The true origins of the ABC's doctrines have been kept deliberately hidden from the members from the very beginning. I too was ignorant of the origins until I well into adulthood researched the true roots of the church. What I found in this research was that the doctrines followed had been established well before I was even born. It was a painful endeavor for me to search back through the years but after my final ouster from the "Assembly of the Body of Christ" church for the “crime of blasphemy” I found it necessary to understand the ability of a group of people who purport to show love to be so spiritually and genuinely cruel. In some ways it was therapeutic to finally understand how it came to be that my dad could create an organization that could so easily and deeply harm people. In my research I discovered the roots are buried quite deep and those who have been members for a long period; if they can be honest with themselves; will know when they read this it is true.
While it is generally reported that the ABC sprang spontaneously from a small bible study at the Wilcrest Apartments in Seattle Washington I discovered this was not at all accurate. My research showed the ABC stemmed straight out of the doctrines of several denominations and movements; mainly from a Pentecostal root; and was then well fertilized with major influences of several other aberrant movements such as the “Shepherding Movement" and Bob Larson ministries. The doctrines from these other movements intertwine the roots and only become clearly visible when one takes the time to dig up the roots completely and then observe the path they follow closely. Once the roots are fully exposed it is not difficult to see the denominational origins of the ABC. This is important to note because the ABC claims no denominational doctrinal ties. This is a falsehood.
For many years I accepted at face value what I was told. It is inherent in a spiritually abusive and coercive organization, like the ABC, to do what you are told or risk serious damage to your life. It is inherent also that you think your church has exclusive rights to the road to salvation and that to leave that road is certain spiritual and possibly physical death. It is, in fact, a spiritual power play contrived by men’s ego to keep hold on members and it is well disguised with false love.
I was a rather immature youth of fourteen when the ABC, in its visible form anyhow, began. Prior to the forming of the ABC our family suffered through several major emotional traumas. The worst being when my mom and I were abandoned without a penny to our name by my father. We lived during these first months of abandonment in a basement broom closet in the Bellingham Hotel in Bellingham Washington. Thankfully we never actually spent a day on the street itself. More on that later. For many many years, decades actually, in an effort to maintain a tranquility, I did whatever I was told and would do whatever would not disturb the peace around me by "rocking the boat”. The easiest route to tranquility was to simply go along and not question. Just do whatever I was told, no matter how absurd it really was. This was a fruitless effort however since peace was never maintained in my family or life. I would find myself embroiled many times in major family turmoil.
In these postings I draw on my own recollections of the decades I spent within the confines of the ABC. It is, of course, written from my perspective but I calculated I spent about one thousand hours over a several year period researching the web, books, court records and other sources before actually sitting down to write. It was this research that finally opened my eyes completely to a great many things about my father and the ABC. I finally discovered the truth I had blocked out for so many years. It was at times very painful to discover. My initial feelings are best summed up by the poem “It Hurts” by Jan Groenveld. Things that had been kept hidden from me, or that I simply chose not to acknowledge as fact for so many years, became so much more clear the more I dug into my research. The more the true roots became visible the more I began to grasp what was the true path and mission of the ABC. I had mixed emotions about many of my discoveries. It was a mixture of peace at finally realizing or acknowledging the truth and tears for those I had once loved as "family" but would likely never see or speak with again. It was, in many ways, as if I had suddenly woken from a slumber and could see with a clear mind the ABC for what it really was, an abusive aberrant church and institution that had once fully capitalized my life. When I finally put all of the pieces together the reasons things happened the way they did over the years made so much more sense.
After my father's death in October 1985, at age sixty-two, four men took the reins of his church; Gilbert Larson (the Apostle), Andy Atwell (the Evangelist), Bruce Leonard (a “ruling” elder”), and David North (the Prophet). Prior to my father's death I, and my entire family, were expelled from my dad’s church and I had been completely disowned by him. After this disowning I remained forever disconnected from my father. That was his choice and not mine but it is for this reason I must rely on the report of others for details about this period of time.
