Plaster Rock 'on edge' over allegations about Family Worship Center

Former church member says he's had a strong reaction to online posts about local church

CBC News/February 1, 2016

By Redmond Shannon

Argue alleges church leadership uses its influence with congregation members to have them shun family members who are not also members of the church, and in particular, family members who were previously members of the church and left.

Argue says he began writing long posts on Facebook last fall after former members of the church reached out to him with their stories.

"I, once, was in their shoes and I know the pain and I know the suffering that happens," said Argue.

Argue has long been a critic of the leadership at the Family Worship Center; Pastor Daniel McKillop, and his father, former pastor Dana McKillop.

Argue and his father, Fletcher, left the church 16 years ago, a move that split them from their family that remained with the church.

Trevor and his father later sued church leaders and say they reached an undisclosed settlement out of court.

Argue, who now lives in Alberta, says he's had a huge reaction since he began writing the posts.

"The support and the outcry has been overwhelming. It's been a lot more than I had ever anticipated that it ever would be," said Argue.

"I've had thousands and thousands of people respond to the posts," he said.

One of Argue's posts refers to a young male member of the church who was attending university. It alleges that Pastor Daniel McKillop regularly criticized him and other university students from the pulpit for choosing to pursue a secular education. The man has confirmed this account to CBC News. 

Eventually the young man and his girlfriend left the church together. He has told CBC News he continues to have a "very strained relationship" with his family members who remain in the church. CBC News is respecting the man's wish for anonymity.

Part of Argue's post said: "No matter how much this family believed in their preacher, and had put their everything behind him and his family, assaulting the integrity of their son broke their hearts. For the next little while they wrestled with trusting Danny McKillop, and their son." 

Small town 'on edge'

Patty Albert, a Plaster Rock resident, is one of those who responded to the Facebook posts.

She organized a protest outside the church on Sunday, Dec. 13. Around 30 people attended, holding signs, saying "stop the abuse" and "family comes first."

"When Trevor started talking about it and the way it came down to families being split up, I couldn't imagine that with my children," said Albert.

"There's things going on, things that went on, that should have been brought to light a long time ago," she said.

Graham Eagles, a former mayor of Plaster Rock, also read the Facebook posts and attended the protest

"I would like to see those allegations addressed. I don't understand why these people are not speaking out in defence of themselves," said Eagles.

"Not only for themselves but for the community. The community's on edge," he said.

Pastor Daniel McKillop of the Family Worship Center declined to be interviewed by CBC News, but provided an email statement on Sunday.

"The Family Worship Center is a meeting place where our congregation of over 400 members, assemble to celebrate and listen to the word of God. For more than 85 years, we have promoted the unchanging message of the power of God's love and forgiveness, while simultaneously encouraging continued assistance to the communities where we serve," said McKillop.

"We are respectful of our collective right to diversity of thought and beliefs, and we are committed to making active contributions to support our communities and our fellow residents — with a goal that family relationships be strengthened both within and without our local congregation."

The Family Worship Center, formerly known as the Apostolic Pentecostal Church, has two other churches, in Grand Falls and Presque Isle, Me.

United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) says the Family Worship Center was once affiliated with UPCI.

In a statement to CBC News a spokesperson said "sometime prior to 1980, however, that church left the UPCI of its own accord."

UPCI says it has no information relating to the allegations made in Argue's Facebook posts.

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