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Author Topic: Excommunication  (Read 38231 times)
MarriedWomanPhD
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« on: December 16, 2010, 04:37:49 pm »

Does everyone who leaves GCC churches get excommunicated? My husband and I just received our excommunication letter yesterday. A meeting was held at our old church to excommunicate us, at which all of our former friends were present. Most will never speak to us again. In addition to the accusations made by my pastor (that I am gossip and slandering - although telling the truth), the committee also contacted an old pastor from my youth and a family that disliked me as a teen for some sins I committed then (lying in particular). Has anyone else gone through this? Is it common for them to also bring up accusations from your past as they excommunicate you? On what Scripture could they POSSIBLY base this on?? Huh Huh

Horrified, hurt, and humiliated.
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lone gone
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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2010, 05:36:28 pm »

I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this..

Not everyone gets excommunicated..... I wasn't when I left the Ames Fellowship Church back in 1982. I simply decided to leave and wrote the church a letter indicating that I was leaving. I thanked them for the spiritual teaching and stated that I could no longer fellowship with them. I did not indicate why.... I never told them that it was because they had hurt me or that their doctrine was in error.
Later on as I encountered members of the church they acted as if I didn't exist.

My ex-wife had been excommunicated from the same church for deciding to divorce me the year before that. She was shunned as you expect to be.

Your situation sounds as if you did speak up, did cause a disturbance, and now they are kicking you out.

It probably hurts a lot for you.... especially since you didn't have a chance to reject them first.

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grandslam
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2010, 05:37:28 pm »

I'm really sorry to hear about this ordeal.  This is indeed bizarre and, in all honesty, hard to believe.  From their perspective, are their grounds for excommunication based on gossip and slandering?  I'm sure you've approached them on these issues.  What did they say about your concerns?
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Linda
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2010, 09:11:51 pm »

As far as I know, there hasn't been an "official" excommunication since the mid-80's. I am sorry to hear that they seem to have gone back to their old ways. The idea that you would be "excommunicated" and not be allowed to be present at the meeting where it happened to give your defense, is a definite violation of Matthew 18. Wow. Can't believe this is still happening. So sorry for what you are going through.
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Janet Martin
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2010, 09:35:19 pm »

Dear MarriedWomanPHd,

Count it a blessing you were even kicked out.  Your reputation would likely suffer more by staying with GCI than being denounced by it.  Count it an honor to be rejected by them.  I haven't been yet (that I'm aware of) because I hadn't gone public up until a few days ago, but I'm sure I'll be receiving a letter soon. Wouldn't it be great if they sent hundreds of letters out.  I don't know how they'd manage all the time they would need to have so many "secret" slander sessions.  Actually, they are the ones that tragically have sinned against you and against the LORD by speaking to other people to intentionally ruin your reputation as a christian and bring scorn to you and your family.  He who touches (harms) you touches the apple of God's eye.  If you, yourself, were speaking the truth to seek what is right then you are blameless and doing what was courageous and righteous.  Psalm 15 says you are.  It also states that it is good and right to despise their abusive practices.
 
"Don't be afraid of them.  Rememer the LORD who is great and awesome" (Nehemiah 4:14)     Their gossip hunts are cruel and abusive.  They do it in the name of "God" but is a method to save "the church" at all costs without care and regard for the Body of Christ itself.  They are acting like thieves and robbers.  Whether the know it or not they seem to be "agents" for Satan to steal, kill and destroy.  This is his game and they are playing it, aware or not.  If he can't send you to hell he atleast wants to steal your devotion to Christ.  So he picks a "pretty substitute".  Their cause of glorifying their movement and their name is paramount, and if it means your time, your money, your job, your career, your family, your friends, your life, it is not regarded as worthy in comparison to their "cause", which by the way, is not Christ's.  He came that you might enjoy life and experience great adventure with HIM.  They are not seeking to glorify God by violating His children.  (By the way, Jesus is the only one to whom these things are sacrificed on as individual and personal basis through faith alone as you grow in HIM, not out of compulsion, pressure, or LIES.  This church cult and others are what gives chrisianity a bad name.  
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LucyB
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2010, 04:11:44 am »

This makes me very sad. Did this happen at the local level, or were the national leaders involved, or do you know?
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Linda
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2010, 07:25:33 am »

Quote from: Janet
Actually, they are the ones that tragically have sinned against you and against the LORD by speaking to other people to intentionally ruin your reputation as a Christian and bring scorn to you and your family.
Janet, you bring up some excellent points. Why is it that GC leaders can meet in "executive session" to discuss church members, draw conclusions about them, have "congregational" meetings to discuss the "problem person" and it is not called slander. However, if you challenge the theology, teaching, or practices of GC, you are labeled a slanderer and subject to excommunication.

Quote
Their cause of glorifying their movement and their name is paramount, and if it means your time, your money, your job, your career, your family, your friends, your life, it is not regarded as worthy in comparison to their "cause", which by the way, is not Christ's.
While not everything about GC is bad, in fact, there is much that is good, I agree with your assessment. Perhaps the biggest heresy of GC is that they equate "serving God" with serving the local church/any GC church/the movement/the leaders. Unfortunately, they are believing and teaching a lie.

Also, Lucy, I, too, would like to know whether those involved were national leaders. Didn't mean to bump your question by adding this comment.
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EverAStudent
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« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2010, 10:02:05 am »

I have nothing to say with regard to your specific situation or the correctness or incorrectness of their actions toward you, not knowing you, your church, the situation, etc.  However, in general GC has exercised their version of "church discipline"/shunning in brutal and biblically unwarranted ways.  Please read Marching to Zion to see how they have abused this practice in the past.  It is free and online: http://gcxweb.org/Books/MarchingToZion/

In our own circumstances, some 30 years past, we "resigned" from GC due to their abberrant doctrines and abusive leadership methods, but were never placed under formal "church discipline."  Nonetheless, all-of-a-sudden we had become "outsiders" and were ignored so thoroughly that it was like we had been shunned.  We left friends and family behind.

I might also recommend reviewing what biblical church discipline looks like so as to better understand whether/how GC possibly abused this practice in your own specific situation: http://thefaithfulword.org/catchurch.html#churchdiscipline

Blessings.
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Huldah
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2010, 11:33:25 am »

MarriedWomanPhD, you've been excommunicated from GC, but you haven't been excommunicated from the body of Christ. More important, you haven't been excommunicated from God. We have His promise from Scripture that nothing can separate us from His love. I'm very sorry this is happening to you. Jesus was persecuted and despised by the religious leaders of His day, too.
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MarriedWomanPhD
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2010, 02:57:29 pm »

Thank you everyone for your support! Actually, we left the church in October due to being at a stalemate with the pastors, who we had been meeting regularly with since April. It became more and more apparent that they literally could not HEAR us when we spoke, and they were making judgments about the state of our heart even when we told them they were wrong. At one point, I said, "I am not hurt nor am I angry. I have forgiven you and moved on. God is totally working in my heart." The pastor looked me in the eye and said, "You are wrong. You are hurt and angry and you are lying if you say you aren't. I cannot believe you are so blind about your own heart." I was astonished! What about this verse:
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Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (I Corinthians 4:5)

I was unaware they were still excommunicating people and wondered if others have walked this painful road. We were accused of slander and gossip because we questioned the pastors and went to our small group for input on how to approach the situation. However, all we did was show them a letter from the pastors (a reference letter, inherently intended to be shared, and therefore not private - at least this is what we thought).

I am also grateful for this section from Romans 8:
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There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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Linda
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2010, 03:53:21 pm »

Wow. While I don't obviously know the specifics of your situation, this sounds eerily familiar.

Interesting that they thought that showing the letter from the pastors to members of your small group was slander. In our case it was our GC elders who sent a copy of a personal letter (discrediting my husband and I) to our grown children without our knowledge or permission. Apparently, it is not slander if THEY do it!

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blonde
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2010, 09:30:54 pm »

Linda and others:

When I was at ECC, circa 1986, there was a woman in my small group that was excommunicated.....as she had money problems and always seemed to be borrowing money from the brothers.  Not sure if there was a deeper problem or issues that were not stated.  But as far as I knew, she was only asked to leave since she had money problems.  Another interesting point, was that she was quite an attractive woman, and the brothers from what I could remember, could really never say 'no' to her requests.  Then I heard they had a few behind-the-door-meetings, and then she just was gone. 

