I was contacted yesterday by Marilyn's first husband, Richard M. Holbrook. He shared some information with me that cemented suspicions and threw me into another level of grief and all of the physical and psychological stress reactions I have been experiencing since I realized that I had given 40 years to something false.
I actually wept for "young Marilyn" for the first time while understanding that whoever she became starting in the late 70's, was her responsibility.
In the original communication sent to me, there are excerpts from what Dick read on a church website and then his clarification is italicized and in red.
The color and italicization is not available here but if anyone wants a full copy please pm me with an email and I will send it to you. Here is the correspondence:
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rmholb <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 1:14:56 PM PST
Subject: Re: Contact re: Marilyn and/or John Robert Stevens
Mary, thanks again . . . you can use anything I write or say any way you want and with anyone. I'm pretty much an open book all my life. As for Rick and Marti, they got their culture and morality from their mother and church, or they wouldn't be the people they turned out to be . . . I really don't know either of them . . . . My off and on two-years time at the church was all wasted during the last two years of marriage to Marilyn in attempt to save it. Didn't work. I was only there for her. She, for whatever reason. turned over in bed one morning and said, "We can't be in love because we're not spiritually in tune." I laughed, thought it was a joke. It wasn't . . . . she became someone I didn't know.
From: Mary L. Wyatt <email@example.com>
To: Rmholb <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tue, Feb 19, 2019 2:52 am
Subject: Re: Contact re: Marilyn and/or John Robert Stevens
Dick: Thank you for sending this to me. Your write up fills in a lot of gaps for me personally, especially where JRS' history is concerned. I know that what you say is true. I have either witnessed what you speak of, or I have suspected it and your confirmation of the truth is very important to me and will be to others who are trying to find our way after so many decades under the cult.
I can fill you in on more history and maybe link up some missing pieces in what was done to your life and what I learned from Marilyn herself, and have learned since.
I won't get into all of that detail right now because it's late and I want to absorb what you have said. But I will clarify a few things. JRS did not give the church to Marilyn and he did not give Marilyn to Gary. That was their fairy tale and much of it was achieved through forgery and fraud - now 30+ years ago.
Starting just about 6 months ago, many longstanding, loyal members of the church (me included) started speaking out about the decades of wrongdoing in the JRS/TLWF cult. The churches are closing down or disconnecting from their past allegiance to the teaching of JRS and later Gary and your ex-wife Marilyn. Your son Rick has been named as a serial sexual abuser of many women and girls in the church and I strongly believe he became the product of his environment in the cult. It is his responsibility now. And the damage done to hundreds of other people by JRS and those he taught have nothing to do with Rick. So there is pain in every direction you look within this dying cult.
If it is okay with you, I would like to discuss this with your further in the days ahead and I would like to post the information you provided on the CEI Forum which is what used to be FactNet. I will show you anything I want to post with this information before I Post or I will post excerpts from your verbatim report if you prefer.
Again, thank you and please contact me any time. I will get back to you in the next few days (probably tomorrow).
On Monday, February 18, 2019, 9:55:53 PM PST, Rmholb <email@example.com> wrote:
Mary, thanks . . .
Call me Dick is fine, appears there's too many Richards involved for clarity . . . First, I'm sending something here I wrote that from my perspective either fills in or corrects a lot of misinformation that may or may not be of interest to anyone involved with Stevens' concept of honesty or equity for the people whose lives were impacted one way or another. My disdain for him was of his own making. . . .
So I'm a little blind in not knowing where you now stand in all the comments I've just recently been made aware of about the "church," as I've kept out of it in a life of my own. I hope the truth isn't too offensive, but here goes:
February 17, 2019
I wrote the following on March 16, 2007 and posted it at: [www.factnet.org
I had just stumbled across a Church of The Living Word Fellowship web site. “Amazing”, and without “Grace.” This regards John Robert Stevens, a so-called minister.
But I’ve let these lies fester for too long. So here are a few enlightening corrections. What’s added or corrected is italicized in red. These truths have been held in thoughtful reserve and were of inconsequence but for the thought of how they might affect Rick and Marti Holbrook, my son and daughter, as they were then children and coping with the changes wrought by divorce caused by this Stevens cult and the impending changes in lifestyle, but who now as adults and maybe incompetent people I’m told, they and others might consider the truth behind why they haven’t had a “true” father in better guiding their lives as I would have otherwise preferred, and for the possibility of the wondering of others who may be blinded by faith in following those whose pasts aren’t so truthfully reflected in the course of the present. While it will likely be disbelieved and denied through some fitful prayer or opposed in feigned understanding for my feeble attempt at righting the false history of the past, the truth is always more enlightening. If you can discern it, it will set you free and provide a life of your own if you can recognize it, and isn’t that part of the true “Christian ethic?” I can explain it to you but I can’t comprehend it for you.
