Ambassador Watch The Missing Dimension e-zine / 29





Sunday November 24 2002. Next issue due December 1


Mailbag overload: It's another hefty mailbag this week. Some of the highlights: David Barrett wonders aloud about Garner Ted's reference to dictators, Douglas Becker is back with some thoughts on psychopathic pastors, Jim Baldwin dissects a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking (and whistles a different tune to our regular columnist), Jane asserts the rights of the WCG to do whatever it wishes with its copyrighted material and Steve Dalton responds to Dee's response to Laura's response to Dee's response to... aw shucks!

MOA Rulz, OK? Should Mystery of the Ages still be available in print - regardless of whether it's WCG or PCG doing the publishing? Or would it be best for all concerned if the book disappeared forever? Take the new MD poll.

Silence from CSA: The Christian Stewardship Association seems to have so far failed to make any response to email over their selection of the WCG for “Outstanding Church/Denomination Ministry Award.”  Is it possible that the following comments, which appeared on the JLF board, might help explain?

 I took a look at the CSA website ... and tried to find some criteria as to why/how WCG won such an award, and the only thing I can conclude is because of JWT's statement, "More than 90% of our pastors have now received training from the Christian Stewardship Association." I suspect WCG has the highest number of enrollments this year. They pay money, take some courses and voila! they win a prize! :)

See the lead item in AW28 for more information. To add your voice, send an email to

Fasting for MOA: The fortunate and blessed members of the Philadelphia Church of God are reportedly fasting this weekend over the cult's courtroom crusade to publish Herb's Greatest Hits. Rumbling tummies are apparently needed to convince their fickle deity to do the right thing.

Meantime the WCG seems poised to launch a belated "back-burn" in order to deprive the Flurryites of further excuse for copyright infringement. This item from Ducky's Village:

11/18/02: WCG, apparently to affirm and retain its copyright, for Mystery of the Ages and other historical WCG printed materials, has indicated it will republish and, according to some sources, sell the book indirectly on the Internet. It will apparently also do the same for 18 other "works" produced by the WCG before the death of WCG founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, in 1986. No doubt this will affect the six year long legal dispute WCG has been waging."

A full account is in the October 31 Journal. Here's an excerpt:

"Mr. Helge informed The Journal that the WCG has decided to republish the disputed booklets, books and 58-lesson Bible Correspondence Course and Mystery of the Ages."

"The WCG plans to sell the disputed publications on its Web site ( and make them available from Internet-based bookstores such as The WCG chose 1st Books Library of Bloomington, Ind., as publisher. 1st Books Library makes its products available at and elsewhere."

"We are printing them because of their historical value to the WCG, we used to have a dilemma. How can the WCG print items it didn't believe in anymore? But these works are of value to the public and have historical purposes."

"Helge said the new version of MOA will include a three page preface stating that the book no longer represents the beliefs of the WCG. Other than that, he said, the book will not be annotated; that is, the WCG will not add comments in the form of footnotes on the pages of the main text. The other 18 works will remain unchanged as well."

And if you were wondering what the current situation was with the case, we suspect that the lawyers are doing very nicely indeed. Also, from the PCG Yahoo board:

Judge Snyder denied both WCG's motion for summary judgment and PCG's motion to reopen discovery. That means - the case will go to jury trial to decide how much PCG must pay WCG and whether PCG can publish works by HWA under a fair use or religious freedom restoration act argument. Trial is set for 12/3. ...

On 11/18, PCG filed a memo in support of its earlier motion to keep out any evidence about the sincerity of their religious beliefs. So, they are afraid for the jury to hear evidence that PCG is not sincere in its purported beliefs.

11/18/02, PCG filed a memo in support of its earlier motion to keep out evidence of PCG's racist teachings. They don't want the jury to know they teach separation of the races and other racist ideology.

11/18/02, PCG filed a memo in support of its earlier motion to exclude evidence of tithes, offerings, and donations. They don't want the jury to know how much they are squeezing out of the poor sheeple.

