New Birth Christians
The history of the churches based on the Padgett messages.
James Padgett died on March 17, 1923. Dr. Stone had been his constant companion, along with Eugene Morgan. The legacy of manuscripts was left initially to Eugene Morgan, and when he passed on he willed all the manuscripts, including his own to Dr. Leslie Stone.
Dr. Stone took up the challenge of readying the messages for publication.
The process of readying the material for publication was very difficult. The messages were on small notebook pages, in the typically almost unreadable format that constitutes automatic writing. Some 2,500 messages had been received, and as many again if those from dark spirits were included - there were 2,900 of those, albeit very short messages and a further nearly 2,000 consisting just of names of dark spirits. Our best estimate is that there were about 20,000 handwritten pages. There was an index which was the only easy way to ascertain what was on each autograph - the original handwritten message done by automatic writing. This was a time when typewriters were expensive, and one had to be a very competent typist to use them, as errors were messy to alter. Once he had chosen his subject material, this had to be typed and proofed. Then the printer would prepare the typesetting, and again proofing was needed. This was also a time when publishing was very expensive, as lead typesetting was used, from which plates would be produced. It was also in the midst of the Great Depression, and later the Second World War. Dr. Stone funded all this out of his own resources, so he continued to work to earn an income. It has been suggested that Dr. Stone received an insurance payment in respect of a personal injury accident, and applied those funds to the publishing. Just prior to his passing, Dr. Stone was living in a single rented room, with the boxes of autographs stored under his bed. It was obvious he had almost no financial resources at that time.
The first volume was published in his own name in 1941. He then decided to create a foundation for this purpose, and initially wanted to create it in the name of James E Padgett Foundation. After opposition from the Padgett family, he used his own name. But after creating the Dr. Leslie R Stone Foundation (21st December 1955), he discovered it could not be tax exempt. This led to the creation of the Foundation Church of the New Birth (F.C.N.B) which was inaugurated on 2nd January 1958. Dr. Leslie R Stone, Dr. Daniel G Samuels, and Rev. John Paul Gibson, were the Founding Trustees. Dr. Stone was very much loved by all who knew him, and finally passed into spirit at the age of 90, on the 15th January 1967. (His D.O.B was 10th November 1876) There were only two persons present at Dr. Stone’s funeral service - John Paul Gibson and Ron Shumaker. I have had the privilege of speaking with the latter, and so I am able to have some confidence in what I share here.
The first editions of each of the four volumes of the messages were published in 1941 (Vol. I), 1950 (Vol. II), 1956 (Vol. III) and 1972 (Vol. IV). Four different titles were used over the years, and more details about these publications can be found on this page. Later these volumes, very very slightly changed (the main pages appear to use the same printing plates, with some changes to the introduction and the inclusion of original messages and photos.) were published by the Foundation Church of the New Birth as “True Gospel Revealed Anew by Jesus”. By the time of Dr. Stone’s passing, he had published the first two volumes, and had contributed to the third volume of James Padgett’s messages. The third volume was completed by Rev. John Paul Gibson while Dr. Stone was still alive, and he also subsequently produced Vol. IV.
Over the period 1954-1966, a Jewish medium, Dr. Daniel G. Samuels received a significant volume of messages. These comprised fascinating information about the Old Testament, and how it was that Jesus learned he might be the messiah. Apparently Dr. Samuels found Rev. John Paul Gibson difficult to get along with, and eventually he left the movement, to not be heard from ever again. John Paul Gibson made two attempts in writing to entice him back, but did not get a response. He passed into spirit in March 1982, and this fact was only learned recently. Even though he has communicated with us since his passing, this did not resolve why he left the movement. In my opinion, it is probable that Dr. Samuel’s vision of the nature of the church that would be founded, differed significantly from the vision of others, especially in the practices that he seemed to espouse, and which appeared to be based heavily on his Jewish heritage. He has communicated that he was overly materially minded, and not well advanced in his soul progression. However it is also true that Rev. John Paul Gibson was quite difficult to get along with.
