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No. 34  DEC 02-JAN 03

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Covering developments and advocating accountability in the Worldwide Church of God and related groups

This page is now updated several times a week.  
Click here for the previous AW edition.

 New: Creationism? Good Grief! Part 1: Dominoes & Dinosaurs

30 Jan. Women to be ordained in the WCG? Check out this site from WCG's Michael Morrison. This related item comes from the February WN. 

Church requesting research on the ordination of women

The WCG doctrinal review team will be studying research submitted by ministers and members of the Worldwide Church of God on the subject of female elders and pastors. If you would like to contribute, please follow the guidelines below and submit your paper no later than May 25. Papers submitted after that date will not be included in the study.

Guidelines for submission

All research must be submitted electronically in Microsoft Word format. Use 12-point, Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, and be sure to double-space your work and number all pages.

Include your name, address, e-mail address and phone number, along with the name of your congregation and local pastor, in the upper left portion of the first page. If you have formal theological training, please describe it on the line below your pastor's name.

Begin your paper with a 250-or-less-word synopsis of your work, citing the specific question your paper is addressing followed by your basic tenets and conclusions.

Conclude your paper with a thorough bibliography of works cited.

Lay out your research and conclusions in calm, reasoned language. Before you conclude your paper, be sure to interact constructively with views that disagree with your own, and express what you understand to be the strengths and weaknesses of your perspective.

Papers do not need to discuss all the issues. A thorough discussion of one question or passage of Scripture is better than a superficial treatment of them all. Pertinent topics for research would include the following:

-Does Genesis imply equality or subordination before the Fall?   -Do biblical stories of women show that God requires that they be subordinate?   -Did Jesus treat women as equals? Why did he choose only men apostles?   -What roles did women have in the apostolic church?   -Did Paul allow women to prophesy in church meetings? What authority did these prophecies have? How is this different from teaching?   -Does 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 give a universal rule, or was it intended only for certain situations?   -Does 1 Timothy 2:12-15 give a universal rule, or was it intended only for certain situations?   -Do Paul's other comments about men and women (apart from 1 Timothy 2:12-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-36) provide any guidance for us?   -How do modern cultural matters affect this question?

Only submissions by members in good standing of the Worldwide Church of God will be considered for review.

Interesting - and predictable - that a project concerning women is being coordinated by a bloke. This may indicate that any change is being driven by the sect's elite mandarins in Pasadena rather than from any genuine groundswell among the members (why would this development be any different from the others?) Are there any women, we wonder, on Joe's hand-picked doctrinal review team? Will Tammy be sitting in? And does anyone believe that the result isn't a foregone conclusion, regardless of who submits what? Also interesting that Morrison's page isn't hosted on the official church website.

30 Jan. Reaction to PSN article: Reg Killingley forwarded MD this letter, which he sent to Pasadena Star News writer Marshall Allen.


Regarding your article in the Star News
[see yesterday's AW item], I don't know how long you've been following WCG, but I was with them for decades. I even worked with Bernie Schnippert 25 years ago. I'm not quite sure how the WCG leaders have demonstrated humility, but if they have they've kept it well hidden.

One question I asked Ron Kelly several years ago he refused to answer. I told him that if Armstrong had been proven wrong on his fundamental teaching about the Sabbath, then there was no reason for the continued existence of the sect (in his writings and in his preaching, Armstrong repeatedly emphasized how he came to start his denomination by being challenged on the question of the Sabbath). Since Armstrong was wrong about the Sabbath, it would have been a wonderful demonstration of real humility and Christian unity for the leadership to say, "We deeply regret that Armstrong came to start a sect when he never should have done so. We encourage you to attend a good church in your neighborhood. We will dispose of the assets of WCG and donate them to charity." Why not do that? (That's the question Ron angrily dismissed when I asked him.)

If the WCG leadership had been truly humble, they would have been willing to give up their well-paying positions and secure retirement. They never did. (They did, however, "sacrifice" by laying off thousands of others. And no doubt felt their pain.)

The only reason I can see for the continued existence of WCG as a separate denomination is to provide sinecures and a secure retirement for the leadership and other hopeful hangers-on. After all, what would Ron Kelly be able to do if he wasn't with them? Or Joe Tkach? Or Mike Feazell? Or so many of the others? I doubt very much that most of them would be able to find jobs that paid remotely what they're getting now. (Of course they're not going to admit any of this, any more than Saddam will admit to producing WMD, but it has been known to happen that religious leaders are more interested in feathering their own nests than in anything else.)

Reg Killingley

30 Jan. Darwin in the Lion's Den?Church of God members tend to be keen creationists, so the latest MD Southern Exposure column may come as a surprise to some. This is the first part in a projected series on creationism. As always we remind readers that opinions expressed in MD columns are those of the columnist (in this case the editor), and do not necessarily reflect those of other MD writers or contributors.

30 Jan. Dumbing Down with Dave: Gary Scott has a perceptive new article regarding Führer Pack's RCG sect and his jaundiced view of education. Check out Real Christians Don't Wear Tweed.

30 Jan. Stevie and the gun lobby: Just discovered the article, "The Resurgence of NAZI GERMANY" on the "Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc." (pro-gun) website, written by Stephen Flurry.  This article is loaded with references from various HWA (Plain Truth) "predictions", plus the usual literary style of excessive CAPS, so on and so forth.

30 Jan. What goes around comes around: I had to chuckle when I read Vic Kubik's "I was in the dark" statement. Especially considering how he, along with Robin Webber and other ministers, sat in his apartment on campus in the mid 90's as they plotted and schemed on how to draw members away from WCG to join their new UCG church.  They were telling members to hold on to their tithe money and wait till the new and improved Church of God was formed. He did this for several months, while getting his free rent, pay checks, fleet car, etc.  All the while kissing Tkach Sr's butt in public and then scheming behind his back.  Kubik has gotten a dose of his own... actions.  He is just another of Herb's worshippers who wants to be seen in the eyes of the world...  God forbid if he ever did anything quietly so that no one ever sees it...

Dateline Pasadena

29 Jan. Star News runs story on WCG: The Pasadena Star News has run a story called Church struggles with changes in its mission, financial woes by Marshall Allen. WCG spin doctors must be ecstatic; the article comes across as a "patsy" piece. Excerpts:

Mainstream religious people are usually more known for their insistence that they've found the truth rather than a willingness to admit their beliefs have been mistaken. But humility has been a hallmark of Worldwide Church of God leaders [MD comment: pardon me?] since they disowned the very non-mainstream beliefs of their founder, Herbert W. Armstrong...

The media were tools for growth and for sharing Armstrong's unique blend of beliefs, which Worldwide Church of God Controller Ronald Kelly said contributed to creating a fearful and cultic atmosphere... Armstrong believed, for instance, that Jesus Christ will return to Earth to assume the throne of England, where he'll reign in peace and prosperity forever...

The emphasis on obedience was apparent in some of the headlines from the church's newsletter. "HOW YOU DRESS FOR CHURCH Could it keep you out of the KINGDOM?' "OUR LIGHT IS SHINING! and not the cosmetics on our faces.'

Tithing was mandatory: 10 percent of a member's income had to be given directly to the church, 10 percent to celebrate festivals and another 10 percent for supporting needy members... It also enabled a lavish lifestyle for Armstrong, who traveled the world meeting with politicians and lived luxuriously in a mansion on the Pasadena campus. The church's auction of some of Armstrong's personal possessions in 2000 included a Chippendale dining room suite with St. Louis crystal, Louis XVI giltwood armchairs, Meissen urns, a pair of Steinway grand pianos and a silver model of the Mayflower.

Thinking about the church's past practices causes him some emotional difficulty now, Schnippert said. [MD comment: maybe Bernie should go on unpaid leave while he seeks therapy. That might save some other members emotional difficulty.] "Being exclusivistic and judgmental are not virtues, and it's painful to see yourself embracing values that aren't Christian ideals,' Schnippert said. "There's pain and embarrassment in that.' [MD comment: how about the pain and embarrassment of continuing to run the sect without accountability to or representation for the membership?]

"There was dancing in the street when we dropped makeup,' Schnippert said. "I wish I would've owned stock in Revlon at that time,' Kelly quipped...

The new church position emphasized God's grace, and Armstrong's followers were having none of it. Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, said he's never seen a church make such dramatic and sweeping changes in theology. Typically, people on the periphery of non-mainstream religions become converts, he said. In this case, it was the leadership. 

The change had drastic effects on churches across the country and internationally, as members took sides in the battles of belief. "Every congregation was decimated by the fallout,' Kelly said.

Multiple church splits occurred and now membership in the Worldwide Church of God has dropped to about 67,000. U.S.- based income fell from $170 million before the split to $25 million this year, Schnippert said.

The Worldwide Church of God sued one of the spinoff churches, the Philadelphia Church of God, over the right to publish Armstrong's magnum opus, "Mystery of the Ages.' The Worldwide Church of God owns the rights to the book and won the case. A settlement is imminent in a counter-lawsuit between the groups regarding the copyright owned by the Worldwide Church of God on 18 other Armstrong works, Schnippert said. Members of the Philadelphia Church of God declined to comment for this article. Members of other churches that follow Armstrong's teachings did not return calls for comment.

Despite the fact that changing its beliefs has hurt the Worldwide Church of God's programs and finances, and caused personal pain, the church is in a good place, Schnippert said. And while they were once hyper-judgmental, church leaders will say it's hard to find a more tolerant group now, he said. [MD comment: Uh-huh. Just ask the people who've been disfellowshipped in Pasadena over the last 12 months]

The full article is available on the PSN site (linked at the top of this item) and was posted by Dateline Pasadena to the Missing Dimension Yahoo group. It has also appeared in full on JLF.

29 Jan. Joe and the "Mormans": Joe Tkach was due to put in an appearance at the EMNR conference this past weekend. EMNR stands for Evangelical Ministries to New Religions. Something of a "poster boy" for counter-cult ministries, Joe mentioned the conference in correspondence which was posted to JLF yesterday. He wrote:

I have been a member of EMNR for nearly five years. I was not on the agenda to speak this time, but our story is a continuing source of encouragement to many who do counter-cult work, especially those who interact with Mormans and Seventh Day Adventists. We got honorable mention several times - in the opening session with Francis Beckwith, and also with Craig Blomberg...

The counter-cult arena is somewhat of a chaotic zone at times - counter-cult ministries don't' all agree with each other and it seems there is always some kind of disagreement on who is or isn't a heretic... the main event was the bringing together of experts on Mormanism which was a very good event.

At the risk of sounding churlish, it might be pointed out that Seventh-day Adventists, for all their problems, have a much less cultic form of governance than WCG, and are widely regarded as evangelical Christians. And, glory be, isn't it a fact that the Pasadena WCG congregation is more than willing to hire SDA facilities for Sunday services?

And don't you have to wonder about a "cult expert" like Joe who can't even spell the word Mormon?

Victor Kubik

29 Jan. Kubik breaks silence: UCG minister Victor Kubik has released correspondence over the Terre Haute disaffiliation, and re-launched a website presence for those that have remained.

In an initial letter to those who have left Kubik seems to be responding to specific criticism when he writes: 

Most of you are aware that on January 4, 2003 a quorum of the United Church of God Terre Haute board met and decided to disassociate from the United Church of God, an International Association. Perhaps you have wondered why I did not make more of an effort to be present at such a pivotal meeting. Quite simply, I was completely in the dark as to the real intent of the meeting. I should note that I was only notified the week of the actual meeting that my request for a delay of the board meeting until the following week was rejected by a majority vote of the board. Neither was I ever told or made aware that the topic of disassociation would be on the agenda. I was told there would be "a discussion of the Terre Haute situation." ... My absence at such a pivotal meeting was not a show of disrespect. I believe keeping me, both as pastor and a board member, in the dark about the real intention of the meeting was probably done from a basis of fear rather than Godly confidence... Depending on how many choose to remain with UCG we are prepared to offer church services, Bible studies and visits in the Terre Haute and surrounding areas.

A second letter (January 25) is also posted.

29 Jan. Pack - Author Extraordinaire: Speaking of plagiarism, did you know that some of Dave Pack's writings just seem to emerge out of nowhere? Yes, it's true, according to an "Author's Statement" at his website: "Slowly, I realized that I had to try to record these [WCG doctrinal] changes in a book that I could place in people's hands. As staggering as the task appeared to be, various editions began to emerge over a period of the next two years." Surely the biggest miracle since Aaron threw gold into the fire and a golden calf came out! (Most of your readers are probably aware that 95% of the work on Dave Pack's book was done by someone else, but that he now bills himself as sole author.) Ironically, in the same statement mentioned above he remarks: "Remember, also, a thief is a thief! A thief is one who steals what is not his."

29 Jan. Is this too rich ?  WCG leaders call the gospel of Luke's condemnation of the wealthy "hyperbole". What else would you expect from wealthy WCG executives ?  Doesn't this sound like that other 'Health & Wealth' preacher across town at the Crystal Cathedral? : Robert "There's nothing W R O N G with being rich" Schuller.

Meanwhile, half way between these two "great" Los Angelean religions we have Hollywood where it appears art is imitating life in the form of the hit TV show Joe Millionaire. The premise of this 'reality' show being a man who tells people he's a millionaire when he really isn't, he's just a fake. This is not to be confused with the other Joe Millionaire in Pasadena who tells people he's not a millionaire when in reality he is.

Speaking of Joe Millionaire (the one in Pasadena), I notice his 'Worldwide News' propaganda... sheet - is late (it was due on the 24th). Could this mean more bad news in [the] monthly Corporate Earnings Report? I sincerely hope so.

28 Jan. Prophecy Speaks - More HWA Plagiarism: Way back in 1933 prolific Seventh-day Adventist author Earle Albert Rowell wrote a booklet called Prophecy Speaks, which was published by the SDA-owned Review and Herald Publishing Association. You may have read it. No? Well, you've done the next best thing if you've read Herbert W. Armstrong's The Proof of the Bible. The HWA booklet, produced in 1958, is another example of Armstrong stealing someone else's work, doing a re-write job with "great bleeding chunks", sticking his own name on - and then copyrighting the result.

The proof of the plagiarism lies in comparing Rowell's booklet with Armstrong's. If you haven't got a hard copy, The Proof of the Bible is easily accessible on a number of websites. But what about the Rowell booklet, which first saw the light of day 70 years ago? AW has discovered that Prophecy Speaks can also be found on the Web and downloaded for free.

Rowell's Prophecy Speaks was written in dialog form as a fictional debate between David Dare (a Bible researcher, and source of the sections HWA pirated) and "Mr. Emerson", a skeptic who eventually - and predictably - is won over.

Here's a quote from chapter 4 of Prophecy Speaks, "How to Disprove the Bible": God Himself has not only dared you to disprove His predictions, but has also taken the pains to tell you how. Tyre has continued a daily defiance to every unbeliever.  ‘Thou shalt be built no more: for I the Lord have spoken it,’ says the prophecy.  Read it for yourself in Ezekiel 26:14.  The reason it cannot be rebuilt is here given.  Here is a test that God has set for the boasting unbeliever — the simple one of rebuilding a city.  To do that one thing would disprove the Bible.

And here's Armstrong's version: "And now, just a word to the skeptics. Here is how you can disprove the Bible, and the very existence of God - if there is no God, and IF the Bible is not inspired! Just go over and build a small city on the site of New Tyre... Whoever inspired Ezekiel 26 dares the skeptics to try to do it."

Rowell: A dollar each from the unbelievers in England and America would be sufficient to rebuild Tyre, and thus blast for ever the reputation of the Bible as a truth-telling book.

Armstrong:"A contribution of a dollar each from all of the American skeptics alone would be ample."

Rowell: Every year, every day, every minute that Tyre has remained in utter ruin it has disproved the emphatic declaration of sceptics that Bible predictions are vague or were made after the events which they foretell took place.

Armstrong: "Every year, EVERY DAY, yes, EVERY HOUR that site of New Tyre remains a desolate top of the rock for spreading fishermen's nets - every hour that it remains uninhabited, and no city is built there, it is SHOUTING the PROOF of divine revelation of the Bible to skeptics."