Lipstick for an Aging Pig? The West Pasadena Residents Association have presented Bernie Schnippert with a series of pointed questions they want addressed in the WCG's so-called "listening phase". And, by golly, they went public with them on their website in the lead-up to the church PR meeting this past Tuesday. Oh dear, oh dear. 

Here's the Pasadena Star News report on the meeting:

Church vows limit on housing project
1,650 homes maximum at Ambassador campus
By Gary Scott, Staff Writer

PASADENA -- Worldwide Church of God officials pledged Tuesday to build no more than 1,650 homes on the 48-acre Ambassador College campus, but they have yet to settle on a final development plan, leaving room for a smaller project.

The announcement came at the second of three community outreach meetings organized by the church to discuss the project. At the next meeting, the final plan should be complete.

"This is the right direction,' said Kathy Grobecker, a neighbor of the project area. "I used to come to all the Legacy meetings. That was a nightmare, really awful, totally inappropriate for the neighborhood.'

Grobecker was one of 130 people at the meeting at the Ambassador Administration Building on Green Street. She, like many people there, was pleased to finally see examples of what the church might build.

The church provided three design alternatives in three different categories for both the western and eastern sides of the campus 18 drawings in all. They depicted traffic circulation, building types and open space/landscaping, ranging from the lowest to highest density development.

The project would be almost completely residential.

Kristina Raspa, land use attorney for the church, said none of the specific alternatives will be used. Instead, she said the church is "going to take the public's comments and come up with a fourth way.'

"People are really concerned that the church is going to put lipstick on the same old pig"

The Ambassador campus runs south from Green Street to Del Mar Boulevard, and east from Orange Grove Boulevard to De Lacey Avenue. The Long Beach (710) Freeway spur divides the property into what are referred to as the east and west campuses.

Under the maximum density pledge, 900 homes would be built on the east campus, which is 14 acres. Most development would be multi-family buildings, up to 85 units per acre.

On the larger west campus, which is the most contentious because it borders residential neighborhoods, the maximum calls for 750 homes. In all of the alternatives, the lower density housing faced Orange Grove and Del Mar and higher density units along Saint John Avenue.

If the Ambassador Auditorium is saved, the number of homes on the west campus would drop by about 100, said Steve Kellenberg, architect for the project.

"It's a step in the right direction,' said Vince Farhat, president of the West Pasadena Residents' Association. "I hope the number goes down from there.'

The WPRA opposed Legacy. Farhat said the group will hold the church to its stated commitment to incorporate community concerns into the new plan.

"People are really concerned that the church is going to put lipstick on the same old pig,' he said.

The WPRA will issue a survey of residents living near the project area next week. Last weekend, it released a Top 10 list of questions to the church. The first asked how many homes would be built.

"We realize the unit count isn't everything,' Farhat said. "But people are going to look at the number of units on the west campus as a barometer, a measure, of whether the church listened.'

Legacy called for 1,727 units to be built 839 on the east and 888 on the west.

"If the Ambassador Auditorium is saved..."? Dateline Pasadena comments:

Last night at the Community meeting in the Hall of Ad I was able to talk to a couple of people who have left WCG to join other splinter groups.  They have been regular attendees at all the planning meetings, both for WCG and for Legacy.  Last night however, was a real shocker for some of them.  Bernie's new plans call for the possibility of demolishing the Ambassador Auditorium so that homes can be built in it's location.  They were devastated that The House of God would be razed to the ground like every single other building that Herb built in his honor.  Of course they were adamant in their understanding that God would NEVER allow that to happen!

More from DP This item was first posted on the MD Yahoo board.

