(1st edition 12/20/2004, 26 points; 2nd
ed. 4/8/05 50 pts; 3rd ed 4/11/05 minor changes; 4th
ed. 4/22/05, points 9, 42, 43, 46 &
5th ed. 5/8/2005 points 51-60 added.)
This is a brief description of the events surrounding the formation of the Port Austin Sabbatarian Church Community Sacred Purpose Trust (herein referred to as “the Trust”), from the viewpoint of Norman Scott Edwards (“Edwards”), who has repeatedly reviewed the matter and continues to pray for understanding in it:
1. Edwards first learned about the Port Austin Bible Center on the former Port Austin Air Force Base property in early 2000. He arranged to hold a Feast of Tabernacles meeting there in the Fall of 2000, and maintained occasional contact with its owners, Eternal Life Bible Institute (“ELBI”), and their on-site representative, Warwick Potts.
2. Edwards began to write articles on forming a Sabbatarian Educational Environment (“SEE”) during 2003 and publish them in Servants’ News. Terry Monte Williams (herein “Williams”) was also interested and wanted to work with Edwards to include a Sabbatarian Elder Adult Living (“SEAL”) program and a farm. Edwards published one of Williams’ articles as well. The two began looking for a place to implement this program, and Edwards contacted Warwick Potts during the late summer of 2003, but received no significant response. Edwards and Williams made a presentation to the Board of Directors of Spring Vale Academy, a Church of God Seventh Day boarding high school, proposing to implement such a program at their campus. Some of the board members were interested, but as a whole they rejected the proposal.
3. In late 2003, Warwick Potts contacted Edwards and offered to make the facilities available for Edwards’ purposes if a suitable contract could be negotiated. Even though ELBI had paid multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars into the property, both to purchase it and fix it, they were unable to continue to make payments on their existing land contract. They had dedicated the property to the service of God and wanted to sell it to a group that would continue that concept.
4. Edwards wrote additional articles intended for Servants’ News, but was not able to publish them. Between his family responsibilities—his oldest son graduating from high school, the many tasks involved with starting SEE and his half-time teaching job at Spring Vale Academy—the publications were not completed. As an aside, the year of half-time teaching at Spring Vale Academy was extremely valuable to Edwards. He learned a lot about the attitudes of Sabbatarian young people today, about Christian school operation, and about the difficulty of convincing parents of a school’s value until after their young people spend some time there. He also saw the incredible change in the lives of two of his own sons and many other young people.
5. Instead of publishing another newsletter, Edwards emailed the articles to the hundreds of subscribers for whom he had e-mail addresses. He also wrote articles for other Sabbatarian publications. In early 2004, Phillip Daniel Frankford (“Frankford”) and Paul Douglas Drieman (“Drieman”) responded to one such article and asked to join Williams and Edwards in the project.
6. After many group telephone conversations, considering other possible sites, and a couple of visits to the Port Austin property in January/February 2004, Drieman, Frankford, Williams and Edwards verbally agreed to work together to establish the SEE/SEAL programs on the Port Austin Campus and to work together to make the decisions necessary for the project.
7. In the SEE plan published January 2004, Edwards wrote:
The SEE government will be selected after D-day [earlier defined in the document as “Do-it Day”—the time when those interested would actually move to the property]. It should be governed by those who are providing the facilities and doing the work. If that is primarily one person or a small group of people, then it will be a small group. If it is many, then, many will govern. The government will be firmly bound to implement the plan for SEE as laid out in this and future documents. SEE will maintain its independent status—it will not become tied to a particular church organization, but serve Sabbatarian believers from a variety of congregations.
There was never any jointly written plan for the project other than Edwards’ articles and Williams’ one article on SEAL (which Edwards had heavily edited due to his overly-optimistic mindset). Later plans called for the campus responsibilities to be divided in the following manner:
a. Drieman: manage the facilities
b. Frankford: develop industry and help financially
c. Williams: develop SEAL program and farm, and help financially
d. Edwards: develop SEE program, publications, write contracts and other documents necessary for the purchase of the property and for the organization of the project, and help financially
8. Unfortunately, one fundamental issue that was never set to writing was this: Which of the above two points (6 & 7) are most important? Was this project to be whatever four men voted it to be at any given moment? Or, was it to implement the specific plans outlined in Edwards’ and Williams’ writings, each man with his responsibility?
9. Edwards made several attempts to write an initial plan for the workings of the four men, but found resistance to most of his writings, primarily from Frankford. As it was, the four men could not even agree as to the method of how the property should be acquired. Edwards felt it was best to cooperate with ELBI, while Frankford suggested several hostile takeover methods; for example, by attempting to buy out the interest of ELBI’s creditors then foreclosing on ELBI if they could not pay, or by getting ELBI in trouble with various government agencies. Edwards objected to these methods—He even played a tape of Frankford’s phone message suggesting this to Drieman and Williams and asked if something should be done about this, but no personnel decision was made. Unfortunately, Edwards did not have the wisdom, the spiritual insight or the willingness to listen to counsel to see that he should have exited the group at that time. Edwards now freely admits this and has repented of it.
10. By late February, 2004, ELBI’s situation was desperate. It had missed its February 15th payment of $6548, and was now in default on its land contract. A “balloon payment” of nearly $95,000 was due March 15. Edwards had negotiated to have this major payment delayed until July 15th. Williams and Edwards were in favor of taking over the payments and working out a contract with ELBI as soon as possible. However, Drieman and Frankford would not agree. Apparently, they were hoping to force ELBI into a more desperate situation to obtain a lower price or to pick the property up through foreclosure. So Edwards’ Church Bible Teaching Ministry used a low-interest credit card check to make the late payment for ELBI, preventing foreclosure for ELBI. Frankford and Drieman objected to this payment made without their agreement, but agreed to keep moving on the project. Williams said that the payment had shown him for sure that Edwards was really going to do this project.