The irony is that the WCG had to withdraw The Proof of the Bible in 1972 (a bad year all round!) because of the factual errors it contained. That story is told in the 1977 Ambassador Report article Herbert Armstrong "Disproves" the Bible.

28 Jan. Persecution and Repression - Welcome to Gerry's Millennial Nightmare: Those who have checked out the new All2True column already know that Gerald Flurry's PCG cult gets a critical mention in the latest issue of Analog. Here's the quote from an editorial by Stanley Schmidt:

A reader sent me an editorial from The Philadelphia Trumpet (a magazine apparently dedicated to exposing modern science as "a false messiah--about to destroy us all!") quite blatantly envisioning a future ruled entirely by Christians, not "hampered [author's own emphasis] by multiculturalism and diversity." 

This kind of stuff is scary, no matter who spouts it. Depth and sincerity of belief, and the courage of conviction to act on if even at great personal risk, can indeed be a real and admirable virtue--sometimes even if the belief itself is not entirely accurate. But when that belief leads to persecution of others who don't share it, it is no way to be admired--or even tolerated!

(Useful Illusions & Deadly Faith Editorial, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, February 2003)

All2True's Douglas Becker comments: Dr. Stanley Schmidt is an educated and brilliant scientist with a doctorate, is accomplished in his field... [and] is widely regarded by his peers and his readers. I find myself agreeing with his editorials most of the time, but at no time should his perspectives be ignored...

Flurry's "Big Brother" version of the Millennium is not unique. Garner Ted Armstrong's is, if anything, actually cruder. A thousand years of mindless boot-licking by lobotomized zombies. Their "wonderful world tomorrow" resembles a perverse fantasy where their own prejudices are writ large.

28 Jan. Heard it on the Grapevine? Another place to chat about the WCG and related matters: The Grapevine Forum, (From Dateline Pasadena)

28 Jan. Earl Williams - Another Perspective: I read your [item] on Earl Williams [The Earl Williams Factor, Jan. 25] and, amazingly, after 8 years, still find my stomach turning at the mention of the man's name. I was in Atlanta from 1990 until 1995 and was there during all of what he was preaching. 

Yes, he preached the truth. But... when he "resigned" from WCG in 1995, half the congregation left with him, basically along racial lines. I was there when Tkach Sr. was there, and personally told him that I supported Earl Williams. Yet, I found later, that he was arranging the situation so that when he left he could receive a hefty sum from WCG, as well as lifetime health insurance... I know he attempted to set me up... I have always been thankful I didn't fall into [that] trap...

After leaving Atlanta, things he said would pop into my mind, and I would reject them summarily, unless I could independently confirm them. Thus, it took me longer to completely understand the things he preached. Yes, they were the truth, but his methods so discredited him in my eyes I had a hard time accepting them.   Eight years later, the name Earl Williams still brings a bad taste to my mouth... 

(name supplied)

28 Jan. And again: I am horrified to see Earl Williams being spoken of highly on ESN's site.  When I was in his congregation, he was extremely abusive, in many ways: misogynistic, saying people should not to go to the doctor - FROM THE PULPIT, not to mention the many abuses I personally endured ...

I wish that before they had endorsed this individual, and painted him in such a shining light, they had looked a little closer at his background.  He to me represents the worst... that the cult practiced...

(name supplied)

27 Jan. Flurry lieutenant's last post: Tim Thompson, PCG minister and administrator, died this past week, reportedly from cancer. These comments from the PCG Yahoo group.

[Thompson] was instrumental in getting Gerry the coveted 501c (3) tax-exempt status from the IRS. In fact the IRS at first told the PCG that they didn't qualify for it since there was no board of directors or elders. They didn't like the fact that Gerry had dictatorial control over the church. Tim fought back though and prevailed. Thompson also served as Gerry's man for traveling around the world and getting those last wills and testaments executed promptly. He single-handedly secured that land for the college and headquarters. He basically hounded that landowner for a couple of years until he finally cried "uncle" and sold it to the PCG. His tenacity and skill in business and legal affairs was worth it's weight in gold to Flurry. I don't see anyone else in Flurry's cadre that can carry the load as well as Tim Thompson did. I got to know him fairly well as he shared a lot of his life story with me. Before coming into "the Church" he was in the business world, both legal and illegal. In fact, he was quite a thug, for which he was ashamed, and said so often... I thought his past gave him "character". He was definitely the most interesting and fun minister in the PCG to me. He was very worldly wise to say the least, and Gerry capitalized on that very much. And make no mistake about it, Tim could be ruthless...

The writer also opined: ... the deaths of both Tim Thompson and Gordon Davis are leading to what Gerry ultimately wants: a ministry made up of young-uns just barely into adulthood... The young ones are easier to control, and they are more likely to revere [Flurry].

26 Jan. Cat lovers rejoice! Are you a cat person or a dog person? New MD columnist Douglas Becker joins us today with the first in a series of occasional columns called All2True. In his first contribution, Jeopardy, Douglas launches on a wide-ranging tour de force that takes readers from The Worldwide News to Sci-Fi publication Analog. And what on Earth has that got to do with cats and dogs? You're really going to have to read Jeopardy for yourself to find that out.

26 Jan. Born Again: The United Church of God has now published its much discussed but little read study paper on "Born Again" to the Web. A welcome move which hopefully sets a precedent for the future.

26 Jan. Record month for MD: With another week left in January, the site has already set a new monthly record for page views logged. The previous high of 32,123 was passed yesterday.

26 Jan. Impressed by Tkach's sermons: I've been a member of WCG for 24 years. I've always been impressed with Mr Tkach's sermons before he died. Thanks to men like Earl Williams (and the internet), I would have eventually came to the same conclusions about the New Covenant, but it was Tkach who got my attention first.

25 Jan. Terre Haute releases correspondence: Jeff Osborn posted two letters to the Likeminds forum today. Both were addressed to Roy Holladay. The first is from Jim & Sarah Osborn - the Chairman of the Board and Treasurer. The second is from Jeff, as the Church Elder.

January 23, 2003

Roy Holladay, President
Cincinnati, Ohio


Several members of the Terre Haute congregation were present when United was formed. We found the first meeting place - and our basement housed the computer hook-ups for the start up of the Church until an office was established in
California and the computers were moved there.

The Terre Haute Board organized and pledged the first $10,000.00 toward the Home Office move to Cincinnati. We handled the pledges and donations until such time as the move was made. We have always been supportive.

The start up of United was to be a new beginning for the people of God. The Indianapolis Vision was to have a church where all persons were to be equal - one elder no better than another - and all people were welcome to worship with us in peace. The first Feast of Tabernacles held in 1995 was very uplifting!!

As time progressed and more ministers were added (most of whom didn't have the Indianapolis Vision) things gradually began to revert to the WWCG style of doing business that they were familiar with - control. People who preferred not to be affiliated with UCGia were told they were welcome to attend our services but were not considered a valid part of the congregation. "Other COG congregations are Christian, but not quite the same as UCGia members" is the attitude. Our
ministers weren't allowed to speak to other Christian groups nor were their ministers allowed to speak to UCGia groups except in a few special instances. This is not a Christian attitude.

Maybe because we were in on the beginning and knew exactly what was hoped for at that time, and because Terre Haute has tried to live by those early beginnings, we feel at this time that we need some space to live up to the Indianapolis Vision. We hope all other congregations, including those belonging to UCGia, will honor our feelings and will remain our friends. Everyone is welcome to worship with us in Terre Haute as long as they come in a spirit of peace.

Terre Haute decided on a three (3) month suspension from being affiliated with UCGia because of controlling policies and traditions that we feel are not supported by Scripture.

These policies and traditions tend to create a wall of separation among the various groups of the Body of Christ.

We believe it would be better to focus on what we have in common (our Basic Beliefs) than to allow less important differences to keep us apart.

We also believe that if the Servant Leadership Seminar presented by Howard Baker was taken to heart and practiced by the ministry in general, there could be significant reconciliation among many of God's children.

Jim & Sarah Osborn Chairman of the Board/Treasurer
United Church of God, Inc. Terre Haute, Indiana


January 13, 2003

Dear Roy,

I would like to thank you, and the Council of Elders, for allowing me to serve as an elder with UCGia for the last seven plus years. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with some exceptionally fine men in the start up and development of UCGia.

As you are probably aware, a quorum of the Board of Directors in Terre Haute have decided that the needs of Terre Haute would be best served, at this time, by removing our group from being directly associated with UCGia. It is our hope that, with time, we will still find ways that we will be able to support and work in cooperation with UCGia.

While there were some local issues that served as a catalyst for this decision, the founding leadership of our Congregation (which includes an elder, three deacons and two deaconesses) has grown increasingly concerned over the direction that UCGia has gone. I was personally concerned with the possible interference of Ministerial Services in Terre Haute. I feared that any decision short of withdrawing from UCGia would leave the door open for the kind of destructive intervention that I have consistently seen with Ministerial Services.

I would also like to thank you for the Pastoral guidance of Victor Kubik for the last seven years. I have repeatedly stated that Victor was the best possible UCGia Pastor for the Terre Haute Congregation. It is our hope that, as we move forward, you will see fit to allow Victor and other UCGia elders to accept invitations to come and speak in Terre Haute.

We do want to establish and maintain a positive working relationship with UCGia. Our Board has voted to continue to send contributions to UCGia to support the Work you are doing, and we have asked Victor to talk with us about how we can continue to work together. Our regular contributions to LifeNets will not change.

Roy, I realize that UCGia's current policies do not provide for me to continue to serve the Terre Haute Congregation under these circumstances and still retain my ministerial credentials with UCGia. I understand and respect any decisions you feel are necessary regarding my credentials with UCGia.

I believe that it is imperative for the various parts of the Body of Christ to learn how to interact and work together if we are going to allow God to do a truly great Work through us all.

I hope and pray that we will be able to look past our differences in administration - beyond the uniformity that some desire to the unity of God's Spirit - in order to serve God more completely.

In Christian Love,

Jeff Osborn

25 Jan.Mighty Joe - Prayer Warrior: As is his habit, Joe Tkach concludes his latest Pastors Update with these words:

Please remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight. Let's encourage everyone to join together in prayer.

What does that actually mean? The following anecdote was posted on a discussion forum a few days ago.

In the summer of 2000, if I remember correctly, JT, Dan Rogers, Ron Kelly and others did their ministerial seminar thing in Arkansas. I went and listened since they allow the plebes to attend. Joe spent 10 or 20 minutes talking about the prayer time he put in to make a decision on which used Buick to buy for the family auto.

An example of piety that doubtless inspired all present, but, as the writer added, I remember thinking he was not qualified to run this corporation if he could not buy a used auto without help from God.

Joe Senior. His hand was forced by Earl Williams. But who took the credit?

25 Jan.The Earl Williams Factor. Who really forced the WCG's hand over New Covenant teachings? The forgotten man in the equation was Earl Williams. ESN has uploaded a new paper this month called The Earl Williams Factor. Told in "testimony" style, it relates some of the events at a crucial period in the WCG from a member's point of view.

At the end of the article the author asks an obvious question: If Joseph W. Tkach agreed with Earl Williams about grace, then WHY isn't it ever mentioned in WCG's books and pamphlets today?? Seems strange, don't you think?

Indeed it is. For example Williams is ignored completely in Michael Feazell's book The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God. It seems a full and honest history of the church's "reformation" has yet to be written.

25 Jan. Invitation to a Snake-pit? Thought you might be interested to know that my husband & I received a card from a lady in the local WCG that I knew slightly years ago before leaving.  It was a Thinking of You card in which she invited us to an upcoming social at their church.  She enclosed a flyer about the event--a special film for church, and dinner. 

I have to assume this is a desperate attempt to lure people back into the clutches of the WCG, lest it wither up and die.  How truly pathetic that they are trying to "evangelize" me--I would imagine they know from my in-laws that I'm very involved in my own church, and would never in a million years think of going back there. 

I checked out their website to see if they mentioned this upcoming event, and about all they have to recommend themselves is the minister saying how he's sure people "will enjoy the warm fellowship" of that group.  I always found it about as inviting as a snake-pit!

25 Jan. Pack's Psychological Warfare: One of your readers wondered how Dave Pack's parents could have produced a son like him. Here's a clue from one of his sermons ("Be Encouraged When Discouraged," 2 August 1997): "My father taught me some things I actually had to repent of. He said, 'Look, if you're going to be a great athlete, and that's what you want to be,' he said, 'if you're going to be a great athlete you've got to beat people with your mind and then you can beat their body.' My dad taught me a thing that I came to call for lack of a better term psychological warfare. It was wrong; it was carnal; it was of this world; but it's what athletes have to do. Now there was a certain part of it that was right, and I'm very thankful for that aspect of my training as a child."

Karen Ray

24 Jan. Aussies stand firm over GN: The chairman of the UCG's Australian Council, Bill Eddington, has clarified some of the issues regarding the November-December Good News. Excerpts:

The reason for not distributing the magazine was that the National Council had serious reservations about statements made in the article entitled "Vibrant Health: The Crucial Biblical Keys", and in particular, Principle Four - Circumcision. Our objection is that physical circumcision is only commanded in the Bible in relation to the Abrahamic covenant. There is no mention in scripture that males should be circumcised for health reasons and it cannot be substantiated from the Bible as a crucial key to vibrant health. 

The National Council also believes the inclusion of circumcision as a crucial biblical key of health presents UCG as an organisation holding extremist views, and may hinder our efforts of reaching a wider audience with the good news of the Kingdom of God. We noted The Good News article in question was very quickly posted on the Internet under the general subject of circumcision. 

Perhaps a reference to male circumcision being considered by some as a health or hygiene issue would have been defensible, but to raise it to the level of a crucial biblical principle of health is not biblically correct. Frankly, the National Council was surprised that Principal Four got through the editing process and no one else picked up the incorrect interpretation. The Council is very pleased that as a result of its contact with the Council of Elders over the matter, the editorial review process has been expanded to allow for wider input. 

There is a cultural issue involved, but it was peripheral to the Council's decision. Circumcision is a much less culturally accepted practice in Australia than in some other countries. Perhaps the USA is one. It is not uncommon for doctors and the public to consider it a form of mutilation and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a practitioner who will carry out the procedure. In a culture which is much less overtly religious than the United States, being conscious of public sensitivities is wise...  

The Journal article also stated that we had reservations about some aspects of the articles dealing with Islam and Muslims. This is true. We did point out to the Council of Elders that there were generalisations in the articles that could be misconstrued in a different cultural setting or environment. Some mention that the salvation of God is inclusive of all humanity would have brought a more positive perspective to the articles and, indeed, emphasised the Kingdom of God as the solution to the problems of all mankind... 

It was implied in The Journal that the decision was not fully supported by the National Council. The vote was in fact 9-0, with one abstention. After much discussion, prayer and consideration, National Council members became convinced we would not be able to biblically defend some of the assertions made in the article.

24 Jan. Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: In his article that you recently linked to, Dave Pack states, "The things said about me pale when compared to the hideous things said about Mr. Armstrong both during and after his lifetime," and then asks, "Would any of you be tempted to surf the Internet to find these stories -- or to believe them after you did? Do you think God wants His servants doing this?" And God answers, Yes, I do want My servants doing this. I want them speaking often to one another, discerning who is serving Me and who is not serving Me (Mal. 3:16-18). I want them watching for wolves who come in sheep's clothing claiming they're doing a wonderful work, when they're actually working iniquity (Matt. 7:15-23). I want them rebelling against a man who assumes control of their souls, spends their money, dupes them, gives himself airs, and flies in their face, all the while bragging he's doing the same work as the early apostles (2 Cor. 11:2-4, RSV; 2 Cor. 11:19-20, Moffatt; 2 Cor. 11:12-13, NCV). I want them accepting accusations against elders from two or three witnesses, and publicly rebuking those elders who are sinning (1 Tim. 5:19-21). And I want them identifying egomaniacs who retaliate against the brethren with malicious words and disfellowshipment, and to be looking for men with good reputations instead (3 John 1:9-12).

Karen Ray

MD: Karen Ray's website can be found at 

23 Jan. Garner Ted "Cultic": All those letters to WorldNetDaily seem to have paid off. One finally broke through and was published in the letters section. Which just goes to show that speaking out can be effective. Here's the letter.

