Pickering, Former Preacher Feels Heat

Former City Preacher Feels Heat of Publicity in West, Sept. 21, 1972, pp. 1, 14  
Transcript | Annotated | PDF | Pickering Index


Former City Preacher Feels Heat Of Publicity In West
By CAROLYN PICKERING
(First Of A Series)

At Redwood Valley, Calif., a hamlet 150 miles north of San Francisco, the People’s Temple, founded by a self-styled “Prophet of God” who launched his career in Indianapolis selling monkeys claims more than 4,000 followers.

His loyal worshipers insist the Rev. James W. Jones (“just call me Jim Jones”) has raised “more than 40 from the dead.”

THE handsome smooth 41-year-old preacher who recites his Gospel attired in turtle-neck sweaters and dark glasses, claims also to have cured cancer, made the blind see and the crippled walk.

Last fall, when he returned to Indianapolis briefly, several hundred people showed up at 975 North Delaware Street, the former People’s Temple here, to watch The Rev. Mr. Jones “cure” a woman of cancer.

His congregation, mostly Negro, believes the Prophet capable of performing feats no less miraculous than the parting of the Red Sea.

SINCE 1965, when he and 145 faithful temple-ites from Indianapolis settled in the Mendocino County seat town of Ukiah, Calif., People’s Temple has mushroomed into a virtually unmolested kingdom.

The temple’s legal counsel, Timothy O. Stoen, is an “assistant pastor,” although he holds no divinity degree and, admittedly, is not an ordained minister.

The same “assistant pastor” is the assistant district attorney for the county.

IN RECENT DAYS “Prophet” Jones has found himself and his temple in the glare of the public eye – the result of a joint investigation by The Indianapolis Star and the San Francisco Examiner.

An Indianapolis woman, Georgia A. Johnson, has alleged, in a notarized affidavit about the temple, that her two daughters, aged 17 and 21, were “programmed and are too frightened to say anything much about Jones and his operation.”

The same woman declares the older daughter was inveigled into an inter-racial marriage and placed on welfare rolls “when there was no need for her to be on welfare.”

A BISHOP in the South Coastal Baptist Church Association, the Rev. Richard Taylor of Oakland, Calif., has disclosed requests for a complete investigation of People’s Temple, made last March to Mendocino County Sheriff Reno Bartolomie and County District Attorney Duncan Jones, went unanswered.

A former Indianapolis couple, Mr. and Mrs. Marion Freestone of Ukiah, Calif., who bolted from the temple in Nov., 1970, say they tithed 25 per cent of their earnings to the group for four years, but were given receipts for only 10 per cent.

So distressed has “the Prophet” become over questions from the press that, this week, 150 pickets surrounded the Examiner building at San Francisco.

They carried signs saying “invasion of privacy” and “this paper has lied.”

EFFORTS by The Indianapolis Star to reach either the Rev. Mr. Jones or his lawyer, Stoen, were futile.

Numerous telephone calls went unreturned.

Yesterday, Stoen’s office said he had departed for a five-week vacation.

Although the self-styled “Prophet of God” implies in church bulletins that he has “no thought for his personal comfort” and that he “wears only used clothes,” records in Marion County reveal numerous property transactions involving real-estate transfers which wound up in his name or that of a profit-making corporation controlled by the Rev. Mr. Jones, his wife and his mother.

THE “FOR PROFIT” venture – Jim-Lu-Mar Corporation – lost its corporate charter June 1, 1970, because, according to the secretary of state, “no annual returns (reports) ever were filed.”

The People’s Temple at Redwood Valley, resembling a gymnasium and boasting a swimming pool, may be the best armed temple in the world.

No fewer than four men guard the temple. Three wear sidearms with bullets for their pistols – one a .357 Magnum. The fourth sentry carries a shotgun, according to Lester Kinsolving, Examiner reported who was stripped of his notebook and pencil and his photographer relieved of his camera when they attended services recently.

The question is asked, “Who is this Missiah for so many?”

His flock comes from as far away as San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles to the temple, 7 miles north of Ukiah, the county seat of Mendocino County in California.

“Prophet” Jones is known to have had another “assistant pastor,” Archie Imes, in Indianapolis in recent weeks negotiating for acquisition of a new temple here at 749 North Park Avenue.

His old People’s Temple, 975 North Delaware Street, has a sign out front that says “St. Jude Deliverance Center.”

But, a local part-time minister, M.F. Cazell, 423 North Alton Avenue, whose Victory Temple Inc. still is carried in the Marion County recorder’s office as owner of the property, says his church is about “three years behind in payments” and “I just want Jones to take over the deed.”

A $42,600 mortgage on the property still is held by Wings of Deliverance Inc., a not-for-profit, tax exempt, religious corporation formed by the Rev. Mr. Jones in February, 1965.

However, the charitable corporation also had its initial corporate charter revoked the same day the Rev. Mr. Jones’ Jim-Lu-Mar money-making corporation was told not to do any more business in Indiana.

But, Wings of Deliverance has made a comeback.

It was reincorporated May 15, 1972, with Rev. Mr. Jones, his mother and his wife as directors and an Indianapolis woman, Kathleen Davenport, 5023 Orion Avenue, as resident agent.

