Friday, July 1, 2022

Darryl Henson's Communal City "Congregation of God - A Free Church" In the Arizona Strip Implodes


Sometime around 2000/2001, Darryl Henson, a former Church of God minister had a nightmarish vision to start a community of Sabbatarian believers close to Zion National Park. He ended up buying land in the Arizona Strip, just down the road from Warren Jeffs, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints communities of Colorado City and Hillsdale, AZ. The Arizona strip has been home to several cults that have made it their home base due to the isolation of the area far away from the bureaucratic eyes of government officials in Phoenix and out of reach from Salt Lake authorities.

Henson had a vision where Sabbatarians would dwell together in unity as they prepared for the end times. 

No one will need to stretch their imagination too much to know that this would never have worked, especially given the fact that by the year 2000 the Sabbatarians of the Worldwide Church of God movement had already splintered into hundreds and hundreds of splinter groups. Unity has never been the truth that the Church of God believed in or shared as we see evident 22 years later in 2022.

The Journal: News of the Churches of God had this about his commune when he started it:

A Congregation of God’s pastor buys and leases land
April 30, 2003

Darryl Henson of Kanab, Utah, pastor of A Congregation of God: A Free Church, has bought land in nearby Mohave County, Ariz., and offered to lease it to his parishioners. Mr. Henson divided the 110- acre (45-hectare, or 450,000-square- meter) tract into 96 lots and has offered to long-term-lease some of them to members of the group.

(As reported in THE JOURNAL of Dec. 31, 2002, relatives of some members of A Congregation of God said they were upset with Mr. Henson when many of them made the move from other areas of the country to Utah as a preparation for Jesus’ second coming.)

A letter Mr. Henson wrote to supporters dated Jan. 10, 2003, described the progress in the construction of a church building on the property. He reported that he expected to develop 38 of the 96 lots, and already “34 have been spoken for.”

Included with Mr. Henson’s letter was a plat and a tentative lease agreement. The plat shows a church hall on one lot, with a ball field on one side of the meeting hall and a “shop” on the other side. The lots are approximately one acre (40,000 square meters) each.

To lease a lot with a residence on it costs each church family $4,500 upfront, plus monthly payments of $75. The leases are for 49 years each because, Mr. Henson said, “that equated to the Old Testament instruction concerning jubilee.”

A lot without a dwelling commands a lower up-front cost: $2,500.

“For those who are able, we appreciate the up-front money,” said Mr. Henson, because “it is being utilized to develop the land as it arrives. For those unable to pay upfront, a payment schedule fitting your budget can be arranged.”

Mr. Henson said the brethren “cast lots” to decide who receives which land parcels. Lot allocation is “by a lottery system.”

Mr. Henson, referring to his wife, said that “Marla and I purchased the land in our names, hence we are included in the beginning of the lease as owners.

“We plan to transfer official title to A Congregation of God: A Free Church once the allocation of lots is done and we are established on the land.”

The property is about 35 miles south and west of Kanab, Mr. Henson told THE JOURNALjust across the border in Arizona. The church building is “between 50 and 60 percent complete.”

“Optimistically,” he said, “we are hoping to have our first service there on Pentecost [in June], but it may be July or August.”

Materials for the metal buildings for the 50-by-110-foot meeting hall and a “mechanical and wood-working shop” of about the same size arrive at the site and are assembled by volunteer church members.”

As more and more people came to join the little group and purchase land, many of them started realizing that Henson was giving them the shaft. By 2016 there were major issues in the group. 

Henson wrote:

I made the decision to buy the land for God's express purpose of preparing a place as He had instructed in the dream. We are a Free Church, not a worldly 501c3 corporation, which is overseen by corporate law and the state, even to the point of closing some churches who teach against abortion or homosexuality, etc. The State has no jurisdiction over a Free Church. So we have no board of directors and board of deacons who hire and fire ministers. I was commissioned directly of God to prepare a place near Zion. As the one given the direction, He also placed me in charge of the operation and I formed A Congregation of God, A Free Church to fulfill His purposes on the piece of land He provided. 