The change in leadership when my father died reportedly occurred after a sustained power struggle between three of the leaders and my step-mother Yvonne. This struggle, lasting for an extended period of time from what I understand, was very heated and full of hostilities. Some of this I witnessed indirectly from letters sent to me by my stepmother Yvonne as she unsuccessfully attempted to take the reins of the church. Based on the churches current website Gilbert Larson may now be taking a lesser role in the church he led for quite a few years. It is assumed this is due to his health which has been failing for a number of years. Four men appear to now be the represented leaders; David North, Andy Atwell, Robin Hesley and AJ Weisenburger. I was once friends with the first three but do not know the fourth. It is important to point out there is a list of leaders on their site since the ABC stands by the false contention there are no leaders. They teach all are equal but, as can be clearly seen and evidenced by their own materials, they in fact do have designated leaders. Under these top men (women are not allowed a leadership role) are those considered to be ruling elders, then under them are elders, and scattered about the various groups are designated musicians. The title lines are not always finely drawn and, as a general rule, only the top men receive pay for their services. The rest are unpaid.
The ABC, as I will show, grew straight out of the intertwined roots of the Pentecostal, Latter Rain and Branhamism denominational movements and has within it also a scattering of other influences. It is only the visible church stem we see today and that visible stem was a small gathering in Seattle at the Wilcrest Apartments. Over the years this stem has grown into an aberrant denomination which is actually just an offshoot from the intertwined Latter Rain movement and Assembly of God denomination. The ties to these influences are only visible if one digs a bit to reveal them. Once exposed they show what is the true origins of the doctrines espoused by the ABC.
This new denomination, the ABC, continues to meet exclusively in homes across a wide swath of mostly western states although they now seem to claim groups across the U.S. and perhaps into Canada. It has never had more than a relatively few active members; a testament to the abusive nature of this aberrant church; and persons are brought in with false love then usually abandoned. Over the years there have been great numbers that have joined but most drifted away when the burdens placed became too heavy to bear. Some were dealt with quite unmercifully and were left crushed and very broken. A few suffered debilitating mental illness as a direct result of the harsh treatment meted out by the ABC. It is difficult to keep members when the worship of God is a hugely complex system of Greek word studies and hard line doctrine devoid of mercy and, dare I say, any substantial truth. The harsh manner of keeping things in line, and questions at bay, destroys any joy one has. This makes for a people who are very weakened and unable to defend themselves.
Having lived in "Assembly of the Body of Christ" (ABC) from the beginning I know, and have witnessed personally, many things about the origins of its practices and current leadership. I knew all of the current leaders, save one, for quite a few decades. I try to believe that none of them, with the possible exception of one, start their day intending to do harm to others yet they do cause great harm. The ultra-fundamental, unbending and unmerciful nature of their doctrine leaves little room for anything but destruction of men’s souls on a large scale.
When I view the ABC, in retrospect, it is clear persons are drawn in with the empty promise of love, and a larger knowledge of scripture, but many; and it could realistically be argued most; are eventually pushed out the back end disillusioned with the path their life has taken. Many have been crushed by the burdens too heavy to bear they lay on people. It pains me I was once part of this system of influences that caused so much pain to so many people.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. Matthew 23:4Over the years I stood personally against many of the "disciplines" I saw meted out and defiant against the spiritual, physical and emotional abuses I saw inflicted on others but stayed silent. Even very young children were not spared these harsh disciplines. I was dealt some very harsh treatments both as a youth and as an adult. Why I did not speak out louder and sooner is a matter that bothers me greatly to this day. I witnessed some rather harsh judgments. It is one of the things that prompted me to write this website. I want to warn others away who may be thinking of becoming involved. I have come to the conclusion that when one lives, and spends many formative years in, a culture of false oneness,secrecy, silence and blind obedience, silence is the inevitable outcome. Silence is sometimes a way of keeping peace with your surroundings but it is not a true peace. It is perhaps a cowardly peace.
Silence, in the ABC, is taught to be a “righteous” endeavor while speaking out against abuse is labeled as “rebellious” and “evil”. When I spoke out against abuses I saw inflicted on others, and when the “disciplines” given to me by a man named Bruce Leonard in Vancouver WA became quite sadistic; and even at one point life threatening, the leaders, under Bruce's tutelage and influence, sought to discredit me to essentially push me back into my cowardly silence. The worst charge they could find to level against me however was to accuse me of blasphemy. They were successful in silencing me for quite a few years but when I discovered they were hitting the airwaves once again I could not stay silent.
After I did not agree to abide by their “discipline” I was ex-communicated. Those who chose to still communicate with me were told they must decide if they were “in the body” or “out of the body”. This is a scary scenario to an ABC member since one is taught that to achieve salvation you must be “in the body”. The “body” of course really meaning “the ABC” church but it is taught to be a spiritual place. All other places are considered to be “the wilderness” where one is subject to being disowned by God.
