The editors of the website will, from time to time, post what we feel are appropo commentaries regarding any of the available topics herein, or even topics not yet posted, if we deem the article "good enough".  This came our way as we were assembling the site, and include it herein with the author's permission.  Glen Rickerd left the Kingdom fellowship several years ago, and has struggled to come to grips with what the church actually stood for as well as seeking to find his equilibrium.  Glen also asked that we include a small introduction to his earlier e-mail article, and so we do.


To members of the Kingdom:

I feel you are all still my friends. It is impossible to express how much I love you, and how deeply I miss you. I am aware that some will be disappointed or even offended by what I have written. I can only offer the following within the context of Proverbs 2:6--

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend,  But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy."

It gives me no pleasure to inflict pain by what I have written here. But to be a true friend to each one of you, I must tell you what I understand.


Dear Reg,

I thought you would be interested in a recent letter I sent to John Mecray.

Linda has been keeping me apprized of the events at Fairwood during the last convention. Makes me feel like I was a passenger on Titanic, with deep misgivings about the hubris of "management" that compelled me to request a lifeboat and to be put off the vessel... which steamed merrily on. Now I'm bobbing about in the Atlantic somewhere, getting news of the foundering.

It confirms my judgement... but it doesn't do anything to make me feel less alone. Like any disaster, it's almost impossible to turn away, to avoid the spectacle.

I've had a reply from Mecray, since I sent the letter below. Very warm and friendly, sympathetic and encouraging. I didn't know, when I sent this, that he founded the International Yacht Restoration School, which now owns the Coronet, and that he chairs the committee devoted to the complete restoration of the vessel.
Here's the letter.


Dear Mr. Mecray,

As I write this letter, I pause now and again to look at a print of one of your paintings. It is "1492", the one that commemorates the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the new world. It arrived from the Mystic Seaport Print Shop today, and it far exceeds my expectations, having had only the benefit of the image on their website, and the color brochure I requested some months ago.

The reason I’m writing you is to share what this print means to me, and why.

I grew up in the church you know as The Kingdom, Inc., former owners of the schooner yacht Coronet. My maternal grandmother grew up at Shiloh during the years when Frank Sandford was sailing that vessel around the world… and serving his sentence for manslaughter in Atlanta. Grandma left that bible school as a young woman just before the "scattering." Raised a family of seven children, widowed in 1935. The whole family was "gathered up" back into that church in 1948, four years before I was born. I grew up in Michigan in the 50’s and 60’s, attending a Kingdom church there. I attended the Fairwood Bible School from 1970 to 1974.

I’d never heard of the Coronet until I went to live at Fairwood for those four winters. But in the spring of 1971 I went with six others down to Gloucester and helped to tar the rigging… Part of that bible school’s training was to study the history of the movement. And looming large in that history was the story of the Coronet, and the epic tales of faith winning out over the powers of darkness… and how she came to epitomize the loftiest principles of righteousness and holy living. Inspiring tales of peril and triumph were told, along with spiritual lessons to be derived… and precious little was ever said, or only darkly hinted at, concerning the controversy surrounding certain events. I enthusiastically absorbed the lore, supported the preservation efforts, and treasured every opportunity I had to be on board her, to help with the maintenance or just to attend services.

In the early 1980’s I received a very special Christmas gift: a signed and numbered copy of your first painting of the Coronet. I was thrilled to have it, and have treasured it ever since.

Life never turns out just as we expect it to. About ten years ago, I became aware of intense emotional pain, patterns of trouble I seemed to be carrying around with me… it’s too long a story to tell here, but I gradually became aware that a lot of that trouble seemed to be connected with my involvement in The Kingdom. After years of agonizing struggle my wife and I chose to sever connections with that church, losing friends and family in the process… three years ago, I was in such a deep depression from the shock of withdrawing from that church that I sought out help. I’ve been in therapy ever since.

Things are looking up; the depression has lifted for the most part, I’m taking back a life that was stunted and wasted in that church, replacing my former beliefs with ones more in keeping with reality. I’m back working and providing for my family, and the future looks bright.

You can perhaps imagine that my understanding of my own experience in The Kingdom and my understanding of the history of that movement has undergone a shift. In the process of recovery from what some would term "spiritual abuse", I searched out and learned from some of the more balanced sources on Kingdom history. There were great revelations, regarding not so much overt lies, as systematic omissions in the history that I’d been taught. It comes as a shock when one discovers that important evidence is missing… I had assumed I was getting the whole truth. Now, where once I focused on the great spiritual goals that the Coronet stood for, I look back and see a leadership out of control, and loyal, innocent people led to their deaths by a man who shared some of the same character traits as Jim Jones, or David Koresh.

