22 years

by Diane Turner (dmt2000@comcast.net)


Table of Contents


I was a member of the International Churches of Christ (hereby annotated ICC) for 22 years.  I left in August of 2003. I truly believed that I would be part of ICC for my entire life.  I went through many phases of my life in this church:  college, first professional job, dating, marriage, and having children.  Here are some of the highlights of my experience in the ICC.


The Outreach

During the winter semester of 1981, several friends invited me to a Bible Talk on a college campus. They belonged to a group on campus that had received much publicity in the local newspaper as being a cult.  I was leery but after a few invitations, decided to attend their Easter service.  The church service was very nice.  I met many people, had some great conversations, and was paid lots of attention.  I remained very observant throughout my visit.  I liked what I saw.  There were happy, friendly, and sharp people; it wasn’t anything like I perceived. I exchanged phone numbers with a few members and was invited to come to another church service.  A few weeks later, I was asked to join a personal bible study.  I said I would love to; one month later on June 14th, 1981, I was baptized, becoming a member and was on my way to leadership.


The First Year

After I was baptized, I was invited to member’s houses for dinners, asked out on dates by the brothers, and felt very encouraged. The women were called sisters and the men, brothers. The church was trying to create a spiritual family atmosphere.  My self worth was doing very well these days as I was accepted into their group and getting a lot of attention.

I began to notice a group within the group. It was called the ministry training program.  It was for those members selected by the evangelist and would attend special leadership meetings. They talked about how members in the church were doing, how to disciple (train) members to be leaders, and would plan events for the church.  Belonging to this group was the ambition and high priority for the members.  I remember hearing the minister preach from the pulpit that when you sacrifice and give to the church, God will use you to become a leader of his church. It is an honor to be a leader among God’s people. It seemed to be a worthwhile goal.

The leaders assigned a prayer partner (later renamed to “discipling partners”) to every member.  The leadership wanted every member to have a senior and junior partner.  The senior person was supposed to be more mature spiritually, and was able to give advice.  They were held responsible for the more junior partner’s spiritual growth.  Likewise, you would treat your junior partner the same way your senior partner treated you.  I was assigned to the girl that had studied the bible with me.  I was encouraged to tell her everything.  If I had a conversation with another member, it seemed strange that she would know about the conversations and then would ask me why I hadn’t talked to her.  I felt like I was thrown into a box, trapped.  Whenever I needed to make decisions, I was told to get advice or permission from my discipler. It was a form of control that I wasn’t used to.  I wanted to practice my newfound faith, and love God but it just seemed like there were many new “rules” from the church that I had to figure out.  After a few months I started sharing my faith with more people than my assigned prayer partner did.  I was assigned to another person that had more leadership responsibility. I was moving up the in the chain of command, in a system where hierarchy meant a great deal.


Indianapolis Church 

I was part of the Indianapolis Church for nine years (1981-1990).  During this time, I saw five members disfellowshipped, a church split, one evangelist fired, seven different people lead the church, and the church reconstructed by the Chicago Church of Christ so they would be under the direction of the Boston Movement (led by Kip McKean).

The Indianapolis church began with its roots in the Crossroads Church of Christ.  It started in 1980, with eleven people who had visited a church conference in Gainesville, Florida.  They begged for a minister to be sent to Indianapolis to get the church started.  These eleven people were ambitious, highly motivated, and desired success.  Rich Collard was sent from Gainesville, Florida, to lead the Village Church of Christ, later known as the Indianapolis Church of Christ.  He was inexperienced and fumbled a lot.  He enjoyed people following his direction, advice, and his approval/praise.  His love for other people was conditional.  The church followed him into spiritual legalism.  Public praise was given to those who brought visitors, and served/produced for the church.

I was now part of the leadership group because I had met and baptized several people.  One of the sisters told me that it was obvious that God had shown whom was more worthy, and said it was me because “I had produced fruit” (which means I had successfully added members to the church).  I started to believe this religious lie.

I started to view people differently.  Every person I knew or met was a potential member.  If they didn’t go to MY church, something must be wrong with their spiritual life. After all, I viewed myself to be God’s treasured possession chosen among thousands of people to be his outreach for the Village Church of Christ.  I wanted to show God and the leaders my gratitude by being the hardest worker in his church.  I was going to stay up later and pray harder than any other member.  I read my bible a lot, invited everyone I met to church, and tried to have the most bibles with non-members.

