The Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association Update
Update from Wes White on the recent developments within the Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association…
Thanks for asking about the status of the Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association. There has indeed been a recent development. More about that in a moment. As you know, RLDEA cannot move forward in its mission until after Allie’s estate has been settled and it is well known that her estate is still tied up in legal proceedings. Again, since I am not involved in Allie’s estate, I receive limited information about what is and what isn’t being contested. And, I’m obviously not involved with CEM in any way. However, I do receive information from church people about this most unfortunate situation on a fairly regular basis. It seems as though every two or three weeks I receive a call or email about it. And I think the information I receive in these calls is symptomatic of the problems within the Armstrong COG movement. Let’s back up. I was seldom involved in CEM when Ron was in his prime. It was after Ron got sick that I received a call from Allie’s first social media employee (around 2014?). She related to me that CEM needed help. She said it would be nice if I could come over and help out CEM from time-to-time. So I met with Allie and asked her if that was true. Allie told me she would indeed appreciate any help I could give CEM. So I tried to assist CEM with sermons, Friday-night Bible studies, and various administrative matters. It is no secret that I found Allie difficult to work with and, after a few years, I told her I wanted to be completely out of any service to CEM. I had come to the conclusion that, if I continued helping CEM, it just might end my friendship with Allie. And I have come to believe that personal friendships are more important than religious organization relationships. Still, I stressed to Allie that, since she was a widow, she could call on me to help her with non-CEM matters. So she and I stayed in regular communication. We talked on the phone a lot. We emailed. We went to lunch. And I did my best to keep from being drawn into the tar baby of CEM. Toward the end of her life (forgive me for bringing up old news), she told me she had lost confidence in the CEM board and asked me to come up with options for some of her estate. I suggested she consider creating a 501c3 called the Ronald L Dart Evangelistic Association so she could leave a major portion of her estate there instead of to CEM. She decided this was her best option and had me get with my CPA and set it up for her. Back to these phone calls and emails I am getting these days. I am told that there is a movement within the Armstrong COGs that is promoting the tale: “Wes took advantage of a senile old lady at the end of her life.” When I am told this, I always ask, “To what end?” I ask, “How have I benefited from Allie’s attempt to leave her estate to RLDEA? What do I get out of all this drama?” These relaters always (without exception) tell me that the accuser did not reveal those pieces of information. Each accuser only said that I took advantage of a senile old lady. It’s important to note that not a single one of these accusers has ever talked to me personally about how I supposedly took advantage of an old lady. Not a single one. In fact, I believe you can count on one hand the number of people who contacted me and asked me about the circumstances surrounding the setting up of the RLDEA. In light of Proverbs 18:13, I am perplexed as to how a person can make a judgment on a matter such as this if he/she has not talked to me personally. Yet, many are making judgments in this matter. Most who regularly read the Painful Truth blog site already know the answer as to why this type of improper interpersonal communication happens so frequently within the Armstrong movement. This is all part of the dysfunction that exists within the Armstrong COGs because the love of God is too many times totally absent! I suppose that, in an effort to be transparent, I should reveal what I have received from the estate of Allie Dart. I received a $1,000 inheritance from Allie’s estate. (Many, many people already know that because copies of her will have been passed around and shared among so many people in the church. I am amazed at how many people are so obsessed with Allie’s will – people who hardly knew her, if at all.) I also received a $250 honorarium for preaching her funeral. And I received Ron’s personal Bible. Now, what can I expect to get from Allie in the future? Actually, nothing. Yes, I am the president of RLDEA which will eventually receive funds from Allie’s estate. But that’s not going to be my money. Instead, I will be one of three people responsible for using those funds to promote Ron’s works. Well, that is, if we are not legally prevented from doing so. And since the RLDEA is a 501c3 non-profit corporation, I can’t just take all that money and run off to Vegas for a gambling spree. The state of Texas and the US Treasury department send people to jail for this type of illegal expenditure. And, while I am grateful for what was given to me by Allie’s