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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: Liverpool Writer ()
Date: December 06, 2007 06:46AM

Hi, 'rhymeswithdross'!

I'm gay and a very liberal Anglican, so no judgment from me - and I'll happily defend you if anyone takes issue with your beliefs. What we all have in common here is not our religion, but our humanity. We've all experienced abuse, seen abuse, and want to spare other people from abuse, and that's the bottom line.

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: rhymeswithdross ()
Date: December 06, 2007 08:12PM

Thanks for that Liverpool Writer. I do still sometimes feel a little nervous around born again Christians after the KFC's ethos of "convert everyone you meet else they'll go to hell and you'll be in trouble too". But I guess I don't need to be nervous of anyone on here; you all have been through the same sorts of things and aren't about to try to convert me - I hope!!

I'm going to write this in stages because I have a little baby boy who commands much of my attention so the huge swathes of time I used to have in which I could have written a long detailed description of my time at KFC are gone!

So in the next two minutes I'll fill you in on where I am now, and work backwards over time.

I'm married, I have an eight month old baby, I'm on maternity leave but have to return to paid work in January (gutted!) and I live in St Helens. I've not had any contact with my mother or sister since 2003 (and before that it was limited as I left the church in 2000) but I do speak to Dad, electronically (via Facebook mainly) and he has also met the little one now, too.

I don't believe in anything religious / spiritual / supernatural at all, but I live my life well and have my own moral code which probably is very similar to the Christian creed of doing unto others as you'd have them do unto you. I still have the occasional nightmare about being in KFC; normally these take the form of being kidnapped by my parents / by Cheryl and her gang of young uber-holies, but other than that I can honestly say I feel set free from it all now. In many ways I feel having a baby has been quite healing, but more on that later.

Anyway I have to go and change a nappy and go into town to meet a friend for a coffee. I'll write more later on either today or over the next few days.

PS I remember the frogs too, and the Christmas trees, and the godawful sitting in Cheryl's back room asking where anyone had touched me or if I touched myself there too... does anyone here remember having to cut the labels off Chinese foods if it had a dragon on it?

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: rhymeswithdross ()
Date: December 06, 2007 10:02PM

Anyway, going backwards again.

I left the fellowship of the ring lol back in 2000. I'd had boyfriends before that but managed always to keep them fairly well-hidden from my parents and from KFC members; if I couldn't keep them hidden I would announce them as "friends" and sometimes also announce my plans for converting them, as that was the only way you were really allowed non-Christian friends, as I'm sure many of you will remember.

What was in my head? Well, I really believed in God and in Cheryl - yes, in Cheryl, we did all idolise her to some extent, feared her but worshiped her I suppose - oh and in my Mother, who, to me was God's spy on Earth. But I knew I also wanted to lead a "normal" life, have a boyfriend, have kids, move the hell out of Kirkby one day... so I suffered major cognitive dissonance (I believe that's what it's called). I lived a dual life; one life in Kirkby, the other mainly in Liverpool (where I was at uni - oh that's another story in itself but for another time).

But anyway, this time around I'd not managed to keep this boyfriend as well hidden as the others and they found out. My boyfriend (now my husband) and I were in his house one morning when we received a phone call from my mother saying "you're at his house aren't you? You're sleeping with him aren't you?" I had a fear in the pit of my stomach but also a feeling of release; I'd been found out. My boyfriend drove me back to their house where I went in and upstairs - bit of a farce actually. My mother locked me in my room (I was 22 years old!) so I appeared on the balcony, very Romeo and Juliette, and shouted to my boyfriend to come and knock on the door. I was then let out of my room and got told it was my boyfriend or them and I had to choose, basically.

My mother spent some time telling my boyfriend I was psychotic and that he shouldn't stay with me... we sat, me him and my parents in our front room, which was full of bible study books, concordances, books about how pop music was evil and She-Ra was the devil or whatever - he knew they were quite fundamentalist from what I'd told him, but he didn't realise until this moment just how far gone they were. Poor chap got quite a fright.

So anyway, that was it. I was kicked out basically, they always tried to say I chose to leave but it wasn't exactly a choice was it?