11. Edwards spent weeks pouring over deeds, laws and other legal documents in an attempt to determine the legal status of the property. As it turned out, much of the property was part of a site condominium—not some kind of apartment complex, but a legal method of subdividing property when the streets, utilities and lot sizes do not correspond to the state’s subdivision laws. Many of the people already involved with the property did not know this. Edwards found previous legal transactions that were left unfinished, surveys that needed to be done, and other issues that had simply been let go. The legally required condominium association was no longer functioning.
12. Even with these known problems, all four men spoke of dedicating their personal resources to the project: selling their houses and/or moving their resources to the property. This is what was promised then, and what has actually happened to date:
a. Drieman had never planned to sell his house, but did speak of moving his substantial collection of maintenance tools and parts to the property for its use. He only moved half a truckload of belongings, most of his tools still being in Missouri.
b. Frankford initially spoke of selling his house or collecting a large insurance settlement on damages to it and using the proceeds to help the project. He spoke of making substantial financial contributions from his own earnings. None of this ever happened.
c. Williams moved from his Ann Arbor apartment and advanced over $85,000 for payments toward the property. He did not put his Illinois house up for sale as once planned, but did make substantial efforts toward doing so. (At one time, he considered borrowing against the equity in this house to help make payments.)
d. Edwards sold his house, used the proceeds for the project and moved everything he owned to the property. He has borrowed approximately $100,000, nearly exhausting his personal and ministry credit to keep the project operating. (While some will say that a project should not be started by borrowing money, the Scriptures do not teach against borrowing at interest for an emergency—but against lending at interest to those in need. Also there are a great many church groups that would like to have a school for Sabbatarian young people, but are—and always will be—waiting to have enough funds to be sure that they can do it.)
In short, the others all have a home to which to return; Edwards does not. He is committed to the project.
13. Edwards had already done extensive research and writing on the need for ministries to be wholly dedicated to God, to forgo state incorporation and IRS “501(c)(3) status”. He had always told the others that the best way to take title to the property would be as a Sacred Purpose Trust—a method used by dedicated Christian groups for over 400 years. In early April of 2004, Drieman, Frankford, Williams and Edwards had a conference phone call with a fifth man who was able to prepare and create such a sacred purpose trust. A trust is a piece of paperwork, kind of like a miniature private government, that specifies its purpose and powers, and the responsibilities of those who govern it. All governments recognize the ability of trusts to own real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, etc. All four men agreed that the property would be purchased by this Trust, which would be created effective April 5, 2005. Church Bible Teaching Ministry paid $2500 to have the work done.
14. Edwards worked hard to figure out all of the issues that had to be covered in the contract between the seller, ELBI, and buyer, the Port Austin Sabbatarian Church Community Sacred Purpose Trust. The contract was signed on April 28th by ELBI and Drieman, Frankford, Williams and Edwards. This was a preliminary contract, as it was known that the property descriptions, the provisions for the Trust and other points were probably not all correct. Point 19 of the contract indicated that there would be a need for changes—and required both parties to sign whatever documents were necessary to carry out the intent of the original contract. (This will be important later.)
15. During the summer of 2004, Edwards pursued his rather extensive responsibilities, including the selling of his house and moving Church Bible Teaching Ministry items and personal possessions totaling 4.5 20’ truckloads—much of which are in use by the Port Austin ministry at this time. Among many other things, he conducted a two-week music camp, and reviewed hundreds of documents in the purchase and set-up of the property, writing dozens himself. In contrast, Drieman moved to the property in early May, supported by gifts from Edwards, Frankford and Warwick Potts, but did not even complete his promised report of the needed maintenance on each campus building. He completed very few repairs. Frankford dreamed up dozens of ideas for industry projects, flooding Edwards with e-mails, asking him to help with some of them; but failed to implement any of them. Williams did more than he promised financially, making a variety of land payments totaling $85,140—including $65,000 toward the July 15th balloon payment of $95,000. Williams started a poultry yard toward the campus farm project, but never produced any written plan for SEAL. Edwards did not attempt to interfere in the others’ areas, but helped each of them when requested.
16. The last two weeks of July saw nine students attending the summer music camp at Port Austin. Edwards spent nearly every waking hour with them. Twelve original songs, which were largely submitted as only words and a melody line were arranged (chords, harmony and instrumental parts written for them) and recorded. The camp also provided a daily Bible study, music theory classes and recreation. The intent was to produce a CD for free distribution, but by the time the CD mix-down was complete, the name under which the CD could be published was uncertain. Eventually, because 10 of the 12 songs were composed by Paul Drieman and his daughters, one of whom withdrew permission for her songs to be included on the CD, it was determined that Paul and his other daughter probably felt similarly; because of this, the 2004 music camp CD will not be produced.
17. As soon as the music camp ended, the Edwardses headed back to Perry, Michigan, to handle the final details of selling their house—which included putting in a new well. They packed up, cleaned up, and after the sale of their house closed on August 10th, sent money to make up the remaining $30,000 of the $95,000 balloon payment, which was now overdue.
