Part Four: The Continuing Saga
Preface to Part Four
Since completing the first edition of this book events have not stood still. In the interim much has happened that is noteworthy for the purpose of giving as complete a picture of the Blitz as possible. Not only have further abuses been perpetrated, but some positive reforms have at last been made as well.
Having moved to California in January 1980,52 Blitz founder Jim McCotter quickly moved back to the Mid-West, settling in Norman, Okla., in 1981, where he effectively replaced the local leadership in place at the time, naming himself the new “elder.” This lasted only about two years before McCotter and several of his hand-picked lieutenants relocated to the Washington, D.C., area in 1983 - though Jim continued to call himself “the elder of Norman,” absent though he was. Once there they proceeded to create a virtual denominational structure under the name Great Commission Inc. The specifically church functions were put under the name Great Commission International. In 1989 this would be changed to Great Commission Association of Churches, with a subsidiary organization called Great Commission Ministries, which focuses on college and university campuses. Eventually, many other subsidiaries (cynics might call them “front organizations”) were founded, among them Great Commission Students, Great Commission Academy, GCI Publications, Great Commission Videos (later changed to Great Commission Audio/Video), Americans for Biblical Government (a political action group), The Best Deal, Inc., Alpha Capital Corporation (an investment, marketing, and consulting company), Autumn Records, Great Commission Records (later Great Commission Records & Tapes), Bestsellers Bookstore, and Stone Oak Recordings.
Along with these organizations was a series of publications. Today's Student ceased publication in 1980, but it was followed in 1982 by a magazine called The Cause. Initially published from Norman, Okla., while McCotter and company were in residence there, editorial offices moved to Maryland with McCotter's own move thence. The Cause (whose name was changed to The Christian Cause in 1986) ceased publication at the end of 1988. Upon its demise, editorial energies were devoted to another magazine begun a few months previously, Potential, which was geared more towards evangelism than the former was. Not completely willing to let the idea of a national newspaper die, Jim McCotter pushed the idea with a new publication. Initially called America Today, it was changed to U.S. Press and sported a USA Today-like masthead.53 This endeavor, like so many others into which much energy and money had been poured, lasted only about a year, beginning in 1984 and ending in 1985, being replaced by two new publications, Today's American (which seems to have been stillborn) and the afore-mentioned Potential.
Important reforms in the teaching and practice of Great Commission churches were introduced and codified in the early 1990s (see below), though many former members have felt that they have not gone far enough. Further, many, if not most, of the past abuses of the 1970s and 1980s have still not been properly rectified or atoned for. During a meeting in 1991 between former Blitz leaders Paul Martin, Bill Taylor, Rick Harvey, and me with then-current leaders Dave Bovenmyer, John Hopler, Tom Schroeder, and Mike Keator, the latter admitted that Jim McCotter had been guilty of teaching biblical error as well as perpetrating behavioral abuses. However, the GCAC leadership has never made this admission public.
A Tale of Three Sisters
In February 1979 the elders of the Solid Rock Fellowship felt it necessary to excommunicate a young woman named Diane Pavlov. The specifics of her offense are still unclear to me, however, the charge against her was the by now familiar one of faction. According to Bill Hulligan, even Diane didn't know the specifics of which she was being accused. In his words, “She has not had further word from the Rock concerning their action. Thus she has no exact and written idea of what the charges against her are; the 'elders' have withheld the charges against her, in much the same way they withheld the charges against me. The rumor mill has not been very helpful. Mary Zuber attended one of the meetings where Diane's excommunication was announced; the 'elders' gave the charge as 'faction,' and hinted that there were other issues; which apparently they did not explicitly talk to Diane about. It is curious that the Rock would be silent about other crimes; for example in [Pete's] case, they hung out every piece of dirty laundry they could find. The Rock's reluctance to make these matters known has caused me to infer that they are even less apt than the charges against [Pete]” (from a letter dated March 3, 1979).
Bill then related a sequence of events regarding how he first became aware of Diane's excommunication and subsequent incidents. He wrote that the first he knew of the SRF's disciplinary action against Diane was when he picked up his wife, Linda, about 11:45 p.m. February 6, after he got off work. He says, “The information at this time was sketchy.”
The next morning at about 9:00 a.m. Bill received a phone call from Joyce Bulford (formerly Zambon; see page 65f.), who filled in several of the details. She also told Bill that Diane wanted to speak to him. Joyce gave Bill the address where Diane could be reached, and the time she would be available. In Bill's March 3 letter he added that Joyce learned of Diane's desire to speak with him from Mary Zuber, sister of SRF elder Jim Zuber.
In response to her request, Bill went to Diane's temporary residence (right across the street from the home of an SRF leader and his wife), and they decided to talk while they ate lunch at the nearby International House of Pancakes. Ironically, on their way to the IHOP they passed several members of the SRF, including Tom Schroeder, and when they got to the restaurant, their waitress was another member. Bill wrote, “I have driven through the campus often in the past year, and never seen Tom; all these circumstances point to the idea that the Lord did not want our conference kept secret from the Rock.”
In the aftermath of Diane's excommunication on the unelaborated charge of faction, two other girls, Mary Zuber and Anne Aldstadt, decided they could not “honor” that action. For this, and because they maintained communication with her and with Bill Hulligan, they too were excommunicated by the SRF.
Prior to this action Mary admitted to her brother, Jim, and his wife, Rose, that she had talked with Diane after she had been excommunicated. Jim thereupon told Mary that he would follow the procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 with regard to her. This conversation took place on Wednesday, February 7. Then on Friday, the 9th, Mary delivered a letter of resignation from the church to Jim, along with another copy to John Hopler. (See next page. The note she received from the elders follows her letter. Anne likewise wrote and delivered a letter of resignation to the elders.)
Anne and Mary were officially disfellowshipped from the church on Friday, February 9, though only Anne got her formal letter of excommunication on that day. Mary had returned to her parents' home, and her father, a relatively new believer, was acting, according to Bill Hulligan, as “a sort of deterrent.”
The next morning the elders called Mary and tried to read her the letter of excommunication. She refused to hear it, though, preferring a face to face meeting instead. So that night Mary met with her brother, Jim Zuber, and Tom Short. She brought her father along also as a witness. Tom told Mary she was wrong to bring her dad as a witness. The elders presented Mary with the letter of excommunication, telling her to look at each of the signatures affixed to it (three pages in all). This was in an apparent attempt to impress on Mary the “gravity” of her “sin” by pointing out that 132 members of the church concurred in the belief that she must be expelled from the church.
Mr. Zuber said that since Mary had already withdrawn from the Solid Rock Fellowship, the action against her had “no merit” (Bill Hulligan's account). In reply, Tom Short said that since there is no such thing as church membership (in the view of the Blitz leaders) it makes no difference whether Mary has or has not “resigned” from the church. She can't escape her “sin” so easily. Finally, as Bill Hulligan recounted it, Mr. Zuber gave his opinion that “the Rock is trying to split a family.” Jim Zuber and Tom Short replied by reminding him of Jesus' words that he came to bring a sword.54
Following these events, Bill Hulligan advised the three girls, in his words, “to agree to talk with the 'elders' provided that neutral witnesses can be present. Such witnesses not only protect against false witness, but also help maintain a healthier psychological atmosphere.”Bill also added, “The 'elders' have also been trying to meet with Joyce [Bulford] by phone; but she has absolutely refused to answer their questions without a neutral witness. The 'elders' apparently think that Joyce factioned Mary Zuber; however, Mary says she contacted Joyce, not vice versa.”
February 9, 1979
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
This is to inform you of my departure from the church of Solid Rock Fellowship. By my own personal convictions from our Lord Jesus, I have decided to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and be linked to other believers. This action has taken place due to my disagreements with the practices of the church and climaxed with the excommunication of Diane Pavloff [sic]
Only in the presence of two or more witnesses of my choice will I have any further communication with any of the elders; namely, Tom Schrader [sic], Terry Bartley, or Tom Short.
Your Sister in Christ,
Mary J. Zuber
February 9, 1979
We, your brothers and sisters, have been informed of your refusal to reject Diane Pavlov for being factious. This clearly violates Titus 3:10-11 where we are instructed to reject a factious man. We therefor urge you to repent of this sin.
If you refuse to listen to us in this matter we must relate to you as a Gentile and tax-gatherer Matt 18:15-17) [sic].
Sincerely in Christ,
[Signed by 132 members of the Solid Rock Fellowship who were present when this action was taken]
This whole incident was one more sad chapter in a long story of
ecclesiastic abuse perpetrated by Blitz leaders who really didn't understand
the Scriptures they were using to “purify” their church.
Today's Student: The Rest of the Story
Since I was already out of the Blitz when the following events took place, I am going to rely on other men to tell this story. Mike Royal and E. Ray Moore, Jr., are both graduates of Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Ind., with Master of Divinity degrees. While at Grace they and others started an independent Christian assembly which they served as elders.
In May and September 1985, Mike and Ray, along with several other
former Blitz leaders, held weekend conferences for former members of the movement
to help answer questions and heal wounds. Mike and Ray were also among the speakers
at these conferences. What follows are excerpts from their talks.
I'd like to start with a couple of Scriptures. They're found in the book of Proverbs, which we were encouraged to read on a regular basis in the group, and I still do that. In Prov. 10:9 it says, “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.”
Prov. 11:11: “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.”
Verse 3: “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the falseness of the treacherous will destroy them.”
Prov. 20:10: “Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the Lord.”
And verse 23 of that chapter: “Differing weights are an abomination to the Lord, and a false scale [a balance of deceit] is not good.”
The Jewish merchants apparently had a way, as they traded and did business in the marketplace, of having two sets of scales. I guess one they used with their friends, or people who were wise to their ways, and another set that was of a different weight whereby they could sell their goods and by using a lesser weight sell less of their goods for the same price. God says those things are an abomination to him.
When I left California [and the Blitz movement] in 1980 these were some of the verses I brought to Jim McCotter's attention - that he was a man who used different weights, and for that reason I did not consider him to be a man of integrity, and that therefore he was not a man above reproach, and that therefore he had no right to be a shepherd or an elder, and certainly no longer to be mine.
You really had to knock me between the eyes to finally wake up and see what Jim was doing. There had been plenty of opportunity, but I just refused to see it, and refused to believe it, but finally he got to the point where he wanted to start interpreting the English language for me. I told him it really wasn't necessary for him to do that - I'd spoken it for well over 30 years, and I was quite capable of understanding what he said. And you know, it's an amazing thing to me, because we've all held Jim up as being one of the great communicators, that he is so famous for being able to speak in all situations, and being so relevant, and so dynamic, and bringing these tremendous messages of God. I have never in my lifetime encountered another person I had to spend more time with to understand what he said, and to go back for clarification hours and hours and hours worth, and Jim's also famous for that, that you do not know what he said. I want to give you an example of that.
In California, one day we had lunch, the Today's Student staff - the men and the elders (all the elders there were on the staff - I had the unique situation of being just one of the saints [i.e., regular church members] there, but all the elders worked for me!). But anyway, we were having lunch out in the park - Craig Coria, and Paul Rath, and Brian Catalano, and Jim, and Lynn Allen, Ed Hofmeister, myself, and maybe one or two others, I'm not sure. Brian Catalano had gotten into Amway, and had recruited me into it, and he was trying to recruit a couple more people. And Jim proceeded to take about thirty minutes to explain to us that he did not want anyone on the Today's Student staff recruiting people into these direct sales organizations, that if that were to happen we would end up missing our goal and purpose and our mission in California. We were there to put out the paper and he didn't want us being sidetracked in these sales organizations - and he proceeded to do this for thirty minutes. There were at least seven or eight of us sitting there listening to this. Well, when he got through we thought we understood what he said.
Brian made the mistake of asking Jim why Jim had recruited him into Petrolon/Slick 50 last week. Now I've shared this story with some of y'all since I've been here. Those of you who've not heard it, I want to see if you can figure out how Jim gets out of this one. I'd like to see… do you have any ideas what he might have done? [Unintelligible response from the audience] He didn't use that cliché this time. Any other good thoughts? I don't think it'll come to your mind, I really don't. You would never think of this one. But I want to talk to you afterwards if it does. Well, it's very simple. Because getting into Slick 50 involves signing contracts, Jim couldn't deny that he'd done that, because there was a document that could prove that. So Jim proceeded then for the next thirty minutes to say, “Now, wait a minute. You did not get the idea that I meant you shouldn't sign people up into these sales organizations, did you?” Yeah. And you know something? Eight of us dummies sat there and listened to him go for thirty minutes on the fact that he had not said for the previous thirty minutes what he just said. [Laughter in the audience] And I look back on that and I say, “That's incredible - that couldn't have happened.” But it did. And that's Jim McCotter. He is an excellent communicator. He can take thirty minutes and tell you something, and turn around and the very next thirty minutes tell you he didn't say that, and you'll believe him both times. [Laughter in the audience]
I knew Jim well (I thought I knew him well), and I got involved in the movement back in 1976 right after I graduated from seminary. I'd even been warned by some (I talked with one very prominent theologian in the country who encouraged me to stay away from the whole thing), but I thought, y'know, they were all wet, and Jim had said they were all wet. I'd heard Jim speak for at least two or three hours at that point, and I knew everything. So I ignored all that. And I was very enthusiastic, and Jim really courted my friendship - he knew that I'd come into some money through inheritance - and we kind of hit it off pretty well (I like to think that he kind of liked me individually somewhat), so I moved out to Ames, Ia., and because I'd been a co-elder with Ray Moore at Winona Lake, Ind., I was invited to all the elders meetings out there, and sat in on many different things. I was basically invited to sit in on anything I wanted to, which for the summer I did.
I was really enthralled with Jim. As a matter of fact, June 10, 1980, was Helen's and my wedding anniversary (we'd been in the group for about four years at that point) and we invited the McCotters to go out to our anniversary dinner, and I basically proceeded to tell Jim how wonderful he was, how much he'd changed our lives, and helped us, and blah, blah, blah. And little did I know that within probably four or five weeks of that we'd be out of the group.
Anyway, I did have the opportunity to observe Jim in many different situations. When we first moved to Ames we lived in his house for six weeks, and by virtue of being the editor of Today's Student I was in touch with a lot of what was going on around the nation in the movement. I went to all of the elders conferences, even though I was not an elder, and I knew the men around the country - a lot of times I was talking to them on a weekly basis. Even some of the men who were recognized as elders in Ames (Paul Rath, and Craig Coria, some of these guys who were recognized as elders later on) when we went to some of the elders conferences, I introduced them to some of the other elders from around the nation - they didn't even know who some of these people were. So I got to see and hear a lot of different things.
One of the reasons I was never selected as an elder myself, it was Bill Gothard's fault. I had been to the Gothard seminar way back in '72, and he was speaking in some city west of Ames somewhere, and I thought I'd go back and review, listen to what he was saying again. I invited Jim to go with me (I thought it would be some good material for Jim to hear), so Monday night we got in the car and drove to this place (I think it was two or three hours away), and listened to the Gothard video presentation, and drove back to Ames. Tuesday afternoon I called Jim and said, “Are you going back with me tonight?” And he said no, he wasn't going. And he questioned me about where things were with Today's Student. I said, “Everything's okay. I've worked ahead, and we've got everything okay there.” So I took off without him. Wednesday night as I was getting ready to leave, Mike Stohlmeyer called me and said the elders were getting together and wanted me to come over. There they proceeded to tell me that they had thought about recognizing me as an elder, but that I'd gone to the Bill Gothard seminar, so I didn't qualify.55
I really didn't know whether they were being serious or not, so I said, “Well, gosh, maybe Jim can't be one either. He went with me Monday night.” [Laughter in audience]
Now, how does Jim get out of this one? [Laughter] He told me that he didn't want to go, and that the reason that I wasn't really qualified to be an elder was that I could not sense in his spirit that he didn't want to go [laughter], and that if I were really qualified I would have been able to sense that [laughter], and because I couldn't sense that it proved that I did not have the maturity to be an elder yet. And guess what? Like a dummy I accepted it and walked out. And that was okay. (My wife was pretty irate.)
Well, I've been told that Jim hasn't given the full story on what happened with Today's Student, and that there are still some questions remaining as to what happened with that little thing. I feel a little bit like we've all been Paul Harvey here, hearing the rest of the story for the last couple of days, and I want to give a little bit of the rest of it here.
One of the things that happened was while I was traveling with Jim in the summer of '79, and we were staying at Emmaus Bible School in Oak Park, Illinois.56 We were staying in the dormitories there (it was cheap - we may not have paid anything, I'm not sure, but anyway, we were staying there). We'd been out trying to sell the paper to various firms and trying to get them to advertise in it. One day when we got back we were sitting out on the back porch - it was as hot as the dickens that day - and Jim was swinging in the swing, and I was sitting there, and Jim just casually said, “You know, I think we need to get Dave Munday off the staff.”
And I about fell out of my chair, and I said, “What do you mean?”
And he said, “Well, Dave's just asking too many questions, and he's just, you know, got some problems, and I think it's time for him to go ahead and get off the staff.”
And I said, “Good grief, Jim, Dave was editor of the paper before I was editor of it. He's frankly one of the best editors we've got. And he's very helpful, very resourceful. I can't believe we're gonna do this.”
Jim said, “Yeah. Well, you know, I think he's out-served his purpose, and he needs to get off the staff. You know, the New Jersey team is leaving in a couple of weeks. We'll put him on the New Jersey team, and tell him he can be the East Coast representative for the paper. That way we can get him out of Ames and off the staff altogether.”
I couldn't believe it.
The next morning I was due to drive back to Ames to pick up my family. I knew what was going to happen to Dave, and basically I just decided to go ahead and get out of town knowing that Dave would probably be gone by the time we got back from South Carolina. And, sure enough, when I did get back in two weeks Dave was gone. [Dave's wife] Pearl was still there, and she came over to say goodbye. There was a brother who was going to drive her out in their car to New Jersey. She was about 8½ months pregnant, and had to lie on a mattress all the way to New Jersey.
At any rate, they went out there, and we moved on with the paper, and about a month later we had some financial difficulties, and I told Jim that we were running out of funds. He suggested that we take Dave off the staff and save some money that way. We had promised Dave a certain amount of money to relocate to New Jersey and continue to serve on the staff, and one thing and another, and I just called him up and said, “Well, Dave, we've got some financial problems, and we thought maybe you could go ahead and get a job and just kind of voluntarily work for the paper at this point. All we need is a couple articles a month” - something like that.
And Dave was put off the staff. That would have been in the fall of '79. I saw Dave two years later in the fall of '81 down in Charleston. He weighed about 120 pounds, and his health was broken, and his marriage was having problems, and all of that came from the psychological impact of what we did to him. Well, Jim never looked back.
Anyway, that fall we decided to change the format of the paper, and I talked Jim into the idea of us moving to California. Basically, we decided we wanted to go for national advertising, try and get accounts like Coca-Cola and stuff like that, and we found out that people like that would not even be interested in our publication unless we had a circulation of a half million. And we were also really under the gun in Ames with the Ames Tribune, and the Des Moines Register, and the ISU Daily investigating all of what was going on, and everybody was having to lie every day to try and stay out of trouble. Well, moving to California would have accomplished… All the trends seem to start out there with the college kids and everything - we thought that would help us, plus we could get rid of a couple hundred thousand papers out there with all the campuses they had, and one thing and another. So we decided to move out that way, and we just… one week we shut down the paper, and we didn't consult with anybody, we just did it. We locked the doors and hoped that none of the reporters [from other papers] would come back and try and find out what was going on. We laid our plans to move to California, and Paul Rath and I flew out there and looked around for housing, etc. And finally Jim joined us, and we decided on San Clemente 'cause it was close to the ocean, and Jim wanted to be by the ocean, and it was a nice place. No college campuses within 50-60 miles of it, but that didn't matter. And totally out of the way for what we wanted to do out there. I mean, it was crazy.
At any rate, we proceeded to change the paper from a 4-page to a 24-page, and we were going to print it full color, and we were going to be a general purpose paper, and we were going to reduce the gospel to a half of one of those 24 pages, and stuff like that, to try and attract those national advertisers. We didn't think they'd be real interested in our 4-page Today's Student with the testimonies on the back page, and apologetics inside, and that sort of thing. So we changed everything. We didn't really consult with anybody on that, we just did that. We decided that'd be the thing to do. And it was a gamble. We felt like if we could get the big advertisers to come in that maybe slowly we could get more of the gospel back in the paper, that we could relieve the works [i.e., the various Blitz churches] of having to support the paper, and that we could give it to y'all free. I think some of y'all probably remember some of those things.
On January the first  we were supposed to meet with the elders up in Colorado Springs, where Jim was on vacation (everybody else could leave and fly out there), and there we were going to consult with the elders and get their advice about all those changes we had already planned, and talk with them about everything. So I got in there, and I told Jim, I said, “Before we get with any of the elders, I've got something I really need to talk to you about.”
And he said, “Well, we're getting together in a couple of hours, but I've got to run out to the airport and pick up a couple more guys flying in. Come on and ride out there with me, and we'll talk in the car.”
So we rode out there. We got to the airport and stopped in front of it, and Jim and I were talking. I said, “Jim, y'know, I've really got some concerns about where we're at at this point.” And I said, “From the calculations I've done, it's going to take $50,000 to put out the paper each month. The things that concern me are, number one, we don't really know anything about national advertising and how to procure it. We don't really know anything about putting out newspapers. We don't really know anything about running national businesses.” And I said, “Those are just three of my concerns.” [Laughter in audience]
And Jim said, “Well, is the thing that's really bothering you the money?”
I said, “Yeah. We're going to go through a quarter of a million dollars here in five months.” And I said, “Y'know, I'm concerned that money is going to be wasted and could be used for a lot of other more useful activities.”
And he said, “Well, if it's the money you're worried about, I don't want you to worry about it at all. I will take 100% of the responsibility for the funds for the paper, and all you need to do is to put out the paper.”
I said, “Well, okay. Let me get this straight. I don't have to worry about the money for this paper at all. You're going to do all of that and all I have to do is put out the paper?”
He said, “Right.”
I said, “Okay. I'll put out the paper.”
Then I asked him, “What do I say if the elders at the conference want to know where the funds are coming from for this paper?”
Jim said, “Well, you just tell them that the funds have been taken care of - they don't need to worry about that.”
And that sounded good, and I said, “Fine.” I thought they would ask some questions anyway, so I didn't worry about it.
Well, we got into the meeting and, sure enough, somebody raised the question, and asked, “How much is this going to cost?”
And I said, “$50,000 a throw.”
“Well, where are you going to get that kind of money?” (I think the elders were real worried about where they were going to get it.)
I said, “Well, I've been told that we don't have to worry about that. The money's been taken care of, and the funds will be provided when we need it.” And for some reason that satisfied them. So we went on and talked about other things.
The next day someone raised the question again, and said, “Tell me again. How much is this gonna cost?”
And I said, “$50,000 a paper.”
“Well, where are you gonna get that money from?”
And I said, “Well, I have it on good authority that that's been taken care of, that the funds will be provided when we need it, and we don't need, y'know we're not supposed to ask anything more about this,” or whatever.
I found out later from Steve Schonberg (just back in November , as a matter of fact) that Jim had me answer those questions as opposed to him because, in Steve's mind, I was gonna provide the funds for the paper. I didn't realize that I was being used in that way at that time.
Anyway, the elders didn't ask a lot more questions on that, and the subject seemed to pass. We went back and put out the paper and spent all this money. I had basically paid for the staff to move to California, and I paid for the first January edition of the paper, and I'd made other contributions to the paper. Not necessarily sacrificially - my mother has a trust fund, and I got the money out of her account. I know a lot of y'all gave sacrificially, I don't want to give that impression.
One thing that came up was that around March of 1980 I got a call from a brother who had been in Ames and was on the Florida team, Elmer Hanson (some of y'all may know Elmer and Barb). Elmer called me and said, “Y'know, a while back I told Jim that my father had put some money in a trust account for me.” (I think he said it was $50,000.) He added that he had told Jim he had money available to use - he wanted to use it for the Lord's work. He said that Jim had approached him later and wanted him to give that $50,000 for one of the monthly editions of the paper, but he said that his father was not a Christian, was very opposed to him being in the McCotter group, and that his father had told him not to touch that money. He was calling me and asking, “What do you think I ought to do?”
I said, “Well, Elmer, here's one piece of information that I think may help. Do you realize that Jim's father is fairly wealthy - he owns a lot of real estate in Colorado Springs - and Jim's told me that he's gonna inherit a lot of money himself some day when his father dies. But Jim's told me also that his father doesn't agree with what he's doing, and so he's decided he is not gonna touch any of those funds until after his father dies.” And I said, “Y'know, just if we use Jim's example here, I would suggest to you not to bother those funds if your father doesn't want you to bother them, because you could really hurt your testimony with your father. This is God's paper, anyway. If he wants this thing to continue, you don't have to supply the funds - the funds will come in.”
So it turns out that Elmer didn't give that money. I think he gave $5,000 out of the $50,000. And I told Jim about it later, and Jim kind of laughed and said, “I go out and raise it, and you give it back to 'em.”
The San Clemente team, 1980.
And I said, “Well, Jim, y'know, did it ever occur to you to mention to Elmer your situation?”
How'd Jim answer that one? [Laughter] You know what he said? “Y'know, it never did. [Laughter] I never even thought about it.”
Well, we met with John Conlan out in L.A. in a hotel (I believe it was May or early June of 1980). John Conlan was a former U. S. House of Representatives congressman from Arizona, and he was involved in a lot of different conservative Christian causes and helped people raise money, so we met specifically with him to talk with him about Today's Student, and to try and encourage him to help us raise some money for it. There was Jim [McCotter], and Brian Catalano, John Conlan, and myself - four of us. And in the process of talking with Conlan… I don't really know how this happened, but somewhere along the line he got the impression that we already had a half a million dollars committed towards the paper. And so Conlan made this statement: “Y'know, it's really good you already have a half a million dollars, 'cause it's a lot easier to raise the second half million.” I guess we told him we needed a million dollars, and he said, “It's much easier to raise the second half if we already have the first half, because I can go to people and tell them we've already got a half a million, and that we just need a million. We're gonna get this paper goin', and the advertising's gonna kick in, and then it's gonna be self-supporting from there on.”
And I sat there and listened to that thinkin', well, Jim's gonna say something. He's gonna correct this mis-impression. And I looked at Brian, Brian looked at me, and I looked at Jim, but Jim didn't look at me [laughter], and so, shortly thereafter the conversation was over, and Conlan promised that he'd do what he could.
We walked down to the parking lot, and as soon as we got there I said, “Jim, if Conlan raises one dime based on telling people we already have a half million dollars, you'd have to give it back. That's false information. That's wrong. Why didn't you correct that?”
And he said, “Aw, y'know, yeah, I gotta get back to him. I
should'a done that,” and that sort of thing. To my knowledge Jim never has gotten
back to Conlan. Now, Conlan didn't raise any money for us, but Jim never corrected
that, either. And it was just an instance of many instances where I saw Jim allowing
people to believe things that were wrong, and exaggerating things.
following is further information relating to the above incident. Ray Moore contributed
this during the same conference in Kansas City during which Mike Royal gave his
talk on Today's Student.]
E. Ray Moore, Jr.:
This is one lie or deception that I caught him [Jim McCotter] in. I never understood it, 'cause I only had one half of the puzzle for a number of years. But somewhere in the spring of 1980 Jim and Mike Royal and Craig Coria57 met with Congressman John Conlan, and I had set that up. Congressman Conlan (former congressman from Arizona) was a leading Evangelical in the nation, and has been really involved in the New Right, and close to Reagan, and all this sort of stuff - he's not holding office now, but he's one of the early… before you ever heard of Jerry Falwell and all the Christians getting involved in politics, he was [one of the early conservatives] leading out nationally. He's a pretty bright guy, knows Bunker Hunt and a lot of these wealthy Christians around the country. So I'm almost positive I got him and Jim together, but I didn't go to this meeting.
So in the middle of the meeting Conlan was going to raise money for the Today's Student - this was right before the Today's Student folded, and he was going to raise money for the paper - he had agreed to do it. (He had apparently met with Jim. Mike doesn't know quite how this came up.) Conlan, in the middle of the conversation, said, “Well, Jim, you have a half a million dollars raised, and it'll be much easier to raise the other half million if you have this much in hand, 'cause I can go to these wealthy men and raise this money now,” etc. And Mike [thought], “Hey! Goodness, that's wrong!” He kept waiting for Jim to correct it, 'cause they had about $30,000 or $40,000 deficit at that time. So, he never did correct it. So they went out of the meeting, and Conlan was going to proceed to go to these people.
If you know anything about raising money, it's sort of like you have to have it to get it - nobody will give you the first $10,000 or $5,000, but if you have $5,000 or $10,000 you can get matching money. Nobody wants to give money to somebody that's broke, particularly in a Christian work or organization of any kind. So if he had a half a million, it would be very easy to raise the rest of that money, believe it or not. And so, Mike, [after] the meeting, in the parking lot, said to Jim, “Jim you should have stopped that. You shouldn't have let him think that we had that money, because it's not true!” And Jim said, “Yeah, yeah, you're right.” He said, “You're going to have to call him and straighten that out.” And he said, “Okay.”
