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Issue 43 - October 2003

Covering developments and advocating accountability in the Worldwide Church of God and related groups
This month's entries: 
Oct.1  Oct.2  Oct.4  Oct.5  Oct.8  Oct.19  Oct.21  Oct.22  Oct.23  Oct.25  Oct.26  Oct.27  Oct.28  Oct.30  Oct.31

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31 October. SCHNIPPERT CAMPS OUT, LIFE UNDER HERB.  Mail: Tragicomic labels, a slow hand clap for Neil

Down from the mountain: Just as Moses came down from the mountain amidst pyrotechnic displays, so too has Bernie Schnippert, as fires rage in California. This update from an amazed observer.

Bernie and his wife are now on campus, along with their two vehicles, motorcycle and boat. It must have been quite a caravan coming down the mountains! So far the fire is at the opposite end of the lake from where they live. 

Memories: The following comments were posted to the MD discussion board earlier today by a former AC employee.

At the time... Jim Jones killed his followers... Armstrongism was gearing up to flee to Petra.  There were many ministers and evangelists that thought and preached that Satan had used Jim Jones to kill his people so that HWA could not tell his followers that it was time to flee. With the world aghast at the tragedy in Jonestown, people would not stand for Armstrong whisking his flock off to Petra.  They would immediately think another suicide plot. That was the same time that Herb was trying to get into Jordan and be buddy buddy with King Hussein.  There were ministers that were preaching that HWA and the evangelists would be staying just outside Petra in some of the new tourist hotels while the members would be inside Petra in the caves.  They claimed that with HWA being outside Petra it would allow him to be witness to Jordan and Israel during the end times.  Let the poor dumb schmucks roast in the desert while Herb and crew lived in air conditioned luxury with all the food they could eat, because Jordan was going to be so in awe of us (because God was protecting us in their country) that they would do anything for us.

Herb and crew had great plans in having electricity and other services run into Petra.  Some nutcases were looking into buying old 747's at that time for the exodus.  If I remember right, around that time there had been several plane accidents involving 747's so they assumed that people would be glad to sell us planes.  One nutty evangelist even reasoned that they would sell us the defective planes because they would be hoping that we would all die before we made it there, but God in his mercy, would send his angels to hold the planes aloft till everyone arrived safely.


Laodicean labeling: Bob Thiel's attitude and latest public comments reflect poorly upon himself and LCG.  Declaring other COG members to be Laodicean simply because they do not share Thiel's interpretation of what HWA & WCG taught regarding church eras is absurd and has no biblical support other than Thiel's warped logic.

If Thiel is going to insist that HWA be the foundation stone of the COG and not the Bible then his theology is terribly inconsistent and tragically comical. After all, Thiel himself rebelled against HWA's unequivocal command to follow and obey his successor, Joe Tkach.


MD: Bob made the following comments on his website today: "The only person who I identified as not being in a COG, in a later posting, was: "David Barret [MD: actual spelling - Barrett] for example, states he is not in any COG". Now Gavin Rumney knows better and I am fairly sure knows what I posted, but probably posted Janet T's comments for the controversy." 

Janet's comments (and the AW item on October 28) were made before the benefit of Bob's "clarification". And Janet was clearly tarred with the same brush as other Journal writers when Bob labeled them "Laodicean Sadducees". Bob has not withdrawn his Laodicean Sadducees/Pharisees comments.

Worship wars: (1) Whenever I read the latest assault by WCG ministers on the "old guard," I have to wonder what it is that motivates them. On the one hand, you have Joe Tkach begging for money yet again. On the other hand, you have a WCG minister who is going out of his way to offend the traditionalists, who are the most likely to follow the letter of the tithing laws.

Are Joe Tkach and friends deliberately trying to destroy the WCG, or does their stupidity know no bounds?

Senator Joe McCarthy once said of General George C. Marshall, "If Marshall was merely stupid, the laws of probability would dictate that part of his decisions would serve America's interests." One can apply this quote to Joe Tkach and his minions; if the WCG leadership were merely stupid, the laws of probability would dictate that part of their decisions would be good for the church. Joe Tkach and his friends issue their pleas for money and descriptions of the church's dire financial condition on a regular schedule. Yet these same people seem to do all in their power to drive away the very members from whom they solicit donations. Neil Earle's statements are merely the latest example. The sacking of Joplin, Missouri pastor Dan King, described in the October 19 AW, is yet another example. Not surprisingly, King was canned because he respected the sensitivities of the members of his congregation, the complete opposite of Neil Earle.

The efforts to sell the Ambassador College campus in Pasadena is one more example. Bernie Schnippert is the worst choice Tkach could have made to represent the church in this sale. His every statement offends the Pasadena community, even though that community will have a very large say in the disposition of the property. It doesn't help his standing with the membership that he presides over the firing of local ministers while spending lavishly to furnish new offices for himself and his staff.

Are Joe Tkach and friends deliberately trying to destroy the WCG, or does their stupidity know no bounds? Is there a another explanation? It seems that every decision they make is calculated to destroy whatever goodwill they have left with the membership and the Pasadena community. I hope one of your readers, one with greater insights into human nature than I, can come up with an explanation. I would love to understand why they are rushing to commit corporate suicide.

MAM's not HOW one worships that is important... it is the HONESTY of their worship.

(2) A few comments concerning Neal Earle's alleged position on worship style, and his reported stance on suspension/termination of attendance or membership for failure to comply with policy:

... In my opinion, a pastor should be more concerned with loving their flock, feeding their flock, and nurturing their flock into understanding the truths of God... because it's not HOW one worships that is is the HONESTY of their worship. Jesus in fact warns of those who do just such things for the sake of outward appearances (which is what forcing them by threat of termination would do... force them to do something which is not in their heart.)

... Bottom line: As long as the member is HONEST in how he worships, and his worship is genuine, in his heart, the outward appearance is not important. Whether sitting contemplatively in prayer at his chair or hands stretched to God with flowing tears, as long as God is the center of it, God rejoices. Whatever is done, let it be done to GOD'S glory. Neal Earle is treading dangerous ground on forcing out people who are "non-compliant". Instead of beating them, he should love them. Instead of scourging them, he should hug them. Instead of publicly insinuating they are less then Christian, he should help them with their walk with God in the way they know and understand. Perhaps some ministers of the WCG will never realize that the answer is not in the rod of iron... it is in the love of Jesus Christ. A Pastor should love each one in his congregation, and show that love of God that he preaches.

Oh... and last I heard, expression of worship is not a valid reason for using Ecclesiastical Duty to "disfellowship" a member... I look forward to the day when I meet EVERYONE, whether they raise their hands or sit, or clap, or think, or contemplate, or rejoice inwardly or outwardly, at the Kingdom's Gates... when the only thing that will be important then, as it SHOULD be now, is Jesus.



Schnippert flees to "place of safety": Bernie Schnippert and his wife had to evacuate their home at Big Bear Lake today (28 October) because of the horrific wildfires. Dan Rogers and his family have also had to evacuate their home which is out by Fontana, a few miles from the Tkach's who were not affected. Many members are also threatened at this time.

Worship style is a matter of choice, commonsense, negotiation and consensus. All of which seem in desperately short supply...

Happy-clappy Fascism? Neil Earle, WCG's Glendora pastor, has a reputation for reason and moderation. So what's happening to transform the pleasant Canadian into a legalistic, rigid authoritarian? This report arrived today.

It seems Neil Earle has been stirring up a stink in both his own congregation and Dennis Pelley's. He is understood to have said in each that those who attend but do not sing the worship songs, or clap, or participate in other aspects of the service should be removed from the church! People are really upset with him. Many of the old guard will not sing a lot of the new praise songs. Nor will they raise their hands and clap along with the rest of the congregation. Neil is in a precarious situation. Those that left the Pasadena WCG and went to him (along with their tithe money) were expecting to be treated a little better. IF he starts kicking out members because they do not sing or worship as he expects, the dollars will start shrinking.

Worship style is a matter of choice, commonsense, negotiation and consensus. All of which seem in desperately short supply in the un-reformed hierarchical WCG... even out in Glendora.

More rattling of the begging bowl: It's tough having to fly around the world at church expense and live off the fat of the land. Brethren, Joe Tkach needs your money! Here's his latest plea, which was tagged on to the November member letter.

By God’s grace we are drawing nearer the time when our new financial model will be in place. In the meantime, our cohesion as a worldwide fellowship depends on our faithful donations. Your giving is what supports our paid ministers, the training and supervision of all our pastors, accounting and administration for our international missions and U.S. youth program, legal services, insurance, conferences, the WN and other literature.

Sure, Joe wants the dough, but in the absence of adequate financial reporting and meaningful accountability (a readily available annual audit would be a nice start) he's unlikely to convince many.

UCG FOT video online: "Being About Our Father's Business" was the title of the 2003 FOT video produced by the United Church of God. This video, featuring chairman Clyde Kilough and president Roy Holladay, can now be accessed from the UCG website. A good deal of time is devoted to the Mexican operation, and this year's version even includes a tearful "testimony" (which could be a COG first).

Halloween poll: We asked: "Is Halloween something Christians should avoid?" 126 votes were cast. Here are the results:

Yes, it's Satanic. 60 votes (48%)

No, it's a cute custom. 18 votes (14%)

It's a matter of personal conscience. 46 votes (37%)

Unsure. 2 votes (1%)

Which just goes to show what a diverse bunch AW readers are. This poll has now closed.



Bob's facts I read the piece about all those who write for The Journal are not in the COG. I am a regular writer in The Journal and in fact have an article in the [latest issue]. I not only consider myself COG, I am a member of United and work full time in the HO. I don't know where he got his facts.

Janet Treadway

MD: Janet recently observed her 29th FOT, and wrote about her first Feast in the September 30 issue of The Journal.

Racists promote hate literature: In Spanky Meredith's cult, there is a group of members presently spreading copies of The Protocols of Zion around to any who will read it.  I will never forget the following comment that a loyal follower of Spanky said to me: "It's a conspiracy man!  The Jews are the ones destroying Christianity and they were the ones that destroyed WCG. They have made it a mission of the Zionist organization to infiltrate all Christian churches and destroy them from within."

Dateline Pasadena


Tkach wings his way back to Britain - again: The following item by David Silcox appears on the British website.

I would again ask for your prayers for the quarterly Church Board Meeting this weekend. Mr Tkach will be in the UK in his capacity as Chairman of the Board and Mr Randal Dick, Director of Overseas Missions will also be here. Interviews will be conducted with a view to appointing some new Board Members as well as the various reviews of Church affairs that are conducted at each Meeting. Please pray that God will guide all that is said and done and that the affairs of the Worldwide Church of God (UK) will be conducted in accordance with His will.

