Monday, June 6, 2016

A COGIC Apology & Revised Operations Re: Young Men Of Valor Training Manual

Read Pt. 1 Of This Issue HERE

In a recent posting at, the Church Of God In Christ came forth to correct and "repudiate" the information set forth in the "Sexual Health" section of its 2015 "Young Men Of Valor Training Manual". In addition, an official letter of apology was sent from International Youth Department President, Pastor Ben Stephens, "distancing himself" from the teaching of the manual. The office of the Presiding Bishop seems to have delivered a general order reaffirming our church's position on the issue of celibacy, sex and sexuality and setting forth guidelines of how the church will insure that such erroneous information will not be delivered to any COGIC member under a COGIC platform in the future.

As a reminder, this is what I asked in my previous article:
"How did this material get by screening? Was the material even screened at all? Were our leaders so enamored with their job duties, recognition, fame, conferences and the "department program" that what they were actually teaching our youth was of no consideration? Is there commonly no vetting of material by the Presiding Bishop's office? What of General Board officials? Have they no duty to review church programs and materials to make sure there is harmony with church and biblical values in materials distributed? With all of this surrounding material given to our young men, what in the world may be in the Young Women Of Excellence material? Does it also contain challenging and ungodly suggestions? The church and the leaders of the church have a greater duty to the members of this church than what they are showing and have shown in this matter? A statement of apology from these department leaders is in order as well.
Although the who and how, of this question was not addressed, I remain positive, and am EXCITED to see that dissent such as mine and the dissent of others was taken seriously enough to act upon and to implement measures that assure the fidelity of teaching and consistency of doctrine to ALL COGIC youth and members going forward.   

First: A Letter Of Apology:

Pastor Ben Stephens, the President of the International Youth Department, in a letter to Presiding Bishop Blake dated May 29th, stated the following:
"It was under my watch that the Young Men of Valor (2015 Edition) was published that omitted the Church of God in Christ's well-established theological, biblical, and doctrinal information surrounding "sanctified" sexuality. In its stead was clinical information acquired from various (non-Church of God in Christ) professional sources. The 2015 edition clearly represents a lapse in judgement and failure in supervision, and I take full responsibility for it."
Pastor Stephens further affirmed that the Young Men Of Valor program should be consistent with church values by stating the following 5 things:
"1. Sex is not to be engaged in outside the context of marriage; therefore, encouraging young men to maintain their virginity until marriage, by practicing celibacy.
2. We support the concept and commitment to sexual abstinence prior to marriage.
3. We encourage and support holy matrimony only between a man and woman.
4. We find it vital to address sexual temptations but from a holy and biblical perspective.
5. Single Young Men of Valor are encouraged to live chaste and sexually pure according to the Bible and the Doctrine of the Church of God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian (Young Man of Valor) is enabled to live a holy and separated life in this present world."
Pastor Stephens letter was encouraging, to the point and well appreciated. The entire letter can be viewed HERE.

Secondly: New Guidelines To Govern The Review & Release Of Distributed Information:

I and others asked about the vetting process for publications and information that is delivered to our children and all COGIC members. The General Order from the Bishops office, in no uncertain terms, addresses the issue as follows:
"1. Pastor Ben Stephens has given a strong reprimand and his actions will be subject to oversight for an undetermined period of time;

2. Oversight and management of the Young Men of Valor program has been reassigned;

3. Bishop James L. Whitehead, Jr. has been appointed to lead a standing commission that will be responsible for reviewing all printed departmental materials as well as all materials promoted or sold through the Publishing House to ensure they are in line with COGIC doctrine;

4. Representatives of the Publishing Board will appear before the General Board semi‐annually to provide information on content being offered; and,

5. All department leaders have been tasked with conducting an audit within their respective departments to determine if any documents now exist that are in need of revision to ensure alignment with COGIC doctrine."
In my opinion, these guidelines, if followed faithfully, will assure that information delivered to our youth is consistent to COGIC doctrine and more importantly biblical positions on the issues. The General Board should know and be fully aware of what is being taught to not only our youth, but throughout our church.

I believe that it is the first duty of the minister and ministry everywhere to deliver information that is faithful to the word of God. The conferences and all the operations, books and everything else is secondary to truth and the wholesome, biblically based information that we are charged to deliver to our members and the world. It is my desire that this church would slow itself down, reorganize priorities and set its face towards the substance that makes holiness different and unique from the doctrines of men and live out its first call, to love God and do righteously in this world. 

Secondary Issues:

Even with what I consider to be positive steps taken by our church in addressing the issues favorably and responsibly, there is yet further speculation that this fiasco was a calculated move to move us off center as it pertains to fidelity and sexual integrity and purity within the church, and that Ben Stephens is wholly responsible for this manual and its subsequent content, but does not suffer because of his relationship to Presiding Bishop Blake. 

The fact is that even "if" Pastor Ben Stephens was totally responsible for the teachings in this manual, and even 'if" such material was planted as a part of a conspiracy to subjugate our youth to ungodliness, ALL parties, involved (or not), have had to publicly repudiate the manual and its contents under the "Sexual Health" section, to the fullest degree. This is a written record which has been captured both by myself and others and is not so easily overcome by equivocating on the issue. 

I do not believe that addressing the response with high levels of criticism is productive. While each individual is entitled to believe what they wish, it is the position of this blog that this matter has been and is being addressed adequately by COGIC leadership, there are new procedures in place to address other potential issues,  and The Dunamis Word is glad to serve and facilitate positive change and better procedures in whatever way we can.


COGIC General Order & Repudiation Of The Sexual Health section of the Young Men Of Valor Training Manual: 


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