RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. – Former members of the Word of Faith Fellowship (WoFF) church in Rutherford County shared their stories at a community forum last Saturday. One after another gave testimony about the church they grew up in and who allege they were abused physically and psychologically there. A documentary film crew was there to record their accounts.
Former members hope by sharing their personal success stories they will empower current members to leave.
“I can’t be a bystander and let my nieces and nephews go through the same things I did with this cult,” a former member said.
“Fear of leaving is what keeps people there,” another former member said.
Word of Faith Fellowship and some of its members are at the center of several local, state and federal investigations.
- Former assistant district attorneys and members of WoFF Frank Webster and Chris Back are alleged to have coached children on how to respond to Department of Social Services child abuse and other investigations.”They coached us on very specifically on what we had to say to DSS (Department of Social Services),” a former member said. “I knew there would be punishment if I said something I wasn’t supposed to say.”
- Former member Matthew Fenner accused five members of the church of assault during a 2013 blasting session because he’s gay. The first trial ended in mistral and has not been rescheduled. Four cases were sent to Buncombe County in a change of venue ruling.
- Related Brazilian churches had a hearing April 11, 2018 to face possible charges of slave labor.
- Allegations of unemployment fraud in NC
- Exploration by Brazil into possible human trafficking to US.
The WoFF church has repeatedly denied the accusations and has posted several video testimonies on its website in response to Associated Press articles. Word of Faith minister Jane Whaley recently stated that these allegations were all a part of a conspiracy to discredit the church by the Cooper family. Then she added, ““All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2nd Tim 3:12).
Whaley was not in attendance at the forum.