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
"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
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…
"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?….”
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.
Saturday I posted my question to Dr. Jones regarding her book, Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches. Here is Dr. Jones' reply: Margaret Irons asked me, “What can persons who have formerly been abusive do now to make amends and help their former victims (with whom they are no longer in … Continue reading Dr. Jones’ answer….
The Internet Monk describes pretty well the prevailing concern of legalistic pastors over the dangers of 'cheap grace' (here, here and here). Betty G. once said to me, "If there weren't the possibility of losing out on the inheritance, what would be the motivation for sanctification?" This was a rhetorical question - the obvious answer … Continue reading “We shall see Him as He is!”
After five years of post-Assembly recovery, it seems that quite a few former Assembly members have regained some sense of stability in their lives and the beginnings of restored faith. But the parents among them may still be watching their children struggle with life. Many of us who left long ago - maybe even most … Continue reading Our children….
This morning I ran across something I had written a year ago about recognizing God's presence in daily life: I was reading through the really great encouragements in the "Light from the Word" section of the GA.com website this morning. It struck me repeatedly that a part of me was responding, "These thoughts made more sense to me … Continue reading The fellowship of the Holy Spirit: Prequel….
Time Magazine today has an article on "6 Ways to Handle Stress". We...have a lot of misconceptions about who gets stressed out and why. Twenty years ago, psychologists almost exclusively blamed job stress on high workloads or lack of control on the job. More recent studies, says Christina Maslach, a pioneer in burnout research at … Continue reading So this is what stressed us out…