Well, in July, Conlan was in Indianapolis. At that time I was working on a campaign for a U. S. Senator58 - I was on his staff. He [Conlan] flew in to meet with our staff and help us plan our campaign. This was in July of 1980. After the meeting was over we walked out together (and he really liked Today's Student) and I said, “I want to thank you, John, for helping us with Today's Student.” He said, “Yeah, it's a great paper. Boy, and it's real exciting what you guys are doing.” So I said, “Boy, we really need your help to continue,” meaning, “If we don't get your help financially, the paper's not gonna be able to continue.” He was walking beside me, and I remember this… he kinda wheeled around and looked at me, and said, “Continue!?” And he said, “Those jerks!” or something like that. “They led me to believe they had a couple hundred thousand dollars in the bank. I can't believe it,” or something like that. I just quickly dropped the conversation. I was gonna talk to Jim first, y'know, to find out what had happened, and so I didn't say any more. But apparently he never raised the money.
That's the kind of case… Y'see, when this thing has gotten on a very high level where they're dealing with really important people with that kind of dealing, and that's not too good.
I confronted Jim recently about that on the phone, March 24,  when he called and we talked for an hour and a half - I was already leaving [the movement] - but we talked for an hour and a half on the phone, and I brought that up. I said, “You lied about that. Why did you do that? What did you mean?” He said, “Well, Ray, I knew that you men, you elders, would stand behind me, and that we had that much in the fellowships.” And I said, “Jim, you've gotta be kidding!” I said, “It [Today's Student] has bled us dry. We were $30,000 in the hole!” That's not right; you know better than that.” I don't remember what he said at that point. Then he said, “If I did that, I'll go with you to talk with John Conlan.” I said, “Did you do it?” He won't admit… Y'see, it's always, if he did. Well, y'know, that's not confession of sin. When you confess, you know you did it, and they know you did it. It's not, “I'm sorry if I did it,” but, “I did it.”
You don't do that sort of thing [i.e., count on possible future
contributions]. You've gotta have it in the bank or in hand.
[Back to Mike Royal's presentation.]
This doesn't relate to Today's Student, but I want to throw it in because it illustrates this a little bit more. After Jim had traveled around the world with Henry and Rick and Dennis he was back in Ames, and he was giving us a report of that trip. He mentioned how he had met with this very famous theologian in Switzerland and told him about God's will for your life, and how excited this theologian was about what he was sharing. Does anybody come to your mind [laughter] when I say that? Who would ever guess? Well, I went up (y'know, I was really excited) right after the meeting. I ran up and I said, “Jim, did you meet with Francis Schaeffer in Switzerland?”
How'd Jim answer this? “No, no. What gave you that impression?”
“Well,” I said, “I only know of one famous theologian in Switzerland.” [Laughter]
And he says, “No, I didn't meet with him.”
And he was willing to stop this conversation there, but I pressed him. I said, “Well, Jim, I'm curious. Who did you meet with over there?”
“Earle Fries from Chicago.” [Laughter in the audience]59
He had pre-arranged to meet Earle in Switzerland, and I dare tell you, I would suggest that he specifically had Switzerland as the place to meet with Earle so he could tell that story when he got back. [Laughter] At any rate, this is the way Jim fabricates, and deceives, and he's really, really adept at it.
This was in June of 1980, and somewhere in here Brian Catalano and I went to Jim. Brian and I had talked about a lot of things, and we had concluded there were some problems. We did not go to Jim specifically on sin. We went to Jim on the basis of the fact that he had such a high profile in the movement that we felt there were some areas in his life that he needed to take a look at and consider changing for the sake of the men who were modeling their lives after him - such things as he had once told me that he and Barb recently bought a microwave oven, and that it was wonderful to have that because he never knew when he'd get home for supper, and Barb could always warm up their supper real quickly. So one of the things I shared with him that day, I said, “Y'know, you really ought to maybe rearrange your schedule so you'd get home for supper more often. You've gotta be a better example for the men, rather than tell them to go out and buy a microwave oven.”
And I basically shared with him several different areas that I was beginning to say, “Jim, y'know, I don't really trust what you say. I don't really trust what you do. I'm having some real problems, and I'm sharing these things with you because there needs to be clear communication of what you're saying. I'm always having to go back to you to find out what you said,” and stuff like this. And Brian shared some things with him, and we agreed to get back together in a week or so for him to respond to some of the things we shared.
And Brian said to me after we left, “Mike, why were you so soft on him? Why were you apologizing for what you were saying all the time?”
And I said, “Well, Brian, I was just trying to help him.”
When we got back with Jim, Jim proceeded to talk for thirty minutes. We were in another restaurant, and for thirty minutes Jim was giving an answer to our concerns, and after he stopped (he was gracious to stop after thirty minutes), I said, “Jim, you've been talking for thirty minutes, but you haven't said anything.”
And Brian chirped in and said, “Yeah, that's right, Jim. You've been talking for thirty minutes, and you haven't said a blessed thing.”
And Jim said, “Gee, whiz, y'know. If that's the way y'all are gonna be - if your attitude's that bad, y'know - I think we'll just end this meeting.”
And I said, “Jim, I'm not interested in hearing about if you'd been a little older, and a little more experienced, y'know, some of these things wouldn't happen. I've addressed you on specific areas. I just want to hear you respond specifically to these things I've brought to your attention.”
He refused to do that, and tried to go into another lengthy spiel, and basically we ended. I got to thinking about it afterward - I have never known Jim to say he had ever done anything wrong. He's never done anything wrong, and he's never apologized. The most you'll ever hear from Jim is, “Did I say that? Well, if I said that, then I'm sorry,” and stuff like that.
Anyway, shortly after that I talked to Paul Rath, and I said, “Paul, I want you to pull together the figures for what's on Today's Student. I want to know where we're at financially.”
So Paul sat down and did And Jim said, “How in the world did we get $30,000 in debt?”
I said, “Well, remember back around the first of May after we put out the last edition of the paper, I told you we had to stop everything, release the staff, tell them to go out and get jobs, and shut down everything because we'd had no more money coming in? And Jim, you said that you wanted to keep the advertising crew so they'd keep working and trying to get advertising for the fall. You wanted to keep on the layout crew so they could keep producing advertising material for the advertising staff. Obviously, Paul had to stay on board as our financial manager. I had to stay on board if I was going to be looking after what was going on.” And I said, “We've continued to accumulate debts.”Jim then said to me, “Well, what are you going to do about this $30,000 debt?”
And I said, “Nothing.”
And he said, “What do you mean, 'nothing'?”
And I said, “Well, Jim, you remember our conversation in Colorado Springs outside the airport on the morning of January the first where you relieved me of all financial responsibility fo this paper, and took 100% of that on your own shoulders?”
And Jim said, “Michael, you misunderstood me. You and I need to get alone by ourselves, 'cause I've got some things I need to share with you about that.”
And I said, “Jim, I didn't misunderstand you. I understood what you said, and I questioned you on it, and I know what you said.”
And he said, “Well, Brother, there're some things that I've got to share with you. We can't talk about this here. We have to get alone to talk about this.”
Knowing that Jim didn't have anything to share… I mean, I knew the whole conversation I had with him… I said, “Jim, I don't know what you're alluding to, but whatever this confidential matter is that you cannot talk about with these other brothers present,” I said, “I release you from that. You say on. I don't care what you say. I don't care what they hear. You say it, and don't hide behind that smoke screen.”
And Jim said, “I cannot talk about this here. We'll have to get together.”
So I said to those other men, and I said, “Y'know, I've basically repeated to you a conversation of what happened between Jim and me in Colorado Springs, and I'm saying that Jim's lying here, and Jim's response to me is to say there's some secret thing that he can't repeat to y'all, and so that relieves him of any responsibility of answering me at this time, and y'all are believing him and not me, and he doesn't have to say a word.” And I said, “You guys are crazy.” [Applause in audience]
Well, I knew at that point that's the straw that broke the camel's back for me. That was a point blank lie, and, y'know, I knew that my wife and I were coming out of this thing.
The meeting went on and we talked about what to do, because we decided that night to close down the Today's Student. So I said, “Well, I'll get out a letter to the elders and tell 'em what happened.”
And Jim said, “No, Brother, I'll write a letter to the elders, and ask them if we should close the paper down.”
I said, “We just decided to close the paper down.”
He said, “I never do anything with Today's Student paper that I don't first consult with the elders and get their counsel.” [Laughter]
So I said, “Well, I'm the editor. I have the responsibility to these men to tell them the truth, or at least to tell them as I see it.”
And Jim said, “Well, you can't do that.”
And I said, “Well, Jim, why don't you write a letter, and I'll write a letter?”
And he said, “Why don't you consider dropping off the staff?” [Laughter]60
And so again I turned to those men in the room, and I said, “Y'know, that's fairly casual. I've given three years of my life, and a lot of money towards this paper, and Jim just casually suggests that I drop off the staff because I want to write a letter to the elders and explain to them what happened as I see it.” And I said, “Y'all are gonna let that pass?” And they were. They did. I never wrote that letter.
Later on when we met with the Today's Student staff, I never said a word and the various men shared with them, basically saying we were closing down the paper, and they never gave a reason for it. And the staff at large never asked the first question. And I just thought to myself, if they're satisfied with these generalities about what's happening with the paper, and they don't want to know any more than that, that's fine - I won't say anything, either. So they never asked me anything, and all they heard was that, “Well, we feel like we need to shut down the paper, and y'all need to go out and get jobs.” No accountability, no asking of what happened, anything, period.
Well, later on, Jim wanted to have a kangaroo court, and at first I wouldn't agree to it. But finally I decided I would for the sake of the elders, to basically try and tell them what was goin' on, really knowing it would do no good, but I thought I owed it to them to sit down and tell them. And so we went through all the things I'd shared with Jim, that Brian and I had gone through with Jim. And I rehearsed them on what happened with Today's Student, on Jim lying, and one thing and another. And I said to them, “Y'know, I know when I leave y'all are gonna make up different reasons for why I left, but if anyone ever asks you why I left, and what was the reason I gave when I left, there's only one response you're gonna be able to give them, and I'm gonna tell it to you right now. I'm leaving California for one reason: Jim McCotter is not a man of integrity, period. That's all you can answer when people ask for my reason why I left.”
And so we proceeded to leave, and that has only proven itself out more and more over time. And I basically felt at that time that time was on my side.
When Ray Moore was coming out of the movement up in Indiana61 I was up there at the time, as were Sam Lopez, and Herschel Martindale, Dennis Clark, and Jim.62 We had the opportunity to meet with Herschel by virtue of the fact that we just walked up to all of them meeting in the union with Ken Wooten (Ray's co-elder). Ray said, “I'm an elder in W. Lafayette, and Herschel, I want to talk to you. Would you get up and follow us?”
And Herschel was taken so much by surprise that he got up and followed us. We walked out and began talking to him. Eventually Dennis and Sam found us, and they were really wondering what was going on. And we each had an opportunity to talk with them. I had with me the articles from the Des Moines Register and the Ames Daily where they had asked questions about the ISU Bible Study, and whether or not it had elders in it.63 And knowing how Sam was going to respond, I put him in a corner, and I said, “Sam, when we went to Ames in 1976, was it your impression… didn't we have elders in ISU Bible Study?”
He said, “Yeah, of course we did.”
I said, “Well, how come in this newspaper article written in 1979 Mike Stohlmeyer and other men quoted in this article swear there were no elders in ISU Bible Study?”
He said, “Well, it doesn't have elders. The Ames Fellowship Church has elders.”
And I said, “Sam, that organization was not created until 1979. You and I went there in 1976. Now, I want to ask you that question again, Sam. Did the ISU Bible Study have elders?”
And Sam looked at me point blank and said, “No.”
And I looked at him point blank and I said, “You're lying.” And I said, “I'm gonna tell you something else, Sam. You lie for Jim McCotter every day. You violate your conscience.” I said, “I worked closely with Jim and I know that you cannot work closely with Jim and not lie constantly and violate your conscience.” And I read him the verse out of 2 Timothy, I believe, where it says you'll shipwreck your faith if you continue to do that.
Well, I want to finish with these verses in 3 John, because I asked Sam this que And he said, “I don't know.”
And I said, “Well, I was invited in by an elder also, Ray Moore. So I want to ask you again, Sam. Do I have a right to be in W. Lafayette?”
And he said, “Yes.”
And I said, “Thank you for telling the truth.”
And we got to talking about whether or not we'd followed the scriptural procedure with Jim, and I said, “Sam, I believe I've followed Matthew 18 - I've gone through all that with Jim, and I'm way beyond that now - I'm way down to 3 John.” [Laughter in audience] And I said, “You take a look at that, Sam. What would you do, Sam, if you saw error, and people being wronged, and people being devastated, and you'd gone to that brother, and you tried to get it straightened out, and he refused to hear it, and you'd gone to the elders, they refused to hear it - what would you do, Sam? I mean, would you have a responsibility to warn, to tell 'em?” And I said, “I think that's what John is doing in talking to Gaius. I think they'd already gotten through Matthew 18. I don't think they listened, because Diotrephes had a grip on that church, and John was warning Gaius, and saying how he was going to deal with Diotrephes when he came in. And so that's the scriptural basis for what I'm doing now, I believe, is 3 John.” And the other Scripture I gave him… I said, “I'm standing on Matthew 18, 3 John, and I'm standing on 1 Corinthians 5.”
I said, “To the ability that one person can do it, I've turned over Jim 'to Satan for the destruction of his flesh in order that his spirit may be saved in the day of Jesus Christ.' ” But in 3 John in verses 9 and following he says, “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us, so if I come I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. And not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God, and anyone who does evil has not seen God.” And I would suggest to you that I don't think Jim has really seen God in the fulness God would like him to see him in, because you don't have to desire the preeminence. You don't have to promote yourself, but you desire to be Christ-like and become a servant once you've seen the Lord in the way the Lord wants to be seen. And Jim has totally missed that.
Postscript by Paul R. Martin:
It says every fact must be confirmed by two or three witnesses. I was with Mike, standing right beside him when he talked to Sam and some of the others, so, yeah, it's true. [And] Ray was there.
I talked to Herschel about him slandering us, and two or three times he apologized that he'd been saying things he didn't know first hand. He'd been hearing hearsay, and I said he hadn't heard the other side of the story. I don't have my Bible up here, but the same thing happened in John chapter 7, when Nicodemus said, “Does not our law say that we must hear a man and see what he does?” And of course, the Jewish authorities just dismissed Nicodemus and said, “Well, we know that no prophet comes out of Galilee,” and they totally ignored the three or four Old Testament prophets that already had. But that's the way it works.
Slick 50 and L.E.I.
During the early years of the Blitz - from its beginnings until at least the late 1970s - the elders were really not making good incomes. Many of them held jobs besides their church responsibilities in order to make ends meet. In fact, until the early 1980s no offerings were ever taken during meetings of Blitz churches. Instead, members who desired to contribute to their church or elders voluntarily gave money to one or another of their elders, often anonymously. During a Blitz-sponsored conference-outreach during the New York Democratic Convention in1980, Jim McCotter began encouraging all of the Blitz elders to augment their then-meager incomes by becoming distributors for Slick 50 products through his newly formed company, L.E.I. (see below).64 The company that produces Slick 50 was started by the same Christian men who founded Swipe, a multi-level marketing company similar to Amway. McCotter's father, Max, had been connected to Swipe for many years, and then had also become involved with Slick 50. As a result of his father's involvement, Jim became a distributor (even prior to forming L.E.I.), and then urged the elders to do so likewise.
Before long, many of the elders had taken Jim's advice and begun selling Slick 50 products to Blitz members and others. According to Henry Hintermeister, the majority of the elders nationwide became distributors, with the total eventually reaching some 1800 people, most of them outside the Blitz movement. Hintermeister added that some of the elders made very good money, at least compared to what they had been making.
Prior to the L.E.I. business venture, Henry had been living in Houston, Texas, and was a member of the Blitz church there which was under the leadership of Herschel Martindale. At one point Jim McCotter came in with Mike Royal to meet with the church, and in particular with Herschel. During this time, Jim appointed three other men in the church, including Hintermeister, as elders, to assist Herschel, who suffers from serious eye trouble and is legally blind. While Jim was in Houston, he and Henry were sitting together when Jim said (according to Henry), “Henry, you can make a choice, now that you're an elder, to either be a peon all your life, or to stick with me.” Henry added, “You know, to a young man that has not had a lot of things happening in life, that's pretty exciting talk, especially if you believe it.”
Eventually the leaders decided to move the whole church from Houston to Lubbock, Tex. (further evidence of the Blitz as “the church on the boat” - see page 59). After a year in Lubbock, Jim McCotter invited Henry to move to San Clemente to work on Today's Student. Henry and his family arrived in San Clemente on the very day (in July 1980) that Mike Royal was leaving the paper and the movement.65 That day Jim met with Henry and, rather than brief him on the job he would be doing for Today's Student, took about three hours (according to Henry) to fill him in on Mike and the problems he was having. He then requested that Henry go with him and the other elders later that evening to talk with Brian Catalano to warn him not to talk to Mike. Henry says, “So that was my introduction to San Clemente.”
In making their move to California, the Hintermeisters sold everything they had (“which wasn't much,” according to Henry) and rented a van for the drive west from Texas. However, after they got there Henry learned that the paper was over $30,000 in debt because they had neglected to pay Social Security taxes for the staff. Therefore, as Mike related above, they had to make the tough decision to shut down the paper. So here was Henry in California with no job. Henry relates his situation:
I was a former school teacher, but I'd rather do most anything except that. And I had no form of income, and no savings, because in the four or five years I was an elder in Texas my highest income was $8,000, which was $2,000 higher than it had been the year before. And so we came out there virtually with no money.
It was then in the days or weeks after Henry's arrival in San Clemente that he and Jim decided to go into business together. According to Henry, “several of the head honchos in [the Slick 50] company broke away” and started a new company called Petrolon. These men had the original Slick 50 formula, and so they simply began manufacturing and marketing it with its original name, but under the Petrolon aegis. The Petrolon directors approached Jim McCotter and Henry Hintermeister out in San Clemente and asked if they would be interested in marketing their products. “By that time,” Henry said, “they knew there was a whole slew of us in the fellowships in Slick 50.”
With this invitation as impetus, Jim and Henry decided to form a partnership together to facilitate this new venture. The company they founded was called L.E.I., which stood for Life Enterprises, Inc. (As Henry put it at an ex-Blitz members conference in 1985, “Mike Royal always thought it was L.I.E., but it was really L.E.I.”) Henry's role in the business was to take care of the financial books, the legal documents, and related matters, while Jim handled what Henry called “the propaganda work which you do with a company.” Henry said, “We went into that with no money, and came out with no money.”
At the time that the men from Petrolon made their offer to Jim McCotter they had, according to Hintermeister, around $1,000,000 to fund their part of the deal. Henry continued:
Jim told them that we in the fellowships had one fourth of the whole Petrolon organization throughout the United States. Well, if you have any mathematical ability at all, a fourth of $4,000,000 is about $1,000,000 a month volume. How Jim justified that was, I think it was two months before we met with these men to solidify this deal with them, Slick 50 put out a newsletter showing the ten top distributors for that month. Well, that particular month Jim had bought fifty cases of Petrolon products, and Dennis Clark had bought fifty, and so in the listing of ten top distributors for that particular month, two out of the ten were Jim and Dennis. And so when Jim went to these other businessmen, he said, “We have one fourth of the Petrolon organization.” And he based it on one month's showing that two of the distributors were in the top ten distributors. Well, we probably weren't a fiftieth, if even that, and out of that fifty parts of Petrolon, we were the poorest, let me clue you, because no one had any money in the fellowships that was in the product. So the whole thing started off under deception, and it caused a lot of hard feelings in the fellowships between people buying the product, finding out they couldn't sell it. It was a bad situation, real bad.
As it turned out, the L.E.I. adventure lasted only about a year and a half. Founded in July 1980, it went out of business in June or July of the next year, after Jim lost interest in it (as he frequently did in other ventures he started). According to Henry, Jim had received a lot of criticism from other leaders in the movement because of his involvement in the business, and so finally “he wanted just to get out of it” (Henry). Jim wanted Henry to buy him out - i.e., give him a million dollars for his share of the partnership. After Henry got over the initial shock of such a request, he said, “Let me have a night to think about it.” A business friend of Henry's told him that in such cases it was customary for the other partner to make the same offer to the one who initiated the process of dissolution. So, the next day Henry came back and told Jim, “Okay, here's what we'll do. I want to make you the same offer: you pay me a million dollars, and you can have the company.” Jim declined to do so, so he and Henry went into negotiations together, and finally agreed to write out “a little hand-written contract for $120,000.” Henry continued,
It was based on several things. I foresaw that if certain things happened, I was going to have a scorched earth policy beneath me, and so what I did on this contract was I wrote in a couple of provisions that he would not get paid if the volume fell below $25,000 a month. And I think he got one installment on that $120,000, and that was it, because the volume fell - it was falling as he left, anyhow, but it fell even further later on. So he did not profit highly out of that. I think he probably made $30,000, I would guess, in a year's time off that, and I did not get hurt, other than emotionally, and my pride, and all those things, but there's plenty of that to go around, yet.
As a result of the way the demise of L.E.I. came about, as well as other things, Henry and Jim had a parting of the ways that involved more than Petrolon. In fact, after the dissolution of the partnership, Henry and his family left the Blitz movement altogether, and in 1985 moved to Hastings, Minn.
Two years after the break-up (1983), Brian Catalano urged Henry to write a letter to Jim “summarizing the difficulties that I had seen when I had been with Jim” (Henry). For his trouble, Henry was slandered in open letters by local elders in at least three Blitz fellowships (those in Lubbock, San Diego, and Hyattsville, Md.) and by Jim McCotter and Dennis Clark (writing separately as national leaders, as well as the elders in Hyattsville). (See pages 131-139 for these letters.)
In connection with the Petrolon/Slick 50 endeavor, Henry Hintermeister related an incident that highlighted Jim McCotter's concern about appearances. In introducing this subject, Henry said, “When we would talk to people on the phone he would exaggerate terribly, and down (if you uncovered all the dirt) there would be kernels of truth there that he could justify this whole big picture.” He then continued:
I have two vehicles, but one of them's an old van that I drive when we take our tribe different places, and it used to bother Jim terribly if we ever had to go in that van anywhere. He had two vehicles - one was this yellow van with the elongated top, and it's not the type of thing you'd put on a showroom at a Mercedes Benz dealership, and the other one was a Toyota that had seats where the springs were showing. He felt really terrible about ever meeting business people this way. And we had this guy coming in that Jim was trying to sell a franchise to for the Philippine Islands for $250,000, which would have been a nice chunk, because there was $50,000 up front, and then two months down the road the balance, and it would keep getting things monthly from that time on. It was a super deal, if the guy would have bit. Well, he was almost in our pocket - we had the guy this close. He flew out there from Michigan to do it. (He was a Seventh-day Adventist - we didn't know where to take him [for lunch], because he didn't eat meat.) What we did is Jim rented a real nice looking Thunderbird, because he wanted to impress this guy with how well the company was doing (this was when we were living from week to week).66 As the Lord would have it happen, it rained, and all three of us got in the car, and Jim and I couldn't find the windshield wiper [control]. Normally, if you own a car you know where the windshield wiper [control] is, so our cover was blown as far as whether that was our car or a rental car.
Letter from Henry Hintermeister to Jim McCotter, re-typed from photocopy of original:
July 21, 1983
A number of brothers have urged me to write this letter to you, an assignment that I do not relish.
The contents of this letter are merely a repeat of the things that I tried to share with you three years ago in the context of Matthew 18 and you twisted Scripture in order to avoid getting with me.
I have since found out, Jim, that this is a pattern of yours which you have practiced over the years, that when someone you could possibly view as a threat approached you, you would take steps to see that person discredited.
I want to list the things that I wrote down 3 years ago to share with you. You recall, I am sure, that you refused to get with me when I repeatedly asked you to. I stated repeatedly, and with witnesses listening, that I felt you had sinned against me and I was coming to you on the basis of Matthew 18. You refused to get with me alone, wanting Dennis with you, even though I pointed out to you that Scripture said to get with you alone first. You, to my astonishment, said that meant I had to come to you alone, but that verse did not mean that you had to be alone. Shame, Jim.
Few people across the country realize the depth of my association with you, especially during the ill-fated time in San Clemente where I was with you in a business relationship on a daily basis. Few people have ever seen you in a situation Like this where I was able to judge you as a peer, as a normal person rather than looking to you as a spiritual leader and having my perception clouded by that.
Three persons know beyond a shadow of doubt, the accuracy of what I am writing. You, me and God. I need no other witnesses. There is no need for further vindication than this. Both of us realize that.
But I am writing this letter to get on public record these areas. I have found out that many, many people have written you similar letters over the last several years, yet you have concealed this fact in order to present a picture that is totally apart from reality, that those scores and scores of leaders who have left the fellowships because of you have left only because their hearts were bad. My second reason for writing is due to the hope that someone within the fellowships will have the insight and courage to stand up and stop the spiritual carnage that results wherever you go, precious men and women whose very lives are damaged, in some cases to the point where only professional help can rescue them.
Let me list the areas that I had written down on paper 3 years ago, the very list that I still have and which I showed to Lynn Allen 3 years ago outside the LEI office within minutes after you had refused to allow me to get with you on the basis Matthew 18.
SLANDER. During the year I was with you in business, we spent many hours together. During this time and for some of these men, other times, I was witness to you slandering many people. Though you may throw up a spiritual reason for why you did this, let me assure you that it was nothing but slander and God is judging you on that basis.
Here are a few of the men you severely affected my own attitude towards due to your slander of them:
Mike Royal; here you even suggested he might be insane, among many other accusations. Did you suggest that I talk with him to get his side? Never! In fact, you warned me not to talk with him at all. I could write reams on the miscarriage of justice and righteousness concerning your actions toward Mike. I have personally never witnessed such shabby treatment of any Christian toward another than your attitudes and actions toward Mike Royal, a man whom you influenced to give tens of thousands of dollars toward Today's Student. Though there is much more I think needs to be said on Mike's situation, let me express one word that sums it up, shame.
Herschel Martindale: Over a 3 year period of time, culminating in the year I was in San Clemente, your comments and assessments of Herschel and Mardean did more to damage my relationship with Herschel than did anything else. Your obsession to do something with Herschel so his name would not be placed on the New York convention brochure, ultimately led to the Siberian exile fiasco of which I have repeatedly asked Herschel's forgiveness for my part in that.
It is to Herschel's credit that he can even look you in the face. I wonder if he could, if he knew the depth of your slander against him?
Brian Catalano: Here is a dear brother against whom you tried to turn me. Within 3 hours of my arrival in San Clemente from Texas, you had me in your yellow van, educating me about all that was wrong with Brian and Ruth. Then you invited me to sit in an eider--warning meeting with Brian that same night. Now why on earth should I have been involved with that? Over the next several months, you systematically destroyed Brian's reputation and then in an effort to redeem yourself, you tried to win Brian back by trying to recruit him to Life Enterprises, promising him big money and a flashy car if he would come with us.
Bill MacDonald: You consistently shared negative thoughts about Bill's tightness and unclear vision whenever his name would come up. Why?
Kansas City elders: Over the last several years that I was in the fellowships, you continually degraded the vision and efforts of the KC brothers, saying they were not really with the best program, that they were missing the mark. Who are you to judge this? Why should opinions like this be shared with others who have no tie--in with the actual situation?
Bill Tewson: - Your comments on Bill and LouAnn were very cutting and downgrading. I personally witnessed this couple during the time when they were experiencing great, great hurt at your hands, yet your callousness towards them was apparent to anyone aware of the situation. Your promises to them which ultimately led them to move from Texas to Ames, were promises that you must have known in your heart that they were wrong to make to anyone. What havoc you played with their lives!
Paul Martin: Your comments regarding Paul and his wife were unbelievable. At the time, I had a hard time understanding how this intelligent man could be the utter weakling that you made him out to be, run over by a liberated woman. Now that I know he tried to point out to you many of the things I am also sharing, your comments and motives are much more clear.
George Verwer: How many people have you negatively affected toward George? Here is a man that in one year will affect more people's lives for eternity than you will in your lifetime and yet you slandered him time and time again. I wonder if your motive for doing this can be attributed to the fact that George thinks you are dead wrong in your methods and attitudes and told you this directly to your face when we were together in London?
Bill Taylor: Your vendetta against this man is well documented. Between just you and me, Jim, you know you were wrong in the Taylor situation, don't you. There is no doubt in my mind that you viewed Bill as a threat to your plans and that you fished long enough until you could nail him through others so the results would not appear as if they came from you. Funny, but I have personally heard 4 different people who signed the excommunication papers, say they thought the action was wrong, yet not one has courage enough to work through that situation again.
Bill McCotter: Funny about your abilities, Jim. You have a way of saying things that don't really sound too bad at the time, but they have a distinct way of influencing the hearers against the people. "He likes the good life, hunting, fishing and the ease of living, at home." Sounds kinda innocuous, doesn't it? At least until you realize that this pretty much puts him out of the mainstream of spiritual wisdom. No wonder your own family has the attitude toward you that they do.
There are other men in the fellowships you slandered also, but let these suffice for this letter. I can only imagine how you have twisted men's thinking toward Lyn and I. I do know that you slandered me to your echo, Dennis, when he first arrived in California. He would not listen to me, even though we had never even talked about the issues. How dreadful to be associated with men like this, men who lack a backbone along with spiritual discernment.
DECEPTION and LYING
My biggest shock with you, Jim, came when we first started Life Enterprises and I began to see you lie and deceive other people. I think of you telling the brothers at Ariel where we got our first product, that your Slick 50 organization totalled one fourth of Slick's whole force. What an outright lie and misrepresentation! I am embarassed [sic] even as I think about that now!
