OF BONDAGE - Chapter 11
By Wayne Hamburger
JOLLY IS EXPOSED AND THE AFTERMATH
At last, in 1991 Jolly could no longer hide his criminal activities. His termination came rather quickly, once someone mustered the courage to expose him. This chore was assumed by two brave young men from the St. Louis church who were told by their sister how Jolly had sexually molested her. The family had resided in Eldorado prior to their move to St. Louis and the sexual attacks took place in Jolly's living quarters in the Eldorado church. He enticed not only her, but dozens of other young girls into his room under the guise of counseling with them. This particular girl had lived in a home torn apart by divorce and was highly vulnerable in reaching out for help. She told her brothers that Jolly had molested her more than 100 times. These criminal acts had taken place and happened within the same building where the assistant minister was living.
Armed with the statement from their sister, the two young men came to Eldorado to confront Jolly in his living quarters on a Thursday before church service. Jolly's initial response was to offer them a great deal of money to keep quiet. The only recompense that they sought was for Jolly to go before his congregation and admit his guilt, resign from the leadership, and pay for their sister's medical bills. Jolly reluctantly agreed to the request, but failed to keep his promise. He acted as though there was no problem, assuming that he could turn the congregation against the men and their sister by calling them liars. Apparently, Jolly had experienced such confrontations before and was able to subdue his adversaries.
The brothers knew that a ministers' meeting was scheduled for November, which followed the regular anniversary meeting. They decided they would make their move at that meeting. In the interim, they contacted a number of Jolly's preachers to tell them what had happened. Some of them were convinced that the girl's story was true and decided to a confrontation with Jolly. The brothers went to the ministers' meeting and expected Jolly to be confronted by his own preachers. That was not to be. After waiting for a number of hours for the preachers to act, the brothers realized that none of them had the courage to confront Jolly with the facts. One of the brothers stood up and began telling the sordid story of what had happened to his little sister.
Jolly met the challenge head on and began trying to refute what was presented. He soon detected that many of his hand-picked assistants were against him, so he sat stolidly without raising further objection. He admitted to those in attendance that he had a problem with his sexual passions. His pedophilia had been a demon which he could not rid himself. Experts in the field of sexual deviancy point to the fact that most of those who are pedophiles were molested as children themselves. None of Jolly's writings or his sermons gave direct evidence of such a phenomenon, but it is very possible that this monstrous perpetrator had once been a victim himself.
When the filthy details of his behavior were revealed and several ministers stood up as his accusers, he asked them what they would have him do. They requested that he resign at once. It took a week for the resignation form to be prepared and on November 13, 1991 Jolly signed it in the presence of the other preachers and a notary. With that signed form, 57 years of dictatorship, malice, evil and corruption came to a halt.
Some church members had heard, through the grapevine, that Jolly was in big trouble prior to the November meeting. Wayne had heard nothing and had no clue of what was coming. He had decided not to attend the November ministers' meeting because he had become so disgusted with the proceedings of the January meeting. On the day that the confrontation took place, Wayne was home trying to repair a broken lawnmower. He decided that he couldn't fix it alone, so he took it to a friend's home to be welded. Wayne noticed that something was wrong, although nothing was mentioned about Jolly for several minutes. His friend could keep it from Wayne no longer. His friend warned Wayne to "be prepared," because the information he had would really be upsetting. Wayne couldn't imagine what was wrong. He was then told about Jolly's pedophilia and the agreement to resign.
Wayne immediately went into a mood of self-doubt and incrimination because he had been so easily duped into believing Jolly’s teachings and the sanctity of the Gospel Assembly church. All the misgivings that Wayne had felt about Jolly over the previous ten years suddenly made sense. Why had he not acted on his common sense and judgment to delve into Jolly's perfidy earlier? Wayne had believed for years that God had directed him to the Gospel Assembly church and now all of that seemed in doubt. Was it a stupid vulnerability that allowed him to transfer his faith in God to a religious sect that was not worthy of such respect? All the signs were evident that the group comprised a religious cult, yet Wayne gullibly allowed himself to be duped into believing the group was God's select.
He immediately began to worry about Mandel's reaction to the horrible news. He knew that he would have to tell her immediately, but he wanted his friends to help break the news to her. Wayne had always felt some guilt about Mandel's membership in Gospel Assembly. He had pressured her and influenced her to return to Southern Illinois to rejoin the group known as Gospel Assembly. She had been unhappy from the beginning, because of the numerous changes she had to make to conform to church rules. Wayne had felt a heavy burden over her miseries and believed he was at fault. Now he had to face her and admit that he had been wrong from the start about his decision to reassociate with the church of his youth.
He called her on the phone and asked her to come to their friend's home at once because he had some information that she must hear. She was highly curious for an answer on the phone, but agreed to wait until she drove to the friend's house for the big news. When she was told, she said she didn't believe it. She looked into the eyes of her husband and her two friends and knew that it had to be true. Her first response was, "I'm now going to cut my hair." She had always chafed under the church rule about long hair and this was her way of saying she was about to be free from the domineering demands of Jolly and the Gospel Assembly church. Wayne agreed that she should have her hair cut as soon as possible to rid her of the symbol of subservience to a cult leader.
It is noted that many Pentecostals believe in the long hair requirement and the women wear the hairdos proudly to advertise their membership. It is an emblem of subservience to the men because the church leaders who are men all like long hair. They misconstrue certain scriptures of the Bible which state that the women shall have their heads covered. It is supposed to show the obedience of women to the men, always ready to serve in whatever way is demanded.
After the initial shock of the news about Jolly, Wayne and Mandel both settled into a state of self-pity and embarrassment. In the days following, their emotions took a roller coaster ride from elation, that they were free from the cult, to remorse about their loss. They became angry with themselves for not sensing problems earlier. Wayne looked not only at himself for blame but also blamed his family and church friends for not telling him about the things they knew concerning Jolly. Wayne and Mandel had been carefully shielded from the illicit acts Jolly committed in the 1960's. Many church members knew of his corrupt past and kept it to themselves. Wayne has never understood or accepted the fact that church members became a part of the cover-up of Jolly's sins through their silence.
