Several events have colored this year with surprise and even shock. Unfortunately, the conclusion of the Matthew Fenner case has not been one of them. We roll our hopes forward to 2017. The next step in the process will be this Thursday, December 8th.
Rccatalyst.com recently reported the notice filed by Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers requesting four of the five defendants to appear and address pre-trial motions. Adam Bartley’s attorney, Robert Denton will not be available for the hearing and was not listed in the announcement.
This case stems from events of January 27, 2013 inside the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). Matthew alleges during a session of blasting deliverance prayer he was held against his will and assaulted including an attempt to strangle him. This form of prayer has been a controversial signature practice of WOFF since its inception over thirty years ago. Continue reading Hearing Set in Matthew Fenner Case –Dec. 8th→
Let’s admit we are glad the voting cycle of the presidential election is over. We wait for the electors to cast their votes on December 19th to make it official. This was by far the most vicious political season of my lifetime. I don’t recall the numbers of controversies, accusations and mud-slinging which the voters and non-voters witnessed this year.
The results left several experts scratching their heads in total bewilderment. In order to make sense of the results of the presidential race, pundits, reporters and politicians have given their assessments. Tonight, my phone was pounded by text after text of friends making sure I saw the following article. The picture told the story, but not the one the reporter wrote.
Jenny Kutner opinion piece on mic.com titled, “Female misogynists were Trump’s most crucial ally” includes a picture of several WOFF women in front of the crowd at a Trump rally. The trance-like look on their faces told part of the story to Ms. Kutner. I will recap her opinion piece and give “the rest of the story.”
The concept of a person being “radicalized,” becoming a “radical” and the process of radicalization have all been in the news lately as the world deals with new terror threats almost daily. What does it mean to become “radicalized” or go through a “radicalization” process? The concept of radical includes when a person becomes a) very different from the usual or traditional; b) favoring extreme changes in views, habits, conditions, or institutions; c) associated with political views, practices or policies of extreme change. (here)
There are so many aspects of this question to consider. I will not attempt a comprehensive discussion of the term “radical” or radicalization” as it pertains to today’s world, but will limit this post to the question, “Are WOFF members “radicalized?” Allow me share my first remembrance of the term as it applied to my religious experience- years before Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF).
During my childhood and teenage years, my family attended a Methodist church. It was considered mainline, conservative during those years. After leaving home, I chose an informal non-denominational church. On occasion, while attending that church, the concept of being a “radical Christian” was mentioned. Looking back, I took it to mean following the rules for behavior which were instilled in me as a child and adding to them other things such as being aware of the music I listened to, the movies I watched, the places I went for entertainment, etc. In other words, I started taking the Bible as a guide for my life. That is what being “radical” meant to me then.
Today, after living several years at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), I see the former concept as not very “radical” at all. Life before WOFF was not radical compared to life inside WOFF. Life before included a devotion to God out of a sense of respect and a freedom to accept, delay or even reject a suggested interpretation of the Bible which required a change in conduct. In other words, I still had free-will. I believe the concept of retaining one’s free will in the exercise of religion is very traditional. Do you agree? Continue reading Are WOFF Members “Radicalized?” (Video)→
On Sunday, I received a text saying Jane Whaley had her picture on page 16 of the New York Times. What? Details were not forthcoming and my efforts to find the treasure online proved fruitless. I refused to become a subscriber in order to possibly see Jane’s picture. Nope. This treasure will have to wait.
Monday, my search efforts were rewarded differently. There it was in an article titled- “Electoral Map Gives Donald Trump Few Places to Go.” by Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman. The picture shows Jane Whaley, Leigh Valentine, Sam Whaley easily recognized. Also, with additional examination you see Frank Webster behind Sam and Josh Farmer to Sam’s right with his head down. I wonder if Robin Webster is standing to Frank’s left. Were there other members of the Trump groupies from WOFF? The caption did not list the names of course and it was taken a few days ago at a Trump Rally in Winston Salem, NC.
And yet my thoughts raced. What? Jane is not the center piece of the article? I was confused. There was not even mention of her efforts to promote Holocaust education with her traveling “Holocaust Museum”? No mention of her thriving Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, NC; a growing, loving, caring group of non-denominational Christians who endure “persecution” for exercising their religious freedoms? No mention. Not even a speck of ink about her Word of Faith Christian School and their academic superiority which every student exhibits (with a little help). Continue reading Jane Whaley Featured in the New York Times? Really?→
Earlier this week, a source not close to the case informed me that the status conference scheduled for July 29th has been postponed. After verifying the change with additional sources, it was learned that Judge Pope could not be present for the hearing. No subsequent date for this hearing is known at this time.
Let’s not be too concerned. This case will be heard. It may not be in the time frame that many desire or with procedures we are all familiar with; but the charges against Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr and Adam Bartley will be resolved. Matthew Fenner will have an answer as to the charges filed over the incident on January 27, 2013 in the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF).
The signature practice of loud prayer and deliverance from WOFF may be on demonstration in the Rutherford County courtroom before these cases are complete. Okay, that will be the day for any and all who are curious to pack the courtroom and witness the controversial “secretive practice” which has been a lightning rod for controversy since 1995 when Inside Edition showed video taken inside WOFF. How can we forget? Why should we ignore it?
When all is said and done with this case, there will be a judgment handed down by proxy on WOFF, loud deliverance prayer and the ministry of Jane Whaley and her top leadership. Yes, five individuals are charged with various levels of crimes, but in the end — Jane Whaley is on trial and she knows it.
Just today, I am being told that “things inside Word of Faith Fellowship have changed!”
Okay, let’s break this down. The answer to the question is either “yes” things have changed or “no” things have not changed. What did the person mean by “things”? One thing at time, John! Oh, the hopes of many may rise and fall on this news.
“Things” in the context as it was relayed to me meant the controls have lessened. IF that is a correct interpretation of the meaning, then we have mixed emotions. We have reason for concern and reason for joy. Joy because many of us still have relatives in the mind-bending clutch of the large sucking black hole known as WOFF. Concern because some may be duped to count the wisp of change as lasting or reaching down into the very foundation of the leader – Jane Whaley. Let me explain.
Anyone looking honestly into the subculture admits there are layers of control and they apply differently to different folks. The person exclaiming the changes was not fully connected into the daily doings and goings of the group, NOT a member for any length of time. This person had in fact been shunned by the group and is now in an “unshunned” position. So, the validity of their observation becomes suspect. But, for the sake of this post, let’s say their notions are evident in some fashion. Maybe the list of detailed controls and required behaviors has lessened or softened in enforcement. Continue reading Have things changed at WOFF?→
Late Friday, sources close to the Matthew Fenner case confirmed the hearing set for June 6th has been postponed. No confirmed date for rescheduling is available at this time. Possible reasons for the postponement include Judge Pope having an unexpected scheduling conflict.
The hearing on Monday would have been the first in this case since August of last year. Five defendants, who were at the time of the alleged incidents members of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), face varied charges including second degree kidnapping, simple assault and one for assault by strangulation. These defendants are Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, JR. and Adam Bartley.
Matthew Fenner alleges that on January 27, 2013, he was assaulted in the sanctuary of WOFF during a “deliverance” session. The five defendants were named and indicted in December 2014 after an initial hearing. Once the new District Attorney Ted Bell took office in January 2015, he set aside those indictments amid rumors of improper procedures and possible witness tampering and presented the evidence to a second grand jury. This session secured for the State a set of indictments which Bell described as clean true bills of indictment. [ Timeline for this case – here.] Continue reading June 6th Hearing for Fenner Case Delayed→