Rupert, Claude and Gordon Glen McHenry were brothers. Their parents, Barney Rupert McHenry and Ida Bertha Ezell were married on April 13, 1913, when Ida was 15. These three brothers came from a large family of 12 children (10 sons and 2 daughters.). Rupert L. was born May 7, 1919, and was the second son. He became the oldest child when his older brother Homer died as a child. Cecil Claude was the third son born in 1921, and Gordon Glen was born in 1926. When their parents divorced, Mrs. McHenry was left with at least five children still at home. Rupert helped to support and provide them with a home. Ida McHenry was born in 1897 and died in 1988 in Arizona, aged 91 years. Rupert also took care of his Mother in her old age.
Two workers, Frank Dennison and James Young, came to the McHenry family in Arizona in December 1938. In that mission, Mrs. McHenry and Rupert professed, and possibly Claude and other family members. Meetings were held in Ida McHenry’s home in Prescott, Arizona, from 1945 until 1962. “When we met this group of preachers and people 43 years ago, we were taught that if the book of Acts of the Apostles had continued being written to that date (December 1938), we would be reading about the preachers (workers or apostles) in this group.”
GORDON GLEN McHENRY was only 12 when the workers first came to their home in 1938. He entered the work around the age of 21–22, where he remained for 15 years. (1947 thru 1962). Rupert and Claude were never in the work. Glen wrote a very informative letter explaining the events that led up to him leaving the work. [Click Here to read Glen’s Letter] While Glen was at a large Workers Meeting in Albuquerque, NM in November 1960 or 61, he received an urgent message that his brother, Rupert, had become “violent.” Glen was instructed to go to Rupert by the fastest route possible. Reportedly, Rupert had physically harmed his wife, Arlene.
When Glen arrived in Hunter, North Dakota, he met with Walter Jardine and others who seemed very concerned about Rupert and wanted to get help for him very FAST. The workers had a document they wanted Glen to hurry up and sign. Glen was bothered by their pressure and haste about the matter. He thought it strange that Rupert was not locked up if he was in such a terrible condition. Glen insisted on personally visiting with his brother and wife before he would agree to sign anything.
First, Glen visited with Rupert’s wife Arlene privately, and she told him it wasn’t true that Rupert had mistreated her physically. Then Glen visited with Rupert and Arlene together. Rupert had been going about his excavating business as usual, so the next day Glen went to work with Rupert to see how he performed on the job. Glen found that Rupert’s clients were well pleased with his work, and could find nothing in anything Rupert did or said to suggest he was mentally ill. Glen was convinced that Rupert was not insane or dangerous.
Returning to Walter Jardine, Glen was strongly urged to sign papers to have Rupert “brought in.” Glen refused. Walter then announced that other actions would have to be taken. An elder obtained an injunction forbidding Rupert to come on his property that prevented Rupert from attending the fellowship meetings. It would seem that Rupert must have given the workers reason to fear he might say something(s) they did not want the friends to hear or know.
When Glen told Walter Jardine he would not witness against his brother, Jardine’s attitude changed drastically. Although Glen was assured earlier that it was the farthest thing from Walter’s mind to get Rupert into a penitentiary or a mental institution; yet he was trying to coerce Glen into committing Rupert into the insane asylum! When Glen wouldn’t go along, Walter said he would get Rupert put in the penitentiary by taking one of Rupert’s letters to the postal authorities, and that once Rupert was in Leavenworth (a Kansas prison), they would keep him about 30 years. Regardless, Glen stood by his principles and told Walter Jardine, and also George Walker, not to call on him again to witness against his brother.
Glen returned to his field in the work in Colorado. If Rupert was committed or imprisoned, he realized that he would probably lose his property as he would be unable to keep up the payments while incarcerated, including the home he had purchased for their Mother in Prescott, Arizona. Both Arlene and their Mother would need financial help. “In July 1945, Arlene and I moved my mother and 5 youngest brothers and sisters (Clyde, Bertha, Earl, Beulah and Fred) to Prescott.”
It was Rupert’s practice in the early 1960s to go California and work for about six months each year when the ground was frozen in North Dakota. Glen wrote Rupert to stop by on his way to California so he could go with Rupert and find work for himself there also. And so, the two brothers traveled West together. (Glen left the work at this time, 1962.)
