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Issue XXI - September 13  2002  

Greenville GriefThe Journal has published an article by Horst and Irene Selent, former members of the Greenville, South Carolina WCG, describing the situation members there have had to deal with as cult headquarters progressively enforced the new orthodoxy.


Members were, according to the account, refused permission to discuss the situation in their church. And traditional members were finally told, in effect, to "get lost." Is it too much to call this "jack-booted spiritual fascism"?


In Greenville, and other congregations like it, the real effects of the WCG's alleged "transformation" have impacted on the lives of decent, sincere, committed members. They have been denied representation. They have been denied a voice. They have been treated as dispensable, third-class Christians. You don't need to agree with the theological perspective of Mr. and Mrs. Selent in order  to realize that they and others appear to have been treated contemptibly.


Forgiveness and moving on: Dennis Diehl, who also happens to be a former pastor of the Greenville church (prior to events related in the Selent article) has contributed a personal account of the issues he faces in forgiving and moving on. Highly recommended.


Bishop Joe and the Episcopal lie: Joe Tkach has often referred to the cult's administration as "Episcopal" (and sometimes as "supra-Episcopal.") This comes as a surprise to anyone who knows anything about the Episcopal model. Simply put, the concept is that Jesus ordained the Apostles, the Apostles ordained Bishops, and this chain of "laying on of hands" has continued in an unbroken succession through early Catholicism to modern day bishops and priests in churches such as the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican communions.


How, one may wonder, did a splinter group from the Church of God (Seventh Day) end up describing itself as Episcopal? COG7 certainly doesn't, and nor did the Radio/Worldwide Church of God for most of its existence. In a posting this week on the JBAS list, William Ferguson sheds some light on the mystery.

Nothing I could do would change the WCG leadership (and I know Joe personally), they were not going to change the system that abused people, they just changed the doctrines. That system still exists. Bad systems do make good people do bad things...

I had a plan to reorganize the thing so it could never harm people again, Jack Kessler, then legal advisor to the Church flew me out to Pasadena to try and talk Joe into looking at my idea. Joe refused. Anything less than Catholic style hierarchy means they have to give up their "bishop-like" control of the money. You remember that term "Herbert W. Armstrong corporate sole"? They are in a legal niche carved out in California law for the Catholic Church back when California was owned by Mexico. The "Pastor General" fits the legal definition of a Bishop, and has sole discretion over funds. Jack Kessler discovered that piece of ancient law (still on the books) which stopped the... receivership dead in its tracks. Jack... tries to change the system from within... Some people have the patience of Job.

Around 1981 Herbert W. Armstrong actually claimed that the Catholic "primacy of Peter" doctrine was WCG's position as well! Up to that point the church had consistently taught that James was the chief apostle. Did the about face come after deep study and reflection? Nope. It appears it was nothing more than part of a calculated strategy to evade justice at the hands of a court appointed receiver. 

And, incredibly, Herb's doctrine of convenience is still being used in the selectively transformed Tkach sect today. It helps keep the clamor for accountability at arms length. Another reason why many believe that WCG, despite posturing as an "evangelical denomination", is actually more cultic than some of its less orthodox schisms.

FOT Special: With Tabernacles approaching we're delighted to present another seasonal special. The writer of this inspirational piece may well have his tongue in his cheek, but we think there may be an underlying message too. We wish we could tell you who Oliver W. Pine's ghost writer is, but we're sworn to secrecy... Check out How to have the best Feast of Tabernacles ever!

Virtual FOT:  The UCG is again cybercasting live FOT services. The web address is www.ucg-fot.org. In a improvement over last year, some services will also be archived for the benefit of those listening in different time zones.

Pocono Nostalgia: This report was emailed in this week:

Last year at this time I had some business in Pennsylvania. Before returning home I decided to drive a few more miles to visit the Mt. Pocono Feast site I first attended during its opening year in 1967.

The site is all but abandoned now. The only sign of life was a logging operation in the main parking lot.

It was quite a shock to see the condition of the assembly building with its broken windows and doors askew. The administration building was boarded up. There was a large chart in the assembly building indicating the property has been unused since the Feast of 1987. There is a story in AR 55.

