Monday, March 24, 2014

Charismatic pastor drops dead immediately after confessing marital infidelity

A bishop then must be blameless... I Timothy 3:1a

Confession may be good for the soul, but may also be fatal to the body, at least in the case of the late Bishop Bobby Davis. As reported by Daniel Tepfer of the Connecticut Post, Bridgeport, March 13, 2014:

BRIDGEPORT -- A congregation loudly confronted its longtime pastor about his alleged infidelity -- and in the midst of their yelling, the pastor dropped dead.

That's what happened Sunday at the Miracle Faith World Outreach Church, according to members of the congregation and police sources.

Bishop Bobby Davis, pastor of the Harriet Street church since its founding in 1967, was pronounced dead at Bridgeport Hospital.

"After the service on Sunday the bishop's family asked us to remain in the church and the bishop confessed to us something that happened long ago," said Judy Stovall, an elder at the church. "He wanted to come clean with all of us. He wanted to ask our forgiveness."

Members of the congregation were very vocal with Davis just before he passed out, but they were shouting support for him, Stovall said.

"We were shouting, `We forgive you, we love you,' but the stress of all of it -- he had a heart attack," Stovall said. "I held his head as he lay on the floor," she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "Our congregation is hurting now."

The cause of death is pending further review, according to the Office of the State Medical Examiner.

Police spokesman William Kaempffer would only confirm that a detective has been assigned to the case. "The circumstances are under investigation," he said.

Stovall conceded that the shouts from the congregants did get loud. A woman, who wouldn't give her name, said she had been outside the church at the time and heard yelling coming from inside, but didn't know what was being said.

Davis founded the church with his wife, Christine. The couple, of Monroe, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last June.

According to a church biography, the couple initially held prayer meetings in the home of Christine Davis' mother in Stamford. In 1987 they moved to the Harriet Street building and in 1998 they opened a new church facility at 754 Main St. in Monroe.

That building is no longer in use for church services, parishioners said.

Bishop Davis graduated from the Vision Christian College of Ramona, Calif., with a doctorate degree in ministry and a master's degree in theological studies. He was is a certified marriage and family therapist.
Bishop Davis's public confession may not have been as voluntary as it seemed, as reported by Leonardo Blair of the Christian Post, March 13, 2014:

...One source, who asked not to be identified during an interview with The Christian Post on Thursday, said the confession wasn't that clean-cut based on what they were told, and feels the situation could have been handled better.

"He (Bishop Davis) had confessed it (infidelity) personally to his wife prior to the service, and she called a meeting after church with just the members and the members stayed. He wasn't there at the time, he was somewhere else apparently, neither of them were in the service that morning. They had one of their pastors do the service," explained the source.

"From what I was told, she (pastor's wife) told the congregation what he had done. And so, when he comes through the door he had no idea what he was walking into. So it wasn't even. 'We're gonna make an announcement today' ... in a unified way as a couple," the source continued.

"I'm told that when he walked through the door she basically told him, 'Tell them what you just told me,' which is what induced the heart attack, because it's not like he was walking into it knowing," the source explained.

"She said it and he said, 'Yes, that's right.' She asked him to say who exactly it was. And he said, 'Well, it doesn't matter [because] that person has passed. God forgive, let's get past it.' Apparently it was his family members who reacted out in anger, from what I understand. It was not the congregation," the source noted.

"It got physical. One of the sons attacked him. I was told one of the daughters poured water on him. It was like something out of, not even like the Old Testament, but a bad reality TV show," said the source. "My heart is so devastated because it could have been handled in a private manner."

The source, whom Bishop Davis once pastored, said his confession must have been difficult for the family to handle because he was "a very black and white preacher."

"There was this expectation for us growing up as kids. If we fell short we should be able to know that, as our church family, we can confess it in public and kind of move on from there," noted the source.

CP reached out to the Bridgeport Police for an official account of what happened on Sunday and spokesman William Kaempffer said they responded to a medical call at the church on Sunday.

"A detective was assigned to the case. Over the last two days dozens upon dozens of people have been interviewed. Detectives were able to review video from inside the church that was taken by a member of the church. And based on what we observed, there is no criminal aspect to it. This was a medical call and the case is closed," he said.

When asked about the cause of death, Kaempffer responded: "You would have to call the medical examiner for that. That is what it appears to be, but we are not doctors."

Bishop Davis and his wife told the New York Times in 1999 that it was a miracle that inspired the start of their church in 1967 after Mrs. Davis' mother was cured of cancer following prayer meetings at her home.
Bishop Davis's alma mater, Vision Christian College, is affiliated with Vision International College, founded in Tasmania in 1974 by Ken Chant, brother of well-known Australian charismatic leader Barry Chant. The college operates Internet Bible College.

The perceptive reader will note that Miracle Faith World Outreach Church has at least one female elder, an unscriptural practice common among charismatic churches. However, this is the first time I've ever seen a pastor's wife referred to as a church's "First Lady." One might also wonder why a church that goes by the name of Miracle Faith World Outreach Church wasn't able to summon a miracle and raise Bishop Davis back to life.

March 29, 2014 update: It seems that I'm not as up to date as I should be. The Praise Centre, a Pentecostal church in Maple, Ontario (Greater Toronto Area) has Michelle E. Meredith, the pastor's wife, listed as "First Lady"--a position not found anywhere in the Bible. I don't know if this is now a common practice in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, or just among churches of that ilk that are led by people of a certain race.

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