Headlines & Current Articles

Monday, November 2, 2009

COGIC Issues: 102nd Annual Holy Convocation

Corrections have been made to this page 11/02/2009: Bishop Gilkey's first name is Joseph and Enoch Perry's title was referenced as "Bishop". Those statements were incorrect. Special note 11/29/09: See bottom of the article for commentary and update.


As the Church Of God In Christ's 102nd Annual Holy Convocation  begins Nov. 2-9, 2009, there are some significant 21st century challenges that the church faces.

2 of the most acute questions have been asked by individuals such as Pastor D.L.Foster of GCMWatch.com and myself among others:

1- How will COGIC handle the perpetrators of sexual abuse among clergy?

2- How will COGIC handle the victims of sexual abuse and make them whole?

And what may be a similarly related issue:

3- Truly, how is the real property of congregations and the congregations themselves handled when a pastor dies and why is the congregation overlooked?

Section I: Clergy Sexual Abuse

1- How will COGIC handle the perpetrators of sexual abuse among clergy?

2- How will COGIC handle the victims of sexual abuse and make them whole?

In what was a shocking revelation, Deidre Malone of the Malone Group, and spokeswoman on behalf of COGIC, said that the Presiding Bishop of the Church Of God In Christ, Bishop Charles E. Blake stated that:   She further stated that Bishop Charles E. Blake will announce an initiative regarding clergy sexual misconduct during the Holy Convocation Nov. 2-9.
"The church has been working on this issue for more than 15 years,"
First, it is refreshing to see that this issue will be addressed and addressed openly and hopefully clearly. Although I haven't heard from any official as to the plans and statements that will be made, at ReportCOGICabuse.org, it can be noted that I have at least tried to at least present information pertinent to addressing the care of the victims of these sort of atrocities.

The sad thing is that if the church has been aware of these sort of atrocities for 15 years, why hasn't it  responded with greater sense of urgency and a more exacting resolve? Over the last 15 years there have been 3 Chief Apostles of the church:

Bishop Chandler D. Owens
Bishop G.E. Patterson
Bishop Charles E. Blake

I would say that based on the atrocities of former General Board member, Bishop J.D. Husband, that someone had to know that there was trouble long prior to 15 years ago. GCMWatch also reported this:
"In 1991, through his lawyer, Bishop J.D. Husband, a charter member of the Church of God in Christ’s General Board, admitted guilt to “all charges” levied against him. But multitudes of people are still baffled about what Husband did. Other than rumors, the evidence against him was kept secretive and not even reported to legal authorities."
Although Mrs. Malone's comments leave much open room, one wonders what is it that the church has been working on for 15 years regarding the clergy sexual abuse issue and under who's direction that this "work" been taking place and to what aim. Hopefully that will be addressed during the Convocation and the church will come out with a greater sensitivity toward the victims of sexual abuse and a plan that will permanently remove sexual predators and abuses from all clergy activities. Clearly the days of simply looking the other way, as has been the recent MO of many of our leaders, is over, and children of God are demanding a much greater and more biblical accountability of the church leadership.

Section II: Church Property In Transition

3- Truly, how is the real property of congregations handled when a pastor dies and why is the congregation overlooked?


Legal council for the church,  Judge Enoch Perry has said that service in COGIC by it's pastors and leaders is basically voluntary and is at an arms length status. One report is as follows: 

Perry told lawyers that COGIC national has no power to make member churches or pastors obey its rules. The reason: “everything in COGIC is voluntary”. Perry said all dues, tithes, fees, reports and financial stipulations on bishops, superintendents, national office holders, licensed ministers, missionaries, local church reports, jurisdictional reports and the likes are all voluntary and nothing was mandatory. Perry said the church has no ability to enforce dues assessed to its members. The only possible repercussion he said is that “credentials are not lost, just not renewed” [Summary of 2008 Deposition regarding Pastor Sherman Allen (pg 46)]