Glen was told, “If you take Rupert’s part, you won’t be welcome in the meetings either.” By writing his March 10, 1962 letter to Arlene, [Click Here to read Glen’s Letter] Glen “took Rupert’s part.” Tharold Sylvester and Eldon Tenniswood both requested Glen to retract his letter or be put out. When he didn’t retract it, Glen was put out of the fellowship. He remained out of the fellowship for about 15 years. He then returned, re-professed, married a professing lady and remained a 2×2 until his death in 2008.
RUPERT McHENRY: It would be an understatement to say that for approximately 30 years, Rupert was a thorn in the workers’ flesh. He was the workers’ worst nightmare come true. Rupert was credited with “running a one-man crusade.” He took every possible opportunity to advise the friends and workers to put their trust in Christ and NOT the workers; to worship the Creator and not the creatures; to uphold Christ as “the way.” He refused to keep quiet and dared to oppose the workers and their practices and actions that he disagreed with. A sister worker once asked him, “Can a thousand people be wrong and only you are right?” To which Rupert replied, “Can 10 million Catholics be wrong?” She answered, “Yes.”
Rupert professed when he was 19 years old, in 1938. He married Arlene D. Nelson in California in 1944. By 1960, Rupert had worked at jobs in the Yukon, Arabia and Korea. Through his brother Claude in 1954-56, Rupert first learned about Wm. Irvine and the relatively short history of the 2×2 sect and that the sect had taken a name in 1942. He investigated and was upset with the cover-up, and he didn’t keep this information to himself. By 1960, Rupert had obviously stepped over the line in the meetings. “Several times they have expressed their concern about what they THINK I’m going to say in the meetings.”
Rupert had a loose tongue. He wrote: “If I did not speak and write the truth, Walter Jardine and his co-rulers would not need to be afraid of me or of the stand which I have taken. If they were honest and aboveboard they would not have anything to fear from anybody.” Rupert also wrote, “In silence, I have observed many things through several years, but now I will speak and will not withhold my tongue or my pen.”
In 1960, twenty-two (22) years after Rupert professed, Walter Jardine barred Rupert from attending meetings in North Dakota. On July 9, 1961, a Criminal Complaint was filed in the County of Nelson, ND against Rupert by his old friend, George Sandford, the elder of the meeting Rupert attended, charging Rupert with the crimes of (1) disturbing a religious meeting and (2) disturbing a lawful meeting. G. Sandford told Rupert later, “Rupert, you know I have to do what they tell me to do.” It was claimed that Rupert entered the premises where the meeting was held without permission to do so and refused to leave, thereby preventing the meeting from being conducted. He was put behind bars. Their action only made him more determined. He wrote: “…please be assured that my purpose to uphold and defend (by life, lip and pen) that which is from the beginning has been strengthened by their actions against me…(I) am determined to press the battle to the finish in defense of that which is from the beginning and will not compromise…”
Undaunted, Rupert printed up tickets inviting people to attend his trial. The ticket stated “INVITATION — Rupert McHenry cordially invites all to attend his trial in Justice Court in Lakota, N. Dak., next week regarding two criminal complaints filed against him.” After he requested a jury trial, the charges were dropped and his fine was refunded to him.
In the fall of 1960, Rupert attended a Sunday morning meeting at the Cando, ND convention. After the meeting, the County Sheriff and his deputies chauffeured him off the grounds. He also attended the Hunter, North Dakota convention where Walter Jardine threatened to call the Sheriff unless he left. Rupert left. The next day Rupert returned to the convention and remained until the sheriff’s deputy arrived, escorted him away and locked him up in jail. On Sunday, he sang hymns in the jail and was allowed to leave the next day.
In 1961, when Rupert and Glen moved to California, the workers there were forewarned of the situation. Sydney Holt instructed their elders to allow Glen, but not Rupert to attend meetings in their homes; and they instructed Glen not to go to the same meetings that Rupert attended. The elders were to call the Sheriff if Rupert entered the meeting. Sometimes the Sheriff was called. Sometimes Rupert left before they arrived; other times Rupert was arrested. In March 1962, “Tharold Sylvestor’s court action against me, through Mrs. Daisy Coulter, was ‘dismissed in the interest of justice.’ ” In 1983 he attended some of Syd Holt’s “private gospel services” in Tempe, Arizona, and was charged with trespassing.
Regardless of whether or not he was welcome, Rupert continued to attend all the meetings he could access and he would take part. He wrote, “My desire to stand up for truth and right and to encourage others to do the same are two of my reasons for desiring to attend the meetings.” By this time, Rupert had discovered many additional things the workers did not want the friends to know, and they greatly feared his tongue and pen. At the convention meetings he attended, he was warned, watched like a hawk, and escorted usually by workers to meals and to his car, etc.