It is amazing how many men God has placed in positions in the splinterdom. Each and every one of them claimed their god had appointed them and placed them in positions of authority.

I was deeply committed to preserve it in a way that outsiders could not buy lots and move in on us. The Fair Housing Act has a clause that states churches can discriminate in this manner. Additionally, I determined that it should not be sold as it was a gift from God for His purposes. The church and the land were inextricably bound together to accomplish what God instructed me to do. 
On the day of closing the purchase, Dec. 7, 2002, I wrote a letter to all members in Utah and around the country offering anyone who desired, a lease on one acre each if they wished to move out and join the project. The letter mentioned a lease several times, not once hinting at a purchase option, which I had not intention at all of offering so as to prevent future sales of lots to non-members. I prepared a lease that was specifically designed with that in mind. The lease was for 49 years with the intent of giving security, but also preserving the land intact for God's use. No offer of eventual ownership was made as people understood why it should be that way. 
None of use expected (expect) this age to continue that long in any case. 

As you will see below we have another crackpot who thinks god spoke to them in a dream. Apparently, Henson and Thiel use the same god to deliver their nightmares. 

Henson claims he has the right of apostolic succession to form his group, something Bob Thiel does not have and will never have. Poor Bob, always a dollar short and a day late to everything.

Anyway, on with the show...

Immanuel the Christ personally directed me via dream, vision and scriptural instruction to find a place for Him to use. He led and directed me to form A Congregation of God, A Free Church as a continuing part of the original church He founded while on earth with the apostles as its directors. I was duly ordained into His ministry by Herbert Armstrong in apostolic succession. Therefore as founder under Christ, pastor and signatory from its beginning, I declare that the original intent for purchasing this piece of land in Cane Beds, AZ to prepare for the gathering of Christ's remnant was to keep it sacrosanct from the infringement of the world at large, reserved for God's own remnant. 
The original intent of the lease I wrote was to prevent subdivision and sale of any portion of the land. Those present in the church at the time, read, accepted and signed the lease, most of them in late January 2003. Others signed and accepted later. All have lived under the lease, most have complied with its financial stipulations and accepted it as their security for a 49 year period, short of their violating its terms. 
Some, in recent months, have lost confidence in me as pastor of ACOG and left its fellowship, not attending and withdrawing any verifiable financial support of the church, such as tithes, other than the lease stipulations. Now, after adhering to the lease all these years, they suddenly “remember” that they were promised ownership at the beginning. Most of those protesting for ownership were not even here at the beginning. How would they know what was originally promised? They also read, accepted, signed and lived by the lease, but now are lobbying for ownership and subdivision which was never offered and appears on no documents in any form. 
I do not wish to air our dirty laundry in public beyond this, but feel a statement which will be posted on our website, is now necessary to establish original intent, as evidenced by letter and lease documents, that this hierarchical church, governed solely by God through His ordained ministry and not “majority opinion” intends to preserve the land purchased for God's purposes to be retained for those purposes. A subdivision with potential sale of land, has never been a part of those purposes. The church and its purpose cannot be separated from the land and its purpose. They are one and the same. Of course, since the land is in the name of the church, some are trying to take over the church to obtain the land. 
There is no example in the bible, anywhere, of the nation of Israel or the New Testament church having a matter resolved by a majority vote of its members. All decisions have always been made by the patriarch in charge or the ministry in terms of the New Testament, first apostles, then prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. 
Paul states clearly in the book of Hebrews that the members were to OBEY them that had rulership/oversight/governance over them. The ministry. 
The history of ACOG is not finished so I will stop here. But be warned that any who seek to take over God's land and His church may be found to be fighting against God Himself as indicated in Jer. 11 concerning a rebellion at Anatoth. I am truly frightened for any who might dare go there. This is not about Darryl Henson, a human and a sinner. It is about Almighty God in heaven and The Lord of Hosts and their purpose for this land. Darryl Henson's Sabbatarian Community In Arizona Strip Is Having Huge Issues

The love of the brethren is such a wonderful thing to see, particularly in the Church of God! Imagine that, COG members who REFUSED to OBEY those in rulership and governance over them!  What a novel concept! It has never happened before in the history of the church, has it?

