A brief history of Charles Meade and his followers:
I’m in the mood, and I may be the only one who knows some of these facts, so I’m going to write them. Some parts of this are rather obviously my interpretation and judgment, and I’ll rely on the intelligence of the reader to divide properly.
Charles Meade born on December 24, 1916 near Paintsville Kentucky, at a place called Bear Mountain. His mother’s name was Julia Howard. I don’t recall the father’s name, but he was considerably older than Julia. Julia was very devout. It was a large family, one sister of which (named Clara, I think, later married to a kind and cultured man named Brown) remained close for life.
During Meade’s childhood, the family was strongly influenced by Dored Williams, an itinerant Pentecostal evangelist. There are dramatic stories of Williams and healings from the time.
The family was poor, and young Charles traveled to Ohio to work with migrant farm crews. One pivotal experience for him was seeing a Chrysler New Yorker stuck in the mud, and helping to push it out. The driver was from New York and impressed young Meade. (This was in the depths of the depression.) Meade looked at his fellows and said, “Boys, some day I’m going to have one of those Chryslers.” Old group members will recall that Meade always chose the New Yorker as his car. Only later did he move to Cadillac. (After, I think, the New Yorker had ceased being made.)
Meade then entered the US Army and spent three (as I recall) long tours of Europe. He was wounded. He tells stories of his mother’s prayers and divine protection.
After the war, he ended up in Muncie Indiana with his wife Marie. He worked at Ball Jar, was a union steward, and they had two children, Bob and his sister, whose name eludes me at the moment. Both Charles and Marie developed serious health issues through the 50s and 60s. Marie had several heart attacks and was clinically dead on an operating table at least once. They were not devout and lived some level of middle-class existence.
In about 1967, Marie had a conversion experience and began attending church. (They ended up at a Four Square church in or very near to Muncie, though I’m not sure that was the first one.) Charles resisted Marie’s efforts for him to follow suit. But, approximately nine months later, Meade was converted during an evangelical service at the Four Square church. (Some of Meade’s later followers who attended Northern Illinois University knew this evangelist.)
Following this, Charles and Marie renovated their lives and attended church continuously. It was at this point that Meade began having visions – some in the church pews. At some point, they left the church and joined with Hobart Freeman’s Faith Assembly group. (We are into the early 1970s now.) Meade was eventually asked to conduct meetings for Freeman in Muncie, but the two fell out some time thereafter and Meade began conducting his own meetings. I’m not sure if the first ones were in his garage in Daleville, IN, but they soon were. This occurred in about 1973. The group was small but devoted. The most dramatic event from this time (1974) was a meeting at a place (perhaps a home) they called “the Burfangers.” (That’s phonetic and it was a family name.) Many dramatic healings were reported.
At this time, a group of bright young students were gathering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. One of them, Mike Carrendar, was from Indiana and his mother was involved with Meade’s group. Carrendar brought tapes to the group from both Freeman and Meade. (The others included Chris Shaheen, Gary Cooke, John Linton and John Lofstrom.) They were enamored with both Freeman and Meade and an Evanston group began to form.
After some time, Cooke went home to Sioux Falls, SD and started passing around tapes and gathering like-minded friends. Linton did similarly in Billings, Montana. All quit school, with the exceptions of Carrendar and Lofstrom.
Not knowing anything about Charles Meade's life as a minister, I do know something about his early life.
Charlie's father was not "much" older; he was 5 years older than Julia. His name was Leck Meade. Leck had 3 uncles who were Baptist ministers. Julia's father was a Baptist minister, as were several of his brothers and uncles. Leck and Julia were not extremely devout, no more and no less than other families in the area.
There are 2 versions regarding Charlie getting wounded during WWII. The 1st: The jeep Charlie was driving got shot and he received some shrapnall. The 2nd: Charlie was drunk and drove the jeep off the road, jeep rolled over, and Charlie ended up under the jeep. In both versions, he ended up wounded. He ended up in a hospital in Columbia, Ohio, where he was given morphine.
It was not Charlie's mother's prayers and divine intervention that "saved" him. After he came out of the hospital he moved in with one of his sisters and her family. As the family remembers, he was completely "screwed in the head". Always got in trouble, got his nieces and nephew in trouble, and was drunk most of the time. His brother-in-law finally told him to pack up. During this time, Charlie had also married a sweet girl. The marriage didn't last long - they divorced - no children.
The sister he remained close to for life was Cora; she had joined him in Florida.
While married to Marie, Charlie had an affair (in Indiana). Bob is the result of this affair. Marie and Charlie had also adopted a girl; Sandra.
Was Charlie a phoney? Yes and no. His siblings, nieces and nephews could tell about the times when Charlie was a teenager and gather all the kids around him and preached with fire. To this day they will tell you that Charlie truly believed what he was preaching. They will also tell you that Charlie isn't Charlie anymore.
A few relatives have tried to stay in touch with Charlie, but all will tell you that Marlene doesn't make it easy. Over the last 10, 20 years Charlie has tried to get several of his siblings to move to Lake City; one of them did and was quite disappointed to find out that he never got to get together with Charlie. After a year of trying he moved out of the state. Roadblock was Marlene.
I met Charlie only once and labeled him immediately a hypocrite and he in return decided that I was a lost cause. The occasion of this meeting was the 100th birthday of one of Charlie's brothers. Charlie had showed up with all his entourage and from what I could see, his family was not very impressed. They were even less impressed with the way Marlene and Charlie pushed the children of the birthday boy aside so they could be next to him when the photographer of the local paper took his shots.
I know all of Charlie's siblings and most of their families. They are all genuine people, not particularly religious, and just plain down to earth folks. Kinda like their parents were...btw: Julia loved to chew tobacco, barn dances, and scary stories.