Bob Smietana at Christianity Today was all over The Gathering story and has a good summary of the controversial mind control movement that once boasted Christian producer and songwriter Ed Cash as a member.
According to Bob and my contacts with former members, members have been gradually getting out of the movement since CT published the first article.
My posts on The Gathering are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Apparently something is happening to The Gathering brand. People are leaving. Perhaps triggered by both the Christianty Today expose and the departure of mega-producer Ed Cash, others are leaving the cultish group. I have heard that families are being reunited and Ed Cash has been visiting with people who are leaving. The WSMV report is below.
WSMV Channel 4 WSMV Channel 4
Ed Cash, prominent Nashville Christian music producer and a former leader in the mind-control group The Gathering, was not supposed to appear on stage at last week’s Young Life conference. According to Young Life’s Director of Communications Terry Swenson, Cash spontaneously and without the endorsement of Young Life joined David Crowder during a performance on stage. On behalf of Young Life, Swenson said he was sorry to family members who have loved ones in The Gathering.
The Gathering was once the religious home of Cash, best known for co-authoring “How Great is Our God.” On December 30, 2015, Cash and his brother Scott Cash posted a letter on their website proclaiming that they had left The Gathering. In the light of that letter, many family members and ex-members expressed hoped that Ed Cash would contact them or their loved ones still in The Gathering to urge them to leave or to reconcile with families due to his prior support. According to some parents and siblings I spoke with, Cash was involved and aware of Jolley’s command to some members to cut off contact with their family outside of The Gathering. Cash has not replied to several questions I have posed regarding his current relationship to The Gathering.
Young Life is involved because Ed Cash has led worship at their annual conferences in the past but was asked not to do so this year. Instead, the Cash brothers were invited as guests with the provision that they would not participate upfront in the conference. However, Ed Cash joined David Crowder onstage during a worship set/concert and performed briefly.
Through a source related to a current member of The Gathering, I have learned that Young Life responded to Cash’s appearance and provided the following statement from Terry Swenson, Director of Communications:
I do want you to know the circumstances that led to Ed Cash’s appearance on stage Wednesday night. First, what we communicated earlier about the Cash brothers’ presence at the Celebration was and remains true: they have no on stage role and are absolutely not “featured,” as was unfortunately communicated. They were guests in the audience and, to our complete surprise and without our endorsement, David Crowder invited Ed on stage. This was not planned and we don’t take what happened lightly. We understand the hurt this has stirred and I’m sorry for that!
Mr. Swenson confirmed this statement later this morning.
In mid-December, Christianity Today‘s Bob Smietana provided a feature length expose of cult-like practices and teachings of The Gathering and Wayne Jolley, the spiritual leader of the movement. Christian music producer Ed Cash, probably best known for being co-writer of How Great is Our God, figured prominently in the expose as one of Wayne Jolley’s insiders. On December 30, Cash posted a letter on his website saying that he had left The Gathering.
Reaction from family members of those still in The Gathering was hopeful. Those not in the Gathering hoped that Cash would help people leave the movement and restore relationships broken because of orders from Wayne Jolley and observed by Cash.
Since then Cash has not commented on his stance toward those he helped recruit into The Gathering. Currently, he is at the Young Life conference in FL. For some family members, the relationship between Young Life and Cash has been a source of discouragement. In fact, Young Life’s leadership issued a statement that Ed Cash would not have an “up front” role at the conference. Since Cash has led worship in the past, this lower profile would at least be a recognition that some business with The Gathering is unfinished. The full statement is at the end of the post.
However, earlier this evening, Ed Cash participated in a worship set/concert at Young Life. See the short video below. Ed Cash is playing the Legos.
Ryan also tweeted a shout out to Cash and the others who participated.
This seems to violate at least the spirit of the commitment from Young Life leaders.
In the mean time, family members who contacted me this evening are still wondering if Ed Cash is making any attempts to reconcile with families who lost children and other family to the Gathering.
