McPhail, Judith (Barnes)

MY ONLY CHANCE AT HEAVEN…according to a California Worker

My husband and I were both raised in professing homes on the West Coast in the USA. We were engaged as teens, but we wound up marrying other people. We found each other again 27 years later and we married on February 4, 2003. We were surprised with a gift – a son! Connor has been such a blessing to us. He will be 5 years old in March this year. We also have grown children. This is a second marriage for both of us. In other words, we are both divorced and remarried.

In 2006, while we were living in the state of Colorado, we came back to the “truth.” We re-professed and enjoyed fellowship and had full part, including partaking of the emblems. All was wonderful.

About a year later, we moved back to San Diego, California, the area where I grew up, because I needed medical treatment. I am fighting Stage IV cancer. There we received a horrible shock. We discovered first hand, that a basic principle we had been taught all our lives was not true.

We were both taught that the way called “the truth” is the same all over the world. So it was a quite a shock to discover this is not so; and to learn of the different stances and beliefs of the workers-in-charge in various fields. We were stunned to find out how their rules would negatively affect US.

In California, the sister worker in our area was Linda Passage and her companion was Rhonda Visser. Linda told us that we could not give our testimonies, pray, chose a hymn or partake of the emblems in any meeting in that state and several other states also. We learned that we had moved to a state where the workers feel D&R couples are “living in sin,” and committing adultery.

Linda Passage told me that the only chance I had to be right with God was to leave my husband. In other words, I would have to break up the home of our 4-year-old child. I just could not believe that Jesus would want this family broken up. That is not the Jesus I know and love.

For 18 months we continued going to fellowship meetings in California without taking part. It was hard at times, but we respected their rules. However, it made no sense that we were welcome to take part in a fellowship meeting and also to take the emblems if we drove 500 miles to Colorado. Do God’s rules change over state lines?

Our little boy asked, “Mommy why don’t you get some as the bread when it comes by?” What is that teaching him about Jesus? We don’t have the answers. If it were feasible, we would have moved back to Colorado, but with me fighting Stage IV cancer, we need to stay here where my family, adult children and lifelong friends are who can help with our son.

When we moved here, I wrote Dale Schultz, the overseer of California, about this matter and our son. I asked him: “What about our little boy? What about his soul?” I feared for his confusion as he got older and realizes that Mom and Dad are not considered part of the meetings and that we are “outsiders.” Dale ignored my questions about our son and just wrote us the rules and their stance and said that he would not want to be in our shoes.

There is definitely a difference in the workers’ policies concerning D&R. The rules are NOT the same everywhere. They depend on who is in charge in the area and what they believe and how they administer the rules. On the West Coast, Leslie White, who was a long time overseer of Colorado, is considered to be “of Satan.” This is because he allowed the D&R couples to make their own decision as to whether or not they would take part in meetings. Some of the older workers are so indoctrinated from Eldon Tenniswood (deceased overseer of California, succeeded by Dale Schultz) that they will probably never change. However, I know a lot of friends and workers here who don’t agree, but they don’t dare say anything.

The rules vary considerably, depending on who the overseer is. The West doesn’t think the East is right to let D&R couples take part. The West believes remarriage is adultery and “living in sin.” Yet the Bible says there is only one unforgivable sin, and that is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.”

This is another thing that really bothers me. In some areas of the USA, some D&Rs have been told that they must not take part for, say a period of 6 months. Then if they show repentance, they will again be allowed to take part. What does six months do with anything–if they are still “living in sin?” Further, who is qualified to make the decision that those certain ones have shown repentance? This is between them and God only.

I’ve noticed that sometimes, the workers treat the D&R couples more harshly than professing child molesters with regard to meeting privileges. The workers have made up their own man-made rules and they use them to destroy families. This is a very, very sad thing in this fellowship.

It was so very hard. When you have been raised to believe this church is “GOD’s ONLY WAY,” it is so hard to leave. I just don’t understand why there is such a difference between California and Colorado. We were so happy in the fellowship in Colorado and had full part there – and none here in California. It makes me so sad.

Well, one Sunday, my husband and I decided to go visit a “false” church, and we felt such love there. We partook of the bread and cup, and I was overwhelmed with tears as I had not been able to do that for 18 months while we went to meetings in California. I prayed that the Lord would guide me with His Spirit. It is interesting that I felt just the same as I felt when I re-professed in Denver in 2006. Our son went to Sunday school and loved it.

The last Sunday meeting we attended was in December of 2008, and we never heard from any of the workers after we left. We emailed our Elders with our decision. We did get a response of sadness. The first Sunday we missed, flowers were delivered to our home with a card that read, “We missed you.” Now, THAT is the spirit of Christ, for sure!

My husband and I are doing fine and there is no judgment where we worship now—just love. I’m so thankful that we did not turn our back on our Savior—we just left the meetings where we could not have fellowship anyway. We are at peace with God and so thankful for the blood of Jesus. There is a lifetime of teaching that I need to have God show me by the scripture–not by what I was told all my life.

Our first church service was communion Sunday, and I wept as I took part. I felt the Spirit so much in this “false church.” Bill and I have stayed and made friends there. I sing in the choir and Bill plays the guitar. It has been so awesome to actually learn what the scripture really says–not pieces taken out of context. We continue to learn; however, it is very hard to shake the brainwashing from being raised going to meeting. God and Jesus are no longer in a little box; it is so great that I cannot even grasp it.

The old tapes still play though, but it’s getting better. When you are indoctrinated and brainwashed all the years you were growing up, you don’t realize how much their teaching has affected you. How it has limited the greatness of God and His Grace. I understand so much more now that I do not go to meeting. I see so clearly Jesus’ sacrifice now.

This was my personal experience with meetings and it was very painful. This whole lie about this church being “the only way” was a hard thing to find out as an adult. I feel so sorry for those who don’t know any better. It’s really too bad that when you leave, you are shunned by most of the friends and workers.

By Judith (Barnes) McPhail
San Diego, California
January 26, 2010

Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on September 2, 2012

JUDITH EILENE (BARNES) McPHAIL (52) beloved wife, mother and daughter passed from this life to be with her Lord on August 30, 2012. She is survived by her parents Roy and Leora Barnes, husband William McPhail, children Nathan, Sean, Amber, Brandon, and Connor as well as seven grandchildren and sister Sharlotte Tayler and brother John Barnes. Service will be at Santee United Methodist Church at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 4th.