I went to live with my boyfriend and his Mum in St Helens for a few months, then when he got a job in London I took the chance and moved down there with him straight away. During this time I did stay in touch with my parents and sister; I emailed my Dad and whenever he came down to London with my mother I met with them. I hated meeting with my mother; every thing she said was a veiled insult to my fiancé or an attempt at trying to make me think like a fundamentalist again. My fiancé hated her but put up with her crap for my sake.

And then there was my sister. It's quite upsetting in some ways. She came down to London a few times to stay with us. It was kind of a "getting to know you on my own terms" exercise as we'd not had the happiest of childhoods and had often turned our anger on each other. I asked her to be my bridesmaid when my fiance and I finally tied the knot and she agreed.

After nearly three years in London we'd had enough and returned back here in November 2002; we organised our wedding for October of the next year and told my immediate family. They weren't actually that happy (funny that, hadn't we been "living in sin" all these years and finally we were going to tie the knot? But I think the register office wedding with a dark purple wedding dress got to them. Oh and the fact I was finally committing 100% to the infidel that was my Atheist fiancé) and my sister told me she didn't want to be my bridesmaid after all as she'd been coming to terms with her faith and how she wasn't going to sit on the fence or pretend to have liberal views any more... no, she was hardcore.

Funny... I think that back when she was visiting us in London, that was when she was most likely to have escaped from the fellowship; she had an inquiring mind and she had quite a few non-Christian friends... but it wasn't to be.

I often wonder what happened, "from the other side" as it were. Was she finally invited into the Young Uber-holies Special Sunday Singing and Leading Group with the promise of being even closer to the perfection that was Cheryl? Unlike her backsliding sister maybe she could be spared from hell? I do wonder what was said to her, what promises were made to send her scuttling back to the "comfort" of KFC.

[I could just go for a comforting mega bucket of KFC right now actually. Sorry, I know at least one of you is veggie. (I don't know if you remember but wasn't vegetarianism a doctrine of the devil or something like that along with so many other things?)]

Anyway I had better go and get the baby; he's woken up (he doesn't really do sleep!) and needs attending to. When I come back I'll continue if I can. I don't mind talking about modern day stuff (i.e. since I left) but sometimes talking about how it was when I was a child is a bit upsetting.

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: rhymeswithdross ()
Date: December 07, 2007 12:55AM

Where was I? Well, the little man is asleep upstairs so I thought I'd sneak back and write some more.

It's so hard to organise your thoughts, isn't it?

I've talked all about what happened, how I "escaped" but not really about life growing up in the fellowship.

It was tough. Really tough. My parents were never part of the inner holy circle and as a result (although I did not know this at the time) neither were my sister and I.

Memories come flooding up: my mother always brought us up really, really strictly (spare the rod and all that - well, not a rod, but usually a belt or a wooden spoon or shoe). We didn't know any swear words or anything like that. One day my sister and I were invited to an evening soirée at Kennelwood Avenue, number 69. Some of the other kids (the Rachels) made a joke with the word "arse" in it. I didn't know what an arse was (see, I told you I had a strict upbringing!) and I asked what it was! Laughter abounded but one of them threatened to tell Cheryl I had said the word "arse". I was absolutely terrified. I look back on that now and find it quite funny but it was so scary at the time.

I think we were all rather scared of Cheryl. And my mother. I know I was, anyway.

Other memories: I too have the memory of the "chat" in the back room at Kennelwood (funny how we called their house "Kennelwood" when in fact "Kennelwood" was the name of an entire street). "Has anyone touched you there?" no. "Have you ever touched yourself there?" well, I was an older child and was just at that age where you're interested in exploring your own body and desires, shall we say. But I knew instinctively that if I'd have said that to Cheryl I'd've been in deep kak. Only, I said, when I shower or have a bath, you know, to wash. So glad I said that and not, Yes, when I think of New Kids on the Block!!

I went home to my Mum and told her what had happened. What do you think she said? Do you think she expressed horror at someone talking to her child like that without her permission? No. Do you think she threatened to call the police as this was almost a form of abuse? No. She said:

"And were there any of the children who were in there longer than the rest?"

