In the days since the Times Free Press published its investigation into the His Name is Flowing Oil ministry in Dalton, Georgia, the team behind the Bible allegedly producing oil continues to defend its ministry, despite admitting its leader bought mineral oil and canceling all future prayer services.
At the same time, the church that allowed the ministry to use its space is distancing itself.
Last week, the ministry held the final gathering of its weekly event that would attract hundreds of people to Dalton's Wink Theatre. The ministry team members, including Jerry Pearce and Johnny Taylor, estimated they handed out 350,000 free vials of the oil. People reported being cured of long-term ailments and having profound religious experiences using the oil.
The Times Free Press wrote about the group in November 2019, but began investigating the ministry in the months following, finding that Pearce bought large amounts of mineral oil from the Tractor Supply Co. in Dalton. In a November interview, Pearce said the Bible does not produce oil when the group is traveling with it. The oil only flows when the book is in Dalton, he said.
A series of chemical analyses by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga of Pearce's oil compared to the Ideal brand mineral oil at Tractor Supply found Pearce's oil is petroleum-derived and is a nearly exact match to the product sold at Tractor Supply.
When the Times Free Press began questioning the ministry in January, the ministry said it would not defend its work, something it also said in a November interview.
Since then, however, the ministry began posting messages to its thousands of followers on its website. In a Feb. 4 post, the group said the Bible stopped producing oil on Jan. 10, though it made no mention of this at the weekly gatherings or while visiting several churches in Tennessee and Georgia during the month.
Taylor said he did not mention it when speaking to the Times Free Press nearly two weeks after the oil allegedly stopped flowing because he was not aware then that the flow had stopped. He denied the decision to end the ministry had anything to do with the Times Free Press story.
The document below contains two chemical analyses related to the Times Free Press investigation of the His Name is Flowing Oil ministry. The first analysis, beginning on page 1, was performed by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is of the oil the ministry claimed had been flowing from its Bible. The second analysis, located on page 4 and conducted by the same lab, compares the ministry's Bible oil to the Ideal brand of mineral oil sold at Tractor Supply Co.
"When we did find out, when we did talk about it and it had stopped flowing, my wife and I had been feeling a couple of weeks prior that it was time to stop anyway," Taylor said. "We had just been waiting for the time to stop it. It had nothing to do with circumstances."
Taylor emphasized the ministry is not trying to hide anything.
When questioned in January whether he bought mineral oil at Tractor Supply, Pearce denied the accusations and said the managers at Tractor Supply were lying when they told the newspaper that Pearce had bought gallons of mineral oil from them.
However, after the Times Free Press published its investigation, the ministry again posted to its website, this time admitting Pearce bought mineral oil from Tractor Supply but stating he "has at no time added it to the vials being distributed at meetings, or to the container holding the Bible" and that Pearce's purchase "was made without the knowledge or approval of anyone else in the ministry."
Pearce said in a Tuesday interview he did not think it was relevant to mention the purchase to the Times Free Press. He said he bought eight gallons of mineral oil from Tractor Supply one time to pour on the Bible but God told him to throw it away.
"I was going to pour that oil on the Bible when the Bible quit producing oil," Pearce said. "And the Lord checked my spirit on it."
The ministry's online statement said, "[Pearce] acknowledges that the credibility of the miracle is in question based on the information disclosed in the article. He has expressed remorse for having caused the integrity of the work of God to be questioned because of his action."
Since the decision, the owner of the Wink Theatre, Rock Bridge Community Church, distanced itself from the ministry. On Monday, Pastor Matt Evans said his church was not affiliated with His Name is Flowing Oil and he had not spoken with the group's leadership.
The ministry used the space in addition to other religious organizations or nonprofits, though the group should be honest if mistakes were made, Evans said in a blog post published Monday.
"I do not condone any action that is potentially misleading, deceptive, or fails to align with the whole counsel of God as revealed in the Scriptures," he wrote in the post. "Perhaps the wisest position for us to adopt at this time is one of caution, not cynicism; and prayer, not pessimism."
In the Monday interview, Evans said at this time His Name is Flowing Oil would not be allowed back into the theater if the Bible began flowing with oil again.
Pearce said the decision to close his ministry was not related to the Times Free Press investigation and confirmed that Rock Bridge church had asked the group to leave.
Contact Wyatt Massey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass.