Updated: 3 May 2010
For John at age 8
There once was a fine boy named John
Whose dad was unfortunately gone
But when push came to shove
Dad came back in God’s love
and tried mightily righting the wrong.
8 Jun 92
A. RCM REMARKS FOR ENK'S 6/4/92 DISCIPLINARY COUNCIL
I. Me and my connection with ENK
a. Member all my life
b. University professor, business management, at
, Northridge California State University
c. Known ENK and have been in continual contact for 34 years, living much of that time in the same 4 cities
d. Know him not only as a friend, but also professionally, musically, in Church
II. A little about my experience/assessment of him:
a. I know him well, I value our friendship and association on its many dimensions
b. I respect him, I trust him, good values, high integrity
c. Talented, creative, unique
d. Intense, direct - cares deeply about people, relationships, principles, ideas
e. Spiritual matters, his relationship with Heavenly Father and the Church are central and vitally important in his life - he has a strong emotional bond with the Church
III. (Transition) I now want to speak more directly about the matter before you - to make a very important decision about the Church membership of brother Kovalenko. I do have empathy for the responsibility you bear this evening, having been in your place a number of times as a member of several bishoprics and High Councils. I also have confidence that each of you will carry out your responsibilities this evening in a spirit of prayer and love, especially President Bryce, who bears a special responsibility as the central decision-maker. I don't know the factors that led to calling this meeting, other than that they involve concern about the possible "apostasy" of brother K. This makes it hard to know what comments would be most relevant for your deliberations, but let me try.
In my experience in the Church, we only hold a disciplinary council re apostasy only for one of three reasons: (a) the individual has formed or affiliated with an "apostate cult," especially one with practices contrary to Church teachings; or (b) the individual has forcefully requested excommunication; or (c) the individual's actions have harmed or threaten to harm the spiritual well-being of members of the Church.
Clearly we are not met for either of the first two reasons. Regarding the first: Bro K has not formed or affiliated with an apostate cult; I believe he has not the remotest interest in this. Regarding the second: he has not requested to be excommunicated. Indeed, the Gospel and the Church are central and important in his life.
IV. I must assume we are here because President Bryce concluded that Brother K may be a threat to the spiritual well-being of members of the Church here. Since Brother K will be moving to
in about a week, the question before you is, more accurately: does he represent a threat, a sufficiently serious threat, to the spiritual well-being of members of the Church in his new area to lead you to take action relative to his Church membership? New Mexico
I believe with all my heart and mind that the answer to that question is no - and I hope you will reach that same conclusion tonight. Some of the reasons for my conclusion are:
1. You may ask, and should ask: is he trying to or does he want to create his own church, or cult, or following within the Church? I believe the answer is a definite NO. Not once during numerous interactions we have had during the last 34 years have I heard a single hint of such an interest.
2. You may ask: has he attempted or does he want to weaken the faith or discourage the Church affiliation of other members? NO. ...cite consideration for others, strong believer in free agency, integrity,...
3. Is he, at times, unconventional, intense, direct, challenging - even difficult in dealing with principles and ideas related to the Gospel and the Church (areas about which he cares deeply)?
YES. Is it worth the effort to relate to him anyway? YES AGAIN. I've found this to be true for me during 34 years. I believe it is still true for the Church.
Let me suggest a somewhat different version of the question before you tonight (and I ask you, ENK, to consider the same question):
Is there not a way in which the Church and ENK can continue a relationship together, in which each party to the relationship respects, values, and loves the other
- a relationship in which neither party must blame or impose its will on the other,
- a relationship in which neither is expected to compromise or be untrue to their sense of integrity,
- a relationship in which there is room for the uniqueness of an individual such as brother K., with healthy, constructive engagement and heart-felt involvement?
I believe the answer to this question is YES. I believe there is room inside the Church, within the brotherhood of the Priesthood, for a unique individual such as Brother K. - not just to be tolerated, but as a contributor to the increasingly diverse, worldwide Church. Can you envision at least a possibility that the Church could make use of and receive a contribution from his uniqueness - or at the very least allow this range of diversity and him, in love? Or, on the other hand, must you cast him out (or place him in a probationary position that produces the same effect), with enormous consequences for his life and salvation?
The Gospel and Church I have come to know and respect has the strength, conviction, resilience, and inspiration to do this - to draw the circle of inclusion creatively wide enough to encompass both him and the Church. As you deliberate this night, I ask that you make use of a simple, wonderful reminder used by many of the children I have been privileged to work with over the years: that you ask yourselves, "what would Jesus do?"
B. IMPRESSIONS OF THE 6/4/92 DISCIPLINARY COUNCIL
* Written Friday 6/5 before reading my notes from last night.
o I feel tired: partly from getting home from it about 2 a.m., up to 3:30, than awakening at 7 a.m. to drive to UCLA, also partly from feeling as though I had been subjected to an ordeal, even a little like running the "gauntlope," as ENK had expressed last night.
1. The almost totally exclusive focus of the DC (Disciplinary Council) was on an intense, very detailed and exhaustive interrogation of ENK - about events over the last 27 years.
2. Pres. Bryce was the central player and asked at least 90% of the questions. The only other person to ask multiple questions was his 1st counselor (older of the two, sitting on Bryce's right), who obviously had been briefed/prepared by Bryce. The other counselor said nothing and only 4 of the 12 HC members said anything (as I recall one asked two questions, two asked a single question, and the 4th read a scripture to ENK).
3. Pres. Bryce was well-prepared, had done extensive interviewing of people in ENK's past life, had marked up his documents, kept an extremely tight control on the entire process and every detail that evening.
