Dear Former COBUers,
As I have been reading your e-mails and 'listening in' on various
discussions, I felt the need to really sit down and write out my
personal experiences with the fellowship, what I remember
and felt during the years I was a part of it all, and what I have
felt and thought since then.  It's really long, so I'm going to
post it in sections each week.  For those of you who aren't
interested, please delete this message now and ignore
the future postings from me about this (or anything else, for
that matter, if you so choose!)  I've tried to be as honest
and detailed as possible, though I know there are many
things I've forgotten, and other brothers and sisters may
have very different viewpoints about experiences we
all shared.

My hope is that this may be as healing and
enlightening to those of you who choose to read it,
as it was for me to relive and write it.

>  Beverly D.'s Testimony, Part 1
> When I joined the Forever Family in October 1975, I was fourteen
> years old.  Bobby and Pat Whipple ‘led me to Jesus’, and I was
> overwhelmed by the spirit, charisma and love between the two of
> them.  This was something I wanted for myself, as well as a ‘close,
> personal relationship with Jesus.’
>  My father let me move into the new York, Pennsylvania fellowship on
> King Street, paying the fellowship some nominal amount of money
> for my room and board, as my stepmother didn’t want me around
>(my mother had died of cancer  when I was ten.)  I didn’t miss them
> at all - I was too busy learning my 12 verses of John to get my
> ‘Get Smart Get Saved’ button, determined to
> do it in record time, and forming bonds with my new spiritual sisters.
> Ann Burkhardt was my guardian - I think she was about 19, but I
> thought at the time she was so mature and wise!  I loved living in the
> fellowship, although, of course, we never had any money and
> sometimes we were SO hungry.  I remember how there were days
> we lived on cinnamon toast - then after the butter ran out, on toast
> with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on dry toast, then on plain
> dry toast.  I remember eating oddball things that were donated
> to us, like whole wheat spaghetti, and whole wheat pancake
> mix, that sat in your stomach like a bowling ball.

> After Tim McAndrews came in as fellowship leader, with his
> then-fiancee, Linda Haas, things got a lot better, food wise
> and I think spiritually too, though I was too young and
> oblivious then to notice much discord among the ‘older’
> brothers and sisters, if there was any.  In those days,
> brothers and sisters came every week from Harrisburg,
> Lancaster & Reading for the weekly ‘Center Meetings’,
> because York had the biggest living room/area,
> a long, cold, narrow barn of a room, with a splintery wooden floor
> (Careful of your knees when you pray!)  I remember my first ‘Big
> Meeting’, in an airplane hanger in New York?, something like that,
> and there was some to-do about how we couldn’t meet where
> we had wanted to, because Stewart’s evil estranged wife could
> have him arrested if he went into that state (Ohio?  New Jersey?),
> and how he had to divorce her for adultery, because the
> Bible said a man could only remarry if he divorced
> his wife for adultery.  I slept through most of Stewart’s
> teaching/preaching during that meeting, but for all the
> ones that followed, I was wide awake and spellbound by
> his eloquence.  I thought he was truly inspired by God.
> The next Big Meeting, I believe, was in January ‘76, in a big
> warehouse, when we voted to adopt the name Church of we
> Bible Understanding, so we would sound less like a cult, and
> began talking about the Colored Bible.
> In the spring of ‘76, the York fellowship moved from King
> Street to a storefront with apartments above it on
> Philadelphia & Newberry Streets - a much smaller
> living room area, but a prime location for all the teenagers who
> cruised Philly & Market Streets in their cars (there not being
> much else to do in York.)  Tim put up a big wooden sign in
> the display window facing Philadelphia Street,
> “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord...” (Isaiah 1:18).
> We met in Lancaster now for the Center Meetings, often
> driving in the big surplus delivery trucks we had picked
> up from somewhere.
> In the spring of ‘76 my father also decided to divorce my
> stepmother and told me I had to move back in with him.
>  I didn’t want to go, but really had no choice, being 15.
> He did let me continue to live in the fellowship for the
> summer.  In June, I went to Harrisburg for a month, living in that
> wonderful, trippy house that had belonged to a mortuary and
> then some other cult before we got it, painted with Alice in
> Wonderland in the upstairs hall, the ‘space corner’ in the
> downstairs living room, and the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine
>  in the basement.  Sheila had had the attic as her room,
> but was embarrassed by the murals of topless native women
> carrying woven baskets of food? on their heads, so she’d painted
> bras on them.  This was the time that the New York Training
> Center was just beginning to form, so Harrisburg was closing
> down, some going to New York, some being disbursed
> to other fellowships.  Sheila went to Reading, as did Tim Aument
> & I.  I don’t remember who the fellowship leader was in
> Reading then - all I remember is that since I brought my cat,
> Charcoal, and they made me feed her in the basement, but the
> brothers were too busy (lazy?) to repair/replace the broken
> windows there, strays were coming in for the cat food, and the
> fellowship became invested with fleas.  You had to jump into
> bed and brush them off your ankles, it got so bad at one point.
> In the fall of ‘76 I returned to York, and now had to live with my
> dad.  I would get up in the morning and go to school, come
> home from school & do my homework, then immediately
> walk down to the fellowship, live in for the weekends and go
> with them to the Center Meetings, etc.  The one good thing
> was the place my dad chose to move to was only a few blocks
> away.  Of course, we went witnessing almost every
> night - sometimes we’d go to high school basketball or
> football games, sometimes we’d go to the malls.  We
> could only show up at the malls so often, because sometimes
> Security would get ticked off and throw us out
> immediately, even if we didn’t wear our buttons.
> Sometimes we’d go ‘downtown’, but in the winter months in
> York, NOBODY was on the streets excepts winos and
> crazies.  I think we all hated to go witnessing (more than
> usual!) when it was so cold outside, especially when
> it was not just freezing cold but windy, but hey, one had
> to mortify the flesh and please Jesus and all that
> stuff, right?  I probably wasn’t the only one who much
> preferred the (few) winter nights when we stayed in
> the fellowship, warm and cozy, doing Bible studies.
> To be continued...