In over 45 years of existence, this sect still has no Biblical eldership in place. Why is that? Answer: Because a core group of people have led the movement from the earliest days of the church, and Biblical leadership would threaten that power structure. A dynamic of largely female leadership was in place from its inception as a division from the mainstream churches when Merie was withdrawn from. (You didn’t know that Merie was withdrawn from by East San Diego Church of Christ in 1958? Oops, they conveniently leave that out of their history.)
Merie clearly preached, and I sat through many a sermon of hers. Of course, they didn’t call them that. The difference was only one of semantics. Because she sat while preaching, and waited until after a “closing prayer” for “worship service” on Sunday morning, they would call it a lesson or a Bible class. But if you can find any of those distinctions or terms in
the Bible, I’d like to see them.
I asked my mom once about the lack of elders in any of their churches, and her reply was that the bar for elders was so high because of the need for them to have a “good report within and without” even prior to their baptism. There were just not any qualified men. Really? After 45+ years?
Of course, I pointed out that the first century church had elders within just a few years, and that a “good report” had nothing to do with a person’s reputation prior to baptism. There’s not a person alive who could meet that bar for eldership, and certainly most of the apostles would not have qualified on that criteria.
Sometime later, I followed up with her on it. They had studied the subject (presumably at a May Meeting) and arrived at the same conclusion I had, that the “good report” is not referring to the time before becoming a Christian. Of course, this begs the question, did the church really have the Holy Spirit during the time they had the “wrong understanding” of that verse? That was many years ago, and there are still no elders in any of their churches, by the way.