The Life & Ministry of William Irvine
1995 to 2011
Propp's Purging - The Ex-communications
in Alberta, Canada
Revised September 29, 2012
Table of Contents:
- 1996: Discovery of the Incorporation of the 2x2 Church in Alberta, Canada
- Details that Disturbed the Friends
- May, 1997 - Impromptu Meeting with the Workers at Carlos Propp's Home
- Dorey-Steingard Child Custody Case 1997 - 1999
- Overseers & Workers Meetings 1997 - 1999
- May, 1999 - The First Ex-communications - Sequence of Events
- Purging Precedents – Alberta wasn't the first…
- Other Related Materials
1995 - to 2011
Propp's Purging - The Ex-communications
in Alberta, Canada
In August of 1996, a remarkable discovery was made. A Document was found registered with the Government of Alberta. That Document was Certificate of Incorporation No. 50654949 which was granted to the “Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies” on May 5, 1995.
This Document incorporated the 2x2 church in Alberta, Canada. Full responsibility for this registration was taken by Willis Propp, the 2x2 Overseer of the Province of Alberta, Canada. When this Document was discovered, many of the Workers and Friends around the world were amazed, shocked and disturbed.
For the sake of brevity in this Account, this particular Certificate of Incorporation will be referred to as "The Document."
Click Here to view The Document on another website.
Following is a summary of the events that led to the discovery of The Document. A Canadian professing woman passed away in March,1996, and left some money in her Will to "the ministers of my church.” An estate lawyer contacted Dale Shultz, Overseer of Saskatchewan and Willis Propp, Overseer of Alberta, and both Willis and Dale wrote letters to the estate lawyer declining the money. Both letters were written on Christian Convention letterhead, which is sometimes used by 2x2 Overseers for official business for their church.
The Name typed above Willis Propp’s signature on his letter to the estate lawyer dated July 3, 1996 was: "ALBERTA SOCIETY OF CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLIES." View Letter.
Just how long The Name and incorporation would have gone undetected is anyone's guess, had it not been for Willis Propp including The Name on his letter.
These two letters came to the attention of a Canadian man named John Mitchell, who made his decision to become a 2x2 when he was an adult. He noticed in particular “The Name” of the church on Willis’ letter. Workers had specifically told John before he professed that their church had no name. Being familiar with the paperwork required to be a registered "Society" in the Province of Alberta, John Mitchell decided to order copies of The Document's registration papers which are public record. He was stunned when he received the copies. The Document was signed by five Canadian brother Workers: Jim Knipe, Dennis Einboden, F. Willis Propp, Richard Knight and Eldon W. Kendrew.
1996, Fall : The first major public appearance of the Document was in The Forward Press, a quarterly newsletter published by an ex-2x2, with about 300 subscribers worldwide. The Fall,1996 issue contained copies of the letters by Willis Propp and Dale Shultz, and also a copy of the Alberta Certificate of Incorporation. Later, the "Summer 1997" Letter was mailed to approximately 3,000 Friends and some pages of The Document of incorporation were included with it. Also, some from within the 2x2 church sent out a large mailing of The Document in late 1996 to many of the friends and also to most all the homes where meetings were held in Alberta. The Document was later placed on the internet by Research & Information Services (aka R.I.S.) and it remains there to this day. VIEW: Incorporation Document.
The reactions of the Friends and Workers varied considerably. Many were initially shocked or incredulous. Some doubted the authenticity of The Document. Others felt that IF it was authentic, Alberta was no longer “one of us,” or “had fallen in the ditch.” Some wondered if the signers actually realized what they had signed, etc.
Most everyone asked WHY? Why did Willis Propp incorporate the 2x2 church in Alberta? What was his reason for doing so? It was obvious that the Workers did not intend to carry out the by-laws. Could there be a reason good enough to officially take The Name and organize the church in Alberta? Especially when doing so goes against the "fundamental truths" of their church? Why was it OK to incorporate in 1995, and it was not OK to do so for the past 100 years? What changed?
November, 1996: Willis Propp wrote a letter of explanation “To All of Concern,” dated November 9, 1996. He stated that "one of the Workers in Hungary, whose visa was soon to expire, was faced with the problem of being refused permission to remain in the country because the 'Group' she was representing was not a registered body in Hungary. Our sister who labours there was companion to the girl in question and she appealed urgently to us that we do something it about (sic) because any approach they made to the local authorities was to no avail and they needed help badly. Above that there was a deadline to meet. Hungary would accept our Registration as backing…we sought a Lawyer's aid and as a result a very complicated document was made up. We learned to our dismay that to be registered we had to become incorporated as a non-profit Society. While it was solely for the purpose of those in Authority, the document gave us a long handled name. We were hesitant to do it, but for the sake of our Workers in Hungary, we signed the document."
The incorporation of the fellowship gave the church/fellowship a legal identity along with the means to sponsor and support Workers going to preach in foreign countries. Reportedly, Willis Propp was responsible for the funding of Canadian Workers serving in foreign lands. The name of the sister Worker in distress was Anne Court from Scotland. She was the companion of Ester Laslo, an Alberta worker laboring in Hungary. Anne's name was not made public until the Dorey-Steingard case when Willis revealed it when questioned by an attorney, and it was recorded in the Court Transcript. Willis answered to an attorney: "It was because of the group of workers in Hungary and they required registration. That's the only reason we did it, because we didn't need it here. They just required backing from us."
Willis wrote: "We are in the process now of having the whole document cancelled, since it is not required in Canada…and we hope the matter will settle down in time" (Nov. 9, 1996 Letter). His hopes did not materialize. Things became even more unsettled.
Whether or not the church was incorporated was not the issue for some Friends. What was an issue was that the Workers continued to preach that the church did not have a Name and was not an organization, because those particular details are frequently used as evidence that they are the only right church on earth. Perhaps this Worker did not need to be in Hungary? Maybe God was working to get her out of Hungary and the Workers’ incorporation was actually usurping God's plan. Why didn’t the Workers rely on God to provide for the sister worker in a way that didn’t require taking The Name or organizing? Since when do the church's basic tenets not take priority? When does the end justify the means?