I usually enjoy the commentary pieces by the various personalities that you post on WND. But I have to take strong exception to your choice of giving space to Garner Ted Armstrong's piece called "United States of America – a timid giant?" I can understand how you were impressed by his writing skills. I, too, was very impressed by him starting about 40 years ago. Garner Ted is a fluent and convincing speaker and writer. I should know, as I listened to his radio broadcast and church sermons from 1961 to 1978 or so. … He did indeed exude charisma and could wield a convincing tongue. …

The only problem with posting his writings, as you may someday find out, is that the theme that underlies all that emanates from his vocal chords and pen is the theme of British Israelism (the U.S. and Britain, etc., are actually the Israel of the Bible) and old-covenant legalism. Give Garner Ted enough column inches and he will eventually get around to revealing his real cultic underpinnings.

The real danger of giving Garner Ted further nationwide free exposure in WND is that he will gain undeserved credibility and possibly will also gain followers from your readership. I can speak from experience that he has no real insights to offer the reader, only false prophesies and the chains of legalism (mandatory observance of Sabbaths, tithes, unclean meats, etc.). He and before him his deceased father, Herbert W., have been teaching the same old gospel of the U.S. coming under captivity to the Germans since 1934; the only escape being to turn to his cultic teachings.

The article of his that you had on WND recently was just his first step in showing the audience how God will no longer bless the U.S. because of their sins, which include Saturday Sabbath breaking and not keeping the Jewish holy days, etc. Hopefully, this is not something you want to expose the reader to on an ongoing basis. Give GTA enough rope and he will eventually reveal his real motives, or else just use WND to try to garner (no pun intended) more interest in his church and errant teachings.

The word is (from some of the various Church of God websites) that Garner Ted and his church are rejoicing in increased hits on their website and inquiries into how more of what GTA writes can be obtained as a result of his article on WND. Whoa Nellie, but I feel sorry for those people! It took me 30 years to extricate myself from his teachings!

Please consider giving your readership a bit of a warning about where becoming enthused about GTA just might lead them.

Bill Lenhart

23 Jan. A Call to Openness: I am a member in UCG, but found out about the problem with John Jewell from outside sources.  At services this past Sabbath, I went to the deacons/elders and asked what they knew of this.  They were unaware of the situation.  It was mentioned during announcements, but I now know to keep information like this to myself at services and not speak of it until formal announcements are made (of course I would only go to church officers so as not to be spreading possible rumors).  I still have not seen a letter concerning this.

[The writer quoted yesterday] makes the statement that "I think the majority of those that stayed with UCG keep quite informed as to what is going on."  From my experience, the only way they could stay informed is from outside sources, unless they have personal contacts with the home office.  I had also inquired about the situation with the church in Terre Haute, IN, but they knew nothing of this.  Also, a good example of obscurity is seen in their many "Council of Elders" reports.  When reporting on vital information such as changes in teachings or Biblical understanding, they state that a paper was presented on this subject; these council members voted for it, these voted against it.   Excuse me for being nosey, but I'd like to see the paper.

It seems that with what happened with WCG and how most of the membership was kept uniformed until it was too late, UCG leadership would be more sensitive to keeping the members informed.  Personally, each time I find out something on my own and see the reluctance of the leadership to make it known, [it] pushes me closer and closer to leaving UCG.  

This is the main concern I have with UCG, the reluctance to make their actions known. Another recent example is the Study Paper on "Born Again".  Why do those outside of UCG have access to information like this before the members?  From what I understand, UCG has since edited the original paper and issued a second version, but I am unable to find any members (even our own minister) who has seen either copy.  The reluctance of some of the members to show interest in the actions of the church leaders, may have something to do with this.  I try to keep up with all of their publications and make inquiries when I see any changes in teaching.  When I make mention of this to other members, they seem to be totally oblivious to it all.  I wonder how many members actually read the booklets and other publications of their own church.

If this is posted on your site, maybe others will see and feel the need to request that UCG leaders be more open.  They have recently made "some" of the study papers available on their site, but of course the one on "Born Again" is omitted.  

Please understand why I feel the need to remain anonymous concerning this e-mail.
Signed -  A concerned UCG member

23 Jan.Dave's diatribes: I knew Dave Pack's parents back in the mid-70's, after they had relocated from Ohio to North Carolina to open a health food store in Greensboro.  They were a marvelous, encouraging, happy couple, full of positive vibes and concern for others.

Reading their son Dave's diatribes, and in particular his latest one on "believing obvious lies", makes me wonder how such a lovely couple as Mr. and Mrs. Pack could have produced such a... son ...  Best regards to you, and thanks for the continuous updates on the site!

23 Jan. Touched a nerve: I was wondering if [you'd seen the Pack article.] ... Someone has touched a nerve.

23 Jan. Squiggy's Thunder: Wow.  Just read Dave Pack's thunderous letter regarding attacks on him and the RCG.  You know, I never heard a thing about Dave's character.  In fact, he's not even on the radar screen.  He has no visibility, yet speaks as if he is heading up some huge, high profile organization.  It's kind of reminiscent of Lenny and Squiggy, two characters on the old Laverne and Shirley TV program, who would make up these authoritative sounding ad agencies of which they were supposedly officers, just to impress people.  And, using Dave's logic, I guess we should all discount all the terrible, slanderous, mistruths which have been circulated about GTA all these years!  Must be Satanic lies! ...

22 Jan. The Unflappable Brits: From a posting to a UCG list.

Clyde Kilough's letter was sent to all the membership in the UK prior to last Sabbath. In our church everyone at services had already received a copy, so it wasn't necessary to actually have it read, but mention was made in the announcements, plus extra copies available of that letter and the joint letter from the Chairman & President (which was a shorter version that went to the 'rest of the world' outside the UK).

After the problems of 1998 in UK with David Hulme I think the majority of those that stayed with UCG keep quite informed as to what is going on. The atmosphere was generally one of relief and happiness that it's all over, mixed with sadness that it was necessary to end this way.

I should point out we don't actually have a split here. John Jewell was not disfellowshipped, and is at liberty to attend. Hopefully he will do just that, and there will be no split - someone who loses power doesn't HAVE to start a new church - it's not compulsory! Admittedly past track records are not very good, but occasionally there are good examples of Christian character coming first, and no breakaway occurring. I hope and pray that this will be the case here, and that sense will prevail.

22 Jan. Pack of lies? (Part 1): If you scroll down to 23 December you'll find AW quotes a posting Thomas Munson made on a PCG forum concerning Dave Pack and his Restored Church of God. Is it our imagination or could Pack be referring to that very item in a recent rant on his site? 

We'd love to quote a few relevant sections, but what could we possibly leave out? This is vintage Pack. Satan is attacking the RCG by assassinating his character. The accusations are "OUTRAGEOUS." Hideous things have been said online about Mr. Armstrong [unfortunately all true.] What should poor Dave do, open the RCG books and come clean? Or maybe he should post a photograph of his home so everyone can see that it isn't a palatial mansion? [We think they're both excellent ideas, but suspect Dave is merely in a rhetorical mood.] The Satan-inspired reports come from liars, rumormongers, talebearers and false witnesses. God uses things like this to sift out those not totally committed to following Big Dave without question. If you pay attention to Internet items like these the devil has defeated you with heinous lies! Yadda yadda yadda. 

We're pleased to provide the following link so AW readers can enjoy for themselves Dave's cogent, sensitive and considered remarks

22 Jan. Pack of lies? (Part 2): And while we've got the heavy duty rubber gloves on, perhaps we could mention that Dave has launched a new magazine to promote his message. Called, with stunning originality, The Real Truth: A Magazine Restoring Plain Understanding, it seems at first glance an ambitious project. But the Pack cult has been less than keen to send out "hard copy" of their literature in the past, preferring enquiring minds to choose the much cheaper alternative of downloading from "the Internet cesspool." It seems this may be the strategy with the new publication too.

22 Jan. Bacchiocchi beware! The Whistler returns today with the first of his columns for the new year. This time the heat is turned up on that perennial chestnut, the Sabbath versus Sunday issue

21 Jan. Joey Gets a Gong: The tension is rising. It's awards season. First the Golden Globes and now the “Outstanding Church/Denomination Ministry Award.” Yes, the Worldwide Church of God is to be honored this week with a prestigious award from the Christian Stewardship Association.

A perusal of the CSA website indicates that the purpose of this organization isn't so much about acknowledging wise and ethical stewardship by church denominations (imagine one of those going to the WCG!)  Nope, CSA's focus is fundraising, and it teaches preachers (for a price, of course) how to squeeze extra bucks from the faithful flock. 

And CSA itself must have made a mint from the WCG in recent times. The church is listed as a corporate member, and WCG personnel figure prominently among the individual members listed on the site. Does this mean the esteemed presentation at this week's conference is more of a "good customer" perk? You'd think a nice electric pencil sharpener would've been sufficient.

And one has to wonder, with the WCG's income continuing to nosedive, just how useful all that expensive advice from CSA could possibly be. Once Pastor General Joe has the award securely locked away in a display cabinet, the next wise move may be to enquire whether there's some kind of money-back guarantee.

21 Jan.A Gang of One: There may be some folk out there who wouldn't be surprised to learn that Steve Dalton is indeed related to the infamous Dalton Brothers of Wild West fame! Recently Steve kindly agreed to be interviewed for The Missing Dimension. Steve has had two major research papers published on ESN, one dealing with Herbert Armstrong's alcohol abuse, another with Loma Armstrong's health problems (these are no longer available). He was also instrumental in bringing the testimonies of Suzanne and Wiley Black to a wider audience. The interview is now online.

21 Jan. Fair Coverage: I find your site MOST INTERESTING. You do an excellent job in covering the WCG and its related spin-offs and issues. As a journalist, I  have some basis for judging matters like these and find you do an excellent job. You also give fair coverage to those with whom you disagree and have no obvious liking (philosophically) for. 

21 Jan. GTA on WND: The following is my reply to a letter that appeared in AW recently. I was one of (hopefully) many who objected to WND running GTA's material.

"1. Why should Mr. Dalton 'take great offence'? Isn't WND free to use whomever it wants? And aren't readers free to read or ignore columnists as they choose?"

Yes, readers are free to read or ignore columnists as they choose -- and they are also free to complain to WND for using the works of the likes of GTA. WND is free to ignore such complaints if it wishes.

"2. So who truly is a 'bona fide expert'? One reads and hears many
pontificating pundits who may know less or more than Ted. Hey, we're all entitled to an opinion -- and I would imagine that includes Ted."

Yes, and it includes Bill Clinton, Jimmy Swaggart, Saddam Hussein, and everybody else who has an opinion. (By the way, it also includes Mr. Dalton.) 
GTA's "expertise" in world affairs has produced a number of false predictions in the past. With his "expertise" in theology, he has badly misrepresented some of the beliefs of mainline churches. Yet... he continues to write and preach "authoritatively" on these matters. To give everyone equal status under the "pontificating pundits" label is simply ridiculous. In my opinion, for whatever it's worth, someone who knows GTA's history OUGHT to alert WND to the facts about the man.

"3. What possible connection to Ted's expertise on world politics or lack thereof does the masseuse video have? Didn't Bill Clinton engage in hanky-panky with Monica -- yet no-one questioned his credentials on world politics."

A man's morality says a lot about his theology, and GTA's theology is interwoven with his views of world events. Does an evil tree bring forth good fruit?

"4. Back 30 years or more ago, who would have predicted the demise of the Soviet Union?"

A lot of folks did -- but not the way it actually happened. GTA did not predict that the Soviet Union would end the way it did. He had no idea that a militarily strong USA would have anything to do with it, since he was claiming decades ago that the "pride of our power" had been broken, and that "America had won its last war." Back in the late '70s or early '80s he predicted that a nuclear war, World War III, would occur by 1985. He bet "both arms, both legs, lands and properties" that it would happen. He has publicly claimed that Hal Lindsey plagiarized his (GTA's) teaching on a coming European union. (Of course, prophecy preachers were teaching that view back in the 1930s, if not before. HWA undoubtedly got it from them!) By the way, GTA is now saying that we are at the very beginning of the "great tribulation." We'll see.

"Mr. Dalton should focus on the arguments in the article and disagree with those rather than engage in an ad hominem attack."

What you call an "attack" is what I call information WND should have. GTA has hurt a lot of people. But now he's gloating over being recognized by WND. To his followers, this is just another "sign" that GTA really is the special end-time "watchman" he claims to be. To them, God has opened yet another door before His servant. They are cheering over the fact that WND's use of GTA's column has resulted in a large number of web site hits and literature requests... Will what they find help WND's credibility? ... If I were Joseph Farah, I would be grateful to Mr. Dalton for expressing his concerns.

Terre Haute church building

20 Jan. Terre Haute Again: The Terre Haute ex-UCG congregation is expected to release a "press packet" shortly on recent events. The wide ranging interest in what has happened in a small Indiana church (attendance around 30) seems to have caught many of those involved by surprise. Apart from issues of governance and ownership of the congregation's facilities, the pastoral style of minister Victor Kubik seems to have been an issue for some. The spokesman for the group appears to be Jeff Osborn.

20 Jan. Meanwhile, back in Pasadena: The following item was published on JLF yesterday. The preamble states: This is from a friend who I think makes an obvious point regarding [WCG pastor Dennis] Pelley's reasoning. This friend is ex WCG and attends a Sunday church.

Is it just me or is there something wrong with this picture ... A few weeks ago Dennis Pelley in his efforts to convince the Pasadena congregation to change its worship custom from Saturday to Sunday had stated that since he has been pastor in Pasadena not one new person has joined the church (in fact there is a report saying that for the 2 and ¾ years that he has been there, the net loss has been 70 people). The Saturday worship custom is, in his opinion, a major handicap in growing the church.

Pastor Pelley appears to reason that since they have to relocate... church services, why not change the day of worship as well? So at his direction they appear to have found what he calls a dream facility:

"It’s only 10 years old, has a beautiful sanctuary, large parking lot, spacious classrooms, and a huge fellowship hall that opens up to an outdoor patio with dozens of picnic tables and a full basketball court. Everything is handicap accessible. It is a dream facility." (Pasadena congregation web page)

Best yet it is available on Sunday. Note how Pelley puts it in his Jan. 4th, 2003 sermon:

"A nicer facility and serving our families with children are two good reasons to move to Central Filipino, but the most important reason is to be able to move to Sunday worship for the potential of future growth. We can do Gospel-work easier in a society where Sunday morning is the expected time and day of worship. A church has to be attractive and accessible today, in a culture that is becoming more secular. If you bring Jesus to someone, he or she will naturally want to attend church with you – the natural next best step."

Now here is what I find hilariously dysfunctional. This dream facility is ... and wait for it ... straight from the lips of Pastor Pelley advocate for Sunday worship as the most important factor for church growth ...

"We have found a wonderful facility, that I feel Christ is leading us to – Central Filipino 7th Day Adventist Church, one mile west of here."

Yes, this "wonderful" "dream" facility is brought to you by an obviously successful church that worships on Saturday!?!?

Yes, Pastor Pelley, like you I believe Jesus did lead you there. The question though is what is He trying to tell you?

19 Jan.Gerry, tell us it isn't true! From the PCG Yahoo board.

I just heard from a reliable source that the PCG offered the WCG 2.65 million to settle the lawsuit out of court. The offer was just made and no response from the WCG yet.

This comment on JLF: That amount would only pay for 3 months expenses. Would Tkach hold out for more ...

19 Jan. Terre Haute: (The following report has been pieced together from various sources.) The now independent Terre Haute UCG congregation was apparently a separately incorporated entity, allowing members much greater freedom than most local UCG churches. They operated under their own council, which was presumably elected directly by the members (a very ordinary arrangement in many churches, but a radical arrangement in the COG tradition.) How they managed to stay within UCG with that structure (the Big Sandy congregation was thrown out for doing the same thing) is a mystery, especially considering Victor Kubik's role as a Council of Elders member. Terre Haute also owned its own building - perhaps the last congregation to do so. The UCG policy is that such assets must be deeded to the church corporation.

