More Puzzle Pieces
Gleaned from various contributions and Assemblyboard posts, here is another bunch of insightful pieces to the Assembly puzzle--intriguing factoids to add to Wayne and Pat's collection. More can be found in the Testimonial and Feedback section.
Brent T: Up here in San Luis Obispo, Pat Schout bought a big house, a block away from the Cal Poly campus. He purchased it for "the Work," and one of the leading brother's lived in it, along with the men who he was training to serve in "the Work." George told me, "I had a lot to do with the purchase of that house. Praise God, it's for The Work!" I believe him; I'm sure he had a number of dealings that involved Pat and his deceased wife's money, not the least of which was this house!
Nevertheless, George named the house, "Olivet house," and went on talking about how he was involved with a place called Olivet House years ago in the Los Angeles area [Westmoreland Chapel - its original name]. George went on to declare how this house must be bathed in prayer, and how it was going to take "the Work," to the next level, etc.
Well, the night he said all this was the last time either I or my wife ever listened to him again. He revealed himself as a proud arrogant man that night, and in a short time the center of "the Work," in San Luis Obispo needed to be sold, because the owner was broke! Now a bunch of worldly kids live in it, in spite of the fact that is was "bathed in prayer."
Tom Maddux: I was in the meeting at George's house with Steve Irons, Mark Miller and Mark Campbell. Mark C. wasn't a leading brother in Fullerton but he was waiting in my car for a ride home and George asked him to come in. George read us the verse from Ephesians and then burned two books. One was a biography of Alistair Crowley, and the other was a big book of poetry written by him. (Once I heard the owner of a used book store tell George that she would give $100 for a copy of that book. That was in the '70's.)
Alistair Crowley was the son of a Plymouth Brethren couple, who rejected Christianity and became a Devil worshipper and attempted to be a sorcerer. He was arrested several times for taking prostitutes to his home and then torturing and abusing them. He finally ended up in Sicily where he could get away with more and hobnob with his occult friends in the Golden Dawn society.
Now, as to George's involvement in the occult stuff. George had quite a bit of weird literature. I remember seeing the Tibetan books and some writings by Gurdjieff too. The "laughing Buddha" that Margaret speaks of was, I believe, a Chinese good luck god. You have probably seen them, fat belly and both hands up in the air. I questioned him as to the wisdom of all this. His reply was contemptuous of me. His spiritual stature protected him from harm by dark forces or such, and I was a bad person for objecting.
Now, I believe that he may have opened himself up to evil influences through this. Whether or not that is true, I believe that George is deluded. I knew him from 1970 to 1989. In the early days I spent a lot of time with him. It slowly dawned on me that he really believed that he was a specially chosen servant of God. At first his "apostolic" authority was implied, but as the years went by he moved closer and closer to an open claim of apostolic authority.
Once he gave a seminar, the third or fourth one, on the subject of "Priests After the Order of Melchizedek". Seems that Abraham, Moses, David, Paul and other Bible greats had a special access to God. They had special power in prayer, and a special anointing. He claimed that God was still working in this way, implying that he was a member of this order of priesthood (humble fellow, what?)
As time went by it became clear to me that: 1. He was claiming to be the center of God's working in purpose in this age. 2. That he actually believed this...that is...he was deluded. After I left, he published a Torch and Testimony article claiming "universal jurisdiction" and "universal authority". This means he believes that he is the supreme authority for the entire church!
Much of the information control practiced by the assembly was for the purpose of creating a world for George where he and Betty could live out their delusions.
I know that George and Betty are still denying any wrong doing. This is typical of this kind of delusion. They cannot do bad things. If bad things happen it is lies from the enemy or other people's fault. In my last conversation with George he told me, "I am not conscious of having sinned in years". Regarding his 40 year history of adultery, either that never happened, (in his mind), or he is so special that it was okay. George has never admitted any guilt.
In his pre-assembly days he was disciplined by his Plymouth Brethren assembly. The sister admitted it, but not George. This pattern continues today. [Tom was given this information by an elder at Creek Park Community Church.]
So...as to whether the assembly was scam, or was "raised up of God" (whatever that means) and went sour...I think that a very gifted and charismatic man, who had some serious character and psychological problems, preached the Word, sometimes faithfully and sometimes in his delusive understanding, and convinced a bunch of young, ignorant, idealistic young people to follow him. I know, I was one of them.
