Tag Archives: Jill Rose

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.
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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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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.”
Continue reading Fenner Case takes a turn… July 17th next court date

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