Established August 23, 1997 © 1997 - present by Lois E. Gibson
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Dedicated to the memory of Michelle H. Fox.
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THE REASONS FOR THIS SITE
Why was this site started and why is there a secondary emphasis on one particular church organization? No matter how it is explained, there will be people who feel the site is wrong and that my motives are questionable. No one expects those currently associated with the United Pentecostal Church to be particularly pleased at finding a website dealing with issues pertaining to abuses of the ministry or error in teachings.
Upon leaving my church in late 1993, I initially felt it was a local problem due to the manner in which the pastor operated this particular church. However, when I purchased a computer two years later and ventured out in cyberspace, I encountered others coming from UPC churches that experienced similar circumstances. They were people from various walks of life and different areas of the country, even outside the United States. Some had been members a short time, while others stayed many years or had been raised in the church. There were people who held ministerial licenses, those who had various positions or duties in their churches, and some that simply attended and were not involved in a leadership position. It soon became evident that these problems were not restricted to my local United Pentecostal church.
For years my former pastor had operated this church, being the sole authority figure. In other words, he made main changes, ran everything, and was accountable to no one in the church. There was a board of directors and trustees, which were often not voted on when they should have been, nor were business meetings always announced or conducted properly. The board and trustees had no real authority to question the pastor on any matters and the pastor could remove any of them at will. A church operated in this manner, no matter what organization it is associated with, is a church filled with opportunities for ministerial abuse.
I knew many others who had been hurt during the course of their membership, with more being hurt after my departure. The NJ/DE District Superintendent had been aware of at least some of the situations at my former church and did not intervene, even though the church was affiliated. In fact, my former pastor had accused him of “stealing people” from our church. The organization attempts to portray itself as simply a ministerial alliance and not a denomination, however they count churches as well as church attendance and yearly publish a directory of UPC churches.
In 1997 I attended a gathering of former members of abusive groups and it was at this point I felt led to take an active role in exposing abuse in churches and to specifically help those who left the United Pentecostal Church. This web site was slowly established and through the years has evolved into what you see today. An online support group was founded in May of 2000 as part of E-groups, who later was taken over by Yahoo! Groups. In August of 2003, the group became a direct part of this site.
So, why the focus on the United Pentecostal Church and not every Bible-based church? Simply put, I was a long time member in a UPC church and am most familiar with this group. To directly include abuses and concerns found in every Bible-based group is too much for one website to handle. In order to address other abuses and issues, links are made to concerns brought by people who have more knowledge of other church organizations or ministries. (See the links under Resources.)
The focus on one group does not imply that other church organizations do not have similar problems, or that every minister in the United Pentecostal Church International is guilty of spiritual abuse.
Allow me to give an example from personal experience. My former pastor taught that a woman who cuts her hair is equated with a whore and will not be taken in the rapture unless she has repented. Another UPC minister in the same area did not believe that a person's salvation is at stake with regard to this doctrine. He allowed anyone who cut their hair to attend the church, but would not use them in an official capacity. Unlike some, he would permit them to testify and participate in other church activities. These men from the same organization, with vastly different perspectives, show that the manner in which some doctrine is taught and applied will vary according to the individual minister.
With respect to spiritual abuse, I do feel that the organization itself should be held partly responsible in cases where it is aware of a problem at an individual church and does not investigate or intervene. These ministers hold licenses issued by the UPC, making them therefore representative of the organization, so the UPC has a duty to investigate allegations of abuse and revoke licenses.
I once was a family day care provider. By law, the sponsoring agency (under DYFS) must investigate any allegation of misconduct against a provider, even if they feel the complaint is unfounded. That was made very clear when applying for state certification. Should not church organizations investigate allegations of misconduct or abuse by their licensed ministers? If they are aware of a possible problem, and do not take action or cover it up, should they not be held at least partly accountable for permitting any abuse or misconduct to continue?
If a minister says or writes anything contrary to UPC doctrine from their Articles of Faith, they can be brought before the respective District Board, where any disciplinary action will be decided. Could we then encounter a situation where a minister could say something such as "there's nothing wrong with women cutting their hair" and that would receive action, whereas allegations such as we discuss here are swept under the rug or virtually ignored?
This site is my attempt to bring attention to the problem of spiritual abuse and the lack of oversight in UPC churches, as well as expose some unbiblical teachings. It is also a place for those who have been hurt or abused in any church to find help and support.
This site is not against the people in the UPC as there are a great many sincere members and ministers who truly love God, nor do I take the stand that some do and not consider them Christians. However, I am against the spiritual abuse that is found in too many of these churches, as well as their unbiblical teachings that harm many.
I have endeavored to present issues in a reasonable and fair manner. Opportunity is given to current UPC members to share and when doctrinal matters are presented, ample access is provided to UPC writings. I know of no other website addressing the UPC that presents the issues in this manner.
|Reasons For The Site|
|What Is Spiritual Abuse?|
|My Background & Beliefs|
|Letter to UPCI Members|
|UPCI Articles of Faith|
|UPCI Position Papers|
|UPCI Ministerial Affirmation|
|The Apostolic Congress|
|UPCI, Apostolic & Pentecostal History|
|Helpful Books & DVDs|
|Apostolic & Pentecostal Issues|
|Jim Ross Devotionals|
|Experiences of Former Members|
|Current UPCI Members Speak|
|You Can Help|