Following are many clues to the upcoming "full story of ICC corruption" that is supposed to be revealed to the congregation at some point. After all this, what story is left to tell?
May 9, 2003
Comments from Greg Garcia, the tax administrator mentioned in the letter. Many twists and turns ... this story is not finished yet. I've just added a letter from a repenting leader, who describes the financial privileges of the ICC ministry, among other things (May 7: "Why Leaders Must Get Out" below). Keep checking here for updates.
I would love to know where that alleged $3 million is. Certainly, Athens did not receive it. In fact, the Atlanta church is not giving us one penny with which to "seed" our autonomous church.
What I understand from Bob Keen, the ACOC administrator, is that Atlanta (not Athens) received some $850,000 late last year from the $6 million which ACES had in reserves. I understand from Steve Johnson that NYCOC got $3 million of it and that the balance was distributed pro-rata to the other churches which were part of ACES.
I don't understand the sister's report about all those people moving to Athens. With the exception of the Laing's and the Jacoby's I believe all of the other people named are moving to Atlanta. I would appreciate it if someone would contact that sister and have her correct the information she is erroneously spreading. It is potentially injurious to the "new" Athens Church of Christ" and its members as it is false. I'm sure she believed it to be true but knowing now that it is not, she has a duty to correct it and republish.
Thank you for the heads up.
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=6184.15 "3 MILLION from ACES to ATHENS"
May 9, 2003
A letter from Leslie Clemmons about the $3 Million college fund that was used by the ICC leaders for compensation and benefits instead. Is this THE story? Nope -- there's more to come.
The Church Finance Structure (ACES, NYCOC)
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving the Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Romans 16: 17-20
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
On Sunday, April 27th, 2003, I went to Rockland County to visit our sister Rachel Hirshfeld. I went because she is my trustworthy friend and sister in Christ and because I wanted to speak to her further on answers she had gotten about the church,s financial structure from people in charge who would know. The following information, which we discussed for about 3 hours, is the reason for my use of the strong scripture preceding this letter. I have tried my best to keep away from anything that is not fact or is hearsay. I also want you to know that according to Rachel Matthew 18 has already been applied to those in concern but they have not listened and now our wish is to bring it to the church, to reliable brothers who will handle the information wisely.
At the end of March, Rachel went to visit Henry Kriete in London. She wanted to discuss the things in the letter, find out any more info and to basically hear it from the horse's mouth and to encourage him. His advice to her was to come back and find out about the finances. Since Rachel has always been discipled by top leadership, was a HOPE Worldwide Ambassador and is now a lawyer with her own practice, she was the perfect person to do it. She first made an appointment with Vivian Hanes, one of her best friends, who is responsible for the corporate structure of the church. Then she went with Bob Shaheen to talk to Steve Johnson and then made an appointment to see Pat Gimpel. Yes, She went straight to the top. She used the following scriptures in challenging these leaders, 1 Corinthians 6:12, Ezekiel 33: 7-9 & 18-20, & Acts 9: 9-19. Please read these before continuing. The Lord will give you insight.
The structure of our church finances and its affiliates is as follows: There are 3 Corporations involved 1) NYCOC, 2) ACES World Sector 3) ACES Private not for profit corporation. Both 1 & 2 have members, and a board and by laws. When they told us that we could look at the books to see the finances, the NYCOC and the ACES world sector are the Corporations that they mean. We will not ever be allowed to see the books for ACES private, not for profit Corporation. This is what is so upsetting. ACES Private, not for profit Corporation has no members, and no affiliation with the International churches of Christ. In fact, its by laws state that 1) it has no members, 2) no one can see the books but the board of directors and 3) that the board of directors can do anything they want to with the money! Where does the money come from for this Corporation? The weekly contributions of 1& 2. That is right. Every time we give contribution it is deposited into the ACES private, not for profit Corporation of which we who give the money have no control! Who is on the board? Kitty Chiles (to her credit she has already resigned), Sam Powell, Joe Furstace, Madeline Evans (I don't remember her married name), Connie Been, and Vivian Hanes. This board sometimes mirrors the board of the NYCOC and ACES. Any money that is then deposited into our church or any of the Aces world sector churches is done so at the sole discretion of a board that has no checks and balance system and one that we who give the money had no idea even existed. Another thing that Rachel mentioned outside of this structure was that even our contribution to the poor goes directly to HOPE and they dole out the local benevolence. Therefore, we again have no control over this money nor do our local leaders within this structure; at the most they only have influence.
This structure while completely legal by the world's standard is far from what God intended for His church and knowledge of this structure has been deceitfully withheld from the average lay person of the church and I dare say (my hope is) most of the ministry staff. The sins that Rachel confronted Vivian Hanes, Steve Johnson, and Pat Gimpel with are Fraud, deceit, stealing, lying, betrayal of trust, not shepherding the church with the money with which they had been entrusted, and not fulfilling the needs of the church with the money they had been given. Rachel told each of them that they are blind like Saul was when the light of Jesus struck him, and that they need to be led by the hand through the darkness by their brothers and sisters until they can see their sin clearly and repent. She told them that she was being like the watchman Ezekiel was called to be for their benefit and hers. They were collectively defensive and did not admit to doing anything wrong and in fact said things such as I haven't done anything that is against the law, nothing illegal and everything you are saying is a matter of opinion. She corrected them by asking, when did we start following the world's standards and not God's standard? She also said, even if it was a matter of opinion then everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. They continue to persist in their denial of any wrongdoing.
Wait, there is more. Another piece of the puzzle (maybe when we get all of the pieces then we will be able to see the true picture of the sin and where it came from; boy, this is almost as confusing as the kingdom study) is that when all of this started (Henry's letter came out to the churches) and up until early March there was $6.3 million in the ACES private, not for profit corporate account. They sent almost half of that to Athens, GA and most of the other half to NYCOC. The tax attorney for the church, Greg Garcia, lives in Athens, GA. Several ex-ministry leaders are planning to move to Athens, GA including Dan & Cinnamon Connor, Karen Carter, The Bogels, Sam & Geri Laing (who have just been hired by the church to lead them), Paul & Summer Sherobeem (not sure how to spell it), and John and Anna Morales. I'm not sure what all of this means, but I know I don't think it is right and that something looks very premeditated about all of this. Rachel also pointed out that if you wanted to start a new business then $3 million would do just fine. I'm sure God will continue to expose the pieces of the puzzle.
Where does this leave the New York church? It gives us a lot of good questions to ask. One of the first ones that I would like to know is why if we have almost $3million somewhere, then why can't we afford meeting places? Surely the interest alone could carry us for quite some time or at least until we get leadership that we can trust appointed.
