CSA AND SA meeting Tuesday May 23rd 7pm – Held in Georgia
Workers Present: Kelvin Naef (Overseer), Audrey Fuller, Carl Nelson, Sharon Wahlin
[WINGS Note: 16 friends were present; 4 of the couples were elders]
Meeting was opened with prayer and then the first question was asked: Are there currently any friends or workers in GA that have allegations of CSA or SA against them, past or present? 4 GA workers present said they aren’t aware of any current allegations.
A friend asked what the process is for ensuring that workers who come to Georgia don’t have a history of CSA/SA because it’s been the process in the past to move accused workers on to other states. Carl Nelson stated that he’s not aware of any current policy in the US or Canada and that things haven’t always been handled the right thing in the past. Ministry Safe is being implemented nation-wide.
A friend asked for the procedure on how something reported is handled. Carl said that the workers are mandatory reporters, that most workers did not know this because they don’t have professional training, but 15 years ago a worker found out the hard way that the workers are all mandatory reporters. That is now their policy, to report to the authorities when there’s an allegation. Kelvin Naef said that when it involves children, it’s really out of the workers’ hands.
A friend clarified that 20+ years ago, friends took allegations to the workers according to scripture, but laws have changed and what he’s now hearing is that friends need to take allegations directly to the law, not elders or senior workers. A friend knowledgeable in the laws of this told everyone that Child Protective Services is who should be notified when the allegations involve a child. Carl said that the GA workers have information they’re going to send to all of the friends giving information about legal steps to take regarding CSA and SA. The forms they have are from the recent Texas seminar but they’ve modified it for the laws of GA/SC/FL.
A friend encouraged all friends who haven’t already to take the Ministry Safe course. It’s open to everyone, costs $10 and takes about an hour to complete. Another friend said that there’s information on the course for parents.
Kelvin let everyone know that about 15 years ago some of these issues arose in other states and at that time several brothers met with professionals to get advice on how to handle them. After that the brothers had sessions with every staff in the midwest and eastern states. That was when they were all asked to take the Ministry Safe course and most have taken it multiple times. These are things that they have been educated about for 15 years now and many friends are not aware of that.
A friend asked if all workers nationwide have taken the course. Kelvin said that he believes now that all have taken it. Unfortunately it wasn’t done everywhere prior to recent events, but it was done in all eastern and midwestern states.
A friend asked if the workers notify the friends when there’s an allegation or a conviction. Carl said that there’s a risk in an innocent person’s life being destroyed, but that there has to be some transparency too, so the practice is to notify when there’s an allegation. Audrey Fuller agreed, stating that many times perpetrators are never convicted. A friend asked what a “credible allegation” meant. Carl asked “Where do you draw the line?” Another friend stated that “You don’t draw the line. If a child has the courage to come forward and say anything, you give them the benefit of the doubt and you report. There is no gray area here.”
Another friend asked how situations that aren’t criminal but just inappropriate for those in the work are handled, including those involving two consensual individuals in the work. Stated thankfulness for workers willing to give up marriage and families, but asked if workers who have allowed themselves into temptation are asked to step down if they don’t decide to do that themselves. It shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing for a worker to make the decision that they want to leave the work for love, but also not a good thing for the ministry for them to stay in the work.
Another friend brought up the business setting: In a business setting, if a leader has allegations of even a consensual relationship with an employee, the board of directors would immediately call an investigation and if found to be true, he/she would be immediately terminated. Rumors of Robert Flippo’s relationships circulated a long time ago. There is zero possibility that no workers knew about this then if multiple friends knew. In regular life, there are certain standards that leaders are held to. Those leaders don’t go into people’s houses. The workers go into people’s houses so there should be standards and processes.
Audrey Fuller said that she thinks a pattern of behavior is really important. David made a bad mistake with Bathsheba and there were consequences but it was once. It was not five or six times. When there’s a pattern of behavior, obviously it’s something we have to address.
A friend said that we need to know about things that happen in the entire country or world, not just in our state. This is a global family. We don’t expect perfection, we just need information.
