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Archive for the ‘Faith Tabernacle legal issues’ Category

It’s hard being on the outside looking in sometimes. I have never regretted my decision to leave, but there are days when I see someone, hear something, or come across a picture that makes me realize just how different things are and, probably more than that, brings back the old longing to finally be accepted there, and knowing it won’t ever happen.

Today I came across some event pictures. I didn’t recognize most of the people in the pictures, but did see some familiar faces. Seeing them, wishing not that I could go back but rather that somehow I could still be a part of things even though I left. Shunning is one of the most difficult parts of leaving, and after several years it still hurts at times. Even though I wasn’t really shunned the last few times I saw them, still when I see pictures of things I wasn’t invited to and didn’t know about, see kids growing up, or hearing about someone that I cared for makes me feel left out and cut off. As though I’m standing on one side of a glass looking at them, but them on the other side. Seeing them, but knowing that glass will remain in place, knowing I can’t be close to them as long as I choose as I have and do, and that they may not even know or care that I’m there.

Shunning is difficult. The concept behind it, behind not talking to those who leave anymore, not being friendly toward them, is to “reach” them. The thought is that if the person is left to themselves they will get lonely or face difficulty and return. It didn’t work for me… actually the opposite was true. Perhaps it was the reasons I left that made some difference. If I’d been shunned for wrongdoing, that might have been different. However, I wasn’t shunned because I did wrong. I was shunned because I chose to do right… and because in order to do that without definite reprisal I had to leave that church.

Maybe it’s because of why I left that shunning didn’t work for me. I saw their shunning as a final statement, almost as though they shouted, “Go to hell!” They believed I would be lost because I left their church. Few made an attempt to reach out to me. My guess is that fear and embarrassment were more the reason for that than lack of concern. Still, it came across strongly as something more.

Shunning has been somewhat reciprocated. I knew I would be shunned and knew people could face their own consequences if they didn’t shun me. Edwin Young could be cruel, and as a well respected and definitely feared leader, his cruelty could have far reaching and long lasting affects. For that reason I didn’t reach out to those still there. I didn’t want my decision to leave to hurt them. However, I was also there long enough to know that when I left, the empty place I left would soon be covered-I would not be missed and would soon be more or less forgotten in the busy-ness of life at Faith Tabernacle. And when one that was closest to me turned her back on me in the store, I stopped hoping things might be different. As time went on, shunning became more of an oddity to me, something that was definitely wrong. Years later, I faced panic attacks because a friend was leaving a new church I was attending. Someone lightly said, “It’s not like you’ll lose them as a friend just because they leave here!” I realized then just how negatively shunning had affected me, and how ludicrous it was for a church to do such a thing to someone who simply left.

Still, I missed them and I miss them sometimes still. I wish I could still be involved in some things, could still see people I once knew, could at least know that they are ok. Maybe they wish the same of me. But we stand as it were on opposite sides of a thick glass that neither I nor they are willing to step around.

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During these two weekends, I was told I needed to “get back in a good Apostolic church” or “get back in  a good church”. This was especially true at the open house when I wore short sleeves, since members’ elbows must be covered. They would make the statement, glancing at my elbows repeatedly as they asked. I found the statements humorous… and sad. ‘Back”? How could anyone from Faith Tabernacle look at my bare elbows and tell me I needed ‘to get back in a good Apostolic church’. Because they believe that elbows must be covered, or a person isn’t being modest. I understand that, still, back? I would have understood if they’d said I needed to get in a good Apostolic church, but not BACK. I was never in a ‘good’ Apostolic church. I have to wonder what they consider ‘good’. Definitely not one that ‘allows’ short sleeves. Back? Do they mean back into Faith Tabernacle? Do they truly think that a church that allows the horrible things Faith Tabernacle allowed, ignored and/or promoted is GOOD? Better, apparently than a church with bare elbows.

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The open house and installation services were interesting to attend. I was concerned about going, even just to the open house. Thankfully, due to some earlier events that day that I was also concerned about, I didn’t have time to focus on and get worked up about the open house. I needed to return to Junction City a couple more times anyway, and the two weekends worked well to finish things up there with closing accounts and picking up things that I had left.