IN CALIFORNIA, where the masses flock to hear the faith healer preach to a background of rock music, the faithful are gathered into the temple’s fleet of 11 former Greyhound buses that run from early morning until late at night, broken only for communal meals prepared by temple cooks.

Some of those who no longer believe in the divine miracles allegedly performed by “Prophet” Jones say the believers are filled with superstition and the supernatural, of faith wrapped up in filling an empty stomach.

The modus operandi (that’s Latin for method of operation), says an Indianapolis man, bitter about his aged mother being “lured” into the congregation, is reminiscent of the Kingdom of Peace, founded by the late Father Divine.

IN FACT, says Eugene Cordell, 3443 Elizabeth Street, “Jim (Jones) visited Father Divine in the late 1950s and that was the beginning of this movement.”

Cordell says his mother, Edith E. Cordell, now 70, first met the Rev. Mr. Jones when he knocked on her door selling live monkeys.

“She bought one and began going to his church,” Cordell said.

So powerful was the appeal of the Prophet that he headed the Human Rights Commission here under former Mayor Charles H. Boswell. That was before he tagged himself as the “Prophet of God.”

HIS MINISTRY, which had been interdenominational in nature from about 1949 to 1963, was so effective that, in February, 1964 he was ordained in the influential Disciples of Christ Church here.

He’s still in good standing, a spokesman for the church said this week.

The Rev. Mr. Jones’ temple, in 1971, reported $165,240 in “contributions to local church” and $42, 637 in “miscellaneous outreach.”

The figures are contained in the Disciples’ 1972 yearbook.

IN 1965, the Rev. Mr. Jones moved West with many of his local followers.

Two of them, who since have left the temple say the Rev. Mr. Jones “had us convinced the world would end on July 15, 1967, and the only place we could be safe was with him in California.”

(NEXT: What living in the People’s Temple commune is like and a look at some clout that–until now–has shielded “Prophet” Jones from the public glare.)

Image Caption #1: PEOPLE’S TEMPLE FAITHFUL PICKET SAN FRANCISCO PAPER Protest Articles On Church And Its Leader, The Rev. James Jones

Image Caption #2: PISTOL-PACKIN’ GUARD ONE OF MANY ‘PROTECTING’ PASTOR Temple Buses Part of Fleet Used To Transport Flock To Church

Carolyn Pickering Articles

In the summer of 1972 Jim Jones led a bus trip across the United States to visit Father Divine’s Peace Mission in Philadelphia. As the caravan of busses passed through Indiana, Jones visited his hometown and performed in churches in Indianapolis. A reporter from the Indianapolis Star, Carolyn Pickering was suspicious of the advertised claims of healings, miracles and the paranormal powers of Jones.

Pickering’s articles in the Indianapolis Star appeared almost concurrently with Lester Kinsolving’s series in the San Francisco Examiner. While Kinsolving’s articles focused on the life of the Temple in the Bay Area, Pickering’s examined the Temple’s history in Indianapolis and defectors who travelled to California with Jones but became disillusioned. See also Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple.

Former City Preacher Feels Heat of Publicity in West, Sept. 21, 1972, pp. 1, 14
Transcript | Annotated | PDF

Woe-Beset Woman Says ‘Prophet’ And Aide Harassed Her And Mate, Sept. 22, 1972, pp. 1, 15
Transcript | Annotated | PDF

Family Pleads With Aged Aunt Not To ‘Throw Away Her Bible,’ Sept. 23, 1972, pp. 1, 10
Transcript | Annotated | PDF

‘Prophet,’ Attorney Probe Asked, Sept. 24, 1972, pp. 1+
Transcript | Annotated | PDF

Kinsolving Series in the San Francisco Examiner

The earliest negative media exposure for Jim Jones and Peoples Temple occurred in the form of a series of front page articles written by Lester Kinsolving for the San Francisco Examiner. The series of four articles ran from Sunday, September 17, 1972 through Wednesday, September 20, 1972. Four additional articles were never published, partially due to their unsubstantiated claims.

Lester Kinsolving (b. 1927) worked as the religion columnist for the San Francisco Examiner in the 1970s when he began investigating the Peoples Temple. Through a series of site visits to the Redwood Valley Temple and interviews with a handful of recent defectors, he compiled a narrative about Jones and Peoples Temple that went counter to the perceptions of many in the Bay area. The charismatic style of Peoples Temple and the progressive political theology of Jones clashed with Kinsolving’s Anglican commitments and conservative political leanings.

The articles did impact Jones and the Peoples Temple, which responded to the claims in the media and began to carefully surveil the audience attending Peoples Temple services. These articles contributed to the increasing suspicion of defectors by Jones that would haunt him even after the move to Guyana.

The following transcripts are derived from the Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Transcripts can also be found at a site maintained by Tom Kinsolving. PDFs of originals have not been located.


