Pirates of Privilege by Walter Rea







It was obvious from the beginning, to anyone who had the facts, that both the Davenport investigation and my trial for telling The Los Angeles Times that Mrs. White had copied her works, were a farce and fraud, staged for public consumption only. No justice was intended, no punishment was meant to be fair, and no recognition of facts made any changes or were meant to be seriously considered.


The same system sent some of the same men to both events. By their dual roll these divines, often consumed by human greed and driven by the lust for power, became the pirates of privilege by protecting themselves and their system. What they really did was effectively destroy not only confidence in man but even tarnished God Himself. After all, it is well written in stone over the Los Angeles County Courts building, "he who violates his oath profanes the dignity of faith itself."


The January 23 edition of The Sunday Sun had reported what was suppose to have been President Neal Wilson's finest hour. They listed several things he had said and promised:


 1. Wilson reported a recent visit with special FBI agents investigating Davenport's bankrupt investment empire . . . .


2. Wilson said the FBI probe - at the apparent behest of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies - seems focused on charges of misrepresentation and violations of usury laws.


3. Of the church's own probe, Wilson reported that about 50 top church officers will be publicly disciplined, perhaps within six weeks. And some officers whose actions were so "reprehensible," will be fired and their ministerial credentials withdrawn.


4. He pledged to "clean up this matter to the best of my ability."


5. On Tuesday, Wilson had issued a statement announcing that about 95 officials would be disciplined. 1


It was a star performance but was really not to be taken very seriously. That same "reformer" Wilson had been quoted in The Religious News Service of October:


Mr. Wilson said the church does not now plan to fire or reprimand anyone involved in the financial scandal, but will in the future "do more than simply remonstrate" against officials who mismanage funds. 2



And that is exactly how it turned out in the end. None of the drastic promises came to pass as punishment for the guilty.


It was even more clear what was going to be the end of the matter when Wilson's article appeared in The Adventist Review, the church's official paper:


I have asked the 25 officers of the General Conference to authorize a special group to be known as The President's Review Commission. This commission consists of 15 members, eight of whom shall be lay business and professional persons. . . . It is understood that definitive action will be the express prerogative of the General Conference officers. It is also understood that the General Conference officers may adopt or revise recommendations and forward such to executive committees, boards, or constituencies. 3


This was cynicism at its worst. Those officers of the General Conference that were to have the final say were some of the ones that were partners and investors in the Davenport scandal. Why would anyone expect them to vote themselves punishment or expect them to put themselves out of office, as Wilson had threatened to do? But it all sounded so grand and proper when Wilson ended his holy crusade by quoting from John Harris, which had come by way of Ellen White, the church's prophet: "Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard." 4 Harris didn't have the Adventist church in mind when he wrote that statement but Wilson and Ellen White did.


About the only ones that were satisfied at the actions of Wilson and the church were those that were covered up by their non-action. Perhaps the attorney said it best when he wrote:


I thought the editors of the Review provided a subtle editorial on your report of the handling of the Davenport matter by their placing Eric B. Hare's story, "The Elephant That Cried," immediately following your report. Many of us are crying tears every bit as large as those cried by the elephants, for your chart on page 8 tells us how confused we have become. Once again we have confused the admonition about refraining from judging. That admonition speaks to our inability to judge the fitness of someone for the kingdom because we do not know to what extent Christ's character has been substituted for that of the one in question. We do have the responsibility, however, for judging fitness for continued leadership, and that responsibility seems to have been abandoned.


Perhaps it is that our church is not hierarchical at all, but merely a collection of feudal barons who combine to keep a weak king in office.


We are appalled and saddened to discover that personal profiteering, self-aggrandizement, and major conflicts of interest causing the loss of millions of dollars of tithe funds result in no significant changes. Power does corrupt doesn't it? 5


On October 29, 1982 after the names of the committee had been made public, felt impressed that one more letter would not hurt my case and might help the church toward a sane approach to justice and integrity. So I wrote to the members of the investigation committee the following:



Dear Committee Member,


It has been well publicized that you are one of the chosen committee persons to review the Davenport matter. The hope of the church, as expressed by Elder Wilson, is that your special expertise will insure an honest, fair and exhaustive examination of the records. Thus your final report will wisely protect the innocent and hopefully suggest some punishment for the guilty, while suggesting guidelines, checks and balances to prevent a recurrence or similar debacle.


It is because of these objectives that I write you. I would wish that I could appear before the committee to lay before you relevant material that I am sure is not contained in the deposition. However, knowing the church’s effort to minimize my testimony in the Davenport affair, I would strongly urge you to have Attorney Jerry Wiley, Associate Dean and Professor of Law, University of Southern California, appear before your committee.


As one of the enclosed letters will show, he has consistently been ignored by Elder Wilson and others when he sought to be helpful in these matters. He does not speak for me, nor necessarily represent my point of view, but can bring a new dimension to your inquiry that I am sure the church records and attorneys do not stress. I believe that his appearance would be valuable and add much to the hope that your presentation to the church will be a fair and unbiased review. 6



But it was all for naught. To this day not one of the members of the committee has expressed any private or public interest in such a contact or any of my suggestions. There is a great deal of posturing in Adventism but very little progression toward honest action. John Adam surely had a point and some insights when he recorded:


I can understand Brother Wilson's situation. He would like the union presidents to return him to office in 1985. 7


Why not? Those same union men involved in the Davenport matter had put Wilson in the position he held to begin with. If there was to be any mass firing, Wilson would have to go with the others if they were to go. So no union man was fired and some were even exalted.


The events surrounding my firing were even more bizarre than the Davenport investigation and overlapped that scandal all the way. No reasonable, knowledgeable person can believe that the matter of E. G. White and her copy work was the main cause of my dismissal after 36 years in the ministry of the church. It was only a convenient "holy cause" to cover up a much more malignant motive and design.


After the January, 1980 meeting in Glendale, the Presidents Advisory Committee had mandated that if any more work was to be done on Ellen G. White and her plagiarizing, it should be done by others. That "others" was Fred Veltman of Pacific Union College, who to this day, four years later, has produced nothing for the public to view. It is doubtful in view of the past record of the church if Fred's full study and comments will ever be public knowledge. I was ordered to disassociate myself completely from the research for the present and the future members. Though I was dissatisfied with this ultimatum, I wrote the Committee:


Enclosed you will find some more material that we have been gathering concerning the subject of Mrs. E. G. White. This will be the last material that I will be sending, inasmuch as PREXAD has concluded that someone else in the church would be better able to deal with the subject and, as they stated, I would be better able to return to the full time ministry.


Actually the study did not take all that much time. There are many members in various places of America that have used their time and expertise to help with the project. These interested ones will carry on the research and bring it to a published form. Last year, we had 25 baptisms here in Long Beach and held a five day plan, a cooking class, and a six week effort, in addition to raising about seventy thousand dollars for two new additions to the local church school. Our President, Harold Calkins, tells me that not many Anglo pastors did any more and the only complaint he had was that the religious liberty offering was down. We hope we can raise it up this year.


I would have preferred to continue to meet with the committee that Elder Wilson selected as they gave fair value to the research and the feeling of mutual trust was present. Also, we could have worked on some of the problems that we did not have the time or commission to deal with that I am sure will linger on. But the Church has spoken; so we will try to comply. Any questions should now be directed to PREXAD or Jim Cox, who I understand has been selected to do additional work.


One or two thoughts remain to be considered. A.  Methodology: It was not the purpose of the first presentation to have things in a scholarly way, but to concern all of the members with an overview. I feel that was done. B. Attitude or Positive Approach: It is still my belief that the church does not as yet have a consistent view of Mrs. White and her authority, inspiration or position. It would seem this is yet to come and when it does come we can then deal with it. C. Tapes: Some have questioned their release. At the beginning of the meeting, I thought that we had a gentleman’s agreement that we all would let the finding of the committee be given to the Church by either Elder Wilson or PREXAD. Inasmuch as this was not done and many of the members, as well as those not members of the committee, went forward and gave printed, taped and written views, some of them most distorted of what happened, it did not seem fair or sane for me to be the only one that was muted, thus the release. Tapes are made to keep men honest.


It has been my pleasure to serve the Church in this capacity and to have been privileged to work with each of you. I believe with all my faith, that God has been with me in the study and that doors are opened that will never again be closed. Thanks again for your help in this effort and your friendship. 8


The letter was written in all sincerity and does establish, I believe, several points:


              A. That I was trying to work with and through the church.


              B. That I was not defying or fighting the structure as some later claimed.


              C. That I still wanted to be a part of the structure and work within it.


               D. That my work as a pastor had not suffered, as some were asserting. This

                    character assassination became more pronounced as my work became better known.


  E. It was felt necessary at the time to lay out what my work in the church had been in order to combat        

                    those that were misguidedly criticizing it.

At the same time I was receiving such slurs, the treasurer of the conference had written me:


Suffice it to say, I wholeheartedly urge that you not write a derogatory book on "company time" so to speak. Better yet, you lay down that sword. If you want a more challenging job these next three or four years to better capitalize on some of your training heretofore not used, let's see if we can find it. I personally feel that with all of your talents and energies, whether you realize it or not, you have found yourself very unchallenged in the Long Beach Area and no doubt this has inadvertently contributed to the work of dubious value in which you engaged. I suppose I should qualify the word "dubious" . . . essential to my happiness and salvation - - dubious--very dubious. 9


While I was impressed with Walden's concern at the time, I did not understand the "dubious" remark inasmuch as Wilson had felt it important enough to form a committee to hear it and relevant enough to have a Ph.D. give it further years of study. I know now that "dubious" means any study the church does not want or approve of.


The only other item of importance that happened before my November termination was the letter from the General Conference and Elder Wilson. (See Chapter 3, footnote #10 and Chapter 4, footnote #27. It was an ominous letter, if one knows anything about Wilson. If one rereads it and takes the opposite view to each item he mentions including my not being fired, the picture becomes very clear and also reveals the true Wilson. With that gut feeling that all was not well and the end was near, even before The Los Angeles Times article, I wrote a reply on July 26, 1980, four months before my termination:


Your letter of July 2 was appreciated and read several times. It is to our disadvantage that we cannot sit down and discuss some of the points that you raised. As you are the busy one perhaps I can bring several questions that you left in my mind to your attention.


I learned some things from the letter and will not take your time in the future as to the matters that involve any local issues. It has been my plan to keep my local conference informed as to the events that take place and had hoped that through them the rest of the Union or others involved would be notified.


Several of the questions that came to mind from your letter concerned either misunderstanding or misinterpretation of events or policies. First I know of no action by any local conference committee concerning me or my actions that I have refused to abide by or listen to. If any such actions have been taken or written out they have never been sent to me.


A further question came in your statements concerning lawyers and law. It was interesting that in the same mail in which your letter arrived.  One also came from John Adam in which he sent a copy of a statement he made to his attorney. Enclosed is a copy. If Des (Cummings) ever has to repeat that conversation under oath it will open some interesting chapters in the business dealing of the church and its leaders. It also seems to run contrary to some of your ideas about how a worker can or should defend his rights.


Finally, it would seem that the committee that sat with me for the two days in January was only advisory, inasmuch as much of what they voted was not carried through. For example, they felt, if you will listen to the tape, that my work was of such a nature that I could be of help to the church and I should be given help to put the material in written form so that it could be read and studied and discussed. Now the word comes that I should not only write nothing but say nothing, if you received the letter from President Harold Calkins. It would seem that whatever they concluded about the tapes would have no more weight or validity than some of the other actions that were not followed.


Thanks again for your time. I am sure that any other necessary communication can come through the local conference, as you suggested. 10


Far more important and significant than the letter from Wilson were the events of September 1979. They didn't seem all that important at the time, but perhaps more than any other week, those events were to shape Adventist history of the future and leave their impressions for all time.


We had scheduled a meeting in September 1979 in the Long Beach Church to make public for the first time facts and new materials that proved that Ellen White copied most of her works. In fact information would indicate that she didn't do much of it herself, but others did it in her name often without her knowledge.  A panel of ministers with advanced degrees had been selected to answer questions from the audience that might be raised by the research and presentation. The president of the Conference, Harold Calkins, was also invited to give the closing remarks so long as he operated within the time allotted to him. Several attempts were made officially to stop the meeting, and even Bradford, vice president of the General Conference, flew out to add pressure to a "cease-and-desist" order. A meeting was called in the President's office in Glendale in which I was summoned, and at my insistence Jerry Wiley, my attorney friend, and the one who was to chair the coming Long Beach meeting, was also asked to attend. It was only after several hours of bickering and shadow-boxing and a statement by Wiley that the meeting was allowed to end with the conditions that the following Sabbath the show would go on in the Long Beach Church. Jerry promised that as chairman he would certainly not let the meeting get out of hand and that with both Robert Olson of the White Estate and Harold Calkins representing the Conference present, surely they could handle any questions or problems that would arise; Jerry's final observation was that The Los Angeles Times might wonder out loud why an Adventist minister was not allowed to talk about Ellen White in an Adventist church on the Adventist Sabbath if the meeting was canceled.


But the events that astonished both the attorney and me were those movements by the church just two days before that meeting in the President's office. Harold Calkins had suggested that I meet with him and Bradford at Loma Linda, the Adventist Medical School. He stated that Bradford was interested in my research and wanted to know more about it. I invited both men to meet at my home, feeling that inasmuch as most of the material that I had been working with was there, they both could better grasp the scope and importance of the project by what they saw. Harold assured me that time and circumstances just would not allow Bradford to make the trip to my place and anyway Bradford had flown all the way from Washington D.C. just to talk and get better acquainted. So the time was set for the next day at Loma Linda.


Late that night I received a long distance call from a friend with connections to the church's headquarters in Washington D.C. They told me that some people knew I was going to be at Loma Linda in the morning and that plans were afoot at the scheduled meeting to fire me without a trial and without chance of appeal; that the local, union, and General Conference would be represented as one at the meeting. To say the least, after what Elder Calkins had stated to me about the meeting, I was astonished and in my ignorance and naively told my caller it just couldn't be so.