What is it that attracts Joe to the UK so frequently? Surely it's not just those stuffy board meetings? And has anyone been counting the number of trans-Atlantic trips the long suffering tithe-payers in Joplin, Missouri and elsewhere have had to fund so far just this year? The un-elected leader (on both sides of the Atlantic) could surely find someone who could competently substitute - or even, having actual local knowledge, do a far better job (not to mention moving the Brits beyond the "colonial administration model" and bringing some relief to his cash strapped church back home). After all, it's not as though Randy Dick won't be there to represent Pasadena; or does Joe not trust Randy either?

Thiel spanks The Journal: LCG apologist Bob Thiel has taken a sideswipe at The Journal on his popular COGwriter website (26 October). He writes:

What I found of interest in the current issue of the Journal was that NONE of its regular articles were written by inviduals (sic) who are part of a COG which actually believes in Church eras... Essentially, almost all the articles in the Journal are written by what I consider to be Laodicean Sadducees or by individuals which are not truly part of the COG. I should add that there were a few advertisements written by individuals who are part of a COG which do believe in Church eras, but they could possibly be best described as Laodicean Pharisees.

Let's see now: the "Laodicean Sadducees" and/or false brethren must presumably include contributors Scott Ashley, Dave Havir, editor Dixon Cartwright, Brian Knowles, Wayne Cole, and Alan Ruth. Truly, narrow is the path! And how wonderful that The ETERNAL has granted Bob such spiritual discernment! We assume these backsliders, suitably chastened, will even now be hastening to Charlotte, NC to prostrate themselves in tearful repentance before the mercy seat of the Most High (a.k.a. Rod Meredith). 

The Journal has published a number of pieces Thiel himself has submitted in the past. In light of these recent statements though, it might seem incongruous for Bob to wish any more of his "Philadelphian" material associated with such a "Laodicean" periodical.

ICG Constitution and By-laws: You can be sure that, since the death of Garner Ted Armstrong, the ICG's constitution and by-laws have been the subject of much intense study as the sect attempts to move into the post-Ted era.  The document inextricably links ICG with the GTA Evangelistic Association (see Article 3). Whoever runs the latter (take a bow Mark) effectively controls the former - or at least that's how it seems.

Article 10, section 2E reads: In the event of the partial disability or death of the Chairman, the Board shall receive recommendations from the Area Coordinators and the entire ministry of the church, and after fasting and prayer, shall choose a successor by acclamation. Should the Chairman be partially disabled, but sound of mind, he shall make known to the ministry of the church and the Board his recommendation for a successor. Such successor shall be appointed only by a unanimous vote by the board. 

Did Ted give Mark the papal nod on his deathbed, and does Mark now officially hold this position? We do know that Mark has received a pledge of loyalty from each of the ministers. But if so, it's hard to imagine how, as an unordained individual, he meets the criteria of section D:

The Chairman shall perform, as his primary duty toward the church, the faithful preaching of the doctrines of the church at all worship services or evangelistic campaigns, and through books, booklets, articles, magazines, newsletters or literature of any description, and through electronic media of any description, including the Worldwide Web, E-Mail, and video and audio-taped sermons which shall be distributed to the local churches and hosted fellowship groups at their request.

And then there's this interesting statement in section 5B: No person may be considered for membership on the Board who has not been a member of the church for at least ten (10) years, and who has been in regular attendance at church worship services and annual Holy Days.

Our understanding is that Mark, despite his family associations, has been a baptized member of the church for less than 10 years. 


Columbus-day Adventists?  Considering how some members take the words of a Pastor General as ‘Gospel’, it might be prudent if Joe didn’t use Columbus Day next year as an excuse for a fall cruise. Columbus was born during the fall season and was named CHRISTopher and his commission was for a ‘New World’. Those facts alone could possibly be misconstrued if a custom of Columbus Day cruises were to be used for fellowship and worship year after year.

After all “dumb sheep” can come up with some dumb conclusions when the Pastor General speaks, at least that was implied in a taped sermon on prophecy, that was sent out to churches from [HQ] after the 1995 fall out.

Deja vu?

Hannah B

27 October JON HILL REMEMBERS, COG NOSTALGIA BUSINESS,  PENTHOUSE MEETS THE PLAIN TRUTHMail: Cruising with Joe, the Armstrong Asylum, Zoroastrian roots.

A Hill of an Experience: Former WCG evangelist David Jon Hill has written the first in an anticipated four part series on his involvement in Armstrongism, available on Ken Westby's ACD website. An excerpt:

At the 1952 graduation, all four original students were ordained as “Evangelists” – as I remember, they were Raymond Cole, Raymond McNair, Dick Armstrong and Herman Hoeh...

A word about each of the graduates: Raymond Cole was the one I knew least. He seemed like a cold fish, nothing like his brother Wayne. Certainly dedicated and well-versed Biblically – later I remember, I could always count on at least sixty-six scripture references in any sermon he gave, lots of notes to take, but I sometimes lost the aim of the sermon.

Raymond McNair was a friendly fellow, a true believer. He worked slavishly to improve his vocabulary – he tried adding ten new words a day, had them on 3x5 cards and practiced using them on anyone who would stop to listen: an admirable and sincere man.

Herman Hoeh had me puzzled. He was certainly intelligent, but not a mixer. If he had any friends, they were academic. He taught OTS that year and I was among the students. The big project was to determine where all the tribes of Israel had ended up in the modern world. We all brainstormed ideas, not much of a research or intellectual job, and came up with what most of you will remember as a result. I fear it was inaccurate, but certainly entertaining! And I got an A in the class.

Let me say this about Dick at this point: nobody’s perfect – we are all driven by strong emotional tides – but Dick was one of the most compassionate, empathic, concerned and loving in his response to the members of the church of anyone I have known, including myself. Dedicated, hard working and believing, I believe he could have been a very positive force in modifying the operation of church government and would have been heard by his father. His death later was not only a tragic loss to the family and all of us, but to the WCG as a whole.

Herborabilia: It had to happen. A place where COGophiles can indulge their obsession and spend up on memorabilia. The nice people at are there to provide you with a perfect COG conversation piece for your coffee table (the ideal display of loyalty next time the minister drops by to disfellowship a loved one.) An ancient copy of The Good News perhaps (not the UCG imitation, the real thing), or maybe you'd fancy a copy of Tomorrow's World (WCG, not LCG)? All available - but no longer "without cost" - at One question: do you think Gerry and Rod will give us special dispensation to use second tithe to buy up big?

Thanks to Dateline Pasadena for drawing this site to our attention.

Repenthouse? Or perhaps that should read "re. Penthouse". Either way, MD researcher Dateline Pasadena has also dug up an online copy of the 1980 Penthouse article that covered WCG (along with a number of other religion businesses that were raking in the dough).

You can find The God Biz by James Haught at


Joey's FOT: (1) From JT's update on his fall "travels", it certain sounds like he kept the Feast to me. Why else would there be 135 of them on the same cruise? Also, if it wasn't a holy day celebration, why did they arrange to hold services on board a cruise ship? Sounds fishy to me!

(2) I wonder if Joe Tkach's Old Testament-free Mexican cruise did away with an Old Covenant custom we hear very little about: holy day offerings. I'm willing to bet that on that custom Joe is willing to be flexible and will accept any donations his slow-to-learn church members feel compelled to give.


Gallows humor: Thanks so much for maintaining the MD web site. It is terrific and right on the mark! Much of it is very funny, in a gallows-humor sort of way. As they say, you can't make this stuff up! And, as they also say, you might as well laugh, since the alternative, crying, is not nearly so enjoyable. My wife and I were inmates at the Armstrong Asylum from 1975 to 1998. In retrospect, "What were we thinking?" The answer: We weren't doing much thinking, or at least not much asking. Thanks again for your good work!

Bob Gilbert

Also sprach Zarathustra: Dennis Diehl is absolutely right that "Beliefs and practices do not spring from a vacuum." The dying and resurrected God, "eating the God" in the Eucharist, the Virgin birth, water baptism, etc etc, are all ideas which long pre-date Christianity. And I also agree with him that "The idea that a devil, anticipating such truth, mimicked it", is twaddle. In one sense, so is the opposite argument put forward by the 2nd century Justin Martyr, that "whatever things were rightly said by any man [i.e. any previous religion], belong to us Christians"; this is an ex post facto justification that the early Jesuits would have been proud of! But in another sense (though clearly not how Justin Martyr intended it), this is how all religions, including both mainstream Christianity and Herbert Armstrong's teachings, develop -- by borrowing from all and sundry and adapting it to your own purposes.

So yes, the old WCG and its successors are correct about the celebration and customs of Christmas and Easter being Pagan in origin. But so what, if you then adapt them to symbolize Christian truths? For believers (of any religion), does it really matter where their beliefs originated, once they've been absorbed and adapted? (This is why Scott Ashley's claim that Allah was originally a Pagan moon-god is irrelevant. Wherever the name originated, when Allah became accepted as the One Creator God of Islam, he became by definition the same One Creator God as the Jewish and Christian God; the fact that Islam accepts the same OT prophets as Judaism and Christianity confirms this.) The many thousands of people in XCOGs who attend the Feast of Tabernacles each year aren't taking part in the same event as people in the Old Testament, with the same meanings; they're adapting it to their own purposes, seeing it as a "type" of the Christian life, etc, which clearly wasn't in the mind of the ancient Israelites who celebrated the Feast. That's how religions develop.

"...make the spirit of truth a shield, the spirit of thankfulness a club, the spirit of complete mindfulness a bow, and the spirit of liberality an arrow; and they make the spirit of moderation like a spear, the spirit of perseverance a gauntlet, and they put forth the spirit of destiny as a protection..."

Compare Ephesians 6:13-17!

The New Testament similarly didn't "spring from a vacuum"; it includes ideas absorbed from its surrounding culture, which included a lot more than Judaism. Paul frequently quotes from non-Judaeo-Christian writings, without any implied censure. I recently came across a Zoroastrian text which seemed rather familiar:

The spirit of wisdom answered thus: 'To make Ohrmazd, the lord, and the archangels, and the fragrant, well-pleasing heaven for oneself, and Ahriman, the wicked, and the demons confounded, and to escape from hell, the dark and depreciated, are possible thus: that is, when they make the spirit of wisdom a protection for the back, and wear the spirit of contentment on the body, like arms and armor and valor, and make the spirit of truth a shield, the spirit of thankfulness a club, the spirit of complete mindfulness a bow, and the spirit of liberality an arrow; and they make the spirit of moderation like a spear, the spirit of perseverance a gauntlet, and they put forth the spirit of destiny as a protection. In this manner it is possible to come to heaven and the sight of the sacred beings, and to escape from Ahriman, the wicked, and hell, the depreciated."

