How a fellowship turned church became a cult.

In the 1970’s there was a big Jesus Movement going on and many cults formed, some famous and others went underground. One such group formed out of a network of fellowships of young people who wanted to follow Jesus. I met and joined this group but unlike the majority of the others I was already a Christian, joining to gain more bible knowledge. This was a very nice loose knit trusting group of young people whose lives were later irreputably damaged, some beyond control and others are still captive to what turned into madness.

A narcissistic sociopath who married a 16 yr old girl and saddled her with 5 children, was a  HS grad with plans on making a cyclotron and later through his mental illness and greed for power and  money was living in a broken down bus and later low income housing as an outcast heard of these young people.

He did some research, made up some off the wall bible studies and introduced himself to these kids and gradually brought in his ‘special knowledge’ bible studies. He was charismatic, ingenious, a con man and visited often and started slowly to use his cunning  devilish understanding of human nature to gain trust and encouraged the kids to keep witnessing and making the group larger and larger for the kingdom of God or so they thought. He always talked of the day they would have 1000 members together to give God glory [failing to mention he was setting himself to be the God they had to glory!]

AS the time drew close, his wife then about 30, knew what he had been doing to her all those years and was now preparing to launch on these unwitting youth, stood up to him and tried to stop him. Being the narcissist he was,  he cleverly devised a plan to discredit her, long before the 1000 meeting arrived and by that time he convinced his then followers to start to support him in his studies ,as he was going to be the one to expose the Antichrist when the end times arrived.

He meanwhile was beginning to brainwash a young impressionable teenaged girl that had become one of his many secretaries and his wife tried to tell everyone that he planned on dumping her for this young girl.

This guy was then about 39 yrs old. The time came for the 1000 meeting and he announced that the group was now large enough and committed enough to apply for status as a ”real church’, mind you he had no bible degrees. Everyone was excited to be recognized as part of a ‘real church’. He then pretended to have every vote on a new name for the church and after the voting, since there were so many possibilities, that he suggested the name [he already chosen ahead of time] which was the Church of Bible Understanding, later referred to as the COBU.

Shortly after he staged different events to drive his wife away and discredit her enough to be able to gain sympathy from the group to divorce her and have the group pay for it and help him gain custody of his children. He said he needed his children to fulfill the requirements of being able to lead the new  church, since he claimed he ‘had to have rule over his own household and all agreed.

In summer of 1975 his wife was cast out and he was in the driver’s seat. Until that time everyone had their own ‘worldly’ jobs and only contributed to the costs of their own fellowships, like roommates do and when a meeting was held that he spoke at, a  love offering was taken up.

Now the change began in Spring of 1976. Word was sent out that tax status was approved. Now instead of some who were out of work and didn’t eat [ as they didn’t share food in the fellowships, since IF you don’t work you don’t eat” was the justification in the bible. I was by then in my 4th  fellowship, that I began to feed everyone, regardless to if they worked and paid for it or not, out of my own earnings.

He came and asked me why and I told him that it was cheaper for me to cook a large meal and share it than to simply eat out in restaurants and know somebody was hungry at home. He pondered it and said I had a good idea. What I didn’t realize he was going to use my idea to further swindle everyone.

Word was sent out that we now were going to take advantage of the new tax exemption by ‘donating our entire salaries’ and as a group could buy things wholesale, including food and clothing and all benefit from it. If you needed something, you simply had to put in a request [however doing so would indicate you were in the flesh and not sacrificing so few put in any requests]

Some center leaders left as they knew it was wrong, but he placed  new leaders in power to encourage everyone to give it their all. After all the bible said all who believed were together and shared everything in common. He found verses to back up all his new militant actions and the majority complied. Disgruntled were quickly discredited and most left. He no longer needed them, there were many new ones joining every day.

His next move was to announce that since his wife ‘backslid’ that Jesus wanted him to have a family with a wife that obeyed Jesus and amazingly it was the same girl his wife said he was after a year earlier!

This caused more to leave the group, who knew the truth. He didnt care, because as he often spoke about priming the pump…once we passed the 1000 mark, he had plenty to fall back on.

Now all the salaries were being collected and he gradually had his lieutenants close down  the regular houses and they bought up old dilapidated  warehouses and began filtering people into the warehouses, most were uninhabitable by any legal standards. He  uprooted people systematically from the cities they lived at and moved them to the ‘PIT’ as it was called in NYC. He didn’t care who skipped out or escaped because he had a dedicated workforce that went out daily recruiting, thinking they were serving God still and bringing in new converts. The difference was that everyone was split up and those meaning well didn’t know what he was actually doing, but thought they were serving God still. He now had a following, money and power and by dislocating his followers kept all off balanced, created the jobs he wanted them to do in NYC and he reaped all the money of their labors and still does to this day.

To cover up some of his game, he opened a ‘mission’ in Haiti to make his new ‘church’ look legitimate and to fool any new converts, as they were working for a “good cause”. What really was happening was that he was collecting enormous donations, supposedly to help the starving children in Haiti, taking the physical donations and selling them on e-bay and in a sub store making millions!

