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Author Topic: The Maryland Church Split, Details Wanted  (Read 8009 times)
GodisFaithful
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« on: March 27, 2014, 11:25:03 am »

BTDT offered to give more details of the Maryland split if I could ask questions to jog his memory.

First as to why I want to know.  I was in the Minneapolis "work" and our elders were sent to that area during that time to be mentored more closely by the national leaders, since our "work" had stagnated.  But our elders were not able to get anything up and running in Dover, Delaware where they were assigned and both of them left GC for another denomination when they gave up the Dover "work".  Our church in Minneapolis, as many know, had an influx of many people from the Ames, IA church and two elders from there to make a fresh start.  From that point on, until finding this forum, what happened in our organization became a big mystery.  I had no idea that there was a church split in Maryland and had trouble finding information here.  We knew Steve Huhta, he and his wife were from a "work" in Wisconsin I believe and stayed in our home one time.  It was shocking to me that a split could/did actually take place with some top people involved, especially since it sounded like it happened without a lot of rancor.  Also, as with anyone from back then, the disappearance of Jim McCotter adds a huge amount of intrigue.

BTDT, I read through all your posts, so that helped.

Here are some lingering questions:

Was the church that left GC, Valley Brook, considered sub-par or somewhat rebellious?  Were friendships between the church members considered to be an ok thing?

Did the focus on evangelism at VB change?  Any conferences?  Any church plants?  Is it a healthy church now, in your opinion?

Was there a change in leaders getting more theological training?  Did you notice much Scripture twisting?  What about dating?

Did you have speakers outside the three elders? 

Did newer people tend to go with VB, and older members stay with GC, on the whole?

Did you feel that all abusive practices went away, like shunning people who leave, leaders lording it over?

What is the meaning of "Positive Focus people"?

What did you mean, specifically, "I DO remember how GC leaders used to cover for each other"?

You said, "No personal disputes among the pastors, just honest difference of opinion."  That seems SO different than the usual GC mind set.  I am wondering if, because the Apology paper was so fresh in their minds, they were able to have a decent parting of the ways. It sure does not go hand in hand with the commitment for life mentality!

A few of your comments that I really liked:

"Folks like me, who had our bad experiences a long time ago, may be more likely to be angry with the entire movement."  Yes, that is me, but I think newer people who come to this forum are also angry at the entire movement because we have all been keep in the dark about so much of the history and dressed-up-nice hidden philosophies.  I don't like what some of the elders said to us but mostly I am appalled at the "system" that is so damaging to people's freedom in Christ and their dependence on the Holy Spirit. I also do not like the cover up of disputes and disagreements.    When Paul and Barnabas had a dispute, we all know exactly what it was about.  Here we are, all us minions, trying to find out what happened, mostly from people who have left the movement.  Much of the hidden gunk is attributed to "The Secret Society of Elders" (SSE) who think that they are above the fray and only have to answer to each other, I think.  We are not supposed to worry our little heads about it.

I loved these lines from songs you quoted, "through it all, God's hand of kindness was holding on to me."  Makes me cry and is why I am GiF.

Also, "we are out on the street with a lump in our throats."  Wow, I am crying as I write.  Eighteen years, and we were out on the street with a lump in our throat.  Because we had some concerns and disagreements, we were told we should leave.  Don't get me wrong, I would not want to go back for anything.  Putting it together I can say, we were out on the street with a lump in our throat but through it all God's hand of kindness was holding us.  It sure was a hard experience that I am only now reckoning with because I found this forum.  Thank you for your healing words and kindness and understanding, BTDT, your voice has been cathartic for me.  And I am glad to know that you had the joy of keeping a bunch of friendships from the "bad old days."  That is not everybody's experience. Sorry if I am overly emo, I am new here and it feels freshly painful.

Hope my questions are not too intrusive.  I did not mean them that way, and feel free to discard any.

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Linda
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2014, 01:37:31 pm »

I would love to hear this story, as well.

I'm getting the feeling that at Faithwalkers 2004 when Rick Whitney said, "Although we might be separated, there's never been a rupture, and there's never been a tearing, and there's never been a walking," he might have been not quite accurate.

I'd be interested in hearing more about the split.

