Charity Mennonites

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Charity Mennonites

Postby Barabbas » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:54 pm

Could someone help me understand the 'Charity' sect of Mennonites? In another thread i referenced them and some scoffed at the distinction while others chuckled at the terminology. Who are they?
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby PastorRich » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:09 pm

Barabbas wrote:Could someone help me understand the 'Charity' sect of Mennonites? In another thread i referenced them and some scoffed at the distinction while others chuckled at the terminology. Who are they?

A cult like group of plain people who gave their leaders almost godlike reverence. They had a good beginning but seriously ending up being worse than what they left. Do an internet search on them. Its will be interesting I can assure you. I used to love the group til i started to find out weird things like a 40 yr. old man who was never married needed to get the leaders permission to start dating. There was even a man among them that castrated himself so he could better prepare himself to do mission work among the prostitutes. Just a lot of weird stuff coming out of this group.
" And I thank Christ Jesus who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful putting me into the ministry although I was formerly a blasphemer but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." 1 Timothy 1:12-13
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby Barabbas » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:11 pm

WOW! That's some strange stuff (and quite consistent with the situation I experienced last weekend). I assume these specific situations you referenced are verified and not just hearsay? Also, when did they start? where did they come from? what is their 'creed'? etc?
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby PastorRich » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:18 pm

I once had a meeting with one of the main leaders when another younger leader kept acting goofy and disrespectful as I tried to talk. I finally told the main leader you better reign this mad dog in. What was this mans main attitude problem with me? He didn't like folks from Florida. Said they were all lukewarm and spiritually indifferent.

Here is their website if you are interested. http://www.charityministries.org/?A5W_S ... 2f8196ca99
" And I thank Christ Jesus who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful putting me into the ministry although I was formerly a blasphemer but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." 1 Timothy 1:12-13
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby PastorRich » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:20 pm

Barabbas wrote:WOW! That's some strange stuff (and quite consistent with the situation I experienced last weekend). I assume these specific situations you referenced are verified and not just hearsay? Also, when did they start? where did they come from? what is their 'creed'? etc?

Its verified and not hearsay. I knew the man who fixed himself. The story of the 40 yr old needing permission to date was in one of their church periodicals.
" And I thank Christ Jesus who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful putting me into the ministry although I was formerly a blasphemer but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." 1 Timothy 1:12-13
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby PastorRich » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:24 pm

Charity Ministries is a ministry of Charity Christian Fellowship and Ephrata Christian Fellowship, both located in Lancaster County, PA. It publishes a bimonthly magazine, has an extensive mission outreach in Africa, holds meetings across North America, and sends out thousands of Gospel messages on cassette, CD, and the Internet each year.

Many years ago God began working in the hearts of a former Amish man and a Baptist preacher. Mose Stoltzfus and Denny Kenaston both became burdened seeing the lack of spirituality in many churches. Their hearts locked together with a vision to get back to a revived, New Testament, Christ-centered church. With this vision before their eyes, they began Charity Christian Fellowship in 1982.
" And I thank Christ Jesus who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful putting me into the ministry although I was formerly a blasphemer but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." 1 Timothy 1:12-13
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Church of God

Postby Barabbas » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:44 pm

There's a Church of God (Reformation) near my hometown of Greenville, OH. They dress like Mennonites and have some similarly strange customs/ideas (40 yr old asking permission to date, castarating oneself for ministry among prostitutes, etc). Is there any connection between the two groups?
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby Dan Z » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:06 pm

There is no connection between the Church of God Restoration and the Charity churches...although there are some similarities (we attended Charity for a while, and retain a number of contacts. We also have contacts in the COG Restoration, and have attended their annual meetings a few times).

Similarities: Both attract Conservative and Old Order Anabaptists seeking spiritual vibrancy. Both also draw radical spirtual seekers from all over. Both teach a strongly revivalist/evangelistic message and worship & preach with convicting zeal and vigor. Both prescribe a radical seperatism & holiness in life, dress, & conduct. Both have an end-times message. Both have authoritarian leanings.

