The Truth about Morris Venden
(Taken from Claudia Burrow's Book "Unrighteousness Uncovered")
Table of Contents
.......................................Letters From The Author
Chapter 1 .......................................The Initial Meeting
Chapter 2 .......................................He Became Her "Confessor"
Chapter 3 .......................................He Became Her Marriage Counselor
Chapter 4 .......................................The First Trip To The Park
Chapter 5 .......................................The Phone Calls
Chapter 6 .......................................The Conference President Finds Out
Chapter 7 .......................................The Relationship Continued
Chapter 8 .......................................His Recreational Vehicle
Chapter 9.......................................His Theology Class
Chapter 10 .......................................Prevented From Obtaining More Evidence
Chapter 11 .......................................First Meeting With Conference President
Chapter 12 .......................................More Meetings With Conference President
Chapter 13 .......................................The Polygraph Test
Chapter 14 .......................................Plans For A Committee Meeting
Chapter 15 .......................................The Committee Meeting
Chapter 16 .......................................The List Of Evidence And Facts
Chapter 17 .......................................Two Witnesses
Chapter 18 .......................................Plans For A Second Committee Meeting
Chapter 19 .......................................The Second Committee Meeting
Chapter 20 .......................................The Advice Given To The Burrows
Chapter 21 .......................................The Committee Of Three
Chapter 22 .......................................Exposure Or Secrecy?
Chapter 23 .......................................Before The Judgment Bar
--Letters From the Author
"If his professed robe of righteousness can be torn from him and his vile purposes and thoughts be exposed, so that he will not continue to lead others into the paths of hell, it will be all that we may expect."
-Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, pg. 139
This is an account of a very unfortunate occurrence, which took place in the year 1986. A leading and powerful Seventh-day Adventist Minister became sexually involved with a woman who was a relatively new Church member.
The Pastor is a very well known man by the name of Morris L. Venden. The women is Mrs. Fred Burrow; Claudia by name, and mother of two children.
The careful cover up that has been made in this particular case has resulted in only having Pastor Venden transferred to a new locality-Southern California-where he can now continue to have opportunity to counsel with other young women. That is one reason that this book has been written, to warn and protect the women in our Church.
However, there is another reason why this book had to be written and sent out.
As a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church you should have the right to know the facts. Things of this nature, when they occur in our Church, surely must in some form or another have an effect upon all members of the Church.
The particular version which Morris Venden has told to others of what took place is already well known and rapidly spreading. You, as a Church member, must have the opportunity of hearing the facts as they really are.
*The Author of this book, Mrs. Burrow, has written it in third person so that the Reader can more objectively see what is involved.
As far as possible, persons have been checked with about statements in this book for accuracy.
(Written by a Church Worker)
Here is a simple but clear revelation of an event of which we've heard but little pieces. It is frightening to realize that our beloved Pastor Morrie Venden actually was unethically, unprofessionally, and immorally involved with one of his sheep. We've heard stories from our fellow workers, but never the full and open truth. Only a very few were privileged, and now we know why.
Though this account gives the evidences and witnesses that make for strong and believable truth, we are left with an uneasy, undeniable question: Why the cover up?
We workers and believers in this truth must have more open, honest, and responsive officials. They must deal fairly with us "little sheep" as well as those of high positions. We must protect the message, the truth, and not be a respecter of persons only.
Dear Reader, pray for those who not only created this happening, but for those who allowed it to continue this long.
(Written by Claudia Burrow)
My deepest appreciation goes to all of those who have stayed by my side throughout the past two years, without whom I do not believe that I could have endured this crisis in my life.
My husband has been so understanding with my frailty, and he continues to love me and stays by my side. My Pastor has my admiration, because of the courageous stand that he has taken in my behalf.
Dr. Robert Wilson, the Investigator of this case, and also the one who was given the job of bringing healing to me because of the spiritual wounds which I have sustained from this ordeal, has been both a tower of strength and a true friend to me. I appreciate the former Texas Conference President, Elder Bill May, for providing the Counseling Services of Dr. Wilson for me.
Elder Floyd Bresee, the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference, has had a kind, pastoral attitude towards me, which I appreciate very much.
I am grateful to Elder Neal C. Wilson for sending the three persons to our home. I think that he has shown good judgment by choosing these three people to evaluate the situation. And I give my deepest and most sincere gratitude to these same three people who were sent to our home: Elder Warren Banfield, Dr. Charles Wittschibe, and Mrs. Hedwig Jemison-all of whom I truly commend for their genuine, caring attitude and their willingness to take a stand.
Let me also express my appreciation for those on the Texas Conference Executive Committee who honestly did their best to help me, even though they were held back and inhibited in their final decision concerning this case.
And finally, all of those who are not here mentioned, who have given comfort and encouragement and who took a stand to support the seriousness of what happened-may God continue to bless them.
**The following are a few Introductory Letters to Claudia's Book Unrighteousness Uncovered:
Letter from Mrs. Burrow December 6, 1988
Dear concerned Church member,
I met Pastor Morris Venden at a campmeeting. He said he would be a daddy to me and help me spiritually, and I believed him and trusted him. He began wanting to see me away from his Church office. And our relationship began to take on a sexual form.
What I am saying is the truth and I am willing to go into a court of law and swear to it. I am willing to take a sworn deposition and to be under cross-examination to further prove that what I have said is true and valid.
I am extremely ashamed of my sin and I have sought and accepted God's forgiveness. I do not seek to excuse my sin.
But I have an ethical and moral responsibility to let you as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church know the truth.
yours in Christ,
Letter from Mrs. Burrow January 12, 1989
Dear Church members,
This is my letter of confession to the Church. There are many examples of confession in the Bible; some are good and some bad. After Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, it was their first thought to attempt to excuse their sin by casting the blame upon others. However, David's repentance was sincere and deep with no effort made to palliate his sin. It was the apostle Paul who painted his sin in the darkest hue and specifically described the very sins of which he was guilty, declaring himself to be the "chief of sinners." I want to do my best to follow the example of David and Paul concerning my open confession to this Church.
Because of the fact that I had at first truly believed that Pastor Venden was teaching the true Righteousness by Faith message to the Church, and I consented to do those awful things with him; I feel my sin is the worst ever committed on the face of the earth. That I would be doing those things with someone whom I thought was guiding God's Remnant Church is a terrible sin. I have clearly sinned against all of you.
Also, I should have kept close to my husband in order that the Tempter be not successful in deceiving me, as he did Eve when she left her husband's side in the Garden of Eden. If I had kept close to the Word of God, this would have made it more difficult for me to be led into sin. I should have been a more close student of the Bible, but I was not.
I should have gone to Jesus to fulfill my needs, instead of going to a mere man. I made the foolish mistake of idolizing this man. I have sinned against God by turning to someone besides Him, when He would have been sufficient for my needs. Thus, I dishonored my Lord.
I should have been instantly repulsed by the suggestions of Satan through his human agent. I might have fled from all of this, but I did not. I allowed myself to be swept away by my weaknesses, and for this, I plead guilty. I ask the forgiveness of the Church for my sin. I give no excuse for my iniquity.
Since the time that I have seen my sin and repented of it, the devil has endeavored to burden me with my guilt all over again. But as in the case of Joshua (Zechariah 3), when Satan stood to accuse him before God--he looked to Jesus as his Advocate; even so I do the same, for I have no other refuge but Him.
"Man cannot meet these charges himself. In his sin-stained garments, confessing his guilt, he stands before God. But Jesus our Advocate presents an effectual plea in behalf of all who by repentance and faith have committed the keeping of their souls to Him. He pleads their cause and vanquishes their accuser by the mighty arguments of Calvary." Testimonies, vol. 5, page 471
I was clearly none other than a fool to participate in those perverted actions with Morris Venden. But as did Solomon, when he wrote the book of Ecelesiastes, and confessed the "vanity" of his empty search for happiness in all the wrong places: I want to confess my foolish actions before the Church, in order to prevent others from falling into the same sins. (see Prophets and Kings, pages 78, 79.)
And now as did the apostle Paul, I want to "forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13, 14.
Letter from Mr. Burrow December 6, 198S
Dear concerned Church member,
My wife says that Mr. Venden led her into various sexual acts of perversions and I totally believe and support her. Claudia is a very naive and trusting woman, and even though she does have her immaturities, still she is not a liar and she is a very honest and straight-forward woman.
My wife underwent a complete transformation after she began seeing Mr. Venden. She did not want my affection anymore and our marriage started to become very difficult.
I am the one who thought I could trust Venden to help her to get closer to God. I had to pay for all those phone bills between her and Mr. Venden-thinking that he was "counseling" her. He would never call when I was at home, and if by chance I was, he quickly hung up when I answered the phone.
I knew how badly my wife wanted a spiritual father figure to guide her; but it is strange that Venden wanted to fill that place in her life, but did not want to meet her family.
Claudia came home smelling of another man's cologne and asking me about certain sexual things of which I myself had never even heard before.
When she finally confessed her sin to me, she sat on top of me for fear that I might lose my temper and hurt her. I know my wife has made her mistakes, but she is repentant and I do forgive her and respect her for facing up to those mistakes.
It takes all of the self-control I can muster to deal with the nasty way which Venden and some of his friends have been talking about my wife. Having been a Navy man, I can't understand how these conference people won't even make this Mr. Venden answer any questions and be responsible for his actions. I resent the fact that they are too afraid to openly deal with this situation.
Life Sketch of Mrs. Claudia Burrow
Claudia left home at the age of 14. Some people who were involved with drugs took her into their home and so also got her involved in the drug picture.
These same people gave her mistaken ideas about marriage and later she lived with a man for five years, thinking that it was appropriate to do so. Later Claudia found out the good news about Jesus Christ and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She has not taken any drugs since that time.
Claudia was about 28 years of age when she met Pastor Morris Venden. She was immature and in need of a helpful and understanding counselor. It was while Claudia felt this emotional need that the relationship between Mr. Venden and herself began.
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Chapter 1 --The Initial Meeting
The history of this case began when Mrs. Claudia Burrow, with the intent of gaining a broader understanding of the subject of Righteousness by Faith, decided to attend the campmeeting at Nameless Valley Ranch near Leander, Texas. The year was 1986, and the meeting took place during the last week of May.
Pastor Morris Venden was the key speaker at the meeting. After hearing Mr. Venden speak on the subject of Righteousness by Faith, Claudia decided to go and speak to him. As her husband had to remain away from that campmeeting, due to a changing work schedule, the woman spoke to Elder Venden alone.
She related to him her need for a spiritual guide and explained further that her husband was an even younger Christian in the faith than she herself was, so he did not possess the ability to act as a religious guide for her. They also discussed her past history and the resulting lack of a father figure in her life for many years.
At a later time during the meeting, Elder Venden surprised Mrs. Burrow by telling her that he would be a "daddy" to her. And as it seemed difficult to believe that someone so popular as he would want to be her "daddy," Claudia asked, 'Are you sure you want to 'adopt' me?" The reply of Elder Venden was, "Sure, I like little girls, and I like to take pictures of them."
Thinking that Mr. Venden's wish was to have a photograph of her, Mrs. Burrow asked a man by the name of Buddy Bell to use his camera to take a picture of her for Elder Venden, and the man agreed to do so.
Later that day, Buddy got together Mr. Venden, Venden's daughter, and Claudia for a photograph. When Claudia asked Mr. Venden if he would like to be in this photograph he replied, "Of course I do; I adopted you, didn't I?" He then came over to Mrs. Burrow, and put his arm around her and thus the photo was taken.
In another incident at the same campmeeting, Elder Venden related a story to Mrs. Burrow, telling her that he had once known a woman whom Claudia reminded him of. This woman supposedly had also wanted a "father-figure," but apparently there was more than one man who wanted to be the woman's father. After making this remark to Claudia, Elder Venden then said, "This made things get really hairy; do you read me?" This remark caused Claudia to think that Mr. Venden had wanted to be the only "father" in her life: to the exclusion of all others. To her, Mr. Venden seemed quickly possessive.