Meanwhile he had a slave labor force estimated at about 1000 and for years afterwards varying amounts of people. He had his followers target many homeless people in NYC and take them in, give them showers and a change of clothing and put them to work. In exchange people were given $1 a day  and still do, but some don’t even get the$1~ To maintain control, people are continuously brainwashed that to leave is to backslide and go to Hell. While ‘in’ they are deprived of all outside news and social activity, so they are then unable to re-enter the world. These people have become collectively ‘his wife’ and he abuses them all,  as any narcissist would. He doesn’t live with them.They live in squalor. He now has 4personal jets, and a condo in Florida that no one can approach. He has cultivated ‘underlings’ running it and reporting to him. He comes and mentally beats everyone up telling them such, “If you leave you will commit suicide” and ” You will be a homosexual and homeless” and the like.

Out of fear and mental exhaustion, some have now stayed ‘in’ for over 30 yrs and he has them so brainwashed and isolated that no one can do a thing.They are powerless to change. Many current and former members can not even agree as to whether this is a cult!

They have been told that if it were a cult that they believed in vain and that shatters them even more. Some have already committed suicide and other have died. He exploits the deaths as God’s wrath for disobeying him and therefore keeps many captives and many on the outside impotent to lead normal lives. I am talking about 40,000+ people over a 34 year span!~~~

There have been a few investigations into the group. One of their side businesses “Christian Brothers Carpet Cleaning” in NYC has even been mentioned jokingly in an old Seinfeld skit. People that finally break away are often too afraid to talk as they fear going to Hell… He has them sewed up in believing his lies. SOME, a few hundred anyway have banded together on line in a private group to discuss all that has happened to them in the group and since they left the group. Some have rejoined the cult at times and left again. Some have re-entered organized religion and have survived although deeply scarred for life, others have become recluses and misfits , mentally handicapped or entered abusive marriages with lesser narcissists  because of the brainwashing they received and familiarity to being mistreated as being normal.

This leader, however,  still lives in luxury, did marry that 19 yr old over 30 yrs ago and now that her health is failing from an accident, has already lined up the young daughter of an outcast member who is powerless to save his daughter!

Everyone can agree that he is a narcissist and not of God. Some do however still have conflicts as to whether he ever even believed in God. Marriages were basically banned  since no one was worthy to be married [as an unnecessary expense] and there are few that have managed to marry and remain in the group. Marriages were broken up routinely and he took on a series of ‘half-wives’ who were women not allowed to marry anyone but to become part of his harem.

The survivors group is getting stronger and some have gone in and out of the cult trying to rescue others they care about. Til now no gov’t agency has been able to crack the group and hold this maniac accountable. Some members have been in for 30+ yrs and fear the outside too much. The leader is now in his 70’s and the consensus is, that he will someday be causing them all to commit mass suicide once like Jim Jones.

If you have dealt with lesser men of his nature, who have devastated their families and or communities, if you can address this issue you might help save the lives of hundreds of people and help heal the hurts of all those in the survivors groups, who still struggle daily over this injustice and inhumanity that  this fiend perpetrates on us all.

I was witness to many of the things that took place during the transition and have access to many files dealing with the things he committed to back up what I have told here. I am in contact with some of the survivors privately online and if you can bring this to light you can do a tremendous service to God and mankind.

I hope this story  isn’t overlooked and that you can bring it to the public’s awareness. I have alot of research to support what I am telling you and can probably supply you  more witnesses to prove it all. Many are afraid to come forward or have their names known. Others, like me are no longer afraid for ourselves but for those still in his clutches.


Ave Hurley


25 thoughts on “How a fellowship turned church became a cult.

  1. Pingback: Blogs I found this week, come on in! « ANDREA’S WORLD

  2. my sister has been in this cult for over 30 years. she is married to one the higher ups. he is a bad person to say the least. two of her kids recently left the cult but a third remains. not sure there is any hope for my sister – anyway to help get her daughter out.

  3. I joined the COBU in1976,as a 15 year old girl.I left in 1977,but when I quit,my Mother joined it!I suffer to this day from the spiritual terrorism they put me through…I have terrifying religious obsessions,which can be triggered by some frightening preacher on television,for example.Even though I am a Christian,I still struggle with fears of going to Hell.I am scared of this minister on television,because his teachings remind me of the COBU.He teaches that you have to achieve a 100% sin free state(after accepting Christ),or you will still go to Hell.He says that those who speak against his”miracles”(he is a faith healer)have “blasphemed the Holy Spirit!” I really think that the reason I suffer all these weird fears about religion,is because of the brainwashing I experienced in the cult. If anyone from the COBU would like to contact me,they can at My real name is Alease Brink Davis,and I live in Cleveland.I remember Donna Deming,Doreen Bobek,Irene and Nancy Penko,Perry Pennza.Pat Bildstein,Laurie Deveney,Rick Upson,Ivan Aquino,Jimmie Greiner,Ann Lashley,Celeste Mamano,Sheila Willis,Malcolm Ryder…sometimes it seems like it was only yesterday,and not 33 years ago.I hold no grudges against anyone in the COBU,we all did what we thought was God’s will.I would love to hear from former COBU members.Have you been affected as I have,with fears?

