LIVE ON CNN HEADLINE NEWS: KETK covers 'The Church of Wells' controversy
POSTED: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 4:09pm
UPDATED: Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 10:39am
Tyler, Texas (KETK) —
KETK has been covering a developing story on "The Church of Wells" in Wells, Texas, which is about 66 miles south of Tyler.
Because of the in-depth coverage KETK has released on the situation involving Arkansas native, Catherine Grove and "The Church of Wells," CNN has reached out to us to bring this story nationwide attention.
Photo of CNN truck by KETK.
KETK's Nicole Vowell will be on CNN Headline News HLN, Wednesday, at 4:15 p.m., to update a national audience on the investigative reporting she has been doing over the past week.
Also, Thursday, catch the interviews with Patty and Andy Grove, parents of Catherine Grove, and church elder, Jacob Gardner, on HLN.
Photo of Jacob Gardner by KETK.
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, Catherine's parents, Andy and Patty Grove, finally almost a week later heard her voice.
Patty Grove says, "When she first called us on July 7, it was 11:30 at night and 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."
Photo of Patty and Andy Grove by KETK.
The Groves will be conducting an interview with anchors from CNN from the KETK studio and their interview will be aired, Thursday, along with an interview with elder, Jacob Gardner.
In June 2012, Cherokee County officials investigated the death of a three-day-old infant, whose parents, elders in "The Church of Wells," allegedly chose to pray over the baby instead of seeking immediate medical attention. They did not contact law enforcement until 15 hours after the child's death.
The Church of Wells opened in 2012 on New Years Day, but the church started in 2010 in Arlington, Texas.
When asked why they moved the congregation to Wells, the answered, God told them to. They said it is made up of "born-again believers," run by three elders from Texas. The elders are Ryan Ringnald, Jacob Gardner and Sean Morris. The elders say their mission for themselves and the 57 members is to preach salvation.
"The key to men being regenerated or being able to follow God again, is through the new birth," said Ringnald.
The church is part of the "You Must Be Born Again Ministry," and they believe you are born sinful and in darkness, and you must be born again to truly follow Christ and be saved.
"We believe man has to see their sin. That's why we preach judgment," said Ringnald.
There have been unconfirmed reports of arranged marriages, but when asked on camera, they declined to comment and instead started praying.
On Thursday night, September 5, the community gathered for a town hall meeting to hear Catherine's parents speak about the church. They also heard from other people who have children involved with the church.
"All the parents that we have been in touch with are very distraught," Andy Grove told KETK. "They have loved ones that have been involved in this group that they have not heard from for years. They haven't seen their kids, daughters, grandchildren... and it's not right."
More than 100 East Texans gathered at the Falvey United Methodist Church to hear their story. Pastors from the community spoke and there was a message from the parents of Ryan Ringnald, one of the three elders of the Church of Wells.
In a written message from Mindy and Scott Ringnald, the couple said their son has been involved with the church for many years and that they've "lost a wonderful son to this cult."
This was the first time that the Ringnalds publicly spoke out about their son and "The Church of Wells."
"Catherine has been taken 'holy captive,' a term I never imagined using," they wrote. "My son is as guilty as anyone involved, and I am ashamed and sickened for his behavior."
The Groves also passed out an excerpt from a book written by Sean Morris, the head elder of "The Church of Wells." The document is titled, "The Doctrine of Judgement," and details the reasons that church members should cut ties with their families.
"I think it's important for the community to know what this church is teaching," Andy Grove explained.