I had a person on the Discretionary Assistant program of WCG contact me yesterday to tell me that their 'assistance' (i.e., not retirement) was being cut 10%.  (WCG recently required ALL departments to cut another 10% out of the budgets for next year.) He was quite concerned how he was going to make ends meet.  He was also concerned that the plans of Bernie call for parceling the Pasadena property and placing those monies in the General Fund which is 5 million dollars in the hole. His concern was that as each single parcel is sold, that money would go into the General Fund instead of towards the retirement program that Bernie PROMISED to the employees (which was recorded) and retirees.  He was quite concerned that when all was said and done that there would be no large sum to go into he Retirement Program fund because it had all gone to the General Fund where it could be used for OTHER purposes.  HE said given WCG's track record of broken promises he feels this is what is going to happen.  He mentioned that WCG promised employees raises, cost of living increases and/or bonuses when each of the following things were sold:

"The real question... is, will Bernie and his staff, all upper management in the WCG/PTM, all ministers and department heads take 10% pay cuts to set the example?"

Bricket Wood
Big Sandy
Orr Minnesota
Camp River Glen, CA
Estees Park, CO
Corporate jets

Did it ever happen?  Experience with the WCG can tell you otherwise.

The real question he asked and no one here can verify is, will Bernie and his staff, all upper management in the WCG/PTM, all ministers and department heads take 10% pay cuts to set the example?  Many Corporate heads are now taking pay cuts along with their employees when ever duty calls, will Bernie and crew set the Christian example?

Here's the official line from Ron Kelly in the December WN:

... the bad-news-good-news scenario is: income is down eight percent, but donations have remained at a steady level for several months...

The bottom line, however, regarding our finances, is that we have consistently needed to use reserve funds to maintain operating expense levels for the general international work of the church. With a balanced budget in mind, during managerial meetings, church managers and the board of directors implemented a new budget plan for 2003 that asks [MD translation: demands] all departments to reduce their 2002 expenses by 10 percent.

These reductions affect all facets of our expenses including Church Administration (both U.S. and International), Legal, Finance & Planning, Discretionary Assistance and Facilities. We are budgeting with a plan in mind that will move us through the sales process to ensure the property is entitled and approved for project development.

Certainly making reductions is an emotionally draining procedure. It may mean additional staff reductions and certainly will affect the programs and projects funded by the church. However, we must keep in mind that our goal in the new financial model will be to determine an optimum staff size for the international headquarters of the church —certain to be significantly smaller than our current staffing. So, painful though cutbacks may be, such cuts are necessary to work toward our goal of a balanced budget."

Painful for the lower level employees for sure. But DP's question is worth repeating. Will Joe do the Christian, ethical thing and, along with the big boys (Bernie, Mike, Greg and pals) set an example by sharing that pain?

Life in the Flurry Gulag: The latest issue of the PCG cult magazine, The Philadelphia Trumpet, continues the fine tradition of double standards. Ryan Malone writes: 

How many political leaders of recent history fit the description of traditional heroes.  How many of them have reached our top political office as those who served selflessly in battle?  Our past several American presidents have had little or no military experience--some even AVOIDING it altogether

Uh, excuse me Ryan, but have you forgotten your own church's position on "carnal warfare"? PCG members are required to avoid military service altogether too. Duh!

Trumpet readers will also note that, as we reported after the FOT, the PCG has dramatically cut back on its media ministry. Most television contracts have been cancelled, leaving Rod Meredith's Living Church of God as undisputed COG media heavyweight (146 television and 18 radio stations according to Bob Thiel.) 

This is proof, in the minds of the LCG faithful, that God is behind the Meredith Work. Here's how Bob expressed it this week:

It has been four years since the takeover of GCG by the board. And no matter what that takeover bunch promised, these are the facts: Other than LCG, all the groups once associated with GCG are on between 1-3 radio stations and no (to the best of my knowledge) tv stations--and the takeover bunch never did pay back the creditors as it indicated it would. Those other groups simply do not appear to be placing their top priority on proclaiming the Gospel.

On the other hand, LCG is on 146 tv and 18 radio stations proclaiming the Gospel. LCG has about the same amount of members as before the takeover. LCG is the only major COG that spends the same percentage of its income to on this top priority as WCG did under HWA. LCG is the only COG I know of that meets the criteria that HWA (and Jesus) set for the Philadelphia era of the COG.

