First, to honor my dad, here is a link to the program for his memorial service. If you knew him, or want to know a little more about him, this is a good place to start. Also, at the end of this post is a short video tribute I prepared. It’s about 10 minutes of photos from different time periods of his life, set to some great acappella songs. He loved to sing tenor and bass.
He was frequently maligned by the Stanton group in the years following his departure from Stanton, and after his death, they tried to strip any reference to God from his memorial service. But the rest of the family insisted on providing a more accurate picture of his life, which was steeped in faith, imperfect as he was (as we all are). My sons and I led some of his favorite songs, my sisters and I shared memories, and I preached a eulogy (below). We then proceeded to a military honors ceremony, and then to my mom’s for an open house.
Stanton church members who wouldn’t fellowship with my dad during his life, insisted on showing up at his funeral after his death, even going so far as to come to my mom’s house to share a meal. In their view, they were there to support my mom, so we let it go on that basis. If they wanted to support my mom, we felt it should have been done on a different day, since they were the ones who disfellowshipped him. We thought it rude and a bit awkward that they would want to come at all, but we let it go and figured that somehow, God would be lifted up. Within a few minutes of arriving at my mom’s house for the open house, however, they tried to keep another family member (“withdrawn from” like my dad by the cult) from coming into the house to eat with us.
At this point, we felt the Christlike thing to do was to take the celebration of my dad’s life to my house, so this brother would not be unjustly isolated from the gathering. We took enough food (most of which my sisters and I had provided) to feed those coming to my house, and left some for the Stanton group as best we could (quantities were hard to split up evenly, since crockpots and platters of food had not been divided up for this turn of events, but we did try).
As it turned out, we enjoyed an amazing time of fellowship together at my house. Those of us there will never forget that night of fellowship. We held hands and prayed together for us and for the Stanton group, ate together, and sang some of my dad’s favorite songs (and many more) for the next three or four hours until our voices were hoarse. My dad would have loved singing tenor or bass with us. It was an amazing time of unity and encouragement, despite Satan’s attempt to crash the funeral.
Below is a rough copy of the sermon I preached at my dad’s funeral. This is not word-for-word, since I don’t read my notes when speaking in public. As far as I know, no one made a recording, so this is the best I have:
The heart of a Berean
When I picture my dad at the Stanton house where I grew up, one of my main memories is of him sitting in his study. I have an office. Dad had a study, and that’s what he used it for. He had a dark walnut desk with a glass top on it, and under that glass top I think there were some family photos and Bible references.
One thing I appreciate about him now, that I didn’t then, was the fact that he openly and frequently studied the Bible. I probably didn’t do that as visibly as I should have while my kids were younger–I’d study, but I’d stay up late, or get up early, or in more recent years, do my Bible reading on my phone. So my kids don’t always see me studying. But I frequently saw Dad crack open The Book and delve into it in depth. That was a great example to have as a young man. He taught me a love for digging into the Word to find out what it really means.
Dad loved to mine nuggets of truth from the scriptures in that study–whether he was reading up on first century church history, or doing a topical study with his big Young’s Concordance, or preparing for a sermon, or some other study he was interested in. That made an impression on me. He had a love for learning.
I’m grateful that Mom and Dad both taught me to look to the scriptures as my only authority for what I believe. That mindset of “what does the Bible say on that?” was all throughout conversations about the scriptures when I was a kid.
I remember conversations on the ride home from church, or with people on the phone, or with people who had the misfortune to knock on our door. Of all the doors in the neighborhood, in our home, the Bible was actually read and studied. Mom and Dad gave me, through their example of personal Bible study, a deep respect for the Word, and a real, honest thirst for Biblical truth.
The reverence for studying the Word in our home when I was a kid, reminds me now of the Bereans in Acts chapter 17. Luke wrote that they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Dad, I know, did a lot of topical studies, read a lot of history, and studied to figure out the meanings of passages–sometimes obscure ones. I remember one study he shared at church was on the fact that Jesus was the “only begotten” Son of God, and he had really come up with some interesting insights into what that meant. Another one was a study of Jesus being the Word made flesh, and the fact that the Greek word for “word” is logos, where we get our word logic.
I also remember him studying Revelation from time to time. He’s not one that spent tons of time doing that, but I think he figured if God put it in there, he must have wanted us to read it. So he did, and he tried to figure out what a lot of those symbols mean. I’m not sure if he ever figured out the correct meaning for the white horse, or the beast, or some of the other symbols, but he was a searcher, and I know he wanted to understand the truths in the Bible more accurately.
One verse that I know Dad spent a lot of time studying–and me too, later in life–was 1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
I want to share one little nugget from that one little verse that’s very meaningful to me. This verse and various ideas about its meaning were very influential in my years growing up with Dad, and learning to study the scriptures.
