Creating a New Society

David and the newly formed team left California in April of 1969, for a brief stay in Tucson, Arizona. From there, they crisscrossed North America on a year-long witnessing trek which attracted much media attention and about 50 new members. A newspaper reporter in Camden, New Jersey, was the first to liken them to "Moses and the Children of God," and the names stuck.

"We are proving that it can be done, a total 100% living for God!"

In January 1970, the group settled at an abandoned ranch in Texas that had formerly been Fred Jordan's "Texas Soul Clinic" (TSC) missionary training camp. Since leaving California, the group had doubled in size to about 120. Here David set about implementing his vision for a New Testament community. He trained the young converts, and encouraged them to be a living example of Early Church Christianity and to reach the world with the Gospel. At the time he wrote:

We are here to preach not a 50% or a 70%, but a total 100% living for God: living in a totally new society, loving one another and having the Truth. Our message will go over the whole world ... [T]hey will hear about Jesus from you because you will be living it. You will be a living ensample of the Truth. You are preaching it in the greatest way of preaching--by living it! [1]

It was at this time that David met the woman who was to become his wife, after the dissolution of his first marriage. Karen Zerby (known by Family members as Maria), was an active Christian in Tucson, Arizona. In January 1969, she encountered a few members of David's "Teens for Christ" visiting from California.

They told her about their work with the hippies, and she returned to Huntington Beach with them. The daughter of a minister, Maria's background, and Christian college secretarial training made her an ideal addition to David's personal staff and household. Maria, who was many years younger than David, remained his constant companion for 25 years, from the spring of 1969 until his passing in 1994.

Maria assumed the administrative and spiritual oversight of the Family International after David's passing. Her husband, Steve Kelly (known to the Family as Peter Amsterdam) also serves as co-administrator.

  1. "Our Message," published in 1974.