Just nine days after his first letter of explanation, Willis Propp wrote a letter of apology “To Whom It May Concern,” dated November 18, 1996. He stated "The concept of the Document of Registration that was drawn up and filed in Alberta, Canada, on the 5th day of May, 1995, was totally contrary to the basic tenets of our fellowship, and so was totally wrong. I, Willis Propp, acted unilaterally without due consultation with my seniors in the ministry, which made my action totally wrong…I assume full responsibility for involving in this process my fellow Workers in Alberta…I have instructed a lawyer on November 8, 1996, to have the said Document completely revoked. Attached is a copy of this dissolution."
The Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies was voluntarily dissolved on December 11, 1996.
Link to the Certificate of Dissolution.
Willis Propp stated that the incorporation was for a Worker in Hungary; however, it is questionable as to whether or not it was used for that purpose. When the Hungarian Government was asked whether there were missionaries in Hungary representing the Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies, a reply received from Hungarian Ministry of Interiors, Szentirmai ILdiko, stated: "With reference to your message 13rd February, 1997, I wish to inform you that our country have not missionaries representing a group known as 'Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies.' Case closed. Sincerely, Ivan Platthy." NOTE: Ivan Platthy was the State Secretary for Religious Affairs in Hungary.
However, at the Dorey-Steingard trial, Willis explained "they just said that they had checked it out and it wasn't true, but they didn't realize that Hungary -- our Workers in Hungary made their own application. We only backed it...I don't know who did the search, but they searched for our incorporation in Hungary and couldn't find it... (Transcript pp. 126-127)
However, some of the Friends were not persuaded that the situation in Hungary was Willis Propp's real reason for incorporating.
For about three years, a number of Friends tried to discuss some issues that troubled them with various Workers, including overseers for Western Canada and the U.S. West Coast. They were concerned about the incorporation; about immorality among some on the Alberta Workers’ Staff; about Workers keeping their inheritances, investments, funding from wills and estates; arrogance of senior Workers, and more. To some Friends, some of the Workers’ actions appeared to be somewhat unscriptural, immoral, unethical and even verged on being illegal.
The Friends had long understood that their church took no name; that the Workers left all their possessions, took no salary, went out totally in faith; and were God's anointed who were entitled to unquestioning respect and obedience. When some Friends in Alberta discovered that some of these “fundamental basic truths” were not being adhered to by the Alberta Overseer Willis Propp and some of his leading Workers, they began to investigate. Some of their concerns and issues were:
- It was learned that money was accepted by the Workers in the late 1990s from the estates of two of the Friends who has passed away. One substantial sum of money was accepted under very questionable circumstances and the other was a gift from an elderly Friend who was mentally incapacitated. The Workers disregarded her family’s advance request that they not accept money if she offered it because they needed it for her on-going care.
- It was learned that Willis Propp made a special effort for the senior Workers to apply to receive the Old Age Security pension from the Canadian government. Some Workers even received retroactive payouts for previous uncollected years in the $15-20,000 range. Willis Propp expected this money to be turned over to a fund he administered. Until this time, it was the understanding of the Friends that the Workers did not take pensions. Some families of elderly Workers became concerned that money would not be available to provide for their elderly Worker relative’s future care and needs.
- It was learned that some Alberta Workers had been involved in improper sexual conduct. The Workers solution was to keep the matter quiet and move the offending Worker to some other location without warning the Friends. Some Friends were concerned that Alberta was becoming a “dumping ground” for Workers who were moved there from other fields due to their indiscretions.
- It was learned that Willis Propp had incorporated the 2x2 church in May, 1995, under the name of “The Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies.” The reason was never satisfactorily explained. The incorporation was contrary to the Friends’ understanding that their church had no name and was not an organization, much less a corporation.
- It was learned that some Workers in foreign countries were receiving monthly allowances from Propp. This went against the Friends’ understanding that Workers went out preaching totally in faith “without purse or scrip.”
- It was learned that Willis Propp had a credit card with a credit limit of over $20,000. This was contradictory to the Friends’ understanding about Workers “going out in faith.”
- It was learned that Willis Propp had retained mineral rights he had inherited. This was contradictory to the Friends’ understanding of Workers giving up everything to go out in the harvest field.
- It was suspected that Willis Propp had a large (six figure) bank account in the name of “F. Willis Propp Enterprises.”
Due to the items on the above list (and some others), some of the Alberta Friends/Elders felt that some of the Alberta Workers were not keeping true to the “fundamental basic truths” of their church, and some Friends lost their trust and confidence in the Workers. Further, they refused to continue to support a ministry and church that conducted itself in such a manner. Of course, they realized that not all the Alberta Workers were guilty of any or all these things. However, it was very disappointing to some Friends when most of the Workers fully supported the actions of their leader/s. With very few exceptions, the Workers did not take a stand for what was right by the Bible and went along with whatever requirements were made by the senior Workers. Almost all the Workers took the position that they were supposed to submit to their Leader/Overseer even if they did not agree with his actions or requests, and felt that it was their duty to keep in their place, not rock the boat or make any waves. The Workers also tried to impress on the Friends that they should submit also.
LINK: Events Preceding the Alberta Excommunications of 1999
The Alberta Workers were not accustomed to answering questions of this nature or to being held accountable to the Friends for their actions. The general approach taken by the Alberta Workers in dealing with the Friends’ unwelcome questions was to say that the Workers would look into or take care of the matter; and that the Friends no longer needed to be concerned. This response did not satisfy some of the Alberta Friends, and it appeared that the Workers just ignored or swept the matter under the carpet. The Workers did not admit they had made mistakes or reverse any of their decisions.
