Reply To: Topix 2007-2009, Discussing: Financial Violations and Abuse at The Brooklyn Tabernacle

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Comments #128-#131

“1 Corinthians 5:12 Reads,” I’m not responsible for what outsiders do, but don’t we have a responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and if necessary, clean house.”
Through out history, men and women have raised their voices to speak out against all kinds of injustice, Because of their efforts, slaves were set free, the horrors of the concentration camps were exposed and lives were spared. To accomplish this, some wrote articles using fictitious names to draw attention to the cause (i.e. people involved in the underground rail road); others spoke out openly and used the weight of their names to validate the cause.(i.e. William Wilber-force). God has always used people to shine light in dark places. Including dark places in the church. Martin Luther did this when he addressed the abuse and manipulation that was prevalent in the church of that day, via “Public postings”. To some, he was view as a “tool of Satan, a gossip, a trouble maker” but to those who hungered for truth, his testimony was heard, investigated and received. Why the history lesson? History has a way of reinforcing truth or revealing lies and History also reveals patterns in behavior. With an open mind, let’s review some of the patterns in the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Pattern # 1
Pastors who were fired.
1. Impaglia
2. Bowman
3. Combs-was fired on his birthday
4. Lorenzo
5. ONeill
6. Maldonado
7. Hannon
Pastors who “moved on”
9.Mcdonald- was demoted from administrative pastor
10. Taledo – Was asked by PJC to leave
11. Pena- Saw the writing on the wall and moved on.

As for Pastor Hammond, he was removed from his administrative duties one time too many, had his income cut and was forced to seek employment elsewhere.

In addition to these pastors, since 2004 more than 50 employees have been fired or have resigned. Why?
Truth or Lies? You decide. In the statement posted by the Brooklyn Tabernacle pastoral staff they assert that the leadership has remained the same for 35 years. If this statement is true, then the above is a lie. In reality, this statement like most statements from the leadership is at best a half truth. This response only highlights the obvious.

Pattern # 2) BT is a family business. It was started by a family member Claire (Carol’s father) passed down to Carol and Jim. In 1997 Pastor Hammond was demoted so that Al Toledo (son in law) could take his rightful place. If we follow the pattern, either Al will return to BT or Pastor Brian Pettrey (son in law) will inherit the business. Who are the members on the Board? Why is it a secret.

Pattern # 3.

Lack of Financial accountability:
At the start of the building project, members in the congregations were ask by PJC to “give sacrificially” so that the church could do the following
1. Build a gym for troubled inner-city youth. People gave, it never happened.
2. A 24 hour crisis center for gang members. People gave, it never happened
3. Homeless children brought to the church. People gave, the church took pictures of these children to Washington DC and received faith based money from the government for this project. The Children were allowed to come once and then leadership pulled the plug.
4. There was also talk from the pulpit of a school, daycare for single mothers and much much more. Again people gave and it never happened. At what point do we hold the leadership accountable? People gave wedding rings, took out second mortgages on their homes, equity lines of credit, gave the monies they saved for their children’s college education and the above did not happen. Instead, PJC Built Churchill’s Restaurant which failed within the first year. To add insult to injury when the people gave, there was never an announcement of what was given, no written financial statement to show how much money was collected. Were the bills paid? Was the crisis over? Will the gym be built? Nothing, but be sure, next Sunday and Tuesday we will be asked to give again.

Pattern #4 Abuse of Money.

Fact. PJC lives in a home that is worth over 5 million dollars.

[Editor’s note: documentation has not been found indicating the house was worth over $5,000,000. In April 2010 the house was listed for sale at $3,800,000, and in July 2010, the house was estimated at around $3,500,000. Average homes in the Douglaston-Little Neck area around that time were $506,000. The house eventually sold for $1,875,000 in October 2013.] 

