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International Church of Christ

News Summaries from ICSA PeriodicalsWhile in custody in Canada on charges of abduction for taking her children to France to keep them from her former husband and the influence of the International Church of Christ, Nathalie Getliffe’s boyfriend — the French writer Francis Gruzelle — and other supporters continue to attack the French courts for ordering the children’s return. Gruzelle, who will run against the French Minister of Justice in the next election, says the children are being abused like the character Cosette, one of the “poor wretches” in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. French president Jacques Chirac has asked Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ensure Canada gives “detailed attention” to Getliffe’s health as she prepares to give birth to her fourth child.[csr 5.3 2006]

Scott Grant, who recently gained custody of their two children from his wife, Nathalie Getliffe, says she poisoned their minds against him, telling them he didn’t want them and that they’d be in danger if they returned to Canada because he is a member of the International Church of Christ, which she calls a “cult.” Grant says that his calm explanation of the truth about him and the International Church dissipated the children’s high anxiety and now they are happy to be with him. In response to profound concerns about their mother’s imprisonment, he says he told them her case would be helped if they returned from France to Canada, thus putting an end to the “crime” she had committed in abducting them. He has also taken them to visit her in a Vancouver prison, where she is being held for trial; she was arrested earlier this year while visiting Canada to defend a doctoral dissertation.[csr 5.3 2006]

Nathalie Getliffe, detained by Canadian authorities for allegedly kidnapping her two children and taking them to France to keep them away from the influence of their father and his International Church of Christ congregation in Canada, has given birth to another child, at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, in Vancouver. The newborn’s father is Francis Guzelle [a well known personality in France who has been leading a media campaign there in support of Getliffe.] [csr 5.3 2006]

International Church of Christ
Nathalie Gettliff, 35, has been jailed in British Columbia for abducting her children and taking them to France to keep them from the influence of their father and his church, the International Church of Christ. A French court ruled that Getliffe had breached the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. She was arrested when she returned to Vancouver to defend her doctoral dissertation at the University of British Columbia. [csr 5.2 2006]

British Columbian Scott Grant, a member of the International Church of Christ, has regained custody of his children in France, where his estranged wife had taken them, saying the children were not safe with him because he belonged to a “cult.” A French court ruled that Nathalie Getliffe Grant had breached the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. She was arrested when she returned to Vancouver to defend her doctoral dissertation at the University of British Columbia.[csr 5.2 2006]

Nashville Church/International Churches of Christ
Cult-like Tactics Alleged
Two former members of The Nashville Church, an affiliate of the International Churches of Christ, have sued the organization in Williamson County Chancery Court claiming the church uses cult-like tactics, manipulation, peer pressure, and guilt to force members into tithing and making other financial donations. Seventeen-year members Jack and Kay Pelham want to recover over $93,000 in tithings and offerings. The ICC, which has congregations around the U.S. and internationally, has on a number of occasions been accused of cultic practices, including the micro-management of members’ lives. (Mitchel Kline, The Tennessean, Internet, 6/22/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Recruiting at U of Oregon
The International Church of Christ (ICOC), banned from a number of campuses in the US and Canada, and having lost thousands of members in recent years following revelations of financial abuse and authoritarian control of followers, is now recruiting among students at the University of Oregon, in Eugene. [csr 3.1 2004]

Church founder Kip McKean, senior minister in the ICOC Portland church, who has sent 18 members to proselytize among the 30,000 students at nine colleges in the Eugene area, acknowledged that some campus bans for “over-the-top” proselytizing were justified. “Someone would say, ‘I’d rather not come to your church,’ and if we pressed it again, then we’re ‘harassing’ — that’s the buzzword,” he said. McKean agreed there was some truth to charges of excessive control of members, but said the church has worked hard to correct any abuses. “There definitely was a problem, but absolutely we’ve addressed it.”[csr 3.1 2004]

Nonetheless, several former members who live in the area have mounted a flier campaign warning students against involvement. Chad Reyes says he was pressured to recruit members and tithe 10 percent. When he fell short he said he was told he was “‘in sin’ and not in relationship with God,” and that questioning his mentor was like questioning God. He said there were many young people “who will drop everything to be a fry cook until they can be a disciple,” if that’s what they’re told to do. McKean, he added, “taps into that zeal . . . he loves campuses and young people.” (Jeff Wright, Eugene Register-Guard, Internet, 1/26/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

International Churches of Christ/Boston Movement
Reforms Announced
The South Florida branch of the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) [in the wake of the resignation of worldwide leader Kip McKean] says that the ICOC “discipleship” policy, in which senior members shepherd more junior members, became less a matter of “advice” and more a matter of “law.” In a long open letter, the branch says: “Effective immediately, we are ending the practice of a discipleship tree, or one-over-another discipling [sic] . . . and also the practice of assigning discipleship partners.” [csr 2.2 2003]