Have you ever had a moment when you’re studying the Bible and something unexpected jumps out at you that you never saw before? I’ve never found actual hidden treasure, but I imagine that feeling is about how I felt when I discovered this clue in John’s writing that opened up my understanding of this passage for me. In fact, this was one of the principles of interpretation I learned from Dad–that the Bible usually does a pretty good job of interpreting itself, if we give it a chance.
So when I found this nugget in 1 John 1:7, I remember thinking, “I don’t know how I missed this.” Here John gave us clue after clue to his real meaning. One of those clues is just a few verses later. But if you read through all of John’s writings in one sitting, you’ll see clues scattered throughout his gospel and 1, 2, and 3 John.
Clues about what, though? One of the things Dad taught me is that words mean things. Words and the meaning of words are how we understand each other. He said one of the best things you can do to understand the English language is to take class in Latin. I never did that, but I did take two years of Spanish and two years of French–both Latin-based languages.
So I learned to dig around about the meaning of words to understand a thought properly in the Bible. And in 1 John 1:7, the nugget I found is the meaning of the word “light” when John says “Walk in the light,” and we’ll have fellowship with one another. Fellowship is another whole topic altogether, but what does it mean to walk in the light?
The answer, I found, is right there in Chapter 2:10. John actually defines exactly what he means by the word “light” right there. He doesn’t leave it up to our imagination, or hint at it. He comes right out and says that He who loves his brother walks (or abides or lives) in the light.
The neat thing is that this is John himself explaining what he means in 1 John 1:7. Walking in the light is loving your brother, according to Chapter 2:10. And as if to put an exclamation point on it, he adds for good measure: But he that hates his brother is in darkness.
Not loving our brother is walking in darkness. Loving our brother is walking in the light. In fact, there’s a song that probably every person here has sung at some point that says exactly that. Back in 1916, Laurene Highfield wrote “The Love of God,” and penned these words:
“While his love burns true and bright, we are walking in the light…”
Loving our brother is walking in the light.
There are tons more verses that support this idea that that walking in the light = walking in love, and that the greatest commands we have as Christians are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s what Jesus said. John simply repeats that over and over and over so we don’t forget it. Of course, as humans, we still do. Every day I have to remind myself “In all things, love.”
The point is, Dad never stopped digging for those nuggets of truth in the Bible. Did I agree with every understanding my dad arrived at, or every sermon my dad preached? Of course not. But you know what? I don’t even agree with every every sermon I’ve preached! In fact, I remember some pretty embarrassing sermons I’ve given, sermons that I’d cringe at now, because, hopefully, I’ve grown a little in about 31 years of being a Christian. If I did agree with every sermon I’ve preached in the past 31 years, that would be pretty scary, actually. It would mean I haven’t grown since then. But I have. And so did Dad.
I wasn’t born yet when Dad got to take the family on cross country flights, but we did do a lot of camping, fishing, shooting, and one hunting trip. But–if you add up all the time I spent at church with Dad since I was about 6 1/2, I probably spent more time with him there than all those other activities combined. I saw over time and with an adult perspective that Dad was not the same Christian at the end of his life that he was at the beginning of his walk with God, and that’s a good thing. I hope the same can be said at my funeral one day. Because that is what I call growth.
Kevin, I am so sorry for your loss. I know there are no words that will make you feel better, but know that my heart and prayers are with you.I'm also sorry that members of the Stanton group insisted on taking over your get together after the funeral. However, it doesn't surprise me. If they felt that the member of your family-who had a right to be there-shouldn't be fellowshipping with members of the group, then the members of the group should have left. After all, it wasn't up to the member who had been disfellowshipped to "make a stand",… Read more »
Thanks, Debby. Yes, they should have planned their thing separately if he was not going to be welcome. Instead, they blindsided the family (including my mom).
This was one of the reasons why with moms memorial my sister went to pretty great lengths to plan it all herself and not rely on the church for much, if anything. I was a little different, I wanted to let them take part so I planned all the food but had some helpers in the church and different ones donating dishes. I wanted them to be a part, that was moms family. It was interesting for sure in that none of us had been around for years, and I am a "fallen away christian"…..but no one ever brought it… Read more »
Good Point Frank. All the Stanton group members had to do was just not talk to the "withdrawn from" member. Or to eat near him. Just think what the folks there who are not members must have thought! What a way to win them over! And just consider how it made that poor family member felt, and he or she might even wonder if they want to be a part of a group that shows so little love to one of their own. It's our love that is suppose to win ones over, including those who are struggling with sin… Read more »
Frank, yes the situation was a bit different due to the family dynamics. The conflict was not over having the church members there, although that was rude enough since my dad was disfellowshipped by them. The conflict was due to this being planned by the whole family with nothing being said about a family member not being welcome. If we had known that, we would have planned a short family-only open house, then turned it over to her church friends to do as they wanted without us. But we could not stand by in good conscience and let them push… Read more »
BTW Frank, say hi to your sisters for me! I have very fond memories of all of you! Debby
They showed up to a family funeral of a disfellowshipped member and then disrupted it? Your kidding me right? No one can be that tasteless can they?