will and while I am grateful to be given the opportunity to promote Ron’s works, the fact remains that I already have a ministry which takes up just about all of my free time: Dynamic Christian Ministries (which never accepts donations from the public because it is self-funded.) So, if I end up actively involved in RLDEA, it is going to require certain sacrifices on my part. And let’s be clear: I will not shy away from those necessary sacrifices because, while Allie was alive, she made me promise that I would do this. And when I give someone my word, I stand by it. On a personal note, I usually found it heart-breaking to go over to CEM during the last years of Ron’s life. Ron was a man who had so many supporters while he was healthy. He was so popular in the Armstrong movement. By the time I came on to the scene at CEM, he had lost most of those supporters. You see, most of those lost supporters were with him because of what they could get, get, get from him while he was producing. While Ron was in his prime, he gave these folks great sermons, great articles, and the best Feast site in the US. By the time I came on to the scene, it was all over. During his illness, he had come to realize that, as long as those former supporters could get, get, get from him, they were right there with him – often under foot. But the minute they could no longer get, get, get from Ron, so many were gone. They left him. And, according to Ron and Allie, few seldom came by to visit him or to inquire as to how they could help him during the last years of his life. So again, sometimes it was heart-breaking to visit CEM while Ron was ill. At this time today, Gary and Cathy Gibbons are also on the receiving end of false accusations by people in the church. It’s important to note that, Gary and Ron had been close friends since the early 1980s. And, during the last years of Ron’s life, Gary was Ron’s best friend. Ron so looked forward to walking down the hall to Gary’s office every day where Gary stopped work for his other clients to patiently spend time with Ron. At that time, others (such as Richard Glasgow, Richard Crow, and I) would do the Friday night Bible studies. After Gary received a recording of each study, he would painstakingly work with Ron to record an introduction for that study. And Gary never charged CEM for that service or for a whole lot of other services. Meanwhile, Cathy (who has been a Hospice volunteer for 17 years) was running all kinds of errands for Allie and helping her with so many other things. Cathy reluctantly accepted a position on the CEM board because Allie begged her to. According to what Allie told me, Cathy (unlike so many others) never held out her hand for money after helping Allie with a task. Yet, Gary and Cathy are now being called “snakes.” Again, symptomatic name calling. Admittedly, this whole affair has been somewhat unpleasant for Gary and Cathy and me, but we’ll be fine. Our consciences are clear because we know we have not in any way taken advantage of the Darts. And actually, our personal feelings are so secondary in the overall scheme of things. My purpose in bringing this up is because, once again, I feel the need to caution people in the Armstrong movement. There needs to be a cessation of the dysfunctional methods we have been learning in our years within the Armstrong churches. There needs to be more love within this movement. As I keep repeating, conflict resolution is almost totally absent from many of those who have come out of the Armstrong COGs. The ability to sit down and work out differences barely exists. That’s why we see so many acrimonious splits. Now to answer your question, let me start by congratulating you on your timeliness. You must have some good sources because there was a recent development that was major. It is my understanding that a significant amount of money has gone into Allie’s estate. This money which will ultimately end up in RLDEA. It is money that has been earmarked by Allie for promoting Ron’s materials. So we are excited about the possibility of promoting Ron’s materials. I apologize that I don’t have more details at this time, but I’m sure we’ll know more about this development over the next few months. One final thought: I don’t know who owns Ron’s and Allie’s personal correspondence (their emails, their private notes, etc.). Again, this is none of my business because this is an estate matter. But it is my prayer that these files (electronic and hard copy) are carefully preserved for history’s sake. I believe that (if Jesus doesn’t return soon) Ron’s and Allie’s personal records will prove to be a treasure trove for future historians who specialize in hagiography. My guess is that Ron and Allie’s personal files contain some great information regarding many of today’s players in this drama. I welcome the release of that information sooner than later. But again, this is not my call. He that hath an ear… In the meantime, may God forgive us for the lack of love and understanding within the body of Christ. If you’d like, I will keep you posted as I learn more.
Wes White and Nancy White produce a live, weekly internet show called, “Start Our Sabbath.” Wes may be reached at [email protected]