Cult Group Mysteriously Disappears from Denver
[October 13, 1998]
The sudden mysterious departure of a Denver, Colorado religious group, Concerned Christians, has left in its wake worried families and concerned anti-cult activists.
Approximately 30 to 60 members of the Concerned Christians group, including several young children, left the Denver metro area without a trace. Their leader, 44-year old Monte Kim Miller of Denver, espoused his belief that an apocalypse would strike Denver, and stated his intention to die in the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999, only to rise again in three days. Miller has made other doomsday predictions and claims to be the voice of God.
Mark Roggeman, a Denver police officer and cult expert, received "...an avalanche of concerned calls from family members." Bill Honsberger, an Aurora minister who has been monitoring Millers' Concerned Christians cult, also fielded distraught calls, as did Janja Lalich of the Cult Recovery and Information Center in Alameda, California.
Another ominous sign appeared in the form of newspapers stacking up in front of Miller's home near Harvard Gulch Park, where he lived with his wife Marcia and their 9-year old son. It was discovered the house had been sold and all furnishings had been removed unobserved by the neighbors, one of whom commented that the couple's departure was sudden. "We didn't even know they had moved out. It was kind of a surprise to us."
When questioned about the disappearance of her son and his family, Miller's mother Shirley responded that she didn't know where he was, and suggested, "You're going to have to talk to him. I haven't heard from him in some time. I love my son, but I just don't have anything to say."
One member of the group called her sister recently from Texas. "She said they were not going to commit suicide," said the woman's sister, requesting anonymity. "She said that she couldn't tell us what they were doing and that I was asking too many questions." Another woman reported a similar disturbing experience with her sister. "She told me that since I didn't believe in what she did, she felt closer to her group than to her family. She'd be with them in the hereafter and not with us."
Ironically, Miller first emerged on the religious scene in the 1980's as an anti-cult activist. Along with Honsberger and Roggeman, Miller originally counseled people involved in cults and so-called New Age religions. In October of 1996, Roggeman, Honsberger and a seminary student confronted Miller with their concern of his control over several people in his group. Their confrontation was prompted by relatives who confided to Honsberger that members of Millers' group were selling their homes and businesses and submitting the liquidated assets to the group. During the confrontation, the three men claimed Miller began speaking to them, according to Miller, "...in God's own voice..." while referring to himself as "Kim" in the third person.
The recent silent, rapid departure of Miller's group did not surprise Honsberger. "They've been talking this way for quite a while, and not hiding it," he remarked during a joint Denver Post/9News report. "According to them, (Miller) is the last prophet on Earth. (They think) he is one of the two witnesses from Revelations 11, which is a biblical account of the end of time. The bigger picture, really, is the notion that, according to him, he and his co-prophet are going to die in the streets of Jerusalem."
Honsberger went on to add that he fears a group suicide is in the making. "I don't think they're going (to Jerusalem) to cheerlead. My fear is that, if (Miller's prophecy) doesn't happen, he's liable to do something bizarre just to ensure his place in history. And there's nobody in his group who could say, 'I don't think the Bible says that.' He has that much control.You question him - you question God."
John Weaver of Lakewood said his ex-wife, Jan Cook, has been a Concerned Christians member since their divorce in 1986. He affirmed the group demands that members surrender their lives to Miller's dictums. Last year, Cook severed ties with their 16-year-old daughter, Nicolette. "My ex-wife hasn't talked to my daughter for more than a year. She told Nicolette that she's not spiritually ready to understand these things." He believes Cook may be Miller's "co-prophet."
Court records reveal Miller and his wife declared personal bankruptcy in October 1997, owing dozens of creditors more than $600,000, including $100,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. The debt was discharged in February. A lawyer involved with the bankruptcy proceedings feels the group may have relocated to Mexico on route to their final destination, Jerusalem.
- John C. Ensslin, Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer, October 8, 1998
- Denver Post Staff Writers Jim Hughes, Mike McPhee, Dave Curtin, Marilyn
- Robinson and intern Geoffrey Koss, October 7, 1998