It was good to come to the open house. I was greeted warmly by someone in the parking lot, and was thankful to see that person one more time. I’m not sure I will ever be back in Junction City, so seeing these people this last time has been good. I could finally say goodbye. I wasn’t able to say goodbye when I left, because of the urgency with which I left and to protect others from Edwin’s wrath and others’ gossip when they discovered I was suddenly out of their control. It was also good because I saw and was reminded of why I left. Not much has changed in 2 1/2 years, but before these weekends I hadn’t realized how much I’d forgotten. Names, faces, good times and bad have all come to mind as a result. I’m thankful for the memories.

Why did I come back? To see the friends I couldn’t talk to for 2 1/2 years, because they considered me ‘backslid’ for leaving rather than deciding between getting kicked out or doing as I was being pressured to do and sinning in order to stay. Why did I come? Curiosity-I wanted to know if things would be different now. Why? Because Edwin wouldn’t have allowed it, I suspect, and I enjoyed crossing his invisible line, the one that shut me out for 2 1/2 years. Indeed, he announced that anyone who left would have to come through him before being permitted back. I refused to ask. But now he’s gone, along with his invisible line. It was nice to step over it.

The open house was nice. The installation services… I was afraid to go. The loud, emotional atmosphere of the church, the concern that things would be the same… or that they would be drastically different, and not knowing my responses if either were the case, did concern me. Still I went to the installation services. I drove around quite awhile first, paced outside, and debated, until finally entering the buildings late. But I went. I doubt I could have returned to a service at Faith Tabernacle before attending both the open house and the service in Wichita. It concerned me that people might be hopeful and then disappointed that I would not be returning. Thankfully most people seemed to take that in stride though. Nothing unusual happened to me in Wichita. No one forced me to move up, run the aisles with them, or worship in certain ways as I was concerned they might, and that was good.

Even at Faith Tabernacle, though my heart was racing so much that I could hear it at first, I didn’t feel unwelcome or pressured to do anything that would have gone against my conscience during service. Aside from being punched in the arm in greeting by one woman, most others who greeted me at all greeted me warmly. Though I disagreed with several things in the service-the amount of preacher praise rather than praise to God, and the insistence that God would immediately, quickly ‘heal’ Faith Tabernacle of what had happened in seeming unconcern for those who, irregardless of tears and shouts, will need time to heal and to process what happened to them, at least there was slight acknowledgement that people had been wronged and had been hurt.

Still, the only way Faith Tabernacle can truly heal is if they repent-not just by going to the altar one night and crying and praying, but by admitting their sins and changing their ways. And THAT will take time. Also, I remembered that eleven years ago they shouted at Edwin Young’s installation. They bragged about getting such a great ‘man of God’. I remembered those things and cringed slightly. Not much has changed in some ways.

Why didn’t I go and pray that night? God has already brought great healing to my life, and I’m thankful for it. That healing didn’t come at an Apostolic altar, but through time alone with him and through positive interactions with his people. Those who have left and those who were not instantaneously healed in an hour long prayer service that night need to know that there is hope, and that if they are still reeling from what happened God still loves them. And there are others of us who care too.

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An open letter to the new pastor

Nathan Dudley, you greeted me on the night of your installation and then asked if I was posting ‘all that stuff on spiritualabuse.org.’ The question was odd in that spiritualabuse.org clearly has someone else’s name as administrator, open for all to see and anyone to contact. That board is not set up for questions and responses or for blogs such as this one. I posted nothing on spiritualabuse.org.

However…
I had enough concerns about just setting foot in Faith Tabernacle again after things that happened there. The question definitely didn’t make me, a visitor, feel any more comfortable or welcome.

It angered me that you would corner and suspect me like that, and bring your “spectral evidence” into play as a reason for the point blank question. Why was I being asked? Not because I’d visited several times recently, but because you were thinking about it and my face came to mind, and because some things on spiritualabuse.org were posted as though someone was actually there. I cannot deny having come, and there is no way to prove or disprove that my face came to mind or why. Have I been part of a collaborative effort? Yes. The owner of that site did contact me and did ask questions of me, as I told you that night. I had shared my experience with the owner/administrator of the site in November of last year, and had shared other things privately with her. However, before getting angry with me for that, consider that I had no one I felt I could talk to, and I was concerned for others who might have been left as isolated as I. Even those experiences were not shared in vindictiveness, but to hopefully reach out to others who were hurting and give them hope and encouragement in a very difficult time.