The turmoil in Henson's church reached such a fervor that Mojave County officials had to step in and started interviewing people who had bought land leases from Henson. This sent Henson into a fit. He soon after shut down the official website for his church and started a new one detailing the extreme harassment he believed he was receiving from County officials and many of his followers.

Henson writes:

Christine Ballard and Jenny Nelson from Mohave County Planning and Zoning met with mere renters of my property to discuss ownership issues of zoning without the owner of the property present. Does anyone know of other instances where P&Z discussed ownership issues with renters??? Please contact me if you know of other issues where P&Z has violated ownership/renter rights, civil rights or any other unethical or criminal activities. Christine will likely say she did not know who the signatory was, but she did. I have corresponded with her for over 10 years about compliance issues and she never had trouble knowing with whom to correspond. P&Z even sued me over compliance issues and she had no trouble knowing who to sue as the owner. 
There have been many instances in recent years of courts ruling in the favor of disgruntled members of hierarchical ( top down authority) and even congregational (bottom up authority) churches resulting IN BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CHURCH PROPERTY BEING TURNED OVER TO EX-MEMBERS. 
In this case, people who rented land in a church-owned trailer park staged a rent strike that resulted in over $45,000 being extorted from the church and the theft by extortion of 41.35 acres of land from the church. These renters HAD NO LEGAL CLAIM TO OWNERSHIP WHATSOEVER—no purchase contract, no purchase option, ZERO documentation to represent an ownership claim. Yet they used six of the nine elements of extortion to achieve ownership. (Only one element is required for conviction of felony extortion). 
This they did by illegally withholding rent, which was legal property of the landlord A.R.S. 13-1804(A)(5), by intimidation and threats A.R.S. 13-1804(A)(4), false accusations A.R.S. 13-1804(A)(5), accusing me of killing my wife and burying her in the backyard A.R.S. 13-1804(A)(5), reporting numerous points of gossip to the Sheriff Dept. and my neighbors A.R.S. 13-1804(6), the illegal use of public officials from Planning and Zoning A.R.S. 13-1804(7) and with their Settlement Agreement they obtained a Tenants in Common which was not freely given due to the fact it destroyed the Fair Housing Exemption for the Church’s mobile home park,A.R.S. 13-1804(A)(8).

It all adds up to classic blackmail!

What really added fuel to Henson's fire was this:

It is called the “neutral principles of law” and sounds harmless at first glance. BUT ITS PURPOSE IS NOT NEUTRAL!

It is more like NEUTERING, CASTRATING, MAKING POWERLESS AND DESTROYING CHURCHES IN ITS EFFECT! It gives the world-wide and national fight to destroy any form of Christianity new legs! 
WHY? Because it violates the First Amendment. Government cannot make any laws affecting a church!

Things just keep getting worse for Henson:

Yet Judge Conn of the the Mohave County Superior Court, accepted an action with its stated purpose of claiming it was an “association” in order to allow ex-members and others to have the court make them members of the church, give them its assets and then dissolve the church! Was the court going to baptize them by immersion or sprinkling, pray tell??? The court was being asked to interfere in the government of the church, change its doctrines and then totally destroy—dissolve—it! EVERY PART OF THIS COMPLAINT VIOLATED THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF FREE CHURCHES AS CLEARLY MANDATED BY THE U.S. CONSTITUTION. 
Now I am back in court, representing myself, as a way to resolve the injustice forced upon A Congregation of God a Free Church.

Three of Henson's followers took their case to the Mojave County officials: 

This pushed Henson's buttons further:

At this link is a YouTube video where 3 ex-members of the Church convinced the Mohave County Planning & Zoning officials that they didn’t approve of the Church’s mobile home park zoning. Amazingly, they succeeded in halting the zoning approval for rental spaces in a Church owned mobile home park. What they did was pretend (commit fraud?) that the Church was congregational and the members needed to approve the zoning application.

