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Short History of Messianic Communities

1937, May 18th — Elbert Eugene Spriggs born in East Ridge Tennessee.  Raised in "religious" home often going to church 3 times a week.

1957 — Marries Jean Autry.

1960 — Divorced.

1962 — Marries Kay Kelly and joins the Army.

1963 — Spriggs’ only child born, Tyron Eugene Spriggs.  Worked as High School guidance counselor, employee at Dupont Nylon.

1964 — Fired from Dupont Nylon, becomes personnel director at Dixie Yarn Co.

1966 — Father dies.

1968 — Divorced from Kay Kelly.  Holds numerous jobs.

1969 — Marries Toni Lawson and works briefly in a carnival.  While there hears the Lord ask him, "Is this what I created you for?"

1970 — Moves to California, Jesus Movement in full swing.

1971 — Divorced from Toni Lawson.  Realizes he cannot function without Lord in his life.  Commits life to Christ on beach in Carpenteria, CA.

          — Works at Santa Barbara Rescue Mission for street people.

          — Travels to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to witness to "ski bums."

          — Meets forth wife, Marsha Ann Duvall.  Witnesses to her, Marsha becomes Christian.

          — Travels to Chattanooga, TN to clear up bad debts.

1972 - 1976 — Attends variety of Churches in Chattanooga.  Starts meeting with teens, many come to Christ.

          — Starts group of young teens called "Light Brigade."

          — Spriggs is given use of house on Vine St.  in Chattanooga.  Many begin to live communally.

          — Open "rap sessions" held at house every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings to discuss Gospel.

          — Group starts first of many "Yellow Delis" through out Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.

          — Yellow Delis serve "Fruit of the Spirit.  Why don’t you ask us?"

          — During this time Spriggs and group regularly attend First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Ben Haden is Pastor.

1976, June 4th — Large restaurant, Areopagus, opened.  Place where all Christians can gather for support and fellowship.  Contact with various other Christian groups

          — Spriggs ordained an "apostle" at the Areopagus by the New Covenant Apostolic Order, a group he was a member of for a short time.

          — During this period Spriggs is increasingly disillusioned with luke-warm commitment of Churches, according to his understanding.  Nobody in Chattanooga preaching the Gospel.

          — Left Church and began to worship in public park.  Services called "Critical Mass."

          — Spriggs calls First Presbyterian (and all Churches) the "Whore of Babylon." Ben Haden is specifically "of Satan."

1977 — Vine Community Church (one of Messianic Communities's original names) becomes increasingly isolationist.

          — All Christianity is apostate.

          — Families that oppose group are seen as enemies, contact is now limited.

          — World outside is increasingly evil, need for vigilant isolation.

          — Bryan College and Tennessee Temple put Yellow Delis off limits for student body.

          — Covenant College states, "...the group has exceeded its ministerial function and was taking on magisterial power."

          — Group leaves Chattanooga.  "God has withdrawn from the area", felt now led to Island Pond, Vermont.  Group begins to move in stages.

1978 — Communities threatened with bombings and violence.  Many residents in Island Pond are very distressed and suspicious of the Communities.  Issues revolve around child discipline, legalism, self righteous attitudes, Communities acquiring vast amounts of property, etc.

1979 — Issues are raised by the State and local authorities about the schooling and discipline of children.

1980 — Move to Island Pond is now complete.  All properties in South have been sold.  Group is called Northeast Kingdom Community Church.

          — Communities becomes more legalistic in dress and practice, very strict understanding of Scriptures, Old Testament based, law begins to replace grace.

— Communities begins to spread geographically.  Move to Boston, Nova Scotia, other places in New England.

1983 — Eddie Wiseman (Hakam), second in command, is charged with "simple assault" for scourging 13 year old Darlynn Church for seven hours.  Case is dropped because father recants original testimony and refuses to testify.

          — Wiseman’s public defender, Jean Swantko, joins the Communities after Spriggs writes 30 page letter to her.

          — The Communities, during this period, eventually acquires 18 pieces of property.  Starts many "cottage" industries.

1984, June 21 — State police raid the Communities in the early morning and remove 112 children into State custody.  All children returned within the day to their parents.  State acted outside proper legal parameters.

1989 — Steven Wootten takes his children from ex-wife who has custodial rights and goes "underground," runs for eight years from federal authorities with Communities assistance.

1990 — Mary Wiseman, wife of Eddie Wiseman, dies a painful, lingering death to uterine cancer.  Communities determines three reasons why God took her life: spoke out against the "anointed" (Spriggs) ten years earlier, had "spirit" of her children, was not truly committed to the Communities.

          — Within a year Wiseman marries Swantko, his public defender in 1983.

1994 — Communities has by now spread overseas (22 worldwide); groups in France, Brazil, Spain, Australia, Canada, United States.  Each is self supporting.

          — Department of Social Services brings charges of child abuse against Communities in Hyannis, MA.

          — Charges dropped because ex-member won’t testify; frightened, mishandled by State, lack of support from friends.

1997 — Steve Wootten caught by FBI in Florida with his two children.  Carrying fake identification, cut hair and beard, children called by different names.

          — Child dies in Sus, France Community.  Weighs 10 pounds at 19 months old.  Has heart abnormality and is refused medical attention.  Second child in a year at Sus.

          — Parents under investigation.

1998 — Communities under direction of Spriggs purchase farm in Cambridge, NY.  Communities secure large loan and contract from Estee Lauder to produce rubbing salt (Origin) for use in their cosmetics industry