Brother Trickster:

The Cultism of Zac Kijinski's Gladstone Neverland Part 2 of 6


By Rev. Rafael D Martinez, Director, Spiritwatch Ministries © 2023 (All Copyright Reserved)




The question is often asked: why would so many people follow Zac in the first place?

Just as many and more left the group after a time and would reject Gladstone as being too heavy handed, so why were so many rooted to the place?  The answer is simple and drawn from the timelessly predictable aspect of human nature. It goes back to our discussion we began this expose with on Zac’s ability to master a hidden curricula using his oral tradition, his own formational agenda based upon cultic coercion, which we must now revisit. 

In any learning and modeling situation among teachers and students - including leaders and followers - there always is set into its formative influences what is known as the hidden curricula, where the real influence and end results of the group teaching is applied.  This concept is vital to understanding how the true values and morality of any such setting are actually set forth. It uses an amorphous collection of implicit academic, social, and cultural objectives imposed by unwritten rules and unspoken expectations within the group. This is where its tradition meets daily living.

a hidden curricula in any setting within any group can invisibly reinforce or contradict it's public teaching and practice by using a hidden yet dominant cultural context where the real teaching and learning influence is applied. The assumptions and expectations of a hidden curricula which are not formally conveyed still stipulate the "right" way to think, speak, look, and behave. The real implications of such powerful and yet well concealed influence that shapes minds, lifestyles and life decisions uses concealed traditions that define what they really stand for.   

Within the fantastically diverse groupings within the human race, no matter the time, place or era they exist, there have always three kinds of tradition that provide direction, cohesion and vision for any of the cultures there. There's a scribal tradition, one based upon authoritative writings like the Bible or some other tome, an oral tradition that imparts structure directly by verbiage from leaders that the group is required to closely heed as well as the obvious input from cultural tradition, the folkways of the society outside the group which apply shaping and identity that sets it apart from others. 

As we’ve discovered, within the Gladstone Community, the scribal and cultural traditions that hold them together are  deeply governed by a vast oral tradition preserved in its’ private group interactions behind the closed doors of its physical presence wherever it may be found.  These oral traditions are actual verbal directives handed down through conversation or indoctrination by mentoring figures handing down collective wisdom and rules for community life - free of any scribal directives. Being free from public scrutiny emboldened Zac to freely radicalize their values and interpretation of the Christian life to an appalling degree (a process all pseudo-Christian groups excel at). And as this was done so secretly, the moral high ground Gladstone took empowered their ability to press home an inner social coercion, a horrific process Zac and his elders adroitly applied as “church community.”. 


For all of their lofty appeals to Scriptural precepts about love, service, humility and affirmation, Zac and Gladstone's leaders freely engaged in manipulation, intimidation and abuse by their personal deeds, attitudes and domination of conscience. There was nothing, except the few privately circulated directive publications we are sharing from, for anyone outside the Community to read and grasp how utterly authoritarian they had become. The outside world of an otherwise skeptical public is unaware, for the most part, that Zac and others are as abusive as they actually are in their daily private community life. Instead, outsiders saw the smiles, the zeal, the carefree visages of young people who seemed quite content with their situation. 


It’s the ultimate trap of the fallen human community, to come across as being so free and yet in essence, being the most stifled group of “believers” you can ever meet. For the Christian mindset that seeks to be inclusive, discerning skepticism is dangerously suspended and blindly idealistic trust is offered. But this is no alibi for any Christian leader to hide behind whatsoever when due diligence and integrity of witness are to be pursued among those who you partner with to engage in sacred Christian service. Leaders are to be honored and trusted after first being recognized and known for their maturity and faithfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:12), “not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). A lot of people wanted to believe Gladstone was a colony of heaven in a hellish world, but it had instead become a penal colony. Zac was the judge, jury and warden there while his elders held up his hands. 


The elders were fully signed off on Zac’s control-oriented leadership because Zac said it was  "Biblical" (scribal) and a flurry of Bible citation was pressed upon them as evidence for it. Zac’s coveted aura of divine authority was a mantle the elders took as they exercised a dominance over community members that only deepens to this day. Their written covenants and studies looked like those of a "Christian" church (cultural) because their socializing and mission so completely patterned itself after orthodox Christian church values. Yet Gladstone's corrupt leadership as led by Zac’s cheery control makes a firm micromanagement of every moment of community life their goal, even as the crowds continue to grow and people still seek involvement in what was a “New Thing.”

And yet, despite the authoritarian excess and even manipulative abuse Zac and others would inflict upon them, somehow and in some way, the young new believers were able to pass along, trust in and even preach the basic principles of the Christian Gospel that undeniably called people to Christ. The faith they exercised in Him was and is real and these young Christians successfully invited many of them to join their Bible studies and fellowship, in spite of the control being harshly wielded over them. This foundational and contradictory error of Gladstone was well hidden from these even newer converts until they were wholeheartedly personally invested there, a social engineering design that the Gladstone culture to this day is firmly based upon - the proverbial carrot wrapped in Bible verses held before new recruits with a lot of stick.

A former member named Samantha made it crystal clear how well the community had polished their pitch when she joined them in 2017. Her testimony of how they first recruited and then retained her is so typical of how anyone joins a seemingly caring community that is a well-disguised cult, not understanding how completely disconnected they would become from the relationships of alarmed loved ones they literally left behind:

when I first moved in, when I started attending, I had an iPhone, I had my car, I had my own money, you know, and all of that. And I didn't know yet, everything that I was going to have to give up. I knew they lived in common purse. And for me that didn't raise any flags, maybe because I just didn't have a lot of money.  .. That's when they shared like, Hey, we're going to take your phone for 30 days, and we're going to take your car for 30 days, we're going to take your laptop for 30 days, and they framed it like it would be this isolated timeframe. And basically just focus on God get away the distractions, and they made it sound like I would get those things back. .. So, you know, after my 30 days passed, I remember asking, oh, when do I get a phone again? When do I get to talk to my family whenever I want? When do I get to have those things that still seem normal? And that, you know, to me never seemed like something I actually had to give up to know Jesus.

And I remember for a little while, they just kind of left it open ended like “oh, well, we'll talk about that later. We'll revisit that later.” And then eventually as time went on, I think I just realized it wasn't going to happen. But I stopped caring  I kind of forgot that I missed having an iPhone or anything at all. .. But that completely took away my ability to talk to my friends or family or see them ..I could not just go drive to my mom and tell her what was going on and tell them what it was like. I didn't tell my friends, it gave nobody an opportunity to speak to me like the red flags that they were seeing. And there was pretty immediate red flags. I mean, I was instantly isolated. My friends will say that it felt like I died. I had to delete all of my social media. I just didn't exist to the outside world anymore. It's how it appeared to a lot of people. And that was really scary for a lot of people.


The isolation Samantha was plunged into wasn’t easily seen for what it was. The immersive nature of friendly socialization by the charming Gladstone populace completely disarmed any warning signs that any of the recruiters who made first contact with their prospects might have tripped. This atmosphere of joyous love and concern completely hid the iron mandibles of the cult’s aims to control them.

While this maddening paradox exists in Gladstone, it’s hardly the only place such twisted and antisocial behavior flourishes. Abusive churches and movements have been thriving for centuries all over the world by exercising this powerfully warped group dynamic in their religion and spirituality. The testimony to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change lives has been seen wherever the Christian faith has been proclaimed - even when upheld by deeply sincere people whose use of its divine appeal is leveraged through a grotesquely misguided agenda meant to capture minds and hearts to the glory of their agenda, not the Kingdom of God. Many perfectly well meaning generations of good people thinking that the bad they were told to upheld in the name of God have been mired in this quagmire of the questionable.

It’s a disorienting paradox that manifests throughout the Christian church’s history. Imperfect, fallen people can and proclaim perfect divine truth that when acted upon does change the lives of their subjects - because it is, after all, the power of God’s Word through the Gospel that changes lives and purifies hearts by faith (Romans 1:16) .
The messengers can still truly be a mess, even if their message is inspired by God. This isn’t an excuse whatsoever for the obnoxiousness of Christians who choose to live such carnal, judgmental lives, simply an observation that has been sadly observed by this old preacher over the four decades of ministry I have been in.

Paul the apostle wryly observed that in his first century time, as he was imprisoned by the Roman Empire’s authorities, that he knew of those who “
preach Christ even from envy and strife .. from selfish ambition, not sincerely.” (Philippians 1:15-16). These who proclaim Christian spirituality in such a grossly manipulative manner and who themselves clearly appear to be in need of its transformative power are also referred to by the apostle Peter in his warning about those who pervert apostolic teaching found in the New Testament as he wrote about the apostle Paul: “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16) 

Those who’ve led others to intentionally twist the Word of God for their own gain stand in great need of a repentance they are blissfully unaware of as they self-righteously go about their self-centered work. Zachary Kijinski’s influence is replicated a million fold in the careers of many false teachers and counterfeit “Christian” lives in cultic movements globally today. It is this noisome perversion of the Christian faith that has caused so much damage in our world, a deeply established cultural appropriation we don’t have time to explore any further which Gladstone and countless other groups daily deploy all around us. But what we can say is that Zac’s example and modeling led the community to replicate by personal approximation the same detached, calloused and heartlessly abusive manner that he personally embodies.

Everyone literally acted out their harsh treatment with one another in the same way
he would, as he had verbally mandated they should, and only in the personal way they could.


The draw of Zac’s oral tradition crafted a potent groupthink that helps us understand the extent of Gladstone’s amazing ability to deceptively recruit, groom and retain so many currently under their sway - in a manner largely invisible to many outside of their inner circle. When Gladstone chose to organize as a Christian church ministry it erected a massive cultural firewall against any scrutiny or suspicion. He effectively and persuasively tricked so many by his self-effacing and harmless manner to adopt his governance and his severity. As his friends had said, he just seemed like such a nice, earnest young man. With a following like this, how could he be possibly wrong?