4. The DC seemed to be oriented solely to meet the investigatory needs of Pres. Bryce (the Church), rather than joint needs of the Church and ENK
5. It seemed much like a professional police process, done skillfully - e.g., do extensive investigation; bring in the suspect into a tightly controlled situation in which he is at a numerical/logistical/emotional disadvantage; give a minimal description of the charges; interrogate the witness in great detail, going over the same material in several ways, gradually inferring by your questions that you have inside/intimate information from many sources that the suspect did not anticipate; do not go into detail about your sources and do not show any documentation; continue the interrogation long/late enough to produce fatigue and possibly mistakes from the suspect; assume that the suspect is not telling the truth and ask questions designed to demonstrate discrepancies between what the suspect tells you then and past actions (writings); alternate, as convenient, between extremely literal interpretation of the suspect's writings and stretched inferences from the writings - in each case, asking the suspect to justify your interpretation; profess to be interested in the well-being of the suspect; conceal any reactions to what the suspect says (minimize verbal or nonverbal clues to the suspect); do not give the suspect any information before, during, or after the session re the process or what happens next.
6. I believe that Pres. Bryce had already made his decision that ENK was guilty of apostasy before the meeting, although he probably had not decided what disciplinary action would be appropriate. His questions seemed designed to support/demonstrate that conclusion to those watching and to demonstrate this guilt to ENK and to convince him to admit how wrong he had been. The questions seemed to assume ENK was/would not tell the truth, so Pres. Bryce needed to show how his written statements unmask the "true ENK." This may be his concept of the purpose of a DC (in contrast to exploring and inquiring into the matter to determine if the accused is "guilty" or not).
7. The questions produced a distorted, one-dimensional picture of ENK. I do not believe any of the 15 (+ clerk) came to know or understand the human being, his intentions, his values - nor were any of the questions effective in inquiring about this. Not a single question from the group was designed to elicit a possibly alternate explanation for an action under question or to illuminate other, favorable aspects of ENK. The singular exception was the question I managed to ask of ENK after lengthy questions about his
Sunstonepaper and inferences that he was trying to encourage dissension and convert others to his views, when I asked the redirect question: in writing and presenting this paper, were you trying to influence the thinking or positions of others? His answer (roughly: no, I was merely trying to get clear on what I believe and where I am - I'm not interested in convincing others of anything or changing someone else's position) provided a very different intention than portrayed by the hour or so of questions that preceded this. (Note: my 2nd attempt to ask a clarifying question of ENK was blocked by the President, who said I must remain silent for the rest of the proceeding.)
8. Throughout the entire process, spanning nearly six hours, ENK remained in control and non-confrontive.
9. I suspect that Pres. Bryce completely believes that everything he has done in this process is right, correct, necessary, ethical, even caring - that he is only carrying out his responsibility as Stake President.
C. FIELD NOTES TAKEN AT ENK'S DISCIPLINARY COUNCIL, 6/4/92
Held in Ventura Stake High Council room. All 12 members of HC were there, plus 3 in Stake Presidency, plus a man taking notes (probably the Stake Clerk). Another individual, Stake Ex. Sect., I believe (designated ES), was stationed outside the door. President Richard S. Bryce ran the meeting.
We arrived at 7:15 p.m., the appointed time. There were 14 people, in addition to ENK, there on his behalf. We were met by the ES in the foyer, and signed names, organization, ward on a form. After about 5-10 minutes, the door opened and ENK was asked to come in. He asked to have the 14 come in, but this was denied. He asked if they would be allowed to speak, and, I believe, got a non-definite answer along the lines that the President would decide later if he needed to hear from them.
About 10 minutes later, I was invited to come in. I learned from ENK later that the proceedings thus far had been: (a) Pres. Bryce gave a brief intro that this was not a court and that court type procedures did not apply, then (b) read the charges (a very brief statement) and asked him how he pleaded (he said not guilty), then (c) B. started asking ENK detailed questions. ENK quickly became uncomfortable, felt this was very threatening, and asked to have someone there with him. B. agreed without dispute.
I came in. The room was comfortably large enough for all, without the usual large table in the center - with the Presidency sitting behind a table on one side to the left of the entry door, a clerk taking notes at a smaller table to their left, six HC members in chairs on each side of the table side, extending around the room to each side of the two chairs where ENK and I sat. The center of the room was open. Each member of the Presidency introduced himself to me and shook my hand, with friendly affect. B. explained that I was there to be a support for ENK, at his request - but that I was not there to participate or to act as counsel - that I might have a chance to make a statement later (I received a clear message that I was to "stay out of the way"). Following are the notes I took as the meeting continued, starting c. 7:35 p.m..
ENK handed to me three packets of notes and said, These are the materials they are using. I skimmed them briefly, as Pres. Bryce (B, hereafter for convenience) resumed his questioning.
B: Do you believe the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired?
ENK: Yes, most definitely, it is very important in my life... especially 3N, especially 3N22, which has affected me in a way that no other scripture has (goes on at length re this).
B: Do you believe and sustain Joseph Smith as a prophet?
B: Do you sustain Ezra Taft Benson as the present prophet?
ENK: I sustain him in the office, but am concerned about some things, about intimidation.
*B: What do you mean, what intimidation has he done?
ENK: Well, I'm not sure that it comes from him, but there are forces of intimidation in the Church... I don't feel that I can, in good conscience, raise my hand to sustain in light of these.
B: How many years have you felt this way - uncomfortable about raising your hand to sustain?
ENK: About 3-4 years...
B: Why are you concerned about people who raise their hands and don't really believe/mean it?
ENK: I am very concerned that we maintain the integrity of the process, that we not just have meaningless raising of hands. There are many who would not feel they could not raise their hands.
B: Are you aware of any reason to not sustain the authorities for any reason other than personal knowledge of their unworthiness to hold the office?
ENK: If I don't feel good about doing it, then I should not raise my hand - that's what I understand the sustaining process to be.
*B: What is your source for that doctrine; have you something written that says that? Where did you get that idea?
ENK: Well, I don't know - I have been in the Church all my life - I have always understood it to be that way.
(* There were a couple of additional rounds of the same last question and answer.)
B: Does it make you feel good to raise your hand to not sustain the authorities?
B: What do you know about Pres. Benson that causes you to not sustain him?
*ENK: I know, because of my personal relationship with the Lord, that...