In the sworn testimony regarding the transition of Emmanuel COGIC 4/11/2005 Elder Perry said this when asked about the structure of the church :
"Well the church of God in Christ is a hierarchical organization, that is we are ecclesiastical. You have your General Board at the top. The General Board filters down to the board of Bishops..."(pg. 15)
and
"Primarily, the local church has the responsibility in terms of its day to day action, but as it relates to the national church for example, the jurisdictional Bishop who is the representative of the national church has the right to come onto that property anytime he wants to. If you look at the 1952 constitution of our church it states specifically that no local church , no board of trustees, no directors can withhold the pulpit from the jurisdictional bishop or any national official. So to that end it's part of the national church and the local church. You can't separate the two, the local church is part of the national organization." (Pg. 54-55)

and this
"because it is a rule and regulation of our church and as I said before and bears repeating anytime you join the church you give your implied consent to be governed and ruled by the regulations of that church. This manual says that every deed ought to contain paragraph nine. Whether they do it or not I think that you will find that the case law substantiates that position. Whether it's included or not, it's still a part of the deed if it's in the national church bylaws, constitution and it's here."(pg. 56)
This is a sharp contrast of opinion from the same person separated by approximately 3 years. What constituted this tight relationship in 2005 regarding the property of Emmanuel COGIC to capitulate to a "voluntary" relationship regarding pastor Sherman Allen and his sexual abuse of members of his church that was part of the COGIC for over a 20 year period of time?

Could it be convenience? Could it simply be a way for the national church to save face? Or could it possibly be a way to preserve assets?

What Does This Mean?

If Elder Perry's testimony is true regarding Emmanuel, then all churches which are a part of the Church Of God In Christ are potentially assets available to settle the claims of the church's creditors or lawsuits if necessary. If this preacher's testimony was false then he either does not know the constitution  of the church (interpreting it erroneously) or has possibly committed perjury which is a criminal offense. Now, before anyone claims that I've slandered the bishop, these are legal proceedings of which I have personally read the testimony and so if there is slander the one testifying has slandered himself. Also before anyone further claims mutual exclusivity, similar testimony regarding the church was rendered in 1999 to rend control of New Jerusalem COGIC away from it's membership and into the hands of the jurisdictional Bishop and ultimately the National church. The national church claimed an "implied trust clause" upon all member churches real property and assets.

This is a legal review summary from a case involving New Jerusalem COGIC who tried to remove their church from the Church Of God In Christ upon the death of their Pastor:
"A local church, if it desires to remain independent of the influence of a parent church body, must maintain this independence in the important aspects of its operation, e.g., polity, name, finances. It cannot, as here, enter a binding relationship with a parent church which has provisions of implied trust in its constitution, bylaws, rules, and other documents pertaining to the control of property, yet deny the existence of such relationship. A local church cannot prosper from and enjoy the benefits afforded by a parent hierarchical church, participate in the functioning of that body, and then disclaim affiliation when the parent church acts contrary to the desires of the local church, so as to shield from equitable or contractual obligations the
property acquired by the local church either before or during such affiliation."
Section III: The Bishop & Emmanuel COGIC A Closer Look:

In this ongoing case regarding Emmannuel COGIC of Wichita, KS, which has been thoroughly documented at COGICJUSTICE. The church had a desire to be transferred from under the leadership of Bishop Joseph C. Gilkey of Kansas Southwest to Kansas Central jurisdiction within the Church Of God In Christ (Yes the same organization). In fact the founding pastor, Elder Joshua Stidham, died on Oct. 24th 2004, was buried Oct. 26th, 2004 and against the wishes of the people a supposed new pastor was appointed by Bishop Gilkey Oct. 31st 2004. What's equally as bad is that Bishop Gilkey would not allow or facilitate the wishes of 100% of the membership of the church in a legal vote on the issue, but instead refused to hear the church's request to transfer and escalated the situation through multiple legal proceedings and court battles. As a result it's been a long hard struggle for this church and they recently received a restraining order from their Bishop...YES you read it right...a RESTRAINING ORDER from their Bishop on a case that was originally mediated and settled WITH PREDUJICE. Not only did the Bishop in this case serve a restraining order on the church, he renewed a case that was settled with the agreement that the issue would never rise again.



