Laughing Pastor Ron Clark

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					             Laughing Pastor Ron Clark
                Went Down In Flames Crying
    Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good
conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned
aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they
say nor the things which they affirm. 1 Timothy 1:5-7
    This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a
good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate,
sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not
violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who
rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a
man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of
God?); 1 Timothy 3:1-5
Rodney Howard-Browne, a South African minister associated with the Third Wave
Movement and now resides in Tampa, Florida, is the recognized "Father" of holy
laughter. He claims to have had his first experience with these phenomena in 1979,
while challenging God to "touch me" or Howard-Browne was going "to come up there
and touch You." God apparently responded by causing him to feel as if his body was
on fire and he broke out in uncontrollable laughter (see Howard-Browne's book, The
Touch of God). In 1989, while preaching in New York State, his congregation fell under
the same power. Soon Howard-Browne began influencing others, but on a small scale.
Then, while preaching at Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland, Florida, in 1993,
laughter in the Spirit once again broke out bringing Howard-Browne out of obscurity.
But what happened during the revival in Carpenter’s Home Church during the revival
was not a joke. http://crooksaog.tripod.com/
Howard-Browne calls himself a "Holy Ghost Bartender," and dispenses the "new wine"
of joy that leads to people being "drunk in the Spirit." He claims to find the Biblical base
for his teaching in Acts 2, at the day of Pentecost. But a careful study of that text does
not reveal anything like what is happening today. The apostles were not laughing
uncontrollably, they were not barking like dogs, they were not stuck to the floor in Holy
Ghost glue, they were not being "slain in the Spirit. And one of the persons who loved
being “drunk in the Spirit” and breakout in uncontrollable laughter was Pastor Ron Clark
of Living Water Church in Tampa Florida, a close friend of Rodney Howard Browne and
Bishop Randy White of Church Without Walls, Tampa, Florida.
A person can only judge things by what he knows and has experienced himself
and not by the experience of others. Well our experience with pastors and
churches over the twenty five years has been a dismal failure and disappointment
especially with a husband and wife team of pastors. James Brant wrote to me and
stated:
Paul wrote to Timothy in 1st and 2nd Timothy about how to run the church.
Throughout the epistles Paul (through the unction of the Holy Spirit) teaches the
people how the church services should be conducted (spiritual gifts, etc.). James
was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem.
I wrote to Mr. Brant and told him that his remark was completely hogwash!
First you have not defined what a pastor is and what he does in line with the New
Testament church. You quote the book of Timothy as to how to run and church
and conveniently ignore the fact that most evangelical churches don't have
Bishops and their pastors are not men of integrity never mind being true men of
God.
For the record in every church that my wife and I attended in the last twenty five
years there was a real scandal in the church involving the pastor including people
like Pastor Ron Clark of Living Water Church in Tampa Florida a personal friend of
Oral Roberts.
I only knew one pastor who had love from a pure heart, from a good conscience,
and from sincere faith, and all the rest were liars, thieves and idiots! None of the
pastors I knew ruled their own house well and definitely didn't have their children
in submission. As a matter of fact they were and are real hypocrites and deceived
ones. My last pastor not only filed for personal bankruptcy but his wife literally
wore the pants in the family and that was only the tip of the iceberg of all that was
wrong in his ministry and pastoral position.
Yes most of them departed from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and
doctrines of demons. Yes those who are sinning are to be rebuked in the presence
of all, that the rest also may fear just like Paul instructed Timothy to do.
Yes most of them were proud, knowing nothing, and could not defend their
theological position and were full of envy, strife, and reviling, evil suspicion. And
they all desired to be rich fell into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish
and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. They were not
rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a
good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. They
didn't pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out
of a pure heart. They were hypocrites who were written about in the newspapers
for all to see and read. They were lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters,
proud, disobedient, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control,
traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Read
about one of them, Pastor Ron Clark Living Water Church Tampa Florida.
In the last few years I have picked up on some strange going on in what I consider
cult churches led by a Charismatic leader. The Pentecostal pastor prophesies
special prophecies in church publicly over different members that God is going to
make them millionaires, make them super anointed, give them a world wide
ministry, or give them great fame! As a result the members are hooked on their
wonderful pastor who prophesies good things even though over the years none of
the prophecy had ever come to fruitrition. And the pastor attributed it all to lack of
faith or unbelief or hidden sin on the part of the member that his prophesies failed
rather than because of pastor's own sins, faults and failures.
 About six years ago in Living Water Church, Tampa, Florida, when we were there
Oral Roberts in person prophesied that God was going to raise up many
millionaires in the church who would be rich and support the work of the kingdom.
A few months ago I checked with the St. Petersburg Times to see what was
happening with the Living Water Church? And boy was I surprised! The church
filed for Bankruptcy. Since 1992 this large church was not able to meet it budget.
And then the Pastor Ron Clark and Belinda had gone off the deep end with a
public divorce which only compounded the matter.
Living Water, a once-thriving, 2,000-member non-denominational Christian church,
sought protection from creditors in bankruptcy court last October. By then, the
church's checking account balance had dwindled to $60 and the congregation had
fewer than 500 members.
Congregants left as details emerged from the divorce of Ronald and Belinda Clark,
the couple who founded Living Water in 1988. Ronald Clark accused his wife of
being mentally ill, unfaithful and a thief. Belinda Clark claimed in court papers that
her husband had a secret plan to sell the church and funnel the proceeds
overseas with the help of church board chairman Melvin Myer.
The rancorous divorce of the Clarks began to attract publicity a year ago, and has
been blamed for the defection of nearly three of every four members at the Living
Water Church, which was founded by the couple in 1988.
Ronald Clark, the $138,000-a-year church pastor, accused his wife of being
unfaithful, suffering from mental illness, dabbling in pornography and stealing
church mail filled with Easter church donations. It turned out that Pastor Ron
enforced tithing in his church and collected three offerings per service, but he,
himself, never tithed!
Belinda Clark, Living Water's $70,000-a-year associate pastor who was fired in the
wake of the allegations, accused her husband of domestic violence, of lying to
church trustees to ruin her credibility and of having a secret plan to sell the church,
place the proceeds in a trust, then have funds funneled to him at a foreign
location.
Hence I am very suspicious of prophets who only prophesy good things happening
to people and not telling them to repent from their hidden sins.