This directly contributed to the way that the protests made by community members about its self contained, grievous excesses were efficiently overlooked and ignored by all in MCC leadership, beginning with Pastor Dennis, who is on the record in the Cincinnati Magazine article about the quality of Zac and the elders’ leadership in 2016 after years of intimate contact with them:

“I would say most of them are two degrees off center,” Beausejour says affectionately. “We believe that what they’re doing is certainly not perfect, but definitely orthodox Christian.” (67)

So went the discernment of the certain bodies of Christian governance in Cincinnati that could have reigned in Zac’s evil. Beausejour’s verdict was typical of many of those who found Gladstone’s influence as trustworthy.  With the ministerial exceptions we’ve noted previously, any recognition of it by any other local Christian leaders usually was a private write off of these complaints as isolated instances of need for maturity on all sides. Almost all of the churches’ leadership intentionally avoided any kind of mediation of these ugly realities even after becoming aware of them. Their clear and possibly unintended example was that of those kind of misanthropes who criticize a rape victim for misunderstanding the intent of the rapist, and even blaming the victim for their violation. Since Gladstone’s “ministry” couldn’t be faulted, any personal issues therefore had to be the weakness of those who couldn’t measure up to its lofty standards. Something simply had to be wrong with the victims who were the main misfits in the mix, it was always assumed. And the band played on.

Multiple testimonies of how Zac, usually through his elders, freely resorted to caustic criticism and verbal abuse of members of the community are on file. Everyone we spoke with who were those who left Gladstone over the years have borne testimony to carrying the scars of vividly crushing memories of how, in the name of God and under supposedly divine inspiration, they were brutalized by word and deed by Gladstone leadership and its punitive culture (68).  Even when it was entirely contained behind the closed doors of community settings, on occasion, the vicious nature of this discipline inevitably would spill out and be seen publicly. An elder, in total disregard of the gross impropriety of his action, once berated three people outside their coffee shop in the street and told them they weren’t to be allowed back in it (69). Certainly, the ugliness of this moment is something rarely seen but it’s just a tip of a cultic iceberg. For Gladstone, however, it was just another day in the life - a double life that was well contained within its four walls. We will be forced to return to a discussion of this ugliness later.

As Gladstone and MCC started their partnership, they coolly perfected a self-righteous apologetic for their evil doing. They deflected its issues when raised up by parents and the occasional church member or leader by endlessly pleading that youthful zeal was responsible for any sins of omission. Both churches would hasten to add how GCC's
doctrine and practice were right out of the Bible, even if their young leaders were personally imperfect creatures, and that the real error was with the detractors themselves for bringing it up and being so intolerant. If on the off chance their reaction wasn’t being bought by those who pressed them, Gladstone wasn’t above ignoring texts, phone calls and emails of complaint and inquiry, brushing off any troubling input by those alienated by the community’s enchantment of their loved ones. It’s truly beyond amazing that so many people, especially Christian leaders who should have had more discernment, could have taken this dodge at face value and walked away wondering what their problem was and not Gladstone itself.

This is the classic evasion honed to a fine art among spiritually abusive groups of all stripes, something we’ve observed for decades in a lifetime combating cultism across our land. Gladstone’s arrogant pride in its dysfunctional authority is no less revolting then the church ministry leaders who paid attention elsewhere when a problem was heard of. The history of humanity is checkered with the conquest of the helpless by cowards while those who could make a difference simply looked another way.


Zac The Cleverest Of Wolves

“How clever I am,' he crowed rapturously, 'oh, the cleverness of me!”

Even Peter Pan’s autocratic leadership among his Lost Boys in Neverland required their support of it to sufficiently inspire them. All mass movements’ destiny and growth rises or falls upon the quality of its aspiring leadership and cults are no exception. 

Zac, to maintain his control over Gladstone, had been actively creating a new layer of elders through whom he would direct all of the activity at Gladstone. With the exception of Brian “Rosie” Roselli, all of his original and rather hesitant elder figures who had stood with him in the early days had left.  His recruitment of elders developed pretty quickly as the need for Zac’s micromanagement over his industry needed more boots on the ground, in the personal computer monitoring, the construction site, the living room or the communal kitchen, etc. The immersive round the clock operation of the group required a vast amount of “Godly” direction and of course discipline for its’ governance. This tight control over the appointed house leaders and other coordinating figures helped create a multilayered authority that facilitated organization, indoctrination and the ordering of the lives of those who’d embraced the Community - a vast amount of micromanagement required by any communal movement, revolution … or cult.

Gladstone’s elders, following Zak’s verbatim cues, helped create a communal factory assembly line of industrious young drones to hammer away under the Gladstone Work Gospel. With that level of industry, they pressed all converts into a tightly controlled lifestyle barely seen by outsiders. They served as Zac’s sycophantic enforcers and were the glue that bound the book of the community tale together. When direction, instruction and correction were needed, as Geoff Hill’s recounting has shown, typically one or more of them were dispatched to the errant Community parties. They would apply their collective voices and wills to compel obedience, change and transformation of the wayward member by often withering insult, putdown and drastic spiritual threat. It would be under their intense “fellowship” that the will of “God” was delivered, and it became a normal, accepted thing for people to be called aside for verbal pistol whipping for hours at a time.

These elders were “elected” by “popular vote” out of the community as new candidates for leadership presented by Zac. It was always pointed out by Zac and others that leadership was chosen by the community - not, of course, him. A nominal election was initiated, although the results were always the same: Zac’s candidates were called out to become leaders, typically those who most cheerfully and completely jumped to fulfill Gladstone purposes.  One former member ruefully noted

Essentially, people could nominate an elder. There would be times announced that there would be a new elder and it was time to nominate. However, I lived with several of the women who were well-connected ... and they always seemed to know who would become elder before there was a nomination and would talk with the elders about who they thought should be nominated. We would usually have an announcement of a new elder at a community Sunday meeting or something like that. I don't seem to remember the new elder going to the front and making an oath or anything. He would usually be formally welcomed by the elders during their yearly elder's retreat (usually during Easter) (70)

As we’ve indicated, Brian Roselli was one of the founding elders who served also as a House Leader and Eric Potticary was enlisted not long after the 2009 controversy and is the only one married leader.  Cebastian Hilton, after being in and out of the group during that same time, finally settled in and was elected in 2012 as well as Alex Seney that same year. In later years, in 2015, Ben von Korff would be tapped and not long after that, Justin Fay would be appointed. The newest elder is
Jordan Vaccariello who was appointed in 2021. A reading of their biographies on an archived version of their original website home page - which is curiously absent from their current one - is a litany of brokenness, pride and personal turmoil that to a man, they say, was dramatically changed after coming to know Christ.

However, it’s important to realize that their spiritual walk and growth within the Gladstone environment is what formed them - nominal Christian spiritual principle that was twisted by carnal moral perversion. The Christ they chose to follow by faith has been reduced to the “Christ” of the warped narcissist they blindly obey. Their carnality is their yielding to human ambition, materialism and lust sanctified as some species of spiritual growth. In an abusive hot house like a cultic community, where you are exposed continually to an endless pressure to conform, obey and submit to the unquestioned demands and authority of one profoundly warped narcissistic individual, leadership
always conforms to the pattern of it’s errant leadership. They come from people who - for many of their own reasons - have been taught that left can turn right on command and black can become white as needed in a cultic situational ethic they excel at personally applying.

This is what leadership in a cultic mindset does: it reconciles the cognitive dissonance - the inner struggle - between saying you love people while you tear them down and successfully negotiates these inner conflicts every day with relish and gusto. They get quite skilled in an inner arresting of any dialogue of conscience that could challenge their devotion to the leader and his vision which has so personally revived them. Whether it is true or not, these pliable personalities found in the potential lieutenants of a cult leader always rise to the top of a band of followers and are readily tapped by them. They most firmly shut down critical thinking and completely throw themselves into doing whatever the leader says and find defense and advocacy of his authority their sacred mission in life.

Their ability to rationalize and explain away the grotesque cruelty by self-deception and lies surely helped them to stand out and be noticed when selection time comes. It manifests through the appeal of an elder or leader’s unique personality, expressed forcefully or even gently, in their interactive relationships. But their daily mastery of deceptive interaction with the Gladstone disciples around them displays an utterly moral depravity. Their continual efforts to be a leader with a personally warped sense of right and wrong is a fulfillment of the warning of Paul about corrupted spiritual leadership: “.. speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry ..” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

Seney’s biography, published on that defunct early version of Gladstone’s home page on the Internet, reveals the career path of a Gladstone elder, as well as a telling insight into the “amazing thing” about “community”:

When I moved in, I began doing the coordination for the house, chores, maintenance etc. Eventually I became the Community Coordinator and that is what I do now. To put it simply, my job is to make sure the community continues to run on a practical level. This includes everything from making meals, cleaning, to house maintenance and remodeling. Very broad, but a job I have grown to love over the last 4 years and one I look forward to continuing to grow in! The most amazing thing about community is that you get to be a part of people’s lives changing. That is an awesome reward! I tell people that community is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but  the most  rewarding  thing I’ve ever done. (71)

Seney, like the other elders, would be mobilized by Zac to become an extension of his authority, judgment and discipline, which as we’ve seen was arbitrary, abusive and affective. Their individual personal character was completely recast using Zac’s mannerism and thinking and they could be alternatively friendly and affirming only to be able to, in an instant, whirl away into critical, harsh and intimidating bearing. This leadership caste became clones of Kijinski and would at times mobilize the group’s for any joint effort required at any time day or night, 24/7.

With the common purse lock upon everyone’s personal finances, their signed covenants committing them to their house assignments and their employment options entirely circumscribed within the Community’s businesses, it was easy to see why so many living under it’s thumb could feel so completely hedged in, with no way out of the group. They had “voluntarily” chosen to live with this group of people, had burned a lot of personal bridges such as family relationships, career choices, college enrollment and personal ambitions to settle in at Gladstone and had become entirely dependent upon the living arrangements there. 

This is one of the main reasons so many still remain there today. Even after shaking the cultic mind control they may have submitted to and regaining some semblance of independent thought life, many continue to abide there believing they have no future beyond Gladstone’s womb. Immobilized by fear of the outside world and fear of hellfire and damnation apart from the community’s authority and approval, the security of the hell they know is more preferable to the uncertainty of the raw new reality they’d have to fight for. The elders know this well and endlessly browbeat, cajole and drive Gladstone followers on using their misgivings as powerful forms of leverage against them, in keeping with their accommodation of the abominable there.

As the elder of any cult, there’s always benefits for insiders in positions of power and this was no exception in Gladstone. They enjoyed an authority and a Zac-approved ability to provide direction by insult, cajoling and fear-mongering.  Elders in the church being a ruling class there, keeping their own schedules in the overall scheme of the Community’s mass labor mobilization, and also enjoying a social camaraderie with one another of relaxed interaction relatively free from surveilling friction. Their social supremacy over the rank and file membership also came with  access to Community resources the average Gladstone member doesn’t enjoy. This rank that enabled them to direct the labor force and community life included a lenient access to the common purse that was more like a line of credit than anything else. They had first call for funding personal “missions” and “educational” travel domestically and abroad whereas the Gladstone slaves who labored away to fund their own travel could at a moment expect to be left behind. 