Compare Ephesians 6:13-17! Depending on which scholars you consult, Zoroaster/Zarathustra was 600 or 1000 BCE or possibly as early as 1400 or even 1700 BCE -- whichever, quite some years before Paul. Does this mean that Christians must stop "putting on the whole armor of God" because it's Pagan? Of course not. Otherwise Christianity would also have to jettison a number of other beliefs originating in Zoroastrianism, which became absorbed into Judaism, and thence into Christianity -- including "monotheism + an evil one", the afterlife, resurrection, judgment, heaven and hell. Not to mention all the other Christian beliefs and practices borrowed from Mithraism, which was a late offshoot of Zoroastrianism.

But what it does mean is that religions should have the sense (and scholarship) to stop trying to claim originality. And here, HWA (and his successors) and fundamentalist Evangelicals are equally at fault...


26 October. INTRODUCING THE CHURCH OF GOD (COLUMBUS DAY), NEW COG CD, FLOYD LOCHNER.  Mail: Cardboard boxes, Halloween poll

The Feast of Columbus: WCG members were blessed with yet another inspiring fireside chat from Pastor General Joe this week, in the form of his weekly Pastors Update. The Supreme Leader began with a little personal account about "what I did in the holidays".

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The fall season, especially around Columbus Day, gives us a unique opportunity for economical travel at prices below the typical rates during the rest of the year. Generally, it is the off-season because it is the time that children go back to school, so the travel and tourism industries offer discounts to attract business. Because of this, we plan and organize a few opportunities for our members and ministers who are inclined to travel and have the time and resources to do so with fellow church members from multiple locations. This year we offered a trip to Russia, a cruise to the Caribbean, and a cruise down the coast of Mexico. We will continue to offer such opportunities for travel and fellowship as long as there continues to be such interest. 

Tammy and I enjoyed the worship and fellowship on the Mexican cruise this week with 135 of our brethren. Many were in their retirement years and enjoyed this bargain opportunity for a cruise. These were among the best prices ever that we have obtained. The scenery was beautiful and augmented our fellowship... Dr. Russell Duke led us in praising God with the assistance of flute, harp, conga drums, two guitars, piano, and many splendid voices. We benefited from sermons on evangelism, Paul’s missionary journeys, walking in step with the Holy Spirit, and the discipline of community. I don't have any pictures, yet, of those who went on the Caribbean cruise or the trip to Russia, but I am certain that they had a wonderful trip also. Throughout September and October we had several regional weekend festivals, including those at Lake George, New York; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Seaside, Oregon; and Long Beach, California.

Dateline Pasadena comments that it's interesting how, instead of referring to the Feast, Joe now uses Columbus Day as an excuse to get low vacation rates! Is this just another way to let the hanger's on know that the WCG is NOT a Holy Day keeping church? Until, that is, the next WN, when they will say that while they officially don't recognize the Feast, they do see the significance of meeting together on these dates! Remember how they went out of their way in the past - unsuccessfully - to emphasize the Summer conventions so eventually they could replace the fall events?

One God, Many Moods: Richard Burkard is a UCG member, regular contributor on JLF, and an occasional correspondent to the AW mailbag. A talented singer, Richard has recently released a CD called One God, Many Moods. You can find out more about the album and download some clips at

"Medical advisor" to HWA dies: Floyd Lochner, described as a long time companion and medical advisor to Herbert Armstrong, has died. Bob Thiel quotes an announcement of his death by CEG (Church of the Eternal God).

It is with regret that we announce the death of Dr. Floyd O. Lochner on Thursday, October 23, 2003, in Oxford, Wisconsin. Dr. Lochner is survived by his wife, Kim; his son, Otto Lochner; and his daughter, Peggy Harris, along with eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Dr. Lochner served many years in the work of God and his influence was a very positive example to many. Dr. Lochner was 91 years old.

Lochner's name became associated with an alleged recording he made, unknown to Armstrong, of Herb discussing in frank detail his sexual performances in solo mode. "The Lochner Tapes" became public knowledge after David Robinson's 1980 book, Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, was published, as did Herb's "little back book", a.k.a. "the flog log" (see Robinson, chapter 6, "Sex and the Single Apostle", excerpts are available on The Painful Truth site.) Doc. Lochner however remained loyal to Armstrongism. He later left WCG to join the Global Church of God, ultimately ending up, it seems, in the CEG splinter group.

Addendum: In an earlier version of this story we implied that Lochner was a medical doctor. However we've been advised that his doctorate was actually in education. He was head of Imperial Schools, Pasadena, for many years and the head of SEP, Orr from its inception in 1965. 


Box Cutters can be a good thing... Boxes are a difficult thing to outgrow. We all arrive on the planet pre-boxed in the religion, customs , beliefs, practices and expectations of our family of origin. They, of course came pre-boxed themselves and have either remained in their expected tribal belief system or outgrown it through much personal conviction and willingness NOT to let the expectations of others or the prohibition against thinking outside the box impede their personal progress. That's a tough path to follow in life. It's scary at times. You meet a lot of sarcastic types who can't really articulate a good reason for you to get back into the smaller box from which you have emerged, but the energy they will expend trying can be amazing. Of course, those who step outside the expectations of the group or tribe are a threat to such and it is to someone's advantage to at least make them look foolish or plain wrong.

Mr. Stump knows how boxes work I suspect and he has outgrown the Fundamentalist and Evangelical mindset that people can rightly discern the mind of God on all topics and understand correctly the origins of all things right and wrong. Then, once that skill is accomplished, it seems to be an obsession of religionists to demand that their world is best served by seeing it through their eyes and not your own. Since Christianity thrives on division and conflict, (This site and all organized religions included), "preechers" will always have work and audiences. People in smaller boxes are generally those who yell the loudest at those who have outgrown them and moved on.     
It has seemed to me having been on both sides of the Fundamentalist fence that Law keepers often demand a lot of Grace when they fail, and those under Grace have a gabillion laws to keep them "free".

The fact is that all Hebrew Holydays sprang out of pagan agricultural practices before them. Beliefs and practices do not spring from a vacuum.

IF you have done your homework, and I know Mr. Stump has through the years and is not afraid of thinking outside boxes, you will see that practically all of what the Western world calls Christian and Biblical has sprouted from previous "pagan" customs and sacred events. Sunday is pagan and Saturday is not, Christmas is and Tabernacles isn't. And of course Passover beats "The Lord's Supper" hands down. All pagan theologies have been washing themselves "in the blood" since the beginning of humans dealing with their perceived imperfections. Jesus is teaching nothing more or less than Mithras or Osiris taught before him. Eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the god-man is not a new box inspired by one time historical events. The idea that a devil, anticipating such truth, mimicked it, is also a form of historical denial. 

The fact is that all Hebrew Holydays sprang out of pagan agricultural practices before them. Beliefs and practices do not spring from a vacuum. Israel dragged many Egyptian practices, beliefs and "boxes" out of Egypt with them. (I will say personally that I don't believe the traditions of an Exodus and all the associated miracles literally happened... sorry, it's my box.) Much if not most of the Bible is Astrological in it's numbers games (7's, 12's 30's and even 153 NT fish caught, and so on). Sun worship becoming Son worship is not new to the New Testament. It's just a bigger box historically as time progresses.

Moses lifting up a bronze snake on a pole, and priests keeping it in the temple as a relic until the time of Hezekiah, who destroyed it, can hardly be understood as a purely monotheistic practice. Many of the Psalms find their origins in Egyptian writings, not David. The Old Testament is hardly the record of a monotheistic people. The god's/God of the Old Testament evolves, changes names often, and shows all the characteristics of people outgrowing boxes.

I appreciate Mr. Stumps perspective and I respect his ability to come to obvious conclusions based on clear thinking and not the panic that so many feel when a belief is threatened.

As a kid, and certainly having passed through all this COG experience (which I consciously chose to do for those of you who blame others), I often wondered why it was so wrong for the mythical Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2:17) and why they would be blamed for doing so if they did not yet know the difference. (In my box, it never literally happened). I guess knowledge is scary even to an evolving God and a controlling boxed in Priesthood, who wrote the account. Thanks Mr. Stump for endeavoring to make a bigger box.

If you understand, then things are as they are...
If you don't understand, then things are as they are...

Dennis Diehl

Wrong question: I find the Halloween fracas to be quite enlightening. I also find the (present) result of your poll to also be quite enlightening. The whole argument seems to be boiled down to the statement you used on your poll: Should Christians observe Halloween? But that's not the right question, in my opinion. It makes one assumption... that one person is allowed to make value judgments for another...

"Should Christians observe Halloween"? The only correct answer, really, is "It depends on your personal conscience"... it is not the place of one person to judge what others should do. Even if they profess to be Christians. Especially if they profess to be Christians.

Perhaps Keith did a disservice by using such strong language in his essay. It did, however, seem to get quite a firestorm brewing. Perhaps the reader will take this opportunity to consider his or her beliefs and whether they are actually consistent with the teachings of the teachings of the biblical teacher that the Christian reader professes to believe in.

... I'm not counting on it.


25 October. CHILLING WORDS FROM CONTROLLER KELLY, NEW POLL.  Mail: Halloween, Elijah fever, deja vu

The Bad News of the Church Tomorrow: Ron Kelly's carefully chosen words in the November WN may signify unpleasant realities ahead:

... when compared to the first nine months of last year, regular mail income is down six percent. As I often write, a decline is not pleasant, but we are thankful that mail income has been on a steady pace for many months, and we are striving to keep expenses in line with income—not always an easy task. However, a balanced budget is our goal for 2004. I’ll write more about that next time, as we get further along with our 2004 planning process.

Bearing in mind predictions of layoffs and salary cuts which we reported on October 19, it seems plans are well underway. Will, we wonder, Joe Tkach take a hefty salary cut? Mr. Indispensable? Greg Albrecht? Ron himself? If not, why not? And will all really be revealed "next time" (the December WN)?

MD Poll on Halloween: It's been a while since we ran a poll, but with the Halloween topic heating up, we thought we'd test the waters. You'll find the poll here. It'll stay up for a few days.