A former member of The Gathering, Scott Hethcox, told me: “I am praying for healing and restoration for Ed and Scott Cash and their families. I also pray the statement from the Cash brothers about leaving the Gathering is truly genuine. I will be more assured it is genuine when I hear that Ed Cash has reconciled with people who were hurt by The Gathering.”
In response to concerns from some Young Life supporters who have family members in The Gathering, Young Life leaders issued the following statement to Young Life regional staff:
The Cashes will be at the conference as participants but not in any upfront leadership or “upfront” role. Since the publication of the Christianity Today article, we have been in dialogue with Scott and Ed both about their response as well as their role at the conference. It is certainly our desire to respond appropriately to this difficult situation, and I believe we have done so. As you may be aware, the Cashes have left The Gathering and severed ties with Wayne Jolley.
We are deeply disturbed by the article’s content, and we continue to affirm that Young Life has absolutely no relationship with Wayne Jolley or with The Gathering. Because we do have a relationship with the Cash family, we will continue to walk with Scott and Ed during this time, hoping and praying for God to accomplish His purposes in them…for healing and restoration and redemption. It is in that spirit that we welcome them to attend the conference.
We are grieved by the ways those in the Young Life family have been impacted by involvement with The Gathering, and we will continue to pray for and seek ways to foster healing for all involved.
After Christianity Today revealed the statement from Ed and Scott Cash about leaving Wayne Jolley’s The Gathering, I have been contacted by several people who have loved ones in The Gathering. As I expected, some of them found Cash’s statement to be inadequate. They want to know what the Cash brothers are doing to inform their children and family members about the Cash’s decision to leave.
Do the Current Members Know Why Ed and Scott Cash Left The Gathering?
According to individuals who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, many current members of The Gathering have not read the statement from the Cash brothers. Members have been told that the Cash brothers have been led by God to go to a different church with no mention of any problems.
According to former members, Cash was instrumental in bringing many people to the movement. Once in the movement, some were told by Jolley and other leaders, including Cash, to cut off contact with family. I contacted Ed Cash last night and today to learn what, if anything, he is doing to help others out of the church. As of this writing, he has not replied.
Two parents of The Gathering members commented on my December 31 post. Their comments are below. Both replied to another commenter, Andy, who defended the statement from Ed and Scott Cash. I have permission to post their comments.
Rebecca Chambers – Andy the truth of the matter is I know these two men. I trusted the well being of my daughter with these two men when she moved to Nashville. They recruited her into the cult and we lost all communication with our daughter. The Cash brothers watched this happen and did not make any effort to help us because Wayne Jolley said we were the evil ones. Although I’m glad they are out, they have a great responsibility to the families ripped apart, the people spiritually abused. We can’t just “move on” as you say. Restoration for all begins with taking responsibility. If you are such a good friend, why didn’t you know they have been apart of a cult for a decade? If you were that close you would have known. Don’t speak on behalf of the Cashes when you could not possibly know the details of this situation and the victims involved. Just pray for truth to come forth. The road is long ahead of us, but God will bring restoration in a way only He can.
Freeman Hodges – Andy, I don’t know you and only met Scott a couple of times, but I do know my daughter who was brought into the Gathering. She met Scott and his wife through Young Life which led to them hiring her as a babysitter and then a live in nanny. Over time she stopped coming home to visit because she had to “run the sound” at church. My daughter got married at Ed Cash’s house with Jolley controlling all of it. Oh, by the way, none of my daughter’s family was at her wedding and nor did I get to walk my baby girl down the aisle as she and I talked about for years that all changed when she met the Cash brothers and Jolley. I would love to meet you and share our story. I don’t judge the Cash brothers, but I do hold them responsible for helping mislead many people. One question I have for Ed and Scott is have they gone to my daughter, son in-law and anyone else the brought into the Gathering told them the truth so they all will get out?
Thus far, none of the former members or family members who have contacted me have heard from the Cash brothers. More than that, they want to hear from family members who attend Jolley’s church and begin repairing relationships.
Bob Smietana at Christianity Today is reporting that Ed and Scott Cash have left The Gathering. See this post for more on The Gathering and then the Cash website for their statement.
