Detroit World Outreach
Statement of the DWO Board of Elders
We write to the entire DWO congregation to provide explanation for the confusion at our 11 am service on Sunday. We know that Bishop Wallace and Bishop Gibert would be disappointed at what transpired. Sunday’s occurrence was a response to the unanticipated breach of a verbal agreement that Dr. Charisse made with the Elder Board that morning. As many of you have likely observed, there has been a breakdown in the relationship between Dr. Charisse and the Elder Board that has led to disagreement and anger expressed toward us by Dr. Charisse. We acknowledge her feelings. We hope that the relationship can be repaired one day. The barrage of personal attacks through social media posts are unfortunate and a poor witness for our members and non-believers. We are called to operate in a manner that is pleasing to God and with character that is consistent with our Faith. That did not happen on Sunday and for that, we humbly apologize to you for the confusion.
We have read the vicious statements issued by Dr. Charisse and her attorneys. The messages have been posted throughout social media, on the DWO website, and through various other methods, including text. It was our fervent prayer that you as members of DWO would be shielded from the ugliness and conflict that has become a part of the disagreement. As a result of the messages that have been circulated and the attacks on the Board of Elders, we believe that it was important to write this letter to each of you to:
a) provide an understanding of the DWO succession process
b) give clarity on the basis for the disagreement, and
c) express to you that despite the disagreement, we should not be broken or divided.
Because Dr. Charisse and her attorneys would not work with the Elder Board despite the Elders’ repeated efforts, this disagreement will be resolved by the courts. We pray that DWO will come together to continue the work and honor the legacy of both Bishop Jack Wallace and Bishop Ben Gibert.
DWO Succession Plan:
The Bylaws of DWO governed our church under Bishop Jack Wallace and Bishop Ben Gibert. Bishop Ben Gibert transitioned without a written succession plan in place. When that happens, the Bylaws provide for a method of selecting the next Senior Pastor. First, the Board of Elders must meet and create a Senior Pastor Selection Committee. It was our intent and desire to wait the duration of the Church Fast before assembling the Committee. Second, the Senior Pastor Selection Committee nominates the final candidates to be the next Senior Pastor. Finally, the Board of Elders will vote on the Senior Pastor nomination to elect the next Senior Pastor. During this process, the Bylaws provide for the orderly operation of the church until the next Senior Pastor is selected. Dr. Charisse has gone outside of the process provided in our bylaws, which has resulted in the chaos and confusion we are experiencing.
Almost immediately after Bishop Ben transitioned, Dr. Charisse claimed that she was the Vice President and Acting Senior Pastor of DWO. See text messages on her behalf less than 12 hours after Bishop transitioned. Regardless of the bylaws or lack of a clear succession plan, Dr. Charisse, felt she ought to be Senior Pastor. She later stated, on the advice of her attorneys, that she was creating a new board, and that the people she appointed would also serve as the Senior Pastor Selection Committee. She then had them nominate and select her as the Senior Pastor. All of this was done without the input of the Elder Board in place at the time of Bishop’s transition. We never stated she could not be the Senior Pastor. We just wanted to adhere to our governing documents and follow the proper process. Our request to her was to slow down so that we could ensure an orderly transition that would honor the legacy of Bishop Gibert and Bishop Wallace. Her announcement on Sunday, March 19, without board support was erroneous. In contrast, you may recall that Elder Ben was promoted to Senior Pastor surrounded by a full Board of Elders and DWO staff. That is the proper and Godly way to Go Forward – with unity.
As the Elders, we disagree with Dr. Charisse’s process and claims of being Vice-President. At the time of Bishop’s passing, Elder Marvin Wilder served as the Vice President and had been in that position since 2005. Dr. Charisse even acknowledged Elder Marvin Wilder as the Vice-President in a March 19, 2017 letter that she sent to the elders and posted online. The bylaws only permit one vice-president unless the Board of Elders create an additional position. Elder Wilder’s position as Vice President is supported by the annual reports filed with the State of Michigan since 2005 and other documents. In his role as an Elder and Vice President, he is ready to appoint a Senior Pastor Selection committee to nominate the next Senior Pastor. Once the committee has nominated candidates to be our next Senior Pastor, the Board of Elders will vote. All of this is in line with our current bylaws. We must reiterate that our bylaws were created and governed by Bishop Wallace and Bishop Gibert.
What is on our hearts:
As we have said before, this is a disagreement, but need not be a divide. It has only been a month since our beloved Bishop Ben transitioned and many of us have not been able to truly grieve. There is a lot of discomfort on both sides of this disagreement. This is not just the Elders or Dr. Charisse, but the entire DWO family. Our hearts are heavy because we know that there is discord. We never thought that DWO would be involved in a disagreement like this, especially given what we have all been taught by Bishop Ben. We ask for you to pray for us, for Dr. Charisse, and the entire Gibert family. Bishop Ben commissioned us to serve as the Elders of our Church and to ensure that DWO always meets the needs of the church family. We are here to serve, but right now it is definitely challenging. We are encouraged though because we know that He will never put more on us than we can handle.
We hope that this letter provides some clarity to each member, guest and friend of DWO. Our intent is to unify our DWO family according to the governing documents that were created by our beloved Bishops Jack Wallace and Ben Gibert. We ask that you follow Christ, (rather than take sides), pray without ceasing, and meditate on I Corinthians 1:10-17. Regardless of the outcome, Detroit World Outreach will be victorious.
We are committed to keeping all of you informed on the progress of the Senior Pastor Selection Committee and future developments in this matter. DWO is facing an internal challenge, but together we will move forward as one unified church family.
In the meantime, we intend to Move Forward. Tonight, we will have a healing word from Ministers Ron and LaShun Franklin on Matters of the Heart. Understanding how to heal and mend torn and damaged hearts. Sunday, Minister LaShun Franklin will minister on Forgiveness. Minister LaShun is a licensed therapist and a Coordinator of our Member Services Team. We trust these services will be a blessing to you.
Ephesians 4:16 (ERV) No, we will speak the truth with love.
Detroit World Outreach Christian Center Church
23800 W. Chicago Rd | Redford | MI | 48239 | dwo.org