Piecemakers / Body of Christ Fellowship : An Abusive Church

Piecemakers in “Churches That Abuse”

Cult expert Ronald Enroth described the group in his book, Churches That Abuse:

The Body of Christ Fellowship, also known by their business name of Piecemakers Country Store, is located in Costa Mesa, California. Unofficially headed by grandmotherly Marie Kolasinski, who denies her leadership role (“God would strike me down if I took credit for this beautiful work”), the Body of Christ Fellowship is unique in its use of profanity, for Marie’s edict that required vasectomies for male members, and for their claims that the second coming of Christ has “already come and gone.”

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In the early days, the group experienced healings, spoke in tongues, and conducted baptisms in a local swimming pool. However, somewhere along the line, Marie and the Fellowship began changing from a charismatic Bible study to a strict, authoritarian communal group. The change occurred gradually, with Marie slowly introducing teachings that contradicted the Bible.

While the group claims to live peacefully as a communal witness (they own several houses in the Costa Mesa area), their doctrine and practices have evolved over the years to a point of drastic departure from orthodoxy. Marie believes that she has “come through the veil” — that she experienced the death of her flesh in 1978 and now walks in sinless perfection. As the only one to have yet begun to “walk in the fullness,” she dictates every aspect of the lives of her followers so that they, too, some day, may join her in her exalted state.

Consequently, she is beyond confrontation and in total control. “If you are sitting in this room today, and you are doubting whether or not these are the words of the Father, you better check to see if you are doing the will of God.” She adds, “I always marvel at people who will come and hear the truth of what is going on in this Fellowship and reject it.”

As the only one to yet achieve sinless perfection, Marie is God’s mouthpiece to her followers. Any questioning of her decisions or dissent is defined as rebellion of the original sin nature in her followers and an indication of their lack of perfection. “Words” from God, received by Mary, are obeyed by her followers without question.

Members have been known to surrender wedding rings, forsake their children, and move to different states, in obedience to Marie’s received “words.” Marie has also reportedly received “words” telling members to give money to her husband for his failing business, or to refrain from styling another’s hair after she received a poor haircut.

According to Marie’s philosophy, growing closer to God requires suffering. This means the travail and pain of letting god of everything of one’s old life — family relationships, both immediate and extended; personal belongings of sentimental value; and the ability to control one’s life and make personal decisions. The more broken her members, the closer they are to “entering into God.” Therefore, every aspect of their personal lives and egos is systematically assaulted.

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Marie now believes and claims that she “holds the keys to the Kingdom,” and has the power to regulate who and who will not have the opportunity to go to heaven.

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Since “dying to the flesh” allows Jesus Christ to be born in a person in fullness (the supposed second coming of Christ according to Marie), those individuals who have come or are coming “through the veil” should no longer live “fleshly” lives. Therefore, members of the Body of Christ abstain from sexual relationships with their spouses since there is neither male nor female nor marriage in the Kingdom of God.

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Living out their commitment to God, members rise each day at 5:15 A.M. They meet at 5:30 A.M. to walk for two miles, then receive the day’s instructions from Marie at her home. Members are assigned to either work at Piecemakers, do manual labor through the Village Tilers, a home improvement arm of Piecemakers, or baby-sit a host of children.

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Portions of the day are spent in meetings to learn about God and scold errant members. These “scoldings” can last for hours and include being labeled a “slut” or a “whore,” if one is a woman, or being convinced that one is weak and worthless, if one is a man. Accompanying the scoldings are outpourings of profanity, the use of which, one therapist believes, breaks down religious training so that victims are more open to Marie’s influence.

Those who supposedly attempt to usurp Marie’s authority are the most severely abused by brutal group-humiliation tactics and peer pressure. “They would hit you blindside and you never knew it was coming. All the members would gather around and begin screaming and hollering obscenities until you broke,” says one former members. There are also allegations of physical beatings.

– Source: Ronald M. Enroth, Churches That Abuse, Chapter 6: Elitism and Persecution: Abusive Churches See Themselves as Special. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1992. Pages: 120-123