Sunday, August 27, 2006

Grandview Valley Baptist Church North

George Otis Johnston has been the pastor of the church on the compound (1939 Hebron Rd., Granby, Newton County, MO), where about 35 to 40 church members have been living in mobile homes. The group is believed to have moved there about five to six years ago from a similar compound operated by Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church near Powell in McDonald County.

There are about 11 mobile homes on the property, which is leased from a landowner who is not a member of the church. The Newton County Sheriff said 20 or more adults and at least 15 children lived on the property. Sheriff Copeland described the land that the church is occupying as a compound. "All church members live there and home-school their children. Some of the men work outside the compound, but they raise goats and dogs there, and are selling goat's milk and cheese." Another report indicated that the church operates a dairy farm with numerous head of cattle. A sign at the front of one building proclaimed it to be the business location of the Son Shine Shop, a purveyor of natural health foods, products and herbs, and a provider of aromatherapy, muscle-testing and iridology services by appointment.

A total of 14 children have been removed from the church compound by authorities of the Missouri Division of Family Services. The children range in age from 1 to 12 and are from three of four different families.

About six or eight years ago, the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church split into two congregations, with one sect traveling north to Newton County. The two churches remained close, and had some functions together.

At one time, the Newton County church was located in Newtonia across the street from the Ritchey Mansion, and the grounds also housed a few trailers. However, in 2002, the Newtonia Battlefields Association purchased the house and has since torn it down.


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