Note: contributor articles reflect the opinions of their authors.
We have a few new items, which I should have noted earlier:
In thinking about the last 30 years of this movement (the "Boston Church of Christ," "Boston Movement," or even "Boston", the "International Churches of Christ," and their relatively recent spin-off, the "International Christian Church"), which started June 1st, 1979, I decided to write an article as a summation of a lot of their history and practices, and organizing some of the research that's been done on this movement. I also mention what is currently going on. See here for: Chris Lee's article, "Thirty Years of the Boston Church of Christ" (in PDF format, requires Adobe Acrobat), or the article in Microsoft Word.
More than a year ago, Kip McKean penned his "Portland Story," detailing from his point of view the planting of the Portland Church of Christ, and then his own life events from 2001, including his withdrawal of leadership as the Leader of World Sector Leaders through the time of the Henry Kriete Letter and his acceptance of the leadership within the Portland Church of Christ. While I deplore some of the rhetoric used to minimize his sins and the assault on Henry Kriete's character and actions, I worry more about fourth and fifth last paragraphs, wherein McKean intends to repeat the process of "church reconstructions." To be clear: McKean intends to find a certain group of "sold-out disciples" even within the existing International Churches of Christ, who will be loyal to Portland's vision, and together, between Portland and these sold-out disciples, they will construct (or re-construct) a new church or movement.
This is a landmark point within the history of the International Churches of Christ, as David Anderson of RightCyberUp notes, that a split appears to be inevitable. Reacting to this and Kip's "Revolution through Restoration III" (July 13th, 2003), a number of core churches within the International Churches of Christ, represented by their leaders, wrote several letters to McKean. It appears that they made the observation that Kip has not truly repented of his sins, for instance, of performance-orientation, anger, pride, divisiveness. Less than a month later, an even larger number of leaders attempted to publicly mark McKean, calling him to repentance of his divisiveness, building his own fiefdom, and revisionist history. (I highly encourage those reading this article to read David Anderson's article above, and also to follow the links in David's article to look at the "Marking Letter by 84 church leaders" of Nov. 2nd, 2005, as well as the "The Brothers' Confrontation Letter" of Oct. 3rd, 2005.) Yet, a number of churches have aligned themselves with Portland, some of which are small congregations which split off from the International Churches of Christ. Kip has intended the new movement to be called either "The International Christian Church" or "The International Disciples of Christ" or something to that effect. Portland responded by defending their methods.
In the intervening time, what has occurred? Well, at this point in time, numerous churches are being split over the issue of Kip and Kip's/Portland's vision. Kip has been seeking those who would be loyal to his cause and believing in his vision to come out of the International Churches of Christ. Cities that have been affected include, but are not limited to (at this point, Oct. 18th, 2006):
The website www.kipmckean.com has a list of the churches that stand with Portland, and that stand against Kip McKean/Portland: http://www.kipmckean.com/churches.htm
This website has also documented the timeline in the last year: http://www.kipmckean.com/timeline.htm
Kip has at this time announced a split off the International Churches of Christ, according to this article. This weekend, Kip will be speaking in Los Angeles (CA) to attempt to garner support.
First, what can be said of Kip? Unfortunately, it seems that this man has not learned from his past failures and sins. Kip believes that 1) a church must be composed only of sold out disciples -- unfortunately, if we look at most of the epistles and Acts 4 onward, we can only conclude that the church has been composed of redeemed sinners, men and women who desperately need the grace of God, who rely only on Christ's work for them, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Kip fails to realize that sin affects not only our actions and behaviors, but our emotions, rationality, and even volition. The New Testament calls for those who are "spiritual" or strong to help those who are weak, not to marginalize or oust those who are weak. Kip instead is calling for spiritual elitism. 2) Kip believes that any church that is not numerically growing is an unbelieving church. In one of the greatest sermons of our Lord and Master Jesus, cutting right to the heart of the issue in truth and in love, Jesus loses several thousand of those who were listening to him in John 6! While surely God wants many to come to know Him, numerical success is not the sole determinant of the faithfulness of a congregation, but rather, perseverance and sanctification are better indicators. If there is a passage to me that indicates the "mission purpose" of the church, that would be Ephesians 4:1-16. In this passage, the purpose of the church is that there are different members of the body of Christ which help build it up, and prepare God's people for works of service, and to help us to become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ through truth and love. Christ-likeness is the telos or end in mind, not numerical growth as an ends to itself! 3) Kip insists that evangelism is the primary charge to a disciple, and the primary activity of a disciple. While evangelism is important, and not the sole or even primary charge, I humble point out that there are other themes in the Bible, such as spreading love and mercy, hospitality, fighting against injustice for justice, and stewardship of all things (including the environment). As with 1Cor. 12, not everyone will have the same role or function within the body of Christ. Ultimately, if God is the Lord and Master of the Universe, then all things were given to us for proper stewardship.