Another friend said that overseers asking not to share information with others or not addressing things because they happened in other states is unrealistic. People are sharing on social media but we shouldn’t hear about these things there, we should hear them from the workers.
Audrey also stated that the power difference in a relationship involving at least one worker is a huge consideration.
A friend said that in Iowa, it is criminal for clergy to have a physical relationship with a member of their congregation. But there’s also a moral side, not just legal.
Another friend said there’s common sense about what’s right and wrong and reiterated that transparency is important. The doubt needs to be dispelled, otherwise people are being left to interpret the information.
Another friend said that we don’t want to lose friends over a lack of information. The workers work so hard at bringing people into the fold, but what about the ones who are here?
Audrey said that one of the moderators of Wings told her 7 years ago that over 200 people had left the fellowship over Ira Hobbs and that broke her heart. The workers knew about all of the allegations. A friend said that as a child she heard the allegations, and her parents dismissed it. Carl said that when that came out, a letter was sent to Texas friends and there was nothing swept under the rug. He said that they try to handle things on a case by case basis and try to be led by the spirit about when and how to release information, aside from the legal side of things. He said they love and live among the friends and become aware of things throughout the kingdom but it’s not in their nature to expose failings.
A friend asked if other states were notified about Ira Hobbs, but Carl said he wasn’t here at the time. Another friend said that there are many friends concerned about these things and that it would give us all a lot more peace to know these things. Maybe the workers feel that sharing these things would cause issues, but not saying things creates bigger problems. There are a lot of the friends talking to each other about these things, and if the workers are trying to keep things silent, that’s not happening.
Kelvin replied that they haven’t been silencing people, but have been going on special meetings visits the last few weeks and talking about these things daily.
A friend said that one of the issues is that there isn’t unity among the overseers; things are done by borders or states and not across the fellowship. Those borders need to be wiped out as information travels so fast. These are one kingdom issues. Covid was a perfect example, in that there wasn’t unity in how things were handled. All of us here want to see change. Will the status quo just continue because the status quo is not safe. Asked again for a process for dealing with these things to be created.
Carl said they like to respond to the flock as the need appears, and to not write policies for the kingdom but to have a spirit-led ministry. Said there won’t be one policy that works for the whole ministry. A friend asked what we do if someone like Dean Bruer is the one deciding these things, obviously not spirit-led. Carl said that in Bible days there were people in authority making bad decisions and the Lord removed them. A friend said that we hear that, but it is time for the senior workers to get together and have these discussions. Individuals making these decisions is not healthy as there are often senior workers not making spirit-led decisions. The friends often treat the workers as if they’re mini-Gods and that is wrong.
Another friend spoke that there has been some minimizing of sexual assault, not involving children. There is a question of consent, and when there is a difference of any kind of power, there is no consent. There needs to be a standard, just because of the nature of abuse. It is so different from the perspective of a woman-what men may think is consensual is often not. Kelvin asked all to think about King David, who was in a position of high power and committed adultery and murder but the Lord did not remove him from being king. Audrey said that the Lord didn’t remove him from being king, but he was not going into people’s homes.
A friend said he’s recently worked with a neuroethicist to determine in the workplace how to maintain ethics in the conversations between caregivers and patients. She said that there’s a standard of law that’s above the written law. Those things will usually eventually become written law, but they usually exist because there’s an imbalance of power. Friend said he thinks the ministry would have a standard above the universal laws of the workplace.
Ministry Safe was implemented in the midwest and the east. Current events that started these conversations happened in the west. This put the workers in the east in an awkward place. There has been a lack of harmony between the east and west coasts for at least 75 years or more. We need to pray for our leaders. This problem is at the top. Said he thinks the Lord is cleaning up some things before he brings the two coasts together. We need to be patient with the Lord but pray really hard that those leaders are childlike and praying and not considering themselves in the situation. This division in not just in the United States but around the world. We love that we’re not an institution, but it’s difficult to create uniformity without becoming an institution.
Another friend said that outside pressure might lead to us needing to become an institution, paying taxes etc. This change is good. Previous generations would never have asked for a meeting like this. Another friend said she’s encouraged that everyone at this meeting cared enough about the family of God to want to make it safe and to have unity.