Members who knew about Jolly's illicit relationships with numerous women claimed they didn't know about Jolly's molestation of little girls. After Jolly's resignation, a number of women started talking about how Jolly had molested them when they were little girls. Some were older women who had been attacked by Jolly in their youth and were either too frightened of him or were positive they would not be believed. In all probability, church members would not have believed the word of a child accusing Jolly of anything. Figuratively speaking, these were acts of incest by Jolly because the church membership looked on him as a spiritual father.
Since Wayne had been a career social worker registered by the State of Illinois, he knew that it was his legal responsibility to report Jolly immediately to the State Department of Children and Family Services. As soon as he returned from his friend's home to his own home, he made a call to the state agency’s "hotline" in Springfield, Illinois to report the child molestation by Jolly. The representative took the message and promised an immediate investigation. Wayne then visited the regional office of DCFS in Marion, Illinois to make doubly sure the agency was following up on the report. They offered little encouragement that Jolly would be prosecuted in Illinois because the girl who had registered the complaint was a resident of the state of Missouri.
Undeterred by this information, Wayne went to the Saline County State's Attorney's office to solicit their help in pursuing the matter. Wayne was interviewed by an investigator in the State's Attorney's Office and was assured that the matter would be pursued. He asked that Wayne return with additional information, such as Jolly's permanent address, phone number, etc. Wayne collected the requested materials along with an eight by ten current picture of Jolly so the investigator could readily identify him.
When Wayne returned to the State's Attorney's Office a few days later with the materials, he was told that the investigator was no longer an employee of that office. Wayne was alarmed that the investigator might have destroyed or shelved the information given earlier. He requested an interview with the State's Attorney. He came out to the reception area and told Wayne that the Jolly affair was more appropriate for the Illinois State Police rather than his office. Wayne left the office knowing that nothing would be done in Saline County.
During that same period, Wayne recalls reading a news article indicating that local governmental authorities are reluctant to prosecute such cases because they are hard to prove. The article pointed out that when victims and witnesses are readily available immediately after a crime, enforcement officials will proceed with legal action. Such was not the case with Jolly. For many of his crimes, the statute of limitations had expired. The article further stated that there is a grass roots campaign in Illinois to extend the statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, but currently very little can be done after three years.
This turn of events left Wayne bewildered and angry. One can imagine how the women who were victims felt. Wayne was led to believe at the time that Jolly was likely to go unpunished for his actions. He was not aware that Jolly had abused young girls in the church in St. Louis and was about to be investigated by the authorities in that area.
After Jolly was exposed and had resigned, Wayne and Mandel both held out hope that the church would change drastically. Most of Jolly's assistants had been abused in many ways. It was believed that they would be so encouraged by their freedom from Jolly that they would introduce new procedures in the church. Wayne just knew that these ministers, now free from the tight reins of Jolly's leadership, would be kind and considerate leaders. What a foolish notion that was. Wayne was both naive and terribly mistaken. Many of these ministers were so thoroughly trained by Jolly that even with him gone, they performed exactly as they had under his leadership. Some became even more abusive than before. The conditioning under Jolly had been so complete that the ministers did not recognize themselves as Jolly clones.
On Thursday following the resignation of Jolly, several ministers gathered in Eldorado for the night service. It was conducted in the usual way with absolutely nothing changed except for the absence of Jolly. The congregation wasn't told anything about Jolly's crimes or his resignation. The preachers all gave little sermonettes echoing the same old church doctrine that Jolly had spewed out for years. Wayne was really irritated with the pretentiousness of it all.
As soon as church was dismissed, Wayne confronted Jolly's nephew, who had been a former pastor in Eldorado. He asked for an explanation as to why the congregation had not been told of the activities that took place a few days before. The preacher told Wayne that he didn't think it would be a good idea to alarm the members. Wayne really lost his temper at that point and asked him if he intended to cover up Jolly's criminal acts just as the preachers had done in the past. He said that there would be no cover-up. Wayne assured him that there would not be another because he, personally, would see that the people were informed. Many of the preachers in the Gospel Assembly churches never told their audiences the real reason for Jolly's leaving.
On the following Sunday, the resident pastor in Eldorado went to St. Louis to confer with Jolly. Lay leaders in Eldorado assumed responsibility for conducting the weekend services. At the close of the service on Sunday night, the preacher returned from St. Louis. Members were anxious to know what the resident preacher was going to do about the local church, so they gathered round him to ask questions and to pray for him. After the prayer, Wayne asked him if he was now willing to follow God as his leader rather than Jolly. His response was that the church belonged to Jolly. He told the men that he was still number two in Eldorado and his hands were tied.
Wayne left the session knowing that there was to be little or no change in the church. Once the local pastor was assured that Jolly would not return, he became aggressive and abusive as well. He started haranguing everyone who did not please him. He once read the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians in an angry, vituperative manner to declare his personal war against his fellow church members whom he considered adversaries. Wayne had always heard that passage of scripture read to express love and peace. The preacher read it as if it were an edict or declaration of how the people should treat him, or else, suffer the consequences. The preacher was shaking with anger and his speech harsh and obtrusive. Wayne became overwhelmingly alarmed about the future of his church and he decided to seek help.
So, he did this on a Sunday morning following the preacher's outburst. Wayne called a minister in another city in whom he felt he could confide. He explained the potentially explosive situation in Eldorado and asked the preacher if he could help. This was a huge mistake. That preacher called the one in Eldorado and told him everything Wayne had said, even though Wayne had requested that the conversation be kept confidential. The local pastor was told that he had a troublemaker in his midst and he had better keep a wary eye on Wayne. Just as Jolly had done previously, Wayne became the object of the preacher's Sunday afternoon sermon. This was followed up with an angry telephone call on Monday morning demanding that Wayne give an account for his actions. Wayne told him that he would not discuss the matter over the telephone and the preacher demanded that he come to the parsonage at once.
Wayne was not about to go to that meeting without a witness, so he asked Mandel to accompany him. When Wayne arrived at the parsonage, the preacher had his brother present to serve as his witness to the confrontation. He started off by making a number of unfounded accusations against Wayne. He said that Wayne had undermined his authority in the church and he was not going to sit idly by and allow it. He repeated the entire conversation Wayne had with the out-of-town preacher practically word for word. Wayne did not back up from him and, in spite of the hostile atmosphere, was able to keep his temper from getting completely out of control. When tempers cooled, the conference was finished in a civilized manner. Wayne was well aware that he could never trust that preacher again.
