The Leader-Telegram Articles

Updated: A second article ran the following week, profiling morality and how things were allowed to happen at Valleybrook.

A few weeks ago, right after this website got off the ground, I was asked by Jody Hagedorn (Nate’s mother) if I would be interested in talking to a reporter from the Leader Telegram who was putting together a story on what had happened at Valleybrook. She wanted people to know what transpired, and what happened to her son. Shortly after agreeing, Eric Lindquist called me from the Leader Telegram and we started talking. Over the next couple of weeks, Eric and I emailed back and forth, with the occasional phone call, to clarify some things he had heard from other interviewees, or to see if I had a document or audio recording in my archives that I hadn’t yet posted.

This past Sunday, the article finally came out. And it wasn’t just one article – it was two! And it wasn’t just two articles – there was a video as well!

If you haven’t gotten a chance to read them yet, here are the links to each piece of media. Fear not! You can view up to 7 articles for free before they’ll ask you to buy an online subscription.

The Article About Valleybrook
The Article About Nate Hagedorn and His Parents
The Second Article About Valleybrook

Update: Added a second Leader-Telegram article that ran a week later, along with an update description in the header.

The Knitting

Left: Nate Hagedorn Right: Doug Lebsack

Left: Nate Hagedorn
Right: Doug Lebsack

Tales from the Cult is a website dedicated to preserving important artifacts from a church in Eau Claire where horrific spiritual abuse took place over several years. If you haven’t read the About This Site page, please do so before reading any article here.


This message was originally delivered to the Valleybrook congregation on August 11, 2013 with a joint teaching from Doug and Nate. In it, Doug talks about hearing commands from God, and then telling Nate what God told him. They both go back and forth about this on stage for awhile, saying things like, “Seriously? Nate Hagedorn? I mean could it please be Grant Schultz?”

As of this moment in 2013, Doug and Nate were essentially one person. They shared an office. They shared an email account. They did Sunday messages together. And in one particularly disturbing quote from Nate, “Doug is the last person I see at night and the first person I see in the morning.”

Keep in mind, these men both have wives of their own…yet somehow have a deeper connection than that?

I’d like to clear up some rumors that I know are circulating:

  1. YES Doug Lebsack has legally adopted Nate Hagedorn and his family.
  2. YES Nate’s last name will legally be Lebsack.
  3. NO There is no evidence of homosexual behavior here.
  4. YES Nate moved to Grapevine, Texas with Doug.
  5. NO Neither of their families, outside of their wives and kids, moved with them.

Here is the audio from that Sunday teaching. I have set this up in a way that you should be able to make comments at specific points in the audio, should you hear something “interesting” and would like to make a note of it. These comments will be public. You may need a Soundcloud account to comment on the audio, but you can listen for free right here:

This media player will also be available on the Media page.


Tales from the Cult is a free effort to bring stories of abuse into the light so they may be prevented from happening again. There is not now, and will never be, a fee to access this site. Thank you for reading, and please remember to share posts you find interesting to increase our web presence.

Women in Leadership

Tales from the Cult is a website dedicated to preserving important artifacts from a church in Eau Claire where horrific spiritual abuse took place over several years. If you haven’t read the About This Site page, please do so before reading any article here.


There is a long conversation to be had here about the debate within religious sects regarding women having roles in churches.

The church I grew up in employed female pastors1. They were fully ordained and were equal to their male counterparts. Many people had a problem with that. I never understood why.

My current church, post-Valleybrook, has only one pastor, and that pastor is male. At one point he talked about how the denomination comes down on women in leadership, and from what I remember (and please don’t hold me to this, I might be remembering this very wrong) the gist is that women can absolutely be leaders within the church, but they should not be pastors. I can’t remember if they can be Elders/Overseers/Deacons2. I don’t think they can.

So, I’m just going to jump into the document here. Doug wrote this paper on Valleybrook’s stance on women in leadership. It’s a point of view. Take from it what you will, it is merely presented here to be preserved.

You can download it here, and it’s available on the Media page.

As a reminder, the Discussion page is available if you’d like to talk to other readers about the content. You’ll need to make a free account to be able to post, but that’s only for accountability purposes. (Example, if your comments are consistently abusive in nature, I can just take away your commenting privileges. Likewise, once you’ve made your first comment, future comments from you won’t be held for moderation )

One last bit of housekeeping, there is one post yet to come today, and then I’m off for the weekend. I’ll be back with some audio posts on Monday!


Tales from the Cult is a free effort to bring stories of abuse into the light so they may be prevented from happening again. There is not now, and will never be, a fee to access this site. Thank you for reading, and please remember to share posts you find interesting to increase our web presence.


  1. It also employed gay pastors, which was fairly divisive for the church. 
  2. For Valleybrook, they’re called Overseers. For my current church, they’re Elders. For my original church growing up, they’re Deacons. They all do pretty much the same thing. There was at least one female Overseer at Valleybrook that I knew of. 

Rejected by Family

Tales from the Cult is a website dedicated to preserving important artifacts from a church in Eau Claire where horrific spiritual abuse took place over several years. If you haven’t read the About This Site page, please do so before reading any article here.


If you’ve read the report that Converge wrote about Valleybrook, you’ll know that there is a huge pattern of manipulation by separation. At times, it seemed like the only goal of Valleybrook was to separate people from their biological families; to separate the chosen from the not chosen. There are a lot of examples of this, but most notably it came from a program called Wounded Heart.

When Wounded Heart started, it was so good. It was so good. I was in high school at the time, dating a freshman in college, and she went through the group, and it was so good for her. When they opened up the group for men too (although it should be noted: the groups have always been one gender, with the exception of a special session we did once where couples could do it together) I went through it. And it was so good.

But all of that was when Valleybrook was still using the approved Wounded Heart curriculum. There was an intense training week (in Michigan, I think) taught by licensed professionals to train leaders to do the program in their home churches. There was a book (written by Dan Alexander, if you’re interested here’s a link to Amazon) and there was a curriculum guidebook to go along with it. And it wasn’t just for sexual abuse. In my case, it was an emotional thing with my dad. For others, it was emotional stuff with their spouses. Or whoever.

But then it got steered off track. Valleybrook poured some of its Kool-Aid into the Wounded Heart pitcher, mixed it up, and titled it “Wounded.” This…this was totally different than Wounded Heart. This was basically, “you’ve been wounded, whether you know it or not, and we’re going to pull it out of you one way or another, even if you have to delude yourself into thinking something happened that actually didn’t.”

Icky stuff. “Wounded” was certainly not an evolution of “Wounded Heart”…it was a corruption. And I’m sorry to say I took a part in leading that.

So, what happens after you’ve been separated from your biological family? Well, now you’ve got this great new church family! You might even get yourself knit to someone else in the church! Congratulations!

One of us, one of us, one of us

Let me be clear here: certainly there are people who need to get away from abusive families. Certainly many people were absolutely wounded by something in their lives. And certainly it was a very positive thing for people to finally find a community that seemed to accept them for who they were.

But what happens when that community turns on you? What happens when you’ve placed your trust in something, or someone, and you get bit? What happens when you’ve cut your family off completely on the “advice and counsel” of an unqualified leader, who didn’t really have your best interests at heart at all?

That’s what you’re about to read in this letter from Kristy Paulson. Kristy led a Wounded Heart group on several occasions. We led at the same time for a few sessions1. We were both pretty deep into the pitcher of Kool-Aid, although she was self-admittedly more of a “maverick” than me…even when Wounded took that weird left hand turn, she did what she thought was right within her small groups. Which ought to be commended.

But Kristy found herself in that situation I just outlined above. What happens when the people you expect support from hang you out to dry? The answer is: you need a whole different kind of “Wounded Heart.”

