Grace Valley Christian Center/Allegations

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Below is an open letter to Grace Valley Christian Center (GVCC), in Davis California, composed by several former members in 2004, listing a host of serious problems there. Following the letter, you will find a response by an elder of GVCC, and in turn, a response to that elder.

  1. An Open Letter To Grace Valley Christian Center
    1. Harsh and Abusive Treatment
    2. Violating Confidentiality
    3. Slander
    4. Pride
    5. Elitism
    6. Isolationism
    7. Self Exaltation
    8. Refusing to Hear or Heed Correction
    9. Oppressive Leadership
    10. Binding Members to Lifetime Commitments
    11. Unbiblical Excommunication Practices
  2. A Response To The Allegations From An Elder
  3. And A Response To The Elder

An Open Letter To Grace Valley Christian Center

Directed to P.G. Mathew, Senior Pastor,
The elders of Grace Valley Christian Center, and
The members of Grace Valley Christian Center,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord

In Gal. 2:11-13 , Paul describes his confrontation of Peter at the church of Antioch - “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” Paul confronted Peter because he was placing obligations on the people of God that the gospel did not. Though his opposition was vehement, Paul did not turn away from Peter he brought a grace-motivated appeal to allow him the opportunity to repent of his actions and beliefs. And, to the glory of God, Peter did repent, and the unity of the church and the purity of the gospel were preserved.

This is the spirit in which this call to repentance is being brought before you. The issues described below are very serious, as were those that Paul faced in his opposition to Peter, and later the Galatians, for they strike directly at the heart of the gospel and Christ’s church. Yet, our appeal is for repentance and reconciliation. We do not desire destruction or division, but healing. We bear no ill will. We only desire to see the grace of God made manifest.

Many individuals have attempted in the past to address these issues with the leadership of Grace Valley to no avail. Recently, attempts have been made by excommunicated persons to meet with the elders through three different arbiters, Pastor King of Immanuel Baptist, Pastor Jim Smith of Crossroads, and Pastor Dave Patterson of The Father’s House, but there is a complete unwillingness of the GVCC leadership to meet with excommunicated members, so long as a third party is present. We consider this letter to be the final overture in the model of correction described in Matthew 18:16 and 17:

“But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church”

The most prevalent sinful practices and doctrines, which we believe require genuine and full repentance, are enumerated and described below.

Harsh and Abusive Treatment

Usually behind closed doors, the leaders of GVCC, particularly Pastor Mathew, often treat people harshly and abusively, even resorting to yelling in anger. Past sins are recounted, unkind statements are made, and those being counseled are castigated when they express disagreement with what is being said about them or others. One's questions or expressions of concern or doubt about GVCC practices or about a leader are frequently viewed as the questioner's problem – he or she is a "rebel", "proud", "arrogant", "hates authority", is "not listening", or is guilty of "contumacy". Sinful treatment of members, however, does not all occur behind closed doors. Most all members have personally observed individuals during public services, especially during "flock" meetings, being disparaged or ridiculed from the pulpit or mentioned in sermons for such reasons as nodding off during service, putting up a wrong music overhead, being in a motorcycle accident, not reading a Scripture passage loud enough, losing a job, etc. Even when the individual's name is not mentioned, it is often abundantly clear who is being referenced.

Violating Confidentiality

Violating confidentiality, or what the Bible more commonly refers to as gossip, is a destructive practice that tears down the people of God and destroys their trust in each other. The Bible clearly condemns this practice: Leviticus 19:16, Proverbs 11:9, 11:13, 16:28, 20:19, Jeremiah 6:28, 9:4, Romans 1:29, 2 Corinthians 12:20, 1 Timothy 3:11, 5:13, 2 Timothy 3:3, Titus 2:3. Gossip is revealing personal, private, or intimate information about another without their consent, and is a serious violation of trust. "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret" Proverbs 11:12-13. Information of a highly personal nature is often shared in the context of counseling, and the counselor's obligation to maintain confidentiality regarding this information is mandated by Scriptures and is a universally recognized ethic among counselors. But the sacred right to confidentiality is frequently violated at GVCC.