Richard M. Holbrook, long ex-member of this so-called “Church” (a cult by any other name) and retired LAPD Lieutenant, author of, “Political Sabotage: The LAPD Experience . . . . .”
I was sent this reference from the Apologetist Research site:
Founder of a fellowship of churches known as "The Walk" or "This Walk," currently operating under the name "The Living Word Fellowship." He further developed and popularized the Latter Rain teaching known Manifest Sons of God theology.
(I have italicized in red my comments to a few quotes.)
An extract from: The church’s write up or the” Pastoral Team”? But there are also other more salient and truthful views. The mostly assumptions and self-serving, edited past of the members of this so-called “Church,” would be just funny if it weren’t so sad, false and life-altering manipulative.
“Marilyn prayed often as a young child, somehow knowing in the depths of her being that Jesus Christ was in the room with her. This childhood experience was an early sign of the person she would grow into: a woman of God whose life is spent in constant prayer and intercession for God's people.” . . . that was just silly . . .
But I first met and knew Marilyn Cleland decades before she became Stevens’ second wife, and when she was sixteen and long before she became infected by the false and putrid promises of the “Living Word.” She was a high school cheerleader and later Prom Queen of her graduating class at San Fernando High School. I had been a senior there when I saw her in an empty hallway at school. After graduation, and when she attended Woodbury College in Los Angeles, she was also Orange and or Home Coming Queen. We had broken up, being geographically incompatible, but she had sent me a letter while I was stationed at Castle Air Force Base at Merced, Calif., essentially saying she didn’t care for college life and wanted, if I wanted, to get back together. I did, so the next weekend I had off, I drove back to L.A. and picked her up at the College. We were later married in a full church wedding in San Fernando.
But for all the adoration heaped upon her by nearly everyone she met, she was a very self-conscience and insecure person, but whom at times was also wild, daring and fun-loving. What it doesn’t say here in this cult biography is that by 1957 she had fallen in love and married Richard M. Holbrook, me. She was nineteen, a fun loving, open and kind person who everyone liked at first meeting and that Richard loved without thought or reserve. She had no desire to attend any church and wasn’t in any respect a religious person and didn’t want to be. But by all outward acts and appearances, she was as moral and righteous as anyone. What her behind-the-scenes secrete desires and acts were, Richard must have ignorant, as she never made it known to him until after 12 years of marriage.
She was also very sexual, but in a loving way for at least twelve of their fourteen-year marriage. Richard and Marilyn had Rick (Richard David Holbrook) in 1959 while Richard was still in the Air Force and while they were living in Homestead, Florida. Five years later Marti was planned and arrived on the scene. Marilyn was a loving, protective and caring mother and wife. For all outward observations and behavior, she loved Richard and was supportive of his job in the Los Angeles Police Department. She loved motorcycle rides, camping, movies and her favorite drink was the Side Car Cocktail. For twelve of the fourteen years they were married, it was a supportive, loving, and a normal kind of marriage without conflict or argument. But then she became enamored of religious promises and brainwashed by the false aura of Stevens’ form of making a living, a lying and pernicious man who, contrary to his outward public and churchifying image, and in spite of all the obvious, blind, supportive prayer and comments otherwise, smoked, drank and had sexual relations with a number of the wives of the men within his church. Marilyn became unfaithful in body, mind and spirit. It was if she couldn’t help it. Richard personally observed this.
As for Stevens, he tried to play at Richard’s extensive level of street knowledge of vice and corruption, but failed at it, as Stevens also knew that Richard knew the truth of Stevens’ other self. Stevens admitted to Richard that he was basically in it to make money and had learned through past failures how to win over others and grow his “flock” of “contributors.” But one of Stevens’ planned conquests was also a willing and searching Marilyn while she was still married to Richard, and another was the wife of an elder of the Valley church. Some seven of those women were called “Intercessors.” Supposedly standing between Stevens and “demons” as Marilyn and Stevens, as well as others, informed him. It was a lie of gigantic proportion, but served the searching souls of many willing to accept anything that fit their need for escape from perceived situations of true life in a not so always pleasant and accepting world.