I have been told the latest ploy to discredit me is to simply tell those who read these postings that my words are just lies and I made it all up. I can accept that one should not just accept my words at face value. Any person reading these words should seek out the proof independently. Ask questions. It is a noble endeavor to seek truth for oneself since allows one to look past the actually very obvious fallacies. It was believing only the “truth” I was told to believe that caused me many years of blindness to the abuses of the ABC. The truth of the origins of the ABC are found in many documents on the web relating to the Latter Rain, Pentecostal and other movements. I have placed only a very few of those documents on this site but there are many more on the web and in books for your own research. There are also public documents at the King County courthouse in Seattle WA which prove the abandonment of our family by my father Ramon A Haas; the founder of the ABC; in November of 1968 and his subsequent marriage ,very shortly thereafter, to his new wife Esther Yvonne Van de Kamp (McMurray) on July 7, 1969. This marriage followed Yvonne's mirror image divorce from her spouse, John Van de Kamp. Both divorces concluded before the exact same judge, both my dad and Yvonne were represented by the exact same attorney and the marriages were dissolved on the same exact date before the same judge. Too many similarities to chalk up to coincidence. This pair of divorces was followed immediately by a marriage union performed by a minister at a wedding chapel and witnessed by my grandparents. My grandmother confided in me years later that she witnessed the marriage under great duress and she had been forbidden to tell me about the marriage should I call. This marriage followed after years of an adulterous relationship between my dad and Yvonne.
Since my father believed that to start a church one must be married he had done this with the explicit goal of ridding himself of the majority of his natural family. This allowed him the ability to start “The Group”; which later become known as the “Assembly of the Body of Christ” without need to explain why he had been expelled from the church in which he had once held a leadership role. It is interesting to note my dad’s divorce was granted by default since my mom did not appear in court. This, as I will recount in a later posting, is because at the time we, my mom and I, were living homeless in the basement of the Bellingham hotel in Bellingham Washington in a supply closet on rolling cots with absolutely no money and no way to get to Seattle for the hearing. I was not at their wedding and did not learn about it until much later, even though my fourteenth birthday was the day following the wedding. Once my dad abandoned us I did not hear from again until I ended up back in Seattle due to my mom's severe emotional decline brought on by the stress of the situation.
The wedding was held in secret and for many decades thereafter was kept secret. In fact, at a meeting held in 1993 to discuss setting up a retirement pension for Yvonne, most in the room were still unaware she was not my natural mother. Some were insisting I pay to take care of her myself instead of the church tithe. When I balked, and announced she was not my mother, there was a shocked silence in the room and many puzzled faces. Gilbert Larson moved the topic quickly to another matter to avoid explanation.
There are many documents and writings which prove the things I have written here but my goal with these postings is not to be a thorough examining of the many decades. That would require a book. These postings are simply to tell my story from my own perspective and quite abbreviated. I have no intent to throw a bunch of family mud so it is not intended to be a complete expose’. I have amassed a large volume of other documents substantiating these facts I have written and altogether have perhaps approximately one-thousand hours of research dedicated to these postings. I once had many more letters and documents produced by the ABC showing the many abuses over the years. I was at one time ordered by David North to burn them but did not. The box containing these documents mysteriously disappeared from my house one day however when a man named Robert asked if he could speak to his son in private in my garage after a meeting. I had taken him to that box in the garage once to show him some of the proofs I had of the abuses and so he knew precisely where it was stored. This man, Robert, had shown up at my front door a number of times when I was "out of fellowship", on orders from Yvonne, to give me a tongue lashing and to forbid me to speak to anyone associated with the ABC. This was not long after I was ex-communicated the first time in San Diego California and had moved to Port Orchard Washington. I have no doubt he took that box and destroyed the contents at the behest of the ABC leadership but of this I have only suspicions.
There is much more to the story than has been written here but not all is worth the telling. Some of the story should not ever be told as the telling could bring more hurt to others who have already been hurt badly. I have included only the major highlights which shed light on the chain of events that caused this new denomination to be born and to expose it's roots. I feel I have mostly accomplished that goal without malice and with honesty. The proof is for the finding if you doubt my words and I urge you to discover the facts for yourself. As I state I write from my own perspective but the facts are still the facts and they are available to anyone with the inclination to seek them out as I did.
In my research I discovered the ABC is only one of many similar aberrant churches that do great damage to people. Here is a good site that explains how aberrant churches work. I have no affiliation with this site; it is the work of others but has some good information. There are also other worthy books and resources listed in the sidebar of this site. NEXT POST