                      Pastor Ron Clark Fired!
Doug Boettcher, chief financial officer for Family Harvest, said Clark was
terminated because he was "unable to perform his tasks." The church hired Clark
to develop missions abroad.
George E. Tragos, a Clearwater criminal defense lawyer retained by [Ronald
Clark], said Clark and Family Harvest "mutually agreed to part" because of
continuing bad publicity.
Ronald Clark has denied violating any IRS rules, and Tragos said there has "never
been a shred of proof" that Clark had committed any wrongful act alleged in media
reports.
….The fortunes of Living Water, once some 2,000 members strong, plummeted
amid the Clarks' rancorous divorce. The congregation split, then began to defect
as the couple hurled accusations at one another last year.
Ronald Clark accused his wife of being mentally unstable, unfaithful and
fascinated by pornography. Belinda Clark responded with a slander suit, a
domestic violence complaint and a claim that her husband had a secret plan to sell
the church and funnel the proceeds to himself.
Ronald Clark resigned as pastor a year ago and was hired by Family Harvest
Church of Tinley Park, Ill., which donated its name, pastoral services and cash to
keep Living Water afloat.
After Living Water filed for bankruptcy protection in October, Family Harvest bid
$3.1-million to buy the church but later withdrew, citing adverse publicity. Now, it
has broken ties with Ronald Clark as well.
Clark filed papers in his Pasco County divorce case last month, saying he had
been "terminated from his employment through no fault of his own." He has asked
for relief from his obligation to pay temporary alimony to his wife and child support
for their two children.
Doug Boettcher, chief financial officer for Family Harvest, said Clark was
terminated because he was "unable to perform his tasks." The church hired Clark
to develop missions abroad.
"He's been the victim of a lot of false allegations," Boettcher said. "We've waited
and tried to be patient. But from a business standpoint, we need to move on."
Aside from his marital problems, Ronald Clark faces a personal bankruptcy and a
criminal investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.
George E. Tragos, a Clearwater criminal defense lawyer retained by Ronald Clark,
said Clark and Family Harvest "mutually agreed to part" because of continuing bad
publicity.
Ronald Clark has denied violating any IRS rules, and Tragos said there has "never
been a shred of proof" that Clark had committed any wrongful act alleged in media
reports.

