Tuesday, November 27, 2012

COGIC Issues Pt. 4..."A Man's Church And A Man's World"

I hope and trust that all the Saints of God and readers of this blog had a happy and joyous Thanksgiving and are having a happy and joyous Holiday season.Yes, we all have so much to be thankful for and I am thankful for the service you render to God and your continued prayers!

Sometimes our plans for ministry are altered or changed from the very beginning. There are many things that we don't start off wanting or desiring to do. (step up Jonah and testify) It is always much more easy to comply with the will of men, some of whom are convinced that they hold the key to the personal and spiritual success of others. From a biblical standpoint, we should be reminded that only God grants favor and only he promotes, sets down and raises up, and that is ONLY according to HIS purpose and will as HE deems fit.  

With those things noted, still at times, we are thrust into situations according to God given and God directed convictions on issues. Many of us recognize this constraint toward truth and the fulfillment of purpose as the "calling of God". 

The Call Within The Call

1 Cor. 7: 20-24 ~ 20-Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 21-Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 22-For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. 23-Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 24-Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

Desiring for individuals to be healed from the dreadful pain and disease of clergy and church related sexual abuse is no less than a calling of God for me. Focusing on the healing of those who have suffered and been victimized as a result of church related and clergy sexual abuse is nothing that I set out to do or accomplish when I acknowledged the call of God in my life some almost 27 years ago. 

Needless to say, among other things, this is a mission faced with formidable challenges. At the same time, I have never been afraid of a challenge and I can think of nothing better to fight for than the freedom and blessings of souls. 

The Battlefield

Ephes. 6:1For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

First of all, it would seem that churches and church folk, would be the last group of people to have to fight over decisions pertaining to healing victims of clergy and church related sexual abuse. In a perfect world, it would "seem" that persons who have committed their lives to the betterment and salvation of all mankind would be some of the first, to perceive a wrong and direct their efforts toward correcting it or at least supporting others who are correcting it. However, that is a perfect world. Unfortunately we are stuck with this one since Adam's sin of disobedience.  

This world, filled with sin, is much less than perfect, and because of that it seems that not only do we have to wrestle with church leaders and church folk in general to help them understand the need for sexual abuse victims advocacy, (and I say "wrestle" with and NOT "educate" because some simply live in denial of facts that there is a problem and that victims need much more professional service) over conformity, popularity and fame, but we also have to convince them that there are serious issues and that some of the methodologies and practices that have been embraced historically, are some of the very things that are destroying lives. 

I have not seen such a subject as this one in which individuals have had to be convinced of issues even against what they already knew were real issues. It's like living in disbelief...no matter how many times one looks at it, it doesn't change and unfortunately it's all real.  

The Real Deal & Real Talk  

Let's get real...the reason that many folk balk at sexual abuse victims advocacy, is either because they are 
  1. Ignorant to the issue (assumed that pastoral touching, groping and sexual innuendo was appropriate talk and behavior among "saints" and "friends"...sad but true)
  2. Think that those who confess to victimization only want the churches money...
  3. They have no or very little empathy for the victims even claiming that the victim is to blame for the crime and disunity of the church. (we will see that in the testimony below)
  4. Believe that sexual abuse cannot possibly happen to a grown person 
  5. Have either committed the sin and crime of sexual abuse themselves or
  6. Are minimizing the issue, covering for a "friend" or "associate" aka: "good people" or a person who has committed the same or similar sins...
Unfortunately, some of my associates within the Grand Ole Church are no less in their understanding and application of victims advocacy. It seems that I have had to spend a considerable amount of time trying to convince individuals (in spite of what they already know) of the lack of effort that our church has made in creating an atmosphere where those who have been victimized by those within the church are truly ministered to, respected, appreciated and ultimately healed by a TRUE and REAL commitment to righteousness through the process of victims advocacy.
EMERGENCY INTERRUPTION: IF you are a COGIC member and have been victimized by any COGIC member or official,  secure legal council  prior to subjecting one's self to the COGIC Sexual Misconduct Policy or signing most disclaimers associated with said policy, including the "confidentiality agreement" and the "evidence retention" agreement as outlined and "suggested" within the policy. I will have further details in a future writing, but the current policy DOES NOT provide adequate provisions in favor of victims of sexual abuse.  
Call I Am My Brother's Keeper Christian Advocacy Council at (800)827-7279 or email us at Imbkcac@gmail.com to find out what you can do to receive the desired results and resolution for your situation. 
Smoke & Mirrors 

