(Thoughts on the Boston Movement – begun July 25 1990 by Sue Condon)
This diary was withdrawn from circulation in February 1997. In March 2003, following the publishing of Henry Kriete’s open letter “Honest to God”, Sue Condon gave permission for it to be distributed again.
Notes on the Authoress: Jim and Sue Condon formally entered the Boston Movement in 1984 and, once they moved to Boston, rose high in the ranks of leadership. Jim was an “elder intern”, Bible-talk Leader, Home Church Leader, Zone Leader, and a Boston-appointed Evangelist. He planted their church in Nashville and was in London preparing to lead the Dublin team to Ireland when he could finally no longer go along with Boston (in 1990). This story has some depths and extremes which may be quantitatively greater than many, but it is qualitatively the same that the vast majority of people, and especially leaders, in the Boston Movement experience. K.V.D.
Kip McKean – I think Kip is the most intelligent, persuasive man I have ever seen. He is an artist at manipulating people to his means – intelligent, strong, God-fearing men can easily crumble under Kip and be totally used as his puppets and, at the same time, think they are only pleasing God. He honestly makes you believe that his way is the only way of pleasing God – I know, he did it to me many times. Several times over the six years I worked under him I had strong doubts about his motives and sometimes even his sanity. Yet I kept being persuaded back to the fact that my doubts and lack of trust in him were a sin on my part – I, in fact, was not trusting God. When I totally trusted Kip and all the Boston leaders – then and then only was I trusting God and therefore able to be commended by Kip to lead other people.
Kip studied with me and tried to convince me I was not a disciple (Christian) at the time of my first baptism in 1970. I believe Kip was going through a very insecure time as far as people trusting him then, and almost everyone in leadership who had not been baptised in Boston was baptised again. My second baptism was really a baptism into Boston – it said “I am now Boston” – “I trust Kip” – My only problem was I really didn’t trust Kip. I confided to the Bairds one week later that I really thought my first baptism was the right one. They said – Let’s keep that quiet.
Jan 1988 – Leadership Workshop at Stouffer’s – Friday evening – we were told (zone leaders, evangelists & wives) to play games and have fun – Kip observed us to see if we 1) were really having fun; 2) were playing to win. Kip believed that in order to be a leader we needed to play games aggressively to win. He even pointed out at different times the people who were aggressive in the way they played). At Stouffer’s, after the games, Kip had us watch his favourite movie: Martin Luther King. (His two heroes were King and J.F.K.) I noticed during the movie how much of MLK’s style Kip had adopted – even his terminology i.e. ‘the movement’). The movie ended about 11.30 p.m. and we were all tired and started wandering back to our rooms to call it a night. Sat. a.m. at 9, we had a zone leaders meeting – I could tell from Kip’s face that he was furious – his eyes squinted. He scowled “Would you believe that some of you failed to say Good Night to me last night?” – a tirade followed. Then silence. Little by little most people in the room confessed their sin to Kip and repented. I was very scared. Kip always rocked back and forth in the pew before delivering a sermon. He reminded me of a baby rocking in his crib.
1987 – Sunday night – House Church leaders meeting – Kip began rebuking us – tirade – looked and seemed totally out of control – Jim and I were concerned and Jim decided to go and talk to him about it. He told Jim he appreciated his concern – but he was fine, and no, he was not out of control. Next day at staff meeting, Kip brought up that someone in this group (who he was not particularly close to) was concerned that he was out of control in his lesson. Kip laughed – then everyone else laughed. Then came a tirade about overweight people. Kip’s face scared me during that Sunday night lesson. He looked like a madman. Doesn’t anyone else notice.
*April 1989 – Kip rebuked and went about breaking me because I didn’t work my way through the crowd and say ‘hello’ to him at the S.E.C.C. in Atlanta. He lectured and drilled me for half an hour until I said I was sorry and that I’d sinned. Then he said I didn’t really sound sorry and did it again. Then he accepted my repentance.
August 1989 – London ChiChi’s – dinner at Doug & Joyce Arthur. Doug laughingly told us that a few months ago Kip actually thought he was an apostle, and that he (Doug) had to talk him out of it. Jim was really scared. I believe that Kip started off and still does love God and really does want to see the world won for Christ. Kip totally practices what he preaches – he is totally dedicated to the cause – his home, family and lifestyle reflect his commitment. I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen anyone so seemingly dedicated to ‘the cause’. The thing I did see happen in the six years I was with the movement was Kip’s gradual change from being dedicated to God to being dedicated to ‘the cause’. The ’cause’ has become so important to Kip that he will go to any means to protect it – and will not allow anything or anyone stop its growth. Love, people’s feelings, humility from leaders have been replaced by loaded terms such as sentimentalism – which means not putting ‘the cause’ before your love or concern for someone.
The term “bad heart” or “not really a disciple” or “struggling” are used whenever someone disagrees with a leader. The person who honestly believes he cannot in good conscience practice something is instantly branded with one of those terms. The scary thing is the “group” unquestioningly accepts the labels put on these people. It’s amazing how many good, intelligent people can love someone one day and the next day consider them from Satan by just one word from Kip – and the final word does come from Kip and only Kip. I have been with Kip when he’s heard of someone’s dissension in an area. His usual first reaction is a hostile “NAIL HIM!” and then “We will not tolerate disloyalty to the movement”. Kip will not tolerate disloyalty or anyone disagreeing with him.
This is the stage I believe the movement is now in. Things are not going well. Kip is scampering to protect and many people are being hurt. I really fear for people because I’m not sure of what kind of damage Kip is capable before someone stops him. The fact is he is so charismatic makes me concerned that he will go on leading people in this farce for a long time.
PEER PRESSURE: There is more peer pressure in a Tuesday a.m. meeting in Boston than I ever saw in all my years as a teenager. I felt it – I fell into it. I centred my life around it. How you look – even the expression on your face – how you dressed – how you walked into a room – how you shared (and you’d better!) – what you shared – how you greeted and treated Kip – how much you weighed – how you related to others – and Kip watched all these things – you knew it – he knew it – everyone knew it – Kip’s approval in these areas was everyone’s goal. There were times that it made me nauseous.
When Kip liked the way I dressed he commented on it. He missed no detail. In May 1988, Pat & Gloria told me the only thing preventing me from being appointed a women’s counsellor was that Kip didn’t think I smiled enough during the meetings (I guess I passed every other test). Jim set about tickling me during these meetings – so I smiled more. Kip approached me to tell me he was happy with the changes in me and I was soon appointed a women’s counsellor. Now, no one criticised me any more – even when I was wrong – because my appointment proved that I was approved of by Kip – and Kip does not make mistakes.
All of a sudden, I was held up in every women’s meeting for everyone to imitate – the way I dress, my family, my evangelism – all of a sudden I was wonderful – but, I thought, I’m still the same person I was last year at this time – but all this fanfare pointed to the fact that Jim and I were ready to be sent out – Kip finally approved – we made it to the top – and more than anything else in my life I wanted to get out of Boston – I hated being there – I despised the peer pressure – I hated my every move being controlled – but I did want to be effective for God and I did want Jim to be happy – and we were finally getting out – so don’t ruin it now by speaking up about this farce – but run for it while you can.
The peer pressure in the meeting itself was intense. Everyone totally tuned themselves into pleasing Kip. If Kip gave a lesson, everyone repented – no matter what the sin was – openly putting yourself down and voicing your desire to be more like Kip was the norm. People’s hands shot up vying to comment because Kip would have a fit if they didn’t. Besides Kip, the other people being praised were our disciplers – because that would be the thing to do – if your discipler changed, he now became the person to praise and it was as if the old relationship never existed.