   Judge approves Living Water Church sale
JEFF TESTERMAN. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jun 18, 2004.
 As IRS investigators seek more records in a criminal inquiry involving Living
Water Church co-founder Ronald Clark, a bankruptcy judge Thursday approved
the sale of the church property for $3.4- million.
The sale, to New Jerusalem Christian Church of Seffner, was approved despite a
bank appraisal showing the 16-acre church property on Interstate 4 is worth $3.9-
million.
"This was considered a distress sale," said Buddy Ford, Living Water's bankruptcy
attorney. "I would have liked to get $3.9- million. But this was the best bid we got."
Living Water, a once-thriving, 2,000-member non-denominational Christian church,
sought protection from creditors in bankruptcy court last October. By then, the
church's checking account balance had dwindled to $60 and the congregation had
fewer than 500 members.
Congregants left as details emerged from the divorce of Ronald and Belinda Clark,
the couple who founded Living Water in 1988. Ronald Clark accused his wife of
being mentally ill, unfaithful and a thief. Belinda Clark claimed in court papers that
her husband had a secret plan to sell the church and funnel the proceeds
overseas with the help of church board chairman Melvin Myer.
In March, the IRS issued a summons for bank records in a criminal investigation of
Ronald Clark. This week, the IRS sought financial records from the church,
according to Ford. Ford said he would comply with the IRS request.
Ronald Clark, who has resigned as Living Water's pastor, has retained Clearwater
criminal defense attorney George Tragos and has denied violating any IRS rules.
Thursday, Ford also obtained an order from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas E.
Baynes Jr. to quash a subpoena served last week on Myer, Living Water's board
chairman. The subpoena compelled Myer to give a sworn deposition today and
provide church records pertaining to Belinda Clark's statement that the church
owes her $300,000 in retirement benefits.
Citing declining health, Myer resigned his chairman position last week while a
process server for Mrs. Clark was attempting to serve the subpoena at Myer's
financial consulting office in Tampa.
Myer sent Ford a letter of resignation dated June 10, along with a letter from his
physician. In the letter, Dr. John Q. Stauffer advised Myer that he should reduce
his business load and and "disengage from any legal matters or other matters that
may bring stress into your life."
Thursday morning, Ford said Myer had rescinded his resignation. Ford said he
urged Myer to reconsider so he can assist in completing the sale of the church.
Myer does intend to comply with the subpoena at a later date, Ford said.
Myer did not return phone calls from the St. Petersburg Times.
Baynes has scheduled a hearing in August to take testimony on the issue of any
retirement benefits owed to Belinda Clark. Funds from the church sale will be held
in escrow until the question of any award to her is settled, Ford said.

