“I know the majesty that John has, that he actually wears a majesty because of who he is. There’s power in that majesty, there’s glory in that majesty. It’s a full representation of truth, and along with that is a warrior, a seasoned warrior.”
—Bob Emmerzael, 1998
Before he found his calling as a guru (a.k.a. integrated philosopher), de Ruiter tried the more conventional route of a Christian pastor. As the bio has it:
John de Ruiter preached first in 1979, aged nineteen, in the Shiloh Baptist Church, Edmonton. This prevenient occurrence made known a rhetorical gift which de Ruiter developed, hearkening to the voice of Early Church origins, finally elevating the delivery of his sermons with full commitment to revelation in the latter half of 1986, while at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Edmonton. . . . There he placed himself under the tutelage of an understanding man, the resident Pastor, who provided him with an office and an informal dispensation to preach: but despite his intense application to study, and his dedication and devotion in preaching, it was here that his final break with established Christianity happened in 1987.
There were divisions in the Lutheran Church hierarchy over acceptance of de Ruiter’s return to the mystic practice of the Apostles, of preaching only with revelation, by aspiring to deliver his sermons in a continuous stream of spiritual insight. These divisions were exacerbated when de Ruiter questioned the protocols for election of church Elders. Directing their attention to an apostolic precedence in this regard, where elders were appointed, not elected, a return to appointments made in recognition of a transcendency [sic] of spirituality, allowing due place for inner gifts, natural talents and abilities, but irrespective of age, popularity, or academic qualifications. On these issues and their implications a schism among Lutheran Church Elders was averted by the intense opposition of one faction, leaving de Ruiter no choice but unacceptable compromise, and so finally bringing to a close his involvement with the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and formal Christianity as a whole.
According to the official story, then (for those who make it through the tortured prose), in his early days as an intern at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Edmonton, de Ruiter was given his own office by the resident pastor, Don Rousu, as well as “an informal dispensation to preach.” Even in the rather vague and convoluted account above, it’s clear de Ruiter had aspirations of becoming a pastor. The suggestion is that the only way he could gain a position within the church was via “a return to appointments made in recognition of a transcendency of spirituality” (in other words, I presume, being a “spiritual person” would count for more than all other considerations). De Ruiter’s plans were terminated by the “divisions in the Lutheran Church hierarchy,” and when de Ruiter couldn’t persuade the elders to recognize his legitimacy, he refused to compromise and left. While the bio attributes the disagreement to de Ruiter’s “mystic” preaching style and his questioning the election protocols, I was getting a different story from people present during the period.
Even as it is increasingly clear that this was a turning point in de Ruiter’s life, and the beginning of his “ministry,” there is a great deal that remains unclear about what actually happened. Of the players involved, I was able to speak to Hal Dallmann, assistant pastor under don Rousu, his wife Candice, also present, and Barrie Reeder, the chairman of the elders at the time. I had only a brief email exchange with Don Rousu, who would not go on record and gave me very little. De Ruiter himself, unsurprisingly, did not respond to any of my attempts to speak to him.
Over the course of several telephone conversations, Barrie Reeder described de Ruiter to me as a “whistleblower” who approached him at a certain point with information about illicit activities involving two of the pastors; as a result of de Ruiter’s disclosures, the two pastors, Hal Dallmann and Don Rousu, were asked to leave the church. Shortly after, de Ruiter was also asked to leave by Reeder. Joyce’s memory of events mostly supported Reeder’s version, while she also suggested some kind of adulterous desire on the part of one of the pastors. There was one key difference, however: up until the time I made my own inquiries, Joyce believed that her husband had left of his own choice.
Hal Dallmann, who arrived at the Bethlehem church in 1977, told me in 2010: “It was real good till John got there.” According to Dallmann, Rousu, the head pastor and Dallmann’s immediate superior, wanted to start training interns as pastors and chose de Ruiter as his “first experiment.” Dallmann agreed that de Ruiter had promise. On the other hand, and somewhat contradicting himself, Dallmann told me that he went to John once for counseling and was not impressed. About de Ruiter’s preaching, Dallmann said that
John was way too focused on demonic stuff and not enough focused on God. . . . The way he went about it was “I’m the great healer,” not God. Those were things that set off red flags in my head. The elders invited John to present what his vision of the church would be. As I recall, John talked for almost three hours and gave his vision, and he never mentioned Jesus Christ as part of his vision for the church. All he talked about was all the evil demons that were crawling on the walls, and in the community, and that we had to do warfare against them. But never in the power of Jesus Christ; he never mentioned Jesus’ name. He finished and my impression was, the elders were . . . shocked at what he had shared.
