Odessa American: Children of God Evicted From Ranch

From XFamily - Children of God

'Children of God' Evicted From Ranch

Odessa American/1971-10-01

For The Associated Press

THURBER, Tex. (AP) - The Children of God, a sect of the youthful Jesus movement, Thursday was being evicted from its promised land on a 400-acre ranch six miles from here.

"We have to be off the place no later than Monday," said Amos, a former Southern Baptist evangelical minister who acted as spokesman.

He and Louis ingersoll, known to the "children" as Abel, keeper of the sheep, said the eviction came after a disagreement with the ranch owner, The Rev. J. Fred Jordan, a Los Angeles TV producer who has a Sunday television show.

Members of the Children of God have been featured many times on his TV show since his Church in the Home, also known as American Soul Clinic, "adopted" them in early 1970.

The Rev. Mr. Jordan's ranch near this ghost town in West Texas has been known as the Texas Soul Clinic and its Children of God population has mushroomed until Wednesday morning there were some 360 young adults and 40 children here.

"We didn't have anything in writing," said Ingersoll. "He got angry when some our youth asked some of his promises, such as reimbursing for supplies used in building the fence here at the Texas Soul Clinic. "First to be evicted were leaders of our group at a ranch he owns at Coachella, near Indio, and a building he owns where some 90 of our Children of God were housed in Los Angeles," Ingersoll said.

He said the 90 residents of the building and their leaders had to sleep in MacArthur Park Sunday and Monday night.

"But I understand they have been allowed to get their belongings and are enroute to our communes in San Diego and up in the Pacific Northwest." Amos, who is moving his wife, Abigail and four children, ages 2, 7, and 9, "wherever the Lord sends us with our Children of God," said the sect "has found the real meaning of Jesus through communal living like that of the early church."

"The Lord will have to open the door for us now", said Amos. "We got this letter yesterday (Wednesday) morning from the American Soul Clinic in California telling us to leave here within ten days and it was three days old when we received it."

"Most of us stayed up all night packing. Many of the house trailers and a lot of our people moved out today. "We're have a rough time of it moving people and little children. We have about 100 vehicles, counting cars, buses, trucks and house trailers. And we must be careful to know where everyone goes so that when parents across the country call our place in Dallas we can tell them where each is."

A blue haze hung over the mesquite and scrub oak along the ridge of the red clay hill which had been the promised land for the Children of God since February, 1970.

"We have been so happy here" said Martha, 26, a pretty, lithe brunette from Southern California. "We have trained hundreds of young men and women who came to us as I once was, a drug user. These hundreds have gone out into the world, some even returned to their homes, to spread the word of Jesus."

Erath County Deputy Sheriff Jack Perry said he and Sheriff Ernest Huckaby "haven't had any trouble from these folks, none at all."

"We haven't had a single complaint from anybody in the whole area since they've been there. Only trouble they've caused us is carrying messages there once in a while when parents called us to get word through to children."

Oscar Gordon, who dispenses gasoline and oil at the Ghost Town Cafe and Service Station at Thurber for owner Randy Bennett, said the neighboring Children of God "are fine folks." "I've been here 74 years and never seen better folks... They bothered nobody," Gordon said.

He said as many as 50 or 75 cars a day sometimes turned off Interstate 20 at the Thurber corner and went to visit the Texas Soul Clinic.

Thursday afternoon as the exodus continued, Amos and other leaders worried about how they could transport the dozens of chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs and cows to "colonies" elsewhere.

"Many of our people will be going to sites in the Pacific Northwest, particularly the state of Washington," he predicted.

Amos said some of the sites had been made available by the Jesus People Army of Washington State and Canada which, along with the House of Judah at Atlanta, Ga., recently merged with the Children of God.

Ingersoll and his wife, Dale, will continue to man the headquarters at telephone 827-8850, Dallas, and help parents learn where their children are transferred.

"We have places in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Houston, but this was the only one in the country and the only one which could really house more than a handful of Children of God," fretted Dale.