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Introductions and Testimonies Please tell everybody something about yourself. Tell us a little. Tell us a lot. Its up to you!

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Old 05-30-2018, 01:00 PM   #1
Sons to Glory!
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Default Berkeley 74-76 My Story

I was in Berkeley 74-76. It was pretty good overall and definitely “interesting!” The group there was in originally meeting in CJs Old Garage down on wild & woolly Telegraph Avenue. I was 18 and had hair down the middle of my back, and had just hitchhiked 2500 miles to Berkeley from Ohio. Straightaway I was led to this meeting place, which was a miraculous answer to prayer (another story). I was invited to live in an old frat house with about 30-40 (or more?) brothers, many who had just basically come off the streets, like I did. We all just loved Jesus & the gatherings were loud, glorious and spontaneous. Several of us in this frat house went to work doing landscaping, and we used an old panel truck with "Warring Brothers" painted on the side (the house was on Warring Street). We'd pull up to someone's house, and about eight of us long-haired brothers would pile out of the back of the truck and gang-attack the job.

This type of Christian communal living was how I thought I would live for the rest of my life! I was so thankful to be there, with all the bros, simply loving Jesus every day . . .

Then disaster struck. Evidently the powers that be (southern CA) decided that this house was not a healthy, normal arrangement and told the leading ones in the house (I think one's name was Doug Kruger) they needed to close it and move all the brothers into families and more normal situations. I was devastated. The house's leading ones decided they would instead move the group to Sacramento, where the church was open to having us. I was torn and didn't know which direction to go. But I decided (after some pretty good heated discussions) to stay in Berkeley and moved into a smaller frat house right next door. This was called Hosanna House, and had about 6-8 single brothers and a couple or two living there.

So with my new short-hair persona and shiny new wingtip shoes (yes, that's right), I got an office mailroom job. But I felt like a fish out of water. The ones at Hosanna House were really nice and cared for me, but sorry to say I did them wrong (actually stole from one of them), and left to return to Ohio.

In Ohio I tried once again to fit in with old friends, but that didn't work well as I definitely knew I didn't belong there - that wasn't who I was at all any more. So after about a year, I returned to Ba-zerkely. The saints had purchased a big old stone denominational building a couple blocks closer to campus, and away from crazy Telegraph Ave. I remember things being a little more formal at the new place, but still pretty fresh & living. I lived in a building right on the church property with some others. Saints were good to me as I recall. A short time later I wound-up living with a couple just north of Berkeley in Albany, and they had a couple other bros living there (Eric Henke & Dorian Plunkett - from Perth, Australia). Betsy, the wife, was very sweet, and told stories how she had come across the Manson Family in her hippie days. The husband, David, had some pretty bad anger management issues that he was dealing with, as I recall. But my MO those days was to wander, so the short story is that after some period - not sure exactly how long - I left and went back to Ohio. It would take the Lord many years to “pin me down” (like Jacob’s wrestling match).

So that was my wild Church in Berkeley experience. Anybody around then?
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Old 06-14-2018, 12:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: Berkeley 74-76 My Story

Dave Matteson (sp?) was a leading bro then, as well as a large brother named Wiley, or at least I think that was his name (and not sure if it was his first or last name). The third elder was maybe named Bob, but that's real fuzzy recollection . . .

They were precious brothers, but frankly, scared the ba-jeepers out of me back then! Dave especially - he virtually glowed I thought and I believed if I approached him, the light coming out would burn me up like a mosquito in direct sunlight!
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Old 06-14-2018, 04:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Berkeley 74-76 My Story

The "Wiley" would have been "Wiley Estabrook", I believe. At some point I think Wiley ended up in Denver and was caught up in the Max Rapoport "rebellion". He eventually left the Local Church. Not sure of his location now.

As you may recall, the whole Berkeley deal kind of went up in flames at the infamous Memorial Day fiasco in 1977. I rode up in a big school bus from Orange County with many other young Local Churchers. It was a wild weekend to be sure. It was all part and parcel of the "anti-religious" atmosphere created and fostered by Witness Lee back in those days. Of course when everything blew up in his face (like it always did) Witness blamed everybody but himself. In this particular case, Max Rapoport and a number of other brothers took the fall.

I actually heard a lot of positive things about what what happening up in Berkeley and Santa Cruz in those days. The Lord was on the move, but Witness Lee and "the brothers" down in So. Calif would have none of it. It was a fire that they could not harness nor control. So Lee did what he always did - he extinguished the fire and scattered the fire-starters.

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Old 06-14-2018, 04:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Berkeley 74-76 My Story

Thanks! Yes, Wiley Estabrook. And I think I did hear (maybe from Dave Hayes) that he went to Denver and then left.

And I wasn't around for the Memorial Day thing as I had just gone back to Ohio. This is yet another example where the Lord preserved me from some fiasco! I am now seeing where over and over He has just kept me out of these messes - PRAISE GOD! I can't say why (I often think I wasn't smart enough or mature enough to handle them), but He has surely done it.