On a personal note it leaves me very sad, since I have believed in and trusted these leaders for many years. But, we are all human and possess a sinful nature that is capable of bringing us all to the point of sin. All I desire is that these people repent so that we can enjoy heaven together. And when it discourages me to look at all of this I try to remember what Paul said in scripture But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Love and Grace to you in Christ,
NYC church of Christ
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=6184.1 "3 MILLION from ACES to ATHENS"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
ICC DF: "Suing the ICC / NYC COC"
May 9, 2003
Kip McKean has written an approximately 40 page letter which rebuts Henry Kreite's point of view and the issues Kreite raises. Kip also believes that the membership has been too harsh towards himself and the other ICC leadership. Kip sees that the movement is in disarray and directionless, and he now wants to step in to save it. He thinks that the move toward autonomy is wrong. Kip is now in the process of gathering leaders who will be loyal to him and help him call people back to being "true disciples."
What is even more amazing is that Kip himself told much of this information to the woman writing the upcoming article for the Boston Globe! I've been in contact with someone who was interviewed for this article, and the reporter called this person back and told him that Kip spoke freely and willingly to her about his plan to save the floundering movement. Apparently, Kip has gotten over his past resistance to reporters. (Can we say "desperate for the limelight"?)
My own personal theory about what's happening right now is that all the clamping down about "pay contribution or get out" is no accident. I believe Kip is working through certain leaders and pruning out the "unfaithful" and "divisive" elements in the ICC. Once that is done, it will be much easier to have "talks" with people about getting with Kip's new program. Basically, Kip will "reconstruct" ICC churches the same way he did with mainline COC congregations during the 80's.
I would recommend emailing as many people as you know and giving people the heads up so they can be prepared to deal with this situation. I think that the leadership is often successful because they are sneaky and do things incrementally, and the membership doesn't know what is happening until it is too late. I believe if people are informed from the get-go, they have a much better chance of resisting such a scheme.
The article is supposed to come out on Sunday. Here is a website for the Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/globe/ . I don't know if the article will appear on the website or not. For the most part, I don't know which leaders are loyal to Kip and part of his new plan. I know Russ Ewell is one leader who is. I assume many leaders haven't even decided yet. Even if for some reason the reporter doesn't print the info I posted above, I still stand by it as being accurate. Information was also given to the reporter (though not by Kip) that Kip, for a number of years, has had a "slush fund" of a million dollars a year. I believe that a "slush fund" is an account where the money is not for any particular purpose and its use is entirely up to Kip's own discretion. I don't know when this fund began. Time to face the facts, folks. Kip ain't going away any time soon. He wants his church back and he wants it now.
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=6154.59 "Extra! Extra! Kip's Comeback"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
Kip fired from Church of Christ for Divisiveness
May 8, 2003
Title of thread: "Steve Johnson and the Kip McKean Coup." Hmm.
The leaked story says that Sam Laing forced Kip to confess covered-up sins he had committed with Chuck Lucas. This was "confessed" last November (2002) to the WSLs at the time of McKean's resignation, although several, including Douglas Jacoby knew about it in advance.
This is the official unofficial reason for McKean's resignation. However, it is not published, but rather it is leaked so as to have an air of credibility, while at the same time, protecting the church from public scandal beyond the published McKean confessions of "harshness" and such. The reader will notice the great vagueness of McKeans published resignation letter. ( http://www.icoc.org/icocmain/Documents/11_02/mckean_resignation.htm) Further, it is quite noticeable that the elders suggest that all of Kip's pertinent sins have been confessed by Kip in his letter. (http://www.icoc.org/icocmain/Documents/11_02/elders_response.htm)
This is the same tactic that McKean, Bentley, et al. used in the coup against Chuck Lucas in 1985. Again, no public announcement of the issues, but plenty of leaked information so as to undermine Lucas's authority in the "movement" forever.
But publicly, Lucas is said to be a "hero", and even "the real father of the movement". It is said that "his salvation is not in question". But privately, it is widely known that he was a homosexual predator. (To this day, that fox is back in the henhouse at the Cornerstone Church of Christ in Thomasville, GA--though his elders have been warned about him. www.e-cornerstone.org Further, as recently as 2001, none other than Sam Laing is found speaking in Lucas' church, reminiscing about how great things were back at Crossroads!)
And now with Kip McKean, he has been removed from the spotlight, but is said to be "doing well", and to be leading a small campus ministry in Southern California. Still on the payroll of the ICC. Still not renounced as a heretic. Still not publicly exposed for the concealed sins.
Lucas also received financial support from the ICC after his dismissal.
Sam Laing refuses to testify as to his knowledge about the covered-up sins of Kip McKean, claiming the status of "spiritual advisor".
So was it a unilateral move on Laing's part to force the resignation of McKean? Or was he acting under the orders of his superior, Steve Johnson? Is Laing really the reluctant hero that the leak makes him out to be, or is he acting under orders?
It is leaked that the WSLs knew nothing of McKean's previous sin and the coverup thereof, but this is not true. The whole "resignation" was a coup, and not only of Sam Laing, but of the WSLs and various others including Douglas Jacoby.
If it were really a unilateral move on Laing's part---if he did it out of concern for righteousness, then why did he not do it in 1985 when he learned of McKean's involvement with Lucas? And this same question, of course, will apply to all these men who have known; why did they not start singing as soon as they found out?
Laing was ordered to do it so that Steve Johnson would not appear to be usurping McKean's position. And Laing, who had previously complied with McKean's humiliating insistance that Laing leave Atlanta to come to Boston for "further training" (Summer, 1987) again complied with the orders of his superior in the movement (Johnson). (Laing had met and baptized McKean, and was then forced to be his subordinate.)
On the very week of the McKean resignation, before the resignation was commonly known, Johnson was in Atlanta, distancing himself from McKean by preaching that it is sinful to teach Matthew 28 if we are not also teaching the Sermon on the Mount. He is clearly positioning himself as being wiser and more mature than McKean, as Mt 28:18-19 is the hallmark McKean passage.
This sermon clearly hits the Atlanta congregation squarely in the nose, as they realize that they have been guilty of neglecting the rudimentary teachings of Jesus in favor of recruiting more members, yet Johnson backs off from his point at the end of his sermon by calling Atlanta a "model" church for the entire movement. And he called it a "mature" church. This was Johnson currying favor by dishonestly flattering the Atlanta church. Also, he was subtly pointing out that the great "kinder, gentler" Atlanta church was in HIS world sector, and not in Kip's domain.
So what's in it for Johnson? Freedom from the tyranny? Power, maybe? And if he gave the orders, how long had HE known about the McKean scandal? How are we to interpret his frequent statements throughout the years that the reason he followed Kip was that "so far, I've found no better help, no better leader, no more righteous a man - no better friend than Kip." (Discipleship Magazine: Spring Quarter, 1989)
And Laing, who thoroughly researched this entire coverup as early as 1985, is the same one who has said of McKean, ""Kip McKean is the greatest living treasure that God has given the kingdom on the face of the earth today…" (Discipleship Magazine:Summer Quarter, 1988.)