18. While it may seem like things were working well—the payments were being made and the property was being put to use—around the end of July and the beginning of August, what cooperation there had been between the four men began to end. Frankford and Drieman spent numerous hours with Williams during this time, trying to convince him that Edwards did not respect him and that nearly everything that Edwards was doing was somehow wrong, unethical or illegal. Their opposition covered everything from student bed-times and room assignments to how Edwards made the property payments. Covering all of the incidents would require many pages. But the basic format was: Frankford would make false accusations against Edwards, Edwards would refute them, and Frankford would go on to make another false accusation. Drieman and Williams, who are of somewhat milder temperaments, would sit back and listen, and Drieman would tell Williams something like: “Frankford and Edwards are just alike—it’s the responsibility of the wiser, more stable of us to sort out the truth somewhere in the middle”. Unfortunately, the truth was not somewhere in the middle: virtually every one of Frankford’s accusations were false and Drieman and Williams should have recognized that. But as it often happens in governments for men, unstable situations are often used to serve the purpose of some. For a brief time, Williams took on the responsibility of chairing meetings so something could be accomplished. But shortly afterward, Frankford and Williams attempted to make Drieman the official director of the project. Edwards never agreed to it or voted for the idea. This was a clear departure from the original plan of four men with equal authority, fulfilling the goals that Edwards and Williams had outlined. Drieman and Frankford clearly had no objection to unequal authority, as long as it was in their favor.
19. One of the many false accusations by Frankford, and later echoed by Drieman and Williams, was that the concept of a Sacred Purpose Trust might be somehow unethical or illegal. They went as far as naming two attorneys with whom they hoped to consult about it. If these three ever contacted these attorneys or the Trust preparer during this time, they never brought the subject up at an open meeting. On August 4th, Frankford sent an e-mail, part of which he claimed was authored by Williams, which questioned the concept of the Sacred Purpose Trust. The Trust paperwork had not yet been finished because Edwards had suggested several major improvements to the Trust Indenture which were researched and implemented, the Trust preparer had other pressing needs during May through June and Edwards was largely unavailable in July and August. In spite of their opposition to the concept of the Trust, Drieman, Frankford and Williams never brought forth any alternative form of organization. The Sacred Purpose Trust was irrevocable—the property could not simply be transferred to some other legal entity because they wanted it so. The only way they could clearly get title to the property in another form is if the Trust defaulted on its payments; then the property could become for sale to the highest bidder. It is the duty of Trustees to protect the Trust. It was the Trust, and not the four individuals, that had a contract to buy the property. The only question that remained was, “Which men are the Trustee(s) carrying out the purpose of the trust?” In Frankford’s August 4th e-mail, he officially stated that he would not make any of his funds available to the Trust, and laid out a series of requirements that were almost certain to bankrupt the trust. Making Drieman the executive director of the project was also contrary to the original plan and contrary to the Trust documents—they had no place for an executive director or head Trustee. It became increasingly clear to Edwards and ELBI that Drieman, Frankford and Williams were not intending to carry out the existing agreements to which the Trust was committed. At this point, Edwards faced the dilemma of deciding whether to attempt to explain trusteeship to them more thoroughly so that they could become good Trustees, or to tell them as little as possible to prevent them from harming the Trust. As it happened, the others almost completely avoided Edwards, met together without him and had little interest in what he had to say.
20. In August, Homer Kizer arrived in Port Austin to teach in the SEE program. He has a Master’s Degree in creative writing and experience and ability in many other areas. Edwards had written him that the program was in its infancy and that there would be no money to pay him. Edwards had read a little—not enough—of Kizer’s extensive website and asked him if he could keep his religious writings separate from his teaching at SEE. Kizer wrote that he could do that. Accepting Kizer’s statement was a big mistake on Edward’s part. Frankford and Drieman lost no time in making sure that Kizer saw things their way. On August 29, Kizer sent an email suffixed “feel free to forward anything I write” containing the statement “It appears I will eventually take over the educational program here although I have no desire to do so. There just isn't anyone else here who is able to do the job. Norm [Edwards] certainly cannot.”
21. On September 3rd, Bill Buckman arrived in Port Austin to become the campus librarian. He has known Edwards for years, read and edited Servants’ News, attended the Feast of Tabernacles with him, etc. In many ways, his arrival was the first breath of fresh air that the campus had had in months. He now assists in whatever work needs to be done, gladly and with a Christian attitude.
22. In the early days of September, Homer Kizer began making ridiculous posts on his website. He claimed that the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) needed to investigate the activities in Port Austin because Edwards and Potts drove an unlicensed, older, Ryder-style yellow truck from Huron County with too many similarities to Timothy McVey’s truck. However, in typical Kizer style, he crafted a story where Edwards and Potts were villains, and others were victims. He faulted Edwards and Potts for driving the unlicensed truck, never mentioned that neither man knew that the truck was without a plate and totally ignored the fact that Williams owned the truck and has the obvious legal responsibility to license his own vehicle. Kizer well understands the technique of repeating false or insignificant ideas over and over in his writing until they seem important and true. Since that first posting, Kizer has written about 30 separate articles on his website describing the events of Port Austin, all using his typical fictional style. To understand Homer Kizer, realize that his Master’s Degree is in creative writing and that he writes each piece like a fiction story, focusing on the effect he wants to achieve in the reader’s mind, not on the truth of the details. The real events just give him an idea for the story, and from there he writes as he pleases, painting victims, villains and tales far more dramatic than the simple day-to-day realities. He apparently believes it is acceptable to say anything he wants about people he considers unbelievers. If one takes Kizer’s writings as historical fantasy, some might find them somewhat entertaining—he has a good command of the English language. One can find Homer Kizer’s books for sale at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Notice Kizer’s own description of his book, Alaskan Rogue, at bn.com:
On the edge of a two-sided world, Jay Shoulders, conceived but never born, wrestles with his wild Rogue roots and memories of a spirit lost somewhere in Laos. A fisherman at Unalaska, Alaska, Jay offers refuge to a stranded foreign fleet Observer and to a petty drug dealer, thereby setting into motion his flight to Kodiak, Kenai, Ketchikan and on into British Columbia before he returns, alone. But as he stays awake day after day while sailing up the Gulf of Alaska, he sees visions of a future son already beginning to grow, visions that stir his Native roots.