I also reproduce it here:
We want you to know that we have left the Gathering. For several months we have been praying, seeking wisdom, and meeting with multiple well-respected Christian leaders about this decision.
We find all the allegations against Wayne Jolley to be very troubling and are grieved by the pain others have endured. We’re praying for the Lord’s total healing and restoration for everyone involved.
We hope our lives and character make it unmistakably clear that we would never knowingly support anything that does not honor the Lord.
Thank you so much to everyone who has prayed for us throughout this difficult time. We look forward to what God has planned for the future and are overwhelmed by His incredible mercy, peace, and truth.
Ed Cash and Scott Cash
**We apologize for site disruption. We realized that our old website was created with out-dated software, and we’re doing our best to correct any problems. We wanted to post the letter above, and this was the only way we could do it.
I don’t know the Cash brothers. Many thousands of people who listen to music created by one of them don’t know them. So their lives and character don’t make anything “unmistakably clear.” I believe a more detailed explanation is in order. I would like to know if you are going to try to remove Wayne Jolley as a songwriter from the two Chris Tomlin songs. I am still waiting for Tomlin to address why he allowed someone to have that credit on a song he recorded.
Cash was a leader in The Gathering and enabled Jolley to attain the position he has. The statement is a start but by itself opens more questions than it answers.
What about the Bob song?
Ruth Graham got Bob Smietana to play the song Ed Cash sent to him in place of an interview about Cash’s involvement in The Gathering. Go read about it at The Atlantic.
And if the above sentence didn’t make any sense, then you need to read this and then Bob’s article on The Gathering.
Perhaps, Cash meant the song to come off as whimsical but it actually is more like creepy and very odd.
I will say again, it is troubling to me that Chris Tomlin has allowed Wayne Jolley to place his name on songs Jolley didn’t help write.
On December 14, Bob Smietana at Christianity Today posted a must read article on what appears to be a mind control splinter of Christianity called The Gathering.
I read the CT article about The Gathering just after I posted yesterday about Mark Driscoll’s beliefs in spiritual parenting being a part of apostolic gifting. The notion of one’s minister being one’s parent is, in the modern context, fertile ground for authoritarian teaching making the minister into a tyrant. Smietana’s article provides a troubling look at one expression of this teaching from one Wayne Jolley.
In addition to the spiritual parenting teaching, Jolley is painted as a controlling figure (e.g., church boards are demonic) who preaches a lot about spiritual warfare (e.g., the Jezebel spirit) and prosperity. You must go read the CT article to get the full effect.
Worship Leaders, Reconsider Your Set Lists
One of the reasons The Gathering is of interest to the broader church is the fact that one of the authors of “How Great is Our God” is a member of The Gathering. Ed Cash, Nashville producer whiz, is co-author with Chris Tomlin of the massively popular worship song. Tomlin wrote most of it and Cash added the bridge. It appears that some of the royalties from this song have helped fuel the emergence of The Gathering.
According to the CT article, Cash has actually added Jolley as a co-writer to some of the worship songs co-written and performed by Tomlin (e.g., “The Table” and “The Roar”). Tomlin issued a statement distancing himself from Jolley saying he has never worked with him. However, I was troubled that Tomlin did not see more of a problem with adding Jolley as a songwriter when in fact, has has never worked with Jolley on the songs. The arrangement is obviously a deception for Wayne Jolley’s financial gain. Jolley gets royalties from Tomlin’s success.
All of a sudden, I am a lot less interested in playing Tomlin’s songs. In fact, I hope all over the country, there are worship leaders rethinking their set lists for Sunday.
The Website Cleansing Is Underway
It is so predictable. After an expose, an organization takes down the website for “updating.” That is now true for The Gathering’s and Wayne Jolley Ministries‘ websites. They were up on December 14 (see the Google cache). Just yesterday, a You Tube uses uploaded a collection of Wayne Jolley’s sermons. Seems like it should be a red flag when a Christian ministry hides instead of proclaims what it is about.
Show Wayne the Money
Wayne says it isn’t that he wants your money, he wants you to be blessed. What a guy!