The Assembly currently has two corporations. One is Torch and
Testimony, a California non-profit corporation. The persons listed
on the board of Torch and Testimony are Robert Ford, Mark Miller,
Tim Geftakys and possibly Jim Hayman. Early records list Steve
Irons who has left the organization. Torch and Testimony run
a private school, Cornerstone. The group did own property on
Commonwealth on Fullerton but sold it for a large profit. With
the interest from the sale of the Commonwealth property, a suburban
was purchased for Tim Gaftakkys for $25,000. The other corporation
is Dorian Enterprises, a for profit California corporation.
Currently the Assembly has groups in Fullerton, Huntington Beach,
Placentia, West Los Angeles, Northridge/Woodland Hills, San Diego,
Santa Barbara, San Louis Obispo, San Francisco and Arcada - all
in California. Groups in Nebraska are in: Omaha, Hastings, Norfolk,
Lincoln and one other town. There is a group is the St. Louis/Bellmore,
Missouri area. In Illinois groups are located in Gailsberg, Tuscola,
Springfield, Champagne and Forest Park. There is one group in
Annandale, Virginia and one in New Jersey. Outside the U.S. there
are 4 groups in Canada, one in Cuernevaca, Mexico and one in Manchester,
England. George visits each of these groups at least once a year.
Travel arrangements are made by "Gail" Fullerton Travel
There is a push to move into Nigeria, where there are 25 members,
and Kenya and Uganda. George probably has designs on taking over
a group called the Awakening Brethren in Kenya and Uganda.
It is reported that George wanted to be a missionary to China
and is an admirer of Watchman Nee. Currently there are three
members of the Assembly working in China. One weeks as a nurse,
another with computers. George has been to China twice. There
may be some churches in China George could control.
George and his wife Betty and their two sons Tim and David, all
take part in running the Assembly. All monies go directly to
Betty in the form of cash or money orders. A woman member who
was single did all their banking. It is believed much of their
funds are in precious metals which may be stored in their home
in Fullerton. Someone is always there. They have been impressed
by one investment letter in particular published by a Mormon,
possibly William Rusher. The Gaftakys' are fearful of tracing
and tracking. For that reason they never use credit cards - only
cash and travelers' checks. It is reported George and Betty do
file taxes. Betty was a teacher in the Fullerton School District
until she retired. She may have a pension from there. It has
been rumored that they also own a ranch in Texas. David is a
diabetic who was not expected to live past 30. His illness is
reportedly beginning to affect his eyesight and circulations.
He attended a junior college in St. Louis, Missouri and may have
taken a course in oceanography. He never finished college. He
is totally supported by the "works" that is, the Assembly
as is his brother, Tim. David has been called hard nosed and
authoritarian, always right and just like his mother, Betty.
The Assembly is not interested in many new recruits, just totally
committed ones. Almost all recruits are college students and
all are trained to be recruiters. After a recruit graduates from
college s/he is expected to devote two years on campus, recruiting
before they begin any career plan. Members are not allowed to
vote, although Betty Geftakys does vote. Members are prohibited
from watching television and reading newspapers and magazines,
although there is not any time to pursue interests outside the
The children of the early members of the Assembly are now seniors
in high school. It is probably too early to ascertain what they
will do with their lives.
The Assembly is now calling itself a Gathering of Christians or
just Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
General 'Assembly' Information.
"The Assemblies" are a group of about 50 tightly affiliated
small churches in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England and Nigeria,
under the authority of George Geftakys. The first "assembly"
had its origin in 1970 in three weekend seminars George gave in
his home to a group of about 35 young people. George Geftakys
is a Talbot Seminary graduate, ordained as a Baptist minister.
He says that after a very short period as a pastor of Sunkist
Baptist Church in Sun Valley, California, he became convinced
of Plymouth Brethren beliefs and so he left the ministry. The
Plymouth Brethren are an evangelical Christian denomination which
began in England in the 1800's as one of the many protests against
the formalism of the Church of England. They do not believe in
having a paid clergy. George and his wife, Betty, associated
themselves with the Plymouth Brethren while George attended graduate
school in philosophy at USC, and Betty supported the family by
teaching school. During these years, George was very active in
the Brethren Goodyear Assembly, the Pomona Assembly and Grace
Bible Chapel in Fullerton.
By 1970, George was working as an insurance salesman for New York
Life, Inc. and was loosely affiliated with the Plymouth Brethren
as an itinerant preacher. He asserts that he was by this time
disillusioned with the Brethren because they had "lost the
vision" of their beginnings and were compromising. Men who
were associated with George during this time in the Fullerton
and Goodyear Brethren Assemblies say that George was refused a
position of leadership, but was allowed to preach.