According to Dallmann, Rousu then told the elders that he agreed “one hundred percent” with everything de Ruiter had said, and offered his resignation. Dallmann’s memory wasn’t clear on the sequence of events, but he claimed he had instigated a complaint against de Ruiter because of something de Ruiter had said to Dallmann’s wife, Candy. Dallmann believes “John wanted to stay as far away from the elders as he could, until he saw there was no way around it,” i.e., once Dallmann lodged a complaint against him. De Ruiter then counter-attacked by claiming that Dallmann’s preaching was “coming from the demonic side of things.” Regarding the nature of his complaint, Dallmann told me that his wife had been going through a spiritual crisis and he had suggested she speak with de Ruiter. What de Ruiter said to Dallmann’s wife was so disturbing that Dallmann complained to the elders, setting in motion the events that led to de Ruiter’s departure. After that, Dallmann was “totally opposed to [de Ruiter’s] involvement in any kind of leadership role in the church, counseling, preaching, or anything else.” Because of this, Dallmann claimed, the division between himself and Rousu became “more distinct.”
In my conversations with him, Barrie Reeder had very little good to say about de Ruiter. He called him “an interloper” who “was always looking for an edge, always looking for an opening. . . . When he realized that he couldn’t wrestle the church out of our hands and that he had no ability, he had to leave or admit that his vision was wrong.” While avoiding such implications, de Ruiter’s official bio confirmed that the events brought “to a close [John’s] involvement with the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and formal Christianity as a whole.” It was a turning point in de Ruiter’s life, and the beginning of what Joyce termed “the evolution of a guru.” According to Joyce, de Ruiter only began earning a living when he assumed the role of spiritual teacher to a small group of Christian fellows and started receiving tithes (ten percent of the congregation’s earnings). At the same time, she recalled how her husband “rapidly dropped everything to do with Christianity . . . we stopped reading the Bible, we stopped praying, we stopped singing, but we did tithe. . . . That’s Old Testament! That always seemed so weird.”
Jason Gerdes also remembered that same turning point, a moment when de Ruiter came to him in a state of excitement and said, “‘I never thought of it this before but you can get people to pay for your rent and your mortgage and your food! You don’t work anymore!’” According to Gerdes, de Ruiter “thought that was like the most amazing thing. . . . It just seemed to dawn on him that he could do it, become a religious organization to officially get paid to preach.” If this was the moment de Ruiter found his calling, and shifted gears from an aspiring Lutheran pastor to a Christ-ian guru, the bio sums this evolution up in two (large) sentences:
On leaving the Church, with prospects of moving forward in that outward life ended, John de Ruiter, and a following of eighteen people mainly from a group within the church, began holding regular Sunday meetings in his home, with further gatherings arranged on other days in the houses of friends. On through the 1990’s many more people attended, until in 1996 the first public, non-residential venue was opened at the Akashik book store in Edmonton, replacing and ending the years of Sunday morning meetings in de Ruiter’s home.
Over a period of fifteen years or so, de Ruiter’s leadership of a small group of Lutheran apostates would grow into a multi-million dollar non-Christian “church,” of which he was sole, sovereign minister.
Silence is Golden: JDR the Game Player?
“I never really saw John as a materialistic person. When I met him he certainly wasn’t. At the same time, he was the child of Dutch immigrants who came here to make some kind of life in the new country, and although his parents were not materialistic either, I know that they cared about making a living, moving up in the ladder. “
One of the primary questions I had was whether de Ruiter’s rise to power was the result of conscious manipulation or, as his supporters believed, simply a “movement of truth.” If, for example, like most human beings (especially the visionary type), John had been reluctant to get a job, that reluctance may have partially accounted for his decision to become an independent preacher and accept tithes. As extraordinary a young man as he was, he may well have been at a loss, in those early years, about what exactly he could do. Joyce described him as lacking a basic sense of self-worth. She saw him as “extremely talented and somebody who would always make a living doing whatever.” At the same time, she remembered how
He did frequently say, “You know Joyce, I actually don’t have anything. I have no tickets.” He knew I saw him as a capable person, but he probably didn’t see himself that way. . . . In retrospect, I have often wondered if John felt that he couldn’t make it on what he had. He was just a shoemaker. I often have thought, did John realize that he was never going to make it financially?
