Kris Servante is making an anguished plea to the daughter she hasn't seen in 10 years. "If you've read this, Karen, we want you to come and see us, " Servante said yesterday, from her Neepawa home. "We love you, and we're not going to cause you or your church any trouble, we promise."
More than a decade ago, Karen was swept into the Northeast Community Church [now known as "Twelve Tribes], a fundamentalist religion based on Old Testament philosophies, and alleged but never proved--to be involved in systematic child abuse.
Servante is reluctant to call the church a cult, but when its members arrived in Winnipeg yesterday, both police and cult experts warned people should tread lightly around them. Servante said her daughter met a woman in Montreal, where her husband was training to be a pilot, and the woman told her of a "wonderful commune" in Vermont, where the people believed in nature, gardening and simple, religious life.
After one visit, Karen was hooked, Servante said. "She was love bombed, where they shower you with compliments and make you feel so good and so loved," she said. "Even Eddie Wiseman, a church leader himself took time out to tell her how interested he was in her opinion, how special she was."
And while Karen's husband, David, was cynical at first, he later warmed to the religion, especially after his wife was transformed into a meek, submissive servant--the fundamental role of the church women, Servante said. He gave up his career, sold their possessions, and they gave their lives to the church, Servante said.
They left their extended family behind after Servante criticized the extreme corporal punishment of her grandchildren when she visited them in Montreal. My one granddaughter, who said "He who hateth discipline hateth the lord." She never saw them again, but hopes she will know that Karen may be moving to Winnipeg. "I love you, Karen, I won't cause you trouble any more," she said crying. "Just see us, please."