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Ambassador Watch  A weekly E-zine 

Check the previous AW issue

In this issue: WCG ignores Grand Junction, MOA developments, Flurry group implodes, campus windfall (leaves - not cash), Spanky's shuffle

Issue XXVII - November 1  2002

AW takes a break next week. The next edition is scheduled for Sunday November 17.  NB. Future editions will also appear Sundays rather than Fridays

WCG Festival Reports: The latest WN (US edition) features festival reports from all over. Lets see, there's Riverside, California; then there's Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Seaside, Oregon; Moline, Illinois. There's even a New Zealand report from the glorious Overseas Terminal venue in balmy Wellington.

But shucks, there's no mention of the abundant spiritual joys of Grand Junction, Colorado. What a terrible oversight...

Controller Ron Reports: Ron Kelly continues to put a brave face on matters financial in his November WN report.

Available cash funds for the year to date have passed $19.1 million. That’s about $14.4 million in member donations and almost $4.4 million from all other sources. For the first nine months of this year we are running just one percent under the comparable nine months of last year. While that’s still a negative figure, at least it’s the smallest negative number we can register!

... expenses continue to exceed income by about $3.9 million... This year, as noted above, we have had expenses about $3.9 million more than income. That, of course, has dropped the reserve fund. But reserves are still in adequate shape, that is, above the six-month level.

MOA: It Ain't Over Yet: This update appeared on the PCG Yahoo group. Thanks Helen.

I looked at the docket sheet for the case.  Here is the status:

On 12/3/01, Judge Snyder set the case for jury trial on 10/15/02.  The case includes The Missing Dimension in Sex, The Wonderful World Tomorrow, Pagan Holidays or Gods Holy Days, Which Day is the Christian Sabbath, The Incredible Human Potential in PCG's counterclaim to get the right to publish and distribute.  MOA is NOT a part of the case as far as PCG trying to get right to publish it on the counterclaim.  The other issue are damages to be paid by PCG to WCG for past publishing of MOA.

On 6/17/02, WCG moved to continue the case.  PCG opposed.  On 7/8/02, Judge Snyder granted WCG's motion and continued the case until 12/3/02.

On 9/30/02 - the WCG moved for summary judgment on PCG's counterclaim to get the right to publish the above writings.  The PCG has 2 reasons in its counterclaim why it should be able to publish the above writings:

(1) The Religious Freedom Restoration Act and
(2)the doctrine of "Fair Use" of copyrighted materials
(that's the way students and professors get to Xerox limited parts of published works for education purposes, for example).

WCG is arguing that the PCG shouldn't even get to make this argument to the jury, since it has already failed on MOA as a matter of law and is just as invalid in the context of these other writings.  This motion is set for hearing on 11/4/02.  If it is granted, PCG will be stopped from distributing the above writings in addition to MOA - which is is already stopped from distributing.

Meanwhile, on 10/15/02, PCG moved to reopen discovery, trying to get access to attorney/client confidential materials of the WCG, claiming that WCG has somehow waived its attorney/client privilege.  This motion is also set for 11/4/02.  If they keep this up, I doubt the case will go to trial on 12/3/02.  Meanwhile, the... members of both WCG and PCG shell out the big bucks as both sides have NUMEROUS lawyers!

Anyone surprised by this? From the (now defunct) Flurry Yahoo group.

... the minister (Stephen Flurry) said if we loose the court case it is all our fault because we did not have the faith that it takes to win the case. I could not believe my ears, here they are putting the blame on the members .  I had already news that they had lost the court case from the papers I read . I think Flurry is setting things in motion and to convince the people if they loose, it is their lack of faith.

Trick or Treat - Henrik's Halloween Putsch: Like a bolt from the blue comes the news that Henrik Blunck, Danish moderator of the Flurry Yahoo group, has pulled the plug on his popular newsgroup. Mr. Blunck, a former member of the Pack-led Restored Church of God, seems to have been concerned that the late Herbert W. Armstrong was not being accorded the degree of respect he felt comfortable with. The Flurry Yahoo group had been a useful clearing house of information on the secretive cult, and a place where former members could share their stories. Those who subscribed in Digest mode were apparently not even given the courtesy of receiving advance notification of the closure, as the group was purged before the last Digest could be emailed. 

Here is an edited version of Henrik's "last post".

Hello flurry-readers,

Flurry group will close in 10 minutes. No more mails, no more bitter sarcasm. Go fight in someone else's backyard... Thanks for the time many of you have spent trying to build up this group. Much time has gone into praying about what to do, and the only solution that comes to mind is to back off entirely. We will not reach the goals stated by our disagreements -- and some will not back off their anti-HWA sentiments.

Thankfully the PCG Yahoo group seems to be already taking up the slack. There's a link on the MD Forums page.

News of the closure reached AW just as the first roving pack of Halloween kids thumped on the front door, causing your intrepid reporter to lose the opportunity to turn the fire-hose on the little monsters - hence the title! 

(I'm just kidding about the fire-hose... honest!)

Tongan update: Longtime Tongan church elder Tolu Ha’angana died October 22 after a lengthy illness. His current affiliation was with the United Church of God. Leon Walker and Jeff Caudle (NZ) were in Tonga at the time.

