Members of Grace Cathedral, a 3,000-seat megachurch, in Ohio wept openly in the sanctuary as leaders announced the death of their controversial founding pastor, televangelist Ernest Angley Friday. He was accused of being a homosexual and running a cult. He died at the age of 99.
“First off, we’d like to thank all of you for praying for Rev. Angley, and Rev. Angley made so many sacrifices for all of us, and he showed us so much love,” began Grace Cathedral’s Rev. Steve Millar in a Friday night service broadcast on Facebook.
“But Rev. Angley, because of his decline this past week, around 4:30 today went to Heaven. Rev. Angley was our father, our pastor. He was an author,” he announced through sniffling as audible weeping erupted from the congregation in the background.
Millar said that Angley, who never remarried after his wife, Esther Lee “Angel” Sikes, died in 1970, is reunited with her.
“Angley was dear to our hearts, but we know he’s in Heaven now with his wife, Angel, and her death was over 50 years ago,” Millar stated. “Now he can see his wife and he doesn’t have any ache and pain in his body.”
On Sunday, as the church celebrated Mother’s Day and continued mourning the passing of their founder, Rev. Chris Machamer noted that Angley was also reunited with his mother too.
“The Lord called his servant home, and it was such a quick calling. Rapidly, his health went down. And in a matter of a couple of days, he was in Heaven,” Machamer said during the livestreamed service. He snapped his finger to indicate how quickly Angley died.
“I was just thinking as they were singing the last song, Rev. Angley’s mother had such a great impact on his life growing up down through the years. And it’s been many, many decades since he’s been able to see his mother. But he’s seeing her now.”
Angley’s church operates campuses in Cuyahoga Falls and Akron, Ohio. His weekly one-hour program “The Ernest Angley Hour” is broadcast both nationally and internationally.
While he has ministered to millions over the years, Angley also attracted attention due to multiple controversies.
In 2017, the church was forced to close its Cathedral Buffet after a U.S. District Court ordered the congregation to pay $388,000 in back wages and damages to more than 200 congregation members who had worked at the restaurant. Even though Angley won an appeal, the restaurant did not reopen.
A report in 2019 also presented 23-year-old recorded evidence suggesting Angley had sexual relations with a man. The scandal, which began in 1996, led to a significant drop in membership at his church. It is unclear how many members remain.
The allegations came to light after a longtime associate pastor suddenly resigned and told friends and family that Angley had touched him inappropriately for seven years.
Angley and two other members of his ministry addressed the allegations during a church service on July 13, 2014, a recording of which was reviewed by The Beacon Journal.
“I’m not a homosexual. God wouldn’t use a homosexual like he uses me. He calls me his prophet, and indeed I am …,” Angley reportedly said in the recording, according to The Journal.
“They called Jesus a homosexual. Did you know that? And still do because he was with men. Oh, Mary Magdalene and a few women. But you can’t stop the people’s lies,” Angley was quoted as saying.
Angley, who was also accused of inappropriately touching the genitals of male members, denied touching them at the time but admitted to inspecting their “privates” and asking them to come in for follow-up inspection sessions following vasectomies.
“I’ve helped so many of the boys down through the years. They had their misgivings. Sure, I’d have them uncover themselves, but I did not handle them at all,” he said in the recording of the service.
“I would tell them how that would work. And they’d have to watch it. I’d have some of them come back to me that I felt needed to. And I would tell them, I would look at them, their privates — I, so I could tell how they were swelling.”
Former church members explained at the time that church members were often threatened and bullied into following Angley’s orders, which included life-changing decisions that broke up some families.
The former members accused the pastor of controlling what they read, what they watched on television, who they married and when.
Pam Cable of Akron, who left the church in 1988, told The Beacon Journal at the time that the “man is a monster.”
“He’s a monster. And I can’t understand why all these years have gone by and nobody’s ever really been able to do anything about him,” she said. “The people in Akron, Ohio, have a Jim Jones sitting in their backyard. These people in his congregation would drink the Kool-Aid if he told them to. They would.” She told the Journal.
Former Grace Cathedral usher, Kenny Montgomery whose mother took him to the church when he was just a 9-year-old also compared Angley to Jim Jones in the Journal article.
“That place is a textbook cult,” said Montgomery. “I’m really scared for my friends and family that still go there.”
“None of us have kids because he makes all the men get fixed,” said Becky Roadman, 32, who left the church last year and now lives in Georgia according to the Journal.
“My husband and I can’t have children because my husband had a vasectomy,” said Akron resident Angelia Oborne.
Oborne worked in the church’s restaurant, the Cathedral Buffet, for 20 years before she left a year and a half ago.
“We were looking at getting it reversed, but I’m 35 years old and … may not be able to have children anymore. And that breaks my heart, because that choice was made for me, because of the brainwashing, the mind control. We weren’t allowed to have children. If you turned up pregnant, it’s almost as if you had sinned,” Oborne explained.
In an interview with the Journal, Angley denied encouraging abortions, only vasectomies. He also noted that he only advised members on things he was asked about.
Usher Mike Kish, who was a part of the interview with Angley, said, “I would hate to even bring a child into the world at this point, being a parent, just having common sense. If you look at the condition of this world … it just seems to be going downhill.”
And Angley agreed.
“It really is. It really is. I wouldn’t want to be brought into this world now,” said Angley who felt the same even in the presence of strong faith.
“No, because the people of strong faith go down. And their children are in danger … It wasn’t like that when I was a kid. We could walk up and down the streets, we could play at night and we were not molested at all,” said Angley.
Greg Mulkey of Barberton, who was a key Grace Cathedral choir member and singer told the Journal that he believes Angley doesn’t want his members to have children because the children would detract their attention from his ministry.
“He doesn’t want people to have kids because it would take their time and money away from the church,” he said. “He really forced people into abortions through scare tactics, as if he were a medical doctor. It turns my stomach.”
Many controversies trail the late Evangelist, even in death, as former church members showed little or no remorse because of the pain and loss he caused them while he was alive. Other former church members said the damages he caused some of them is irreversible.