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What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 5 2007 at 12:31 AM
Gentile  (no login)

Sophia wrote: "AMEN to reading the Word. That is where the Greeley congregation began finding that God was calling them, individually, to something 'other'. I have asked many where they felt that this first became clear - and the answer was in the Bible Studies that were being held in homes throughout the week in small groups. Reading and delving into the Word - and praying for understanding. No wonder Bible Studies were a 'no-no' at that time. I don't know if they still are or not. But I know it caused much consternation that Bible Studies were taking place without ministers being present- and outside of the church building.

Even as a child this struck me as truly ironic since it was Menno Simons belief that 'the people' should have access to the Word and not just hearing it through the mouths of the priests of the RC church that got him into so much hot Any discouragement from reading the Word - in ANY setting - with ANY people - is - in my opinion - a sure sign that it is not of God."

What really happened in Greeley, Colorado? Just curious, as a preacher who had relatives there, recently said his congregation was going the route of Greeley, to be a Greeley #2.

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(Login gskoehn)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 5 2007, 2:00 AM 

So - who ya askin'? I'm sure the story from the ministers of the CGCM (Hey! Fred! I did it! ) would be a bit different than the story of an ex-member from Greeley. I was 8 years old - so am not so comfortable answering this as a whole - but would be more than happy to get a 'I was there' from my dad for ya!

As for another congregation going the way of Greeley - to be a Greeley #2. Hmmm - gotta say - what I know is that an entire congregation except for 4 families were expelled - and later excommunicated - and resulted in some of the strongest - most beautiful Christians I know. If the results were to be the same - a congregation of people alive in the love of Jesus and ready to share that love - than I must say 'Praise the Lord'.

That said - I had a cousin's spouse (kind of distant family - rarely saw them growing up because of that little thing called avoidance) - do a GASP quite literally after we had met at a family reunion - and in the chitchat she asked where I was from. I said 'Greeley'. She looked TERRIFIED!! I asked her what she knew of Greeley as I was aware that Greeley had a reputation for smelling like feedlots from the many years of that (thank goodness now further out of town!!) - but that I had never had quite her reaction before. And she asked - I kid you not - whisper - "Is that the place where they were having orgies and had to excommunicate the entire congregation?"

Folks - I lost it. I'll admit it! I cracked up laughing - and my laugh is NOT a silent lady like tee-hee-hee. Nope - I bust a gut. Had LOTS of people looking our direction. And of course she looked even MORE aghast. I quickly reassured her that I was laughing only because I had NEVER heard such a thing - and that this had NEVER occurred - and that while yes - an entire congregation DID get excommunicated - that it was a congregation of God-fearing Christians who had continued to worship together for years after and that in fact the congregation still existed though it had merged with another Old Mennonite church in town. And I tried to ask more questions about what she had heard - and where she had heard it - but of course she was quite ready to move on to a less, uh, scary relative.

So...there really is a question of 'what really happened in Greeley'. What's agreed upon is that a congregation was Ex'd - and that 4 families almost immediately moved away from the area to other congregations. The charges - well that's documented. Pretty sure my father in law has his - he mentioned it not too long ago. But WHY the charges - and what was truly done to deserve them? Well - I'm sure that depends on whether you're asking one of the ministers who rolled up in the four-door and piled into each home one after another - or those who were subjected to the questioning. And yes - I remember them showing up.

I also know that Gerald Mininger quite literally STOPPED the revival minister from preaching one night because of the direction things were going. Gerald was our minister. He is a precious man to me. And yes - he stood - in the middle of sermon a, b, c or d - and stopped it and told the minister he would not be continuing to preach in that church. I'm sure that made him none-too-popular.

Hank - if he's around - can help with some details as well as he is good friends with many of the X's from here. And shortly after (this was 1976) - the purge began its sweep. 30 years. wow.

So - who ya askin'? And who will be the first to ask...but...did it REALLY happen that way???

(no login)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 5 2007, 7:05 AM 

" Gerald Mininger quite literally STOPPED the revival minister from preaching one night because of the direction things were going."