Dateline Pasadena

Grand Junction Colorado has been the only site in WCGism that keeps the traditional Feast of Tabernacles days.  This site has always had the most members attending it because of that fact.  Those that hold that the days of Armstrong must be followed continue to flock to this site because all of the other 'Festival' sites are held on other days within a four week time frame or just on the weekends.  The speakers at this site have woven into their sermons references to the old teachings of Armstrong while ever so slightly touching on the 'new covenant' teachings that Pasadena promotes.  Emphasis has been placed upon the old and tradition instead of the new covenant teachings.

This past week in Pasadena there was a meeting with the headquarters brass and a new set of speakers have been assigned to Grand Junction. Greg Albrecht, Ted Johnston, and Gerald Schnarrenberger will be the ONLY speakers at the site.  They will all be preaching the new covenant and NOT on the meanings that Armstrong assigned to the days. They will also be having a service there where they will ask the members attending to finally take a stand and make a commitment to the current teachings of the new covenant.  Those that do not will be told they will no longer be catered to in WCG services or festival sites. This will be the last time that a WCG sponsored site can be referred to as a Feast of Tabernacles site.  This will also be the last time any WCG sponsored 'Festival' site will be on the traditional Armstrong days. 

People have already started canceling their reservations and say they will be attending other sites that keep the traditional days, regardless of fellowship.  Others say they will still attend but will NOT be making any offerings on the days offerings are taken up. Others say they will attend but hold small group studies in their motel rooms where they will listen to old Armstrong recordings or jointly study old Correspondence Course material on Holy Days.

They also will be having a Communion service at this site which goes against the grain for so many of these people that demand that it can only be observed once a year.

This latest change is being referred to by some as "New Covenant Legalism" at its finest.


At the employee meeting in Pasadena this week Dan Rogers admitted that the membership numbers of the church are steadily declining as is the money.  He acted as if he did not care that numbers are dropping.

Bernie also got up and commented on the complaints of many employees and church members about the money being spent to re-do his offices. He said that Legacy did not own the building and only used the offices in the Ambassador Hall as meeting places for clients on site and held their major meetings at Legacy's Headquarters which were very nice. Bernie said that since they had to move out of the Hall of Ad (so that it would not disturb the functions of the WCG) they needed to have well maintained offices in order to entertain these clients.  (Most employees would not be too disturbed by outside contractors and real estate clients coming into the Hall of Ad since so many of them sit there reading novels and playing on their computers because they have no work or member mail to keep them busy.  The real reason seems to be that they do not want anyone overhearing conversations about the sale of the property and passing that info on.  People have overheard things in the past and word leaked out quickly. With the new public relations company they are working hard to keep leaks at a minimum now.)

He also commented that he decorated Ambassador Hall with the best he could buy on a Kmart budget.  He went on and on about a tapestry hanging in his office.  He laughed and said that when the next auction comes up not to go and bid on the tapestry just because it hung in his office and therefore must be worth something. He made a point to say that it was bought at Ross For Less.  He then explained away the antique furniture in the building that was purchased recently.  He said that you could take any old piece of furniture and place it in Ambassador Hall and it would look great just because of its surroundings. 

To justify the new alarm system at the house he said the reason they had it installed was because they had someone wanting to use their restroom one day and they cannot have people dropping in on them unexpectedly. (The real reason is apparently to protect the information that he has on the sale of the property from wandering eyes.)

He explained that the new carpeting was only cheap 5 year warranty carpet so no one should be too concerned about the new carpeting expense.

He forgot to mention that they now have catered meals quite regularly at the house (the employees are "occasionally" given a free doughnut because they are such hard workers. Oh joy!)

Joe, Ron and Bernie take Note!  While the WCG takes great pains to keep its audited financial statement to a restricted audience, the UCG continues to show the way by publishing full details in the United News. This is part of the accountability a church has to its members. As far as we’re aware, the UCG is the only COG that provides this essential service to its membership (with the possible exception of COG7). WCG requires members to write in, and has consistently balked at publishing the full statement in the Worldwide News.  

Porn Again: The issue of pornography and leading WCG ministers has surfaced several times in the past. Ambassador Report, produced by the late John Trechak, ran several disquieting items on the theme. John Tuit, in his 1981 book The Truth Shall Make You Free specifically linked some of those concerns to Roderick C. Meredith.

"His penchant for X-rated movies and adult book stores has been explained by him as a necessary part of his research in order that he may speak out properly against such sins in his sermons."

This week we received an email from a highly credible source. The email concerns the cause of the falling out between Meredith and the late Stanley Rader. What makes it particularly interesting is that it is Pastor General Joe Tkach who is credited with the disclosure.  Tkach apparently kept regular contact with the former church lawyer up till the time of his death. The letter may be published in a later issue.


Quotes from Waterhouse in New Zealand - October 25 1980

You are to repent of being New Zealanders... God tells you not to love New Zealand.

(On church government) Some people think God is creating a pancake

If you reject that man (Herb) you reject Christ and God the Father

All the books (in the World Tomorrow) will be written by Mr. Armstrong and his department

Mr. Armstrong fills an office that would put John the Baptist to shame!

Mr. Armstrong will be the leader of the Two Witnesses

Most people in New Zealand worship the devil

(We are) learning to love God through religious control

Waterhouse Wisdom: The death of Gerald Waterhouse has led to a lot of comment on various news boards. One writer remembered Gerry proclaiming Garner Ted Armstrong as one of the Two Witnesses. And who could forget that, when Joe Senior ascended the throne, it was Gerry who immediately discerned prophetic significance in his name - the Master Weaver. And of course almost everybody recollects those LONG sermons.


Speaking on a tour of New Zealand in 1980, Gerry proclaimed one of Herb's letters addressing problems in the Australian "Work" "the Epistle to the Australians" and assured those assembled that it would be canonized quick-smart once Christ returned. "Put down all your ideas and opinions," cried Gerald, "and follow my Apostle!" [I can attest to those very words, for I wrote them in the "inspired margin" of my oversized KJV Bible. Some more snippets of Waterhouse wisdom that day can be found in the side panel.]


Several of the more positive tributes to Waterhouse can be found on Victor Kubik's website.


UCG Stats: From the latest United News.

Presently there are 221 congregations in the United States , served by 359 elders of whom 92 are full-time pastors. High attendance is found on the Holy Days (outside of the Feast of Tabernacles). The average for the Holy Days was 12,911 members, families and guests. This is a 5.4 percent increase over last year… This year the Church will again hold the Feast of Tabernacles at 11 U.S. sites.  

PT Circulation at 45,000:  The Plain Truth once boasted a circulation in the millions, but now, according to recent figures reported on JLF, has only 45,000 paid subscribers throughout the United States and Canada. The WCG is in the process of wiping the free subscriptions that formerly went to church members (which must be one of the dumbest marketing ploys ever invented.) The Australian PT-clone "Living Today" disappeared last year in a cost-cutting measure. 


Meredith’s 20/20 Vision: This item from the cogwriter site.

In his recent sermon titled “We're Close to the End”, LCG's R. Meredith commented that LCG believes that God has a 7000 year plan and that the millennium should begin about the time that 6000 years are up. He also commented that the 6000 years should be up no later than 2020, and probably before that. In the Sept-Oct 2002 issue of Tomorrow's World there is an article explaining that Germany will defeat the US and another explaining that the US will not actually win the war on terrorism.

Doesn’t ever give up, does he?


Another Forum change: The forum for WCG alumni on Delphi has closed. This message from forum moderator Peggy Dean:


Due to a large amount of complaints, this board will be closing on Friday, September 13. Our new board is currently opened at this address: http://pub95.ezboard.com/bworldwidechurchofgodalumniforum


Please feel free to start posting on the new board. If you are not registered with ezboards, you will need to register. Registration is free…

Building Stronger Families? The WCG website has been featuring a “Building Stronger Families” theme on its website, which must have raised a few eyebrows. After all, it would be hard to find a church that has split apart as many families for no better reason than it was itself splintering around the brittle egos of competing ministers. It has separated parents from children, sibling from sibling and sometimes extended the rift into the third generation. Could there be the faintest whiff of hypocrisy in the air?


Rule Britannia: Judging from material available on the WCG's British website, nothing much at all is happening in the UK. The last online issue of the British Worldwide News is dated April, and was published before the unexpected news of John Halford's reassignment to other duties in the US.


Polls: The first poll on whether the WCG might be deliberately trying to create a failure situation over the FOT (AW19) found around 80% of readers agreeing that it was likely. Last week we asked whether COG members were, on the whole, a poorly educated bunch. Just prior to uploading AW21 there had been 68 votes logged, with 70% agreeing that they were.




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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