Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: fromsouthchicago ()
Date: October 20, 2018 12:00PM

Onion Wrote:
> Hi FSChicago - This is just my opinion but I think
> everyone's interest in actual relatives of Marilyn
> is because everything about her has always been
> secret. If you look at the bios on church
> websites very little is stated about Marilyn's
> history before she became the church Marilyn. I
> was around her a lot both before and after she
> married JRS and then GH and I never heard much
> about her life growing up - she was completely
> silent on the subject. I know from Bessie they
> lived in Sylmar and Bessie was a checker at Phil's
> Market (where my mom always shopped) so we had
> probably met at some point but other than that -
> nothing, zip. There were home movies and pics of
> Marilyn shown at Bessie's funeral and that was the
> most "information" anyone ever got. I met Charles
> and his family because I think we had them over to
> dinner at Blix once but in all the years - that
> was it.

First, I'm glad you were able to meet Charles and Fahim ... along with Narci and David? For those who do not know, Fahim is from Iran. She was raised Shia Muslim. In order to marry Fahim, Charles was required to convert to Shia Islam. (By the way I have no idea what that involves.) However, neither one of them is religious at all. At the very least they're agnostic. They are wonderful people.

Second, Marilyn's father, my uncle was Earl (Buss ... I always called him Uncle Buss) Cleland. He was at one time a very handsome man. He was always considered to be a "man about town" or a "ladies man" even when he was married to Bessie. When I knew him he was working for Rocketdyne (part of North American Aviation at the time), working as part of the development of the F1 engine that formed the first stage of the Saturn V moon rocket. (At least that's my recollection. I know he witnessed a number of test firings of the engine. I think he witnessed a test firing when one of the engines blew up.) He was fun to be around. He was always good to me.

I know that the early years of Bessie's and Buss' marriage were a bit rocky. I never got all the details, but when I knew them they seemed to have settled into a seemly comfortable relationship. That is, until Marilyn got Bessie involved with TLWF. That's when their marriage completely fell apart.

Third, I didn't become conscious of Marilyn's existence until after she was married to Richard Holbrook who was an LA County Sheriff's deputy. My first recollection of Marilyn was related to Marti's birth. I was a young child myself when she was born. I think someone told me that Marilyn was a high school homecoming queen or at least part of the homecoming court. Don't pin me down on that one. That memory isn't all that clear on that point.

Fourth, Marilyn's and then Bessie's involvement with TLWF or as I remember it, The Church of the Living Word. 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 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.

Fifth, 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?

Sixth, 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.

Seventh, 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?

One last thing, Buss was an avid 8mm movie buff. I remember him often using his movie camera. So, there should be reels and reels of film of Marilyn and Charles growing up. I would imagine Charles would be the one who has those reels of film.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: TheJewel ()
Date: October 21, 2018 12:01AM

> My understanding is the walk churches do the
> Jewish festivals and feasts because those are the
> ones Jesus did when he was here. JRS frowned on
> Christmas and Easter and had published a booklet
> about the various holiday icons that he equated
> with the golden calf. It's odd isn't it that
> everyone in the church helps Rick put on a
> Christmas Caroling truck several times around
> Christmas time. That of course did not start until
> after JRS died.
> No the walk churches don't follow the other rules
> of Judaism such as for burial.

JRS (and others, RD Cronquist, etc.) believed that the Jewish Festivities were more directly related to events in the life of Christ and the early church than the traditional “Christian” celebrations. In many cases these were designed to align in time with historical non-Christian festivals (Christmas being the major one, aligning with The Saturnalia festival). At the same time, many of us celebrated XMAS just like we always had with a tree etc. FWIW: TLW isn’t the only group that does this.

There was (probably still is) a book called “Babylon Mystery Religion” that I remember being recommended reading at the time that explained the origin of many of the traditional Christian practices.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/21/2018 12:03AM by TheJewel.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Onion ()
Date: October 21, 2018 01:42AM

Since Gary has announced he wants people to write letters so he can make his "new 360" evaluation, I decided to send him a letter. I don't have any illusions that he will do anything with this information but I at least wanted to take away his ability to say he had never heard of any of this stuff, as he lied about recently.

October 14, 2018
(Spelling & Grammar Corrections 10-17-18)

Sent by U.S. Mail to:
Gary Hargrave c/o Amy Sayer
Gary Hargrave c/o The Living Word

Sent by Email to:

Dear Gary,

Over the past two years I have been advised by many people who are no longer part of the TLW fellowship, by others who may continue to be part of the church but who are struggling, and from those they may still be in contact with, that there are several issues that undermine any trust people may have of TLWF leadership and ApCo. There are many sticking points that could hinder the future success of the churches if not addressed and repaired.

