WINGS Note: Written by a professing couple and posted with their permission.
May 9, 2023
We want to ask for your input on what follows below. Your suggestions are needed for how to encourage change, as there are many people with serious concerns about the Ministry. Also please feel free to share this message as this is about transparency, accountability and honesty.
A few months ago, when the CSA tipping point arrived in our collective view, we knew that there were very few people that would be willing to tackle this matter. However, over the last couple of months there has been momentum growing and people that were previously reluctant to speak up and stand out are now doing so.
We truly value the blessings that flow from Fellowship in the Spirit but without unity true fellowship through the Spirit is not possible. Going into a future where there are camps of those that support the status quo and those that do not will destroy unity, which we are already experiencing. Most of you know we have had an unsanctioned Sunday meeting for the last 6 weeks or so and we have had some of our most precious meetings in that time, with the Spirit very clearly present. If our hearts and true intentions are of God, we will get true bread and we will be strengthened. This is a storm and foundations are getting tested.
Unfortunately the foundations of the Ministry are being shaken and are not faring very well. We don’t intend to write this as a “call to battle” or as people looking for a platform of support to further a personal agenda – far from it. We would gladly pass this on to anyone else better equipped to handle this. We are motivated by the Love of our Fellowship and of the Doctrine of Jesus and find the hurt that people are experiencing too much to just stand by and observe. We pray for Gods guidance every day in this, and we have Faith that the Spirit will be with us and will guide us.
List of possible changes:
These are suggestions and we ask for your input please:
- No more Overseers as we know it. The oversight of the Ministry be both Servant and Saint (men and women). Elders and Overseers are interchangeable in the New Testament. This will promote balance, accountability and transparency.
- Accountability and transparency of how Ministry money is spent and a return to living by Faith.
- Do away with the “culture of conformance” (as opposed to following Doctrine) and fear of being sidelined or ostracized.
- Keep an active watch against Cultism. The Ministry culture of male dominance, power and weaponization of fear must stop. The latter should apply to the friends as well.
- Administrative and planning meetings to not be held by Overseers only, but a combination of Servant and Saint.
- Convention time workers’ meetings to include Elders and Deacons. We need transparency, not secrecy.
- New workers be screened for suitability.
- Life experience – paid rent, held down a job, etc.
- [No] Criminal past.
- The work should not be a place for people who have no other options, as this becomes a natural reason applied to a sacred calling.
- Workers are not immune to being questioned about their actions. – this should be about open, transparent and constructive communication in the Spirit of Christ.
- The Spirit of Christ does no harm to a neighbour, so a culture that results in so many traumatized friends and workers both male and female, needs to be urgently addressed.
- Stay away from politics and socio-political issues.
For many years there has been a culture of covering up bad news and we believe that in some cases the intentions were noble but severely flawed. One such reasoning was that we don’t want bad news to discourage the sheep. However the sheep walk before God as individuals. We will be disappointed in man from time to time and we should not be surprised or discouraged by it. Secrecy is discouraging, not transparency.
Again we welcome any suggestions and understand that we may not all agree with each other but Prayer, Love and Grace will enable us to come together and with God’s help fix the Fellowship we love and cherish. You can text us with any input, feedback or suggestions. Our contact details:
Jeremy cell REDACTED
Leonie cell REDACTED
Jeremy and Leonie Tomlinson
I agree with everything you’ve stated. I’m not sure why your Sunday meeting isn’t “sanctioned “, perhaps you’re not free to speak to that, but I wonder if those attending have left other Sunday meetings that are sanctioned…if that’s the case ,then the call for unity rings a bit hollow, perhaps even somewhat hypocritical. There’s already a lack of unity among the workers regarding divorce and remarried friends taking part in the meetings.
I believe this letter is written by some folks in Canada, if you go back over the last 6 weeks and read letters written from Canada it sounds as tho things are exceptionally bad there. So we cannot point fingers of judgement, in my opinion on the sanctioned or non sanctioned mtgs because we are not in their shoes. I agree with nearly every point that is made here by the Tomlinsons. There needs to be some pretty drastic surgical measures to remove the cancer of a “secret society” of an “us” vs “them” culture of the workers and the saints. We should ALL be pulling together as a team as is suggested and nothing hidden by one society from the other. I have had a family member that had to leave the work and they immediately went to the “them ‘ category when they left the work. You can’t be a part of the secret club any longer when you leave. That’s sad. I hope positive changes are coming.
I’ve had a bit to do with those in Western Canada. They seem to be more conservative and hard-core there.