Mr. Venden introduced Claudia to Mrs. Evadeane Peters, who was a friend of his. He also introduced Mrs. Burrow to his daughter Lynne. Lynne and Claudia became friends and this friendship continued on after the campmeeting was over.
As the meeting reached its conclusion, Mr. Venden invited Mrs. Burrow to come and visit him often at his Church office in Keene, Texas. He specifically however told her that this father-daughter relationship would not involve her being with his family-namely his wife. He also specifically asked her not to come on Sabbath to the Church.
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--He Became Her "Confessor"
Mrs. Burrow was thankful for this opportunity to receive spiritual instruction from such a well-known spiritual leader. She began making visits to see Elder Venden at his Church office. She also went to see his daughter, Lynne. The first visit to Mr. Venden's office was in the first week of August
He took her out to eat at the fast-food place, "Wendy's." He then repeated the story to Claudia about the woman who also wanted a father figure. Only this time he said that the men wanted to be more than "just a father." Again he repeated to Claudia the same statement: "Do you read me?" At the end of their visit, Elder Venden told Claudia not to tell his daughter that they had gone out to eat together.
To Mrs. Burrow, the secretive nature of this relationship became quite uncomfortable and confusing. Her husband, Mr. Burrow, also wanted to meet Elder Venden, but Claudia recalls that when she asked him to meet her husband, he would not reply. Mr. Venden also would never phone Mrs. Burrow when her husband was at home, even though she told him that it would be fine to do so. And when Claudia suggested that he bring his wife to meet her family, Elder Venden replied that his wife was not "spiritual," and therefore would not be comfortable around other spiritual people such as her. He also refused to have any correspondence with Claudia by mail.
Yet at the same time, Elder Venden gave much encouragement to Claudia for her to write to him and tell him all of her problems. Because of her past history, and being an Adventist Christian for the short time of only 3 years, she had many different changes to make and many problems that needed to be sorted out. Mr. Venden encouraged her to let him act as her confidant. And after discussing with him the fact that as a Catholic child she had confessed her sins to a priest and would call him "Father," Elder Venden identified himself over the phone to Claudia as her "Father," instead of her "daddy." He became in fact a "confessor" to her, which caused her to place her entire trust in him.
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--He Became Her Marriage Counselor
Mrs. Burrow had wanted to make sure that her marriage pleased God in every aspect. At the campmeeting where she first met Elder Venden, she had bought a series of his cassette tapes on the subject of "Home and marriage." Therefore, she reasoned that he would be a good counselor on the subject.
As Claudia began to trust Elder Venden as a daddy, she then wrote to him, asking if he would help her understand what things were proper in a marriage as a Christian. She also asked for help in other areas of her life in this certain letter.
When she accordingly arrived at the Pastor's Church office, he pulled out Claudia's letter and insisted on sticking with the specific subject of marriage.
Some of the specific questions, which Mrs. Burrow had asked Pastor Venden, were:
When one becomes a Christian, is sexuality supposed to be different? Is it supposed to be like when Adam and Eve were innocent? (She particularly wanted to understand this subject, because of the counsel given in the book Adventist Home, pages 121-128, in which it describes the fact that the marriage relation is to be "holy and undefiled.")
How often is it appropriate for a couple to have sexual relations?
Is oral sex acceptable?
Claudia also explained to Pastor Venden that she had a lot of problems that needed to be sorted out because of her past history. And for this reason, she needed someone who was spiritually stronger than she herself was who could help her. And accordingly, she needed to understand how she could go about helping her husband to become excited about religion, in order that he might bring her spiritual strength.
In reply to all of Claudia's questions, Pastor Venden said that he himself was lonely for a "spiritual companion," and that he wished his wife was more "spiritual." He told her that oral sex was all right. He said that a "smart girl" would only have sexual relations about every two weeks. He then began to ask specific questions of Claudia such as: "Do you have wet dreams?"
When the "counseling session" was over, Claudia told Elder Venden that it felt good to be able to actually talk about sex with someone, because she was very shy and had not ever been able to do that before.
In reply to Claudia's previous statement, Elder Venden said that her confiding all of her problems to him was the same as "catharsis," like releasing a dam of water. A "spiritual orgasm," is what he called it. Then he told Claudia that it was 'just natural" for two "spiritual" people to want to "get close" in this way, as they had.
He invited her to start coming to see him more often, every two weeks or sooner. And he said that he wanted to talk about the same subject again.
After this particular meeting with Elder Venden, Claudia began to feel confused. She wondered if her relationship with Pastor Venden was more acceptable to God than the one that she had with her husband. She began also to want to be in the company of Elder Venden more than with her own husband. Claudia began wondering if God willed that she and Pastor Venden become a "spiritual couple" because both of their marital spouses did not seem to be interested in spiritual things.
Mrs. Burrow trusted Elder Venden as a sheep looks to the shepherd, and she put her confidence in his spiritual guidance. She was weary of trying to put her life all together on her own, and was ready to just let someone with more experience take over everything and help her.
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Chapter 4 --The First Trip to the Park
The next time that Claudia went to visit Mr. Venden at his Church office, she noticed that his van was parked in the lot rather than his car. Pastor Venden suggested that they go to Hulen Park in Cleburne, Texas. He also suggested that she follow behind him in her car. This particular trip to the park took place in the middle of September 1986.
Once they arrived at the park, Mr. Venden invited Mrs. Burrow to come inside of his van to see the custom job that had been done on it. He then asked her to come and sit in the back and talk for awhile.
Next, he invited her to sit on his lap, and let him hug her-, as a "daddy" would do. She did sit next to him and as he hugged her, she began to cry. She had wanted a father for so many years. He told her that she could hug him all that she wanted to, but that she "did not quite make it to my lap." She then did sit on his lap and eventually they began to kiss. Pastor Venden then asked Mrs. Burrow; "Do you want to be friends, Claudia?"
When it was time for her to go home, Claudia told Pastor Venden that she felt guilty. He replied that she was still a "good girl" and not to worry about it, because it was only a "little hugging and kissing"-that's all. He said that this was not really sex.
There were some policemen and also park attendants who saw them together at the park. She had a blue Topaz, and she gives the following description of Elder Venden's van:
Nebraska plates; sunroof; color: beige with red stripes; two lights on ceiling inside; could not see inside of van because of smoke colored windows; scratch about the size of a finger on back window that you could see out of; inside color-brown; some sort of black fold-up satchel in back dash: captain seats in front and in middle; tape player; flat bench seat in back; dark brown venetian blinds on windows in back: always had a pink pastel quilt and pillow in back of van.
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--The Phone Calls
There was a gradual leading into sexual things by Mr. Venden. He asked Claudia if she had ever "gotten close" over the phone. She asked him what that meant and Venden told her that it meant to talk about sex over the phone.
Pastor Venden asked Claudia to describe sexual fantasies to him over the telephone. He would wait until her husband was gone and then talk to Claudia. These calls were usually made from his Church office.
Elder Venden asked Claudia what sexual things that she would like him to do to her and then he would tell her what he would like her to do to him in return.
Elder Venden would always try to convince her that doing these things was not really "sex." He also began to say things that would lead her to think that God really wanted her to be married to him and not to her husband and that this form of their relationship was only a temporary one and that eventually they would be married. He led her to believe that God completely understood their "unusual circumstances" and that in time the unfortunate situation would be straightened out and they would be married.
Knowing of her childhood and her lack of friends, he would accordingly begin the calls by asking, "Do you want to come and play with me?" And when the calls were done, he would usually tell her that she was a "good girl," and that he loved her.
Eventually these phone calls took on the form of Pastor Venden requesting that Mrs. Burrow say "dirty words" to him, which she did once, but was too embarrassed to do after that. Then, in these calls, Pastor Venden began requesting that Claudia manipulate herself during the calls.
During these calls, Venden also told her to purchase a vibrator (artificial male organ), something she had never used before. Pastor Venden also wanted her to get into various sexual positions while doing these calls, which she would not do. He would continually complain to her that she was not being very "cooperative" with him and that he had to do most of the talking. And he always told her to "speak up."
On the date of September 18, 1986, Elder Venden made a specific request for Claudia to call him at home, because his wife would be absent that particular night. And so she did so, which is shown on her phone records. These calls would normally take place at about 9:30 at night, each call lasting usually about 10-50 minutes.
Pastor Venden requested to Mrs. Burrow that she would let him call her at the time that he was free to do so, and then she was to call him right back so they could talk together for awhile. He told her that in this way, the calls would not be recorded so much on his Church phone bill records, as he had to initial each call that he made.
Pastor Venden also requested that he and Claudia would have a "secret" phone signal, which consisted of him calling her and letting the phone ring once, to let her know that he was "thinking of her." At his request, they began using this secret signal.
Each time Claudia's husband would answer the phone when Elder Venden did not realize that he was at home, Elder Venden would quickly hang up. After this had gone on for a time, her husband began to think that something was wrong with the phone system at their residence and called the Phone Company to fix it.
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--The Conference President Finds Out
Claudia had written letters to her local Adventist Pastor at the very start of her relationship with Pastor Venden. In these letters, she told her Pastor of her happiness at having Pastor Venden as her "daddy."
As time went on, however, she slowly began to tell her Pastor of the sexual things that were going on between her and Mr. Venden. Claudia could not handle the deception aspect of the things Elder Venden asked her to do, for she had always told the truth before. She had never felt so confused. Therefore, she needed someone to confide all of this to, and she chose her own Pastor to confide in.
Claudia told her Pastor in these letters that she was having feelings for Pastor Venden that she didn't understand, etc. She also repeatedly pleaded with her Pastor not to tell anyone about this for fear that she would get in trouble and that her husband might do something about it. In reply, Claudia received a letter from her Pastor dated September 29, 1986, which included the following remarks:
1."I think no more or less of you than I did..."
2."I have had to consider what to do about the information that you recently told me. How to handle it in such a way as to keep you from getting hurt, yet being sure that it does not continue."
3. His advice: "Stay away from him." "Have no contact whatsoever with the individual." "Do not call, do not write, do not listen to any recordings, completely wipe the individual from your life."
4. "The person you mentioned has used you-plain and simple"
5. "I understand that it is your fault also-but that is not the point. There may be an excuse for your actions-but there is not for his."
6. "If this is taking away 'your daddy,' I'm sorry-but this individual has taken the place that only Fred should have-now or ever."
In late September of 1986, Claudia's Pastor told Bill May, the Texas Conference President, about Claudia's problem with Elder Venden. Claudia later learned that, at that same time, Claudia's Pastor and the Conference President made an agreement that if Morris Venden continued seeing Mrs. Burrow after the Conference President told him of her accusations against him-that would be a sure sign that Mrs. Burrow and Pastor Venden were having an affair. They agreed that if Venden had any sense at all, and he found out that this woman was accusing him of this-that if he were innocent-he would no doubt stop seeing her.
With this plan in mind, the Conference President informed Elder Venden of Mrs. Burrow's accusations and ordered him to have no more contact with the woman. Elder Bill May, the Texas Conference President, had two separate conversations with Mr. Venden to make sure that he well understood the situation clearly and that he was to stop seeing this woman. Mrs. Burrow was totally unaware at the time that her Pastor had told the Conference President about any of this.
Claudia then received a very unexpected phone call from Pastor Venden. Elder Venden told her that the Conference President told him that her Pastor had informed him of their sexual involvement. Mr. Venden also told Claudia that the Conference President was told that she had written her Pastor "a letter" telling of their sexual involvement.
At this time, she was afraid that Elder Venden would hurt her. Elder Venden then told Claudia to tell him what was in this "letter." Then he told Claudia to do him a favor and tell her Pastor that it was all a mistake and that she was "drunk" when she wrote this "letter" to her Pastor and that none of what she had said was true.
