July 2005 - Issue 63

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

email AW at editor@ambassadorwatch.co.nz 

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Thursday July 28

Here's another site for the worshippers of Herb to dance around the sacred bulldust.

LCG minister Glen Gilchrist's condition has improved according to a message from his wife Diane posted on several websites.

For the lowdown on Flurry Town click across to the Lake of Fire, home of PCG 101.

Tuesday July 26

The Big Sandy campus of Ambassador College was taken over by ALERT, an enterprise that seems every bit as scary as old-time AC. A disturbing mix of goose-stepping military college and back-woods fundamentalist fanaticism... nestled on the shores of Lake Loma. Read their website and weep!

Oh boy, a cool new game! Hide & seek with Apostle Dave! Could be the biggest thing since Scrabble.

Sunday July 24

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The anonymous ACD blog item on circumcision (see yesterday's upload) now bears the name of Ken Westby.

Saturday July 23

With 210 votes in, 188 respondents in Thursday's poll (below) believe that Joe Tkach has failed to do a competent job as Pastor General (89.5%) while 22 felt he had. This poll will still be active for a day or so.

Dennis Diehl confesses to an unusual addiction problem in his latest column, and your humble editor is unmasked for the nefarious character he really is.

Two new titles have been added to the Dateline Pasadena Collector's page.

Kudos are due to the Living Church of God for again publishing a full financial report in the latest Living Church News for all to see. If both LCG and UCG can do this, why can't the reformed WCG? (Incompetence? Stupidity? Arrogance? Embarrassing details? Sheer bloody mindedness? All of the above?)

PGJoe.jpg (7922 bytes)

Wednesday July 20

Aw shucks, here's a really nice site - lots of beautiful pictures of what was once Ambassador College. And to think it's fallen into the hands of the Philistines!

The remarkable 18 page independent newletter Church of God News, edited by Steve Kieler, is available online in PDF format (it's also in HTML - but looks pretty awful). Slick it isn't, but there's a certain down-home charm with a whiff of corn grits.

Tuesday July 19

Worth hunting down is this issue of New Scientist (July 9) which features the creationism issue. The text of the main article is available at rense.com

Across at the Painful Truth they're featuring a new editorial on Human Nature that's worth checking out. There are also some useful tips for anyone setting out to write a letter to the PT - and most of it is directly transferable for AW... except the advice about double spacing at the start of sentences. This is definitely a single space zone. 

Recently featured

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Henry Sturcke interview

AW Resources:

Book Club (July issue now available)

From the Fringe

DP's collection (recently updated)

Sunday July 17

William Dankenbring, the former PT writer who launched a solo career as a prophetic prognosticator, reportedly moved with wife Cappy from Pasadena to Omak, WA in June.

AW is now listed by Alexa in the top quarter million sites on the World Wide Web, one of  only 7 COG sites ranked at 250,000 or better. The others are UCG, WCG, biblestudy.org, The Good News, Reluctant Messenger and Tomorrow's World.

Doug Ward has an interesting entry on XCG about the connection between Messianic Jewish churches and former WCG members.

Saturday July 16

Ian Boyne, CGI's minister in Jamaica, comments on Live 8 and African poverty in a recent Jamaica Gleaner column. It makes an interesting contrast to the foam flecked right wing cant that passes for political commentary on places like ACD. 

Thursday July 14

Something new on the Lake of Fire blog: Profiting from Death.

Over at XCG there's a nice commentary on the latest member letter sent out by Apostle Pack to the tithe slaves.

Have you got your order in for the latest Harry Potter? Gary Scott offers some thoughts on the J. K. Rowling series - also on XCG...  

Saturday July 9

How long since you darkened the door at WCG services? Gary Scott recently visited and shares his impressions on XCG.

And then there's this cautionary tale for the sheeple.

Friday July 8

A little ancient nostalgia from Big Sandy is available on Donald Neff's website

Saturday July 2

An obituary for Big Sandy identity Bob Worthen appears on the Longview News Journal website.

There's a new offering over at Kscribe's website. Taking a break from his focus on HWA and the COGs, the latest video is called Silent Warrior, and covers missionary influence on Native Americans.

Friday July 1

From the Tkach weekly update: I spoke with Mrs. Isabel Hoeh’s oldest daughter, Karlene, and discovered that Mrs. Hoeh has been recovering from pneumonia. Her general health has declined. So please, join me in praying for her health and that she can enjoy the company of all her grandchildren as she is now 81 years old.

Benny Hinn's preaching has graced the hallelujah halls of many a city - including Pasadena's Ambassador Auditorium. But, alas, the mighty faith warrior was seriously hosed off on his recent tour of Nigeria

The latest issue of Faith Networks is now online as a PDF file. The cover article is by David Antion, with other contributions from a variety of independent COG writers including Jim O'Brien, Guy Swenson, Ron Dart and Pam Dewey.

Bryce replaced: In a move that has caught many observers off guard, the Living Church of God announced in a bulletin dated July 29, that Charles Bryce, Director of the Church Administration Department, has been replaced.

Bryce's involvement in the disfellowship of minister Ben Faulkner has been a source of distress to many members, still coping with the fallout from the Wisconsin slayings earlier this year. Concerns about Bryce's actions and influence first surfaced on AW in a July 20 report.

AW correspondent "Libro" filed this update:

Seems like the sudden spotlight has got Charlotte squinting. All of a sudden, Charles Bryce is being sent to Texas to fill John Ogwyn's shoes. Lambert Greer, the regional pastor who was going to replace Ogwyn, won't have to move from Kentucky after all.

The really interesting thing is that all of this seems to be completely out of the blue. Bryce's removal from Charlotte is immediate -- so immediate, in fact, that he can't even stick around until Doug Winnail comes in from England to replace him as Director of Church Administration. Dibar Apartian will manage the churches in the meantime, for the next month and a half. Winnail gets to drop everything he's been doing in Europe and Africa and start packing, with no announcement yet of who will fill his shoes across the pond. Greer, as already mentioned, was getting ready to move to Texas this fall. So despite Meredith's comments to the contrary, it appears nobody was expecting this two weeks ago.

So what kind of man is Dr. Douglas Winnail? His sermons usually revolve around the importance of Obeying God's Government Without Question No Matter What. The most vital thing in his sight, it seems, is to never ever leave The Church, though he does acknowledge the existence of genuine Christians in other Church of God groups. Time will tell whether Winnail's leadership will be more benign than Bryce's.

Kudos to Ambassador Watch and the rest of the XCG community for helping bring scrutiny upon LCG's leadership. The balance of power has shifted in LCG...

We can only hope it has shifted for the better. As this upload was prepared there was no comment on the COGwriter site.

The following letter is to be read in all LCG congregations this Sabbath.

Dear Fellow Ministers and Brethren,

I want to announce the transfer of Mr. Charles Bryce from Charlotte to become Regional Pastor over the Southern region of the Living Church of God. Mr. Bryce has considered this option for some time and has written me twice in the last several months suggesting this as a possibility. With the untimely death of Mr. John Ogwyn, we have an “opening” in the Dallas/Gladewater area and the entire Southern Regional Pastorate. There is a crucial need for a capable, caring minister to fill this role. So I have asked Mr. Bryce to assume this responsibility and he now plans to continue helping us here for the next several weeks in the transition period and then plans to move to Tyler , TX to assume his new post.

Mr. Bryce is a native Texan. He has worked long and hard in Christ’s ministry and I hope that this less stressful responsibility will work well for him and his family as he approaches  his 65th birthday. I am sure all of our prayers will go with Mr. Bryce and his entire family as they move to Texas .

Mr. Lambert Greer and Mr. Ken Frank will not be moved but continue in their present responsibilities. 

After much discussion with our Headquarters Evangelists and other leaders, I have decided to appoint Dr. Douglas Winnail as the new Director of Church Administration. Over the next several weeks, he will wind up his responsibilities in Britain . He plans to move to Charlotte in early September. He, too, needs all our prayers as he assumes the important and stressful responsibilities of overseeing our churches and our ministry all around the world. Mr. Dibar Apartian as Assistant Director of CAD will fill the gap in Church Administration until Dr. Winnail completes his move to Charlotte . I feel that both these moves will work for good for the entire Church. We must move forward as a “team” to finish the Work to which the living Christ has called us.—Roderick Meredith



Double dissing: Time to play "spot the difference". First, a message from Chucky.

We regret that it is our duty to inform you that based upon biblical instruction an ecclesiastical determination has been made to disfellowship and mark Mr. and Mrs. Ben Faulkner for the spiritual protection of our members. Therefore, for your own spiritual well-being, you are advised to refrain from contact with these individuals, including attending any meetings held by them or their representatives (Romans 16:17-18). He is no longer a minister and they are no longer members in the Living Church of God. We bear Mr. and Mrs. Faulkner no ill and we should all pray that God would grant them repentance.—Church Administration Department

Next, another message in this week's in-tray. This time it's a message for Chucky:

NOTICE OF DISFELLOWSHIPMENT AND MARKING: We regret that it is our duty to inform you that, based upon biblical instruction and good common sense, an ecclesiastical determination has been made to disfellowship and mark Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bryce and the Church Administration Department of the Living Church of God for the protection of the members, the body of Jesus Christ. Therefore, for your own spiritual, physical and financial well-being, you are advised to refrain from contact with these individuals, including attending any meetings held by them or representatives. Romans 16:17-18, Eph 5:11, and Rev 3:11. They are no longer ministers or members in the Church of God. We bear neither the Bryces nor Living's Church Administration Department any ill and we should all pray that God would grant them repentance. - The Brethren, Church of God

The Faulkner issue is foremost in the minds of many LCG members at the moment if the number of Google searches using his name is any indication. 

100th Journal now out: The May 31 issue of The Journal is in the post, and it's the auspicious 100th, though Dixon doesn't seem to have broken out the champagne and kippers. There's a lot in it, though, that will interest members and friends of the UCG, with detailed reports on the recent presidential conclave. Also included is a review (modified from AW) of Pam Dewey's Wild World of Religion book. You can download the front and back pages online. 

The Connections section is the usual curate's egg. Noteworthy is a full page ad from Pleasant Hills Christian Church, Harrisburg PA (a COG7 congregation) promoting their own FOT observance. A gaggle of very Rabbinic-looking gentlemen appear in a smaller ad placed by CRMI. (Imagine, spending a week in Jerusalem having to listen to Yair Davidy? Who says there is no hell!) The usual host of luminaries have deigned to cast their pearls upon the waters (or is that bread before the boars?... or bored?) - Art Mokarow (2 pages), Raymond McNair (3 pages), Don Billingsley, Arlen Berkey, Jan Aaron Young (1 page each)... but, of course, the only thing in Connections you really should read is the gentle humor of Darlene Warren!

Weekly Mailbag

Ben Faulkner (1): Thank you for the info, it is a shame that the people in charge of these organizations refuse to let us poor common folk understand what is going on. We are kept in the dark and told when we will be told and what we will be told and why like poor blind dumb sheep. Thank you for informing us as to what they, the Leaders, refuse to tell us.

I am curious as to WHY Ben Faulkner, a really nice guy, was disfellowshipped and Marked by Living.... seems a little extreme. And why so much seems to be happening to the TIP OF THE SPEAR POINT, and why they don't think maybe just maybe GOD is trying to tell them something. Maybe because they are just too damn arrogant. Anyway, thank you.

Ron Bryant

Ben Faulkner (2): According to information I have received, Ben Faulkner, a Living Church of God pastor in the Central Florida area, has been 'marked' by Living Church of God, and has been accused of starting his own radio program, and quite possibly seeking to start his own group. What truth is there to this information? Was Mr. Faulkner the source of the information that the head of ministerial services for Living, Mr. Bryce, is usurping a large amount of power due to the increasingly unsteady health of Dr. Meredith?

LCG (1): There is a lot of shakeup on the LCG web page, A friend of mine has been taking them to task about their articles and booklets, as well as sermons. He told me that he has been going through all their stuff for the last ten years and has been hammering at them to make changes for quite some time now. I don't know if he has been disfellowshiped yet, but I imagine it is coming soon. Even with his limited resource material, he has made LCG look bad as they have made up stuff (Big Surprise), as he has proven, as well as taking things completely out of context (another big surprise)... he has alluded that it was the same in WCG up to the time Spanky left. Anyway they have pulled a lot of the material off the web, and actually changed some...

rod 2

LCG (2): Your article on LCG's very own Meredith trying to "lighten" the load hits a thought I've been thinking about. It seems like religion is enforced by the whiners and whingers. Orthodoxy is all about whinging about others lack of commitment. Zeal gets defined as being a whinging fool. The same sort of thing seems to reign in home owners associations, but that's another topic. There's no feedback mechanism in religion to keep the whiner/whinger crowd in check. Yet plenty of mechanisms to reign in the raging liberal.

"Remember those days when the women had to wear burqa's and nobody looked at our wives? Ah those were the good ol' days! Lets get the mullah to declare a fatwah!"

Rod having a church full of whingers, seems almost like karmic justice!

Bill Ferguson

LifeNets responds: Just thought I would clarify...the recent report which contained the supporters list was the 2004 Annual Report. This report was in the works for months before it actually came out. The supporters list included those who made donations in the year 2004. Clyde's involvement would be in the year 2005. And not everyone who talks about LifeNets would be included in the Annual Report, but those who actually make a donation or volunteer in some respect. So I would expect that Clyde and Dee [Kilough] will be mentioned in the 2005 report.

Sue Johns
LifeNets Board member and current secretary

AW: No doubt there'll be a lot of folk rushing to make sure they get a mention next time around  ;-)

Joe (1): Of course Joey boy isn't a competent Pastor General. A pastor is one who cares for and protects his flock and he has lost just about the whole flock! I enjoyed Dennis Diehl's column, "Just Don't Inhale" as I can relate to it. And as one who has been blocked from sending e-mails to the COGwriter site I particularly liked the part about Bob Thielium. Good job!


Joe (2): Thanks for the survey. Email the surprising, astonishing results to Honest Joe with a retirement card, pink slip, dunce cap, confetti and a noisemaker. But don't expect him to retire anytime soon until the bankroll is about gone...


AW: It'd be nice to have have published the rest of your letter, but there are, of course, still those (allegedly) ethically challenged lawyers you refer to!

Raleigh reaction (1): Yes, what "Jim" say is pretty much the case. When my wife and I left WCG in summer of 2000 the Raleigh congregation was down to perhaps forty-five to fifty members attending. "New" members consisted of those who happened to be WCG members who relocated to the area. Things did not look promising. It appears things are looking up for them five years later. Just as well that Joe & Co. are on the opposite coast. No telling what havoc might ensue if Joe Tkach pulled a Rod and moved WCG operation to North Carolina.

Ironically, though, as far as local WCG congregations go (in the U.S.) the Raleigh, NC congregation can probably boast of more per capita conversions or reversions back to Roman Catholicism than any other local WCG congregation. At least that I'm aware of. Believe me, I've looked. There are at least seven of us. Those are only the ones I know about. There might have been nine except one couple (so I've heard) opted for one of the Lutheran bodies.

Dennis Embo

Raleigh reaction (2): I lived in Carthage, Missouri when [Don] Mason was the "pastor" there. There was a situation where I wasn't getting paid by my employer, also in the church, so I took the problem to Mason. He sided with my employer because they were both AC buddies. During the meeting, Mason went to the kitchen and told my wife privately that I was going to the lake of fire... His daughter died of appendicitis back in the days when Herbie wouldn't let us go to doctors.


ALERT (1): After having a few years of interaction with the International ALERT Academy at Big Sandy (I am editor of the county-seat newspaper for the county in which ALERT is located), I can say that they are fine people who truly strive to live their view of Christianity. They also regularly do good works, such as earlier in July when they sent teams at the request of local governments to help with storm/hurricane cleanup in parts of Georgia and Florida. Teams from the Academy have helped with cleanup from ice storms (in Oklahoma and possibly other places) and have been of help, when asked to, quite often. Their search teams are regularly called upon by our local and other Sheriff's Offices in Texas for help in finding missing persons or evidence. While they also have church services and Bible studies on their campus, their cadets also regularly attend various churches, both near the campus and as far away as Longview (about 20 miles away).

If the COGs had to lose the Big Sandy campus, they couldn't have lost it to a finer group!

Mac Overton

AW: I'll take your word for it Mac, but then again...

ALERT (2): The information on the ALERT website makes its origins very obscure. But it was founded by and is supported by the ministry of Bill Gothard. Shortly after Gothard's ministry acquired the AC campus in 2000, someone suggested I look into that ministry's history as part of my Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion website. I was very disturbed by many things I found, and decided to dig deeper. I found an Internet forum populated by former Gothard followers, and have been receiving posts from them since late 2000. The forum threads read like a clone of exWCG forums. Gothard is every bit as much a megalomaniac as Herbert Armstrong ever was, and his teachings and policies have been just as radical and abusive and sometimes just plain nuts as some of those of the "old" WCG.

Sample: Gothard has taught that David's daughter Tamar was "responsible" for her own rape by her half-brother, and she thereby "brought shame" on her family. He has taught that a woman whose husband viciously beats their children to the point of severe physical abuse in the name of "punishment and discipline" should never interfere to try to protect them. Her ONLY recourse is to offer to take their place in the beatings. Obviously, divorce is out.

Married husband or wife new "converts" to Gothardism who may have had birth control surgery are strongly pressured to have the surgery reversed ... no matter how many children they have, what their family financial circumstances, what the health concerns of the mother may be. And all of that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Gothard's ministry encompasses a number of outreaches. The oldest seems to be the "Seminar in Basic Youth Conflicts" program that has been offered to the public since the 1980s or earlier. It purports to give wise advice to parents, based on the idiosyncratic teachings of Gothard ... who has never been married and never had kids.

The main branch of the ministry now seems to be the "IBLP," Institute for Basic Life Principles." It's aim seems to be to proliferate Gothard's teachings on "Character." If you've seen signs in various cities and towns around America designating them as "Character First!" cities, you've seen the tentacles of Gothard. He has a Christian program related to a Home schooling branch of his ministry that promotes teaching various "Christian Character Qualities" to kids based on materials that use animal metaphors to drive home the qualities under consideration. Since "Christian" materials are not acceptable in most public school and community settings, the material has been re-written leaving the name of God out, but keeping all the idiosyncrasies of the religious program. Scary indeed.


AW: Pam has provided this quote from a news article in a Michigan paper in April 2000 about Character First!:

Twenty second-graders at Holcomb Elementary School in Detroit gather to learn about character--as it relates to a chipmunk. An instructor stands with her cheeks puffed out in front of the class and mimics how the animals carry nuts to their den for the long winter. It's a demonstration of orderliness, a trait chipmunks need to survive.

It's also a demonstration of one of the hottest and most-debated trends sweeping public schools as parents, teachers and administrators wrestle with ways of short-circuiting student violence... a debate is raging over whether character should be taught at school, and if so, who should teach it. "It's up to the parent to teach values, but so many or our parents aren't doing it. So the kids may have to get it from the schools," says Marie Going, 24, who has three children in Detroit schools.

The program used at Holcomb and nearly 800 elementary schools nationwide is called "Character First!" Critics say the program, which stresses obedience to all authority figures and was developed by an ultra-conservative Christian minister in Chicago could lead to the teaching of religion in public schools. It raises questions about the separation of church and state.... [ AND, notes Pam, can lead to even more sexual abuse of children by authority figures, who are to be obeyed *without question* by children.]

In February, Republican Michigan State Rep. Valde Garcia proposed a bill in the Michigan legislature to require character education in each of the state's public schools by next fall. He and several House members have introduced a character development bill that refers to "Character First!" by name... Similar debates have been waged in other states, including Oregon and Florida, before laws requiring moral training in public schools were enacted. Florida dropped a reference to "Character First!" before passing its character bill.

The minister behind Character First! is Bill Gothard, 65, whose Institute for Basic Life Principles is based in Chicago. Gothard says more than 2. 5 million people nationwide have attended his seminars.

Gothard has centered his teaching on the aspect of authority. He instructs his followers to obey all authority figures-- parents, bosses, and political leaders-- because those figures are ordained by Christ.

Critics believe that the Character First! curriculum is based on Gothard's values, which he says are rooted in a literal interpretation of the Bible. The minister believes that the Bible says women should be submissive to their husbands, the drum beat in rock music is Satanic, and adopted children carry the sins of their biological parents.

