, was also employed by Lohman’s Funeral Home in Daytona Beach, police said.

The day police say he accosted the 15-year-old girl at a beachside motel in Daytona Beach in the spring of 2007, Campbell first picked up the girl at her residence. He was driving a hearse with a body in it, one he was supposed to deliver to Daytona Beach International Airport, a police report shows. Investigators said Campbell told the teenager’s father that he needed the girl to help him do some work at the funeral home. The youngster’s parents agreed and Campbell went to get the child.

The national church’s leadership however continues to deny that the problem of clergy sexual abuse is anything significant.  Enoch Perry,  head of the church’s legal department told a gathering of leaders last year that the denomination had only had about 20-25 cases since it began in 1906. Asked by the Memphis Commercial Appeal about the mounting sexual abuse documented by Report COGIC Abuse, Bishop Charles Blake downplayed  the cases saying too much attention was being given to them. He later admitted that COGIC spends $800,000 a year on sexual abuse cases.