Hi there, it's been a while.
Unless specified, this post and all future posts are not about my story of recovering from emotional and spiritual abuse. That story concluded with the previous post entitled "The Conclusion." The posts moving forward will be about current abuses and the potentially criminal and financial secrecy ongoing at Wofford Heights Foursquare Church. It will be, at times, opinionated, and sometimes sarcasm will be deployed, but anything other than a question will be backed up with evidence. Let's get into it.
Where did the $90K come from?
$90,000 is a lot of money. It's 3.8x the median income of Kernville, CA, which sits at $23,250. It would take the average resident four years of work to accumulate this amount. Yet 90,000 dollars is the same number that Neal and Amie had flowing into Wofford Heights Foursquare Church (abbreviated as WHFC) without disclosure in just seven months in 2022. June-December. It wasn't the total amount received during that period, just the undisclosed amount. Where did it come from, and why did most of it go to their salary when they didn't even have an active church during that period? Let's take a look at their reports...
Each month The National Foursquare Church requires their local churches to file a "Foursquare Monthly Church Report" (FMCR). This report shows the following: Missional Activities, Spiritual Outcomes, Financial Activities, Church Assets, and Addendum - Attendance Detail.
Missional activity is a breakdown of attendance.
Spiritual outcomes is a breakdown of conversions (how many people said "yes to Jesus") and baptisms.
Financial activities and church assets will be what we are focusing on. It's about the money and how Neal and Amie received and spent it.
These reports are the actual reports that a staff person from WHFC submitted to The National Foursquare Church. They were delivered anonymously by someone with inside access at the church who reads this blog. Someone who is probably getting chewed out right about now...The name of the church on the reports is Triplefect Church. It's their newest name for WHFC. We'll explore all the name changes in a later post.
Foursquare Monthly Reports June-December 2022
Financial Activities = Profit and Loss. If you see RED, it's a loss. For seven straight months, Triplefect Church reported a loss of money. When you see the line item: Personnel Expense, it means salaried employee. That line item only applied to Preston & Feldschau salaries when I was on staff. The contract labor expense is applied to everyone else. Here is what was emailed to me anonymously. It is an email that was first sent by this insider to The National Foursquare Church, asking for them to look into WHFC Financials:
I have attended and been a member of the Wofford Heights Foursquare Church for years, and I am very upset about how Neal and Amy Preston have been running the church. First of all, it doesn't seem like it's a church at all. It seems like a building that they house their family and friends at and occasionally run businesses through. But most importantly, one of their council members recently shared concern over how there is a very abnormal flow of money in and out of the church with no accountability. The council member has asked questions time and again and is repeatedly chastised and not given answers. They shared with me the monthly Foursquare report data and it really doesn't add up. They, I should say we, believe that Neal and Amy are using their restaurant, Ewings, to funnel money into the church and pay their pastoral salaries (which no council member approved) as a way to not pay taxes on their income. Additionally, it is our understanding that each Foursquare church pays the extension tithe to Foursquare based on income and there is a huge discrepancy between income and their checking/savings account balances each month. All we are asking is that you look into it yourselves and take action if necessary. Below are our findings based on the information we found on the Foursquare reports from June-December of 2022.
June-Dec 2022 - $103,359 IN THE RED June 2022 - Total in Checking & Savings account: $33,337 The numbers in their Checking & Savings magically jump up and down with no accounting for the income.
Let’s do the math in July. If you come into the month with 8,009 in checking and 25,328 in savings, you have a total of 33,337 in the bank. If you then have a net loss for the month of -20,129 you should have a total of 13,208 in the bank…however they now end July with $50,123 in the bank. Where did the $36,915 come from? And that’s just ONE MONTH. Let’s go further. Taking the Net Loss from each month from June - December, we should have -63,822 in our bank accounts. Yet we have $26,966. Where did that $90,788 come from? Why was it not reported in “Other General Fund Income” or “Aligned Business Income” and why was our Extension Tithe not paid accurately? When I asked, they told me to not worry about it. Foursquare extension tithe is still 10% of reported income. Yet they’ve only given $5,460 June-Dec of 2022. 5,460 is 10% of 54,600. Their reported personnel expenses (salaries) ALONE were higher than that number for the same time period at $57,385. Thank you for looking into the above information. We choose to remain anonymous only out of fear of retaliation. In the past, others who challenged the Preston leadership were kicked out of the church and in some instances have been harassed.
This absolutely does not make any sense. I believe one of two things is happening. Whoever is submitting these reports is really bad at math, or they are trying to hide something. Also, why is The National Foursquare Church allowing this? They have all this financial information. They've had it for months. Yet nothing has been done. And...this is just the first question. There are more to follow...
Let's Hide Under the Cover of "Doing Good"
For years I've asked the National Foursquare Church to conduct a financial audit of WHFC. For years they have refused to do so. They claim they have completed a financial audit as part of the Foursquare Church's current (2023) investigation of WHFC. Or have they? When talking with Foursquare's legal department, they claim that "no audit has been done." When talking with the Foursquare General Supervisor, Wendy Nolasco, on May 1st, she told me over a Zoom meeting (Microsoft Teams, to be specific) that an audit had been completed, and the report was on her desk. Who to believe?
There is an ongoing investigation by the National Foursquare church into WHFC and the dozens of letters emailed them with proof of abuse and possible financial crimes. There are active government agencies also conducting investigations into claims of abuse and financial crimes.
I believe this is why Triplefect (WHFC) church has suddenly decided to act like a church again.
The key word is act.
The Cult Leader's Mindset
In a previous post, I covered multiple ways that Neal and Amie lead their cult. But one key aspect of every cult leader is isolating others from potential outside influences or threats to power. They did this with me consistently. When Neal took over at WHFC, he immediately introduced strict office hours; I was not allowed to leave the property for lunch or meet with other pastors or leaders in the community. There were certain people within the church he deemed as "his," and I was not allowed to converse with them or invite them to do anything with my family. He once caught Stacy talking and laughing with one of "his" people and came down hard on her for doing so. This was the norm, not the exception. We had weekly meetings where Neal and Amie would share about new people who were "not safe" and could no longer be trusted. In those meetings, they would share personal details about those people and do whatever they could with words to get everyone in the room to be against them. It worked. Netflix recently released a satire documentary entitled "How to Become a Cult Leader." It explores tactics used throughout various historical cults. My stomach churned as I watched it, even within the first five minutes. It was so familiar.
I disliked people I didn't know simply because they were labeled unsafe, evil, or rebellious.
This leads me to question two.
Why are people asked to take a side?
You're either for us or against us. If you're in this camp, you can't be in that camp. "Choose this day who you will serve" wasn't a Bible verse written about Neal and Amie and their cult following.
Consistently this is still a strong narrative in their circle. Since releasing this blog, we have been overwhelmed with stories from people in this small community who attended or joined WHFC post our departure. And we have received a lot of apologies. Apologies for things we didn't even know about. The Prestons shared hatred, lies, and gossip about us with others in their cult to help solidify that we were evil and should never be talked to or trusted. So rampant that even friends from out of town who would stop by to eat at their restaurant, Ewings, would hear stories about us and how evil we were. Mind you; this went on for years before I began writing this blog. It started while I was still partnered with them at the church! Each time, we listened to each person's story, sympathized with them, and accepted the apology. It's easy to be swept in. And, when your spiritual leader uses scripture to help sell the narrative "good vs. evil" or "this is a battle against heaven and hell," it's both abusive and a strong argument. There is another way: Allow people to make their own choices. But that's not how a cult leader operates.
Why is the church in their name?
This is a big one. In a very covert way, with a carefully procured "church council" consisting of family and a few timid followers, they procured the church building. And in doing so robbed a community of their decades-long contributions and service.
I believe this was always Neal and Amie's endgame. To steal the church and use it for their profit. It's happening right now. Those of us who know this couple know they don't like being told "no".." That is precisely what happened years ago.
Years before WHFC was named "Triplefect," "Enforum," or "Faith Community," it was called Family Life Center. At the time, Brian Polston, an amazingly gracious and loving pastor, led the church. Young Neal had ambition and drive, had just been appointed associate pastor, and had a big vision for the future. However, he lacked follow-through and consistency. So when he and Amie presented their new vision to Brian, he graciously and wisely shut it down. They were furious. They left the church, bought a building 5 miles down the road, and began Enforum. Years later, when Stacy and I met with Neal and Amie for the first time at their Enforum building, they shared that they were thinking strongly about changing the name of their church to "Chaos Church" - A church that disrupts. The dictionary defines the word a bit differently: complete disorder and confusion.
