Protest scheduled for Saturday against WOFF members’ business
Published 9:37 am Friday, March 10, 2017
by Leah Justice and Claire Sachse; email@example.com
TRYON – A group of local residents has scheduled a protest in front of 10 N. Trade Café and Bakery following accusations of alleged abuse by Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) leaders in Rutherford County.
The owner and employees of 10 N. Trade are members of the Spindale church.
The Town of Tryon has received a notice of intent to picket, which is required to protest in town. The protest will be in front of 10 N. Trade Café and Bakery at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 11.
Chris Tinkler, who applied for the notice of intent to picket, said the Associated Press uncovered allegations of abuse of WOFF members, including children. He said protesters think the community deserves to know what the café’s relationship is to WOFF and whether any of the money patrons spend in the business goes to Jane Whaley, WOFF’s pastor, and her organization.
“The Associated Press uncovered widespread allegations of physical and emotional abuse of WOFF members, including children,” said Tinkler. “These reports are profoundly disturbing, but they are not new. We think the community deserves to know what the café’s relationship is to WOFF, and whether any of the money we spend in this business ultimately finds its way into the hands of Jane Whaley and her organization.”
Liz Rose Berry, who owns 10 N. Trade, said she has been a WOFF member for over 20 years. Berry told the Bulletin this week that the church has no financial ties to her business.
“The church has no financial ties to my business,” Berry said. “I tithe off my personal income.”
Berry started Café at the Mall in Forest City in 1999 and opened 10 N. Trade approximately 13 years ago. She also opened Café to Go at the mall about five years ago.
Tinkler said people care about the employees at the bakery and worry about them.
“We care about the café employees and worry about their economic exploitation and physical, emotional and spiritual abuse,” said Tinkler. “We are concerned for the well-being of their children as well. We want to support local business, but we do not want to contribute even indirectly to an organization repeatedly surrounded by allegations of exploitation and assault. We can no longer eat there with a clear conscience.”
Berry said all employees at 10 N. Trade are members of WOFF and they are paid by direct deposit, they report tips and she has a professional accountant keep her books. Berry also said her employees are not “unpaid labor” as recently alleged in a blog post by Drew Millard that has been circulating Facebook.
“We are an independent business,” Berry said, “but nobody minds saying they attend Word of Faith Fellowship.”
Berry said Tryon is a tough market for restaurants but customers say the food is consistently good.
“My mission in Tryon is to serve quality, delicious food here,” Berry said. “That’s how you show you care — the way food is prepared and put on the plate and the table.”
Stacey Odell, a salaried manager at 10 N. Trade, has been a WOFF member for more than 20 years.
“We have overwhelming support from the community,” Odell said. “Customers have come in to un-protest, meaning ‘we don’t believe it because we know you.’”
10 N. Trade’s owner and employees have not been mentioned in the recent series of Associated Press articles.
The Bulletin also reached out to Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples and commissioners Crys Armbrust, Bill Crowell, Bill Ingham and Roy Miller asking if they plan to attend the protest and any comments they have regarding the protest.
Peoples responded that he doesn’t plan to attend the protest because he will be with a group cleaning up the Tryon Cemetery on Saturday.
“In America we have the right to protest,” Peoples said. “When they were permitted, it allowed them to exercise their constitutional right to a peaceful protest within the parameters set by the town.”