Personal information revealed in counseling is often repeated by the Pastor and the elders to others. During counseling sessions, others may be slandered or the brunt of gossip, and sometimes confidential information about others is revealed. Others, even family members, are sometimes asked to write down and submit information about the sins of those being counseled. This information becomes part of the member's personal file that may later be used to remind him or her of past sin, to gain control and/or to manipulate the member. Within the context of counseling, the sins and failings of other individuals are frequently mentioned, as object lessons. Gossip is not confined to the closed door of counseling. On numerous occasions the sins of individuals were revealed from the pulpit. The only time the Bible speaks of such public disclosure of sin is within the context of spiritual discipline, when the Matthew 18 model of correction has been pursued and an individual is unrepentant. Sins of individuals should not to be used as object lessons for others, either in the counseling room or from the pulpit, it is a violation of a sacred trust, and by its example encourages the members to engage in gossip.

Slander

Despite many years of faithful service, malicious and slanderous information has been communicated about ex-members. False accusations, explicit and implicit, vilify them as false brothers, spiritual terrorists, Judas Iscariots, demonized, God-haters, accused of treason, rebellion, drug addiction, theft, fornication, and homosexuality. Many within GVCC uncritically accept these judgments about their brothers and sisters in Christ assuming that the leadership would never slander. This sin is obvious to the victims, but not commonly known among members since the slander, when coupled with shunning, serves to conceal the leadership's sin by "protecting" members from contrary information. In fact, information from ex-members may be referred to as "anthrax", "poison", etc., and members are advised to respond to ex-members who initiate contact with such statements as "I consider you as an agent of Satan in association with others of like mind . . ." In such an environment, people are easily manipulated and turned against their brothers and sisters in Christ. This grave sin requires repentance, including confession to those slandered and others to whom the accusations were explicitly made or implied.

Pride

C.S. Lewis called pride the "essential vice", "the utmost evil", and a sin that "can smuggle itself into the very center of our religious life." Sadly, pride is pervasive among key GVCC leaders and the congregation has been adversely affected by it. The following: Elitism, Isolationism, Self Exaltation, and Refusing to Hear or Heed Correction, are examples of how this sin is manifested.

Elitism

It is not uncommon to hear other evangelical fellowships/ministries denounced from the pulpit, while there is boasting about GVCC and its ministries, e.g., "We [GVCC] are the only church that preaches the Gospel with clarity." Generally, the criticism is leveled at others whose theological views are clearly within the mainstream theologically but with whom GVCC differs. Those holding differing views are sometimes described in pejorative terms, e.g., "stupid". Pride is at the heart of this spiritual elitism that believes that GVCC is one of the few, perhaps the only local church that preaches the Gospel in purity.

Isolationism

Another manifestation of pride is isolationism, separating oneself out of a sense of superiority or out of a fear of defilement – a trademark of Pharisaism. Participation in inter-church activities, visiting other evangelical churches, cooperating with other college fellowships, or participating in non-GVCC sponsored functions are discouraged. Thus, there is little or no cooperation with other evangelical churches to advance the interests of the Kingdom beyond the walls of GVCC. The Apostle John encountered such a church, whose proud leader, Diotrephes, kept the church in isolation and commented:

"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church."

Like Diotrephes, the leadership of GVCC has discouraged members for associating with Christians outside the church, and has even disciplined members for attending other church services. GVCC's affiliation with the Brethren Assemblies is an example of formal communion with the larger body of Christ; however, this affiliation lacks any real substance. There is no meaningful accountability or even participation with churches of the Brethren Assemblies.

Self Exaltation

Another trademark of the Pharisees was that they "love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogue; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi'." The honor conferred upon the Pharisees was not the issue, for we are admonished to "Honor one another above yourselves." And to honor particularly "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well . . . " The sin of the Pharisees was loving and insisting on such honor. The visible expression of "honoring" the leaders at GVCC is seen in the insistence and expectation that members provide automobile and home maintenance services to some leaders, insisting on being seated at the most prominent places during meetings and social events, demanding flawless service, catering to the pastor's idiosyncratic food and drink preferences, and leaders' becoming upset and critical when these expectations are not met. These "acts of service" to the leaders are often performed to the detriment or neglect of members' own families and other responsibilities. Jesus condemned the Pharisees who "tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." Rather, Jesus pointed to a humble leadership model where "the greatest among you will be your servant."

There is a preoccupation with people's titles and degrees, and a deference to the educated, wealthy, and powerful. Boasting about one's accomplishments, financial prowess, money, wisdom, or power is not seemly for one who follows Christ. Rather, the great apostle Paul considered all such things as "rubbish" and commanded "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Refusing to Hear or Heed Correction

Though GVCC leaders emphasize the importance of soliciting and receiving godly correction (and rightly so), the pastor himself often responds in a haughty, contemptuous, and abusive manner when questioned or when attempts are made to bring correction to him. Those who bring forward an issue or concern are often accused of being the problem, and charged with contumacy, pride, and arrogance.

