A Response to the Madrid Discipline Letter
by Kyle V. Degge
[This letter was written by Kyle Degge, a former evangelist in the Boston Movement, before it came to be called the International Churches of Christ. In addition to serving as a minister for a mainline Church of Christ, Kyle counsels people who have left or are leaving the ICC. He, among others, spoke with David Medrano and Natercia Alves, the former Evangelist and Women’s Ministry Leader in Madrid, Spain, around the time of their decision, in late February, 2000, to leave the ICC. (Their account of their departure is published on the TOLC website.)
Kyle felt that the letter written by Randy McKean, ICC World Sector Leader, and other ICC leaders contained a number of evasions and outright falsehoods, and wanted to set the record straight. — Editor]
(The original text of the letter is shown indented, in italics.)
(Kyle’s responses are shown unindented and in boldface.)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This letter is being sent to you to inform you of a very serious and sad situation that has just occurred in the Madrid church. Last Friday, February 25th, the leaders of the Madrid church, David Medrano and Natercia Alves, called a meeting consisting of some Madrid leaders and also of leaders from the Las Palmas and Lisbon churches. These leaders assumed that they were going to attend a ministry workshop, but ended up in a very different sort of meeting.
It’s interesting what is apparent here about the way the ICoC is structured, and about its standard modes of operation. Leaders in the Movement [the discipling movement, a common term for what is now called the ICC] constantly call meetings which average members are conditioned and led to believe are actually initiated by their leaders themselves. In fact, any independent action on the part of leaders at any level of the hierarchy is seen as threatening to the “trickle-down” flow of information and instructions from the top. If the subordinate leaders assumed this was a “ministry workshop,” it wasn’t because David and Natercia implied it. They are all so accustomed to obeying orders without question, there was never any need for a false premise of the nature of the meeting to be set up, even if David and Natercia had been inclined to do so (which they were not).
David and Natercia began sharing their supposed concerns about the movement and top leaders in the movement. It quickly began to be obvious that they were not at the questioning stage, but rather had come to their conclusions, and were on a very destructive and divisive track. At no time had either David or Natercia called the Boston Leadership to ask questions or voice concerns.
There is the subtle implication that David and Natercia were being deceptive, but this is only due to the careful, deliberate crafting of this paragraph by McKean, Ferguson, and Shaw (who wasn’t even there!). In fact, they did reveal, forthwith, to the leaders they called together that they had arrived at understanding and convictions about the ICoC and its leadership, which precluded their continuing in its system. Apparently, being “questioning” Bereans is only something these men want for new initiates to be, and then only in theory.
David and Natercia had, in fact, reached conclusions about their inability to continue with the ICoC, and were doing what they considered the honest and responsible thing, considering the role they occupied in the lives of the leaders under them. They had already decided they would have to leave Madrid, and at no time were they trying to draw a following after themselves. They have given up everything they had, which in the ICoC economy, was a lot. They have no jobs, no income, and have lost most of the relationships they considered to be “life-long” ones. They were scheduled to be married in early April, with full “Movement” regalia, and all of that has gone to smash. They now have Christ, and each other, and are having to learn a whole new way of living free in Christ, without the security and props of the ICoC.
As for the last point, of course they didn’t call Boston. They had been in the ICoC for 6 and 10 years, respectively, and already knew well the “party line” of the leadership. That’s why they had been made the trusted leaders of three nations in the Movement’s economy! How stupid would they have been to call the leaders before doing what they could to speak for themselves to the people they love. They know the “system” well enough to know that once Boston, or Paris, for that matter, was informed, all free communication with those they, supposedly, “lead” would be forcibly ended by outside influences. Once they concluded that the leadership structure of the ICoC lacks the basic integrity befitting true men and women of God, they did the only responsible thing they could: try to convey the truth to those they might have a limited opportunity to empower to listen.
Several leaders of the Lisbon church left this first meeting and called Boston for help. Randy, the Fergusons, the Bellmors along with Juan Zaragoza and several European leaders (Franck and Fabienne Descotes and M****** M*********) left immediately for Madrid. Upon arriving in Madrid, the alarming details of the various meetings were shared.
