Who is Rev. Charles Meade?

Leader of religious sect moving to Lake City

Lake City Reporter/November 21, 1988
By Tom Leithauser

The Rev. Charles Meade says he has been to heaven and seen God.

It's no big deal, he says-anyone can do it.

But despite down playing his heavenly visit, it's clear that Meade's life has been extraordinary.

Meade's personal contact with God, and his "visions" or " revelations" have helped him keep the reigns on a growing religious sect, most recently called End Time Ministries.

And it has helped him convince members of his group to leave their homes and move from throughout the United States to Lake City, where they are settling in Southwood Acres.

The arrival of End Time Ministries has prompted some longtime residents of the subdivision to wonder about their new neighbors. Much of the concern, they say, is caused by the secrecy surrounding End Time Ministries.

His policy of secrecy was evident when approached several times by the Lake City Reporter. When initially contacted, he refused to divulge where his group meets or provide other details of his ministry. He refuses to be interviewed, and he wouldn't allow his photograph to be taken.

Because of his secrecy, much of Meade's personal background is a mystery. He prefers not to discuss it.

According to former End Time member Joni Cooke of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Meade was born in Kentucky to a large, though not particularly devout, family.

Meade served in the armed forces for much of his life, including the years of World War II, Cooke said.

He left the service when he was about 50 years old and joined a Pentecostal Church, Cooke said.

Somewhere along the way, Meade hooked up with Hobart Freeman, a fiery and controversial leader of Faith Assembly in Indiana, Cooke said.

Freeman, who died in 1984, gained infamy when he was indicted on charges stemming from the death of a 15-year-old girl. Freeman was accused of contributing to the girl's death by telling her not to see a doctor for a curable kidney disease. The girl, a member of Freeman's church, was relying on Freeman and God to heal her, according to news accounts of the case. Freeman died before the conclusion of his trial.

But Meade had broken with Freeman in 1974. Disagreements between Meade and Freeman must have been intense; Freeman actually began preaching against Meade and calling him a false prophet Cooke said.

"There was a real falling out between those two," Cooke said.

Despite the split, much of Freeman's doctrine has been incorporated into Meade's message.

After the split with Freeman, he began holding services of his own in a garage in Daleville, Indiana, Cooke said.

During the late 1970s, Meade built up a following in Muncie, Indiana. According to parents of members, he seems to have set up a network of churches, converting young adults in their late teens and early 20s, and then sending the new converts out to establish satellite churches.

He began visiting Lake City nearly a decade ago, and purchased several parcels of property. He bought a house in Southwood Acres in 1984, according to public records.

One of those who had business dealings with Meade for nearly a decade, Lake City Realtor Lenvil Dicks, said he likes Meade, although he added that he doesn't know much about Meade's religion. In business matters, Meade always pays promptly and is pleasant to deal with, Dicks said.

Meade and his wife, Marie, moved to Lake City a few years ago, their neighbors in Southwood Acres said. Marie Meade died October 24, 1985, at age 63 of cancer, according to public records. Meade married his current wife, Marlene, shortly after Marie's death, Cooke said.

Meade is retired but lives comfortably in a $97,000 home with a pair of Cadillacs in the driveway. Based solely on appearances, he is an unlikely preacher and could just as well be a retired banker or attorney.

When he speaks, however, he is unmistakably a man with a cause.

"This is not a religious movement," he says of his group. "Anything can become a religion. This is a movement of the spirit".

He has two children of his own, but tells his followers that he loves them as much as his natural children. In return for that approval, the members of his group would do anything for him, Cooke said.

Also contributing to this report were Reporter staff writer Greg Messore, Publisher Don Caldwell and Managing Editor Russ Roberts.

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