And how's all this working out for Johnson? He's completely lost his grip on his own church. Scandals abound and mistrust is at an all-time high. Yet he has not come clean on his collusion in all this. Don't be surprised if he moves elsewhere sometime soon.
And Laing leaves Triangle for Athens. He incorporates the congregation under a new name, and under new bylaws. And ACES transfers 3 million dollars to Athens?
Anybody know Oliver Stone's telephone number?
http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/mb/message.asp?webtag=ICCdiscussion&msg=6163.1 "Steve Johnson and the Kip McKean Coup"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
Reveal: "History Repeats Itself: The Rise and Fall of Kip McKean & Chuck Lucas"
ICC DF: "Chuck Lucas' Homosexual Partners"
Reveal: "Responding to the Boston Movement / International Churches of Christ by Rick Bauer" (RB, a former leader, published about his experience including Chuck Lucas' homosexual affairs)
May 7, 2003
I received a poignant and annonymous letter written by a former staff couple that I wanted to post some excerpts from and invite discussion of. It makes it abundantly clear while some of the old time leaders need to resign. What are your thoughts on this?
Letter from long-time annonymous former staff person:
As background in case you don't know me - I was baptized in XXX in l9XX, moved to XXX on the mission team in XX, worked as a XXXX for XXX, then went into the ministry at XX years old. My husband and I married in XX, and we moved wherever we were asked (more times than I can count), and sold everything to move Overseas for XX years before returning to the U.S. and coming to back to U.S.
We resigned from the ministry after over many years. I felt so much pressure to produce numbers, look a certain way, dress a certain way, have a beautiful home, make the stage at church beautiful, have beautiful people singing on stage, etc. - in short, a lot of emphasis on all the wrong things, but I didn't realize it at the time.
Having been in the ministry for a long time, and now having worked in secular jobs for over XX years, I feel I have a unique perspective. I had no idea while I was in the ministry how out of touch I was with what "real" or "normal" (for lack of a better word) lives were.
I don't think anyone who has been in the ministry for years, especially if they went into the ministry straight out of college and never worked, can really grasp this until you've experienced it. I cannot emphasize enough to not underestimate how difficult it is to change the way you have thought when you have been in the ministry for years & years.
I hadn't taught in the Sunday school program since l983, although I had counselled (and corrected and rebuked) people on their attitudes about teaching. I had no idea what it was like when Wednesday night classes ran late, and what it was like to try to pick up the pieces of 2 tired children on Thursday morning at 6:45 trying to get them to school.
After only my first week working at the Medical Center as a XX for 12 hour shifts, the realization hit me how demanding I had thought my schedule was when I was on staff - now every day was much more intense than that staff meeting Tuesday as I went to work, tried to cook dinner before I left in the morning, arranged childcare for my children, etc. I was used to always being right, always having my opinion be the right one, telling people what to do all day long, and thinking I always knew better.
After resigning, it was the best thing that ever happened to us to stay where we had led (not go somewhere else, and certainly not to go somewhere else and accept another ministry job! that certainly wouldn't fit the definition of resignation) and learn the MANY lessons that we needed to learn. It was humbling and difficult to be on the other side of the pulpit, but you get a different, and very valuable view from there.
It's hard to explain the mindset that occurs when you have been in the ministry for a long time. I really thought that being in the ministry was the only thing worth doing, that only the "best" people could do it, and so I looked down on everyone else for not being "sharp" enough to be in the ministry.
I was used to always being right, making judgements about big, little and totally unimportant things and expecting the people around me to do things my way, always having people help me with my responsibilities in life, being able to delegate anything I didn't want to do, having babysitters always readily available, using people to get my goals accomplished and make me look good (although at the time I thought it was sincere and best for them), etc. The pride and arrogance were overwhelming.
It has taken years to understand that no one else in the church has this carte blanche lifestyle. (We could sure use some of those babysitters now!!)
Recently, a couple we are close to came to us asking for a short term loan to be able to buy their child glasses. The husband has a full time job and a masters degree and the wife works part time. It hit me this is how most of the middle class in the United States lives - one thing goes wrong (a broken transmission, needing new glasses, an unexpected medical bill) and you are unable to meet your financial obligations. When you're in the ministry, all of your needs are met: medical insurance (even co-pays), mileage allowances for travel, expense account allowances for housing and entertainment, and so you are shielded from this kind of financial pressure.
So we asked people to be sacrificial, when really we weren't experiencing any real kind of financial sacrifice ourselves, as all of our needs were always met.
Myself, as well as all of the "old-timers" who have been in the ministry for years, have built a crumbling mess. It has not been easy to "fix" me (especially my thinking) and even after 4 years out of the ministry, I'm still not "fixed" because I have been trained in elitism, arrogance, harshness, judgementalism, and pride.
I am extremely concerned about the rushing stampede to hire Sam Laing to come to Athens. It is obvious the many strengths that Sam and Geri have to offer - their marriage, family, counselling ability, etc. But, from my viewpoint after having been in the ministry for over 1/3 of my life, having had 32 years in the ministry is not a plus, but a serious minus.
I have nothing against Sam & Geri Laing, but I have seen the mindset, priviledges, lifestyle and thought process that a leader on his "level" or "tier" in the ICOC system has been steeped in. I also believe many of these mindsets will not even be obvious to Sam for a long time, because we have been thoroughly indoctrinated in that way of thinking.
I believe that Sam is sincere in wanting to repent and that the Triangle church in many ways wasn't as oppressive or controlling as some of the ICOC churches have been, yet it will take time, and many painful conversations, to learn a new way of thinking and dealing with people. Leaving a church after resigning to come somewhere else without staying and learning the lessons there is a red flag to me too. I don't even think it is possible to know what those lessons might even be except with the passing of time.
I haven't seen any evidence of repentance, or even openness, about finances or leaders lifestyles. And although it hasn't been said, I wonder if this rush to hire the Laings has a lot to do with when their severance package expires. I don't want the church to make any huge decisions rashly and without everyone feeling great about the decisions, especially because of money issues.
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages/?msg=6122.1 "Why Leaders Must Get Out"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
May 6, 2003
The "upsetting news to come": ICC Inc.
Following is a post from the ICC DF that hints at the "upsetting news to come." I believe that this is the core of the news, though there could be more to it -- definitely much more exposure of corruption than we've seen thus far.
Many leaders are now up and going to Atlanta and Florida, and that $3m was transferred from NYC to Atlanta. The clues are coming together, and I hardly think it is hard to guess that the "news" will be. There will be no real surprise with the little we've seen. The tip of the iceberg.
The urgency here is to warn people, and to get this out to the media so that ALL know about the ICC, and that Kip McKean's name and organizations will become
synonymous with L Ron Hubbard/Scientology, the Rev Moon/Unification Church or "Moonies", David Koresh, Jim Jones, and the Landmark Forum.
There are still too little people who know about these money-making cults manufactured by Kip Mckean, Sam Powell, Steve Johnson et al.
Understand that this is not an official statement from the church, only a statement from someone who was with the church a long time and knows a lot of the old
guard. I agree with the poster: "May God's wrath speak fiercely."
[Post from ICC DF]
I found out the church was never a church but a corporation. I have been in communication with informants from all over the world in all icoc churches who are very close to what is going on with the powers that be or part of transitional teams.
these crooks in the icoc knew 24 years ago that somethin like this may eventually happen so they prepared themselves and devised schemes to keep their wallets fattened. why do you think they went after "sharp" people? they became corrupted along the way to a point of no return.
the reason why they still dont "get it" as steve johnson maintains, is because these men and women are not godly. they never had the mind of christ. nor do they FEAR God. so you guys are basically callin them to a standard that they no longer embrace. the bible is clear about these matters but their brains are dulled, their consciences are seared.
and we were the ones who were robbed financially, emotionally, physically,spiritually, mentally, psychologically. we were the ones whose dreams of marriage, education, careeer, vacations, freedoms, choices, peace of mind, etc were STOLEN.
why is it that people are all of a sudden finding love? or doin better financially since they are not titheing or listenin to stupid advice to not move here or there b/c there is no church there? or simply more at peace b/c all their feelings and doubts are now being validated from all the scandality that has been exposed?
them times we sat in our living rooms with one another and questioned how is that so many people in a church could remain SINGLE when they have so many good things to give to another person and NEVER had a problem finding love before icoc---was the spirit moving.
them times we CRINGED in the kingdom study and felt uncomfortable tellin a person that we are the only ones with the cornerstone of truth and all others are
condemned to hell b/c they are part of a denominational chruch-the spirit was once was moving.
them times we felt strongly about moving here or there and we were told if we do so we would be rebellin against God b/c we would not be surrounded by
"disciples" and our hearts told us otherwise--the spirit was once again stirring.
them times we did not feel that we could trust the person sittin across the table from us in our d-times b/c we do not a friendship built with them over time ..once again the spirit was SCREAMING to STOP VIOLATING OUR CONSCIENCE.
but we I-C-O-C "surrendered" and "humbled out" b/c we were friggin brainwashed to beleive we have BAD HEARTS to listen to that voice within and we bought into the
lies that we must do all of the above b/c of UNITY. OBEDIENCE to GOD. HUMILITY.
now how stupid do we feel? to learn that the CHURCH, the KRYPTDOMMM never operated as anything but a FORTUNE 500 CORPORATION whose #1 goal was to recruit many so as to turn out a profit.
oh, and to all those who are sending me personal emails some of you are lurkers and have never posted but visit regularly, some have posted here (which is
fine with me) the answer to your questions are: YES! yu will ALL hear the news of these recent revelations in open forums SOON. I cannot say more due to my
friendship with the person. the flock will hear of it and those with any sense in their heads will get the hell outta that dangerous and corrupt place.
but yu wanna know what will happen? the crooks will shut down all the doors. which as yu can see they are doing already. and they are operating under a new name
"Mcfaith" ---all the saints who are speakin out they have said to them if yu dont like it, then leave.
so these folks will leave and the ones that remain will keep the money flowing and a new generation of people will be enslaved perhaps under harsher "biblical truths", a generation of people of truth seekers, wide-eyed and quite innocent and unaware of the history of Mcfaith since they will be operating under this new name. those who remain in the church and who to this day refuses to read henry letter or talk to anyone outside the church will help the leaders to perpetuate this vicious cycle of puttin a choke hold on one another again. May God's wrath speak fiercely.
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages/?msg=5739.1 "Why NYC Leaders Do Not Have to Resign"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
A Psychological Study of the ICC (MBTI)
Reveal: "Control Mechanisms in the ICC"
The Discipling Dilemma
May 6, 2003
This is one of a few issues that allegedly happened, in the NYC COC.
A generous ICC member had set up a college fund for the church, spending $35,000 of his own money to set up a $3,000,000.00 fund for students who couldn't afford to pay for college.
The evangelist wanted to use this $3Mill for pensions and compensation packages for those "leaders" who have left/stepped down.
When the evangelist was confronted about NOT using the money for those purposes the evangelist told this generous man that he didn't remember having that discussion with him. He thought it was set up for the church to use at its discretion.
On top of this, $3 million dollars was sent to Athens, GA recently. Wonder why half the resigned staff is moving to Georgia?
If anyone can double confirm on this story, would be much appreciated. This was heard a reliable source, but these are only allegations. This is one of many stories you will hear when the church gets sued, probably in addition to the big "upsetting" news that is to come.
[ 5/9/03 This story has been double, and triple, confirmed. ]
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=6075.55 "Suing the ICC / NYC COC"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
April 28, 2003
ISSUES OF CHURCH CONTRIBUTION by Dr. Marty Wooten
In the present upheaval over the decentralization of the International Churches of Christ, a chief concern is the issue of church contribution. It is difficult, if not impossible, to isolate a single concern within the complex web of related issues that has produced such turmoil. Therefore, though the focus of this paper is “tithing” or church contribution, discussion of related matters is unavoidable and, even necessary. This paper is the first of several articles, which hopefully will contribute to a better understanding of this and other issues, and the consideration and application of biblical principles for practical solutions.
It is always important to discuss an issue within its historical context. Up until the early 1990’s the teaching on church contribution within the fellowship of the International Churches of Christ emphasized primarily the need for sacrificial giving. The amount was left to the discretion of each Christian, though 10% was considered a reasonable guideline. However, as movements institutionalize, rigidity develops. After a time “true” disciples were expected to commit 10% of their income to the weekly contribution and a set multiple of their weekly contribution to the annual special missions contribution.
Transitions in ministry practices are often the result of changes in biblical interpretations, either through the discovery of new scriptures, fresh insight into familiar scriptures, or by ignoring certain teaching altogether. Though this is to be expected in the growth cycle of any church, there are potential dangers. Our tendency to “canonize” certain interpretations, particularly when they reinforce our agendas and contribute to the church’s “success,” can lead to the assumption of the biblicism of our conclusions. The emotional celebration from the achievement of certain goals is often responsible for a lack of biblical precision and the unnecessary confusion over clear biblical teaching. In the midst of these emotions, the reevaluation of “success” producing interpretations poses the threat of invasion to our theological borders.
This is not to say that a defense of traditional interpretations is always negative. The Gospel message must be defended. However, confidence in the integrity of our defense must come only after a thorough, knowledgeable, and proper study of the Scriptures. Our strong propensity towards theological rigidity and legalistic righteousness can tragically blind leaders of institutionalized religion to the need for the reexamination of traditional interpretations and “group” thought processes.
Biblical Issues Concerning “Tithing”
In light of the above discussion, I have two main points: 1) The practice of tithing is not consistent with the teaching of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament and, 2) the misuse of Scripture in support of tithing nullifies important universal spiritual principles which govern and empower disciples to live sacrificially.