I began dating one of the brothers at church. He was part of the leadership group and had desired to be in the ministry.  Dating in the church was considered to be a privilege.  There was a high expectation of perfection in the dating couple’s lives.  I had told someone that I was struggling with jealousy and had lied about something the other day.  She told the guy I was dating, my discipler, and half the church.  He was advised to break up with me and I was booted out of the leadership program.

I was disappointed at the gossip and devastated at the conditional love.  My self worth took a nosedive.  I believed that God must be disappointed in me because I wasn’t in leadership any longer.  And a leader was honoring God.  I didn’t think about leaving the church.  I felt like this was my fault, my sin, and I’d better deal with it so I could make it to heaven.

I recovered and moved on by focusing my attention on producing for the church.  My job always came second.  After all, the greatest thing a person could do for God, was serve for the church.

A co-worker, a neighbor, and my future sister in law became Christians during the next few months. I was back in a leadership position again.  This time I was given my own women’s group to lead.  We had about 10 women in this group.  My responsibilities were; lead a group Bible Talk once a week make sure there were visitors at the Bible Talk, the visitors were asked to study the Bible, and all the members in my group were doing well spiritually. I had to report statistics to the evangelist once a week.  This was a lot of expectation and responsibility while I was working a full time, professional job.  At the leaders’ meetings, we were taught what, how, and when to say things to other people.  We were taught how we should say things to non-members, discipling partners, weak/independent Christians.  We were told that we must imitate our leader's exact words.

Around 1984, Rich Collard was fired. A new leader moved from Gainesville to lead the church.  He fell in love with one of the sisters and they were married.  They were the sweethearts of the church.  Everyone wanted to be in their leadership group, they were highly respected.

I remember the day that I was chosen to be part of their group, hand-picked to be this sister’s right hand man.  She was going to teach me everything she knew so I could be trained to go into the full time ministry. I was flying high with that news.  The women in her leadership group started to become just like her.  We all wore red, carried a large bag, changed hairstyles, and began to talk like her.  Once again my self-esteem was high.  I had gained respect of the women in the church I was talked about in the sermons, praised during lessons, and the sisters came to me for advice.  Life was good in the church.

My family noticed differences in my lifestyle and personality.  My biological sister told me that she would stay up late at nights crying because she thought I was part of a cult. I just looked at her and thought, get a grip. I had told my family that I would not be part of any activity on Sunday.  Even through the week, it was hard to squeeze family time into my schedule.  After all, they weren’t open to becoming members of the church, and I needed to spend my time with people who wanted to.  My thoughts and time were totally consumed with discipling the other women, and studying the bible with non-members.

We had church on Sunday morning and night, Wednesday night, Thursday bible talk, Friday Devotional, discipling times and leaders meetings.  I remember falling asleep one time at work, and feeling very guilty about staying up late.

I started dating a brother seriously.  We talked about getting married.  However, the leadership saw a problem:  I was in leadership and my boyfriend was not.  The leadership felt like he would pull me down spiritually and was not happy about the direction of the relationship.  The men in leadership would have conversations with my boyfriend and told him to get busy with ministry things.  After all, if he was going to get married, he needed to be in leadership too.  I started to become self-righteous towards my boyfriend.  I really believed that I was better.  I had been hearing so much talk about our relationship being out of balanced from the leaders.  Remember, leadership was an honor from God.  I broke up with my boyfriend, feeling justified at the time, but guilty later.

In 1986, the church’s lead couple wanted to receive more ministry training in Boston.  The church was looking for a minister.  Since we were not part of the Boston Movement, we still had the privilege of making that decision as a congregation.  The church interviewed Jerry Jones, Ed Powers, and a few other men.  Jerry Jones decided to move to Boston.  The church really liked Ed Powers.  He was very down to earth, realistic, and had a great family.  He was hired for the job.  The church grew by leaps and bounds.  Ed was very ambitious.  He had said on several occasions that we were not going to be part of the Boston Movement.  However, the pressure of the leaders from the Boston Movement kept closing in on Ed and his wife.  They were invited to all kinds of conferences, seminars, dinners, and trips.  The big guys were pulling them in.


