Chronology of Kuhlmann-Ezzo correspondence

Chronology of our interactions with GFI

by Joel and Kathryn Kuhlmann

What follows is a chronology of our involvement with the GFI controversy. We have included links to the original documents. You will want to download the pdf versions if you want to see Gary Ezzo's actual handwritten comments to us.

Our response to GFI's public statement about us can be found by clicking here.

Letter to Calvary of Albuquerque (May 1996)
Our letter to Richard Encinias at Calvary| PDF version (60 k)
Our first correspondence regarding the GFI curriculum was a letter to Richard Encinias, the Assistant Pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque in charge of family ministries. This letter was written in May of 1996, and was based on concerns we had after observing the teachings being used and after watching one of the Preparation for Parenting videos. We borrowed the book that accompanied the video, and were immediately struck by the legalistic nature of the material and the way it absolutely misrepresented the attachment style of parenting. We were aware that our church was offering these classes and thus endorsing the program, and believed we had an obligation to voice our concerns and make certain that the church was aware of the controversy surrounding the material in Christian circles. We had come across some of this controversy during early research into GFI, but we had no idea at that time how widespread the controversy was or would become.

We also had no idea that Richard Encinias was the New Mexico Regional Director for GFI, and were not expecting nor were we prepared for the antagonistic response we received from him. He called Kathy at work immediately after receiving the letter and was openly upset at the concerns raised. He actually challenged her (a parishioner whom he had never met before) to a debate over the materials.

We had a face-to-face meeting with Richard shortly after this, and the results were the same. He was aggressive almost to the point of being hostile, essentially saying we didn't know what we were talking about and had misrepresented what Ezzo meant; he denied that there were any problems with the materials.

Richard Encinias suggested we write to Gary Ezzo directly, and offered to hand-deliver our correspondence to Ezzo.

Letter to Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo (August 1996)
Our letter to Gary Ezzo | PDF version (100 K)
Between May and August of 1996 we spent a great deal of time familiarizing ourselves with the Preparation for Parenting curriculum. We purchased a copy of the textbook (5th edition at that time) which we studied at great length. By the time we wrote our letter to Gary Ezzo, we were very familiar with the teachings in this book.

First Response from Gary Ezzo (September 1996)
1st response from Gary Ezzo | PDF Version (1 MB)
In September of 1996 we received a response from Gary Ezzo. His response was a photocopy of his handwritten comments in the margins of our original letter. In addition, we received a copy from Ezzo of the letter we had written to Richard Encinias in May; this letter also contained Gary Ezzo's handwritten comments. (Our letter to Richard Encinias with comments from Gary Ezzo | PDF Version )(200K) It became obvious to us that Ezzo discounted our letter to him based on his reading of the letter we had written to Richard three months earlier.

The letter to Richard was intended for Calvary of Albuquerque, not Gary Ezzo, and was written before we had studied the Preparation for Parenting material extensively. Unbeknownst to us, Richard gave this letter to Ezzo, and Ezzo based his response on this letter, rather than on the one we wrote to him.

Letter to Gary Ezzo (September 1996)
Our reply to Gary Ezzo | PDF Version (60 K)
We were very disappointed in the inadequate and unprofessional response that we received from Gary Ezzo, so we sent him a tongue-in-cheek reply saying that surely there must have been some mix-up in his correspondence department and that we must have gotten a copy of his rough notes instead of the final letter that he intended to send.

Second Response from Gary Ezzo (October 1996)
2nd response from Gary Ezzo | PDF Version (1.1 MB)
A few weeks later we received another response from Gary Ezzo. It was once again a copy of our first letter to him, but this time we received his original hand-written comments, so at least they weren't cut off in the margins from being photocopied. Also, he added a few more comments and a Post-It note with the following:

"There was no mistake - this is the response. Your letter although I'm sure sincere was so badly flawed in its assertions that any other type of response was rendered useless. The very fact that you did not even get the name of the curriculum correct when writing to Richard was a fairly good indicator of what was to follow. And what follow [sic] simply lacked intellectual honesty."

Unfortunately, this seems typical of GFI's response in many cases. Ezzo is saying in a very condescending manner that our letter did not deserve any more attention than he gave it, and was not worthy of any more professional response than his scribbled comments. He also admits to using the letter we wrote to Richard Encinias as the basis for his pre-conceived notion of what our letter to him would be like.

As we said above, the letter to Richard was written three months prior to the letter to Ezzo, before we had studied the Preparation for Parenting material in detail. It was not written to Gary Ezzo. GFI consistently points to people's use of the term "Growing Kids God's Way" in reference to their entire program as evidence of ignorance and uses that as an excuse to discount anything further that person may say. In our case, the letter to Richard was certainly written before we were aware of the nuances of the entire GFI organization. Certainly Ezzo must have noticed that in the letter addressed to him we referred to their program in a correct manner throughout.


Contact | ©2006 Steve Rein