by Bill Poulter
Posted on FactNet Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 8:10 pm
Why I Left the Group
The following letter is an attempt to share with others by personal story in regards to why I left the group. I could go in great depth and detail, but I have chosen to stick to specific events that led up to my marking.
It was 1984 and my family and I were excited about a transfer to the San Luis Obispo area. My sister Carmen and her husband Ed Payton and their eight children lived there. We were very close with them. Every year we would spend quite a bit of time together, either at Thanksgiving time or family vacations at Mammoth Pools.
Trouble is Brewing
One evening my wife and I went out to dinner with Ed and Carmen. After dinner we came back to my home and were sitting in the living room. Ed made the statement that, “Jim Langford is a very ungodly man.” I immediately said to him that I had heard of innuendos for years regarding Jim Langford but had never been given any concrete reasons and examples whereby to prove or validate these innuendos. I asked Ed to give me specifics. His reply to me was, “Just wait, and you’ll see.” I have waited 20 years and Jim Langford has NEVER given me reason question his walk with the Lord.
Jim Langford and his wife Christine had invited Ben and Joyce Morey to their home for lunch after Sunday morning meeting at the Grange Hall. Gordy Grant and Ed Payton were concerned that Jim was influencing Ben Morey in the wrong direction. Both Ed and Gordy were driving in a car together by the Langford home to check out the situation. Gordy called Jim to request a small men’s meeting. My daughters, Holly and Heidi, were visiting Lana and Lisa, Ed’s daughters, over at the Payton home. They called and alerted me to the mood of Ed and Gordy. I immediately called Jim and asked him what was going on. I could sense that Jim was feeling the pressure of the moment. I told Jim to invite them over and that I would sit in on the meeting as a witness. The bottom line, without going into great detail, is that they had evil surmised
about Jim and Christine’s intentions. They apologized and the mood of the meeting was that the issue had been resolved.
The following Friday night, I arrived to the Grange Hall a little later than my family. I had come directly from work. I met Gordy at the entrance and expressed to him how happy I was about the outcome of last Sunday night’s meeting. I immediately sensed a change in his demeanor. He seemed to be backpedaling from his original attitude Sunday night. I cut right to the chase and asked him if he had talked to Robert Grove during the week. He said, “What does that have to do with it?” I pressed him to tell me if he had talked to Robert, and he admitted that he had. I stated to him, and I quote—“I would hate to go hiking in the high country with YOU!” Over the next several months, Gordy proved to me that he was a double-minded man!
Comments From The Pulpit
The majority of the messages from the podium were developed to keep everyone in line. We were constantly hearing negative sermons in regards to things people were doing (Disneyland, Little League, watching television, playing sports, etc…) There were also numerous messages in regards to what people were wearing and their outward appearance. (earrings, make-up, hair, length of dress/skirt, pants, etc…)”She is serving the god of this world!” That is a statement that Jack Langford said at a meeting in San Luis Obispo. It was obvious that he was judging this woman only by her outward appearance because he stated that he had only seen her and that there had not been any communication between them. The woman he was referring to had been recently marked. She was not and is not serving the god of this world. No doubt that Jack probably made this comment because the young woman was wearing pants.
Five Men’s Meetings to Charge Jim Langford
There were five key meetings in the San Luis Obispo/Atascadero area held to allow the men to bring charges against Jim Langford from the past to the present (spring ’85). Not all men in the area attended. The meetings were mainly made up of the older men from the assembly, including Gary Boggs and myself.
Every incident involving Jim in any way was dredged up. There were five meetings lasting 2-3 hours each. At the end of all the meetings, the consensus was that many of the men had fallen prey to evil surmising and had built cases against Jim that were without any proof or merit. Almost every man in the meetings, with the exception of Dave Bowen, said that they felt good about the meetings and that they were willing to move forward in a positive manner. I felt relief and was excited that we had finally cleared the air.
The next night was Wednesday. At the evening meeting the majority of the men that had attended the men’s meetings stood up and gave either a confession or stated a desire to move forward from April 8, 1985. The date is important because all were willing and desirous to move forward from this time and NEVER look back. Once again, I recall that Dave Bowen was noticeably quiet during the time of comments.
Jim, Christine, and Jennie Langford went to Germany soon after these meetings. They were gone for over a month. During this time the tone of the messages DID NOT change. I personally believe that this was due to outside influences from Jack Langford and Robert Grove. I will explain me feelings for this later on in this letter.
