There has been discussion over the last 20 years between people on message boards and in the media that refers to Maranatha Campus Ministries/Maranatha Christian Church as having disbanded in 1989/1990. However, this cult has not disbanded or disappeared as a destructive movenement at all. Neither have they changed any of their destructive practices as one may also read. They have merely changed their corporate and organizational structure, the names of individual groups, and moved their now unofficial headquarters overseas to Brazil and somewhere in Western Europe.
MCM/MCC was a federation of "churches" based in Florida that was one corporation/"ministry" created and headed by Bob Weiner. Following charges of cult behavior, getting banned from universities, and subsequently Bob Weiner's departure from the organization, the MCM/MCM stated that they were disbanding as a federation of churches and implied that they were no longer a problem. BTW...Weiner started another "ministry" after leaving MCM/MCC known as Weiner Ministries...Nazis didn't become safe when Hitler died...Hitler didn't become a Saint when he went to hell.
Following the "breakup", MCM/MCC stated that individual groups would run independantly to prevent further abuse. For a group that was labeled as destructive to simply restructure, any belief that there has been any decrease in the potential for the negative impacts of its practices and teachings is a mistake. Today, it is only more difficult to identify, monitor, and hold accountable those groups and leaders that remain. This is a group that boasts its intention to hide where they are, what they do, and when they do it and is dedicated to whatever it takes to keep people from leaving.
Before, MCM/MCC was a federation. One short and wide pyramidal organization. Now, MCM/MCC is a collection of independantly run and pyramidally-structured groups and corporations that still adheres to the same doctrine and practices as before. I say corporations because some of the groups incorporate so they can get non-profit status and avoid paying taxes on "donations". Individual leaders may have jurisdiction over several "churches" in multiple cities and states.
Reports in the media by Maranatha officials claim changes in the practices and teachings since the report released by the Christian Research Institute. However, if one browses their website it is clear that the same practices and teachings are in place. They even refer to statements made in the report by the Christian Research Institute and make it clear that they don't plan on changing.
Conceptualize it like this. McDonalds comes under great criticism for the negative impact their restaurants' food, business structure/practices, and advertising methods have on people. A report is released that identifies specifically those foods, business structures/practices, and advertising methods that have a negative impact. In an effort to combat this problem and make amends, the CEO of McDonalds steps down and creates Burger King. McDonalds is no longer registered as a coporation, instead each individual franchise owner takes over as having sole control and continues doing everything the same, those franchise owners even open up more restaurants. Only they change their name a little bit to create some distance from the former parent corporation. The food, the business model, the subversive advertising is the same. Only now, people dont know that they are going to McDonalds. Is it safer?
MCM/MCC is now presenting themselves as Maranatha Christian Fellowship. They are still up to no good. They are still targeting colleges and busy areas. They are still having negative impacts on the lives of the people involved.
I lost a close friend because of them. I dealt with/am dealing with years of confusiuon, psychological turmoil, and emotional pain. I wasn't even a full member, I just dated one.
[color=darkred:abf4a03399]Here is their website. It is kinda tricky and hard to follow. Compare the findings of the Christian Research Institute (on the Rick Ross Institute's database of groups under Maranatha) and what is currently on their website. Look at and read everything. Their message is scattered throughout the entire site.[/color:abf4a03399]
[color=darkred:abf4a03399]Here is where you can see the connection between a Maranatha Christian Fellowship and the allegedly disbanded Maranatha Christian Church. Notice the location of their "church's" to college campus's. After I got suspicious of the MCF in Wheaton, IL, I did some research. In 2006, I sent an email to one of the "pastors" asking if they were affiliated with the campus cult of the 80's. I never got a response and now access to location, service, and pastor information is password protected. Luckily the page was cached by zoominfo in 2005.[/color:abf4a03399]
Have you or has anyone you know recently been impacted by the MCC/MCM/MCF?
