October 2004 - Issue 54

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

email AW at missingdimension@ihug.co.nz 

Upcoming: Another update scheduled for mid-week. 

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Ambassador blossoms under new owners: The Priests of Baal may have entered the Most Holy, but the enthusiastic Pentecostal owners have nonetheless managed to do what the Tkach sect never could, utilize the Ambassador Auditorium for significant cultural purposes. The California Philharmonic has launched "The Ambassador Series" to breathe life into Joe's white elephant. Check out the concert series online.

Mike Burk's letter - the aftermath: We continue the reply from cult HQ to Mike's letter... See if you can spot the "red herrings".

redherring.gif (60643 bytes)I cannot speak to any changes in governance that might occur in the future. The pastor general has mentioned, in the past, the idea that the office of Pastor General might at some time be limited in years of service. Preliminary discussions involving all regional directors and U.S. district superintendents have taken place on governance issues. These will continue after the Pasadena church property sale process is over and the new financial model for U.S. churches is implemented. At present these matters demand priority status [AW: written in April]. When these matters are complete, governance can be given the attention it deserves [AW: which means, we assume, that common garden-variety members will continue to be frozen out of the discussions].

... we have a written Code of Ethics for Elders of the Worldwide Church of God. You can find a copy of the code on our church website...

Members of the Worldwide Church of God in good standing can receive audited financial statements of the church by writing to Ron Kelly... [AW: but Ron won't action an email request. If you do write in via snail-mail, Ronnie will likely contact your pastor to confirm that you are sufficiently in good standing. We know of one member who tried to follow the process, but was shattered to learn that his "pastor" refused to confirm his "in good standing" status. And we have yet to hear of anyone who has actually managed to prise a copy of the financial report from the vise-like grip of Controller Kelly].

The Bylaws of the Worldwide Church of God have been published in The Worldwide News. A copy is available [online]

The church has procedures in place to justly deal with unethical behavior of any employee or elder... All our employees serve at the will of the church [AW: we assume he means Joey and his stooges] and can be dismissed immediately for wrongdoing. Please read the [AW: completely inadequate] U.S. Church Administration Manual, which has several chapters devoted in whole or part to issues of leadership and accountability [AW: don't even get us started on this one!]... You can find a copy of the manual on the church website...

Mike had asked, relative to the Holy Day issue: "Would it not have been wiser to allow the membership to decide this issue?" Here's how Paul Kroll chose to address this point.

In a sense, each and every member has decided this issue. Those who understood that the new covenant does not require us to keep old covenant worship commands, such as Sabbath rests, stayed with our fellowship. Most of who disagreed went elsewhere.

Perhaps this is how things appear to Paul. The reality is far more complex. Mike would agree, as would many others who left the church, that "the new covenant does not require us to keep old covenant worship commands". The issue is somewhat different, as we suspect Paul is fully aware. The New Covenant doesn't require the addition of Easter and Christmas to the liturgical year either! But we digress...

Should you not be asking whether these so-called "distinctives" really were practices that God commands us, as Christians, to keep and follow, as we once assumed? Since our previous teaching that God commanded Christians to keep the Old Testament festival days was found to be an unbiblical idea, should it not have been given up? Each person must decide what to do in the light of biblical truth.

This is obviously a "straw man" - easy to knock down. It's also not what Mike was talking about. There are a lot of ideas in the current WCG administration (let's see if we can find an example... um, yes, how about tithing?) that have been "found to be an unbiblical idea". Mike isn't arguing for "our previous teaching" about commandment keeping; he's asking that a culture and its customs be respected as the church moves to embrace a wider view. His point appears to have been deliberately misstated in order to make a counter-argument easier.

I thank you for taking the time to write and for giving me the opportunity to comment on your questions and concerns [AW: actually, the questions and concerns were directed to Joe, who chose to duck-shove the job onto Paul rather than do the decent thing himself]. I pray that you will be able to make a positive contribution to the body of Christ, as you hope... May God's peace through Christ and in the Holy Spirit be with you and fill your life.

In Christian Service

Paul Kroll

Postscript: Paul's prayers have been answered. Mike Burk now attends another Christian fellowship.

Pseudo-Science and British Israelism: The following brief article was provided by David Anderson.

The philosophy of Armstrongism is a composite of many forms of error. Not only is it founded on pseudo-theology, but also on many pseudo-scientific ideas, most notably, British-Israelism. Recently, a National Geographic documentary aired on PBS entitled "The Quest for the Phoenicians" and it struck a telling blow against one of the cherished doctrines of Armstrongite pseudo-science. Herman Hoeh and other Armstrongite writers identified many peoples around the world as Canaanites. Since the Canaanites possessed the Promised Land and had to be expelled by ancient Israel after the Exodus, it was a neat piece of historical parallelism to state that Native Americans, for instance, were Canaanites and were expelled or destroyed by the British settlers in North America just as Israel had expelled or destroyed the Canaanites. In concept, wherever "Israelitish" people migrated throughout history, they dispossessed interlopers from lands that were the God intended heritage of "Israel". This would include not only Native Americans but Laplanders, Australian Aborigines, the Maori and African tribes in South and West Africa.

The National Geographic documentary described the research of a team of scientists specializing in DNA analysis. The question they were trying to answer was "Are the Canaanites and Phoenicians the same people?" Archaeologists believed so based on data accumulated from many excavations. The Bible indicates that the Canaanites and Phoenicians were the same. But excavated artifacts do not establish biological connections and the Bible is not generally accepted by the scientific community as being authoritative. The DNA specialists took on the challenge and identified DNA markers based on material from skeletons unearthed near Tyre and Sidon. In one case they removed a tooth from an ancient skeleton to get the DNA inside. The enamel on the tooth was unbroken and the tooth served as a excellent preserving capsule for the pulp inside which contained blood and extractable DNA. They also drew blood samples from Lebanese living in the area. What they discovered was not startling to most people but would be startling to someone schooled in Armstrongite pseudo-science. The researchers discovered that the ancient Canaanites and the ancient Phoenicians and the modern day Lebanese are all the same people. These three populations represent the same gene pool.

I would think the Armstrongite organizations would be lined up outside DNA laboratories to get scientific validation for all of the pseudo-scientific racial assertions that form part of the essential structure of Armstrongism

This means that there is now incontrovertible scientific evidence that Herman Hoeh was wrong about this topic. The neat parallelism between ancient Israel and the modern day Northwest European people is a fabrication. Native Americans, Laplanders, Australian Aborigines, the Maori and various African Tribes are not Canaanites. They did not occupy lands foreordained to be given to the Northwest European peoples. These lands were simply taken through superior technology and population numbers like other similar situations throughout history not involving the British people. A more unsavory aspect of this pseudo-scientific belief held by many Armstrongites was that Black Slavery in early America was not really that repugnant. After all, the West Africans were Canaanites and were condemned in Genesis to be slaves. Further, the extermination of American Indians was just a latter day outplaying of what the ancient Israelites did to the Canaanites and was therefore justifiable.

No doubt, fully indoctrinated Armstrongites would counter this discovery based on DNA analysis about the Canaanites by asserting the absurd idea that all these racially diverse groups of people throughout the world are descended from a common ancestor, Canaan. They would argue racial homogeneity for the tribes of Israel but diversity for the tribes of Canaan, all without foundation for this artificial distinction. But even this assertion is now testable if any reputable researcher could be convinced of the merit of this line of investigation. In fact, I would think the Armstrongite organizations would be lined up outside DNA laboratories to get scientific validation for all of the pseudo-scientific racial assertions that form part of the essential structure of Armstrongism. Who needs the Compendium of World History and writings of British-Israelism if DNA testing could establish the connection between the Jewish and British people without question? Wouldn't corroboration by DNA testing be the most unchallengeable apologetic?

But the real Canaanites are alive and well and living in Lebanon where they have always been since ancient times. But will Armstrongites come to acknowledge this harsh reality, harsh at least to them. If they do, they will need to re-examine much of the pseudo-science popular in the Armstrongite organizations. Though Herman Hoeh renounced the Compendium of World History a couple of decades ago, his two volume work is virtually an inspired companion to the Bible in Armstrongite congregations. How much more scientific evidence will need to be presented before Armstrongites abandon their peculiar view on history and race?

DP Bibliography grows: Two new volumes have been added to the Dateline Pasadena list of books which cover the WCG. You'll find the new additions at the top of the collection.

Weekly Mailbag

WCG's apt new location: Not only is it on Financial Way, it is only about 1/4 mile from "Compromise Line Road". Look up the address on Map Quest and go to the second or third most zoomed in view to verify. Also, it is at the corner of Route 66(6?).

Glenn Parker 

Sigh of relief? Many naive UCG members are breathing a sigh of relief. "See, we told you the situation in WV would be taken care of." Perhaps, instead of praising the UCG hierarchy for "doing the right thing", they should be asking themselves, "Has anything really changed?"

The [elder] has either resigned or has been forced to resign, according to one's interpretation of recent events. However, someone neglected to tell Lyle Welty (UCG Regional Pastor) and John Foster (UCG pastor in Princeton, WV). As of 10/22/04 [the elder] was still listed as the local elder in Princeton and his e-mail address at ucg.org was still posted. Check it out at: http://www.ucgvawv.org/pri/index.html 

Besides giving UCG an excuse to say everything has been taken care of, what has changed?

1. Has the elder apologized to the victim and her family? NO!
2. Have Lyle Welty and John Foster apologized to the victim and her family for suspending them (presumably for bringing the abuse to their attention)? NO!
3. Have the victim and her family been invited back to church? NO! According to sources close to the situation, they will not be invited back until they humble themselves and apologize to the ministry!
4. Has UCG sought the resignations of Lyle Welty and John Foster for their handling of this affair? NO!
5. Has UCG sought the resignation of Richard Pinelli for his public denial that anything ever happened? NO!
6. Has UCG offered to pay for post traumatic counseling for the victim? NO!
7. Has UCG offered to send the [elder] to therapy for sexual offenders? NO!
8. Has the [elder] been reported to the authorities, as the law requires in WV? NO!
9. Have all the other UCG officials who were aware of this situation been charged for their part in attempting to cover up? NO! It is an offense in WV, as it is in many states, to fail to report the sexual abuse of a minor.

In spite of naive UCG hangers-on opinions to the contrary, as long as even one of the above answers remains no, then absolutely nothing has been taken care of.

Bob E. 

AW: Since Bob wrote, the names of both elders (the alleged offender and another person) have been removed from the website.

The C0214334 of God: The Michael Burk letter represented an interesting, cogent challenge to the WCG administration. If anyone wants to conduct their own investigation into the corporate structure of the WCG, the State of California is the place to start (although at any given time in the history of WCG, all sorts of religious and non-profit corporations, and corporate soles existed with legal ties to the WCG all over the United States--the obvious example being the Arizona corporations that processed member donations and funded church operations during the Receivership). The "original" WCG California corporation is still active with an incorporation date of 2/20/1947; the corporate state number is C0214334. General WCG corporate online information is available at http://kepler.ss.ca.gov/corpdata/ShowAllList?QueryCorpNumber=C0214334. For those who want to go to the trouble of filling out a form and sending in $10 to obtain additional written WCG corporate info can start that process here:
http://www.ss.ca.gov/business/corp/pdf/ircform.pdf. Ralph Helge at the now non-WCG administration building address (300 West Green Street, Pasadena) is still listed as the corporate Agent.

Apologetic rhetoric? The recent Gordon Feil apologetic on New Testament canon was more reminiscent of a WCG sermon than a scholarly dissertation. Where were the annotations and footnotes referencing his source material? What he presented was basically rhetoric, logic, unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence, and opinions of learned people with whom we were expected to be impressed.

I did a search to learn what could be found from the names Feil dropped. Basically I confirmed that Sir Edward Clarke did exist, and was a prominent barrister, who was also into art. However, Sir Lionel Luckhoo was hardly just a barrister! In his later years he was a full blown theologian, billing himself as "A humble ambassador for God". (Good grief! Could he have known HWA?) After his conversion in 1978, he wrote his own apologetics, and a disproof of the Islamic religion. Luckhoo was a Guyanan who also had the dubious distinction of having defended the Reverend Jim Jones in a child custody case during the 1960's I'd suggest that readers do their own Google searches on Clarke and Luckhoo.

Over the past years, my own criteria for what constitutes valid research have become more demanding. HWA's fiction is partly to blame for this, but even worse was the pseudo research promulgated by "Dr." Herman Hoeh.

Byker Bob

The Lewistown situation: Perhaps you might like to ask about what is going on in Lewistown and York, PA UCG congregations. Paul Luecke is no longer pastoring there, and Ken Giese and Greg Sargent were appointed as co-pastors back in July. On the few occasions that they have been in the area, they have flown in from Texas and Missouri respectively.

Paul Luecke continues to pastor the Bethlehem, PA congregation.

Before the Feast, 2 elders from the York, PA congregation resigned: Mr. Brian Drawbaugh and Dr. Jim Johns. Readers might like to refer to the article in The Journal of May 04, to see what sparked the problems in those congregations.

Greg Albrecht's book: I can't help but wonder if Greg has created another bird cage liner publication, you know, the sort that once you put it down you can't pick it up. 

Yes, it sounds like PTM needs a rubber ducky with Greg's face on it to accompany their bath on this one. 

Ed Elliott

Though he be dead, yet he liveth! Just a quick note to let you know that the recently deceased prophet of the ICG can be seen once again on TV. My husband was awake for a few hours a couple of nights ago, and as he was channel surfing, who should he see but GTA! It was a cable station and was around 3:00 a.m. here on the West Coast. 

He'll no doubt be a big draw to the ICG!!

AW: Dead Ted continues to be wheeled out each week to tickle the tithes from television viewers and warn the world. 

The Book Shelf

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 paraphrase is by a Sabbatarian, Jack Blanco, former dean of the School of Religion of Southern Adventist University in Tennessee. Our view: far better than Peterson.

Dare to Think for Yourself

Former campus employee Betty Brogaard, wife of a WCG pastor, knew Herbert Armstrong and GTA well. She tells her story of how things really were, and how she left Christianity behind and embraced a rationalist belief. 

In the Beginning

The true story behind the King James Bible

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.

The Prophesied End Time

Church of God PKG leader Ron Weinland has produced a new book full of apocalyptic speculation parading as profound Biblical truth.  

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

Beginning with this issue the Book Shelf feature appears here on the main page under the latest mailbag.

27 October


From Monday's Pasadena Star News.

Worldwide Church of God leaving Pasadena

Officials moving headquarters to Glendora

By Gary Scott , Staff Writer

This building at 2011 East Financial Way in Glendora is being considered for
the new headquarters of the Worldwide Church of God. (Staff photo by
Bernardo Alps)

PASADENA -- The Worldwide Church of God will soon leave the former Ambassador College campus, its home base for more than 50 years, for the smaller, less expensive trappings of an industrial building in Glendora.

Bernard Schnippert, chief financial officer for the church, confirmed the Worldwide Church of God is in escrow to buy a 50,000-square-foot office building at 2011 E. Financial Way. The property is being sold by an industrial engineering firm, Caltrol Inc., which plans to relocate its headquarters to Nevada.

"Emotionally, we enjoyed our time on the Pasadena campus, but it is too much facility for us now,' Schnippert said. He expects the church will close escrow on the Glendora property in early November and will begin moving its offices there some time after the first of the year.

The move is one in a series of steps to downsize the church's holdings and scale back the size of its administration. Schnippert said the church hierarchy plans to cede more authority to the 400 or so individual parishes across the country.

"I think we are in a good place,' Schnippert said. "Our plans are playing out on schedule and as desired.'

Once one of the nation's largest buyers of religious time on TV and radio, the church and its ranks have slowly dwindled since the death of its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, in 1986.

A rift erupted between those who wanted to take the church in a new direction, eliminating some of the strict church doctrine and cutting back on the lavish spending that marked Armstrong's tenure, and those who wanted to hew to Armstrong's original vision.

Church membership dropped to about 67,000 from about 160,000, and the income fell from a high of about $170 million a year to $25 million.

These changes prompted the leadership to begin looking for ways to dispose of the sprawling, 48-acre Ambassador College campus, which sits in one of Pasadena's most affluent neighborhoods.

Financial Way!! How appropriate!

Comment on JLF

The church put forward plans to develop a massive housing project on the property. Nearby residents vehemently opposed any such project, saying the more than 1,000 homes proposed would spoil their neighborhoods with traffic

In the end, the church decided to sell off portions of the campus. The eastern third was bought by Sares-Resgis, an Irvine-based developer that wants to build condos and apartments.

The heart of the campus, including the administration buildings and the world-renowned Ambassador Auditorium, was sold to two private religious groups, Maranatha High School and Harvest Rock Church.

The remaining land, about 17 acres bordering Orange Grove Boulevard, is up
for sale, Schnippert said.

Meantime, the roughly three- dozen Worldwide Church of God employees remain housed in the Ambassador administration building, which the church is leasing back from Maranatha.

Once the church leaves, Maranatha can move ahead with its own plans for the building. According to David Poole, president of the Maranatha board of directors, the school has tentative plans to sell the building to a senior housing developer.

Gary Scott can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4458, or by e-mail at


Mike Burk's letter - the response: Last week AW published a letter from Mike Burk addressed to Pastor General Joseph Tkach. Mike had been assured it would be presented personally to Joe. No reply, however, was received till April, and then it was from the church's Personal Correspondent, Paul Kroll. This is his reply, with a few helpful clarifying comments of ours thrown in.

Dear Michael

Thank you for your letter to Pastor General Joseph Tkach. I'm pleased to answer your questions on his behalf... [AW: maybe Joe had a busy golf schedule that week] I'll make some brief comments about each of the questions you asked...

Before I do so, let me make a few general observations about your questions that speak to possible changes to our church governance. Some of your questions are hypothetical queries or comments in the sense that you are asking the pastor general to express his opinion on possible future configurations of such governance. Since a final governing format is still in process of discussion, I cannot give you definite answers to your questions. [AW: Huh? Paul recognizes that Mike is asking for Joe's personal opinion, then changes tracks to say he can't give an official position?] 

Other of your questions are asked as though Mr. Tkach personally makes unilateral decisions about church matters. That is not how the church operates today. While the church has a hierarchical form of government, our leadership style is collaborative. We have a board of directors [AW: appointed by Joe, not elected] and an advisory council of elders [AW: appointed] as well as a doctrinal review team [AW: appointed]. Leadership is thus a shared process [AW: with absolutely no representation]. Decision-makers also involve district superintendents [AW: appointed], regional directors [AW: appointed] and pastors [AW: appointed]. Pastors, elders, deacons, deaconesses and lay members hold leadership roles [AW: toothless ones] as well.

You say that "the same systems that led to such appalling abuse within our fellowship are still there." You call on the pastor general to change this. We cannot give you any meaningful response to your comments because they do not constitute a valid statement. Your statement begins by implying that wholesale abuses are occurring within the Church today [AW: although that's arguably true, that's clearly not what Mike said.] We would have to disagree with such an observation, and so would, we believe, just about every elder and member in our fellowship [AW: there's wishful thinking. The majority have already voted with their feet].

You also spoke of the "same systems" as being part of our church today that were once extant in the past, presumably under Herbert W. Armstrong as pastor general. I don't know what this means. To what "systems" are you referring? [AW: d'uh!] Perhaps you are speaking of types of possible church governance forms [AW: perhaps Mike is referring to an unaccountable Pastor General who surrounds himself with rubber-stamp committees and yes-men]. I would say that there are three general church government styles or "systems." These are the episcopal, the presbyterian and the congregational. In some Christian sects, one person unilaterally makes all important church and doctrinal decisions. Regardless of whether such unilateralism may have characterized the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong [AW: can there be any doubt?], it certainly does not characterize the church today [AW: which must explain why Mike's concerns are being unilaterally dismissed].

I'm not going to discuss these governance forms in detail [AW: thanks for at least sparing us that irrelevant diversion Paul]...

The present WCG governance form is hierarchical, as I mentioned earlier. To repeat, our church's administration is led by the pastor general [AW: un-elected], with a board of directors [AW: un-elected] and an advisory [AW: toothless and unelected] council of elders. Each congregation is led by a pastor, supported by those holding leadership roles under him [AW: meaning at his pleasure and discretion]. As I explained, our style of leadership is collaborative and even collegial [AW: as long as you're part of this month's inner circle of butt-kissers]. The pastor general does not make decisions for the church by himself [AW: without a sycophantic chorus of agreement from his buddies]

You explained that "the system we inherited from Herbert W. Armstrong is still open to misuse." You said "it is now time to change." While not intending to pronounce our existing systems perfect or even ideal, I nevertheless believe you should distinguish "systems" of governance with what individuals do. If humans were perfect in wisdom, justice and mercy, any and all "systems" or forms of governance would provide good results. Since humans are less than perfect, all systems of government are open to abuse, including a pure democracy. [AW: which is precisely why a robust system of checks and balances, with full accountability, is so necessary!]

You seem to assume that a purely democratic form of church government will ensure what you hope to achieve... From reading your letter, I also sense that you believe these qualities are not present to any great degree in our church. I must disagree with you on this point, as I have stated earlier... [We've snipped a good deal of waffle at this point. The letter runs to 6 pages]

... our church ought to have and adopt the most effective form of governance that is best for us, given our circumstances, history and culture [AW: um, and who do you think decides what is most effective?]. That will become clear as we together [AW: together? Who is "we" specifically?] explore the issues...

If I may say so, the precipitous and hasty calling of a "General Church Conference" - such as you suggest - would also be ill-conceived [AW: precipitous and hasty? Let's think, just how many years has Joe been in the big chair now?] I would suggest that if you have questions or issues you want discussed or resolved, that you speak with your pastor... My point is that if you want grass roots involvement in solving what you feel are problems or potential problems, the place to begin is at the grass roots level. I have to assume that you cannot meaningfully speak to the church governance situation in all the hundreds of WCG congregations scattered throughout many regions of the world [AW: since WCG's leadership holds all the options to prevent anyone doing just that].

But Paul was just warming up. Next he attempts to deal with some of the specific issues Mike raised. We'll cover that part of his epistle in the third and final installment, online this weekend.

Bad News Promotion: Greg Albrecht's recent book Bad News Religion must really be doing badly, judging from the big push PTM is making to sell, sell SELL. 

It’s obvious, only four months after the publication of Bad News Religion, that people who have actually read this life-changing book are overwhelmingly positive about Greg Albrecht’s engaging, inspirational book centered on God’s grace. This book is helping to save people from a terminal virus!
But, our publishers and consultants tell us, having a great book is only the first step.  We have to find a way to share this great news with others.  Will you help?

Yep, those stocks must be crawling at a snail's pace. But Cardinal Albrecht has a deal or two to spin in the latest PTM Update, and what's more, he'd love you to help publicize his wonderful work.

Assuming you like the message of Bad News Religion (or that you will once you read it) we need you to help us spread the news! Here are some ways you can help:

... Write a short review of Bad News Religion to be posted online.  Here are links to some online bookstores that offer readers a chance to review books they have read... PTM NEEDS YOU TO JOIN OUR SALES FORCE!  PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO HELP US GET BAD NEWS RELIGION INTO THE HANDS OF PEOPLE WHO DESPERATELY NEEDS ITS MESSAGE.

Here at AW we love to be helpful, and we're all choked up at the prospect of AW readers being able to express their honest, forthright views on the true value of Greg's insights. We encourage anyone so moved to check out the Update, click across to the review sites, and add their candid comments. Yes, there are people out there who desperately need to hear the real message about the liberating and enlightened ministry of the WCG!


The milk of the word: Douglas Becker is back with a new column. He begins:

Our good friend Rick in the UCG told me he was feeling depressed during that long and almost interminable year of issue after issue of the Columbine School Shootings in that flagship magazine, The Good News. He didn't know why he was feeling so down. Then I gave him a suggestion that transformed his life.

Stop reading The Good News!

I knew how he felt. I felt a low level of something in my life. Something disturbing. I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I came in and saw a stack of Good News Magazines sitting on the coffee table and then I knew. It was a whole year of hyperbole in prophecy, the bad news in The Good News--replete with a section of 'why is there so much bad news in The Good News' by the editors to explain their asinine position of spreading death, destruction and disease. The awful magazine was stuffed with nonsensical paranoia about the world going to hell in a handbasket. Negative, negative, negative!

From there, Doug goes on to make an interesting and eco-friendly recycling proposal. Our view: whatever you do, don't show Douglas a copy of Tomorrow's World!

And never let it be said that The Missing Dimension suppresses contrary viewpoints. Gordon Feil has provided us with an apologetic piece on the trustworthiness of the Bible from a fundamentalist/evangelical perspective. He took exception to some comments we've made about the canon, and the dubious authorship of some of the books. 

The late Raymond Brown

Reason for the Season? Dennis Diehl has written a substantial article on the "Christmas story", addressing the infancy narratives in the Gospels (star, magi, shepherds). Utilizing the work of scholars like Raymond Brown (a Catholic priest and author of The Birth of the Messiah), Dennis asks what really happened. Behind the whimsical title (Reason Smeason for the Season) lies a challenging and provocative presentation. 

As this is a longer article than most, it has been made available as a PDF file, and requires the free Acrobat Reader to view.

COG7 makeover: If you've ever battled with the fiddly drop-down menus on the COG7 website, be of good cheer. The lads in Denver have created a new online look. It's cleaner and less cluttered. Now if they can just do something about the content... 

UCG Elder named: The UCG elder who allegedly abused an underage girl in his congregation has been named on one of the discussion boards. It has also been pointed out that his name and email address are still prominently listed on the homepages of two UCG congregations, despite reports of his recent de-credentialing.


Telling it to Joe straight: Today AW presents the first part of an unusual 2-part story. Earlier this year Pastor General Joe Tkach received a letter that captured what many have often thought but dared not express.

The letter was written by Michael Burk, a long-standing member of the Auckland, New Zealand WCG congregation. Auckland pastor Rex Morgan undertook to present it personally to Joe Tkach at a ministerial conference held in Australia at the beginning of 2004. As it turned out, Joe sent Mike Feazell to deputize. Feazell agreed to pass the letter to Joe.  It appears below, in slightly edited form, with the writer's permission. Next week we'll continue the story and reveal how the letter was received. 

Hi Joe

I started attending in 1983, I was baptized in 1984. I have watched with delight as our fellowship moved away from its abusive and legalistic culture to a more gracious and open Christ-centered fellowship. I have also watched with sadness the shrinkage of our fellowship to where it is today. As we move closer to Christ [some of us have been] asking questions about our direction and future. These are not doctrinal questions but are focused on management. On the WCG Canadian website you mention, "I am calling for leadership that is in stark contrast to our former history of autocratic governance. The ground is level at the foot of the cross..."

The liberation of the Worldwide Church of God has not been completed. The same systems that led to such appalling abuse within our fellowship are still there. Let's change this Joe.

We are calling for this also Joe. The liberation of the Worldwide Church of God has not been completed. The same systems that led to such appalling abuse within our fellowship are still there. Let's change this Joe. Let's prove to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that this fellowship is not purely window dressing to seek glory from men.

I have a few questions on accountability, transparency, representation and communication.

We... would like to call for a General Church Conference

Sadly, the system we inherited from HWA is still open to misuse. It is now time to change. I wish to share with you some thoughts for the future of our fellowship. My desire is to encourage and to provide hope for our brethren, that we are indeed a "community of believers" who have been liberated from men. We (myself and many concerned brothers and sisters) would like to call for a General Church Conference... to:

Thank you for your time. It's truly possible, I hope, to make a positive contribution to the Body of Christ without the fear of disfellowshipment, disassociation and retribution that marked our sad past. And thank you for your openness and understanding...

In Christ

Michael Burk

Weekly Mailbag

UCG Elder's Resignation: (1) In your October 16 update, you reported that the West Virginia UCG elder is no longer credentialed by UCG. What in the world happened here? Wasn't this elder recently given a clean bill of health? In your September 2 update (AW53), you quoted an email from United's church administration leader R. Pinelli to this effect: "There was a recent case where an elder in his late 70s gave public hugs to a young woman in his congregation... 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."

What gives here? Is R. Pinelli now involved in the de-credentialing of the very elder he defended as being innocent just weeks ago? If so, this man is nothing other than a colossal embarrassment to the United church organization. An ethical person would tender his resignation over the handling of this. Is R. Pinelli an ethical person?

Paul Stevens

(2) At last! The WV UCG elder ... has finally resigned. Or was he pushed out the door by his superiors (not ethically or morally superior IMO) because their feet were being held too close to the flames? I wonder if now [his victims] will be invited back to church with apologies from those who defended the deviate? Don't hold your breath! Of course, to those who think the sun shines out of the UCG's nether regions, this resignation doesn't signify anything. To them, the good ol' boys are good ol' boys. How dare the victims slander a servant of the most high COE.

Time of the End: Re recent comments on this topic. readers may like to read the article What's the Time? It can be viewed on the CGOM website in the July/August issue of OUTREACH Newsletter (bottom of the Home Page, PDF format). Or from me at coguk@aol.com

James McBride

AW: There's a link to CGOM on the links page.

Blame Game Again: (1) AA writes that we are all to blame for the evil that HWA perpetrating upon us —well, HWA would have bought into that. It would have removed all responsibility from him. Read some of the Ambassador Reports on his reaction to 1974 not being the “end of the age,” and likewise Mr. Robinson’s book, Armstrong’s Tangled Web on the same subject. I’ve heard the sort of cant that AA is spouting, and it’s nothing more than recycled Armstrong teaching. Unfortunately, AA doesn’t seem to recognize where he got his lines.

It appears that AA is unaware of the forms of indoctrination used by men like HWA, Chairman Mao, and Adolph Hitler. When I began studying history in college, I was struck by the similarity of these two dictators’ indoctrination tactics and my family’s experience in the WCG. Long repetitive proof-text sermons, the 56 volume, proof-text correspondence course, Basil Wolverton’s tailor-made Bible Story with emphasis on what God does to “rebels,” personal intimidation tactics, the assumption that the Bible is inviolable, etc., were all used to Armstrong’s advantage. We were very systematically indoctrinated. Even the YES lessons went back to the “two trees” and reviewed all of the cautionary tales every year before going on to new material. My husband recalls being dumbfounded when our daughter asked him why the YES lessons seldom talked about Jesus. The purpose of the materials was not so much, in my opinion, to teach about the Bible, as to teach a view of the scripture that ensured a new generation of members unable to think for themselves.

I had severe panic attacks when I realized I did not want to be part of the church because I believed that we were on the wrong track according to my readings of Paul’s epistles, because I believed I saw true Christians elsewhere, and also because of the hypocrisy and inconsistency I saw in the church. But having been reared in it since 1959, and as a true believer, I honestly thought I could not leave without losing my eternal life. My mother’s experience was nearly identical. Looking back on it, I should have had the ability to act on my own convictions, but the early and lifelong training made that very difficult. When one has been weaned on “lean not unto thine own understanding” and “there is a way that seems right … but the ends are the ways of death,” thinking confidently for oneself is anathema. 

It was interesting to me when my father, who never joined the cult, told me (after I had left the WCG in 1995) that when he, in desperation, sought the counsel of his Congregational Church pastor circa 1959--1962 when my mother and her family were being drawn into the Armstrong church, the pastor told him that if my mother was listening to and believing Herbert W. Armstrong then nothing he could say would change her mind. Evidently he understood the nature of Armstrong’s power over people once he convinced them he was God’s servant for the end time.

An elderly woman once told me that when she and her husband were living in Oklahoma in the 1950s, they wrote to the church, asking to be baptized. They were visited by two Ambassador College students who asked them only two things: were they tithing faithfully, and did they believe that HWA was God’s servant for the end of the age. When they answered in the affirmative, the students told them they were ready for baptism. I asked her if the students mentioned Jesus Christ, repentance, or anything else, and she said, no, just those two questions. While one could make a case that these two people should have realized something was amiss, if the students were following instructions by asking those two questions, it illustrates the point that Armstrong (or someone supervising these two students) realized that these were, in fact, the two most salient qualities for members to have.

I would like to recommend an excellent book to anyone interested in history and mind control. It is Jackson Speilvogel’s Hitler and Nazi Germany: a History. Similarly, reading up on Chairman Mao and his use of his little red book is also illuminating, and will help shed light on our shared experience in the WCG.

Kathleen Kakacek

(2) "Blame Game" was right on target about how many past and present "victims" of HWA victimized themselves. Yes, "youth, naivete, and idealism", can give some reasons why people are drawn into the WCG and its spinoffs, but even that isn't a good excuse. The Book of Proverbs contain many warnings against the foolishness of youth, their naiveté, and misguided idealism, and warns that "fools despise wisdom and instruction' (Prov. 1:7b), especially if they are young know-it-alls who think they know more than their elders. All the people that I knew in the Peoria, Il WCG, (including myself) thought we knew it all because we were in "God's Church". Mr. Armstrong would explain everything and take care of everything. We were not to be responsible for anything except to pay and pray. We were not to worry about prophecy failures like Petra, perceived misconduct by ministers and lay people that was not dealt with in a proper manner, confusing changes in doctrine, and other sundry items. It would all be taken care of. We foolishly believed this promise, even though life through our parents, teachers, and experiences should have taught us we are responsible for our own choices and actions. Why did we do it?

BG correctly states that "they didn't take responsibly for themselves". Eric Hoffer in "The True Believer" basically says the same thing about the Nazis, the Communists, and every other member of a fanatical mass movement. They
wanted someone else to control their lives because of feelings of inadequacy caused by perceived defects within themselves that "spoiled" (as Hoffer put it) them forever. The only way out was to give themselves over to a leader and a group that would give them a new life in exchange for giving up the responsibility to think for themselves. Anyone who does this delays by months, years, and perhaps forever the solutions to his or hers life problems. While the leader who does this should be held accountable for his pseudo-solution, the follower should be told that he or she is responsible and accountable for his or hers own choices and actions. This is not "oversimplification". This is the bottom line. This is not being "uncharitable". It is an act of love and mercy to warn "the simple" to turn away from a bad habit of not thinking that has, so far, wrecked his or hers life. The only way anyone can improve his or her life in the real world is to understand his or her responsibilities and duties toward God and man and to fulfill them. God told us to choose life or death. (Deut. 30:19) So, whether you're in a dysfunctional religious group, family, or nation, it's your choice, if you are of the age of reason, to go along with sinful, dysfunctional behavior that will make you a victim over and over again.

Steve Dalton

(3) AA states: "anyone at any time could have walked out" ?

But could they have crawled out?

I don't know what age I was (probably three) but I remember laying on a pad crying because Mr. Waterhouse was going on and on and on about the terrible things that were going to happen to the people that did not make it to the place of safety and I knew my father was going to be left behind. I was taught to come to my mother because one day she would call me to come and we would be leaving for the place of safety and if I did not come I would be left for the Germans. 

"They got what they earned"? Tell me what I did to earn that. Wow I think we have a little lack of compassion on the part of AA.

N Zimmerman

(4) One thing I've learned about abusive people is that they become angry when told that they are abusive and they blame the victim. I studied the Bible for years. I sometimes stayed up all night. The problem was I trusted my teachers who were insincere and misled me. I know people still trapped in Armstrong's cult who are virtual Bible scholars for the amount of studying they do. But like a computer fed the wrong information they arrive at false conclusions. Emotions and beliefs are strong controllers. Also the church is not just an intellectual thing it's also a social entanglement which is hard for some to leave behind. I didn't fear for my physical life I feared for my eternal life. After all who wants to go into eternal punishment?  Unfortunately some people who have no conscience play on people's fears and emotions, lie, gain their trust and then fleece them. A good person doesn't take advantage of the weak and ignorant. He helps them and guides them to the correct path asking nothing in return. When able, I did leave the cult and put my life in order. I hope my example will influence those still trapped in Armstrongism so that those who want to leave can see that their lives won't fall apart, but, in time, will get better. Blame doesn't solve anything it just points out error. I do blame the ministers who victimized those who trusted them.

(5) It may be uncharitable, yes, it is in fact. But you have seen how those who have had a beneficial experience of COG are attacked mercilessly if they dare to mention they still believe. Those bitter, angry deluded ones are going to silence anyone who had a successful journey with WCG. I won't be silenced, I won't speak out any more than I do now but I won't let anyone "peer pressure" me into silence. I am just as firm in my belief as they are in their hatred.


AW: And having given AA the last word, this correspondence has now closed.

The Journal and the UCG: (1) This is not unique to New Zealand. Here in Canada the ministry shows its complete disdain for The Journal and refuse to acknowledge its existence or approve of anything in it.

(2) I got news for you. Before a bunch of us left WCG, we were passing information to one another at church. Once we left to form a new group, and UCG had it's grip on us, and some were still passing out literature, we were told that we could not read or pass on any information anymore at church unless it had been approved by the "pastor", and then were given a sermon on "government" and how we needed to SUBMIT to it. So, it's nothing new. 


(3) A couple of comments on Mr. Caudle’s practice of “promoting” only UCG literature: the first is if Mr. Caudle is speaking for the UCG, and not just for himself, then it appears as though the church leadership is clamping down tighter—usually a big mistake in the end, but sometimes effective short term for keeping orderly submission; the second is that a UCG minister, Wilbur Berg, was the one who first introduced my husband and me to the Journal around 1994/95. From what I’ve seen, it is as free of editorial comment as could be desired by anyone interested in fair reporting. Mr. Caudle should ask himself why such a fact-based reporting should be threatening to anyone’s spiritual well-being. And with that in mind, he might also ask himself why he believes that he must act as a censor for his congregation; finally, members may wish to ask themselves why they were presumed intelligent enough to discern truth (“Don’t believe me, prove it for yourself”—HWA) when being called into the church, but now, after baptism and the laying on of hands to impart the holy spirit, they are presumed too vulnerable or ignorant to know what is best for them. Any religion that insists on censoring your reading material is one that should be vigorously questioned.

One of my favorite maxims is, “Always seek the truth, but beware of anyone that claims he has it.”

Kathleen Kakacek

(4) This passage in Jeff Caudle's letter to you, "I have informed the membership of UCG that we do not promote the materials of any other Church organization.... Our practice is to promote material published by UCG" leaped out at me. I wonder if that applies to the Holy Bible, which most certainly was not published by the United Church of God.

Yes, I know, I'm overly simplistic. :o)

Maria Stahl

(5) With respect you must be missing a few mental dimensions if you believe the blatant lies of your informant regarding the comments made by Mr Caudle. I know from first hand that neither the terms nor the words - The Journal or Tool of Satan - were used in Mr Caudle's message. I would presume that yourselves and anyone associating with you would be people professing to keep God's laws to one degree or another?

A simple test of that is not breaking them. Lying is breaking one of them. Your informant obviously considers this (lying) easier to do than to stop send unsolicited mail to people who just happen to attend UCG. I have received The Journal - unsolicited. I even bothered to read it. I also bothered to throw it away once I realized that the reality TV shows on the local TV channel had less garbage in them than SOME of the articles I had read.

Mr Caudle's comments were that he politely asked (with a "please") that those people (possibly sitting in the audience) that were sending unsolicited, non-UCG publications to other UCG members 'please' not do that. Those UCG members who had received these unsolicited, non-UCG publications had conveyed to Mr Caudle that they did not appreciate receiving them and had thought that he/the UCG NZ office had sent them. Mr Caudle explained that he/the UCG NZ office did not send out publications that were not published by UCG.

Obviously your informant is someone who is sending unsolicited mail to UCG members and was offended by Mr Caudle's comments/message. In a bid to expedite vengeance they decided to make up lies as opposed to stop sending people mail that they did not want.

So 'yes' unsolicited mail was requested to stop. And 'no' The Journal and the Tool of Satan were terms and words not used in his message. If you're going to bother reporting things at least have the self respect to ensure that what you report is accurate. Otherwise you make yourself no better than the common tabloid reporting aliens in a Texas backyard?!


AW: Let me get this straight. We contact both Jeff Caudle and Bruce Porteous for comment. We carry Jeff's statement in full. We clearly state: "Exactly what was said is unknown, but the inference was crystal clear to members". And you (a) accuse AW of not taking steps to ensure the item is accurate and (2) accuse us of saying that Jeff called The Journal a "tool of Satan". Honestly, did you actually read the reports?

The expression "tool of Satan" was Bruce's description, not a Caudle quote. Read it again. Your own comments clearly indicate that whatever was said, everybody understood that the reference was to The Journal. Let's also note that you've written using what seems to be a fictitious identity. Nobody else we've contacted has felt the need to hide their identity in this way. Your expressions of outrage ring a bit hollow. 

I guess my greatest surprise in reading your comments though, is your willingness to assume the worst about the fellow members in your congregation. Do you really imagine you've got dissident attendees who secretly mail things out, then are eaten up with a burning desire for vengeance and self justification? It doesn't sound like a healthy Christian environment to me - way too much paranoia.

The Book of Daniel: (1) Is Daniel a work of fiction? It seems rather unlikely seeing that in its 9th chapter, verses 25 to 26, we see an accurate prediction of when Christ would first come. Not sure how they explain that one away.

Lyle Lange

(2) While it is true that the speculation that the book of Daniel is a pseudepigraph dating from the Maccabean Crisis circa 165 A.D. has been very popular in biblical scholarship for much of the past century, more recent scholarship is finding that speculation to be wholly untenable. In particular, I would draw everyone's attention to Douglas E. Fox's obscure paper "Ben Sira on OT Canon Again: The Date of Daniel" (Westminster Theological Journal 49 (1987) 335-350). Though the paper is nearly 20 years old, its ripples are still spreading out and affecting academic biblical studies. Fox makes a very compelling argument from biblical phrases found in the original Hebrew text of The Wisdom of Ben-Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) that Ben-Sirach must have had the Hebrew-Aramaic text of Daniel before him when he wrote his book circa 180 B.C., and may well have regarded it as scripture. Fox's findings would utterly explode the Maccabean hypothesis, though his findings don't prove that Daniel isn't a pseudepigraph.

One hypothesis I've encountered is that Daniel was placed among the Writings because the collection of the Prophets had already been "closed," not because Daniel was a literary fiction. Indeed, the Jews have traditionally viewed Esther and Ruth as historical documents, not fictions, and yet those books are also found among the Writings. Again, Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah are found among the Writings despite their manifest historical character. So the fact that Daniel was grouped among the Writings tells us nothing about what kind of book it is.

In any case, the traditional Jewish tripartite grouping of Old Testament books is not the only kind. The Septuagint tradition dispensed with the tripartite division altogether, instead substituting a four-part division of books: Law, History, Poetry, and Prophecy. In that tradition, Daniel was grouped among the Prophets. Suggestions of that tradition are perhaps to be found in 4Q174, a Qumran text that quotes Dan. 12:10 as written in the "book of the Daniel the prophet," and in the Olivet Prophecy in the canonical Gospels, where Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation, spoken of by "Daniel the prophet."

Jared Olar

AW: A very fair discussion on the dating of Daniel can be found here. I think your suggestion that the Maccabean dating is now "wholly untenable" in light of an "obscure paper" by a United Methodist minister who appears to have been published only once, and then in a conservative Calvinist journal, is more wishful thinking than reality. 


Caudle comments: UCG minister Jeff Caudle has responded to our enquiry about his directions from the pulpit regarding The Journal.

Caudle.jpg (665690 bytes)You asked that I comment on a a report to you by an unnamed source that I used the pulpit to discourage people from reading The Journal. I have informed the membership of UCG that we do not promote the materials of any other Church organization, including The Journal. Our practice is to promote material published by UCG.

AW's editor responded: Thanks Jeff. I guess that counts as a "yes". Promoting one thing is a bit different from discouraging another though, as I'm sure you realize.

Needless to say, The Journal is not another "Church organization" but an independent publication.

More WCG clergy walk the plank: According to the latest Worldwide News several WCG ministers left the sect's employ in the second half of 2004. They include: Lloyd Garrett, pastor of the Washington, D.C., East church, Michael J. Kuykendall, pastor of the Salt Lake City and Layton, Utah, churches, Aaron Root, pastor of the Washington, D.C., West church and Micah Royal, pastoral intern in the San Bernardino, Moreno Valley and Palm Springs, California, churches. This list does not include those who have been retired or booted down to "bivocational" (unpaid volunteer ministry).

On the other hand, we note that Roger Burrow ("WCG's Mother Theresa") is still listed as pastor of "Community Faith Fellowship" out in West Palm Beach. We reported on Burrow's interesting reputation as a slum landlord in AW49 (23 May upload).


From the "Are You Holding Your Breath?" Department:

 The Pastor General has mentioned, in the past, the idea that the office of Pastor General might at some time be limited in years of service. Preliminary discussions involving all regional directors and U.S. district superintendents have taken place on governance issues. These will continue after the Pasadena church property sale process is over and the new financial model for U.S. churches is implemented. At present, these matters demand priority status. When these matters are complete, governance can be given the attention it deserves.

Paul Kroll, letter to Michael Burk, April 5, 2004

More to follow in the weekend upload

The prophet Ron: Move over Gerry Flurry, somebody else has claimed the prophetic mantle. Enter Ron Weinland, who has pastored under a variety of COG brand-names prior to discovering his very special calling. Recently AW mentioned his new book, The Prophesied End Time. Bob Thiel reports that the biographical blurb on the dust jacket states:

Ronald Weinland was ordained a minister in God's Church in 1981. Then, in 1997, he was called to be a prophet for this end-time. A prophet, in this context, is 'one given inspired interpretation of recorded prophesies' 

We're told Weinland believes God has given him a unique understanding of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation [along with 101 other wacko COG and SDA groups]. Joe Tkach Sr. was the "man of sin" described in 1 Thessalonians 2. His death by cancer was the act of a punative God. In Ron's reality everything seems to revolve around Herb, Joe Sr. and (presumably) himself. Maybe he should get out more. And we're told the dude can be quite convincing, if you're willing to park your mind at the door and soak up the sermons.

Of course, Ron could be right. He certainly seems to think so. Then again he could just be severely delusional. Which? Tough choice, but we don't think you'll need to flip a coin.

UCG and The Journal: It seems incredible, but it appears UCG's minister in New Zealand, Jeff Caudle, has advised members to avoid that dangerous and subversive publication, The Journal. Exactly what was said is unknown, but the inference was crystal clear to members: stay away from any information that hasn't been appropriately sanitized by the sect's leadership. 

The Journal is the major print periodical covering news of the COGs, and regularly features articles by UCG members. Editor Dixon Cartwright, in our view, bends over backward to present factual, respectful and accurate reports. Journalists like Bill Stough deliver thorough, meticulously researched articles. While AW has a different focus and function, we admire the professionalism of the Big Sandy based newspaper. Why would Caudle want to shut down members' access to this publication?  

We attempted to contact Jeff Caudle in an effort to clarify the reports we'd heard, but so far have not received any response. However The Journal agent in New Zealand, Bruce Porteous, confirmed that the reports were consistent with his information. He said The Journal had been portrayed as "the tool of Satan", and noted the surprising reaction of UCG members to a recent offer of free promotional copies: they "refused to accept or even look at [them]." 

If this is not an isolated incident, and UCG members are now being exhorted to shun objective news sources, the church seems set to lurch even further toward the paranoid fringe.

On a related note, the latest issue of The Journal (September 30) is now out. The front and back pages are available in PDF format online.

Daniel - an ancient novel? No book of Old Testament prophecy has had as much impact on Adventist bodies (which includes the COGs) as Daniel. Millions of words have been written in an attempt to tie all those strange symbols and predictions to current world events. Herb, Teddy, Gerry, Spanky, Fred, Willie and now Ron Weinland, have spilt rivers of ink in the process. So, in the interests of livening up the debate, here's a very un-COGish perspective. The following comments come from the introductory notes to the Book of Daniel in the Christian Community Bible, a Catholic translation.

The author of the book of Daniel must have been one of the teachers of the Law who, in the days of the great persecution at the time of the Maccabees, encouraged the spiritual resistance of his people... The Jewish community that compiled the biblical books placed the book of Daniel, not among the prophets of the 6th century (the time of Daniel), but rather among the last books of the Bible. The book was not placed among the prophets, but under the heading of writings about religious teachings. They did this because they were aware that the "story" of Daniel and his visions was not an historical account, but rather a literary fiction.

We must realize that in the two centuries before Christ this way of speaking about present events as if God had revealed them to some famous persons of the past, was current. So they would tell of this person's visions, predicting events actually happening in the present, and then tell how this visionary received the religious interpretation of these events from God: the saving plan of God was being fulfilled.

Nobody tell Ron!

New books from times past: Dateline Pasadena has tracked down two more items for his list of books dealing with the WCG. You'll find them at the top of the Collector's Bookshelf page.


Elder resigns: AW understands that the West Virginia UCG elder who allegedly made inappropriate advances to an underage girl in the congregation is no longer credentialed by the church. We have been told that an announcement was read to the congregation before the Feast of Tabernacles. At this stage we have no further details.

Brogaard book to be released: Betty Brogaard's remarkable story is about to be released in book form. In an article on The Painful Truth site Betty writes:

I believe my perspective is unique in that (1) I am a woman--placing me on the low end of the “food chain” as far as the WCG and Ambassador College (AC) were concerned; (2) I had opportunity to interact with many of the top-ranking ministers and executives of the organization; (3) I was married to a pastor-rank WCG minister; and (4) now, even though I am an atheist, I am still married--for almost 40 years--to that same, kind gentleman who remains a dedicated Christian and is currently very active as an elder in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Mrs. Brogaard served in a number of capacities at Pasadena, and relates part of her story in the PT article. The book, Dare to Think for Yourself, contains a good deal more, and gives her reasons for having abandoned religious faith. Whatever you might think about Betty's current beliefs, this is a significant contribution from someone who knew the Armstrongs personally, and will become an indispensable part of any future bibliography on the Worldwide Church of God. 

Dare to Think for Yourself is just under 200 pages long, and retails at $19.95. It will appear in print next month, but can be pre-ordered now through Amazon.

Weekly Mailbag

Prince: Evidently rumors bear some truth:the musician/artist "Prince"--who just released a highly controversial music video related to terrorism -- converted to become a Jehovah's Witness earlier this year. Ironic, considering that Prince was raised a Seventh-day Adventist. Online Blogs are howling that Prince has re-written former sexually explicit lyrics (E.g. Purple Rain) to reflect biblical principles. Prince joins such celebrity notables as Michael Jackson and others in the JW Hall of Fame.

If the WCG hadn't jerked to the right of Christology, one can only wonder whether Prince might have made it to Pasadena, paling into insignificance the Bobby Fischer era. Prince as a Young Ambassador? Oh my. Surely "Party like it's nineteen ninety-nine" would have fit into a time cycle somewhere. According to one source, Prince conducts his "door-to-door" JW evangelism in a stretch limo; that may well have fit into the 300 West Green Street corporate culture. Or whoops, maybe even Edmond.

Perhaps "That Prophet" and Spanky should review their literature request databases, lest rappers LL Cool J or P. Diddy be considering a trip to Oklahoma (Imagining Snoop Dogg in concert with Gerald Flurry in the wannbe "Ambassador Auditorium" knockoff is particularly satisfying) or Charlotte.

The Blame Game: I believe the "victims" of HWA victimized themselves. We were told to "prove all things". That means study and learn from our Bibles. Clearly most didn't do that, they listened to sermons and figured that was enough. Because of that, they didn't take responsibility for themselves, they were given the "strong delusion". Do they realize this and take steps? No, they blame someone else, the ministers, HWA, whatever, never admitting it was their own fault and whine about it to boot. They got what they earned. I studied everything I heard or read and I have no resentment because I did what I was supposed to. We are called sheep but that doesn't mean we are to be stupid and ignorant. When you put your destiny in others' hands you are asking for trouble and disaster and that is what happened. It didn't need to, anyone at any time could have walked out. Enough doing that and HWA would have realized there was trouble. Instead people were lazy, letting others tell them what was what and now they have no excuse. They complied out of fear of not going to the place of safety, as if the ministers were the ones to decide who went and who didn't. Hanging on to their membership because that meant they were "chosen" and "elect". They were saving their own lives instead of being willing to lose their life.


AW: I think that's not only uncharitable but a gross oversimplification. People joined - and stayed - for a range of reasons. Many were quite simply betrayed by leaders playing on their naiveté, youth or idealism.

Pat FOTs it in Jerusalem: Just a note to let all know that when ya went to the FOT this year ya had good company... Namely Pat Robertson.

"Robertson, an outspoken supporter of Israel who is in the country to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, also added that visitors to Israel should not be overly critical of the government's political decisions."

Gee... Ole Pat must be gettin' that ole time Herbie religion?

Mike Minton

AW: Fleecing the suckers (AA excepted) certainly seems to be a shared spiritual gift

Another gun lap: You just gotta shake your head in wonder at guys like Rebel Rod there, getting his dumb sheep ready for the next gun lap with his "Time is short!" schtick. Same old stupid Armstrongism. Same old sheep shearing.

I have a bit of disappointing news, however, for the ACOG (Armstrong Churches of God) cults out there and all the other assorted religious kooks & loonies who think the millennium is just around the corner. We've just entered the Jewish year 5764 (depending upon which rabbi you follow). Do the math, folks! By my reckoning, 6000 - 5764 = 236 more years to go. That would take us out to the year 2240 for the "end of the age" to show up. Anybody wanna bet if the imploding ACOGs will even be in existence by then? Will any of them even warrant a footnote in religious history at that time?

But we all have learned by now never to underestimate the power of "God's" prophets, like Lord Merrydeath. They can always come up with scriptures that will tell us that time is going to be cut short. And who are the Jews to tell the ACOGs anything anyway? They don't even know which night the true Passover is on! Geeze, how can you follow a group of deceived scholars like that? (Never mind that they follow the Jews in just about everything else pertaining to religion, right down to the time table for their holy pay days.)


These people are not just as nutty as WCG, they are 10 times worse and would make the most extreme of the old WCG evangelists proud by their absurd and abusive ideas.

Christadelphians: You should also take a look here. This Christadelphian site in California is linked to a NZ group. You will observe that the site master suffered a stroke after a period following the death of his wife. His wife was my former WCG wife of moons ago. His wife died after getting seriously ill following a bout with WCG type quack medicine including colloidal silver. So what does [he] do? He spends $120,000 of her insurance money on a tour bus fitted with a computer so that he could pick her up at the first resurrection with plans to then drive on to pick up my daughter (who was adopted, murdered and cremated all without my knowledge. She died in 1994 one month from her 21st birthday. I learned this about 3 years ago.) The webmaster of that site then wallowed in his own filth (literal filth) at home and had a stroke. Right now he is in a sanatorium.

These people are not just as nutty as WCG, they are 10 times worse and would make the most extreme of the old WCG evangelists proud by their absurd and abusive ideas.

My ex-wife went from one bad idea that I liberated her from (WCG) right into an even worse idea which killed her, caused her new hubby to have a stroke and caused the circumstances for my daughter's murder. They were into "40 Biblical beatings" to make children behave! Isn't that lovely?

I view Herb as Stanley's puppet. Stanley had his own agenda. The rest and and all of the splinters are sick dogs waiting to be put to sleep by a vet. I am out of all of this man made and organized religion. Without the chanting I think that the American Indians and others had it right. God is nature - whatever nature is - but idiot human beings sure don't know.


Dear valued employees: The following announcement from Mat Morgan (Sept.29 Tkach update), along with a little improvisation on the theme, was forwarded to AW on Monday.

In an effort to keep you well informed, as valued employees, I am pleased to provide the following update on behalf of the Board of Directors: 

As previously reported to you, a team from the church has been studying an office building in Glendora to determine its suitability as the new administrative headquarters for the church. The investigation is now complete and the Board has given approval to proceed to the close of escrow. We anticipate escrow will close in November. 

Following the close of escrow, it will be necessary to reconfigure the building and its systems to meet the needs of the church and to do the necessary painting, cleaning, etc. This process may take a few months. Therefore, we would not expect the building to be ready for move in until sometime during the first quarter of next year. 

We appreciate the efforts of the due diligence team for their help during this process and thank you to all employees for their flexibility during this time of transition.

Mat Morgan
Secretary, Board of Directors

Came in last night at half past ten
That Ol' Che Ahn wouldn’t let me in
So move it on over (move it on over)
Move it on over (move it on over)
Move over little dog cause the big dog’s moving in

He's changed the lock on my office door
My door key don’t fit no more
So get it on over (move it on over)
Scoot it on over (move it on over)
Move over skinny dog cause the fat dog’s moving in

This dog house here is mighty small
But it’s better than no house at all
So ease it on over (move it on over)
Drag it on over (move it on over)
Move over old dog cause a new dog’s moving in

Bernie & Ron told told me not to play around
But I done let the deal go down
So pack it on over (move it on over)
Tote it on over (move it on over)
Move over Joey dog cause a mad dog’s moving in

He warned me once, he warned me twice
But I don’t take no one’s advice
So scratch it on over (move it on over)
Shake it on over (move it on over)
Move over short dog cause the tall dog’s moving in

They'll all crawl back to me on their knees
I’ll be busy scratching fleas
So slide it on over (move it on over)
Sneak it on over (move it on over)
Move over Joey dog cause a mad dog’s moving in

Remember pup, before you whine
Glendora side’s yours and Pasadena side’s mine
So shove it on over (move it on over)
Sweep it on over (move it on over)
Move over cold dog cause a hot dog’s moving in 

Describing a cult: Most former WCG members have tried to make sense of their experience in the church, and some have found it helpful to put the outward journey down in writing. One such story is told in Describing a Cult: The Worldwide Church of God Experience. The anonymous writer, who is apparently also the web master, says in his introduction to the site:

I am a non-specialist except in one area - namely that I share the experience with others of having my mind enslaved by a soul-destroying cult. That cult's magazine was called The Plain Truth, a magazine of fear, during the 1980's, and a magazine about giving up on this world for the next.

Their "Plain Truth" is not my idea of truth anymore. I believe the better way to decide, "What is true?", is not by following the whims of a religious tyrant who pretends special access to God, but by paying attention to your own mind, and applying your own reason to human knowledge and experience.

Clear Word: Pam Dewey has expressed some forthright views on The Clear Word, a Bible paraphrase mentioned recently here. Readers interested in her criticism of the book can check out the excellent Is It So website. As we made clear in our references to it, The Clear Word is the work of Jack Blanco, a Seventh-day Adventist. Does Blanco's affiliation affect his choices in interpretation? Definitely. But, then again, a paraphrase is not a translation. Here's how one conservative theologian puts it:

A "translation" follows more closely both the wording and the meaning of the Scriptures' original languages (Hebrew and Aramaic for the Old Testament, Greek for the New). A "paraphrase," meanwhile, actually tries to explain and restate what the Biblical texts "really mean," especially those hard-to-understand passages... Despite the significant benefit of "readability," a paraphrase should not be the only Bible used for in-depth Bible study... Jeffrey Gibbs, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

As Blanco says in the preface, his “is not a translation, but a devotional paraphrase… It should not be considered a study Bible… A writer’s own understanding of a biblical text will surface in a paraphrase…” That’s a fair warning, and a necessary one. Blanco takes liberties with the text that some will find disturbing. But The Clear Word, while flawed, is still a worthwhile aid to anyone struggling with the disjointed proof texting practices common in most COGs. When a better paraphrase comes along, we'll be pleased to give it a plug. Meantime, Pam's reservations provide a counterbalance for anyone considering using The Clear Word regularly.


Grumpy GRUMPS: GRUMPS are, so the story goes, "God's Remnant Under Much Persecution". Amongst the faithful remnant are some who formed a charitable trust to send Bibles to Africa, reportedly led by former church employee Bill Scott. There are now reports that there is pressure to use those tithes to support local members instead, and cracks appear have opened in the group as a result.

In Search of Hinson: AW researcher Dateline Pasadena is trying to locate a copy of Broadway to Armageddon by William Hinson. This is one of the earlier exposés by a WCG insider, and copies seem to have dried up. If you can help (either by loaning a copy, photocopying or selling) contact DP at datelinepasadena@yahoo.com.   

Knowles in a lather: Brian Knowles has written some provocative and thoughtful stuff over the years, but get him started on politics and it's wise to stand well back and duck the shrapnel. The most recent example of spleen venting is a column on the ACD site where the former Plain Truth editor spits tacks, fulminates, and paints the world in stark black and white. Brian advises "if you happen to be a person of the Left, don’t get your knickers in a knot", but given the level of bile-sodden prose, one has to wonder if it's Brian's own unmentionables that are choking off his circulation.

Ex-Mormons laud Joey: Brigham City, Utah is an unlikely place to find passionate fans of Pastor Generalissimo Joe Tkach and the de-Armstronged WCG, and even less likely to be the center of a hagiographic video that heaps praise on WCG's dubious transition to evangelical orthodoxy; and yet it is. Living Hope Christian Fellowship, a small storefront church in an overwhelmingly Mormon community, has found a kindred spirit and optimism for the future in WCG's makeover from fringe Adventist sect to fringe Evangelical sect, so much so they've produced their own video to document the journey.

Due to be released next month, Called to be Free was produced by Living Hope Ministries, its second production. The first was DNA vs. The Book of Mormon, a subject perhaps more predictable than the current one.

Publicity on the church's website states:

It was unheard of in Christian Church history a mere decade ago. In fact, to propose that such a thing could happen would have been absurd.

Called to be Free recounts the compelling story of the Worldwide Church of God, which started as a religious cult in the 1930s, and in the 1990s, in a mighty move of God, shed their heretical teachings and embraced biblical, evangelical Christianity.

Could it happen again?

The story is a deep encouragement to Christians. And with a profound and moving exposition of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ--from the mouths of those once bound by deception--it is a beacon of hope and good news for those still caught in, or recovering from, cults, heretical movements, and legalistic bondage.

Living Hope also promotes books by WCG insiders Joe Tkach, Mike Feazell and Greg Albrecht. It seems the grass is always greener...

Ex-Christadelphians slam Herb: Christadelphians are not widely known in the Christian community, but share a number of characteristics with Armstrongism and are often (unjustly) lumped in with Jehovah's Witnesses. As an eager-beaver member in the late-70s, attending the Feast of Tabernacles in Christchurch, I was talked into attending a Christadelphian public lecture on prophecy by a member of the local WCG. We turned up with our well-marked, oversize KJVs and succeeded in impressing the presenter with our textual dexterity so much that he cornered us after the meeting. It turned out he was something of a fan of Herbert Armstrong, and had been mightily impressed by The Missing Dimension in Sex.

No wonder then that ex-Christadelphians might take a sideswipe at Herb - particularly those seeking to move into the evangelical mainstream. Australian John Hutchinson, a Baptist lay preacher, has written a paper for the ex-Christadelphian website trutheternal.org that does just that (unlike the good folk in Brigham City, John appears not to be aware of the PR-marketed repentance of WCG). He lists the works of Herb and The Philadelphia Trumpet as material to avoid.

In 1968 Herbert W. Armstrong, and son, Garner Ted, sensationally headlined a booklet with these words:

“Today, Chaos!
Tomorrow, the World erupts into Peace!
Today, the threat of human extinction!
‘Tomorrow, Utopia grips the Earth!

‘Where will you be, ten years from now? You can know what’s going to happen. In this booklet, you are going to take an astonished look into the world as it will be in just ten or fifteen short years. It’s going to sound INCREDIBLE to you - yet it is SURE! This advanced news of Tomorrow is accurate! It is as certain as the rising of tomorrow’s sun.’ (The Wonderful World Tomorrow p. 2-3).

“Tomorrow’s sun” has long since set on this sensational prediction. MILLIONS WERE DECEIVED!

The Hutchinson document (How to Examine a Religion that Claims to be Christian) is downloadable in a variety of formats.

Weekly Mailbag

Snake oil: In response to AA's comments (Sept. 27 mailbag); I was in Armstrong's cult. I was a victim. I didn't know that until after I left. It was not a choice but a revelation to discover that Armstrong was merely a "snake oil salesman" and the ministers were arrogant, "power mad" "ass-kissers". I walked into a spider-web and it took a long time to get out. Some never get out. When people believe something it's difficult for them to see another opinion. It's not about making excuses. I am what I am and I didn't make myself that way. I do blame the ministers who took advantage of the people who trusted them.

Rotten eggs and racism: While I have never been a member, I've been a very interested observer of UCG since its founding. I have to say that if the UCG hierarchy is trying to cast itself as an evil corporate bureaucracy willing to crush anything that gets in its way, the plan is working beautifully.

I have a hard time figuring out which appears more lacking in forthrightness: the administration currently in the White House or the one running the UCG. Cincinnati's Orwellian justifications of its actions seem as flimsy and weaselly as the White House's justifications for war in Iraq. (Perhaps UCG has been looking to Bush & Co. as its example?)

It's very revealing that the UCG politburo would contemplate giving tithepayer money to a "public relations expert or professional press release writer" to sell the official li(n)e back to the tithepayers. If they were doing the right thing and telling the truth, this would not be necessary.

As someone with a background in communications, here's my free advice to UCG: You should cease and desist from all attempts or even plans to "evangelize" new people into your increasingly cultlike organization. Instead, focus on fixing yourselves first. In the longer term, you need to reassess the raison d'etre of your superfluous hierarchy, which probably hinders the preaching of the gospel and teaching of converts more than it helps.

Of course, such a reassessment will never happen any more than the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy will do a deep soul-searching, disband itself, and give all its assets to the poor. Corporate organizations exist to perpetuate and grow themselves. It is simply the nature of the Beast. When people ask me why I do not belong to a church organization, I often point them to this article: "Rotten Eggs and the Hen that Lays Them".

Now to switch to another topic recently covered on your site: "interracial" marriage. (In quotes because there's only one human race; the notion of separate "races" is a sociopolitical construct created to support racial subjugation, slavery, colonialism, eugenics, etc.) I belong to what is, in this country, a minority group. However, I was raised in a multiethnic environment, I have mixed cousins who live in Germany, and I've had friends and dates of every color of the rainbow. So I never really thought twice about this issue until I joined the CGI.

That organization's official stance toward interethnic marriage was one of cautious approval. Well, I thought, cautious approval is better than none. But I hadn't been in the church long before being appalled by some bizarre remarks from GTA in a sermon that was supposedly about angels. When he came to the issue of the sons of God marrying the daughters of men in Genesis 6:4, he declared that this was not about angels and women, but about supposedly unlawful marriages between the "lines" of Seth and Cain. This was his jumping-off point to stray into comments about Noah's supposed racial purity, and how men of all ethnicities lust after "six-foot Swedish blondes" more than any other type of woman. The take-away message was that Yahweh destroyed mankind in the Flood because of "race-mixin'."

While still puzzling over the discrepancy between the official doctrine and GTA's remarks, I went to the Feast and argued into the wee hours of the morning with white brother and sister--very intelligent, pleasant young people--who still believed interracial marriage was prohibited in the Bible. That was in 1993. Now it's 2004, and I'm dismayed that 18 years after HWA's death people still adhere to what is, to be frank, racist nonsense.

Not long ago I met a UCG family who were all around nice, kind, warm and extremely generous--in fact, they helped me greatly in a time of need. However, I was bewildered by the fact that these folks seemed to be in a time warp. They still spoke of "Mr. Armstrong" with great reverence, and of UCG as "the Church." (The mom told me that I needed to "decide which organization God is calling you to be in," the clear implication being that I needed to join UCG. When I politely objected to the idea that UCG was "the Church," citing the numerous other WCG offshoots before and since, the dad said UCG was the only legitimate one because "we waited until God's ministers left, and we left with them.")

The mother became concerned that I might be interested in their adult daughter. She let me know that although I was a nice boy, they would never approve of their children dating "interracially." The most puzzling thing about this exchange was that their children are already mixed, since the parents are Asian and white! When I pointed out that obvious fact to the mom via email, a lot of dancing around the issue ensued. She said she and her husband had made a "mistake" in marrying and had endured much reproach as a result. I asked her whether she thought their love for one another was a mistake. Were their children mistakes?

Eventually the mom let on that "white/yellow seems to be more accepted in some parts of the world. ... But for some reason black with anything runs most people the wrong way. ...We have encouraged our children to stay within the white/yellow lines." My reaction to this, to use a cliche, was stunned disbelief.

In subsequent emails I tried to politely reason with her, but I don't think I got anywhere. It seemed this couple had absorbed HWA's double standard about race. Indeed, in HWA's book, white and Asian was to be discouraged (well, with the small exception of HWA and his little Filipina friends). But white and black was unthinkable. Blacks are tainted with the "curse" of Ham, and besides, Nimrod was the root of all evil and he was black too! See?

In the end, HWA seemed not so much against interracial marriage on any principled grounds, as he was anti-black. Well, if it will ease the worries of any racists out there, I do not share the late GTA's enthusiasm for "six-foot Swedish blondes." I like my white women petite and dark-haired, and a little on the zaftig side. (If your daughter fits this description, better lock her up quick!)

Lastly, thanks for the Rod Meredith article on "queers." While I agree with him that homosexual acts are sinful, his citing of J. Edgar Hoover to prove this point exceeded the recommended daily allowance for irony.

[name withheld]

Lone Ranger Rod: I read with combined amusement and disgust that Dr. Meredith decided (with his board of directors) after the recent hurricanes, that the “6,000 years is about up.” Wow! Imagine. I hope none of his followers are old enough to remember that, just like his mentor, HWA, Meredith et al have beat this same drum since God was a boy. It’s a good way to get people to funnel money that would be far better spent on their children, or to relieve suffering, or medical research, than to people who make promises they can’t deliver and can never be held accountable for if they are wrong. And they have no proof to offer that they are right.

What would these guys do without wars, natural disasters, and “sinners?” It reminds me of an old Bill Cosby sketch about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Cosby asks, “Have you ever wondered what these guys would do if they came into a town and there was no violence? They’d have nothing to do all day but sit in a bar and get drunk.” 

Fundamentalist regimes of every stripe need the very people they decry to give purpose to their lives, and they prey on the fears of simple people by sounding alarms over human conflict and natural disasters. I heartily recommend to your readers a non-fiction book explaining such phenomena, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. 

Kathleen Kakacek

Quickened entrails: Thine parchment on the most holy KJV bringeth joy to my heart and quickeneth my entrails. Yea, it ever rejoiceth my kidneys. Thou hast brought goodness to those who yearn for truth and has smitten the gainsayer, yea, oft hast though smitten them. Keepeth up thine marvelous wonders and work, lest evil rule the people and they perish in the dung of horses and mules most foul. 

Thinketh thou not, however, that those so given to the KJV will harken to thine admonishments, for yet are they blinded by proof texting from days gone by and are a stubborn nation, though somewhat holy and special in their own eyes. Verily, would they utter, if the KJV shall be well enough for the disciples, yea, shall it be great enough for mineself. Yet, listen not to them, nor be ye like them lest you err and be as those that go down into the pit. Thou hast done well to reveal these things to babes... :) I suppose I could have said "you done good" but that would be too boring. 

I wish I could find the source and information I had on the Moses account of the burning bush one theologian came to suspect. The great "I am who I am" statement by God can also be viewed not as a huge theological statement upon which entire theologies are able to be built, but rather a simple idiom that means "it's really none of your business". I love that. 


Pray 'n pay: "Strongly encourage"?? That's all they ever did, and still do, is badger the sheep about giving THEM more filthy lucre, especially at THEIR feasts. Time has always been short, according to the money-grabbing "ministers".



A Heretics Guide: Are you still using your trusty old KJV? How about your minister? The latest Southern Exposure column asks why most of us are still hung up on a 400 year old translation...

419,765 reasons to host a FOT: As many readers return from their annual Festival trip, many will be adjusting their budgets after the seasonal spend-up. How much is a church conference worth to the local area holding it? The nice folk at the Anchorage Convention Visitors Bureau have done the sums.

SEPT. 29-OCT. 7 United Church of God Feast of Tabernacles Conference, 500 delegates at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel. Estimated economic impact: $419,765. 

In fact, UCG's festival was the biggest projected money spinner of any convention hosted in Anchorage over the same period. In comparison the 100 delegates to National Renewable Energy Laboratory Wide-Diesel 2004 (Sep. 29-30) were expected to inject a mere $83,953 into the local economy.

Meanwhile in Bend, Oregon, the UCG bucks were held in special esteem:

Central Oregon's peak tourism seasons come in the months of June, July and August, but heading into the fall, the region's towns historically empty out as vacationers head back to work and kids go back to school. The number of visitors picks up again when the snow falls, and skiers come to town, but visitor numbers drop once again when spring comes... This month, the fairgrounds will host two returning group events, the United Church of God and the Northwest Cutting Horse Association.

"I take anybody who has money," Despotopulos said of how he draws groups in the off-season. (The Bend Bulletin) 

Coughing up for Spanky: In our last issue we included a brief quote from the Presiding Evangelist of the Living Church of God about the "7000 year plan". Here is a fuller quote.

Our Father [we assume he doesn't mean the guy with the pitchfork] is truly positioning us for a powerful effort over the next few years. In our Council of Elders phone meeting a few days ago, all of us agreed that we felt certain about God’s 7,000-year Plan—and that the first 6,000 years are almost up! So, as I have explained in recent weeks, some really big things will undoubtedly start happening within the very next few years. We need to have a genuine sense of urgency about this—and impart this to the brethren...

Time is short brethren! 1972 is just around the corner. The 19 year time-cycle is almost up and... uh, hang on. Who'd have thought Pavlovian conditioning would last this long. Ring a little bell and the dog salivates; screech and holler about BIG prophetic events occurring sometime soon and...

Also, I hope all of you [ministers] will strongly encourage your people to give generously during this Holy Day period. We need extra funds to get the Work moving at this time. There is so much to do and time is short. So let all of us fervently pray that God will bless these offerings in a special way.

Fervently pray 'n pay, that's the way!

Reinventing Paul - COG style: Say what you like about David Hulme, the man certainly knows how to reel in a shoal of scholars. The former World Tomorrow presenter and dumped UCG president is preparing a second TV special for his current corporation, COG-AIC, with several writers and academics graciously granting interviews to the COG leader. They include John Gager, Paula Fredrikson, Ben Witherington III and James Tabor. 

The program is to be called Meeting the Real Paul, and will portray the apostle to the Gentiles as adhering to Old Testament orthodoxy and upholding the Torah, not the radical visionary that helped forge a new religion.

Aglow FOT: While the WCG seems embarrassed to call its seasonal conferences by the name "Feast of Tabernacles", Christians in other traditions seem unconcerned about legalistic bugbears. This item is condensed from the Starkville Daily News, September 28.

Celebrating tabernacles: The Feast of the Lord's Return

In the Old Testament, God gave instructions for His people to keep His seven Feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First fruits, Weeks (Pentecost), Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles.

"As Christians, we believe that the Feasts of the Lord hold significance for us as Jesus fulfilled some of the Feasts when He came and will complete the fulfillment upon His return," said Rita Christopher of Starkville Lighthouse Aglow. "The season of the Feast of Tabernacles is upon us (September 29 - October 5) and to commemorate this season with Christians and Jews around the world, on October 1 at 7 p.m., the Lighthouse Aglow organization will host a 7-hour worship Feast to honor the God of the Feast," she said.

"Each day of Tabernacles will be represented with one hour worship.

"Christopher explained that the Feast of Tabernacles is a celebration to mark when God delivered His people out of bondage (the Jews out of Egypt-slavery, Christians out of sin-slavery) and into His promised land for each of us. As believers upon His Christ, the season is a Feast of joy to celebrate the unity of the Body, and the promised last day harvest of souls into His Kingdom and a Feast to bless Israel.

The community is invited to participate as part of the worshiping congregation. Starkville Lighthouse Aglow is a local chapter of Aglow International, a global Christian ministry.

Maybe Rita could drop by Pasadena and counsel Joe and Mike.

Boyne on the election: It's not just Americans who have an opinion about the upcoming US elections. Ian Boyne, of the CGI in Jamaica, has offered his views in a regular column in The Jamaica Gleaner, under the title Religion and the US. Ian has also filed a feast report for AW:

I am writing from the Ocho Rios Feast site of the Church of God, International, after just returning to my apartment after last Great Day services. It is usually a cliché to say "Best ever Feast!" but it would be hard to convince the record 271 persons who turned up for Feast of Tabernacles services that they should drop it!

The Jamaican CGI Feast site had about 15 visitors from the US, so the overwhelming numbers of Feast attendees represent the fruits of the work of the local CGI. Messages focused on resisting "Babylon's influence" , with an emphasis on avoiding the trappings of materialism. A highlight of the CGI Feast was the baptism of 11 persons on the last Great Day. The CGI had the largest feast site of all the COG groups in Jamaica. The UCG and LCG also had feast sites here.

Duane Nichol from the CGI USA visited for the first part of the Feast. Among CGI visitors from overseas were independent groups from Chicago and Nashville Among those who were baptized is a former deacon of the COG 7th Day and his wife, as well as former Seventh Day Adventists. They had attended a campaign held in February which challenged Sabbatarians who don't keep the Holy days to rethink their position.

Armstrongism Ancient & Modern: AW researcher Dateline Pasadena has compiled a bibliography of Armstrongism. He calls it a "collectors list", and has included many titles that have been long forgotten. The list includes descriptions of each book.

Cuddling up to Destiny cult: Last month AW noted with deep concern the endorsement of a New Zealand fringe sect, Destiny Church, by WCG minister Dennis Richards. Since that item appeared, a leading New Zealand current affairs program (Sunday on TV1) has profiled the group. Two highly credible Christian commentators concurred with our assessment, one describing it as a cult, another as an emerging mind-control cult. Destiny guru Brian Tamaki has claimed (in a "prophecy" to followers) that they will rule the country in less than four years. In the divine chain of command Tamaki claims number 3 place (under God and then Christ): sound familiar? An endorsement of this group's activities in New Zealand is a bit like having Joe Tkach throw his support behind one of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam initiatives in the US. What was Dennis thinking? 

Seamus returns: For those who don't know, "Seamus" is the non-de-plume used by AW's very own esteemed poet-laureate. In fact his poetry featured in the very first issue of Ambassador Watch, and we've been blessed a number of times since to publish his sophisticated literary creations. After a break (perhaps spent communing with The Muse in a Himalayan cave?) Seamus returns with four new works.

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.

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

This website is independent from, and in no way affiliated with, the Worldwide Church of God or any derivative sect.

email MD: editor@ambassadorwatch.co.nz email Dateline Pasadena: dp@ambassadorwatch.co.nz 


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