March 23, 2019

Barney Brock and Sterl A. Watson’s Predicament

By Richard Weaver

"What's Going on at Childhaven" is an article that appears in many issues of Childhaven News. I am going to inform you, however, about some things that have been going on that they will not tell you.

Brother Sterl A. Watson who has been on the pay roll of Childhaven since last February wrote an article entitled "FOOT IN THE MOUTH DISEASE." In his tirade against me brother Watson denied that fellowship had been withdrawn from brother Barney Brock, Superintendent of Childhaven. In the original September issue of Childhaven News 38,000 copies of Watson's article were printed. Watson's article was circulated so I wrote a reply to it and mailed it to various publications.

However, in the September issue of Childhaven News, which was delivered in the mail on October 10, I noticed that brother Watson's article "FOOT IN THE MOUTH DISEASE" had been removed and replaced with "The Biggest Thing on Earth" and "Just a Little Fun." Actually the length of Watson's covered even more space than those two articles. I had observed that the September issue of Childhaven News was several days late arriving in the mail and now I know why. They had 38,000 copies of the September issue changed and reprinted. They extravagantly wasted all that paper and ink and man hours of labor, etc. and were delayed in getting it in the mail because they reprinted and took Out Watson's article in which he denied the fact about fellowship being withdrawn from Barney Brock by the East Cullman church.

September 17 brother M. S. Whitehead, whom I had never known or heard of, wrote me asking for proof of the charge. Sept. 26 he sent me a copy of the letter he wrote to Barney Brock and Sterl Watson's reply. The following is the letter brother Whitehead, 211 Park Ave., Montgomery, Ala., wrote brother Brock Sept. 11, 1963:

"In reference to you, under the name of Richard Weaver, I read the following in WALKING IN TRUTH edited by brother Thomas G. O'Neal, Jasper, Ala., 'East Cullman is where the Superintendent and children attended until about two years ago. It is reliably reported that they withdrew from him. The Superintendent and his group have started the Childhaven Road church.' (September 1963 issue)

"May I respectfully ask: is there any truth in the report that the East Cullman congregation withdrew from you? If so, why?"

Sept. 13 in reply to brother Whitehead's letter, Sterl Watson answered it. Here, in part, is what Watson wrote:

"Your letter to Bro. Barney Brock, under date of Sept. 11, 1963 was handed to me this A. M. I read it and asked that I be permitted to make reply. Since I serve as Public Relations man around here, and having investigated the slanderous charge that Weaver published, I felt that I could make proper Comment.

"In the coming issue of the Childhaven News, this charge is denied, of course. Barney Brock stated to me that there had never been a charge filed against him by the East Cullman church, much less a withdrawal from him.

"I am fully convinced that Weaver picked up a wholly unreliable report and published it. He has admitted to me that he knows nothing about the actual facts."

When Watson called me Aug. 15, Sept. 3 and 7 and each time denied that Barney B rock had been withdrawn from by East Cullman church, I did not admit to him that I knew nothing about the actual facts. After talking with Watson I learned from one of the elders of East Cullman church that when Watson "investigated the slanderous charge that Weaver published," they had orally told him that what I wrote was true. They told Watson they had withdrawn from Brock previous to his calling me the last two times. Moreover, I learned that the elders wrote Watson the following letter, upon his request, dated August 20, 1963:

"In regards to your inquiry concerning our withdrawal of fellowship from Bro. Barney Brock.

"If we understand what you want, it is proof that we did not withdraw. That information is not to be had at East Cullman Church of Christ. In fact we did withdraw fellowship from Bro. Brock.

"As Elders of the Church at East Cullman we are under no man or group of men, but under God, and over the Church."

I have a carbon copy of this letter to Sterl Watson personally signed by the East Cull-man elders.

Now notice the PREDICAMENT of Brock and Watson. August 20 Watson was told in the above letter that they had withdrawn fellowship from brother Brock. They had earlier told him the same orally. But Sept. 13 after being told the facts, Sterl A. Watson denied the truth in his letter to Whitehead. In addition, after being informed by the elders, Watson wrote his article

"FOOT IN THE MOUTH DISEASE" (which I reviewed in an earlier article) and it was printed in the original September issue of Childhaven News after the elders told him that they had withdrawn from Barney Brock.

Remember, too, that Watson wrote Whitehead Sept. 13, "Since I serve as Public Relations man around here, and having investigated the slanderous charge that Weaver published, I felt that I could make proper comment. In the coming issue of the Childhaven News, this charge is denied, of course."