For Emmanuel's trouble, the only ones who have seemingly acted with any godliness and clarity of thought has been the Bishop Samuel Nesbitt who is also the Chief Justice of the COGIC Judiciary Board, and the others such as Associate Chief Justice Thomas Jackson Jr. and Associate Justice Talbert Swann. Under the direction of Bishop Nesbitt they have clearly said:
"The constitution gives the Jurisdictional Bishop authority to fill vacancies that occur in the pastorate in the jurisdiction over which he presides. He is not to fill the vacancy by placing himself or his designee inn the vacancy, under the title of Pastor but under the authority of his Episcopal office he or his designee is to supervise or manage the said church until such time as the pastor is appointed to fill the vacancy. The Bishop is to set in order the things that are needed, as instructed in Titus 1:5 (Biblical Authority)" [Dissenting Opinion Constitutional Violations At Emmanuel Pg. 4]
Bishop Nesbitt also said this:
"The power to appoint and ordain elders within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction over which he presides, is vested in the Bishop only, but the screening of the Elders to be appointed or ordained is a shared responsibility. When the selection of the Elder has been made by the "Trinity", Jurisdictional Bishop, District Supt. and Congregation, the Bishop then appoints the chosen Elder as Pastor to fill the vacancy in the Pastorate." [Dissenting Opinion Constitutional Violations At Emmanuel Pg. 5]
They conclude by saying in the dissent:
"The majority decision of the court represents poor constitutional law and entails harmful consequences for the church at large" [Dissenting Opinion Constitutional Violations At Emmanuel Pg. 9]
I wonder why more men of the character and resolve of Bishop Nesbitt do not serve in greater and more numerous capacities within our church. It would certainly be a help in all aspects of church growth and development, as right now we can see that flesh has a high potential to not only get in the way, but to also oppress the people of God, claiming privilege where it has not planted and reaping what it has not sown. There ought to be shame for what has been allowed as these events have not gone without the input of the Presiding Bishop and the General Board. What can we expect as a result of the 102nd Convocation? The answer to that question  remains to be seen.
 
Blessed!

Special Update 11/25/2009: Since the COGIC Web Site; Bishop Blake meets,  will not allow my comment to be published, I thought I would let you, the reader know what I said so that you can contrast it to the comments they allowed to go through. There are less than a handfull of comments similar to mine so I really don't know why this one was restricted for some reason...You tell me:

Comment Dated:
November 9, 2009 at 10:56 pm


Thank God Presiding Bishop Blake & General Board. I was encouraged and inspired by the Holy Convocation.

So far as the sexual abuse policies. I have set forth that we should yet incorporate a method to address and minister to the victims of this type of abuse. They are the ones suffering.

You are doing well by revising and implementing policies aimed at prevention, however the victims need repair and handling from the church once abuse has been established. I’m not talking about consensual relationships exposed or gone bad, I’m talking healing the victims of abuse.

I don’t believe that we will be successful or blessed by God in these type of efforts unless we make a solid and open commitment to addressing the victims and ministering to their needs. I sent you the advocacy plan located here: http://www.reportcogicabuse.com/nvap.html .

Can we meet to discuss it or at least discuss modifying it to make it better and more effective in meeting the needs of the church and people of God? I believe that we must implement a new strategy to address the needs of victims and I believe the heart of our leadership is interested in doing that too, but will we act?

In All Humility~ Supt. H. Burnett


25 comments:

  1. Pastor Burnette, how can I send you an email that I do not want published? I have a question for you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi there,

    This is interesting...

    I am not part of COGIC so I will say that right upfront.

    A church is a non-profit organization and the real estate that the church purchases belongs to that entity. It never belongs to the congregation - even if the congregation paid for the asset with free-will offerings and donations.

    Tithes are considered free-will donations in the eyes of the law.

    The dontrol of the property is in the name of the church organization and not in the name of any organization.

    Legally, if the pastor of the church dies, THAT pastor was not on the deed of the real estate then the property is still under the control of the organization.

    The problem I see is when the church members fail to understand what their "membership" means in the eyes of the courts.

    Their membership is deemed a voluntary association where they are not paid to belong.

    They may THINK that they have legal rights to decide what happens with the church property but unless that is stated in the organizations by-laws, they don't.