Since we first met, Neal has constantly pushed for more power and control over the WHFC building. Now he has it.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jeanette Rodgers-Erickson and her sister Betty Flemming. Both were founding members of WHFC. It was a year before the church's 50th anniversary, and we were filming a video celebrating the years of service and love this church brought to the Kern River Valley. That video was never released, although I still have the footage. It was incredible to hear these two pillars of the faith describe the journey this church had been on. So many ups and downs. But it still stood strong through love, dedication, prayer, blood, sweat, and tears. I remember hearing story after story from those two and from Bruce and Danny Wagner, contractors who had built and remodeled so many parts of the 20,000-square-foot facility. Stories from Pastor Jerry Ruff, who envisioned building the gym and three-story structure filled with offices and classrooms. The hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of time and money to bring people together in this valley. Where is all that now?
This church building now houses the Preston's extended family and others who are in service and devoted to their cult. It provides income for their businesses and contains their for-profit radio station. It makes me sick. And the National Foursquare Church allowed it.
In full transparency, I have spoken with the National Foursquare Church about the grant deed and how/why it ended up in Neal's Triplefect name. It was during the time that former Foursquare Supervisor Bill Chaney was still in power. He swiftly pushed it through his district office. The Foursquare Church did mention that Triplefect is only allowed to keep the building if they remain a Foursquare Church. A 20-year clause states they can't sell it or leave the Foursquare Denomination, or it will again belong to the National Foursquare Church.
If you're a puzzle person, you may be putting the pieces together...I believe this is why they are acting like a church again right now. It's not motivated by a desire to reach the lost and hurting; it's about power and control. If they lose the building, they lose free housing and income streams for their other businesses.
Where is all the money?
If there is one thing that you can consistently count on, it's the Prestons asking for donations. Scroll back through any social feeds or head to one of their websites to see it front and center. But where does it all go? Hundreds of thousands of dollars with no accountability or public disclosure of finances. Dating back over a decade. I have spoken with so many former members of their church, Enforum, who donated toward fixing bathrooms, facilities, and more. Nothing was done. At WHFC, I remember a $10,000 donation was given for new doors in the gym. That money was spent on their salary. That is illegal. In the non-profit world, any donation designated for a certain thing must be spent only as it was designated. As mentioned in my Erskine Fire post, where did all those donations go? To the Preston family and personal finances. Why are those in the church not asking to see the financial statements, the profit and loss statements, and the bank account statements? I believe it's out of fear. If you ask, you are put on the "unsafe people" list and ostracized—typical cult behavior.
I'll end this short post with one more question, though there are many more. This blog isn't over, and more questions will be asked; this is just the beginning...
Why won't local leaders work with Neal & Amie?
The company someone keeps says a lot about the person. My question from the beginning with Neal has been, "If you're from this valley, and your family is respected (as he always told me), and you're a pastor, why aren't you working alongside leaders in this community?". His answer was always, "They don't see the vision correctly," or "They are stuck in the past," "They have a religious spirit," or "They aren't safe people." There was always an excuse.
Let's stop and run through this. Name another local church that they have partnered with. Name a business (that they don't own) that supports their mission. Name a local organization they belong to or volunteer with. Next to none. That speaks volumes. There is an unsaid agreement between many local businesses and organizations that these people are untrustworthy. I might be the only one saying it, but it's known.
Everyone who refuses to work with them has their reason. I've recently heard their stories. Some have business reasons. Some have personal reasons. Some have religious reasons. Many have abuse-related reasons. There are so many bridges that have been burned. It truly makes me sad for all parties involved. But even more bridges will be burned until there is repentance and accountability.
Younger and Younger
What do you do when the respected community members will no longer work with you or serve alongside you? You recruit the young and the naive. It turns my stomach to see this happening again. With the (short-lived) resurgence of church activities, they seek after those who don't know any better. Good people who want to be loved and find a place to belong. I hope that these wonderful people won't get close enough to be abused and that they will see the truth behind the charisma and empty promises. History, unfortunately, repeats itself. The good news is that this valley has so many healthy and thriving churches for those who need real love and community. So many healthy local organizations are doing great things for the underserved and needy. There is hope.
Why do I continue to write all this and share? I see how bringing light to darkness has helped many in this community and beyond. I see that actions are being taken to right the wrongs. I see accountability pushing through. I see hope for the future. And as long as I see those four things happening, I'll continue...