The Newcastle hearings – updated*


The Australian reports…

“The Anglican Archbishop of Perth has told a royal commission he was repeatedly warned that senior priests might be sexually abusing children, yet did not report this to the police, potentially leaving other youngsters at risk.

Archbishop Roger Herft told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child ­Sexual Abuse yesterday that evidence he had previously given under oath denying any knowledge of one of those alleged child abusers was “incorrect”.

His frank admissions, which relate to his time as bishop of Newcastle in NSW during the 1990s and early 2000s, have raised questions about whether he will continue as head of the church in Western Australia.

The administrator of the Perth diocese, Braden Short, yesterday told The Australian the archbishop was on leave until ­October, but was expected to make a public statement when he finished giving evidence to the ­commission.

“He’s our archbishop and will remain archbishop until such time as he decides to do otherwise,” Archdeacon Short said.

A spokesman for Archbishop Philip Freier, the national primate, said he would wait for the commission to report before making any comment on ­whether Archbishop Herft should return to his position.

Under questioning at the commission yesterday, Archbishop Herft accepted that the evidence showed he was told on three occasions during the late 1990s that the Newcastle Cathedral dean, Graeme Lawrence, was a sexual abuser, including of children.

Archbishop Herft accepted the evidence showed he asked Mr Lawrence about each of the allegations and that the dean denied them, although no records of the conversations existed. The archbishop said he had no memory of the conversations about or with Mr Lawrence taking place.

His testimony yesterday contrasted with evidence given under oath during a previous royal commission hearing in 2013. “When I became bishop of Newcastle in 1993 through to 2005, no one ever raised with me either directly or indirectly any matter that would have brought concern to me regarding the behaviour or otherwise of the dean of Newcastle,” Archbishop Herft said at the time.

“That particular statement of mine is not correct,” he told the commission yesterday.

The archbishop said he did not pass to police the allegations against Mr Lawrence, though the dean was also the chaplain of a local school at the time.

Documents before the commission show Archbishop Herft told a 2010 internal church ­investigation that children “would have been at risk even if there was a slightest tinge of ­evidence linking Reverend Graeme Lawrence to the abuse of ­minors”.

Commission chair Peter McLellan asked yesterday: “At the levels of recording and dealing with the problem, you failed didn’t you?” “Yes,” replied Archbishop Herft.

The commission heard he was warned three times between 1998 and 2003 that another priest, the late Peter Rushton, had child pornography and might be a sexual offender. No report was passed to police.

“Looking back on the whole matter, given what I now know about the horrific abuse perpetrated by Peter Rushton, there would have been … alarm bells ringing that he be brought to the attention of the police,” said the archbishop. “Do you accept ­responsibility for the fact it was not reported to the police?” asked counsel assisting the commission Naomi Sharp. “Yes I do,” he replied.

Ms Sharp questioned the archbishop over another report he received during the 1990s ­alleging that young people staying overnight with a Newcastle priest could be at risk.

“Did you take any steps to follow that up?” she asked. “No I did not,” Archbishop Herft replied.

“Is it possible that it left in the diocese a person who was a risk to children?” Ms Sharp asked “Yes it did,” he replied.

In 1998, the diocese received a report alleging the priest had ­assaulted an altar girl, the commission heard.

During his time in the Newcastle diocese, Archbishop Herft said, some allegations of abuse by priests were passed to police, although he could not say how many.

He said his understanding of the issue also changed over time, and the commission heard that in 2004 at least two allegations of sexual crimes by priests were referred to the authorities.

Archbishop Herft left the diocese for Perth the following year.”



Will Detroit pastor hump Trump?



CBN News reports…

“Donald Trump is about to take a double dip as he attempts to appeal to a predominately African-American audience on christian television. This coming Saturday he’ll head to Detroit and will speak at The Impact Network, “the only African American owned and operated national Christian television network in the country.” Here’s the statement from Pastor Mark Burns who has been one of Trump’s most vocal African-American supporters:

“With much anticipation and excitement, I’m pleased to announce that Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump will be speaking at the only African American owned and operated national Christian television network, The Impact Network, Saturday, September 3rd, at 11am. Impact Network President and CEO, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, will interview Mr. Trump at Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, Michigan.”

“Mr. Trump will answer questions that are relevant to the African American community such as education (including HBCUs), unemployment, making our streets safe and creating better opportunities for all. He will then give an address to outline policies that will impact minorities and the disenfranchised in our country. Citizens around the country will see, as I’ve have seen, the heart and compassion Mr. Trump has for all Americans, which includes minority communities whose votes have been taken for granted for far too long.”

