A London leader's 39-page confessional open letter detailing abuses in the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) has further shaken a movement that has been controversial since its beginning 24 years ago. Whether the movement, an offshoot of the mainline Churches of Christ and known for its aggressive campus recruiting, is unraveling or reforming is hard to say.
The February 2 letter followed the resignation of founder Kip McKean in November (CT, March 2003, p. 26). Evangelist Henry Kriete, an influential leader in the Boston Movement (the informal name of the ICOC) in six countries and ten churches, wrote the letter. Kriete said the ICOC's viability was at stake. He said leaders have engaged in financial mismanagement, legalism, dishonest statistical reporting, and abusive teachings, and have ignored critics.
Kriete's letter pulls no punches, but he continues to identify with the church. "The devil has his fangs deep in our neck," he said, "and I am afraid that unless we repent, many of our churches and thousands more of our Christians will be devoured."
According to Kriete, a turnaround won't happen unless leaders denounce structural evils. "The main problem is that Kip never addressed the specific 'sins of our system,' " Kriete wrote. "He did not even mention them, let alone repudiate them."
For the first time, ICOC leaders have acknowledged the calls for reform that have originated from within the movement. On February 25, 42 ministry leaders at the Los Angeles Church of Christ headquarters issued an apology. They admitted to staff arrogance, legalism, authoritarian discipling, and improper teaching (for example, that the ICOC is the only true church).
"These sins have not just been isolated events, but a culture that was ...1