Former members of Ernest Angley’s congregation say people who leave the church are not only shunned, but also often criticized by name during services.
Perhaps no one has been subjected to more venom than former Associate Pastor Brock Miller, who stepped down July 4.
Miller told friends and family that he left because he had been “violated” by Angley for seven years and could no longer take it.
Angley “had him undress and touched him all over,” said a family member who did not want to be identified because many members of the large family are still devout followers. “I don’t believe he touched him on his part, but it doesn’t matter. That doesn’t belong in the church. It doesn’t belong anywhere, but it [certainly] doesn’t belong in the church.”
When asked whether Angley explained the reason for the touching, the person replied, “[Miller] was receiving ‘a special anointing.’?”
Miller’s departure sparked so much conversation that church leaders addressed the situation during a Sunday service on July 13. A recording of the service was shared with the Beacon Journal.
The Rev. Chris Machamer, an associate pastor, did most of the talking. He declared, among other things, that Miller is “a proven liar.”
He read an email allegedly written by the former pastor at 2:59 a.m. to an unnamed, married “young lady,” thanking her for sharing her Percocet with him.
Machamer claimed Miller is a drug addict whose motivation for the “lies” was obvious: “Brock simply wanted to take control of the church after Rev. Angley dies,” he told the gathering.
Angley himself weighed in next, calling Miller’s allegations “dirty lies [from] someone who committed adultery.”
The 93-year-old preacher added, “Brock has been ... getting drunk. He was like a zombie. I gave him four hours [in a meeting], but it didn’t do any good. There was not enough to work with.”
Usher Mike Kish joined the parade, telling the congregation, “You’re not fighting flesh and blood. You’re fighting the devil himself, straight from the pits of hell.”
Kish said Miller’s goal was to persuade both Machamer and Angley to step down so Miller could take over.
Added Kish: “Brock Miller’s claims to being homosexually molested — they sound like some kind of horror-flick gay porno thing. The stories are just unbelievable.”
But more than a dozen former members of Grace Cathedral believe those stories. They say the July 13 assault on Brock Miller’s character was an unjustified smear campaign against someone who simply could no longer submit to Angley’s perversion.
‘Nothing to gain’
Miller, 29, did not initiate this series of stories. In fact, he declined repeated requests for interviews. A family member says he is “pretty devastated right now, and humiliated and embarrassed.”
The family member asked to emphasize that Miller did not accuse Angley of being a “homosexual,” but rather of “violating” him.
Miller grew up idolizing Angley. His mother was a close friend and associate of Angley’s who worked at the Cuyahoga Falls church for 30 years. Brock Miller had absolutely no incentive to fabricate the story, the relative says; in fact, he had plenty of incentive not to.
Speaking about Miller and his wife of 10 years, Candace, the family member said: “They had nothing to gain. They had to move out of their house, which was owned by the church. They were home-schooled and have no further education. They have no jobs. They had to move in with another family member. They have nothing to gain by coming forward with this.”
Angley said during an interview in his office that the problem began when he went on an extended overseas mission trip and left Miller in charge of the regular church services, which were well-received.
“The people — you know how people are — [were] bragging on him. And I was dictating the messages to him. They didn’t know it. And I think he got the big head. ... He stopped praying and seeking God and lost his anointing.”
A reporter, noting that Miller was called “a liar, a drug addict, an alcoholic and an adulterer” during the service, asked, “Wouldn’t it have been better just to say, ‘He had personal problems and we’re praying he will be able to straighten himself out?’?”
“We had to do it,” Angley responded. “They were really fighting. ... It was awful stuff. They wanted money. We had to do it.”
Angley produced a short, typed statement signed by Sarah Coger, a church employee, that says one of Miller’s close family members told her she planned to demand $100,000 in hush money.
The letter also said Coger was told that Miller wasn’t claiming Angley touched his genitals.
“Now we have the lowdown that clears me of any touching of his privates,” Angley said.
When asked whether he regularly told Miller to undress and touched him all over, calling it a “special anointing,” Angley replied, “Oh, just tell anything. Just tell anything. They are the biggest liars.”
Some of the former church members who talked with the Beacon Journal said a similar wave of defections took place in the mid-1990s. They said about 200 members departed after word circulated that an assistant pastor had resigned because he found out about sex acts between Angley and a parishioner.