Anon…..no. A disfellowshipped member who has ties to the family showed up, which should have been expected anyway.
Will do Deb!
Actually, you're correct Anon 7:07. They showed up to the funeral of a disfellowshipped man, my dad. On top of that, another disfellowshipped family member was there, and they tried to eject him from the family gathering.
And another sad thing about it, Kevin, is that they will probably hold it against the disfellowshipped family member for showing up. When I was with the group, they held things like that against withdrawn from members. It was a part of what they had to repent of and then confess before they could be in fellowship again.
And yet, look at the hypocrisy-they can all attend the funeral and open house of a withdrawn from member, but another withdrawn from FAMILY member could not! Oh how convoluted! And ungodly.
Yes, it is very convoluted.
Kevin I am so sorry that you had to go through this at your time of grief. This is like adding insult to injury, or rubbing salt in the wounds. The COC members probably left feeling like they were the victims, having to be around a "fallen away" or "withdrawn from" members. The arrogant have no manners and respect no boundaries.
Withdrawal is so abused. Want to shut someone up? Withdraw from them and if it's decided that what they "murmured" about was actually correct they don't get their withdrawal lifted because they shouldn't have voiced their disagreement. No wonder error lives on and on and on. The only time disagreements can be openly discussed is during the "May week questions" discussions. In both withdrawal cases in Kevin's family the people withdrawn from were simply stating a difference of opinion! The family difficulties these two withdrawals have caused are so sad and unnecessary.
I find this action of disrupting a funeral/wake disturbing. It shows an increased aggression, against exmembers of their church. I have seen much aggression but it has always been internal, focused at current members who have fallen out of favor with the leaders; now the aggression is being shown toward external people, disturbing to say the least. Jim Jones had a group of members called "angels" whose job was to threaten exmembers into silence. The COC has not dropped to that depth of depravity as yet but it is now on the way to full blown intimidation of ex members.… Read more »
I believe there are two classes of members, leaders and followers. I believe the leaders are the aggressive ones, egging on the followers either to try to inflict punishment on ex-members, or out of a desire to "love bomb" family members who are on the fence about the cult. So in that sense, I don't necessarily hold the followers, many of whom are probably genuinely nice people, accountable. But the leaders of this little episode knew exactly what they were doing, and the risks involved. Is. 9:16 – For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they… Read more »
I found that in the SCOC that once a person fell out of favor with the leader in Spring Valley, the order to persecute out of the church went out to the teachers of the respective congregations. It is like having a price on your head. DS method of attack is to portray a sexual disfunction with the person. One man in Boise years ago was portrayed as not being able to preach because he was having "wet dreams." How DS knew this was never explained, and now I highly doubt this was the truth. Recently he was saying "men… Read more »
What has happened to all the congregations say from 1982 to the present? It seems alot of them have withered up and die. I wounder if any thing will change once GP passes on?
Kevin, I am sorry that you had to go through what you did, but take this from it that things like this happen to show who is right and who is wrong. I've seen how they have used withdrawl and the threat of withdrawl to shut people up and/or keep them silent. I, for one, had to walk on egg shells as I was trying to show them that a lot of what they were teaching was unscriptural. The bad thing is that if you get withdrawn from for something that isn't a sin, then how can you repent from… Read more »
Large forehead equals homosexual? So wouldn't that logically mean it's a pre-disposition? A retardation of sorts? That's just ridiculous. I can't even…… You know, awhile back one of the boys we grew up with contacted me. He is gay, for me not a big deal, it's a big world. Anyway, I mentioned to my mom that we had been in contact, and she spoke very fondly of him…..which was weird, because my mom was brutal when it came to homosexuality. Merciless. So I asked "What changed? When I was a kid you wouldn't let me wear a necklace because it… Read more »
You are right Frank about the many contradictions in the group's teachings. I remember the May week when it was determined that it was ok to let the kids play cards, even poker with chips. But we still couldn't gamble. That the kids could play London Bridge (a game based on how to ward off evil spirits that passed on the Bubonic Plague) but we can't say Gesundheit (good health) to someone who sneezes.Or, that we couldn't watch movies, but my teachers can watch on TV the ball drop on New Year's Eve and allow my daughter watch too-without mine… Read more »
P.S. No lie….I wear and own more jewelry than my wife. Still not gay.