                     Clarks Saga Continues
JEFF TESTERMAN. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Mar 12, 2004.
Abstract (Document Summary)
The IRS has opened a criminal investigation of Rev. Ronald H. Clark, the
charismatic founder of the Living Water Church of Tampa who was accused in
divorce papers of devising a secret plan to channel church assets to himself at an
overseas mission.
The Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS issued a summons to SunTrust
Bank in Orlando on Feb. 17 to deliver bank records pertaining to Clark and nine
corporations, including the Living Water Church and two nonprofit foreign
missions, according to documents obtained by the Times.
The summons compels the bank to deliver banking, retirement account, payroll,
loan and other records on Ronald and Belinda Clark to Special Agent Elizabeth
Belcher at the IRS office in Tampa next week. The Clarks maintained the Orlando
bank account after buying a home in Celebration, a community near Disney World
outside Orlando.
Belcher declined to answer questions about the summons Thursday.
IRS spokeswoman Alycyn Culbertson also said she could not discuss the
summons. Culbertson did say there must be "an official investigation" before a
summons is served to obtain banking and other financial records.
In an e-mail to the Times, Clark said he was unaware of any subpoena by the IRS
or of any investigation of him by any agency. He said he had broken no IRS laws
or regulations.
Clark asked that a copy of the summons be forwarded to his divorce lawyer, Dade
City attorney Dennis Alfonso. Alfonso said he, too, was unaware of any IRS
investigation into Clark.
"I can only say that, given the contentious nature of the divorce case, it doesn't
surprise me that he might have allegations made to the IRS," Alfonso said. "There
have been a lot of allegations since I've been representing Ron, but I've yet to see
anything substantiated."
The rancorous divorce of the Clarks began to attract publicity a year ago, and has
been blamed for the defection of nearly three of every four members at the Living
Water Church, which was founded by the couple in 1988.
Ronald Clark, the $138,000-a-year church pastor, accused his wife of being
unfaithful, suffering from mental illness, dabbling in pornography and stealing
church mail filled with Easter church donations.
Belinda Clark, Living Water's $70,000-a-year associate pastor who was fired in the
wake of the allegations, accused her husband of domestic violence, of lying to
church trustees to ruin her credibility and of having a secret plan to sell the church,
place the proceeds in a trust, then have funds funneled to him at a foreign
location.
Neither Belinda Clark nor her Dade City attorney, Jack Hoogewind, would
comment about the IRS investigation.
Ronald Clark resigned his church post in June 2003 and later sought protection
from creditors in federal bankruptcy court.
Owners of a $500,000 home and horse ranch in Dade City and a $275,000 home
in Celebration, the Clarks also had $700,000 in debts.
On Feb. 20, three days after the issuance of the IRS summons, Clark filed papers
in his bankruptcy case saying he needed to hire an accountant for, among other
reasons, "assistance in defending/ objecting to the pending claim of the Internal
Revenue Service, if any."
Clark's bankruptcy attorney, Matthew J. Kovschak, did not return calls Thursday.
With Living Water attendance and collections plummeting, the evangelical
Christian church went to bankruptcy court last year to reorganize its finances.
The church had just $60 in its checking account and $3.4-million in liabilities when
it filed bankruptcy papers.
After leaving Living Water, Ronald Clark took a position with a wealthy Illinois non-
denominational organization called Family Harvest Church, which in August took
over the operation of the Living Water Church on Interstate 4.
Living Water officials initially sought to sell the church's 16- acre property to Family
Harvest for $3.1-million, well below a recent appraisal of $4.5-million, but have
since decided to auction the property to the highest bidder in early April to meet
creditors' demands and facilitate building a new church.
Although at least one former Living Water board member said he has been
interviewed by IRS agents, the news of the federal investigation appeared to take
others by surprise.
"Wow, that's pretty serious," said Living Water board chairman Melvin Myer. "This
is not a good thing.
"But there isn't any off-shore money I'm aware of. I don't know of any inappropriate
handling of funds on my watch."
Buddy Ford, a Tampa attorney handling the Living Water bankruptcy, said he was
unaware of the IRS investigation, but said he doubted it was initiated on flimsy
grounds.
"I've seen (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division investigations in the past, and
before they open an investigation there has to be an underlying reason to do so,"
Ford said.
The IRS summons seeks records pertaining to Ronald Clark's Real Life
Productions Inc., which handled his evangelical broadcasts; Magnolia Stables Inc.,
the company overseeing the Clarks' horse stables; Family Hair Care, a Dade City
salon which lists Ronald Clark as an officer; Swalley Ministries, a company formed
with a former music minister, and Global Medical Missions and Global Medical
Relief, two companies set up to provide food and medical assistance in Haiti and
China with Dr. John Gentri, a Brandon physician.
Gentri said he worked without salary and never knew much about the business
side of the foreign missions.
He said he was frustrated when Ronald Clark reneged on a promise to provide
church funds to feed Haitian children, then backed away from the mission work
altogether to concentrate on TV evangelism.
"I think they were supposed to give us $3,000 a month, but we begged for every
penny," Gentri said. "We were always behind.
"Then Ron said he couldn't afford it any longer. He said he had to make a choice
between supporting his church and supporting the mission. I didn't believe him.
But I absolutely didn't know what went on with the money."
Gentri said he now runs the mission in Haiti through private donations.
He said he left Living Water Church after he learned that Ronald Clark was telling
other church members that Gentri had diagnosed Belinda Clark as mentally ill
when he had offered no such opinions.