This is proof of exactly what David and Natercia feared. A total of 11 outside leaders were flown in on a moment’s notice. (By the way, if the truth is on their side, why would it take 11 people to hold the high ground with a church of only 28?) The members of the Madrid church were told to boycott a meeting David had called on Friday night, and instead, attend the meeting on Saturday night with McKean and Ferguson, where “you’ll hear both sides of the story.” In fact, McKean and Ferguson didn’t even know both sides, and clearly (and predictably) had no intention of allowing David to present his “side” to the church he had led and loved for over 8 months. David and Natercia knew very well that this would be the “scorched earth” approach of the hierarchy, and this affirms the wisdom of their chosen course of action.
Several men from the Mainline Church of Christ in America were in town directing the division, including Ed Powers, who split the church in Indianapolis, and Isaiah Pickett, a former elder in the Chicago church. Both of these men have been officially marked by the International Church of Christ as divisive heretics. David and Natercia called for other meetings, which were held with those who would attend. Unbelievably, this group even came in to disrupt the meeting we called with the church Saturday night.
These others were present only due to the wishes of David and Natercia. As for “directing the division,” these other men were responding as they had been invited: to give their testimonies about their sides of stories, the distortions of which the leadership of the ICoC were on record (in print and on tape). The leaders of the Movement are crying “Foul!” here, but what about the slander and destruction of precious relationships they are guilty of regarding Powers, Pickett, and countless others who, over the years, have dared to question, much less challenge, their power structure? These men were present in Madrid only to speak the truth, where lies had been allowed to be enmeshed in the very fabric of the speeches, articles, attitudes, and hearts of the entire membership of the ICoC.
As for disrupting the meeting called with the church on Saturday night, I refer you to the account, which David Medrano has written himself (being posted on REVEAL and TOLC). Just to say, no one was asked, much less forced, to listen to anyone or anything they were not freely willing to hear. If telling the truth is “divisive,” “heretical,” or “disruptive” to the purposes and systems of the ICoC, then the ICoC is operating on very shaky ground indeed. Any group, or leaders, with nothing to hide, and with their integrity intact, has nothing to fear from the kind of dialogue for which David Medrano begged on Saturday night, 26 February 2000.
There would have been nothing disruptive about an open and respectful dialogue about opposing points of view, either about doctrine, theology, or practical issues. If the Movement has clear, defensible positions of integrity, let the dialogue begin! In fact, these leaders behaved like men with a great deal to hide, and were out of the room with as many of the Madrid members as they could, literally, drag with them a mere 7 minutes after David and the others entered, requesting a dialogue.
Refusing to engage in controversy with men who were marked as dangerous and divisive, we asked the disciples to come with us to a meeting in another location. A number came with us and a number stayed to hear the highly critical and destructive teaching of the other group.
In other words, these “shepherds” refused to stay and fight the lion or the bear or the wolf, and abandoned half of their own sheep to destruction, rather than stay and do their best to present their all-powerful “truth.” Is this what a righteous shepherd does?
At this point, the majority of the church is now meeting with us and we believe that most of them can be saved from this factious attempt to destroy the church. Although it breaks our hearts, because of ongoing divisiveness through phone calls and e-mails, David Medrano and Natercia Alves are being marked as divisive people, along with David’s brother Steve, who recently fell away from the Las Palmas church. In keeping with Romans 16:17-19, we are asking that no disciple engage in any type of communication whatsoever with these people.
And who has a track record of destroying the church? In both installments of “Revolution Through Restoration,” Kip McKean boldly declares that his concoction of doctrinal porridge was for the sole purpose of “drawing a sharp distinction” between his followers, and everyone else in Christendom! Go read it for yourself! This is the essence of heresy — to purposely contrive doctrines which don’t even hold a drop of exegetical water for the sole purpose of further dividing God’s blood-bought household! Religious division throughout the ages has always been thus, and McKean & Co. are, themselves, nothing more than garden-variety sectarians!
It’s also interesting, is it not, that these leaders claim unto themselves the right to continue to control every aspect of the communications of others, even when they’ve left the Movement. Why didn’t they include some of the content of David’s original letter to fellow leaders and friends in the Movement, and respond to his positions and words in substance. In fact, they’ll never have anything at all to do with letting David’s real reasons see the light of day, for that would amplify what is already painfully obvious: that they are desperate men who will resort to lies, slander, and any behavior necessary to preserve their fragile illusion of integrity.