“The Prophet Who Raises the Dead.” September 17, 1972 – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations

“‘Healing Prophet’ Hailed as God as SF Revival.” September 18, 1972 – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Consideration

“D.A. Aide Officiates for Minor Bride.” September 19, 1972 – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations

“Probe Asked of People’s Temple.” September 20, 1972 – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations

Annotation team members: Sarah Adams, Hayley LeBlanc, Jon Lueth


Unpublished articles from the Kinsolving Series

“The People’s Temple and Maxine Harpe.” Unpublished – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations
“The Reincarnation of Jesus Christ – in Ukiah.” Unpublished – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations
“Jim Jones Defames a Black Pastor.” Unpublished – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations
“Sex, Socialism, and Child Torture with Rev. Jim Jones.” Unpublished – Annotated Transcript || Alternative Considerations

 

 

Testimonial honors Fresno Four – Annotation

If you came to spend an evening Assemblyman Willie Brown, Lt. Gov Mervyn Dymally, San Francisco’s Mayor George Moscone Police Chief Charles R. Galm, District Attorney Joseph Freitas. [Xxxxx] and his wife and a member of the John Birch Society where do you think you would be? At a political rally right? Wrong. You would be one of the more than 5,000 people who traveled out for a testimonial [xxxxx] San Francisco for Pastor Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple honoring the Fresno Four [xxxx] with the proceeds to go to the church’s many charitable projects.

The whole evening was precipitated by the participation of approximately 1,000 members of the People’s Temple who traveled from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Ukiah churches to protest the continued confinement of the Fresno Bee newsmen in a peaceful demonstration supporting the First Amendment to the Constitution.

“We have seen no greater example of the brotherhood of man,” said James Bert, city editor of the Fresno Bee speaking for himself and the three newsmen, “than was exemplified by Rev. Jones and the members of the multi-racial, later-faith People’s Temple” who came to Fresno in their support.

Mayor George Moscone presented a plaque thanking Jones for ‘his personal support given on many occasions whenever asked” and State Senator Milton Marks presented the pastor with a recognition on behalf of the entire State Senate commending the work of the People’s Temple.

A certificate of honor was also presented Jones by Bob Mendelsohn on behalf of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors thanking the church for its many projects “which have been so beneficial to all of the citizens of the Bay Area.”

Claude Worrell, ambassador to the Guyanese embassy in Washington D.C. was present at the head table to thank Jones and the Peoples Temple for their present agricultural mission in is country and Cecil Williams of Glide memorial church was also present to give Jones and the Temple a plaque of appreciation for the Temple’s work in humanitarian ministry.

Perhaps the most poignant accolade came from Lt. Gov. Dymally who commented that “all people can live, work and love together for here was an example of thousands who had come together – blacks, whites, Orientals, the young and the old of all denominations – in a temple, God’s temple.”

The evening, which included outstanding band and vocal entertainment as well as dancing by the Temple’s young people concluded with Jones telling the assemblage that prayer alone wouldn’t do the job – “you have to put legs to your prayers.”

He also introduced and thanked Walter Handy and Dr. and Mrs. Si Boynton of Ukiah for their support, counsel and friendship during many difficult times.

Testimonial honors Fresno Four – transcription

If you came to spend an evening Assemblyman Willie Brown, Lt. Gov Marwyn Dymally, San Francisco’s Mayor George Moscone Police Chief Charles R. Galm, District Attorney Joseph Freitas. [Xxxxx] and his wife and a member of the John Birch Society where do you think you would be? At a political rally right? Wrong. You would be one of the more than 5,000 people who traveled out for a testimonial [xxxxx] San Francisco for Pastor Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple honoring the Fresno Four [xxxx] with the proceeds to go to the church’s many charitable projects.

The whole evening was precipitated by the participation of approximately 1,000 members of the People’s Temple who traveled from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Ukiah churches to protest the continued confinement of the Fresno Bee newsmen in a peaceful demonstration supporting the First Amendment to the Constitution.

“We have seen no greater example of the brotherhood of man,” said James Bert, city editor of the Fresno Bee speaking for himself and the three newsmen, “than was exemplified by Rev. Jones and the members of the multi-racial, later-faith People’s Temple” who came to Fresno in their support.

Mayor George Moscone presented a plaque thanking Jones for ‘his personal support given on many occasions whenever asked” and State Senator Milton Marks presented the pastor with a recognition on behalf of the entire State Senate commending the work of the People’s Temple.

A certificate of honor was also presented Jones by Bob Mandesohn on behalf of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors thanking the church for its many projects “which have been so beneficial to all of the citizens of the Bay Area.”

Claude Worrell, ambassador to the Guyanese embassy in Washington D.C. was present at the head table to thank Jones and the Peoples Temple for their present agricultural mission in is country and Cecil Williams of Glide memorial church was also present to give Jones and the Temple a plaque of appreciation for the Temple’s work in humanitarian ministry.

Perhaps the most poignant accolade came from Lt. Gov. Dymally who commented that “all people can live, work and love together for here was an example of thousands who had come together – blacks, whites, Orientals, the young and the old of all denominations – in a temple, God’s temple.”

The evening, which included outstanding band and vocal entertainment as well as dancing by the Temple’s young people concluded with Jones telling the assemblage that prayer alone wouldn’t do the job – “you have to put legs to your prayers.”

He also introduced and thanked Walter Handy and Dr. and Mrs. Si Boynton of Ukiah for their support, counsel and friendship during many difficult times.

 

Service to Fellow Man – Transcription

Peoples Temple is many things to many people.

[In] demonstrations last week on behalf of the four jailed Fresno Bee reporters is emblematic of his active role in society.

The church, based in the Bay Area, provides housing and care for the elderly and organs and dormitories for college students.

It operates a farm mission in South America to produce food for the underprivileged while teaching the nationals self-sufficiency and attempting to dispel a bad image of the United States.

It has a fleet of Greyhound-type buses for transporting its 9,000 members throughout the state to church meetings and rallies.

It offers free legal services and health care.

It has a boat sailing off of the South American coast which provides medical and agricultural assistance to these countries. Each year it champions thousands of dollars to many philanthropic organizations that the list of beneficiaries rivals a United Way directory. Let the Peoples Temple hear of a need and the congregation jumps in to help.

In the last year the congregation’s donations have:

-Helped keep open a medical centered in San Francisco which otherwise would have closed.

– Benefited research in the medical fields of cancer, heart disease and sickle-cell anemia.

– Supported educational broadcasting such as KQKD

– Provided emergency cash to distressed families, particularly those of state law enforcement officers.

– Benefited the treasuries of groups fighting hunger, building schools, developing hospitals, [xxxx] church programs or working with [xxxx]

-Aided civil rights causes, both financially and through demonstrations including those involving discrimination and the jailing of the Bee newsmen and Los Angeles Times reporter William Farr. Peoples Temple Christian Church as it is properly called is affiliated with the 8-million member, nationwide Disciples of Christ.

The man behind the manyfaceted church is the Rev. Jim Jones, a prophet and revolutionary for 15 years, and formerly a teacher and businessman.

Jones’ theology is succinct: “The highest worship to God is service to your fellow man.”

Members of the church interviewed.

Jones admits he doesn’t adhere to fundamentalist teachings of the Bible but is driven by his oft-repeated phrase of serving fellow man. He does it with a budget of [x00,000]

– “We try to be frugal” he says – and a congregation that is willing to leave home or job to get involved.

“I visualize God as love” he said in an interview. “You can reverse that, too and say love is God. I try to maintain the highest degree of love and compassion that I can with my [xxxxx] [xxxx]

“Jesus, in Matthew, put the pressure on the church by emphasizing it’s what you do for others that counts. That’s what we try to do, to serve others.”

A native of Indiana where he graduated from the University of Indiana and A Bible college, Jones began preaching soon after he got out of school. He also worked part-time as a school teacher to supplement his income.

After serving several pastorates there, he came to California 11 years ago, settling in the small Mendocino County community of Redwood Valley eight miles north of Ukiah.

“We considered California more progressive,” said Jones of the family’s decision to come West. “Having adopted a black child, we thought it created a lot of problems. We heard there were a number of ethnic groups gathered in Redwood Valley and it would give us an opportunity to grow up in a small town.”Jones stated that of his nine children, eight are adopted and most are of mixed ancestries including Korean, Indian, Mexican and Japanese.

The church is as diverse as his family and has been described by one religious writer as the most multiracial congregation ever. Jones said [about] 35 percent are Caucasian, 45 percent black, 10 percent Chicano and 10 per cent Indian and Asian.

“We go out of our way to break down all barriers between socio-economic and ethnic classes,” said Jones. “We find a very wholesome bond between all these people.”

“We think there is something important in the Kerner Commission Report which said we are heading toward two societies, spate but unequal one black, one white. One of the sharpest messages of the Scripture is that God doesn’t see a difference in people.

“One of the challenges of this church is that there are no barriers between young and old. The typical thing you see in a church is a gap between age. You don’t see that in our church. Rather do you see a gap between race or creed.”

In the same vein the church is open to all beliefs. There are both fundamentalists – “not too many” said Jones – and agnostics. “We even have people who come here just because they like to help people and care about serving people. They feel they are equals. We don’t claim to be a highly evolved people.”

The basic tenet Jones said, is that members should subscribe to the practical teachings of Jesus Christ. “We don’t attempt to define the furniture of heaven of the temperature of hell” said Jones. “I’m not futuristic. That’s one of the dangers. Jesus said we should build the kingdom of heaven on earth. Well, when we were marching some said it was the Lord’s will for those men to be in jail. I think that is a dangerous assumption.”

Jones began his California ministry in the garage of his redwood valley home. Some members of his Indiana congregation followed him west and the church grew. He opened a branch church in the Fillmore district of San Francisco seven years ago. It now serves all his [congregation.] Another branch was opened in Los Angeles four years ago.

There are members throughout the state who are transported to services on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at one of the three churches by the fleet of busses. Jones or one of 12 assistant pastors conducts the services with Jones alternating weekends in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The San Fransisco church is in what Jones calls a traditional [xxxx] a kind way of saying a member of the buildings are [xxxx] It is a church without permanent [roots] so that the facility can be transformed into a community center. From there area residents are offered free medical care provided by volunteer nurses and doctors, and free legal services provided by volunteer lawyers.

[Second to last paragraph on column one, page two is illegible]

However, [xxxxx] [xxxxx] [xxxxxx] Jones and Peoples Temples [xxx] not [xxxxxx] any kind of religious [introduction] of hungry persons before giving them bread.

[xxxxxx] is [xxx] special programs.

Peoples Temple has donated thousands of dollars into other causes such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, Big Brothers America and Indian rebuild program and a plan to combat hunger.

When a law enforcement officer is critically shot or slain the church usually steps in to help with money, said Jones. The church gave the family of slain High Way Patrolman in Los Angeles [xxxx]

“Being that we are activists, we [xxxx] want it know that we are opposed to violence,” said Jones, whenever an officer is shot we make a deposit to the family. The typical image of the person who protests for people’s rights is that they are militant. We are pacifists.”

