On Easter Sunday, 2014, the Rev. Cordell Jenkins preached from his church’s stage with a passion that emboldened the congregation.
Voice rising into the microphone, the pastor at Toledo’s Abundant Life Ministries praised God’s grace. This sermon detailed how minor setbacks precede major comebacks.
“And sometimes God allows setbacks in your life, to help you re-evaluate what’s still most important. Because if things always went your way, you would not need God as much as you say you need God,” Mr. Jenkins said.
Mr. Jenkins spent this past Easter incarcerated at the Lucas County jail.
Federal authorities said he and a second Toledo pastor sex-trafficked a teenage girl.
Prosecutors this month filed charges against Mr. Jenkins, 46, of 2423 Barrington Dr. and his co-defendant, the Rev. Anthony Haynes, Sr., 38, of 4926 Ventura Dr. in South Toledo. Both men are accused of repeatedly paying the juvenile for sexual acts.
Officials said in court documents Mr. Haynes’ relationship with the girl stretched from about January, 2014, to last month. Mr. Haynes eventually introduced her to other men, including Pastor Jenkins in September, records stated.
The Blade reached out to dozens of people affiliated with either of the two defendants, including relatives, church officials who spoke at their events, and fellow church board members.
More than 30 people would not return interview requests or declined comment regarding Mr. Jenkins, and at least 15 more for Mr. Haynes.
‘Genuine and real’
Mr. Haynes led a lively, gospel-oriented church called Greater Life Christian Center, said Greg Lewis, a pastor of University Bible Fellowship in South Toledo.
Mr. Haynes’ congregation rented space from the fellowship between January and June, 2016, Mr. Lewis said. The two congregations did not intersect.
Mr. Lewis attended the Greater Life Christian Center’s worship a few times. He said there were approximately 20 people in attendance.
“All of it seemed really genuine and real,” Mr. Lewis said.
In a video posted to YouTube in March, 2014, Mr. Haynes preached about facing lies head-on at the Greater Life Christian Center. Lies cause distraction in life and sometimes you must set the record straight, he said.
“Every now and then, I don’t mean to fight my own battles but, I’ve got to clear my name, because you’re saying something about me,” Mr. Haynes said. “And if I don’t say nothing ... you’re going to think I’m a punk.”
Mr. Haynes and Mr. Jenkins both declined requests for an interview. Their attorneys have not returned calls seeking comment.
Mr. Haynes’ wife, Lisa, spoke briefly with The Blade, directing any questions to the Lucas County jail. She did not answer when asked if she knew anything about the allegations against her husband.
Mrs. Haynes visited her husband in jail on April 18, according to an inmate log. Mr. Haynes is the father to three children; two girls, ages 14 and 11, and an 18-year-old son, according to birth records. All children are approved to visit him in jail.
Mr. Haynes comes from a family of religious leaders. His mother, Rosetta Haynes, is an active pastor at Mount Hope Church of Jesus Christ in North Toledo, state records show. It is also believed his late father, Harold P. Haynes, Sr., was a bishop, according to records.
Mr. Haynes became an active pastor with Praise Temple Ministries in July, 2010, according to state records.
Other videos show Mr. Haynes leading the congregation, though no records of the church were available.
In the 2014 online video, Mr. Haynes also spoke generally about cover-ups in churches.
“We have covered up so much in the church that it looks like it’s righteous,” the preacher said. “We have covered up so much stuff in the church to where it looks like this is the right way to go. We have made it easy for folk to do things at church and everybody thinks it’s OK.”
Federal agents stated in documents filed in federal court that Mr. Haynes groomed the girl beginning when she was 14 by having her witness him having oral sex with a woman. The charges state he soon had the girl engage in oral sex with the unidentified woman and he himself had sex with the young girl, all in “an area church.”
Mr. Haynes’ home has sat quiet since his April 7 arrest. Federal agents that day lined the street and ran toward the property with guns drawn.
Neighbor Cary Wing, 66, saw more than a dozen police vehicles blocking the street.
“They were running with their vests on, locked and loaded,” Ms. Wing said. “I thought we were going to start hearing some shooting.”
The criminal accusations are “sickening,” she said.
“I hope they rot in hell,” she said.
Residents of the South Toledo neighborhood said Haynes’ family members have kept to themselves since moving to the rental property about a year ago.
Bob Gore, Sr., 70, said he noticed nothing unusual.
“I live across the street, I just saw him come and go,” Mr. Gore said. “I never saw anyone from the neighborhood stand around and talk to him.”
Andrea Hill, 47, resides nearby and typically only waved when they were outside. She has 13-year-old twin daughters and an 18-year-old daughter.
“You never really know who your neighbors are, and it’s really concerning knowing he has kids the same age,” said Mrs. Hill.
Mrs. Hill and her husband, Michael, spoke with their children about stranger danger. She said it’s a concern that Mr. Haynes lived so close, but she instructed her children not to speak to strangers.
Mr. Jenkins was born in Cleveland and in 1994 decided he, too, wanted to be a pastor. He pursued the same religious path as his father, mother, and brother.
According to his online biography page, Mr. Jenkins “received visions as a child of how Christ wanted him to serve in ministry.”
Public records show he married the Rev. Sharon Browning Jenkins in 1996. Ms. Jenkins, of Rock Hill, S.C., would not comment on why they separated.
No complaints were filed during his tenure at multiple AME churches in South Carolina, Ms. Jenkins said. Mr. Jenkins in 2002 transferred in good standing to an Oakland church, she said.
“Rev. Cordell Jenkins was a pastor in this area. His character was passed at every annual conference,” she said.
Mr. Jenkins later married Laura Lloyd-Jenkins, who now serves as Lucas County administrator. She was recently on approved leave for a health-related family matter in California, but has since returned to work.
Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins is on a leave of absence as secretary of the Lucas County Children Services board of trustees, the area’s primary child-protection agency. She declined to comment.
Pastor Jenkins moved to Toledo and founded Abundant Life Ministries, on Glendale Avenue. The church held its first service in October, 2010.
Records filed in federal court state Mr. Jenkins paid to have sex with the underage girl multiple times — in his home, an area church, and at an area Red Roof Inn, where federal agents said there are records of Pastor Jenkins renting a room and video of him and the juvenile entering and leaving the room.
The federal charging documents also state on one occasion Mr. Jenkins “pressured Juvenile #1 to find a friend for a threesome.” The girl recruited a friend, also a juvenile, and on March 21, according to the record, the three went to a Red Roof Inn where Pastor Jenkins had sex with both young girls.
“Afterwards, Jenkins paid Juvenile #2 approximately $120 to $140,” the charging document states. There was no mention if Mr. Jenkins paid Juvenile #1 that time, but later the record states: “Jenkins paid Juvenile #1 every time they had sex. The money ranged from $100 to $300 a time.”
In an interview, the Rev. Otis Gordon, Jr., of Toledo’s Warren AME Church said he was stunned by the criminal charges. He said Pastor Jenkins was kind and respectful during their previous meetings.
He knew Mr. Jenkins’ father as a pastor in Youngstown, and said the two shared a charismatic preaching style.
“I was overwhelmed. I was saddened for the church. I think that they deserve better. They deserve the spiritual leadership that God intended for them to have,” Pastor Gordon said.
During a recent sermon, Mr. Gordon said he reiterated the need to live one’s faith. The church emphasizes care for the family and children. Adults who abuse their position of trust with youth hurt everyone, he said.
“We live in a sinful world because our world is flawed,” Mr. Gordon said. “These things happen, but that does not mean we have to accept them.”
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