Full-time Staff

In the spring of 1987, I was asked to work for the church, full-time.  The group I was asked to lead was a campus/singles/married group, a size of more than 100 people. I felt honored.  I had achieved the ultimate goal.  I made a decent salary, even comparable to my secular job.  I remember the Sunday service when the announcement was made to the church about hiring me full-time; I was treated like a god.  Everyone congratulated me and said things like, “Wow you made it,” or “You must be doing really great things.”  Shortly after that, I was asked to teach a class at a Midwest conference.  After the class, I was praised repeatedly.  I heard comments like, “I want to be just like you,” “You were great, can we get together so you can help me?”  It seemed that my self-worth was being formed repeatedly by others’ praises.

The joy having a position highly regarded among the church also came with great pressure and responsibility. If the people in your group were performing positively, it was because of your good leadership.  Likewise, if someone “sinned” or had struggles, the blame was placed on the leader.  We were taught to be responsible for the actions of others by what we did or said.  “You should have been a better leader/friend, maybe they would have stayed out of sin,” or serve the non-Christians more, work harder, have more accountability.  I would stay up late at night thinking about each conversation I had with people, pondering the words of my conversations with others, worrying if the right words were said, feeling the responsibility for every word spoken. It was a heavy burden.  We were taught that the staff members were the “cream of the crop,” set apart, and distinguished among the congregation.

The staff meetings had a lot of pressure.  Every meeting started out with reviewing our weekly baptism thermometers.  Every time there was a baptism in your group the thermometer was shaded in.  It felt like having your spelling scores displayed in elementary school.  It was humiliating if you had a bad week, encouraging for the good weeks.  We focused a lot of attention on growth of the church.  There was also strict personal accountability.  We had to fill out scheduling sheets and turn them in every week.  Every hour of the day was to be accounted for. We would have totals at the end of the week.  For example, how many hours were given for prayer/bible study/evangelism/discipling time, and sleep.  Our sheets were passed around and reviewed by fellow staff members.

At staff meetings, we would also discuss members problems or their sins and how to disciple/ rebuke/correct/counsel people.  Someone had shared about a certain husband committing adultery.  Confidentiality was never honored.

I started feeling like the leader I didn’t want to be.  I was feeling pressure, so I began putting pressure on the girls in my zone.  When we had our group discipling times, I raised the accountability.  For example, I would ask questions like, “Did you share your faith?” “How many times, with whom, and did you get their phone numbers?”  If they hadn’t been active in sharing their faith this week, I would ask the questions, “Did you have a quiet time with God today?”  “Your heart must be bad, there must be sin in there because God isn’t blessing you.” I was becoming a tyrant and hating it.  People started fearing me.  I started to suffer the consequences of my stress.  I attribute some health problems because of tremendous pressure of being of staff.

In 1988, Ed and Bobbi decided that the church would join the Boston Movement.  They would go to Chicago for the summer to get further training.  The Boston Movement was going to reconstruct our church.  Ed announced this decision to the church during a Sunday service.  He took a one hundred dollar bill and tore it in half. He gave one half to a member in the audience.  He told us, this is how sure I am about coming back.  You keep half the bill until I return at the end of the summer.  The church felt secure.


The Reconstruction

The reconstruction began in June of 1988.  John and Nancy Mannel came from the Chicago Church of Christ and moved into Ed and Bobbie Power’s house for the summer.  This couple wanted daily meetings for the staff from 8 – 3 for the next two weeks.

That next week, Ed and Bobbie were in a meeting in Chicago with the staff.  During this meeting, The Chicago Leaders announced that Steve and Tricia Staten had been asked to lead the Indianapolis Church of Christ and were going to move there permanently and Ed and Bobbie would stay on in Chicago.  Ed stormed out of the meeting, drove back to Indianapolis and gathered the staff together.  He wanted to pull out of the reconstruction because he had been lied to.  Ed was very disappointed and was afraid to turn his church over to the movement that had lied to him.  As a staff, we almost consented, but Chicago Church caught wind of this and moved quickly.  There was a meeting called for the staff the next day. Marty and Chris Fuque rushed to Indianapolis.  They stayed with the Powers for the next week, encouraging them and helping them to accept this decision.