The Character First! program does not contain any references to these beliefs or to God, Christ or Satan. But Character First! volunteers, or "character coaches", typically are teenage members of Gothard's church and are homeschooled with an educational program developed by Gothard. In the classroom, they illustrate animal survival traits to teach obedience, generosity, attentiveness and other values.

As part of a lesson on obedience at Holcomb, the children are told to chant: "Obedience heeds wishes of authorities; and obedience will follow orders instantly. Hup, two, three! CLAP."

Character First! seems to tell children to forfeit their individuality, Detroit Public Schools board member Bill Beckham says. "It's promoting a boot-camp mentality," he says, "where the children can become rote beings."

Despite the criticism, Character First! has flourished. Since its inception three years ago in eight Oklahoma City Schools, the program has spread rapidly. Many parents and educators say character education is filling a void left behind when religious beliefs were taken out of the public classroom, says Joel Smith, an administrator with the Character Training Institute in Oklahoma City, where Character First! volunteers are prepared.

Beware the list! Who are the many that will come and deceive? God has made it easy for us by inspiring Dixon Cartwright's "The Journal" and his "The List". They also serve as the obituary and the morgue for the Church of God. You might not want to get too close because the stench is horrible. The body is so mutilated that if we didn't know who it was before, we wouldn't recognize it now. The body will remain in the morgue pending the return of Jesus Christ to identify the few who still represent the body in spirit. Weeping, wailing, and the gnashing of teeth will be allowed at that time for those who have neglected so great a salvation.


AW: Uh oh... AW appears on that list. I feel a sudden urge to gnash!

Circumcision (1): You write: “Given that Paul's letter to the Galatians is universally regarded as both authentic and one of his earliest, and given the apostle's vehement rejection of circumcision, you might think the practice would be a non-issue in the Churches of God.” There is no qualification here about what kind of circumcision you are talking about. Since the New Testament talks about both physical circumcision as a religious rite and also as a spiritual condition, then these comments to me seemed incomplete at the very least.

My point re the above quotes is that they focus mainly on the physical aspects of circumcision, at least as far as I can tell. Paul was against the physical rite of circumcision as a requirement for salvation -- absolutely! Acts fifteen starts right off with this theme and results in the conference later in that chapter... But, Paul was not absolutely against physical circumcision itself. That is made plain in the very next chapter AFTER Acts 15. A “vehement” rejection of physical circumcision in and of itself is not at all accurate...

This was no requirement as a religious rite in order to be a Christian as was made plain in Acts 15. And, yes, this was not abrogated for Jewish Christians yet. Reading the rest of Paul’s writings, it is clear to me that there was further doctrinal development along these lines to the point that I certainly believe that physical circumcision as a religious rite is not required today for anyone whether Jew or Gentile. Since there are secular Jews who no doubt are also not circumcised, then they do not have to be physically circumcised first in order to be Christians. I believe there is a God. I believe the Bible is His Word and that He has had no problem preserving His Word even through human hands. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I do not regard physical circumcision as a bad thing in and of itself.

But, since God no longer requires it as a religious rite, and He nowhere says that is a required health measure, then to me it is a non-issue. But, to claim, or imply, that physical circumcision is somehow bad in and of itself makes no sense since God for hundreds of years required it of all male member of His nation of ancient Israel. 

Part of the problem, as I see it, to the whole confusion above is that there are several contexts... 1) The physical rite of circumcision as a religious requirement in the Old Testament. 2) Spiritual circumcision as a spiritual condition in the New Testament. 3) The ACD blog. 4) Physical circumcision as a health issue.

Bruce Lyon

AW: What do you do with Philippians 3:2-3? "Be on your guard against those dogs, those who do nothing but harm and insist on mutilation - 'circumcision' I will not call it; we are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, whose pride is in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the physical." (Revised English Bible)

Dogs? Mutilation? Sounds pretty vehement to me.

Circumcision (2): Concerning your cutting remarks about Ken Westby’s circumcision piece: come on! You claim Galatians contains a “vehement rejection” of circumcision: false. You accuse Westby of “confusing [circumcision] with other issues (like abstinence)”: also false. It is you who got the issues confused.

Paul’s issue in Galatians is not whether circumcision is good or bad (nor, for that matter, whether the Law is good or bad) but whether it is a prerequisite to salvation in Messiah. He's venting his frustration at teachers who would exclude the uncircumcised from baptism and fellowship. The proper rendering of Gal. 5:12 seems to be: “I wish they would castrate themselves…” You’ve heard of hyperbole, right? Westby didn’t “confuse” circumcision and abstinence; he placed them side by side as two biblical practices which both make sense, both reduce disease, and are both opposed by liberals. (That’s not to bash liberals, just to make an observation.)

Westby never argued that circumcision is necessary for salvation, only that it is a wise practice for hygiene and health reasons. Isn’t that at least worth consideration, even if it is in the Old Testament? (The OT also says murder is bad. Do you take that to mean murder is good?) It is a shame you chose to knock over a straw man instead of challenging the actual argument. Circumcision is not “mutilation” and is probably far less painful than the modern, and far more harmful, practice of sticking needles into babies and shooting pathogens, foreign DNA, and other contaminants into them (commonly called “vaccination”). This would be a more fruitful target for he wrath of the anti-circumcision crowd. Look, for instance, at the now well-documented links between common vaccines and autism and autoimmune diseases. And you're worried about a foreskin? 

And finally, I suspect that most of those who rail against circumcision, if not women, are men who have unfortunately been denied its benefits. Well, here's one guy who has no complaints whatsoever!

David Harrell 

AW: I'm sure we're all relieved to hear that, David. One can only imagine what they'll be talking about over coffee at the Active Bible Church of God this Sabbath...

Obviously this particular issue could rage on and on in the mailbag, but it's hardly central to AW's purpose. But before the correspondence closes, here are a few useful web links to consider.

On the Biblical issues around circumcision: The NT & circumcision, Answers from the Bible to Questions about circumcision (particularly relevant), and What the Bible reveals about circumcision and sexual violence.

On the medical issues: Recent medical studies on circumcision



A Herbal birthday treat: The last day of July is, lest we forget, the birthday of God's Sole End Time Apostle. Born July 31 1892 in Des Moines, there would scarcely be one AW reader whose life was not impacted by the shaking jowls and lurid prophetic speculations of this remarkable man.

To mark the occasion of Herb's 113th, there's an upcoming audio visual "tribute" over at Kscribe's place, and it'll be released on The Big Day. 

I will have a big birthday bash for Herb on July 31st. In this video you will see all those dinner table items that Herb spent the big bucks on. You will be allowed to break bread and fellowship with Herb and all your other fellow guests! You will experience a world class performance from the great man himself as he bangs up the keys on his piano like you have never seen him do before! Be there and help us celebrate Herbert W Armstrong's "Big Birthday Bash"

Raleigh rallies: Suggest that there are no WCG congregations that are growing, and you might hear a loud objection from the general direction of North Carolina. Jim, a member of the Raleigh church, reports that his local congregation, which meets on Sunday, has nearly doubled in attendance over the last 3 years to now stand at around 90 on a typical week. Moreover, Jim says that things are looking good in other parts of the mid-Atlantic district with several other congregations showing significant growth.

This region tended to be the first to move to worship on Sundays as we are deep in the Bible belt and everything is geared around going to church on that day. We get lots of visitors and have added several families to our congregation over the last few years since we stopped meeting on Saturday.

Raleigh is pastored by Don Mason, and the congregation (Celebration Christian Fellowship) was featured in the February 2003 Worldwide News. It was described there as diverse and multi-cultural, with members from Japanese, Jamaican, Indian, Caucasian and African-American heritages. Mason is described by a former colleague as "a very laid back guy."

We'd be interested in hearing about any other WCG congregations that are growing.

Catholic convert's story online: Dennis Embo's story of his return to the Catholic church has been featured on a leading Catholic website, www.catholicexchange.com. It's a thumbnail summary of the story Dennis tells in his book The God that Prevailed. AW's review of Dennis' book is available here.



Gerry's Edmond Empire: AW's veteran correspondent, Dateline Pasadena, found this recent press release from the Flurry cult to be a comedy of errors:

World Class Auditorium Planned for Imperial Campus: On August 24, a month after Imperial College acquired a 9-foot Hamburg Steinway grand piano and a pair of Persian candelabra, officials began talks with architects to begin planning of a new auditorium on the IC campus. In June 2005, Foundation officials finalized the plans—designed by the Oklahoma City-based firm Rees Associates, Inc., also responsible for designing the Rose State Performing Arts Center in Midwest City. The planned 850-seat auditorium, inspired by the incomparable Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif., will be a true gem in central Oklahoma and will house the piano and candelabra. The auditorium will sit on the southeast corner of the campus—near the Bryant Road entrance to the campus.

So what's the problem: "the two candelabra that he calls 'Persian' are French Baccarat crystal. They were not made in Iran, but were only used by the Shah in 1971. And as for the piano... well it is considered so outdated that the auctioneers recommended that it would only be suitable for rehearsals or private home use."

Another Flurry promo:

Piano Competition Winners: To showcase the new Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano, the Philadelphia Foundation is planning on more solo piano recitals. The Foundation is forging a relationship with two prestigious international piano competitions—the Cleveland International Piano Competition and the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. A Philadelphia Foundation solo concert appearance will be part of the gold medal prize package for each of these competitions. The winner of the 2005 Cleveland competition will likely perform in the spring of the 2005-2006 season of the PFCS. The Gina Bachauer competition is bi-annual: the next competition is in 2006. The PFCS hopes to host that winner sometime in 2007.

What are these cultural groups doing cuddling up to Flurry's philanthropic front organization? Here's a great chance for those who know something of the true nature of PCG to take some positive action by expressing their disquiet to those who run these competitions.

Matt Fenchel

Bye bye Matt: Pastoring UCG's Cincinnati North congregation seems to be the kiss of death. Remember Jim O'Brien? More to the point, remember his replacement, Matt Fenchel? This is the guy who ran around in mad circles bravely trying to hold things together despite everything Richard Pinelli and the lads at Home Office had already done to "fix" things. Now read this statement from President "Nehemiah" Kilough in his July 22 encyclical:

Another personnel change that will be taking place concerns Matthew Fenchel. Matt has worked the last seven years at the home office assisting the president and Council of Elders, and teaching at Ambassador Bible Center. He was offered a transfer back to the field ministry (having previously pastored congregations in Germany, Washington and Ohio). However, due to personal reasons, Matt did not want to undertake a move at this time. After cordial discussions it was agreed that the best course of action would be his transition from paid ministerial employment to the noncareer ministry, which will commence in mid-August. 

