June 2005 - Issue 62

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

email AW at editor@ambassadorwatch.co.nz 

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Monday June 27

The top 2 books readers ordered through AW's Amazon links during the first 6 months of 2005 were Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion by Pam Dewey and Dare to Think for Yourself by Betty Brogaard. 

Recent links:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Saturday June 25

 The latest blog entry on Lake of Fire is a tribute to that remarkable Aussie local body politician and tropical fruit grower Robert Brinsmead. Bob's ground-breaking 1981 dissertation on the Sabbath is still available online.

AW Resources:

Book Club

From the Fringe

DP's collection

Friday June 24

The LCG website has been given a much needed facelift - the clunky old design giving way to a more contemporary look. Now, if they can only get rid of clunky old Rod...

New: Intelligent Rebellion Yahoo group, hosted by Douglas Becker

Monday June 20

If you can't get enough of the AW mailbag, you might like to check out the latest correspondence over at The Painful Truth. Be advised, though, that the exchanges are, well,  a bit more direct than AW's... .

Saturday June 18

Somebody please give Mark Armstrong a dictionary, or failing that an atlas - quick! The son of GTA and self-anointed guardian of his legacy wrote to supporters this week: "Last Tuesday a 7.9 magnitude quake rocked Chili..." Whoa, thanks for the hot news!

Wednesday June 15

Does anyone - apart from the principal players - actually care about the continuing circus in Port Austin? In the unlikely event there is, here's a link to Homer's latest missive.

Tuesday June 14

Greg Albrecht's PTM website  has plunged in the latest Alexa ratings, dropping out of  the top 20 sites we survey. Currently ranked at a dismal 597,610 the site is outshone by the Flurry Trumpet, Jim Ross' COG Music site, the Modesto group and even ASK (the ministry built around the late Ernie Martin's writings). Greg's site features a lot of whizz-bang stuff - audio and video downloads and Plain Truth PDF articles and must cost a packet - yet only seems able to raise a yawn. Time for Greg to throw in the towel and try growing tomatoes?

A new website (to us) presents a mix of  Herbal grunge  and dippy typos (e.g. the Towel of Babal?) Anyone know who put this thing together? Thanks to Alice for pointing it out.

Sunday June 12

The MD Yahoo group is to close, at least in its present form, at the end of the month. The group was established 4 years ago, and is currently moderated by Douglas Becker. We'll keep an eye out to see if any of the present members establish a new forum.

A member of LCG tells us that John Ogwyn's illness was announced at services as a bad case of boils - picked up on a trip to Russia and Germany. Almost sounds like an Old Testament curse: "and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts"  (I Sam. 5:9 KJV). "The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed" (Deut. 28:27 KJV). Come to think of it, isn't there a Basil Wolverton drawing of  that?

Saturday June 11

Mike Minton advises that he'll be continuing as Painful Truth webmaster with the assistance of John B, while Ron handles the PT forum.

Friday June 10

Dixon Cartwright has released the latest issue of The Journal. The front and back pages are available as a free PDF download

Wednesday June 8

There are changes at The Painful Truth. Mike Minton has stepped aside as moderator of the PT forum. Whether Mike will continue as webmaster isn't yet clear. We wish "Uncle Ron" clear skies and gentle breezes as he launches into his new job, and the same to Mike (who was definitely "a good one") as he moves on.  Ron is the third PT moderator, following on from Ed Mentell and Mike.

Monday June 6

A new E-book (downloads as a PDF file) on the WCG, published in February, is  available from Amazon.  The writer is a South African Pentecostal. 41 pages long ($3.99). Anyone able to provide a review is invited to contact AW.

Saturday June 4

"...a denomination that has a long history of oppressive and legalistic rules, regulations and rituals."  Monte Wolverton fires a spitball at the Catholic church  on PTM Update. 

Did you have breakfast this morning? Then either you're not a member of the United Church of God, or you're not too keen on fasting. Today is a sect-wide fast called by newly crowned president Clyde Kilough. 

WCG doctrinal committee divided: Once upon a time the Undisputed Leader called for a church-wide discussion on the role of women in ministry. The plebs got to contribute papers to an amateur unofficial site (it's still there - nothing has been added in a year or two) while Joey herded the doctrinal committee together to deliver the expected outcome.

Time passed. The timeline Joe had laid down stretched out. Then...

If the WCG knew that the study would probably be inconclusive why was a preliminary schedule given that gave the opposite impression?

All this evidence is (as we expected from the start) inconclusive for our ultimate goal, which is to decide whether the Bible prohibits or allows women to be ordained as elders in the church.

Let me say a few words about why our study has spent so much time on what seems to be inconclusive research. Although various members (on both sides of the question) would like for us to “cut to the chase” and deal with the controversial texts first, we believe it would be a disservice to the church and to the question itself for us to do that. It would place the entire membership of the church in the position of having to react to the conclusion without having walked through the steps by which that conclusion was reached...

Finally, let me say that we do not yet know the ultimate outcome of our study. It is possible that the doctrinal team will not achieve unanimity on this issue. Perhaps we will publish a majority opinion as well as a minority opinion—I do not know, because we aren’t there yet. I hope that you are studying along with us. 

Oh dear. The translation is provided by a correspondent on JLF:

You will probably remember Dr. Joseph Tkach in January of 2003 announced the preliminary schedule for the decision on the ordination of women. It is now June of 2005 and Dr. Tkach finally stated that the church’s doctrinal board has been unable to come to a conclusion at this time... If the WCG knew that the study would probably be inconclusive why was a preliminary schedule given that gave the opposite impression?

“…Ratify final statement with district superintendents and regional directors: December-January 2005. Publish statement with supporting documents in Worldwide News: February 2005.” (January Worldwide News 2003)

A divided doctrinal board is an interesting situation. Obviously some feel very strong and convicted of their opinions on the subject. Perhaps this is the reason for the long drawn out delay from Headquarters. In other denominations policies such as this have lead to rifts and even splits in the church.

Also of note among the council members of Azusa Pacific’s Council for Christian Women in Leadership not serving again this year is Pastor General Joseph Tkach’s wife, Tammy. 

So exactly what is the sticking point? Let's check the minutes. Oh, silly me, minutes are not available for sect committees... Good gracious, if they gave out committee minutes people would soon be asking for audited financial reports as well!

Another splinter shatters: God's Church is under attack! ...This is an attempt of Satan to destroy the work of God, and an attempt by two men to take over the church!

From the Here We Go Again Department comes news that Church of God Worldwide Ministries has separated into warring camps.

Church of God Worldwide Ministries is the group that split from ICG, which split from CGI, which split from WCG.

On one side 6 ministers, Bruce Chapman, Ian Hufton, Thomas Kerry, Manis Samons, Larry Summerville, and Elwood Woodcock. On the other George Trent, Earl Timmons and three others.

George Trent

During the last two months or so, many of you received letters and material from Mr. Timmons, and recently a letter from Mr. Trent dated June 10, 2005. Unfortunately, these letters and materials presented a false picture of the problems affecting the church. What’s more, these letters and materials contained slanderous lies and innuendo. Therefore, we felt it was necessary to provide you with this letter. And it was necessary to not let these lies go unanswered and unchallenged. 

To put it succinctly, God’s Church is under attack. From the beginning in 31AD to now, the Church has always been under attack from Satan. Time and again, he has maliciously used lies and slander to divide the ministry and brethren, and to weaken our resolve to do God’s work. This time is no different. These lies and slander threaten the success and existence of the COGWM. We’re not exaggerating.

Buckle up brethren, turbulence ahead!

...on or before April 12, 2005, Mr. Timmons secretly formed a new organization called The Church of God, Worldwide Ministries Evangelistic Association, which is registered in Tennessee. However, he did not inform the entire ministry that he formed this different organization with a deceptively similar name. Furthermore, on April 15, 2005, Mr. Timmons tried to transfer (illegally, by the way) the trademark to the “World Tomorrow,” the name of our yet-to-be-developed TV program. Mr. Timmons tried to transfer it to his organization, the Evangelistic Association. The United States Trademark and Patent Office has informed us that Mr. Timmons’ act was nothing short of theft!

At the time, most of the ministry did not know he was doing this. Mr. Timmons decided to keep mum; everything was done secretly. Secrecy is no way to run an organization. Mr. Timmons, then a minister and board member of the COGWM, should have known better. It’s apparent that Mr. Timmons had an agenda. 

Simply put, his goal was to assume complete control of the COGWM. How would he do this? Well, he needed some ministers on his side. Sadly, Mr. Trent was all too willing to help him (more on that later). Mr. Timmons also needed access to your tithes. Your tithes would fund his agenda. To that end, on April 27, 2005, Mr. Timmons went to Gretna, Louisiana. He proceeded to withdraw $82,500 of your tithes, which was deposited in the church bank account. He then proceeded to pay an attorney $2,500, and had the audacity to claim that this is the church’s attorney. (This is a lie; the church had never hired an official attorney.) Mr. Timmons hired an attorney to devise the so-called legal justification for what he was secretly doing.

Next, Mr. Timmons went to the Post Office in Gretna and fraudulently tried to divert all church mail to the address of his own organization, the Evangelistic Association, in Tennessee. Fortunately, the post office officials stopped Mr. Timmons from doing this. On April 28, 2005, the Post Office informed Mr. Thomas Kerry (by telephone) that Mr. Timmons’ actions were illegal, that he committed fraud, that Postal Inspectors were investigating, and that they’ve opened a case file for postal fraud! Needless to say, Mr. Timmons’ actions were flagrant and unbecoming of a minister of God. And his actions could have put the entire COGWM in trouble. And yet, Mr. Timmons was undeterred. His chutzpah, his audacity, apparently knows no bounds. 

Worse, it appears that Mr. Trent has supported Mr. Timmons from the very beginning. The day after Mr. Timmons had tried to do all this, Mr. Kerry received an email from Mr. Trent. Mr. Trent informed Mr. Kerry of Mr. Timmons’ actions, including the unauthorized withdrawal of nearly all funds in the church bank account... Mr. Timmons obviously needed to justify his dubious, secretive, and harmful actions. Therefore he accused Mr. Kerry of misusing your tithes. What’s more, Mr. Trent informed Mr. Kerry that they suspected him some six weeks earlier! First, Mr. Trent implied that they had suspected Mr. Kerry of misusing funds. Therefore, Messrs. Trent and Timmons were on the same page. Did Mr. Trent authorize or encourage Mr. Timmons to secretly form a new organization, withdraw the church money, transfer the church mail, etc.? We don’t know, but after everything that has happened in the last two months, we wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is yes.

Yes, it's just like old times. Are we having fun campers?

Sadly, Mr. Trent’s letter contains lies, innuendo and slander. Mr. Trent tries very hard to put Mr. Kerry in a bad light. However, what he did not tell you is that on June 10, 2005, the auditors told Mr. Chapman, a minister in the COGWM, that they found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Kerry. And Mr. Trent did not tell you that the audit would have already been completed if he and/or Mr. Timmons complied with the auditor’s request to submit verification of the whereabouts of the $80,000 that Mr. Timmons withdrew from the church bank account on April 27, 2005. (Furthermore, the auditors are awaiting receipt of more audit confirmations that were mailed to the members in the last month or so.) ...

Brethren, we’re not exaggerating: this crisis was inspired by two men who are trying to take over the church and move it to Tennessee. By moving everything to Tennessee, they’re attempting to assume complete control over every aspect of the work. And Messrs. Trent and Timmons are justifying their actions by attempting to destroy one man’s character. They’ve brought grief to Mr. Kerry and his family, and division to the church. And they’ve done all this without the benefit of proof.

Had they gotten away with this, the COGWM would be at risk. According to Louisiana law governing nonprofit corporations, and the rules set forth by the IRS, Mr. Trent’s and Mr. Timmons’ actions would have resulted in the dissolution of the COGWM as a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation. 