She wanted to know the "juicy" (i.e. awful) gossip! She wanted to know if any of the kids in the fellowship *had* been abused! Can you believe that?

To my utter shame and I have never forgiven myself for this I told her there had been one girl who'd been in there longer than the others and her name was the same as mine. She hadn't been in there much longer, just a few minutes. But you know the awful thing? I *knew* why my mother was asking. I *knew* it wasn't innocent and I *knew* she just wanted to gossip. But I still told her. I kind of hate myself for that.

Oh, what else? I could go on forever I'm sure. Some of the funnier things (looking back of course) were the frogs, the cat in the tumble drier (not that that in itself was at all funny - I love cats! - but that a cat in a tumble drier could be a symbol of God's regard for Cheryl or whatever it was), the fact that every few months we'd be just on the cusp of a revival but oh no we just didn't want it enough (I used to feel so guilty for this. I really didn't want revival. I was bullied mercilessly in school and the last blinkin' thing I needed was to be part of a revival. I always thought revival didn't come because I, me, personally, didn't want it!), what else? Yes the labels from Chinese food had to go, the Christmas trees (gutting that one!) and a whole host of other ridiculous things.

Every few months we seemed to have a new revival "project". Weren't we going around the walls of Jericho for ages? Then there was a wedding dress or some such thing and one of the uber-holy young people was the actual bride of Christ?

So many more memories. Some of them make me angry, some make me feel stupid that I believed them. More in a bit.

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: rhymeswithdross ()
Date: December 07, 2007 01:19AM

So what's next?

The constant misery, that's what. Always on the outside. I didn't know why my parents weren't part of the inner circle until I was in my late teens. I remember once my mother telling me it was the fault of my sister and I, that we weren't holy enough, and we were stopping her from being in the uber-holy adults. That we - I - should start attending those bloody after-meetings (what, on a school night? Hello?) and I should look the part - out must go the long dresses and doctor martens (surely they are of the devil) stop shopping at Quiggins and instead wear the ubiquitous uniform that is Next and M&S.

Can you imagine how this made me feel? That I was stopping my parents from fulfilling their destiny? (Sounds a bit Star Wars that doesn't it?) I felt like sh--. But I still carried on doing it.... oh I loved sinning, I loved sinning with boys, or by clubbing, or drinking in bars (you know, every time I went to a bar when I was at uni I told my mother I was going to a late night coffee bar otherwise she would not have let me go - seriously!). The guilt... I'd go out clubbing on a Saturday night and then on Sunday I'd sit there, obviously on the back row, and repent, repent, repent - I actually *did* repent as well believe it or not, I felt dreadful.

Then at ten o'clock when the meeting was finally over and we'd all fallen over politely - I mean, been slain in the spirit - I'd go home, neatly repented, and phone my boyfriend.

But I digress. I was talking about growing up. I never did get along with my sister. I feel some shame over this. I treated her quite badly at times. I feel partly responsible for her being "got" by the fellowship now. I feel if I had been nicer to her, been a proper sister, ganged up *with* her against my mother rather than against her, maybe she'd have had the strength to leave?

I'm sorry these thoughts are so random. I know I should organise them better but I'm just writing down the memories that come into my head as I type.

When we moved to Glasven Road... oh God it was awful. We'd been living in a nice little alleyway on Millbrook Walk for so long, lovely house, nice area. My Mother, you may recall, was quite the Hyacinth Bucket, sorry, bouquet, so when we moved to Glasven Road this nice little middle-class couple with their two snobbish (I'm sorry, we were, we'd been brought up to be snobs though) children had a huge, huge shock.

And it wasn't funny. The bricks through the window every night were terrifying, really terrifying. My mother made matters worse; she could not get along with her neighbours, "rough" scousers, scallies who would ask for their ball back and she would go round the front and in her poshest voice say, "this had better not happen again lah de dah" and of course it did and eventually the bricks came, windows smashed every night for years and years... did they move? Did they think that this environment was a terrible place to bring up two children / teenagers? Did they think that when their oldest daughter got a brick thrown at her and was threatened with rape by a local boy that now was the time to get the hell out of this hell hole? No, because they were there because God had told them.