Nevertheless, ELBI, Edwards and supporters of the Trust realized that Kizer’s fiction, masquerading as truth, was a serious matter. Kizer never labels the yellow truck story as fiction. Someone could interpret it as an inside whistle-blower revealing knowledge of a serious crime or terrorism. Some attorneys were consulted concerning defamation suits, but to prevail in court one must usually show actual damages. So far, it appears that there has not been much significant damage from the few people who have believed Kizer’s fiction. Edwards and others went to Kizer to ask him to stop it, but he refuses to remove old website items, which are obviously in error, and he pledges to write even more.
23. When two of the Trust’s supporters first read Kizer’s fiction, they e-mailed him and the other four men, expressing their outrage. Frankford replied, defending Kizer’s writings, but then wrote again claiming that he had never read the articles sent to him and that his endorsement was not an endorsement. ELBI’s ability to assign its contract to the Trust was contingent upon this clause: “such assignment or conveyance shall not result in the probability of waste or other impairment of Seller’s security in the subject premises or the probability of default on behalf of Purchaser”. ELBI realized that if they aided Kizer and his nonsensical writing in any way—even simply allowing him access to the property—they would clearly be creating a probability of waste. If one person in authority believed Kizer, an expensive suit or investigation might follow, greatly increasing the probability of default. ELBI also realized that if Frankford, in a management capacity, can dogmatically support someone’s writing that he has never read, he is a liability to the property as well. Therefore, ELBI made a formal request to Paul Drieman to have Kizer removed from the property, to have Frankford removed from all management responsibilities and to return a phone call to let ELBI know the status of this request. On September 10th, Drieman held a meeting with Frankford, Williams and Edwards to convey this conversation. At the meeting, Drieman reluctantly agreed to remove Kizer from the property, but did not even mention ELBI’s request to remove Frankford from management roles. Drieman has never communicated, nor cooperated, with ELBI again, even to this day. Only three weeks later at the Feast of Tabernacles, Frankford and Kizer released their 11-page announcement of a joint publication, Thumbs Up Review—they had been working together on it the whole time.
24. ELBI’s request was then repeated to Edwards. The Trust documents still had not yet been finalized, and the required corrections to the contract between the Trust and ELBI still had not been made. The time period specified wherein both parties were required to correct the contract had expired, and ELBI now had the choice to cooperate in making these seriously needed corrections. Edwards felt it was important to immediately prevent Frankford from gaining a Trustee position in order to satisfy ELBI’s request, to protect the Trust and to provide a better Christian environment for any others who might come.
25. The situation for Edwards and his family was becoming nearly intolerable. The false accusations continued. As just one example, Kizer wrote that Edwards took offerings without “common accounting”, even though Edwards used the same recording and accounting procedures he had used for the last 10 years of his ministry, and had never experienced difficulties before. Kizer never asked Edwards anything about the issue, but simply wrote about it on the Internet. Frankford and Drieman seemed more willing to believe Kizer in the issue than they did Edwards. Immediately after that Drieman gave a Bible study on “stealing” and spoke as if it were a present and ongoing problem there. During this time, Edwards and Williams were paying the land payments, utilities and other bills for the project—Frankford and Drieman were not.
26. From a legal perspective, there was much difficulty. Many of the original verbal agreements the men made when they started were now broken. The contract was between ELBI and the Sacred Purpose Trust, yet some of the men were opposing the concept of the Trust or working against the Trust’s interests. From the beginning, the Trust preparer highly recommended an odd number of Trustees, 3 in this case, with the other being a successor Trustee. Rotating trustees were also suggested. He said it was a big mistake to name anyone a Trustee who was against the concept of a sacred purpose trust.
27. The Edwards family decided to ask God for a definite answer, and asked Him to work through the answers that they would receive as they exercised their various legal options. They made a few phone calls and found another Sabbatarian ministry where they would be welcome if the one in Port Austin became impossible. They prayed, telling God that they wanted to serve Him in teaching Christian young people in Port Austin, but that the present environment was simply too difficult to live in and was certainly no place to demonstrate God’s way of life. They asked God to produce a solution that would be lawful, acceptable to Edwards and ELBI, and acceptable to legal counsel. They asked:
a. If God wanted Drieman, Williams and Edwards to run the project, then for God to cause Drieman to communicate ELBI’s request for Frankford’s removal to Williams and Edwards;
b. If Drieman did not communicate the request, and if God wanted Williams and Edwards to run the project initially, then for God to cause Williams to agree to work together when Edwards was to go to him to present that option;
c. If Williams refused, and if God wanted just Edwards to initially run the project, then for Him to cause ELBI (which had previously insisted on at least two Trustees) to accept a single Trustee.
d. If God did not want Edwards to be involved with this project, then for Him to cause ELBI to reject a single Trustee, or stop Edwards from continuing the plan in any other way. If circumstances had worked out that way, Edwards would have resigned from all positions and left the project to another, taking what household things he could and hoping to be repaid when the others were able.