Brent T.: "Sister, in this ministry, we do not publicly correct the brethren"-- those were Tim Geftakys' exact words. It happened after a couple's meeting at the now-defunct Olivet House. Tim and George were in town and we asked to meet with them privately. At that point, we had no intention whatsoever of leaving the assembly. We simply wanted to let him know of some of our concerns. George was extremely condescending towards us, but the Lord really used that meeting to begin to open my eyes. Tim admitted that there had been some preaching by Dave Geftakys in San Luis Obispo that was "off, but you know -- he has health problems, he doesn't think straight sometimes", etc.
Also interesting was that it was during that same meeting that Tim told us that "contrary to some Christians' beliefs, God did not become a man." What? Now we were totally lost. What does the incarnation mean? I thought Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. But Tim proceeded to tell us that God always existed, and couldn't change to become anything or anyone. Therefore, it was his and George's view that God did not "become" a man. Thank God we were out of there within a year.
Editor: As time has gone by, more of these recollections have been reported. Some are small snippets of overheard conversations that are presented here anonymously. They are all first-person reports, not hearsay, but they've been reconstructed from memory and do not claim exact accuracy. We've not been able to confirm some of them in the mouth of two or more witnesses. Others are common knowledge and have been reported by many people. Some are shocking revelations. A few incidents and observations here have been mentioned elsewhere on the website, but it's handy to collect them here, too. We're grouping them by topic to try to give some kind of order to an odd bunch of telling factoids. As with the puzzle pieces above, they help flesh out the character of George and Betty Geftakys. They tend to substantiate the possibility of personality disorder described in the Perspectives section of the website.
George and Betty as Employers
George and the Money
George and His Family
George and His Appearance
George and Women
George and Betty’s Impropriety
George and Betty as Counselors
George and His Ministry
George and His Work Ethic
George and People Who Left the Assembly
George and the Leading Brothers
George always had a secretary. His first secretary was Ann Shanks, Ginger Geftakys' mother, who served as a volunteer. His later secretaries were paid, some more than others, but most of them well below minimum wage. Betty said to George's full-time secretary about her salary in the 1990s, "Twelve hundred dollars a month is plenty. There will be no raises. You make do with what you have, even if you have to cut all your family gifts from your budget. And make sure you don't put the income from this job on your taxes."
George and Betty did not pay withholding taxes on people who worked for them, nor did they provide medical, dental, disability or life insurance coverage. Secretary's did not receive paid sick leave; George sometimes insisted that his secretaries work even when ill. (Workers were sometimes required to attend Workers' Meetings when ill, also.)
There were no guaranteed holidays. Secretaries could be called in to work whenever George's whim dictated. There were always seminar meetings, of course, on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, Easter and Labor Day, so those were work days.
When one secretary was called to the bedside of her dying father, George refused to let her leave until he had finished his dictation. He said, "Keep working. I want to get this down, then you can go. I have peace that it's going to be okay." Her father died within the hour.
In addition to George's paid secretary, Betty had a full-time, live-in assistant / secretary / traveling companion as well. George and Betty expected other people to do many things for them without remuneration. Untold hours were donated by others toward the upkeep and remodeling of their house and garden. Housecleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, errands, even shining George's shoes, were done for them by people living in their home. George said to a Leading Brother's wife, "Are you my go’fer?", to which she dutifully replied, "Yes, I am." George said to Betty, "Look at all these servants we have to do things for us. Isn't it a blessing?" Betty's hearty response was, "Yes, it is!"
All the monies gathered from the Assembly were put on a desk in George's bedroom. A sister counted it out, and everything in excess of regular expenses was put in a desk drawer. Sometimes some of the money was missing; occasionally it was a considerable sum. When she would ask what happened to it, the answer was that George needed it. That was enough to forestall any further inquiry. George always said, "We don't have any savings. We just live from month to month." However, twelve thousand dollars in cash were found in a drawer after George and Betty left the Fullerton Assembly.
The salaries of full-time Workers (paid leaders selected by George) were monitored closely. They received a fixed amount each month (contrary to claims that, "There are no salaries in this place--we just trust the Lord.") George’s son, Tim, however, was given extra money whenever he asked for it. Sometimes it was large sums. Tim and Ginger also had personal benefactors who paid for vehicles, extended trips to Europe, etc.