Dateline Pasadena:  "While visiting the Pasadena campus today we noticed a flurry of activity going on in the Hall of Ad.  People were building a new display wall. Others were outside hosing down walkways and porches, while others were cleaning sidewalks, trimming shrubbery and raking leaves.  Obviously Bernie wants to put on a good face for all those important people from the public!  Too bad he never thinks of the church members in the same light.  The sidewalks are not cleaned for them, porches are dirty, benches are dirty, piles of leaves cover the sidewalks, pools are dirty, the members just have to deal with it. When the Senior Citizens come for Chapel on Wednesday they have to walk through piles of leaves to get from the parking lot to the Auditorium."

The following press report appeared in the Pasadena Star News this week.

Church previews plans for campus
Residents offer input, get questions answered
By Gary Scott, Staff Writer

PASADENA. About 320 people attended an open house Wednesday organized by the Worldwide Church of God to get community comments before plans for the 48-acre Ambassador Campus project are finalized.

While not every person who attended left satisfied, most people said they were glad the church made an effort to hear their concerns.

"I'd like (the campus) to stay just the way it is, but I know it can't,' said Ann M. Ziol, a resident of the nearby Oaks retirement home. She asked the church to make every effort to preserve the Ambassador Auditorium.

The Ambassador Campus is near Orange Grove Boulevard and Green Street. The concept calls for residential development on the 36 acres west of the Long Beach (710) Freeway spur and a more dense, mixed- use development on the eastern side near the future Del Mar Gold Line light-rail station.

Resident George Armour said the open house will be a success if the church "really listens' to the community. He and his wife, Isabel, have lived in the area for 2 1/2 years. They asked church officials to limit any residential development and to preserve the look of Orange Grove Boulevard.

Dan DeStefano, a resident in the West Pasadena Residents' Association, was more skeptical. He said the project will harm nearby neighborhoods and create further traffic problems, like those on Fair Oaks Avenue.

"They want to unload the property and build as many homes as they can,' he said.

Several people asked how many residential units the church plans to build, but the church officials said they could not yet answer this or any other specific questions about the plan.

"It is frustrating on the one hand to not have answers, but we can't say we are going to listen before we design, then design before we listen,' said Bernard Schnippert, director of planning and finance for the church. "There will be more community meetings and we will begin to show what we know.'

Lois Matthews asked why the church's development application with the city calls for 1,942 residential units, which is more than were proposed in the failed Legacy Project. A resident on Orange Grove, she also is concerned about the impact development will have on traffic.

"We had to submit a unit count,' said Kristina Raspe, land use attorney for the church. "If we had submitted anything else people would have assumed we had a design in our back pocket.'

Raspe said the church will issue a fixed and final number for residential units early next year.

The church's first attempt to develop the area, using the Orange County-based Legacy Partners, fizzled last April in part because of public criticism over the density. The church decided to move forward with a new master plan and act as its own developer. Schnippert
organized an intensive public outreach campaign to try and prevent the mistakes of the past.

City Councilman Victor Gordo said the Legacy Project failed because the plan was developed before it was presented to the community. He said he is encouraged by the church's decision to address the community first this time.

"Outreach, communication and input from people throughout the city will bring the balance that is needed and, hopefully, result in a viable project that will meet the needs of the neighbors as well as provide the housing that is needed in Pasadena,' Gordo said.

Schnippert said he hopes the plan will have final approval from the City Council by the end of the year. Once completed, the church will begin selling the property to builders.

"We are designing it to fit the neighborhood it is not that we are going to change the neighborhood to fit us,' Schnippert said.

British FOT statistics: So how is the WCG holding up in dear old Blighty? After last weeks report we were interested in these comments from David Silcox on the British WCG web site. He begins:

I wanted to give you a few statistics on the recent Festival celebrations here in the United Kingdom. All the reports I have received indicate a very positive atmosphere with a real sense of celebration and fun [hmm - is that a statistic?] The weather was outstanding in all areas [maybe the Brits define "statistic" differently to those of us in the colonies?]

Then, once the positive spin has been liberally sloshed about, some actual figures emerge. 5 sites are mentioned in the UK (Bangor, Bridlington, London, Paignton and Perth.) Combined figures add up to well under 1000.

LCG Musical Chairs: From Bob Thiel's COGwriter site.

Dr. Meredith reports Charles Bryce is to replace Carl McNair as LCG's Director of Church Administration. Carl McNair has reluctantly... held that position twice, and asked for it to be temporary each time. 

There was, however, no intimation of such a move in McNair's October 18 "update". The October 24 bulletin was penned by Dibar Apartian who wrote:

Mr. Carl McNair and his wife left Tuesday afternoon for a well-deserved vacation. They will be returning on November 5th...

The COGwriter item continues:

Rand Millich is to become Regional Pastor for the upper Midwest; John Ogwyn is to again be Regional Pastor of the Southeastern US; Carl Ponder is to become a full-time pastor for Atlanta; Carl McNair is to be Regional Pastor for all of the Western US, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Ambassador Watch is part of the Missing Dimension website - www.missingdimension.com. It is published online most Sundays.  The contact address is: missingdimension@ihug.co.nz  Dateline Pasadena can be reached at datelinepasadena@yahoo.com
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