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Issue XX - September 6  2002

Gerald Waterhouse passes from the scene: One of the WCG's most renown speakers, former "evangelist" Gerald Waterhouse, has died. Mr. Waterhouse had experienced poor health for several years. He was, at the time of his death, affiliated with the United Church of God.

Waterhouse was famous (or perhaps infamous) for the length of his long, rambling sermons that invariably urged uncritical loyalty to cult leader Herbert W. Armstrong. He was capable, in his prime, of preaching for literally hours on end. He was a determined advocate of the Petra doctrine, and had a chapter in David Robinson's book devoted to him called "Gerald Waterhouse - The Long-Winded Prophet of Petra."

Saint Bernard the Blameless: A Dateline Pasadena story.

In the latest Star News article about the sale of the Pasadena property, Bernie Schnippert makes the following comment:

We're very aware of the mistakes that (Legacy Partners) made and we don't intend to make them again," said Bernard Schnippert, director of finance and planning for the Worldwide Church of God.

People here in Pasadena are amazed at Bernie's comment. Bernie stood behind ALL of Legacy's plans, both in print and in public forums. Every single plan that Legacy came up with had to be sent before Bernie and the Board of Directors of the WCG. How come Bernie has just now come to realize that Legacy made mistakes? Bernie approved their plans personally! Bernie's blatant attack against Legacy Partners and Bill Shubin seems EXTREMELY hypocritical! As usual the buck and blame are passed on to someone else. He is incapable of making a mistake!

We're very sensitive to the design issue, the traffic issue and the density issue," he said. "The final design is going to have to be pleasing on all those levels, and the Legacy design was not."

Bernie personally approved Legacy's design proposals, traffic plans and the density issues. The above comment by Bernie again seems blatantly hypocritical! Bernie said publicly in the Ambassador Auditorium that he and the WCG were VERY PLEASED with the plans Legacy had come up with.

To that end, the church has embarked on what it calls a "listening" campaign a community outreach effort, first to local civic groups and then to the general public in meetings that will be widely publicized.

Is Bernie trying to make this 'public listening campaign' into something he personally dreamed up? Legacy had numerous public listening campaigns, dinners, luncheons, teas, etc. for the three years that they dealt with the project. In spite of those numerous meetings there were still problems with the design. In spite of Bernie's so called "listening campaign" there will be NUMEROUS problems pop up with the community. The community will not sit by and let Bernie walk all over them. They are already meeting and discussing their plans to fight certain aspects.

Could the problem with Bernie simply be that he tries to pass the buck off on others?  He doesn't seem to take the blame for anything. While he is not a member of the Board of Directors, he sits in on every meeting. If the Board ever gets sued for anything they have done, Bernie will likely not be held liable. He is the 'supposed' Chief Financial Officer for the WCG. However, he has Ron Kelly as the "fall guy." If there is ever a lawsuit for financial misconduct, Ron is first in line to take the blame. Bernie claims to be the Chief legal counsel for the WCG. But he has Ralph Helge as the "fall guy." Ralph will likely be first in line to deal with any problems that come about if the church is sued. Again, Bernie could claim he is not the person in charge and slip into the background.

Now we see him placing the blame for the past problems with the sale on Legacy Partners' shoulders. Forget the fact that he personally approved everything that Legacy wanted to do! But his 'out' is he claims that Dale Trow was the person dealing with Legacy regarding the sale and the problems were a result of his dealings.

People are already complaining about the HUGE sums of money that went into redecorating his offices in Ambassador Hall. But he is placing the blame on others, in particular Cityscapes which was hired to work on the redecorating.

The members of the WCG and the community need to take a good hard look at Bernie. Is he MORE than he lets on when he tries to be 'one of the simple folk'?

Flying Pigs Over Pasadena: We're awaiting reports of pigs flying in close formation over the Ambassador campus, doubtless executing delicate maneuvers to the delight of awestruck onlookers. In fact, we suspect this event took place directly above the office of Joseph Tkach at the very moment he wrote the introduction to his latest weekly update.

