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New Guest Editorial by Keith Stump

Issue XVIII - August 23  2002

Pray and Pay the Kilough Way: In an extraordinary letter to the UCG flock, Chairman Clyde Kilough has rehabilitated the old catch-cry "pray and pay" to squeeze extra funds for the Cincinnati based denomination.

Our media flagship, The Good News, could easily reach a target of 650,000 copies two years from now. Wouldn’t it be great to reach a million by that time? When we see, though, that increasing the print run by 135,000 next year will cost approximately $340,000 (including not just promotions, printing and postage costs, but also the need to hire someone for all the additional data entry), we have to ask, “Where is that money going to come from?” But in addition, wouldn’t you like to see The Good News going out 10 times a year instead of six? Well, that’s another $775,000 a year! And with such growth would come the need to hire editorial assistants who could keep up with responses, research and support an already overworked staff. We anticipate next year adding 20,000 Bible Study Course students, and we need to print several new booklets. And while United’s greatest strength is in our printed material, we want to increase our efforts in other media avenues such as radio and cable access television coverage. We also need to produce a printed version of our current on-line Youth United publication in order to more effectively reach the younger audience. We see many other needs that are less expensive, such as providing booklets in Braille for our blind brethren and subscribers, and they all add up. In addition, every plan implemented increases responses from our audience, which requires more manpower at the home office to keep up.

That’s just media operations. Add to the mix the equally important needs and plans of Ministerial Services for taking care of and building the congregations, pastors and elders, children and young adults, etc., and an identical picture develops. Read the bottom line, and costs far outstrip projected income.

So you see, what we could do, what we would like to do, is restrained by what we have to do it with...

This may be a good place to take a look at something we have all heard, and maybe some have expressed. It is usually a cynical statement, something along the line that we are just here to “pray and pay.” If anyone views the people of God as nothing more than a non-involved, second-class, nondescript “resource,” whose reason for being called is to funnel money to the work, that is shameful.

But on the other hand, it is spiritually dangerous to allow any form of creeping cynicism to lead us to “despise small things.” Praying to God, and paying our tithes and offerings, in its pure form, is not a small thing-it is central to our worship and relationship with Him! ...

Let’s not make a small thing out of “pray and pay.” That concept should never be used as a manipulative weapon to use on other people. However, it should be a motivational tool that we as individual Christians use on ourselves, because it is at the heart and core of our involvement in preaching the gospel to the world! Is fervent prayer a small thing? Is giving of our resources a small thing? Not in the mind of God, as He makes clear throughout His Word.

In Search of a Super Apostle: Ron Brendel's article on the "apostleship" of Herbert W. Armstrong provides some surprises. Available, with Ron's permission, on MD

Spanky ties the knot with Charlotte: The Lord moves with lightning speed. One moment the LCG brethren are being urged to fast over possible HQ relocation at some point in the future, then suddenly the wigbigs are flying out to give a specific property the once over. And, praise the Lord, just a week later the deal is done! Here are the details.

Yesterday (Wednesday, August 14), the Council of Elders met via phone conference to consider the benefits of moving our Headquarters operation out of California, and the specific opportunity to make an offer on a 38,000-square-foot office building in Charlotte, NC. ... Mr. Meredith asked the Council to consider the cost savings of doing the Work from Charlotte and, specifically, the benefits of purchasing an office facility at Crown Point in Charlotte, appraised at $2.8 million and now offered at $2.275 million... At the close of the meeting, Council members enthusiastically encouraged our Headquarters team to proceed with an offer on the property.

Today (Thursday, August 15, 2002), the owners accepted the offer in principle. Final details remain, but we expect papers to be signed next week. If all goes well, the Church would take possession of the property in early November. Headquarters would then plan to move either in early spring or during the summer of 2003.

Of course buying is one thing, selling is another, as WCG's Bernie Schnippert is no doubt painfully aware.

Spanky and his pals will be muscling in on John Ritenbaugh's turf. Ritenbaugh's Church of the Great God also operates out of Charlotte.

Meantime Bob Thiel, one of LCG's most devoted apologists, gives his views on the move:

If LCG moves its HQ from San Diego to Charlotte, NC, this may be one of the reasons that God allowed the GCG [Global Church of God] takeover. I have long felt that the spiritual purpose of the takeover was to better separate the Philadelphians from the Laodiceans. After the takeover, I believe the bulk of the Philadelphians went with LCG (of course, just being in LCG does not make one a Philadelphian...). Some of the Laodiceans went to the left and others think they went to the right of LCG ... A physical reason for the split may be because God wanted LCG to move. If there was no GCG takeover, this move would have been much less likely.

Fair enough Bob. After all, there's nothing the Armstrong God likes better than to purge his church with a regular leadership-loyalty enema. And nothing cozier than the knowledge that those people who disagree with our particular chosen leader are "Laodicean" and destined to go through the Great Trib. Then again, could it be that LCG has undisclosed reasons for wanting to up stakes and leave California?

[Bob Thiel's site can now be accessed through a new easy to remember URL: www.cogwriter.com.]

New Editorial: We're delighted to offer a new guest editorial. Former Plain Truth writer Keith Stump offers his observations on the question of intellectual honesty and the Churches of God, following through on comments made by LCG's Bob Thiel. It is, in our view a powerful, cogent piece that breathes conviction and a degree of passion. A couple of quotes:

Were the LCG (or PCG or UCG, for that matter) to acknowledge these facts and admit HWA's gross unfitness for ministry, they would have to abandon all appeals to "apostolic authority" as support for their teachings.  They would thereby open those doctrines to closer scrutiny on their merits alone.  This they fear to do.  They simply preach louder and with more "authority".  It is the self-protection of fundamentally fearful men, who talk loud and fast for fear of hearing the other side.  How much is a faith worth that fears to take an honest look at itself? ...

There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when the LCG--like the now-obscure work of G.G. Rupert, from whom HWA stole some of his "restored truths"--will be but a vague, residual curiosity in the footnotes of religion--if that.  But for the moment, it continues to perpetuate its deceptions.  (Fortunately, its "evangelism" is virtually without impact, except in the fantasy world in which they live, where it "thunders" the "gospel message" to eager "millions" at 3:00 a.m.)

MD group changes: The Missing Dimension Yahoo group has had some changes. From today all members of the group have the ability to post to the forum. Up till now this has been reserved for moderators. Postings are able to be read by visitors.

The rules are simple: no personal attacks on other group members, no one-eyed Armstrong apologetics, no off topic postings, and members are asked to restrict their postings in any given week to a responsible level. We'd like to keep the group focused on the WCG and its various splinter groups.

The moderators reserve the right to restrict a member's posting privileges at their discretion. The MD group currently has 55 members. If you'd like to participate, click on the link and follow the instructions on joining the group.

Field Guide clocks up 20,000: According to a report posted by Pam Dewey on Likeminds:

... my "Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion" website as of yesterday has now had over 20,000 visitors since I put it up at FOT time last fall. That's the number of people who have entered the site and looked around (some of them no doubt repeats)... the actual number of "files downloaded" by those folks has been over 190,000.

Meantime, here at MD we've just logged our 300,000th page view since we started tracking statistics with Hitbox in May last year.

Glendora Gloss: This comes from a posting on JLF this week:

Yesterday, I learned from a member of the Glendora WCG congregation that his pastor, Neil Earle [pictured], was on the "Good Guys" segment a few weeks ago... on the "Hugh Hewitt" show ( http://www.hughhewitt.com ). This is during the California only hour ... at 6 p.m., Pacific Time on Fridays. I guess they liked Earle, so they've asked him to be a "regular" on that segment of the program. That probably means he'll be on every month or two, with one or two other "clergymen."

Elegant dining with Prophet Flurry: These comments were published this week on the Flurry Yahoo group:

Up until 30 days ago I was a member of the PCG. As a matter of fact our whole family was...  Mr. Winters was our Regional Director... They decided to come up with something to really give them brownie points with headquarters, off the backs of the other members of the church in his region. They decided to raise money for china dishes, crystal, linen tablecloths, napkins and silver. So when Mr. Flurry can have government people over for dinner he can impress them. For one thing I can't see Mr. Flurry ever wining and dining anyone that important... We the members have been bullied into donating money and doing fund raisers for this for the last 6 months... They are constantly laying a guilt trip on you if you don't give your last dime to them. They put out our family only because we where asking questions... If you are still In the PCG don't ask about THAT Prophet booklet. 

Dateline Pasadena: Postings from HQ 

Many Pasadena business leaders still continue to question why the WCG is not leasing the Pasadena property instead of selling it.  At a recent Rotary meeting a lady was questioning the WCG's reasoning.  It seems that decades ago she and her husband purchased  land in a neighboring city.  She related that they lease the land to developers and tenants of buildings on the properties.  Then she said that neither she or ANY of her descendants will EVER have to worry about money again.  They will be receiving lease payments for generations in the future.  She wanted to know why the Church is not doing the same. All we could say was that we did not know.  No one seems to know why
Bernie is doing what he is doing.  He seems to hold himself above the church and unaccountable to anyone.  It seems to be more important to dump the property for what they can get and get out of town.  By the time the retirement fund is funded, a new office building purchased with new furniture and new homes for various people, you have to
wonder how much will really be left over for use by the "Blue Model Churches."  I guess it doesn't concern them that the church could be financially set for eternity by lease payments.  It seems that we have reverted back to the days of keeping the dumb sheep in the dark concerning the business practices of the church.  Some things never change!


The money continues to fly through Bernie's hands here in Pasadena. The redecorating of Ambassador Hall is close to completion.  Bernie seemed to have been embarrassed by Ambassador Hall for use as an office.  Legacy Partners used the building for three years without any complaints.  But the second Bernie was in charge, the fingers started snapping and people started jumping!

The second floor of Ambassador Hall has been repainted.  New wallpaper hung.  Over 30 new alabaster ceiling lights were installed to replace the existing light fixtures.  New carpets were laid.  New office furniture was purchased.  Bernie has a huge new leather sofa and chair to finish off his office.  The conference room was redone with new carpet, paint and wallpaper.  New conference table chairs were purchased at hundreds of dollars a apiece.  Closed circuit monitors were installed so that Bernie and crew can monitor who is at the front door.  No one other than Bernie's staff  is allowed to enter the building without first ringing the doorbell (even if they have keys).  The reason was firmly established the other day when an employee went in without ringing the doorbell.  They had a royal fit. They do not want anyone to come into the area and overhear a conversation that they should not be hearing.  By ringing the bell, it allows them to stop conversations, or close doors to offices.

The first floor of the house has had a lot of the wood refinished. More of the alabaster ceiling lights were installed.  New folding chairs were purchased for community meetings.  New crystal, china, silver, etc are being purchased for use at the "Community Tea's" and evening parties to woo the neighborhood troublemakers.  When you look in the main floor windows you will see numerous 'new' pieces of antique furniture to decorate the first floor.

The Pasadena employees are really starting to get ticked off at the enormous amount of money that is flowing into the refurbishing of the building.  They wonder why Bernie can get all the money he wants while the employees never get any raises, cost of living increases or bonuses.  Bernie is being referred to by many here as the 'New' HWA. When Bernie wants something, he expects it 'yesterday' and he immediately gets it.

Same old BS, just different faces!

Joe's Weekly Update:  One item caught our attention in the August 21 edition of Joe's weekly update for pastors. For those unfamiliar with the publication, it is a newsletter cobbled together from various reports received ("exciting news" of car wash fundraisers at a local Walmart, for example), along with a facile anecdote or two and some watery exhortation. Notable this time was a slip by the Pastor General when referring to separated brethren. It seems Joe doesn't actually read the material he "cut and pastes" very carefully:

One of our District Superintendents, Keith Brittain, sent me a note regarding an outreach activity in his district. He wrote:

Concerning former YOU members of WCG, the Harrisburg, PA, church sent out invitations for a social event in May to as many as they could think of who had once attended with us. The response was great - with approximately 100 coming to the event, besides our regular attendees... The Saturday get-together was held at the regular church facility used by the members, a catered meal was served, and there was a time of sharing and reminiscing.

Some of the 100 were from United and Global...

Uh, Global? Neither Brittain nor Joey seem to have spotted the obvious. The Global Church of God has been dog-tucker for years. We assume the reference is to the current Meredith sect, the Living Church of God

On a pleasant note, there is a positive report on the progress of Karen Albrecht. This report comes via Dateline Pasadena from an earlier source:

Greg and Karen Albrecht are very happy to report that the surgery on her neck and tonsils was successful. Although the Doctor has not done a biopsy on all of the nodes he took out of her neck, he said he didn't find anything that he feared...

Unfortunately... she had to wait 5 hours in pre-op before being taken to OR. She spent 3 hours in surgery, several hours in recovery and then they released her to intensive care...

Words cannot express our gratitude and thanks to all who have expressed concern in a variety of ways and for the many prayers so many have offered on her behalf.

Secret Garden: This story from the Sacramento Bee was posted on JLF

A Secret Garden

Church has plans for its old Pasadena campus

By Laura McCoy -- Bee Los Angeles Bureau
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Monday, August 19, 2002

PASADENA -- So few people visit the former Ambassador College campus that its verdant lawns, splashing fountains and historic mansions are known as Pasadena's "secret garden."

But the secret's leaking out, and this secluded oasis is on the verge of becoming well known.

At its peak, the 48-acre site bustled with about 1,000 staff members and 1,200 students who attended the Worldwide Church of God's Ambassador College.

"It was a lot more fun in those days," said Vance Gilless, the church's facilities director and a graduate of the college. "There was a lot of good energy from the students, and people were always coming in for conferences and meetings."

Then, a doctrinal schism in the early 1990s drove out believers and caused a dramatic drop in the church treasury. It no longer could afford the college, so it closed the school in 1995. The church kept the fountains flowing and the gardens in near-perfect condition, though few visited.

Gilless said the number of visitors has been on the rise since a newspaper article and an Internet site recently featured the secret garden. Even more could be expected in the future, if the church can get the city's approval for its development plans.

The Worldwide Church of God recently selected a consultant to help it develop a plan to turn the campus into a residential community. It wants to build homes and condominiums around the gardens. It has proposed turning the historic homes into small inns and a community center.

It also has said its plan would seek to reopen the renowned Ambassador Auditorium, which once hosted the likes of tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Bernard Schnippert, the church's director of finance and planning, said the church has spent at least $2 million a year to maintain the former campus.

"It can't go on forever (this way), and it can't be a park," he said. "To preserve the historic structures and make the campus available to the public, there has to be a financial incentive to maintain it. ... Once people own it, there will be an incentive to preserve it."

For the past three years, though, another developer has fought with residents over a similar plan to develop the property.

The plan, by Legacy Partners, called for 1,700 housing units spread over the church's 48 acres. Legacy abandoned the project in April after running into community opposition.

Sue Mossman, Pasadena Heritage executive director, said Legacy's plan was "overkill" because it would have crowded too many people into too small a space. She said Legacy's plan called for condominiums that resembled "giant boxes marching down the street."

"People truly were just up in arms," Mossman said. "And they will be up in arms if the church proceeds with a project with the same level of housing or if the church backpedals on preservation of the historic buildings and grounds."

Schnippert said the church is committed to preserving both, but hasn't decided on the number of housing units it will seek. He said the church would work with neighbors to try to develop an acceptable plan.

"We don't expect our plan will generate opposition," he said. "Everyone wants the same thing -- a good project on the Ambassador campus."

If the church gets its project approved, he said, it would sell the property to developers to replenish the church's treasury.

For those who enjoy the serenity of their "secret garden," these are bittersweet times.

Gilless, who's worked at the campus since graduating from the college in 1981, said he walks the grounds "all of the time, and I never grow tired of it."

His favorite spot is a secluded bench alongside a rock-lined stream that flows into a koi-filled pond at the bottom of a hill. It's a spot that soon could be overrun.

"You always have mixed feelings about these things," Gilless said.

"The church can't afford to be in the college business any more, so it's sad to see that go. But the church still has its function, and that will continue."


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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