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Richard (Rick) Harvey was raised in a Christian home, the son of an Evangelical Christian pastor and a devout mother. At a very early age he accepted Jesus Christ as his own personal Savior and Lord. Throughout his years as a youth, he was exposed to a variety of Evangelical Christian thinking, from the holiness perspective of the Salvation Army and the Church of God (Anderson), to the perspectives of the Southern Baptists, Navigators, and Plymouth Brethren.

During his time overseas, both in the Army, and as a civilian, he served as an assistant to the Navigator Staff Servicemen’s Representative for the Orient, and lived for a year in his home on the island of Okinawa.

Upon his return to the United States, he associated briefly with groups loosely associated with the Plymouth Brethren assemblies.

In 1971 he helped to found a church in Normal, Oklahoma, structured basically along Plymouth Brethren lines. In 1972, using his influence as a key leader within that church, he moved it into close association with a group of similar churches throughout the mid-west, called, informally, the “Blitz”, and later renamed “Great Commission Incorporated” (GCI). The most prominent national leader of that group since its very beginning has been a man named Jim McCotter.

By the mid 1970’s the church in Norman had grown until nearly two hundred and fifty people were in regular attendance, and Harvey had become the most prominent and influential of its three elders. In 1977, at a national elders’ conference held in the mountains of western New Mexico, Harvey began to be included in the inner circle of four to six elders, including Jim McCotter, who served as the core of the national leadership.

In the mid 70’s Harvey became a key speaker at all GCI regional and national conferences which he attended from that time until his withdrawal from leadership in February of 1981. At the national conference of GCI members in August 1980, at Rutgers University, there were about 1500 members present, making it the largest GCI conference to that date. Besides McCotter, Harvey was the only other GCI leader to be offered, and to accept, a major speaking role at that conference.

In the winter of 1980-81, the elders and deacons in Harvey's church were becoming increasingly disillusioned with his leadership, and with their church's close ties to McCotter and GCI. In response to their concerns, Harvey voluntarily removed himself from active leadership in February, and in late 1981 he resigned as an elder.

Most of the church membership, including two recently appointed elders, left the church between 1980 and 1983, due to its problems, and their differences with McCotter and GCI. Harvey, and a handful of twenty-five to thirty others remained.

Beginning in February of 1985 Harvey began to write letters, phone, and talk to a number of former church members, in order to acknowledge his own wrongs of the past, and to ask forgiveness from those he had offended or hurt. The response he received was virtually unanimously favorable.

Harvey's own disillusionment with McCotter and GCI had begun as early as 1977, and in the time frame of 1982-85 it grew considerably. In July of 1985 he withdrew his affiliation from the Norman GCI church, and from the national association.

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