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Reply Thu 17 Nov, 2005 11:39 pm
Hello all,

Looking for info on Jesus People USA , commune in Chicago. Many sites list as an offshoot of early COG group.

My sister and her family are getting wrapped up in them and I am just not sure who they are.

Our mother dabbled in COG (along with the Moonies, TM, and pentacostal) in the 70's in Ann Arbor, but I was too young and remember nothing.

Thanks for any help on the subject. Sorry it is off COG topic somewhat.

Peace -
Reply Fri 18 Nov, 2005 04:26 pm
Their own website:

Other sites about them:

The Jesus People USA, an offshoot ministry of the original Seattle Jesus People Army, would soon find a home in Chicago ministering to street youth.

Resurrection Band - A band that has been together for over 25 years. All are members of Jesus People USA.

Please check out ALL these links. I have tried to put articles about JPUSA from different groups and sources.

I, personally have no opinion one way or another as I reside in UK.

But Caution is ALWAYS advisable when approaching any group.
Reply Sat 19 Nov, 2005 12:56 pm
The Seattle JPA is still going? Wow. I wonder what happened to Linda Meisner and the others that joined up with TF back in 1972.
Reply Sat 19 Nov, 2005 01:56 pm
Yea, what's up with that story and happen to Linda? Everthing is always. kept secret in TF.
Reply Fri 27 Jan, 2006 02:20 am
stay away from group. long history of child sexual abuse that was covered up alot. marriages are not that strong among alot of the couples. with history of divorce and remarriage among some of the menbers. main authority group of family are mostly all related. That should send up warning signals alone. overall most people in group are sincere but try to speak out against any of the authority or you will be branded as backslidden or worse. i peronally waqs a member of group for 11 years. one of my sons was molested while there. and was beaten frequently for normal child hood emotions and misbehavings. if you are thinking about going, don't" get involved in your local church and seek the lord with all your heart because he will be found.
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2007 11:14 pm
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 ). 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:

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!)
Mark Scheiderer
Reply Wed 8 Aug, 2007 05:45 pm
JPUSA cult , chapter 7 and much of the epilogue are about the JPUSA cult. A poem by an ex-member is printed at the end.

You will notice that the above poster ( here's a few photos of his carcass: and . Where does a commune member get enough money to pay for tattoes like those? ) said nothing about child molestation at JPUSA. talks about many forms of physical and sexual abuse that went on - are possibly still going on at JPUSA.

Mr. Trott is JPUSA's spin doctor. He is to be ignored.

Mark Scheiderer
Reply Fri 14 Sep, 2007 11:47 am
JPUSA coverage of COG/Family through Cornerstone magazine
An interesting historical footnote in the JPUSA discussion here is that we were one of, if not the very, first non-COG people to discover their teachings on "flirty fishing" and so on. This happened due to a JPUSA member's attending a US Post Office sale of undelivered mail. Among a wad of "religious literature" we purchased there was an unopened package which turned out to be high-level COG materials. In it was the flirty fishing Mo Letter, among other startling finds. We promptly published that news in Cornerstone magazine, as well as distributing it to other Christian ministries involved in reaching out to COG members.

Since then, we published numerous articles on the COG. How many is difficult to estimate, but I suspect it was between 12 and 20 over the years. Cornerstone discontinued publication in 2002 or 2003, but did have an online presence for a while which I was mosty responsible for.

Our critiques of the COG/Family were likely not unusual:

1. Extra-biblical sources of "revelation" (Mo Letters)
2. Anti-scriptural divination and spiritism (Mo's reliance on "Spirit Guides" such as "Abrihim" and others)
3. Anti-biblical, and anti-woman, forms of sexual exploitation (flirty fishing, 'open' marriages)
4. (or maybe 3a) The sexualization of God. (Current 'holy masturbation' is a primary COG practice wherein one 'has sex with the Holy Spirit.') Argh.
5. Lack of accountability to larger Body of Christ
6. Failure on many levels ever to begin being true disciples of Christ, discipleship walking in biblical wisdom and sexual purity, and most of all imitating Christ Himself.
7. The subversion of "agape" into "eros," which destroys both eros and agape. This in contrast to eros being submitted to and governed by agape, which prevents the sort of exploitation and brokenness the COG/Family cultivated.

