Sep 8, 2014

David Huskins, 1967 - 2014

David Huskins, a pentecostal minister who headed the International Communion of Charismatic Churches, has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 47.

Huskins had been sick, suffering from a heart condition. The presiding bishop of the ICCC stepped down from ministry in July after two congestive heart failures. Though he hoped his absence would be temporary, Huskins also wanted the congregants of his Atlanta-area megachurch to understand the seriousness of his situation.

"I have been told medically I am at the point of complete exhaustion while still dealing with chronic congestive heart failure," he wrote at the time. "The effects of this mini-stroke and the medicines along with the energy lost from the congestive heart failures keep me very confused, often times unable to articulate my thoughts clearly and then also all the physical limits and battles."

According to a self-identified family friend, Huskins was concerned about being permanently disabled by a stroke.

He was found dead in his home in Cedartown, Ga. on August 25, according to police.

Huskins' last Facebook message was posted the day before his death. "The prize is worth the price," it said. "These light afflictions are working a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Jesus is good all the time."

Photo: Henry Herald
Bishop David Huskins preached on grace and God's power.

Huskins, pastor of Cedar Lake Christian Center in Cedartown, took over the ICCC in 2005.

The then-23-year-old group played an important role in the global spread of pentecostalism, and has been an important feature of contemporary American pentecostalism as well.

The ICCC born out of pentecostal-Catholic dialogue, according to the organization's in-house history. Seeking to further dialogue with the Vatican, pentecostal ministers David du Plessis and Robert McAlister asked to be recognized as bishops "with special privilege to be a bridge" between the Christian traditions in 1976. The Catholic authorities suggested they seek ordination within the Anglican communion. Anglican officials turned them down, however, and, in 1978, the pentecostals proceeded to ordain themselves as bishops.

The dialogue with the Vatican ended shortly thereafter, but McAlister consecrated two more pentecostal bishops in 1981 and '82. The bishops then organized as a college, offering oversight to pentecostal churches which, traditionally, had very little hierarchy or denominational structure.

In 2014, when Huskins stepped down for health reasons, more than 4 million people on six continents  belong to churches and ministries under the umbrella of the ICCC.

Huskins was made a bishop in the ICCC 1997. He was mentored by the ICCC's long-time leader, Earl Paulk. He replaced Paulk as presiding bishop when Paulk resigned amid scandal in 2005.

Multiple women in Paulk's Atlanta megachurch had accused him of manipulating them into having sex with him. One woman alleged he'd coerced her into having sex with Paulk's brother as well, convincing her that acquiescing to his demands was necessary for her salvation. Two women in the church accused Paulk of molesting them as children. One of these accusers received $400,000 in an out-of-court settlement. A DNA test also later revealed that Paulk had impregnated his sister-in-law, and that his "nephew," also a minister in the megachurch, was actually his son.

Paulk remained in his (rapidly shrinking) megachurch after the scandals caught national attention, but Huskins asked him to leave the larger pentecostal organization in 2005. Huskins then succeed him as presiding bishop.

When Paulk died in 2009, Huskins spoke fondly of his disgraced mentor. He noted that you cannot chose your father, earthly or spiritual.

"So much of who I am and ever will be is in part due to Earl Paulk," Huskins said in a statement quoted by Charisma magazine.

Huskins acknowledge the minister's failings, but said he'd been used be God anyway. "All I know," he wrote, "is at a moment in time that only sovereign God could have orchestrated, He brought this man to the planet."

The ICCC faced another controversy under Huskins' leadership in 2010, when another Atlanta pastor and a bishop in the ICCC announced he was gay. Jim Swilley said he was motivated to come out of the closet by the news of gay teens' suicides. He made an announcement to his church on Wednesday night, and shortly thereafter resigned from the ICCC.

Huskins was widely reported as saying that Swilley was "yielding to a lifestyle that was contrary to God's word," but the quote has been contested.

Huskins was not a culture warrior, though he did get involved in politics. He served as a city council member in his hometown of White, Ga. He chaired Congreman Bob Barr's Family Task Force in 2000s, and recently gave a platform to Georgia gubernatorial candidate John Barge. For the most part, though, Huskins' emphasis was elsewhere. In a 2012 video, for example, he talked about the upcoming election and the issue of abortion, but pivoted from that to talk about being optimistic about the future.

"We should be pro-life, of course we should be pro-life," he said. "But here's the real issue ... many of us, while being pro-life, we abort dreams. And we abort vision. And we abort purpose."

Huskins' church's Youtube channel make the minister's pentecostal focus clear: It prominently features testimonies of miracles, as well as, now, tributes to the life of the late bishop.

Huskins' writings, similarly, were focused on grace and God's power. In his 2003 book The Purpose of a Covenant Heart, Huskins wrote,
If we announce to the world the grace of God, the news will ignite and activate a new spirit of faith that will birth the greatest harvest the earth has ever experienced. Grace will release the divine energy that will act like a magnetic force that will draw many to the feet of Jesus. That kind of grace does not announce our failures -- it declares our potential. Grace announces to us all that we are loved by the Father and have been washed clean by the blood of His beloved Son.
In his 2010 book Grace Shift, Huskins returned to the theme, preaching against a Christian life where people are "frustrated, burned out, and live under so much self-condemnation that they can never enjoy being God's child."

Huskins said his own understanding of God had grown over the years:
The God I knew was a God of wrath, burt the truth of His nature -- His love and grace -- were now being revealed to my heart. I began to see how the love of God drew people to Him and not the fear of hell or the dreaded 'kill all' button. For the first time in my life, I was seeing God for who He really was ...  
People were alway quick to tell me how undeserving I was, how God required a holy life I could never live, and no matter what I did, it would never be good enough to be considered 'righteous.' To make it even worse, they had Scripture to back up all of their theories and ideology. The only problem was they were grossly missing the Bible!
Huskins is survived by four sons.