But you know what? It wouldn't have been quite so bad if this, moving to the chosen street, had elicited the response they wanted (i.e. being part of the uber-holy adults and me and my sister being part of the uber-holy "young ones"). But as soon as the bricks started coming, Cheryl and the scooby gang distanced themselves from my mother. Apparently Cheryl "got a word" or some such thing. My mother was desperately upset by this and I remember her crying! But did they move? No.

I actually get angry for my mother about this; Cheryl couldn't drive a car so my mother used to run her and Mary to the shops every week. Where was the gratitude though? As soon as things got rough the gang turned their backs on her.

But I don't get too angry because of course, I hear that now they are all a happy part of the scooby gang.

Horrible though, growing up there. My mother's posh voice used to make me cringe. My sister and I were brought up to have the same posh voice and as I'm sure you can imagine, with a voice like that living in Kirkby we went down like a lead balloon. I knew why the other kids hated her because I hated her too.

You know, she used to hit my sister on the hand with a wooden spoon really hard. She'd grab her hand to hit it. And obviously, as you do, my sister would try and get away. She'd bend her entire body backwards to get away from the pain. And you know what my mother did? She called it "doing her banana act" and used to laugh at her. She would hit her *whilst* *laughing* *at* *her*. This was because you had to "spare the rod, spoil the child". I was far better behaved because I did not like the pain. I just seethed inside.

When we were *really* naughty though it was discipline from my Dad. We'd be asked to go upstairs and get the belt ourselves. My Dad would sit on the chest in the hall and we'd have our bare bottoms beaten with the belt.

"Spare the rod, spoil the child". This was what the fellowship taught them and what they then inflicted on us.

I write all this and wonder why my sister is still there. Why my mother, who was spurned by the holy women of the church, is still there. Why my Dad, who these days seems like a reasonable fellow, or at least is able to completely compartmentalise the two parts of his life, is still there.

Anyway, more later. I think this is enough for this evening.

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: rosebud ()
Date: December 07, 2007 05:49PM

Hi Rhymeswith

I definately know who you are. Me and Beck got told you had run away from home, seriously if you had of told us what it was like for you at home my Mum and Dad definately would have put you up. My heart bled when I read what you have written. There is a fine line between discipline and abuse, and abuse is illegal so as far as I am concerned any of thoe people in the fellowship who do not spare the rod are child abusers. I have never hit my son and he is a well behaved boy. Smacking your children is illegal in this Country and as a person who goes to the fellowship knows, we must obey the law of the land. If I found out that anybody who still goes there is hitting their children with objects I would have no problem reporting them to the NSPCC (any children or young people from the fellowship reading this, if your parents are hitting you then you are being abused).

Its funny, when I first came on this website I was sure that I still believed in something spiritual, but as I started venting and remembering it just stirred up the fact and the truth came to my mind that I have always been an Athiest. Sometimes when you say that people are shocked but I think when you have been indoctrinated like we have, faith in anything goes.

I am so glad you have come on this site and I am so pleased you have got your little boy and your husband.

Becky and I have missed you alot, watching x-files wasnt the same without you! I will always think of you as my sweet hippy mate.

Lots of love,

Trina xxxxx

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: Serenity ()
Date: December 07, 2007 05:55PM

Hey Rhymeswith,

Its so good to hear from you and know that, despite everything, life has worked out ok for you. It was heartbreaking reading what you had written, I wish I had known so I could have helped you, but I understand that you probably did not want to talk about it.

I was gutted when they told me you had run away from home, I really missed you. I often wonder about how you were doing.

I'm just glad that you are ok with a lovely little boy and a husband who loves you. You were my best mate in that place and you kept me sane (you meant far more to me than you will ever know) and you never cut me off when I left. That meant a lot.

As soon as you have got 10 posts private message me or Trina your e-mail address or telephone number. I would love to be able to sit and gab with you again. I've missed you loads.

Lots of love,

Becky xxxxx

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: Liverpool Writer ()
Date: December 07, 2007 05:56PM

This little reunion is very touching!

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: rhymeswithdross ()
Date: December 07, 2007 09:44PM

Trina and Becky! Oh it's so lovely to hear from you both. I hope you're both doing well.