I note that the X-Family site has two of our later articles archived. See their links:
"The Children Without Their 'Father' (this may answer any questions on my own beliefs re sex...)

"The Family and the Truth" (Interview w/ Jim Chancellor, author of "Life in the Family: an Oral History of the Children of God")
Mark Scheiderer
Reply Fri 14 Sep, 2007 04:26 pm is the above poster's blog. The Sept.6 entry is entitled "Mutuality In Bed" , which would correspond with point 4 of his above post in that he spiritualizes sex. David Berg would have been so proud of him.
Points 5 and 6 are applicable to the JPUSA cult as well.
More info on this cult may be found at .
Eric Pement and Jon Trott are this cult's two public defenders/spin doctors.
Eric, along with his wife, Barbara - their marriage was arranged by the JPUSA leadership - were members for over 25 years. A few years ago Barbara spent two weeks at Wellspring - a cult recovery center where several other ex-JPUSA's have spent time - yet Eric still denies that JPUSA is a cult.
Trott's presence here is simply a feeble attempt at trying to take the spotlight off of the JPUSA cult.
Reply Mon 17 Sep, 2007 07:49 pm
I'm a little befuddled by the previous poster's continuation of his personal crusade, and will mostly pass on responding. For one thing, this is a board about the Children of God, and those who were in that group, and I'm unsure how many of you are overly thrilled with a very long thread on a group with no real relationship to the COG. For another, defending myself or Jesus People USA gets a bit... tiresome. Fer whut it be woith, Christianity Today took a long look at us and did a very positive cover article. We are part of the Evangelical Covenant Church, which has its international headquarters only a few miles away from our house and which has certainly not condoned wrongdoing among our ranks. (They can't afford to do that even if they had no Christian convictions, which I trust they do.) Their URL: . And finally, our Cornerstone Festival has featured very well-known Christian speakers year after year, many of whom have visited us in Chicago and know who we are. If anything, we get into more trouble for being too ecumenical than too "controlling" or fundamentalist. Whatever.

My concern in all of this for is that I hope folks here realize high-commitment intentional community is possible -- providing there are sufficient checks and balances and that leadership in said community is accountable to both those within the community and those outside of it. That doesn't mean any church or community must be accountable to whomever comes to it and says "God told me you are sinning here" or "God gave me a teaching for you that you must allow me to share!" What it does mean is that accountability that is real does exist between that local expression of the Body of Christ and the rest of the Body of Christ.

For me, I mourn the Children of God because of what they might have been if not for Moses David Berg. And I mourn those that with the same youthful ideals I had when I joined Jesus People USA were slowly poisoned by Berg's "unique" take on the Bible.

Regarding sexuality, to my knowledge I am orthodox per Song of Songs and other joyful Proverbial statements about marital (emphasis on MARITAL -- one man, one woman) sexuality. That's the saddest thing about David Berg -- all his jibberjabber about sexuality only caused Eros to be defiled and become a real bore. I mean, even the COG's own doctrine has gotten more and more boring... now they masturbate while praying in order to experience "sex" with the Holy Spirit. It's not only a blasphemy, but a really, really boring blasphemy. Consider the relational richness and erotic power of Song of Songs, then consider Berg's perversity. Evil doesn't make things bigger... it makes them smaller.

Anyway, I suppose a sex thread regarding orthodox Christian beliefs vs. the Children of God / Family of Love / Family must exist somewhere on this site. I'll hunt for it one of these days. God bless all of you wherever your journey is taking you... I hope it is closer to a robust, healthy faith in a Jesus Christ who is both pure and loving, humble (according to Philippians 2) and gentle, and in almost every way unlike Berg. Christians from Dorothy Day to C. S. Lewis to Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen bear witness of that fact.

