Pastor Jose Luis Soto of World Mission Maranatha Church Releases Statement of Innocence and Advises Congregation He is Cooperating With Attorney General's Office in Its Investigation

BELLFLOWER, Calif.--()--Sept. 23, 2004--World Mission Maranatha Church (www.wmmaranatha.org), a Christian ministry located in Southern California, is cooperating with the California Attorney General's Office to uncover the circumstances surrounding alleged misconduct by California Alternative High School, which operated a high-school equivalency program on the church's facility.

"World Mission Maranatha church and its pastor, Jose Luis Soto, are continuously involved in numerous social justice activities to help those in the Hispanic community," according to Federico Sayre, a Santa Ana attorney representing the church. "It is unfortunate that they may have been misled as to the validity of the diplomas given out by California Alternative High School. It is also unfortunate that their name has been linked to what is potentially a fraudulent organization. Fortunately, the attorney general of California and his investigators have recognized that World Mission Maranatha Church and its pastor are innocent in these regards. The church and Pastor Soto are cooperating fully to help obtain justice for any who may have been wronged by this program."

In a recent Univision Channel 34 television segment covering the scandal, Deputy Attorney General Michele VanGelderen explained that her office filed a lawsuit against California Alternative High School, Daniel Gossai and several other individuals, but no churches were named in the suit. The program stressed that Gossai apparently misled numerous churches, both Catholic and Protestant, convincing them to allow classes to be conducted at their facilities. The program concluded that Gossai sought to take advantage of parishioners' trust of their churches in order to sell his program. With regard to World Mission Maranatha, Ms. VanGelderen declared that there is "no particular reason to focus on the church."

Now under investigation by several states, California Alternative High School is accused of targeting lower income areas with the promise of a diploma. Originally, World Mission Maranatha had hoped this program would afford its members better job opportunities through education and certification. While Daniel Gossai, owner of California Alternative High School, continues to assert that the diplomas are valid, legal and legitimate, the church is saddened to discover that diplomas earned through this program may not be fully recognized and accredited. Before World Mission Maranatha ever agreed to have California Alternative High School conduct classes at its location, it engaged in due diligence, including checking with the Department of Education of the State of California where the high school was listed. In addition, the church checked with the Department of Education and found that there were no legal requirements for a high school diploma for the state of California. With the background check complete, World Mission Maranatha allowed its church facility to be used for classes that it thought would benefit members of the Hispanic community who had dropped out of school and had not been able to complete their high school diploma.

Dave Young, the investigator on the case for the Attorney General's Office, has declared World Mission Maranatha to be a victim of Dr. Gossai and the California Alternative High School. World Mission is cooperating with the Attorney General's Office in its investigation concerning Dr. Gossai and the California Alternative High School.

"We sought to offer our parishioners a chance for a better life through education and self-improvement after numerous requests from our members for this type of program. We are shocked and disheartened to hear that this organization may have misled us about the validity of the diplomas offered," explains Pastor Jose Luis Soto.

ABOUT WORLD MISSION MARANATHA

World Mission Maranatha is a Christian church ministering to the Hispanic Community in Southern California, operating primarily in the greater Los Angeles area from its central office in Bellflower. Maranatha, and its sister corporation, the International Council Una Cita Con Dios (An Appointment with God), preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and work to develop social projects, with a special eye towards reaching out to the underprivileged. World Mission Maranatha and UCCD actively administer emergency disaster relief to various countries, including Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala, providing medical attention, food and clothing for the needy there. They have established "El Centro Escolar Una Cita Con Dios", a school in Managua, Nicaragua, which provides elementary and secondary education, two meals-a-day, medical attention, and clothing for over 900 students. They also have founded centers in Chiapas, Mexico and San Miguel, El Salvador that provide medical attention, food and clothing for hundreds of children, on an ongoing basis.

Contacts

R.M.S. Public Relations (for World Mission Maranatha)
Jason Kirshner / Shana Starr
Tel: 949-429-1172 / 949-481-3984
Email: Jason-PR@RMS-Biz.com / Shana-PR@RMS-Biz.com

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Contacts

R.M.S. Public Relations (for World Mission Maranatha)
Jason Kirshner / Shana Starr
Tel: 949-429-1172 / 949-481-3984
Email: Jason-PR@RMS-Biz.com / Shana-PR@RMS-Biz.com