JPUSA, JPA, Meissner, and the COG
Hi. I'm a long-time member, like 30 years long, of JPUSA (Jesus People USA). It is true that we (or more accurately, the group "Jesus People Milwaukee" which was headed by Jim Palossari) was a spin-off (once removed) from Jesus People Army. But this was before
the Children of God intersected with JPA and Linda Meissner. Jim P. and his wife Sue were a Meissner (and/or Russ Griggs?) convert to Christ, but not to the COG. When Linda went with the COG, she made an attempt to bring Jim in but he smelled a rat and refused to play along. The rest, alas, is history. Meissner is still somewhere in Europe, and has been interviewed (I believe) by David DiSabbitino (sp?), a guy with a very long interest in all things Jesus movement related. I saw a copy of this interview but was disappointed in the lack of much self-recognition of wrong in it by Meissner. As a fairly avid amateur historian of the Jesus movement (and particularly the Northwest part of that movement due to my own personal contact with them as a 12 or 13 year old) I wish she'd understand more of what her actions cost others. Sigh...
Anyway, if you were drawing a "family tree" of Jesus People Army, it would look like this sorta...
JPA > JP Milwaukee (1971-72) > Jesus People USA (1972-2007 and still counting)
The COG sucked up JPA, but failed to nab JP Milwaukee. When I joined JPUSA in 1977, we were often warned to have nothing to do with the Children of God / Family of Love / The Family. In the past few years, I have met with COG folks and tried to bridge-build with them, but while also being forthright about my (and the larger Body of Christ's) disagreements with them regarding spiritism, sexuality, extra-biblical revelation (the "Mo" letters) and so on. Their most recent revelations after Berg's death regarding "making love to Jesus" (i.e., holy masturbation) certainly indicate they aren't yet open to correction from others... It makes me sad, because I culturally share that era of their birth (the Jesus movement era), and was even impacted indirectly by the COG when they were positively treated in a CBS (I think) special TV program. Heck, they were singing Kum By Ya! At thirteen, I briefly thought about joining them!
As for JPUSA. Yes, we have had our controversies. But for the record, we are members in good standing with a very established evangelical denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church (see http://www.covchurch.org/
). We have always attempted to be open and accountable to the rest of Christ's Body. We do still live communally, and I think we may be one of the larger (if not the largest) Jesus movement era community left. For an incomplete history of JPUSA called "Life's Lessons" which I authored, check my articles page: http://www.cornerstonemag.com/jt/
Questions (as long as we don't get mean) are welcome. And no, I'm not here to prosletyze. JPUSA has never done so and never will. Resurrection (REZ) Band led thousands to Christ, and never was one of them pressured to join JPUSA. Likewise the magazine, Cornerstone, I oversaw and which for years wrote about groups such as the COG with gentle but forthright critiques based on theology and practice.
Jon Trott (30 years at JPUSA! Heck, I'm old!)