  4. Do any of you former COBU’ers find that certain things will trigger”flashback”type experiences?I find that certain ministers will send me into total panic and fear.Legalistic ones,who make it sound like its so easy to “lose your salvation.”Even hearing someone say “backslider,can really bother me.

  5. I was in the COBU/Forever Family from 1975-1978. When I first left I thought that I was the one who was wrong, and that I was an apostate from Jesus. Over the years I have received Spiritual and emotional healing from the Lord, but it did not all occur at once. It has been a very long haul.
    I want to add that we not only worked communally and turned everything over to Stewart, but slept in rat infested lofts (when we did sleep), listened to Stewart’s diatribes late into the night, every night at the Manhattan Training Center, and drove to “Big Meetings” like cattle in the back of dark, cold moving trucks rented from Ryder, Hertz, or another company.
    We thought Stewart was suffering for Jesus too, but he was living large on our Money!
    I do not think Stewart Traill is a true Christian, he is an agent of Satan. When I was in the cult, and after I left it, I believed he was an apostle like Christian. Later I began to believe he was a deceived Christian. Then I began to think he was a very bad Christian. Now I think he is an evil person who not only was never saved, but is ten times worse than some of the most wicked men alive. I’ll leave that up to the Lord, but I have come a long way from believing that Stewart Traill is Elijah/John the Baptist and that he could only fellowship with the Apostles (as he once said).
    Ephesians 2:8&9 is my life scripture, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (I purposely do not use the RSV even though I still like it. It is the FF’s bible!)
    I just left a legalistic church, and although it pales by a thousand times to the legalism of the Forever Family, I can’t stand legalism wherever it may be!

  6. Pingback: I am against Cults-whether different group-or ven evangelical! « Critical Time

    • Thanks Cecile~! If it helps even one person, either recovering from getting out of there or preventing someone from joining there, then it is worth spreading the word about them ~!! GBU~! Have a great week:)Ave

  7. I left COBU in 1979, after having been in deep for two years as a student at the Manhattan “school” and a grunt for the carpet cleaning business. I never worked harder in all my life and got so little back. It took years of reading the Bible on my own for my head to finally clear, and to see what the Bible really means. God does this for all true Christians, because they have the Holy Spirit living inside of them to guide them. Immediately after leaving, I told everyone that Stewart Traill was a criminal, which he is. And his ultimate destination is jail or hell, whichever comes first, unless he repents and accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, as I have.

    • Hi Gerard~!
      You are so right and Praise God you saw through it and that you continued to seek Jesus afterwards~Many have been so adversely affected by what Stewart & the spirits he yielded to that guided his behavior had done to them that it has taken many years for some to recover.Some have gone on into bible colleges and have gone into reputable ministries. Others have gone into other professional fields and for the last dozen years or so former members have been finding one another online and we have some lists, private and open ones that former members write in the forums.

      We started to have reunions every so many years and this year we are having one near Reading Pa, a picnic next weekend.

      If you are in the region and interested, you are most welcome to join us at Blue Marsh Lake outside of Reading next Saturday & some will return there on Sunday as well.

      The group still exists, still has Haiti – only they have gone all corporate and actually get govt funds to help run the Haiti mission.
      Stewart now has 4 planes and lives in a compound in Florida. He has Kevin Brown running things. They became very rich off of the hard work of those they cheated. He certainly does belong in jail for what he has done, but the Lord will deal with him and those who enable him to continue in his way.

      So much has happened since you left but there are still about 40 diehards in it doing Stewarts bidding. We still pray for their release. Some are so brainwashed they simply will not come out. It is estimated that there were more than 40,000 to have passed through their ranks over the years.

      I was saved in 1973 at a Pentacostal church but met them in April of 1975 and thought I could get a bible college education from them and become a missionary. Well it was still the Forever Family when I joined and Stewart was still married to Shirley. The changes began in late 75 as plans were made and implemented in the Spring of 76. I left in July 76.

      My former husband was one of them in the early days but he left a few months ahead of me s he saw through it too. We since were married and raised 5 kids but due to the conditioning while “IN” our marriage had issues from the start. He is at home with the Lord now since Jan 2009. We have 12 grandchildren and 3 of our adult children are married- 2 single sons to go , lol

      If you need anything or wish to talk or look up former friends, feel free to contact me or join any of our groups, [even to observe], but free to post and share what the Lord’s been doing in your life since the HolySpirit rescued you out of them.

