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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: Flurry's loveless empire, philandering pastors, Malaysian spin, off to war with General Joe, Tithe checks, gravy trains and another awful ad.
Back issues:
Issue One   Issue Two   Issue Three   Issue Four  Issue Five  Issue Six 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. 

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:

Your piece on the “unusual gift” that David Hulme received (AW6) gave me a good laugh. Marble from the Auditorium indeed! Why, where was this fine sample of green marble used?  Ummm, not in the lobby.  Exterior – Nope!  Ah yes, now I have it!   That fine green marble was used in the toilet rooms!  "Harmstrong" had the toilets use that green marble for the toilet partitions, floors, and lavatory countertops – the whole toilet was one big green marble pissoir.   But, quite appropriate for Hulme, eh?


I was definitely a "regular" guy... (Rod "Spanky" Meredith setting the record straight about his early years, Personal, Tomorrow's World, May - June 2002)

A church of Jesus cannot just move on with new teaching and leave broken twisted bodies of wounded former members laying in the road behind it. (Ed Mentell, responding to a letter sent to The Painful Truth.)

Issue Seven - June 7, 2002

Keeping the Faith: The following ad appeared in the June 2 Pasadena Star News.

When our founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, brought his vision of a campus headquarters for the Worldwide Church of God to Pasadena over five decades ago, his hopes and dreams transformed a deteriorating corner of this city into a garden sanctuary, and inspired a denomination that grew to many tens of thousands around the globe. Today, we continue to move forward with our mission, keeping the faith with our neighborhood, our city, and our congregations.

Over half a century of financial and prayerful support from our parishioners made possible the creation of a campus that has not only served our mission, but brought a beautiful asset to Pasadena. Our preservation of historic homes, construction of the spectacular Ambassador Auditorium, and our careful stewardship of commercial and industrial properties on the east campus are expressions of the contributions of members who believe that being a good neighbor is an integral part of the mission of the Worldwide Church of God.

Now that we no longer require a campus of this size, the sale of Ambassador will return vital resources to the work of keeping strong and growing our ministry, our church congregations and our mission programs worldwide. Just as important, these resources will help to ensure a livable pension for retired loyal employees who faithfully made our ministry their life's work. And we are keeping our commitment to the Pasadena community, too. We are flattered when people tell us that our care and investment here have helped to make West Pasadena one of the most desirable places to live and work. Mindful of their trust and encouragement, the Church has sought for over five years to formalize a plan of transition for Ambassador that will best complement this residential community and respect Pasadena's other unique cultural and historic landscapes.

While the development team is changing and we are now taking the guiding role, the Church intends to work within the framework of the West Gateway Specific Plan and the existing Environmental Impact Report for the betterment of Pasadena. Together we have diligently sought to refine a vision that both the community and the Church agree is best for this property, and we shall continue to work in the same spirit during the months ahead.

We are excited to introduce to Pasadena the new development team now being formed, and look forward to the opportunities for fresh dialogue this will bring. Since the departure of our former buyer, scores of interested developers have approached the Church. We have conducted careful interviews with firms known for their quality of work and sensitivity to community concerns. Our selection process should culminate soon, and at the appropriate time we will meet with city officials and staff, as well as with community and neighborhood leaders, to ensure that, collectively, the development vision Pasadena has so painstakingly refined is realized. We are moving forward with a positive vision that will not waiver from the Church's mission and our commitment to the City. In short, we are keeping the faith.

For over fifty years we've strived to make this a better neighborhood. A little thing like moving away won't change that."

Do they actually pay someone to write this stuff?

Keystone Cops and Tithe Checks: Pasadena employees are noticing a trend here in Pasadena that show how upset HQ is with "the informers."  Various department managers are baiting their employees with certain questions and wait to see how they respond.  If they respond anything like what is quoted on the Internet they automatically become suspect.  Others are dropping vague hints and questions about the Bernado expecting you to react negatively.  If you respond negatively that response is relayed on to the Bernado's staff.

Some employees are also shaking their heads in amazement right now in regard to the actions of a person on the Bernado's sale staff.  For years, the Bernado has bad mouthed this guy and put him down, both to his face and in private conversations with other people.  Not this guy has turned into one of the Bernado's biggest supporters.  I guess he is positive proof that money will buy anything.

We also heard today that tithe checks are still being run on employees and members.  The tithe checks are also being done right now to determine how and if they will give present and former employees retirement. Dateline Pasadena

Spin Doctor Joe:  WCG King-Emperor Joe spends a lot of space in his weekly updates lauding his cult's sterling progress in lands far way. No wonder, when things are so grim on the home front. But there are indications that the pontifex maximus has a pair of rose colored glasses firmly wedged in place. Here's a communiqué from Malaysia, posted this week on JLF in response to Joey's candy confection from last week.

The reports are a mixture of truth, half-truths, misleading statements and outright lies. A lot is not mentioned. For instance, the Malaysian congregations had about almost 300 attendees ten years ago. Today, the combined membership is less than 100 with much less attending regularly. Membership continues to decline and the one lady who started to attend recently was an exception rather than the rule. When they said, "The weekend was very worshipful, with sessions designed to stimulate understanding and strengthen the foundation for personal growth in the areas of prayer, study, worship and spiritual gifts." It is such a joke!!! Most of the time when the ministers speak, the eyes of members glaze over and they get bored stiff! And many of them are so spiritually starved.

To many, it's a social club. Some of those who still stick on believe in the old teachings and disagree with the changes, with some not even aware of what the full details of what the changes are since the senior minister mentioned in the article (Mr Yong) keeps crucial information from them! And the plan to start the local magazine along the lines of the old Plain Truth magazine is a very ill-conceived one, if its purpose is to spread the gospel and bring in new members. After years of receiving Australian-distributed and produced PTs for so long, what makes them think that a local version can do a better job of evangelism?

If you think that the Malaysian church is growing, think again! The exact opposite is the case.

Basically, this article is written with the intention to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting WCG members. Lies, after all, are a way of life in WCG.

Another JLFer adds: "Zürich Switzerland has gone from about 200 or so down to about 20-30."

And while on the subject of spin, the latest (June 5) issue of the Weekly Pastor's Report includes this section.

Plans are underway to relocate the Pasadena Project Team from the Hall of Administration to Ambassador Hall where Legacy had guest offices during its tenure. Dr. Tkach and Dr. Schnippert both felt it was wise to move the sales project team out of the Hall of Administration so they would not be a distraction to the main work of the Church which is of course its mission with the churches and its message.   Although the sale is important, it is a support function to the mission of the Church and not the Church's main daily business. The move is still a few weeks away because only one office was fully furnished and others were used as workrooms.  Telephone and computer cabling were installed last week.  This move will bring the Project Team together in adjoining offices, and provide dedicated conference space, in an out of the way but appropriate place, for the many meetings that will occur with builders, City officials and other community leaders.  The move will also put the Team next to Terrace Villa, which will become office space for the consultants who are working with the Church

Dateline Pasadena comments:

You will notice in Tkach's letter that he is stressing again that the focus of the Church is NOT to be on the sale, but on the 'work'.  I find this diversionary tactic to be very amusing.  God forbid if the dumb little sheep had to think about the fact that the employees retirement and severance packages are all depending ENTIRELY on the sale.  And his comment justifying Bernie's move out of the Hall of Ad to Ambassador Hall because all those thousands of potential buyers might interrupt the over worked Church employees in the Hall of Ad.  If anything, it night disrupt the secretaries from reading their paperback books, making personal phone calls and playing on the computer.  Most Church related offices are quiet and boring as ministers and members are NOT calling in or writing in as they used to. 

Life in Flurrydom: The following item was recently posted to the Flurry discussion group.

Seems that there are a lot of people leaving the PCG.  Mr. Flurry says that some people "Just don't get it"  The same saying Mr. Armstrong kept using.  Can anyone please explain what it is we just don't get? ...  When Mr. Flurry speaks, he always screams out.  When we listen to him on a tape, you sometimes just can't understand what he is saying.  I think he is trying to be the same as Mr. Armstrong.  Concerning Mr. Alex Harrison [a recently ordained PCG "evangelist" now in Britain, but originally from New Zealand], I [wish] the people in the UK best of luck.... you'll need it...   Australia now has Mr. Russell Williams - another New Zealander and a worshipper of HWA.  Is there any love in the PCG in the USA and UK?  There is not too much in Australia.  I have two more questions.   1. Mr. Flurry said some time back that he had "New" revelation from 1st, 2nd and 3rd John.  I am still waiting to hear it.  Did I miss something?  2.  Does anyone know why Mr. Louis Olsen is no longer a minister in Australia... as per normal, nothing told to the members (sheep).

Pam Dewey Interview: Pam Dewey is well known to a lot of people in the COG tradition. A regular on several discussion boards (one of which she moderates), the creator of a well-received website on New Religious Movements and a writer who has been published in The Journal. We're delighted that Pam took time out to answer some of our questions in a feature interview this week.

Fighting Words: The latest Plain Truth finally puts to rest - if it hadn't already been clearly telegraphed ahead long ago - any doubt that the church (i.e. the cult leadership) no longer regards military service as a bad thing. In an article by Keith Stump the following statement appears:

God has given human governments authority in the physical sphere. And nowhere in Scripture does one find a prohibition on Christians having full participation in legitimate governmental functions -- including the right to use arms to restrain and punish evildoers...

Stump continues:

All humanity will seek to live by the peaceable wisdom of God rather than the passions of corrupted human nature.

But that time is not yet...

For some Christians, this effort will involve participating in armed conflicts.

