Tuesday, April 5, 2016

COGIC Charges. Procedures, Rules & Regulations

It has been some time since Elder Earl Carter has taken COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake to task on the internet for what he (Carter) claims is immoral behavior, an abuse of power and a host of other issues. Carter has continued to air his grievances in spite of recommendations to seek an alternate route or path to make his concerns known. 
There are many sad parts to all of this. Carter, who repeatedly challenged Bishop Blake to take him to court, had his wish granted and is now beating the same internet seeking contributors to help fund his defense. In addition, people, who know either very little or nothing about COGIC process in these matters, are lining up in their feelings, emotion, and righteous indignation, some spouting off some of the most ridiculous things and those encouraging the continued discord, are, in effect, supporting and propping up more CONFUSION!

FACT: Every Organization Has Rules & Guidelines 

ANY group of people that come together for a particular purpose is an organization to some degree. They may or may not have a formal or written code, but bring centered around a purpose or cause makes them an organization. Within that there are certain norms and values that are either accepted or rejected among members of the group. 

Although many say, and I agree, that that the church is an "organism", meaning that the church has a living and breathing right now purpose and is filled with people who's lives have been changed for the better by its head, Jesus Christ, the fact is that there is yet a "natural" side of operation and functions that exist within even an "organism" that causes the sum of its parts (the people) to operate and be recognized as an "organization". No matter how independent church is or claims to be, it is still an organization and has rules, guidelines and procedures, whether those procedures are spoken about openly or not. All entities have rules and regulations. If they don't they will not amount to anything and will lead to more of an identity of a "cult" following and cult leadership. Why? Because no limitations or restrictions are placed on anything therefore anything is subject to happen or occur. That is not freedom, that is bondage. 

Rules and regulations refrain cult like actions and activities from taking place and therefore serve to protect the group for unwarranted and unwelcome dangers. 

Just a word to the "hyper" spiritual:
I know that some individuals wish to claim that all of their activities are "rooted within scripture" or governed by specific revelation from scripture. "We do this by the word" so they say. However, at the end of the day, that saying and the literal interpretation and application of sayings such as these are only something to satisfy the need for relevance.

ALL bible believers should do things according to the word, however, that does not mean there is chapter and verse for each and everything we do...In short, all things should be done according to the bible, even if what is done is not in the bible or a procedure that the bible does not cover to the nth degree.

FYI: COGIC Is An Organization With Rules, Regulations, Processes & Procedures

COGIC is an organization reincorporated in 1968. It has various branches of internal governance that perform various functions. It has a General Assembly, consisting of it's members and various representatives. It has an Executive Branch consisting of elected General Board members led by an executive leader currently called the Presiding Bishop. It also has a Judiciary that oversees technical issues and interprets rules of the church. There are also a Council of Pastors and Elders and a Board Of Bishops. I will not go into the various limitations of each branch of operation at this time, but I will state that these parts of the church are functional and meet at least annually. (if not more according to Church Constitutional rules) 

The church is Episcopal in nature. Meaning that as opposed to being led by rank and file members of the church, leaders of these various Branches of governance are preachers or Elders of the church and in most cases Bishops. Do these branches of governance come up short at times? SURELY they do. I have often held the position that 3rd party oversight over many of the outlined functions and "checks and balances" are essential to make the process work in favor of the rank and file member of the church.  That is an issue that should be addressed until there is significant change in this area.

My point is that often, we only address the spiritual side of service to Christ. However, as I have noted, there is a natural side that must be addressed as well. Jesus was aware that the imperfection among men made it necessary to have organization and an organized process of operation. during his earthly ministry, there were individuals even among those he called, fighting to be "closer" to him than others even during his time (Mt. 20:21, Mk. 10:37). When Jesus ascended he left the church in an organized fashion (Ephes. 4:11) and it was the church's mission to continue in this world in a manner that both honored God and served the needs of humanity by offering salvation to the multitudes. (Mt. 28:18-20)

Mini Synopsis

Like Carter, I had issues with Bishop Blake's initial response after Carter's message during the Holy Convocation. To me, dissent was in order, but more importantly, a clarification was necessary. None of us, who have called for and worked for reform within our church, actually knew what Bishop was distancing himself from in his initial commentary. Then the circumstantial evidence suggesting that Bishop was repudiating holiness was overwhelming when the late Peter Gomes and endorsement of the UDHR and other issues were considered. However, Bishop Blake heard the call and indeed clarified the issues that he had with Carter's message. Whether one agrees with his assessments or not, his answer clarified the issues and set the record straight that he was concerned about the language that Carter had used during his message, and the resultant impact that the language had on the church's impact and relationships. whether reluctantly or not, Bishop Blake did not repudiate the content of the message. 