Last week we held our annual meeting with the international regional directors. It was inspiring to hear the reports of new congregations and new members who have joined us in the last year. Equally inspiring was the discussion of potential growth in all areas.

Yes, the WCG is growing in leaps and bounds. Potential growth is inspiring! (Actual growth is, of course, somewhat different, but who are we to be nit-picky?)  This certainly means the end of the WCG's financial crisis as thousands of eager new members rush for their check books. Hallelujah!

And, as if this wasn't enough good news to set the hearts of the remaining stalwarts aflutter, Joe had yet more.

During the last day of the conference, several of us met with the leader of small group of Spanish-speaking churches (about twenty in total) in the U.S. who desire to join our fellowship. We spent the morning discussing how we plan to evangelize the Spanish-speaking population in America. Raul Ramos did a very nice job drafting a vision and mission statement, which we reviewed. We will write more about this in the future. Please remember to pray for God's guidance as we seek his will on all our worldwide evangelism plans.

Yes folks, the WCG is going to "evangelize the Spanish-speaking population in America"!  Forget for a moment that most Spanish speaking Americans are already affiliated with a Christian church - let's not let facts get in the way of a good story. Beside, most of those people are Catholic, and the WCG's Tzar has reportedly dismissed Catholicism as a cult!

The UCG gets it right: From the latest issue of The Journal.

The United Church of God British Isles has officially reversed the disfellowshipping of Barbara Fenney of Warrington, England, its former national treasurer, and reinstated the ministerial status of her husband, David Fenney. As of Monday, Aug. 26, the Fenneys are back in the good graces of the church after a UCG British Isles elder and administrator disfellowshipped and fired Mrs. Fenney and suspended her husband from ministerial and pastoral duties Jan. 29... According to a UCG member close to the situation who preferred not to be identified for this article, the situation came to a head after Mrs. Fenney lost her appeal in the British Isles and then lost her appeal to a U.S.-based committee of the United Church of God ... The original decisions to disfellowship and suspend were made by John Jewell of Eccleston, England, the chief operating officer of the UCG British Isles’ corporate entity. Mr. Jewell, in reversing his decision, publicly apologized to the Fenneys in a meeting with the Fenneys, U.K. council members and other church members Aug. 26.

In Australia the UCG has also reinstated Ken Murray, an elder who was suspended from the ministry because he ran for public office.

Splits, Splinters and Schisms: Some long overdue changes and corrections have been made to the MD splinters page. Links have been updated and checked, and there are a couple of new listings.

COG groups seem to blink in and out of existence regularly, and it's almost a full time job trying to keep up. The splinters page only lists some of the better known groups. The MD links page has a more comprehensive list.

And here's one more: though we're not sure exactly what to call them. Leslie Chapman and Michael Burman seem to be the leading lights behind this British spin-off. According to the limited information on their site, they're "members of God's Church." Together they've produced a number of articles on matters of interest to traditional Herbophiles. One of their domain names [www.church-of-god.co.uk] seems unrelated to any other Armstrong group in the British Isles, though they do link to several other sects. Worth a browse, even if just to check out their designer logo.

Not Many Wise Men Now Are Called: The following story is adapted from a posting to the Likeminds forum.

In chapter 2 of Rodney Stark's book The Rise of Christianity, the author discusses the correlation of education with involvement in cults. To quote Stark...

"When we examine the data, it is no surprise that members of the major denominations tend to be college-educated -- indeed, three-fourths of American Jews have been to college. Nor is it a surprise that most members of Protestant sects are not well educated -- only 10 percent of members of the Worldwide Church of God have attended college." (Stark, Rodney. The Rise of Christianity. Princeton, 1996, p. 43)

Across the page (p. 42), he displays a table [based on 1990 data described as "the largest survey of American religious affiliation ever conducted"] showing the education of contemporary American religious groups. The number shown is the percentage who attended college.

What d'ya mean UNEDUCATED?!!  I got an AMBASSADOR degree!

COG sects and education
Generally speaking, most Church of God members tend to be poorly educated.

View current results

Roman Catholic 48
Jewish 76
Episcopal 70
Congregational (United Church of Christ) 63
Presbyterian 61
Methodist 46
Lutheran 45

Assemblies of God 37
Nazarene 34
Jehovah's Witnesses 23
Worldwide Church of God 10

New Age 67
Scientology 81
Wiccan 83
Eckankar 90
Deity 100

Mormons 55

None 53
Agnostic 72

*Baptists have been omitted because they constitute such a mixture of sects and denominations, and because of the confounding effect of race.

What does this extreme picture of WCG indicate?? Were we living proof that "not many wise men now are called"? Or was our lack of training in logic and critical thinking the reason we bought into so much of HWA's stuff?

MD Hit List: Ambassador Watch continues to be the most viewed page on the Missing Dimension and Ambassador Files websites (Hitbox counts them as one site.) Here are the top twenty pages, as measured by Hitbox, for August.

1. Ambassador Watch 11. Flurry's PCG
2. MD Home Page 12. Whistler column - index page
3. Mailbag 13. Update (predecessor to AW)
4. HWA & Incest 14. Editorial by Keith Stump
5. Links 15. Site guide
6. AF Home Page 16. United Church of God
7. Garner Ted Armstrong 17. Ron Brendel on HWA's "Apostleship"
8. HWA Profile 18. Canon article
9. Splinters 19. SueRae Robertson transcript
10. Meredith's LCG 20. Forums list

There were 26,151 page views logged during August.

Rumors, Hoaxes and Myths: Richard Wiedenheft was a WCG minister who left in the "class of 74."  Those familiar with the sect's tortured history know that 1974 saw thousands of members and many ministers "wise up" to the true nature of the church and leave. Herb and his myrmidons labeled it a "ministerial rebellion." In fact it was, for many involved, the only principled and ethical option they had available.

Wiedenheft went on to pastor an independent Sabbatarian congregation, produce a monthly newsletter called Focus on Truth, and develop a working association with the Church of God (Seventh Day). He later became director of COG7's Spring Vale Academy, and has contributed a number of articles to the Bible Advocate.

The September BA features an article by Wiedenheft called Rumors, Hoaxes and Myths. It's a dose of common sense and well worth reading.

Spanky Rant: With sweeping myopia Rod Meredith writes:

... it is vitally important that we in God’s Church today learn to teach and practice God’s form of government in the Church — looking in faith to our living Head, Jesus Christ, to guide and orchestrate the government in His Church. For if we do not even have the faith now to trust Christ to lead His Church, how can we expect to have any significant responsibility in His soon-coming government? (Living Church News, September/October)

Vitally important? Forgive us Rod, but aren't you the dude who split from the WCG? Where was your faith? Did you not trust Christ? Then again, maybe Rod avoids looking in the mirror each morning.

And finally: Although Joe might suspect otherwise, we're not just here to "stir the bucket." The focus of this site is the issue of accountability. Freedom of religion implies that people can believe any number of things ranging from downright crazy to profound. A church can be doctrinally heterodox and yet treat people well, aid their growth and help make the world a better place. And a church can be doctrinally "orthodox" and yet treat people manipulatively with scant concern for their well-being. The WCG falls, we believe, in this second category. Doctrinal reforms - whatever one may think of them - have never been allowed to challenge a firmly entrenched cultic, hierarchical model that is fully capable of treating decent, sincere people abysmally. That culture of abuse must be confronted, and ultimately rooted out.

A word of thanks to all those who help keep this site ticking over. Dateline Pasadena, the Whistler, those who contribute articles, and others who email links, news items and comments on an occasional basis. And, of course, everyone who checks the site out regularly. One measure of MD's success is the fact that, according to a reliable source, Pasadena HQ is among the first to check out each new issue of Ambassador Watch every Friday.

We hope even they learn a little something from time to time.

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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