But another elder, attorney Alton Marivold, who at that time was the supervising L.A. city attorney in the Van Nuys office, and who confided to Richard that he was in the church only for his wife’s “well-being,” saw another elder’s wife and Stevens in a motel room on Ventura Blvd. and confronted them as they sat intimately close and next to one another in Stevens’ car on a side street after leaving the motel room. Stevens tried to convince Alton that it was only a “private consultation” in the motel room. But only by chance had Richard been driving past the motel area in an undercover car while working Administrative Vice with a partner and had seen the two. After Richard had watched the woman rent the room for them and had been at the door and window of the motel room and had heard what had occurred, and in differed respect for the members of the church, he called Alton at his office. It wasn’t a church meeting by any standard or stretch of imagination. The booze she had purchased at a close liquor store and the sex revealed their intent. Also, at that time, when Marilyn was told by Richard of this clandestine motel meet, she became upset and was taken aback. What Richard didn’t know was at that time she was also likely a concubine of Stevens who was still married himself. Under some duress, Marilyn later finally admitted to Richard that she had met Stevens in another motel on Ventura Blvd. while she was supposed to be off by herself at a resort in Apply Valley to “gather her thoughts.” While they married some years after Marilyn divorced Richard, and as she often in response to long conversations about the church and their relationship, told him before the divorce, “You (Richard) don’t love God enough,” this new marriage to Stevens was a sick and lying relationship built on a foundation of those they had lied to and had hurt without either thought or remorse, and apparently all in the name of growing the “church.” And there were children involved that couldn’t then be told the truth of it. Stevens had divorced his wife in order to marry Marilyn. In this regard, he was a backstabbing liar, thief and sycophant. When Richard heard that he had died at a relatively early age, justice couldn’t have come any too soon, and he had a toast to celebrate the occasion. And rather than the glorified status that adorns the pages of this church’s literature, and if any part of the scriptures holds plausible, Stevens likely fully earned a different notice, and being so listed on a different roster, was purged unwillingly to the habitat of the Fallen Angel.
All in all, and while there are likely faithful and truly God loving and honest people involved, this “Fellowship” church and organization was built on falsehoods and ongoing immoral conduct, the kind the scriptures condemn in perpetuity, that is, if you take and follow them as written and not forgiven by some stretch of “loving” Christian edict. Cults know no limits.
It gives me no pleasure to now tell the true story, for people make their own futures, but not to do so at some point would be a lie in itself. I have long lost the bitterness and confusion foisted upon me by lying acts of others, the seed of these lasting memories. If these words cause some dissention, discontent or pain, their cause was not of my doing, but of those who laid the foundation by their misconduct, malfeasance, lies and search for some self-aggrandizement to usurp the eyes, ears and fortunes of others.
“She was born Marilyn Lee Cleland on November 17, 1938, in Pueblo, Colorado. In 1943, her family moved to the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. She had her salvation experience at a small United Brethren church in Sylmar, California, when she was twelve. Marilyn received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in a small nondenominational church in 1959. This moment changed her life completely by creating a hunger in her to see that experience continue in a constant relationship with the Lord.” This appears to be a lie of memory or convenience but also of inconsequence. After becoming involved in Stevens’ church, Marilyn also became remote to her girlhood friends who were miffed to a person, asking Richard “what happened?” She also disliked, and in effect, disowned her father, Earl Edward “Buss” Cleland, and who told Richard that she wouldn’t let him visit his grandchildren. When Marilyn became totally immersed in the church, her mother, Bessie, also couldn’t understand it and asked Richard why she had become so hard, lost and unloving. She thought that they should move to another state to get Marilyn out of the influence of such a corrupt and mindless church. But later, Bessie denied she had ever said that, and in fact became just another victim of Stevens, joining his church with Marilyn. And Bessie had by then also divorced Buss, another victim of so–called faith, of lies and deceit. But she was a fine woman that loved her children and grandchildren and likely couldn’t abide the coming separation, so joined the “cult of believers” much as an unknowing victim herself. And maybe more, her two grandkids who had no choice but to cotton to their mother’s dictates that whenever they were visited by their father they had to be “cleansed” by extra church time, so said young “Ric” to his father, asking for fewer times together . ..