Timothy Gallagher became a follower of de Ruiter in 1998 and was a friend of my wife during that same period. I met him in Bristol in 2010 (he was attending the seminar) and then, when the story about Anina’s death broke in 2015, I spoke to him over Skype. I will get to Tim’s unique take on John later on, but regarding de Ruiter’s career path, he had this to say:
I know that he really believes his own stuff. . . . I actually think he didn’t fully factor in the guru effect on himself. I don’t think most gurus take that into the equation. “What will people sitting at my feet do to me?” You don’t get to know what that’s like before your awakening. . . . I think he hit a comfort zone with it somewhere. He said once, very early, he said, “If the structure around what’s happening here ever takes over, I will just walk away. Now he definitely didn’t and it definitely did. He’s still sat on the throne. So I would say he’s rather comfortable and he doesn’t want to have to find a job as a shoemaker. He’d be pretty unemployable right now.
While Jason Gerdes “never saw [John] grasping after money or things . . . never saw him as a guy who was avaricious,” on the other hand, de Ruiter’s peculiar technique for haggling suggested he was highly conscious of his poverty and on the lookout for ways to overcome it. On one occasion which Gerdes shared with me, de Ruiter wanted to buy a circular saw and went to a private house to look at it. The woman wanted at least $25 for the saw and insisted she couldn’t go any lower. De Ruiter offered $15 and the woman repeated that she couldn’t possibly accept less than $25. Gerdes’ impression was that the woman was waiting for them to leave, but de Ruiter simply sat there, revving the buzz saw and staring silently at the woman until she agreed to take the $15. Gerdes believed de Ruiter “had no clue of the consequences of his actions” and didn’t do it maliciously. “He just zones into, ‘This is what I want, I don’t know how to leave so unless they drag me out I’ll just stay here.’” According to Gerdes, de Ruiter “got tons of sales that way!”
Gerdes’ remembers de Ruiter as someone who was determined to get his own way and incapable of adjusting to circumstances when he couldn’t. Besides being possibly autistic behavior (Gerdes’ opinion today), de Ruiter’s actions are similar to a child’s sulking when it can’t get its way. Today, de Ruiter claims—and many of his followers believe—that he is living in service to truth and that his actions are devoid of self-interest or “personal agenda.” One of the principle mysteries I found myself confronting while looking into John’s past was how much of de Ruiter’s life and circumstances were the result of conscious intentions. This was a mystery even his ex-wife couldn’t answer. Gerdes’ anecdote was a useful example of this uncertainty principle. Was de Ruiter trying to get the buzz saw cheap, or was he simply tongue-tied and miraculously obtained the desired result through silence? Gerdes’ opinion was a bit of both:
It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. Somehow he’s been conditioned throughout his life that this strategy works for him; it’s a survivor’s strategy to be successful in the world. “If I talk to somebody I’ll probably lose, but if I’m quiet I’ll probably win.” Wherever that started in his life, he just kept doing it, it became part of his being. So I don’t really think it’s a spiritual aspect, it’s just who he is, and he’ll apply it either to making a joke, a sale, or a religious thing.
Gerdes’ interpretation allows for two possibilities to co-exist. De Ruiter could be acting unconsciously, in a “childlike” or even autistic fashion, while at the same time another part of him, the opposite of guileless, adapted to what it learned and discovered “a survivor’s strategy to be successful in the world.” Pure and impure motives co-exist, until none can say where the one left off and the other began.
The one thing that seems clear is that, perhaps even before he found his calling, de Ruiter had found his “ticket.” Silence.
“It’s like a chess game. He thinks fourteen moves ahead, so he has to prepare. His whole life was this game-play. He loved telling a story, and for you to buy into it.”