We felt it was our duty to stop Mr. Trent and Mr. Timmons. Therefore, on June 5, 2005 we convened an emergency meeting to stop their insidious agenda to take over the church and move everything to another state. Acting within our legal rights under Louisiana law and according to our By-Laws, we removed the former board and elected a provisional board. We satisfied all legal requirements; a forthcoming letter from an attorney will prove this. We’ll also provide you with a more detailed letter and more information in a forthcoming package of information. 

The letter writers are in charge of the all important website.



Nashville case an ex-COG fantasy: There will be former members of one or more cultic COG groups cheering on Jack and Kay Pelham. The couple, former members of the International Churches of Christ (and its Nashville franchise, "The Nashville Church") filed a lawsuit last Friday seeking redress for the sect's tithing practices. They are seeking to recover more than $93,000.

The ICC doctrine sounds a lot like that promoted by some COG bodies:

Two former members of The Nashville Church have filed a lawsuit claiming the church uses cultlike tactics, manipulation, peer pressure and guilt to force members into tithing and making other financial contributions... The Pelhams claim they were threatened with the "loss of their eternal salvation" if they didn't submit to tithing and fundraising efforts...

"These contributions, which were solicited under the guises of 'contributions for the poor' and 'special missions contributions,' respectively, were instead treated by the defendants as 'unrestricted funds' and diverted by them for the personal (gain) and benefit of several high-ranking employees and officers of the defendant corporations," the lawsuit states.

You can read the full article, published in The Tennessean, here.

UCG FOT case: Some common sense advice on allowing school absences to accommodate religious observances is offered in an Indianapolis Star editorial

Our position is: Students should be excused for legitimate religious observances provided schoolwork is made up.

Too bad the editor didn't do their research a bit more thoroughly though, the Feast of Tabernacles is referred to as "Festival of the Holy Days".

Weekly Mailbag

Assyria again:  In reference to David Anderson's piece on Germany and Assyria, I can relate. What is a real interesting study is to just go to the articles of the various COG's that attest to Germany being Assyria and check out their "Proof References". Some may be truly shocked to see how most will come out the opposite of what we were all taught, but were used (presumably that we would NOT check up on them) anyway to bolster their flawed teachings on the subject. This is also true on many other topics where the various authors were just trying to kiss up to Herbert Armstrong . The sad part is that many in the years since just quote from the old literature put out by WCG as label it as "Truth".

Rod 2

David Stone (1): David Stone passed away in prison the first week of May. He was serving a long sentence for sodomy with a teenager. Memorial service held at the church he started All Grace Covenant in Saucier, Ms. now being supervised by his wife Rosalyn. The cause of death was listed as "heart attack" but rumor has it that MRSA caused quite a few deaths in that prison. Several weeks before his death, Mr. Stone commented he was ready to die because he saw no hope of ever getting out of prison. 

A former member of his WCG congregation.

David Stone (2): Mike Burgess asked if anyone had heard David Stone, ex-WCG pastor, had died. Yes, it is true. He died of a massive heart attack on May 3. He had been in a federal prison in Mississippi for about 9 months (after nearly 2 years in the county prison in Gulfport, Mississippi).

David was married to my sister, Rose, so I wrote him fairly often to keep in touch and debate with him about various doctrinal issues. He had been given a 20 year sentence over a relationship with a 15 year old boy. Because he had lost his ministry and contact with his family, he despaired of life. Death was a release for him.

Rose continues to minister to the congregation she and David had started after leaving the WCG.

Garvin Greene

Inconsistency and contradiction: I didn't mean to imply that there were never fasts on the Sabbath in the WCG. I knew there were. Nevertheless, in the Peoria, Illinois, WCG, in the latter half of the 1980s, we were certainly told that fasting shouldn't be done on the Sabbath. That wasn't presented as a hard and fast rule (no pun intended), but it was what we were told. It's just yet another example of inconsistency and self-contradiction within Armstrongism.


Flurry: It indeed could be the last Pope Flurry ever sees at his age. I wonder of Flurry would bank on it. Let's just say that the Benedict XVI lives another 10 years or even 15, I'm willing for all those, Flurry included, who want to "bank" on him being the last Pope to make a living will and leave all land properties, bank accounts and stocks and bonds in my name starting June 18, 2020. Let's all ask Flurry to put his money where his mouth is.

Fractured Flurry: Well, that does it! From now on, when posting on the various forums, if the Abominable Snowman is the topic, I'm going to refer to his group as PCCG (Philadelphia Concentration Camp/Gulag). I'd wager that if he wouldn't be losing all of the tithes and offerings, that man would probably even have his people quit their jobs so they didn't need to be around "worldly" people! He must realize, in his fractured logic, that most of his people are subject to contamination from their co-workers for more hours each day than they ever would be from "unconverted" relatives. How does a PCCG member allow his/her light to shine?

Byker Bob

Good ol' Ernie: When John Mitchell caused the first big split in the WCG it was Ernie who was backing him up with ideas. In those days everything was up for grabs.  Mitchell led a breakaway without direction and for good reason - he had no  idea of where he was going and he led everyone else into a mind freeing  experience of total liberty. (Whatever happened to John Mitchell?) I was on  the phone with Ernie asking him about his tithing ideas and then his D and R  ideas and then the Sabbath, Holy Days and suddenly it became obvious that Ernie had liberated himself and was looking for his own new direction so  that he was in no position to lead others. I saw many others go the same way  and I also saw others close their minds in fright. I wonder what ever became of the first batch of major deserters in the years from 1972 to 1975? I also wonder why anyone in their right mind held on let alone joined the WCG after this time period when the Herb's WCG was exposed as nothing more than the imagination of a Wizard of Oz playing with dials behind a curtain. John Mitchell and Ernie Martin were the little dogs who pulled the curtain back.

Freedom of religion includes UCG: In reference to the freedom of UCG members to worship according to their conscience (6/19/05) I too support that right.


Request from Melbourne: Hi, this is the first time I've written to your site although I've been reading your material for several years. To say I'm shocked by the claims and crap that has gone on in people's lives would limit my revulsion.

I've got a request which I hope someone can help. In 1995 I was in Melbourne Australia in a Worldwide church service. The worldwide church was going through changes in its doctrines at which many people spat the dummy. That day's speech was given by a William Bradford in which he extolled the doctrinal changes including their adoption of the Trinity. Does anyone out there have a copy of that speech? I don't recall the date, but I think their venue was the hall at Melbourne's Monash University.

Paul Blackman

AW: I imagine Bill Bradford would be seriously embarrassed if the document resurfaced :-) 

Gnostic author comments: My name is John V Panella, and I was basically raised in the former Radio Church of God, which became the Worldwide Church of God. My father was a minister in the WCG for nearly 28-years, until his passing in 91. I really respected my dad, because he was one of the few ministers that actually believed in what he was doing was for a divine cause even though there was obvious problems in the cabal!

I became a member in the mid 70's and went to Ambassador College and continued to be part of the parent organization until late winter of 88. What I was privy to and the host of unimaginable things I witnessed firsthand within the entire ministry and the lay members became the straw that broke the camel's back

When I left I began to check into some of the splinters like CGI under GTA and PCG as it was being developed by Flurry along with a very close friend to the family, John Amos.

It became exceedingly obvious that what I began to witness even in the splinter groups was nothing more than the survival of the fittest mentality. No one wanted to really discuss what was occurring to bring out an awareness that could help the people. It was all about the rule of law under a military code. You follow me or you are the enemy. I walked away from all of the craziness and began to understand after years of personal research, the depth of what was occurring to innocent people because they sold their souls down a river of blood sacrifice. I have been out of touch for over a decade and a half with anything to do with the WCG or its many splinters.

I have to comment on one thing here as to the many splinter organizations. It reminded me of a sermon HWA gave in 81, I believe was at Pittsburgh PA. He had been attempting to set the church back on the track, and by 81 he gave a very illumined sermon dealing with the possibility of the WCG not being God's true Church after all. The sermon was all about what would happen if the leader of the church died. He spoke in great detail on how one would be able to recognize a true Church versus a false one.

He elaborated on the fact that if this was not Christ's church, and its leader, (obviously referring to him,) were to die, then it would split up into 1000 pieces, proving Christ was not behind the church! He gave indication about all his many followers would become ego trained to scope out their own church for their own cause. I never forgot that sermon, because if there was one single prophecy he ever got right, that was it!

... I have not been following what has been occurring until the horrible Brookfield tragedy. And even then what had occurred is I felt like a piece of family was shattered. And although I have not been under these organizations, I still felt like family was harmed no mater what moniker they give themselves. However, when I began to read the many aspects of your site I was dumbfounded as to why so many people are still selling their soul to these men and/or women. I mean after this many years it is time to begin to realize that one has to take responsibility for their own actions. No coat tail is going to get anyone anywhere.

I then read this piece about Flurry fanaticism, and I was horrified to see people are still letting these nutcases rule their lives. I say nutcases because anyone that declares they are the only ones that are god's vehicle of awareness, they have surely lost their minds! The deep fear that is within people is almost Manchurian candidate like, a complete brainwashing. None of these men can offer anyone eternal life. None of these men have any special link with the divine anymore than anyone else does. They are men and women cluttering the most sacred places of the soul for personal aggrandizement.

Each person has their very own personal link to the divine in what I call the Omniscient Zone. Yet they sell it in fear that maybe they are not good enough to have the love from the one source of all creation!

These humans have nothing to offer that is not already yours for the taking. They have no special formula to advance one spiritually or physically. They are workers of deception and antichrists, because they deny the Christ in all, and seek to become the intercessors themselves. They lead by fear which directly contrasts the spirit of the divine. They maneuver by the use of cunning tactics that are illusory at best.

After all these years I am amazed why people will not take two steps back and witness the barrage of nonsense from a distance. People that have finally awakened and left the WCG should be much further advanced than they are. The church was a vehicle of training and growing. It was not the end of the chapter. Even without sounding too much like a Bible thumper, Paul commented on this very thing saying when one should be on the meat, meaning able to discern for themselves what is truth versus error. They still are subjected to the Milk where someone else has to feed them like babes in Christ. They should already have a depth of awareness that by far supersedes these Elijah wannabes.

So much has been revealed in the last 20 years dealing with Science, Quantum Science, metaphysics and historical religion that should have begun an awakening not only to what the deceptions were, but why they occurred and who was behind them. Many should have already realized that Christianity today is nothing but a hopped up drug influenced by the ancient Sun Gods the fallen Elohim and Nephilm. Sorry to be so direct! But NO, people are still floundering around the basics of the milk that is going to drowned them in utter confusion!

Instead, many are still playing the round robin cycle of church hopping and struggling to find their own identity when they should have realized it never left. They have been hiding for so very long within a mask of denial, that they scarcely know their own mind anymore. And sadly especially for WCG and their breakaways, they never had the knowledge of who they really were from the foundations of this world!.

My friends these ministers are not going to save you because they have no salvation to offer. They only have tricks and traps that are ancient Chinese techniques of mind-control, to steal your money and your mind all under the auspices of getting your foot in protections door.

You know what is so sad, for thousands of years people have been paraded around like idiots to follow these same type egomaniacs because they have convinced them they were the source or direction that was needed. People keep playing right into their hand, and yet they all seek one thing, protection and salvation, when in truth they never lost it until they sold it to these purveyors of insanity!.

For thousands of years the people that existed are now asterisks in history. They died and went to their graves with nothing but a hope and a whole lot of confusion. Leaving everyone to grapple for the same cause. Yet these same ministers of times past continue to use the ruse that has always proved successful, and that is they play on your emotions and fear of suffering to abuse you mentally and emotionally... there really is good news beyond this realm, and it is within you to find it. No one else has the market on your soul!

John V Panella

AW: The writer is author of a book called The Gnostic Papers.