While they could freely pull from the common purse for personal needs and get their requests readily authorized by the financial team, the average Gladstone John or Mary could expect their own requests to be refused and told to be better stewards of their own paltry monthly stipends  And certain elders are actually listed as actual owners of several of the houses, businesses and properties that are supposedly held in trust for the entire community, a perk that certainly illustrated well just how “community” minded that Zac and his elders really are (72). It’s a legally questionable state of affairs and certainly an unethical one.

Gladstone’s transition from the easygoing apartment Bible study days to an incorporated community was, as in all cultism, marked by a purposeful advance of totalitarian hierarchy, beginning with the general membership who lived under the watchful rule of all in leadership, but who were oriented toward living under the authority of the house they resided in. Each house, with its own name and appointed leaders was a microcosm of the community that provided connection to its tenants with clearly defined lifestyle rule. This hierarchy was patterned after the form of church episcopal governance, firmly installed in each house and was in turn subject to the leadership teams maintained by the eldership over which Zac was sovereign, unquestioned and supposedly “anointed” by God for such enthroning.

One anonymous member’s perspective was unsparing:

All the other elders, they were more submissive to Zack. Cebastian is just crazy .. (They say) “Oh, there is no leader. We all have equal authority. We're all elders, there's not one of us that has more authority than the other.” It's all garbage. Zack leads everything. And I could care less what they say about equal authority. Zack gets what he wants. And he has influence over all the elders, and Cebastian’s the only one that's willing to challenge Zack. But everyone knows Cebastian’s crazy because against Zach, he never wins that battle. No one submits to Cebastian, but to Zack. (73) 

Each of the houses in which Gladstone members lived was led by a house leader, “operating as CEO”, as a Gladstone internal document flatly described them (women’s house leaders answered directly to male leaders assigned to them). This made them “spiritually and practically responsible for the House, and the other folks with responsibilities operate under him or her.” These “folks” were those appointed to be treasurers, and coordinators for a variety of functions, including the “Lazarus ministry” each house participated in, which we will discuss later. 

This arrangement would later change into a model of “House leadership” which recast the house leader position as the “house pastor” and would

equally distribute” their duties among the treasurer and a single coordinator. In the Church of Jesus we see in the Scriptures that the design of God for leadership is a team of men, called elders or overseers, to lead and care for the flock. .. This being said, the eldership has concluded that as our fellowship has matured in the Lord so we must continue maturing in our structures and culture .. to move our House Leadership from a one person model to a team leadership model.

The document’s descriptions of the house leadership described their existence as

leadership positions (which) exist in the Kingdom of God for the sake of serving others, not for our own ego or fulfillment.  Each member of a leadership team must view themselves as servants empowered to serve, not rulers with rights. .. Although each role has clear delineations of responsibility this does not mean each leader “minds their own business” - instead they are united in prayer for one another.  ..

The pious tone of the document was used to evoke a surrender and submission of Gladstone members to this hierarchy on the requirement of “humility” in service to one another. 

Humility: Pride is the death of relationship. If those who should be working together are instead comparing themselves to each other or criticizing each other there is no good that will come from it. (74)

With the endless mantra of “working together” ever resounding in their ears, the elders of the community provide a top down flow of authority and direction. If you were a woman in Gladstone, the hierarchy was far more rigidly defined with male headship in unquestioned charge. Gladstone sisters were well aware of the principle of submission to all male authority in Christian headship, traditionally followed in all Christian settings worldwide and viewed as divinely ordained (with notable exceptions). Under a cultic patriarchal culture, however, the roles of women have a reassignment that relegates them to a subservience which capitalizes upon their gifting, passion and desire to serve to prove their worth and faith. Sharon “Shy” Stolarski became an elder in all but name and was used as the direct conduit of direction to the women of the group. Her brusque drive and directive skills could at times be shockingly overbearing, but Zac’s routinely critical and abusive treatment of her was well known in the community and helped to account for her mean-spirited attitude that had been so regularly modeled by he and the other elders (75).

Along with a third echelon of Gladstone leadership made up of men like Scott Morrison, Jeremiah Zoltani and Eric Kraus, many women such as Tara Smith, Mollie Murphy and Christine Hilton served the community in a variety of the roles mentioned above lived out the Work Gospel assignments. Women understood innately, having “caught” rather than being book “taught”, that their voices could be heard by the male elders and perhaps some entreaty wrought upon them through the working relationships they had, but that in the end, men called the shots in the cult and were to follow their leading as “unto the Lord.” After all, for a young woman to assert any kind of wilful disagreement with the established Will of God when delivered by a male elder or Zac wasn’t being “humble” and would be a terrible threat to unity, according to Gladstone oral tradition, which the “House Leadership” citation above illustrates.

Certainly, elders would pipe up, matters of preference and personal choice were permissible in Gladstone, but there was always the real possibility that God might have a different perspective on how one might exercise his freedom of choice - especially when Zac and the elders heard from God better than anyone else and who would be the arbiters of right and wrong in the community. With such a well established social setting in place, it’s not hard to see how Gladstone leaders were able to maintain their dominant directives in place over the lives of its residents. How do you argue with God or touch His anointed by argument? 


As Jim Croce once well sang “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape / You don’t spit into the wind.”

Christine Hilton was the mother of Cebastian and she was among many other capable women who energized the inner connections of Gladstone. She was initially attracted to Gladstone by the same vibe of joyous Christian connection around serving others and maintained close ties with them as she lived in the area until moving to Western Kentucky with her husband. While there, she was a nurturing encourager, offered practical means like organizing, cooking and shopping. She was a role model and mentor for younger women there as well as a passionate participant in street evangelism. Even though she lived miles from the Community, she found their spiritual support of her work in helping troubled women by prayer, encouragement and even housing some of them most refreshing and memorable. She would move in with them later, as we will see, but her story is far from alone as many other women like her were drawn by the refreshing idealism of Gladstone and worked closely together with her also, from within and without the community.

Under Zak’s authoritarian thumb, the culture of Gladstone has always been a fluid thing. Using the house leadership network, community and work covenants as their way to lock in members into irrevocable commitment to the Community, the lifestyle’s focus shifts as manning and inspiration wax and wane. He and his elders have been like all the other social engineers in every communal living experiment under the sun since the dawn of time, endlessly reinforcing the tightest of control over the time of the members there with a ruthless hand. This bitterly totalistic domination underlies the tasty outer layer of the community’s public image and appeal.  In essence, the lives of anywhere from 80 to over 100 people are efficiently harnessed to a laborious seven day a week, twenty four hour a day slog of never ending activity in community living spaces that are kept quite deliberately as spare as possible as this anonymous Reddit contributor advised:.

Personal ownership, well let's just say if you are not in leadership you have none. They are only allowed to have a limited amount of clothing, and personal items. (four 12x12 cubbies, one underbed bin, one storage bin, a small container for hygiene). During monthly inspections, if you are found to have too much or messy you may come home from work to find it thrown away or given away. Yes, there are monthly inspections of all houses done by Zak and one other person in leadership. If houses fail they or individuals will be fined. Most in leadership have office space or other places to store or display their personal mementos. If you come with a car it will be sold or be used by the community. They may never drive it again, and be left with having to find a car to borrow when needed. Almost everyone in leadership has a vehicle that is pretty much theirs. (76)

Complete with tightly scheduled and well regimented lifestyles, there is no aspect of life that some Community rule doesn’t address in some way. Within their social fabric the collective energies and earning power of the men and women who lived in Gladstone homes were harnessed and distributed to the greater good of their collective effort. This workforce was, of course, provided “opportunities” to staff the businesses that were beginning to be developed by Gladstone. Many of those who were not directly involved in Community owned workplaces maintained secular careers with skill sets and salaries they offered to Gladstone’s common purse account.  


Centered around the operation of the industry they created, a Gladstone lifestyle was punctuated with long work days and hyper scheduled lifestyles. The community’s vocation was endlessly exalted as being essential to a consecrated Christian life. Daily devotional study and prayer spiritualized their lives and the gathering of clothing and food for distribution to the needy never stopped. A prayer room in the original Gladstone basement was created to replicate the IHOP model of maintaining a sanctuary for 24/7 prayer and praise. Generating support for world missions efforts to places like Israel and Mexico was a priority. Someone had to make it possible for Zak and other elders to fly junkets first class, have Kodak moments “laboring” alongside mission church ministries utterly unaware of their spiritual dysfunction and return home from “the harvest.”

In a cult, the appetite of the god they represent is one that is never satisfied and whose demands can only be obeyed once delivered by the cult’s direction. Those who are to fulfill those commands find themselves balancing a lot of spinning plates while walking a tightrope on fire while upside down. The exhaustive pressure of multitasking cannot be overstated. So never ending campaigns involving the creation and promotion of fundraising banquets, extravagant acts of personal service and outright donation seeking had to be maintained.  In addition to all of this, as well as their daily labor, Thursday nights would be a gathering time of the entire community at the MCC Chapel for extended praise and worship and teaching as delivered by Zac or an elder that could go on for three to five hours. And that always resulted in the exhortation for all to keep slaving away for the Lord, under the serious delusion that these good works were a Kingdom mandate upon which their individual spiritual destinies would rely. 

These Thursday and Sundays were times of gathering which the Gladstone culture revolved around, using it as it’s chief time of recruitment of the unwary and indoctrination of its’ faithful. In an interesting parallel, both the Xenos/Dwell cult and Gladstone prioritize Thursday night involvement in their gatherings as vital markers of personal spiritual health in its community, with the former group calling these assembly times “Central Teaching”. All Gladstone members knew these occasions were viewed as mandatory assemblies only a secular job commitment or deathly illness could get them out of.  They would have to, at other times, officially submit an actual personal time off (PTO) request to get approval to leave the community involvement they were in. Quite often, a Gladstone elder or member was required to come with them as an escort while away from the group to ensure they didn’t stray from Gladstone’s influence!  And there was the never ending need for laborers in the street outreaches to hail drug addicts, prostitutes and the other denizens of the street to hear their Gospel preaching. To be a Gladstone member was like being in a game of checkers, where everything was kept constantly moving. 

