by Holly (Poulter) Pietsch
Posted on FactNet Monday, August 23, 2004 - 5:11 pm:
My name is Holly Pietsch, maiden name Holly Poulter-daughter of Bill and Vicki Poulter, formerly of the Los Angeles assembly. I was a member of "The Group" for the first 18 years of my life(1966-1985). Due to the nature of my father's job, our family moved a lot. As children, moving was very exciting most of the time because this meant that we got to move to another assembly. We had relatives in most of the California assemblies.
We attended the LA Assembly for most of the years I was a part of the group. Three and a half years before our "marking" my dad was transferred to the San Luis Obispo Sears Store, as the store manager. What an opportunity! Not only was this a great move for Daddy-his first store, but we were moving to an assembly with a lot of cousins as well as long time friends. Little did I know what was in store for our family.
It wasn't long before we began to realize the division that was going on in the assembly. There was definitely the "in crowd" of which we were a part, but only because we were new and we were related to one of the big families in the "Yes, sir!" group. I could go on in great detail over the many comments and conversations that went on between my relatives about one of the families on the fringe and one that was eventually marked. Little did my relatives know at the time that our family had some of the same feelings as the families they were talking so badly about. I will, however, stick to a few memories that have never faded, for they have left their indelible mark that only hurt and viciousness can do.
These memories may seem trivial, but they go to show the nature of this "group" mentality and the conformity that must be adhered to to maintain status and good standing.
#1. I wore black leotards and those were considered a little "racy" at the time. I remember someone saying something to my mother about them. My choice of clothing, while always modest, was not consistent with what most of the girls wore. I did not have all the lace and ruffles that seemed to add to a meek and quiet spirit.
#2. My sister and I chose to sit with my parents on the side pews of the Grange Hall, instead of sitting with the girls in the second row. I vividly remember that row as a young teenage girl--every girl had long, flowing hair, combed, curled, and ribboned to perfection--God says it is a women's glory and it was as if God's word wasn't enough, no, they were going to prove it. Was yours trimmed? ratted? cut? I sure hope not! Did you have the right look? I sure hope so!! It was obvious that some did not approve of the fact that my sister and I did not fall into line and sit with the girls in the second row!!
#3. Mama and Daddy once decided to have a family over for dinner. Mama got reprimanded by the wife who said, "Bill (my father) needed to cal her husband for the invite." As if my mother hadn't already run it by my father!! What were they calling Daddy then? Was he not the head of the household, capable of making a decision.
#4. The last and most memorable--One Sunday morning during "meeting", Gordy Grant got up and said that there needed to be "better attendance" by some. I don't remember the context of the entire meeting, but I do remember that the comment was directed to mainly three families, of which mine was one. After the meeting there was a men's meeting. My mother had not come to meeting that day, so when daddy was in the men's meeting, we kids were forced to hang around waiting until it was over. I will never forget the feeling I had that day. We were left out of every conversation and group. Everyone there knew that the meeting was about our (us and the other kids) dads. I could feel them staring at us and when we went to leave they opened up as if the Red Sea was parting and we walked through. I did not, however, feel like the children of Israel, I felt as if I were walking the gauntlet in front of a jeering crowd. Not a word was spoken, though, everyone just stared as we walked by. Some of these people were my own relatives. Bear in mind, I was 18, my sister Heidi 20, and I had two younger brothers, Shane and Clint,16 and 10 respectively. We were just kids. If they thought for one instant that that kind of behavior would win us over they were wrong. (This particular incident will be expounded upon in detail in an upcoming entry.)
Our family was marked soon after. Basically we were marked because we disagreed with the markings of others. My sister and I received our own marking letters a year later. We both were never contacted by anyone in the group to let us it (the marking) was coming, or were we given a chance to speak for ourselves. I am not completely sure, but I don't think that anyone still attending the "Group" would know why we were marked --with real certainty and backed up with scripture. I do know that we were thrown in with all the others that did not blindly follow the leadership. (Domino Effect)
I know my dad to be one of the fairest and most trustworthy men I have ever known. He loves the Lord with all his heart and strives to live a life that is pleasing to God. He has a strong personality and a mind of his own, but that does not mean he is not open to following the will of God. He knows the difference between right and wrong and ALWAYS sticks up for what he believes is right. Anyone in the group that knows my father will know that to be true about him.
It was not easy for Daddy to take a stand against everything and everyone he had known since a child. It was not easy to take his family from a lifetime of memories, family, and friends. It was not easy for him to take the "marking" without ever having a chance for a "fair trial" as you have requested, Richard. It was, however, EASY for him to rest assured that he was following God's will for his life and the welfare of his family. My father has NEVER second guessed his decision to remove his family from what he saw as the downward spiral of a misguided group of believers under misguided and evil leadership.
I am truly thankful for the example my father has set for our family and for his taking a stand against what I know to be wrong. God had richly blessed our family. We have not gone by the wayside as earlier predicted.
I do not have hope of ever going back to the group. I don't think it could be possible to have a relationship with God and stand under the wickedness that is so pervasive among the leadership. I know that I will see most of my family, friends, and fellow believers in heaven where we will spend eternity rejoicing together.
I am truly thankful that I have my parents and immediate family to fellowship with. I cannot begin to understand what it must be like to have family that is still locked up in that group.
My motivation for writing this letter was spurred on when you (Richard) recounted the story of your granddaughter racing to the back to yell out the door to you. My heart broke and tears came to my eyes, and I could not imagine my own daughters, Jaly and Abby, not being able to run to their grandpa and shower him with love. I must admit the feeling I had was pure anger. I wanted to run to the phone, dial Jeff Grove, and give him a piece of my mind. Imagine the field day they (the group) would have with that!!!
As I am a mother now, I can't imaging having my children turn against me, especially if it was caused by someone that is supposedly entrusted by God to lead his flock. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family--and all families that have been torn apart in the name of God.
The rhetoric with which John Morey used in his response to your request for a fair trial is oh so familiar. I can understand your frustration because I witnessed my own father's frustration and helplessness over many of the same issues. (You will find a detailed explanation of my father's experience with John Morey in my next letter) I find it downright amazing that John Morey can so easily jump on Uncle Robert's bandwagon. He isn't really on the bandwagon as fully as Robert thinks. John Morey has had contact with some that are marked/associate with marked people. Does that seem fair/ I find it frustrating when I hear stories of marked people being able to see loved ones in the group. It isn't fair. I cannot condemn them, though, because I understand the feeling of wanting to keep the bond of fellowship open. I just happen to be related to some of the really staunch avoiders. I would love to see some of my relatives again. Although, while Uncle Jim and Aunt Sue were two of my favorites, I am not sure I would recognize them as the same people. Leadership, power, and money have changed them. Yes, I did say money, which leads me to my next thought.
I have heard stories of the coercion that goes on with the elderly regarding their finances. (documentation available) They are being told to turn everything over to the ministry. Some leaders are being paid exorbitant fees for tearing families apart, instilling fear in their congregations, and marking anyone who crosses their path.
John is not the only hypocrite in the group. So many in the group still have contact with friends and relatives that have been marked. They just keep the secrets from the leaders or from people they know might turn them in. The hypocrisy goes even deeper. Some members of the same family don't even heed the markings in the same manner. I find it sad that you were marked for helping your son, while I know of others who attend funerals, knowing that they will be attended by a large group of marked Christians. We who are at the funeral know that we have to keep it "quiet". I guess we should be grateful that they have blessed us with their presence, we who are so reproachful and "marked to be avoided."
I remember going to Disneyland as children. My parents would take us every 3-4 years. It was something that we kids had to keep to ourselves. Imagine being a child and wanting to share the excitement and not being able to because we might offend someone or put our family in a bad light. I am thankful my dad did not completely cave to the pressure of leadership. Even though it is strange that we had to keep it a secret, Daddy only taught us to do this because he didn't want to offend anyone. He didn't think it was wrong, but "for the sake of unity" we were told to keep it under our hats. (Remember the Disneyland Camp???)
I bet if you surveyed most of my cousins my age and younger they would not even know why they coulnd't talk to us. I wonder if they know there was a camp where fathers were standing up telling the congregation that if Disneyland was a problem they wouldn't take their kids there anymore. Do they go to Disneyland now? Have the rules changed? Do they have television now? Or, do they just have monitors which allow access to the same materials? Are they allowed to have computers which come loaded with a lot more dangers than televisions? Or, are they forced to lie and keep secrets to maintain good standing? I wonder?
For the most part, with the passing of time the scars have faded and the hurt, anger, and frustration over what my family and many other families experienced has subsided. It is only by hearing the occasional story or latest escapade by upper "group" leadership that the old wounds start to act up. My response is usually one of disbelief and utter disgust over what these leaders, two of them being my uncles, are being allowed to perpetrate towards both fearful and very confused sheep.
I know to many this letter may be hard to understand, especially if you were not raised in the "group". Perhaps I have not expressed my heart as clearly as I would have liked. I have just tipped the iceberg of my personal story. So many times I have wanted to send a letter, but knowing how to start seemed too overwhelming. I hope in some way this helps. You are not alone in your hurt and anguish. Mine has just diminished with the passing of time.
Battered, but delivered,
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 8:49 pm:
"What has happened for the last 20 years. Where are all the other hundreds of people who have suffered this trauma."-Jim Williamson
Most of us have moved on and have experienced an even closer walk with the Lord. Most have never looked back or had a desire to return to the group, especially the way it is now. That is not to say that we don't look back with many fond memories of the experiences and people we shared so much of our lives with. For many, I'm sure, the attitude has been that we will see the saints we used to fellowship with in heaven. I don't think the prospect of rekindling the fellowship is too optimistic.
Many of us have taken a new interest in trying to expose the group and its divisive tactics. Some, though, do not share our same desire. They have moved on and have no interest in having anything to do with the "group". Everyone has a right to their own feelings. For some of us who still have family locked up in that mind-controlled cult, it is hard not to want to continually hope that others might finally see the light as we did so many years ago.
For every new entry to the message board we are hopeful that our message is being spread and God is doing His work. We are thankful for what you have shared and so sorry for what you too had to go through.
I think that so many in the group have no idea of the pain, devastation, and physical and emotional loss they have caused to their fellow brothers and sisters. All of the stories and personal accounts are so important and necessary in helping to expose the group and possibly open the eyes of those that have gone with the flow for far too long.
I hope that you share more and that you spread the news of this message board to others so that they may share as well.
Jim, I don't really remember you--possibly to young, but I do remember your wife vaguely. I do know your sisters though. I remember Louella as being quite a softball player when we would play at camps. You might not remember me very well either. I am Bill and Vicki Poulter's second child.
Blessed be the tie that binds...
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 8:51 pm:
Remember how we ended every camp with that song?
Response from Pam Beitzel
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 10:52 pm:
Holly, "Blessed Be The Tie" and " Caught Away" are two songs that make me miss camps and our loved ones that we haven't been able to sing those songs with for so many years. We probably won't be able to have fellowship with most of them until we are "Caught Away".
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