FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)- A 28-year-old Arkansas woman who left her church in Wells, Texas, after being away from family for nearly two years explains in a YouTube video why she decided to return to the church.
Jake Gardner, one of the three pastors at the Church of Wells, also released the following statement on behalf of Catherine Grove:
To all reporters whom it may concern,
Catherine Grove has recorded for you all a statement on the matter of her departure and return to Wells. It is her desire that this suffice for any interview you would otherwise desire of her. She is planning to speak to a written journalist on these matters, but has recorded this for you as a statement on this matter.
"A Tragic Yet Honest Account by Catherine Grove"
It is certainly a very significant and shocking turn of events. May God open your eyes to behold the truth of what is really going on in this controversy. We are amazed at the atrocious behavior of the Groves towards their daughter, and pray they would be held accountable by those with a hand in this matter (as we have sought to do), to the end that their lives and behavior would agree with their confession of Christ.
May God Have Mercy,
Here is the video of Catherine Grove posted on YouTube:
On Friday, April 3, Grove, the former nursing student in Fayetteville, was reunited with her father, Andy Grove, at the Angelina County, Texas, Sheriff's Office, according to Capt. Alton Lenderman.
Authorities located Catherine Grove after she phoned 911 about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, saying she was walking on a road near Wells, Texas. A deputy responding to the call took Grove to the Sheriff’s Department in Lufkin, Lenderman said. Wells is 17 miles north of Lufkin.
The full 911 call Grove made on April 2 can be heard below:
5NEWS Managing Editor Larry Henry also spoke with Sean Morris, another Church of Wells pastor, on April 3 following Grove's return to Arkansas.
Morris said church members offered to give Grove a ride and explained she had left the church after a fight with another member.
The full interview with Morris can be heard below:
According to a report in the Lufkin Daily News, Grove stayed with her family for six days before returning to Wells, where she intends to marry church member Ronnie Saltsman. Grove told the newspaper she left the church to rebuild a relationship with her parents, as long as they respected her decision to stay with the church.
“That evening [I called my dad] I just wanted to remove this pressure upon me. I wasn’t trying to leave the church,” she said.
In September 2013, Grove’s parents, Andy and Patty Grove, told reporters they were worried their daughter had been brainwashed by those belonging to the Church of Wells. She had gone missing from Fayetteville in July 2013, according to the website of the University Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
According to a 2013 report in the Texas Observer, the Church of Wells is an evangelical church “born of discontent with mainstream Christianity.”