Rittenhouse, Walter & William Sweetland

Letter No. 1, April 15, 1954 ~ My dear Jack [Carroll], Willie [Jamieson] and Brethren:

It is with a sense of regret we find it necessary to write this letter, but to refrain from so doing would be acting contrary to the dictation of our conscience. It is not in bitterness toward any that we write, but in sorrow that these things are so.

It was in 1922 we heard the Gospel, believed the message delivered, and accepted same without reservation. Since that time, we have endeavored to live up to the light revealed to us through Christ.

A few years ago we began to see inconsistencies between what was being preached and that which was being practiced by our elder brethren in particular. We realize now, part of these practices can be attributed to a semi-secret agree­ment made by a minority of the older responsible brethren about 1928. Much could be said concerning this pact and its results, past and present, but suffice to say power was delegated unto themselves which has enabled them to place geographica1 boundaries and human limitations upon their co‑laborers. This step has wrought an incalculable amount of trouble and distress amongst God’s professing people and servants throughout the world. Moreover, it has been a hindrance in the extension of the Kingdom. ­

Another thing that has brought distress to us and others, is the step that brought official recognition in Washington, D.C., which means that people of this fellowship are no longer without recognition and a denominational name. Documentary evidence will prove the name “Christian Conventions” is now a recognized religious organization registered in Washington, D. C. As such certain concessions were solicited and granted by the Government. For the past eight years all such organizations by Federal Law have been required to disclose certain information regarding purposes and practices. You men, as administrators of Christian Conventions, are familiar with this law, but refuse to conform to same; with the result you are now in default, and in due course of time, subject to investigations and penalties. As loyal citizens of the U.S., we cannot be party to this policy. It is in conflict with the Scriptures, the Government, and our own convictions.

You have also recently made a ruling relative to workers who marry and desire to continue in the ministry. You state that to marry is proof of a dim­inished sacrifice and a limited service, and is what you consider to be a change of stature, not acceptable to “Christian Conventions” administration. Such reasoning is obviously neither scriptural nor reasonable. God alone can …… degrees of sacrifice and will determine rewards accordingly. Compulsory celibacy is commonly recognized as the soil upon which immoral conduct and behaviour thrives. To make such a ruling is clearly in conflict with God’s laws and human rights, to say nothing of our constitutional liberties. This sort of dictatorial regimentatic has resulted in the shipwreck of many lives which your records will prove. It is exactly the opposite to what the Scripture teaches and what we heard and believed from your lips thirty years ago.

Further, substantiating evidence indicates that “Christian Conventions” administrators, self-appointed and without membership representation, have assumed and exercised the authority to accuse, convict, and penalize brethren without a hearing; ignoring the rights of all people to be considered inno­cent until proven guilty. Jesus neither delegated nor authorized any such practice.

The above are serious charges, but are made NOT without positive evidence. To silently agree to and support these administration policies would place us where we were thirty odd years ago, in traditional bondage to men and systems; therefore, in view of the facts herein stated and the present indifferences of the administration to the principles involved, we cannot with a good conscience cooperate further, until these vital issues are seriously considered and corrected.

Sincerely your Brethren in Christ,

P.O. BOX 1408
San Diego, 12, California
April 15, 1954

NOTE: The reply to this letter by Jack Carroll to which everything herein is denied can be procured. Mr. Sweetland then furnished proof which could not be denied and which Carroll never answered but launched a ruthless whispering campaign of persecution which is still in progress. 2×2’s used to hold convention on their property. It was a large convention too. Signed by O. Scott.

Letter No. 2 (undated)
Dear Friends:

During the past months, many conflicting reports have been circulated about us among our friends. We therefore take this opportunity to state the facts, in order that all may know the truth and exactly what took place.

Several years ago we felt moved to write the older workers regarding certain doctrines being preached and practiced among us, which were in conflict with the principles of truth taught by Jesus and the Scriptures.

Our appeal that these errors be seriously considered by those responsible, was met with denials and much opposition, and within a few weeks, word was spread around the world among our friends, by workers, that we had “given up the Truth” and “left the Testimony.”

It was quite apparent from the method used that a deliberate attempt was being made to undermine our relationship with others, and to defend the wrongs instead of correcting them.

It was indeed sad this attitude was taken, because God has permitted during recent months, the drawing aside of a veil and exposing to view, conditions about which we were deeply concerned. Little did we think that in our day we would see some claiming to be ministers, compromising to distort the scriptures, in order to substitute doctrines unscriptural in form, and deceptive in practice, for the simple principles of self-discipline that Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount, and through out the Gospels.

Strange as it may seem, since we declared our position and stated certain facts no one claiming authority has come to us seeking to discuss our contentions. If our position is questioned by any one, it is his privilege to meet with us and discuss these vital issues. A persistent refusal to do this only serves to prove that those claiming authority must feel insecure, to say the least.

We wish to dispel all concern about our purpose and relationship with God. During the past few years, we have enjoyed true worship and fellowship with God as never before, and He has enriched our lives and experience far beyond our expectation, for which we are most grateful.

This new experience has disclosed to us the difference between organized fellowship, and the family form of fellowship, and we now have a sympathetic understanding of human weaknesses through coercion and fear of men.

We continue to pray for those who have confused the implications of true ministry, disregarding the injunction of Jesus in Matt. 20: 25-27. Quote: 25, “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

26: But it shall not be so among you, but whosoever will be great among you will be the least and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant ………… the courage of our convictions stand firm for truth, justice, and liberty, the basic principles, lived and taught by the Lord Jesus nineteen hundred years ago.

With Christian Love to All,

Will Sweetland
Walter Rittenhouse,
4575 58th Street
San Diego, 15, Calif.

W. H. Sweetland
4047 Vista Grande Dr.
San Diego, 15, Calif.