Before Allie Dart died, she wanted to make sure that the assets of her estate would NOT go to Christian Educational Ministries. Since her death, CEM is contesting her will. As usual, Church of God members are such a loving group of people!
COG News is reporting the following:
The press release announcing the formation of ‘The Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association’ (RLDEA), created by Allie Dart, stated: “Mrs. Dart’s will prohibits the assets of her estate from going directly to Christian Educational Ministries.”
Lawyers appointed by CEM's board (now headed by Larry Watkins) are contesting her will.
Wes White has clarified the RLDEA's position regarding CEM's legal dispute. (Edited statement)
1. I have nothing to do with the estate of Allie Dart. What goes on with Allie's estate is none of my business, and I have no desire to get involved with it.
2. What goes on in CEM is none of my business either, and I have no desire to get involved in CEM's business. I have no ill will toward anyone in CEM, no animosity on my part. There were rumors that I was trying to get this or that done in CEM. Not true.
3. Any legal disputes that are going on right now between Allie's estate and CEM have absolutely nothing to do with me. I am completely uninvolved in the legal difficulties that are taking place right now between CEM and Allie's estate.
If Allie's estate ever gets settled, and if there's some money left over after the lawyers take big chunks out of it, and if some of her money ends up going to RLDEA, as dictated by her will, then at that time it will be my responsibility to help expedite those funds in the way that Allie asked us to. So, until that day comes, if it comes, because lawyers are really good at eating up estates with their legal fees. Until that day comes, I have nothing that I can further report regarding the RLDEA. Further, both sides have asked me not to comment on these matters of Allie's estate, and it is with great pleasure that I comply with that request.
4. Let's be really clear on another point. My commitment to refrain in commenting on these legal matters does not stop me from preaching the doctrines of the Church of God. Further, I will not stop preaching the following two doctrines. I have been preaching these two doctrines for decades, and I am not going to stop now.
The first doctrine is this: the Bible makes it very clear that it's wrong to take your brother to court. Those of you who follow this show remember that I talked about this at length on SOS #34.
The second doctrine is: stay out of the business of judging who is and who isn't a Christian. If someone says he is a Christian, it's not my job to say, oh, he's not a Christian. Only Jesus can make that determination. Many people want to get around the 1st Corinthians 6 prohibition of suing fellow Christians by using this cop out line, saying, this man's not my brother, and so I can sue him. And the way many a person makes this claim is to do it by saying things like, well, he's not in my alphabet soup CoG. I'm in the ABC CoG, and he's in the XYZ CoG, therefore he's not my brother, and I can sue him. Or they say, this guy's not even a Sabbath keeper. That means that he's definitely not my brother, because, if he doesn't even keep the Sabbath, he's not a Christian. Again, I'm not making a declaration that all Sunday keepers are Christians. That's not my call to make. Only Jesus can make that call.
Then to prove how dysfunctional the Church of God is, we find out that CEM is following in the footsteps of the Worldwide Church of God in using sneaky underhanded tactics to thwart fellow brethren.
On Friday evening, October 20th, Wes White talked about the possibility of Christian Educational Ministries suing the Ronald L Dart Evangelistic Association.
He began by recalling when the Church of God International, a breakaway group from the Worldwide Church of God, was formed in 1978, “a couple of these folks went down to the courthouses in Texas and California to reserve the name CGI. This was so they could set up new churches in those two states under that new church name.
And, before they had time to set up the name CGI in the other 48 states, the lawyers over in WCG ran out into those 48 states and reserved the name CGI in those 48 states. Now, did WCG have any desire to use the name CGI in those 48 states? Of course not. Their sneaky act was very clearly a dirty trick done to undermine CGI. That was their only reason. To hurt CGI.
And I’ve got a confession. Back then, I applauded WCG’s action to do this. And I was wrong. Today, I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I thought it was a good thing to undermine what my brothers and sisters were doing when they were setting up CGI back in 1978. I think it was around 1985 or 86 that God softened my hard heart and showed me that this is no way to treat a brother.” ...
“Ron Dart left CGI about 25 years ago and started CEM ... I have been told by church leaders of that time that Ron had a severance agreement with CGI ... there were some people who claimed that Ron violated that ... And they said to these CGI leaders, “You need to sue Ron Dart.” And guess what? The leadership of CGI said – We are not going to sue Ron Dart. And these other people got mad.” ...
“I bring all this up to show you that there are at least some who have taken a Christian point of view when it comes to disputes such as church splits. There are at least some of our brethren who say – We’ve got to be nice to our brothers in the church.
That’s a little bit of history. Let’s talk about the here and now – what’s going on at this moment. A lot of you have been asking me for an update on how things are going in my attempts to reach out to the leadership of CEM so that we at the Ronald L Dart Evangelistic Association can have a harmonious relationship with CEM. Because we want to help them – we want to assist them -- in their efforts to promote Ron’s stuff ...