1. Rick Holbrook: According to information from many former and current TLWF members, Rick has established himself in everyone’s minds as a sexual predator. There are many victims of inappropriate sexual conduct perpetrated by Rick in various church locations and at his home. In his “work with young people” he tends to take advantage of young women, and in some cases young men. His conduct is often defined as “grooming” young girls and women using tactics such as bombarding his subject with flattery, gifts, promises of them becoming “family,” emphasizing how special they are and how great their life would be if they would be with Rick. He ramps up his seduction attempts based on his representations to these women and girls that as JRS’ true son, it is the will of God for these women and girls to have sex with him, and that JRS would want them to be with Rick. He apparently tells women that the way they can bring in the kingdom is by being in a sexually intimate relationship with him. Some women have resisted after being lied to, pursued intensely with gifts and alcohol, and in many instances, overt sexual touching of breasts and genitals. Rick has even physically picked up women in his arms and carried her. Those who firmly and completely deny him, suffer consequences such as shunning, having their reputations tarnished and they are called sluts and other demeaning names behind the scenes. Sadly some of these women/girls have said that it was hard to discover they weren’t special after all when the truth is they were always special and Rick was preying on them.

On many different occasions, Rick hosts “young people” at his house for a Jacuzzi party and shares pornographic material and discusses sexual content and asks sexually graphic questions to the group, some of whom are underage.

Many of these women have communicated with various shepherds, including those in leadership in Shiloh, TLW, and CLW and including you and Marilyn. Each communication has resulted in no action. In some cases, after communication the women were overtly shunned and shamed. In other cases the women were asked to never speak of it again and to not keep a record of their communication.

2. School Employees & Ministers Education in Reporting Abuse: Many people have reported that instances of abuse, underage drinking (with the alcohol furnished by teachers, administrators and ministries), assaults or evident abuse, have occurred and none of those who are required by law to report such abuse have done so. Several former teachers have related that while in public school, and many private schools, a detailed training class in mandatory reporting laws is given so all teachers and school employees learn to recognize the signs of abuse and how their suspicions must be reported. Nothing like that occurs in TLWF schools or churches. Girls have made reports only to be told they are overreacting.

3. Parenting Interruption: Many people bear emotional scars because of a pattern of separating parents and children because someone in authority in the school or the church places themselves in a position of “knowing better” how a child should be raised. Parents have sometimes been belittled, treated in a dismissive manner, or spoken about in a negative way to the child. Many adults who suffered under this type of behavior are still struggling with negative conditioning from the experience. Likewise, parents still suffer with guilt over allowing someone to usurp their parental role and allowing their children to be used in this way.

4. Lack of Financial Honesty or Transparency: People who have given their lives and their time and money to TLWF and “Kingdom Businesses” have nothing to show for their hard work and dedication. Many were supporting a vision presented by TLWF leaders that is either no longer focused on or represents an ideal that just lingers in the realm of unfulfilled dreams. Seeing money received from the sacrifice of the people making certain leaders’ lives very cushy while some of the congregants live from pay check to pay check is deeply hurtful. In addition, the enormity of funds (including funds saved by using volunteer labor for personal projects) used on projects like the party house on Rayen with its elegant horse facility, the various bars (multiple bars) set up in locations throughout the churches, personal home maintenance and remodeling, the Christmas truck and its grueling schedule of work, etc., is beginning to take a serious toll on the emotions and trust of many current congregants. The toll especially shows in those who couldn’t take it anymore and left. Volunteers are employees and yet have no benefit of their employment by TLWF except maybe an occasional shout out from the pulpit, as if that moment of attention will make up for weeks, months, years of labor.

5. Attitudes & Lack of Training in Shepherds: A refrain that is exactly the same from each and every individual who has spoken concerning their past or current experience as a member of TLWF is the harsh treatment of being casually dealt with by the leadership and those called shepherds. Recrimination for behavior that was previously praised is frequent. There is no follow up with the persons disciplined and if the person departs the fellowship, no one bothers to call to find out how the person is doing. A large number of these people were giving, dedicated members for as many as 40 years, or their entire lives. The dismissal of shepherds who disappear without the congregants understanding ANYthing is frequent. Some people have called this a pattern of getting rid of the people who know too much about Rick, financial improprieties, and other wrongdoings. That’s the way it appears to people who see it happen but are never told the truth.