Time management became a Christian duty as sacred as prayer for every Gladstone member who was expected to attend whatever activity Zac and the elders mandated. A true believer would readily sacrifice whatever privacy, money and attachments to the outside world as required by Gladstone demands on their time. They would regularly submit to “coachings” by the elders that would occur in any setting they chose, which was often in public and was always punitive in nature, a correction of some violation of community rules that could result in their being bound for hell fire. These personal whirlwinds of full days of hard labor and evenings full of activity keeping the faithful perpetually focused upon the community’s demands for nonstop effort are the stock in trade of all cultic movements. 


Living in an communal environment where people were taught that personal faith involves continual practice in an immersive lifestyle of scheduled, regimented action was an irresistibly indoctrinating experience. Such labor keeps people so focused upon everything but their own personal needs, which are derided as selfishness, and most vitally for the cult’s ongoing existence, short circuits their ability to critically question what they’ve been told. They readily and freely adopted the unwritten customs and traditions of Gladstone’s idealism with no room for debate or questioning. They just did. With such an environment of communal indoctrination, it is no wonder that so many young men and women could be conditioned to stop thinking for themselves and for the snare of it’s cultic mind control to flourish (77)

Those drawn in by their triune outreach of evangelism, counseling and “deliverance” ministry were directed to make a whole hearted submission to Zac’s hardlining Work Gospel, as promoted by the winsome outreach workers and their merciful service to the downtrodden and confused. Even as Zac’s compulsion got more rigorous, the young victims caught up in it seemed to barely notice - seemed to, that is. In becoming a part of the common purse cooperative and by moving in to live among them, new converts took their place on Zac’s religious shop floor, ensured direct deposits and annuity distributions kept filling their coffers and smiled a lot to demonstrate their Christian delight at being virtual slaves, under the belief that they were actually serving in the name of Jesus (which, was their sincere intent, despite how plainly they were being used). As an anonymous former member, drawn to them by their appeal,  well pointed out “
they (Gladstone) moved from relationship-based to becoming a lot more rule-based over time.” (78 emphasis mine).  Performance became a benchmark of Gladstone authenticity and there were no shortage of hoops Zac and the elders could create for people to jump through, no matter what it cost them. 


There were, of course, regular instances of down time and play among the community where off days were scheduled. All cults understand the necessity for even minimal down time among their driven populace and Gladstone was no exception. Unscheduled time in which play and personal matters could be looked into was blocked into the community calendar. During these occasions, the community played volleyball, goofed off and mugged for selfies that looked so whimsical and lighthearted. Lounging on mattresses out in the sun, with hordes of smiling young people just hanging out, the photo settings all looked so carefree and spontaneous but these times were always focused on the leading of the elders. However, it could change at any whim of the leadership as they “followed the Holy Spirit” - work gangs or ministry assignments, at a moment’s notice could be speedily penciled into daily life.  



And both Denis Beausejour and his Mariemont Community Church leadership, looked continually away from this veiled vanity of human vanities, just as Rob McGillivray, Matt Massey and his Northstar elders also did a few years before. 


Their grotesque example of hands off oversight became for them a fig leaf of plausible deniability to cover their hinder parts - and the whole world is still watching. They may want to take the time out in their devotionals to consider their complicity in this cultism and let the Word of God speak to them:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8


It was impractical if not impossible for an integrated community of young men and women to avoid interaction with one another. Such arrested communion would arrest any group or cult’s cohesion. But while they went about their chores and their ice cream socials, there was the ever present unspoken expectation to avoid getting too close to anyone of the opposite sex. While same sex friendships and connections among those who lived there were an expected reality, for a man or woman to linger in conversation and time together was frowned upon, especially when apart from others in private settings. The popular perception was that their conversation could only be a prelude to sexual temptation and the demand to bring conversation back around to Community concerns and not personal interests was meant to squelch any personal connection not related to Gladstone’s own agenda.

Such a nagging and accusatory demand was in play constantly among the people of Gladstone, young men and women in the prime of life with genuine desire and drives they were to utterly crush and suppress. This Gladstone social more or custom was meant to discourage attraction and personal sharing between men and women who might have desire for romance and relationship with each other.  The raising of this point leads us to review what is perhaps one of the most disturbing realities of utter and ruthless control over the Gladstone community that is completely invisible to most of the outside world.

Zac and the elders, for years, have systematically discouraged and then forbade any personal interaction that could spark romantic connections between any of the young men and women there. Any conversation that could engender courtship were discussions they were determined to cut off. As in testimonies of outright abuse, we’ve had multiple people testify to this cold reality which exists to this day there. There are no shortage of personal testimonies to the heartbreak of attractions a young Gladstone disciple might have for someone there, only to be told that yielding to such feelings was akin to a spiritual compromise that couldn’t be tolerated.

Within the Gladstone community, the desire for marriage, a divine institution sanctioned by God and universally accepted by the children of men everywhere, is actually viewed as a spiritual defilement and even called an idolatry no real Christian there should have anything to deal with. With a few notable pairings within the group, there have been no other marriages, no other short or long term dating relationships and certainly no encouragement for them - only rebuke or scorn for those who might slip and be transparent about their piteous longing for love.

Cults routinely control human interactions in so many ways, and their manipulation of courtship and the family is just another one of their choice arenas of utter dominance. Many an American fringe spiritual community throughout its history has grappled with the issues raised by the human desire for romance and family and in the process created imbalanced approaches to them within their movements  which contributed to the downfall of their movements (79). The attempt by questionable spiritual leaders to push the envelope of human passion into warped forms of their own architecture that defies the natural desires within them always has the most dire of consequence - many of which the bright paint of Gladstone’s public Christian image completely conceals.


One of the many dictates of oral tradition verbally handed down within Gladstone was that Zac was celibate and that he’d given up women for the sake of preaching the Gospel. This belief elevated his heroic status even further and was a position that the Community lauded as a Godly example of great significance that everyone should take heed to. The clear implication is that real Christians are unconcerned about such fleshly things as dating and marriage. As we’ve seen, since his puberty, Zac’s complex distance from women was likely more behind that empty claim than anything else. He may not have sought marriage, but as to his not being sexually active is quite another issue altogether which we’ve touched on already (no racy pun intended). Zac’s sexual ambivalence as he matured was certainly a major factor in his decision. And since misery as well as confusion truly love company, his personal spurning of romance and courtship likely was what drove his own decision, a spiritualizing of his inner uncertainty that he used to persuade the elders to take vows of celibacy as well.  (80)

It’s just beyond belief that a supposedly Christian ministry could create such a grossly unbiblical objection to the sacred institution of marriage, but in places like Gladstone, the perversion of truth is as mundane as any other reality in its alternate reality. As Peter Pan proudly exulted in how clever he was in regaining his shadow, he completely ignored the plain fact that it was Wendy who had sewed it back on him. He drew his sense of superiority from events he speedily recast to his own definition of the event. So it was with the Gladstone communal cult ideal: in following Zac’s relational directives as they did, the slaves of Zac have become spayed eunuchs following a warped ideal he would say God required them to do. 

2012 was the fateful year that Zac’s tradition took a dark turn into extremism over courtship and marriage. Since the Mariemont apartment days, his meddling into the love lives of community followers was based upon his oracular insight into God’s will for X or Y to date, and it was entirely arbitrary and often restrictive. But in 2012, Zac and Gladstone were impacted deeply that year by the questionable thoughts of the now late British Charismatic writer David Pawson. An otherwise well balanced and uncompromising former Methodist turned Charismatic Baptist pastor, Pawson conducted a global evangelical teaching ministry that was well followed, issuing tapes, books and articles on the Christian lifestyle as well as Charismatic issues (81). He traveled worldwide to deliver talks and preach sermons about his thoughts on these subjects and enjoyed renown for his Biblical application. And one of Pawson’s greatest concerns was what he viewed as the Christian Church’s great compromise over marital fidelity when it came to divorce and remarriage due to the seductions of secular relativism.  His teaching is emphatic:

The rule stated by Jesus is: Only death dissolves a marriage. Therefore remarriage while a partner is alive is adultery in God's sight . This is the first time in history that anyone ever said remarriage after divorce is adultery. This rule is recorded in Mark and Luke – the gospels for unbelievers - with no hint of any exceptions. Luke 16 :18 "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (82 emphasis mine).

He passionately believed, on the basis of his rigid interpretation of Scripture that since “only death dissolves a marriage” all Christians who divorce their spouses and seek remarriage enter into what he blisteringly called “consecutive polygamy (as many husbands or wives as you like but only one at a time)”, one of the colorful epithets he was fond of using in his teaching. Despite his admission that there was ambiguity and what he grudgingly called “exceptions” in the teaching of Christ and Paul in other portions of Scripture about marital crises that challenged his prohibitory “rule”, Pawson continued to adhere to a literal reading of the Bible that resulted in his teaching that once a believer divorces they are not free to marry at all -  simply because he saw nothing in any of the texts he cites that they could do so, which is a profoundly incorrect and illegitimate elevation of his own prescriptive tradition to the level of Scripture. There’s much to disagree on here with Pawson, but that was his position which those who followed his global ministry understood well (83).

Pawson’s controversial teaching on divorce and remarriage would come into sharp focus locally in the Ohio Valley during a February 2012 visit to Cincinnati in which he broached the subject during a teaching conference tour at several venues there. The leadership of the MCC hosted a return of Pawson back to the area on March 2 and 3 by having him speak a total of four times that weekend. The Gladstone church, as always, helped in the hosting and with child care.

And the subject of divorce and remarriage there became a hot button topic that Zac and Gladstone heard Pawson out on for the first time there as he dilated on the subject. While no recordings are known of the March MCC meetings, recordings from his previous February 2012 trip there locally are available online through his website (84) and from all accounts, Pawson’s treatment on the subject during the MCC meetings was more subdued, less dogmatic and raised the “possible exceptions” discussion more at length there with his hosts, many of whom were greatly offended and challenged by what he had expanded upon due to their own marital status. It certainly made coffee time chat around the church in months more energetic.

But Zak apparently came away from the Pawson lectures hearing basically one core thought from Pawson’s citation of 1 Corinthians 7: 27-28: marriage is a trial of fire that should be avoided at the advise of no less than an apostle: “Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”  This would result in an intensive review of the issue by Zac and the elders, who thereafter concluded this was the message that the Gladstone community needed to hear as well. It became part of a sharply inserted and cutting oral tradition among the group that marriage was a troublesome institution and that they certainly wanted to make sure Gladstone steered clear of any unnecessary struggles over it. 

It is evident that the concept of viewing desire for marital relationship as a distractive, even destructive idolatry was already formed about this time within Zak's own ego-centric thinking and that the Pawson visit stimulated the call to discourage re-marriage and hence, these embracings of celibacy among the elders .. and who wouldn't want to be like Jesus and join that club to show ultimate commitment to God?

This was a new mission that Gladstone felt it needed to launch, to purge their host church of sin and rebellion thanks to their newly enlightened perspective. So throughout the remainder of that year, out of their myopic perspective, Gladstone began to engage in criticisms of those who were divorced and had remarried there at MCC. Zak's self-generated mystique about forsaking everything for the "gospel" involved an assertion that he had taken a vow of celibacy, as if he was some kind of neo Nazirite. Since his obedience was out of a supposed purity that was actually smudged pride, he could stand and cast judgment and of course direct others in GCC to challenge others in MCC in whom a supposed “sin” existed.

This caused no little stir within the church and consternation with Pastor Beausejour, who had invited Pawson among them to begin with, never suspecting the dignified British minister would act like a fire breathing evangelist in his “hit em’ and run” preaching.  For long after Pawson had jetted off to the next Bible conference, encircled by accolades and notoriety, both Pastor Beausejour and the Mariemont leadership would have to deal with the serious aftermath inspired by their guest preacher and stridently being repeated by the young men and women of Gladstone there.

The fact that Pawson’s dogmatic assertions were chiefly aimed at those
impacted by divorce seemed to completely escape Zac and Gladstone. Nowhere in even Pawson’s own teaching was marriage ever hinted as being forbidden by Christ or the apostle Paul: the apostle’s own concern over it being a social status that would encounter a lot of trouble stemmed more from his concern over the lascivious culture and persecution the early church was facing in Corinth. This historical reality seemed to have been missed by their studious deliberation who plowed on ahead believing Pawson to be a heaven-sent sage whom, to this day, Gladstone takes great pleasure in commending (85) as a “grandfather in the faith” who died in 2020.  Whether Pawson ever heard of the checkered history of Gladstone and whether he would have done anything about it is unknown. In light of the track record of so many compromised Christian leaders in the region who knew of Gladstone’s extremism and remained silent, it’s questionable he would have said or done anything. Most grandfathers can be pretty quiet about their grandchildren’s public failings. But we don’t know.

Ultimately, as he dug into the issue, Zac would issue a community document entitled “1 Corinthians 7” in which he echoed Pawson’s position with his own elaborate reasoning: it is one of the few publications Gladstone created. But it is singularly revealing when
he starts to associate by comparison both marriage with the first century institution of slavery and in so doing uncovers Pawson’s hand behind his verbiage and innovation of the concept:

In order to make his point clear, Paul gives a series of examples not relating to marriage. .. He then reiterates his rule in verse 20, saying: Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Then he moves on to another common condition in the Roman world: slavery. To the many slaves who became followers of Christ, Paul tells them not to concern themselves about trying to get freedom because they are now "a freedman of the Lord."  While if they are able, Paul tells them to earn their freedom and that they should not be melei - meaning "an object of care/concern" as opposed to "anxious" - about getting their freedom. 


Thus Paul is teaching believers that changing their life status, in whatever form, should not be an object of concern for the Christian. He then concludes with another reiteration of his rule: 

“in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” 

Paul .. desires his readers to apply this principle to their romantic impulses as well. To the married believers he is trying to curb the desire to be free from their spouse. To the unmarried believers he is trying to foster contentment and satisfaction in the Lord. (86)

The condition of involuntary slavery, according to Zac,  was a state that someone could actually find contentment in. Slaves therefore should have more concern with being slaves happily being exploited and praising God through it all, with little thought of changing it unless the extremely rare opportunity to buy freedom came to them. Being the self-appointed anointed taskmaster of the Gladstone labor force that he was, Zac used this chance to indirectly reinforce among Gladstone disciples their continuing need to submit to the community rule on labor as part of a “condition” they were to “remain with God” in (a foundational truth in his Work Gospel).  And what’s more, he got more than he bargained for, an apparent opportunity to put marriage in it’s place as he pontificates from verse 28-31:

Paul then explains the reasoning behind his recommendation to remain single. He begins by warning  “..those who marry will have worldly troubles and I would spare you that.”   Marriage, although holy and created by God for the good of mankind has an effect on fallen man that creates thlipsis of the sarx meaning "flesh." Paul's desire is to spare believers from all unnecessary trouble. .. The reason that Paul recommends singleness for the Christian to whom the choice is available is not because it is inherently more godly or "spiritual."  His concern is that Christians be as amerimnos, meaning "anxiety free" or "secure," as possible. .. that we can maximize our devotion to the Lord in spirit and body. (87)

His argument bristling with citation of the Greek in the passage, Zac at once calls marriage “holy and created by God” that brings “an effect on fallen man” that Paul calls “worldly troubles” he thought the Corinthians would be better not having to endure. Zac’s grappling with the thrust of the verse’s warning about “trouble in the flesh” (NKJV) comes off as appearing to believe he wanted Gladstone singles to avoid the inevitable struggles that take place as two lives become one, with all of the marital and family conflicts that come.

But his choice of centering in on 
sarx, the Greek word describing the actual fleshly, corporeal nature of humanity and all of its passions and sensualities, (88)  strongly suggests that it is the sexual nature of marriage that Zac really has an issue with. Our review of his past sexual experimentation and subsequent unrestrained same sex interludes gives us a picture of a young man with a fluid sexual drive of his own that troubles him enough to supposedly embrace celibacy. In essence, if Zac couldn’t handle his sex drive in the context of a relationship with a woman, nobody else should have to. It’s too much of a trap for the Christian to take on the carnal in a life of the spiritual, he infers, even though millions of believers, all of their issues included, daily choose to live that out before an unbelieving world, as millions more in ages past.

Zac’s cunningly subtle twisting of the established truth he claims to expound here becomes most evident when reading one of their “Following Jesus Booklet Series” entitled “Divorce And Remarriage” (it’s reasoning is drawn straight from Pawson’s) and considering how Gladstone actually proscribes it in their daily life. In the booklet, Zac glibly writes

A primary function of the Church is to teach people what Jesus and His chosen Apostles have commanded, as recorded in Scripture, without our own additions or situational adaptations: This is not always easy, but our role is to make disciples who obey the commands of Jesus after receiving forgiveness of sins. To do this, we must say what Jesus has said without adding to it the traditions of man. If we are to be disciples of Christ we must get back to His teaching and that of His Apostles.  …


A . We must first believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and the sole authority of the Scriptures to form the doctrine of the Christian Church. Without this belief, a Christian is left without basis for any of his or her views. Any discussion of this topic must be based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles as recorded in the Bible.

B. We can look at Church history to help us understand how Scripture is to be put into practice; however, wherever Church history/tradition departs from Scripture the Bible is to take sole precedent. (89)

The booklet would go on to virtually restate Pawson’s views on divorce and remarriage. But what we need to see here about Zac’s leveraging of the Bible to compel obedience to his unsavory new escalation of domination is far more important. This is a textbook example of how he and other cult leaders hide behind and even defend Christian orthodoxy to draw attention away from their heresy and dysfunction.

With Zac’s affirmation of adherence to the sufficiency and divine inspiration of Scripture, the need to base all Christian doctrine upon it and a firm rejection of any church tradition that “departs from Scripture”, he composed statements that sound like orthodox Evangelical Christian principles about faith based upon the Bible. This was a part of their scribal tradition, of what little there is, they can point to and say that they were in agreement with the Christian Church. However, as we have seen, the oral tradition of Gladstone readily trumped whatever was on paper they’d present to the outside world. Within Gladstone the unwavering application of Pawson’s dictum against divorce and remarriage became a tradition that accompanied their  own belief that to desire marriage was an admission of infatuation with the world.

It was Zac’s human tradition piggy backing Pawson’s dubious interpretation that turned the years after Pawson’s junket there into an excruciating time for Gladstone as they began to bear the full weight of this new mold Zac and the elders had created and endlessly reiterated in the community.
Zac chose to be single and mandated his elders to ensure everyone understood that romantic entanglements were suspect, carnal distractions to a Christian life. This dubious, self-serving tradition, was orally borne within the community and rigorously clung to in the following testimonies of brutal social engineering beginning that same year, as this anonymous member who immediately felt it’s weight from their very first contact with them:


"Idolatry of marriage" was introduced to me as a concept the very first night I went to Bible study in summer of 2012 (emphasis mine). The concept was that I should be content where I was and not seek out marriage but trust God with my future. Anytime someone had a crush, they usually confessed it to someone else and they "prayed it away" together. (90)

Former Gladstone member Christine Hilton recalls the crushing agony of conviction she labored under when she first understood the Community’s hard line adoption of Pawson’s minority opinion. She was told privately by Zac that he and the elders had met with Pawson telling them that  what he “really believed” was that “you had to actually leave the marriage.”  This claim requires consideration when made by a source utterly devoted to lying and deception, but Hilton, who was not living with them, was completely unaware of his twisted nature and looked upon him as a man of God walking on a plane no one else had achieved among them and who should be listened to.  Hilton had divorced and remarried, leaving an abusive marriage, and upon hearing this new mandate from the leadership of Community was plunged into the deepest of conviction and horror at the thought that she was committing “perpetual adultery” by having remarried:

In my desire to be obedient to Jesus, I left my husband because I had been married before” ruefully remembered Hilton “and I had remarried .. I didn’t want him going to hell and I didn’t want to go to hell so I left my husband to walk out repentance and that’s when I moved into the community. (91). 

For years afterward  and long after she finally left Gladstone, the guilt and struggle weighed heavily upon her that sapped her greatly. She threw herself into the ministry there to help dull the edge of this knife that had deeply stabbed her at every possible level of her life. Even after her disillusionment and departure from Gladstone with a return back to an understanding husband, the anguish still tugs at her today. 


