In 1972 a man named Ray offered us the use of his home to use in Lake Forest Park. He and his family had been in "the group" for just a short time and in his effort to “help the cause” he allowed us to live in this home without payment. Having moved already eighteen times in less than seventeen years I was not thrilled with having to move again. It would also mean yet another change of schools and since I was now in high school I really did not want to change schools again. I spoke with the school and they allowed me a waiver to cross district boundaries and continue at the same school. I walked eight miles round trip each day from Lake Forest Park to the school and back. I enjoyed the walk, became somewhat fit in the process and continue to walk long distances on a regular basis today.
Three years had gone by since the Wilcrest Apartment days and "the group" had grown in numbers substantially. The grumblings were still present but were effectively kept beneath the surface. Most new members were not even aware there was trouble brewing beneath the surface and they saw only new friendships and pasted smiles. The grumblings focused still on the use of tithe money and the autonomy of the meetings. These were the same issues that had plagued “the group” since the very first split. Most speaking up were feeling like they were not being heard so this created great agitation just beneath the surface...waiting for an outlet.
Meeting homes had changed quite a bit over the years and now, in 1972, there were regularly scheduled home meetings in Snohomish WA, West Seattle, Lynnwood WA, Everett WA, Grants Pass OR, and a few other homes I may have forgotten. There were a few individuals who had been baptized in the ABC but did not live close to an existing home meeting so we would visit them on occasion, hold small communion meetings in their homes with just their families then travel home the same night. My dad adopted the title of “Circuit Rider” since we seemed to be always on the road.
The tithe remained centralized and all home meetings under the direction of my dad paid their money directly to him and Yvonne. My step-mother remained in charge of the books and none of the tithe was given back to each home group to decide how it was spent, nor were they ever given any accounting of how it was spent. This would eventually culminate in a major split in the group decimating some of the home groups north of Seattle. They were then reformed into the homes of others.
Having all of the tithe directed to my dad meant he now had enough money to pass "Medic Repair" on to Earl. This was given to him to win his support in the tithe war and his home in Snohomish WA became a site of meetings. It was essentially Earl's business now and my dad was free to focus his time on writing books, making tapes and traveling in a circuit Thursdays and Saturdays to different home meetings in two states. For me, this meant I heard each of his teachings at least half a dozen times as we traveled from home to home.
Within a few weeks after moving to Lake Forest Park my stepmother, Yvonne; a woman who ruled all children with an iron fist; determined I was a rebellious teen and needed to be put "on strict discipline". There was no explanation given to me of what I did to earn this title past being "rebellious”. I am assuming being seventeen now I sought some autonomy from the family but no examples of my "rebellion" were given and I still wonder to this day what brought about such a fierce discipline.
The discipline chosen for my "teen rebellion" was that I would be confined to my bedroom for my entire Junior year in high school unless I was at a church meeting or in school. During this confinement, I was to do my homework first, then any remaining time left was to be spent reading the bible and doing Greek Word Studies from John Stegenga’s book. To prove I had been studying the bible, and not just sitting in my room, I had to write a weekly report on what I had learned from the Greek word studies. Each Friday night I was made to sit with Yvonne, read her my report and listen to her critique. She would be ultra-demeaning in these sessions and they were tortuous. It was of course her opinion against mine and there was not much give and take. The upside was I did become very good at doing research and used that to my advantage later as it allowed me to get out of the final months of that "discipline".
During this period my dad was in the middle of developing a new teaching on Creation, including information on the “Pre-Adamic world” and how dinosaurs fit in to the scheme of earth history. I had signed up for several extra-curricular activities in high school, one of them working as an aide in the teachers center creating materials for the school staff; the other in the library audio-visual department operating the projectors and organizing the films. This allowed me access to school facilities after hours. I struck a deal with my dad that I would stay behind at school each day doing research for him and would type up excerpts from books and articles related to the science of creation for him. He went along with the deal and so I would prepare slides of pictures in books and type then mimeograph his notes. This I offered to do in exchange for being freed from the remaining confinement in my room to do Greek word studies and participation in the hellish sessions with Yvonne. I considered it a small victory since it got me away from the house into a little more "normalcy" and, under this arrangement, I would return home just in time for dinner then go to my room to do my homework. It wasn't perfect, but not as bad as the full time room confinement, report writing and sessions with Yvonne.
Being considered "rebellious" is a label I have lived with, on and off, for many many years. Eventually I just learned to live with it but , I suppose, since I am writing this history, I am once again no doubt considered a rebel. I was "brought before the elders" more times than I can possibly list here and for things that would normally have been just parental guidance or fatherly instruction to a teen or young adult. It was humiliating being brought before the elders for very minor offenses or being publicly defamed before the whole church. In my senior year I began to have anxiety attacks from the stresses being put on me but these did not concern my dad or Yvonne. It was just more proof I was “in sin” and “rebellious”.
This label of "rebellious" has been attached to many people and they too have been "disciplined" and humiliated before all in the same manner. The discipline of others included things such as being commanded not to speak with anyone else, both in and out of the meetings, being forced to sit in the back of the room or being forbidden to take communion or eat with others. It was intentionally humiliating treatment and this manner of "discipline" continues in the ABC. It is very wrong.
The Lake Forest Park days lasted not quite a year and a half, ending halfway through my senior year in high school. It was then time to move...again...but this time there would be no walking to school since we moved about twenty miles north to a large farm in Monroe WA . This move was being made to allow room for the purchase of a large bus which was to be converted to a "mobile ministering machine" and would be used to bring the ABC to other states then eventually to Mexico. In my next post, after a short bit about general history, I will continue my time progression by covering this Monroe WA era.