Thousands question 63-year-old bishop’s marriage to teenage girl in his church

0

Thousands of people are demanding an investigation into a bishop of the Pentecostal Church of Iowa who married a teenage girl from his church.

An outside clergyman accuses the bishop of ‘flagrant abuse of power’ and ‘grooming’ for years of an underage worshipper. And some of the teenager’s family and other church members also say they fear she is a victim of clergy abuse.

Bishop Dwight Reed, 63, leads Apostolic Temple of Christ in Des Moines, which he says is the largest predominantly African-American church in Iowa. Last year, on Nov. 15, Reed married 19-year-old Jordan Goodlett, a longtime church member and alumnus of church-affiliated JW Reed Academy.

The couple’s 43-year age difference has raised concerns about clergy abuse. Her paternal grandfather, James Belcher, condemned the marriage on April 6 interview.

“Her father sold his daughter and pimped her for his own gain,” Belcher said in the recording.

Donate $30 or more to The Roys Report this month and you’ll receive a copy of “Safe Churches: Responding to Abuse in the Faith Community.” To donate, click here.

A Texas clergyman who reviewed the complaints against Reed also said Reed’s marriage was a “gross abuse of power.”

Demetrius Sinegal, a Texas clergyman who leads Safehouse unmuzzled, has publicly criticized Reed since mid-March. Goodlett “grew like a child in his pastoral care,” Sinegal said in an April 8 Press release of the church’s abuse victims advocacy group. “We reject the notion of independent consent from an adolescent who was until now in a fiduciary relationship between the pastor and a faithful child/adolescent.”

Demetrius Sinegal (courtesy photo)

The Sinegal group started a petition on March 14 calling for Reed to be investigated. After the Monks Register reported on the petition in early April, it grew to more than 6,700 signatures.

“More than 50 pastors, mental health workers, researchers, professors and other community leaders have publicly given their names in support and solidarity with our call for an investigation,” Sinegal said. The Roys Report in an email.

Reed and his church are now suing Sinegal, alleging defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeking $1.5 million in damages.

Sinegal, who lives near Houston, said The Roys Report that it was not formally signified with the suit. He added that he thought the court would consider it frivolous.

The church claims in the lawsuit that Reed’s leadership over the church does not extend to its affiliated school.

“Bishop Reed is not the dean of the school and he is not involved in day-to-day operations,” the suit reads.

But Reed was listed in a September 2021 Facebook post as dean of the school. (UPDATE: Although this post was deleted a few hours after this story was published, a screenshot of the post can be seen below.)

dwight reed academy teen wedding
In a social post dated September 2, 2021, Dwight Reed is listed as the “dean” of JW Reed Christian Academy, which is housed at Christ Apostolic Temple in Des Moines, Iowa (Screenshot/Facebook)

Reed’s attorney, Jim Quilty, said in a statement to The Roys Report that Reed “was never the dean of the school and that the reference to the website was made in error”.

Christ Apostolic Temple and its attorney did not immediately respond to other requests.

A press conference triggers a new conflict

The Texas minister says the lawsuit hasn’t deterred him.

“Every statement I’ve made is the result of belief based on testimonials and evidence,” Sinegal said.

Last week, Sinegal organized a press conference in Des Moines linked to the “Investigate Dwight Reed” initiative of his group, local subsidiary of Fox KDSM reported.

“This marriage tears at the very fiber of the social construction of the African-American family. Children learn to respect their contemporary grandparents, not marry them,” Sinegal said at the press conference.

According to information provided by Sinegal, he also filed a report with the Des Moines Police Department last Wednesday, alleging that Reed harassed him and made terrorist threats against him.

On Monday, the Apostolic Christ responded in a Press release posted on Facebook, alleging that Sinegal promotes a “desire for financial gain”.

Reed’s church also questioned the legitimacy of Safehouse Unmuzzled, which was formed last year and is not listed as a tax-exempt entity in Texas.

The Sinegal group noted in a Facebook post that he has spent more than $7,400 on the Reed investigation so far, including travel costs, and has only received $30 in donations. sinegal said The Roys Report that the paperwork for tax-exempt status is underway with Texas officials.

“For clarity, Safehouse #Unmuzzled does not empower me to plead or cry out against clergy gross misconduct and predatory clergy sexual abuse,” Sinegal added. “This authority comes from the scriptures and from God himself.”

dwight reed wedding
Dwight Reed Apostolic Temple of Christ

Other allegations against Sinegal relate to his congregation, The Kingdom Church in the Houston area. Sinegal, who led that church for six years, said his involvement in victim advocacy is separate from his pastoral duties.

Both Reed and Sinegal are affiliated with the Pentecostal Apostolic Unity tradition, which views the Godhead as indivisible, rather than three separate persons as stated in orthodox Protestantism. doctrinal beliefs. Many evangelicals consider the doctrine of unity to be heresy.

The Christ Apostolic Temple in Des Moines also serves as the flagship church of a small denominational church camaraderie with an unknown number of affiliated churches.

Reed has mentioned the controversy over her marriage several times in her church. In a Speech of March 20, he alluded to Iowa state law, which allows marriage without parental consent at age 18. “It’s my wife!” Reed exclaimed. “And she grew up! She didn’t need anyone to sign any papers for her.

In a online debate of the survey, Sinegal compared Safehouse Unmuzzled’s victim advocacy work to the ministry of biblical prophets.

“We see that their voices and their influence have been used to raise the voices of oppressed and marginalized people,” Sinegal said. “God is interested in the safety and fair experiences of his people.

“What we see in the church today are great attempts by the powers that be within the church to muzzle, repress and minimize the voices of those who have suffered abuse and injustice at the hands of the mighty.”

This story has been updated regarding the removal of a social media post.

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writing on faith, culture and public policy for several media electrical outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, DC area with their two children.

Share.

Comments are closed.