Eric Kraus, a well known and respected deacon at Gladstone who distinguished himself as an exceptional servant to his church members, became a pariah to the elders toward the end of his three year tenure there from 2012-2015. “Eric was no longer thinking for himself. All his decisions were based on the mandates and dictates of Gladstone,” said his adoptive mother Jody Liske who she said had questioned Eric for months about what he was experiencing (92). One of the struggles he had within himself over his time there was his failure to reconcile Gladstone’s demand for celibacy with his desire to seek and find a young woman to fall in love with, marry and start a family. 

He met a Gladstone woman and they had started to text and interact carefully with one another. Eric, as part of the leadership, was fully submitted to the elders monitoring of their growing attraction, even their texting, and their desire to seek an “approved” relationship status. It began to end badly with Cebastian’s dictate that while he seemed ready, they felt she was not and was actually being counseled within her home group over issues with a past relationship. And when he persisted in seeking to create ways to meet with her and gauge her “readiness”, he received contradictory directives from two different elders about inviting her to a Gladstone skate night - one indicating she should come and the other that she shouldn’t. His disillusionment with Gladstone’s “sloppy agape” turned into a full-scale shattering over their arbitrary treatment of his personal life and his displeasure over their clumsy control turned them into punitive judges who harangued him over his “disrespect” of their authority until he finally left and she remained behind (93).

Eric would find out later in a long secret talk with this young woman that at the time the elders told him she was in some manner of deep counseling over her wounding in the previous relationship she had before meeting him, she was not under any kind of counsel whatsoever.
They had outright lied to him to dissuade his advances.  (94)

Jody and her husband Otto had had enough:

Some time shortly after Eric left we requested a meeting with Zac to talk to him about our concerns. A simple, heart to heart conversation is what we wanted. We didn’t get a response and we continued to pursue with emails , maybe phone calls ( can’t remember). Months and months later they decided to meet with us. Remember we just wanted to talk to Zac , thought maybe he’d bring a friend, elder, we didn’t care. So maybe probably a year ( can’t remember) after our initial contact they agreed to meet at a church in our area. My husband and I went and Zac brought probably 14-15 people  There were 4 maybe 5 pastors and the rest were people that they invited. Many gave testimony/ told stories supporting Gladstone and Zac. 

The whole situation had a weird vibe: what started out as something so simple as a simple conversation ending up as this meeting they organized with all these people.

But we didn’t care . We were just going to talk about what the Holy Spirit had showed us , and we did. We shared Gladstone is a cult. “You are controlling, dominating, intimidating, shaming these young people. You are teaching a false authority. You won’t listen to mature Godly wisdom from others.”  The others shared their supportive stories (of Zac and Gladstone). From what I remember the pastors on the whole remained silent, clearly they came at Zac’s request and they were his friends.

I don’t fault them for supporting him in the beginning but they didn’t seem to hear the stories of those that left or who desperately needed help that were still in. The only pastor that I had a conversation with was totally in support of Gladstone .
He also mentioned that he believed that they were the elite forces in the Christian communities. But we did what we believed God was calling us to do and we left it at that. (95) 

We learned from others that the meeting was held at a branch of the Crossroads Church, a local megachurch with multiple “campuses” (as their archived and glitzy website in 2015 said “One church, five locations” - Clifton, Florence. Mason, Oakley and West Side) and several of those that accompanied Zac were ex-members of the church, among them the recently appointed elder Ben von Korff, whose witness of immoral behavior in a Crossroads leader disillusioned him to the point that he dropped out it, thinking the entire Christian church was in compromise.  Zac evidently had been able to prevail upon the leadership of whatever branch of the church they attended to let them use it as his personal arena. This reveals to what extent his malign influence had in the life of the Christian church ever since their embrace of Gladstone’s cancerous tentacles.

This pathetic state of de-matchmaking had obvious exceptions.

Elder Eric Potticary went through all of the particulars to ask for the hand and marry a woman named Anna from the community who had, according to an anonymous member, been at one time attracted to another elder in a far more passionate way. That is until Zac himself had ruled this association between them was not of God, not sanctioned by His word upon it. Zac’s ruling was from On High and it wasn’t questioned. Their relationship ended. But “God” wasn’t finished speaking into this situation. Not long afterwards, Potticary, noting that this sister’s desire signaled she was seeking a union, was told by Zac that his attraction to her was in “His will” and that it was “His plan” for her to consider marrying him, no pressure of course. 


If Anna’s yearning to marry within Gladstone was to happen, God’s will was for her to submit to Potticary’s ardor and proposal. This is a scenario straight out of the court intrigues of nobility or a tribal patriarch leaning on their shamanic or clerical pipeline to the Divine to determine the will of the Almighty for the situation. Given that such an irresistible perspective was so freely cited by adherents to the errant Charismatic culture mores that advocated it, it’s not surprising to see it occur in the Potticary episode. With their potential union sanctioned by God (through Zac’s divining), the matchmaking trickster that he was, she agreed to accept this hasty proposal and marry Eric despite a serious lack of enthusiasm for the pairing (96). 

It was a coupling as orchestrated as any other arranged marriage you’d see in human society today with agendas and hormones and submission to group pressure. However, within a communal cult where the thinking is done from the top down for all, rank indeed does have its privileges. When “God” calls the shots through a “prophet” who so directs, how can such absolute authority be questioned? Potticary’s marriage would be one of five others that are currently accepted as authorized pairings in Gladstone. It’s unknown if these other betrothals were as well orchestrated by Zac’s prophetic marriage brokership or not.

The rest of the single membership of men and women daily submit themselves to a lifestyle of an imposed and involuntary celibacy unsanctioned by Scripture or balanced Christian tradition. For a small minority for whom romance or family aren’t sought after, this is an oppression they easily tolerate since they are already adaptable in loss of personal freedom and conscience. But for those who otherwise would seek a mate and marriage, they can only yield to the profoundly personal crushing of their dreams and desires each time they feel the never ending magnetism toward the opposite sex. Zac and the elders can piously say all they want to about this being
their “choice”, but with the Work Gospel ever burning underfoot, with leadership's verbal cudgeons and dire warnings against “Marriage Idolatry” ever around them, Gladstone’s eunuchs plod along with their mandatory chipper attitude and a well painted smile.

Their “freedom of choice” was a submission to the twisted mandates of contradictory leadership who authorize marriage for some and not for others. It is a sickening reality hidden well away from public view. The members watch the children of their elders, the families and other kids of the region they serve with a heartsick inner sterility of imposed self-denial. They ignore the deep inner conflict  because they’ve been conditioned to believe that their normal relational drives are a sinful way to feel, left to deal with crying hormones seeking release in marital romance and told “you need to let that die.”

And they are told this by Zachary Kijinski, a supposedly celibate cult leader with no real life experience in courtship and the family and who has never quite grown up to do so .. just like the other trickster named Peter Pan.

Paul’s warning of the advance of spiritual deception in his letter to his young mentor Timothy is singularly chilling: the true inspiration behind Zac’s dictates is readily exposed by God’s Spirit

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (emphasis mine 1 Timothy 4:1-3)


As for the Mariemont Christian Church, its ability to ignore all of the evident imbalance and abuse of Gladstone’s internal affairs was deeply compromised by the Pawson controversy. It could no longer ignore the failure of the congregational firewall that their leadership had erected as the flames of outright friction developed between the MCC and Gladstone leadership began to seriously heat up. Within about a year or so, Zac and his elders hammered out their position enough for Gladstone to understand and submit to. And when Gladstone elders began to criticize MCC members who had been divorced but remarried, the pushback became quite serious.


With no heat shield, the molten gases of their judgmental atmosphere began to buffet the joint venture and Zac did not seem to care or notice that the airframe around their spiritual space shuttle had begun to crumble. The disagreements that arose were sharp and unpleasant, resulting in out and out screaming matches between elders on both sides on the issue according to several reports (97).  It would ultimately lead to a great and growing rift between both parties that would prove to be, despite all of the internal damage control over the contention that could be done,  irreconcilable. 


But even as the conflict over divorce and remarriage with Zac and his eldership darkened their sunny days in 2012, Pastor Dennis and MCC continued with their association even after these episodes of obnoxiously legalistic excess flared up in his own congregation.  He’d made Zac and Gladstone, a major part of his ministry there at MCC so it was going to be messier to disassociate from them than to maintain a sunny smile in their public relationship. For despite the new internal challenges that Gladstone’s damaging influence posed to the Mariemont church’s testimony, Beausejour kept enabling Zac to enjoy spiritual authority among them, to preach from the Mariemont pulpit at times during his sermon series, as well as deploying Gladstone to provide labor and support to their own external projects around the church.


To this day, the videos of Zac on the MCC YouTube channel provide a visual record of his potent earnestness and deceptive manner which is only surpassed by the eyewitness testimony we’ve offered here. Some went so far as to compare his manner as that of seeing Christ preach. And to underscore even further the duplicity of MCC with GCC’s checkered career, we discovered that Zac and Pastor Dennis even wrote booklets together that at one time could be downloaded from the MCC home page. These works were written as discipling primers that both groups could use:

The Born Again Series booklets, co-authored by Denis Beausejour and Zak Kijinski, were written to help us see the Biblical pattern that Jesus and the Apostles laid out for entering the Kingdom of God. These four steps, which Peter lays out clearly in Acts 2, are crucial for us to understand and walk out if we are to experience the fullness of what God has for us in Christ.

These booklets are simple and easy to read. Their purpose is to provide jumping points for you to make your own study of the Scriptures. Not only can they help you to "check the gauges" in your own life, but also give you the tools to lead others into the fullness of the promises Jesus has held out to us in His amazing grace.(98) 

The booklets were short essays on basic Christian doctrine and while no longer offered on MCC’s home page, they are still offered by Gladstone on their own website (99) with the avowal that they cover “topics we believe are Biblical and on God's heart.”  Presenting them jointly as their contributions to Christian living certainly provided an ever greater sense of investment to Beausejour and the MCC and another layer of ground cover for Zac and the GCC from any scrutiny. The booklet publication effort was a bandwagon platform to present themselves as just another orthodox if unconventional Christian ministry. It never fails to astonish me at how utterly undiscerning supposedly mature Christian leaders, allegedly filled and led by the Holy Spirit of God, can be; so completely blind to the error of their ways as Beausejour’s leadership of MCC into their sponsoring of this level of allegiance with Gladstone actually was. Behind the banner of holy orthodoxy and unity in Christian mission, a church and a cult contributed to the most deceptive kind of discipling I’ve ever seen. 