The vote to disassociate was reportedly 8 in favor, two against. The majority of members  support the decision. The board will review its decision in three months, and will continue to financially support UCG ministries and Lifenets.

19 Jan. Slow demise: I feel we are just watching the slow demise of the entire Armstrongite cult.  There is not one single WCG related group that is bringing in members.  These churches, including WCG, are surviving only upon the old time members, and their children.  No new people are arriving with children, so the aging of the church continues to climb higher.  As the so called ministers in the various splinter cults age and die off, we will most likely see them all fold up.

19 Jan. In Search of the Astonias: You make a statement that the info on this website has been checked for accuracy from several independent sources. Well, I would like to know what those sources are, as the man who wrote the article about how the cog's don't do any good deeds (empathize mine [?]) is poppycock. He is not even in one of the organizations, and yet seems to know what is or isn't going on! Well, I am in one and I will tell you the facts that we have done several things even of late to help people in need. We sent containers of food, clothing, blankets to Malawi, the astonias, and the earthquake victims in South America. (I really wish people would get their facts straight before opening mouth) I think that says that we do something to helps the needy/others, along with letting our beliefs be know[n]. And as for the person who wrote the article about Herbert W. Armstrong being one of the [most?] selfish person [people?] of [in?] the world, [he?] doesn't have a clue what he is talking about! Or let me re-phase that. Where does he/she get that or what do they base that slanderous statement on!!

MD: Let's be clear, the first beef you have is over a letter [16 Jan.], not an article, and while it's nice to hear that there may be exceptions (presumably you're referring to Lifenets, which seems to do a good job), the exceptions are probably rare enough to prove the rule. I'm unclear by what you mean by "the astonias" (perhaps you mean Estonia?). Your parting shot refers to a statement by Jack Kessler, who knew HWA personally (and I suspect does have a clue or two on the matter) and certainly had a right to make that assessment.

19 Jan.WND "very strange": I think that WND will not care about all the negative emails they get in regards to GTA.  I have long suspected that the WND has a very strange religious and fascistic bent.  They have several strange ultra-right wing columnists and commentators.  They also have some very good ones, but I suspect that they (WND) are in to this "clash of the civilizations" war movement that of course is ruling the Bush administration.

MD: Several AW readers have contacted WND, and Steve Dalton has had a lengthy exchange with WND official Joseph Farah.

19 Jan. Ted again: Reading the "news analysis" in World Net Daily reminded me of something I realized years ago about Garner Ted Armstrong, compared with other Church of God groups. GTA's preaching and writing is often like a perimeter highway around a city.  He goes around and around the main points, never really reaching firm conclusions. Other COG's are like the direct highway THROUGH town.  They get right to the main point, which is what you're after.  I realized this in the mid-80's.  From what I read now, things hasn't changed.

18 Jan. A Messy Affair: Separate letters from John Jewell and Clyde Kilough reveal festering problems in the British branch of UCG. Jewell's January 5 letter was addressed to church members and led to the January 15 Kilough response, which was sent to "members and friends" of the UCG in Britain. Both letters are available on The Missing Dimension.

18 Jan. UCG removes Jewell: The following letter has been released by the UCG President and Chairman. 

Dear Brethren,

We have all witnessed occasions in our history in the Church where matters have arisen that were not at all pleasant to communicate to everyone. However, we have also seen that in a vacuum of no information, rumor and confusion quickly fill the void. In the end, especially when some situations involve high-profile matters that affect the whole Church, it is our responsibility to keep you informed, and such is the intent of this letter.

For quite some time now, some of our brethren and the National Council in the British Isles have been unsuccessfully trying to work through several issues, but the situation has grown increasingly difficult. The Council of Elders has been aware of these matters and has tried in every way, from collective formal meetings to informal personal talks, to help bring about resolution and reconciliation.

We do not consider it scriptural, nor in anyone’s best interest, to go into discussing the details of these problems in this letter. There is no need to unnecessarily add to anyone’s hurt. However, because part of this issue involves a Council of Elders member, and because of the nature of some recent actions and their impact on the Church as an organization, it is important that you hear straight from the Council the following:

On Monday, January 13, 2003, the Council revoked the ministerial credentials of John Jewell and removed him from the General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God, an International Association. Consequently, as defined in our governing documents, he is also no longer a member of the Council of Elders. Mr. Jewell was not removed as a member of the Church.

As you may well imagine, the Council did not take this action lightly, and we are very saddened by this and all of the events that led to it. We also deeply empathize with the brethren, the ministry and the members of the National Council in the United Kingdom. Such circumstances are stressful and often emotionally charged. We pray that everyone remembers that "the testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1:3), but also to "let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (verse 4).

The process for replacing a vacant Council spot is defined in UCGIA Bylaw article 8.4.3, "Filling Vacancies," which says it "shall be filled from the list of runners-up in the final ballot at the preceding meeting of the General Conference...." At the May 2002 Annual Meeting, Joel Meeker was the runner-up to Mr. Jewell, and will serve in his place until the next meeting in May 2003 when the GCE must ratify his appointment. If so confirmed, he will serve the remaining two years of Mr. Jewell’s term. The Council has communicated with the Church members in the British Isles in greater detail, but we again express to them here that our concern and prayers are with them. We have confidence that the UCG—British Isles ministry and the National Council will carry out their respective ecclesiastical and Charity functions in unity and teamwork, and in the safety and wisdom provided by a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6). Resolution, righteous judgment and reconciliation demand the most from us spiritually, but God does provide the most for us through His Spirit.

In difficult times Jesus Christ’s words in John 14:27 serve as a stabilizing reminder. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you," He said. "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." We certainly pray for His peace to be upon all of our brethren around the world, and ask that you join us in heartfelt prayers for all concerned in the United Kingdom.

In Christ’s service, with kind regards

18 Jan. Terre Haute UCG - In or Out? On January 4 members of the UCG congregation in Terre Haute, Indiana, were due to vote on their continued association with the United Church of God IA.  Terre Haute is pastored by high profile minister Victor Kubik, who we understand is currently in Europe.  Kubik also pastors the Lafayette, Indiana UCG.

While we haven't heard the result of the Terre Haute decision, indications from Internet forums are that the congregation has split or gone independent (or both.) The Terre Haute UCG website appears to have been pulled.

18 Jan.WND drives fresh business Ted's way: Garner Ted Armstrong, once described by Ambassador Report as "America's Playboy Preacher", is already reaping benefits from his exposure on WND. These comments from Chris Cumming at "Tedquarters."

As many of you know, Mr. Armstrong had a slightly edited form of his latest Word from Mr. Armstrong article posted as news analysis at WorldNetDaily. This has resulted in a huge response... What a day!!! We had 1,589 visitors. A little short of the record (1,681) but outstanding nonetheless. This is a 67% increase over the normal daily average of 950 we have been experiencing.

2.5 times the normal amount of megabytes of information was downloaded on Tuesday or 586 megabytes of information. That is equivalent to 11,720 pages of information. The normal number of pages per day is 4,700. Spike indeed!!

The number of e-mails hitting this office yesterday were up some 2.5 times with significant increases in those asking if we have a magazine or newsletter and those asking for a church near them. Here are some comments we received...

"Do you have a news letter? If so, I would like to subscribe. Thank you."--J. D. in California

"Do you have a magazine?" --E.P in Florida

"... I’m glad that I ran across his article on WorldNetDaily or I probably would not have know about his web site.”—D.M. in Indiana

Thank you WorldNetDaily for giving such unwarranted exposure to an otherwise mercifully fading talent. 

17 Jan. British Boss Resigns.  According to sources today it seems that John Jewell, director of the United Church of God in Great Britain has resigned. See our earlier report, What's Up in the British UCG? posted January 15.

17 Jan. Ted's column OK: Regarding Steve Dalton's email to WND [AW Jan. 16]... I am not affiliated with Ted, nor do I desire to be, but all these fallacies call out for a response.

1. Why should Mr. Dalton "take great offence"? Isn't WND free to use whomever it wants? And aren't readers free to read or ignore columnists as they choose?

2. So who truly is a "bona fide expert"? One reads and hears many pontificating pundits who may know less or more than Ted. Hey, we're all entitled to an opinion -- and I would imagine that includes Ted.

3. What possible connection to Ted's expertise on world politics or lack thereof does the masseuse video have? Didn't Bill Clinton engage in hanky-panky with Monica -- yet no-one questioned his credentials on world politics.

4. Back 30 years or more ago, who would have predicted the demise of the Soviet Union?

Mr. Dalton should focus on the arguments in the article and disagree with those rather than engage in an ad hominem attack.

16 Jan. AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH! Good grief! WorldNetDaily seems to have found a new columnist. Yes, an old war horse has been co-opted to share his "deep insight" with WND readers. Trotting into the arena is none other than Garner Ted Armstrong with a piece called United States of America - A Timid Giant. WND calls Ted "an evangelist and political commentator based in Tyler, Texas." 

WCG researcher Steve Dalton has already responded with an email to WND. He writes in part: I take great offence that Garner Ted Armstrong was allowed to post a commentary on your site. He's not a bona fide expert on world politics and... was caught on videotape, about five or six years ago, committing sexual assault upon a masseuse in Tyler, Texas.

In politics, he has made predictions that Germany, by the 1970's, would again be a Nazi superpower that would lead a United States of Europe, that would attack and destroy the USA. Needless to say, Teddy's prophecies never came to pass!

At this stage it seems WND hasn't had the guts to publish Steve's letter. If you'd like to express an opinion about WND's choice of GTA as a columnist, the address is

16 Jan. Wisconsin Synod Lutherans Rebut Herb: Back in 1984 Herbert W. Armstrong was still firmly planted on the pontifical throne in Pasadena.  In that year Don Thompson presented a paper to a Lutheran pastoral conference sub-titled A Modern False Prophet and his Cult. While it's probably now of historical value only (to borrow a phrase the WCG is currently using for Herb's writings), it still provides a fascinating perspective on how conservative Christians (and the Wisconsin Synod is a very conservative body) used to regard WCG. Perhaps it's also an apt "tribute" to HWA on this, the 17th anniversary of his death. Note: this is a PDF document.

16 Jan. Copyright extension to spike more HWA material? The US Supreme Court decision to uphold longer copyright protection may impact on a number of fledgling COGs which have so far legally republished Herb's 1945 edition of US and Britain in Prophecy along with other material. The copyright period will now be 70 years after the death of the creator. Works owned by corporations will be protected for 95 years. Some websites owned by individuals who have republished HWA material online may also be affected.

16 Jan. Outreach isn't Inreach: I am an ex-Worldwider, and now attend a local church up the road. I still have many friends in different COG's, but, to tell you the truth, I had to leave WCG as the baggage was just too much, and I needed to grow spiritually...

Many COG's claim to have outreach programs, which amount to a website and a magazine. Any outreach programs actually only reach their own congregation or people. I see no COG site, official or not, or even any messages posted by any COG member that boast (because I have noted they like boasting) about such things like "We have helped x amount of homeless people this year", "we donated x amount of money to a children's home" , "We put money together and built an old age home for poor pensioners". Jesus tells us not to boast about these things, but still, if you boast about how doctrinally correct you are, why not boast about all the good things you do?

One fact that all the COG's overlook is that Jesus came to earth to save sinners, not to save the already saved. So any outreach, any preaching, in fact the whole system should be geared to the non-Christian, the non-churchgoer (not meaning the non-COG-churchgoer).

If you say you accept Jesus as your savior, then best you try and imitate him. Ask yourself, what did Jesus spend more time on preaching and demonstrating, Love for all humans, or doctrine? If you say love to all, and I mean ALL humans, have a look again at what you do. If you say doctrine, go back, read your Bible and get a grip...

15 Jan. What's Up in the British UCG? The following posting appeared on the UCG Yahoo group yesterday, and was forwarded to AW by Dateline Pasadena.

What is happening over there in the UK in UCG?

John Schroeder received a letter of suspension in this morning's post! (Jan 13 2003) I understand the Feeneys have been kicked out again.

A Emergency National Council Meeting was held on 12th Jan 2003.

The meeting: because of (legal) doubts over whether or not the Constitutional requirement of 4 day's notice had actually been issued, the emergency National Council meeting could not take place previously (the Council members present anticipated that it would shortly be re-arranged).

An informal discussion took place between those present, which comprised four National Council members, two ministers and several other members of the Church as a Charity. This was NOT a meeting (either legal or illegal) of the National Council.

Tina Jewell attended the meeting and at its conclusion she handed letters from her husband to National Council members David Payne, Bryan Ellams and Jan Schroeder, suspending them from Church membership.

This has all been reported to UCGIA's Council of Elders.

Judging from the last incident where UCG HQ had to clean up the mess, the Cincinnati bosses will be mortified. On the other hand, it may take the heat off the recalcitrant Aussies.

And they call this the united Church of God?

15 Jan. Time Flies When You're Having Fun: Out on the far fringes of COGdom is Warren Zehrung's Sabbath Church of God. In a recent letter to the faithful few Warren wonders:

Brethren, has Jesus Christ delayed His coming?  Years ago, when we were first called, did any of us expect that we would get to the year 2003 before Christ's return?  Why has this age gone on for so much longer than we expected?  Why have we had to see the Church dwindle down to next to nothing?  There must be a reason. What has God been accomplishing during these seventeen years - the period between Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong's death and now?

However, like most Church of God leaders, Warren doesn't ask a question unless he has a handy answer at the ready.

We didn't know it back then, but God knew there were many among us who had not put Him and His Way first.  Many were coasting or were never really with the program.  Jesus told His disciples that there would be an end-time sorting out... Once Mr. Armstrong died, false doctrines and false ministers that had been lurking beneath the surface appeared, and most members failed to hold fast.  They failed their test.  But those of us who held fast were given additional tests - new obstacles to face. 

Yup, brethren, it's all your fault! Christianity is a test, and everyone flunked the finals - except for the "hold fast" brigade (although which particular "hold fast" faction is a matter of debate... Rod's? Gerry's? Warren's?) Mind you, even they haven't got their results back yet, and the big guy with the red pencil has a reputation for really tough marking. Oh what a joyful thing Warren's version of Christianity is!

Warren does, however, remind us that it has indeed been 17 years since chancellor, editor, noted philanthropist, End Time Apostle, Pastor General and Ambassador (without portfolio) for World Peace Herbert W. Armstrong went to his eternal reward. The anniversary of his demise, January 16, is this week. 

15 Jan. Point and Counterpoint: The last Whistler column on the topic of atheism provoked some discussion. Jim Baldwin, who was interviewed on this site last year, has taken up the cudgels, and an edited version of his response, The Straw Man, is now online. The next Whistler column should be available next week.

15 Jan. A Satisfied Parishioner: I was a member of Dennis Diehl's congregation back in the 1980s, and I have to say that he is the only minister I ever had that did me no harm. Indeed, he literally saved my life on one occasion...

I never, ever heard Dennis preach dogmatically or in a controlling manner... I appreciate his article on forgiveness. I feel that same need to move on. I am relieved that he is no longer affiliated with the WCG, but I wish that he were not so hard on himself. After all, marriages fail, people make mistakes, and all of our souls are learning along this great path on the earth plane. Love is the only key to peace and truth. Love transcends all boundaries, all languages, all dimensions, and all pain.

While Dennis says he forgives himself, I believe I know enough about him to know that he is still working on that. And if he reads this, I hope he knows that he made a difference in my life. He was there for me when no one else was...

14 Jan. Auditorium-free zone: The WCG's website that covers the campus sale also now shows a design for the West Campus property minus Auditorium [cf. Ambassador development, Jan. 13].

14 Jan. Dateline Pasadena Presents - Strange but True WCG links: Pour yourself a drink and settle back to enjoy these surprising WCG related sites.

1.Herb a hit with Islamic fundamentalists: Yes, the End Time Apostle has Muslim fans. An Islamic website quotes the late Apostle in an attempt to educate Christians about December 25.

2. Japanese Espionage, Herb, Gotoh and Gerald Waterhouse: "This article exposes the Japanese infiltration of the Worldwide Church of God during the tenure of Herbert Armstrong and shows that no organization is immune to the prying eyes of the Japanese!"  Uh, okay...