Any implementation of “law” results in legalism, which by nature, is a preoccupation with the minimum, or what one has to do, and a blindness to the benefits of the maximum, or what one is privileged to do. An understanding of the latter is crucial to the understanding of the heart of Jesus. Understanding Jesus’ willingness to sacrifice is pivotal to any true assessment of the meaning of the cross. Therefore, it is imperative that we protect our freedom of choice to experience the power of a willing sacrifice.
For tithing to be an expectation for disciples in today’s church, the authority of the old covenant must be established. This use of the Old Testament ignores vital distinctions between the old and new covenants; distinctions which are foundational teachings in both Testaments, i.e. Paul's arguments in Romans and Galatians, the argumentation in the book of Hebrews, and Jeremiah's prophecy of the coming of a new covenant in Jeremiah 31. My concern over the misunderstanding and misapplication of such basic biblical teaching is as strong as my concern over the issue of tithing itself.
There are two important points in this regard. 1) Under the covenant given to Moses at Mt Sinai, the Jews were the only nation commanded to tithe (Leviticus 27:30-34), and 2) the tithes were to support the Levites only, as they maintained the Tent of Meeting. (Numbers 18:21-32) The other tribes received the land as their inheritance, while the Levites received a tenth of the land’s produce for their support.
When the need for the services of the priesthood ended, so did the need for the tithes, thus, no mention of the continuation of tithing by Jesus, the Apostles, or the writers of the New Testament. According to Heb 8:13, the covenant given to the Jews at Sinai is obsolete implying the Israelites no longer to be God's chosen people. The writer, in chapter 7, also argues that the Levitical priesthood now stands in ineffectual contrast to the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Notice the wording of Leviticus 27:30; “A tithe of everything from the land . . . belongs to the Lord.” The act of giving under the new covenant sharply contrasts the expectation of the old. Jesus taught; “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) The idea that only our tithe belongs to the Lord is nonsensical under the teaching of the new covenant. A tenth has been superseded by everything; heart, soul, mind, and strength. Young Christians are often taught that a personal budget should first include what belongs to the Lord. However, the categorization of what is God’s and what is ours is not “new covenant thinking,” and prevents the experience of sacrificial living. As followers of Christ, God now allows us to determine how we will administer what already belongs to him. (cf. Acts 5:1-4)
The transition from guideline to command, from an expedient to law is common to all churches and religious movements. In Judaism, for example, some of the early guidelines concerning appropriate behavior on the Sabbath later became codified as law, exemplified by the intense interaction between the religious leaders and Jesus. It should not shock us, therefore, when we experience the same intense dynamic when we challenge our traditions on tithing.
2 Corinthians 8 & 9
2 Corinthians 8 & 9 is the most comprehensive text in the New Testament on giving, making it vital to this discussion. Paul uses two examples to illustrate his thoughts, the Macedonian churches and Jesus Christ. The Macedonian churches gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability in the midst of what Paul describes as the most severe trial and extreme poverty. Jesus' willingness to become poor for our sake speaks for itself.
In the context of such powerful examples of sacrifice, the phrase, I am not commanding you, in 8:8 is significant, as well as problematic to the interpretation that someone has authority from God to determine whether and how much each disciple must give. There are two reasons for Paul’s position. First, each person must give in accordance to what he has. The key phrase here is; “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” (8:12)
What a disciple has is dependent on several factors. For example, how many children are in the family? What are the needs of each child? Are there elderly parents that need support? All of us recognize the legitimacy of these needs. Therefore, meeting these needs is as valid as giving to the “church” contribution. Equating “giving to God” primarily to the weekly “church” contribution shows an inconsistency, certainly with Paul, but also with the rest of the New Testament.
Recently, it came to my attention that an evangelist in a large church taught that not to give to the weekly church contribution or the special contribution was a sin before God. The reasons one has for not giving to any worthy cause always need spiritual evaluation. However, the conclusion that the act of not giving to the church contribution is a sin, is without biblical authority and reflective of methods of “command,” rather than a proper use of the biblical text.
The second reason why Paul refused to command the Corinthians is found in 2 Corinthians 9:7; “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Paul intended for each disciple to determine the amount to be given. When this right is prohibited through commands, or “shaming” disciples by conveying doubt about the sincerity of their discipleship, then reluctance and compulsion are the result. Motivation through guilt and shame, and the denial of personal decision eliminates cheerful giving. Paul believed in the need to inspire others to give sacrificially which, to him, meant the preservation of the important relationship between freedom of choice and motivation. A giver under compulsion is unable to experience the joy exemplified in the Macedonians and Jesus. A reluctant person holds back, while a cheerful giver is consumed with the joy of giving.
Church leaders in denial of these principles, often set the amount for the members and then find themselves frantic and frustrated in their efforts to create a joy about giving. The failure by members to achieve personal faith or joy, or the attempt to express reluctance about the amount is then often considered an indication of a spiritual problem. However, a teaching or its application which contradicts God’s Word is indicative of the real problem, false teaching
Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees over the tradition of “Corban,” recorded in Mark 7:9-13, is relevant here.
You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, "Honor your father and your mother," and, "Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death." But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: "Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban" (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."
Most of us have used this passage to deal with many of the false doctrines and traditions of the religious world. It is also extremely applicable to our lives concerning the present tradition of tithing. In the context of Mark 7, the nullification of God’s Word is a result of the insensitive and arrogant defense of traditions which are in contradiction to the clear intent of God. The challenge of repenting from traditions which nullify the Scripture is the threat it poses to our ecclesiastical structures. There is no historical evidence that the Pharisees explicitly taught that parents should be neglected. However, the fear of the collapse of their means of support led to the birth and passionate defense of the ungodly tradition of “Corban” and the blind insensitivity to the real needs of people.
With the normal financial pressures surrounding the maintenance of the temple, i.e. budgets to be keep, people to support, and work to be carried out, it is understandable how the doctrine of “Corban” developed. The relevance to our situation could not be more obvious. The blinding preoccupation with our “institutional success” has wreaked havoc on the God-given rights of the individual disciple. Therefore, great damage has occurred to the many hearts of the “once-willing.” In order to remain in good standing, many disciples have sought refuge in an infantile spiritual maturity level by developing an unhealthy codependency on leadership for approval, and consequently have lost faith in their personal decision making capabilities. Just as it was hard in the first century to question or say no to the powerful and intimidating religious structure of the Pharisees, so it is concerning our own structures. However, our real refuge is Jesus who was bold enough to say no in his day and stands with us when we do the same in ours.
Just Say No
I am often asked, “How should I feel about giving to the church contribution, especially when I have lost so much trust.” Above everything else, you should feel that God grants you the absolute right to decide whether to give and how much to give. Also, we must ask ourselves whether we are good stewards over what God has given us when we give to that which we no longer trust. Those in this type of quandary are often challenged to give and simply trust God. Yet, is it not also the case that in many circumstances we should not give because God trusts us?
In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira were disciplined not because of a refusal to give, but for their deceit. Peter told Ananias regarding the land he sold; “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?” (vs 4) As mentioned above, as disciples, everything we have belongs to God and is left to our discretion for its use. There are many ways to give money. For example, if we have lost trust in the church contribution, why not give directly to other disciples in need? Would that not be more effective in helping the needy remain faithful? Is that not the same as giving to the “church,” and, perhaps even a more efficient use of “God’s money”? How about giving directly to the many benevolent organizations in our cities which care for the sick and needy? Would that not help to build bridges between the church and the community? Another suggestion would be to give our “contribution” consistently to single mothers to help with their daily expenses, or to help with their child care issues. Many homes of the elderly are in serious need of repair. It is refreshing to think outside of our institutional religious “boxes,” often defended by guilt and shame, and let the Spirit move freely in our hearts.
One of the most powerful and overlooked strengths of Jesus was his unrelenting ability to say no. He said no when he was asked to be king, no when the children were kept from him, no when tempted by Satan, no when accused of breaking the law, no when accused of blasphemy, no when he attacked the unbiblical practice of “Corban”, no when commanded to speak before Pilate, and no to sin. There is much power in the word no. When we say no to legalism, self-righteousness and hypocrisy, we are at the same time saying yes to joy, freedom, and confidence. Saying no does need to be loud, brash, disobedient, or unruly. It just needs to be firm, resolute, and confident. Setting your boundaries by affirming your right to say no in one area is not necessarily a reflection of a negative spirit, but rather, an important means to be led by the Spirit to the many other opportunities God needs us to fulfill.
Part of our dilemma as disciples is feeling torn over many leaders who have been guilty of harshness, insensitivity, deceit, and emotional abuse, and yet still expect our financial support. We all need to decide how we want to live for God, either in fear, and in the constant attempt to win the approval of others, or by making the decision to grow up and experience the freedom of Christian living within God’s boundaries for our personal lives. One of the sad realities of institutional religion is that it leaves most disciples numb over the years of being told how to think, how to feel, and what to believe. While there is some comfort in numbness, it can lead to spiritual death.
It is clear from the New Testament that sacrificial living holds much promise for all of our lives (Romans 12:1). This concerns not just our money, but everything we own and are, now belongs to the Lord. In the terminology of the New Testament there is no such thing as giving back to the Lord, because “giving back” indicates a transfer of ownership. The act of giving in the New Testament is towards a particular work or to meet a particular need and therefore, is referred to as the collection for God's people, or service to the saints (1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:4).
God has replaced the system of predetermined percentages with a covenant in which the needs of others are written on the hearts of all disciples. As Paul trusted the adequacy of the example of Jesus to stimulate and inspire the brothers and sisters to give entirely on their own and beyond their ability so we must also trust the power of the Gospel message. This trust activates a life of joyful sacrifice.
Much of the present turmoil over the salaries of the ministry staff reflects a justified concern over the violation of biblical teaching and spiritual principles. Years of giving “under compulsion” has finally born fruit. Ministers trained to “make it happen,” have missed Paul’s determination to “inspire it to happen,” and are therefore, facing intense scrutiny. Rightly so, God will not be mocked. We have and will continue to reap what we sow. (Gal 6:7) The emphasis on the “letter” does indeed kill; it kills unity, trust, sacrifice, and inevitably, the church’s identity as belonging to Christ. (Gal 5:4) The alternative is to live by the “Spirit,” which is God’s way to infuse life back into the church. Paul words to the Corinthians are appropriate, “. . . for the letter kills and the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor 3:6)
Because of our disobedience to the Scriptures and the creation of a legalistic approach to giving and other areas of ministry, we have witnessed the fulfillment of Paul’s warnings in the spiritual death of thousands who have given up on God. Those who have not left God, have felt the necessity to leave the fellowship of many churches, in order to preserve their faith and joy in God. Unfortunately, hindsight is not always 20/20. The legalist sees “. . . but a poor reflection as in a mirror;” (1 Cor 13:12). The lessons are there, but the pain of the honest admission of failure obscures the narrow pathway to a fuller understanding of the message. Therefore, the saying, “history always repeats itself” is a foundational truism for those led by the “letter.”
It is never too late to change. However, the same issues responsible for the problems still stand as obstacles to its revitalization; deceit, pride, concern over support and position, “old covenant” training methods, and “group think.” With humility and obedience to the truth, each of us can move from the old to the new. From disciples who courageously refuse to follow the path of legalistic traditions and expectations, God can instill within a new generation the passion of “new covenant” dreams.
Let us all give the Spirit a chance. We have quenched him for too long. Just say no to the traditions of men and unhealthy codependency, and witness the fulfillment of God’s promises in your life. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:7-8)
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=5920.1 "Marty Wooten: Issues of Contribution"
April 19, 2003
Why was it never made public that Chuck Lucas' "recurring sin" was, at least in part, homosexual in nature? (Yes, I know it's the worst-kept secret in Crossroads history, but why was it not announced?)
Why were the names of his homosexual partners never announced? Were any of his interns (Kip McKean, Sam Laing, Tom Brown, Tom Bogle, et al.) involved with him in this sin? Did any of these interns KNOW ABOUT this sin? If they did, why have THEY never made it public?
Why was Chuck Lucas the only man in the world outside the ICOC that Kip McKean would publicly claim was a Christian? Why did Kip and Martin Bentley wait so long to have Chuck removed from office on account of this sin?
As fiercely as Kip has exposed and opposed the sexual sins of others, why did he give Chuck Lucas such latitude?
How is it that Chuck ended up being an evangelist in his own church of Christ in Thomasville, GA, with these sins never having been exposed publicly? How is it that there has been (informal, at least) cooperation between Chuck, Chuck's kids, and the Atlanta Church's summer teen camps?
Are any of Chuck's former homosexual partners currently leading ICOC churches? Are any of these former interns on record as having made assertions one way or the other about their involvement? Have any of them even been asked about these things in a public forum?
How is it that folks are afraid to talk about these issues for fear of "hurting the children", when the children need to know the truth just like all the rest of us who are healing from this mess?
Why does it seem that Sam Laing as enjoyed far more latitude at Triangle than have other evangelists in the movement? Is this related to the fact that he obviously knows more the Chuck Lucas scandal than the public knows?
Did the WSLs discuss these matters during the Sabbatical/Resignation negotiations?
Is it only a coincidence that the stereotypical homosexual characteristics of being deceitful, being controlling, being obsessed with sexual matters, and being overly-interested in the personal affairs of others, are also well-established characteristics of ICOC leadership?
Is it proper for God's people to espouse the same kind of blind pragmatism that kept the immoral Bill Clinton's approval rates high as long as the economy was good? Do you even want to know if your current/former heroes practiced homosexuality and covered it up?
These are all important questions and I believe that many of the early evangelists in the Boston movement were partners of Chuck's.
