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Ambassador Watch  A weekly E-zine 

Ambassador Watch is part of the Missing Dimension web site - www.missingdimension.com . It is published online each Friday.  The contact address is: missingdimension@ihug.co.nz
Dateline Pasadena can be reached at datelinepasadena@yahoo.com
In This Issue: Putting the employees in their place, A dose of culture, Lost and Found Tribes, Auditorium Envy, ESN, Monthly Miracles, a bespectacled "king of fierce countenance", Sir Bob and more.
Back issues:
Issue One  Issue Two  Issue Three   Issue Four Issue Five Update

Draft copies of many of the items that appear on Ambassador Watch are made available first on the Missing Dimension Yahoo! group.  Registering with Yahoo! and subscribing to the group are free. 

Coming Soon: we begin a series of interviews with people who share a background in Armstrongism - and are willing to share their story and insights
MD Quick Links

Herbert W. Armstrong (WCG)
Garner Ted Armstrong (ICG)
Gerald Flurry (PCG)
Roderick Meredith (LCG)
United Church of God AIA

Letter of the Week:

I've followed the breakup of the WCG and it's splinter for several months now, and wish to comment on the letter regarding the beliefs of the WCG ministry.

Having been a member most of my life, and leaving after the changes, I too wonder whether these ministers now "see the light", or are merely sticking with it for financial reasons.  The minister in this area is still having a very "difficult time" with the "changes" according to my in-laws who stayed in.  I agree with the author of the letter who believes people were converted to doctrines, not Christ.

It is amazing how the WCG can change their beliefs without denouncing HWA for the false prophet he was.  Either he was wrong, or their new beliefs are wrong.  They both can't be right--it defies the laws of logic.

Issue Six - May 31, 2002

News "schnipperts" from the Gulag: Here is a mixture of observations this week collected from several people:

At the employee/chapel meeting on Wednesday, Joe Tkach told the employees that they should not be concerned about the sale of the property.  Their focus should be on the Commission of the Church.  So the employees were told that the sale is proceeding smoothly, that Bernie [Schnippert] has things in control and that the Mayor called up the church last week and said that the things written in the paper that recently were quoted are out of context.  Joe also said that several of the contractors that Legacy had lined up have joined up with Bernie to continue on.  Everything seems to be rosy in paradise, but is it?

Every time employees have been told not to worry about something and that things are ok, all hell breaks loose.  Every time the employees have been told one thing the opposite happens.  Bernie told employees a couple of years ago in an employee meeting in the  Student Center that the Church was going to take care of those employees that were left because they stood by the church during difficult times.  But guess what...many of them got canned, no extra severance like Bernie had promised, no special bonus for being loyal as Bernie had promised.  Nothing!  Some of the those people are STILL without jobs. Does the Bernado care? Experience tells us that he does not.  Ask the Publishing employees that were told by the Bernado that "...the Church owes you NOTHING and that you should feel privileged that the
Church let you work as long as it did."  How's that for a FINE Christian attitude!

Randy Dick

The rest of the employee meeting was dedicated to the international work of the church. Randall Dick told several stories about Church members struggling in other countries trying to evangelize.  The next hour was spent trying get across to employees that they should not be thinking about themselves, but about those poor members in other countries who have nothing. At the end of Randall's presentation, he asked everyone to form into small groups and pray for those evangelizing in other countries.  While most employees do support the hard work these people do and do pray for them, they do not appreciate being put on the spot by praying in groups.  Well over half of the employees walked out and did not stay for Chapel.  The interesting thing was that PTM and Bernie's staff all exited immediately and did not stay.

The Bernado and crew are STILL upset that the story about Legacy dropping out of the sale process was leaked out.  We think that what really upsets them the most is that they were proven to be liars! Even the newspapers picked up on that.  When the story broke it took the Bernado and crew a good two weeks to fully admit that the sale had fallen through.  Because of that 'leak' things are locked up tighter than a drum here.  No one is talking because they are afraid of the wrath of the Bernado.  If you DARE cross the Bernado's path you will pay dearly! 

