Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Timeline Introduction

Introduction: Growing Families International [GFI] has been controversial within the Christian church for a long time. With the publication of Babywise, the Ezzos extended their influence into the secular world.

Purpose: To illustrate that the present-day controversy surrounding Ezzo is the consequence of longstanding patterns of behavior and questionable advice.

Why Read This? To avoid repeating history and to evaluate the Ezzos' suitability to provide guidance in infant care and parenting.

Corrections and additions to the timeline may be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Email from Eric Abel

In the spring of 2006, details of Eric Abel's departure from GFI came under question. It was brought to my attention by Tom Reed, a teacher of GFI parenting classes, that this timeline had omitted Mr. Abel's intermediate employment at GFI after he resigned as Director of Ministry while he job-hunted. The implication was that this circumstance negated the Abels' concerns. I contacted the Abels to ask about this.

Eric and Julie Abel's email of 5/19/06 explains:

It is no secret that while we parted company with the Ezzos in 1994, Eric served as a graphic designer until a new position could be found.  During those days, our relationship was tenuous, and despite the growing differences, the Ezzos were gracious to agree to keep us functionally employed through February 1996.

Our extended departure may be better understood when you consider that we were cofounders of this organization. We were not merely employees but “ministry partners.” Other than the Ezzos, we were the most highly visible personalities in the organization. Julie and I were featured guests on virtually all of their audio & video products, which continued to be sold years after our departure. In fact, Preparation for Parenting was originally dedicated to Julie’s influence. This depth of involvement added complexity to our leaving as we did not wish to cause harm to the organization, to the Ezzos, or to the many friends and family who were also involved in a deep way. Our influence was dominant and we chose to move away slowly and amiably.

We were fully entrenched into a culture and belief system that made our departure drawn out. Our personal identity was tied to a cult-like involvement including family, friends, church, school, and ministry. Additionally, we had a close relationship with the Ezzos and their children. Our separation was not harsh but took sensitivity and grace by both parties.

Also, Mr. Reed is entirely mistaken when he implies that we were asked to resign. We voluntarily stepped down from leadership as we could no longer support the direction of the Ezzos or their organization. Mr. Reed may want to get clarification by the Ezzos as I am sure they will agree that our overbearing concern at the time was their lack of accountability, an issue that seems to have haunted them throughout their life.

It is admirable that the Ezzos have an advocate in Mr. Reed but I am afraid that no one will ever fully understand the depth and breadth of the relational issues surrounding those that have broken ties with the Ezzos, including their own children and closest friends. We are hopeful, that despite all the problems, God will continue to perfect all of us to His glory….someway…somehow.

Eric & Julie Abel

Key Documentation

LIVING HOPE EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP:
Excommunition Statement

GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH:
Statement about Ezzo - Materials

GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH:
Statement about Ezzo - Character

CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE:
"The Cultic Characteristics of Growing Families International"
(originally titled "More than a Parenting Ministry")

CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE:
"GFI"
(orginally titled "A Matter of Bias?")

CHRISTIANITY TODAY:
Unprepared to Teach Parenting?

CHRISTIANITY TODAY:
Babywise Publisher Plans Contract Cancellation

AMERICAN ACADEMY of PEDIATRICS:
Media Alert

Guide to Abbreviations

GFI--Growing Families International, The Ezzos' for-profit company

CRI---Christian Research Institute, a leading Christian cult research and apologetics teaching organization

GCC---Grace Community Church, the large church pastored by Dr. John MacArthur where Ezzo was employed and from which he launched GFI. GFI materials that refer to Ezzo's "10 years as Pastor of Family Ministries in Sun Valley, California " are referring to this experience.

LHEF---Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship, Ezzo's place of worship after leaving GCC, pastored by Ezzo's friend and former GFI staff member Dave Maddox.

CT---Christianity Today, a well-respected monthly news and features magazine

GKGW--"Growing Kids God's Way", the centerpiece of the Ezzos' parenting curriculum, usually studied in weekly classes for 18 weeks.