The Living Word Fellowship
A map of Living Word centres worldwide
|Type||Religious and commercial|
Founder and leader
|John Robert Stevens|
The Living Word Fellowship is a group of nondenominational Christian churches located in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Mexico, which stem from the Pentecostal tradition. Some disagree that the fellowship is nondenominational, instead believing it to be a form of Protestant Christianity. It has sometimes been described as a new religious movement, and has been labelled a cult by the Christian countercult movement. The group was founded in South Gate, California, by John Robert Stevens in 1951. It has been known in the past informally as "The Walk" or "This Walk", reflecting the biblical view that every Christian should have a personal walk with Jesus Christ, from I John 1:6-7. The fellowship celebrates the Jewish Old Testament festivals, and "It believes in the inerrancy of the Scripture, in the Trinity, in Christ's saving work, and in the various gifts and ministries of the Spirit as taught by the apostle Paul."
At its peak in the 1970s, the fellowship had about 100 member congregations. It was based at Shiloh, a farm and retreat site near Washington, Iowa. Membership declined after founder Stevens' death in 1983.
Anthony Cox's 1985 documentary film Vain Glory deals with his experiences as a member of "The Walk". Cox, who was involved in the group from 1971 to 1977, described the Church of the Living Word as "a pseudo-Christian cult" and said that John Robert Stevens prayed for the deaths of several U.S. political leaders and practiced a form of mind control and hypnotism with the church's followers. Cox also said that Stevens had considered himself to be an incarnation of Jesus Christ and that church members expected Stevens to be resurrected after his 1983 death.
- Churches in The Living Word Fellowship, Living Word Fellowship website
- George D. Chryssides, Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements, Second Edition (Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2011), 93.
- Another Gospel: Cults, Alternative Religions, and the New Age Movement by Ruth A. Tucker, Zondervan, 2004, ISBN 0-310-25937-1, pages 360–362
- Jim Calio, Yoko Ono's Ex-Husband, Tony Cox, Reveals His Strange Life Since Fleeing with Their Daughter 14 Years Ago, People magazine, February 3, 1986
- A Brief History of the Living Word Fellowship, Living Word Fellowship website