The Church of God in Christ has suspended Fort Worth Pastor Sherman Allen "from all national and local pastoral roles and activities" within the denomination. The Church of God in Christ is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, as well as the fourth-largest Christian church organization in the country, with some 6 million members.
Unfair Park requested a statement from COGIC after hearing that Allen -- pastor of Shiloh Institutional Church of God in Christ, a prominent Pentecostal speaker and a frequent subject of Bible Girl columns -- had been suspended by COGIC's presiding bishop, Charles E. Blake of Los Angeles. This afternoon, Alayna Adams, spokeswoman for the Memphis-based COGIC, issued this statement on behalf of the Office of the Presiding Bishop:
"The Church of God in Christ does not condone any inappropriate behavior from any of its representatives, and does not comment on pending litigation against the Church or its representatives until a case has been brought to trial and an official ruling has been made. Until then, Pastor Sherman Allen has been suspended from all national and local pastoral roles and activities within the Church of God in Christ. This is Church policy and we will honor this policy for the case against Allen."
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Allen has been sued by 33-year-old Davina Kelly of Fort Worth, a former member of Shiloh who claims Allen coerced her into a sexual relationship under the guise of counseling; repeatedly beat her with a wooden paddle as a form of spiritual chastisement, causing bruising and bleeding; and sexually assaulted her. Allen has denied all of the allegations in a court filing. Since the Kelly case was filed, several other women have made similar allegations.
One of these women accused Allen of raping her anally and vaginally with a three-foot club in a 1983 case that resulted in a criminal charge of aggravated sexual abuse. The charge was later dropped; the woman claims it was because Allen threatened to do the same thing to her daughter, and she subsequently stopped cooperating with prosecutors. For earlier stories on the Allen case, see here, here and here.
Is Allen complying with the suspension? That's an open question. Neither he nor his church are commenting, but several sources on this blog and elsewhere say that while Allen is no longer preaching -- he reportedly stopped in early April -- he is still laying hands on people for prayer and giving prophetic "words" during Shiloh church services. I guess it depends on how you interpret the phrase "all national and local pastoral roles and activities within the Church of God in Christ."
Allen held a national role within the Church of God in Christ as a vice president of the denomination's International Department of Evangelism. He also spoke frequently in prominent COGIC churches, including Bishop Blake's West Angeles Church of God in Christ. --Julie Lyons