And yes, Santa Cruz . . . I remember a bother that came up from there. We were definitely a rough bunch in Berkeley. "Good material" we were not! (glad God didn't discard us)
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Old 06-15-2018, 02:53 AM   #5
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Default Re: Berkeley 74-76 My Story

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They were precious brothers, but frankly, scared the ba-jeepers out of me back then! Dave especially - he virtually glowed I thought and I believed if I approached him, the light coming out would burn me up like a mosquito in direct sunlight
What I remember most is the incessant shouting. Your moniker for Berkeley probably is in line with that pattern of experience

Been thinking about the warnings regarding deceiving spirits (1 John 4:1; 1 Tim 4:1). Your characterization of the "shock and awe" tactics of charismatic Christianity rings true to my experience coming into the LC as well. You come in all naive, seeking, hoping. . .the tumult and excitement catch you up like Philip after he baptized the Ethiopian. An overwhelming feeling of exultation and joy. Everyone is holding a Bible and you think, "What could possibly go wrong?"

Then the "apostle" steps in via his designated lackeys and the fire recedes. And you're in some weird situation, living on yesterday's memories. In my case, I heard the FTTA telling us to "ignore the poor" and go after revenue-producers. I smelled a rat and walked out.

As it turns out, excitement is no substitute for truth.
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Old 06-15-2018, 07:20 AM   #6
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What I remember most is the incessant shouting. Your moniker for Berkeley probably is in line with that pattern of experience

Been thinking about the warnings regarding deceiving spirits (1 John 4:1; 1 Tim 4:1). Your characterization of the "shock and awe" tactics of charismatic Christianity rings true to my experience coming into the LC as well. You come in all naive, seeking, hoping. . .the tumult and excitement catch you up like Philip after he baptized the Ethiopian. An overwhelming feeling of exultation and joy. Everyone is holding a Bible and you think, "What could possibly go wrong?"

Then the "apostle" steps in via his designated lackeys and the fire recedes. And you're in some weird situation, living on yesterday's memories. In my case, I heard the FTTA telling us to "ignore the poor" and go after revenue-producers. I smelled a rat and walked out.

As it turns out, excitement is no substitute for truth.
Yes, agreed. There was a lot of shouting! I remember being taught in the meetings and prompted on how to testify - you know - short, quick & living! We would practice this. I know the idea was to get us to engage our mouths & spirit, which I appreciate. To me, things didn't go off the rails too badly until the 1980s. But, I'm sure I just wasn't aware of all the things going on. I do thank the Lord for my experience back then, as He surely wanted me there. Now I am sure He wants me here, with simple brothers just pursuing Him! (and no big central control messing things up)
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:27 AM   #7
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I actually heard a lot of positive things about what what happening up in Berkeley and Santa Cruz in those days. The Lord was on the move, but Witness Lee and "the brothers" down in So. Calif would have none of it. It was a fire that they could not harness nor control. So Lee did what he always did - he extinguished the fire and scattered the fire-starters.

.
I don't know about Berkeley. Similar to StG I hitchhiked from Detroit to Santa Cruz. I liked it so much that after hitching up the coast into Oregon, and back down, I hitched with a friend back to Detroit, got my car, and drove back.

We, others from south Detroit, known as "Southgate Sickies," were ragtag hippies. I had money, got an apartment, where about a half a dozen of us lived together.

I remember one of us ran into the local church. We were all going to meetings. But we were still hippies. So one day a couple of the LC brothers came for a visit. They were in white shirts, black pants, and Wingtips. We were meditating in the nude. We thought nothing of inviting them in. They were obviously nervous, and tongue-tied.

Anyway, Santa Cruz was started by a brother that rebel against Lee. I eventually found out that L.A. considered Santa Cruz out of the flow.

But it was great ... the best locality I was ever in ... until the elders brought in Life Studies (I thought they were death studies) from L.A.

The last time I checked, the c. in Santa Cruz is no longer. The hexagon building we built was still there. But no c. in Santa Cruz. Lee killed it. Killed the c.in Ft. Lauderdale too.

Oh Lord, the death that followed Lee.
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:22 AM   #8
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I remember one of us ran into the local church. We were all going to meetings. But we were still hippies. So one day a couple of the LC brothers came for a visit. They were in white shirts, black pants, and Wingtips. We were meditating in the nude. We thought nothing of inviting them in. They were obviously nervous, and tongue-tied.
What a hoot! Something like this should be in a movie!

So did you know Eric Henke (sp?)? I think he was from Santa Cruz. He had an old Impala just loaded with nic-nacks and little statues and all kinds of funny little paraphernalia. He was a pretty quiet brother with light brown hair (I think) maybe shoulder length or a little shorter. You couldn't get him to say much, but he was pleasant and loved Jesus.
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:08 PM   #9
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What a hoot! Something like this should be in a movie!
We didn't think about Noah. We thought we were being like Adam and Eve (before the serpent interloped). I like to say or point out, that, "there's a serpent in every paradise." Looking back, as I see it now, those two nicely dressed brothers were the serpent in our naked paradise. We were happier then, than after the LC took over our life.