B: You've received revelation in that regard?
B: We talked about an earlier revelation you received... Were you a member of the Church at that time?
ENK: I was not a member of the Church when I had a dream.
B: Will you tell us about the dream?
RCM: President, may I ask a procedural question?
B: (obviously displeased) Well, I guess so.
RCM: I'm wondering if Brother K. might have a chance to make a statement. I know he has prepared a statement about where he is and his thinking. I'm wondering if he might be able to make this. The reason I'm asking is I'm concerned - one of the wonderful things I like about Gene is that he is so open and honest, honest to a fault - As you ask questions, he won't hold back anything. I'm concerned that the answers to these questions, without a context, may suggest a distorted picture of him and how he feels.
B: I assure you that we're only here in Brother K's interest. He will have a chance to make his statement later. And I'll give you a chance to make a statement also. Now go on and tell us about your revelation (dream)?
ENK: I had a dream in which I was encountered by family and friends. I told them that the Lord wanted a reorganization of the Church from the top downward...
B: You have received revelation about the direction your life should take?
ENK: I have no feeling about what I am to do.
B: Was there anything with respect to the Church?
ENK: I had an experience July 17, 1965 - that was the central experience of my life. It gets stronger as time goes on, rather than less strong. I would die rather than deny this experience... (relates The Experience in great detail, starting with context with friend in
N. Calin trouble, possible suicide threat, asking friends to fast, driving north, ...feelings. Then voice saying, "you will one day be the prophet." Hey, what is this, I don't want this, maybe I'm misunderstanding this... You need to speak to me in a different way (ENK is very emotional by now, with tears - others are not seeming to respond positively). Then I was in a state of ecstacy, like anything was possible, happy, even silly with giggles (continued with the story on the mountain in great detail)...
I called my friends to break their fast. The only who had already broken it was the bishop who later took out charges against me within a year. He also was excommunicated later on the same charges he brought against me.
B: When were you divorced.
ENK: 1966, final in 1967.
B: Have you received further revelations?
ENK: Many... I see this as a rite of passage...
B: Have you received revelation telling you that you are to be the prophet (of the Church)?
ENK: I thought that at first. Now I understand that to mean, not a job, but merely a role. ...we all can be prophets to our families, ourselves. I think we all have the challenge to be prophets (in this sense). ...The dream was much later.
B: Have you received direction that you are to reorganize the Church or bring about a reorganization?
ENK: No. (pause) I want to answer completely. At that time I was greatly troubled about the status of the black in the Church. On Saturday 7/24/65 I prayed re this. I felt prompted to turn to the Bible, the inspired version by Joseph Smith. I opened it at random and turned to Isaiah 55 (which is the same as Isaiah 1, as you know). Suddenly, it opened to me, as though in a vision. I had always found Isaiah very difficult to understand. Then, it was as child's play, as though it were something I could write. I went through it, making notes about the meanings... About 3 a.m. I awoke. My wife and I were not sleeping in the same room in those days, because I was doing weird things, getting up and writing, etc., so we slept in different rooms so I would not disturb her. I sat at my desk and started to write. The first words were, "Thus saith the Lord..." I was really shook up, but felt that this was something I shouldn't mess with, so I finished writing a page or so. It was a revelation concerning the negro. The next morning (Sunday), I put this in an envelope. This was the only copy; I didn't make a copy. I went to Priesthood Meeting. We had a new bishop, about my age, 32 yrs, in only a week. I gave it to min and said, I think you need to receive this. If it's true someone needs to have it. If it's not true, I need to know about it. He was friendly, assured me that all would be fine. That afternoon (after reading it), his attitude had changed completely (less friendly)...
I decided, I'll take it out of your hands, so I brought out charges against myself. I wasn't serious, it wasn't even very smart, but this was a way of bringing attention to the matter... Nothing happened... In August I had an encounter with the Stake President re the paper... Later I got it back...
B: What were the charges (for your excommunication)?
ENK: Apostasy and adultery. The trial was held with me in absentia, even though I wanted to attend. I was out of the state... Later, I requested a rehearing, which eventually was held in 9/68. By this time, I was in my second marriage and all the legal things (that were not in order at the time of the first hearing) were in order. They heard all the evidence and said, this guy shouldn't be out of the Church. They invited me to return. I declined. I said, I feel it has been my responsibility to survive, to survive to bring this document (the black vision) to the Church. I feel responsible for this document. My job is to get it here. I gave it to them. I have no idea what happened to it...
B: Who was your Stake President then? (he asked this question and took notes essentially every time that ENK mentioned an interaction with a Church official.
ENK: (talked about being in the forest, then, literally and figuratively, coming out at request of Pres. of Lewis & Clark College to join his faculty... later went to Russia representing Governor of Oregon and others...)
About 1972 I began to have promptings to return to the Church. (Described talk with his daughter, Kathy, who asked if he would come and sing in her ward... she arranged an invitation and he showed up 5/21/72 - was same ward from which the excommunication occurred). I sang a negro spiritual... Afterward I had a nagging feeling to look at the history books. Did so, looked up Joseph Smith's birth and death date... then added his exact age at death to my birth date, 11/17/33, and what came out was that date (5/21/92). This boggled my mind...
I thought about reapplying for baptism, checked out with bishop (?) by asking him, if Pres. Kimball told you to shoot me, what would you do? 'I'd shoot you.' I knew it wasn't time.
Later, asked (a different bishop) the same question. 'I wouldn't do it. It wouldn't be right and, besides, he wouldn't tell me to do this.' I knew it was time and reapplied for baptism...
B: Were you married at the time?
ENK: Yes, to my second wife. No, we were separated by then...
B: Were you living with someone at that time?
B: You weren't living with another woman?
B: Where were you living?
ENK: In the blue... a tiny place in
.... Toluca Lake
B: Let's turn to the Values Crisis paper. We talked twice, as I recall. In the long session, the 3.5 hour time, I warned you about public expressions of displeasure with the Church leaders, do you recall that?...