Counterargument please: A brief reply to "RK", who chooses to hide behind initials: On the contrary, you most certainly MAY dispute or refute my thoughts. Please do. I find your failure to provide even a single counterargument to my views "smug and dismissive". As for my use of the word "silly", I believe, with sci-fi writer Robert A. Heinlein, that "one man's theology is another man's belly laugh." Please explain why the superstitious fear of a plastic mask isn't silly. A point-by-point critique of my article would be even more helpful. Or is that too much to ask of the "benighted"? 

Keith Stump

Occulty ghoul-fest: Now I've read it all. I've always wondered how self-professing "Christians" could in good conscience commemorate (and now give academic defenses of) that occultly ghoul-fest called Halloween. I now know how after having read Keith "The Vicar" Stump's pontification about the not so obvious virtues of the day: "Sensibly observed, Halloween can be a day of wholesome fun and merriment." Evidently one has to wax loquacious to one's self, for days on end to give validation. Stump and his missives remind me of another who purports "to be somebody great": Does the name J. Michael Feazell sound familiar? When Stump heads out trick or treating in a couple of weeks maybe he can call up Mike and they can both dress up. One can go as Theudas, the other as Judas of Galilee.


Elijahs on the loose: With Timothy Michael Devine enthroned as the "end-time Elijah" (well, at least in his own humble estimation), yet another religious fanatic voluntarily throws his hat in the ring of potential prophets. But it looks like he'll be in for some fierce competition from the hundreds of other hopefuls (Gerald Flurry, among many) who desperately desire to get the divine nod as God's final spokesman for the last days.

Wow, and we... thought there were a LOT of candidates running for governor in the recent election in California (somewhere around 120 I last heard)! ...

Randy Martens

MD: Maybe Tim's chances would improve if he practiced speaking with an Austrian accent... 

A facade of Protestant repentance? Armstrongism isn’t the only cultic style of church in the universe. Those who eschew their past and are trying to be a main stream denomination are just as cultic in their endeavor to put down any members who want to observe traditional Biblical Holy Days. Whether the days are to be rigidly observed or not, is not my point.

But it really seems ironic to me that Tkach and company are wanting to be so far removed from those days while maintaining a facade of Protestant repentance while more and more mainstream churches are having Fall observances with traditional music, dancing , food etc.

I challenge any one to do a research into observances of mainstream churches around them and I’d bet they would see what I’ve seen. A lot of denominations are incorporating the Fall and Spring Holy days as part of their worship services. None that I know of are saying the days are part of a salvation plan as the old [WCG], but they are observed to remind Christian people of the past heritage that bridges the connection of Jew to Christians and this has some Rabbis worried that Christians are using the days to try and make converts of Jews.

There is nothing new under the sun... There will always be someone out in the ‘world’ who will ‘discover truth’ and then it is deja vu all over again...

I might add since we are in the Halloween season that many ‘Protestant’ churches are having alternative celebrations that night for their congregations and some are preaching that October 31 is truly the devil's night. As usual, the new WCG is as much out of step with the rest of the mainstream churches as the old WCG was. 

Hannah B


Heaping coals of fire on Bernie's pate: Imagine "Saint Bernard the Indispensable" chewing his pencil thoughtfully while composing the following letter: "The Worldwide Church of God wishes to thank SheaHomes for its substantial contribution to the Ambassador Project. We greatly admire the professionalism and skills of those who participated with us in the planning process. We wish SheaHomes well, and regret that, in current circumstances, we will not be able to proceed with our partnership."

Sound unlikely? Interesting then that SheaHomes has done the decent thing and produced the following press release. Perhaps John Shea had Proverbs 25:22 in mind.

Pasadena – John Shea, President of J. F. Shea Co., Inc., today released the following statement regarding the Worldwide Church of God’s Ambassador Campus residential housing project.

“SheaHomes’ collaboration with the Worldwide Church of God has resulted in an outstanding development proposal of which SheaHomes, the Church and the City of Pasadena can all be proud.”

“The Church and SheaHomes are in agreement on the design and key aspects of the project. Though our formal involvement on the project team is over, we remain available to the Church to give the kind of informal advice you would expect from two organizations used to working amicably on a project important to both parties.”

“Shea Homes assembled the development team, with the church’s approval, and we know firsthand that the other professionals, including the architectural and planning firms of Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh and EDAW, will shepherd the development to completion.”

“We wish the Church well and encourage the community to embrace this wonderful opportunity for Pasadena .”

Mark and George calm the flock: Now you too can listen in to the gracious words dropping from the mouth of ICG's new leader. Mark Armstrong and George Trent speak at the first Sabbath service since Ted's funeral. It's available in Real Audio format. Grab a stiff drink and a box of tissues, then head to to listen to Mark. You might need to change to a strong cup of coffee and a hard chair though before attempting George's sermon.

Free magazine! Short of reading material? Grab yourself a free (yes, free!) one year subscription to The Plain Truth magazine! Just cruise across to and sign up! Please note, Greg Albrecht will not accept requests from current or former subscribers, or godless heathen beyond the borders of the US and Canada. What the heck... acquire a pen name. Maybe you could give them Spanky's home address (we're sure he'd appreciate a subscription). Let's boost the PT list for Greg - at his expense. Just remember to file each copy unopened in the appropriate receptacle.


Look out Keith! Incoming! (1) Keith Stump and Bernie Schnippert both appear to be accomplished graduates of the "School for Nurturing the Narcissist."

Bernie asserts that any single member of the Pasadena property sales team could leave, except, of course, himself, "and it really wouldn't create any delay or problem." Keith ends his defense of Halloween with a smug and dismissive: "To believe otherwise is just plain silly!"

Bernie is the indispensable one; Keith is the one with the indispensably correct view. Bernie we dare not dismiss or remove and Keith we dare not dispute or refute. How comforting to know that these two great men are willing to share their presence and their thoughts with us lesser and benighted mortals.


MD: We'd be more than happy to publish a thoughtful, articulate response to Keith's article, provided it wasn't a rehash of church literature.

(2) Keith Stump in his article Halloween Hysteria wrote: Is hanging a plastic skeleton in your window "paying homage to Satan"? I was wondering, if Keith would consider it wrong if I dug up Herbert and hung him on my front porch along side the jack-o'-lantern for a fun filled Halloween! All in fun of course... I'd put him back in the box on  November 1st!

... I remember the very last sermon Herbie made. He warned of "Wolves among us" that would COME IN and devour. Now no wolf ever CAME INTO the church. They WERE ALREADY THERE waiting to start their own branch of the cult! Don't blame Joe Tkach Sr. He was appointed by Herbie... not "Spanky and the gang", or Flurry, nor the charismatic David Hulme...

The point being is that the COG cults NEVER really listened to Herbie's wishes. He wanted Tkach to lead the church, not Spanky or Hulme and certainly not Flurry! So as it stands, it is not the Worldwide Church Of God that is in rebellion against God (for the sake of argument, that there is a God) it is those rebellious off-shoots that rebel against God and of course, lest we forget, the most important person... HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG.

All in all Keith Stump I believe presented a balanced approach to Halloween in his article. The only "bones to pick" with him is... why he is still pimping Jesus? ...

Reverend Kscribe.

MD: Greetings your reverence. I thought, when seeing your moniker in the in-tray, that you might be supplying a review of that fine sermon you heard on the first holy day at the UCG Feast site in Bend, Oregon!  ;-)

22 October. AUSSIE FEASTS. Mail: Business in disguise, Halloween, COG extinction, gaps writer offers comment, Islam.

FOTing in Oz: Crikey cobbers! Across the ditch (pronounced "deetch") a gaggle of competing coglets celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, according to a posting on the Original WCG board.

The writer attended no less than five: UCG (Noosa, Queensland), Fred Coulter's CBCG (Caloundra, Queensland), CESA (the CEM affiliate) on Bribie Island, Queensland, CGI (Ballina, New South Wales) and ICG (Nelson Bay, New South Wales).

Several others were listed: Restored Church of God - Hervey Bay, Queensland; Church of God (Hulme); CBCG - Victoria; LCG - Batemans Bay, NSW; UCG - Merimbula, NSW & Tasmania; Flurry's PCG - Coffs Harbour, NSW; Church of the Great God - Kiama, NSW and Messianic groups in Kempsey and Port Macquarie, NSW.


Nurturing narcissism: Whether in business or religion, which is business in disguise, I find this simple truth applies: "The First Generation founds it. The Second Generation maintains it. And the Third Generation loses it." 
I also found Bernie Schnippert's quotation "except of course, myself," both humorous and pathetic if that's how he really sees his world. Where is this school for Nurturing the Narcissist located? 


MD: Maybe he was just trying to be funny. If so, we can only admit that he probably makes a better accountant than a comedian.

The Plain Truth about Halloween? A few days ago, I sat down to write two or three paragraphs on the subject of Halloween (having read some nonsense on the subject on the website of a COG group). As it turned out, I soon found myself on a roll, and ended up writing about three PAGES worth of thoughts. I don't know whether or not Halloween is a big deal "Down Under", but, if you have the space, I'd like you to consider running this [article] for the benefit of... North American readers. I think it will add a little balance to the discussion.

Keith Stump

MD: Keith's Halloween article may, er, "spook" some COG traditionalists. 

Will COG groups become extinct? Bob Thiel recently criticized comments made by Alan Ruth comparing the fruit of the independent church movement and Alan's website with that of the organized churches of God.  Point 5 of Bob's rebuttal (10-3-03) states the following: "LCG has baptised 10-12 people per month this year. Do independents such as Ruth ever approach this?"

Bob makes a valid point here that I doubt anyone in the independent church of God movement can address, which is how many new people are attending and being baptized by the independent churches of God?  But Thiel also sidesteps a more important issue, the long term growth trends and viability of LCG, UCG and the other corporate WCG offshoots. 

Individuals interested in how and why churches grow and die should check out the following website: The author of the website Dr. John Hayward, a mathematics and statistics professor at the University of Glamorgan in Wales, posits various models to explain church growth.

Perhaps the most appropriate one to describe the COG scene and germane to Thiel's comments is the extinction model. Dr. Hayward states: "If the reproduction potential is under the extinction threshold the church will eventually become extinct. The extinction threshold is determined by the losses from the church: adults who leave, and children of believers who don't go on to be believers."

These other variables (adults who leave or die and the children of believers who don't go on to be believers) need to be carefully considered when discussing the growth prospects and the long term viability of any church.