The staff meeting was horrific.  We were rebuked for even listening to Ed try to back out of the reconstruction.  We were told that we would never be on staff at the Chicago Church, we would hardly even be considered to be bible talk leaders. It was very demeaning.

We continued these meetings for the next two weeks.  They taught us how to be tough with our people and hold them accountable.  They talked about what was wrong with our church.  In the area of contribution, we were taught to ask people about their finances and tithing.  They said a lack of tithing was a symptom of a bad heart.  If people in our group weren’t tithing, we were not leading our people right.  We were considered cowards if we couldn’t be direct in this area.

Next came the small group confessions.  The staff women met one evening and each person had to confess their sins.  The Chicago leaders told us that no matter what we confessed we would not be kicked off staff.  As each woman confessed her sin, the leaders took notes, which were used later.  The entire congregation also had to participate in an all-church confession night.  Two members left the church that night: one woman was a single mom and had to work that same night, the other was her discipler.  The Chicago leaders told this single mom not to go in to work because the church function was more important.  Both of girls said goodbye to the church that night.

Then came the life-talks.  Each member sat down with a leader and talked about their spiritual life.  The goal was to talk about sin in each person’s life and to discuss the possibility of re-baptism. The talks were harsh and direct.  My talk was extremely harsh.  Those notes at the confession group were definitely brought up.  One of the leaders said that I should re-think my baptism.  She also told me that the group I led was very unspiritual and disappointing to her.

In August, the Chicago church of Christ fired all 17 Indianapolis staff members and kept only 3.  I was one of the 17.

They made the announcement to the congregation one night.  In a matter of 24 hours the Indianapolis staff members were ousted.  We felt used during the reconstruction.

I went back to my previous job but felt miserable.  It was a hard time; it was amazing how people would say negative and sarcastic things to me.  When someone is praised by a leader, the respect is high, but when someone is ‘demoted” the respect will change.


The Controlling Discipler

Since the majority of the staff was fired, the Chicago Church brought in new leaders.  I was now “under” the guidance of a girl who moved here from Chicago.  It was the worst year of my life.  I have never felt so accused, mistreated, and harassed, in my life.  I led a bible study with her watching; her comments afterwards were, she is not going to make it on your teaching, and you have some serious problems.  She wanted complete control of my life.  Everything I did she corrected like the clothes I wore, my hairstyle, where I lived, and what I did in my spare time (that is if I had any at all). I was never good enough; there was something to be always criticized.

In February of 1989, I began dating someone that I really cared for.  This girl was on me like a ton a bricks.  She constantly said I wasn’t open enough.  We got engaged in August of 1989, which was great.  It was difficult joyfully planning a wedding while being under complete control.  I remember going to a department store to write out our bridal registry. Of course we had to share our faith too.  She actually called me a liar when I said we had shared our faith too.  Later that week, I had an appointment with my brother in law to go over the music for the ceremony.  She was very angry because I had missed a discipling time with her.  She threatened me with the fact that I was putting the wedding before God, and I needed to be careful or God just might take this away.

When it came to choose our wedding date, we were going over the dates we wanted with this couple.  They said absolutely NOT on this date the evangelist wants it to be this month and you will not get married before this date.  I was furious.  But I wanted to get married more than I wanted to fight with this controlling witch.  I thought I would be smart and say, darn it, I wanted you to be in the wedding, but since the date is farther away, I guess it won’t work out because of your pregnancy due date.  She jumped at this and said, “Yes, I’ll ask the evangelist’s wife and make sure it is okay.  I’ll let you know.”  Of course she came back and said yes.  My mom was furious that a nine-month pregnant woman was going to be part of the ceremony. She bullied her way to be part of the wedding party.  Should I have spoken up knowing that the wedding might be threatened again?  I didn’t want to take that chance so I remained quiet.  I was very on guard until we got married.

About two months after our wedding, the evangelist had given direction to the church that we should share with three people that week.  At our leader’s meeting, I was asked if I had done this and said no.  She yelled at me saying, “You disobeyed the evangelist of the church, what is wrong with you?”  I had to remind myself that I was a grown, professional woman.