—Jason Gerdes, 2010
As I continued to dig for gold on my former guru, I found another, peculiar characteristic of de Ruiter’s that hinted at darker undercurrents: his penchant for pranks. Gerdes talked at length about John’s proclivity “to see if you were naïve, to see if you were gullible.” He remembered how de Ruiter would talk about “sky hooks,” “muffler bearings” and “hydraulic floor mats” to see if a person would get “hooked into these things.” When people believed him, de Ruiter was “like a child with a toy—he just loved it when people bought into his fake statements.” While Gerdes never interfered with de Ruiter’s pranks (by letting the “mark” know they were being conned), he insisted he never fell for them either. “That’s maybe why he liked me, because [I was] not a sucker.’” While Gerdes was smart enough to see through de Ruiter’s trickery (most of the time), he was also “game” enough not to spoil the fun. “His pranking was just like a child having fun,” Gerdes told me, “like a ten-year-old who could tell a whopper and everyone bought into it. He felt he had power. ‘I got adults believing that I did such a thing. Wow!’”
When de Ruiter felt insecure, Gerdes told me, “he would lean towards his silence; or if he was talking, he would play these other games, because what else is there to talk about or to be? So there was insecurity there, is how I viewed it. Bullying comes from insecurity as well.”
In another anecdote, Gerdes described a day-trip he took with de Ruiter, from the same period (late ’70s or early ’80s, when both men were in their early twenties). De Ruiter suggested they go to Ram Falls, in Provincial Park. He wanted to hike in and camp over the weekend. Initially, he told Gerdes he was afraid of bears, and told Gerdes to procure a license to carry a gun. Gerdes got a gun permit and they brought two shotguns and a rifle with them. They took a very difficult, pathless trail through brambles, “a long walk through hell,” as Gerdes remembers it. Once they’d arrived and set up camp, de Ruiter began calling for bears. When Gerdes asked what he was doing, de Ruiter replied that he wanted the bears to come.
The next day, as they were leaving, de Ruiter let Gerdes know that there was a regular path out, the path he had used the first time he came, with Joyce. It was an easy twenty-minute walk back. Gerdes realized that John, wanting to see if they could make it through the wilderness, had tricked Gerdes into thinking it was the only way. Gerdes didn’t see it as malicious behavior, however. “He was just living in his world, doing what he wanted to do, and figured, if he could do it, I could do it. . . . I think that’s why he played those games.” De Ruiter’s modus operandi, Gerdes believed, was only to reveal his full intentions once it was too late to back out.
He would only tell you certain parts of the story, it was always his plan, his desire, his goal. [Then you realize:] “Oh, that’s the real thing, that was the full plan!” I would always learn that there was more to it; that’s why I called him a chess player: he’d plan this whole thing. He really knew what he was doing the whole time, but he only let you know certain parts that you needed to know to get you to go along, so that you wouldn’t argue. I think John takes advantage of the simple and those who don’t think ahead. I think the people who have left [the Oasis group] are the smarter, more intelligent people. The people who have stayed behind are probably the less intelligent.
In Gerdes’ view, John “put people in [boxes:] ‘How I can interact with them.’ And those he didn’t, he was more silent with those people. When he doesn’t know what kind of a person they are, he tends to fall into silence.” For de Ruiter, silence was a way to take the pressure off himself and get other people to reveal things about themselves. This then gave him a better idea how to interact with them. Apparently the silent treatment, as in the haggling incidents, sometimes had the unexpected effect of causing others to bend to his will and give him what he wanted. His pranks seemed to be a somewhat more aggressive way to determine what people were made of, and to what degree he could manipulate them by persuading them to believe things that were untrue.
The Key to Satan’s Masterpiece
“It’s all so different from how you normally see this. It’s in a very underhanded way. Half the time I think, ‘Are you just stupid John, or are you brilliant?’ Somehow there has to be a bit of both. He’s not educated. But clearly we can’t think of John as stupid, he’s a mastermind. It was my battle, all of our marriage. Is he that? Who is he? Who is John?”
At some point in those early years, de Ruiter erected a sign outside the shoe store (where he worked on and off for several years) that read: “Jesus Christ says Christianity is Satan’s masterpiece.” Perhaps John was quoting the Lord directly, since this was also the period he claimed to have had a personal encounter with Jesus while driving his truck. After that, Jesus became his teacher and showed John everything he knew. It’s not clear whether de Ruiter held this unorthodox belief while he was embarking upon a career as a Christian minister (albeit a radical one), or only after his plans were thwarted by the elders. This is a significant detail, obviously, but John’s personal history is currently lost in the myth.