The last week in May, 1997, about eleven Senior Workers and Overseers came together at a meeting called by Willis Propp in Edmonton, Alberta. A number of the Friends heard these workers were in town and asked if they might have a visit with these workers. Willis told them to all comes to his brother Carlos Propp's home at 3:00 p.m. that day. Even though Willis hadn't given the Friends much notice, about 50-60 concerned Friends and Elders showed up at 3:00, some from as far as three hours away. This was an unusual, hastily called, impromptu meeting, quite unlike a regular testimony meeting. It was obvious the workers weren't expecting such a large group as they didn't have enough chairs set out.
The workers present were: Eldon Tenniswood and Dick Middleton (California) Harold Bennett (Oregon) Sydney Holt (Washington) Paul Sharpe and Ernest Nelson (British Columbia), Saskatchewan (Dale Shultz), Willis Propp, Jim Knipe and Eldon Kendrew (Alberta) and Jack Price (Montana).
It was expected that Willis Propp had called these senior workers together to hold a Workers' Meeting for the purpose of removing Jack Price as Overseer of Montana and to discipline Dan Hofer and Joshua Tschetter, two brother workers on the Alberta staff who were not pleased with Willis keeping knowledge of the incorporation from them and other workers and for Willis taking an official name for the church. In addition, Dan had been contacted by the family who protested the way the Estate of Beatrice Dunn was handled by Willis. Dan and Joshua are former Hutterites. Jack Price mentored Dan; and Willis Propp believed that Jack was "at the root of the problem." There appeared to be some rivalry or feud between Willis Propp and Jack Price.
Dick Middleton led the meeting, and he admitted that Willis Propp had "made some mistakes along the way." According to a Friend's account: “To begin, Dick Middleton read a letter about how some Californian had great confidence in Willis, that the friends in California were not concerned (so why should we be?) and how fortunate it was that just when they needed some money for a medical bill, someone left them their estate. So not a good start!
“Not one of them had a Bible; a number of the friends had brought theirs or a hymn book. No one referred us to any verses or scriptural examples for direction or comfort. No one suggested that we pray. Remember, these are the "seniors"! No one even answered a question or responded to the concerns, except after considerable prodding. It was the first time I had seen that technique used, in retrospect, fascinating, somewhat effective for their purposes, but incredibly frustrating for the listeners…
“Willis tried to send Jim Knipe off to find more documents in his other briefcase, until someone, I think Merle Layden, said that we did not need or want more legal documents. Don Nixon stood up three times near the end of the meeting, each time asking them very respectfully what they thought.
"Ernest Nelson said that such a large group of friends before them was a great tribute to the workers who had pioneered the work in Alberta, sacrificing so much and that was what he thought of when he looked at all of us. At risk of sounding disrespectful, the choice was, by then, to laugh or cry....” LINK to Account
Don Nixon, a doctor, asked the workers, "In this meeting, you workers have heard the sheep bleating and crying. Are we all wrong--or is there a problem here?"
Jack Price stated that he was relieved that the Friends had come together and expressed their concerns.
"Eldon Tenniswood finally told us to look to Christ as our shepherd, which was good advice…(Unfortunately, his subsequent behaviour and attitude toward the AB "situation" did not demonstrate the same confidence in our Shepherd.) He spoke about how hard the Overseers had it and that the Friends had no idea how hard it was to be in the work. Reportedly, Eldon made the informal comment after the meeting, "Well, we can afford to lose a few friends in Alberta."
When the meeting was opened for discussion, some topics brought up by concerned Friends and Elders were:
Mineral Rights: Mark Ross was one of the Alberta Friends who attended this meeting. Someone in a law office witnessed Willis Propp dealing with some mineral lease documents. This information was passed on and came to Mark Ross' ears. Being familiar with the oil business, Mark investigated and located a “Petroleum and Natural Gas Lease” entered into between F. Willis Propp of Edmonton, Alberta and Scott Land & Lease Ltd. The Lease Certificate No. 932 012 972+1 was dated and signed by Willis Propp on April 9, 1997, and witnessed by R. Carlos Propp. Mark also located a Caveat regarding the Lease dated May 8, 1997. The Lease covered an undivided 1/20 interest in minerals for a specific tract of land situated in Alberta. Records show that Willis came into title to his mineral interest on January 14, 1993, when the four Propp brothers (Troy, Willis, Carlos and Coy) filed for "Separation Interests" so that each one of them could separately manage the mineral rights they had inherited. According to the Dorey-Steingard transcript, the sum of money Willis initially received for signing the Lease was $250.00. If drilling occurred on the land, there would have been additional income. Mark Ross presented this information which he had just located about a week earlier at the Edmonton meeting. It was news to most Friends and Workers who were there. Willis claimed he didn't know what was being talked about, so copies of the documents containing Willis' signature were passed down from Friend to Friend until they reached the front row to hand to the workers. However, the workers refused to take the documents, using the excuse that the meeting was solely " about the kingdom." Willis read a letter from his dear Grandmother from who he had received the mineral interests, and indicated that since he was not a businessman, he had no idea what it was.
LINK to Lease
LINK to Caveat
LINK to Title Cancellation
Wills & Estates: Several of the Friends had no idea money was ever willed to or accepted by the workers. They had been extremely surprised and disturbed to learn that some deceased Alberta Friends had willed all or part of their estates to the ministry. These actions didn't fit in with the workers' claims to be penniless and to go out totally in faith. There were a couple of highly questionable fairly recent incidents involving money gifts and wills and the workers. In the Estate of Beatrice Gremm Dunn, a non-professing family member protested a very recent Codicil that awarded a considerable sum of money to the ministry. The family contacted the worker in that area, Dan Hofer, who in turn wrote Willis Propp about the situation. Willis did nothing to make matters right with the family and further, he accused Dan of being "the problem." Also large sums of money were accepted by the ministry from Marie Baird, who had mental problems for years.