B: I said I didn't intend to use the paper against you unless you continue public statements...
ENK: I was not threatenable.
* (a couple rounds, as I recall)
ENK: Do you recall your last statement to me at the end of that meeting?
B: I might if you remind me. I don't right now.
ENK: Do you recall a statement about what you, people in your profession, do with people like me?
B: I don't recall anything.
ENK: You said, 'we shoot people like you.'
B: Well, Brother K., this was meant as a joke.
ENK: I didn't regard it as a joke. (a couple of rounds)
B: I wasn't armed and I'm not armed now. I certainly didn't mean it literally... And I don't think you did either, as I recall you laughed and left in good spirits.
ENK: I did not take it as a threat at the time, but later I thought about it.
B: Brother K., I tried to convince you of the erroneousness of your beliefs. This probably wasn't the best choice of words, but I certainly didn't mean any threat. I feel a bit offended that you brought it up.
ENK: I didn't try to quote you, but you asked me to remind you of what it was.
B: Well, if I gave any offense, I am sincerely sorry. But I'm sure you understood that it was a joke....
B: (Values Paper, draft as of 2/24/90, p.3 par 4: "...I wondered if I could integrate and communicate what I have learned to value from my upbringing with what I have learned from my own experience.")
ENK: I was trying to clarify what had meaning for me... (went back and forth at some length, with B.'s questions from the framework of what ENK was trying to convince others of)
RCM: President, may I ask Gene a question?
B: (hesitates, frowns) OK
RCM: Gene, when you were preparing this paper and delivering it, was it your intent or desire to influence the thinking or position of others?
ENK: No. I was merely trying to get clear about what was important to me, to get myself in clearer focus. I didn't want to convince anyone of anything.
RCM: So, you had no desire to convince anyone else of anything; your entire purpose in this paper and its presentation was to clarify your own thinking?
B: (Values Paper, p.6 par 3: "Jesus... was never exclusive and never excommunicated anybody - not even Satan. Exclusiveness is the earmark of pseudo community.") Where did you get this idea re Satan; what Church doctrine teaches this?
ENK: Consider Christ's experience with Satan on the high mountain, when Satan tempted him. Jesus merely said, get thee behind me Satan, get in your proper place. He didn't cast him out.
B: (Values Paper, p.8 par 5: "...It may mean a change in leaders that maintain or promote lesser values or administer outmoded beliefs. We are freer than we think. We are freer than we think to express our views on anything that troubles us or inspires us. To fail to act or to take initiative is to allow ourselves to be inhibited and intimidated by fear.") How do you reconcile this with your statement to us that you made no attempt to get others to subscribe to your views?
ENK: If there is, there is one point that I do advocate: I'm trying to get all to be clear re what they believe and express themselves about that. However, I'm not interested in telling anyone what they should believe and express.
B: (Values Paper, Q&A period, p.10, 2nd st: "...My question is: how many of you - of us: me, you - raise your hand to sustain leaders that you don't feel comfortable with? Now if you do that, you've violated your conscience, and you've violated your central self. My position is we can change our leaders. We deserve the leaders we have. If they are old, decrepit, and carrying on with stuff that's a hundred years old, that's our fault. We don't have to buy that stuff. We can raise our hand in opposition if we don't feel comfortable. But we don't have the guts.") I believe that is false doctrine. What is the basis for this doctrine?
ENK: As I mentioned earlier, that is my understanding of the sustaining process. Why else do we have the process?...
B: Are you aware of any teaching in the Church that you have any other legitimate reason for not sustaining other than personal knowledge of a person's unworthiness to hold that office?
ENK: I've always understood that you sustain or don't as you feel is right.
B: Do you believe people are called to positions in the Church by inspiration of the Spirit?
ENK: I hope it's by the Spirit. I think it's a mixed bag: sometimes by the Spirit and sometimes by desperation. Sometimes I think we're not in tune with the Spirit.
B: Most of the time?
ENK: Not most of the time.
B: Do you believe the General Authorities are called by inspiration?
B: Then how do you square that with not sustaining them?
ENK: I've always understood that you sustain or don't as you feel is right.
B: Do you have any information that makes Pres. Benson unworthy to hold his position?
ENK: No, other than old age and not being in touch with a lot of things. ...let me ask you this: when was the last time a President of the Church was anyone other than the ranking member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles?
B: It is Church doctrine that the senior member of the Quorum becomes the President
ENK: I think it is Church policy.
B: It is Church doctrine.
B: How would you change the process of choosing the President or General Authorities?
ENK: Well, I haven't given that much thought. It's not up to me. One thing - I'd ask if the Quorum is in touch with their dreams...
* (There were several rounds of question/answer - my notes have only ENK's responses)
ENK: My thoughts are not related to running the Church...
ENK: I'm not interested in telling anyone else what to do.
ENK: When I see people in pain, I get concerned.
B: How do you know there are members of the Church in pain?
ENK: I know there are many, from their comments in private...
B: (3-4 more versions of the question, how should we choose the Church leaders?)
ENK: (each time, roughly the response: I can't tell you that; it's not my place to decide that.
RCM: President, may I ask brother K. a question?
B: No, I'm not going to allow that. If I did, we would be here all night... (then spent at least 2 minutes repeating why he was not going to allow that, and that I would have a chance to make a statement later).
[*Note: my previous two times to ask a question could not have taken more than a total of 2-3 minutes, including the answers from B and ENK; B. had been questioning ENK for about 1-3/4 hours by now]
B: Do you feel you are more in touch with the Spirit than the Quorum of Apostles and First Presidency?
ENK: I can't really say. I have no reason to think so.
B: (Values Q&A, p.10 again, same statement, see earlier quote) You didn't have a plan for bringing about that change?
HC member: How do you mean, 'test the Lord?'
ENK: My children challenge me, test me - by asking questions... I welcome this...
B: (same p.10 again):
ENK: Be true to your conscience
B: How are the leaders to be changed?
ENK: The sustaining process has become a rubber stamp. I'm referring to that process.
