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GETTING OUT OF GRACE BIBLE FELLOWSHIP OF SILICON VALLEY AND OTHER ABUSIVE CHURCHES IN THE UNITED STATES: Don’t tell them. Send a certified/return receipt letter & resign, no details. Call 9-1-1 and contact an attorney if they bother you. Read: Wartburg Watch blog for details. Also, Arce’s step-by-step instructions for getting out of an authoritarian church like GBFSV are below in the link. 

According to the GBFSV pastors/elders, members can’t leave Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley without the pastors/elders’ permission. This is ILLEGAL and unconstitutional, violating the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution. The Appellate Courts have ruled that religious organizations are voluntary and that people can leave whenever they wish. The GBFSV Bylaws and Membership Covenant are illegal and unconstitutional.

Under NO circumstances do you have to “obey” the GBFSV pastors/elders. Under NO circumstances do you have to tolerate their harassment for leaving. Call the police and an attorney. Have an attorney send the GBFSV pastors/elders a cease and desist letter. If need be, sue them. Call the police if the GBFSV pastors/elders harass you or order anyone else to  harass you. File a police report, including for stalking. 

Keep a log of all contacts that the GBF pastors/elders have with you, including date, time, who contacted you and subject matter and your response. If the GBFSV pastors/elders order anyone else to contact you or harass you, log all of that information as well. Provide the police and an attorney with a copy of your log. 

Do not meet alone with the GBFSV pastors/elders for any meetings that they call you to. They have abused countless former church members in these meetings, without witnesses for the members. Former church members all reported being screamed at, bullied, and threatened by the GBFSV pastors/elders in those meetings. The GBFSV pastors/elders have then lied about Christians before the entire church membership. One man (a doctor married for nearly 50 years) was invited to a meeting by the GBFSV pastors/elders, thinking that they were going to ask him to be a church officer. To his surprise, he reported that they screamed and yelled at him, falsely accused him, and later ordered that he be excommunicated and shunned and that no one speak to him again. Just vicious! Watch your backs with the thugs in leadership at GBFSV. 

Should you decide to go to a meeting with the GBFSV pastors/elders, bring your own witnesses to the meeting, unannounced to the GBFSV pastors/elders, and try to make sure they are from outside churches. Ask the GBFSV pastors/elders for their consent and tape the entire meeting, including on your cell phone.  If they decline to be taperecorded/videotaped, seriously consider telling them that the meeting has concluded and get up and walk out with your witnesses from other churches/outside witnesses. Discuss this plan of action in advance with your witnesses.

The GBFSV pastors/elders have been previously silenced from bullying a former church member when that person brought a pastor from a local church (unannounced to the GBFSV pastors/elders) as a witness to  a meeting that the GBFSV pastors/elders required of that departing church member, a requirement that is ILLEGAL and UNCONSTITUTIONAL according to the Appellate Courts who have said religious membership is voluntary and people can leave whenever they want to . The GBFSV pastors/elders would not pull their usual bullying antics in front of an outsider.  

Follow Arce’s step-by-step advice here for getting out of an abusive church like GBFSV: https://gbfsvchurchabuse.org/2016/09/23/are-your-pastorselders-as-rude-as-the-ones-at-grace-bible-fellowship-of-silicon-valley/   Keep your mouth shut and DO NOT tell anyone at your church, like Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, lest the abusive pastors/elders bring you up fabricated ‘church discipline’ charges before hundreds of church members. 

I had the best of intentions about joining a small church where I could know other Christians, be known, hear the Word of God taught, grow as a Christian, and serve. Smaller did not mean healthier. I found myself in a spiritually abusive, authoritarian church in which dear Christians – men and women – all ages were publicly humiliated before hundreds of church members for ANY reason that the pastors/elders thought of, excommunicated and shunned. First it was a middle-aged woman in finance who left for a saner church. Then it was a godly doctor in his 70’s. And then it was me. Countless Christians (couples, families, singles) fled Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley. They described horrific, abusive meetings behind closed doors with the GBFSV pastors/elders.

Former members, myself included, described in interviews being threatened behind closed doors by the GBF pastors/elders in meetings. All former members who were abused report the same tactics were used against them by the GBFSV pastors/elders: called to meetings and not told what it was going to be about, bullied in meetings, threatened, ridiculed, and the meeting was closed with Scripture and that you weren’t one of us and destined for Hell.

Still later, when church members would not act like compliant doormats, or wall-to-wall-carpeting with the word ‘WELCOME’ written on them to be abused, they were banned from church property, church services, from any and all contact with church members, and ordered to “apologize” to the authoritarian GBFSV pastors/elders who “lord it over the flock” and demand respect without having earned it.

Members were then viciously lied about before hundreds of GBF members by the pastors/elders who control the narrative and NEVER present the other side. The GBFSV pastors/elders destroyed countless peoples’ reputations before all.

