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The Way celebrates 73rd anniversary of … ?

?
Charlene’s unanswered letter to The Way International

Breaking news. This report takes priority over my Italy Part II post. Read further to understand why.

Happy anniversary to The Way International after 73 years of promoting itself as a biblical research, teaching, and fellowship ministry. Wow. Your leaders, some well-meaning, must be thrilled to continue Victor Paul Wierwille’s legacy into the twenty-first century. When I left in 1987 (I was involved 1970 – 1987) I did not think The Way would last this long.

Talk about salesmanship. Talk about surviving lawsuits. Talk about winning back non-profit status from the IRS. Talk about covering up Wierwille’s plagiarism, as in copying J.E. Stiles book about the Holy Spirit. Talk about all the people who Victor Paul Wierwille (first president) and Craig Martindale (second president) and other leaders abused in more ways than one.

Oh, my mistake. The Way does not talk about those things.

What they do talk about is their fabulous Victor Paul Wierwille auditorium where, on October 4, 2015, they had a celebratory service to tout 73 years of staying in business. The Sidney Daily Herald graciously accommodated their public relations department, no doubt, by publishing their press release on October 14, 2015. Thanks to Google alerts, I got the heads-up today about The Way’s birthday party. Looks like a very orderly and dignified service. Appears on the up ‘n up. Appears.

The newspaper article

The Way celebrates 73 years of what? Well, the Sidney, Ohio daily newspaper politely and uncritically and un-investigative-journalistically reported:

“NEW KNOXVILLE — This year marks the 73rd anniversary of The Way International biblical research, teaching and fellowship ministry.

A celebration was held on Sunday, Oct. 4, at The Way International Headquarters, located in New Knoxville. Guests joined the Rev. Rosalie F. Rivenbark, chairman of the board and president of The Way International, and other members of the Board of Directors, senior officers, trustee household, staff, and in-residence Way Corps for the teaching service in the Victor Paul Wierwille Prevailing Word Auditorium.

Over 1,500 celebrators gathered from 202 cities in the United States, Canada, Chile and Ecuador. Others listened in via teleconference from meeting locations around the world, including 26 international countries representing six continents, from as far away as Japan and New Zealand…”

Question

Why does The Way not broadcast its founding president’s name on their home page? You must search deep into the site to find where they give him any credit under “The Way International Research Books” in a section of the Bookstore page.

Recently, I mailed The Way a letter and asked some reasonable questions, like what qualifications they have for doing biblical research. To date, they have ignored my letter. Or maybe they lost it. It’s been nearly two months and no word has come to my mailbox. I included a self-addressed stamped envelope, but alas my postage seems to have been wasted.

Charlene’s letter of inquiry

The letter in the photo may be hard to read, so here is what it says:

To whom it may concern:

I am wondering about the biblical research that is mentioned on your website. On the Research page, it says there are many keys, including “knowing how to find the accuracy of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts” and that “our ministry provides these keys for those who want to know.”

Does this mean you have classes in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic?

If so, who teaches them and what are their credentials?

What are the keys to finding “the accuracy” of these texts?

Do you have a biblical research department? If so, what do they do?

My last question: your website says The Way was founded in 1942, yet you do not state the founder’s name, Victor Paul Wierwille, which is easily found on the internet. Do you have any explanation for this important omission?

To facilitate your response, I’ve included a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Thank you very much,

Charlene L. Edge

Who cares about 73 years of The Way?

Thousands of us care. Thousands of Wierwille’s former followers, now disillusioned, damaged, and/or otherwise hurt from spending the years of their youth, donating their money, volunteering their talents and their energy to the purposes of a destructive cult called, The Way International, care. We care because some people even died under the influence of twisted Way beliefs. A whole bunch of us care a whole lot!

We do care. We do not want another person to donate another dime to The Way. We work to deter anyone from getting involved with the organization, which MANY of us consider a destructive cult. Refer to my posts like, The Camouflage of Cults.

Witnesses of The Way’s destructive influence

I spent 17 in service to a mirage called “the accuracy of The Word.” If only I’d done a little homework, say about N.T. history, I might have spared myself some grief. And some homework about cult leaders and their tactics would have helped.

Check out books like Karl Kahler’s The Cult That Snapped: A Journey Inside The Way International. 1999.

Read the heartbreaking memoir, Losing The Way, by Kristen Skedgell, a victim of Wierwille’s sexual exploitations. 2008.