Bullshivism: How about a new poll for AW: Among the following, Who was the best spin artist of all time:

1. Herbert W. Harmstrong, Media General - wrote the "MOST important book published in over 1,900 YEARS!"
2. Stud Ted Harmstrong, Media Minister- Academy Award honorable mention for Most Professionally Appearing Repentance in a Newscast
3. Gerald Flurry, Trumpeting Minister Intoxicating Millions
4. Rod Meredith, Minister of the Rod that's "Spanking America!"
5. Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister - Wrote the lesson-book on spin, showed how to spin, control and influence sheople
6. Joe Tkach - for the use of Cognitive Dissonance

Add and subtract as you wish. Thought-provoking, HUH? Might make for some interesting comments. May I suggest a NEW book which AW might want to review and recommend? It is now on the Amazon Bestseller list. CBS Sunday Morning interviewed the author: On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt, a highly regarded American Ivy League scholar.

M. Cunningham



Flurry fanaticism: There has been some feedback on our June 19 item Has Flurry gone Feral. Once again it seems that the PCG is living down to its reputation for being one of the most hard-line and destructive of the splinters.

Regarding the PCG birth mother who wants no further contact with her 21-year-old daughter, my husband and I had a similar experience a few years back. We had already fully removed ourselves from all things COG, and when a longtime friend (at the time a UCG member) came to town for a visit we tried to arrange a reunion with another "long-lost" friend from back in the days when we were all WCG members. This latter friend, by that time firmly entrenched in Flurryland, advised us that he could have no contact with any of us non-PCG types as he was cleansing himself in preparation for Christ's imminent return. I guess our pagan cooties would have caused some kind of cosmic glitch in that process. So he remained "clean" and we haven't heard from him since. In fact, considering that was several years ago, I would imagine he has turned quite prune-like sitting in his little tub of Gerry-blather, awaiting the big event. (Lea)

If that wasn't sad enough, there's this disturbing account.

I just wanted to let you know that I am a former member of the WCG and am not a member of any of the splinter groups or the WCG for almost 10 years. My father left the WCG for the PCG back when Joseph Tkach was making a lot of changes. My father was recently told by Dennis Leap that he was no longer a deacon due to him not being able to control his non-PCG family members.

Dennis Leap flew down to my father's home after my father sent him a letter stating that he would be unable to attend Spokesman Club one weekend due to family obligations. My mother was not allowed to attend, so he didn't want to attend either. My father has graduated from Spokesman Club two times already (he joined the WCG in the early 70's and graduated from there and the PCG Spokesman Club) but was not "allowed" to get out of going even though it was held almost all day long and had recently been changed to two times a month. Recently they made a change that church services were going to be combined with bible study on Saturday so it would be an all day thing for members, so basically members will be given very little free time for relaxation on the weekends.

Dennis Leap told my father (who is almost 70 years old) that Gerald Flurry sent him personally to inform him that my father would no longer be a deacon and wouldn't be able to perform his regular duties (song leading, opening/closing prayer, occasional sermonettes) anymore unless he took care of the situation with my mother (no longer a member of the WCG and never a member of the PCG) and never saw me or contacted me again. He asked my father how many children he had and how many grandchildren and where we all lived. When he answered he was told that since I was a former member of the WCG (baptized in the WCG) that he was to never have anything to do with me and was pretty much given the okay to divorce my mother if she didn't conform to the PCG control. He was also told that his family (meaning me, my mother and sister) were trying to take him away from God's church and so we were to be shunned and avoided.

Luckily so far my father is not obeying Leap's orders, but we don't expect the situation to be forgotten by Leap if my father doesn't conform. My father was told that they have been watching him for a long time and was told that he was no longer zealous enough in his deacon duties (meaning he hasn't killed himself for the PCG although he has suffered a stroke and drives tremendous distances and gives above and beyond what a normal person should do). It's never enough for those cult leaders, they want your life, blood, money, mind, etc. 

My father admitted to my mother that Leap announced to them that he wanted members to spy on one another and to call him personally (he gave his phone number) if they saw someone doing something "wrong" or thought something was going on that he should know about. How's that for big brother spying on you? My father informed my mother that since she was a non-member that she was not allowed to attend the Night to be Much Observed or the SK Gala and also had to tell my aunt (who attends the PCG feasts with my father but doesn't attend "sabbath" services weekly) that she was not allowed to attend anymore per Dennis Leap and headquarters. My father was lambasted by Leap in my father's own home on a Friday and the very next day it was announced in services to humiliate him even further. They said the reason he was no longer a deacon was due to "family problems". In other words, my father is no longer a deacon because he didn't attend a Spokesman Club meeting that he was ordered to. Unfortunately he is attending one that is being held today (Sunday) far away from his home. They should not be requiring an almost 70-year old man who has had a stroke and who is so exhausted from all the constant traveling and constant fear and intimidation tactics they use on members to attend something he doesn't want to do.

I can only hope that members start to see how controlling these leaders are over them and how they are liars when they say that they are promoting family values. (Mz Kiss)

Tithing book online and free: It was one of the most controversial "dissident" publications ever produced in WCG history. The late Ernest Martin's first booklet on leaving the church was The Tithing Question, later re-titled The Tithing Dilemma. It would be difficult to measure the impact of this one publication since it first appeared around 1974 through to the present, but it must have been substantial. These days, with even Fred Coulter trying to wrap the mantle of Ernie's authority around his shoulders, it's wise to remember that "the good doctor" was no hold-fast COG traditionalist, as this book proves. The Tithing Dilemma would be especially valuable reading for those still enmeshed in one of the more cultic groups and who would appreciate a biblical explanation of why tithing is unscriptural. The full text is now available, free for personal use, on David Sielaff's askelm site.

For those unfamiliar with Ernie's influence on WCG, there's a biographical sketch available at answers.com.

Check it out: Douglas Becker's All2True site has a great new feature: a checklist especially for COG groups that could do for us what the sorting hat does for pupils at Hogwarts. Douglas tells us that the checklist is a satire, but many a true word is spoken in jest...



UCG goes to bat for Indiana youngster: The United Church of God has released a press statement on the civil liberties case revolving around a member family.

While the United Church of God is not directly involved in the ICLU lawsuit, the Church is spiritually supportive of Mrs. Scheidt and her son in exercising their protected rights under the U.S. Constitution... Legal counsel for the United Church of God has pointed out that in addition to the rights of free exercise of religion guaranteed by the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as equal protection, due process and other statutory rights which bar religious discrimination, positive adjudication in case law also exists that directly supports the right of students in the Church to be allowed excused absences from their school in order to observe the Feast of Tabernacles as well as other Holy Days and religious activities as taught by the Bible and the United Church of God.

A related statement has been released on the Feast of Tabernacles. AW supports the freedom of UCG members to worship according to their conscience.

Has Flurry gone feral?: Another sad anecdote from the PCG ghetto. This posting recently appeared on one of the news groups.

I have a question for anyone who knows up to date info on the PCG. My daughter recently turned 21. Her birth mother - a long time PCGer - wrote her a letter right before her 21 birthday in which she basically said she loves her but won't be having any further contact with her as she is not in PCG. Does anyone have any insight into why she might do this? Is it because my daughter is 21 and an "adult"? Is it because Flurry is getting weirder and stricter about contact with non-PCG family?

Fringe authors: The AW book club features titles that we feel will be stimulating. We're always delighted to add new books that offer something of value to those coming to terms with the COG tradition.

Of course there are plenty of COG-related works we don't feel so enthusiastic about, yet they are still important for anyone trying to understand what the Church of God has taught in the past, and continues to teach in many splinter groups. The new From the Fringe page lists a number of the titles that are currently available, including Fred Coulter's hefty version of the New Testament (there's a review coming up in July) and titles by amateur British-Israel enthusiasts. Proceed with caution.



Wiedenheft - from WCG to COG7: Richard Wiedenheft was a minister in the Worldwide Church of God until the eruptions of 1974, when he joined the exodus, putting integrity ahead of a paycheck. By 1980 Richard was pastoring a couple of independent COG congregations and publishing a small but influential newsletter called Focus On Truth. After years of detached co-operation with the Church of God (Seventh Day), he has now been appointed superintendent for that church's Northeastern District. 

COG7 writer launches book: While we're on the subject, COG7 elder Wesley Walker has written a book called Answers to Your Bible Questions which "freely explores thirty lessons on wide-ranging and significant biblical subjects, encouraging new dialogue about old ways of thinking... Chapter summaries explore such topics as the need for salvation, the love of God, repentance, re-birth in Christ, baptism, obedience, the Ten Commandments, judging our fellow man, the need for church attendance, and... why is Jesus coming back?" (from Amazon book description). 

Paperback copies are available on Amazon for $17.95. The book can also be purchased as a PDF download for $6. It is 200 pages long.

Comments on Ogwyn's death:

Ian Boyne conveys his sympathies to LCG:

I am deeply saddened by the death of Mr. John Ogwyn, who has had so much to contribute to God's Work. As a professional broadcaster, I myself can testify to Mr. Ogwyn's skills as a presenter on Tomorrow's World. He had the presence, the sense of authority and the confident, well-modulated voice which assures effectiveness in delivery. His death is a significant loss to the entire Body of Christ, for whom his labor has been noteworthy in getting the True Gospel out to the world.

At this time we simply have to trust the sovereignty of God and his omniscience. My condolences to the Living Church of God family who has had to endure several trials this year-like all true saints of God and that gallery of heroes listed in Hebrews 11. I say to my brethren, be patient tribulation, for in due season you shall reap, if you faint not. Let us celebrate the fact that Mr. Ogwyn made his contribution to preaching the true Gospel, in both writing and broadcasting, to a world which desperately needs it. May God strengthen his family at this time.

Dennis Diehl vents on Apostle Pack's reaction:

This comment by Dave Pack is simply awful yet so typical of his oft used ploy of having special knowledge that he cannot share at this time with his gullible followers. Typical narcissistic behavior. "Mr. Armstrong shared with me things I can't share at this time." "There is news I cannot share with you at this time...but it is stupendous and incredible.."

He does this in sermons where he acts privy to information he cannot yet share with the common folks but will keep them coming back for more. Timing is everything even if its bogus information or just his opinion masked as some kind of truth. It's a lousy habit he has and this goes over the line. Dave simply has to find meaning in everything that can somehow refocus on HIM and HIS understanding of his phony theologically flawed world. I simply detest this man's theological buffoonery and control over the few that take him seriously. There is enough in Dave's background to put him on shaky ground as being nothing more than another flawed human being and I hope he takes time to explain that as well someday as he thinks he can explain the Plain Truth about John Ogwyn's tragic and premature death.

Weekly Mailbag

Fast and loose (1):  Jared Olar asks a legitimate question about UCG calling for a fast on the sabbath. Jared's confusion arises from the fact that he doesn't understand "UCG speak". In the UCG "fast" is short for "playing fast and loose with the truth". There now, doesn't that make it easier to understand? 

Fast and loose (2): Herbert Armstrong DID call Sabbath fasts. I remember one well: January 1, 1983. It was the first day I took notes in a WCG service -- and in Oklahoma, we heard a taped sermon from Mr. Armstrong warning the seventh revival of the Holy Roman Empire "COULD come in 1983!" Looking back, I don't think it did. But I just wanted to set the record straight on his comment.


Fast and loose (3): The weekly Sabbath is normally a time to feast, spiritually first and foremost, but also physically (in moderation, of course). The Bible also shows clearly that three men fasted on several Sabbaths each: Moses (who fasted 40 days on two occasions), Elijah, and Jesus. So there is ample biblical support for fasting on the Sabbath on rare occasions. See Exodus 34:28; Deut. 9:9-18; 1 Kings 19:4-8; Matt. 4:1-2; Luke 4:1-2.

Bruce Lyon

David Stone: I wanted to know if you have heard that David Stone the ex WCG Minster is dead? Do you have any information about him?

Mike Burgess

Freaky Flurry (1): Gerald Flurry's hysterical rant against Pope Benedict XVI reminds me of an old proverb. "Those who eat the Pope, die of Pope". Methinks "that prophet" will have a fatal case of indigestion any day now!

Steve Dalton

Freaky Flurry (2): Got a call from a PCGer who stated that this past week, they had a recorded sermon by Gerald Flurry. [Gerry] stated that a minister had sent him a letter claiming Gerry was the "Joshua" and that he needed to repent. Flurry went on to say (more like scream) that the minister had a demon and was now disfellowshipped, but refused to mention the name of the man. He also stated that he himself has nothing to repent of!!!!!

Well, I guess he has no need of taking Passover anymore. His followers must think he's perfect, like The Christ.


Freaky Flurry (3): So sin began with "Rock Around the Clock" (Demonizing Teenagers 6/15/05). Before that everyone was good and pure like God's end time apostle. That reminds me. When listening to the Beatles song "Sexy Sadie," which was originally about a religious leader with whom John Lennon had become disillusioned, replace the lyrics "sexy Sadie" with Herbert Armstrong. It fits perfect. 


Assyria: Along with British-Israelism, an equally fantastic fable underpinning Armstrongite prophecy is the identity of Assyria. According to Armstrongite "history", the Assyrians are supposed to be the modern day German people. Back when I first began attending the WCG, around 1967, I decided to do more research on this topic of Assyria. This was not a difficult task to undertake. I simply went to the University library, at the University where I was a student, and pulled some works on ancient Assyria off the shelf.

The ancient Assyrians left us pictures of themselves. Relief carvings are on display, for instance, in the British Museum. The Assyrians depicted themselves to be of the Mediterranean racial type. They have aquiline noses and very curly hair and beards. While pigment does not usually survive on relief carvings, there are ancient glazed tiles and pottery that add to this picture. The tiles and pottery indicate that the ancient Assyrians were uniformly brunette. Actually, they depicted themselves as having black hair. Anyone who would look at this material and decide that the ancient Assyrians were Nordic in racial type probably could never be convinced of the truth, no matter how conclusive the evidence. Is it surprising that these ancient Semitic people would bear a strong resemblance to other known Semitic people living in the Middle East? And show no evidence of looking like modern day Germans?

The Jews who are characterized as the Preservers of the Word of God, including Genesis 10, do not believe that the Assyrians are to be equated with the modern day Germans. They believe that the Germans are descended from Ashkenaz -- part of broad class of Indo-European people (Japhethic) that the Jews refer to as the People of the North. It is amazing that Armstrongites are enamored of all things Jewish, except where Jews identify modern races. Also, if the Germans are descended from Ashkenaz and are in the Japhethic branch of mankind, this casts a different light on other similar people of Northwest Europe. The true Assyrian people are alive and well and are a minority group living in Iraq. Many of them are Christian and they look like what they did several thousand years ago.

David Anderson

Dave Pack (1): As a freshman at the Pasadena campus of Ambassador College, I worked on the cleaning crew for a few months before being transferred to Data Processing. Once I was on an evening shift with Dave Pack. I think we were vacuuming in the administration building. We had crossed Green Street for some reason together, possibly to clean offices on the second floor of -- what was it -- Sturges'?

An outsider approached the two of us. Pointing to the attractive, unusual architecture of the Administration building, the stranger asked, "What sort of building is that?" Worldwide Church members of that era might have struggled internally, wanting to perhaps say something about being God's headquarters on earth, with God's apostle getting orders directly from God. Only you could not share these thoughts with an outsider.

Although I was the junior member of the custodian team, I said, "A office building."

David Pack said, "I would not have thought of that," apparently approving my deft answer.

And so, I not only worked "with" Dave Pack, I had the last word.


PS. What ever happened to Bill Pack?

Dave Pack (2): Leave it to David Pack to turn a so-called "heartfelt condolence" into a plug for himself and his own human ideas about what happened. He must really believe that he has a direct-line to God. He is becoming more like
his one of his major competitors Gerald Flurry. Yet, he criticizes him and his wacky ideas. It's time for a reality check, Dave!!! Since you and some of your so-called leaders elevated you to an apostle, your arrogance level has increased a lot higher than your soaring internet stats!!! You are the sole reason that people leave or don't come to your organization.  I only hope that you will keep putting your BIG foot in your mouth and also publishing stupidity like this so that people will not come with you or wake-up and leave. 

Maranatha COG: Yet another splinter group: http://www.maranathachurchofgod.com/

Michael A. Fenemore

Banana split: Your reference to Carlton Green's new book, What is the purpose of a banana?, reminded me of a great little article by Howard Baker, a former Ambassador faculty member, who also finds bananas appealing. It's titled "What is the right way to peel a banana?" and can be found at http://www.leadingtoday.org/Onmag/may01/hb-may01.html.


Forums: Enjoyed your recent editorial on the WCG+ Forums that are sprinkled about the web.

One thing you didn't really expound on though, and I think you could, is the value (or lack of) these forums. What are they there for? What's the purpose behind them? They are surely a major piece of any website who hosts one. They play a major part in the scheme. But they are all different -- doing things in a different way, for different reasons.

Since you're asking yourself, "Mike? Soooo... what value DO forums hold?" I'll say this.... Immense. There have been a lot of people over the past bunch of decades who were refused the very right to THINK for themselves...to voice an opinion, especially against Herb and Son. To do so was a definite trip to eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire. Your dating, your medical care, your choice of career, how you brought up your own kids weren't your choice, but Herb's. Enough and enough, I say. Atheist I might be, but c'mon! Folks have the right to be free to pursue their own beliefs!

These Forums hold the power to give folks a Voice -- Capital "V", for maybe the first time in their lives.... They are, for the most part, unmoderated, unfettered, and free to have their say. For once. Finally. Whether they are pro or con WCG+, freethinking like the PT Forum, or not, like some others.

The members? They may never write a book, ala Mrs. Brogaard. They may never send in an article to be published on a WCG+ website. But they MIGHT just see that they aren't alone, in their own thoughts.

And a forum provides just that outlet... I'd recommend your readers to go find one. Make a new friend. It happens! Run the gauntlet from the PT to CEM to JLF to the Yahoo Groups to the Alumni Forum... Absolutely do it! Reach out and talk and get to know one another... It's a damn Good Thing, it really is.

It's Empowerment. Finally. For all of us. Let's all be free and think.

Mike Minton
The Painful Truth

Master Moore: Canadian Church Director CEO Gary Moore now has finished a masters degree in Christian Studies from an accredited school of theology - Trinity Western University. Just imagine - real classes from real, actual PhDs with academic freedom, integrity. At Trinity, there would be no allowance for Ambassador-style scriptural exegesis coming from academic phony Herman Hooey; no homiletic practicum from screaming lunatic Rod; not even one course in advanced church funding from Osamu Gotoh. CEO Moore can now be proudly expected to think for himself with integrity.

Trinity University offers graduate courses in church leadership ethics, leading to personal convictions necessary to maintenance of integrity in a ministry. Integrity in a ministry - something Cultmaster Tkach needs Moore of, no pun intended. However, AC theology grads be forewarned. Former unaccredited AC grads should expect to spend a semester on academic probation. They then must then prove themselves worthy, good enough to make a defense of their approx. 25,000 words, 90 pages, master’s level thesis. Remember? Ambassador school chums Tkach and Moore attended Ambassador-Pasadena 69-73. Tkach, after failing in the ministry, next going through a nasty divorce, hedged his bets as he paid into social security at Intel. Canadian Director Moore, meantime, pastored nearly every church across the continent, jumping around every 1-2 years as headquarters played musical ministry chairs... Tkach in 1997 promoted his former school chum Gary Moore to Canadian Director, to follow his orders and shake the collections plate in Canada.

But will General Tkach allow Moore to publish his sermons on his own website? Where is the church freedom to write and speak as one believes? Most of what Moore is allowed to write is rah-rah cheerleader fluff bolstering Pasadena or some abstract reference to contemporary “postmodern” apologetics. Apparently, Moore said nothing of importance worth reporting about the changes at the 2005 National Ministry Conference in Alberta, either. Tkach, why not take your boot off the Canadian Director’s throat, and allow Moore to speak freely? Maybe the pre-approved, cult-censored sermon outlines are scripted directly from Pasadena, so Moore won’t have time to do too much thinking on postmodern apologetics for himself. 

Judy Collins

In divers places: A major Church of God proclamation that I have heard many times throughout the years is that there are more earthquakes now" than ever before, hence this is a sign of the end times. 

The chart is enlightening. It lists every "major" earthquake, i.e. greater than 7.0 and every "great" earthquake, i.e. greater than 8.0 since 1900. On average there are 19 major events a year and 1 great event a year. Also shown on the chart is a standard deviation line, a type of moving average that smoothes the data line and removes some of the year to year noise. Although somewhat random, there appears to be a slight 30 year pattern of "top to top" and "bottom to bottom" in earthquake activity.

It is curious that in its heyday of the 50s to 70s, the PT magazine proclaimed increases in earthquake activity when in fact, [the opposite was true]... We must conclude that there is NO evidence of increased earthquake activity in our time.

Bill Lussenheide

Port Austin (1): Concerning the effectiveness of AW: I was told today that Norman Edwards took a copy of Phil Frankford's posting concerning the fire in Dorm #3 to the fire chief and asked if he had authorized the statement. The chief said he had--the chief related this incident to me personally--and stated further that Edwards wanted the chief to retract his statement. The fire chief refused and said that the statement reflected the official report. Edwards then complained that he had people who wouldn't come because of what the post implied. The fire chief said that was not his problem.

Carolyn Smith Kizer

Port Austin (2): You ask... "Does anyone - apart from the principal players - actually care about the continuing circus in Port Austin?"



Jerry Gentry: As if Flurry and Pack weren't bad enough -- are you familiar with Dan Gayman and his church of Israel? Gayman's racist and anti-Semitic views were influenced by HWA. He was also the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations from Jerry Gentry, a multi-millionaire and former WCG member and PT writer. Gayman has also been associated with Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympics bomber. All in all, a nasty outfit. How do people fall for such vile garbage? 



Pack "tribute": Dave Pack was quick off the mark to post a tribute to John Ogwyn on his RCG website. The first paragraph was generous in its praise, but then came the sting in the tail:

Many are asking why deadly bacteria could be permitted to take the life of this fine servant. The answer is plain—but now is not the time.

Many are asking if Pack is indulging in a deliberate poaching expedition on LCG members, exploiting the Brookfield situation and now trying to press his advantage home by inferring that "deadly bacteria" have something to do with the legitimacy of Meredith's leadership (bad) as opposed his his own (good). Tacky Dave, very tacky.

CGI pastor Ian Boyne, who had earlier expressed his own condolences, took exception to the Pack statement:

Perhaps the finest tribute to Ogwyn's life and character is the fact that even the arch-critic and bellicosity-personified Dave Pack was forced to write a compassionate piece about him. How unusual I said to see a depoliticized Pack--until I read the last sentence!!!

Dennis Diehl, a former WCG minister who had a kind word for John Ogwyn in the last upload, also reacted:

This baiting [by] Dave at John Ogwyn's expense is sickening....

In the next upload we'll carry more from both Dennis (on the Pack strategy) and Ian (on the death of John Ogwyn).

Demonizing teenagers: The latest hilarious issue of the Flurry Trumpet is out, and features a lead article by heir-apparent Stephen Flurry entitled Youth Culture: spreading like cancer. In case you hadn't guessed, the subtext is sex and Flurry Junior isn't amused! It all began with Bill Haley and Rock around the Clock! That paragon of personal purity, Herbert W. Armstrong, exposed these evil influences way back in 1964 with his book God Speaks Out on the New Morality (actually Stevie, Herb was only a co-author, along with Ernie Martin and a host of others, though he snatched the full credit in later editions). On and on he goes. An evangelical church in Oklahoma is slated because - shock, horror - it has made its services appealing to youth! 

"Jesus Christ", booms Stevie, "is not encouraged by this trend."

On a related theme is an article by Fred Dattolo (formerly a Meredith minion, he later converted to the Flurry faction). Fred wants you to "Protect Your Child's Mind". A worthy motive. But, uh, where in the name of Freud did they get that photograph of the bloke with the oversized sword?



John Ogwyn: (UPDATED WEDNESDAY 7 AM NZ time) Leading LCG minister John Ogwyn died Tuesday morning. These comments from Dennis Diehl were written before the announcement.

I am sure John's handling of the events Brookfield has left him exhausted and put him at risk for such opportunistic infections as this. I hope he is taking the treatments offered as this is a particularly virulent staph infection under the best of conditions. If not, then that is his decision and we can only hope it really is HIS decision and not some conflicting view that after years of preaching to all that "we trust God only" for our healing, he feels stuck to act out the part. 

Knowing John in College, I wish him the very best and will have him and his family in my thoughts. I have set aside some time to concentrate on his needs in my own way and hope for his recovery from this often life threatening problem. The overuse of antibiotics in past years has produced this problem in treatment but our knowledge of how life works can still give us the tools we need to survive these things. Love and compassion to all concerned.

Ogwyn health situation update: It appears that John Ogwyn's health problems have taken a turn for the worse and may now be life threatening, according to a report on the Web. What began as a staph infection has become a good deal more serious, and Ogwyn, according to the same source, had not been taking the prescribed medication. 

The Plain Truth about Bananas: Carlton Green's new book, What is the purpose of a banana, is now available on Amazon. Green is an elder in WCG and former director of food services at Ambassador College. The book is about leadership and life strategies, and part of the proceeds of the book will be donated to the Children’s Hospital at UCLA, where Green, who holds a PhD in business administration, lectures.

The book is 74 pages long, hardback, and sells for $15.

FBI or just FIB? From the believe it or not department. How did Garner Ted Armstrong react when people asked him about that incident with the masseuse? We hear that the late evangelist responded at least once in writing to just such a query with a riveting claim: that it was an FBI sting - GTA, ever generous with his reputation, was just helping the FBI out!

You can view Ted's selfless deed by clicking on this link (QuickTime) or download the Real Player version over at The Painful Truth.



Fear Religion - Papa Gerry on the pope: Gerry Flurry has a word of warning on all things Catholic. The ESN site carries excerpts from a sermon transcript, delivered April 16th, called "Listening to the Dragon". The Mighty Prophet raised his voice and yelled during the address, according to the informant - not at all like the calm persona displayed on The Key of David. Quotes:

Israel is mesmerized by this funeral [of the Pope]… They’re actually excited about their own funeral… This funeral is just one big trap. It's a flood of evil. It is going to introduce the worst Pope this world has ever known--or even heard about! ... Well, he's going to be a murderer; he's going to be a liar; he's going to try to kill you... ...we're just getting ready for the final preparation to put Satan away for good--and the Catholic Church. Take a good look--study it carefully--scrutinize all that is going on, because this [Pope] is the last one you'll ever see on this earth ever! You can go to the bank with that statement.

Well Gerry, that's one prediction we'll make sure doesn't get forgotten. No wonder the PCG Pastor General is getting paranoid about his sermon tapes falling into the wrong hands!

BIFF *&%#! WHACK !@*$ POW &!!#: Just when you thought it was safe to forget Port Austin, Norman Edwards launches a new website and replies to his detractors.

First the website: http://www.portaustin.net/. It includes some nice photographs, including one of that celebrated baseball field looking in much healthier fettle. How long ago the photos were taken isn't clear. 

Then there's a response to some of the recent discussion on AW. Dr. Richard Griffiths approached Norm for his reaction. Rich writes:

I thought it was rather interesting that given the attacks on the condition of Port Austin facilities that the only pictures the prophet Homer Kizer could come up with were that of an overgrown baseball field that would take a day's work to clean up to have a softball game...

I asked Norm Edwards about the accuracy of the comments recently posted by Ambassador Watch from Phil Frankford and Carolyn Kizer. Norm responded... to specific points raised by these individuals. I thought Norm's last point was worth pondering by those following what is happening at Port Austin.

Here's Norm's version of events. A quick comparison with Phil Frankford's comments published yesterday show that the two accounts are difficult to reconcile:

Phil: The local authorities are requiring occupancy permits for [the] dorms.

Norm: Who are the "local authorities"? They use this phrase continually in order to avoid mention which government entity. Why? Because no government entity has contacted me about the need for occupancy permits...

Phil: This will be very hard to get with faulty wiring that caused one dorm to burn last winter.

Norm: Evidence of foul play at the scene of the fire in which my family was sleeping has now been found. Faulty or overloaded wiring was never a conclusion of the fire marshal or other investigators. You will note that Frankford/Kizer will not give the name of the person or the report that told them it was faulty wiring because it isn't any. Kizer wrote that it was faulty wiring on his web site even before any of the investigators arrived.

Phil: Also, the flooring in one dorm has fallen and could have killed anyone that might have been standing or sitting in the bathroom area in which it occurred.

Norm: The floor in question was the one in the building where Frankford used to live. The floor was spongy for months beforehand, a definite sign of trouble. Neither Frankford, nor Drieman, who was supposed to be the facilities manager, ever bothered to make the relatively easy trip under the building to look at the problem. By contrast, we are continually finding and fixing the various problems in the buildings that we discover

Frankford is exaggerating as a two to four foot drop does not normally kill anybody. It actually fell in two stages and the toilets remained in place. We will replace the floor before anyone else uses that bathroom. We have checked the other bathrooms and none of them have the same problem.

Phil: There [are] no dorms to stay in.

Norm: Dorm 1 is fine

Phil: There is no place to hold a feast [site].

Norm: The facilities we had last year, except for dorm 3, are available this year. Last year, we did not use dorm 2 (except that the Frankfords stayed there) and the others were nowhere near full.

Phil: The local authorities are very likely to condemn the place.

Norm: What local authorities? No one has ever spoken to me about this.

Carolyn Smith Kizer: The interesting aspect of Norm's PR announcement is that it came following Thursday's contact from the attorney for Terry Williams office arranging a meeting with Norm for Friday AM. A suit has been drafted... and the meeting was to offer Norm a last chance to pay Terry some of what he had lost when Norm re-filed the land contracts in his name sole. Norm needs to give Terry $110,000 within the next 60-90 days or suit and foreclosure will be filed... This amount does not resolve the issues with Frankford and Drieman...

Norm: I have been contacting Terry about repayment since October 31, 2004. One letter I received from his attorney in February and this meeting are the only two communications he has had with me during this whole time, even though I have written him at least nine times trying to arrange a meeting. Kizer/Drieman/Frankford have made "not talking to Norman Edwards" a part of their religion. Terry was Edwards' friend for three years, but now Kizer/Drieman/Frankford have discouraged Terry from attending any of his former congregations and from talking to anyone who knows both Edwards and Williams well... Left to themselves, Edwards and Williams would have worked this out together a long time ago. I am confident, that working with Williams through his attorney, we will come to a resolution.

Shouldn't Kizer/Drieman/Frankford be thankful that they are no longer responsible for such an "awful" property that they describe? Or are they simply angry at me, trying to destroy what I am doing, and telling whatever lies seem to work for the moment?

Since this was written a name has been provided regarding the faulty wiring (see yesterday's upload). Making light of the dangers of a "four foot drop" seems quite remarkable. And what does "evidence of foul play" mean?

In any event this bun-fight among former friends seems fully capable of going on for years, with charges and counter-charges flying back and forth. If nothing else, it provides a cautionary tale for others. 



Arson theory in ashes: There were strong suggestions from certain quarters that the fire at Port Austin some time ago was suspected arson. The implication was that the fire may well have been set by one of Norm Edward's former "co-trustees." The following information provided by Phil Frankford appeared on the MD forum last week. We have edited it for publication.

Fire Captain Scott Pfeilstucker, of the Port Austin Fire Dept, has made an unofficial statement and has given his permission to be quoted. He says that he wanted to hold his comments until after the State Fire Marshal has issued his report.

He says that from his first hand investigation of the Norm Edwards' dorm fire that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest or support any claims of arson. Mr. Pfeilstucker personally spent over four hours digging through the fire immediately after it cooled and searched for anything that would have even hinted at arson or the presence of any accelerant.

Mr. Pfeilstucker said that there were no traces of any signs of anything to blame the fire on except for careless overloading of old worn-out electrical wiring and by the use of too many electrical space heaters. He says that warnings of not to use these space heaters to heat dorms had apparently been disregarded.

Because there was no proper heating, smoke detectors, nor an occupancy permit for the dorms, officials could lay charges re. putting minor children in harms way. It is the responsibility of the person running a facility to take reasonable and proper fire safeguards such as having smoke detectors, a fire prevention plan, and a fire evacuation plan.

Earlier this Spring, Capt. Scott Pfeilstucker had to return to the campus property to extinguish another fire that was set during a 'no burn' period. A burn ban period was declared by officials because there was the likelihood of a fire spreading out of control due to the lack of rain.

It appears that Norm Edwards had taken a sofa out and set it ablaze. Capt. Pfeilstucker was called by another person of the local community [that is in no way connected to the churches] because he felt that the fire threatened to spread out of control.

Is this the Way? UCG has added a new arrow to its quiver. This is the way is a type of self-spamming tool. Sign up and UCG will send you a short message three times a week that advertises one of their lit-bits (bits of "literature"). Oh joy!

Ogwyn sidelined: High profile LCG minister and member of the sect's media troika John Ogwyn has a serious but undisclosed health condition that prevented him from attending the COE meeting in Charlotte last month. Apparently he is still unwell, a LCG announcement for June 2 notes: "he needs our fervent prayers that God will totally heal him... Mrs. Ogwyn [continues to give] constant care and help to her husband." 



normsbleachers.jpg (578017 bytes) looking from 3rd base to home plate.jpg (590841 bytes) team dugout down the left field line.jpg (696368 bytes) looking from third base to first base.jpg (604527 bytes)
Norm's bleachers View from 3rd base to home plate Team dugout on left field View from 3rd base to 1st base

Norm's Paradise II: Here at AW we're all very excited about the prospect of flying in to balmy Port Austin to keep the Feast this year with Brother Norm. The clincher came when we read Norm's letter which mentioned that PABC's outdoor facilities "include a lighted baseball diamond". We're putting together our own baseball team - The Gehenna Fireballs. Being Kiwis we don't know too much about baseball, but we're always keen to learn. After all, how different can baseball be to cricket? Douglas Becker has kindly agreed to be coach - though some of us are having problems understanding his accent, especially when he yells and throws things, which happened again today when Seamus asked a perfectly logical question about whether you go out for a duck after 3 strikes, and were there extra points for maiden overs.

Anyway, we were delighted to receive photographs of the PABC baseball ground. Once you see the fine facilities Norm is providing (the photos were only taken this week, just click on the thumbnails) we're hopeful many more will want to join us on the pitch following FOT services. Honestly, this venue is in a league of its own! 

Our thanks to Homer Kizer for the "publicity shots". Homer comments: I walked over to the baseball field that was part of the old airbase here at Port Austin and took a few pictures of what Norm Edwards describes as a fully functional recreational facility this morning. A doe and a fawn had been bedded in shallow center field. Otherwise, the field is deserted and has been for five or more years. There is more truth in the baseball field being fully functional than there is in any of the rest of Norm's PR letter. The pictures should speak for themselves.

Weekly Mailbag

Fast or Feast? Hey, what's with Clyde Kilough calling a fast on the Sabbath day? When I was in the WCG, I was told that it was inappropriate to fast on the Sabbath, which is meant to be a day of rejoicing and giving thanks for God's creation, not a day for mourning and sorrow. How can the UCG claim to be legitimately preserving The Truth Restored Through Herbert W. Armstrong (TM) if they think it is okay to fast on the Sabbath? ;-)

Jared Olar

Assyria the rod of mine anger: I was in the WCG-UCG for thirty years. It was the extremely carnal, murderous war-making legacy of Assyria-Germany that was lambasted. The Assyrians-Germans were never portrayed as “cursed seed.” And many peoples have been utterly cruel in their dealings with neighbors. The ancient Assyrians were known in history as one of the most brutal of conquering nations. They were greatly feared. So were the Germans in World War II.

In fact, often [Isaiah 19:22-25] was used in the WCG-UCG to show that God would use the Assyrians-Germans in the future as one of the leading nations in the coming Millennium...

Bear in mind also that some people somewhere are the descendants of the Assyrians (not just those few living in Iraq and the USA) even if it cannot be proven to everyone’s satisfaction that the modern Germans are their direct descendants. Is it racist to point out the clear Bible verses regarding whoever those descendants may be? On the other hand again, as shown in the above verses, there is no true racism if the Assyrians are shown to be among the leaders in the future once they have learned certain lessons as all humans must learn, according to the Bible.

Note that I am not a member of any group that looks to either of the Armstrongs as any kind of godly leaders -- they were not!

Bruce Lyon

Clyde's zeal sermon: And when Clyde opened the first zeal, I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, and Clyde went forth conquering and to conquer. And when Clyde had opened the second zeal, he took peace from the church, and they started killing one another. And when he had opened the third zeal, he said, "A measure of wheat for your tithe, and three measures of barley for your tithe". And when Clyde had opened the fourth zeal, everyone was on a pale horse because of too much fasting. And when Clyde had opened the fifth zeal, all the souls of those not in UCG were slain. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth zeal, that all the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men who knew Herbert gave all their wealth to Clyde to do the "work" as Herbert had done it. And when Clyde had opened the seventh zeal, there was silence in Cincinnati about the space of half an hour, and the Counsel of Elder started blowing the seven trumpets, saying, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, for now you will see all of Herbert's prophecies fulfilled!". And Clyde cried with a loud voice to the peons, "What will you do to stir up the seven zeals? Let us fast seven times seven!" 


Interfaith service: Regarding the Brookfield interfaith worship service I was heartened to see the community coming together to try to bring healing to those effected by the March tragedy. With the exception of a handbell choir (which provided a nice touch, I'm sure) I was rather disappointed at the conspicuous absence of a Catholic priest or other "religious" at this service. A Catholic priest or nun in attendance would have been quite appropriate in that Terry Ratzmann's mother is Catholic (apparently not practicing), and there is some indication (judging from a press report a couple of months ago) that Terry Ratzmann attended a Catholic elementary school at some time as a boy, suggesting to me that he may have been baptized Catholic as a baby. Regardless of the religious affiliation of any of the victims I think the presence of at least one person officially representing the Catholic community (even a nun from the local Catholic Social Ministries office) would have helped demonstrate that the Catholic community in that area (and it is sizable) had concern for any who have suffered as a result of the events of March 12.

Dennis Embo

Pack (1): I find it interesting that Dave Pack, Apostle just lately, of the Restored Church of God has stated publically that the Two Witnesses will come out of the the Restored Church and will have to be trained by the Apostle, which is of course himself. Heady stuff when you think about it and such talk would not make a clinical psychologist comfortable. It does seem to make his membership comfortable or they would at least ask a few more questions or leave.

Knowing the background of the Apostle David, and how his personality simply has never been able to either successfully be tempered nor his need to control others checked, I would like to make a prediction. 

Apostle David has never been able to work WITH others in his life. Others must work FOR him. Our presiding Evangelist, Roderick Meredith has the same trait, which is why the Apostle Dave and Evangelist Rod could NEVER have made it much longer together in the Living Church of God. Being second, much less third in line has never been much of an option for the either man. I have said it before, but it's worth repeating. I often heard RCM say that: 

"There is God the Father, Jesus Christ , then under Christ is Herbert Armstrong, Garner Ted , myself with the other leading evangelists following." 

I was 18 the first time I heard that and it made me wonder, but I put it out of my young mind. I wish the voice in my head had screamed at me a bit louder.

Therefore I predict, that time permitting, the day will come when the Apostle David either declares himself one of the Two Witnesses with "so and so" working directly under him, or he will declare himself BOTH of the Two Witnesses and save the quess work, the training time and the cost involved in putting them on the payroll. This way, the Apostle Dave will have complete control over them and their perspectives as they will be HIM. I would note that this does not really imply that the Apostle Dave, now both of the Two Witnesses will be under any kind of control. 

The other option is that it will all fall apart as one man show's are wont to do at times and we shall all see that a little genuine humility goes a long way and that a good counselor could have saved others a lot of money, time, effort and grief.

Dennis Diehl

Pack (2): Once again we see that Mr. Pack is trying to create a stir to get his "flat" website stats moving again. The website has apparently reached his saturation point. I have always heard that Psalm 91 is a reference to the "place of safety". Members of the RCG are putting their trust in [a] false idol... David Pack isn't their Savior and Protector... Jesus Christ is!


Disinformation? In your June 2 posting ... you had a link to a website collecting monies for printing a German booklet. I noticed that the blog on that website has a recent entry about a failed UCG amendment, apparently in reference to something that AW or some other anti-COG website had posted. Congrats to the elder behind this website for being willing to share the information with us lowly members!

Paul Stevens 

AW: Paul Kieffer is the elder. He seems to be saying (without actually saying so) that there was never any rule change mooted that would have stopped non-salaried elders from serving on the COE. If so, that's utterly remarkable. And he's accusing us of running disinformation?



Merle is feeling haggard: Music legend Merle Haggard is on a bit of a downer. The long-time fan of the late Garner Ted Armstrong misses his spiritual mentor. Although Haggard never joined the WCG or either of the Tedster's splinters (CGI and ICG) he obviously valued the Oregon-born evangelist as a religious lodestone in his life. These comments from a Chicago Sun Times report.

Merle Haggard is carrying around the chill of an early fall. He sits in his Silver Chief tour bus before a show at a country dance hall on the west side of Indianapolis. Autumn's shadows cut through the drawn window blinds on the bus.

Haggard bows his head as he talks about friends who have died over the last few weeks: country singer Floyd Tillman, evangelist and television host Garner Ted Armstrong and Johnny Cash. A framed picture of Haggard's late fiddle player Jimmy Belken, who played with the band from the late '70s until the mid-90s, blesses the front of the bus. It is twilight.

Haggard's face seems to be chiseled from slate.

"I'm sort of in denial," he says without looking up. "Marty Stuart wanted to take me for a private moment at Johnny's grave. I said, 'I think I'll just leave him and June down in Jamaica in my mind.' I may completely swear off funerals. I'm in the age bracket where there's one every day.

"Right after Johnny died, I lost a real close friend in Garner Ted Armstrong. He was like a professor to me. What education I have, I owe to him. There was a period where I didn't even want to watch the news to see who else was gone. They got two of my spiritual leaders in about three days." 

Blog on! More blogs from former WCG members: http://lifeafterwcg.blogspot.com/ and http://www.angelfire.com/or2/thelordisnear/harlan.html. The former is by Felix Taylor, a very decent and thoughtful guy who is always worth listening to. The latter is by a chap (Harlan Simantel) who began his spiritual journey in the dank and dismal dungeons of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, graduated to the padded cells of the WCG, was briefly spotted straddling the razor wire around the Moonies security wing, before finally reaching re-entry into reality. We're pleased he did, because he's got some worthwhile things to say.

Major "Monty" Cox's Incredible Flying COG: Atten-SHUN! This is to announce that there is still a chance to contribute information pertaining to Wade Cox's Christian Churches of God. Last month we invited readers to email a researcher  (coxcult@ambassadorwatch.co.nz) with any pertinent information about this group. Our researcher advises that the request caused a minor, ahem, storm. Just as well he was wearing his gumboots!

cccp.jpg (38612 bytes)The Full Monty: On a completely and totally unrelated note, Douglas Becker has discovered the newest COG: The Christian Churches of Christ in Prophecy (CCCP!) The leader of this pack, that most celebrated scholar Wayne Toxic, has eschewed such titles as Pastor General, Presiding Evangelist, Prophet and Apostle, and modestly adopted the honorific "Disassembler General". Mr. Toxic's latest inspirational epistle to all true believers can be found on Douglas' site.

Brookfield in retrospect: Exactly what the Living Church of God thought about an ecumenical service held on Monday night is uncertain, but some of the Brookfield survivors were apparently scheduled to attend. Excerpts from a June 3 report.

Candles will be lighted, prayers intoned and thoughts spoken on Monday night as people from throughout the immediate area and beyond gather for an interfaith worship service in Brookfield to come to terms with the specter of violence that shook their communities earlier this year...

"I think when we made the national news and this issue was being broadcast all around the world, it did hit home to people that we are connected to the folks who deal with the issues of drive-by shootings and random homicides in Milwaukee much more than we think we are," said the Rev. Marianne Cotter, pastor of Brookfield's Trinity-Pilgrim United Methodist Church and an organizer of the service. "And sometimes we who live in the suburbs can have the illusion that we are not affected by these things, but, in fact, we are. That day was a painful reminder of that."

Some members of the Living Church of God who lost family members or friends in the attack are expected to attend...

Presenters at the service will include Rabbi Steve Adams of Congregation Emanuel in Waukesha, the Rev. Mick Roshke of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Milwaukee and Dave Stevens, a noted Christian Science speaker from California. Other participants will include Cotter, the Rev. Ron Retherford of Community United Methodist Church in Elm Grove, the Rev. Gary Liedtke of Calvary Lutheran Church in Brookfield, Suzelle Lynch, minister of Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, and Mina Khorshidi from the Baha'i faith community. Music will be provided by Fran Brown of Congregation Emanuel, the handbell choir of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Elm Grove and a choir made up of members of local congregations.

It's a generous and compassionate response from people of faith in the Brookfield community. We imagine Rod Meredith will be somewhat flummoxed, however, at this turn of events. 



Norm's paradise: Judging from the spin in Norm Edwards' recent email epistle, the Port Austin Bible Campus (formerly a military base) is the next best thing to Club Med.

PABC has dormitories for single men and women, and separate living units for families. A central dining hall is available, but some units also have kitchens. PABC has facilities for web site design, magazine production, printing, music recording, auto maintenance, culinary arts, construction, building maintenance, grounds maintenance and other areas for vocational training and working.

Year-round recreation facilities include a gym for basketball, volleyball and hockey; a racquetball court; a 2-lane bowling alley; and a game room. Outdoor facilities include a lighted baseball diamond, tennis courts, volleyball, horseshoe pits, a campfire pit and a playground. PABC is only a mile away from a public beach and marina on Lake Huron. 

Sounds an idyllic spot to celebrate the FOT, or send your teenagers to gain vocational qualifications. But not everyone is as enthusiastic as Norm. Phil Frankford, one of the individuals involved in the earlier Sabbatarian Community, posted these comments on the MD Yahoo group.

The local authorities are requiring occupancy permits for [the] dorms. This will be very hard to get with faulty wiring that caused one dorm to burn last winter. Also, the flooring in one dorm has fallen and could have killed anyone that might have been standing or sitting in the bathroom area in which it occurred. (I've got actual pictures of said damage so that folks won't accuse me of fabricating these claims.)

There [are] no dorms to stay in. There is no place to hold a feast [site]. The local authorities are very likely to condemn the place. And, Norm refuses to get insurance to cover any personal liability.

...last year [Norman Edwards] told us in no uncertain terms that this was HIS feast and it was God's way of financing HIS ministry. 

Carolyn Smith Kizer had these comments to offer:

The interesting aspect of Norm's PR announcement is that it came following Thursday's contact from the attorney for Terry Williams office arranging a meeting with Norm for Friday AM. A suit has been drafted... and the meeting was to offer Norm a last chance to pay Terry some of what he had lost when Norm re-filed the land contracts in his name sole. Norm needs to give Terry $110,000 within the next 60-90 days or suit and foreclosure will be filed... This amount does not resolve the issues with Frankford and Drieman... 

Meanwhile, back in Cincinnati North: Remember CN? That's the congregation that tore apart just last year, with one part going independent and another remaining tied to UCG. This update comes from a reader.

It was announced last week that Matt Fenchel (Jim O'Brien's replacement as pastor of the UCG-Cincinnati North) was asked to transfer, and he refused. Instead, he will go on a years sabbatical, where he will pursue a degree in accounting. 

