Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: June 21, 2020 11:06PM

Posts from 'Richard M.' and 'fromsouthChicago':

Posted by: Richard M.
Date: February 19, 2019 05:33PM

Reepicheep, thanks. I knew Stevens was a phony when I first saw and met him. He wouldn't look at me eye-to-eye and seemed even a little frightened of me. Of course, it later made more sense. But if there hadn't been Marilyn and my kids tied to her, he never would have survived to stand at another sermon . . . But I had my own future and two kids’ lives to consider so abdicated to a lesser course. Absent any formal complaint of coerced sexual or other criminal misconduct, "religious freedom" protects the otherwise guilty until far too late .. . . . You know of Jim Jones and his murder-suicide of his followers, but hardly anyone knows that long before that he had been arrested in a movie theater for lewd conduct by a Rampart Division vice officer. It had been politically attempted to be covered up by a judge and other officials by destroying or pulling all documents, but the arresting officer had kept his own copy of the arrest report. It was made public again after the murders. I know, I forwarded a copy of the only surviving document to the Chief of Police. I say this because it’s also possible that credible and formal complaints of coercion and sexual abuse of minors had long been made on Stevens and Rick that were, or were not, properly investigated . . . who knows?

Posted by: fromsouthchicago
Date: October 25, 2018 09:46AM

The details in your description of the early relationship between JRS and Cousin Marilyn is completely consistent with the stories I heard from my family members. The one thing I didn't know about was the wig. That's a new one for me. Thank you for the information. This adds a layer of “richness" to the family stories.

Allow me to add something from the family lore ... my mother told me that JRS was at one time planning on having two wives, his current wife and Marilyn. I'm not sure how he planned on working that out ... if that story is true. However, if the story is true, the JRS discovered that proposed living situation wasn't going to work out. Anyone, please chime-in if you have any information regarding this.

I would like to address your last comment. I’m not sure this has been true for everyone in my extended family, but I know that for those in my immediate family and for me Marilyn, CLW and TLWF was a side show, something akin to a traveling carnival. I didn’t take anything that Marilyn said or did seriously. To me Marilyn as a con-artist and a fraud as well as a textbook example of a sociopath. So I knowing what she was and I didn't want anything to do with her or the CLW.

Carnivals and side shows may take your money, but they're transient and the harm that they do is short lived. They don't take people's lives away from them ... for years and in some cases, decades. As someone who's related to two of the people who have done so much harm, I really don't know what to say. But I shall look for opportunities to do what I can to help.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: June 23, 2020 10:26PM

A few most more posts by 'fromsouthchicago' (Oct-Nov 2018):

Posted by: fromsouthchicago
Date: November 01, 2018 02:24AM

Re: Larry Bobo's post,

If you examine cults and cult leaders, you'll often times notice that cult leaders have a tendency to co-mingle their personal and organizational funds. In other words ... they're not all that careful and concerned about the law and the IRS when it comes to them using church property and money for personal gain.

I suspect that TLWF is the same when it comes to this. In fact family stories suggest that Marilyn was constantly self-dealing when it came to TLWF funds and property. I was told that you all were paying and paying for her life of luxury and ability to do as she pleased.

Posted by: fromsouthchicago
Date: October 19, 2018 09:00PM

My vague recollection is that Marilyn had been bouncing around several churches in the area until she found Brother Stevens. I have no idea of what made her stay. I do know that pretty soon, Marilyn was "promoted" to become a prophetess. (I suspect the promotion was due in no small part to Marilyn's looks and Steven's interest getting to know her a lot better.) That's the description of Marilyn's position in the Church I heard from both Bessie and my Mother. And all indications were that Marilyn was rising quickly as someone with power and authority in the Church.

It seemed from the point where Marilyn had been proclaimed a prophetess, things for her really took off. It had to have been around that time that Marilyn left and then divorced her husband. And not long after, Bessie became part of the Church with her and her husband, Buss, splitting up,

I remember a story that Buss told about being at a church service. Bessie had been become involved with the church and requested that he attend. So he did. And I don't know that Buss attended many times or just this one time. During the service, I believe that he was asked to stand. He said that Brother Stevens stepped over to him and placed his hand over Buss' head. Brother Steven's then stated that Buss was possessed by the devil or demon, or that he was demonic. I'm not completely clear on the specifics. Whatever it was it wasn't something that could be fixed ... say by an exorcism. I do remember just how angry he was about the entire experience. And I know that not long after Buss told that story, he and Bessie split up and divorced.

I suspect that there's someone who's part of this forum who witnessed this incident with Buss. Or something similar because apparently a similar incident happened with Marilyn's first husband where Brother Stevens made pronouncements about him that labeled him as evil. If anyone witnessed anything like this, please tell us what you experienced.

Another thing before I forget it, my Mother told me that at some point that Steven's was planning to make Marilyn his second wife. Not divorce his first wife but to have two wives, in other words polygamy. Does that ring any bells with anyone?

My parents were the first of members of any of the families to go to Southern California. Marilyn and her family members came after but I have no idea when members of the Cleland family arrived from Pueblo. My guess would be the time when Marilyn was 10 to 12 years old. But that is a guess.