The sin in the movement from the beginning has really doomed this group due to the hypocrisy of demanding absolute openness while they continue to hide their sins (it is the hypocrisy rather than the sexual sin that is the issue for me, for most struggle in one way or another with sexual issues).
Some info has been made available through an email over the several weeks that I keep hearing will be coming out soon. But so far, it's been pretty quiet.
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=5745.1 "Chuck Lucas' Homosexual Partners"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
Reveal: "History Repeats Itself: The Rise and Fall of Kip McKean & Chuck Lucas"
April 16, 2003
If you want information on ACES or the NYCoC and they are not willing to share it, the State Attorney General wants to hear from you. You can fill out a form and fax it to them. Everything will be confidential.
I was told by an aide at SAG that some members have contacted the office, but unfortunately have not filled out the necessary form. There are not enough
people coming forward and filling out the form. Calling them is NOT enough.
You can fill out a Complaint/Inquiry Form or The Freedom of Information Law Request Form. Both of these forms are located at the web address below.
Forms are at http://www.oag.state.ny.us/charities/char030.pdf
Web site http://www.oag.state.ny.us/charities/charities.html
Filling out these forms does not mean someone will get into trouble. It will give you answers to unanswered questions.
New York State Office of the Attorney General
120 Broadway, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10271
March 27, 2003
[ Link here to Financial Statements ]
To Sam Powell and others,
After reviewing the Financial Statements given out yesterday, I might say that was the most watered down financial report I have seen yet from an organization that is trying to clear its name.
It does not contain substantial information about the real financials of the church. It does not include a Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statements that will help determine if money is being covered up or not. It does not describe what various expenses mean and what it was used for. Where is the income tax form that is submitted to the government that will shed more light on the church's financials than the information that was released? That would have been a lot better to see then what was released. What about 2001, 2000 and especially 1999?
Well for me, it opens a lot more questions then I originally had because of the fact it was extremely watered down.
The only concrete information that is interesting to note is the fact that Steve's and Lisa's Johnson released their personal income information. According to them, their total compensation package was $145,000 which included their housing allowance of $3,300/mo while working for ACES and NYCOC. This is not including their three areas of benefits: Health and disability insurance, TSA (retirement payments which commence at age 35), and professional reimbursements (any legitimate expense for the ministry or when traveling). Steve's share stated that last year’s professional reimbursements totaled about $16,000.00.
So this means the following: $145,000/yr minus (3,300/mo * 12 = $39,600) = $105,400 for their gross pay before housing allowance, $16,000 for professional reimbursements before taxes (40%) equals $27,428.57, $39,600 for housing allowance before taxes (40%) equals $67,885.71 (a minister who receives a housing allowance may exclude the allowance from gross income to the extent it is used to pay expenses in providing a home) for a grand total of $200,714.29 of gross income.
THIS does NOT INCLUDE Benefits (medical, disability, dental and life insurance) and other methods of income for the position they hold. It also does not include other income or benefits in the financial statements. The financial sheet information released does not point out or illustrate any additional benefits that employees get. Why not? What are the numbers? Those benefits can push Steve and Lisa Johnson’s income beyond what was already released. Retirement payments that start at the age of 35? That is a very early age to start retiring. Can you please clear that up?
NOW I AM NOT SAYING that the CHURCH should release the personal information of people's salary but knowing that Steve and Lisa make that much is disturbing. Furthermore, not releasing information about the church's financials does not help me determine if that is the extent of corruption of money and power in the church's financials. What accounting tricks were used in order to cover up where the church's money was used?
Also I want to see more information about the ACES financials where $2,246,400 was sent from NYCOC to ACES Corporation. How ACES used that money is not shown in those financial statements. Are they going to be released? If so, when?
I would like the church to REALLY come clean and release information that will help us determine if the money was used wisely or not. I am not talking about individual people's salary, though that I was nice of Steve and Lisa, but a detailed financial information including cash flow and balance sheet statements that will help us to determine what is going on.
My personal feeling is that they are probably one of the lowest paid leaders. According to your report it was stated that the highest range is $84,714 for married men and $70,279 for married women, which is $154,993 before benefits, housing allowance, and professional expenses.
And what is up with putting on the first page that we are in a deficit of -14,279 for the period of January 1 to February 28, 2003 for the Brooklyn Region?
If this information was more accurate and detailed then I will feel fine to give... now I have lost even the little confidence that I had that money was used and will be used wisely and justly with a Christ-like attitude.
Putting that -14,279 in the first page... for what? To make me feel guilty or worried about the church is losing money because of the lack of people's faith in the church? Why take so long to issue such a watered down report? When is the real report coming out? The times of pushing around people using guilt is over. Do not turn the tables.
Take your time and I am sure that negative value will get worse.
As for the rest of us, let's pressure the leadership to release some real answers for once, instead of hearing a watered down excuse for information. How you do it, is up to you.
P.S. The saddest part is that less then 1% of total revenue is used for local benevolence. The people that need it the most are within our own church. So the stories that single moms had a hard time collecting from the church, and will use outside help including the Catholic church because it was easier... what will Jesus think?
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=5184.1 "NYC Financials - Rebuttal"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
February 7, 2003
Shortly after Mike Leatherwood's letter, November 2002, Kip McKean resigned after being on sabbatical. His children had all left the church. He confessed his "sins" before the congregations in a resignation letter and special service. (See Reveal)
Henry Kreite's letter was released around today, February 7. (See also "HK Letter" link on menu bar)
After the release of this letter in London, it was rapidly circulated around the world via Internet, including the ICC Discussion Forum.
The rest of this blog is essentially the various reactions to alleged corruption detailed in Kreite's letter.
REACTIONS TO HK LETTER
New Covenant: Individual Church Reactions to HK Letter
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS
ICC DF: Kip's letter of resignation
October 18, 2002
Mike Leatherwood was a very loved and trusted evangelist who led the Chemical Recovery ministry (substance abuse issues) and other special needs ministries around the world. He is also suspected of improper behavior. However, despite this, his letter speaks truth in volumes.
This is the long version of Mike's letter sent to the ICC leadership in the NYC church. Posted with permission.
Dear Steve and Lisa, the Elders, D-Group and Staff,
After 25 years in the Movement and 17 years on staff with the NYC Church of Christ, I have decided to leave the ICOC. It has been a difficult decision and one that cost me a great deal. It has divided my immediate family and I am paying a very high price both personally and professionally. I say this because I want you to know that this is not a selfish decision or a matter of simply having my ego or feelings hurt. It is a matter of conscience!
Over the past 17 years a number of things have occurred with which I did not agree but I know that no one or no church is perfect and for the sake of unity I decided to resolve or simply overlook what I considered to be non-essential matters. I hope my track record shows that I am not a divisive person. Why then would I choose to leave now?