Differences: Charity is more Anabaptist/fundamentailst in DNA, the COGR folks come out of the Weslyan/holiness stream. The COGR folks believe they are the one true church and their leader, Danny Lane is an Apostle whom God has chosen when the seventh seal was broken. I've never heard this type of spiritual hubris at Charity. Also, the COG folks believe true Christians are sinless.

In a nut shell...Charity may be accused of being overzealous at worst...but the COGR movement looks alot like a cult to me.
To believe the promise of Jesus that his followers shall posses the earth, and at the same time to face our enemies unarmed and defenseless, preferring to incur injustice rather than doing wrong ourselves, is indeed the narrow way - Bonnhoeffer
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby mikef » Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:19 pm

PastorRich wrote:I once had a meeting with one of the main leaders when another younger leader kept acting goofy and disrespectful as I tried to talk. I finally told the main leader you better reign this mad dog in. What was this mans main attitude problem with me? He didn't like folks from Florida. Said they were all lukewarm and spiritually indifferent.

Here is their website if you are interested. http://www.charityministries.org/?A5W_S ... 2f8196ca99


I have an article in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of their Heartbeat of the Remnant magazine on that website. It's been over five years since I attended a Charity-affiliated congregation but I still have a lot of friends there. I dedicated my life to following Jesus at Charity revival meetings and went to Charity Bible Schools. I went to a Charity-associated church for almost ten years. There's plenty of good to say and some bad also.

The movement seems to be having some extreme problems as the original leaders are fairly well out of the picture for whatever reason. It never was a denomination as such but a few men were the sort of backbone of the movement. It's a very fragmented group of churches and becoming more so. It's a movement that has attracted many conservative and old order Anabaptists, as well as many conservative fundamentalist/evangelicals (widely spoken of as "remnant people"). The two groups often pass each other, as each seems to the other to be heading where the other group came from.

I would have a hard time classifying Charity (the congregation, or the associated movement) as a cult. However as DanZ said they have been extremely authoritarian at times. But in other ways they are a fairly loosely controlled group as well. From what it sounds like to me, the Charity movement and its associated churches are fragmenting and consist of various loosely connected congregations each of which may have significant differences with the others. I don't think this is a bad thing necessarily. Even though I am not technically a member of a church that sees itself as a part of the Charity circles I still have much in common with them even in spite of plenty of differences.
Amid poverty and suffering, hunger and thirst, they are meek, merciful, and peacemakers... although it is for their sake alone that the world is allowed to continue, and it is they who protect the world from the wrath and judgment of God. - Bonhoeffer
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby happymom4 » Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:44 pm

Some of our very good friends are now part of a "Charity" church after coming from non-plain background. When we first started learning to know each other about 15 years ago, they were not plain. It's been a blessing to watch God lead them, and change their lives and purpose. The Mr. is now a pastor in a Charity affiliated church. We have a lot of respect for them personally, but have never felt clear to affiliate ourselves with their congregation. In spite of all that, we have continued as friends, even though they don't much approve of our BMA church. We simply don't make a point of majoring on our differences in church affilation.
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby barbara10 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:45 am

I had an interesting experience writing to Charity. A few years ago their newsletter talked about how spiritually dead the Hutterites were. Well, I wrote them that Don Murphy (http://www.anabaptistchurch.org) had visited some near Spokane who were really alive spiritually, and that they shouldn't generalize about an entire group. The response I got was that the Hutterites were locked into man-made tradition and not really spiritual . . . A "don't confuse me with the facts" kind of answer!
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby mikef » Sat Jul 03, 2010 9:57 pm

barbara10 wrote:I had an interesting experience writing to Charity. A few years ago their newsletter talked about how spiritually dead the Hutterites were. Well, I wrote them that Don Murphy (http://www.anabaptistchurch.org) had visited some near Spokane who were really alive spiritually, and that they shouldn't generalize about an entire group. The response I got was that the Hutterites were locked into man-made tradition and not really spiritual . . . A "don't confuse me with the facts" kind of answer!