Then, check out the website, www.greasespotcafe.com where thousands who have been impacted by Way leaders and their twisted lifestyles and beliefs seek understanding…and understandably they naturally do a lot of venting.

Okay, that’s enough, Charlene.

See you next time!

P.S. This post was edited August 21, 2016 to correct a statement that The Way did not mention VP Wierwille on its website. I could not find any mention of him when I wrote this post. I have since. My apologies …

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16 Responses

  1. Janice
    |

    I so support your efforts to turn the spotlight on this awful cult. I’m stunned that they’ve persisted to this day! Although I shouldn’t be. So happy you’re permanently out of their clutches.

    • Charlene Edge
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      Hi Janice. Thanks for adding your voice to the ongoing pushback on this group’s continued non-profit, ego-centric existence.
      Cheers.

  2. Rob Ruff
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    Good, persistent reporting, Charlene. Until and unless the current Way leaders own up to past abuses, they have no credibility. Sadly, as long as they continue to recruit new members, it’s unlikely they they ever will.

    • Charlene L. Edge
      |

      Hi Rob. Thanks for adding to the conversation. Their behavior reminds me of Stalin’s sweeping up his abuses and hiding them. With this group there seems no end to the room under their psuedo-biblical research and propaganda rug.

      Perhaps a day will come when this group loses its non-profit status. I wish for that at the very least.

  3. Frank
    |

    Charlene keep up the good work of exposing the deceptive methods of Cults, especially that of The Way International.

    I was also involved with this group from 1975-1987 and I agree with everything you have written thus far.

    I am happy those days are far behind us, and that we now have the opportunity to tell our story in hopes that others may be spared the controlling influence of any of the many manipulative Cults that prey upon innocent souls.

    • Charlene L. Edge
      |

      Thank you for adding your voice here, Frank. Our collective affirmation of The Way’s dark side serves, I trust, as a guide to outsiders to reject it and any group like it.

      We may have gained positive lessons from it, but the cost for many was too high.

      Cheers,
      Charlene

  4. Dave
    |

    Hi all those who read and post to this page. I have some questions and I am genuinely interested in your opinions.

    I have been attending some of this organizations latest home fellowships and researching the material they have published. Most recently I have been looking into their history as well as asking long standing members about their past experiences in this organization.

    I honestly am floored by what I am finding out, especially when comparing it to what I have seen and heard firsthand this last year.

    I guess what I am wondering is if I am being deceived by what looks like an attempt to get past a sordid and terrible history of bad decisions and misguided ideals (What a lot of people who left in those years and have come back have seemed to imply), or if they are just putting on a front to draw people in (What I am afraid of but I hope is not the case).

    I would be interested in hearing more recent accounts, not that I don’t believe in those that I have read. I just want to hear a real account of both sides to the story since I was so impressed with the (what felt like) “honest love and sound teachings” so far.

    Please help me to know what the truth is now.

    I will still continue to research into this possible still cult. But ignorance is my enemy and I still feel that I don’t know enough.

    With hope (and confusion), David

    • Charlene L. Edge
      |

      Hello Dave,

      For other stories, I suggest checking out the two books written by other former members that I mentioned in this post and also the website I cited.

      I am no longer involved with the group, nor have contact with current members, but I can tell you that they continue to promote re-hashed fundamentslist teachings that Wierwille, for the most part, plagiarized.

      A word to the wise: follow the money. The Way says it is a non-profit organization. Ask them where and how they spend the donations people give.

      Also, because they insist that the Bible be taken literally as The Truth, except when they acknowledge figures of speech, or Eastern customs, their attitude of intolerance towards anyone who disagrees with them persists. Especially those in other religions.

      Ask them what their qualifications are for doing so-called biblical research.

      Check out their website and you will see that they are, among other things, anti-gay, which contradicts the law of love that they say Christ instituted.

      You can browse around at other posts I have written on this website about cults and fundamentalism, which may be helpful.

      I always suggest that people stroll down the aisles of their public libraries for knowledge about the Bible and early Christianity, if they are interested. Much of it is very different from what The Way teaches.

      As you know, you will have to decide what to believe and how to live your life. Just remember that you get to chose which beliefs make you a better person and which do not.

      If you are looking for a sweet fellowship with nice people maybe you have found it with some followers of The Way, but I am willing to bet that if you question their teachings, or decline their invitations to attend their meetings or refuse to give them money or refuse to make more commitments to the group, you will most likely discover they will not be as friendly any more.