28. Only a few days prior to this, Edwards had spoken with Drieman for over an hour, attempting to show him many reasons why Frankford should be removed from all leadership positions—before ELBI’s request. Edwards also made two appointments with Frankford to discuss the matters directly, but he did not show up for either. While Drieman frequently admitted that Frankford was very difficult to deal with, at no time did he ever acknowledge to Edwards that Frankford needed to be removed for the benefit of the project.
29. On September 12, 2004, Edwards then met with Williams, explaining that Frankford was not suitable to be a Trustee, Drieman was not willing to help solve that problem in a timely manner, and something had to be done to preserve the existing contracts. Edwards recommended that the Trust paperwork be completed with only two Trustees, Edwards and Williams—the two who had largely carried out their original promises. Williams agreed that Frankford needed to leave the Trust management, but was unwilling to do anything unless Drieman also agreed to it.
30. Either that day or the next, Warrick Potts of ELBI called Edwards again, wanting to know the status of Kizer and Frankford, and was unhappy to find that Frankford’s removal had still not even been mentioned at the leaders’ meetings. Potts then told Edwards that he had spoken with his ELBI board, and that his ELBI board said that if it was not possible to form a group of Trustees without Frankford, then the one name they would accept as a single Trustee would be Edwards. Similarly, the Trust preparer urged a single Trustee committed to the Trust as opposed to multiple Trustees who were not committed to its success or who did not know how to be Trustees. With additional prayer and counsel, Edwards agreed to become the single Trustee. A Certificate of Trust showing one Trustee and a corrected contract with ELBI were recorded at the Huron Country Register of Deeds on September 17, 2004, the day after the Feast of Trumpets. The new ELBI contract corrected multiple problems with the old one:
a. The legal description of “Property 3” was completely wrong and was replaced in the new contract.
b. The first contract was prepared with a slight error in the Trust name because Edwards had no trust paperwork at the time. It said “Port Austin Sabbatarian Church Community, a Sacred Purpose Trust” instead of: “Port Austin Sabbatarian Church Community Sacred Purpose Trust” (the “, a” is gone.) The latter is correct, and is the only name that ever appeared on the Trust Indenture, Trust Minutes or Certificate of Trust. There is only one Trust. The contract and deed in error have been corrected to read “Port Austin Sabbatarian Church Community Sacred Purpose Trust”.
c. When the initial ELBI contract was signed, the exact Trustees and Successor Trustees were not yet committed to writing. ELBI said that they had known Edwards for four years and were confident in him. Edwards knew Williams, who had produced even more money than he had promised. Edwards did not know Frankford and Drieman well—and they had not come through with what they promised. All the potential Trustees signed the original contract, but other related documents in those early months were signed only by Edwards. When the replacement ELBI contract was signed, it had a single Trustee’s signature, matching the now signed and recorded Certificate of Trust. A document was prepared that would have made Drieman, Frankford and Williams Successor Trustees, but they walked out of the meeting before it was presented to them, and there has been no meeting since. (Other Successor Trustees have now been named.)
d. Several other miscellaneous provisions, such as the disposition of Unit 1, were also corrected.
31. But the problems were not over. In addition to the above items, there were numerous Trust Minutes to prepare, accounting records to be set in order and other paperwork to finish. Also, Drieman, Frankford and Williams stopped eating in the campus dining hall and stopped coming to the morning prayer meetings and Bible studies without any explanation. Days would go by where Edwards would never see them. By the time the other paperwork was finished, an urgent all-day, multi-day project had begun: repairing the meeting hall ceiling before the Feast of Tabernacles. The tiles were literally falling down. Drieman, Edwards, Buckman, Anna DeLong and James Edwards all got up on 20-foot rented scaffolds, removed the old tiles and put up a new suspended ceiling. Williams helped on the ground crew. Broken windows and gym lights (which were nearly all burned out) were also replaced. Finishing this work was a needed blessing from God, but it was the last time when Edwards, Drieman and Williams worked together in any major way. Drieman left, shortly before the project was completed, and Edwards was still hooking up the last of the meeting hall lights when the first out-of-town guest arrived for the Feast! There had been no time for all four men to meet together before the Feast of Tabernacles.
32. Another important, ongoing issue of daily life pertained to water and sewer services. These things are not often thought about until the tap goes dry or the toilet backs up. The Trust buildings and numerous other former Air Force Base buildings still rely on the old military system for water and sewer services. Water is provided from two central wells and a pump-house. Sewer from the buildings flows through common pipes to a single place where it is metered and billed by the Port Austin Area Sewer and Water Authority. Williams continued to pay the plant operator but the task of paying the sewer bills and collecting water and sewer payments was not getting done. This job was passed on by contract to the Sacred Purpose Trust. By the time that the Feast of Tabernacles began, over $4000 for four months of sewer payments were due and a shutoff notice for the entire group of buildings had been received. None of the individual users had been billed for services received. The Trust’s available funds had been spent preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles, so money received at the Feast was used to pay the sewer bills and avoid a disaster. Most of the operation of the Trust has been that way—money has come available as it was needed. On October 19, 2004, William A. Buckman and Anna DeLong formed the Hillview Water and Sewer Co-op to collect the user fees, pay the bills and take care of any other essential needs. Edwards was appointed to handle Secretary-Treasurer responsibilities.