A friend asked a question that’s been on his heart for a while: “For over 120 years now, we have been indoctrinated to accept that our fellowship is the only right way, the perfect way, so now it has become clear that in order to preserve that doctrine, secrecy and coverups have been the standard mode of operation at every level. Do the workers plan to continue teaching that doctrine?’ Said when his son was 7 years old, on the way home from convention, he asked his dad “Do all of the other preachers in the world know that they’re going to hell? Said this is so unfair to our children, mental abuse even. This seems to be the spirit of our group, and in order to preserve the doctrine of the “perfect way,” we have to have secrecy and coverups.
Carl said he speaks in gospel meetings that Christ is the only way, not we are the only way. But there will be unity among the brethren. The spirit separates the Lord’s people. In Acts 15, there was disunity but it took time to work those things out. The spirit was leading in those matters even though there were some different opinions about the right forward. Kelvin said he’s been in all of the western states, where he found good fellowship and his own personal experience tells him that we have a lot more in common than we have differences.
A friend said he’s also experienced unity, but there are also things that need to be addressed collectively (divorce and remarriage, etc). This will bring people together. Salvation belongs to God, and the scripture says that God’s desire is that all should be saved. Thankfully it is God, because if some human was making that decision, we would have a massive mess on our hands. Several offered their own experiences on this topic.
Rob, A worker who flew in from Italy this same day, gave an outside perspective about grapes vines in Italy. If the branches abide in the vine in every part of that country, there is fruit. Our responsibility is to God, and that is what keeps us together. Original questioner of the “one way doctrine” gave the opinion that William Irvine and George Walker established a system of fellowship. Several workers gave Biblical references that backed up the meeting in the home as how God wants us to serve. Different opinions expressed but several in the room.
A friend moved the conversation back to CSA/SA and brought up liability of workers and convention ground owners of not handling matters appropriately. A council needs to be created to come to standard about these matters: including sister workers and elders.
Another friend asked why if God is in control, has this all been allowed to happen to victims, especially little children. Said he grew up in a country where he was mentally and emotionally abused by the workers so he feels very strongly about this. More discussion about the way being Jesus, not a manner of worship. Agreement to be careful to not follow humans, but Jesus. A friend said we’re the ones who have to make the change, that moving forward we can focus on whom we believe in, not what we believe in.
Another friend talked about the language we use being important, especially with our children, so that moving forward we’re more focused on Jesus and less than on the people. Another friend asked that workers touch on being compassionate and listening to and validating people (women) who come forward with allegations of abuse. The victims have suffered double than what they should have. Love is our banner, but we haven’t shown that love towards victims in the past.
Another friend said that Paul made it clear that man wasn’t above woman or vice versa. A topic for another day on the balance of power among men and women in the work. A friend got emotional asking for concern for safety for women and children in the fellowship moving forward. Asked for open dialogue moving forward.
Another friend said it’s not enough to tell people to be patient. There have to be steps forward to make people feel comfortable. We need to continue to have these types of discussions. People are desperate to talk about things. Kelvin said they’ve been visiting individually with friends for weeks over the special meeting rounds and are very happy to discuss these things within homes. A friend said that in Ezekiel 34, God instructs shepherds on how to care for the sheep. Kelvin said they do have a feeling of love and care for the friends. Said they’re not perfect, but want to do the best they can. He wanted to let the friends know that the staff did have a recent informal session together, reviewing what is appropriate and inappropriate in the work. Said they’re trying to educate the staff but can’t force or control people.
Carl said this education information will be going out to all homes in the three states. They will also strongly suggest that elders take the ministry safe course. A friend said that even sharing that the workers have been discussing these things with the entire congregation would really help people to feel peace. Sending letters out on a periodic basis would quell a lot of concerns.
Kelvin said he can only think of four meetings in 48 years in the work where a staff has discussed organizational matters. A friend suggested that they have far more to make decisions as a staff.