What remains to be seen is whether the WCG will stand behind its statement that "Each individual is responsible before God for his own decision in that regard" by still supporting those who choose to follow the longstanding practice - inherited from the Church of God (Seventh Day) - of avoiding "carnal warfare."  Or is this just another example, along with days of worship, where each individual's decision is just dandy - but only insofar as it's in tune with the one cult leaders are pushing.

In any other church a change like this would have been vigorously debated in church forums, in letters to the editor of the church newspaper, in position papers to which everyone had access. Then it would have been finally determined by the decision of a General Conference in which all members were represented by chosen delegates. In Tkach's cult, however, it seems that all the thinking is done by Joe & Co., based on the last book they read.

Also noteworthy in the May - June PT is an article by Leslie Armstrong called "Passion in the Pulpit" which deals with the issue of sexually inappropriate behavior by ministers. It includes this statement:

Most leaders instinctively project an image of power, passion, success and authority; all of which can be overwhelmingly attractive traits to a woman with insecurities or regrets in her own marriage. [MD translation: it's the woman's fault]

The article concludes with all the force of a wet handkerchief half heartedly slapped across the offending pastor's gold cufflinks:

... adultery is not inevitable [MD comment: but we apparently expect it anyway]. The risk can be reduced... No sin is too great for him to forgive and no hurt is too great for him to heal.

We wonder if the sudden appearance of this article has something to do with inoculating the "sheep" against news that some of the "transformed" new covenant WCG ministers have been guilty of just this thing. And we wonder whether the "understanding" approach taken in the article is meant to shift sympathy to the ministers concerned: a strategy not unprecedented in the WCG ("It must be hard having all those women throwing themselves at you like that." WCG minister commenting on GTA's philandering circa 1974)

The Gravy Train: MD's very own poet-laureate, Seamus,  has produced a new piece that's well worth sharing.  Called The Kingdom Express, we think it captures certain WCG characteristics perfectly.

Geriatric UCG? The aging ministry is creating concerns for the United Church of God. The average age for a minister is 58 years, according to the latest United News, with over a third of the ministry over the age of 60 and 13 over the age of 65.

It is sobering to consider just how much it will cost UCG to maintain the large amount of potential retirees that it will have to handle in just a few short years. Most of these men have not been participants in the Social Security system and will require assistance. The UCG membership in general is older, and is past peak income earning capacity amongst its laity.

There is a ministerial pool of 110 paid men, and  within 7 to 10 years virtually all of them will be lining up for retirement benefits. Even if they were paid  just a stipend at $25,000 a year, this  implies a potential annual liability for the UCG approaching $3 million a year! This will be a budget buster. The aging brethren themselves will be tithing less because they will be living on retirement too. Somewhere the two lines will cross of less income and more outlay and UCG will be in serious trouble. Will the laity continue to "faithfully tithe" to just support a retired ministry, in a declining and stagnant church?  It will be interesting to watch circa 2010. Bill Lussenheide

MD Comment: Bill is a prescient one. Even as he posted the above item to us (which also featured on the Likeminds forum), UCG boss Roy "Chuckles" Holladay was composing his June 6 epistle to the faithful. It includes this section.

Yet, the ministry is also human and our age and the stresses of the times are beginning to take a toll. Bob Dick, a member of the Council of Elders, made the observation in the last Council meeting that ministers are retiring—not because they are reaching retirement age and want to enjoy those years—but because very serious health issues are forcing them to stop. This has happened too many times. Within 10 years, nearly 40 percent of the employed ministry in the U.S. will be at least 70 years old. Another 45 percent will be between the ages of 60-69. It is only right and honorable that these men have the chance to enjoy retirement years and to spend time with their families—just like any other person would like to do.

And finally...  The latest issue of The Journal is online (May 31 edition). Also online is the June issue of United News, sporting a new design.

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


Weekly issues - COMING SOON: AW 1 - 20  AW21  AW22  AW23  AW24  AW25  AW26  AW27  AW28  AW29  AW30  AW31  AW32  AW33  Monthly issues - AW 34  AW 35  AW 36  AW 37  AW 38  AW 39  AW 40  AW 41  AW 42  AW 43  AW 44  AW 45  AW 46  AW 47  AW 48  AW 49  AW 50  AW 51  AW 52  AW 53  AW 54  AW 55  AW 56  AW 57  AW 58  AW 59  AW 60  AW 61  AW 62  AW 63  AW 64  AW 65  AW 66  AW 67

 Update 1 (Apr-Jul 2001) Update 2 (Aug-Oct 2001)  Update 3 (Nov 2001-Jan 2002)  Update 4 (Feb-Apr 2002)

Mail pages (2001-2002): 1 2 3 4 5

Back Issues: Issue 1   Issue 2   Issue 3   Issue 4  Issue 5  Issue 6  Issue 7  Issue 8  Issue 9  Issue 10   Issue 11    Issue 12  Issue 13  Issue 14  Issue 15  Issue 16  Issue 17  Issue 18  Issue 19  Issue 20