Delivered!
~a newsletter for former Pentecostals/Charismatics everywhere~

http://ex-pentecostals.org
- Spring, 2002 -

Affiliated with " Ex-Apostolics: The Association of Former Pentecostals "
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ex-apostolics

 

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                                                 Volume 1,  Issue 1
Table of contents
         1. Welcome!
         2. Pentecostals in the news
                 A. God Save the General Superintendent! - Changes in the UPCI Leadership
                 B. "Mr. Gospel Music" Dies
                 C. Under the Influence
         3. Famous Pentecostals (Profile of Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft)
         4. Editorial
         5. Spotlight on "Ex-Apostolics"
                 A. Messages of the Month
         6.  Resources
         7.  A Final Word
         8.  A Prayer - A Prayer of St. Francis

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Welcome!

(February 15, 2002) Welcome to the premiere issue of Delivered!, a newsletter for former Pentecostals/Charismatics everywhere (Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal Church, Int., "Charismatic" churches, similar organizations and independent congregations); regardless of your current life or spiritual circumstance!  In our quarterly newsletter, we hope to keep you informed of events occurring with the world of Pentecost and the Charismatic Movement, share experiences of those spiritually (or otherwise) abused within these congregations, and give resources for those still struggling with doctrinal issues while emerging from such congregations.

Our newsletter does not seek to condemn Pentecostalism or the Charismatic movement in general, but to air the differences and complaints from the many who've left such congregations.  We as former Pentecostals believe that most who have left this faith have not done so from being "lured into a life of sin," but from having major disagreements in matters of doctrine. Others who have left site specific occurrences or abuses that drove them out of church doors.  While there is no lack of abuse within any Christian denomination, we believe that their are some that are particular to Pentecostalism; most of all having to do with their emphasis on spiritual gifts (and the spiritual superiority that sometimes goes with it), and in many sects the arrogant opinion of possessing the only "truths," or the true knowledge of salvation (the inference here is that everyone else - including other Christians - are excluded from eternal salvation).

In an attempt to disassociate ourselves from our past, we will not present ourselves with the same spiritual superiority that often comes from these churches, and will attempt to present all stories and opinions with balance and fairness.

It is not the opinion of the editor and our contributors that Pentecostalism is evil, or that the Pentecostal faith or any particular sect is an organized cult, but that there are many false ideas within this rapidly expanding faith, many which cause anguish, despair, and feelings of abuse with many who have aligned with this faith.

The intended audience for this newsletter is former Pentecostals, so a word of warning to any current ones that may be reading!  You may be offended, but hopefully you'll be challenged, and seek the advice of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians, ". . .work out your own salvation. . .!"(Phil. 2:12 - KJV)

God Bless!

The Association of Former Pentecostals
by an Anon Contributing Editor

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~~ Pentecostals in the News ~~
                              
each news item is compiled from several media sources

God Save the General Superintendent!
Changes in the UPCI Leadership
© 2002.The Association of Former Pentecostals.  All Rights Reserved.

On January 17, 2002, at Life Christian Church in St. Louis, Missouri, the Rev'd. Kenneth F. Haney was officially installed as the 6th General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International.  This ends the 24 year reign at the helm of this organization by longtime General Superintendent, the Rev'd. Nathaniel Urshan, who announced his retirement last year. This reflects the election results of the General Convention this faith held last October in Kentucky.  A new Director of Foreign Missions, and a new Assistant General Superintendent (West) were also elected for this organization which only counts its licensed ministers as members.  The church -- which forbids viewing of television programs or motion pictures -- has compiled a video presentation of the Installation service at its website: http://www.upci.org (RealPlayer required).

It is not clear whether Mr. Urshan retired for personal reasons, or because there was doubt he could master the new term-limit rule which went into effect this year.  Created in 1993, this rule states that an incumbent with eight years service as General Superintendent must receive a two-thirds majority victory in the nominating ballots in order to be eligible as a candidate for reelection to that office.

Mr. Haney was the Assistant General Superintendent (West) of the UPCI before being promoted to this office.  While serving in that capacity, he also served as pastor of Christian Life Center in Stockton, California.  CLC claims a membership of 10,000, and is building a new sanctuary that will seat 6,000, which the church claims will be the largest existing traditional church structure in the state of California.  The largest assembly within the United Pentecostal Church, this church demonstrates the capacity for Apostolic churches to join the ranks of the "mega-church" phenomenon in America. He has resigned his pastoral duties and moved to the organizational headquarters in Missouri to assume his new responsibilities.

