Couple resolves custody dispute

RUTHERFORDTON — A husband and wife involved in a custody dispute which included the Word of Faith Fellowship reached an agreement Monday before going to trial in domestic court.

Stella Hamrick had taken her two children, ages 8 and 13, with her in November to live with her brother, Rick Cooper, and his family who are members of WOFF.

Robert “Buck” Hamrick got an emergency court order last week to remove the children from the Cooper’s home because he did not want his children indoctrinated into the WOFF lifestyle and feared the children may be taken out of the country.

Word of Faith Fellowship
The Word of Faith Fellowship is an abusive church. Its teachings and practices fall so far outside those of normal, Biblical Christianity, that this church should be considered a cult of Christianity

Stella Hamrick agreed to leave the Cooper home and get a place of her own and not attend the WOFF. Stella will have custody of the children with Buck getting weekend visitation rights.

Stella had already located a house to rent by midday and plans to live there with her mother who is a WOFF member.

Buck Hamrick’s attorney, Ed Hensley, worked with Stella Hamrick’s attorney, Gene Carr, to hammer out a deal and avoid a trial.

The deal was contingent on the children being removed from the Cooper’s and not being exposed to any of the church teachings.

“The concerns were with the home and the church and they are out of the home and the church,” said Hensley. “We are happy with the agreement we made. Everybody seemed to be happy.”

The agreement includes the following:

• “Defendant mother shall not permit the children to attend Word of Faith church or any sister church of said denomination”;

• “Defendant mother shall not employ “strong prayer” or “blasting in her religious upbringing of the children”;

• “Defendant mother will not expose the children to religious literature associated with the Word of Faith Corporation including, but not limited to, video and audio tapes, or any written literature”

The Cooper household has been the focal point of several recent court battles including a custody battle between Shana Muse, whose sister Suzanne Cooper is Rick’s wife.

The Coopers, their daughter Lena and another WOFF member were acquitted Friday on charges of false imprisonment brought by Muse. Muse had lived with the Coopers while she and her four children were members of the WOFF.

Muse claimed that she was held against her will when attempting to leave the house and the church.

Rick and Lena Cooper have countered with assault charges against Muse which are to be heard May 17.

Muse’s four children are in the custody of the Rutherford County Department of Social Services after an October 2003 ruling by Judge Randy C. Pool removed the children from the home of WOFF ministers Kent and Brooke Covington.

Pool was the judge for Monday’s domestic court proceedings.

Pool’s October ruling came after seven days of open court testimony and dozens of pages of affidavits were filed.

Suzanne Cooper and Cindy Cordes, another sister of Muse and a WOFF member, testified against their sister and in favor of the children remaining with the Covingtons.

Muse had left the WOFF in September 2002, but left her children with the Covingtons. Muse said the children refused to go with her because the WOFF and brainwashed them into believing they would go to hell if they left the church.

Muse got treatment at the Wellspring Retreat in Ohio, a center specializing in treating former cult members. She returned in December 2002 to try to get her children back.

Former members of the WOFF and cult experts say the WOFF is a cult because of its unusual practices and a hierarchy which revolves around a powerful central leader.

Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Daily Courier, USA
Apr. 6, 2004
Jerry Stensland

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday April 6, 2004.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject


Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at