“Jones said the bulk of the church’s protest is limited to letter writing. However, about 1,000 members of the church, wearing paper ‘Free the Bee Four’ [xxxxx] on their lapels participated in last weeks [xxxx] of the Democratic [xxxxx] in San Francisco. One of those attending was Rosalynn Carter, wife of Democratic Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who invited Jones to dine with her. “I can tell you this” said Jones “ I told her all about the Bee Four.” Jones said the money for all the church’s activities comes from members “and others just wanting to help.” “We have no demand on [xxxx] said Jones. “When the congregation sees things happening, they tend to respond. Some causes just stir people up that they put on rummage sales or bake sales. That helps [xxxx] money.

Jones also said the church is “very frugal,” and called the use of the San Francisco church ‘sanctuary” as a multipurpose facility as an example. Jones said the motivating force for many involved in Peoples Temple is the work or the [???]

“We are interested in your newsmen, for example, because freedom should be a [xxxx] for everyone,” said Jones. “We have demonstrated [xxxx] the Civil Rights marches years back. But we saw that the only people showing concerns were the newsmen so we decided to get involved.”

 

Service to Fellow Man – Annotation

Peoples Temple is many things to many people.

[In] demonstrations last week on behalf of the four jailed Fresno Bee reporters is emblematic of his active role in society.

The church, based in the Bay Area, provides housing and care for the elderly and organs and dormitories for college students.

It operates a farm mission in South America to produce food for the underprivileged while teaching the nationals self-sufficiency and attempting to dispel a bad image of the United States.

It has a fleet of Greyhound-type buses for transporting its 9,000 members throughout the state to church meetings and rallies.

It offers free legal services and health care.

It has a boat sailing off of the South American coast which provides medical and agricultural assistance to these countries. Each year it champions thousands of dollars to many philanthropic organizations that the list of beneficiaries rivals a United Way directory. Let the Peoples Temple hear of a need and the congregation jumps in to help.

In the last year the congregation’s donations have:

-Helped keep open a medical centered in San Francisco which otherwise would have closed.

– Benefited research in the medical fields of cancer, heart disease and sickle-cell anemia.

– Supported educational broadcasting such as KQKD

– Provided emergency cash to distressed families, particularly those of state law enforcement officers.

– Benefited the treasuries of groups fighting hunger, building schools, developing hospitals, [xxxx] church programs or working with [xxxx]

-Aided civil rights causes, both financially and through demonstrations including those involving discrimination and the jailing of the Bee newsmen and Los Angeles Times reporter William Farr. Peoples Temple Christian Church as it is properly called is affiliated with the 8-million member, nationwide Disciples of Christ.

The man behind the manyfaceted church is the Rev. Jim Jones, a prophet and revolutionary for 15 years, and formerly a teacher and businessman.

Jones’ theology is succinct: “The highest worship to God is service to your fellow man.”

Members of the church interviewed.

Jones admits he doesn’t adhere to fundamentalist teachings of the Bible but is driven by his oft-repeated phrase of serving fellow man. He does it with a budget of [x00,000]

– “We try to be frugal” he says – and a congregation that is willing to leave home or job to get involved.

“I visualize God as love” he said in an interview. “You can reverse that, too and say love is God. I try to maintain the highest degree of love and compassion that I can with my [xxxxx] [xxxx]

“Jesus, in Matthew, put the pressure on the church by emphasizing it’s what you do for others that counts. That’s what we try to do, to serve others.”

A native of Indiana where he graduated from the University of Indiana and A Bible college, Jones began preaching soon after he got out of school. He also worked part-time as a school teacher to supplement his income.

After serving several pastorates there, he came to California 11 years ago, settling in the small Mendocino County community of Redwood Valley eight miles north of Ukiah.

“We considered California more progressive,” said Jones of the family’s decision to come West. “Having adopted a black child, we thought it created a lot of problems. We heard there were a number of ethnic groups gathered in Redwood Valley and it would give us an opportunity to grow up in a small town.”Jones stated that of his nine children, eight are adopted and most are of mixed ancestries including Korean, Indian, Mexican and Japanese.

The church is as diverse as his family and has been described by one religious writer as the most multiracial congregation ever. Jones said [about] 35 percent are Caucasian, 45 percent black, 10 percent Chicano and 10 per cent Indian and Asian.

“We go out of our way to break down all barriers between socio-economic and ethnic classes,” said Jones. “We find a very wholesome bond between all these people.”

“We think there is something important in the Kerner Commission Report which said we are heading toward two societies, spate but unequal one black, one white. One of the sharpest messages of the Scripture is that God doesn’t see a difference in people.

“One of the challenges of this church is that there are no barriers between young and old. The typical thing you see in a church is a gap between age. You don’t see that in our church. Rather do you see a gap between race or creed.”

In the same vein the church is open to all beliefs. There are both fundamentalists – “not too many” said Jones – and agnostics. “We even have people who come here just because they like to help people and care about serving people. They feel they are equals. We don’t claim to be a highly evolved people.”