Note: We can't help wondering if this is a paid sabbatical? How will Matt support his family if it is not? It's interesting to note, that when Jim O'Brien was told he would be transferred he came up with several reasonable options to keep his full-time employed wife employed and two locally enrolled college students in school, but none of those options were considered. Instead, he was fired. Matt Fenchel gets a year sabbatical . . . where can we sign up for that?

Strumpet call: Gary Scott has gazed into his crystal ball and brought back an article yet to appear in the Philadelphia Trumpet. Dated 2009 it begins: With the death of Pope Benedict XVI this week, the world anxiously wonders who will be the next pontiff. Regular Trumpet readers certainly realize the prophetic significance of Benedict XVI and his unceasing support for and efforts toward European unification, and while regular readers know what to expect in the coming weeks, months, and years, the world is in for a big surprise. 

You won't want to miss this one... the complete text is at XCG.

Out the back of beyond: It's not just Americans who found bizarre splinter sects. Somewhere in the fly-blown outback of Her Majesty's largest antipodean dominion is a certain group led by a self-crowned authority. We'd get more specific, but why give the guy publicity? Anyway, it helps to know that Douglas Becker is probably talking on the identity of this bloke in his latest offering on Cult Abuse - a satirical piece that captures the very unfunny thrust of the original rant. It seems there's a need for the Glorious Leader to straighten out the rabble about the need to keep those dollars rolling in, despite having convinced a few (in a serious burst of foot-in-mouth) that they needn't tithe on Sabbatical years. Douglas has the story.



Phoenix rising over Port Austin: Norm Edwards has been keeping a low profile for some time. The Servants' News newsletter and website have been long mothballed, and, while we've heard plenty from Homer Kizer, Norm's intentions post-PASCC have been unclear.

That has just changed. Norm has issued an email to past contacts announcing his new corporation: The Port Austin Bible Campus is a non-denominational Christian community with the primary goal of providing biblical life skills to young people. The methods used at PABC are not traditional classroom schooling, but the method more commonly used by Elijah, Elisha, Jesus and His disciples in the Bible: working and living together to accomplish the desired goals.

Can you hear sirens wailing and see red lights flashing?

PABC does not have specific semesters or terms. Some people will come for a few months, some for a few years. They may stay as long as they and the community are benefiting one another.

While specific ministry and vocational skills will certainly be taught at PABC, the main emphasis will be on basic life skills teaching a successful Christian way of life.

Among those "basic life skills" is number 7: Living at peace with others: using Matthew 18:15-17 for good relationships with friends, workmates, bosses, subordinates, etc.

Oh, hey, could it be that Norm will take that class? And how about number 17: Investments: why it is best for people to find an investment, rather than to have it find them.

But wait, there's more!

PABC is funded by offerings and the efforts of those within the community. Many times, the money to pay the necessary bills comes in just as they are due. It is not a place to relax and take it easy. It does require living by faith in God. But frugality is honored at PABC. Everyone is expected to work hard and produce a lot with a minimum of resources. Those interested in giving should realize that their dollar goes a long way here--it is helping to make solid Christians out of our young people.

What about the financial issues created in the wake of the PASCC fiasco? We understand a number of people were left seriously out of pocket.

The reality may well be that Norm is left holding the goods, but not the goodwill. AW is aware of people who formerly supported Norm, but were hugely disillusioned when PASCC fell apart with division and contention.

Norm's FOT: But "what, me worry?", there's a festival season ahead, and PABC is gearing up to meet the need.

Everyone is invited to attend the Feast of Tabernacles 2005 at the Port Austin Bible Campus. The traditional Hebrew calendar dates of October 18th through 25th will be kept, but those observing other calendar dates are equally welcome.

As one wit observed, you might like to bring your own fire extinguisher.

Sabbatarian Sound and Action: Holy Mother Church (that's COG7!) operates Spring Vale Academy, its own high school. SOUND is their touring musical group and ACTION is their touring drama group. Norm prefaced his PABC PR with an innocuous announcement about the Sound and Action touring schedule, leading up to the COG7 General Conference later this month in Denver. They may not be the Vienna Boys Choir, but some AW readers may be interested in showing their support for these young people. Details of dates and contacts follow, as provided in Norm's mailout.

Wed June 8, 7:30 pm LaPuente, CA Pastor Jose Guerrero 626-915-6086
Fri June 10, 7:30 pm San Jose, CA Pastor Jesus Garcia 408-947-8051
Sat June 11, 11:00 am Lodi, CA Pastor Loren Stacy 209-368-1000
Sat June 11, 6:00 pm Sacramento, CA Area Churches at Las Cruces Pastor David Kauer 916-967-9804 & Pastor Jerry Camero 916-837-8567
Tue June 14, 7:00 pm Harrisburg, OR Pastor Glen Palmer 541-995-8003
Wed June 15, 7:00 pm Portland, OR Pastor John Lemley 360-699-1638
Fri June 17, 7:00 pm Marion, OR Pastor Dale Lawson 503-769-6636
Sat June 18, afternoon (call) Gig Harbor, WA Brother Ken Durham 360-874-6959 & Pastor Brian Larson 360-278-3076
Sun June 19, 4:00 pm Walla Walla, WA Brother Dennis Wallen 541-938-5455
Mon June 20, 7:00 pm Spokane, WA Pastor Carl Palmer 509-482-7128
Tue June 21, 7:30 pm Nampa, ID Pastor Larry Childers 208-465-0661
Thu July 7, 9:15 pm Denver, Colorado, at the Church of God Seventh Day General Conference. Office: 303-452-7973.

Civil Liberties Union backs UCG case: Sometimes it's tough being a good COG member, and unfortunately it can be tough on kids too. An Indiana 6th grader faces expulsion for bad attendance because his mother is a member of the United Church of God. AW carried a link to an earlier report on this case in November last year. This update, dated May 20, comes from the Northwest Indiana Times:

The parent of a sixth-grade Lowell Middle School student is suing to allow her son to be excused to attend religious pilgrimage to Branson, Mo. next fall.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union filed a civil rights action against the Tri-Creek School Corp. on behalf of Ruth Scheidt and her son to stop the school district from expelling the boy for missing too many school days.

Scheidt, a member of the United Church of God's Munster congregation, alleges the school district is discriminating against her religious beliefs.

Her church considers Christmas and Easter pagan holidays, but does recognize annual holy days such as: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day in which members and their children are commanded by God to attend.

The Civil Liberties Union is asking U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon to issue a preliminary injunction stopping the school from disciplining her son. School policy doesn't recognize such special church services as excused absences.

The United Church of God, based in Cincinnati, has 20,000 members worldwide. Tom Kirkpatrick, the church's business manager, said about three-fourths of the church's members attend the Feast of Tabernacles, which is held at sites throughout the world, including The Wisconsin Dells, Branson, Mo., Panama City, Fla., San Diego, Hawaii and Alaska. He said the emphasis is not only on worship but on family time, so many feast sites are in recreational areas so families can get together.

Bob Thiel on Pack sermon: LCG member Bob Thiel has issued a comment on David Pack's "Brookfield sermon".

In that message, David Pack essentially stated, "The people with brotherly love need to be careful about pontificating about what happened here...None of us {RCG members} were there...I married a Milwaukee girl...The Church has sort of had its 9/11, its 3/12...the whole church...we thought another splinter would bring this...We have to ready for what's going to happen later...All over the world this was big news within a day...A demon possessed or deranged individual cannot murder one of the people under God's protection on the street, let alone in church services...You don't die in God's Church [service], it doesn't happen...There is an accuser of the brethren...And the people of brotherly love does not do it...It just cannot happen brethren...We are talking about a deranged gunman or a demon-possessed. It cannot happen...The cause was a very bad event. The result was persecution...I'm not trying to accuse anybody"...

David Pack specifically mentioned that there was a circle of protection and some in the church (presumably RCG) will have it, and those outside of God's circle of protection (he specifically indicated other COGs and those in no COG) must understand these crucial distinctions.... Apparently RCG is concluding that the events on the Brookfield shooting are not the type of tribulation, distress, peril, or the sword that can affect RCG.

Meanwhile the inimitable Kscribe has provided an apt commentary of his own on the bull-roaring contest Pack has instigated with LCG.



Teflon God? Wendy Kaminer has written an article on the Brookfield tragedy from a Secular Humanist perspective. Excerpts:

On March 12, 2005, Terry Ratzmann strode into a church service in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, hotel and started shooting. He killed seven people, including the pastor, and injured four. Ratzmann and the people he shot were members of the Living Church of God, described in the press as a small, relatively insular, Christian sect marked by a belief in the coming apocalypse, the subordination of women, and a strict set of dietary and behavioral rules. Church members (who number about seven thousand) are expected to date and marry within the faith and are discouraged from seeking professional help for psychological problems. Ratzmann apparently had his share, but he concluded his shooting spree by killing himself, offering no explanation for his rage...

Perhaps there's some truth in the following observation:

Speculation about the relationship between church dogma or culture and Ratzmann's homicidal fury was aired briefly in the mainstream press along with descriptions of the Living Church of God as "cultish." The challenge that religious violence poses to simplistic equations of religion and virtue is evaded when the religion in question can be dismissed as a cult or a fringe group. You can avoid examining the potential dangers of religious belief by crediting "true" religions for virtuous behavior and blaming "false" religions for vice. Indeed, if the Living Church were on the fringe of the New Age instead of evangelical Christianity, conservative Christian commentators would likely have used Ratzmann's shooting spree as an occasion for expounding on the evils of occultism and pop spirituality...

The full article (it's actually quite brief) can be found at secularhumanism.org (you'll need to scroll down once the page loads).

UCG passes the plate to sell BI to "Assyria": Why UCG would want to publish a German edition of their Herb-cloned BI booklet is uncertain. Dear Germans, you are the cursed seed of Assyria, about to be pawns of Satan and his demons. How exactly would you break the news to them nicely? Yet UCG is about to sail forth with their racist claptrap firmly in hand.

Translation and typesetting... for the German version of the booklet "The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy" are nearing completion. The booklet is scheduled to be printed in late summer. UCOG is sponsoring a fundraiser to provide $5000 to help pay the printing costs for this 48 page booklet, the largest that the Vereinte Kirche Gottes ["UCG-Germany"] has printed to date. The forerunner of this booklet was the most frequently requested publication in the German language.

Most frequently requested publication? Who says Germans don't have a sense of humor! Somewhere in Düsseldorf right now there's got to be someone who's dragging out the older booklet to a chorus of oohs and ahs in order to liven up the conversation at a dull party. Wunderbar sauerkraut Helga! Here Heinrich, have you seen this? It's from some geisteskranke American church which thinks we're the Beast power! 

And UCOG? That's United Christian Outreach Germany. UCG elder Paul Kieffer is the fellow behind this organization. What's interesting is that UCG isn't bankrolling the complete costs, so UCOG is underwriting the production. This may be because of constraints on churches in Germany and other parts of Europe. However, the use of a nifty barometer to inspire donations is a unique touch! Perhaps Paul could let us know when the cake stall will be held.

Journal site doubles traffic: Alan Ruth, webmaster for The Journal (published by Dixon Cartwright) has announced that website traffic for 2005 has already passed the records established for the whole of 2004. We currently rank The Journal at 15 on our list of the top 20 COG sites (based on Alexa rankings). Alan Ruth also manages biblestudy.org, which we rank at number 4.

Weekly Mailbag

The Packatollah (1): I read Dave Packs statement about God surrounding his church and no harm will come to them... He must not have read that John the Baptist was beheaded and he was sent by God. And what about Hebrews 11. the faith chapter where it talks about all those people martyred. That's is in my bible. Maybe he has a different bible... Sometimes God allows those things to happen for His purpose to be worked out. 

Reta Kelley

The Packatollah (2): Gary Scott mentions that Dave Pack was dismissive of the Milwaukee UCG pastor's plans to have an outside counselor at his service. Pack would never allow an outside counselor at RCG services. [Perhaps] Pack knows that he would be the first to be placed in a straitjacket and be carted off to the funny farm. Isn't megalomania a mental illness?


