Juanita Bynum: Don’t judge couple’s problems, clergy say

The alleged assault of nationally known evangelist and gospel singer Juanita Bynum by her minister husband should prompt Christians to pray, not judge, local clergy say.

Thomas W. Weeks III, known to his followers as Bishop Weeks, turned himself in to Atlanta police Friday to face charges he beat Bynum outside a hotel there earlier this week, leaving her badly bruised.

Police said the couple had met at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel’s restaurant on Tuesday to try to work out their differences before an argument in the parking lot led to the attack. Atlanta Officer Ronald Campbell said Weeks choked Bynum, 48, then “pushed her down to the ground and started to kick her and also stomp on her.”

Police said he also threatened her life. A hotel employee pulled Weeks off her, he said.

Weeks, 54, is charged with aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, both felonies, and was released from the Fulton County Jail on a combined $40,000 bond.

While expressing shock at the alleged beating, local ministers urged the faithful to kneel in prayer, not cast stones.

“It is an atrocity. It is horrible, it brings about a stain upon their ministry as leaders,” said the Rev. Marvin Sapp, a Grand Rapids minister who is a friend of the couple. “But it’s our responsibility to pray for them and the people they shepherd.”

A gospel singer and pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church on Madison Avenue SE, Sapp has sung and preached at the couple’s churches.

He said he was “blown away” when he learned of the alleged assault, but asked that people “judge not lest we be judged.”

“I don’t know what caused him to snap in that way,” Sapp said of Weeks.

“I think what he did was absolutely wrong. But (for) those of us who are spiritual, it’s our responsibility to restore him, to pray for him and show compassion.”

The Rev. Timothy Woodson, pastor of The Well of Rehoboth Church in Grand Rapids, agreed “the church should pray for these people, that God would bring resolution to their problems.”

Woodson performed with Bynum when he was in the gospel group Mighty Clouds of Joy. He called Bynum one of America’s most prominent evangelists.

While calling Weeks’ alleged behavior “not acceptable,” he cautioned believers not to judge too quickly.

“People need to realize that although we’re ministers, we’re still human beings,” Woodson said.

“We’re all capable of committing like sins. Sometimes we snap.”

Bynum and Weeks are co-founders of Global Destiny Church in Duluth, Ga.

They were married in 2002 but separated three months ago, said Bynum’s sister, Tina Culpepper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

In a statement released by her publicist this week, Bynum said she was recovering from her injuries.

Bynum is a former hairdresser and flight attendant who became a Pentecostal evangelist, author and gospel singer.

Among her books are “No More Sheets: The Truth About Sex” and “Matters of the Heart.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday August 25, 2007.
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