    I will comment on the clergy abuse issue later. I didn't want this comment to be a long essay!

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous,

    You can send and confidential or otherwise information to me at Dunamis1@netzero.com

    I'm the only one who revies that material and email. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lisa,

    The arrangement is "jacked"! IF Perry's is the interpretation of it as he claims.

    My question is then why doesn't the church pay my bills right NOW?

    If they can reap where they haven't sown and do that by implication, why can't they also reap these bills, retirement a account, some health insurance etc???

    In addition, the book that most pastors have is affectionately called "the little black book"...most of US think that's the total of the rules and regs...The rules and regs that Perry sites are in the "Green and white" booklet which are updates voted on and accepted by the "General Assembly" which are amendments to the "little black book" with many regs that supercede what's in "the little black book" that just so happens to not be distributed by mass because of the "expense" involved in reproducing it.

    Who is the general assembly you may ask?

    I'll post that in a minute.

    ReplyDelete
  5. In order to understand the General Assembly, you've got to think of it in 2 ways...1- these that have an automatic bid and 2- those that have to be elected by the jurisdiction to have a representative voice and vote.

    Automatic bid- 1- Members of the General Board (Presiding Bishop & Other GB Bishops)2- Jurisdictional Bishops and 3- Jurisdictional supervisors of women's work (aka; State Mothers)

    Those who have to receive a certificate of election to be a part of the general Assembly- 1-Pastors of local churches and ordained elders (such as me) 2- District missionaries (no more than 2)3- lay members(no more than 1)4- such foriegn delegates "as may be determined" by the General Assembly
    These must be "elected" and "certified" by the jurisdiction to which they belong and records documented accordingly.

    IE: IF you in you're in, if not, you're on the outside with only the power to observe....

    What's wrong with that picture?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree with bwbtht

    This is a severe case of intentional misinformation and self inflicted ignorance.

    COGIC (via the jurisdictional bishop) will not upfront tell a congregation about the real deal on their property because many will probably walk away knowing they could lose what they have.

    Then some are so enamored with the COGIC name and "prestige" it may bring them it doesnt ask the hard questions.

    Im sure there are other cases somewhere in between all that.

    At any rate its rotten, dishonest and dictatorial.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Of a TRUTH:

    John 7:4~For [there is] no man [that] doeth any thing IN SECRET, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.

    This is what's happening here.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Supt Burnett, Id like to be proven wrong, but currently I have ZERO confidence that COGIC leadership address these issues you raised in a fair and balanced manner.

    It appears they have invested too much in unrighteous gain at this point.

    All my hope is in God.

    ReplyDelete
  9. R.E. Stidham; Pastor Burnette, what the gentlelady does not understand, Cogic members are not told the property belongs to that entity. Most COGIC Pastors start their church with their immediate family and friend as their only members. They place second mortgages on their homes and as others join, they sell dinners to build an eddifice. They are told the Local Congregation owns the property. It is a matter of disclosure. Come straight up and inform the newly formed church all real property will belong to the church. This information is not given. The vast majority of Pastors and members in COGIC have never been told this.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bishop Blake will address the Elders Council tomorrow 11/5/09 at 5:00PM.

    I need somebody with access to email or a phone to email or call me with the contents of what he presents. It is probably during that time that a ministerial initiative will be laid out. Take notes and please be accurate.

    I appreciate the help of the Saints.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bishop Designate Brandon Porter,

    "Stop gossipping on that internet. Quit giving them all those hits and they won't be that popular."

    "Quit runnin' from the Church Of God In Christ because you can't have it the way you want it...God's trying to prepare something."
    11/4/2009 Approx. 9:55 PM.

    So GCMWatch needs to know that the only reason he does what he does is because of hits...I guess I'm in that boat too but I have only managed a pitly 65,000 or so...So Elder Foster...Brandon said, "quit it"!

    Isn't that special?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow, Bishop designee Porter is pretty shallow and hypocritical. I feel sorry for TN Central in getting such a leader.

    He ignores the preponderance of EVIDENCE and instead attempts to keep people in bondage and ignorance by lobbing patently false accusations. The purpose is more hits? Wow, that sounds childish at best!