The letter also says that the branch will not continue to press members to give more money in order to meet extended financial goals and that it will try to rely more on the elders rather than on “one-man leadership” of congregations. As to the strict dating rules for unmarried members: “We reject and refute these types of rules which are an attempt to ‘legislate’ morality and wisdom. . . The bible should be the only thing that governs how we conduct ourselves in dating. From www.southflchurch.0rg /apology.htm, Internet, posted 3/9/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

The Los Angeles Church of Christ sent out a similar letter dated 2/28/03 and posted on www.upcyberdown.org/GV/LA/ 2003/02/24/LA–Apology_Letter.htm [csr 2.2 2003]

Kip McKean’s resignation as leader of a church with hundreds of congregations around the world came when his daughter, a Harvard student, spurned the ICOC, saying that she’d “had enough.” He had preached that if a child left the church, there must be something wrong in the family, and that parents of an apostate ought to retire from the ministry. [csr 2.2 2003]

Former members tell how followers who failed to give 10 percent of their income, or who did not recruit enough new members, were publicly humiliated, and those who questioned authority were shunned or thrown out. “All major decisions would have to be run through your discipler,” said a former leader. “Vacations, going home . . . If you are spending too much time with old friends, that would be frowned upon, unless you are recruiting them. All your free time is accounted for. Dating has to be pretty much approved. You can only date people in the group.” (Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, Internet, 5/17/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Reform Doubted
Critics of the International Churches of Christ (ICOC, sometimes known as the Boston Movement) doubt that the resignation of leader Kip McKean, who cited his own arrogance and family problems for the move, means that the group will abandon “troubling” practices, including an extreme form of Christian “discipling” that many say is abusive. McKean’s resignation letter does not say his teachings are wrong, but that he did not live them himself, says Don Veinot, Jr., president of Midwest Christian Outreach, a Chicago apologetics ministry. [csr 2.2 2003]

A few years ago McKean’s daughter said she wanted to leave the ICOC, which has been banned from numerous college campuses, because “I thought that the only place I could find true freedom would be outside the church.” McKean said in his resignation letter that he had created an atmosphere in which people “were afraid to speak up” and that he caused “others to stumble” by focusing “more on numeric goals than on pleasing God.”[csr 2.2 2003]

An ICOC spokesman said that changes do not concern “doctrinal issues” but rather “growth issues, and emphasize teamwork and consensus, thus reducing dependence on one individual.” He added that ICOC churches would become more autonomous thanks to a “maturing of the movement.” (Timothy R. Callahan, Christianity Today, March 2003, p. 26, Internet posting 6/26/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

International Churches of Christ (ICC)
Recruiting in Penn State Area
The controversial International Church of Christ, which has been banned on a number of college campuses around the country, has entered the State College area, where Penn State University is located. “[The ICC is] a cult. There is no way around it,” said Michael Wilk, evangelist of the State College Church of Christ. “It’s a very controlling lifestyle. If a member ever decides they want out, the church will make it very difficult. And if they do manage to get out, it will be a long time until they can think on their own again.”[csr 2.1 2003]

“They [the ICC] usually target people on the outside, like freshmen,” Wilk added. “At first they give them a lot of attention and love. The next step is when they take over the person’s entire life. Members of this group feel like they can’t do anything without asking first.” Former ICC members confirmed these criticisms, but ICC representatives denied them. [csr 2.1 2003]

Taylor (not his real name), a Penn State University student, tells how he became a member of the ICC after attending a “Bible talk” and then a number of religious and social events. He said, “They prey on the vulnerable.” At first it was enjoyable, but then the group started expecting more, and “it got really suffocating.” Taylor added that they used “guilt trips” to bring his beliefs in line with the ICC’s. Now an ex-member, Taylor watches as others alienate themselves from friends and family. (Nicole Dobo, Collegian, Internet, 11/11/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Leader McKean Resigns
Kip McKean, a “woefully abusive leader,” and his wife Elena, have resigned from leadership positions in the International Church of Christ, leaving open the question of whether or not the key teachings and practices of the ICC will remain in place. (Michelle Campbell, Director and Co-founder, Reveal.org [an apparent critic of McKean], Internet, 11/15/02)[csr 2.1 2003]

Banned from Calgary Campus
The Christian Advance Club, an arm of the controversial International Churches of Christ (ICC), has been denied official club status by the University of Calgary Students’ Union because of the church’s history on college campuses throughout North America and Europe. It has been banned from over 40 campuses, including Harvard and the University of British Columbia because, according to the Chaplains’ Centre at the University of Calgary, “it employs manipulative recruitment practices, solicitation of students, peer control, and door-to-door dorm conscription.” [csr 2.1 2003]

Chaplain Tim Nethercott said that international students, away from home and lonely, are particularly vulnerable. (Jennifer Ludbrook, Gauntlet, University of Calgary, Internet, 11/21/02) [csr 2.1 2003] 

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