The Role of the Leading Brothers in the Assembly
Verne: "George understood that the only type of men he could allow to rise to positions of authority in his hierarchy were men he could absolutely control. To be sure, there were telling tests along the way. Men who failed the test departed or were ruthlessly driven out - Wenneborgs in Tuscola, John Malone in Omaha, Chubby Todd in Champaign, Paul Hohulin in Champaign etc. etc. There is a name for every Assembly, as represented by the slew of quality individuals leaving George and company over the long years of his corrupt charade. The departure of Steve Irons from Fullerton should have had seismic repercussions among that flock, but what happened? They pressed on!
Certainly many left, but the point of the matter is that George would never have survived without the staunch support of the puppets surrounding him. George fully understood that men of genuine integrity who got close enough to observe the inner workings of his empire would ultimately challenge him if they were not suborned. It is my opinion that anyone who rose to power under George Geftakys and remained there for any length of time would by definition be compromised.
As I indicated, George knew what kind of man he was and knew full well others would eventually find out. So it is clearly not a matter of if the leadership knew about that family but when. When the story is fully told, I believe the evidence will show they hid dark secrets for years.
What do you think he would think of men who, knowing this, allowed him to continue in the position he held for decades? The only fitting description is contempt. His ex-communication by the men in Fullerton was a last-ditch effort to save face after the entire cesspool had been uncovered for public scrutiny. It was quite obvious that they were trying to get him to quietly ride off into the sunset while they continued business as usual. It was George's foolish insistence on being capo di tutti capi ["boss of all bosses", a phrase used by the Mafia], even behind the scenes, that eventually forced the the hand of the brethren. The filth flowing out of George's life was certainly no new discovery. Perhaps the contempt was mutual."
Margaret: "Verne, your opinions regarding the Leading Brothers are disturbing to me—that they hid dark secrets for years, that any who remained in power for years were by definition compromised, not men of integrity, that they only excommunicated George to save face. These are serious allegations that do not take into account the depth and power of George’s thought reform techniques.
These men were trapped, because they loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him, and believed the Assembly was the only place that could happen. That was a real deception. (Most of those who escaped years earlier either did not believe this or were forced out.) The Leading Brothers sat in Leading Brothers meetings week after week getting viciously beaten up in the name of God, with capricious rewards thrown in occasionally for loyalty. Periodically they were given demonstrations of what happened when someone disapproved or disagreed with George. In the face of such traumatic shaming sanctions, the natural human self-protective mechanism is denial—the mind automatically represses perceptions and reactions that will bring pain if expressed. We can criticize them for being in denial, but we didn’t live through years of that kind of treatment. From the outside, we do not understand how that kind of coercion changes one’s perceptions.
While I agree with you that George was contemptuous of his followers, I disagree that the Leading Brothers excommunicated him only to save face. Quite to the contrary, they were frustrated and furious when George pre-empted them with his letter of “retirement”, in effect thumbing his nose at them and saying, “You can’t really touch me.”
I wish that we would stop trying to build a case to indict the Leading Brothers. At least some of them are tentatively reading the bulletin board and this website. I think it would help them and us more to examine what were the elements of George’s system and teaching that were abusive and wrong, so that we can all change. I think the topic of deception can be discussed productively by focusing on the content of the deceptions, rather than on trying to figure out who was/is deceived. We all were/are, to a greater or lesser degree. We all still have some degree of the mind control operating in us, and that is one of the main reasons that discussions on the bulletin board tend to disintegrate into judging and ad hominem attacks. We learned it well. "
Verne: "While I agree with this statement, apparently the Leading Brothers do not. Their actions in the wake of George's departure suggest an unwillingness to truly accept culpability for what happened. While it is true that George intimidated them, this is neither a good nor a sufficient reason for a man of God to not take a stand. Ultimately, the clear reason for their inaction is inescapable - cowardice.
While we can understand this, it would be an egregious error to excuse it; we would fail to learn from it in that case. I can only conclude that they feared George more than they feared God. Recent attempts to revive the "Work" further suggests a complete failure to understand the truth of your observations regarding the influence in their lives of George Geftakys. I am still aflame over the on-going treatment of Judy Geftakys for which they are all partly to blame.
They were trapped willingly. If they were content to accept the abuse that is one thing. The most offensive thing about this, though, was their willingness to stand by and let this happen to others. Margaret, the standard
Margaret: "Perhaps saints in other places are not aware of the indoctrination that took place intensively in Fullerton regarding George’s character, right from the beginning. It was forcefully and repeatedly emphasized that just as God used Jacob to become the father of the nation Israel, so God was using George. “Thou worm, Jacob, I will thresh mountains with thee.” This was the paraphrase of Is. 41:14 that was used to justify the repeated exhortation to “let George be George” when anyone had a criticism of George’s ways. Then, of course, the topic was immediately turned to flaws in the life of the one who dared raise a criticism. And this was just a sidebar to the constant allusions to the apostolic character of George’s ministry.