Another friend said we’re all here because we care. It’s all about having more transparency and more communication on the evidence of change. Another said not to fear to communicate. Children can handle anything except being lied to, even a lie of omission, even if honorable. Same with us. We can handle things and we’ll have more peace knowing them, especially about CSA or SA.
Meeting wrapped up.
They always bring up David as a justification for leaving immoral and abusers in the work. It’s despicable.
Queue up David the adulterer and murderer when it’s time to excuse their behavior. But victims should be like the David who wouldn’t raise a hand against Saul.
They conveniently forget the David who started as a shepherd and killed the lion and the bear that threatened the sheep.
What they don’t get is that David was not in a celibate ministry and he was not a minister living with families with kids and wives!
David wasn’t a worker or abusing children.
“Kelvin said they do have a feeling of love and care for the friends. Said they’re not perfect, but want to do the best they can. He wanted to let the friends know that the staff did have a recent informal session together, reviewing what is appropriate and inappropriate in the work. Said they’re trying to educate the staff but can’t force or control people”. Typical “worker” talk, “…want to do the BEST they can”. That is similar to, I want to be MORE like…. These standards are not measurable and are meaningless. Also, what is appropriate/ inappropriate in the work — really? You’re sending adults into private homes and you think you’re going to have control over some creep with an agenda to get a kid alone is going to listen to what is appropriate? My daughter was abused by a long established worker, who is still a worker and what is appropriate or inappropriate didn’t matter. This creep is still a worker. I think the best way to clear House is a class action law suit. There is plenty of money available and nothing talks in this world like money. Even in the” worker” world. I remember one time Jerome Frandal left a suitcase of cash at my parents home and then forgot where he left it. Ole Jerome was frantic when he called my mom asking about the “suitcase”. Jerome also covered up his share of scandals, one I was personally involved as a victim. And, he is still out there ” preaching ” , even though Jerome denied in court he was a “preacher” when it came to his own sex abuse cover up trial. Same with Bill Dink. Google these guys mug shots, their mugs don’t look happy. They were happy with the crime but not the time. Both are still going strong in the “truth” cult though. And, telling members what to do. Pathetic.
It’s a blatant lie that they acted as soon as it was known that Ira Hobbs was a child abuser. It was known for decades, but overseers refused to do anything about it. They only caved due to an organized campaign mostly from outside the fellowship.
Thats untrue – I know a number of friends (Still friends) who helped in this matter.
My point is that Ira Hobbs would never have been removed without outside pressure. Overseers would not have listened to professing people, just like they didn’t before or after. I know some professing people who were part of the effort to remove Ira and they say that it didn’t endear them to brother workers. They efforts weren’t appreciated.
I read a letter from the father of one of his victim’s, how he pleaded with the worker’s, they didn’t listen to him! This was back in the 80’s if I remember correct?
Right – Dale Gardener
10 years ago a letter was sent to most world-wide overseers asking the same questions. https://wingsfortruth.info/breaking-the-silence-2/letters-from-friends-and-workers/usa-friends-to-workers-and-elders/
Nothing has changed since then. I don’t expect it will change in the future either, except in as much as they are pressured from outside, through internet exposure and legal threat.
This is a hard ask of our friends, but after much thought and prayer, I am asking that everyone not attend conventions until these matters are fully and publicly resolved. Our fellowship is too valuable to allow the pearls to be cast before the swine. There are workers with credit cards, bank accounts, investments, and real estate holdings. That is completely contrary to the direction that Jesus gave and is evidence of a lack of honesty in the ministry. Without being forced to change, it is clear that nothing will change.
I seriously hope and pray that the unity that we sing about and are sermonized about is finally being realized isn’t real. I trusted in the elder of our meeting and the overseer ok’ing me to remarry after I was divorced but was flatly told by Rob Newman and then later by Dean Bruer that I had no place in any meetings other than to be present, so please tell me where the unity is in this matter? I’ve also been told to just keep my head down and be quiet as currently I am allowed to participate in all meetings in NewMexico but am refused in Arizona. I have also been inappropriately touched by a male worker when I was 14/15 years old in 1965. I’m not bringing up the name because I refuse to let a decision made by someone else deter me from my heavenly goal. I have asked God for guidance and change in this matter for 8 years and I plan to continue asking Him to help and now I believe I’m seeing the winds of meaningful change beginning. I’m encouraged that the friends were allowed to present their thoughts instead of just hearing from the workers. I fully agree that the sister workers have an equal role as any brother worker, overseers included.
