Status of Former Assembly Groups and Leaders
April, 2014 George Geftakys had a stroke and a fall. He was admitted to hospice care and given two to six months to live. Several former Assembly leaders considered visiting him to make one final appeal for a change of heart. However, George's opportunity for repentance had passed. According to a family member, he was not capable of coherent discussion due to increasing dementia.
August 11, 2014 George slipped into a coma and died. He was buried in a private service at the Riverside National Cemetery. Your reflections prompted by this event are welcome here, and on the Facebook groups, "George & Betty Geftakys - Geftakys Assembly", and "The Geftakys Assembly". Elizabeth Esther Geftakys Henderson wrote about her grandfather's passing on her blog and on her Facebook page.
More post-Assembly events below. Note especially the publication of Elizabeth Esther's Geftakys Assembly memoir.
• Overall Status of the Former Geftakys Ministry
• Updates about Former Members
• Former Leaders are a Concern
• George Was a Concern to the End
• Readers' Comments
• Related Articles
• Assembly Locations & Leaders
December 18, 2018 Mike Zach died after a struggle with cancer.
May 22, 2017 David Geftakys died in the Philippines of kidney failure.
November 1, 2015 Placentia Christian Fellowship (formerly the Geftakys Assembly in Placentia) published a Prayer Bulletin with prayer requests for several other former Geftakys Assemblies: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Chicago, Annandale, West Los Angeles, and Fullerton. Several of these former Assemblies are actively engaged in campus outreaches. San Luis Obispo avoids disclosing any connection with the former Geftakys Assemblies.
August 10, 2014 George Geftakys died, following a coma.
March 18, 2014
Elizabeth Esther's new Assembly memoir is out,
Girl at the End of the World:
My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future.
Elizabeth, George Geftakys' granddaughter, grew up in the heart of the Geftakys ministry in the Fullerton Assembly.
She recounts with poignant clarity how certain experiences deeply affected her, spiritually as well as emotionally.
March 18, 2012 The former Geftakys Assembly in Placentia, CA, took the name 'Placentia Christian Fellowship, with a website and a FaceBook page. The group disbanded in 2017.
In April, 2011, Remedy Drive announced a new line-up. Brothers Paul, Philip and Daniel dropped out of the band to spend more time with their families. David Zach is continuing Remedy with three new band members.
July 15, 2008 The Casa de Sion project remains in limbo. The Velascos retain personal ownership of the property and refuse to communicate further with those who contributed substantially to the project when it was under the Geftakys ministry.
July 15, 2008 West Los Angeles had a Teen Team July 25 - August 4. They went through Have We No Rights? by Mabel Williamson.
On June 14, 2008 an Assembly wedding was held in Pasadena, between a Pasadena groom and a WLA bride. There were about 300 guests in attendance from the Assemblies in San Francisco, Sacramento, WLA, Pasadena and Riverside. The format familiar - hymns, preaching about the man and women’s relationship likened to Christ and the church, Jim McAllister saying, “You may salute your bride”.
There were differences from past weddings though - there were no headcoverings, and wine was served.
One sad testimony to how narrow-minded the groups still are: The groom’s brother (a former Assembly member) was told he was not invited to the wedding because of negative things he said about George and his followers when he left the Geftakys ministry over five years ago.
Even though he had done all he could to reconcile with his own brother, the group still dictates this family relationship. All the rest of the groom’s family (aunts, cousins, and grandparents) were in attendance regardless of their religious beliefs. Several who are church elders and pastors could not tolerate the message and left immediately after the service.
Of the 300 guests, about 80-90 were family and friends from outside the Assembly. The rest were Assembly folks - current and former members, of which many were children (Jim McAllister's and Scott Testa's families accounted for 16 of them). On June 28, 2008 Brent T. had a response to this.
April 2008: Sometime in mid-2007, Mike Almanzor refused to allow George to continue to give stated ministry on Sunday afternoons, and consequently George Geftakys began all over again with, a weekly Bible study and Sunday service at his home in Plymouth Village in Redlands, CA, located at 242 Carver Circle.
He preached at a conference in Tanzania. He was invited by a brother named Herbert who is involved in a ministry that builds orphanages. George seemed to be attempting to gain a position of influence in that ministry. Amazing. It's like the Robert Duvall character in "The Apostle".
David Geftakys was attending the meetings in George's home in 2007. Someone who helped him with his laptop has said David was paranoid that someone had given him a virus and cuold see just what he was doing. This person thought this was strange and delusional, and told him that after checking and wiping it clean everyday, it was not possible. Apparently David did not seem to believe him.
David relocated to the Philippines sometime in late 2007-early 2008 and bought a house there. Presumably he married his Filipina fiancee. It seems that he may have dropped out of the California Maritime Academy. In his meetings George solicited support for David's "ministry" in the Philippines. David died in the Philippines of kidney failure in May of 2017.