3. GTA's One Thousand Year Reich: Commentary on Garner Ted's Nazi vision of the Millennium. The quotes are legitimate. 

Also from the Dateline files, the Conversion Story of Dan Severino, a WCG member and AC graduate (1974) who has since joined the Catholic church.

14 Jan. Breaking Free: In your Dec. 28 post in Ambassador Watch "Majake David Majake" says, "HWA did not ruin their lives, they did." Oh, is that so? In other words, the abuser/con artist/rapist goes free and carries no responsibility whatsoever. Just blame it all on the victims--telling them to keep their mouths shut--because they "should have known better." Words can kill or heal. HWA's words led to death and destruction and (as you mentioned) are still affecting thousands of lives today in a detrimental manner through the splinter groups that keep him alive.

Ezek 34:1-10 has much to say about "false shepherds" ruling with "force and cruelty." Even Jer. 50:6 says: "their shepherds have caused them to go astray,"

One of the main ways former members can break free of HWA's hold is by writing, journaling and talking about it, undoing the lies, understanding what they were involved in, and then realizing that with support, encouragement and validation they are free to re-build a new life for themselves today.

Exit & Support Network

13 Jan. Ambassador development: The WPRA has updated its site with diagrams of the proposed Ambassador development. Notice anything missing? Yep, there's one has no auditorium! The caption reads: West Campus scheme "B" - demolish the Ambassador Auditorium and build 735 housing units (approximately 22.4 units per acre). (via Dateline Pasadena)

13 Jan. A Flurry of Titles: Like an eastern potentate, Gerry "Six Pack" Flurry loves titles. Bob Thiel has culled the following magisterial titles - all referring to Gerry by Gerry - from a copy of Royal Vision (July/August 2000.)

that prophet, the last voice, a third voice, the physical head of God's work, the last and final voice, a prophet, God's man, one that was prophesied by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, this watchman, end-time watchman, a prophet to the nations, Christ's man, a breaker, a modern type of Micah, this king, this counselor, the breaker whom God has chosen, God's watchman, prophesied by Habakkuk, a lawgiver, His lawgiver, God's leader, an end-time Malachi-type prophet, the one who fulfills Zechariah's role in the end-time, ruler over His household, a type of Elisha God's true prophet, the voice, that voice, type of Joel, a preacher of righteousness, this man (of God), an end-time Obadiah, a warrior for God, the one God actually wants us to focus on, and only a messenger

Bob continues: "Gerald Flurry also states, "THERE IS A SPIRITUAL THRONE OF DAVID IN GOD'S CHURCH TODAY" (p.5), and essentially implies he sits on it; he also says "I have to make 'kingly' decisions at times" (p.12). When commenting about other COGs, Gerald Flurry wrote, "Almost every book or booklet which I have written is filled with prophecy...Do they even have a smattering of the abundance of new revelation which God has rained down on His people through me?" (p.15). "I have the authority of of God's watchman--THAT PROPHET...God sets ONE WATCHMAN at a time" (p.17). He also writes, "This verse indicates a NEW COMMISSION for the PCG...This trumpet-blowing commission is directed towards me personally" (p.18)."

13 Jan. The Herbert Mentality: Why is the UCGiA so concerned about the issue of circumcision? Are they running out of ideas? Why this old WCG 50's material? What is the purpose of it? The vast majority of their male readers are probably circumcised, and have their male children circumcised because of custom. What does being circumcised have to do with good health anyhow? I guess it can "breathe" a little better. I think the old "Herbert" mentality is rearing it's ugly head again. No pun intended.

13 Jan. GTA back in the box: People were running up to me at church today and saying Gavin was announcing that The Journal misidentified GTA as an Internationalite. [see Journal site updated,  Jan. 8.] This is just to let you know that, even though Trey is not around to repair the page, I think I figured it out and changed International to Intercontinental. A poor schmuck can't get with anything nowadays. Thanks.

Dixon Cartwright

MD: LOL. My ears have been burning all morning.

12 Jan. UCG sends mixed messages on circumcision: Exactly what is the United Church of God trying to tell its members about circumcision? The November-December Good News featured an article extolling the practice as a "crucial Biblical key" to "vibrant health." That was enough to set off alarm bells as far away as Australia, where the magazine was pulled (see Out of Oz in AW33.) This item from the letters section of the January-February issue.

Circumcision: A biblical key to health?

The article "Vibrant Health: The Crucial Biblical Keys" in the November-December issue listed circumcision as one of these keys. Yet there is no mention in the Scriptures that males should be circumcised for health reasons. Perhaps a reference to male circumcision being considered by some as a health or hygiene issue would have been defensible, but to raise it to the level of a crucial biblical principle of health is biblically incorrect.

A.C., Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Which seems to sum up the concern quite reasonably. The GN reply follows.

We acknowledge that we overstated the case by listing circumcision as a crucial biblical principle of health. At the same time, there is a body of scientific and medical evidence on the benefits of male circumcision as a health issue.

More mutilated than overstated, we'd have thought. The GN writer then goes on to list several websites that support (but none that oppose) that position. Hardly a gracious concession!

12 Jan. Don't Ask Greg! Hi, I'm an avid reader of your site since finding it. I am a former wcg minister's wife and wcg member not in good standing (I don't contribute financially). I still attend occasionally to see some of the people there. I was intrigued when you said Greg Albrecht's PTM site was revamped. It sure was. I sent him a question (see below) and he sent me an answer... He didn't appreciate my questions, and I understand that and could accept that... but to end it with 'May God bless you' seemed so hypocritical after in essence telling I had no right to question him. It was like; 'Who do you think you are to question ME; I don't have to answer to you and oh, by the way, God Bless'.

Does he still attend? Did he get a generous year-end bonus? Don't ask Greg!

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Thursday, January 09, 2003 3:48 PM
Subject: ASK GREG!

Greg, are you still a minister for the wcg? Do you attend wcg services?
Are you being paid a salary by the wcg? I just want the plain truth,

From: "Executive Director"
Subject: RE: ASK GREG!
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2003 16:17:13 -0800

Forgive me, but it would seem that you presume upon the service being offered by PTM to ask personal questions. As the Executive Director of PTM I offer to freely answer questions about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and do so as my time allows. PTM does not offer this service as a discussion of my personal or family life. I therefore fail to see the validity of your question to the gospel of Jesus Christ or to the purpose and mission of PTM.
May God bless you...
in Christ
Greg Albrecht

11 Jan. Treybig on Xmas. It's not only Garner Ted Armstrong who has been "educating" the public about the supposed origins of Christmas [see AW33.] The latest United News has a front page story about minister David Treybig's "Christmas Eve" interview on a Cincinnati radio station. Treybig was featured for two hours during which he "eloquently explained the pagan origins of Christmas, and was also able to touch on Halloween and Easter. In addition, he covered God's Holy Day plan..."

Andrew McGowan, associate professor of early Christian history at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, may disagree with some of Treybig's statements however. He writes in the December Bible Review:

The most loudly touted theory about the origins of the Christmas date(s) is that it was borrowed from pagan celebrations. The Romans had their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December; barbarian peoples of northern and western Europe kept holidays at similar times. To top it off, in 274 C.E., the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on December 25. Christmas, the argument goes, is really a spin-off from these pagan solar festivals. According to this theory, early Christians deliberately chose these dates to encourage the spread of Christmas and Christianity throughout the Roman world: If Christmas looked like a pagan holiday, more pagans would be open to both the holiday and the God whose birth it celebrated.

Despite its popularity today, this theory of Christmas’s origins has its problems. It is not found in any ancient Christian writings, for one thing. Christian authors of the time do note a connection between the solstice and Jesus’ birth: The church father Ambrose (c. 339-397), for example, described Christ as the true sun, who outshone the fallen gods of the old order. But early Christian writers never hint at any recent calendrical engineering; they clearly don’t think the date was chosen by the church. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential sign, as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan gods.

It’s not until the 12th century that we find the first suggestion that Jesus’ birth celebration was deliberately set at the time of pagan feasts...

More recent studies have shown that many of the holiday’s modern trappings do reflect pagan customs borrowed much later, as Christianity expanded into northern and western Europe. The Christmas tree, for example, has been linked with late medieval druidic practices. This has only encouraged modern audiences to assume that the date, too, must be pagan.

There are problems with this popular theory, however, as many scholars recognize. Most significantly, the first mention of a date for Christmas (c. 200) and the earliest celebrations that we know about (c. 250-300) come in a period when Christians were not borrowing heavily from pagan traditions of such an obvious character...

There is another way to account for the origins of Christmas on December 25: Strange as it may seem, the key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover...

Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus died was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.

This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25], which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered.” Based on this, the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice.

The article, How December 25 Became Christmas, is available online, as is the Treybig interview.

10 Jan. PTM revamp: It seems Joe Tkach isn't the only WCG executive with a droll sense of humor. Greg Albrecht wants to "give hope to those burned out by religion"! Isnt that kinda like making the owner of the neighborhood bar president of the local AA chapter? A posting from Anne on JLF:

Greg Albrecht and his now "independent?" Plain Truth Ministries has started the year off with a eye-catching, revamped website. Their Mission Statement heralds their commitment to helping those infected by the virus of legalism and giving renewed hope to those "burned out" by religion.

I can personally see where WCG members/ministers can testify to their history in a legalistic and oft times abusive denomination but can they truly place themselves in the role of a qualified counsellor?

"Mission Statement: Leading people to authentic Christianity with the main, plain and sensible teachings of the Bible. We:

* Keep a clear focus on Jesus Christ
* Insist on core Christian doctrines
* Point out the pitfalls and potholes into which Christians can fall
* Warn against claims of spiritual superiority within the body of Christ
* Combat the deadly virus of legalism
* Give hope to those burned out by religion"

As for pointing out "pitfalls and potholes," we wonder, has Greg ever read Matthew 15:14?

10 Jan. UCG Study Papers available: The United Church of God is making their doctrinal papers available online. This adds a welcome dimension of transparency. 

10 Jan. Art Mokarow: From Bob Thiel's website.

Yesterday, spent about an hour speaking with former WCG minister Art Mokarow. He first went to AC in the 1950s and left WCG in the late 1970s. According to him, he disappeared [for] 20 years. He now has what appears to be a part-time, non-COG job, plus he speaks on Church topics. He also reported he is working on a COG-related book.

09 Jan. Signs of the Times: From a Pasadena source:

Central Filipino SDA church

Dennis Pelley [WCG Pasadena pastor] mentioned Saturday that Central Filipino SDA Church will cost $6,000 a month for 4 hours each week. He got them to drop the price from $8,000.  With the change to Sunday services Pelley is expecting to loose 75 members. The kicker will be when he sees that these 75 people are his tithe payers! WCG as a corporation now is batting less than 50%: that's the percentage of members making donations.

Could we be reading that right? Apparently so. According to our source "only 50% and less, of the WCG membership [now] contributes to the church in tithes or offerings." Now there's a vote of confidence in the Tkach administration!

Also from a Pasadena correspondent:

It is now January. WCG's history over the years has been to give all ministers and certain individuals in Pasadena year-end bonuses. Given that they just cut 10% off the 'discretionary retirement' monies for elderly ex-employees, I wonder how they can sleep at night by accepting the bonuses? And how can they accept bonuses when most Pasadena employees have received nothing in years?

We wonder who ended up on Santa's list for HQ bonuses. Are sect executives like Greg Albrecht and Bernie Schnippert included? What about Joe Tkach himself? And if so, will they set an example by refusing to accept the extra money in light of the dire situation in the church? Wouldn't that be the Christian thing to do - rather than snatch back dollars from retired employees who are already struggling to make ends meet?

09 Jan. Who's Who? Lost track of which split Raymond Cole founded? Curious about Wade Cox? What about Robert Roenspies? Then the Who's Who Digest of the Wild World of Religion may be just what you're looking for. Pam Dewey has thumbnail profiles on a variety of colorful religious characters, including a number with WCG connections. The page is still under development, but there's a lot on offer. We can't wait till Pam gets around to Rod Meredith!

Also worth checking is the Religious Lingo Lexicon on the same site. 

09 Jan. A question of Guilt: I read with great interest the two recent guest columns from Mr. Dennis Diehl, former pastor in the Worldwide Church of God... when Mr. Diehl states that he rejects a belief system based upon guilt... I believe him.  I would also note that those who feel guilty are generally the quickest to reject it.  I do find myself wondering, though, just what kind of belief system one might adopt that would provide no guilt, no sense of wrongdoing for the great harm done to those who trusted you? ...

B. Randall Stevens

08 Jan. Journal site updated: The Journal website has been updated with details of the December 31 edition. Links had yet to be added when the site was checked earlier today. Among features mentioned is one which, we hope, is tongue in cheek.

Sandra-Mae Robinson, appearing for the second time as an essayist on these pages, writes "The Church Oughtn't to Be Democratic: A Defense of Hierarchy." Her article is based on her award-winning presentation at the Feast of Tabernacles observance in September in Jamaica.

The online intro also notes that " interviewed Church of God International evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong..." [see AW 33, GTA - the Christmas expert] proving that even The Journal can drop the occasional clanger. GTA is in fact now associated with the Intercontinental Church of God.

08 Jan. Listening: I'll take a stab at why they didn't listen [PR Offensive Offends, Jan. 1].  It's because all they care about is money.  The WCG is more money focused than some of the greediest corporations on earth.  It has always been about money for them.  That was the focus under HWA, and it is the focus under Tkach.  Changing the WCG didn't work out very well monetarily, so plan B is to make as much as they can off of the real estate and the Auditorium.  The inscription in the foyer of the Auditorium should truthfully read: "Dedicated to the acquisition of money and power." [originally posted on MD Yahoo group] 

8 Jan. Kiss-butts: I wouldn't make too much of what the young people in LCG say. I have been involved with teens in the YOU for many years, and I can tell you that most of them will say what they think the "minister" wants to hear. They learn quickly from parental examples. They become little kiss-butts because their mommies and daddies are for the most part big kiss-butts.

06 Jan. Surreal COG Web Site: (via Dateline Pasadena.) Worth checking out is a new article by Gary Scott on COG culture - or at least the LCG variety. Christmas in Armstrong-land looks at views expressed by young people on the LCG "Living Youth Web" message board.

This is the reality of Christmas in Armstrong-land. Pressing dilemmas such as, “Is it wrong to accept [Christmas presents from friends at school]?” and concerns about the fact that “you can reword the word ‘Santa’ and make, ‘Satan?’” Forget the silly rantings of Church of God leaders — these spontaneous postings show the world of Armstrongism as it really is: a mixture of self-righteousness, illogical worries, and a basic misunderstanding of where things derive their meaning.

06 Jan. "Density Church" on Tyre and Tribes: An emerging feature on the New Zealand religious scene is "Destiny Church" and "Pastor Brian Tamaki," a fast talking evangelist who has cloned American televangelism for the local market. Now, in the spirit of Landover Baptist Church, there's a satire site called "Density Church", and some features might make former WCG members wince. For example, for all those who read HWA's "Proof of the Bible" there's a question about those pesky prophecies about Tyre. And for the cognoscenti who know about the thorny issue of the 10 Lost Tribes, the good pastor provides an inspiring and edifying solution. And don't leave the site without checking out Pastor Brian's campaign to bring back slavery as part of a return to biblical morality!

06 Jan. Confusing nicknames: I was a member of the WCG of 20 years, and agree with nearly everything written herein. However, I would like to ask that using the many "nick names" for so many of those you refer to is very confusing at times.  Some of us who are new to the site have not learned these many different nick names and it makes it very difficult to determine who you are speaking about frequently... Also, you publish many photos of individuals without showing their name below the photo.  I mention this for the same reasons as stated above.  Please give this some consideration. Keep up the good work.. I am a weekly reader.

05 Jan. The Sunday Push - In Den's Own Words: The following excerpts are from an email sent to a select few in advance of the announcement to the Pasadena congregation.

We have come to see in the last 2-3 years that a morning worship time is best, especially for families with children and for the elderly.   Right now our church is a strong, healthy church, with gifted ministry leaders in all departments.  We have a wonderful, friendly, generous and loving church and we want to do all we can to keep this congregation intact, rather than split it into two smaller (and weaker) churches - one Saturday and one Sunday.  That does not seem like a wise decision.  The better option is to keep our present church intact, regardless of the day we choose to meet on.  An even split could work if our church were larger - 400 or 500 in attendance, but we are not.    

