(If YOU or someone you know has been victimized, call I Am My Brother's Keeper (IMBKCAC) at 800-827-7279 or email us at Imbkcac@gmail.com. All inquiries are CONFIDENTIAL)
Many of our readers know that I conducted a Press Conference on Clergy sexual abuse and victims advocacy at the 2012 Holy Convocation. At least I scheduled a press conference and did manage to do an interview which I will post shortly. In a minute I'll tell you the results of that press conference and what transpired. Until then enjoy this snippet of a message from our Presiding Bishop's address on Official Day.
Now, that certainly sounded like a great message. "I believe that children are the future" sounds so familiar...In fact this is the part of that snippet that especially caught my attention:
"The church has got to be a safety zone for our children. If you are a pedophile, if you are a child molester if you are a child abuser, if you are determined to pursue sexual misconduct, then either get right or get out!"
Didn't that sound good???
If What He Said Is True, Then Please Tell Me Why...
As I stated in a Press Release regarding COGIC's absentee victims advocacy policy, that I made shortly before the Presidential election, I was on my way to STL to ask church leaders, and the candidates (over 23 of them for the General Board) to undertake the issues of victims advocacy, which is an area that this Grand Ole Church has yet to touch...In other words, the children and adults that suffer from sexual abuse and church or clergy misconduct have NO ONE inside the church or associated with it in any way to help readjust their lives whether spiritually or emotionally and the church does NOTHING to help a victim heal from the atrocity that they have suffered. In many cases they are stepping in to clear themselves of liability or paying settlement funds, but there is nothing in place resembling a victims advocacy plan and neither is there anything considered in spite of my efforts to bring the focus to the issue.
Victim's Advocacy IS NOT A Zero Tolerance Policy. OK, do I have to say once again that a a zero tolerance policy against clergy sexual misconduct and screening of pastors and leaders IS NOT a victims advocacy policy???? It seems like I have to consistently say this especially to people who should know the difference. A "zero tolerance policy" is certainly a step in the right direction, but it is NOT a victims advocacy policy. Do we really not understand the difference between the two? I only ask because most every one I speak to in leadership, either doesn't know the difference or wants me to believe that they don't know the difference. As I tell my kids, "I can't call it", but what I do know is that is the case....That is a sad case, but it is true.
Contacting The Presiding Bishop
Well, out of honor and respect, even though my 2009 proposal faxed to Bishop Blake and the then General Board went unacknowledged, I tried once again to engage our Presiding Bishop by contacting him through his personal assistant by email in STL the night before the conference was to take place seeking to establish a partnership with him seeking to work together in addressing this very important and serious issue. My tone was positive reserving the right to speak truth.
Here is the part that should be of special interest to every person who is a member of COGIC and otherwise, that has received misinformation and LIES regarding my efforts; this is what I said to the Bishop in a letter to him:
"So that you will know, unlike some of my friends and associates, I am not willing to bash our church. However, I am willing to tell the truth in effort that we can come to greater and higher accountability and implement programs in favor of those who have suffered the greatest among our ranks."
One can read the full email letter that I sent to Bishop Blake and that he received, by clicking HERE.
Well, the Press conference was delayed due to my late arrival. (about 30 minutes ) Clearly this was not a COGIC press session...COGIC did not call it at all. I, through I Am My Brother's Keeper Christian Advocacy Council, called the conference and media inquiry, complete with our phone number and email for clarification, questions or concerns.
Unfortunately, some media asked COGIC about the Press Conference. When that happened, COGIC press core evidently had been instructed to inform the media that the press conference, which they had nothing to do with, had been cancelled....WHAAAAAT???? CANCELLED????
This is the interview with Erin Williams of STL. Public Radio regarding the issue.
Who instructed COGIC Press Core and staff to tell the media that a press conference that I Am My Brother's Keeper Christian Advocacy Council had called regarding clergy sexual abuse and the lack of a victims advocacy policy within the Church Of God In Christ, had been cancelled??? Better yet, why would COGIC officials evidently INSTRUCT the press core officials to tell the media that a press conference, which implicitly and explicitly deals with the safety of CHILDREN and adults that suffer from church related abuse, had been cancelled???
Is the church really a "safety zone"? Then why are the voices calling for the safety of individuals through advocacy SILENCED?Why is there obfuscation on the issue???
Now, before one begins to shout and say that "the Lord confused the enemy", which is invariably a certain statement of ignorance and scriptural illiteracy as it pertains to this issue, one should ask, who is the enemy???...Is the enemy the one stifling the victims that have been abused and suffering life changing atrocities, or is the enemy those who speak up for the victims trying to find a way to make their lives better???
The Rest Of The Story
The reason I am taking time to explain this is because many people, and I say many people were praying for this event and praying for some acknowledgement from COGIC over the plight of victims of this type of ungodly abuse at the hand of COGIC personnel. I certainly appreciate all the prayers and support I received for this, but we're not through yet...
Once I saw where this was going I did two things in response. First, I held the Press Conference anyway.
The full text of what I said in a prepared statement can be found by clicking HERE.
Of course, this was to the dismay of some reporters who contacted my office, complaining that there was no press conference after the fact. When I explained the situation, they (members of the press) finally understood that they should have read and followed the instructions in the release, because none of the press realized that they were entering into the COGIC landmine of obfuscation and excuses for poor service and misdirection...and Yes, I did endorse this message....
Secondly, along with my my personal assistant who witnessed the entire series of events, I went to the administrative offices to speak with Bishop Blake and Bishop Enoch Perry. After finding their section of St. Louis, I made it known clearly who I was and that I would await for them to meet me, as I desired to speak with them, and had heard that at least Bishop Enoch desired the same. After a brief wait, we were told that they were unavailable due to meetings and that they couldn't speak...Not even their assistants were available to speak with us.
I thought that funny because only two weeks prior Enoch Perry himself had spoken to my Bishop, Bishop Robert Sanders of Illinois Third, asking him all kinds of questions about me, even having my report payment history in front of him. Go for the MONEY....It seemed that now that I was in his presence, neither he nor any of our Presiding Bishop's assistants could meet with me or discuss any issues of exactly why I was doing what I was doing or even ask any questions pertaining to it at all.
For The Critic:
Invariably, there are corporate lovers, and cronies that will see the corporation of COGIC right no matter what is done. That's OK, I am not trying to prove it wrong as a corporation. What I am saying is that there is far too much lip service given to the issues and no impetus placed on those who have lost and had their world turned upside down due to the sins of some, deemed charlatans.
|2012 COGIC Presiding Bishop|
& General Board
The question is how can anyone contend that serving victims as we do with utter silence and distribution of checks under the right circumstance is Godly service or according to a biblical mandate? How can the church continue to roll on without a victims advocacy simply because the impression is that this would mean admission of guilt and potentially cost the church more money....
OK, if it costs the church $800,000 per claim of sexual impropriety according to the statements of our Presiding Bishop in the COGIC General Assembly record, and we can trace the loss of jurisdictions, property, not to mention the disheartening of countless souls, how can we simply get by....Let me ask this:
If Penn State University COULD NOT get by, because, in essence, it did not handle victims properly, how can the Church Of God In Christ feel that it will get by if it continues to fall derelict in serving the spiritual needs of those among us who have been damaged by clergy and church abuse? How can we escape if we don;t provide a tangible and real way to help them? Are the new and reappointed General Board members of this church ready to deal with this issue? One thing is for sure...the issue is NOT going away!!!!!