Filling in the Gaps - addendum: One consideration I forgot to mention is this: many think the wholesale departure of thousands of Church members in the 1990s was singularly unique. From a time perspective, that is likely true. But the MPC statistics proved at least one thing: the Armstrongs themselves, Meredith, Apartian and other "old-timers" actually were responsible for MORE PEOPLE leaving the Church over time than were the Tkachs. The Armstrongs and Merediths of the world just took longer to drive people away. The French "Work" alone seemed to blow up regularly like clockwork. The sad truth is were it not for all the unexplained weirdness, mindless theology, clashing egos and whatnot, our little strange Church should have possessed membership and attendance figures somewhere between 500,000-600,000 in the late 1980s, perhaps even topping the one million figure if extended families had joined and stayed with the WCG and certain parts of the International Work had not gone terminally insane on a periodic basis.

In case someone asks "What about natural deaths of members being folded into that 150,000 figure?" The 1984 figure was adjusted for members who died while still listed as active Church members. The figure was actual numbers of people who attended and left (either voluntarily or disfellowshipped).

One MPC figure that I sometimes wondered about was which minister held the record for number of disfellowships? The automation of Church records in the 1960s and 1970s made for highly detailed record-keeping (One wonders whether the Church was able to retain and covert those records when they migrated to an AS-400 platform in the 1980s). The Armstrongs, Tkachs and others usually disfellowshipped through proxies (I.e., the local minister did the deed, not the administrators themselves in order to limit potential liability and legal exposure).

Thanks again for your consideration. As previously mentioned, I possess no agenda on behalf of any organization or splinter, and intensely dislike any "mean-spirited" comments. Your site remains refreshing regarding the latter.

MD: These comments come from the writer of Filling in the Gaps.

Islam: (1) Karen Armstrong's "Islam, A Short History" is basically regarded by many as a lightweight apologetic work, rather than a concise examination of Islam... You may have said you could do worse than to read Armstrong's book, you could have done better by reading Ibn Warraq's "Why I'm Not A Muslim" and Serge Trifkovic's "The Sword of the Prophet". Warraq, who is a Muslim turned secular humanist, and Trifkovic, a Serbian Orthodox Christian, examine Islam's real history and teachings and come to similar negative judgments about it. Both state that Islam is a brutal religion that denigrates non-Muslims, that it stifles intellectual growth by saying "if it's not in the Koran or Hadiths (extra teachings of Mahomet not found in the Koran), it's not worth knowing", it demands eternal warfare, (Jihad) against pagans, infidels, Christians, and Jews simply because they are not Muslims, considers women valuable only for reproduction, (causing many Muslim men to seek out sodomite relationships for pleasure), and it is totalitarian, controlling every little action that a person might take in minute detail. (Hint: you got to do it exactly like Mahomet, the Koran, and the hadiths, or Allah won't be pleased.) You and the Mailbag readers should take a look at both books to be better informed about Islam. After all, many years ago, many of us failed to critically examine HWA's 'Koran and hadiths' and many paid too high a price for their lack of critical thinking.

Steve Dalton

MD: Sorry Steve, I think you've presented another cartoon caricature of Islam. To begin with it isn't a monolithic faith but very diverse. Sweeping generalizations, especially (ahem) "polemic" ones, do scant justice to the subject. Some of the statements you make are pure nonsense, as you'd quickly discover if you were to dig a little more deeply. Middle Eastern societies certainly have a less salubrious side, but I suspect you'd be rightly incensed if someone attacked your Catholic faith based on the alleged moral proclivities of, say, Italians.

Karen Armstrong is hardly an "apologist", she is a former Roman Catholic nun and currently teaches at London's Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism. She has written on Buddhism as well as Islam. It's sad that a respectful, fair-minded scholarly approach that attempts to get behind the stereotypes can be pigeonholed - and thus dismissed - so easily. And having read both Karen Armstrong's A History of God and Islam, I don't think anyone could fairly categorize either as "lightweight". 

We'll let Scott Ashley have the closing word though. No further correspondence on this subject at this time.

(2) In response to your question, yes, I've researched a number of works on Islam from scholarly and academic sources--including Karen Armstrong's book that you recommended and several books by Bernard Lewis, whom another letter-writer mentioned. I'd recommend these books to anyone wanting to better understand the subject.

The drawback, of course, is that academic works by their nature focus much more on the personalities and history of Islam than on its teachings and what motivates its adherents. Thus I've also read many books that focus on those aspects, not the least of which is the Koran itself.

I began my study of Islam after 9/11 to try to understand what motivated the 19 suicide hijackers, most of whom were Saudi nationals and devout Muslims, to fly airliners into buildings. After all, that isn't normally considered a religious act and I wanted to understand their thinking.

One of the first things I read was Osama bin Laden's communiqués, in which his religious views as a Muslim are quite clear. I also regularly read nearly everything I can find by the Middle East Media Research Institute (, which translates articles from the Arab press into English, and I've read dozens of commentaries by Dr. Daniel Pipes (, former instructor at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and the U.S. Naval War College who was recently appointed by President Bush to the United States Institute of Peace.

While I had previously considered Islam to be a peaceful religion, my study changed my previous assumptions. I found out precisely what was motivating the suicide hijackers, the suicide bombers who regularly make the news as they try to kill as many Israelis as possible, and Muslims who are behind wars going on all around the fringes of the Islamic world in such places as Kashmir, Chechnya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Tajikstan and the Philippines. It all makes perfect sense when we understand what the Koran teaches and what fundamentalist Muslims believe.

I think your readers would do well to read the material themselves and draw their own conclusions. I did, and I concluded that I could not trust what the mass media, Muslims and even the U.S. and other Western governments are telling us about Islam.

And yes, I'm also aware of the gruesome history of the Crusades. But, as any work on Islam's history will explain, the first of Islam's two major bloody waves of expansion took place around 700 A.D.--long before the Crusades. During that expansion, Muslims took Spain and reached as far as Paris before being turned back. The Crusades, several centuries later, were motivated at least in part by self-defense and Catholicism's desire to regain control of the Holy Land, which they had held for centuries before Muhammad came along with his new religion. As some historians recognize, the Crusaders themselves had ample precedent in their brutality from the earlier Muslim armies.

Scott Ashley
mildly (or massively) moribund missive-mailer ;)


PSN on Shea's departure: Pity poor Joe Tkach. Even while he's doing his best to "get away from it all" by slumming it on the Mexican Riviera, the bad news just keeps piling up. The following excerpts come from the Pasadena Star News, and provide further detail on the exit of SheaHomes from the campus sale. Never mind, just as well the church's resident financial genius, the indispensable (according to the man himself) Bernard Schnippert, is on hand to provide the appropriate bluster.

The Worldwide Church of God announced Friday that Shea Homes will no longer oversee plans to develop the former Ambassador College property, raising questions about whether the project will face delays, or possibly suffer the fate of an earlier and unsuccessful development proposal.

Neither the church nor Shea Homes is commenting on why they parted ways, except to say the recent decision to reassign project manager Bob Yoder played a role in the decision. Yoder was a key player in developing the Ambassador plan.

"As a result of Shea Homes' decision to reassign its project manager and other contract issues, Shea Homes' involvement will not continue into this next phase,' said church Director of Finance and Planning Bernard Schnippert in a written statement. Yoder could not be reached by phone Friday. Calls to his office were referred to Shea Homes president Les Thomas, who said he would not comment on the matter.

Schnippert said he would not discuss what specific contract issues were in dispute, but did say the plan for the 46-acre property will move forward without delay. "We own all rights to the plan and all the rights involving any work they did for us,' Schnippert said. "I expect we'll go forward frankly without any interruption.' ...

"This is not a positive development,' said Councilman Steve Madison after hearing the news. He said Shea Homes gave the community a sense of comfort because of its history developing projects in Pasadena that show a sensitivity to preservation and other community concerns. "Clearly, there is a vacuum that needs to be filled,' said Madison, who represents the area where the campus is located. "This is a mammoth proposal and it is going to demand the best minds available to ensure the project is shepherded through appropriately.'

Humility personified:

 "We could have any single member of the team leave, except, of course, myself, and it really wouldn't create any delay or problem,' Schnippert said.

It is the second time a developer has prepared a plan for the Ambassador campus only to be dropped from the project. Last year, Legacy Partners of Irvine abandoned plans to buy the property from the church after three years of negotiation fell apart... the split has left some in the city concerned about the project's ultimate fate. "It is such a large project and such an important project that is does concern me to have instability on the development team,' said Councilman Victor Gordo. "I hope this isn't an emerging pattern,' Gordo added. "This is now two times that the property owner has not been able to move forward with a significant business partner in the deal.' ....

The Legacy Partners plan proposed building 1,700 homes on the property, but neighborhood protest and the disagreement over a sale price eventually sunk the project. Schnippert vowed the church would move forward with a new project, acting as its own developer. It was decided to scale down the number of houses and an extensive public outreach campaign was conducted. The current plan has yet to win over the influential West Pasadena Residents' Association, which represents homeowners around the campus.

WPRA officials seized upon the news that Shea Homes was leaving as developer as proof that the church's plan is out of step with the community. "They've run through two well- respected developers and they are still far from an acceptable project,' said Charles McKenney, WPRA board member. "I don't think anybody should be surprised.'

Michael Vogler, president of Save South Orange Grove, a group formed to file a lawsuit if an unpopular project is adopted, speculated that Shea Homes left because the plan is not economically viable. His group and the WPRA say the church still wants to build too many houses for the area. "I would be shocked if the church continued without a development consultant,' Vogler said. "I don't think it would be in anybody's best interest.'

Schnippert said the church has not decided yet if it will hire another development consultant for the project... "We could have any single member of the team leave, except, of course, myself, and it really wouldn't create any delay or problem,' Schnippert said.

Schnippert denied the decision to move ahead without Shea Homes was financial and said that the church is well-positioned to complete the process as planned.

"We're not trying to penny-pinch at all,' he said. "Do we have the money to get the job done and to do it right? The answer is yes.'

We wonder whether either SheaHomes or Legacy share Bernie's exalted view on his own significance. 

Filling in the gaps: MD received a fascinating letter following the last upload. Rather than publish it in the mailbag section, we've placed it on it's own page. It answers a number of questions about events in the dying days of HWA's reign, and a few more about the Senior Tkach's administration.

* How Herb kept information from the members that was scheduled for The Worldwide News.

* Why WCG chose to pay taxes on the Pasadena campus despite its tax exempt status.

* Joe Senior's secret "dream" to relocate the cult to Texas.