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.  Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
Isn’t it interesting that though the NIV is the favorite (almost hallowed) translation of the ICoC, they have to go to the hated, much laughed-at KJV to get their word “mark” in Romans 16:17. This “Scarlet Letter” notion of shunning behavior is not well-supported by responsible exegesis of Scripture. To “watch out” [SKOPEO-Gk., also translated “look into”, “examine,” or “inspect”] is not the same as to shun! Even keeping “away from them” doesn’t imply loveless, rude, or shunning behavior. Presuming this is in the same spirit as Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18, where the brother who will not listen to admonition about sin is to be treated as a “pagan or a tax collector,” the question must be asked, “But how did Jesus, himself, treat pagans and tax collectors?” He certainly never treated even his worst enemies with the sort of arrogant and superior demeanor so common among the leadership of the ICoC!
If anyone is contacted by them in person, by phone or by e-mail please notify your lead evangelist immediately. We then ask the lead evangelist to communicate with the Boston Leadership. If there is a desire to repent, direct them to Randy or to Gordon for all conversations.
In other words, we will control all communication, information, and interpretations. You are neither free to make your own decisions about how to treat “enemies,” nor responsible enough to make right judgments. We will dispense all things, including the content of your personal relationships with people you love.
Wolves have entered the flock, but Jesus has intervened to preserve as many sheep as possible and now we must work with Him to prevent further damage.
Wolves by whose standard, and damage to what? Your personal, carefully contrived image of integrity? You have none! The “sheep” will be most damaged, both temporally and eternally, by continuing to buy into the lie that their leaders are totally trustworthy and full of integrity, and completely deserving of the unquestioned devotion and allegiance of their people. You have put yourselves in the place of Christ, and I would not want to stand in your shoes!
Dave and Lori Seavey are being sent immediately from Boston to lead the Madrid Church. Juan and Olga Zaragoza will join them from Boston as soon as their baby is born. Gordon and Theresa Ferguson will remain for at least one month in Madrid. Plans are already being made to send in more disciples from Boston and Europe to help strengthen the situation.
In other words, the “discipling philosophy” really doesn’t work, and we’ll spend any amount of money, effort, and human resources to pretend that a situation is “successful.” If discipling works, you should be able to start over with only a handful of “faithful disciples,” and have a church of hundreds in a very short time. Fact is, the Madrid church was planted in ’91, and still only had under 30 members. Not a very impressive performance for the discipling model, is it?
Please be praying that God will somehow bring good from this evil situation, and since Satan has been behind it all, redouble your efforts to win as many as possible from his terrible grasp. The surest way to win a victory even in challenging times is to refuse to be distracted from the mission of seeking and saving the lost. We love you very much. May God bless all of your labors with joy and fruitfulness in His name.
God already has brought good from this situation. Two people whose entire lives would have been wasted on your illusory system of lies, exploitation, and manipulation are on their way into a very bright future, free in Christ. Several others have found, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, the strength to break free from the arrogance, deception, and exclusivity of your system, and begin the journey of the rest of their lives unshackled from the chains of legalism.
Still others, though they have continued attending, for the time being, have witnessed the cowardice of their “great leaders from America,” and truly do know the character and integrity of the couple who led them for 8 months. One day, they may, too, find their bearings, and come to a stunning realization about who has really harmed and betrayed them, and who the real heretics are.
And you, Randy, Gordon, and Wyndham, will be quaking in your boots every day, just hoping against hope that your sham of spirituality can hold together long enough for you to figure out a way not only to fool your fellow men, but to fool God into saving you, despite your heresy. May God have mercy on you.
Randy and Kay McKean,
Gordon and Theresa Ferguson,
Wyndham and Jeanie Shaw
After all of the above, they have the unabashed gall to call this “Love.” Read 1 Corinthians 13, or John 13 again, and tell me this is love! It’s just this sort of twisted thinking responsible for all the abuses and distortions of truth in the Movement.
By the way, you may be wondering how I know so much about what happened in Madrid. Well, it’s because I was there. I was an eyewitness to the whole thing, and submit this testimony for the sake of truth.
Kyle V. Degge
Portions copyright © 2000 by Kyle V. Degge email@example.com. All rights reserved.