This is where I post. These threads are what I said. You indicated that I might post there in anger or bitterness. I can assure you that I am not angry or bitter about things that happened 2 1/2 years ago. Why am I posting here? Not in vindictiveness. Not to get even with anyone. No, I post for this reason. Indeed, even the owner of spiritualabuse.org is not posting in vindictiveness, but rather:

This article is an attempt to give the reader a background of the church and pastor in question, as well as information on his son Jordan….
We are not glad that the church is in turmoil and so many people there, including children, have been harmed in ways that will remain with them the rest of their lives. We are not glad that there could be children involved who may never come forward. We are not glad that the families of these children are in such horrible pain….
To all of you reading who have been hurt or abused or lied about by this man over the years, this account is also in part for you.

Whatever you have heard or read about that website, I can tell you this: Yes, some of what I have written has apparently been linked to on that site. So in a way, I have been participant in it. However, please read this site before making judgment calls on me.

“Bro” Dudley, you do not know me. You do not know, nor were you interested in, my story. You also do not know that when I have been asked about what was happening, I actually limited my discussions and advised some others who wanted to say more that they should consider the hurt of the people at Faith Tabernacle and refrain. I’m not sure why you asked what you did, however, it had two results. 1) I am encouraged, after that encounter, to post more than I had been inclined to in the past, 2) it has proven to me that, more than ever, I’m thankful to have left.

Why did I come these few times? Not to come back. I’ve moved away and moved on, moved forward. The last nearly three years have been the best of my adult life. Oh, you may say I haven’t moved on if I could write and post something like this. But in reality, it is BECAUSE I can write and speak openly about these things, rather than whispering them in dark corners or fearing those who might judge and condemn me that I can say that indeed I have moved on. They are a part of my past, and won’t be denied or brushed aside. Attending and later leaving Faith Tabernacle changed my life forever. And I’m OK with saying so, both for the good and bad. I am not bitter or angry in stating these things. I’m simply telling part of my story.

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A preacher fails. A church falters. What is the biblical response in a time like that? Has “God cleaned out the church” as some claim has now happened in Faith Tabernacle? Should people be thankful that “God finally did something”? Sadly, with many unhealthy churches,  people are told not to do anything when they begin seeing wrongdoing, and then later are told to “move on” (as in to act like nothing happened) when they should really stop and think instead.

Faith Tabernacle has been told that now that “God’s removed the sin from the camp” that they will have revival. For starters, there are times we shouldn’t sit on our hands and wait for God to do something. He gave us brains for a reason, and we should use them. Even Edwin Young himself preached that if he was wrong, the members should leave. For seconds, this is about more than a preacher’s son messing with kids, though that’s bad enough. Every time we shouted while he blasted someone else from the pulpit, every time we shunned someone because he told us to, every time we gossiped or lied about someone else to protect ourselves, knowing that if we were the first in the office we’d be considered the ones who were right and “they’d get theirs”, we also sinned. Every time we ignored someone’s pain, took the word of one person over another’s without hearing the full story, told someone they “just needed to pray through” when they said they were struggling with a church related situation, made a joke out of someone’s pain, prided ourselves that we hadn’t sinned like someone else had, or looked down on someone else, we sinned, too.

Should Faith Tabernacle feel a call to repentance? It might be worth considering. I’m not saying we were all guilty of anything regarding the current allegations, but on the other hand, I hope that God is calling us all to a deep repentance. The kind that brings lasting change.

A few months after I left Faith Tabernacle, I was sitting in church during an altar call and the words of a song struck me hard.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeAwBmb_x28

“When the music fades, and all is stripped away, and I simply come…
I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required
you search much deeper within, through the way things appear, you’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about you… I’m sorry Lord for the things I’ve made it… when it’s all about you, Jesus

That day brought a renewed repentance and a recommitment to my life that has had a far reaching impact. I was called to repentance not for what I was wearing or for the fact that I had left Faith Tabernacle, but that I had focused on others and on myself rather than God in my “worship”, trying to please people rather than God. And in doing so I’d missed the whole point. No, I didn’t run crying to an altar that evening to “pray through”. Rather, I sat in my pew, considered what I’d done wrong, and asked God to forgive me. And I determined not to ever again make worship the “thing I’d made it” as the song puts it.

I don’t know if “God cleaned out the church” as I’ve heard or not. But something deep in me reverberates with the thought that God would prefer to clean out peoples’ hearts rather than clean off his pews. My prayer is that others feel the same.

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Some have been upset that there are people who are “rejoicing” over what happened. They are sadly mistaken about what emotion some are feeling.