I saw this pattern develop consistently throughout our association in business. You simply could not be trusted. You misled our suppliers, our people in the organization and others that we tried to recruit. Toward the end of our association as I talked with you, it was apparent to me that I could simply not discern when you were telling the truth and when you were not. I could not in good conscience allow myself and my precious family to be associated in any church where you had any influence simply because, Jim, I cannot tell when you are telling the truth.
I saw you look Brian Catalano in the eye and tell him that the only reason we were getting together with him was that you loved him and wanted to get things right. But to me before we got together, you stated your main purpose was to get him out of Amway and into Life Enterprises. Sick.
Jim, if anyone has doubts as to whether or not I am telling the truth, then I would suggest they simply recall your actions with the Des Moines Register and the taped interview. You lied on that tape. You misrepresented things. You were wrong, yet you put it under the guise of spirituality.
Your comment at the NY convention regarding the brother from Oklahoma who you said offered you a million dollars for the gospel. He didn't, Jim. I was on the phone with you a week or two after the convention when you thought you had better get back with him before he heard what you had said.
Or, how about the heavenly deception you tried to hoist [sic] on the saints at Ames regarding when the church meeting an campus was a church and when it wasn't, even though it involved the same people meeting in the same room!
Or, how about the demise of Today's Student, the real factors of mismanagment [sic] that you have adroitly covered up? Or, how about the horror stories of some of the ways you coveted the money of others and how you approached dear saints to give inheritances, etc to the Student? Maybe the brothers in the works should hear some of the behind the scenes money situations and the deception used when talking about it to other elders?
Jim, only a few people know some of these things, but does that really make a difference?
This is getting lengthy, so let me add a few other things on my list and not comment much on them.
I was confused when I first moved to California because I had been led to believe that you were a humble person. I mean, everyone who didn't really know you on a personal basis, said you were. But funny things began to appear. I saw that on things that were not consequential, you would yield quickly. But on things you thought and wanted, you were immoveability [sic] personified.
Even today, you are still basically free to do what you want. There is no accountability factor in your life. I perceive there has been none since you were in the army. This was brought home to me especially when we entered business together. You said it really did not matter what the other elders thought. Then in NY you stated to the crowd we were seeking to recruit, that you had entered the business only after much counsel from the elders. Yet, out in the hallway before the meeting started, you saw Lynn Allen and asked me to talk with him because he didn't know we had already started the business. Then a week after the convention, a full month after we had started the business, you met with the elders to talk with them. Funny way to get counsel!
INSENSITIVITY TO PEOPLE
Publicly you present a model picture of being sensitive to people, but in your everyday life, you are different. Do you remember the time when Deb West (Who left San Clemente secretly because of all the stress) our secretary in LEI came to you crying because of the way you treated her? How about the patterns you have established of making everyone else's schedule revolve around yours? How about times at conferences when you make an entire crowd wait, sometimes for hours, while you "are out meeting with the Lord." Bullroar, Jim. You are no different than the rest of us. You have an inflated opinion of yourself, much like the little rich kid who has never really grown up to know what it is like to be a commoner.
Time and again, you urge people in the fellowships to do things that you have never done. You encourage people to work hard at their jobs and then to give their nights to the Lord. Yet when we were in LEI together, you would wander into the office at ten in the morning after having a leisure breakfast with your family. During the athletic seasons, you would take off at 3 in the afternoon to be with your kids at their games. At noon you would always take an hour and a half, again so you could be with your family.
Some example for the working man to follow! I would like see you try that with an employer, or to try to run a business working hours like that. Jim, this is the extreme insensitivity that marks your real life. It reminds me of the scathing denunciation the Lord gave to the Pharisees who were doing the same things, loading burdens on their people that they were unwilling to do themselves.
If I had to select one thing off my list that is a root problem of yours, Jim, it would have to be the psychological problem that dogs your life, that of paranoia. You have this deep rooted problem of thinking that everyone is out to get you unless they are subservient to you or your thinking.
One clinical psychologist whom we both know, suggests you are a classic case of someone suffering from deep paranoia. I could give many examples when you manifest this, but there is really no need to between you and I, for you know this is true.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
I am not interested in getting back into the fellowships, at least with those who have enough contact with you to be influenced by you. For your spiritual immaturity has caused deep damage to hundreds of lives and continues unabated to this very hour.
But I feel a responsibility before the Lord to do what I can and here is what I propose as a step of action. Your refusal to do this simple step would indicate to all who know, that you are really not interested in helping restore lives that you personally have slandered and damaged.
I propose that a panel of brothers be set up, brothers that we all know. I would suggest Bill MacDonald, Jean Gibson, Jim Catalano, Dan Norbie, the Williams brothers and a couple of elders from the Colorado assemblies.
Let these men sit and listen to the accusations that have been leveled against you personally over the last years. Certainly these men could adequately judge whether or not the charges are true. If the charges are judged to be false, then the matters would be closed and there would be a fresh blessing poured out on the fellowships, instead of the ever widening split that is happening in various fellowships.
If the charges are judged to be true, then steps of action could be taken that would go a long ways toward healing hundreds of lives and there would be such a revival amongst the fellowships that the testimony would reach far and wide.
Certainly no one with a pure heart and a desire to please God could drum up negative expressions toward this solution.
Secondly, Jim. I would urge you to get professional help for the deep rooted psychological problems you have. I urge this on the basis that no one that you are currently associated with is trained or is able to help you in the ways you need help. Professional counseling at this point of your life can make the rest of your life what God wants it to be. Failure to get help at this juncture, will result in untold spiritual waste and carnage. I implore you to get help, though it would take a great deal of humbling on your part.
Please read these things before the Lard. Three years have passed since we have communicated. I am sending a copy of this letter to a number of brothers, inside and outside the fellowships in order that many will know that God is continuing to warn you. "He that is often reproved and hardens himself, shall have his neck broken, and that without remedy."
Enough time has passed, in order that men could not accuse this letter of being written in the heat of passion. I write with deep sadness for I still long to be with the type of men that I was with in Texas. For everyone like me, there is a hundred more who have left, not because of others, but because of you. Think deeply while you are yet able.
Please take these matters up with the brothers within the fellowships who get a copy of this letter. I have no desire to communicate with you, for I feel the time has passed for a one to one session. You refused that in the past. Now I am appealing to the churches that you are with.
May God stir up the Phineas's in your churches to take the appropriate action.
In 1983 GCI held a media conference, during which Jim McCotter gave a speech with the title “Media Mandate.” In this speech he spends a great deal of time on the powerful influence the various communications media have, and have had, in the lives of people, and how the varieties of these media have increased greatly, especially since the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg in the late fifteenth century. Near the beginning of his talk McCotter says, “I want to show the scriptural and historical reasons why I believe it is paramount that Christians get into mass media.” The basic thrust of the speech is that Christians ought to be using the media as an evangelistic tool, though presenting the gospel more subtly in the context of “secular” news and articles of general interest. As an editor wrote in a postscript to the printed version of the speech in The Cause,67 “Along with typical newspaper content to wisely maintain general readership, [U.S. Press] always carries the gospel.” In keeping with McCotter's long-held view that activities are either “spiritual” or “unspiritual,” he says that communication “is only unspiritual if it does not have the goal of ultimately attracting [others] to Christ!”
A little later he said, “What I need to do [to win my neighbor to Christ] is befriend him and show him the whole picture of Christ, and be the salt of the earth as Jesus said in the Gospels. In the same way, we are trying to make people thirsty for Christ with media.”
McCotter also focuses on Rom. 10:14-15, 17:
14. How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
15. And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!”…
17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
At one point McCotter said:
Our minds are like computers. We can program them with good things or with bad things. We are unconditionally affected by what we allow ourselves to hear. The devil knows this, and the unrighteous take advantage of it. So should we. If non-Christians listen to the gospel and don't shut it out, it will eventually act like a hammer and break the rock.
As I was driving from Ames to Des Moines, Iowa one day, I meditated on this truth - faith comes from hearing. I rolled this verse around in my mind for one isolated hour. I'd like to challenge you to take one hour and meditate on that phrase. I thought, “God, is it that easy? Is it that simple? All I have to do is have all Des Moines hear and hear and the result will be inevitable? Faith!” Isaiah 55 says, “My word will not return void.” It is like water that comes down and waters the earth. If you start irrigating a desert, in time it will turn green. Water does that. So does the Word. It is inevitable - faith comes from hearing.
Aside from theological and logical problems with McCotter's understanding of this passage is the hermeneutical problem that this is simply not what the Apostle Paul wrote. Yes, faith comes from hearing; but Paul is not saying that it inevitably comes from hearing, only that if one does not hear, one cannot believe. But McCotter's eccentric interpretation of the passage, combined with his emphasis on evangelistic passages of the New Testament and his focus on the use of media leads him to turn his attention to the evangelistic use of the communications media - as time would tell, primarily print and radio media - in his belief that the world can be evangelized in this present generation - i.e., his generation, which, it should be noted, is quickly growing old.
In consequence of McCotter's understanding and beliefs in these matters, under his leadership GCI began investing heavily - financially and in other ways - in its own newspapers, magazines, and eventually, radio stations.
1983 was the year that witnessed the birth of Great Commission's magazine The Cause, published initially in Norman, Oklahoma. McCotter had relocated his base of operations to that city after a sojourn of less than two years in San Clemente, California. Already the Blitz/GCI had entered the media business with its newspapers Life Herald (1976-1978), The Delegate (1976 [one issue]), The Student (1976-1977), and Today's Student (1977-1980).
Later publications would include, besides The Cause (later The Christian Cause [1983-1988]), America Today (1983), U.S. Press (1984-1985), All Nations newsletter (1983-?), Today's American (1985-? [possibly stillborn]), Potential (1985-? [original working name was Alive]), The ABG [Americans for Biblical Government] Report (1986-?), Daylights (1989-present [a daily devotional]), and The Great Commission International Newsletter (1989-?).
As related briefly in Part One (page 40), the Blitz fellowship in Ames, Ia., began publishing two newspapers in 1976 - Life Herald and The Student. During the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Mo., (see page 25-26), the Ames fellowship published a one-issue tabloid called The Delegate which Blitz members passed out near Kemper Arena along with Charles Childers' book, If He Were President. Both newspapers - Life Herald and The Student - were four-page tabloids.
By way of review, Today's Student somewhat grandiosely called itself “The Nation's Largest Student Newspaper.” This was a reflection of Jim McCotter's apparent overwhelming desire to have the biggest, best, and most influential operations (of whatever kind) in the nation. As a matter of fact, Blitz/GCI promotional literature is full of such grandiose statements. In a brochure promoting GCI's leadership training program “DC '86” the exclamation, “Let's Make History!” is printed in bold, slashing letters. The last paragraph under this heading reads, “Invest your education and your life in accomplishing things that will lead to greatness. Don't close your summer without this vital chapter in accomplishing God's will. You only have one future. Let DC '86 influence your mark on history for Christ” [emphasis in original]. To the right of this portion of the brochure, among other enticements to encourage young people to attend, the following is printed: “Be a part of a growing movement of Christian students who are making history for Christ”; “Hear some of today's most influential campus Christian leaders share their personal experiences.” Under the heading “Speakers” Jim McCotter is described as “A Director of GCI, national collegiate speaker, and Christian leader.”68
In 1978 Jim McCotter, Dennis Clark, Rick Harvey, and Henry Hintermeister traveled to seventeen countries in five weeks on behalf of Today's Student (see page 40 for more on this trip). As stated on page 40, the willingness to spend some $12,000 on such a tour emphasizes the importance placed on the use of the print media by Blitz leaders (in particular, Jim McCotter) at that early date, five years before McCotter gave his “Media Mandate” talk.
The Blitz' eagerness to make a “mark on history” sometimes
led to deceptive practices to disguise the connection of media organizations with
the Blitz church that ran those organizations. A notorious case in point concerned
Today's Student. (Much of the following account deals with matters not
strictly related to the Blitz' involvement in the media, but rather with misleading
and deceptive practices concerning the relationship between ISU Bible Study, the
Ames Fellowship Church, and other Blitz-run organizations in Ames, Iowa. But all
of this is inextricably entwined with the Blitz' media endeavors in that city,
therefore I include it in this chapter.)
What Was ISU Bible Study?
Between at least September 28, 1977, and March 16, 1980, three Iowa newspapers ran numerous articles detailing controversial and, some would say, deceptive practices by the Blitz group in Ames, Iowa. The first newspaper to raise questions about the Blitz group in Ames was the Iowa State Daily, the campus newspaper of Iowa State University. In September 1977 the Daily reported on concerns about the Blitz group's solicitation on campus, i.e., the members' aggressive methods of evangelization, even in university residence halls.
Five months later (April 1978) the Daily ran a story entitled
“Bible Study plays role in mental breakdown,” in which is recounted the story of
an ISU student who had spent 41 days in two psychiatric facilities. The young man's
psychiatrist was said to believe that his mental breakdown “may have been triggered
by his involvement with ISU Bible Study.” A second article appeared the following
day under the title “Relations few between Bible group, local pastors.” These articles
began raising the question of just who or what ISU Bible Study was. University editor
Margaret Grove wrote:
ISU Bible Study has been registered as a campus organization for two years. The group lists Jeff Newburn, I Ed 3, as president and Larry Bacon, E E 4, as treasurer. The group's faculty advisor is David Smith, agriculture engineering…
Other leaders, or “elders,” not listed with OSL are Jim McCotter, 224 Stanton; Gary Kellogg, University Mobile Court; and Mike Stohlmeyer, 600 5th St. According to Newburn, the term “elder” as used by ISU Bible Study means someone “older and wiser, someone who leads the group.”
Newburn said ISU Bible study does not consider itself a church, but just a campus organization. “We are a campus organization which meets Friday nights, Sunday mornings and at noon during the week.”
He said he knows that people who attend ISU Bible Study have Wednesday night gatherings in private homes, but added, “These aren't officially part of ISU Bible Study.”
Jim McCotter and Gary Kellogg, both ISU Bible Study elders, are also on the board of directors of The Higher Educational Opportunity Service (THEOS).
The article concluded with a promise that the following week “a
series of stories will appear regarding the origin, structure, funding and activities
of THEOS.” Unfortunately, I do not have copies of those articles. However, the Ames
Daily Tribune picked up the story, and in an article entitled “Daily referendum
apparently linked to articles on religious groups” (no date on my copy) the unnamed
In a three-part series April 5-7, the Daily told of apparent financial and membership connections between ISU Bible Study and a group called The Higher Education Opportunity Service, which is not registered as a campus organization.
THEOS officials denied any connection to ISU Bible Study, but the Daily revealed that names of several ISU Bible Study officials appeared on THEOS's articles of incorporation.
Also in the Daily articles, THEOS was shown for two years to be the publisher of the now-defunct Life Herald, a local weekly newspaper. Several staff members and the editor of the Life Herald were shown to be associated with ISU Bible Study.
The Daily also discovered that Life Now, the publisher of Today's Student, which is distributed nationally, lists as president and a member of the board of directors of the group an official of the ISU Bible Study group. Another board member of Life Now was also shown to be a former editor of the Life Herald.
Financially, the Daily showed a THEOS contribution of $615 to the ISU Bible Study. Through IRS records the Daily showed that in 1976 the tax-exempt THEOS group grossed close to $75,000 from sales of books, operations of a printing press in Ames, and tapes, lectures and conferences it provides.
“So connections exist,” the Daily editorialized April 7. “THEOS is investing a good deal of money in its efforts to be an influence, particularly in the University community. We think students have right [sic] to know of its operations.”
The Des Moines Register then picked up the story in its
Sunday edition on November 26, 1978. Along with a main article entitled “Evangelicals
arise on campus,” the Register included a second article entitled “McCotter
explains views, finances of Bible group.” Reporter Sherry Ricchiardi wrote:
…McCotter, a frequent speaker at [ISU] Bible Study functions, also is president of The Higher Education Opportunity Service (THEOS), a not-for-profit organization that runs a bookstore and owns a printing press in Ames. All profits go back into the business, McCotter says.
Internal Revenue Service records (those of not-for-profit organizations are available to the public) show a jump in THEOS income from $1,518 in 1974 to $74,247 in 1976. In 1976, tax returns showed $23,000 in itemized costs and $54,951 unitemized.
According to THEOS bookkeeper Paul Rath, two-thirds of the $54,951 was used to support the Life Herald, a religious newspaper THEOS helped start three years ago. The paper folded last spring. The rest of the money was used for bookstore expenses, Rath said.
“I'm really embarrassed about it. I simply forgot to itemize those expenses at the time,” Rath says.
The THEOS-owned press prints Today's Student, a religious newspaper that its editors say is circulated on 110 college and university campuses.
Profits from the newspaper are used to increase circulation, THEOS leaders say…
The Ames Daily Tribune revisited the issue of the relationship
between ISU Bible Study and other campus organizations in an investigative series
that ran from December 8 through December 10, 1979. Reporter Rosalie Yacknin opened
her December 8 article with:
What is ISU Bible Study?
That sounds like a simple question. After speaking to ministers, ISU officials, ex-Bible Study members, psychologists, religion teachers and ISU Bible Study members themselves, you find it isn't.
No one questions the faith of its members; but there are those who have questions about its methods and purpose.
Its purpose as stated in the 1978-1979 ISU information handbook is “to examine both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and to encourage intellectual honesty concerning Biblical truth.”
Later, Yacknin continued:
In April a series of articles in the ISU Daily linked the ISU Bible Study group to a number of seemingly unrelated activities: The Higher Educational Opportunity Service (THEOS) which at one time published the Life Herald newspaper; Today's Student - another evangelical-oriented newspaper published in Ames and distributed nationally; and a book-store.
The article disclosed that THEOS also owned the offset printing press which still another organization called Life Now subsequently used to print the Life Herald's successor, Today's Student.
THEOS president Jim McCotter and Gary Kellogg, a member of the THEOS board, were named as elders of ISU Bible Study, as was Mike Stohlmeyer, identified as president of Life Now.
In response to Yacknin's query as to whether ISU Bible Study
had elders, Stohlmeyer answered in the negative, as did Bible Study member Ron Lee
(also chairman of the Iowa State publication board), who added, “You may be confused
with Ames Fellowship Church.” He then named the elders of Ames Fellowship Church
as Mike Stohlmeyer, Brent Knox, Steven Hogan, Craig Coria, and Paul Rath. Yacknin
commented, “Coria, incidentally, was named in the ISU Daily article as representing
Life Herald in 1978 when that group approached the ISU Government of the
Student Body to discuss a special allocation of 'purchase of service' agreement
for the publication.” Yacknin continued:
Until now, the term “Eeder” [sic: typo for “elder”] as applied to leaders of the ISU Bible Study, has gone unchallenged. In fact, a March 1978 Daily article quotes [Jeff] Newburn, then as now president of the group, as defining the word for readers.
The article states: “According to Newburn, the term “Elder” as used by ISU Bible Study means someone 'older and wiser, someone who leads the group.' ”
In a letter written by Yacknin and submitted to Newburn in response
to his request for written questions, questions 3, 10, and 11 were as follows:
3. Who are the Elders of ISU Bible Study? Who are the deacons?…
10. Why are people who have been identified as ISU Bible Study Elders, specifically Mike Stohlmeyer, denying now any connection?
11. I have been told the Ames Fellowship Church and ISU Bible Study are branches of the same group. Can you explain how they are connected and how they are different? Do you belong to both?
And here is Newburn's written reply to these questions, contained
in one paragraph (Newburn did not itemize his answers or otherwise relate them to
Yacknin's specific questions):
People who attend our meetings on campus attend various churches in Ames and back home. Something that many people are confused about is the relationship between one church in Ames, the Ames Fellowship Church, and ISU Bible Study. Because we as students aren't perhaps as effective speakers as others are, we invite various speakers to our meetings. Sometimes other people from Iowa, but more often people from Ames. Men who are elders for the Ames Fellowship Church often are our guest speakers. They are willing to come in and do this free of charge, and we're happy to have them. Many people who attend ISU Bible Study meetings also attend Ames Fellowship Church, however, many others attend different churches. Therefore, questions about “Elders” and “Deacons” of ISU Bible Study are inappropriate, because ISU Bible Study doesn't have any. Jim McCotter has spoken at our meetings, as well as Mike Stohlmeyer and others, and we've been delighted to have them speak.
The situation was back to being confusing with the December 10th
article, entitled “Bible Study, Fellowship membership similar.” Reporter Yacknin
began this article as follows:
Until last week, very few “outsiders” had ever heard the name Ames Fellowship Church. In spite of the fact students and parents have reported accounts of baptisms in Beyer Hall pool and Lake Laverne by Bible Study members; and of marriages performed by Jim McCotter, the purported leader of ISU Bible Study; and of conversions to what seems to some a manifestation of another sect within the Christian faith, no one seems to have questioned, at least in public, whether or not ISU Bible Study was indeed a “church.”
It seems it is and has been for a long while, but the fact is just now surfacing. The girl called Judy [in an earlier article] knew it. She told us the Ames Fellowship Church was the same group, as far as leadership, as ISU Bible Study. The difference, she said, was “ISU Bible Study can't admit they've got elders because they're not in college.”
James Wolfe, ISU religion and philosophy professor, knew it. “Ames Fellowship Church is the other name for ISU Bible Study,” he told The Tribune when asked by a still-confused reporter. “Brad Meyer (a Bible study member) told me in a class on campus religion the fall before this one… He told me (ISU Bible Study has) given itself an additional name, or the core of the group has been Ames Fellowship Church and regards itself as the church among churches. ISU Bible Study doesn't take a hard and fast institutional form; it can mislead without lying and say these are different organizations; these are different names for different branches of the same movement.”
When Yacknin contacted Ken Johnson, the ISU faculty advisor for
the organization, she asked him for the names of the group's elders. She reported:
He did not hesitate.
“Brent Knox, Mike Stohlmeyer, Steve Hogan.”
I asked him about Jim McCotter. “Yes, Jim McCotter too.”
I asked him how many deacons ISU Bible Study had. Johnson answered, “About a dozen.”
I asked him the difference between ISU Bible Study and the Ames Fellowship Church.
This is the faculty advisor's answer: “Ames Fellowship Church gets together on Sunday morning. The Bible Study meets Friday and Sunday evenings.”
“What's the difference?” I asked.
“There's a difference in the number of people and some of the people.”…
…Within half an hour Johnson called me back. He said he wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding: that the Bible Study has no Elders. There are Elders in the Ames Fellowship Church. He said he was confused because he was not used to speaking with reporters.
I told him I contacted him because he was the faculty advisor for ISU Bible Study and didn't know how he could have been confused; he had sounded as though he understood.
Johnson said, “I know what you wanted. I don't know. I have a class. Jeff Newburn can speak.” Then he hung up the phone.
The Iowa Web Printers Investigation:
Misleading Statements about Affiliation with Iowa State University
An earlier article in the Des Moines Register (August 12, 1979) reported on a printing company's alleged false claims to be affiliated with Iowa State University “in order to better its credit standing.” The company in question, Iowa Web Printers Inc., was the Ames press that printed the Blitz' newspaper, Today's Student. In fact, Iowa Web Printers was a subsidiary of The Higher Education Opportunity Service (THEOS), which was itself (as noted above) a de facto subsidiary of Ames Fellowship Church.
Writer Jim Healey reported that ISU officials had filed a formal complaint with U.S. Attorney Roxanne Barton Conlin, who then “turned the matter over to the FBI for investigation.”
David Henry, an assistant to Iowa State president W. Robert Parks, said university officials became concerned after receiving a call from Dun & Bradstreet Inc. in Des Moines “checking on the authenticity of Iowa Web Printers Inc. and The Higher Education Opportunity Services, James McCotter, president.” Henry said Dun & Bradstreet, a credit reporting agency, was told neither organization has any university connection.
A spokeswoman for Dun & Bradstreet said the firm was definitely given the impression there was a connection between the printing firm and the university. That impression was based on a conversation with a man identified only as the manager of Web Printers, who said Web was connected with “Iowa State Higher Educational Opportunity Services,” according to Dun & Bradstreet, which was preparing a credit report on Web Printers for one of its clients…
…If Web Printers misrepresented itself as an arm of the university in an attempt to obtain credit or a loan from a federally chartered or insured institution that would be a violation of federal law and could subject the firm to a fine of up to $5,000 and its officers to jail terms of up to two years.
Paul Rath, current manager of Web Printers, said he was not manager of the firm at the time of the Dun & Bradstreet interview and has not represented the printer as being connected with the university. He said Web “applied for credit with various suppliers for paper, ink and so forth,” but had not sought credit or a loan from a lending institution.
And Rath commented, “It must not be much of an [FBI] investigation; they haven't contacted me about it.”
Iowa State's Henry said the university asked for a federal investigation because “we are very concerned any time someone represents themselves as part of the university. It is possible for someone to use our good name to obtain a better [credit] rating. We're concerned mostly because we've been told by several sources that this organization, Iowa Web Printers, has been representing itself as affiliated with the university in other areas.”
In an interview, Henry said, “We aren't viewing this as any kind of action against those people. We would do this in the case of anyone claiming affiliation with the university for the purpose of obtaining credit.”
In a later, undated article apparently from the Ames Daily Tribune
(though there is no attribution on my copy), staff writer Vickie LoPiccolo wrote
about the end of the investigation of Iowa Web Printers.
Following an Investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office found no federal violation by the Iowa Web Printers, 204 North Oak St.…
Last summer, Iowa Web Printers manager, Paul Rath, said the business has “no motivation” to say it is affiliated with ISU. “I know for sure,” Rath said, “I never gave reason to believe we're affiliated with ISU.”
…When asked how he thought Dun & Bradstreet could have gotten the impression Iowa Web was affiliated with the university, Rath said, “I don't know. We are in Ames and we print a college newspaper.” Today's Student, a national religiously oriented newspaper, has been printed by Iowa Web Printers.
Such a statement made to a chartered or federally insured bank would violate provisions of a federal law regarding false statements in a loan or credit application, according to Henry's letter.
In a Nov. 21 memo to Henry, [U.S. Attorney] Conlin said, “Our review of the records of Dun & Bradstreet indicate that there is at present no federal violation. We have therefore closed our file unless and until something further develops.”
“If Iowa Web Printers is in fact making representations concerning its affiliation with the university,” she continues, “it is doing so in a manner, perhaps by design, that avoids federal jurisdiction.”
…Henry said in this and another instance where Iowa Web Printers or Today's Student reportedly “tried to use the name of the university in a business relationship,” the university was able to set the record straight and “the university's standing in a financial sense was not adversely affected.”
A Nov. 16 memo from J.W. Schwartz, president, ISU Press Board of Directors, to Henry said the printing superintendent at the Iowa State University Press received a call from a supplier of typesetting and related equipment asking whether Today's Student belonged to the University Press, was housed in the Press Building, or was connected with the university. The answer to all three questions was no.
The memo says it is not clear why the firm was inquiring - “something to the effect that Compugraphic was trying to get its records straight.”
The memo from [Carl] Hamilton [ISU's vice president for information and development] to Henry says, “Iowa Web Printers is staffed totally - insofar as our experiences would indicate - by staff members of the ISU Bible Study Group and is the publisher of Today's Student.”
Last summer Rath said although the newspaper has offices in the printing building, the newspaper and printing business have separate staffs.
When asked if any situations similar to the one with Iowa Web Printers has been brought to the university's attention in the past, Henry said, “Not that I know of.”
It would be in keeping with longstanding Blitz practice to avoid
telling actual untruths about an alleged relationship between Iowa Web Printers
and Iowa State University, but to be vague enough so that others would be likely
to make such a connection. It is possible that no one from Iowa Web Printers explicitly
claimed affiliation with the university. It is more likely that the printer's
manager could have said something to the effect that “We are associated with ISU,”
meaning simply that several staff members were students at the university, or that
several hundred or thousand copies of Today's Student were distributed
on the campus. Such a vaguely worded statement would have been considered entirely
justified with the unspoken clarification in mind. (See a similar account on pages
Other Blitz-related Organizations in Ames
Besides the Ames Fellowship Church and ISU Bible Study, the Blitz
group in Ames, Iowa, also created several other local organizations.
Already mentioned above in connection with the publishing of college-oriented newspapers, The Higher Education Opportunity Service was a non-profit umbrella organization set up to handle sales of books and tapes, as well as publish newspapers, arrange Bible conferences, and other projects. Its annual income “grew from $1,500 in 1974 to more than $106,000 in 1978,” according to an article in the March 9, 1980, Des Moines Sunday Register. The article (“Bible group has links to other organizations”) continued, “Tax documents list Bible Study founder James D. McCotter as an officer and director of THEOS.”
As mentioned above, Iowa Web Printers Inc. was a subsidiary of
THEOS, and, also as mentioned above, THEOS was the official publisher of the newspaper
Life Herald for the two years of its run, and then published Today's Student.
According to the Register article, the Communication Forum, “headed
by Bible Study members Craig Coria and Roopchand Mohunlall, was created after the
Iowa State Daily student newspaper printed articles about Bible Study. Forum lobbied
unsuccessfully to take student fees away from the Daily. Coria now is managing editor
of Today's Student. Mohunlall is a member of the Iowa State publications board.”
This was the original name of ISU Bible Study, the campus arm of
the Blitz group in Ames. Alpha Omega (or A & O, as it was commonly called) actually
predated the formal establishment of the Ames Fellowship Church, or rather the use
of that name to describe the Ames Blitz church. The group owned or rented a fraternity
house off Lincoln Way across from the ISU campus. They named this facility the “A
& O House.” Several members of the group lived in this house, and it was used
for Bible studies and worship meetings. According to the Register article,
“Residence director at the house was Linda Kellogg, wife of Bible Study member C.