After arriving the next day at the medical center, I felt that the better part of wisdom would be to check on the rumor. It was true, some of my friends told me; they knew I was coming, they knew that a meeting was being held and that I was to be sacked without counsel or concern for facts and evidence. To make sure of the facts I had just learned I walked across the campus to the building indicated and asked if Elder Calkins was somewhere to be found. I was told that indeed he was upstairs in a meeting with others and they were waiting for me to come. With my mind racing and numb with the deceit being practiced on me, I told the receptionist that I would not be attending that meeting and to tell Harold Calkins he had lied to me. I whirled around and went to my car and left for Los Angeles where my first call was to the Attorney to inform him of the events. At that moment he became my attorney-at-law and from then to the present all contacts from the church on official matters were and have been channeled through him. The next day before the Glendale meeting in Harold's office, I asked Bradford to raise his right hand and swear that the rumor was not true and he had not been sent on a "strike" mission. Bradford, ever the loyal liar for the establishment, said piously that he did not involve himself in local political matters. Harold, who later was confronted with the overwhelming evidence, like Pilate before him, washed his hands of the matter by stating that yes, he had known of the meeting, but hadn't known its nature.


It is very clear in looking back, that if I had attended that meeting framed in lies and deceit, that I would have been sacked and become only one of the dozens of nameless martyrs that has littered the path of Adventism. If those martyrs ever exhumed a body that the church wanted left in the silence of the graves of the past, the people of the church and the world were not told that those crimes were committed in the name of God and the inspiration of Ellen White.


It is also very clear that those same men and leaders of the church would commit any crime, tell any lie and destroy any person that would attempt to communicate any information that was not acceptable to them, and that they would censor what information the public or church would receive. As Wilson had said in his letter, he did not care what I believed, found or suspected as long as I did not communicate it to others. It was equally clear that the judge and jury had already been out on me and had decided I was guilty and should be hung, as piously and religiously as possible. With the picture clear as to the future, it was easy to set things in motion to do what I knew I must do and which no one had yet been able to do: sensationalize and popularize what scholars and theologians had known for years but had been kept from saying.


When the Dart article was printed in me Los Angeles Times 11 there was nothing said in it that had not been said before in the privacy of Adventist circles.  It was not an attack on the church or even an indictment of its past history. The real problem was that the church itself had always censored its members in their reading. As I had written in The White Lie, " The success and genius of any religious movement is to tell the members what they want to hear and make sure they don't hear what you don't want them to hear.12 What the scholars knew in Adventism and were forced to keep silent about was altogether different than what the Adventist Review always force fed its readers. Even after four years of intensive research and dozens of pronouncements from scholars and the church's own papers, The Review could say:


Ellen White's use of sources was wider than many had realized, both in the range of her writings and the amount of "borrowing." At the same time it has become clear that her books are far more than compilations, that material from other sources is in most cases a minor part of her work and often is adapted in her use of it. The comparison to Bible writers' use of sources has been made convincingly. 13


Yet nothing had been convincingly studied, dialogued, researched or established except what the church was willing to have its members know. Censorship had been a part of Adventism from its beginning and had been argued as necessary and proper in the Glendale meeting of January 1980.14


The make-up of the committee that sacked me was interesting. Bradford was there from the General Conference and represented that same Wilson that had just a few months before written that I would not be fired. And it was the same Bradford who had written about the Davenport setup that:


We have no knowledge here at the General Conference of any shady dealings by Georgia-Cumberland with Dr. Davenport. The General Conference does have well defined policies with reference to investments, and the General Conference has consistently encouraged our institutions and conferences to adhere to these guidelines. In addition, we have insisted that all conferences and institutions require their employees to sign conflict of interest statements.


I have no way of knowing what Elder Cummings personally received on his investments. There was no move to defrock him, and the invitation to join the Sunbelt Hospital Association is in the capacity of spiritual adviser and director of chaplains. 15                                                                                                                                                                                                            


That same Bradford, who only a few months before had said that every time he came down the hall of the General Conference someone came out of a door muttering my name; Bradford, who used the "awesome power of the General Conference" to help cover up for his friends and colleagues in the system. There was the Union Conference President, Blehm, whose connections and profits with Davenport were well documented and were later sent to me by some members of the bankruptcy proceeding. There was Harold Calkins, my own president, who had done everything possible to rid the conference of me and any others that had found fault with his handling of monies in the conference and who had helped Davenport establish a line of credit through the Glendale Adventist Hospital. He denied that such a line of credit had been issued until confronted with the evidence and then said that it had been canceled. I asked him how a line of credit could be canceled weeks after it had been issued and after Davenport had used it all over the country. His answer did not give much assurance and perhaps gives some reason for some the financial problems that hospital is having at the present time. That same Harold who was quoted months before by Robert Olson as saying:


Administrators of Southern California are disturbed by Rea; Calkins could carry the Conference Committee with him if the decision was made to let Rea go. He is being retained in hopes of saving him. For he does have much useful talent. 16


Harold, who was later rewarded by Wilson, was sent to England to save the British Empire as the Adventist Union President. Fortunately for Britain he failed and was retired back in the states. Also there, my head elder from Long Beach, Widen Burkett with his vote; Burkett, who was one of Davenports best friends, and had $185,000 invested with him and reported to him each statement that he heard me make concerning his empire. Much of the rest of the Committee was made up of men that were in one way or another beholden to either Calkins or Blehm for their jobs or positions in the work of the Church. I was allowed no counsel and it was clear that only one decision would be made. They were not interested in why the article had appeared or what it said that was helpful or positive. Their attitude from the beginning, with the help of Bradford from the head of the system, was to "give me a fair hearing and hang me" as soon as possible, and they did. Can any reasonable person doubt that Davenport was also present in that room by his influence and control? After all, hadn't he written and seriously asked that I be dismissed for criticizing him and his actions and the actions of all the dishonest super salesmen of the clergy that were his accomplices? There is much more evidence than just speculation that the above was true. The church cut me off with only the policy of severance pay, took away my medical insurance knowing my wife was a diabetic and was uninsurable, and forced us to move from the Los Angeles area if we were to receive the standard moving fees allotted to any worker with our years of experience. We had hoped to reach some kind of settlement for the years of service and had worked in the system long enough that such consideration be given us automatically. The negotiations were going toward this point of view when the church's attorney wrote to us after the publication of The White Lie and the attention it received in the world press:


This will confirm our telephone conversation on the morning of August 2, 1982 in which I advised you that the Southern California Conference does not feel that it can make a settlement with Walter Rea at least at this time.


The officers of the Conference were appalled to learn from the Time Magazine article in the August 2, 1982 issue that Mr. Rea is planning a second edition of his book in which he plans to charge that Mrs. White's last books were fabricated by others while she was senile. Such statements only convince the Church that it was correct when it terminated Mr. Rea's employment.


Since settlement negotiations are no longer in progress, you are free to do whatever you believe to be appropriate with respect to the hearings which we have previously discussed.17

That letter was a shocker and showed just how much the church and its word really means, for just a few days before that same church attorney had written to us the following:


You will find enclosed a draft of the proposed settlement agreement between the Southern California Conference and Mr. Rea.  Please review it and telephone me regarding any comments that you may have.


You will recall that there was also a discussion of a letter being written regarding Elder Rea's church standing. I enclose a copy of a letter dated May 10, 1982 signed by Elder Paytee sent to Elder Robert Cowan on this subject. The letter was drafted and sent without my prior knowledge. I would like your comments as to whether this letter is acceptable to you and Elder Rea.


