MCF (Melbourne Christian Fellowship), for me, started out as a breath of fresh air. I hadn’t heard about the pre-1992 cultish behaviors. And of course, had no idea what was going to hit us post-1992.
I actually loved the Lutheran Church I attended, and Its congregation.
But there was absolutely no doubt that that organization, and most other mainstream churches, were not interested in moving on from, essentially five-hundred year old Reformation teachings, further towards more Biblical understandings of Christianity.
From everything I heard, or read, about MCF, or Immanuel, as it was known at the time, it was a church open minded to what the Scriptures have to say, rather than entrenched Church dogma. And with their well-attended Bible Studies, camps, home-groups and live-in Bible College, not to mention testimonies of miracles, it seemed like a no brainer.
Rev Dr. Jeff Hammond and Annette Hammond’s scholarly book, based on Jeff’s Masters thesis, on the Priesthood of All Believers and Multiple Eldership sealed it.
I switched to MCF during first year uni, 1984, after I was filled with the Spirit at a uni Students for Christ (AOG) camp.
Apart from the fact I was a quiet sciencey type, suddenly in the midst of a church of five or six hundred, including at least a hundred, young people, whom it seemed were almost all crazy extroverts, I liked it. My local home-group was fantastic and I slowly made some friends and they all loved the Lord.
Fantastic! They were living the book of Acts! There seemed to be numerous ways to contribute, share and learn.
Well, three years in.
Still a lot of good!
The Thursday-night Bible studies were mostly good, but I preferred the structured studies by people like Laurie Holland, Phil Baird and Jeff Hammond on topics like the Feasts of Israel (and application to Christian life) rather than Ray Jackson Snr’s waffling on.
Initially I had been interested to hear what the Founder of MCF was going to say, but I quickly realized he was getting too old and he seemed to be struggling to come up with new stuff to keep the crowd happy. I forgave these wafflings, and honored him as an old guy who had already contributed much.
It didn’t bother me because I really liked his son Ray Jackson Jnr, and his preaching. Clearly a truly gifted, Bible-based preacher, connecting the dots for us, and challenging us.
The multiple eldership, which in MCF’s view actually ARE the pastors, preachers and teachers, whether on the pay roll or not, seemed to be working well. Multiple and different speakers, every week. Any man or woman could preach if there was time.
Great youth camps. Great family camps.
Tomorrow, I’ll outline how, as a 21-year old I began to see the hints of past and ongoing cult, pre-1992. But I was completely unprepared for the horrors of Vic Hall that were to come.