A new A&E cable documentary series, “The Devil Next Door” presents stories of the Word of Faith Fellowship Church (WoFF) in Rutherford County, N.C. when it airs its six-part docu-series this week through the eyes of the church’s former members. The series airs on A&E starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27. Episodes will air weekly through Dec. 18 and then the last two episodes will air in January. (It may also be viewed through other TV platforms and Amazon, iTunes, and GooglePlay.)
“Having interviewed about 30+ ex-members, residents of Rutherford County, and media who covered the ongoing Word of Faith Fellowship events, our coverage focuses on the stories of six specific ex-members,” said Melissa Koshir, senior manager of publicity for the network.
Collins Avenue TV production company out of Los Angeles Collins Avenue is a premier non-fiction television production company that develops, sells, produces and licenses shows and formats domestically and internationally. Collins Avenue began talking with former members in March 2017 and did in-depth interviews with Jamey Anderson, Sarah Anderson, Chad Cooper, John Huddle and Ben and Micah Cooper in the series. These former members of the controversial church unveil their stories of the church and its alleged abuse against them and others.
Veteran producer Frances Gasparini served as the executive producer of the docu-series and coordinated N.C. shooting crews and locations in Charlotte, Spindale, Rutherfordton, Rutherford County, and Greenville, S.C.
This docu-series follows the former members as they try to bring awareness to the community and the government of the alleged injustices going on behind closed doors.
Additionally, many of the ex-members left family still inside the church. There are still efforts made to convince loved ones to leave WoFF through community outreach forums, enlisting the help of the local media and working alongside the federal government. (Ed. note: RC Catalyst was one of the first to publish these efforts.)
It is not the first time Word of Faith Fellowship has been scrutinized. In the 1990s, Inside Edition videoed the church’s practice of blasting, yelling at members in an attempt to drive out the devil, and possible child abuse. Lawsuits have been won and lost regarding physical assault.
The Dept. of Social Services was successfully sued by the church for its investigations of alleged child abuse. Some video is presented of WoFF members at the DSS meeting where exmembers came to protest the agreement Executive Director John Carroll had agreed to regarding WoFF child abuse investigations. The State has since adopted some new protocols with respect to complaints to DSS regarding WoFF members.
Though it is barely mentioned, Matthew Fenner with great difficulty brought charges against five then-WoFF members for assault. Only one case has been tried since District Attorney Ted Bell took office 4 years ago. It ended in a mistrial. Featured series ex-member Sarah Anderson is a defendant in that case.
Later the Associated Press in its investigations also reported on the allegations of abuse, potential unemployment fraud, and possible human trafficking. However the Brazilian justice system opined the church was not guilty. The Word of Faith Fellowship Church denies any wrongdoing.
Series producer Gasparini says that even though the series was unable to interview Pastor Jane Whaley or current members the series is not lacking. “The series is not sensationalized. Our goal was not to editorialize, but to allow the stories to speak for themselves.”