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Date Posted:30/03/2010 2:47 PMCopy HTML

The Split with Tom Foster

By Troy Waller

Midway through 1952, Tom Foster began to teach and practise a ‘deliverance’ ministry in which he claimed that it was possible for both Christians and non-Christians to be oppressed by ‘sin’ and ‘demons’.  He also taught that people could be ‘delivered’ from these things by prayer and having them ‘cast out’. This doctrine caused quite a stir amongst some members of the Melbourne NRC.  Kevin Hollins gives his account of the deliverance teaching that was circulating at the time, 

...a situation arose where a doctrine was introduced to the National Revival Crusade in Melbourne by the pastor, Tom Foster...I don’t know where he got hold of it but it was typical of some of the stuff you read in Pentecostal documentation, particularly from overseas..

Well, first of all there were Old Testament examples given where the Lord sent wasps into the cave to get the king’s out and all this sort of stuff...

...the New Testament Scripture that was quoted was that ‘we must lay aside the weights of sin which doth so easily beset us.’  So people were encouraged to kneel down and to tell their problems to go.  Like a person who was inclined to do their block and get angry was told to tell anger to go. [i]

A group of Melbourne NRC members including Kevin and Noel Hollins and headed up by Lloyd Longfield felt that this teaching was neither right or scriptural.  After some internal strife, the church actually divided over the issue.  Those who were against the deliverance teaching, followed Longfield.  This group included the Hollins family, Longfield family and Clayton Family.[ii]  The larger group, numbering around 400 people, remained loyal to their pastor and stayed with Tom Foster. [iii] Lloyd Longfield recalls,

...after a short period of time they (the NRC) got into the devils and demons thing.  And I didn’t see that, the way they presented it, so I moved out. [iv]

Kevin Hollins said,

...I was the pastor of the Glenhuntly assembly and Pastor Tom Foster was the senior pastor.  He gathered the Glenhuntly group together which he had a right to do and he said now, ‘Pastor Kevin, are you with us or against us?’ in effect...

...And by this time I had talked to one or two.  I’d talked to a fellow from the Southern Evangelicals who used to teach at the same school that I taught.  Pastor Longfield had been to see an evangelist from overseas.  In any case, the upshot of it was when you talked about it and discussed it with others they said ‘It’s not in the Bible’.

...In any case, it was decided that if Tom, Pastor Tom Foster, was insistent on going ahead with this, then we couldn’t because there is no Scripture.

...Tom decided to go ahead with it and much to our sadness he refused to drop it.  So a number of us said ‘We can’t go ahead with this’ and we had to form another group. [v]

As might be expected, Tom Foster has his own account of the events concerning the split and although he is ready to admit to some extremes with the deliverance issue, he implies that other issues were involved in the split.  In 1990, prior to his death, Foster wrote a letter to another Crusade pastor in which he recalled,

1.  In September, 1952, a Crusade pastor had a remarkable deliverance from a spirit of infirmity which had bound him for many years and for which there was no medical way out.  When he was prayed for he was set free and his body was healed.  At an Officers meeting of the N.R.C. I mentioned this testimony and Lloyd Longfield said that he also needed to “come under the eye of God”, but would seek deliverance on his own.  He did this at Sorrento and came back with the glowing experience which he shared at the next Officer’s meeting.  However his mother was a “card sharper” and represented the Sate of Victoria in a Bridge tournament with N.S.W.  She violently opposed any sort of deliverance, when she needed it as much as anyone from gambling.  She persuaded Lloyd to recant on his deliverance and rake over the assembly from me.  At the next Officer’s meeting Lloyd renounced his deliverance experience - denounced me for the deliverance message, and announced his separation forthwith from me - indefinitely.


2.  Lloyd then came to our home in Frankston, and in the presence of Les Hollins and David Kennedy said that he was taking over the Melbourne Assembly and would not allow me into Kelvin Hall the next Sunday.  I told him that the assembly would have to decide that and we called a meeting for the next Wednesday, for our members.  A “member” was one who came regularly to the Sunday morning meeting.  120 members turned up to this “open” meeting for everyone.  Lloyd did not come but all his family and friends did.  The position was explained about the leadership challenge and the vote taken.  30 voted for Lloyd and 90 voted for me.  David Kennedy was the Assembly Secretary and you could contact him for confirmation for any of these 5 points.