Oppressive Leadership

"Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.'"

Those who exercise authority in the world claim a superiority over those under them, and use their power to control them. But such a mindset is contrary to the Spirit of Jesus, who did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom. To be a godly leader, one must have a servant's heart, to bless those one serves in humility and to seek their advancement, and not to demand recognition or honor, or impose one's will on others. The sense of "lording it over" in this passage carries the meaning of having power over, or control of another, and it is condemned by the Lord as inappropriate for leaders in the church.

Yet, sadly, this is the hallmark and the defining characteristic of leadership at Grace Valley Christian Center. In fact, much of what the church does in terms of discipline, counseling, and other forms of ministry, is carried out with the intent to control and manipulate. Ronald Enroth defines this behavior as spiritual abuse: “Spiritual abuse takes place when leaders to whom people look for guidance and spiritual nurture use their positions of authority to manipulate, control, and dominate”.

At GVCC people are expected to seek council from their elder on matters regardless of whether they are moral issues; whether it be buying or selling a house, car, or major appliance; changing jobs or college majors; planning vacations; moving to another city; dating; getting a vasectomy, or raising and disciplining children. The leadership's authority is often made to apply in quite minor and mundane matters as well. Those who do not seek such council are labeled independent and rebellious. Great stress is placed on the need to submit to the authority of the pastor or the elders with little or no right to question, which includes following their "suggestions". To refuse to do so is to be marked as a rebel. By enforcing submission to their authority in areas not clearly mandated or proscribed by Scripture, i.e. in matters of conscience, the leaders of Grace Valley Christian Center are imposing legalism, and unwittingly usurping the place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The consequence of this is that the members fall into an uncritical acceptance of whatever the leader says, in some cases violating their own conscience, and they gradually lose the ability to hear from God, or to decide for themselves, based on the clear meaning of Scripture.

Binding Members to Lifetime Commitments

In a document which GVCC published to describe the level of commitment expected of "flock members", there was printed the following:

PERMANENCE
• Love doesn't ask "How long?"
• If you love someone you want to be with them
• Covenant love is not a one night stand, like marriage those entering this relationship are expected to remain.
• Unlike marriage the Lord may call someone away. This will be confirmed by the church

We find this expectation of "permanence" at Grace Valley Christian Center, which binds its members to a covenantal, life-long commitment to that local church, to be unscriptural and oppressive. No where in Scripture do we read of any individual making a life-time commitment to a local gathering of believers. In fact, marriage is the only life-long covenantal commitment between human beings supported by Scripture. Furthermore, in attestation to the witness of Scripture, we find this practice to be foreign to Christendom, not found in Protestant church history, and in Catholicism only within the confines of the monastic community.

Attempts have been made by the elders at GVCC to legitimize this practice by alluding to Luke 15:18 and Ephesians 5:31-32, passages which in no way support this doctrine. To infer, for example, that the Prodigal son's return to the father is teaching the necessity of returning to a church which you have left, is a highly improper interpretation of this parable, reading into it what was never intended. Clearly, when Jesus said of the Prodigal son: "he got up and went to his father...", he was refering to a repentant sinner's return to God through repentance and faith, not returning to his church of origin. Therefore, the parable cannot be used to support the rule of permanence.

Similarly, to use Ephesians 5:25-32 to infer that the believer's commitment to his local church is analogous to the bonds of marriage, or to infer that a breach of that commitment is "spiritual adultery", as has been done on numerous occasions, is also a misuse of Scripture. Ephesians chapter 5 speaks of the relationship of husband and wife as a metaphor for the relationship of Christ and his universal Church. It cannot be applied to the relationship of a believer to a specific local church.

These are but a few of examples of how Scripture is twisted to support unbiblical practices at GVCC. The Westminster Confession Chapter XX states that "the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word, or beside (outside) it, have no authority to bind the conscience", and that "to believe or obey such commandments is to betray true Christian liberty." This argument against the validity of the permanence vow, that it is extra-Biblical and a violation of Christian liberty, is the same argument which Martin Luther used to defend his breaking of the unbiblical vow of celibacy. Several reformed theologians, including Dr. Grudem, concur that any vow of life-time commitment to a local church is unscriptural and not binding (see Email Correspondence with Dr. Grudem)

Unbiblical Excommunication Practices

Excommunication is a church disciplinary action in which a person who refuses to repent of promoting heretical views, or of engaging in gross sin, is excluded from the fellowship of the church, in order that he may see the error of his ways and repent. It is based in large part on Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-13. Paul gives a list of the type of offenses that are serious enough to require this discipline: "a sexually immoral or greedy person, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler." John Knox gave these biblical guidelines for excommunication to the church of Scotland: "In the first [place], it is to be noted, that all crimes that by the law of God deserve death, deserve also excommunication from the society of Christ's church. And therefore willful murderers, adulterers (lawfully convicted), sorcerers, witches, conjurers, charmers, and givers of drinks to destroy children, and open blasphemers (as if any renounce God, deny the truth and the authority of his holy word, rail against his blessed sacraments): such, we say, ought to be excommunicated from the society of Christ's church"

Grace Valley Christian Center, however, has greatly abused the discipline of excommunication. In many cases, but certainly not all, the sole act of leaving the church can trigger the discipline of excommunication, although the reasons given are typically vow-breaking, or failure to appear when being summoned by the elders, which is labeled "contumacy" . Several persons have been publicly excommunicated from GVCC, after having left the church, without any warnings, and without even receiving a letter of excommunication.

Furthermore, the leadership of Grace Valley Christian Center encourages the cruel practice of shunning persons who leave the church, cutting off all social — and, as a result, business and family — contact with such persons, a practice that is unique to cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses or highly isolated groups like the Amish. Jesus said that the unrepentant believer, after two warnings, is to be treated as "a gentile or tax collector". Treating someone as "a gentile or a tax collector" means not to relate to them as you would a brother. It does not mean to cut off all social contact, for Jesus himself interacted with gentiles, including tax collectors. The purpose of excommunication and shunning at Grace Valley Christian Center has little to do with the Biblical goal, which is restoration. Rather, the intention at GVCC is clearly to keep those who have left from sharing their reasons for leaving with those in the church. Clifton Burton

A Response To The Allegations From An Elder

As one of the elders of GVCC, I sent the following email to the administrators of Davis Wiki on December 1, 2005. Since they have chosen to not respond to me in any way, I am posting this email here for others to see: —RichardSpencer

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Richard Spencer and I am a Professor of Electrical Engineering at UC Davis and have lived in Davis for 19 years. I would like to congratulate you on having a great website; it has a lot of very useful and interesting information on it.

Unfortunately, as I discovered a couple of days ago, it also has some information on it that is completely out of character for a wiki site, and I think violates any reasonable and responsible rules of civility and propriety. I am referring to the information posted under pseudonyms on the pages labeled aberrations and experiences that are linked from the Grace Valley Christian Center page. As an elder of GVCC and an average citizen of Davis, I am deeply offended by these flames and hope that you will agree it would be in the best interests of all who use this site to simply remove (and permanently ban) any postings of this nature.

As I'm sure you are aware, I can easily get a large number of different email accounts that do not properly identify who I am. So, as a hypothetical example, if I had some personal axe to grind with a local business establishment, I could post a number of different false or misleading negative comments about the business and make it appear that they came from different sources. It would be impossible for the business to reasonably respond to such an attack. The volume and nature of the comments could easily cause other people to then chime in with statements like "Gee, this really does sound like a serious problem that someone should look into." Such comments might have an impact on that business and would certainly violate the spirit and intent of wiki pages.

Your own ethics page says "We would all hate to see the wiki turn into a great place to post porn and flame your professors, but this isn't likely to happen as long as we are all respectful and cooperative. Confrontational statements and material is typically ignored or removed." I hope that you will abide by this and remove the offending material; it is most definitely confrontational, as well as simply being laughably inaccurate. I'm sure that you have all known of people who simply lie, or grossly distort the facts when it suits their purpose. I am asking you to consider how in the world GVCC (or any person or organization so targeted) is supposed to respond to the ridiculous things that are being written (my pastor must approve a car I purchase? Do you really believe that? Do you honestly think that 300 to 400 reasonable adults in Davis — many of them doctors, lawyers, professors and the like — would truly put up with such nonsense?). There obviously isn't any way to respond to such false allegations in a forum like wiki, it is simply not the right place. For me to say anything about any individual posting or allegation would require me to divulge confidential information or say something negative about an individual (which you rightly prohibit). And yet, these postings do target individuals (Pastor Matthew is named in one of them); they specifically speak about the elders or leadership of GVCC, which is an easily identifiable group of specific individuals, and includes me!

