Rev Joel Ward, convicted child abuser who runs what some call a reform school, The Joel John Scholastic Academy, where he illegally drives kids around on a school bus and can't pay teachers has sunk to a new low. He tried to keep articles that were printed in this weeks LA Focus from his members. The church is in debt 8 million dollars and he told his congregation he just bought his new girlfriend a car. She is Angela Hackworth, of Testimonial Baptist Church, Bishop JB Hackworth is the Pastor. Here is the article
St. Paul Baptist Church Votes To Retain Rev. Joel Anthony Ward As Pastor
Much of the property owned by the 100-year old St. Paul Baptist Church-valued at upwards of $10 million ten years ago, has been sold or is in foreclosure. Over the last year and a half, its pastor, Rev. Joel Anthony Ward has been arrested for the infliction of injury on a child (his own), was placed on probation; had a restraining order filed against him by a former choir director with whom he had an affair that began while he was still married; was ordered by an L.A. Superior Court Judge to surrender his guns; and confessed from the pulpit that he might have fathered a child out of wedlock.
The circumstances surrounding the church and its decline from one of the city's most popular black churches to a waning membership of less that 100 have led to one of the biggest scandals in L.A.'s African-American church community.
Yet, in a surprising turn of events the remaining members of the 100-year old church, voted 55-37 to retain Ward as pastor of the once landmark Baptist congregation.
"I'm in shock", said third generation member, Dominique Bell. "Because I'm one of the few young adults there, I'm like what are these people thinking!
"To some extent there are some elderly people who are too old to fight and think that if he leaves, we're going to lose everything, instead of looking at it as a chance to rebuild the church and I don't know if the deacons felt intimidated to speak but they never said anything. Four or five people at the meeting said that was their last day there."
According to Bell, a 22-year old college student who has not decided whether or not she will stay at the church, most of those voting were women.
"We don't have that many men in the church anymore and half of the women there are mesmerized by him. For the past two weeks he has made it seem like the vote was about his infidelity and that was not the case. The church is in foreclosure. "
Those in the pastoral community have been reluctant to comment on the story, but many believe that a reevaluation of ministry is long overdue.
"Where God is present, fruit is born, " said Mark Whitlock, Pastor of Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church and of the innovators of USC's Passing The Mantle Program, aimed at teaching pastors the business of community development. "An absence of God's presence leads to decay and debauchery.
"Criticism of the post-modern church is that we have fallen in love with pulpit rock star personalities and not the presence of Jesus Christ. It's time to re-evaluate the meaning of ministry."
Tarshia Rogers, the 38-year old woman who sought and received a restraining order against Ward, and went public with her story of verbal and emotional abuse as well as their longtime affair, now attends services at another church and says she's terminated the pregnancy.
"A lot of people don't understand why I came forward, but it was for my own cleansing in order to move on," Rodgers said.
Ward, however, is stalwart.
"Everything that's been said has been one-sided, but time will tell," Ward stated in a telephone interview just days after the vote. "I was voted pastor for life in 1998 and I could never be voted out, only dismissed.
"It's time to move from this issue. I have a congregation and school to handle and there are other pastors with bigger issues than this."