33. Due to a three-week Feast trip by Drieman and other extended Drieman/Williams trips, the first time Edwards could arrange for a meeting of all four men was October 29. He intended to present the financial records he had produced thus far and to explain the Trust status. About 20 minutes into the presentation, Drieman asked about the Trust, so Edwards explained that he was the only Trustee at that time. In well less then one minute, Drieman, Williams and Frankford left the room, not willing to hear any of the other prepared information or discuss any means whereby working together was still possible. Except for a conversation between Edwards and Williams later that evening, there have been no further talks between Edwards and Drieman/Williams/Frankford. The three men have refused to answer Edwards’ numerous letters. They have gone to great lengths to produce a biblical basis for this shunning of Edwards, but Edwards believes that it is simply a means to keep Williams—the only other one who made payments for the property—from reconciling with Edwards.
34. That same day, October 29, 2004, the Trust wrote a letter to Williams offering to reimburse him for his efforts and to continue working with him. On October 31, Edwards wrote a personal letter to Williams and Drieman offering to continue to work together in some way. On November 3, 2004, Edwards sent an eviction notice to Frankford for a number of reasons. (As an aside, this is the only eviction letter Edwards has sent to date.) Edwards later sent certified letters attempting communication and inquiring after the whereabouts of some Trust property to Frankford, Drieman and Williams, but only Drieman accepted his letter; the others let them return after 15 days unclaimed. No written response to any of these letters has been received, though some of the displaced property mentioned in them was returned a few days later. The three have not tried to initiate communications in any other way, whereas Edwards has sent multiple letters attempting communication. There have been no face-to-face conversations between Edwards and the other three men since October 29, 2004.
35. On December 7, 2004, Frankford and Drieman moved off the Trust property into two buildings owned by Frankford, directly across the street from the Trust property. Kizer moved in with them at some time near the end of the month. All of them had been using water and sewer services from Hillview Water and Sewer Co-op, but had thus far refused to pay their bills.
36. On December 8, 2004, Edwards found on the Internet an affidavit (a legal declaration) signed November 30, 2004, stating that Frankford, Drieman and Williams were ending the Port Austin Sabbatarian Church Community, the Port Austin Sabbatarian Community Church, SEE, SEAL and all of the related programs of these ministries. They also demanded that Edwards no longer use those names. After verifying with the signing notary that the document was indeed genuine, and realizing that these three men were a majority of the members of these entities, Edwards agreed to comply with this demand and stop using the names of these now defunct entities. These entities had only the declarations giving their purpose and founding members; no other governing documents were ever approved. (This is in great contrast to the Trust, a thoroughly written instrument in which a creator named the initial trustees and successor trustees, and in which the rules for making decisions are well defined. Only Edwards was ever named an acting Trustee of the Trust.) As it was, this was the end of the Sabbatarian Educational Environment (SEE) program; Anna DeLong, who had hoped to be a student of the ministry, decided to stay in order to assist with creating the new programs. In accordance with the provisions of the Trust, a new ministry, formed by William A. Buckman, Anna DeLong and Norman Scott Edwards, was named to use the assets of the Trust property:
Port Austin Bible Campus
PO Box 474
Port Austin, Michigan, USA 48467.
The goals of the Port Austin Bible Campus are to provide Christian education in a community setting. The concepts are very similar to those expressed in the Servants’ News articles of 2003 for SEE. This information was recorded in an affidavit on December 8, 2004, and mailed to Frankford, Drieman and Williams on December 23, 2004.
37. During December of 2004, an independent long-time Sabbatarian, former editor of the Sabbath Sentinel and current law student looked at the relevant deeds, contracts, and other documents related to the issues at the Port Austin campus. He concluded that there was no fraud on the part of Edwards or the Trust, and that Williams should be reimbursed for the payments he made that directly contributed to the project.
38. From December 31 to January 2, several students arrived for the second music camp to be held on the property. Despite the difficulties that transpired that week, one of them was able to record his first two fully-instrumented songs.
39. On January 3, 2005 at 6:15 AM, Edwards’ son Jesse was suddenly awakened by loud banging and the smell of smoke. He woke his parents, who moved quickly to awaken the other young people and locate the source of the smoke, thinking that it might be one of the electric space heaters used to heat the dormitory bedrooms. The smoke was finally found to be coming from a largely unused storeroom with no electrical devices plugged in at all. Even though Edwards emptied a fire extinguisher into the base of the blaze on the far north side of the room, the flames quickly reappeared. The only solution was to evacuate the building and call the fire department. The last ones out were Edwards’ son, Josh, who came crawling out on his hands and knees with a wet rag over his face, and his younger brother James, for whom Josh had returned to the building to help get out. The fire department arrived in about 10 minutes and spent hours extinguishing the fire, which had been roaring out of several windows. The storeroom, where the blaze broke out, and the adjoining bedroom burned completely. Part of the hall and part of another store-room also burned. The rest of the building was smoke- or heat-damaged to some degree. The doors on the ministry office and literature room were shut tight—they suffered the least damage. Nevertheless, nearly everything that was removed from the building was covered with a black layer, some of which will not completely come off. The only injuries were Josh’s skinned knee and burns to the top of Edwards’ head and to the sole of his left foot. There is more to the story, but the foregoing will suffice for a summary.
40. The official Michigan State Police report says that the cause of the fire is “undetermined”. The Trust hired a private fire investigator, who has yet to produce a final report. He has, however, conveyed to Edwards that if the fire were caused by an electrical outlet receptacle failure, it would be one of the most unusual cases that he had ever seen. The only possible outlet that could have caused it had nothing plugged into it and no branch wiring connected to it. That outlet showed physical damage from something being improperly inserted into it. It also showed damage from arcing, but much less than is typical for an outlet that caused a fire. The question is, did the physical damage occur long ago, which then caused a carbon path to form, which eventually arced and caused the fire? Or was the physical damage recently induced, and was the fire deliberately set? The area where the fire was first seen and the point of origin determined by the Michigan State Police are a few feet away from the suspect outlet. We hope to learn more in the future. The main point to note is that the cause was not overloaded, unsafe, aging wiring. If it were caused by an electrical failure, it would be a very unusual example of one caused by a damaged outlet, and there is no reason to expect that similar failures would occur elsewhere on campus.