Slamming Islam COG style: I'm glad to see that UCG functionaries are reading Ambassador Watch. It helps ministers and other church of God flunkies to keep things in perspective. In the insulated world of Church of Goddom, ministers believe they are God's gift to the brethren. It's good to see that every now and then some of them venture out into the real world, where they can see how insignificant they really are, and how little their so-called "work" accomplishes. I wish there was some way to find out how many church of God ministers really believe in what they are doing, how many remain because they are addicted to the power and approbation given them by the members, and how many know better, but are working only until they have saved enough to retire.

My, how sensitive Scott Ashley is! In the usual Church of God ministerial manner, Scott doesn't take criticism well...

If Scott's article really was a polemic rant, my compliments to him. A polemic rant would inject some life into the moribund Good News magazine, probably the second most boring publication in all of Church of Goddom (anything produced by the David Hulme Church of God is first). I won't bother reading it because, as 20 years of experience has shown, Church of God ministers generally are not qualified to address the topics they write and speak about. My Islamic and Middle Eastern scholar of choice is Bernard Lewis. Of course, you have to pay for Mr. Lewis' books, while Scott's magazine is free, but you get what you pay for.


MD: In the interests of accuracy it's only fair to note that Scott Ashley's articles on Islam have been published in The Journal (which does carry a subscription price) rather than the GN.


Your post-FOT news fix: Various items from the AW in-tray.

1. Estranged members come calling: The former Ambassador College campus in Pasadena has had an unusually high number of visitors in recent days. Prospective buyers? Sadly not, at least from WCG's perspective. It seems most were en route to either Meredith's LCG feast site in San Diego, or David Hulme's. Other nostalgia seekers have been coming by during the week to see the campus and remember what it used to be like when the church was a focused, ambitious and thriving religious sect.

2. Budget cuts ahead: WCG income is down 11%, so beginning January 2004 there will be more lay offs and further budget cuts according to an unnamed but highly reliable source. Some of the field ministers will have salary reductions. Will the saintly Bernard Schnippert and his team be affected? Bernie's staff have reportedly received raises and bonuses even in the last couple of years - in marked contrast to most other church employees.

3. Bernie's puzzling campus lease: And speaking of Schnippert, is Bernie trying to open a car lot to store the new vehicles he's planning to buy with commissions from the campus sale (if and when it ever sells)? Work began during the 'Feast' break on just such a parking structure. Rusnak, a high end auto dealer one block from the campus, has leased campus property to store their vehicles. It will be filled with brands like Audi, Bentley, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, Porsche, Rolls Royce, and Volvo ("Ambassador Quality", Herb would approve!) A campus visitor observed security grills being installed by a fence company. A staff member for the company disclosed that these modifications were costing a cool $60,000. How strange that the sphinx-like Schnippert is on one hand telling the church he expects the property to sell in 6-8 months, while at the same time allowing a development like this to proceed. $60,000 is an awful lot to soak into a project just for a few months of storage.

4. Pastor dumped in Joplin: What is happening in the Joplin, Missouri WCG? Earlier this year District Superintendent Randy Bloom reportedly threatened the congregation with the loss of its pastor if offerings didn't pick up (not so long ago Joplin was generating an income in excess of $100,000 per annum, all of which went to Pasadena and most of which stayed there!) Bloom spelt out the new realities to the brethren. It would be "unethical" to take money from other churches to keep Joplin afloat (whereas it wasn't unethical to take money from Joplin in former years to keep Joe afloat). Result? The locals took it to heart, prayed and paid. Donations went up! 

Randy returned just recently. Was he going to, as some members anticipated, warmly congratulate the faithful members of the Joplin church on their attitude, sacrifice and dedication? Nope. According to two accounts we've read, he relieved local pastor Dan King (described on JLF as "a loyal HQ man" who did not feel "he could force the congregation to go to Sunday") of duties, effectively firing him. King himself was kept in the dark about his impending fate till the night before Bloom's public announcement. And what input and consultation did the local congregation have into this traumatic decision? Absolutely none it seems. Surprise, surprise!

5. Bye bye Shea: Ambassador Campus developer SheaHomes has gone the way of Legacy. See The Official Word below.

Unto the third generation: In a post-funeral pre-emptive strike, COGdom's newest claimant to greatness has firmly stamped his authority on the ICG and GTAEA. Mark Armstrong writes:

It is with a heavy sadness, I must write this letter, the first monthly letter ever to be sent from this Headquarters not written by my Dad, Garner Ted Armstrong... My Dad has made preaching the truth of God's work, his life's work, for nearly 50 years. Few will doubt his special gifts and his calling to perform that vital Work. [Too bad Mark didn't call for a show of hands on that one.] He has been the most effective speaker and author in modern times to clearly explain those ignored and misunderstood truths to this distracted and sin-sick world. His TV program continues to go out uninterrupted, and continues to receive enthusiastic response as always...

Many are asking what will happen to the Evangelistic Association, the Church, the publications and the television program. I see this as the greatest responsibility I've ever been given, [by whom we wonder? Have the ICG ministers voted in some kind of secret conclave?] and certainly hope that all of you will share this weight with me. My Dad has, in the most recent phase of his ministry, built a fine and thriving organization with loyal assistants and a solid base of people committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. We here at headquarters in Tyler intend to carry this Work and my father's messages forward as long as God provides the strength and support. There will be NO changes in doctrine or policy. The Sabbath, the holy days, and the true doctrines of God's Church will continue to be honored and observed...

My Dad has been blessed with excellent men who will continue to serve the people and I respect all of them, as did he, and will call often upon them for help and advice.

Some have urged that I hurry to the fore, and begin to assume my father's role. I hope you will understand when I say his shoes are HUGE. For now, I will do my best to step up to the plate as it's required and appropriate. But for these many years I'm proud to say that I've been his right hand man. I hope I'll always be his right arm, realizing that he needs me now in ways he didn't before...

Some have asked about the work of the Watchman. My answer is that the prophetic understanding laid out so clearly and so often by Garner Ted Armstrong is PERMANENT and TIMELESS!... I know that you respected and admired my Dad greatly. How could you not? [obviously meant as a rhetorical question, but we suspect there are those who'd jump at a chance to answer it!] We will repair to the wisdom and insight God gave him often, but reserve our reverence for God the Father and Jesus Christ. He never intended that anyone revere him, or any man, and often admonished, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible!" Also, "Follow me as I follow Christ." ...

Thank you all for your love, prayers and support. I promise you that the fulfillment of my Dad's Work, God's Work, will not be neglected with God's guidance and the support [$$$] of so many of you dedicated co-workers and "Fellow-laborers in God's Work," to quote a phrase. Thank you on behalf of myself, my Mom and yes, Garner Ted Armstrong.

Sincerely, in Jesus' Name,

Mark Armstrong

P.S. Our most sincere thanks to those who make this Work possible. A relative minority provide the means for the vast numbers of those who receive our materials, having never contributed. Again, thanks to all those who remain active in this end-time Work.

In the most recent issue of The Journal, David Barrett wrote:

Among other questions, I asked [GTA] if he had made any plans for a smooth succession in his own church, perhaps to one of his sons. He replied that there were other ministers in the CGI [which he was still running at that time] who could take up the TV ministry... but that "none of my sons are in any way being 'groomed' to succeed me in any fashion whatsoever."

Ted obviously forgot to tell Mark. 

Whether Chipper has a fraction of what it takes to rally the troops behind Armstrongism's "First Family" remains to be seen. Judging from his early missives it seems he has few of the literacy skills (let alone literary skills) of either Pa or Grandpa. It would be a brave pundit who was willing to predict that ICG will still be in one piece 6 months down the track.

The missing multitudes: An attendee at a UCG FOT in Panama Beach, Florida, cites a sermon by Richard Pinelli as the source of the following information:

A 1984 WCG study [estimated] that more than 150,000 people came AND LEFT WCG between 1934-84. He noted the #1 topic UCG Pastors want discussed at Regional Conferences this fall-winter will be "tiredness" - overcoming weariness and lethargy from being in the "gun lap" for years.

The Ostrich Syndrome: Earlier this month the following comments appeared on the Original WCG Yahoo forum.

Herb and friend at restaurant  (photo from Ambassador Report)

HWA ate out at restaurants all the time. He had no problem eating put on Friday nights or on the Sabbath, whether in town in Pasadena or when he traveled around the world. He also had no problem making his cook fix him breakfast, lunch and dinner on the Sabbath.  None of that food was ever prepared a day ahead of time either. He also never had a problem when he traveled to foreign countries with 'unclean' meats. He ate what was put in front of him when it was served. Of course, if there was any way possible in telling a host that he could not eat certain things they did, but it was never an issue! He also never had a problem with watching television or movies on the Sabbath, which he did almost every single Saturday when he was home! He also never had a problem with drinking water, coffee, and orange juice on Atonement!

Big deal, you might think. But the shrieks of outrage were quick to follow.

None of this has been proven, it is word of mouth allegation... 

YES, Please STOP! I am finding these statements to be very contridictory (sic) to what I remember of Mr. Armstrong. 

Where did you ever get these ideas?!!!?

I don't know from what source you got this information, but you had better change your source. It seems to me that someone has been feeding you a lot of lies...

Which in turn led group moderator Henrik Blunck to respond with the OWCG version of a disfellowshipment.

Sorry brethren - one more to go into Moderation. From time to time we get these people who want to stir up trouble. We will only release future mails from this person IF the person repents or writes statements that are in accordance with Forum Policy...

Repent - for what? Telling the truth? Too bad "Forum Policy" seems to mean suppressing anything that threatens the web of naive myths hard-line traditionalists maintain against all evidence to the contrary. The writer of the original remarks was prevented from providing follow-up comments on OWCG, however he was able to respond on another board.

I was one of many people that worked in HWA's home for many years. I know what he did in his home. I know for a fact that he watched television on Saturdays before he came down to services and that he watched it afterwards. He loved old shoot-um-up Westerns. 

Since I served at the dinners in his home I know what he had his cook do in preparing his food on Saturdays. 

I know what he did when he came to the Auditorium on Atonement where he drank the coffee, juice or water. 

I know that he loved to eat at Monty's Steak House here in Pasadena. He ate there on Friday nights and Saturdays many, many times. Perrino's and the Brown Derby were two of his other favorite restaurants that he would also eat at on Friday nights and Saturdays. Did he do this all the time? No. But the fact is, he did do it! ...

Who's 'blaming' HWA for these things? I think it is great that he had sense enough to not take things to the extremes as many ministers/members have done over the years and STILL do. (Just look at the silly debate raging on [originalwcg] over whether one should go out to eat at restaurants on Saturdays.) He does get blamed though for allowing other abusive ministers to lay down legalistic laws and regulations that placed the spiritual lives of members in jeopardy if they ever got caught doing these things.

