A former resident of Gloriavale details his expulsion from the municipality

A former resident of Gloriavale has detailed his expulsion from the west coast township, after challenging the leaders and their reading of the Bible.

John Ready was born into the community in 1978 but said he was kicked out by the shepherd in charge just before Christmas 2017.

“It was a society with a dominant man in power, he is the almighty emperor whom every member obeys and works for.

“Essentially, I challenged the biblical basis for his self-proclaimed authority and that of his shepherds.”

In the labor court, Ready pointed to Gloriavale’s founding document, What We Believe, which members sign and are expected to follow.

One part says that “he must declare that he will submit to, be guided by, and obey the leaders of the Church in all matters concerning his faith and involvement in the practical life and work of this Fellowship. so for both men and women”.

Ready said he had received material from other Christian groups discussing the interpretation of the Bible, which “made sense to me but was contrary to what the shepherds and servants taught.”

READ MORE: Former Gloriavale couple feel cut off from family after leaving

“I have been counseled many times but have not stopped trying to expand my knowledge of Bible teachings and trying to reconcile Bible teachings with religious and pastoral behavior at Gloriavale.

“Around April or May 2017 I was training at a stream 35km from the community with another guy who had mp3 and mp4 files on his computer. At lunchtime he would listen to it. During the first week I ignored but couldn’t help but hear it and remembered how good it was I was so excited about it again I knew I had to keep to myself though. I downloaded a copy and intended to present it to my family at an appropriate time later, no offense to anyone.”

His vehicle was then searched and a Christian pamphlet written by someone outside Gloriavale was found, prompting a meeting with some of the leaders.

“They pointed out that I had already been taken for this and said that I was a bad influence. I would not back down as I was beginning to understand that there was nothing wrong with the brochure and that they didn’t have the right to say I could’ I didn’t.

“I couldn’t begin to explain to this court the pressure and the fear of being in one of these meetings – you would have to be in one to get the idea. The manipulation is very real, they threatened me with their power to take everything that was dear to me, my wife, my children.

The court heard that John Ready felt compelled to give the leader of Gloriavale complete control of his life, forcing him to submit unconditionally to their power. He refused to back down, so Ready was taken to a house in Nelson Creek for eight days to reflect on his life. He said he considered it a punishment.

READ MORE: Former Gloriavale woman says she was humiliated by leadership

After several meetings with the leaders, he hitchhiked back to see his family and tried to persuade his wife to go with him. He said that she agreed with the shepherds and that he was caught in a difficult situation.

“There is absolutely pressure on people in the community to excommunicate the outgoing. I broke up because I had everything to lose, especially my family. So I wrote a letter to the leaders and they told me let back from Nelson Creek,” Ready said. .

Six months later, he was kicked out of Gloriavale, because “they felt that I still disagreed with the level of control management demanded…separating me from my wife and children and told everyone, including my wife and kids, that they had nothing to do with me.”

Ready said he didn’t give up and leaders moved him to another house to be close to his family.

“That day they asked me if I had changed my mind, would I submit. I said no, and they told me that I had to start looking for a job and that they would give me a phone to do it,” Ready said.

Again, Ready was forced to leave, but he was still wearing his Gloriavale uniform “to show that I hadn’t left but had been kicked out”.

He said no to signing the papers to withdraw or resign from the partnership agreement, which forced management to hold a vote excluding him.

“I was told that two men had written their names on the paper but had not signed it.

“At no time was I a volunteer, I always worked expecting to receive food, accommodation for myself and later my wife and family. I had no other source of necessities of the life I could choose,” Ready said.

The court is considering whether six women who worked at Gloriavale are volunteers or employees.

The hearing continues.

Joan D. Boling