  8. God Bless you, Ave. I think you are a wonderful, generous person for setting up this website, and I’m sure there are many souls with untold damage from being in COBU who could use your help. The Lord has blessed my life tremendously. I’ll keep in touch. Brother Gerard

  9. Hi Gerard~
    Thankyou for being in touch.There are so many who have been affected by their tenure in Cobu that in sharing stories and how we each dealth in the aftermath, can prove to be helpful to those still struggling & seeking answers.

  10. Hello everyone.i didnt know the forever family was still out there. i was a member in 1974.i even have a FF tattoo on my arm. I gave a lot to to the FF,money ect.Use to where a big red button, GET smart GET saved,same FF?use to carry alittle bible in a leather pouch. I went to 7 big meetings on Long Island NY.Im from Virginia.Saw alot of people come and go. One day stewart will pay for his sins. AMEN

    • Hi~
      Stewart is still ticking~has about 40-50 diehards, built an empire off everyone’s work efforts taking their paychecks and making them life in squalor – twisted man – lots of inner demons that he has no problem unleashing on others to avoid the truth about himself.

      Current Net Worth of Olde Goode Things is listed as $7.4Million~according to news article in Scranton this week~

      Estimates are that up to 40,000 passed through the gates over the years.Fortunately most survived and many have gone on to serve the Lord and live somewhat normal lives. 70’s were some decade~!

      WE have several former member online forums. Your welcome to check em out and maybe find some old friends or about some old friends.

      There was a ‘Reunion’ last weekend, first in 3 yrs ~ a picnic near Reading with a nice turnout.Everyone had a good time reconnecting and sharing stories of how they have been since getting out of the FF/Cobu.

      I was in from April 1975 til July 1976 and lucky to get out before it got too cultish.Still it had its impact and residual effects.

      Yeah the red button was cool in concept, memorizing the 12 John Heavies in order to get a button to wear, lol. Good witnessing technique or conversation starter.

      That was one of the things I liked about the FF, as I was already saved 2 yrs before meeting them and was amazed that so many young people were into Jesus then.

      It would have been a great ministry had Stewart not come to the first 1000 meeting and went home with Shirley instead.

      That was because he sold out to his lust and greed and began leading people into a spiritual captivity to feed his meglomania~and bank accounts..

      It really went down hill in 76 and some of what others went through in the 80’s-90’s seems even more unreal~

      You are more than welcome to share memories & stories, testimonies etc on our group sites and here if you like 🙂


  11. Dear Ave,

    I have already written to someone I knew thirty-three years ago in COBU. Hopefully, with much prayer, she’ll come out. I don’t mean to clog up your website. If there’s a better venue for expressing myself, let me know. I’ve been trying for years to understand my life in COBU, and hearing comments from survivors got me thinking again.

    As for the question of whether or not Stewart is saved, I give a resounding “NO”.

    The very arrogance of claiming to have the one true interpretation of the Bible puts him in the category of cult leader, along with Jim Jones, Charles T. Russell, The Reverend Moon, Joseph Smith, etc.

    The Holy Spirit has the one true interpretation of the Bible. He indwells all believers (John 14:17). Is He inadequate? Is He false? Stewart is a heretic and a blasphemer. But he’s cunning. Every cult offers a counterfeit salvation.

    This is how Satan keeps people from being saved truly and biblically. The Jehovah’s Witnesses say there are only 144,000 saved, and the rest of us get a shot at serving them in the new world. The Roman Catholics say you’re saved by being baptized as an infant, doing good works, and receiving the sacraments. The Mormons have another fraudulent system. So you get “saved” and join their program. You end up serving a system instead of The Lord Jesus Christ.

    The “problem” with me is that I really did get saved!
    God is true to His word. Romans 10:13 says “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So, I prayed in front of a loft in Greenwich Village in 1976(?), and thus began my Christian life. Every true Christian in COBU is afflicted with an inner conflict: he sees vaguely the real Jesus inside of him, but on the outside he sees a form of piety completely alien to the truth of Christ within him.

    Eventually one wins over the other. In my case, God won. All through my time in COBU, I saw the real nuggets;people full of love and hope, Pilgrim’s Progress, the works of Charles Spurgeon and Watchman Nee, and of course, the Bible, our greatest treasure, which Stewart stole from us. I think his Bible studies were so much gibberish to distract us from the reality of our slavery, or more likely, to reinforce it.

    They put me in the trip apartments with other lost and shattered souls. I thought to myself, how do I get healed from being a trip. Does God heal you? Or do you just get your mind right for the Boss, like in the film Cool Hand Luke?

    In any case, the best trip I made was out the door. In order to understand Stewart, you have to think like a demon. The essence of Stewart’s criminality is that he steals lives, like the thief in John 10. This is aside from all the tax fraud and dishonest labor practices, which hopefully will bring him down one day. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Gerard

  12. Hi Gerard~

    The early fellowship was filled with bubbly, zealous, on fire born again believers that were naiive and trusting and hoping that Stewart was leading them in the way they should go. He instead led them into captivity.