It amazes me how COG people love to stick their heads in the sand. HWA was contradictory! He would preach one thing and do another... The members who lived out in the field churches had no idea what HWA did. Lay members heard the whitewashing that Waterhouse, Blackwell, Hoeh, Meredith and others did concerning HWA. They all knew what he did in real life, but figured the 'dumb sheep' could not handle the truth.

Sadly, as the ballistics on OWCG demonstrate, the "dumb sheep" still can't.

Advice from former Payroll Supervisor: MD was contacted by Van Robison recently. Mr. Robison is a former Ambassador College (Pasadena) Payroll Supervisor who resigned in 1974. The issue on Mr. Robison's mind: tithing. More specifically he endorses a book called Lie of the Tithe. A website called The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy was also referred to.

The Agony of Ambassador Campus: In case there's anyone out there who still cares, here's the latest development in the much frustrated sell off of all the assets WCG members bankrolled through the years. The story appeared in the Pasadena Star News, October 14, while Joe Tkach was away on his non-FOT/FOT Mexican Riviera cruise.

Five mansions on the Ambassador College campus will enjoy the protections that come with historic landmark status, the Pasadena City Council decided Monday night. The Worldwide Church of God decided to seek the Ross Grove Landmark District, the city's sixth, as an olive branch to the preservation community, which has strongly opposed plans to develop more than 1,400 housing units on the campus.

"I think everybody wants to see those homes survive the wrecking ball,' said Bernie Schnippert, a spokesman for the church. "Frankly the most financially profitable way to dispose of them would be to sell them for development at 14 units per acre. But we said when we began that we were going to preserve these homes, and we're doing exactly what we said.' ... Landmark status means that any alteration to a home that can be viewed from the street must gain city approval. The Ross Grove Landmark District is the city's smallest. The homes were built between 1892 and 1911, and have been used over the last half century as housing for church leaders.

The district has been welcomed by neighborhood associations and preservationists, but it has not blunted their criticism of the larger project. Mike Vogler, executive director of Save South Orange Grove, said the church proposed the district only reluctantly, after intense pressure from Pasadena Heritage and other groups. Though landmark status will make it much harder for future owners to alter the facades of the homes or tear them down, Vogler feared the interiors could still be gutted and turned into condominiums or office space... Both sides are awaiting the release of a draft environmental impact report, which the city has said will come out on Nov. 1.

The official word: These PR announcements from Mathew Morgan. Buried in the text is the news that SheaHomes has gone. Oh dear!

Orange Grove Homes
Preparations to place five homes at the corner of South Orange Grove Boulevard and Del Mar Boulevard on the market are nearing completion. This will allow the Church to take advantage of the current strong residential market. We are pleased to announce that Chris Dickson and Diane Hardie of Dickson Podley Realtors will represent the Church in marketing these outstanding homes.  
We are happy to inform you that the City has approved the Church's application for a new Landmark District for these five homes. Named the Ross Grove Landmark District, this designation provides a method for ensuring that these historic homes retain their character in the future.   

"As a result of SheaHomes decision to reassign its project manager and other contract issues, the Church’s development team will no longer include SheaHomes." 

Ambassador Campus Entitlements 
We are quickly approaching the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIR) for our entitlement application. The EIR is an independent analysis required for many development projects by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to evaluate the potential affects of a new development on the environment, as well as to identify mitigation measures. 
As we move forward with the entitlement phase of the project approval process, the development team for the Ambassador Campus is being retooled.   Up to now, SheaHomes served as Master Development Consultant in the Church’s planning effort to create the Ambassador Campus’ new residential design. As a result of SheaHomes decision to reassign its project manager and other contract issues, the Church’s development team will no longer include SheaHomes. 
We are moving forward with the entitlement process without delay.  We are proud of the design which blends a quality residential development with acres of open space, mature trees, historical mansions, and hopefully, a reopened Ambassador Auditorium.


Polemic rant? Wow, Gavin, I'm flattered that I must've sent you to your thesaurus to look for words to describe my analysis of some of the teachings of Islam in the latest Journal. After all, "dubious and lengthy polemic rant" is quite a mouthful to describe the piece! 

Just so you don't run out of words do describe my work in the future, here are a few suggestions: "screed," "tirade," "diatribe," "outburst" and "harangue." Of these, my preference is "screed," as it has such a thoroughly slimy connotation. Besides, maybe you can work "Scott" and "screed" into the same sentence for a little alliteration.

Incidentally, if you or your readers will read the piece you'll find that nearly all of it is direct quotations or summaries from the Koran itself, with a couple of quotations from a book written by a former Shiite Muslim, Reza Safa. 

Scott Ashley
GN editor and raucous, raving rant-writer :) 

MD: While I normally keep a thesaurus handy, this time it wasn't necessary. Polemic is, after all, the style-of-choice for most COG writers - and I confess to being far from immune myself.

But tell me this Scott: have you bothered to read anything on Islam written from an objective or academic source? It's easy to quote passages from the Quran in a "proof texting" manner, but you're too knowledgeable a Bible reader not to realize that an equally strong parallel case can be made by simply quoting some of the more blood-soaked Old Testament exhortations.

If hitting the textbooks rather than lightweight fundamentalist apologetics (Reza Safa's book is published by Creation House) is a bit too time consuming for your busy schedule, you could always just flick across to the History Channel or PBS next time they screen the BBC series "The Crusades", which amply demonstrates that the worst excesses of Islam were in fact largely inspired by the vile example of "Christendom".

As for suggestions that Muslims actually worship "an ancient pagan moon god", that's about as logical as claiming that UCG members worship a fertility god because the word Elohim is related to the name of the Canaanite high god El.

Anyone interested in digging a little more deeply could do worse than starting with Karen Armstrong's "Islam: A Short History"

Slander? I think something is spiritually wrong with the people [who are] associated the upkeeping of this site... Why is so much slander (right or wrong) aimed at the two Armstrongs. Do they bother you?


MD: They bothered a lot of people Ivan. Why so much denial? And as always, if you find anything on this site to be factually incorrect, let us know and we'll correct it and, if appropriate, publicly apologize.

Something spiritually wrong? Quite possibly. Sanity has unexpected side effects.


Journal issue out: The latest issue of The Journal has been released and features a number of articles, letters and reminisces concerning Garner Ted Armstrong. Among those with contributions on the former WCG leader are Brian Knowles, Wayne Cole, James Tabor and Ian Boyne.

British sociologist David Barrett also writes about GTA, referring in several places to The Missing Dimension and correspondence in the AW mailbag section immediately before and following Ted Armstrong's death. MD is also cited in the Notes and Quotes section of the Journal regarding our published musings (01 October) on a special service at the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle.

Also notable is another dubious and lengthy polemic rant on the subject of Islam by GN editor Scott Ashley, including a dose of "prophetic" speculation.

A PDF file of the front and back pages of the new Journal is available at

Remembering Ted: GTA may be gone, but his voice lives on. Not only in online sermons and broadcasts, but even in song: We have Ross Jutsum to thank for this composition (which just goes to prove that anybody can have an off day.)

Ooch aye! The advertising section of The Journal draws readers' attention to a new Scottish COG website called Seventh Day Christians (UK). Art Mokarow reveals that God dresses modestly in white garments and has curly hair (we kid you not!). Timothy Michael Devine of Saint Cloud, Florida reveals that he, and not Herb, is the real End Time Elijah! His qualifications?

The end-time Elijah is truly a “voice crying in the wilderness.” Incessant, massive persecution during the last 40 years of trials and tests left him isolated and penniless. Silver and gold has he none. He would be living in a cave if there were any mountains in Florida. Therefore, efforts to make contact may be difficult. His mail is always tampered with, sent back undeliverable, and even responded to as if it were from him saying he is “out of business” or some such lie. Phone calls are electronically intercepted, plagued with constant rings, busy signals, or a phony answering machine giving a false message. But keep trying. If all that fails, just come to the above address. To counteract efforts to keep him isolated, he is scheduling regular meetings so that anybody can just drop in.

Sounds like a really balanced, grounded chap huh!

We wish those MD readers celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles a pleasant and rewarding festival season, and a safe journey.

The next AW upload is scheduled for October 19


CGOM on GTA: James McBride, an early associate of Garner Ted Armstrong in CGI, writes: The silencing of his powerful radio and television voice - heard around the world for nearly half a century -  leaves a hole in the worldwide preaching of the true Biblical message (Outreach Newsletter). Whether GTA ever understood "the true Biblical message", let alone preached it, is a moot point with many ex-Worldwiders.

We gather McBride, who now leads the CGOM affiliate COG-UK, is going into hospital shortly for heart valve surgery. We wish him a speedy recovery. 

With apologies to Dr. Seuss: The following verse by Anne Hanna appeared on JLF, described as a little “dramatic” recitation for the Fall Festival season.


From his ivory tower, aloof and alone 
A Ruler looked down from high on his throne. 

He looked and he looked then said in dismay, 
I don’t like my people looking this way. 

I’ve told them to choose, but they get it all wrong, 
They can’t even select the right kind of song. 

I’ve given them hints and “suggestions” with more just of late. 
Why aren’t they changing, they’ve had years, more than eight? 

Surely, truly they will do as I say, 
Oh why can’t those “other ones” just go away? 

Though I’ve said days don’t matter, that’s really not true, 
But when I made those promises the sale was in view. 

Time for something stronger
the Ruler then thought, 
Though his kingdom’s ruined from wars he had fought. 

Tabernacles is dead, though I’ve not told them such, 
But then they can only handle so much. 

I’ve ignored their wishes, but it’s for their own sake, 
After all you “don’t feed baby a porterhouse steak”. 

Then some disturbing reports did appear, 
The Ruler was unhappy; Wasn’t this settled last year? 

But never you mind, I’ll stomp it right out, 
We can’t have those customs hanging about. 

Then it’s far out to sea on a lovely white ship, 
But I won’t call it Tabernacles. No! Not one bit!! 

There’ll be laughing and singing and dramas galore, 
And I’ll forget all about that mess back on shore. 

So give me a break I’m really quite beat, 
From letting the pastors back home take the heat. 

I have my critics, maybe more than a few, 
But it’s not like my job’s ever up for review. 

So I'll have a great Festival with nothing to fear, 
Cause I’m almost certain the end is quite near.

Bringing in the sheaves: On a more serious note, Independent COG member Pam Dewey has produced a FOT "devotional" booklet. That may be a first! The booklet is available as a PDF file.