What many of the critics and "business as usual" clergy don't understand, is that covering the truth of how victims are treated and how current COGIC policies are either nonexistent or at the very least ineffectual in bringing healing to victims seems to be not only based on slight of hand, smoke and mirrors, but also on a church version of the "shell game" where people are actually told what to believe all within an environment where absence of action happen so fast that it is often overwhelming and discouraging. I know it seems a contradiction for "nothing to happen fast", but this is an adequate description of what one can expect from current church policy in favor of victims, on these issues. 

In contrast, my efforts in bringing these issue to light and perseverance in doing so, along with the ability of presenting a verifiable record of such activity, is spawn by nothing other than the sense of the CALLING OF GOD, even in the face of opposition, misrepresentation, labeling and blackballing. The servants of God are indebted to God more-so than any man. Abiding in our calling gives us strength because if God be for us, WHO can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)

"A Man's World" 

In 1966 "The Godfather Of Soul", James Brown, along with Betty J. Newsome sung a song called "This Is A Man's World". In the first set of lyrics he sung:
The Late James Brown
"The Godfather Of Soul"

"This is a man's world

This is a man's world

But it would be nothing

Nothing without a woman or a girl"
Contrary to what many have been led to believe, the song was actually designed to suggest that women were essential and necessary in this world in order for their to be true and real peace and happiness. In other words the song had nothing to do with male superiority, but it had everything to do with acknowledging the beauty and creativity of women. This song was a surprise at the time when male chauvinism was at an all time American high. 

I was recently asked to cite instances of what I call "COGIC Silence" in dealing with clergy sexual abuse and misconduct. I received the following email in response to my article COGIC Issues Pt. 3...Clergy Sexual Sins 2012 Edition. What you are about to read is not a play by play recollection of this persons situation, but it is a summary of what a person experienced by way of what I have called "COGIC Silence" on the issue of sexual abuse. This is totally unsolicited and I have withheld the name and the contact information of the person making the claim to protect their privacy.

Critics...read this person's testimony and chew on it for a minute and ask yourself, can you make an excuse for such behavior?  

The message received:
"This article hit home for me. I am a former COGIC member. I am healed in Jesus'name form the victimization that occurred at the hands of my then pastor who was also a state trooper at the time, the district superintendent who covered for him, my then Jurisdictional Prelate C.Sexton, who tried to help me but was ill, Bishop Chandler Owens who I personally spoke with and was useless, and his wonderful secretary who said, 
"these things happen sometimes honey, this is a man's church and a man's world." 
I didn't know which way to turn, my husband and I were devastated. This man had raped me twice. I begged him to stop. I had just given birth to child after the second time. I was recovering. Literally. I went to the police. I filed a report, the church told me that me and my entire family were going to be damned to hell and that I am not allowed to take time to court because he is my brother and I would be interfering with the call of God on his life and I would be punished. I to this day have not been inside of a COGIC church. I just can't. I realized from reading this article, just how deep this issue still is. My husband and I were told that GOD would never use people like us because we were weak and could not move on. 
Well it has been 17 years now and because COGIC practices stuffing and not dealing, and told us to move on, and assigned spies to us, and told us not to go to counseling lest certain information be leaked, and the spies they assigned to us would take us out weekly to see what "our frame of mind" was, all while the state police were leaning on us to go forward with the charges since they could only get him administratively with their internal investigation, (and they did). It was a lot and we had no support, no one to talk to, the ministry team was forbidden to talk to us. 
We were members, but shunned. And I didn't sign on for that. I was told that my breasts, body shape, and my bedroom eyes were the cause. So I wore long flowy baggy clothes, traded my contacts for glasses, and tried to fly under the radar for years. My husband was mortified because I was terrified of even him. I was depressed for years. But GOD...He had a plan and was faithful to keep toward completing the good work He had begun in me. It is hard some days to trust or even be around men, but I am confident that complete deliverance can be had and will be. I realize I have been holding myself hostage with feelings, not the fact that God has me in His hands.
Keep up the good work. It is good to know that someone is calling them to accountability."
Many of you know the name of the person referenced in this testimony. It is associated with the Brooklyn, New York area. The writer states that this crime happened over 17 years ago and the former Presiding Bishop, The Late Chandler Owens was aware of the situation, but failed to act. 