In April of 1990, my father had a heart attack and had bypass surgery.  He was very sick and I was very concerned about him.  After the surgery, his leg didn’t heal completely and it was amputated.  My discipler didn’t call or ask how he was doing.  She waited a couple weeks and then said I need to get busy getting more bible studies with non-members.  How dare a life circumstance interfere with church productivity?  She said she had mercy and was patient in tell me this because my dad’s condition.  I started to wonder if I should leave the church.  Another time, she called to get some stats on my bible talk.  It was around 11:00pm and I had to work the next morning.  I said I would call her back tomorrow and said good night.  She called me right back and told me that I was very disrespectful and to not talk to her again like that.  That day was my birthday.

Sometime in May, my husband was laid off.  He diligently searched the area for jobs but came up short. During this time, it was special contribution for the church.  We didn’t have the money to give, but the evangelist told us to make a pledge anyway because he felt like the job market was good.  So we made a pledge to give to the special contribution fund, while our funds were slowly being depleted.  After 3 months of job searching, he had a job offer in Michigan.  It was a good offer, and we decided to move.  The leadership was not happy, and said we were independent and unfaithful.  Actually we were broke and grateful to have found a job.


Detroit Church of Christ

We moved to Detroit in September 1990.  The Atlanta Church of Christ had sent a team of 15 members to start the Detroit Church of Christ the previous year.  We met with the evangelist and his wife before our first church service for a quick meal at Wendy’s.  They welcomed us to the church and said they had spoken to the Indianapolis leader. They told us that Indianapolis said that we were independent and prideful, and had moved without seeking advice (permission).  Hmm, this was going to be an interesting church beginning.  We were assigned a couple that had moved to Detroit several months ago.  They were a nice couple and seemed to care.  My husband hit it off with the brother, I felt more reserved.  One time, the girls went out for coffee and the guys talked.  I had a great time and needed the laughter and light heartedness.  The next group discipling time, my discipler told me, the guys talked a lot about spiritual things and we just hung out. She said I needed to be more spiritual and that I was not an open person I was told to change my attitude.  The next Sunday, I arrived at church early.  There were some members just casually talking.  I went up to them and said hello.  The women’s ministry leader, turned around, looked straight at me and without saying a word, just turned back around to her conversation.  I believe I was being talked about behind my back and it wasn’t good.

In October, the evangelist and wife were fired and asked to move to L.A.  Another couple moved to Detroit and shared their goals with the church.  I knew this couple and had a good friendship with them.  I told one sister that I was very excited about this couple and their goals.  I told her that the church was really going to do great things.  She called me on the telephone this evening, (knowing that I was sick) and told me that I was divisive and better watch what I say.

In February of 1991, my sister called me and told me that my father had died in his sleep.  It was very hard to accept and my heart was broken.  I really missed him and felt sad for a long time.  I went back to Indianapolis for the funeral.  Only two people from the Indianapolis church came to the funeral.  That hurt!!  I had only been away for only six months but I had been a member and served that church for ten years.  When I came back to Michigan, I just needed time to grieve.  A week later, one of the leaders told me that I needed to be more joyful and get back into the swing of things and work at the ministry.  I actually felt like slapping her.  I was upset at the lack of compassion.


The Discipler from Hell

In 1992, another couple discipled us. I think we frustrated the last couple.  So we were handed over to the Nazi disciplers.  At this time, I was pregnant.  I was also very sick.  It wasn’t just morning sickness; it was for the entire day. One Saturday evening, I was up all night getting sick and didn’t go to church the next day.  That didn’t go over well.  I got a phone call that afternoon.  It wasn’t hello how are you, it was I don’t feel good about you not being at church.

For the next few months, I tried my best to give to the three girls I was discipling.  Under the circumstances I was very proud of my effort and felt like I was pleasing God and sacrificing even when I didn’t feel well physically.  My discipler had a talk with me.  And told me that she was upset because I was not giving my best to the kingdom and worried about the girls under me.  I told her that I was giving my best and it would be good to talk more about this with someone else listening.  Two other sisters joined in this confrontation.  I asked my discipler if she believed that I had been sick from my pregnancy, she said, “No.”  I asked her if she thought I had been lying, she said yes.  The other girls just sat there and stared, not saying a word for several moments.  Finally, a lame apology was given to me.  The meeting was closed.  At our next discipling time, she told me, let’s not have that happen again.  Okay.