And, Gordon Gueller takes issue with paying tax on the entire 110 acre parcel but at the time all residents had access to the entire parcel for four-wheeling, shop building, church building, picnic area, nature walks, etc. When a church member quits or is disfellowshipped, their access to the Church building stops.
Truth of the matter is that the Church was and is hierarchical and the pastor made the final decisions. When one knows two very simple facts, the whole situation takes on a new meaning.

BTW, rent on a one acre dwelling space was $100/month. Additional acres for raising goats, sheep, chickens, etc were $25/month per acre. Apportioned property tax on the 110 acres was about $60/month for most households. But the renters wanted more, much more. They thought they owned the place!

Henson had to settle with his renters which has infuriated him to no end:

How Rental Leases Became Ownership Deeds Beginning with a Rent Strike

A Congregation of God moved our headquarters from Colorado to a low population area near the Southern Utah/Northern Arizona border in 2001 to buy land and provide a place for like-minded people to gather and live together in godly harmony in order that “iron might sharpen iron” and enhance our spiritual development. 
Unfortunately, the works of the flesh fight against the fruit of the Spirit and we had a rebellion that was generated via false accusations against the pastor, a rent strike and a lawsuit that asked the court to make ex-members and never-ever members (which were adult family members of ex-members), actual members of the church! And then to turn the land and other assets of the church over to them and dissolve the church!

That action was settled out of court via a Tenants-In-Common agreement that gave each of the rebels an ownership share in the residential area of the property. Yet they persist in extortion efforts obviously aimed at a complete take-over of church assets and removal of the the pastor from the church’s land. 
The pastor and the still-faithful membership have filed a lawsuit asking that the rebels be indicted for theft by extortion of 42 acres they obtained by a rent-strike, intimidation, false accusations, attempted bribery, blackmail, lying and fraud–all felonies under the official definition of extortion in Arizona statutes. 
Helping “Prepare the Bride” for Christ’s return is our first and overall quest. He is ready for the marriage, we are not. We need to do all we can to give our hearts entirely to Him and be as much like Him as we can be by the time we die or He returns. He wants a bride totally committed—heart, mind, body and soul to Him and His purposes. 

The Church of God movement has NEVER at any point in its history ever tried to "prepare the Bride" for Christ's return. Most of them deny the very "husband" they claim to be "marrying". What we have seen is hundreds and hundreds of splinter group leaders with their own agendas lying and deceiving brethren to follow them. There is no unity at all in ANY of the Churches of God and there never will be! 

We are entreated to think as He thinks (let this mind be in you…), walk as He walks, to live by every word of God. The reason we, (World-wide Church of God a.k.a. WCG), were all spewed out was lack of heart—lukewarmness. The zeal and “doing everything with our might” was missing. It was not primarily doctrine, apart from the Tkach debacle, but an attitude that put us where we are today—scattered, confused, frustrated. Or on the other hand, blissfully unaware that anything is wrong “in our group.” 
It is the aim of A Congregation of God to look first at ourselves and fix our own attitudes and conduct. If we can be a light to others, well and good. If by sermons we post, we can help others along their spiritual road to the Kingdom of God, so much the better. 

The following mantra is tired and worn out and frankly boring as hell in 2022. We have heard this malarkey for decades. None of them are doing any "end-time work" or preaching a gospel message. 

Under WCG, many were called, and now a few are being selected to finish the end-time work of God and round out the 144,000 selected as the bride. Herbert Armstrong fulfilled Mat. 28:19-20—calling many disciples. 
The two witnesses and the remnant soon to be gathered (read Haggai and Zech 1-4, Rev. 11) will fulfill Mat. 24:14. That is, preach the gospel around the world and then the end shall come. The end will come 3 ½ days after the two witnesses are killed in the streets of Jerusalem at the end of the 1260 day great tribulation. 

This record has been skipping in place in the COG for decades. No COG member should ever look to a minister or church leader as preparing them.  

Even the two final witnesses are told not to go to the world at first, but to the church. Compare Rev. 11:1-2 and Zech. 4. God’s concern NOW is for all of us to repent of Laodiceanism. Herbert Armstrong told the ministry just before his death that “my job is finished (preaching to the world), now get the church ready.” Once the church is prepared, power will be given to go to the world (Rev. 11:3-4) 
We had a peaceful community for years until human nature reared its ugly head. Now our quest is to restore peace and “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Immanuel)” Phil 3:14. Again, the prize of the first-fruits is to be the bride of Christ and we must fight past any distractions in preparation for that high calling.