In 1970 George's son Timothy was in high school, and was involved
with Christian students. He was in touch with young people who
were in several Christian communes which had sprung up as part
of the then - current "Jesus movement." George's first
seminars were attended by these students, as well as by several
young couples and several older women who had met George through
his itinerant preaching in the Brethren Assemblies. The first
seminars were intended to inspire shallow Christianity - that
there was the possibility of each believer becoming "an overcomer",
and that there was the calling of believers corporately to "express
Christ" locally according to "the new Testament pattern",
which was George's version of what the Plymouth Brethren had failed
As a result of this teaching, in February 1971 the seminar group
obtained permission to use the recreation center at Hillcrest
Park in Fullerton, and began meeting weekly for Sunday morning
and afternoon church services, as well as a weekly evening Bible
study. A weekly prayer meeting was begun in a home. The Sunday
morning preaching was conducted on the Brethren pattern: all
the men were strongly encouraged to be prepared to "give
a word", of whom three would be spontaneously led by God
to preach. The last of the three was considered to have the weightiest
influence, and for a long time George always took that place.
In addition, the Sunday afternoon preaching and the weekly Bible
study was always done by George when he was in Fullerton. George
has continued to give 3 or 4 weekend seminars a year.
The students in the group became very active in witnessing for
Christ on their college campuses. They began campus Bible studies
and invited George to come as a weekly lecturer. Various other
gospel outreaches were developed, including "Gospel marches"
and open-air preaching. The late 1960's and 1970's were an era
of much public activism on the part of young people - on political
and social issues, as well as religious. It was a time of much
religious interest, especially with the publication of Hal Lindsay's
book, "The Late Great Planet Earth." The Calvary Chapel
movement began, with huge numbers of people being baptized in
the ocean. So the zeal and intensity of the assembly did not
seem unusual to those drawn to it. For those who initially came
to Christ in that movement, it was all they knew, and for those
who were attracted from other mainline churches, it provided a
very appealing sense of vitality and belongingness.
Six months after the Fullerton assembly began meeting as a local
church, George and Betty went on a six- month trip, visiting contacts
across the U.S. and Europe. Most of these contacts were individuals
and small groups who had been influenced by the ministry of T.
Austin Sparks, which had expressed concepts similar to George's
on the overcomer and the pattern of the local church. In some
of these places George was invited to preach to small groups meeting
in homes. As a result of this trip, people from around the country
began to visit Fullerton for George's seminars, and George was
invited to hold seminars in some of these places. Within two
years George quit his insurance in order to give full time to
the ministry. Betty continued to teach school for several years.
In time the Fullerton assembly grew to over 300, with another
200 visiting for seminars. Smaller assemblies were begun in some
of these places. Each of these assemblies have from 2 to 5 men
who are designated "leading brothers." The leading
brothers in each assembly is directly and regularly accountable
to George. Following the Brethren tradition, formal training
such as seminary is not considered necessary for the roles of
leadership and preaching. Technically, they repudiate the concept
of a paid clergy, believing that men should hold down full-time
jobs, in addition to their church responsibilities. However,
George, as well as both his sons and two other men, are now "supported
full-time in the work."
"The work" is a hand-picked group of people from many
of the assemblies, whom George has selected to especially support
his ministry. Most of them are chosen either for their leadership
qualities, or for their outstanding loyalty, or for certain useful
talents. All leading brothers and their wives are workers. The
workers meet twice a month on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00
p.m. in the various locales. The headquarters of "the work"
is in Fullerton, California, where George and his wife, Betty,
have their home. Once a month the workers on Fullerton are joined
by the workers from outlying assemblies, coming from as far as
San Luis Obispo. A joint workers meeting in Fullerton has about
50 people in attendance. Once a month, there is also a joint
workers meeting in Chicago, with workers coming from Nebraska
and Missouri as well as Illinois. Once a year there is a workers
seminar, held in Colorado, which is attended by all the workers
worldwide. In recent years there have been 120 to 140 people
Because of adhering to the Plymouth Brethren principle of no formal
training, all of these workers and leading brothers have received
their training only from George and Betty. They are all at least
20 years younger than them, and most of them came into the assemblies
when they were college age, having had very little or no previous
Christian experience. There is no one in the assemblies who is
George or Betty's peer in any way. Consequently, although plans
and problems are discussed by leading brothers and workers, decision
are always deferred to George and Betty's approval, and much of
the time is devoted to instruction from George in the meetings
of the leading brothers and workers. The tradition of the Plymouth
Brethren in rejecting the formal churches has been strongly continued
in George's teaching, so that there is no communication at all
with mainline Christianity. "The Assemblies" have become
a completely closed system.
Along with this isolationism has developed a very tight enmeshment
of "the saints" (as assembly people refer to themselves)
with each other. George and Betty have assumed the roles of father
and mother, and teach the workers to look upon themselves in those
roles as well. From that vantage point, there has developed extensive
control on people's lives, with no one in a position of authority
to challenge the doctrine, the directives or the procedures that
come down from George and Betty Gaftakys.
One example of this is the area of finances: All donations are
accepted only in cash; all the donations exceeding local expenses
in each assembly are sent directly to George and Betty by money
order; there is no accounting to anyone, and since the money is
given in cash, and received by George as personal gifts, there
is no accounting to the IRS.
There are many other area of control without accountability.
Communal living is strongly encouraged, in the form of "Brothers
Houses." These are homes with a married couple in charge,
who usually are workers. Several single men live with them in
order to be trained. The couple minutely oversees their schedules,
finances, relationships, assembly involvements, attitudes, etc.
There is no dating in the assemblies; two people may "spend
time" together under the direction of a leading brother.
There are mothers meetings in which young mothers are