Gracepoint (Koinonia) – “More Hidden Yelp Reviews of Gracepoint Berkeley”

This is a quote from
a blog that exposes the cult-like qualities and history of Gracepoint Ministries, a church with many branch ministries such as Koinonia, ABSK, Acts 2 Fellowship (A2F), Kairos, and Berkland.

Gracepoint Ministries is present in : UC Berkeley, UC Davis, SF State, UCLA, UC Riverside, USC, UC Santa Barbara, UT Austin, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and more.

Blog post title: “More Hidden Yelp Reviews of Gracepoint Berkeley”

Here is a Yelp Review (that is hidden and not tallied into their final score) that is from October 2018 from  “Christain” that sounds exactly like the Berkland I attended decades ago. 

My experience at Gracepoint has been spiritually abusive. Please, please avoid this church as much as you can. Their teaching is unbiblical; the extreme emphasis and focus on sin is unhealthy. 

Their practice of rebuke seems to me out of the context of Scripture, as leaders assert their power, authority and dominance on younger members.

Let’s be clear, rebuking sessions at Gracepoint are not fun. In fact they are down-right humiliating and induce a lot of guilt-driven repentance. And, to be fair, if you’re being rebuked, there is a fair chance that you did do something wrong… or not (e.g. – this post). But does this type of rebuking do more harm than good? I say it is extremely damaging! It is the reason why many people who leave feel so traumatized.

I’m not going to get into the correct, or Biblical way to rebuke, for that material is abundant. But let’s talk about the culture of “getting rocked”  Gracepoint. I’m not sure who started calling getting rebuked, “rocked,” but it really turns something negative into something of a badge of honor. Again, it is often a horrible, humiliating ordeal. You sit there, being yelled at, belittled, guilt being heaved upon you, sometimes getting tag-teamed by two or three leaders. The “leaders” force you to confess to the point where you better start crying and feeling contrite. I have no doubt that leaders often agonize over what to do or say when contemplating a rebuke. But simply put, the ends do not justify the means.

Looking back, it is very disturbing to realize that I have seen many, soon after getting rebuked, smugly proclaim that they “got rocked”. Why? After all, there was a lot of yelling, most likely some crying, and maybe some forced fervent and desperate prayer. To put it very simply, in the spiritual economy of the Gracepoint ecosystem, getting rocked is like getting audited and passing. Yes, finally, what you did caught up to you, it got addressed by the leaders, and if you repent, you have a small stamp of approval. Enough stamps and certifications and you will be qualified to move on up the ranks. To be fair though, some people just need to get corrected more often, because frankly, they just screw up a lot. However, my opinion is that there is too much guilt-driven manipulation and fearmongering, and not enough careful correction. Also, I’ve even seen leaders refer to how they got rocked by Pastor Ed or Kelly with a smug smile. Not always, but I’ve seen it.

You see, this behavior is modeled for other church members and it starts to become apparent that unless you get rebuked, the leaders must not care about you, or think of you much. Very silly, I know, but I know this is true because people have confided in me that they feel this way. I’m not making this up. Of course, they are not trying to get rebuked on purpose (who wants that?), but there is a really unhealthy element of the culture that I believe is one of the root causes of the spiritual abuse at Gracepoint. Just like a victim of domestic abuse, you tolerate more and more emotional damage, and begin to rationalize, because in the end they supposedly “love you.” In reality, the abuser needs to control and manipulate you. If the abuser fails to do that, they rationalize by saying, “they don’t love me and I guess I never loved them.” At this church, it is the same, because if you do not respond to rebuke, you are spiritually desolate and they cannot shepherd or love you. For fledgling believers, it is very hard to know the right thing to do or how to respond, especially if you are a young impressionable college kid.

This is how you move hundreds of young people to mobilize quickly, efficiently, and without much complaint or deviance. Believe me, I would love to say everything is done out of a passion for Christ, but it is often not, not by most. The irony is, that on numerous occasions, I’ve heard a rebuke about not doing things out of a love for God and others, but the result is that people act because they do not want to get rebuked again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Please, do not get sucked into this cult. They are excellent at outreaching to newcomers–it is insane. The experience I have had at this church has led me further away from God, and I really hope no one will experience what I underwent.

I remember all too clearly the day that my entire class got rebuked because one class member was found to be secretly dating another member of the church. I had no idea that this person was dating until the rebuking session over and I asked someone what was that all about. Kelly Kang/Ed Kang accused all of us of using the church for personal gain (marriage). Everyone was crying. I remember being very sleepy because this happened very late at night. Traumatizing and the message was clear. We control your dating life, you need to tell your leaders everything, you will be shamed in front of your class if you don’t obey what we say. Needless to say, they were forced to break up. They both ended up leaving the church, one a few years after that and one many many years later.

Thank you to all the brave souls who left reviews on Yelp using their genuine profiles. I encourage you to continue to do so as it seems like profiles with one reviews often get “hidden.” Thank you “Christain” and I’m sorry your review is hidden.”

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