This is a pipe dream that will never happen in the Church of God. If they cannot get along now how in the world can we expect them to get along if they end up in Petra together? The infighting and constant bitch fests will be endless. Imagine Bob Thiel, Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry, and Gerald Weston all converging on Petra at the same time and the giant pissing contest that would go on as to who would be in charge! Which leader would get to have their HQ in the Marriott or other luxury hotel in the area as their sheeple languish in dirty caves and staggering heat?

What a nightmare!



Anonymous said...

First of all, I find it hilarious that an ACOG actually has "ACOG" as its acronym!

Actually, although I disagree with his doctrinal approach, and always want to see all of the AOCGs fail, I really believe that Darryl is getting screwed here. If you're going to go after someone, get 'em clean. These people are going after an old man using dirty, dishonest tactics. It's an attempt at a hostile takeover.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that similar to the same thing that happened to Norm Edwards?

Tonto said...

It must be a "HENSON THING".

Jim Henson liked having the control over puppets , aka "the Muppets", and Daryl Henson wanted to have control over his little fiefdom with "COG Puppets" !

Word to the wise... dont go into business with fellow cult members! Norm Edwards' group had similar problems with some kind of homeless property in Michigan as well.

Anonymous said...

This all could have been avoided if the people put their trust in God and not in so called Ministers!! The fruits speak for themselves!!

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

I remember Darryl Henson from my R/WCG days (1968 -1976). I believe I heard him speak at the Feast of Tabernacles. Having said that and knowing my own age, Henson must be getting very old. I agree with Anonymous Saturday, July 2, 2022 at 12:02:00 AM PDT. He is getting screwed. Perhaps people in his congregation are starting to wonder what happens to them and their situation on the land when Henson passes away - particularly when the people have invested and spent a considerable chunk of their lives in R/WCG and this Splinter off shoot.

Seems to be a common thread among R/WCG and its offshoots starting with what everyone witnessed happening with Herbert Armstrong's death and the subsequent demise of Worldwide and Ambassador College. People in Packland are probably wondering the same thing.


Anonymous said...

The geographic location for the ACOG compound is without a doubt beautiful. However, back in the late '80's when Eddie Money gave Ronnie Spector's career a little bump by having her sing "Be My Little Baby" in the chorus of his latest song, music industry publications interviewed her, asking where she had been the last couple decades, and why she had left Phil Spector, a legend in the music industry and multi-millionaire.

She answered that the beautiful house and trappings that most people were would be willing to die for were all negated by what happened inside that opulent setting. She was totally controlled, and could make no personal choices of her own. It was like a prison. She had to dress as Phil dictated, he did not approve of any of her friends, he decided what they would eat, the kind of music which was played, her hairstyle, etc. I said to myself, "Crap! That sounds like my years at Ambassador College!"

And that would be typical of any examples of Armstrongism which I have ever seen! God loves quality! You must learn to appreciate the finer things in life! So leaders always chose exhilarating surroundings, but what happened inside those surroundings was frequently very ugly. Some became frogs in those circumstances, subverting themselves and adapting, while others found that they could never buy into them, and it was all they could do to get the hell out, often with revenge on their minds.

Armstrongism is like Communism. However many times it has ever been tried, it has failed, mostly because it corrupts its leaders and makes them unChristian, and authoritarian. It impoverishes its members, demanding as much of their blessings as they will give. It controls the thinking of members to the extent that if you want to know any one individual member's opinions on any topic, you can find it out by reading the church's publications. It gives them nothing to look forward to in daily life because everyone is preoccupied with that old Armstrong "hook", the end.

It may be easy to feel badly for an old man whose dreams will never come true, but you also have to consider the plight of his followers who trusted them. Armstrongism does not recognize the right of an individual to change his or her mind, unless that individual is one of the top leaders. Well, maybe not. We'd have to ask Joe Tkach about that.