    When we were given “nuggies” in the fellowships and shared comments and looked up our own references and compared verses, I learned so much more in leading me towards understanding scriptures than when I was just going to church before meeting the FF.

    I cant say that I learned understanding from Stewart, even though I dutifully took notes as did most, I found myself going off on tangents based in references he gave which led me into areas of the bible where I was able to understand and grow that it was almost like going down a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland since more often than not, I learned nothing based on Stewarts teachings.

    At first I thought oh maybe he is too spiritual and I am just not getting it, but later on began to realize the Holy Spirit was showing me things that were not in Stewarts teachings, eventually confirming to me at least that he was a con man.

    Still since you can caste your bread on the waters and after many days it will return, despite Stewarts flim flam wordie birdie bible discourses, the Word itself is alive and spoke to me. So Stewart could rattle on but I would be reading the pages he sent us to and then see other things that were more relevant to my life and more to learn.

    Most members if not all, in the early fellowship were Holy Spirit filled so when they too would read the bible and refresh nuggies they too were being fed as he who waters will himself be watered, that perhaps the only thing that Stewart did that had a positve impact on me was in the discipline to get into the bible daily and look for something, anticipate a revelation and seeking God through His Word~which I do not give Stewart any credit for, as he was just using the bible as his tool to ensnare young believers who were seeking knowledge & took advantage of the young and naiive.

    Actually it was the brothers and sisters in fellowship that had impact on me, that daily interaction, prayer time, bible studies, group activities, witnessing and fellowshipping that had the most positive effect on my life.

    This was possible since the Holy Spirit of God is everywhere but the evil spirit that inhabits Stewart can only be in one place at a time and so damage is limited for the present time yet the seeds he plants into hearts, grow into alot of pain, frustration, doubt, fear and disbelief.

    Many gave him credit for what the Holy Spirit was actually doing to them and for them, thinking it was due to something good he was doing but it was only him stealing the credit for what God was doing!

    Stewart usurped the position of the Holy Spirit and led people astray to create his empire. He is a narcissist, a sociopath~ he really isnt much of a mystery as there are case studies of cult leader narcissists that fit him to a tee~and likewise the cults studied were not all Christian based ones so that seducing spirit of religion comes in all shapes and flavors and Stewart was no better than a Moonie or a Krishna~ just maybe a bit more devious as he managed to connect serving him as being tantamount to serving God and to leave his service was considered to be backslidden and reprobate.That added burdens on all who were subjected to his stolen authority.

    You are right concerning Stewart’s demonic influence and that he is a thief [and a liar] He does commit tax fraud and dishonest labor practices. His net worth for Olde Good Things is now $7.4Million according to a recent news article in Scranton where he is suing the city over some sewer problem near the old warehouse.
    Every member he robbed by his deceit has suffered on so many levels over the years and should be reimbursed, but we are unlikely to see that in this life.
    I pity him for all the evil he committed against the body of Christ and hope he repents of his evil before he is called to give account before our master~

    Otherwise it is for him a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God as he has no way to atone for his sins unless he really gets saved and dedicates his life to Christ. He has so confidently misled others and continues to do so that I would not want to be in his shoes for anything.If I was however I would want to seek out those who were so damaged by his criminal behavior both spiritually and worldly, that he should give back what he stole [also unlikely to happen].

    Those still with him are so deluded and deceived~!!I prayed for Megan Clark & Joy Irey to see the light and leave. I actually got to talk to Joy several times over a period of several months and tried to get her to come out for a visit to my home and she said she was allowed to come and was coming but then never did and I lost contact with her, so they must have got to her and convinced her to stay.

    I was so surprised that Megan stayed in after she graduated college as she was busy with school while in Center City fellowship, that some of us expected she would leave once graduated but she stayed in!!

    What a travesty it is that Stewart caused in so many lives~ How he set up and dumped Shirley and slandered her so he could justify filling his pedophilic needs with Gayle and then married her~ He said he was going to do a new interpretation of what marriage was and that he and Gayle would be the standards to aspire to for when the fellowship would be ready to marry.

    Instead he stopped marriages by convincing everyone to be severe to their flesh and not to give into any desires at all. This was so he could suck all the strength, effort and labor value out of every member to his gain~

    How many never married nor had children because to the heresies he fed therm~!

    How many who were married had their marriages blown apart because of his manipulations!

    How many never were able to find their way back to Jesus and into right fellowship elsewhere!

    How many died because of him and he still gets away with it!!

    How many even blamed God for what Stewart did & departed the faith altogether ?? ~!

    The only difference between him and Al Capone was that he has a better accountant that has been able to hide his frauds and paper trails so the govt cant seem to touch him.

    He had so effectively switched people around giving only specific tasks that most never knew what they were doing nor could put the puzzle together.

    He has done alot of evil. Even using the orphanage to gain respectability, its only a front for his hidden organized crime and now he even gets govt grants for his ‘faith based initiative’~!! Last count he now has 4 planes ~

    It is amazing that such a maniac has eluded prosecution all these years and how completely he has brainwashed his devoted 50 or less leftover followers.

