In my youth I was kept under the rule of the workers, so I found it difficult to get work because I didn’t know how to socialize, having to look so much different than other people. I wore black stockings for a short while, then transferred to a dark gunmetal and then to a lighter grey (always heavy though). By the time my parents and I broke with the CC’s, I was 40. (CC’s = Christian Convention Church aka the Way, the Meetings, the 2x2s, the truth)
The CC’s stressed that “heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people” for those who have paid the price by denying themselves, taking up their cross, going against their human nature, and being peculiar.
The CC’s main doctrines seemed to be: the sacrifice of the workers giving their lives; obey those who have the rule over you; the church without a name (which we found was not true); the celibate minister (which we found was not true of some of the men); lay your money at the apostles’ feet; faith without works is dead (the works being mainly correct outward appearance).
When I was 26, my parents moved to St. Paul to live with me. My two younger brothers had gone to war, so they were lonely. My brothers were not Conscious Objectors (COs), but I believe the Lord protected them from ever having to take a life. But because they were not CO’s my mother sorrowed and my brothers were looked down on by the “workers.” and “saints.”
My parents and I bought a home together, and a few years later a Sunday fellowship meeting was established in our home. We were buried in the “work of the Lord,” or so we thought. We were popular with the workers and especially with the young girls who came from the country to work in the city. They came to our house on their afternoons off and often on weekends without invitation. There was very little privacy, but we were happy because we thought we were sacrificing for the Lord.
For at least 10 years before our exit, we were troubled by many things we saw that were not according to the Bible. I used to hear my parents discussing these troubling things over the breakfast table, and later all three of us discussed the doubts we had over the supper table.
James (Jim) Jardine aka J.J. was the Overseer of Minnesota from around 1940 til his death in 1969. He also had two brothers in the work named Nicol and Walter. Jim and his brothers were coal miners in Scotland before they went in the work. Jim knew several languages, wrote a number of hymns, and pioneered the work in Germany with Otto Schmidt in 1913. He also preached many years in Europe. Walter was Overseer of North Dakota and Nicol was Overseer of Wisconsin. They had 2 sisters, one who remained in Scotland, and Maggie who married and lived in Minnesota.
Jim and Nichol headquartered at the home of their sister, Maggie and family, in the twin cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota). Or course, there was a meeting in that home. We asked Jim to stay at our house–even begged him, but he wouldn’t. Where was the preacher without a home? James Jardine lived in the home of his sister, and his companion was really nothing more than a lackey driving him around and waiting on him hand and foot. J.J. treated the sister workers like sluts; and in gospel meetings he referred to himself and other older workers as “apostles.”
We especially began to notice the hard spirit some of the older workers had and their cruelty to the younger ones. Many things that happened in our own home were revolting to us. They would preach about Paul, but in their own lives, they denied him. They would preach about love, but their lives did not show love.
Jim J. spent hours in second-hand bookstores buying and reading religious books. One of his companions told me that he got very tired of spending all that time in the bookstore that could be used more profitably.
For a number of years before our exit, we found didn’t take any “outsiders” to the gospel meetings because we could not honestly tell them that these men are really homeless (as they preach from the platform) when they continue to stay in the same home year after year and refuse to accept invitations to other homes.
We could not explain to others why the platform speakers stressed that church buildings are wrong and yet some took 2 or 3 months off from preaching the gospel in the summer in order to repair existing buildings or build new ones on the convention grounds, which are put there for the sole purpose of worship. These buildings were referred to as “machine sheds” which is misleading and outright deception. We found it impossible to justify by scripture the buildings or the time taken to build them by those who have given their lives to preach the gospel and save souls.
I was so tired of all the endless meetings: Sunday, mid-week, gospel (in St. Paul in the winter this was 3-4 times a week and Sunday evening). When I got home from work tired, there was no rest on the weekends because there were overnight guests (usually working girls). During this time I was going to night school once or twice a week. I earned a B.A. in Sociology over a span of 20 years at the University of Minnesota while working full time.
For more than a year, a wealthy woman, Ellen Swanson from Pillager, lived with us after her husband died. She gave us some money, and we added a lot more and built a room on our house for her. She had $88,000 when her husband died and her husband’s will gave it all to my Mother to care for his widow.
Caring for Ellen proved to be too much for my Mother, and when Ellen went to the hospital for a short time, my mother collapsed. My father, brother John and I stood together and refused to let Ellen come back to our home. We called the workers. Nichol and James Jardine came with two more witnesses.
One of the first things they asked us was about the money willed to my mother. Mother freely gave it over to J.J. They didn’t want Ellen to go to a nursing home, so they took her money and built a house for her and took someone out of the work to care for her. The first thing they did was force this elderly woman to change her will in their favor. James sent a sister worker to stay in our home to go over Ellen’s accounts (she had a monthly income) with Mother. Most of the distributions had been to workers who made a steady path to our door during her stay with us.
While Ellen was in our home, our eyes were really opened to how hungry the workers were for money. It seemed as if every worker who came to either St. Paul or Minneapolis came to our home for a short visit in the evening. They would be there about a half-hour and then Ellen would invite the older of them into her bedroom. They would be gone from a few minutes up to 20 minutes. As soon as they came out of the bedroom, they would leave. Ellen would tell my Mother how much she gave the workers, and Mother would put it in the account book, along with any amounts she gave to our household. When Ellen left and the day of reckoning came, the amount Ellen had given to “the work” far exceeded what she had put into our household.
I usually gave money to the sister workers. Once, J.J. made it his business to question me as to whether I was contributing to the amount my parents gave to him. I told him I liked to give to the younger workers. J.J. said that money should be “laid at the apostles’ feet,” as was done in Acts. He said this frequently.
One time my brother John had a visit with two male workers. The older one commented that the only way the workers had to judge what was in “the friends” hearts was by how much money they gave the workers.
A sister worker told Mother that in a convention in Minnesota all the workers were required to empty their wallets of ALL their money and start out afterwards with nothing. What about the older brother worker who was over the work in the state? Who got all that money? Think of the power it gave him.
We never heard of any collection for the Saints, as was done in Acts. We never heard of the workers giving any money to the poor among us. We did hear about one worker in another state who had a bank account; also of another who secretly supported a wife.
There were some who were put out because their doctrine did not agree with the Only True Way doctrine. One was August Gustafson. He was in his 80s, was a very humble man, maybe a little eccentric and was a believer in truth.
I don’t recall ever having heard Heb 9:12 & 22 preached about while we were in the CC’s. However, August Gustafson spoke of God’s great gift of his Son who made it possible for our sins to be forgiven. That it was a FREE gift. His main theme was “The doctrine according to Paul.” He said we were in that generation because Paul was saved through revelation, not by seeing Jesus in the flesh. We are the same. God has revealed to us that Jesus is the Son of God. We also did not see the crucifixion, but thru faith we accept the fact that He paid the price for our salvation with his blood—the gift of God to all mankind. He was always praising God for his “great salvation.” He was hated by the workers because he stood for truth. August was in our home for several months and when he left, he went back to England.
The contents of Doug Parker’s book were no surprise to me because I had heard about William Irvine all my life. Before her marriage, Mother was in a home where the matter of the expulsion of Wm. Irvine was discussed by James Jardine, who was one of the workers who put Irvine out. I didn’t know about the subject being squelched, because I always knew about it. And if people asked my Mother, she told them plainly what she knew, and no worker ever told her not to.
Not too long after my mother had first professed, Wm Irvine publicly denounced her in convention for having previously been a missionary in China. He said: “If our sister doesn’t know it was the devil who sent her to China, I’m telling her.” (paraphrased).
LEADING UP TO THE BREAK
Kay Curtis Arvig was my closest lifelong friend. (Read Kay’s story) She was a Minnesota girl who had married and moved to California. I shared some of these things with Kay and her husband Ted during a visit I made to California and found their situation was also very discouraging. Before we made our break with the CC’s, I was very depressed and sometimes sat sobbing at my desk at work. However, I was too busy to let it get to me, and I needed to keep up appearances for my mother’s sake, who was in frail health.
I have a copy of The Secret Sect. Before the book was finished, the parents of Doug Parker came to St. Paul and stayed in our home a few days. I remember Mrs. Parker testifying in our meeting. She said God has an invisible church and we do not know who the members are (like the wheat and tares growing together until harvest). Needless to say, there were raised eyebrows among “the friends” in the meeting.
God was preparing us to take the final step for at least a dozen years before we left the CC’s. We had gradually become aware of a departure from the teachings of the scripture by those who were in authority over us. We noticed a gradual drifting away from the pattern and what was taught us in the early years. There were man-made rules that could not be justified in the Bible that were set down by those in authority as The Only Way to obtain eternal salvation. We were grieved that the workers were placing a greater stress on attending gospel meetings than on attending the Sunday morning fellowship meeting.
James Jardine paid us a visit on Wednesday evening, July 9, 1958, in which he set out the conditions for our continued fellowship with the Christian Convention group. We had agreed to let him say his piece and not argue, and we three would discuss it later. J.J. said we could not have fellowship with the CC’s if August Gustafson came to our home and we accepted his doctrine. That was the final straw.
We wrote J.J. an Exit Letter dated July 13, 1958, which stated among other things, “We are hereby notifying you that as of this date we are severing all connections with the Christian Convention sect and we are asking that you immediately make arrangements to remove the meeting from our home…This does not mean that we are forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. We intend to continue to meet according to the pattern that is given us in the Bible and we are looking only to God for guidance in this. “To walk by faith means live for things eternal; consider Him who trod the path alone.” Anyone who comes to our home in the name of Jesus and is willing to give Him the glory and the preeminence will be given the right hand of fellowship by us…In regard to the impending visit of August Gustafson, our home is open for any discussion that is mutually agreed upon between both parties concerned.”
AFTER WE MADE THE BREAK
Several of the people who met with us, as well as some relatives, used to come to our home and complain about things they did not think were according to the Bible. Many of my close girlfriends were extremely critical. But when we made the break, not one of them called us. We were completely cut off and those transition years were very lonely. We were ostracized by people who had enjoyed the hospitality of our home for many years.
After we wrote the letter removing ourselves from the CC’s, my brother John and his family continued going to meetings for about 1-1/2 to 2 years. John asked the workers several times to come to his home and discuss the situation, but they never did. They seemed to shy away from John at meetings. Perhaps they had been warned not to get close to him. Then one Sunday morning John called and told us they were coming to our meeting, and they continued to meet with us until my parents died.
By chance one day, I met a woman who had been in the CC’s a few years. After the usual greeting, I told her we were not in the CC’s anymore. She eagerly said, “Neither am I. When can we talk?” I told her she could come visit us anytime. “Can I come tonight?” She came and we discussed the scriptures til midnight. After that she came to our Sunday morning meeting for several years. Eventually, she joined a Baptist church because she wanted to teach kindergarten in their schools. We remained friends.
After Mother died, John suggested we discontinue the meeting and that was fine with me. John and his family never went to any church. John continued to have the CC notion that all churches are wrong.
My other brother, Bob, lived in California. He left the CC’s soon after he married an Australian lady who had spent some time in a Catholic convent during her school years. She thought the CC way was ridiculous and once she busted out laughing in a meeting in Chicago where they were living. Later, Bob went to a convention near Chicago for a weekend. He walked out from town to the convention and when he arrived he was ostracized. No one talked to him or offered him a ride back to town. My parents grieved over Bob for many years–until we three left.
