A New Thought spiritual community entangled in financial controversy, leading to its dissolution.
The Living Enrichment Center (LEC) was a prominent New Thought organization and retreat center located in Oregon, United States. Founded in the mid-1970s by senior minister Mary Manin Morrissey and her then-husband Haven Boggs, LEC began its journey in the farmhouse of Morrissey in Scholls, Oregon. As the congregation expanded, the center relocated in 1992 to a 94,500 square foot facility nestled within a 95-acre forested area in Wilsonville, Oregon. This growth marked the transformation of LEC from a modest gathering to the largest New Thought church in the state, boasting an estimated membership of 4,000 people at its peak.
LEC was not just a church; it was a comprehensive community hub. It housed an in-house bookstore, retreat center, café, kindergarten, elementary school, and an outreach television ministry. This diverse array of facilities catered to the spiritual and community needs of its congregation, making it a unique presence in Oregon’s religious landscape.
However, the church’s promising trajectory took a downward turn due to a significant financial scandal that emerged in the early 2000s. At the heart of this controversy was Edward Morrissey, who had married Mary Manin Morrissey in the mid-1990s and served as the CFO of LEC. In April 2005, Edward Morrissey pleaded guilty to a federal charge of money laundering, admitting to defrauding LEC members by soliciting $10.7 million in loans. The loans were solicited under the guise of church expansion and operational costs but were instead used for personal expenses by the Morrisseys. This admission of guilt led to Edward Morrissey’s sentencing to two years in federal prison, from which he was released in early 2007. The scandal prompted widespread outrage among congregation members, particularly because Mary Morrissey, despite her involvement, was not criminally charged. As part of a settlement, Mary Morrissey agreed to contribute a portion of her income towards repaying the defrauded church members, although the total amount owed was so substantial that it was estimated it would take her 300 years to fully repay the debt at the rate she was contributing.
The financial scandal precipitated the closure of the Living Enrichment Center in 2004. The church’s assets were liquidated under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, marking the end of an era for what was once a thriving spiritual community. Despite the closure of LEC, the legacy of the center continued through the emergence of several ministries such as New Thought Center for Spiritual Living, Celebration Church, and Whole Life Center in Lake Oswego, founded by former LEC ministers and members who sought to continue the church’s mission under new leadership and organizational structures.