Since a growing majority of our members have expressed their desire to switch to Sunday, we will recommend Central Filipino, because it is the only facility which offers the Sunday option with a good morning worship time.  If we don't take this opportunity now, it may be several years before we get a similar opportunity again.    

A nicer facility and serving our families with children are two good reasons to move to Central Filipino, but the most important reason is to be able to move to Sunday worship for the potential of future growth.  If we move to Sunday, we can do Gospel-work easier in a society where Sunday morning is the expected time and day of worship.  A church has to be attractive and accessible today, in a culture that is rapidly becoming more secular.  A good fisherman will find a place to fish where there are the most fish.    

I expect 90% plus of the congregation to follow us to Sunday worship; I hope and pray that 100% will.  If there are those who will not consider Sunday worship for any reason, I will offer them a house church in my home, as well as give them other options with our neighboring WCG congregations.   

Let's see. A wonderful friendly church with a desire to grow. But also a church that is willing to decimate its own membership (10% loss) in the process. And does Den really think a move to Sunday services will bring in hordes of new believers?  

A Pasadena reader comments: The sad part is reading where he wants those that still hold to Saturday to come and worship in his home.  Why would they?  Why go and meet in a persons home that believes something the opposite of you? 

Why indeed!

05 Jan. UCG stats released: In a letter from the President and Chairman, UCG released some comparative statistics that seem to indicate positive growth trends.


Dec 2001

Dec 2002

% Increase

U.S. Donors




U.S. Coworkers




U.S. Baptisms




U.S. Bible Study Course Subscribers




U.S. BSC Graduates on the 12-month Tape Program




Individual GN Subscribers (worldwide)




United News Subscribers (worldwide)




World News and Prophecy Subscribers (worldwide)




You have to wonder, though, why no actual membership and/or attendance figures are given, and whether the rate of baptisms is exceeded by those dropping off the edges. The letter identifies three areas of concern.

05 Jan. Benny's blessings: Those of us who have been through the "Ambassador Experience" would have found many parallels in the gutsy expose of  Californian televangelist, Benny Hinn, last week on the NBC network.  The biggest similarity to the WCG was the 3 million dollar "parsonage" (mansion) overlooking the Pacific being prepared for Mr. Hinn.  Other WCG parallels were his top of the line Mercedes, a team of bodyguards protecting Mr. Hinn from the prying journalist etc.

04 Jan. Pelley chooses Central Filipino and Sunday: Pasadena WCG members will have to wait till tomorrow (US time) when Den will announce it to the congregation, but AW readers can know now. Dennis Pelley is recommending that his congregation relocate to Filipino Seventh-day Adventist Church, and that means SUNDAY services as this SDA congregation will not hire their facilities out on their Sabbath. 

Pelley is expected to do a lengthy spiel on unity tomorrow, and talk about the need to keep the Pasadena church intact, which is his way of denying traditionalists a Saturday option. Den is banking on the bulk of the congregation meekly acquiescing, but must be aware that his decision will mean many - we've heard a 10% figure mooted - decide to terminate their affiliation.

04 Jan. Canadian WCG budget: From Gary Moore, Regional Director, and reported in the January 1 Ministerial Update.

As you are no doubt aware, 2003 marks the beginning of a new financial model for the WCG Canada. Once the denominational levy is factored in (10% for denominational services, 2.5% for assistance for other WCG Canada congregations), the rest of the funds donated by the membership will be fully available for the congregational budget.

The implication of this is that there will be a much greater need for each pastor to take responsibility for the congregation's budget. Any income that you do not spend will belong to the congregation, and will be available for future use. However, and this is critical to understand, any shortfall (deficit) will also belong to the congregation, and must be dealt with through adjustments during the course of the year. Any small deficit that might exist at the end of the year will be a charge against the next year's budget. We simply have no other funding available to which to "bill" such costs.

This means you will need to more carefully monitor the budget than ever before. The Insights web page is or course now available to help you keep track of this process. If you are falling short, you must take responsibility to make "rolling cuts" during the course of the year to insure that the yearend budget is balanced. Of course the other side of that coin is that if you are consistently tracking above budget, you could plan (cautiously) some extra spending during the year.

We will be monitoring the whole process quarterly, and will be in touch to help if your budget is moving significantly out of alignment. This would include making whatever decisions are necessary to help ensure expenditures and income pace each other in a way that is consistent with the approved budget for the year. We are all gifted differently, and we realize some of us are stronger at managing a budget than others. Don't hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Further, it is extremely important to work with your advisory council, elders and deacons, and the congregation. Unless the leadership and the congregation take "ownership" of the budget, there is a much lower chance of success.

As to the budgets submitted to your district superintendent, please assume that if you haven't received a phone call or e-mail by the time you read this, that we have accepted your budget for 2003, and if you anticipated a deficit, that the 2-1/2% levy has covered that projected deficit.

The national office has the same responsibility to live on its anticipated income as well. As a result, the national office has had to make cuts to balance the budget out here. We will be announcing the details as soon as they are finalized.

Commenting on JLF, Anne writes: 

Tough road ahead for some Canadian churches and perhaps more cut backs for the ministers, some of whom are already on half salary. Many congregations are small and spread out. Canadian finances are not as readily available as those in the USA... Northern Light has never listed even the bare bones of how the church is doing financially. They have only said they are coming in almost on target for their budget but there were rolling cut backs during that time.

04 Jan. Chomsky: I enjoyed reading your interview with Bill Fairchild.  But I just wanted to correct one statement you made - he is not the only ex-WCG person who reads Noam Chomsky.  I think there are few of us out here.  It is too bad more don't.  It would help more to see the dangers of authoritarianism - whether it be in religion, politics or economics.


03 Jan. Turning the Tables on an Abusive Pastor: The Exit and Support Network has recently posted an account by an ex-member that tells how he successfully dealt with a case of ministerial bullying. An excerpt.

When the weekend came, my pastor told me we had to get together right away for the work that needed to be done. I then told him a letter from my attorney would be written and sent to him the following week and that things could wait till he received it. The pastor was immediately visibly shaken and shocked at that news. I have never come close to seeing such a rapid transformation from a person feeling he was in complete power to so suddenly shaken as though all power had immediately been abruptly taken from him. The tables had suddenly completely turned. In his desperation he told me, "You cannot win this one." I responded, "OK, let's go for it and see. I have nothing to lose." He then expressed fear that Headquarters would get this information and threatened me with, "It will then be out of our hands." I responded that I had no problem with that because I suspected my attorney would notify HQ of the legal ramifications of the ongoing mistreatment anyway. We would not intend to confine it into any small corner somewhere.

It was at that moment that I saw I had suddenly come into a very powerful position with him and NOTHING had yet been done. He begged that I call my attorney and stop the letter from coming. I calmly explained that the way he had run over me for so long had come to an end as of "yesterday" and not "tomorrow." I made it very clear it would never again be tolerated to the least extent. He agreed and asked that we get together in the next day or so and discuss it. I responded that I would not meet with him unless my attorney approved of it for me because, as far as I was concerned, it had become a legal matter. I did call my attorney and went over the event with him and with several guideline statements on his part it was agreed I would let the pastor come over early in the week. I was told how to respond if he became abusive and I would then end the meeting and events would take their course.

During that visit I had never been treated so kindly by a WCG minister during the almost thirty years I spent in it.

03 Jan. Hulme show hits Europe: The "Hulmerous" COG (UCG splinter group COG-AIC) takes its message to a European audience with the airing of its TV special "Cheating God Out of Christianity" across the continent on CNBC Europe. The sponsored show debuted a year ago in the US on the Discovery Network, with Europe getting a first look on December 22. The program is scheduled again for January 12.

02 Jan. Wonderful World Tomorrow. With searing originally the recently downsized Church of God - Established In Modesto has launched a new website and republished a 1947 Radio Church of God booklet.

The Church of God eim., is pleased to announce the launch of a new web site, The Church of God, which also sponsors, has unveiled this new site as part of its continuing effort to publicly proclaim the Good News of the soon coming Kingdom of God.

The launch of this new internet effort corresponds with the publishing of an updated version of the 1947 edition of Herbert Armstrong's work, "The United States and Britain in Prophecy", by the Church. This booklet, as well as other literature, bible studies, and articles, are offered via the The focus of the new web site, however, is the radio program, "The Wonderful World Tomorrow with Steven LeBlanc", of which a new show will be aired each week. In addition to the web site the show can be heard every Sunday on radio station KFAQ 1170, Tulsa Oklahoma, at 10:30 AM, and in Northern California on KCBC 770, at 11:00 AM.

With the launch of the new web site, COG eim hopes to expand its efforts to publicly preach the Gospel Message in the coming year.

Coming out of an internal crisis COG-EIM seems to be following the tried and true formula of finding an external focus to distract the brethren from uncomfortable realities within and disillusionment. Much easier than dealing to the real issues. The strategy was described in the 1956 book When Prophecy Fails

02 Jan. MD site stats: The Missing Dimension registered over 318,400 page views in 2002. The busiest month was April (32,123), the slowest February (21,297.) Most viewed page was AW. Back in 2001 the site attracted 103,978 page views between May (when the site was launched) and December (MD stats from

02 Jan. The Joy of Flurrydom: A la WCG, Flurry has his young people working on landscaping, they are called "crews".  The mail dept. needed to "borrow" some of these crews to get out the mail when it miraculously rained, freeing up all the crews to work in the "Post office" getting all the backlog of mail out. I don't suppose these "crews" are paid or have any choice about whether they will work for the church or not.  If they want to work outside, does the church take a percentage of their income over and above the tithes to excuse them from working on the "crews".  Flurry has it made, he has this acreage and free labor in the persons of his members' children to do the work he would otherwise be paying to have done.

Anyone who doesn't want to work for Flurry, do they get excommunicated from the church?  Do their parents get called on the carpet for the attitude of their children?  I thought I was being paranoid when I wrote about this some weeks back but it is worse than I thought, Flurry is already availing himself of free labor holding the parents' good standing hostage for the labor of the kids.  Free labor is going to build his fiefdom and those who stay will be Flurry's servants, always with the carrot of the "place of safety" held just beyond their noses.

You have to wonder how people can be so willingly hoodwinked.  I guess they believe he is "that prophet" for sure and those are the ones he wanted to keep, those who are afraid to think for themselves or look for the truth.  They are so afraid of losing their "ticket" to the place of safety, they fear Flurry more than God. 


02 Jan. Aw shucks!  ...may I thank you for putting up the AW in the first place. And thank you for the Missing Dimension and for the Yahoo group. What you do is not merely effort and service but also an act of courage.

02 Jan.No bashing (unless required): I recently read your AMBASSADOR WATCH section and noticed you had mentioned my Yahoo Forum in it [Dec.27].  It is called: Armstrongism_Flurryism...  I am the group owner and moderator and my REAL name is Charles J. Sifter.

I am xwcg/pcg and do not "bash" (unless required) either HWA or GRF, nor do I glorify them! I try to make some sense of where we all have been and try to show that NOT EVERYTHING those two guys taught [were] lies, but neither was everything they taught the truth! There is a middle ground and it is that ground upon which I seek to STAND. 

We are very new still, but, in time I seek to make certain points plain... I am an "independent sabbatarian Christian" and have no agenda, but to provide a "haven" of sorts for abused "Sheeple" and to GO TO THE BIBLE to see just what is so. 

We have some "NEW" WCG people, some who have interest because of "family" and some who are like me, but now, sadly (IMHO) they tend to lean in an agnostic direction... I tolerate any mind-set (unless blatantly & openly hostile) and seek to direct them to the WORD OF GOD (the bible) and not any splinter, denomination or sect. It was my pleasure to write this to you all. 

Charles J. Sifter

01 Jan. PCG Singles in Edmond: It's what we've all been waiting for, right? Photos from the PCG Singles weekend held just before Chris... (mumble, mumble) in Edmond! Nice to see PCG "putting the fun back into fundamentalism" with ice-skating, a progressive dinner, sports and something called a "topics brunch." And what a nice looking bunch of folk. Quite normal really! Check out the website. On a related theme, the MD page on the PCG has just been updated.

01 Jan. PR offensive offends: The Pasadena Star News published two letters on the Ambassador sale December 30. It seems Bernie's "listening phase" has gone down a treat!  

No One Listened: Earlier this week, the Worldwide Church of God unveiled a proposal to build a massive new housing project on the former Ambassador College campus. The Star-News quoted a Church official as saying that the plan "reflects the community's views.' This is absurd.

The Church originally wanted to sell the property to developer Legacy Partners. Remember them? They wanted to build 1,700 new housing units on the Ambassador campus. But Pasadena residents overwhelmingly rejected that proposal, and sent Legacy packing back to Orange County.

After Legacy withdrew from the project, the Church embarked on a "listening phase" to supposedly gather community input. The Church and its new developer, SheaHomes, sent out thousands of mailers, met with numerous civic groups, and hosted several large community meetings.

What was the result of the "listening phase?' A proposal to build up to 1,525 housing units, with densities on the West Campus in excess of 22 units per acre! Worse yet, the Church and SheaHomes are now threatening to demolish the Ambassador Auditorium unless Pasadena finds a way to pay the Church for it. What an awful choice for residents: Pay the Church for the Auditorium, or accept more units on the West Campus.

Pasadena residents would welcome an Ambassador project that fits the existing density and scale of our residential neighborhoods. Why didn't the Church and SheaHomes listen?  Elizabeth Scott, Pasadena

Legacy in new clothes? On Dec. 17, the Worldwide Church of God and SheaHomes hosted an open house to present their concept for the development of the Ambassador College campus. They want to build up to 1,525 housing units on the combined Ambassador College East and west campus only about 10 percent less than the former Legacy Project. A Church official has been quoted as saying that the plan "maintains the neighborhood character' and "reflects the community's views.' I disagree.

Under one of their plans, the Church and SheaHomes would demolish the Ambassador Auditorium and build 735 housing units on the West Campus over 22 units per acre. But existing single-family homes near the West Campus are only about three or four units per acre. Far from "maintaining the neighborhood character,' the Church and SheaHomes are proposing to build a massive new housing project in the middle of an established, low-density neighborhood.

Nor does their high-density proposal "reflect the community's views.' As reported on Dec. 18, in the Pasadena Star-News, the West Pasadena Residents' Association recently conducted a survey of local residents and neighborhood leaders citywide. Ninety-four percent of respondents said that density on the West campus should be "similar' or "less' than the surrounding neighborhood. Only 6 percent said a development on the West Campus should be "more dense' than the surrounding neighborhood.

Was the Church and SheaHomes' recently-concluded "Listening Phase' just another slick campaign to fool residents into accepting Another Legacy Project?  Joan Hearst, Pasadena

01 Jan. Another Board Bites the Dust: The BAAtlefield Board (no, that's not a typo) closed as the new year began. According to the moderator:

This board will be closing this evening. I thought this board would bring healing to individuals that have been involved with the WCG or it’s splinters in the past. I know when I left the WCG for several months I was very upset and needed a place to vent. I have moved on and now attend with a Methodist church. I do not feel that this board is accomplishing the goal that I have in mind... I will lock it this evening, and then will erase the board after a couple of days...  David Littleton  

31 Dec. Nickels' "Positive" Newsletter: AW extends a warm fraternal welcome to a new online publication, Church of God News. Subtitled Positive News of the Churches of God, the January edition is now available. It's probably fair to say that CGN will have a different audience to AW (nobody here but us heretics.) If you enjoy Bob Thiel's COGwriter site (Bob has also contributed to issue 1), you'll doubtless appreciate this new publication from Richard Nickels which promises to avoid nasty contentious issues. The first issue even extends a hand of fellowship to "that Prophet", Gerry Flurry, by plugging his fine magazine, literature and TV show!

31 Dec. The Will to Believe: Worth reading is a brief article by Vern Bullough called The Will to Believe Keeps the Worldwide Church of God Afloat, available on (wait for it...) the website of the Council for Secular Humanism.