Gary Kellogg, who is listed on tax documents as vice president and director of THEOS.”
Students for Origins Research
The Register wrote,
A student organization that shares an office with Bible Study on the Iowa State University campus, this group promotes the so-called “scientific creationist” theory and has lobbied to have creationism taught in schools in addition to or instead of evolution. Its president is Ron Lee, a Bible Study member and chairman of the university's publications board, which governs the student newspaper.
The Society for the Advancement of Intellectual Honesty
This organization dates from at least 1973. When I was visiting the Ames group with a contingent of Blitz members from Columbus, Ohio, at Christmastime 1973, there were notices around the ISU campus advertising a lecture to be given by Jim McCotter under the auspices of SAIH. When the organization was founded, who its officers were, and how long it existed are all unknown to me at this time.
Influencing Non-Blitz Media
As mentioned above, the Communication Forum was founded in response
to that first series of articles about ISU Bible Study that was published in the
Iowa State Daily in 1977 and 1978. In one of two articles in the Ames Daily
Tribune, apparently published shortly after a Forum-initiated referendum
on student funding of the ISU Daily (though my copies have no dates), staff
writer Richard Haugh wrote:
A group that was seeking a stop to Government of the Student Body funding of the Iowa State Daily appears to be related to other campus religious groups the Daily has been investigating, although officials of the group say it isn't.
Members of a group called Communications Forum were on campus earlier this week passing out leaflets urging students to vote no on a referendum question about funding the Daily. The question said students purchase a subscription to the paper from their activity fee and asked if the voter supports funding in that manner.
A tally of the votes showed a 3-to-1 margin of voters in favor of continued funding from activity fees.
The article went on to say that Craig Coria, president of Communication Forum, had members of ISU Bible Study volunteer to pass out the leaflets. Further, it said that “many of the persons passing out the leaflets said they were not students.” It would be entirely consistent with Blitz practice throughout the years to encourage non-student members of the local Blitz church to participate in on-campus activities of the Blitz-related campus organization.
According to Haugh,
Earlier this spring, Coria asked the GSB senate during a regular meeting not to purchase Daily subscriptions through the students' activity fees. At that time the GSB suggested putting the request into referendum for spring elections.
Several weeks later Doug Marks of the Office of Student Life at ISU called [journalism professor and advisor to the ISU Daily Ed] Blinn and asked him if the Daily was anti-religion, Blinn said. Marks said members of Communication Forum had approached Dean of Students Jon Dalton complaining the Daily was against certain Christian groups, Blinn said.
Communication Forum also sent a letter to J.K. Hvistendahl, head of the ISU journalism department, complaining about the poor quality of the Daily.
Haugh concluded by citing ISU vice president for information and development Carl Hamilton as saying that officials of the university were aware of these actions, but since so far no rules had been violated ISU was planning no action of its own at that time.
The Ames Daily Tribune published a companion article on
page 12, entitled “Daily referendum apparently linked to articles on religious groups.”
The article referred back to an ISU Daily article published on September
28, 1977, that reported on improper religious solicitation tactics used by members
of ISU Bible Study. That article quoted the ISU Guide to Residence Hall Living,
which stated that “solicitation, selling, advertising, or petitioning of any kind
are not allowed in the residence halls or dining rooms.” One particularly egregious
incident reported by the ISU Daily was as follows:
In Lawther House two women were going door-to-door. According to Nancy McClure, Lawther House RA, the women stopped at a triple room and told the one freshman who was home that her two roommates had agreed to hold a “Lawther House” Bible study in their room.
The women proceeded to tell all the other girls on the floor that there would be a Bible study in the triple at 7 o'clock that evening. When the other two roommates returned they said that they had not made such an agreement. They notified McClure who escorted the women out of the dorm.
The Ames Daily Tribune also referred back to the 3-part series in which the ISU Daily reported on finding apparent financial and membership connections between THEOS and ISU Bible Study. The unidentified reporter wrote, “THEOS officials denied any connection to ISU Bible Study, but the Daily revealed that names of several ISU Bible Study officials appeared on THEOS's articles of incorporation.” The article continued by mentioning other connections between various allegedly independent organizations, showing they all share ties with ISU Bible Study.
A later attempt on the part of Ames Blitz members to influence the ISU Daily involved getting Bible Study members to serve on the ISU publication board. As already indicated above, Bible Study member Ron Lee was chairman of the publication board and Bible Study member Roopchand Mohunlall was a member of the board. Besides these two, others were, or sought to become, members of the board. A March 13, 1980 Des Moines Register article told of four ISU Bible Study members who were ruled ineligible to serve on the publication board by District Judge Paul Hellwege. The four ruled ineligible included Lee and Mohunlall, as well as Gretchin Willis and Michael DeVey. Two others whose ouster had been sought were allowed to remain on the board. They were C. Sherman Severin and Marthina Greer. Though the four ruled ineligible were all members of ISU Bible Study, their membership in the group was not cited as the reason for their removal from the publication board. Rather, “three of [them] were ineligible because they represented undergraduate students, yet had received bachelor degrees. The fourth member was ineligible because he was representing graduate students and had received a master's degree.”
Media Activities in Maryland
As noted above, the Blitz group in Ames, Iowa, published several newspapers, the last of which was Today's Student. Today's Student was printed in Ames on presses of Iowa Web Printers, Inc., which in turn was a subsidiary of The Higher Education Opportunity Service, which itself was an organization founded by Ames Fellowship Church. The last three or four issues of Today's Student were published out of offices in San Clemente, Calif., after McCotter, the Today's Student staff, and others moved there in January 1980.
By 1981 McCotter and Dennis Clark had moved to Norman, Okla., where McCotter replaced Rick Harvey as elder in the Norman church (all the other elders had also resigned, some under pressure), declaring himself to be “the elder in Norman.”
In Norman McCotter and company shifted to magazine publishing with the founding of The Cause. (See the section entitled “Editorial Hopscotch,” pages 151-152, for detailed information of the apparent capriciousness that characterized the production of this publication.) Sometime during the summer or fall of 1983 McCotter and company moved to Maryland, where they continued to publish the magazine.
The first, “demo issue” of a new attempt at publishing a “national newspaper” appeared on October 3, 1983, with America Today, “The Nation's Weekly.” This paper seems to have undergone a name change before it actually got off the ground and made its formal debut as U.S. Press, apparently in the last week of February 1984, with Jim McCotter as Publisher, Tom Short as Executive Editor, and Kirk Kidwell as Managing Editor. Subscription was offered at $25.00 per year. Publication ended sometime in 1985.
America Today's first Managing Editor, Rick Whitney, was interviewed in the February 1984 issue of The Cause. Under the heading “America Today: Winning the lost” is the following typical exaggeration: “This exciting new weekly newspaper is well on its way to becoming the gospel tool of the century.”
In answer to the first question put to him - “To start our interview, Rick, could you describe America Today?” - Whitney began by saying, “America Today is perhaps the most unique newspaper in the U.S.” He continued, “While most Christian publications are aimed at instructing and encouraging Christians, America Today is a weekly newspaper aimed at presenting the gospel to those who don't know Christ. That's what makes America Today unique.”
The second question asked was, “Tell us some of the history behind America Today; how did the paper get started?” Whitney replied by referring back to the founding of the Blitz' earlier newspaper, Today's Student. In his answer he said, “In about three years Today's Student mushroomed from a circulation of 10,000 to 500,000 on 130 university campuses with an estimated readership of one and one half million. That's a circulation the size of Time magazine's student circulation! For various reasons Today's Student suspended publication in 1980.69 But now, with the need even greater than ever, we have decided to start publishing again under a new name, America Today.”
In answer to the question “Where will America Today be distributed?” Whitney replied, “The list of places to distribute America Today is almost endless. We've thought of schools, factories, neighborhoods, apartment complexes, grocery stores, airports, bus stations, and doctors' offices, to name just a few. Our goal is to have the newspaper on every major and minor campus and every military base in the U.S., as well as in thousands of neighborhoods, factories and office buildings, in the next two years…”
While the “demo issue” had appeared in October 1983, formal publishing had not yet commenced as of this interview. Whitney stated in the interview, “We'll start [publishing] as soon as we have orders for 100,000 copies. That is the minimum circulation we need to finance the paper. We are receiving orders every day and hope to start printing at the end of January or the first part of February.”
Whitney was next asked, “Why does the demo issue of America Today
resemble USA Today?” Whitney answered:
There was considerable debate in the office about the type of masthead or logo to use for America Today. We felt there were several elements in USA Today's style that were excellent and that we wanted to incorporate in designing America Today. However, the demo issue was merely a mock-up to give people who had never seen Today's Student a feel for the vision and quality (both in style and content) of our publication. When we begin publishing there will be significant changes in the masthead and the front page, as we have the staffing to develop our own unique style through the first few issues.
The final question posed to Whitney was, “Rick, what do the prospects for success look like?” After comparing the Old Testament Philistines to the contemporary “unbelievers and humanists” and recalling how King Saul's son Jonathan “single-handedly routed the entire army,” Whitney says, “It's my prayer that God will use a few of us nobodies with our sword, America Today, to totally rout and defeat the enemy.”
Whether it was God's plan or not, a few months later America Today had become U.S. Press, and Rick Whitney was out as Managing Editor and Kirk Kidwell was in. About a year and half later, as of April 1985, U.S. Press was gone, too. But before the demise of U.S. Press there was a barrage of promotional hype for it.
In the May 1984 issue of The Cause, Jim McCotter wrote in his regular column, “A personal note from Jim,”
This publication, The Cause, is important. If I were you, I would subscribe every Christian I knew. However, one publication that is for everyone (believer, seeker, and nonbeliever), that can saturate the whole state of Nebraska, our state, and every other state with truth is U.S. Press, the weekly, national newspaper with a Judeo-Christian base.
A few years ago we saturated every major university campus in America with a university newspaper called, Today's Student. Now we want to do that and more! We plan to put U.S. Press on every university campus and in every city in America.
There are only a few thousand believers reading The Cause. U.S. Press will be read by everyone. Literally millions will read it every week. Already U.S. Press has an estimated one-quarter million readers in over 55 cities. But this is just the beginning…
…In short, the very best way you could help may be to commit a large sum of money monthly to the only national evangelical newspaper, U.S. Press, and then distribute it in your neighborhood or on your campus. We must all join hands until U.S. Press is on every campus…U.S. Press in every city…U.S. Press covering every home in your city.
I am not asking money for myself. I am asking you to join me in monthly purchasing and distributing U.S. Press. My wife and I set aside $5 each week to purchase 50 papers which we distribute in our neighborhood. It's not a lot, but we know that it will have an impact on our neighbors…
In the following issue of The Cause, while McCotter was on vacation, the magazine's editors wrote his usual column. In it they wrote, “We must continue to pray that U.S. Press would quickly become the sledgehammer that God wants it to be in reaching this nation with the gospel.” In the August 1984 issue of The Cause “The Staff” wrote, “If all of you pray for, buy, and distribute U.S. Press, we are going to see the Press explode on this country with His truth.” The next month McCotter wrote in his column, “The paper is stirring more and more interest from Christian as well as non-Christian media alike. Our goal is to have it saturate every city in the nation. 300,000 weekly readers is hardly scratching the surface, but it is a start and an encouraging one in only five months running.” The “U.S. Press Update” in the October 1984 issue of The Cause began with the question and answer, “Quiz! Question #1: What is the name of the seventh largest weekly newspaper in the U.S.? Answer: U.S. Press!!! Praise God!” It went on, “We are indeed growing. If you will notice, the number of cities we are distributing in is growing each week. Look out USA Today!” Promotion Manager Tom Schroeder concluded the column, “We are in a spiritual warfare: the devil hates our paper! God loves it. It is His.” In November 1984 Schroeder wrote, “Although U.S. Press is flourishing and has grown tremendously in the last few months, we remain in a spirit of desperation. Our jump in circulation to over 100,00070 is a testimony to God's great power and wisdom. We are indeed thankful, but we are desperate to grow still more and more and cover the nation with the good news of Jesus Christ… Our paper is on the cutting edge of the spiritual battle in our country. Don't be deceived. U.S. Press is a powerful weapon against the gates of Hell. Together we will succeed.”
In the above citations note the use of highly emotive terms: “saturate,” “literally millions,” “one-quarter million readers,” “every campus,” “every city,” “every home,” “sledgehammer,” “explode,” “cutting edge,” etc. It is quite unlikely that U.S. Press ever had “one-quarter million readers” (or “300,000 weekly readers”) at any point in its brief history. This figure was likely arrived at by taking the number of papers printed in one edition and multiplying it by three or more on the unsubstantiated assumption that that many people would be reading each copy printed. Jim McCotter is notorious for giving highly inflated figures for all sorts of things. A recent example concerns a tabloid newspaper, The Christchurch Citizen, that he started in Christchurch, New Zealand, in July 2001. One former employee of McCotter's New Zealand Media Group told me that in a prominent position below the masthead on page one he had claimed a readership of 30,900, when in fact the readership was more like 1,600. The employee repeatedly urged him to change the figure to reflect the reality, which he finally did, but only after someone pointed out to him that the truth could be discovered through an audit of the company's records. (For more on the New Zealand story see “Déja Vu All Over Again,” below.)
By the way, some may find it a bit hypocritical that McCotter was calling on his followers “to commit a large sum of money monthly” to U.S. Press when he was giving only $20 a month to it.
Despite McCotter's dream
of getting U.S. Press “on every campus… in every city… [and] covering
every home in [every] city” it proved to be a miserable failure. In April 1985 Tom
Schroeder announced the demise of U.S. Press and the inauguration of Today's
American and Potential. (According to the table of contents in the
April 1985 issue of The Cause, Potential was originally given the
name Alive. Under an entry for “U.S. Press Update” it reads “Tom Schroeder
explains how U.S. Press is expanding into two exciting new publications;
Alive and Today's American.”) Schroeder's article, written
in typical Blitz/GCI hype, follows:
I don't know if you realize what a publishing miracle U.S. Press is! In just one year of printing, with a small grassroots staff and little capital, U.S. Press has captured a quarter million readers in over 100 cities across America. That's just flat amazing!
In fact, our readers like our content so much that they are demanding more - more in-depth coverage of the news, especially more analysis of controversial news issues, plus more in-depth coverage of the moral/spiritual/ Christian news… the “Good News.”
In order to give more in-depth coverage in both areas, we've decided to diversify into two dynamic publications - TODAY'S AMERICAN and POTENTIAL. Both will be full-color, monthly magazines; both will be on the cutting edge of the spiritual battle at this strategic time in our country's future.
TODAY'S AMERICAN will be a conservative magazine for the reader who wants to know the “why” behind the news. It will have probing, in-depth coverage of national and international issues and the people behind them, plus advertising from local testmarkets [sic].
POTENTIAL will be a unique, winsome, evangelistic tool that even the most inexperienced Christian can use to reach the people around him for Jesus Christ. It will answer tough questions like “Why am I here?” and “Where am I headed?” and give readers a fresh look at life's basics from a moral, spiritual perspective. With a crystal clear presentation of the way of salvation in each issue, POTENTIAL will be a spiritual sledgehammer that you can use to tear down Satan's stronghold in the hearts of men to win them to Christ!
If you are a subscriber to U.S. Press, your subscription will automatically transfer - you will receive both TODAY'S AMERICAN and POTENTIAL. If not, you can subscribe by marking the enclosed mail-in card. You will be billed later.
If you have been distributing U.S. Press in your neighborhood and would like to continue to distribute POTENTIAL magazine, contact your U.S. Press supplier for information and bulk prices.
Potential enjoyed an existence of only a few years before
it, like all other Blitz/GCI publications, vanished into the ether. Today's American
seems not to have made it through the birthing process.
A case study in publishing instability in the offices of
The (Christian) Cause, a magazine published by Great Commission International
and its antecedent entities from spring 1982 through winter 1988.
Jim McCotter was listed as “Publisher and Editor” of The Cause at least from Vol. 1 No, 3 (hereinafter written 1/3) (1982) through 3/9 (1985), except 1/5 (1983) where he is listed simply as “Publisher.” At least from 4/5 (1986) McCotter and Dennis Clark are named as “Publishers” through 4/6.
Clark is listed as “Associate Editor” through at least 3/9 (1985). From at least 4/5 through 4/6 he is listed with McCotter as a “Publisher.” With the appearance of 4/7 both McCotter and Clark fall off the masthead and remained off for the remaining life of the magazine.
Geoffrey Botkin is listed as “Editor” at least from 1/3 through 2/2, though with 2/2 David Bovenmyer is added as “Managing Editor” above Botkin. Through at least 3/9 Botkin is listed as “Senior Editor.” By 4/5 (1986) Botkin had disappeared from the masthead. (Through 2/2 it seems that The Cause had two editors, McCotter and Botkin.)
1/3 and 1/4 list Victoria Botkin as “Assistant to the Editor.” She is gone with the publication of the next issue. A new staff category appears with 2/1: “Editorial Associates.” First holders of this title were David Bovenmyer, Rob Irvine, Jan Warren, and Sharon Green. As of the very next issue only the latter two were still in this position, with Bovenmyer named to his new post as “Managing Editor” and Irvine dropped from the masthead. In the next issue (2/3) Jan Warren is no longer listed as an “Editorial Associate.” In her place was Norbert Dickmann (whose name is variously spelled with one or two “n's” in his several appearances on the masthead beginning with 2/1). In the next issue (2/4) Janet Maxim replaced Green as “Editorial Associate”; Green moved on to “Circulation,” which had been handled by Owen McGeehon when The Cause was based in Norman, Oklahoma, then by Dickman(n) after the move to Silver Spring, Maryland (when Dickman(n) moved to “Editorial Associate” in 2/3, “Circulation Director” dropped from the masthead, apparently unfilled until Sharon Green moved there with 2/4). With the next issue (2/5) the position of “Editorial Associate” was abolished (along with Janet Maxim). Instead, Norbert Dickan(n) is listed as “Frontlines Editor,” a position he held at least through 2/10 (1984) - by 3/2 (1985) the job was gone and so was Dickman(n), although the job (but not Dickman(n)) makes a brief reappearance with 3/9, but is gone again by 4/5.
“Production” is another staff position that saw many changes in personnel. In 1/3 and 1/4 Anita Powers is listed as “Production Director.” The position vanished by 1/5. With the move to Maryland the function of “Production” was taken over by Colleen McKernan and Janet Prosser. In the next issue (2/2) both girls' names were gone, replaced by those of Mary Collier and Mark Fisher. The next issue (2/3) had McKernan re-appearing, displacing Fisher. With 2/4 McKernan and Collier were joined by Diane Johnson, but by 2/5 Johnson was replaced by Jodi Smith. This line-up (McKernan, Collier, Smith) remained in place until 2/9, at which time “Production” was in the hands of Jodi Smith, Joe Konczal, and John Carrico. By 3/2 Smith was gone and Ben Cornatzer was in her place. This arrangement didn't last 1ong - by 3/6 all three men were out and Colleen McKernan was back, along with Phil Kushin and Rita Patton. Patton was missing from the very next issue's lineup, replaced by Greg Evers. With 3/9 McKernan was handling “Production” single-handedly and Phil Kushin had moved to the revived job of “Frontlines Editor.” By 4/5 the job of “Production Manager” had been created (filled by Lynn Allen) with “Production” being occupied by McKernan along with newcomers Ken Sharpless and Greg Plantamura (Phil Kushin had advanced to one of three “Associate Editors”). Also by 4/5 Janet Prosser, listed in “Production” for 2/1, had re-appeared in the new post of “Marketing Director” which she held through 4/9, after which the job was abolished and Prosser moved to “Circulation Manager,” which had been held by David Murray since 3/7. The masthead of the very next issue (4/6) has the addition of Tim Landwermeyer to the production team of Allen, McKernan, Sharpless, and Plantamura - all but McKeraan were gone (including Allen and the job of “Production Manager”) by the very next issue (4/7). McKernan continued to hold the post alone until at least 6/3, though her title changed to “Production Artist” with 5/4.
David Bovenmyer had a lengthy tenure as “Managing Editor,” continuing from 2/2 (1984) through 4/9 (March/April 1987), with a one-issue stint (4/6) as “Publications Director,” taking over from Tom Schroeder, who held the post since its creation between 3/2 and 3/6. The job disappeared after 4/6 until it re-appeared with 6/1, with Bovennyer again in the position.
When McCotter relinquished the post of “Editor” to be listed (with Clark) simply as “Publisher” (by 4/5), Tom Short became “Editor,” a job he left with 5/1 (May/June 1987). At that time Bovenmyer became “Editor” and Patrick Shannon was named “Managing Editor” as well as “Art Director,” which he had been already from 2/10 (although in 3/7 through at least 3/9 Shannon was listed simply as “Graphic Artist” and Lynn Allen was “Art Director). With 5/3 the job of “Managing Editor” went to Phil Kushin (who had gone from “Frontlines Editor” to “Associate Editor” between 3/9 and 4/5).
A new position of “Assistant Editor” made its first appearance with 2/10 (1984) filled by Barbara McGeoch, who held the job through 3/6 (1985), when she was replaced by Sara Pecina. Between 3/9 and 4/5 this title was discontinued, and so was Pecina.
When publishing began in Norman in Spring 1982 the name of this magazine was The Cause. With 4/7 (1986) (the issue, coincidentally, when McCotter and Clark dropped from the masthead) the name was changed to The Christian Cause.
Frequency of publication, as stated in 1/3 and 1/4, was “semimonthly” (though, in fact, it was bi-monthly). In 1/5 this had become “every eight to twelve weeks,” in 2/2 it was “every six weeks” (this lasted through 2/4). From 2/5 through at least 3/9 publishing frequency was “monthly.” Finally, from at least 4/5 through at least 6/3 and probably until publication ceased around the end of 1988, frequency was “bimonthly.”
Subscription rates varied even more then the frequency of publication.
Initially (at least from 1/3 through 1/5) the rate was $14 for 15 issues. From 2/1
through 2/9 the rate went to $14 for only 12 issues. The rate was hiked again from
2/10 through at least 3/9 to $19 for 12 issues. At least from 4/5 through 4/6 the
rate was $9.95 a year (6 issues). The very next issue (4/7) the rate rose to $11.95
for 6 issues; then mysteriously it returned to $9.95 for 6 issues with the very
next issue (4/8) but stayed there for only one more issue (4/9), after which it
rose with the very next issue (5/1) to $13.95 for 6 issues. Subscribers who held
off until the very next issue (5/2) got a significant price break as the rate descended
again to $9.95 for 6 issues, and remained there through at least 6/3 and possibly
until the magazine folded near the end of 1988.
Investing in a Radio Station
Great Commission Inc. established The Best Deal, Inc., (BDI) on March 7, 1985, with Tom Schroeder as President as well as one of the directors. Other officers of BDI were Jim McCotter (Director), Rogers Kirven (Director and Treasurer), and Bob Bryden (Corporate Secretary [as indicated on an “Agreement to Purchase” dated April 15, 1986]). Later, Bryden was listed as Vice President and John Hopler as Secretary. On a State of Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, Corporate Assessment Division form (“Personal Property Return as of January 1, 1987”) these positions had all changed. Only two names appear on the form: John R. Hawkins as Director and President, and A. Raymond Namie as Director and Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. In addition, the form indicates that the “nature of business conducted” was “Publication of Advertising Newsletter.”
In a seeming diversion from this stated “nature of business,” on December 24, 1985, BDI bought assets of radio station WWCN in Albany, N.Y. (a “ 'Restated Note' and related security interests”) from Citibank of New York State. As described in an investigative report prepared in 1990 by KANE Associates International, Inc., of Alexandria, Va.,
Information developed by Operations [i.e., KANE staff] indicates that GCI used BDI to acquire assets of radio station WWCN in Albany, New York. In what can only be described as a confusing and protracted investment, BDI purchased a series of promissory notes, secured by real estate and radio station assets, from companies and banks involved with radio station WWCN. On or about February 1, 1985, Northeastern Communications, Inc. (Northeastern), purchased radio station WWCN from Devine Broadcasting Corp. (Devine). Attached as Exhibits R and S71 are the histories of the Citibank and Small Business Administration promissory notes. Exhibits R and S are from and [sic] FCC filing dated April 28, 1987, by Team One Radio, Inc. (Team One).
Attached as Exhibit T is a copy of an asset purchase agreement by and between BDI and GCI. Exhibit T is from the above referenced Team One FCC filing. It indicates that BDI gave the promissory notes outlined in Exhibit S, and right and title to the trade name Alpha Capital used by BDI, to GCI in exchange for $120,000 cash and forgiveness of $122,371.28 in loans to BDI by GCI. Exhibit I shows that Alpha Capital Corporation was incorporated two days after it was purchased by GCI from BDI.
Attached as Exhibit U is a copy of GCI affiliate descriptions from the Team One FCC filing dated April 28, 1987. Paragraph 3 of Exhibit U indiates [sic] that GCI sold BDI to two of its employees on December 31, 1986. Exhibit Q indicates that the officers of BDI in 1987 were John R. Hawkins as President and A. Raymond Namie as Vice President. Operations believes these were the two employees to whom BDI was sold.
On or about May 22, 1986, Northeastern entered into a purchase agreement with Team One to sell radio station WWCN. As part of the terms of the agreement, GCI was paid the principal and interest of the promissory notes it held. Because GCI had for some time contested the value being placed on the notes, they agreed to enter into arbitration with Northeastern. Because of this arbitration agreement, the remainder of the purchase price, several hundred thousand dollars, has been placed in escrow. Operations was advised by Carol Keene, a principal in Northeastern, that shortly before arbitration was to commence, GCI/McCotter withdrew and filed a lawsuit in district court in Albany, New York. Ms. Keene advises that this litigation is still underway [i.e., in 1990].
Exhibit R mentioned above briefly describes a history of lawsuits
and judgments related to loans, liens, security, and promissory notes associated
with radio station WWCN in Albany, N.Y. Among the items noted are the following:
- Citibank (New York State) N.A. (“Citibank”) was given a blanket security agreement in all of the assets of Devine Broadcasting Corporation (“DBC”) on August 9, 1984, to secure future advances made, which totaled about $150,000.00… DBC at the time was owner of the Station and thus Citibank's lien attached to the Station…
- …In an order entered on or about May 22, 1986 (the “Citibank Judgment”) the Court, in issuing summary judgment, held that all Station assets were subject to the Citibank lien, and that the Citibank lien had first priority against the Station…
- On or about May 30, 1986, GCI purchased from Citibank the May 22, 1986 Judgment, and the underlying debts and security interests…
- GCI has continued to hold the Citibank Judgment up through the present [April 28, 1987].
Exhibit S mentioned above refers to “various transactions which
resulted in a promissory note (the “SBA Note”) payable to the U.S. Small Business
Administration in an original principal amount of $576,000.00.” Exhibit S says that
“The SBA Note was secured against the assets of the Station [i.e., WWCN], and was
ultimately assigned to GCI.” Further, Exhibit S also noted:
- Prior to October of 1984 the Chemical Bank of New York, New York had loaned money (the “October Mountain Loan”) to a prior owner of the Station, October Mountain Broadcasting Company, Inc. (“October Mountain”), which loan was guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”). Ultimately Chemical Bank declared the loan in default and required the SBA to buy the loan pursuant to its guarantee.
- On or about July 1, 1984 Devine Broadcasting Corporation (“DBC”) purchased the station from October Mountain, and as a part of the sale DBC was required to assume payment responsibility on the October Mountain Loan.
- On or about February 1, 1985 DBC sold the Station to Northeastern Communications, Inc. (“Northeastern”). As a part of the sale the SBA required: (a) that the October Mountain loan be restated in the amount of $576,000.00…; (b) that DBC be the maker of the Restated Note, so that DBC and its guarantors would remain liable to the SBA after the sale to Northeastern; (c) that Northeastern assume the Restated Note, with DBC and its guarantors remaining liable on the note; and (d) that the SBA be given a blanket security interest in all the assets of Northeastern, including the Station…
- On or about March 28, 1985 the SBA assigned to DBC the Restated Note and related security, and the assignment was filed with Albany County on 3/26/85…, and with the Secretary of State on 3/25/86…
- On or about December 14, 1986 The Best Deal, Inc. (“BDI”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of GCI, purchased the Restated Note and related security interests from DBC…
- On or about April 15, 1986 BDI assigned all of its interest in the Restated Note directly to GCI, its parent company…
- GCI has continued to hold the Restated Note, and related security interests, up to the present [April 28, 1987]. As of March 15, 1987 the Restated Note has a value of $671,731.48…
- GCI acknowledges that Sellers dispute the validity and value of this note which is the subject of the Arbitration…
The upshot of all this is that before Team One entered into negotiations to purchase radio station WWCN, GCI bought from its own subsidiary The Best Deal, Inc., the above mentioned Restated Note, worth, according to Team One, $671,731.48. In addition to this, BDI in order to “consolidate its business activities,” sold its “right, title and interest in the business activities and opportunities currently being conducted under the trade name of Alpha Capital…” GCI agreed to pay BDI $120,000.00 and forgive loans it had made to BDI totaling $122,371.28.
The Agreement to Purchase in which this sale was described also elaborates on the nature of the business activities BDI had been conducting under the name Alpha Capital. It describes these activities as “certain investment, marketing, consulting, real estate and other business activities…” The KANE report statement quoted above - “Exhibit I shows that Alpha Capital Corporation was incorporated two days after it was purchased by GCI from BDI” - may be accurate since the document in question indicates that “The Articles of Incorporation of Alpha Capital Corporation have been received and approved by the state Department of Assessments and Taxation this 17th day of April, 1986, at 11:50 A.M.” However, the document was actually drawn up on April 16, 1986, which indicates even greater alacrity on the part of GCI in making Alpha Capital one of its directly owned and operated businesses, rather than operating it indirectly through another company (BDI).