3.  Lloyd then went to see Leo (Harris) in Adelaide and gave Leo his version of  “Deliverance” and sought his support.  No doubt there were imperfections in our presentation of the subject as it was then new to all of us.  Leo was very impressed with Lloyd and we can understand that - as we all know Lloyd can be very persuasive and equally decisive and dogmatic.  He still is!  Leo Authorised Lloyd to take over the Melbourne Assembly and they both dismissed me.  There was no need for me to “withdraw” or a “parting” as that was already decided in Adelaide, seeing I was already dismissed.


4.  Lloyd came back to Melbourne with Leo’s authority and went to our H.Q. at 90 Queen St, where he took control of our files, records, contracts and all banking books.  He then went to our E.S.&A bank - now the A.N.Z.-and requested that they hand over the funds to him.  The Accountant refused to do so without my consent, and then “froze” all our accounts until it was decided who really represented the N.R.C.  Lloyd also went to 3Gl and 3XY requesting control of our Radio Sessions, which they reused without my consent.  He also went to Kelvin Hall for control there which was refused.  This meant that all our Melbourne Assembly work was in jeopardy.  Lloyd had taken over our H.Q., took control of all our books and files, the radio sessions were threatened, and Kelvin Hall endangered, with our bank accounts “frozened” [sic].


5.  The bank made it clear that they would not “unfreeze” our accounts until after the matter was settled legally as to who had authority - Tom Foster or Lloyd Longfield.  This meant that that we had to have legal advice, seeing that we had as yet no Constitution.  The Solicitors - Braham & Pirani - requested the Minute Book for the Assembly Special meeting, which they examined and found it in order.  They then drew up a Constitution which also would require Registration under the Companies Act.   The bank examined these documents, found them correct and the “unfroze” our Bank Accounts for our use.


...Lloyd made clear his attitude to Crusade principles when he positively declared - “I have always been a loner - Tom -I don’t like this “team” work as I have always been number 1.”  As Lloyd made Leo promise not to see me unless Lloyd was present made it impossible for me to have access to Leo if I went to see him in Adelaide. [vi]

            Although Paul Longfield cannot agree with many of the decisions that his father has made throughout his ministry, Paul believes that Lloyd was justified in his decision to leave the NRC over the deliverance issue. 

My observation as a young person at that time would have been that the legitimacy of  my father’s pulling away from the NRC, particularly over the issue of what I considered to be... bizarre manifestations and claims relating to demonology and deliverance.  I think that my Father’s move was a wise one at the time.  Whether his motivation was to leadership or whether it was because he genuinely had a concern for not wanting to be involved in false teachings or false practises, perhaps I am not in a position to totally assess.  Though I do believe from my observations at the time that the primary objective was not a desire to take over the leadership but rather a desire not to be involved in things that he considered to be unbiblical.[vii] 

Paul also said that Tom Foster admitted that the deliverance ministry at the time of the split was extreme and regretted it. 

Having spoken to Tom (Foster) on the matter since, he related to me that he believed that they, meaning Tom and those who followed him, made many mistakes in those times and saw things differently now.  Particularly with regards to demons and deliverance.  And he was most open with us when we had only just left the Revival Centres that they were mistaken practises in those days.  And he regretted the split that took place between himself and my father over these issues.[viii]

One point worth noting is that whilst most of the pastors within Victoria sided with Longfield, Don Dawson, who was pastoring the Frankston assembly, decided to remain with Foster.  So, Longfield’s small group of about 40 people in Melbourne, along with the Geelong, Glenhuntly, Ballarat and Bendigo assemblies all stayed unified with Leo Harris whilst Foster’s Melbourne assembly and Don Dawson’s Frankston assembly were disassociated from the others.  Under the heading, ‘Melbourne N.R.C. Assembly’, the National Revivalist reported the division by saying,

Owing to the recent cleavage in the Melbourne work, meetings of the Melbourne Assembly are being held at the Victorian Headquarters Office and Bookroom, 90 Queen Street, Melbourne.

Pastor Lloyd R. Longfield will be continuing meetings...

Arrangements are being made to obtain a suitable hall for Sunday meetings in the city of Melbourne.  We covet the prayers of “Revivalist” readers for God’s guidance during this period of reconstruction following the recent attack of the enemy in the introduction of false doctrine and fanaticism in Melbourne.