 I will look forward to hearing from you in the hopes that this matter can be soon completed.18


The letter that the attorney referred to was one that we had requested concerning our standing in the church. Although we had denied no doctrine, had received no discipline in our line of duty, and were still practicing members, and even though the policy of the church was that we should receive church membership wherever we were to go, the churches in our new area would not transfer our membership. One side light in the process was, that though we had been ordained for over thirty five years and were never "defrocked" from that position, we were addressed now as Mr. Rea instead of "Elder" as is the custom in Adventism. Lorenzo Paytee, Secretary of the Southern California Conference, had made it clear in his letter that we were not under some ban:


My office has been requested to clarify the action of the Executive Committee regarding Walter Rea. 


The proceedings involving Walter Rea and the Executive Committee, which resulted in the Committee voting to terminate Walter Rea's employment and to withdraw his ministerial credentials, did not address the issue of his church membership, merely his employment.


As you are aware of, a church member's standing is a matter for the local church to handle. As far as the conference is concerned, a church member is in good and regular standing until the church where he is a member properly decides otherwise. The Long Beach SDA church, of which Walter Rea is a member, is the proper body to pass judgment on his standing as a church member. Our Executive Committee passed judgment only on the issue of his fitness to be employed by the denomination.


Therefore, without any judgment from the Long Beach church to the contrary, this office can state that Walter Rea is a church member in good and regular standing. 19


Another interesting concept surfaced concerning the church's thinking about women. My wife was never mentioned or considered separately from my situation. Her feelings were never considered, her doctrinal views were never sought and her desires concerning her future in the church didn't ever seem to matter to those considering my problem.


It was because of this lack of good faith on the part of the church and its officers that I decided that only one action was possible to gain relief from what I considered an unjust situation. I had asked for a rehearing of my case before the Union Committee, which was my right by policy, and was denied. I had asked for retirement benefits which was my due by policy and had been refused. I had broken no conference or church rules or laws and had been dismissed for what I considered fraudulent and misleading charges. Because of these facts I wrote Elder Walter Blehm, the Union President the following:




I am enclosing some material that I believe you should read. It will set the tone for the rest of this letter.


I have always tried to be open and honest with the men that I served with, while in the work of the church. From the material enclosed concerning you and Dr. Davenport, I would draw the conclusions that you had not been as open and honest in your dealings. Of the men who sat in judgment on my work and fired me for my "negative influence," at least four of you either knew of, or were personally involved in the Davenport matter, which certainly created a conflict of interest as far as my involvement was concerned.


In spite of that involvement, however, I still negotiated and signed a compromise agreement with the church through the Southern California Conference. That agreement was in essence, though not called that, my sustentation which, as you know the policy says, I was entitled to at 60 years of age and 35 years of service. As you also know, that agreement worked out in good faith with your attorney was overturned and canceled.


Therefore, you have left me no choice but to take you, some members of the General Conference and other parties concerned into Federal Court for redress. I am sure that when the press, the church, the public and the courts hear of the involvement of at least five presidents, including such men as Pierson, Willis Hackett, Cree Sandefur and yourself, they will realize that with the confession in the June '82 Ministry Magazine, my discovery on Mrs. White played a very minor role in my dismissal. However, the attorneys will inform you of the particulars. By the way, I would be interested in the statements from Ellen G. White that you were using to direct your personal activities when you involved yourself with Dr. Davenport while serving as an officer of the church. 20


I also sent him the additional information.




Editor’s note:  The original manuscript features photocopies of the original documents, including receipts and correspondence.  To retain a text document with a smaller file size, I have chosen to provide either a summary of the receipt or a re-typing of the correspondence:




May 15, 1978


W. D. Blehm

5294 Peacock Lane

Riverside, CA


Dear Elder Blehm:


I have a letter dated May 12, 1978 and I was very happy and willing to cash you out of the current income loan account.


This account is structured so the cash-out dates are on April 10, August 10 and December 10. However, I never stick to that if the party needs their money and I wish to advise you that I will get together the funds and get them to you shortly.


For your information, this account is handled in a very special way and the investments are made in vehicles that are structured so that the payout dates for the interest IS CONVENIENTLY MADE ON April 10 when most people need their money for income tax or August 10 when they need their money for vacations and December 10 when they need their money for Christmas presents, tithes, offerings, year end expenses, etc.


It has been my pleasure having you in our loan account and we will get these funds to you very shortly.


Kindest personal regards.


Cordially yours,




Donald J. Davenport, M.D.








Editor’s note: The information in Exhibit B is from a ledger sheet apparently from Dr. Davenport’s office indicating deposits from the Oregon Conference and the interest paid.  The original manuscript is a photocopy of that ledger sheet, and some of the information is cut off at the top and right side.  The pennies of the dollar amounts of interest paid are not visible:


5394 Peacock Lane, Riverside, CA  91500

































































Allow interest to accrue.


































































































Recommended by Elder Massengill

President of Southwester Calif. Conf.





(includes Garden Grove Church)




























W. D. and/or Shirley L. Blehm

4-Peacock Lane, Riverside, CA  92505




















Franale 203 (Illegible)












In full $20,365.00


























$-2,000.00                                                                               ­­­­_____________________September 23, 1975                    



On December 31, 1977---------, without grace we promise to pay to the order of W. D. Blehm and/or Shirley T.Blehm at 829 N.E. 168th. Pl., Portland, Oregon 97230 ---Two thousand and no/100 Dollars, For Value received, with interest from date at the rate of 10 per cent annum until paid.  Principal and interest payable in Lawful Money of the United States at ten per cent interest per annum on December 31st., beginning December 31, 1975 and continuing until December 31, 1977; at which time the entire balance of principal and interest then remaining unpaid shall be due and payable, and in case suit is instituted to collect this note or any portion thereof, we promise to pay such additional sum as the Court may adjudge reasonable as Attorney’s fees in said suit.



                                                                                                                                                Donald J. Davenport




                                                                                                                                                Patrician A. Davenport




Witness:  Sylvia Ramer






$---5,000.00----                                                                                                                May 30, 1976                          


---On December 31, 1977----------------------------without grace we promise to pay to the order of S. D. Blehm and/or Shirley T. Blehm at 5294 Peacock Lane, Riverside, California 92505 For Value received, with interest from date at the rate of ten per cent per annum until paid.  Principal and interest payable in Lawful Money of the United States at ten per cent interest per annum on December 31st., beginning December 31, 1976 and continuing until December 31, 1977: at which time the entire balance of principal and interest then remaining unpaid shall be due and payable, and in case suit is instituted to collect this note or any portion thereof, we promise to pay such additional sum as the Court may adjudge reasonable as Attorney’s fees in said suit.



                                                                                                                                Donald J. Davenport


                                                                                                                Patricia A. Davenport



Sylvia Ramer







-------8,000.00---------                                                                                                                                   May 13, 1975                  



-----On December 31, 1977-----------------------------------------, without grace we promise to pay to the order of W. D.  Blehm and/or Shirley L. Blehm, on order at 829 N. E. 168th Pl., Portland, Oregon  97230, --------------------Eight thousand and no/100-----------------------------Dollars, For Value received, with interest from date at the rate of ten per cent per annum until paid.  Principal and interest payable in Lawful Money of the United States at  ten per cent interest per annum on December 31st., beginning December 31, 1975 and continuing UNTIL December 31, 1977: at which time the entire balance of principal and interest then remaining unpaid shall be due and payable, and in case suit is instituted to collect this note or any portion thereof, we promise to pay such additional sum as the Court may adjudge reasonable as Attorney’s fees in said suit.



