Sun, January 16, 2011 7:51:17 PMI witnessed the birth of the FF From: Cal Covert

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I stumbled on your site. Very interesting. I'd like to make a contribution to the early history of the Forever Family.

"The Message," the coffee house where ST began to collect his flock, was started in the winter of 1971 by my father- Harold Covert. The coffee house attracted a broad spectrum of people: hippies, church goers, pastors even a body builder (Bob Whipple).

I was 13 at the time and I attended right from the beginning because my dad would bring me. I was not interested in surrendering my life to Christ, but I was intrigued. I continued to go every Saturday night and listened intently to the attendee's testimonies of how Christ rescued them from all kinds of destructive lifestyles. Jingo's story was one that stood out to me. Another was Wayne, a former Hell's Angel.

In the midst of it all, Stewart was gathering small discussion groups and carrying on about mostly nonsense. A few people began showing up with Get Smart, Get Saved buttons.

On July 17,1971 I gave my heart totally to Jesus. I have never turned back since. About that same time, Stewart began to assert himself. More than half of the people attending The Message felt his teaching was full of error and disruptive. My father asked Stewart to no longer attend. Stewart came back anyway and My father had a police officer escort him out.

That event precipitated the split which came one Saturday evening (I think in September) when the entire fellowship came together to discuss things. Skip lead the FF side (about half the group), against the other half who wanted Stewart removed. It wasn't pretty. The FF insisted that Stewart was the real bearer of truth and demanded he take the lead. Those opposed stood firm and bid farewell to Skip and his team.

Soon after that, Doug Norwood took over leadership of The Message until it eventually wound down. I went on to attend Lehigh University where I occasionally encountered FF members on campus looking to start an argument. In 1979, I moved to California and lost touch with the progress of the COBU. Your site is a very thorough summary. I'm sorry to learn about how many lives were hurt by ST.

I'm grateful to God for His mercy and unchanging love for me. I know that anyone who made it through the '70s and '80s, in whatever condition, can find wholeness and full redemption in Christ.

Sincerely,

Cal Covert

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Jan 20, 2011, at 1:50 PM, Michael Montoya wrote:

Hello Cal,

I was wondering if you can recall what ST argued about and what was the whole layout of the Message Coffee house. Did ST go there prior to the FF becoming his group? Did he come there and ....do what or say what? What was your Dad's impression of ST? And when the final showdown happened, what did that look like? What was the main argument? Was St trying to be the leader of the coffee house or was he trying to get everyone there to acknowledge him? I am not clear on the events and the actions that led to this decisive confrontation. Do you know if Jingo is still alive and there was someone named Tinker.

Thank you again for writing this. I do know if you know how significant your email is for some ex-members who still believe that ST started out as a "right" leader or a "faithful" christian.

I was 13 when I got saved in 1975.

The Lord Bless you.

Thank you again for writing.

m

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Re: I witnessed the birth of the FF

From: Cal Covert

To: Michael Montoya

Hi Michael,

Some things are hard to recall as it was almost exactly 40 years ago. I do remember meeting ST for the first time. The memory is like it happened yesterday. He had a large presence and great charisma. I think what initially drew me to ST, like so many others, was that he was so unique. You just wanted to know what this character was all about.

The Message met every Saturday night in a small Presbyterian church whose elderly congregation was near fully dissipated. The first 2 hours was a big free for all. People hung out on chairs and tables in 3 different rooms. Discussion groups spontaneously formed everywhere, even in the parking lot. It was a great forum for discussing what life is all about. Every discussion was spiritual. Everyone wanted to tackle the issues surrounding the gospel.

After the discussion time, everyone moved into the sanctuary for worship. My recollection is that on just about every Saturday night one or more people came to Christ. It was a remarkable thing to be a part of.

ST and a hand full of his followers attended the Message right from the beginning. People were often drawn to ST's discussion group because he was typically very animated. I remember that during the first three months or so ST and my dad got along well (my dad actually got along with just about everyone).

Sometime around the 4th or 5th month after its inception, The Message grew to an average attendance of between 50 - 75 people. It was then that the tensions grew with ST. Some attendees were mature Christians, most were new believers or unbelievers. I distinctly remember that some of the mature believers began to challenge ST's behavior. He was increasingly trying to draw more attention to himself. His tone was becoming condescending and he would occasionally go into rants that no one could quite follow.

It had become clear to my dad that ST was trying to gain control over people. He was positioning himself as a leader possessing a more profound truth and deeper understanding than anyone else. ST was confronted by several people who felt his behavior in the discussion groups was too confrontative, confusing and even repelling.

After Dad had ST removed, his followers began to spread untruths about my dad. Their objective was to gain enough supporters to oust my dad so that ST could return and lead The Message. On that Saturday evening when the discord had reached its peak, my dad stopped all the discussions and told everyone to gather in a central location. Dad opened it up for discussion and answered everyone's questions on why ST was removed. The main reason given by my dad, and others, was that ST was not promoting the true gospel. The mature believers were sharing the good news with hearts full of love and respect as they sought to draw people to Christ alone. The ST gospel was get saved from hell and pledge allegiance to ST. To those of us who saw it, there was absolutely no question what ST's intentions were.

I lost touch with everyone I knew from the FF. I remember Little John very well. Ask him if he remembers Slat.

God Bless