Mrs. Burrow would not agree to do that, however. (Actually, she could never have done that anyway, fort unknown to Venden, she had written her Pastor a very large quantity of letters explaining the relationship as it progressed, and therefore, it would be ludicrous to expect her Pastor to believe that she had been "drunk" each time she had written him a letter. Pastor Venden was totally unaware that Mrs. Burrow had been confiding to her Pastor about all of what was going on.)
At the same time, Pastor Venden told Claudia that the Conference president told him to be "more discreet" with this woman from now on. Because of the way he worded it, Claudia did not know at that time that the Conference had actually told Venden to have no more contact with her.
Elder Venden disregarded the order of the Conference President and continued seeing Mrs. Burrow. Elder Venden told Claudia that if she told anyone about this that it would be because "the devil is trying to destroy his ministry of Righteousness by Faith." He convinced her that she would be doing the work of the devil if she were to tell anyone the truth. He also promised her at this time that he would not do the sexual things with her anymore and that they would have a good relationship from now on. And she felt sorry for him and believed him.
In this conversation, Pastor Venden also told Mrs. Burrow that the Conference President had told him that he couldn't take the word of just one "witness" on this (meaning Claudia). Elder Venden especially warned Claudia not to tell her Pastor that she knew-that Venden had told her-about the conversation between the Conference President and himself.
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--The Relationship Continued
Elder Venden convinced Mrs. Burrow that he would have the kind of relationship that she had wanted to have with him and that they would dispense with the sexual part of it. He requested that they start meeting at the Adventist Book Store in Keene, Texas, and that when Claudia saw him drive by she was to follow behind him and they would meet at the park and just "talk."
On October 6, 1986, Elder Venden went to the park with Claudia. They sat together-this time in his car. He took out his Bible and started reading some of the Psalms of David to her, and said, "his enemies cannot destroy him." He reminded her once again that if she told anyone about their relationship that it would be the devil trying to destroy his ministry.
He said that he would "rather die, than to have his ministry hurt." He then started kissing Claudia and said, "he just couldn't help himself because she was so cute."
It was a little while after this that Elder Venden again took her to the park in his van, and told her that he had gone through the Old Testament and found that the men in those days had more than one wife, and that the only reason Christians don't do that now is because society does not accept it. He told her that he and his wife only had sex once a year.
Claudia explained to Elder Venden that she thought they ought to just keep on with the "daddy" part, and leave out the sex part. She said that she was sure that God wouldn't want her to be without a daddy. Then Mr. Venden told her that, "Just as God does not want you to be without a daddy, He also does not want me to be without a wife." He then began kissing her.
He started having oral sex with her in his van. He also told her that if more ministers would fall into some sin such as adultery that then they would not be so "legalistic," and that it would cause them to have a more "humble" view of themselves.
He also told her that as long as she had a "relationship" with Jesus and kept talking to Him, that everything was all right and that she didn't have to worry about behavior.
At one point, Claudia told Mr. Venden that she was not going to see him anymore. He then told her a "story" about a girl that he was "crazy" about in college. She supposedly liked some guy named "Joe" better than she liked him, and so he got her into a lot of trouble. He also said that "Joe" was now "resting in peace." This frightened Claudia, as she wondered if Pastor Venden had meant that as a threat of some kind.
Claudia also remembered that recently her own father-in-law had shot and killed a woman because she refused to see him anymore and then he killed himself. This made her wonder if her own husband, Fred, was anything like his father and that he might hurt her if Pastor Venden did anything to let her husband find out.
Mrs. Burrow asked Mr. Venden to please destroy all of her letters that she had written to him, confiding in him all about her past history, because she didn't want anyone knowing the things that she had done before she became a Christian. The next time Venden saw her, he held up all of Claudia's letters and showed her that he was keeping them all. This made her feel very uncomfortable about Elder Venden.
Claudia began to wonder if perhaps God had sent her to Pastor Venden in order for her to help him. She thought that it was a sin to find out that someone was having problems and to just leave him like that-because of the Good Samaritan story. She did not want to "pass by on the other side." And so she felt it her responsibility to try and help him; but her good intentions never seemed to turn out right.
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--His Recreational Vehicle
In late October of 1986, Venden invited Claudia to "come along for the ride" in his recreational vehicle and they went to the park. At first he wanted to talk with her in the RV and then he wanted to take her to see the back of it, where the bed was.
Mrs. Burrow recalls that this time the pink quilt that he had usually kept in his van was now in his RV along with his pillow. During this time, approximately 3-4 hours was spent in the recreational vehicle; they had oral sex and also sexual intercourse for the first and last time. Elder Venden kept saying to her, "Beg me for it, baby." Venden also would never ejaculate, and he told her that as long as he didn't do that he considered that it was not really having sex with her. Elder Venden also manipulated something he referred to as the "G-spot" in Claudia's body; something she had never heard of before.
In the course of time, Claudia had to use the bathroom in the RV When she came out, there was sitting on the counter-top a briefcase with a small lens on the end of it. At this time, Elder Venden asked Claudia if she wanted to be a "Star." Claudia said "No!" This made her remember the first time that she had met Pastor Venden at the campmeeting when he had told her that, "He liked little girls, and he liked to take pictures of them." She wondered if these were the types of "pictures" that he had really been referring to at the campmeeting, without her realizing it
Next, Venden had Mrs. Burrow sit opposite of him with the camera still there and he asked her to play "follow the leader" with him and do whatever he showed her to do. He wanted her to sexually manipulate herself in front of him and also to touch her breasts. She tried to do this, but then told him that she felt ridiculous and stopped.]
Elder Venden told Claudia that she was never very cooperative. Then she asked him to please put the camera away and he replied, "Oh, you mean you thought I had it on?" He then put it in the cabinet.
After all this was over, Venden told Claudia that now that their curiosity was satisfied and they knew what "little boys and little girls do," that they would start "trying it her way" and just have the "daddy" part. He told her it was because he loved her. But then he added that he could not "guarantee" that they would not do this again, but that he would try to stop. He always prayed with Claudia after the immoral act.
Claudia gives the description of the inside of Pastor Venden's recreational vehicle as such:
(From Claudia's Book "Unrighteousness Uncovered")
The recreational vehicle was white with green stripes. It is rumored that Mr. Venden has gotten rid of it.
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Chapter 9 --His Theology Class
Pastor Venden invited Claudia to attend his theology class at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas. Claudia had a girl friend from her Church that was a student in Elder Venden's class, and so he had suggested that Claudia come to his class with her girl friend.
Mrs. Burrow did attend this class on the date of November 6, 1986.
Venden wanted her to come to the park with him before the class and he wanted to discuss with her the topic for the day, which was "Christian Growth." In his van at the park, he told her to meet him at the Church after class and when she saw his van go by she was to follow after him to the park. They had oral sex in his van before the class.
A couple of the comments that Mr. Venden made that day in the class when Claudia was there were that men in the Bible such as Peter fell into sin one minute and then were good the next, and this was just normal Christian growth. He also commented that he hated the way that his wife would call him "Morris," because he liked the name of "Morrie." He also said that he hated the way that she had made him take out the garbage and he looked at Claudia when he made this remark.
It was at this time that Claudia finally realized the horrible nature of this whole thing, and she wanted to stand up and tell those innocent students what a "phony" Venden was.
He did let out the class early that particular day; he did this in order to have time to spend with Claudia at the park. But he acted as if he didn't know her when she was in the class.
Mrs. Burrow told her girl friend that she had to hurry up and leave. Then she waited at the Church for Mr. Venden to come by, and accordingly she followed him to the park as he had instructed. When they went inside of his van at the park Pastor Venden held out his arm for Claudia to come and sit by him as he usually did. But this time Claudia refused to sit next to him.
She decided to try to see if Pastor Venden really was planning on staying there at Texas or if he had been misleading her all this time.
And so she asked him where he planned to go after he left the college there in Texas. Venden then replied that he would probably go back to La Sierra or Walla Walla. Claudia then told him that all he was doing was using her and that he would just tear her family apart and then leave and go on probably to do this with some other woman.
Next, Pastor Venden said that this did not mean that he did not love her. He also said that he hoped that this did not mean that she would stop coming to see him. He then said that he really had been planning to start having the right kind of relationship with her from now on.
This was the last time that Mrs. Burrow ever went to see Mr. Venden.
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Chapter 10 --Prevented From Obtaining More Evidence
Mrs. Burrow made a phone call to Pastor John Osborne in Florida to ask if Morris Venden taught the correct Righteousness by Faith message. This call was made in November 1986. She had been given cassette tapes of Pastor Osborne to hear on the subject of the two opposing views of Righteousness by Faith (one view, which she later learned was the Spirit of Prophecy view; and the other, which she read in Pastor Venden's books and had been taught by him), and this caused her to inquire about it.
During the course of her phone conversation with Pastor Osborne, Mrs. Burrow became emotionally unable to keep the whole situation of what had occurred between her and Pastor Venden concealed any longer. She began to confide in Pastor Osborne about it over the phone.
Pastor Osborne told her that she was absolutely not responsible for Mr. Venden and that she must never go to see him ever again. He also told her that she must not think that all Seventh-day Adventist ministers behaved in the way that Pastor Venden had done with her.
In reply to her question of whether or not Elder Venden taught the correct message, Osborne told her that someone had sent a list of 100 quotations from Ellen White which indicated that Elder Venden taught the exact opposite of what Ellen White did.
Osborne called again, telling Claudia that they had to put a stop to Venden. He said that she must first confess her sin to her husband. Pastor Osborne then told Claudia that she must try to make a recording of Venden, causing him to talk about his sin with Mrs. Burrow. Pastor Osborne warned her that if they did not get such evidence that the Conference would "sweep it under the rug" as usual.
At that time Claudia confessed to her husband. She first sat on top of him on the bed, just in case he might have been enraged and hurt her. Her husband said that he "had suspected this."
Claudia then made an appointment to see Venden, but wanted to make sure that such a procedure would not cause a calamity. And so she wrote to her Pastor and told him of their plans to record Venden and asked if it would be proper to do so.
Immediately, Mrs. Burrow's Pastor told Bill May, the Texas Conference President that he had better "do something about this before someone else did." He then mentioned something to him about Pastor John Osborne. Mrs. Burrow was unaware of this conversation at the time.
Immediately, Bill May informed Venden of the involvement of Pastor Osborne. Claudia received a very unexpected call from Venden. He asked what was "going on" with Osborne from Florida. Being unaware of the situation, Mrs. Burrow told Venden to call back later and she hung up the phone. Then Venden, not realizing that her husband was home, called back immediately. Claudia's husband answered and Venden quickly hung up.
And so the Conference President stopped the gaining of more evidence.
Osborne also had a friend call Claudia to obtain more information and he recorded this information by her consent. Pastor Osborne also told a man by the name of John Adam of the problem with Mrs. Burrow and Venden. Mr. Adam then asked Venden if it were true. Venden wrote a letter to Mr. Adam denying everything and saying that Mrs. Burrow was "under the influence."
Mr. Venden tried to set up a meeting to talk with John Adam, but Mr. Adam told him that after he took a lie-detector test he was then welcome to come and talk.
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Chapter 11 --First Meeting With Conference President
Near the end of November 1986, Mr. and Mrs. Burrow had a meeting with Elder Bill May, Texas Conference President, at the Texas Conference Youth Camp (Nameless Valley Ranch, near Leander, Texas). At this time, Mrs. Burrow related the facts to the Conference President. They spent 6 hours there.
At the end of this interview the Conference President said:
That it sounds like Venden is deep into pornography.
That he has always thought Venden to be too far "to the left" in his theology (too liberal) and that he had spoken about this to Venden a couple of times before.
That he thought of Venden as a son and that Venden calls him "Uncle Bill."
That he thought Venden was very talented. And that he thinks Venden should get into "evangelism."
That Venden claims that she (Mrs. Burrow) accused her local Pastor of the same thing that she accused Venden of. And that Venden claims that Mrs. Burrow had said this in her letters to Venden, but that "he was nice enough to destroy these letters."