Your front page says "This project is an interconnected community effort to explore, discuss and compile anything and everything about Davis — especially the little, enjoyable things." That is a great statement and one that I hope you really desire to abide by. The false allegations being made about my church by "ChristianDemetrius," "JoyfulPilgrim," "Brett Feld," and "BobSmorelights," whom I suspect strongly are one and the same person, or possibly two people, are simply not the kind of material that is of interest to reasonable people (unless, perhaps, they are in the line at a grocery store at the time).

Mark Twain once wrote that a lie makes it half way around the world before the truth gets its shoes on, and this statement is certainly true. I hope that you will not help this lie by giving it an easy electronic forum. These false allegations really represent a threat to the Davis wiki site as well, if this kind of material is allowed, the site could easily degenerate into a place where people post all kinds of negative information about people, businesses, or institutions in Davis. I'm sure that is not what you want to see.

I would be most happy to meet with any of you who are interested, perhaps we could have lunch together on campus? I'm sure that if you met me, and/or other leaders from the church, you would be far more incredulous about the ridiculous allegations being made.

So, in the spirit of the UC Davis principles of community, and of common decency and propriety, I respectfully request that you remove these ridiculous, untruthful, confrontational, and negative postings from your website.

Respectfully yours,

Richard Spencer

And A Response To The Elder

As a former member of GVCC, I would like to respond to Richard Spencer's email to the wiki site.

First of all, there are many people like myself, who have used their real names when logging comments about GVCC of a negative nature.

Secondly, I know personally of individuals who have been threatened with legal action for criticizing the church, so I can understand why persons might be afraid to use their real names.

Thirdly, the allegations do not state specifically that the "pastor must approve a car purchase". It says: "People are expected to seek council from their elder on matters regardless of whether they are moral issues; whether it be buying or selling a house, car, or major appliance; changing jobs or college majors; planning vacations; moving to another city; dating; getting a vasectomy, or raising and disciplining children." These are just examples and certainly do not apply in every case, but many such cases can be sited. For example, when my wife informed the Pastor's wife that I had gotten a vasectomy, she told my wife that I should have gotten council from the elders before having this procedure done. When my son and his wife were seeking permission from the elders to get engaged, they were required to submit all their financial records and a budget to the elders.

Dr. Spencer asks: "Do you honestly think that 300 to 400 reasonable adults in Davis — many of them doctors, lawyers, professors and the like — would truly put up with such nonsense?" The amazing thing is that they do, and that is the power of persuasion that the church leaders have, bolstered by the constant reminder from the Scriptures to "submit to those who have the rule over you".

Some of us who have left GVCC have subsequently requested to meet with the elders to discuss such grievances, provided there was a neutral mediation present, but the request was turned down by the church leadership. We were told that no mediation would be acceptable, that we must come alone, repenting of our sins and seeking to return to the church.

We have therefore chosen the public forum to inform others of the abusive practices at Grace Valley Christian Center, out of a sense of responsibility to the community of Davis.

Clifton Burton

Comments:

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2006-10-09 18:52:07   Wow; I do not understand why people who have edited this page hold GVCC up to such a high standard unless they also likewise hold all churches to the same standards. Where are all the criticisms of all the other churches in Davis on the Wiki? —GabeKoulikov


2006-11-18 00:35:19   I don't know much about this church but what I do know is that every Sunday when I go by this church on the way to my chruch they have security guards out front. Why is that? —JamesHaile


2007-02-07 12:24:33   I like to think of it as "The Compound." :) —KarlMogel


2007-03-05 09:46:36   Six of my family members were excommunicated from this church, and the seventh removed herself later. Abuse of those who have been accused of problems brought before the pastor behing hte backs of the accused are common. We are living testimony to these charges. —MargieRoth


2007-03-06 00:58:10   Thats worded alot better, and it's less loaded and more a statement of what you have experienced —StevenDaubert


2006-12-03 22:02:54   I know a number of individuals and families who have left this church and identify it as a legitimate cult. A pastor who kept files on all the members of the congregation and people who "shun" one another if they leave the church? Um, run!! —SoCalGal


2007-04-23 11:28:00   It seems that the layout and wording of the page have changed for the better. I know of one of my friends who was given the cold shoulder when his family decided not to attend GVCC despite being in close proximity to a number of elders. Shysty! —StevenDaubert


2007-07-17 10:32:12   There are different levels of membership at GVCC. "Flock" is an inner circle group of members who have covenanted with the leadership to put every aspect of their lives "on the table". It's not uncommon for husbands to report to the leadership on their wives, wives on their husbands. In essence, as a member of "flock", your first allegiance is to church leadership and after that to your spouse. Naturally "flock" is a bit of a secret. Many members don't even know about it. We were members there for five years and never attended a "flock" meeting. In the final analysis, if you're in "flock", the only way you can leave GVCC is with the blessing of the leadership. —RichLindvall


