AW/Amazon Book of the Week: The Clear Word

Like Eugene Peterson's The Message, this is a paraphrase of the Bible in everyday English. What makes this one different is that it's the work of a Sabbatarian, Jack Blanco, former dean of the School of Religion of Southern Adventist University in Tennessee. 

September 2004 - Issue 53

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

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Upcoming: This is the last scheduled update till after the Feast of Tabernacles. 

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With many AW readers heading away for the Feast of Tabernacles, AW is taking a break too. We'll be back in the second week of October. We wish those traveling a safe trip.

Harvest shells out for upgrade: From the Pasadena Star News on Thursday.

The Ambassador Auditorium came one step closer to recapturing its glory days with the installation of a teak orchestra shell on Thursday.

The Pasadena Symphony and Los Angeles Master Chorale will inaugurate the world-renowned auditorium's first concert season in 10 years with performances of Handel's Messiah on Dec. 17 and 18. The California Philharmonic is scheduled to present an eight-concert series beginning Feb. 11.

The Ambassador played host to such musical luminaries as Luciano Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra, Vladimir Horowitz and Yo-Yo Ma during its 20 seasons as one of Southern California 's premier concert venues. It closed in 1994 after it became too expensive for its then-owner, the Worldwide Church of God, to maintain.

The Harvest Rock Church , which purchased the auditorium in May, plans to launch a capital campaign to fund long-overdue renovations.

Prophet Ronnie's End Time: All that nasty weather in Florida... must be a sign of the end! Spanky has just conferred with his Council of yes-men, and they all agree the 7000 year plan is on track - "the first 6,000 years are almost up!" Meanwhile Church of God PKG leader Ron Weinland has appeared in a radio interview to promote his new book The Prophesied End Time. The radio interview is only brief, but Ronnie manages to squeeze a whole lot of classic Armstrongism into just a few minutes. 

Prophecy buffs will be excited to know that Ronnie isn't prepared to deny that HE will be one of the Two Witnesses, and, oh yes, God inspired his book.

UCG webcasts FOT for stay-at-homes: This year the United Church of God will again webcast services from a number of festival sites. Details can be found here.

Weekly Mailbag

More on the Canon: (1) I think the real problem the church of Armstrong has with the true facts about the New Testament canon is that it means the Bible that they use was put together and authorized by a church they consider to be run by the Devil. Now that's funny. 

(2) Bob Thiel's problem in feeling that the true church could not function without the true scriptures for 300 years is his assumption that there was one real, coherent and unified body of believers from the Resurrection forward. Even in the final agreed on text we have Paul and James the brother of Jesus unable to agree on just what the gospel was and who was in charge of what. If one looks at the current state of WCG splinter groups since HWA's death and the Tkach debacle, their beliefs, attacks on each other, law and grace, law or grace, holidays or holidays, Sabbath or Sunday, heaven, hell or Kingdom of God to come, you will find a more accurate rendition of what happened after Jesus died than you can imagine. 

Dennis Diehl

(3) Ogwyn and Thiel are not the only ones to speculate on this Peter canon. RCG [Pack] propagandist George Rogers writes that in 2 Pet. 3.15-16 "Paul’s letters were referred in context to 'the other scriptures.' Since Peter had canonized many of Paul’s letters, he knew firsthand that they were now scripture." Rogers, as far as I can tell, doesn't even try to "prove" this Peter-canon idea. It's just dropped in there like it's common knowledge.

"HWA Critic"

(4) Regarding Bob Thiel's statement: "It is illogical, historically, that the true Church of God could have existed for over 300 years without knowing what books were part of the New Testament canon or not. Surely the leaders of the true Church, as well as their followers, had to know."

Well, by all accounts the Church would seem to have existed while the New Testament books were being written in the first century. Somehow the Church managed to exist during those decades even without a written, collected, compiled, and edited New Testament. So it's hardly inconceivable that the Church could have existed for a good while longer without a finalization and settling of her scriptural canon.

The same thing happened with the Jews -- the people of Israel existed for over a thousand years with just a few scrolls of holy scripture, and plenty of questions about the form and content and "canonicity" of many, many other scrolls. Indeed, historical research has shown that the Jewish canon was not truly settled until the 200s or 300s A.D., around the same era that the Church settled her canon. And yet somehow the Jewish and Christian communities were able to be constituted apart from a formal and final canon of scripture. Neither the Jews nor the Church are founded or constituted on a book, or collection of books. Rather, they order themselves by a religious and moral tradition, recognized religious authority figures, and a liturgical tradition or set of liturgical traditions. Their scriptures are a chief ingredient in the religious culture, but have never been the sole and supreme norm by which their communities are constituted.

Jared Olar

Puzzlement: Harold Rhodes writes [Sep. 23 Home Office Update] that "God spared the Feast site in Panama City Beach, Florida, from Hurricane Ivan!" Later, he cautions that "Brethren traveling from points west should be aware that several sections of the bridge on I-10 crossing the east bay in Pensacola are missing and they should plan to take an alternate route further north. Please don't try to use Highway 98 from Pensacola to Destin because sections of it are still closed."

Are we to conclude that while God protected the site he chose to make it difficult to get to? Why might that be?

Is a puzzlement.

Forgotten names: As a former WCG member, I find this an amazing website! Found names of people I thought I had forgotten long ago. Will revisit for sure.

Lynn Harris

Didn't do squat: I agree partly with Tom Edwards [previous mailbag]. I have a hard time getting around the fact that the membership tolerated this abuse when they could have studied their Bibles and learned it was wrong. What were they doing? Sitting and being "told"? That is a bit lazy and hardly diligent as they were supposed to be. Those years were a trial and a test and too many failed, they are responsible. Saying it is "the ministers' fault" won't cut it. It was up to them and they didn't do squat.


Mocking Mokarow? Why didn't your guest writer identify himself? What book has he written? What you neglected to add was that Art Mokarow has received 4,000 requests for his book. He also owns a very large company and is very very successful and this is his way of giving back. In addition he answers thousands of emails. So many people need an explanation of the Bible - one that does not put a religious spin on it. As far as there being no bibliographies (maybe the guest writer is the one that is retarded), doesn't he recognize Bible scriptures when he sees them? Maybe you should have someone who is not ashamed of who they are to be critiquing someone else's work.

AW: The correspondent is Art Mokarow's daughter. The review appeared on April 29 (AW#48). While we think Art is lucky to have a plucky defender, we stand by our reviewer. While we prefer contributions to AW to be named, we recognize that there are often good reasons for people to preserve their anonymity. Citing proof texts does not constitute a bibliography, and giving away 4000 copies of a book proves nothing about its qualities. Success in business doesn't translate into theological acumen either, and the idea that Art's exposition has no "religious spin" is highly dubious. 

Our review, however, begins by acknowledging that Mokarow's motives seem good:

You can't criticize Art Mokarow for his dedication in self-publishing, promoting and mailing out a full length book (430 pages). You may even admire his commitment to provide this material free, and even refuse to accept donations. Mokarow's sincerity is obvious.

Anyone who'd like to check out the book itself can read it online (or order a free hardcopy) from God's Puzzle Solved.


FOT woes: Feast of Tabernacles observances have been hard hit by recent weather problems. The Journal has kept abreast of changes, and the following is a summary of cancellations from their site.

Christian Educational Ministries (Ron Dart's CEM) has cancelled its Feast site at Ft. Walton Beach, Florida and moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The Churches of God, Worldwide Ministries (ICG splinter) Feast site at Ft. Walton Beach, Florida has been cancelled. The group has announced an alternate Feast site in New Orleans.

The Church of God, International's Pensacola, Florida Feast site has been cancelled.

The Christian Biblical Church of God (Coulter) has cancelled its Alabama Feast site.

A number of hopeful FOT coordinators have been promoting their sites as alternatives. Ray Wooten of United Christian Ministries, for example, and Ian Boyne of CGI Jamaica, who writes:

The Ocho Rios area where the CGI will keep its Feast is unaffected by the Hurricane and Feast plans will go on as usual. the UCG canceled its feast site in Montego Bay but the CGI is sill open [and] is willing to host any overseas brethren who might still be interested in having a tropical Festival in this island.

Sabbath figures in court case: Sabbath-keeping readers may be interested in this story appearing in a Delaware newspaper.

Canon fire: LCG apologist Bob Thiel has leapt into the fray on the issue of the New Testament canon. AW readers may find his string of suppositions enlightening. 

Various theologians believe that he (Mark) brought those books and parchments to Paul, who, presumably with consultations with Peter, made the final cannonization [sic] decisions on all that was written until that time. In his second epistle, Peter refers to Paul's writings as scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16), which provides at least a scriptural basis for this position. And Revelation 22:18-19 suggests that God had John then finalize all that would be scripture. (Emphasis added)

In other words, Bob is speculating wildly. The Ogwyn comments (quoted last time) were made as statements of bald fact, but Bob seems to be back-pedaling to retain some credibility, and conceding that the case is weak. In reality the theory Ogwyn promotes as "fact" is cut from whole cloth. Perhaps more to the point is this later comment from Bob:

It is illogical, historically, that the true Church of God could have existed for over 300 years without knowing what books were part of the New Testament canon or not. Surely the leaders of the true Church, as well as their followers, had to know.

Please don't confuse Bob with the facts. In the theological fantasy world of LCG it's got to be true because... it's just got to be true! 

New Zealand WCG minister endorses controversial protest march: In a surprising move the New Zealand branch of WCG seems to have endorsed a march on the country's parliament by black-shirted, fist waving members of a controversial Pentecostal cult; Brian Tamaki's Destiny Church. 

Excerpts from Wellington's Dominion Post:

Just after midday, thousands of men dressed in black T-shirts marched down Wellington's Lambton Quay shouting "Enough is enough" and punching the air with their fists...

According to speeches from their church leaders, they were there in support of marriage between men and women and a better future for children.

But the image of the chanting men in their meticulous rows was too much for shopper Frank Macskasy, whose Hungarian grandmother was rescued from a German concentration camp in World War II.

"These are the beginnings of a Nazi movement. These people have no idea what they're playing with. They're playing with fire. And it just frightens the hell out of me."

... the about 7500 who turned up made the protest one of the biggest seen on Parliament grounds. 

"What is it basically that you are against?" a woman in the civil union group asked a black-shirted man.

He replied: "We are against anything that opposes the ways of the Lord." 

Comments from the New Zealand Herald:

Watching the Destiny Church's march of black shirts in Wellington provoked fear in onlookers. Christians were angry at the misuse of religion to promote intolerance. Destiny's charismatic leader, Brian Tamaki, appeared to thrive on people's fears and prejudices...

There is evidence that participation in fundamentalist movements is growing here and elsewhere. They have in common an illusion of easy answers to complex issues.

If your life is not as you would like it to be, it is wonderful to find a strong leader who guides you to your God-given destiny. A four-week course enables you to become part of the clan, and weekly group meetings help you on your way to salvation.

A cult shelters you from other world views. Its way is truth. It offers powerful antidotes to feelings of uncertainty, shame and humiliation. It enables group members to feel good about themselves.

By simplifying the world and creating an exclusive commitment to the group, fundamentalist cults engender strong feelings of belonging and identity. This makes them particularly attractive to people who are feeling lost, lonely and angry...

The speedy rise of this well-organized cult over the past few years should sound alarm bells. It seems akin to the moral majority movement in the United States.

It appears well-resourced, with a combination of tithes and donations. It can afford to fund a national television programme five days a week. It is perhaps a cynical use of the Bible to ask for donations with the statement: "Sow now into this ministry ... 'He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully'. (2 Corinthians 9:6)". Will sowing enough fear and hate reap any parliamentary seats?

In the Wellington WCG newsletter, Dennis Richards, a salaried WCG minister, wrote: 

I felt they made an excellent point... As one would expect, the press was not particularly sympathetic towards the marchers. And on the day the marchers prompted a small, voluble and at times vitriolic reaction. They were accused of preaching hate and were likened to modern versions of the Nazi black shirts... The Destiny church was upholding Christian principles I hold myself and while I'm not moved politically as they are I support the message they gave. "If they are for me, they are not against me," Jesus once said, and it remains good advice for us.

Tamaki runs a television ministry modeled on American televangelism. Members are exhorted on the necessity of strict tithing. He lives in Auckland's plushest suburb and creams an undisclosed salary from the offerings of the members (the demographic is largely poor and Maori), and Destiny tends to remain aloof from other churches - including other Charismatics. Tamaki has no theological qualifications: a convert to an established form of Pentecostalism a few years ago, he quickly floated to the top, helped launch a local congregation, then led it away to form his own sect. And wouldn't you know it, Brian claims to be an apostle too! 

Although there was wide support in the Christian community for the views Tamaki was exploiting (opposition to a civil unions bill which would give rights to homosexual couples), most Christians were quick to distance themselves from Tamaki's methods, if not the message, many seeing it as a self-serving stunt to gain traction for another Tamaki brain-child, the Destiny political party which will contest the 2005 elections. Many Christians were appalled by the neo-fascist trappings of the protest and the use of small children as political pawns, and there was little representation on the march from other churches.

The cult has had a good deal of bad press lately. Tamaki recently appointed a former Elim pastor accused of serial adultery to a Destiny leadership role, giving rise to charges of hypocrisy and selective morality. At the same time it was revealed that Destiny was withholding funds from an elderly couple owed $150,000 from a loan given to Tamaki a decade ago. Perhaps Dennis doesn't read the newspapers... He also doesn't seem to know that a New Zealand cult watching group advises Christians to treat Tamaki's Destiny Church with caution. Here's their listing:

Tamaki, Brian. Pentecostal Brian Tamaki is the pastor of Destiny Church in Auckland and former pastor of Lake City Church in Rotorua. Senior pastor and self-proclaimed apostle for Destiny Churches International. He (and his wife) also presents Destiny Television (currently screening on TV2) and has preached at Promise Keepers meetings. This seems a little strange since he has more recently used his television program (in August 2002) as a platform for launching broadside attacks on denominational churches. "Vipers in the Church" dealt with the pharisaism rampant in all other churches.

Despite all this, local WCG boss Rex Morgan seemed unfazed, and emailed the New Zealand membership a copy of the Richards missive.

Stalker story: In the last update AW linked to an article on another website that provided details of a recent court case. The couple at the center of that story have provided the following statement to AW.

The Brileys disclaim any responsibility for the content and/or tone of the recent article by Douglas Becker, since it was published without their knowledge or consent.

Just What Do You Mean - Can? Dennis Diehl has written a follow-up piece to last week's column. An excerpt.

We have ALL had quite an experience with religion and religious types whether sincere or supremely manipulative.  All churches contain all types, from Pastors to members, from founders  to administrators.  If you know where to look, you’ll  find both Old and New Testament accounts full of drama queens, liars and my-way-or-the-highway leadership.  Even as a kid I wondered why the personalities of the Bible were so full of bluster and threats.  Why were individual lives so cheap and power over others so evident.   Even God, by his own admission was jealous, angry and insecure to the point of needing absolute control over people and worship.  Come on, only human ego could get a rip out of twenty four of your best friends singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" to you day and night forever! 

Remembering Roy: This item from one of the newsgroups yesterday (via Dateline Pasadena).

My first memory of WCG was in 1966 at age 4, right after we started attending. They were having the blessing of the little children. My mom walked me up, only to be turned away. They wouldn't bless me because I was too old. I remember how embarrassed my mom was. I remember wondering what was wrong with me. The minister was none other than Roy Holladay.

Weekly Mailbag

Ogwyn's Canon: The New Testament Canon was not even firmly established until the late third century. As part of his program to standardize aspects of church life and practice, Constantine asked Eusebius to produce 50 Bibles for church use in Constantinople. One of Eusebius' most important contributions to the church was his work toward establishing an accepted canon. Eusebius' selection undoubtedly influenced all future attempts at canonization because it was essentially endorsed by the emperor himself. The canon was even more firmly settled in 367 A.D. At that time, Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, wrote his Easter letter to the churches and monasteries of his diocese and identified the books they were to include in their New Testament Scripture. In doing so, he agreed with Eusebius' choices as to what should be left out and supported the inclusion in the books of Eusebius' "second category": James, II Peter, Jude, II and III John, Hebrews and Revelation. Athanasius was in fact the first person to apply the term "canon" to the contents of the Bible, and he introduced the verb "canonize", meaning, "to give official sanction to a written document".

For the first 300 years of Christianity, different Christian communities had distinct collections of New Testament books, and individual leaders expressed differing views as to what books should and should not be included in the canon. With the emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity, there was at last a central authority to demand a precise definition of the New Testament and a move toward a universally accepted closed canon. The canon was closed in 367 A.D. Neither Peter, nor John, had anything to do with canonization. How absurd!


AW: A few years ago I wrote a short paper on the subject - largely to help sort out my own thinking on the issue. It offers a beginners' overview to the creation of the canon for anyone interested.

Sandals, Sabbaths and Sabbati: [A correspondent wrote]: Regarding the Waldensians: Robinson, in the History of Baptism, says, "They were called Sabbati and Sabbatati, so named from the Hebrew word Sabbath, because they kept Saturday for the Lord's day."

Actually this is wrong, the word was derived from the fact that that the preachers of this sect wore sandals. The similarity to Sabbath is a coincidence. Allix does indeed say that Waldenesians kept the Sabbath, however he was almost certainly wrong. Surviving documents of the Waldenesians show then as Sunday Keepers. There were Sabbatarians in that time, but they were not Waldenesians.

Positive Dennis 

Scriptural challenge: I was in my local used-book seller the other day and ran across a small book titled The Plain Truth About Armstrongism, authored by a Roger Chambers.

Its a notable work just because instead of recompiling the stories of corruption, wrongdoing and harm, it actually attempts to challenge the Armstrong brand of British-Israelism on a scriptural basis. Might be useful to folks out there who still wrestle with whether or not they can still buy into the doctrine while rejecting the men.

Paige turns: It appears that Debra Page has received your enquiry into the value of her copy of your pal Joey's book "Transformed by the Truth". The offering on EBay have been transformed from a collectors item price of $9,095. to an ordinary $9.95 plus $2.95 for shipping. Sorry, there is no first edition Hemmingway concealed within its cover. So what you see is what you get. Will they accept a bid of a nickel ninety-eight?


Back to the basics: Gavin, let me refresh your memory in simple Church of God note-taking style: 

  • Bad weather/natural disasters that occur anywhere but where Holladay-esque ministers are is because the people there are sinners. 
  • If bad weather/natural disasters strike where these righteous ministers are, it’s a test of their faith; they are not sinners. 
  • However, if the minister is high enough in rank, God is not testing him; it is so the congregation will repent/give until it hurts (either will do, but God prefers the latter). 

I’m afraid you’ve forgotten one of the core lessons you learned in WCG, an obvious sign that God has given you a spirit of error.

Kathleen Kakacek

AW: Good grief, what could I have been thinking!  :) 

Armstrongism for Dummies: Okay now, let me see if I've got this straight. We've got this big trail boss in the sky that wants all his Jesus cowboys in a few select Holy Ghost corrals. Not just any corral mind you. Just the ones where he put his brand. This way he can have a few of his top foremen deal with all his top hands at select venues. But after personally selecting the corrals himself, he gets really peeved at the other big spread that is competing with his. He just can't stand that guy or his outriders. But what really irks him is the way all the people in the towns and the small ranchers cotton to this guy instead of to him. So what does he do? He wipes out their corrals AND the corrals he personally selected for his own top hands. This is where the counseling comes in. Why does he go to all the trouble to personally select corrals for his elite and then wipe them out? Is that any way to treat your top hands? I admit to being theologically impaired, and a little bit dense, but it does not make sense. Perhaps someone can straighten me out. I know I really need it. In the meantime, I will go to Waldenbooks and see if I can find a copy of "Armstrongism For Dummies". 


Stalkers: (1) I haven't written to you before, but have enjoyed reading your weekly updates for several months. I have something to add to your piece about stalkers. I didn't hear about ministers stalking while in WCG--at least not directly. More about that later. But I was stalked by a fellow student while at AC. The young man had developed a crush on me but was fixated with sex, so I tried to ignore him. He followed me persistently, eventually showing me a journal he'd kept, detailing every movement I'd made during that past month. The journal also included several explicit poems he said I'd inspired.

That was scary, but the response I got when I tried to turn him in was even scarier. As the female, I was told that I had somehow "encouraged" him and that I should have more "compassion" for him and "submit" to his desires. Fellow students also had similar responses. When this young man came through a science hall door while I was cleaning it, he insisted that I clean his glasses. When I asked him to let me work, he ran his fingers through the window cleaner that I'd just sprayed on the glass door and used that to clean his glasses. Students who were passing by cheered him and said I was mean.

The closest thing to a minister stalking me was when I first moved to WA State. The local minister showed up at my house at all hours, unannounced, to grill me about everything from why I used a wood stove for heat to why I didn't have a car... He planted other members around me who appeared to be sincerely interested in my life. But when I'd tell them how I was doing, etc., they'd go straight to the minister... 

I found out that this wasn't just my imagination after he tried to appoint me to "check up" on a recent widow. He explained that I was to tell her that he was concerned for her and find out how she was "really" doing, as if she was somehow lying (she wasn't--I knew her well and she was an honest person). I was also supposed to give him an index card each month listing everything she'd shared and what I'd done for her. I told him that it would mean more to her if he would show concern for her himself, since he wasn't asking me to show concern but was telling me to convey his concern. He said I was in rebellion.

Anyway, those were a couple of my experiences. Thanks for all the legwork and for using your excellent writing skills to keep us up to date on the COGs. 

Kriss E 

(2) SURELY, they aren't still attending UCG!!

AW: Apparently so. But hey, that's freedom of religion.

Depredations: You will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that I do not agree with all you say and report. However I do agree with with a lot of it and in particular the depredations of the leaders of some of the various groups. 

You may not realize it, but some of the leaders really do have the adherent's interests at heart and are acting accordingly: regrettably, not all of them as you well know. 

Tom Edwards

Jamaican hurricane: Despite devastating Hurricane Ivan (the Terrible) which hit Jamaica last weekend, 193 brethren from the Church of God, International from all across the island, including some of the areas worst affected came together for Feast of Trumpets services in Kingston. This reflected the intensity of the zeal of the CGI brethren here. None of the brethren here was hurt and only about four suffered any damage However we are deeply saddened at the losses which have been sustained by our fellow Jamaicans. The Ocho Rios area where the CGI willl keep its Feast is unaffected by the Hurricane and Feast plans will go on as usual.

Ian Boyne

Papal Bull? The "sin boldly" license is pretty hilarious stuff. Of course Luther wasn't recommending "sins" such as dancing and card playing. Rather, in his rhetorical flourish, he recommended real sins like adultery and murder.

Jared Olar

AW: If you check the statement in context (a personal letter to the ascetic and timid Philip Melanchthon) you might come to quite a different conclusion.


FOT site cancellations: With Ivan wreaking havoc in Jamaica, and ongoing weather hassles in Florida, various COG FOT sites are under threat. UCG has already dropped its Jamaica venue. These comments from Richard Pinelli:

Due to the storms we have had to cancel Jamaica as a feast site for this year. Mr. Mather had to make that decision today due to the conditions at the hotel where we were going to stay... A number of churches in Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana will be cancelled for the Feast of Trumpets as brethren flee the coastal areas including inland cities such a Birmingham as well as damage from previous hurricanes. While tropical rains and 70 mph winds are expected for Panama City Beach, we are still hoping to keep the feast there according to the feast coordinator Harold Rhodes.

The Ron Dart FOT site in Destin, Florida is also under threat:

It is beginning to look like Destin/Ft. Walton will sustain heavy damage and we may have to move the feast. We should be able to make an announcement tomorrow or Friday at the latest.

However we cannot make a change until we are certain that our planned location is unusable. Minor damage will not keep us away.

UCG's illustrious president has a logical explanation for it all: 

Are these catastrophic conditions going to continue dominating the headlines in the world tomorrow? Absolutely not! Mankind has been subjected to all of these calamities because of his sins and the rebellion of Satan and the demons. Both Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 explain that good weather and blessings from God result from obedience to Him. Conversely, bad weather and curses come from disobedience.

Well Roy, if you say so. The Holladay god is apparently up there, sitting on the edge of the heavenly armchair, grinding the divine molars and dispatching tornados and cyclones on hapless humanity because it has been very, very naughty. "Take THAT you miserable sinners!" But why then send pour the "curses from disobedience" onto the COG festival sites? Let's think... Roy, obviously this is all your fault!

Never slow to manipulate human misfortune on God's behalf, the Living Church of God is also beating the drums on this one. Bob Thiel's site carries this item: LCG reports, "Hurricane Ivan: Why? Learn the surprising answer in our FREE booklet, Who Controls the Weather? ..."

Heed the recall: Dennis Diehl returns today with a personal reflection called Where does one go from here? Our favorite quote: We were called, even though now it appears we have been recalled.

joeybook.gif (38104 bytes)Um, Debra... this might take a while to sell: Who is Debra Paige and why is she trying to sell Joey's book for $9,095?

Yes, $9,095... the asking price for a copy of the unintentionally hilarious Transformed by Truth. On eBay no less. It fairly took our breath away. 

So Debra, how do we break this to you gently? You might have to pay someone else to take your mint copy of Tkach off your hands. Or have you simply caught the dreaded Ron Kelly virus and put the decimal point in the wrong column?

Fabricating history: Who put together the first canon of the New Testament? Any first year student of church history knows the answer: Marcion. Marcion was, of course, a second century "heretic", but the popularity of his creation forced the orthodox Christians to formalize their own list. Here's what Encyclopedia Britannica has to say on the matter:

The single most decisive factor in the process of canonization was the influence of Marcion (flourished c. 140), who had Gnostic tendencies and who set up a "canon" that totally repudiated the Old Testament and anything Jewish... His canon consisted of The Gospel, a "cleaned up" Luke (the least Jewish), and the Apostolikon (ten Pauline letters with Old Testament references and analogies edited out, without Hebrews, I and II Timothy, and Titus). This restrictive canon acted as a catalyst to the formation of a canon more in line with the thought of the church catholic (universal).

But no, wait! Stunning news. LCG writer and TV presenter John Ogwyn has startling new information. Writing in the latest Tomorrow's World Ogwyn sets the world of biblical scholarship on its head.

Before his death in the late winter of 68AD, Peter put together the very first "canon" of the New Testament, consisting of 22 books. Near the end of the first century, John added the five books that he wrote, bringing to 27 the number of books in the New Testament that we have today.

Is Ogwyn serious? Evidence? Support? A peer reviewed paper maybe? Nope. Then again, why bother with the unpleasant historical facts when an expensive suit, wishful thinking and a fertile imagination are all it takes to dupe the flock?

The Weird Case of a Stalker and an impotent ministry: Imagine you had a stalker in your congregation, a man whose infatuation for another member of your church had clearly crossed the boundaries and was now making peoples' lives a living hell.

Not in the COGs, you might think. After all, that has to be one of the few positive factors in having a jack-booted ministry: any stalker would be out on his fat half acre before you could say "disfellowship".

Think again. Douglas Becker has provided details of a recent court case that once again demonstrates just how deficient the UCG system is. Sect functionaries have seemingly been impotent on the issue for seven long years, and the courts have finally had to intervene on the complainant's behalf.  For details click across to Douglas' All2True site

Sin Boldly: It's not often we do an ecumenical story, but... what the heck.

For all the former Lutherans who got sidetracked into WCG (AW's webmaster), Lutheran converts from WCG (Thomas Lapacka) and anyone else who finds Luther's colorfully forthright prose a heady contrast to the drab, insipid, self-hating, thin-lipped Calvinism on which most latter-day fundamentalism is grounded... here's a cool site to view.

You can just bet some stuffed shirt at Missouri Synod HQ in St Louis is currently having a hernia over this little corner of the web. The people behind are obviously descended from Scandinavian Lutherans who, as we all know, have a much better developed sense of humor than their Germanic brethren. And frankly, if you had to sit through one of those tedious full liturgical services each Sunday, you'd need a darn good sense of humor too. The very thought of having to recite the Athanasian Creed again makes me want to break out in hives!

Personal favorites (apart from the Sin Boldly lager labels - and yes, that was indeed a piece of advice from the reformer's pen) are the clergy cap (can't you just imagine Joey in one of those!) and the Papal Bull Rub (for your next BBQ!) 

Weekly Mailbag

Obvious lies: Have you noticed the new version of Pack's "Do you believe obvious lies?". It's been "expanded" and he shows how giving and selfless he and his wife are. He writes:

Therefore, here are a few of the facts regarding my personal finances in support of God’s Work:

The entirety of our (mine and my wife’s) life savings and virtually every extra dollar left in our budget month-to-month for years now has gone to this Work, even to the point of taking out a home equity loan
(multiple times) to give more, when necessary. Several times, Mr. Armstrong had to ask the brethren to borrow
for the Work (when the need was urgent). I have not asked this of RCG brethren, but I did feel that I needed to do this myself all along. (And the attacker who had worked at our headquarters was well aware of this.)

And all of this is in addition to not receiving any health benefits, a fleet car, a liberal expense account, or anything close to an annual full second tithe allotment due all full-time ministers.

I especially like that "due all full-time ministers." A fleet car is, apparently, a RIGHT!

HWA Critic

City on a Hill: Interesting that Maranatha may be planning to demolish the Hall of Administration first as part of their
urban design on Armstrongism's former "City on a Hill." The Hall of Administration is probably the best contender for "worst designed campus building." Following the earthquakes of the 1980s and the early 1990s, the Hall of Ad was of great concern to many planners. Many engineers thought that the outer "honeycomb" decorative facing would crumble and/or "pop off" during a semi-major earthquake. Apart from shattering glass, the occupants would be relatively safe within the building, but those standing outside as the facing tumbled off would obviously not be in the preferred position.

Perhaps in a remarkable subtle parody of the WCG's behavioral precepts, the interior of the building looked extraordinarily nice on the surface with its open four-story atrium, but the interior office space was so badly designed it cost a small fortune (even with an internal remodeling labor force) to change any work spaces. So much space was wasted on each floor with dual and unnecessary access routes that maybe a third (or fourth) of the total available building footprint was actually available for use. Couple that with the grossly-oversized executive corner offices on each floor (especially the fourth floor) and it is amazing that the WCG got the people in there that they did. At the time the building was designed, each WCG and AC department was allowed to design (at least in part) its own space. The result was a puzzling labyrinth of short corridors, tiny offices next to gigantic ones, offices within offices, narrow walkways between offices and on occasion doors that led nowhere.

Abysmal leadership: I'd like to add my voice to the number of people urging the young lady and her family to publicly name this elder and seek police protection from him. The leadership in her local congregation and the parent church is abysmal. There is clearly no love being shown to anyone here, only a coverup to keep the old man's hands free to grope whomever he pleases. Nothing but the force of law is ever going to stop this guy. And that's not saying he's going to change. He won't. Stand up for yourselves, people, and save the next young girl from his wretched advances.

Colin W

Wanna swap? I'm trying to secure a copy of both volumes of HWA's autobiography for study purposes. I would be willing to swap all 24 of the Living Church of God's Bible Correspondence Course that I have for such. Want to swap?


AW: No. But you might try exchanging the LCG lessons for a nice copy of Transformed by Truth (see the eBay link above).

Co-worker letters: (1) Those desiring past HWA coworker letters can get a whole smattering of such via Servants News (Norm Edwards) if he still provides such.

Regarding the subject of ministers abusing members: In past years when this problem arose in our church, my wife phoned headquarters in Canada. The chief there said he had to hurry to a dinner party, to call later. My wife said you just hang up and my next call will be to the police locally. Needless to say he listened for the next half hour. The local minister was eventually transferred.

(2) An anonymous tip would be which works very well.

(3) has numerous excerpts from many of HWA's letters and other rants. 


UCG's Canadian accounts: Dr. Richard Griffiths speculates on just how much the UCG hierarchy have pocketed and arrives at a figure of $100 million+. Unfortunately, UCG keeps the real numbers under lock and key so the gullible contributors won't know where their hard-earned dollars are being spent. There is a glimmer of hope, however, for the diligent researcher. In Canada, all registered charities are required by law to reveal, not all, but at least some of their financial information.

In 2003, for instance, UCG Canada had a total revenue of $1,212,397. Here is how they spent some of that money.

Salaries, wages, & benefits $600,678 (49.5%)
Travel & vehicles $161,024 (13.2%)
Office supplies & expenses $141,008 (11.6%)
Advertising & promotion $15,894 (1.3%)
(doing the work??)

If you extrapolate the numbers of Canadian suckers to the number of American suckers, you will get at least some idea of what black holes the money disappears into in the US.

All this can be confirmed at the Canadian government website that deals with taxation matters: When you get there, click on the search link in the middle of the page, not on the one at the top. Then type in United Church of God (or any of your other favorite COGs). When you get a result, click on the "Information Return" link. You will get the above numbers and more, like the salary ranges for the top five highest paid individuals. One has to wonder, why an organization with only about 400 members, needs to spend $141,000 on office expenses, but then I haven't bought paper clips for a while.

Bob E.

Fundamentalism: I found the following interesting link on the thought process of fundamentalist thinking.

Dateline Pasadena

Holding fast: Found this site on the internet and thought it was interesting...

Randy Moberg


Campus landmark to be bulldozed: There are reports that the WCG Board met on Thursday, with Bernie Schnippert flying down for the meeting. Also in attendance was a representative for the Hyatt Corporation which has interests in parts of the upper campus.

We understand that the Hall of Administration (on part of the former Ambassador College campus now owned by Maranatha) is to be demolished within the next few months.  Maranatha staff have apparently revealed that the Hall of Administration is scheduled for demolition once WCG moves out of its rented offices. It will be replaced by a Senior Citizens retirement complex. We understand that the land surrounding the Hall of Ad was being surveyed for that purpose Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this past week.

Government of God - a doctrine of convenience: It's 1939, and Herbert Armstrong is facing challenges to the legitimacy of his leadership from the Church of God (Seventh Day). Herb is accused of opposing duly appointed leadership; of garnering tithes and sheep stealing from the mother sect. Herb is said to be unwilling to co-operate with church leaders and operating as a one-man band. In other words, the very same charges he will later level against others.

Armstrong, aware that the best defense is a good offensive, pens a defiant article in the Good News. He asserts the independence of each local congregation and debunks hierarchical leadership. And Armstrong takes pains to "disprove" the legitimacy of any minister claiming to be an Apostle!

Jesus said, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be ROOTED UP!" Our heavenly Father never planted any super-organization, or established any church GOVERNMENT, or set men IN AUTHORITY over either spiritual or financial affairs, in the New Testament Church.

Any such "plant" was never planted of God — and therefore IT SHALL BE ROOTED UP!

Our fellowship is first with God, and with Christ — then with each other, in LOVE! The saints, as far as they know one another are not to forsake assembling together for their mutual edification. For this purpose, — and that all things may be done decently and in order — the Scriptures give us instructions for ordaining local elders and deacons, in every city — every local congregation, or Church. But there is no super-organization over and above local congregations IN THE NEW TESTAMENT! Any such "plant" is certain to be ROOTED UP!

Prescient words, especially considering the dissolution of the WCG itself.

What has split and divided up the saints in the Church of God? Nothing but ORGANIZATION — which has led to politics, ministers lusting for rule and for power — striving against each other, lining up the brethren on THEIR side, against the other! It is SUCH PREACHERS who have split up and divided our brethren!

God's Word commands us to COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, and be separate.

Yes, it really happened. The long forgotten article was rediscovered some years ago and has been widely quoted - much to the chagrin of latter-day authoritarians. A copy of Did Christ Reorganize the Church has recently been added to this website.


Ernie rises from the ashes: Given the date of this upload, it may be appropriate to note the uncanny presence of former AC professor Ernest L. Martin's name on a 9/11 website. An AW correspondent notes: Just when one might think all analogies to WCG-related histories and 9/11 have been exhausted, this little tidbit about Ernest Martin, Jesus and the 9/11 date shows up... Oh my. A whole new dimension of insanity for Bill Dankenbring to explore.

New issue of The Journal: The August 31 Journal is now in the post. There's in-depth coverage of the recent evangelism conference among other matters. A PDF file of front and back pages is available.

The Last Hour: A reader send us a copy of Gerry Flurry's latest co-worker letter (dated August 26). The Prophet begins: I have a wonderful gift from God to give you. The gift, it turns out, is a booklet entitled The Last Hour, and a return gift is solicited: I ask all of you members to please prepare for the offerings of the fall holy days. We depend on those offerings more than any other to financially support the work, and the need has never been more urgent! You can't make a greater investment than God's Work.

Of course, while Gerry was scribing his passionate appeal for lucre, his wife was experiencing her own "last hour". There's no allusion to that situation. Just send in those much needed bucks brethren!

Weekly Mailbag I read your little blurb [about 2 Christian Friends] with amazement. What's this, yet another attempt to control? Sounds like such a good thing, but no doctrinal discussions, and selling merchandise? What a crock.

Maybe now would be a good time to put in a plug for the Alumni board, which actually does fulfill the promises that 2CF set out to do (without strings attached!)

Steaming pile: Thank-you for your website as it is always an enjoyable read. This my "beast with five fingers" note.

I just read through the "2 Christian Friends" and frankly, it is a "steaming pile" . You will be able to count on one hand the people impacted by that fiasco. It was written by people not in touch with reality but real good at spewing idealistic plans. They are playing to some higher ups about reconciliation and yet want to turn a profit in 5 years? What moron is going to fund the unbelievable $50K+ development cost? The return on that investment is a guaranteed failure. It looks to me that they are more interested in reconciling their check book than reconciling ex WCG members. No doctrine discussion? What about administration discussion or accountability discussion? Sounds like it will be lumped under doctrine.

The local Worldwide had some sort or reunion and reconciliation shindig and the caller on another matter said someone else was to call me. Well, they never did because I told the first caller I was not interested in anything associated 'period' with Worldwide. They need to rot and fall in street and are well on the way, too.

Bob Elliott

Hank Scott: Whew! Talk about creating one’s own reality. The scary thing is, someone will probably be convinced that he’s a prophet. His claims are no stranger than the Armstrongs’ were.

Gerry after Barbara: I wonder if Gerald Flurry will continue to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Herbert. Loma Armstrong died of an intestinal blockage after refusing medical treatment which probably would have saved her. My mother had a similar blockage. She had surgery, after which she suffered complications which kept her in the hospital for over a month. But she did survive the ordeal and eventually fully recovered.

When Herbert became critically ill, all of the rules against medical treatment were suspended and for the last years of his life a large part of Herbert's diet consisted of pills which he gobbled down by the handful (many Armstrong loyalists use this fact as proof that the WCG never forbade its members to use doctors and medicines). Will Gerald show the same courage as his wife when the grim reaper comes knocking at his door? Or will he will he hire 24-hour-a-day nurses and boost pharmaceutical company profits in an effort to preserve his life?

My bet is that he will follow Herbert W.'s example and move in with his doctor.


Co-worker letters needed: I've been searching for an online copy of all the co-worker letters from HWA to the members/co-workers. I found one but since finding it, the site has gone offline or something has happened to it. Another site has a zip file that is a problem to open.

Do you know of a site that has all the letters that he wrote that is easily accessed?


AW: Any suggestions?

Response to Silent No More: Dear "Silent No More", I read your posting at AW with great interest. I believe your story completely and without reservation. I find it reprehensible that others would question your sincerity or that of your relatives, especially the victim. And I have a few points I'd like you to at least consider:

1. It's high time this elder's name was made public. You serve no one but him by keeping it quiet. He needs to be exposed to the world at large and allowed to suffer the consequences of his abuse.

2. That elder should be charged with child molestation, a criminal offense, and let the district attorney take over. Molesters are widely known to use church groups as cover, and that's what's happening here. If you wait for God to judge him, he gets a free pass until he dies, and continues to molest others. Put a stop to it! HAVE HIM ARRESTED!

3. You don't have to "forgive" anyone. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you have to forgive someone who hasn't repented. And if the bastard refused to apologize, then he hasn't repented...

4. This is the big one: Do you believe Jesus Christ would have handled this matter in the same way that your church leaders have handled it? Look at the mental and emotional devastation suffered by your sister-in-law and her family -- would God's TRUE church put someone through that? You're dealing with snakes; by their fruits you will know them. GET THE HELL OUT OF THAT CHURCH! Find a real church. (And I don't just mean that congregation -- the whole organization is rotten, or this would never have been allowed to stand.)

I wish you and your family the best. Don't let anyone abuse you any more, and tell everyone to stop blaming themselves. They are VICTIMS, not perpetrators.

John B

What a pity: Thanks for posting the letter regarding the elder who is inappropriately "hugging" young women in UCG. What a pity those in UCG at the top have not removed this man and reported him directly to the authorities. 

Dirty old men: Dirty old men are everywhere.... I knew one whose "hand slipped" while tickling me. It is certainly nothing new, this hand slipping while tickling was about 50 years ago and occurred in a church setting. The dirty old men need to repent and keep their hands to themselves. 

Time to tell: After 25 years I came to realize that there are two basic types in the Church, the abused and the abusers. Anyone in between doesn't stay long. The abusers are the arrogant, overbearing ministers (not all, but most). The abused are people like that girl who was molested and her family. The abused think they must submit lest they be disfellowshipped and thereby lose eternal life. I'm glad to hear that two thirds of the congregation had the guts to "stand up" for the victims and leave. Now the real authorities, the police, should be told. 

Compelled: I feel compelled by the story of the young woman in the UCG who was assaulted frequently by a person placed in authority over her... We have reached the trunk of the tree and found it rotten and hollow. I felt sympathy and indignation as I read the story of the youth described as a victim of sexual assault. The process sounds all too familiar: denial by the accused, the cover-up by those implicated in the hierarchy of control, the search for justice by those harmed. Searching for justice from those who cannot give justice. Asking for responsibility from those who do not act with accountability. Finally, still grasping at hope that someday all will be put right if we just “wait on God” to render His justice. 

I spent many valuable years of my life wrapped in the tenets of the WCG, and later spent some time in the surreal gulag of the PCG. One day I began to think again on my own. It took a while, and it was uncomfortable—that walk towards the Lake Of Fire. I realized that I had let my mind coast, accepting willingly too many things that were manufactured facts, wishful thinking at best. There are many questions we must ask ourselves about why we allow structures of men to assert control over our thoughts and actions. Are there really special humans appointed by a super being to lead us to some life goal? Find a quiet spot and ask yourself that sometime. For now, seek justice for this young person. Seek healing. She deserves it. 

Manpower: After reading other quotations from the Manpower Committee papers, e.g.,  "Mr. Armstrong said the Admissions Committee needs to be more strict and forceful in turning down people who have physical handicaps,”  I have to wonder why HWA, who obviously imprinted himself on these hatchlings, ever thought that Hitler and the Nazis needed to be defeated.  The world, run according to the Nuremburg laws, would have been awfully close to the “World Tomorrow” they were waiting for.

I hope you will continue to refer readers to these older documents, many of which are housed on the Painful Truth webpage. Those readers who might be put off by the religious views of the webmaster on religion/Christianity should still avail themselves of the opportunity to read the Ambassador Reports and the many primary documents available on the Graveyard Church of God.  

Kathleen Kakacek

World of Tomorrow: My 8 year old daughter and I spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. There was a section entitled “The Information Age”. When we came to an exhibit that displayed old 1930 era newspapers and magazines, I stopped in my tracks recognizing a very familiar title. On the bottom cover of the May 1, 1939 edition of Newsweek magazine was a banner that read: “World of Tomorrow”. Knowing Herbert Armstrong’s propensity to plagiarize taking credit for other peoples’ ideas and claiming them to be his own God inspired thoughts, I had to wonder if the 1939 Newsweek edition was one of the original inspirations for the title of Armstrong’s radio and television programs. 

Funny, as I write this e-mail my nearby TV is on, and an advertisement just ran for the movie "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow".

Richard Dahms

UCG or just Ugh! After reading the UCG report on the latest meeting of the council of the elderly the following thoughts came to mind: It really is a shame that they feel the need to hire a high-priced spin doctor to massage their corrupt ways into a more palatable form. Whatever happened to just plain old telling the truth? I guess they don't believe the scripture that says "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no". And of course, for them, the truth would not set them free...

Bob E.

100 million? How much money has the UCG ministry pocketed via their salaries, benefits and expense accounts since UCG's inception?  By my rudimentary calculations it is an extraordinary sum well over 100 million. Perhaps it is time for those contributing to UCG or thinking of leaving property to this organization to sit down and ask themselves some hard questions about this organization and the motives of its ministry (see Luke 16:13-14). 

Dr. Richard F. Griffiths 

Poll: Your survey results are meaningless since most readers of your web page are anti-COG and anti-UCG. 

AW: Our surveys are obviously informal. However you might be surprised at just how many UCG members regularly read this site in an attempt to find out what their leaders don't want them to.

Ouch! What a shame you can't find something more worthy to live for, how pathetic. I do feel sorry for you. 


AW: Thanks. Your deep compassion is only exceeded by your objectivity.

WCG's Sabbatarian lineage - history or hooey? I am not attempting to create a debate here, yet Doug Ward produces limited source material to argue his point. Here is [a] website pointing to Zinzendorf telling the German Christians of Pennsylvania to keep the Sabbath day. Here is something that is very telling indeed of the Counts teaching. This was a decision being made to keep the Sabbath in June of 1742. 

More regarding the Moravians: Look for the word Saturday or Sabbath on this page. To the early Moravians Saturday was the Sabbath. Even Wesley visited Zinzendorf and the Moravians in Hernhutt and discussed keeping the Saturday with them, resting, meeting about church business, keeping the Lords Supper one time a month. When he resigned from the Moravian church he wrote this: to the Society in Herrnhut, with this superscription, "John Wesley, a presbyter of the Church of God in England, to the Church of God at Herrnhut..." found here.

Regarding the Waldensians: Robinson, in the History of Baptism, says, "They were called Sabbati and Sabbatati, so named from the Hebrew word Sabbath, because they kept Saturday for the Lord's day."

There are some interesting source notes about the Waldenses. Someone should find Allix' book on the Waldenses and search the word Sabbath. You will find they kept Saturday according to Allix. Allix wrote his book in 1690, well before Dr. Bacchiochi, with all due respect to his work. In a book you may have heard of called the Martyrs Mirror, on page, 335 "The edict of King Matthias against the Moravians, or Moravian Brethren, who are called Old Waldenses, as also Baptists (Anabaptists), is shown for the year 1481."

Andreas Fischer was a Sabbath keeper that was even written in a book about him with the forward by Dr.
Bacchiochi. The author Daniel Liechy said that Fischer was called a Moravian in the early 1500s. A quick boolean search for Erasmus and Sabbath and you will find that Bohemia, right next to Moravia, was filled with Sabbath keepers as late as 1580. They quote Cox's Sabbath literature for this information.

Also, Jablonski, the Grandson of Comenius, ordained Zinzendorf. The Count had a property in Moravia that many from Comenius' home town came to. Among them, Christian David. These were Sabbath keepers who developed the town of Hernhutt. They came from Bohemia in 1722. With Fishcher in 1525 were Oswald Glaidt, named Oswald of Jamnitz in the Martyrs Mirror. These men were disciple[s] of John or Hans Hut. 

In 1529, Barbara of Thiers was executed for among other things this statement: "Regarding Sundays and holidays, she said that God the Lord had commanded to rest the seventh day, and there she would let it rest." Martyrs Mirror page 437. 

Also a disciple of George Blaurock, whom by the way preceded Hans Hut and allowed Hut to take over his pastorate in Austria, Christina Tollinger said this on the same page of the Martyrs Mirror we find: "Concerning holidays and Sundays she said that in six days God the Lord created the world, and rested the seventh day; and that the other holidays had been instituted by popes, cardinals, and archbishops. and that she did not believe in them."

Is there a link from 1525 through the Moravians and the Seventh Day Baptists? The count and his followers as well as those at Ephrata were called German Seventh Day Baptists. In 1745, some of those who were not cloistered at Ephrata, Alexander Mack Jr. and Christopher Sower, Jr. went to visit the Sabbath keepers in Northern NJ.

So we have Hut and Fischer in 1525 - 1545 or later, to Bohemians in 1580, to Comenius (the last Bishop of the Unitas Fratum) who died of very old age in 1670 who ordained his grandson Jablonski as Bishop who ordained Zinzendorf who was the Bishop of the Renewed Unitas Fratum. Is there a link? Is there not? Think about it.

AW: This information comes from the same anonymous individual who wrote the letter Doug Ward replied to.

Was Herb a Bogomil? The ministerial "lineage" of "laying on of hands"  of the COG CANNOT be traced through to the Waldensians or Bogomils or any other ancestral groups including even the 7th Day Baptists.

Gilbert Cramner, the man who started the COG 7th Day in response to Ellen G. White and the 7th Day Adventists, was ordained and came from a group called "Christian Connexion" which had its roots in Calvinistic Baptists. In other words....PROTESTANTS!

There is NO unbroken line of Sabbatarian laying on of hands and every single ORG minister today in the COG traces his ordinational lineage back to Gilbert Cramner and Christian Connexion.

The Christian Connexion group was part of what was called at the time in the late 1700s and early 1800s as the "Restoration Movement". The ideas of a return to primitive Christianity. Amongst their ideas that carry over today to us are *Adult Baptism , * Anti Pre Destination * Unitarian and Binitarian God Head Ideas, (Holy Spirit not a person, anti Trinitarian).

Joshua Himes, a leading contributor to early 7th Day Adventist thought also was a minister for Christian Connexion. Ideas that did not carry over to our WCG culture that Christian Connexion had in the early 1800s were Women's Suffrage and equality, and Racial equality. Himes was a major supporter and spokesperson for William Lloyd Garrison , the publisher of the famous anti slavery newspaper "The Liberator".

Websites with interesting info about Christian Connexion that give clues to the early ideas that have helped form our present COG thought are:,,

Bill Lussenheide

Calendar computation: Regarding this comment: "The 'Annual Lord's Supper' is held on the day before Easter, the day after the crucifixion. (But it has been a while since Easter and Passover fell a month apart. I don't know what the pastor will do when that happens next.)" I really don't know all the calendrical ins and outs, but as I understand it (and I might be mistaken about this), the Catholic Church's system of calculating Easter has reached a point due to the mathematics of the system that the Catholic Easter and the Jewish Passover will no longer fall a month apart. The *basic* rule has long been that Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the full moon nearest the vernal equinox, but there are/were other considerations in the Catholic and Jewish calculations which I'm not clear on that led to Easter and Passover sometimes being a month apart. But the way things have been working out, apparently from now on the Catholic Easter will always fall on a Sunday during or immediately after the Jewish Feast of Unleavened Bread. If my understanding is correct, the abovementioned WCG pastor probably won't have to do anything.

Jared Olar


This upload owes a great deal to the anonymous writer known only as "Dateline Pasadena". Some weeks AW would provide very sparse coverage indeed without the links and tips from this remarkable source. We don't always acknowledge DP's input (and sometimes we're under instructions to that effect), but this once we'd like to give credit where it's due. Thanks DP!

Barbara Flurry: We understand that Barbara Flurry, wife of cult leader Gerald Flurry, has died after a long illness. This announcement from Stephen Flurry:

Dear brethren, My mother's last gasp of breath happened earlier this morning. She died peacefully at 2:16 a.m., September 5, 2004. About a half hour before she died, she started to moan somewhat - just enough to awaken us - giving us one final chance to encircle her bed, touch her, and tell her how much we loved her. She was a special woman. Our family is rejoicing with God, as yet another saint has been sealed (Psalm 116:15). At the same time, with all that lies ahead for this end-time Work, we will also miss her dearly. Thank you so much for your prayers and kindness. The memorial service is set for Wednesday night, September 8, at 7:00 p.m., at the John Amos Field House.

The following comments appeared on one of the newsgroups.

She had been suffering for some time. I met Barbara on several occasions and she seemed to be a very sweet women who was just blindly following her husband. I heard Barbara suffered terrible at the end, not going to get any medical attention or relief from the pain. I am sure that Gerry will claim that Armstrong did his greatest work after his wife's death and so will he.

Uh, what's this? Heard of something called 2 Christian Friends? Nor had we - till AW's tireless researcher, Dateline Pasadena forwarded us a fascinating link. 2CF is a WCG related project sponsored by Curtis May ("Mr. May was chosen because he is a visionary and strives to promote unity in and through Christ.") It's described as "a non-profit organization dedicated to rekindling lost connections of Worldwide Church of God (WCG) members past and present via an online reunion community... The site will be hosted as 2 Christians once completed... The analysis phase of the project is nearly completed. The next phase will be the design phase, which is scheduled to commence on November 1 [2003?]. It is estimated that project completion will take 24 months; however a working prototype will be demonstrated on February 26. Deployment of the completed site should take place after the initial 24 months of development."

That sounds like an awfully long time to set up a website, but at first blush the idea seems to have merit. We've long expressed wonder that WCG has an office devoted to "reconciliation ministries" which completely ignores the tragic need to reconcile those separated in the downsizing of the WCG itself. Is this what 2CF was supposed to be all about?

Since its inception in 1937, the Worldwide Church of God has undergone many doctrinal changes. Some of these changes have been painful for some members and for various reasons they have left the fellowship. For some former WCG members the pain of these doctrinal changes has lead to anger and the severing of any and all ties with current WCG members. The reunions would provide a non-threatening environment that would foster rekindling those lost connections. The only requirement for attending these reunions would be no discussions of doctrine of any kind.

Sounds good, but...

2 Christian Friends will be an online community where community members can interactive with one another. Individuals interested in being apart of the community will have the opportunity to join. Community members will be able to logon, create personal profiles, chat with other members, and purchase 2 Christian Friends and other Christian merchandise.

Merchandise? This is definitely a business promotion, even though "non profit". Let's get this straight... is this a scheme to make money out of people's distress by the very sect that abused them in the first place?

Measurement tools will be implemented to measure whether or not the goals of 2 Christian Friends are being met. Donation revenue will be the most significant measurement followed by the measurement of revenues from 2 Christian Friends merchandise. Merchandise revenues will be implemented once there is merchandise for the online store.

So where are things up to at present?

The first phase involves the creation of a working interactive prototype. On February 26, 2003 when the project is presented test data will be in place to demonstrate interactivity of the site.

What's happened since? We're not sure. No site exists called 2 Christian (at least that we can find). Perhaps Curtis' visionary skills were a little less prescient than usual.

E-book tells WCG story: Ever felt like writing a book about your WCG experiences? Hank Scott has, and it's available free to anyone who cares to visit Although a man of set opinions of his own making (Hank even has prophetic visions!), he has nevertheless produced an interesting account that some readers may find illuminating in parts.


The Famous 34: What do these ancient WCG worthies have in common?

David Albert

David Antion

Dibar Apartian

Bob Ashley

Garner Ted Armstrong

Frank Brown

Albert Carrozzo

Howard Clark

Ronald Dart

Jack Elliot

Vern Farrow

Michael Germano

Tom Hall

Kenneth Herrman

David John Hill

Herman Hoeh

Keith Hunter

Marvin Lindsey

Floyd Lochner

Dennis Luker

Hugh Mauck

Elmer McElroy

Roderick Meredith

Robert Oberlander

Charles Oehlman

Richard Plache

Dan Porter

Albert Portune

Paul Royer

Gary Prather

Leonard Schreiber

Norman Smith

John Wilson

Clint Zimmerman

Give up? Here's a clue. They were supposed to meet every Friday at 9AM in Room 12 of the AC Science Lecture Hall way back in 1969 & 1970!

Yes folks, these are the members of the all-powerful Manpower Committee, exposed several years later by Ambassador Report. AR published comments from the committee's reports from the Sixties illustrating the narrow, judgmental views of the committee members. These men had the power to decide the futures of AC students: whether they stayed or went, whether they were employed or became ministerial candidates, even who they could marry. And the quality of their deliberations?

"X is still somewhat girlish, although not queer; he lacks the strong masculine quality. He has a weak voice like Richard Nixon...."

"Neither Mr. Armstrong nor Mr. Meredith feel that this is the right girl for X; she is a peasant-type girl, is slightly dumb and immature."

The names on the list above are the last to sit on the committee before it was dissolved in 1970. AW has been supplied with sections of a document that was apparently the property of one of the above committee members; names and photographs of students with personal notations by the committee member. On the pages in our possession are photographs of Bob Gerringer (later co-publisher of Ambassador Report), Gerald Flurry! and many others.

Neither Gerry or Bob, we might add, merited comments either in praise or criticism. However the unknown committee member had a number of scribbled notes (often ungrammatical) about others:

"Voice is laughable... (can be a local elder)"

"Too soft. Tries to impress. Needs to be talked to. Too vain..."

"High thin voice. Grades fair. Poor reader. Is in debt."

The document clearly confirms what was written in Ambassador Report nearly 30 years ago. Several of these guys are still sucking up tithes on God's behalf. We'd be interested to hear how they feel about their involvement in these matters with the wisdom of hindsight.

Sabbath Scholar? In the most recent mailbag a UCG member raised the issue of Jim Frank's contribution to the world of Sabbatarian scholarship. The following comments from Doug Ward are adapted from a newsgroup posting.

Here are some comments on one of the letters in this week's AW Mailbag. Someone wrote, in regard to Jim Franks's Sabbatarian history research...

Jim Franks and others have done research that blows the doors off the graph that points simply back to the Sabbatarian Adventists who split into the COG and the SDA factions. Even the SDAs point to their information on the Sabbath coming from the Seventh Day Baptists. Just search the name Rachel Oakes. Another Sabbath keeper, an elder Preble, wrote the Sabbath tract that lead many to accept the Seventh day teaching, he was a Seventh Day Baptist. So contrary to anything that may be said by the WCG website stopping short at the Millerite movement and the SDAs is simply shortsighted nonsense that is wishful thinking.

The writer is correct that some Seventh Day Baptists were responsible for many of the Millerites becoming Sabbatarians. But the WCG does not deny this indirect connection with the Seventh Day Baptists. The connection is certainly indicated in the chart in the back of the book Transformed by Truth

Check out the name Zinzendorf, a German Seventh Day Baptist, and his antecedents and you can draw a line back to the Waldenses, (yes, many were Sabbath keepers.) Zinzendorf called his group the Congregation of God in the Spirit. They were called the Brethren churches too. A link can be proven from today back to at least 1525 and just prior to with some effort. 

Here the writer is incorrect. I know of no evidence that there were ever any Sabbatarian Waldensians. Samuele Bacchiocchi would back me up on this. Also, see  

Zinzendorf was not a Sabbatarian either. There were some Sabbatarians among the German Brethren in Pennsylvania, most notably Conrad Beissel and his commune at Ephrata. On this issue Beissel parted ways with other German Pietists, including Zinzendorf. Beissel became a Sabbatarian in the 1720s, after he came to Pennsylvania. His group constituted the only Sabbatarians among the Brethren, as far as I know. See 

There's certainly no connection here going back to 1525. The German Brethren came into existence in the early 1700s. The German Seventh Day Baptists never spread beyond Pennsylvania and had no contact with early Millerites that I am aware of. 

AW: ... it seems like warmed-over Dugger & Dodd to me. 

Based on my experience with Dugger and Dodd, I would summarize the book in two words: "Largely fictional." On any Sabbath history issue that I've looked into, the Dugger and Dodd book gets it wrong. If you ever hear anyone quote that book as if it were a reliable source, you can be sure that person doesn't know what he's talking about. I hope Jim Franks realizes that Dugger and Dodd is not a good source, since that's an important thing for today's COG7 members to understand.

Poll results: The September 4 poll has now closed. 159 responses were received. 5 readers felt no-one need resign. 33 believed Pinelli should fall on his sword. 43 were convinced that both Pinelli and Holladay should go (but only 1 believed that Holladay should go but Pinelli stay). 68 readers wanted the entire UCG council to resign. 9 people had no opinion.

Danger Will Robinson! If you've upgraded Windows XP with Service Pack 2 you may have noticed a security message when you visited this page using Internet Explorer.

To help protect your security, Internet Explorer has restricted this file from showing active content that could access your computer. Click here for options...

The offending item was apparently the search box at the bottom of the page. While there is no problem if you are using alternate (and superior!) browsers like Mozilla Firefox, we've decided to delete the search facility in the meantime, and look for an another search feature that won't send IE into "shields up" mode.


Some readers may be surprised to learn that this website does not exist with the sole purpose of doing a beat-up on the United Church of God - an International Association. Lately it seems that Ambassador Watch has had a lot to say about UCG and its perceived shortcomings. A check back on earlier AW issues reveals that this is a relatively new preoccupation. The simple reason is that the United Church of God has tottered from miscalculation to disaster, from pothole to ditch, with unparalleled theatrics over the last several months. In the process the leadership seems, sadly, to have learned little or nothing. 

This was forcefully brought home at the recent quarterly meeting of the Council of Elders. These gentlemen acknowledged that they had a problem, and then decided that the solution was  to polish up their spin-doctoring.

This publication has long maintained that UCG is, with the possible exception of the Church of God (Seventh Day), the best of a bad bunch. Unfortunately our confidence in UCG's capacity to practice genuine accountability and maintain a set of checks and balances has been shaken by recent events, as has the confidence of many members. It's worth remembering that these events have not been precipitated by outsiders, but by loyal members and ministers who fell afoul of the current administration. Even worse, those who many feel should have been subject to the rigors of church discipline have had their actions tacitly endorsed by that same administration.

Today's lead item is another indication that something is terribly wrong. It is published here with no pleasure on our part. 

Silent No More: The following letter appeared on a UCG forum this week. It was signed, though we've removed that and other details that might identify the victim of the abuse described.

the church asked all family members to not discuss the case until a decision was reached or else they would drop the appeal...

after reading Mr. Pinelli's misleading response I felt it necessary to share some relevant facts in this matter...

the elder did not apologize or show remorse for his actions. My family has yet to receive any form of apology

Mr. Pinelli says that "other girls in the congregation did not have a problem with the hugs." That statement could not be further from the truth... This was all documented and was presented to Mr. Pinelli in the original appeal.

I have been an avid reader of this and 3-4 other forums over the last few months but due to the fact that it is now 2:30am and I cannot sleep, I have decided to make my first post. I grew up in the WCG/UCG along with approx 40 extended family members. My experiences in the Church couldn't have been better. Loving your neighbor, obeying God, serving your fellow mankind, a deep belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior, and seeking first the Kingdom of God were not just subjects I heard in sermons but were the actions I saw practiced in the daily life of my extended family members. Last year, at the age of 24 I decided I wanted to live the way of life I saw work so well and that held out so much promise for an even better future and I was baptized. Like several on this forum I also held out a strong opinion that UCG was guided by wise leaders and that the church was headed in the right direction. I was disappointed to hear of groups or individuals leaving and could not understand why they felt the need to leave the organization. That has all changed in the last year… Because you see… the girl in WV that has been of much discussion on this forum is my wife's little sister, and is to me, the sister I never had.

There are three reasons why I've waited until now to shine some light on this very troublesome situation. First, the church asked all family members to not discuss the case until a decision was reached or else they would drop the appeal. Second, I really believed that the leaders of our church would take at least some just action to resolve the issue of an elder and sexual harassment. Third, after reading Mr. Pinelli's misleading response I felt it necessary to share some relevant facts in this matter.

It is a fact that an elder in [...] has sexually harassed my sister-in-law. ...the elder would sneak up from behind, lock his arms directly under the breasts and then squeeze very tightly and lift for an extended period of time. There was indeed touching that could be categorized, at the very least as grossly inappropriate, and more accurately as molestation. I can absolutely guarantee you that such hugs would be grounds for severe discipline or reprimands were they to take place at one of our UCG Youth Camps. This situation involves an ordained official in UCG, are the standards less? This act of touching inappropriate body parts is in and of itself defined as sexual harassment in UCG's own Sexual Misconduct Guidelines (Section N reads: "No lewd touching or other inappropriate contact of a sexual nature is permitted with minors").

There will still be some who will defend this elder's actions as Mr. Pinelli did by describing them as "signs of grandfatherly affection" or by arguing that the elder meant nothing perverse by them. I already believe the prior paragraph alone, would require for UCG leaders to take some kind of action. But to those who are still skeptical let me provide the following evidence that has led me to believe his actions reflected his intent.

1. When confronted by my mother-in-law concerning his hugs, the elder did not apologize or show remorse for his actions. My family has yet to receive any form of apology. Think about this. If someone confronted you and told you something you had done was offensive and crossed the lines, and that was in no way your intent, what would you do? I'd say "I am so sorry, I never, ever meant it to be that way." Why hasn't the elder ever apologized to my sister & mother in-law?

2. Although it is true that the elder stopped the "hugs' with my sister-in-law after that confrontation, he has continued with the same type of perverted "hugs" with at least one other girl who is on record of having found it very offensive. This hits at the core of the issue. Mr. Pinelli makes it sound like all the problems have just gone away because the elder no longer hugs my sister-in-law. Does he not care that this elder continues to practice this very inappropriate behavior with other young girls in the church????? And what does this say about the elder? Again I ask the question if you were told something you were doing was crossing the lines and you didn't have that intent, would you not stop that behavior immediately?

Should heads roll? Vote in our poll.

Who should resign

Which individuals should step down from official UCG responsibilities in light of recent events?

No-one! They are all good men.

Richard Pinelli

Roy Holladay

Both Pinelli & Holladay

The whole council should step down

No opinion


3. On several occasions the elder made perverse and suggestive verbal statements to my sister-in-law. What I am sure would be defended as "grandfatherly" jesting, clearly shows how he viewed my sister-in-law, a minor. This is just flat out wrong and did as much damage as the touching. I have seen campers kicked out of camp for making similar comments to females. Again, are our standards less for an ordained elder?

4. Mr. Pinelli says that "other girls in the congregation did not have a problem with the hugs." That statement could not be further from the truth. A deacon in that congregation had confronted the elder 4-5 years ago demanding that he immediately desist "hugging" his two teenage daughters. Other women from that congregation have gone on record that the elder had practiced the same behavior on them and that it was offensive. This was all documented and was presented to Mr. Pinelli in the original appeal. In fact, I doubt that there is any female still in the [...] congregation (see pt 5), who would go on record as saying it was not offensive.

5. Some on this forum have demanded "firsthand evidence." Look no further than the [...] congregation itself. After my mother-in-law was suspended, 2/3rds of the [...] congregation quit. These people had seen for years that what this elder was doing was inappropriate, and when they saw the church try to cover it up, they were so disillusioned as to quit UCG over it. Incidentally, the minister & elders family make up half the approx 10 or so people remaining.

It is likely that many of you will want to hear the other side of the story, and I think that not only prudent, but fair. The only thing I caution you on is, do not let anyone pull the classic defense lawyer maneuver of putting the plaintiff on trial. My mother-in-law is not a perfect person, no one is, and she quite possibly did not even handle this situation as perfectly as she would if she had to do it over again. But she is not the one who sexually harassed anyone, and she in no way deserved to be suspended indefinitely for refusing to meet the elder & minister alone.

In closing some of you are probably wondering what the family will do next since the church is obviously not going to do anything. Quite frankly, we all just want this to be over and get on with life, especially my sister-in-law. We are thankful that there is a just God in heaven who will indeed judge righteously. Our biggest challenge going forward will be to eventually forgive those who wronged my sister & mother-in-law and those who stood by and did nothing. But we must and we will.

I have heard so many times in sermons that we must love each as brothers and sisters in Christ. Academically I thought I always understood that concept, yet as I saw people in church over the years have considerable hurt I always shrugged my shoulders, sighed, and looked the other way. But when it's your own sister, it really is different. When you see someone you love deeply ravaged by emotional distress. Someone who starts blaming themselves with "it was my fault because I didn't say anything the first time he hugged me that way" and "I'm so sorry Mom, it's my fault that you are no longer part of the church", it most certainly excites more emotion than a shrug. When you see a vibrant teenage girl so weighted down with a situation that they fall ill and lay in bed for a summer that is suppose[d] to be the best years of their life it evokes more than a sigh. And when you wonder how someone you care so much about can endure such things and not have a devastating impact on their spiritual life, it has finally turned my head and I will be Silent No More.

The initial abuse was bad enough, and the initial handling of the complaint in the local area was obviously inadequate. But the apparent failure of appeal processes and the subsequent dismissive comments by Richard Pinelli seem to have made things a great deal worse.

Twenty First Century Watch: The Mark Armstrong-led Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association has just published a new issue (Fall 2004) of its newsletter, rich in the usual diet of cheap apocalyptic speculation. A PDF copy is available online. We wonder if there is an official publication for the Intercontinental Church of God, the associated sect? Maybe not. The GTAEA is firmly under the heel of Mark Armstrong, while the ICG ministry seems completely toothless.

Weekly Mailbag

Holy Day Mammon: It is several years since our [WCG] congregation has observed any of the old holy days. The "Annual Lord's Supper" is held on the day before Easter, the day after the crucifixion. (But it has been a while since Easter and Passover fell a month apart. I don't know what the pastor will do when that happens next.) However, some things remain the same. Today, August 30, an envelope arrived in the mail. It contained offering envelopes. Out of habit Icounted them, and sure enough there were four. That time of the year is obviously rapidly approaching. I'll give them credit, however, for their ability to change. There was no bumper sticker included.

Aaron Root: I read with interest your note on Aaron Root. I am a member of the Appleton WCG and Aaron was our pastor until he moved to Washington. My connections with Aaron go back a long way...

I am surprised to hear that there was a write up about him in the Journal about moving to Sunday services. I am not a person who tries to stay connected to the gossip in church. If he did push to do it, it must have been within the members of the Advisory Council and the elders. In complete honesty, I never felt that he was pushing matters one way or the other. Once I asked him about his opinion on the subject and his comment was that we will do what God leads us to do.

Presently Aaron got a job working as the Chief Deputy Treasurer of the city of Manassas Park, VA. He has a degree in accounting and worked in the corporate world before going into the ministry. From what I understand, he and Vania are attending a Baptist church right now.

Some of the women in our congregation still keep in close contact with the Root's. From what I understand, it was not so much a problem with HQ pushing him out, rather it was the local congregation. Apparently, under this 'new financial model', the local church has a lot more power. Apparently, they did not like the way Aaron taught. The other thing is they did not think he was cut out to be a pastor.

To be perfectly honest, I don't understand what happened out there. Aaron was well respected by our congregation. Whatever it is all about, I would not be surprised if a lot more stuff like that starts happening. If the local church has more power, then more pastors might be coming and going depending on who is in power in the local church.

In my opinion, Aaron is a class act. He will never be a super, dynamic speaker like some people are. I am sure that he will always be involved in ministry of some kind whether it is as a small group leader or whatever. He has a heart to follow God. I would not be surprised if someday he didn't end up going out on the mission field

GRUMPS: The GRUMPS are a sad people indeed. They don't realize that the persecution is entirely of their own making.


Meredith on "Queer Men": Methinks the gentlemen doth protest too much. I wonder how many pushups Meredith needed to do every day?

Orchestrated Salvation: Good Grief! "Mr. Franks stated that even though Mr. Armstrong's books were sold in stores, it did cause some ripples of concern within the Church. He questioned whether it would do more harm than good to try selling our literature again..."

Supposedly folks are "trying" to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, (as the Apostles were commissioned to do), and the BIG concern is the "money"! What could any attempt to preach the gospel bring harm to - other than someone's empire, or personal financial status? Good Grief! DON'T SELL IT, PEOPLE - nobody wants your personal, "home office approved" ideas! Love you neighbor.... try to actually live the sayings of Jesus, who IS the Truth! Folks trying to orchestrate my salvation, by the almighty dollar from me and others, make me tired, especially since I have participated for over 40 years.


UCG's membership numbers: I wonder what the true figures are of new people? Everyone I knew while attending UCG was recycled members from the WCG.


In defence of Jim Franks: I was amazed at the timing of your articles regarding the Indianapolis conference. I was at church asking a member of the congregation who has family in one of the church areas in question. They were visiting there on July 4th weekend.

The pastor is one involved in the evangelism conference. It was on that weekend, July 3 being the Sabbath, that the pastor asked the members to send tithes to a new address. This was before your posts in issue 51 and a few days prior to the July 8 letter from Roy Holladay. So, the UCG leadership did not squabble over the money and they are accused of being petty. I was wondering if you would do some snooping to check out this?

Regarding Jim Franks, his Sabbath research is of interest to all Sabbatarians. To follow a policy that a group of people have mutually decided to agree to is not a matter of control, but of process. The UCG ministry does not all agree with everything lock step as you show in your goose march photo, yet these men have decided to agree and to discuss. It is not perfect and not the most effective form of governing but anything less would be chaos.

In a much earlier AW you referred to the WCG website and the timeline of the COGs and Sabbath history. Jim Franks and others have done research that blows the doors off the graph that points simply back to the Sabbatarian Adventists who split into the COG and the SDA factions. Even the SDAs point to their information on the Sabbath coming from the Seventh Day Baptists. Just search the name Rachel Oakes. Another Sabbath keeper, an elder Preble, wrote the Sabbath tract that lead many to accept the Seventh day teaching, he was a Seventh Day Baptist. So contrary to anything that may be said by the WCG website stopping short at the Millerite movement and the SDAs is simply shortsighted nonsense that is wishful thinking.

Jim Franks has researched the Seventh Day Men from England to New England and beyond. His willingness to share the COG7s and x-WCGs common history should be not only commended, but lauded as a great gester [sic].

Check out the name Zinzendorf, a German Seventh Day Baptist, and his antecedents and you can draw a line back to the Waldenses, (yes, many were Sabbath keepers.) Zinzendorf called his group the Congregation of God in the Spirit. They were called the Brethren churches too. A link can be proven from today back to at least 1525 and just prior to with some effort. 

Jim Franks and others in UCG and other CG groups have researched the Sabbath history. It is all just a boolean search away if you want to read it.

AW: Maybe so, but it seems like warmed-over Dugger & Dodd to me.


Darwinism Comes to America, by Ronald L. Numbers. 

In 1997, even as Pope John Paul II was conceding that evolution was "more than just a theory," local school boards and state legislatures were still wrangling over the teaching of origins--and nearly half of all Americans polled believed in the recent special creation of the first humans. Why do so many Americans still resist the ideas laid out by Darwin in On the Origin of Species? Focusing on crucial aspects of the history of Darwinism in America, Ronald Numbers gets to the heart of this question.

Judiciously assessing the facts, Numbers refutes a host of widespread misconceptions: about the impact of Darwin's work on the religious ideas of scientists, about the character of the issues that exercised scientists of the immediate post-Darwin generation, about the Scopes trial of 1925 and its consequences for American schools, and about the regional and denominational distribution of pro- and anti-evolutionary sentiments.

Displaying the expertise that has made Numbers one of the most respected historians of his generation, Darwinism Comes to America provides a much-needed historical perspective on today's quarrels about creationism and evolution--and illuminates the specifically American nature of this struggle.

Ronald L. Numbers is a former Creationist and ex-member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Innocent hugs? The following three items appeared on a UCG-related discussion board.

(1) Dear Mr. Holladay and Mr. Pinelli

The attached message concerns a lively thread about the alleged fondling of a young lady in
[...] by a local church elder. The situation has led to a lot of discussion, not all of it friendly, and the situation needs to be dealt with, as some people are threatening to call the police on the situation. Some of us know some (or all) of the parties involved in this particular situation, and I hope that the case is dealt with fairly and faithfully (and, at this point, quickly).

Nathan Albright

(2) Hello Nathan,

I wanted to answer your email but have been in Council meetings.

Thank you for passing along this information. Where people come up with these terrible charges is a mystery. We are not aware of any cases such as is being described by these gossips.

There was a recent case where an elder in his late 70s gave public hugs to a young woman in his congregation whose mother let him know that now that her daughter was older she had become uncomfortable with his hugs. Others in the congregation had no problem with his hugs. Upon hearing that his hugs made her uncomfortable he immediately stopped giving them. A follow-up determined that the hugs were innocent expressions of grandfatherly affection and there was nothing illegal and certainly not sexually improper in that case.

United takes these accusations very seriously and there has been an investigation.

It is our hope that people will not hear a rumor of some sort of impropriety, jump to the worst case conclusion, and spread libelous and untrue embellishments, in a matter about which they really know little or nothing, that could destroy the reputations of innocent and decent people.


Richard Pinelli

(3) Thank you Nathan for posting Richard Pinelli's letter. 

However, I'd like to point out that Richard "Spin"elli never made any mention of the mother who was suspended for refusing to meet without her husband being present. Why was she suspended, and why was the suspension never lifted? (Again, they suspended the wrong person, while investigating!)

I also wish for it to be known, that "Others in the congregation had no problem with his hugs" is NOT true. There were several complaints, even put in writing. The elder even made verbal comments on the victims breasts as she developed - this also documented for those men reviewing the case. Again to show the spin from "Spin"elli (the two are often synonymous) the "hugs" were from behind, pinning the girls arms to her side, while jostling her breast. Picture in your head where her butt & his groin would be. This was not as innocent as Spinelli makes it out to be.

But it appears the "good 'ole boy" system is firmly in place & continue to protect one of their own.

Sad to say United has lost many members from that congregation, who left when the mother was suspended.

No DF threat? We've been informed by Michael Grovak, a member and elder of UCG's Lafayette Indiana congregation, that details in the story we published on August 28 concerning threats of disfellowshipment in that congregation are incorrect. He writes: I am an elder who is a close family member of one of the individuals you are talking about (the only individual who was considering playing special music), and know the situation well.  What you say simply is not true.  My family member was never "threatened."  The idea of disfellowshipment never was mentioned.  

AW's editor put the following questions to Michael in response: My question is whether these individuals were given the impression that their participation in Jim O’Brien’s services would be incompatible with their membership in UCG? Would they have felt that their membership in good standing was imperiled if they went ahead?  Michael replied:

I can speak to the situation with my relative.  He was intending to go and perform special music, but after speaking with me and our pastor (Victor Kubik) he decided not to.  That's the long and short of it.

It seems to us that this hardly provides a negative response to the questions. However, accepting Mike's assurances in the original email, the August 28 item has been revised.


UCG Elders' Confer: UCG's Council of Elders has been holding its quarterly meeting. These comments come from the minutes.

The Church has faced challenges over the last few months, as well. The home office administrative staff has been discussing how to deal with these situations on two levels. The first is how to make information available. Personnel issues can be delicate and any public discussion of them must take into account biblical, moral and legal standards. Recent communication on the subjects of the winter family tournament and the evangelism conference are examples of a more proactive approach that is being taken.

Dear Lord! - they're actually holding up these things as examples of handling difficult situations well!?

The following numbers were given to indicate the current size of UCG: As of July 2004, a total of 16,278 consider themselves part of United (baptized members, non-baptized adults who attend United congregations, non-baptized young adults, teens and preteens). That number represents a 12 percent increase over the total of 14,972 in July 2000.

The vexed question of interracial marriage was again addressed. Unfortunately there are still many UCG members who cling to the vile, racist teachings of classic Armstrongism that enshrine bigotry in doctrine. How UCG will tread through the minefield is not yet apparent.

Paper on interracial marriage. This paper was written by the Race Relations Committee, which was formed as part of the Focused Education Program. The paper has been reviewed by the Advisory Committee for Doctrine. The Doctrine Committee has also completed a preliminary review and will provide the authors with recommendations. A teleconference will be held with the Race Relations Committee after the 2004 Feast of Tabernacles to discuss the status of the paper. A copy of the paper will be distributed to the Council this week and a discussion of the paper will be scheduled for the December 2004 meetings.

We hope that the council will do the right thing and thoroughly distance itself from the hateful teachings of Herbert Armstrong (see HWA's sermon summary on race). The lads also pondered the possibility of packaging Jesus Christ: The Real Story in paperback format and thereby offering it on places like Predictably this was too much of an innovation for some on the council. In the process of rejecting the idea, however, some light was thrown on the "success" of Herb's books which were sold under the Everest House imprint.

Discussion focused on the success of previous similar efforts and whether it was philosophically acceptable to sell our literature.

Joel Meeker asked what the results were when some of Herbert W. Armstrong's books were sold in bookstores. Mr. Dean responded that sales weren't strong, but some books did sell...

Mr. Franks stated that even though Mr. Armstrong's books were sold in stores, it did cause some ripples of concern within the Church. He questioned whether it would do more harm than good to try selling our literature again...

Mr. Seiglie asked whether selling literature is an evangelizing tool and, if so, was it effective in the past. Mr. Dean commented that Mystery of the Ages did have some impact, but the Church lost money in trying to sell the book. Tony Wasilkoff allowed that it seemed like an interesting idea, but it would probably do more harm than good. He pointed out that since we aren't mainstream, we're not likely to get any of our books into a Christian bookstore, and people don't generally shop at secular stores for books on Christian subjects.

Les McCullough stated that he, too, is philosophically opposed to the concept of selling our literature. He also pointed out that to his knowledge, Garner Ted Armstrong's newspaper answer column and attempts to sell his book, The Real Jesus, both resulted in very little response.

Without Root or branch: Some time ago we reported on the departure of WCG Washington DC pastor Lloyd Garrett. The following observations were posted on the JLF forum this week.

In [the] latest WN it gives a list of the churches under Keith Brittain. The Washington DC church has made a reappearance and it is pastored by Keith Brittain himself. Surprisingly enough Keith is also listed now as pastor (or at least in charge) of Richmond Virginia North.

Mr. Aaron Root is no longer listed as a pastor in the area... Aaron has been a cheerleader for Tkach's WCG. BTW His enthusiasm for moving mainstream received a less than flattering writeup in the Journal in the late 1990's when he tried to force a move of the Appleton Wisconsin church to Sunday.

We understand that Aaron Root has indeed departed, but that the decision was forced on him by cult HQ. 

COG sects prefer NKJV: UCG, LCG, COG-AIC (Hulme) and COG7 all share something in common: an endorsement of the New King James Bible. In fact, if you find a Bible quotation in the publications of any of these sects, it's almost certainly from the NKJV. This makes it overwhelmingly the default translation for most of COGdom. Why? Well, it's an excellent "proof texting" version; there's a nice wide-margin edition just dandy for recording ministerial pearls in; and most COG doctrines were formed with old KJV references, so there's not a huge stretch to make.

You can, of course, tell a lot about a person's (or a denomination's) Christianity from the translation they use. Like tends to attract like, and there's a Bible version for every niche and persuasion. The WCG now uses the New International Version, a favorite of mainstream evangelicals. The PCG retains the original KJV. Fred Coulter has produced his very own obscure New Testament translation for the edification of tithe payers. Here at AW we don't often inflict either proof texts or lengthy quotations on readers, but when the need arises we use the Revised English Bible (Oxford University Press, 1989). 

Spanky classic online: Rod Meredith has authored countless articles over the years, but none has been as requested by MD readers as his famous (infamous?) 1961 rant on homosexuals. You might even describe it as "camp" in its intensity... and now you can find it online at

GRUMPS: There's a new acronym to add to your COG repertoire: GRUMPS. According to a post that appeared on JLF recently "it stands for God's Remnant Under Much Persecution. They are an ultra-conservative fundamentalist wing in the WCG who hold much to the tenets of Armstrongism but they believe that God has placed his name in the WCG, they cannot leave (unless they are disfellowshipped)."

Nina Rogers: The following obituary was forwarded to AW. Nina was for several years Registrar at Ambassador College/University. 

Late Saturday evening, Nina Rogers took her final rest from a long and valiant battle with cancer. This gracious and gentle lady touched the lives of many during her tenure at UT Tyler, and she earned the admiration, respect and affection of all those she touched. In her life and in her work, she never gave in and never gave up. Her courage, optimism and positive attitude infected us all, and her aggressive and vigorous work ethic challenged each of us to give our maximum effort and not settle for mediocrity. She was our confidant, counselor, consoler and comrade. In her passing, she took a part of each of us with her, but more importantly, she left the "Nina spirit" in each of us. The funeral arrangements are to be announced.

Bobby Fischer update: WCG's highest profile former co-worker continues to make waves.

Books mentioned on AW in September

The Clear Word

Like Eugene Peterson's The Message, this is a paraphrase of the Bible in everyday English. What makes this Bible different is that the translation is by a Sabbatarian, Jack Blanco, former dean of the School of Religion of Southern Adventist University in Tennessee. Our view: better than Peterson, but, like any paraphrase, needs to be read with caution.


Healing Spiritual Abuse

Subtitled How to break free from bad church experiences, Ken Blue offers hope and healing to the victims of spiritual abuse.

From Sabbath to Lord's Day

An evangelical perspective on the move from Saturday to Sunday worship in the early Christian church. Written in response to Samuele Bacchiocchi's From Sabbath to Sunday. Click on the cover.

When Jesus Became God

The first "Christian" emperor, Constantine, and two preachers, Arius and the incredibly obnoxious Athanasius, were the chief players in the debate over the nature of Jesus. Wonderfully readable and very informative.

Letter policy: AW understands that some people may not be comfortable with their names appearing in the mailbag. A problem can arise when it isn't clear whether a writer wishes to remain anonymous or not.

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

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