Do they even give lip service anymore to the idea of a pastor protecting his own flock? Even if they do, please don't try it at home without CGCM supervision.

Perhaps Gerald's life would have been better served by helping the bailiff line all the sheep up in the chute so the cloak and dagger boys,i.e., the revival ministers also known as the Elite Guard, SS, Gestapo, etc. could impregnate the woolies with the semen of nicolatianism.


(Login bawar)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 5 2007, 7:25 AM 

Don Millsap must have been involved with that situation. He would speak on it as if it happened yesterday. Speaking to him, you could sense the turmoil he had to wrestle in his own heart to keep himself on track to justify what they did. It doesn't take much prodding to get him to become uneasy in discuss in this matter.

About 3 weeks after I joined the H, I spoke to man from Colorado, and became fast friends with him. He is the guy that taught me how to fix ammonia fridges, so I spent hours speaking to him.

Any how, he was raised a old Mennonite, but sort of went by the wayside, however his best friends were exed out of the "Greeley problem".

He spoke on the phone to me for 5 minutes and knew I was an H! And I thought woe! He described what the h ministers did to them, and I knew I made a wrong turn in the narrow way.

It took me 8 years to get off that little wayside retreat and may never get completely over it!

(Scarred for life)

(Login gskoehn)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 5 2007, 12:01 PM 

By the way, Gentile - in case you're new to the forum - I'm Sophia Koehn. Daughter of Ken and Margaret Wiggers. My grandfathers were Min. Arnold Wiggers - Halstead KS and Min. Jake H. Loewen - Glenn, CA and then Phoenix, AZ. I married Glenn Koehn - son of Billy and Viola Koehn. His Grandfathers were John B. Koehn - uh - I think Atwater (Livingston???), CA - and Henry Giesbrecht - Glenn, CA.

My parents and Glenn's parents were among the first couples to settle in Greeley to start the Majestic View Mennonite Church here (yes - we all still live here). I was the first baby born in that congregation (collective...awwwwwww). My parents moved here in 1966. Gerald Mininger was the only Minister of the church during the entire time the congregation was part of the CGCM. (Fred's going to be so proud of me!! lol)

Here's a cut and paste from Hank regarding the charges, etc. I'll bump my 'Who was that masked woman' thread up to the top - it was my intro of myself to the forum - and there is some discussion on there about Greeley.

"Thank-you Sophia. for sharing. It is interesting to hear the story from a second generation Greeley person. Yes my friends, gsk got it right about the happenings and I know what specifically happened that lead to revivals being shut down after 4 days.

I should add that the congregation ( at least 90 + % of them) were offically expelled enmass for "an incorrect view of justification by faith". However, several yeras later CGCM issued a letter apoligizing for that, saying that G. Mininger in fact was preaching the truth on this subject; and they (cgcm hiearchy) were wrong. But of course, the congregation refused to "blend spirits" with cgcm (some of you would specifically call it the holdegod issue) in the struggle that was going on during the purge."

(Login gskoehn)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 5 2007, 12:04 PM 

Gentile, any chance we could know who this minister is that said his congregation is going the way of Greeley? Since they 'reversed' their decision on whether it was a rightful decision or not (by that time, the congregation had moved on - bluff called) - I would be surprised if the charges were the same. Thus I have to assume that this person is either speaking in generalities as in 'an entire congregation like in Greeley' - or possibly has bought into some sort of rumor as to what occurred. I can't quite imagine the CGCM expelling an entire congregation on the same grounds of the 'heresy' of justification by faith.

If you can share more - I'm of course curious.

(no login)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 5 2007, 7:01 PM 

Gentile, I'm curious as well.

(no login)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 5 2007, 10:23 PM 

Thank you for sharing your memories Sophia! Some of the predictions from this preacher may have come about when families or the youth in his congregation would have evening devotions in their homes (without a staff member) which included singing, a Bible quiz, sharing of new birth experiences, and prayer. From what you wrote, this makes sense that these would be classified as 'Home Bible Studies' and therefore promoting a "Greeley Spirit"...

I'm amazed about the apology too. A good sign. Did they apply Jesus teaching on the bruised reed and smoking flax (Matthew 12:20) before "casting out" so many?