Bruce Porteous notes: that's a nice way to say "you're fired!"



Honey, I shrunk the church! So when will Joe & Co. move into their new Glendora offices? No time soon it seems. The following item comes from a posting on JLF: 

According to [an informed HQ source] there are NO [WCG] congregations in the US that are growing. They continue to close down churches and lay off ministers. WCG is having a huge conference in Palm Springs this coming August for all the paid ministers. They are going to be there for a week. Then they are busing them to Glendora to see the new building. They cannot even get the permits they need to start remodeling the building for move-in status. So WCG is going to spend tons of money to bus people to see an empty shell.

Spit 'n vinegar: Following AW's item on Meredith and Bryce the following comments appeared on one of the news boards:

LCG has many of the same problems that plagued WCG because it structured its government more or less the same way. This suited their purposes when Rod Meredith was younger and still full of spit 'n vinegar. But now that he's getting older and more feeble things are on more shaky ground.

Meredith has been slowly liberalizing things in LCG over the past few years. I know that may sound shocking to those who remember him as Iron Rod, but it's true. Certainly his enemies know it. Dave Pack and Gerald Flurry salivate every time Meredith gives a sermon that lightens up on something because they know it will send a few more LCGers in their direction. The result is that there has been a steady trickle (if not an outright flow) of die hard Armstrongites leaving LCG for either Flurry's PCG or Pack's RCG.

This has created a certain amount of distrust, which could possibly lead to some kind of revolt or split. I believe Charles Bryce is setting himself up to be the heir apparent, but if things fall apart he may be the heir of a great pile of nothing. If LCG implodes, their members will scatter. The die-hards will go with Pack or Flurry, and the rest will either go with UCG or scatter to the winds. If Charles Bryce tries to set himself up as King Charles, I don't think many will follow him. 

Paul on circumcision:

I could wish that those who are unsettling you would go further and mutilate themselves.

Galatians 5:12
(New Jerusalem Bible)

ACD's mutilated gospel: Given that Paul's letter to the Galatians is universally regarded as both authentic and one of his earliest, and given the apostle's vehement rejection of circumcision, you might think the practice would be a non-issue in the Churches of God. Not so. Ken Westby's ACD blog, which has a reputation for lunatic fringe rhetoric, has just run an extensive entry on the subject, praising the practice, heaping invective on any who dare think otherwise and confusing it with other issues (like abstinence).

This isn't a new problem. The UCG in Australia pulled the December 2002 issue of The Good News because an article by Noel Horner implied circumcision was one of the seven "Crucial Biblical Keys" to "Vibrant Health". In most Western nations circumcision is widely regarded as unacceptable, a view which even resonates with many Jewish people today.

This particular blog entry is, unlike most others, unsigned. It seems ironic, given the subject, that the anonymous writer didn't have the cojones to put his name to it.

Weekly Mailbag

Co-workers: Mickey asked about what made one a coworker in WCG. The official rule (and I worked with Donation Mail, so there) was if someone gave twice in any six-month period, one was a coworker (unless of course one asked to be removed from the list and stop getting the letters). It was supposed to make a person feel all warm and fuzzy, being a Coworker with Herbert W. Armstrong.

Maria Stahl

Mighty Joe and the missing updates: Some retooling has been done today on the WCG website. No longer can just any ol' peon/co-worker access Mighty Joe's weekly updates. Now, you must have a sign on and password. Oh, how I will miss the familiar sign off, "Prayer is the battleground..." yadda, yadda, yadda.

AW: It may have been a temporary glitch. It seems to be back up.

A question to ponder: I have a question. With those who feel their particular organization is the only one doing a true work, what if someone has endured an excruciating and hellish disease and died without being a part of what others feel is the only true work?

My wife, Linda, was dedicated to the end. She died at a mere 50 lbs. on April 1st of this year from advanced colon cancer, but wasn't a member of Philadelphia or Living. Throughout her ordeal, I kept thinking of how certain individuals feel others are Laodicean if they aren't a part of a particular group. What is Linda's fate if she died for what she believed, but didn't follow a man or organization? I challenge someone to tell me she won't be in God's Kingdom after going through a hell so few can even begin to comprehend. The attitude is self-righteous and a real spiritual sickness when brethren have God in a box so small that He never has the say-so.

Leaders such as Gerald Flurry and Roderick Meredith speak for God and never allow Him to have the say-so. This is the epitome of arrogance and pride. I am sickened by so much confusion and how men love power at the expense of others. I have felt for years that Gerald Flurry and Rod Meredith need to retire and stop vying for positions of power by wanting to make sure they are noticed. Philadelphia and Living have an agenda that is as revolting as any can be. I know Living's all to well. I was a member for 5 long years and regret it to this day. I can only imagine what it would be like if Gerald and Rod were the two witnesses. Who would be in charge? I am sure they would both tell God to step aside while they discussed who was to fill what role.

Linda died in the faith and yet ministers today have no clue as to what it is like to experience months of pain. Gerald Flurry and Roderick Meredith haven't had to go through the trials as so many members have and yet they both preach on subjects they have so little understanding in. It is easy to be arrogant from the pulpit when healthy, but the ultimate test of faith is to experience 24 hour pain for months and God doesn't intervene. Linda and I had no time to get caught up in worrying about whether God would accept her if she didn't acknowledge any particular individual as the true representative God has chosen. This is as spiritually immature as anyone can be if you have to belong to an organization in order to have eternal life. I am waiting for anyone to respond to my question as to whether Linda will be in God's Kingdom because a relationship with God was of utmost importance to her over the allegiance to a man.

Richard Markland

No hidden agenda: I have been reading the comments regarding the "contradictions" in the WCG/Tkach over the last decade. I am sure glad I am not an "important" person otherwise people could make the same comments by me. My thoughts and views on theology and worship practices did not change overnight, but evolved over years. Even though I quit being a sabbatarian in my mind over a decade ago, for many years I was still a staunch supporter of worshipping on Saturday for a variety of reasons. Slowly I because less enthusiastic about it and now I am a firm believer in worshipping on the day that is most attractive to those who are seeking for a church (in the bible-belt that is clearly Sunday).

My viewpoints on Christmas also evolved over several years (not in the same way or pace of those of Dr. Tkach, et al). In fact I exchanged a number of emails with Mike Feazell on the subject when I strongly disagreed with celebrating Christ's first coming. It wasn't his polite emails that changed my mind, but it was a slow process of unlearning old prejudices and behaviors.

To try to say that those in Pasadena had a hidden agenda might seem like a logical analysis until you undergo the same sort of transformation of thoughts and beliefs on some of the doctrines and worship practices.

Someone told me that it was reported at one of the WCG regional conferences that 95% of the WCG growth in the U.S. has come from congregations worshipping on Sunday and that the only Saturday congregations that have "grown" have done so from WCG members who refuse to meet on Sunday so they drive to a sister congregation.

Michael Smith

AW: Growth?

Creationism: The creationism vs. evolution debate (7/19/05 Sidelines) is a chance to mention my recent trip to "The American Museum Of Natural History" in NYC with my wife and some friends. One exhibit of newly discovered dinosaur fossils proves that some dinosaurs had feathers although they didn't fly. Scientists now believe that birds are the descendants of dinosaurs. 

A Hayden Planetarium show entitled "Passport to the Universe," narrated by Tom Hanks, features actual photographs of space in a computerized video on a domed screen that gives the illusion of traveling though space. The comment was made that we don't know what happened before the "Big Bang" but what happened after it we know as fact. There's more information at www.amnh.org


LCG's travail: Thanks for mentioning Glen Gilchrist. Of course, the fact that it's MRSA sends chills through the spines of the LCG membership. Still, he was diagnosed much earlier than John Ogwyn, and the infection has not progressed as far.

Just the same, LCG lost another minister last week, but not to death: Ben Faulkner was officially canned this past Sabbath. It's not like it was a surprise. At first a paid minister who joined Meredith during Global's first year, Faulkner was demoted to local elder a year or so ago... He and his wife have been known to show kindness and compassion, perhaps because that metal plate in his skull reminds him daily of what real pain is. But alas, Faulkner somehow, we're told, ran afoul of Charles Bryce, the Director of Church Administration, and the rest is history.

With Rod Meredith slowly growing more feeble due to diabetes, Bryce is able to work with a freer hand. Perhaps Meredith still has some control over media outreach and such. He gets to write and speak whenever and whatever he wants. When it comes to actually ruling the ministry and congregations, however, there is a growing suspicion in some quarters that Meredith has become the bespelled King Theoden, with Bryce as Wormtongue. There are reports that Meredith apparently promises thus and such to certain ministers and members, but then magically -- sometimes within hours -- a meeting with Bryce causes him to forget his word. Better yet, Bryce can, according to these accounts, make Meredith feel like everything was his own idea in the first place.

What with all the ministers, both paid and unpaid, who have died over the past two years, you'd think Charles Bryce would set any personal agenda, focus on the good of the church, and refrain from spreading the ministry even thinner. You'd think wrong. Ben Faulkner is probably not the last man on his list. There was a time when Rod Meredith was Living's worst problem. That time is no more.


AW: This letter has been modified slightly for publication.

Let's all help LCG's image! I know we shouldn't listen to rumor so I hope someone can clarify the following rumors I heard recently, and perhaps help to improve LCG's image.

...recently LCG's employees in Australia acquired new Holden Commodore Calais
motor vehicles. When one of their "ministers" was questioned on the extravagance of the acquisitions, he was told that the new vehicles would help LCG to carry out "God's work" "more effectively".

Firstly, is there any truth to the rumor that LCG Australia have resorted to "cold-canvassing"
subscribers for money? Recently a friend of a friend was telephoned by a man claiming to represent LCG. He asked the subscriber that, as he is a blessed person (because God is working with him by giving him "understanding" and access to the material of the only "true" church doing "God's work"), had he considered donating or tithing to them? Surprised, and given of course that LCG claim their material ifs free, the subscriber offered to pay for the material. He was turned down but was asked if he would like to "donate", or "tithe". Offering again to pay for the material, the subscriber was again turned down and was asked if he wanted to "donate". The matter left the subscriber a bit confused.

