Pastor Terry Jones, Creation House, and Maranatha
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 11:35:07 AM EST

According to Amazon, Tuesday was the launch date of Islam is of the Devil, a book published by Creation House and written by the now-notorious Pastor Terry D. Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida. As with Fred Phelps, Jones has a particular obsession with one subject which he has distilled into a slogan, and he uses stunts such as his planned "Burn a Koran Day" to attract media interest. However, while Phelps is confined to the fringes of fundamentalism, Jones is better-connected: Creation House is one of the biggest conservative Christian publishing houses in the USA, and it is an imprint of Strang Communications, which publishes Charisma magazine. In 2005 Stephen Strang, who heads the company, was named by Time as one of the "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America". Further, Jones was involved with the controversial "Maranatha Ministries" in the 1980s, along with a number of figures who are today influential in the neo-Pentecostal "Third Wave".
Before taking up the leadership of the DWOC in 2007, Jones ran the Christliche Gemeinde Köln (Cologne Christian Church, also known as the "Evangelical Christian Church"), which he had founded in 1983. However, he also had long-standing links with DWOC's founder, Donald Northrup. According to a memoir by Northrup's widow Dolores (who has a website here, and whose book is on Google Books), both Northrup and Jones were involved with Maranatha Ministries, which collapsed in 1989 amid allegations of authoritarianism and abuse. Maranatha decided to establish its HQ in Gainesville, and Dolores writes that she and her husband came to the town at Maranatha's request. Jones, meanwhile, was sent to Germany to create a Maranatha branch there. As last year's profile of Jones in the Gainesville Sun shows, accusations of authoritarianism have dogged Jones both in Germany and at the DWOC. According to this report, Dolores (although she is named as "Elsie") left the church in 2009, "over concerns about where the congregation was headed".

Maranatha has featured on Talk to Action previously, in particular in relation to a neo-Pentecostal grouping called Every Nation (e.g. here, as well as blog entries by me here and here). Also involved with Maranatha in the 1980s - and based in Gainesville - was Lee Grady, who is close to Stephen Strang and who edits his Charisma magazine.

But is Creation House now embarrassed by the association with Jones? Mention of the book on the company's website is confined to a small entry in a pdf catalogue, and an associated Creation  House Facebook page has recently deleted several messages from one of Jones' fellow pastors at Dove, Wayne Sapp:

Wayne Sapp Islam is of the Devil, will show you: Why Islam is not a religion of peace, but of violence; How the political history of Islam can demonstrate what will happen in the future if it is allowed to flourish; MOST IMPORTANTLY, what you can do to take a stand for the truth and engage in spiritual battle to reclaim nations from the grips of Islam.

June 18 at 10:51am

Wayne Sapp Dove World Outreach Center, on Monday, July 5th, 2010 will protest the Islamic Center of Gainesville, Florida. For more information contact,

June 16 at 9:17am

Wayne Sapp Creation House is releasing the book Islam is of the Devil, written by Dr. Terry Jones, on July 6!!!!! This book reveals the radical steps that are necessary to erradicate Islam! The book is available on Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, and Barnes & Noble

June 16 at 9:11am

However, Jones and Sapp are not complete monomaniacs on Islam: the DWOC has also found time to organise a "No Homo Mayor" protest against Gainesville's gay mayor, and Jones also rails against Obama, who is unqualified to be president and only got the job because he's black.

(Incidentally, Jones' book also features a foreword by Jack Coe, son a prominent Pentecostal evangelist and faith-healer of the same name who was active in the 1950s.)

Maranatha leaders continue to have influence...

Bob Weiner is an apostle in C. Peter Wagner's International Coalition of Apostles. Weiner Ministries International still has the same address in Gainesville as Maranatha in 1988 (date of Weiner's book "Take Dominon").  Lee Grady was listed as an apostle previously but is no longer on the list (same with Stephen Strang).  For readers who don't know - Rice Broocks, who co-hosted the Maranatha Forerunner television show with Weiner, co-founded Every Nation network with Steve Murrell and Phil Bonasso, claiming not to have continued authoritarian practices.  Broocks also pastored Bethel World Outreach Center and is involved in Christian Zionist activism.

Maranatha's "Forerunner" was continued by Jay Rogers, and is  openly Reconstructionist. The Providence Foundation (McDowell and Beliles) was originally a Maranatha project, according to Weiner's book. Weiner is mentioned as an advisor in a Providence Foundation account, which claims that he provided Boris Yeltsin with some of their media materials.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:15:16 PM EST

Living in G'ville, I first met members of Maranatha Ministries circa 1989, after they decided they'd go earn themselves some brownie points with Jesus by "sidewalk counseling" outside a (now-closed) women's health center which provided abortions.

The local feminists doing escort duty, suddenly overwhelmed by 100+ ranting loonies every Friday evening, put out a call for reinforcements from other progressive organizations. Those of us who answered were mostly long-time activists: civil rights campaigners, anti-war Vietnam veterans, civil-disobedience-experienced environmentalists, union workers, maybe even a few (gasp!) ACORN people. Having faced down cops, feds, company goons, and the like for years, we were in no mood to take any crap from a bunch of Sunday Schoolers out to pick on women in a uniquely vulnerable situation, and saw little reason not to dish it out.

With only a dozen or two of us, operating carefully within the law, and Maranatha initially responding by sending out another hundred or so, it took us a few months to persuade even the hardcore that their little project was Not Going To Be Any Fun Any More. Eventually the last slow learners got the idea, and we didn't see any more Maranathans (though others intermittently picked up where they left off - I ended up doing clinic escort work for 16 years, until health concerns & new volunteers convinced me to take a break).

Anyhow, it wasn't long after they left the clinic's sidewalk with their tails between their legs that rumors started going around that Maranatha was going out of business (they duly collapsed not long after). I doubt we'll ever know how much our spoiling their holy amusement might have had to do with that, but I like to think their embarrassing failure on NW 23rd Ave helped push things along.

Incidentally, in response to requests from the local Muslim community, we are probably not going to confront these turkeys again directly for their Sept 11 stunt. I hope they remember to count that among their blessings.

by Pierce R Butler on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:34:44 PM EST

I should've mentioned above that DoveWorld just lost part of their property tax exemption for operating an online furniture sales operation ("TS and Company") from their church property.

Not covered in the linked article, but attested to by a local person who'd attempted to receive some of DWO's "charity" while homeless: they're also operating a food-&-shelter project receiving federal support, with a major share of the subsidies collected allegedly going to church members not in need, and registered claimants said to be kept on the rolls months after moving on. Anybody here know individuals or agencies who might want to look into such stories?

by Pierce R Butler on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:46:18 PM EST

... there seems to be a lot of this kind of thing going on.  It would be interesting to know how much commerce is going on in this country that is completely unregulated, untaxed, and with no oversight, camouflaged behind churches which don't have to file tax forms.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Thu Aug 19, 2010 at 10:28:39 AM EST

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