    So many remain damaged that they probably wouldnt be able to fit into society if they were to suddenly see through him, like a person wrongly incarcerated 50 years and suddenly set free into a world they know not~ so they stay and they tow the mark and do as they are required. If any choose to leave, it is with basically the clothes on their back and no money or anything to show for their existence~ Such a waste of life.

    Stewart sold out to satan and is oppressed/possessed and when passing a curse on to anyone leaving , such as saying that member will commit suicide or that brother will be gay, or that sister will be homeless and so on is speaking death into those people’s lives and sending spirits to assault them~

    Such spiritual assaults have confused people and led to their captivity and backslidings in which some have yet to recover.
    This blog is dedicated to all who have been in Cobu and everything is open for the world to see as there is nothing hidden that wont be revealed so you are more than welcome to post anything concerning your experiences with the Cobu and to reach out in hopes your friend will see and that she may leave the Cobu for a normal life.

    Despite all Stewart has done, I would be willing to talk to him again, perhaps one on one and try to get to the root of the spirit of the bondage that keeps him doing all he did and does that still harms so many.

    Even if he were to genuinely see himself for what he is and repent and apologize to all those he has done so much harm to and lives he has ruined, that even a real apology would bring some healing to many tormented minds that have not been able to put their Cobu experience completely behind them yet.For many it is always unfinished business with no closure. How sad as so many live with a spirit of depression and lack of self worth since they were not only convinced that leaving Cobu was a hell sentence but the have been followed by oppressing spirits that keep reminding them of the lies they were taught~ So many still need emotional and spiritual deliverance from their ties to the spirits that control Cobu & Stewart.

    WE have group lists, some private and some public. You are welcome to join any of them. I have set up a site with topics and links to the other former cobu member resource sites at : that you can come to , get references with or without joining. Its free and I would like you to post anything you want there concerning these matters as well. The more we are out there on line the more we can reach out and help those who need us.


    YOU CAN REACH ME AT if you so desire. i will continue to follow your blogg again as i looking for some of those people
    i owe them an apologie……

  14. here we go attempt number twenty…….
    take twenty…..clap….

    my name is ivan aquino and to my regret I don’t fully remember you. although your name sounded very familar to me Mary also doesn’t remember you (her memories are better then mine about that time)…..So


    My spiders found your site after a web crawl (web crawlers looking for links to F.F/ cobu or my name ect.).
    I had decided to try and contact people i knew from then and at the very least apologize to them….for what i helped create…that monster the spiritual wierwolf….

    I needed to confront those experiences and work them out .much like a recovering dope addict goes back after finding sobriety and asking forgiveness from the people he or she has hurt because of the addiction.
    at the very least bringing closure to the events….closing the circle with a certain manner

    so here goes…ivan’s response to cobu
    “religion is the opiate of the people…”
    “so you say “…..
    “so your a commie now Ivan how quaint ”
    no not a commie I just believe that people get addicted to things like religion, i did…
    anything to soothe the dark death of the self…you know each one of us is a KING or Queen in our dreams,.and we need to live forever just as we are now or I need to get next to the LORD OF LORDS.where it’s safe…Does God really know my name …..
    so what….
    no wait…….I mean sorry ………. really i helped create it…

    here now ………..
    please forgive me for that truthfully i had good intentions..back then ….(Ava)….I helped create the monster… frankenstien
    There were time back then I knew what i was doing (accomplice)it hit me like a thunder clap one day in the loft…I saw it the spiritual wierwolf (S.T.)but I did not have a grip on it cause I abused the addition……(more on that later)

    I had become very reclusive over the years as I am still today struggling with that addiction that ate up that part of my life and continued to ravish me and my family making me a human wreck to this day. ( debris on the still shore ).It’s effects seen today in my life my children and others.
    I helped creat it…..i will take my due….
    So if i come off a little harsh please forgive me …ahead of time.

    my motivation is to find people who were part of my “fellowship” and apologize to them for my luring them also into his ( wierwolf STEWARTS )
    evil net..the toxic cult….
    I’m convince it will bring closure to that episode in my lifetime….
    Something i need very badly…closure from the cobu ….it has become a singular event overshadowing my life in so many ways,
    over the past 40 some years it has become a recurring theme……petty tyrants
    little Hitlers….wierwolfs spiritual predators ahead of the common variety.

    what i do now is practice sobernes
    this is a lamp…..
    this is a car…..
    this is my book ect…….
    its kinda like a 12 step program without the religous trappings like cruxifixes and jesus pictures( i don’t drink or take drugs i’m not an alcoholic or have been i did not take drugs my ex-wife will attest to that fact
    life is complicated itself without those things and getting past the trauma of sirviving the toxic cult, is my main ambition today ).