You see folks, "donations" to not for profit organizations or religious organizations in this country [Australia] may not attract a "goods and services" tax /value added tax/ "sales tax" of 10%. "Payments" to such organizations however, do, because "payments" are defined by our tax authorities as payment for goods and services. If such groups receive "payments", they are liable to deduct 10% of the receipt and remit it to the federal government.

Secondly, recently LCG's employees in Australia acquired new Holden Commodore Calais
motor vehicles. When one of their "ministers" was questioned on the extravagance of the acquisitions, he was told that the new vehicles would help LCG to carry out "God's work" "more effectively". These vehicles cost in excess of $35,000 Australian. I think about 4 employees qualify for such a vehicle. I'm sure they're doing "God's work" efficiently.

I look forward to clarification.

John Karagiannidis

Nehemiah and LifeNets: Many people that support LifeNets are not mentioned [on the supporters list]. Clyde Kilough and his wife Dee very much supported the fundraiser that ABC hosted recently for LifeNets. Clyde even talked about it in his last week's "Compass Check" found on [the] UCG website. To talk about it I would say is pretty good support, wouldn’t you say? Not to mention he paid a pretty high price for some items at the auction in support of it.

Color-coded COGs: As a regular reader of your site I have not found any church or group who accepts the challenge of being fully accountable. Perhaps your could consider a rating or a percentage score for each of the group and churches you list. Maybe a color - red - (beware unaccountable) through to royal - blue (fully accountable). Or even a survey of readers to see if there are any doing the right thing. Start with ACG (absolutely the best COG) to WCG (worst COG).

I think we need to laugh a bit sometimes.


AW: Great idea. Vic, you're hereby appointed as Executive Editor in charge of the project. No, seriously!

None of these diseases... So Rebel Rod Meredith has diabetes? Hmm, I thought that if you:

- didn't eat pork, chocolate covered ants or seafood
- didn't smoke
- didn't drink (excessively)
- kept the Sabbath & Holy Days
- paid your tithes
- did the P.S.F.M. routine (pray, study, fast, meditate) on a regular basis
- and kept all the other O.C. stuff

that God would put "none of these diseases" on you, like he does those ungrateful and pork eating, degenerate Gentiles? Seems like we have a scriptural credibility issue here, esp. with Rebel Rod being the great man of God that he is. ;) 

I know I must be sounding like Dave "Attack" Pack or Gerald "Phlurry" by now, ready to pass judgment on that unfaithful member of the Laodicean generation, including the entire LCG. Yes, let's see how many sheep they can snatch away with this issue! But why does Rebel Rod now have diabetes? Is the clause "none of these diseases" now null & void? You don't suppose the old covenant is called "old" for a reason, do you?


AW: The diabetes disclosure may help explain Rod's seriously mistimed rant on healing in the Living Church News (May/June). The headline: "More of Us Need To Be HEALED". And he's at it again in the latest issue where he writes: "Many among us are needlessly sick..." Seems a case of "doctor heal thyself".

Beauty & beastliness: It was amazing to see these photos [Sidelines July 20]. The last time I was there was in 1983. I also snapped a number of scenes.

Viewing these images stuns the sensibilities to think that the men who charged that these grounds should be tended with such obvious loving care were ignoring the suffering of the poor fools who were sacrificing their lives and treasure to advance the hidden agenda of the cult-masters. The juxtaposition of beauty and beastliness is just mind-boggling.

Jim Baldwin

The Prime of Little Joe:

"In the past, Mr. Armstrong and my dad were Pastor General and worked until they died. Mr. Armstrong told my dad that if he would have passed the baton, so to speak, to my dad years earlier, he could have lived a lot longer, not having to deal with all that stress. And I see that that is absolutely true for my dad as well. Why would I make the same mistakes they made? Probably not. I've wondered.

"I've shared this with some of the ministry. Would it not be better for me to only be Pastor General for 10 years, and give the best 10 years of my life? I'm in my prime, my health and my energy level, give it the best for 10 years and then I'd be happy to go pastor a church somewhere, and then let someone else do it for their 10 best years."

Joe Tkach Jr., 1997

Joe's decade: Although I have some recollection that Joe Jr. had suggested a term limit of 7-10 years, I don't know where that ever appeared in writing. This Worldwide News report is "not specific or definitive". The WN archives are still on-line. Does anyone have a reference to support the statement: "Dr. Tkach indicated that he... only desired to be in the office for only 10 years"?

AW: Felix Taylor, the original writer of the Wikipedia entry, responds: "You made me do some digging. Actually the comment Joseph Tkach Jr. made was in the Canadian Regional News (this was the Canadian supplement of the Worldwide News before it became Northern Light), Volume 4, Number 2 from April 1997."

Felix has kindly provided a scanned copy of that article. The exact quote is in the box to the right.

Old is new and new is old: I'm always interested in hearing what is going on in the WCG and it's many splinter sisters. But I do have to keep reminding myself that at some point the WCG under Joe Jr. is no longer truly relevant to discussions about the organization created by HWA. I've never seen figures on how many who remain in the WCG today were there in 1994 when the bigger changes began, but the number cannot be high. Plus there is the additional question as to how you could be in a church under the old HWA doctrines, and still be in it through all those changes, right down till today. Do you simply believe what you are told? I mean, let's face it, the changes made were across the board. When did you, as a member, or minister, change over? See what I mean? Aside from that, however, the, "old WCG," actually LEFT the organization which is today know as the WCG, and we find those people who left in the various splinter groups which exist today. Not to split hairs over it, but generally speaking, the WCG did not transform from cult to orthodox. Not if we talking about PEOPLE. Rather, the, "old WCG," left the new leadership and doctrines, starting in the early 90's, and what remains today as the WCG has really little to do with the false teachings of Herbie and son.


AW: Except, of course, the new WCG has the same moronic hierarchical mindset at its core. And those "devolved" local congregations are still on a very short leash. Here's what Gary Scott wrote recently. "Hanging in a fairly prominent place is the church charter, giving permission for the group to form as a WCG sub-group. It was a very legal-sounding document (you can read it here) and ended with the warning that any breach of the would result in the revocation of the charter and forfeiture of all privileges, et cetera, et cetera. However, if for any reason the Parent Church revokes this Charter, said Charter immediately becomes null and void, the status it confers is thereby lost, the privileges arising under it cease, and the Local Congregation shall forthwith surrender the same. Signed, “In Christian love,” Joseph Tkach. Pretty standard, I guess, as far as charters go, but I found it amusing that it ended with this threat and then was signed “In Christian love".”

Wormtongue: You are right on about Charles Bryce being Wormtongue. Good job!


AW: The thanks go to "Libro".



September ahoy! Wikipedia now carries a brief bio of everybody's favorite Pastor General, Honest Joe Tkach. It's brief and factual, but concludes with an interesting reminder:

In the church's official publication, the Worldwide News, in 1997, Dr. Tkach indicated that he did not want to be Pastor General for life like his dad and Herbert Armstrong but only desired to be in the office for 10 years. September 2005 marks his tenth year as Pastor General.

Yes, Joe selflessly assumed the role of pastor general in 1995 "by executive appointment upon the death of his father" (i.e. his dad gave him the job), and let's face it, nepotism is so much less messy than the alternatives. There's no nasty vote, no unnecessary mandate, no silly nonsense about endorsement from the common herd; and what a fine job he's done! All that experience developing programs for juvenile delinquents in Arizona proved so essential later in implementing programs for ecclesiastical delinquents and incorrigible legalists like, um, David Covington. Quite an achievement. Of course, that's just one opinion. You can have yours by voting in the "sidelines" poll (if it isn't visible you may need to adjust your browser settings to let it be displayed.)

In a follow-up poll this weekend we'll ask: do you really think he'll step down?



More gold plated teaspoons: Time for Joe & Co. to hold another garage sale. That nice firm of John Moran will auction off goodies from Ambassador Hall. Our person on the scene - who like Lord Voldemort may not be named - advises that "some items are original furnishings of the Merritt house, hand carved to fit in the rooms they were in." Click here to view the catalog cover and here to take a peek inside.

We anticipate that Tithe Lord Flurry will descend with dollars clutched to exchange for such Herbal treasures. Should look nice next to his pet rock.

Spanky bespelled? Meanwhile all may not be as it seems in the dank Machiavellian corners of the Living Church of God. At least that's what you'd have to suspect after reading the following letter which appeared in our in-tray. The full text will appear in the next mailbag, but here's a substantial extract (edited).

With Rod Meredith slowly growing more feeble due to diabetes, Bryce is able to work with a freer hand

LCG lost another minister last week, but not to death: Ben Faulkner was officially canned this past Sabbath. It's not like it was a surprise. At first a paid minister who joined Meredith during Global's first year, Faulkner was demoted to local elder a year or so ago... He and his wife have been known to show kindness and compassion, perhaps because that metal plate in his skull reminds him daily of what real pain is. But alas, Faulkner somehow, we're told, ran afoul of Charles Bryce, the Director of Church Administration, and the rest is history.

With Rod Meredith slowly growing more feeble due to diabetes, Bryce is able to work with a freer hand. Perhaps Meredith still has some control over media outreach and such. He gets to write and speak whenever and whatever he wants. When it comes to actually ruling the ministry and congregations, however, there is a growing suspicion in some quarters that Meredith has become the bespelled King Theoden, with Bryce as Wormtongue. There are reports that Meredith apparently promises thus and such to certain ministers and members, but then magically -- sometimes within hours -- a meeting with Bryce causes him to forget his word. Better yet, Bryce can, according to these accounts, make Meredith feel like everything was his own idea in the first place.

For anyone baffled by the references, Wormtongue was the Rasputin-like Chief Counselor of King Theoden of Rohan in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. While writing under a nom-de-plume, the correspondent has also provided their real name.



Another LCG minister contracts MRSA: 2005 has been a particularly awful year for the Meredith-led Living Church of God. Apostasies in Africa, multiple murders in Wisconsin, the untimely death of John Ogwyn, the predations of the Pack cult, and now another minister is battling the same disease that took Ogwyn's life. The following letter from Glen Gilchrist's wife Diane appears on Bob Thiel's LCG news page.