All of this seem to be contrary to the COGIC position which is specified in the 2009 Holy Convocation 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]
As my son and daughter would say...REALLY????....

I won't go into further details, I've already made the case plain in my article "Image, Assets & Liability Pt. 3...The COGIC Shuffle" but I will say this please don't play on my intelligence any longer... I can manage to lay hand on any number of instances where the integrity of one has been at least seriously called into question. One such case is referenced above. There are many instances of which our leadership has been made aware that simply have not been "processed" as the current Chief lawyer asserts.

Call To A Higher Standard

Simply put, WE must have a much higher standard of doing what is right especially on behalf of all of them who have suffered damage. to overlook their plight is simply and plainly UNGODLY and unbiblical. It may be apropos to the day in which we live, but it does not satisfy any sense of biblical morality nor does looking the other way or making excuses based on money and claims potential resemble Christ in any manner. 

What You Can Do If You Have Suffered?

As referenced above call I am My Brother's Keeper Christian Advocacy Council (IMBKCAC) at (800)827-7279 or email us at Imbkcac@gmail.com if you feel that you have suffered from clergy sexual misconduct or any form of church abuse. IMBKCAC does not only seek to hold COGIC accountable, but we seek to serve the body of Christ. We are not here to pick on any one organization either. No matter what church you are a part of, you are welcome to call us for help and assistance and for a confidential interview and review of your situation.

Remember, an ancient Chinese proverb states that the longest journey begin with just ONE step. Take that step into your freedom and deliverance today, and you won't be alone!!!!!


Read & Listen: Fear To VICTORY Overcoming COGIC Clergy Sexual Abuse & Silence  

Remove the statute of limitations and change the behavior of institutions:
Task Force Report Fails to Address Statute of Limitations Reform

Jeff Anderson & Associates
Jeffrey R. Anderson 
Today, the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, formed in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky at Penn State University, issued its long-awaited report and recommendations. The Pennsylvania General Assembly authorized the Task Force to examine and evaluate state laws and procedures concerning child protection and reporting child abuse. The Task Force recommended comprehensive changes in the mandatory reporter law, including an increased focus on training and education. The Task Force’s recommendations, however, do not go far enough. We need to change the culture in our institutions, both public and private, to focus on the protection of children over the protection of image and reputation. We must do so not only through education but also accountability. 
The Task Force’s emphasis on education must not be discounted but it is only a half-measure. Education and training must be coupled with another major component of child protection, the repeal of the statute of limitations. The majority of sexual abuse crimes go unreported. This unique reality of the crime of sexual abuse must be recognized. Recognizing that victims of child sexual abuse do not come forward immediately, the statutes of limitations must be abolished. We must provide survivors with the means to seek accountability, both through criminal and civil processes. This step requires the elimination of the statute of limitations, so that survivors have a path to justice. If survivors are given the opportunity to hold predators and those that protect them accountable in both the court systems and the court of public opinion, we will see real change in institutional behavior.

Posted by Kathy Shaw 

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