What did these home Bible studies consist of if I may ask?

(Login gskoehn)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 6 2007, 12:08 AM 

Now that's funny!! I didn't know there was a 'Greeley spirit'. Sure am glad I only have to worry about one Spirit in my life - the Holy one!

As for the bible studies content - I do not know. I would have to ask those who were, ahem, a bit older than I was! I just emailed dad to ask.

I also sent him your question about the broken reed scriptural reference.

I was curious enough on that one to go digging. Found an excellent write-up (agreed to or not agreed to - it's well done) - on the topic of the parable teaching of the bruised reed to not be broken nor the smoking flax quenched. I'll paste it in its entirety - with source reference - on a separate post here so as not to confuse what is my writing vs. that documentation. (though probably obvious! That one isn't filled with cute yellow smilies!! ).

But it brings to me a question. The document I found interpreting and illustrating this scripture - in full context not just the one verse but within Jesus' addressing issues with the Pharisees and the key timeframe for fulfilling the law that this scripture comes from - refers to this being in reference to the state of Israel. Makes sense to me. And I'm not making the jump from how that refers to Greeley - or any congregation of any Christian denomination???

Is the reference you are making that Greeley is similar to Israel in the parable and was found broken and 'smoking' and then cast aside and quenched without....well that's where I get lost on that theory of my trying to figure out what your question meant.

Or were you perhaps referring to God's actions towards Israel and how the CGCM should have handled things with a congregation?

I'm quite puzzled as to how a scripture referencing specific events and words spoken by Jesus as fulfillment of prophecy - and part of fulfilling Moses' law - ties in to CGCM's actions towards the congregation in Greeley. Can you shed some light on what you are asking there? I guess I wouldn't expect the CGCM to be attempting to put themselves into the spot of either God (allowing Israel to become broken in order to have prophecy fulfilled), Israel (since we certainly were all Gentiles!!), or Jesus (speaking and doing the specific acts to fulfill prophecy). So I'm not sure which 'part' CGCM plays in this parable - and which part the Greeley Cong. played. Englighten me please!!

Gentile...your pseudonym gives me no idea whether you're tied in with the CGCM now or in the past - or whether you have just found us through curiosity - all I know is you're not a Jew! lol So I'm assuming I'm not speaking to a staff member of the CGCM who would have access to some of my questions here - if that is not the case and you can indeed answer these questions for the CGCM - by all means - please jump in!! But I don't wish to put you in a spot to say 'who' you are either. I respect the anonymity that this forum provides. So I'll address some of my other thoughts/questions to the forum at large - hoping that perhaps some CGCM members can elaborate...

To the forum:
In order for there to be 'rightful cause' under CGCM's guidelines to expel or excommunicate - obviously charges had to be set against the people being expelled. What's greatly puzzling to me (and Hank??? perhaps you can shed some light here??) - is if there was an apology - and an attempt to draw the congregation back 'into the fold' later - and the congregation - or - I'm guessing - each individual expellee - turned down this offer for reinstatement of membership - since the CGCM basically admitted to an invalid expelling/excommunication in this case - how then does the CGCM stand behind avoidance/shunning of those wrongfully expelled? I'm sitting here a bit stunned tonight for this is the first time that this thought has come to me...that if the CGCM indeed admitted to wrongful expelling - and would have reinstated - then how does the church support avoidance in this particular case?

Hmmm - thinking this through further - I'm guessing that the answer is 'Well - if they had come BACK to the fold - forgiving us as we apologized - then of course there wouldn't be shunning/avoidance'. Yes - I'm not likely to win a debate on the idea of members willfully expelling THEMSELVES - and no longer wishing readmittance under any circumstances still being held to membership 'rules' which include agreement to be shunned or avoided if you are under repentance. Once under repentance - ALWAYS under repentance...until reinstatement? Am I wording that correct?? I think it's a load of manure headed for the fields to be spread on thick - but hey - I don't get to write the CGCM doctrine - only question it.