In 1967, with the passing of Dr. Stone, the reins passed to Rev. John Paul Gibson, and he became the second head of the F.C.N.B. George Stokes, Kathryn Stokes, Amy Reza, Mary (Holmes, later Reynolds), Michael Holmes, Russel Higby and Dan Bowman, met Rev John Paul Gibson when they went east to be of service to the F.C.N.B., in 1972. Around this time the volumes were renamed “True Gospel Revealed Anew by Jesus” and four volumes were available, with the final Vol. IV being published in 1972. These remain the most original source documents of the Padgett Messages, although it is apparent that some limited editing (as in leaving out paragraphs rather than altering the meaning, particularly where these referred to personal matters) occurred with these, as can be discerned by studying the numerous duplicated messages.
It would appear that Rev. John Paul Gibson was not particularly careful in the way he ran the F.C.N.B. in the ensuing fifteen years, (1967-1982) in as much as he himself died intestate in October 1982, leaving the F.C.N.B. with only two trustees in Jocelyn Harleston and Rev. C. Raymond Dietz. He also neglected to hold any meetings of trustees, and the last entry in the minute book is believed to date to August 22nd, 1966, in the time of Dr. Stone. Rev Dietz indicated in April 1983 that he was unable to carry out the functions of a trustee, or Vice President, which had been his role. This left only Jocelyn Harleston as trustee. It was also the case that he ensured he was the centre of things, and no one else knew what was going on. He would not share who else was a member, and so members did not have any sense of community unless they already knew each other.
Jocelyn Harleston moved to the D.C. area after her mother died and this may have been in 1980 or 1981. She attempted to assist John Paul Gibson, but some times communication was limited to notes pushed under doors. It has also been said that John Paul Gibson would not even share the names of those people who expressed interest in the Divine Love movement with Jocelyn. The organization literally became a one-man operation under John Paul Gibson. However he worked hard at publishing various volumes, notably the last two of those received by James Padgett, and he also created material suitable to be used in the ordination of ministers, as a Ministerial training program. He also published the work of Dr. Samuels in two volumes. Jocelyn was involved with taking care of the books after John Paul died in October 1982. She threw many away because they had been in a storage bin in the basement of the building and were unfortunately damaged and moldy. This is a tragedy especially since John Paul Gibson was a man of some financial means and had a large apartment in a nice building with a swimming pool and an expensive car. He was observed to have set aside an entire room in his residence to store all of the messages received through Mr.Padgett and Dr. Samuels. They were all safely put away in well-constructed cabinets, organized according to writer and subject matter. It was easy to locate the materials. So perhaps it may have been a later time when these were possibly moved to the basement. It has not been possible to ascertain if this included any original manuscripts, but in a letter to a friend, Jocelyn indicated that John Paul Gibson had thrown away the originals of Dr. Samuels and some of James Padgett’s original transcripts. Certainly it now appears a considerable number of autographs have been lost.
Jocelyn had to deal with all these issues on the passing of John Paul Gibson, and it has been suggested that it was because of this stress that she did not want to take up the reins and run the F.C.N.B. However she would have been influenced by John Paul Gibson’s opinion that the head of the church should be a male. She was on her own for some months until her call for help was responded to by a number of people. Kathryn Stokes was invited to come to D.C. and be “secretary” of the church, but Jocelyn was in fact the “real” secretary of the F.C.N.B. In March or April 1983, Rev Bill Reilly came up from Florida with Victor Summers1, to Washington D.C. He was very supportive of Victor as a candidate for the leadership role. Victor was voted in as president on April 10th, 1983.
Victor Summers was literally thrust into the position of the head of the F.C.N.B. within a week or two of arriving in Washington. There is no written evidence to indicate that Kathryn Stokes was actually made a trustee. By Victor’s own admission, he was too young at 29 (D.O.B. 22 Nov. 1954) and inexperienced for this role. He found the situation very stressful, and it led to a deterioration in relationships between the two trustees, even though things started out with the highest of expectations.
Holly Bianco and Judy Gebhart came from California and were interested in working with the church. Jocelyn found a four bedroom house in Arlington, which is just across the Patomic River from Washington D.C. The four (Kathryn, Holly, Judy and Jocelyn) moved there in mid-August, 1983. Judy was’t happy there and moved back to California by the end of the year. Holly went to visit her sister in Europe, and not long after she returned, she too went back to California, in the summer of 1984. George Dunseth, who had come to Washington D.C, eventually managed to obtain the post that had been piling up at Benjamin Franklin Station since John Paul had died.