So there! 

Meantime, it seems Gerry's ailing sect is going to miss out on some much coveted cash - half a million dollars worth - according to a story in the Vancouver Sun which was posted to the PCG Yahoo board this week. Excerpts appear below.

November 16, 2002

Church of God bequest reduced: Judge rules that children deserve half of landowner's $1 million, despite will giving most to a church, The Sun's Alan Daniels reports

The three adopted children of a wealthy Vanderhoof landowner are half a million dollars richer today after a B.C. Supreme Court judge altered the man's will instead of allowing the money to go to a small U.S.-based church.

The judge ruled that Stanley Fuller, who died in July 2000, was delusional and paranoid when he rewrote his will in 1997, leaving the bulk of his fortune, $1 million, to the Oklahoma-based Philadelphia Church of God, an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God, founded by the late Herbert W. Armstrong in the 1960s.

Justice P. Rogers cut in half the amount the church got, splitting $500,000 among the children...

In a lengthy written judgment, Rogers said Fuller, a deeply religious man, became angry with his children after his daughter Rosemary, 44, who lives near Fort Fraser, told him that the church was after his money "and he might come to a tragic end such as the poor
unfortunates at Jonestown."

This was a reference to the deaths of hundreds of followers of American cult leader Jim Jones who died from drinking poisoned Kool-Aid in a jungle clearing in Guyana on Nov. 18, 1978.

"Rosemary says that as soon as those words were out of her mouth her father took an expression of deep anger and she knew she had gone too far in her questioning his faith in his church."

However, the judge wrote that a rational response to that remark "would not have been to disinherit the children." ...

Fuller's slow mental deterioration, resulting from Alzheimer's disease and dementia, was chronicled in the judgment. But the judge found his illness was not typical, because although it produced "profound and disabling delusions in his mind, his social function was largely preserved."

The judge concluded that, as early as 1994, three years before the will was altered in favour of the church, leaving only $1,000 to each of the three children, "Mr. Fuller's expressed views were at least strange and probably delusional." ...

Evidence was given that when Fuller sold a three-quarter section of his land in 1995, netting $1.8 million in cash from the proceeds, he gave each of his grown-up children $200,000. ...

For his part, Fuller told them to "spend the money wisely." And, according to the church, it was all he had intended to give them. At the same time, Fuller had given $260,000 to his church as a "tithe" -- "about 10 per cent of the increase in value of his property."

Strange? Delusional and paranoid? Sounds like a characterization that goes beyond the unfortunate Mr. Fuller to embrace many observers' perception of the PCG itself.

Oh Ye of Little Faith! Try selling a magazine subscription when the majority of your potential subscribers have little confidence the publication will still be around in 12 months time. That's got to be an issue for Cardinal Greg and the PTM curia, judging from last weeks poll. We asked: Will The Plain Truth magazine survive the next 12 months? At last check there had been 62 responses. 27 said unlikely, 24 hedged their bets with a maybe, and only 11 said definitely. Percentage-wise that's 43/38/17.

A new poll is now up.

New Mission Statement: In case you missed it the WCG has reworked its mission statement. The revised statement, published in the December WN, has 5 sections:

According to Joe:

This statement has been produced with the input of our headquarters leadership team, the denominational doctrinal committee, our international regional directors, and our district superintendents in the U.S.  It was our desire to produce a statement that reflected our current understanding...

Yup, Joe and Co. sat down with the chief priests and Sadducees and cooked up the new document. Did the lowly, garden variety members have an opportunity to comment at the various stages of drafting? Will the membership have an opportunity to formally accept, reject, adopt or endorse the document? Or is it another case of the cult leaders knowing what's best? (Longtime MD readers will realize these are rhetorical questions!)  

Mind you, the local congregations do have a minor role.

Each local congregation of the Worldwide Church of God should develop its own mission statement... within the framework of the denomination's mission.

Such a heady responsibility!

email MD: email Dateline Pasadena: 


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