Stan Jordan: At this meeting, Marlene Jordan "confronted Willis Propp about his unwillingness to call/meet with us regarding this Stan [Jordan] issue. This Propp meeting was all about Willis and his cover-up regarding the Incorporation Document, his $20,000 Visa Gold Card, his Oil/Mineral right dealings, and his financial status at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). After a three hour meeting where the friends bared their hearts about things that were taking place in this fellowship that were totally contrary to scripture and to what they themselves (the Alberta ministry) were preaching, Willis reassured us that he would finally meet us regarding this Stan (Jordan) issue."
Didsbury Convention Grounds: Convention ground owners Bevan & Heather Olson discussed certain changes Willis was requesting. Willis wanted a private phone line just for him and a sound proof room installed in their basement, along with some other items that the property owners felt were unreasonable for the few short days a year the premises were used for convention. Two years later, in 1999, Willis told the Olsons that he was cancelling and closing the convention at Didsbury. However, the Olsons sold the grounds to a buyer Willis found.
Visa Gold Card: Willis had a Visa Gold credit card issued in his personal name. Some of the Friends who saw Willis using his Visa Gold card knew the eligibility requirements to be able to own one; i.e. that one had to have a substantial bank account and excellent credit in order to qualify for a GOLD card. Some felt it didn't require much faith to go out preaching when you held a credit card with a high limit. Willis testified in the Dorey-Steingard trial that he used the card "because we dealt with all the travel of our overseas workers...and it was very convenient for that. It was in excess of $20,000 at one time...Because we use it extensively for the buying of tickets for overseas travel, and when I went overseas myself, I was able to leave money with the credit card without carrying cash to different countries." (Dorey Transcript pp. 137-8)
Bank Account of "F. Willis Propp Enterprises" at Canada Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). It was discovered that Willis had a substantial bank account in the name of F. Willis Propp Enterprises. Willis agreed to sign a common "Authorization for Release of Information" but later reneged and refused to give authorization. Willis explained his refusal in a letter: “Upon consulting with the Lawyer, he immediately said that whatever you do, do not sign such a Release. It would be global and it would immediately go to the Press, also that there was no time limit on it and it could be held over my head for the rest of my life”. This response seemed strange--especially if there was no bank account in the first place.
If there was no involvement or anything called the "F. Willis Propp Enterprises," Willis would have no reason to be concerned about signing a Release of Information authorization which would satisfy his accusers.
View copy of standard Release form: http://www.certifiedmasterinspector.org/pdf/CANADA-CPIC-authorization-form.pdf
After the 3-hour meeting ended, Willis appeared to be somewhat rattled and scurried around visiting with various Friends present, trying to smooth things over, making promises and amends.
After the Alberta conventions were over for the year (Didsbury #2), and the new workers lists came out, Dan Hofer and Joshua Tschetter were both transferred out of Alberta. Dan left for Ontario on August 28, 1997 and Joshua went to British Columbia. Willis Propp gave the following answers as to why in the Dorey-Steingard case:
Q "You had mentioned previously that Mr. Hofer and Mr. Tschetter had left Alberta. One went to Ontario and one went to British Columbia. Now why were they transferred out of Alberta?"
A By the advice of an older brother that was in our elders meeting. To give them a fresh start in a new area so that they could continue their activity in the ministry.
Q So there were complaints against them?
A There were some complaints in this province
Q About them acting inappropriately or...?
A Right. They weren't working in harmony with the other Workers that they were in fellowship with.
Q So there was some dissension?
A And it gave them a fresh opportunity. And we have tried to keep in touch with them." (Transcript pp. 133-134)
In August 1997, about a year after the incorporation discovery was made, a child custody battle began in Alberta Family Court that involved a professing woman. The plaintiffs were Duncan and Margaret Dorey, who were father and stepmother to two daughters: Teresa and Katie Dorey who were 8 and 6 years old, respectively, at that time. The Doreys were pursuing sole custody of the two girls. The Defendant, Janice Steingard, was Duncan Dorey's former common-law spouse, and she was pursuing sole custody of her daughter Katie, and also of Duncan's daughter Teresa. Teresa Dorey's birth mother died when she was 18 months old, and Janice Steingard was a guardian of Teresa Dorey. Janice's father was an Elder with a meeting in his home, her sister Linda Steingard was a Sister Worker, and two of her siblings were also 2x2s. Duncan had professed at one time, but did no longer and Janice had re-professed.
The September, 1997 issue of "The Alberta Report," a monthly Canadian Magazine, contained an article titled:
The opening paragraph read: "At the end of August (1997), Duncan Dorey and Janice Steingard, a divorced Edmonton couple, appeared in Alberta Family Court to decide which of them would get custody of their two children. Mr. Dorey's lawyer, James Arends, charged that Ms. Steingard was raising their children in a cult to which both parents belonged but from which Mr. Dorey has since escaped. Known as the Two-by-twos, the Way, the Truth, the Go-preachers, or “the Church without a Name," the movement claims to be the one true Christianity. The Family Court deemed itself unqualified to settle the question and referred the case to the Court of Queen's Bench, which now finds itself in the awkward position of having rule on the harmfulness of a religious sect."
Litigation continued for over two years in this case. Finally, in January and February of 1999, the child custody trial of Dorey & Dorey vs. Steingard was heard in the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta in Edmonton, and the hearing lasted for 17 days. Attorneys for both the Plaintiff and Defendant questioned Willis Propp who had been the Overseer of Alberta since 1983. The Doreys attempted to show that the 2x2 church was a cult and therefore, not the best home in which to raise the two daughters.
In the trial, Willis Propp stated regarding his background that he was 78 years old, had professed since September 15, 1940, and had been in the ministry since 1948. He had been the overseer of Alberta since 1983 and was the head of 67 Alberta workers. Prior to that, he was the overseer of Saskatchewan for 8 years.