Nathaniel Urshan, prior to his ascendency to the helm of the UPCI, was pastor for thirty years at Calvary Tabernacle in Indianapolis, Indiana.  He is the son of Pentecostal pioneer, pastor, and missionary Andrew Urshan.  A new UPCI theology graduate school is named in their honor for their work in that church.

The UPCI is the largest Oneness Pentecostal denomination in North America.  They claim 3,900 churches with an estimated US constituency of 600,000, 2.6 million worldwide.  The organization was created in 1945 by the merger of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ and the Pentecostal Church, Inc.  Besides Haney and Urshan, prior General Superintendents include Howard A. Goss, A. T.  Morgan, Oliver Fauss, and Stanley W. Chambers.
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"Mr. Gospel Music" Dies
©2002. The Association of Former Pentecostals  All Rights Reserved.

Less than two weeks ago, legendary gospel singer James Blackwood died at a Memphis hospital due to complications of a stroke.  A life-long Assemblies of God adherent, Mr. Blackwood was the last surviving vocalist among the founding members of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet.

Besides being in the gospel quartet that placed that genre of music on the map, James Blackwood was a nine time recipient of the Grammy Award, having been nominated thirty-one times.  The 82 year old singer is currently a nominee due to the latest project he was involved with that included other gospel performers and Ann-Margret.  He was presented with the Gospel Music Association's Dove Award for top male vocalist seven times throughout his career.

His gospel music career began in 1934 with the establishment of the family quartet, which didn't reach national popularity until twenty years later when they appeared on the CBS show, "The Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts."  He retired years later due to health problems, but resumed his musical career in The Masters V Quartet, and the James Blackwood Quartet.  He finally retired the name of "The Blackwood Brothers Quartet" in 2000 after the death of his nephew, and longtime "Blackwood" baritone, Cecil Blackwood.  James has been most recently involved with several of the popular Bill Gaither Homecoming Video projects.

He is survived by his wife, Mim, two children, and his grand and great-grandchildren.
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Under the Influence
©2002. The Association of Former Pentecostals  All Rights Reserved

Ms. Sophia Reitan recently sued Upper Room Tabernacle Ministries in Long Island for four million dollars relating to injuries she received while attending a women's meeting there.  Apparently, she went forward to be prayed for, and fell backwards, fracturing her arm.  She claims that she fell while under the influence of the Holy Spirit, but it was the church's responsibility to have someone behind her to catch her should she fall.  The ministry settled for $80,000.
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~poem~

Thief
© 2001. Karen Blanton. Used by permission*

Not only did you steal but
You left a devastative seed…
You, as courageous as you are,
Took the painless way out…
Leaving your spineless victim
Haunted with no escape.
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~~Famous Pentecostals~~

A Missourian in King George's Court
A Profile on John Ashcroft, US Attorney General
(Assemblies of God)
©2002. The Association of Former Pentecostals  All Rights Reserved.

In early February 2001, John Ashcroft was confirmed by the Senate to be US Attorney General; the first time any member of the Pentecostal faith has attained such a high governmental office in the United States. Though many current Pentecostals may enthusiastically liken this appointment to Pharaoh's appointment of Joseph, many non-conservatives in this country view this choice more cautiously.  However, due to the aftermath of the events of September 11, many of these fears by the liberal establishment have not come true.  Though it seemed Mr. Ashcroft would be a warrior for a more moral, Christian America, he's spending most of his time and energy fighting terrorism on the home front.

Mr. Ashcroft, a Republican, is no newbie to politics.  He was first elected as Missouri State Auditor in 1973 and served until 1975.  He held the office of Missouri Assistant AG from 1975-1976 until attaining the state's AG job that year, holding it until 1985.  In that year, he was elected Governor of Missouri and served until 1993.  After a brief recess, he was elected for one term as US Senator for the state of Missouri.  He lost reelection in 2000 to a dead man, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan (D), who died in a plane crash during the campaign.  The late Governor's wife now holds that seat in Congress.

He received his B.A. from Yale University, and a law degree from the University of Chicago.  He is the son of an Assemblies of God minister, married with three children and a grandchild.

The Assemblies of God is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the US.  They claim 12,000 affiliate churches and an estimated 2.5 million members in this country.
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EDITORIAL

The Tongues of Men
The Chandra Levy Connection
©2002. The Association of Former Pentecostals  All Rights Reserved.