How do you feel about a group getting non-profit status because claims they are a church that advances religion and does charity when they have previously been labeled as a "destructive cult" and a "concern for the christian and non-christian community"?
Has anyone discovered any Maranatha groups in their community?
Do you believe in the value of speaking up and out about these kinds of groups?
Ideas on how to deal with the presence of a Maranatha "Christian" "Church" in your community
Just saying that yes, this Maranatha group is very active in Brazil and elsewhere. In fact, I am currently staying with a family down here that is very much involved with the church in Espirito Santo. If anyone has questions or issues they would like me to look into while I am here, I'd be glad to do so. I'll be in direct contact with several church members throughout the summer, so let me know if there is anything I can do to help out with keeping an eye on this sort of thing.
Just to clear up some misconceptions (in case anyone even cares--I just happened to come across this forum while searching "Maranatha Christian Fellowship Wheaton" in Google), I have been an active member of the Wheaton Maranatha Christian Fellowship since 1995. This group is not a cult. It has nothing to do with Maranatha Ministries, the college campus based ministry. It was started in Vila Velha - Espírito Santo, Brazil (where Alexey (see comment above) was staying). I know about Maranatha Ministries because one of my coworkers at LOGOS bookstore in Westwood by the UCLA campus back in the early 80's used to be involved with that group and got out. She told me all about it, and the Wheaton Maranatha Christian Fellowship has nothing to do with that group. Anyone who says it does is simply wrong.
I am a former member of Igreja Crista Maranata (Maranatha Christian Church). My depature from the group has been a long time coming. I've left for the following reasons:
* The group has not lived up to the continual reminders of us doing everything by God's revelation. While this hasn't been always stated clearly, it is something understood by many members based on criticism from their puplits (especially in seminars) about other groups, leading one to conclude, that this group is the exception. Most groups do not lead their members to believe this, and are more realistic and humble (which is why I'm not picking on them). Striving to do everything by "revelation" is a noble, goal, and I do believe many in Maranatha are committed to this goal, but are not realistic or open enough about the human factor, given their unwillingness or inability to hold their leaders accountable. Until this changes I cannot recommend this group any more.
* I recognize the Body of Christ, and faithful Christians, are not only to be found in Maranatha. Again, while this is not always stated directly, it is something understood by many members. When backed into a corner, most members and pastors will freely admit that this can be found in other groups, although this admission rings hollow for me. I wanted to be free to gather with other Christians and groups without feeling judged or punished for it. This is something frowned upon, and has been reported to have limited people in what they could do in Maranatha (because they are "in religion" and have "not understood the Work"). Until this changes, in a meaningful way, I cannot recommend this group any more.
* Former pastors, members have been treated as apostates and spiritually dead. While not all people leave denominations for noble reasons - this certainly is not true of all of them. While it is wise to exercise caution, I believe there is again an unwritten and unofficial code in place in Maranatha to shun former members regardless of what led to their departure. Until this changes, I cannot recommend this group any more.
* In the media in Brazil, Maranatha is currently the subject of a major church scandal involving money laundering, and related crimes. The investigation into has touched the highest levels of leadership in the organization. Administratively, the organization has taken some positive steps to prevent future misuse of church resources. Spiritually, myself and many others have detected a lot of whitewashing in the preaching and seminars. There seems to be a lack of humility and realism among the leadership and members regarding this. When King David was caught in sin, he repented. Up until now I have seen no repentance from the leaders who have preached in the past that Maranatha is "The Work of David". If there is even one sin to be repented of, it should be been long repented of by now. Unless they are 100% sinless in this matter, then they should repent. This scandal in my mind cannot be much different from all the other scandals in the Christian world. This plus other inconsistencies others have personally witnessed in the leadership do not give me any confidence to believe they have no reason to repent. Until this changes, I cannot recommend this group any more.
In my following posts I will discuss doctrines and practices of the group, so others can make an informed decision before considering this group. I believe my previous post was fair and balanced. I welcome any feedback.