Checkbook in hand, Bishop Gerald Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield County, is coming to the aid of the Rev. Joe Ellison, a friend and former head of the chaplaincy at Richmond City Jail.
It seems that Ellison's wardrobe during his stint as chaplain in early 2006 required some special outfitting. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the towering Ellison requires a 20-inch collar, a 54-inch waist, a 58-long blazer and size 14 shoes.
So when Sheriff C.T. Woody told a local newspaper that Ellison refused to return the five jail chaplain uniforms ordered specially made for him, Ellison was surprised. "What they told me was they didn't want them back," says Ellison, adding that he later found out the jail wanted to be reimbursed.
Ellison was forced out of Woody's jail under a pall of sexual harassment allegations. Though accused by four female volunteers in the jail's ministry program, Ellison was never charged.
Now unemployed and in the process of rebuilding the church he closed to go work for Woody, Ellison says he was in no position to pay the jail's bill before Bishop Glenn stepped up.
"I'm going to help him out," says Glenn, "I kind of thought he got a raw deal."
Glenn says he will pick up Ellison's $1,000 tab.
"It's no sense in just dragging this thing out," Glenn says. "It's not helping the Sheriff's Department and it's not helping Rev. Ellison. It's not benefiting anyone."
With his bills paid, Ellison is moving on. He spent a recent afternoon watching painters put finishing touches on the day-care wing of his new church building on Laburnum Avenue across from the Essex Village Apartments. The church, Essex Village Ministries, reopens in its new location in June.
Ellison has also been appointed executive director of Pastors for Family Values, an organization he says is affiliated with the Virginia-based conservative lobbying group the Family Foundation.
"I can be a chaplain anywhere," Ellison says, showing off badges and credentials issued by Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a nonprofit, nondenominational religious certifying body.
He says Woody trumped up the sex charges against him in order to push him out because he refused to betray the trust of deputies who vented to him.
That Ellison is a little bitter about his experience with Woody is clear from the frustration in his voice. But he says he's taking Glenn's advice.
"I know things about Woody I was going to have a press conference and hang him out to dry," Ellison says. "But Glenn said don't do that." S