In our world today, it seems impossible to not be inundated by news coverage of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath. Sometimes it seems that nothing else has ever happened in the whole course of human history. However, there was one particular issue that did dominate American media coverage prior to that horrific event, one whose coverage was so media consuming it could have only been eclipsed by the Election of November 2000, the Impeachment of Bill Clinton, or that perilous day when religious militants crashed planes into two great symbols of the American economy. This media event may not have been as meritorious as those historic events, but it certainly competed in coverage. I'm speaking of the disappearance of Chandra Levy, a former congressional aide to Congressman Gary Condit of California, and the scandal that soon followed.

We all know the story of this scandal; Mr. Condit had an extramarital affair with Ms. Levy while she worked as an intern in his office. She had since disappeared and is presumed dead, and many fingers have pointed to Mr. Condit accusing him of all sorts of things in order to protect his political career and marriage. As of this writing, no criminal charges have ever been filed against the Congressman, and he is currently seeking reelection in what promises to be an interesting race.

What does this have to do with our community? There is an interesting connection to this case that was mentioned in the news last summer. Apparently, a friend of the Levy's, a Pentecostal minister, the Rev'd O. C. Thomas concocted a story to comfort Chandra's mother. This story -- really a lie -- was that 7 years prior, his eighteen year old daughter also had an affair with the Congressman, and was threatened to not tell anyone. However, the tale couldn't and wouldn't stop there. As investigations continued into the case, Minister Thomas further "helped" the Levy's by reporting this "incident" to the FBI. After the story was leaked to the news, the minister quickly confessed; admitting the whole thing was a lie to help his friends.

This incident does highlight a frailty in the psyche of many Pentecostal preachers in general, and makes you wonder how little Judeo-Christian ethics and morals mean to many of them. In most Pentecostal/Charismatic ministries, the emphasis is placed on "saving souls," building churches, maintaining a strict discipline of outward conduct (in the Oneness sect), and possessing psychological and spiritual control over their congregation.  Not being a part of religious tradition and succession, higher morals such as maintaining truth and being compassionate aren't as important as they are to the ministries of older, more mainstream religious groups.  Bean-counting (of people and of money) seems to be the main interest of the day, and not the ministry of love, forgiveness and giving as Christ commanded us to undertake.

We don't have to look far to see what examples these new ministerial priorities have produced; we are painfully aware of the ministries of Pentecostal/Charismatic tele-evangelists Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton, and many others. One can look at the new Christian networks, the largest being run by Pentecostal-style ministers and see priorities of fund raising, station building, and pocket-lining in full force. Technology -- it seems -- has only improved upon the "taking of offering" at the local Pentecostal church.

So, considering his ministerial company, it probably wasn't an ethical stretch for Mr.Thomas to tell a little, harmless, white lie.  Hopefully, he's learned that there is more to Christian morality than the illicit transgressions Pentecostal preachers love to bang the pulpit on.  If he hasn't, here's a lesson (and this one's in the Ten Commandments): Do not bear false witness!
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SPOTLIGHT ON. . . 
                                           
Ex-Apostolics!
                                          Ex-Apostolics, The Association of Former Pentecostals
 


 

As mentioned earlier, this newsletter is affiliated with an e-mail discussion group for former Apostolic Pentecostals (see link above).  Of course, this newsletter is aimed at ALL former Pentecostals, so as our mailing list grows, we hope to have greater representation of the other "P" under this "spotlight."  This section in this issue will highlight issues concerning this sector of the faith, and will spotlight the e-mail group,  Ex-Apostolics, The Association of Former Pentecostals
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                                     ~Messages of the Month~

Raw-hide*
One Former Apostolic's Horrific "Worship" Experience
~"Some men hit their wives or children with these 'jawbones'"~

"Ex-Apostolics" is a very busy e-mail discussion group, mostly of people describing their abusive Pentecostal experiences and relationships.  It's very therapeutic -- getting it all out -- and occasionally one member will write of an experience that just blows the rest of us away, and makes us feel kind of like the man-with-no-shoes who met the man-with-no-feet.  One such experience put most of the rest of ours in perspective; showing just how far and how violent the "emotional" worship services can go in Pentecostal services.  Without further ado, I give you "G's experience" that she modestly entitled "Just some odds and ends:" ("G" has requested to remain anonymous for the purpose of this newsletter.)

"Date:  Sun Jan 6, 2002  1:14 PM
Subject:  Just some odds and ends

Been reading the posts.  Brings up so many questions and just "stuff."  Like one post that talked about the actions of those people trying to pray you through to the Holy Ghost.  For several years I attended an Apostolic church that was very hands on. Felt they owed it to God to bring as many souls to the altar to get them filled up.  It was almost "magical" watching these people lay hands on sinners.

