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Home >> SDA Offshoots >> Lord Our Righteousness Church (Strong City Cult)
Description

The Lord Our Righteousness Church, sometimes called the Strong City Cult, is a splinter group of the Seventh-day Adventist Church located in a community they call "Strong City", near Travesser Park, Union County, New Mexico. The community consists of approximately fifty people. Its charismatic leader, Michael Travesser (Wayne Bent), is believed by his followers to be the biblical messiah. Travesser said, "I am the embodiment of God. I am divinity and humanity combined."

It was recently featured on National Geographic's show Inside a Cult, talking about how Wayne led his followers to believe that the world would end on 2007-10-31. Bent got that date after calculating a Bible end of the world prophesy number (481) and adding it to the year 1516, when the the Protestant Reformation began, yielding 2007 as a result. The origins of the specific date October 31 are unknown. The Strong City people deny that any such prediction occurred. They say, instead, that the prophetic prediction was for the "last trump" which they believe they are now in. They point to the movies about them as evidence that this judgment day has arrived as prophesied.

The group's website contains frequently updated writings and videos, including a nearly two-hour long documentary entitled Experiencing the Finished Work.

About Michael Travesser aka Wayne Bent

Michael Travesser was born Wayne Curtis Bent, May 18, 1941 in Riverside, California, the second child of Ralph and Elizabeth Bent. When he was three-years-old, Wayne's mother was killed in an automobile accident near the high desert town of Datil, New Mexico. Wayne and his older sister were passengers in the car, but were unhurt. Not long afterward, Wayne's father remarried, eventually bringing four more younger siblings into the family. Having mostly been raised in Southern California, Wayne also lived for a time with relatives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

At eighteen, he left home and joined the U.S. Navy, serving until age twenty, being honorably discharged into the Navy Reserves. In 1962, at age twenty-one, Wayne married, and a year later had his first child, a son, followed by two girls.

In 1967, after being a member of the Southern Baptist Church of Poway, California for about two years, and while holding the position of Sunday School teacher, Wayne became convicted of his lost spiritual condition and was converted to Jesus Christ. He relates that at the time of his conversion, God told him to leave the Baptist church, and to keep the Sabbath. At the time he was unfamiliar with the Seventh-day Adventists, whom he later found and joined a short time later.

Soon after joining the fellowship of Seventh-day Adventists, Wayne was called to the ministry, enrolling in ministerial studies at La Sierra College in Riverside. In 1969, while continuing his education, he began serving as a ministerial intern in a small church in Ramona, California, not far from his old home in Poway.

In 1974 Wayne was transferred from Ramona to a church back in Riverside, California, where he served as associate pastor. During this time he also attended Loma Linda University, receiving his master's degree in religion in 1976. After completing his formal education he was assigned as head pastor to the Adventist Church in Colton, California where he served until 1982.

At that time, leaving the salaried position of church pastor, he relocated to Sandpoint, Idaho to begin working full time on the LifeSupports seminars.

Over time Wayne began to notice opposition to his seminar from the Seventh-day Adventist church hierarchy, and from local pastors of Adventist churches where his seminars were held. This resistance developed even though the doctrine presented was clearly set forth in scripture and in the writings of their own prophet, Ellen White, known parochially as The Spirit of Prophecy.

The contention created by the Adventist leadership over what, to Wayne Bent, was an obvious denial of their own foundational beliefs, resulted in the resignation of his ministerial credentials to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and withdrawal from fellowship in that body. This separation closely preceded the birth, in 1987, of the church known as The Lord Our Righteousness.

By the time Wayne Bent, later to become Michael Travesser, moved to the New Mexico property at Travesser Park in the spring of 2000, he had served as a church pastor and spiritual leader for over thirty years. In this final relocation his thoughts were of retirement, and enjoying the rest and solitude of his new home. According to his own testimony, he had no premonition whatsoever regarding the changes that would shortly occur in his life, and the controversy into which he would be thrust.

In June of 2000, Wayne Bent returned to Sandpoint, Idaho from New Mexico to finalize transactions with the buyer of the former church property. He relates that while on that trip, he was forcefully impressed by God to read the biblical book "Song of Solomon". In years previously, since the book contained images of human lovemaking that most "spiritual" men tend to shun, he would read it only with some considerable religious discomfort. It requires serious effort on the part of the reader to draw from the book the appropriate spiritual connotations, since humanity can easily construe the imagery of itself as purely sensual and ultimately sinful. In this instance, however, he was made quite aware that he must enter in to the full expression of The Song of Solomon, without, in any way, following his own humanity.

Upon returning to New Mexico, Bent developed an in-depth study on The Song of Solomon for the purpose of sharing with the church the things he was receiving from it. He clearly perceived that God was leading the church, through him, into a closer more intimate spiritual communion, as expressed in the imagery of The Song. The following Pentecost camp meeting held later that June, found Wayne asking the congregation then present if they would marry him - still quite unaware of all that would entail. He personally understood it to mean that members of the church would be fully united in heart, mind, spirit and purpose, intimately connected to God in a true love relationship as adduced in The Song. It was not until much later that God brought the understanding to Wayne that this camp meeting marked the beginning of his seven year covenant with the church, which found its completion at Pentecost in May, 2007. This messianic covenant is described in Daniel 9:27: "He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week." In this, as in many time-based prophetic reckonings, a year is often represented as a day, thus making a "week" to be seven years, prophetically.


 

 
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Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this ExposingAdventism.com website is 2007-2008 by Gilbert Jorgensen. Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.