Group was ready to fight - former sect member

Independent Newspapers/August 1, 2002

Armed men and women were prepared to fight in the 1970s for the survival of Camp David, near Waipara, says a former member of the Full Gospel Mission Fellowship.

John Turton, now a Presbyterian minister at Reporoa in the central North Island, said men and women marched as a military group "basically preparing for what I consider was anarchy".

The military might was thwarted by a police raid on the camp and members' homes throughout New Zealand in 1977. Firearms and ammunition were confiscated and charges were laid against several sect members, including leader Dr Douglas Metcalf. The charges were later dismissed.

Police raided again in 1987, by which time a special "hit group" had been set up. But a glitch with the search warrant gave members a 48-hour period to bury their arms along State Highway 7 between Waipara and Murchison and in forests, said Mr Turton.

Each location was secret.

"I buried mine in the Woodend forest and dug them up six months later," said Mr Turton.

He believed arms could still be buried on the sect's 180ha property at Murchison.

Mr Turton supported moves by another former member, Marie Squires, who wants the 48ha property at Waipara and the Murchison property sold, to give closure to an era that has left many reeling.

The foundations of the camp collapsed in 1996 after it was revealed Dr Metcalf, the man they were indoctrinated to believe was Jesus, was an adulterer. He died in 1989.

Mr Turton was a 25-year-old airman at Whenuapai when he was introduced to the fellowship.

He was excommunicated in 1984, the first to be kicked out of the camp, after writing a 15-page thesis questioning the teachings and interpretation of scriptures at Camp David.

He and his wife and two children "basically stepped out into a social vacuum," he said.

Many who followed over the years had struggled to "desocialise" themselves, he said.

Mr Turton said people found fellowship in the sect but there was a less desirable side to the Full Gospel Mission Fellowship .

Women were the "lesser creatures in more ways than one" at the camp and children were left to run riot as strict regimes of work and long scripture meetings took parents away for hours most evenings.

Mr Turton said the camp rotated around an "inner circle" that indoctrinated people to believe Dr Metcalf was to be revered as Jesus.

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