February 2005 - Issue 58

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

email AW at editor@ambassadorwatch.co.nz 

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"Promises were made... Promises that you have not kept! Why? Why did you lie..."

A Day of Hell: From a special correspondent.

Friday was a day of hell on campus. It was the last day of employment for many. Another round follows shortly. There was a lot of anger permeating the atmosphere. It was also one of great sadness and lives thrown by the wayside with little concern from HQ. It is almost creepy being around there. It is not a healthy atmosphere right now.

The following letter to Tkach and Schnippert provides further evidence of the level of betrayal felt by those who have been shafted by the empty promises.

Dear Mr. Tkach and Mr. Schnippert

Today I came to visit my step-dad who works for the church. He is going to be laid off soon in your next round of lay-off's. What once was a lively and energetic place to be around now seems dead and lifeless. The campus feels like a cemetery even though new owners are all over the place. My father and many I saw seem to be in shell shock. They are not in shock from knowing their jobs are coming to an end, they are in shock at the complete disregard that the Church has for it's employees and members. I remember years ago when my step-dad came home one evening and told how the administration said they would take care of the employees that stayed to end of the sale process. After decades of loyalty with no raises or bonuses, he thought that he and the rest of his fellow workers would be compensated for what they did and had sacrificed for.

Promises were made by you and Bernie Schnippert. Promises that you have not kept! Why? Why did you lie to my step-dad and to the rest of the employees? Do you feel you have done your Christian duty to these people? My step-dad is of an age that it will now be difficult to get a job. He can't even fall back on your empty promises. While he sacrificed to raise us in Pasadena he never made the money that you make. While you received raises and bonuses each year he and the rest of his fellow workers did not. It makes me sad to see this while at the same time you and Bernie Schnippert have set yourselves up financially so that you and your families will never have to worry about money. I know that because of your actions I will NEVER grace the door of a WCG church again! I am no longer proud to be a part of the WCG. You have ruined our family and countless others by your actions. May God have mercy upon you!



Gene Scott goes to his reward: Pasadena evangelist Dr. Gene Scott has died. Scott, a colorful identity in the fundamentalist marketplace, once famously spoke out in favor of Herb Armstrong at the time of the receivership crisis - presumably lest the Attorney General came snooping around his own money-making operation. More in the mailbag below...

UCG member's personal ministry: American presidents have been an interesting lot. Among the giants of the oval office was Thomas Jefferson, who published a "condensed" New Testament long before the nice folks at Reader's Digest took the scissors to their first novel.

Enter Judd W. Patton, "a member of the United Church of God" according to a feature article on Beliefnet. Judd has been mailing complimentary copies of The Jefferson Bible to members of Congress: 753 copies since 1997.

“To me, it’s Jefferson’s effort to show the values upon which our nation was founded,” Patton said, values that include a relationship to the “Ten Commandments, our neighbor, and God.” (Beliefnet)

You can read about Judd's crusade on Beliefnet. And you can get your own copy of Judd's Jefferson Bible edition by following this link.

Greg is at it again: WCG's Greg Albrecht is writing yet another book. Having freed us all from Bad News Religion, Greg is going to set us all straight on the true meaning of the book of Revelation. 

Later this year, God willing by September, I will have a new book available titled, The Lost Message of Revelation. It will address many of the myths and misunderstandings that have come from this critically important book of the Bible.

Enlightenment in Oz: The Australian UCG has a much deserved reputation, bless them, for refusing to be steamrollered by the brethren in Cincinnati. That doesn't mean, however, that the more extreme recidivists among them are happy chappies. These comments from an Aussie member appeared this week.

We find it OFFENSIVE that a tiny leftist minority can seize control and go around continually condemning the GN magazine because of Biblically sound and gracious articles on circumcision, Islamic terrorism etc, whilst their close buddies are permitted to spread heresies or simply REFUSE to preach on most of the doctrines of the UCG while being paid. Talk about double standards - one toward those of us that are faithful to the Truths that came via HWA and another toward the tiny aggressive minority constantly attacking America, the CEO, the GN, many booklets, US & Britain in prophecy etc, etc and the doctrines we have grown to love... There will be no blessings here until the COE take control of the Church in
Australia. We can see no other option... To say that we are sick to death of the innuendos, the constant attacks upon doctrines such as church eras, place of safety, ministerial ranks etc is an understatement.

Wouldn't this guy be happier among the Meredith types, or hunkering down with Pack or Flurry?

More from M.T. Hall: Three Dogs Speak, A Dissertation, Sweet Judas Priest.

Long time coming: It's taken a while for our team of experts to come up with a winner in the Dave Pack photo caption contest, but we hope to have it for you in the next upload. There were heaps of entries, from which our judges selected just twelve finalists before awarding the top three places. Thanks for your patience.

Weekly Mailbag

Tangled Robinson? I have known about the existence of David Robinson's book "The Tangled Web" since it was published but only now have I read it, thanks to Mike Minton. I specifically avoided it for years, thinking it was merely another hyperbolic diatribe, but found it to be as close as one can get to a nostalgic tour of the WCG back in the Seventies. Though I cannot vouch for some of the factual details of the book, Robinson certainly captured the dark atmosphere of the WCG at that time.

David Robinson clearly seeks to seize the moral high ground in his book. But the book, alas, is really a political document. It is clear that Robinson wants to tell us all about HWA but characterizes GTA as "maturing" in a couple of places. If memory serves me correctly, David Robinson left the WCG to become a minister in GTA's offshoot. His book seems to fit into that strategic approach. Robinson's almost immediate alignment with GTA does lend credibility to his account of HWA. If Robinson were just manufacturing gross accusations out of whole cloth, I doubt that he would have been warmly received by GTA.

Though Robinson's claims the moral, and supposedly Christian, high ground, I think it is important for readers to understand that none of the principals involved in this tawdry historical account would I consider to be Christian. This is a secular account of secular people playing mean politics in a pseudo-Christian organization. I am now a Christian and I have been around and related to people who are Christian. The contrast between genuine Christians and these people is stark. Since my association with the WCG started when I was seventeen, I really did not know what Christians were like. My benchmarks were various WCG ministers and leaders I had contact with in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. Then empirical evidence would have led me to believe, sadly, that having a blatantly snobbish, self-aggrandizing attitude was the work of the Holy Spirit as manifested in the lives of the best of the WCG ministry. At that time, in my indoctrinated state of mind, I would have even thought of this type of personal dysfunction to be "character" or "leadership."

I spoke with David Robinson in Big Sandy when he was in charge of Transportation back in the Seventies -- once in his office and once in Faculty Dining at Ambassador College. I do not want to relate the detailed contents of the conversation or his attitude. But let me say, in general, that I found none of the warmth and kindness I have now come to associate with the action of the Holy Spirit in people's lives. Instead I found a WCG ministry cliche. In the last analysis, he was just like so many of the other men and women sitting around tables in Faculty Dining at Big Sandy -- he had a slightly different set of opinions -- but it was all the same spirit. I have no doubt that his claim to the moral high ground is compromised.


A present-day WCG member pleads with Joe: I was disappointed to see the 'Tangled Web' was not available anymore. I only was able to download the first part of it. I started in the WCG in 1989, so I missed the Armstrong years. What struck me was the sacrifice members made to be part of the WCG. I had heard the 'old-timers' talk when I first started attending, but reading the 'Tangled Web' drove home that realization about the sacrifices average citizens made to be part of the WCG.

In my opinion, the greatest sin HWA and other church leaders committed is how they treated these great sacrifices. How could any "Apostle of God" possibly squander these sacrifices on such vain and foolish things like a jet aircraft? How could any so-called 'man of God' take money ear-marked for the widows and orphans and the poor and spend it on luxuries for themselves? On Judgment Day, I would hate to be standing anywhere near these leaders when God calls them to account for the conduct.

Likewise, I am distressed by the way Joe Tkach and the modern WCG leadership is handling the sale of the property in Pasadena. God does not look at treasures the way man does. Man might look at that campus in Pasadena and declare it valuable because it sold for $50?, $100? million dollars. God considers it valuable because He considers the sacrifices of past generations who made this property possible. And obviously, very many people sacrificed very deeply to build the auditorium and the campus.

Where is the respect for these sacrifices in the modern WCG? Joe Tkach did not create or build the campus or auditorium. Tkach did nothing to create the wealth he was given. He basically received it by accident of his following his father. In so many words - Tkach and the modern WCG got something for nothing. 

If the modern WCG has been given a huge sum of money for this property - then why can't the WCG pay their employees as they promised? Do they think God will ignore this breach of faith? The WCG says they will use the money to fund a retirement account for pastors who stayed with the WCG. If God has been so generous in giving the WCG this valuable asset, then why can't the WCG be generous and give something to ALL retired pastors (even those who might have gone with LCG or UCG)? Is the modern WCG leadership so lacking in trust and faith in God that they are unable to show grace to others even after God showed them grace first?? Lastly, why the shroud of darkness regarding the sales price of the properties? Only wicked men like the darkness - darkness makes it easier to do illegal things. God is the God of light. A TRUE Christian will do their business dealings in the light of day.

As a present day WCG member, I would like to directly appeal to Joe Tkach and warn him. God has blessed you with a treasure of great value which you did nothing to earn. I would be very careful about keeping anything for myself UNTIL you have made sure that ALL others have been taken care of first - even those who are not part of the present WCG. There are some huge debts that need to be repaid. 


Clyde fesses up: My cry for help was definitely a spoof, but also truth. Where is help? Where is truth that we should be getting from the scriptures? As far as I can see it is not coming from any of the splits from WW. All are still hanging on to the old HWA doctrines and teachings that were erroneous then, (i.e. from the word of God.) and still are erroneous. Tithing, the calendar, the first day of unleavened bread, night to be much observed to name just a few. It is not a spoof to want to come in contact with people who seek the truth from God and not a man. Where are they?


Spanky's Sardis: The recent announcement by Charles Bryce of only 3.6% growth in LCG attendance confirms what Bill Lussenheide has warned about based on his excellent analysis of COG membership trends. Bill concluded that the COGs face an impending demographic implosion and death. "Unless the COG ORGS can grow a NET gain of memberships of greater than 7% a year starting immediately, then they are demographically doomed." The 3.6% growth in LCG this past year, of course, is well below this threshold.

Despite the controversy LCG, unlike UCG, still has not released a full demographic profile. This reflects a shameful lack of stewardship by LCG's leadership. The poor growth in LCG is also reminiscent of a church described in Revelation 3:1- 6. "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God..."

Dr. Richard F. Griffiths 

Paganism uplifted! I have seen this on TV, people singing and holding their hands up. I think it is silly and as it is "encouraged", an affectation. It is also pagan as this site shows:

Seems to me some ministers insist people do things in much the same way as he would pick carpeting and interior design. If one feels like lifting their hands for whatever reason, it should be spontaneous, not commanded by
the minister. Ridiculous. Silliness. Embarrassing.

Ron Kelly and the Tithing Police: My ex-husband worked in the Ambassador Press in England from 1965 to 1975 and sometime during that time the edict was introduced that employees did not have to do first tithe. We still did 2nd and 3rd however. 

Hypocrisy triumphant: I guess the hypocrisy of the WCG leadership does not stop. First I think it is amazing that they require their employees to tithe when one of the absolutely cornerstones of their theology is that we are not bound to the Old Testament law which includes tithing. (I guess they are too important to be bound by their own theology). But then second, I am amazed (and appalled) that they think that THEY are one only ones worthy of receiving tithes and offering. So what happens to an employee that gives generously to support Christian causes, but gives to other groups as well as the WCG? Ron Kelly won't have any records of financial contributions to non-WCG groups, so if the employee doesn't give 10% to the WCG - then they are fired? What a crock of used cow feed. Apparently the WCG leadership never read Matt 6:1-4. (paraphrase) "Do not give alms to be seen by men, or you will have no reward from your Father. But when you give alms, let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." What a deal the church is offering. Keep your job in the short-term, but loose your eternal reward in the process. Maybe the leadership in Pasadena should blow the dust off of their Bible and actually start reading it for a change.


Bye bye Gene: Pasadena resident Dr. Gene Scott died on 21 February of a stroke in L.A. He was a vocal supporter of Herb in the church/state legal mess of the late 1980s. Check out the story on NPR.

Gene Scott had a legitimate doctorate from Stanford versus Herb's less impressive academic legacy. Gene Scott was very "Herbert" in his brow-beating ability to control his true believers into sending money and wear polyester suits decades after they went from fashion. Unlike Herb, he was proud of what he was and very in your face about it - send in your money and I spend it on horses and girls, where Herb spent it on the arts and secret trips to Swedish clinics. Scott was pure NASCAR where Herb was a jet set wannabe. Had Herb been a bit more secure and self confident, I think he would have been Gene Scott's twin.

How did Joe Senior snatch the booty? My wife and I recently “exited” one of the splinter groups, and I have been delving into various aspects of the past history of WCG and it’s offshoots... I have a question to which I have not been able to find the answer, and I hope you will be able to clarify. From what I can understand, HWA put all the church assets into his private name. Is this correct? If so, how did the Tkachs “inherit” the assets?


AW: Herb formed a "corporate sole", which isn't quite the same thing as taking it into private ownership. Apparently the Catholic hierarchy use this same legal expedient to ensure the ecclesiastical bigwigs keep their paws on the tiller (I can already sense a letter from Jared coming in response to that remark). AW understands that WCG is no longer a "corporate sole" - though you'd never know it looking at the way it's still run...



The Tithing Gestapo: Remember Ron Kelly burbling on about the New Covenant, Grace and the evils of legalism on Called to be Free? The following report conveys the sense of outrage and betrayal felt by many employees:

WCG is in the process of reviewing all the tithing records of employees... one would think that a so called 'Christian' organization would treat employees fairly, but has that EVER been the case with WCG?

Our illustrious spin doctor of financial affairs Ron Kelly is now calling in various employees that have not been tithing. WCG is in the process of reviewing all the tithing records of employees. They now are going to be laying those people off. Kelly told one employee recently that tithing is a condition of employment of the church. When confronted with the fact that the church no longer teaches tithing as a requirement Kelly said that tithing is still required for employees. Those people not tithing will be laid off by the church along with those being terminated from landscape, security, custodial, legal and telecom. They are also pushing the point that any employee that is terminated after March 31st will NOT get any special severance deals. There seems nothing equitable about how employees are treated, but is all at the whim of the Board. It all seems to depend on who you are, what you do, and who you know. Every employee being terminated in the next month and half will have a severance package written especially for them. Nothing will be done across the board equally. The church knows that no one can do any thing about it: in CA. churches are exempt from standard practices of treatment of employees. Of course one would think that a so called 'Christian' organization would treat employees fairly, but has that EVER been the case with WCG? The inescapable conclusion is that the Worldwide Church of God simply does not care!



Prime Minister Lewis? William Lewis is God's anointed Prime Minister, with offices in Burleson, Texas. Willie, a 1985 graduate of Ambassador College, is ably assisted by his brother, "President" Roderick Lewis. The Lewis lads call their sect Church of God Proclaiming the Kingdom (not to be confused with Ron Weinland's Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God). Although we've never heard of it till now, COGPTK has apparently been around since late 2000.

And yes, the Work is surging ahead! They're publishing a magazine called Proclamation! and, we're sure you'll be pleased to know that "Church of God Proclaiming the Kingdom gladly accepts donations." Thanks to DP for information on this splinter.

Guy Swenson

Faith Networks: Guy Swenson advises that a new magazine, Faith Networks, has been launched: A number of us are cooperating on a newsletter supporting the building of healthy congregations, evangelism and sound doctrine. It is an effort supported by a variety of individuals, congregations and ministries, edited by Jim O'Brien. We posted the first issue today on www.NTEvangelism.org ... writers in the first issue include Garry Cain, Allie Dart, Ron Dart, Pam Dewey, Brian Drawbaugh, Dave Havir, Bill Jacobs, Jeff Osborn, Guy Swenson and Wendy Pack. The Cincinnati Church of God congregation pastored by Jim O'Brien is handling the printing and mailing. One feature of the publication is that articles go through a peer review team.

The initial mailing list includes about 75 congregations. Each month a PDF copy of the publication will be available on the www.NTEvangelism.org Web site... If you want to receive the printed color copy, send your name, physical address and email to FN@NTEvangelism.org and we will put you on the list.

This is a professional looking periodical, definitely worth a look, and the first issue sets a high standard. But readers with dial-up connections may need to be patient, this is also a slow download.



Going, going, gone: Mike Minton's personal website has been swamped by people eager to download Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web. So much so that netidentity's "bandwidth police" have pulled the plug for the remainder of the month. Mike writes:

...my bandwidth has been wiped out on my server because of these downloads and my website won't be up until March 1; thus the TW links are not available any longer. This response certainly exceeded my expectations.

Clap 'n wave: A throwaway line on AW about the current WCG practice of "clap and wave" has led to some vigorous debate on one of the news-boards. One correspondent cited 5 Bible verses to prove that "lifting hands is Biblical" (Psalm 28:2, Psalm 63:4, Psalm 134:2, Lamentations 3:41 and 1 Tim. 2:8). In response another correspondent pointed out that "none of these verses mention lifting hands while singing, which is what we were discussing."

Another writer made the following points: Unfortunately I have seen people judged in this area and quite frankly have witnessed some pretty bad behavior on the part of WCG members and especially ministers on trying to introduce this to the praise part of services.

I admit it got my back up to see such a small issue be made a standard of righteous by a misguided few. Trouble was the minister wanted it in the service (because of what was modeled at the ministerial conference) and so they didn't get the correction to their attitude that was needed.

Worship instruction at conferences was reported by one District Super in a sermon and there was a marked change in worship in some areas. One year the ministers at the conference are not raising their hands and etc. and the next year it is what they are all doing. I found that just plain amusing ... follow the leader.

It reminded me of that farce of "an option" they offered back in the beginning of the changes to the Lord's Supper. They offered communion to those WCG ministers (once again it was at conferences) who would like to take it but it was voluntary. Couldn't you just see it, all the top ministers (their bosses) taking it and setting "the example". Just think of the pressure to conform that was placed on these men. 

Weekly Mailbag

Stan the Man: One of your readers writes: If someone who either has the inclination and the knowledge (or the ability to find answers) wants to write a good book telling everyone how Herb's quaint religion was hijacked by Stan and how and why Stan did it, that book would be well worth reading.

Maybe such a book can NOT be written because maybe it’s simply not true. People take it for granted as Gospel truth that Stan hijacked the WCG, but I see evidence to the contrary. Sure, Stan lived well off the church. Sure, Stan had a lot of power. Sure, Stan was HWA’s right-hand man for years.

But did Stan hijack the WCG? If he did, how is it that he ended up being bounced out on his ear like everyone else who had the misfortune of coming into close contact with HWA? The fact that the organization known as WCG did many, many evil things is uncontested. But the one running the show till the day he died was HWA. Stan was/is just a convenient one to blame by those who think they were entitled to take over when HWA died. They can’t say, “HWA made the biggest mistake of his life by not choosing me as his successor.”

Also, they cannot say, “WCG was a top-down organization, therefore, any evil done by WCG should be attributed to its leader, HWA.”

Such statements would undermine their teaching that HWA was God’s apostle, the end-time Elijiah, the watchman, etc. and could never make a major mistake. So it is easier to blame Stan. Blaming Stan started with Ted in 1978. Ted was then emulated by so many others who didn’t get the office they felt was their due in 1986: Meredith, McNair, Aaron Dean, LaRavia, Hulme, etc. etc. Blaming Stan is a lot easier than saying, “HWA was an evil man who did many bad things.”

[On another matter] Clyde needs a lot of help because he must be nuts [see previous mailbag]. As a close friend of both Ray Wooten and Dave Havir, I know that neither one has ever claimed to be or implied that he is “the one,” or “the watchman,” or “the only one.” Wooten and Havir point anyone who will listen to Jesus, our only Savior. I can’t speak for all the names in Clyde’s list, but I can tell you that Wooten and Havir warn people to run (not walk) away from any man who makes such evil claims.

Wes White

Salvaging Armstrongism?  A common theme of many AW correspondents is that HWA's teachings were erroneous. However, no-one sets out which. The oppressive culture and governance he imposed (allowed) in WCG was upside-down and clearly unChristian and still affects former members many years later - and still perpetuated in some of WCGs off-spins.

Personally I know much of what he said is open to query, and I have written several articles (www.cgom.org) which are incompatible with his teachings. (Though he not infrequently changed horses!)

Was he wrong on such basics as 'no immortal soul'? How about: salvation only through Jesus Christ, the need for commitment to Him and endurance, a future resurrection of the people of God, the millennial reign of Jesus, the need for repentance and baptism and laying on of hands, a coming judgment, no trinity. Possibly contentious yet widely accepted outside the COGs: creationism, Israel, pre-existence of Jesus.

Some details of these may have been off-key but they are essentially Biblical. Many ex-WCG still hold these fast, whether in the larger denominations (UCG etc), the independents or alone, still. It was the structure of WCG and the imposed oppressive culture and built-in corruption that turned us off.

James McBride

Everything is rosy after all: [The letter at the top of the last mailbag] just begs for a response. First, the person starts out by calling the WCG a cult which indicates that they are not a member yet they try to give a viewpoint as though they are a member.

I can't speak for all WCG congregations but the one I attend has grown about 40% (about 100 in attendance) over the last 3 years. Most of the congregations I know in this region are also experiencing healthy growth (we were among the first in the country to worship on Sunday to be able to better reach the unchurched). In the last few months over 50% of the congregations nationwide have reported an increase in income. Many congregations now process their donations locally so of course the mail and income being processed by HQ is down.

For the past decade the leaders from HQ have been trying to teach the members that the "work of God" is for each of us to be a light to the world and to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Anyone who attends any of the regional conferences will detect the high level of service and dedication the administrators have for the members and employees. This example of service has inspired and encouraged all of us on a local level to be servants to our community. Anyone who reads the church publications or visits congregations will see examples of this that were virtually non-existent in the Old Covenant days.

Are there WCG congregations that don't have this joy, passion and zeal? I am sure their are. But the dozens of congregations I am in contact with and have visited over the past few years do have hope and vision for the ministry that is happening in the WCG.

Robert James

Spoof? Re Clyde's "cry for help" spoof (in the last mailbag): I'd be very interested in seeing some evidence of Dave Havir's having implied he's "the one, or the watchman, [or] the only one" or of his "cling[ing] to the 18 new truths." The times I've listened to Dave or read his articles he's been at pains to minimize his role. In fact, unless a speaker points people to Jesus -- instead of to any human being or organization -- I have little or no interest in what he or she might have to say. It seems to me that Dave has worked hard to help people get away from the cult of personality or a cultic mindset. If Clyde is indeed seeking help, he might want to start by making sure of his facts -- it might help him avoid uncritical acceptance of other claims.


Kscribe withdraws from spelling bee: Hell, I don't know how I could have missed that error! Actually I was having a bad time that week with the kid. Stress! ... Tom Brooks should be my editor!

On another note, from what you reported on in the WCG inner circle, it seems Joe is kissing off his cult in order the focus on his cut & paste PT ministry. I bet ya a nickel to a doughnut that this is their retirement? Soon after the PT sinks what will they do with the money? This is a sick soap but to watch the Armstrong cults slowly dissolve gives me a sense of relief.


AW: Hey, I loved your movie. However, ahem, please don't take this the wrong way but, well, we, um, took the liberty of fixing up your spelling of "nickle" and "disolve"... No charge!  :)

Herb's trinitarianism revisited: Actually, I'll have to retract that. I was repeating something that other WCG members have told me about Herbert Armstrong's writings in the 1940s, before he'd come up with his new "God Family" theology. But all I've been able to find are quotes like this one (from his article "Was Jesus Dead?" which has a 1955 copyright): "And for three days and three nights the Second Person of the Godhead - EMMANUEL - GOD with us - GOD made human flesh ..."

But by 1955, Herbert Armstrong was using "Second Person" in a sense different from that of historical Christianity, since he never understood the special meaning of "Person" that the word has in Christian theology and anthropology. So I was likely misinformed by those who were (mis)remembering the sort of language shown in the quote above. Sorry about that.

Jared Olar

Paranoia: [Clyde] needs a counselor if he is serious. He needs to be able to verbalize his feelings. Hope you can recommend one that he can communicate effectively with... Paranoia is a characteristic of Armstrongism as you probably well know. So is the unwillingness to reach out to those who are left out in the cold.

Myra McQueen

Harvest Schlock: I came across ... a pro Harvest Church site, with a link to an article supposedly written in 1979 by one of the two operators of the site, "Worldwide Church of God in Prophecy". (I haven't read the prophecy article yet so it might turn out to be junk).

Selwyn Russell

AW: I have a copy of Ken Storey's original 1979 booklet, complete with coffee stain circa 1981 (the coffee stain is the best part of the publication!) ... On second thoughts, maybe "original" isn't the best word to describe Ken's stuff given the name he uses for his site...



Weekly Mailbag

At the heart of the Tkach gulag: Yes, they are starting to lay off people from the cult. The first ones to be hit will be the facilities employees, telecom and security. CIS is also laying off people as they will not be needed at the other place. The only thing that came out was a one paragraph statement from Joe stating that the upper campus had sold. There was no employee meeting as they have done in the past. Also when they sold properties they gave employees a small bonus. No bonus was given this time. They also have really pissed off employees because they have not kept their word...

A few years ago, Bernie and Joe stood in the Student Center and said that they were going to give substantial bonuses to those that stuck it out to the end. They also said that they were going to start putting away 100.00 a week for each employee to make up that bonus. Since well over 5 years has passed since that promise, you would expect that there would be lots of money waiting once a person is laid off. Well, true to WCG's track record they have done nothing of the sort.

Nor have they doubled the severance package like they said they would. If an employee had worked for the church for 15 years they would normally get 15 weeks paid off, but they promised to double that to make it a 30 week severance. Another lie.

Most of those being laid off knew that they would be laid off eventually but stayed on because of all the promises. The Board of the church also said that the present offering of severance will only be in effect for those that are laid off between now and the end of March. Then new rules kick in. There is nothing equitable about anything the church does. There are special circumstances for every person and occasion. The higher up you are the more you get, the lower down you are the more they shit on you.

One individual that works in the Hall of Ad has said that the church is concerned about their public image in the eyes of all the evangelical churches they have prostituted themselves to. So any negative information circulating on AW and other internet sites have them concerned right now. They are afraid that these other churches will see that the tiger has not changed its stripes but is still the disgusting evil organization it has always been.

They will not be moving anything to Glendora till the second quarter of this year. Most likely mid summer. So presently they are leasing back the Hall of Ad from Maranatha and Harvest Rock. Once they move they will move the 25-30 people left, PTM and archives out there. Once they move the Hall of Ad will be demolished to make way for a senior citizens retirement center.

What has really gotten a lot of people upset at the moment is that the Board of the Church mailed out invitations for a Celebration of the sale of the property. The party is March 1st. Note that this date is after the February 25 date that they are laying off a bunch of people. Many say that they are not coming back to celebrate losing their jobs. Common sense would have told the church to have a party BEFORE people are laid off and have it as a Thank You party for all the hard work people had done in keeping the property in good condition so they could make money on the sale. Talk about being insensitive!

They are completely out of touch with the employees, even to those that still support them. No one seems to care about anything anymore... Mail has dropped dramatically... as has income. Even though spin doctor Kelly always paints a rosy picture each month that church finances are good.

They church has no vision, noting to look forward to that members can get excited about. There is no worthwhile ministry that unites the people to be a light to the world. When the leaders of the church have no desire to [serve], then that thinking spreads down to the members. No one cares! 

Protestant Rod: My GAWD, what is happening over at the LCG? They're now using a book with protestant hymns in it? What can they be thinking? I can see why some would rush to the Pack with this sort of heinous behavior going on right under our noses. Some of those hymns were written by John Newton for crying out loud. He repented of the slave trading he was involved with and became a devout follower of Jesus. Oh, but wait; he didn't worship on the right day? Then all his efforts to praise his saviour are destined for the lake of fire, along with his hideously sinful lifestyle of refraining from further slaving, and instead trying to love his neighbors.

I bet there are some tunes in that hymnal written by Isaac Watts too. No Church of God should stand for that. Watts didn't keep the Passover correctly so how could any song of praise carry any credibility? He also made the mistake of not employing the slave trade and, instead, served his fellow man with songs of glory.

And you say the Wesley brothers are in there too? SACRILEGE! No self-respecting Christian should have to sing of grace and love unless it's written by proper Sabbath- keepers with no musical training. Those guys founded a church that kept Sunday!! Don't you people get it?? They're wicked, wicked, wicked!! Does evil know no bounds?

Thank the LAWD for pastors who can stand up to this without mincing words. God can only receive hymns that are played on the Dwight Armstrong wavelength, even though he stole most of the melodies that go along with them. Get that Protestant garbage OUT of our sacred temples (well, except for the half dozen songs at the back that HWA saw fit to leave in). 

Next on the agenda; are LCG members using shoe laces made out of non-kosher material? Keep your eyes on the African elder who's out to clean things up.

Colin W

Stoned on Dave? ...a recent find: http://restorationtimes.blogspot.com/ The site tag: "Bible prophecy, Christian living, church news, Herbert Armstrong" From what I skimmed, the author is (in my opinion) certifiable -- "Planet X" nonsense with HWA. Can't go wrong with that combination. He posts something from some other website that reads (put your coffee down -- you don't want to spill it!)

In a KRONOS Journal before his death, in only a single article with perhaps a colleague's follow-up commentary, Dr. Velikovsky theorized that at one time in the past, around the time of Moses and the Exodus, there was a "second sun" in our sky, a "night sun" which was dimmer than our "ordinary sun"; and since it was stationary above the North Pole, it was visible day and night only by those in the current Northern Hemisphere.

All I can say is, "Damn, sometimes I wish I smoked pot!" I've listened to Pack a little drunk before -- can't imagine what all this nonsense would be like stoned!


2005? As Gomer Pyle would say: "Shame, shame, shame!" on both David Pack and Ernest Owino for fighting about make-up! Great! That's just fine! Homosexuality is being legalized, Terrorists are killing thousands of innocent people, little children molested and murdered every day and those great ministers of god (the god of this world), are still worried about make-up on women! Hello you guys! It's 2005! At least with all those splinter groups who still preach Armstrongism still fighting among themselves they will have a hard time growing. Armstrongism is just like communism, they are both DEAD! 

David W. Berryman

Slogan: My daughter’s Girl Scout troop meets at a Baptist Church. I noticed the church’s slogan is “Build them up, send them out”. Reflecting upon the slogan and my Worldwide Church of God (fraud) experience, I suggest Herbert W. Armstrong’s church slogan should have been: “Beat them down, take their money”.

Richard A. Dahms

A cry for help: Somebody Please Help Me: I have been a member of God’s church for almost 30 years. I had all the answers at one time. I knew, and I knew that I knew that I was in God’s church. Now I am not so convinced. I have heard so many men claim that they are the one, or the watchman, and the only one. I have heard this from Weinland, from Pack, from Flurry, from Meredith, and I have heard it implied from United, Wooten, Havir, Coulter, and others. I don’t know where to turn. I don’t want to go through the tribulation, and I don’t know anybody who wants to go through that. So whom do I follow? Who has the message that will save me?

Christ said to look at the fruits. So I looked at what fruits that come from these men, and I see the same message coming from them that came from HWA. They keep the same holy days, they all use the Jewish calendar, they teach tithing, or they will accept tithes that they hope their members will give, (they sure don’t teach against it). They all cling to the 18 new truths, there is not much difference at all. The doctrines are virtually the same old doctrines.

Which is the right church? Which man is the true watchman? There must be someone out there who is smarter than I am. Who will help me? Please help me. I am scared of the tribulation. I want to escape that. Which one should I be in to escape? Which one does Christ set as the ONE? I am pleading for help. Please.


AW: Assuming you're serious, it seems to me you're going through your own personal tribulation right now. Repeat after me: "these guys are all idiots. I will think for myself".

The Holladay apology: (1) Pres. Holladay writes: "As an organization we've helped many thousands, but sometimes individuals have been hurt." This mix of active and passive constructions seems contrived -- far better to use a more euphonious (and accurate!) parallel construction: "we've helped . . . we've hurt."

As written, "we" are claiming credit for helping many thousands, but "we" are certainly not accepting responsibility for hurting anyone, even if it's only a few "individuals." A more honest admission would have earned Roy some credibility. Something like: "As an organization, we hope we've helped many more than we've hurt -- we must acknowledge we have done both."


(2) I knew Roy in his San Antonio Pastoring days. His apology is a good way to start the Lenten Season. We wish him a Happy Easter, too.


(3) Roy Holladay writes: "We must always—personally and corporately—take responsibility for our errors."

What a relief. Does that mean [a certain] regional pastor ... is going to take responsibility for facilitating a stalker for the last seven years? Is [a certain elder] going to take responsibility for his many fondling expeditions? Is the head of ministerial services going to take responsibility for [the less than candid report he gave] about what went on in WV? Are the whole lot of you going to take responsibility for lying about how the church was to be run? Are you all going to take responsibility for fracturing at least 40 congregations?

Thanks, Roy, I feel so much better now that you have apologized.

Kscribe's movie: Interesting! I didn't have time to watch all of this clip, but thought that you might want to pass along a little advice. When someone goes to this extent to criticize another, they open themselves up to even more criticism. They need to go over their work with a fine-toothed comb. Before they promote this clip much more, they need to proof their inserted comments. For example, a little over 4.5 minutes into the clip, the plural for church is churches, not churchs. In any case, it is creative, but with a few omissions would actually be quite a tribute to Mr. Armstrong. Of course, I've only viewed about half of the clip. Thanks for the heads-up, I don't know that I would have seen it otherwise. 

Tom Brooks 

Tangled Web: Gavin and Mike, thanks for posting the links to "The Tangled Web" - I downloaded and read the entire book. I had only read bits of it before. The problem with this book is that it is not in keeping with the mindset of someone who has peeked behind the curtain. The book mocks Raymond McNair, but Raymond was really a nice guy who was brainwashed and totally out of his depth. But he was a nice guy. Ron Dart on the other hand was [something else]. While there are many hints of sexual wrongdoing, there is no proof. Everything is hearsay. Everything depends upon something that someone else saw or said. Mixed in with all of this is a lot of religious rot.

The book does try to center on the career of Stan R but it does not do it with the eye of a reporter (I liked the bit where Stan said that of the author - because that was true. This guy could not write.) It is a book of mush. It was okay for 1973 and the era of John Mitchell and the first era of breakaways, but not for insiders several years later when everyone should have been awake.

What I don't understand is this: with all of the words written why hasn't anyone has dug up the real dirt for a secular book about the money? Forget the sex. Let's hear about the money because with it comes power and sex. Who was Stan? There are bits of his life revealed in this book, but not much.

I liked Orlin Grabbe's "Memories" article, but that has a lot of dark hints without solid documentation to back it up. Obviously Herb was out of his depth and Stan and his men took over during a long period of association. Where is that book? A Bob Woodward type of book that will lay out the facts and name the names, dates and places and document the facts.

The facts are out there somewhere. I know that the WCG was full of half-witted idiots, but there were some sharp operators like Stan in there as well.

If someone who either has the inclination and the knowledge (or the ability to find answers) wants to write a good book telling everyone how Herb's quaint religion was hijacked by Stan and how and why Stan did it, that book would be well worth reading. We don't need scriptures or religion, we have all had enough of that. We would like to read the facts and at least have the satisfaction of knowing what really happened and how come there is no class action over the total winding up of the church, when it is obvious that many (Flurry, et al) still believe in its doctrines. How was that winding up possible without so much as a peep? I can't think of any other church where this has happened.

However, back to the book. I would love to read a secular and well documented account of who Stan was and what Stan's real agenda was all about. 

AW: Yeah, I'd love to see an investigative reporter do that too, but sadly the trail is cold... positively frozen in parts. As for the Robinson book being mush, I have to disagree. A writer can only write out of their own experience, and David Robinson did just that. Granted, he was no journalist, but he was the only WCG minister of his time to have the guts to tell what he knew (seen through his own understanding of the Bible and the opposing pulls of loyalty and friendship). For legal reasons Robinson couldn't come right out and say everything he might like to have said, so he asked questions and dropped broad hints. Gainsayers notwithstanding, the evidence all lines up in the same direction. I'm not sure what "proof" you'd accept... hidden video cameras weren't around in the 1930s.

PCG cans booklet: According to the PCG literature ordering page the booklet on the doctrinal changes in the WCG is no longer offered by The Great Profit...

Wonder whether it was the favorable settlement with the WCG over copyright issues that made Gerald think again about offering this booklet... And he is apparently also running out of funds, since many booklets are announced to be "out of stock"...

Floored: Wow...I am just floored and repentant upon belief. I just read HWA Critic's account of Dave Pack and it IS the I Yi Yi prophecy recently translated come true! I am in awe of how this has come about and the timing is incredible. John the Baptist even foresaw Dave Pack , who he calls the "King of the North, just south of the Sea called Eiree" etc, "the Ultimate Jeremiah." And right out of Mr. Packs mouth comes the VERY SAME words spoken 2000 years ago saying that he would say that. I am just in awe of these prophecies. 

I will work harder. Time is short....oh sorry, that slipped out.....I don't mean time...time is short, I just mean I must have been called to this for such a time as this...well, no, that doesn't sound right either...What I mean is I am the Ultimate Translator, er...no, that sounds weird. Well at any rate, no one ordained me a translator, I was doing the work of the translator already and now I are one...hey, wait, this stuff is rubbing off!!!!!!!. I'll go see my counselor and get back to you soon.

M.T Hall 

AW: Professor Hall has kindly provided AW with the latest scroll translation, and it'll be featured next week :)

The Triune Herb: Ernest Owino is so concerned that the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong have been "twisted, taken out of context, downplayed or simply abandoned." He should be VERY worried about that. For example, he may not realize that virtually all the purported heirs of Herbert Armstrong have abandoned one of his original teachings -- the Trinity. Mr. Owino may not know that in the early days of Herbert Armstrong's ministry, he would refer to Jesus in his
writings as "the Second Person" of the Trinity. But now, alas, almost all the Armstrongist successor organizations have lost that original element of his teachings -- even Dave Pack! ;-) 

Jared Olar

AW: Jared, I'd be fascinated if you could provide a reference for this... a particular quote.

Special note to the correspondent identifying himself as "John Trechak": (1) This pen name is not acceptable for publication in AW's mailbag. John was a remarkable individual to whom many of us owe a great deal, and AW will not publish pseudonymous material purporting to come from him. (2) While criticism and scrutiny of COG leaders is both legitimate and necessary, immediate family members have a right to be seen as individuals in their own right. Comment and speculation about the children of COG leaders, for example, is not something AW encourages (unless, as adults, they profiteer from that association or hold authority or office in their own right.)


15 February

Gary Scott on RCG: Former COG member Gary Scott has switched to high octane rating with some innovative new articles. Gary (not to be confused with the PSN writer of the same name) is experimenting with a new site (http://xcg.kingary.net/) that promises to be the best entrant in the COG commentary field in a long time. Not only is this guy perceptive, he writes well too! 

Tangled Web on tap: Move quickly and you can download Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web by former minister David Robinson. This is the book that kicked the skids out from under the WCG in 1980 by exposing Herbert Armstrong for exactly what he was. Mike Minton (Painful Truth webmaster) writes:

I have The Tangled Web up on my personal website, and you can download it... Here's the website: www.mike.minton.net. Down at the bottom left corner you will see 3 links: TW 1,2, and 3. RIGHT CLICK on these links, one by one. You will see a box pop up and one selection you should make is: SAVE TARGET AS. Pick a name (if you wish) and a place to save it to. That's it!

I plan on keeping these links active until the end of February.

Thanks Mike! Remember, this book is long out of print and almost impossible to pick up second hand at any price. Our advice: take advantage of the free download while you can.

300 pack for Pack: The LCG has announced the departure of Ernest Owino from the Meredith ministry. Reports indicate that more than 300 of the faithful have gone with him to the loving embrace of Dave Pack. Call us cynical, but we wonder how long the East African brethren will remain under the Pack umbrella before Ernie leads them into schism again?

Herbal "movie": Something else to download is Kscribe's online "movie" dealing with Herb. Here's one bloke who's found a creative way to give his opinion of Herb in a visual way. This file is also hosted over on the Painful Truth.

Norm, Homer and the Port Austin Follies - continued http://homerkizer.org/02-11-05C.html 


Layoffs begin: Comments from a special correspondent.

Pasadena employees still have not had an employee meeting where the sale of the campus has been discussed. Everyone is in limbo... The work atmosphere in Pasadena is pretty sad. No one seems to care any more.

Pasadena has started to lay off employees from the Facilities department. Those scheduled to be laid off are from the landscape, custodial, telecom, maintenance and security departments. CIS is also laying off people.

Pasadena employees still have not had an employee meeting where the sale of the campus has been discussed. Everyone is in limbo. Nor has there been any articles in the Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Times or the LA Business Journal about the sale of the property. The work atmosphere in Pasadena is pretty sad. No one seems to care any more. It's hard to come to work in a place where the church owns nothing any more including most of the furniture people are working on. Many in the Hall of Ad. sit at their computers playing games all day to occupy their time.

And on a separate matter:

Ralph Helge will be retiring in the next few months and Bernie Schnippert will become the official attorney for the church. Of course he will be traveling at church expense from Bend OR to represent the church.

Joey loses Australia: As most WCG members realize, Pastor Generalissimo Joe's weekly "updates" are usually little more than an amateur cut and paste from those serving in the lower depths of the organization. There have been a number of observers who've suspected that Joe sometimes has very little grasp of the items he includes; now they have written evidence that Joe is "geographically challenged". The latest update contains a report from "Ian P. Hardy in New Zealand".

