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
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--
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.
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 Im 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 50s and 60s, attending a Kingdom church
there. I attended the Fairwood Bible School from 1970 to 1974.
Id 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 schools 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
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 1980s 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
its 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. Ive been in
therapy ever since.
Things are looking up; the depression has lifted for the most part, Im taking back a
life that was stunted and wasted in that church, replacing my former beliefs with ones
more in keeping with reality. Im 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 Id
been taught. It comes as a shock when one discovers that important evidence is
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 Ill 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 wasnt 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
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. Ive been through a gallery or
two, and can differentiate between things that move me deeply, and things that leave me
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
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 1700s. 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
couldnt 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
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
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 dont 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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