B: What are the leaders telling us that is not true. What's 100 years old?
ENK: Well, we used to have the Adam-God theory... (exchange re what is, where BY said it, was it ever Church doctrine...)
1st C (older of Stake Presy counselors): Your statement seems clear that you disapprove of the Church leaders.
ENK: I disapprove of some of the things that are going on...
B: Isn't that consistent with your statement to the First Presidency?
ENK: My concern was with a pattern of intimidation...
HC, young, to far right: the language when we sustain is important; it asks us to sustain them as prophets, seers, and revelators
*B: Do you feel they are not prophets, seers, and revelators?
ENK: When I raised my hand, it was a symbolic act - that had three elements in it. This was not always clearly thought out, but became even clearer afterward. I explained this in my letter to the First Presidency.
HC to ENK's left: Do you feel qualified to make judgements regarding the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve?
ENK: I feel we all are called to reflect on decisions and raise our hands appropriately.
B: Then you feel you can sit in judgement on them?
ENK: Not sit in judgement... I'm getting very uncomfortable with this. It feels that you do not care about me, that you are not interested in knowing how I feel. I haven't even had the chance to read my statement...
* (After a little mixing around, B allowed ENK to read his statement - c. 9:15 p.m.)
ENK: read a shortened version of his draft statement, with sincerity, feeling, no confrontation in affect. B remained impassive throughout, asked at end if he was finished, and resumed questioning.
B: (Values Q&A, same p.10) *some Q. re sustaining in an earlier ward conference
ENK: related incident and mentioned that Pres. Richards (stake pres. at the time) came up afterward and shook his hand and congratulated him for his honesty.
B: Would it surprise you to know that Pres. Richards says he did not say that?
ENK: It would...
B: Well, he did.
ENK: Then I disagree, my recollection is that he did...
B: (Discussion after Values paper, p.11 middle big par: "...then afterwards he (the Stake President) came up to me and shook my hand and said, 'I congratulate you on being totally honest.' And that's all there was. That was the end of it. Now I haven't - I've had to sort of face the - what is it called now? It's no longer called the court. It's called the 'Disciplinary Council.' And I've challenged that with 'Listen, let's get rid of those terms. Let's call it a 'Discussion Council.'") What did you mean by 'sort of disciplinary council?'
ENK: That was an off-the-cuff response; I don't know what it meant.
* (then a couple of rounds re was there a disciplinary council, etc.)
B: Did your bishop warn you about raising your hand in opposition?
ENK: No, he understood.
B: (Values Q&A, p.12, near top) "...It is a deliberate act of chaos.") Do you mean you deliberately set out to cause chaos in the Church?
ENK: This refers to Peck's book, The Different Drum, which talks about 4 stages of community: pseudo-community, chaos, emptying, true community. A lot of people in the Church are not happy and don't express it.
B: Are you happy in the Church now?
ENK: I'm not happy right now, in this proceeding. No - because I don't feel encouraged to be myself in the Church.
B: What does that mean?
ENK: For example, this is the first stake I have ever lived in in which I was not invited to sing - often. I'm happiest when I sing.
B: You've been invited to sing, but you didn't like what they asked you to sing or they didn't like what you wanted to sing.
ENK: * (then a couple of rounds)
B: I think this is the heart of your problem with the Church - when someone wants you to do things differently than you wish to...
ENK: I think Christ wants me to be myself, my true self.
B: The Savior wants us to be like him, not the natural man...
B: Do you have any problem with the concept that bishops have a sacred responsibility to see that Sacrament Meetings are appropriate and OK?
ENK: No problem.
* (Then several rounds of fairly confronting questions)
ENK: I'm astonished at these proceedings, at what's happening. This is 50 times worse than I expected. I had no idea... I feel no love or caring...
B: I'm sorry if I've made you uncomfortable, but you're being accused of apostasy...
B: How many people were at the conference where you gave this paper?
ENK: about 75-100 in the session (same Q/A had come up earlier)
B: How many other copies of this paper did you send to people?
ENK: About 15, maybe 20
B: (1/92 letter to First Presidency, p.1 top: "I love the Church. It is my birth family. Because I care about what happens to my family, I am unable in good conscience to sustain many of you brethren in your ecclesiastical offices at upcoming stake and ward conferences.") Is it your intent to continue to raise your hand in opposition to the leaders?
ENK: Well, I don't know. If I feel I should. Probably yes, if I attend.
B: (letter p.1, par.4: "
went on to say that this prophecy had not yet been fulfilled, but soon would be. I believe now is the time. These days many people, men and women, young and old, in and out of the Church, are having powerful spiritual experiences including dreams and visions about present and future realities. It is as the prophecy says, the Lord will pour out his spirit on all flesh. There is no indication that such a spiritual outpouring is limited to institutional Church membership or those in administrative position.") Is it your belief that all of us will have revelation for the direction of the Church? Moroni
ENK: That's not what I'm saying or mean...
B: Do you believe the leaders teach things that are contrary to...
ENK: ...I can tell you experiences that none of you know anything about, e.g., CE4 and CE5 encounters...
B: I don't know what CE4 and CE5 encounters are.
ENK: You have heard of close encounters of the first kind and second? ....
ENK: I don't know whether or not you understand, President.
B: I understand you. I don't agree.
B: (1/92 letter to First Presidency, p.2, par.1: "Brother Ezra, many of our LDS brothers and sisters now live in fear of intimidation by you and other General Authorities, not unlike it was under the Soviet system...") Are you referring to the Communist Party.
ENK: Yes (with emphasis)
B: Do you believe that the Church administration is similar to the Communist system?
ENK: Yes, you bet (with emphasis)
B: (letter, p.2 same par) Are you aware of specific instances of that?
1st C: Does a stake president have that authority... (?)
1st C: Then wouldn't a General Authority have that authority?
ENK: I was concerned that this would be cause for the action...
HC on left side: (1/92 letter p.2 middle) One difficulty is _______
*ENK: I have felt intimidated...