Click here to view photo of Willis Propp: http://www.tellingthetruth.info/plogger/?level=picture&id=1263
The 17 day case was attended by numerous currently professing Friends, as well as former 2x2s. Some of Willis Propp's business details that became public knowledge in this trial went against the "fundamental truths" many Friends believed about their church and many were disturbed and disheartened.
According to statements by Willis in the Dorey-Steingard trial, the workers have social insurance, but "some of us older ones didn't have social insurance until recently." They are exempt from paying Alberta Health Care because they have no taxable income, but they receive free health care a year after they register. He said none of the workers have a salary and that the workers do not file income tax returns, since their income is unsolicited donations from Friends. Funds "that are beyond my own personal needs are given to elders" who hold them in bank accounts and disburse from them at Willis discretion. Three elders in Alberta were currently holding funds. "...any interest that is accrued on that money is looked after by the elders that have it. It's held in trust, and it's not in anyone's name but their own, and so they pay the income tax on the interest that is accrued." Asked to give an estimate of how many members were living in Alberta, Willis said, "Well, we could think of the number that attend our conventions and that would give us a little idea...We are talking between 3 and 4,000...only an estimate."
Janice Steingard was awarded custody of BOTH daughters, and Duncan even lost his daughter Teresa, who was his child by his deceased wife.
The Dorey's lawyer, James K. Arends of LeDuc, Alberta, assembled a bound Court Transcript of the testimony by Willis Propp and two 2x2 elders, which was made available for a nominal fee. The references in this Chapter 28 to "Transcript" are taken from this booklet.
The overseers were not in agreement about what should be done with Willis Propp, and the matter was not immediately resolved. There were some workers' meetings that took place...decisions were made and unmade...as to whether of not Willis should retain his responsibility over Alberta. This was BEFORE the ex-communications and closing of the meetings took place.
On January 7, 1997 a Workers Meeting was held in Calgary, Alberta. Notes of that meeting contained gems from: Harold Bennett, Alton Mose, Paul Sharpe, Jack Price, Sidney Holt, Dick Middleton, Charles Preston, Ernest Nelson, Eldon Tenniswood.
Soon after, on January 23, 1997, Jack Price wrote a letter to "Co-Workers" in which he stated: "During our three days together in Calgary...Most of the Alberta workers except for the youngest were interviewed individually and confidentially, resulting in the majority asking that Willis would remain as their overseer. A meeting including all the Alberta Workers plus the overseers present was held on the evening of the second day...Due to the fact that this was a first admonition & since Willis manifested a true spirit of repentance, in addition to making every effort to get the 'document' dissolved, it was only reasonable to give him another chance to prove himself in the place where has had the privilege & responsibility of serving. Should also add that we were satisfied with the apologies from those who co-signed the 'document.' " A copy of the Certificate of Dissolution was enclosed.
Friends who heard from various workers about the questioning gave a little different slant: Each worker was privately called into a room and asked if s/he supported Willis and Jim and stood behind them as his/her Overseer of Alberta. There were 67 workers on the Alberta staff reporting to Willis at that time. Only two workers withheld their support. They were Dan Hofer and Joshua Tschetter.
The week before March 30, 1998, "at the time of Calvin Casselman's funeral, four of our older brothers, Paul Sharp, Jack Price, Dale Shultz and Alton Mose met together for the purpose of discussing having our older brother Willis leave his responsibility over the work here in Alberta and also leave the province...and decision was made to remove Willis from his place of responsibility...There seems to be some questions about Jim Knipe remaining Alberta also and a move for him is likely to take place..." (March 30, 1998 letter from Jim & Merlin) However, Eldon Tenniswood and Ernest Nelson vetoed their decision. Dick Middleton and Syd Holt asked that the decision be put off until a future date. The letter indicated Willis was away taking some type treatments that finished on April 18, 1998, and that "he will not be able to face coming back to Alberta for a period of time after his treatments."
Apparently, a decision as to whether Willis and Jim would remain in Alberta, was not reached until July, 1998.
April 12, 1999: Dale Shultz, Overseer of Saskachewan, wrote "to a number of people in Alberta who have been communicating with me by letter and/or phone" that it had been decided that Willis Propp and Jim Knipe would retain their authority in Alberta, and that it was their place to accept the Workers’ decisions, even when they disagreed with them:
“I do know that those of you to whom I am writing have felt, for various reasons, that your confidence in the oversight in Alberta has been eroded to a larger or lesser extent in different cases. You have hoped and, at times, expected that some change in the oversight would be implemented. A year ago now, my own expectation was that the overseers as a group would have seen fit to have implemented some changes affecting the province of Alberta. However, as you know, “the decision coming out of the meeting last July (1998) was to support the status quo in Alberta. That was not the thinking of everyone there, but it was the decision of the meeting. That was not the thinking of everyone there, but it was the decision of the meeting. With Eldon, Ernest and Sydney coming into the province in recent weeks (1999); it remains very evident that the overseers generally are fully supporting Willis and Jim and their oversight in the province.”
“We realize that the fact that we are servants of God, or even very responsible servants of God, doesn't make us infallible. However, something that is very much a part of being a child of God is to respect those who are over us in the Lord, to pray for them, to obey them, to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Their judgement may not always be right, but it is always right for us to respect that judgement and to work with it in the best way that we possibly can… Whether the decision is right or wrong, the right thing for all of us is to respect it because of those who have made the judgement. ”
“So, there are two possibilities regarding the decision of the overseers to maintain and support the status quo in Alberta. One possibility is that the decision is a right decision for the province. That would mean that they are seeing some things in the picture that some of us are missing when we look at it. Another possibility is that it was not the best decision for the province. But, whichever is the applicable possibility in this case, it does remain the right thing to respect that decision because of where it has come from and to work with it no matter what our own thoughts might be on the subject.”