Armstrong’s teachings were essentially based upon what religious scholars call the "Sabbatarian Adventist" tradition; that is, Armstrong held Saturday to be holy and anticipated the almost immediate second coming of Jesus. Self-educated, he regarded himself as God’s chosen apostle-messenger for these last days. He assumed absolute authority within his church, ordaining and appointing all its ministers. Armstrong believed in pacifism and British-Israelism (the doctrine that Britain and the United States had been settled by the two lost tribes of Israel), and was opposed to medical intervention because only God could cure and divorce and remarriage. He subscribed to what can only be called a smorgasbord of other beliefs. Many of Armstrong’s biblical interpretations were mistranslations from the original Hebrew scriptures or misunderstanding of the English translations.

Well, Vern got that part right!

The shedding of almost every doctrine the Worldwide Church of God once clung to is a story almost without parallel in American religious history. Although on a much smaller scale, institutionally it could be compared to the pope renouncing the Petrine succession because it was based on myth and misinterpretation (which religious scholars say it is), or the Mormons saying that Joseph Smith did not translate the Book of Mormon.

The death of its leader, the radical change in doctrine, and the financial mess that ensued disheartened believers, broke up families, and most importantly drastically curtailed church income (based on tithing). Ambassador College was closed, the campus was sold, and the surviving organization was moved to Texas. In the words of one of the current leaders, J. Michael Feazell, the church liberated itself and abandoned its legalistic observance of non- essential doctrines to concentrate on the importance of a Christian’s standing with God.

Whether a somewhat less drastic reformation/cleansing would have lessened the trauma to the church is uncertain. Still, even with the radical dismantling and discarding of most of the doctrine taught by Armstrong, the Worldwide Church of God survives in a much reduced form in a loose alliance of congregations. That a church could essentially abandon all of its basic doctrines after the death of its founder, publicly at least imply that its founder was a fraud, and still manage to retain even a modicum of its believers is indicative of just how strong is the will to believe for vast numbers of people.

The full article is also published in the Fall 2002 issue of Free Inquiry

31 Dec. Mailbag Missing? Good work on the site, plus all the info you get is amazing! ... So where's the 'mailbag' section??

MD: The mailbag archives are still there but all new correspondence will only appear on the main AW page.

30 Dec. Rod's Anniversary Bash: From the pen of LCG's Dibar Apartian in the December 26 headquarters update.

On the Sabbath of December 21, 239 members of the Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Palm Springs congregations gathered in Orange County for a special Sabbath service marking the 10th anniversary of the renewal of God’s Work, and the 50th anniversary of Dr. Roderick C. Meredith’s ordination as an Evangelist in God’s Church...

Dr. Meredith then gave a sermon outlining the history of the Philadelphia era of God’s Church, and emphasizing the importance of remaining Philadelphian even in this Laodecian era. Stressing that we must not lose sight of the ‘big picture’—the carrying out of the Great Commission that Jesus Christ gave to His Church—he spoke movingly of God’s reward to those who endure until the end.

Following the service, Evangelist Richard Ames made a special presentation to Dr. Meredith—a mantel clock inscribed with Romans 10:15 and with the words: "In grateful recognition of Roderick C. Meredith’s 50 years of servant leadership as an Evangelist in God’s Church, restoring Apostolic Christianity around the world."

30 Dec. The Elusive Mr. Taylor: In your emag issue 31 you have a link to Robert Taylor and his web page, I want to contact Mr. Taylor about the website but I can't see any contact email address for the website or Taylor. Could you please help?

MD: try

30 Dec.Ron Dart - A Skeptic's View: Don't be fooled by Ron Dart's "Musings". He's an old player. Herbert taught him well. Right after he split from GTA, I asked him if he left because of GTA's sexual encounters at the parlor. He said that he didn't know anything about it. He said the reason he left was because he needed a rest. He was tired. But, he kept running with the ball and didn't miss a beat...

29 Dec. New look: No, it isn't your imagination, some things are different with AW beginning with this issue. The font has changed, and the look is decidedly more "minimalist" (which should also make it more printer-friendly.) Stories will be put up as they appear, not just weekly, and a completely new issue will appear each month. Mailbag items will now be right here too, not on a separate page; look for the envelope symbol.

The editorial material has also been rearranged. Everything is now listed on the new columns page, which links to the Whistler, guest writers and the editor's stuff (which now appears under the "Southern Exposure" heading.)

29 Dec. Dart's musings: Forwarded to AW from a reader of Ronald Dart's CEM board.

HWA was an advertising man. And when you are selling soap, you don't want to encourage the public to use some of yours [and] some of the other brand. You want them to toss out the other brand and use your brand exclusively. Advertising doesn't look for middle ground, it looks for dominance, exclusivity, brand loyalty.

Now I don't know how much of a role old habits played in HWA's evangelistic efforts, but I do know he looked for differentiation, and he did so adversarily--as an ad man naturally would. What he wanted were wedge issues--issues that could be used to drive a wedge between a person and his old church, so they could be attracted to the WCG. And he wanted exclusive use of the product. He didn't want you coming to church with him this week and going somewhere else next week.

The wedge issues are familiar: Born again, Heaven and hell, Sabbath and Sunday, Pagan Holidays, immortal soul, etc. But in typical ad man style, these were advanced with hyperbole and often taken too far in the attempt to differentiate. Other products (read denominations or churches) were demonized to complete the sale.

One of the by-products of this approach was a church that was long on hostility and short on tolerance. It has been fascinating to watch over the years as people departing the WCG for various reasons struggle with the old attitudes they don't even realize they have. I know I didn't. It took me years to get past the adversarial approach. You can probably track it in my writings for CGI.

This partly accounts for the stress that exists between recent graduates of the WCG and those of us in earlier classes--mine was the class of 78. Earlier graduates have become more tolerant, while later grads are still shedding the need for anti-whatever differentiation.

It also accounts for some ambivalence in the UCG which feels a need to maintain some level of differentiation, while becoming more tolerant. Some are finding it very difficult to relate to other Sabbatarian groups because they lose some of their identity in the process. Change is coming slowly, but it is sharply hindered by the need for organizational identity.

One wonders how this dynamic played into the Tkach revolution. Like the old ad man, they couldn't see any middle ground. It was either Armstrongism or mainstreamism and they knew the former was wrong, so the other must be right. No consideration seems to have been given to learning to back off the hard line approach, learn compassion, practice love and tolerance of human weakness.

29 Dec. Preacher Tammy: From JLF.

... "preacher Tammy [Tkach]", I understand, is quite the sermon-giver in various WCG church areas, wherever she is invited to speak. Not only that, but I am told it is now quite commonplace for women to give sermons and be worship leaders in their local WCGs. [Two women I know personally] are on the speaking AND worship-leading schedules while neither of their husbands participate. Of course, we are talkin' TINY "congregations" too, more like small groups, in fact. In both of these areas, there is a male pastor to sort of fill the role (in name only, pretty much...), but it is actually more the women who "run" these smaller churches. Very few children, too, if any. :)

28 Dec. A Trust Abused? From JLF: "Here is a personal post (with permission) from a former WCG elder now attending a mainstream Evangelical church."

"... Symbols are important and evoke a great deal of emotion. Why, because of what they mean, how they link us to our collective past and point us to our future together. The sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism are powerful demonstrations of the union of meaning, past and future.

This month I read that a symbol of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) is in jeopardy of being bull-dozed in order to maximize the sale value of the Ambassador Campus. That symbol is the Ambassador Auditorium that was built and dedicated to the “Glory of the Great God”.

Now, I’m sure that some will feel that the auditorium ought to come down for no other reason than that it was Herbert W. Armstrong’s pet project and a symbol of how he abused a trusting membership. Others may feel that it needs to come down in order to fund some noble enterprise of the WCG. I do not necessarily disagree.

Still I can’t help but think about how this particular building with its inscription expresses a faith in God that is quite remarkable.

I believe it was Rabbi A. J. Herschel who said, “God is greater than religion and faith is greater than dogma.” The people of the Worldwide Church of God believed in God. However ignorant that faith was it was faith. Regardless of how that faith was manipulated and abused in order to enrich a few individuals, it was still faith.

It was a faith that loved (some might say feared) God so much that they would give all up for God. Money (up to three tithes on their gross salary), careers, family or health were all placed on the altar of faith because they believed Jesus was the head of their church. The auditorium was made up of the best materials their money could buy. Why, because God was so important that He deserved their best. So they gave their best.

Their best is about to go under the wrecking ball and the bull-dozer. Why? What happened to destroy such a symbol of dynamic faith?

The Tkach administration was entrusted with the care of the auditorium and WCG assets. This same administration was entrusted by God with the more precious assets of the members’ faith. How have they managed to reduce both?

It doesn’t seem reasonable that a faith that was prepared to do and did so much would just disappear. The majority showed that they could accept changes of doctrine under Armstrong and Tkach Sr. Under Tkach Jr. there have been few if any doctrinal changes. So what happened?

In my opinion what happened was that Tkach Jr. was more interested in changing the way the membership expressed their faith than in nurturing their faith. I find it oddly appropriate that the Tkach administration may well preside over the physical wrecking of this symbol of faith “Dedicated to the glory of the Great God“."

28 Dec. It Just Isn't So: Bernie writes a testy letter to the Pasadena Weekly (via Dateline Pasadena.)

On behalf of the Worldwide Church of God and its 67,000 members, and the entire development team for the Ambassador Campus, I am writing to ensure that the Pasadena Weekly corrects its inaccurate cover title in the story "Affordable Housing? What's that? and "Ambassador excludes affordable housing units in housing plan" (Dec. 5).

Affordable housing has been a part of our planning process for the Ambassador campus from the outset.  The Dec. 5 story unfortunately left your readers with a very different and incorrect impression. Comments from uniformed critics were terribly wrong in their characterization of our planning process.

As I told your reporter, Judy Seckler, the Worldwide Church of God will be including affordable housing as a component of the Ambassador Plan.  I also  stated that, as the design process continues, we will determine the types of housing (ownership, rental, assisted living, affordable) to be included.  Those comments were left out of the story.

The church and its planning consultants are, obviously, quite aware of Pasadena's affordable housing shortage and the legal requirements on residential developments to provide such housing.  We have been in discussions for months on this topic.

Critics, and your reporter seem to have incorrectly assumed that because the church has not laid out a complete, final and detailed plan for affordable housing at this time that it never will.  But the church has not yet presented a complete, final and detailed plan for any aspect of the residential neighborhood at this point.  This is because there is much more work and planning still to be done.

As you know, our design process has included a massive community outreach effort.  This listening  phase has helped shape our ideas about many aspects of the plan, such as circulation, density and neighborhood character, as well as affordable housing.  We have discussed numerous ways to meet the needs of Pasadenans while also listening to ideas about the neighborhood's overall design.

So, let's be clear: An affordable housing component most certainly will be included in the Ambassador campus plan.  Anything reported to the contrary is just untrue.

Bernard W. Schnippert
Director of Finance & Planning
Chief Financial Officer

MD comment: whoa! 67,000? Where did that figure come from? And Bernie speaks for ALL of them? Is the guy delusional? Further comment from JLF.

[They] obviously forgot what [Joe] wrote in 1997. From Transformed by Truth, page 71 section "Membership and Financial Losses":

"By 1994 church attendance had slipped to 109,600 ... and then came the Christmas Eve service. In the year following that milestone message, attendance plummeted to 66,400 members, and by the time of this writing it had leveled off at around 58,000."

I saw the HQ website have it down to 60,000 then up to 67,000. The overseas HQ site in the UK had it at 50,000 at one time.

Alright I can't resist it ... Dennis Pelley isn't the only one who can't count. Ron Kelly posts a financial report without an income and expense statement. Incompetence, denial, or is it the old statistician's saying, "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure"?

28 Dec. Gerry loses in Canadian Court case: From the PCG Yahoo group.

Here's a link on the court findings relating to the latest round of the Canadian case. - click on BCSC 1703 Flurry v Fuller et al.

The judge set aside the 1997 will, the one that left the PCG with basically everything from the man's estate. They only get 20% per the terms of the 1993 will. Flurry has filed an appeal on this ruling, no big surprise there. According to what one of the family members named in the suit told me, the first judge would not let them present evidence that the church had used undue influence on their father, who had Alzheimer's when the 1997 will was written. They hope that the appeals court judge will allow this evidence to be presented.

28 Dec. Mourning like Babies? I first came into contact with Herbert W. Armstrong's writings in 1983 through the Plain Truth. I was 16 years old. I read the magazine because I needed to improve my English. I came into contact with the Church's minister in 1988. After the feast of that year I came home to find the copy of Plain Truth About Healing by [Tkach] Sr. I knew then that things were not going to be the same. But the following Armstrong's teachings carried me through those [times]:

- Don't believe me believe your Bible,

- Salvation is a personal matter. It is between you and God, and

- Follow me as I follow Christ, to name view.

From the letters and articles I read from your "news letter" I do sense anger from their authors. They claim to have freed themselves from HWA's snares, but every one writes about how HWA either nearly ruined their or his followers’ lives. That by itself shows that HWA still rules their thinking...  how come that their lives still revolve around this "high school dropout"!

Which part of HWA's teachings did they hold to? If they did hang on the ones I have mentioned here they should have realized that their lives and beliefs were theirs to control. But they willingly gave in to this "high school dropout".

HWA did not ruin their lives, they did. As for you the publishers he gave you something to publish. I wonder if he didn't do the things you claim he did what you could be doing today.

Let your audience stop mourning like babies and start living. As long as they keep on writing about HWA, he still controls their thinking and the greater part of their lives. I know many of those who once believed what they were taught by HWA and are today destroying their lives because they claim the "high school dropout" taught them to. What a power does this "high school dropout" have!

I still live by principles I learned from this "high school dropout". They have guided me through my career, my family life and my relationship with other people. I can assure you and your audience that I am into my tenth year of marriage. A successful one. I am not attending with any of the groups, but that doesn't make me to go all out lashing at those groups. I do respect their choice.

Let your audience stop mourning about how the "high school dropout" ruined their lives or the lives of their family member or friend, let them take charge of their lives and blame nobody but themselves if their lives take a plunge.

Majake David Majake (South Africa)

MD: Thank you David for your very forthright letter. Coming into contact with the church at the time you did (1988) you were fortunate to miss out on the more colorful aspects of church doctrine and history. You might like to read the 1974 TIME article to get a feel for "the good old days." In addition a couple of brief comments may be helpful. 

(1) When HWA said "Don't believe me believe your Bible" and "Follow me as I follow Christ" he never meant that as anything more than slogans to rouse the troops. Just ask a few of those who tried to take him literally! As for "Salvation is a personal matter..." you've obviously never had to deal with the "government of God!" These "principles" were merely a facade for public consumption, not actual practice.

(2) If Herb was just a faded memory, a blip on the religious radar that has mercifully passed, it would be ungracious (and unnecessary) to bother with the man. Unfortunately that isn't the case. Here's a quote from this site's home page which you may have missed.

Herbert Armstrong died in 1986. His church has "moved on." Isn't it all "ancient history"?

Armstrong is indeed dead, and possibly turning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken as the monuments he so carefully built crumble to dust. Ambassador College, the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, The World Tomorrow program, the free glossy Plain Truth magazine and doctrines like British Israelism, the God Family, Sabbaths and Holy Days... ashes under the feet of his inheritors.

But Herbert Armstrong still exercises a baneful influence over the lives of many thousands. Sects like Meredith's Living Church of God and Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God continue to promote the late "Apostle", publishing his writings and claiming his authority. And the church he founded, while doctrinally changed, retains the same oppressive "top down" leadership structure.

Sadly, this inability to face the hidden history of the church and its founder has meant that many members and ex-members have been easy prey for manipulative ministers and religious hucksters, both from within and without the tradition. To those seeking to cope with the fallout, this web site is dedicated.

28 Dec. Dump Truck Onyx. We may soon be seeing the day when all that Rose Onyx is hauled away in a dump truck... Let Flurry haul it away for his new AC!