The kind of “discipleship”, after all, was what one 2014 MCC website statement stated quite tellingly:
“Spiritual Growth doesn't have to be like brain surgery, but it can definitely blow your mind.” (100)

So despite the Russian Red Square mass display of red flags waving all around the situation, Zac was still accorded the honor of being a ministerial peer of Pastor Dennis, with the blessing of the MCC eldership. That certainly didn’t hurt his standing among the ministerial tribes they freely floated among, resulting in ever deepening connection and duplicity. One example was how both men were presented as being keynote speakers with other local charismatic teachers  in a conference on “healing” in January 2012 conducted at MCC. 

Where the Northstar pastor Mike Massey had kept his church and ministry distinct from Gladstone in a sterile, even aloof distancing, Pastor Dennis had rolled out a red carpet, slew a fatted calf and got rings for all of them. And for about four years, this cooperative connection between Mariemont and Gladstone remained intact and inviolate to both sides.




Despite the buffeting tension that had arisen between both the MCC and their guest congregation, it was within Gladstone that their mid week services were still a gathering of refuge against the inner darkness of their existence as 2012 turned to 2013. People still came seeking God from outside the church, people unaware of the nature of their shadowy spirituality. shadows and who’d never suspect otherwise. Lost in that tenderly exuberant worship and praise of God, the Gladstone members and visitors found a place where they could lift hands and encounter God in a weekly time of renewal that was theirs alone. Despite the harsh indoctrination and modeling of an oppressively angry God before them by the Gladstone hammer over their heads, most of the young men and women retained a quiet place of love for Him, knowing somehow He was beyond the puerile posturing of Zac and his leadership tribe.


The presence of a Father God was almost tangible and the Body ministry of the church was inspired by their hunger for it. These Thursday nights in the Mariemont chapel always involved free and uninhibited prayer for one another and the display of spiritual gifts that included prophecy, words of wisdom and knowledge and encouragement of one another. A gracious visitation of God’s Spirit would ignite during these times of refreshing for a weary group of young people enduring horrors no one ever should have to but still seeking His power to rise above them somehow if even just for a few hours a week. In the midst of the unspoken horrors and oppression that Gladstone was immersed in, the presence of the Lord was profoundly experienced and the voice of His Spirit was stirring among them.

In the gospel according to John 16, Jesus taught that the active and personal work of His Spirit was to be a normative and supernatural guidance for the Christian church:

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (v. 13-14)

It was a wonderful intervention of God’s Spirit calling Gladstone to a new re-centering of faith upon Christ alone as He led them through fellowship and teaching all of His own doing. He had been listening to all of the prayers in all of the mandated prayer meetings and was divinely answering them by a visitation that bade each of them back to seeking the Good Shepherd and to follow His leading. The limited freedom to seek God publicly in worship settings and in quiet conversation in the covenant house settings was finding room to move and it was a profound stir there.


These refreshing times of spiritual renewal that genuinely refreshed the youthful church apart from any leadership curated event  finally became too much for the controlling freakitude of Zac to tolerate. In a cult there can only be one figure of authority in whom the Divine works and Gladstone was no exception. There could be only one end to this.

While he and the eldership had always wielded a laid back yet ironfisted mediation of the flow of ministry in their assemblies, the Thursday night times of 2013 had been a catalyst for an outbreak of extraordinary moments of Christian autonomy among the community that they couldn’t control: Jeremiah Zoltani, a former Gladstone coordinator recounted that 


(the) community was experiencing a growth spurt and a lot of members were being led by the Holy Spirit. People were ministering to one another in charismatic ways. People were having dreams and hearing from God and acting on it. So, it would seem that Zak may have felt threatened by that. I was Zack’s roommate during this whole period. He confided in me that he had always felt uncomfortable with anything charismatic. .. Zak has never liked people going out on their own without his permission or blessing. Like if someone decided that they wanted to go down to a homeless shelter with a couple people and volunteer. If Zak heard about it, he would pull in whoever organized it and chide them for being prideful or some bs. (101 emphasis mine)

Zac’s disquiet was easy to understand. Seeing others seeking and finding God apart from his own influence undercut his egocentric authority and for a narcissist in charge of a following, this situation was disquieting and unacceptable. So ultimately, in July 2013, this wave of unauthorized and unscheduled spiritual ardor was finally addressed by an email by Zac after the ongoing participatory worship and praise intensified that spring:


As leaders in the Body of Christ, we have a responsibility for the men and women that God has put into our care. I know that it is difficult to investigate the things presented in this email, but please understand that we must test the spirits, prophets, prophecies, teachers and apostles as we are commanded in the Scripture, and equip disciples of Jesus to do the same. 

For many of us, it may make us afraid that we are "judging" or being critical, and that all ministers and ministries of flaws. It is true, no one is perfect and we cannot reject fellow believers because they are flawed or we would have no friends or unity in Christ whatsoever. However, the premise of this email is that New Age occult practices have now entered the Church (under different, more Christian names). This mixture goes far beyond flaws and immaturity.

Yes this may mean that some of the biggest names in the Charismatic movement right now are implicated in this. And some of us may have affinity, history or even relationships with people involved. For that reason, I want to say that this is not being written to make people the enemy. While there are false prophets and teachers, there is also deception. The demonic forces behind these things are our enemy, not the people. (102) 

While Zac was as vague as ever on just who and what “occult practices” he supposedly had concern over, the oral tradition of Gladstone quickly spread the evil tidings he was referring to. Zac and the elders made clear that apart from his direct mediation and authorization, any other spiritual practice was questionable. Their verdict was that outside Gladstone’s bubble, many demonstrative manifestations of Charismatic worship and practice could actually be inspired by a pagan demonism that was infiltrating the church.  He identified it as originating from the “New Age” movement in the email and among themselves, as the buzz spread on the Gladstone street, the power of a so-called “Kundalini spirit” empowered by Hindu occultism was the form it had taken. 

Such compromise couldn’t be allowed in Gladstone, of course, and Zac and the elders were going to do what they could to ensure that no one would infect their safe space within the Community. All spiritual ministry that had been previously and freely participatory which Zac and the elder couldn’t directly oversee had to be closely watched and even defended against. There would be no longer small private groups of prayer or sharing, no freedom or spontaneity in spiritual gift exercise that they didn’t directly sign off on. A new era of spiritual surveillance had begun that quenched the flickering flames of spiritual ardor and helped to extinguish any efforts by anyone to seek God in any way apart from Zac’s approved “prophetic” expression. 


The cunning of Zac’s defensive ploy to arrest this move of the Spirit of God among them was as slick as it was surreal.  A deeper look into how he arrayed his opposition and showed his hand in it all is now required.

Zac’s warning of “New Age occult practices” as being the true inspiration of the Charismatic liturgy was supposedly a caution against involvement in spiritual exercises of the antichristian paganism of the movement. He was also well aware of the long standing controversy in the Christian church over the encroachment of New Age influence and specifically how certain influential Charismatic figures had enthusiastically as well as stupidly decided they could sanctify New Age practices for “spiritual growth”.  That same year, 2013, the contention over this in Evangelical Christendom had peaked with the inanity of the Bethel Church’s bold promotion of this, as sanctioned by the megachurch’s pastoral staff led by Bill Johnson in a new book and meetings (103)  Zac seized upon this grotesque compromise as part of his case for the need for their new control and hence the heavy handed email requiring it.

Basing itself both philosophically and metaphysically upon an esoteric Eastern worldview, the New Age Movement poses a significant challenge to orthodox Christian thought and practice as well as current contemporary social institutions. The worldview and practice of the New Age drew upon many schools of global pagan and occultic thought but the specific form Zac railed against were those Indian Hindu traditions which involved spirituality involving  “kundalini.” The word describes a practice, not a demonic spirit’s “identity” (how do you search for an ID card of a demon, anyway?), although the arousal of inner spiritual power within a devotee by a guru who invokes a Hindu goddess called Shakti is undeniably a practice of Hindu spiritism. 

This is rightly viewed in a Christian worldview as the practice of demonic agency and rightly of grave concern to any Christian believer to resist any influence of “deceiving spirits and doctrines of devils.” We’ve cited the apostolic warning on this before, but it should be emphasized again:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

In a relevant aside, we must note that the apostle Paul prophetically points out that in the last days, it is the deception of
demonic influence that upholds an unholy rejection of the institution of marriage and marital relations. One wonders after reading these verses just what manner of “spirit” was inspiring and instructing Zac and the Gladstone elders during the “marriage idol” controversy to forsake courtship and marriage, things that “God created to be received with thanksgiving.” Who were they listening to?

But we digress. These and other demonic teachings have bound the East for thousands of years where the light of Christ’s Gospel truth has been not heard or redefined there. The word “kundalini” is a description of the discipline which Hindu spirituality engages in to release this potent spiritual influence within devotees. At the center of it is the invocation of a “shaktipat” between a Hindu guru and his disciples (the word literally means “energy flow”). This experience is a powerful spiritual initiation which  Ewelina Berdowicz, a Polish religious researcher, explains:

The awakening manifests itself in dancing, falling to the ground, turning of the body, shouting, laughing loudly, getting hiccups or twisting hands as well as legs (Kumar and Kumar Larsen, 2009:65). Moreover, crying and falling asleep have also been reported. Upon awakening, Kundalini Shakti commences her spiritual journey. Piercing particular chakras results in triggering automatic body movements known as kriyas. It is impossible for the initiate to control them and therefore the presence of the Guru appears to be advisable. Kumar and Kumar Larsen (2009: 19) emphasized that these manifestations are not permanent and what is more, they are dependent on the initiate’s karmic history. In other words, kriyas are more intense if there is more karma to work on in the initiate. (104)  


This human response to demonic spiritual influence of Hindu origin is a spiritual counterfeit (or echo, depending on one’s point of view) of the practices of Christian Charismatic worship based upon their own human responses. This faculty for experiential spirituality is common to all humanity, regardless what secular perspectives on human nature might otherwise assume. Out of a completely different environment and spiritual topography, the Charismatic movement makes room for and encourages such things as the laying on of hands, leaping and shouted worship including jumping and dancing as well as speaking in other languages, ecstatic trances and being “slain in the Spirit” (when someone falls prostrate during prayer or worship spontaneously).

It is a movement full of people whose own devotional responses in this regard are strikingly similar to the Hindu devotee experiencing the “kriyas” of initiation. Why this is so would require a far more detailed discussion beyond the scope of this expose  but it’s understandable why anyone viewing the Hindu dancing in his kriya trance could presume that the Christian dancing “in the Spirit” as somehow related and connected. We can only offer a brief answer here as to this striking similarity which is based upon a lifetime of observation of human nature from a Pentecostal Christian perspective (105). 

