British documentary might have triggered New Mexico church’s battle with State

Updates:

Prudence Welch VIDEO interview about Wayne Bent’s arrest and much more (May 6)

Breaking News: Wayne Bent arrested (May 6)

Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser) responds to this story in “comments” section (May 2)

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Let me say it right from the start. This post will be “video driven.” Videos that are well worth considering if you want to learn more about the story unfolding in the rolling hills of pinon and juniper cradled within the northeastern corner New Mexico. Not far from the Colorado border to the north. And even closer to Texas, a few miles to the east.

It is this quiet space where Wayne Bent’s church says biblical prophesies have been realized, with more to come to affect us all.

They call the place Strong City. But there’s nothing that looks like a city for miles around. The reference to “Strong City” appears to be strictly biblical. You’ll find it mentioned in a bible verse a bit later in this post.

In addition to video, you will also find some additional research here, to include documents.

But let’s start with a documentary. THAT documentary. The one that first appeared on British television’s Channel 4. It might just be the catalyst behind the State of New Mexico’s decision to remove three teenagers from the Union County church property.

I suspect that investigators might even consider the documentary to be their “smoking gun.”

You can watch that video just below. But, hey, don’t click on it just yet. In fairness, I’m also presenting a video produced by The Lord Our Righteousness Church. In its video, the church claims the British film crew it welcomed onto its property last year produced a story that is both sensationalized and guilty of presenting statements grossly out of context.

Consider the following three paragraphs taken from church member Shecanaiah Travesser’s blog:

Last year we opened up our homes and our hearts to a film crew from Firefly Film and Television Productions Ltd in London who spent several weeks with us interviewing and filming our lives here in Strong City. They stayed in a motel in the nearest town forty miles away, but each day they sat at our lunch tables as friends.

From the material they gathered while they were here they produced two documentaries, the first one titled, “End of the World Cult”, that was broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK on December 12, 2007. It was a sensationalized film filled with lies and distortions of the truth of what has actually occurred here in Strong City.

The second one, a remake which they titled “Inside A Cult”, was geared to capture the interest of the American viewing audience. It broadcast on the National Geographic Channel (NGC) in the United States on April 23, with an encore scheduled for May 7.

Note the dates. New Mexico State Police and representatives from the state’s Children Youth and Families Department first removed one child, a 16-year-old girl, April 22, 2008. Just one day before the documentary—according to Shecanaiah Travesser’s blog—aired on national television.

Authorities soon returned to remove a 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy from the church grounds.

Such a story isn’t exactly good PR for any state largely standing on it tourism legs. And no governor likes to be embarrassed. Governor Bill Richardson–very much in the limelight these days–wouldn’t seem to relish the feared potential of what news headlines have already called the “doomsday cult.”

Okay, let’s cue up the videos. You’ll notice that they’re not brief. Here’s a look at the documentary End of the World Cult:

As mentioned above, members of church were far from pleased with the British doc. They say they’ve been betrayed, solidifying–it seems–a position now stated on the church’s Web site stating that the media are part and parcel of “the Beast.” On her myspace site, church member Danielle, 21, provides a “sequel” to the British film. Her offering is titled, The End of the World Cult II. On myspace, Danielle writes:

This little movie shows the contrast between the false picture that Ben presented the world with and the true picture of how things actually are here in our little group. Things are far different than Ben showed the world.

Danielle has been busy posting several videos on myspace. Above a video titled, Love’s Cost, Danielle writes:

I made this little movie for my precious Messiah Husband. This movie came out of my heart feeling Michael’s heart of pure love and the great sacrifice that He has given for us.

On its Web site, the church at Strong City has also posted a 113-minute video detailing its position on the spiritual role of “Michael” (Wayne Bent) during the final days of the world as we know it. You can watch that video, titled, Experiencing the Finished Work by Strong City, here: By now, assuming you’ve watched the British doc and the other videos (or parts of them), you may have picked-up on a “Heaven’s Gate” vibe.

On its Web site just last week, the group itself posed the question, Is Strong City a suicide cult? It’s a question that’s actually the title of—you guessed it—yet another video:


Enough video for now. More later.

Right now, let’s talk about documents, history…background.

While published reports say the legal name of the church’s leader is Wayne C. Bent, court records indicate that some in his flock have legally changed their names, taking on the surname “Travesser.”

For example, in December 2004, a girl younger than 14, legally changed her name from Julia Irene Thompson to Willow Dawn Travesser. Court records in Union County indicate that her father, Jonathan Thompson, consented to the name change. The actual petitioner is the child’s mother, Anaiah Michal Travesser.

Divorce records also reveal the name “Travesser” in two separate cases. In each case, the wife petitioned for the divorce and had already assumed her new surname.

In July 2004, Mesha Travesser divorced Patrick B. McCullough in Union County.

And in December 2005, Shecanaiah M. Travesser divorced William L. Carpenter Jr. in Union County, too.

It’s not difficult to find information about how Bent and his followers found their way to New Mexico. The church’s Web site and its members’ blogs provide accounts of their collective migrations. The blog of Shecanaiah Travesser is

especially detailed; although I’ve not found a Bible matching her translation of Isaiah 26:1.