Meredith on healing: (1) Lord knows there is much to criticize in Rod Meredith's theology and leadership style, but to round out the picture of the welcome evolution of his understanding of healing, it is fair to point not only to the ludicrous hair-splitting that allowed him to have his 1970 "reparative" eye surgery and his current wife's recent health problems, but also to remember that he lost his first wife, Margie McNair Meredith, to cancer in 1976 after she absolutely refused surgery and other conventional medical treatment.


(2) If we look at healing from an historical context, we can see why the early WCG teaching regarding doctors and medical treatment was such a farce. From what I read, Simon Magus's magic was more effective than HWA's so-called miracles! God didn't let Moses hang out there high and dry in the face of Pharaoh's magicians, either. He gave Moses solid evidence of his power to reinforce the demand for freedom. If real divine healing was ever a viable alternative, one would have to be a fool not to take advantage of it. What person in their right mind would choose to take off from work, enter a hospital, get cut up and medicated, and undergo a lengthy convalescence when the alternative was instant divine healing? Imagine the difference in convenience alone! 

You have to play life by the percentages. Medical science does not offer 100% success. However, the success rate of divine healing in the WCG was so low that it didn't even register statistically. The few apparent successes were explainable by other more scientific means. This was yet another "blessing" that was promised by HWA, and of course, completely undeliverable. Its almost universal failure was blamed on lack of faith. If divine healing had been a verifiable and regular phenomenon, with only occasional failure, perhaps the lack of faith explanation would have been rational. Had this healing actually been taking place, not only would people have been literally kicking down the doors to get in, but it is also extremely doubtful that anyone would ever have left the WCG! I am happy that Rod has seen the light, and corrected one item of his false teaching. But, aren't he, and other false prophets like him, responsible for the deaths of those who followed his earlier teaching?   

Bob Evans


LCG rethinks healing: Roderick Meredith has "clarified" the LCG's healing doctrine in a recent Living Church News article:

Praying to God, having faith in God and at the same time doing "our part" and getting physical care are not mutually exclusive! Even Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong got full medical treatment during the last few years of his life—as has been well documented... Viewing carefully Mr. Armstrong’s example, and studying carefully the entire Bible on the subject of healing, we see that a "balanced" approach to this topic is both correct and more truly "Christian" than some of the extremes of the past.

And how's this for a little bit of creative Bible commentary?

And though the Apostle Paul certainly must have anointed and prayed for this outstanding young evangelist whom he regarded as a "son in the Lord," he also prescribed for Timothy "a little wine" for his illness. Red dinner wine contains a natural antibiotic similar to penicillin. It would have helped combat the bacteria Timothy often ingested from drinking the local water in that warm, Mediterranean climate.

... when the hand of affliction hovers near someone important, it's amazing how quickly the scribes and Pharisees can find a handy escape clause.

Rod might be a slow learner, but it's nice to see he gets there in the end, at least once in a while. Dare we wonder, though, if his wife's "recent health trial" might have played a role in the rethink? Common garden variety members are naturally dispensable, as many have found out to their cost, but when the hand of affliction hovers near someone important, it's amazing how quickly the scribes and Pharisees can find a handy escape clause.

Related page: Meredith's 1970 eye operation

Every home should have one: With thousands of eager prospective members banging on the doors of ICG ministers and hosts each day, it's good to know that the brethren are prepared! Instructions on the ICG website show how you can build your very own collapsible plywood baptismal pool

COG7 beats the tithing drum: The October Bible Advocate is out, and the focus is on finances. This quote from the feature article by LeRoy Dais:

Some folks feel they cannot afford to tithe. The reality is, we can't afford not to tithe. God's promise in Malachi 3:10 is not outdated.

And this from another article:

The fourth principle for generating wealth is the concept of giving. Does it seem illogical that a person can add to his account by subtracting from it? The principle is called tithing - giving away 10 percent of your income to help others. God promises that if we give generously as He has given to us, we will be flooded with His blessings.

Some of us have heard that before. Of course, by "to help others" most COGs clearly mean their particular sect, not - heaven forbid! - the Red Cross or Greenpeace.  The Whistler's recent article on tithing, however, is a salutary reminder that you can be completely faithful to a literal reading of the Bible and not feel guilty about an archaic and legalistic "10% law". Could somebody please send a copy to LeRoy Dais?

Search MD: You can now search the MD site for specific content. There are search boxes at the bottom of the AW and home pages.


Antion on COG "government": David Antion has an excellent article refuting Roderick Meredith's fuhrer principle of one-man rule in the church, "What is God's Form of Church Government?".  The article is worth reading and should be sent to every member of LCG still dumb enough to believe that genuflecting before a church leader and believing everything he says is somehow pleasing to God.



New Book Recommendation from Dateline Pasadena

Click on the cover for details at Amazon. More titles on the book page

Adolescence and cults: One of the common elements that many ex-first generation WCGers share is recruitment into the church as teens. An online article by Eagan Hunter explores the issue of adolescent attraction to cults.

Traditionally, young people have been critical of, and impatient with, the established values and behavior patterns of society. They desire change, and experience frustration when it does not occur. Their idealism leads them to believe that those in power, as well as established institutions, have failed to meet the legitimate needs of various groups. To them, social problems and their solutions stand out in stark clarity.

In addition, during adolescence higher-order thinking skills become engaged; it is a time of intellectual curiosity, of seeking truth. Youths are intellectually and spiritually open to new ideas. Unfortunately, they have not achieved the balance of experience and maturity that would enable them to sort truth from illusion and reality from fantasy in all situations. They have not gained sufficient sophistication to evaluate - critically and methodically - complex philosophies.

Many youth movements play upon this naive idealism and intellectual curiosity. The young person may be challenged to answer the clarion call to join a group that professes to offer a vision of a perfect society, one in which all injustices are rectified. After all, how could any self-respecting person, caring for the world and its people, not be willing to give this "new way" a try?

Sound familiar?

The personality profile of an adolescent susceptible to cult overtures might include identity confusion or crisis; alienation from family; weak cultural, religious, and community ties; and feelings of powerlessness in a seemingly out-of-control world... Youths are compensating for unfulfilled needs (e.g., love, sense of belonging), the lack of which hinders the development of self-esteem, social competence, and mastery of life tasks. In turn, this generates attempts to gain approval and recognition... cults are most successful in recruiting individuals between 18 and 23 years of age, when persons are most likely to be seeking "perfect" answers to life's questions and problems. Because of their immaturity, they fail to take into account the long-term consequences of cult membership.

And again:

The terms "church," "sect," and "cult" should be distinguished. Church usually is applied to specific religious organizations. A sect is an offshoot of a particular religious body, whose members prefer to follow doctrines or teachings that differ from the parent group. A cult exhibits many of the characteristics of a sect. However, it represents a major and abrupt break with the past. A cult is viewed by its members as the climax of history, and often emphasizes devotion to a single person. Legitimate movements withstand the test of time to prove their authenticity.

The entire article, originally published in the Fall 1998 issue of Adolescence, is available at

Telling it straight: One of the nice things about being freed from a legalistic religion (including one that claims it is no longer legalistic while still continuing to oppress its members) is being able to put a position at variance from the pastor's or church leader's without the fear of being stomped on. Enter the Whistler, who found himself sitting through a sermon promoting the practice of tithing. What did he do? How did the preacher respond? Read his account, the latest addition on the Whistler site.


Joey begs some more: The October member letter from non-mandated, un-elected Pastor General-for-life Joseph Tkach includes another appeal for extra funds.

P.S. Again I ask that you please give serious thought to the urgent denominational need for your financial support during this transition period before the implementation of the new financial model. If we are to move into our future as a cohesive worldwide fellowship, we must continue to have patience until the Pasadena property sale is complete. Your faithful donations to the denomination now will help ensure the long-term vitality of your congregation as part of a larger body of like-minded believers. It is crucial that we all wait just a little longer, until the sale is complete, for the sake of the whole body, before keeping our donations locally. Brothers and sisters, thank you for your understanding about this, and for the patience of Job you have already shown.

This follows a similar appeal last month which apparently convinced very few. To use an analogy many New Zealanders are familiar with, sheep dog trials, the dogs may yap and bark, but a stubborn sheep can have a mind of its own. 

Just wondering: How come it's okay for Auckland's most prominent Baptist church, the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle, to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with a special service, and yet it's not okay for Worldwide Church of God members to as much as use that term to describe the "events" organized around this time of year? 

Updates in October: With the preoccupations of the Feast of Tabernacles bearing down for many people, news tends to become a little scarce. As a result AW uploads will probably be less frequent for a while - once or twice a week. AW will take a complete break over the FOT period (October 11-18).

Hitbox stats for September showed 58,500 pages viewed, well up from the previous high in January of 43,100. Last September the figure was 25,800.


Soap Opera: I want to thank you for this site.  It is the best guide to my favorite soap opera available.  Keep it coming...


Canon article: Just wondering [after reading the canon article] what evidence you have that Jude 14 was quoted from any book extant at the time of its being written. There seems to be no doubt that the passage referred to was handed down by tradition.

John LeGare

MD: Perhaps these references might help. "This quotation from the Apocalypse of Enoch (1 Enoch 1:9), along with allusions elsewhere shows that Jude held it in high regard, as many Jews did." Bauckman, Jude. In HarperCollins Bible Commentary (Mays, ed), 1988, 2001. 

Also: "Enoch was considered authoritative in some circles, including early Christian groups, and the New Testament Epistle of Jude quotes from it (v.14)." Pearson. Parallel Paths to Heaven: Noah & Jesus. In Bible Review (Biblical Archaeology Society), April 2003.

Letter policy: When MD was first launched there were only a few correspondents willing to put their names to published emails. Since then a greater openness has developed, and named letters are becoming much more common. However we still understand that some people may not be comfortable with their names appearing. A problem arises when it isn't clear whether a writer wishes to remain anonymous or not.

If an email is received which is signed at the bottom it will, if published, usually appear under that name unless there is a note attached which asks for anonymity. When signing a letter, writers have a variety of options from full name to initials, and everything in between (e.g. Bart Simpson, B. Simpson, Bart S., BS ...) If the email is unsigned at the bottom it will, if published, usually appear anonymously, unless the writer has already expressed their willingness to have their name attached. Letters are published at the the webmaster's discretion and may be edited for clarity and content.

MD often receives mail that is "not for publication." This is always respected. Just be sure to clearly state that the content is private. 

The MD Yahoo group can be found at: 

email MD: email Dateline Pasadena: 


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