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.