 Tampa church imperiled by pastors' bitter divorce
                    St. Petersburg Times; St. Petersburg, Fla.;
                        Jun 1, 2003; JEFF TESTERMAN;


Abstract:
The allegations derive from an affidavit filed by Linda Gestrin, [Ronald Clark]'s
sister. Gestrin said he revealed his plan to her in a phone call in February, saying
[Belinda Clark] was "crazy" and "out of control," and adding that his plan would cut
Belinda out of alimony, leaving her "half of nothing."
[Jack Hoogewind] says in court documents that the church never deducted Social
Security or Medicare payments from her paycheck, nor paid any money into the
Social Security system on her behalf. Instead, Hoogewind says, Ronald Clark told
Belinda that the church was paying into a retirement fund for her in lieu of
payments to Social Security.
Ronald Clark filed for divorce when Belinda was fired, saying she tried to ruin his
credibility at the church. Ronald Clark also said his wife had made "delusional
claims" that he was attempting to kill her after taking out a $1-million life insurance
policy on her.
Full Text:
Copyright Times Publishing Co. Jun 1, 2003
Fifteen years ago, the Rev. Ronald Clark and his wife, Belinda, brought their
evangelical fervor, organizational talent and youthful good looks to the task of
founding the Living Water Church of Tampa.
They started in a Holiday Inn meeting room with five members. The charismatic
Christian church ultimately grew to a congregation of more than a thousand, big
enough to spin off an international relief mission.
The growth sent the church from a storefront to a warehouse to the $5-million
cluster of buildings off Interstate 4, where church services today are advertised by
a flashing electronic sign.
But good times have given way to turmoil at the Living Water Church.
A rancorous divorce proceeding between the Clarks has chased away
parishioners, undermined church finances and left its future in doubt.
The marital discord has lawyers filing papers in two counties.
The Clarks' conflict has spawned a domestic violence petition, a criminal complaint
about missing church donations, a slander suit, a lien on the church to prevent its
sale and a lawsuit aimed at dissolving that lien.
"Hopefully for the church, the anger will settle down," said Arnold Levine, a Tampa
lawyer representing Ronald Clark. "But if this is going to be the battle of the ages,
I'm sure the church is going to be impacted."
At the center of the dispute is the valuable church property. Belinda Clark has
taken the unusual action of asking a judge to declare the property a marital asset,
so that she can share in the distribution of funds earned from the property.
Her success would likely end the Living Water Church in its current location, and
might trigger landmark tax consequences.
Tax exemptions in peril
The church property is owned by a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation and run by a
board of trustees.
If the property is determined to be an asset of the Clarks, church leaders worry,
then its tax exemption might be void, and the exemption for all donations to the
church over the years might be void, too.
Levine discounts that possibility.
"It's just absurd," he says. "The church is in the title of the nonprofit, and no one
has any ownership interest but the nonprofit. It's for the benefit of the
parishioners."
Nonetheless, Belinda Clark's Dade City attorney, Jack Hoogewind, has asked for
an emergency hearing next week to consider a motion to freeze the church's
assets so a judge can determine if the Living Water Church is a marital asset.
Hoogewind claims in court papers that Ronald Clark had a secret plan to sell the
church, then place the proceeds in a trust that would feed him money in a ministry
he would establish out of the country.
The allegations derive from an affidavit filed by Linda Gestrin, Ronald Clark's
sister. Gestrin said he revealed his plan to her in a phone call in February, saying
Belinda Clark was "crazy" and "out of control," and adding that his plan would cut
Belinda out of alimony, leaving her "half of nothing."
Levine said Gestrin's claims are baseless and that she was in adispute with
Ronald Clark over some personal effects. Levine also said the church for some
months has considered selling its I-4 property to move to a more family-friendly
location in the suburbs.
Ronald Clark, 46, known as "Reverend Ron" to his congregation, moved to the
Living Water Church's current location 10 years ago. He is the founder of Global
Medical Relief, a humanitarian mission that built a hospital in China and clinics in
Haiti, according to the church's Web site.
Rev. Clark, who received a doctorate from Oral Roberts University, is the author of
Sailing Through the Storms of Life and Can a Christian Love a Muslim? He
presided over the memorial service for Hillsborough State Attorney Harry Lee Coe
at the Living Water Church in July 2000.
Belinda Clark, 41, served as an associate pastor at the Living Water Church for 10
years, but was fired from her $70,000-a-year job by the board of trustees in March.
Hoogewind says in court documents that the church never deducted Social
Security or Medicare payments from her paycheck, nor paid any money into the
Social Security system on her behalf. Instead, Hoogewind says, Ronald Clark told
Belinda that the church was paying into a retirement fund for her in lieu of
payments to Social Security.
Belinda Clark says she was assured by the church board that her retirement
account had grown to $300,000, but she says she's received none of those funds
and now believes the money was diverted to pay for the acquisition of church
assets.
'Delusional claims'
Ronald Clark filed for divorce when Belinda was fired, saying she tried to ruin his
credibility at the church. Ronald Clark also said his wife had made "delusional
claims" that he was attempting to kill her after taking out a $1-million life insurance
policy on her.
Later, Living Water Church officials alleged Belinda Clark had illegally diverted
church mail for some weeks around Easter, depriving the church of thousands of
dollars in mail-in contributions during the biggest donation time of the year.
According to an April 28 complaint with the sheriff's office by Richard C. Barker Jr.,
an associate pastor at Living Water Church, Belinda Clark completed a change-of-
address form to divert all church mail to her Dade City post office box, even
though she was no longer on the church board.
The mail diversion complaint remains under criminal investigation, Hillsborough
sheriff's officials said last week. Levine said the missing mail created a financial
hardship for the church.
In her counter-petition in the divorce case, Belinda Clark seeks custody of the
couple's two children, the proceeds from the Living Water Church and title to the
marital home in Dade City, a $322,966 estate on Fort King Road that includes a
3,618-square-foot home and an 8-acre horse farm.
In the counter-petition, Belinda Clark says her husband slandered her during
services at the Living Water Church by telling others she was mentally ill, guilty of
adultery and morally unfit to be an associate pastor.
In seeking a temporary restraining order against her husband, Belinda Clark told a
Pasco County sheriff's deputy that her husband had threatened her and said, "I
hope you enjoy living in hell."
Mrs. Clark said she feared for her safety because he kept 13 guns in the home.
She also told the deputy that her husband was under investigation by the
Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, where Ronald Clark is employed as chaplain and
reserve deputy.
Records show Clark took a 90-day voluntary leave of absence from the sheriff's
office beginning March 31. But there is no record of an internal affairs investigation
of Clark, according to an April 9 letter from Maj. Richard Cipriano of the sheriff's
human resources division.
Neither Ronald Clark nor Belinda Clark would discuss these matters on the record
with the St. Petersburg Times.
On May 23, the couple appeared in a court hearing in Dade City to offer testimony
in a petition for a permanent domestic violence injunction sought by Mrs. Clark.
Belinda Clark wore a gray busi-ness suit. Ronald Clark was in a gold blazer,
monogrammed blue shirt and cuff links. The couple might have passed for Fortune
500 business executives. They did not speak to one another.
Instead, they wrinkled their brows and winced at testimony about their messy
divorce.
Threats and lawsuits
Psychologist Timothy Foster, a $250-an-hour counselor paid by the church to see
the Clarks, said he saw so much anger "that it became obvious to me this was
going to resolve not in the counseling room but in divorce court."
Ronald Clark gritted his teeth as he was asked to recount what his wife had said to
him in a March phone call.
"She said she would crush my head, she said she would cut off my b----, she said
she would f------ destroy me," Ronald Clark testified.
Barker, the associate pastor, told of accompanying Ronald Clark to his home to
pick up belongings that Mrs. Clark had placed on the porch in a driving rain. Boxes
had become so saturated they split. The children were "hysterical," Barker said,
and Ronald Clark "was weeping the whole time he was loading up."
Belinda Clark said she'd had no support for the children. The electricity would be
turned off that afternoon if a $700 bill weren't paid, she said.
After a break, the couple adjourned to a conference room with their attorneys to
talk.
They emerged with an agreement to drop the domestic violence petition and to
share custody of the children. Ronald Clark promised to pay the electric bill by 5
p.m.
But reconciliation does not appear imminent.
Six days later, the Living Water Church sued Hoogewind and Belinda Clark in
Hillsborough Circuit Court, saying they had improperly placed a lien on the church.
The same day, Hoogewind filed the papers in Dade City that claimed Ronald Clark
had a secret plan to sell the church and leave the country.
- Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jeff Testerman can be
reached at (813) 226-3422 or by e-mail at testerman@sptimes.com