Wayne learned that a ministers' meeting was to be held in Eldorado in January 1992, and he decided that maybe someone would be sympathetic to the need, if he presented the problems of the Eldorado church to the entire leadership. The agenda for the preachers' meeting was to include a discussion of the future plans for both the Eldorado and St. Louis churches from which Jolly had resigned. Wayne sent in a request to speak to the ministers at that meeting and specified the subject matter. When the preachers found out that Wayne and some other men from the Eldorado church were planning to address their assemblage, they moved the meeting to Louisville, Kentucky. Wayne was positive the local pastor in Eldorado had a hand in that.
In fact, he announced to the men's Sunday school class that the ministers' meeting in Louisville would be closed to lay members. It was obvious that there was no way Wayne was going to be allowed to speak to the preachers in person. Wayne proceeded to type out his comments in a prepared speech and sent copies to all the preachers for whom he could find addresses. He made arrangements for a member of the Louisville church to hand out copies of the speech to the rest of the preachers prior to the ministers' meeting. He explained in a cover letter that he had preferred to make the comments in person, but since they were opposed to that, they were being presented with a copy of the speech. He outlined the need for the ministers to hear about the special problems in Eldorado and his disappointment at their refusal to allow him to talk to them. He pointed out that most of them had filled the Eldorado pulpit at one time or another and should have some personal interest in the problems. The following is the text of the speech:
In the third chapter of I Timothy it says, "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth good work. A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
The last several weeks have made these words of Paul very real to us. The evils of greed, power, money and illicit sex are dealt with throughout the Bible and it is evident that these things have prevailed in our church. The perpetration of crime and perversion disqualifies anyone from a leadership position whether it be a bishop or any other leader in a civilized society. Our constitution guarantees the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. That right is waived when one freely admits to a crime and due process is no longer a factor. We, as human beings, don't provide judgment under God's law but the civil authorities have every right to represent the community at large when civil and moral laws are broken. When one commits such crime, he forfeits his rights under the law and especially leadership responsibility.
The verified criminal acts of the church leader suggest a perverse and demented mental state. Dementia curtails judgment and in such circumstances, the one afflicted by that condition is incapable of making rational decisions. It has been a canon law of Gospel Assembly church for persons, who have publicly disgraced it, make a public apology and request forgiveness. We, of course, have the responsibility to protect our church from its enemies whoever and whatever that might be. It is apparent that anyone who has disgraced the church by immoral acts on its premises, such as the ones committed by the leader, is an enemy to the church until he seeks forgiveness and is remorseful for his actions.
The influence of the local church in Eldorado, and for that matter, the whole church body has been severely damaged. The reputation of members is questioned by the community at large. Reputation may not be capable of being remedied. The healing process will be a long and arduous one. The removed leader was idolized and deified from the pulpit and in testimony. That has to be rectified. The church has to be cleansed and rebuilt in such a way that it meets the approval of God first, and secondly, that it regains the respect it had earlier earned in the community.
If we cling to certain remnants of the past, we will be dragged down into the gutter. It is a fact that the leader was loved and revered by those who followed him. This defies what we now know about him. The membership is polarized. We have those who have heard the facts and believe them; we have those who heard the facts but don't believe them; and a third group who have heard nothing. The very least you as ministers owe the congregation are the true facts concerning the past leader.
We have unique problems in Eldorado. Respect and support for a system gone awry is in shambles. The church here has always been held up as an example to the others. Church leaders such as yourselves have referred to it as the good old Eldorado assembly. Well it isn't viewed as good anymore. The building itself has been defiled by the perverted acts of its past leader. Most of those acts are too gross to describe in public. Do you think it easy to sit in church within a few feet of the room where all that sin took place? This was perpetrated on children. The very hands that were used in a filthy sinful manner were laid on the members' heads in prayer. Brethren, do you think it fitting for worship in such a setting?
Many of the church members are devastated. We have felt every sentiment in the human realm of emotions. Some are in shock and depression. Most know that the strongest aspect of depression is anger. We are angry with the perpetrator; we are angry with you ministers for having tolerated it; we are angry with ourselves for failing to recognize the problem: and finally we are angry with God for letting it all happen. It is going to take some time for us to work through all these feelings. We have been hurt deeply and a catharsis is in order. We feel that we have been stained and need a cleaning or purging similar to that described in I Corinthians 5.
It is well known that the membership in Eldorado was abused and buffeted from the pulpit by the leader for a number of years. The church membership in St. Louis was victimized even more so. Some members were singled out for individualized criticism. You ministers along with everyone else sat silent and refused to raise any objection to such derogation. What kind of respect are we to show to you, who stood submissively on the sidelines and watched while the people were hounded and disparaged. These things are not quickly forgotten.
The current resident pastor here says that he still harbors animosity toward the Japanese for bombing Pearl Harbor and starting a war which occurred more than fifty years ago. Church members have been traumatized in a similar manner. I have too much invested here to sit idly by and see our church harmed further. I am powerless to halt the ugly gossip that abounds in the community. My contribution was minuscule compared to others who have given of their finances and their time. I still want to preserve this church. I seek the fellowship of those who want to serve God. My relationship with God is unchanged. My trust is in Him and that can't be erased by scandal or the failure of others. He remains the same yesterday, today and forever. My pleading and my prayer is for God's mercy and His guidance to show me what to do in the future.
A shepherd who really loves his flock puts them first above his own comfort and peace of mind. He will deal with them honestly and kindly and tell them the truth. God does not call leaders to destroy the flock or lead them astray. When the leader does those things and defiles his calling, God makes provision for the sheep to be provided for, elsewhere. God not only provides for, but expects the sheep to take whatever action is necessary to save themselves. He gave us a brain, a conscience, and His Holy Spirit to comfort us. He expects us to use these helps.
Perhaps I don't understand the true role of a minister. I think that I do, but I've been told that I do not understand. In searching for a definition I find the word "minister" in the Bible from the original Greek called kiakonos (noun), diakoneo (verb) leitouraeo (verb) hudereteo (verb) hierouqeo (verb) Darecho (verb) erqazomai (verb) all meaning a servant, attendant or the act of doing a service for someone. Many of you ministers have taken the 13th chapter of Romans as authority to lord over the people who you have been called to serve. Jesus said in Matthew 20:27, "and whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant," and in 20:28, "even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
My speech may make it appear as though I have absolved myself for any responsibility or blame for the current state of affairs. We all share in the blame for allowing certain inequities to continue. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those who stepped forward to expose the wrongs. My words seem to indict me. I failed to speak out against tyranny and by failing to speak up, I gave consent through inaction. Edmund Burke once wrote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Hopefully we will not repeat the errors of the past. Some of us are willing and ready to speak out against injustice.