41. As you might imagine, the next few weeks were spent washing clothes and retrieving smoky items from the burnt building. Fortunately, the main walls of the buildings are inflammable concrete block and none of the supporting rafters were damaged. The building can be fixed by replacing drywall, doors and trim. It was a major chore to continue to pay bills on time, but it was accomplished. Edwards moved the ministry office to an unused office on the first floor of the main building where Williams still keeps his possessions. The Edwards family moved into the motel-like rooms on the second floor of the same building. Smoky clothes take two or three washings, and Williams was kind enough to post a sign allowing everyone use of his laundry facilities, since the upstairs laundry hookups needed repair. Drieman, Frankford and Kizer, however, never walked across the street to see the fire damage or offer to help in any way. Brethren from elsewhere brought or sent food, clothing, money and many essentials. It was a very helpful blessing. (To be technically accurate, Kizer did write an Internet page offering the Edwards a place to stay. But it was the house from which he had just been evicted, and was not really his to offer.) On a disturbing note, Kizer and Frankford wrote Internet posts detailing the cause of the fire even before the Michigan State Police investigator had arrived on January 7th. The fire chiefs on the scene told Edwards that they did not give information to anyone.
42. At the end of December and into January, the first Hillview Water and Sewer Co-op bills were due. Most people who used these services paid their bills. Some who were away for the winter did not, but Kizer, Frankford and one other person refused to pay even though they were present and using the services. Kizer wrote a letter dated December 31, 2004 giving four spurious reasons for not paying his bill—essentially claiming that services should be provided free of charge. After sending the additional required legal notices of impending shutoff, Hillview Water and Sewer Co-op went to turn off the water of those who had not paid by February 28, 2005. The other person who had not paid decided to pay on the spot, but Frankford and Kizer refused to let the Co-op people on their property and called the County Sheriff. The Deputy Sheriff then asked to talk to Edwards on the phone, and admitted that he was not an attorney and did not know what law applied in this case. But since Frankford appeared so agitated on the phone—yelling most of the time while the Deputy was attempting to talk to Edwards, the Deputy asked him to settle the issue in court rather than risk being assaulted. Hillview Water and Sewer Co-op then filed small claims suits against Kizer and Frankford on March 9th, but they asked them to be heard in district court. Pretrial conferences are set for April 27th and May 25th.
43. By February 28, 2005, Edwards had made seven attempts to work out an arrangement to repay Williams, some as an individual, some as a Trustee. Edwards received his first written communication from Williams on that date in the form of a letter from a local Bad Axe law firm, Cubitt & Cubitt, representing Williams and Drieman. The letter requested repayment for the $86,340.00 that Edwards had been attempting to repay Williams over the past four months. The letter also requested Williams be reimbursed for an additional $73,660 in undefined expenses, but specified no amount for Drieman. Edwards responded on March 8th, agreeing to work out a plan to repay Williams for the $86,340 and to discuss repayment of other expenses if they were documented and exceed the value of free rent and utilities that Williams has been receiving. On March 17th, Edwards received a letter from Cubitt & Cubitt indicating that they were going on vacation till the end of March and that they would respond to the letter after they returned. Edwards again wrote Cubitt & Cubitt on April 13, but received no response. Lacking meaningful progress, the Trust took another step to hasten a solution.
44. Now for the good news. The Edwardses, Bill Buckman and Anna DeLong have lived on the Trust property through the winter—finding most of the facilities-related problems. They have proven that this can be done in an affordable manner. The dining hall has been in continuous operation, and could be more efficiently serving 100. There are still many things that need to be repaired and improved, but they are now well understood and manageable. There is space available and work to do for any who would be able to come and help with this project.
45. The library is well on its way to being usable by both students here and Internet users around the world. Thanks to Bill Buckman’s efforts, we have purchased Library Tracker software which will enable us to catalog books, booklets, articles, video tapes, audio tapes, DVDs, CDs, etc. using the Dewey Decimal System. We hope to be a repository of the biblical and doctrinal teaching of the many seventh-day groups—while minimizing their self-promotion and/or failed prophetic teachings.
46. The literary and artistic elements of the campus are also progressing. Anna DeLong has become proficient in many of the skills of music recording and anxiously awaits other students to produce a Christian music CD that everyone can enjoy. In addition, she has been actively working on Servants’ News articles and most recently, a new web site: www.portaustin.net
47. While there are still several loans that need to be repaid, all payments are presently up to date and everything is ready to move forward. The most critical land contract with the original owners of the property will be paid off in June of 2006 or sooner.
48. Everyone on the trust property is looking forward to the development of a community of believers, here, similar to that described in the book of Acts and 2 Kings. Edwards believes that this can be done with the help of over 100 others who have previously expressed interest in helping with the project, and through others who are hearing about it now. There is a critical need to provide such a place, where Sabbatarian young people can make the transition from child to adult: 1) commit their life to God, 2) learn to take responsibility for themselves; 3) plan for a life-long marriage and 4) learn a way to begin making a living. The order of the previous four points is not accidental—it is the order of importance. Secular education emphasizes mostly point 4 with a little of point 2. Even traditional “Christian Education” frequently puts point 4 first. The biblical way of education is to intermix young people with elders who will look out for the spiritual welfare of the young people, but to also give the young people responsibility that can clearly be seen and appreciated by the community.
49. Edwards acknowledges that he did not fast, pray and seek the will of God sufficiently in agreeing to bring Drieman and Frankford into the project. Nor did any of the men involved take sufficient time to write down the responsibilities and authority of each person involved. Edwards prays that the mistake will not be repeated in the future. A written plan of commitment will be made with each family or individual who joins the community.
50. The difficulty, so far, has been great. All of the people living on the Trust property agree that enduring the false accusations and infighting of August and September was far more stressful than the fire of January 3. But it seems that God frequently brings His people through trials before he blesses them, as shown by the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and even the parents of Jesus. If these trials encourage people to come to Port Austin because they feel that they are directed of God, and discourage any who might hope to find an easier, less diligent way of life, then they will be valuable indeed. May the Eternal lead, teach, correct and bless all those who are working on the Port Austin Bible Campus now and in the days ahead.
51. The Hillview Water and Sewer Co-Op court cases went to trial on September 7, 2005. The case against Homer Kizer was dismissed because he had no ownership interest in the property where he was living. In Michigan, a tenant is not responsible for utility bills unless he has a contract with the property’s owner making him responsible. Even though Kizer paid his own electric and gas bills, because he had no rental contract, he could not be legally held liable to pay any utility bill—including the water and sewer bill.
52. In the Frankford case, the judge declined to rule whether the Trust did or did not have legal authority to provide service and bill users for water and sewer. He pointed out a number of problems in the various legal documents relating to the case and stated that the two condominium associations in Port Austin are not doing their jobs. They need to begin functioning and amend the various utility service agreements. Nevertheless, the Judge awarded the Hillview Water and Sewer Co-op $738.02, invoking Michigan’s “implied contract” doctrine. If a person knowingly accepts valuable services from someone, they are obligated to pay. As of this writing, we understand that Frankford has sent checks to pay his judgment, but we have not received them yet.
53. Fortunately, the people that share the water and sewer services here arranged for a meeting on September 25. They approved a board of five people representing the various groups using the water and sewer services. It is called the Hillview Water Board and Norman Edwards is its secretary. It has taken over the water and sewer operations from the Hillview Water and Sewer Co-Op. We will be able to end the Co-op, and there should be much less difficulty with water and sewer in the future.
54. Efforts to come to an agreement with Terry Williams have progressed a little. We received a letter from his attorney on August 5, 2005, detailing 236 items for which he asked to be reimbursed. Most of the dollar value is in a few land payments which the Trust has already agreed to repay. There were no copies of receipts and the description on many of the items was a short 2-3 words and difficult to determine. The Trust identified 36 items for which he should be reimbursed and 9 more that are likely when a receipt is furnished. HWSC will reimburse him for 5 more. The Trust should not pay for 67 expenses that were of no benefit to it, 31 things that Williams bought for himself, 42 items unrelated to the property purchase or 2 items that were duplicates of others. Finally, 45 items were not clear enough to identify what they were about. On August 17 we responded to Williams’ attorney with a list of all 236 items and reason we would, would not or might (with more information) pay each one. We have heard nothing back from the attorney as of this date. When he is ready, we will be glad to negotiate repayment arrangements. We have been advised that it is unwise to begin repayment until a written agreement is reached.
55. Frankford and Drieman have permanently moved away from Port Austin. Homer Kizer resigned from his position of Treasurer of the new Hillview Water Board on November 2, stating that he would be moving away in a month. Williams’ possessions still occupy most of a floor of the main ministry building, but as far as we know, he has not been here since September 9.
56. Our Feast of Tabernacles observance was very inspiring and encouraging. Daily attendance was close to 40 with a total of 50 people present at some time. Our theme of studying people of faith was interesting, covering Jesus, Paul, Samuel from the Bible to reformation men to a woman of our day who escaped a life of sin.
57. We made numerous repairs to our facilities for the Feast of Tabernacles and the winter months in general. Roofs, plumbing, lights, wiring, walls, insulation and other things have been repaired to save money and extend the life of the facilities. Troublesome trees have been pruned or removed. Lawns have been improved so they are much easier to mow and maintain. We saved hundreds of dollars in food costs and improved our nutrition with a large garden—we still have several boxes of potatoes, squash and beets from it.
58. From what they saw during their Feast here, two new couples are making plans to move to Port Austin to help with the work here. One couple has experience with computers, newsletters, business organization and custodial work. The other man has been a facilities manager for years and is a master electrician. These three have both been Bible students and Sabbath keepers for decades. They will bring a lot of solid experience and energy to our future.
59. Our CD from music camp is virtually complete. It will be titled after its title song, Is It Ready Yet? It will have 14 songs and we will be able to offer it in our next edition of Servants’ News. We hope that it will be a blessing to many people. We hope it will inspire young people and their parents to realize that there are positive things that young people can do to be a spiritual blessing to others. Is the next Servant’s News ready yet? We have had most of one ready several times, but there has always been some other project that demanded immediate attention. In a way, it has been a blessing, as we would not have had time to handle the response if we were able to publish an issue. Also, we see little need to tell people the story of past difficulties, but rather the story of current and future service to the brethren.
60. PABC has received an increasing amount of interest from a diversity of people. Some are interested in the spiritual aspects, some are interested in the economic aspects of community living, others are interested in helping Christian young people. With our infrastructure now better established, we are ready to work with these people. Our short term goals are to upgrade our web site and to begin mailing Servants’ News again.
—Norman Scott Edwards