              Accusations Fly Between Pastor, Wife
                By MISSY STODDARD mstoddard@tampatrib.com
                              Published: Jun 20, 2003
DADE CITY - She says her husband has branded her a thief and an adulteress
and won't financially support her and their two children.
He says his wife's actions have cost him his salary and more than half the
membership of his congregation.
Ronald and Belinda Clark, pastor and former associate pastor of Living Water
Church in Tampa, spent more than two hours Thursday in a judge's chambers
testifying about the most personal details of their life and finances.
The couple, in the throes of a bitter divorce, were there on a motion Belinda Clark
filed to compel her husband to temporarily support her and the children, who are
living in the family's $500,000 Dade City home and horse farm but don't have
money to buy groceries, according to her attorney, Jack Hoogewind.
``It's a starve-her-out mentality,'' said Hoogewind, referring to Ronald Clark's
assertion that he's broke.
His attorney, Arnold Levine, insisted Clark ``has no money'' and has paid $25,000
to his wife since the first of the year.
``He's living on borrowed money,'' Levine said. ``He has no funds. I've only been
paid by third-party money.''
The hearing, to resume next month, ended Thursday with Pasco Circuit Court
Judge Linda Babb ordering Clark to borrow whatever money he could to give his
wife $2,000 by this afternoon. Belinda Clark seeks at least $7,000 a month for her
and her children.
Ronald Clark, 46, filed for divorce from his wife of 24 years in March, shortly after
the church's board of trustees fired Belinda Clark, 41, from her $70,000 a year job
as associate pastor and principal of the Living Water school.
On Thursday, she testified that some time afterward, her husband stood before his
congregation and claimed he had ``biblical grounds'' for a divorce.
Hoogewind argued that ``biblical grounds'' is church- speak for adultery.
When he took the stand, Ronald Clark challenged that assertion. He picked up a
Bible and leafed through it, quoting from Exodus, 1 Corinthians, Matthew and
Romans. Clark said those passages allow for a biblical divorce in situations of
indecency, lack of emotional support, physical cruelty, refusal of sex and sexual
perversion.
Clark accused his wife of downloading ``hard-core pornographic videos'' from their
home satellite dish. Asked by Hoogewind whether the videos could have been
downloaded by the couple's teenage son, Clark responded: ``I have seen her
watch pornographic movies.''
Melvin Myer, a trustee at Living Water who testified for Ronald Clark, said church
membership has plunged from 1,286 in January to 444 in May. Tithes and
offerings are down $67,000 since January, Myer said. He blamed the loss on
Belinda Clark's ``malicious and slanderous'' actions that ``have caused people to
be insecure and leave the church.''
Myer said Living Water owes $118,000 in past-due bills, including the church's
$19,500 mortgage payment. Staff has been let go and Ronald Clark is not drawing
his $70,000 salary or his tax-exempt $78,000 housing allowance, Myer said. He
denied knowledge of an alleged ``scam'' to hide money for Ronald Clark.
Living Water moved to its current location off Interstate 4 in 1993. The church
occupies 16 acres and a 26,000-square-foot building.
In a 1996 Tampa Tribune story, Clark characterized his flock as middle- to higher-
income baby boomers, who at that time gave more than $2 million annually to
support the church.


            Funding Surprised Church Members
                  By Missy Stoddard - mstoddard@tampatrib.com

TAMPA - 7/3/03 - Every Sunday for five years, Jim Peters attended services at the
nondenominational Living Water Church off Interstate 4. He got hooked on Pastor
Ron Clark's passion-filled sermons, his knowledge of the Bible and charisma like
Peters had never known.

Initially, Peters said, he was ``shocked'' by the 10-piece band at worship, the
shouting, the clapping and raising of hands, and the flags of many nations, not
crosses, hanging in the sanctuary. But something kept calling him back. When
Peters, 66, participated in a laying of hands ceremony that rid him of chronic
shoulder pain, he knew he had come to the right place.

``That was the clincher for me to say, `This is the church where I belong,' '' he
said.

Though he enjoyed the preaching and camaraderie, Peters said he couldn't shake
the feeling something wasn't right. He never officially joined Living Water and
disliked the repeated solicitations for donations to the church by Clark, 46, and his
wife, Belinda, 41, who was an associate pastor.

When newspapers began reporting recently on the Clarks' acrimonious divorce -
including details of their personal finances - Peters and others say they were
shocked and angered. The Clarks earned a $70,000 salary each, plus a $78,000
tax-exempt housing allowance, according to court testimony. The money bought a
Dade City horse farm and ranch valued at $500,000 and a $275,000 rental home
in Celebration near Orlando.