                                                                                                                                                Donald L. Davenport



                                                                                                                                                Patricia A. Davenport



Sylvia Ramer








                                                                                                                                                Check # 2681





Donald J. Davenport, M.D.                                                                                                Long Beach Office

Office Account                                                                                                                     American City Bank

P.O. Box 7037     213-427-7458                                                                                            5199 E. Pacific Coast Highway

Long Beach, Calif.  90807                                                                                    Long Beach, California  90804


Pay-------Nine hundred forty-five and 06/100--------------------Dollars           $945.06


Pay to the order of:


W. D. Blehm or Shirley L. Blehm



                                                                                                                NOT NEGOTIABLE


1222-2669: 592014580


Donald J. Davenport, M.D.

Long Beach, Calif.



DATE                     DESCRIPTION                                                                    AMOUNT                              DISTRIBUTIONS

                                                                                                                                                                                Acct. No./Amount

Principal and interest, 12/31/77                                          20,598.00  

Interest thru 2/10/78                                                            __ 347.06

                                                                                                                                20,945.06   Dr.203

                                                                                                        20,000.00   Cr.213                          $945.06

                                Transfer to 9% account as of 2/10/78



Employee:  Please return 3 paid notes.






                                                                                                                                                                                                       July 22, 1977


Pacific Union Association of Seventh-day Adventists

2686 Townsgate Road

Westlake Village, California  91361


Donald J. Davenport,  M.D.

P.O. Box 7037

Long Beach, California  90807


Dear Don:


In harmony with my discussion with you, the Investment Committee voted this morning to utilize the joint Union Bank saving account only in conjunction with a loan approved by us with funds in the savings account to be drawn upon as construction progresses.


Sorry the Committee didn’t see their way clear to open the joint savings accounts on any other basis.


Meanwhile, would you like us to hold the bank signature cards here in the event that our percentage policy for first trust deed loans will allow us to fund another of your projects?


We’ve appreciated doing business with you through the years, Don, and look forward to working with you in the future.


Drop in to see us whenever you have occasion to be in our area.  There are some nice places in the vicinity for lunch!






Ernest L. Herr

Funds Manager







July 25, 1977


Ernest L. Herr

Funds Manager

Pacific Union Association of SDA

2686 Townsgate Village, CA  91361


Dear Ernie:


It was nice receiving your letter dated July 22, 1977.


After I talked to you last week, I did go down to the Union Bank and set up four saving accounts as we had previous done and I put in $10.00 in each one which was the minimum that I could start these accounts up with.


You recall that I had a very specific purpose for this.  Namely, that I was to become a partner in this $47,000,000 condominium project in Century City.  That required that I either put up $1,000,000 of cash or $1,000,000 of Letters of Credit.


Ernie, you know I am not one to wait for the last minute so I went to the Union Bank even before you put any funds in to ask them for a $1,000,000 Letter of Credit and they were processing it, but I also went to the George Elkins Company that I know very well and I talked to George Elkins himself.  He told me that I should go to the Lloyds Bank in Westwood and he would make an introduction for me.


I did go into Lloyds Bank and Mr. Elkins was there and he introduced me to the top executives there and they agreed to make the Letter of Credit immediately.  I then had the possibilities of two Letters of Credit and I was not under any urgency to create these joint bank saving accounts which would have been of some,

Though minimal material advantage for me to get the Letter or Credit.


I received a telephone call from Mr. Larry Eisele, Regional Vice President of Union Bank last week to come down and see him.  At the time he told me that they had approved my letter of Credit, irrespective of anything else that I had to do.


Ernie, I would suggest, for the time being, that you hold the bank’s signature cards.  However, I would not encourage you at this time to send in any money into these joint bank savings accounts.


I know that I move quite rapidly, but that is one of the reasons for my success and when I called you, I was hoping that you could put in $1,000,000 of savings or some portion thereof on which you would make a 9% return and it would give me some “clout” in my dealings with Union Bank.  However, apparently, that was unnecessary because the Union Bank approved my Letter of Credit without me doing anything which I feel is good.


Ernie, this does not mean that you should not send in any money at a later date.  But, apparently, from your committee’s policy it appears that you would have to have some more investments with me and, at the present time, the telephone investments are very few and far between.


I used to bid one or two a month.  I am now bidding one every two or three months.


I would just as soon that you hold the bank’s signature cards and, in the event that your percentage policy for first trust deed loans changes, then we can resume our conversation.  But at the present time, there would be no motivation on my part to pay you a guaranteed 9% return on a saving account.  I would receive only 5% when there would be a differential cost of 4% that would have no material advantage to me.


I am sure that you know as well or better than your committee that investments and finances are a very dynamic program and that I have found out that I have to make my decision to move rapidly within two or three hours, otherwise my opportunities are lost.


I am bidding a large telephone building in Michigan today and I will probably know within a week whether I get it or not.  I am not presenting it to you because it will be in the neighborhood of $3,000,000 and I know that that would not fit in with your percentage requirements.


I already have a life insurance company commitment loan in the  amount of 8-3/8th for 25 years if I can get it and that is lower than I have ever offered any church group a return for many, many years.


Please keep in touch with me, Ernie, and I will do the same with you.


Kindest personal regards.

Cordially yours,


Donald J. Davenport, M.D.










General Contractor

Real Estate Investments



9501 Wilshire Blvd.                                                                                                           3711 Long Beach Blvd.

Suite 812                                                                                                                            Suite 804

Beverly Hills, CALIF 90210                                                                                               Long Beach, CALIF 90807




March 8, 1979



Dr. J. W. Cassell, Jr., President


Angwin, California  94508


Dear Jack:


Your letter of March 2, 1979 did not require an answer, but it was nice meeting all of you.  I was happy to be able to think of a plan which could be a great source of income for you.


I verified with two banks, after I spoke with you, so that if one bank does not come through for any reason, we have a back-up.  In days of tight money, people can make promises-- especially banks-- and then take a long time to fund.


I cannot emphasize too strongly that there is no policy for what I am helping you accomplish.  Any committee action would construe it as me being desperate and trying to raise money.  This is 100% wrong.  I do want to raise money to help the college, I do want to raise money for student loans.  This plan will do that.


There is no law that I know of on the Church books that says you cannot put money in a savings account.  Your only obligation is to put this money in a savings account in a bank that I direct you to.  I will have them give me the withdrawal slip stating that it will require my signature and any two of your signatures to get the money out.  This is exactly the way we did it with the Pacific Union Conference Association's money which Mr. Ernest Herr had.


The reason Mr. Herr suggested that we have two signatures from the Conference was that in case he was out of town the President or the Treasurer or another official could withdraw the money.  Once you put the money in the saving account and I send you the withdrawal slip (which will be the same day), you will have 100% control of the money.  I cannot touch it.  Whenever you want the money out, you just have to send the withdrawal slip and the money will be sent immediately.


I am always looking for creative ways to help the Church.  This program helped Pacific Union Conference Association, a.k.a.  The PUC Fund; they had as much as $3,000,000 in it.  At the present time the North Pacific Union has a small account under this program and the Montana Conference has two trusts in a like manner.  So, the program is not irregular-- just beneficial.