The basic tenet Jones said, is that members should subscribe to the practical teachings of Jesus Christ. “We don’t attempt to define the furniture of heaven of the temperature of hell” said Jones. “I’m not futuristic. That’s one of the dangers. Jesus said we should build the kingdom of heaven on earth. Well, when we were marching some said it was the Lord’s will for those men to be in jail. I think that is a dangerous assumption.”

Jones began his California ministry in the garage of his redwood valley home. Some members of his Indiana congregation followed him west and the church grew. He opened a branch church in the Fillmore district of San Francisco seven years ago. It now serves all his [congregation.] Another branch was opened in Los Angeles four years ago.

There are members throughout the state who are transported to services on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at one of the three churches by the fleet of busses. Jones or one of 12 assistant pastors conducts the services with Jones alternating weekends in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The San Fransisco church is in what Jones calls a traditional [xxxx] a kind way of saying a member of the buildings are [xxxx] It is a church without permanent [roots] so that the facility can be transformed into a community center. From there area residents are offered free medical care provided by volunteer nurses and doctors, and free legal services provided by volunteer lawyers.

[Second to last paragraph on column one, page two is illegible]

However, [xxxxx] [xxxxx] [xxxxxx] Jones and Peoples Temples [xxx] not [xxxxxx] any kind of religious [introduction] of hungry persons before giving them bread.

[xxxxxx] is [xxx] special programs.

Peoples Temple has donated thousands of dollars into other causes such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, Big Brothers America and Indian rebuild program and a plan to combat hunger.

When a law enforcement officer is critically shot or slain the church usually steps in to help with money, said Jones. The church gave the family of slain High Way Patrolman in Los Angeles [xxxx]

“Being that we are activists, we [xxxx] want it know that we are opposed to violence,” said Jones, whenever an officer is shot we make a deposit to the family. The typical image of the person who protests for people’s rights is that they are militant. We are pacifists.”

“Jones said the bulk of the church’s protest is limited to letter writing. However, about 1,000 members of the church, wearing paper ‘Free the Bee Four’ [xxxxx] on their lapels participated in last weeks [xxxx] of the Democratic [xxxxx] in San Francisco. One of those attending was Rosalynn Carter, wife of Democratic Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who invited Jones to dine with her. “I can tell you this” said Jones “ I told her all about the Bee Four.” Jones said the money for all the church’s activities comes from members “and others just wanting to help.” “We have no demand on [xxxx] said Jones. “When the congregation sees things happening, they tend to respond. Some causes just stir people up that they put on rummage sales or bake sales. That helps [xxxx] money.

Jones also said the church is “very frugal,” and called the use of the San Francisco church ‘sanctuary” as a multipurpose facility as an example. Jones said the motivating force for many involved in Peoples Temple is the work or the [???]

“We are interested in your newsmen, for example, because freedom should be a [xxxx] for everyone,” said Jones. “We have demonstrated [xxxx] the Civil Rights marches years back. But we saw that the only people showing concerns were the newsmen so we decided to get involved.”

The Fresno Four Affair

In 1976 four reporters from the Fresno Bee newspaper were jailed for their refusal to divulge the name of a source for a public corruption article that revealed the deliberations of a Grand Jury hearing. The four men were placed in a minimum security jail for 15 days while media around the country decried the attack on the freedom of the press and the first amendment of the US Constitution.

While the four were imprisoned Jim Jones led over 1,000 members of Peoples Temple in protest of the attack on the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. After the reporters were released, Peoples Temple continued the effort to promote these values by donating to institutions, politicians, and newspapers that they believed also supported their principles. Peoples Temple had financially supported the freedom of the press as early as 1973.

The following transcribed and annotated newspaper articles are preserved in the FBI collection in file 89-4286-Bulky I. Note that these files were not meticulously labelled as individual items like most of the RYMUR files.

“A Church Gives $4400 To the Press.” San Francisco Chronicle, January 17, 1973. Transcription  || PDF || Annotation

“Church donation aids fight for press freedom.” Inter American Press Association no. 215, Feb.-Mar. 1973. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

Ray Steele Jr. “Peoples Temple: Service to Fellow Man.” The Fresno Bee, September 19, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

Kathy Hunter. “Testimonial honors Fresno Four.” Ukiah Daily Journal, September 27, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

“Thousands Pay Tribute to Jim Jones’ Ministry.” Ukiah Daily Journal, September 27, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

“Defending Others’ Rights: SF Church Members Demonstrate Support for Newsmen.” The Fresno Bee, September 10, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

Wallace Turner. “Jailing of Newsmen Protested on Coast: 10 Busloads of Church Members from San Francisco Picket Courthouse in Fresno.” The New York Times, September 11, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

Additional Sources

Rory Appleton. “Forty Years Later, The Bee Four’s Legacy Lives On.The Fresno Bee, September 3, 2016.

 

 

 

Probe Asked of People’s Temple

By Rev. Lester Kinsolving
Examiner Religion Writer
Wednesday, September 20, 1972 Page 1

The State Attorney General’s Office has been asked to investigate the People’s Temple Christian (Disciples) Church in Redwood Valley – as well as the conduct of the church’s attorney, Timothy O. Stoen, who is also assistant district attorney of Mendocino County.

The written request was made by the Rev. Richard G. Taylor, who served as pastor of Ukiah’s First Baptist Church for six years prior to his appointment in July as South Coastal Area minister for the American Baptist Churches of the West.

In his letter to Attorney General Evelle J. Younger the Rev. Mr. Taylor noted:

“In March of 1972, I requested that Sheriff Reno Bartolomie ask the Attorney General’s Office to investigate the People’s Temple and in particular the conduct of Timothy O. Stoen, attorney for The People’s Temple and assistant district attorney of Mendocino County.”

“Prior to that, I asked Mendocino County District Attorney Duncan James about Stoen’s conduct with Maxine Harpe, a suicide whose funeral service I conducted.”

“I knew that Mrs. Harpe had been connected with the People’s Temple Christian Church of Redwood Valley (near Ukiah). I had been informed by Mr. Stoen that prior to her suicide she had been engaged in counseling at the People’s Temple, in which counseling Mr. Stoen had participated.”

“Following Mrs. Harpe’s death, her sister informed me that unidentifiable persons from People’s Temple had occupied her sister’s house and ransacked it.”

“District Attorney James informed me that he had discussed this matter with Stoen, but no action was taken other than requesting Stoen to refrain from any further misuse of his office.”

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office in San Francisco said that the requested investigation would be considered.

In Ukiah, District Attorney James confirmed the Rev. Taylor’s statement that no action had been taken – but he otherwise declined to comment.

Mendocino Sheriff Bartolomie was not available for comment.

But Undersheriff Tim Shae [Shea] firmly denied the claim of another of the People’s Temple’s three attorneys – that the Temple has armed guards at the sheriff’s request.

Redwood Valley attorney Eugene B. Chalkin [Chaikin] wrote the Examiner before any story on the People’s Temple was published – as did 54 other Temple members. In his letter, dated September 11 – and hand delivered by Sharon Bradshaw of the Mendocino County Probation Department, Chalkin wrote:

“Our local law enforcement agency has requested that we have trained persons carry firearms, and we have reluctantly acquiesced to the sheriff’s request.”

But when this letter was quoted to Shea, the undersheriff replied:

“That is an absolutely untrue statement. We never requested this.”

When informed that armed guards (three pistols and a shotgun) were spotted outside the People’s Temple on Sunday morning September 10, Shea explained:

“That is private property and people may carry firearms on private property provided the weapons are not concealed.”

Shea did not comment upon the letter of the Rev. Mr. Taylor who, while he was ministering in Eureka, served on the Mendocino County Planning Commission, the Community Center Committee, and as president of the Ukiah Ministerial Association in 1970.

In his letter, the Rev. Mr. Taylor also informed the Attorney General:

“What is of utmost concern is the atmosphere of terror created in the community by so large and aggressive a group, which effect is implemented by Stoen’s civil office.”

“The People’s Temple, I understand, employs armed guards, contending that their pastor, the Rev. Jim Jones, has been threatened.”

“From my experience, I seriously wonder if they have ever been threatened and whether instead they have not contrived such reports in order to justify armed guards at their services which attract crowds in excess of one thousand people.”

“I have counseled with one paroled inmate of a California correctional institution who was sponsored on parole by People’s Temple, but after he lived for some time in Redwood Valley, he planned to move away. Here again, a group of men from People’s Temple held him incommunicado for four hours – leaving him terrified.”

“For these reasons and because I sincerely believe more questionable activity is going on, I do request that your office conduct an investigation.”

The Prophet Who Raises the Dead

The Prophet Who Raises the Dead

By Rev. Lester Kinsolving
Examiner Religion Writer
[Sunday, September 17, 1972, Page 1]

REDWOOD VALLEY — A man they call The Prophet is attracting extraordinary crowds from extraordinary distances to his People’s Temple Christian (Disciples) Church in this Mendocino County hamlet.

His followers say he can raise the dead.

The PTC (D) Church’s mimeographed newsletter recently described the resurrection of a Los Angeles man.

And one director of the Temple claims that The Prophet has returned life to “more than 40 persons…people stiff as a board, tongues hanging out, eyes set, skin graying, and all vital signs absent.”

His congregations, mostly black, believe The Prophet possesses other, equally amazing powers. They come from all over the West – from as far away as San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles – to the Temple, 7 miles north of Ukiah.

The weekend flock is gathered by the Temple’s fleet of 11 ex-Greyhound buses for services that often run from 11 in the morning until 11 at night, broken only for communal meals prepared by Temple cooks. Congregations number over a thousand and attendance at weekly services is similarly impressive.

The Prophet (or Prophet of God, as he prefers to call himself) is the Rev. Jim Jones, 41, the part-Cherokee former pastor of the People’s Temple Christian Church in Indianapolis.

Utopian Community

So powerful was the appeal of The Prophet’s ministry reportedly designed to create a Utopian community along the lines of the early Christian church that when he decided to move west seven years ago, a goodly number of his Indianapolis congregation came along.

No less than 165 Indianapolis Temple-ites – including several teenagers – moved to Redwood Valley with the Rev. Mr. Jones in 1965. The Temple’s total participating memberships today is 4,711, according to one of its directors.

“Grand total income” is said to have been $396,000 for the year ending June 30, 1972, while “grand total paid out” is put at $343,000. Permanent funds: $260,000.