Four or five times a year in the 1980’s and 1990’s, usually after seminars, George and Betty rented a beach house or hotels rooms costing between three thousand and five thousand dollars. On one occasion in the late 1980's, Betty took a Worker to a small shop in Santa Barbara and told her to pick out seven hundred dollars worth of clothes, because she had that amount left in traveler's checks that she wanted to use up.
People fawned over George and Betty and were eager to do them favors. One Assembly paid for the entire refurnishing of his study. A worker arranged for the publishing of his book of poetry. Gifts and money were freely donated out of gratitude, sometimes very large amounts. Others gave properties "for the Work." This was usually done through The Torch and Testimony.
George had no qualms about asking people for money. One worker was asked several times to fund his "journeys" to Asia. George asked Sister Mayo several times to deed the House of Prayer property to the Assembly. She refused to do so, saying that she wanted to reserve part of it for her daughter's inheritance. George taunted Steve Irons, Sister Mayo's son-in-law, "Brother, you're never going to see your inheritance out of the House of Prayer."
In at least one case, funds given for a specific outreach of "the Work" in another country never reached the Workers there. When G. Geftakys arrived for a visit, he saw the needs himself, and yet did nothing. He bought expensive new shoes for himself, while the Worker's shoes had holes and were coming apart.
By the late 1980's George had several places in his bedroom and study that were untouchable, even to his secretaries: his private email account, a wooden box where he kept his letters, the bottom shelf behind his desk, his G. H. Lang collection, his small green carrying bag, and his black suitcase. His occult books were off limits, too, although at least one of his secretaries went shopping with him at occult bookstores.
When he had his house remodeled in the 1970s, several secret compartments were built in. George requested several men in the Assembly to do the remodeling for him--with no remuneration, of course. One of the men, a chiropractor from Illinois who had come to Fullerton for a seminar, was bullied against his will to stay in town with his family for over a month afterward to help with the remodeling.
Eulaha L.: I remember one summer when I was helping with the taping of George's summer school. I had to go up to the podium to leave the microphone for George to clip to his shirt. However, George was not at the podium at the time. As I was placing the microphone on the podium, George comes out from nowhere and clutches his lecture notes! "What are you doing, sister?" he asked. When he saw what I was doing, he thanked me and asked to me go take a seat. I always thought that was weird -- as if I was going to steal some of his precious lecture notes!
Reply from Brent T., "Perhaps it would have looked like he copied some of his "revelations" out of a book? "
One of Betty's brothers and one of George's sisters were the only family members who ever called. Betty's niece and nephew have given a detailed perspective on her side of the family.
George gave his sister money every month. George said he led his parents and all his siblings to the Lord. One of his secretaries spoke with a family member about this later. The family denies this. His brother says George had nothing to do with him coming to Christ, although he did attend Assembly meetings for awhile in Santa Barbara. Family members have said things like, "George was always up to something shady from the beginning," and, "He said his profits from the assemblies were good."
George commented frequently about his appearance: how strong his legs were, how flat his stomach was, how he could still carry his own bags and outlast all the younger brethren on his "journeys". He would say, "I don’t think I’m especially handsome, but women find me attractive."
He very often fished for compliments: "How do I look? Don't I look great!?" "Everybody tells me I don't look my age, but my twin brother looks twice as old. Some of you young men look older than me. I look half my age, don't I?" "Look how much weight I lost! Just look at me! How do I look? You tell 'X' to lose weight. Look how great I'm doing!"
By the 1990s, George was regularly spending thousands of dollars on new clothes, such as shoes from Italy that cost hundreds of dollars. Betty would sometimes object, "You just bought a new jacket. You don't need another one." He would retort, "How do you know what I need?" Although not terribly extravagant by Orange County standards, George's vanity and spending money on himself were a contradiction to his constant preaching on "death to self" and "going the way of the Cross."
Someone who was present told the following humorous anecdote.
"One summer, George and Betty were at the beach house they rent for vacations. They had Gay M. as the "juicing" sister with them and Judy was along to help. George had been talking about the bathing suits he had seen in Europe. 'In Europe, you know, the women go topless--a real shame. But the men, now they have a great idea! They wear these great swim suits called Speedos. They are really neat. When I came back to the states I was amazed at how inexpensive they were, and they came in a package of three.'