These concepts were communicated to the saints in general, they were drummed into the Workers, and they were used as whips in the Leading Brothers meetings. The issue was not that over the years the Leading Brothers feared a man more than they feared God; the issue was that they were led to believe that the man was the instrument of God. Distinction between God and the man was blurred. That was a deception.
When the issue of David and Judy began to surface, we have been told that at least one Leading Brother did go to Judy and ask her about it. And she denied it. Did he ask in such a way as to be intimidating or confusing? Probably. Bearing in mind the indoctrination, he was going to need some very strong proof if he were to seriously entertain the possibility of wrongdoing. Did she feel herself in a position to prove her case? Of course not. When the issue of immorality surfaced, this brother questioned one of the women about, with the same result. Predictably. Predictable not because the Leading Brother or the women were primarily at fault, but predictable because the whole abusive system was tightly in place. It might also be called a cultic system--thought reform was the order of the day.
From personal conversations, we can attest that at least some of the Leading Brothers recognize their cowardice. They abhor their inability to stand up to George, they are having to painfully go back and look at the clues they ignored over the years. And they are having to do it without the comfort of knowing that the price for their failure has already been paid in total by Christ, because they have not yet seen the fallacy of works-based righteousness. They still believe that their inheritance in Christ, their standing as sons of God, is in jeopardy. They still believe that the Assembly is the only place where they could serve the Lord—other churches are dead, or at best second-rate.
Verne, have you considered that one of the reasons for their silence is the huge amount of blame, anger, misinformation and animosity against them out here?"
Verne: "I have Margaret. I did not begin primarily with the Leading Brothers. I started with George Geftakys, then I waited...and waited...as did others I am sure. I will tell you frankly, while I have spoken privately to several brothers who have personally expressed regret over their part in the entire affair, to date I have seen only one public expression of deep humility, regret and remorse from any high in a position of responsibility around George. Tears flowed with compassion, sorrow and love for the man who wrote it: Thomas Maddux. It probably was no easier for Tom to write what he did than it was for him to leave George's ministry so many years ago.
It must be clear to anyone reading the things I write that my primary intention is not to win friends, but it is indeed to influence people. Whom am I trying to influence? Certainly not the former leadership. For ill or for good, I have already drawn conclusions. I write out of a consuming passion for those currently and potentially shepherds of God's precious flock who read here. It is too late to prevent damage caused by the weakness of the men around Geroge Geftakys. It is not too late to try and prevent others from making the same mistakes. To those individuals, my appeal is simple: SET THE STANDARD!"
December 2004, Bob Franzese: I would like to commend Gretchen W. on her well thought-out and extremely well written article about the Assembly in Omaha and the major issues that surrounded it. It was flat-out spot-on accurate. I am sure it took a lot of courage to write and post that article. For that she should be commended.
The thing that sticks out to me most in Gretchen's article are :
- Her comments regarding former "Leading" Brothers who are still
making themselves available for counsel.
- Leading Brothers and people who wish to see the Assemblies restarted
in their communities
- Former members of the Assembly and Leading Brothers who have gotten involved in positions of leadership in other churches.
Simple reason would demand that former Assembly leaders have absolutely no business doing any of these things. They were trained by wicked and deceitful men, George and Tim Geftakys. These two men had absolutely no business inflicting their opinions on their own family, much less thousands of people across the United States. If you factor these thoughts and combine it with the fact that not one lecture George Geftakys ever gave made one bit of sense.....Need I say more?
How much more clear can it be that the former Leading Brothers are the ones who need the most guidance and counsel and under no circumstances should they be subjecting anyone to their twisted views?
I still wish that after returning from California in 1993 I had raised holy heck about what was so blatantly obviously wrong with the Assembly. All one had to do was take one trip out there and spend about 20 minutes observing the Fullerton Assembly to realize that manipulation, deceit, greed, nepotism, and dishonesty were the foundation the Assembly stood on.
From the time I was two until I was nineteen, I was subjected to the twisted views, teachings and ways of life of that god-forsaken place known as the Assembly. Outside of school, I spent more time there than anywhere else. I would love to just "get over it", but it just isn't that simple. The guilt and confusion that I felt while growing up in the Assembly and in the years after I left that place--there was just no reason for it. Once I am convinced that the Assembly system is dead forever, then maybe I'll get over it.