Groups‎ > ‎

Bible Speaks - Greater Grace World Outreach

News Summaries from ICSA Periodicals

Rev. Carl Stevens, founder of The Bible Speaks, who lost a $6.5 million suit brought by a follower who accused him of mind control, died in Baltimore in June at the age of 78. Following the judgment against him, Stevens left his Lenox, MA-based church — which continues, with 460 branches in 76 countries — and founded Greater Grace World Outreach, which today lists 25 affiliated churches nationwide. [csr 7.3 2008)

Greater Grace World Outreach
The Baltimore-based Greater Grace World Outreach — which claims 55 affiliated churches in the U.S. and hundreds worldwide — is being criticized by numerous former followers and cult observers for alleged mind control, sexual misconduct, child molestation, fraud, extortion, and family schisms. The organization is led by the Rev. Carl Henry Stevens, whose Massachusetts-based Bible Speaks — Greater Grace’s predecessor — was ordered by a court two decades ago to repay a woman whom he had persuaded to donate $5.5 million to his ministry. The head of Watchman Fellowship, a Christian research organizations, says Greater Grace is “a dysfunctional religious group . . . [that] teaches certain doctrines that empower the leadership, which also creates powerless followers. It leads to emotional or spiritual injury for people who question or step outside (the ministry).” [csr 5.3 2006]

Internet Website Focus of Criticism
Former and current members of Baltimore’s Greater Grace World Outreach (GGWO) employ an Internet bulletin board to criticize the leadership of the church, headed by Carl H. Stevens, Jr., whose Bible Speaks organization was found guilty in 1987 of unduly influencing Massachusetts heiress Elizabeth Dovydenas to donate millions to his ministry. Some followers believed his teachings threatened divine retribution for criticizing him or leaving the church. The judge in the Dovydenas case said it “revealed an astonishing saga of clerical deceit, avarice, and subjugation on the part of the church’s founder.”[csr 3.3 2004]

The bulletin board — www.factnet.org/discus/messages/3/3.html — is one of many used to discredit or reform cults and new religious movements, according to Swiss researcher and author Jean-Francois Mayer, who adds that this has made it more difficult for leaders to silence critics or control their images. “The Internet is creating increasing pressure for transparency. Any group getting in trouble won’t be able to escape by just moving physically, and leaders of groups will realize it more and more.”[csr 3.3 2004]

Postings to the site critical of the GGWO say leaders paid off a husband to cover up adultery by a prominent church minister, and that Stevens is addicted to prescription pain-killers. One former member, who left a year-and-a-half ago after more than a quarter-century in the church, said in a posting to the site: “I have been paralyzed in the area of critical thinking when it comes to the church. We had been taught not to question anything, not to think, and to receive everything from the pulpit as from God.” The head of the GGWO mission in Argentina said of the Internet forum: “It’s about people who got their feelings hurt or their toes stepped on in one way or another, and now they are looking for someone to blame it on.” (Frank Langfitt, Baltimore Sun, Internet, 5/15/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Internet Website Focus of Criticism
Former and current members of Baltimore’s Greater Grace World Outreach (GGWO) employ an Internet bulletin board to criticize the leadership of the church, headed by Carl H. Stevens, Jr., whose Bible Speaks organization was found guilty in 1987 of unduly influencing Massachusetts heiress Elizabeth Dovydenas to donate millions to his ministry. Some followers believed his teachings threatened divine retribution for criticizing him or leaving the church. The judge in the Dovydenas case said it “revealed an astonishing saga of clerical deceit, avarice, and subjugation on the part of the church’s founder.”[csr 3.2 2004]

The bulletin board — www.factnet.org/discus/messages/3/3.html — is one of many used to discredit or reform cults and new religious movements, according to Swiss researcher and author Jean-Francois Mayer, who adds that this has made it more difficult for leaders to silence critics or control their images. “The Internet is creating increasing pressure for transparency. Any group getting in trouble won’t be able to escape by just moving physically, and leaders of groups will realize it more and more.”[csr 3.2 2004]

Postings to the site critical of the GGWO say leaders paid off a husband to cover up adultery by a prominent church minister, and that Stevens is addicted to prescription pain-killers. One former member, who left a year-and-a-half ago after more than a quarter-century in the church, said in a posting to the site: “I have been paralyzed in the area of critical thinking when it comes to the church. We had been taught not to question anything, not to think, and to receive everything from the pulpit as from God.” The head of the GGWO mission in Argentina said of the Internet forum: “It’s about people who got their feelings hurt or their toes stepped on in one way or another, and now they are looking for someone to blame it on.” (Frank Langfitt, Baltimore Sun, Internet, 5/15/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Bible Speaks - Greater Grace World Outreach - Supplemental News