    My interest is to find people from those days (cobu…)and just tell them how sorry i feel for luring them into his grasp.
    Since 1972 I have struggled with the effects of my having falling into Stewards Evil net.and it progresses to this day…….I know there are other out there struggling with this…..I have I am and it’s become a lifelong experience one that I feel I would have been happier without…

    And for a time now it seemed to me that I would prefer not to openly
    discuss my true feelings as they are mine alone so i hesitate even as i write this carefully choosing my words….like counting grains of sand…keeping up with my soberness ……
    I’m here now keep writing……now say your sorry really……
    ‘I’m sory to you Ava if I had any hand in your exposure to the Wierwolf
    ” Please forgive me’

  15. Ivan again
    after note :

    to anyone interested feel free to contact me at, as i am now ready to speak out about my experiences in the toxic cult…..and the wierwolf..stewart express my sorrow for my nature back then with the false prophet….(predator)who was seeking to even eat his children….he could not help himself as most predator cannot change their real nature….
    i still live in cleveland and would encourage anyone to contact me or visit me as i am just reclusive..i don’t get out much .practicing my soberness moment by moment in the now…..i don’t parlay in the society……and generally avoid people because of the aftereffects of the toxic cult…my door is open and i am truly humbled… it all……………………….

    • Hi Ivan~ Sorry for the delay in response. I moved back from Minnesota to Pennsylvania in April, buying a new house and moving in with my youngest 2 sons and one had an accident the day we moved in and was life flighted to Erie for medical treatment and then we began the renovations once he was out of the hospital and there has just been so many things happening, that it was a while before I got the internet back up and running and then me injured son left home and a month later I was asked to take in a teen mom and her disabled babies and life has been VERY hectic since then, so I havent had time to review my blogs. They stand to act as a doorway for former FF/Cobu members who are trying to reconnect, yet many have gone on to become reclusive and might only respond a few times a year or privately.
      I remember who you were yet didnt know you, so that is probably why you dont remember me. You may have known my husband, Jim Hurley as he was older than most when he joined and at the time a former member of the COGS. He became center leader briefly in Reading and had a falling out with Stewart over Gayle while Stewart was still married to Shirley. He sometimes traveled with Rem to Stewarts home when Shirley was ‘upset’.he witnessed some of the crap Stewart put Shirley through and as a test once told Millie Brocco he would act like he was interested in Gayle, just to provoke a reaction from Stewart and he did- first Stewart offered to send him to Montreal, saying he would ‘give Montreal to Jim’ [ how arrogant is that?] .. When Jim declined, he then took him up in his plane and did some ‘dive bombing’ to rattle Jim and when that didnt work [ Jim was a former paratrooper before joining the FF] He began to belittle him in front of Gayle and then demoted him as center leader.

      Jim then left and spent the summer in Atlantic City, away from cult life and when drunk one night got into an argument with 6 drunks over God and by morning, on the boardwalk, ended up leading them all to Jesus and then didnt know what to do with them,. He contacted Rem who was at the time opening a new Atlantic City fellowship so Jim gave the names to Rem but then Rem convinced Jim to come to Center City and hang out with him. Jim also hung out with Dan Higgins.

      About that time Dan & Jim visited the new Wilmington De fellowship, that I had just moved to from Staten Island and thats where I met them both and a few months later I moved to Center City and became friends with Jim and Mike Romanoski & others. By then it was early 1976 and just the beginning of the take over from fellowship to cult. Jim & Mike left a month or so after Rem left for California. I left July 76, remaining penpals with Jim for a few years.

      After leaving Cobu, life had alot of problems for most of us. Since Stewart or his elect would proclaim curses on parting ,members ~ like telling guys they would be homeless and or gay or telling girls they would be whores or commit suicide… We all were told we wouldn’t fit into the religious system again and so many didnt even try. Others who tried to fit in found they were into ‘works trips’ and operating under guilt and condemnation and failing to fit into their new religious homes. Others too have forsaken religion altogether and have become agnostics or returned to their roots with their tails between their legs to hold a form of religion while denying its power.

      Religion is man’s way of telling God what he will do in order to play a part in pretended service. Fraught with doctrines, traditions, politics etc., contaminated by the way that seems right to a man but later ends in death. Cynical a bit perhaps, but only surfacely, as underneath when you peel away the smiling faces and plastic lifestyles and hollow efforts, we all eventually stand naked before God and the books will be opened.

      God is love and seeks us to love Him and most fake it at best.Seeking Him while He may be found is nothing like what Stewart poisoned us to do~! While Stewart had some of the pious platitudes down pat and the ‘basics’ , the rest he had to offer was smoke and daggers with a multitude of words spewn at us from terms overloaded from concordances with no guidance from the Holy Spirit, although to some, a few words would set off a light to get them wondering perhaps and eventually leading people individually out of that captivity.