It is obvious that something shaped into a mold over the course of time can't change that shape overnight. But when change is required, then some movement in a positive direction is expected. Any small movement toward positive change on your part will signify intent. That is important. A rigid status quo or digging in of the heels will trigger further resentment from those of us who desire change. No man can exert total control over others, such as the leader did, without being given that authority by the very people he manipulates. Your excuses such as "my hands were tied: I couldn't help it: it wasn't me" sound apathetic and hollow. Where is your sense of responsibility and why were you so apathetic? We all must be able to recognize when things are terribly wrong and out of control. We also must be willing to stand in readiness to take action when the situation calls for it.
We can't ever again tolerate the kind of authoritative control over our lives that has been allowed in the past. We have been so contaminated by the overbearing, mind-bending techniques of the past that we have trouble acting on our own. We have been threatened with the wrath of God when we were not obedient to the leaders. No man can order God's wrath on another man or woman. God reserves judgment unto Himself. At this very moment members of my family are quaking because I have shown the courage to say these things to you. God didn't give them the spirit of fear; you leaders did. We must shake off the shackles of the past and become participants in a new dispensation.
Much of your knowledge of the Bible came from your own study along with consultation with one another. You gave total credit for your knowledge of the word of God to the former leader. We members don't respect sycophants and jellyfish. Respect is earned by standing on one's own two feet and standing for what we believe to be right regardless of the outcome. Let us bury the old totalitarian ways of the past and build a new order based on love, respect and trust. We have been brow beaten and castigated time after time. That was compounded as one after another of you would rise up to brag about the actions of the leader and what great messages he gave. The leader was quoted more often than Jesus and the Bible. Visitors to our assembly thought we were worshiping the leader rather than God and Jesus. I can sympathize with those conclusions because I thought the same thing at times.
Had I known of the sexual promiscuity, I could not have continued under that administration. At least some of you knew about past promiscuity of the leader, but looked past it without complaint. Doesn't that suggest complicity? Would you not have reported a bank robber or murderer if these crimes were known to you? If the molestation of one little girl could have been prevented by exposing the past of the leader, it would have been worth the effort, even if you had been required to forfeit your position in the church. Where are your priorities? Is your position in the church so much more important than exposing sin? How can you hold yourselves out to be worthy of trust if you are not willing to speak out against iniquity? I have heard no apology in my church either for the sins of the leader or for your failure to act with responsibility.
I believe that we the people of the church are ready for messages on love and caring. The religious world emphasizes that God is love, yet Gospel Assembly has gone overboard to stress the judgment and wrath of God. We need to strike a more reasonable balance between God's love and His wrath. Because of past oppression and the recent events, we need to hear love messages more than ever. I want to hear more about the love of God and how He cares for us. This is the message Jesus gave to his following and it preceded the establishment of His church. We have been beaten down enough. We have been told over and over how bad we are. We can't sing right and we don't know how to interpret a simple song and on and on. When are we going to be told we are doing something right? The old message won't work anymore. People have left our church in droves. When are we going to reach out and draw the people back? Many have left with their spirituality drained with bloodied heads and bruised souls. When are you going to be able to go out into the community and invite these folks back with the promise that they will be treated right when they get here? They must be shown that you are willing to make significant changes.
I heard the message on perfection and overcoming life 46 years ago as a teenager and it remains as unattainable today as it was then. When a message is wrong, it can't work. Good managers know that goals have to be attainable to people if they are to benefit anyone. Goals set too low create a lack of productivity and disinterest in the job at hand. Goals set so high that they are unattainable create frustration and failure. As a manager, I tried to set goals that were high enough to motivate the ones I supervised so that they would be proud of their accomplishments and feel good about themselves. Goals set too high destroy self esteem. That is exactly what the message on perfection has done and is doing to church members. Through the years, members have quit because they couldn't live up to a standard set so high, it wasn't within their reach.
We now need short term goals in our spiritual experience that are attainable. I know that we can't compromise the message from the Bible about perfection, but you must let the members know that perfection is an end product and not one that is reachable in a short time. It is evident that the apostles only reached their goal of perfection in the waning period of their lives. It was probably within hours or days of death. Why frustrate present day followers needlessly? I am 60 years old and I know for a certainty that I'm never going to be perfect in human form. I feel good about the fact that I have Christ in my life and He has promised me a resurrection to eternal life. Your message about perfection is an impossible goal that is too damaging to continue.
I can't count the number of times you preachers have stood in the pulpit in Eldorado and told us you were looking into the eyes of the persons who would make up the bride of Christ exclusively. Why can't you now be more honest and reasonable by saying that we will be numbered among those being saved. Edith Schaeffer once said, "People often throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it." Some have said that what is past is past and nothing can be done about it, so let's forget it. We can't do that. The past is what has made us what we are today. Lives have been altered drastically because we have believed certain messages that proved to be untrue. The past and present can't be separated. We have been brought to this point by your message and we ask ourselves: "Where do we go from here?"
I hope to hear God and Jesus given more credit for what we have. No man deserves honor above our Savior. I hope the shackles of the past administration can be shaken off. When a new governor or president is elected, the old administrative staff resign and wait to be reappointed. I pray that God is involved in making the appointments when positions are filled. Wouldn't it be best for God to place a preacher in a given place rather than what we have experienced before?
I have worked hard in my private life to achieve certain goals. I attended college part time while holding a full time job. I finally obtained my degree after many years of study. As a consequence of that hard work, I have contempt for mediocrity. I like to hear sermons given under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Too often, I have listened to old worn out top of the head messages. Those who talk from the top of the head don't say anything, they just talk. I have endured many mindless driveling in the classroom and in staff meetings and I hope for something better in church. Some of you have delivered the same worn out messages so often that the members can recite them by rote. Preparation is the key. God can just as easily use a well-prepared text as an impromptu one. In fact, He can anoint a well-prepared mind better than one empty or cluttered and in disarray.
