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Published:September 13th, 2013 08:26 EST
Why Did Catherine Grove, 26, Run Away from Home, Joining the Church of Wells, in the First Place?

Why Did Catherine Grove, 26, Run Away from Home, Joining the Church of Wells, in the First Place?

By John G. Kays

 Why did Catherine Grove, 26, run away from a small town in Arkansas (I haven`t heard what town that is?) and join the Church of Wells in East Texas (Wells is about 65 miles south of Tyler). Was the only information Catherine got regarding the Church of Wells obtained from the internet? In other words, she didn`t actually know anybody who was a member of this obscure church, or did she? What was so troubling her that she would actually run away from home (or maybe she was in college)?

This is extreme behavior, and she`s 26, not some teenager, such as was the case during the Summer of Love (1967), when many troubled young people from across the nation fled their homes and migrated on a spiritual quest (or at least they perceived it as a spiritual quest) for the lively Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. Yet, the case for Catherine Grove`s behavior, when leaving Arkansas, doesn`t particularly resemble this social phenomenon of the late 1960s; so why did I think of it?

Is it that Catherine Wells can find some answers for matters that are troubling her at this tiny subculture of a church, which were lacking with her life in Arkansas, which may have something to do with how her parents (Andy and Patty Grove) brought her up? If this is true, then it rings a bell with these Sixties Kids (who nowadays we refer to as Hippies), who believed their parents were spiritually bankrupt and they could find better answers to how they should lead their lives, through music, communal living, and yes, we must admit, recreational drugs.

Once again, my analogy is not quite working too well, other than the part about wanting to escape your past life and embrace something new. That is, the goal of these runaway teens was Freedom, in whatever way they cared to embrace that vague, catch all word. It looks as if Catherine Grove is more interested in a rigid, restricted environment, a Christian fundamental environment, where she could check any sinful worldly impulses, perhaps experienced before, when still living in Arkansas. One is an open culture, the other highly contained and regimented.

I`ve been watching the Church of Wells controversy (largely created by Catherine`s parents, who just want their daughter back) on HLN and from print news (which is available on the internet), posted by small papers (or local TV stations) in East Texas, such as CBS 19 TV, KETK, and the most thorough coverage coming from the Jacksonville Daily Progress. This is quite a stir for this seemingly quiet community, and now it looks like it`s only getting bigger, with HLN picking up on the story. I must add the Church of Wells web site as a good source for what may be going on here.

I know virtually nothing about this small church, so I`m reading everything I can, including the elders` postings defending themselves against the allegation that they are a cult, or that they are holding Catherine against her will, imprisoning her. The first image coming to me (and I suspect, to many others) is of Jim Jones and The People`s Temple, where people actually were held against their will, and were milked out of their worldly possessions with the smokescreen of sacred Christian communal living (at gunpoint).

We can put this analogy aside also; it turns out the Church of Wells are advocates of mercantilism and have many ways to make a good living. They are not opposed to material possessions, nor do they require their members to give up all to the church, such as Jim Jones did. Are they cult, however? 

There sure are a lot of people who are making this claim; I`m trying to be objective before I cast any stones. They have little more than 50 members, so if they are a cult, it`s a very small cult. My only observation is, Catherine Grove`s statement (to CBS 19) is a bit hypnotic sounding, maybe conditioned by someone near to her ear, coaching her what to write. Religious Soma?