After Bishop Blake's initial statements, Carter continued to question Bishop Blake because he felt that he was "thrown under the bus" and specifically called out. Come to find out, Carter had apparently been promised an audience with Blake, but was not granted the opportunity to personally meet him to discuss matters. After negative comments began to surface regarding Carter, and various preachers made open calls to distance themselves from Carter, Carter began allegations not only about Bishop Blake's seeming rejection of his message, but took it much further making direct accusations against the character and moral turpitude of Bishop Blake claiming that Bishop Blake represented less than he should represent as a leader of the grand ole Church Of God In Christ and that Blake himself violated the tenets of holiness, the bible and the church itself by embracing a homosexual lifestyle, specifically calling Bishop Blake not only a homosexual, but also a pedophile. He has since gone on to suggest that most COGIC leaders are syndicate bosses who place hits on individuals and who have henchmen to do their dirty deeds. All of which has further not been evidenced.  

What Is The Proper Procedure?  

While we don't believe that ANY of Carter's accusations are true or hold a place in reality, we acknowledge that Carter has a right to believe what he wishes. The problem is that if what Carter says is true, is true, he has done a disservice to not only himself, but to all the church, by his improper and sensationalistic handling of what he purports to be facts. 

Although there have been a few that have outlined this, what I hope to point to is that, there is/was a process that has been set in place since 1972 within COGIC that allows persons such as Carter to address the issues that he has elucidated. In fact, BEFORE the internet and YouTube was created, there was a process and a path within church rules and processes to address, make known and resolve the issues that Carter has set forth...

Elder Carter claims to have served the church for nearly 40 years or so. Well for over 44 years the process known as the "Trial OF All Bishops" has existed within the church as a method to hear and resolve grievances based on certain criteria. Here are the rules, please read them carefully:


Now, it should be noted that IF Carter had a grievance or thought that Bishop Blake was immoral, by church rule, there is a process whereby that can be made known and he can be addressed as well as have the opportunity to address. 

Ranting and raving over an issue does not solve the issue. In fact that only makes the ranter look moronic and eccentric. Neither of those qualities are qualities that I believe that any of the individuals involved worked to present to the world. 

According to the RULE, Carter should have filed a certified letter outlining the charges first with the Board of Bishops. Secondly, retained "in house" counsel in preparation for the matter to be set over for trial. 

If the accused Bishop is found guilty he can appeal to the General Assembly and their ruling is binding. If the accused Bishop is a General Board member (which Bishop Blake is) it would appear that he also has the right to appeal to the Judiciary Board as well.

At either rate, there is an organized process and a path that could have been taken to both address and resolve the issues. Some say that Blake is the one who instituted the courts...Well, first, he had a right to do so. Carter repeatedly asked him to take him to court! Secondly Carter still yet makes character accusations that could potentially damage Bishop Blake's reputation. The allegations are serious and demand legal redress.

So What Am I Saying?

I am saying that Elder Carter, should have known these procedures and should have used them. He knew all the Department leaders and how to make process work within this church. As previously stated, Carter did all of us a disservice if his allegations are true because he has not only failed to provide adequate and reasonable evidence, he has completely done away with any due process or respect for church regulations which is the process whereby discovery would and or could have been made. 

Further, for our Presiding Bishop to now be embroiled in a disagreement of this magnitude simply because of his right to set things in order and make clear the position of the church on such matters is utterly ridiculous!

The critics have strayed far off path. Blake is criticized for not only his position on Carter's message, but for the people who attend his church VOLUNTARILY! According to the critic, the Pastor of the church can't even remove a musician from duty any more without being accused of some moral flaw! Well, I guess that removal of persons can be done in any other church, just not West Angeles!

So far as membership and attendance, I have often said that if many of these same critics had just one of the "famous" members of West Angeles in attendance at their church to any degree, there would be no problems at all...Jealously is more cruel than the grave!

I have disagreed with certain procedures and operations within this church. We certainly need victim's advocacy and a change in rules that favor the members more than the ministerial leaders. I yet contend that Bishop Brown should be completely removed from office, or at the very least thoroughly investigated by this church. I certainly contend that Bishop Gilkey was wrong in his actions in Kansas and abused his privilege in the transition of a church to another jurisdiction. I agree that certain others who, were whores and whoremongers and left the church when it was convenient for them to leave, should not be allowed to come back. I also agree that funds raised for reports and credentials should not be used to pay secret settlements of abuse and scandal no matter how little or how much. 

However, I don't believe that any of those things started or exist because Bishop Blake is immoral. I don't believe it is wise or biblical to connect that actions and choices of men to the morality of our leaders or leadership until such time as there is evidence to support such allegations. Then, until as such time that Carter can both handle his allegations with credulity and responsibly, and furthermore, provide REAL evidence of his claims (that currently are tantamount to church GOSSIP!) I'll continue to do what I have been doing and that is fighting for change within our church for the benefit of ALL the members of the church and the community which is something that finds support within our church at the highest levels. 

I think everyone deserves to ask Carter why he has chosen not to follow church procedure, but yet claims to love the church...

We all make mistakes, I only hope that was simply a "mistake" and not an intended misdirection. Why? Because misdirections change nothing. They are only designed to draw attention by preying on those less sophisticated and less knowledgeable. Personally I HOPE I am not staring at the answer to my own questions!

Blessed!    

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