I was totally baffled by how many people could stop relationships and have new allegiances so easily and quickly. Kip was a pro at that. ‘Best friends’ would be pulled out of the ministry without a flinch. I would look for ‘sentimentality’ in him – but never saw it. One of the reasons I never quite fit in is because when I make a friend, they remain that. I still feel a love and a loyalty toward many people in the movement. I always will. But most people change friends (discipleship partners) like they do socks. They are just following orders who to spend their time with and how to act during that time – some of my biggest hurts come from seeing my supposed ‘friends’ turn off their love for me because of an order from above. How can this possibly be called Christianity? But this is the example that Kip set; – and Kip is to be imitated.
Our staff meetings on Tuesday were totally draining. We would leave there feeling beat up. Our stats (statistic sheets) were publicly analysed by Kip. We were sometimes humiliated, brought to tears, rebuked and did everything we could to be approved of by Kip (and the group) the whole time. If Kip praised you, the group was friendly. If Kip rebuked you – you felt shunned by the group. I was so ashamed that we let ourselves fall into this type of pressure. But it was all part of playing the Boston game – and we were convinced that Boston was the winning team – the Kingdom – “just look around at the stagnancy of the other Churches of Christ” and we did. Bottom line – what alternative did we have? Jim and I almost left several times, but we always came back to that question. This has to be God’s Kingdom – it’s growing – it’s alive – people here are really committed. That’s the kind of church we wanted to reproduce – so swallow your doubts and fears – after all, God is in control.
GOD IN CONTROL – That statement is used over and over again. Of course we do believe that God is in control, but it is used in Boston to explain injustices, abuses and mistakes. It is used to the person sinned against instead of “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” or “Forgive me, I’ve sinned against you” on the part of the leader. Rarely does a leader say “I’m sorry” to someone in his charge and if he does it is also pointed out that the person sinned against actually caused it to happen by some ungodly attitude or a plain “Bad heart” because a “good heart” trusts no matter what because “God is in control”.
In Dec 1989 when Jim and I were fired because of our voicing our concerns of the movement – Gloria told me “God is in control – even when things are wrong within a Church – we need to be patient and submissive because “God is in control””. I told Gloria if I went by that Philosophy, I’d still be in the Catholic Church. She was silent.
Jim and I did a lot of marriage counselling from the time we got to Boston in Sept 1984. The reason for this was that we had succeeded in reconciling a former evangelist and a women’s counsellor from Boston when we lived in New Jersey. Marriage problems were rampant in the leaders. Several of the couples had dated and married at the recommendation of Kip because they would take a “good ministry couple”. People are encouraged to date people on the same “spiritual level” as yourself. Spirituality was synonymous with leadership so it was assumed that if someone did not strive for the full-time ministry they were not “spiritual” enough to consider marrying.
Therefore marriages were set up, and not very many marriages were taking place outside of leadership.This led to many serious problems later. As the singles number in the church rose, many people fell into immorality, fell away so they could date, and a surprisingly large number fell into homosexuality. Brothers were encouraged to be totally open with other brothers, to spend all of their time with them and the atmosphere was perfect for unnatural relationships to develop, especially with those already with those tendencies. (Homosexuality has been a lot more common in the discipling Movement than one is led to believe). The dating rules were so stringent that it was almost more trouble than it was worth for a boy to meet a girl and develop a relationship. He had to get advice on how often to date, what to say and he was constantly warned not to let the girl become a distraction from the ministry.
If he or she were not at least a Bible talk Leader they were discouraged from getting serious on the grounds that he or she is not spiritual enough to get married. This left a very small percentage of leaders dating. (In all fairness, Boston has admitted some of these dating problems in the last year or so and there is now a larger percentage of people marrying and dating). Our counselling, though was largely composed of these “arranged” weddings between leaders. We met people with great ministry skills but no understanding of what God intended the marriage relationship to be. Some had never had that physical “spark” that is necessary for a healthy marriage so they were experiencing serious sexual problems.
Their attraction to each other was purely as a partner in the ministry. Most of these people are now out of the full-time ministry. They’re still married but have been robbed of the depth of the relationship that God intended in marriage. One thing that stood out with most of these people and the other ministry couples was their lack of loyalty to each other. Their loyalty was to the “movement” even if that meant turning each other in at times for infractions. Several times Kip criticised Jim for his loyalty to me. He said Jim’s protectiveness was preventing the leaders from getting in there and really discipling me.
Marriages in the ministry were under severe pressure. Several times in sharing sessions, wives made the comment that they wished their husbands would be more like Kip or other leaders. Husbands were encouraged to spend late evenings with discipleship partners, playing basketball or talking. Looking over the schedules, we’d notice that most couples rarely had dinner together – they were basically carrying on singles schedules – only they were married.
Jim approached Kip with one of these schedules: “Kip,”, he said, “What do you see wrong with this?” Kip said, “Not enough evangelism”. Jim said “Not enough time together – this schedule spells divorce”. The families with children had even more problems – I have always cringed when I think of how the children born into this movement will be in 15 to 20 years. The joke about people having sex only on Saturday night in the movement is not really a joke – the pressure of Boston plays havoc with your marriage.
LEADERSHIP: Leadership equals spirituality: Position equals spirituality. God raises up leaders.
When a person first becomes a Christian and even before, during the counting the cost, he is convinced that he should want to be a “leader”. Qualifications for “leaders” or a position is pretty standardised throughout the movement. Although London has a position I had never heard of before which is called a “zealot”. A zealot is a person who has not yet born fruit but in general shows a good attitude and promise of being a leader. London has rah! rah! meetings just for zealots and when someone is raised up to be a zealot (by God, of course) everyone screams and cheers to let this person know just how important he now is and also to encourage all the new Christians to want to become zealots. A zealot is basically a good guy who hasn’t made any waves and seems to be fitting in with the habits of the group pretty well.
The next step up the ladder is Assistant Bible Talk Leader. Someone is usually appointed ABTL when they bear fruit – kind of like a bonus for recruiting a new member. Although Kip used to encourage us to appoint ABTL’s even when someone just rubbed shoulders with someone on the way to the Baptistry. A big fanfare is also made about someone becoming an ABTL. Bible Talk Leaders are basically the real workers of the church. In order to be a Bible Talk Leader, someone should have been abundantly fruitful, shown leadership qualities, and shown an ability to motivate others to being evangelistic (unless of course he is favoured by or related to someone up in leadership – then he does not necessarily have to have any of these qualities – nonetheless he has still been raised up by God).
House Church Leaders are the next level although they have become obsolete in most congregations. A House Church Leader is responsible for several Bible talks. The next level of leadership is a ZONE Leader (several House Churches) and this person is always full-time with the church. He may possibly be a zone-evangelist or women’s counsellor. Most people never move out of the intern stage. I never knew an elder’s wife who was referred to as an “elder’s wife in training” because it was felt that she didn’t meet the qualifications of an elder’s wife – even though she was married to one.
What I am describing is a very complex political system that an innocent convert enters into usually never realising the pressure it will cause on him later. What we have here is a system where people who may never achieve anything in the world can rise up and gain power over people, with positive approval of their peers – maybe even acceptance by others for the first time in their lives – and then they hear that God is raising them up to boot. Don’t let anyone kid you – this is not the humble, die-to-yourself ministry that you hear about. Granted there are some good, humble, God-loving people who really do want to serve God and others – but there are a lot more people climbing the steps of power and recognition by man. Kip made the statement once that all leaders struggle with pride. I think we’d have a lot less leaders struggling with pride if we didn’t throw so many young new converts in – whose motives might be totally wrong.
