Inside an End Time service

Lake City Reporter/November 21, 1988
By Greg Messore

GAINESVILLE-An organ plays soft, soothing music as a white-haired man and his wife stand together on a podium in the meeting room of a hotel-150 people quietly looking upon them.

Within a minute, the congregation is silent no more. Instead they are jumping up and down - hands clapping and arms waving in the air.

The staid religious service begins its transformation into an invigorating, emotionally captivating church service.

But to the members of End Time Ministries, it's just another Sunday night meeting --presided over by their charismatic leader, Charles Meade.

Marlene Meade, wife of Rev. Meade - founder of the religious movement most recently referred to as End Time Ministries, begins the service at about a quarter past six in the evening. She quietly praises Jesus Christ in a subdued tone while two organists ever so softly play a hymn.

Ms. Meade, known as Sister Meade to the followers, speaks a few lilting phrases.

"The life we live God gives glory to. We have nothing to hide--we're free. We're free in Jesus".'

With these words Sister Meade leads the congregation in their first song of the service. Immediately the organists, along with an electric guitarist, pick up their playing pace, and the people of End Time Ministries join as one in song.

Husbands, wives and children leap to their feet - their voices rising with them. The song praises Jesus Christ with refrains such as, "greater is He that is in me, greater is He that is in me, greater is He that is in me than evil in the world".

As the song ends, a resounding mixture of "hallelujah," "praise the Lord" and "praise Jesus " fills the room.

The Sunday evening service is held in the San Marcos Ballroom of the Holiday Inn West in Gainesville. Charles Meade and another member of the following, Gary Linneman, arranged for booking the facility, according to the director of sales at the hotel. The cost of renting the room is $250 a night and its listed capacity of 150 has been easily met.

Meade directs the service like the practiced leader and preacher he is. While the songs and hymns are sung, Meade interweaves his own Christian message with phrases and comments. Alternately, Brother Meade, as he is referred to by his followers, persuades, excites and placates.

The first song comes to a close and the throng joyously applauds itself.

"Who is that lives within me?"

Meade rhetorically asks. "The Lord Jesus Christ-the spirit of the Son of God. That's why he's greater than the one who is in the world, which is Satan. The Lord is greater".

"Oh yes he is," his wife says and leads the group into their next song.

When the second song ends, Sister Meade instructs the End Timers of what it will be like when Christ rises. You know in that time" Sister Meade says in caressing tones, "it won't make any difference if you want to or not, you will have to bow and you will have to say Jesus is Lord".

"That s right," agrees Meade.

The 71-year-old preacher, dressed in a pinstriped suit, proceeds to give his attentive parishioners a softly delivered, soothingly melodic lesson.

"Anyone that don't know, somehow, that's not got Jesus Christ in their life, is not free. They're bound by the enemy. Every human being that don't know the Lord, that don't serve the Lord, is bound by Satan. Because The Word don't lie".

Meade's followers listen intently. The congregation is silent, except for the sporadic mumbling of "praise Jesus" and "thank you Jesus" from the parishioners.

After the first few songs (there will be more than 15 songs during the 2 hour and 45 minute service) Meade settles into a dissertation on living one's life by The Word. He explains to the End Timers that if they don't follow the teachings of The Word, bad things will happen in their lives. They will experience trouble in their lives and in their families.

But if Meade's followers, both those now and ones who may join in the future, stay faithful to The Word they will be promised a place m Heaven. "Only those, The Word says, that does the will of God- will enter in. Only those that do the will of God and holds our faith until the end, that's the ones who will be saved --the only ones."

Meade creates an "us against the world" attitude in his sermon. The Word says they are a "peculiar" people, he says, who will be hated and persecuted by others. "I'm so glad that I'm different to the world," Meade says". The world said we're a peculiar people, that's why people question us now.

"The world say we're a funny people. They look different, they act different, they're happy, " Meade continues, "There must be something wrong with them".

But Meade tells his people, "If they go against us, they're going against God-lovers".

Meade tells the parish, "You reap what you sow. And if you sow anything against a true child of will have to reap it". He further says of anyone, who confronts the End Timers, "They will pay dearly. Jesus Christ is going to fight our battles. If one of them needs bringing down, He will bring them down".

He steadfastly preaches that he and his people are the only true Christians and the only true children of God. Of others outside his church, Meade says, "We're not to fear the enemy, we're not to fear man, we're not to fear the Devil. It says so in The Word".

As Meade and his wife lead the group in hymns, several members become nearly overcome with emotion and religious ecstasy.

A man leaps from his chair and begins hopping up and down. He continues jumping, but now starts moving in circles. No one looks at him strangely.

During the service, Meade displays incredible stamina, as he shrugs his shoulders, shakes his legs and then hops on one leg while kicking his other- in the air for nearly a minute.

The frenzied activity is blended with sporadic praise for Christ and other forms of religious communication called "speaking-in-tongues". This practice is a form of religious worship during which a person will make sounds that bystanders can not comprehend or decipher.

Meade addresses the audience- asking if, during the course of the evening's sermon, anyone wishes to find the Lord and be saved by Christ. If so Meade says, they should come forward.

A man in his late forties approaches the podium where Meade and his wife stand. He gets down on his knees and bows his head until it rests upon the floor of the podium- about a foot off the ground. He remains there, unmoving, for about 15 minutes.

Another man, about 30 years old, walks to the podium in front of Brother Meade. When he reaches Meade, he raises both arms above his head and appears to be barely able to contain his religious rapture. All the while, the organists play their music and Meade tells the parish what a wonderful life with Christ they have found.

After Meade finishes his sermon, he asks if anyone has testimonials.

About 40 different testimonials are given. One woman screams in a high-pitched voice that; "There's no where on the face of the earth I'd rather be tonight than here."

A man thanks God for the many wonderful things in his life and adds, "I thank God especially for Brother and Sister Meade."

Another man thanks God for the move to Florida, "away from the dark", apparently referring to the towns they've left behind.

A young girl, 16 years of age and recently married to a fellow End Timer, stands up and loudly states the fact that, "they've found the best life".

Meade praises the people who have given their testimonies. The preacher especially voices excitement about the young girl's testimony. Meade says, "If we could only get a lot of young people in and bring their bibles, and read and study - God could build a great army in this End Time".

Meade concludes the service by leading a few more hymns, after which he tells the congregation that there is, "No word, nothing in The. Word against anything we do or say".

He ends by saying, "All you want is joy, peace, happiness, love and a spring in your step".

Reporter staff writer Tom Leithauser contributed to this report.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.