In recent events in Europe, several countries have thrown off the yoke of communism and become free nations. It is ironic that after all their struggle for freedom they don't understand how to use it. Democracy is foreign to them and some have even slipped back into the old tyrannical ways simply because they have no experience with freedom and democracy. Most of us in Gospel Assembly have become so accustomed to having every move dictated that we don't know how to act with our new found liberty.
Many times, convicts who have spent years in prison commit new crimes upon their release simply because they miss the structured environment of prison life. Freedom is not free. People have to work very hard for it, first to gain it and then to maintain it. The latter is a much harder task than the former is. Church members need to be advised that their new found freedom is from God because He made it possible.
God brought these changes about because He was finished with the old corrupt system and He wants a new order introduced. Much has been said over the years about order in our churches. We haven't seen new testament order. What we have had in many instances is maniacal terrorism and ruthless discipline. We have had order by fear, deceit, manipulation, threats and abuse. How could God use order like that? I hear statements about this wonderful order of Gospel Assembly and I'm wondering what God thinks of it. Instead of Godly order we have had extreme fear. There was fear of speaking out against abuse, and fear of retribution by God because a man told us God would retaliate against us if we disagreed with the man. Some were afraid to make the simplest of decisions in their lives without consulting the leader. Ministers didn't have the freedom to make decisions in their churches because of fear of retaliation.
When some did speak up, they were relegated to a minor role and made fun of. This is not hearsay. I could see which ones of you ministers were in the dog house as it were. We weren't so dumb that we didn't know when one of you had angered the leader. We also saw what happened to those who bowed and scraped and licked his boots. They were rewarded with praise and other perks. Those boot licking performances irritated me as it did most and I hope the people in the church don't continue to relate to their pastors in the same manner. We are seeking God's order and not the order that was established by a greedy, power-grabbing man, a man who enjoyed immensely the role of the misanthrope.
Many of the church business practices are questionable. For example, the hoarding of millions of dollars in investments when the church building in Eldorado is in serious need of repair. Members have scrimped and cut corners to the point that some structures are dangerous and others need constant repair. The building in Eldorado called the staff house is a good example of total irresponsibility. The parking lot is under constant repair because it wasn't installed properly to begin with. This was because the leader was too cheap to pay for the proper installation. These are examples of miserliness leading to waste. The old axiom, you get what you pay for, holds true most of the time.
It is wrong to be so miserly that we cheat the seller of goods out of the fair market price. I feel guilty that a banker in Louisville had to lose his job because we're so miserly we wouldn't pay the fair market price for the convention center. That, brothers, is nothing to gloat over. I feel ashamed. I believe that God expects us to be fair in our business dealings and there is a big difference between bargaining for an item and shamelessly taking advantage of someone.
I have been accused of threatening people with the truth. Truth should never be threatening to anyone who has been truthful. Martin Luther once said, "peace, if possible, but the truth at any rate." Sometimes peace is not possible when the truth is under fire or is kept hidden. Hereafter, we hope to have truth, honesty, integrity and above all the will of God in all of our activities. Bible truth is not just our esoteric domain.
Our doctrine has alienated, denigrated, humiliated and maligned our women. I can find no justification for this in the Bible. I cringed every time I heard our leader tell the women to cheer up because they were going to be men some day. This is a gross misrepresentation of scripture. Women have been led to believe they have no voice in the church when the Bible is full of examples of women who had outstanding roles in God's kingdom.
I am tired of hearing my wife and other women made fun of and relegated to a domestic or servile roles. Many of the women have more basic intelligence than any of the men. In the early church, the women worked beside the men in bringing the gospel to the masses. They weren't dressed in frilly little aprons and made to serve the men as our women do. I don't like having my wife serve you ministers in such a denigrating manner. The leader even compounded the harassment by paying her twenty-five cents an hour on one occasion.
The gaudy ministers' dining rooms should be eliminated from the churches immediately. They have disparaged our women and created all kinds of dissension in the Eldorado church. Aside from that, the ministers need to associate with the people instead of being isolated in a private dining area. When I served as an usher during the ministers' meetings in Eldorado, I was sickened by the manner in which the ministers' wives were herded around like a flock of sheep. They were expected to sit a certain way, eat a certain way, smile on cue and heaven forbid that they ever forget and cross their legs while sitting. What kind of stupid harassment such as that is justified in the Bible?
In my professional career, I was pleased to get input from the women around me. And yes, I had a female supervisor at times. In fact, in my first job with the State of Illinois, I was trained by a woman and she did a marvelous job. I learned many things about myself through these relationships and I became a better person for it. Women can lead as they are proving every day in the world of business, government, industry, science and etc. We must wake up to the fact that we need women and the expertise they bring to all phases of the church and this should include trusteeship. The male chauvinist mind-set has hindered the progress of our church. It has permitted the exploitation of our women in many ways including the sexual molestation of our female children. Isn't it about time to bring this miscarriage of justice to a halt?
Now we should tap into the resources of intelligent women who are motivated by the Holy Spirit to step forward and demonstrate how spiritual women can contribute. We have heard the leader specify that man is the head of the woman and all the while allow himself to be completely dominated by one or two. Men and women need to work together in harmony shoulder to shoulder for the good of the church. This, to me, is the new testament order and meets with God's approval. My wife and I work side by side as equals in our home and she should have no less status in the church. She is not at the disposal of anyone to satisfy whims. She has a good mind and she should be allowed to use it. Many of us owe whatever success we enjoy to our wives. Give these women credit. The minister's wife is a key element of the ministry in the church and the churches which do not have that ingredient suffer for it.
There are several retired ministers living in Eldorado. In looking at the total group of ministers in the Gospel Assembly churches it is obvious that many of you will join these retired brethren within the near future. It is disgraceful that we as a church body have failed to provide for the elderly ministers who have retired. Some of them are receiving public welfare because the church has failed to provide for them. How can you active preachers go even one more session without addressing that need? Something must be done now. The immediacy of the problem is self evident.
Don't turn your back on your peers who have given their lives to Gospel Assembly. You have all bragged about the oneness of the ministry, but you haven't been your brother's keeper. The oneness has been a sham in many ways and particularly in addressing this problem. If you can't agree on other things, surely you can agree to help your fellow preachers. The Gospel Assembly churches have enormous resources that can be tapped to provide a decent standard of living for these older brethren. Everyone in this country is entitled to an adequate standard of living and these men who have preached the gospel are living in poverty. How shameful this is. If you have rejected every other suggestion I have made in this presentation, surely you can keep an open mind on this subject. I beg you consider it.