Anyway the pressure to have a “position” is tremendous. In London they talk more about your “position” than Jesus. As my “position” in Boston changed so did my treatment by the group.
The Discipling Churches right now – especially Boston – are overloaded with fallen leaders – people who used to be in leadership but are no longer – some because of sin – some because of ineffectiveness – some because they just weren’t treated fairly. There are many 30ish men who were encouraged to go full-time in the ministry – straight out of college (to the dismay of their parents). They were convinced that being full-time was the only real way to be spiritual. With the recent severe financial crunch they have been dumped by Boston and are back in the job market with the 21 year olds. It is very sad. I hope this practice stops.
There is a common denominator of everyone being raised up to leadership. He must not make waves, cause trouble, disagree, question why things are done – a person like this stands little chance of moving up unless he knows someone at the top intimately. This is learned quickly – people who make waves are referred to as “struggling”. If they see a problem and point it out they don’t “Trust in God” or they have a “bad heart”” that needs to be dealt with. Their criticism came from the “overflow of their heart” which is “bad”. Keeping quiet occurs in all stages of leadership – right up to evangelists. That’s why I entitled this book “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
When I was in London I couldn’t believe that no one could really see what was going on. Then I realised that they did, but didn’t have the courage to admit it – for fear of losing their position and they were right! We definitely did lose our position when we spoke up. It amazes me how many “relatives” of the top leaders have been “raised up by God” to be Zone Leaders, Evangelists, World sector Leaders. After an amazingly short time in the ministry, even as Christians, God raises them right up to the top – I guess it just runs in families, huh?
I believe Jim and I were “raised up” for several reasons. We were extremely close to the Baird’s. They took the credit for “raising us up”. Our Stats (statistics) set records. Stats speak with Kip. He may not have liked us, but he can’t argue with record-breaking stats. Not many “older” people like us from a main-line background, especially with a large family.
Jim was preaching in Midland Park New Jersey when we decided to go into the Boston Movement. After a fairly successful 10 years in New York our ministry in N.J. was not doing well and we were discouraged. We were also concerned about our children: 18, 17, 16, 11, 6, 3. New Jersey had not been good for our family and our teenagers seemed to be headed into the world. On April 6, 1984 Jim resigned from Midland Park and announced that we were moving to Boston to be discipled. The rest of the congregation could either stay where they were or go into the new Central Park Church of Christ, led by Steve and Lisa Johnson from Boston. Jim and I began making plans to move to Boston that summer and went to Central Park in the meantime. We travelled to Boston to look at rentals. We met with Kip several times. He seemed excited about us coming, probably because we had counselled and reconciled Doug & Candy Blough, his evangelist and women’s counsellor. Kip made the statement that he would like Jim to train to be an elder with Jerry Jones who was also due to arrive in Boston.
In the meantime we were being discipled by Steve & Lisa Johnson in New York and they were really encouraging us to stay there. We actually witnessed an argument between Kip and Steve on the phone about where we should move. Kip & Steve later confided that, at the time, Steve was in competition with Kip and he had repented. We decided to stay in New York. Steve was elated – he even picked up Jim on Third Ave, in N.Y. & kissed him on the cheek. I loved Lisa. For the first time in all my Christian life I felt I was really growing and I finally caught a vision for myself to be able to lead and convert women. Ever since Jim had begun preaching, I was terrified of leading in any way. Lisa gave me vision and confidence I had never gotten from anyone before, and to this day I am thankful. Lisa is one of the most “real” Christians I have ever met. We converted my neighbour who had 7 children.
It was not a good summer, though. The schedule for the church was insane for a family to try to keep. 45 minute drive to New York Central for 12.30 a.m. meetings, devotions every Fri night – workshops. Almost everyone was single, but how could I fit my family into this? Jimmy (18) seemed to be doing fine. Caryn (17) jumped right into being discipled by a single sister. Carlyn came up to me after service on day and “rebuked” me (that is the word she used) for not disciplining Judy right. She told me her discipling partner had told her to rebuke me. I was very dismayed. Something was wrong here. I asked another single woman how she coped with P.M. “I crucified that”. O.K. – I realised I was going to have a tougher time relating to these radical singles than I had thought. Yet, people were being baptised daily – well, not exactly, they (many) were being baptised on Sundays so that it could be an encouragement to the congregation. The person baptised always mentioned the name of the person who had studied with them.
The church was growing by leaps and bounds. Judy hated it – she went to church but that was about it. She wanted no part of this discipling. Jim was also very unhappy. He was now an “intern” being discipled by Steve. He did not feel close to Steve – had a hard time being “open” with him. Steve didn’t exactly know what to do with Jim either. Steve gave Jim the responsibility of parking cars during services – I guess he was trying to break him. Jim was not a happy man. Labor Day 1984, Jim and I drove Jimmy up to start at B.U. In the glove compartment of the car I found a toothbrush & toothpaste. It was obvious Jim was smoking again. I confronted Jim – we argued.
Next day we went to service at Boston Garden. Kip preached a sermon “Seven Little Foxes”. I thought it was wonderful. Kip mentioned in his sermon that Steve had left the North Zone in a mess. I liked all the families I saw in the service. Jim and Doug Blough walked and talked until 1 a.m. Jim burst into the room, “We’re moving to Boston. This is the kind of ministry our family needs”. We rented a house. We went back to N.Y. on Mon evening, just in time for the Bible Talk in our house. Steve and Lisa were there. “Sue”, Lisa said, “I can’t wait to share our plans with you – I want you to lead all the women in N.J.”.
“Wait”, I stopped Lisa, “We’ve got to talk to you about something”. We went to their apartment late that night and told them we were moving the following Saturday. Lisa said “Just tell me one thing. Have I failed you in any way?” I said “No”. Lisa couldn’t stop crying. Steve was furious.
We arrived in Boston the following Saturday. Kip welcomed us. Because our furniture wasn’t due’ til Monday the church got us two rooms at the Boston Marriott. Al & Gloria Baird (Boston Elder) began to disciple us. Jim had a good relationship with Al & I with Gloria. Our marriage and family began improving. Jim was being primed to be an elder. We, the Jones, McKean’s, Grempel’s and Bairds met often. The only holdout we had for Jim becoming an elder was Judy – she was mad that we had moved her away from her friends and wanted no part of the church. Kip had Erica Kim disciple her and told Russ Ewell to try to convert her – it only made things worse.
She said the teen ministry was full of a bunch of fat losers who only became Christians because they had no friends and she wanted no part of it. We asked Al and Kip to take the pressure off our family – stop pushing Jim towards the eldership – take the pressure off Judy to become a Christian so that Jim could become an elder. In Jan ’85 we became House Church Leaders. About 60-70 met in our house. We split several times. The ministry was going well – lots of baptisms – a real excitement about being part of Boston. We had House Church Leaders meeting every Tuesday a.m. with Kip and I don’t remember them being particularly abusive – just encouraging.
