Kenaston’s teaching on godly family life, child training, and modesty has attracted many to the ministry. He has a tape series called The Godly Home Series and a book titled Pursuit of Godly Seed. Many have moved to Pennsylvania from other parts of North America to join Charity Christian Fellowship because of this teaching.
The doctrinal stance of Charity Ministries is similar to that of the conservative Mennonites with a slight Baptist, Amish and Pentecostal flavor.
I tried to talk with Kenaston personally about his doctrinal stance when I was in Pennsylvania on a preaching engagement in May 2007. I even stopped by the headquarters for his organization in Ephrata and tried to meet him and left my name and phone number, asking him to contact me, but he did not. I was in the area for several days, but he made no attempt to reply to my request to ask him a few questions. There is a lot of information, though, on their web site, including a confession of faith, and I also obtained a set of the tapes on The Godly Home and listened to them and read some back issues of Heartbeat of the Remnant.
They require that members renounce the doctrine of Eternal Security. Steven Pawley, pastor of Antioch Bible Baptist Church in Lockport, New York, told me in an e-mail dated May 24, 2007: “With regard to conditional security with Charity, I heard Mose address this clearly in their men’s leadership meeting in February 2006. The series was on discernment and the last message was called something like ‘on to perfection.’ You can get those tapes from Charity. Denny K. was in the room and they are in complete agreement. They gave each pastor a portion of the original larger group right there in the Ephrata, PA area. I know of a family in particular that moved out of state to a ‘Charity’ work in Ohio and were told they could not join that fellowship unless they renounced eternal security. They refused and have since left and gone back to a Baptist work. This doctrine is clearly taught and not hidden as far as I can tell and is a key component of the ‘Charity’ works.”
They believe that the apostolic gifts, including tongues and prophecy, are still operative. Their confession of faith says, “We confess the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit found in I Cor. 12 to be valid through the New Testament dispensation.”
Women must wear head coverings and not cut their hair. Their confession says, “Sisters will not cut their hair. They cover their head with a distinctive Christian veil.”
They are pacifistic and do not allow members to serve in the armed forces. Their confession says, “Participation in the kingdom [of God] prevents serving in armed forces...”
They do not believe in participating in the “affairs of state.” Their confession says, “Participation in the kingdom [of God] prevents participation in the affairs of state...”
They hold to six church ordinances: baptism, communion, foot washing, devotional head covering, holy kiss, and anointing with oil.
They do not believe there is any legitimate cause for divorce or for remarriage. Their confession says, “We further believe that God forbids divorce or marriages with divorced persons having former companions still living. Marriage by or with such persons is the forming of an adulterous relationship.”
They teach that there should be an equality of living standard among church members. Their confession says: “All property is held in stewardship as God’s. There is a conscious effort made to discern the needs of others and to share to the point of an equality of living standard. The Bible warns of the danger of accumulating riches and therefore demands distribution according to ability.”
After I published the first edition of this report, two people contacted me to share that there is a very strong influence in Charity by Bill Gothard.
“The real issue appears to be the leaven of Gothard which has so totally permeated this denomination as to make it almost an arm of Gothard’s army. Not all in leadership are happy about this, including especially Moses Stolzfus with whom I've spoken directly a number of times. Homeschoolers are often recruited to join this ministry because of Gothard.”
“Denny Kenaston actively promotes Bill Gothard’s basic and advanced seminars and probably half of his members use the ATI homeschooling curriculum. Many of the families that move here to join Charity are recruited through contacts made at the ATI meetings in Knoxville and other places. ... They exercise a cultic like sociology among their people. If you leave you are shunned. ... Courtship is tightly controlled and parents must approve on both sides, and even with unsaved parents you are told you must obey, which is another carryover from Gothard. There are many sincere people like us who we moved to be part of what they thought was a Mennonite church (because of the dress and headcovering and nonresistance teachings), only to realize later that it is very controlling. ... The turnover is very high, and the control emphasis is strong. This group bears watching as they mushroom across the country.”
(For more about Bill Gothard use the search box at the Way of Life web site.)
Another man, whose sister got caught up in Charity, suggested that I add the following two points:
“Wedding rings are not allowed. They are considered part of the attire of the harlot. In my view this demand so insidiously interjects the leadership of the group making the demand into the relationship between husband and wife as to form a watershed in the establishment of control.
“The group also has no position on what constitutes baptism. Immersion, pouring, sprinkling?”
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