Sunday, March 13, 2011

Calling Out To ALL COGIC Bishops

The Late Founder
Bishop Charles H. Mason
Caring For The Sheep
With the passing of General Board member and former Presiding Bishop, Bishop Chandler D. Owens I believe that there is a serious call to the leaders of the Church Of God In Christ. The perception is that we, as a church, must stem a tide  of secularism and political and social liberalism and elitism that many Saints have contacted my office and this blog regarding. The ugly trio of politics, liberalism and elitism have reared their ugly head and the response is a grumbling and travailing within the spirit of believers calling for a restoration and reversion of this church to biblical principles and godly precepts devoid of politically and secularly inspired aspirations that lend to the seduction and consequent subdual of the masses.

The Question & The Call

Are there officials, especially Bishops, yet within the church that will undertake agenda that will benefit ALL members and factions of the church? This is the question that should be posed and one that I believe is deserving of an answer. Now, to be fair, some of the issues we face are issues based on individual and personal accountability or lack thereof. Then on the other hand public trouble is generated by a few who are visible because they do and allow what the church, especially the Grand Ole COGIC,  is not supposed to do and allow.
To recap, some of the more pertinent issues, we must examine how churches are currently being handled in periods of transition. As I have featured on this site, we now have what can only be perceived as greedy Bishops that engage in suing and bringing shame to the churches that they oversee as we will further explain below. Church laws that were instituted to protect the Saints are being used to bind them and restrict them under the eyes of our national leaders and leadership.

Then there are other serious issues that have developed from Clergy Sexual Abuse and Misconduct of the innocent. Seemingly, those that have been hurt in these types of cases have been hurt without repair. Others have been awarded resources and finances of the church to the tune of millions of dollars at a time. We have been directed to experience pastoral training on the effects of CSA and CSM within the jurisdictional setting, but we must ask, are there yet leaders within the church willing to undertake these issues from a victims perspective, calling an end to the ungodly practices of denial, avoidance and media posturing? Are there any that will make it known that what this church needs from top to bottom is an awakening and a reversion to plain, simple and honest truths rendering godly service to the people that they have been called to lead?  

Atrocities

1 Tim. 5:22 ~"Lay hands suddenly on no man neither be partaker of other men's sins keep thyself pure"

In outling these issues, please know that I yet believe that the Church Of God In Christ is one of , if not the



greatest church in the world. There is nothing quite like our worship experience. So the destruction of the church is certainly not my intention, but like a surgeon, we can only excise the problem when we make a deep enough incision to remove it. In addition, I am not trying to create a platform for anyone or against anyone. Much of what I am talking about was going on in some shape of form before current leadership stepped in office. However, I don't believe a Christ centered agenda from this point forward will exclude any of the issues I raise, among the many others, that are not brought forth by this discourse.
Here are a few examples of why I feel that the time is now for the Bishops of the church to stand and go in the godly and Christ centered path that God has called them into to help and deliver all members of the church from oppression, whether deliberate or indirect:

Example 1

A $1.5 Million settlement was rendered in 2007 splitting the late Bishop McCarthy's Jurisdiction, Illinois 5th, into East and West. This settlement was undertaken to award victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse and Misconduct (CSA). This CSA was said to have been known by the Jurisdictional Bishop and certain National COGIC officials. Unfortunately, for many great and wonderful people involved, the accusations were not acted upon and the victimized were not delivered the emotional, spiritual and psychological relief that they needed.

The full report regarding this is available at COGICabusewatch.wordpress.com.

Please allow me to explain why this is a greater problem than it appears:

Elder Enoch Perry
This lawsuit had been settled in 2007. As I initially wrote in Clergy Sexual Sins Pt. 2, in 2009 at the National Holy Convocation in Memphis, TN., Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake and COGIC legal council Elder Judge Enoch Perry, took the floor of the General Assembly and stated the following as is recorded within the General Assembly minutes:
"He (Judge Enoch Perry) reported that in over 100 years, there have been 20-25 processed cases of sexual misconduct. He stated statistically the numbers are significantly small; however, there should not be one case among us. Judge Perry reported there has not been one successful lawsuit against the church; cases have either been settled or dismissed. He further stated that Bishop Blake supports the church's zero tolerance policy against sexual misconduct." ~ [2009 COGIC General Assembly Minutes Pg. 2 Para. 2 parenthesis added]
Aside from the fact that Judge perry does not think that a settled lawsuit is a successful one, (which is beyond my understanding) a greater problem arises when his statement is combined with the next one. The same report stated that Bishop Blake further said:
"Presiding Bishop Blake thanked Judge Perry for his remarks regarding the church's policy in relationship to sexual misconduct. he pointed out that, on average, the church spends about $800,000 to settle legal matters many of which have to do with accusations of sexual misconduct. (Who made the comment? and that one singe lawsuit has the potential to bankrupt the church.)" ~ [2009 COGIC General Assembly Minutes Pg. 3 Para. 2 as it is in the minutes]
These statements, were obviously made with a certain hubris and an intent to seemingly dumb-down the issue. the commentary in the minutes "(Who made the comment? and that one singe lawsuit has the potential to bankrupt the church.)" was obviously inserted to not only make a point but to sneer at those who brought contrary opinions about the litigation that the church was and is experiencing regarding these cases. Certainly this was an effort to overs-peak those who ask questions and offer dissent regarding the handling of victims and assets as a result of  sexual abuse cases. The problem is that the statements are misleading as they do not reflect that during the same time frame, COGIC had settled the lawsuit referenced above paying out over $1.5 million and causing the demise of Illinois 5th Jurisdiction. What seems to add insult to injury is that neither do the comments  reflect the other pending lawsuit that COGIC was in the process of fighting which was originally filed in 2007 two years BEFORE the comments made by church officials. That lawsuit was based on the past and multiple sexual abuses and sins of the late Pastor Charles Smith of Seattle, Washington. The lawsuit stated the following:
"Despite knowledge of the abuse, the church defendants did not seek out Charles Smith's victims, when they learned or should have learned of the abuse and did not attempt to mitigate the damage inflicted on them." ~ CSA Plaintiff
The late Pastor Charles Smith
The church did nothing for the victims until they were forced to, and even then they only paid out money that they receive from the clergy and members who support the church. Is this what Jesus would do for those who had been hurt and damaged by the ungodly? Does any of this fulfill the mission of Christ? This lawsuit, settled after multiple delays, was settled for over $1 Million in 2010 and also caused a jurisdiction in Washington headed by Bishop Westbrook, to loose it's Jurisdictional headquarters.  

Yet, from statements made by our leaders in a general session designed to inform the church of its current condition in 2009 , and after having paid $1.5 million in 2007 with more on the way in 2010, it appears that everything was OK in their mind. In short, from the construction of the record and what we now know about the time frame, this was seemingly nothing more than a play on the intelligence of those looking on and those of us serving the church. One can draw ones own conclusions about the individuals involved but I believe that we are commanded by God to do much better than this  and we can if we try. I also believe that we will be judged for our inaction and may as well have been a participant in this unrighteous act if we remain silent.

Example 2

In 1967 when Elder Joshua Stidham founded Emmanuel COGIC he had no idea of what would ensue following his going to glory to receive his reward of faithfulness. He had no idea that what can only be described as a greedy Bishop would concoct a plan to merge a church against its will, and abuse the church laws that were designed to protect members and congregations. I'm sure that he had no idea that his survivors would be left subject to certain individuals with no value for the mission of Christ and HIS church in the world.

Bishop Gilkey
To add some context To the story, all of this was done because the church wanted to enjoy its worship experience under a new new jurisdiction in the same church. What you will hear is that this case is about a son, Rond Stidham, who was disappointed because he was not appointed as the pastor of the church in absence of his father, but nothing is further from the truth. In this case 100% of the members of Emmanuel were in agreement with a  simple change of jurisdictions,  they were denied the opportunity to express their faith as they saw fit. Under a constitutional rule of the church, which was conveniently interpreted to say that only a Pastor could initiate transfer of a church from one jurisdiction to another, this church was denied its right to exercise their faith. According to some of the interpretive authorities, since there was no pastor, there could be no transfer, no matter how many people wanted to transfer, and no matter what the church wanted to do. Further, IN SPITE OF a highly fervent dissent made by Bishop Nesbitt of the national church Judiciary Board, (NEW: Read Bishop Nesbitt's Opinion Below) correctly interpreting the rule against political pressure that all members of the board were receiving, this church was ultimately denied their rights under the oversight and with the knowledge of the national church. With the consent of the national church leadership Emmanuel continues to be penalized for their desire to express their faith even to the point of suffering the wage garnishment of its trustees at the hands and direction of what can only be deemed as a greedy and oppressive bishop so that he could get money that did not belong to him.  One may say, well, maybe their ruling was correct. Maybe they should have simply said, OK, we'll stay in this jurisdiction...Let's digress for a minute and imagine that the Bishop was right...What gives this Bishop or any Bishop the right to sue the members of the church for money especially when he has his own church and is a full time officer of it? This is not a church that he has founded. In fact, do Bishops sue their church? Isn't their job to protect the church? Then how does a Bishop sue it, with the oversight and allowance of the national church leadership? This fiasco, like all things that a COGIC Bishop does, was done with the national church as a willing participant. However, the oversight and correction for this was supposed to rest with the General Assembly of the church,  which has  been silent because it has not been brought to them that they should and can act to remove this horrible burden that acts of greed and ungodliness have brought, not only upon the members of the local church, but upon the members of the national church and those who are unrelated to these and other such events.