    The positive thing is that FINALLY a COGIC leader is brave enough to say something publicly even though it is veiled.

    What's more important: inform people of real and potential danger to them and their children OR
    Tell them to just keep on shoutin, dancin', speaking in tongues and let the danger swallow them up?

    Who's the real watchman on the wall?

    ReplyDelete
  13. The COGIC live stream received well over 700,000 hits yesterday and over a million today. It's off line as I type this.

    My fellow COGIC brothers, the WORLD is looking for us to clean house and set forth substantive changes amongst our procedures. Please don't pass this opportunity up to enter into conversation that will facilitate the necessary change.

    PLEASE.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Blake also addressed a recent article in The Commercial Appeal about Atlanta pastor DL Foster, who started a Web site listing about 30 COGIC clergy members involved in sexual abuse cases.

    The attention the site has received is out of proportion, considering there are “hundreds of thousands” of COGIC leaders, Blake said.

    “Thirty allegations of sexual misbehavior is too many, but it should be looked at in that context,” he said.

    COGIC has had sexual abuse policies in place since 1992 and has a zero-tolerance policy, which is enforced by a sexual misconduct review board, the bishop said.

    To support what is already in place, the entire denomination will be adopting additional policies, including a code of conduct to protect youth.

    “The Church of God in Christ has worked for many years to limit sexual abuse,” he said."

    Now first he says that the numbers don't justify the attention that the issue of sexual abuse has gotten, then he says he's com up with a "new plan" to "protect" the youth...Well if this is some sort of anomoly, why waste the time?

    Lastly, if the numbers don't justify the attention, why has time been weasted focusing on something that can't be justified by the numbers ince 1992?

    I'm sorry, but the issue doesn not seem to be addressed by me with urgence and diligence...PLEASE convince me that I'm wrong...somebody...anybody!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Women's Dept. service was BEAUTIFUL and anointed.

    Now, Dorinda preached excellently. I want her to take that fire to Bobby Jones and challenge him regarding his homosexuality and alignment with the homosexual aganda.

    Those individuals have access and most of us don't. I wish they would use that access to challenge the ungodly in thier choices and sins.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Bishop Darrel Hines preached well also, but there are a few things that he and we need to know:

    1- Jesus DID NOT strip himself of his divinity. He took upon himself the limitations of flesh. He was still God in the flesh.

    2- He who BECAME sin for us, DOES NOT describe that Jesus stood before God as a sinner. There is a vast and totally different objective for the propitiation of Jesus than when sin is transferred. The PUNISHMENT of our sin was upon Jesus, NOT the sin itself.

    3- The Holy Ghost is not merely the nature of God He IS God himself.

    However the Bishop affirms that there is NO such thing as a holy homosexual, lesbian fornicator or adulterer...That Love is not to be confused with holiness and truth!

    He also affirmed that HOLY people don't marry and divorce like we do today...ONCE is enough. We MUST live holy!

    MUCH MUCH props to Bishop Hines for affirming that truth. We'll work on the theology and hopefully COGIC Scholars will give us that opportunity.

    I fully agree, we should seek to be HOLY men, not popular or men of the status quo...but GODLY and HOLY servants of God.

    We repent and place ourselves at the altar for God to purge, cleanse and use!!! Oooh Yes!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'd like to know how comedian Chris Tucker got on stage, closer than any pastor or elder, at the most hold day of all meetings in the COGIC?

    How was it that he was specially acknowledged? What has he done for the church or for Christ? Is he even saved?

    Then why is the COGIC being positioned to be a big inner city social service agency? Bus services, employment services, job training services, financial literacy services etc...I mean I understand we should minister to the people, but is this ministering? There was NO MENTION of biblical literacy training, ministry preparation, feeding the hungry or clothing the destitute...

    Keys for spectactular living??? What is that? Is that even a gospel message? Is it fit for a pentecostal holiness organization...

    I'm sorry, but I'm not excited.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Its matrix theology and it has infected all of the church at large.