Rupert gave his motive as: “I greatly desire to help men and women to turn to the true and living God from the powerful influence of Satan and his ministers.” Naturally, the workers were more at ease when he wasn’t around, and his pen made them uneasy—they had no control over it. Rupert wrote, “With my pen (and in every way that I can) I want to encourage all to stand true to our calling in Christ and not put our trust in men.” “Let’s help ourselves and others to see the value of worshipping the Creator…” “I want to advise you to turn from the Irvinite rulers and serve the living God.”
In April 1962, Rupert took his mother to a Sunday meeting in Alhambra, California. The elder quietly asked Rupert not to take part. Rupert prayed. The elder then ordered Rupert to leave. Rupert stayed. Then the elder forcibly attempted to get Rupert to leave, and with the help of some others physically succeeded in removing Rupert from the meeting. This same elder had told Rupert a couple weeks earlier, “You will always be welcome in my home.”
In August 1979, John Porterfield accepted Rupert in the meetings in Arizona, but a little over a year later in September 1980, this decision was overruled and overturned by Tharold Sylvester. In 1985, Rupert took his elderly mother to the Casa Grande AZ Convention. While he was sitting in meeting, Loren Smit (property owner), Sydney Holt and a deputy sheriff arrived, arrested, and took him to jail for trespassing.
At one convention, Rupert asked Tharold, “Will you please let me come back to the meetings?” Tharold replied, “On what terms?” Rupert could not see why any “terms” were needed. Tharold thought he should come back with the attitude of the prodigal son. Rupert didn’t agree, since he didn’t leave as the prodigal son left (the prodigal son’s father and brother did not kick him out and run him off; he left of his own will). That discussion broke down with Rupert still being barred from the meetings.
Rupert lost all respect for the workers. He did not believe Christianity was correctly measured by whether one falls in line with the workers. “And Paul wrote, ‘Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.’ Rose Mooney’s statement in no way compares with this when she said, ‘Being a Christian means upholding the workers in all they do.'” He viewed the workers as Pharisees. He did not mince his words. He wrote his brother Glen, “Why should I fear referring to such phonies as being deceivers and ministers of Satan after they have proven themselves to be such?” He called the Christian Conventions “Babylon.” In his letters, he called some of the workers stooges, puppets, tyrannical rulers, cover-uppers, false apostles/prophets, phonies, deceivers, liars, religious monsters, workers of iniquity, widow robbers, but qualified his remarks that not ALL workers were such.
He wrote Tharold Sylvester: “It is very true that no one can be saved outside of the body of Christ, but Christian Conventions is NOT the body of Christ, nor is any other man-made religion. There is a BIG difference between upholding a man-made system and upholding Christ. And there is a BIG difference between defending a man-made religious system and defending the Kingdom of God. It is not man’s place to set others up nor to kick them down or out of the Kingdom of God—the body of Christ. You may persecute and scatter the children of God, but you can never put one in nor take one out of His Kingdom.”
Being privy to much information inside the work, through his brother Glen who was a worker, Rupert was in a position to know intimate details of reported corruption and sexual scandals within the sect. He wrote letters to the American Overseers and friends giving details and naming names. He did not sugarcoat his remarks. He deplored actions of the workers that were “not the doctrine of Christ.” He believed the workers should be able to marry; and he respected the married workers, some he had noticed received less respect and even disrespect than unmarried workers. He also believed that divorcees should be allowed to remarry, and he himself remarried later in life.
Most who knew the McHenry brothers personally considered them unbalanced individuals. It is remarkable that Rupert endured such rejection and ridicule with no one to support him or his crusade. It was not until 10 to 15 years after he was barred from meetings in 1960 that he came in contact with the Arvigs and Ron Campbell; and learned about Rittenhouse and Sweetland and others, who had similar concerns.
Rupert was much criticized and mocked for the long mimeographed letters he wrote and circulated far and wide very openly. At the end of some of his letters, he included a lengthy list of individuals to whom he had mailed his letter; he even carbon-copied the Attorney General, Ted Kennedy, in one letter. One year, he claimed he spent as much as $10,000.00 printing, copying and distributing his letters. This isn’t hard to imagine as some of his letters were quite lengthy, and the recipients numerous. One of his letter packets was 36 pages written on legal-size paper, single-spaced, and was sent to 1,050 people. In 1985, he placed a long essay in the Custom Shopper in Phoenix warning people against the workers. He wrote numerous letters to Tharold Sylvester, the one who was ultimately responsible for excommunicating him, as well as other workers. Rupert’s letters were not anonymous; “I sign everything that I write and owe no apology for having done so.” He repeatedly stated his writings were not copyrighted, and encouraged others to feel free to duplicate and share them.