2007-12-11 17:32:28   This sounds like a cult to me... —GeorgeLewis


2008-12-16 00:11:11   I'm really creeped out. After attending the church and youth group all quarter, a lot of this makes sense. I talked to my other Christian friends and went to some other Christian churches and nobody agrees with "you'll be closer to this church family than your own family" like I've heard from Grace Alive. Also, nobody is sad that it's "hard to find real Christians outside of Church." Jesus was a Carpenter. His disciples were fishermen, etc. -people of the world. It freaks me out that all these kids have no life experience whatsoever and want to isolate themselves. It makes being back in the real world, outside of Davis, quite interesting. It makes me think of those kids that were found... I dunno I'm a bit confused now. Grace Alive seemed so friendly... But why is Grace Valley all that the kids know??? Born and raised, most know nothing else.

2008-12-16 00:15:00   this is my spiritual life for eternity. being offensive can't be something i fear.
* these two comments were input by the same user. —RocksandDirt


2011-01-13 06:22:00   To clarify my statement on the main article, which I hope will be allowed to stand because this is from quite a lot of personal experience, this church hardly deserves the title. I didn't say anything before because I knew people involved and was honestly worried for them in case, despite a certain amount of anonymity, my comments were traced back to them. I'll have it known that what I say here is of my own volition, not something I was asked to do. The cult-like behaviors of this "church" are absolutely preposterous and I can't believe it's been allowed to stand and operate as long as it has. I can only assume that this has been the case because of the positions of many members of the church allowing them a certain amount of influence. Growing up in Davis I was in contact with several "prominent" members of GV who would make comments and suggestions about recruiting my family almost every time I, or my family, was around them. That alone is invasive and, such being the case as relates to their particular careers, highly inappropriate. I was often treated snobbishly by them, and my parents were as well, especially when we made it clear we were not interested. Looking back, I realize that the fact that I was made uncomfortable by their actions even at a very young age should have set off all kinds of alarms, even before a slew of excommunications involving my friends and neighbors.
As to that, what an incredibly unchristian practice! There were two entire families, just in my neighborhood, who had to actually leave Davis because the treatment of the parents, and worse, the children had been so horrible. Shunning, spreading of rumors, problems with careers and school... It's vile what was done to them and if I knew precisely who all was involved with causing it I would spit on them. And that's just from what I could see, not being a churchgoer of any sort. I can only imagine the potential loss of faith or even hope something like that would cause for a person of faith so damaged by the very people they had joined with in faith.
Anyway, I know this thread has been dead for a while but the fact is that the problem is still around and a couple of more recent events brought this to mind for me. If a member of the church reads this, I do hope you will really consider what I have written and not simply discount it as slanderous. And for one-time members, I do hope you will find the ability to speak out about this because I honestly can't believe this church and these practices have been tolerated for so long. —KBathory


2011-07-30 01:19:39   I also joined "Grace Alive," for a couple quarters at UC Davis (the college-aged group) and have to say that all of the information on here I either knew, suspected, or am not surprised about. I was there in 2004 and distinctly remember a lot of negative preaching from the pulpit, including during a wedding (people who voted or supported Clinton or Gore were condemned), and during service (teenage boys weren't singing loud enough and being called out in front of 300-400 members). Anyway, I think there's a lot of people with great hearts, minds, and sprits, but there's definitely something weird with the leadership. I left after I attended the church retreat in Tahoe, and an ex-communicated member was chastised and other weird things were said (e.g. babies are not "saved")... —WhitneyBeeb


"2013-05-01" I was at Grace Alive and attended Grace Valley Christian Center regularly for 7 to 8 months. But when I wanted to date, the leaders opposed it. Neither I nor my girlfriend were accused of any sin, but the leaders based their opinions on worldy human judgement, then I realized this church is not bible centered, but it is elder centered. This, combined with many things I found out about this church that showed it was merely a cult, made me want to leave. I urge anyone who wants to attend Grace Valley to be very careful to not cross paths with any elders in the church. If you do, you WILL be excommunicated with no reasonable explanation, I promise you. Not only that, but you will be gossiped about, people will spread lies about you, and the pastor will publicly humiliate you. It's a fear and reverence cult. I was growing to love the people at that church, but underneath I found their elders to be the most vicious people I have ever met. —calicoder

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