As someone who was asked to walk, I'd say there's been a walking. At least one family. Ours.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 01:40:07 pm by Linda » Logged

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Ned_Flanders
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2014, 07:48:52 pm »

Hi GodIsFaithful,
I just sent you a PM.  Please read.
Ned_Flanders
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GodisFaithful
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2014, 02:54:46 pm »

Linda,

Excommunicating about 500 people (I think that's what I read in the GCx library somewhere) is not a tearing or a walking?  Asking all kinds of people who disagree with elders to take a hike is not tearing or walking?  He must have been in the euphoria of the moment, thinking that no one would google the history of the movement, just take his word for it. The Minneapolis split was very painful; tearing might be an understatement. Maybe they say these things enough that they start to believe it.  Or, the people who walked had a bad heart so that doesn't count. 

But if we knew then what we know now, we would RUN!!!

My husband doesn't have time to read the forum like I do.  So when I recount some of the crazy stuff to him he just keeps saying, "I'm glad we left when we did."  (Like the dating controls, CREEPY.  Or the hyperauthoritarianism.  Did I just make that word up?  We have been in our present church for 10 years and have never heard one sermon on how we need to obey the pastor.)

 
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Linda
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2014, 07:28:01 am »

Quote from: GIF
Excommunicating about 500 people (I think that's what I read in the GCx library somewhere) is not a tearing or a walking?
Exactly. How he could even say that knowing the history is beyond me. He was responsible for telling people to walk. Plus, Jim McCotter walked. Or, was asked to walk. Or, had to walk to avoid publicity.

Another thing Whitney likes to say is "I won't be loyal to people who aren't loyal." I find this hilarious. If you aren't loyal to people who aren't loyal, then you are not loyal!

Quote from: GIF
We have been in our present church for 10 years and have never heard one sermon on how we need to obey the pastor.
Exactly. It is NOT a Protestant idea to "obey the pastor". Any church that teaches that is not Protestant. My rule of thumb is that if I go to a church and leave thinking about the church or the pastor instead of God, I should not return. The role of the pastor should be to point everyone to God. Not to point everyone to the pastor or the local church.
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GodisFaithful
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2014, 07:33:10 pm »

I was thinking today about what that would look like, say at my church, for the pastor to say to the congregation, "I will not be loyal to people who are not loyal."  Or what if the head of some denomination said that? It sounds like kind of a threat, doesn't it? What does Rick Whitney even mean?  I wonder what the context is?  Is he saying this because he wants all his listeners to have the same attitude toward others?  If so, then no wonder there is this shunning thing that happens to a lot of the people who leave or are asked to leave. I suppose it goes to reason that if they think that it is God's will that everyone SHOULD commit for life, then if they don't and they leave, they are disloyal.  But in that case, they are not really disloyal to Rick Whitney but disloyal to a specific church that they were told they should be committed to for life.  Like you said, the focus gets taken off of our commitment to Christ and onto them and their church. I wouldn't want to put my trust there.  It is a very crumbly foundation.   

I looked in the back of my Bible because I couldn't think of any Bible passage that talks about loyalty.  It's not at all an exhaustive concordance, but there was not one verse listed for loyal/loyalty.  However, I was thinking about the word faithful (many entries for that one) and how in 2 Tim. it says that "if we are faithless, he remains faithful..."  That is very comforting, that people may give up on us, but God never does.

If we are talking about people leaving a church, how much better to call them and say that we miss them.  This week in our ladies SS class, we were all encouraged to send a card to someone in our class who has decided to try another church.  It is not to get her back.  Just to make sure we tell her we will miss her and loved having her in our class.  Our pastor goes to great lengths to follow up with people who leave, and is happy if they find a church that fits them better, but happy also to have them visit or come back.

How exhausting and discouraging it must be for GCx pastors who think this way to try to control people to this extent. 
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Linda
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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2014, 07:49:24 pm »

Here is the link for context.

http://www.gcnwdads.com/pages/articles.html

It's number 133.

Rick Whitney sits on the national board.
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GodisFaithful
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2014, 10:03:18 pm »

Linda,

I can't even tell you how discouraging it was to read that article.  The Great Commission was mentioned just barely, but mostly it sounded like a bunch of saber rattling about loyalty to each other, and to the church.  I didn't see anything there about loyalty to Christ above all.  Rick's story about how someone was questioning him, and a brother rebuked the questioner, saying that there should be no questioning because that gets in the way of unity, and Rick was so touched by the guy's loyalty to not want Rick to be questioned about anything, well, Gag. No pastor should even want unquestioned loyalty.  Rick defends his church, Paul the apostle spent his life defending the gospel and lifting up Jesus Christ.

And I get so tired of that story about how Jim McCotter said, "Join with us!  If you don't, some day you will hear about us, and you will say, 'I knew them.'"  Just because you are going to hear about a group doesn't mean you should join with them. 

