On October 16, 1998, more than 50 members of a Denver doomsday group called Concerned Christians have vanished, raising the possibility of a mass suicide. The group's leader, 44-year old Monte Kim Miller, espoused his belief that an apocalypse would strike Denver, and stated his intention to die in the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999, only to rise again in three days. Miller has made other doomsday predictions and claims to be the voice of God.
Mark Roggeman, a Denver police officer and cult expert, received "...an avalanche of calls from family members." Bill Honsberger, an Aurora minister who has been monitoring Millers' Concerned Christians cult, also fielded distraught calls, as did Janja Lalich of the Cult Recovery and Information Center in Alameda, California.
One member of the group called her sister recently from Texas. "She said they were not going to commit suicide," said the woman's sister, requesting anonymity. "She said that she couldn't tell us what they were doing and that I was asking too many questions." Another woman reported a similar disturbing experience with her sister. "She told me that since I didn't believe in what she did, she felt closer to her group than to her family. She'd be with them in the hereafter and not with us."
Ironically Miller founded Concerned Christians in the early 1980s, preaching against the evils of cults and New Age movements. Along with Honsberger and Roggeman, Miller originally counseled people involved in cults and so-called New Age religions. In October of 1996, Roggeman, Honsberger and a seminary student confronted Miller with their concern of his control over several people in his group. During the confrontation, the three men claimed Miller began speaking to them, according to Miller, "...in God's own voice..." while referring to himself as "Kim" in the third person.
Hal Mansfield, director of the Fort Collins-based Religious Movement Resource Center, said Miller might have started the movement as a financial scam. Nevertheless, the group transformed itself into an apocalyptic personality cult. Miller, 44, claimed that God was using him as a vehicle to speak to his followers. After prophesying that the Apocalypse would begin with an earthquake in Denver on October 16, the cult dropped from sight. It is believed they might be in Mexico en route to Jerusalem.
The recent silent, rapid departure of Miller's group did not surprise Honsberger. "They've been talking this way for quite a while, and not hiding it," he remarked during a joint Denver Post/9News report. "According to them, (Miller) is the last prophet on Earth. (They think) he is one of the two witnesses from Revelations 11, which is a biblical account of the end of time. The bigger picture, really, is the notion that, according to him, he and his co-prophet are going to die in the streets of Jerusalem."
Honsberger went on to add that he fears a group suicide is in the making. "I don't think they're going (to Jerusalem) to cheerlead. My fear is that, if (Miller's prophecy) doesn't happen, he's liable to do something bizarre just to ensure his place in history. And there's nobody in his group who could say, 'I don't think the Bible says that.' He has that much control.You question him - you question God."
The latest episode involving the Concerned Christians cult is now centered on Rafina, a small town 15 miles west of Athens, Greece. The twenty members of the group recently deported from Israel to Denver are now suspected to be in Greece. Greek security officials are investigating reports from the media that the twenty cult members joined other members of their group in rented apartments and villas in the nearby hillside community of Neo Voutza. Authorities ordered surveillance of the two sites and together with immigration officials are attempting to determine if these individuals are in fact members of the apocalyptic cult.