George then disappeared into the bedroom, and came out wearing one of his new "swimsuits." The problem was, he wasn't wearing a Speedo swimsuit, but men's brief-style underwear!--colored cotton underwear complete with access flap in the front. Judy chased after him as he strode off down the beach, and whispered in his ear, "These are not swimsuits, they're underwear." "No, no, sister." George protested, "They're European-style swim wear." She continued to try to persuade him, to no avail. George continued down the beach. Gay went after him, and eventually persuaded him they were not swimwear, and he went back inside and changed. That was the last we ever heard of the 'European swimsuits.'"
George regularly took attractive single young women in the Assemblies to restaurants and coffee houses, and went for long walks and drives with them. Leading Brothers, and their wives, cautioned him, "We don't think you should go off with her alone." George dismissed their concern, saying it was okay, despite the fact that single brothers were not allowed to do such things. It was not even considered appropriate for single men and women to work out together at a gym, or go running together.
George made frequent comments about women. He would say, "I'm for the sisters," and "I like blondes." He even commented once about a waitress in a restaurant, in the presence of Betty and a Leading Brother and his wife, "I prefer small-breasted women." But George claimed, "Betty is the only woman I've ever looked at. She is the only woman I've ever been with."
Betty, however, said to a former Leading Brother's wife, in the presence of one of the women George had been romantically involved with, "You know husbands! They always have their little girlfriends on the side." Betty sometimes suspected sexual involvement, and said accusingly to one of the women George was particularly involved with, "What if you get pregnant?"
It was observed that George gave "Kristin" gifts, and frequently mailed overnight packages to her. He called her home several times a day, to the annoyance of her father, who asked him to stop calling. George then had his assistant place the calls. Betty said, "He's all up in the air about that girl. I'm not letting her move into this house."
George had one sister come over every Sunday night to massage his feet, back and gluteus maximus. Other women also gave him massages. It was not uncommon for George to wear his pajamas around women in his home. When Betty was asked about the massages and the pajamas, she replied, "That's just George." Even when he and Betty traveled to Hawaii, they would take a single sister to help them with diet and juices. She would also give George hand and foot rubs, and go for long walks with him.
After his excommunication, it was learned that George had in the past told his masseuse he was only waiting for his wife to die so he could marry his girlfriend.
George joked about African-Americans, even in their presence, saying, "Black people have big noses...big lips... nappy hair." He often said to one African-American person, "See you later, Alligator. Not too soon, Baboon." Betty was heard to remark, "We don't want to see black and white couples. Their children will turn out that strange gray color."
George read romantic fiction, and he sometimes commented that there were explicit passages he did not appreciate, but that didn't prevent him from finishing them and buying more by the same author. He also read occult books, and subscribed to an occult magazine for awhile.
George told brothers, "Brother, your problem is, you don't know how to control your wife. Are you going to let a wife tell you what to do? Are you going to let a wife lead you? If your wife doesn't obey you, tell her I'm not going to take this."
He said to people, "Listen to me, I'm your spiritual father. If you don't listen to me you're going to have trouble. You do what I say! I'm not going to let you miss out. God is not telling you that. Do what I'm telling you."
At other times he said, "Don't tell me your problems; you figure it out." He often didn't want to talk to people when they called, and would say, "Tell him I'm not here," or, "Tell him I just left." "
A sister's mother was dying of cancer and didn't know the Lord. She wanted to spend time with her and share the gospel. Incredibly, she was told that her mother needed to be left alone to consider her condition and thus come to the Lord through feeling her pain alone! The woman's visiting would only "rescue" her mother from facing the issue of sin in her life.
Sister Mayo began showing signs of dementia in her late eighties, and could no longer live alone. Betty commented that they might consider having her live in their home, because, "Your mother has never had her will crossed in her life. I would love to get my hands on her and teach her to go the way of the cross." (This didn't happen because shortly thereafter, Steve and I both came under suspicion of disloyalty.)
Betty counseled someone once, "Grace is not for this situation; grace is for things you can't do. Don't listen to me, see if I care. But it's going to come down on your own head. Is that how you're going to stand before the Lord?" To single brothers she was known to say, "You want to marry a young girl whom you can mold, not someone older who already knows what she wants to do."
But it must be said that apparently George could sometimes be sympathetic, although he never seemed to empathize. He wept at the death of a Leading Brothers wife. Both George and Betty had seasons of kindness and generosity with certain people, and reportedly, even contrition.
George Geftakys often spoke about his ministry (the sum of his preaching, teaching and the groups he had established):
- "I see my ministry like Billy Graham's."
- I've done a lot of good over the years. Don't you think I've done a lot of good?"