(Church officials declined to provide the current size of the congregation.)
Some male ex-churchgoers say they weren’t surprised by Miller’s allegations, because Angley took an inordinate amount of interest in their own genitalia.
As was reported in the first installment of this series, Angley routinely brings men into his office to examine them before and after vasectomies, which he allegedly urges all of his male churchgoers to undergo.
“You’re not a medical doctor,” a reporter said during the interview. “Why would you examine men’s genitals before and after vasectomies?”
“The swelling,” Angley responded. “Some of them would swell awful. I didn’t touch them, I just prayed for them. And then, I’d get success for most of them. And if they didn’t go down, I would insist they go to the doctor. And guys don’t like to go to doctors, I’ll tell you. ...
“One of them, one of his testicles fell out. And he didn’t know what to do.”
Reporter: “Actually ‘fell out’? Wouldn’t he be screaming in agony and calling 9-1-1?”
Angley: “Well, that wasn’t for me to do. You see, I wanted him to get to the doctor.”
Reporter: “I can’t believe he could even function.”
Angley: “He did. He was frightened enough to go. And the doctor appreciates me sending — looking after them.”
According to former church members, Angley’s interest in male body parts was not limited to pre- and post-op inspections.
Kenny Montgomery, 43, who owns a mobile dog-grooming business in Akron, said a counseling session with Angley took a shocking turn.
“My wife and I were having problems because we were working all week and in church all weekend,” he said. “We started to go our separate ways and weren’t having sex anymore.
“I [talked] to Ernest about that, because you’re not allowed to see an outside counselor, because an outside counselor has a ‘Doctorate of Devils,’ as he calls it.
“He asked me, ‘Do you do oral sex on her?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know what that has to do with it.’ And then he puts his hands over his mouth and starts stroking his chin and licking his lips. This is creepy.
“And he goes, ‘So, are you large?’ And I go, ‘What do you mean?’ And he says, ‘Your penis — is it really large?’ And I got kind of pissed. I go, ‘You know, I never sat around and compared it with another man’s.’
“He backed right off when I said that. He says, ‘Well, you just need to pray to God and seek God more and all this will be better’ — and pretty much shoved me out of his office.”
Another former member of the congregation, a 30-year-old male who did not want his identity revealed because his brother is still highly involved in the church, said Angley had a similar conversation with him.
“I was in his office 9, 10 months ago, discussing an issue with my girlfriend,” he said. “He was asking me, in a nutshell, why I was so frisky all the time. He said, ‘Is it because you have a big penis?’?”
Former churchgoer Becky Roadman, who left last year after 13 years of membership, said, “Angley had my husband in his office and sat right next to him on the couch asking him details about his penis.”
Said Angley: “It’s all kinds of tales. But if I traced down every lie, I wouldn’t get nothing else done. Jesus didn’t, and I try to be just as much like him as I can.”
Greg Mulkey of Barberton, whose parents first took him to Grace Cathedral when he was 1˝, was a star at the church during his late teens and early 20s. He was a singer in the Hallelujahs, a group featured on Angley’s TV broadcasts, and was a prominent member of the church choir.
“Because of my position in the spotlight,” he said, “I had a lot of people confide in me.” Among them: his lifelong friend Chris Machamer, the current associate pastor.
“They were getting ready to do a play,” Mulkey recalled. “Chris was playing the part of Jesus, hanging on the cross or whatever, and he had to wear a loincloth. He [told] me, ‘Ernest had me come in his office and he wanted to make sure that the loincloth looked just right and everything.’ And I said, ‘Oh, OK. Did it look right?’ He said, ‘Yeah. But you know what? He had me pull it down.’
“I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yeah, he wanted to make sure I was shaved and everything so no hair would show.
“And I go, ‘Hmmmm.’ I just filed that one back because that one didn’t sound right.”
When asked about Mulkey’s report, Machamer said, “No, that never happened. We had plays. I did play the part of Jesus.”
When asked why someone would fabricate a story like that, Machamer said: “That’s a good question. That’s a good question.”
Angley said, “I never heard of that.”
NEXT: Former members say Angley’s influence and vindictiveness have ripped families asunder.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31.