Rupert was a man of uncompromising principles, and for standing true to these, he suffered much. He was rejected by all his close friends, and despised, mocked, ridiculed and pronounced crazy by many of the friends and workers. He was accused of thinking he was somebody important; being stubborn; of having a persecution complex; compared himself to Job; wanting sympathy; being mentally deranged due to a syphilitic birth; and of trying to buy the workers’ friendship. His first marriage failed and ended in divorce. His subsequent marriage to widow Laura Belle (Erickson) McBeth ended in divorce. In 1972, he married Sofia Joan Bernot. Rupert had no children; however one of his stepchildren, Timothy McBeth, took the surname, McHenry.
“These religious monsters have been very successful at separating marriages, loved ones, relatives and friendships of long-standing, even thus far including Arlene and me, but I’m glad they never succeeded in separating me from my mother’s love and vice versa.” He remarried a professing lady.
Rupert liked to sprinkle wise adages throughout his letters. Some of his favorites are:
The strongest wedge between two friends is a false accusing finger.
If we sacrifice friendship for truth, it wasn’t true friendship.
The best way to get rid of snakes is to get rid of their hiding places.
CLAUDE MCHENRY: On the other hand, the motive of Rupert’s younger brother, Cecil Claude McHenry, was to warn others so they wouldn’t offer for the work, which he viewed as a prison and sacrifice of human lives. Claude learned in 1953 that “this fellowship was started by a certain man in the 19th century…and consulted an elder worker about it and was told it was true.” He also learned at that time about the sect taking a name. Since Doug Parker’s “A Spiritual Fraud Exposed” was distributed in 1954, it’s possible Claude could have learned this information from that source. He continued going to meetings, however, until he was barred from meetings. “Tharold (Sylvester) had Ray Hill and Alan Ashmore expel me in 1959—without telling me a reason!”
While the reactions of Rupert and Claude to learning the sect’s history differed in their methods of protesting and crusading; yet they respected each other. “…there seems to be one common agreement between us, and that is we both seem to be desirous that all people would know the truth and be warned of their activities and deceit.” They were united in a “crusading career of exposing the spiritual fraud.”
Beginning in 1980, Claude became infamous for his PICKETING outside conventions and special meetings held in California and Arizona. A former California convention ground owner wrote that Claude would wear “sandwich boards with messages fore and aft, exposing practices of the ministry and its Wm. Irvine beginnings, that many of us thought were absolute nonsense. But we later learned, to our dismay, that many of his ridiculous claims turned out to be true.”
Claude would also park across the street from the convention or special meeting and cover his van with posters containing messages about the workers and Wm. Irvine and hand out tracts he had made up. James (Jim) Johnson of California told Claude, “I have been given the job of getting rid of you, and that’s what I’m going to do.” By April 1986, Claude wrote, “For nearly six continuous years, I’ve been making a career of sharing forbidden truths with ‘The Truth’s victims.” It appears Jim Johnson had been making a career of getting rid of Claude: “Johnston’s gotten me before judges 14 times, arrested a few times, twice sentenced to jail, attempted to commit me so as to nullify my exposing, subjected me to battery, slander, and once missed me by inches with his car.” After one of the sister workers Claude admired obtained a restraining order against him, Claude wasn’t able to come near the meetings and conventions she attended. This cut down or cut out his picketing in 1986.
Claude felt strongly “…my picketing vigil…protests against their claim of, and maybe to some extent practicing, the sacrificing to ‘God’ of real human lives!” Having lived through the agony of going against his own human nature and offering for the work, he desperately wanted to spare others this pain and suffering. “One horror is the awesome choice forced on children! They must choose to renounce their every human expectation or miss out on the heavenly vision!”
He wrote: “None care that, in ‘The Truth,’ humans are sacrificed to, slowly and cruelly killed for, ‘God!’ That’s where I’m concerned…Don’t let the sick hope of Irvine’s believing craze take your sincere and normal child’s life to an early grave, in the work—never to know true love…”
Claude asked Jim Johnson: “How many years of YOUR boyhood and young manhood did you spend worrying your brains out over the prospects of going out to preach? How many miles of lonely roads did YOU walk, killing yourself for ‘God’s sake’ just because there was no one around to tell you it was started as an experiment by a crazy man and to help you learn to see through it?”
