Category Archives: WOFF Updates

What is in the 16 seconds cut from the WOFF radio program?

Late Monday evening, a former member brought it to my attention that the WCAB 590 AM version of the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) Speaks Out program and the version for that day listed on the WOFF website were different. Sandra Norris’ reference to the Matthew Fenner case was deleted from the WOFF version. I thanked this person and began looking for myself. Sure enough, if you open two browser sessions and turn on closed captions and turn off the volume, you will be able to notice the edit. It is a pretty good edit. In times past, WOFF edits in their videos were more obvious.

So, I double checked the length of the WOFF version and the WCAB version– well, what do you know? The WOFF version is about 16 seconds shorter. What could they be hiding as they “give truth” about what Jim Bishop of WCAB characterizes as the “nasty” reports in the media? So, I used a split screen and allowed the two different versions to play alternately until I found the edit.

In the WCAB version, when the on screen timer shows 1:47.44, you hear Sandra Norris say this: “… responsible before God and I have seen I you know even another court case that was going on with the Fenner case, I was there, I know truth. I’m just appalled because my students can tell you Revelation 21:8, there will be no liars in heaven. And I all I want to do is be a blessing to people…” The timer shows 1:48.00 as she says this. Continue reading What is in the 16 seconds cut from the WOFF radio program?

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Did Sandra Norris violate the gag order over the Fenner case?

June 6th of 2017, Judge Gary Gavenus filed an Order in the State of North Carolina versus Brooke Covington trial. The Order declared a mistrial because of documents introduced into the jury room which “tainted the integrity of the verdict.” The Order also recognized the need to “protect the integrity of the trial for the State, the Defendant as well as her co-defendants.” The Court imposed a gag order over several groups of individuals including the jury, attorneys involved and those listed on the “State And Defendant Witness List.” Sandra Norris was included on that list.

Brooke Covington was standing trial based on indictments handed down in January 2015. The charges of simple assault and second degree kidnapping stem from events inside the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) sanctuary on January 27, 2013 in which Matthew Fenner alleges he was beaten and held against his will. Four other defendants in the case include Sarah Anderson, Justin Covington, Robert Louis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley. Ms. Covington is the only defendant to stand trial so far in this drawn out case.

The gag order was modified in October of 2017 to allow the State Bureau of Investigation access to the sealed documents and set March 31, 2018 as an expiration date for the entire order.

Wednesday, Sandra Norris spoke on the WOFF radio show on WCAB 590 AM. WOFF takes to the air waves Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8:30AM. For those not in the immediate listening area, WCAB uploads their streamed version of the show- most days. Continue reading Did Sandra Norris violate the gag order over the Fenner case?

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2017 – A year to remember…

Hands for Hope
Hands for Hope and Action

During 2017, many new people became aware of the ongoing, complex and often surreal drama which surrounds Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). This is a good reason to recap several important events which happened that brought much more attention to the often secretive and closed “church” in Spindale NC.

Starting February 27th, the Associated Press released the first of several articles which detailed abuses inside of WOFF. “Ex-congregants reveal years of ungodly abuse…” These accounts came from 43 survivors who lived inside WOFF and subsequently left at different times. The testimonials covered by this release and the subsequent articles throughout the year, resulted in a proverbial ongoing “indictment hearing” for the WOFF leadership as well as several local and State officials. The AP’s site (here) serves as the central hub for the many articles, videos and audio files unveiled after almost two years of investigation. The information gleaned from survivor accounts, court documents, recordings and intense research served to alert government officials and thus open several investigations into possible abuses, instances of fraud and wrong doings by WOFF in the United States and Brazil.

March 6th – “Ex-sect members tell AP: Prosecutors obstructed abuse cases“- was the next release which told of meetings inside Jane Whaley’s office where two members who served as Assistant District Attorneys in Burke County were involved in coaching members how to answer questions posed by various investigators. Also, present in these sessions was a church member who served as a social worker in Cleveland County. Not long after the AP release, Frank Webster and Chris Back were no longer employed as Assistant District Attorneys and Lori Cornelius decided to leave her position as a social worker for Cleveland County. Continue reading 2017 – A year to remember…

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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.”

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

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Fenner Case Update: Walker Trial Continued and Gag Order Modified

What does this all mean?

Rccatalyst.com reported the continuance of the Robert Louis Walker trial earlier in October. A date for the trial to begin was not set. The reason given was “new discovery.” Translated this means new evidence. Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers agreed to the continuance and one has to interpret from that notion that the “new discovery” held some weight and potential effect on the pending trial, possibly a good thing in the long run (longer than ever anticipated).

