Posted by: Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals | March 29, 2009

Ex-megachurch head Paulk dies in Atlanta hospital

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earl Paulk, the founder of an Atlanta-area megachurch whose leadership was marked by sex scandals, died Sunday at Atlanta Medical Center.

Paulk, who was in his 80s, had been in bad health for the past couple of years after a battle with cancer. The hospital could not release a cause of death.

Paulk built a huge, racially integrated congregation at the Cathedral at Chapel Hill in South Dekalb County with his passionate evangelism, but many members left because of his sexual indiscretions.

Several women alleged they had affairs with Paulk and it was revealed in 2007 that Paulk was the biological father of his nephew, the Rev. D.E. Paulk, who is now leader of the church.

On Sunday morning, a church member remembered the positive side of Paulk.

Joy Weathersby, 21, of Lithonia said she has been attending the church since she was christened there as a child.

“I think he was a very nice person,” she said. “I know the stuff that was going on, but his messages really taught me a lot of things about life.”

She said Paulk is “in a better place” and she won’t miss him because she has all of his audio tapes.

Paulk co-founded the Cathedral at Chapel Hill and helped grow it to a peak membership of about 10,000 in the early 1990s. He enlarged his influence with televised church services and books. President George Bush named Paulk’s public housing ministry one of his thousand points of light.

A lawsuit by a former female employee sparked a chain of events that ended in Paulk pleading guilty in January 2008 to lying under oath by denying affairs with other women. A judge fined Paulk $1,000 and put him on probation for 10 years.

Mona Brewer, who filed the lawsuit, alleged that Paul coerced her into a 14-year affair. Brewer said Sunday morning that her suit against the church will “absolutely” continue.

“I’m still kind of sorting out how I feel,” Brewer said. “It’s a tough one. It’s sort of like (being) in a train wreck right now.”

Paulk has been plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct for much of his lengthy career.

In the early 1990s, his former ghostwriter and biographer accused him of manipulating her into a sexual relationship.

He denied that, but in the midst of the scandal he admitted to having had an adulterous relationship in 1960 when he was pastor of what was then known as Hemphill Church of God, now Mount Paran. He left the Church of God denomination then and formed what is now Chapel Hill Harvester.

In 2001, Jessica Battle, a former liturgical dancer at the church, sued Paulk, claiming he molested her when she was a child and a teenager. Paulk denied the allegations and the suit was settled out of court.

Paulk’s granddaughter, who was Battle’s childhood friend, also alleged Paulk had molested her as a child.

— The Associated Press and the AJC news research department contributed to this story.

UPDATE:

Archbishop Earl Paulk, a metro Atlanta pastor whose fame and megachurch ministry crumbled under accusations of sexual improprieties, will be buried Saturday.

The funeral will be at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at 4650 Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur beginning at 1 p.m.

Visitation will be from noon until 9 p.m. Friday in the $25 million church where 10,000 members once came to hear Paulk preach. The family will be there beginning at 6 p.m.

The 81-year-old minister died Sunday from cancer.

Paulk and his brother Donnie Paulk built the church into a charismatic congregation known for being in the forefront of social movements, such as racial integration, helping drug abusers and ordaining women.

Paulk became so well known that he was invited to a White House prayer breakfast under President Ronald Reagan.

His reputation began disintegrating in the early 1990s, when a series of women accused him and others at the church of manipulating them into sexual relationships. He denied the accusations.

Mona Brewer, a singer, sued him in 2005 for sexual misconduct, saying he coerced her into an affair. The suit is unresolved, but a DNA test ordered showed he fathered a son with his brother’s wife.

Paulk had sworn in an affidavit he’d never had sex with anyone but his wife, which lead to him pleading guilty to a felony charge of lying under oath.

He was sentenced to 10 years’ probation and a $1,000 fine.

Paulk spent the last two years in ill health, though he made occasional short appearances at the church, now up for sale and pastored by his son, D.E. Paulk.


Categories

%d bloggers like this: