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Issue 46 - January-February 2004

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

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UCG flirts with Mizoram COG: Some time ago we drew attention to the keen Sabbatarians in the Indian state of Mizoram, and published a brief review of a book (Across the Sabbath River) that deals with the widespread belief in that area that the people there are a lost tribe of Israel (Manasseh, would you believe?). The review even quoted a couple of excerpts that mentioned a group called The Church of God. Here's one:

Once they realized they were not going to Israel. they left the UPC [United Pentecostal Church] and founded a church of their own, called the Church of God. The break occurred when Chala instructed them to observe the Old Testament Sabbath in place of the Christian Sunday. Subsequently they stopped eating pork and reinstituted biblical sacrifice on a hilltop outside the village...  p.181

Interesting then that the United Church of God Council of Elders discussed Mizoram and a COG group there this month. Here is part of the minutes for February 26.

Contact with the Church of God, Israel

Joel Meeker presented a short video and an overview of a trip with David Baker to India. The purpose of the trip was to become better acquainted with a group called the Church of God, Israel...

The Church of God, Israel is a group of approximately 200-300 located in the province of Mizoram in the foothills of the Himalayas in eastern India. Their doctrinal beliefs are remarkably similar to our teachings in most respects and they have expressed interest in becoming part of the United Church of God. Mr. Baker asked Mr. Meeker to accompany him on a visit because of Mr. Meeker's experience with the former Remnant Church of God in Ghana.

Mr. Baker had visited them about a year and a half ago and both he and Mr. Meeker were received as "long, lost brothers". They were invited to visit each of the church members in their homes. Both Mr. Baker and Mr. Meeker gave sermons in their Sabbath service and on Sunday they participated in a lengthy question and answer session in which they were able to explain some of United's fundamental beliefs. Mr. Meeker expressed that they felt very much like they were with brethren.

Mr. Meeker commented on a few of the doctrinal differences. For example, the COG, Israel observes just the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the 8th day (Last Great Day). Their women actively participate in church services, doing Bible readings and making announcements. So far, the most thorny issue seems to be their observance of Passover on the 15 th of the month. Mr. Meeker commented that it will take time for them to become better acquainted with United allowing both sides to judge our compatibility in doctrine and administration. Mr. Baker plans to visit once a year or so when he is in the area.

We wonder if the lads in Cincinnati would insist the Indian "brethren" adopt the ridiculous idea that Manasseh is the United States, and reject their own longstanding tradition of Israelite origin, before allowing them to join with UCG? While the Mizoram claim may be shaky (it is documented in some detail in Across the Sabbath River), it certainly has a lot more credibility than the British Israel theory.

New book on lost tribes: Forget Steve Collins. There's a new book, The Lost Tribes of Israel, that tackles the thorny issue of those lost tribes. The author, Tudor Parfitt, is Reader in Modern Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and Director of its Centre for Jewish Studies. That puts him a cut above the BI enthusiasts whose wild speculations still muddy the waters.

Each tribe of Israel claimed descent from one of the twelve sons of Jacob and the land of Israel was eventually divided up between them. Following a schism which formed after the death of Solomon, ten of the tribes set up an independent northern kingdom, whilst those of Judah and Levi set up a separate southern kingdom. In 721BC the ten northern tribes were ethnically cleansed by the Assyrians and the Bible states they were placed: ‘in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan and in the city of Medes.’ The Bible also foretold that one day they would be reunited with the southern tribes in the final redemption of the people of Israel. Their subsequent history became a tapestry of legend and hearsay. The belief persisted that they had been ‘lost’ in some remote part of the world and there were countless suggestions and claims as to where. At a lecture Parfitt gave some years ago in Cape Town he was approached by a group of Africans who claimed to be members of the Lemba tribe from a mysterious lost city of Sena, and of Jewish descent. The final chapter will attempt to reveal, using a combination of linguistics and genetics, what did become of these lost tribes.



The Whistler,  MD's original columnist can be found at - see the last letter in today's mailbag.

Douglas Becker has launched a new website: His MD columns can now be found at a related address:

West campus plans: The following report comes from a Pasadena source.

The sale of the Pasadena property was announced to employees three hours after it closed escrow. It was only in escrow for 2 days. This sale deflates the West Pasadena Residents Association in their fight over the west side development.

One person in the know in Pasadena expects to see the West Campus sold soon. The reason they say this is that the East property was used in the past by Legacy and WCG as the leverage to get the development through. Now with it gone, there is no leverage to use for the West property. There is an extremely high chance that it will be sold to another school or a church (Foursquare Gospel?). This will mean that the hundreds of condos will not be built and the WPRA cannot attack it any further. A new school or church on the property can do what they want.

WCG is re-roofing numerous buildings. Others are being repainted on the outside. With the sale of the East side, all the Plant Maintenance personal and some equipment will be moving to the West side. Lots of equipment needed over the last few years is to be sold off. WCG will contract out remaining repairs if it is too large. By contracting out, they can now reduce further the maintenance staff.

The Watchman

The watchman of Israel peered out from his schloss,
Though walls might be crumbling he still was the boss.
And the rumble of hooves in the distance he heard
Did Assyria draw near in strength undeterred?

Or was hearing impaired, for nothing had stirred?
No Asshurs and flames but a noisy night bird
For strumpets were sounding and brazen the call,
Would the loudest confer the best deal of all?

Now chariots will come in their God-given time
But not at the whim of the whiners sublime.
A tessera one gets in exchange for much gold,
And imprison oneself in the watchman's' safe fold.

Now tomes ancient and musty did the preacher invoke,
While some secretly wished it would go up in smoke.
For great was the price of this moth-eaten work,
As the Doctors of Law grabbed their fee with a smirk.

Their coffers were full for the words that they said
And even the same could lie straight in each bed.
Thus the cry was most URGENT for the peasants to cough,
For here was a treasure and a priceless one-off.

And these words of right wisdom will the righteous take in
You have treasure in heaven though your savings are thin.
And the lap of the gun has been forty years long
"We need money now" is the time honored song.

For the vision is blurred to those of full sight,
Their optics are filthy and must be put right.
And the barkers shout loud in this gloomy side show
But the watchman authentic with the spirit does glow.

And the watchman has surely his foot on the throttle
Is this spirit rubescent all corked in a bottle?
For the chariots of fire should all be clamped and held tight,
And the vision is misty in the fullness of night.

Now this trumpet so blown has an uncertain sound
Will the people of earth know a prophet is round?
Round from the good things that each title now confers
And meanwhile four horsemen are sharpening their spurs.

For heavy are the fetters for the "knowing" and "wise"
Is their LOGOS for real or veiled in disguise?
We suggest that the spirits be tried in full measure
Who are out for the gold and the choicest of treasure.


Here we go again: The newly formed ICG splinter group, Church of God, Worldwide, has nailed its colors firmly to the mast with a bulletin written by George Trent, and available on its new website. In a novel approach, Trent claims divine inspiration for the original ICG By-laws. Excerpts.

… the By-Laws for the Organization had to be written using the Word of God as a foundation.  A careful search of the By-Laws of the Intercontinental Church of God, as written originally by Mr. Ted Armstrong, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were congruent, (fits perfectly,) with the law of God…

With the constant barrage of emails emerging from all points of the globe attacking various men in the ministry of the Church of God , it is evident that we are departing from the inspired words written in the covenant portion of our By-Laws …

A most recent sermon by Mr. James Lamb alludes to Mark Armstrong as God's anointed... Recently, several ministers have been MARKED and the church has been directed NOT to have contact with them under any circumstances.  Mr. Armstrong wrote in Article IX of the Constitution, "The Intercontinental Church of God rejects the traditional concept of "excommunication" or "marking" as practiced by various religious HIERARCHIES.

In Mark Armstrong's September 22, 2003 letter to the members, supporters and friends he stated that there would be NO changes in doctrine or policy.  In Mark's January 22, 2004 letter he outlines numerous changes to the Constitution and By-Laws (policy) for the Church.

It is evident that Mark Armstrong has had no previous experience in church affairs and has leaned heavily on counsel which is proving not to be sound.  Mr. Ted Armstrong would never have allowed the barrage of belligerent emails, telephone calls, and letters attacking the character and personalities of individuals, particularly ministers.  It flies in the face of the foundational document -- The Constitution and By-Laws for the Intercontinental Church of God.

All indications point to a shift toward the hierarchical type government formerly utilized by the Worldwide Church of God to control their people from questioning any policy or doctrinal changes. No member of God's Church should be censored or made to live in an authoritative regime, fearing the ministry as if they were policemen and afraid to ask a question.  I highly suspect the OPEN ARMS CHURCH philosophy will give way to a more regimental type of organization.  New prospects will be interrogated prior to being allowed to attend…

At first the Worldwide Church of God's By-Laws were congruent with the laws of God (in most cases, not all).  However, in 1986, after Mr. H. W. Armstrong passed away the STRUCTURE of the ORGANIZATION CHANGED!  With this change, the Organization and the Organism (the Church) were no longer congruent.  Thousands failed to see that.  They stayed with the WCG instead of focusing on the Head of the Church, which is Christ.  And now, once again, many can't get past the Organization (ICG) or the name Armstrong.  They have lost site of the Head of the Church and His Holy Word, once again…

For the greatest part of this century there has been an Armstrong preaching the gospel and bringing many to the TRUTH.  We learned the Word of God from them.  We have always been a part of the ORGANIZATIONS they and men who learned from them constructed. However, like Moses, they will not take us into the Kingdom of God

Already hundreds have contacted us asking what we were going to do, now that we have disassociated ourselves from the ORGANIZATION of the Intercontinental Church of God.  We are busily putting together an organization built upon the Holy Bible.  We are constructing the organization on the lines of the New Testament Church. No hierarchical government!  No one man in charge! No high salaried ministry!  No family members and friends dominating a Board!  No secret meetings! Only one non-profit organization performing both commissions of the WORK! …

God called many people into His Church in the latter part of this century.  Many, not all, became a part of the ORGANIZATION called the Worldwide Church of God.  When Tom [Kerry] began looking for a name he was amazed to find one name passed over by all the other groups.  It should have been taken right off the bat, but it wasn't.  I wonder why.  Imagine this, if you dare.  I have been hearing since the breakup of the Worldwide Church of God into many splinter groups, "Why don't we get back together?"  If you are waiting on the leaders to have a great meeting of all two hundred fifty leaders, FORGET IT!  It just isn't going to happen.  But, if God's people, all over the world, begin to choose Christ instead of the ORGANIZATION, what do we have?  That's right.  The Church of God , Worldwide, united again, in mind and in spirit.  Impossible?  Not with God.  We read in Rev. 19: 7"...and his BRIDE has made herself  ready."  What better way than to look to Christ, our Savior, Joshua to unite his people and to take them into the Kingdom of God .   Our mission will be to prepare God's people for that imminent return!

Oh, I almost forgot. [MD comment: yeah, right!] The name of our new group is Church of God, Worldwide.

Jack attack: While he may not have a profile in the US, former Auckland WCG pastor Jack Croucher still casts a long shadow in New Zealand. Some years ago The Eternal allegedly called Jack to launch his own independent ministry, and a gaggle of the faithful followed him into the wilderness. Now it seems JC is moving his group into a new outreach phase, with an ad appearing in The New Zealand Herald, and a website to promote his congregation, The Way Worship Centre.

Meanwhile, the Kiwi WCG operation seems to be in financial clover. The bonus bucks are a result of a fortunate investment rather than donations. Dennis Richards, pastor in the lower North Island, will be put back on the payroll, and the New Zealand church is even in the position to offer charitable aid to a poverty-stricken and needy third-world neighbor: Australia! Auckland pastor Rex Morgan writes:

Another resolution passed at the [NZ board] meeting was the offer of a loan to the church in Australia , in order to repair the roof of the Burleigh Heads office, which has been leaking for several months, causing the staff to have to use buckets to collect incoming water whenever it rains.

Our thanks to the two local readers who forwarded the above information.

As the Crow flies: Steve Kissack reports that George Crow of Houston, an elder in the old WCG who left to form the breakaway "Worldwide Church of God Texas", has recently taken his group into the UCG. Crow was apparently affiliated with Ray Wooten's United Christian Ministries for some time, and had been involved in early planning for the UCG breakaway. In the past, however, he is said to have been less than complimentary about UCG, but it seems times have changed. 

Weekly Mailbag

JLF - what's that? [JLF] sounds interesting. However I tried and got something about film and was also totally unrelated. Please clarify for me and others who may not be aware.

MD: You’ll find JLF – a discussion board at run by Mark Tabladillo – at

Think-for-yourself-ism: I've just read poor Dennis Diehl's "Gordian Knot" screed. It's so sad to see that he seems to have abandoned any and all recognizable form of Christianity in favor of his latest religious commitment to "Think-For-Yourself-Ism." While he derides Christians for supposedly not thinking for themselves but instead relying on religious authority, he doesn't seem to notice that his current beliefs and opinions are decidedly unoriginal. Rather, he relies on the religious authority of modern scholarly fads, including the feminist myth of a primeval matriarchal religion for which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever. But not to worry -- this time I'm sure Mr. Diehl has finally found The Truth.

Regarding "Accountability and orthodoxy," my observations weren't specifically about the WCG per se, but I agree that the WCG isn't truly "episcopalian." One of the dead giveaways is that they have no "bishops," only "elders" and "pastors" and whatnot -- almost anything but "bishop." But I do think their structure is closer to episcopalian hierarchy than anything else in Christian history. (It's really not a historical Christian polity at all, but a religious version of the structure of a modern American corporation or business, which is not surprising given Herbert Armstrong's background in business and lifelong devotion in mammon.) Anyway, until the WCG "pope" is elected at least by a board of elders, with some limits on power spelled out in bylaws or something, the WCG won't be truly episcopalian. The WCG "pastor general" or "president" (or whatever they call him these days) has vastly more power, comparatively speaking, than any Pope has ever wielded (though in actual fact most Popes have had more influence on human civilization than any WCG pastor general will ever have).

I'm aware that the early Radio Church of God at first rejected episcopalian polities, but in my reading of old RCG/WCG literature from the 1950s and 1960s, coupled with my own memories of growing up in the WCG, it's clear that the hierarchical, quasi-episcopalian structure of the WCG was already in existence long before the receivership crisis.

Jared Olar

MD: "modern scholarly fads"? "absolutely no evidence whatsoever"? Uh, you obviously need to widen your reading material. I'd recommend Karen Armstrong's "A History of God", but, oh dear, I'm afraid it's by a woman!

Nothing's Changed: The following quote from Thomas Paine "The Age of Reason" 1793. Just read "organized religion" for "churches" and "Islam" for "Turkish".

"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

Bob Gilbert

Name that sect: Apparently, COGers are running out of names when they start a new "church", such as the COG clone that split from ICG, the "Church of God Worldwide". I think you should run another contest and call it "Name That Church" to assist the Herbert wannabes. :-)


Contact: Is there a web site with ex members email addresses of people who would like to be contacted to discuss their experiences while in the WCG? Or a chat room of some type?

MD: Try one of the less nutty discussion boards. Maybe the JLF link (see above) is a place to start.

COG7 converted? I would like to... update you on our second campaign lecture, this one of the subject "The Bible Does Not promise Heaven!" I said in my last e-mail that we hoped for about 25 persons. Well, our expectations were exceeded again as some FIFTY-FOUR VISITORS turned up, making a total attendance of 254! ... The leaders of the Church of God 7th Day came back and spoke quite enthusiastically afterward about the importance of pursuing truth irrespective of where it leads, or how inconvenient it might prove. We will be maintaining regular contact and they intend to start keeping the Feast Days right away. Their intention is to lead the island-wide fellowship of COG7th Day churches into Holyday keeping, and a retreat will be held in April to look at this issue. The Vice-President of the Ministerial Association and the Director of Public Relations were the two persons who came to the campaign. They were nodding their heads throughout both presentations.

Many persons wrote up cards indicating they want further contact with the church, and church members and leaders will follow-up with further studies and "friendship evangelism". The CGI in Jamaica, unlike the main corporate
COGs, puts a lot of emphasis on lay member activism. Members actively invited friends and even strangers to this campaign series and this proved highly successful. The usual method of just inviting people on a mailing list--without even having newspaper ads-- has proven to be very ineffective, especially at this time when the movement does not have as powerful a television and radio ministry as we had under the Armstrongs. On the same day I held my first campaign, which pulled out 75 persons, the local minister in the Living Church of God also held a campaign, following the old method of just inviting mailing list people. Bob Thiel can update us about the number of persons who turned up for that.

The COGs have to do new things or they will be extinct---which many of your readers would say would be a very good thing! And many of the COGs seem eager to grant their wish. Not so the Jamaican CGI. We are innovative, cutting edge and avant-garde, while holding to the fundamental truths of the movement. The movement has taught a lot of nonsense; obscurantist foolishness which makes someone like me quite embarrassed. Actually, my position is that the post-Armstrongite atheists, agnostics and devotees of non-Christian religions are on a far sounder footing epistemologically than those who are now Evangelicals, orthodox Christians, Catholics or among the Sabbatarian churches. A far more powerful critique against Armstrongism is to target the Bible itself and notions of the supernatural. My firm belief if is that if the Bible is really to be read in a conservative way, then some of the key teachings of our movement stand a far better chance of being true than the alternatives. This is the discussion I would like to see among the post-Armstrongites: Assuming the Bible is true (a very big assumption) and given proper methods of exegesis and hermeneutics, is Armstrongism-- with all its incredible and stomach-churning corruption, mind-control, abuse and anti-intellectualist orientation--a better option than the other conservatives, inerrantist movements? I throw this out for a reasoned, non-visceral discourse.

Ian Boyne
Pastor, CGI Jamaica

Whistling: I thought I'd mention that I've made a few format and content improvements/additions to my Hell article, which I probably posted on my website just a bit prematurely... Also, I've added a new feature to my website: a section entitled " Non-Religious: Other Useful Topics".

"The Whistler"


The Journal is a monthly non-aligned COG newspaper. Some features are also available on their website: Subscription information is available here. We recommend it as an in depth source of information on the COG movement from a current insiders' perspective (unlike AW, where we are definitely enjoying the show from the sidelines! Now, could somebody please pass the popcorn...)

Another COG clone? With stunning originality the leaders of the new ICG splinter group have dubbed themselves "The Churches of God, Worldwide" according to a lead story in the latest issue of The Journal.

Approximately ten elders in the GTA sect have jumped ship. Planning for the new entity is still in its early stages. The Journal names Tom Kerry, Phil Dunagan, Earl Timmons and George Trent as leaders in the schism.

"Mark [Armstrong] is not legally qualified to be head of the church because he is not ordained, and he hasn't been baptized the required 10 years", The Journal quotes Kerry as saying. The CGW has a web presence at (be warned, it features one of those slow-loading introductory animations that drive 94.6% of potential viewers to distraction - and this one is excruciatingly slow to load - if it ever does. We gave up!).

Incidentally, the ICG has recently released a new booklet called The Long tradition of Prophetic Insight and Accuracy (!) which attempts to document Herb and Ted's outstanding track record in predicting world events... no, seriously!

Gerry's "Magnum Dopus": Gerald Flurry wrote Malachi's Message, right? You know, the prophesied "little book" of Revelation (according to Gerry)?  In another Journal feature, Jerry Ashcraft reviews Robert Kuhne's book The Plain Truth about Malachi's Message and That Prophet. Both Kuhne and Ashcraft are former members of Gerry's PCG cult.

According to Kuhne (and he makes a very strong case) Gerry plagiarized material written by Jules Dervaes, an early critic of the Tkach administration, then claimed divine inspiration for himself! Truly doth this man walk in the steps of Herb!

Robert Kuhne's website is Dervaes also has a website to promote his particular version of Armstrongism:

Those ads! The Journal is almost worth the subscription price for the ads alone. This issue is no exception. The obscure British sect that goes barley hunting in Israel each year has a huge section to itself, complete with color photographs and diagrams (of grain!). Modesto's faithful shepherd, Don Billingsley, has another full page. And launching himself onto the catwalk this month is none other than Raymond McNair with a page of dense text about Laodiceans and a personal resume of past accomplishments.

We'd also like to mention the 3 page ad from first-timer Graeme McChesney of the Church of God (Auckland). Unfortunately we can't refer you to a website as one doesn't seem to exist. We've heard some positive things about CGA and the way it's run. One former member of this small group is controversial and prolific COG news-board contributor Bruce Porteous, well known for his forthright views on America's "prophetic" future. 

21 FebruaryGTA - ONE TV APPEARANCE TOO MANY, DIEHL SLASHES GORDIAN KNOT, WHISTLER ANNIHILATES HELL. Mail: UCG voting, the Holy Spirit leadeth Ken Storey, orthodoxy and Episcopacy, blind Joe... and more

GTA (wearing clothes)

In Memory of Ted: A video clip of the late Garner Ted Armstrong's 1997 "special appearance" on the Geraldo Rivera show is now available to download from The Painful Truth site. You'll need Real Player and a strong stomach. The PT webmaster says: I take no pleasure in this. This is for educational purposes. Maybe "Wising Up 101"? Click the link, should you decide you wish to view the 4 minute clip which features Suerae Robertson's harrowing account along with film of the masturbating evangelist (tactfully edited for television). You'll need to scroll to the bottom of the linked page for instructions on downloading (it takes a while). 

Sheeple: Dennis Diehl is one of MD's most provocative writers. Especially so given his pre-history as a pastor in a certain church most of us are familiar with... His latest contribution is no disappointment in that regard. In a cover note Dennis writes that his inspiration came "when I read how UCG is endeavoring to find the mind of God on voting." Prepare to be either offended or liberated (or, who knows, maybe both)! 

Hell's bells! "The Whistler" has released a new column on the subject of hell. He writes:

Based on all that the Bible tells us regarding the nature of God and his all-consuming love and concern for every creature, even the fallen sparrow, common sense should tell the proponents of an ever-torturing hell that this doctrine somehow just doesn’t ring true.  That God would have such a plan for some of his creation – to suffer endlessly -  based on just a handful of vague scriptures, should give every torturing hell proponent reason to pause and re-evaluate.

Weekly Mailbag

Cold day in a hot place: In regard to UCG allowing the "members" of their organization to vote: First of all, the "layman" has never been considered a member of the UCGia, according to their by-laws. Even if the high-ups did ALLOW the peons to vote, it would only be on minor issues, such as, voting for which peon should be in charge of some minor physical duty, but then it would still have to be approved by the pastor. I know. I've been there, done that. I take it you've never been affiliated with UCG. You congratulate UCG on "bringing the question of church voting out into the open for discussion and debate"? It will be discussed, and maybe lightly debated, only among the "clergy". That will be the end of it. The "iron curtain" mentality is still alive and well in UCG. The strong-arm (Armstrong)tactics will be exposed when it's come down to the nut-cutting. They always have been. "Trouble-makers" and "dissidents" are swiftly dealt with. The "minister" and the "layman" are two vastly separate commodities. That great gulf will always exist in this lifetime because both parties believe that is the way god wants it to be. Will the dumb sheep ever be "allowed" to vote (Gr. "cheirotoneo") for their leaders as they did in the early NT church? THAT will be a cold day in hell!


Tell me the old, old Storey: Ken Storey at [a certain web site that has ripped off AW's name] has some "REEEEEEEE-ALY BIG IDEAS!" For those who may be searching for investment possibilities, here's one you certainly must consider.

I urge you to quickly take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity available at GMT, or "Get Moving Today." Go here to read how you can help God, help yourself, and rescue the AC campus by getting to know GMT's President/CEO, Bruce Bise, and become an "iAssociate:"

You can begin to appreciate Mr. Bise's visionary outlook as you read such encouraging words as: "Our company started out in the parsonage, and in one year made $80 million and we believe we will receive billions of dollars as a company. Listen, don't limit God!"

Now, apparently events have not unfolded quite as Mr. Bise envisioned. Take a look at this location to understand the current status of his iAssociates: This is, I am sure, but a small pothole on the road to glory.

I think the hardest decision that you will have to make about this investment is whether you want to be a Diamond or a Platinum iAssociate. This is such a great opportunity, I don't think it matters which you chose. Because, how can you lose? I know this must be a "sure thing" because Ken Storey has provided his enthusiastic endorsement. Mr Storey emplores his readers to "Remember to pray for Bruce Bise and GMT, that God would protect them and give them wisdom from Heaven."

Bob Gilbert

Accountability & orthodoxy: I sympathize in many ways with the former WCG minister's complaints that so much is still the same in the WCG even though so much has been changed. I agree that, "An orthodox Christian church has a governance structure that balances in love the tension between serving the Lord and serving the membership." But I'm a little uneasy about his claim that, "An orthodox Christian church is set up with means of effective accountability because this flows from an orthodox understanding of the Cross." Of course it all depends on what one means by "effective accountability." I get the impression that episcopalian polities are out-of-bounds for that former WCG minister. But as I look over the history of Christianity, I have to wonder if any Christian church from the days of the Apostles down to modern times could really qualify as having a "means of effective accountability" in the eyes of that former WCG minister -- which would then raise the question of whether historical Christianity is "orthodox."

Jared Olar

MD: WCG isn't "episcopalian". Not even close. It springs from the very non-Episcopalian Church of God (Seventh Day). The early Radio Church of God rubbished the concept of episcopalian governance. It was never fully co-opted (in a bizarre, bastardized form) until Herb needed an excuse to restructure in order to avoid the scrutiny of the receivership crisis. 

The Episcopal Church in the US along with Anglican churches elsewhere, have complex systems to ensure that all sections of the church have representation and voice. Even the Bishop of Rome is elected by a College of Cardinals! 

The good guy: Thank-you for your efforts with MD. I’m saddened to hear it may be cut-back or curtailed, or as I once heard a moron say “curtain-tailed”. But it has been an enjoyable ride and read. The only WCG related site I visit is the JLF. Too much vitriol, bitterness and lunacy on the others. 

However, I can well understand the toll and time it takes to wade thru the mire and waste of the COG’s and the time to assemble, edit and publish it. I would have tired of it long before you. Hell, I’d pay for your site, it has been that useful.

if HWA were resurrected tomorrow he’d be right at home in today’s WCG. In fact, he’d barely miss a step

Anne of JLF posted two threads on JLF and they had a very fine run out. They were two of the finest ones on quite awhile. My thought on what you posted is what I wrote JT, Jr. a few months before departing WCG in 12-1999. 

I’ve long thought that if HWA were resurrected tomorrow he’d be right at home in today’s WCG. In fact, he’d barely miss a step rushing to his cushy chair in a plush office. He’d recognize everything as well as all the control switches. Everything is still in place. 

Joe and crew... are totally blind to the things you advocate on MD. He was actually gracious enough to respond to me but was in complete denial (whatever happened to the use of the word “utter”?) that the “miracle” of Worldwide wasn’t yet complete. 

He basically thought that because he was Joe Tkach, that they’d changed the doctrine and he’s good guy, that he no longer sat in the HWA chair nor administered in the same manner. 

Have you ever tried to put shoe polish on a horse dropping? It’s not to be confused with putting lipstick on a pig. 

It was not long after my wife read his reply that we made our exit. One underrated miraculous aspect of WCG is all the people who were freed from WCG . 

Thank you again for your efforts. 

Robert Elliott

MD: In case you missed it, MD will probably be around till mid-year at least.

Hurtling to oblivion: Mr. Brooks letter, unfortunately, is a classic example of the tragic propensity of HWA loyalists to hide their heads in the sand continually, and to flagrantly ignore God's command to prove all things. And then they wonder why their church has experienced one unmitigated disaster after another? 

I would urge other members of LCG and UCG to carefully consider who is hiding behind generalities and who is not. Bill Lussenheide included LCG statistics in his calculation of COG demographics documenting the fact that the COGs in general are aging rapidly, and are headed for a massive demographic implosion. 

After my letter was published a member of LCG e-mailed me that the present growth rate of LCG is above the 7% threshold cited by Bill. Bob also mentioned this on his website. I e-mailed my friend back that this was indeed good news--because I care about LCG and my friends who are in it--and then asked for more specifics. I did not even receive a response. How come? 

Members of LCG should demand that the leadership of their church release a full demographic profile. Is it so unreasonable to ask what type of a future awaits a church without many young people or children in attendance, and what does it say about a church leadership that doesn't seem to care?


Pentecost: These jokers who say WCG never kept Pentecost on Monday havent been around long. Back in 1962 us back country folk were 'commanded by God' according to HWA to keep the day, and I would have to take 5 days off work to do so, since it was a 2-day trip to the nearest church to do so. So don't tell me that WCG never kept that day. Furthermore, I never forget the minister telling us we could not leave on our trip home till sunset, so there we were in the parking lot for hours waiting for sunset while the local folk had long gone home, had their  supper and relaxing while were were still in the parking lot with a 2 day trip to start. 

MD: The good old daze!

DUCK! Incoming! Seeing that you were so kind to publish the two ads about the evangelistic campaigns of the Jamaican CGI, I thought I would fill in your readers on the results of the first campaign held Sabbath, February 14. Knowing the nature of much of this audience, the following would provide no occasion to rejoice (in fact, quite the opposite!), but I supply it simply for information: The Jamaican CGI had the biggest campaign ever addressed by a local speaker last weekend when seventy-five first-time visitors turned up in Kingston, the capital, to hear the presentation, "Should You Keep the Feast Days?" (Yes) We had a total attendance of 275.

In Ocho Rios where we have a small church, there was a simultaneous campaign on the same subject, conducted by one of our deacons, George Ramocan, former Senator, and we had 10 visitors and a total attendance 42. Members of the CGI felt my presentation was particularly powerful and riveting and comments I heard from visitors seemed to confirm that. I spoke to several ministers from the Church of God 7th Day, two of whom said their particular denomination would be having a retreat in April to deal specifically with this matter of the Holydays. I offered to address the retreat. Another person told me she was sent officially by her COG 7th Day church to gather information and bring it back to them, and I offered to go to her church to make a presentation on the Holydays. There were a number of Seventh-day Adventists as well as Seventh Day Baptists. In my presentation I drew on a number of scholarly sources, including the reputable Word Biblical Commentary, the Seventh-day Adventist ministerial journal MINISTRY, as well as Samuelle Bacchiochi's two-volume set on the holydays, to show the absolute inconsistency of holding to seventh-day Sabbath observance while not keeping the Feast days.

I believe that having heard the presentation, even the post-Armstrongite, atheistic readers of AW would agree that in terms of its objective of demonstrating the utter absurdity of elevating the weekly Sabbath over the annual Sabbaths, the presentation was successful. The Sabbath and the holydays stand or fall together, as one well-known person to us used to say. So my task was not hard at all. Even Jim Baldwin, Bill Fairchild and MAM would agree that my position is more consistent than the non-Holyday-keeping Sabbatarians!

This Sabbath I will deal with the going-to-Heaven myth. We would be happy if we attract at least 25 visitors to this one. I will report next week on the results. Won't end by saying "pray for the successs of the campaigns", knowing this august audience, but I am sure readers are interested in knowing that Armstrongism is still (sadly?) having an impact in some part of the globe. (I suspect some right-wing chauvinists and racists might say, "yeah, in a dark, ignorant spot of the Third World"! Though, incidentally, a number of our members are university-trained and are professionals.) How good and how pleasant it is (or can be) for former brethren to have a forum like this to keep in touch with one another, and to demonstrate tolerance and respect for free speech (denied to many of us in the former WCG)

Ian Boyne
Pastor, CGI Jamaica

MD: I'm full of admiration for your fortitude Ian; baiting Jim, Bill and MAM all in a one-shot home-run sentence. Anyone over in the outfield?

20 February. THE AA, ESN

Auditorium's future looking better? The Ambassador Auditorium may yet escape the wrecking ball. This item from the February 17 Pasadena Star News.

Ann Hassett, former executive director of Pasadena's Levitt Pavilion in Memorial Park, has been picked to develop a plan to reopen world-renowned Ambassador Auditorium.

The Ambassador Hall for the Performing Arts Board of Directors named Hassett its managing director based on her experience with Levitt, the Pasadena Arts Council, Pasadena Symphony, the Pasadena Playhouse and 30 years as an Emmy, Peabody and Cable ACE award-winning producer.

Hassett's experience "makes her uniquely suited to develop and carry out the board's vision to reopen the Ambassador Auditorium,' said Alice Coulombe, the board's co-chair.

"We are pleased to have Ann preparing the board's business plan, which is a crucial step to building a new performance and concert series to rival its previous internationally famous seasons,' said Carol Henry, the other co-chair.

Recognized as "the Carnegie Hall of the West' for its acoustics and the high quality of its construction and materials, Ambassador Auditorium was opened in 1974 by the Worldwide Church of God.

Over 20 seasons, the 1,262-seat religious service, cultural performance and concert hall hosted 2,500 concerts and performances including appearances by Leonard Bernstein, Luciano Pavarotti, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, the Vienna Symphony, Vladimir Horowitz, Pancho Sanchez and Benny Goodman.

The auditorium has been closed since 1995 due to church reorganization; the church ended its annual $2.5 million subsidy, which amounted to half the auditorium's operating budget. A church spokesman said the subsidy came to $40 million over 20 years.

The board is working with church and Pasadena city officials to create an economic framework to refurbish and support the auditorium's reopening.

ESN story withdrawn: An item about ESN ("Exit & Support Network") which appeared briefly on AW earlier in the week was withdrawn following an email from one of ESN's supporters, Bill Hohmann. The short article had criticized claims that ESN was a "professional" ministry, operated by "professionals".

The AW item also criticized the unwillingness of the webmaster to reveal her identity, something we pointed out was hardly compatible with a professional operation.

We understand from Bill that ESN has now revised the statements on its website in order to avoid giving a misleading impression.

Addendum: after uploading this item a regular check of Bob Thiel's site revealed he had copied and pasted the original item, correctly attributed, to his news page, where you can still find it dated Feb.17.

15 February. ORTHODOXY - POSTURING VS REALITY, UCG STUDY PAPER, AUSSIE CONFERENCE, UNTO THE THIRD GENERATION. Mail: Robidoux and his WCG connection, number crunching, how original is OWCG?, Buzzard baiting, Jeffersonian advice

Is WCG "orthodox"? The following comments were posted by Anne Hanna on JLF, quoting a former WCG minister who is now active in an evangelical congregation. At issue: is the Tkach sect really reformed, or has the rotting sepulcher just received a quick coat of cheap whitewash?

I can understand why people may feel confused about what is wrong in the WCG. After all the WCG now proclaims orthodox doctrine. Yes, any minister in the WCG can give a good confession of faith in Jesus. But then again so can a parrot if properly trained.

The point is that the WCG might be able to tell you right doctrine but it is not necessarily a “new creation” in Christ. It takes more than a parroting of orthodoxy to be orthodox just as it takes more than calling oneself a Christian to be a Christian.

Christian orthodoxy refers to those central doctrines that the vast majority of Christians have agreed upon as a result of contemplating the Incarnation and all that it means. Hence the evolution of doctrine as espoused by the various creeds in church history. But behind them all is the idea of a God who loves us and acts on our behalf as described in John 3:16.

our actions towards each other are actions for or against God

It is because God loves us that we can love God. It is because God loves us that we should love each other. It is because of this close binding in love of God and man that our actions towards each other are actions for or against God. God’s redemptive love is the central point of orthodoxy as expressed in the Cross.

The problem with the WCG is that it hasn’t moved to orthodoxy at all. Rather it still holds to Armstrongism. It holds onto it with unrelenting obstinacy to the point of alienating multiple tens of thousands of people from the Cross. People who once confessed that Jesus was their personal Lord and Saviour at baptism and suffered under Armstrong’s system because they thought they were being true to their Lord.

Armstrongism was never just about worshipping on certain days, or keeping the dietary laws. Armstrongism was first and foremost a system of totalitarian control. The doctrine of “God’s government” was the first and only real doctrine of Armstrong’s (Transformed by Truth, appendix 18 Truths Restored by Herbert W. Armstrong). This doctrine remains today although it isn’t called that any more. Now it is called “Modified Episcopalian”.

Armstrongism was never just about worshipping on certain days, or keeping the dietary laws. [It] was first and foremost a system of totalitarian control... This doctrine remains today although it isn’t called that any more. Now it is called “Modified Episcopalian”. 

An orthodox Christian church is set up with means of effective accountability because this flows from an orthodox understanding of the Cross. The WCG has no system of effective accountability.

An orthodox Christian church has a governance structure that balances in love the tension between serving the Lord and serving the membership. The WCG structure serves the Pastor General and tells the membership to “like it or not” because this is how the Pastor General has decided it will be. This is a fundamental difference between the orthodox embodiment of serving as Christ serves versus the WCG’s lording it over the people and blaming them.

Orthodoxy isn’t about Sunday. Just as Armstrongism isn’t about Saturday. Christian orthodoxy is about Jesus‘ love for all. Armstrongism is all about the Pastor General. Armstrongism remains enshrined above orthodoxy in the by-laws and doctrine of the WCG today. Armstrongism has merely approved the use of orthodoxy in order to please the current Pastor General.

Someday in the future there will be a new Pastor General and who knows what will happen then. Given the cultic techniques used by this system to force people to adhere to the Pastor General's wishes we can never know if the WCG has truly embraced orthodoxy.

It is when the members have ownership of their doctrines and ergo their church governance that we will only know if the WCG has embraced orthodoxy. I have serious concerns that should Dr. Tkach or some other future Pastor General decide to go in a different direction that the ministers will flip flop for him and make the members follow just as they did under Armstrong for makeup. 

How can it be that Joseph Tkach, a man who holds an earned doctorate in ministry, is unable to follow this eminently Christian line of reasoning? Why does he continue to cultivate an obscenely hierarchical system of control in face of the clear imperative to empower his fellow members and affirm the priesthood of all believers? 

Fear? Self interest? Stupidity? 

And if "none of the above", then why won't he come clean, drop the condescending tone, put his case in the WN, and open up the subject to genuine discussion and debate?

Until that happens, the so-called "reformation" of the WCG will continue to be seen by many as a cruel deception and a sham.

"Balloting or voting is simply a way for individuals to express their opinion about a matter. Is that acceptable to God? All of God’s great servants—Moses, David, the prophets—all had times when they disagreed with God, and many times they expressed their frustration. God did not condemn any of them, even when they deserved it. In some cases, God even seems to alter His plans because of the concerns of His servants. Once again, it appears that if the heart is right, one can even present a dissenting opinion to God. And, once again, obeying God’s instructions with a heart that is not right is not enough."

From the UCG study paper

UCG takes tentative step forward: Meantime the UCG is preparing to address some of the very issues the Tkach church so studiously ignores. In a February 13 member letter Clyde Kilough writes:

In the August and December 2003 meetings we approved two doctrinal study papers that are somewhat related and very important to read. One is "Balloting in the Church" (posted on the UCG Web site at and the other is "Voting and Involvement in Politics," which is now being mailed to the elders and to be posted on the Web site in two weeks. The former focuses narrowly on whether voting is appropriate or even acceptable within the context of making collective decisions within the Church. The latter examines to what degree, if any, a member of the Church should participate in voting and the secular political systems of this society.

Kilough steers a carefully neutral course in his comments. He mentions the upcoming US election then adds: " United we are preparing for the Annual Meeting of the General Conference of Elders in May, where we too will decide on governmental issues that range from who serves on the Council to proposed changes to the Constitution and Bylaws. These processes of church and civil government should offer a study of sharp contrasts, and they will as long as we avoid the pitfalls of politics." 

MD congratulates UCG on bringing the question of church voting out into the open for discussion and debate. The publication of study papers like these, which are accessible to all, stands in stark contrast to the "iron curtain" mentality of the WCG. Again we ask why is it that it is UCG - a supposedly more sectarian, heterodox group than the WCG - can lead the way in administrative reform and operate in a relatively open, healthy, transparent manner while its parent body, posturing and preening as mainstream and evangelical, is run like like a robber baron's medieval fiefdom?

Down Under: The thinning ranks of WCG's Australasian ministry will be assembled this week in Burleigh Heads. The Supreme Commander of the Faithful has delegated his portable pontifical throne to that well-known non-attendee Mike Feazell. What directives will be passed on to the Ocker and Kiwi franchises? Will the more conservative Antipodean branches be told to "get with the program" and trash their few remaining distinctives? And most importantly, will Rod Matthews present Mike with one of those Aussie hats that have corks attached which swing around to fend off the blowflies? Stay tuned.

A venerable history? These Pollyannaish words from the last remaining Armstrong to hawk his wares in the COG market place, Mark Armstrong in yesterday's ICG/GTAEA "Friday Update".

God’s Work remains active and strong.  My Dad’s presence, and his productivity are sorely missed, by us here, at least as much as by your there.  Rest assured that we here are planning ahead, and working long days to make certain that the legacy of Garner Ted Armstrong, and of his Dad Herbert W. Armstrong, is carried forward with all the strength God provides.  We are, in large part, responsible for preserving, protecting and carrying on the Work of the Watchman.  It has a venerable history, and a crucial ongoing role in spreading the TRUTHS we’ve been entrusted with, along with the message of Witness and Warning as we are propelled forward into these prophetically important times.

The more things change, the more some things stay the same. If nothing else, Chipper's "Work" promises a nice cozy cave to crawl into while the mountain thunders, darkness falls at noon, ash and pumice pelt the land, fire and lava obliterate the monuments to sectarian arrogance, and searing heat crisps those poor disoriented souls caught in the path of destruction. Armstrongism's very own apocalypse. The cave however is almost always a death trap, and those who huddle there are likely to suffocate, not survive.  

Weekly Mailbag

Robidoux tragedy: It's so sickening to witness the terrible Armstrong legacy reaching down to even the subject of infanticide.

I was a member along with Roland Robidoux and his family in the first New England WCG church. Roland and I attended the first Spokesman Club together I guess around the late 60s. It seems that we lost contact with each other when the Manchester, NH church divided into Concord, NH and Boston, MA. I do recall we were ordained Local Church Elders about the same time. 

In the mid-70s, during "The Great Rebellion", I lost contact with many of the Boston folks including the Robidouxs. Happily for those Boston brethren they had a minister that was inviting people to go out and get lives for themselves. We up in Concord were not so fortunate. We had Dan Rogers (present WCG ministerial chief) making us all toe the line and I was helping him. What madness I was in!

Now Roland has his own cult, his son is in prison for life, his grandson murdered, and his daughter-in-law a convicted felon. All this flowing from the preaching of the crazed megalomaniac, Herbert Armstrong. And the preaching goes on by other manipulators on both sides of the theological isle. I refer to the moderates and the

Jim Baldwin

Numbing with numbers? Thomas Brooks wrote that the United Church of God's membership isn't even double that of Living Church of God. The Painful Truth indicates that UCG has 17,000 members. From searching the net I found that LCG currently has 6000 members. It appears that Mr. Brooks is padding his numbers.

Original Herb: I just wanted to let you know how I feel about the Yahoo originalwcg group. If you dare to state the fact that WCG originally taught that Pentecost was on a Monday, they will not allow your comments on its page. Many times I have tried to comment on their lack of openness to the truth and they ignore you. They want their group to remain stupid on what it was really like. I was in the Church since 1966, and believe me they are not the original WCG.

MD: You're right, WCG did once teach a Monday Pentecost. But where is your benchmark for "original"? 1934? 1949? 1966? 1974? 1986? WCG under HWA was continually tinkering with doctrine. Healing, makeup, divorce, Pentecost. The OWCG seems to regard the post-purge WCG of 1979-1986 as normative under the octogenarian apostle. Presumably this has less to do with the dubious merits of any Pentecost chronology than with the median age of the group's members, who recollect Armstrong's "cultural revolution" as some kind of golden age. Go figure!

Response to Buzzard: I saw your web site mentioned in the Dec. 2003 Journal, published by Dixon Cartwright. Your site highlights and discusses a number of very interesting topics. But I was a little disturbed by the comments made about HWA on your front page. Were the comments yours or were you quoting someone else? And if you don't mind answering this, were you ever a member of WCG?

BTW, I sent a letter to The Journal commenting on Anthony Buzzard's opinion about the pre-existence of Jesus, but to date it has not been published. I've attached it to this email for your attention, and perhaps you could forward it to Mr. Buzzard for me, as I don't have [an] email address for him.

Tom Mahon

MD: (1) Except for the quote from Jack Kessler, the home page comments are indeed original to MD. (2) Yes. (3) Try

Jefferson on religion: As a 20+ year resident of the House of Herb (a.k.a. an inmate in the Armstrong Asylum) I wish that I had long ago had access to... a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1787 to a nephew, one Peter Carr... It has been very useful in my post-Herb truth searching. Too bad that most pew-sitters will never hear or take notice of the eternal wisdom of elegant phrases such as "the homage of reason" versus "blindfolded fear."

Bob Gilbert

MD: Jefferson's letter can be found at The section Bob refers to is headed "Religion". Quite a contrast to some current political figures who seem more interested in sanctimonious "prayer breakfast" photo opportunities.

"The mess we's in": A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

Arnold Goodfellow

MD: Very enigmatic!


Joe Joyful - Sale process hits pay dirt: The following information appears in the latest Weekly Update from the WCG's Pastor General.

LA Times report:

An Irvine developer purchased 12 acres of the former Ambassador College in Pasadena on Wednesday with the intention of building a residential and retail project on the site.

Sares-Regis Group paid the Worldwide Church of God an undisclosed amount for the property, which is roughly bounded by Del Mar Boulevard, DeLacey Avenue, Green Street and the 710 Freeway spur. The East Campus, as the site is known, has some remnants of the former school, including classrooms and a small auditorium, but does not include the well-known Ambassador Auditorium, which is on the 30-acre West Campus across the freeway.

Sares-Regis officials have no specific plans for their new property, spokesman Bill Montgomery said. They expect to meet with community and city representatives in the months ahead to develop a proposal for apartments and for-sale housing served by some stores. If the approval process goes smoothly, construction could begin in the second half of 2005, he said.

The property near Old Town and a Gold Line rail station has been coveted by builders since the church closed Ambassador College in 1997.

"A 12-acre parcel in that market is a phenomenal opportunity," said Montgomery, who grew up nearby. "It's just really neat to see what's happened there."

Last year, Sares-Regis acquired the nearby 374-unit Holly Street Village apartments with Capri Capital Advisors for $64 million.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great pleasure I share the joyful news that the Church has sold the “East Campus” portion of the Pasadena headquarters. Thank you all for your prayers over the years, and for your ongoing prayers for the entitlement effort that will continue for the West Campus.

The following press release was issued today. Please feel free to share this with your congregations. We will follow-up this week's Pastor General's update with further information in the very near future. 

For Immediate Release Contact: Fred Muir (310) 278-9321 
Hilary Norton Orozco (213) 448-2900

Worldwide Church of God sells East Campus of Ambassador College to Sares-Regis Group 
Church continues with plans for West Campus
Pasadena, February, 11, 2004-- The Worldwide Church of God today announced the sale of its East Campus property in the Old Pasadena historic commercial district to Sares-Regis Group, a prominent Southern California developer, for an undisclosed sum. 

Sares-Regis Group plans to meet with the City to discuss its plans for a transit-oriented urban village which could include for-sale and rental homes. The approximately 11-acre property is bounded by Del Mar to the South and DeLacey Avenue on the East, with the exception of the Friend Paper Company parcel at the corner of Green Street and DeLacey Avenue and the Werk’s Bros. garage on Green Street.

The sale will allow the Church and its development team to concentrate their efforts on completing the entitlement process for the West Campus portion of the Ambassador Campus Planned Development. The Ambassador Campus is designed as a residential neighborhood which blends historic homes, gardens, new community infrastructure, and the potentially reopened Ambassador Auditorium.

“The sale of the East Campus is good for everyone involved,” said Bernard Schnippert, director of finance and planning for the Worldwide Church of God. “The Church is happy that we can continue our religious mission to focus our resources on to our nearly 600 pastors and 800 congregations around the world.”

Bill Montgomery, spokesman for Sares-Regis Group, said, “We are very proud to have reached this agreement with the Worldwide Church of God, and are eager to develop the East Campus with a project that meets or exceeds the high architectural design and landscape standards that make Pasadena such a special place. It is exciting to play a bigger role in this extraordinary community.”

“The project we envision will help ease the housing shortage and complement the exciting and vibrant Old Pasadena with an urban village neighborhood that is an easy walk to two Gold Line stations,” Montgomery added. “We are just getting started in defining the scope of our project. We look forward to working with the City and community as we create the new plan.”

Schnippert agreed, “The property is in good hands. Utilizing their community planning and development experience Sares-Regis Group will bring a new vision to the East Campus parcel.”

Sares-Regis Group is one of the leading developers, managers and builders of residential and commercial real estate in the Western United States. The company has acquired or developed approximately 36 million square feet of commercial properties and more than 18,000 apartment and residential homes since its inception. Recent development projects include: Watermarke, a 535 unit luxury apartment community located in Irvine, a condominium conversion of Seabridge Villas in Huntington Beach, and an active senior apartment community, Remington at Ladera Ranch. Last year, Sares-Regis Group acquired the nearby Holly Street Village apartment community in Pasadena... 

Undisclosed sum? Why?

Here's how the Pasadena Star News covered the sale.

PASADENA -- The Worldwide Church of God has sold the eastern portion of the Ambassador College campus to an Orange County development group for an undisclosed amount, church officials announced Wednesday.

The church had planned to develop the entire 46-acre campus, but now will move forward only on the more controversial aspect of the plan, a 735-unit project on the 33-acre western campus and possible demolition of the world-famous Ambassador Auditorium.

News of the sale drew a mixed reaction from a community long divided over the church's plans to build what would be the city's largest housing project ever.

"The sale of the east campus changes everything,' said Mike Vogler of Save South Orange Grove, a group formed to fight the Ambassador development. "The Ambassador project must be put on hold indefinitely until we see what the new owners want to do with (their) property.'

Some critics of the Ambassador plan see a silver lining, saying the sale gives them another chance to press for lower density development on the larger west campus, which sits in the middle of some of Pasadena's most affluent neighborhoods.

Rumors have been swirling for weeks about a possible sale. As late as Tuesday, church officials were pushing city planners to hurry and finish work on the project's environmental impact report.

Bernard Schnippert, finance director for the church, said he has been entertaining offers for the 13-acre east campus for months, but the deal only came together in the past two weeks.

"We made this transaction dispassionately, using our best business judgment,' Schnippert said.

The buyers are a consortium of developers, led by Sares-Regis Group of Irvine. The firm has built luxury apartments and condominiums throughout California, including the Park Catalina apartments in Los Angeles and Parkwoods in the Oakland Hills.

The deal was brokered by Orange County developer Jack D'Angelo of Old Pasadena Partners. "The deal has been in the works now since April or June of last year,' he said. "It was a very complicated transaction.'

To help finance the deal, D'Angelo brought in Equity Residential Trust of Chicago, a residential investment firm.

"Right now we are looking at the market demand for condominiums on a portion of the property and multifamily rentals on the rest,' D'Angelo said. The proposal also calls for retail along Green Street and Pasadena Avenue.

D'Angelo previously worked for Legacy Partners, the firm that led the earlier, failed attempt to develop the Ambassador property.

The church regrouped after Legacy and decided to act as its own developer. Last year, the church proposed building 1,435 houses on the 46-acre campus.

That plan met deep resistance from west Pasadena residents who argued the size of the project would ruin their neighborhoods.

The Ambassador campus' borders run from Green Street south to Del Mar Boulevard and from Orange Grove Boulevard east to DeLacey Avenue. The east and west campuses are split by the Long Beach (710) Freeway spur.

08 February. ICG TRIES CHANGING THE SUBJECT, ROBIDOUX VERDICT, RADER REMEMBERED, RICK ROSS LINKS TO AW, BOOK REVIEW, DEMONS AND THE UCG. Mail: Can't see funny side, just a dimwit, COG ecumenism - Jamaica style, trench warfare, more...

Just when things are looking icky: There's nothing like a distraction when the hounds are baying on your trail. Could this be why the ICG has suddenly stopped talking about its internal eruptions and started talking up prophecy? This week ICG minister Chris Cumming sent a breathless email to the shell-shocked troops: Temple Mount Wall Collapses!!

Naturally the item caused rattling of bars in several monkey cages. A critical reading of the Cumming item revealed, however, that it was much ado about nothing. Structural problems are nothing new, and the item was sourced from a fanatical group in Israel. 

Robidoux outcome: Karen Robidoux "was cleared of murder charges Tuesday but convicted of assault and battery for starving her infant son to death to fulfill a prophecy." Full story here.

Stan the Man: Once upon a time (April 1979 actually) WCG's Stanley Rader agreed to a 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace. It was a poor decision, as it turned out, confirming for many that the lawyer was a Rasputin-like figure exercising control over the aging "apostle" he lionized. The audio of that program is now available for download courtesy of the Painful Truth site. 

MD recognized by cult information site: Rick Ross of, a leading source of information on cultic groups, has recently linked to both MD and our affiliated Ambassador Files.

New book review: Sir Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting may be familiar names to older WCG members. Buzzard taught Hebrew at Ambassador College and Hunting was a leading "evangelist" in the sect of the seventies. In 1995 they co-authored a book entitled The Doctrine of the Trinity - Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound. The current edition, copyrighted 1998, has been cited by a number of religious authors, many outside the COG movement.

Reviews, however, have been few and far between, at least one has been scathing, and we haven't been able to find any credible academic reviews at all (interestingly though, there is one pending at a Mormon apologetics site). 

Buzzard and Hunting advocate a unitarian understanding of God quite different from WCG's earlier binatarian doctrine (i.e. that the God Family is currently composed of God the Father and Christ, but the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force) as well as the Trinitarian dogma. A brief review of their work is now available on MD.

Back to the Dark Ages: The United Church of God has mooted a study on the concept of demons. These excerpts from a Feb. 5 Council of Elders teleconference.

" can be very difficult to discern whether a person has a mental disease or is influenced by a demon... many ministers have no idea how to deal with demons."

A workshop on the subject of demons attracted some discussion. Mr. Horchak recalled that the Council had previously suggested that the topic not be included.

Mr. Kubik expressed that it can be very difficult to discern whether a person has a mental disease or is influenced by a demon. He didn’t feel it would be wise to present that topic to the general conference until the Council and doctrine committee had some discussions on it.

Mr. Seiglie suggested that there is a need for guidelines because it’s been so long since any instruction has been given on the subject that many ministers have no idea how to deal with demons.

Les McCullough pointed out that the Church has never specifically addressed this subject. He agreed that it would be unwise to do so until there has been a doctrinal study and a discussion by the Council.

Mr. Dick agreed and also emphasized that lacking a formal study on the subject, whatever might be said would become a defacto doctrinal statement. He advised it would be better to do a more thorough study before presenting it to the general conference.

We'd like to suggest that, in the meantime, just to be safe, all UCG ministers wear a string of garlic around their necks... 

Weekly Mailbag

Northern Light issue: I see on your latest issue ... you mention the "Northern Light" magazine [from] WCG Canada. I would just like to add a few comments on the article by Bill Hall.

Just then the front doors opened and a wave of people streamed out. But it wasn’t the people that I noticed as much as the symbol that they each bore. Each person came out of church with a grey ashen cross clearly visible on their foreheads.

Filled with panic and fear I bundled up my new comic books and ran home in what was, for me, record time. Out of breath, I staggered into my house, yelling to my mother, “Mom, Mom, the Mark of the Beast, the Mark of the Beast!” To which she replied, “Calm down Billy, it is only Ash Wednesday.” (My Anglican, Catholic, and Lutheran friends still get a chuckle out of this story)

Lutherans and Catholics friends of WCG?? as if?? Also how sad WCG downplays the psychological harm they produced in so many children because of their fantastic lies! Panic and Fear is right!! but it wasn't funny at all!! 

Yet even though I was initially driven by fear, I slowly began to realize that my interest in prophecy was rooted in my desire to be in control my destiny. You see, if I could plot on a timeline all the prophetic events and then relate them to what was happening around me, I would be in control. Nothing could catch me by surprise, like it did that Wednesday afternoon in April.

The interest in prophecy was rooted in absolute fear by Herbert Armstrong and his cohorts. Interesting word Mr. Hall uses "slowly"? I guess that makes it look like God really was in control of the new improved WCG.  

Mental persecution? After reading Rich's letter concerning the fate of the COG orgs, I wondered why he was using UCG statistics to slam LCG. I was a member of UCG and know from personal experience that their membership is declining for reasons other than just old age. LCG is the only one of which I am aware, that has shown a slow but steady growth over the years. At the start, UCG boasted a membership triple that of then Global. At the present time, their membership does not even double that of LCG's.

I fully understand his not wanting information concerning specific statistics to refute his statements, it is much easier to stand behind generalities. If the half-life of less than 15 years is correct, maybe Rich & Bill should begin their own ministry showing proof that Christ will return by 2020. 

Also, from personal experience, I understand the torment many have endured over the past 10+ years. The teaching of the Seven Church Eras is being fulfilled. Look at Daniel 7:25. The Hebrew for "persecute" ("wear out" KJV) refers to a mental persecution. This is obviously going on today.

I sympathize with those who feel disillusioned, deceived or just plain angry. The best thing for them to do is to review the Truth they once held so dear; hold on to what is proven from Scripture and don't give up on God. But what do I know? I'm just a dimwit. 

Thomas Brooks

MD: Nice try Thomas, but do you really think LCG will survive Spanky's demise? Just look at what happened to the inmates of Teddy's religious gulag once he departed the scene a few months ago. 

Jamaican CGI promotes UCG website: Can't tell you how you were missed when you were off recently! Was so glad that you cut short the break--and what breaking news you had with all the flare-up -- no surprise -- in the ICG. It seems there is never a dull week in the land of Armstrongism! I still find it fascinating that it is someone from New Zealand -- not the US or even Europe -- which has the most sought-after, highly-informed and cutting-edge forum on the Armstrong movement. You deserve a journalism prize--- or a humanitarian prize for exposing so many human rights abuses. I experience conflicting emotions over "Ambassador Watch". As a present activist within the Armstrong movement, and someone still engaged in recruiting to the movement--though to a significantly reformed, non-intrusive, non-oppressive section, the CGI-- some of the information contained in AW could hardly be construed as advancing the cause! But if you go under (no pun intended), how would I replace your absolutely invaluable source of accurate information and how would I gauge the ideas and emotions in the Armstrongite landscape? An information-hungry person like me would be seriously put out by your absence. After six months, I will write you again!

On the matter of your being outside of America, Britain and those "strategic areas", an interesting post appeared on Ron Dart's forum recently which pointed out that in this century the most influential Church of God group will be non-Caucasian and non-American. Already the Jamaican CGI has a rate of growth unequalled by any COG in North America. We have baptisms at least EVERY PASSOVER AND FEAST OF TABERNACLES-- and always had since we were established here. We have today on average 200 meeting on the Sabbaths in Kingston and about 15 in Ocho Rios. WE had over 250 at the Feast We are launching as of February 14(No, Bob Thiel, this is no example of CGI apostasy--Valentine's Day!) another series of campaigns-- the biggest ever--- four running consecutively. We will first target the Seventh-Day Adventists and other Sabbatarians with a lecture on the holydays.

Then we will continue with that target group and also include Evangelicals with a presentation on the matter of the millennium being on the earth and heaven not being the reward of the saved. Then I move on to debunk the "only day of salvation" myth which locks off hope to billions, including sincere atheists and agnostics, and then I deal with the Trinitarian error. I [have written two ads] for the most widely circulating papers here... In a time when I believe most of our literature and our appeal to the general public lags way behind the forcefulness we had in the 1950s-70s, I [would like AW readers to] see the kind of appeal which we would have on the Jamaican market. All the readers of Ambassador Watch know of the sickening corruption, immorality and abuse which have taken place among us over many years, perpetrated largely by us in the ministry. (I repent regularly on behalf of the ministry.) But not many focus on the fact that despite that, Armstrong did get some doctrines right and the fact is that orthodox Christianity is extremely shallow and Biblically lacking. Read these ads for their potential effectiveness. My training in mass communications and journalism has not hurt. Notice also something which I believe has never been done by any corporate COG group-- I actually will be advertising the UCG website! (see end of the ads.) Perhaps the American COGs can learn something uh?

Ian Boyne
Pastor, CGI Jamaica

MD: The text of both newspaper ads will be available here till the end of February.

Back to the trenches: I just found your site and think that it would only be fair that you contact both Mr. Tom Kerry and Mr. George Trent and get their side of this STORY, and I do mean story. If you just check the public records you will find that the headquarters building which was paid for by donations from the members is registered in the personal name of Garner Ted Armstrong and from what I have been told they have now transferred all the ICG assets into the GTAEA which is run by the Armstrongs.

Just look for yourself and you will see what is happening.

MD: Scroll down. George Trent's letter appears in the January 30 update. Scroll a bit further down and you'll find this statement (Jan. 29): "If and when the newly disaffiliated group makes a statement we'll try and publish it - so that readers have, to use Griffith's words, an opportunity to receive "both" sides of the story."

Keeping AW coming: I've been reading the fallout of your announcement regarding possible closure of AW. Of course it would be missed, but I understand completely why you might be considering it... I myself would just hate to see AW go the way we're hoping its subject eventually will go!

Gary Scott

MD: Thanks for the suggestions you included.

Show of hands: In reading over the comments regarding the status of your website, I would have thought that some would have offered to help out in whatever way they could. That said, I am offering to help out in any way I can. I'm sure others would also.

I have no clue as to how to run a website, but there must be something(s) I and others can do to ease the burden you have and free up some of your time. If you post this letter, then I call for a show of hands of those who would be willing to help out in whatever capacity.

Bill Hohmann
Renegade AC grad.

MD: Appreciate your offer Bill. In the meantime things are fine, no show of hands necessary.

Missing Persons Dept. Great work. Your site keeps me up to date with what is going on in all splits of the church. I was wondering if any of your readers know of the contact details of one Mike Sumner who was at AC, Pasadena, in 74-75. He was from Michigan. I'd like to get in contact with him if possible. Email me, Graeme Henderson, at and hi to anyone else I know.


Robidoux cult in spotlight: The WCG-related splinter group The Body has been featured in recent news reports. This item was carried by AP.

TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) The lawyer for a woman accused of starving her infant son to death to fulfill a religious prophesy said Monday that she was a victim of her domineering husband, and of the splinter sect to which they both belonged. The prosecutor countered that the real victim was Samuel Robidoux, the baby who died in 1999 just shy of his first birthday after slowly wasting away for months while his parents withheld solid food. The jury began deliberations Monday afternoon in the trial of Karen Robidoux...

And CNN is carrying the full report on their website: 

New web ring: Sharon Mooney has notified MD of a new web ring which features links to her web pages. According to information at the site "This ring is open to testimonies of former WCG Co-Workers and Members, and webpages which have related themes."

Prophecy in the new, improved WCG: Canadian WCG publication Northern Light focuses on "prophecy" in its latest issue. Some of the articles have been recycled from other places, but if you want the cult's current position on apocalyptic prediction in one place, this may be the best choice. These fascinating comments come from editor Bill Hall:

Growing up, I certainly heard a lot about Bible prophecy. There were many nights (especially after hearing a particularly loud sermon on the “end times”) that I would wake up in a cold sweat after dreaming about German soldiers marching down that same main street of my town.

We share your pain Bill, we really do. Now if you wanna see some traditional hellfire, doomsday apocalyptic in the pure Herbal tradition, you could check out the severely misnamed Good News magazine for January-February... Just look for the lurid "4 Horsemen" artwork on the cover.

31 January. ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY, CGI MINISTER COMMENTS. Mail: Indiana COG goes invisible, COG half life, MD granted reprieve

Dispatches from the trenches: First, this January 20 letter to ICG's Board of Directors.

It is a very serious matter anytime the subject of removing the credentials of a minister of God is considered. I believe that the time has arrived for this action to be taken in the matter of Mr. Tom Kerry.

As you are aware, through my letter of January 19, Mr. Frank Scherich and myself had a very disheartening experience during our meeting with the New Orleans church. At this meeting Mr. Scherich and I were treated as enemies instead of fellow members of God's church. Mr. Kerry ridiculed both of us with occasional laughter at our attempts to answer the accusatory questions that came from the congregation. Mr. Kerry also became very abusive in his demeanor at times calling me a liar directly and implying the same towards Mr. Scherich by stating that Mr. Scherich's statements about Mr. Kerry were false.

One of the very basics of Christian belief is reconciliation towards God and towards each other. Our attempts at reconciling the situation revolving around the accusations of the last month were met with total disregard by Mr. Kerry and his congregation.

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

Mr. Scherich and myself adhered to this scripture by pleading with Mr. Kerry and the New Orleans congregation to not take action until all of our misunderstandings could be remedied. Mr. Kerry responded by replying that he wanted nothing further to do with his brother Mark Armstrong.

Your own record, including Mr. Kerry's voluntary resignation as an Area Coordinator demonstrates his unwillingness to cooperate not only with the organization but also with the Church.

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Romans 16:17).

Mr. Kerry has demonstrated his willingness to divide this organization and the Church rather to go to any length to reconcile our differences.

I therefore recommend that the ministerial credentials of Mr. Tom Kerry be revoked and that he no longer represent the Intercontinental Church of God or it's members. It is with great sadness and reluctance that I write this, but I feel a greater obligation to the Church of God than to any man.

I pray that God will restore Mr. Kerry to the spirit of meekness and reconciliation before the return of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Respectfully in Christ,
Thomas D. Griffith, Jr.

And another, this time addressed to "The Ministry, Board Members and Hosts":

"...the two aforementioned men are more like a
festering cancer in the church than ministers."

After reviewing all the events of the past few weeks by Mr. George Trent and Mr. Earl Timmons, I have come to the conclusion they are no longer acting in the best interests of the Intercontinental Church of God. I do not believe I have to review all the items in question as they have been stated several times before by myself and others. At this point in time the two aforementioned men are more like a
festering cancer in the church than ministers. Any good doctor will tell you a cancer must be cut out or it will eat the entire body. Mr. Tom Kerry was kind enough to send an email to me stating he had resigned this last Sabbath, Jan 24. I have received no such email from Mr. Trent or Mr. Timmons, therefore it is my recommendation that the board revoke their ministerial credentials and forbid them to speak at any of ICG's local congregations now or in the future. They are apparently not resigning because they want to take as many of the ICG people with them as possible. This would take time as a cancer eats slowly at first then accelerates to a rapid speed at the end.

It is my sincere wish the Board of the ICG will take this recommendation under serious and rapid consideration.

Your brother in Christ,
Frank Scherich

And then there's this "summary" released today by ICG "for widest possible distribution":

From: ICG Board of Directors:
January 30, 2004

Re: Mr. Trent’s Letter of Jan. 26, 2004

The members of the Board of the Intercontinental Church of God are heartbroken that Mr. George Trent, who we considered one of our most valuable assets in the field, has chosen to join with others in trying to tear apart the organization left behind by Garner Ted Armstrong. The Board has done its utmost to answer questions and solve complaints, and at all times recognize that the very reason for the Board’s existence ultimately is the protection of the Church.

The Armstrong family placed great confidence in Mr. Trent, even inviting him to Tyler to perform Mr. GTA’s funeral service. While one or two individuals suggested, then pressured, then demanded that Mr. Trent be moved to Tyler, made Chairman, be put in “full and final authority...” he himself never did. We, however, looked to him for loyalty, and for support.

We were shocked to hear that Mr. Trent had gone to New Orleans (accompanied by those who had made the demands and threats) and publicly criticized headquarters and the Board of Directors, after which some in the New Orleans congregation voted to cut ties with the ICG. Three Area Coordinators and several others contacted the Board, expressing their opinion that Mr. Trent could not be allowed to be involved in severing congregations from the Church, while acting as an official of the Church. Hence, the Board’s regretful letter to Mr. Trent dated Jan.27.

One point to address right up front: Mr. Trent is concerned that the GTA-EA “Articles of Incorporation” state that one of the purposes of the organization is to “sell, convey, mortgage, pledge lease exchange, transfer or otherwise dispose of all or any part of its assets as shall be deemed expedient or required.” This is standard legal jargon. It is quoted straight from the non profit code of the State of Texas! It simply authorizes the organization to do business under the law. It legally authorized the organization to acquire the property in Tyler, and to build the office building. This in no way may accrue to the personal benefit of any individual. The Bylaws clearly state precisely that. Mr. Trent quotes that in his letter. 

There have been many assertions and characterizations that should be addressed. As there have been so many letters and events referenced, it may be helpful to document a time line.


Summer 2002, Tom Kerry officially resigned as Area Coordinator

May 2003, Mr. GTA officially acknowledged Tom Kerry’s resignation as Area Coordinator in a meeting of the Board of Directors.

Sept. 15, 2003, Mr. GTA died.

Oct. 11, Feast of Tabernacles began

Oct. 17, Board met in PCB, No one was authorized to do business (such as signing checks to pay bills) on behalf of the ICG. Mr GTA had been the only one authorized to sign ICG checks. The Board asked Mark Armstrong to accept the position of Chairman so that operations would continue uninterrupted. It was done on an interim basis. The issue was brought to the Ministry at large for their recommendations on Nov. 12, as has been so often reiterated. 

Nov. 15, Area Coordinator meetings began. All present recognized that the description of “Chairman” fit only one man, Garner Ted Armstrong. Who else was preaching the gospel on television, radio, booklets, etc., etc.? The AC’s all agreed, no one in the organization fit the description of Chairman in the Bylaws, to the letter. 

Nov. 16, AC’s met early, Board met afterward, agreed that Mr. Trent would be Superintendent of the Ministry. Everyone was in agreement, as far as we knew at the time. 

Dec. 10, Tom Kerry wrote first letter critical of Board to all Elders and Hosts in the Southeast. He did not bring a “grievance” to the Board, but rather sent arguments and complaints to the “Leadership in the Southeast.”

Dec. 15, Tom Kerry wrote second letter (1 page) reiterating criticisms of the Board, and suggesting that Mr. Trent was in support of his letter writing campaign.

Dec. 18, Mr. Trent contacted Board for input on how to deal with Tom Kerry’s letter-writing to the “Leadership in the Southeast.” Mr. Trent had written a draft of a letter to rebut some of Mr. Kerry’s points. He never sent that letter, except to the Board, requesting input. It was marked “Private and Confidential”. (We’ve been advised that since this is “business” and since these matters have already been characterized in writing, that it cannot be considered “private.”)

Mr. Trent to the Board, Dec. 18, 2004: “For Your Review. I suspect this letter will possibly stimulate anger in some when they read this. However, Tom (Kerry) stepped over the line when he intimated that I supported his efforts. He did not have the courtesy to send me a copy of his cover letter in his latest mailing. As Superintendent of the Ministry I only followed the guidelines in not micro-managing the ACs. I knew Tom was writing letters but NEVER acknowledged my approval. In fact, I advised the other ACs of possible repercussions. This must stop NOW! It is causing DIVISION & STRIFE in God’s Church. Please read the letter I have drafted to send to the Leadership of the Southeast. If you have any problems with any part, let me know. 

You must be aware that there may be some damage here. If, after this if Tom doesn’t resign, I hear of any further discussion or continuance of this issue I will pull Tom’s speaking credentials, and remove him from “Acting” AC status. Let me know if you are willing to pay this price. If we don’t, we will surely be divided. Let me know, please.” 

Consider the Board’s response, Dec. 20 (characterized as “furious” in Mr. Trent’s Jan. 26th letter.) The first paragraph regarded approval of Tom Griffith being named AC to replace Mr. E. B. Vance following his death.

To: Mr. George Trent
From: ICG Board (*excluding Mr. Mark Armstrong)
Subject: Your request for input ie: Mr. Tom Kerry

With prayerful consideration of your request for input regarding Mr. Tom Kerry’s writing of --at least-- questionable letters to the Elders and Hosts of the Southeast Region:

1. The Board has placed in your hands, the authority to deal with matters such as these and has full confidence in your judgement.

2. We appreciate the agonizing time and effort it must have taken to spend on such a needless, unpleasant, offensive matter.

3. The heart of the matter is — in your own words— in your first paragraph under Private & Confidential: “Tom stepped over the line when he intimated that I supported his efforts...” “This must stop NOW! It is causing DIVISION AND STRIFE in God’s Church.”

4. The Board is in full agreement with you.

5. God is not the author of confusion, and Mr. Kerry’s letters are confusing and causing confusion, as you have witnessed, along with far too many others. They aspired to cast doubt on the credibility of the Board, and on the GOOD FAITH IN WHICH WE ALL ACTED during our ONLY meeting on Sunday November 16th, so all of this oration i.e. the Board “rejecting” proposal(s) on Saturday the 15th could not have been possible.

6. Whether intentional or not, Mr. Kerry misrepresents many aspects of what took place in Tyler, and has, regrettably, sent those misrepresentations to ALL THE CHURCH’S CONGREGATIONS throughout the Southeast.

7. Any further attempts to appease each of his charges and assertions can only result in further confusion. As has been stated, “ALL WERE IN AGREEMENT.”

8. You cautioned in your opening paragraph that if you “hear of any further discussion or continuance of this issue” action you might take. Well, just for the record, Mr. Ted Armstrong— upon Mr. Kerry’s request— allowed him to work toward the best interests of the Church on the condition that it be of a positive and constructive nature. He has never been RE-instated as an AC.

9. Until his damage has been undone, and all concerned are confident he has ceased completely from “sowing discord” in order to “clear up relentless, endless questions,” etc. May we recommend you consider that Mr. Kerry no longer be allowed to “act” as Area Coordinator.

10. This, however, is your decision and the Board will support you. Of course, you have the other legitimate AC’s for “intel” too. Just this, due to this being very “time sensitive,” we would request any action taken be swift and ASAP. Regardless, we need your dedication and expertise. We appreciate your contribution and sacrifices for God’s Church. Keep up the good work! How else can we help and support you and Mrs. Trent?

ICG Board Members, Colleen Vance, James Lamb, Larry Brookreson, Shirley Armstrong
(*Mark Armstrong chose to abstain— did not participate in the Board’s discussion.)

Does that sound like the Board was “furious?” 


Mr. Trent’s letter states that 95% of the money (your tithes and offerings) are in the EA, and that Mr. GTA made a statement to that effect. The answer is this. ICG checks go into the ICG account and are used to pay ICG bills (Ministerial expenses, church newspaper, sermon tapes, meeting rooms for Sabbath services, etc.) EA checks go into the EA account and are used to pay EA bills (Television production, TV Stations , office payments, salaries, etc.) It is up to the individual as to how they make out their checks. 

Financial Reports

Checks are issued and books kept by an outside accounting firm. Financial Reports are issued quarterly. As was mentioned in the Early Update Jan. 21, 2004, 

The position of “Chairman of Ecclesiastical Affairs” has been filled by senior Board Member, and long time Minister, Mr. Larry Brookreson. This was accomplished at the Board meeting held January 17th, referenced in the Jan. 21, Early Update. The Board certainly thought this would solve any outstanding complaints regarding the need for a Minister taking charge of “Ecclesiastical” matters within the church.

Our Corporate Attorney

Our corporate attorney was consulted, not to interpret God’s laws, but to make certain that the Church remained in compliance with the Bylaws as they relate to the laws of the State of Texas.

Membership on the Board

Some have made issue of the qualifications for membership on the Board. The Bylaws indicate that a qualification for Board membership require church membership for a period of ten years or more. Please refer to Article 7 page 6 of the Bylaws which states plainly that Church membership includes “anyone who has been in voluntary attendance at the weekly Sabbath services and the annual Holy Days,” in addition to baptism. 


As was stated immediately following Mr. GTA’s death, there will be NO DOCTRINAL CHANGES in the Intercontinental Church of God. The doctrines are set forth and spelled out in all the literature and tapes, and that material will continue to be made available to members of the Church and to the general public! 

The Work

As Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong so often stated, we are called to do a Work, not to “play church.” This organization will continue to pursue that calling to whatever degree God blesses it. We wish to put this matter behind us now, and direct all our efforts to the fulfillment of His Great Commission.

Sincerest apologies for all the confusion and upset. The Board has done its best to act in the best interests of the Church, as Mr. GTA would have expected. If mistakes were made, they were not intentional. The Board thanks all of you who have expressed confidence and loyalty. 

Never the less, not our will, But His be done, 

From: ICG Board of Directors
Larry Brookreson, Chairman

So, how's Chipper holding up in these troublous times? Here's what he wrote in his latest "Friday Update".

Dear Friends in the Field,

We've had an incredibly successful week from the standpoint of responses to the Garner Ted Armstrong telecast. A total of 840! This was the program which offered two audio tapes from my Dad entitled "All About Angels." 

The GTA web site just hit a lifetime milestone of 1,600,000 visitors. The number for this week, 6,748. There is a tremendous response for the "Angels" offer coming in there as well. 

We're heartened by the outpouring of love and support from so many of you who support the Work of the ICG and the GTA Evangelistic Assn. 

Our resolve to continue this Work has not been shaken. On the contrary. We are determined to press ahead with all the strength God provides.

Mark Armstrong

Crisis? What crisis?

Vance Stinson puts CGI perspective: Vance Stinson is well known to many readers as a minister in the Church of God International. He was a member of that church's ministerial council at the time the board asked GTA to go into retirement, and is currently in the employment of CGI at its HQ in Tyler, Texas. The following open letter addresses a number of issues Mr. Stinson believes are relevant in light of the current situation in ICG. It is quoted in full.

Vance Stinson

Garner Ted Armstrong left the Church of God International and founded new organizations early in 1998, after the CGI ministerial council voted unanimously to ask GTA to go into retirement until some point after the settlement of the sexual-assault lawsuit a local masseuse had filed against him two years earlier. As might be expected, during the process of leaving the CGI, GTA viciously attacked the home-office ministry, accusing us of digging up past sins—“spiritual graves [sic] robbing,” he called it—in order to “seize control” and, apparently, somehow feed our own evil desires for “power.”

The men of the ministerial council took no pleasure whatsoever in doing what they knew they had to do. Our actions were founded on biblical principles, not personal agendas or hidden motives. Yet, to this day, after several years and much time for reflection, those who followed GTA out of the CGI insist upon perpetuating the myth that our actions were politically motivated or prompted by ulterior motives.

I get the impression that, as far as ICG members are concerned, it’s just a given, a well-known and indisputable fact, that poor Mr. Armstrong was roughed up and badly mistreated by men he thought were his friends. This was evident in the cold reception I received from some of my former friends at GTA’s funeral. It has come across in many letters and emails we have received at the home office. One radical GTA supporter went so far as to compare me with Osama Bin Laden! While his extremism does not reflect the attitude of the majority, it is rooted in the same soil of misinformation.

I consider this a long-overdue defense, not an attack

An example of how ICG members assume without question the belief that our actions regarding GTA were rooted in ulterior motives appeared in a recent issue of the ICG’s Intercontinental News. An article in that edition repeats the claim that Garner Ted Armstrong was “betrayed by his friends.” GTA’s friends—those who allegedly betrayed him—include the home-office ministry and certain members of the ministerial council and board of directors of the CGI. The author of the article and many of his readers take for granted that Charles Groce, Bronson James, Benny Sharp, and I, among others, actually did betray GTA. For them it’s a given, a fact of history, beyond dispute.

Since these claims persist and have never been adequately addressed, it is time—no, long past time—for a rebuttal. I will be glad to meet with anyone who might wish to challenge me on the statements herein. I will meet with them in public or private; it makes no difference to me, for I have nothing to hide and much to say.

In past years—between GTA’s departure from the CGI in 1998 and his death in 2003—I have hoped for the occasion when the record could be set straight. I have told angry GTA supporters who were accusing me of heinous crimes against the man that I would be glad to meet with GTA and anyone else, in public or private, and answer any question asked of me or any charge made against the CGI or any of its personnel, pointing out that I have nothing to hide. I have made that offer numerous times. Unfortunately, it is now too late for a meeting with GTA and impossible for him to retract the many damaging charges he led his followers to believe about the “friends” who “betrayed” him. That being the case, I will now defend the actions of the CGI council by answering the charges ICG members never seem to question. Some will accuse me of attacking a man after he is dead. Call it what you will, but I consider this a long-overdue defense, not an attack.

(1) GTA accused us (particularly Charles Groce and me) of “spiritual grave robbing,” or “digging up past sins” and using those sins against him. FACT: I probably would not have learned of GTA’s five-year affair (which the masseuse incident brought to an end) had GTA and his wife Shirley not been engaged in “spiritual grave robbing.” It was that action on their part that set off a chain of events that led to my discovery of GTA’s affair. They opened that can of worms! Interestingly, while GTA was digging up someone else’s past sins in an attempt to get his beloved titles back, he was writing a booklet wherein he essentially consigns “spiritual grave robbers” to the lake of fire. His own words condemn him!

(2) GTA accused us of breaking the “priest-penitent law.” He claimed that we had told others of sins he had privately and confidentially confessed. FACT: GTA didn’t come to anyone to confess anything. He got caught on a couple of occasions, but he spent more time denying, spinning the truth, and shifting the blame than confessing. Further, if anyone was guilty of breaking the “priest-penitent law,” it was GTA himself! One of the sins he dug up in his effort to get his precious titles back was a sin that had been confidentially confessed to him two years earlier by one of his closest friends (whom GTA would later betray). GTA’s secretary and others conspired with him in “exhuming” this long-buried “rotting corpse.”

(3) When Charles Groce, during a discussion with GTA, expressed his concern that he (GTA) would eventually sell him down the river, GTA put his hands on Charles’ shoulders and, with quavering voice, said, “Charles, I would never sell you down the river. You are just too valuable to the ministry. I would just never do it.” (I was in the meeting and witnessed this.) Yet, we later learned, when GTA’s former mistress decided to “come clean,” that within a few hours or a day or so of GTA’s assuring Charles, “I would never sell you down the river,” GTA (with Shirley) was on the phone with his ex-mistress telling her that Charles had been dropping her name around the office (he had not!) and encouraging her to file a lawsuit against Charles “for breaking the priest-penitent law.” How’s that for not selling someone down the river?

Let me make it very clear: Garner Ted Armstrong was guilty of doing the very things he falsely accused us of doing! We did not betray him, as his admirers commonly claim; he betrayed us! I stand by that statement, and I am willing to defend it, as I said, in public or in private. I’m sure that ICG loyalists will dismiss everything I have said here and continue claiming that we “betrayed” their hero. To that, I say thank God that a day of judgment is coming, a day when those falsely charged will be vindicated and everyone will see who the real liars are.

I am fascinated by the fact that George Trent and Tom Kerry are so concerned about the leadership qualifications of Mark Armstrong. Since when did qualifications matter?

Another fact that should be noted is that GTA repeatedly told us that he would do what the council asked, just as any other minister would be expected to do. Yet, when the council asked him to go into retirement, he decided to leave the CGI and start new organizations. Interestingly, when he was on the CGI ministerial council, GTA once voted (as did all the other council members) to suspend the credentials of a minister who believed a sexual sin he had committed was about to be exposed in the media. The council—GTA included—knew this would bring scandal to the church, so the council members unanimously voted to suspend the man’s credentials, even though the sin had apparently taken place only once and happened seventeen years earlier! Now, how is it that a seventeen-year-old sin, because of the threat of scandal, can result in the suspension of a minister’s credentials, but decades of massive womanizing, a sexual-assault lawsuit, and a videotape featuring a naked GTA performing lewd acts in a massage parlor are not quite enough to disqualify a man from the ministry? Can someone explain that to me? (I am fascinated by the fact that George Trent and Tom Kerry are so concerned about the leadership qualifications of Mark Armstrong. Since when did qualifications matter?)

Another fact many seem to be unaware of is that we asked GTA to stay in the CGI and assured him that restoration to the ministry was possible. It is commonly believed that we put him out of the church. That’s simply not true; we asked him to stay! At the last CGI ministerial conference GTA attended, I asked him and Shirley to stay with the CGI and abide by the decision of the council. I also told them that I believed that restoration to the ministry could take place at some point. The council has been characterized as a group of merciless judges, but I maintain that we acted MERCIFULLY! ICG loyalists will scoff; but, again, I’ll be glad to defend my statements in a room full of ICG members!

The real issue seems to be lost on GTA’s followers. It’s a theological one, and it is the main reason I originally wrote to GTA asking him to go into retirement and informing him that I felt I had a responsibility to take the issue to the ministerial council. GTA and his followers have made it an issue of “forgiveness,” claiming that the problem is that we have not forgiven GTA. But forgiveness is simply not the issue. It never was. The real issue concerns responsibility and qualifications, especially regarding the effects that knowledge of GTA’s sinful behavior have on the “little ones” who are looking to us for spiritual guidance. Let me explain…

After the first time clips from the famous “GTA and the Masseuse” videotape turned up on TV (on Geraldo’s show), I began receiving calls from “little ones” requesting the removal of their names from our mailing list. They were utterly SHOCKED, as you might imagine, and could no longer trust or believe us because of what our leader had done. I knew that if I continued to support GTA, if I continued promoting him as the primary representative of everything we believed and stood for, I would be guilty of bringing shame to the name of Jesus Christ, of causing “little ones” to stumble, and of blatantly disregarding the high standards Scripture sets forth for the ministry. “Little ones” WERE being offended and turned away, and my support of GTA’s role as the chief representative for all that we believed and stood for made me a participant in that great evil! THAT was the main issue, and finally realizing it led me to conclude that I could no longer support GTA as the organization’s sole voice before the world.

First Timothy 3:2 tells us that an elder must be “above reproach.” Can a man be “above approach” if scenes of him wearing nothing but a smile and a pair of socks and making sexual advances in a massage parlor are aired on national TV? Can a man who is KNOWN for his sexual immorality—and has video footage to back it up—be considered “above reproach”? It amazes me that George Trent and Tom Kerry seem to be more upset over Mark Armstrong’s failure to meet the “qualifications” of GTA’s “inspired” Constitution and By-Laws than they ever were over GTA’s failure to meet the requirements of 1 Timothy 3:2. Go figure!

Don’t misunderstand; I don’t think that sexual sin always or permanently disqualifies a man from the ministry, but when a minister’s sins are before the public and bring such horrible shame to the church and to Christ’s name, and especially when “little ones” are being offended and driven away, that minister shouldn’t have to be told by an ecclesiastical board to step down; his own conscience should drive him to do it. Unfortunately, several ministers and members rejected the authority of the ecclesiastical body that acted on godly principles and did the right thing in dealing with GTA. They’ll have to answer for themselves. In the meantime, the least they could do is stop repeating the phony charge that we betrayed GTA.

Weekly Mailbag

Patience expires: Please can you tell me what has become Mr Glen Alspaugh, Franklin, Indiana? His web site has disappeared. At least, do you know if he is still alive? Thanks in advance.

MD: No idea. Anyone able to help?

Demographic implosion: A few weeks back I tangled with LCG apologist Bob Thiel regarding the demographic implosion facing the corporate COGs (including LCG). Bob in a rather manic and longwinded diatribe argued that he did not perceive the LCG membership as being any older than the WCG used to be. Recently at my request Bill Lussenheide who owns a marketing and investment company posted on the CEM forum his analysis of demographic trends in the corporate COGs. 

The COG has a half life of less than 15 years

According to Bill: "UCG has done a demographic study of its membership and its ministry. Median age is 58 plus. This compares to the United States national average age of 37. For many months I have done a private "Death to Birth" ratio study of the various COG member publications. For nearly all ORGS the ratio is about 2.5 to 3 deaths for every birth. 20 year anniversary or higher notices outnumber wedding announcements by about the same ratio. Anyone who doesn't see that the COG ORG is OLD compared to COG demographics 30 years ago, has a poor memory. 

There will be individual congregations that have unique demographics that differ from this, so don't email me telling me such. I'm talking about collective stats, which have less sampling errors. The COG has a half life of less than 15 years, in which half of its members will have deceased, and the other half will have a half life of just 7 years. Unless the COG ORGS can grow a NET gain of memberships of greater than 7% a year starting immediately, then they are demographically doomed."

Bill's excellent analysis should be a wakeup call to the complacent and rather dim witted members of LCG and UCG that God is not blessing their churches. Instead he is letting them die. Perhaps it is time for the membership of these churches to ask why and to challenge their unrepentant leaders.


To be or not to be: (1) I just noticed the blurb at your site about possibly shutting down Missing Dimension. What's happening? Cost, time, or what? You'd be sorely missed! IF you should decide to do so, PLEASE don't just let your archives disappear...


(2) Gavin, I truly enjoy your website and hope it will continue. It is my primary source for keeping up with the current state of affairs. I left WCG-original 8 years ago, but my husband remains an active, devoted member--hence my interest in knowing what is going on. However, I know the site demands of lot of your time to update and maintain. I just wanted to send you my appreciation for your efforts.

(3) I greatly missed Ambassador Watch while you were away (though I hope you enjoyed your holiday!), and was pleased and relieved to see it back. This is probably the most important news resource for all those interested in the extended (and dysfunctional) Worldwide family of Churches. Because you can update it every day, you have a huge advantage over the otherwise excellent Journal, which is not only monthly but, for UK readers, delivered a month after publication -- you can give us news almost as it happens. And, of course, the Journal is internal to the Churches, though independent of any one of them. Also, although readers who are members of any of the Churches will inevitably find some of the content and approach scurrilous, and sometimes offensive to them, your site is rare and invaluable in being equally critical of the old Worldwide, the new Worldwide, and all the splinter groups from the open and relatively liberal to the most closed and conservative.

But it must take a huge amount of work to keep it going. Yes, you have a lot of helpful informants, but the job of putting it all together and publishing it every day or so must take all your "leisure" time -- I assume that you also have a day job, and maybe a family. From the hint in today's Ambassador Watch, it looks as if, having had a break for a month, returning to the regular grind of this labor of love has brought this home to you.

If it's a choice between your closing the site down altogether, and keeping it going in a slimmed-down form, perhaps only weekly, with simpler and less time-consuming formatting, I hope you'll go for the latter...


(4) I hope you will be able to continue the Missing Dimension web site. It is probably the best source of news on the churches of God that is not filtered through an Armstrongist bias. Even a scaled down version would be preferable to none at all...

I hope that whatever you decide works out. Websites like yours do much good, but even Ed Mentel had to give up the Painful Truth in order to have a life.


(5) As an avid reader of Ambassador Watch, I wish to thank you for all the work you have done. As an X-AC grad, an X-WCG'er and one who is still very interested in the _CG's, I find your site one of the best at keeping me apprised to the current status of so many of these organizations.

I read your notice that the future of your site is unknown. I cannot know what your circumstances are for needing to reduce the updates or cease them altogether, but I feel that I speak for many asking that you continue. Your information is not only valuable to me, but healthy in my pursuit of healing from my experiences.

Whatever you decide, again thank you for your work. A job well done. Hope it continues.

K. Alan Lewis

(6) Anent the prospective closure of AW, is it perhaps a situation that calls for the preferred response of gutsy New Zealanders like yourself, to wit, "Nihil illegitimati te carborundum"?


(7) What gives? Many of us here in hinterland look forward daily to your site. You come up with information that most of us would never get...and such is most creditable.

If possible, expand your page...all the details we get are appreciated.

Any reason for your suggested demise?

(8) I hope you don't soon come to the point of closing your website. It provides a way for us to look into what is going on in the COG groups of today. I wouldn't know nearly as much of what is current today without your sources. I suffered pitifully from 30 years of abuse in WCG and some think we should just go on and forget. Sad thing is, those who think this way lack the education and understanding of the trauma from spiritual and emotional abuse by those one has given his/her life to. It was strongly implied that our punishments were from God through the ministry. We didn't get a picture of God's love, but of His anger and readiness to punish via the anger of the ministry. At least, this was the experience of many of my friends and myself. I had been made afraid of God and accepted mistreatment that I otherwise would never have tolerated. 

(9) It would be a real shame if the site had to close down. I know it takes a lot of your time etc to keep the site running. It gives us ex worldwiders an insight as to the continued shenanigans of the old ministers etc. I for one do really appreciate the time etc you put into the site and are very thankful for the information you provide.

Andrew Milne

(10) Hope you will continue to publish Ambassador Watch. I realize maintaining such a website and publishing AW is a drain on finances and especially your time.  All I can say is I think you are having more of an impact than you realize and that change is coming slowly but surely. If the COGs do evolve into a half-decent and ethical organizations it will be because people like you kept the pressure on their leadership.

(11) It is refreshing to have you back! I had read that you may quit the website... I hope you will be able to find time to continue to keep us up to date. I really appreciate the website and all the time you spend to get all the news on one page (or whatever it takes)... Gavin, thank you and I hope you will continue with Ambassador Watch/Missing Dimension... The website is very informative, and it is the first website I check out when I turn on my computer... I am a former member of WCG (28 years) and the info given is very interesting. Thanks again.

V. F. Richardson

MD: Thank you to everyone who wrote, whether on or off the record. The website will probably continue for the next 6 months, but will need to be reviewed again then based on time commitments. Meantime the mailbag will move to a weekly schedule.


Meanwhile, back in Pasadena: From a special correspondent. About a year or so ago, Bernie Schnippert sent out a memo to all Pasadena employees. In that letter he said that no employee was to store any personal belongings on campus in any of the buildings (even if it was your workspace or office).

Strange then that now the employees have been watching Bernie move all of his personal belongings into an additional apartment on campus and into 3-4 garages. He is using two apartments for his family - a second one is reportedly for use by his daughter and wife. Furniture, motorcycle, cars and boats now occupy the garages. But remember, no employee is allowed to live on campus or store any belongings. So the logical question to ask is: is Bernie paying market rent for both apartments and storage rates for the three garages? 

Trent bites back: We've heard one side of the ICG debacle. Here's the other. Be warned, this is a lengthy epistle. The typos are retained in the interests of authenticity.

26 January 2004

Letter To The Churches

Greetings fellow members of the Body of Christ -- The Church of God

I suppose by now many of you are thoroughly confused, extremely angry, perplexed, and heart sick after being bombarded by a constant barrage of emails, innuendoes, half-truths, character assassinations and suppositions. At first glance, it truly looks like a bunch of tyrants are rebelling "against God's True Church", similar to the Korah rebellion.

George Trent

Having been through two apostacies before, I have learned to recognize propaganda techniques utililzed by groups and organizations when they are trying to hide something or cover up the real issues. If they can divert your attention, they can keep you from focusing on the TRUTH.

So far, I have heard that I have been engaged in a power struggle with Headquarters attempting to "take over the Church". Another has said I wanted to start my "own" church and draw away members from the Intercontinental Church of God. I have "heard" that I have resigned and gone off on my own. Now, today I understand I have been marked. That means you can't have any contact with me, and will probably get in trouble if you even read this letter. That means you can't think for yourselves any more. (Reminds me of the old days in Worldwide).

Some of you have emailed me or phoned me expressing displeasure that I would do such a thing to God's Church. You have already made up your mind. Surely, the Church can't be wrong? How well I remember 1986 and 1995. I suppose some of you have forgotten. Everything has been going so well. We have our weekly potlucks, spokesman clubs, picnics, and other activities. Why rock the boat? It may behove you to read Proverbs 18:13 and Proverbs 18:17.

Now, let me explain exactly what the ISSUE is. Blow all the smoke and mirrors away. The primary issue is this. The Board of Directors of the Intercontinental Church of God failed to adhere to the Constitution and By-Laws written by Garner Ted Armstrong under God's INSPIRATION, (he said so), in selecting a Chairman for the ICG. That is it! That is where all this began.

Most of you probably did not even know, I know none of the Area Coordinators, except ONE, knew of a Special Board Meeting conducted at the Feast of Tabernacles in Panama City Beach , Florida this year (2003). During the meeting the Board selected Mark Armstrong as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ICG. What an excellent opportunity to make the ANNOUNCEMENT-- God's Feast of Tabernacles. However, there was no mention of it, except to a few. Why would an appointment so significant as appointing the Head of God's Work here on earth not be announced? Certainly all other announcements have been made known, recently appointed Board members, pastor of the Tyler Church, AC for Region 6, Superintendent of the Ministry, Chairman of Ecclesiastical Affairs, new AC for Eastern Canada. All made known to the Church. But the Chairman of the Church, not a word.

Shortly after the feast the AC's requested an AC conference in Tyler to discuss future leadership training sessions, future campaigns, and other church related matters. However, just prior to the meeting scheduled for November 15-16th word "leaked" out of Mark's appointment as Chairman. That created a serious problem because it is evident, pursuant to Article X, Section two of our Constitution and By-Laws that Mark IS NOT ELIGIBLE for that position. Don''t believe me, get a copy of the By-Laws and read it with your own eyes. It is evident that that position MUST be held by an ORDAINED MINISTER of the Church of God. This is the position previously held by Mr. Ted Armstrong.

However, many ASSUMING that Mark would automatically assume his father's position, I being one of them at first, did not question the appointment at that time. However, on careful evaluation of the By-Laws and the scriptures relating to ordinations, it was pointed out to Mark that he was not eligible, and, that the Board did not follow the guidelines for selecting a successor to Mr. Ted Armstrong. (Some have said the position is to be passed on to the son. What did the apostles do when they died? What a struggle it must have been for twelve sons fighting for the top position as God's anointed.)

On November 12th Mark Armstrong hastily had Chris Cummings send an email to the ministry. I quote, "The Board of Directors of the Intercontinental Church of God has asked me to make contact with all of you in the ministry to request your recommendations for the successor of Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong as Chairman, as set forth in the Constitution and By-Laws. A board meeting was convened toward the end of the Feast by the Vice Chairman Mr. James Lamb (Actually the corporation documents have Shirley Armstrong as Vice President). The members discussed the issue and a resolution was passed electing me, Mark Armstrong to the Board as President. This will only stand until your recommendations have been received in writing by the Board of Directors, and the Board re-convenes to consider whether another choice should be made for the appointment of Chairman to a five year term as set forth in the corporate documents. Please send recommendations..."

You will note that Mark did not advise the ministry that he was not eligible. He did not send them a copy of the constitution and by-laws requirements, nor did he send a letter to any of the ministers who do not have email.

Naturally, all other issues we planned to discuss at the conference November 15th were pushed aside and this issue became Top Priority. On Saturday morning, November 15th the AC's met with Mark Armstrong in the Board room to discuss this most significant issue. Mr. Tom Kerry (who was an AC, but not carrying the title, else, why was he there?) presented a proposal to the Board for review. Basically, the proposal which had been approved by four of the six AC's present,( I abstained since I was the one recommended,) and one other AC did not sign the document ,the same one who had been advised of the secret meeting in Panama City Beach. The seventh original AC, Mr. E.B. Vance lay dying in a Tyler hospital room. I wish he had been there.

The proposal was to have Mr. George Trent serve for one year as the interim Chairman to get us through our immediate needs to give us a year to find our way following the loss of Mr. Armstrong. This proposal was REJECTED by the Board. The Board in turn presented a proposal to make George Trent Superintendent of the Ministry to handle the affairs of the Church. The AC's were not happy, but agreed to try it. All quickly departed for scheduled flights or travel home.

Several weeks passed. Mark Armstrong contacted me several times a week. He would run the Friday Update by me for discussion. We talked about sermons going out on the video tape program. However, when I received the Intercontinental News I wondered who had edited it for content. I wondered who was editing the content of videos being sent out to the field as well, as I knew I certainly could not from WV. I also wondered who was in charge of approving ministerial expenses. In the course of performing my duties I talked to several hosts and ministers and found out Mark had been talking to them too. Some of the content was rather alarming to me. I thought we needed a meeting to discuss the delineation of our roles, as they appeared to be conflicting. We agreed to meet.

However, in the meantime, Mr. Kerry continued to believe we had compromised with the word of God in accepting the Superintendent proposal. The procedures were clear in the By-Laws, we HAD NOT followed them.

Mr. Kerry advivsed Mark and the Board of this. They did nothing. They said we have decided the issue with the Superintendent proposal. Mr. Kerry took a friend to Mark and the Board. Again, nothing. The same response. On December 10th, 2003 Mr. Kerry took the issue to the churches in his area. The Board was furious. They advised me he was not an AC and should be made to stop acting as an AC. He was causing discord in the churches. The grievance Mr. Kerry took to the Board could have been taken by any Church member. They advised me to remove him from Acting AC. I started to do it, but decided to search the scriptures and the by-laws further to see what Tom was so adamant about. Then I saw it! He was right! You cannot compromise God's Law, or principles of God's Law. (If you do not have a copy of Mr. Armstrong's tape, God Will Not Work It Out, locate one and listen to it. He said, "if you compromise with God's Law, God will send you a delusion and you WILL BELIEVE A LIE."

When I refused to fire Mr. Kerry I was labeled as incompetent and was "not doing my job". My job is to do what is right and not shake my head up and down when someone tells me to do somehting or pulls a string. From that point on, I was left out of the loop with Tyler. I had very little contact with them. I tried to remain neutral, hoping the Board would see their mistake and do the right thing. That being, select a Chairman pursuant to the Constitution and By-Laws. The issue could have ended there. But, unfortunately, it didn't.

My meeting with Mark was postponed. In the meantime, Mark began to leak certain issues to the Church via his Weekly Updates. You began to be made aware of certain issues Mark was dealing with, but did not know what was taking place behind the scenes. None of the other AC's wanted their Areas to know what was happening because we knew it would upset them. We hoped the Board would resolve the issue. It didn't!

I now want to turn your attention to Mark's Early Update released January 22, 2004, page 2-3, last paragraph, "Since the problem was the impossibility of complying with the letter of the By-Laws, clearly written with the talents, abilities, and life experience of my Dad, GTA, in mind, we thought it only prudent to consult with the attorney who helped my father with them originally, and ask his advice. He indicated that I filled more of the qualifications than anyone in the organization, and that I was in a position to continue the Work of the Church, except for the portions which indicated "ecclesiastical functions." This includes approval of ordinations and authority issues in regard to the Ministry...."

Now, let me ask you some very important questions:

1) Since when do we go to attorneys to interpret the word of God."..we thought it prudent to consult with an attorney who helped my father with them originally, (Yes, to guide him in the construction of the By-Laws to conform to Texas law, but, has Garner Ted Armstrong EVER needed an attorney to INTERPRET THE LAW OF GOD? Absolutely NOT! Neither would Paul (ICor. 6).), and ask him for advice." "He, the ATTORNEY, indicated that I (Mark Armstrong) filled more of the qualifications than anyone in the organization, and that I was in a position to continue the WORK of the Church, except for the portions which indicate ecclesiastical function..." Ecclesiastical functions outlined here are ordinations and authority issues in regard to the Ministry. What does that mean?

2) What does the Bible say about gifts and talents? Where do they come from? I Cor. 12. James 1:16-17 "Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (No compromises here. Not even a shadow!) Could God not provide the gifts and talents outlined in the Constitution? Did he not provide them to all the prophets and other men of God? Do we limit God Almighty by saying, no one qualifies.

3) Where are we to go to find directions for selecting a minister? A local attorney? No! Acts 6, Acts 1, I Tim. 3:, and Titus 1, to name a few.

4) Why was I replaced as Superintendent of the ministry? Can anyone produce a letter of resignation?

5) The most important points of all. Why was it so important that Mark Armstrong be appointed Chariman? Why was it done in a secret meeting in Panama City? Why did the Board NOT follow the Constitution & By-laws, and more importantly, the Word of God, in selecting a Chairman? Why have they twisted the very constitution upon which our ORGANIZATION was founded to meet their needs? Now who did we say was after POWER and CONTROL?

Don't blame Mark Armstrong for this. He has been put in a most precarious position by powers behind the scene. He has turned against the sound advice of the elders and sought counsel from men who are vying for position and power. Oh yes, each one has his own agenda. You just don't see it yet. But it is coming. Notice where the emails are coming from. Notice the power plays. Each one sending out emails, more powerful than the other. Notice who has been calling you on the phone. Notice who has been attacking the very ones who pointed out the Board's mistake. Now, we are out, and there is NOONE to keep them in check. Mark has lost control. I guarantee you, no ministry under the supervision of Garner Ted Armstrong would be conducting business as you see now. Never once did I hear Mr. Armstrong spue vehement remarks about another person. He ALWAYS forgave them and turned the other cheek. That is why I loved and respected, AND FOLLOWED HIM. Because he exemplified Christ as much as he humanly could. You are watching the demise of what was once a wonderful organization.

Now, let's blow away the smoke screen once again. I have been accused of attempting to take over the Church. Power and vanity have overtaken me! I am lusting for the power to control the mighty and powerful church with all its assets It has been said.

You need to understand that there are two separate organizations in Tyler. The first, the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, and, secondly, The Intercontinental Church of God. Read this very carefully! ALL the assets of the Church, the buildings, the grounds, the equipment, and 95% of the money (your tithes and offerings) , according to Mr. Ted Armstrong, are in the EA. Now, let's assume for a minute that I gained control of the Church by being made Chairman. What do I have to gain? There isn't anything ! Oh yes, one very important thing. THE PEOPLE -- YOU. I covet that responsibility as you are what the ministry is all about anyway. It isn't power! It isn't pride! It isn't speaking at the feast in front of the people! For the past twenty-three years I have spent every Friday night preparing sermons, I have conducted numerous funerals for people that I dearly loved and still ache from missing them, I have driven hundreds of miles to anoint the sick, to visit brethren who were on their death beds, I have baptized many repentant believers, and traveled thousands of miles to preach sermons and visit with many of you on God's Holy Sabbath. I did not learn that from an attorney or from the back of a camera. I am sure Mr. Kerry has done the same thing. And now, they say we are trying to take over and destroy God's Church.

If you would please refer to Mark's 22 January 2004 Early Update letter again. In the very second paragraph Mark wrote, " Please note what my Dad wrote into the By-laws, "In case of dissolution of this corporation, no physical assets, real properties, equipment or financial instruments of any kind shall accrue to the personal benefit of any office of the corporation."

I have a copy of the Incorporation document filed by Mr. Armstrong on 19 July 2001 with the Secretary of State in Texas. (Public information.) It was filed pursuant to the provisions of article 9.01 of the Texas non-profit corporation act... Article four, point six clearly states that one of the purposes of the organization is to "sell, convey, mortgage, pledge, lease, exchange, transfer, or otherwise dispose of all or any part of its assets as shall be deemed expedient or required. You will also note on that document that only three names existed: Garner Ted Armstrong, Shirley Armstrong, and Mark Armstrong. With Mr. Armstrong gone, that left only two. Perhaps that is why, after a little prompting from the rebels, that four new members have been added to the Board of the GTA Evangelistic Association. Now! It's all legal. You sheep can go back to sleep. Oh yes, you may want to ask why you haven't received an audit from either of those organizations in five years. I know it isn't important, but the Constitution and By-Laws require an ANNUAL AUDIT. Let's just change it and do away with an audit.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, if you still call me that, you had better open your eyes and look through the smoke screens of innuendoes, half truths, personal character assassinations, and lies. You had better look to your only Saviour, Jesus Christ and His Holy Word. If you are looking for an organization to save you just keep sitting there like dumb sheep and don't worry where your tithes and offering are going. Remember, they aren't yours, they aren't the Armstrongs THEY ARE GOD'S!

On January 24th, 2004 I delivered a sermon in New Orleans to the New Orleans Church and in that sermon I asked the Board to once again REPENT and do the right thing. Is that asking too much? Mr. Tom Kerry and the majority of the New Orleans congregation withdrew their support from the ORGANIZATION called The Intercontinental Church of God that day. They already know what you are just now finding out.

I waited patiently for the Board to make things right. I sent an urgent email to the AC's and the Board January 15th asking for a meeting to resolve this issue. I knew we were headed for Division. On January 16th I received a fax from Mark Armstrong advising me as follows," As I mentioned in my letter January 9th, a special Board meeting has been called to resolve any remaining concerns regarding the Chairmanship of the Intercontinental Church of God." I was further advised the Church Attorney would be advising the Board of Directors in regard to any action to be undertaken." You have the results of the Boards meeting in the January 22, 2004 Early Release from Mark Armstrong.

On January 24th I kept a scheduled speaking engagement in New Orleans. I called upon the Board once again in my sermon to repent. Instead, another barrage of emails began flying, reports of resignations was forwarded to many churches. Reports based on innuendoes and rumors.

On January 25th I met with Mr. Tom Kerry to discuss what we would do for the caring of the flock who would be calling us when they saw through this charade. We will begin preparing video tapes and other materials for those who can no longer support an organization that compromises with the Word of God. We have been accused of trying to siphon off members from the ICG. How many calls have you received from Tom Kerry or me asking you to join us? I will admit we have had quite a few who have asked about joining us. And there will be more, and more, and more...

After the Board's decision, I knew I could no longer support the ORGANIZATION of the lCG. How could I ever get up before a congregation and preach another sermon about obedience to God's Holy Righteous Law knowing I had compromised it? If any speakers read this, I ask you the same thing.

When I decided to support Mr. Ted Armstrong in 1995 I exercised my sovereign right to join him, voluntarily, and support him in the WORK. Mr. Armstrong is now dead. The whole complexion, goals, and objectives for that organization have now changed. As I exercised my right to join, I exercise my right to leave. It is only an organization. The Church of the Living God is a living organism filled with truth, honesty, integrity, and most of all love. Some have asked me, where is the love? I say to you, you may be looking in the wrong direction.

Some have asked, what will you do? Well, we will continue our calling. We were called to Feed the Sheep of God. The TRUE sheep are those who will NOT, under any circumstances willingly and knowingly compromise any phase of God's law. They will find us because we will still be playing that old familiar tune.

Now, if after all this, you still can't see through the smoke and want to remain with the ORGANIZATION. let me give you some things to look for. Perhaps you will wake up then:

1) Watch for an inordinate amount of ordinations or appointments to important positions. Rewards for loyalty.

2) Watch for continued email attacks on Mr. Kerry and me. Attacking our character.( Well, I admit I have flaws, but so does everyone.) But, that isn't the issue here, remember.

3) Watch for infightings as the new leaders vie for position and control.

4) Watch for subtle doctrine changes to slip into sermons and bible studies. (Have you caught the two already?)

5) Watch church literature for "idea babies" to pop up.

6) Watch for church formats to change.

7) Watch for the emergence of the heirarchial type of government implemented under Herbert Armstrong.

8) Watch the organization fall apart from within as God has already removed his candlestick and will surely place it someplace else.

May God Bless You All,

George Trent

Well, that was fun. But wait, there's more!

Dear Mr. Trent,

It has become apparent that your loyalties are no longer with Intercontinental Church of God.

Based on your participation in the events which took place in New Orleans this weekend, and your close ties to those who are actively causing division (Roman 16:17) among the congregations of the Intercontinental Church of God, after prayerful consideration, we regret to inform you that you are no longer authorized to represent the ICG before congregations, in writing or in person.

You are no longer to represent yourself as an Area Coordinator or a minister of the Intercontinental Church of God. 

This action has been recommended by three Area Coordinators and numerous other ministers and hosts of the Intercontinental Church of God.

We are very disappointed in your course of action, and sorry that it has come to this.

With sorrow and regret,

The Board of Directors
Larry Brookreson, Chairman 


ICG Bun fight continues: Mark Armstrong has been explaining tax receipts and Tom Griffith has been warning the flock about departing ministers. First here's the word from Chipper:

My Dad, GTA is the one who conducted the business of obtaining the financing and building the office facilities. Apparently, the bank's lawyers mistakenly filed papers in my Dad's name without including "Evangelistic Association" after his name. This only came to our attention recently, and we have taken steps to correct the mistake.

Any accusation that my Dad intended that the property be in his personal possession is absolutely crazy. I personally attended the real estate closing on the property, and there was no question that he (GTA) was acting as an officer of the GTA-EA. For him or any of his heirs to benefit financially from this asset would be illegal, and carry serious penalties.

My Dad died before 2003 tax receipts were issued (Oct. 31) and I feel certain he never even knew of this error. I believe the papers will have been filed to correct this situation by the time you read this letter.

It was brought to our attention in November that tax receipts had been issued in the name of my Dad, Garner Ted Armstrong relating to the office building. We contacted our attorney to resolve the question. He wrote to us Dec. 9, and explained that the property note is in the name of the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, but that my Dad was required to guarantee the note personally, placing at risk his own personal assets in the event of a default. That may be what led the bank's legal or clerical staff to make the error. (That error has been corrected.)

Griffith writes:

To all Ministers and Hosts of the ICG:

It has come to my attention that a meeting of the New Orleans congregation on January 24th resulted in the decision to discontinue fellowship with the ICG. It is also my understanding that this decision received the support of Mr. Tom Kerry and Mr. George Trent. Because of this, it is my opinion that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Trent should no longer be permitted to represent the ICG or speak before any of the churches or hosted groups of the ICG and that said churches or hosted groups refrain from accepting the statements of these individuals without first having contacted the Tyler office to receive current updated information on this sadly developing situation.

I further recommend that Mr. Earl Timmons, because of his support of the false accusations against the board of directors of the ICG, no longer be allowed to represent the ICG.

I strongly urge all of the current leadership of the field churches of the ICG to follow the precepts of God's word, get on their knees before God, and ask that the truth in this situation be revealed to them and that everyone refrain from "jumping" to rash decisions before having had an opportunity to receive "both" sides of the story.


Tom Griffith, Minister

If it was indeed a palace coup, it seems to be a spectacularly low-profile one. The new faction has been slow to make use of the Internet to put their case. Almost all of what we know comes from the loyalists. If and when the newly disaffiliated group makes a statement we'll try and publish it - so that readers have, to use Griffith's words, an opportunity to receive "both" sides of the story.

Robidoux update: One of the least appealing WCG offspring is "The Body", which continues to be exposed to the glare of public scrutiny as court actions proceed. A recent update can be found at Thanks to Dateline Pasadena for providing the link.


Unless the Lord shall build the house...  The words of the old Dwight Armstrong hymn (#96 in the old Bible Hymnal) must still be ringing in the ears of many ICG members as their sect lurches deeper into crisis. According to a report on one of the newsgroups two Area Coordinators have jumped ship, Tom Kerry and George Trent (the minister who preached at Garner Ted Armstrong's funeral just a few months ago.) Also named by the same source, Earl Timmons. 

A sincere thank you to those who have sent emails about the possible closure of the website announced just yesterday. It was "a swift response"! Some of the messages will appear in the next "mailbag" - probably at the end of the week. By that stage I also hope to have a clearer idea of what will be possible.


Mark Armstrong has sent out a lengthy epistle to smooth the ruffled feathers of the flock. Attached was this dramatic note from James Ricks.

Dear Brethren: 

I WAS JUST TOLD LATE LAST NIGHT THAT SEVERAL LEADERS IN OUR CHURCH WERE MEETING THIS WEEKEND IN NEW ORLEANS TO BREAK AWAY FROM THE CHURCH AND FORM A NEW CHURCH. They will be raiding all of our congregations for members if this call is true. They will probably use the normal methods of divide and conquer. They will try to separate out those that are negative and make accusations against anyone who stands in their way. They maybe sincere but I personally believe are being USED by the adversary of God’s Work to stop or hurt us. You should do all you can to properly protect the flock.

(written 1-22-04)
Would you print this off and make copies available to God's people. Remind them that one board member told me that Mrs. Armstrong has LESS POWER AND INFLUENCE now than she did during the 25 years or so she was on the board when GTA was alive. This is contrary to all the rumors the detractors are stirring up to deceive people. Also Tom Kerry asked the New Orleans Church, his own church to cut off ties with the national church 2 weekends ago. Many probably will follow him; therefore the church cannot allow him to continue as an acting Area Coordinator. I fear that some few are bitter that they did not get more power in the new governance (after GTA passed) and will now go for power by gaining personal followings in new organizations. (See Acts 20:29-31) I have seen this process many times and God never blesses it. Please encourage people to avoid these organizations and stay positive and to stay with the church. Most of the church is positive and will be just fine. Satan wants us stirred up and negative. If anyone needs more information, tell them to call me.

