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Issue XII  - July 12  2002

MD caption contest: write a caption for the photo of Gerry and the rock and email it to us. We'll publish the submissions (anonymously of course, unless you tell us otherwise) in the next AW.

Rock-it Man: London's Imperial College is a perfectly respectable British institution of higher learning. But out in Edmond, Oklahoma, there's another IC altogether. These excerpts, and the accompanying photograph, are from a Philadelphia News article by Lisa Godeaux.

The main reason Mr. Flurry feels that this rock belongs on the Imperial College campus is that it "symbolizes how the continual moves forward." Mr. Flurry feels that the rock will serve as a perpetual memorial showing "the importance of prayer, and the need to continually look to the spiritual Rock, Jesus Christ."... several rocks throughout the Bible served as a witness or a reminder of history: h-fad, or Jacob’s pillar stone, which points to David’s throne; the 12 stones set up by Joshua after Israel crossed the Jordan River. Mr. Armstrong’s prayer rock points to the spiritual beginning of the fastest-growing era of God’s Church-an era that was, in both the literal and symbolic sense, founded on a rock.

There is a general attitude of excitement and respect regarding the prayer rock among the members and students at head-quarters...

Mr. Flurry said he was very inspired by the prayer rock: "When you look at the beginning and the end, it is the most inspiring story on Earth because of what it symbolizes. Mr Armstrong felt that the Philadelphia era started with what went on at that rock.

And our favorite quote:

According to Mr. Flurry, plans for displaying the prayer rock are not set in stone...

Yes, Gerry the Rockabilly Rebel has had Herb's "prayer rock" hauled out to Edmond (or should that be Bedrock?) Yabadabadoo!  Maybe the next step is to set up some chartered pilgrimages to view the relic, and a souvenir shop that sells tasteful plastic models of the sacred object (or, for those willing to shell out big bucks, maybe some actual chips off the old block.)

The PN story and photo were posted on the Flurry Yahoo group. Those interested can find the group linked, along with a number of others, on the MD Forums page..

Bookshelf: Beyond Tithes and Offerings presents an alternative view to the standard one used by many preachers (including traditional COGs.) Available through amazon.com

Stan suckled at church's financial breast till the last: The LA Times carried a lengthy obituary for Stanley Rader by staff writer Larry Stammer on July 4. It contained a few surprises. Excerpts:

"Mr. Armstrong has said publicly very often that I am a son in whom he is well pleased," Rader told a reporter at the time. "The only other one he ever said that about was Ted Armstrong."

Rader, who grew up as a secular Jew, met Armstrong in 1956 when he came to California from White Plains, N.Y., as a young attorney. He said in a 1978 interview that he had become close to Armstrong by the mid-1960s but didn't become a church member for another 20 years...

Rader once proclaimed in court that Armstrong was "God's apostle, Christ's representative here on Earth." ...

The church jettisoned virtually all of its controversial teachings in the early 1990s after Armstrong's death in 1986, but Rader remained a member even as thousands of disaffected members and ministers left... [MD comment: Huh? Anyone remember Stan as a regular at WCG services in recent years? How come Dennis Pelley didn't come pounding on HIS door?]

During court proceedings, Rader said he owned homes in Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Tucson, all initially financed by the church. He sold the Beverly Hills home at a tidy profit and told reporters during a break in proceedings, "Buy low, sell high. I don't take 'stupid pills,' you know."

But, perhaps most astonishing, the revelation that Rader was still pocketing church dollars through to the bitter end.

Rader stepped down as general counsel and treasurer in 1981 and was paid a $250,000 bonus, the church said at the time. He continued to receive payments from the church's "discretionary retirement program," Bernard Schnippert, director of finance and planning, said Wednesday... [MD comment: Dear old Bernie, generous to a fault!  Wouldn't it be interesting to know how much Stan's "discretionary income" was!  Apparently this was completely separate from the sweet little contract he had that was supposed to go through till 2003. Incredible!]

So it seems Stan was still the beneficiary of church funds right up to his demise. Lucky fellow! Current WCG donors must be pleased that their generous support is being used so well. We're sure that all those who've been turned down for retirement on various grounds (and all those anxious about whether Joe will find them "loyal" and worthy enough when the time comes) will be delighted that Stan had no trouble at all.

Garner Ted Armstrong news: Some time ago we reported on the newly redesigned Garner Ted Armstrong's website. Now their web address has also changed. The new location is www.garnertedarmstrong.ws. While the site has had a facelift and an URL change, sadly the content seems just more of the same old formula.

On that subject, Ted's Intercontinental Church of God and Evangelistic Association recently dedicated their new offices in Tyler (pictured).

[Ted] formally dedicated the building to God in an emotion-laden prayer [MD comment: he was always good in that kind of performance]. He asked that God place His holy angels inside and all about the facility; that everything that is to be done would be to the honor and glory of God [MD comment: what? no massage room?]; that the building belongs to God, and asked God’s blessings on all those who had made it possible by their contributions to the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association Building Fund.

Following the dedication prayer, Mr. Armstrong led those assembled in singing both verses of the Star Spangled Banner, followed by “God Bless America.” Then, in a loud voice, he said, “And in defiance of the judge in California, will you join me in pledging allegiance to the flag!” An enthusiastic audience responded with a ringing pledge to the flag.

The dude should've gone into politics! Harping on a familiar apocalyptic theme, Armstrong said:

Anyone who does not know we are living in the last days is either ignorant, or in denial

Frankly, we think Ted's finger-pointing says more about his own state of unreality than anyone else's. Armstrong would be well advised to take a deep breath and read Calvin Burrell's article in the latest Bible Advocate

... we must not attempt to use the Bible as a handbook of modern political geography. Of nearly 200 countries in our world, just the states of Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Spain, and Syria are named in Scripture. Beyond these twelve, a few other modern states occupy the homeland of biblical nations: Iraq (Babylon), Iran (Persia), Jordan (Ammon, Moab), and Saudi Arabia.

Neither Bible history nor prophecy deal directly with specific states outside the then-known world stretching from the western Mediterranean to southern Asia. Today's world powers are not named therein: China, Japan, Russia, England, France, or Germany. The Americas are not there - Canada, the U.S, Mexico, Brazil, etc. - nor any other Western Hemisphere nation from pole to pole. No Australia, South Africa, Argentina, nor any other state of the Southern Hemisphere may be found in Scripture (Calvin Burrell. All the Nations of the World. Bible Advocate On-line. July-Aug 2002)

The End: TIME Magazine on how it got that way:  A recent issue of TIME focused on the prophecy industry. Mercifully absent was any mention of those prophetic high-flyers of the 70s and 80s, Herb and his gang of renown. One article drew attention to the role of 19th century Irish clergyperson and founder of the Exclusive Brethren, John Nelson Darby. It was Darby's offbeat exegesis of the Bible that brought the "secret rapture" doctrine to prominence, which then infected American conservative Christianity to the point where it has become the default position of most evangelicals. The article is available online.

Another Herb Split:  A splinter-cult that's new to us is the Church of God, In Truth. Led by a former (local?) elder named James Russell, the in-word with these folk seems to be "postponements". 

The true beginning of a month is the instant the dark moon phase starts. Sunset, sets the precedent for the dark moon to start a new month. A new month starts just like a new day starts, when the old Sun and Moon disappear...

We are a small group who are warning the people in God's churches about the Postponements rules in the Jewish Hebrew calendar and we are preaching the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. When we first heard about the Postponements, we looked in the Bible for these rules. We wanted to prove that we should follow them, but we could not find the postponement rules in the Bible...

We have been trying to enlighten God's scattered, called out ones and their Leaders to be aware of the serious flaws that are taught and practiced in the Hebrew calendar. 

Pleading Poverty while Bernie blows the bucks: Conflicting signals as to how seriously the WCG is taking budget restraints. Dateline Pasadena reports.

Ron Kelly has sent a memo out to the Department Managers explaining why the WCG has new copiers in the Hall of Ad.

"You probably know we had hoped to wait till the property sold and we were relocated to a new office facility before purchasing new equipment.  However, I'm sure most of you are well aware that many of our current copy machines are dying; some are gasping their last breath.  To put it mildly, copying had become a burden.  To help with our need, we have arranged for three new Ricoh copy machines to be placed in the Hall of Administration."

"Of course one of our primary concerns was cost.  We certainly couldn't afford to purchase new equipment.  And leasing proved fairly expensive.  Finally, Ricoh came through with a rental plan that, in our opinion, was the best financial decision under the circumstances. With this rental, we can use the machines as long as we want, turning  them back to the company when we relocate and purchase new equipment. Or, we can purchase the machines we have rented.  Normally, I don't find renting equipment that attractive, but with our current need and financial capacities, this seemed the prudent decision."

The employees find it kind of strange tat the church can't find the money to buy copiers, but yet is shelling out tens of thousands of dollars redecorating of Ambassador Hall.  Painters have been working feverishly getting the offices painted for Bernie Schnippert and his staff to move into.  The Bernardo did not like the light fixtures, so he had them all removed and is replacing them with new lights.  New carpet is being laid in several offices.  The Rosewood is being stained to cover up the years of light fading it. The Bernardo did not like the access ramp that Legacy built, so he had the Maintenance department redo it for thousands of dollars.

All this money flows freely into the Bernardo's coffers, yet the Church cannot afford to buy a new copy machine.  Schnippert apparently gets to live free of charge on campus through the week along with free house cleaning. 

Yet More on Rader: Just in case you want even more on the Rader story, here's excerpts from the article carried by Associated Press.

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) Stanley Robert Rader, former general counsel and treasurer of the Worldwide Church of God and a key adviser to founder Herbert W. Armstrong during a controversial state probe of church finances, has died. He was 71...

Rader was involved in some of the church's most tumultuous days, including Armstrong's 1978 ouster of his son, television evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong, after they had a falling out.

Then, in 1979, California Attorney General George Deukmejian began investigating allegations that the founder and Rader pilfered millions of dollars from the church, which was temporarily placed into receivership by a court.

The church in those days was a media and financial powerhouse, and disaffected members had claimed in a lawsuit that the founder and Rader were living extravagantly and sold church property below market value for private profit.

Joined by other religious groups, Rader got the state Legislature to pass a bill that removed the attorney general's power to investigate religious organizations over allegations of misuse of funds or other fraud. The investigation was dropped.

At that time the Worldwide Church of God rejected the Christian belief in the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and did not observe Easter and Christmas but kept Jewish feast days. It also imposed heavy tithing requirements on members.

The church dropped its controversial teachings after Armstrong's death in 1986, saying many of his views were heretical. Since then it has become mainstream evangelical Protestant in its faith and worship. It reports 60,000 members worldwide..

Ambassador Watch is part of the Missing Dimension website - 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
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