Entries in Minister (2)


Boy, 11, Leads Church As Ordained Minister

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TEMPLE HILLS, Md.) -- Just last month, Ezekiel Stoddard, 11, of Temple Hills, Md., was ordained as a minister in his family's independent Pentecostal church, where his parents are also pastors.

Stoddard said he was motivated to become a minister after God spoke to him in a dream and told him to read Psalm 23.

"God gave me that particular scripture because a lot of people, they try to draw you away from the lord, trying to get you on the wrong path," he said.

"People come to you, they ask you questions about why you should act like a child and not a minister," the young minister said. "I do things like a child, but still I am a minister. I am an evangelical."

Stoddard was ordained in a congregation-wide ceremony on May 6, with his parents leading the service.

His mother, Pastor Adrienne Smith, says her son preaches the 11 a.m. service with the other preachers at the Fullness of Time Church, a small but growing congregation in Capitol Heights, Md.

He has also preached at churches around the Maryland region.

"He can go to the bible and pull a text and prepare a sermon. That's in his heart," she says. "That's how he feels about the ministry, about Jesus, about the community."

Smith says she is confident in her son's abilities to lead a congregation, regardless of his age.

"He's had time to study, he knows a lot of scripture, he knows the 10 Commandments, the stories. He does childlike things, but when it comes to the word of God, he studies, he prepares."

Minister Ezekiel, nicknamed "Zeek" by his family, said that he doesn't feel like there should be an age limit to how old a minister needs to be before becoming ordained.

"A lot of people think of me being a kid, that my parents are forcing me to minister the gospel," he said. "But the first time I did a sermon, I was 7 or 8."

"There's a seriousness about Minister Ezekiel," his mother said. "He knows it's not about him. It's about ministry. Wherever he goes, they say, 'That's the little preacher there.'"

Stoddard is homeschooled by his mother, along with three other siblings. His mother says he spends at least three to four hours a day studying the Bible.

He names basketball, tennis, and going to the movies among his hobbies outside the church. He and his brother also have a landscaping business.

He said he plans on being a minister his entire life.

The cases of children becoming ordained as ministers is unusual, said Richard Balmer, professor of American religious history at Dartmouth college and an Episcopal priest.

"It's usually a novelty sort of thing," he said. "What happens in evangelical circles is that a congregation has the power to ordain anyone that it wants really. So if they take a liking to this guy and they think that he is talented and gifted and worthy, then that person can be ordained."

Balmer said the idea of ordaining a child is unusual because the ministry is viewed as a professional calling.

"Just as you don't have 11-year-old lawyers, or 11-year-old positions, there's a general sense that you need a certain maturity in order to function effectively in that role," he said.

"There have been child preachers through the decades, and more than one of them has grown up to be quite embittered by the experience and turned away from the faith," said Balmer. "I think that's a cautionary tale to anyone who wants to rush in and be ordained."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Church of Swing? Dallas Sues Minister for Rave and Sex Clubs

WFAA-TV/ABC News(DALLAS) -- Internet-ordained pastor Glenn Hudson says he helps youth and those who are disadvantaged, but Dallas officials suggest his ministry is more like a church of swing than of God, and they are not giving it rave reviews.

The city attorney's office has slapped Hudson with a lawsuit for allegedly running two phony churches -- The Playground and the DarkSide.  It says one was a club for swingers, and the other a rave dance hall venue where hard-core drugs were sold to teens.

It alleges both operations are "positively pure fraud" and wants them shut down, according to Melissa Miles, assistant city attorney.

Hudson, who does not face criminal charges -- the civil lawsuit is only intended to halt his activities -- told city officials that he was ordained with Universal Life Church and said his work is legitimate.

After getting complaints that Hudson was running unlicensed sex and drug clubs under the "guise of religion," the city hired the Dallas Police Department's Vice Unit to conduct undercover surveillance at both businesses.

At The Playground, they found flat-screen TVs showing porn and topless female dancers.  For an additional fee, the club provided access to a VIP area, "where his customers have access to beds, complimentary condoms and more pornographic videos," alleges the lawsuit.

Instead of stained glass, the building had tinted windows and the doors were padlocked.  The July 20 lawsuit alleges detectives found "nothing to indicate that the property ever operates as a church, mosque or synagogue."

Located in an industrial park with no religious signage, the club was described in the lawsuit as catering to "adults, often couples, who wish to engage in random consensual sexual activities with other adults other than their spouses."

The club also provided "theme nights" -- "none religious in nature," according to the lawsuit.  One advertisement promoted a special attire night: "Anything But Clothes."  Another announced a guest appearance by a celebrity of the porn industry, "Mr. Marcus."

At the DarkSide, detectives found a rave dance club.  Youth as young as 14 and 15 were present and able to buy an assortment of illegal drugs: ketamine, morphine, marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms and pure ecstasy, known as "mollies," the lawsuit alleges.

Hudson told city officials that he was running a "youth ministry," and was, therefore, "exempt" from zoning restrictions and licensing requirements, according to the lawsuit.

"We have outreach programs that are catering to the youth and disadvantaged people in the communities trying to provide an alternative to what currently exists, which are drug-infested," he told Rebecca Lopez of ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV after a court hearing Tuesday.

As for the city's allegations that Hudson is trying to avoid tax laws by hiding his sex and drug operations behind churches, he said, "I don't have any knowledge of that."

A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 3 in Dallas County's 95th District Court to determine if the city can shut down both clubs permanently.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio