Note: In February 2020, Xenos Christian Fellowship changed its name to Dwell.
Ties that bind? Has an area ministry with a focus on youth forced itself between mother and son?
On a Saturday night in November, as a small group gathered for a Bible study at a Fairchild Avenue church in Kent, a woman stood along the street waving a sign: “I Want My Son Back.”
She brought her husband and daughter, too.
“Xenos is a Cult” and “Tom, Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid,” said some of their signs.
She has launched a religious war that has engaged the Stow police, mayor, high school and a municipal judge. She started an Internet blog and is trying to rally others to the cause.
Online, she makes allegations of alcohol abuse, vandalism and brainwashing of young children. She calls the church leader and his family “Devil man,” “Devil wife” and “Devil son.”
Her son, meanwhile, left home to live with church friends and has received an ultimatum from his parents: “Us or the church.”
Xenos Christian Fellowship is her target.
The congregation of about 160 rented space at Riverwood Community Chapel in Kent until Smith’s sidewalk protests raised concerns among the Riverwood leadership. Now the group meets mostly in Stow and Cuyahoga Falls homes, community buildings and restaurants.
The local Xenos leader, Keith McCallum, a bearded former software writer, accuses Smith of a “terror campaign” and threatening to shoot him. He said her allegations have no merit.
In a quarter century of ministry, he said, “we’ve never had any lawsuits, crimes or misdemeanors filed against us.”