Dr. J. W. Cassell, Jr.


March 8, 1979

Page Two


I would appreciate if you would not discuss this too widely.  Since I handle money for 22 different Church entities, they would all want me to do something like this for them.  I have neither the money nor the inclination nor the deals to take care of 22 organizations.  I can do it for four organizations, however.


I hope that when you make your visit to the Pacific Union Conference Board meetings, you will be kind enough to give me a day's notice and come by my office and we can bring everything up to date.


Kindest personal regards.


Cordially yours,



Donald J. Davenport, MD












9501 WILSHIRE BLVD.                                                                                                                                      3711 LONG BEACH BLVD.

SUITE 812                                                                                                                                                            SUITE 804

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF  90210                                                                                                                       LONG BEACH, CALIF  90807

213-275-5142                                                                                                                                                       213-427-7458


March 15, 1979


J. W. Cassell, Jr., PHD; President


Angwin, California  94508


Dear Dr. Cassell:


I was happy to meet with you and the four gentlemen that came down with you.  I felt the meeting was informative and worthwhile.


In the meantime I have contacted the First Los Angeles Bank and the United California Bank to ascertain that I would get “mileage” out of the deposits, which I would bring in to their attention and in to their bank.  Although I knew all the time that it would work that way, I verified it.


I am willing to reduce to writing, in this letter, that for every $100,000 that you put in a joint savings account in a bank that we mutually agree upon, I will pay the difference between the passbook rate and ten percent.  This way you will always get not less than ten percent.


If you put $200,000 in, and leave it for two years, I will make a $50,000 contribution to a building or a fund of your choice.  If you put the same amount in for one year, I will make a $25,000 contribution.  I will also do my utmost to try and generate some scholarships, which we discussed in detail, and which would be most easily accomplished if we went to the American City Bank.  However, for the time being, until this “Bert Lance Law” is fully understood, I would prefer to direct the saving accounts to the United California Bank and to the First Los Angeles Bank.


Even though my chances of getting a scholarship in the amount of $20,000 will probably not be as great as with the American City Bank, it only means that I will work twice as hard to try and get $20,000.  I may be successful, and I may not be.  I might also (and you cannot hold me to this, but you may think about this) contribute to the scholarships myself, in case I am not able to generate the funds from the banks.  We all understand that the scholarship is a bonus, or a fringe benefit, but the other matter above mentioned is a definite commitment on my part.


I feel very good about this arrangement.  It will give the Church utmost security, utmost liquidity, utmost control and yet allow me to benefit by the funds.  This in turn will help me in my tithe and offerings and contributions.  Obviously, I am going to contribute to the areas which help



MARCH 15, 1979



me the most.


Please bring any of your friends or Board members down to see me at any time, and we can have a “little snack” at La Scala restaurant.  Kindest personal regards.


Cordially yours,

Donald J. Davenport, MD







EDITOR'S NOTE:  In the original photocopy of the manuscript, this exhibit is a difficult to read replication of two parts of a check from Pacific Union College to Dr. Davenport for $200,000-- first the voucher indicating what the payment is for followed by the instrument itself, apparently photocopied before the check was separated from its voucher:



Ck. #88240



For Investment.


Pacific Union College

Angwin, California  94508

Bank of America

Angwin, CA 94508


Donald J. Davenport, M.D.

Date: 4-12-79










Angwin, California  94508 / Telephone (707) 965-6211


April 12, 1979


Office of the President


Donald J. Davenport, M.D.

P.O. Box 7037

Long Beach, CA  90807


Dear Don:


As we had discussed on the phone, I presented your proposal to the Executive Committee of our Board of Trustees this morning.  The board voted unanimously to proceed, as we discussed, which I will endeavor to outline briefly as follows:


It is our understanding that the account is to be a joint savings account with United California Bank under your name and Pacific Union College Association.  Two signatures will be required for withdrawals.  One signature would be yours and the second would be one of the officers of Pacific Union College.


It is understood that possession of the savings passbook would be with the College and that you would sign one or more withdrawal slips so that, as a practical matter, the school could withdraw the funds at any time.


It is our understanding that the funds deposited in the joint account shall remain the funds of Pacific Union College and that this transaction shall not be considered to be a loan.  This is an accommodation for the reasons we have discussed together whereby we are depositing funds in the United California Bank in the joint account and retaining control of the funds by way of the savings passbook and the executed deposit slips.


We understand that this clarification is necessary so that there will be no question as to the ownership of the funds in the unlikely event of your demise or some other type of situation wherein the ownership of the funds might be questioned.


It is our intent at this time to leave the funds on deposit for two years or more; however, it is understood in the event it becomes necessary in our opinion that the funds may be withdrawn at any time with the courtesy of notice to you.


In consideration of our depositing the funds in the joint account as you have directed, you have kindly agreed to pay the difference


Donald J. Davenport, M.D.

Page – 2


of interest rate so that the net return to the College is 10% per annum for the funds deposited.


Terminology suggested by our attorney is that you agree on behalf of yourself, heirs, assigns, or beneficiaries not to make any demand on the funds directly or indirectly.


I believe, Don, this puts in writing the agreement that you, Bob, Tom Hopmann,and I came to during our phone conversation approximately a week ago.


I again want to tell you how much we appreciate your interest in Pacific Union College and for playing such an active and important role in Christian education.

Best wishes to you and Mrs. Davenport.


Sincerely yours,


J.W. Cassell


J. W. Cassell, Jr.






This letter confirms my agreement.



Donald J. Davenport

Donald J. Davenport










9501 Wilshire Blvd.                                                                                                                                                  3711 Long Beach Blvd.

Suite 812                                                                                                                                                    Suite 904

Beverly Hills, CALIF  90210                                                                                                                    Long Beach, CALIF 90807

213-275-5142                                                                                                                                                            213-427-7458



March 15, 1979


J. W. Cassell, Jr.,  President


Angwin, California  94508


Dear Jack:


I trust that the way Tom Hopmann and I handled the initial deposit of $200,000 was satisfactory to you.  I felt we did it exactly the way we had represented it and I always want to do things correctly.


I am writing this letter to you to put into your file to augment what we are talking about.  As you know we must keep  it at “arm's length distance” from the bank program.  This is so that it can not be construed that the bank is hiring me to make bank deposits.


You have deposited, on April 13, 1979, two hundred thousand dollars in a joint account of Donald J. Davenport, M.D. And Pacific Union College.  Twelve months from this date, or on-or-before April 13, 1980, I will send you two checks.  One check will be in the amount of $20,000, which represents a return of 10% on $200,000.00 for a period of one year.  I will also send you a contribution of $25,000.00, which represents a contribution of 12.5% on two hundred thousand dollars.  This makes a grand total of $45,000.00 and makes a net return to you of 22.5% per annum.


I am also trying to work out some ideas for a scholarship program, but I do not know exactly how that will work inasmuch as the $200,000 was put in the United California Bank rather than the American City Bank. I told you I would work hard on that for you and I will.


The mechanics of this are as follows:


Every interest bearing time I will pull out the interest from United California Bank, which is quarterly, and I will put that in my operating capital.  It will be between 5% and 5-1/4%.  I am not certain at this time but I do know that it will not be over 5-1/4%.


This is totally unrelated to the checks that you will receive on April 13, 1980.