``What's gone on in their personal lives is theirs, but it tears me apart that they
kept wanting to get money out of us every chance they could and I come home to
my little, low-cost apartment,'' Peters said.

``At the time I thought it was money well spent. I am now terribly embarrassed,
totally angry.''

Peters and other former members of Living Water said it was disconcerting to
have two and three collections per service. Each Sunday for about a month,
Peters said, an extra collection was taken for Ron Clark's birthday gift - a new
tractor for his ranch.

During the five years he attended Living Water, Peters said, he gave an average
of $10 a week, or a total $2,600. The retired civil engineer, who lives in a two-
bedroom, $347-a-month apartment, supplements his income singing at nursing
homes.

Years Of Tithing
For seven years, Peters' friend Beverly Natario, 66, gave 10 percent of her take-
home pay to Living Water. Like Peters, Natario, a customer-service typist, was
enraptured by Clark.

``The anointing of God was there, the Holy Spirit was present, and the music and
word of God was so on fire that you'd sit there for three hours and feel like you
hadn't been there long,'' she said.

Natario, Peters and their friend Judy Gebo, 61, say they were as devoted a flock
as a church could want. Gebo, an office manager for a dental practice, also
faithfully gave 10 percent of her income to the church. Both women underscore
that tithing is a biblical directive and that they do not regret giving.

The Clarks, they say, will have to answer to God about how they spent the money.
All three say they never saw a church budget and had no idea Belinda Clark was
drawing a salary. Then they began reading newspaper reports of the Clarks'
finances.

``What I didn't know and what I couldn't understand is why [Belinda Clark] was
getting any money,'' Gebo said.

Belinda Clark said Wednesday that it was her husband's desire for her to make
$70,000. She said Ron Clark wanted to make $225,000 a year, but knew a
minister with that kind of salary would raise red flags with the Internal Revenue
Service.

``I think it is a little outrageous,'' she said of her salary. ``I never questioned him.''

She said congregants interested in the church's finances didn't remain members at
Living Water.

``Many people were asked to leave when they pressed it or disagreed with Ron on
anything,'' she said. ``A lot of people in the past have left disgruntled because they
were told that because they weren't tithing, they were going to hell or they didn't
really love God and because of that, God didn't really love them and they were
cursed.''

During a recent court hearing, Belinda Clark testified that she was a co-pastor and
principal of Living Water's school, which had 11 students. She is seeking $7,000 a
month in support for her and the couple's two teens. Clark has asked the court to
declare the church a marital asset and wants half.

Clark said Wednesday that she worked 50 to 70 hours a week at Living Water and
is a few credits shy of earning her master's degree. She said she loves and misses
members of Living Water and has forgiven her husband.

Congregation Dwindles
Ron Clark recently resigned his position at Living Water and is international
director of education for Family Harvest International based in Chicago. He
testified that he has no money to give his soon-to-be ex-wife. He has blamed the
negative publicity on a decline in church membership - from a high of nearly 2,000
to about 400.

Clark didn't return phone calls seeking comment. His attorney, Arnold Levine, was
out of town. Melvin Myer, a former board trustee who is president of the Living
Water organization, referred questions to Rick Barker, acting senior pastor.
Barker said Wednesday that his understanding is congregants are provided an
overview of the church's financial state, but that details such as pastors' salaries
typically are not broken out.

Edward Brennan, Living Water's corporate counsel, said that as a matter of
course, a church's board of trustees determines salaries and that the congregation
typically is not informed of things such as salaries and utility bills.

Several months ago, before reports of the Clarks' marital woes became public,
Peters, Natario and Gebo said they sensed a change at Living Water. Ron Clark's
preaching was different.

Request For Prayers
Then about three months ago, Natario said, Myer stood before the congregation
and said Belinda Clark no longer was affiliated with the church. Ron Clark stood
up and said he would not discuss Belinda's departure or the couple's marital
problems. Instead, he asked for prayers and said he was waiting for an answer
from God.

Peters, Natario and Gebo say they wish the church luck in rebuilding its
membership, though they are looking elsewhere for spiritual guidance. Each has
learned valuable lessons as a result of what has happened to Living Water.

``I will attend a church, and if I feel that's the church I want to be at, I'm certainly
going to ask where their monies go,'' Natario said. ``This is the first time I've ever
been disillusioned by a church.''

Reporter Missy Stoddard can be reached at (813) 779-4635.

				
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