Spiritual Abuse

By | March 2, 2014

A friend of mine has attended UCCD (United Christian Church of Dubai) for years; a more sincere, god-fearing, humble man you would be hard pressed to find. In November he informed UCCD he was quitting their church and has not attended since. Last week UCCD put him on their “care” list. Generally this is their precursor to some more extreme disciplinary measures. Methinks a certain 9Marks church in Dubai fancies itself to be the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. I dedicate the cartoon below to them.


“When committed Christians regularly see other members’ salvation questioned when they leave their church, it is very difficult for them to consider leaving – God, salvation, and the group seem to be synonymous.”
Twisted Scriptures: Breaking Free From Churches That Abuse” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar, page 189

“Often the leaders do not want their followers to even consider information. Attacking the motives and credibility of a critic is an effective way to accomplish this. When members are conditioned by leaders to believe that information is credible only if the source of that information is acceptable, it is unlikely followers will seriously consider anything said by those ridiculed by the leaders. These victims become putty in the hands of these leaders.”
“Twisted Scriptures: Breaking Free From Churches That Abuse,” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar, page 144

“Fear that their group might be guilty of excessively controlling members’ lives actually causes some disciples to deny the possibility of mind control. Many Christians in and out of discipleship groups find it hard to believe that any group which preaches the Gospel, evangelizes, and baptizes people for Christ could use a sophisticated program to control members. Denial, unfortunately, does not change the facts. Mind control techniques can exist in any group or organization.”
“Twisted Scriptures: Breaking Free From Churches That Abuse,” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar, page 193

1naked pastor

Submit Comment

newest oldest
Notify of

Here is the video that Glen posted and commented on. I guess it must be threatening to UCCD’s established way of doing church.


Glen Gifford

I recently experienced some spiritual and a little bit of emotional abuse recently after leaving a comment that I had posted below a teaching, “Only Servants no Masters that had been viewed by 42 people. There was not one like or one comment from any one of them. Ironically it included elders of the church plants and one of the elders wives, I am sure he would not want to be seen to have watched it.
It concerned me to think that so many had viewed it but not one like or comment.
My response was, okay let me make my own comment, which was, “Obviously, The Elephant in the room”. It was there and posted when I went to bed but it had been removed by the self appointed administrator who prior to removing your post and up to the time he removed my comment has only interacted with the members of the Friends of UCCD site once and that was when he posted his appointment and warning. What a sad indictment of someone who is not only a Pastor but also an Elder, if he spent more time interacting with the contributors he would have so many opportunities of applying a Biblical approach from which everyone including himself would benefit.
2Tim 3:16 could be applied and have a truly Biblical outcome because, The Word of God is sufficient for correction, reproof and training in righteousness.
Glen Gifford

Thanks for the comment Glen, you are, as usual, spot on. You and I understand your comment, but for the benefit of those who are not members or ex-members of United Christian Church of Dubai (UCCD) I will elaborate.

There is a Facebook page dedicated for use by UCCD members. I believe it is called “UCCD Family.” It was started and administered by a non-staff member of UCCD, Miro Donabedian. He is a loyal supporter of all things UCCD and remains a friend of mine. His page was never any official arm of UCCD, just a page Miro started of his own initiative. As far as I can recollect he never once removed any posts on the Facebook page. I often posted things there and included many posts critical of C.J. Mahaney and his enablers. Many of these enablers were 9Marks pastors. UCCD is a knock off of Mark Dever’s church in Washington, D.C. and John Folmar, senior pastor of UCCD, previously served as an assistant pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist, Dever’s church.

As Glenn mentioned, elders and pastors of UCCD and UCCD church plants, and their wives, are members of the Facebook group and frequent visitors of the page. They were obviously growing frustrated with my continually posting articles about C.J. Mahaney – a blackmailer and cover-up senior pastor of child molesters in his church. Many of these articles called into question the motives of the celebrity 9Marks preachers who refused to speak out against their friend Mahaney.

In early March 2013 I received several emails that were instrumental in my decision to quit UCCD. First I received an email from Miro Donabedian advising me that he was no longer the administrator of the “UCCD Family” Facebook page, he had ceded control to John Welkner. A few hours later I received this email from John Welkner, at the time the youth pastor at UCCD and the man I considered to be the “hatchet man” for senior pastor, John Folmar. (Welkner has since moved up the ladder in UCCD, no longer the youth pastor, but still an assistant pastor.)
Dear Todd,

As you may have noticed, I have removed several of your past posts from our church’s Facebook page. The posts removed deal with the crisis at Sovereign Grace. I sympathize with your concern for these important issues, however, I feel that the posts deal with the issues at play in ways that are unhelpful for our congregation and the members of the Facebook group.

Thank you for your understanding, please feel free to speak with me about any concerns you have!

Your brother in Christ,
John Welkner
Of course, up until the day I received this email the Facebook page was not “our church’s Facebook page.” But I guess I must concede that at the time Welkner wrote the email he was correct. UCCD had executed what I would consider a “hostile takeover” of the page.

Of course my dissatisfaction with UCCD had been growing over several months for numerous reasons, but Welkner’s email was the proverbial “straw that broke the camels back.” Within a few hours I had formulated a letter of resignation and emailed it to all UCCD elders. Six and one-half months after receiving my email I was removed from their membership rolls, but that is another story.

In response to my resignation letter I received this email from Welkner:

Dear Brother,

I read and re-read your email with deep sadness, sadness over the destructiveness of sin as we’ve seen with SGM, and sadness that this reaches here, into our own congregation. I have valued your ministry partnership, you have honored the Lord through your many ministries here, both teaching and discipleship. I do understand your responsibility to act according to your conscience, even as I must act according to the responsibility to shepherd as one who will give an account to The Lord.
It was not with haste nor without counsel and much prayer that I acted to remove some (not all) of your SGM related posts. It was done out of a loving concern for all, including for your own heart, I fear a justified deep concern and frustration may have become bitterness anger. My desire was, and continues to be the desire to serve your family in such a way that pleases God, even if it may not earn the approval of man (Gal. 1:10)

I pray for God’s blessing upon your family, I pray for a speedy and just resolution of the SGM crisis, and I pray that the Lord would heal your heart in all these areas.

Your servant,
John Welkner

Associate Pastor
United Christian Church of Dubai


I hope this gives those of you who are unfamiliar with UCCD a clearer understanding of what Glen is referring to in his comment.