Following George Geftakys' excommunication from the Fullerton Assembly in January, 2003, many Assemblies disbanded, as members' eyes were opened to the hidden corruption, and many dared to step out and attend other churches. The October 2015 prayer requests of the former Placentia Assembly lists some of the contuing groups at that time.
Other Assemblies continued to meet, but separated themselves from the Geftakys ministry and implemented varying degrees of change, particularly regarding the number and length of meetings, the accounting of finances, and recognition of other ministries.
However, there seems to have been little change in teaching and practice, although there has been some change in language and terminology. To our knowledge, none of the groups have openly and seriously addressed doctrinal issues, nor offered public apologies for perpetrating the controlling abusive Assembly system under George and Betty Geftakys. The assumption seems to be that George Geftakys was the problem, and now he is out of the way, the problems have been dealt with. This was expressly communicated in a meeting in the Fullerton Assembly with Samuel Ochenjele in 2003.
They are still conducting outreaches to recruit new members, such as Bible studies on college campuses and concerts by Remedy Drive. Most of them continue to perpetrate milieu control by discouraging people from reading this website or speaking with former members. They are mum about their previous association with the Geftakys ministry, and refer to themselves as "just a gathering of Christians". Here is an assessment of the groups written by a former member who left a California Assembly in early 2003.
Placentia, CA Following G. Geftakys's excommunication from the Fullerton Assembly in January, 2003, the Placentia Assembly renounced him and severed all ties. The group continued to meet on Sundays at the Placentia Round Table until 2017. They had a website. The 'About' page of the website stated that it was founded on March 18, 2012, taking the name 'Placentia Christian Fellowship'. Newcomers since 2003 were not informed about the Geftakys origins and training. See the article The Placentia Assembly for more details."
Here is a complete list of Assembly locations and outreaches. Groups that are known to continue to meet are marked with an asterisk.
Of particular note are the former Assemblies in Riverside, Pasadena, San Francisco and Sacramento, that remained strongly loyal to George Geftakys and did not accept his excommunication. George preached at Bible studies, gave Sunday stated ministry, and preached at least one seminar to these groups in 2005. Betty was invited to at least one bridal shower.
The leaders considered the testimony of the women that were abused by George to be lies; that it was his word against theirs; that there was no proof; that these women were as guilty as he was before the Lord; that things were not handled spiritually. They believe that there needed to be "two or three witnesses" to the actual behavior in order for there to be an accusation against an elder. They likened it to the false accusations brought against priests in the Catholic church. It was reported that the leaders continued to exercise tight control over the members. The Placentia fellowship did not acknowledge these groups.
San Francisco, CA The letter of George Geftakys' excommunication was not read there. The members were uninformed of the facts of the situation. George was invited to hold a weekend conference weeks after his excommunication in Fullerton. It is reported that George held a seminar there in May, 2005. The leaders are Scott Testa and Jim Karditzas. Both men lived in George Geftakys' home and were personally trained by him and Betty.
Sacramento, CA The Sacramento group is led by Carlos DeLeon, who reported to Scott Testa. George's excommunication letter was read in Sacramento in a special meeting where brethren were permitted feedback. Publicly, the leadership gave the impression that they were through with the Geftakys regime, but privately they were meeting and talking to Pasadena, San Francisco, and Riverside, with the result that all four Assemblies remained loyal to George.
It was reported that the Sacramento group attended George's May, 2005, seminar in San Francisco. This group is actively reaching out to the community to bring in new members, with campus Bible studies, possibly still called "Studies in the Old and New Testament", at Sacramento City College, American River College and Cal State Sacramento. Campus outreaches still use an Assembly method of recruitment, "The Four Anchors".
As previously stated, it is not known whether Sacramento severed its ties with George Geftakys when Pasadena and Riverside did so in 2007. Leading Brother Dan Matson-Bose left the group over a family matter.
In 2007, for reasons unknown, Jim McAllister's Pasadena group severed ties with George. Also Mike Almanzor's group in Riverside no longer allowed George to give stated afternoon ministry. These decisions apparently had nothing to do with a change in their position on the validity of George's excommunication.
George left the Riverside group in mid 2007, taking about half the people with him to start a separate meeting in his home at Plymouth Village in Redlands, where he conduct weekly Bible studies and Sunday meetings until his stroke in April, 2014.
Most of these groups have made efforts to change in some ways, particularly regarding the number and length of meetings, and the accounting of finances. There is also recognition of other ministries. The level of control over members' lives seems to be less. In this respect they are less "high-demand".
On the other hand, none of the groups have openly addressed doctrinal issues. They have not publicly repudiated the controlling abusive Assembly system under George and Betty Geftakys. This leaves the underpinning still in place for high-demand dynamics, even though they may have changed some of the Assembly language and terminology. They discourage members from referring to or asking about ties with the Geftakys ministry, talking with former members, or reading the websites.
"Vandyke" on the Assembly bulletin board observed that not all former Assemblies are the same, and there is a greater degree of openness in some of them than previously. In at least some cases, former Assembly members have been warmly received. Brian Tucker reports positive changes in the Charleston Assembly. Former Geftakys Assemblies in the following locations continue to meet, to the best of our knowledge.
Goleta (Santa Barbara), CA
San Luis Obispo
West Los Angeles, CA
Hong Kong, China*
La Vesinet, France*
Olesa, Abrera, Cobrera, Spain*
*No information available
Former Assembly leaders and members are becoming involved in other churches, or are beginning outreaches or home churches on their own. They feel that their many years of Bible study and training in the Geftakys ministry qualify them to assume a leadership role elsewhere, especially in a home church or "simple gathering" format.
They appear to know the Bible well, and are willing to take on responsibility in a church. Pastors concerned about the spiritual commitment of their congregations may be delighted, and be inclined to put them in positions of influence as elders, Bible study leaders, Sunday school teachers or mentors. In home groups they are quite comfortable presenting themselves as qualified and experienced Bible teachers.
But....have they openly acknowledged the errors and damages of the high-demand Assembly system, and their part in it? Have they been mentored and taught in their personal recovery? Has their theology been purged of a performance element? Leaders were thoroughly indoctrinated in George's way of thinking.
George Geftakys was like the Robert Duvall character in the movie, "The Apostle." He was the energizer bunny who just kept going, even though he had not admitted or repented of his immoral behavior, nor of failing to stop his son's domestic violence. He began his ministry all over again with Bible studies and Sunday meetings in his home, with a nucleus from the Riverside meeting. This after being disciplined by the elders of three churches and the majority of his own Assemblies for immoral and unethical behavior. People were cautioned to beware of his aberrant teaching, his bent for taking over other ministries, his appeals for financial support for himself and his son David, as well as other issues addressed elsewhere on this site.
July 15, 2008 Readers ask, "Why were some Assemblies shaken to the ground, while others were not as effected?" Here is the editorial 2 cents. I think the answer is that in order for GG's demise to have an effect, there had to be an influential person or two in an Assembly, or enough ordinary members, who were able to engage their critical thinking to break out of the mind control to the point of renouncing the system and leaving.
In the SFV and Omaha, on the other hand, the leaders wanted to carry on, but after a lot of public debate, the members all left, so the leaders gave up. Similar scenario in Annandale, but the Workers carried on with just themselves - 4 couples, of whom 2 have now left.
San Francisco, Placentia, Pasadena, Riverside and Sacramento are a different story. They all have leaders who are ambitious to keep something going, to the point of hiding their past association with the Geftakys ministry, continuing the GG-style control over the members, and being willing to keep information from them by forbidding them to read this website.
Other groups most likely continue with one of GG's second lieutenants who really liked to "wear the pants" rising to the fore, or even someone who was on the sidelines under GG now seizing their opportunity to lead. A few groups seem continue for the sake of friendship and familiarity, and are not concerned to exercise critical thinking. These all have something to lose if they were to break out of the mind control and really look at things.
Probably a few groups continue without a strong leader solely because of the mind control - they truly believe the false teaching that other churches are worldly, that the only correct way to worship is the Assembly way, headcoverings are essential, etc.
The situation is probably more nuanced than I've described. The mixture of mind control (denial), ambition and the comfort of the familiar is murky from the outside. A visit to each Assembly might clear up the picture. Well, that's just my 2 cents. What do you think?
November, 2003, Becky W.: "When the facts change," said economist John Maynard Keynes when asked once about his shifting positions, "I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" I love this quote. When confronted with formerly covered up facts about the Assemblies and its real history, we all have choices to make. We can change our minds about our involvement in and support of it. To me, that's called "repentance".
"Or we can stick our heads in the sand--'Don't worry, be happy'. We can attack those who brought the facts to light. i.e. shoot that messenger. We can pretend we're made of teflon and were absolutely unaffected by the corruption, false teaching, and aberrant behavior of the unrepentant main leaders and their training, and the resulting effects in all of our lives.
"If we stay in an existing Assembly we can keep doors of fellowship open with those who leave, or we can tell ourselves and other members, 'Have nothing to do with those who leave.' You can even choose to actually say things like, 'They all had issues in their lives they were unwilling to face,' 'They speak evil,' 'Are you going to write about me on the website?'
"We who leave can talk about it, or not. We can encourage others to talk about it, or we can reinforce the code of silence by discouraging discussion. We can learn from those out longer, and other Christians in many places, or we can say, 'God is sufficient for us, brother.' So many choices. I'm sure I've left out many more."
Chuck Miller appeals to the Assembly leadership with the question, "Have you considered the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ to unbelievers as well as other believers?"
A SLO Assembly member encourages people to ask questions of former Assembly leadership.
This account of Steve Irons' visit with Samuel the first week of October, 2003 explains the issues he has with the teaching we received in the Assemblies.
Mark Campbell describes the defense mechanisms used by an Assembly member to prevent honest evaluation of his or her involvement in an abusive system.
There are valuable lessons to be drawn from the history of early Brethrenism.