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Author Topic: SHUNNING IN GCX CHURCHES  (Read 7127 times)
Janet Easson Martin
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« on: September 26, 2018, 01:22:05 pm »

Shunning in GCx Churches

Here are just some of the posters who have seen evidence of the practice of shunning in GCx churches toward those who committed no wrong, only VOICED the wrong they saw.  Below are excerpts from their stories.

What has been criticized (and rightly so) is the demand that GC members commit for life. In my case, this demand was never even disclosed to me until I had given up my spot in the dorm, moved in with the sisters, and effectively closed off any means of "escaping" from the heavy judgment that came my way when I started hinting that I had never actually made such a commitment. Even though I struggled to keep my growing doubts to myself--because complaining was a grave sin against the leadership, so we were told--I was still visited late at night and warned, "Excommunication is a terrible thing. Don't do that to yourself." And what provoked such an ominous warning? Well, on that occasion, I had stayed home from a meeting to do homework. Maybe things are less extreme where you are, and if so, that's great. From time to time I still pray for the people who hurt me back then, but to be honest, some of those memories still sting.

At the meeting none of our concerns were addressed, at all.  We were told that we are on one mountain and Evergreen on another mountain and that we would never see eye to eye, and that we should leave and find another church. We had been with Evergreen since it's beginning. I don't think anyone would say that we were known as trouble makers.  We served a lot.

I told my church friends about what the pastor and his wife had done and I was called a liar and told that I was slandering them.  They said they couldn't be around me if I said negative things about the pastor.  Many started to drift away from me at that time, but some remained by me - although most of them wouldn't allow me to talk negatively about the pastor.  I was told that "Satan" was misleading me and that I needed to spend more time to get right with God.   Other friends backed away with no explanation at all.

That was what made me take a step back and begin to examine what I had been a part of for four years. I never thought I would witness an excommunication, but I was there when the pastor of Coulee Rock was excommunicated back in 2014. And I had friends present when one of the CedarCreek pastors was excommunicated in 2016. The meetings that Suzanne has mentioned, where they talk about "what really happened" with the excommunicated? The cutting people off, telling people not to talk to them, and implying that sides should be taken? Oh yes, it still continues to happen.

I have to second the feelings of shock over modern day ex-communications.  I’m truly stunned that this is still going on after all the apologies, all the “we’ve changed,” all the testimonies, and all of the hurt people.

I helped start 2 churches and was in GCI for over 20 years.  I left in 2003 after a divorce and went to a Evangelical church. After getting remarried, my former pastor told the church to shun me. He never told me or warned me. He then told me I was not allowed to attend my daughters wedding that year.  After watching the A&E documentary on the cult of Scientology I realized how similar the two churches are. They lie, discredit and shun anyone who challenges their authority.

I remembered when I witnessed the manipulations, it was sickening. I realized that if they showed favoritism to anyone those people became pawns or as I called them pets to the pastors. If you wanted to be in leadership you had to follow everything according to the pastors guidance and or a pastors kid. I remember when I needed to talk about things going on in my life, I felt like I was being watched on campus and being followed by them. I learned the consequences of leaving Candlewood, breaking the rules of the leaders, and questioning the leaders. I pondered leaving for a long time, I didn't know if I was ready to be shunned or to have the leadership use me as a example of what not to do.

I will just say that the next few months I received some harassing phone calls and emails from former friends at the Rock, leading up to me being told that I probably shouldn't associate with people from GC anymore. I even saw several people who I knew and used to have pleasant relationships with turning and walking the other direction when they saw me on the street.

Fast forward four and a half years of this, and I find myself questioning if loyalty to your church for life is right. I find myself wondering if the desires that I have to serve God elsewhere could possibly be the right thing for my life. And as I work this out, I realize that I have been placed in the same category as people who are misguided and not following God's will for their lives. I haven't even left yet and already I am being shunned and avoided, already I hear the whispers and see the looks.

I left the church after 3.5 years at Drake.  BEST. DECISION. EVER.  Your answer as to whether or not to leave came in the form of your "friends" ignoring you.  The same thing happened to me.  A loving church family is loving to all people, whether or not they go to the same church as you do. I grew up in church...sometimes people would decide to worship elsewhere.  It was completely acceptable and would be completely out of line for one to shun a fellow Christian for choosing to worship elsewhere.  You may be told that if you leave the church you will stop following God, will be living in sin within 5 years, etc, etc.

