Reverend Staccato Powell Undressed by AME Zion Church | Faith family
The African Methodist Episcopal Church in Zion removed a prominent bishop from office after his peers accused him of fraudulently transferring Church property deeds to a shell company which then guaranteed millions of dollars of loans against these properties.
Staccato Powell, who has presided over churches in several western states, was removed from office in a vote Thursday by the denomination’s general conference held in Atlanta, upholding an earlier committee decision to convict him of 20 counts.
Decision to undress Powell follows a “trial” at the conference, in which evidence and witnesses were presented and a full defense was allowed, ending in a conviction for violating church law , among other charges.
The vote means Powell “would no longer be recognized as consecrated to the office of bishop” and reverted to past ordained status, according to conference minutes posted online.
Powell was appointed bishop in 2016 and became prelate president of the church’s Western Episcopal District, which includes California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, and Arizona.
He was suspended in January, when a statement issued by the bishops said he was using “intimidation, manipulation and deception” to pressure churches in his district to transfer their acts of God. owned by a shell company registered as AME Zion Western Episcopal District, which despite the official sounding name was not an ecclesiastical entity.
The bishops accused Powell of using “fraudulent actions” to obtain the properties and alleged the company is mortgaging church properties, some of which have led to notices of foreclosure.
In an interview with Religion News Service, Powell said the suspension violated religious and legal standards of due process.
Last year, that same shell company filed a Chapter 11 case with the U.S. Eastern District Bankruptcy Court, estimating at least $ 10 million in liabilities.
In 2018, the bishops ordered Powell “to stop the practice of altering deeds and mortgaging the properties of the local church.” He was also told to “alleviate the debt that has been improperly placed on churches and immediately begin the process of restoring deeds in language consistent with the law of the church.”
The bishops alleged that the mortgage proceeds amounted to more than $ 14 million, of which more than $ 8 million had not been recorded.
Surprisingly, regardless of these blamed misdeeds, Powell became chairman of the 12-member council of bishops in April 2020, chairing the 1.4 million-member AME Zion Church. Bishops from across the United States and much of Africa were present for the inauguration in Alabama.
“It is a lesson in humility to occupy this supreme privilege at such a defining moment,” said Powell at the time. “I look forward to serving the denomination in this new capacity for leadership, propelling Zion into a new decade of service and kingdom building. “
Powell was also a member of the board of trustees of Saint Augustine University and a member of the Morehouse Preachers Council.
He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Central North Carolina University Law School and Duke University Divinity School.
After Powell was stripped of his title, the Council of Bishops said in a statement:
“We pray that the healing can now begin! Our prayers are high for Reverend Staccato Powell and his family. We pray for the laity and clergy of the Western Episcopal District, the Council of Bishops, and the entire membership of our beloved AME Zion Church.
The historically black denomination, founded in 1796 in response to racial discrimination in white-led Methodist communities, now reports having churches in 38 states and 33 countries, including several African and Caribbean nations.
Powell’s two children followed his career path in AME Zion Church. His son, Staccato Keithan, is pastor at Fisher Chapel AME Zion Church in Phoenix. His daughter, Susan Elizabeth Nicole Powell, serves as a missionary supervisor for the Western Episcopal District of AME Zion Church and a Safe Home Advocate for the Domestic Abuse Project in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.