You can compare this verse to other translations of Isaiah 26:1 here. Yes, the words “strong city” often appear in translations of this verse.

The journeys that, ultimately, landed The Lord Our Righteousness Church in New Mexico are often addressed on the church’s cyberspace writings.

In Part 1 of her blog, Shecanaiah Travesser writes about her earlier life in Spokane and Moses Lake, Washington. In Part 9, she writes that, in 1993, she and her church family had moved to an area called Castle Dome, located 50 miles north of Yuma, Arizona.

We would camp there in our temporary houses (RVs) on a parcel of land that Father had provided for us at the foot of Castle Dome.

There are 20 parts to the story Shecanaiah Travesser has titled, “Homeward Bound.” In Part 11, she writes about the church’s history in Sandpoint, Idaho and Safford, Arizona .

Indeed, a records check shows that a Wayne Curtis Bent, born May 18, 1941, lived on Wits End Road in Sandpoint, Idaho (Bonner County) when he received an Idaho driver’s license in 1999.

As I conclude this post this morning, what amounts to a gag order remains in effect. Wayne Bent is not providing comment. The case has yet to play out in court.

I am hoping that you have found the videos, links and documents useful as you seek to better understand this story.

No doubt, some will say they didn’t need ALL of this information to reach their conclusions…to form their opinions about what’s been going on within in those beautiful, rolling hills of Union County. Fair enough.

But the aim of Beyond90Seconds.com remains a simple one: To go deeper than what you’ll see on a typical local TV news story. And to attempt to do that absent of gossip, meanness and judgment.

Pretty simple really. Put as much useful info and links out as possible. And leave it for you to decide.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope some of you will post your thoughts here.

Oh, I did mention I’d come back to more videos, didn’t I? So let’s finish up with one more. It’s a look at the first teenager, named “Healed”, being removed from the church property April 22, 2008. The video is produced by Bent’s church and was posted on youtube:

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16 Responses to British documentary might have triggered New Mexico church’s battle with State

  1. avatar
    Michael Travesser May 2, 2008 at 5:43 am #

    Hello Mark,

    After reading your comments in regard to us, I could see a very fair balance in your publication. I did not feel that you had an investment to go either way with it, but simply pointed out the issues as they are. I have also found your technical information astonishingly accurate in regard to events, times and dates. You even gave me information about us that I had long forgotten. This was refreshing to the extreme. I don’t care if people love me, but it does bless me to see that they at least get their facts right. I did not see an error in your article. Truly, your little place on the Web, is a rarity. Most news about us is exhaustingly inaccurate as if the people in the media don’t even know how to read, think, or write.

  2. avatar
    hornerscorner May 2, 2008 at 5:49 am #

    Hello Mr. Travesser/Bent,

    Thank you for your feedback. Nice to get several sentences, too, during a time when many lips are tight.

    Hope to hear from you again.

    Sincerely,
    Mark

  3. avatar
    Shecanaiah Travesser May 2, 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    Hello Mark,

    I, too, was blessed to see the accuracy of your article. I just wanted to share with you that the words for Isaiah 26:1 came to me from my heavenly Father, Who spoke them to my heart as His present day version of this verse.

    Shecanaiah

  4. avatar
    hornerscorner May 2, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    Shecanaiah,

    Thank you for your response. I had wondered what had motivated your choice of words for Isaiah 26:1. Now, we have your answer.

    The insight is appreciated!

    Best,
    Mark

  5. avatar
    Prudence Welch May 4, 2008 at 8:09 am #

    Hello Mark! I also must say you did a great job putting this blog together! You took your time and came up with things I haven’t seen anywhere else. I definately will be posting your link on my website!

    Prudence

  6. avatar
    hornerscorner May 4, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    Hello, Ms. Welch,

    Glad you found your way to Beyond90Seconds.com. Since writing this story, I’ve viewed some of your media appearances and have found your blog. Look for links to some of that material to be included in a follow-up story here in the next few days.

    As always, the objective here is to provide all sides to a story…to be as fair as possible.

    Best,
    Mark

  7. avatar
    Prudence Welch May 4, 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    Well, I thought you did a really good job. It was the best I have seen so far. Media is hard. How do you explain 15 years in 3 minutes or a few paragraphs? I have put a lot of thought into trying to pack as much as possible into that 3 minutes. I don’t have a lot of time to go into the same details that you do here. Great Work! I will be back!

  8. avatar
    wdawn55 May 5, 2008 at 3:39 pm #

    I was one of the founders of this religious offshoot movement that developed into the LOR cult we see today. Four of the five leaders leaders left in 1989, leaving Wayne Bent to continue on as the sole leader. I haven’t had contact with Wayne for the past 19 years. I decided to write him the other day. He did not post our correspondence on his site; therefore I am using another site to post these few letters. I believe it goes to the heart of the problem and identifies where Wayne veered off track. Below is the URL for the correspondence.

    http://strongcity.wordpress.com/from-a-former-leader-of-the-lord-our-righteousness/

    Dawn

  9. avatar
    hornerscorner May 5, 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    Dawn,

    Thanks for sharing. I will follow your link and read the material tonight.

