Church takes care of business

Superintendent of church says: ‘We are not a cult'

The Star Beacon, Ohio/May 10, 2005
By Shelley Terry

Jefferson Township - Members of the Apostolic Faith Church, Body of Jesus Christ of the Newborn Assembly, say they've been an independent church for about seven years, minding their own business - and tending businesses.

"We are not a cult," Robert Keyes, church superintendent, said Monday. "Anybody comes at anytime."

The church's public stance on its beliefs comes two days after former member Carolyn Clark, 43, was found beaten to death in her Park Avenue, Ashtabula, apartment.

Her estranged husband, Ralph Clark, 43, of Plymouth Township, has been charged with aggravated murder in the case. He is an active member in the church.

Keyes, who is the brother of the pastor, the Rev. Bishop Charles Keyes, said the congregation works together as a family. About half of the 275 or so church members work at several businesses headquartered at the Griggs Road church or at other locations in the county.

Profits from the businesses are going toward the construction of a $1.8 million octagonal worship center on Griggs Road.

The effort is a dream that began 46 years ago, when the Rev. Oree Keyes Sr. built his first church on Griggs Road. Although the Mississippi native's congregation was composed mostly of family members, he kept on preaching, saying his goal was to become more Christlike.

A dispute within the Apostolic Church of God denomination over a loan for the new building led to the local church to sever ties and become an independent church.

"They were controlling and domineering," Keyes said. "They were cult-like."

No one answered the phone Monday at the Apostolic Church of God headquarters in Franklin, Va., to respond to the allegations.

Since severing ties with the main church, Oree Keyes' son Charles became pastor of the church. The shift in power was not sanctioned by the denomination. Robert Keyes said the church businesses have flourished, thanks to his brother and the congregation's efforts.

The church's businesses include:

  • Miraculous Shine Car Detail, 3130 State Road, a car wash/ detail service;
  • Promise Landscaping, a lawn maintenance and landscaping service;
  • AFC Video Services, a video production service;
  • Jubilee Construction, a home remodeling business;
  • Heavenly View Print Shop, a desktop publishing service;
  • Glorified Beauty Salon and Hair for Less Barber Shop, at 841 Griggs Road;
  • Modest Apparel, an alterations and sewing shop; and
  • Floral Design, a silk flower service.

Keyes said the proceeds from the businesses have moved the church closer to its goal of building a new church at the corner of Griggs Road and Route 46.

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