I went to Edwin Young’s church, Faith Tabernacle Apostolic Church in Junction City, KS, for nearly 10 years. I sat on the pews. I ‘amened’ his preaching. I knew all the verses, had the ‘standards’ just right, made sure to stop thinking rather than to question anything that happened. Until it happened to me. It’s easy to shout ‘amen’ when someone else is getting the brunt of someone’s wrath. “Get them, pastor! Nail it down! Preach!” It’s simple to accept the labels placed on others and think they must have ‘deserved it’. But it’s not so easy when it happens to you.

I thought I was doing the right thing. But someone got jealous. Someone got upset. Someone thought they should have something I could give them. And when I didn’t, the gossip started. Rumors built and then they went to the pastor. “Concerned for my soul.” They sat in the office while Edwin Young yelled at me and told me I wasn’t a part of the church. From responses from friends, the person must have texted several people before I ever left the office that night.

Then things got worse. I was somewhat threatened. “If you don’t do what I say, I’ll tell Bro Young and he’ll take care of you!” Worse, fewer and fewer people would speak to me. The rumors were too thick, I suppose, for them to ignore. Edwin Young preached, “Be careful who you fellowship! Choose your fellowship wisely!!” and the silence built.

Finally there was a last straw. I didn’t leave because I wanted to leave, but because I felt I had to. By that point I was sitting on the pews and go through the motions of service and thinking, do I really believe any of this at all? And so I left. I went to another Apostolic church, and was greeted by a member there with “Well, what happened? If you don’t tell me, that’s ok. I know so-and-so and so-and-so from your church, and we talk all the time. They’ll tell me everything!” I walked out and never went back. Not because I didn’t believe Acts 2:38, but because I believed more. I believed that true Christians wouldn’t lie and gossip and slander each other. I believed that biting and devouring each other was wrong. I believed that our true motivation as Christians should be love. And I couldn’t find that in Pentecost. Not in my area, at least.

Do I rejoice over what happened? I rejoice that Edwin Young resigned, yes. I rejoice that finally my name might be cleared, that the silence is broken, that people might say hello to me rather than turning their backs, and that someday, broken friendships may be restored. More than that, I’m relieved. Relieved that I left, that I’m not associated with the allegations against the former leaders of Faith Tabernacle, that I wasn’t a part of whatever happened and is still under investigation. I’m relieved that I had no part of what happened and that I left before things got so bad.

Do I rejoice? I don’t rejoice that children may have been molested, that money may have been misused, that men and women sinned, or that anyone might have hidden what was happening. I don’t rejoice over the women that Edwin allegedly fooled around with or that people may have been too afraid to “leave the truth” to tell it. I hurt for them. I hurt that they are still there, that they still cling to the hope that now things will be better, that now things will be different, when they follow the same patterns as before. There may be changes, but unless they change, they will risk the same things happening again. No matter who is in leadership. And so I hurt for them.

I haven’t met anyone yet who is happy Edwin Young or Jordan Young “fell”. I have, however, seen people reunited who hadn’t spoken to each other for years because of the distrust Edwin had built between people. I have seen some deal with their hurts and begin for the first time to open up and talk about long covered wounds. And I have hope that they will find healing when they do. For that I rejoice.

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“Absolute power corrupts absolutely…”

I’ve heard the quote several times recently in regard to the issues at Faith Tabernacle. Why? Because Edwin Young had, or thought he had, that power. If he said it, people believed it. If he said someone was bad, few looked past the accusations to see if there was any basis to them. There were a few times that he even preached that if the preacher said the sky was green, we’d better just believe it, even though we’d always thought it was blue.
Wait. He told us how to dress. He required a weekly fast. He told us to pray and hour a day. We were supposed to ask permission to leave town and miss a service, to date or to marry, to buy a house or a car, to apply for and/or accept a new job. He said no one made us do that and that no one made us stay. But the doctrine of the church said that if we didn’t, we could be thrown out… and that if we left the church, we were “backslid” and headed to hell. Further, the teaching of the church was that if a person “backslid” they couldn’t just come back anytime of their own accord, but would have to call and ask the pastor’s permission to return, and that if we didn’t, the church “family” should have little if anything to do with us. “Choose your fellowship wisely!” “Be careful who you fellowship!”
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Whether Edwin Young had absolute power or not, through fear of hell and the potential threats of shunning and rejection, he did have an enormous and unbiblical amount of control. Whether or not that control led to corruption I seriously doubt many would debate.

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