I still love the Coronet as an artifact of maritime history… but I’ll never forget that day, about a year ago, when I looked at your beautiful print of her, and saw something altogether different and much sadder than what I learned about her in that bible school. And of course it wasn’t just about the Coronet, but about the whole movement, the power structure, the recruitment tactics, the withholding of key information from followers. It was quite a shock to face, but so very necessary to one who had been under the spell of that church for so long. And the Coronet is so tied up in the mythology of that church that it came to represent, for me, the paradox that many cults represent: the white, pristine attractiveness of high ideals, while within great offenses and abuses lay hidden.

Today I heard a survivor of the Moonies, talking about her experience and eventual escape on the radio. She was asked, how she and others are taken in and deceived. Her answer was that they all are victims of their high ideals. Anyone who aspires to something transcendent, is a potential victim.

I took the Coronet print with me to my therapist, and talked about what that image of spiritual excellence had meant to me, and what the pain of facing reality was like.

About that time I decided I no longer wanted to own that print, and checked out the Mystic Seaport website with an eye to finding out if there was a way to sell it. I was very startled to see the value placed on the print today. I was also very impressed with the extensive collection of other maritime art you have produced over the years.

One print especially caught my attention: "1492." I called the print shop and requested a copy of the color flyer. When it came in the mail, I studied it closely, and was deeply moved by what I saw. Within minutes I knew that one day I would have to own a copy of the full sized print.

I am not extensively schooled in art, or art history. I’ve been through a gallery or two, and can differentiate between things that move me deeply, and things that leave me cold… but I am not a sophisticate. When I first saw 1492, I was struck by the very small images of the three vessels on this extreme expanse of empty sea… I thought of the fragility of the venture, the long odds against which Columbus fought, first to fund, then to complete the voyage. I began to comprehend the incalculable changes in world history that these three caravels precipitated, and it moved me to tears.

For I identified with that venture. Leaving the safe cocoon of the Kingdom, stepping out into the wide world and seeking my own way has been a terrifying experience. The loneliness, the uncertainty about the future, these things have been my daily companion since I sought to make a new life for myself and my family, away from the misery of that life in the Kingdom. Part of what drives me on this quest is the desire to make a better future for my children. Almost any sacrifice is bearable for their sakes… I sometimes find myself thinking of generations of Rickerds to come, and the trouble they will miss because we made the break with that troublesome past.

So I hope you can understand that 1492 is very much a metaphor for me. I have figuratively debarked from the Coronet, that vessel of religious misery and trouble, to find my own way in uncharted seas, not knowing where landfall will be, or when. If Christopher Columbus could take some risks, so can I.

* * *

Recently we traced our family history back to the early 1700’s. The first Rickerd ancestor who arrived in the New world came to the New York colony in 1710 as an indentured servant, one of 2500 destitute German refugees from the Rhine valley. It was a time when children under the age of seven were not expected to survive the voyage. 3000 started from London, and 500 died during the crossing. In New York City, those children who had been orphaned were separated from the group and their indentures sold to tradesmen. The rest were sent up the Hudson to make tar for the British Navy. In October of 1712, the tar-making scheme was abandoned because they had the wrong species of pine and couldn’t produce enough resin... and the investors had run out of money. The German workers were all turned out to fend for themselves just as the first frosts were hitting. They traveled to Schoharie, NY, surviving that first winter by living in bark hogans that the local Indians taught them to build. They built farms and villages, only to be turned out 15 years later by English land speculators who had secured legal title to the land from the governor. Some went to Pennsylvania, some further west into Indian country. Now the Rickerd name is scattered from one end of the country to the other, numbers in the many thousands.

I often think about what motivated that obscure cowherd, and his son the breadmaker, to leave the fertile land of the Rhine valley and strike out for the unknown. I think of what it means for eleven generations (so far) of their descendants, to have lived in this land of opportunity and prosperity, instead of war- and famine-torn Europe.

Whether we recognize it or not, what we do here and now does have a lasting effect on those who come after.

Thank you for painting 1492, for making the caravels so small and the sea so dark and beautiful. Thank you for the sunrise and the promise of a better day. Thank you for a painting which will hang on my wall and inspire my own pioneer adventures for years to come.

Glen Rickerd      

P.S.  The ownership of that print of your 1980 painting of the Coronet is not so repugnant to me as it was a few months ago. I believe the print shop at Mystic Seaport still has me listed as a potential seller, but I don’t really know how I will feel about it when they eventually call. I do still very much enjoy the careful craftsmanship of your painting… and my children still love it, having grown up mercifully free from the negative connotations that it brings to my mind when I see it.

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