The founder of Intercessors of the Lamb, a controversial religious group that eventually lost its affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church, died Monday.
Nadine Brown, a formerly cloistered nun who founded the Omaha-based nonprofit prayer group in the 1980s, was 83.
She had a vision of bringing people together from around the world to pray. By 2006, Brown said, an average of 200 people were coming to the group's headquarters in Ponca Hills every year for prayer retreats.
Before her group lost its standing with the Catholic Church, Brown said that Intercessors had 3,000 followers worldwide.
The Catholic Church severed its connection with Intercessors of the Lamb in October 2010 after Omaha Archbishop George Lucas said group leaders wouldn't implement reforms ordered by a Vatican lawyer.
The Rev. James Conn, a canon law professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, reviewed the group's practices and concluded that some didn't align with church morals.
He said he found questionable financial practices, disunity and widespread dissatisfaction with the group's leaders, who reportedly used intimidation tactics to recruit new members.
Brown and the Intercessors' board refused to adopt reforms, and Lucas asked her to vacate her post, which she did.
About 48 residential members left the group after it lost its Catholic affiliation.
The group continues to practice as a nondenominational Christian group. The Intercessors of the Lamb offers spiritual guidance, retreats and prayer seminars.
Its headquarters is on a 75-acre campus north of Omaha in the Ponca Hills neighborhood.
The prayer group first arrived in Ponca Hills in 1985. The group converted a former factory at 11809 Calhoun Road into a large retreat center with a chapel.
Neighbors fought development of the campus, and some filed lawsuits to try to stop the group from expanding. They said construction disrupted the quiet neighborhood.
The group originally owned several houses. It put all but one up for sale in 2011. However, the Douglas County Assessor's Office website shows the group currently owns seven houses.
Intercessors of the Lamb no longer was eligible to receive tax-exempt status for the houses after it lost its affiliation with the Catholic Church. Neighbors had long complained that they didn't think it was fair for the Intercessors to not pay property taxes on residences.
In February 2012, nine members who had left the Intercessors formed a new group, Brides of the Victorious Lamb.
On Monday, the Intercessors posted a picture of Brown and wrote on their website: “In loving gratitude for the life of Mother Nadine, our beloved Foundress, who the Heavenly Father called Home today.”
Funeral services were pending at John A. Gentleman Mortuaries' 72nd Street Chapel.