Audio tapes and sensitive material from the halcyon days of a Waipara religious sect will be destroyed at a secret location this week. But former members will not get the satisfaction of seeing part of their troubled past go up in smoke.
Only their legal representative, who was not available for comment yesterday, has been invited by the five trustees of the Full Gospel Mission Trust to watch the destruction of material and records built up over the 21 years the sect flourished at Camp David, a fort-like property on the outskirts of Waipara.
He will be told where the location is once he has confirmed he is available.
Former members were told of their exclusion yesterday in a facsimile from legal counsel for the trustees, Mr. Kerry Ayers.
Mr. Ayers was also not available for comment.
The group asked to have one of its number accompany its legal counsel but was refused, a spokeswoman for the former members, Marie Squires, said yesterday.
There were revelations in 1995 that the leader of the sect, Doug Metcalf, whom members worshipped as Jesus, was an adulterer.
Dr. Metcalf died in 1989.
Mrs. Squires said destroying the material would not help former members bring closure to a period of their lives that had left many troubled and angry, because no-one would ever know what was being destroyed and what still existed.
Mrs. Squires said the trustees would burn what they had in their possession, which did not include thousands of video tapes of meetings at the camp.
"We have no idea where they are," she said.
Another former member, Kevin East, accused the trustees of "cloak and dagger" tactics. "They (the trustees) are out of their depth and have to keep paddling fast to keep their heads above water," he said.
The sect, dubbed the God Squad, collapsed in 1995 after the revelations about the sexual exploits of its former leader.
A handful of people remained behind on the 48ha property, which is now in the heart of the prime wine-growing area of Waipara and could be worth millions of dollars.
The sect has another 180ha property at Murchison.
Former members, spurred on by concerns raised by Mrs. Squires that another religious sect was about to rise from the ruins of the property, petitioned the trustees to sell all the sect's assets and give the proceeds to charity so they could bury the past.
Mrs. Squires said it now appeared the trustees had sole discretion about the future of the trust's assets.
"When it's convenient they say they can do what they like as trustees, but when it's not they say the trust deed does not allow them to do it," she said.
"I am blown away by the attitude of these people. It is beyond belief that people I have been involved with for 30 years can act like this.
"It is our money they are using and our assets that we (ex- members) helped build up over more than 20 years," she said.