The African Methodist Episcopal Church was unclear Monday on whether the denomination will address recent allegations that one of their high profile preachers, the Rev. Jamal H. Bryant of Northwest Baltimore's Empowerment Temple Church, fathered a child out of wedlock with a woman last summer.
"If there is any action to be taken it will be on the part of the Council of Bishops," Billie Irving, executive assistant to AME's General Secretary Jeffery Cooper, told The Christian Post on Monday.
Calls to Council President Julius McAllister and Bishop William P. Deveaux Sr., who oversees the denomination's second district under which Baltimore falls, were unanswered at the time this story was published.
Latoya Shawntee Odom, a 34-year-old California woman, has alleged that Bryant fathered a son with her last summer after encouraging her to have an abortion when he first discovered she was pregnant. Odom alleged that the popular Baltimore preacher was also not consistently maintaining monthly $1,100 child support payments.
Without confirming or denying Odom's allegations, Bryant revealed in a Periscope session with his followers last Thursday that his lawyers advised him not to share any details about the situation with the public. He also described himself as someone who is "flawed with character."
"Over the last week, a lot has been said and a lot has been suggested, and like you I was thrown into a tailspin. I had to shut down for a minute so that my response would not be that of a man but be priestly as a man of God. To that end, let me say to you I am one of those rare people who are flawed with character. That with all of my issues I don't run from them I stand right next to them," said Bryant, who divorced his former wife, Gizelle, in 2008 after she accused him of cheating.
Gizelle Bryant told the Daily Mail in January: "There was infidelity. I found out about it and he told me about it. I decided I was not going to continue to stay in a relationship in which there was not a major commitment. I'm an old-fashioned girl and if you're going to commit, commit. But at this point in time it's so water under the bridge," she said.
She explained that their relationship began to falter after rumors of Bryant's adultery began circulating among the 10,000-strong member church.
Bryant, who was a rising preacher when he met Gizelle, already had two out-of-wedlock children.
"It was absolutely the worst of times," Gizelle further explained on how the marriage crumbled. "It was lonely and isolating, however I do have a strong support network of family and friends. I just leaned on them at that time."
Addressing the fresh allegations, Bryant said Thursday: "Those of you who have been with me, you are fully aware that some eight, nine years now, I went through a divorce and claimed all of it my responsibility. The worst mistake you can ever make is to repeat the exact same mistake."
Cooper told CP last week that Bryant was not disciplined by the AME Church for cheating on his former wife because a formal charge was not laid against him with Church officials. Irving further noted Monday that if Bryant's church does not raise any objection to him being their spiritual leader despite the cloud of allegations he will more than likely remain in his position.