I, too, remember  some bizarre things that happened in that church.  For example: a visiting minister (one very well known to us) and the pastor brought a bag of large rawhide dog bones to church. During the first half of what was to be a mini-sermon, we found out that God "wanted" these large dogbones to become "the jaw bone of the ass" so that we might slay the Philistines in our lives. What this meant was that each of us would be required to take a turn handling the "jawbone" and with it we would slay our "Philistines"(demons in our lives). The men went first (women and men were separated since men had the preeminence in all church activities). These men started shouting, yelling, dancing, whacking the walls so hard as to leave cracks and holes in them. These men ran outside the church crying and yelling all the way down the road and back around the church -- chasing out the demons. Some men hit their wives or children with these "jawbones" (a.k.a. rawhide dog bones). The bones got passed to the women who were for the most part weeping and wailing and speaking in tongues or dancing to the ecstatic music supplied by the Pastor's daughter on the piano. When the women got the bones, the men continued the weeping and wailing and dancing and the women went around clobbering things and people with the bones. These actions by both the men and women were considered "spiritual warfare." Casting out demons was the venue of the evening. I refused to take part and totally shut down emotionally. I was so horrified that I just couldn't move or think --  pure dissociation. I was one of three that night that did not participate in the "killing of the Philistines." I was reprimanded by the pastor as being too proud and rebellious and was forced to the altar to be prayed over for my sin.

Well, anyway, these are just a few odds and ends from the memory file coming back to life. Unlike most of you here, I did not walk away.  I was disfellowshipped when my pastor had a "revelation" from God during his prayer time. On that day I thought my world and life was over.
Today, I realize God did me a favor. Sometimes I want to go back to UPC, but for my own mental health's sake I will not.  Still, I have to admit that there were times in church when the world seemed far away and I was safe in the arms of Jesus, secure in my knowledge of him and his love for me. Reality is a far, far cry from that delusion, so for me it is no wonder that every once in a while I feel a little tug to go back.  G."
(Edited for form, grammar and punctuation only. Some emphasis added by editor)

When G wrote this to us, we simply couldn't believe it, but knew it to be true.  I've heard of similar cases before, one in which a man sued a local Assemblies of God minister (and that particular church) for medical damages after he had sustained several bone fractures after he had been surrounded by several "brethren" in the church and they attempted to "cast out demons" from him.  The fractures weren't from anything the victim was doing, but what was being done by those seeking to "set him free."

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Ministered to by Whom?*
A Former Apostolic is Shown God's Love by an Unlikely Person
~"He told me he was Islamic and that he was a priest."~

Another e-mail I wish to share with you is one of enlightenment, an experience of an individual so emotionally abused by her local church leadership that she couldn't even consider attending church or seeking God at all.  To her, God was mean, jealous, and abusive, and this was shown to her by actions of her pastor, her local church and her husband at the time.  That is . . . until she met someone of an entirely different faith, who offered her a perspective of God she had forgotten about. . . a God of Love.  I nearly cried as I read this message:

"Date:  Tue Jan 1, 2002  6:18 PM
Subject:  Re: [Ex-Apostolics] Want to share something

All:

I just had the most wonderful conversation with an Islamic priest. . .  I was taking my son to his friends to spend the night, as I was leaving I noticed the man and his daughter  -- who live up stairs -- were cleaning their car. The daughter wears the thing wrapped around her head, but wears regular clothes underneath. I asked my son if he knew what religion they were.  He didn't know.  I thought while driving that one day I was going to ask him what religion he was in and if he could tell me about it. When I came back, he was still outside. I introduced myself to him because I had never done so before, although I had opportunities.  Then asked him what was his religion.  He told me he was Islamic and that he was a priest. I told him that I was on a spiritual quest and was open to learning about the different religions of the world and asked if he would tell me about his. We talked for 45 minutes and tears welled up in my eyes a few times. He started telling me about how loving God was and that he loves all of us. That God wants a relationship with us in our heart. God wants us to be conscious of him and treat our neighbors with love. If I forgive someone, God will forgive me. He talked about humanity. He asked me why a few months ago I scared car thieves away from stealing his son's car? I told him "because I cared. I didn't want someone to take from someone else."  He said that "it wasn't my business; why did I do it?"  I said, "because I cared."  He asked "why?"  I said, "because I did."  He said , "That is humanity!"

That was a big step for me to ask someone of another religion what they believed. Although I am sure his beliefs go deeper than what he revealed to me in 45 minutes, what I found is that his basic beliefs about God are not different from mine.  It was wonderful. God is much bigger and broader than we imagine. We try to put Him in this box or that box . . . that Islamic priest loves God and is loving to his neighbor. Anyway, just wanted to share with you what God has shared with me.
Karen"
(Edited for form, grammar and punctuation only.)