The Conference President then asked Mrs. Burrow if she did in fact accuse her Pastor of this and Mrs. Burrow said, "No!" And then the Conference President said, "That is all I need to know." Elder Bill May is not at this time the Texas Conference President.
The Conference President then told Mr. and Mrs. Burrow that there was a man by the name of Dr. Robert Wilson who had the ability to catch Venden in a lie, and that he would contact this Dr. Wilson about it. The Conference President then persuaded Mr. and Mrs. Burrow to turn the whole thing over to the Conference and he also assured them that the Conference would deal with it.
The next four pages have a copy of the report of Bill May and Cyril Miller's conversation (Interview) with Pastor Venden. (Cyril Miller is the President of the Southwestern Union Conference, with headquarters in Burleson, Texas.)
Following this four-page Interview, is a record of some of the phone calls made by Pastor Morris Venden from his Church office to Mrs. Burrow's home, after the Conference President had told him to leave her alone. All of these phone records were not given to the Burrow's.
And after the phone bill records, you will find the four-page Summary which was composed by Dr. Robert A. Wilson who is the Researcher that was hired by the Texas Conference President to investigate the case. This Researcher gathered all information and evidence that was available at that particular time, and based his Summary upon that known information.
*These are actual Documents taken from Claudia's Book "Unrighteousness Uncovered"
The Researcher of the case, Dr. Robert Wilson, was never allowed to contact or talk to Pastor Venden. And he has not been given permission to talk to him to this day.
This Interview was not released to Mrs. Burrow. It was finally obtained for her by an Attorney in the Month of August, 1988.
Next we see some Phone Records that show pastor Venden's calls to Mrs. Burrow. Notice that these were made after the meeting in late September of 1986 when the Texas Conference President told him to leave her alone.
Mrs. Burrow's phone number is marked in the left-hand margin with the triple asterisk (***)
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Chapter 12 --More Meetings With Conference President
After the Summary was composed by the Researcher there were two separate meetings with the Conference President; one with the Researcher, Mr. and Mrs. Burrow and their local Pastor present, and the other meeting with just Mrs. Burrow and the Conference President alone.
At the first meeting Bill May, the Conference President, told Mrs. Burrow that if this case ever went to Church court the Church would have to stand behind Mrs. Burrow. He also told Mrs. Burrow that if she "orchestrated" this all over the place, then the Church couldn't guarantee her protection. Therefore, Claudia was prevented from seeking witnesses who saw her and Mr. Venden together.
At the second meeting, when only the Conference President and Mrs. Burrow were present, he (the Conference President) told Claudia that they should pray that Elder Venden turns around and starts having the relationship with God that he always preaches about. Elder May also had Claudia kneel and pray with him that God would turn Elder Venden around and have him start preaching the right message.
At the close of their visit, Elder May said that it is true that the Conference has covered up things before, but that in this particular case with Venden, they were just trying not to take things too fast. This particular meeting between Mrs. Burrow and the Conference President was around August of 1987.
And Elder May also reassured Claudia that she was not the one who was "troubling Israel," but that it was Mr. Venden who was doing that. He told Claudia that the fact that one of their ministers did this to her made him want to "throw up."
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Chapter 13 --The Polygraph Test
Mrs. Burrow became ill and started having fainting spells. She had to stay in the hospital and the doctor told her that she was under too much stress. When she left the hospital, Mrs. Burrow decided that a lot of her stress was due to wondering if people really believed that she was telling the truth about her sexual involvement with Mr. Venden, and so accordingly she decided to have a lie-detector test done.
When the Conference found out of her plan to have this test done, they suddenly said that they were going to withdraw the therapist, Dr. Wilson, away from her. But then Dr. Wilson had a talk with the Conference President and the Conference changed their mind and allowed Claudia to keep on with her therapy.
Elder May, the Conference President, told Claudia that even if the polygraph did not come out in her favor, that the Conference all believed her, and he wanted to know if she still had planned on taking the test. She said, "Yes."
Claudia suggested to the Conference by letter that they have Pastor Venden take a lie-detector test also, to prove his innocence. This Elder Venden refused to do. However, the Conference did not allow Claudia to find out about them requesting that Venden take the Polygraph test.
Mrs. Burrow's Polygraph came out indicative of no deception each of the six times that she allowed the test to be run.
The Polygraph Examiner (the person that gave the lie-detector test to Mrs. Burrow) has conducted over 14,000 Polygraph examinations and is Security Director for one of the largest sporting good chain stores in the country. She is also Chief Examiner for one of the largest commercial agencies in the State of Texas.
The Polygraph Examiner said that she would stand behind Mrs. Burrow if this case ever went to court.
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Chapter 14 --Plans For A Committee Meeting
Particular portions from the Spirit of Prophecy which specifically describes ministers who lead the members of their flock into sexual sin were brought to Mrs. Burrow's attention in the course of time, and she began to realize the seriousness of this situation. Two such chapters were Testimonies to Ministers, pages 426-428, and Testimonies, vol. 5, pages 137-148. At this time Mrs. Burrow and her husband began to request that the matter be taken to a committee for a hearing, in order that the interests of the Church be safeguarded.
Mr. and Mrs. Burrow received a letter dated September 21, 1987, from the Conference President. This letter stated that it was their desire to continue to support Pastor Venden and his ministry. The letter said that hearings of such magnitude could jeopardize the continued ministry of Mr. Venden.
But they said also that Mr. and Mrs. Burrow had the option of choosing to have a hearing at either the Keene Church where Venden was the pastor at that time, or at the Texas Executive Committee, where
Venden was a member of that committee.
Claudia replied to the Conference that she had decided to have the meeting at the Texas Executive Committee. And then the Conference President told her that they were not trying to prevent a meeting, but that they just wanted "not to rush into it." He also told her that they decided it would be good to have a meeting, anyway. And so the meeting was set for October 22, 1987, at the Texas Conference Building.
On September 28, 1987, Mr. and Mrs. Burrow received a visit from Mrs. Evadeane Peters, the woman whom Pastor Venden had introduced Mrs. Burrow to at the campmeeting at Nameless Valley. Mrs. Peters was a member of the Texas Executive Committee, and she had been informed of the meeting that was to be held concerning this matter.
Mrs. Peters spent some 30 minutes trying to discourage the Burrows from having this meeting. She said that at the campmeeting Claudia had struck her as a sweet, vulnerable little woman, and that she didn't want to see her get hurt by having this meeting. She also said that Claudia did not stand a chance with this committee because they would all be biased and that 75 percent of them would probably not believe her. She told Claudia that almost all of the people on the committee were men and that it would be an awful experience for Mrs. Burrow to have to go through.
Mrs. Peters had obtained permission from the Union President (Cyril Miller) to make this visit to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Burrow, and he gave Mrs. Peters their address and phone number.
Trying to obtain the Church phone bills
Mr. and Mrs. Burrow decided that in order to properly present their case to the committee they needed to obtain the Church phone bills for evidence. These particular phone bills, from the Church where Venden was the pastor, would show that:
1. Venden kept calling Mrs. Burrow after the Conference President ordered him not to contact her anymore.
2. Venden always called when Mr. Burrow was not home. This is shown by comparing Mr. Venden's phone records with Mr. Burrow's work shift, which changes every month.
3. That Venden would call Mrs. Burrow and then have her call him back, and then they would talk 50 or so minutes at a time.
Mr. and Mrs. Burrow had great difficulty in seeking to obtain these phone records for evidence. They were told by Elder May to get them from the Church Administrator. Then the administrator told them that he was not authorized to give them to "just anybody."
Ultimately, Pastor Venden refused to let these phone records be released because he claimed they were "confidential." And so, this evidence was withheld from the committee. Only the phone records for October 1986 were obtained by the Burrow's.
Orders to make an outline
Rex Bell, the Conference President's Secretary, placed calls to Mrs. Burrow just prior to the committee meeting. He asked her to turn in an outline of all that she planned on saying at the meeting, and to please do it quickly.
He told her that it was customary for the committee members to get an outline so that they could follow along with it at the meeting. He also told her that probably Pastor Venden himself would receive her outline of all that she was going to say, because he was a member of the committee too.
Claudia asked Rex Bell why it was that out of fairness, she was not going to be allowed to know everything that Pastor Venden was going to say at the meeting. Mr. Bell replied that he was so sorry and that it must all be very hard on her, but that she would not be allowed to know what Venden would say.
The order of the meeting
Mr. and Mrs. Burrow had received the impression that they were going to be allowed to face Mr. Venden and defend themselves against whatever it was that he was going to say. But just before the meeting someone informed them that they would have to go in one at a time and give their testimony, and that they would not be allowed to hear each other's words.
Mrs. Burrow requested to be able to hear Venden's accusations against her, that she might be able to prove that they were false. But she did not get this privilege.
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Chapter 15 --The Committee Meeting
Date: October 22, 1987; approximately 230 P.M.
Committee members had been having a meeting there since early morning.
There were a good number of Union people present. Among those attending were:
Names with an asterisk (*) indicates Union or Conference
Names with a cross (+) indicates Pastors
*Bill May, Texas Conference President
*Cyril Miller, Southwestern Union President
*Rex Bell, Texas Conference President's Secretary
*W.C. Jones Jr.
Dr. Gerald Mitchell
Dr. George Saxon
Note: Robert Dale, the North American Division Secretary and Floyd Bresee, the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference also attended as observers.
Dr. Robert A. Wilson, Researcher of the case, attended the meeting. And so did Mr. and Mrs. Burrow and their Pastor, Ernest Dobkins.
Morris Venden is a member of this same committee, and he did also of course attend.
Order of testimony: Dr. Robert Wilson, Researcher; Pastor Ernest Dobkins; Mrs. Claudia Burrow; Morris Venden.
Dr. Robert Wilson:
1. Had his Summary read to the committee.
2. Told the committee that Mrs. Burrow possessed an I.Q. of Superior to Brilliant range.
3. Said that Claudia was educated, but not the way that we would normally think of.
4. Told the committee about a short series of booklets which Mrs. Burrow had written, which were given to the Conference President to analyze by a much-educated theologian. Dr. Wilson, Elder May, and Elder Bresee, the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference, all agreed that these booklets were theologically correct. Dr. Wilson said that he used some of Mrs. Burrow's material in his sermons.
5. When asked by the committee if he thought that Pastor Venden was guilty of sexual involvement with Mrs. Burrow, Dr. Wilson replied, "I won't say he is guilty; but he sure ain't innocent." Dr. Wilson also said that all you had to do was to observe Mr. Venden's behavior (his evasiveness) to decide whether or not he is guilty.
6. Dr. Wilson said, "I in no way found Claudia to be inconsistent or utilizing fantasy-type statements. Simply put: no one has proven her wrong, and no one has proven Mr. Venden right."
7. Dr. Wilson said, "Internal consistency is the basis of validity in any good research. Claudia's letters, tapes, different interviews, polygraphology, 4 lawyers statements, different Pastors who interviewed her-all are consistent in both the content of her statements and in her stable behavior."
8. Dr. Wilson said, "They simply said: "We take sides, and we like Morrie better than this little parishioner."
Pastor Ernest Dobkins:
1. Gave a very strong testimony on Claudia's behalf
2. Said that he believed Claudia was telling the truth.
3. Said that he refuses to buy anymore of Venden's tapes or books.
4. Said that Pastor Venden was guilty.
5. Told the committee about how he had made an agreement with the Conference President that if Venden continued to see Claudia after Elder May warned him not to, that this would be a sure sign that they were sexually involved.
6. When Jim Gilley asked Pastor Dobkins if he was sure that Venden understood that he was not to see Claudia anymore, Bill May, the Conference President replied that he made very sure that Venden understood very well and he had talked to him twice about it.