If you haven’t heard of The Impact Network, it is billed as, “one of the fastest growing faith-based television networks in existence…reaches over 50 Million homes and is currently being carried by DirectTV, Dish Network Channel and Roku.”

Maybe it’s appropriate that Trump will be interviewed by Bishop Wayne T. Jackson because he hosts the show, “Miracles Do Happen” and boy, oh boy, is it a miracle that Trump is the GOP presidential nominee. The Impact Network website describes Bishop Jackson as a “tenacious and charismatic individual whose accomplishments have not only touched the spiritual sector, but has made significant impact in both the political and business arenas…Politically, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson has been a trusted spiritual advisor and a frequent guest to the White House for over the past two decades.”

As for any hint of controversy, the Christian Post ran a story four years ago with the headline, “Bishop takes heat for unusual ceremony.” Read an excerpt of the article below.

A bishop in the US has is facing criticism after a video appeared of him laying on top of two men as part of an unusual consecration ceremony.

Bishop Wayne T Jackson, of Impact Ministries, says the ritual has been taken out of context and is nothing more than a covering of prayer.

The video appeared on YouTube and provoked accusations of sexual perversion, according to the Detroit News.

In it, Bishop Jackson appears dressed in red and white robes as lays face down on top of the two men, who are shrouded in robes on the floor.

The bishop says there was nothing sexual about the act and that people who think otherwise have “nasty minds”.

The father of nine told The News: “I have done nothing wrong. This was done in front of a thousand people….”



Thief pastor caught red-handed – updated*


CBS New York reports…

“Chaos erupted at an Upper East Side church on Sunday over its troubled pastor.

CBS2’s Steve Langford exclusively reported Rock Church Pastor Daniel Iampaglia appeared to grab the results of the latest election of the Board of Trustees out of the hands of a church official who was attempting to read them during the Sunday service.

“I’m the pastor, whether you like it or not,” Iampaglia said.

The official shot back, “Don’t you threaten me, don’t you threaten me, Mr. Iampaglia. Get outta here.”

It is the latest outbreak of anarchy at the church. In early January, the bitterly divided congregation descended into bedlam during a religious service.

One faction of the faithful wants to fire the pastor, especially after producing a video of Iampaglia allegedly stealing money from the collection drawer. The pastor was arraigned on petit larceny charges, which were later dismissed, church members said.

The conflict over who should control Rock Church is also being played out in court as a judge urged the congregation to come together to save their church.

“The board does have to come to a decision eventually how to move forward with this, whether or not the pastor should remain here or whether he doesn’t,” said church member Prasanth Venigalla.

A temporary restraining order preventing the church from firing the pastor is still in effect.”


Pastor accused of toddler murder


WDTN reports…

“A local pastor was indicted Friday on several counts including murder and reckless homicide by a Montgomery County grand jury.

The grand jury handed down an eight-count indictment against Torace D. Weaver Friday.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office tells 2 NEWS Weaver is a pastor at King of Glory Ministries on Genesee Avenue in Dayton.

Weaver is accused in the death of 2-year-old Stanley Thomas in November 2015. On Sunday, November 18, 2015, first responders were called to the King of Glory Church on Genesee Avenue in Dayton on a report of a toddler not breathing.

Thomas was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital and was dead on arrival, according to the Prosecutor’s Office. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office says Thomas died from blunt force trauma to the head and ruled the death a homicide.

Prosecutors say Weaver, who was the foster father of Thomas, said at the time the child had fallen from a table.

The indictment includes:

  • Two counts of Murder
  • Two counts of Endangering Children
  • One count of Involuntary Manslaughter
  • One count of Reckless Homicide
  • One count of Felonious Assault
  • One count of Obstructing Official Business”


Mark Driscoll lawsuit – updated*


The Seattle Times reports…

“As a judge dismisses the racketeering lawsuit against former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, a former executive elder says he’s willing to answer questions about the church’s financial dealings.

In February, four former members of Mars Hill Church filed a racketeering lawsuit against Pastor Mark Driscoll, claiming misuse of thousands if not millions of dollars in donations.

But the four plaintiffs didn’t have money to pursue the suit and never served Driscoll or onetime Mars Hill executive elder Sutton Turner, also named as a defendant, with the necessary papers.

Consequently, on Thursday, a judge dismissed the suit.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart declined, however, to sanction the former church members, as requested by Turner. “The plaintiffs have not acted in bad faith, recklessly, or with an improper purpose,” wrote Robart, who also noted their complaint “is not frivolous on its face.”