Mark Scheiderer
Reply Tue 18 Sep, 2007 05:16 pm
JPUSA's in house spin doctor, Jon Trott
Let me repeat: The above poster, Jon Trott, is - along with Eric Pement - a spin and damage control puppet for JPUSA. He trolls the internet in search of negative - i.e. "TRUTHful" - mentions of JPUSA, and attempts to defend this cult which he has been a part of for over 30 years.
He does NOT address issues and will instead resort to ad hominem attacks on those who speak out against JPUSA.
JPUSA has hid behind the support of cult apologists like Anson Shupe, attempted to redefine the definition of the word "cult" so that the accepted interpretation of the word does not apply to them, and cozied up to some half-wit/liberal denomination in an effort to appear legitimate.
IT ISN'T WORKING. has links to info on JPUSA from cult experts Rick Ross and Ron Enroth, whose two books "Churches That Abuse" and "Recovering From Churches That Abuse" - which mentions JPUSA extensively - are referred to.

One other thing to repeat: Trott has not said ONE thing about the sexual molestation that has gone on at JPUSA, which is what the anonymous, former JPUSA poster made reference to, and which has been talked about by many ex-JPUSA's.

Mark Scheiderer
Reply Sun 23 Sep, 2007 06:41 pm

Easy, buddy! You're not only really shrill, but you're sounding awfully repetitious, basically cutting and pasting the same boilerplate paragraph both here on xFamily (multiple times) and elsewhere on the web. There have been no sexual accusations I'm aware of against any JPUSA leaders, and no accusations they've ever taught (publically or in secret) anything but the Scriptural view of marriage shared by almost all Christians. Again, the denomination we're part of (Evangelical Covenant Church) would be running, not walking, away from us if they detected any such tendencies in our faith or practice. So would the dozens of well-known speakers and scholars who come to our annual Cornerstone Festival. So would the various magazines within evangelicalism (and outside of it) discuss such issues if they were in fact there.

Yes, I like sex. Don't you? Sigh... The Song of Songs does. Moses David Berg's version of sex, however, is not a biblical one on any number of levels. Starting with one wife, one husband, and complete fidelity sexually between the partners... oops. Just one of Berg's big problems. By the way, just because Berg "spiritualizes sex" in a completely unbiblical way does not negate the fact that the Bible itself "spiritualizes sex" in a deeply beautiful, relational way. Prof. James Chancellor does a really good job on some of the differences between Berg and the Bible on this topic.

For you to accuse me -- without foundation of any kind -- of sharing Berg's views on sexuality is grotesque as well as false. You do not know me, have not read me (or cannot understand what you have read?), and do not know much about Berg, either, to make such bizarre comments. I would frankly caution you against, in your zeal, misrepresenting those with whom you disagree.

Finally, why not admit you placed that web page there you keep referring people to? Sheesh.

Peace. Out.
Thorwald 1
Reply Sun 23 Sep, 2007 07:26 pm
Mark and Jon,

Your debate is way off the topic of this website. We welcome topics of any kind, however, when argumentum ad hominem (here, tu quoque) spills over into completely unrelated cult subjects, it might be time to change the subject.

slacker75 wrote:
Starting with one wife, one husband, and complete fidelity sexually between the partners.

The bible (mainly the Old Testament) is filled with examples of "holy" men having many wives (take your beloved author of the Song of Solomon, for an example). I am not even sure the New Testament is as adamant about "one wife" as you seem to suggest.

PS (unrelated to the subject at hand): My favourite new law, Godwin's Law: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one".
Mark Scheiderer
Reply Mon 24 Sep, 2007 05:37 pm
Misquoted by Trott

I will no longer dialogue on this thread. EVERYTHING Mr. Trott claims that I said, I did NOT say. A careful rereading of what I posted and what he claims I posted will prove this.
My only reason for posting here is to provide reliable info on the cult he is a part of: JPUSA.

Mark Scheiderer
Reply Fri 28 Sep, 2007 10:14 pm

Thanks for joining the, uh, conversation. And yes, I also love the bit about Hitler or Nazis, but the way I heard that quote was more like:

"Sooner or later, in any heated argument, it is inevitable that one side begins comparing the other side to Nazis."

Nah, actually it was better than that, but escapes me. (Hey, it's late. Plus I'm watching the post-game CUBS CLINCH celebration...)