7. Said that Pastor Venden ought to be removed from the ministry.
Mrs. Claudia Burrow:
The first thing Claudia noticed when she entered the room was that none of the committee members had a copy of the outline that Rex Bell had made her send in. They never did receive the outline. She is not sure however, if Mr. Venden received his copy.
Before Claudia began her testimony, the Conference President attempted to make her agree that she would accept whatever decision the committee made, and not take the matter any further. Her reply was that her conscience would not allow her to do such a thing, because she must leave room for the Holy Spirit to direct her. She also said that no committee is infallible. She also explained during the meeting that before it began Mrs. Peters had assured her that this committee would be very biased, and so, of course, it would be foolish to agree to submit to any decision they would make.
Claudia went through her testimony of what had happened between her and Mr. Venden, and it was extremely difficult for her to refrain from crying. She did cry and feels very embarrassed for doing so.
She tried to tell the committee what evidence they did have and told them that they could not get all of the phone bills. She passed out a copy of her Polygraph Test to all of the members and had someone read it. She then took it back up, and Elder Bill May said that he was going to suggest that she do that. (The committee members were not allowed to keep it.)
Mrs. Burrow was quite disturbed because the Conference and Union Presidents (Bill May and Cyril Miller) had talked quite loudly throughout her entire testimony. The committee members had to keep telling them to please be quiet. Claudia had wanted the Holy Spirit to be able to make a serious impression upon everyone there.
At one point during her testimony, Ben Leach (a former Union President) rose up and walked over to the Conference President and asked, "When are you going to shut that girl up?" Elder May answered, "When she gets through."
*Mrs. Burrow submitted to the answering of questions extensively after her testimony.
Elder Floyd Bresee, the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference, made the comment that Claudia "knew too much to be making this up." And one of the committee members told Mr. and Mrs. Burrow's Pastor that he did not see how Venden could possibly get out of this, with all the things that Claudia had said.
Pastor Morris Venden:
All of the committee members had been waiting all day to hear what Elder Venden had to say. Venden came in and said that he "did not wish to discuss any moral issues."
The committee tried very hard to get him to answer questions, but he refused. He claimed that he did not realize that this was expected of him. Then Elder May said that he knew very well what to expect, because he himself told him what would happen at the meeting.
*The committee was very upset that Venden refused to talk.
Mrs. Burrow was told after the meeting by someone that Venden was counseled by Union Officials not to talk and to just "sandbag" the whole thing.
Pastor Venden just handed everyone a letter which he had composed before the meeting and they were allowed to keep this letter and take it home with them.
Mr. Venden's letter is on the next two pages, and following Venden's letter is the Final Report given by the Texas Executive Committee about the meeting:
Mrs. Burrow was upset after the meeting. The Conference President only told her that Elder Venden asked if he could attach a "little statement" to the Final Report (the above letter). It was not until 5 months later that Claudia was given a copy of this letter- by one of the committee members. This letter has since been passed around all over America to various Church Workers, and yet for 5 months she wasn't even aware of what was said.
NOTE: When Dr. Robert Wilson, the Researcher of the case was questioned about the above statement: "not evidence to support the allegations made," he replied, "There was strong evidence, very strong evidence." (This "Officer's Statement" which Venden referred to in his letter above was made on December 5, 1986)
NOTE: After the meeting was over, Elder May called Mrs. Burrow and told her that she had done "extremely well" with her testimony. He also told her that the committee members were astonished because they had earlier been given the impression that there was nothing to her story. And now the majority of them believed her.
NOTE: Dr. Robert Wilson (the Researcher) disagrees with the Final Report where it says that there is not "sufficient evidence." He says that Mrs. Burrow had very much evidence, credible evidence.
NOTE: Elder Floyd Bresee (Ministerial Secretary for the General Conference) stated at the meeting that it was not true that Mrs. Burrow did not have enough evidence.
NOTE: The Interview between Venden and the Conference and Union Presidents was withheld from the committee.
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Chapter 16 --The List Of Evidence And Facts
The following is a list of some of the evidence and facts, which can be considered as evidence in support of Mrs. Burrow's accusation against Morris Venden:
The symbol of "*" indicates evidence which was known at the time of the first committee meeting held on October 22, 1987.
*1. Mrs. Burrow can describe the fact that Venden's penis is unusually circumcised.
2. When asked what he had to say about the fact that Mrs. Burrow could describe the fact that Venden's penis was unusually circumcised, Elder Venden's only reply was, "Do you know her background?"
3. Venden was asked by the Conference President to submit to a lie-detector test to prove his innocence, and he refused. (See John 3:20).
* 4. Venden admits to privately seeing and talking to Mrs. Burrow after the Conference President told him not to have any more contact with her.
5. The Polygraph Examiner said that she would stand behind Claudia if this case ever went to court. She has done over 14,000 polygraph tests and she is expert at determining if a person is telling the truth.
* 6. Mrs. Burrow took a Polygraph Test 6 times and each one indicated that she was telling the truth about Venden's sexual involvement with her.
* 7. Mrs. Burrow knows that Venden mentions in his book, How to Make Christianity Real, the fact that he had a problem with a certain "sin of the flesh" and that this temptation would come on when he was taking a drive, and that this particular "sin" was in wanting to stop at convenience stores to purchase pornography magazines. (Venden himself told her so).
* 8. Mrs. Burrow can describe the insides of all three of Venden's vehicles-his van, his car, and his Recreational Vehicle.
9. When asked to reply to the fact that Mrs. Burrow could describe the insides of all three of his vehicles Venden's only reply was that he did not lock them.
* 10. Venden refused to cooperate at all with the Executive Committee even after much urging. He was evasive.
11. Venden refused to hand over the Church phone bills which were important evidence to clear him Mrs. Burrow was wrong.
12. Venden had Mrs. Burrow stay in the room next to his at the Conference campmeeting. There are witnesses to that fact.
13. There is a picture of Venden with his arm around Claudia and the man, Buddy Bell, who took this picture remembers that Venden said that he had "adopted" her.
* 14. The Researcher of the case states that there is evidence of definite unorthodox procedure is Venden's counseling process with Mrs. Burrow.
* 15. Mrs. Burrow wrote a short series of booklets on Righteousness by Faith which were checked-over by a well-educated theologian and pronounced as something that "every serious Adventist Christian should read." This indicates that Mrs. Burrow is not a person who is "under the influence," as Venden claims.
* 16. Venden absolutely refused to answer questions at the Executive Committee meeting. He did not want to be open.
17. Venden admitted to telephoning Mrs. Burrow right up to the time of the interview with the Conference and Union President, even though he had been told not to contact her.
* 18. Mrs. Burrow can describe Venden's body and underclothing in some detail.
19. Venden admits that some of his calls to Claudia lasted some 30-40-50 minutes.
20. People have been calling in and saying that Venden is into pornography.
* 21. Venden admits to going out to eat with Claudia "once or twice."
* 22. Venden refuses to answer the question when asked as to where he met with her when he counseled her. He claimed it "was irrelevant."
23. Claudia's husband saw all different signs of an affair during the time in which his wife was seeing Venden.
* 24. Venden admits owning a portable video recorder which Mrs. Burrow says that he used to try to take lewd pictures of her with. She can describe it accurately.
* 25. Mrs. Burrow was not hesitant to answer all of the Committee's questions. She was very open. The Conference President said afterward that she did an excellent job.
* 26. Mrs. Burrow's Husband believes that she is telling the truth; her Pastor believes that she is telling the truth: and the Investigator of the case (her Therapist) believes that she is telling the truth. (The Investigator states that Claudia is more open with him than anyone else in the denomination, and he is a denominational Counselor).
* 27. Venden claims that Claudia is "under the influence." But the Researcher of the case who also has been her Counselor for over two years states that Claudia shows absolutely no sign of being under the influence of any drug, alcohol, etc.
28. A committee of three was afterward sent by the General Conference to talk some 5 hours with Claudia and her husband. They all believed that she was telling the truth. On their report to Neal Wilson it said, "It is impossible to disbelieve her story." This Committee also said that Mrs. Burrow had credible evidence to prove her story.
* 29. Certain cassette tapes were recorded of Mrs. Burrow, telling what happened, and these same tapes were confiscated by the Conference for investigation. The tapes were consistent with her other statements. The Researcher states that Mrs. Burrow has given a consistent statement of what happened for over two years now, and that this is the basis for validity in any good research.
30. Mrs. Burrow is willing to take a sworn-deposition in court if necessary to verify her statements. She is willing to be cross- examined by any qualified group.
31. Mrs. Burrow has been told by several people that Venden has marriage problems. Also, in some of Venden's sermons and even in his Theology class, he has made mention of his problems with his wife.
* 32. Venden admits that his van is customized on the inside as Mrs. Burrow describes it.
* 33. Venden admits to owning a Recreational Vehicle, which Mrs. Burrow can describe in detail.
34. Mrs. Burrow has been told that Venden has gotten rid of his Recreational Vehicle.
* 35. Venden admits to having a "secret phone signal" with Mrs. Burrow.
* 36. Venden admits to talking with Mrs. Burrow when her husband was not at home.
* 37. Venden admits to talking with Mrs. Burrow and spending time with her.
* 38. Claudia can describe the fact that Venden sexually manipulates himself in the shower.
* 39. Venden told Mrs. Burrow that he learned about "masturbation" when he was a young boy in the bathtub. He also told her that his parents had made him believe that if he did that to himself he would go crazy. And so, as a boy, Venden had the idea that if he ejaculated, that was what it felt like to go crazy.
40. When asked if he had written to anyone about Mrs. Burrow, stating that she was "under the influence," Venden denied it. Then when confronted by the fact that John Adam had a letter which Venden had written to him saying that Mrs. Burrow was "under the influence," Venden said, "Oh, I forgot!"
* 41. Mrs. Burrow has many letters which she had written to her local Pastor during her relationship with Venden. Altogether, it was something of a "diary." The Researcher of the case went through these letters, and stated that they were internally consistent. He also went through and marked the places that showed the validity of Mrs. Burrow's accusations against Venden.
* 42. Venden refused to talk to this Investigator of the case, who had been hired by the Texas Conference to research out the entire matter. He has never talked to the Researcher.
* 43. Mrs. Burrow's Husband has an employment time schedule log book which, when compared with Venden's Church phone bills, show that Venden never called when Mrs. Burrow's husband was at home. This is especially conspicuous because her husband changes shifts each month. But the committee was never allowed to see Venden's phone bills.
44.Venden had Mrs. Burrow meet with him both before and after his Theology class, even after the Conference President told him to leave her alone. Venden admits to meeting with her both before and after class after receiving the warning.
45.Venden admits that Mrs. Burrow sat in his Theology class after he was told to have no more contact with her.
46.Mrs. Burrow says that Venden wanted to meet with her at the park after class. Venden admits closing class early that day.
* 47. Venden claims that Mrs. Burrow is "schitzo" and that she "fantasized" the whole sexual involvement with him. The Researcher of the case, who is also her Therapist, states that she shows no indication of being "schitzo" or of using any fantasy-type statements.
48.The Conference President told Mrs. Burrow that the Conference all believed that she was telling the truth about her sexual involvement with Venden.
49.The Conference President told Mrs. Burrow that the Executive Committee members were convinced that she was telling the truth.
50.After the Executive Committee meeting was all over with, a member of the Executive Committee had told several persons that there were other women who had been saying that when they had gone to see Venden for "Counseling," that all he wanted to talk about was sex.
* 51. Mrs. Burrow could have made a recording of Venden talking to her about their sexual involvement, but she was stopped by the Conference President from obtaining the recording.
* 52. Venden claims that some "mastermind" is behind this "conspiracy" against him to destroy his ministry. The Researcher of the case states that there is absolutely no evidence of any such "conspiracy."
53.Mrs. Burrow was prevented from going to get witnesses who saw her and Mr. Venden together the park, such as policemen and park attendants. The Conference President had told her that she could not "orchestrate" the matter, and thus she could not go and ask if they had remembered seeing them there at the park.