I left the church a few months ago to take a job in another region. As many other posters have noted, this is considered a huge sin in WCCC. You are supposed to be committed to the church for life. I have lost many close friends who in my time at WCCC considered me their "sister in Christ." I can only imagine what is being said about me in the church. The saddest part is that I myself had shunned several former close friends who had left the church. There is a real feeling in the church that if you're not with us, you're against us. I only did what I thought was right at the time, but now I feel terrible regret and remorse over the way I behaved.

I have seen what has been done to others. They have asked others to leave who question them too much, others have left on their own. I have had pastors say not to speak to people who have left in the past and I was told that they have to publicly admit their were wrong before they will be allowed back in the church.  I would like to stay in contact with some very good friends but am afraid the pastors will then go up to them and tell them not to speak to me as they have said to others in the past.

I am well aware of the suppression of speech involved with those who leave and have first hand knowledge that people were told not to ask us why we left Evergreen. This is not normal. This is not right.

Please understand, if you leave, you will very likely lose some relationships you have at GC. Actually, if you start asking  questions, the relationships will start to change. I was called unteachable at first, then I was "not worth the time" after.

Long story short, my former husband and I left the church along with another couple. We found out that the leadership held a church wide meeting informing everyone to avoid contact as we had "back-sliden". Wow.....can't believe I still remember the term. I've never in my life experienced such rejection. We lost our "friends", it was very difficult on our kids.

I was involved in a GC church for a few years. I was aware of the issues surrounding the movement from the very beginning. I never really saw any of them actively in my church. I had to leave the church I was attending (due to unrelated reasons) not too long ago and since I left, I have seen a few of my close friends turn against me and accuse me of untrue things. I have seen a lot of similar behavior that has been talked about by people on here that left various churches in the movement.

I was a member of the Independence MO "assembly" from '73-'78.  I left after disagreeing with the "disfellowshipping" of a long string of people, including my best friend and my brother.  Even though I left on good terms, for simple reasons of conscience, I was later publicly disfellowshipped, so remaining members would not have any communication with me.  The fact that nearly thirty years later, I am still thinking about this experience shows what a shattering experience it was for me.

Then one night, for some reason that I can't remember, my roommate and I started getting honest with each other, and everything came spilling out.  A close friend of his had been effectively shunned, and he was getting pressure from other men not to talk to her any more.   She was shunned because she had criticized the elders for discouraging people with serious mental health issues from getting counseling.  What made the shunning particularly galling was that this woman was, by life circumstances, extremely vulnerable, and needed good friends.  I told him all of the doubts I had: McCotter gave me the creeps, there was no financial accountability, there was an undisclosed hierarchy in decision making; there was pressure to do things I thought destructive; and finally, some of these people were just plain weird.
-Valley Noir

During my four years in college, I grew more and more involved in the church. During my final year at school, I got involved in leadership within the church and as such, got to spend more time with the pastor. I wasn’t in the top level of management, but I got to interact with the pastor more and find out more of how he ran things. When I saw how the “management meetings” went, I realized that it seemed like my pastor had no peers and no authority figures in his life. No one dared to disagree with or challenge him. So I told him that. In private, over the course of many e-mails, private meetings, etc. Much to my surprise, I was met with extreme defensiveness. I was much younger at the time and just kept pressing my concern as I sincerely thought it would help my pastor to recognize this weakness in his life. I truly believed (and still do) that he could do much more good if he were to see this weakness. He was a “lone ranger”, above the law, heck, he WAS the law. There was nobody he saw as a peer or an authority to him save his boss, who unfortunately ran a church several states away. Perhaps had I been older, I would have foreseen what happened next, but it completely caught me off guard. The pastor started holding official church meetings to which I was specifically asked NOT to attend. I was insinuated to be a gossip and divisive and the rest of the church was told that it was not appropriate to contact me and hear my side of the story. I was isolated, shunned, and branded as “bad”.
-Dipping my toes in

I attended GCC from 1982-1987. I was asked to leave in 1987 because I was not “doing” what one of the leaders said they wanted me to do. It was extremely painful for a few years, missing friends and the fellowship, but I was also relieved.