Kip merely seems to be repeating patterns of the last 20-30 years; he began reconstructing churches since the early 80's, stealing them away from the Mainline Churches of Christ. He is using similar rhetoric and phrases. He is using similar tactics that he's always been using. The main difference is that, having done this already, he is pursuing the tactics far more aggressively: for instance, with reconstructions, it was at a relatively slow pace, but at this point, he is basically calling for as many churches to align with him as possible and then forcing the issue by approaching numerous churches through his contacts. The Portland Churches of Christ has also been extremely focused in recruitment of new members (their words of evangelism and baptism).
Second, what can be said of the International Churches of Christ? Let's look at the facts first. First, the most current news is that it appears that elders and teachers and lead evangelists within the International Churches of Christ are trying to damage control; they are speaking with the congregations (as Gordon Ferguson has done with Oahu as of September 22nd, 2006) -- more or less expanding on the two letters written to Kip McKean -- and marking this man as divisive, warning the churches to stay away. Second, in reacting to their perceived state of over-autonomy since the Kriete Letter, the International Churches of Christ have formed a "Unity Proposal" as the result of the study of nine of their leaders, and many of the churches have signed on. This "Unity Proposal" mostly covers their core doctrine and key beliefs, as well as defines the need for better integration, which could be translated as more centralized control at worst or inter-church communication at best.
There has been some realization of legalism, from the leadership down, and in some cases, tithing is no longer enforced, special missions contribution has been done away with, and there are no longer quotas for visitors and so on. However, while in practice some to many members of the International Churches of Christ have no formal discipler and no requirement for discipling or evangelism, leaders and older members are still pressing for the old ways of one-over-one discipling and evangelism. Evangelism (recruitment of new members) is still highly encouraged, although not as required as before, for instance, the emphasis is not so much on getting baptisms (new converts). Blind faith and trust are still held up in sermons as examples to be followed. There is still a lot of change that needs to happen. There are still a number of systemic problems; Henry Kriete basically publicly exposed to the ICC membership that there were significant problems -- like a doctor giving an accurate diagnosis that a person has a number of slipped discs. However, the ICC has merely just given the patient a more comfortable pair of crutches. What is needed still is -- well, surgery! There are many systemic problems like biblical ignorance and ignorance about exegesis that are pervasive in the ICC. In both camps, leaders and teachers still pick texts to justify their actions, ignoring all kinds of context. Despite the heavy criticisms that one-over-one discipling has too many fundamental problems, leaders still heavily support that model.
Douglas Arthur parts way with Kip: http://account.churchwebworks.com/acct/10920-5312/tmpl/tm270_resources_list.php?show_links=true&cat=From+the+desk+of+Doug+Arthur
The LA Church of Christ marks Kip McKean: http://www.laicc.net/content/churchletter.htm
This letter was distributed Oct 7, 2006 to the small group leaders:
Gordon Ferguson's Sermon on the split: http://www.oahuchurch.org/content.cfm?page_content=downloads_include.cfm&category=Audio%20Sermons#GordonFerguson (September 22, 2006)
Phoenix marks Kip McKean: http://www.phoenixvalleychurch.org/news/20050907_ChloupekResponse.htm
The First letter from the Brothers: http://www.disciplestoday.com/Headlines/051014_Brothers_Letter_To_Kip_McKean.aspx
The Second letter from the Brothers: http://www.disciplestoday.com/Headlines/051112_Brothers_Statement_to_Kip_McKean.aspx
Kip announces he decides he will start over with whoever is willing to help in building a worldwide baptizing movement: http://www.portlandchurch.org/archives/archives.php?section=more&langID=1&artID=155&all=yes
As two very valuable books have been out-of-print, I obtained permission to digitize and to post the following books: Dr. Ronald M. Enroth's Churches That Abuse and Recovering from Churches That Abuse.