According to Joyce, her husband got into trouble with authority during the first Christian seminary, after which they went to a different Bible school. Joyce assumed they would continue but de Ruiter decided to drop formal education and become an intern apprenticing under a pastor in the Lutheran church, hoping to learn more this way. It was through internship that he got closer to the Lutheran leadership, when Don Rousu and others recognized him as a unique individual with a “special connection to God.” De Ruiter and Rousu apparently had a shared vision of de Ruiter being “the key” to the Church; as a result of that vision, de Ruiter gained access to the higher levels of the church infrastructure. It was then that he decided there was no point going back to Bible school or pursuing formal education. “At that point,” Joyce remembered, “I think he started meeting every morning with either one or both the pastor and his wife. This is when it started to become a little secretive.”
De Ruiter decided to abandon any plans for a formal education—and presumably whatever career he had in mind—once he realized he could gain special status within the Lutheran church. It was unclear if he became an intern before his unique qualities were recognized or only after, but in either case, it was an unusual development. Christians are usually extremely wary of false prophets and all-too ready to cry “heresy” at the first sign of unorthodoxy. In de Ruiter’s case, the miraculous seems to have occurred. How did he impress his Lutheran fellows and gain access to the higher echelons of the elders? Was it simply by being himself, or had he consciously set out to woo them? Again, from what I could determine, it was a little of both.
As Joyce recalled, her husband didn’t preach much and only stood in the pulpit maybe three times.
John’s a procrastinator; he’s lazy at heart, extremely lazy academically. Not physically, he can stay up all hours of the night and work on his truck; but academically he’s lazy. He was due to preach a sermon one Sunday and he was up all night, wasn’t preparing anything, going through trauma, turning it into some huge spiritual experience. It may have been valid, I also just thought, “Whatever, John, just get on with it, do what you’re supposed to do, don’t make this into some woo-woo spiritual thing.” What I remember is, five or six in the morning, him calling Pastor Don Rousu, who was his mentor, and saying, “I don’t have anything, I don’t have anything.” . . . I think that was the day when he came to the pulpit, had not slept, had not prepared anything, and started weeping behind the pulpit, and repeating, over and over in a sort of weeping tone, “God wants to set you free, God wants to set you free, God wants to set you free.” It was a huge, controversial thing, it was so abnormal, so beyond the norm. “What is this? Is John being a fool or is it just really spiritual?” [That] really characterized my entire life with him, not knowing, being able to see both perspectives.
Maybe de Ruiter was finding out that silence was good for more than just a good deal on a buzz saw? One of the original apostates that followed de Ruiter out of Bethlehem, “Paul” (not his real name), described de Ruiter’s peculiar manner as being quite similar to autistic behavior:
[H]is stare and willingness to wait for conversation was unnerving. There was so much awkward time. Everything he did seemed different. Taste in vehicles. Obsessions with dog training. I can’t remember all the things but by themselves they were okay, but the total package was strange. . . . The best thing we could come up with to describe John was he was socially awkward. I really tried to not let that interfere with my perception of his spiritual gifting, but looking back I think I gave him too much credit. Some of those things that made him look really deep were just part of his weirdness.
Autism is often characterized by an inability to verbalize. “Intense world syndrome” (a less known theory of autism) posits that an inability to verbalize is the result of autists being unusually attuned to their environments and receiving an overwhelming amount of sensory data that makes it extremely difficult for them to function or express themselves. If de Ruiter experienced something like “premature enlightenment” at age seventeen, might the symptoms of such an awakening have been similar?
In 1998, de Ruiter, described his awakened state in terms that match those of intense world syndrome:
[E]verything you touch, everything you do as consciousness, every contact that you are in, every circumstance, every relationship with everything around you, people, things, you are constantly as a sphere of consciousness, everything is touching you. And everything that touches you, you become. So, as you are present in this life, as vast expansion of consciousness that is happening, which creates an amazing flow. And in all of that expansion, there is no identification with anything. . . . The universe is what it really is when you as unconfined consciousness is simply being with it. Then everything outside of you, you experience as yourself, because there is an instant merge with everything that you touch as consciousness. For you to integrate the universe-as-consciousness, you turn into it.
Gerdes had a similar impression of de Ruiter to Joyce’s:
He did this silent thing way back then, just as a regular person, unnerving everybody. . . . Maybe it takes a long time for things to boil up out of his brain and into his mouth. So it makes everyone nervous and they start rambling and it fills the space up, and he can just sit there in his silence and it doesn’t reveal that he’s nervous too. I [saw] this behavior years before he use[d] it as a religious thing.