      Jesus is real and He really does love you and me and the rest of those who were held spiritually captive in the Cobu. It wasnt His fault we fell for the pied piper of pretended spiritual devotion~ Jesus wants a relationship with us and He himself operated mostly outside of the religious system of His day~ although he did present himself in the synagogue and did fulfill religious obligations as an example to us.WE are to do what He did~ just reviewing the gospels tells us how~The letters by Paul and the other apostles shed alot of light when we read between the lines. Then reflecting back through Proverbs and Psalms, there is no reason anyone cant begin to have a relationship with God through Jesus and while knowledge puffs up, love builds up and once we can see how to separate the wheat from the chaff, the lying spirits from the Holy Spirit, we can be set free indeed and feel that freedom and peace that surpasses human understanding.

      It took me years- as I often got caught up in works and impulsive efforts, volunteering for all sorts of tasks at different churches and fellowships, always overdoing it and often failing and wondering why. Later I found it wasnt what He wanted from me exactly – as it was the relationship that had to come first and then later down the road the reasonable service~ I was delivered from the influence of the lying spirits – religious spirits that often caused me to overstep my capabilities and set me up for failure and then leave me confused wondering why~ [and other such stuff] I watched TV about deliverance ministries and visited churches with delibverance ministriss or visiting ministries, seeking answers but they were never clear cut or sometimes were contaminated by sensationalism by their presentors.

      Finally one day I prayed and said to the Lord, that I was no longer going to listen to the first thoughts that popped into my head and t hat if He wanted me to do something to confirm it to me in a tangible way~!! …He did~!!! From that day on despite the trials and tribulations of everyday life, I finally felt free from the oppression I had experienced since leaving COBU. That was in the mid 90s. Many things have happened since then, but I no longer fall prey to religious spirits and have been able to fellowship at various churches over the years, without having to be critical. Finally I was able to stop beating myself up over the FF/Cobu~! Then reaching out to other former boo’s like on Mikes yahoo group or the others that are linked, finding what some of the younger members went through later in the 80’s & even 90’s gave me pause as they went through far worse than we did in the earlier days~ Mike’s group is private and while its basically ‘light’ there have been some heavy discussions at times, but those belonging there had bonded over the years in some ways and keep in touch.

      We have had a few ‘reuinions’ too – weekend picnics are neutral state parks every few years and those who show up, join the barbeque and most of us cant imagine how we got so old looking, lol…having not seen one another in 35-40 years – that with the intensity of the FF/Cobu, it feels like stepping back through a time portal sometimes as we reminisce parts of what we each went through, now filtered through the eyes of our life since then and where we are at now.

      The bitterness you have expressed has been felt by most of us and that ringing in the ears still remains for some of us but through discussions, soem of the pain goes away or at least doesnt hurt as much. If you go to my site you can link to the other former FF’s groups currently online. Not sure if you remember Dave Pindell or not{?} He is a good brother and willing to talk to former brothers. Jim used to write a bit but he died in 2009. Skip O’Neill died back around 2000. Alot of former members went to his funeral.Dave Rizetto & a few still witness in NYC[ but not part of the FF/cobu] He is a good brother still.

      I currently live in North Western Pa just north of Dubois, so not too far from Cleveland. My youngest son used to live in Cleveland and we would go out there occasionally. I suppose we are about 2-3 hrs away..

      I look forward to conversing more. Best regards to your wife :)) GBU~! Ave

  16. Hey cobu survivors (I know that’s misspelled) I wish I knew y’all.I joined & left FF somewhere in maybe you guys write like pros,tell me more!!

  17. Hey Stan~ It was the FF to late 1975 and then became the COBU and changed drastically , so if you were in tr FF it had to bee around 1975~ which was better than later as in 75 people still had control over their own money etc.Bur, strarting inn1976 warehouses opened in NYC and other places and m embvers were herded together.

  18. I remember sitting up front at one meeting and hearing what ST said into his tape recorded, “suckers.” His mood was euphoric, as though he just took a hit of cocaine. He is a true sociopath. Do you ever wonder what motivates a serial killer? When they get over on people it makes them feel above mere mortal–a god. The smartest criminals have no remorse and rarely get caught. Then ask yourself, “what was I doing there?” Maybe, looking for a hit of “cocaine?” Fast forward. I am sure the assets of COBU are being paid out in salaries just like the Crystal Cathedral in Calif. I am not saying they are the same, but always follow the money Trail.

  19. Funny how he worked his words so passionately to turn everyone off to church Christians, thus alienating members eartly on concerning how ‘churches’ are/were and all the hypocrisy therein, yet as time passed and his slave labor engine accomplished its purpose in getting his finances established, like priming the pump, he could then well afford to have the leftovers placed on salaries and hire outsiders to work in the various franchised businesses that were established by those who steadily donated their hard earned salaries to fuel the fires of his temple… Never thought of him as a potential coke head but nothing he does would surprise me other than to repent and tell everyone he was sorry.He is a definite sociopath[narcissist[ but unlike Jim Jones and other cult leaders that led their people to suicides,he rather just keep working everyone under his charms to death as long as they live work and obey him, they are profitable to him. Once they raise an eyebrow or show signs of discontent, he has others attack them til they flee and all that remain pat themselves on the back for being good servants of the almighty Oz~

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