I don't like the way he tries to get men all whipped up into a frenzy of unquestioning loyalty.  This loyalty Rick was speaking of is for the MEN, and it sounds like the church and the vision come before marriage. (Mark Darling once told my husband that he spends too much time with his family.  Now I see why he said that.  My husband has a demanding job, was a small group leader with a wife and six kids at that time.) The wives are on the sidelines in the camp cooking the next meal I suppose while the men are out there on the battlefield getting all bloody and dying for the church.  And he seems to want all this reverence for himself and the other small group of church fathers who started it all.  It does not sound like the glory is going to the right place at all. 

He even talks in there about people walking away.  So how can he say there has never been a walking?  I guess he means there has never been a walking of those who have remained loyal. Stating the obvious. Jim McCotter's heart must still be knit in there somewhere. 

Back to the Maryland split, I guess Dan Baty, who is black, and Steve Huhta and Rob Lamp, really wanted to take the 1991 Apology paper seriously and make some needed changes based on that and I assume how the Holy Spirit was leading them. They are the ones who broke away. A fair number of the people who stayed with that church are black and a lot of whites went the other way, with GCx. When I found that out it made me reflect on the fact that from what I can see GCx is a pretty white movement.  And what I want to say about that is that for all the bravado of GCx and how they are going to reach the world with THEIR church, well that leaves out a lot of people who are different colors and cultures who are not going to necessarily be enamored by their little band of brothers and saber rattling and uber controling ways of saying, "This is how it's done."  It just doesn't seem like they are very humble at all about this job they are taking upon themselves. 

And I ask myself, "Did I ever really believe that this group was going to reach the world for Christ?"  I don't think I did, but I was caught up in the emotion of something that seemed big and successful.  I don't care if I hear of this church and how huge it is or something.  I am so happy with my plane Jane church where there is a lot of love and growth in me and around me, my husband is not encouraged to be away from me all the time, and we help send many missionaries to very difficult places and by God's grace it is making a difference.  Without humility, GCx efforts are going to flop. I grew up in Africa, the daughter of missionaries, and the complexities are enormous.

Note to self:  Don't read anymore of Rick Whitney's articles.  Just pray for him and his family and move on.     
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Huldah
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2014, 08:22:18 am »

Rick's story about how someone was questioning him, and a brother rebuked the questioner, saying that there should be no questioning because that gets in the way of unity, and Rick was so touched by the guy's loyalty to not want Rick to be questioned about anything, well, Gag.   

That was painful to read. I actually cringed for the poor questioner who got shot down.

Somewhere in my old notes, I found a statement from one of the elders that unity is more important than truth. Yes, they actually taught that, and they've taught it from the beginning.

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." To place organizational unity ahead of truth is to forsake Jesus for an idol.

If a brother can't ask an honest question without being attacked, what is really going on in a church? What's going on when an elder defends the attacker, instead of answering the question?

If unity isn't based on the truth, then what is it based on?
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Linda
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2014, 07:14:43 am »

After all that, I gave the wrong article number. I meant #127, however #133 was another one that troubled me greatly.

Whatever you do, stay away from #46 "Building Courage and a Spirit of Sacrifice into our Wives". (Never mind that it's the groom who is supposed to sacrifice for the bride). GC twists it to be the wife sacrifices for her husband and her church. Biblically wrong and profoundly sad.
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GodisFaithful
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2014, 01:15:35 pm »

I don't think there is such a thing as a church split, come to think of it, in the minds of Rick Whitney and core leaders like that. 

Here is a quote about the RW view of anyone who would leave a GC church.

"We have lost a few and yes, it hurts and yes, there have been challenges.  All movements of God have lost men.  Even our Lord lost a few."

Who did our Lord lose?  Judas?  Judas was never his, and proved that by his actions. Are we being compared to Judas when we leave GCx? Who else did the Lord lose?  The people who were only following him for what they could get, like food and miracles.  But they were never really his, they did not believe IN him as the Messiah.  So is Rick Whitney comparing anyone who leaves the GCx movement to anyone else that the Lord "lost"?  I can't think of any that the Lord lost.  Once we find the Lord and are found by Him, once he is our Lord and Savior, He doesn't lose us. He keeps track of us and is our Good Shepherd for life.  It is not even in our power to be lost.  He has a firm grip on us and we are in the palm of his hand and nothing can separate us from Him and no one can condemn us and God will never, ever leave us.  The Lord never lost anyone. By His very nature He would not/could not lose us who are His.

