Comments from Readers December 2004, Bob Franzese, an AK from Omaha: "I would like to commend Gretchen W. on her well thought-out and extremely well written article about the Assembly in Omaha and the major issues that surrounded it. It was flat-out spot-on accurate. I am sure it took a lot of courage to write … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Readers’ Comments
We now know the Assembly is a cult Wellspring Retreat has characterized the Geftakys Assembly as a T.A.C.O. -- a Totalist Aberrant Christian Organization. Refer to the article "Identifiying a Cult" for a good summary of cult characteristics. The Omaha Assembly was led almost exclusively by Mike Zach. He still holds a strong influence over … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Conclusion
"The group's totalist environment emphasizes that the members are part of an elite or special group. Outsiders are considered unworthy or unenlightened. This leads to the thinking that their whole existence centers on being in the group. If you leave, you join nothingness. This is an extension of doctrine over person. Existence comes to depend … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Part 9
"As members rewrite their own personal history or ignore it, they are simultaneously taught to interpret reality through the group concepts and ignore their own experiences and feelings as they occur. Members learn to fit themselves into the group's way of life and individuals are valued only as they conform to group doctrine." My counselor … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Part 8
"The group's language serves the purpose of constructing their thinking and shutting down critical thinking abilities. "Groupspeak" forces members to censor, edit and slow down spontaneous bursts of criticism or opposite ideas. Soon members find it easier to talk among themselves than with outsiders, who are given derogatory names such as "of Satan," "unconverted," etc." … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Part 7
"The teachings of the group are viewed as the ultimate, unquestionable truth. The leader of the group is likewise above criticism as the spokesperson for God on earth, whose Truth should be applied to all humankind. Anyone who disagrees or has alternative ideas is not only irreverent, but also unscientific. Mystical manipulation often lends credence … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Part 6
"Past and present behavior, and undesirable feelings are to be confessed. However, the information gained about you can be used against you to make you feel more guilty, powerless, fearful and ultimately in need of the group and the leader's goodness. This environment is set up by the unreasonable demand for purity." There was a … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Part 5
Demand for Purity "Unreasonable rules and unreachable standards are imposed upon the members. The critical, shaming essence of the cult environment is gradually internalized by the members, which builds lots of guilt and shame, further magnifying their dependence on the group. Individuals easily feel inadequate, but are more willing to submit to this because the … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Part 4
Mystical Manipulation "The group attributes supernatural influences where none are present: attributing an accident to a member who left to be due to "God's punishment", or manipulating situations so they appear spontaneous. Members believe that their new feelings and behavior have arisen spontaneously because of joining their new group. The effect is enhanced by the … Continue reading Gretchen’s Story – Part 3
A narcissistic leader shapes the character of the group....
Nancy would spend hours with me on the phone, teaching me the "right way to think".
My name is Gretchen W. This is my story. It was originally posted in 2005 on the High-Demand Church site.
George Geftakys slipped into a coma on August 11, 2014, and died at 6:15 p.m. He was buried in a private service at the Riverside National Cemetery. Your reflections prompted by this event are welcome here, on the website, and on the Facebook groups, "George & Betty Geftakys - Geftakys Assembly", and "The Geftakys Assembly". Elizabeth Esther Geftakys … Continue reading George Geftakys has died…
Sandy Blank went through the big doctrinal changes in the Worldwide Church of God, became thoroughly disillusioned, and walked out. After having a powerful conversion experience she went back to Worldwide (now Grace Communion International) to try to make a difference, but left again after 10 years. In “My Theological House” she describes her experience … Continue reading My Theological House
Here is the message of God's love in paraphrased words from scripture in a six minute video. Be blessed! Or maybe not. If you've experienced spiritual abuse, you might be thinking, "But what does that mean?? God let me get really hurt - how is that 'love'?" God has many reasons for the things he … Continue reading God’s love letter….
"How can I know what God wants me to do?" Ask this question, and often the answer you'll get is, "You need to hear from God, see his hand in circumstances, then expect confirmation." Missionaries recount marvelous examples of this. Bakht Singh, a famous indigenous church planter in India, used to tell how he was … Continue reading “What is God’s Will?….”
In all the discussion about child-rearing methods, one aspect that hasn't received much attention is how the issue relates to children's conversion. In an Assembly-type group there's the assumption that the parents' "child training" is the underpinning of a child's salvation. It's up to you to discipline your children into the Kingdom. The problem is … Continue reading Childhood conversion….
I was talking with someone who visited the Assembly once in 1992 with her husband and children. Once, mind you. And that was a long time ago. "We never came back," she said, "because I just couldn't make the commitment to raise my children that way. It was too hard." After that, she felt for years like … Continue reading Does discipline really produce godly character…?
Just finished reading The Happy Room by Catherine Palmer, a fictionalized account of growing up as a missionary kid in Africa. Very interesting parallels with the Assembly. Children of missionaries are now termed "third culture kids". I think many Assembly kids fit that category. Some AK's were allowed a certain level of cultural participation. They … Continue reading “The Happy Room”
A Christian cult uses the term "spiritual power" to motivate people to have daily devotions, and manipulate them into wanting to become "power centers of divine authority" over others in the hierarchical system.