LINK to Shultz Letter dated April 12, 1999
Don Galloway wrote in a letter to the Workers: "Over the years, we have heard the question asked many times from the platform: ‘If everyone else in the whole world was wrong, would you have the courage to stand for what is right in God's way?’ Why are we now being advised by workers to be so submissive in accepting wrong?"
So Willis retained his responsibility as Overseer of Alberta and Jim Knipe continued to be his right-hand man.
If Willis & Jim had been moved out of Alberta, as the four Overseers thought was best, the 200 friends who left meetings and 24 meetings that closed in Alberta probably would never have happened...
His People Need Care
By Willis Propp
The Lord does look down in His caring way,
To needs of His garden from day to day;
Lest weeds would begin to obliterate
The good fruit He’s wanting to cultivate.
There’s shepherds and watchmen for you
That know times and what they should do;
Be fruitful and share in this kind tender care,
Til pilgrimage days are all through.
The Lord’s eye is viewing His vine with care,
Observing the branches all set to bear;
Are foxes there, slyly and out to spoil
The harvest intended from honest toil?
The Lord is concerned for His precious flock,
As unwary targets their foes to stalk;
His shepherds and watchmen with earnest quest
Will help them attain their eternal rest.
The Lord with dear children that need His care,
Of helpless conditions He’s so aware;
He’s ever alert and will heed their cry,
On His loving kindness they can rely.
From the time the Friends and Elders received copies of the incorporation in the mail until the Dorey-Steingard trial was over, Willis walked on egg shells, since he never knew what he might be asked and have to answer about when he went to trial. After the trial was over, he was still the Overseer in charge of Alberta. He was free to carry on as he pleased, without fear of having to testify about his actions.
Didsbury Convention Transfer: One of the first situations Willis took care after the trial was over was the Didsbury convention grounds which had been owned by Bevan and Heather Olson for about 25 years. He wanted a private telephone line to his room and a sound proof room in the basement. When the owners objected to Willis' demands for these and other changes to the convention grounds for a convention that was just 4 days, Willis just closed the convention, cancelled Didsbury 1 and 2 conventions, and said he would find another place for the convention. The Olsons were shocked and devastated at this drastic measure. When they asked Willis if he would like for them to sell the grounds to some Friends, Willis replied that he knew an interested buyer. In a very short time, the Olsons moved off the grounds and the new owners moved in. Most Friends had no inkling a change of hands was even being considered and were left astonished and puzzled. And the Didsbury conventions 1 & 2 were held as usual in July.
The many disparities observed between the "fundamental truths" of their church and in what was being practiced by some of the ministry in Alberta continued to seriously trouble many Friends.
Sometime before the Dorey-Steingard child custody case was heard, the meetings were removed from two Alberta homes because the workers were not welcome in their homes. They were Sam and Barbara Tschetter and Ervin and Margaret Oakes. They believed the workers were not telling them the truth. Willis testified in the Dorey-Steingard case concerning the Oakes that he thought "one of the reasons...was because they didn't believe what I said about the document...the Hungarian situation...they just said that they had checked it out and it wasn't true, but they didn't realize that Hungary -- our Workers in Hungary made their own application. We only backed it....they said I wasn't telling the truth. I don't know who did the search, but they searched for our incorporation in Hungary and couldn't find it...they said we want you out....the workers are not welcome in our home. And I understand from Sam and Barbara Tschetter it was the Workers in Alberta that weren't welcome, except the young workers were and other Workers were...They were welcome to the meeting elsewhere, but we couldn't have a meeting where workers are not welcome in the home...I would say it was an act of discipline." (Transcript pp. 126-129) These were the first two meetings to be closed.
In 1999, the Alberta Overseer, Willis Propp, decided the Friends who were not willing to drop their concerns and accept the Workers’ decisions without question would be Ex-communicated. Apparently, Willis viewed the concerns expressed by the Friends as a challenge to the Worker's authority over the church. Also when Elders allowed Ex-communicated Friends to attend their meetings, Willis viewed that as evidence that the Elders were usurping the Workers’ authority, and he took drastic steps to re-establish the Workers’ control over their jurisdiction.
Most of the Ex-communications were carried out in May and June of 1999, during which time, 8 meetings were removed. Of these, 5 were Wednesday Night, 2 were Sunday and 1 was a Union meeting. During the next two years, at least 16 more Elders gave up their meetings rather than be put in a place of supporting the Workers in barring certain Friends from attending meetings in their homes. Of the 16 meetings relinquished later, 7 were Wednesday Night, 8 were Sunday and 1 was a Union meeting. About half of the Elders of these meetings also left the church.
These Ex-communications were all carried out with the approval and under the direction of the Alberta overseer, Willis Propp--yet Willis didn't personally excommunicate a single person. His right-hand man, Jim Knipe, talked to Willis daily. Then Jim made the arrangements with workers in their respective fields to excommunicate or to accompany Jim in doing so and to clean up the aftermath. Workers involved or present for the Ex-communications and the removal of meetings in Alberta were: Willis Propp, Merlin Howlett, Jim Knipe, Gwen Fipke, Don Shenton, Thelma Galbraith, Scott McChesney, Heather Darley, Sharon Dorey, Richard Knight, Kevin Cowan, Marian Crawford, and Sharon Hoercherl.
All total, there were 24 meetings closed in Alberta over a period of about 2+ years. It was impossible for these harsh Ex-communications to be kept quiet. Largely due to the internet and telephone, the news travelled around the world very quickly. Hearing about the first 8 meetings being closed and the Elders being Ex-communicated was alarming; but when the number of closed meetings continued to climb all the way up to 24, it was almost beyond belief. How could this be? What on earth was going on in Alberta? Most of the Friends and Workers around the world were stunned.
1999 - Sequence of Events
In March and April of 1999, an Elder and his wife (Keith and Mabel Veitch of Evansburg, Alberta) discussed some of their concerns with the Workers in their field. Thelma Galbraith was one of the workers. Rather than admit that the Alberta Overseer Willis Propp was wrong, Thelma lied about some of the money issues so that some Friends would appear to be in the wrong.
