As I look back at my life in the ABC and how I and my family were treated I realize how much fallacy I actually just blocked out. There have been several periods in my life when I was able to escape all, or most, of the ABC's influence and it was during these periods I found times of peace. Why I left that peace and returned to the ABC is not so really a mystery as I returned the second time out of a sense of imposed guilt. More on that later.
Much of the "under the surface" tumult; glare if you will; is invisible to the newcomer as they are deliberately shielded from it. This way, by standard practice in the ABC, the "new babe is not harmed". It is impossible to keep these glaring problems hidden forever though and when it finally comes to light the new person is advised, "for the sake of unity" just put on these polarized lenses like everyone else, ignore the glare of problems and upheavals all around you, and continue with us in the same direction.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace. James 3:17-18The goal in life should be peace. There is not a great deal of peace in the ABC.
___________________________________I lived just a short while in Santa Cruz after my dad and Yvonne suddenly left. The restaurant where I worked shut down and I found myself in an even worse financial situation than when I first came. My single option was to call my dad. I was surviving only because my neighbors were very generous and were providing me with food and companionship. I had been ordered by my dad to have nothing to do with these neighbors since they would “pull me away from the body” but they were very kind, generous and very good friends. It was no longer just a matter of food though as I was no longer able to pay my space rent. I knew I could not rely on their generosity forever so I had two choices left. Live on the street or return "home".
I called my dad and told him about my situation. He ordered me to come back to the Seattle area to the Apex Airpark in Silverdale Washington where they were staying. I was told that if I could find a way there someone would buy my trailer from me and he stated he would help me out until I found work. I borrowed forty dollars from my charitable neighbor and headed north up I-5 to the Apex Airpark. I arrived two days later after a brief stop in Grants Pass.
The Apex Airpark is a small private airport community that was then owned by a sweet woman named Roberta Walker. Most called her either Mom or Grandma, depending on their age, since she was extremely generous in many ways. Roberta's husband had built Apex Airpark from a raw piece of ground decades earlier and had unfortunately died before his visions of a planned community were completed. Roberta now ran this private airport all on her own with a little help from a few of the local residents. The runway has since been paved but then it was still just dirt and gravel with crude lighting.
Roberta was introduced to "the group" through her daughter Janet who was one of the original group members in Mountlake Terrace. Roberta had offered the use of a large space next to her home to park the bus and, since the bus was not handling the strain of the additional weight of the conversion, my dad used this as an opportunity to rebuild the engine. He was in the middle of that project when I arrived. On that very evening I arrived my dad told me to clean out my trailer, had me sign over the title to him, then told me to tow the trailer over to Ralph and Karen’s house on the back side of the airpark. It was my understanding they were buying the trailer from me; I had made all of the payments on it except for the first sixty-dollar down payment which my dad made for me in Klamath Falls but I never saw a dime from the “sale”. Not long after the trailer was gutted and converted to a goat shed. It was sad to see since, even though it was very small, this had been my home. I was angry,felt cheated and lied to but I still remained gullible, obedient and felt if I did not do what I was told God would certainly punish me.
After I dropped the trailer off at at Ralph and Karen's house I asked my dad where I was supposed to live. He showed me to an old bus that had been left at the airpark by Jim; the man who had help construct my dad's bus. The bus had no bed, no stove, no table, and was basically just a ramshackle empty space full of garbage and mouse droppings. An old mattress was thrown on the floor and this was to be my new bed and home. My dad promised he would help me fix it up later and told me he envisioned me traveling on the road with him. It was a lie but it ended my balking for the moment. I slept in the bus on the old mattress the first night there but when Roberta Walker heard of the arrangement she offered to let me live in her back bedroom instead. This would give me an opportunity to make the bus more livable, I thought, so I went along. The bus project never got off the ground as my dad reneged on his promise to help me fix it up. He instead recommended I drive it to Ernie’s house so he could work on the engine. I found out later my dad had actually given the bus to Ernie since I was “no longer using it”. On the trip out to Ernie’s the bus caught fire and so it ended up scrapped. Oh well.
Within two weeks of arriving at the airpark I found myself married to a girl I had met only once before, for just a few hours, when she attended a church picnic in Santa Cruz. There is a much larger story to all of this, but for the sake of this narrative suffice it to say that "matchmaking" or "arranged marriages" were quite common in the early days of "the group" and still are but to a smaller degree. I was nineteen then and she just seventeen. We had each been counseled separately that God wanted us to marry. We were both very young, impressionable, gullible and believed this was something we had to do to "stay in God's will". My dad officiated the marriage outside at the airpark, and Roberta's daughter, Janet, made the cake. About a dozen people attended, most of them I had never met.
Arranged marriages in the ABC are no longer arranged in exactly the same fashion but marrying someone from outside the group is frowned upon. I heard recently of a young child that was already being matched with another for a future pairing so the arranging is still happening. Marrying someone from outside the ABC is not accepted as valid as marrying this person would mean you had "unequally yoked yourself with an unbeliever". The only solution, to make the marriage valid, is for the person to volunteer to be baptized by someone in the ABC.
It is 1974 now and I find myself suddenly married, living in the back bedroom of Roberta's house with my new wife, unemployed, Seattle is in a major recession and finding a job not easy. I barely graduated high School and have no college education so I am forced to take whatever odd jobs I can find through temporary employment agencies. Emotionally, and in every other way, I was not ready for this marriage and neither was my new wife. The marriage lasted only a short time; perhaps a month; before things fell apart. She left and ended up living at the home of a couple that had broken off from "the group" to start their own ultra-authoritarian, mostly communal, "Shepherding / Discipleship" group.