Thousands of dollars continue to be spent each week in refurbishing the Bernado's new offices in Ambassador Hall. Terrace Villa is going to be reopened to house the real estate company,  Crews have been working daily there installing new computer lines, phone lines, and security alarms.  The Bernado is having alarms installed in all the areas he is working in.  He seems to be concerned about security and personal safety.  Who is he afraid of??????  The employees say that if he was a real Christian minister and had treated all the employees and members he has been in contact with in a REAL Christian manner, then he'd have nothing to worry about.  The rest of us realize that this is just another power play.  It shows everyone that HE is in charge now.

Joe Tkach has mentioned to several people that he is 'hurt' that people are questioning things right now. Employees react by saying that "...we have been hurt by UNCHRISTIAN treatment over the years, and it still continues."  Joe is totally out of touch with the employees.  No one sees him anymore.  Bernie leads meetings, Bernie is the public spokesman, Bernie is everywhere, yet Joe is nowhere to be found.  Everyone knows that he does not like being Church President and that he has wanted to have that position an 'elected' position.  The church needs leadership at this time and direction.  It is floundering and spiraling downward in this country because the Pasadena HQ staff are 'burned out"  (Their words, not mine.) The only churches growing are those in foreign countries that do not have to rely upon Pasadena for anything. Dateline Pasadena.

Prophecy marches on!  Well, lurches on, maybe. "Prediction addiction" continues to characterize many COG ministries, and none more than Gerry Flurry's PCG. Bob Thiel draws attention to the latest example.

In the May 2002 edition of the Philadelphia Trumpet, PCG's Gerald Flurry writes that he feels that 60 year-old Edmund Stoiber who is running to be Germany's Prime Minister is a likely candidate to be "the king of fierce countenance" of Daniel 8 (vss.23-24).

The Trumpet cover article states:

[Stoiber] believes in close ties with the Roman Catholic Church. As we have written repeatedly in the Trumpet, the combination of Germany and the Vatican will give rise to the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire---as it has done for 1500 years!"... Mr. Stoiber was personally hand-picked by Franz Josef Strauss to continue his work. Strauss was his political father.

Strauss was, as many will remember, once regarded as a prophetically significant figure by Herb. As usual he was wrong. Bob Thiel, an LCG member, has written an article on PCG which, though obviously coming from a Meredith perspective, has a number of interesting (and disturbing) quotes from Flurry literature.

As for Stoiber, The Missing Dimension cheerfully predicts that he has a better chance of winning the next Miss Universe pageant than fulfilling a role in Gerry's delusional fantasies.

More strife at ESN: Having lost one talented team member in Steve Dalton, the Exit and Support Network seems ready to lose yet another. Laura, author of the Mike's Enlightenment Page section "You Can Refute Gerald Flurry's Truths", has expressed frustration at "being publicly denounced by Dee, ESN site owner, in an online article. According to Laura:

I wrote to Dee, the webmaster, expressing my concern that ESN is a "ministry" that promotes the Christian faith while denouncing the Christian church.  I urged Dee to encourage her exiters to find a church if they profess the Christian faith... I am now being publicly denounced by Dee in an article about  Christians being "out of fellowship" because they don't attend church.  I am being called a "legalist" because I believe that "God adds to the church those who are being saved" (Acts 2:47).

Laura adds: "Dee needs to pull everything--articles and e-mails--that I wrote or remove the article..." We're saddened to see further discord at ESN. The site has been valuable in providing an alternative "Bible based" perspective on Armstrongism. While we don't share the same assumptions that ESN holds (any more than we agree with everything on Ed Mentell's Painful Truth site) it's clear that sites like ESN provide a valuable service, and genuinely help many people. We hope that the current situation can be resolved amicably.

Lost Tribes?  Israelis are genetic brothers (and presumably sisters) to Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians, but not their supposed relatives in Europe, as postulated by British Israelism.  That's the conclusion reached by Harry Ostrer, M.D., Director of the Human Genetics Program at New York University School of Medicine, author of a study by an international team of researchers. The story is carried by Michael Germano's Bibarch site. 

Joe's Monthly Miracle: A little miracle happens every month. Without fail the only mail the nice people at the WN get is positive! Yes folks, the letters department at Pravda - oops, the WN - simply never receives anything other than gushy compliments from satisfied customers. The June issue is no exception. So, who said the age of miracles is past?

Ron is Upbeat: Cult financial Controller Ronald Kelly strikes an optimistic note in his latest missive

Regular mail income for April was quite good—just over $1.9 million. That’s almost even with the same month a year ago.

Woo hoo!  But wait, there's more...

The point here is that members should not be worried that the church is somehow near financial ruin [MD translation: "don't you worry your silly little heads."]. We have been operating under tight budget constraints. We have sold the Big Sandy and Orr facilities. We have auctioned most of the surplus equipment and furnishings in Pasadena [MD translation: "we've sold the family silverware"]. We have done these things to maintain our church operations [MD comment: "and executive salaries"] and to keep our reserve funds at an acceptable level while we keep the Pasadena property in the sales process .

We will continue to diligently and responsibly manage the various budget areas of the church.

Fire and Brinsmead: Bob Brinsmead's name came up again this week when an MD correspondent made the following suggestions:

Bob Brinsmead should be knighted for his services to the British Empire and especially the island-continent of Australia for doing more than anyone to rid the island of  two obnoxious cults :  Seventh Day Adventism and the Armstrong/Tkach cult. Not since St. Patrick rid Ireland of snakes has someone done such a great service to a nation.  Moreover, Sir Robert Brinsmead should be immortalized in concrete with his statue placed perhaps in the Sydney Botanical Gardens or some plaza in Canberra not far from where Wade Cox lives.

As a long standing fan of this remarkable Australian theologian (now also a local body politician and business entrepreneur) I couldn't agree more. After forwarding the email to Bill Ferguson's JBAS forum, Bob posted the following response:

Gavin: I am revived by your spicy humor. "Woe is me when men speak such good things of me." I continue to be somewhat addicted to my JBA research [JBA = Joshua ben Adam, the term Brinsmead uses for the Historical Jesus] and thinking things through. Just today besides reading your website and another one of the funny stuff that went on in early Adventism (what a bunch of religious kooks!) I was a bit bemused that this ex-SDA had launched some ministry to de-deceive SDAs, and apparently to get them into the mainstream of evangelical Christianity. What this poor guy needs to see is that the early Christian movement was in many respects just like these Adventist/Armstrong splinter groups. Talk about going back to a pristine early church! It never existed anymore than the Garden of Eden and that perfect naked couple of innocents ever existed. The church didn't have to wait till the end of the first century before it started getting fantastical. It was always full of the fantastical spirits- gnostic variants, ascetic variants, wide-eyed apocalyptic speculators, wandering prophets, bare foot Cynic types leaving family and possessions and hitting the road, and everyone warring against everyone. Finally the most intolerant hierarchical version won out thanks to the good fortune of the backing of Constantine's sword - so that everyone who did not toe the line was burned, banished or put to the sword. That at least stopped a lot of monkey business!!

Now as Marty Marty the historian once quipped, the committed Christians are not civil, and the civil Christians are not committed. Gavin, most of the letters indicate that... "Much religion has made them mad". They should accept my advice to bring in a big dump truck, tip it all in, and go and join the human race. But hey, I don't want to stop anyone from having fun on Herbie's big manure heap...

Don't beat around the bush blaming Armstrong or Ellen White [the SDA prophetess] for creating some mythical monster - they are only variant versions of the great Christian mythical monster. JBA [Joshua ben Adam, i.e. Jesus] is like an unwelcome joke to spoil the Christian circus. Let's start understanding how all this religious speculation/apocalyptic/ecclesiology/religion got started so that these folk won't waste their time trying to scrape barnacles off a ship that is a fake.

From the MD trivia department: 

Interested readers can access some of Bob's writings from the links page.

Dave gets a gong: Hulme Church boss, David Hulme, has been presented with this "unusual gift" by sect members in Columbus, Ohio according to Church of God News.

The marble was left over from repair work in the Ambassador Auditorium, and given to a craftsman several years ago. The wooden base is made from Sapele, an African wood reminiscent of some of the fine woods used in the Auditorium. The plaque is now on display at the Church offices in Pasadena.

Wow, talk about meaningful! The perfect solution to a splinter group's battle with "auditorium envy." It could be displayed next to the 99 cent portrait of Joe Sr. recently auctioned on e-Bay (AW5). Then maybe they could sell admission tickets.

And from the MD cultural affairs department, a parson's princely piece of posh pommy* Petra poetry: Ahem... (clear throat)...

Petra, by John William Burgon, Anglican priest & biblical scholar, circa 1840.

It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
by labor wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time. "

*For those unfamiliar with Antipodean English, "pommy" is a term of deep respect and affection endowed upon all things English by Her Majesty's loyal Aussie and Kiwi subjects. That's our story anyway, and we're sticking with it!

Petra-fied - Part 2 (with a dose of culture tossed in for good effect) Following on from the account published last week, it's worth noting, says Bill Lussenheide, that HWA could be an amazing quick change artist... evidenced by these two quotes from co-worker letters less than 5 months apart...

Co-Worker Letter, Feb. 25, 1982: "I hope to arrange for the use of Petra as a possible refuge or place of safety during the Great Tribulation when I see King Hussein. Pray for this please."

Co-Worker Letter, July 16, 1982: "Incidentally, I know many of you seem to have your hearts set on going very soon to Petra as the "place of safety" during the SOON-COMING Great Tribulation. Well, GET YOUR MINDS OFF PETRA. Brethren, I have NEVER SAID that Petra definitely is the place of protection..." 

Laughline: MD reader Richard Burkard has cited MD in his latest article on the Laughline site. In an article called "Oh Brother, Who Art Thou?" Richard, a UCG member, provides a Biblical reflection on exactly who Christians should regard as "brethren."

Joey - Deadly Foe of Legalism: These comments appear in Pastor General Joe's June member letter. Material in square brackets is our helpful commentary.

The Worldwide Church of God is not simply pointing people to a new and different set of beliefs and practices. We don’t believe that God transformed us just so that we can content ourselves with correcting our former teachings and merely substituting our new doctrines. The gift Jesus has given us, through all of what we have experienced, is complete acceptance and intimate friendship with God – and the opportunity to take part in telling others that this same gift can be theirs too. That is what our doctrinal changes are all about.  God has shown us the real message of the Bible. Jesus does not give us a works-oriented religion, but an intimate relationship with our Father in heaven...

But it is so easy, and tempting, to give in to the here and now. We want to be told that if we will just perform a certain number of religious duties [like changing our day of worship to Sunday], if we will behave in a particular way [maybe ignore the traditional holy day dates], if we do the things that someone [like Dennis Pelley] tells us to do – then God will be pleased, and that our lives now and forever will be secure. That message of [new covenant] legalism is a high-pressure religious sales tactic that keeps people forever focused on performance – doing things they hope God will reward them for. That’s a message that is drummed into human beings – do the right things and God will be pleased. Conversely – fail to do those things [by wickedly retaining elements of the former church culture] and God will not like you. The bottom line? It’s all about what you do. That’s the way religion controls people [never a truer word spoken, Joe].

There are many who accept the high-pressure life of legalism. It was what the Worldwide Church of God taught at one time [and what it still in practice demands]. But God has transformed us [into even bigger hypocrites]. The good news is that our salvation is not up to us [meaning you plebs... WE big shots, on the other hand, can disfellowship YOU] – our salvation does not depend on us [but your retirement income may depend on whether I think you're sufficiently boot-licking "loyal"]. The good news is that salvation depends on Jesus Christ [who I am solely accountable to. I'm certainly not accountable to you]...

Religious legalism is a hard taskmaster, with a seductive, intoxicating message [hic!]. We remember that God gave the children of Israel their freedom – but they longed for the security of being told what to do and when to do it [Christmas is OK by the way, but don't you DARE keep Passover with a few friends at home!]. They preferred the slavery of Egypt over the freedom God offered to them [but which YOU needn't bother your silly little heads with - or you'll get a visit from Dennis!]. 

Sorry Joe, but we consider the contemporary WCG to be every bit as much a spiritual jailhouse as it ever was. Maybe more so as it now holds out the carrot of Christian freedom, but when members elect to follow their freedom in ways the cult disapproves, they get whacked with the stick. Freedom? In a sect that frowns on accountable administration and representative governance? Where people can get disfellowshipped by registered mail? Where 85% of the members walk away in disgust while the leader mumbles "all is well"?

Yeah, right!

email MD: editor@ambassadorwatch.co.nz email Dateline Pasadena: dp@ambassadorwatch.co.nz 


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