B: Hopefully no one has tried to usurp your free agency in the Church.
ENK: This is what I mean by intimidation; it is very subtle...
B: Aren't you intimidated by the Savior? When he says keep my commandments, aren't you intimidated?
ENK: I understand that he loves me deeply and challenges me to be my most complete and... self, and love others unconditionally.
*B: (some question about the President or prophets speaking for Christ on the earth)
ENK: No one speaks for Christ to me...
B: Didn't you say you believed that Joseph Smith is/was a prophet?
B: Then how could you not believe that the prophet is the mouthpiece for Christ on the earth?
ENK: My understanding of the Church is that it is an institution to be nurturing, through which people can learn and grow, with their agency - not to be controlling, intimidating, and taking away agency... (Now is 10:10 p.m.)
B: Don't you believe that Christ speaks to his prophet today?
ENK: Not as a dictator.
B: Has Pres. Benson taught anything contrary to what the Savior taught?
ENK: Well, I don't understand what he was teaching a few years ago, in the address/article (?) where he told the Church to study the Book of Mormon to avoid the Lord's condemnation. I don't think the Lord condemns.
B: What do you think is God's mission on earth?
ENK: To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
B: You haven't had a temple recommend for a number of years. Do you remember raising your hand in the ceremony? Do you remember the covenants you made there?
ENK: Much of them.
B: Do you have any trouble with the commitments you made in the temple?
ENK: I believe my experience on the road superceded all them.
ENK: The only reason we have leaders in the Church is to set examples.
B: What if they set a bad example?
ENK: Then you don't sustain them.
B: If you believe that, how could you follow any leader? None of us is perfect.
ENK: I think we're playing with words, President.
1st C: Does the Church have any meaning in your life?
ENK: I'm trying to find true community in the Church - not pseudo community in which people don't speak what they feel, aren't honest...
B: Do you think any community exists where everyone is happy.
ENK: I don't mean a community where everybody is happy, but one in which...
* (several more rounds, including asking ENK for examples of true community, he mentioned extended family in Santa Fe where he was living, B. followed up to make sure it wasn't a commune)
B: How many copies of this letter did you give out (I believe the same letter to First Presidency)?
ENK: I believe I gave it just to the Crystal Group
B: What is the Crystal Group?
(several brief rounds)
B: Do you share papers?
ENK: We share everything - this is a true community.
1st C: (Values paper Q&A, last p (13), last answer: "...And boy, a lot of folks were very suspicious about letting me back through the door. And I didn't come through on bended knees (crawling), through broken glass.") Why were people suspicious about letting you back in?
ENK: I can't deny my experiences... I didn't come back with my tail between my legs.
B: We are supposed to repent with a broken heart and contrite spirit. Do you feel you have fully repented?
B: Is it still your position that you never committed adultery or apostasy?
B: Do you recall a conversation with your first wife in which she asked you why you didn't divulge to the (reinstatement) court that you were then living with another woman? ...and you said because they didn't ask me?
ENK: No. (pause) It wasn't my first wife; it was my 3rd wife... But I can't believe what you're coming up with. These were private conversations with my wife...
B: Were you living with another woman?
ENK: No. I had been.
B: Why didn't you tell them this?
ENK: They didn't ask me. They asked me if I had any moral problems. I did not think I had a moral problem.
B: How long did that relationship go on?
ENK: Several years.
B: How long before the court had you stopped living with her?
ENK: I guess it was a matter of months or weeks.
B: What was your 3rd wife's name?
ENK: Barbara Allen
B: Did you tell Barbara Allen about this?
ENK: I was completely honest with her. I told her everything.
B: Did she ask you why you lied to the court?
B: Do you recall saying, "because I'm infiltrating the enemy lines?" What does that mean?
ENK: Yes. If the enemy has taken over the Church I love, and abused it... The enemy refers to those who would want to spiritually kill or destroy the spirit - and may not even know it... there may even be some in this room...
B: Have you talked with others re this?
ENK: Yes, some members of the Church.
B: Do you have a feeling about your rightful place in the priesthood?
ENK: I don't know what that means, except to - I would like to respond to my son's wishes and the traditions of our family to confirm him after his baptism.
B: Do you believe you need to hold the priesthood to confirm your son?
ENK: That is my understanding.
B: Do you believe it?
ENK: Yes, I believe.
B: Do you believe the Prophet holds all the keys to the priesthood on the earth?
B: Then, how do you reconcile that belief with your earlier statements and not sustaining the prophet...?
B: Brother K., we're trying to help you realize how far afield you have gone in your exercising of the priesthood, even in your membership in the Church... We want to help you: save your soul, repent of any transgressions you may have committed... Can't you understand that the purpose of the previous courts was to help you repent and come back?
ENK: (10:40 p.m.) I understand that I was to come back through the Spirit... I feel somewhat like Samuel the Lamanite (tells the story)... I feel my role is much the same as Samuel's.
B: Don't you believe the Prophet does this?
ENK: (*something about responsibility shared more broadly)
1st C: (2/28/92 Letter to Bryce, p.1, bottom par) What is ? prophetic calling?
ENK: I told you about my experience in July 1965. I now understand this not to be the prophet of the Church...
B: Do you recall a conversation with Bill Gould in which you told him this (your calling to be the prophet of the Church)?
ENK: I don't believe such a conversation took place.
*(couple of rounds)
B: (3/9/92 letter to Bryce) Did you sent copies of this to anyone else?
ENK: I don't think so.
B: (5/5/92 letter to family and friends) How many copies of this did you send?
ENK: About 25-30
B: (5/5 letter, par.3: "...the issue of discipline versus discipleship.") What does this mean?
ENK: Discipline refers to coercion, in contrast to discipleship, in which relationships are more desirable, as in Christ's church...
ENK: I don't know that any of you have experienced(?) loving everything - I expressed....
B: Do you feel it is unreasonable for leaders of the Church to conduct themselves in a given way?
ENK: No, it is valuable to give structure and example...