This blog is dedicated to all of those who were abused at GBFSV (you didn’t deserve it), to those still stuck there who want information and want out, and to other people in spiritually abusive groups.

©Velour/MtnShepherdess 2016

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A passage from the Bible that applies to the abusive pastors/elders at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley.

Ezekiel 34The Message (MSG)

When the Sheep Get Scattered

34 1-6 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!

7-9 “‘Therefore, shepherds, listen to the Message of God: As sure as I am the living God—Decree of God, the Master—because my sheep have been turned into mere prey, into easy meals for wolves because you shepherds ignored them and only fed yourselves, listen to what God has to say:

10 “‘Watch out! I’m coming down on the shepherds and taking my sheep back. They’re fired as shepherds of my sheep. No more shepherds who just feed themselves! I’ll rescue my sheep from their greed. They’re not going to feed off my sheep any longer!

11-16 “‘God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.

17-19 “‘And as for you, my dear flock, I’m stepping in and judging between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. Aren’t you satisfied to feed in good pasture without taking over the whole place? Can’t you be satisfied to drink from the clear stream without muddying the water with your feet? Why do the rest of my sheep have to make do with grass that’s trampled down and water that’s been muddied?

20-22 “‘Therefore, God, the Master, says: I myself am stepping in and making things right between the plump sheep and the skinny sheep. Because you forced your way with shoulder and rump and butted at all the weaker animals with your horns till you scattered them all over the hills, I’ll come in and save my dear flock, no longer let them be pushed around. I’ll step in and set things right between one sheep and another.

23-24 “‘I’ll appoint one shepherd over them all: my servant David. He’ll feed them. He’ll be their shepherd. And I, God, will be their God. My servant David will be their prince. I, God, have spoken.

25-27 “‘I’ll make a covenant of peace with them. I’ll banish fierce animals from the country so the sheep can live safely in the wilderness and sleep in the forest. I’ll make them and everything around my hill a blessing. I’ll send down plenty of rain in season—showers of blessing! The trees in the orchards will bear fruit, the ground will produce, they’ll feel content and safe on their land, and they’ll realize that I am God when I break them out of their slavery and rescue them from their slave masters.

28-29 “‘No longer will they be exploited by outsiders and ravaged by fierce beasts. They’ll live safe and sound, fearless and free. I’ll give them rich gardens, lavish in vegetables—no more living half-starved, no longer taunted by outsiders.

30-31 “‘They’ll know, beyond doubting, that I, God, am their God, that I’m with them and that they, the people Israel, are my people. Decree of God, the Master:

You are my dear flock,
    the flock of my pasture, my human flock,
And I am your God.
    Decree of God, the Master.’”

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About my screen name: “Velour”. After my excommunication and shunning was ordered from Grace Bible Fellowship, I did an internet search on those terms and found the following websites: Joyful Exiles (dealing with the Spiritual Abuse, Excommunications and Shunnings at the now closed Mars Hill in Seattle, WA), The Wartburg Watch (dealing with Spiritual Abuse, Child Sexual Abuse and other serious issues in Protestant, conservative churches), and Spiritual Sounding Board (also dealing with Spiritual Abuse and other serious problems in the churches). I needed a screen name to comment on Wartburg Watch and Spiritual Sounding Board. Dee and Deb, in North Carolina who both have M.B.A.’s and Dee used to be a nurse, started The Wartburg Watch alarmed at the mishandling of Child Sexual Abuse in Dee’s church. While many people were relieved for a place of refuge, detractors were angry by the honest coverage that these two dear conservative Christian women have undertaken. Detractors have called them many names including “Daughters of Stan [sic]” and “Daughters of Satin [sic]”. It was supposed to be “Satan”. I liked the “Satin” typo and chose the name “Velour”, a member of the fabric family for my screen name.

Rules of The Road for Commenting.

 *This is a place for victims of Spiritual Abuse and other abuses in churches. Words such as “bitter”, “gossip”, “slander”, “bringing an accusation against an elder without cause/touch not God’s anointed”  will NOT be permitted to be used against victims, since it is how abusive churches/clergy used it against victims to silence them and shame them. Your comment will be deleted.

*All comments will be moderated.

*No foul language will be permitted.

*Your identity here will be protected, unless ordered by a judge to produce your name.

*Name-calling people isn’t ok and won’t be allowed.

*Inappropriate comments will be deleted. That’s highly unusual. But it exists. And a note will be made “Comment Deleted by Moderator.”

*I’m adopting this rule from The Wartburg Watch:

“In order to be guilty of libel in the US, 2 criteria need to be fulfilled. 1. The person making the comment must know that they are lying. Then, 2. They must be lying for the sake of causing harm to another person. Also, if someone is a public figure, the bar raises even higher.”

*California (where this blog is located) also has an Anti-SLAPP  [Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation] Law.

From Harvard University’s Digital Media Law Project:

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/anti-slapp-law-california

“Anti-SLAPP Law in California

Note: This page covers information specific to California. For general information concerning Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), see the overview section of this guide.

You can use California’s anti-SLAPP statute to counter a SLAPP suit filed against you. The statute allows you to file a special motion to strike a complaint filed against you based on an “act in furtherance of [your] right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue.” Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16. If a court rules in your favor, it will dismiss the plaintiff’s case early in the litigation and award you attorneys’ fees and court costs.  In addition, if a party to a SLAPP suit seeks your personal identifying information, California law allows you to make a motion to quash the discovery order, request, or subpoena.

Activities Covered By The California Anti-SLAPP Statute

Not every unwelcome lawsuit is a SLAPP. In California, the term applies to lawsuits brought primarily to discourage speech about issues of public significance or public participation in government proceedings. To challenge a lawsuit as a SLAPP, you need to show that the plaintiff is suing you for an “act in furtherance of [your] right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue.” Although people often use terms like “free speech” and “petition the government” loosely in popular speech, the anti-SLAPP law gives this phrase a particular legal meaning, which includes four categories of activities:

  1. any written or oral statement or writing made before a legislative, executive, or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding authorized by law;
  2. any written or oral statement or writing made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other official proceeding authorized by law;
  3. any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest; or
  4. any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest.”

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Favorite Poems.

From Dale Fincher.
http://www.soulation.org/freeatlast/2016/03/grief-poem-on-having-left-church.html

Grief Poem #1
(16 Nov 2015, On having left church)

If it were a death, there would be a body.
If my loss were physical, I would be able to speak of it.
As it is, there is no corpse to dress, no attire to select,
No funeral to attend, or service to order.
It has been a long slow death, anyway.
The death of a dream
The death of an ideal
The death of desire
I wanted the lovely intangibles
Beauty
Goodness
Truth
I wanted …
Belonging
Being
Blessing
I wanted..
To be heard
To be seen
To be known
I left my gifts at the altar
And left
Quietly,
Silently,
Invisibly.

 

I Have a Verse
by Wayne Harmon ©

They argued with me long and loud.
They told me I was being proud.
The debate went from bad to worse.
I know I’m right. I have a verse.

I told him that his hair’s too long.
He scoffed and told me I was wrong.
I said her short hair is a curse.
I know I’m right. I have a verse.

I told them they must give a tenth
Of all their money before it’s spent.
A tithe of wallet, bank and purse.
I know I’m right. I have a verse.

I told them Rock and Roll’s a sin.
A noise that’s straight from Satan’s den.
They laughed until I thought they’d burst.
I know I’m right. I have a verse.

I told her she cannot divorce.
You said, “I do,” so stay the course.
Forget the doctor and the nurse.
I know I’m right. I have a verse.

Jesus said those from above
Will be known by how they love.
Apologizing really hurts.
I thought I was right. I had a verse.

Wayne Harmon’s blog where this poem appears is: http://wayneharmon.org/2016/08/31/i-have-a-verse/

Used with permission.

“Paper Matches”

My aunts washed dishes while the uncles
squirted each other on the lawn with
garden hoses. Why are we in here,
I said, and they are out there?
That’s the way it is,
said Aunt Hetty, the shriveled-up one.
I have the rages that small animals have,
being small, being animal.
Written on me was a message,
“At Your Service,”
like a book of paper matches.
One by one we were taken out
and struck.
We come bearing supper,
our heads on fire.”
Paulette Jiles ©

 

Used with permission.

WILL YOU STAND WITH ME?  By Geva Roberts ©

Will you stand with me,

When a little boy is scared to go back to church.

When others tell him it is all right and no one listens.

Will you stand with me for him?

 

Will you stand with me for the little girl that was

Hurt at church and was forced to forgive her abuser?

Will you stand with me, if not you, then who?

 

Will you stand with me

when young ladies are molested by a church member.

When the church says it was partly their fault.

When these young innocent ladies are shunned.

 

Will you stand with me.

Will you stand with me when the husband abuses the wife,

But the church says it’s ok. He is a man of God after all.

When the husband thinks it’s ok to look at child pornography,

And the church stands beside him instead of his wife.

 

Will you stand with me when these “Ministers” of the church

Accuse others unjustly of gossip and slander.

When they put their members in ungodly church discipline.

Will you stand with me, if not you, then who?

 

Will you take a stand with me,

Shout it from the roof tops,

Cry with me till there are no more tears.

Pray till we get the answers.

 

Will you stand with me and others

So that innocent people are no longer hurt.

Will you speak for them, when they have no voice,

If not you, then who?