I was also a babysitting service to this girl.  She even called me one time when they all had the stomach flu, wanting me to come over and take her sick kid to my home so they could sleep.  I told her No, because I didn’t want my child getting the stomach flu.

Later, we were told about a leadership conference held in Chicago right after Christmas. I had already been invited to a special family event during the same time, which I planned on attending.  I told them NO, I am not going to the conference.  At the same time, I wanted to help coordinate the children’s Christmas program.  The evangelist’s wife actually said, “I would let you coordinate it, if you come to the leadership meeting.”  I just told her sorry I’m not going.

Another hurtful event was during my second pregnancy in 19994.  I was still with the same discipler.  I was three months along in my pregnancy, and started having complications.  I went to the hospital, had an ultrasound.  The doctor listened for a heartbeat, and then told us that he was truly sorry but the baby was dead.  We went home and made a few phone calls.  That night, I was taken to the hospital, and delivered the unborn baby.  It was a hard time for me.  What I really needed was some attention and compassion.  I got nothing.  I had been babysitting this girl’s baby two days a week while she was working, free charge of course.  I told her that I needed some time.  How much?  I said about a week.  After a week, I still wasn’t able, and told her I needed more time.  She grew frustrated with me, and just said, “Okay, but I really need your help.”  Not a card, flowers, sympathy, nothing, but “hurry and heal so you can serve me.”

One evening, we set aside time to pray together with this couple at our house.  They finally came about 30 minutes late. They were fighting.  They came through our front door without saying hello and asked for the telephone to call their discipler and to talk for a while. Without an apology for tardiness, they went home. During our next discipleship time, she told me that they had gotten their fight resolved.  I asked her why they didn’t even apologize to us for being late and rude.  I also asked her if she was getting help with her anger.  She was furious with me. In the system of hierarchy, a person underneath does not challenge the person over her.  She said she got the necessary help and already apologized to her discipler and husband.  The next evening, we were summoned to their house.  My husband and I sat across the room from this couple.  Her husband rebuked, corrected, and lashed out at me.  He told me, “YOU WLL NEVER TALK TO MY WIFE LIKE THAT AGAIN.”  I was startled at the harshness. He said I was in danger of losing my salvation because I was so prideful.  He said pride keeps people from a relationship with God and sends them to hell and I needed to repent and do exactly what I’m told so I can save my soul.  He said that his wife didn’t owe me an explanation or apology. He further went on to say, that his wife will not be afraid of me, and will not hold back any accountability. (I thought she was already doing a good job of that).  I left completely humiliated.  The next day, I brought them dinner, because I honestly believed that if I didn’t show them some repentance by doing a good deed and thanking them, I would go to hell.  I learned to be very quiet and stuff my feelings even more so after this incident.

This couple also was struggling financially but still giving a huge amount of money for their weekly contribution.  They asked what we made and began to correct.  “You make more than us and yet we give more contribution than you.  You need to check out your heart and make sure that you love God because your actions are not showing it.”  We raised our contribution.

In 1994, I received a phone call from our evangelist's wife about Indianapolis.  She told me that there was a meeting last night; Ed Powers was trying to break away from the Movement.  She read me a scripture in the bible where the people rebelled and the earth opened up and all the rebellious people fell in (Num. 16, the Rebellion of Korah).  She said, “If the Indy people don't repent, there will be consequences and these people were in danger of going to Hell.”  I believed her, because I thought anyone against ICC was against God.  We were encouraged to call everyone we knew.  My husband and I called people all week.

We finally were assigned to another couple.  I was so glad.  It was a chapter in my life that I wanted to forget.  I did speak up when things weren’t right and the reaction to my voice wasn’t received very well, but I had courage.


The Reeds

            The Detroit Church was in poor shape, people were unhappy, leaving the church, and complaining.  Larry and Kim Reed were sent to lead the church in April 1997.

We were brought back into leadership and were appointed shepherding couples.  We were very happy in this role; we really enjoyed taking care of people.  We delivered communion messages and spoke at the new Christian fellowship gatherings.  One communion message, I shared that I would remain part of this church for the rest of my life.

The church did well for a while.  Larry was a very persuasive preacher.  He had a way of getting people to do just about anything.  The coat, toy, and food drive were successes.

