The following open letter, has been sent to newly-appointed Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID) President Dr. Solomon Maphosa and other top leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination after several months of silence on the matter of SID Commucation Director Paul Charles' ongoing employment. Paul Charles has been the object of ongoing scrutiny from Adventist Church members after news broke of his fraudulent academic qualifications, which Charles used to advance his career. -Ed
The Matter of Paul Charles (SID Director of Communication, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty)
Follow Up from Concerned Adventists in Academia
15 September 2016
Dr. Solomon Maphosa
President, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church 27 Regency Drive, Route 21 Corporate Park
Nellmapius Drive, Irene 0174
Pretoria, South Africa
President of the General Conference (Dr. Ted Wilson)
Executive Secretary of the General Conference (Dr. GT Ng)
Associate Secretary of the General Conference (Pastor H Moorooven)
Executive Secretary of SID (Pastor Gideon Reynecke)
Chief Financial Officer of SID (Goodwell Nthani)
Director of Communication, Public Affairs & Religious Liberty, SID (Pastor Paul Charles) President of Southern Africa Union Conference (Dr David Spencer)
Executive Secretary of Southern Africa Union Conference (Pastor Trevor Kunene)
We would like to express our continued concern over the matter of Pastor Paul Charles (Director of Communication, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty at the SID), which has still not been resolved 5 months after it broke into the public domain. It has now been confirmed, that Paul Charles does not have any legitimate academic qualifications, which in itself would not have been of great concern had it not been for the following:
He claimed to have a Masters and a Doctoral degree from the Freedom Institute for Theological Studies & Research which appears to have been a diploma mill.
Although he claimed that he studied at Spicer Adventist University (India), he has never produced a copy of his Bachelor’s degree in Theology or Religious Studies, which would have been a normal requirement for appointment as a minister in the Seventh- day Adventist Church. He therefore secured his appointment as a minister in the Southern Africa Union Conference territory under false pretence.
It has also become known that Paul Charles was only at Spicer University for a very short period (not more than 2 years) and then left without completing his studies. And it was in that very same year, 1997, (when he left Spicer University) that he “acquired” the Master of Divinity degree from Freedom Institute for Theological Studies & Research. This is clear evidence that his M.Div. degree was fraudulent (“acquired” within a few months after leaving Spicer University before completing his undergraduate degree). He then subsequently “earned” the Doctor of Philosophy (Missiology) degree in March 2001.
He knowingly misrepresented his qualifications to the church in order to be employed as a minister. He even approached (in 1999/2000) a government institution, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which is a dispute resolution body established in terms of the South African Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 (LRA), where he laid false charges against the church. He arm-twisted and threatened the church to employ him based on his academic “qualifications” which evidently were illegitimate.
On the basis of these considerations, it is evident that Paul Charles was deliberately dishonest and knowingly made false claims about his academic qualifications. This is not a case of someone who actually studied at an unaccredited institution, but of someone who took deliberate steps to get what looks like degree certificates without going through the required studies.
Fraudulent degrees have become a matter of great concern across the world, including in the countries of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division. In some countries (e.g. South Africa), it is considered a criminal offence that can be pursued legally through the laying of charges against an organisation or an individual with the South African Police Services.
It is also on record that Paul Charles has claimed to have earned a second doctoral degree. These claims have been made by him in writing as well as in sermons he has preached, as well as in seminars and presentations he conducted. Once again these claims were made as “testimony” to what God has done for him, given his humble childhood. He was also on Hope Channel TV on a program with Kandus Thorp, where he claimed to the entire global Adventist community as well as non-Adventist viewers, that he has studied for two doctoral degrees and was studying for another degree at the University of South Africa. This is the link for the Hope Channel TV interview (It was removed by Hope Channel, but has since been uploaded by another party. Hope Channel is taking steps to have it removed again. -Ed).
It is on the basis of the above that it is evident that Paul Charles does not have the moral and ethical characteristics, nor does he have the integrity required of a minister in the Seventh- day Adventist Church. It is our strong conviction that the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division and the General Conference have a moral and indeed a spiritual obligation to act on this matter for the sake of God’s name, integrity and image and for the sake of the church, which is the body of Christ on earth. The Seventh-day Adventist church takes its calling to be the remnant church of these last days seriously and we endeavour to do all that we can to represent Jesus Christ to the world. This explains why we set very high moral and ethical standards and expect that we all prayerfully live up to these. Our church disciplinary processes (which apply to all, including church workers), in as much as they are redemptive, are also meant to help us demonstrate to all our deep abhorrence for sin and everything that brings God’s name into disrepute.
It is therefore untenable to have Paul Charles continue to serve in a leadership role in the Church, and represent the Church in the public sphere, while it is public knowledge that he has falsely claimed (for 15 years) to have the aforementioned academic qualifications.
We therefore need to heed the call by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5: 22, to “abstain from all appearance of evil”. It is crucial that the SID leadership urgently acts to facilitate due process on this matter and take appropriate action on his future as a worker in the Adventist Church. This is important in order to restore the trust and respect in ethical leadership, which have been deeply eroded over the last few months.
It would be erroneous for the SID to believe that ignoring this matter or treating it like a trivial issue will make it simply go away, because as long as it is not resolved, it will continue to surface and will distract the church from focusing on its mission.
We hope and pray that God guides and leads His church as we deal with this matter.
Dr. Alvin Masarira, PrEng
Structural Engineering Consultant
&Visiting Academic: University of Cape Town and University of Johannesburg
A/Prof. Edward Chamisa
Department of Finance and Tax
University of Cape Town; South Africa
Mr. Clinton Plaatjes
Executive IT Country Manager
Mr. Pitso Tsibolane
Lecturer: Department of Information Systems
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Dr. Bernhard Ficker
(Retired Academic) Associate Director of Research
Cape Peninsula University of Technology Cape Town, South Africa
Dr. Misheck Ndebele
School of Education
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Dr. Fusi Madela
Specialist General Surgeon
Addington Hospital University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban, South Africa
Dr. Ron du Preez
Retired & Part-Time Pastor-Arizona Conference, NAD & Adjunct /Online Professor:
Adventist University of Africa (Kenya); Andrews University (Mich., USA)
Southern Adventist University (Tenn., USA)
Prof. Mziwoxolo Sirayi
Executive Dean: Faculty of the Arts
Tshwane University of Technology Pretoria, South Africa
A/Prof. Dr. John Akokpari
Department of Political Studies
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Mr. Wandile Bangisi
Pastoral Counsellor, Pretoria
Professor Chuma Himonga
Faculty of Law
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Mr. Zolani Simayi
Lecturer: Department of Precilinical Studies
University of Limpopo, South Africa
Dr. Jeff Crocombe
Pacific Adventist University
Papua New Guinea
(Lecturer: Helderberg College, South Africa) 2006 - 2011
Mr. Bongani Khonjwayo
Researcher and HR Policy Development Specialist
Durban, South Africa
Dr. Motsamai Molefe
Lecturer: Ethics Unit
University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
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