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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – November 21, 2007
Running into the fire.
That is how the Rev. D.E. Paulk describes returning 15 months ago to take the helm of his family-run, scandal-plagued Cathedral at Chapel Hill in Decatur.
He knew the rumor was floating around that he was born of an adulterous liaison between his mother and her brother-in-law, Bishop Earl Paulk.
“I never really thought that it really could be true,” he said Tuesday.
But it was, proved this fall by a paternity test ordered by a court because of a lawsuit.
The suit is over an affair Bishop Paulk is accused of having with a former church member. Plaintiff Mona Brewer declined comment.
There is a long list of women who made similar claims of affairs.
Financial problems were eating away at the church because more than 9,000 members left what was once a nationally known powerhouse among independent charismatic churches. Now, it is known for a long string of embarrassing revelations.
And the bishop, whom D.E. still calls his uncle, and the Rev. Don Paulk, the man D.E. knows as his father, are still involved in the church. Don Paulk helped build the church and had an adultery problem of his own more than 15 years ago. Both men remain married.
D.E. Paulk told his congregation the results of the test last month. He expects the revelation of his paternity will cause more damage to the church, and some former members agree.
Johnny Enlow, who once led a singles ministry at the cathedral, said, “At first, there is the crisis and emergency and a rallying factor. But after it settles in, there is a trickle effect of people leaving.”
Bob Ditzler said under the old leadership, it was difficult to leave.
Ditzler, a 20-year member of the church who left four years ago, said fellow church members would point to members who left the church because of its leadership and later got cancer or had drug problems.
“It’s like you have left the will of God and you are going to hell if you leave,” said Ditz-ler. “And you have to get past that. You have fear for your family, and it took a lot for us to leave.”
Ditzler, who now attends North Point Community Church’s Alpharetta site, said he has friends who remain members of Paulk’s church, but they avoid talking about the cathedral and its problems.
D.E. Paulk took the other course, returning to his troubled home church, leaving behind a healthy church of 300 in Stone Mountain, and talking openly about the problems.
You do it for the congregation, he said. You do it for God. And you do it for the sake of your own messed up, sinful family.
As for the current trials, “The fire is necessary to burn the religious ropes that bind us,” he said.
Those ropes include the personality-driven faith that the bishop used to build the church that has dwindled to about 1,500 members.
“If your faith is in a man . . . that is a form of idolatry,” D.E. Paulk said.
Neither of the two elder Paulk pastors will grant interviews, said Brandi Paulk, D.E.’s wife and an associate minister.
Bishop Paulk still gives brief homilies of 10 minutes or so on Sundays.
D.E. Paulk has refused to shove the bishop aside, despite his failings.
“Biblically, we are taught to restore,” he said.
“Actually, I think [sinners] gain more value, when you walk through the fire, when you’ve made mistakes, you really have a reservoir of wealth to share with people.”
And the bishop is reaping the harvest he sowed over the years, the younger man said.
He lost his good name. He lost money and respect and damaged family relationships. He has suffered from cancer, having his bladder removed because of the disease.
“I don’t have to make sure he is punished. The universe got him,” D.E. Paulk said.
“He is a shell of a man.”
And the lawsuit remains to be tried. Bobby and Mona Brewer allege Bishop Paulk seduced Mona, resulting in an affair of several years. They withdrew a suit early this year, but both refiled separate suits in June and September.
Louis Levenson, their attorney, said they filed separate suits for strategic reasons. They are still together.
Levenson said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation also requested documents from him for a criminal investigation of Paulk, but wouldn’t elaborate.
A spokesman for the GBI declined to comment.
Copyright 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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