Further information regarding this case can be found at COGIC Issues: 102nd Annual Holy Convocation and  COGIC Justice.

Call To Make A Difference

The Saints That The Leaders Must Protect
Now, that Bishop Owens has passed and we consider and reflect upon the condition of our church and what the 2012 general election will bring, I wonder are there any Bishops within this church who will undertake a platform and effort to correct the wrongs that have continued for so long from the highest levels of the church? Are there yet leaders with the nerve to put themselves in the fray and demand transparency, accountability and a reconstitution and strengthening of the General Assembly as church law requires? Are there leaders who will stand out and demand that this church stand up for those who have been victimized and in favor of churches who have had their rights stripped by leaders who are greedy, flesh centered and misdirected?

Numbers 32:20-23 20-And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, 21-And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, 22-And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. 23-But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out."

We Must Never Forget Where We've Come From
Now some will say that I as an Elder in the church should not broadcast the shortcomings of the church and make things such as these public. Some say that this might discourage a soul from coming to the Lord. I can only say that you really don't know the reason I do what I do and that although sin in the dark may have its appeal to them who love sin, whatever that is done in the dark will come to the light and only them with pure hands and a clean heart will stand in the congregation of the righteous. Whatever is done in the dark, cannot be hidden and God will not bless those who conspire to create image and cower when it comes to delivering those who have been taken advantage of. There will be a judge that we will answer to and I am preparing myself to give the answer that HE will be pleased with.

Psalms 24:3-53-Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4-He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5-He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

 Blessed!


NEW: Bishop Nesbitt's Dissenting Opinion COGIC Judiciary Board
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6 comments:

  1. http://cogicabusewatch.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/cogic-leader-surveys-the-range-of-abuses-in-the-denomination/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well written Supt. Barnett. It troubles me greatly that these supposed men of God with all their theological training and so called hearing from God can continue to slosh around in the mud that is sin. Even those who are not directly responsible yet remain quiet and refuse to acknowledge wrong doing among the church.

    Your question rings loudly....

    Who will stand and say enough is enough?

    Who will risk it all for righteousness?

    Who will die to self and embrace the suffering and scorn from those who oppose God?

    I and others have stepped out....will there be more?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Remember this as the late Bishop Dr. T.T. Rose would say:

    "Every shut eye isn't sleep"

    I'll add:

    "Eyes that appear to be shut may see more than those with strained pupils."

    God is in control!

    ReplyDelete
  4. "A crooked road can never be straight."

    With that said, many of the problems that exist within the church are spiritual in that the discernment of the congregations have dulled to such a point that the parishoners have been relagated from co-owners to random shoppers and patrons in the Church of God. Jesus said "My sheep KNOW my voice, and a STRANGER they will not follow." Discernment is not only in what they say but also in what they do. When YOU say that GOD has called you to lead, rather than follow. You are now ACCOUNTABLE for your actions. While you must have business acumen to handle the "business" of the church, it is still the house of God....AMEN? What I have found outside my home church where I grew up is very different: Superintendents with armed bodyguards, living in million dollar homes, driving cars costing over 6 figures, spending 30 minutes in service just on the offering, targeting homosexuals and lesbians in ALL their sermons because that's what gets the people giving more to the plate. I have no doubt in my mind that Jesus is alive, but if he were to manifest physically, I'm sure some of the "temples" would be reduced to rubbish.

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  5. There is a rumble in the land right now. Change is on the horizon for this church.

    Now, we don't merely need a power grab, we need authentic reform. Will we do that in favor of the people of God, or will we continue with "Business As Usual" Thank you Supt. Dickerson-Wells for that fine and exemplary word! That is the marker.

    ReplyDelete

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