Whatever happened to "Big Beard" and
Also: Never completed satiric opera "Ellen G." and a poem called "Walls"
By David E. Meeker
Thanks for writing. There are some things to clarify. Steve Marshall and I had attended every presentation given by the late Glen Coon at his ten-day ABC Prayer Crusade at the SDA church in San Francisco in February 1971. At the final meeting at our request Elder Coon baptized us. Subsequently he invited us to travel with him but said he had no funds to do so. But we trusted that if it were to happen the way would be providential. Hence within a short time we began to accompany him and his wife around the country.
Fast-forward about 8 years: We had been regularly sending tithes and offerings to the San Francisco church but since we were on the road and not involved with that congregation, we decided to transfer to the "conference church". What we discovered was that the pastor at the S.F. church when we were baptized presumed that our conversion was a whimsy, shall I say, and our names had never been added to the church membership roster!! How's that for irony?
Glen Coon began his campaign to end our ministry within SDA circles in the spring of 1980. Actually, we had not traveled with him for 4 or 5 years by that time. Steve and I had been producing videotapes of Coon's presentations and those of Steve for 3 years or so and were spending one summer editing tapes in our motorhome at the Coon's Tennessee property. Coon told us that he was getting more requests to speak than he could handle and asked us if we would be willing to fill some of those invitations in his stead, to which we agreed. Within 2 or 3 days he had lined up an itinerary, which would keep us on the road for several months. At the end of that summer we two and the Coons went our separate ways but always maintained frequent contact. During subsequent years we two continued to receive many invitations to speak in SDA churches and schools, including the seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan. As best I can recall, Coon had no further involvement regarding our itinerary. During all those years there was no mention by anyone of any apostasy on our part.
Coon was an insecure man and unhappy about the schism developing within SDA-ism which he perceived to be caused by Dr. Desmond Ford and others, including us. We heard a number of Des Ford's presentations and had the opportunity on several occasions to discuss church doctrine (regarding many issues) with him and our mutual friend, Dr. Dean Jennings, who was doing his best to promote Des Ford's views. One of Coon's comments later was that Steve and David had spent "too much time at the feet of the learned doctor", to use his own words. Actually Des was just reaffirming what we two had felt for some time but we learned a lot more through him. In Coon's letter of warning about us to the Adventist world in the spring of 1980 he misstated the facts and declared that he separated himself from us during that summer in Tennessee because he felt he could do no more to get us headed in the right direction. I find it hard to believe that he did not know that he was creating fiction here.
I recall no involvement by any conference to end our work within the church, but in 1981 I told Steve that I was not interested in continuing the road tours and would remain at our get-away on the Oregon Coast and handle all the mail, which included distribution of our audio and video tapes. As a result of Coon's campaign, at each place Steve spoke, the powers-that-be quizzed him about his beliefs before he was allowed any audience and I was not going to go through that nonsense.
During the final weeks of 1983 while he was speaking to SDA audiences on the east coast I received reports that his behavior was becoming rather weird and after a very unfortunate occurrence in January 1984 he was diagnosed as bi-polar (manic-depressive). That put an end to our ministry. The next 18 years were hell on earth for him, his parents, me and many others. On 25 January 2002 he ended his own life.
I have never harbored any ill feelings toward Glen Coon and in fact feel he did me a great favor! What amazed me in his crusade to silence us, was how he violated many, if not all, of the principles he preached about for so many decades.
ITM stood for In Touch Ministries which was the name Steve and I came up with for our ministry. We later learned that there was a big-time non-Adventist ministry with that name located somewhere in the southeastern states. We were not "incorporated" though as "producers" of the "opera" I used ITM, INC. above the list of the satirical song titles.
I T M, INC (In Touch Ministries) In Association with The Gospel
Ellen G. (a satiric opera in too many acts with too many players)
The Players (in alphabetical order)
- J. N. Andrews, Fannie Bolton, Glen Coon, Alan David, Marian Davis, Desmond Ford PhD, Dean Jennings MD, Steve Marshall, David Meeker, Robert Olsen, Walter Rae, Uriah Smith, Smuts van Royen, Arthur White, Ellen G. White, James White, Willie White, Neal Wilson, and The Pioneers, Members of the General Conference, Sons of the Pioneers, The White Estate, The Rabble
- "A Knock on the Head Can Be Quite Innervating!"........Ellen & Cast
- "Pioneer Spirit".......James, Ellen, Uriah & 'J.N.'
- "Do Not Question, Just Believe!"..........Ellen
- "There's Money in Our Pens"..........James
- "Brushing Up Her English"..........Marian and Fannie
- "Pillars of Faith"..........The Pioneers
- "Ghostwriters of The Lie".......Walter
- "We Built a Stairway to Paradise".......James & Cast
- "Read of My Visions, With All the RE-visions"........Ellen
- "See What The Girls in The Backroom Have Writ"........Marian and Fannie
- "A Taste For Oysters....and Venison, Too"........ Ellen & James
- "What Mommy Says is So, Even If It Taint So!".......Willie
- "She Said "I Was Shown' (So As Not To Imply
That She Really Got It From Some Other Guy!"...........Walter & The White Estate
- "Those Books Bound in Red"........Entire Cast
- "The White Line Tours---Leave the Defining To Us"...........General Conference
- "What Are They Hiding In The Vaults--The Perfect Lady Without Any Faults?".........The Rabble
- "Testimony Countdown"....... The White Estate
- "Heretic Hotline".........Des, Walter & Dean
- "Stop Those Tapes!".........Neal
- "She Let Her Fingers Do The Walking" .........Walter
- "She Stills Lives Today!".........Arthur
- "The Dangerous Duo"........Glen
- "One Hundred Dissenters Can't Be All Bad!".....The Rabble
- "Living On Rumors Is Our Favorite Diet".......The Sons of The Pioneers
- "Our Days Are Numbered"........Steve and David
- "Lord, Open Their Eyes to The Whole Grand Disguise!".....Walter, Des, Robert, Smuts, Alan, Steve, David & the Cast of Hundreds
- "They Know Not What They Do!".......Our Lord and Savior
- (The Curtain Rises On Eternal Life)
- In the Holy City on Zion's Rise
- The idolized Jewel of Jewry set
- Smell of Her blasphemies rose to the skies
- Desolation abominably met
- Salvation symbols here had been started
- but Prophecy's Golden Vessel abused
- Ichabod—Shekinah Lamb departed
- Ritual shadows' Fulfillment refused
- Still stand the stones of foundation defense
- Quarried tradition of legends and myths
- A facing secure from every offense
- Hallowed and hollowed by masterful smiths
- They cry at the wall and will not relent
- Backs turned to Freedom they wail their lament
- * * *
- The temple has been struck by scorching light
- Investigation has made her woeful call
- The house cannot endure such force tonight
- For every blast makes cracks in every wall
- Naught can save the pillars that were hollow
- Yet red-faced guards make haste to shore them up
- One by one the empty blocks will follow
- Deluded men will drain the wrathful cup
- The Sword of Truth surely caused this "trouble"
- The Mighty Lamb has done His righteous deed
- Crucifixions's Rod has brought to rubble
- Another Godless, Loveless, Crossless creed
- Mourners at the wall begin to gather
- Bondage over Freedom they would rather
- —David E. Meeker, 1982