Sometimes we stand so close to a problem that it is difficult to see the entire panorama surrounding it. Persons who are in positions of leadership and accustomed to giving advice find it extremely difficult to seek or accept advice from anyone. This is especially true when coming from what is considered a layman. Even the president receives advice from those around him. Recently, I read that advice is free and when there is a charge for it, it's called counseling. These suggestions are free so they must be advice. The article went on to say that both advice and counseling usually falls on deaf ears.
I hope that my suggestions are received in the same spirit in which I have given them and that is with humility, honesty and respect for God's people. We all are so vulnerable with our human frailties that we need constant guidance from God. Regardless of how good our spiritual and intellectual perceptions are, we still are babes in the sight of God.
Thomas Carlyle once said, "No man sees far; most see no farther than their noses."
H. Wayne Hamburger
Initially, Wayne and Mandel had high hopes that there would be drastic changes for the better in the churches after Jolly's removal, but it was not to be. They thought that the preachers would strive to be more compassionate, wiser and more spiritual. In fact, there was a reincarnation of King Rehoboam. In I Kings 12:14, Rehoboam answers his counselors this way after the death of Solomon, his father: "My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." The preachers acted as though they had to prove that they could be even more inconsiderate and abusive than Jolly had been.
Wayne did not hear from any minister following the delivery of his letter to them. One minister's wife told him that she thought it was a good letter and that she was in agreement with all that was said in it. Another minister's wife warned Wayne that the ministers were angry with him. A couple from the Eldorado church visited a church in Indiana and had to listen to a long tirade about the man in Eldorado who had sent the letter to the ministers. The interesting part of that report was that the offended minister didn't complain about anything in the letter except Wayne's suggestion that women be given a greater voice in the church. The man had used an entire church service to castigate Wayne because he had suggested that women in the church no longer be treated like chattel. He must have failed to recognize the parts about understanding and love.
Shortly after the letter had been delivered to the preachers, Wayne and Mandel were invited by church friends to accompany them to Louisville for a church service. A number of the Gospel Assembly preachers were in attendance at the meeting. The local pastor gave the opening remarks, emphasizing that the church members would no longer be treated as they had been under the past leader. He told the congregation that they could expect to be treated with dignity, honor, and brotherly love. Wayne was encouraged by his remarks.
Following the preacher's talk there was congregational singing. The congregation responded in a positive way and most of the members present shook hands and greeted one another in a joyful and happy manner. The ministers all remained on the podium and greeted no one except one another. Wayne decided that he would see if the minister meant what he had said a few minutes earlier. He walked to the podium during the song and suggested to the local pastor that he and the other ministers could prove their sincerity by going into the audience and greeting people. They all refused to do that. They remained on the podium and beckoned the people to come to them so that they could put their hands on their heads and pray for them. Later, Wayne learned that the preacher had told the others that they had a troublemaker in their midst and he should be ignored.
The minister had not meant what he had told the people. He had only said it to get attention. Wayne's expectations for the preachers and the Gospel Assembly church to change for the better was an impossible dream. Little changed in the worship services after Jolly's departure. Some members still wanted Jolly back in spite of what he had done. In fact, several fully expected Jolly to return. Others, although disgusted with Jolly, kept going to church because they were either curious about what was to happen or expected a miracle. Others kept going because they were afraid to leave. They had been told so long that the judgment of God would fall on them for leaving that they could not take that risk. The Gospel Assembly churches contained those who were fearful, curious, bored, and suspicious. Wayne was one of the latter.
Gospel Assembly members were so entrenched in the rhetoric and the propaganda line concerning their status as chosen people and being superior to all others that they couldn't change their thinking. That thinking now fell flat and they didn't know about what to testify. Some lady testified that she was so thankful that God had led her to Gospel Assembly and Wayne questioned the woman's sanity. Members were accustomed to talking about all the Bible truth that Jolly had given them, over the years. Wayne was always embarrassed when some illiterate person rose to his feet and bragged about how much he knew about the Bible. Invariably, that type of individual took a swipe at all main-line protestant churches and the Catholic church while testifying. This line of speech reflected word for word what they had been taught by Jolly. Their "holier than thou" attitude was repulsive to everyone that wasn't a member. The Gospel Assembly membership is identical to a religious sect described in the New Testament. Every description of the Pharisee sect closely resembles the Gospel Assembly church and especially so with its rigid rules, aloofness, and braggadocio.
Jolly's system is so ingrained that it can't be changed by any human force. Whatever revival message comes along that introduces change will be greeted by, "We are the body, we are the body." An apt scripture for this condition can be found in Proverbs 26:11, "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." Members are blind to the fact that it would be in their best interest to distance themselves from the past rather than embrace it. Jolly's departure brought no new preachers, no new logic, and no new forms of worship. It was as though Jolly continued to oversee every facet of the Gospel Assembly church without being there. His legacy lives on through the indelible indoctrination from his teachings.
Wayne was given a copy of a tape recording of a ministers' meeting held in St. Louis less than a year after Jolly's resignation. At first, Wayne had a hard time believing what he heard, but it just reflected their loyalty to Jolly and the old system. A preacher had gone to St. Louis to assume pastorship of that assembly when Jolly left. He told his fellow preachers that he was having trouble with the trustees in St. Louis. He said the men serving as trustees were enemies of the body. He named a couple of the trustees who were wanting to take the church van to a ministers’ meeting. He reported that he had convinced the trustees not to go. He asked why they wanted to attend a ministers' meeting and they told him that they didn't trust the ministers to do the right thing with the St. Louis church. The preacher told them that the feeling was mutual because he didn’t trust them, either.
The trustees had purchased some land near the church without consulting the preacher and it had made him mad. One of them had also given a vagrant some money from church funds without asking permission from the preacher. The preacher reported to his fellow ministers that these men were overstepping their authority by leaving him out of the decision-making. Jolly would never have allowed such behavior from church members and the new preacher was afraid he was losing control. He suggested that the preachers, as a collective body, should take some action to put the church trustee board in its proper place. He pointed out that under Jolly, the minister would have been chairman of the board of trustees and he wanted it that way, again.