54.People began to call in when they heard of the case, and said that they had seen Mrs. Burrow's following behind Venden's vehicles at the park. A sixteen year-old boy also saw them together the park.
* 55. Venden gave a veiled threat of a character defamation suit, although going to law against by brethren is forbidden by the Bible.
* 56. Venden stated in his letter to the committee that Mrs. Burrow was "under the influence" when she wrote a "letter" to her Pastor, telling him that she and Venden were sexually involved. This indicates deception by Venden in saying this, for, unknown to him, Mrs. Burrow wrote many letters to her Pastor telling him what was happening between her and Venden. She could not have been "under the influence" for 6 months. And her story has been, and remains to day, consistently the same.
57. Mrs. Burrow's former Pastor was secretly asked by the Conference officials if he thought Claudia was honest. This former Pastor told them that he knew Claudia well, and that she was a fine Christian lady who studies the Bible a lot and that he just could not imagine her telling a lie about something like this.
58.Mrs. Burrow, wanting to check to see if she did have enough evidence to prove her case, we see four different lawyers. Two of them were non-Adventist and two were Adventists. All four of them said that she had "sufficient evidence" to prove it in a court of law.
59. An Adventist lawyer that Claudia talked to and gave all her material to, said that there was en to remove Venden from the ministry according to Church Policy.
60.One Adventist lawyer told Mrs. Burrow that she and her Polygraph Test were the "two witnesses" that the Conference claimed they needed. There was no reason, he said, to discount her as one witness, and he said that her polygraph should count as the second witness, also.
61. An Adventist lawyer told Claudia that the vaunted claim that it is just "her word against Venden's" is simply not true, for she has corroborative evidence to back up what she says, while Venden only has his word, which is confused with no supporting evidence.
62. The Researcher says that thus far, no one has ever proven false anything that Mrs. Burrow has said. And no one has ever proven correct anything that Venden has said in his denials.
63. A women who works at the Adventist Book Store in Keene would wave at Mrs. Burrow when she would pull in the parking lot to wait for Venden to come by. This woman at the Book Store knew Claudia as a friend of someone whom she knew at Claudia's local Church.
64. Regarding Elder Venden's personal appearance beneath his clothing, he has a lot of gray hair on his chest.
65. Venden told Claudia that he had a book that told of over 100 sexual positions.
66. Mrs. Burrow has in her files copies of letters signed by Venden concerning two well-known Seventh-day Adventists, in the first letter of which he makes a false statement relative to these persons, and, in the second letter, he admits that his earlier signed statement was false. This reveals that the man is well able to make statements which he knows to be false.
67. Mrs. Burrow asked Pastor Venden if he had ever done this sort of sexual thing with other women, as he had been doing with her. His reply was that he had met a school teacher once at a camp-meeting and as they got to know each other, they began talking about the Spirit of Prophecy over the phone, and later they met together and just did some "hugging and kissing."
Mr. Burrow challenges Mr. Venden to be as open and honest as his wife has been and to take a lie-detector test to prove his innocence.
Mr. Burrow also challenges Mr. Venden to submit to the answering of questions as his wife has done with the Committee, the Researcher, and the Committee of Three which were later sent to their home by the General Conference.
NOTE: It is interesting that the files concerning this case have been removed from the Texas Conference Office.
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Chapter 17 --"Two Witnesses"
The reason given by the Conference that there was "not enough evidence," was a Bible text:
"Against an Elder receive not an accusation but before two witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may fear." 1 Timothy 5:19, 20.
Bible Study (comparing Scripture with Scripture)
Comments by Ellen White on Numbers 35:30 (a murderer can only be put to death by the mouth of more than one "witness.")
"One man's views and opinions are not to settle disputed questions. In all these matters two or more are to be associated, and together they are to bear the responsibility, 'that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' Matthew 18:16." Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 515, 516.
The above statement indicates that when a case comes up in considering the wrong act of someone, then there must be more than one person on the "committee" to decide the case. Because Sister White says, "One man's views and opinions are not to settle disputed questions. In all these matters two or more are to be associated."
A number of people believe that is the correct meaning of Patriarchs and Prophets, 515, 516. That is why the Bible says, "Against an elder receive not an accusation but before (except in front of) two or three witnesses (hearers of the case)." In other words, there needs to be more than one "witness" of what is said for a fair hearing.
In contrast, the Conference is of the opinion that this means there must be two witnesses who saw the accused commit the wrong act or else you are not to listen to the accusation.
This is the opposing view.
The Texas Executive Committee was informed by the Union Officials that there must be "two witnesses" that saw Mrs. Burrow at the park with Venden. After the meeting, people called saying that they had seen them together at the park. Now the Conference says that there has to be "two witnesses" who actually saw Mrs. Burrow and Venden commit the immoral sexual act.
George Saxon, a member of the Committee, had a conversation with Mrs. Burrow over the phone. He said that he was frustrated with the fact that they had this cast-iron rule of "two witnesses." Therefore, there was really no need to even have a Committee meeting on this, because the decision was already made-the Leaders already had their minds made up before they got there.
After the first Committee Meeting, Mrs. Burrow went to see a non-Adventist lawyer, just to find out if she did have enough evidence. The lawyer said that she did.
When Claudia told him about their "two witness" rule, he began to laugh, said it was ridiculous, and told her that the two witnesses in a case of adultery are her and the man she did it with, and of course, he is not talking.
Also, the Conference said that she must have "hard evidence." But Mrs. Burrow was told by an Attorney that you only need "hard evidence" in a criminal case, which this is not. And the Conference President put a stop to it when she did try to get a recording of Venden, so she could get "hard evidence." And they stopped it when she wanted to interview people who knew something of what had happened.
Also the Conference said that Venden must admit to his sin before they can be sure he did it. But Mrs. Burrow thinks that he never will, as long as he is not made to be responsible for his actions and answer any questions or even be made to face this matter in any way.
Mrs. Burrow also believes that if they prefer to stick with all these legal terms, and claim to do things such as in a court trial, then in all fairness, they ought to make Mr. Venden face a cross-examination with questions, just as would be done in a court trial. At least let them be consistent.
It has been verified that Cyril Miller, Union President; Ben Leach, former Union President; Jim Gilley, Committee Member and Max Trevino, Union Officer; were the four who argued that there was "not enough evidence" at the Committee Meeting that was held concerning the case of Pastor Morris Venden and Mrs. Burrow.
But the next page tells what an Adventist lawyer has to say:
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Chapter 18 --Plans For A Second Committee Meeting
Official NAD (North American Division) Policy
"If the standing of any holder of credentials is brought Into uncertainty, it is the duty of the union conference to join the local conference in conferring, with a purpose to clear away any uncertainty, in order that no reproach or shadow may be left to rest upon all the credentials held by the ministry. Where the matters involved are of such a character that the union and local conference committee are unable to resolve the difficulty and announce to all a clear record for the ministry, the matter must of necessity be appealed to the General Conference, by action of both local and union conferences together, or by action of one body separately, inasmuch as any uncertainty in the matter of what ministerial credentials stand for in one field casts a shadow upon all credentials and is a matter of general denominational concern." -North American Division working policy 1987-1988; L 70 10, page 290.
The above rule of action was brought to Mr. and Mrs. Burrow's attention, and accordingly they then brought it to the attention of the Texas Conference Office and the Texas Executive Committee. The Burrow's requested that this matter about Venden be taken before this same Committee (The Texas Executive Committee) to be discussed, because of the list of "Grave Reservations" which the committee had placed upon the "Final Report" of their first meeting (see copy of official report on page 35).
They had these "uncertainties" or "reservations" in their official report about Morris Venden, and so it was their definite duty, according to the North American Division Church policy, to either clear up these uncertainties or else send the matter to the General Conference. Because, in fact, if they did not do this, they would, in effect, be giving permission to every Seventh-day Adventist minister to be-have in the same manner as Elder Venden has done, without fear of punishment or loss of job. And therefore, a "reproach or shadow" would be left upon all of our Seventh-day Adventist Pastors, and upon the Church itself.
*Because of this request made by the Burrow's, plans were made for a second Texas Executive Committee meeting for this specific purpose.
Offering more information to the committee
By this time, Mrs. Burrow had found Proverbs 18:13 in the Bible. "What a shame-yes how stupid! to decide before knowing the facts!"
And since there was to be another Committee Meeting, she thought that it would be well to offer the facts and evidences that had surfaced after the first meeting was over. This is the listing of facts found in Chapter 16 of this book, which are not marked with the "*" symbol.
And so, accordingly, Mrs. Burrow wrote to the Conference and to the members of the Executive Committee and offered to send this information before the meeting took place.
But then, just a couple of days later, she received a letter in reply from the Texas Conference President, telling her to stop "orchestrating" the matter and writing these letters, because doing this made some feel that she was "unstable."
The Conference President also said in his letter that she should stop doing this because she was "enlarging the circle" by writing these letters. But Mrs. Burrow could not understand why it was wrong to write to the same Committee that had already heard her previous testimony and offer more information. In what way was she "enlarging the circle"?
Some of the Committee Members then wrote, or called, Mrs. Burrow and asked for this information she had offered. But she had to tell them that she was sorry that she was not allowed to give it to them.
One of the Committee Members then told a certain Conference Official that some of the Committee Members were afraid to ask for Mrs. Burrow's information because they might get in trouble for having received any of this information-and still not be able to do anything about the whole thing. Their hands were tied.
On the next page is the Texas Conference President's letter to Claudia, telling her not to write these letters to the Committee:
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Chapter 19 --The Second Committee Meeting
Elder Neal C. Wilson, President of the General Conference, had told the Conference that the Final Report (see Chapter 15) just did not "add up" because they claimed to support Venden, while at the same time they had a list of "Grave Reservations" against him.
Mr. and Mrs. Burrow requested to be at this second committee meeting in order that they might give more information. The Conference President told them that it was up to the Committee Members and that he would ask them if it was all right.
Some of the Committee Members felt that it was so long since they had the last meeting, that they needed Mrs. Claudia Burrow there in order to have her refresh their memories about various details.
The Conference President also told the Burrows that Dr. Wilson, the Researcher, Elder Bresee; and Elder Dale from the General Conference would be there again to oversee the meeting.
The Conference President also told Mrs. Burrow's Pastor that this time if Venden refused to talk, he would be "out."
This second meeting was held in April, 1988.
Elder Charles Bradford of the General Conference had called the Texas Conference President and told him to either find Venden guilty or else send him to California. But if they just sent him to California, the NAD Policy (North American Division Policy, quoted in Chapter 18) would be "passed over" and ignored.
Morris Venden's wife had gone up to talk to Charles Bradford. It is not known what she said. But Bradford had said before that he would make sure that Venden did not "lose his job over this."
Mr. and Mrs. Burrow never received any word about whether or not they could attend the meeting, and so the meeting was held without their being present. The Researcher and the two men from the General Conference did not attend either. And neither did Venden.
And the additional information was never given to the committee so that they could make a well-informed decision.
The Committee Members were told that Venden's brother in California (Louis Venden, Senior Pastor of the Loma Linda University Church) just wanted to "get Morris out of a situation which he could not get himself out of." And the best way to do that was to get him out of Texas.
They just wanted to send him to California to be a "Revivalist." They just wanted to "put this behind us-because it was too unpleasant-and finish the work." And so Venden was released to go to California. In this way, it was felt the work could be finished.
The Committee was never presented with all of Mrs. Burrow's evidence. But, on their second "Final Report," they just turned it upside-down and wrote that they supported him-on the top, and wrote the "Grave Reservations" on the bottom. (On their first report-in Chapter 15-they wrote the "Grave Reservations" on top and the "support" on the bottom.) They put that there was not enough evidence, though they were never permitted to receive all of the evidence.
Mr. and Mrs. Burrow; the Researcher, and Elder Bresee, the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference, were not given a copy of this Final Report, even though the Conference President told Mrs. Burrow that he would send a copy to them.