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did you know Eric Henke (sp?)? I think he was from Santa Cruz.
No I don't. Sorry. I remember Karl Hammond(sp), who walked away from Lee being a authority, but embraced the ground, and other practices - such as testimonies in the meetings. He started the c. in Santa Cruz.

I remember once in my early days, when there was a meeting centered on the message of oneness. All the testimonies spoke of the oneness. I was completely infatuated, and excited, with all of those beaming brothers and sisters. I loved it a lot. I stood up and said something like, "Amen, oneness! Oneness with Christ! Oneness with Buddha! Oneness with Mary Baker Eddy!" To my surprise, I didn't get the amen's that I thought my testimony deserved. The meeting that was very loud and lively, froze in place, for a second our so, and then a chorus of "Oh Lord Jesuses" broke out.

I think that was my castration moment. The next day, an elder showed up, and wanted to go on a walk, where he set me straight, and spoke against the ones I thought we should be one with. He told me the LC was about following Christ, and the teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. At that point I hadn't heard of them. I then dove into their books. Those books were the beginning of my troubles.

Then, a couple of years later, what a synchronicity that Lee's migration order, for what turned into five localities converging on Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to my surprise brought me back together with the elders from Santa Cruz, and some of my pre-LC 'Southgate Sickies' friends. I was then in the c. in Detroit, where Kangas was just a very promising nobody, from Princeton. He was cool back then -- before the spirit of Lee entered into him.

But I digress. I guess this whole subject of Santa Cruz is a digression. Sorry. I do get carried away sometimes, looking back at my LC days. There were some phenomenal times back then. Lee's top down system killed them. Making it all about Lee wrought death. Lee was great, don't get me wrong, but not all that.
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:23 PM   #10
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There were some phenomenal times back then. Lee's top down system killed them. Making it all about Lee wrought death. Lee was great, don't get me wrong, but not all that.
At what point do you remember that the LC went from all about Jesus to "all about Lee?"
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:46 PM   #11
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I remember once in my early days, when there was a meeting centered on the message of oneness. All the testimonies spoke of the oneness. I was completely infatuated, and excited, with all of those beaming brothers and sisters. .
An evil spirit goes out of a person, and flies around through waterless places, seeking rest. Nobody wants to give it a home because, well, it's evil. Who would?

Then the spirit says, "I know what I need! Re-branding! Marketing!" So it hires a marketing firm, gets re-branded as "oneness" and the rest, as they say, is history. Sad human history.

Like the song "Where have all the flowers gone" - I think it ends with the refrain "when will we ever learn". . . All the mayhem, rancor and estrangement that follow this "spirit of oneness". . .when will we ever learn?
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:33 PM   #12
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I remember once in my early days, when there was a meeting centered on the message of oneness. All the testimonies spoke of the oneness. I was completely infatuated, and excited, with all of those beaming brothers and sisters. I loved it a lot. I stood up and said something like, "Amen, oneness! Oneness with Christ! Oneness with Buddha! Oneness with Mary Baker Eddy!" To my surprise, I didn't get the amen's that I thought my testimony deserved. The meeting that was very loud and lively, froze in place, for a second our so, and then a chorus of "Oh Lord Jesuses" broke out.

I think that was my castration moment. The next day, an elder showed up, and wanted to go on a walk, where he set me straight, and spoke against the ones I thought we should be one with. He told me the LC was about following Christ, and the teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. At that point I hadn't heard of them. I then dove into their books. Those books were the beginning of my troubles.
Oh man! I wish there were videos we could piece together of all of those kinds of testimonies back then! We didn't know what we were saying at least half the time - what a great LC bloopers reel it would make! (Maybe we'll all sit in heaven watching these some day eating some popcorn.)
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:50 PM   #13
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An evil spirit goes out of a person, and flies around through waterless places, seeking rest. Nobody wants to give it a home because, well, it's evil. Who would?

Then the spirit says, "I know what I need! Re-branding! Marketing!" So it hires a marketing firm, gets re-branded as "oneness" and the rest, as they say, is history. Sad human history.

Like the song "Where have all the flowers gone" - I think it ends with the refrain "when will we ever learn". . . All the mayhem, rancor and estrangement that follow this "spirit of oneness". . .when will we ever learn?
Interesting thought.

Oneness without love can be rebranded as communism or worse. Scary.
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Old 06-16-2018, 11:05 AM   #14
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Delete this please

Last edited by Sons to Glory!; 06-16-2018 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Please delete
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Old 06-16-2018, 11:06 AM   #15
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Interesting thought.

Oneness without love can be rebranded as communism or worse. Scary.
Or the mob - "Ima gonna make you an offer you can't refuse!"

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