But, although Watson's denial was written and printed, it was taken out, replaced and 38,000 copies of the September issue of Childhaven News were reprinted. The reason? Sept. 28 I wrote brother Brock the following letter:

"Three times brother Sterl A. Watson has called me about the article I wrote in the summer issue of WALKING BY FAITH in which I mentioned that the East Cullman church, which believes in contributing to Orphan Homes like Childhaven, withdrew fellowship from you. Each time he has denied what I wrote to be true and said that I wrote "a pack of lies." In his last conversation brother Watson told me that I would have a chance to prove it.

"I have adequate proof. Before writing my article I was reliably informed of the matters referred to; however, after receiving brother Watson's calls asking for proof, I have contacted those directly involved and the truthfulness of what I wrote can be readily and amply substantiated.

"If an article is circulated denying the fact of your withdrawal, I plan to respond in every paper and church bulletin possible and reach far more than 38,000. It will be surprisingly strange, though, if an article of denial is sent forth because I know that you know that you were withdrawn from. Otherwise, why did you write your letter of September 14, 1961, to the members of East Cullman church and mention "now that the line of fellowship has been drawn . . ." and why did you go back on Sunday night, September 24, 1961, and make a confession? An article denying the fact will cause many readers to wonder and be suspicious about it who would not have known and it will cause some questions to be asked.

"Be assured that I have no ill-will toward you per-haven. I do believe, though, that the institutional arrangement of churches contributing to another organization or body is not in harmony with the will of God. I believe each congregation is adequate in organization to do the work of the ministry as was done by each church in the first century, Eph. 4:12; Acts 2:44-47; 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Romans 15:25-31; 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9; 1 Timothy 5:16."

After Barney Brock received my letter, he put his foot in Sterl Watson's mouth, too. (Watson already had his own in it as a result of writing his denial "FOOT IN THE MOUTH DISEASE." Brock had Watson's article removed and replaced, then had 38,000 copies of the September issue of Childhaven News reprinted. Why should he care about the expense? It's only money and it's not his. The contributors send it and Brock spends it. So all that paper and ink in those original 38,000 copies and the expense of printing costs were extravagantly wasted (I estimate about $550.00) but remember B rock and Watson both knew at the time Watson's article was written and printed that Brock had been withdrawn from.

When Sterl Watson called me about my article and denied the charge, he told me that he had stopped Yater Tant from publishing articles in the Gospel Guardian about West End in St. Louis. Watson also said that he was going to stop me from writing about Childhaven. But it looks like Barney Brock stopped Watson -- at least in the reprinted September issue. I mailed my reply to Watson's article to both B rock and Watson and have not heard a word out of either one so far. But Watson may have somewhat to say about the matter in the October Childhaven News. If so, compare it with the facts stated herein.

I wonder what happened to those 38,000 copies of Watson's article printed in the original September issue? Did Barney Brock feed them to his hogs? He had better be careful! Watson's article "FOOT IN THE MOUTH DISEASE" soured on him and made him sick, didn't it? If Brock feeds those copies of Watson's article along with the other stuff he has fed his hogs, they may have the same effect on them. (The neighbors who live near Barney B rock's personal farm up from Childhaven know the "significance" of this.)

I wonder what the Board of Trustees of Childhaven think of this extravagant waste in having 38,000 copies of the original September issue reprinted? Surely they know about it for Watson said, "Rest assured that they keep a close watch on our operation." But then, that's what Watson said. In case they have not kept a close watch and don't know about it, I will be glad to furnish next Board Meeting with a copy of the original September issue so all can compare it h the one they received.

What are the workers at Modernistic Printers, Box 394, Cullman, Ala., going to think when they read my reply to Watson's article and this article and learn the real reason for reprinting those 38,000 copies of the September issue of Childhaven News? Wonder what excuse brother Brock gave them?

October 16 M. S. Whitehead wrote me the following:

'I received a letter, signed by the elders of the East Cullman church, stating that they did 'withdraw fellowship' from brother Barney Brock. As it now appears, both brothers, Sterl A. Watson and Barney Brock, should 'crawl,' that is, repent and do some confessing to you and to the reads of Childhaven News. The letter completely exonerates Richard Weaver from a charge of misrepresentation of the facts. And, later, I intend to so inform brother Watson."

Brethren, it's obvious the PREDICAMENT these fellows are in. Because it applies to both Barney Brock and Sterl Watson. I'm quoting what Sterl Watson said in 1954 in the Indianapolis Debate, page 215. "Every time you whitewash that thing, you make it blacker . . . the only way to do is just get up and repudiate the (mistake) and say, 'I made an unfortunate (mistake) that wasn't right.' Make it in your own words, but make the statement, and don't try to get around it."

But in case they do try to get around it and justify their denial of the withdrawal by a "rig-a-ma-role" of procedure, then brother Watson is going to meet himself coming back. My reply to such an attempt will be to let Watson debate Watson on that.

Truth Magazine VIII: 5, pp. 15-17
February 1964