"Union and local conferences share the responsibility for safeguarding the integrity of the ministry and are required by denominational action and practice to assure that credentials issued within their respective territories shall indeed certify that the holders are in good and unquestioned standing, properly subject to invitation to any other field of service."-North American Division working policy; L 7005 page 290.
Elder Venden was personally invited at that time by the President of the Conference in Southeastern California to be a "Conference Revivalist." But, according to the NAD policy, he was not in "good and unquestioned standing."
Below is a copy of the second Final Report of the Texas Executive Committee:
NOTE: This is the second Final Report of the Committee.
NOTE: On the date of April 28 1988 Elder Venden still is regarded as if he has a "good standing" record, and is allowed to be called anywhere. No reprimand; his credentials still regarded as "pure"; and his books still on the shelves of the Adventist Book Centers.
NOTE: Instead of solving the problem Elder Venden was just sent to another Conference. Since, according to his own statement, he did all right in Texas, he can be probably expected to do the same thing in California.
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Chapter 20 --The Advice Given To The Burrows
Several people told the Burrows that they were very naive and that the only way to get any results from the Conference would be to threaten a lawsuit. Mr. and Mrs. Burrow always opposed the idea of going to court, because the Bible says not to do so.
On February 8, 1988, Dr. Wilson, the Researcher, had written a letter to Elder Neal C. Wilson which said, "May I reiterate, Neal, she (Claudia) or her husband at no time have even suggested a suit against the Church or Venden."
But finally the Burrows decided that they should listen to the advice of their brethren and threaten to sue. And so Mr. Burrow wrote Neal Wilson a letter dated: July 15, 1988, in which he did threaten to sue if they did not get any reply to their requests to have the matter taken to the General Conference.
Then the Burrows received a call from the North American Division Secretary, Robert Dale, at which time Elder Dale told the Burrows that the Conference refused to work "under threats." And he said that if they withdraw their threat of a lawsuit, then the Conference would see that they could do. He said they could re-issue the threat later (and laughed.)
And so Mr. Burrow sent a letter dated July 20, 1988, to Neal Wilson in which he said that he was sorry that he had come across so "rough" in his letter of July 15. (The Burrows later realized that the brethren were trying to get them to wait, since the statute of limitations would run out on November 6, 1988-and after that they could not sue. But before it ran out they decided not to sue anyway, and write this book instead.)
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Chapter 21 --The Committee Of Three
On the date of September 11, 1988, Elder Neal Wilson had a Committee made up of three individuals sent to the home of the Burrows to "comfort" them.
*Winston Clark, the Secretary of Elder N.C. Wilson, told Mrs. Burrow not to tell anyone that these three people were coming to their home.
The three people who were sent were these: Elder Warren Banfield, Director of Human Relations at the General Conference; Dr. Charles E. Wittschiebe, retired Professor of Pastoral Care (Emeritus) Andrews University; and Mrs. Hedwig Jemison, retired Director of the Ellen G. White vault at Andrews University.
The committee stayed a total of about 5 hours at the home of the Burrows asking various questions and hearing the account of what had happened.
This Committee was chosen by Neal C. Wilson. It was the very first time that anyone had ever been sent to the home of the Burrows about this matter. Mr. and Mrs. Burrow stated that these 3 people seemed genuinely concerned, and were kind, warm Christian souls.
Questions and comments
The following questions and comments were made by the three individuals sent to counsel with Mr. and Mrs. Burrow:
1. Could hardly comprehend that the Conference President had said that it sounded like Venden was "deep into pornography" and yet hadn't done anything about it.
2. Could hardly believe that it had gone on for two years without it being dealt with.
3. Said that Neal had only given the "go ahead" for them to talk to Mrs. Burrow, but not to anyone else, such as Venden, until he gave the okay to do so.
4. Said that it was made a lot harder for Neal Wilson to deal with this, by moving Venden to California.
5. Said that Venden didn't need to be counseling anybody if he is having such problems himself.
6. Said that it was impressive that Mrs. Burrow was obviously concerned for the welfare of the Church and not out to get vengeance.
7. Asked Mrs. Burrow if she were willing to be disfellowshipped from the Church over this; she said Yes.
8. Asked if Mrs. Burrow still attended Church; she said that she has a hard time facing it and goes when she can get courage to do so.
1. Said that it was really something to have their Pastor behind them.
1. Asked who does Venden think he is calling Mrs. Burrow a "schitzo?" He is not qualified to make a judgment like that.
2. Said that Venden violated the confidential relationship with his wife by telling Mrs. Burrow that his wife only had sexual relations with him once a year.
3. Said that because Mrs. Burrow did those things with Venden does not mean that she is "stupid," it only means that she is very naive. (He said this because Mrs. Burrow is having a hard time with her self-image since this happened to her.)
4. Said that if Venden were innocent, he could have "put Mrs. Burrow in the dirt" by facing her with it, and then said, "Now, why hasn't he done that?"
5. Mr. and Mrs. Burrow had told them that a very prominent Adventist minister had told them that Venden ought to be mopping floors in a hospital, and Dr. Wittschiebe said, "Yeah, in a men's ward."
6. Said that the Burrows had really been studying the Spirit of Prophecy a lot and that it was really impressive.
7. When Mr. and Mrs. Burrow read to them the Interview between Venden and the Union and Conference Presidents, (in Chapter 11) he said that it sounded like Venden was arrogant.
8. Thought that Mr. and Mrs. Burrow ought to be allowed to meet Venden face to face.
9.Said that Mr. Burrow had been out a lot of money on the phone calls made when he thought Venden was "counseling" his wife.
10. Said that he couldn't understand how they could send Venden to California with a "good-standing record."
11. Said that Max Corbett's letter (the Attorney's letter to Neal C. Wilson, in Chapter 17) was a most valuable asset.
12. Said that he could not see why they didn't even put Venden's name on the Interview (Chapter 11) or make him answer any real questions.
13. When the Burrows began talking about all the ways that the Conference had handled the situation, he said that it "looks like we are walking into a real swamp!"
14. Said to Mr. and Mrs. Burrow to be sure that they always made it clear that they kept all copies and records and documents concerning this thing because they were forced into keeping such records by the way it was handled, and not because they were sitting around being "out to get" anyone.
The things that Mrs. Burrow sent home with the committee
1. Copy of polygraph examination (Chapter 13)
2. Max Corbett's letter to Neal Wilson (attorney's letter- Chapter 17)
3. List of evidence (Chapter 16)
4. Venden's letter to the committee (Chapter 15)
5. Interview between Union and Conference Presidents and Venden (Chapter 11)
6. Studies from the Testimonies concerning this subject
7. Studies on the 1888 Message done by Mrs. Burrow
Note: In the original "Unrighteousness Uncovered" Book by Claudia Burrow, there is, in the second half of the Book a study on the 1888 Message. After her ordeal with Elder Venden she began studying Righteousness by Faith for herself and had given a copy of her studies to the Committee of Three.
Things which the 3-person committee
all agreed upon at the meeting
1. They agreed that Mrs. Burrow's studies on this particular subject of ministers who take sexual advantage of their Church members were good studies. And Elder Banfield told Claudia that if we really believe in the Spirit of Prophecy, that we ought to be doing what it says to do about this.
2. If Venden were innocent, then he would have come forward right away and cleared it up.
3. That the Conference probably wanted Mrs. Burrow's outline before that first Executive Committee meeting (see Chapter 14) so that Venden could prepare his letter to the committee.
4. They could not comprehend how they could have decided to have the Texas Executive Committee rule on the matter when Venden was a member of the Executive Committee himself. (The Burrows were only given a choice of either having the meeting at the Texas Executive Committee, where Venden was a member of this same Committee, or at the Keene Church, where Venden was the Head Pastor.)
5. Mrs. Jemison loved Mm. Burrow's studies on the 1888 Message- and they all agreed on liking them. Later, Mrs. Jemison wrote to Claudia, urging her to publish these studies (that was why Claudia's studies on the 1888 Message of Righteousness by Faith were included in her Book about Venden, Unrighteousness Uncovered
6. They all could hardly believe that no one had ever been sent from the Conference to comfort the Burrows.
7. They all agreed that it was wonderful that Mr. Burrow still loved his wife, after all that had happened between her and Venden.
8. They all agreed that the Burrows had handled this thing beautifully.
Closing report of the 3-person committee
The Burrows remembered a few things that were put on the Report that the Committee were to bring back to Neal Wilson, but Elder Banfield only spoke about what he was writing a few times, and so they do not know all of what was on the report. Some of the things they remember are as follows:
1. That the account given by Mrs. Burrow was indeed believable. (on the date of January 6, 1989, it was verified to the Burrows that the Report had said, "It is impossible to disbelieve her story.")
2. Listed all the reasons why the Burrows thought that the other meeting (the Texas Conference Executive meeting of October 22, 1987) was unfair, in order that this information could be given to the General Conference. (Mrs. Burrow told Elder Banfield that she didn't want to have to tell the General Conference all that was unfair in the other meeting, but Elder Banfield said that it had to be done.)
3. It was confirmed to the Burrows that the Report had said that there was "credible evidence" to support Mrs. Burrow's accusations against Elder Venden.
Closing prayer at the end of the meeting
Dr. Wittschiebe offered the final prayer before they got ready to leave.
He said that the devil had won victories in this situation so far and now he asked God to take over and impress the leaders to do their job. (And everyone said, "Amen.")
Closing remarks by members of the 3-person Committee
1. Told Mrs. Burrow that she was a beautiful woman and that she believed her the moment that she saw her.
2. Told Mrs. Burrow that other women had told her that Venden is "such a blessing" to them and that this scared her to know what he is really like.
1. Said to trust the Church to handle it properly and not to merely cover it up, and that he thought that it would be positively dealt with. He could not see how they could not do this.
1. Said that if Venden were innocent, he could just have a doctor give him an examination and end the whole matter. (Dr. Wittschiebe was speaking in reference to the Interview between the Union and Conference presidents and Venden: Chapter 11, last question on page 1 of the Interview)
2. Told Mrs. Burrow that he really liked her and that he would be proud to introduce her as his friend to anyone.
All three committee members agreed that they felt very comfortable in the Burrow's home.
Final Report not sent to them
Mrs. Burrow wrote a letter to Elder Neal Wilson, requesting the Final Report of the committee of three.
The Burrow's received a letter dated: November 2, 1988, from Winn Clark, Elder Wilson's Secretary, in reply, saying that the Committee of three was only sent to "bring assurance to the Burrows and to hasten the healing process in an experience that has been very difficult for them."
And so they did not receive a copy of this Final Report.
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Chapter 22 --Exposure Or Secrecy?
This matter concerning Mr. Venden and Mrs. Burrow can be handled by either keeping it "quiet" and covered up, or by exposing the truth of it, and dealing with the reality of the situation.
Some of the leaders of this Church have the idea that Claudia is supposed to be a "sacrifice" for the Church, in that she is to just keep quiet and allow Mr. Venden to go on lying about what he did. Supposedly, this will allow the "poor Church members" to continue to have trust in their Church leaders, if it is kept quiet. And the Church leaders can keep a perfect image, along with Venden; in the eyes of the Church members.
But, by taking this position, the Church members are being deceived into believing something that just is not true at all. And that cannot be a correct principle.
The Desire of Ages, pages 540, 541 tells of this same concept of a "sacrifice", when the Jewish leaders had decided that Jesus ought to be "sacrificed for the good of the nation."
They reasoned that Jesus was refusing to acknowledge the theology of the rabbis, and that He was exposing the evil practices of the priests; and so, in order that the Church members might not lose their trust in the authority of the rulers of the Church, they felt that they had to "sacrifice" Jesus, for "the good of the nation." They felt that if the people lost their confidence in their rulers, that the national power would be destroyed and that the life of this "Galilean" was not worth much in comparison to the good of the entire nation.