In 1986 the church began forming zones. We were asked to move from Lexington to Milton to lead the Inner south Zone. This had been Russ Ewell’s House Church before and Russ had “fallen into sin” and left the zone badly damaged – even some leaders fell away. The zone had a reputation of being a problem. It was 50% black in the very roughest part of Boston. One of the abuses I had noticed up until this point was the way mothers who were “leaders” in the church seemed to be neglecting their children. They were constantly being left with baby-sitters in order to keep up with their intense ministry schedules. Several ministry couples we had counselled were afraid to have children because they couldn’t see how they could possibly take care of them and continue to be in the ministry. I was afraid of the responsibility of leading a zone and the effect it might have on my children. Therefore I told Kip and Pat that I did not want to lead a zone and I suggested they get someone else to lead the women.
They were horrified and angry that I had refused this “position” of honour. We had several meetings in the next few weeks – Kip was obviously not happy with my lack of cooperation. Finally Janet Veasy was appointed to lead the zone with Jim and we moved to Milton. The next year was rough . The zone was not doing well – In Nov. we almost left Boston. Al & Gloria found out and spent an entire night at our house talking us out of it.
In December, Jim was asked by Kip to lead the Dublin team. Jim was being discipled by both Al & Kip at the time. Kip came to our home every Fri morning. Jim was not happy with me not by his side and I gradually took on more responsibilities in the zone. Kip discovered that I was discipling four of the six House Church Leaders and had a fit. He made me a Bible Talk leader. I said if only a B.T.L. I guess I would no longer have to go to the Tuesday meetings. Kip said, “What! Most of the people in this church would give their right arms to be at that meeting – and you don’t want to go?!”
By May I was leading the zone with Jim. Things began to pick up. The Fall semester we had 59 baptisms and one fall away – a record. The Zone had grown to 250 people. The first week in Dec, at Sunday am service at the Boston Gardens, Bob Grempel announced that Jim would be appointed an evangelist in 2 weeks. We were shocked. Jim got the longest standing ovation I have every heard in that church. By this time we had done the “reconstruction” in Louisville and were already discipling Sonny & Carolyn Sessions. In Feb we were asked to take a “side trip” before we went to Dublin to Nashville – we thought Al was kidding. They thought we would be best at “reconstructing” Nashville because of our age and our mainline background. The plan was for Nashville to support Dublin team after we had been there for 2 years. Boston would still send Dublin out and we would continue to be discipled by the Bairds.
I was appointed women’s counsellor and we left Boston with much fanfare. The staff had a big party for us with Southern food and country music. Kip remarked that we were leaving Boston together.
The Bairds were in Nashville with us for the first few days of the “reconstruction” August 1988. It all went well and we left with a great church of happy people and close friends. The Oberles and Evans came with us. We tried not to repeat any of the abuses we had seen in Boston in Nashville and I think we were successful. It was a happy growing church – 250 baptised in one year. I also had a growing feeling that we were not doing things exactly like we had seen in Boston – but we seemed to have a happy, healthy growing church. I myself was so relieved to be away from the constant intense pressure I had felt in our 4 years in Boston. I began to relax. Maybe everything was going to be OK. We had more persecution in the church than we had ever seen. Sometimes, five front page articles in the “Nashville Banner” in a row with Jim’s name on it. Radio, T.V. and even National Network calling us. We were thrown off campuses and it was not uncommon to have a reporter at services. All of this, not because we had done wrong, but because we were “connected with Boston”.
The newspaper articles constantly talked about the abuses of “Crossroads” and Boston but could never actually pin anything on us and we intended to keep it that way. The church was happy in the midst of this. We had many baptisms and few fall aways. It was at the end of one of these bouts of persecution that we and the staff went to the Leadership workshop and seminar in Atlanta in March 1989. As far as we were concerned, Boston had been totally supportive of us. We met with Kip in Boston in January and he had expressed his support of us. He called the success in Nashville “incredible”. He confirmed that Boston was excited about sending off the Dublin team in June 1990. We had been on the phone with the Bairds weekly from Nashville and they were very involved with and very encouraged by the work – full steam ahead! (we thought).
Behind the scenes, Kip was dividing the world up with one of his seven “world sector leaders” each taking a chunk. Each discipling ministry must fit into one of these sectors and discipling must be ordered in them – with no exception – there was no room for “sentimentality” here. Anybody who was “really” a disciple would unquestionably alter their lives, place, dreams, churches, as told. It was undecided whether Nashville would be under Chicago or Atlanta. We received word in March that Nashville would be under Atlanta, therefore we needed to hurry off to this seminar to “bond” with Atlanta. What we didn’t know was that Andy Lindo was apparently being pulled out of Atlanta and sent back to Boston.
We heard from Al that Andy was having “problems” with the move. He was being pulled out in order to order the relationships within the sector. Steve Johnson didn’t have a good relationship with Andy. He wanted Steve Sapp (his man) put in Atlanta. This meant that the Sapp’s whom we had never met were to disciple us. Kip told us later that before he left for Atlanta Al called him and said, “With you setting up this new sector, does this mean that Gloria and I will no longer disciple the Condons?” Kip said “Of course it does”. Al said, “Please don’t announce it – we’re not prepared for that yet.” Kip told us he was furious.
He was tired of the Bairds being sentimental about us and treating us special. He arrived in Atlanta very angry with us – unbeknown to us. At the same time Andy Lindo and Jim had been talking. Jim asked Andy “If the purpose of this seminar is to bond all the churches in the S.E. Why do you have speakers from San Francisco and South America coming in?” Andy asked Jim if he was inferring that he (Jim) should be one of the speakers? Jim said “Yes. Me or anyone else who leads a congregation in the South East.”
The other fact that we were not aware of was that Nashville had had many more baptisms than Atlanta for the first three months of 1989 – Andy knew this, but we did not – in fact we had had more baptisms than any congregation in the S.E. and Andy was evidently upset with this, and also going through his own personal turmoil about being pulled out of Atlanta – with the reason being given I’m sure “that it wasn’t doing well enough”. Looking back now I feel sorry for the Lindos because they experienced very much the same things as we did – they have since also left the Boston Movement.
Anyway, when Kip got off the plane that day in Atlanta he asked Andy and Steve what needed to be addressed that night in the leadership conference. Andy told Kip about his conversation with Jim. Kip, already furious, saw a way to strike out at us – he confessed this to us later on. His sermon that night referred to a certain “leader” in the S.E. who had the “gall” to “insist” that he be one of the keynote speakers and a certain congregation who thought they were better than anyone else because they had more baptisms – he called this leader and congregation “independent and divisive”.
Kip had that same angry, intense scowl on his face and spoke with that same intensity I had seen several times before that made me afraid he was about to lose it. Jim and I and our Group realised about halfway that he seemed to be talking about us. Our mouths dropped open, horrified. We had all come to Atlanta to get comfort from our brothers and sisters after intense persecution in Nashville. Why was Kip striking out at us?
My mind went back to Jim and I sitting in Kip’s living room just a month before and Kip referring to us as part of his “family”. I though “family does not treat family like this”. I was deeply hurt – on the verge of tears. Jim and I looked at each other shocked and hurt. I said, “Jim, we’ve got to talk to somebody about this”. He said “You’re right, but not just now.” I went looking for Kip. He was surrounded by his usual group of fans – people thinking they could make it to the top if they could just get Kip to look on them favourably.
I fellowshipped circling Kip for about half an hour and still couldn’t get close enough to talk to him. Jim and our group yelled “c’mon Sue we’re going out for coffee”. When we got back to our room, Jim and I were both devastated. I broke down and sobbed. The next morning the lessons continued by Steve Johnson, Steve Sapp and Andy Lindo in much the same vein. Nashville being tongue-lashed. After all, if Kip thought we needed disciplining, these “good” disciples certainly needed to help him.