“Marilyn found what she was searching for on September 29, 1963. She attended a home meeting service in the San Fernando Valley, which was an extension of Grace Chapel of South Gate, the first church founded by John Robert Stevens. Marilyn met the Lord in the worship and the Word, and knew she was finally where the Lord wanted her.” Actually, a young minister, Russell Hamer, had home meetings we attended in Sylmar that had nothing to do with Stevens, but he was killed in a late night, head-on crash by a wrong-way drunk driver on a freeway. So, she later then coldly “put aside the past of worldly things,” she said, including her family, past friends and first and only truly honest and faithful husband she would ever have or ever love without reserve; Godly or not.
“In 1963, at John Stevens' request, Marilyn began transcribing the personal ministry portions of his services. This was the beginning of the transcribing department of The Living Word.” It was also the beginning of Stevens’ quest to own her. In a different and more forgiving and forgetfully immoral world, he couldn’t be blamed for trying. She was a beautiful woman, but naïve and searching while vulnerable for a niche for her own place in life to a fault. In that regard, Richard was unable as well as unwilling to fulfill her “spiritually” false need, being more the secular humanist than not, so Marilyn tossed the relationship aside for something ethereal and of little worldly or moral value. “It was the first of many departments and functions that were created by Marilyn in her drive to preserve and distribute the Word spoken by John Robert Stevens. She did this with a vision to see the Word applied in each person's life and to create the fulfillment of what God was restoring to His Church.” It seems contrary to “The Word of God” that so much falsity and sexual misconduct was the way forward to win souls. But then so much of it is a sickness that it borders on a pathology of its own creation.
“Marilyn and John Stevens were married on October 4, 1980, in Anaheim, California. They worked closely together during their marriage, which enabled Marilyn to gain a clear insight and understanding of Stevens' vision and direction for The Living Word Fellowship.” Likely true. But also, Stevens made it clear to Richard that taking as much as you can through the gifts of others without being known for it or otherwise caught for your self-serving and sycophant goals, was the height of success. And he was still reaching for it partly through the willing help of Marilyn.
“Before Stevens' passing on June 4, 1983, he commissioned Marilyn to oversee the administration and spiritual direction of The Living Word Fellowship. Although the time surrounding Stevens' death was tumultuous for all the churches, it was largely Marilyn's (personal drive to accept herself as a productive and worthy person, but that unknowingly to her own mind, she already purely was) love, faith, and determination that kept the fellowship together and moving forward in the will of God.” But in effect and by word, Stevens “bequeathed” Marilyn to her next husband, Gary, much as a slave is passed to a surviving beneficiary. I guess that’s what is meant by the Christian edict that “women are to be subservient to men.” In fact, Marilyn had been far from that, and it appears likely that in some confusion for what to do next, just went along and sought a “spiritual leader” for her own confused benefit. Wifely “duties” might or might not follow to cement the course.
But only if the woman doesn’t have other goals in mind.
In our worldly attempts at convincing others of our righteousness, we embellish the past with thoughts of how we could have been, and what we should have done. It’s all found in the minutia of daily life. And once we have improved in manners, we care not to see ourselves as we once were. But if you are truly of great and blind faith, none of what I write here will matter. It will be tossed aside as the inconsequential ramblings of “a forgotten and unknowing man.” But so be it.
As for me, excepting for the loss and love of knowing my two children as they grew and became adults, for the lost love and companionship of their mother, a woman destroyed by change at mid-life and as if deceased and no longer the fine and moral person she had been. And in some thoughtful ambivalence, I must also thank those immoral two, Marilyn the now secret-hiding but respected “spritist,” and by any other name the anti-Christ Stevens, for my life wouldn’t have been blessed for the last forty-some years as few others can truly say. If it were not for the escape from injustice and deceit of this corrupt “fellowship,” I would likely not have reached the peace and pinnacle of success, happiness and full joy that now still greets me every morning. That is not to say that life wasn’t fulfilling and satisfying before the loss of my early family and the incursions wrought by the lies and faithlessness of “the church.”
So, deride me if you must, as I am not perfect, nor wish to be. Pray for me in your ignorance, and under your breath call me names for the truth I’ve written, condemn me for what you might call my ignorance, but search your best inclinations and personal ambitions and motives, you might find a salvation of a different sort. If I know anything, it’s that we are humans who desire to be more than we are, and search throughout our existence for justification for the space and thoughts we might fill in others’ lives, and for the legacy we might leave for posterity. . . . my epitaph is yet to be fully written . . .