Public Humiliation By Gordy Grant
Due to the negative nature of the current messages, I felt my family was not being fed from the Bible in a positive manner. Our children were not immune to the abuse and negativity being spewed from the podium. We (Jim Langford, Gary Boggs, and I) decided to get together as families and go through books of the Bible in a manner which was conducive to participation by younger children. Our children thoroughly enjoyed the bible studies and came prepared to participate each week on Tuesday night. WE STILL ATTENDED ALL OTHER MEETING/GATHERINGS (SUNDAY MEETING, WEDNESDAY NIGHT MEETING, FRIDAY NIGHT SING, AND ALL OTHER GATHERINGS!!!)
We never announced the meetings, but also never wanted to exclude anyone from joining us. We all lived within a mile of each other and were becoming very close.
One Sunday morning soon after our small Bible studies had begun; Gordy Grant gave the message at meeting. At the end of the meeting he issued a public rebuke to our families. He stated that we needed to stop our bible studies and confess. My children, along with Jim Langford and Gary Boggs’ children were present at the time and were very embarrassed that they had had attention pointed at them without even a warning.
After meeting I went to Gordy and told him that I wanted to meet with the men. When all the men, young and old, were gathered together, I told Gordy that he was out of place because he had never come to any of us and had gone straight to the church. I remember one older man, Mr. Gromer Sr., affirming that I was right and Gordy’s behavior was wrong. I did the majority of the talking at this meeting, and I basically told Gordy how disappointed I was in him in his handling of the situation. I did not realize how this had truly affected my children until about 20 years later when my daughter spoke of this same incident. She has written about this and more in her letter to the Battered Sheep website.
Meeting With John Morey at Cayucos
By this time my family and I, along with the Langford’s and the Boggs, were very discouraged. The innuendos from the pulpit had not diminished, we still sensed a negative attitude, and Jim Langford had even been told by Robert Grove to leave the group.
John Morey, one of the leaders in the Los Angeles assembly, was up on vacation at his Cayucos cabin. He had attended Wednesday night meeting and asked me to have a meeting with himself, Gordy Grant, Dwight Stevens, along with Jim Langford and Gary Boggs. My first response to John was to tell him that I would rather not have a meeting. “We have had plenty of meetings.” I finally agreed to go to Cayucos and meet with the men. Jim and Gary had mixed emotions about the meeting. I told them that I had known John for many years and had known him to be a fair man.
At the meeting Thursday night, I expressed my frustration with actions taken by the leadership and went into depth about Gordy Grant’s public rebuke/ambush. In front of John Morey, I asked Gordy, “Who told you to rebuke us?” Then I turned to Dave Bowen and asked him, “Dave, did you tell Gordy to rebuke us?” He said, “No.” I turned to Dwight Stevens and asked him the same. He said, “No.” I turned back to Gordy and said to him, “Gordy, surely you didn’t do that on your own?” He was visibly uncomfortable and finally admitted that Jack Langford had called him from Texas the day before Sunday’s rebuke and had told him to rebuke our families. Interestingly enough Gordy further added that Jack had encouraged him to rebuke in a much firmer tone than he had. Gordy stated to me, in front of all the men at the meeting, that he had wrestled with rebuking us until 4:00 in the morning. I stated to him that maybe that was the Holy Spirit guiding him in another direction than the one he had taken .
John Morey had fire in his eyes and looked at Gordy and said, “You need to apologize to those women and children personally and publicly.” John then said to Jim that he no longer needed to feel as if he couldn’t share when led by the Lord.
We( Jim, Gary, and I) left at 12:30 in the morning with light hearts. I looked at Jim and Gary and said, “ I told you that John would be fair.”…little did we know that Robert was soon to pay a visit to John Morey. The next time we saw John, a month or so later, we all noticed a difference in his demeanor towards us. Jim and I called John at his home in Long Beach and asked him if he had had a change of heart in regards to the situation with Gordy. He said he had not. We told him that our families had been encouraged by the way he had handled the situation and if he ever had a change of heart to let us know. He assured us he would.
Marked! Marked! Marked!
We went to December Camp in Santa Maria. Jack Langford, Jim’s brother, conducted the first meeting. Unbeknownst to us, he had planned to mark Jim publicly at this meeting, and that is exactly what he did! In front of 500 people, without ever going to Jim beforehand, and with very strong words, Jack Langford publicly marked his own brother to be avoided. Several men from other assemblies stood up and stated how hard that must have been for Jack to do. Verne De Lorenzo was one of them I specifically remember. Verne did not know anything about the situation, nor had he ever come to Jim or any of us personally to find out the other side. This is an example of the group mentality.
I immediately told my wife that we were leaving. I could not fellowship any longer with a group of people playing politics with people’s lives in the manner which they were doing. My wife and I felt we would be out of the will of the Lord if we stayed any longer. We could not compromise our relationship with God to succumb to the dictates of men!
