"Cult" active at university

SFU chaplain warns that Church of Christ isolates students from their families

The Province (Vancouver)/October 4, 1998
By Lora Grindley

A chaplain at Simon Fraser University says students are being targeted by a religious cult whose members, he warns, are masters of manipulation.

Dr. Bob Ogden said a student group called Christian Advance represents the controversial Vancouver Church of Christ, and is always looking for student recruits.

The church, which has about 300 Lower Mainland members, is affiliated with the Boston-based Church of Christ, which was founded in 1979.

"I call anything a cult that manipulates," said Ogden, a minister at the Whalley Presbyterian Church. "I don't think any group should be on campus that is isolating students from their churches and families."

Over two years, Ogden has received calls from about 20 parents who have been concerned about their children's involvement with the church. Ogden said the church has never given him a statement of its beliefs, despite many requests.

He said the church manipulates scriptures to entice disciples and controls new members' schedules by having a mentor shadow a new member's every move. They manipulate financially by demanding 10 per cent of members' salaries.

Ogden said the church isolates members from their families and also controls one's critical thought. He believes that about 40 SFU students have been involved.

Chao Min Chung's daughter, Ti Chung, 26, joined the church three years ago. She was an SFU student but quit school after devoting herself to the church. She also cut all ties to her family.

Chung has pleaded publicly for his daughter's return and wants to warn others about the church.

The last time he saw his daughter was in May as he and his wife waited for a bus in downtown Vancouver. Ti and her escort walked past the Coquitlam couple.

"I say, ‘Ti, I'm here.' She won't answer. Ti won't say hello to us. It makes me very sad," he said.

Vancouver Church of Christ leader Peter Kwong declined to answer questions yesterday. SFU administration was not available for comment.

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