On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, the confusion and conundrums around the controversial Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) increased yet further. The controversy surrounded a meeting held Wednesday evening at the “campus”. This video link below from WLOS in Asheville, NC outlines the main points. Reporter Ashlea Surles gives a brief outline of the events. You may have to use your “back” button in order to return to this post. Please, read on after viewing the video for the possible fallout from the confusion.
This was not surprise move from the WOFF playbook; they feel they are under “attack.” It appears that Brent Childers was trying to warn Dr. Kokkonen about the group. Well, that seems fair, right? Per Josh, “All I know is that the email disturbed the speaker.” “We absolutely have nothing to hide,” said Farmer. I found that frankly a surreal stretch of a representation of their actions in the past, both while I was inside and now that I am out. Nothing to hide? Laughable! The façade that exists when visitors attend the services is vibrant evidence that there are things to hide, actions and practices that others may find strange or abusive. Shall we list them?
Here are the disclaimers: I do not know specifically what the email said which Brent Childers sent to Dr. Kokkonen on Wednesday. I do know what I would have included in an email to her on that day. I have had no contact with the speaker and do not know exactly what her message was on Wednesday to the WOFF membership. We do know what she has said in the past and we will provide a video later in this post where she delivers her message.
First a little about the speaker:
Since April 2008, Dr. Susanna Kokkonen, originally from Finland, has been the Director of the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem at the International Relations Division of Yad Vashem. She also holds the additional position of country Director for Italy within Yad Vashem’s International Relations Division. In her position, Dr. Kokkonen is responsible for Yad Vashem’s many activities and contacts connected to Holocaust commemoration and education. The activities include enrollment of new Friends and Partners for Yad Vashem’s many projects and responsibility for a newly established International Christian Leadership Seminar.
Dr. Kokkonen travels around the world to speak about Israel, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. She has been the featured guest speaker at many Jewish-Christian interfaith events. In 2009, she was the speaker at the official Holocaust Memorial Day of Northern Ireland hosted by the First Minister’s office. Fluent in six languages, she also writes regularly on Jewish and Israeli issues.
Prior to joining Yad Vashem, Dr. Kokkonen worked at the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Embassy of Finland in Tel Aviv. She received her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2004 in Holocaust studies. Her dissertation topic was “Jewish Refugees in Post-War Italy, 1945-1951.”
The above information is found at the link for this video on Vimeo. This video is her message at another church as of February 23, 2013. Included in this video is a nine minute presentation from Yad Vashem. (http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/about/index.asp ) Wonder if WOFF members got to see that? Why? This video contains music with no one singing. That was a “no-no” during my time at WOFF. We will explain the real confusions that abound surrounding this whole affair after this video. (graphic images follow)
Dr. Kokkonen delivers such a powerful message. It is not my purpose here to retell her message. I will cover the basics and some highlights, then outline the controversies surrounding her visit to WOFF.
Dr. Kokkonen speaks to what led up to and caused the Holocaust. She does a brief outline of historical time periods and their inclusion of some form of Jew-hatred. She traced the roots of such animus to early periods of Christian theology. As she explained the ideas of early Christians which included: “The Jews killed Jesus, the Jews in essence killed God.” She went on to say that in their thinking what a monumental crime this was and that there was no adequate punishment for this crime. (18.47 minutes in video)
When she said this, I had sudden insight as to why WOFF members in general and Jane Whaley and her leadership specifically, express so much hatred for certain ex-members who tell what happened to them behind the closed doors of WOFF. Either consciously or unconsciously, Jane Whaley is God to the faithful WOFF members. When you tell what Jane really says and how she really acts- you are “killing their Jesus”- you are “killing their God.” When you walk away from their God after having once expressed belief, it is a direct attack at their belief that she is God. After a WOFF member leaves, they just don’t do bad things, they become a bad person- if they honestly talk about WOFF-life.
So, at least some of the irony contained in the whole WOFF studying the Holocaust as a supposed effort to understand the Jewish plight, is reflected in their “Jew-hatred” they express toward ex-WOFF members! They in essence have taken on the Nazi attitude toward former members while at the same time expressing their support of Jews!!?? The shunning and absolute cut-off of former members from their families and friends inside WOFF is because they supposedly “kill their God” and must not be recognized as real people. This practice stands as a glaring testimony to the hypocrisy and religious deception which is essential to the whole WOFF charade. Read this part again.
Let’s review more of the speech of Dr. Kokkonen. She went through a detail time line and pointed out different movements and historical events which led up to the formation and actualization of the killing of Jews in Germany during Hitler’s reign. At about 19 minutes, she began to explain “Replacement theology.” In this theology, Christians believe that the Jews did a poor job as God’s people and Christians were meant to replace them. The more miserable that life became for the Jews, the more it proved God had rejected them. She said we must understand the power of these accusations! I said – Yes! This is very similar to the attitude inside WOFF that the more miserable ex-members’ lives become, the more it proves that God has rejected them! This should be called “WOFF supremacy theology.” Do others agree?
At the end, she made her close pointing out the silent majority in Europe during the Holocaust. Why would people say nothing or even participate in the killing of Jews? She said to be silent was an act of silent collaboration. At about 58 minutes, she began her close by saying that learning about the Holocaust was not meant as just a history lesson, but, the purpose is much wider. She said she felt like God would not ask you what you did during the Holocaust, but, what did you do during you lifetime? The human condition is the same and we need to think where we are now and where we are going to be in the years to come if things don’t change.(paraphrased)
All of her points were well taken and I enjoyed her speech very much. From here, let me outline a few of the conflicts and conundrums I see with her visit.
