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26-year-old disappears from home, parents find her at 'The Church of Wells'

Photo of 'The Church of Wells' from KETK NBC News

POSTED: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 9:08pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 12:38pm

Parents claim church holding their daughter against her will

The only thing Patty and Andy Grove hear when they try to reach their daughter on her cell phone is a message that says, “We’re sorry the number you are trying to call is not reachable.”

26-year-old nursing student, Catherine Grove disappeared from her home in Fayetteville, Arkansas on July 2, 2013.

After endless attempts to reach their daughter finally almost a week later, they hear her voice. Patty Grove says, "When she first called us on July 7, it was 11:30 at night, she said I’m in Wells, Texas, I'm with a group of people that are taking good care of me, but Mom and Dad I can't listen to you any more, I have to keep my hands over my ears and I can only listen to my ‘elders,’ and that was alarming to us."

That alarming phone call prompted Patty and Andy Grove to come to Wells, and figure out what was going on with their daughter. Catherine’s father, Andy Grove says, "We've been here over 8 weeks, and every day is the same task, we go around town interviewing people looking for any information if anyone would know where our daughter Catherine might be living." Now living out of in an R.V. Patty and Andy Grove say the only people who know where Catherine is, are the members of "The Church of Wells"

They believe Catherine found this church on the internet, and Catherine left Arkansas to become a member of the church. In their endless attempts to contact Catherine they landed on the church doorstep; they say, a young man answered. "He steps out and we say we're Mr. and Mrs. Grove, we're looking for our daughter Catherine Grove, do you know where she is? And this man came out and brought another man with him and they both stood in front of us and their very first words to us were "Mr. and Mrs. Grove, we have reason to believe that you're going to kidnap your daughter subvert her from our teachings, that we care for her soul and you don't."

The 57 member Evangelical church is run by three "elders"—Ryan Ringnald, Jacob Gardner, and Sean Morris, they sa Catherine’s salvation to the Lord is fueling her decision to not see her family, not them.

Elder, Jacob Gardner says, "When Christ calls a man, if he has his allegiance to his family first of all, or to his job first of all, or to his earthly possessions or riches first of all, that allegiance needs to be cut, if must be severed, or that man cannot truly bow the knee and worship in admiration in true service to the Lord Jesus Christ."

The only contact the Groves have had with their daughter has been limited, and on the Church’s terms.

Gardner says, "When she says she doesn't want to see her family we say okay, amen, we're not going to force you, but when she says I do want to see my family we say okay, praise god, just the other morning she said she wanted to see her family so we said okay." Patty Grove says, her visits with her daughter are supervised and determined by the church, “We’ve met with her two times, with the Elder’s present, and they spoke for her, qualified her statements, the other two times was with a deputy, we have not been able to talk to Catherine by herself openly."

After seeking help from local law enforcement, the Grove's were told Catherine is an adult; there is nothing more they can do. But the Groves haven't lost hope, they believe their daughter will come home soon.

KETK did try to speak to Catherine Grove today, but we were unsuccessful. The family will be holding a Town Hall meeting about this controversy Thursday, September 5, at 7 p.m. at Favley United Methodist Church of Wells.

Comments News Comments

Dan Pursley: "It was hard to believe that she was really gone, but we knew that there had been those who had 'received their dead raised to life again' by faith not only in biblical history but also in extra-biblical church history; and that if God so desired, He could hear our prayers and raise her from the dead as well. So we called on the elders of our church to pray, as we sought the Lord with prayer and fasting as a corporate body."

This is a small but critical distinction.

Great coverage of an important story. Thank you.
A correction - the group did not pray over "a sick infant" for hours. They prayed over a _dead baby_, believing they could resurrect her. This is not gossip or hearsay. The Father says so himself. On page 42 of a 50-page testimonial.

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