Trina I'll never forget you talking about Bob Dylan going all Christian and saying how it was silly and people wanted to hear his original songs. I remember at the time thinking, "oh wow is she REALLY saying that? Wow! How brave! How sinful, but how brave!" Lol ;-) I was shocked, but at the same time admired your courage... you know how it is when you're in the fellowship, you're told to disregard the "backsliders". I did... but at the same time thought you were kinda cool, if that makes any sense!!!

Becky I remember when you stopped going and it's nice to hear you didn't think I abandoned you. I feel like I did a bit, for which I genuinely apologise. I really wanted to be friends and thoroughly enjoyed spending time in your company. And watching the X-files! And talking about who we fancied in the programme, oh and do you remember being obsessed with Lwaxana Troy and Q in Star Trek!! Such good fun! A real shame we drifted.

I remember your Mum and Dad too, they were both lovely people, I especially recall your Dad used to drive us to piano lessons. How are they both now?

If either of you are on Facebook look me up, I'm under my real name and I'm in the Manchester network. There's a picture of me with a baby and a cat on my knee!!

I have to go and attend to the wee one now but will try and come back later and write some more. It's quite cathartic don't you find?

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Re: Kirkby Christian Fellowship
Posted by: rhymeswithdross ()
Date: December 07, 2007 11:26PM

I'm sure I posted another message on here! Ah well it hasn't shown up yet but I'm sure it will. In it I went through my memories of you two (Becky & Trina, and your Mum & Dad). Happy memories really!!

Back to the story...

It's weird, I write down all the bad things that happen but there were some good things too, especially before we moved to Glasven Road at any rate. I don't want to make my mother and Dad out to be ogres, although it did feel like that a lot (especially with my mother).

More memories; does anyone remember the incident in the Pyramid Suite where a member of the fellowship got publicly shamed for wanting to marry a non-Christian? I don't know what the policy is on naming names, so if it's wrong I apologise but his name was Bill Higham. I remember Cheryl telling everyone to go and talk to him and see if they could persuade him where he was going wrong.

There were others within the fellowship with whom I got along; Maureen for example was absolutely lovely and even when I was "backsliding" never judged me. Caroline was lovely as well (although my mother turned me against her, sadly, by telling me she poisoned their dog. I now doubt that this was true but at the time...) although I did often wonder why she married the man she did; they were like chalk and cheese and I couldn't help but wonder if Cheryl had had a hand in it. Jamie, with whom I'm in contact on Facebook and who has now also escaped, was really friendly (right up until she joined the Young People's special group, but I don't blame her for that, it was the done thing at the time to try to get into that group). John Wakefield was a hoot, he was so irreverent. I once remember him asking Marsha why you couldn't smoke Cannabis as it wasn't in the bible that you couldn't. PMSL at that one. Marsha kept floundering to answer him. Although I was a little nervous of him too as I never *really* knew whose side he was on; was he so irreverent because he was actually a secret spy for the Cheryl crew? I often wondered.

In fact I remember when I first got together with my husband and we were walking through Liverpool holding hands, I saw John in the distance and dropped my boyfriends hand immediately in case he snitched on me to Cheryl! I'm sure he wouldn't have done though but when you were in KFC you never knew did you?

But that bloody young people's singing group oh God they did my head in. So flippin' holy. And the only other people who were the same age as them in the fellowship who *weren't* in the group were... yes, me and my sister.

It was mortifying in those Praise & Healing meetings when Cheryl would say, "can all the young ones go to the front" and me and my sister weren't allowed. I felt like *everyone* was looking at us thinking, "they're not very holy are they?" A glorified choir, that's what they *really* were.

And........ oh does anyone remember Sandymount? Becky you may have left already by the time we were all going to that bloody place. A spiritual retreat in the heart of Crosby by the sea. More like a blinkin' boot camp for indoctrination. You know, you hear a lot in the news about "Islamic Boot Camps for Terrorists". But you know something? I bet if Cheryl came to one of those Sandymount things and said to all the young people, "God wants YOU to be a suicide bomber for him..." that they would do just that.

More later, a friend is visiting now.

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