As a young boy, Norman Virgil Whiteside would watch his grandfather, the late Reverend William Horsley preach on Sunday mornings at the Hebrew Baptist Church. Norman listened to the fire and brimstone messages warning of a hell to come for those who did not repent and obey God. As he listened, he often wondered, “How could God say He Loves me, but is constantly threatening to have me put in a fire if I behave or don’t behave a certain way?”
Norman was a frequent victim of bullies and did not understand when his grandfather told him he had to “forgive” those bullies no matter what, because that’s what God expected. Norman asked his grandfather, “Since God wants ME to forgive the bullies, and forgiveness is a must, why won’t God forgive satan (or the “devil” as satan was often referred to)?” In other words, Norman just would not accept certain ways or ideas without asking why.
In kindergarten, Norman was told by his teacher, Ms. Zollinger, “Children, remember your three R’s – reading, riting and rithmetic!” When Norman moved on to the 1st grade, his teacher, Ms. Huffman, lowered his grade for spelling “writing” and “arithmetic” incorrectly. He wanted to know how writing could start with a “w” and arithmetic start with an “a” if Ms. Zollinger told him daily to remember his three “R’s.”
When he was seven, Norman’s family moved to 430 Whittier Street, a house that was in German Village in Columbus, Ohio. He noticed that the skin color of the neighbors and the community was not like his. He didn’t understand why when he would try to make friends, they treated him like he was a leper.
These preludes of confused ideologies and ways of thinking accompanied much of his life. He didn’t understand why White children were treated differently than he was. He didn’t understand why it seemed God allowed so many bad things to happen to good people. He didn’t understand why adults would lie about there being a Santa Claus, an Easter Bunny, and a Tooth Fairy, and then get upset when he lied about eating a cookie.
Norman became a self-taught pianist interested in the recording industry. He wrote songs and strived to develop an independent way of thinking that would be truthful as much as possible. If he was presented an unexplained idea or concept, he would demand the source, and if no valid source was provided, that idea or concept was quickly rejected. His Aunt Mary Katherine Horsley would tell others, “Norman is not the type of little boy who you can say to, ‘you’re wrong’ unless you can explain to him HOW he’s wrong.”
On April 3, 1985, he was convicted on a slew of forgery charges, and while serving time for the forgery charges, on March 13, 1986, Norman was convicted for conspiracy to commit aggravated murder — a crime that police knew he did not commit. Throughout his 31 straight years in prison, he became a jailhouse lawyer and studied various aspects of religion and theology. He began writing sermons for his mother, Evangelist Mary C. Whiteside. She told him that one day he would have a church in which he would be able to tell and preach a truth that would be universally embraced. Norman started working on putting together The Church of Universal Support and Truth.
In April 2008, he was contacted by the Numero Group – a record company that wanted to re-release music Norman wrote and produced before going to prison. The re-release caught the attention of mega-superstars including Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Rick Ross, Stalley, Logic, Freddie Gibbs, Madlib and several others. His name began appearing in several magazines as some of his music was nominated for Grammy Awards.
Although Norman was told by several legal professionals that he would never leave prison alive, Norman believed with his whole heart that if His God was Who Norman believed He is, He would cause Norman to be released from prison somehow, someway.
In February 2013, after being denied parole for the umpteenth time, he created an organization called Universal Support Network which would be a progeny of the church he would establish.
On September 1, 2016, Norman walked out of the Southeastern Correctional Institution and hit the ground running. He teamed up with The William Brady Charitable Organization and became the spokesperson for that organization. Along with networking with law enforcement and politicians, he also began working with several lawyers as a legal assistant and correctional specialist. In January 2017, the “614” magazine dubbed him as being one of the top ten “shakers and movers” in Columbus, Ohio.
Norman created a Facebook program called “Perception is Reality” in October 2016 and began preaching at the P.A.T.H. ministries in March 2017. By November, religious leaders and teachers were coming to the church to hear him speak. The congregation was so impressed by his messages, he was ordained into the ministry in February 2018, and the Church of Universal Support and Truth (COUSAT) was certified by the Ohio Secretary of State the following month.
Minister Norman Virgil Whiteside teaches and preaches that his Father Who art everywhere is not a child-abuser and will never participate in domestic violence against His children. COUSAT works in conjunction with Pastor Karen Carlisle and her Church of Christ Commissioned Compassion. The mission of COUSAT is to present the existence of The Most High God in the most truthful ways, while attempting to help positive causes in need of assistance, by providing or offering support as much as humanly possible.