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The Heart of Love

Nowhere has Dwell Community Church bastardized the heart of love more completely than in the arena of mental health. Individuals are often wooed by the church precisely on the basis of a pre-existing condition or may develop depression, anxiety, or PTSD related to their traumatic experiences within the group, but at no point is this suffering validated, understood, or addressed with love and empathy. The same rigid culture that idolizes submission and conformance shuns members forcing them to suffer alone in their darkest hours of existence. This behavior is applauded internally by senior church leadership as Godly devotion, the rightness of this position justified by the inability of the wayward member to conform to the rigorous standards of spirituality set out by the church. This is at once the insidious disclaimer and Catch-22 of Dwell Community Church: We can only love you if you conform fully to our definition of God's will for your life. Get in line for spiritual battle, or join the ranks of Satan. Suicide is merely a proof of sin and weakness, an embarrassing failure of the individual on the spiritual gameboard where only senior church leadership is allowed to move the pieces.

Dwell Community Church has been cultivating this demented structure for decades, thus rendering the case inevitable that it would eventually lead to its grave conclusion. Indeed, senior church leadership acknowledged two suicides in 2016 with the publication of an essay on suicide ethics promulgated by the group's controversial co-founding pastor, Dennis McCallum. A horrendously troubling document in its own right, the essay in no way acknowledged practices within the group that exacerbate suicide risk, but not surprisingly leveled criticism on the suicidal themselves. Earlier that same year, Duyen Rochford, wife of current Elder and Pastor James Rochford (also of the recent Daily Beast Response), issued an email instructing members of Guinness Homechurch not to contact Dijana, a former member who was barred from returning to the church unless she repented for a lifestyle of sexual sin, lying, and marijuana. Dijana took her own life months later in May 2016. Former members of this homechurch have recounted privately that Dijana reached out to the group in the week leading up to her death, but members had been instructed not to respond.

Pastor James Rochford's response to The Daily Beast - in itself no more than a schoolboy exercise in rhetoric - still occupies the spotlight position on the Dwell Community Church landing page. But what of Dijana, the girl who died alone without the support of a group that was too busy waging its deluded spiritual war to acknowledge her immense pain and extend even a modicum of friendship? Certainly the church won't post this on their homepage, but we nonetheless demand to know. Exactly how many people must die or be traumatically wounded for Duyen and James Rochford to comprehend the true love of God? How many people must be beaten under the rod of discipline to satisfy the idol which Duyen and James have sacrificed their lives to? The idol of their own self-righteousness before God, as each sinner who leaves to "eat up the world" serves to highlight the Rochford's own faithful loyalty to the divine. Duyen and James think that they are God's servants, that they can clearly discern light from dark and that they are uniquely poised to declare it to the entire fucking world. Where is the hesitation? Where is the doubt? Where is the humility? These leaders meddle disastrously in the realm of life and death with a confidence more appropriate for a hardened military commander than a lowly shepherd of God's precious flock.

The official dogma of Dwell Community Church may be mainstream, but it has become so disfigured as to be almost unidentifiable, mangled in the wreckage of idolatry, intellectualism, arrogance, and self-righteousness. The church may have removed the X from it's name, but it did not remove the X from it's heart - a heart that nowhere comprehends real love, but rather harbors a misplaced agenda of self-congratulatory religion masquerading as a high-commitment to God. Dennis McCallum stands at the top of this empire of shit, with each of his specially chosen disciples - James Rochford, Ryan Lowery, Conrad Hilario - to push this sick ideology forward. And push it forward they do, under the sway of a lifetime of indoctrination which has twisted the word of God along with their individual hearts.

If this is the love of God, then let us stand together in turning our backs on God. Let us prefer the lowest pit of Hell to the unbounded atrocity of leaving one girl to die alone. For what? Why did she die alone, with all of her friends refusing to take her calls? Because of her sin? Because she didn't want to live under God's leadership? Or under the leadership of Duyen and James Rochford? This girl was washed with the blood of Christ. Is his blood insufficient? No. The practice of the church is insufficient. It is precisely insufficient because they do not know God or his love. What need of Satan when the church does his work so splendidly already? Dwell Community Church does not wage war on a spiritual battleground of the Eschaton, rather they shed the blood of their own soldiers in an unrelenting, quixotic attack from the rear.

Who was holding her hand when she died?

That's love: Two lonely persons keep each other safe and touch each other and talk to each other.

Rainer Maria Rilke


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