James Ricks

Armstrong's message reads:

Greetings to all from Tyler!

I alluded to the fact that I would be writing to all of you early this week to explain the actions of the Board of Directors regarding the organizational structure of the Intercontinental Church of God, and the GTA Evangelistic Association.

First, I’m pleased to report that four new members have been added to the Board of the GTA Evangelistic Association. Two are Ministers of the ICG (one of which is an Area Coordinator) and two are lifelong devoted members. They are Dr. James Ricks of Cape Girardeau, Mo., Mr. Stanley Roberts, pastor of the Tyler congregation, Mrs. Lois Chapman of Provo, Utah, and Mr. Ken Nelson of Tupelo, Ms. Please note what my Dad wrote into the Bylaws, "In case of dissolution of this corporation, no physical assets, real properties, equipment or financial instruments of any kind shall accrue to the personal benefit of any officer of the corporation..." This will hopefully answer any charges or innuendo regarding GTA’s "heirs" positioning themselves to "take over" or "assume possession" of any corporate assets.

I can also report that any who may have been concerned that I am "unqualified" or "ineligible" to be Chairman of the ICG Board, can now rest easy. There is now a Minister in the position of "Chairman," and very minor changes have been adopted to the By-Laws to reflect the sad reality that Garner Ted Armstrong is no longer with us to fill that position. 

As my Dad explained many times, the GTAEA and the ICG are two separate corporations, with separate bank accounts, that are cooperative in their mission. The GTAEA is primarily responsible for the preaching and teaching of the Gospel message to the world, and the ICG is primarily involved in the aspect of "feeding the flock." 

Of concern to some, has been the fact that I was named as Chairman of the ICG. I wrote to the Ministry on November 12, 2003 the following:

"The Board of Directors of the Intercontinental Church of God has asked me to make contact with all of you in the Ministry to request your recommendations for the successor of Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong as Chairman, as set forth in the Constitution and Bylaws. A board meeting was convened toward the end of the Feast by the Vice Chairman Mr. James Lamb. The members discussed the issue and a resolution was passed electing me, Mark Armstrong to the board as Chairman. This will only stand until your recommendations have been received in writing by the Board of Directors, and the board re-convenes to consider whether another choice should be made for the appointment of Chairman to a five year term as set forth in the corporate documents. Please send recommendations at your earliest convenience to Intercontinental Church of God, P.O. Box 1117, Tyler, TX 75710."

On the Sabbath, November 15, the Area Coordinators assembled in Tyler to talk about this issue, and a range of other subjects. You may recall the Church service, which was sent out on videotape, in which each of those men in attendance spoke for 5 to 7 minutes. I will mention that Tom Kerry had arrived with a two page letter which was critical of the Board’s action at the Feast, and recommended George Trent be made Chairman for an interim period of, I believe, one year. Three Area Coordinators signed that letter. However, it was never submitted to the Board for official consideration. 

The main sticking point in the AC meeting was the fact that the description of the "Chairman" was spelled out in such intricate detail that no one in the organization could fulfill it to the letter but my Dad, Garner Ted Armstrong himself. I have been active in the television, radio, and print aspects of the work with my Dad for many years, but had not been actively preaching from the pulpit in sermons and evangelistic campaigns. Many in the Ministry obviously have been active in preaching, but have no experience in the many other areas the By-Laws described. The vast majority of the Ministry responded quickly to the request for input, and well over 90% recommended me for the position. The Area Coordinators discussed the situation in the meetings, met amongst themselves off premises, and returned Sunday morning with a proposal, hand-written by Tom Kerry. It envisioned that the Board would confirm me as Chairman, and appoint George Trent as president. I told them I had no problem with it, but that the Board might balk at the title president. Part of the problem was that the by-laws often mentioned "Chairman and President" in the same breath, as it was intended to be one person.

The Board grappled with the problem for some time in an official meeting mid-day on Sunday Nov. 16. Dr. James Ricks knocked and entered with a handwritten list of titles he thought might be acceptable. One of them was Superintendent. Mr. Trent was invited into the meeting, presented with a draft resolution naming him Superintendent. He said it looked OK to him, and he returned to the ACs to ask their opinion. He came back to the Board shortly and announced that they agreed with the proposal with one minor change, and that was that it would read, "Superintendent of the Ministry." The Board agreed, and wrote it up. It indicated that the Superintendent of the Ministry would answer questions of a spiritual nature among the field Ministry, and "serve the needs" of the ACs.

With that, everyone shook hands and went home. If there was anyone unhappy with the agreement, it was not told to me or anyone on the Board at the time. Tom Kerry has since said that he "went on record" as saying he was unhappy with the outcome. He did not express this to me, and if he said this in the AC meeting when I was not present, no one mentioned it. 

Within three weeks, Tom Kerry began sending letters to the whole Southeast region to the Church elders and hosts claiming that the Board had violated the By-Laws, ignored "Mr. Armstrong’s wishes," that I was "ineligible," "unqualified" to be Chairman and so forth. He recommended that those with questions call or write HQ. Nobody did. The sad part from my perspective, is that I never asked for this title or position. I’ve only wanted to be free of the "Church politics" so that I can concentrate my attentions on doing the work here at HQ that God has blessed with your support through the years. However, after the Kerry letters, it became clear that Mr. Trent felt that the "Superintendent" position no longer had the respect and support intended, and even he indicated that the Board should revisit the "Chairman issue." 

Since the problem was the impossibility of complying with the letter of the By-Laws, clearly written with the talents, abilities, and life experience of my Dad, GTA, in mind, we thought it only prudent to consult with the attorney who helped my father with them originally, and ask his advice. He indicated that I filled more of the qualifications than anyone in the organization, and that I was in a position to continue the Work of the Church, except for the portions which indicated "ecclesiastical functions." This includes approval of ordinations and authority issues in regard to the Ministry. His suggestion was that the responsibilities be divided between "Ecclesiastical Affairs," and "Operations." This seemed to answer the concerns of even those few who were demanding a resolution other than the one reached November 16th.

The Board of Directors of the Intercontinental Church of God met this past Sabbath to consider minor changes in the By-Laws which would put the organization in complete compliance with the spirit and the letter of the legal documents, and answer the complaints of those who had exhibited discontent. It came as a surprise to me, when "Old Business" was addressed, and the minutes from April 5, 2003 were read aloud for approval (the last Board meeting that my Father conducted), that the Board was informed by GTA that Tom Kerry had resigned as Area Coordinator, and the resignation was officially acknowledged.

Bear in mind that my Dad set up the system of Area Coordinators, which made each of them the "Spiritual Leader" in their respective areas. This was, as he often said and wrote, to insulate him from the need to deal with specific problems or controversies that might arise in the field. Larger issues were left to the Board of Directors. With the death of Mr. GTA, it has been recognized that the Ministry and all of us in this organization have an added responsibility to help fill the void that has been created.

The input of the Ministry was requested November 12, as has already been noted. The Board felt it appropriate to name me, Mark Armstrong, the President of Operations, as I am the one who has been carrying out the operations aspects for the past six years. The Board has also selected a Chairman of Ecclesiastical Affairs from among the Ministers already on the Board, thereby not upsetting the AC system Mr. GTA put in place, and also not upsetting the balance of the Board he himself chose. The Bylaws explicitly exclude Area Coordinators from consideration for membership on the Board of Directors of the ICG. The By-laws explain that AC’s are appointed by the Board, and that to have an AC as a Board member would constitute conflict of interest. The Chairman will be called upon to approve ordinations, ensure the faithful teaching and preaching of the doctrines of the ICG from Headquarters as well as in the field, and to take any larger issues to the Board as a whole. A minor change in the wording of the By-Laws was considered and adopted, and copies of that amendment will follow. The Board elected by unanimous vote the new Chairman of Ecclesiastical Affairs, Mr. Larry Brookreson, a Board member who has served with Mr. GTA in that capacity since May 5, 1980. He was baptized into God’s Church in 1974, gave his first sermonette in Jekyll Island in 1978, and has been active in the Ministry since 1985.

Some have already exhibited such anger and bitterness, that no matter how carefully we have tried to address and solve these "issues," they... Well, let me just quote my Dad. Nobody can quite nail it down the way he did. He wrote the following quote in regard to challenges to the Board of Directors in the past. "We must not be bullied by enemies or detractors who would never be satisfied no matter what kind of a structure we presented to them."

I hope this letter has not upset any who have been blissfully unaware of the accusations and challenges. I’m afraid it would have been only a matter of time in any event. Thank you for the kind words of support so many of you have sent. Mr. Trent warned us in the Sermons he preached immediately after my Dad’s death that we would likely face "wolves" who would attempt to devour the flock. Tom Kerry preached here and at the Feast of Tabernacles, and elsewhere on the road, "Not here! Not now! Not in God’s church!" I thought it was a great sentiment, but apparently someone wasn’t listening. I believe that the actions the Boards of both the GTAEA and the ICG have undertaken demonstrate the good faith of those charged with the protection and the future success of these entities which so many of you have so faithfully supported. Regardless of what anybody else plans to do, we here at HQ are now going to devote our full attention to the Work God led my Dad to do, and the Work that we here have dedicated our lives to. We have not been called to God’s truth to engage in politics, or internal struggles, but to fulfill the two-part Great Commission our Father in Heaven has charged us with.

Love to all in the Work of Jesus Christ,

Mark Armstrong

The thorny issue of the ICG By-Laws was raised on Ambassador Watch on October 28, when we even quoted a few relevant sections. An October 19 AW item commented: It would be a brave pundit who was willing to predict that ICG will still be in one piece 6 months down the track.

Threescore and ten: Richard Burkard has drawn attention to the 70th anniversary of the launch of The Plain Truth magazine this February (funnily enough, the great occasion seems to have slipped the minds of Greg and the PTM crew). Richard has also begun a personal year-long project called 20 Years Ago in the Church of God. "Even in 1984", writes Richard with masterful understatement, "some of the statements were a bit curious."


Chipper under siege? As soon as it was known that Mark Armstrong was taking over his father's family business, we cheekily suggested that the tiny ICG sect would begin to disintegrate. Lo and behold, the words seem to have been prescient. Two reports reached MD yesterday.

The future of  The Missing Dimension, including Ambassador Watch, is currently under review. At this stage no final decision has been made - whether, for example, to close the site completely or to continue with a less frequent "no frills" version of AW. More information in a few days time.


The first comes from a GTA news board: after getting a bunch of email from some of the ICG area coordinators, today our local minister spoke to us about the New Orleans ICG independent group, London KY group and maybe others in the area, are breaking ties with the ICG under Mark Armstrong. Citing lack of qualifications and a real estate tax error, it seems some have lost trust in the Armstrong family.

The second appears to come from the Anointed Heir himself.

A couple of individuals insisted that we "bring in" a minister from the field to "perform the affairs of the Church" at HQ, or the church would "be destroyed." It began as insistence, and grew to be a threat that some now seem intent on carrying out. HQ is even receiving numerous harassing "hang up" calls every day now. How petty can it get? A couple even within our own Ministry seem intent on making outrageous accusations against my Dad, my Mom, me, the Board of Directors, and according to word that has reached us from many quarters, are gearing up to start another "splinter group." I'm so sorry. It's sad beyond belief. No one here wanted this, or saw it coming. It's as if God's people have not endured enough already. My profound apology for any upset which may ensue. As I said in opening comments during services week before last, "If anyone should question the integrity with which my Dad conducted himself in the formation of this organization, I will stand right here and defend it." Some have seized on paperwork from the county courthouse and pretended it represents a huge scandal. It does not. I have explained it to the complete satisfaction of all who have inquired, and will again as often as necessary. Again, my profound apology for the upset. I know that this kind of thing makes some people so sick at heart they just want to give up and quit without getting involved in accusations or disputes. I sympathize with that sentiment, but giving up and quitting is not an option for me, or any of the rest of our loyal Ministry and staff. Life was much simpler, and I must admit more enjoyable with my Dad at the helm. It's still difficult to accept the reality that he's gone. But it is an undeniable reality, and some won't rest until they've taken full advantage of it. For all of you who've expressed your unwavering faith and support, our deepest gratitude. We here must continue to press ahead, as God provides the strength and support. The witness and warning work which is our legacy, our calling, and our destiny will continue forth from these Headquarters offices. A restful and blessed Sabbath to all of you, in spite of it all. Our congregation here is experiencing good attendance, and steady growth. With Regret, and Sincere Thanks, Mark Armstrong.

That Journal Item! Feedback on our January 20 comments regarding the Journal story on "diverting money" includes these comments from the webmaster at The Painful Truth.

Good for you, refuting the Journal's silly allegations of the WCG and money diversion.... Of course they would never do something so crass and predictable... 

The Painful Truth 

Flurridian Film Floated: The following posting appeared on one of the news boards.

My name is Paul Deras... I was a committed member of the PCG from 1990 to 1997, having worked my way up to giving regular sermonettes and nearly a deacon if I had not left due to an intense spiritual crisis. I won't go in to the details, but after leaving my life has improved in every way; physically, spiritually and emotionally. It seems like such a long time ago now, almost like another lifetime, but in reality was only seven years ago (the same length of time I was in the church)!

Since leaving the PCG and the Church of God groups in general I have been studying film at UCLA and USC and now own a small film and video production company. I have had an ongoing interest in doing a small documentary film on ex-church members. I feel it could be an invaluable resource for all sorts of people as well as a deeply introspective and enlightening look at the human condition.

I am in the process of contacting ex-PCG members that would be open to sharing their experiences for the benefit of others and themselves. I am even interested in a brief interview with Mr. Gerald Flurry, his charismatic son or other ministers in the church, but I suspect the chances are slim to none at obtaining any sort of official perspective given the nature of the organization. I am certainly not interested in engaging in any sort of debate or accusation towards any individuals or groups. One reason for filming the documentary would be to help people who find themselves in a position similar to the one I did after leaving in 1997; no longer a member of the church but still quite alienated to the world at large.

The entire project will be non-profit. I may be able to assist with minor accommodations and such but most of the filming would be conducted in brief on location interviews. My goal is to direct and produce a professional, high quality documentary that could potentially be submitted to public television or even the independent film circuit. All content would be directly subject to the express permission of the interviewees.

If you are interested in possible participation in the project or have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at this email address: Also, if you know anyone who might be interested in the project, please forward them this email or refer them to me. The success of this project depends on the willingness of like minded individuals to open their hearts and minds in the hopes of helping those who find themselves at the spiritual crossroads of their own lives.

Best Regards,
Transcendental Films 

WCG finances: Ron Kelly makes the following comments in WCG News (the new designation for what most people still know as The Worldwide News).

Looking back on the calendar year 2003, we estimate our total church income will finally tabulate at $18.6 million... 

Church expenses for the year totaled $21.1 million. Thus you can quickly see that it was necessary to take about $2.5 million from our reserve fund... Our reserves began the year in good shape because we had also sold selected properties during the 2002 calendar year, for example the Orr, Minnesota, summer camp campus. So, all in all, our church financial picture is stable and healthy.

That being said, I want to again emphasize the need to work with a balanced budget for 2004. That means we do not plan to tap into the reserve fund and must manage our expenses so they do not exceed income. If we project an income of $18 million for next year, we have to reduce our current level of expenses to that level. Our department managers have worked hard to pare down expenses and have requested budgets right at our target level.

We've been told that leading sect administrators received substantial year end bonuses. If so, we wonder how such payments could be justified in current circumstances. 


WCG denies "diverting money": The December 31 Journal carries a front page story by Bill Stough with the headline Church denies allegations of diversion of funds. The story attempts to follow through on an item which featured in Ambassador Watch in late November.

The Journal report states: "A Web site known as "The Missing Dimension" and "Ambassador Watch"... recently posted a report that stated that the Worldwide Church of God might be in the business of unethically or illegally diverting money."

For the record, our item stated no such thing. There was no intention to imply any form of illegality. Indeed, we're confident that the present WCG administration will fully comply with the law in whatever arrangements it has or will make. Nor did the AW report speak of "a money diversion plan" or "secret meetings". 

For the record, our item stated no such thing. There was no intention to imply any form of illegality. Indeed, we're confident that the present WCG administration will fully comply with the law in whatever arrangements it has or will make. Nor did the AW report speak of "a money diversion plan" or "secret meetings". 

The Journal story states: Dr. Schnippert emphatically denied that there is any truth to any of the allegations... On Dec. 3 Mr. Helge, the WCG attorney, had described the accusations as "completely untrue." ... He said he has also heard accusations that Dr. Schnippert and his employees would receive hefty bonuses, similar to real estate commissions, on the sale of each of the five church-owned residences on Orange Grove Boulevard. "After reviewing the matter, and from my own personal knowledge, I want to state that each of these accusations is totally false," Mr. Helge said.

The Journal article, however, did confirm that there is no intention to develop a retirement program for employees. Responding to The Journal, Mat Morgan stated: "no such pension fund exists, and no such plan is being developed."

Joe's clanger: Joe Tkach decided to update the members of his WCG sect on all the sterling progress he's been making in his January member letter. Hardly had the inspired missive gone out when the queries, questions, shrieks of delight, puzzlement and consternation started to pour in. The Beloved Leader was quickly forced to clear up the mess he'd created in his January 7 Pastors Update.

At issue was exactly what the Supreme Commander meant by "local donations". It's interesting to note that Joe's updates are usually reproduced in full on the WCG's UK site, but local cult bosses cut off the relevant section for reasons best known to themselves. The Brits won't have missed much: the Great Helmsman's torturous explanation is about as exciting as page 432 of the telephone directory.

Black and White Issues: Dan Rogers stood up in the pulpit seven years ago and preached a sermon that still has the potential to turn BI bigots whiter with shock. Called The Evidence of Black People In The Bible, it was published in the WN the following year. It's worth a look, though it does ramble a bit, which is understandable given that it's a transcript.

In contrast, an old article by Herman Hoeh has been doing the rounds recently among conservative cult members. Titled Who May Attend Our Schools (Good News, March 1958), in it the Herbal Reichschancellor  wrote:

God puts no difference between men and women, or between races in matters of spiritual fellowship, BUT GOD DOES NOT WANT THE DIFFERENT RACES TO MIX SOCIALLY OR TO INTERMARRY...

Some have not fully understood what the Bible says about our mixing interracially in the schools...

Thus converted Israelites (who are Semitic) may intermarry with converted Semitic Germans, West Slavs, Armenians and Syrians (who are all sons of Shem), and with non-Semitic Whites such as Russians (who are from Meshech, Tubal and Madai -- the sons of Japheth) and Greeks (who are of Javan, the son of Japheth) and Italians (who are of Javan and of the Tyrians from Sidon, the son of Canaan).  These are all of the White racial stock (though they may have come from different sons of Noah) and are permitted to attend Ambassador College and the present Imperial Grade and High Schools.

Herman has it within his power to retract and thereby discredit this material. Why doesn't he?

Our Negroid brethren are of course Hamitic, and may intermarry freely among themselves...

Our Latin-American brethren understand in general, why their children are not to intermarry with Israelites.  Their racial origin should be studied by everyone, for it is more diverse than that of our Negro brethren...

