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Earl Paulk is pastor of Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
The following is a CNN, Paul Zahn report broadcast on Jan. 19, 2006:
Accusations of sexual misconduct have followed Bishop Earl Paulk Jr. and his Atlanta-based ministry for years, ever since he was accused of adultery in 1960. But Paulk always bounced back, denying the charges and sometimes taking legal action against his accusers.
Most pastors in the Atlanta area kept quiet, and national Christian leaders didn’t get involved in what they viewed as a local problem. No church court investigated the charges, mainly because Paulk’s ministry has been independent of denominational accountability since he left the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) more than 40 years ago.
But bishops in a loosely controlled network Paulk has led since 1982, the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (ICCC), asked Paulk to step down from his post as archbishop last month. And earlier this week a group of pastors in the Atlanta area broke their silence by issuing a statement of apology for alleged abuses of power at Paulk’s church.
The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in suburban Atlanta (also called The Cathedral at Chapel Hill) is known for its racial diversity, creative arts programs and massive, neo-Gothic sanctuary where Paulk blended charismatic and liturgical worship styles. The congregation was on its way to becoming the city’s most prominent charismatic church.
But in 1992 a church member went public with accusations that she was pressured into a sexual relationship with Paulk’s brother, Don Paulk, who served as senior pastor. He admitted an affair and resigned but was reinstated three weeks later. The same year several women alleged that a church staff member sexually harassed them during counseling sessions. Another female staff member claimed in 1993 that she had a sexual relationship with Earl Paulk Jr.
In 2001, yet another female church member filed a lawsuit claiming that the bishop sexually molested her when she was a child and later when she was a teenager. That suit was settled out of court in 2003.
The church continued its ministry, although in 1992 membership dropped by half, from 12,000 to 6,000. Paulk denied wrongdoing and refused to grant media interviews, but he continued to lead the ICCC until last month.
Today the 78-year-old pastor faces what could be the most difficult test of his career. A former parishioner, Mona Brewer, has alleged in a lawsuit filed in August that Paulk forced her to have sex with him and others—including visiting charismatic preachers.
Bradley White, 49, pastor of City Harvest Worship Center, and Johnny Enlow, 46, pastor of Daystar International Christian Fellowship are two of the ministers rallying Atlanta pastors around a statement of apology. They helped form a group called Christians Who Care and are enlisting church leaders to speak out.
The statement apologizes to women who were “betrayed, victimized, abused and wounded by sexually inappropriate actions” and states: “We repent for being afraid to get involved in helping bring the truth of what has been happening for a long time into the light while the media exposed and mocked what should have been handled by the authority of Christ in the church.”
Enlow says he speaks for a growing number of pastors who are signing the statement. “Christian leaders who see unrighteousness done in the name of Christ simply cannot sit back and say nothing,” Enlow says.
- Source: Ashamed and Outraged in Atlanta, Charisma Online, Nov. 4, 2005
Bishop Earl Paulk of the Chapel Hill Harvester megachurch and a former church employee are embroiled in a legal battle over her claims that Paulk coerced her to have sex with him and others by claiming it was God's will.
Paulk filed papers Thursday in DeKalb Superior Court answering a lawsuit filed Aug. 31 by Mona Brewer and her husband, Bobby Brewer. Paulk denied their allegations and countersued them for libel and slander, saying they lied about him in their lawsuit and in statements to others.
The only point not in dispute is that Paulk acted as Mona Brewer's spiritual adviser as well as her employer at the church in south DeKalb. Mona Brewer claims that Paulk began a "pattern of conduct" around 1989 that eventually led her "to believe that her only route to salvation was to engage in sexual acts at the request of Bishop Earl Paulk."
Brewer's lawsuit said Paulk required her to have sex with him, "other members of the church community ... [and] leaders of other churches as well as his family members, sometimes with other individuals observing the sexual acts."- Source: Lawsuit says minister swapped salvation for sex, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA, Sep. 24, 2005
Paulk "vehemently and rigorously denies" the charges in the lawsuit, which his defense team contends Brewer made only after Paulk refused to give her money and property to keep quiet. Paulk has admitted to his congregation that 10 years ago he "succumbed to Brewer's advances on two or three occasions," but claims that ended their sexual involvement.
The unsavory tale may get much worse. The discovery process in the case—which attorneys say may not go to trial for several months—is exploring reports that Paulk has fathered a number of children with women in his congregation, and Brewer's attorney has filed a motion for DNA evidence.
- Source: James Jewell, A Corrupt Salvation, Christianity Today, Feb. 8, 2006
The lawsuit will be heard in March or April, 2007.
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