Meanwhile we invite all our Melbourne friends to join with us as we remain loyal to God’s Word and the N.R.C. platform. [ix]

Obviously Foster’s teaching on the deliverance issue was extreme and unscriptural.  It also seems that Longfield was genuinely concerned and perhaps acted in the best interests of the assembly.  But it is also possible that he was ambitious and took the opportunity to seize the leadership of the Melbourne assembly.    Perhaps it was a combination of motivations. Nevertheless, time has long since passed and we can only listen to the differing accounts as told by those involved and speculate at best. Whatever Longfield's motivations, this was only the first of many divisions that would characterise the Revival Centres movement in the future.

 

Footnotes

[i] Recorded interview with Kevin Hollins.  Mount Waverley, Victoria.  15/7/1994

[ii] Transcript of the presentation, History of the Revival Centres 1949-1989.  Performed at the Melbourne Revival Centre, 1989.

[iii] Flames of Revival p 79

[iv] Recorded interview with Lloyd Longfield. Hawthorn, Victoria.  1/9/1994

[v] Recorded interview with Kevin Hollins.  Mount Waverley, Victoria.  15/7/1994

[vi] Letter from Tom Foster dated 30/04/1990.

[vii] Interview with Paul Longfield.  Ringwood, Victoria.  7/10/1997

[viii] ibid

[ix] National Revivalist #124. December, 1952. p4

 

 

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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:30/03/2010 2:49 PMCopy HTML


Tom Foster Writes About the Split with Longfield












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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:30/03/2010 2:51 PMCopy HTML

The National Revivalist Reports the Split



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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:31/03/2010 12:25 AMCopy HTML

Obviously Foster’s teaching on the deliverance issue was extreme and unscriptural.  It also seems that Longfield was genuinely concerned and perhaps acted in the best interests of the assembly.  But it is also possible that he was ambitious and took the opportunity to seize the leadership of the Melbourne assembly.    Perhaps it was a combination of motivations. Nevertheless, time has long since passed and we can only listen to the differing accounts as told by those involved and speculate at best. Whatever Longfield's motivations, this was only the first of many divisions that would characterise the Revival Centres movement in the future.


If Past behaviour presents future behaviour  Didn't this (opportunity to seize the leadership) precisely happen in 1995,  wasn't the fabricated morals policy simply an excuse to get John Kullman who was 2IC of RCI out of the picture, so as to pass it onto Simon and keep the Longfield trust alive and well.

Its pretty rough,  I might be one who doesn't agree with a lot of what Ian Thomson writes, :)  but I do thoroughly recommend what he wrote on the morals policy, this and along with what Alf Neri also wrote, is spot on. I found it sad that many many family's were torn apart over what appeared to be just a battle for power. 

Still with current proceedings in the Glenn Duker court case I don't think it will be long before the truth is out.

I'm hearing that Simon is buying up a lot of the caravans at Freshwater swamp, and with the suburbs currently close by either side of the place and fast catching up, and the Land being worth possibly around the 15 million mark,  I can see why he'd be doing that !!!!.  Food for thought ehe



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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:31/03/2010 2:09 AMCopy HTML

I wonder how much the average Revivalist knows about their own church history?
Not a lot I would bet, I knew nothing untill I found this forum.
Keep the info coming!
"Try not to burn the toast"
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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:23/06/2010 1:22 PMCopy HTML

Does anyone know where is Kevin Hollins these days?

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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:23/06/2010 6:40 PMCopy HTML

Reply to Guest

Does anyone know where is Kevin Hollins these days?


Kevin Hollins, last I heard 17 years ago was still with the RCI and very loyal to LLoyd but these days he may have passed away...

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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:23/06/2010 10:43 PMCopy HTML

Kevin Hollins is still around,  hes in a nursing home in Bayswater.



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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:09/07/2010 3:35 AMCopy HTML

 What about Tom Foster?  Is he still around?
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Re:1941 to 1952 - The Split with Tom Foster

Date Posted:09/07/2010 10:51 AMCopy HTML

No. Tom died in the '90s. He went to the grave still convinced of the truth of British Israelism.

His daughter is married to Pastor Rob Bailey of the CRC. Last I heard they were in Ballarat. They're usually very open to discuss Tom and the NRC/CRC/RCI if you ask nicely.  ;)

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