Two days after camp I received a phone call from two of the local men asking if we would stand with the marking of Jim Langford. I said I would not.
…And that is the other side of the story.
It has been almost 20 years since I have discontinued fellowshipping with members of the group. I have not once regretted my decision! I love the Lord with all my heart and have endeavored to serve Him daily. I am thankful to have the support of my wife and children. My hope in writing this letter is that those still in bondage will begin to examine their reasons for staying in the group and will allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. “There is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Christ Jesus.”
Thankful for the Lord’s mercy,
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:06 pm:
Several years ago, a small group of men from Southern California got together to make a written appeal to those still in the group. I want to share a key paragraph:
"I AM OF CHRIST" Robert Grove and other leaders rightfully point to 1 Corinthians 1:12 and 3:1-3 to illustrate the sectarian spirit. Some saints said, "I am of Paul," others, "I am of Apollos," still others, "I am of Cephas." But even worse, one group, probably more arrogant than the rest, said, "I am of Christ." Of the four groups, they were the most subtle and misleading.
Brethren, you should take a long, hard look at yourselves to be absolutely sure you are not the ones today saying, "I am of Christ." If you are not but are tempted at times to feel that way, remember that the plainest, lowliest, most unlettered saint in the Church which is Christ's Body is "Of Christ." "Nay, much more those members of the Body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary....(For every joint supplies). In spite of what Robert Grove falsely teaches, that we Christians not meeting with him or his associates are non-functioning!!!
1 Cor. 12:22; Eph. 4:16.
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 11:59 pm:
Another memory of Robert Grove...
The year was 1972 and I had been transferred with my family up to Hanford, CA. This is a 20 minutes drive from Visalia, where Robert lived with his wife Judy. Judy is my wife Vicki's sister, hence we spent a considerable amount of time together. I recall on numerous occasions during family visits, Robert would leave the room to take and make phone calls to his buddies. (i.e. Gordy Grant, Tom Murley, Bob Birkholz, etc...)During these calls Robert could be heard laughing loudly and many of the calls lasted from 30 minutes to one and a half hours in length.
I also recall seeing Robert having his own circle of meetings in small groups with the same men during camp meetings. I guess he did not feel the need to be ministered to by others. This happened on many occasions.
Robert was in love with his own voice; he never saw a meeting he couldn't extend!! Many times the weeknight meetings would last until 9:30-9:45. These were school nights and our children had to wake up very early.
After living in the area for a year or so, my wife and I decided to express our concerns to Robert and Judy. We shared our concerns regarding phone calls interrupting family time, meetings outside during camp meetings, and the length of the weeknight meetings. I recall that Robert made no verbal acknowledgement that showed he agreed or accepted my concerns--very nonchalant.
One night the four of us (Robert, Judy, Vicki, and I) were sitting together and out of the blue Judy made the following statement: "One of these days there will be a split and you guys will be on one side and we'll be on the other." Interesting. Hum...
Looking back over the years I can now see that Robert was planning his ascension to the royal mountaintop -- BANDINI!!!!!
A WORD ABOUT BILL POULTER:
Posted on FactNet Wednesday, March 09, 2005 - 6:38 pm: by Jim Langford
When Bill and his family moved to Atascadero in 1984 I did not at first see the hand of God in that event as it related to my family and me. They located within walking distance of our home which was next door to Garry and Heidi Boggs. I knew that my reputation had been spread abroad so I personally maintained a distance from Bill, not wanting him to be adversely affected or come under suspicion because of any close association with me.
Bill never asked me, nor did I seek his ear, concerning the troublesome matters about me in the assembly there. The charge eventually was that I had "adversely influenced Bill Poulter and his family." Actually, it was Bill who exercised a godly, stabilizing influence on me, for which I will always esteem him highly. As his letter makes clear, he heard, saw, sensed and experienced on his own a situation that gave the lie to the "innuendos" he had heard for years.
As the months went by I don't ever recall him deliberately taking sides with or showing partiality toward me. He always tried to arbitrate with the view in mind of discovering the truth and reaching a settlement. And he never hesitated to chastise or restrain me when he perceived that I was being too outspoken, contentious or unwise during the many "men's meetings" we endured.
I remember warning him that the men were beginning to resent the role he was playing and that he stood to be injured by his association with me. But by then Bill was forming his own convictions and rapidly approaching a crisis of conscience himself.
He exhibited courage where I was inclined to wilt. He remained steadfast when I tended to waiver. Perhaps we complimented each other at that time, but only because our Sovereign Lord had a purpose in mind unknown to us then. Bill, I'll always be grateful to you as a dear brother in Christ who stood near.
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