The incorporation document gives the names and addresses of Alpha
Capital's directors as James D. McCotter (6927 Mink Hollow Road, Highland, Maryland
20777) and Dennis L. Clark (6729 Mink Hollow Road, Highland, Maryland 20777). The
name and address of the “incorporator” was Rogers W. Kirven, Jr. (6525 Belcrest
Road, Suite G-1, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782 - which was actually the address of
Great Commission, Inc.).
Owning and Operating Radio Stations
On May 2, 1986 - thus about two weeks after GCI incorporated Alpha Capital - Alpha Capital bought radio station WNTR-AM of Silver Spring, Md., at auction. The purchase price was $755,000. Michael Fox Auctioneers accepted a down payment of $75,000, with the balance to be paid “when and if FCC approval is obtained for the Application” for the transfer of the broadcast license. By the way, on the conditional bill of sale Rogers Kirven is referred to as the “president” of Alpha Capital Corp. Also, on the application filed with the FCC on May 6, 1986, for transference of the broadcast license, Alpha Capital's officers are listed, besides directors McCotter and Clark and President Kirven, as Vince Capobianco (Vice President) and Michael Ellis (Secretary/Treasurer). (Capobianco eventually left the company and GCI.) The application form also shows that GCI owned 100% of the company, and that GCI's directors were McCotter (President), Clark (Vice President), John Hopler (Secretary/Treasurer), Terry Bartley, David Bovenmyer, David Gumlia, and Steve Hogan.
A May 3, 1986, article in the Washington Post announced the sale of WNTR-AM. In addition to giving a brief recent history of the station, writer Jacqueline Trescott described WNTR-AM as “Washington's only news/talk station” and wrote that “Rogers Kirven, president of Alpha Capital, said the station's current format would probably be retained.”
A later article in the Washington Post (no date on my copy,
but after July 1986) reported the on-air resignation of syndicated columnist Lester
Kinsolving from his position as host of an afternoon radio talk program on WNTR-AM.
Writer Jeffrey Yorke wrote that Kinsolving complained of “the station's low
power after sunset and claimed that WNTR's new owner, Alpha Capital Corp., had
not fulfilled promises made when he signed on in July.” According to Yorke, Kinsolving
“Today will be my final broadcast for WNTR, at least for a while if not permanently… I very much regret this… but I've been unable to persuade the owners of this station to move my show up to 2 or 3 p.m. so that most of my listeners will be able to hear the show for more than 45 minutes before we have to reduce power to 43 watts.”
The Silver Spring station's daytime signal is 1,000 watts strong but is reduced to 43.7 watts after sunset under Federal Communications Commission rules. Kinsolving, who signed on weekdays at 4, said the “power outage” at 4:45 kept his fans in Potomac and in Northern Virginia from getting a crisp signal and invited distortion by other stations…
Kinsolving… said WNTR's owners promised to apply for a power increase when he joined the station and that management would provide his show with a producer. He said he had asked management to move up his three-hour program to an earlier starting time to no avail…
…[WNTR's general manager Ed] Graham said the station engineer has just completed the signals range calculations and that an application to the FCC for a power increase would be made within days. Graham expects approval in 60 days.
“What we were asking him to do,” Graham said, “is tough it out for a few months.”
Momentous for the history and future of Great Commission International was Jim McCotter's resignation from the directorship and all leadership roles on September 15, 1986. According to a “Certificate of Board Resolutions” dated that date, “…upon acceptance of the above resignation, the corporation's Board of Directors will consist of Dennis Clark, David Bovenmyer and John Hopler, who shall hold the offices of President, Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively.” McCotter (and Rogers Kirven) ultimately moved to Orlando, Florida, in February 1988.
On or before October 29, 1986, McCotter and Kirven formed a company called Profit Group, Inc., with McCotter as Director and President, and Kirven as Director and Vice President. McCotter owned 7,500 shares of the company and Kirven owned 2,500 shares. Thus McCotter held 75% of the “voting stock” and Kirven the remaining 25%.
Two days after it was incorporated, Profit Group purchased “9,607,84 [This is the figure in the Asset Purchase Agreement - should it be “9,607.84”? - lap] shares of common stock of Robinson Communications of Baltimore, Inc.” for a reported $100,000. At the same time, Robinson “made two Promissory notes payable to [Profit Group], one in the principal amount of [$200,000.00] and the other in the principal amount of [$60,000.00].” Exhibit O in the KANE report states that “On or about November 15, 1986 Roland and Rosanna [Ripamonti], each, loaned $100,000.00 to WITHI [WITH of Baltimore, Inc.] to enable it to purchase radio station WITH (AM)…”72 Thus by October 31 Profit Group had begun a process of acquiring assets and loans which would ultimately lead to its purchase of WITH.
About six months later - on April 14, 1987, to be precise - Profit Group entered into a formal agreement with Robinson to purchase radio station WITH-AM. The agreed upon price was $1,160,000.00. According to the Asset Purchase Agreement (from which the above figures are derived), in fulfillment of the purchase price Profit Group was to surrender the shares of common stock of Robinson it had purchased earlier, as well as “forgive [Robinson's] obligations” on the two promissory notes, on which no payment had yet been made by Robinson to PG. Further, the Asset Purchase Agreement stipulated that Robinson was to give PG a credit in the amount of $63,829.00 “representing the dollar amount that the Station's accounts payable exceeded its accounts receivable as of October 31, 1986.” The balance of the purchase price was to be fulfilled by PG's assumption of Robinson's obligations on a bank loan “in an amount equal to the Closing Balance…”
The same day that Profit Group finalized its purchase of WITH from Robinson Broadcasting it assigned its interest in the radio station to a subsidiary of PG named WITH of Baltimore, Inc. (WITHI) “for unspecified consideration” (the KANE report). The asset assignment agreement is signed by Rogers W. Kirven, Jr., Vice President of Profit Group, Inc., and by James D. McCotter, President of WITH of Baltimore, Inc., with McCotter and Kirven also signing as witnesses to each other's signatures.
A year and a half after purchasing Silver Spring station WNTR, Alpha Capital sold the station on November 5, 1987, to a company known as WNTR of Silver Spring, Inc. (WNTRI). Interestingly, WNTRI's officers included Jim McCotter (Director, Secretary, and owner of 38.25% of the company's stock), Rogers Kirven (Director, President, Treasurer, and owner of 12.75% of the stock), and Robert Ripamonti (Director and owner of 16.33% of the stock). Other stockholders (but not company officers) were Roland Ripamonti and Rosanna Ripamonti (each an owner of 16.33% of the stock). The purchase price WNTRI agreed to pay Alpha Capital for the station was $1,101,148.50. WNTRI paid $107,011.50 in cash on the date of the sale. The remainder of the purchase price would relieve ACC from any and all liability on 9 promissory notes made by ACC to lenders.
An FCC “Ownership Report” dated January 13, 1989, shows the stockholders,
officers, and directors of WITHI as James D. McCotter (Director, President, 38.25%
of stock), Rogers W. Kirven, Jr. (Director, Vice President, Treasurer, 12.75% of
stock), Roland Ripamonti (no office, 12.5% of stock), Rosanna Ripamonti (no office,
12.5% of stock), J. Welles Wilder, Jr. (no office, 12% of stock), and Michael Etchison
(no office, 12% of stock). Besides selling stock in WITHI, the question might be
asked, “Where did the large amount of money come from to enable McCotter et al.
to purchase radio stations?” A partial answer lies in the fact that McCotter received
sizeable loans towards these purchases. According to the KANE report:
Source number 4 reports that McCotter financed the purchase of WNTR with money borrowed from GCI member Michael Etchison and from the father of GCI member Catherine Wilder Cooper, one J. Welles Wilder, Jr. Specifically, Source 4 alleges that McCotter used his authority and position as spiritual leader of GCI to facilitate these and other loans made by GCI members to entities closely associated with McCotter.
Attached as Exhibit O are copies of the contracts for stock purchase by and between McCotter, Kirven, Etchison, and Wilder. Source number 4 believes that the money borrowed from Etchison and Wilder was used by McCotter to make the $107,011.50 payment to ACC recorded in Exhibit M. Source 4 alleges that WNTRI did not, at the time of closing, make the cash payment to ACC of $994,137.00 that would have released ACC from the nine promissory notes. Rather, according to Source 4, WNTRI simply assumed the nine promissory notes, contrary to the language of the contract. Source 4 believes that these promissory notes were by and between ACC and GCI or GCI members. Source 4 alleges that, because of McCotter's standing within GCI as founder and leader, and because of his influence over GCI membership, little or no pressure was placed on McCotter to repay the nine promissory notes assumed from ACC.
Source 4 further says that these promissory notes may have been forgiven in their entirety, without consideration, by the time WNTRI sold radio station WNTR in December 1988. If so, this enabled McCotter to profit from the entire sale price of $1,600,000.00. Operations conducted an exhaustive search of FCC filings relative to GCI activities. Copies of the promissory notes were not submitted to the FCC by GCI or by WNTRI. FCC officials questioned about the missing promissory notes told Operations that they would not have required them to be included unless FCC employees examining the application suspected some irregularities. (FCC officials were unable to explain to Operations how it is that an examiner could come to suspect irregularities without first reviewing necessary supporting documents to the application, such as the promissory notes in this case.)…
Source 4 alleges to Operations that money donated to GCI by GCI members was diverted to and used by ACC. Specifically, Source 4 alleges that, sometime in the first or second quarter of 1986, GCI member Billy Ribar made a donation in the form of a $30,000.00 check made out to GCI. Source 4 says that this money went into an ACC account rather than to GCI.
Exhibit O in the KANE report states that “On or about November 15, 1986 Roland and Rosanna [Ripamonti], each, loaned $100,000.00 to WITHI to enable it to purchase radio station WITH (AM)…” The document also indicates that Roland and Rosanna Ripamonti desired, and received FCC approval, to convert their loans into WITHI stock. Exhibit O also indicates that both J. Welles Wilder and Michael Etchison entered into an agreement with McCotter and Kirven to exchange their stock in radio station WNTR for stock in radio station WITH. In effect, this meant exchanging 50% ownership in WNTR each for 12% ownership in WITH each, according to KANE report Exhibits O and P. The only reason I can think of for why McCotter and Kirven would propose such a deal was so they could acquire full control over WNTR and at the same time maintain control over WITH - with the conclusion of the stock swap, McCotter and Kirven owned 100% of WNTR stock and 51% of WITH stock. Why Etchison and Wilder would agree to such a deal is anybody's guess. Perhaps they expected greater return on their investment if WITH had a more powerful signal than WNTR (see above in the account of Lester Kinsolving's on-air resignation from WNTR.) Or perhaps they agreed to it simply out of loyalty to McCotter (though Wilder himself was not a member of GCI, his daughter Catherine was). Whatever the reason, the deal was done and the stock exchange was made.
Profit Group hired an experienced radio station manager from New York, James DeYoung, to manage its Baltimore station, WITH. DeYoung left a job with a station where he had been earning $100,000 a year to take the job with WITH because it was a Christian-owned radio station, and he saw it as an opportunity to serve the Lord doing something he loved and was good at. However, after four months McCotter fired him and he was left high and dry.
During his brief tenure DeYoung became the victim of three separate
“gang-ups” (see “The Kansas City Purge,” pages 162T). DeYoung talked about his experience
with several former Blitz/GCI leaders in 1988 at the Atlanta home of Mike and Helen
Royal. He said (transcribed from videotape):
The very first gang-up they had on me was… they had Judy and I [unintelligible] all the way down to Washington and meet with Jim [McCotter] and Rogers [Kirven] and Ray Namie and all of our wives, and they ganged up on me and Judy… but they ganged up on me especially, because I was not a man of my word [according to them - lap]. For all my life I've been a man of my word. I'm a totally principled operator.
Paul Martin then said, “Remember the Chinese Communists would say… they would arrest a person, and they would say, 'You're guilty of crimes against the state.' And they would say, 'I haven't committed any crime!' And then the interrogators would say, 'That's the sign that you're guilty. You're an enemy of the state.' ”
That's exactly what Jim did! I mean, I said, “I never gave my word!” And he said, “Don't tell me you didn't give your word.” And Judy was sittin' there, and we talked about it… After they'd had the first gang-up on me… and they did that and destroyed me because of the fact that I was not a man of my word when we'd never given our word. I'm hyper on keeping my word. I'll give my life after giving my word. So that was the first gang-up. And then the second gang-up was when I revealed something to Ray Namie about Ray calling Dick, and the third gang-up was when they released me.
According to DeYoung, the reason he was given for being fired was that he “didn't have a gentle spirit.” McCottter and company didn't even have the courtesy to take DeYoung aside in private to tell him they were letting him go - they fired him in front of his wife! DeYoung got the distinct impression they were trying to divide his wife against him, a common ploy in abusive churches and outright cults to isolate those the leaders consider a threat in some way.
As a result of the shabby treatment he received at the hands of
men he had expected to act in a Christ-like manner, DeYoung suffered several bouts
of heart palpitations, some so severe he was sure he was about to die. He said:
I had three [instances of heart palpitations] in one day. And it came after a day I was talking with my pastor and explaining what had happened to me. I'd had some heart palpitations under pressure when I was runnin' the radio station in New York, but it was just very slight. But this thing came three times in a row in one day after I'd spent all day with my pastor - we were doin' some work together. I asked my wife to take me to the hospital… I was prepared… I thought I was entering eternity right then. [Just now] I was sittin' right over there, and these things… I couldn't determine whether it was my digestive system or what, but I'd just be sittin' there and my whole body would just be goin'… [He gets choked up.]
…I haven't been able to explain it - the doctor couldn't explain it. He said it was adrenalin just punchin' into my heart so fast. I started tryin' to learn relaxation techniques… Well, I'm a little bit under financial stress, but I couldn't explain it. I'm an animal; I'm a hyper-aggressive dude. I'm 47; I've been that way all my life, and I said, “Man, I can't get control of this thing!” I'm drivin' down the road one day, and just blacked out. I drove myself to the hospital and called my wife, and I said, “I'm goin'.” I mean, that was the second time I went to the hospital with it…
…I couldn't understand why yesterday I kept havin' the palpitations all day. It's just I guess rehearsing and going through these things… I just was fightin' it all day. I kept goin' out and taking Tums, because I thought maybe my system was doing somethin'.
Radio Operations in Florida
About the same time that Alpha Capital sold station WNTR to WNTR
of Silver Spring, Inc. (on November 5, 1987), McCotter and Kirven, through their
privately owned Profit Group, Inc., bought the Florida Network from a company called
Susquehanna Broadcasting Company. According to the KANE report, “the Florida Network
distributed news shows and sports programs to sixty radio station affiliates in
Florida.” After purchasing the network, Profit Group changed the company's name
to Florida Radio Network. The KANE report added:
Source 3 advised Operations that the purchase price for Florida Radio Network, Inc., was $800,000. Source 3 further claimed to be aware of two loans by the Ripamonti family to the Profit Group, Inc., for the purchase of Florida Radio Network, Inc., in the amounts of $200,000 and $45,000. Attached as Exhibit EE is a copy of a subsequent amendment to the Articles of Incorporation of Florida Radio Network, Inc., changing its name to Profit Group, Inc. This document, executed on May 15, 1989, shows McCotter and Kirven as the only directors of the corporation. Operations has learned that the Florida Radio Network has recently been sold for an undisclosed price to Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network.
KANE Associates reported that “on or about March 11, 1988, McCotter and Kirven entered into an asset purchase agreement with Charles and Diane Harder to buy Sun Radio Network Corp. (Sun Radio).” (Actually, they only bought a 60% interest in Sun Radio.) Later, as reported in the Orlando Sentinel of June 13-19, 1988, Harder filed a lawsuit against McCotter and Profit Group in Hillsborough County (Florida) Circuit Court, which suit was still pending at the time of the KANE report (August 10, 1990). At issue was “Harder's complaint… that McCotter and Kirven, after making an initial $100,000 payment, failed to abide by the provisions of the asset purchase agreement” (KANE report). In particular, Harder claimed that Profit Group did not pay the bill for satellite time as per the agreement, resulting in Sun's defaulting on its contract with the satellite vendor. As a result of this failure, over forty of Sun's affiliated radio stations were unable to receive Sun's programs.
Writer Susan G. Strother, in her article for the Orlando Sentinel,
…Sun Network is a radio-program syndicator and distributor with 100 affiliates nationwide. Its syndicated talk shows include For the People, a popular consumer-advocacy program that is hosted by Charles Harder.
Neither Kirven nor his attorney, Irving Gastfreund of Washington, would comment on the suit, though both confirmed that Kirven and McCotter had earlier this month rescinded their original purchase offer. McCotter was not available for comment.
Late last year, another Kirven-McCotter venture, Profit Group Inc., purchased the Florida Network from Susquehanna Broadcasting Co. of York, Pa. Florida Radio Network is similar to Sun, though it distributes sports programs, such as Miami Dolphins and University of Florida football games, and informational shows to 60 radio-station affiliates in Florida…
…The lawsuit, filed late last month, stems from a business transaction that was plagued with problems from the start, [the Harders' attorney, Robert] Persante said. The Harders, who founded Sun Network last year, signed the agreement with McCotter and Kirven, assuming that the two men would acquire the network's debts as well as its assets, Persante said.
But that turned out not to be the case. The new owners did not pay debts that now exceed $173,000, according to the lawsuit…
[Diversion of money and assets from Sun Radio Network to Florida Radio Network] took place when Kirven was running the network [i.e., Sun], from March to about mid-May, Harder said. At that time, according to Harder and the lawsuit, Kirven put in place a number of his own employees. Harder, who is now running the network, has since laid off 14 employees to cut costs.
Some of Sun Network's current and former employees were in Orlando at Florida Radio Network offices last week, demanding a week's pay. Bill Glennon, spokesman for the employee group, said the workers had been promised paychecks by Kirven, though they'd been put off for several days. Employees received their checks Friday afternoon, roughly a week later than they had expected, Glennon said…
…The suit asks that the defendants pay Sun Network's bills, pay the Harders the remaining $150,000 of their contract and stop using the Sun Network's funds.
The suit also asks the court to appoint a receiver to conduct the affairs of the network while the legal action is being resolved. Harder said that he had at least one other potential business partner in the wings if he can resolve the legal issues with McCotter and Kirven.
According to the KANE report, “Harder told Operations in a telephone interview that he believed McCotter's intention all along was to buy into Sun Radio, then systematically transfer its assets to Florida Radio Network, Inc., taking Sun Radio's affiliate stations as well.” In a phone call about the time Harder filed his lawsuit, a former employee of both Sun Radio and Florida Radio Network told me that McCotter had transferred her, as well as certain equipment and other assets, from Sun's offices in Tampa to FRN's offices in Orlando, contrary to the terms of the purchase agreement.
In all, Harder's complaint runs to twelve pages and includes
such other charges as that:
McCotter and Kirven divulged to their wholly-owned company (Florida
Radio Network, Inc.) “confidential information… including, but not limited to, affiliate
names, sales, sales volume, sales strategy, business connections, satellite lines,
customers, customer lists, methods and ideas; and have transferred monies placed
in SUN RADIO OF FLORIDA's bank accounts to [FRN's] bank accounts.”
“…[O]n or about May 12, 1988, the defendants caused all FOR THE
PEOPLE, a not-for-profit corporation [Harder's company through which he maintained
40% ownership of Sun Radio], commercials for donations, memberships and profits
to be altered to have all checks for donations, memberships and products be made
out to and be sent to SUN RADIO OF FLORIDA [the company through which McCotter and
Kirven owned 60% of Sun Radio] directly. That at all times material hereto, the
defendants have assumed the duty to fulfill all FOR THE PEOPLE orders for products,
memberships and publications and have not fulfilled many of these orders.”
“…[O]n or about May 19, 1988, [McCotter] refused to allow plaintiff CHARLES E. HARDER to enter the defendant SUN OF FLORIDA's broadcasting facility and thereby prevented CHARLES E. HARDER from broadcasting his shows on that date.”
Two and a half years later, Harder's suit, and a countersuit
filed by McCotter, were still pending.
Back to the Future
Profit Group (i.e., McCotter and Kirven) remained in the radio
business only a matter of about two years. In September 1989 Profit Group returned
to a media form with which Jim McCotter had begun his career in media - it launched
a tabloid newspaper, the Sun, in Ocoee, Fla., an affluent suburb of Orlando.
However, fourteen months later - December 20, 1990 - the Sun burned out.
On January 17, 1991, Jeff Truesdell of an Orlando paper called The Weekly
wrote in an article entitled “How the Sun set”:
Jim McCotter, who pulled the plug December 20 on his hobbled Sun newspapers, no longer glides into the Sun lot in his red Porsche. He still visits the shuttered main office in Ocoee, but these days - perhaps to disguise his presence, or perhaps just to protect the car from vandals - he arrives in another vehicle.
Says one former Sun manager: “He probably has reason to be paranoid.”
Launched 15 months ago with titanic hopes and bigger boasts, the weekly tabloid of neighborhood news grew to 18 editions before layoffs thinned coverage and McCotter's own tactics chased away an ardent buyer - certainly once, perhaps twice. Unwilling to ante up further, he called it quits, forcing the last 96 employees - all of whom were owed at least two weeks' wages - into the street without paychecks five days before Christmas.
Immediately locks were changed and guards posted. Employees who learned of the closing at about 5 p.m. on a Thursday were more or less escorted out. Those who left earlier learned they could return Friday for their belongings. In fact, few have been allowed back inside. As of last week many still awaited overdue pay.
McCotter, a dynamic and self-assured businessman, has yet to offer an explanation. Though engaged for 14 months in a regular exercise of the First Amendment, in the end he handled the press as he did his employees - with silence.
Requests made over a three-week period by telephone, letter and in person for an interview with THE WEEKLY were ignored. Reached late last week at his Windermere home, an agitated McCotter said, “As a rule I generally don't give interviews. I never have.”
He referred the caller back to his office, which directs inquiries to Orlando attorney Doug Bowdin, who relies on the last statement issued by Sun Newspaper Group: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Sun is having to temporarily suspend publishing. This period of temporary suspension begins immediately and will continue until further notice. Management and operation of the Sun Newspaper Group will be reorganized during this period.”
“As the days and weeks pass, there doesn't seem to be much hope, if any, that it will revive itself,” says Doug Hodson, the Sun's former director of operations.
Few ex-employees are waiting for that to happen. And Hodson, along with many others who spoke for this article, says that as long as McCotter is involved, he's not interested. For the one consensus to emerge is this: while likable and confident, McCotter showed little skill with people - and even less for running a local newspaper.
He picked a bad time to try. 1990 was the industry's second year of recession, with tumbling ad revenues prompting layoffs that stung top newsrooms around the nation for the first time in more than a decade.
The publishing experience was not McCotter's first. He has had a longtime involvement with Great Commission Church, an organization that began as part of an evangelical movement that swept college campuses in the 1970s. Through that movement, McCotter has been involved with several Christian publications, says Larry Pile, a former church member who left the movement because he felt it had become too “authoritarian.”
It was as a church leader that McCotter formed a church subsidiary to purchase a Washington, D.C., radio station, says Pile. That station since has been sold to a company that also oversees radio programming for the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Radio also brought McCotter to Orlando with his purchase in late 1987 of Florida Radio Network, a statewide news supplier. Soon after, in February 1988, he set up shop in Florida under the name Profit Group Inc., and began to expand.
He moved first to boost his broadcast base in March 1988 by acquiring Tampa-based Sun Radio Network, a supplier of news and consumer programs. A partner of McCotter's, Rogers Kirven, took over the network for about two months, but the deal collapsed in June when McCotter's team backed out. The seller then filed suit, charging McCotter and Kirven with diverting assets to the Orlando network and failing to make payments on Sun Radio's debts. In a countersuit, McCotter alleged the owner misrepresented the network's finances. Both suits are pending.
About a year later, McCotter's interest turned to print media. At one point, he apparently had talks with George Bailey, owner and publisher of the weekly West Orange Times. Subsequently, McCotter went off to start a competing newspaper - one to reflect his own conservative outlook.
Bailey won't discuss it. “We decided long ago to peaceably coexist with our neighbors to the east,” he says, adding: “When folks are having trouble, I don't want to engage in piling on.”
Meanwhile, McCotter's evolving plan for his Sun newspapers began to attract managers with a rich knowledge of the area market.
His first hire was Hodson, a former manager of the Orange Shopper, a multi-zone giveaway publication that features advertising with almost no editorial content. (The Shopper has since been replaced by THE WEEKLY.)
Hodson helped lure Bill Clifton and Pat McGuffin to McCotter's venture. Clifton, a former manager of the Winter Haven News Chief, became advertising manager. McGuffin, a former editor and publisher of the Apopka Chief, signed on as the Sun's editor-in-chief, but in the four weeks between his first day and the Sun's debut rose above Hodson to the posts of president and publisher.
Led by that team, a skeleton crew prepared the first four Sun papers, each focused on a west Orange community: Apopka, Windermere, Pine Hills and Winter Garden. They hit the front lawns on October 4, 1989.
Expansion came quickly. Two weeks later came four more papers covering the rest of Orange County; the first three of an eventual seven papers in Seminole County followed in November.
“Some of us were kind of dragging our feet, saying, 'Hey, give us a chance and let us at least work on perfecting what we have,' ” says Milt Sanderford, an early sports columnist and assistant to McGuffin. “There were some really embarrasing [sic] mistakes. You hated to see the paper come out.”
But those were early efforts, soon lost in the zealous grab for readers and advertisers; soon the Sun had 18 separate editions. Distribution followed municipal, political, school and shopping patterns. With such narrowly drawn markets, the plan was to offer retailers rates below those of the more widely circulated Orlando Sentinel.
Though the Sun sold in vending boxes for 50 cents, top managers - if not McCotter - knew they were producing a free paper. Subscriptions were voluntary, and throughout its brief life the Sun blanketed lawns at no cost to readers. “I didn't care if we ever got any money out of it from a 'paid' standpoint,” says McGuffin. “We could still be highly successful whether we ever got any subscribers.”
Yet McCotter wanted the money. “He constantly urged and pushed and promoted us to sell subscriptions,” says Hodson. In final printings of about 166,000 copies, that effort produced “probably no more than 5,000 paid.”
Then, in July, the Sentinel unveiled revamped local sections in Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties that represented more reporters, new zones and lower ad rates. Steve Vaughn, the Sentinel's executive editor, portrayed the changes this week as “part of an ongoing effort,” rather than a direct counter.
But it played straight into McCotter's image of the Sun as underdog David in the biblical mismatch with Goliath, a crusading image that became familiar to Sun readers.
That crusade peaked July 12 with a Sun cover story, titled “Newspaper War,” that advanced the Sun as an “alternative voice,” scoffed at the Sentinel's plans and wrongly reported as a conviction the outcome of an early '80s anti-trust suit that forced the Sentinel to sell five weeklies it had acquired in Osceola County. (The suit was settled out of court). No one from the Sentinel was quoted. An accompanying editorial reprised frequent blasts in the Sun accusing the daily of “extremely liberal and biased reporting.”
The timing of the Sentinel effort let McCotter crow, in the Orlando Business Journal, that “we're having an impact.” But that same report also set him off by quoting Fred Fedler, chairman of the UCF journalism department, who criticized the Sun's quality and content after eight months as “a bunch of fluff” - a view Fedler held to the end.
He concluded at the time, “I don't think they deserve to survive.”
“They do not deserve to survive!” screamed the next Sun editorial, comparing Fedler to the “inhumane Nazi fascists of World War II,” finally tagging the professor as “somebody who doesn't have the same values as the local Sun newspaper - God, family and America.”
“Obviously (McCotter) was very conservative and felt that our editorials should reflect a very conservative viewpoint,” says Bill Bradford, formerly the Sun's managing editor.
To Hodson, who sees McCotter's influence as “fundamentalist,” the dictate went further. “There were a lot of opportunities the Sun had to cover things that could have been controversial - a bit more exciting reading, so to speak - but it took the conservative route.” He cites for example “lots of coverage” of the Greater Orlando Coalition Against Pornography.
“They were very even-handed,” says Calvie Hughson, executive director of the two-year-old coalition. And the Sentinel? “Less objective and a little slanted in the opposite direction, mainly in their wording that we are a 'fundamentalist' group, which basically we felt was really trying to paint us as a religious organization… when we are not.” (A month after the Sun's last edition, Hughson was unaware of its demise.)
While the moral crusade at times was obvious, it was not ubiquitous. “I never got any interference,” says Bradford. “Actually, we often were right down the middle.”
The Sun filled its pages with items from schools, libraries and town halls. Cover stories showed McCotter's emphasis on potentially helpful movers-and-shakers over issues, with profiles of men such as Amway President Richard DeVos, supermarket king Jim Gooding and Winter Park hotelier Robert Langford. A Father's Day cover featured Orlando Magic general manager Pat Williams with his family; a May cover displayed faces of high school valedictorians.
Opposing sides clashed in a point-counterpoint feature that let readers participate with a phone poll (a debate on whether to let religious clubs meet on high school campuses brought the most calls; 83 percent said “yes”) that “gave us credibility with both sides,” said Bradford. And there was news, sometimes with impact, as when a report on a dangerous Rouse Road intersection helped speed the state's decision to install a traffic light.