I know that Bessie handed over everything, I mean everything she owned to the Church. I suspect that she wasn't the only one who did that. My understanding was that what Bessie gave in turn provided Bessie with a room at Blix House. I also remember hearing her talk about "making tapes" of ... whatever JRS and Marilyn were saying to I believe to copy and sell tapes of presentations, sermons ...? Anyone else involved with that?

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Reepicheep ()
Date: June 23, 2020 11:09PM

These posts from Richard M., Marilyn Hargrave's first husband, and her cousin, fromsouthchicago, are very triggering. As a young teen in the Valley church, I had no idea about JRS' philandering. I now believe that he had affairs with Marilyn and many others. I thought he was an old man, and took his words at face value. My first experience with his inappropriate attention was a slap on the butt in the presence of many adults (who said nothing). It was the first among many embarrassments. That was the thing with him. He made me feel very uncomfortable, but somehow I always felt confused, like I did something wrong. He was the person behaving inappropriately. He should have felt humiliated for behaving like that around women and girls.

As far as the story of JRS wanting two wives, I can believe it. He probably wanted as many as he could get away with. In Woodrow Nichol's research on JRS and The Walk, he spoke of JRS believing in the concept of having a "spiritual wife". I believe that is what led to the "split of 1967" in CLW. I now realize what a truly horrible person JRS was. It took years to come to this realization. It seems that Marilyn was ingratiating herself into a leadership position way back in the 1960s. And then Gary came along, the ultimate spiritual social climber. They were perfect for each other. I hope that people still following him wake up in time to salvage something of their lives before he takes even more from them.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: kBOY ()
Date: June 24, 2020 02:24AM

One has to be both impressed and depressed at the efficacy of a con that lasted almost 70 years (The Walk: 1951-1983/TLW: 1983-2018).  JRS probably fine-tuned his M/O during the years he was repeatedly shown the door with his previous associations.  G&M were already well-schooled in what did and did not work by the time they took over the helm.

Man's propensity towards hero-worship will probably not be rectified anytime soon.  Our current political climate is evidence of that.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Reepicheep ()
Date: June 24, 2020 03:48AM

I also remember the first church summer camp I went to. In the afternoons, kids were swimming in the pool. Brother Stevens was chasing girls around and throwing them in the pool. He was growling and trying to scare these teenagers in bikinis. It seemed very strange to me, and I stayed away.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: June 24, 2020 10:28PM

Reep wrote:
I also remember the first church summer camp I went to. In the afternoons, kids were swimming in the pool. Brother Stevens was chasing girls around and throwing them in the pool. He was growling and trying to scare these teenagers in bikinis.

"Girls Turn it Off!!"

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: June 25, 2020 04:39AM

Post by reveal from September of 2018:

Posted by: reveal
Date: September 06, 2018 06:37AM

I love what everyone has been posting lately. I feel like so many of us have been holding our tongues for a very long time and we have somehow collectively realized that the time has come to SPEAK UP! Someone mentioned recently the concept of "doing your own thing" and do I ever relate to that. I was certainly labeled as such on many occasions. Oddly, when I look back at the times when I wasn't super involved in the church and wasn't submitting to any shepherds (tsk tsk) those were the times when I was actually functioning the best in my life. Sure I had ups and downs and heartaches, regular life stuff...but it wasn't this intense psychological war zone like it was for me when I became involved and submitted to TLWF leadership. To be honest, the only reason I did give myself to submit in the first place was because I was made to feel so "less than", so unloved, so marginalized by the people that were supposed to be my family because I wasn't. I came to the conclusion that well, this is what I had to do to be accepted so I had better get on board. And thus began the worst years of my life. No joke.

I spoke recently with an old friend of mine who was never in the church, and when I was finally honest with her about how I had been raised in this bizarre cult, she felt free to be honest with me. She said that once when she and her boyfriend came to a church sponsored function on my invitation, on their way home she said to him, "I think she is in a cult!" We had a good LOL over that, but it also saddened me. She could see it so clearly, but I was completely blind. How could I not be? We were completely immersed, discouraged from relating to the outside world in any real way, made to fear it even. The truth is that the friends I have made outside the church over the years have oftentimes proven to be far deeper and more genuine than those I had in the church. It made me realize how shallow so many of my church relationships really were. We were fed lines about being family, and told that the relationships are born out of the work, and so we labored together and built Rick three bars to get drunk at church, and five-star facilities for the pleasure of a relatively small group of elite, and made Gary & Marilyn's meals, cleaned their house (while they had two assistants on staff) and any other number of endless projects that were put before us. Not one of which involved helping ANYONE in the community, no encouragement to get out there and help the underprivileged or be socially conscious. I realized one day that, for the most part, all of these people I had worshiped with and labored with for so many years didn't even really know me, nor I them. We weren't given the time! We were too busy laboring for Jesus! This became all the more evident when we left the church, because NO ONE has even asked us why they haven't seen or heard from us. Family my ass.