First, is it not odd that a speaker about the Holocaust would come to a closed meeting, attended by invitation only and speak to a group that internally practices many of the controls that Hitler put in place against the Jews early on in his reign? Is it not a conundrum that Dr. Kokkonen came to speak to a group whose leader claims to be under a Holocaust like attack for her faith, when in fact she is living on a 40 plus acre estate, taking expense vacations and has more clothes that could “cover two city blocks” according to her own words? Has anyone ever seen Jane treated as the Jews in Poland? Does she appear to lack ANYTHING in the ways of essentials like food and water? Does she look like she lives in a concentration camp when she dons her furs and nice shoes? Really?
I feel certain that the group from WOFF that went to Israel recently spent time at Yad Vashem. Maybe it was in order to curry favor and further their own “Holocaust Museum project” which they are soliciting funds for via email from family and friends. Who really knows where those donations will go since Jane does not disclose her finances? Did they tell the speaker about their efforts to raise many thousands of dollars? Did she donate? Will she attend the dedication if indeed the building gets purchased and renovated as Sam and Jane claim they want to do?
Now, let’s address the conflictions and controversies around the sudden turnaround in rhetoric from Jane over the gay issue. According the Michael Gordon’s article from November 17, 2012, found here- http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/11/17/3673039/word-of-faith-fellowship-sees.html# . Excerpt…
“Not all the neighbors are critical. Chris and David, who asked that their last names not be used, are a gay couple who run a retail shop in Rutherford County. They moved from Florida four years ago and say they were surprised by the strong feelings against Word of Faith. After Lowry said Word of Faith had abused him because he is gay, two friends of the shop owners invited them to the church to see for themselves. “They didn’t judge us; they didn’t ostracize us,” David says. “It was truly a wonderful experience.” Soon after, the pair said they went back to the church to share their perspective of faith as gay Christians. Again, they say, the church was open to conversation. “One hundred percent of what we hear comes from what people say they’ve heard or been told,” Chris says. “When we tell them we went there, their eyes get big as pancakes, and they back away.”
We don’t know how many times David and Chris have been to WOFF. But, are we to assume that because of this article and other statements released by WOFF, that now WOFF is gay inclusive? Has Jane changed from what I heard her say, Being homosexual is no worse they smoking… you can get delivered from both.. (paraphrased) Now, she accepts them openly and does not require them to get major deliverance prayer if they want to stay? Maybe Chris and David will be required to submit to deliverance in order to continue? I do not know. We will share more about this couple in future posts.
For now, how do the faithful members feel about the public perception being manipulated to give the impression they are now gay inclusive? How do long time members feel when openly gay men are allowed into the congregation and touted as endorsers for the group? Actually, faithful members will be told what to think.
Did Jane mention any of the recent “attacks” Dr. Kokkonen? How was the information received? Did Jane mention her new gay inclusive attitude in the meeting Wednesday? If so, how was it received?
John, why do you mention this? The reason is that with a simple search, you will find that historically Yad Vashem has NOT been gay inclusive. We do not know the speaker personal feelings on the issue, but, we do know from the article below of the incident in 1994 where Yad Vashem was the scene of a heated controversy over the question. Have things changed? I do not know. Here is the title and link- The New Holocaust History Museum of Yad Vashem and the Commemoration of Homosexuals as Victims of Nazism1 – http://bcrfj.revues.org/255?&id=255
Under Section III- The 1994 Controversy-
In 1994 Keshet Ga’avah, the International LGBT28 Congress organised its annual conference in Tel Aviv. On this particular occasion the Israeli LGBT Agudah, which co-ordinated the conference, organised a commemorative service on Monday 29 May in Ohel Yizkor, « the Tabernacle of Remembrance »29 of Yad Vashem. The ceremony was thus authorised in the presence of 150 members of Keshet Ga’avah. During the celebration, religious extremists close to the Kach30 movement, having been informed about the commemorative service, orchestrated a spontaneous demonstration. Calm could only be restored through the intervention of the police. »
Honestly, I do not know enough about the laws or culture in Israel to have an opinion either way about the events in 1994. The only reason I bring this up is to ask the questions: Will Jane’s present gay inclusive rhetoric cost her favor or standing with the folks at Yad Vashem? How did she explain her recent statements and rework them to fit her needs when talking to Dr. Kokkonen? Was the content of the email from Childers enough to bring up the question and lead to a “new disclosure” from Jane about how she truly feels about the homosexual lifestyle to Dr. Kokkonen? Can you see the irony in the whole situation? If Jane admits one thing behind closed doors and another thing in public- how long will the loyalty and trust of her members last?
All of this confirms my theory developed from my time inside and confirmed by my time outside of WOFF- Outside pressures change inside dynamics for WOFF. Stop and consider the power of that statement.
Thank you, for taking time to visit and read this blog. Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. The author is not a licensed mental health professional and encourages those that need professional help to seek it. The intent of the material is to inform and be a resource. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. There are readers at WOFF. Jane told me. Comments are invited from all readers, including present or former members. Polls are not scientific and no private information is gathered.
Look on the right side of any post for the option to subscribe by email for notifications or RSS feeds notifying of new postings. It is a great feature. Also, find more posts by selecting “Categories”.
Guest posts reflect the opinions of the writers. Their opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of John Huddle or any other persons affiliated with this blog.