Are we being compared to Judas and those who only believed in Jesus for the material benefits?  That is hardly the case with many, many who have left the GCx movement.  Rick Whitney is very condemning of those who leave the movement.  They are written off, not worthy of any more attention, kind of like being blotted out from the book of life. 

This is a sick twisting of Scripture to keep people subserviant to the all powerful elders.  Just like a cult.  They love their power and their place of honor.  There seems to be never, ever a good reason to leave their movement.  Ugh
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BTDT
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2014, 11:19:24 am »

BTDT offered to give more details of the Maryland split if I could ask questions to jog his memory.
He also said it might take him a while; sorry for the delay.  Cheesy  Thanks for giving a bit of the background for your questions. I hadn't heard much about the Delaware church, other than the typical GC vagaries of "needing encouragement" etc etc.
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Was the church that left GC, Valley Brook, considered sub-par or somewhat rebellious?  Were friendships between the church members considered to be an ok thing?
I don't know what the GC national leaders or elders in other cities might have thought about it. 

I never sensed any animosity between Oak Ridge and Valley Brook after the split, and many of us had close friends in both churches.  In fact, when I was deciding which church to attend, Steve Hogan told me that he'd be sad if I didn't go to Oak Ridge, but that he fully respected and supported whatever decision I made.  And he said I'd always be welcome at Oak Ridge, whether as a visitor or future member.
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Did the focus on evangelism at VB change?  Any conferences?  Any church plants?  Is it a healthy church now, in your opinion?
In my opinion, VB's focus became much more balanced.  Authenticity, and our personal walk with Christ, were emphasized much more strongly.  We still had our "invite a friend" events, like the Christmas concerts and Easter services and such, but definitely not a "pound the pavement for Christ" sort of thing.  Looking back, we all needed a lot of healing, and I think the church's focus was a reflection of that.

There were some conferences, like singles' retreats and such, but just Valley Brook -- and they seemed to emphasize openness, honesty, and getting to know God one-on-one.

I left Maryland almost 17 years ago, so I can't speak from personal experience about today's VB, but I'm still in touch with Dan Baty, who is the senior and sole pastor.  Dan is awesome, and it seems like VB is doing well.  I'm not worried about them.
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Was there a change in leaders getting more theological training?  Did you notice much Scripture twisting?  What about dating?
I'm sure training was supported and encouraged, and Steve Huhta did get a degree in pastoral counseling.  I don't know if Danny or Rob had any additional training, though. 

I didn't notice any Scripture twisting in the post-split VB, not at all.  Even pre-split, or at least pre-weakness-paper, I think that many or even most of the Maryland pastors were simply deceived and/or had deep misunderstandings of Scripture.

Pre-weakness-paper, dating was actively discouraged.  I could write a whole, sorry, sad chapter on that...but in typical God-fashion, He caused it all to work out for good.  Between the weakness paper and the split, VB just didn't know what to do with dating, so it just sorta happened.  Post-split VB, there was definitely no prohibition or discouragement of dating.
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Did you have speakers outside the three elders? 
I'm sure we did.  I have vague memories of a few of the deacons giving a message or two.  I don't recall if any outside speakers came in, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did.
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Did newer people tend to go with VB, and older members stay with GC, on the whole?
I don't think so, for the most part.  Certainly the more "hard line" old-GCers went to Oak Ridge, but there were plenty of us "veterans" at VB as well.  And newbies at both places.
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Did you feel that all abusive practices went away, like shunning people who leave, leaders lording it over?
Definitely, but that actually happened a couple of years *before* the split, when the Weakness Paper / Error Statement was presented.  That point in time, in my mind, marked the start of a reformation.  My recollection is that the Oak Ridge/Valley Brook split was due to differences in the *degree* of reform needed.
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What is the meaning of "Positive Focus people"?
Positive Focus was the name of the African-American-oriented group in pre-split VB/GCCMd.  I'm not too in-tune with its entire history, but at one time there was a "mini-church" at Howard University in DC. (That was at the same time that GCCMd also had an "international church" on the U of Md campus...they were into satellite "churchlets" at that time, I think.)  I'll leave it to others to fill in my 747-size gaps in their history.

I'm going to pause here...your other questions have to do with things I wrote in some forum discussions, and I have to go back and re-read them myself.  I hope I've given you some more information, from one former-member's point of view.  I do know that there are others who read this board, that could provide more info than I have or remember.  I really, really hope they do.

-Ed-
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