B: Why do you feel so compelled to kick against the pricks - against obedience...?
ENK: (gave as an example of unloving, intimidation, Pres. Bryce's direction to Bp. Hooker (?) in the evening right after ENK's concert to the R.S. - to call all in attendance and warn them about ENK...)
B: The concert wasn't my concern - what went on in that concert wasn't my concern.
B: How was that a violation of obedience (for Bp. Hooker to make the calls)?
*ENK: Had I been the bishop receiving that call, I would have said, that does not fit my experience of it - I was there... or at least asked you some questions...
B: Brother K., I don't know how to help you. I'm sure that every man here, even without talking to them, wants to help you... You're listening to the wrong spirit. You won't receive revelation when you're not living the principles of the Church. And you certainly won't receive revelation beyond your responsibilities - revelation for the Church... I'm hoping you will change. You can't continue to profess apostate doctrine and remain in the Church... preaching against the Church and its structure... Are you unable to see how these documents represent apostasy?
Then, there was an extended procedural discussion about hearing a statement from me and other visitors. B. questioned ENK in detail about who he wanted to have speak, their affiliations, what they would talk about... Finally agreed to allow a list of 6 individuals (already screened as above), from a longer list, to speak for a maximum of 5 minutes each. ENK expressed concern about those waiting outside, not knowing who had been able to remain... (There had been no break or communication with those outside during the entire hearing, which had run nearly 4 hours. We took a 10-minute break starting at 11:20 p.m.) By this time, only 8 or 9 of the original 14 had been able to remain.
We resumed c. 11:30. I was invited in and spoke for about 5 minutes. B questioned me before my statement re Church stake, ward, positions, temple recommend holder? I gave a very brief intro re me and my basis for knowing ENK, then said:
RCM: Brothers, I'm puzzled about what to say that would be relevant at this point. I had drafted a statement, based on my understanding that this Council would be for the purpose of inquiring about the true feelings and actions of Brother K., in order to have a basis for making a decision about his Church membership. However, it seems, from these proceedings, that decisions have already been made. Am I missing or misunderstanding something - perhaps the purpose of the Council is different from the courts we used to hold? Have decisions been made?
B: No, no decisions have been made. (All three members of the Presidency sat forward on their chairs as I asked the question, and all three simultaneously seemed to be trying to communicate urgently, by word and hand gestures, that no decisions had been made.)
RCM: I'm glad to hear that. (continued with a statement)
I was excused, indirectly. Upon checking, I found that my role as support for ENK was ended. I went out and called the next person to speak (Bill). This continued, each going in one by one, with the last two being Aaron and the bishop from Long Beach (finishing about 12:10 a.m.). After a short time, ENK was called back in (ES: "the President has another question") - about 12:15, coming out at 12:45. ENK reported that the time had been spent with questions from B, much covering the same ground as the earlier questions. Apparently, he was excused without any information about what would happen next or whether he should wait, etc.
Four of us waited with ENK. We observed singular HC members begin walking out c. 1:05 a.m.. Finally, about 1:10, I asked the ES to find out what the status was, and if there was any need for ENK to wait further. He returned with the message that no decision would be made tonight and we could go (no one from the Presidency communicated directly with ENK or in response to my question). We left.
Commentary on “Inquisition”
You have requested my accounting of your performance of An Evening with Zhenya in
in March of 1992. I have pulled together my writings of that time and set them forth herein. Additionally you requested me to mention how it was that we came once again into contact with each other just over a year ago. That came about as a result of my search for your name on the internet during the construction phase of my website, TellingTouch.com. While going through old journals, pulling together memoirs from my past to include on the site—for the mission of TellingTouch is to preserve these wonderful stories of our past for future generations—I came upon entries from that period of time in Ventura, California . Finding a recording of Evening led to a search for you. I was absolutely delighted when you agreed to permit me to place the original recording of An Evening with Zhenya on my website for all to enjoy. Ventura
Since then we have been emailing and doing further work on TellingTouch together. (And yes, I did suggest an interpretation of one of your dreams… It just peacefully and clearly seemed to unfold before me as I read your report of the dream from your webpage. Not knowing why I saw the interpretation, yet the experience had occurred and I felt it best delivered into your hands. If there was any truth or reasoning behind this awareness, certainly that would be determined by you. Now allow me to preface the following accounting in this way:
No experience of our lives is set off as an island, but rather is overlapped and interlaced with other events, situations and interactions in which we find ourselves. And there appear to be some periods in our lives in which these variables seem to take on heightened significance. It is during these times that, with awareness and reflection, one may seize upon a cornucopia of growth opportunities. Not to be the exception, this was precisely the environment in which I found myself in
during the year 1992. Thus, in order to recall that time as accurately as possible--specifically the circumstances surrounding the March 1992 performance of An Evening with Zhenya by Eugene Kovalenko-- I would like to provide the contextual setting in which I found myself at that time—the intent being that thereby my recollection may be more fully comprehended and, thus, honored. Ventura, California
I had been employed by
as a transcriptionist for his CREEI dream workshops starting just weeks after leaving my position at the Bank of A. Levy in January 1992. I had been the executive administrative assistant at the bank for over a year, since our family’s arrival in Eugene . (My husband was an F.B.I. agent and we had been transferred to the Ventura Los Angelesdivision and had taken up residence in a year prior.) Feeling needed at home, I had left the bank and resumed running my home-based business, LaserWord, which I had opened in Ventura prior to our transfer. Although I was transcribing for Denver, CO , I had never attended any of the CREEI meetings in person. Eugene would deliver the audio tapes to me and I would transcribe and print them for him. He would pick up the documents and pay me for the services. Eugene