28 Dec. Gotoh - Herb's mysterious helper: Hi Gavin (late entry in response to 12-1 AW)... I am very interested in why Fischer said anything about a takeover of the WCG by some "secret world government."  The reason being that I was one of those WCG gullibles who devoted myself to the "great man" for years and though I am aware of Bobby's mental state - I am also aware that he was used and then tossed by the upper echelon of the WCG hierarchical money-grubbers.

Now if you know anything about HWA - you know that the CIA was very interested in his overseas ventures (esp when it came to the very strange 'advance man' - Osama Gotoh). Of course, Mr. Gotoh took the fall for the searching of the GII for contraband and then just as strangely disappeared from view - leaving HWA looking clean as a whistle. Not a few questions have been left unanswered though

1-why was Gotoh interested in contraband with a million-dollar annual income for expenses and all the freebies he wanted just to make HWA look good?
2-why was the GII having to land in a certain area every time it came back to the USA and why the use of those search-dogs?
3-why was it that every place HWA visited his visit was followed by an assassination or a coup?
4-why was Rader (a Zionist) interested in keeping Mr. Gotoh under wraps (white-washing his image in the Mike Wallace interview) during the '79 so-called "Palace Revolution"?
5-and then came the day when Rader lost his hold and Tkach (with former Mafia ties) was in charge with no credentials to back up his role (i.e. not even a high school diploma!)

MD: John Trechak's Ambassador Report covered the Gotoh enigma in its second issue. Tkach Senior's alleged mafia connections were covered in issue 43 of the Report.

27 Dec. Another Yahoo group launched: Dateline Pasadena has discovered a new discussion board on the WCG and its estranged splinters. The moderator has identified himself as Charles Sifter.

27 Dec. Flurry Stuff: And from the new forum comes this posting:

Not much new on the Court case - except the jury trial got continued until March, 2003, due to a conflict for WCG's attorneys. Also, both sides have been filing a flurry ;) of motions in limine - trying to limit what evidence the jury gets to see. It's funny to see what each side is trying to hide. WCG doesn't want the jury to know they had quit offering HWA's writings. PCG doesn't want the jury to know their racist teachings... Neither side won the summary judgment (winning without having to go to jury trial) so it looks like a trial in March - unless they put it off again.

Another posting indicates that Flurry is going where no schismatic wannabe has gone before. From a recent Royal Vision.

God came from Teman and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise (v.3). Mount Paran is probably within the area where the place of safety will be. Petra is in this vicinity. This time, though, Christ doesn't have 10,000 saints with Him (Deut. 33:2; see the last chapter of our booklet No Freedom without Law).

The International Critical Commentary says it's better to put this chapter in the present tense. In other words, it's happening right now. That means Christ comes from Mount Paran in the middle of this court case. What was He doing in Mount Paran? Why would He be there now? We must put this in context with the fact that we are Christ's bride, and our loving Husband protects His bride and prepares for our safety and protection.

Within a short time of the September 11 terrorist attack, terrorists tried to bomb Petra. Did Christ stop that Himself? I don't know, but I think it is reasonable to believe that our Husband will come to our aid personally when He needs to. He came or is coming from Mount Paran today for some purpose.

These verses indicate Christ will be personally involved in the court case. This is all going to lead to the Earth being "full of His praise."

Uh, so what is Gerry going to say when PCG loses the case? We don't know about being "full of His praise", but we do suspect Gerry is full of something else instead.

27 Dec. Dateline Dispatches: No rest for the wicked, and even less for our correspondent on the scene in Pasadena.

(1) From The Pasadena Weekly article this past week titled, "The 12 Inappropriate Days of Christmas" by Carl Kozlowski.

After Pasadena police told Santa to "move it along" from his perch outside the Crate & Barrel, he thought he had nowhere to go for the night since the reindeer were off chasing other tails.  So Santa headed to the Worldwide Church of God headquarters since he'd heard they were building new apartments.  Too bad the church is taking heat for building yuppie housing instead of homes for the poor, so Santa just slept under the stars next to his shopping cart.

(2) From "Mother charged with murdering son waits for mental evaluation." 

Karen Robidoux says she was "brainwashed" by her husband to cooperate in the starvation death of her one-year-old son Samuel. Robidoux is charged with murder and was expected to stand trial early next month. But now that date has been bumped pending a psychological evaluation reports WMTW News in Massachusetts. Robidoux's husband Jacques has already been convicted of murder and is serving an automatic life sentence. Karen Robidoux and her attorney have decided upon a risky high stakes courtroom strategy that is likely to fail. It is doubtful a jury will have much sympathy for the cult brainwashing defense.

No doubt Robidoux, like other members of the group known as "The Body," experienced a mental transformation through coercive persuasion. But with the death of a baby as a consequence, whatever sympathy exists will be vested in the mother's victim and not her mental suffering. A better courtroom strategy would be to seek the best plea bargain possible and hope that the claim of cult brainwashing would somehow soften her sentence.

Maybe the prosecutor offered Robidoux and her lawyer nothing and she now has nothing to lose?

The group known as "The Body" was founded by Jacques' father, Roland, a WCG member.

(3) A few hard core Armstrongite followers drifted over to Yisrayl Hawkins cult in Texas. Armstrongism seems to have been a breeding ground for unstable minds...

"David Richardson's story is similar to that related by others. A middle-class family living in Salisbury, Md., the Richardsons were members of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, the same church Yisrayl Hawkins adhered to before starting his own faith with his brother, Jacob. Among their beliefs is keeping Saturday holy. Apparently, the family's name got on a mailing list of people who worship on Saturdays, Richardson said."

gtanew.jpg (6497 bytes)26 Dec. GTA Down Under: Garner Ted Armstrong is on his way to Oz. Lucky Australia! Here's how the announcement looks (with a few helpful MD comments thrown in.)

We are pleased to announce that Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong, the voice of the World Tomorrow broadcast on radio and television for over 25 years in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, [and as featured in TIME magazine in 1972 and again in 1974 for his varied interests] will be in Australia in February 2003 for a series of personal appearances preaching the Gospel (the Good News) of the coming Kingdom of God, the very same Gospel that Jesus Christ preached ! ...

This will be a unique opportunity to see and hear Mr. Armstrong in person preaching the Truth of the Gospel Message [or is that "massage"?] of Jesus Christ, the coming Kingdom of God to this Earth and the opportunity through salvation - repentance [perhaps "re-pant-ance" might be the more appropriate term for Ted], baptism and the laying on of hands for the receiving of the Holy Spirit - to become one of God's begotten children now, with Christ our elder brother, and then at Christ's coming through the FIRST resurrection to be BORN into the very family of God.

If you have been watching the program for a time and receiving the free literature and tapes you know this message pervades everything Mr. Armstrong preaches on [funnily enough we thought it was goofy, far right rhetoric and rampant prophetic speculation.] It was and is the central message that Jesus Christ brought to this earth and commanded His disciples to preach throughout the world to all nations as a WITNESS AND A WARNING.

Mr. Armstrong renders this Message POWERFULLY straight from the pages of your Bible [ignoring every established principle of sound exegesis] looking at how world events are shaping up to the ultimate fulfillment of Bible prophecy and the return of Jesus Christ [please ignore past screw-ups about oil reserves running out by 1975, Otto von Hapsburg, and Christ returning in the lifetime of everyone alive circa 1970]  ... 

Admission is absolutely free of charge and there are NO collections [but stick around and we'll tell you all about the tithing obligation.] We adhere to Christ's admonition " Freely have you received, freely give."

Yes, Ted was doing more than just preachin' the gospel "for over 25 years." Check out our GTA page. And Australian readers might like to read Alan Kendall's 1996 letter, now available online for the first time, which gives background to the disaffiliation of the CGI in Australia from GTA and the Tyler office.

26 Dec. Bill Fairchild - No holds barred: MD recently caught up with outspoken former local elder Bill Fairchild. Bill is a man who speaks his mind, and this conversation was no exception. 

24 Dec. Auditorium coverage in Star News: Things are looking increasingly gloomy for the future of the Ambassador Auditorium. From the Pasadena Star News comes this article by Cindy Chang on public reaction to the demolition threat.

PASADENA -- The 32-acre grounds of the Ambassador College campus have the air of an immaculately kept ghost town. The sweeping lawns stay green and trimmed, and the turn-of- the century mansions are spotless, but the campus has stood mostly empty since the early 1990s, when Ambassador College closed and the Ambassador Auditorium stopped holding performances.

The mansions will remain standing, but the financially strapped Worldwide Church of God plans to turn the rest of the grounds into a residential complex of between 1,465 and 1,525 units. A key question now is whether the Ambassador Auditorium will succumb to the wrecking ball. The church says it will demolish the auditorium and build additional housing on the site unless auditorium proponents can come up with the funds to purchase it. "I want people to understand that (saving the auditorium) is our emotionally preferred option, but it's our legally secondary option,' said Bernard Schnippert, the church's director of finance and planning.

Even some of the auditorium's ardent supporters say they are pessimistic about whether money can be found to foot a purchase price that some put as high as $22 million. "I'm not terribly optimistic, but stranger things have happened. It's such a wonderful auditorium that it's hard to imagine something isn't going to happen to save it,' said Carol Henry, co-chair of the Board for Ambassador Hall. "But at this point, it's a longshot, and the window of opportunity only gets shorter.'

Pasadena city officials said that in light of the state budget crunch, there is little chance that the city could come through with any financial assistance. Even prior to the economic downturn, the city showed little inclination to allocate funds toward purchase of the auditorium, said City Manager Cynthia Kurtz. Mayor Bill Bogaard called the auditorium "a crown jewel for Pasadena because of the caliber of programming it hosted,' but said the city doesn't have the financial resources to help purchase the hall. "We'd love to step forward and save it, but it's just not within the city's budget,' Bogaard said.

The Ambassador Auditorium is famed for its acoustics, which some have likened to those of Carnegie Hall. Like Carnegie, the Ambassador's relatively small size makes it particularly well-suited for solo recitals and chamber groups. From its opening in 1974 to its closing in 1995, the Ambassador hosted a world-class roster of performers, among them Luciano Pavarotti, Vladimir Horowitz and Ella Fitzgerald, and was the home base of the L.A. Chamber Orchestra. "It's probably acoustically the best hall west of the Mississippi,' said Ruth Eliel, the L.A. Chamber Orchestra's executive director. The hall's destruction would be "a real crime,' she said.

Fanatically devoted church members contributed tens of millions of dollars to purchase the campus grounds and build the auditorium during the church's heyday in the 1950s and '60s. The church, its ranks decimated after the death of founder Herbert Armstrong and doctrinal disagreements within the leadership, has been trying to sell the property for years.

A plan to sell to a Northern California firm, Legacy Partners, fell through earlier this year. That plan called for Legacy to donate the auditorium to the city. A nonprofit corporation would have managed the auditorium and raised funds to create an endowment. Funds for the purchase price of the auditorium would have been raised by taxing the residents of the new development.

If the auditorium is to be saved, proponents say, that salvation will likely come from a small core of wealthy donors, or perhaps even a single donor. "Whatever enables this space to reopen will be a major effort, and take some fairly well-connected, committed, passionate donors,' said Terry LeMoncheck, executive director of the Pasadena Arts Council.

Prominent artists who have performed in the hall and remember its acoustics fondly might be marshaled to rally support for the hall, as when Isaac Stern and other artists helped raise funds to renovate Carnegie Hall, Henry said.

Some auditorium supporters mentioned the bond issue on residents in the new development as a possible solution which might be revived. But city officials have objected to plans which would apply the bond money toward the purchase of the auditorium. Bond money raised through a "Community Facilities District' should be only earmarked for infrastructure improvements like building sidewalks and gutters, they pointed out.

Once the auditorium is purchased, the Board for Ambassador Hall, which currently has about 20 members - many of them with extensive experience in fund-raising and the arts - would take charge of managing the auditorium and raising funds for operating expenses. Henry estimated that maintaining the property alone would cost about $350,000 a year, with total operating expenses approaching $1 million annually.

Although the overall tone among supporters was one of pessimism, Pasadena does have a vibrant arts community and a pool of wealthy philanthropists who might come through to save the auditorium. "If anyone can do it, Pasadena can do it,' Henry said. "I think it's possible. I do think it's possible.' 

24 Dec. On Monuments: Reaction to the prospect of the auditorium's destruction have been varied. One AW reader today was reminded of the words of English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.


I met a traveler from an antique land,
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

And in the "read it and weep (with laughter)" department, this may be just the time to rediscover The Edifice Complex, a satirical article that appeared in the first issue (1977) of Ambassador Report, and available on The Painful Truth site.

23 Dec. Pasadena Footnotes. Worth checking out on the Painful Truth site is an article by "Joe AC" called Pasadena Historical Footnotes. Why did Herb choose Pasadena when he abandoned Oregon? This article may help provide some background.

23 Dec. Pack it in Dave! How large is David Pack's Restored Church of God? Just 200 sincere but naive folk according to former RCG insider Thomas Munson, writing on the PCG Yahoo board.

He pays himself about $125,000.00 per year, all tax free, of tithe payers money, plus a palatial office, Lives in a mansion, has a huge expense account etc. etc. etc. Visit this link for more  info:  Read especially the ex employees resignation letters...

He has devastated peoples lives for years under the guise of "doing God's work".  Avoid like the plague!!  Numbers are less than 200 sincere but gullible people who don't get to see firsthand what goes on in his inner workings.  I was once one of those people.

23 Dec. Whistling Off Tune? After reading Whistler's article on atheism, I can see why you wanted comments sent directly to him, rather than having yourself involved. As neither an atheist, fundamentalist, or "left-wing liberal," I believe I am fair in suggesting it would be good for Whistler to re-read his own words and think about them:

1) Admit that you could very well be wrong in your beliefs. Face the fact that it just might be possible. Realize that you have nothing to lose by re-examining your beliefs.

2) Put aside all of the preconceived ideas and one-sided “facts” that you have accumulated regarding the subject under study, and be willing to start a new, unprejudiced investigation from scratch. 

3) Do extensive research.

Whistler's article is an example, from the fundamentalist point of view, of what I feel is wrong in the discussion of atheism.

rcm2.jpg (8287 bytes)22 Dec. 50 Years of Spanky: AW readers will be delighted to know that Living Church of God leader Rod "Spanky" Meredith has celebrated a half century of "service" in the ministry, first under Herb, then in his breakaway Global Church of God, and currently in LCG. All that time and has he learned anything? Congratulations anyway Rod, we have every confidence that eventually you'll get it right!

22 Dec. Spring clean. It may not be Spring yet, but the MD webmaster has had a clean out of pages anyway. If there's a feature you miss (all the popular pages are still here, 115 of them in fact, not including those on The Ambassador Files) drop us an email and we'll send you a copy from the backup files. 

22 Dec. [Continuing a discussion begun in the AW 33 mailbag] DNA tracking: Here's some additional information about the DNA testing. Yes they can tell with a reasonable degree of accuracy where your ancestors came from. They can now test you to discern what percentage of what ethnic groups you have in your DNA...

As to the use of the Biblical names of the sons of Noah to designate the ethnic divisions of mankind, most ethnographers, because of the influence of higher criticism, would be loathe to use them. I used them in my e-mail to communicate the differences in the various ethnic group to the MD site visitors. I personally think that the Biblical divisions are historically valid in a general way, but the old tribal divisions that existed in Genesis 10 have long been kaput due to migrations, inter-ethnic matings, assimilations, and extinction caused by war and other disasters.  My own family history proves that statement. (Except for the extinction part. We're still here! LOL!)

Steve Dalton

22 Dec. Great Clocks - Proof of Herb! I wanted to write you to let you know that you are very wrong in what you have done here... Mr. Armstrong was a very GREAT man, someone sent to help the people of the world to understand God!!! You have said things and put captions under pictures that are false... I know that the only thing that could make you do this would be fear... Fear that you are believing in the wrong thing, the fear that God will not accept you without making someone else look bad... I wonder how many people who are as bad as you say he is would [be given] great clocks from Emperors?? DID YOU???? I did not think so... I hope that next time that you think about putting up a web page that is not true, you will think twice... All things come back to you, where will you be when the bad are burning in hell?? I am sure you will see what hell is like, if you do not change your ways.... If you have anything to say, to justify yourself, please write me and let me know...  

Thank You


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