photo: shawn k yoakum
I am guilty. Yes, guilty of chiding the congregations of African-American churches: I considered them complicit in the chicanery of their churches.
I still do.
However, when you face someone who has been pummeled one too many times, you just have to commiserate with them: e.g., "Bishop" Eddie Long has come out with another beleaguered video, this time admitting that a friend had taken $1 million worth of "investments" from his congregation. The "friend"? None other than the former boy-wizard of entrepreneurship, Ephren Taylor.
WHEN THE WIZ WANES
Taylor, author of the bestselling Creating Success From The Inside Out (Christian Living) was considered a "wiz kid" for inventing a video game when he was 12, becoming a millionaire by the age of 16 and then the country's youngest CEO of a publicly-traded company - City Capital.
Fame and hype can cover up almost anything: City Capital became a launching pad for other investments, as well as empowerment speaking tours. Just 6 months ago, Taylor was hawking his new book and raking in money from people who believed in Taylor's creed of "social conscience." His company's stock soared to $20 per share. He appeared on Donny Deustch's show on CNBC on Aug. 13, 2009 and was hailed as THE brightest young thing to ever come along in years.
Curiously, Taylor resigned as CEO of City Capital in November of 2010. City Capital's stock now? Would you believe less than $.01 per share? When Taylor left, it seems a lot of his money-making secrets went with him - and his accounts too. Just as curious: his bio on wikipedia.com has not been updated since 2007.
So what has he been doing lately? Evidently, Ephren Taylor has been busy - very busy - hawking himself, mostly at churches. And now the real results of Taylor's Wealth Tour have been trickling in on the net and they're not that pretty:
I was also scammed by Ephren Taylor and his team, and the worst part of is the transition took place at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Where he presented his deal in front of the man of God, Bishop Eddie Long. I signed document for my investment and I have not been able to contact anybody since the note was due on Sept. 08,2010.
Can anybody help. And yes, they should be in jail.
While no press release has come out regarding Taylor's problems with his former clients, he did have time yesterday to come out with an official response to the Eddie Long video:
I visited with Bishop Eddie L. Long in late 2009 prior to bringing my Wealth Tour Live to New Birth, with hopes of inspiring and empowering the congregation in business through seminars and making my book, Creating Success from the Inside Out, available to all attendees. The church received a percentage of product sales, and stated their intent to sell video from the presentations. I also operated on Bishop Long's behalf to secure certain media opportunities for him.
Taylor goes on to say that while he parted ways with City Capital, we will see that: "I am still in good faith honoring my commitment to assist in efforts ensuring that this matter comes to a swift and positive conclusion for all parties."
Last Sunday, the Greater New Zion Baptist erupted in violence. You can see the video here, if you haven't seen it already. We all knew that many African-American churches were joyfully physical during services, but no one could foresee a free-for-all caused by an elderly pastor's ousting. The Pastor, Rev. LeVonia Ray laments (in the video) that such an occasion as his ouster would cause congregants to become so aggressive, but one parishioner cited this:
"He had his deacons to bring in non-members to continue to vote him back in." ... "We have been trying to get rid of him because he can't preach and because of the types of people he is bringing into the church."
Another source has pointed to the fact that church finances have come under scrutiny, faulting Pastor Ray.
It's no secret that America's Black Churches have painted over their pastor's peccadilloes involving scandals like exta-marital affairs. But lately, criminal chicanery involving church money has begun to come to the surface. A good site that is now policing such crime is Preacher Bureau of Investigations.