Some preachers started questioning the legality of the St. Louis church board of trustees. The men of the church had gone to an attorney and made arrangements for a church election without consulting Gospel Assembly preachers. One preacher spoke up to say it was the responsibility of the preachers to call the St. Louis congregation together and tell them that they had to vote out the duly elected trustee board because it didn't please the collective preachers. The preachers agreed that they would tell the people for whom to vote and that they had to include a preacher as chairman of the board. It was rather humorous to listen to the recorded meeting of the preachers who complained about how underhanded the church members were when the preachers themselves clandestinely made plans to take the church away from the trustee board.
After much discussion, the preachers agreed that they would call a special church meeting and present their concerns to the people. They also agreed as to what they would do at that specially called church meeting. They would convince the congregation that they had voted in a bad bunch of trustees, hold an election to vote the current board out, and hold another election to vote in the persons the preachers wanted. These ministers were sitting in a church facility that was providing them with free meals and free housing while plotting to overthrow the legally elected board of trustees.
They weren't satisfied to just vote the men out. They planned to personally attack each man from the pulpit and tell why they thought he was unworthy to be a board member. The resident pastor gave notice to the preachers that if they didn't take the planned action, he would not stay in St. Louis.
The board members had requested that one of the members in the church who was a trained crisis counselor help advise some of the young girls who had been molested by Jolly. The preachers didn't agree with the decision. They thought that the only ones who should be allowed to talk to these victims were the preachers. That was ironic since, in fact, it had been a preacher who had first sexually molested the girls. The congregation in St. Louis had been devastated by the news of Jolly's sexual acts and all the members needed some professional counseling, but the ministers wouldn't agree to it. They wanted to assume that role.
No minister was trained or experienced in crisis intervention. None of the preachers even had a college degree, much less training, in psychological counseling. One preacher tried to tell Wayne that he had read some books on psychology and this, along with his Bible knowledge, gave him the expertise to advise victims. The preachers would rather complicate the problem with their amateurish problem-solving techniques than to surrender a role they had always enjoyed filling under Jolly. No amount of discussion could convince them otherwise. They were really a part of the problem and not a part of the solution.
After several minutes of haggling, plotting, and self pity, they decided on a course of action. The St. Louis congregation would be given three choices. The first choice would be that the Gospel Assembly preachers would all leave the church in St. Louis without a preacher. That was obviously a bluff. The second option was that the preachers would oust the present board of trustees and get a new group. The third option was to open a new church building in St. Louis and invite members to leave where they were and go to another facility.
The preacher who presented these options used the 19th Chapter of Acts as the basis for his decision. He stated that the preachers would be following Paul's example, Acts 19:41, "And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly." Several preachers chimed in agreement that they would be following God's wishes. For over 50 years they had followed the will of T. M. Jolly and now, by some miracle, they had found the leading of God.
Some of the preachers started a discussion about the right of the trustees to handle church money. They said that the Bible indicated an order from God for the minister to oversee the collection of and the disbursement of money. They cited this as another example of the St. Louis church and its trustees being out of control and out of compliance with God's orders. If they had searched the scriptures carefully enough, they would have found that Jesus entrusted the handling of money to a man whom he knew would betray him. By following the example of Jesus, the preachers would not have concerned themselves with financial problems at all.
One preacher suggested that the minister of each church insist on being included as the chairman of the board of trustees in their respective church. Another preacher piped in "you wouldn't catch me getting my name entered on a church trust, because I wouldn't want to go on a television show (such as Geraldo) and try to explain how the church trust was established." The preachers eventually devised a clever plan whereby they would have autocratic control of a church trust, without having their names appear anywhere on the document. Wayne was shown a copy of one of the trusts from a church in Southern Illinois. The ministers were sorely afraid of lawsuits and they concluded that if their names didn't appear on the church trusts, they couldn't be held personally liable. They were all aware, of course, that Jolly had molested several girls who were contemplating legal action. The ministers believed that by leaving their names off the trusts, they would be less susceptible to answering civil charges.
The new trusts were couched in the same language that Jolly had included in the old ones. The members of the church capitulated on every point in granting the preachers absolute control over church activities. Local men serve as church trustees, but none can serve as chairman. That is reserved for the resident pastor, even though he is not an elected member of the board. The preacher is to participate in all board meetings and votes only when there is a tie vote of regular members. The preacher calls meetings and issues official notices of meeting dates. The preacher is granted the authority to veto any decision made by the board of trustees. The preacher is granted the authority to set his own salary, and if any board member objects to the amount, he can be ruled out of order by the preacher. The preacher is to be given living expenses which include parsonage, parsonage allowance, utilities, upkeep, automobile (or other transportation vehicle), plus travel expenses and other expenses as identified by the preacher.
In order for a local church member to serve on the board of trustees, he must first be a male. He also must have demonstrated membership by being in harmony with the teachings of Gospel Assembly church for a period of at least three years immediately preceding the election for such office. If, for any reason, a trustee files a lawsuit against the church, then he is automatically terminated from serving as trustee. When the term of a trustee expires, the pastor nominates men to be voted upon to serve as the replacement. This is an open acclamation vote for the pastor's choice. The five men serving as trustees are held to the prudent man rule; however, the pastor is not required to meet that requirement. Amendments, modifications and changes in the trust can only be made with the unanimous approval of the five trustees and the pastor. If, for any reason, the church ceases to exist, the church property is to be sold and the assets forwarded to the Gospel Assembly Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
The preacher, in his position as chairman of the board, appoints the church secretary and may remove him or her at any time that he sees fit. The preacher also sets the secretary's salary. Another odd provision of the trust was that no church monies can be used to carry on propaganda. It does not specify what constitutes propaganda and is left up to the preacher to decide what it is.
It is obvious from reading the church trust that the pastor has absolute power and authority over every aspect of church life. If anything, the trustees have become even more of a rubber stamp than they were under Jolly. The ingenuity of the preachers in setting up the trusts is impressive. They hold total control without having their own names appear anywhere on the trusts. Members are completely oblivious to any devious intent in such action.
Another aspect of the recorded ministers' meeting held in St. Louis was a proposed plan to bring in disgruntled trustees from that church to face the assembled preachers. The resident pastor immediately objected to having the local church problems brought before all the preachers. He claimed that the trustees in St. Louis were unreasonable and contentious and they didn't deserve a hearing before all the preachers. He called the local men "knuckleheads" who didn't know what they wanted. It was obvious from listening to the recording that the resident pastor didn't want to face the trustees in the presence of his peers for fear of being proven wrong. The other preachers then scrapped the plan to meet with the trustees.
