Global Destiny Ministries members on Sunday circled their spiritual wagons around their pastor, Bishop Thomas Weeks III, now charged with beating his estranged wife, the nationally known evangelist Juanita Bynum.
Most congregants approached for interviews after Sunday’s 8 a.m. service declined to comment on the marital problems of Weeks, 40, and Bynum, 48.
Those who did urged caution in taking sides in the issue and passing judgment on two people they consider spiritual giants, but also human.
“There are three sides to every story,” said Clarkston’s Shannon Mayers, a frequent visitor. “Nobody has the right to judge anybody. God is in the midst of that and will work it out.”
Member Maurice Adams, 26, of Atlanta said he was disappointed to hear the news but still considers Weeks his bishop.
“We all make mistakes. He deserves another opportunity,” Adams said. “I’m hurt, but I do respect him for being man enough to show his face today.”
Weeks took the pulpit two days after his surrender to authorities in connection with the alleged attack on Bynum. His remarks included appreciation for the prayers and support that he said have come in for him and his wife and thanks to those in attendance in spite of the controversy.
Weeks sparked thunderous applause and cheers when he asked members to tell those seated next to them: “We’ve got certain things going on right now, but I refuse to stop coming to the house God built.”
Weeks, wearing a dark suit and his customary bow tie, blamed the devil for the accusation that has him facing two felony charges. He didn’t, however, offer any specifics before introducing a guest minister who preached in his stead, then exiting the room.
The bishop is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly choking, kicking and hitting Bynum on Tuesday night in a parking lot at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel and with making terroristic threats to kill her. Both are felonies.
After turning himself in, he spent six hours in the Fulton County Jail before being released on $40,000 bond Friday.
The couple reportedly met at the Renaissance to talk about reconciliation after having been separated for several months.
Bynum, known for her fiery sermons that empower women, has been in seclusion since the attack and was not present at Sunday’s 8 a.m. service.
Global Destiny is a ministry the couple co-founded and pastor. In addition to Duluth, other church locations are in Los Angeles, Washington and London.
The charges are only the latest of Weeks’ troubles.
Authorities went to his Duluth home in June to serve an eviction notice.
Six months earlier, a former employee complained to police that Weeks got physical with her in escorting her from the church property.
Weeks is due in Fulton County Superior Court on Sept. 7.