My life there and afterwards

We had to support our own family, and one of the conditions of our moving there in Jan 1970 was for my husband to get a job. He worked at a paying job the whole time he was there. However, which job he had was dictated by the leaders, as “spiritual guidance”. He started out as a carpenter’s helper, and years later got training and a job as a jeweler in a shop owned by another Community member. He got good pay for that, but we did not benefit from the pay increase. The more we earned, the more we were asked to give to CJ. We never got ahead. We never had any savings. Our credit cards were always maxed out mostly to buy school clothes for the kids. My husband turned to being a Yankee Trader for fun and satisfaction, which he had a knack for. At different times we had a sunfish sailboat and a sports car, all of which he bought at a cheap price through trading deals. Me, I turned to keeping house, raising the kids, and doing my audio/visual job for satisfaction.

We never had much, but of course tithing was mandatory, and the very minimum. The more you gave above that, the more you were a dedicated and loyal member. There was definitely a lot of pressure to give. The leaders used to brag that we depended mostly on ourselves for all the money we needed for all of “God’s” projects. Somehow I thought that was good, and was blind to how it was bleeding our family dry.

We were caught in a system where giving was the norm and expected, and personal gain was castigated as sin. After my husband left in 1989, and I joined the sisterhood, I had no money of my own. Even when I did work a paying job, I signed the check each week and handed it over to the financial office. I never saw a penny of that money, and when I finally left in 2010 I did not have a cent to my name. Which of course was one of the blocks to leaving, because CJ will not support anyone who leaves.

Those with a lot of money were wined and dined and wooed into the group. Their personal needs were ministered to, spiritual advice was given to them and they then felt grateful and gave large sums of money to CJ. Once their loyalty was established, pressure was put on them to maintain their loyalty, and when asked to give they had to in order to maintain their good standing and “good attitude”. I know those in the Band leadership went to some of them and got them to finance the extremely expensive trips to Australia and Korea, and for what? A trophy that sat in the Band office for what purpose? None of us received praise, no one was brought to Christ, we didn’t help anyone. As far as I can tell, all the Band activities were massive ego trips that cost massive amounts of money.

The new Church of the Transfiguration is another example were the wealthy members bail out the unwise decisions of the leadership. I personally witnessed one man coming into the financial office at least 3 times to write a personal check for several thousands of dollars for the monthly loan payment on the church building because CJ did not have the funds.

I know of 2 instances where the elderly have no personal finances to fall back on because they have given all to CJ, and then they are not supported in their infirmities by CJ. In both these cases, the individual, and the couple, were put into nursing homes because the leaders did not want to be “bothered” by their care. CJ had too many important things to accomplish to be burdened by health care issues of old and failing people!!! Their own dedicated people at that!!! In the case of the individual, her husband and family were able to pay the bills, but in the case of the couple, it is an unresolved drama. They only have enough money to stay there a couple of years, then what? CJ will not have anything more to do with them.

Once you are a sister or a brother, you have no money. If you want to leave, no provisions are set up for that. Their rule says in printing that all pastoral solicitation will be given the person (didn’t happen in my case) and that some financial help may be given at the discretion of the Prioress and Deans (I was given $1,000 after 40 years of service, which is not enough to start payment on a rental). This is in effect a closed and locked gate that is very scary indeed to walk through and deters most of the people there.

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