 We began to have campaign months 4 times a year.  This was a month of intense evangelism, bible studies and special events at the church to invite people to.  We had extremely high baptism goals set for each group. Every member was expected to be in a study, and the group leaders were held accountable to make sure this happened.  We had to turn in stat sheets every Sunday.  The staff wanted information for every member.  They wanted to know how

many times they shared their faith, if  they were in a bible study, and if they were at church services.  We worked very hard each month of the campaign.  Every night was consumed with an activity. After the campaign month was over, all the members took a sigh of relief and continued to work their full time jobs.  The staff went on group vacations for a reward.

The church started to have financial problems.  The membership contribution kept growing but so did the expenses.  Each staff member had a credit card from the church without limitations.  We were completely oblivious to this rising debt; we trusted leadership and kept sharing our faith.  We had a couple in our group with two small children. The husband lost his job, and their family needed food.  We asked the church if they could help.  They said they would have to write a letter explaining their situation, make a budget, and submit a plan of how they were going to find a job.  This may be helpful information, but they needed food now.  So my husband and I bought them $200.00 worth of groceries.  We were puzzled as to why we gave so much contribution, but when someone needed help it was not received well.

The church was like a baptism machine.  Members that were hard working were praised.  It was very hard on the members who had children.  Family life was given a low priority.  The Reeds were asked to lead another church and moved away in 2000.  Chris and Jackie McGrath moved to Detroit to lead the church.  They came with some new attitudes.  Family life was a priority.  Church growth wasn’t what the “upper” leadership wanted.  In the fall of 2002 they were asked to leave Detroit.  The Reeds returned in the winter of 2003.


Henry Kriete Letter

January 2003, we had a midweek service and were told about a letter that was written by “an unhappy leader complaining about the church.”  I wasn’t going to read the letter because I had been taught that reading negative information about the church was spiritual pornography.

In February, I had a close friend read the letter and email it to me.  The letter talked about corruption, problems of the hierarchy system, misuse of finances, and control among members.  As I was reading the letter, I began to feel validated about these issues I had been taught that it was my sin, my prideful heart.  Instead I saw that many people had felt the same way, I was not alone.  It was good to step back and get a perspective of what I was part of.  I started to read other websites and felt disappointed about how cruel and corrupt my church had become over the years. I read stories written by ex-members that had when through similar harsh discipling that I had.  I began to realize that the ICC had done its own spinning of the Indianapolis story in making Ed Powers out to be the bad guy and that there was another side to the story. Few people in the ICC know the truth about the Indianapolis reconstruction.  It was hard to sleep at night.

We began to hear rumors about the church’s debt so we decided to make an appointment with the administrator to see the church’s financial records.  We were disgusted about the misuse of money.  One year, $76,000 was spent on staff travel expenses, $13,000 on phones bills/cell phones, and $1300 on benevolence.  We were sick.  It was an area where we trusted and now felt betrayed.  We talked to the leaders and saw little remorse about their spending.  After we had talked to the Reeds, we had a staff member call us and wanted to know if they could help because she heard we were spiritually struggling.  I was so mad!  We were definitely struggling with disgust at the leadership.

It was difficult and frightening to change my thinking about ICC after 22 years, but I finally saw the church for what it was. I experienced years of turmoil, sleepless nights, harsh treatment and seeing my self worth become dependant on works and leader’s opinions.  I saw a church that I felt disgusted and ashamed to be part of it.  It was a self-serving system that cared little for the lives of its members.

My husband and I decided to leave the church in August of 2003.  We called our people in our group, close friends, and the couple discipling us.  Some felt disappointed, hurt, and angry. Others felt like we had betrayed them, and were walking away from God.

One person said it was going to be his goal to get us back.  We received many phone calls and some members showed up at our door.  We stopped talking to many people, because they were very demeaning to us.   For the first several months, I had thoughts that I was going to hell because I was not part of the ICC.  I began to read some very helpful books on spiritual recovery.  I learned that many of the things I had believed were religious lies.  I talked to ex members quite a lot.  The support was very valuable.  My confidence and self worth has really changed.  It is not up and down anymore, but remains constant. I can’t spend my life trying to please a group of leaders, or hoping that my performance is good enough.

I am enjoying spending time with my husband and children.  Happiness has returned.