    Best,
    Mark

  10. avatar
    Pastor Chick McGill May 7, 2008 at 7:27 am #

    Hello Mark,

    Thank you for your tireless efforts regarding the LOR story. I was a minister in this movement 1988-1989. Finally, I discerned a “spirit of demons” creeping into the work, and when I identified it, I was labeled “insubordinate.” Afterwards, I was led away from the deception.

    I have come to understand that “the last resort of all false religion is force” (no matter how subtle that “force” may be). I have subscribed to the landmark Adventist doctrine that promotes “individuality in religion” where “liberty of conscience” prevails.

    I want all to know that I love every person that is involved in LOR, including Wayne Bent. I will continue to pray for their best.

    Respectfully,
    Pastor “Chick” McGill
    http://csda.us/

  11. avatar
    hornerscorner May 7, 2008 at 7:32 am #

    Hello Pastor McGill,

    Thank you, Sir, for your kind words. Great to have you sharing your thoughts and insights here on this blog.

    Best,
    Mark

  12. avatar
    Geus May 25, 2008 at 1:01 pm #

    I also want to thank you again Mark, for your great work.

    Messiah said, that your work is balanced, but I would love to see it done otherwise.
    like:
    Replacing
    Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser)
    to
    Michael Travesser (aka Wayne Bent)

    When I would write my first Email to Messiah in 2001, Father gave me the name: Soldier of Truth. This was very strange, because this name felt into my brain, when I pushed the sent button in a reply to Prince Michael’s reply. I have been living under another name for 7 years now, and to me the experience is like: Either you have the Mark of the Beast, or you have the Mark of Dad.

    What is the difference?
    Well, a lot. The mark of the Beast is the name that is registered by the system, that does not allow you to eat and find a job without this mark on your hand and forehead. The latter I translate into the Passport picture that one has to show in order to get a job in Europe, or get your money from the bank. The other name is the Mark of Dad, that provides food and shelter without supporting the system of registration, that is forced on to every one on Planet earth today.

    The anointment given by Messiah is very real. I mean, I haven’t looked into my money situation for 6 years now, while my house and bread is taken care of by Dad with several means. And my life experience is also different, I have no fear. This is very strange, because all the other people around me have fear, and often fear me because I have no fear. Life is not getting better from a worldly point of view, but depressions are impossible, and the way to Dad is always open. Comforting me on the way, that is my personal way with the Father.

    Matthew 6:33
    Therefore seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his rightwiseness, and all these things shall be cast to you.

    To me Michael Travesser is the real thing. I also understand, that other people can not comprehend it. But when I read the articles on Strongcity, I understand all these things. Well, I liked their previous website better, Michael’s Diary. This was to me entering the Diary of this very important angel in Heaven. I remember at first, when I never saw a picture of Michael and the other people, I thought the Angels had come to Earth in a space ship. So every publication by Strongcity has been a new revelation to me.

    I have a hard time to forgive the bashers though. This will be my weak point. Like this Pastor Chick McGill above. What a ***. I mean, why are these people attacking some one who does no harm to any one? So I’m doing research on the matter, and untill now I must conclude, that these bashers are all Roman Catholics. If it is otherwise, I would like to find that new information. But after my study of the WACO incident, I see no other party on Planet Earth, that would attack Protestant intellectuals. Because that is what this is about, Protestant intellectuals. In another comment, I would compare Strongcity to the Pilgrim Fathers, that where persecuted by Bloody Mary of Scotland. Bloody Mary of Scotland was a Roman Catholic ruler, that was beheaded by the first Protestant Queen of Britain, Elisabeth 1st.

    Tony Alamo, a famous minister in America, was also bashed, since he gave his life to serve the Gospel. I would listen to many of his sermons, and his bashers can be found on Youtube. Homosexuals most of them, Roman Catholics. The Anti-Christ.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Breaking News: Wayne Bent arrested « Beyond 90 Seconds - May 6, 2008

    […] an e-mail I have received at 9:21 this morning from a member of The Lord Our Righteousness Church, Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser) is now in State […]

  2. Tonight’s Larry King Live to focus on Strong City church « Beyond 90 Seconds - May 8, 2008

    […] produced the documentary, The End of the World Cult. The program first aired in the United Kingdom December 12, 2007 on Channel […]

  3. Wayne Bent breaks silence, vows to keep “The last fast” « Beyond 90 Seconds - October 11, 2008

    […] Also found within the 21,279 words published Thursday are Bent’s highly-critical opinions of former church member Prudence Welch and her blog and filmmaker Ben Anthony (The End of the World Cult). […]

  4. Wayne Bent trial set to begin today « Beyond 90 Seconds - December 8, 2008

    […] documentary first appeared on England’s Channel 4, the controversial figure at the center of “The End of the World Cult” is set to go on trial today in Taos, New Mexico.  Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser) was indicted […]

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