Fact, The church pays for all of his personal expenses. Staff members fix every leak, every plumbing problem, paint and remodel his home on a regular basis.
His house keeper and gardeners salary are also paid for by the church.
Baby sitting for his grand children, remodeling of Toledo and Pettery’s homes are also paid by the church. The entire remodel of his mother’s home was paid for by the church. Remodeling of a vacation home in Florida was also done by employees of the church. By the way, this is all done during church hours. When these employees are gone for months at a time, the church building is neglected, projects come to a halt and the work load becomes heavy for others. Were they paid for these services? NO. They are salaried employees who make very little. Could they object to doing the work? The ones who did are included in the list of those who were fired. Oh by the way, the other pastors do not enjoy this benefit. No one shovels the snow for them in the winter mornings, only Al and Jim enjoyed that benefit. No one parks their cars for them. All of this is demanded of the staff. Many have never received raises; one person after working at BT for 15years had only a $10 contribution made by the church into their 401b retirement. On His death bed, Pastor Byrd was promised that sister Byrd would be provided for. Pastor Byrd served faithfully at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. He began laboring there when the church was called The Brooklyn gospel tabernacle. After his death, Sister Byrd received a call from the church informing her that the church would not support her. It was a sister church in New Jersey that came to her aide. Now you understand why she attends that church. When this news reached the ears of some concerned members at BT people began talking and questioning or as some would say “Gossiping”. Because of their “gossip”, Sister Byrd gets some support from BT. The amount is small but at least it’s something. The bible instructs the church to care for widows especially those who served in the church. This act by BT. goes against scripture. The truth is bothers and sisters, the bible says let not your ways be evil spoken of. In other words, if your actions appear to be questionable or dishonest people will talk. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:2 we have renounced secret and shameful ways, we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly, we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. Brother and sisters, the answer is simple. All BT has to do is open the books, Produce financial statements, Produce the minuets from the board meetings, prove that these statements are false. Financial disclosure is a legal issue. The minuets from board meetings is a matter of protocol. The issue bothers and sisters, is not slander or gossip. The issue is Accountability. The deception has to stop. Deception about Churchill’s, deception about why Pastors, Staff members and members in the congregation have left and the deception about the finances. There is no doubt that the ministry of the Brooklyn tabernacle has been a blessing to many. The poor have heard the gospel. The music has blessed many and lives have been changed to the glory of God. However, this same work has made poor choices i.e. spending over a million dollars on marble for the smith street building, fired countless people including godly pastors and staff members. Conducting many building projects with out permits and not respecting OSHA codes. Which by the way led to a staff member becoming crippled. This brothers and sisters is a serious matter. If you love BT. you must pray and having done so you must stand and raise your voice. But do this only if you love the church. Do this only if you love Jim.

Let him who has ears to hear let him hear. As stated in 1Cor.5:12 it is our responsibility to examine those inside the church. We are called upon to pray and act. They go hand in hand. Brave men and women, examine the facts . Set aside your emotions, your personal opinions. Some times the truth is hard. There is one other pattern that is consistent among those who defend Brooklyn tabernacles lack of financial disclosure; they often say “I believe the money is spent wisely because PJC says so”. I have heard him say that all the money from the albums and books go to the work.” With out investigating the information and examining the facts, how do you know that it is reliable? As a non-profit organization, the church is required by law to be audited and to disclose the funds to every share holder. Who are the share holders? The tithing members. I challenge you to examine the information in this post. I challenge you to think, question and follow the example of the Bereans in Acts who would not accept Paul’s testimony until they had examined all the facts. This also applies to my post. I challenge you to ask your former pastors why they left. I challenge you to talk to people on staff. But only do so if you are hungry for truth. Finally, just think for a moment what this world would be like if it were not for the efforts of the secret members of the Underground Railroad…. What if William Wilber-force did not lift his voice…? What if” insiders” did not give testimony to the horrors that were occurring within the concentration camps. What if their response was “Pray and leave it to God”. What if Martin Luther did not oppose the injustice in the church which by the way led to revival within the church. Better yet, what if God, from afar just watched us in our sins and did nothing to save us. Thanks be to God, he was not passive, instead he took and active role, He got involved and Changed History. Why did I post? I am hopeful that change can occur; I am prayerful that Jim will repent; I believe the financial books should be opened and I love the Brooklyn tabernacle.”

Segments of the original Topix Discussion can be found on The Wayback Machine, HERE.