(Login gskoehn)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 6 2007, 12:14 AM 

Here is the material I referenced above:

St. Matthew having given an account of some precautions which Christ made use of in order that the people at large might not know him; quotes the above passage from Isaiah, as being fulfilled by Christ….

The house of Israel is here represented by the similitude of a bruised reed, by which is meant the low condition in which Christ found it when he came. The prophet looked forward from his day, and beholding the house of Israel in a low state of servitude, represented it by a bruised reed, and then prophesied of the Messiah and his coming, and said he would not break what little strength it retained, (which was then only in the scepter of Judah, or ‘staff’, or reed of his tribeship,) until he had fulfilled the law and made it honorable which I understand by his sending forth judgment unto victory. The continuance of Judah’s scepter until the coming of Shiloh, was spoken of by Jacob, See Gen. 10. It was to continue until Shiloh should come, after which it was broken: Observe, the bruised reed was not to be broken, nor the smoking flax quenched, until judgment was sent forth unto victory; which intimates that the reed would then be broken and the flax quenched. Flax is extremely combustible, and quickly consumed by fire, and as it smokes a little after the fire has passed it, before it is entirely gone; so the house of Israel is represented as almost wholly exhausted of its strength, and dying like the wick of a candle after the blaze is extinguished; but it should not be entirely quenched until righteousness should gain the victory over sin. Then was Judah’s scepter broken, and the light, strength and glory of the legal dispensation vanished forever.

It is remarkable that notwithstanding the low condition of the Jews, and their servitude under the Roman yoke, yet they were preserved, and retained their ecclesiastical order until they had an opportunity to exercise that power in fulfilling the scripture prophecies concerning the Messiah. Had the scepter departed from Judah, or a lawgiver from between his feet, before Shiloh came, and that people had been broken up and dispersed as they were immediately afterwards, they would not have been in a situation to fulfill all that the prophets had written concerning Christ; they could not have said “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die.”

If we duly consider that all the other tribes of the children of Israel had become extinct before the coming of Shiloh, and even that of Judah was reduced to contemptible weakness, yet preserved for the fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy, and the many other prophecies concerning the Messiah, it must operate as a very forcible argument in favor of the divinity of those scriptures which were so remarkably fulfilled. What power of human wisdom, can we reasonably suppose, could discover to the dying patriarch that Judan would be the only surviving tribe, and that he would survive until the coming of Shiloh? If we attribute this to the sagacity of human wisdom, with a design to avoid the idea of divine inspiration, we only defeat our object, by giving to human wisdom that prescience which amounts to as much as divine inspiration.

Source for this material is:
"Notes on the Parables of the New Testament"
Scripturally Illustrated and Argumentatively Defended
Author of "Treatise on Atonement", "Candid Review"
re-published 1860 (hmmm! Wonder if J.H. ever read this?? ) by author revision. First published 1831
Book was in the Harvard Theological Library (digitized now)

And here is the Internet link if you're interested in the full book! I typed the text I referenced above - so please excuse any typos I might have made. I did work to copy it word for word and it does NOT include any comments by me within it.

This message has been edited by coGforum on Aug 10, 2007 11:58 PM

(Login gskoehn)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 6 2007, 12:36 AM 

Gentile (and anybody else interested in hearing testimony of one coming out of Majestic View Mennonite in Greeley) - here is a link to Weldon Koehn's story. He titled it Coming out Deception and Spiritual Bondage. I know he speaks to what happened in Greeley in here - though his focus is on testimony of Christ's work in his life and not just re-hashing what happened here in Greeley. It may give some insight though. It is referenced on the Stoppel's site - but in case there are those on the forum here who avoid going there due to CGCM bias - here's Weldon's audio:

In addition - there was a documentary done in Quebec in the late 70's. My father was part of that. I know that Kimma has copies of it if you would like to contact her for that.

Steve - didn't you have this located somewhere on the web as well, or am I thinking of something else???

(no login)

What really happened in Greele, CO?

August 6 2007, 2:43 AM 

The documentary was done in Manitoba, I believe - Roy Bonasteel was the interviewer. It was called, "The New Way". One of those interviewed was Ken Wiggers from Greeley. (I have wondered if Jane Wiggers is his wife?) The "staff" shown in this film are ones who are presently and have been in the past, here in our area. Watching that film cleared up a lot of our questions and gave a very clear portrayal of how the purge affected and changed the church. Excellent film.

