Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 15, 1963
NUMBER 15, PAGE 3,10

Falsehoods Exposed

Hoyt H. Houchen

In a recent letter, dated July 2, 1963, addressed to various members of the North Park congregation and accompanying a booklet, E. R. Harper stated, "In as much as you, through your preacher, Brother Hoyte (mis-spelling his, H H H.) Houchen, have attacked me personally many many times over your radio program, I feel that I am not violating any principles of Christian ethics when I send you a complimentary copy of my book on "Cooperation."

We deny that this writer has at any time ever attacked brother Harper personally and we challenge him to designate the broadcast on which it was ever done. It is true that we have made personal reference to him. For instance, we have referred our listeners to our radio broadcasts and our readers of TRUTH several times to the statement made by brother Harper in the Tulsa Lectures, 1938: "A congregation has no right to build anything larger than it is able to support. It has no right whatever to bind any congregation to any program of work of its own selection. Each congregation must retain its autonomy. Any effort that destroys the independence of the local congregation runs straight toward sectarianism, if not Romanism." We believe that this statement made by brother Harper back in 1938 is a good one and if brethren would adhere to the principle which it contains, the church would not be having the problem of one eldership (such as the one at Highland) overseeing and directing a larger work than it is able to support. Of course, we are referring to The Herald of Truth. In view of brother Harper's fine statement, we also remind our readers that Highland has "excommunicated" the church at North Park because it refuses to subscribe to The Herald of Truth.

It is doubtful that brother Harper knows exactly what has been stated on the above referred to radio programs because it has been reported to us that he was snooping at the radio station for some of our tapes. His cry that he has been personally attacked reminds us of the old saying "A hit dog howls." No, we have not personally attacked him or anyone else. Truth does not have to resort to such tactics.

If brother Harper believes that when we refer to a statement made by him or anyone else is a personal attack, then we call upon those who read his recent publication to observe the number of times that he refers to several of us personally. If a personal reference is a personal attack, then his production is filled with personal attacks!

While our brother is crying about somebody making a personal attack upon him, he has not hesitated to publish and to be one of the promulgators of a falsehood that involves an elder of the North Park congregation and which is most damaging not only in regard to this elder personally, but also a most vicious slander of the North Park church. The following no doubt will be shocking but because the false report has been given circulation, we must by necessity present the truth about the whole ugly affair.

It Has Been Reported To Us That In The Holt-Deaver Debate At Jacksonville, Florida, June 25-28, 1963, Roy Deaver Referred To The North Park Congregation, Saying A Mrs. Lesly With Three Hungry Crying Children (None Members Of The Church, They Were Baptist) And That A Mr. Key Of North Park Suggested They Go See The Highland Avenue Church Concerning Help; That The Lady Did So And That Bert Rose, Highland, Gave Her Food For Her Crying And Starving Children.

In a booklet, "Lectures on Cooperation," by E. R. Harper, the following appears on page 9:

How Pathetic!

Brethren, read this and weep our hearts out for brother Hoyt Houcheon (mis-spelling his, H.H.H.) and the church where he preaches, and this, otherwise fine group of brethren who are so confused that they can't help those begging at their door. This actually happened and they came to Highland. I am proud I am a member at the Highland Church of Christ. We did not turn them away.

— E.R.H.

February 27, 1963

"My husband and I are Baptist and one of the elders from North Park Church of Christ in Abilene, a Mr. Key, has been coming out to my home trying to get us to become members of the North Park Church.

We are interested in what the Bible teaches.

We have had some financial difficulties of late and the family being in need of food as well as clothing, I went to see Mr. Key and asked for help and he told me that they could not help me and suggested that I see the Highland Church of Christ and they perhaps would help me. I went over to the Highland congregation and talked to Mr. Bert Rose. Highland met our needs in the way of food, clothing, and some gas for our car.

We are grateful to Highland for their benevolent spirit.

Mrs. Alice Lesly"

The True Facts

"We are quite familiar with the family mentioned above and we hasten to inform that her report about us is an outright falsehood. The man first phoned us and informed us that he and his wife were members of the Highland church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas (no such congregation exists, to our knowledge.) The husband, wife, and children came to the North Park building. We learned that they are not members of the church.

"We, the undersigned, members of the North Park congregation, individually gave this family food, clothing, gasoline and oil for their car. We called brother Bert Rose on Friday evening, July 5, 1933, and informed him that we had helped the family and that the report made by the woman to the contrary is a falsehood. He apologized that they did not double-check on the report. Now that the truth is known, a correction is in order by brother Harper and any other brethren who have had any part in spreading the falsehood. "How pathetic" indeed it is that brethren will not check their information before rushing into print and passing on such reports. Only a telephone call to us could have prevented the spread of this damaging misrepresentation.