That it was all packaged with church socials and school dinners didn't hurt. “Those were some of the things that the Sentinel wasn't giving readers, and that they liked us for,” says Bradford.
In March, McCotter sold Florida Radio Network to the firm that had purchased his D.C. radio station. In June, he pumped up the Sun's paid subscriber base by about 3,400 by buying and absorbing the seven-month-old Outlook weeklies in Oviedo, Winter Park and Winter Springs. That month, the Sun also formed 18 editorial advisory boards comprising educators, politicians, business leaders and housewives to have an impact on each paper. The boards would be abandoned in August with the paper's first cutbacks.
McCotter used his power of veto sparingly. But his mandates - in or out - ruled, as when he decided to devote the business page to comments by social scientist George Gilder, to run in five parts, the first of which credited U.S. technological advances in part to the nation's moral and religious underpinnings.
“It was ridiculous editorial garbage,” says former regional editor Jayme Kreitman. “In my newspapers in Seminole County, I conveniently forgot to put in the first part. I got in trouble for it.” She corrected her error, but the Sun's abrupt halt cut the series short.
It apparently was at a Christian breakfast that McCotter met Paul Broadhead, the Meridian, Miss., real estate developer and investor who nearly came to the Sun's rescue. Though Broadhead had no previous publishing interests, he formed a subsidiary, General Media, in August, and directed a Maryland-based broker to investigate the purchase of Sun Newspaper Group.
“People were encouraged, because they felt we were going to be owned by somebody bigger, with more money,” says Joe Hoeddinghaus, then the Seminole editor. “That's not a negative on Jim McCotter. Most people just felt it was a good move. I mean, we all knew there was great potential.”
Among some staff, there was also an implied urgency, for the Sun already had laid off 12 employees in production. A day after those firings, a window at McCotter's Profit Group office had been shattered. “That kind of had Jim nervous,” recalled a Sun manager. “So anytime subsequently we had a cutback, he hired security guards.”
In Orlando, General Media agent Dick Smith talked big. The new owners wanted to go twice a week. And the Sun, then printed out-of-town, would have its own press, maybe by Christmas. People began scouting real estate to replace the Ocoee office with one more centrally located.
“They had literally moved in and taken over,” says the manager, who recalls a meeting Smith had at that point with top management. “He really laid into McCotter, saying 'I'm amazed this deal went through. This guy was so greedy.' ”
McCotter, too, was preparing for the transfer. At Profit Group, where the Sun's accounting staff worked, “he literally had people pulling the computers out of the wall and putting them on the lawn,” says the manager. “He'd sold these people. They weren't a part of him any more. He wanted them to get the hell out of his office.” Removed to the Ocoee office, the accounting staff “never forgave him.”
At the same time, ad salespeople had orders to run down as many outstanding bills as they could in the final days before the sale was to close - with up to a 25 percent discount for immediate payment.
“When Smith and General Media found out about this, they hit the roof,” says the manager. In a private conversation, Smith told him: “I can't see us doing business with this guy. He's so unethical.”
Though General Media was listed in September 6 editions as the new owner, the sale never went through.
Weeks passed before the fallout hit. About 30 employees were laid off - the result of a 30 percent reduction order. Keys were collected, and locks changed. McCotter himself named several of those to go, dismaying those who disagreed with his choices. “It sounds funny to say you're president of the company and didn't have any authority,” says McGuffin of his role, “but that's how it worked at that point.”
The highest-paid officers were out. Then-managing editor Bob Nolte was replaced by Bob Bradford, who at the time was the Orlando editor. Seminole editor Hoeddinghaus was laid off but returned as a salesman; his duties fell to Kreitman, a copy editor who received no pay raise for the added work. The Seminole reporting staff, which had to fill seven different papers, shrank from six to four, and then to three.
McGuffin was stripped of his publisher's title, which fell to Clifton, and transferred to Profit Group to seek investors for the paper. None could be found. Sun managers who remained were handed drastic salary cuts - in Hodson's case, $10,000. In October the Clermont paper, the sole Lake County edition, was dropped. In November, the Seminole office was closed.
Hoeddighaus [sic] prayed for a sale. “When you're small and in trouble,” he says, “how else can you bail out?”
Kreitman, frazzled, stayed because “I loved it. Pay is secondary to a lot of things,” she says. “That's what hurts the most. You really work hard for something, and then it's taken away.”
It almost wasn't. Perhaps sensing a better deal in McCotter's desperation, Smith returned. Two days before the end, word filtered to the staff that Smith was in town and “people started getting excited,” says Sanderford.
On that day, editors signed off on the December 20 edition, but it never reached the press. Neither of the two printers would accept the job until they were paid for two previous weeks' work, says Hodson. “It wasn't anything that (McCotter) could come up with.”
When the paper didn't appear that Thursday, the dread increased, until Clifton read the announcement to the assembled Ocoee staff at day's end. Smith, with no agreement in hand, hopped a plane out of Orlando the same day.
McCotter was obvious in his absence when the notice was read. Hodson, the director of operations, had just 15 minutes warning. Bradford, the managing editor, learned the news from a reporter who called him at home. “At that point,” Hodson says, “locksmiths were on hand.”
Maybe McCotter underestimated the high cost of gathering local news. Maybe he miscalculated the risk. Maybe he pushed expansion too quickly, racing ahead of a billing system that couldn't catch up. Maybe his sale requirements overvalued the product. He won't say.
But if, as promised, a newspaper is still to emerge from the wreckage, any potential buyer would acquire only equipment. McCotter's Sun team has scattered.
Some even miss him.
“I like Jim McCotter,” says one. “And that sounds crazy, 'cause I also see him as devious and unethical and a money-grabber. And yet he's a very likable guy. You go figure it out.”
The Kansas City Purge
In the fall of 1970 Jim McCotter and the Blitz' evangelistic music team visited the campus of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where they preached the gospel and witnessed on campus for several weeks. During this visit some girls who had been holding their own Bible study met the team, became excited about the type of vibrant Christian faith they exhibited, and invited several of their male friends to a meeting being held by the visiting team.
Later, at a meeting of the women's Bible study to which McCotter and the team were invited, Jim spoke on Abraham and Hagar. He talked about faith and not giving up, saying, “Don't go in to Hagar,” meaning “Don't act in the flesh in an attempt to accomplish God's will.” Jim, along with his brother Bill, taught about the local church, breaking bread in worship, and about baptism. Paul Martin remembers, “The teaching was clearly about the autonomy of the local church, and the believer's responsibility and right to obey all of God's Word.”
The UMKC students at this meeting became excited by what they heard and saw. Learning that McCotter and company had been traveling around the mid-section of the country establishing New Testament assemblies near other university campuses, Paul and several others from Kansas City decided they wanted to establish such a fellowship there, too. In spite of McCotter's eventual discouragement of such a move (because UMKC was mainly a commuter campus without a lot of dormitories to facilitate evangelizing students where they lived), Paul and friends began meeting in the Martins' home for simple worship and Bible study. Paul says, “We all felt free to start breaking bread together and so we did. However, we still continued to attend our own individual churches and got together for fellowship and worship on Sunday afternoon.”
The church thus founded (called the Cornerstone) continued to attract new members even after the departure of McCotter et al. for Lawrence, Kan., where another new assembly was founded, this time with McCotter's blessing, since Kansas University featured many large student dormitories. The Cornerstone members experienced renewed vibrancy in their faith that impelled them to share their faith with fellow students and others on a virtual daily basis, resulting in many conversions among the university community. Together the Cornerstone members pooled their resources and purchased a house on Rockhill Road in Kansas City, Mo., where many of the original group lived, and where the fellowship worshiped and held Bible studies. At this time the recognized elders of the Cornerstone were Paul Martin, Bob Bury, Bill Hake, Larry Farnham, Clint Hall, and Ray Olson. Eventually Dave Gumlia73 joined the church in Kansas City and was added to the eldership there.
Throughout the early years of the Cornerstone it experienced not only numerical expansion, but also spiritual growth. One of the features of the church that was innovative at the time was the encouragement of the members to make use of their God-given talents in art, music, poetry, and other writing, not only to express their faith explicitly, but also simply to do their best in these media regardless of theme. There were also times scheduled in which the fiction of writers like C. S. Lewis was read and discussed, as well as the scholarly writings of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer. These sorts of things earned the Cornerstone the scorn and disapproval of other Blitz leaders around the country (though when I learned of these practices I thought they were good ideas that I wished we could institute in Columbus).
During an elders conference in New Mexico in 1977, Jim McCotter suggested that Paul Martin should move to Ames, Ia., in order to learn more about church leadership and New Testament church life in general. Jim told Paul that he would not be recognized as an elder in Ames while he was there, even though he had been one in Kansas City for the previous seven years. The reason for this, according to Jim, was because the responsibilities associated with being an elder would interfere with Paul's being there to learn. This was fine with Paul.
However, being in Ames and “up close and personal” with Jim permitted
Paul to learn more than he bargained on. In an account written in 1985 Paul wrote:
During my stay in Ames I began to see some things I did not agree with:
1. Their denial that all their organizations had any connections, but they were all connected and controlled by Jim.
2. Their denial that the ISU Bible studies were not controlled by the elders of the body [i.e., Ames Fellowship Church].
3. The mechanical way people were being discipled. I felt they had sacrificed humanity for forced spirituality.
4. Their contention that all brothers should be elders.
5. Their implication that each person should reach each country in order to fulfill the Great Commission.
6. The constant exhortation in the teaching which was not balanced by encouragement, edification nor doctrine.
Paul added, “All of these things I discussed with Jim and the Ames leaders. (Some of them have now left and agree with me on issues.) I even took Tony Castro [another leading brother, though not an elder] with me as a witness to our feelings about the deceptive practices implied in #1 and #2 above. I had also talked to the KC elders about this and I felt they understood and were going to do something.” In fact, a meeting was eventually arranged in 1978 between the elders of Kansas City and those of Ames at which Paul expected these matters would be raised and straightened out.
However, such was not to be. Rather than “straighten out” these problems, the KC elders did not even address them. In fact, when Paul stated that he “could not, with a clear conscience, go along with some of the practices in Ames,” the KC elders “were silent,” except to urge Paul to remain in Ames “against my own conscience.”
During the weeks in which Paul had sought to convince Jim and the Ames elders of the validity and seriousness of the problems he had seen, Jim had counter-charged that Paul had character issues of his own. Specifically, Jim accused Paul of being proud, and of being unduly influenced by his “liberated wife.” At the meeting - with his wife, Barb, present - Paul was stung by hearing these same accusations from Dave Gumlia (with the silent acquiescence of the other KC elders) with whom he had served so long. This was especially galling to Paul because only a few weeks earlier he had asked one of the Ames men if there were any problem areas in his or Barb's lives that they needed to work on. The answer was “No.” Yet here so soon afterwards they were being told they both had serious character problems - and that publicly, rather than in private as the Scriptures require (cf. Matt. 18:15-17).
This meeting was essentially the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. After much prayer and counsel from trusted men, including their own fathers, Paul and Barb made the painful decision to leave Ames. At the same time they also left Kansas City emotionally. Eventually they moved to western Pennsylvania, where they both got teaching positions at Geneva College in Beaver Falls. During the five years they spent in Pennsylvania Paul also finished his work on his doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Back in Ames, as in Kansas City and elsewhere throughout the Blitz movement, things continued as they had been. Periodically, other men and women discerned the same problems the Martins had, and indeed that Bill Taylor had seen as early as 1974 (see pages 43-56). The results of their efforts to seek acknowledgment and correction of these problems were likewise the same as had been experienced by those who made earlier attempts at reformation. Some were simply rejected, some were formally excommunicated, and many others chose to leave the movement of their own accord in frustration and seek healthier Christian fellowship elsewhere.
In January 1984 one of the brothers in Kansas City, Scott Wilcox, arranged to meet with the elders to discuss his growing concerns about their teaching on authority. At this time the elders of the Cornerstone were Clint Hall, Bob Bury, and Jonathan Williams (the others had by now moved to other cities as elders of newly founded Blitz assemblies or had left the movement). Scott reported that “the meeting lasted less than 1 hr,” and the elders thanked him for his concerns, promising to get back with him later after they had a chance to consider what he said. A few days later Scott had a second meeting with the elders. At this one they told him that his “questions were not the issue but [his] attitude was.” The meeting turned into more of an interrogation session designed to get Scott to confess his errors. Scott says he “became very defensive” and that the elders never addressed his concerns at all.
In the spring of 1984, one of the small group leaders, Gary Henke, felt a burden to pray more for the elders - he says, “specifically that God would strengthen their ministry by balancing their strengths and weaknesses.” Gary also was led to “spend more time one on one to identify ways to support the strengthening of their ministry.” One verse that impressed him in this direction was Heb. 13:17.74
Scott's account of events then records that on May 27, 1984, during the Sunday morning worship meeting, he “gave a strong call for revival, chastising the church for prayerlessness, words instead of deeds, backslapping instead of breast-beating and tolerating sin & laziness.” In all, he says, this took less than 10-15 minutes.
The elders spent the month of June in Washington, D.C., with the national leadership of Great Commission International. Prior to their departure, the elders appointed Harry Poindexter as the fourth elder in Kansas City, and he joined them on their trip to D.C. Before they left they asked Gary Henke and three other men to oversee the church while they were gone.
On Sunday, June 10, Scott Wilcox gave a strong rebuke to the church, apologizing for “being slothful in presenting truth and exhorting over the past several months.” He also “pledged to be more faithful, less timid,” and used the expression “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” Again this message took about 10-15 minutes.
Four days later Scott received a conference call from the elders
who were by then in Washington. Included in the conference call were also the four
group leaders left in charge of the church while the elders were away. According
to Scott's account:
I am questioned about my exhortation the previous Sunday. I am accused and called factious, rebellious, pugnatious [sic], contentious, full of bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, divisive and many other things. They say that there is nothing wrong with what I say, but my attitude is wrong. No proof is given of any of the accusations. I am commanded to speak no more of revival, publicly or privately. I say they cannot silence me unless it is established I am speaking heresy. They say I am not speaking heresy but must submit to them or be excommunicated. I refuse to submit to their decree and claim the truth and Christian liberty. Very heavy meeting. Takes 3 hours at night. I am deeply hurt and grieved.
Concerning this same incident, Gary Henke wrote:
While [the elders] were gone an event occurred which allowed us to see how they responded to the problem in the church. We saw the problem they saw and counciled [sic] long distance a way to solve the problem. They instead took a course of “quasi-discipline” and then in August asked forgiveness for unsubstantiated accusations.75
On June 15, the day after the conference call, the KC elders phoned Scott again from D.C. Scott reported that “factious and rebellious were removed from the list” of accusations against him, but that all others were left on it.
Two days later was another Sunday. True to his word, Scott was not to be silenced. This time he took about 5-10 minutes to exhort the church to spend time with Jesus. He took as his text Acts 4:13 which says that “the secret of the disciples' courage and power [was] that they had been with Jesus.” In addition, Scott also announced that he would meet with anyone on Friday, June 22, to explain in more detail why he believed the church needed revival.
Upon the KC elders' return they “announced that the church would receive 5000 copies of US Press for distribution” (Henke). The papers would be financed by the church's general fund until there were enough specific donations or subscriptions by individuals. According to Henke, “Within one month only 1000 were requested and three months later only 500 were ordered weekly.”
Also upon their return the elders announced that everyone in the church should “give 100% of their tithe to the church and let the funds be distributed through the deacons and GCI rather than distributed individually” (Henke).76 The reasoning for this was for “more intense focus through the body.” This implied that the church leaders were better able to discern where the financial needs were than were the individual members. At the same time, the elders also reiterated their belief that so-called “parachurch ministries” (such as Campus Crusade for Christ and Operation Mobilization) were not “God's best.” Henke recorded, “I was not concerned at this time about this because the logic sounded very clear.”
Thirdly, the elders introduced McCotter's book Leadership: Apostles and Elders to the group leaders for study and discussion.77 Henke says, “It was presented as something to discuss and then offer suggestions to Jim for revision if necessary. This was a false pretense because Jim on Feb. 8  made it clear it was not open for discussion” (see below).
The elders asked the four group leaders they had put in charge of the church while they were gone what they had learned during that month. In reply, Gary Henke said that he “better understood they needed a lot of support and encouragement,” and that he “wanted to begin giving it all the more.”
At that point, elder Jonathan Williams asked Gary exactly how he planned to do that. Gary replied that he couldn't say exactly just yet. Williams then remarked that the elders had learned the same thing when they were in D.C. As Gary recalled later, “They desired to give all the support they could to Jim McCotter to be able to reach the world.”
In early July - thus shortly after the elders' return from D.C. - Scott Wilcox had two or three more meetings with them. In one or two of these meetings the group leaders were also present, and because of their counsel the elders refrained from excommunicating Scott. Nevertheless, they reaffirmed their earlier opinion of him.
Throughout the rest of the summer and fall of 1984, Scott and Darlene Wilcox visited other churches in the Kansas City area, seriously planning to leave the Cornerstone. Finally, however, they decided it would be better “to forgive and carry on and promote unity and active service.” Thus, they ended up staying in the Cornerstone.
During the fall and early winter, Gary Henke said, the things
he had heard from the elders after their return from Washington, his reading of
McCotter's book on leadership, and other scriptural principles he had studied
“helped me to be more alert to the needs of the body.” One day, as Gary talked with
two brothers in the fellowship, he “learned of many, 25-30% of the body, that had
deep concerns and some were considering leaving.” This was seriously troubling to
Gary, so he contacted them to learn more about what it was that concerned them,
and to attempt to dissuade them from leaving the fellowship. Gary wrote,
I did not want to see anyone leave and following are some of the reasons why:
- I felt the people in Cornerstone would work out concerns and disagreements in a gentle spirit with perseverance.
- I believed our local body could incorporate many ministries within it. Many concerns were about a narrowness of ministry in the body which needed broadening I Cor. 12:4-11.
- I loved many of these saints dearly and felt their departure would hinder the furthering of these relationships.
- I believed Cornerstone was nearer the center of God's will than most other churches.
- I expected growth from the tremendous potential that existed with the saints in Cornerstone.
Henke met with elder Clint Hall to discuss many of the concerns held by these other Cornerstone members, as well as by him, in order to be sure the elders were aware of the things he was. He learned from Hall, as he had also from some of the members, that many of them had already approached the elders themselves to express their concerns. Thus, the members were not merely “grumbling” behind the elders' backs.
At the same time, Gary learned that elders Bob Bury, Jonathan Williams, and Clint Hall had been asked to move to the Washington, D.C., area (whether by Jim McCotter directly or by someone else in the national leadership of Great Commission was not made clear). The first two consented to make the move, though Hall declined, saying, however, that he was open to the Lord's telling him to go sometime in the future. Upon the announcement of Bury's and Williams' decision to move to D.C., Henke reported, “Harry [Poindexter] began referring to himself as the 'only elder' in KC on several occasions though Clint was still an elder and would be until an unknown date.”
In January 1985, following the departure of Bury and Williams
for Washington (wrote Henke),
It was announced that two elders from DC would come to KC for an indefinite time to teach us, Lawrence and Manhattan [the latter two both in Kansas] some of the things they had learned. Who the two were was indefinite until Jan. 27 when it was announced Dave Gumlia [formerly from KC] and John Hopler [formerly from Columbus] would come in. Also Jim McCotter would visit the group leaders before the weekend conference of Feb. 8.
Meanwhile, a group of church members had been meeting on Saturday
morning to discuss McCotter's new leadership book and had raised a number of
concerns about it. This was in addition to the concerns that had been shared with
the elders individually by many in the church. Henke saw a need to gather these
collective concerns together in a more cohesive format to facilitate their being
understood and addressed by the elders. Further, Gary said,
I knew that these concerns which were based upon the theological grounds in the context of a meeting would be clouded by emotions and therefore the precise points could not be addressed. I saw two theologies clashing and did not want conflict. Therefore, I felt collecting the concerns and forming a collective appeal would facilitate an answer from Jim M. when he arrived. I prayed about a meeting of only those I knew that had concerns. I didn't include those that didn't have similar concerns since they were functioning under the current theology with no problems.
On Sunday, January 27 (the day the church learned who would be coming to Kansas City), Henke drafted a letter inviting the concerned individuals to a meeting on the following Friday. He also included an outline of proposed themes to discuss during the meeting. He called Clint Hall that evening and read him the letter and the outline to get his opinion of what he was proposing. Hall said, “I see no problem with gathering a collective appeal.” With this okay, Gary mailed copies of both documents to his list of concerned people on Monday. On Tuesday he gave copies to Clint, who then gave them to Harry Poindexter at noon of the same day. Gary phoned Harry that night to ask his opinion of the meeting. Harry replied, “I don't think it is a good idea, it could have some terrible consequences.” Gary said he had “no more contact from Harry about the meeting until Feb. 10.”
This letter plus brief outline was sent to saints that had expressed concerns to myself, Pat Balke or Mel Bockelman. One elder gave approval before it was mailed, the other said it wasn't a good idea:
A concern I have for the time when Jim & Dave meet with us on 2-8 is that nothing will be accomplished. To see something happen I am proposing the following outline so that we all can state in a precise and concise way our collective concerns about the body. Once something is clearly stated, then Jim & Dave would have something to answer.
To enable us to have a clear presentation, please use this outline form to add or change your concerns, hopes and needs. Once you have written your additions or changes, then if you want to consolidate yours with others, let us meet this Fri. evening at 7:00 pm at the chapel. If you would prefer to not consolidate, then please use your form for a clear presentation to Jim & Dave.
Let us present needs as those things that we and other churches fall short of Scripture.
Let us present our own hopes as those things that should be done according to Scripture to fulfill the above needs.
Then let us present our concerns as those things that we see as violations of Scripture and the reason why the needs have not been met.
Please pray that the time with them will give them a clear understanding of what we see in Scripture. Pray that all will avoid attitudes of attack on character.
In the unity of Christ,
Outline covered & added to on Fri. 2-2 with 25 others
Needs we acknowledge
1. Greater fruitfulness
b) within each life -- prayer, word, fellowship, worship, to build
others, to witness
2. 100% commitment to God
3. Obedience to His direction
4. Unity w/ all believers
5. Teaching on effective listening, relating & exhorting
6. Teaching on character of God and His unique calling of us
7. Specialized ministries -- sick, widows, world
8. Effective love & service
Blessing we see
1. Many members have given sacrificially -- time, money, self
2. Desire & burden of many hearts for growth
3. A certain degree of fruitfulness (personal) -- strong core group,
4. A commitment to one another the world has not seen
5. A strong desire & burden for righteousness, obedience & growth
Sound teaching -- Purity, righteousness -- Positive effect on community
Some unity with other churches -- Successful US Supreme Court Case
Since teaching on the subject of apostle is new, the ultimate result is unknown. However, the concerns of sectarianism and lordship could transfer so easily to the general teaching of apostles that this teaching has also become of great concern.
I. Sectarianism -- Divisive
* Evidence of
1. Subtle attitude of "we have the best plan for growth"
a) Needing our own books, papers, plans
b) Organized & function more like a parachurch organization
c) Lack of encouragement, support or praise of other successful
2. Resources are directed to "center, headquarters"
a) Finances tithed
b) People moved for "corporate job" administration
3. One man is dominant example of faith
4. Business like -- many similarities to a successful corporation
a) Management according to the flesh. "Most productive", effi-
b) Management focused on projects vs people
5. No identity w/Christianity -- lowly in Script. made apostles vs.
current productive are made elders
* Danger of
1. Man -- Movement -- Machine -- Monument
2. Minimal fruitfulness
a) Newcomers are replacing oldtimers leaving
b) Teaching on personal growth is forfeited for maintenance of
c) Fatalities [people leaving group -- lap] accepted & expected
3. Local Christians are divided. Local body is divided within
II. Authority is "lord" not "servant"
* Evidence of
1. Decisions are made with little or no council [sic] from body
2. Elders originate, then announce direction or projects
3. Projects, ministries most greatly promoted are those of #2
a) Friendship evangelism vs. abortion, prayer, City Union
4. Pressure is felt to conform (guise of submission)
5. Decisions appear impulsive though they are not in reality
6. Elders pass decisions to body that come from national level
7. Council [sic] can be "decision making for others"
a) Expectations of some of the weaker saints
8. Events of elders [sic] lives are more noteworthy
1. Clergy vs. laity
a) attitude of "authority knows best -- let them do it"
2. Members feel unneeded -- then leave
3. Leaders become more tempted to pride -- when going is good
4. Because of bad example, pride and impulsiveness infiltrates into
5. Creative alternative solutions diminish. Use of gifts diminish
6. Members could shove responsibility of "bad decisions" upon
Financial concerns are here. Is this evidence of more serious
I. Autonomous Local Bodies
1. Christ is Head
2. Local needs, opportunities addressed more efficiently & quickly
3. Eph. 5:23 Direct Headship of Christ
1. Christ more glorified
2. Promote unity -- spiritual not fleshly
3. More gifts are needed locally, more are used
4. Resources locally would be dissipitated [sic]
1. Independent spirit
2. Difficulty to propagate
3. Introspection possible
II. Leaders as Servants -- Humility
* Example in Scripture & why
1. Christ as servant
2. Servants are not a picture of force, pressure
3. Servants known by direct contact
1. Weak & immature are encouraged
2. Others meet a greater variety of needs
3. New leadership
4. Wider ministries
5. Guard against subtle wolves
6. Involvement increases faith & hope
7. Look to Lord as leader, not a man
8. No clergy-laity split
9. Less turnover
10. Sense of greater unity
* Method -- Structural Freedom I Cor. 7:27, Philemon, Lk. 22:24-26, Mt. 23:8-11, I Pt. 5:3, Acts 20:28, Eph. 4:12, II Cor. 10:8
2. Support & encourage others' work & plans
3. Become the voice of the priesthood
4. Give council [sic] of both sides, pros cons, future benefits
5. Give autonomy to individuals for self
6. Great Communication
This is the notes of introduction to Fri. 2-2 meeting:
Reluctance & conviction
I'm not one to confront or lead a confrontation -- I don't see this as a confrontation but it could be perceived -- but I have a deep belief, God has a tremendous desire for His Church to become likened to His Son and that this is an opportunity to help our body move in that direction all the more.
Purpose of meeting
To provide an opportunity for a group I am aware of, that had similar goals & desires from God, to come together and put down on paper, specific agreed upon areas of needs, hopes & concerns.
Remember, lets [sic] define needs as principles from Scripture we fall short of.
Define hopes as principles from Scripture which will meet the needs.
Define concerns as those things which prevent the needs from being fulfilled or violations of Scripture.
Once we have the specific outline, then we can present that to Jim & Dave & elders which gives a very clear opportunity to understand our burdens.
We will word this as an appeal asking for a response. Introduce the appeal by "Brothers, we agree that our local body falls short of being fruitful both in new salvations and in growth to maturity. We firmly believe a large reason for this unfruitfulness is not for lack of effort but due primarily to failing to apply the broad guidelines given in Scripture for the function of a body. We strongly desire here locally and on a national level no longer a 10-20 fold increase but rather a 100 fold increase."
Remember Christ's prayer on unity (that we may be perfected in unity). This must be an important influence upon our words, actions and attitudes. Lack of spirituality and overdependence of worldly unity is likely to be a powerful reason why Christ's body on earth is not the influence it should be.
Remember righteousness. Be ye perfect as our Father in heaven. His holy love controls & inspires us.
Remember love. It is patient, kind, not arrogant, not unbecoming & not provoked, it bears, believes, hopes & endures all things. Love never fails.
Remember Clint & Harry. Their exceeding desire is to see the best for the church. They have sacrificed greatly for it and are devoted to see each of us grow & become like Christ.
Emphasize hopes -- the positive outlook needs to be stressed.
Feel free to make your own outline if your thoughts don't fit w/ this working outline. I can pass it to Jim & Dave if you want.
This was mailed to Jim McCotter in advance of the Fri. 2/8/85 meeting:
We are looking forward to the chance to share some time with you this Fri. When we heard you were coming, we were wondering exactly what reason you want to meet with us (the group leaders & deacons). Whatever your hope is, we felt it would be an excellent opportunity to express to you some of our concerns here in KC. This letter is to give you a chance to consider our concerns before you arrive here.
Last Fri., a group of 25 saints gathered to consolidate our hopes, concerns and the needs we see into an outline so that you could be presented a clear consensus. The outline we used focused on the needs we see in the body according to Scripture, the blessings we see the body given, the hope or desire of how Scripture could be applied to meet the needs and finally the concerns which was [sic] felt that prevented the needs from being met. This outline is available if you would like to examine the specifics.
This weekend I have considered all that was said and have consolidated it into the following three areas.
#1 A number of concerns centered upon authority.
* Elders exercising lordship by not seeking counsel from body on major decisions, announcing projects to do, not encouraging alternatives to projects they announce, and finance deacons becoming more bookkeepers than decision makers.
THEREFORE If there is any hint of lordship or worldly unity being exercised, won't reaching the world be thwarted? Won't the project or task become the focus rather than the people when lordship or worldly unity enters?
When the teaching on apostles was presented and these concerns existed, it very quickly led to a deep concern of an authoritative hierarchical structure forming. If a proper understanding of Scriptural authority, submission and unity existed, then the teaching of apostles could be welcomed with the hope of greater fruitfulness.
The above areas were discussed in greater detail on Fri. eve. and a number of responses afterward was “What a relief it was to see a large number of saints sharing these deep concerns with all patience, gentleness and respect for those in leadership.” I agree and want to state that no hint of rebellion could be detected during that time.