There was a similar but more recent incident wherein Peter Hoover wrote in a response to an article about the Russian Mennonites that was factually inaccurate, and he apparently received a courteous and humble reply or apology and the article was taken down from their website. Maybe attitudes are changing.
Amid poverty and suffering, hunger and thirst, they are meek, merciful, and peacemakers... although it is for their sake alone that the world is allowed to continue, and it is they who protect the world from the wrath and judgment of God. - Bonhoeffer
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby Jazman » Sun Jul 04, 2010 4:38 pm

My family began attending 'the' charity church very soon after that 1982 beginning and were there for the next 10 yrs. It definitely had an impact on my spiritual journey. I think there were some positive contributions, particularly the ideas of radical noncomformity and the gutsy critique of the american christian/evangelical status quo.
But I know many people who would say they were 'scarred' by charity, would concur with PastorRich's assessment that they are a cult would have nothing good to say about charity people. (Many of my family and acquaintances were there too at one time and charity continues to be the running butt of many jokes, scoffing etc.) I believe that assessment is somewhat harsh and focuses only on the aberrant found within charity. But that may be mainly because my overall experience was not that bad. Yes, there is/was draconian (even foolish) authoritarianism. Yes, there were some wacko's around...but what religious movement or denomination doesn't have those kinds of things somewhere in their history/closets? I would believe none.
While at charity, I was able, mostly via my personality, able to fly under the radar of the ministry and keep a clean sheet as far as rebellious confrontation...so I experience less contention/pain than others. However, if I had stayed longer, I don't think that would have continued for much longer. As a new graduate of a more liberal than charity mennonite high-school (that in itself was pretty un-charity like) with contacts and experiences in other less rigid, less "we-are-the-only-remnant" settings, my comfort level at charity was changing quickly.
My parents left under more contentiousness, and I quietly followed soon after. I have little to no hard feelings, bitterness or discomfort with charity people I meet throughout life...in fact I enjoy the reunions immensely and would welcome more, even knowing that I might be looked down on (considered too liberal) by some. And I will disagree and contend strongly with them over some issues, but there are some areas where I would encourage and bless them in and even find a deep soul satisfying rapport/fellowship. Some of the things I've read in their Remnant magazine have been encouraging, provocative and challenging. Hardly perfect, but I do think they have a prophetic, challenging role in the midst of the dominant american laodicia.
Finally, Barabas, become acquainted with some Charity people. Relate to them as another part of the body of Christ. That will be the only real way to learn about them. Maybe you'll be surprised by what you learn and experience.
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby PastorRich » Sun Jul 04, 2010 6:50 pm

Jazman says,
But I know many people who would say they were 'scarred' by charity, would concur with PastorRich's assessment that they are a cult would have nothing good to say about charity people.

In my earlier post I said they are "cult like." I would like to point out that while I think they bear cult like symptoms, I still do not consider them a cult.
" And I thank Christ Jesus who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful putting me into the ministry although I was formerly a blasphemer but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." 1 Timothy 1:12-13
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Re: Charity Mennonites

Postby happymom4 » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:33 pm

We used to get the Heartbeat of the Remnant, and then as we were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with some things in the Charity sermons etc. we dropped it. This discussion triggered a desire in me to look and see if they had any recent back issues posted on-line--just as a curiosity thing. I was rather surprised (pleasantly so) to find this http://www.charityministries.org/therem ... oupism.a5w I will hasten to say that I did NOT read it thoroughly, but the fact that they even seemed to be aware that there could be a danger of having a scoffing or scornful attitude was interesting to me, as I heard so much of that previously esp. in some of the sermons by one of the key leaders. I hope that they are maturing in godly discernment and wisdom, as should we be all, and correcting places where they had been in error.

Personally, I know it's very easy when I see things in my former church that grieve me to become scoffing or condescending. I don't need encouragement to do so from a pastor, because I don't believe that attitude is a useful one in the body of Christ. To be honest about failures and weaknesses, yes. But not to be bitter or mocking. (It's late, I'm tired, I hope all this makes sense.)
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