Tag Archives: Jane Whaley

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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Audio Resource Round-up – John Cooper, Mitch Weiss, John Huddle

Everyone is busy and may not have the time to experience all the different resources on the unfolding drama surrounding Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). Also, I know there are folks who just recently started following this story. 2017 has been a year full of new information from the Associated Press, updates on the Matthew Fenner case; including some survivors sharing their individual stories through different media channels.

This post includes three audio resources which you may have missed. First, we have a two-part podcast featuring John Cooper’s story. Even after living inside WOFF for years, I was captivated by John’s narrative. Within the first two minutes of Part 1, he describes a confession session where he is thrown to the floor and “…it all becomes a blur…” “…this guy is sitting on my legs and punching me in the chest…”
Continue reading Audio Resource Round-up – John Cooper, Mitch Weiss, John Huddle

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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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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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Fenner case-Predictably Unpredictable, Trials Moved to Buncombe County

Rccatalyst.com reported earlier this week concerning the hearing held on Monday, September 11, 2017. Judge Marvin pope allowed Robert Denton to withdraw as counsel for Adam Bartley. Public defender, Brian Oglesby was assigned to represent Bartley. Also, Judge Pope requested a hearing which was held today to rule on the Motion for Change of Venue for the defendants in the ongoing saga – the Matthew Fenner case.

This case stems from incidents on January 27, 2013 in which Fenner alleges he was beaten and strangled during a blasting deliverance prayer session inside the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) sanctuary. Five indictments against former and present members have been the subject of a rolling sea of pretrial motions, appeals, a disqualification of counsel and a mistrial. The mistrial occurred this past June in the trial of Brooke Covington. Presiding Judge Gavenous placed a gag order which still impedes the investigation into the mechanics on how unauthorized documents were delivered into the jury room and subsequently lead to the declaration of a mistrial. The jury foreman spent 30 days in jail and was fined $500 for the conduct.

The list of defendants includes Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley. The charges include first degree assault and second degree kidnapping for all, as well as the charge of inflicting injury by strangulation against Sarah Anderson.

Today’s hearing was short and to the point. I learned that Judge Pope requested Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers to draw up and order which moves four of the cases to Buncombe County. Brooke Covington’s case was not moved at this time, though her counsel, David Teddy was in court today. Byers will coordinate with the District Attorney’s office in Buncombe County to obtain court dates. Judge Pope was very deliberate and forthright after hearing statements from a few of the counselors in this case.
Continue reading Fenner case-Predictably Unpredictable, Trials Moved to Buncombe County

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Hurricane Irma and the Matthew Fenner Case

What do Hurricane Irma and the Matthew Fenner case have in common? Predictable unpredictability.

Weather predictors do their job with computer models and the circumstances as they unfold, attempting to predict the course and strength of this massive storm which did not followed the earlier predictions. Early predictions had the storm following a similar course as Hurricane Matthew from last year, along the east side of Florida. This did not happen. We hear statements now saying parts of the predictions came true while others did not. Weather prognostications are just that- best guesses.

In January 2015, if a legal prognosticator had attempted to predict the course and time frame that the Matthew Fenner case would take to complete, how accurate would they have been? There have been twists, turns and flips in the course of the prosecution of five defendants from Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) which I doubt anyone could have foreseen.

The Rccatalyst.com recently published a updated timeline of the events surrounding this case. This case involves events from January 27, 2013 in the sanctuary of WOFF where in Matthew Fenner alleges he was beaten and held against his will because he was gay. Indictments for first degree assault and second degree kidnapping were handed down in January 2015 against Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley. An additional charge of inflicting injury by strangulation was filed against Sarah Anderson.
Continue reading Hurricane Irma and the Matthew Fenner Case

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