Dear Friends, 

I'd like to request prayers for Glen. He was bitten multiple times by a spider/insect in Texas on the way home from Mr. Ogwyn's funeral. A group of bites on his calf became very infected. He went to his doctor who put him on one antibiotic, which didn't help, the infection worsened. On his way to the Saratoga Family weekend he stopped in Urgent Care in CO and was put on a different antibiotic. The infection worsened and when he returned from WY he went to emergency (his doctor is on vacation) where they lanced the affected area on his leg. He went back to urgent care today and was diagnosed with an MRSA, the same infection Mr Ogwyn had. Other bites are becoming infected. He is canceling his trip to AZ so he can keep his leg elevated. The doctor prescribed a different & more specific antibiotic to treat this. If the infection doesn't respond he will have to have surgery. We appreciate your prayers. We'll keep you posted. Have a profitable and enjoyable Sabbath.

Diane Gilchrist

We wish Glen a speedy recovery. 

Thoughts on the London bombings: These comments from James McBride (Church of God UK) in the wake of the London bombings.

It is foolish and short-sighted simply to blame a particular faith...Certainly that religion, especially the Wah’habi faction that rules and dominates Saudi Arabia, which spawned Osama bin Laden and from where came most of the New York and Washington killers, has indeed been the seed-bed of most modern worldwide terrorism. We could cite the early WTC bombs, Bali, Sudan, Kashmir, Nigeria, Afghanistan, New York, Baghdad, Madrid, London—and now Turkey again. A noted Saudi commentator, Abdul Rachman al Rached, writes in a Saudi paper: ‘...most perpetrators of suicide operations in buses, schools and residential buildings around the world for the past ten years have been Muslims’. 

Cast back a generation, however, and the Republican movement in Ireland, responsible during thirty years of terror for over three thousand violent deaths, was rooted in the centuries-old Roman Catholic desire for a united Catholic Ireland. It’s an ongoing struggle, too often supported by ignorance of the motives on both sides of the Atlantic.

Back a few centuries more and Christianity—both Protestant and Catholic—was the prime mover in worldwide slaughter, mitigated and suppressed only by the rise in 17th century Europe of the Enlightenment, secular humanism and the democratic ideal. Christianity, it seems, has been as guilty as Islam. In fact no world faith—Hindu, Buddhist, Islam, Christianity—is guiltless, and all have from time to time taken up the sword in the name of their chosen faith...

The word of Jesus for today and for every nation, for all mankind, is the same as his message to ancient Assyria through the prophet Jonah: ‘let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?’



A decade in the making: Ten years is a long time in the history of the Internet. Yahoo! is celebrating its tenth birthday this year (seems like it's been around forever), and so is Mark Tabladillo's website, a real pioneer in the COG community.

Marktab.org was one of the early sources of information on WCG online. Here's a little background from Mark himself, posted on JLF.

Today, July 14, 2005, is the tenth anniversary of my original WCG Homepage, the first WCG-related webpage and website... In 1995, the predominant way members of the Worldwide Church of God communicated was through email and mailing lists. You may remember that Stan Slonkosky and Bill Ferguson were two of the main mailing list moderators in those days. I joined those already active lists in 1995, and what was a forum for gentle discussion of families, people known from school, and Feast plans soon turned into turbulent spiritual discussion of the changes being made at WCG headquarters.

How did it start? I was personally supportive of these changes, and started the website in July 1995 in promotion of the new Worldwide Church of God. Included in the initial material was the new doctrinal list (which I copied verbatim from WCG printed documents) and some MIDI files from the WCG Hymnal. The website was initially hosted by Georgia Tech (through Dec 1996), and the 10 MB disk space was part of my graduate school allocation which was intended to help me finish my education. 

Within months, I learned how to count hits on a website, and the number was over 7,000, quite surprising since I had expected something in the hundreds. Today, 7,000 doesn't mean anything... The number means something when you consider how many people were using browsers in 1995.

Sadly, by the fall of 1995 (I believe it was after the Feast) I received from someone who officially represented WCG at the time [an email] which literally said (in all caps) "CEASE AND DESIST" any circulation of material copyrighted by WCG, including and especially the doctrinal list. I recall receiving a second email asking me to take down the WCG MIDI files... I decided at that point to never again circulate anything officially produced by WCG. 

Also, I journaled my own reasons for supporting these changes in the 12-part "New Covenant Transformation". I used the 12 topics to guide what I would circulate on the website...

Perhaps ironically, the person who originally said to take down the WCG material left months later for UCG-AIA. Nevertheless, I had a sense that the legal suspicions ran deeper, and my feeling on that issue alerted me almost immediately when WCG and PCG started their legal dispute over Mystery of the Ages. By the time WCG sold HWA copyrights to PCG, I was not shocked and you shouldn't be either. 

I'm sure I could post WCG doctrinal statements today (with attribution, as I had originally) but as we all know, actions speak louder than words and what is clearly more interesting now is the 10 year history of action. The relationship between my web ministry and WCG has always been tenuous. At one time, WCG linked my website from their official webpage, but after I created the "Freedom Charter"..., their web link to me went away... 

As I removed official WCG material, I started to gather links as other websites came online, and independent of my testimony, the links were really the most important reason for existence... There were no HTML editor programs then, and I was using the VI text editor on Unix (later Home Site and now Dreamweaver MX). 

Around the same time, the next significant event was the creation of Ron Lohr's Good News Grapevine (GNG), which started in April 1995. The GNG was an informal electronic periodical sent via email in support of the changes, which also contained prayer requests too. I established a relationship with Ron and became primary distributor of the GNG on web. GNG was not an official WCG publication, and therefore passed my personal test of morally acceptable distribution.

Reading the GNG and the mailing lists (including WCGNET, WCGFORUM, XCGFORUM) provided me with a good feel on how many people around the world were thinking about WCG. Both interactive technologies provided ways for people to interactively express what they felt about WCG and those hundreds of emails I sent every month (in those days) was the way God sharpened my story and ability to discern and express an emerging belief system. Within a year, the recirculated material from the mailing lists combined with the GNG proved to be the most important and most popularly accessed content on the website. Through the now defunct Spokesman Clubs I learned how to communicate verbally, but through the mailing lists, GNG, website, and now JLF, I have gained experience in written communication.

Speaking of JLF, how does JLF fit into all of it? JLF was started in 1998 based on an experiment to see if there was any interest in a message board. The technology was new, but because the interface was a webpage, I believed that it would attract people who would rather use a browser than use the still existing mailing lists...

JLF was started at insidetheweb.com, which was a free service, but like many companies went bust (the better ones either were taken over or took others over) effective January 31, 2001. After considering other options (including self-hosting which is still a possibility) the board launched on Delphi in March 2001. Delphi archives all the messages, and if you pay as a member you can read this board since 2001 (otherwise you only see the past few months). Also, I have an electronic archive of what I think is most if not all of the old JLF board at insidetheweb.com.

Since 2000, I have done relatively little on the website marktab.org, but have instead steered people to JLF since 1998. Like the mailing lists, the true value of the Internet has proven to be interactive communication. No one has all the perspectives or answers, and it is has proven to be a healthy thing to listen to what people have to say first hand from their heart. I view my role as being a facilitator in interactive communication on spiritual topics (whether Christianity or otherwise), including encouraging others to facilitate and interactively discuss issues with people who may have very different ideas.

I have a new web design for marktab.org which I plan to post later today as part of the 10 year anniversary. I worked with web designer Ward Johns on this new layout since the current design reflects the best layout ideas of 1998. I will continue to keep the material because it is an important historical resource which stands as primary source documentation against potential revisionism which I'm already beginning to see. The marktab.org website will be the home of "MarkTab Ministries" which became the first Internet-based member of Willow Creek Association in 1998.

JLF has its own website at http://www.jesuslovesfellowship.org/ and will have its own 10 year anniversary in 2008.

As this item was being prepared it appeared that the redesigned website was experiencing a few teething problems with navigation, which will hopefully be quickly fixed.

Anne on WCG's changes - final part: (abridged)

Conclusion (Oh no, she has more to say!!): I had an interesting conversation a while ago as to why there was such a difference in the reaction of the members over such non-essentials as compared to changes in the past. In my former congregation we lost very few to the “doctrinal” changes. Where we lost nearly 70% of the congregation (and still dropping) has been over this non-essential matter of customs and the chaotic, unfriendly environment it caused. What’s the big deal? WCG members had changed before with issues like makeup on, makeup off; Pentecost to Sunday, Nature of God, dietary laws, Sabbath observance and etc. None had caused the division and loss like customs. What’s different?

I particularly remember one “Sabbath” in Mr. Armstrong’s time when the minister went to the pulpit and announced that makeup was out. The decision was made and that was that. But when Dr. Joseph Tkach talked about the issue of customs he was also talking about freedom. Specifically freedom in Christ. Herein lies the difference.

Dr. Tkach talked about freedom in terms of grace and mutual love. He linked freedom with choice. These were his words and he was very clear about what the grace of our Lord Jesus said about that. He also linked not being allowed to choose with hypocrisy. We are responsible for the words we use just as I am responsible for the words I write here.

Freedom is very important. It is brought home to us even more so given the challenges and dangers the US has had to face in the past few years. It is not a term to be thrown around carelessly or to be used irresponsibly, or falsely portrayed. When people are told they are free you are giving them a very special gift. In the case of freedom in Christ it is a gift our Lord gives us. When people feel that their freedom is being subverted or being taken away they resent and resist. 

What we see modeled by the “New” WCG is not true freedom. This is not just a matter of customs anymore it becomes a matter of integrity and grace or the lack thereof.

Okay, but the deed has been done as they say. Why harp on it now? For the very important reason that the issue of worship customs was not the problem it was a symptom of the problem. This problem has reared its ugly head in other ways, in how Joseph Tkach has done things. Some examples are:

1. Joseph Tkach sold Herbert Armstrong’s harmful works to the most dangerous splinter group... WCG themselves... as the long, expensive trial went on offered the publications for sale for a period of time.