We will be in prayer this week about these concerns. Please unite with us, that all of our hearts this Fri afternoon will be sensitive to God's Spirit and learn from Him.
In His name & with His love,
Copies to Elders, deacons, group leaders & Dave G.
All the saints with us on Fri. 2-1-85
Please copy Jonathan & Bob
Gary reported next:
The meeting was held on Feb. 1. It was a very orderly and positive time which many acknowledged and were thankful for. No attack on character or discussion of individuals' sin was made. About 25 were invited and others heard about it and came. That weekend, I and another brother summarized the concerns into three categories: authority as servants not lords, autonomous bodies vs a denomination and the utilitarian view of members. This was put in a letter and sent to Jim M. and copies to the others who were involved.
A week later the men from D.C. arrived in Kansas City. Along with Jim McCotter, Dave Gumlia, and John Hopler, were Dennis Clark and Tom Schroeder (both formerly from Columbus, as was Hopler). The day they arrived - Friday, February 8 - several deacons, group leaders, and the elders met with Jim McCotter et al. According to Henke's account, “The meeting of 3½ hours was at least 1½ hours of Jim sharing about the movement. He did not acknowledge or address the concerns given in the letter I sent, the phone call another brother had with him or many of the questions raised that evening.”
In Scott Wilcox's account he wrote, “Jim monopolizes time with long pointless monologues and does not answer the few questions that are asked. Absolute authority is emphasized.”
planned conference got underway the next morning, using the facilities of Broadway
Baptist Church (a church, be it noted, that Jim McCotter would have considered a
“lukewarm” or “Laodicean” church - see pages 106-107). Jim, who had been scheduled
to open the conference, was not there because he had gotten sick. As a result, Tom
Schroeder and John Hopler were assigned the job of opening the conference. In spite
of his illness, McCotter spent time, according to Henke, “challenging Clint about
many things until Clint agreed to step down as an elder.78
Also, that evening Jim challenged another brother to repent and he did. Clint and
this brother made their announcement Sunday morning.” The brother who repented was
John Toner, who had earlier written a very cogent critique of McCotter's leadership
book. His personal account of how he was persuaded to repent of “faction” and having
a party spirit was published anonymously in a special double issue of The Cause,
June-July 1985. Among other things, Toner wrote:
As an 8-year member of the Cornerstone Church (Kansas City, Mo.), I never had the intention of undermining the authority of my local elders, and becoming the cause of a church split or faction. Nonetheless, through a few “small” sins, and much spiritual blindness, I found myself paving the road to division, strife and destruction of the very church I loved.
For years, in the Cornerstone Church, there had been poor scriptural understanding of authority. Different people, from time to time, would murmur and grumble against the leaders and their plans for the church. Slanderous remarks were sometimes made concerning the character of the pastors…
In late 1984 and January of 1985, things came to a boiling point. Numerous church members organized themselves together as a group to resist the plans of the leaders for the church, to entangle others in theological debates, and to call into question the motives and character of the local leaders. In addition, slanderous accusations were cast against leaders of other churches associated with ours who were barely known to their accusers.
I was probably one of the chief of all sinners in such actions. By crafty words and untimely comments, I helped to spread suspicion and fear in the hearts of many. I thought I was helping to establish “unity” in the church, and protecting the freedom to hold different ideas based on scripture. But actually I was resisting scriptural unity (unity under God-given authority) and was only spreading strife. However, somewhere in my heart I knew something wasn't right.
On February 9, 1985, four Christian brothers, in gentleness and love, rebuked my sin of spreading strife. Though it was hard, I listened to them closely, saw my sin and repented. After I repented, I began to understand more and more how the things I had been doing were wrong, and how I needed to change my path. But repentance over my own sin wasn't the hardest thing I did. I saw that in order to love righteousness, I needed also to hate iniquity. At a church meeting, I publicly confessed and renounced my sin. I honored the discipline of those who refused to repent (including my closest friend), and for the first time in my life, I got wholly under scriptural authority and obeyed them, as Hebrews 13:17 commands.79
Taking such a public stand against sin was perhaps the biggest test of faith in my Christian life, because standing for righteousness meant separation from my close, close friend. But, by God's grace, and the encouragement of the Christian brothers, I was able to put love for God, His laws and His righteousness above affection for unrepentant friends. (However, by supporting church discipline, I actually loved such friends even more.)…
Henke's record of events continues:
Sunday night at 9:30 I was called to meet with nine brothers.80 There I was told to repent of calling that meeting on February 1 and of not being submissive to Harry. I didn't believe God was convicting me that that meeting was a sin or that I was unsubmissive and therefore I couldn't repent. At 1:30 am they let me go under discipline of the church [i.e., he was excommunicated - lap].
Apart from impatience and not trusting God completely, I know my motivation was pure. No one had come to me before this point to say they had been offended or stumbled because of the meeting. I wasn't trying to hide anything (Clint and Harry were welcome to come but chose not to) and the problem of division or faction was already present, I was just pursuing with all my heart, reconciliation.
Jim and Dave assumed that I felt “nothing would be accomplished” because of their involvement which was totally foreign to my mind.81 I said “nothing would be accomplished” because emotions were too high and volatile. When they assumed a meeting of this sort would only cause a degeneration of relationships among the body, they were wrong again. Degeneration had already occurred and I was pursuing and emphasizing reconciliation, a renewal of relationships.
Gary's excommunication was announced on Monday, when a special meeting of the church was called for the purpose. He was not permitted to appear at the meeting to make a defense or otherwise speak on his own behalf. Further, no one else was allowed to defend him. In fact, those who tried to do so were silenced.82
Gary concluded his account with these words:
Based upon these two false assumptions, I have suffered the loss of many relationships. However God has been extremely faithful in support and comfort and had allowed my wife and I the joy of fellowship with many saints who have left the fellowship since this has happened. Two other brothers were disciplined because they participated in and supported the meeting. The three of us are delighted in many ways what God has promised us and has begun working.
The other two brothers who were excommunicated (two days after Gary Henke) were Scott Wilcox and Pat Balke.
In the immediate aftermath of the “purge” at least twelve couples and ten singles left the Cornerstone. Some of these immediately began attending other churches in the area, but about twenty of them chose to meet at the home of Gary and Charessa Henke a couple of times a week for worship, prayer, and Bible study, and to visit area churches on Sunday morning.
In a letter Charessa wrote to Paul and Barb Martin after the purge,
she wrote that “some of the ones who left were big GCI fans but since these men
arrived they have left the church entirely. They were greatly disturbed by the 'spirit'
of the men who came in & 'purged' the church & by the tactics employed
- and the kind of authority exercised.” A little later in the letter Charessa wrote:
We just want to be available to help in any way we can to assist people making a step out. The single sisters are having an especially rough time - only two have left. Getting out from under that “umbrella of protection”83 the authority claims is a scary thing. Just is, the sisters have the most to lose by staying in. Their [i.e., GCI's] attitude towards women is less than encouraging. Woman is deceived & the deceiver. Many of the men who left shared how they were challenged that they were listening to the whisperings of their wives and were not being leaders of their homes - even couples whose concerns were every bit equal between the two.
In the weeks and months following the purge others left the Cornerstone,
and numerous letters and phone calls passed between the expatriates and others who
had left the movement earlier, including several former elders and deacons of churches
throughout the movement. In the course of this exchange the idea was put forward
of arranging a weekend conference in Kansas City for the purpose of helping the
ex-members recover from their recent emotional and spiritual hurts. This conference
was held over a weekend in May 1985. The main speakers during the conference were:
Paul Martin (“Counting the Cost Psychologically”), Bill Taylor (“Problems with the
McCotter Movement”), Mike Royal (“Today's Student, the Rest of the Story”),
Henry Hintermeister (“The Slick 50 Story” and “LEI, the Rest of the Story”), Jim
Schooler (“We Must Know God”), Ray Moore (“Jim McCotter's 'Apostleship'
Re-examined”), and me (“History of Great Commission International”).
Great Commission Academy:
Willful Deception, or Just Plain Incompetence?
In keeping with Great Commission International's predilection to create its own imitations of established institutions (e.g., church: Great Commission Church and many other names over the years; newspapers: Life Herald, The Student, Today's Student, America Today, U.S. Press; magazines: The [Christian] Cause, Potential; investment firm: Alpha Capital; political action lobby: Americans for Biblical Government; publishing company: Great Commission Books; recording company: Great Commission Records; daily devotional: Daylights; etc., etc.) it was only a matter of time before GCI would establish its own home schooling organization. Thus it was that apparently in the spring of 1986 Great Commission Academy was born.
Under the leadership of Dave Smith (who initially became involved
with GCI in Columbus, Oh., in the summer of 1973) GCA advertised itself as providing,
among other things:
- “pretesting to determine level of curriculum”
- “consultation in curriculum selection” (using material prepared by established home schooling publishers such as A Beka)
- “regular group classes” and field trips
- “seminars for parents and students”
- legal defense provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
On the “GCA General Information” sheet (see page 179) GCA's
qualifications were listed as follows:
- The Board of Education and the staff of GCA is composed of certified teachers and parents dedicated to the overall training of each and every child enrolled.
As determined by legal counsel, the structure and authority of the Academy is in
compliance with the laws of the state of [
- As a concern under the auspices of Great Commission Church, the board and staff recognize and will function according to the authority of that Body in the manner in which God, in His Holy Word, has directed.
Soon after GCA's inception the program was introduced in the Wilmington, Del., area under the auspices of the local Great Commission Church in nearby Newark, Del. The pastors of the church at that time were Steve Huhta and Eric Chase, who had led a large team there from Eau Claire, Wis., in 1985 as part of GCI's “Invasion '85” campaign. Among the families who enrolled in GCA at that time were Ken and Donna Janney of Wilmington and “Bill and Bobbi Boggs” of Newark. During the monthly “PTF” meetings of GCA held during the spring of 1986 Steve Huhta, who along with his leadership of the GCC in Newark also served as coordinator of the local GCA program, told the participating families that they had, as advertised, legal defense coverage through the Home School Legal Defense Association and that the cost of this coverage was included in their monthly tuition fee of $15 for non-GCI members or $10 for GCI members.
GCA held a home school conference on June 14, 1986, during which GCA director Dave Smith spoke on the topic of legal issues relating to the growing nationwide trend in home schooling. In his presentation Smith discussed GCA's connection with HSLDA, stating that “all that needed to be worked out were some minor details” (as recalled later by Donna Janney). He added that because of the large number of families involved in GCA they would eventually be getting a reduction in the cost per family.
Through the following weeks and months, however, some of the GCA
families began having misgivings about their association, and in particular about
the parent organization, Great Commission International. One thing about GCA itself
that disturbed these families was that in spite of Smith's promise of reduced
fees due to the large number of GCA families, during the summer of 1986 the tuition
fees actually doubled for non-GCI members (from $15/month to $30/month) and
more than doubled for GCI members (from $10/month to $25/month), and in the
fall the fees for non-GCI members were upped to $40/month. These increases were
sufficiently upsetting by themselves, but what made them all the more galling was
the fact that GCA parents had to pay in addition for all the curriculum materials
they use Further, the upset families began to wonder where their
money was going. On the list of “Services Offered by Great Commission Academy” (see
page 180) distributed at the July 14th GCA conference are the following items:
- “Family Building Guide - A course the whole family is enrolled in. This practical month by month program is designed to help families develop solid Biblical character qualities and social skills.” (This consisted of a vinyl 3-ring binder with monthly inserts.)
- “Daily Planner & Record Book - An organizer for home based education programs including daily lesson plan forms, attendance, evaluation forms, etc.” (This also was a 3-ring binder, containing only the items listed - no “etc.”)
- “Central Record Keeping” (The local GCA director filed and stored for one year only the grades awarded and records kept and submitted monthly by the parents.)
- “Group classes/field trips” (These classes were taught by volunteers - Ken Janney, for example, served as a biology lab instructor for no pay - so no tuition money was used for this activity.) was used for this activity.)
Even considering the other items on the “Services Offered” list, people were wondering why the tuition had become so “exorbitant.”
Many of the GCA families were also members of the Newark, Del., Great Commission Church, and some of them began noticing disturbing aspects of the church. Pre-eminent among these was what they considered extreme dependence on and loyalty to Jim McCotter, founder and chief “apostle” of GCI. This was perceived to be so serious that Ken Janney was moved to declare that GCI “has replaced the reliance on and commitment to Jesus Christ with a reliance on and commitment to a man, that man being Jim McCotter” (see page 182). Mr. Janney further identified as a point of concern McCotter's book Leadership: Elders and Apostles, “in which he attempts to substantiate the claim that he is an apostle on a par with Paul and the 12.” Particularly disturbing to Janney was a tape by McCotter in which he claimed to have been granted new light by God, thus confirming his “apostleship” (see page 183).
The Janneys and others began calling around the country inquiring about Great Commission International, talking with ministers, cult researchers, and former elders, deacons, and other leaders of GCI, including this writer. In the course of their research they received much disturbing information, both in the form of oral testimony and written documentation. Some of the things these families learned did not immediately seem to fit what they had observed and experienced of GCI. Consequently, they adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude, granting GCC of Newark the benefit of the doubt.
After about three months, though, the problems they had heard about but had not yet seen began to appear locally. At that point they decided it was time to pull out of GCA and (for those who were also members of the church) out of GCI as well. They also determined to share their information with the other GCA families. Before doing so, however, on November 17, 1986, Bobbi Boggs called the Home School Legal Defense Association to ask if there was some way she and her husband, Bill, could maintain their legal coverage with HSLDA even though they were withdrawing from GCA. HSLDA executive director Chris Klicka informed Mrs. Boggs, to her great surprise, that HSLDA coverage was not being provided as part of the GCA tuition package. He stated further that families who registered with GCA should have been given an HSLDA registration form (which they had not) because GCA was not registered for group coverage with HSLDA.
Mr. Klicka went on to explain that in June 1986 Dave Smith had made the necessary arrangements for legal defense coverage for GCA with HSLDA, but that in the first week of July GCI's John Hopler called to cancel the coverage, saying that GCI was planning to hire a California attorney to represent them and also take care of any home schooling cases. Mr. Klicka told Hopler that in his opinion GCI was making a serious mistake in forsaking the thoroughly experienced lawyers of HSLDA for someone with no track record in home schooling cases. He added that if GCI's decision was irreversible then every GCA family would have to be informed that they no longer had HSLDA group coverage through GCA, and that if they wanted such coverage they would have to apply for it individually.
The day after Bobbi Boggs' call to him Mr. Klicka telephoned Dave Smith at his GCA offices in Hyattsville, Md., to ask if the necessary notification of families had been carried out. Smith replied that it had. He stated that a letter had been sent to all home schooling families enrolled with GCA informing them of the altered arrangements. However, the Janneys, the Boggses, and others in the Wilmington-Newark, Delaware area have no recollection of such a letter, and in fact state categorically that no such letter was sent to them. Ken Janney says, “The bottom line is that we were led to believe that we were paying for legal protection through HSLDA when in fact we were not” (see page 181). And this false perception was allowed to persist for more than 6 months, and would likely have continued indefinitely had not Mrs. Boggs (or someone else) called HSLDA.
On Thursday, November 20, 1986, Donna Janney called Bill Gothard, president of the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (now the Institute in Basic Life Principles) to see what he could tell her about GCI. Mr. Gothard stated at the outset “that he would bend over backwards to defend Jim McCotter's actions, because he knows what it is like to be a public figure and have people trying to run him down” (Ken Janney's later reconstruction of his remarks - see page 182). Gothard did allow that he had appealed to McCotter in the past “on some very serious issues, concerning some things which had been done within GCI” (Ken Janney). In response to Gothard's expressions of concern, McCotter assured him that the problem areas would be straightened out.84
When the Janneys informed Mr. Gothard of a number of recent incidents of even more serious consequences, and that they could provide documentation, he expressed his genuine concern that not only had GCI's problems not been eased, but that things had evidently worsened. He also requested the documentation Ken and Donna offered. (In addition, Mr. Gothard has received from another source several hundred pages of documentation on GCI covering the period from its founding by McCotter through 1986.) The Janneys gave Gothard the names and phone numbers of several individuals who could furnish independent confirmation of what they had told him.
For his part, Mr. Gothard said that he has documented evidence that McCotter had forbidden GCI members to use material developed by ATIA (the home schooling division of the Institute in Basic Life Principles) for the simple reason that he (McCotter) did not wish to relinquish control over his people even to this extent.85
On the evening of the Janneys' phone conversation with Bill Gothard they attended the monthly GCA support group meeting (the “PTF”), fully determined to announce their withdrawal from Great Commission Academy. Ken had prepared a resignation speech (see Exhibit D, pages 181-183) which he commenced reading to those present. As he began discussing the HSLDA matter he was interrupted by several individuals who objected to his bringing up the subject without first notifying Steve Huhta and Eric Chase of his intentions. Stymied by these objectors, Janney had to be content to wait for a second meeting called for the next Saturday, November 22, specifically to discuss and hopefully resolve the issue.
On the next day (Friday the 21st) Chris Klicka of the HSLDA met with Dave Smith and Steve Huhta for the purpose of clarifying the relationship between the two organizations and determining how to communicate this to GCA member families. As a result of this meeting Smith wrote a letter to GCA members (Exhibit E, pages 187-188) in which he related the initial enrollment of GCA for HSLDA coverage and later cancellation of it as recounted above. The reasoning given by Smith in this letter of November 21, 1986, was that GCA had decided “to use our in-house legal staff” consisting of “two attorneys in our home office in Maryland who work together with a national association of attorneys who have expertise on home schooling law.” He went on to state that it was GCA's belief that its members would have greater legal protection if they were “defended by the attorney of a Christian school” than if they were “defended as a 'home schooler.' ”
Smith proceeded to explain that at the time of GCA's decision to cancel HSLDA coverage Mr. Klicka was so informed and GCA “printed up a new brochure explaining our present legal arrangement.” Additionally, Smith wrote, GCA “sought to establish some sort of working relationship with HSLDA whereby GCA could take advantage of any legal counsel or resources they might have that would help in any future cases our legal staff would be involved in.” Subsequently, GCA, according to Smith, distributed to all GCA families “a written communication” stating that GCA's “legal staff works 'in conjunction with HSLDA.'” Since then, however, GCA realized that that statement “misrepresents the relationship between GCA and HSLDA” as “there is no formal working relationship between the two organizations,” therefore GCA expressed its apology for this. Finally, Smith wrote that GCA felt they had made it clear at the June 14th meeting that GCA member families were not covered by HSLDA, and he apologized that the communication was not clearer. In an effort to “show...good faith,” Smith offered to pay the HSLDA fee for any GCA family that preferred to have that organization rather than GCA's legal staff represent them.
Chris Klicka, in a companion letter, expressed his satisfaction with the clarification of the GCA/HSLDA relationship as given in Smith's letter (see Exhibit F, page 189).
Also on the 21st, GCA member “Sam Shaul” talked with Dave Smith by phone about the GCA/HSLDA relationship. Smith told Shaul that GCA's relationship with HSLDA was one of consultation in agreement and principle, though not a direct association. Smith added that GCA had changed its brochures to reflect the true situation and had sent clarifying letters to its directors in July.
On Saturday, November 22 the second Wilmington area GCA members' meeting took place. Steve Huhta opened it by reporting on the previous day's meeting between him and Smith representing GCA, and Chris Klicka of HSLDA. Huhta then passed out copies of Smith's clarification letter and a profit and loss statement for GCA for the month of October 1986 (see Exhibit G, page 190). The latter was in response to disgruntled families' queries as to how their tuition money was being used, if not for HSLDA coverage. However, the financial statement did little to allay these concerns, since it listed no provision for legal defense insurance. Further questions were raised by the very ambiguous departmental expense listed as “Cost of Sales - GCA.” The high figure of $4,453.28 (the highest of all listed expenses) cried out for fuller explanation.
As the meeting participants read Smith's letter a number of discrepancies became apparent. First of all, the reference to “a national association of attorneys who have expertise on home schooling law” left them asking, “Who would that be?” They could recall no communication from GCA explaining this association. Secondly, Smith's apology for telling member families that GCA's in-house legal staff works “in conjunction with HSLDA” was quite puzzling as no one could remember receiving such a “written communication.” Even several families who had kept all correspondence and other paper work from GCA could find no such letter among it. And finally, Smith's careful and detailed efforts to make it clear that GCA has “no formal working relationship” with HSLDA raised the question as to why both Dave Smith in his phone conversation with Sam Shaul and Steve Huhta in his opening remarks at this meeting had given such strong emphasis to the “consultation” relationship with HSLDA.
One further note of interest about this second meeting is that Steve Huhta struck a preemptive blow against the dissident families by calling all GCA members during the day of the meeting, informing them of Smith's explanatory letter and Klicka's acceptance of it as an adequate clarification, and offering to supply copies to anyone who would stop over to pick them up. He assured them the letter would explain everything, and that they should read it before deciding whether to attend the second meeting that evening. As a result of this ploy only about seven families were represented at the meeting.
Ultimately, though, GCA was only partly successful in satisfying the member families in the Wilmington district. Many of them eventually withdrew from membership after all, so that at the December 1986 PTF meeting only about four families showed up, whereas about twice as many turned out for an alternative support group organized by the dissidents called Tri-State Home School Network.
Two months after the split in the Wilmington group one mother who had remained with GCA expressed her disagreement with those who had left, saying that if there is something wrong with the leadership then God in his sovereignty would correct the problem. This was a commonly taught notion in Great Commission churches, which stressed the believer's duty to submit to his elders (or pastors) and deacons even if they were wrong. It was asserted that God will hold us accountable for obedience to our leaders, period, and he will judge them when they're wrong. This idea can be supported from Scripture only by distorting the intent and context of selected verses. God never shifts responsibility for right behavior to another person's shoulders, even if that other person is a leader of God's people.86
Also in January 1987 the HSLDA Home School Court Report
(Vol. 3 No. 1, January-February 1987) printed the following disclaimer concerning
Due to a discrepancy in the Great Commission Academy's brochure on their home school program, many families thought home schoolers enrolled in the Great Commission program would be protected by and covered under HSLDA. To set the record straight, HSLDA is in no way connected to or working with Great Commission in legally advising or defending those enrolled in their program. We recommend all families home schooling to join HSLDA directly.
Since HSLDA felt it necessary to publish this statement one can only assume they had little confidence that Dave Smith's “explanatory letter” of November 21, 1986 had rectified the situation. Apparently, GCA had not been sufficiently diligent (or accurate) in its “clarifications,” or else it was continuing to perpetuate the myth of a GCA/HSLDA relationship.
On February 6 & 7, 1987, seven members of Tri-State Home School Network (the group formed by the Wilmington GCA dissidents) attended a Christian Life Workshop in Vienna, Virginia presented by Greg Harris and sponsored by the Home Educators Association of Virginia. Also in attendance were ten GCA members from Wilmington, as well as GCA national director Smith. During the two days of the workshop members of the two groups conversed amiably together, avoiding the issues that had divided them. Only one of the GCA families there (besides the Huhtas and Dave Smith, of course) had also been in the Great Commission Church, but, interestingly, had recently left to join a Baptist church, saying they really wanted a larger church with more children with whom their own children could interact.
Also during this workshop the ex-GCA families sensed Dave Smith watching each of them closely all weekend, and they occasionally caught Steve or Patty Huhta staring at them with what seemed to them to be a disturbed look on their faces. This may be explained by GCI's (and thus GCA's) view that those who leave them leave “God's best,” settling for “second-best.”87 Consequently, such people are considered objects for prayer and pity. But additionally, those who leave GCI the way the Janneys and others left GCA are also thought to be threats to stability and cohesiveness of the group, therefore they must be “marked” and watched.
An interesting footnote to this seminar is that the Tri-State members were greatly encouraged by speaker Harris' emphasis on the need for each one to read and study the Bible for oneself and know what it says in order not to be misled by “spiritual” teachers who are really not what they seem to be.
Ken and Donna Janney wrote a note to Steve and Patty Huhta after this workshop, enclosing the booklet What About Those Dangerous Religious Groups?, published by the Radio Bible Class of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the note the Janneys said they continued to assume that Steve and Patty were merely deluded and not consciously involved in GCI's deception and hypocrisy. They also warned them of the dangers of becoming ingrown as a church and urged them to read the booklet prayerfully.
A week later Ken and Donna received a reply from Steve expressing appreciation for the booklet and their prayerful concern for him and Patty. But he felt that GCI corresponded to the characteristics of a good church listed at the end of the booklet and not those of a “dangerous religious group.” In response to the question “Why then are there so many negative reports?” Steve attributed them to the (original) Cult Awareness Network88 as the single source from which all other critics have derived their (mis)information. CAN had proved to be an unreliable and extremist organization, in Huhta's view, as evidenced by their attacks on Campus Crusade for Christ, the Navigators, Youth for Christ, Melody Green, and Francis Schaeffer, among others. Apparently Huhta was either unaware of, or simply ignored, the many former members of GCI, including former elders and deacons, who have been vocal in their serious criticisms of GCI, and have offered documentation in support of their criticisms.
Three days after receiving Huhta's reply an Indiana woman named “Mary O'Nett” called Mrs. Janney inquiring about GCA and expressing her own misgivings. Mary and her husband, “Nick,” had headed up a home schoolers group with a strong spiritual emphasis, but when Nick resigned his leadership to spend more time with his family, and no other man would step forward to take his place, the group fell by default to an emerging faction with little or no interest in spiritual things. As a result, the group split, with the spiritually concerned families shifting to Great Commission Academy. The O'Netts had attended their first GCA meeting just the previous night. Mary reported that they were somewhat underwhelmed by what they heard and saw at the meeting, which included the viewing of a presentation which they felt was of very poor quality. Not wishing to lose touch with their friends who had decided to go with GCA, Nick and Mary asked if they could attend the GCA meetings without actually joining the organization. The group leaders (who were also pastors of the local Great Commission Church) replied that they would need to consult with the national directors on that. This need to check with headquarters on such a matter (indicating a low degree of local discretion in policy and decision-making) bothered the O'Netts. Then, when told the monthly dues were $40, Nick and Mary thought that was a bit steep and wondered where all the money went.
But the thing that eventually proved to be the most disturbing of all had to do with the GCA brochure handed out at that meeting in Indiana on February 23, 1987. The brochure clearly stated that GCA member families received HSLDA legal coverage as part of their membership package (see Exhibit A, pages 177-178). In addition, the GCA leaders declared that GCA's lawyers worked for HSLDA, and alluded to a connection with Bill Gothard's ATIA program. Upon hearing this from Mary, Donna Janney urged her to call Chris Klicka at HSLDA and let him know that GCA was continuing to disseminate misinformation about its relationship with HSLDA. Donna also said she would send Mary a packet of information about GCA/GCI.
The next day Mrs. Janney called Mr. Klicka again herself, who reported that Mrs. O'Nett had called him with the information about GCA-Indiana. He also said he hoped each such incident could be resolved as it occurred, but expressed his opinion that if GCA were really serious about clearing up all this confusion and miscommunication surely someone at the top of GCA ought to be able to get the facts passed down through the staff.
Donna spoke with Mary again on February 27th. To the information Mary had relayed in the previous call she now added that the attendees at the February 23rd GCA meeting were given a letter (along with the brochure) which also asserted a connection with HSLDA. Mary reiterated GCA's claims of a Bill Gothard connection, saying the Indiana coordinators stated that GCA was cooperating with Gothard and hoped to have something worked out in the future.
Also on the 27th Chris Klicka was interviewed along with other home school officials on the nationally syndicated radio talk show “Point of View.” Mrs. Janney took the opportunity to call in and ask him to elaborate publicly over the airwaves on the precise relationship between HSLDA and GCA. In the course of making her request Donna recounted the salient features of the history given above about the initial discovery in Wilmington of the discrepancy about HSLDA coverage of GCA members, the supposed rectification through the printing of new brochures and the distribution of Dave Smith's “explanatory letter” of November
21, 1986, and the continued dissemination of false and misleading information as recently as four days before this radio show. To the nationwide audience Mr. Klicka readily confirmed in no uncertain terms that there is no connection of any kind between HSLDA and GCA. He further advised any GCA members who might be listening to enroll with HSLDA directly.
On March 2 Mary O'Nett called Donna Janney to report on a conversation she had had with the local GCA director, Fred Douglas, in which she asked him about the HSLDA relationship. He replied (she said) that there was no connection with HSLDA, but that there was “consultation” arrangement. When Mary asked why GCA was still distributing the inaccurate brochures and letters, the GCA rep answered that it simply takes time for changes to “trickle down from the top.” Mary also told Donna that she had talked with a prominent former leader in GCI who told her that Bill Gothard had repeatedly confronted Jim McCotter about using his (Gothard's) name,89 but that McCotter was just ignoring him.
Four days later Mrs. Janney wrote a chronological account of events concerning GCA in Delaware, beginning with the spring of 1986, and mailed it to Chris Klicka. She also sent him a cassette tape of a portion of Steve Huhta's talk at the meeting on Saturday, November 26, 1986 - specifically, the portion in which he alleged that GCA was connected to HSLDA on a “consultation basis.” On March 12 Donna called HSLDA to learn Mr. Klicka's reaction to the information she had sent him. His secretary said he was very grateful to have such a full record of events; she also related that he was quite upset by Huhta's references to a “consultation basis” with HSLDA, especially after he had met with Dave Smith and Paul Abbott90 of GCA on November 21 and (he thought) made it crystal clear that there was absolutely no relationship whatever between the two organizations. The secretary also asked Mrs. Janney and the other concerned parents to pray about a scheduled meeting with GCA representatives at the HSLDA offices on March 18, then less than a week away.