Kip flew back to Boston. Jim talked to Andy. He defended his position – he said no one knew what to do with us. Al was having problems giving up our relationship and it was messing up their plans. That night we went to Steve Johnson’s room and told him how hurt we were. When he heard our story, his mouth dropped open. “I am so sorry,” he said, “please forgive me. We have all sinned against you. I can’t believe that we wounded a congregation that was already hurting from persecution.”
He said he would talk to Kip and Al and try to make any amends that he could. I was very deeply hurt. I had spent four years in Boston learning to “trust” leaders and now I knew I definitely didn’t trust again. Jim felt the same way. He said to me, “Have you noticed we do fine when Boston and others leave us alone? I wish we could just go work with the Church and be left alone.” This would be tabled by Boston as an independent spirit. I know better – Jim was deeply hurt.
When we got back to Nashville, Al called – “could we fly right up to Boston? Kip wanted to apologise to us”. In Kip’s living room, he said he was sorry and then went on to explain how he had always felt that the Condons had always been treated “special” because of our relationship with the Bairds and he was sick of it. Everyone needed to fit into the “structure” with no complaints and no sentimentality. He said the Sapps needed to be over the ministry in Nashville and disciple us in the ministry. He allowed the Bairds to disciple us personally (whatever that means).
Dublin was still scheduled for June 1990. Then Kip began rebuking me for not speaking to him in Atlanta. I tried to explain. No excuses. I was in sin. He went off on his tirade and tried to stare me down. He decided I wasn’t “broken” about my sin and turned up the heat. I was tense – I finally broke. I repented of my sin against Kip (just to get him off by back). This must be brainwatshing! I hated it – so many of my meetings with Kip and also with Pat Gempel turned out like this. I just waned to get away from Boston and back to my safe home in Nashville.
Jim and I were not the same after that in our attitude toward Boston. Something was lost – trust, loyalty, confidence – whatever. We loved Nashville – we loved the people. This was our “family”. In May, the Sapps came to disciple us and the church. Steve Sapp blasted the Bible Talk Leaders for not converting people. We sat there amazed – what was he talking about? Kim Sapp “preached” to the women – 1½ hours – emotional blasting, intense, yelling. I had never seen anything like it. This is what she’s trying to turn me into, I realised – part of me said “Never”.
I saw trouble ahead. In mid June we were set to go to Atlanta for a “bonding time” with the Sapps and all the South East Leaders. Al called one Thursday. “We want you and Jim to fly up Sunday afternoon about some plans we have.” “But”, I said, “we’re supposed to go to Atlanta this weekend”. “Forget that”, Al said. I knew something big was up. Jim called Al when he got home. Al said, “we’ll talk when you get here”.
“Just tell me Al,” Jim said, “is it about Dublin?” “Yes” Al said, “you’ll be moving there before September” (Al claims that he thought Jim said “London”). We loved Nashville – but our dreams had always been Dublin. We were excited. The Bairds picked us up at Logan and brought us back to their house. “Tell me about our plans, Al,” Jim said. Al started, “You will be moving to London in six weeks where you will be leading an Irish Zone which you will eventually form into the Irish team. The Leaders in London will decide when they think Dublin is ready to go out. Your son Jimmy will not go with you – he is needed in Nashville. You will go into London as interns. That’s the way Doug Arthur does it.” Jim and I were stunned.
Who will lead Nashville, we asked. “Don’t worry about Nashville. We will send in interim leaders until we can find an evangelist. Jim turned red. He was hurt, furious and emotional. He lashed out at Al. Gloria started crying. What a mess. We went to dinner that night. It was very strained. Jim and I were still in shock. Next day we met with Gempels and Bairds (Kip was in Manila). They were very upset with our emotional reaction to the news – we weren’t acting like disciples. Pat made the comment that she questioned whether anyone with a mainline background like ours could every make it in the ministry – whether they could ever really learn to “trust””.
Pat said she understood our reaction about Jimmy not going – he had always dreamed of going to Dublin with us – so they would let him go. Doug’s policy was to never let anyone come in as “evangelist” and “women’s counsellor”. They had to earn it. They said we were prideful in making such a big deal about our titles. I said, “Wait a minute. We never cared about titles. That’s all you talked about in Boston – holding carrots out for titles.” I said the most gruelling experience of my life was my four years in Boston of trying to attain a “title”. They’re the ones who set that up – not us. Pat said, “I can’t believe it – you’re describing your years in Boston as gruelling,” I said “I can’t think of a better word.”
We said that our observation was when someone lost their title they had failed at something. Had we failed at something? Was Nashville a failure? (not so! of course not – Nashville was one of the greatest success stories yet. Then, we said, we did not believe we should lose our titles. They would have to discuss this further with Kip and Doug, they said. We also said we wanted the original date of June 1990 set for the Dublin team. We did not want to walk into London open-ended. “Open-ended” in a ministry could be a “gruelling” x years – especially if we were in a place where no one knew us. They said they would have to talk to Kip and Doug about that. Then Bob Gempel made the statement, “This is your choice. If you want to stay in Nashville, fine, but then you’ll have to give up Dublin. But we’re not forcing you to do anything. You make the choice – Nashville or Dublin.”
Jim and I flew back to Nashville. We talked. We were told that Kip and Doug agreed to the date of Dublin being June 1990. Pat said, “So many phone calls were made about this evangelist and women’s counsellor thing, that we could have flown us all together (Kip, Steve, Doug, etc) with the expense of it. We had brought up an issue that hadn’t been addressed before. And Kip decided that yes, we were right and we should not lose our titles. (What we didn’t know was that Doug Arthur was fuming about this – yes, he would bring us in as evangelist and women’s counsellor – but in name only).
We hugged everyone and said goodbye and flew back to Nashville resolved that we were moving to London even though we had serious reservations about it. We sold 95% of what we owned – “almost the 2 suitcase challenge” (Gloria once told me the 2 suitcase challenge was stupid – you just had to buy everything all over again anyway – she was right) but we hadn’t heard this new edict yet – so we went about selling our 25 years worth of belongings. Our friends the Sessions and the Arnetts sensed a sadness in us and we in them and we spent a lot of time together. We travelled to London 3 times that summer.
Barry and Linn Beatty were sent in to take over in Nashville. We packed our bags and took off for the Boston seminar where we were to leave for London. The church at Nashville sent us off in a big way. It was hard to leave them. At the seminar there was a video that Kip had put together on persecution. We were shocked that Nashville was not even so much as mentioned in it. (Doug Arthur later told us it was because Kip was uncertain about us because of our “emotional” reaction that summer).
Tom Brown was leaving Boston to go to L.A. and Al & Gloria would now lead Boston. I heard from Gloria that Kip’s life had been threatened during the seminar. In the leadership part, Kip expressed his concern over the fact that neither N.Y., London, Boston or Chicago had grown in number in the past year. Some had actually decreased their membership in spite of thousands of baptisms. This could only mean that thousands of people had fallen away. We decided in view of everything we’d rather stay in Nashville. We were tired of bouncing our family all over the world and Nashville was a place we could call home the rest of our lives. We were willing to give up Dublin.