October 23, 2002
Thank you for your E-mail expressing interest in the Worldwide Church of God material written by Herbert W. Armstrong. We are pleased to advise you that what you heard is true. The church will be publishing the books and booklets he wrote for the church. Certain of the church’s literature is in the publishing process, and will be available for sale in a few months for historical and research purposes. Other literary works of the church will be published in the future as demand for the same dictates.
Please check the Worldwide Church of God website for an announcement as to when any specific piece of literature you are interested in will be available for purchase. ...
Thank you for your interest in the literary works of the church.
Paul Kroll
Personal Correspondence

Merely with the small disclaimer “…do not represent the teachings of the Worldwide Church of God." But then that is what WCG Canada has or had a similar statement “may not necessarily represent…” as a disclaimer for their “good orthodox doctrine” sermons online at www.wcg.ca

In the end as we know Tkach received around $2 to 3 million dollars for handing over the rights to these copyrights. An action that did not escape the notice of some concerned Evangelicals who wrote about this in Christianity today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/007/45.23.html 

Don’t they realize how dangerous the Philadelphia Church of God and Gerald Flurry are? Yes, actually they do which makes the decision to sell the copyrights so unbelievably irresponsible. Mike Feazell, a top WCG executive [spoke] on a radio interview (Moody Broadcasting Network) in the first week of June this year. A caller wanted some advice from Dr. Feazell as to how he could talk and keep communications open with his brother who was in Flurry’s group. Feazell said the Philadelphia Church of God would take anything Herbert Armstrong “did cult wise and make it far, far worse”. He called the PCG “a very, very odd and dangerous environment”.

So to what admittedly WCG HQ calls a dangerous group, Joseph Tkach has not only sold cult leader Gerald Flurry the bullets for the gun with which to hurt people spiritually, he sold him the gun. As well Gerald Flurry now feels God gave them a moral victory since they were finally able to get the rights to these “precious” words of HWA from grip of the fallen church, WCG.

2. Despite teaching Financial Stewardship to the membership, the members themselves do not have the right to know how much of their offerings are being taken for the Pastor General’s own personal use. (Salary and expenses).

3. WCG President Joseph Tkach tells an Evangelical group EMNR (Evangelical Ministries to New Religions) after trying to dodge the question, that it would be very rare for those WCG members who believed in Armstrong’s doctrines to be converted (paraphrase). The speaker had told Tkach that most at the conference would consider people who believed such false things to be “lost”. That is to say lost to God. Tkach and Albrecht were asked after that admission what steps they were taking to educate and save these people. They mentioned altar calls and that they were taking steps.

In the greater Evangelical community that believes this is the time for salvation this is a VERY serious matter. When the Rev. Billy Graham or his son Franklin step up to the podium at a festival before thousands of people they have one clear and vital message. The message is ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR! The message is powerful. The warning is powerful. Most evangelicals believe as Billy Graham does. But what did the WCG do? Well for one, members were NOT warned their salvation was in jeopardy because of the beliefs they still held onto. Or the bad news that perhaps dear granny or grandpa who died “in the faith” under Mr. Armstrong’s administration may not be “going to their reward” after all. That may sound like a hurtful thing to say but that is what Tkach was saying when he agreed with the Evangelicals at the conference.

But this was not the understanding given to the membership. Either way two opposite things could not both be true so Tkach was being untruthful with either the EMNR in order to get their approval and acceptance or his own people. Which was it? I tend to think the Evangelicals in Chicago were the ones he was less than truthful with. Why? because the same year MR. Tkach was telling the Evangelicals his conversion under Herbert Armstrong’s WCG happened but was very rare MRS. Tkach wrote a heartwarming letter saying just the opposite just a month before her husband denied the validity of the Christianity of most members still believing Armstrong’s doctrine:

Let’s affirm each other’s Christianity

“I’d like you to meet my new friend, a member of the Worldwide Church of God, the former cult that God has so miraculously changed.”

The first time I was introduced this way, I instantly recoiled. I wanted to say: “Stop, it’s not true. We weren’t a cult.” Then I thought about it and realized many viewed us as a cult or near cult.

When I had a chance to talk to my friend, I explained to her that we had never viewed ourselves as a cult. I told her when we were baptized, we were baptized into the church of Jesus Christ, not into any denomination. We were baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We had always believed in Jesus, who died for our sins and through whom we received salvation. I told her we believed wholeheartedly in the Bible and our desire was to obey and serve God in every way we could. She was a little surprised by my statements.

I remember when I was baptized my freshman year of Ambassador College at the age of 18, I was totally convicted of my sins and knew I needed the Holy Spirit if I were to continue on this Christian walk. On the morning of my baptism, I was a little nervous. But I went through the ceremony, glad to be taking this important step. After the prayer, I walked around the Big Sandy campus, not on the ground, but about two feet up in the air. I had never felt so exhilarated. It was a high I hoped would last forever. Had I received the Holy Spirit? You bet. Was I a part of the Body of Christ? No doubt about it.

Some have wondered if our lives have been wasted because we didn’t understand the new covenant. Others have been offended and deeply hurt because they somehow got this impression. Is this true? Were all the prayers, bible study, good works, acts of obedience, acts of love and tears of confession in vain?

We have been Christians all along. We have had God’s Holy Spirit all along. God has been with us every step of the way, and he knew what we needed, when we needed it.

Looking back at the legacy Herbert Armstrong left us as members of the WCG, I see deep commitment to the Word of God, a strong desire to obey and please God, a willingness to be transformed by Scripture and genuine love for fellow believers. This affirms my Christianity. I have been a Christian ever since I took that plunge beneath the baptismal waters, and every experience since then has been part of my Christian journey.

Let’s affirm each other’s Christianity and remind ourselves that our lives have no more been in vain than any other human being on this earth. God knew us while we were being formed in secret places, he has plans for us and he will continue this work he started in us.” (Tammy Tkach, September 1998)

Good on you, Tammy. But I doubt Joe handed out copies of his wife’s letter to the EMNR members.

I believe the question of salvation under Armstrong was a “make or break” question as far as the WCG’s acceptance into the EMNR. I can’t help but think that for the sake of that acceptance he said what he did. I personally do not think he set out to be untruthful to the EMNR but when cornered by a knowledgeable panel member the desire for acceptance may have been too strong.

Tammy’s position is actually the one I have heard most in the church and may indeed be the official position told to the membership. It is a position I agree with also because I feel conversion is between you and God and God can reach even into the most flawed church and call people. However there were concerns about this conference in the membership and some I knew asked the leadership including Tkach about it. The answer they received was not what was told the EMNR. It was a reassurance of the validity of their baptisms.

Despite whatever stand someone might have on conversions during Herbert Armstrong’s time, it is this doubletalk that is harmful to the members. It sends mixed messages, spreads confusion and even doubts about one’s own salvation.

Oh and we come full circle to unconverted again folks, in “Called to be Free” which actually has Greg Albrecht talking in terms of coming to Christ after the changes. “You're either going to continue to be a cult, or you're going to be a Christian? Which was it?" (Greg Albrecht)

Regardless again of what people feel on this issue or what Greg Albrecht feels personally, this is purposely put in a video carefully crafted to reflect the “public face” of what the “New” WCG believes. The WCG HQ seems to have one face for the members and another face for its public image.

4. So we come to a present day example. The Worldwide Church of God is in the midst of a lengthy process to decide the issue of women pastors. However during this time the Pastor General’s wife served on the council at Azusa Pacific specially for helping women becomes pastors in leadership roles.

These are all symptoms of a dysfunctional leadership held in power by a government structure relatively unchanged since Herbert Armstrong. Allowing people freedom and being truthful is a measure of grace in a person and an organization. Until the Worldwide Church of God repents from their controlling and even abusive pattern of behavior it will continue to hurt and disillusion.

Becker site closes down: A fringe Australian COG group seems to have succeeded in closing down Douglas Becker's Cult Abuse web site. Canadian lawyers for the obscure (and some might say bizarre) sect reportedly complained to the hosting company, which then decided that discretion was the better part of valor and pulled the domain. Douglas had raised a number of concerns he felt needed addressing, including financial matters.

Several years ago a Canadian law firm - we assume it's the same one - was involved in threats of legal action against AW for comments the glorious cult leader took exception to. Our crime? We'd expressed the opinion that it was a "one-man band", and that the guru's writings amounted to "pseudo-scholarship". We understand similar legal tactics have been used against at least one other website attempting to provide information about the group.

The closure has fast-tracked Douglas' resolve to wind down his COG-related contributions on the Web. Douglas' voice in the post-COG community has been an authentic and distinctive one, and we'll miss both his passion and his humor.

Wizardry? Many and illustrious are the graduates of the late and much lamented Hogwarts College in Pasadena. Virtuous souls who have committed no significant sins since the sorting hat was lowered onto their youthful pates. Such a roll call of Honor! Rod Meredith, Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry (all members of Slytherin House), Raymond McNair and Fred Coulter (Hufflepuff)... 

More to the point, there's Dennis "Dementor" Diehl. For some AW readers the very mention of his name causes their blood pressure to rise. And Dennis has this effect on conservative and evangelical brethren alike. We thought it only fair to warn you that, in his latest offering, Dennis continues to ask the kind of questions that your mother told you were most definitely not acceptable, and had your granny reaching for the smelling salts. Flee back to your dormitories, lock the doors, and click not on the following link, gentle readers: Harry Potter meets Moses.

Weekly Mailbag

WCG jigsaw: I’m trying to put together pieces of the puzzle that has been my WCG experience. Raised as a 2nd generation WCG member, I didn’t experience the process one pursued to become a member from outside the organization. What I’m curious about is this: How did people become co-workers instead of members? I know those who were considered “unsuitable” for membership sometimes became co-workers after ministerial interview, but surely that didn’t account for all of them. Did nonmembers receiving the PT also get a letter inviting them to be co-workers?


AW: All I had to do was send in some pocket money a couple of times (I was still in school) and, hey presto, promoted from subscriber to co-worker with Christ!

Dumb or disingenuous? Back in '94, it was clear WCG would switch to Sunday services. The only question was when. So in early '95 I asked Joe Jr. about a hypothetical scenario in a Third World country where many jobs require Saturday work. If most of the congregation were working on Saturday, when would they meet for services? The obvious answer was Sunday. But Joe refused to concede the point. His answer? "They can meet Friday nights."

Such a reply did not even bother to take into account the fact that these people, who presumably would be traveling by bus to get to church, etc., (remember, we're talking about a poor country), would be tired Friday night and would also, in all likelihood, need to get up early to go to work the next day. Either Joe didn't understand the ramifications of the decision to discard the Sabbath, i.e., he didn't know what he was talking about, or he was being coy and deliberately dissembling. He was either ignorant or deceptive. Neither choice seemed particularly commendable in a religious leader.