We hosted a non-denominational hymn-fest on January 30 at the Russell Island Recreation Hall.

Stirring stuff.

We enjoyed great music and meaningful, scriptural words to sing. At one point a talented soloist performed for us some wonderful Christian music and he yodeled!

A charming item, I think you'll agree. In fact, most WCG sermons would surely be improved greatly if the minister yodeled them... a new New Covenant-compliant distinctive to replace the old legalistic stuff maybe? Could it be that the Kiwi franchise is blazing an innovative new trail? Could this be our indigenous adaptation of the mawkish American practice of clap 'n wave "praise", perhaps specifically tailored for outdoor services in the Southern Alps? What a feather in Rex Morgan's cap!

This Hymn-Fest Team travels all over this part of South East Queensland. It is a really wonderful music ministry. I had joined in a couple of times when I lived in Caboolture.

Perhaps one of the folk who regularly scrutinize AW at cult HQ might like to inform The Beloved Leader that East Queensland, Caboolture and Russell Island are all in fact found in Australia. Compassionate brethren may wish to send Joe their old back issues of National Geographic.

Big Dave makes a point: And if you're wondering about the photograph, that's RCG Grand Mullah David Pack. Special thanks to the reader who kindly provided this symbolically revealing portrait. We need a witty and urbane caption to accompany it... entries can be emailed to bigdavepic@ambassadorwatch.co.nz.  

Roy Holladay apologizes: We offer the following excerpt from UCG president Roy Holladay's February 10 member letter without additional comment (when the shock wears off that may change):

In those 10 years since [UCG's founding], with God's help, we have made some great strides. And on occasion, due to human weakness, we have stumbled. As an organization we've helped many thousands, but sometimes individuals have been hurt. We must always—personally and corporately—take responsibility for our errors. Speaking on behalf of the United Church of God, I sincerely extend our apologies to anyone who has been hurt along the way, no matter how inadvertent that hurt may have been. As we look toward the next 10 years, it is certainly our Christian duty to examine those areas, repent, change and then move forward in an improved manner. I am personally confident that we can do this, with God's help...

New Journal released: The latest issue of The Journal (Dec. 31) is on the way to subscribers. A PDF copy of the front and back pages is available online. The print edition features, among other things, a large number of tributes to the late Herman Hoeh, a tsunami article by Dave Havir and some late FOT reports.

Mailbag delay

The next mailbag will appear mid-week. A couple of items have also been held over till them.



An earnest letter: Shock horror! An LCG minister in Africa has apostatized and gone over to the Pack cult. Ernest Owino has been handling the Meredith franchise in East Africa, and late last year was traipsing around Kenya with LCG punka-wallah Douglas Winnail in tow. But Ernie has now had the scales fall from his eyes, and the new flavor of the month is - Dave Pack.

Having served in the ministry of LCG since its inception, I have closely watched many vital doctrines—restored to God’s Church by Herbert W. Armstrong—being twisted, taken out of context, downplayed or simply abandoned. Doctrines that were originally embraced by the brethren. For example, to name several: the understanding of the one true Church and Body of Christ, Mr. Armstrong’s role as the Elijah, Mr. Armstrong’s plain teaching against wearing make-up, and setting dates for Christ’s Return. Some teachings have been modified to “fit in with the modern world,” while others have been brushed aside as inconsequential.

Yep, that ol' liberal Spanky has been messing with God's True Doctrines.

No doubt some will wonder why I decided to join The Restored Church of God. The reason is simple—but hard to accept for many. It is the only organization where the FULL truth is being taught.

You'd better sit down in a comfortable chair, place your head between your knees and take deep breaths, because Ernest is about to document Rod's spiritual depravity.

I now bring to your attention a related example of the spirit of apostasy continuing to engulf LCG. I will not mince words. In late summer 2003, the LCG leader sent an official communication through the “Weekly Update,” directing that the original, purple Bible Hymnal (written under Mr. Armstrong’s direct supervision and used by the Church for decades) should no longer be used, and in its place, the apostate, Protestant hymnal was officially sanctioned for exclusive use. He directed that field ministers no longer permit use of the original hymnal, going on to add that using both hymnals causes confusion. This caused more unhappiness than most know. For instance, a senior employee and Church elder at LCG headquarters was very unhappy with the “enforced” use of the Protestant hymnal, privately stating that it is an apostate product, bound to cause confusion in LCG. Let’s face the facts—even this is a continuation of the apostasy! 

If you can handle it, there's the full and unabridged letter on the Pack website.

My job is to be the ultimate Jeremiah


Waco, Jonestown and the Packatollah: On the same subject, HWA Critic has some pertinent comments to make on Brother Dave at http://hwacritic.tripod.com/content/rcg/title.html. Excerpts...

In his two-part sermon, “Foretold: Watchman to Israel—Messenger to Laodicea!” David Pack takes for himself the titles “Watchman” and “Messenger”... In short, Pack is arguing that he is the Watchman of Ezekiel 33.7 and the Messenger to Laodicea in Revelation 2... Using Armstrong as a model, Pack admits that his elevation to Watchman happened just as HWA “received” his apostleship: people began hinting that he might hold that role, and the idea appealed to him so much that he in essence ordained himself... What this all shows is a gradual shift toward a more traditionally cult-like organization of the RCG. Pack's proclamation that his “office” has long been prophesied bumps the RCG up a notch, and possibly, though hopefully not, closer to Jonestown and Waco proportions.

DP's bookquest: Dateline Pasadena is hunting down more titles dealing with WCG. DP is keen on learning more about:

Armstrongism is confusionism: A workbook (William R McLin)

Is Armstrongism the plain truth? (A family of God Bible-centered booklet) (Adrian Jones)

Armstrongism and the plain truth (W. J. McCormick)

DP's existing bibliography is available here. DP can be reached at dp@ambassadorwatch.co.nz



New links: AW's original columnist has "whistled up" a new article. To view "Sexuality and the Kingdom of God" (essay 28) click across to The Whistler's home page (also see the letter in the mailbag).

Another M.T. Hall contribution, tapping the JtB scrolls, has been translated from the original Aramaic and koine Greek. This is the seventh in the series.

COG7 Conference: The Church of God (Seventh Day) - "Holy Mother Church" to many in the wider COG fold - is holding its General Conference this year in Denver, July 4-9. One notable feature will be a "health fair": some of our church health professionals [will] provide information about your health and safety issues, including nutrition information, glucose checks, cholesterol level, blood pressure check, breast self exam, arthritis information, and more! Details and registration information are available online.

Weekly Mailbag

Whistler on Sex: Thanks for keeping us up to speed on the COGs with your website. It seems like there is never a dull moment when one is trying to keep a finger on the pulse of this motley crew. I'll bet it takes more work than most would imagine.

I've posted a new article on my Whistler website, entitled "Sexuality and the Kingdom of God." It's mainly a condensation of a chapter of a book I just read, The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life We've Only Dreamed Of by John Eldredge. It's been a long time since I've come across anything quite as mind-expanding and inspiring as chapter eight was in this book. I don't think HWA ever had the nerve or the insight to tackle this somewhat racy subject - strange, as we know sex was pretty much always on his mind! Author Eldredge even goes so far as to state that the Kingdom will be on the earth - bully for him!

The Whistler

Ron Dart: (1) His mentor taught him well. Dart may never build an empire, but you can bet he's been on easy street for many a year using the same old "bait and switch" tactics learned from old Herbert.


(2) It seems like it took an awfully long time for Ron Dart to figure out what his friend Garner Ted Armstrong had been doing to/with women for the preceding 30 or 40 years, and to figure out that what he'd been doing was -- ahem! -- not exactly the kind of thing that qualifies one for Christian ministry. Would you listen to a teacher of religion and morality who apparently had that much difficulty seeing something so obvious? But then one can hope that Mr. Dart is older and wiser now.

Jared Olar

AW: Thanks to the readers who dug out the identity of the webmaster who produces the fiery-dart.org website. Brian Cooper is not, it seems, a former COG member.

Nazi doctrine at Big Sandy: (1) Our WCG pastor in Michigan back in about 1972 (with a decidedly Germanic name) got all excited about the notion of the Holocaust being a hoax. I remember one specific sermon in which he just laid the foundation regarding this Astounding New Truth, and promised that he would be looking into more of the details and telling us more soon. Soon never came. He dropped the topic like a hot potato. It never was clear if he did more study and concluded his initial impressions had been wrong, or if someone higher up pulled the plug on him.

Pam Dewey

(2) On the other hand . . . I remember talking to Ralph Levy (who now teaches Bible courses at UCG's ABC) many years ago about his experience. As a Jewish Londoner, Ralph undoubtedly faced British anti-Semitism growing up. When he came into the WCG in early adulthood he met many people who were eager to claim some Jewish link or Jewish ancestry. He found the contrast striking -- and friendly (but then he wasn't in Big Sandy in the 1970s!).

Reg Killingley

(3) Thank you for that great item. Very interesting... When one thinks about the one thing the CoG's have in common, it's the Jewish Sabbath, Holy Days and Meat Restrictions, the whole idea that one has to become Jewish in order to be Christian smacks also of racism. That is why it was condemned as the first great heresy of the Christian Church in Acts 15. Even the Jews today, condemn that kind of teaching. For a better understanding of the how Messianic Jews and Non-Christian devout Jews believe regarding these issues, I recommend the following website.

Robert Clanton

Museltof: I just found your website with great interest and read a few of the letters... I am the guy behind Museltof Countercult and Apologetics UK and we warn of all those who pervert the Scriptures. My wife and I were members of the WCG here in Wales, UK from 1981-1994. We went through it all, we witnessed all the duplicity and false "information" which honest folks were fed during announcements time at services. When we left I took a theology degree, spent probably hundreds of hours grappling with Hebrew and Greek. I wanted to throw out all Armstrongist influences and went back to basics. In 1998 I was accepted as a prospective Baptist pastor and have since preached and written widely. But the biggest thing which affected my theology happened even before I commenced the degree: I discovered Justification By Faith Alone. Yes, it had always been in the Scriptures, but Armstrongism was committed to justification by works (odd how they still try to deny that). I now offer help and counseling to any who have come out of Armstrongism. My sites are: www.museltof.org.uk/ http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.brace/  My specific Testimony covering our years in Armstrongism can be found here: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.brace/mustest2.htm 

Robin A. Brace

That "W": I always thought the "W" in Herbert W. Armstrong stood for "Wrong."


Holocaust denial? With this week's Holocaust memorials bringing former camp inmates back to Auschwitz, it is interesting that [a] Church of God leader... is reported to question whether the Holocaust really happened. [His] own research centers on what happened some 2000 years ago with the apostle Paul, but how can his quest for the real Paul be credible if he questions what happened only 60 years ago? 

In search of Don Prunkard: (1) Here's a blurb on Prunkard from one of Richard Nickel's memoirs ...

However, the 1974 doctrinal changes in the Worldwide Church of God and mass exodus of thousands of former members did affect the Church of God, Seventh Day, especially the Denver Group. For a while in the latter 1970s, Don Prunkard, former Worldwide Church minister, worked with the Denver Group. He wrote an article in the August, 1979 Advocate attacking the Feast Days, which he had kept while in the Worldwide Church but had by this time renounced. Prunkard later drifted away from the Church of God, Seventh Day.

Strangely enough, I remember this very 1979 Advocate article! We had left the WCG in 1978, and had signed up for a subscription to the Bible Advocate in order to explore what options might be available to us for fellowship. When I saw the in-your-face Prunkard article, I was aghast that someone wouldn't just say that the Holy Days were no longer "required for salvation," but that observing them in any way actually "offended" God Almighty! Talk about overreaction to Armstrongism!

I now understand that the shake-up in the WCG at the time in the late 1970s was causing such an influx into the CG7 of people that still liked the idea of the Holy Days, that they had to come down hard on the concept in order to not have their own members swayed toward Holy Day observance. As I remember it, the article had a whole lot of strawmen arguments, and was more a knee-jerk reaction to past abuses in the WCG than a carefully considered doctrinal argument.

Al Carrozzo's name showed up much more recently, on a speaking list for the Feast of Tabernacles 2003 sponsored by David Antion's Guardian Ministries... I'm guessing Antion may well have a contact address for Al.

Pam Dewey

(2) For the man who wanted to know about Don "Plunkard," the correct spellling is "Prunkard." I have no idea where he is or if he is even alive. He would be past seventy. I know he wrote several articles in the Bible Advocate (CG7) many years ago, one of them disagreeing with the WCG's teaching on the annual holy days.

Larry Evans

(3) Just wanted to thank Ambassador Watch and others for pointing out my misspelling of Mr. Don Prunkard's name. It was a little embarrassing to me since I have the correct spelling in his old articles... As long as I am here I may as well give my two cents worth on my experience with the Worldwide Church. My mother became a member when I was only 8 or 9 years old. I do not in any way blame her because she was only seeking God's truth and was taken in by the Armstrongs. The mainline churches offered no meat and were just plain dull as they still are today. And no matter what you think of the Armstrongs, you can't say that their sermons were dull. 

Yes, I too was bitter for a while, but as I got older and wiser I actually became grateful for the whole experience. Why? because by living under the old covenant for so long I came to realize how much Jesus Christ really did for me and everybody else by freeing us from that bondage and giving us a new covenant by His suffering and dying...

... it so saddens me to see so many people turn against God and Jesus Christ just because the Armstrongs did not live up to our expectations. Did not God tell us in His word not to put our trust in men? I realize that some people suffered more in Worldwide than others. I guess I was luckier than some because my family was not broken up, though my mother was a D & R case. But who knows? ... no one in my family died because of not using doctors. Though I could have died since I was very sickly when I was little. Also my mother came close because she is a diabetic and the Armstrong ministers made her fast on the Day of Atonement... 

You can't tell me that this breakup of Armstrong's empire under Tkach isn't God's hand. ... I'm sure that God has heard the prayers of the victims of Armstrong and is using Tkach to destroy his church. Why do I think this? Can you name any other cult that has denounced their own founder and his teachings? Even the Mormons still believe in Joseph Smith, and the Seventh Day Adventists in Ellen G. White even though they have both been dead for over a hundred years. Yes, as one former WCG minister said, "the Worldwide Church has become a round trip ticket back to mainstream Protestantism". That sounds like the kind of ironic justice that God would give. Remember there were thousands of Armstrong's victims praying for justice. 

David W. Berryman



The 'W' in HWA - Unveiled at last! So what did the 'W' in Herbert W. Armstrong stand for? The explanations are legion. The urban legend most of us encountered was that it stood for - nothing. According to the tale, ol' Herb selected it either (1) because it made his name sound more impressive, or (2) because there was another Herb Armstrong in Pasadena, and he didn't want any confusion about whose mailbox those precious tithes ended up in.

Trouble is, Herb was using the 'W' way back in the 1920s in his newspaper by-lines. Hence this explanation, though widely believed, was probably just another bit of Herbal spin. Perhaps this posting (from the Likeminds board) offers a more accurate origin.

I was always interested in the family history of Herbert Armstrong, so I researched his family (as much as possible through the internet). I especially enjoyed getting the census info. I'll include that here so anyone interested can have it. The ARMSTRONG line goes:

Herbert W(right) Armstrong b. 31 Jul 1892 DesMoines, Iowa m. Loma Isabelle DILLON b. 18 Oct 1891 Palmyra, Warren Co., Iowa
*note: Loma was his second cousin - their grandparents were siblings (John W. WRIGHT & Anna WRIGHT)
Horace Elon Armstrong b. 23 Apr 1864 Indiana. Eva WRIGHT b. 21 Apr 1866 Warren Co., Iowa
Nathan H. Armstrong b. 29 Aug 1835 Ohio m. Lydia HOLE b. 2 Feb 1842 Pennsylvania
Samuel Armstrong b. 27 Apr 1800 Delaware m. Elizabeth COPE b. 8 Sep 1803 Fayette Co., PA
James Armstrong b. 1758 Bucks Co,. PA m. Ruth BENNETT b. 1759 Kennett, Chester Co., PA
Samuel Armstrong b. 1739 d. 29 Sep 1828 m. Jane GIBSON

It's interesting that Buck HAMMER's mother was Ida Pearl COPE and HWA's great-grandmother was a COPE...
Herbert W. Armstrong was named after his mother's brother, Herschel Herbert WRIGHT. I speculate that the "W" in his name stands for WRIGHT... Herbert Wright Armstrong, a common practice to use the mother's maiden name as a middle name for her sons.

So Herb, though rarely right, may well have been Wright...

Port Austin: Latest salvo.