In the face of such behavior, it’s easy to imagine how the members of the Bethlehem Church could have been divided about de Ruiter. Was he insane, deluded, or (worst of all) a flaming heretic; or was he touched by God, a holy fool? And from what I got from Barrie Reeder (one of the elders at the time), de Ruiter’s unworldly/otherworldly presence literally divided the Church—making him less the key than the sword. Reeder was even divided in himself when he spoke to me. On one occasion, he suggested that, by creating an upheaval within the church, de Ruiter was “hoping to pick up the pieces” and “end up with the spoils.” On another occasion, Reeder stated that de Ruiter “wasn’t capable of that kind of strategic thinking,” and referred to de Ruiter as having “a dysfunctional mind.”
Regarding de Ruiter’s mind, Joyce had this to say about her third year of marriage with John, a time after their first year of seminary, when they were living with John’s younger sister Cecilia: “That summer John talked to me about how he believed he was becoming schizophrenic. He would spend hours and hours lying on his back. It felt like he was having some kind of a breakdown.” He also suffered from narcolepsy. “John took Ritalin for narcolepsy for a few years. He fell asleep all the time and he was diagnosed as narcoleptic in the early years of our marriage. I think he took Ritalin when he needed to stay awake, rather than on a daily basis.” When I brought up the idea that her ex-husband was autistic, however, Joyce rejected it. After eighteen years living with him, she saw him as all-too-aware of what he was doing. She saw his actions at the Bethlehem church in a similar light:
It was a bit like he was this young person coming in to take over the church, to say it simply. He was assuming a lot of power. . . After John and I were divorced, I decided to go back and talk to Don Rousu and his wife. A statement that Don made at that time fascinated me. I asked him, “What was it about John? What did you see?” He had been pastoring fifteen years at that point, so why would he have given John so much power? John wasn’t educated, he had no experience in ministering, but [Don] really was handing over the reins almost: “Here, have my church.” I asked why and he said, “I think it was John’s certitude, more than anything.” He had until then never encountered somebody with so much certitude.
On the one hand, I was hearing stories about a fumbling, bumbling, possibly autistic “idiot” who was barely able open his mouth in company. On the other hand, there was an equal number of tales about a cunning, willful, unbending manipulator. But by all the accounts, however it happened, de Ruiter’s brief stint at the Bethlehem church was the moment when de Ruiter’s guileless fumbling and/or wily pranking gave way to a new authority and confidence. Whatever conviction he possessed about his divine calling could only have been strengthened by Rousu’s faith in him and by the buzz that grew around him, like a forest fire. This was the turning point that would eventually lead to the creation of a spiritual empire.
 “Then [John] got involved in a scandal as well. There were two pastors there, the first one was Hal Dallmann. Some of the facts are fuzzy, but I know there was a thing when John confronted one of the pastors for . . . lusting after the pastor’s wife. There were two pastors, both were married and had kids. There was an accusation or a holding accountable on John’s part. John assumed this position to confront these pastors, both very established. There was a lot of that going on. [John’s] bio says he confronted them for not using the apostolic form of choosing elders. I don’t remember that. He initiated a lot of scandal. He also spent an enormous amount of time with the pastor’s wife. I don’t have any suspicions about that. Things just got messy. Eventually John left. I wasn’t always privy to this information. I sort of heard trickles of it. It was [over] a few months.”[My italics.]
 This echoed something Barrie Reeder said to me on more than one occasion, that people at Bethlehem were accusing each other of being possessed by demons. Reeder became so fed up with it that he temporarily stepped down as chairman.
 More bizarrely, Dallmann told me that “Don Rousu preached a sermon out of the Apocrypha books, about the light-haired woman minstrel who would lead him astray—obviously a blatant reference to my wife, who was a worship leader who played a guitar, blonde. Don told me that he didn’t think he could counsel me anymore because he was in love with my wife.”
 In an email to me, Reeder wrote: “It was like divide and conquer tactics. When John realized this strategy wouldn’t work he seemed perplexed and wasn’t able to come up with any other avenue to become the spiritual leader of the church. In Lutheran Churches Pastors are called and must be ordained and John was neither.”