Tag Archives: Jane Whaley

AP: US church goes to Brazil; instills fear, splits families

In light of the most recent Associated Press release- “US church goes to Brazil; instills fear, splits families – I believe it is appropriate to repost this review titled: “More Thoughts on WOFF and Brazil” from August of 2010. (click “back” button to return here)

The lead paragraph from this article:

SAO JOAQUIM DE BICAS, BRAZIL (AP) — At the Word of Faith Fellowship churches in the Brazilian cities of Sao Joaquim de Bicas and Franco da Rocha, the signs of broken families are everywhere: parents separated from their children, siblings who no longer speak, grandparents who wonder if they will ever know their grandchildren.

This AP release goes on to chronicle the process of WOFF taking the practice of destroying families from North Carolina to Brazil. The Brazilian churches have become a sad reflection of WOFF NC. Jane Whaley’s ministry of destruction and pain has indeed transferred its dark stain seen and felt in America to Brazil.

Read the post below and note the heartache and angst. The WOFF-effect on families is real. It is indeed an international travesty.

On a personal note, my daughter is expecting or has already delivered her child this month. I am one who wonders if I will ever know my grandson…

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Jane Whaley and her crew from Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) have been making trips to Brazil for many years. The first time I knew about the trips was in 1992. At that time, I heard about previous trips in previous years made by members of the Greenville church traveling with WOFF members to Brazil for seminars. There was always a certain mystique associated with the trips and the privilege of going to help the Brazilian church members. During the early years, those who did not go to Brazil would hear about shopping trips to rock shops and eating at Brazilian restaurants.  The seminars would also include many deliverance sessions and teachings about WOFF ways and WOFF life. Many of the teachings were about “hearing God” as Jane or certain others would speak, with Jane’s approval. For sure, the church members in Brazil would emulate WOFF members and end up copying many of the WOFF ways and in order to live in WOFFness.

   Since my time at WOFF ended in July of 2008, I have heard several accounts of WOFF doings that as a member inside of WOFF, we just did not learn about. Why would that be? A few months ago, someone began to let me know about things happening in Brazil. At first, I was shocked. But, as I considered what I knew has/had happened in America over the whole WOFF saga, it all began to make sense. What I will share here is from a translated email sent to me from Brazil. The names of the church members affected are not the key part of this story. The key thing about the scenario of events is to note the strange and sad similarity to previous events here in North Carolina and/or in other states caught in the WOFF-web.

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AP: Brazilians funneled as “slaves” by US church, ex-members say

For years, the smoke and mirrors used by Jane Whaley and her leadership at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) has created an aura of deception, filled with misstatements and euphemistic renaming of their practices. Screaming is called prayer, verbal and physical abuse is called “love.” Private sexual relations between and husband and wife are not private, but are regulated by church leadership to “keep out the unclean.” Members are prohibited from free access to news sources including radio, television, newspapers and computers because they are “not able to hear God and stand against the devil.” Unpaid forced and coerced labor is called “volunteer work.” These highly restrictive church practices equate to “walking in God’s ways with God’s people.”

Now the individuals damaged from the years of chicanery are speaking out. The latest installment of the Associated Press’ ongoing in-depth investigation has been released. The long needed reporting of the secretive church practices is clearing the smoke of confusion and angst which hangs thick over Old Flynn Road. There, the church compound serves as the hub of the WOFF-kingdom in the sad ongoing saga of abuses revealed by the AP. The aim is not only for the souls of the members, but this report reveals the aim is to capture “slaves,” laborers- mostly unpaid to work at the church or school or for businesses owned by church leaders, as well as in their homes.

The AP report: This link has the full text, pictures and video. (click icons bottom right of image)

“When Andre Oliveira answered the call to leave his Word of Faith Fellowship congregation in Brazil to move to the mother church in North Carolina at the age of 18, his passport and money were confiscated by church leaders – for safekeeping, he said he was told.
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Who is rubbing her feet now?

Is it true? A good foot rub takes the stress away from aching feet. Surely it does. Consider this from two survivors of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) talking about their experience rubbing Jane Whaley’s feet.

A few years ago, a survivor told me in casual conversation that they rubbed Jane Whaley’s feet at her beck and call. I just listened and asked few questions. Looking back, I should have asked better questions. This individual did not present their participation in rubbing Jane’s feet as voluntary. Like many things inside WOFF, this was “ministry.” Who cares if you want to or that is late at night and you are tired? This person gave me the idea they just did it because they had to. It did not seem truly voluntary.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I am talking to another survivor. Out of the blue, they tell me they were also commissioned to rub Jane’s feet. At any time, they were subject to a call for foot ministry. To the point, they had blisters on their hands. Yikes! I also detected a forced submission – no genuine willingness- just duty.

The names of these two survivors is not important or my focus. My point is the attitude in common with both- each not knowing the other had told me their foot ministry story. There was no pre-planned coordination. Knowing that part of the scene brings more clarity for me. The glaring common trait in both cases was the feigned forced affection to give the illusion of willingness to perform the task. If this task was glamorized as “ministry,” then what else inside WOFF is classified as ministry? What other “labors” are classified as ministry and require an appearance of submission, all the while the member is churning inside?
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Fenner Case takes a turn… July 17th next court date

moon plant
moon plant

As I sit here surveying the latest round of Motions and Orders in the Matthew Fenner case, I can’t help but wonder where the road will lead us. Where will this path that began in 1979 by Sam and Jane Whaley take us as a community and as a group of survivors, where will it end? Will it ever end? Will the destructive dynamics set in motion so many years ago, which have been allowed to strengthen and fester in a small community in Western North Carolina ever come to a conclusion? Does the winding journey have a happy ending for anyone?