I met with one of the leaders of CEM on the third day of the Feast. Also present was a minister who’s not a part of CEM. It was just the three of us alone. At a table overlooking the lake.
One of the important points that I hope we got across to these guys was that we in the RLDEA have no desire to remove board members from CEM. I hope I made it very clear that what they do at CEM is none of my business.
Second point of assurance I gave was related to the issue of Ron Dart’s intellectual property rights. I gave them assurances that, as far as I am concerned, Ron’s intellectual property belongs to CEM and not to the RLDEA. We don’t own them and we have no intention of trying to take them from CEM.
Now, there’s a back story to this IP issue. Before Allie went into her last round of surgery, she told me she didn’t believe that CEM should own Ron’s property rights. So she asked me to research this issue with an IP attorney. Not because she wanted to sue anyone. Suing was never an option in her mind. She just wanted to know what all her options were regarding Ron’s IPs.
So I found an IP attorney in Dallas and I talked to him about this. He told me that Allie had two options: Either Allie could accept the status quo that CEM owns Ron’s intellectual properties - or she could sue CEM. He said there was no third option. When I related this to Allie, she was a little disappointed, because she was hoping for some third option where there could be some kind of sharing agreement between her and CEM. Some kind of compromise. But, once she realized she only had two options, she immediately chose to accept the status quo, because she said there was no way she was going to take her brothers to court. Suing these people is NOT something that Ron would want.
Now, let’s get back to the meeting I had with a CEM board member and this other guy. I said to them near the end of this positive and productive meeting – I’d like to clear the air on two final issues.
The first issue is that we at RLDEA attempted to reserve the domain name RLDEA.com, and we were astounded to learn that one of the CEM employees in Whitehouse had already reserved it! Just recently. Like a week or so before we tried to get it. And I told these two guys that I thought this was underhanded, because CEM has no need for the domain name RLDEA.com. I told them that the action of reserving this particular domain name was too reminiscent of when WCG reserved the name of CGI in 48 states only for the purpose of keeping GTA from using it.
So I asked the leader from CEM if he knew that this had happened. “Were you aware of this action taken by one of your paid employees?” Well, he said, he couldn’t remember. He couldn’t even remember whether or not he got an email on this subject. And he couldn’t remember whether or not he had approved it.
So then, I asked him if he would find out if he had been informed of this action and find out if he had approved of it. And I asked if he’d get back to me. Since he couldn’t remember. He said he would get back to me. I’m still waiting.
I then asked this leader in CEM if this action is something that he condones or condemns. And he refused to take a stance on it one way or another.
So then I brought up my second concern. I told these two fellows that I found out just the day before that CEM had hired a lawyer – a litigating lawyer – and that lawyer had attempted to contact the lawyer who represents Allie’s estate. At the moment of this meeting during the Feast, the two lawyers hadn’t made a connection yet, so I had no idea what the litigating lawyer for CEM wanted from Allie’s estate lawyer.
So, in this meeting, I asked a simple and direct question. I asked – Do you have some intention of suing us? And I thought they would say – “Oh no, we would never take a brother to court. We just want to clarify a few points.” That’s what I hoped to hear. But that’s not what they said. And let’s be clear. They did NOT say – “Oh yes. We are indeed going to sue you.” What they said was that a lawsuit against us was a possibility. Have I made that distinction really clear?
The other fellow in the room (a minister in the COGs) said that the CEM board members have what they call ‘fiduciary responsibilities’. He said that, if it’s determined that it’s in the best interests of CEM to sue us, then he said that’s what they should do. They would have to. Well then next, this minister turned the question back at me. He said -- Wouldn’t you do the same thing if you were in their situation? And my response was: No! I said -- No way ...
Brethren, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I left the meeting ... My disappointment stems from the fact that this meeting once again demonstrated to me that too many in the COGs are still dysfunctional and still know either nothing or next to nothing about Christian conflict resolution. And I know that, when I make that statement, some of you out there will get mad at me ...
If you’re gonna get mad, get mad at our collective ignorance of how to treat each other as brothers in the church.
If you’re gonna get mad, get rid of the collective malevolence that exists between brothers in the church.
If you’re gonna get mad, get mad at the collective inability or unwillingness that exists out there on matters of how to deal with each other in a Christian manner.
You want to do something about this? Then temper your disappointment - with prayer. Let’s all go before our heavenly Father and ask him to heal the dysfunctionality that currently exists in the COGs. Take it to God, because the last thing we need is for people to start getting mad and getting wars started. We don’t need that.
And I think it’s important that I relate the following to you. When our brethren in the CG7 movement look at us in the Armstrong COG movement, they’re kind of aghast. They don’t understand why there’s so much acrimony among our people.”
Wes White concluded the broadcast with a study of 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 and other scriptures on resolving disputes.