There are others on here not yet posted.  If you yourself, or others you witnessed, experienced such cruel treatment for VOICING a concern or abuse in GCx churches, consider speaking out here. You WILL be HEARD and not ostracized by us former members. But, we advise you do so anonymously because some inside GCx may attempt to speak harshly against or slander you. That is what they have been brainwashed to do.  Remember, they are still under the persuasive spell of this Christian Cult.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2018, 01:00:23 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
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« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2018, 01:50:43 pm »

This is fantastically helpful!  Thank you for the effort.

If you’ve seen anything like this in your church it’s time to find the courage to leave. Take heart, new and better, healthier friends come!  It’s painful and takes time but is well worth the freedom, peace, and joy.
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2018, 12:48:49 pm »

More Shunning in GCx Churches

Below are more former members who are familiar first or second hand with what happens to those who confront GCX’s elders and leaders with its practices of spiritual abuse.  The former members, like the ones above, come from multiple GCx churches in multiple cities under multiple GCx elders/leaders, and most importantly spanning multiple years from beginning to present day. They write to break the silence.

But I was hurt when I finally pulled the plug and found myself "shunned" by a majority of those I had grown close to after I resisted a few appeals to return. I am pretty sure all of my old friends believed that it was my own personal sin issues that caused me step away from the church there.

This completely caught me off guard.  We have been asked not to attend any ECC function. What is the rational behind putting us in the directory in the section for people who have left (usually because of a move)? Is it so that the leadership wouldn't have to answer questions because we suddenly were not in the directory?  We have not been formally ex-communicated.  Just *shunned*  to the point it is obvious to outsiders.  If this is how they treat their friends I would hate to be on the actual enemy list!

That was a nemesis I encountered with a former member of the Columbus church.  The implication was I was not saved unless I was in a GC church.  Since I was not spiritual, I was shunned.  I am sorry to hear that is still going on 20 years later.

Bible passages were interpreted to say that everyone had a responsibility to report members of the church who talked about disagreeing with the “McCotter Doctrine”. This dissension was to be met with leaders having guilt sessions and late night prayer sessions with anyone who questioned the word of the leaders. Everyone was supposed to spy on everyone.  That way anyone who would question the twisted teachings would be met with a penalty.  If a person did not “submit” to the church leaders, they would be excommunicated or shunned.  This penalty helped control the flock.

...I have been involved with GCM since I was 18 up until 4 years ago.  I was literally brainwashed for a number of years.  My family is all still going to one of the churches.  My husband thinks I am rebelling against God and won't leave the church.  I have been "shunned" by the church.  I feel my children are in danger because I have impressionable teenagers.

When I left the Ames church I wrote a letter thanking them for what I had received but also letting them know I was no longer going to fellowship with them. I was shunned after that but they never visited me or contacted me again.
-lone gone

Sadly, our leaving was made horrific by the elders.   We had seen the errors of doctrine in GCI over the years, and my wife and I had found a wonderful Baptist church in the area.  At mid-day, one Sunday, we matter-of-factly told the elders we were leaving to go to that church, they began acting as if they were physically ill to their stomachs.  At midnight that same night the elders showed up at our apartment to explain we were committing the sin of divorce against the church (yes, the midnight gestapo imagery was obvious to us even then).  Then they launched into a type of "trial" against my character, while putting my wife on a pedestal (I think they were trying to drive a wedge between us--divide and conquer). My wife began pointing out to them the errors of fact they were speaking, and eventually called them liars to their faces.  They finally left, but what an unnecessary drama!  And yes, we lost all our friends that day.

I like to refer to it as the night of the long knives.  As I remember it, the entire congregation was called to the Ohio Union, where Solid Rock was meeting at the time, to hear MK [GCx elder name abbreviated] read a rather lengthy list of people who were being shunned, disciplined, etc.  

I met with BK [GCx elder names names abbreviated] about MD’s obsessive behavior and endearment to single young woman and some married women in the church and how i was treated..did not know what shunned meant...BK asked if i wish to meet with him and MD together and talk about things..i said no..i feel it would not make a difference...I did meet with BK and talked about things..kind of went no where... BK said he would talk to MD and get back to me..the next week he said they both would like me to leave the church..