The Nazification of BI at Big Sandy: The following comments were provided by a reader who prefaced them with these remarks: This is about a little known aspect of British-Israelism as it began to evolve on the Big Sandy Campus back in the mid-Seventies. I know the names of a couple of the ministers involved in this. I do not want to mention their names.

I recently read on a website, authored by a Jewish Rabbi, that British-Israelism is anti-Semitic. This view would come as a surprise to most Armstrongites who believe British-Israelism to be true. Armstrongites would maintain that, far from denigrating the Jews, good Armstrongites would regard the Jews as brothers and fellow Israelites. However, back in the mid-Seventies on the Big Sandy campus of Ambassador College, I witnessed British-Israelism begin to evolve in a decidedly anti-Semitic direction. Some prominent ministers on campus adopted the belief that the people that we identify as Jews are actually Gentiles. Their adopted manifesto was the Arthur Koestler's Thirteenth Tribe. This belief had the following elements:

1) The people we refer to as Eastern European Jews are really Gentiles descended from the Biblical patriarch Ashkenaz [Gen.10:3] (hence, the Ashkenazi Jews).
2) The Holocaust was a cleverly designed media event. It did not really happen.
3) The Jews were prophesied not to return to Palestine until the return of Christ. So the current inhabitants of Palestine are actually Gentiles.
4) These "Jews" control the media and are involved in an enormous worldwide financial conspiracy to destroy and enslave Western Civilization.
5) These "Jews" are spoken of in the book of Revelation as the "Synagogue of Satan," those who say they are Jews and are not.
6) The real Tribe of Judah is located in some region of North America.

This pseudo-history fit nicely with the political atmosphere at the time. On the Big Sandy campus, always aligned with Garner Ted Armstrong, there was deep suspicion of Stanley Rader. The belief was that this great instrument of evil, these false "Jews", reached into the very core of the Worldwide Church of God leadership.

While in graduate school at the University of Texas, I came across a journal in the Main Library that espoused quite similar ideas. I was astonished to find that this magazine was just a shade away from what the ministers at AC Big Sandy believed. The magazine did not espouse British-Israelism but maintained, in a similar vein, that the real Jews were Aryans and that Christ was an Aryan. It was not immediately apparent who the publishers of this journal were, so I did some research and discovered that it was a publication of the American Nazi Party.

So the Rabbi was right. British-Israelism did give rise to anti-Semitism. That ideology was being incubated at Ambassador College, Big Sandy, Texas in the mid-Seventies and might have swept the entire Worldwide Church of God if it had come to fruition. You may think this is a facetious notion -- that it would have never happened. But one of the men who believed this is currently a prominent and respected minister in the United Church of God.


AW comment: These same neo-Nazi views were also (unfortunately) held by a now-deceased minister who is greatly admired by many ex-members. His book on HWA, a sought after volume to this day, had to be extensively redrafted prior to publication (largely thanks to the wise counsel of John Trechak), due to its virulent anti-Semitism.  



Genuine assurances or blatant con? WCG president-for-life Joe Tkach has written to employees:


Previously, I informed you that we had entered escrow to sell the remaining Upper Campus to a consortium of buyers including the same groups involved in purchasing the Lower Campus. I am pleased to inform you that the escrow has closed. The Buyer's ultimate plans are not yet finalized and the Church will probably remain in use of some few campus buildings until we move our entire operation to our new facility in Glendora sometime in the second quarter of this year. 

I deeply appreciate all the loyal employees and members who have prayed and worked diligently serving the the church during the years the facility has been in the process of selling. Although the sale has taken more time than we first anticipated, it is clear looking back that God has blessed our efforts in ways that we could not have anticipated. I praise God that we can focus even more effort on our Christian mission of living and sharing the gospel. 

Your Brother in Christ,

Joseph Tkach

Will they now fulfill these undertakings, or was it just a con to keep the employees quiet? ... They certainly seem to have the capacity to make good... but do they have the will - or the common decency? 

Okay, so now comes the acid test. Will WCG honor the promises made to employees now it's finally got rid of the real estate? According to our sources they said: 

Will they now fulfill these undertakings, or was it just a con to keep the employees quiet? Will they plead that all earlier assurances are overridden by the retirement package announced (minus documentation) last year? More to the point, why aren't they talking to employees about these matters rather than leaving them in the dark? 

 And while we're at it, here are some more questions members and supporters might ask...

They certainly seem to have the capacity to make good... but do they have the will - or the common decency?

Fiery darts aimed at Ron: A new website focuses on Ron Dart and his CEM ministry. The webmaster, who seems to be sheltering behind anonymity, seems to feel Ron is in the same league as Spanky Meredith and Gerry Flurry, and that he has been less than upfront about his personal involvement with Garner Ted Armstrong and Armstrongism in general. The following response comes from Pam Dewey:

I spent over a decade myself following and supporting and promoting the efforts of Herbert Armstrong, from 1965 to 1978. Then I spent another decade, 1978 to 1988, following and supporting and promoting the efforts of Garner Ted Armstrong. It took me that long to realize how undeserving those men were of my foolish loyalty. But I did finally break the ties totally in 1988. Like Ron Dart, I still keep the Sabbath and Holy Days. But in the past fifteen years, I have often been welcomed in Protestant settings in spite of that to teach about Bible topics in classes and seminars. I also have two websites that deal with a variety of religious topics. I don't preface every seminar I give, every class I teach, and every website article I post with an admission of what a dummy I was from 1965 to 1988. What would be the point? That isn't me now. If someone asks, I'm honest and up-front about it. But why would I want, over 15 years after renouncing the connection, to keep bringing it up myself?

...do I agree with the portrait painted by this anonymous author? No ... it's not the Ron Dart I know now at all. Heck, the man can't be building an empire! He's in his 70s, has no kids to hand the "family business" to like the Armstrongs had, and doesn't have any noticeable vices like gambling to feed requiring big influxes of donations... He's not a charismatic leader establishing a legacy. He's just a guy with a gift of speaking and teaching who makes tapes and radio programs.

"Thanks for the brainwashing": What a fine, honest, selfless fellow Dave Pack is! What a paragon of clear-sighted virtue and deep spiritual understanding. Yet the many outstanding virtues of this humble servant of God seem to have eluded the correspondent who recently wrote (after listening to one of Dave's outstanding audio presentations): This guy is a true narcissist - "me me me me me, I, I, I, I, I, I ,I, my, my, my, my" ...The whole darn Bible points to Dave. 

And then, blowing across from the frozen tundra came these comments from HWA Critic, who has also been listening to the gracious words proceeding from Dave's lips:

I had the most amazing experience this afternoon. Don't know if you know this, but Pack put up a couple of new sermons that he called the most important he's ever given. "Must-listen sermons," I thought.

I downloaded them, listened to a few minutes here and there, and then the unbelievable happened: he started reading critical emails. And he read an email I sent as a sort of "Ah, what the hell" type thing...

I put a blurb up at HWA Critic... because I want the wonderful people who sent the other emails to know that their words were heard by the entire RCG (never mind how pathetically small it actually is).


There's not a lot of unfiltered information coming out of the Pack gulag, so if you're interested in the Restored Church of God, this is one link you've got to check out!

Beware of imitations: It seems M.T. Hall isn't the only one digging in the sands of the Levant for prophetic scrolls and codices. And lo, yet another precious document has surfaced. Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. Meanwhile the Hall expedition continues its own tireless pursuit of forgotten 1st Century apocalyptic literature: the latest remarkable discovery is here. We are unable to confirm whether Dr James Tabor or the National Geographic Society have expressed interest in this project.

Stats: The top five pages on AW during January were: (1) AW57 (the January issue), (2) the links page, (3) the column on Called to be Free, (4) the column on Dave Albert's Difficult Scriptures, and (5) AW56 (the December issue). The two most popular Amazon links were The Lost Tribes of Israel and New Testament Exegesis.

Hank warns the world: Richard Scott once brought us The Pure Truth. Visitors to the site are assured that it is being continuously updated, but the last online issue is dated  July-August 1996. Now Hank Scott brings us The Pure Truth Restored... Are Richard and Hank the same person? Both sites are the brainchild of something called APT. As Hank so, um, aptly states "Many are those, today, who presume to know all about everything."

Don Prunkard: Thanks to those readers who pointed out that the mailbag enquiry about "Don Plunkard" involved a slip of the memory... the gentleman's name is Don Prunkard. Your emails have been forwarded to the correspondent.

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


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

Letters are published at the the webmaster's discretion and may be edited for clarity and content. Letters for publication should not exceed 700 words. Articles may also be submitted, but it is suggested writers send a proposal first as space is limited on the server. 

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


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