The judge also left the door open for the plaintiffs to file the lawsuit again. “We hope to,” said Brian Jacobsen, although he and his fellow plaintiffs are still looking for money to pay legal fees already incurred.

He said the former church members were counting on publicity about the suit to bring in donations. “Some did come in, but not enough.”

Driscoll, who has started a new church on the outskirts of Phoenix, could not be reached for comment.

“It’s time to move on,” said Turner from his new home in San Antonio, calling the implosion of Mars Hill and the bitter aftermath “the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through.”

Still, he said, he wanted to meet with the plaintiffs and planned to travel next month to Seattle in hopes of doing so. Turner said he would answer whatever questions the former members had, including about financial matters.

He added he has faced resistance about revealing such information. “I was threatened by an attorney representing Mars Hill,” he said. The attorney, whom he declined to name, told him that releasing inside data “would be a big mistake.”

“I don’t know anything about that,” said Ronald Friedman, who represents Mars Hill in its ongoing legal dissolution.

In any case, Turner said he felt free to talk now that the racketeering lawsuit had been dissolved.

“We’re considering that,” Jacobsen said of the offer to meet.”


The comfy chair


The Telegraph reports…

When the Spanish Inquisition, as reimagined by Monty Python’s Flying Circus, wanted to torture their victims into confessing to heresy there was only one thing for it: to fetch the comfy chair.

Now the use of comfortable seating has become a test of orthodoxy in real life after an ecclesiastical court banned the use of padded chairs in a church on the grounds that they were verging on the ungodly.

In a formal judgment, the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Coventry, ruled that the use of upholstery in a historic place of worship could be “overly casual” and “incompatible with a house of God”.

Parishioners in the 12th Century Holy Trinity Church in the village of Long Itchington, Warwickshire, applied for a special permission – or faculty – to replace their woodworm-infested Victorian pews in order to open up the building for children’s groups and other uses.

The judge, the Chancellor of the diocese, Stephen Eyre QC, agreed with a plan to replace them with stackable chairs, ruling that the pews were of “little merit” historically.

But he ordered that any replacement must not be upholstered after heritage groups including the Victorian Society and Historic England objected, arguing that the planned cushioned seating was “unworthy” for the historic building.

Leading parishioners in the church had planned to buy a new set of chairs similar to those used in neighbouring parishes and even in Lambeth Palace.

They chose wooden chairs with a burgundy coloured built-in cushion, explaining that it would help make the building “warm and welcoming”.

But after receiving objections, Mr Eyre ruled that wooden seats should be comfortable enough, adding that padding could look “shabby”.

And he claimed that, far from being welcoming to visitors, soft chairs might even put people off.

“I accept that the interior appearance of a church should if at all possible not be off-putting to those new to it,” he said.

“However, it is to be remembered that an overly casual appearance can be incompatible with a house of God and can be as unattractive to newcomers as an appearance of excessive rigour.

“An emphasis on quality and seemliness is not only appropriate in buildings dedicated to the Glory of God but is also part of what attracts those new to the Church.

“When considering comfort I must give considerable weight to the expert advice that properly designed unupholstered chairs can be as comfortable as those which are upholstered.”

But Maureen Mitchell, the church warden, said: “Many of the congregation are elderly and they are entitled to comfort now and again.”

She explained that the church, which does not have a separate hall, is regularly used for community events, fundraising and special informal children’s services all of which require hauling the heavy pews out of the way.

“When you go to the other churches in this area they have all got them … but the Victorian Society have put their oar in and said no,” she said.

“This is going to knock us right back, where at the moment we are a growing church.

“The pews are in a terrible state, they have to be moved which is difficult and they are falling apart.

“We have got two [wooden] chairs in the church at the moment on loan which the congregation are testing to see which they prefer.

“We are getting mixed reviews on both of them, I think they’ve all got their heart set on these padded chairs and now we can’t have them.”

She explained that the two church wardens had been left to manage the complicated application process as the parish currently has no vicar after the previous incumbent retired more than a year ago.

“We have been doing this [process] now for two years, it has been a bit of a nightmare,” she said.

“Apparently they’re not going to allow any church now to have padded seats, at least that’s what they’ve said to us.

“Certainly within the diocese that’s what we have been led to believe – no more padded chairs.”

An official in the diocese said that while there was no blanket ban, the use of upholstered chairs in historic churches would be discouraged.”