We called Al the following morning to tell him our decision – there was silence. “Now”, he said, “we’re going to go about talking you into moving to London.” “But we want to stay here, Al.” “We’ll see,” he said, “can you fly up here on Monday for a few days. We need to have some good time together to repair our relationship and build the trust back.” We went to the Gempel’s cabin in Maine – The Gempels, Fergusons, Bairds and us. Two straight days together – rocking in chairs on the porch overlooking the bay and swinging in hammocks. Very Norman Rockwellish – it looked like close friends having a great time together. But I knew better.
This was serious breaking time, and in Kip’s absence, Pat always took on this job. Pat watched, listened and analysed – even the small talk. Then she seized the moment. She said they were worried about us – because of our emotional reaction, our anger at the change in plans. We were a risk, but they were going to give us a chance to change – by sending us off to London and see how we do. She didn’t see enough “brokenness” in us about our sin. We rocked and we rocked on the front porch and we were gradually broken by the “Queen of the Breakers”. We said we were sorry. We said we would try to be “good” disciples. We thanked them for giving us this wonderful second chance. Then we made our plans to move to London.
We reiterated our concern about giving a young church like Nashville temporary leadership. They assured us Nashville would be taken care of. We asked where our support and Jimmy’s support would come from. Nashville wasn’t ready to take this on. They had already given Paris $100,000 in one year! Bob and A; said “Let us worry about the money. Boston will pick up what is lacking.” (Gloria told me months later Kip had repented of this announcement – because if caused people to be discouraged). Kip decided we should report increase in disciples each month rather than number of baptisms.
It’s strange but this practice never did begin – maybe it would have been too discouraging! We were to leave for London Monday at 7 p.m. Jim, me, Jimmy, Dave, Kate and Sarah. Steve Johnson called our room at the Western Hotel Sunday and asked if he could see Jim. An hour later Jim called. “Is everything all right?” “No”, he said, “you’d better come over.” I went to Steve’s “suite” in the Sheraton. Present were Jim, Steve, Barry & Linn Beatty and Vivien, Steve’s accountant. “I really hate to tell you this right as you’re ready to leave for London” Steve said, “but Nashville doesn’t have enough money to pay your salary and Boston doesn’t either. Also I talked to Al and he never remembers giving the O.K. on your son Jimmy going with you. We definitely can’t pay him and we’ll just have to see what we can come up with for you – but the money is not there.”
Al later denied making the comment about Jimmy coming, but there was no way to get in touch with him. Steve said “Vivien give them a cheque for bare minimum expenses now”. “We were not paid again until Oct). I started to cry – there was nothing to say. Linn Beatty and even Vivien began to cry. Steve said “I feel really bad – I’ve never sent anyone off on the mission field like this before – I’m sorry.” We went back to our room and broke the news to Jimmy. He wanted to go anyway. He would work in London. Then our whole family cried as we said goodbye to each other.
That evening we asked to see Doug Arthur, hoping he could help us in our confused and depressed state. He said “You guys have been trouble everywhere you go – come to London in a learning mode – you really do not know anything. You really do not know what you are doing. The sooner you realise that, the better. Everything that has happened is your fault.” We left for London on schedule. “Let’s make the best of things” Jim and I said to each other. “Let’s be disciples; let’s be positive. Let’s not get any bad attitudes about this.”
Our adjustment in London was hard. The kids had a real hard time with the schools. They were very different from what we were used to. The teen ministry was weak and David was having problems with it. There were no children in the whole church, Sarah & Katie’s age. The church had 800 members. 720 were single. Yes, this was the great London Church of Christ. The Church in general was very cold. Jimmy couldn’t find a job and we were having to support him – and we had no promise of a paycheck. The staff meetings were a shock – the staff grovelled and repented over not making their goals – over failing.
London was going downhill fast and the staff was taking the full responsibility for it. The two men that Doug Arthur had brought in as interns to raise up to be elders were to be pitied. They were gradually being broken down to where they couldn’t hold their heads up – they were constantly repenting of everything at these staff meetings. They looked broken down and beaten and you could see the toll it was having on their wives. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that this was how the “great Doug Arthur” operated. Very few spiritual conversations took place in these meetings. They were totally result orientated. I was frightened – this was much worse than Boston. At least in Boston, God was the focus – they didn’t even pretend at that here.
The first week I was there I went to eight meetings for different levels of leadership – everyone keyed off this staff meeting; none of the staff looked happy. We couldn’t seem to make any friendships because everyone was involved in their own little “agony” in the ministry – only no one would admit it – because that would have been disloyal and unspiritual. We saw leaders stretching and even lying about stats (statistics) out of fear. The worship service was like a Junior High Pep Rally:- screaming, hollering, stamping feet, shallow sermons, working people up in a frenzy. “How am I going to be able to stand this for a year?” Then the clincher. Walter Evans said to Jim, “I am your teacher. Listen to me. I want you to forget everything you’ve learned in the past and learn to do it the way we do it here. You are to reproduce this church in Dublin”. I saw Jim pale. We were given 4 disciples each – one fell away after 3 days, one was a Nigerian, one was from Ghana and one English girl. Where was our Irish team? Later we were told. We were not given a zone or a B.T.(Bible Talk) because London did not have Bible Talks. The mode of evangelising in London was blitzing – cold contact. People were pressured to do it every day.
The result – weak conversions, weak relationships, high fallaway rate. In 1988 London had 600 baptisms and 700 fallaways. The people in the church were like freaks – they ran around in a frenzy for the church – clambered for leadership, went to pep rallies, had horrible relationships with their families and even within the body. In short for the first time in my life, I really thought I was in a cult. I was afraid. My skepticism and concern showed on my face – I wasn’t good at hiding my feelings. Jim and I talked to the Bairds several times.
“Change things,” said Al. “How?” Jim said. Al had no answer. We talked with the Evans. Kim agreed with us – but how to change it? We talked to our new D.P’s (Discipling Partners) Fred Scott and Emma Day. They looked at us – scared – and said “Let’s talk about something positive.” Dave was being discipled by an Irishman, Francis, a real good guy who wanted to go to Ireland with us. He and my disciple, Stephanie were crazy about each other. “When can we go steady?” she asked me.
He talked to Jim about it. The zone we were in, led by Tim and Julie Huffman, were extremely weak – little leadership potential in it. “But raise up leaders!” was the direction the Huffmans were being strongly pushed in. Stephanie was the woman they had their eye on and a young English guy. One night Stephanie came over sobbing. Tim and Julie had talked to Doug and Joyce about Francis and Stef going steady. It was decided that Francis did not have the potential of being a “leader” that Stephanie had and therefore they should not go steady. Stephanie was told to choose “God” or Francis.
Of course, she wanted to choose God – she loved God. At our Women’s Counsellor Meeting the following week I brought up my concern about breaking up couples on these grounds, especially in view of the enormous amount of singles in the church. I asked Joyce if we really had the right to “control” people’s lives that much. Joyce was quiet. The following week she rebuked me in front of the group.
She said no one had ever talked to her and disagreed with her in that manner. Then she said “Do you realise we could fire you?” (How prophetic!) By October our salary was coming through – but it was barely enough to live on by London’s high cost of living – when we mentioned this to Doug Arthur he said, “Did you ask advice about having six children? It’s not our fault you weren’t a disciple then.” Our situation was worsening.
We were discouraged but were trying not to discourage each other – Jim, Jimmy and me. Jim always carries himself a certain way when he’s down and that was how he was walking these days. Sarah was having tremendous problems in school and crying herself to sleep every night. The one encouragement we did have was the constant flow of cards and letters from our friends in Nashville. On November 4, Jim and I had a horrible argument about the ministry in London. I told Jim he was depressed and it was affecting the whole family and he told me I was negative. It got very heated and Jim slammed the door and left. “I need someone to talk to,” I thought.