A letter dated April 11th, 1983 written by Jocelyn states that she is the sole trustee, and that she accepts Victor Summers as head (and trustee) of the F.C.N.B. She however states that she must be in agreement with any new chosen Vice President (and trustee), but that she would leave the suggested individual to Victor. The By Laws provided for only three trustees, and this would be the last trustee position.
At some point, believed to be late 1983 it became all too much for Victor and he moved away from Washington first to San Diego, California, and then (possibly March 1984) to Lake Helen, Florida. He took with him as many church supplies as his car would hold. It should be very clear that in doing this Victor acted without the authority of the Board, in as much as Jocelyn did not give agreement to this and there is no minute substantiating any such move. In effect he summarily took the entire church away from Jocelyn Harleston. The material removed included a large quantity of the original manuscripts, the post box key, the money and the corporate records. How long Victor was in California is also not known, before he moved to Florida. On this site2, it is said that in 1983 Victor Summers resigned all connection with the church and formally dissolved it. That date may be correct, but Victor also resigned again that Victor Summers and six trustees (more than the By Laws provided for) passed the motions to divest the F.C.N.B. of all its assets. This was also the meeting at which the published material was put into the public domain. The extent to which this meeting was held in accordance with the By Laws of the F.C.N.B is very doubtful. However the original F.C.N.B. was not dissolved, in as much as one can today find the registration of the original organization in the D.C. database. And Jocelyn Harleston although mentioned in passing in the minutes, is not recorded as a trustee, although she was, and she had also retained the right of veto over new trustees. Hence one may assume that other than Victor Summers, no others were legitimate trustees. Without Jocelyn’s agreement they could not be appointed.
The majority of the members of the church were not supportive of Victor Summer’s actions although he certainly had some support. Since Jocelyn believed that Victor was not a responsible representative of the church, she felt that another church entity should be incorporated to carry on the work. Members in the Washington, D.C., area reorganized as the New Birth Christian Healing Sanctuary and were granted permission to receive the mail directed to the former church’s postal mail box. (Victor Summers had taken the postbox key with him to Florida, and arranged a six month mail redirection.)
Meetings were held in Kathryn’s home, with Dave Lampron, Bill Reilly, Amy Bolton, Jocelyn, Rev. Bill Carroll and Kathryn working towards incorporating the new church which would be called the Foundation Church of Divine Truth. Then in 1985 nine former members founded the Foundation Church of Divine Truth, incorporated in D.C. as the successor to the former Foundation Church of the New Birth.2 It was on the 18th December 1985 when the Foundation Church of Divine Truth (F.C.D.T.) was incorporated in D.C. Jocelyn was President and Kathryn Stokes was (on paper) Secretary. They regained access to the Postbox 996 Washington D.C. and used it with the new church entity.
In the fall of 1987, Victor called Jocelyn from Florida to acknowledge that he wasn’t able to continue running a church. Actually he had resigned in 1983 and again in 1984 and tried to create and run a new church called initially “New Age Ministries Spiritualist Church in Christ on Earth” and later as: “Angelic Church of the New Birth in Christ.” Marc Reza, and his then girlfriend, Angelica (now his wife of more than 21 years) along with Crystal and Kathryn, went down to Florida and picked up many of the church supplies which Victor had taken from DC, and returned them to Arlington, VA. However they did not obtain the original autographs nor much of the corporate records that Victor had removed from Washington. The status of the F.C.N.B from 1985 to 1991 is not entirely clear. In 2012 the FCNB completed the scanning of all manuscripts they had in their possession, and have shared those with interested parties. A second set of autographs (located in Washington state) was also scanned in 2012 by a group of volunteers in Vancouver, (but the originals are still in Washington state along with corporate records dating back to the time of Victor Summers and prior) and the final cache held by Mike Bailey is now scanned and has been handed over to the F.C.N.B. where they have now been be stored in fireproof filing cabinets in a humidity controlled environment. It appears that the originals of Volumes III and Volume IV have probably been lost. The originals of the prayer which had been retained by Victor Summers were returned by Eric Niner in September 2014 at the 100th year celebration retreat held at Chevy Chase, just outside Washington D.C.