For background: these ongoing court proceedings stem from incidents on January 27, 2013 in the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) sanctuary in which Matthew Fenner alleges he was assaulted, held against his will and strangled. The indictments handed down in January 2015 were filed against Brooke M. Covington, Sarah Anderson, Justin Covington, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley- all church members at the time of the incidents. After many pre-trial motions during 2015 which included a disqualification of Farmer and Morris as counsel for any of the defendants, Brooke Covington’s trial commenced earlier this year. During the June 6th session, unauthorized documents introduced into the jury room by the jury foreman caused Judge Gavenus to declare a mistrial. In addition, he followed this with a gag order on those involved in that trial either as potential witnesses, attorneys and court officials. The jury foreman, Perry Shade, spent 30 days in jail and was fined $500.00. The Associated Press filed suit to remove the gag order.

Rccatalyst.com also reported Judge Gary Gavenus finally ruled on the gag order he imposed in June. In court documents provided on the Rccatalytst.com website, Judge Gavenus modifies the order to allow the jurors to talk freely to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). He orders the sealed documents surrounding the trial and the documents introduced to the jury held and viewed only by the SBI. He states he never intended the gag order to be permanent and set it to expire on March 31, 2018. Included in the documents is a line by line account of the conversations during the session on June 6th. I found this very satisfying and was glad to know the public could get some understanding for how this all evolved in court. The AP’s motion to immediately lift the gag order was unsuccessful.
Continue reading Fenner Case Update: Walker Trial Continued and Gag Order Modified

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Fenner Update: Bartley Trial Date Moved, Walker Trial set for October 23rd

Buncombe County Courthouse Entrance

Following the predictably unpredictable theme, on Wednesday of this week, Brian Oglesby filed a Motion to Withdraw as counsel for Adam Bartley. Attorney Thomas Amburgey filed a Notice of Appearance to represent Bartley and a Motion for Continuance. Judge Marvin Pope scheduled a hearing on the Motion for Continuance for Friday at 2:00PM, in the Buncombe County courtroom on the ninth floor.

This development came less than two weeks before the trial for Adam Bartley was set to start on October 23rd. The Rccatalyst.com reported this update on Thursday with several documents provided in the article to show the steps leading up to Friday’s hearing.

These proceedings stem from incidents on January 27, 2013 in the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) sanctuary in which Matthew Fenner alleges he was assaulted, held against his will and strangled. The indictments handed down in January 2015 were against Brooke M. Covington, Sarah Anderson, Justin Covington, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley. After many pre-trial motions which included a disqualification of Farmer and Morris as counsel for any of the defendants, Brooke Covington’s trial commenced earlier this year. Unauthorized documents introduced into the jury room by the jury foreman caused Judge Gavenus to declare a mistrial followed by a gag order on those involved in that trial. The jury foreman also spent 30 days in jail and was fined $500.00. The Associated Press filed suit to remove the gag order. To date, the gag order remains in place and blocking investigators from performing any inquiries into the jury foreman’s actions.
Continue reading Fenner Update: Bartley Trial Date Moved, Walker Trial set for October 23rd

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AP- Church stoked tithing with unemployment scam, ex-members say

The next article released early this morning (here) in the ongoing investigative series from the Associated Press into Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) reveals a level of conniving and deception which causes me to shake my head in amazement and disgust. This account from ex-members outlines a premeditated fraud of a government program meant to help people who meet with temporary unemployment is shocking and sickening.

The scheme to have church members report themselves as unemployed and yet still be employed by companies owned by church leaders took a level of agreement and orchestration from the top leader, Jane Whaley, down the chain of command and influence. She convinced many of her leadership into compromising known laws and ethical standards of business in order to support her lifestyle through the resulting tithes and offerings which were under her total control. The glaring motive of personal enrichment cannot be ignored nor will it surprise those who have spent time as members of WOFF.

From the article:

“When Randy Fields’ construction company faced potential ruin because of the cratering economy, he pleaded with his pastor at Word of Faith Fellowship church to reduce the amount of money he was required to tithe every week.

To his shock, Fields said church founder Jane Whaley proposed a divine plan that would allow him to continue tithing at least 10 percent of his income to the secretive evangelical church while helping his company survive: He would file fraudulent unemployment claims on behalf of his employees. She called it, he said, “God’s plan.”

Please, understand the dynamics here. Randy and his family had been a part of WOFF for over 20 years. He had seen the results for those who choose to refuse Jane’s rendering of “God’s plan.” He explains-

“The price of the refusal, Fields said, could be beatings administered by fellow church members and public shaming by Whaley. The church also might mandate that he be cut off from any contact with his family, he said.”

Allow me to stop here and express my gratitude from all of the ex-members mentioned in this article. It takes courage to expose things done while a member of WOFF which may have crossed the edge into possible illegal activities. Each person faced a fearful decision to obey or lose all. Additional fear of telling the hidden secrets of WOFF had to be conquered or acknowledged.

Randy, “”I’m not proud of what I did, but I have to make this right,”…
Continue reading AP- Church stoked tithing with unemployment scam, ex-members say

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