People who voiced concerns, were basically told, if they don't like it, they can leave. Leadership had a really hard time receiving feedback and were passive-aggressive to those who did voice concerns. They were, for example, kind of "black-listed" or ignored/shunned.

When we began to question tactics and ask questions, we were counseled by K [GCX elder name abbreviated] (the pastor) and told we were slandering the church. People were even calling it "K’s church"! (those comments were the last straw for us). All of our friends shunned us and would never speak to us again. We made the choice to leave and struggled with this sudden loss. It was like a death.

I had no idea about the history of GCM while I attended this church.  And it was by fortune that we moved away, and when in a healthier church environment we started to really question all we had experienced.  We had a slow recovery from the toxic environment we were in, but continued to experience pain as loved ones and family members have been excommunicated and shunned, to this day.
-Rebel in a Good Way

I had a friend who had severe depression in that church and the elders counseled him not to seek therapy but to get more involved in leading (he was a deacon).  He was suicidal and eventually needed to be hospitalized.  They shunned him and didn't believe it was anything but sin in his life -- he was told he was selfish.  He found another church and now is doing wonderfully but with no help from that church who he was a part of for over a decade.  

I left Candlewood about 7-8 years ago. I thought I had at least a few true friends there as we were all "doing life together" in college, but I was quickly avoided and/or shunned by most of them. Sometimes if I think about it, I still get a little sad and confused. Interesting to read all the other comments, thanks for sharing everyone.

why doesn't anyone stop the convo or switch subjects since they're so good at it when you ask about shunned members?

The other pastors and elders were told to agree with the new perspectives or leave quietly.  Many families left the church and those that stayed had to pledge their commitment, time and money to be one spirit with the pastor.  My family was shunned publicly from the pulpit for disagreeing with the leadership.  We lost our friends and our church community.  We were spiritually abused; never knew that could exist today.  It's taken a lot of time and prayer to heal...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you for wanting to leave. That is a sign that you are healthy and that you can think critically. GCM churches tend to have some incredibly unhealthy dynamics that can make you feel like if you leave that you're bad, unlovable or not a good christian. I really want you to not internalize those messages.

But as I move back, I have to heal from the explosive nature in which I left the church.  Or maybe I should say I was kicked out of the church. Or is the word "Ex-communicated?"

I will say that I can relate to almost every single testimony describing problems with GCM that have been posted here and that has helped me to move beyond wondering what is wrong with me and to recognize that I was part of a culture that treats people with contempt. ...Withholding information on what is really going on when people leave the organization. ...Constantly being told that it is gossip or slander when normal enquiries were made about what was going on...

One of your questions on has a GCM church used the label of divisive to keep people from questioning or raising concerns? Yes. Because of their quest for unity w/in small groups, church, movement, and the pressure that was put on me to not cause waves, in that my questions were silenced for a time by being labeled divisive and not good for the benefit of the people I cared about. A fear of being shunned, etc. kept me from speaking out more for a long time until my questions and pain could not be kept silent anymore; asked for a few more questions and quickly found the door shown to me by my leaders, telling me how divisive my comments could be to their small group and to the church. Afterwords, I have been pressured not necessarily from leadership, but from my GCM friends not to dig anymore as they see what I am doing as only looking to create division. I know that as other people have spoken up on these issues, this divisive card has been pulled along with other vicious attacks on the character of those who are raising concerns as they leave GCM churches. I know that this is happening in effort to get them to cease to raise concerns.

These are just some of many formerly in GCx who have experienced these toxic faith practices that seem like a nightmare.  We are here to speak up, heal spiritually, and desperately warn other believers.  Keep in mind, those who choose to write likely represent a small percentage of those damaged by this church organization.

« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 09:07:38 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2018, 07:12:36 am »

Thank you for collecting these and posting them. Very informative.

My experience is different. I left the GCC church I was going to about a month ago. I was going for 2 years. My brother was going and still goes. He has mental issues and needs help. Since they couldn’t see that after 2 years I expressed his need for help before the whole church and was rejected. So I left.