I agree with this whole heartedly, and my only suggestion may have been covered by the intent of removing the culture of conformance and fear of being sidelined. We need to get out of the judgement and punishment business. We need to welcome everyone as they are and allow God to change or remove people as He sees fit. The idea that we have some kind of authority to enforce a standard is not scriptural and results in nothing but harm. Our duty to one another is to love. If we can all do that as hard as we can I think the results will be more powerful than we can comprehend.
Amen!! Church should be more like a hospital, were the wounded and sick can come together and receive healing without being judged! IF the outward appearance matters ( and I don’t think it does) God will take care of it. It is not for us to make rules about it. Our church has become very exclusive, judgemental, and arrogant and it needs to change!
I agree with your suggestions. Transparency and truth, a light on everything. To many things have been hidden. There is something wrong when so many things are minimized and swept under the carpet. This is more in line with the Devils work. Darkness. Enough is enough. This is a ground zero moment for the TRUTH.
It has been said that the greatest religion in the world is the “i-think” religion. The suggestions in the above letter are a prime example to that.
The most dangerous religion is the world is the “I don’t think” religion.
I found number seven heartbreaking…being in the work I had a wonderful overseer is this precious experience. This was gone on from years and thanks to Doyle it is now being addressed. Overseer(s) are needful. Elder and worker meetings are important…very important. There are good points in this. Jesus lead and chose the ministry…they were not screened but chosen.
Thank you for your courage and advocacy for change.
Priority 1 expectations (ideas that confront the CSA/ SA issue directly and require professional input):
1A) [Ministry safe training & CSA awareness document] required for all workers, elders & wives; and recommended for all parents and grandparents so we are all aware and can help recognize and stop grooming behaviors which can be very subtle to the uninformed. In our area this training has already been encouraged for all.
1B) [Child safe policy] coming next in our state . Other areas have already published similar.
1C) [Code of conduct] in the plans for our state for workers and elders(?). Some areas have this already. Rule of 2 when visiting homes and w/ people. (a boyscouts policy following their scandal), This may be in the child safe or code of conduct policies.
1D) [A new zero tolerance policy] if not already included above as part of 1b that focuses on doing all of the things required by law(reporting suspicious behavior promptly), in addition to the morally right things(no cover up dishonesty/ letting things slide, which is also terribly wrong).
1E) [The implementation/ enforcement of that new zero tolerance policy] which we are already seeing this start with each removal. This also means going forward removing these people promptly from positions of any responsibility if not fellowship entirely for life (1Cor5, and professional recommendation) and reporting to law enforcement as required by law, not discouraging survivors from pressing charges.
1F) [Removal of any overseer from overseer duties that is not on board or comfortable with making appropriate changes at this time].
1G) [Encouraging the offenders to practice the 3Rs as recommended by professionals] including sincerely apologizing to their victims, admit to their crimes, and paying for therapy for their survivors.
1H) [Fundraising to help survivors pay for therapy] through advocatesforTHEtruth.com or similar. If there is some big trust or account that is being pulled from for conventions etc we should be pulling some big percentage of those funds to pay for therapy for survivors. So far the fundrasing there is embarrasingly slow considering we have so many affected worldwide and over decades. Part of this is b/c people don’t know about these websites, and because advocates is new with little content so far. We should practice compassion for the survivors. We own blame for grosley and very naivley mishandling CSA/SA in the past. Judges 20 most of Israel didn’t even recognize their idea for handling the first issue in Judges 19 was also very wicked…the Lord knew and made it clear.
1I) [Cease and desist immediately from exporting problem people] to other locations/ parts of the world. Ensure any with CSA/ SA history are recalled home to be dealt with.
1J) [Ensure our people in other parts of the world/ languages are aware of this issue]…right now I’m guessing we’re likely dealing with issues mostly from the English speaking parts of the world (I don’t have info to support this assumption). I’m really concerned for all the Spanish speaking countries especially.
1K) I wonder if some may have a [stash of old letters/ documents regarding past issues]. I’ve heard 1 example of this. My best guess is all these offenders didn’t just materialize in one month, people w/ responsibility likely knew about quite a few of them…time to go through it and clean out/report all the issues now.
1L) [A blacklist] some way of ensuring that perps don’t just move to another region/ country and jump right back into meetings/ elder/ the work etc. I’ve heard 2 examples of this. Overseers in different countries and regions will need to work together to try to keep offending/ grossly immoral people out of the work or as elder in other regions or even countries after they are kicked out. Background checks in future would include contacting the overseers from the places that person originated from before they can be trusted with responsibility.
Priority 2 (brainstorming ideas for changing the tradition/ practice things that require overseer, bro/ sis worker and elders & wives input)