Claude also wanted to help workers leave the work: “Among my bitterest regrets is the fact I’ve done nothing toward getting any of you out of the most monstrous of hoaxes.” He was also concerned because “…among the group’s many other wrongs, are their withholding of facts, misrepresenting of things, and outright lying.” He was also bothered with the “devouring of widows houses” (a nearly blind widow named Mrs. Compton, in particular) “of workers having people committed to insane asylums their non-complying kin, who were asking the wrong questions,” and elders in the church investing surplus workers’ money in office buildings, etc.
All three McHenry brothers appeared to have been very disturbed over an incident involving the financial workings of the workers that Glen had firsthand knowledge of while in the work. “In 1956, Harry DenHerder, then a worker…was in Palm Springs with a younger companion (Glen McHenry). There they visited…James Johnson whose single multi-million dollar business transactions have long since become common knowledge. After showing the two workers through a new high rise building and telling his plan to soon build another just like it, Johnston added, ‘I’ve been wanting to show you this so you can know what I’ve been doing with you workers’ money.’ Suddenly Harry DenHerder, knowing his companion to have been kept ignorant of such things, began scuffing his shoes, coughing, and changing the subject.” Jim Johnson and the workers would regret this “tip of the slongue” to the end of their days. It came back to haunt them via the McHenrys.
Claude’s posters contained various messages. One told, “about Tharold (Sylvester) trying to swindle elderly Mrs. Compton out of her home in Compton, CA.” Loren Smit sued Claude because he objected to a poster that “stated a lie which told that Wm. Irvine started this group in 1899, when it was started by Christ.” The Judge ruled in defense of Claude’s right to freedom of speech. Another poster read: “In 1899, Wm. Irvine started ‘The Truth’ by preaching and self applying absolute believing! Later, cast out, he said, ‘Well, it was a great experiment.’ Don’t let the sick hope of Irvine’s believing craze take your child’s life, never to know true love.”
At various times, it was cruelly circulated among the friends that both Rupert and Claude were mentally ill, as well as their mother and all her children, and reported that they were born syphilitics. As they tried with Rupert, so also the workers attempted to get Claude’s Mother to commit him to a mental institution. Before Claude was expelled in 1959, Gussie Puckett “went to our mother and requested her to write her a letter that she could use to have Claude locked up. More than that, she gave Mom a sample letter and asked her to copy it, but Mom was not obedient to the…request…When she went to our brother Gordon Glen with the same criminal plan, he just laughed in her face…She then contacted Sproulie Denio in Korea to get him to put pressure on my professing brother, Rupert, who was working there.”
At that time, according to the writings of both Rupert and Claude, this didn’t seem to be an unusual operating procedure in handling dissidents. Both Claude and Rupert wrote of several incidents where this type of coercion took place. However, it didn’t always work. Some refused. Claude wrote: “‘There must be more people going crazy in God’s way than in all the man-made religions put together.’ That was the opinion of a mother and her son after hearing, for about the third time, of some ‘poor guy’ professing or somehow connected with ‘The Truth’ who’d had to be put in a mental hospital.”
By 2004, Gordon Glen McHenry had lost touch with both his brothers Rupert and Claude. They viewed Glen as a traitor for returning to the 2×2 sect, and both severed relations with him. Claude became an atheist, according to Rupert, and probably resides in Arizona if he is still living.
No medical evidence has turned up showing that Rupert and Claude McHenry were mentally unstable. They were dissidents; self-educated, intelligent men with great memories who chose to use their freedom of speech to help others avoid a pitfall they fell in; regardless of how misunderstood, hated, despised, opposed they were or the cost to them or their reputations.
Click Here to read letters by McHenrys.
Rupert L. McHenry died January 10, 2005, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Married Arlene Nelson on October 19, 1944
Arlene D. (Nelson) McHenry died May 9, 2011, in Devils Lake, North Dakota.
Laura Belle (Erickson) McBeth McHenry Caswell died September 17, 2011.
Sofia Joan Bernog McHenry died 2004.
Cecil Claude McHenry died July 20, 2006, age 85 in Scottsdale AZ.
View his tombstone on Find A Grave.
Gordon Glen McHenry died November 4, 2008, in Keller, Texas.
The above information was taken from numerous letters dated 1956 through 1989 written by Rupert; 1985 through 1988 by Claude and a letter dated March 10, 1962, by Glen McHenry; also from court documents, and copies of personal discussions with McHenry family members in 2003–2004.
Compiled by Cherie Kropp
Revised April 6, 2019