Dear WIlliam, I am sorry that you’ve been tossed around by the opinions of whoever was in your field at the time. There is no unity on various situations. Most of us have deep dissapointments and see things that are unscriptual being implemented. A group of us had a very special, solomn little mtg on our own the other evening. It was quiet and reverant. We started with prayer and then quietly discussed our dissapointments and the horrific things that have been going on and are going on in this way. In our little mtg alone, four out of the six of us women have experienced sexual abuse such as rape by an elder, innapropriate, unwanted touching by a worker, ‘rape by a friend’ etc. We wondered what to do and all prayed for guidance of the Holy Spirit. We each decided that we would meet together, a little mtg, unsanctioned by the workers but sanctioned by the One in whom we trust and Loves us with a pure Love …until, if ever, things in the truth are made right…no secrecy, hierarchy and control and abuse. Our hearts are broked but we can no longer support a deceptive structure.
How is it that no one is talking about George Lee with so much being posted here?
Please fill us in.
What about George Lee? It seems like every worker we have had special regard for is being exposed as being involved in some sort of inappropriate sexual behavior.
It’s not enough for the workers to say they are not aware of any current allegations. They need to ask questions of the church rather than being blind and ask that people like Irving Ross be exposed for their misdeeds. Irving was opportunistic with his abuse and has not been held accountable.
“Not aware of current allegations” just means allegations haven’t been brought to them through the private investigator in the last two months. They are aware of plenty of other allegations, but they only act if they have to due to outside pressure.
What is your accusation?
I noticed that the last line of this posted letter from the Georgia friends and workers seems to be missing a few words. The phrase on at least two other internet sites states “Meeting wrapped up with light-hearted joke.” It kind of changes the tenor and feeling of concern as they left the meeting. Just curious how that happened. The punctuation is complete so it’s not a copy and paste error.
I was there and I’m happy to clarify: a few friends broke the tension as we were wrapping up with jokes about changing the convention menu, etc. Several of the workers did not laugh at these jokes, but I think most of the friends did. Humor is often a coping mechanism to deal with heaviness, and I believe that was the case here as well. There was still plenty of heaviness and tension as we left, but it felt good to leave on a slightly more positive note.
Yes, of course, a joke to lighten the mood is also just fun. We may all do this from time to time but not usually when we are talking about atrocities committed against children and other vulnerable people by predators and their protectors.
And the person who took the notes and sent the post felt the need to point out that jokes were made. Either to register the sense that they were now moving on, slaps hands, that’s done and dusted or that there was something unseemly about it. Then, (same person or someone else) to go back and change the wording without acknowledging the edit just smells funny. There may be several other reasons but sure seems intentional.
All of us are horrified and distressed. Most of us are good people. It would be good, if when we read things that people write, that we try and interpret and sense the general feel of what people are communicating to us all. Some is just down right horrifying. Some are encouraging and edifying. We need to stop criticizing and analyzing every word.
Not everyone is a wordsmith, therefor they try their best.
We are grateful for the courage of all who do share on the site. We don’t want it to stop because people feel attacked when they were only trying their best to be open.
A little kindness and understanding would be good.
Some people are angry I understand that, however the people you’re attacking at times, don’t deserve the vitriol poured out on them.
Show a little more kindness than you have been shown.
I believe it was deliberately redacted by WINGS as not germane and potentially confusing to the reader given the gravity of the meeting. If you disagree strongly and feel it is important to the subject matter, I suggest you send WINGS a note at firstname.lastname@example.org They don’t bite. 🙂
Fair! I wrote the notes and attempted to write them as unbiased as possible, with the hopes that the words said would speak for themselves. As the author, my only intention in including that line was to accurately state what happened, but there can certainly be some judgment about the occurrence of the jokes themselves. I submitted the notes in their entirety to Wings so either a moderator amended that last sentence or unintentionally left out those last few words (which, you’re right, seems unlikely).