This, then, is the policy which God ordains for the administration of His Schools.

Has Herman - even now a member of Joey's tame "Advisory Council of Elders" - ever bothered to withdraw and apologize for this nonsense? Or does he still believe it? The fact remains that, whatever his present views may be, the racist propaganda that flowed from his pen in past decades is still being used today by hard-line Armstrong extremists to bolster and justify their diseased view of the world. Herman has it within his power to retract and thereby discredit this material. Why doesn't he?

On a related note, these comments from Cecil Maranville appear in UCG's January 7 Home Office Update.

Several GN subscribers took offense at the photograph of the couple with a child featured in the November-December issue, thinking it shows interracial marriage.

Shock horror! Maranville moves quickly to reassure the sheep: "(The couple is of the same race.)" 

Fight Fire - Buy the House of Herb! Lots of people want to save the Ambassador Auditorium. Here's the latest scheme:


After you read this, please forward it and send it on to other former Ambassador College alumni and everyone familiar with the Pasadena, CA campus. You will understand why when you read this. Thanks so much!

To support, honor and thank America's firefighters, police and other emergency personnel, this letter is sent to you in the spirit of love and unity to implore you to help me reach the goal of establishing a national nonprofit support facility.

This facility would provide our country's emergency personnel with a location of rest, renewal and stress-reducing counsel programs. The facility would also include other support measures, such as specialized programs for the spouses and children of those injured or killed in the line of duty.

Over 80 percent of America's firefighters and a significant percentage of other emergency personnel are volunteers. Emergency personnel are dedicated men and women who, at times, place their lives on the line so we all may live in the relative peace and safety we have come to expect. Our nation's security, safety and emergency infrastructure is highly dependent upon emergency personnel. Sadly though, our emergency personnel are in the top percentile of fatalities and permanent disabilities.

After extensive research, I have learned that there remains a significant void in support services for those who support us. Resources to support emergency personnel vary greatly from city-to-city. The creation of a national support facility is long overdue.

For the site of the national support facility, it is my goal to acquire the campus of the former Ambassador College, now the headquarters for the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Over the years, we all have given generously to build the breathtaking Pasadena campus and church headquarters. Sadly, the campus is decaying. We gave out of our love, devotion and dedication to God to build a facility to honor His name. Some went to great personal sacrifices and sold their homes, farms, properties, gave up life savings, inheritances and such -- and yes, the "widow gave her mite."

Although plans have been on the WCG drawing board to bulldoze the buildings, then build and sell condominium units, the surrounding residents and their neighborhood associations, in strong and continued opposition to these plans, have fought against them for several years. The campus, once acquired for the national support facility would be kept in its peaceful, garden-like setting to provide the emergency personnel with an ideal setting for rest, renewal and support programs.

It is my driving force to purchase the campus to truly honor God by using this facility to provide a place of support for those firefighters, police and other emergency personnel who have come to the end of their mental rope, who desperately need time to reflect and renew and receive vital lifesaving counsel from professionals and peers who have experienced the same horrors that these individuals are now facing.

Additionally, it will also be a place of support for widows and children -- for the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while helping, rescuing and protecting others. A special on-campus program has also been designed exclusively for the children of those who have been injured or killed in the line of duty.

Friends and loved ones, once again, I am asking you to perform a labor of love. This vision will be realized -- the Pasadena campus will once again be used to honor and glorify God.

Please join me in prayer and in your much needed financial support to return the Pasadena facility to its intended purpose.

Remember the families of the firefighters, police and other emergency personnel who have given all that we may have peace in our nation, for their loved ones belonged to God and went back to Him. "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Also, please remember our calling and charge, "Pure religion and undefiled before God is this, to look after the widow and orphans in their afflictions...."

I cannot do this alone. Your immediate help is vitally important and crucially needed. Please pass this on to all former Ambassador College alumni, church members, former church members, former employees and everyone familiar with the campus. Please help send this throughout the nation and the world in order to reach all of these people.

Thank you for having a giving heart and spirit and for rallying immediate financial support from everyone to help realize this goal for our firefighters, police and all homeland emergency personnel!

Please send your financial contributions to:

Firefighters and Police Support Association
P. O. Box 93456
Pasadena, CA 91109

Dawn Dolan,

P. S. Time is of the essence. Please help now.

Dawn has produced another version of the letter to be sent to potential contributors without cult affiliations. 

Herb - a thoughtful analysis: Amongst all the purple and puce prose written about the late "apostle", it's nice to find something by somebody with an opinion worth sharing. Scott Lupo wrote a fascinating paper on Herb's World Tomorrow some time ago. Now his doctoral dissertation - Advertising the time of the end: Herbert W. Armstrong and modern American culture - is available to interested readers and researchers, although there is a cost ($29.50). Here's the abstract:

This dissertation is an examination of the career of Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), a pioneer of radio evangelism who is best known for his World Tomorrow radio and television programs and Plain Truth  magazine. An advertising salesman during the early twentieth century, Armstrong was attracted to the teachings of the apocalyptic Church of God, Seventh Day during the 1920's. Armstrong was ordained by the Oregon Conference of the Church of God in 1931, and he established an independent radio ministry,  The Radio Church of God, three years later. Over the next five decades, Armstrong expanded his ministry worldwide, and a denomination, later named the Worldwide Church of God, gradually coalesced around the media centers that carried his broadcasts. Advertising the Time of the End argues that Armstrong's ministry was informed by the culture in which he lived. Specifically, Armstrong adopted the belief prevalent in the fundamentalist community that only the Second Coming of Christ could solve the problems facing American society; he interpreted the upheavals of the twentieth century as signs of the "time of the end." These predictions appeared to confirm the relevancy of his movement and provided it with momentum. Much of Armstrong's evangelistic success stemmed from his ability to rhetorically capitalize on the tumultuous events of the twentieth century, such as the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Cold War, and the social upheavals of the 1960's, to attract and maintain support. Armstrong's followers experienced the upheavals of their world through the medium of his rhetoric: the social and cultural context was filtered through individual participation with various texts, including Armstrong's numerous public writings and his interpretations of biblical passages. By interpreting world events "in the light of Bible prophecy" Armstrong forged a fellowship willing to support his evangelistic efforts. By placing Armstrong within the broader cultural context, this study challenges the view, generally articulated by North American evangelicals, that Armstrong was simply a misguided religious leader. It suggests that his outlook was shaped by currents within modern American culture, and that he used his rhetorical skill to sustain a denomination and spread his message.

Survivor - PETRA: The following item was posted on the Likeminds forum. The writer is Bill Lussenheide.

Imagine if the COG ruled the current television airwaves! In order to stay competitive with current viewing habits, would the following be on our "COG TV" menus...??

1) "COG CSI" - Set in Cincinnati, and its sister program "COG CSI Charlotte". Each week features an episode of forensic investigation of various COG torts. Sripts include an episode where investigators check various members for trace evidence of cigarette smoke, or DNA evidence from a member on a discarded pork chop. Searching of bank records for donation giving, Paternity tests, etc... the possibilities for plots are endless!

House raids with evidence gathering for Leavening, (on special "Two Part" Holy Day Season Episodes) are always season highlights!

2) Who Wants To Marry A Minister? - Our hero is a plain old smuck, who now works as a Window Cleaner and lives with his retired Mom. In the past he dropped out of AC after 3 weeks, and flunked the old WCG
correspondence course. He currently attends a "Living Room COG" with 4 elderly ladies listening to cassette tapes each Sabbath in Sheboygan Wisconsin.

For our episodes, he is given a sharp $1500 Italian suit, a massive makeover, along with a classic ministerial haircut (complete with blown dry, moussed pompadour). Equipped with a well marked multi color Bible, our contestant is touted as being the newly widowed, CEO and Chief Bow Wow of a major COG.

Eight young attractive single COG ladies are told that they will be allowed to date and woo this major COG leader, with one of them culminating this in a nation wide televised Sabbath wedding.

Upon selection of the final "Bride", our unsuspecting gal is told the true identity of our "Minister" ! We then as an audience can wait in anticipation to see whether or not she will marry the poor smuck anyway!

3) COG Survivor - Rod Meredith, Ron Dart, Gerald Flurry, Roy Holladay, David Antion , Dave Havir and Ray Wooten are put into PETRA without food and water. Each week through a series of tests, like scripture memory or physical activities like "Jacob's Wrestle", some score on food and water or receive "immunity". The strange twist... each week they must vote someone out of Petra! At the end of the series the final winner out of the last two "Survivors" are voted on by the TV audience via the Internet. The winner is considered to be "Chief Apostle" until next years TV season.

Find listings for these shows in your TV Guide, available at local store checkouts everywhere!

More news in brief

***Joe's home sold a week and half ago for $100,000 more than the asking price. Two other homes close escrow in February.

***In mid-January representatives from the Foursquare Gospel HQ were checking out the campus as potential buyers. Is another college in the works?

***Sunday January 18 was Curtis May's big Reconciliation blowout at the Ambassador Auditorium. ORM is not permitted to be an agent of reconciliation for brethren past and present, but instead loudly trumpets its ability to reconcile the wider community. Strange priorities!

Links In brief

***The second part of the late David Jon Hill's reminiscences are now available online.

***Writing several pieces for The Missing Dimension doesn't seem to have harmed Keith Stump's reputation as a WCG author (although he is no longer a member). In January the WCG website prominently featured Keith's 2001 Plain Truth articles on hell ( ) and offered it in booklet form. 

***The Painful Truth website has published an article by a former member and AC alumnus on what it was like to grow up gay in the sect.

***Douglas Becker's All2True material has moved to a new location on the web:

***Raymond Mills has produced a new "community web" service for COGS. Dateline Pasadena suggests (perhaps not too seriously) that AW should climb aboard the project. We expect Raymond would have a fit.

***Another outpost of herbolatry has been launched on the Web, this one exhorts all you backsliders to GET BACK ON TRACK

***The Fred New Testament is about to hit the bookshelves. That fine Greek scholar and COGitator Fred Coulter is responsible. A quick look at a sample page some time ago indicated the Fred Version looked a lot like the KJV cross pollinated with the unreadable Young's Literal Translation. Fred proudly boasts that he's used "the Textus Receptus—the Stephens Greek Text of 1550". Apparently he's no fan of recent manuscript discoveries. Fred abandoned WCG in the late 70s, shortly after Garner Ted Armstrong was booted into oblivion.

***Okay, so longtime AW readers know we're not big fans of The Plain Truth. But maybe a positive mention of one of the articles in the January/February issue is in order, considering all the "King James nuts" who seem to think the Authorized Version is the only one worth reading (or, in the case of Fred, the "Textus Receptus" is the only Greek text worth using). 1611 - Straight from Heaven? is an article by someone called Greg Hartman, and contains some remarkably sensible advice for those who get confused between the Mad British Monarch and "Saint James". It's available online in PDF format. Here's a quote especially for the erudite Mr. Coulter.

In 1515, a Swiss printer heard of the Complutensian Polyglot, a printed Greek text still in production, and decided to beat it into print. He hired Desiderius Erasmus, who hastily assembled a Greek text from six very late Byzantine manuscripts in less than nine months. One of the manuscripts was so corrupted Erasmus was forced to resort to the Latin Vulgate to fill in the gaps. He was in such a hurry, in fact, that in places he actually wrote corrections right on the manuscripts and sent them to the printer. The printing itself was no better, containing thousands of errors.

Erasmus’ text sold well, however, despite dozens of revisions and thousands of corrections over the next 200 years. Erasmus’ text was dubbed Textus Receptus, or Received Text, in 1633, by which time it had been modified so much it was almost a text family of its own.

Despite this, the translators of the KJV used Erasmus’ text to produce a Bible that has retained its popularity for almost 400 years. Nevertheless, the poor quality of Erasmus’ work introduced errors into the KJV, which have been corrected in later translations... 


Bethel COG: I came across the web site for the Bethel Church of God in Eugene, Oregon.  I did not know anything about it and I started reading some articles at the site.  I read a pretty long one titled "The Origin of Our Western Heritage" about races of men and so forth.  It sounded very "white supremacist" in its believes.  Is it a "white supremacist" church? This is the link to the article:  


In hell? I truly enjoy your web site. 

It is commonly known around the Armstrongites, that they taught the word, "hell" in the KJV Bible was the word for "grave" in the Greek. Although, that is far from true, CoG's have continued to teach that souls go to hell, (hades) at death. I guess one may officially teach, that even the CoG's admit, Ted and Herbert's souls are in hell. That may be the only inspired thing they've ever taught. 


The Immortal Ted: GTA's website makes it clear he doesn't plan any personal appearances: 

Hmmm. I wonder if the website plans to announce his passing?


Defending the palisades: Dennis D. is always interesting to read, but often hard to swallow...

There is more than enough evidence to show that the Gospels are anything but eyewitness accounts of the events of Jesus life.

It seems odd that if they were such, then Matthew would not use 607 of Mark's 661 verses verbatim.

I decided to test this statement by examining a significant systematic sample of these 661 verses and determining if this is true.  The sample I chose was every 30th verse. In other words, Mark 1:30, 2:15, 3:27, etc.  My sample was from all 678 verses (not the sometimes accepted 661) of Mark.  Of my sample size of 22, at least a portion of each of 8 Markan verses appear to be closely enough quoted by Matthew that I can understand someone saying they were taken verbatim; 9 of the 22 are similar enough to something Matthew has written for the reader to see that the two writers are talking about the same thing (but the term verbatim cannot be reasonably applied); and 5 of the 22 verses appear to have no Matthian correspondents. 

ALL of the 8 verbatim verses are quotes from third parties (Isaiah, the rich young ruler, Peter, and Jesus).  When 2 witnesses testify about what someone has said, their identical citation might more reasonably be viewed as evidence of the correctness of their memories rather than that one witness has been informed by the other. 

That 9 verses of my Markan sample correspond to something Matthew has written is to be expected since they are writing about the same man and the same events.

From this sample, which is statistically significant, I conclude that we basically have two independent points of view being presented by the two authors, although there are probably times when one has relied on the other for information.  This is to be expected since neither Matthew nor Mark were present at many of the events that are recounted.

Luke uses about 360 of Marks 607 verses as well. One would think that if Luke knew Paul so well and Paul knew Peter so well, there might be some original information here but it is not so.

I have never had the impression that Paul knew Peter well at all.  The gospel writers are summarizing the highlights of Jesus ministry, and it is to be anticipated that each did some interviewing in preparation and accordingly uncovered the same material.  If two journalists from competing magazines write about the same event it is no surprise if each of them does not contain much material that is excluded by the other.

The fact that Paul wrote and died before any Gospels were written and his lack of any mention of any of the Gospel stories indicate Paul never knew much of them, or cared little about Jesus life experiences.

I know of no proof that Paul died before any of the gospels were written. That aside, some teachers rely the illustrative value of others accounts and some prefer to develop their own material. I wonder where in Paul s writings Dennis thinks Jesus should have been mentioned.

Knowing that Paul's Christ was visionary - and whenever he relates getting information from Jesus, for example, the Lord's Supper, he means in vision - goes a long way in understanding this problem and theological reality.

There is no reason to assume that Paul s notion of Jesus was entirely informed by vision.  The man did spend time with others who had some personal experiences with Jesus.  This is why his account of the Jesus last meal is in harmony with the gospel accounts.

Mark is traditionally thought to be a writer for Peter but the source of this, Eusebius in the Fourth Century quoting Papias in the second century is hardly compelling. Eusebius, sometimes called the "Ecclesiastical Liar " was the apologist for early literalist Christianity under Constantine, who after the Council of Nicea went home and murdered his children and wife for refusal to convert.

It is unlikely that Eusebius would have falsely quoted this source because at the time his quote could have been challenged, so the evidence does not rest on the reputation of Eusebius, but on Papias.  If Papias was wanting to give credibility to Mark s account by inventing the notion that it was written by an associate of Peter, why not just claim it was written by Peter instead?  Why attribute it to someone who seems to have had little status in the Church and who had perhaps been a juvenile delinquent?  Even Kummel, one of the progenitors of the view Dennis espouses, agrees that attributing the authorship to a non-apostle is on the side of the view that Mark was the author.

All internal indications are that Mark was not familiar with Jewish customs and culture

I challenge that statement.  While Mark is not focused on a Jewish audience, what evidence is there that he was not familiar with Jewish customs and culture?  As Hengel says, No New Testament author portrays the different groups in Jewish Palestine at the time of Jesus as accurately as Mark

and many of his miscues are corrected and eliminated by Matthew who was.

Matthew is writing for a different audience, so his emphasis is different.

Both Matthew and Luke seem to share about 206 verses not found in Mark which leads to the conclusion that they both had a similar other source (sometimes called Q) for their additional information.

Seeing as how Luke wasn't present for anything that he writes about, and how Matthew was absent from quite a lot of it also, it should be no surprise that they relied on third parties for much of the information. These efforts to fill in the gaps recommend the reliability of their accounts.

We also need to ask why it is that with twelve disciples trained personally by Jesus, where is their testimony?

Why would each of them write their memoirs?  And if they did, why would they all survive? 

They appear only as characters in the Gospel accounts and for the most part simply disappear into history with a few generic admonitions to go into all the world and preach. The fact that the vast majority of these disciples never wrote anything accepted by the literalist church is annoying and suspect.

The writings surviving from the 50s and 60s A.D. can be easily printed into books that would take up about a foot of a bookshelf.  The absence of a text from a period from which hardly any literature has survived is no evidence for it never having existed.

The fact that Jesus never wrote anything personally or taught anything original to Christianity is also suspect.

He seems to have been rather busy teaching and healing.  He knew records would be made of his teachings.  And never taught anything original?  This would have him being put to death merely for repeating what someone else said, but wait, I forgot: he wasn't put to death because he never existed.  This bit of insight has been  popularized by a handful of fellows (excepting Acharya S, a woman) who typically have done so while outside of their fields.  For example, Wells, who published several books promoting the Jesus-myth hypothesis, is a professor of German, and Drew was a mathematician.  There is substantial support for the Jesus-myth view, but it generally comes from folks who uncritically disseminate the views of other folks generally not trained in the classics nor in ancient near-eastern history.

At any rate, it is not the purpose of this MD forum to prove or debate theology. The Gospels were not written by the men whose names have been attached to them decades later.

Bold statement for so little evidence.

The book of Acts is an apologetic endeavoring to link the Gospels to Paul and done so poorly. In Galatians for example, Paul says after his visionary experience he did NOT go to Jerusalem, did NOT meet with any Apostles and DID go immediately to Arabia etc... Luke contradicts this by saying he did immediately meet with the Apostles and got their blessing to preach.

Where does Luke say that?  What Luke does say in chapter 9 is that Paul went to Damascus where he recovered from his encounter and started preaching, and then Luke tells us that after many days (verse 23) certain events happened.  He doesn t tell us what happened during those many days .  This could be when Paul went to Arabia and then back to Damascus (Gal. 1:17).

Paul never cared one whit (Gal 2:6) whether anyone approved of his preaching or Apostleship. He was called from the womb (Gal 1:15) and not by any fall off his...donkey. His advice to Gentiles after allegedly agreeing to the tenets of Acts 15 shows his disagreeable spirit. This material cannot be harmonized.

I don t know what advice to the Gentiles Dennis refers to, but I doubt that it cannot be harmonized .

I will simply say that the information is out there for those who are willing to look at the material.

I have looked, and I find it wanting.

Gordon Feil

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