What is relevant to our discussion here is that Zac and the elders chose to view Charismatic practice they did not initiate as a Satanic leaven in a gambit of “discernment” meant to reinforce their authority a hundredfold and to obliterate the last foothold of communal Christian freedom there. The Charismatic movement was now guilty, they asserted, by a superficial association with Hindu yogic practice, which is a ubiquitous presence in New Age activity world wide. Therefore, all Charismatic practice not Zac-approved was to be viewed as a suspect source of possibly occultic influence. With these privately and orally delivered brakes, the flight of the victims of Zac’s cultism were brought down to earth with a hard ground stoppage.  The ardent search for the Lord quietly went underground among them, or only as led by an elder or coordinator under Zac’s watchful visage.

Yet another long, slow turn of yet another corner in the mountain biking of Gladstone’s twisted path commenced.


Everyone interviewed about this agreed that from that point onward, the micromanaging conditions of Zac-anointed control escalated even further and the harsh dictates and rule became more critical and cutting. Gladstone’s membership felt the stringent orchestration quite heavily . The hardening of attitudes did not fail to materialize even greater efforts by Gladstone leadership to indulge their mandate of “watching over the flock” with more severity. People already could be stopped and rebuked for any slight in Gladstone but the occurrences  definitely became more pronounced. This incremental escalation of Gladstone’s religious abuses had already been quite tragically remarkable, but with this new obsessive dogmatism over imagined “Kundalini” demonism that Zac and the elders created, things became ever more oppressive.

The tidings of this new coercion were beheld by the MCC during their joint services that year as the participation of Gladstone became distant and restrained. This became yet another unspoken shift in their partnership which could only have been unnerving to them. And even as they continued onward with their Thursday night fellowships and continued to seek God in the praise and worship conducted under watchful eyes, no one seemed to realize that still another page in the spiritual life of Gladstone had already been definitely turned.

For years, too many churches, parents and families had suffered greatly the loss of their connections to loved ones, friends and family who’d been enchanted by the Gladstone siren song. Around the region, there was a great amount of private and anonymously personal pain in the remembrances circulating around many church circles of Gladstone’s impact upon so many. The bitter fruit of broken relationships, of parents who couldn’t see their children, of missed birthdays and of blossoming young lives stolen away to the secret gardens of Gladstone to be milked dry of their potential serving Zac’s empire building was evident for those who chose to see it.

MCC’s muted distance from these silent and invisible controversies could only stretch so far. These tidings were what precipitated the start of a drawback from Gladstone by the MCC leadership. With all of the close association both congregations had with one another, it proved impossible to sanitize Gladstone’s new and intolerant clamp down on the “Kundalini spirit” they spuriously discerned before them. The MCC leadership’s witness to Gladstone’s withering rejection of their own Charismatic distinctives long established among their congregation just proved to be too much. 

On Jun 10, 2014, after over two years of interaction, Pastor Beausejour and Zac announced from the MCC pulpit that they would be calling an end to their year long joint Sunday service celebrations. Both looked ahead to new beginnings for each church and bade a godspeed to each other with an upbeat and cheery manner that belied all of the massive amount of tension that had built between one another. They made their intentions clear with a feigned sadness that was supposed to be a wistful expression of affection for each other and regret that their efforts wouldn’t continue. Perhaps that really was on Pastor Dennis’ heart and mind that Sunday morning but we’re rather skeptical that this bothered Zac too terribly much.

It was a brilliant bit of damage control that Pastor Dennis, a former corporate executive,  managed here and his conscience certainly was eased when it was announced that Gladstone would continue to use the old chapel for their Thursday and Sunday services and that Zac’s presence in the Mariemont pulpit would periodically continue. Beausejour could claim he was providing pastoral oversight without any harsh severity and he could keep Zac in his corner, tapping his energy as needed. Zac maintained a facility foothold and public visibility in Cincinnati that betrayed none of the trouble he’d helped create there. Once again his parasitical appetite was satisfied once it was determined he still had access to a willing host.

It was - as they say - a win-win settlement between both churches.  We suspect that the Kingdom of God had little to do with any of it but pragmatism has always been the American way. If it works, you overdo it. And both movements had a lot to lose by a complete split, so the hearts and flowers throbbing in the church that day elevated the spirits there.

While the close association of both churches continued, Gladstone
continued to enjoy access to the MCC’s old chapel for them to continue conducting their own Thursday night services there. Zac and his community’s authoritarianism could no longer be dismissed as easily as it could in 2009 by Beausejour and others. The first notes of the music they had long avoiding facing were finally sounding clearly among them. 

This brassy tune included Pastor Dennis’ own silence about the struggle of his own son Michael after he became involved with Gladstone in 2009 for nine months. Michael immediately became a target of the community’s love-bombing and other manipulative attempts to recruit him. He had left, disillusioned by the abuse he had seen up close and personally, as well as struggling with the religious bullying and domination of Zak Kijinski, whom he called “the most manipulating person I've ever met.“(106).


(66) Samantha Hall, interview 2022

(67) Williams, ibid

(68) We are in the process of creating transcripts of these interviews and hope to have them posted soon on our ministry website and blog. You may hear some of them on our podcast “Where Are We Going” you can peruse by clicking here. Comments by a variety of anonymous posters on Internet forums like Reddit and Facebook preserve verbal snapshots of the rising horrors presented by people who didn’t set forth to join a cult, but to fellowship in a “church.”

(69) Click the Reddit link above to read this.

(70) Anonymous ex-member 2


(72) A careful perusal of the online public documents that provide details of the property holdings that Gladstone has on file as LLC “community property” shows that many of the houses have ownership enjoyed solely by the elders.

(73) Anonymous ex-member 3

(74) “House Leadership”, Community document 2017, unpaginated

(75) Every single female ex-member we spoke with alluded to Stolarski’s increasingly shrill manner that would peak in her bouts of liverish vindictiveness while bossing other women around.


(77) Zac was peculiarly gifted with an ability to compel people to come under his leading from his earliest youthful days as we've seen. His affectively potent persuasion is the basis for what control of the thinking of others is based upon, a control of thought to control behavior. This is what is known as cultic mind control, the chilling state of socially engineered reality that cult members, to a person, are influenced by. Within the group's domination of a member is a process that freezes whatever critical thought they might have had and indoctrinates them with a new mindset by the usage of outright manipulation which results in the creation of a cultic identity within them. The cult can efficiently control their behavior by controlling their thinking in a variety of ways. You can read more about cultic mind control through our articles by clicking here.

(78) Anonymous ex-member 4

(79) "Religion And Sexuality" Lawrence Foster (University of Illinois, 1984), p. 246.

"The prophet founders of these groups were individuals who struggled intensely to understand themselves and the troubled world around them. Instead of withdrawing into psychosis or attempting to confront complex social problems directly, they developed a different strategy. They conceived of a new way of looking at the world which they felt compelled to share with others and eventually they attracted a following of individuals who had also been at loose ends emotionally. Working together, prophet and followers internalized a new set of values and then went on to create a functioning communal order based on those values."

(80) Anonymous ex-member group discussion



(83) Pawson, ibid



(86) “1 Corinthians 7”, Community document, n.d., pp 13-14

(87) Kijinski ibid, pp 15-16


(89) "Divorce And Remarriage", Community document, pp 3-4

(90) Anonymous ex-member 3

(91) Christine Hilton, interview 2022

(92) Jody Liske, interview 2022

(93) Eric Kraus, interview 2022

(94) Kraus, ibid

(95) Liske, ibid

(96) Anonymous ex-member 4

(97) Anonymous ex-member group discussion



(100) While this kind of snappy simile sounds like the product of an ad-print meme (consider Pastor Beausejour’s background in mass media marketing to move a product line) that is supposed to be thought provoking and edgy, it’s a particularly tone deaf slogan given the cultic mind control MCC’s activity uncritically subsidized and to this day, has yet to ever recant, correct or take any responsibility for. We’re hoping the good pastor enjoys his present day retirement from ministry and enjoys a reading of this expose over his morning coffee.

(101) Jeremiah Zoltani, interview 2022

(102) Email of Zachary Kijinski dated July 21, 2013

(103) The Bethel megachurch movement, yet another controversial NAR movement in Christendom, has shied from being a lightning rod for enthusiastic embracing of the questionable and unbiblical in its continual efforts to supposedly facilitate new kinds of “next level” ministry. For more information, check out Matt Slick’s excellent summary of the plainly pagan leanings of Bethel pastor Bill Johnson and the Bethel leadership details

It’s always a good day for a heretic when he is able to hide his own falsehood behind the smoke and mirrors of another heretic’s lies. Zac’s cunning here was a diabolically brilliant stroke of deviant genius.

(104)  Berdowicz, whose Roman Catholic perspective sought to be objective in the assessment of the two diametrically opposed faith traditions of Charismatic Christianity and Hinduism, further adds: “In conclusion, it can be assumed that the biblical Holy Spirit and the spirit manifesting itself during Christian charismatic meetings, are two different spirits. Furthermore, the spirit visiting the healing ministries bears striking resemblance to Kundalini Shakti, especially when its manifestations are taken into consideration. According to the Scripture: „[…] the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5: 22-23).

(105) In beholding the Hindu , New Ager or Charismatic Christian exhibiting a physical display of ecstatic behavior, it must be remembered that both are similar for the following reasons.

There’s undeniable agency of supernatural influence active here, whether inspired of the Holy Spirit as found, we hold, in Charismatic Christian circles or that of demonic spirits that indwell the passive paganism of Hindu culture. The profound impact of spiritual ecstasy is played out in these human instruments in the same manner, using their personal diversity and human individuality which has been wilfully submitted to the impulses of other intelligences beyond their own. One may be quite reactively emotional and demonstrative and another passive or trance like, with utterances of declaration that can be intelligible or not.

And these radically opposed metaphysical inclinations animating them help these spiritual influences play their own tunes as defined by their spiritual leaders. They expect those upon whom the power of the divine to be so borne along and each of those so impacted will respond in only the way their personal nature of encounter will manifest. The often wide ranging emotional reactions are expressions of the individuals being quite literally overshadowed by these entities and the manner of them manifests in observable human behavior.

(106) Email from Michael Beausejour dated January 23, 2023

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