I've also posted Toxic Christianity, which was written by a former leader, known as Mr. X.
The ICC appointed 9 leaders as a subcommittee at the 2005 International Leadership Conference in Seattle to gather input for greater cooperation and unity within the ICC.
On March 11th, 2006, a subcommittee of leaders (namely: Mike Fontenot, (Elder/Evangelist, Hampton Roads, VA), Scott Green, (Evangelist, Seattle, WA), Philip Lam, (Evangelist, Hong Kong, China), John Louis, (Evangelist, Singapore), Sam Powell, (Elder/Evangelist, New York, NY}, Steve Staten, (Evangelist/Teacher, Chicago, IL), Mike Taliaferro, (Evangelist, San Antonio, TX), Bruce Williams, (Evangelist, Los Angeles, CA), and Andy Fleming, (Middle East Missions Evangelist/Teacher, LA, CA)) released a "Unity Proposal" (this was circulated to leaders on February 20th, 2006 as a draft).
Notable is that the ICC has tried to define something akin to a creed (at least a statement of common belief and organizational purpose). The document is roughly divided into: Introduction, Common Beliefs, Course Corrections (i.e., what needs to be done, or changes needed to be made, at this point), and Conclusion. The proposal suggests that churches would benefit from a greater independence and association, and "stay connected" to other churches through geographic regional administrators or representatives.
Subsequently, Disciples Today, an ICC website, is publishing a list various churches who are in agreement with this Unity Proposal.
An additional document, "Questions and Answers" to the Unity Proposal, was also released.
REVEAL has no official comment at this point in time in regard to the Unity Proposal.
Jenny Lynch, Gloria Keeney, and Rennie McGale, all long time members and former leaders in the ICC took some time to document the story of how Kip became the lead evangelist of the Portland Church of Christ. (Requires Adobe Acrobat reader.)
REVEAL will have some new content including a few new stories from some long time members, some more links to various sites and materials, as well as commentary to current events. Additional materials to be added include a few analyses on false teaching and discipling by guest commentators, recovery materials for former members, and some links to related materials.
Kip McKean, the former top-leader of the International Churches of Christ, is now in Portland as their lead evangelist. He has restarted his (old) methodologies of recruitment (under the guise of "evangelism") and discipling. He seems a crumbling ICOC system plagued by what he has deemed the "evils" of the criticisms of the Kriete letter. However, some of the other churches have taken a public stand against McKean. Details following soon.
Diane Turner's story of her twenty-two year involvement, Marisa Boonstra's story, and Kevin Walheim's 8 year involvement in LA have already been added.
One notable update that should be mentioned is that John and Patricia Engler, long time proponents of the International Churches of Christ, and members for over twenty years in Denver, left as of May 2004. John and Patricia have both taken classes at Denver Seminary, and John was considered one of the most well-trained in terms of formal theological education in the International Churches of Christ. (It should be noted that others who have had significant experience have also left, notably Dr. Jerry Jones, Rick Bauer, Kyle Degge, and numerous others, not to mention the first lead evangelist of Athens, Greece: Jim Ryan.) Long-time proponents Cade Bryant (former forum owner of "Bring My People Back") and Rex Geissler (Great Commission Inc.) have also left. Other updates will also be made on some of the older stories (being set aside or archived), contact people for REVEAL, and so on.
We also posted an excellent study, Castles in the Air by a member of the International Churches of Christ, in 2001. (The articles reflect his opinions, not ours, although the bibliography is highly recommended.) He looks at a number of areas where the ICC has erred in terms of doctrine and practice, from hero worship to hierarchy to discipling. Requires Adobe PDF Reader.
I just received permission from Nursing Spectrum to post a relevant article, The Impact of Cults on Health, by Anne Tapper.
Henry Kriete update: Henry wrote a letter to a friend of his, Steve Staten, about the ICC situation. He reiterates his beliefs about "Honest to God" (H2G), and goes quite a bit further.
Over the course of 2004, we received numerous e-mails from current and former members around the world informing us of the changes and/or resistance to change in their local congregations.We are well aware that it has been a year since our last update partly because, we wanted to take some time to re-evaluate the position of the ICOC, post Henry Kriete letter and the impact it made on the downfall of the organization. Plus, we also felt we needed to take some time to tend to other interests and pursuits in our respective lives.
However, the time has finally come for us to refocus our attention to address the current issues and concerns facing those who have left or are still a member of the scattered remains of the ICOC since its demise. Also, we want to update our readers concerning the current teachings and behavior of Kip and Elena Mckean and the Portland Church of Christ where they now reside. They are attempting to regain their footing and rewrite the very recent history of ICOC to position themselves as not being responsible for cultivating the biblically erroneous and abusive nature of the ICOC.
Additionally, we will be focusing our attention on the San Francisco Church of Christ which works closely with Kip Mckean and who bears the responsibility for opening the door for him to take over the Portland Church of Christ in order to help him regain his footing after his departure from leading the Los Angeles Church of Christ.
As always, we are deeply grateful for your support and encouragement over the years and we hope that the day come soon when our site is no longer needed in any shape or form. With your continued help and efforts to expose what remains of the ICOC and to build upon preventative measures to ensure other souls will not get entangled with this group, our goal will be reached.
--Michelle Campbell, Co-founder and Executive Director
Roughly one year after Henry Kriete's letter Honest to God, Chris Lee suggests there are three categories of churches today in the no-longer-uniform ICC.
New in REVEAL's About the ICC section, you can read Chris's article here.
At a time when some ICC churches are recognizing past problems, and others are in different levels of denial about these problems, it is useful to have warning signs to look for. Responding to Kip McKean's recent "warning signs of a dying or false church," Dave Anderson has written seven warning signs of a cultic or abusive church.
You can read Dave's article here in the Psychology section of REVEAL's Library.
REVEAL Newswire: The Register-Guard -- Evangelical church's plans for Eugene raise concerns
The REVEAL Newswire has been updated with a January 26, 2004 Register-Guard article about the Portland Church of Christ's "planting" in Eugene, Oregon. The article reports concerns by campus officials, campus Christian groups, and Portland former ICC members about ICC methods coming to Eugene.
The article also interviews Portland evangelist and ICC founder Kip McKean. Curiously, McKean, who was not known to do media interviews during a 10-year period leading up to his resignation as ICC World Missions Evangelist in 2002, has now given at least three newspaper interviews in the last year -- including a January article in The Christian Chronicle, the mainline Church of Christ newspaper. McKean apparently feels a need to use the media to get his message out, now that he is no longer publicly in central control of the ICC movement.
The Register-Guard has granted permission for REVEAL to archive its article on the REVEAL site here.
Carlene, a former ICC member at Triangle (North Carolina) and Nashville, compares former ICC members to the Israelites in the Old Testament, who were also once held captive by an enslaving system. After a time of "wandering in the desert," Carlene discovers that "God has been leading day and night, loving me along the way."
New in REVEAL's Stories from the ICC section, you can read Carlene's essay here.
Formerly the ICC's top leader in the country of Argentina, Gustavo Sassano writes about his recruitment, rise and fall from leadership, and ultimately coming to grips with the idea that he had been a cult leader.
First published on the ICC Discussion Forum, this letter was written after Gustavo had left the church in the aftermath of Henry Kriete's letter in 2003. In it he gives much insight into his own leadership abuses, and the abuses and excesses of the leaders in the ICC's CSA (Central/South America) World Sector.
New in REVEAL's Stories from the ICC section, you can read Gustavo's letter here.
Ron Gholston was a "mainline" Church of Christ minister for several years before moving to Boston to work with the Boston Church of Christ in 1985. In1988 he wrote a letter to Al Baird and Bob Gempel, then the elders in Boston, pointing out "Anti-biblical" teachings and practices regarding church authority and asking the Boston elders to change these things.
Rather than acknowledging the issues raised by him, Gholston says he was fired and "disfellowshipped." Fifteen years later in 2003, after many ICC churches had apologized for their teachings on authority, Gholston allowed REVEAL to post his old letter to demonstrate how long senior ICC leaders had been aware of these issues.
New in REVEAL's Stories from the ICC section, you can read Ron's letter here.