This was a false and misleading concept, and this hypocrisy will permeate throughout the entire Church, if allowed to have its place. Claudia is not anyone's "sacrifice"!
It must be realized that in order to leave the people believing that he had done nothing wrong, Venden spread lies about Mrs. Burrow all across America. People began asking serious questions about this matter-wanting to know the truth.
And so, the true situation is, that the Church members are now left in a state of uncertainty in regards to the truth of this entire matter. There are many different "versions" of this going around in the Church. The people are left in a state of confusion and disturbance.
In reference to certain slanderous lies that were being spread about Ellen White, she declared the way in which a matter such as this must be dealt with in the Church, and this is found in Selected Messages, book 3, pages 348-350. She said:
1. "We would not be doing justice to the accusers, or to those who are misled by their accusations should we keep silent."
2. "It should not be left in any uncertain way, the people should not be left to think that it may or may not be (true or false)."
3. When some malicious accusers "declare things untrue, which are true, these things must be met. The people must not be left to believe a lie. They must be undeceived."
3. "There now needs to be a true statement placed before the people; and then my work is done."
Claudia is only a "little sheep"-insignificant in our Church in comparison to the famous Elder Morris Venden. But what says the Word of God? "He is no respecter of persons." Acts 10:34.
It is the principle of this thing that concerns God. it is not the reputation of Mrs. Burrow that really matters here. The truth must be known.
You have the right to know
Also, some feel that because Adventists are tithe-paying members of this Church, and because their money supports the Ministers in out Church; therefore they have the right to know the things that concern the Church and its Ministers.
Who needs protection?
When a Minister of the Church is seducing the sheep of his care into acts of lewdness, who is it that God is interested in protecting? In Ellen White's words, speaking specifically of a certain Minister named Nathan Fuller-who was doing this very thing to his sheep, as Elder Venden did to Claudia-we find:
"If his professed robe of righteousness can be torn from him and his vile purposes and thoughts be exposed, so that he will not continue to lead others in the paths of hell, it will be all that we may expect." Testimonies, vol.5, page 139.
This definitely seems to indicate that those whom the minister is leading to "hell" by his false pretenses are the concern of God also, and that He wishes such a man to be exposed for what he really is.
There is surely much more than Mr. Venden and his "pride" to be considered here. And there is surely much more than the "perfect image" of the Church to be considered here also.
It appears that God is not interested in "protecting" men by allowing them to lie:
"The great Searcher of hearts knoweth every sin committed in secret by the workers of iniquity. These persons come to feel secure in their deceptions and, because of His long-suffering, say that the Lord seeth not.... But He will detect their hypocrisy and will open before others those sins which they were so careful to hide." Testimonies, vol. 5, pages 211,212.
True love for souls
There are those who do not accept the theory that it is an act of "kindness" to allow Venden to keep on lying:
"The refuge of lies for the covering up of sin must be torn away in order that poor deluded souls may not sleep on to their eternal ruin." Testimonies to Ministers, page 182.
These same are of the opinion that if Mr. Venden's "friends" truly were concerned about his soul, they would stop lying for him and stop covering up for him.
God's definition of true love for souls is given in two quotations:
"While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God's honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain the favor of any." Testimonies, vol.5, page 210.
"Those upon whom rests the burden of this work will not hold their peace when wrong is done, neither will they cover evil with a cloak of false charity. They will remember that God is no respecter of persons, and that severity to a few may prove mercy to many." Prophets and Kings, page 675.
When corrupt ministers are allowed to go on mingling their corruption with the holy service of the Lord, God Himself will take the case in His own hands and deal with it:
"Had Eli dealt justly with his wicked sons, they would have been rejected from the priestly office and punished with death. Dreading thus to bring public disgrace and condemnation upon them; he sustained them in the most sacred positions of trust. He still permitted them to mingle their corruption with the holy service of God and to inflict upon the cause of truth an injury which years could not efface. But when the judge of Israel neglected his work, God took the matter in hand." Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 576,577
When such ministers take advantage of their own sheep, God wishes them to be removed from the ministry:
"Satan finds in them something that he can work up into marked iniquity, and.., the result is, those who claim to be shepherds of the flock are carnally minded leading the sheep of their care, whose purity, modesty, and virtue they should strictly guard, into licentiousness and lewdness.... Such ministers live a lie, pursue an underhanded course, work in secret, nurse their polluted thoughts... then take advantage of women or men who are tempted like themselves; to break down all barriers and debase their bodies... How can they do this thing?... Cleanse the camp of this moral corruption, if it takes the highest men in the highest positions.... Fornication is in our ranks... there is much we will never know; but that which is revealed makes the Church responsible and guilty unless they show a determined effort to eradicate the evil ... I have no real ground of hope for those who have stood as shepherds to the flock, and for years have been borne with by the merciful God. . . but who have hid their evil ways, and continued in them. ... We may leave them to work out their own salvation... but in no case entrust to them the guardianship of souls. ... False shepherds!" Testimonies to Ministers, pages 426-428
The above statement is strong in its plain instruction of how God demands that such Ministers be dealt with. Is this being "judgmental"? I think not! God has already passed His judgment on such a case, and it becomes a question of whether or not the Church leaders choose to obey the instructions that God has already given in the question of how to deal with such a case! His judgment is that "in no case is he to be entrusted with the guardianship of souls!"
Just as God is no respecter of persons, He also is no respecter of Churches. He wishes those in His Remnant Church to deal with these cases in a different way than the nominal Churches do:
"The nominal Churches are filled with fornication and adultery ... but these things are kept covered. Ministers in high places are guilty; yet a cloak of godliness covers their dark deeds, and they pass on from year to year in their course of hypocrisy." Testimonies, vol. 2, page 449.
They shall be caught
Solomon prophesied that those who lie shall be caught:
"'A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.' Proverbs 19:5. Men may think to hide their evil deeds from human eyes, but they cannot deceive God. 'All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.' Hebrews 4:13. Gehazi thought to deceive Elisha, but God revealed to His prophet the words that Gehazi had spoken to Naaman, and every detail of the scene between the two men. Truth is of God; deception in all its myriad forms is of Satan." Prophets and Kings, page 252.
Claudia does not want to participate any longer in the deception of covering this up from the eyes of the Church members. To do that would be to gain respect and admiration for Mr. Venden from the unwary Church members, by fraud and lies. In the past, Mrs. Burrow has allowed this deception, but not any more!
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Chapter 23 --Before The Judgment Bar
We shall all stand before the Judgment Bar of God. Mrs. Burrow has confessed openly to God's Church her part in allowing herself to so readily fall victim to the seductions of Morris Venden. She has obtained the forgiveness of her Savior and of her family, and now asks the forgiveness from the family of God-His Church.
The appeal now is for Morris Venden to be brave like David (Psalm 51) and not only to publicly acknowledge his sin against the Church and others, but to confess and forsake his sins according to the instructions given in the Word of God.
This appeal is also directed to the Church administrators. Where are the men who will call sin "by its right name"?
"The greatest want of the world is the want of men-men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall." Education, page 57.
Where are the men who will stay the plague of immorality, like the faithful men of old spoken of in the Bible? Do the Church administrators realize that Venden is not only engaged in immorality under a cloak of "righteousness," but also that his teachings allow for such things?
In Venden's book, To Know God, published and disseminated by the Church, he teaches, contrary to God's Word, that Christ's disciples were converted even while committing open sin (page 87-88). This recent sordid affair was only the "fruit" of such teaching. Venden clearly teaches, and so indicated to Claudia, one can engage in open sin and still retain a converted standing or "relationship" with God"
Is it not time for Church administrators to halt this kind of teaching from the midst of the Church?
Should the minds of the Church members continue to be deceived with his teachings which manifestly bear such evil and corrupt fruit as has been demonstrated?
Note what the Lord's servant has said about making idols Out of ministers. And how much worse it must be to idolize a corrupt minister:
"The Lord would have His people divested of everything unscriptural in regard to the ministry. The men called to the ministry should not be made idols of they should not be looked upon with superstitious reverence; and because of the power vested in them through their office, sin in them should not lose its offensiveness. Their very office makes sin in them more exceedingly sinful, for in committing sin they make themselves the ministers of sin, the agents of Satan, through whom he can work with success to perpetuate sin." Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 11, 1898, pages 2-13.
In 1887 the Lord's servant told us plainly how we should meet errors and evils in the Church. If those errors and evils have affected the entire Church (such as in the present case), the correction "must come before the whole Church."
"If the errors have been manifestly affecting the Church, the examples of a character to mislead the Church, weaken it in unbelief, then the work to be done must not be confined to families privately or to individuals alone, but must come before the whole Church to stay the evil and flash light into the minds of those who have been deceived by deceptive works and misinterpretations." Ellen White, Manuscript Release 701; Letter 77, 1887, page 4.
May the leaders of God's people be willing to accept this challenge to take steps to cleanse the camp of Israel.
And now, there is an appeal to the lay members and especially to the parents in the Church. Could anyone who makes light of sin and lives accordingly, be a fit teacher of either young or old?
Dare we trust the words and teachings of any man to tell us how to prepare for the kingdom of heaven, without demanding a "Thus saith the Lord" to support his teachings?
"And if men and women who have the knowledge of the truth are so far separated from their great Leader that they will take the great leader of apostasy and name him Christ our Righteousness, it is because they have not sunk deep into the mines of truth. They are not able to distinguish the precious ore from the base material." Selected Messages, book two, page 393.
Can you imagine God's people taking the false theories of the devil, the great apostate, and naming this theory "Christ our Righteousness"? And it is done because we as a people have not sunk deep enough into the truths of the Word.
Mr. and Mrs. Burrow have been trying to have this matter taken to the General Conference for over two years now, but it has been blocked. Here it is-the anniversary of our 1888 Message of Righteousness by Faith! God thought it important enough 100 years ago, to gather the leaders in the General Conference to discuss this third angel's message then, and why would it not be even more important at this time in the earth's history?
"The Lord has been insulted. The standard of truth, of the first, second, and third angel's messages has been left to trail in the dust. If the watchmen are left to mislead the people in this fashion, God will hold some souls responsible for a lack of keen discernment to discover what kind of provender was being given to His flock "Selected Messages, book two, page 394.
Could it be that God, in His great providence has allowed this thing to happen at this particular time of our Church's history, in order to awaken us to unite on a firm platform of truth? The signs of the times are all around us. It is time for the Second Coming of Christ. We have the most solemn and important message to give to the occupants of this world-the third angel's message of Righteousness by Faith.
This past year, we as a people, have been celebrating the anniversary of the 1888 Minneapolis meeting. God desired at that time, 100 years ago, to give us a deeper understanding of the message that He would have us give to the world. And could it be an almost obvious fact that God, as He watches His people celebrating this Righteousness by Faith Message, is tapping us on the shoulder once again and causing us to re-examine this message, just as He did 100 years ago? Could it be that what we collectively have adopted from Morrie Venden as the message of "Righteousness by Faith" is faulty?
In any case, we ought to care enough and be open enough to God's leading, to consider that this may be so! And there ought not to be such a great reluctance to have this matter considered at the General Conference level-is that not true? We ought to be very careful and not have the attitude that we "know all that there is to know," and that we are "rich and increased with goods, and in need of nothing!"
This is an appeal to stop blocking this matter from the General Conference officials. They have every right to know the entire truth of what has happened, for they are in part responsible for the sheep of their care. They are responsible for the spiritual food which is being given to the sheep.
Please, the appeal is that it go to the General Conference, because this is a matter of general denominational concern. Mr. Venden's theological beliefs have permeated throughout our ranks worldwide.
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NOTICE: Much happened after the first Book, Unrighteousness Uncovered was written. Various people came forward to report instances to the Conference about Pastor Venden, and other significant happenings involving the case also occurred. To learn about these things, Click the Link below to read Book 2 of the Morris Venden Case.
First printing ęClaudia Burrow 1989
Second Printing ęClaudia Burrow 2003
Read Book II about the Venden Case
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