Jocelyn as head of the F.C.D.T. asked Dave Lampron if he would be willing to edit the messages, and Dave agreed to get involved with that project. But after the first volume was printed, and work started on volume II, Jocelyn decided that she didn’t like the editing being done. A discussion ensued among the trustees which lasted seven months, by letter and phone. In the beginning five trustees were in favor of including “the devised questions” where it was apparent that Mr. Padgett had asked a question, which he didn’t record, and then the spirit answered it. Two trustees, Jocelyn and Marva Egenberger were against inserting the questions. We have even heard James Padgett's opinion although as is probably to be expected, after the events were finalized!
Here is a photo of Jocelyn Harleston taken in 2014, long after these events:
In the spring of 1990, when it was decided a vote needed to be taken, five trustees were still in favor of including the questions and two were still against it. This caused Jocelyn to resign, and resurrect the F.C.N.B in 1991. In doing this she adopted a new set of By Laws providing for a larger number of trustees, and clearly specifying in great detail the modus operandi of the church. These By Laws also state that they may not be altered in any substantial way. Jocelyn was thus able to reactivate her beloved F.C.N.B., and reprint the volumes in the way she felt is the best, as that is the exact way they were originally delivered. Their headquarters are now in Williamsville, New York. Jocelyn Harleston stepped down as head in November 2008, and Dr. Elizabeth Morana is the current head of the F.C.N.B. Jocelyn passed into spirit on July 8th 2015. She was 87 years old.
After Jocelyn resigned from the F.C.D.T., the next president was Bill Reilly. The trustees that remained, united after Jocelyn’s resignation and voted to establish Bill as the president of the F.C.D.T. Bill’s tenure in this position did not last long. Bill’s health deteriorated over the next couple of years. Nearing the end of his mortal life, he communicated to the trustees over the telephone, but could no longer attend the annual meetings. Bill died in a nursing home very near to his son’s home in Deltona, Florida on June 30, 1995 at the age of 76. It was not until his passing into the spirit world that the trustees, including Amy, Kathryn, and Luke Osei-Kwame (who originally immigrated from Africa to Maryland in the pursuit of a doctorate and became a trustee) voted Rev. Dr. Dave Lampron in as the next president of the F.C.D.T. in 1996. In December 2001, the trustees of the F.C.D.T. incorporated in D.C. voted to dissolve the organization, because they did not have anyone to clear the postbox they had in Washington. They had already incorporated a new organization using the same name in California, in January 28th, 2001. Dave Lampron is the president of the new organization, and he holds that position today, although the number of trustees reduced by four when the Santa Cruz based folks decided they would prefer to create their own church and run that. It further reduced to three trustees, when Rev. Carolyn Stokes and Rev. Jimmy Walsh resigned to operate the Hawaii branch church, although this entity had existed unregistered much earlier in the State of Washington. The current Hawaii branch, using the name Divine Love Ministry was registered in Hawaii on April 16, 2002. The current trustees of the F.C.D.T. are Rev. Dr. Dave Lampron as president, Rev Holly Bianco as the current secretary and treasurer, and Rev. Dr. Michael Nedbal as the vice president. Their website is here.
In 2014 as I was mulling over the sad fact that the True Gospel revealed Anew by Jesus volumes cannot be sold through commercial book channels, and that the F.C.N.B are not able to re-publish these in a fashion which would allow that (removing the church as a publisher and adding ISBNs because they do not have the plates anymore) I realised that I could, and should do this. I had in the previous several months already created Kindle e-books which were available at Amazon, and so in the space of several weeks I created new editions and print copies that can now be purchased at Lulu and at Amazon and other booksellers. While I have made minor changes to punctuation, I also have tried to maintain as much originality as is feasible, while also using what additional information we have learned over the last 15 years of studying the autographs.
1 Victor Summers has communicated almost directly after his own passing, on November 18th 2011, and also subsequently. He confirmed he was welcomed, on his arrival, by the Master.
2 Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, by the Gale Group, Inc maintains a details on each of the two churches, and is surprising in some of the information it contains. However, research into the registration history of the F.C.N.B. suggests it is wrong in that respect. Answers currently reports on the content of this encyclopedia, - FCDT and the FCNB. No reply has been received from the contact email of the Gale Group. It would appear they do not enter into discussion about these things.