Statement from the Senior Pastor Charisse Gibert
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Hello DWO Family, This morning at 11am I shared with our congregation the following information regarding our leadership transition here at DWO. As has been the practice of Bishop and me, I prayerfully sought wise counsel during this trying time. This counsel included that of Bishop Hilliard, his General Counsel, Pastor Tommy Barnett, and the proficient local legal counsel of Mr. Alex Parrish of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn (a member of the largest law firm in Detroit, which is well respected in our legal community). I was instructed to have Mr. Alex review the church's bylaws and provide an opinion to ensure the transition process would be done decently and in order (1 Cor 14:40). The Scripture clearly gives the prayerful and divinely led predecessor the right to name the successor. It was that way with Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, David and Solomon, and Paul and Timothy.
After a careful review of the DWO bylaws and supportive documents, it was established that Bishop Ben exercised his Spiritual authority, as validated in Scripture to select his successor pursuant to the provisions of the DWO bylaws, thus establishing his succession plan. As you know, we (Bishop Ben and I) shared in the responsibility of providing Spiritual leadership for DWO, DOMA, and hundreds of Spiritual daughters and sons throughout the world. Our bylaws state that the Vice President would automatically assume the responsibility of the Senior Pastor in the event of the absence of the Senior Pastor. Bishop Ben appointed me as a Vice President of DWO and never removed me from such appointment. There was already a Vice President in place at DWO. Bishop Ben did not seek to have him removed. Instead, he allocated responsibilities between that Vice President and myself, with me being the “first Vice President” with the authority to exercise the Senior Pastor’s powers in the event of his vacancy.
This morning I shared with you some of the pain and loss our family experienced with the totally unexpected departure of my husband, Bishop Ben, on March 1, 2017. On top of this loss, he left me with an enormous responsibility here at DWO arising from the vacancy of his Senior Pastorship. This is a great responsibility and assignment from the Lord that my husband Bishop Ben, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God has prepared me for. Upon my husband’s passing, I immediately began to prayerfully seek the Lord for wisdom to assume this role and to overcome whatever obstacles, hindrances, or disruptions that would interfere with the smooth transition of leadership.
Upon careful inspection of the current bylaws, the law firm discovered (in their legal opinion) the terms of each present Elder on the board had long since expired. None of their terms had been extended either by re-appointment or otherwise as should have been done each year. One of my first actions, using the powers of Senior Pastor, was to reconstitute the former board of Elders reappointing those board members who had been in place and also appointing several new members to the board of Elders whose insights are valued and will be key in helping to successfully move DWO forward in fulfillment of our exciting destiny. Bishop Ben had already discussed with me a plan to reassign roles and responsibilities of previous board members, while also expanding the board leadership.
This authority to reconstitute the board was clearly given to me under the present bylaws. In Scripture, Paul instructed Titus that his first order of ministry business was to appoint new Elders to help him move the Kingdom agenda forward. On Friday evening March 17, 2017, we held a full board meeting under the supervision of legal counsel with both old and new board members. Bishop Hilliard was conferenced in by phone and exhorted us Spiritually on our responsibility and opened the meeting with prayer. I was formally elected as Senior Pastor of Detroit World Outreach, though some Elders abstained voting, the motion carried by a majority of those present. There was some intense discussion on certain issues, with some Elders believing we should go in a different direction for a variety of reasons including that in their mind the Bishop’s intentions were somehow unclear or that there were technical legal arguments that allowed for, or required, a different path. An attorney (and member of the church) was present at the meeting and he represented and articulated those positions to the assembled group. After careful discussion and prayer all of those positions were rejected by a majority vote of the body. I believe the wisdom of God prevailed. It is my desire as your Pastor to move forward with unity and peace, trusting God's peace, protection, and provisions. I am deeply humbled and I believe this pastoral authority and position to move our church forward is consistent with what Bishop Ben desired and intended. Praise the Lord!
There was no one closer to my husband than I was and most of you know that we were Spiritual partners in the faith and in the ministry. I solicit your prayers during this transition period and I will do all I can to work with everyone to insure we stay on course with the vision. I'm asking our board of Elders to assist in these matters for a smooth transition. I am asking that we spend the next 30 days in prayer, as we move forward to settle matters that are out of order that must be settled. Bishop previously told me several things that he intended to set in motion, so that our church could operate more effectively and efficiently.
We are going to make some changes in the best interest of DWO. I don't intend to make unnecessary changes for the sake of change, but I must do whatever is morally, legally, and Spiritually necessary to move us forward. My ultimate desire is to please Almighty God...Scripture promises that when a man pleases the Lord he makes his enemies to be at peace with him (Prov 16:7). I'm thankful to have the support of a majority of the DWO board, local pastors, the DOMA Family, the AIM Family across America, my father in the faith Bishop Hilliard and mother in the faith Pastor Bridget. I will keep you informed during this transition time and beyond of the affairs of the church.