"We do not know of a person who would refuse to help another who is hungry. The position of some brethren on benevolence is very weak when they have to resort to such reports as the above. We expect those who have helped in any way to promulgate this vicious and slanderous report to make a proper correction."

E. A. Key C. C. Broyles

Hoyt H. Houchen Why was not the North Park congregation informed that such a letter was in existence and was being circulated? We have since been informed by a member of another congregation that he has been in possession of a photo copy of the Lesly letter for some time. If the motive of those who have placed the letter in the hands of others was not to damage North Park, create prejudice, then again we ask, why was not one of us at North Park informed that such a letter existed? Why the deep, dark secrecy? Can we and others believe that such a public printing of a letter, written by an outsider, and circulated without even so much consideration of us at North Park to inform us that it existed is the fruit of the "sweet spirit" and brotherly love that we hear so much about? Who can believe it, who is honest?

Our readers will observe that not only were these people fed and provided with clothing, gasoline, and oil by us at North Park, but at least an attempt was also made to teach them the word of God.

A certain character in Abilene has been writing us notes for some time, including some threats. One of these threats is that there are some plans for us at North Park. This character is evidently quite closely connected with Highland as he tells us from time to time that brethren at Highland have read his epistles before he mails them. From what has occurred in the Lesly case, would this be a part of those "plans"? We are made to wonder!

This unpleasant incident that we have to expose brings back another memory — one of an incident that was exposed during the Tant-Harper debate in Lufkin, Texas, in 1955. We are not charging that the same trickery is involved in the Lesly letter, but the production of the photostatic copies of the letter and the circulation of them is the matter under consideration. The following is the account by brother Yater Tant and it appeared in the Gospel Guardian, May 19, 1955:

"Brother Otis Gatewood, residing at Frankfurt, only seventy-five miles from Karlsruhe (town in Germany where Dick Smith had been laboring and for whom appeals for help had been made, H.H.H), saw our appeal in the Gospel Guardian. He forthwith sent five dollars to his sister five thousand miles away in Muleshoe, Texas, Mrs. Velda Garrett, and requested her to send this money by check to the Gospel Guardian, plainly writing on the face of it, 'For Dick Smith in Germany.'

"We received the letter from Muleshoe in due time, with the check made out to the Gospel Guardian and marked 'For Dick Smith in Germany.' The letter was written on cheap tablet paper in a semi-illiterate scrawl. It expressed great indignation at the evil treatment being given Dick Smith, and an intense desire that Smith be enabled to remain in Germany. We were requested to send the check on to Smith at once!

"We did so, endorsing it over to Smith, supposing that some good-hearted brother had not understood our instructions as to how money might be sent to Germany.

"For many months now photostatic copies of that check (the original of which is, or was, in the possession of Otis Gatewood) have been exhibited over the United States with charges that the Gospel Guardian was a 'Missionary Society,' receiving and disbursing funds to the mission fields of the world! Brother W. L. Totty had an elaborate chart drawn for the Indianapolis Debate in which he pictured the 'Gospel Guardian Missionary Society' — all of it based on the check which Otis Gatewood had managed to get by trickery and deceit!

"Brother E. R. Harper had the same sort of chart in the Lufkin discussion. When Gatewood's deceit and trickery were exposed, brother Harper expressed his deep regret at his involvement in any such underhanded and malicious scheme, and assured the audience that neither he nor the Highland elders had understood the details behind the check; and that if they had known of Gatewood's duplicity in the matter, they would never have had any connection with it at all."

This author was among those present who saw the above mentioned trickery exposed. The North Park church has now been victimized by a false report. It has been published by brother Harper and is being circulated by him and others. We would be led to believe that the incident which proved to be so embarrassing for brother Harper in the Gatewood matter would make him more cautious about circulating reports that he has not investigated. He evidently did not learn a lesson from his past experience.

Now will he and those with him who have had part in publishing and circulating the Lesly letter be willing to make corrections? If they are not willing to make such corrections as are necessary, then it will become evident to all that the publishing and circulating of the false report is a deliberate attempt to discredit and slander an elder and the North Park church. It will surely back-fire on the guilty. The old saying is true that "Truth will out." "They shall not pass!"

— 2941 Grape, Abilene, Texas