Not sure why it was a problem to have money issues. 

-Blonde
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newcreature
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2010, 11:41:52 pm »

This is indeed bizarre and, in all honesty, hard to believe.
grandslam, I don't find it hard to believe MarriedWomanPhD's story, why is it so hard for you to believe? Do you think she is lying?

GCx has a history of abuse in the area of church discipline. In part, that abuse got them listed in the "Kingdom of the Cults" and banned from several national, evangelical organizations. GCx finally admitted to their abusive and excessive and non-scriptural church discipline as one of their many "errors and weaknesses." You can read it for yourself under heading "II. MISAPPLICATION OR MISINTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE" and subheading "4. Church discipline." Here is the link to the document if you are interested: http://gcxweb.org/Misc/WeaknessesPaper.aspx

In the final paragraph of that section, GCx promised to take steps to correct their abuses and to guard against them in the future. Here is what the leaders wrote back then (by the way, many of those leaders are the very same leaders who are still in power today):

"To guard against future problems in this area, the Association is preparing a Book of Government that includes clear procedures that our churches must follow in exercising church discipline as well as other church judgments, including an appeal process. To insure that those procedures will be followed, the Association has developed a policy that no church discipline may be instituted without first consulting one of the Association's national leaders."

grandslam, have you seen the GCx "Book of Government" or read the "clear procedures" contained within its hallowed pages? Perhaps it is a big book and GCx is still preparing it 20 years later. Please post it for us if you have a copy. I bet Kingdom of the Cults and the ECFA would be interested in this book (or its non-existence). Here is their contact information: http://www.waltermartin.com/cults.html & http://www.ecfa.org/HomePage.aspx

LucyB asked an important question:
This makes me very sad. Did this happen at the local level, or were the national leaders involved, or do you know?
The last sentence of that GCx paragraph gives a definitive answer to Lucy's question. According to the very clear policy GCx developed 20 years ago, one of the national leaders had to be consulted in MarriedWomanPhD's case. If that written policy wasn't followed in her case, it appears she would have legal recourse. However, the deck may have been stacked against her if the GCx Appeals Court Judge was also the same man as the GCx Local Church Judge. So much for due process if that was the case.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 12:15:00 am by newcreature » Logged
Linda
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« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2010, 07:31:36 am »

Many years ago, I, also had heard that GC was mentioned in Kingdom of the Cults. I looked for a reference to GC in our copy, but could not find it. I wondered if the person who mentioned it to me was thinking of Cult-Proofing Your Kids (Zondervan) by PAUL Martin, rather than Kingdom of the Cults (Bethany) by WALTER Martin. Either way, generally speaking, you don't want to find your Christian denomination mentioned in a book on cults.

I seem to remember many years ago (maybe 4) that the topic of the Book of Government came up and a current member who was posting asked a few questions and learned that it never was finished. Anyone remember? Do you have a copy of what they came up with, but didn't finish? That would be interesting to see.

I do think that they would be disqualified from the ECFA based on who is on their board (rather than their doctrine) because ECFA requires the majority of board members to not have a vested interest in the group. The GC board is all GC people which is a violation of their independent board requirement.

MarriedWomanPhD's story sounded oddly like the very first excommunication of Bill Taylor where a meeting was held and he was forbidden to attend because allowing him to give his defense was considered slander.

Also, she says they left on October and received a letter of excommunication this week. (You can't quit, we have to excommunicate you first!) Her story is reminiscent of a story I read in Marching to Zion where someone quit their GC church, but was "excommunicated" AFTER they quit.

MarriedWomanPhD, I know it's personal, but would you consider sharing some of the wording on their letter of excommunication?

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newcreature
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« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2010, 07:35:03 pm »

Either way, generally speaking, you don't want to find your Christian denomination mentioned in a book on cults.
Very true, Linda.

Having a cult following if you are a famous author or movie director is one thing, but being labeled a cult, or a taco, or cult-like by multiple cult-watch publications and other Christian organizations is quite a different story.

In light of MarriedWomanPhD’s current situation, it certainly raises a lot of questions about an organization like GCx. By continuing to issue ex post facto excommunications and by exalting exclusive unity to themselves, GCx leaders leave themselves open to serious questions about the sincerity of their admissions of error and weakness. It also raises serious questions about the sincerity of their promise to change. They apparently are still operating under the same old authoritarian shepherding model after all.

