An Account of UPCI Minister Harold Kern of Bellevue, WA

By Richard Phelps

The circumstances of the Scott case brought back many memories of what my wife and I experienced in the early 1980s in an encounter with pastor Harold Kern of Life Tabernacle o[f] Bellevue, Washington. I'd like to share the following historical events in our lives, as your account brought much back to memory.

The UPC'rs were quite active in our area. Our experience with Harold Kern [was] first-hand. We were young Christians at the time, and decided to take up an "offer" [made by] Life Tabernacle (at a peanut brittle sale at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue---why is it that so many United Pentecostal Churches have peanut brittle sales?) to have a "Bloodline of Christ [Study] in the Old Testament" with pastor Kern in our home.

The first few weeks went seeminly well with [Pastor] Kern, with no apparent "red flags" going off. We even "dropped in" to several services at Life Tabernacle, where Harold Kern pastored, and immediately noted the men wore white [dress] shirts and narrow ties, and all the women wore long dresses, long hair, and had no make-up. The preaching was "hell-fire and brimstone" and gave us an uncomfortable feeling.

It turned out my wife's parents had Rev. Kern do some carpentry work in their Master bedroom, and Kern had evidently "preached" the "gospel" to them, but as my wife's mother didn't accept [his] offer to attend Life Tabernacle.

In [the middle] of Kern's "bible study" at our home, things changed drastically on his concluding visit (it was a one and a half month course). [Pastor] Kern told my wife and I in no uncertain terms that "you won't make the Rapture if you don't speak in tongues." I [questioned him] on that, and posed the following: "Are you implying by that comment that I am not saved in Christ Jesus, if I don't speak in tongues?" He replied, somewhat ambivalently, that "I believe that is what I'm saying."

After a few awkward moments, praying for wisdom from the Lord, I asked Pastor Kern the following question: "Let me ask [you] a hypothetical question; assume you had just read John 3:16 to me, an unsaved person, and I made a decision to accept Christ in my life right after that. Suppose the Rapture were to happen a second later; would I make the Rapture?" Pastor Kern started to get red in the face, and didn't say anything for 20 to 30 seconds. I knew I hit some nerve in him, and was prepared for an outburst, or something. Finally Pator Kern replied, in a low, shaky voice, "I, uh, ah, think so." His face reddened even more, [before] he abruptly left our apartment, without saying another word. Our subsequent phone calls to his office, attempting to discuss his abrupt, wordless departure from our home, were not returned.

I was to find out several years later that my then-brother-in-law, had a "shouting match" with [Pastor] Kern, over doctrine (he and my sister had attended Life Tabernacle for a short time), and he decided to take iimmediate leave of LIfe Tabernacle. Prior to this, [my bother-in-law] was making remarks to my family, such as "You're not healed because you have sin in your life," and so forth, which he had been incultated with at Life Tabernacle. He stopped making those remarks to our family, after leaving Life Tabernacle.

Copyright © Rick Ross
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