I began to try out the world! I cut my hair and then I began to wear a little makeup. After my parents died I learned to dance, and that’s where I first met my husband. I worked in the same office as another CC woman. I remember the time she first noticed that I had color on my cheeks. She was talking to me and all of a sudden she got a shocked expression on her face and then she looked again more closely. The first time one of my cousins saw me wearing makeup (and I used is very sparingly at first), she began to cry and went into another room to regain her composure. By that time I was so confident that I was doing the right thing and they were all wrong that it seemed funny. I went home and laughed.
My husband and I met long after I had been freed from the bondage of the CC’s. We married in 1983. It was my first marriage–I had been a career woman. I was 64 and we married two years after I retired.
Suffice to say I have no regrets. My life is much richer as a result of the liberty that only the Lord’s Spirit can give. I don’t go to a church to worship. I worship in my own home every day when I read my Bible and pray. I have visited many churches over the years searching for truth but have not found it. No church is perfect and should not be—there will always be the wheat and tares growing together and only God knows the one from the other.
This does not mean I am judgmental of those who do attend or join a church. I would do so if I found one that followed the scripture. Each person must choose before God. Jesus said in John 21:18-19: “Follow me” and again v 21-2 “…what is that to thee follow thou me.” That is what I should be doing and what I try to do as much as possible. I believe there are some CCs that have salvation. If they are worshipping Jesus and NOT the workers, and accept by faith his salvation which He did “once for all” on the cross.
I have been reading II Cor 2 & 3. Verse 17 “…where the spirit of the Lord IS there IS liberty.” How true! Those of us who have experienced the awful bondage of that religion which kept us bound hand and foot for years can really understand the true meaning of this verse. It is God’s spirit that gives us liberty. Belonging to a church, sect, cult or whatever does not give liberty. We may get emotional support from group members, but true liberty comes when God’s spirit is leading and then V. 18 can become a reality in our lives.
I read the book “Has the Truth Set You free?” and am amazed at all the scripture in support of salvation by grace through faith. How could we have been so blind all those years? I am praying for the release from all those ideas so that I might be fully free to worship him “in spirit and in truth.”
When I die, I want to do so as my parents, praising God for removing them from bondage and opening their eyes to see the real truth.
By Margaret (Erickson) Schader
March 28, 1992
Revised December 30, 2012
Click Here to read their Exit Letter
Obituary for Margaret (Erickson) Schader published in Pioneer Press on August 26, 2012
(nee Erickson) Age 94 ~ of St. Paul. Preceded in death by her husband of 17 years, Oliver (Sarge) and her brother John Erickson of Roseville. Margaret is survived by her brother Bob (Eileen) Erickson of San Jose, CA, sister-in-law Charlotte, and many relatives and friends. Retired Minnesota State employee of 42 years. Former resident of Wilder Park Condo (STP) for 28 years…Private Interment Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Obituary of August Gustafsson in Swedish Newspaper 1970
The preacher August Gustafsson from Lugnas has died in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the age of 97 years. As a young man he went to America where he first had work on the railways. Very soon, however, he and a fellow worker listened to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, those words the Lord said to his disciples (Matthew 10 and Mark 6:7-13). That command of the Lord, August followed faithfully and practised all his life.
He was in the service of the Lord in the U.S.A. and in Australia where he was manager of a home for seamen for 10 years. He was also in the Lord’s work in New Zealand, Ireland, and Scandinavia. His native land, Sweden, he visited from time to time especially when he was old.
When he was 90 he was invited to visit friends in Northern Ireland. Those friends gave him a home there for the rest of his life. During his last years he was blind and in declining health. His friends in Northern Ireland took care of him in a very loving, kindly way. The friendship between this good family and August lasted for many years.
August Gustafsson was a very godly man and a blessing to many peo¬ple. Before all religious communities he pointed to the loving command of the Lord: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, mind and strength and thy neighbour as thyself.” Again and again August remembered those words and practised them in his own life.
Source: Selected Letters of Fred Wood 1890-1986 by Patricia Roberts, page 35