Today’s article is a personal letter from Kristy Paulson to Mary Clark, the former Executive Pastor at Valleybrook Church. Someday, Mary will get her very own article here on Tales to discuss all of the abuse that she was a part of, but for today, here is a letter in which Kristy outlines her experiences with Mary Clark2.

You can download it here, and as always it will be available on the Media page.


Tales from the Cult is a free effort to bring stories of abuse into the light so they may be prevented from happening again. There is not now, and will never be, a fee to access this site. Thank you for reading, and please remember to share posts you find interesting to increase our web presence.


  1. I led one of several men’s groups, she led one of several women’s groups. 
  2. And of course, YES I have explicit written permission from Kristy to use both her real name and post this letter for everyone to see. Thank you, Kristy! 

Chosen

Tales from the Cult is a website dedicated to preserving important artifacts from a church in Eau Claire where horrific spiritual abuse took place over several years. If you haven’t read the About This Site page, please do so before reading any article here.


I was publicly mum about the topic of Valleybrook ever since my exile. Behind closed doors I talked about it a lot with friends and family, but not so much to anyone else. I just didn’t care enough to do anything.

That changed when Chosen was published.

This is, quite frankly, the most horrific bunch of lies I’ve ever laid eyes on. There is a place for a well-thought, line-by-line rebuttal against the paper, but this article certainly isn’t it…and quite honestly this author isn’t qualified to do so.

What I would like you to do is have a bible open next to you when you read it, if you decide to do so. When Doug cites passages, go read them, and read their context, because they’re taken far out of it.

The Chosen paper can be downloaded here as a PDF, and is also available on the Media page.

Additionally, there is a cover letter that was sent to select members of leadership at Valleybrook. One such leader, who I’ll call Badger, was kind enough to forward me their copy. You can download it here as a PDF, and it is available on the Media page.

Many people in and outside of the Valleybrook community found this paper to be disturbing, and had a lot of questions. So, Doug and Nate got up on stage on a Thursday night in February and tried to defend a defenseless paper.

The audio for the Thursday night meeting will be available later today.

The paper and the audio is no longer available from Valleybrook’s website, and that’s exactly the point of this one: to preserve what ought not be deleted, to hold accountable the individuals responsible.


Tales from the Cult is a free effort to bring stories of abuse into the light so they may be prevented from happening again. There is not now, and will never be, a fee to access this site. Thank you for reading, and please remember to share posts you find interesting to increase our web presence.

Comments are Open

Just a quick note as this site gets up and running:

Comments are now open, but only on the Discussion page. Individual articles and pieces of media will not have comments enabled except under rare circumstances. You should instead seek out the Discussion page, available in the site menu, or directly at this link here.

Additionally, more media will be posted today, so stay tuned.

What Happened in Eau Claire

Tales from the Cult is a website dedicated to preserving important artifacts from a church in Eau Claire where horrific spiritual abuse took place over several years. If you haven’t read the About This Site page, please do so before reading any article here.


Attached here is the report that Converge1 wrote about Valleybrook Church, following two days of intensive interviews with anyone who had a story to share relevant to Valleybrook Church.

I would like to briefly give my take on this report before I share the link…and I really mean briefly:

They nailed it. Those of us who have been out of the church for awhile have been seeing and saying these things for years, and now it’s public information. And they didn’t miss a thing.

Without further ado, here’s a PDF of the Valleybrook Church Report. This report will also be made available under “Media” in the site menu2.


Tales from the Cult is a free effort to bring stories of abuse into the light so they may be prevented from happening again. There is not now, and will never be, a fee to access this site. Thank you for reading, and please remember to share posts you find interesting to increase our web presence.


  1. Again, more on Converge later. But if you’re curious, it’s like Valleybrook’s denomination’s HQ. Kind of. Valleybrook was/is affiliated through Great Lakes Baptist Conference, which was renamed to Converge. 
  2. If you’re on a mobile device, the site menu is at the very top of the page, indicated by three horizontal bars. If you’re on a laptop or desktop, the menu is likely floating around on the left side of the page, indicated also by three horizontal bars.