(Login gskoehn)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 6 2007, 3:22 AM 

Meg - thanks for clarifying - I thought it was Quebec. Hmmm - I think I'm mixing up a Quebec business trip with the Manitoba trip.

Ken is my father. And no - Jane is not his wife - but is an aunt by marriage (not to be confused with his sister Jane who was a Wiggers UNTIL she married!

I'm glad that documentary was helpful to you. I remember dad going to Canada - but that's about all I remember personally of that happening.

(no login)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 6 2007, 1:17 PM 

LOL! Only a staff member of my 'earthly' business Sophia...a fellow pilgrim and stranger.

(Login gskoehn)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 10 2007, 10:39 PM 

Ya'll want more?

Okay - my dad being my dad (i.e. detail oriented and specific) - I have an almost two page reply from him - typed out - along with his answers to more questions I asked as I read through it. Unfortunately - he didn't save the document and just handed it to me - so I'll have to retype it in. I'll do that here - with some of my notes in parantheses on questions I asked for clarification as I read through this. But I have a lot more notes and will save those for another time to lay out in writing - maybe tomorrow?

"My daughter Sophia,

I'm going to respond to your question regarding the "Greeley Experience". I don't mind if you quote me on any of this, anywhere, I just don't wish to get involved in discussing it on the forum.

Orgies? I missed those, unless what is meant is group involvement in excitement regarding Jesus (my note...can you tell where part of my sense of humor comes from? )I've heard that rumor also, but it's been some time ago. Incidently, no one, whether friend, acquaintance, church official, or even family member, ever has asked me what my perspective on those events is. I think that is an amazing case of assuming that the "wrong" person has no valid input.

I have never been able to verify any sort of apology being made regarding our excommunication. If it happened, we were certainly not made aware of it. It seems to be true that there has been an adjustment on the Holdeman's part regarding 'justification by faith'. It is now taught, at least in the Messenger of Truth, that we are all justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ alone. The critical issue has shifted from 'faith and workds' kind of thinking, at least among many, to 'the church decides if you have a "valid" faith'. I'm not sure which has the most baggage.

(my note. Dad has gotten the MOT 'forever'. His parents paid for it to come to him. He never made a big deal of it. In some cases, it is communication of things they would not otherwise be aware of - including relatives deaths, marriages, etc. I have wondered but always forget to ask dad - whether he still gets the MOT since Grandma died last November. Not sure if it was a subscription for life - or if it is inheritable. Hmmmmm)

The BIG issue in our excommunication was the question of, "what is the church?" That is the issue that sealed our doom, and the issue that I'm sure they never apologized for, and likely never will. It is the issue that their church system stands or falls on, and they know that very well.

I was one of four persons who comprised an advisory board for Gerald (Mininger) in our congregation primarily because he was the only minister here (my note. Dad told me tonight that Gerald never intended to be the only Min. He and Kenneth Koehn (wife Betty) had both received permission - or whatever it is called - to start the church in Greeley. Geralds moved here first - and Kenneths were going to follow soon after they had their affairs in order in California. Kenneth and Betty were both killed in a car accident, tragically. That is how Gerald came to be a sole minister here. Gerald asked for the advisory board because of this. My father (Ken Wiggers), Orlan Koehn (came from Missouri), Bill Smith (from California - eventually ordained to Deacon) and...oh shoot - I forgot who the fourth was....sorry!! made up this advisory board). What brought things to a head that revival time was the fact that the church problems committee notified us that they would be choosing the two brethren who would be coming to lead the 'revival effort' that year. Since we had always been able to call whoever we wished over the years, and since that is the way it is expected to be in the Holdeman church, their taking over the process was, to say the least, attention getting. Leading up to the start of the series of meetings Gerald shared his concerns regarding this with the advisory board.