In a time of Muslim extremism, Karen was witnessed to about God's love through a mainstream, moderate Muslim cleric.  He does work in mysterious ways!

If you are a former Apostolic, or are simply interested in our discussion, please consider joining us!  Please visit our website and learn more how you can be a part of our community.  Check out  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ex-apostolics

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Do you know of websites or discussion groups formed by former constituents of other Pentecostal sects or denominations?  Please drop us a line using the guidelines at the bottom of this letter.
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Resources**

for all religions and spiritual abuse
- Rick Ross: Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist
- Analyyses of Cults and Religions by Watchman Fellowship
- ExCharisma (an e-mail discussion group)

for former Oneness Pentecostals
- Ex-Apostolics, The Association of Former Pentecostals (an e-mail discussion group)
- Spiiritual Abuse in Bible Based Churches
- Yahoo! Groups : Christian-Koinonia (an e-mail discussion group)
- Yahoo! Groups : ex-UPCIsupport (an e-mail discussion group)
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                                                  ~A Final Thought~
Thanks for joining us for our first newsletter; I sincerely hope you enjoyed it.  I depend on your opinions for the future of this newsletter, so please read the instructions below, and let me have it!  Some comments may be featured later in a section called, "Letters to the Editor."

We plan for our next issue to be out May 15, so if you want to submit something, please keep that in mind.  In the next issue, we will explore stories coming from around the world of Pentecostal/Charismatic growth, including the strange Apostolic explosion in third world countries, plus we will delve into the many different "gifts" presenting themselves in churches today. These and other stories from around the world of Pentecost will be highlighted.

If you have personal experiences from your past in a Pentecostal or Charismatic church, you are welcome to share them with us: they may be presented in future edition of this newsletter.  Tell us of the trials you went through, and how you overcame!

If you enjoyed our newletter, please consider sharing it with others!  Forward it to your friends of a similar background, or share it with your e-mail or internet communities.

Thanks again, and God Bless

The Association of Former Pentecostals
Editor
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                                            ~Prayer~

A Prayer of St. Francis
submitted by Jason C.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not seek so much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love. 

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
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About Delivered!
Delivered! is a FREE quarterly newsletter for former Pentecostals/Charismatics everwhere, distributed by e-mail only.  It is affiliated with an e-mail group called "Ex-Apostolics: The Association of Former Pentecostals."  The next publication date is August 15, 2002.  To subscribe to Delivered! or to join Ex-Apostolics, please use the links below.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/delivered
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ex-apostolics
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Comments? Submissions?
Do you have a news story, poem, essay, critical review, song lyrics, short short story, original prayer, factoid or any other literary item that you wish to share with the subscribers of this newsletter?  All contributions from former Pentecostals are welcome for consideration!  There are a few rules and guidelines for submission:

1) all submissions must be of the interest of former Pentecostals,
2) submissions must be less than 400 words, and
3) must be submitted at least 2 weeks before the planned publication date.

All submissions will be considered volunteered; the only "payment" will be the act of being published, and sharing your work with like-minded individuals.  All writers will retain ownership of their work, and that work will be considered used by permission for the purposes of this newsletter, if submitted.  Some submissions may be edited for form, grammar, and punctuation prior to publication, and not necessarily with the author's prior knowledge or approval.  Anonymous submissions are acceptable as long as the editor is aware of your identity.

All submissions must be submitted by e-mail (text documents only, no files) to: contact@ex-pentecostals.org.  Write NEWSLETTER SUBMISSION in the title space.

All other submissions (Letters to the Editor, complaints, compliments, other comments) must be sent to the same e-mail address with: COMMENTS in the title space.  The editor reserves the right to publish any comments in future issues of this newsletter ~Anon Editor
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*contributions and experiences by former Pentecostals do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editor of this newsletter.
**contents of linked websites may contain material that does not coincide with the opinion of this newsletter or it's editor.  Browse at your own risk.  We are not responsible for broken or misdirected links.

©2001-2002. The Association of Former Pentecostals All rights reserved.  All stories, opinions, and other text in this newsletter, Delivered!, is the personal copyrighted property of The Association of Former Pentecostals, unless otherwise noted. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced by any means without the expressed permission of the author(s).  To request permission for reproducing materials contained within this newsletter, please e-mail The Association of Former Pentecostals at contact@ex-pentecostals.org, or contact@ex-pentecostals.org for more information.
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