"Large forehead is probably gay" comes from Dominick. As I attack him for his judgements and understandings and cruel behavior he attacks me back on my physical attributes. DS is, and has always been, a carnal teacher. DS is the proverbial school yard bully constantly picking on other weaker than himself or picking on others perceived weaknesses. DS is the attack dog of the evangelist in SV doing his dirty work of eliminating by harassment, false accusation, and persecution those the evangelist does not like. Those who have been under DS oppression have in turn oppressed their own children, and… Read more »
Reading through this for the second time. Completely amazed by what took place at Mr. Harpers gathering after his funeral. Bunch of bullies. If you've read previous comments by me you'll know what I like to do with a bully. Maybe GP, TC and KS could bring DS with them to Portland and answer my questions. Yep I'll bring up the large forehead to DS. Funny how the falsely withdrawn from member that Kevin refers to attended his sons wedding in Tacoma. Everyone ate in the building as did he. I shook his hand and was glad I did. Another… Read more »
Thanks Craig. I can't take credit for the 1 John 1:7/2:10 insight that "walking in the light" means "walking in love" toward our brother. The author who made that light bulb go off for me was a man named Carl Ketcherside. He was a champion of church of Christ divisiveness, and even my mom and Merie sung his praises…until he "went off" when he discovered the meaning of 1 John 1:7 as I explained above. His move to preach love and unity made him a pariah, not only to Merie and my mom, but to many of the more legalistic… Read more »
It's not my business so you can tell me that with no problem.
Are you and your wife still going to the Portland Church? And is it still the main preacher and teacher there that were there in approx 2009?
No problem answering yours or anyone's questions. My wife attends. I was visiting as a nonmember beginning in January when it was determined my baptism was no good. They decided the counsel I received in January was wrong and told me I was a member. Which I know I'm not yet they withdrew from me the next Sunday for murmuring and sowing seeds of discord. Still haven't been told what I said or who to. Anyways I'm a nonmember the counselors opinions mean nothing to me. Yes same preacher from 2009 somehow remains at this point the only preacher Portland… Read more »
To add to my comment above it was known I was a nonmember from January till May week when amazingly after the meeting this came out that I was a member. Never served communion from January till May. Never treated as a member. Which was okay because I'm not a member.
Well I give you a big high_5 Craig for walking in there still with your family after all this and them knowing you are on this blog. I could never do that. I really liked your wife the short time I was in the church! (I'm female)
I no longer attend nor would I ever again. I already know too much about the Portland congregation and it's preacher to know that's not Christianity. Now what I've learned about the history and others experiences all founded upon a woman Merie Weiss. Waste of my time going though being with family is nice. Not sure who you are but hope all is going well with you. When I did begin getting on this blog it was after I and they determined my baptism was no good. Always had doubts about it. Also you'd think I'd put my name to… Read more »
Sorry Craig, I totally misunderstood you as I thought all along you were still going on Sundays and I was thinking "wow" haha. I listened to one talk on here about where GP talked about people reading this blog. I'd have to go listen to it again. Did he say more than that after his talk telling members not to go onto it period or they would be withdrawn from? I read where he said "I dare you"? If I had read this blog as a member I would just consider that a personal sin and no forgiveness would have… Read more »
Understand why you would stay anonymous. Especially when they withdrew from nonmembers. Haha what a joke they are making of themselves making stuff up as they go because they don't want know one calling them out either there midst for their wrong. I did attend most Sundays after it was determined I was a nonmember. Simply to spend time with my family. I knew I had to seek out Christianity because it was not within Merie's cult. When I was told I was now a member and I said nothing changed from January to May other than I knew even… Read more »
Am I to understand then that you have a large forehead and are possibly gay?
Because that to me is a personal attack vs a teaching. (Large foreheads=gay.)
Still wrong but I want to be sure I understand you.
I also think I may have just figured out who you are. Shoot me an IM if I am correct……
I have a large forehead and have never been gay. I don't know what IM is, not that savy. DS is full of personal attacks, as most Narcissist/oppressor/bully's are. I am glad for you Frank Mutti that you are doing well and are a father.
I heard about this situation last fall or so. Funny how perspective is everything. Or mindset. It was told to me that ME had dared to show up to the gathering and caused a scene by doing that and he should have known better. Now seeing the other side and knowing your dad was withdrawn from them, it all makes sense. How could those who knew him in life and minimally interacted with him disrespect him at his own funeral? So sorry all of you had to deal with that. But it's all part of having connections in the sect,… Read more »
The lack of love in their hearts can be evident when someone less than perfect in their eyes passes away.For example, (and I really hate to mention this but it must be said) when the little boy of one of the member families drowned (about 4 years ago?), the children were taught in bible class about the consequences of disobeying parents. I remember thinking that just wasn't right and it didn't sit well with me at all when the kids were talking about it. It was taught the Sunday after he passed too. But this just goes to show how… Read more »
Shame on those who taught that after a tragic death of a precious child. I know the situation and the parents are good people who have stayed in my home. No mercy or love can be displayed by teaching members.