The Shepherding Movement / Discipleship teachings had been introduced to "the group" when Bob Mumford, and others from his movement, came to Seattle and spoke. Mumford, at this time, was directly connected with Derek Prince and Ern Baxter from "The Sharon Orphanage" days (and thus the Broadway Tabernacle days as well) and it was this connection to Derek Prince that had attracted my dad to attend his Seattle meeting. My dad came back from this meeting excited about what he had learned about "church discipline". It is this meeting, and this moment in time, that would paint a great deal of havoc into many peoples lives through even more repressive discipline for decades to come. Indeed, my own ex-communication, twice, is a distant result of this one meeting with Mumford and his erroneous teachings.
The "shepherding movement" affected both mainstream and home-based churches, but regardless of the structure of the church or group, the scripture still states, in Paul's words to Peter:
"…not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…" (I Peter 5:3, NKJV)Below is a very small excerpt from an article in the Cephas Library. It is a rather long article, but I encourage those following along on my historical narrative to read the entire article. It explains very well the "discipline" abuses still happening in the ABC. These abuses are a direct result of the teaching by Mumford in Seattle that was attended by my dad and a few other men. This excerpt has to do with Bob Mumford's alleged repentance in 1990. There is indication he did not truly repent however, as many individuals in his movement, as late as two years ago, have had to seek treatment for severe PTSD,anxiety, depression etc. Here is that excerpt:
... in a subsequent Charisma & Christian Life article published in February, 1990, reportedly after having sought the advice and counsel of Jack Hayford and others, according to the article, Mumford spoke more as one who was genuinely chastened, repentant, and willing to deal with the issue in a more direct fashion, accepting full responsibility for his error. According to the article, Mumford read a statement in November of 1989 "to a gathering of pastors at the Christian Believers United meeting in Ridgecrest, North Carolina,"11 in which he said,
"I repent. I was wrong. I ask for forgiveness," Mumford said about his involvement in the discipleship movement.
The article went on to say:
...Mumford decided that he needed to publicly 'repent' of his responsibility in setting up a system where so many people were hurt by misuses of authority. "Some families were split up and lives turned upside down," says Mumford. "Some of these families are still not back together."
Ripping families apart has been a recurring theme in the ABC and it is justified by stating "the body is your family now” and the quoting of this scripture:
And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:36-37______
One of the men who listened to Bob Mumford speak that night, split from "the group" and began his own "discipleship" gathering at his home in Everett Washington. This gathering was not officially part of 'the group" but he kept in touch and would still attend ABC meetings at times. This man demanded complete submission, in every way, to his leadership. The setting was mostly communal as all lived together in his very large home. This is the group my new wife would align with when she left.
As a single man again I was able to find a straight commission "job" selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door. That did not go well. I was still broke, and my future as a "married man" was pretty uncertain. At the time I had no idea where my new wife had gone, and frankly did not really care. I was not financially or emotionally ready for marriage and wanted out anyhow. After a few weeks, the man who was operating this spun off “discipling” group called me then visited me. He told me my wife was living at his house now, had "submitted to his authority", (which meant they had shared a bed together) and told me I should come and join her to "submit to his authority" as well. I did not. Word of our separation and her joining this other man's group began to get out to the people and this was causing scandal so my dad knew he had to take some sort of action.
My dad called a man named Tom in "the group" who managed a store in Bellevue where I was now living. Tom searched me out, had me come by his store and told me to use his phone to call my dad. On this call my dad asked if I would come to the airpark and teach on the armor of God. I agreed I would but being asked to teach was simply a ruse to get me to the airpark. My new wife, who was now living in Everett, was also called and asked to come to the airpark "just to talk". I arrived at that meeting that night, much to my new wife's surprise, and the moment I stepped through the door we were both whisked to the back room. We were counseled that God wanted us to stay together and we were told God wanted us to move to Klamath Falls Oregon. Here, we were told, we could get our marriage stabilized because a couple named Don and Darlene would help us patch up the marriage God had joined us together in. Need I say again I was young, gullible and my back was against the wall?
Both my new wife and I, wanting to stay in "God's will", and under "spiritual duress" to stay together, agreed to go. We were very confused kids, completely broke, dependent on others for our support, thrown together into a mixing bowl and given a good stir. We had both been trained well that what we must do what we were told by “the elders” and anything else was rebellion. Rebels will suffer eternal punishment. We left Silverdale the next day to travel to Klamath Falls to live with Don and Darlene.
I had known Don and Darlene since I was about sixteen. Don and I fished quite often together in the Puget Sound and we had many good times together. I babysat their kids when they went out and they were good friends, very good people; gentle, kind and admirable. Our time together in Klamath Falls would turn out to be just as pleasant and, through their love and encouragement, my new wife and I were able to calm our marriage and live mostly peaceably. We lived at Don and Darlene's house for a few months, had meetings, talked, played games, patched up our ill-timed marriage and let life settle down. My new wife and I worked our way off welfare, and I took whatever odd jobs I could find for additional money. The winter of that year I found a job full time as a cook at Sambo's restaurant and was able to get off welfare completely except for food stamps and medical. This would be my second time living in Klamath Falls and it was mostly a time of peace. That would end however when I would receive another phone call from my dad which, for a second time, would take me to California. But this time it would be San Diego and not Santa Cruz and this time I was not a boy....I was a married boy.
In the next post, my wife and I travel to San Diego, meet David North (the prophet) for the first time, and settle in to "real" life.