AP: Ex-members say church uses power, lies to keep grip on kids… (video)

The Associated Press released another article in their ongoing investigation of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). This account opens with the ordeal which Nancy Burnette went through on a visit to the church. As a court-appointed advocate, she visited the church during a service with her supervisor to check on the two boys in her charge. The AP details the events of that day and her ultimate removal from the case.

“Terrified, Burnette left, but not before promising the boys, ages 4 and almost 2, that she would return — a promise she ultimately could not keep.
“What I didn’t know was how hard Word of Faith would fight — and the tactics they would use — to keep the kids,” Burnette told The Associated Press.”

This scene sets the direction of the article with the following paragraph:

“That was not the only time Word of Faith Fellowship’s leaders and members have used positions of authority, intimidation or deception to bring children into the church’s folds or keep them from leaving — often at Whaley’s behest, according to dozens of interviews and hundreds of pages of court records, police reports and social services documents obtained by the AP.

As a result, children have been introduced to sometimes violent church practices that run counter to the North Carolina laws designed to protect them, the AP found.”

The article goes on to reveal the plight of three single mothers who were approached by WOFF member Laura Bridges- then a clerk at the Rutherford County courthouse. The AP writes that Mrs. Bridges “bypassed the foster system and eventually won permanent custody of their children, even though a judge called the clerk’s conduct inappropriate. Two of the mothers said the clerk approached them and offered to temporarily keep the children while they served their jail time.”

Let me stop right here and mention the effect reading this article and watching the video included below has had on me. These adoptions occurred while I was inside WOFF. As regular members, we were fed the sanitized version of this whole process and certainly had no access to the court documents. As a faithful member, we believed these children needed to be “in the will of God.” Several of us helped make Laura and Jim Bridge’s house ready for the inspection from social services. The thought that these children were being swept into an abusive environment never crossed my mind- then. Now I know how information managed and hindered we were from seeing the larger picture. We only knew what we were told. Yes, we saw the children having problems at times, but we believed they were in a better place by being at WOFF. If we didn’t believe that – we would have to exit the group. Many of us have done just that- left the confines of WOFF.

In response to the allegations included in this article and the conclusions of the AP:

A lawyer for Whaley, Noell Tin, disputed the AP’s conclusions.

“The notion that church members separate children from their parents at Ms. Whaley’s urging is preposterous,” he said. “The idea that a thriving and diverse church like the Word of Faith Fellowship functions in this manner is an insult to its members.” Noell P. Tin: bio here.

Where is Josh Farmer? Has he fallen from Jane’s favor? How is WOFF paying all these new attorney fees? Fund raisers? Pass the plates again, get your snack after church and your car washed this Saturday?

This installment has video of former members Shana Muse, Suzanne Cooper, Brent Johnston; as well as Keela Blanton and Nancy Burnette. The video is emotional and moving.

There is no way to use this brief recap and include all the vital information which is provided. Please, take time to read it, watch the videos and listen to the audio of Jane Whaley. Your understanding of the measures Jane and her leadership will go to in order to fulfill their lifestyle choices will no doubt increase. You will be amazed, shocked and yet saddened at the same time. This is information you should share with friends, neighbors and anyone who lives in Rutherford or Cleveland County.
Associated Press – article on the restrictions on the local authorities in investigating claims of abuse at WOFF.

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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 and Josh confirmed it.

Comments are invited from all readers, including present or former members. Polls are not scientific and no private information is gathered.

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Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, for posts written by John Huddle, any information about WOFF is from his memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be.

Scripture references are Amplified Version unless otherwise noted.

(Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation ) This is post number 622.

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