It is quite conceivable, although I do not wish to be held to it, that as I approach the year-end of 1979, I might find it beneficial for tax reasons to


Dr. J. W. Cassell, Jr.

April 18, 1979

Page Two


make my contributions at that time.  If that is the case after consultation with my accountant, I will mail you two checks totaling $45,000.00 on-or-before December 31, 1979.  If there is no tax advantage to me, then I will mail them on-or-before April 13, 1980.

These funds are not collaterialized or cross-guaranteed or loaned to me.  They are funds which you have deposited in the United California Bank as part of a joint venture.  The funds are owned by you in their entirety at all times.


You will be interested in knowing that the manager of the United California Bank, Mr. Paul Roth, has advised me already that my loan interest rates will start coming down.  This is quite beneficial to me.


I believe this will be the last correspondence I need to write relative to the mechanisms of this transaction.  I would appreciate your putting this in your file so you will have ready access to it.  I am setting it up on my date file that on-or-before April 13, 1980 I will send the two checks totaling $45,000.00  and they will be labeled as contributions.


I am also sending a copy of this letter to my Long Beach office where my Office Manager, Sylvia Ramer, works with my accountant on all of my transactions.


Kindest personal regards.


Cordially yours,




Donald J. Davenport, M.D.




cc: Sylvia Ramer






Angwin, California  94508 / Telephone (707) 965-6304





Office of College Relations and Development                                                                                                              May 19, 1981



Donald J. Davenport, M.D.

9501 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 812

Beverly Hills, CA  90210


Dear Don:


We have been checking our records regarding the interest on the funds we have deposited with Imperial Bank.


It has been 14 months since your last gift to us making up the difference from passbook savings paid by the bank and 25%.


As you recall, your gift pledge of $25,000 qualified Pacific Union College for the BECA challenge Fund of $79,000 this year.  I know that this was not to be an additional amount, rather the interest difference.  The alumni have met that challenge with contributions to the annual fund in the amount of $145,000 with 16% or 1,200 alumni participating.


We now have to prove to the BECA board that your part of the gift has been received, then they will pay us their part.  So once again we are getting double mileage out of your thoughtfulness.


I think Bob Strickland has already written to you indicating that the college will need to withdraw the $200,000 from Imperial Bank June 30.


Don, I can't tell you how badly this makes me feel.  I want to add to those funds, not take them away.  In fact, I have been working with our Committee of 100 trying to come up with something but, as yet, I don't have it worked out.


Anyway, I wanted to let you know that we appreciated so much what you have done for PUC and what you are now doing.


I will be looking forward to hearing from you soon.




Don Coles

Don J. Coles, Ed.D.

Vice President for

College Development











9501 Wilshire Blvd.                                                                                                                                                   3711 Long Beach Blvd.

Suite 812                                                                                                                                                    Suite 904

Beverly Hills, CALIF  90210                                                                                                                    Long Beach, CALIF 90807

213-275-5142                                                                                                                                                            213-427-7458



May 22, 1981


Dr. Don J. Coles

Vice President for College Development

Pacific Union College

Angwin, Ca 94508


Dear Don:


I have your letter dated May 19, 1981, and was happy to communicate with you but sorry that you could not avail yourself of what I considered an unusual opportunity.  Sometimes, life is that way and we must take it that way.


I am a great believer in channeling money back into the church but especially into the areas which have helped me make the money.  That is one reason that I approached you folks.


I have been awarded these three new post offices to build, ranging in price from $90,000 to $387,000 and I already have them sold to be delivered upon completion. They will make a nice profit for me.  I am also bidding five new telephone buildings, totaling in excess of six million dollars and ten more post offices.  So you can see that I am very, very busy and looking for cash in every way.


My cash comes to me when the buildings are built and sold.


Don, please keep in touch with me and any time you are in the Los Angeles area please give me advance notice and we will have lunch together.


Kindest personal regards.


Cordially yours,






Donald J. Davenport, M.D.


cc:  Ms. Sylvia Ramer, Long Beach Office Manager







Angwin, California  94508 / Telephone (707) 965-6304





Office of College Relations and Development        

                                                                                                                                                                                                          July 6, 1981


Donald J. Davenport, M.D.

General Contractor

9601 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 812

Beverly Hills, CA  90210


Dear Don:


I just talked to your secretary and will be trying to call back again, but in the meantime, I will write a letter.


I did appreciate your letter of May 22 in response to mine.  I wrote to you regarding the interest on funds we had deposited with the Imperial Bank.  But since you did not mention a payment to PUC on the interest difference, I thought that I should contact you again.


We will be receiving the passbook rate from Imperial which is certainly a lot less than what we could have received with certificates; but your offer to us exceeded even the certificate rate so we were happy to deposit the money in order to be an advantage to you as well as to us.


From our standpoint, it was a perfect arrangement.  Now we need to know when we can expect a check from you which is a donation and totally tax deductible.  It is very important to us to receive this money as soon as possible since our BECA Fund Challenge was based on this gift and we did meet that challenge which qualifies us for funds from BECA, provided, of course, that you, the major pledger to qualify us fulfills your pledge.


I thought this, too, was a neat arrangement since you would be making this gift anyway because of our deposit with the Imperial Bank.  Of course, the other reason we are interested in receiving the check is that we would have received a lot more interest income had we had deposited our money in certificates or treasury notes.  I think you can see our concern, and since you did not mention it in your letter, I want to follow up.  I do not mean to be bugging you about it, but it is very important to us here.


I don't know if you have heard yet, but I am transferring to Glendale Adventist Medical Center the middle of August.  It is hard to leave Pacific


Donald J. Davenport, M.D.                                                                                                                                      July 6, 1981

Beverly Hills, CA  90210                                                                                                                                                     Page 2


Re: Tax Deductible Donation


Union College, since I have been here for 22 years and really believe in the school and all of its projects, but I have an unusual opportunity at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in working with Don Prior and feel that now is the time to transfer.


Don has assured me that I will still be working with you at Glendale; this will be part of my responsibilities and I am looking forward to that.


With the best of everything to you, I remain




Don Coles


Don J. Coles, Ed.D.

Vice President for






End Of Exhibits - See below for continued reading.


The letter was effective.  It must be remembered that the Davenport matter and the church had not yet fully hit the national news or the church members, and these men were all scrambling to posture and put as much distance between themselves and the scandal they had helped to create but were still hoping would be somehow contained.  After months and months of negotiation, delay and frustration and many letters and meeting of contradiction, less than three weeks later the following letter of settlement came from my attorney, James Wagner:


Enclosed is the Settlement Agreement and check.  Also enclosed is a copy of a letter from Bob Paterson which helps explain the Church’s  understanding of the agreement.


The best course of action for you is to expressly avoid comment on your termination and and negative comments about you from Church leaders prior to November 2, 1982.


A major for instance would be even acknowledging that Blehm was in on the termination and was a Davenport investor.  That implies a connection and violates the spirit of the agreement.


Now don’t get paranoid either.  Although a breach of the agreement would make you liable for breach of contract, it must be an express violation.  I was careful to have the Church prepare the document because on a close call any ambiguity will be construed against the party preparing the document.


Meanwhile they are aware we believe you are free to comment on EGW and Davenport.