I called Gloria. The Bairds knew us well enough where I thought they wouldn’t be blown away by an argument we had and our emotional responses to it. I had always been able to be totally open with Gloria before. I told Gloria that we were very discouraged by the ministry in London and that it was affecting our marriage to the point that I wanted to pack the kids up and go back to Nashville! Gloria called Doug. Doug called our house that night – Jim told Doug that he wanted to leave not only London but the whole discipling movement because of the politics, legalism and control he was seeing. Jim put me on.
Doug said, “What do you see in the church here you don’t agree with?” So I told him – exactly what I was feeling. Then Doug said to Jim, “Maybe you do need to leave.” Kip called and spent over an hour on the phone. Jim told him all the problems he was having with the movement. He said, “Kip, if the movement looked in 1984 like it does now, I would never have become a part of it.” Al called. He and Steve Johnson were flying over to talk us out of leaving. They spent 36 hours with us and the Arthurs in meeting. Al and Steve admitted there were problems and asked Jim if he would be willing to stay and be part of working them out. Jim said, put that way, that, yes, he would stay.
Doug Arthur set out to break me. He called me self-righteous, and what qualifications did I have for deciding that a church had problems. He repeatedly asked me, “Can you work with the London Church of Christ as it is today?” I repeatedly answered that in good conscience I could not – that the whole way the church functioned and dealt with people went against my conscience. He was furious – his eyes were blazing. (How dare I criticise his Church!) He continued to try to break me by yelling at me and trying to intimidate me. I finally burst out “I can’t stand you – you’re the biggest creep I ever met!” Steve Johnson tried to appease everybody. You could tell he did not like the direction this meeting was headed in. We called it a night – Doug Arthur left for Africa early the next morning. We drove Al and Steve to the airport. Their parting words were, “We feel that we can work together to try to resolve the problems in the church. God has performed a miracle and you’re staying and plan on you going on to Dublin as scheduled.” Then the Evans came and spent the day with us and we rejoiced that we had worked things out.
Steve flew right to Nashville where he told the church, “Rejoice – we and the Condons have worked everything out and they will be going on to Dublin as planned.” Everything was quiet for about 8 days. The Arthurs had gone to N.H. for a semiannual World Sector Leaders Meeting. We tried to call Al 2 or 3 times but he never returned our calls (unusual). On Saturday Doug Arthur called and asked Jim to come over and talk to him. He told Jim it was unanimously decided at the meeting to fire him for “Disloyalty to the Movement”. He then told Jim they would give us 6 months severance pay if we went where they wanted us to – San Diego or Chicago. They did not want us in London, New York, Boston or Nashville.
Bob Oberle flew Jim to San Diego to look at the job market. On his way Jim stopped in N.Y. and spent the day with Al. Jim told Al he had a lot of feelings about what was going on and what should he tell the elders on San Diego “Just tell them the truth – what happened – how you’re feeling,” Al said. So Jim did. While Jim was gone Pat Gempel came to London to see me. She told me I needed to repent of my impression of the London Church of Christ. I told her I couldn’t understand how someone could repent of an observation. She said, “I don’t know – I just know you need to do it.” I asked her why we were being banished away from the people we needed to work things out with. We knew no one in San Diego or Chicago. She said, “That’s a good question. I’ll find out.”
Pat later called me. “You can’t come back here because Boston is getting overloaded with fallen leadership etc. You have discipled and influenced too many zone leaders here and we’re afraid of your influence. The same goes for New York and Nashville.” “Where then,” I said is the arena for us to work these problems out?” She answered, “That’s a good question. I don’t know.” Then she told me that Jim was in San Diego slandering the London Church. (Jim had only talked to the elders and evangelist as directed by Al). Al & Gloria confided in us that at the World Sector Meeting they had been broken about being sentimental toward us. They repented and took full responsibility for our behaviour because of the way they had discipled us – they had been too easy on us. They loved us too much and they couldn’t see things clearly. Doug fired Jim because Al was convinced that he needed to back out.
When Jim came back from San Diego, we had a family conference. It was obvious that San Diego was not the place to go. Jimmy and David felt strongly that we should go back to Nashville. I had mixed feelings. Nashville was the closest thing we had to a home. We owned a house there. The schools and people were familiar. Our friends were there. I did not want to appear divisive. Steve Sapp called and Jim told him we were coming back to heal and would attend services there. The Evans were to pick us up at the airport and bring our dog Toto.
Christmas in London was hard. Carlyn and Judy flew over. Jim and I were under extreme stress. Carlyn constantly defended Boston and made us out to be the bad guys (she still does). It really hurt. Jim lost his temper a few times. It was not a good reunion. Jimmy suddenly turned on Jim. Jim felt betrayed by everyone – except David. They grew closer together. It took us 18 hours to get from Heathrow Airport in London to Nashville. We were going home – we were excited about seeing our friends and dog when we got off the plane. Steve Sapp and Bobby Fobbit met us at the gate – they looked solemn. “Where are the Evans and Toto?” the kids asked. Steve said, “We’ve reserved a suite for you at the Holiday Inn and we’d like to talk to you.”
He said, “You are not welcome at the church. We are calling on you to repent of disloyalty to the movement and slander of the London Church of Christ. If you contact anybody in the church here, it’s war!” They left. Katie, Sarah and I cried. The next morning it was raining. Our car was dropped off in front of the hotel with Toto, his basket and a few belongings in it. Actually it was Jimmy’s old car and the windshield wipers didn’t work. It wouldn’t go up hills and the tires were bald. We spent the day trying to find a place to rest. About 4 p.m. we found a condo. We had no furniture, no job and no friends but the realtor must have been an angel because she let us move right in.
The next several days were horrible – we slept on the floor and talked to no one. Even our families didn’t know where we were – we didn’t know how to tell them. We enrolled the kids in school and set out pulling our lives back together. After a week or two, two families came to visit. One was disfellowshipped for this and the other ones were about to be and they left. We were publicly “marked” on the Sunday and Wed after we got there. It was amazing the reasons they used:- 1. Divisive; 2. Slander; 3. Marriage Problems; 4 Disloyalty and 5. Emotionalism. We called Al – we were still in contact and asked him why we were being charged with these untrue things. He assured us he would get to the bottom of it. He never did and the charges against us got more and more exaggerated. Pat Gempel called once to see if I would fly up to Boston alone to talk to the leaders. I refused. The Bairds called often but nothing was accomplished and it was apparent that they weren’t in charge.
Who was then? I wonder … one word from Kip and all our “friends” turned on us. They were told that if they really loved us they wouldn’t talk to us. If they didn’t love us they would. We were in the Mall. Katie and Sarah saw Lisa & Sarah Mauer. They excitedly ran up to them to say “Hi!” Lisa and Sarah walked away without a word. In school, none of Katie’s old friends from Church talked to her. We went to the mainline Churches on Sundays. They were so dead – even the kids noticed it. When people found out who we were – they froze. We were the people they were persecuting a few months before. Where did we fit in? No place, it seemed.
Our fears had come true with the Nashville Church. There had been 70 fall aways since we left 4 months earlier (also 2 new preachers). Barry and Steve declared that Nashville was actually a “mainline” church that we had created and that’s why it was doing so bad – of course if was no fault of theirs. They said we had too much of a family atmosphere in the church and at one point even announced “There will be no more hugging”. Jan 1 to May 1, Nashville had 19 baptisms and 39 fall aways. It is still not as big as it was when we left last summer. Our closest disciples were moved to Atlanta very quickly when the leaders found out we were coming to Nashville – Sessions, Drenners and Boyd’s. We haven’t heard from them since.