What was especially telling was that year after year, after our 'revival meetings' the ministers who had been here with us would go back home and be interviewed by other ministers. You know, "How did you find things at Greeley?" And, always they would say, in effect, "we were prepared to see major problems that would require major changes in things, but, you know we really sensed a joy and excitement regarding the Lord. Don't know what the deal is." Obviously the big guns would have to be 'moved to the front'. Hand picking our revival ministers seemed to be the first step.

Before the fourth meeting, Gerald called the advisory board together at the church and told us that he had become aware of their strategy, and as I remember it, Gerald was to be no longer in charge of the revival effort, the visiting ministers would be. (my note: I asked dad more about this as this seemed rather, uh, interesting. He said that the ministers were overheard talking over their plan. The person who heard them took this information to Gerald - who then went to the revival ministers and asked them outright about it. From dad's understanding - they acknowledged that this was their plan) With great reluctance Gerald informed us that he just could not let this happen in our congregation, that he was well aware of the consequences for him, and asked us if we were with him or not. We unanimously agreed with him and spent time in prayer for him and the congregation. We then joined the congregation assembling for the evening meeting, and when the 'visiting ministers' had arrived, and the service was to begin, Gerald got up and announced that, in consultation with the board, it had been decided that this series of meetings was over. It was done humbly, even brokenly, and with respect for the 'visiting brethren'. We were all aware that 'the excrement was about to engage the blades'. It did.

(my note. I have a lot more notes from tonight regarding how exactly this all went down - and will write more of that up another time. If you have questions - please ask. I had also asked my dad about the 'smoking flax' comment that Gentile had made...and about the Bible studies question that was posed. Here is his response on those...)

The 'smoking flax' account was often, and perhaps still is, preached about at revival times when I was growing up. Since the church was seen as having replaced Israel as the people of God, and since the Holdemans are the church, it was seen as applying. The message was, "God has taken note of the fact that the fire has gone out with at least some of you, evidenced by your lukewarm condition, and perhaps even the congregation as a whole has a 'condition', but God has said that since you're still smoking there's a chance that you can be fanned into flame once more." I think smoking flax doesn't apply very well when there is rank heresy involved, so, no they didn't teach on that one with us.

(my note: In my trying to understand this more, mom mad a comment to one of my questions with 'our hose didn't get blacker during revivals'. Obviously I looked confused - and she said 'during revivals it was expected that rather than nude or suntan hosiery color, that they would get darker and become even black to reflect condition. Yes. I was stunned. Then dad commented that it was even said at one point 'it would certainly help your position if the women were to wear darker hose'. Yes. I laughed. Pretty sure that was unimportant to Jesus. )

Finally, the Bible Studies that we first used in our home groups was from Campus Crusade, and came about as a result of getting acquainted with a young lady from Greeley who was joining the staff of Campus Crusade and moving to their headquarters which was at Arrowhead Springs, CA at that time. It was very basic stuff, but the kind of material that would allow young and old to meet together and learn. We also did more praying together during those study times than any of us had done with others in all of our lives.

If you have any further questions, ask.

Love, Dad"

So - Gentile - there you have the story from one who was not only there - but was right in the thick of it. I pray that this congregation you referenced indeed HAS the "Greeley spirit". It may well be the most enlightening experience in their Christian lives.

I just want to add here - though as I said I'll post more on this later - that I am extremely blessed to have grown up in this congregation. Over the years - people moved - people were called to worship at other churches in the area (as my parents and my husband and I were eventually as well) - but I very well remember growing up knowing that Jesus loved me - and that he died for me. I became a Christian at the age of 8. While that occurred at a Billy Graham crusade (and yes - I have no doubt that would have been a problem for the church problems committee as well to know that much of the congregation not only WENT to that crusade - but participated in the choir as well!!) - it was in this Greeley spirit that I came to know my Lord and Savior. And it was the intercession of my father and Gerald with an action I knew nothing of for 30 years that prevented my becoming a member right before that revival session which would have made me a VERY young excommunicated member. Or not supposed to eat with my parents. Or something. I look at my daughter who just turned 10 yesterday - and became a Christian herself at 7 - and I am overwhelmed once again for that loving act of my father and Gerald in protecting my young psyche.