The COG/Family was the very first group of "Jesus People" I ever met. 1969 or more likely 1970, I was 11 or 12, the place was Spokane (or Seattle, this is foggy). A longhair handed my dad a wild-looking "underground" newspaper, and wangled a contribution from the ol' man. I ended up with the paper, "The New Improved TRUTH." The paper was the revamped "Truth" published by the post-COG takeover of Linda Meissner's "Jesus Army." Most of it was actually pretty orthodox, but also charmingly hippie, and I loved it. Still have it somewhere.

Later on, like a year or so later, the COG were featured positively on a CBS (I think) TV Special. I mean, I wanted to go join right then! My love for intentional community was sparked by that show, though I quickly was made aware of the COG's dark side when that same network did a follow-up which which took back basically everything the first show had offered as lovely.

In the midst of finding my own cynicism about religious matters, I found this development par for the course. But that was not the end of the story. I did make my way back to a faith in Jesus, and even (after a stint at a Christian college which I aborted by moving to Chicago) I joined a group of Jesus People. I found myself writing full-time for a crazy-looking newspaper not much different in appearance (but a bit more intellectually focused) than that old "Truth" newspaper of mine.

Ever since that day, I have tracked the COG/Family. I wrote about them, thought about them, felt sad to an extreme thinking about how many people who'd joined the COG experienced the dissolution of that dream I'd felt touch me via the CBS special.

But I digress.

Thorwald, you mentioned my comment about one man, one woman. And I agree with you that the Old Testament and New Testament contain more ambiguity, at least on the surface, than we 21st Century American Christians like to admit. I really like Paul, and his pragmatic way of dealing with the issue of polygamy. Many theologians suggest that with his requirement that elders / deacons have only one wife he was both making space for those who, pre-christian, had married multiple wives, and also setting the stage for the fairly rapid paring out of polygamy from the Church. It was a very human, gentle way to raise the moral bar without simply requiring husbands send away their "extra" wives (thus dooming them to poverty, starvation, prostitution, or death).

That doesn't deal with the OT verses and oddnesses (like the Onan story, for one!). But in such matters, I'd point back to Genesis where one man one woman seems fairly clearly to be made the ideal model. I'd also argue that polygamy, like other potentially opressive toward women institutions, is rooted not in creation order but rather in the brokenness of relationship caused by the fall.

Very quickly typed, and therefore likely I've garbled something. Consider it glossolalia :wink: .
Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2008 12:39 am
Re: JPusa
Come to cornerstone festival!
Mark Scheiderer
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 06:14 pm
Re: JPusa
Forget Cornerstone!

Go to !!!
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 02:48 pm
JPUSA a cult like the COG/Family?
Mark Scheiderer
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 06:16 pm
Re: JPusa

Cults are protean, i.e. changeable, malleable, chameleon(sp?)-like. Cults share MANY similar characteristics, but also have their own individual traits. One of Jpusa's best defense mechanisms over the past 30 plus years is to have a (now former) member, Eric Pement, defend them. Eric is an expert on cults who refuses to swallow his own pride and admit that he got duped by a cult. He's even the vice president of the pathetically irrelevent counter-cult umbrella organization Evangelical Ministries to New Religions. His presence there insures that Jpusa will not be scrutinized. Of course, he can't explain away the fact that his own wife, Barbara, spent 2 weeks at Wellspring, a cult recovery center a few years ago.

I'm currently in contact with some ex-Jpusa's and they tell me that things may have changed outwardly, but that Jpusa still damages people, families, marriages.

Go to http://www.uptownupdate and type in "JPUSA" in the sites internal search engine and see what Jpusa's neighbors have to say about them. Be sure to click on the link to the Chicago Public Radio piece on Jpusa a few months ago.

Have you read the info on the links at this site: ? It includes info by ex-Jpusa's, counter-cult experts and the Chicago Tribune.

Reply Thu 18 Mar, 2010 11:26 am
Re: JPusa
Mark, I just wanted to thank you for your persistence in standing up to Trott and the JPUSA propaganda here. I had family members who lived at JPUSA and experienced many of the abuses you've talked about. Keep shining light on the darkness!

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