On another current topic of conversation, I am sickened hearing about this plan to implement a team of overseeing ministries that will allegedly have "one equal voice" but still includes mean-spirited, power-drunk individuals and is still meant to be at the top of the divine order chain. It is still being preached that submission and divine order are necessary, but oh, "there is no hierarchy". I call bullshit. I am so sick of having divine order shoved down my throat. And why does it always have to mean some pyramidal idea of order? They could easily restructure it to be circular, level, equal. More of an organized way of doing things rather than a chain of command that does not allow the "little people" to have a voice. And for God's sake, let people make their own fucking life decisions! Teach people to navigate their own way in life and cultivate intuition and good decision-making skills. Stop dictating to them and telling them that YOU know God's will for their lives. Why does this demand for total involvement and total renunciation of your will to another HUMAN BEING continue to be a theme?

Also, even if Rick & Lorena Holbrook are permanently ousted, every single one of the people mentioned for that leadership team (Phyllis & Craig, Silas & Shuma, Steve & Becky, etc.) are guilty of treating sheep at a minimum unjustly, but mostly cruelly. The hierarchy will continue, because that is the culture that Gary & Marilyn created when they continued to allow themselves to be put on a pedestal, worshipped essentially as gods, and waited on hand and foot. Their leaders are only emulating them! This culture will not change. Get out while you can still salvage a good portion of your life. I agree with everyone else that has said life on the outside is BRILLIANT! The trials and tribulations that the Walk labels "battle" are really just the fruit of what they are sowing. You sow shit, you eat shit. Plain and simple. Over here on the other side, there is freedom and peace, genuine relationships and LOVE that does not require you to be anything but YOU. And also does not require you to clean their toilet. (snark)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/2020 04:40AM by changedagain.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: June 28, 2020 04:40AM

A few posts from last year:

Posted by: 40yearsin2016
Date: November 08, 2019 03:04PM

It took me decades to speak the word "cult" out loud. I was walked out of LWF in 1984-5 (cannot remember exactly, those years were so traumatic). I didn't speak the word "cult" out loud until 2016, believe it or not that was when I finally felt like I was leaving my cage.

So many have different life experiences having left the cult. One friend told me she spent a decade in therapy and still suffers PTSD at the mention of the name of the church, all these decades later. Another told me recently that there were "no regrets" for time in LWF - even though a sibling is still stuck there and they no longer speak.

Me, I have regrets, but I don't regret speaking out. I don't regret speaking the word "cult" out loud for all to hear.

Posted by: Reepicheep
Date: February 01, 2019 07:46PM

puddington Wrote:
> Mental health professionals will tell you there is
> an inner self that is deep and private. A normal
> person keeps this place secret and private. It is
> very unhealthy to expose this place to another
> human.

> But the Living Word demands that you open it up
> and give it all. You are expected to tell your
> “designated relationship” everything. Including
> these secret places. This is very harmful IMO.

This just clicked for me. Boundaries. We learned not to have them. We were taught to "spill our guts" in a very inappropriate way meant to control us. Once when I was living with a family who was "shepherding" me through a very rough time, I was keeping a journal of my thoughts. Just for me. When the man of the house counseled me, he once repeated back a very specific phrase that I had written and I knew that my privacy had been invaded. I was a grown woman and they found my journal and read it so that they could "help" me. Such a violation.

Posted by: that little red flag
Date: February 27, 2019 11:21PM

Dave and I had many times that someone tried to pull us into the leadership or some kind of “it” group. We just couldn’t buy into the requirement of laying aside what we had been taught about right and wrong for the supposed greater purpose. I was “put over” one of the first girls house that I lived in in the early 70’s. I came home early one weekend from the feast to find one of the roommates in bed with her boyfriend and was directed to tell her she would have to move out. I felt the burden of being her judge and jury for years and always regretted the way I treated her at that time. I knew then I was not cut out to be one of those “put in authority”. I hated the cavalier way the sheep were discussed during shepherds meetings. It takes a lot to walk away from power and choose love over position. It’s unfortunate that the tlw culture promoted and required a blind faith from the leadership. JRS, Marilyn, Gary -demanded a people that would look the other way or be ok assisting in tasks without the whole story, or with hidden agendas. I’m not sure how to think about all of it. They were duped, but still hold some accountability.

Posted by: changedagain
Date: February 28, 2019 11:13AM

After Jeff P. left the South Gate church in the early 90's, my wife and I were asked by Statton to help fill in the void he left with the young adults in the church. I recall at one point Scott McDonald coming to the church, and relaying a message to me that God 'meant business' with the younger generation. Apparently a teen in TLWF was hit by a train and died...and somehow (it was insinuated) it was the result of the teen not being obedient. It made no sense to me. Anyway, he wanted me to convey to our group that God wasn't messing around, using this story to make the point. I ignored it.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Reepicheep ()
Date: June 29, 2020 10:03PM

Putting these posts together in this way creates a strong impact and tells a story. Thanks for doing this, changedagain.


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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: June 30, 2020 12:26AM

Yes, top leaders considered the people their property, and saw no need for 'boundaries.' Making cavalier comments about accepting 'collateral damage' (i.e. ruined lives) while bringing forth 'the Kingdom,' reflected this attitude.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2020 12:29AM by changedagain.

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