Some preachers thought it would be better to challenge the trustees in front of the total congregation because they were sure the church members would listen to a preacher before they would a trustee. One preacher spoke up and said that he didn't even tell his wife what went on at a ministers' meeting, so he wasn't about to invite trustee troublemakers. Another preacher did raise concern about the legality of what they were about to do to gain control of the church.
When the preachers presented their clandestine plan to the congregation in a church service, they received quite a shock. Their actions immediately split the church, some agreeing with the preachers and some agreeing with the trustees. The resident pastor left St. Louis. Some members continued to hold services without a preacher, some joined Jolly in a new church that he had started in Illinois, and others just quit church altogether. The preachers would never accept responsibility for tearing the church apart.
The members of the St. Louis Gospel Assembly church had been abused and harassed by Jolly for years. They were victims who needed solace and kindness and they were not about to get such treatment from the other preachers. It is reasonable to assume that church members who were treated so slavishly would make some mistakes when their own elected trustees gained control. Had the preachers followed the example of Jesus, by showing love and understanding, the problems could have been averted. Much of Jolly's illicit activity took place in the church building and it was hard for members to worship there with total freedom. The same is true for the church in Eldorado.
When the resident preacher in Eldorado retired several months after Jolly's resignation, a new preacher moved in and announced he was taking over. He began to dictate stringent rules and orders. By that time, Wayne had quit attending services. Some members told him about the meanspirited behavior of the preacher and wanted to know what Wayne thought could be done. He suggested they write a letter to the preacher, since he wouldn't engage in a conversation about the subject. Wayne composed a letter to be sent to the preacher and thirty-six members signed it. The content was as follows:
"Your visit to Eldorado over the weekend of 8-16-92 seems to have had quite an adverse effect on many people. You somehow perceive that it is your responsibility to harangue the people everywhere you go. Is this the only way you know to communicate with people or do you get a certain stimulating effect from being offensive? You completely ignore the Bible definition of minister and insist on following a cult-like perception of leadership. Proverbs 18:12 states, "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility." Isaiah said in the 57th chapter that God dwells with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit. You have exhibited none of this. On the contrary, you exhibit a spirit more like that described in the sixth chapter of Proverbs where it describes one who soweth discord among brethren and your words and actions are doing just that.
Why don't you use your extensive knowledge of the Bible to build people up instead of tearing them down? God has blessed you with a good mind but you have contaminated it with your bad spirit. Brother, you are an old man and you ought to be preparing to die rather than stirring up trouble. Don't you have enough to do to prepare for eternity without putting barriers in the way of others?
The measure of a man is determined by his works. Examine your works. What have you personally accomplished? Have you ever built a church without direction of another man? We realize you have labored manually in many places but we are speaking of spiritual works. Your ministry was ordained by a man and a sinful one at that. What other credentials do you have? Are you proud of your spiritual accomplishments and, if so, identify them for us? Examine yourself in light of these questions and if possible, psychoanalyze yourself to determine what your motives are. It seems to us that they may be ulterior.
The former leader browbeat, ranted, raved and lectured the people for years. Where did it lead? Do you wish to carry on this tradition and follow that same pattern leading to a path of destruction? Please let the Lord use you to help people instead of harming them. People want to love you but you won't let them because of your attitude and behavior.
In contrast with what you have said, you need the people far more than they need you. You are not God's gift to the people, but you are their servant as well as God's servant. You seem to forget that we are all God's children. Only He reserves the right to discipline us and He hasn't designated you for that job. The sooner you come to grips with this reality the better off we will all be. The undersigned persons are not your enemy; you are."
The letter was likened to that of pouring gasoline onto a smouldering ember and turning it into a fiery inferno. The preacher redoubled his efforts to verbally abuse the members. He tried to prove that he could be tougher than any of his predecessors, including Jolly. He, like Jolly, claimed to be sent by God to deliver a message to the congregation in Eldorado. To prove that, he claimed that he had been "living perfect" for several weeks. He never gave an explanation as to what perfect meant to him. He did prove himself equal to Jolly in demagoguery. Some of the ones who signed the letter went to the preacher to apologize and beg for permission to come back to Gospel Assembly.
Wayne was a little disturbed over their actions, but not in the least surprised by it. The brainwashing that Gospel Assembly members undergo is so thorough that only a total de-programming of the individuals can free them from the attachment. The group of people who went apologetically to the preacher replicated the actions of prisoners of war brainwashed by the Chinese during the Korean war. Those church members had made that one futile attempt to escape from the cult, but did not have the strength to resist further. In the aftermath, Wayne felt sympathy for them and thankfulness for his own deliverance from that religious system.
Some Gospel Assembly church leaders assume the role of con artists who dupe their followers into accepting falsehoods disguised as truth. Certain ones are driven by the desire for power and money and the emulation of their fallen leader. They cannot accept the fact that Jolly's regime was a failure. They are not willing to create an atmosphere for catharsis so that the congregation can fully recover from the evils of the former leader. They are not willing to follow the Bible lessons on qualifications for ministers. They are not willing to forego spiritual abuse. They are not willing to entertain dissent. They are not willing to admit that they are a small part of the great kingdom of God and not the sole representative of God on earth. They are not willing to renounce their prejudices. They are not willing to eliminate strict rules of conduct and dress, which is based on the past leader's personal preference. They cannot guarantee complete confidentiality in dealing with church members' problems. They continue to have favorites in the congregation who are granted special privileges, while others exhibit uncontrollable fits of anger.
Wayne grew up with the idea that the preacher was the final authority on everything. The preacher was perceived as having no faults because he was God's representative. In his youth, Wayne had seen James Sowders express extreme anger. He had seen Sowders buy and sell real estate property, using the church members' funds, for his own personal gain. Wayne had seen Sowders solicit gifts and money from church members who could not afford to part with their limited funds. Wayne had given Sowders money from his own scarce earnings and watched the preacher become accustomed to a life style well beyond that of his followers. Wayne has at last recognized that after sixty years of following a cult-like leadership, he finds Christianity and salvation to be in the hands of the believer and his God, instead of a preacher.
Jesus' words to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:3, "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works; for they say and do not," Matthew 23:4, "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers," describes it clearly.