So fire away with the questions - I'll ask dad if I don't know the answers. Gotta say - I'm very very tempted to go seeking out the other members at that time and get more testimonies from them of what occurred. The memories talking with dad brought up for me tonight of bible studies in our home - of singing - and praying - and bibles open on every lap - precious, precious memories. Praise the Lord for these wonderful Christians!

(no login)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 10 2007, 11:55 PM 

Thanks Sophia; I know you nudged me a few times but I have been busy with other things and I felt that someone like your dad could really answer the questions. You/he did a fine job.

We have very fond memories of quite a few vists to Greeley; we desperately motored up there in winter of 1975-76, for 24 hours of non-stop question asking, trying to find out what was going on in the Holdeman church at large. The changes were puzzeling and up-setting to say the least, and I had confidence that Gerald Minninger would be able to help me keep my mind in balance. I will be forever grateful for the clear, steady and loving (without any malice) words that he ministered. And Sophia, along with that, we appreciated clear testimony of the gospel and love of Christ that your parents and others you referred to, left with us.

I believe we realize that we are "Christians" individually, however fellowship within a "culture of peoples" does give certain inspiration that one may not be quick to accept elsewhere, coming from a pretty much closed church society. It takes time to obsorb that God is no respecter of persons or culture and so the shared disappointments/inspiration with those we trusted was vital for us. Thanks to your dad and others for standing for truth and not being ashamed or afraid to do so.

Perhaps one reason why this forum interests some, is for the very reason I have referred to above. It is very normal that cultures, families or regional residents stick together, and share common feelings of their roots. There is nothing wrong with such fellowship, if we do not lose sight of the bigger picture.

"... Titus, a true son in OUR COMMON FAITH. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior." Titus 1:4

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What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 11 2007, 5:48 AM 

Hank said:
>>I believe we realize that we are "Christians" individually, however fellowship within a "culture of peoples" does give certain inspiration that one may not be quick to accept elsewhere, coming from a pretty much closed church society. It takes time to absorb that God is no respecter of persons or culture and so the shared disappointments/inspiration with those we trusted was vital for us...
Perhaps one reason why this forum interests some, is for the very reason I have referred to above. It is very normal that cultures, families or regional residents stick together, and share common feelings of their roots. There is nothing wrong with such fellowship, if we do not lose sight of the bigger picture.<<

Speaking as a convert to the Holdeman church, and one who later defected, I am quick to understand what Hank has suggested here. Since we knew no Holdemans before meeting the small group who had recently moved to our previously non-Mennonite area, having no references nor methods to check them out (nor at that point no obvious cause to do so), and being somewhat rebels from the broader mainstream culture, we were quite drawn by the stable, defined church society. We experienced a strong sense of identity and security within that system, so unlike the freedom of the mainstream. Because a set of circumstances led us up to the H. church (isolating factors such as our homeschooling), it seemed a natural solution to our dilemma. We had in some ways ostracized ourselves from our own society or culture. At first it was a great comfort to discover the benefits of such a close-knit system.
However, leaving it is more traumatic than arriving, because there is nothing to "go to", unless one takes up with another church. And unless it is another "closed society", a heavily rule-based one, chances of replacing that intense sense of security are slim. I ended up joining another Mennonite church - this one defined most specifically by it's German language and Spanish cultural influences - and although it has, surprisingly, been a much easier place to meld into as it lacks the demands "to blend", at the same time, it is more difficult to feel as strong a sense of "community" as we experienced with the Holdemans.
When we left the church we felt quite adrift, and the trauma suffered by that separation was a severe blow to all of our family. In part the problem was made greater because we didn't understand the dynamics of our experience. And that is where Holdeman Survivors became a life line. I had always been puzzled, after we left and started voicing our opinions, when a Holdeman would say something like, "Oh you must have been talking to someone who left the church." We did not know anyone else who had either come or gone, nor did we know anyway to contact anyone who had! Then, through Holdeman Survivors and individual contacts I met through that group, we found ourselves armed with access to all the factual information we needed for the healing process to begin.
At times I think that I have taken Anabaptism more seriously than many born-to defectors from the Holdemans. I have noticed a trend to abandon the whole Mennonite culture for the freedoms of the mainstream, and not always do those in such a position chose the better elements of the mainsteam either. Not for me to judge another (it took quite some time for the affects of that judgmental system to wear off, I admit), but I have wondered why more people don't chose to follow the Anabaptist faith in some other Anabaptist-related church - whether this is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or if I have missed something and have something more to learn? For the present I feel very blessed to have been accepted so warmly as part of this new group. It seems ironic to me that an outsider could feel more comfortable and welcome merging with a strong German-language culture who actually make the Holdemans look quite "worldly". Perhaps it is that my own family come from German stock originally that contributes to my ease in feeling at home there..whatever the reason is not as important as the sense of peace and comfort that it brings.
At the same time, I have continued to feel a sense of identity with you who have also left the Holdeman church. I am shunned equally with you and there remains a sense of kindred spirit between us all. I feel confident that healing has taken place, but the effects of the Holdemans in our life will always be felt. A trust broken is a trust lost forever. And there is nothing more painful than broken trust. I read an aritlce on forgiveness (I think it was somewhere on this site) that put it all in good perspective for me - forgive, but never forget. I encourge everyone here to seek healing and move on in life, taking the lessons as a blessing.