After their visit, the Veitches wrote Thelma a letter dated April 12, 1999, and stated: "We cannot accept the doctrine you presented to us and therefore refer to 2nd John, Verses 9, 10 & 11 and based on that scripture trust that you will respect our decision to close our home to any in a ministry that finds lies along with false doctrine an acceptable commodity to present to the churches. 1st John 2:21 assures us we have the right purpose and verse 27 gives us the qualifications to uphold that purpose."
Subsequently, Thelma and her companion met with Veitches along with some other Friends and Elders. Rather than indicate any regret for lying or distorting doctrine, she advised them that lying has nothing to do with doctrine and was, therefore, not any basis to deny the Workers the right to come into their home.
Thelma also informed them that since the Workers were not welcome, then Keith and Mabel could no longer have Union meeting in their home, and she told everyone in their meeting to go elsewhere. However, they were allowed to continue attending meetings.
The next Sunday was the first Sunday in May. The Union meeting had been held in Veitches home for a number of years, and they decided to go ahead and hold a meeting for anyone who wished to attend on May 2, 1999. Eleven people attended the Veitches meeting that Sunday. Later, meetings like this held without the workers’ approval would be labeled an “unsanctioned meeting.”
Those who attended Veitches meeting soon found themselves Ex-communicated also. Workers telephoned Jim and Elizabeth Holt (an 86 year old couple), John and Elizabeth Seminiuk and John and Shirli O'Dell and advised them they were no longer part of the fellowship and would not be allowed to go to any of the fellowship meetings. They also removed the meetings from the homes of the O'Dells and Seminiuks.
The following Sunday (May 9), the O’Dells attended meeting at Dale and Marlene Jordans' home in Calgary. Because Jordans allowed O’Dells to attend their meeting, the Jordans received a phone call from Jim Knipe and Gwen Fipke, which resulted in them being Ex-communicated and their meeting being removed. The Jordans tape recorded this conversation.
Click Here to listen to Tapes
The Jordans continued to hold a meeting in their home. Their son, three daughters and their husbands were excommunicated because they had attended the “unsanctioned” meetings held in their parents' home.
The Jordans went to meeting at Don and Maureen Parson's home. Because of this, the Parsons’ meeting was removed and they were excommunicated.
The next two meetings to be closed were those held in the homes of Don and Myrna Galloway and Fred and Verna Alder.
The Ex-communications started a chain reaction. Don and Myrna Galloway allowed the Holts to attend their meeting. This resulted in Jim Knipe coming to visit Galloways, accompanied by Scott McChesney. Jim asked if they knew that the Holts were not to be allowed in any fellowship meetings. Galloways asked Jim to explain why this was the case. Jim's exact response was, "That, Don, is none of your business!"
The Workers advised Galloways of a number of Workers' rights. Some of these were that the ministry is the foundation of the gospel; that Friends/Elders have no right to question them; that Friends must accept without question whatever the ministry demands of them; that Friends must respect “the order” and “keep in their place;” and that Elders had control over who they invited into their homes any other time, but the ministry and ONLY the ministry, had control over who could come into their homes for meetings.
When Jim Knipe asked Galloways "The Question," they stated they could not give their unconditional support to the Workers for the actions they were taking. Jim replied, "Well then you folks are no longer a part of this fellowship, and Scott will make arrangements for the people who meet here to go elsewhere." The Friends were warned when they were reassigned to other meetings, that if they or anyone else attended a meeting in Galloway’s home, that they would not be allowed back into a “regular” sanctioned meeting. In other words, they would be Ex-communicated also.
About June 5-6, the O’Dells (who had been excommunicated earlier) spent the weekend with Fred and Verna Alder of Lethbridge and attended meeting in their home. The Workers told the Alders that since they had allowed the O'Dells to attend their meeting, they were "no longer a part of this fellowship" and their meeting was closed. When asked "The Question," Fred’s answer was a definite "No.” At the end of their conversation, Fred let Jim Knipe know that their conversation had been tape recorded, and Jim became angry.
LINK to recorded phone conversation
In November 1999, Dale and Marlene Jordan visited Marlene's mother in Rimbey. Her mother’s Elder was instructed by Workers not to allow the Jordans or any of their grown children attend his meeting when they were visiting their Mother/G’mother.
By July 2000, those who were Ex-communicated in Alberta were no longer welcome in meetings held in the neighboring provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia!
Sister Worker, Margaret (“Marg”) Magowan, who labored in Saskatchewan, attended an unsanctioned meeting and also visited with some Friends who had been Ex-communicated. On February 16, 2001, her overseer, Dale Shultz, asked Marg to promise to have no further communication with any of the Ex-communicated Friends. She refused, believing it was her duty as a minister to reach out and care for all who were in need wherever they were. She was informed that she no longer had a place in the work. Currently, Marg is married, lives in Canada and no longer attends meetings.
Click here for more details about Marg Magowan and her letter: http://www.anotherstep.net/summary/summary.6.htm
[End of Sequence of Events ]
How were the Ex-communications carried out?
Some were by telephone and some in personal visits. All were authorized by Alberta Overseer Willis Propp, and carried out by his underlings. Willis did not personally Ex-communicate any of the Friends. First, the Worker/s would make certain that the Friend/Elder knew what they had done wrong; that they had knowingly allowed certain person/s who had been Ex-communicated to attend their meeting.
Then they gave the Elder or Friend an ultimatum in the form of “The Question:” "Are you prepared to support the Alberta ministry in all their decisions regarding removal of meetings and removing people from the fellowship? Yes or No?" If the Elder or Friend was willing to give the Workers their unconditional support, then, presumably, they would not follow through with their Ex-communication. When questioned about these events later, some Workers reported that the elder CHOSE to leave or CHOSE to give up their meeting. In reality, that “choice” was a far cry from being a “free choice.” It was more like the Elders’ feet being held to the fire.