I will also add that these notes were originally intended to be distributed just to those at the meeting to remember exactly what was discussed. After the fact, we decided to share with others. So that may give more context to why the notes were written the way they were.
A one hour $10 course is the investment that is being made? That is like putting a Band-Aid on the titanic.
Your comments are not helpful. The Atlanta friends were courageous in arranging this meeting, sharing their thoughts, and recording the notes for all of us to see. They discussed many things including issues besides CSA. May I ask, what have you done to help in this cause? Have you met with your workers/overseer and asked for transparency and honest communication? Many are sitting on the sidelines chiming in and don’t want to be part of the solution. If you want to help, I suggest getting friends in your area together and arranging a meeting with the workers like many of us have. I believe the only way there is going to be true change is with the friends being moved by God to demand changes from the workers.
To Concerned parent:
It’s not a problem at all if you don’t find my comments useful. That is beside the point.
And if “Meeting wrapped up with light-hearted joke.” , is a truthful representation of how the meeting ended, that is only as it should be. I applaud the person who took the notes and in an honest and unbiased manner had the courage to go for honesty rather than the sin of omission, and the spin of sanitizing a very interesting and informative account. I don’t really care if someone made a joke, and someone laughed or didn’t laugh but clearly I’m not the only one who cringed a little. That is not the issue! It’s the subterfuge and pretending that sneaks in, that’s almost part of the air that the fellowship breaths.
I hope that WingsForTruth will figure out how this deletion happened, and whether it was intentional or not. Then we can chalk it up to sloppiness or to more of the hiding, covering and obfuscation that is typical of the system.
And by the way, sloppiness is not a sin. Happens all the time. Then we just clean it up.
Very, very true Concerned Parent. Well said.
We the Church need to realize that the POWER is with us not Overseers. We need to have the courage of our conviction and take action.
Speak to your Workers, Elder and friends around you. You are standing up for RIGHTEOUSNESS, in the face of evil actions.
I wish what you have written could be put somewhere, that it stands out somewhere with blogs.
Thanks sameold that is the letter, so sad reading the desperate plea from this Dad!
For years I have heard this statement (or similar words), “God sees all and He will take care of it in His time.” So, is that really what we’re supposed to believe? Or is that a cop out when no one wants to deal with terrible situations. Sexual abuse should never ever be allowed to continue while we wait for “God to take care of the situation.” SA/CSA is a crime, and as far as I’m concerned, it is the worst crime a person can experience.
I had an unwanted experience by a man who was not professing about 31 years ago. I still feel guilt and shame about it. He was a predator and I was too naïve and afraid to say no. I have only told a very few people because it is so hard after all these years to talk about.
So, these crimes cannot be allowed to continue while we wait for God to take care of the person. There are times when God expects us to use our brains and our wisdom to take of a situation when it happens.
Dear heavyhearted, I am so sorry for your abuse. I believe that God’s way to ‘take care of these things’ is by using us. He doesn’t want us to just step off to the side, keep watching what ‘s happening and hope for the best.
I have been aware of Ira Hobbs despicable actions for many years. Also, have heard a few stories about George Lee from credible sources.
There is a big difference between cloaking others sins , and covering up harmful sexual abuse. As a SA survivor, I can tell you it affects a person their entire life. Thank God for therapy! I took a course called “The Courage to Heal “ that came with a workbook that is excellent. I now use my experience to help others heal. A person who has been sexually molested as a child is set up to have low self esteem, loose or too tightly held boundaries that affects their adult relationships greatly. Trust is hard for me, even with all the therapy. Secrets keep us sick!! Anything involving children should especially be reported to the authorities and the workers are not in a position to mete out punishment to these creeps and should encourage victims to tell an adult, so proper procedure can ensue. My faith is in God, not the workers who have no training whatsoever and most tend to look at things in black or white and not all the areas of gray that exist. Regarding children, it should be zero tolerance!!
I’ve seen George Lee’s name on this sight a few times I wish there would be clarification concerning his actions; coverup , CSA/SA ?