This journey begun with possibly good intentions includes people from several countries and many members hailing from various parts of the United States. On this day when we are to celebrate the freedom afforded us by our Constitution and upheld by our strength as a nation; we are experiencing and witnessing a court case unfold which includes allegations of intimidation and fear, along with testimonies and evidence which any sane person would agree do not signify a healthy religious environment.

A survey of the history of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) includes episodes of religious abuse, political and community scandal, physical and emotional abuse, financial doubts and many court cases full of legal wrangling. A journey of over thirty years has touched so many lives in on several continents in such negative ways. I do not believe what we see as the practices included in the WOFF subculture were ones our forefathers intended to protect when they declared “freedom of religion.”
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Fenner Update: Defense Calls No Witnesses, Case Goes to the Jury

Today’s testimony by State witness Rachel Bryant confirmed the meeting held at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Jane Whaley’s office as attended by several church member attorneys with the purpose of coordinating and coaching a strategy to counteract the charges filed in this case. The list of attendees sounded more extensive to me and I believe had an effect on what occurred later in the day. Ms. Bryant was the second witness in this trial to tell of the gathering, however, she did not attend the follow-up meeting in the sanctuary outlined in earlier testimony by Sarah Anderson.

The State also called a man who worked as a Detective Special Agent for the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) in 1995, Mr. Shook. He was present during the March 1995 interview of Brooke Covington and relayed information from that investigation. That session centered on an incident from 1988 where WOFF members were involved in restraining a lady to a bed for 13 days for an extended “deliverance” session. Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers said the purpose for introducing the testimony was to affirm that when Brooke told Matthew, ‘You are going nowhere until these devils come out, I don’t care if I takes three days,’- she meant it.

After much discussion between Byers and Teddy over Rule 44-B, Judge Gavenus disallowed the admission of Det. Shook’s testimony and the jury never heard about the 1995 SBI investigation into WOFF from which then District Attorney Jeff Hunt decided not to pursue charges.

In retrospect, if Hunt had pursued charges in 1995, whether convictions were obtained or not; is it possible we would not have had the countless lives negatively affected by WOFF over the years since and the incidents involving today’s case never would have occurred? We will never know for certain. At a minimum, the evolution for “blasting prayer” to become “more and more aggressive over the last 16 years…” as Sarah Anderson testified during trial– may have been avoided. The entire WOFF subculture could have taken on a different nature- a healthier one. (Sigh)
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Brooke the Bounty Hunter?

Rose in Low Light
Rose of the Day

Have you heard the saying, “Old habits die hard”? Friday afternoon we saw evidence of that very thing. At the end of Danielle Cordes’ testimony on re-cross, Attorney David Teddy appeared to be done with his questions. Before he acknowledged his ending to the court; he turned to Brooke to check to see if she had any further questions. After all, if he had missed some elusive jewel of knowledge which may help his client, he did not want to waste the moment.

The questions offered by Brooke appeared as simple questions to the unlearned. What was the most important thing on Brooke’s mind during a trial in which the verdict could alter her future in ways unknown? What was most pressing to take up court time during a day when the secrets of what happens behind the lily white doors had been revealed during sworn testimony? What was at the forefront of her cortex?

The questions she passed to Teddy were about Danielle’s brother, Steven. Do you know where your brother Steven lives? Danielle answered, “No, Sir.” Have you talked to your brother other than when he left a few weeks ago? “No, Sir”, she answered again.

Knowing the backstory reveals possible motive for Brooke to ask “bounty hunter” questions. Danielle’s younger brother, Steven, did leave Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) a few weeks ago. Then he returned. Turns out, he was in a WOFF-relationship with a young lady church member whose father has been head of the not so friendly security team. Let’s just say his performance on that team has been “electrifying.”

Friday afternoon, Steven was “in his place” at WOFF. However, there must have been some doubts in Brooke’s mind. Being a practiced retriever of members who try to escape, the questions she had Teddy ask Danielle were assessing potential exit routes should Steven and his lady friend make a break for freedom. Right she was.
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Fenner Case Update- Three Witnesses Testify for the State

At the close of Friday’s session, Judge Gary Gavenus announced with a smile that the jury was excused for the weekend recess. After two full days of witness testimony on behalf of the prosecution in the Matthew Fenner case, he ended with the often repeated precautions for the jury to not expose themselves to outside sources of information including news media, Internet or social media. He added they were not to talk to each other, family or anyone else about the case in any manner. His instructions were firm, but laced with an underlying tone of respect and consideration for the fourteen individuals who answered the call for this jury session.

This has been a full week as several Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) members, former church members, press correspondents and supporters endured two full days to select the needed jurors. After the last alternate juror was selected and the Judge gave the jury instructions; Matthew Fenner was the first witness called for the State on Thursday. He testified the rest of the day. As a result of each potential witness being sequestered (not present in the courtroom during any testimony of other witnesses), the gallery was less full than in the previous two days.

In an attempt to time my arrival, I missed the first part of Matthew’s testimony which included his description of the events of January 27, 2013. I was told by one who heard it; they believed it was emotional and impactful. I have not doubt. The part of Matthew’s testimony outlining the events leading up to his escape is where my notes start.
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