To The Church Without a Name, The Truth, Two By Twos
From: The Rocky Mountain News
400 West Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80204
July 12, 1967 - Page 5
MINISTER ASKS FOR DEFERMENT
(Worker: Dominic A. Enrietta)
A 22-year old Denver man asked U.S. District Court Tuesday to rule that Selective Service officials have unjustly refused his claim for draft deferment as a minister.
Dominic A. Enrietta, of 1551 5. Sherman Street, also asked the court to void or suspend a notice ordering him to report for induction next Monday, and to prohibit federal authorities from filing criminal charges against him if he refused to report.
Enrietta's complaint also seeks unspecified dollar damages and asks the court to order his local draft board in Trinidad to reevaluate his claim for IV-D (ministerial) Classification.
Enrietta contends he is a full-time minister of the Christian Conventions faith. His court complaint states the religion "builds no churches but has a far-flung membership which meets in small groups in homes and its ministers travel from group to group."
Letters signed by several members of the faith state its ministers have no formal theological training and receive no salary, but are selected by leaders of the sect and then train with an experienced minister of the faith.
Enrietta's claim for IV-D classification was rejected by local and
state draft boards and by the National Selective Service Appeal Board on
December 21, 1966. The National Board upheld the I-A-O classification given
Enrietta by his local board. Persons so classified may be drafted but are
assigned to non-combatant duties.
From: The Denver Post
July 15, 1967
By Dick Prouty
LAWSUIT PUTS SECT IN SHUNNED LIMELIGHT
The filing of a federal court lawsuit has cast light upon a little known religious group that is the antithesis of the highly organized, affluent Christian church, Protestant or Catholic.
Even then its members shunned the public eye because they aver it is Christ's teaching, not their activities that should receive attention.
The sect is Christian Conventions. It reportedly has some 2,000 members in Colorado. It owns no property and has no churches. There are no records, not even of membership. Men and women are ordained to the ministry--a full-time, non-salaried vocation termed "the highest and best calling on the face of the earth."
No Doctrine or Literature
Christian Conventions has no rules, doctrine or literature. There is no organizational structure, even remotely comparable to the hierarchy of better known religious groups. The sect follows and teaches the Christianity attributable to Christ himself in the Bible and New Testament, its only texts. The following is almost literal.
“About the only thing we have is Christ,” a Christian Conventions minister from Wheat Ridge said. He asked not to be identified, explaining frankly he has no desire for personal publicity.
The minister, who said members of his family had been in Christian Conventions since 1904, was attending a U.S. District Court hearing at which a brother minister, Dominic A. Enrietta, 22, sought to avoid induction into the Army because he believes he is entitled to a ministerial deferment.
Request Was Refused
For legal reasons the request was refused. Monday the Trinidad, Colorado high school graduate (1963) and full-time Christian Conventions minister Is to be processed for induction at the New Customs House, Denver.
The lawsuit claims the church and Enrietta are deprived of freedom of religion (guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) because he's been denied ministerial classification by the Trinidad draft board.
Records filed with the court show Christian Conventions has members In 50 states and was recognized as a religious group by the Selective Service System in 1946. SSS no longer recognizes exemption groups by name. The records also show Nebraska draft officials have granted Christian Conventions ministers deferments.
Enrietta, a member of the sect since 1962, presents an intelligent, personable appearance. He's a clean-cut young man with a quick, sharp sense of humor that belays any suspicions of puritanistic doctrines. He's not a conscientious objector.
No Formalized Education
Enrietta has no formalized divinity education. He was ordained in September 1964, in a "laying on of hands" (as described in the New Testament) by three Christian Conventions elders who ordained him as they believe Christ selected his disciples. Earlier Enrietta had experienced "an inner call" to serve God. He'd been examined and found ready.
For nearly three years Enrietta and a senior minister have traveled about Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Great Plains area teaching and living Christ's example. Like other ministers of his sect, male or female, Enrietta has no home, car or personal possessions. He is dependent entirely upon his fellow man for food, clothing, shelter. He Is single, but may marry if he wishes because the sect has no doctrine upon it.
An overseer explained that Christ's teachings are Christian Conventions beliefs and practices. There are ministers, some of whom are overseers, and lay members. There are no clerical privileges of rank. Ban of alcohol, tobacco, playing cards or use of the rituals or taboos of other religious groups have no weight with Christian Conventions members.
"It's a matter of personal choice," the elder explained. "We believe In everything conducive to clean minds and healthy bodies...our law is in the New Testament. Read that and you'll know what we are," he said.
While the church owns no property, its members, who greet each day as the Lord’s on their knees in prayerful thanksgiving and dedication, own property and function in their communities as law abiding citizens, the minister said during a brief court recess.
Gather in Small Groups
The members gather in small groups in homes to pray, meditate and read the Gospel. Each Sunday there is a breaking of bread together, as related in the Scripture. "We're not a business," the silver-haired minister said, "We're interested in souls, not property. For us, Christianity is a seven day a week way of life, not just a Sunday morning demonstration. We're workers for the Lord's word," he said. This was expressed with simple conviction rather than pride. There appeared no castigation by inference in the remark.
"We believe Christianity should make men and women loyal citizens and that we should defend our country and the government which gives us the freedom we appreciate and enjoy," the minister said. This was an expression of common sense, not theology, he noted.
Christian Conventions takes no stand on racial discrimination or the war in Vietnam or other contemporary issues, although it does tend to encourage its military members to seek noncombatant duty.
The ministers are untitled. The word "reverend" is, their eyes, reserved for God alone. The members and ministers wear no special clothing or identifying insignia. The church keeps no records, it was explained because records of who is and who isn’t a Christian are kept only in heaven.
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