The resurrection cited in the Temple newsletter transpired inside an ex-Christian Science Church building in Los Angeles – the latest in a series of PTC (D) Church real estate transactions. And the Temple is presently in final stages of acquiring an auditorium to house the proposed San Francisco People’s Temple – just across Geary Boulevard from the Japanese Trade Center.

Other holdings: A 40-acre children’s home, 3 convalescent centers, and 3 college dormitories. Other operations: A heroin rehabilitation center and, in the words of one of the Temple’s three attorneys, “our own welfare system.”

The Rev. Mr. Jones’s influence in the Ukiah area is apparently just as strong as his impact on the congregations who jam his temple (with its 41-foot indoor swimming pool) to overflowing. Not only is The Prophet a part-time teacher in the local school system, he has also served as foreman of the Mendocino County Grand Jury.

He has stated to his flock:

“We have won over the sheriff’s office and the police department.”

He has certainly won over the assistant prosecuting attorney of Mendocino County, Timothy O. Stoen – who is one of the Rev. Mr. Jones’s five assistants, a member of the Temple’s board of directors – the man who claims “over 40” resurrections for The Prophet.

But the Rev. Mr. Jones has not won the hearts of all the locals. Four years ago, the Ukiah Daily Journal carried a story bannered, “Local Group Suffers Terror in the Night.”

It described menacing phone calls to The Prophet in the middle of the night – sometimes featuring the sound of heavy breathing, sometimes outright threats: “Get out of town if you don’t want to get blown out of your classroom window.”

Highly Respected

A large newspaper ad (8 columns, nearly full page) appeared in the Journal a month later as “an open letter to Rev. Jones, his family and his church members,” deploring “the unseemly words and actions of a small segment of this community.”

It pledged that “you are not only welcome in this valley but are highly respected” – and was signed by nearly 200 residents. But the harassment did not abate.

For this reason, The Prophet travels with impressively armed body guards. Attendants at services wear pistols in their gun belts.

These guardians are necessary, explains one of the church’s attorneys, Eugene B. Chaikin, because, “We have suffered threats and vandalism. Our local law enforcement agency has requested that we have trained persons carry firearms, and we have reluctantly acquiesced to the Sheriff’s instructions on this matter.”

There is little question of The Prophet’s influence on the Ukiah Daily Journal – for when The Examiner inquired about the People’s Temple and its charismatic pastor some months ago, Journal editor George Hunter immediately reported the inquiry to the office of prosecuting attorney.

‘Jim, The Prophet’

Thus relaying the news to the precincts of Timothy O. Stoen, assistant prosecuting attorney and assistant to The Prophet. Stoen promptly wrote to The Examiner to say, among other things, the Rev. Mr. Jones “goes by the self-effacing title of ‘Jim Jones.’”

Subsequently, Stoen explained that “our church bulletin writers are somewhat zealous” – but that’s the way they see it.” Stoen seems enthusiastic himself, though he prefers to call The Prophet just plain “Jim.” Here is an excerpt from a Stoen letter to The Examiner received five days ago:

“Jim has been the means by which more than 40 persons have literally been brought back from the dead this year. When I first came into the church, I was the conventional skeptic about such things. But I must be honest:

“I have seen Jim revive people stiff as a board, tongues hanging out, eyes set, skin graying, and all vital signs absent. Don’t ask me how it happens. It just does.

“Jim will go up to such a person and say something like, ‘I love you’ or ‘I need you’ and immediately the vital signs reappear. He feels such a person can feel love in his subconscious even after dying.

“Jim is very humble about his gift and does not preach it.” As a matter of fact, Stoen writes, “The Prophet eschews publicity.”

Additional Powers

[Stoen continued] “Whenever there is publicity, the extremists seem to show themselves. Jim has simply been hurt enough…. Jim Jones is NOT concerned for his own safety. His real concern is to prevent harm to his children and others in his church family who might be hurt for what he himself has stood for…” The Temple’s newsletter, however, is not the least bit shy about publicizing either his power to bring back the dead or his “additional powers.”

In exhibiting these powers to an unnamed woman in Los Angeles, the Prophet reportedly identified all the names of her relatives, the brands in her refrigerator, the cost of her insurance policy, and the exact price – ”TO THE PENNY” – of all the books she had purchased “years ago!”

Stoen’s written affirmation of the self-effacement of The Prophet did not include any explanation for the three tables just outside the main entrance of the People’s Temple.

‘Credibility’

These tables are loaded with either photographs, or neck pieces and lockets – all bearing the image of the Rev. Mr. Jones, and on sale at prices running from $1.50 to $6.00.

Attorneys Stoen and Chaikin have repeatedly contacted The Examiner, by phone calls, letters, and even via messenger – Sharon Bradshaw of the Mendocino County Probation Department – because, as Stoen puts it:

“People’s Temple does, frankly, have a remarkable human service ministry and is devotedly supported by extensive numbers of people. It is extremely important to us to keep our credibility.”

The Prophet, as Stoen describes him, is “supremely and totally dedicated to building an ideal society where mankind is united, life (human and animal and plant) is cherished, and the joys of nature and simplicity are esteemed.”

Furthermore, he adds, the Rev. Mr. Jones “receives 400 letters a day” and has adopted 6 children of assorted races. He “wears only used clothing and takes in abandoned animals.”

Meanwhile, his sturdy sentries lend the temporal assurance that the Temple of The Prophet is the best-armed house of God in the land.