Now that your super salesman thesis is out there and now that we have operationally acknowledge that you were terminated for the ecclesiastic reason of their belief you were a negative influence on an important Church doctrine, I recommend you be particularly scrupulous to be issue oriented.


Am I glad this chapter is over. 21



The attorney’s referral to the negative comments about me from the church leaders was a real stumbling block to my signing any settlement.  Church history, any church history, will show that when facts cannot be refuted, the institution will turn to smears and lies about its perceived opponent.  The things that we began to hear about our life and work in the church got so bad that in Australia in 1981 I felt compelled to write to Robert Olson at the White Estate and the General Conference the following letter:


As you know I am following your throughout Australia at the Adventist forums.  It is not possible to express the shock I have experienced at some of the statements you have left on record concerning my personality and past work in the church.  You have not only revealed the thinness of your Christianity, but you have and are demeaning your position with the church.  You have every right to disagree with my findings but you do not have the privilege of maligning my character.


Therefore, as of the date of this letter, if it should come to my attention in any form that you have continued this practice, I will instruct the attorney to file against you and the White Estate and the Seventh-day Adventist Church for malicious mischief and defamation of character.  You should be given the opportunity to prove in a court of law the evil untruths you claim you know about me and my past.


It has been interesting to discover that the Adventist Church has always turned to smear and lies toward those that they cannot control or silence.  This you yourself have done with both Ford and myself.  It is also interesting to hear you began to do this with Elders Cottrell and now the beginning of Fred Veltman.  Have you no shame?


There should be no mistake concerning the limits that have been reached concerning my patience.  If you do not wish to be exposed to the world press and the church you profess to love and seek to protect, as one that is irresponsible, then for your own sake and theirs, please try to exercise some self restraint with your mouth. 22


It has always been my contention that I was a friend and member of the church. In the Davenport and Ellen G. White matter, both problems could be helped and not hindered by an honest and frank airing of the facts, and a determined, sincere plan to change the record of that past for a more forward and truthful one in the future.  After all, the church members had been taught to forgive and if we as leaders were honest about our mistakes or mismanagement of the details of the past, we could only be forgiven and trusted in the future if we acknowledge such failures and took steps to correct and insure abuse would not occur in that future.  If I had been or was wrong in both cases, then a court of law should have decided that, and I should and could have been exposed as the scoundrel that I would have been.  It could have been and still would be a simple matter to settle both issues in favor of honesty and justice. If the church had or would take me to federal court, then all the records of the depositions of the Davenport matter could,  through the Freedom of Information Act, be forced from their files and the church members then could see whether the punishment was made to fit the crime.  If the evidence showed that some of the church’s critics, such as myself, were wrong then we would also be exposed for what they said we were.


The same method could be used to settle the Ellen G. White matter.  If the committee that met with me in Glendale had been allowed by PREXAD to continue its work with me and we had followed reasonable safeguards and time tables for the release of material, the church could have known what most of the scholars had known, and were to soon learn, in spite of the ban placed on the information by the church.  But such was not to be, for the church has always believed in censorship and cover-up as detailed in the fall edition of the Free Inquiry.  Their first line of defense seems to be deceit.  But then what could the public expect from minds that are haunted by the belief that they will be hated by all their relatives that don’t share their persecution complex and their Saturday Sabbath; that they will be tortured by all the Catholics; martyred by all the protestants; abandoned by all the governments; and finally because of all this attention, be exalted to some lofty heaven far away where they will be next to God by themselves sharing bliss with 144,000 others. 24


One last observation from a long sad chapter.  When the settlement check had been received I wrote and asked that for tax reasons, so that the whole amount would not be eaten up by attorney fees and taxes, I be allowed the ministerial considerations I had enjoyed for almost forty years; that is, tax exempt status on parsonage allowance, medical expenses, travel, education, etc. Even though I had received assurance from the I.R.S. that these were privileges still available to me, not until I went back to the church through the attorney was the matter settled in a memorandum from the law office in February, 1983.


On January 24, 1983 I called Relious Walden at the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and told him that on the basis of my research and the opinion of one of our tax professors there was no reason why the Southern California Conference should issue a 1099 to Walter Rea.  I further pointed out to him that for the conference to issue a 1099 in light of the settlement was inconsistent with the position they had maintained throughout the settlement negotiations, namely that the settlement was not for compensation owed, but rather for other reasons. Thus, I explained, if they issued a 1099 they were not conceding that they owed Walter Rea  the compensation that they denied all along that they owed him.


The conclusion of the conversation was that the conference would not be issuing Walter Rea a 1099.


Later in the week I reaffirmed this position with President Ralph Watts and he said that he and Relious Walden had discussed this and he was in full accord with my recommendation. 25


All of which leaves one wondering, with the Davenport matter still not to the press and public as yet, and the Ellen White material coming out from other researchers and confirming all my findings, if I was so wrong in both matters, why did they fire me in the first place?








1.  Art Wong, “Adventist chief lays out Davenport’s case,” The Sunday Sun, San Bernardino, California, (January 23, 1983).


                2.  Melinda Gipson, “Tumult in Adventist ranks doesn’t worry the church, says is leader in interview,” Religious News Services, (October 20, 1981), p. 5.


                3.  Neal Wilson, “A Report to the Church,” Adventist Review, August 29, 1982.


                4.  Ibid., p. 23.


                5.  Attorney Jerry Wiley to Neal C. Wilson, April 7, 1983.


                6.  Walter Rea to President’s Review Commission, October 29, 1982.


                7.  Currents Interview:  John Adam,  Adventist Currents, Volume 1, No. 4, p. 22.


                8.  Walter Rea to Glendale Committee Members, May 25, 1980.


                9.  R. L. Walden to Walter Rea, September 19, 1980.


           10.  Walter Rea to Neal C. Wilson, July 28, 1980.


           11.  John Dart, “Plagiarism Found in Prophet’s Books,” Los Angeles Times, (October 23, 1980, p. 1.


           12.  Walter Rea, The White Lie, (Turlock, CA, M&R Publications, 1982).


           13.  Editor’s Viewpoint, “Ellen White in Perspective,” Adventist Review, August 16, 1984), p. 3.


           14.  Glendale Committee, “Ellen G. White and Her Sources,” tapes, (January 28-29, 1980).


           15.  C. E. Bradford to Louise and Otto Newmann, November 20, 1980.


           16.  Dr. Robert Olson, “E.G. White Writings,” Lecture, Andrews University, Dr. Roy Graham Class, (Classnotes, February 26, 1980), p. 2.


           17.  Attorney R. M. Peterson to Attorney James Wagner, August 3, 1982.


           18.   Peterson to Wagner, July 15, 1982.


           19.    Lorenzo W. Paytee to Robert Cowan, May 10, 1982.


            20.   Walter Rea to Walter Blehm, October 7, 1982.


            21.   James Wagner to Walter Rea, November 2, 1982.


            22.  Walter Rea to Robert Olson, October, 1981.


            23.  Free Inquiry, “Censorship in the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” 2 articles:  Douglas Hackleman, “Ellen White’s Habit,” and Walter Rea, “”Who Prophets From the Prophet,” (Fall, 1984) Vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 16-29.


            24.  Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy  (Mountain View: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1888), “God’s People Delivered,” pp. 635-652. (See also last few chapters of Early Writings.


            25.  Memorandum, Jerry Wiley to Walter Rea, File, February 4, 1983.



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