Some Elders involved felt the Workers had no authority to do what they did and did not believe the Holy Spirit was leading them. Therefore, these elders would not allow these Workers to take away the meetings in their homes that were put in place years ago by Workers they believed were led by the Holy Spirit. Some Elders continued to have meetings in their homes just as they had done for years.
July 29, 1999 – A Workers’ Meeting was held in Miltown, Washington. Ernest Nelson and Eldon Tenniswood were present. Afterwards, Willis wrote the following letter to "Our Dear Alberta Staff Overseas. Jim and I are back to BC from the Elders Meeting at Miltown. All were present including our two Seniors, Ernest Nelson and Eldon Tenniswood...While there was much discussion, the following two things were all that were finalized: 1. Jim Knipe will go to Washington to labour on Sydney Holt's staff, and Mark Huddle, who has been laboring in Alaska will come to Alberta to be my helper, in Jim's place. This will happen in early September at the beginning of the mission season. Mark will be with me. 2. Jack (Price) and Dale Shultz at our request agreed to disassociate themselves from those they have been linked with in Alberta. This will surely help to get things resolved. They will write to our Staff stating their intention. LINK to above letter dated July 29, 1999
NOTE: reference to "our two seniors, Ernest Nelson and Eldon Tenniswood, indicating who the Overseers of the Overseers were.
Willis Propp’s purging in Alberta was not without precedent. He was not the first Overseer to carry out a large scale purging of the Friends. Bill Carroll, Overseer of Victoria from 1913 and brother to Jack Carroll, also went on a purging spree in Victoria in 1951; as did Overseer John Baartz in South Australia in 1951-52. See WmI Book Chapter 24
"In South Australia, during 1951, about 70 Friends were "Stood Down" from fellowship by John Baartz; and a number went out in sympathy. "Stood Down" was to be asked not to attend fellowship meetings. Those concerned considered it being "Put Out." By 1952 the 'putting out' had ended although the bitterness and hurt remained, particularly where families had been split down the middle. Some of the families effected were: Vogts, Doeckes, Berritts, Sharpes, Wirths, Harrises, Bruses, Ashmans, Masons, Fergusons, Loechels and some others. Some of these were Bethel Mission families! Only a very few of those who left at that time returned in later years. All Ron Campbell's family supported him and left."
Ron Campbell wrote: "While these uncertainties and insecurities are manifested in the C.C. sect, it is all different in Christ. Jesus said 'all who come to me I will in no wise cast out.' And that is just what He meant. This of casting people out is because they (Workers) cannot stand up to questioning; they are afraid the corruption will all come into the open; and they will have as a result, no support. It's time precious souls understand this selfish bad motive of theirs."
During the 1950s, Bill Carroll excommunicated many of the Friends in Victoria and South Australia, for not taking sides and supporting Bill Carroll. The reason for their Ex-communication was not always made known to the victims. Many did not receive a hearing. “Week after week numbers were put out including whole churches. No one knew why and appeals were sent to senior Workers to come over and help us, and give us a hearing." (Eileen Matz letter July 26, 1954) "About the same time, schism occurred in South Australia, where two conventions were cancelled and several families cast out." (Secret Sect Footnote 10, Pg 96 - E. Cooney Letter to Earl & Mae Hammond Aug. 24, 1953)
Parents, along with their innocent children, were put out of the fellowship. Separate fellowship meetings for the various groups were held. Children and teenagers of both groups attended school together, but did not meet for fellowship meetings with each other. Things went on like this for a few years. Eventually, the two groups were united again with the help of George Walker, USA, and Jack Forbes from England.
The incorporation of the 2x2 church also had a precedent. It was incorporated in Sweden in 1992 under the name of: "Christians in Sweden."
View: Incorporation Document for “Christians in Sweden”
Epilogue to Propp's Purging
From 1999 to the present (2011) 24 Alberta meetings were reported where the Elder and his wife were either excommunicated or opted to give up their meeting. In addition, at least 200 Alberta Friends were Ex-communicated or left meetings, and at least one worker (Marg Magowan) was put out of the work..
Willis Propp is 90 years old and lives in an assisted living facility in Alberta. He is shown on the 2011 Workers List as "Hon Mention"
Jim Knipe went to labor in Argentina, South America in 2000. Ten years later, he is still laboring there.
Mark Huddle was the Alberta Overseer for a short time, but left to take Sydney Holt's place as Overseer of Washington, when Sydney died.
Merlin Affleck then became Overseer of Alberta, and is the current Overseer.
Dale Shultz went to be the Overseer of California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Pacific Islands in 2003.
Jim Atcheson became Overseer of Saskatchewan in 2004.
Jack Price was replaced as Overseer of Montana and returned to preach in Canada. He is now resting in a care facility.
Eldon W. Kendrew is married and lives in Southern Alberta
Richard Knight is in the work in Manitoba
Dan Hofer was involuntarily transferred off the Alberta Workers’ staff to the Ontario staff and later left the work.
Joshua Tschetter was involuntarily transferred off the Alberta Workers’ staff to the B.C. staff, and still in the work.
These have passed away: Eldon Tenniswood, Sydney Holt, Roland Jackson, Dennis Einboden (July 25, 2007)
RIS: 1996 Discovery of Incorporation of the 2x2 Church in Alberta, Canada
Incorporation Document & Dissolution
TTT: Copies of letters in TTT Photo Gallery
TTT: Willis Propp's Letter
TTT: Dale Shultz's Letter
Willis Propp’s 1997 Petroleum and Natural Gas Lease with Scott Land & Lease Ltd.
LINK to Lease
LINK to Caveat
LINK to Title Cancellation
The Margaret ("Marg") Magowan Account
Incorporation Document in Sweden as “Christians in Sweden”
The attendance record of the first board meeting for the Christians in Sweden corporation was signed by the senior worker in
Go to Chapter 29
Go to Top of Page