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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: Joe and Ron sing the Blues, the $650,000 predicament, Stan Rader reported in poor health.
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Issue Ten  - June 28, 2002

The Blue Model: In WCG-speak "Blue model" doesn't mean a scantily clad exotic dancer who's feeling chilly. Excerpts from the latest Weekly Pastors Update.

As Ron Kelly reported recently, we have had a short break in our normal negative cash flow by completing the sale of the Orr, Minnesota, campus in April. However, as we near the end of June, our donation income is down a bit. We’ll be reporting the specific numbers for June in a week or two.

I hear there is a rumor going around that we plan to implement the new financial model even before the campus sells. Let me bring you up to date on that process. As you all know, we are working on a new financial model. Ron, Charles Albrecht and Robert Meade have a session on this topic during our Regional Conferences. Our statement all along is that we plan to implement this new model after the campus sells. Our secret desire is to move forward a soon as possible, so we have had some discussion on how we might execute our new financial plan sooner than the campus sale. But our conclusion up to now remains that we cannot implement the “blue model” before the property sells. It is not a matter of a lack of desire, I trust you understand, but sheer lack of financial practicality that inhibits our moving forward at this time.

And then there's a sobering word for the struggling pastors from Controller Ron:

I need to discuss our employee Fringe Benefit Package with you. Before you panic, I want you to know we are not planning any immediate changes, but it is possible as we move toward the new “blue model” financial plan that we might have to adjust some of our benefits. FYI, the Fringe Benefit package is what the church pays for health care insurance, life insurance, dependent insurances, Workers Compensation and Disability Insurance. Of these, the most expensive is health care. And it is in this area we might have to make our modifications. I won’t go into the full details in Joe’s weekly update because I am preparing a more lengthy explanation for all employees.

However, I asked Joe if I could put a short version in the weekly update so you can be sharing our concerns. As most of you know from our regional conferences, we have evaluated the employee Fringe Benefit package at $9,000 per employee per year. That figure was based on calculations from our mid-to-late 1990s expenses. In the meantime we have had major increases in premium costs. Further, employees are incurring more expenses per person than we have had in the past. Yet we have kept the expense calculations for health care the same since about 1996.

What this all boils down to is the $9,000 per person that we had been using in our calculations for the monthly draw to HQ after we have implemented the new model will probably be insufficient to meet expenses. During the coming weeks we will be evaluating various scenarios. Details will come in a longer memo.

Sorry to be the bearer of potentially non-so-good news, but I felt this weekly update was an appropriate venue to discuss escalating insurance costs with you. If you have been following the news reports about insurance, you are well aware of the significant changes being made to various insurances across the nation. This is a topic almost all corporations are wrestling with.

The buck doesn't stop here!  More from Joe Tkach. 

Many have left and continue to leave the United Methodist denomination. The Baptists have had more splits in the last year. There are difficulties among the Presbyterians too. No denomination is perfect. And the WCG is in the same situation as most denominations, although we have experienced renewal in many people and congregations. Some are growing and planting new churches. Some are in intensive care. Some are dead and don't know it yet. Each congregation's health depends upon the local leadership. We are NOT experiencing an exodus of members and I believe that your perception of the situation has become skewed because the focus is always on the negative and the controversial. (Personal correspondence to a former member quoted on JLF.)

Joe seems to be saying that "it ain't my fault."  The problem is with those local pastors.  It might be more credible an excuse if the WCG had a congregational structure, but last we heard it was just as rigidly hierarchical as ever. Not only does Joe avoid accountability, he also sidesteps responsibility. Except, apparently, where there are kudos to accept:

Recently, Baker Books asked me to make several written contributions to a new dictionary of cults that is being written. There is recognition within the National Association of Evangelicals as well as other sister organizations that the WCG has a valid contribution to make.

As for comparing WCG with Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists, just who is the man trying to kid?  

Blowing the Piggy Bank: Dateline Pasadena. The Pasadena WCG had the following in their announcement bulletin this week.  How much longer is the money going to last?

After the headquarters property is sold, each local congregation will be able to keep 75 or 80% of its donations to use as it chooses.  It is better to place any donations for a building fund into an unrestricted account.  $650,000 is now spent monthly in WCG above what comes in, so please keep praying for the sale of the property.

Thousands of dollars are being spent by the Bernardo to remodel Ambassador Hall so that he and his staff can have better offices than they do now.  Tens of thousands of dollars continue to be spent of the newspaper ads.  WCG his hired a PR company that admits they are 'first line defense' against negative press and public opinion.  When you read the different 'jobs' that the company does, they are in effect 'hired guns'. Income continues to decline because members are not sending in offerings or tithes.

Stan Rader Update: This posting from the Likeminds group this week:

I heard today that Stan Rader had an attack while vacationing in Europe with his family. He was flown back to the States. I understand he has advanced pancreatic cancer and is now on his deathbed.

Keith Stump Clarifies: After we published his letter in AW8, Keith Stump received a number of emails from readers wishing to comment on his statements. In a second letter to MD Keith clarifies his position and responds to some of the points raised. It's well worth reading. You'll find it at the top of this week's mailbag.

Kaplan's CCK:  A site that's new to us is Christian Commandment Keepers, a group that seems to be led by Mark Kaplan, a former staff member at Ambassador College. The site also links to Kaplan's weighty academic dissertation inspired by the WCG. Information on the groups Feast of Tabernacles observance is also online.

Dateline Pasadena spells it out: Everybody has their critics, and Dateline Pasadena is hardly the exception. This week he/she has been getting it in spades from one JLF correspondent in particular who believes it should all be "left to God." These DP comments relate to that thread.

People think that I am bitter against the church.  I am not. However I do not trust it to keep it's word to employees.  Nor am I angry against the church.  If anything I feel sorry for the church.  So many lives are going to waste by people sitting there waiting for something 'BIG' to happen.  I think the biggest blessing that could happen is if the Church folded completely and people moved on to 'healthy' churches.

I find many of the reactions interesting.  I am not passing on information to humiliate certain people.  My problem and the problem with most people in the Pasadena area is that there is NO accountability by the WCG leadership or the church as a whole.  Members are not told ALL the facts, members are not told where the money is going, etc.  Then you get the double standards as to what members should believe.  In one church area people can disagree with the church and still remain members, in Pasadena if you disagree you are kicked out.  The control factor is still very much the dominant force in the church.

Bacchanalia: It appears the ambassador.edu Delphi group mentioned in AW9 may be the brain-child of none other than the colorful Oliver Bach, a character well known for his strangely impenetrable postings on a number of forums over recent years. Alumni have unsurprisingly stayed away in droves. The new MSN group appears to have gained traction, however, and new postings are appearing daily.

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


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