- What do you like about my ministry? What are people saying about my ministry?
- Some people have said that I'm a genius; what do you think?
- Some people have called me a great man. Bakht Singh said, "George Geftakys is a man of God."
- "You people are well-fed in this place. If you want deep ministry, listen to my tapes."
- "I tell you, brothers and sisters, if you knew what I wasn't telling you, you wouldn't let me out of here!"
- "I was doing all I could to teach at universities in America, but God has taken me around the world. I was the son of a gypsy sea captain in Greece—there’s a town in Greece named after my ancestors."
- "I want all my ministry saved and archived. One day there might be a book about me." (George was in the process of having his biography written, and had given many interviews on tape, which were in the process of transcription before his exposure.)
George arose early in the morning. He had a reputation for leaving the house very early in his car. On one occasion, when George left his house at 4 a.m., he was followed by two ex-Assembly members who wanted to find out what he did at such an hour. He drove very fast, but they followed him to Santa Monica, where he got off the freeway in a residential area. By coincidence, this was the morning of the Northridge earthquake. They lost track of him after the earthquake.
Later in his ministry, he is reported to have had the following routine. He usually went to Starbucks from 8 to 9 a.m. and read the newspaper. He would leave the house again from 12:30 to 2:30, supposedly for Starbucks. During the day he dictated letters and seminar notes. He often plagiarized whole sections out of books, without crediting the authors. He would have his secretary face away from him as he dictated his seminar notes, so she wouldn't see that he was quoting from a book. Then he listened to music, listened to the radio (he liked Benny Hinn), engaged in light reading, and drank coffee, while his secretary typed the letters, ministry notes, seminar notes, summer school notes, etc. Later he would say to people, in his secretary's presence, "Haven't we been working hard? Brother, I worked hard all day."
Once when he had been sick before a summer school, Betty suggested, "George, you're sick. You don't have time for meditating. Just take your whole summer school ministry out of this book." That particular summer school was entirely plagiarized without acknowledging the source.
Mistakes in notes and documents were blamed on others. When he had an incorrect Bible reference in seminar notes, he would publicly blame the secretary, although she had simply been taking dictation. One secretary forbade him to treat her this way and kept the documentation of George's handwritten notes to prove the errors were his.
George said about people who left the Assembly, "No-one ever leaves for doctrinal reasons. It's always moral." He had numerous comments on them. "He's a homosexual." "She's a witch." "He was chasing after sisters." "That's his loss. He's going to miss out on the Kingdom. God is going to judge him." "Get rid of him. He's a troublemaker. We don't need people like that around here. And if he comes back, you two guard the door. Goodbye, he needed to go. I don't care." "Don't talk to him anymore. It wouldn't be wise." When George received a complaint, or a letter from someone who had left fellowship, he shredded it.
George's attitude toward the Leading Brothers was often contemptuous, especially toward the end. "Why is it that God's people only get stirred up when I'm in town. Fullerton is weak. You brethren need to be more faithful at home. When I'm away, the mice will play. You men don't study your Bibles." "These Leading Brothers don't know what they're doing. Only brother 'X' and brother 'Y' understand my ministry. They are the only ones I can see doing a seminar." He often said, "If I weren't here, I don't know what you guys would do."
George told Leading Brothers what to do. A sister came to him with an issue, but he wouldn't listen to her. He told her, "You're going to get nowhere with the Leading Brothers, either. The Leading Brothers will do what I say."
In the later years Leading Brothers made suggestions about his ministry. He was not receptive. They asked him to have fewer seminars; he said, "I'm not going to do it." They asked him to let other brothers teach at seminars; he said, "That's a nice idea, but later."
When Judy's problem with David became known, Leading Brothers asked George what had happened. George said he didn't know anything. They asked him to stop supporting David financially, but he would not. They asked George to retire. He said, "I'll retire when I'm ready to. When I retire it's going to be in Asia or Africa. When I'm gone, Mark Miller is in charge." They asked him to step down. He said, "This is my ministry."
In January, 2003, after the Assembly meeting where he was disciplined, and "repented", George walked out of the meeting. A sister followed him to his car, and saw a look of utter hatred on his face. He said with venom, "Those brothers.!!!...They told me to leave! You'd better run inside quick before they find something else to accuse me of." The contrast to how he meek he had appeared in the meeting was so sudden and stark, she said it was as if a mask had momentarily slipped from his face.