I guess the shunning part for me is that nobody has reached out to me to see how I am doing or if I’m okay. Not even the person who was “mentoring” me there - and I made lots of friends there. I guess I don’t see it as shunning because I don’t expect anyone to reach out as they are all zombies going about life. I’ve actually prayed they would stay away from me... so I look at them not reaching out as a blessing from God. His protection.
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2018, 06:22:51 am »

These are so valuable!  So important! Each one of these is a real person!  A real person who was horribly, tragically harmed by gcc. Please listen!  Be sobered.  Vote with your feet and stand with these people.
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2019, 12:01:17 pm »

Imagine the impact and ramifications on a real breathing innocent person who was publically shamed and shunned to twist guilt upon him rather than the offending church leaders.  They may wish to stay far away from churches and church leaders for a long time.

We did have an ex-communication happen during our tour, and they (as expected) sought to ensure everyone had buy-in on it. No, there was no vote, there was no discussion, we all just had to agree. I didn't know enough detail, but was shocked to hear about it and was instructed to have nothing to do with this guy. Sadly, I didn't see him since.

Here’s what Jesus actually has to say about such measures:

“If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.”
-Matthew 18:6    GNT
« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 12:05:21 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2019, 03:37:50 pm »

To all in GCx who were unconscionably beaten down with undue rebuke, inappropriate shame, unfounded guilt, unreasonable expectations, unjustifiable accusations, undeserved rejection, and inexcusable shunning in the “name of God”, we have experienced something that God is actually very much against and that DOES NOT REPRESENT HIM.  Here is what He actually says about such degrading and abusive teaching according His Word:

“I am against the false prophets,” says the Lord. “They use their own words and pretend it is a message from me.  I am against the prophets who prophesy false dreams,” says the Lord. “They mislead my people with their lies and false teachings!
I did not send them or command them to do anything for me.
They can’t help the people of Judah at all,” says the Lord.’
Jeremiah 23:31-32   NCV

Some leaders have left GCx and gained a holy conscience and taken opportunity to heal those they have hurt.

I was "shunned from the group", and lost connections with all those friends. ...Years later I came in contact with one of my elders and brothers in that house.  He and his wife had left the church too... He...apologized for having been part of a decision to "shun" me...
-OSU Solid Rock

The rest remain blind or pay homage to men rather than God.  Their unrepentant actions speak louder than any verses they pretend to obey.  Their victims, all the while, may still be suffering from the verbal pummeling they endured.

...I will just say that the next few months I received some harassing phone calls and emails from former friends at the Rock [GCx Church], leading up to me being told that I probably shouldn't associate with people from GC [GCx alias] anymore. I even saw several people who I knew and used to have pleasant relationships with turning and walking the other direction when they saw me on the street. ...I know in my brain that I made the right decision to leave but it was just so hard to have people that I thought were my friends attack me and cut me off.
-crp87    [left ~ 2011]

Don’t be discouraged.  God has seen their behavior and their motives that lead them to teach their people to practice such disparaging treatment of his children.  He is your Defender, and Vindicator.  He will take action:

‘The LORD enters into judgement against the elders and leaders of his people;
“It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.
What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?”
     declares the Lord, The LORD Almighty.’

Isaiah 3:14-15
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 06:33:12 am by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2019, 03:00:38 pm »

As others on here have commented, there are similarities in what we have seen and heard in GCx Churches in their ferocious treatment of people who call them on the carpet, or people who simply choose to quietly leave; to Scientology’s treatment of people who raise concerns or simply exit the group.  Both organizations practice slandering innocent people to save their reputation.  

Though some of GCx’s basic theology does preach the truth of the gospel through faith in Christ alone for one’s relationship with God to be eternally restored; the depths of depravity they stoop to in falsely accusing their people moves them into a scary and cultish category of Christian churches.  The telling quote (below) of Mike Rinder on Leah Remini’s Exposing Scientology speaks to this cruel treatment.

“The difference between a cult and a religion is what happens when you try to leave.”
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 07:39:30 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2019, 04:11:16 pm »

More evidence of how GCx Churches treat people when they leave:

I have never experienced so much rejection, condemnation, and harassment as I have felt after leaving GCx. But the worst thing is that I associate this rejection with God. If God's people reject me and condemn me, then surely God rejects me. I'm looking for a safe place.

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
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