Death of Twelve Tribes founder leaves future uncertain for international Christian movement founded in Chattanooga

The Yellow Deli on McCallie Avenue is pictured on Jan. 28, 2021 next to a picture of the late Twelve Tribes founder. The restaurant is run by the Twelve Tribes, a religious community whose founder died this month, raising questions about the future of the group.
photo Staff photo by Wyatt Massey / The Yellow Deli on McCallie Avenue is pictured on Jan. 28, 2021. The restaurant is run by the Twelve Tribes, a religious community whose founder died this month, raising questions about the future of the group.

The founder of the Twelve Tribes died last month, raising questions about the future of the religious movement created in Chattanooga that operates businesses around the world and for decades has faced accusations of child abuse.

Elbert Eugene Spriggs Jr., known in the movement by the Hebrew name "Yoneq" and "the anointed one," died at the Twelve Tribes's campus in Hiddenite, North Carolina, on Jan. 11 at age 83, according to a death certificate from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

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