We even heard that Sonny turned on us and some of his statements played a part in us being fired. I came across this in a book recently and it made me cry: “From somewhere in the back of her mind she remembered an old Jewish folk tale. Something about a criminal being stoned by a crowd, as was the custom in olden days. He said nothing as heavy rocks struck him, but when a small pebble hit, he cried out in pain. Asked why he suffered the hurtful stones and winced at the pebble, he said, ‘The pebble was thrown by a friend.'”
I am very hurt by the loss of my friends. One question I have is how many were actually our friends and how many were riding our shirt tails up the ladder of leadership? I don’t know. I may never know because most of my “friends” are silent – presumably believing the lies that they have heard about us. Since when is it a sin when you speak up about what goes against your conscience?
Where are the people’s minds? Is it true that most people just blindly follow? I’m afraid so. I’m not sorry for what we did – I would do it again but I’m very sorry for the results. It has been torture, but I’m learning to depend on God more because of it. My dream is to provide an alternative to Boston. As yet I haven’t seen one and that is so depressing. Boston does have something to offer that no other church has. But Boston has gone into apostacy. So let’s not sit around criticising but ask ourselves the question “Would Jesus want our lives reproduced?”. “Can’t we be true to each other and true to God also?”
Kip has done a very good job of isolating us from the church. I just cannot understand how so many of our “close” friends have chosen not to at least talk to us. A year ago these people would have followed us anywhere. I’m thankful for the 6 years with Boston but I’m now thankful we’re out. We’ve learned and experienced a lot. I honestly believe that now we’re gone we are finding “God” again. Never ever do I want to become victimised by Church politics. I never want people bowing down and serving me because of my “position”.
Instead I want to learn again how I can serve people. We gained a lot of knowledge in Boston but we also lost a lot – luckily we got out before it cost us our souls. In the past year we have lost our position, salary, friends and even one of our children, but we have gained back a relationship with God and a desire to serve people again. What price can you put on that? It’s going to take us a long time to “heal” but I’m confident in years to come that we’ll be thanking God for this whole experience. Some of our friends will come back – some already have. Hopefully Caryn will mature and stop seeing everything in black and white and stop being a people pleaser. I am so worried about her.
The Bairds:- Al Baird was the first man that Jim really really learned to trust. I believe that Al & Gloria truly do love us. What came out real clear about them was a weakness that allowed them to be manipulated by Kip when it went against their consciences. If this keeps up I believe they will eventually leave. They appear to be broken people right now – broken and powerless. They have been removed from leading Boston because they have failed. They have also seen their closest disciples walk away from the movement: Jim, Andy Lindo, Doug Lightening.
Al once confided to Jim “Jim, you give me more trouble than all the rest of my disciples put together, but” he said with tears in his eyes, “I love you the most.” Al did not want us fired, but he was weak. I don’t believe he will ever be the same. When we saw him last May he said to Jim “Nothing could ever make me give up hope that you’ll someday come back – nothing.” I miss them very much. We had a special friendship. My hope is that Kip will resign and massive repentance will take place in Boston so we can all be united again.
THANKSGIVING DAY 1990: Today is a good day – sentimental but good – it’s Jimmy’s birthday. It’s hard to believe he’s 25 years old. I can’t even reach him to wish him a happy birthday. He’s up in Maine with Tina. This Thanksgiving is especially good because we didn’t really celebrate it last year in London – also it’s my first real year of “freedom” since 1984.
Freedom to just relax and enjoy my family, friends and the Holiday without all the underlying STRESS that went along with Boston – what a difference a year makes! We are watching “Camelot” on TV. We first saw it in 1968, twice, because we liked it so much. This year it’s making me realise something. We’ve had many Camelots through the years – in our family life, in the church. We used to call East Hampton “Camelot” – to us it was. Boston’s early days were “Camelot”. Nashville was also one.
The thing I need to remember is there will be more “Camelots” in our lives. – Times that when you look back at them seem close to perfect. It’s sometimes hard for us to recognise those times as they’re happening – we need to get past them. “Camelot” times are what keeps us going. They are our dreams. If we keep our focus on God, keep our hearts pure, keep sin in abeyance – God will provide us some more “Camelot” times in Churches – but they are to be treasured because they are very rare. They fall through our fingers like sand and they should never be forgotten – because they are the hope for the future. We are excited about the future. We have healed from the past year. Jim and I have grown closer together, our family is healthy, we are close to God. Now we’re going to allow God to show us where and what He wants us to be doing – where our next Camelot will be.
FURTHER OBSERVATIONS – May 1991. A lot has happened in the past few months. We’ve witnessed Boston’s control in our lives – again. Jimmy and Tina were married on March 17th. It has always been Jimmy’s dream to have his father perform his wedding ceremony. About a month before the wedding, Jimmy was informed by his zone leader that Jim could not do the ceremony because he had been ‘marked’ in Boston. Jimmy said No, he must be wrong because we were marked in Nashville but not Boston. (We had in fact lots of our old friends calling us from Boston and some even coming to our services when they were down here). Jimmy talked to Al – Al said he would “check it out”.
We asked Al, “How can we host a rehearsal dinner for a bunch of people who Scripturally are not supposed to eat with us – if we’ve been marked?” Al would check on it. Several days later Al called. Boston “Honoured” Nashville’s marking when they marked us in Jan 1990 – therefore we were “marked” in Boston. Therefore Jim could not be in a “position of authority” in Boston by doing his son’s wedding. Boston would, however, call a four day “truce” from the marking for the wedding. Al said, “You don’t say anything bad about us – we won’t say anything bad about you”. Our first reaction was anger – anger that Boston was not even attempting to use the Scriptures in this matter. Jim voiced his concern. Anger also that Boston should be able to meddle in a family wedding – have so much control in an area where they shouldn’t – and we were very very hurt that our son Jimmy was allowing it to happen.
It seemed that he just wanted to get married no matter what the circumstances. Jimmy asked Al to do the ceremony. Then the real mind games began. The general public does not realise what goes on behind the scenes before any event in Boston. A week before the wedding, Jimmy and Tina were told by their Zone Leader, the wedding was going to be called off because they didn’t “feel good about where they were” – Jimmy had a “bad heart” and didn’t trust the leadership. Jimmy and Tina were subjected to a “breaking session”.
They tore Jimmy’s character apart and told Tina, “This is the man you’re going to marry? This is your spiritual leader?” Tina went to bed sick, 6 days before the wedding was scheduled. Jimmy confided in us he was desperate – could Jim do the wedding if necessary? Jim said yes. Al was flying back to Boston from Cairo just to deal with this situation Jimmy told us. (We later found out that Tom Brown’s zone was told that Al was flying back early just to make the announcement that Tom was taken out of the ministry). Five days before the wedding, Pat Gempel called – just to let me know they had no intention of stopping the wedding. “Why then,” I asked, “were Jimmy and Tina told that?” “They must have heard wrong.” she said. Tina later told me there was no way she had heard wrong. Rather than admit that some leaders had made a bad decision – Jimmy and Tina were blamed for “hearing wrong” – my stomach turns when I think of the deceit that the leaders in Boston practice – where are their consciences? I fear that the compromising, politics and game-playing has gone to a point of no return – and people’s minds are really being messed up.