While I was researching my GCx-cult references this weekend, I called Larry Pile. He mentioned two references that I had never seen: Churches That Abuse and Recovering from Churches That Abuse. Both books were written by Ronald M. Enroth and both books were published by Zondervan. By searching for those references in old posts in this forum, I saw that you already discovered those resources years ago. They are excellent books. They are also online in pdf format if anyone is interested in reading them.

Churches That Abuse (1992) http://www.ccel.us/churches.toc.html
Recovering From Churches That Abuse (1994) http://www.ccel.us/churchesrec.toc.html

In his second book, Ronald Enroth published an excerpt of an official letter from GCAC national leader Dave Bovenmeyer. Dave said that GCAC cannot “in good conscience” denunciate Jim McCotter. From the tone of Dave’s letter, it seems safe to conclude that GCx may never again vindicate or reinstate anyone they excommunicated in the past.

Furthermore, I discovered that Dave officially threatened Ronald Enroth with a lawsuit regarding information he published about GCx in Churches That Abuse. Fortunately, Mr. Enroth did not cower to GCAC’s intimidation, and he subsequently published his follow-up book.

I also wrote to Kevin and Jill Rische in Minneapolis. They are the Managing Editors of Dr. Walter Martin's 45 year bestseller, The Kingdom of the Cults. I wanted to confirm my recollection about GCx once being listed in an older version of that book. They have not yet responded, but Larry looked in his three versions (1965, 1985, and 2003) and he couldn’t find the reference. I found a pdf of the 1997 version, and I could not find the reference in there. So you must be correct that I mistakenly mixed up their book with Dr. Paul Martin's book: Cult-Proofing Your Kids.

Some within GCx may blindly label any negative reaction as “persecution” or “slander” or even a “badge of honor” that vindicates their zeal for God. If I were in their shoes (as I once was), I would consider the message and quit attacking the messengers. It appears that something in their organization’s DNA is still fundamentally flawed.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2010, 07:42:26 pm by newcreature » Logged
MarriedWomanPhD
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2011, 09:20:09 am »

We received our "official" excommunication document (still with spelling errors, and little Scripture, both of which made me laugh through a hard time) that was supported on a regional level. Not only did they share the letter with the whole church, they went to the church plant where my brother was serving and shared it there. In addition, they e-mailed it, saying "feel free to share this with anyone who needs to see it". If this affects our livelihoods, we will have to consider a suit for libel. Considering approaching the accreditation group for the denomination about this as it was grounds for their dismissal back in the late '80s early '90s. Anyone ever taken that approach?
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Linda
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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2011, 09:42:07 am »

Again, so sorry for the way this was handled. Did they specifically state the grounds for your excommunication in the letter that they sent you and "whoever"? I'm guessing they didn't follow Matthew 18 and bring you before the church to let you state your side of the story and give your defense.

There is no "accreditation group". GC is not a denomination, it is an "association". The board of the association it totally on board with the program, so I'm pretty sure they would be no help.

You could contact the NAE and explain your situation. They are members.
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Huldah
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« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2011, 01:23:22 pm »

If this affects our livelihoods, we will have to consider a suit for libel.
Whether it affects your livelihood or not, it was just plain cruel.

Still, I can't help but appreciate the irony of GC being named as defendants in a libel suit, after decades of their squawking about "slander" directed at themselves.
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EverAStudent
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« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2011, 01:47:16 pm »

I hate to be the bad guy here, but...

Filing a lawsuit against GC is probably forbidden (1 Corinthians 6:7).  

A further note of irony here is that mainstream denominations learned a long time ago to incorporate and have a formal membership enrollment contract which often binds the member to the church disciplinary policy and process.  In such cases, lawsuits are rarely a credible recourse because the member has legally agreed to be subject to discipline.  However, GC rarely (ever???) has a formal membership enrollment or contract, yet they are the ones who dispense excommunication like candy.  They, of all denominations, are at the most risk from lawsuits for what they do, yet they have not protected themselves.  Irony.
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Innerlight
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« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2011, 01:48:05 pm »

what a perfect example of irony, and "judge not lest ye be Judged" by the same measure, etc....
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