Keith Stump has updated his article Control Mechanisms in the ICC to include comments on some events in the last year, and other revisions. Included in the 3rd Edition is a new examination of the ICC's "total commitment" doctrine, and a list of minimum acceptable reforms he sees for ICC churches.
You can read Keith's article here in the Psychology section of REVEAL's Library.
This current member of the Orlando Church of Christ wrote a letter to Los Angeles International Church of Christ (LAICC) leadership, saying among other things that the LAICC apology should be extended to other churches in the ICC, not just to the LA congregation.
New in REVEAL's Stories from the ICC section, you can read Amy's letter by clicking here.
Update on Kip McKean
As many readers know, the ICC's founder Kip McKean, who resigned in 2002 as leader of the ICC, this month became lead evangelist of the ICC's Portland Church of Christ. McKean then immediately released From Babylon to Zion: Revolution Through Restoration III, a letter to ICC churches around the world.
To hear what former/current ICC members and other people think about these developments (or to comment yourself), click here for discussions on Delphi's International Church of Christ Discussion Forum.
REVEAL's letter to Al Baird
REVEAL's Board of Directors sent this letter to long-time ICC spokesman Al Baird in March of 2003, realizing that REVEAL could be in a unique position to help ICC congregations reform and heal. To date, there has been no reply.
REVEAL now expands its offer to any ICC members/congregations/leaders, and publicly circulates the original letter for their benefit. To read our letter, click here.
This new article tells the story of the ICC's ill-fated Fargo Christian Church, which was planted in 1995, but ultimately withdrawn by early 1999. The closing of the Fargo Christian Church also meant that the ICC's earlier claim of being in "all 50 states" was no longer true.
Jason Reichert, an insider from the original planting from Denver through the final relocation of members to Minneapolis, tells his view of the story from start to finish. New in REVEAL's Stories from the ICC section, to read his article click here.
REVEAL Newswire: The Boston Globe -- A Christian community falters - Loss of leader, governing body hurts group formed in Boston
The REVEAL Newswire has been updated with a link to the new Boston Globe article about the International Churches of Christ (ICC). The article reports on events leading to the crumbling of the ICC's central leadership. Most interesting of all is an interview with Kip McKean -- the first such interview in years -- in which McKean hints of a possible comeback. To read the Globe article from the TOLC.org site, click here.
REVEAL shares the concerns that many former members have about any potential Kip McKean comeback. To join current discussions on Delphi's International Church of Christ Discussion Forum, click here.
Commentary on Chaos, Observations, Assessments, and Proposals regarding Recent events in the International Church of Christ Movement by Kyle V. Degge
Once an evangelist in the pre-ICC Boston Movement, Kyle Degge has been working behind the scenes for years to free both current and former ICC members from spiritual abuse. Now a "mainline" Church of Christ minister and founder of FreeNDeed Ministries, Degge announces his willingness to help guide the ICC's healing process. He also asks for others to join in the work.
Spiritual Declaration of Independence, "An open letter to members of the ICC and any interested parties" by J. David Dahm, MD
This current member of the St. Louis Church of Christ uses his physician's perspective to give suggestions for ultimate healing of the ICC. He talks about the ICC's "Pathology" (what's wrong), the "Cure", and "Prevention of recurrence" to make sure these problems go away and stay away. Recommended for ICC members and observers alike.
God" An open letter to ICOC Leaders by Henry
Kriete, A Current ICOC Leader In London
Henry Kriete is a current leader in the London Church of Christ and at the beginning of February a thirty-nine page letter he wrote, which was addressed primarily to the various leaders of the ICC, has found its way into the hands of many of the common current members of the ICC via the Internet. Mr. Kriete is calling for the leaders of the ICC to renounce, abandon and repent of its systemic abusive practices, attitudes and abberrational teachings. Mr. Kriete has given REVEAL permission to publish his letter and if you are either a current or former member, we highly recommend you read it, for it definitely provides much food for thought and discussion.
"Exposure and Unfettered Access", a response to the recent calls for change in the ICOC
We've received a significant amount of inquiries asking us our thoughts and opinions regarding all that is happening in the ICOC, so this article serves as our official response.
Home Page | REVEAL Autoresponder | REVEAL Webmaster
©1998-2005 by REVEAL. All rights reserved