(Login Pianisimo)

What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 11 2007, 8:08 AM 

Sophia: Read your informative post with interest and has helped fill in some of the blanks and questions I have had about that sad affair. I have been interested over the years in that situation as I had made several trips to Greeley, shortly before everything fell apart. Norman Toews also offered me a job in his business as I was a friend of Burtan sp
his son. I was a very rebellious young man and far from the Lord at the time, although a member, but I was doing a lot of singing and I sang in Greeley church several times before the break up. Once at a wedding for good friends and also for a special evening. What I distinctly remember when I would visit is a feeling that troubled me and it seemed to me from what I was witnessing with the youth group was that they were living very carnally, (much like me) pretty much whatever, however. I remember one really wild party I went to while Burtan was still in the church and as far as I know most of the other kids were also. Loud music, dancing, Burtan had his guitar with him and between trips to his car to take a smoke, we'd make a little music. The difference what I could see, is that I was an exception where I came from, at Greeley I would've been more normal, if you catch the drift, just part of the crowd. I think the Lord had a hand in my life even tho I wouldn't have been aware of it at the time. I was given health issues that prevented me from moving to Greeley. That's how I feel today, but I'm sure others would probably feel different. And Sophia, don't get me wrong, I loved Gerald then and I still love and respect him, however it did appear that things were moving to a showdown with the rest of the H conference. I believe if things were to be relived today, there would've been much more patience in trying to understand and try to come to some agreement w/0 getting the big guns involved. And as far as the congregation went, I do believe as you stated they were excited about serving the Lord and were trying to do what they thought best. However I could see some cracks forming, and for me not being very spiritually astute, was a real eye opener. I have heard over the years a tremendous regret expressed by ministers and how that thing was handled. I just wonder how it would be done today?
I believe you to be an honest, fair person Sophia, and I'm not trying to deduct from what you said, just giving another perspective from someone who just observed. Maybe I even ran into Hank at Greeley? However, he was probably hanging onto the arm of his sweet young thing and didn't notice me!
Such is life, aye? This has about tapped my info. about this whole ordeal. Forreal

(no login)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 11 2007, 8:43 AM 

Thanks Forreal; you are right about my "sweet young thing" but I am older then you. I have no idea who you are but we may well have crossed paths.

I will be gone for several days but an interesting discussion would be what is the best and biblical atmpsphere to raise/bring up young folks, to prepare them for life. How much "force" should be applied ? How much trust should be allowed them ? What social skills do they need to leaarn and where can they get them. Does the Bible teach a closed church society as H represents ? or should there be more open mixing with others in a community ? or does this mixing happen already ?

(no login)

Re: What really happened in Greeley, CO?

August 11 2007, 9:33 AM 

I'm not Forreal although I am "for real"

I believe it is as simple as this... whet their appetite for God and the rest will take care of itself.

And that is best taught by example.

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