The Packatollah (3): Did David Pack really say in a sermon, "You don't die in God's church"? Then where, pray tell, is Herbert Armstrong? Not to mention (ahem) Jesus?


AW: In part Dave was rambling on about Psalm 91 (e.g. verse 7: A thousand shall fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it will not come near you.) Specifically, he seemed to be talking about "a circle of protection" during church services - his church services.

The God That Prevailed: Thanks for the fair, and overall, positive review. I have to agree with you on the typos and edit gaffs. Had I closed the story up at the point where my wife and I left WCG for a Protestant body I might have entitled the book "Armstrongism, It's Rise and Fall: A View from the Cheap Seats" because that's the perspective I wanted to share. My experiences through the '70's, '80's, the transition from Armstrong to Tkach I and II, was told from the perspective of one of the ignorant sheep; ignorant of all the goings on at HQ. And, like a lot of WCG members, could have cared less. Perhaps we should have, but that's another book. Fact is, a lot of WCG members I knew during the '90's transition years got their spiritual "feeding" from a lot of evangelical radio ministries like Charles Stanley and Chuck Swindoll. In fact, one of the most popular books among the rank and file was Chuck Swindoll's "Grace Awakening." I could site many other examples... In any case, thank you for reading my book and putting a decent and balanced review up on Ambassador Watch.

Dennis Embo 

Making a hash of Hashimoto: Whether Satan is responsible for Terry Ratzmann's behavior may be a moot point, however to blame his actions on Hashimotot's thyroiditis is irresponsible and ignorant. I discussed this with a doctor who does cancer research and is a Professor of medicine at a University and this is his response:

Irrelevant. No excuse at all. ..........(name of another practicing doctor) has Hashimoto’s (very, very common and benign) and ..... hasn’t so much as raised.....voice in anger though ..... has more pressure on ..... than Ratzmann ever carried. This single guy was obviously at least a borderline personality disorder if not an early schizophrenic.

P.S. I have omitted the names of the two doctors for obvious reasons.

May I suggest that you check his family background to see if he was swatted on the bum for wetting his pants, or he lost his kitten or puppy when he was a child or maybe the stars were not in the proper alignment for him to function properly. Surely there must be another sane acceptable reason in addition to his being a member of a church (which of course is always suspect among the panjandrums who frequent your website).

AW: Point 1 - it's Hashimoto, not Hashimotot. Point 2 - while not everyone with this condition has a problem with depression, many do (http://thyroid.miningco.com/blcohen.htm?pid=2750&cob=home). Point 3 - the statements we cited belong to Jay Findling, physician and director of the endocrine/diabetes center at St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee. If you wish to characterize him as "irresponsible and ignorant" may I suggest you retain a good lawyer first. Point 4 - thanks for the term "panjandrums". It means "pompous, self-important officials" and is an ideal way to describe the two-bit mandarins who rule the roost in several COGs.

ID and creationism: Why is it that "creationists" trust in science when they drive their cars or fly in planes and use medicine? Because the science behind those things is reliable. It's true that research has improved, for instance, cars but the basic theoretical principles of motion and physics are still true. The Theory of Evolution is a fact. New research has just changed the understanding of how it happened. If a god or gods created the Universe then they used evolution to accomplish it.


An unjust God? In the May 28th AW Mailbag, Richard A. Dahms recited several of the expired, unfulfilled prophecies of Herbie and his lackeys. In conclusion Richard said: “Time has shown Herbert W. Armstrong’s fear religion business to be a fraud. Can you imagine being a child in the Worldwide Church of God (Fraud) growing up in that era and hearing these lies preached? How anyone can still believe God inspired the words above unless one believes in a cruel God who enjoys playing practical jokes on people by inspiring his alleged true ministers to say such false words?” 

I suggest that the same observation can legitimately be made about the entire range of Christian (and other) religion industries. There is no reason to limit it to Herbie’s particular brand of financially profitable irrationality. The “Old Testament,” in particular, is filled with fanciful stories and “divine” instructions, some horrendously cruel and sadistic; and some just silly and illogical. Consider the following:

1. The prophesies recorded in “The Infallible, Inerrant Word of God” have been, in numerous instances, proven to have been made after the prophesized event had already occurred. Even Herbie, insofar as I know, didn’t try to use that technique. If he had, he could have been right at least once!

2. The sordidness and bloodthirstiness of large portions of the holy book are evident for all thinking people to see. As Thomas Paine said: “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more the half the Bible is filled it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God.”

A relatively tame example is to be found in Psalm 109, wherein the writer prays to the Almighty God to, with respect to the writer’s enemy (“enemy” not in a personal, but rather corporate, military or ethnic sense): Let his children have no father and his wife be a widow. Let his children wander lost, begging for their food. Let his property be stolen and his work be ruined. Do not let anyone help his father and his children. Let his children in
generations to come be cut off. Let their names be blotted out. Let the sins of the fathers and the mothers harass the children down through generations.

What would you think of a man who instructed his followers to attack a particular village, to kill not just its able-bodied male defenders but to slaughter, without mercy, every aged person, woman, cripple, child; every blind or retarded individual; every babe in arms, after which the village, dead bodies and all, is to be put to the torch? Surely, most would agree that such a man is deranged and/or sadistic. But what should one think when confronted with the fact that the leader who again and again issued precisely such orders is – at least according to the holy book – the Lord God himself?

Indeed, Herbie had no exclusive franchise to, and was not the original architect of, the “fear religion business,” as Richard termed it. Excellent and highly readable references on this topic are Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason” (in three parts), and Steve Allen’s two books: “Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, & Morality” and “More Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, & Morallity.”

Bob Gilbert

Art attack! The Church very, very effectively utilized artwork created by Basil Woverton as an effective ad tool for getting the message across. He was used to frighten the living heck out of thousands of impressionable minds with his memorable garish images into fearfully donating their millions! A really good story image is worth a thousand words, or if you like, a million dollars, or worth as much as and millions more than three Ambassador College(s), Lear Jet and Auditorium. 

On the other side, Ambassador Watch has an equally talented pool of creative audience willing to catch the eye and get the message out. Using the three stooges image on the website is very effective and appreciated. Such an editorial cartoon approach in AW might even tend to humble the stratospheric vanity of some of the more toady egos, not to mention the jealousy, lust and greed of the evangelist rank ministry household names, who no doubt read AW with tremendous interest. As the orders are passed down below, the evangelists want only one-way image propaganda from their pastoral rank golden mouth on high to the sheeple in the church to follow with absolute, blind obedience. Without question, survey, input, or vote.

So, how about having the talented readership send in cartoons? Funny caption photos? Put up a picture, do a caption of the month contest with material like "Honey, I personally plagiarized every word of it (PT)?" Or perhaps an image of Joseph Tkach in prison stripes behind bars with the caption "I am not a crook" ; or maybe morph Tkach's mugshot into a Werewolf ravishing the Church. What an excellent use of bandwith! It could be funny, too. We could use a guffaw now and then, Gavin. We can top the usual propaganda these guys expect us to believe and repeat about our saintly dictator(s) for life! The dictator needs a spanking!

M Cunningham

AW: Amen! I'm willing to go with a caption of the month contest, but someone else has to do the grunt work... I've run out of hours in the day! 

Open and shut policy? In reply to SS, the LCG ... closed door policy is a new one. I asked my minister about this again and he reconfirmed the edict from Charlotte... Also I have been with LCG almost since the beginning and did see this policy at the Feast last year in which a member was told on the opening night... that this meeting was for "Members Only" (the gentleman replied for all to hear "The last I checked I was a MEMBER!") This member was dressed to the hilt including cuff links so it was not that he looked too out of place, [and] he was talking to several brethren at the time.

Rod II



Circle of protection? Big Dave Pack wants you to know that God has drawn a "circle of protection" around his true church. Big Dave has been reflecting on the Brookfield events. Dave is an expert. He was once in the very room those shootings occurred in. This was the Church of God's very own 9/11. A demon cannot murder one under God's protection. "You don't die in God's church." "You believe it or you don't." "The discerning of demons is a gift." The reason Terry Ratzmann killed those people was that God's authority wasn't there (in LCG). These events occurred, says Dave, outside the Body of Christ, outside God's circle of protection, outside the Pack cult. You can hear the entire sermon, if you have the stomach for it, on the cult website.

Gary Scott comments: 1. Pack claims in the message that the shooting was big news “all over the world.” Well, I beg to differ. 2. Pack referred to the fact that the UCG Milwaukee’s pastor had asked a counselor to be there for the next weeks’ service. Pack dismissed it as bringing in a worldly counselor. Which means that mental illness is all but certainly going untreated in the RCG. Big surprise there. 3. Pack claims that no one in God’s true church as ever been killed by a rampaging demon, that such a thing is impossible given God’s “circle of protection.” This is to reassure his flock and to set them apart—it happened near God’s people, but not to them. In other words, Pack used the tragedy in yet another attempt to prove his pathetic little church is God’s only true church. (from a May 28 XCG blog entry)

Pack "statistical explosion" tested: Meanwhile, the Apostle Dave appears to be beside himself with glee.

Website Statistics: We are pleased to announce another record for downloads in one week—surpassing by far all earlier figures: 70,427 items were taken from our websites (TheRCG.org and RealTruthMag.org)—this is more than 10,000 items per day, and annualizes to 3,672,000! (Updated informational graphic.)

A truly immense Work is underway, and this phenomenal growth is occurring only in The Restored Church of God. Keen observers in the splinters will see that these numbers cannot result from mere human effort, but are just another proof of which Church Christ leads. (May 27 RCG update)

Oh really? AW now tracks the fortunes of some 40 COG websites. The RCG has admittedly done well in contrast to similar cults such as PCG, and is the 8th ranked on our list, currently sandwiched between CGI and AW. But Alexa reveals that realtruthmag.org is modestly ranked at 604,230; well outside the top half million sites on the World Wide Web (number 20 on our "top 20" COG list).

More sobering still is a close look at the trends. Alexa's traffic details for thercg.org indicate that the Pack site is slipping: down more than 65,000 in traffic rank over the last 3 months and down 12% in reach per million users in the same period. The magazine website has made gains, but is still well behind Flurry's Key of David, for example. 

June Book Club now online

A truly immense work? Not quite. All those "items" Dave boasts of seem to include graphics and other bits and pieces, not just page views (let alone unique visitors). The Pack webmaster needs to gird his loins and go forth to explain what those "statistics" actually mean to his Lord and Master... but would Big Dave have the foggiest idea what he was talking about? 

Details on the Alexa rankings for COG sites at the end of May are now available.

The God That Prevailed: While tens of thousands have left the Worldwide Church of God in recent years, few have chronicled their personal journey in detail. For this reason alone, Dennis Embo's story will be of interest to many past and present WCG members. Read the review, now posted in the June Book Club.

Clyde's zeal appeal: Clyde Kilough's zeal sermon is online at UCG's website, complete with a musical introduction from the Young Ambassadors - oops, ABC choir. It's hardly inspiring stuff. "What will you do to stir it up?" Clyde asks. Hmm. Seems that Clyde and the lads have dumped all the stirrers already. "Y'know we have scoffers and we have critics..." Do tell! Could it be, Clyde, that some of those folk - former members and ministers of UCG - are the prophetic voices you were meant to listen to?

Hypocritters: Hypocritters are pesky pests which infest various religions, but are most pernicious in the church of gods. The problem with these critters is that they make so much noise and attract attention with what you would think is the least of reason. They are high maintenance and demand a lot of resources without providing all that much in return. They expect you to trust them, but the second you turn your back they've done something else to cause you grief. They seem so innocent and reasonable, but they are actually vicious predators who can rip you to shreds and embarrass you grievously.

That's the opening paragraph in Douglas Becker's latest online offering at Cult Abuse. The site has had a bit of a makeover too. As for hypocritters, be warned: They appear benign. It is often only when you see your own blood in the pool at your feet that you realize that you have been had.

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