6. Confidentiality. People generally do not feel that their privacy is respected or protected in any situation where they pour out their hearts to TLWF leadership. Some people were made aware that Rick has wired CLW for sound and for visual surveillance or recording so that he or others can record, listen to, or watch any meetings in any location at CLW, TLW, Shiloh and many other places.

I hope this is helpful to you in your review of church policies and procedures. Whether each fact stated is true is not for me to say. Independent investigation and transparency would be a solution.

If you wish to speak directly to any of the people I am quoting, some of them would be willing to participate in a meeting with you and others. Just let me know via email at: m-wyatt@ and I will do my best to coordinate this for you.


(Originals with signature will be sent to the USPS locations noted above.)

Mary L. Wyatt

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: been_there2 ()
Date: October 22, 2018 12:16AM

I believe it was Charles Beach

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Onion ()
Date: October 22, 2018 02:07AM

Beenthere2 - What was Charles Beach?

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: October 22, 2018 02:19AM

I am honestly flabbergasted that people had to pay money to attend MH funeral. And I would REALLY like to know what that money was used for. It was a total shit show, and to not only have to pay expenses for travel, food, etc but then have to pay admission just to have someone put your name on a list, is utterly shameful. I am embarrassed to ever say I was a member of this "church".

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: October 22, 2018 02:20AM

I am SERIOUSLY flabbergasted that people had to pay money to attend MH funeral. And I would REALLY like to know what that money was used for. It was a total shit show, and to not only have to pay expenses for travel, food, etc but then have to pay admission just to have someone put your name on a list, is utterly shameful. I am embarrassed to ever say I was a member of this "church".

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: October 22, 2018 02:40AM

The Hargraves mastered the art of cold-blooded tackiness. The $40 fee to attend the funeral is disgusting, but not surprising. The fact that they enriched themselves on the back of the people for so many years is what makes it so disgraceful (IMO).

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: larry bobo ()
Date: October 22, 2018 03:18AM

Onion – Thank you for articulating so well several issues that have deeply wounded members of TLWF. Thank you also for making your letter public so that those in and out of TLWF will be able to witness Gary’s response to what you have written. I’m hoping that it will bear fruit. I’m sure Gary will at least read it. I sent a similar letter on January 9, 1994 listing 7 areas of concern – all different from yours (e.g. the kingdom dawning in 1979, John bringing down Satan with his death from cancer, and the isolation of TLWF from other Christian groups – FYI, 24 years later I still question all 7 areas). Their response was to remove me from all ministry and not allow me to speak in services (including prayer and prophesy) for the next year until I learned not to question the leadership. I had simply responded after being encouraged to speak up if we had areas of concern – similar to what people are being encouraged to do now. Hopefully you will have more leverage by communicating from outside TLWF and the manipulation of the leadership.

I’m also grateful for some of the things you have confirmed that many have suspected. Since all of us are human, we have a pretty good idea of what humans are capable of doing. However, it may be a little shocking for some to find out that “Christ in the flesh” has been doing the very things that they have told us not to do. They are only as much “Christ in the flesh” as they have conned us into believing – not as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Also, they only have as much control over our lives as we choose to give them. Part of our journey to freedom is making the decision to give them nothing and accepting responsibility for our own lives.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Onion ()
Date: October 22, 2018 09:00AM

This morning Gary announced from the pulpit: Rick and Lorena are no longer part of this fellowship in any capacity.

That was related to me as a verbatim statement by someone who was at the service and who is a very reliable source.

If anyone learns of any other details concerning this announcement, I would love to hear it.

There has been speculation that Rick and Gary were fighting over control after Marilyn's death. There is also speculation as to what this will mean in the many, many areas Rick's tentacles reached into. A lot of people have said they hope:

The Christmas truck is finally over.

The offering money will no longer be siphoned off for Rick's fun and games.

That people will be heard and respected at last.

And many other things.

One thing I also heard that I find disturbing is that the leadership is praying about sending Scott and Jeane McDonald to Grants Pass. The ministries who allowed, encouraged, and participated in Rick's behavior, especially in financial dealings and sexual assaults, need to be disciplined as well. And NOT just sent to another church. Scott was in the presence of some of Rick's assaults on women and actually spoke to women about what they missed out on if they said no to Rick. I was not a percipient witness to this behavior but I have been told about it from two unrelated sources. NOT OKAY. Jeane is a wonderful person and I don't want to see her hurt by all this but I believe that Scott needs to take responsibility for his involvement with Rick's horrible and sometimes (imho) criminal conduct.

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