In the past two years I have seen scores of disciples in individual counseling sessions. The majority of these clients have suffered various types of abuse in their past. What has been disturbing however is the majority of these people have been exposed to more trauma at the hands of many leaders in this church. I realize that most people do not feel what I feel and I do not expect them to. Most people will not agree with my decision to leave and I understand that too. If I had only seen what most disciples have, I would probably remain as well. As a matter of fact, I want to be on record as having encouraged all of my clients to stay. I am only leaving because I have to and I wouldn't expect anyone else to leave unless they felt the same. My vantage point, however, has given me a unique perspective. Seeing 30-40 disciples each week has allowed me to see a pattern of trauma, abuse, and oppression that is appalling. Last Thursday brought all of this into a very sharp focus. I had been praying about my concerns and asking God to make what I needed to do clear. Thursday I received my answer, a moment of clarity when all doubts and confusion suddenly just vanished. A young man whom I have known for several years came into my office that day. Although he has a number of problems, I believe that he loves God and is a disciple. He suffers from a severe panic disorder, agoraphobia, which makes it extremely difficult for him to leave his house and attend all of the church services. He told me in tears that he had been called into an appointment with his sector leader the previous Thursday and confronted regarding his lack of attendance at the services. He was informed at that time that he had actually been taken off the church role the previous November but had never been notified. He was told at that time that he was not considered a disciple because of his lack of commitment. In order to be restored to the church role he would have to redo the studies that the church does with non-Christians and that he would not be allowed to date during this time. He left the meeting so traumatized that he suffered a severe panic attack. He described how his thoughts began to race and how he began to feel totally out of control. He stated that he knew that it was wrong and that he shouldn't have done it and then he raised his sleeve to reveal self-inflicted wounds, gashes cut into the entire length of his arm with a pocketknife. He stated that cutting his arm was the only way he knew to relieve the pain that he was suffering in his mind and heart. In my opinion it's probably the only thing that kept him from committing suicide. I felt a wave of sadness and rage crash over me. I felt physically sick. It was all that I could do to stay in the session. My first thoughts were, "What a tragedy, this didn't have to happen." What was done to him was not only unethical but also criminal. What kind of system fosters such abuse? How can we stand in judgement on the Catholic Church and the abuse of their priest? How self-righteous! Although this may be seen as an extreme example, this is not an isolated instance. It is merely the tip of the iceberg. This happened in spite of the fact that I have offered, been prepared, and been promised on numerous occasions, to help train the staff in order to prevent what I feared would happen. I don't blame the sector leader for this. I understand that he is a young leader, but I do hold Steve Johnson, the Elders, and Steve and Lisa's discipleship group, responsible. You could have prevented this from happening.
Brothers you know my life. I am far from perfect, as my children and my wife can attest, but you know the ways that I have faithfully serviced Christ and His Church for many, many years. From my perspective, and again I realize that it is a unique one, what came into focus for me is a Church that in its heart has absolutely lost Jesus. Although I know that there are many faithful Christians in the NYCC of C, I do believe that it is, or is in grave danger of becoming, a body severed from the Head, that is Christ. I see very little resemblance ot Jesus in the leadership. What I do see is an emphasis on works and a legal system created by Kip and fostered by you as leaders. Legalism breeds religious pride, cruelty and oppression. I don't think that this was or is your intent, but intended or not, it is the fruit of 20+ years of works righteousness.
My intent is not to pull people away from the NYCC of C. Again, I don't expect people to agree with my perception or decision. I expect you to be angry and defensive. I don't expect you to take a hard look at yourselves. For some reason that seems almost impossible for Steve. Maybe this will help you to change, although I must say that I am not extremely hopeful. Instead, I expect you to attack me and my family for our obvious faults. This allows the focus to remain on someone else. After all, if we can use such loaded terms as "fall away" or "divisive" then you can avoid the pain of the radical humility that it will take to turn this around. I know that some of you just don't see what I've seen, but how much do you want to see it?
Those of you who have been Steve and Lisa's closest advisors ergarding the emotional needs and the spiritual health of the Church have done an absolutely horrendous job. I hold you especially responsible. Your religious pride and arrogance coated by a thin veneer of false humility makes it hard to detect the hatefulness and harshness that only the weak will ever be subjected to. You have missed the heart, the compassion, and the empathy of Jesus. In closing the door on the emotional recovery ministry and not aggressively training the staff to empathically relate to others, you have denied nurturing and healing to those placed in your care. David and Coleen Graham came to New York with a lot of hurt, but with a fresh and vibrant perspective that clearly resonated with the members in the North NJ sector. It is a shame that they did not receive the support that they needed, but only resistance and criticism. I think it shows a lack of connection with the needs of the members. The way that they were treated reflects the fear of losing of control that is so pervasive in your leadership. What exactly is it that makes controlling people so important?
I have decided not to meet with Steve although he has made repeated attempts to meet with me. It has been my experience in my many meetings over the last 17 years that they are not productive. It is extremely difficult to be heard. I have felt either overpowered, manipulated or patronized. This is not a personal matter. It is a systemic one. I applaud the efforts of the Boston Church in making sincere efforts to dismantle a legalistic system that breeds oppression and denies freedom. I think you as leaders often wonder why you have so much trouble getting the members to read their Bibles, pray, tithe, etc. What do you expect when you infantalize people in order to control them because they are not to be trusted with their freedom? Again it sounds like the reasoning of the Catholic Church. When you strip people of their freedom you create a spiritual nursery which allows you to control people in order to make yourselves feel more powerful, or get more done (after all, you can get more done in the short run by getting people to follow orders). But then we turn around and get mad at them and humiliate them in "D" times because they aren't growing up and taking responsibility for themselves. No wonder people are confused and frustrated. You can't have it both ways. Legalism and control fosters oppression and immaturity. You cannot continue to control and manipulate people and expect them to be mature and responsible. Can't you see that the spiritual immaturity of the church is simply the result of the lack of grace and freedom you have denied people in order to control them, even if it was with the best of intentions? The end does not justify the means. The real end is a weak and immature church in which you have to shout louder or get more "fired up" to get results. Grace and freedom are central to the teaching about Jesus and without it we will only seem to grow.
I am not interested in the least in strting a new church. I will not solicit people to leave the NYCC of C. However, I will continue to love God andcare, and I am very grateful for that.f be a part of his Church. I will continue to advocate for the oppressed. I am committed to offering a place of shelter and safety, a place of freedom, compassion and dignity for those who are weary and burdened. This is the Great Commission that I'm convinced that the NYCC of C has lost sight of. I will pray for you that you will have the humility and courage to look deeply within yourselves as leaders. This could be the defining moment for the church, your opportunity to step up, as the leaders have in Boston, and to lead the church out of the darkness of legalism, oppression and immaturity. It is only to that Church, a Church committed to the heart of Jesus, that I will ever again belong.
http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=2579.1 "Mike Letterwood's letter - long version"
RELEVANT HISTORICAL LINKS:
A Psychological Study of the ICC (MBTI)
Reveal: "Control Mechanisms in the ICC"