Donna talked with Mary O'Nett again on March 18. The latter reported that she had spoken again with Fred Douglas, who told her that according to Dave Smith, Mr. Klicka probably did not know that two of HSLDA's lawyers were members of GCI churches and would be able to represent them in any home schooling cases. Mrs. O'Nett relayed this information back to Mr. Klicka. Also, Douglas reportedly told Mrs. O'Nett that Smith had reaffirmed that there was indeed no legal connection between GCA and HSLDA, and that the notification to that effect must have simply got lost in the mail.91 Mary also said she had written a letter to Bill Gothard to get his official position on GCA and Jim McCotter in writing. Gothard's secretary replied on his behalf on March 19, 1987 confirming that “there is no official relationship between the Institute [in Basic Youth Conflicts] and GCA” and that “it is our understanding that the GCA leadership does not allow their Headquarter's staff to be involved in” Gothard's ATIA home schooling program (see Exhibit H, page 191).
The following day Donna called Chris Klicka to ask about the meeting with GCA. He said those present were Dave Smith and Tom Short, representing GCA, and Michael Ferris and himself, for HSLDA. He also said there had been some 15 complaints about GCA since the previous November (i.e., in something under 5 months). Regarding Dave Smith's revelation about two HSLDA lawyers being members of GCI churches, Klicka said he knew that one of their lawyers (Dave Rollinson of New York) was in GCI, and also that he used the Gothard home schooling material.
The upshot of the March 18 GCA/HSLDA meeting was an agreement by Dave Smith to print a notice in GCA's national newsletter clarifying the relationship between the two groups. He also promised to send a copy of this newsletter to Mr. Klicka. Donna told Mr. Klicka she was unaware of any national GCA newsletter, at least as of the previous November. She also noted that it would be difficult to find out if such a newsletter with such a notice was actually distributed to each GCA group.
Finally, Mr. Klicka stated that HSLDA would definitely not be recommending Great Commission Academy to anyone, but for now they did not feel free to speak out too publicly against GCA. He said he would greatly appreciate being kept abreast of any further developments concerning GCA.
In reviewing this whole history it is difficult to understand how those in charge of Great Commission Academy, from Dave Smith on down, could be so totally unable to communicate the truth about GCA's relationship with HSLDA to their membership unless they simply wanted to fudge it. Surely the three months from Smith's letter of November 21, 1986 to the GCA-Indiana meeting of February 23, 1987 ought to have been sufficient time to spread the word throughout GCA's provinces. Such deliberately misleading statements and implications have been made many times in the earlier history of Great Commission International - for example, in Ames, Iowa in the 1970s when the Ames Fellowship Church established a series of organizations (THEOS, Iowa Web Printers, etc.) to disguise the connection of their newspaper, Today's Student, with the AFC, and to make it seem that it was associated with Iowa State University (see “Media Mandate?” above, as well as articles on this and related incidents reprinted in GCI in the News, available from this author).
On the other hand, it would be entirely consistent with the track record of other GCI enterprises and operations for this snafu to be simply a classic example of entrepreneurial incompetence (see, for example, “Editorial Hopscotch,” pages 151-152). Further, I was a personal friend of Dave Smith from the time Dave joined the Solid Rock Fellowship in Columbus, Ohio, in the summer of 1973 until I left the movement in April 1977, and I have no personal knowledge of any previous attempts by Smith to mislead or deceive in any context whatever. It is much more acceptable to assume that the GCA/HSLDA confusion was caused by straightforward managerial foul-up than by a moral/ethical lapse on the part of Smith or anyone associated with him. But the truth of the matter may never really be known.
Ken Janney's Resignation Address EXHIBIT D
I find that I will be unable to continue the Biology Lab under the auspices and control of Great Commission Academy. However, I will continue the lab as an independent study for any family that is home schooling.
I cannot remain in or support this organization any longer for the following reasons:
On Monday and Thursday of this week (Nov 17 & 20) calls were made to Home School Legal Defense Association. Mr. Chris Klicka of HSLDA Informed us that at the time that we registered with GCA near the end of last school year we should have been given a registration form for HSLDA and this was not done. He also informed us that the registration with HSLDA by Great Commission Academy was canceled the first week of July of 1986 as a result of a phone call made by John Hopler representing Great Commission International. At the time the coverage was canceled, Great Commission Academy, through John Hopler, representing Great Commission Internationa1, was told that they were required by the agreement with HSLDA to inform every family involved that they were no longer covered under the group, and that they would need to apply for individual protection. This was not done. John Hopler told Mr, Klicka that Great Commission International was going to hire an attorney from California to represent their interests and that he would also handle Home School Cases. Mr. Klicka told Mr. Hopler that in his opinion GCI was making a mistake In taking this matter upon themselves when they were not experienced, and HSLDA has already been before the Supreme Court on home school Cases more than once thus being more experienced. On Tuesday, Nov 18, Mr. Klicka called Dave Smith and asked if the notification of families had been done. His response was that it had been sent out in a letter to the home school families. I for one have not seen any letter nor has it been put into the newsletter published by Mrs. Marsh. The bottom line is that we were led to believe that we were paying for legal protection through HSLDA when in fact we were not.
This raises the question "Where has the money gone?"
Everyone who has not continued their individual coverage with HSLDA has been left out on a limb by Great Commission Academy. They may say that you are being represented by their organization but what if for some reason you were to fall into disfavor for whatever reason and required legal defense? An independent organization such as HSLDA could have no reason for a vendetta and the withholding of support that may be the result with an organization with a vested interest. Secondly, was anyone surveyed as to their desires in this matter or even asked for an opinion? The decision was made irrespective of the wishes of the concerned parties. On top of all of this, not only has there not been a statement informing the involved parties that this was done, they have continued to inform new families that HSLDA as the legal defense organization of affiliation.
Those of us that are leaving Great Commission Academy feel a responsibility to inform others in the organization and we have also taken steps to protect them. We have or will have a supply of registration forms for HSLDA for your use and will distribute them on request.
We find that we cannot stay in a group (Great Commission Academy) which has behind it an organization - namely Great Commission International - which has replaced the reliance on and commitment to Jesus Christ with a reliance on and commitment to a man, that man being Jim McCotter.
We have been investigating the background of Great Commission Academy and Great Commission International for three months and have been startled by what we have found. Dr. Walter Martin's cult research group the Christian Research Institute has this group under Investigation.
Thursday, Nov 20, we spoke personally with Bill Gothard by phone for 40 minutes. When we began speaking with him he told us that he would be speaking from the point of view that he would bend over backwards to defend Jim McCotter's actions, because he knows what it is like to be a public figure and have people trying to run him down. When we asked him what he wished us to convey at the meeting as to his involvement, he asked us to express to the group that in the past he had made appeals to Jim McCotter on some very serious issues, concerning some things which had been done within GCI. Jim McCotter had promised him that they would be straightened out. After we reported several recent incidents of even more serious consequences, all of which can be documented, he expressed his concern that matters have not improved but have gotten worse, He requested that documentation be supplied. We gave him some names and phone numbers for independent confirmation. Bill stated that he has documented evidence that Jim McCotter has denied members of his organization the freedom to use the ATI materials, based upon the fact that he does not want to relinquish his control over them. We realize that Jim Coleman in Dover is using the Gothard materials.
A large part of our investigation has been phone conversations with about a dozen people scattered across this country, the majority of which are excommunicated or disfellowshiped former elders of GCI. As a result of our investigation we have had in our possession since August documents which outline the history of Great Commission International from its foundation by Jim McCotter, Dennis Clark and Mike Keator, through the current status of the group and the heresy they perpetuate. Jim McCotter has published a book titled "Leadership: apostles and elders" in which he attempts to substantiate the claim that he is an apostle on a par with Paul and the 12. This has been challenged by several elders of GCI as being a false doctrine which exhalts [sic] Jim McCotter above all others.
We did not reveal this information immediately because we wanted to give the local group the benefit of the doubt and have taken a wait and see attitude. When we began to see the foundational doctrines of Great Commission International being put into effect here we determined that we could no longer wait.
Great Commission International has certain doctrines which it promotes, these being the doctrine of deception whereby the end justifies the means, based on Matt. 10:16, the doctrine of Hierarchical Apostleship, and the new light doctrine. There is a teaching tape on apostleship in which Jim McCotter claims that God has given him new light as an apostle. The most frightening information we have is the testimones [sic] of ex-GCIers and cult awareness about the mind control techniques used within the group.
I appeal to all to make their own investigation into GCI which started out as "the Blitz Movement". You can contact me and I will either go over the materials I have individually or refer you to an independent source. I would want to check it out before I made any decision to remain if I hadn't already decided to leave.
Conclusion: The Church of God
There could be no more fitting conclusion to this account of the Blitz movement than the following chapter from the book “Because ye Belong to Christ”, by John R. Caldwell (now out of print). What I personally pray for more than anything else is for God's truth to be fully and clearly manifested and completely embraced by all God's people, and for the Holy Spirit to be allowed all the room he wants and needs in our lives individually and corporately to glorify Christ in this world.
And I do pray that the additional chapter to which I alluded at the end of Part Two may one day soon be written. Clearly, Part Four is not that chapter.
THE CHURCH OF GOD:
ITS FELLOWSHIP AND GOVERNMENT
Before touching upon the subject of “The Government and Fellowship of the Church or Churches,” allow me to refer to another subject. It seems to me we have had very abundantly brought before us that aspect of the Church which is synonymous with “the Body of Christ.” The term “Body of Christ” is doubtless a figure, and wherever it is used the thought of vital union with the Head and with the fellow- members is prominent. The term “Church” describes the same thing, but without a figure. As you have again and again heard, the original word for “church” is “ecclesia,” and signifies “the called out,” and properly, also, in a derived sense, “the called together.” All believers have been called by God out of death into life, out of darkness into light, out from the power of Satan into the Kingdom of the Son of His love, out from the world and into the fellowship of the Son of God.
As these blessings are the common heritage of all believers, all are in that sense of the Church as well as of the Body of Christ.
I would refer you to one passage - Acts xx. 28 - in proof of this: “Feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with his own blood.” In this aspect the Church embraces all in this dispensation who are purchased by “His own blood.”92
I fail to see certain distinctions that have been drawn between “the Church,” “the Church of God,” “the Churches of Christ,” and so on.
It seems to me, as a simple reader of the Scriptures, that wherever the term “of God” is added to the word “Church,” there is a very definite and obvious reason for it. For instance, in the passage already referred to responsibility is laid upon those whom the Holy Spirit had fitted for the work, to feed the Church of God - the Church, that is, “of God” as to its very origin, “of God” as the object of His love, “of God” as the purchase of the blood of His own dear Son. How immensely the addition of the words “of God” adds to the importance of the work, and to the responsibility to do it well!
Take another instance - I Cor. xv. 9 - “I am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” Why not, as in Phil. iii. 6, when referring to the same facts, “persecuting the Church”? In the former he is showing the heinousness of his sin, and therefore emphasises the thought that it was that which was of God which he persecuted, which God loved and valued, even as the precious ransom-price at which He bought it. In the latter passage it is not the heinousness of his crime that he is exposing, but the sincerity and blindness of his zeal. No need in that sense to emphasise the thought of its being “of God.” And again, I Cor. xi. 22: “What! have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the Church of God?” As much as to say, “Will you dare, by your foolish behaviour, to despise that which is of God, God's dwelling-place, God's blood-bought and Spirit-sealed temple?”
It appears plain to me that the reason why the words “of God” are added in each of these cases is not to denote some different thing from what would be denoted by the term “Church,” but to emphasise the particular thought which at each point is prominently before the mind of the writer.
I would now turn to another aspect of the Church, which you will find in 3rd John. The pre-eminence which Diotrephes loved and acquired evidently involved a tremendous influence over the consciences of the believers, by means of which he was able to carry with him, in his high-handed casting out of the children of God, probably a very large proportion of the Church. And it is evident that he was one who would tolerate no difference of judgment whatever. If any dared to receive the brethren whom he would not receive, he forbade them, and if they would not bow to his decision, he cast them also out of the Church. So he narrowed down the circle of fellowship until he carried everything his own way!
If, as many of us have long believed, the Second Epistles bear upon the “last days,” surely the only Third Epistle brings us to the very end, and shows what we may expect to see at the final stage of the Church's history upon earth. Very special is its voice to us at the present time. Never was there a time when more high-handed action was taken or higher pretensions advanced among genuine children of God. In this passage “the Church “is recognised by the apostle at the same time that he acknowledges a number of beloved saints as being cast out of it. They could not be both in the Church and out of it at the same time. Here we have one distinct and definite instance, showing that the Church is not only spoken of in the wider sense of Acts xx. 28 - the Church of God as equivalent to the Body of Christ - but that it is also spoken of in a local sense, a gathered company of saints, expressive of the great divine ideal - having mutual relationship and responsibility as such which they are bound in the Lord to own and carry out. It was, therefore, quite a possible thing for those who were “members of the Body of Christ” and of “the Church of God “ purchased by the blood of Jesus to be outside of the local assembly.
It is in this aspect of the Church, wherein human responsibility comes in, that all our difficulties arise.
I would submit that what entitles any man to a place in the assembly locally, is the fact that he is of the Church purchased by the blood of Christ. I repeat it, that that which gives any man, in the first instance - “prima facie,” as the lawyers say - a title to be in the local assembly gathered unto the Lord's Name, is the prior fact that he was a member of the Body of Christ, and of that blood-bought Church in which God is to be glorified throughout the eternal ages (see Eph. iii. 21).
But some will ask, “Where is this Church?”
Dear friends, we must face the great and sorrowful fact that the Church upon earth, as a corporate thing in testimony here for God, has utterly failed - utterly failed in testimony corporately, not individually - for in the darkest ages Christ had His brightest lights - but corporately.
God in judgment has permitted it to be corrupted, broken up, divided, and scattered like the temple of old, of which not one stone was left upon another.
Out of all this terrible confusion God has been leading individual souls in these last days - here and there a few, at first tens, then hundreds, now thousands. Each one in the teaching and leading of His Spirit through the Word discovering the failure and ruin of the Church as a corporate witness for God, and owning his responsibility to the Lord, has been seeking his way back to the old foundation, to the original apostolic doctrine and pattern. They have sought to go where they could carry out His Word, having no appeal but the Scriptures, and owning no authority but that of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Such is the position God is leading them into.
One is led to it through seeing how sectarianism divides the children of God for whom Christ died that He might gather them into one (John xi. 52). Another is exercised in conscience about the mixing together of believers and unbelievers in what professes to be God's assembly.
But, however led, the result is that they find themselves together seeking in much weakness and ignorance, and yet with some measure of true-heartedness, to carry out what they have learned in the Word.
But all around is confusion. The world has become religious, and the children of God have become worldly, and are hand-in glove with the world. Errors have been imbibed even by true Christians, from human traditions as well as doctrines of demons and Satanic lies, such as “annihilation” and “the larger hope.” Amidst it all, is there anything to guide us in the Scriptures?
Let us turn to 2nd Timothy ii. 19. Here is a seal with two sides - a Godward side and a manward. The Godward side is, “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” In Acts ii. to v. there was little difficulty in knowing who were His. “Of the rest durst no man join himself unto them.” In days of persecution there is little difficulty - the chaff is driven away. In apostolic days, the local Church at Jerusalem or Corinth embraced the very same circle as the membership of the Body of Christ (I do not, of course, refer here to one put away by the Word of God for special sin), and it ought to be so still; but such is the havoc Satan has wrought in the corporate thing, that now we cannot tell who are and who are not the Lord's, as once it could be known. Hence the word for these last days: “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” That is God's side of the seal. What is ours?
“Let every one that nameth the Name of Christ (or the Lord) depart from iniquity (or unrighteous ness).” This is the call of God to us; and in departing from what God has shown us to be unrighteous ness, we shall find that we are not alone. We shall find that others whom God has been leading step by step, here a little and there a little, light dawning gradually upon their understandings, are casting in their lot with us. One is attracted by the truth, another by the separateness from the world and the coming together of believers only, another by the scriptural order and simplicity of the Spirit's leading in ministry and worship, and so on.
But the knowledge comes not all at once; and if you and I begin by demanding, as a condition of fellowship, the intelligent reception of truths that took us many years to learn, this is making our terms of fellowship, and not God's, and building again the walls of sectarianism.
Many references have been made to the reception of Saul at Jerusalem. Sometimes too much has been made of it, and sometimes too little - we are creatures of extremes - but this much at least to me is evident, the thing they did not know, and which they wanted to know, was whether or not he was a genuine disciple. Satisfied as to that, the way into the fellowship of the brethren was open to him. They had no morning newspaper or telegraphic news to inform them daily of what was going on at Damascus. Barnabas knew the facts of which they were ignorant, and his testimony was enough.
But 2nd Timothy shows us that that would not be enough now. Many an eloquent preacher holds the non-eternity of punishment. Such should not be received; it is fundamental error.
Others hold grievous error as to inspiration of Scripture, atonement, regeneration, and other cardinal doctrines.
Others there are who can only be regarded as causers of division, who think little of sowing discord among brethren and breaking up churches into fragments, if so be they can carry things their own way.
Looking at all that surrounds us, it is clearly not enough now to know that one is a converted person. It is necessary to know that he is sound in the faith as well as godly in his individual walk; in short, it must be known to those who receive him that there is no evil chargeable against him upon the ground of which Scripture would warrant his exclusion. Granted that the person is known to be a Christian - “a disciple” - and that there is nothing against him on the ground of which Scripture would warrant his exclusion, then, in the name of the Lord, we must receive him. I know no other ground, and I never did hold anything else since I left the denominations myself.
I warn you, dear friends, against overstepping the Word of God. You may reason out a very fine theory, hanging it upon some single verse of Scripture, and get many to accept it who do not take the pains to prove it by all Scripture.
For instance, what a theory is spun out of 2 Timothy ii. 25, 26! Certain assemblies that have accepted certain doctrines are “the Church of God.” All outside them is “the snare of the devil.” Every connection and association outside the so-called “Church of God” must be repented of, and separated from, as “snare of the devil,” before a believer, be he ever so godly, ever so ready to lay down his life for the Lord, and for what he knows of His will, can be accorded any measure of fellowship. Alas! may not those who hold such a theory, and ruthlessly force it upon others, be themselves, though they know it not, in Satan's snare.
I confess I feel ashamed to lift up my head as I think of such doctrines being advanced, of the sorrow they are causing, and the stumbling-block that is thus cast in the way of many who would fain follow were they gently led onward into the ways of the Lord. The truth should be held in love, and love should be in the truth; but these have been divorced - what God has joined has been put asunder, and therefore the judgment of God is upon us.
I believe we ought to endeavour to have as much fellowship with every child of God as we can have without compromising the truth. One, as the Lord's servant, may feel liberty to go where another could not. One might feel free where another would feel that his position for the time was a compromise. It is not our province to judge one another in such things, but to pray for one another, asking God that servants of His, who go where some of us could not go with a good conscience, may be used beyond even their own faith and expectation in leading children of God into light and love and liberty.
I would now shortly touch upon the Church's government. Read I Cor. iv 19-21: “But I will come unto you shortly if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” The apostles were empowered by the Lord Jesus Christ to enforce, if need be, obedience to that which was His revealed will. This power was entrusted to them, not in order to destruction, but for edification. I have heard an Irvingite - a member of what calls itself the Catholic Apostolic Church - say that they had apostles, and that “the signs of an apostle” in power and mighty deeds had been seen by him, even to the raising of the dead! I could only judge that the young man was labouring under a hallucination. I do not believe that any such power remains now. In implicit obedience to the Word of the Lord, we can put away from among ourselves those whom the Word of the Lord instructs us to put away, and we can and ought always to seek to be of one mind in so doing, that one may not be building up what others are breaking down, or vice versa.
But, I ask, if apostolic power is claimed, have we apostolic discernment? Have we apostolic patience? Have we apostolic grace? Are even Churches of Christ infallible? Are they not liable to make mistakes - fastening, perhaps, upon a troublesome brother the title “railer,” or “covetous,” as a pretext for getting decently rid of him? Are all other assemblies to be subject to such a judgment as that?
Differences do not, as a rule, arise as to a drunkard or a proved and admitted holder of non-eternity, but about dubious cases where evil feelings have been generated. Then, instead of patiently and in brokenness of heart seeking unto the Lord for oneness of mind and judgment, the cry is raised, as of old, by the woman who had not the mother's heart, “Divide the child!” But the mother's heart yearned over the object of her love. And we have to get this grace from the God of all grace even now, to yearn over the feeble, scattered sheep who are being fed with much that is not bread, and with scant measure of grace.
We need patience and love, as well as clearest, simplest truth ministered from and unto childlike hearts.
May God raise up among us pastors and teachers after His own heart - men who shall be felt to be helpers and comforters every time they open their lips.
Brethren, have you cried to God for such? Rarely, if ever, have I heard this prayer.
Satan is busy. When walking along the streets of London I have seen men selling penny puzzles. I never yet found out one of these puzzles until some one who knew the secret showed it to me. It may seem a trivial illustration; but I tell you Satanic ingenuity is at work to put into the hands of every company of believers a question to engender strife, a difficulty they cannot unravel, a Satanic puzzle which they cannot unlock; and so they puzzle and puzzle, and wrangle and fight, till, patience exhausted, the attempt is given up, the cry is raised, “Divide,” and Satan has gained his end. Surely in such cases it is a call for both parties to humble themselves before God, and to seek, in patient waiting upon Him, “a right way,” so that oneness of mind may be attained, and, if not immediately, that there might at any rate be patience with one another, mutual respect, and brotherly love.
But it is often otherwise. Brethren, would-be leaders, finding they have not power to convince others that their principles and practices are scriptural, and that they have as little power to enforce their judgment, resort to the only other method they can devise, namely, an open schism, and this not as a matter of shame, but a subject of boasting, asserting their claim to be acknowledged by all as “the Church of God in that place,” with the penalty attached, as of old by Diotrephes, that all, whether individuals or assemblies, who do not endorse this assumption shall no longer be regarded as “in or of the fellowship of the Church of God.”
Such divisions necessarily cause difficulty in assemblies far and near, often giving rise to roots of bitterness that bear like evil fruit.
In all such matters of dispute and difference of judgment, would it not be well, before the extreme of open division is contemplated, much less resorted to, to obtain counsel from wise and godly brethren, in whom all would have confidence, who not being immediately concerned, and therefore less liable to prejudice and party feeling than the contending parties, might bring light from the Scriptures to show where either or both have gone wrong, and so help to heal the breach?
O may God open the eyes of His children to the subtlety of Satan's devices for the spoiling of the testimony of every feeble company that God has gathered in these last days around His Son.
 See page 143-144.
 See page 174.
 Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his own household” - Matt. 10:34-36. However, in this passage Jesus did not mean that his followers would initiate the family split, and certainly not over trumped-up charges of faction.
 The irony of this incident is that at least one Blitz leader, Dennis Clark, had attended a Gothard seminar some years earlier and had already been teaching many of Gothard's ideas in the Solid Rock Fellowship and other churches. Further, at a meeting of Great Commission Academy families in Indiana on February 23, 1987, the leaders alluded to some kind of connection with Bill Gothard's home schooling institute, ATIA. As recounted by the woman I call Mary O'Nett (see page 224), the Indiana coordinators stated that GCA was cooperating with Bill Gothard and hoped to have something worked out in the future. Some GCI elders and others were using the ATIA material - for example, elder Jim Coleman, then in Dover, Del., and Dave Rollinson, a GCI member as well as a lawyer for the Home School Legal Defense Association - even though, according to a Gothard spokesperson, McCotter had been forbidding his followers to use it, and the GCA leaders forbade their headquarters staff to use it. Yet at the same time McCotter had been dropping Gothard's name as if he somehow supported McCotter, something Gothard had confronted him on repeatedly.
 This is now Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque, Iowa.
 It was actually Brian Catalano - see above.
 The Senator was Dan Quail.
 Earle Fries is not a famous theologian. He is a Bible teacher, at that time connected with the Plymouth Brethren-affiliated Emmaus Bible School, then located in Oak Park, Ill. He was definitely not living in Switzerland, as Jim rather implied, but was there on vacation. I saw Earle several years later at a Brethren-sponsored Decade of Promise conference in Chicago and told him what Jim had said about their meeting in Switzerland. He simply laughed, then added that he was not at all impressed with what Jim told him about knowing the will of God.
 See the similar case involving Fred Colvin in Columbus on page 66.
 This was in early 1985.
 Paul Martin and Rick Harvey were there, too, to support Ray.
 See pages 166T.
 Slick 50 produces “engine treatments” designed to make automobile engines run better. According to a report in the Skeptics Dictionary [http://skepdic.com/slick50.html] the basic ingredient in the Slick 50 products, and in similar products from other companies, is PTFE, also known as Teflon®. The report also cites DuPont, the maker of Teflon®, to the effect that “Teflon is not useful as an ingredient in oil additives or oils used for internal combustion engines.”
 See pages 149-150.
 Ray Moore added that Jim had also rented a nicely furnished office suite for a day or two, to further impress this prospective buyer.
 Vol. 2 No.5, July 1984, and Vol. 2 No. 6, August 1984.
 The only thing that made McCotter a “national collegiate speaker” was the fact that he had spoken on many campuses under the auspices of the Blitz/GCI. He had never spoken on a university campus as the result of an official invitation of the university, as, for example, part of a university lecture series. But this was typical of McCotter and Great Commission: saying things which from one perspective might be technically true (e.g., McCotter has spoken on numerous college and university campuses), but from a broader perspective are largely misleading (i.e., McCotter was never invited to speak by university officials or as part of a formal university program).
 Those reasons are given on pages 149-150.
 Apparently the Blitz leaders decided to begin publishing before they had orders for 100,000 copies, contrary to Whitney's statement above.
 The exhibits mentioned in connection with the KANE report are not attached to this book, but the entire KANE report, minus the exhibits, is included as Appendix Four.
 According to the KANE report, “The Ripamontis are two of three siblings, wealthy inheritors of a fortune estimated at forty million dollars, GCI members and apparently a major financial resource for McCotter.” The KANE report also says that The Ripamontis' father was the president of the Italian Stock Exchange.
 Gumlia had been making his living for some time as a professional golfer. He left the pro golf tour to join the Blitz.
 See footnote 35, page 215, for discussion of the word “obey” in this verse.
 This was something of a pattern in Blitz/GCI churches. See “The Case of Kandy Kline, pages 92T.”
 See “Levitical Tithing”
 See “Apostleship for Today?”
 Wilcox added that Clint was made to believe that the conflict was his fault.
 Again, see footnote 35 on page 215.
 Another “late night gang-up” of the type that had become standard operating procedure in dealing with dissidents. While these “gang-ups” sometimes took place during the day, as in the case of Jimmy DeYoung (see page 183-184), the late night variety was more common (see also page 76 for an account of Joyce Zambon's experience).
 In his letter of invitation to the February 1 meeting, Gary had begun by writing, “A concern I have for the time when Jim & Dave meet with us on 2-8 is that nothing will be accomplished. To see something happen I am proposing the following outline so that we all can state in a precise and concise way our collective concerns about the body. Once something is clearly stated, then Jim & Dave would have something to answer.”
 See Appendix 3 for a verbatim transcript of the audiotape made of this meeting. Notice especially page 265 for an instance of the silencing of Scott Wilcox when he sought to speak in Gary's defense.
 A term coined by Bill Gothard of the Institute in Basic Life Principles. This is evidence of Gothard's influence over GCI leaders, even though McCotter forbade GCI members to use material produced by Gothard's home schooling institute, ATIA (see page 22).
 A thorough, well-written, and well-documented exposé of Mr. Gothard's own serious problems is the book A Matter of Basic Principles, by Don Veinot, Joy Veinot, and Ron Henzel of Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., P.O. Box 455, Lombard, IL 60148-0455.
 In spite of McCotter's prohibition, some in GCI were nevertheless using the Gothard-developed materials. One of these was GCI elder Jim Coleman, then in Dover, Del.
 According to An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W.E. Vine, the Greek word peithō, translated “obey” in Heb. 13:17, means “to persuade, to win over, in the Passive and Middle Voices, to be persuaded, to listen to, to obey… The obedience suggested is not by submission to authority, but resulting from persuasion.
“Peithō and pisteuō, 'to trust,' are closely related etymologically; the difference in meaning is that the former implies the obedience that is produced by the latter… Faith is of the heart, invisible to men; obedience is of the conduct and may be observed. When a man obeys God he gives the only possible evidence that in his heart he believes God. Of course it is persuasion of the truth that results in faith (we believe because we are persuaded the thing is true, a thing does not become true because it is believed), but peithō, in the N.T. suggests an actual and outward result of the inward persuasion and consequent faith.”
 This view may not be current.
 Due to bankruptcy CAN was taken over by the Church of Scientology in 1995 and is no longer reliable as a source of information.
 Apparently as giving support or approval to GCI/GCA.
 Abbott later left GCI and started his own church in Gaithersburg, Md. Also, Steve Huhta and Eric Chase eventually moved from Newark, Del., to become pastors of the GCI church in Silver Spring, Md. They, too, eventually withdrew from GCI, taking the whole church with them.
 If this was the case, then it must have got lost in the mail to both Indiana and Delaware.
 It is asserted that the word rendered “purchased” ought to be “acquired.” Possibly this may be a better rendering, but it in no way affects the point we contend for, that all acquired by the blood are in the Church of God in this aspect of it.