    You create a intent, purpose and platform very simular to Christ's and then generously use his name on yours. Because there is such deep biblical illiteracy, what passes for the gospel is nothing but warmed over "motivational" speeches. With a hefty dose of backup hammond organ. Cant forget that.

    I actually heard one bishop during a Mason Temple session reference Norman Vincent Peale in his talks.

    The meals being served by leadership to the people are akin to giving babies poisoned sugar water.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "Poisoned Sugar Water" is right...Just as dangerous and anything I've ever seen...

    Chaplin Barry C. Black? What happened to Jamaal? Where is "LB" Bryant?

    Does anyone have a synopsis of the theological positions of Barry C. Black?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Barry C. Black:

    "There’s a theocratic canker within the United States Senate, a government-funded office with liaisons acting within the staff of every senator. This office organizes Christian worship sessions in the Senate, directs senators’ interpretations of the Christian Bible, and the Bible’s application to legislation, declares that the Christian God is the sovereign ruler of the United States, and proclaims that the “separation of God and State” will not be tolerated in the Senate." Irregular Times

    "In this speech, Chaplain Black declared that the United States is not a constitutional democracy at all, but a religious nation that was created under the direction of the Christian God. The Chaplain pushed Congress to pass laws that are specifically intended to eliminate anything that gets in the way of Christianity. He directed U.S. Representatives to engage in acts of Christian worship, and to warp the activities of Congress into a kind government religious ritual, seeking to placate the demands of theocratic Christianity rather than the will of the American people...Chaplain Black has consistently pushed an agenda that seeks the transformation of the United States of America into a Christian theocracy. The official web site describing the work of the Senate Chaplain, proclaims “God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation…” and declares that the Senate not honor what Black refers to as “the separation of God and State”." That's My Congress

    WOW!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Just when I was about to give up, I heard something about Eli, Hophni and Phineas and the dereliction of Eli and his eventual judgement for failing to deal with the ungodly sons....

    My, my, my. That was worth hearing.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Communion Service Monday,

    Dr. Range (preaching for 77 years)set the house on FIRE...with the word from the Lord...discovering that servants are called to SERVE not reign...TRUE servants have time in the upper room, dealing with themselves setting their own passions.

    This message dealt with the status, condition and seervice of those claiming salvation and a ministry calling...Of the many messages worthy to be purchased, for me, this one is on the TOP of the list.

    This was the first speaker I ever heard when I went to Memphis some years ago. What a priveledge it was to hear him again.

    God bless Dr. Range

    ReplyDelete
  23. What, other than money and titles, moves COGIC leadership? One would think that with such an emphasis on the gifts and movement of the Holy Spirit that we would display some of the fruits of the Spirit and have some compassion for the poor souls who have been victimised by representatives of the Church. Surely, the leverage that the national and jurisdictional Church has over local church properties can be used to enforce policy. The problem seems to be a willingness on the leadership's part to move on these folks' behalf.
    Also, has Haynes' jurisdiction used the the implied trusteeship clause to reclaim the properties under Elder Spanky - I mean Elder S. Allen, or did they let them go into bankruptcy?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Rev. Mack E. Velly,

    Thank for stopping back by my friend, how you been doin'?

    You asked:Also, has Haynes' jurisdiction used the the implied trusteeship clause to reclaim the properties under Elder Spanky - I mean Elder S. Allen, or did they let them go into bankruptcy?

    Now get this...Allen "calimed" that he was NEVER a part of COGIC when the heat got tutned up and subsequentely pulled his church out of the jurisdiction and organization. From what I understand, he was following the discipline then made changes...

    Now according to rule, (if he has received a church charter) he can't do anything with that church no matter how it's titled...From what I understand he wouldn't even necessarily have to have a physical copy of the charter, the Bishop (Bishop Haynes) would have it and could enforce the current interpretation of the rule like Bishop Gilkey is doing.

    Allen seems to be a matter of convenience...it's more economical to let him and the whole church go.

    There's a little doctrine in liability law called vicarious liability that could be the key factor in this move and allowance by the church...I don't know but we'll see.

    ReplyDelete

Please send me an email if you try to post a comment and cannot do so. Dunamis1@netzero.com. Thanks.