I was not, however, unfamiliar with practices or interests such as dream analysis and interpretation, having grown up in a family well-exposed to alternative ‘New Age’ practices—which is what I considered CREEI to be. As such, though I found it quite fascinating (and not at all contradictory to Church teachings or doctrine) I had made the choice to not get involved, as it was reminiscent of my upbringing in ways with which I had made an exerted effort to disassociate at the time of my baptism twelve years earlier. This disassociation had in fact separated me from my family altogether in regards to spiritual matters. I had not spoken of spiritual beliefs or practices with my mother, in particular, for many, many years. Now, by transcribing the CREEI tapes for
, I found myself much less fearful and actually amenable to the opportunity of having deeper conversations with her once again. Eugene
Saturday, 3/14/92 (italicized words added)
Judy Houle [
stake Relief Society president] stopped by unannounced. I did have some work to do for her, and she said she was in the neighborhood and thought she’d drop by. I told her it wasn’t finished yet, but that I had intended to do it that day and would get it to her the next day. (It was the program for Ventura .) The following words were struck through in my journal entry—She seemed hesitant to leave and finally asked if I had received a phone call from Bishop Hooker regarding-- I never finished those thoughts as if uncomfortable with what I would write next, and instead started a new paragraph. Eugene
She seemed like she had time to kill and started talking and telling me about a seminar she had just attended. I folded laundry and listened. We talked for over an hour. She did ask me a few questions about
—like what did I think of him. I told her that I took him with a grain of salt—he wasn’t your typical Mormon, but that I found him interesting and very intelligent. We talked about the program some. She shared with me how the whole evening had come to be. That in her Ward Correlation meetings with the Bishop, she had gotten it approved—it had been brought up at more than one meeting. Eugene
My recall of An Evening with Zhenya:
The evening of the performance I arrived while
was setting up his recording equipment. The sisters were coming in and by the time we started I would surmise that there were 20-30 sisters present. Eugene was the only brother there to my recollection. The program was already underway—introductions and opening prayer had already been given—when Bishop Hooker arrived. It was an awkward moment, as the door through which he came was to the side and rear of Eugene Eugene, and as such, the Bishop’s entry naturally distracted everyone’s attention from to him. Eugene cordially invited him in and the Bishop silently took a seat towards the rear of the room. I was mildly perplexed by the peculiarity of his late arrival. These feelings were furthered by the odd omission of any words of apology for his interruption, which of course would have been customary and polite by anyone’s standards. And yet Eugene graciously welcomed him and brought us all back into the moment by continuing with his performance without further adieu. Eugene ’s performance was truly wonderful. Without any accompaniment whatsoever he sang the entire evening--a cappella! The rounds of applause following each song were testimony to the enjoyment being experienced by one and all. He shared song, verse and prose, encouraging the sisters to provide input and insight along the way; providing us with rich cultural background to his pieces of music; teaching us Russian words and Ukrainian customs; describing scenes and lands he knew well but which perhaps most of us might never see--we communed together with a spirit of the understanding of Rodina, or home, as Eugene taught us through words and music. Bishop Hooker apparently felt the wonderful spirit present there that evening, as did we sisters, for I noticed as I waited in my seat while everyone was leaving the room, that the Bishop approached Eugene , with tears in his eyes, and thanked him for his performance. Eugene
Later that evening when I returned to my home, I received a phone call a brother in the stake (I do not specifically recall the brother’s name). However, he made it quite clear that the call was being made at the request of the Stake President. I became immediately defensive for the question being asked was if there had been any inappropriate behavior displayed by
during the evening. I was absolutely aghast at this suggestive line of questioning! Evidently not even Bishop Hooker’s presence was enough of a witness—someone was obviously and aggressively trying to dig up something—anything—to sabotage Eugene and the wonderful evening which we had all just enjoyed. That the source was Stake President Bryce. Eugene
My mind was in a flurry. How could this be justified? I had been in the Church twelve years and never had I had a phone call like this! It left a terrible distaste for the leadership and the methodologies being employed. But far worse--it threatened my testimony of the priesthood brethren and cast a shadow upon my faith, initiating a struggle to support my priesthood leaders. I remember discussing the upset of the phone call that evening with my husband. I acquiesced to his counsel and laid my indignation aside, being told to just stay out of it—that whatever was going on was not my concern nor privilege to know.
My journal entry that evening states simply: My thoughts tonight are self-centered. I’m feeling defensive and protective. I’m tired…exhausted. I need rest; I’ve taken on too much—helped out with the road show, Girl Scout Cookie Chairman, headed up the Ward Activity, PTA, home-schooling Alina in the afternoons, Randy and family here for a visit, LaserWord, etc. The worst is passed now--I think I’ll be ok. It’s all a matter of prioritizing and scheduling. Mike and I have committed ourselves to getting out of here—
Ventura, short-term— , long-term. We just don’t fit the mold here. I am especially concerned with the kids’ education. Well—too tired to write more tonight. California
Thus in spite of my own mixed feelings and struggles, I painfully chose not to go to
’s disciplinary council held just months later. I stayed out of it as I was counseled to do by my husband. The responsibility for this choice I endured with feelings of failure—as if having let down a friend—someone in whom I saw no guile and no guilt—for whom, when support was needed, I was unable to stand up for and be counted. I was ashamed and I vowed then that it would never happen again. Eugene
In the year 1992 I not only became acquainted with a dear friend, one who has forgiven me for my un-Christ-like treatment of him back then, but one to whom I owe the initial steps of reconciliation between my mother and myself. The ensuing years would bring about a series of major battles in fighting for her liberty—for her curiosity and practices became boundless and eventually took her nearly past the point of return. I am ever so grateful that my relationship with her was restored in perfect timing that I might be of assistance to her. And lastly, I have been able to resume a friendship and acquaintance with Eugene, whom I hold in the highest esteem.
My God is not beholden to the fallibilities of man—not even those upon whom he has bestowed leadership privileges and power in the Church. For no matter how far the lambs may stray from the flock--or even when they are chased off by wolves in sheep’s clothing—yet will He leave the ninety and nine and bring them safely home--even unto Rodina. I now know from personal experience that anything—any power whatsoever—left unchecked can have the potential to destroy. But more importantly, He who is the Great I AM, has all power to bring even that which is destroyed back to Life once more.
Becki Jack, October 27, 2007