A few facts regarding the Showalter Foundation:
Initially funded with an estate of $1,157,000, the foundation’s assets reached $10,298,000 in 2003 ranking among the top thirty Kansas foundations. Income from the foundation’s assets are used for relief work, training of missionaries and ministers and promotion of peace. Grants totaled $425,950 in 2003.
The foundation was originally overseen by two representatives from each of the large Kansas Mennonite denominations: General Conference Mennonite Church, (Old) Mennonite Church and Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.
The 2002 annual meeting minutes (page 6). Eugene Koehn brought a report stating that the Schowalter Foundation is worth over $6 million now. The proceeds are willed to 3 Mennonite conferences. The Holdemans have 2 members on a 6 member board.
The 2004 annual meeting minutes have a report (page 7) by Elwood Koehn where he said that the foundation set up by Mr Schowalter went into effect in 1954 and was valued at about $1 million. In 2003 the Holdeman church received $96,000 from the Foundation.
In 2005 it is noted by Eugene Koehn that the foundation continues to be favourable to programs such as CPS, CSI, mission board language study, and Gospel Tract projects, and that the way seems open to continue working with the Foundation.
In the 2009 minutes it is noted that the Holdeman boards that are applying to the Schowalter Foundation have to have their funding requests in by the 1st Saturday of February and the 1st Saturday of August. Humanitarian projects are favoured.
The Holdemans resolved that the term of office for the Schowalter Foundation be shortened to a 6-year term, and limited to 2 terms.
The income derived from the Schowalter Foundation, which in 2004 totaled nearly a million dollars, is money that comes from interest drawn on the original bequest. This brings us to yet another head-scratcher; Considering the stand that the Holdeman church takes regarding interest (or usury as it is more often called) how does it happen that they gladly and willingly receive a large chunk of income each and every year which is usury money? The money they receive from the Schowalter Foundation is money that violates an extremely dearly held principle of the followers of Holdeman. Church members have been expelled for putting money in interest bearing accounts. Little old ladies with a small nest egg have been forbidden to put it in the bank to draw a little interest and thus secure a more stable income for themselves. This inconsistency is hard to understand.
Perhaps it was in the early 1950s when the Holdemans accepted the income from the Schowalter Foundation that they made a seriously wrong move, the repercussions of which are felt to this day. When the church incorportated and began to run many business, such as CHA, MUA, schools, nursing homes, etc. the whole landscape of the church changed to one of a spiritual institution to that of a business institution. When the church becomes a business, with headquarters in Moundridge, KS, then the members can begin to understand a whole new set of expectations for themselves. Discipline will change. Instead of being brought under discipline so that the church can remain “the pure bride of Christ,” members are instead brought into compliance and brainwashed even further into believing that they cannot be saved outside of the Holdeman church. A breakup at this point would be disastrous. What would happen to all of the schools and nursing homes if there was a mass defection? It becomes more important to keep the members in line, afraid to ask questions or step out of line, so that there is a large body of quota-paying individuals. Eventually the word “church” begins to take on a whole new meaning, very subtly, of course and without anyone realizing what has happened. The “church” is this large monster that they are chained to. The church holds their lives in its hands, and if they displease the “church,” they will lose all. The church is where a man can receive prestige and honor from serving on the boards of child care homes, nursing homes and schools. A little power is delegated here and a little there, and soon these men with a little power are instrumental in promoting the idea that the church is everything. It is indeed a large temptation for a man to want to stay in good standing so that he can fly away to foreign countries, briefcase in hand to explore a new mission. (All expenses paid, of course, by the “church.”)
Parents who might have questions will mash them down because they have poured thousands of their own dollars into beautiful new schools and church buildings. It would seem a shame to walk away from their investment, especially when they have no idea where they would go. You can be sure that if they leave, the church secretary does not scan the books and write them a check for a refund of the money they contributed for the cost of the buildings. The buildings are owned by the “church.” Who is the church? A legal entity, “Church of God in Christ Mennonite, INC, headquartered in Moundridge KS. with subheadquarters in each legally organized congregation. In this way a great deal of pride is nurtured. Which one of them would be willing to meet in a small rented building for church services? Which one of them is willing to walk away from all of this grandeur? This is subtly and deceptively translated into a belief in the One True Church. When a man or a woman begins to doubt the One True Church, he/she is immedieately floundering in a sea of unanswerable questions. What of the schools, the missions, the nursing homes, what of the visible entity that they have come to know as the church? Very seldom does anyone go to the Bible to get a true scriptural understanding of what the “church” really is. It is now the legal entity known as Church of God in Christ Mennonite, INC. Everything that a church member loves and holds dear is wrapped up in that name.
At communion once a year, or whenever the ministers decide that communion can be observed, the members are required to stand and make a standard speech. This speech says “I am at peace with God and man, I believe in the doctrines of the church, and it is my desire to go along to communion.” Church members who imagined a little bit of independence and say “the doctrines of the Bible” have been disciplined. When they show surprise at the concern over their choice of wording, they are told that the doctrines of the church and the doctrines of the Bible are one and the same, and by saying the doctrines of the Bible instead of the doctrines of the church, they are showing that they do not believe that the church and the Bible are the same thing. I will leave it to the reader to ponder the deep dishonesty in this statement.
I am not in favor of John Holdeman and his ideas, but even he would be distressed at the present situation. One of the deeply held principles of the Holdeman faith is simplicity. Simplicity has been left far behind. There is a pseudo simplicity, one which speaks of itself often, and manifests itself in million dollar church buildings with nothing on the walls. This is called simplicity. I call it starkness. Simplicity actually means a lack of complexity. The Holdemans may appear to be simple on the surface, but there is tremendous complexity beneath the surface. This is very confusing, and rather than think it through, the average individual gives up their questions, surrenders to the power of the church, and suddenly feels great peace. All struggle ceases, they put their lives in the hands of the ministers, which translates as having confidence in the church, the ministers are now pleased with them and allow them freedom from harassaing visits. It surely is a good thing to trust the church. Turmoil ceases, but vitality and courage are pressed flat as a pancake. Friends, there is so much more!
In the name of truth justice mercy and love!