      Also, a man named John P. Juedes has done a lot of research on The Way. He is a Christian minister. You can Google his name and read what he has to say.

      I wish you well in your journey.

      Charlene

  5. Michael
    |

    Anyone ever read the great Carnegie book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”? Well, if you don’t recall, Chapter 1 in that book is titled “Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain.” That’s really all you ex-way followers are doing. Get over it. Move on. If it’s not for you, fine. I too am no longer with the group, but I don’t need to waste time and energy to dog them. Seriously, the world is VERY messed up when your wasting time dogging a group that you spent 12 years or more with!! If it was so bad, how come you stuck around so long. Wise up. Start doing something positive for God instead of wasting your life putting someone else down. See ya at the bema losers. You are getting tricked by the oldest deception of the enemy, to think your contest is against other people. Stand together, stand strong, and stop putting other people down. If you are so wise, have something better?

    • Charlene L. Edge
      |

      Thank you for exercising your right to your opinion. I think you mistake me for someone who has nothing better to offer than the fundamentalism of The Way. Actually, I do. It’s called understanding and wisdom I have gained about fundamentalism and cults AFTER leaving The Way. Check out other of my posts here for more info on those subjects, or just go to any public library and read something instructive about these topics.

      I “approved” this comment for readers to see what goes on with former cultists.

      I went ahead and allowed this disturbing comment for readers to see what kind of mentality is out there … and the sort of person who bothers to take the time to target and provoke me, which he did not succeed in doing.

      Rather than censor the comment, I decided to publish it as an example of what some former Way followers say … people like this do not show any interest in understanding the cult phenomenon that dominated them nor the fundamentalism that drove Wierwille.

      Cheers,
      Charlene

    • VRH
      |

      “See ya at the bema losers”? Wow – is that you, Craig? Haven’t heard this kind of arrogant pseudo-christian diatribe since the Martindale era!

      • Charlene L. Edge
        |

        Again, for any non-former-or-current-Way-followers reading this post, Craig Martindale was the second president of The Way who was dismissed in 2000 after a second lawsuit for sexual harassment was filed against him.

  6. Karl Kahler
    |

    Michael, with all due respect, you know Dale Carnegie published that book in 1936? And that “wasting your life putting someone else down” is textbook Wierwille, the shepherd who screwed his own sheep and attacked people who criticized anything because he was so dangerously exposed to criticism? And that your reference to “the enemy” is textbook Martindale, the one and only person who gave us the words “the enemy” to refer to the Devil? You say you left this group, but your own words suggest that this group never left you. Also, you scorn criticism, but yours is the only response here that criticizes. I don’t know you, Michael, but with all the respect you deserve, the filthy, humiliated and busted leaders of this cult could not have a finer spokesman today, because you echo them “jot and tittle.” You prove the point that “Waythink” is alive and well today, even by people who supposedly now repudiate The Way.

  7. Charlene L. Edge
    |

    For all the readers of this post who have no idea what the poster, Michael, is talking about, Karl Kahler offers help with Michael’s Wayspeak. Karl is a friend of mine and the author of The Cult That Snapped: A Journey Into The Way International.

  8. Bob Lunsford
    |

    7th Corps grad here, I enjoyed your post. I was involved from ’73 till early 90’s, when I’d had enough trying to keep the good we had left together. I know of many whom Wierwille, and many the Way leaders abused. Gee, why do you think Wierwille always traveled with a damn harem on his “motor coach”? The man was a sociopath

    Man, I was in many a “freedom in Christ” discussion/teaching/ bullshit session, where branch, limb, and even trunk leaders discussed what they could do that those who weren’t “spiritual” enough to handle, couldn’t. That included sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Who knew Christians were so “free”?

    The sex and abuse were real, the corruption was real, those claiming it wasn’t either weren’t there and are in denial of too many coming forward to count, or they were there, and they are lying. Either way, 73 years of bullshit, is still 73 years of bullshit.

    • Charlene L. Edge
      |

      Dear Bob,

      Although we never met, I know others who relay the same kinds of reports. Depending on who people were, where they were, and in which group/leadership level of believers they were a part of within The Way, followers had different experiences.

      In my view, that accounts for so many versions of “The Way experience.” And that accounts for so many arguments about what happened, where, and when. From what I’ve ascertained, there were/are several parallel universes or versions of what’s called, “being in The Way International.”

      Thank you for posting yours here.
      Charlene

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