Accountable UCG? The only part [in The Apostolic Chair] I don't agree with is the initial comment: "...UCG the United Church of God, have systems in place that hold their leaders accountable to the membership.". This is not true. The "membership" has no say in who their leaders will be and no input whatsoever in the decision-making process.


AW: Oh hey, I agree with you! It was written before UCG really got into its "back to authority" thing. Eventually it'll get revised. 

LifeNets: Today's mail brought the LifeNets 2004 Annual Report. Inside, it lists all the individuals, corporations and organizations who "supported LifeNets in 2004." This is something many U.S. charities do -- but it's revealing to see which UCG congregations and ministers are listed as helping the charity founded by a Council of Elders member. I count 15 individual UCG congregations who gave to LifeNets last year. There also are three "Church of God" groups (they could be any affiliation, or none at all) and one Independent Church God. Oh yes, one Methodist Church helped as well.

Here are the 26 individual ministers named in the reports, whose names I recognized: Gary Antion, Michael Bennett, William Butler, Aaron Dean, Peter Eddington, Matthew Fenchel, Bruce Gore, Roy Holladay, Donald Hooser Jr., Bill Jahns, David Johnson, Frederick Kellers, Victor Kubik (woh!), John LaBissonierre, Ralph Levy, Cecil Maranville, Robert McCurdy, Chris Moen, Larry Neff, Leroy Neff, Melvin Rhodes, Larry Salyer, Gerald Seelig, James Servidio, Guy Swenson, Herb Teitgen.

Just reporting. You may spin as you wish.

"Cincinnati Royal" 

AW: Spin? Who us?! Not at all, but I did notice Nehemiah's name missing from the list... ;-)

Mel Turner: [I'd like to know] the whereabouts of former WCG minister Mel Turner. He graduated for Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Texas. He was pastor of the Florence and Huntsville Alabama churches from 1975-1977. He was hounded out of the ministry for being too kind-hearted. I would really like to find him. The last I heard of him he was in Florida

David W. Berryman

The mysterious JLF: Gavin: I'm not exactly sure what "JLF" is, and I can't find it linked on your site. URL, please?

Aaron Root

AW: Check forums.delphiforums.com/JLF7/start

Flurries of foreknowledge? Came across a interesting [BI-related] web site today and decided to pass it on to you . it has some interesting links at the bottom of the page .

Sad to hear about the bombings in London this day, I can imagine the response on some of the cogs, and I wonder did That PROFIT (ooopss spelling) have a visitation of foreknowledge of the bombing ? 'tis all a great mystery.

Mike B

Bible anachronistic? In response to "A Seeker of Truth,"(7/9/05 mailbag) I was not advocating the subjugation of women to men. In fact I attend a mainstream Protestant church with my wife and the minister is a woman. Since I'm an atheist (my wife is a believer) I'm glad they don't follow the Bible with regard to human rights (they use the RSV). I believe that women (and all people) should be treated fairly with equality which is everyone's natural born right. It's true that I can't read Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. But to say that the Bible which was written 2000 to 3000 years ago, by men, is up to 21st century human right's standards is a bit anachronistic. I browsed CBE a little and it's great that you want to make the Bible more humane. But the burning of witches, cutting off women's hands, having a woman marry her rapist and women remaining silent in church, etc. cannot be reconciled with modern standards of human rights. I'm sorry if I offended you, but I'm on your side.


Lapping: I am writing to agree with Gary's statement in the last mailbag: "No one in their right mind would lap this up as you put it." Gary is correct, but if he will re-read the original article he might find that that was exactly the point being made. :-)

Bob E 

Anne Hannah: I found Anne's insights and observations about the way the Tkach administration went about their work to be very accurate and well done. She has validated my own experience in a very objective way and just wanted to thank her.

Dennis Diehl

Preterism (1): I notice that, like many of Greg Albrecht's Q&As, his answer doesn't quite match the question it is supposed to address. He was asked if he held to "the full preterist view of eschatalogy," and he replied that he is "almost one of you (preterists) now." ... One should distinguish between preterists who believe that most of the eschatological prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in the first century A.D., and preterists who believe that all of those prophecies were fulfilled in the first century A.D. (including the Second Coming, Resurrection of the Dead, and Last Judgment). I'm not sure if there's any agreed-upon terminology to distinguish the different kinds of preterists, but if I recall correctly, in my reading I've sometimes found the latter group called "full preterists" or something like that. 

Jared Olar

Preterism (2): First Preter or Second Preter? I get so confused!

John B

82000 reasons to ask for fully audited financial statements: You should look into the Tom Kerry Church, a splinter from the WCG and later the ICG, now calling themselves the Church of God, Worldwide Ministries. Recently, according to some in the church, $82,000+ from tithes was stolen or in some other ways misappropriated. Fingers point to [two former functionaries], but I wouldn't be so surprised if others are not the true culprits... What nobody has explained, is why $82,000 was just sitting around in the coffers waiting to be absconded with? ... I predict that the news will be grim for members who've lost their tithes.

Jeffry Pages



WCG minister launches Sabbath dissertation:  Finding a COG minister with something to say about the Sabbath isn't difficult, flinging proof texts around is a well-practiced skill. But Henry Sturcke isn't your typical elder. For a start he's a minister in both the WCG and the Swiss Reformed Church - a unique accomplishment. Second, his study Encountering the Rest of God: How Jesus Came to Personify the Sabbath is a no apologetic hodge-podge of jumbled Bible texts and selective quotations from dubious sources. Sturcke actually knows a great deal about his subject and has the hard-earned academic credentials to prove it. AW hopes to feature a review of Henry's publication in due course, but in the meantime we're delighted to feature an interview with the author in which he discusses both his time in the WCG and the new book.

Thou art Preter: Preterism has a new convert. Greg Albrecht has seen the light! This excerpt from the last PTM newsletter.

Q. I am preterist believer... do you hold to the full preterist view of eschatology?

A. Yes, I am aware of preterists -- and while 30 years ago, as a dispensationalist I would have seen you as extremely suspect, I have now met the enemy and I am almost one of you now! (joke) Of the four major biblically acceptable views of the interpretation of biblical prophecy, I would probably favor the preterist view, with futurism (of which, as you know, dispensationalism is a sub-set) coming in dead last. 

WCG - killing off the church: The third in a series of four postings by Anne Hannah follows. These originally appeared on Mark Tabladillo's JLF discussion board.

A testimony from a congregation under Alan Barr’s supervision [Greenville, S.C., update by Horst and Irene Selent]

…Still about 80 people strong, we were alarmed, the alarm further fueled by distressing news from other churches. Many individuals sent personal letters to HQ, but in the summer we rallied together and sent a petition to Pastor General Joseph Tkach Jr. in Pasadena signed by the vast majority of the people in Greenville. In it we pointed out that HQ was ignoring the concerns of a lot of its members. Any of us who didn't show the new enthusiasm for worship on Sunday felt disposable.

So we asked for assurance that, as promised, the Sabbath could remain our day of worship. (The Journal in October 1998 reported on the petitions we sent to Mr. Tkach. The text of our petitions, in the form of letters, to Mr. Tkach can also be read at www.marktab.org/wcgweb4.html under "Healing," then "Open Letters").

… Mr. Tkach answered quickly that we were "free to worship on the day the majority prefers," and "Your letter communicates your feeling that the long-range plan of the church is that members will eventually not be allowed to celebrate on the annual festivals. I can only say that the church has no such plan. Your assessment is simply not correct."

However, since our request for a churchwide referendum was not addressed at all, we mailed a second petition. HQ's answer was vague, requesting that we address future issues through our regional pastor.

Continuing tension

For one year we had only a local elder, until, in 1999, the minister from neighboring Asheville, N.C., was assigned to Greenville. Again, tensions began to rise in proportion to the increasing belittling of anything "old." To clear the air we asked numerous times for an open congregational discussion. That was denied ("It would split the church"). Some of us became black sheep.

We asked some direct questions of our regional pastor. He referred us to the pastor. Our pastor, in turn, fell back on whatever happened to be the latest HQ guidelines. We went around in circles! But the handwriting was on the wall, especially after an emotional denouncement of a certain "church life" message (sermonette) in which a member dared discuss a Wednesday vs. a Friday crucifixion.

Our attendance dwindled to about 40. Some still went to the WCG Feast of Tabernacles at Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 2000. Many may have enjoyed that Feast, but one sad memory lingers in my mind: So few people! There were not anywhere near enough to fill the auditorium! What a difference it had been to celebrate with 11,000 people (for example, in the Poconos) or sit in the end section of a partitioned-off auditorium. Who zapped our collective energy?

Back home, about a year ago now, at a meeting initiated by our minister of the 21 members there, 16 still raised their hands to show a preference for Sabbath observance rather than Sunday services. But we were told not to construe this as a vote; the pastor merely wanted to feel the pulse of the congregation.

Stop that pampering

Early in 2001, at the regional ministerial conference in Savannah, Ga., it was emphasized (as we learned from a participant) that the ministers were to stop "pampering" people who do not go along with HQ; that the time had come to decisively move forward; and that, approaching the "end of a seven-year transition," it would be a waste of time and energy to keep answering the same old questions. After all, the church's doctrines were now clearly published on the WCG's Web site.

Southeastern spearhead

It is interesting from our vantage that the U.S. Southeast seemed to have been selected as the spearhead for the switch to Sunday. Was it only the regional pastor's preference? Or was it a greater strategy of first conquering the Bible Belt and the rest would then be easier?”

Two weeks after the 2001 Feast our minister publicly invited "all who do not agree with my or HQ's directions to please make the decision to leave." 

(ANNE: Please note the District Supervisor was and still is Alan Barr)

Two weeks after the 2001 Feast our minister publicly invited "all who do not agree with my or HQ's directions to please make the decision to leave." So a few last stubborn sheep left. For us it was one week short of 30 years in the WCG.
We had hung in there for so long:

• To see if the WCG would keep its promise of allowing Sabbath worship within the WCG.
• For the local fellowship to not suddenly be blown apart.

A tolerant Saturday and Sunday observance, as was originally laid out, should have been possible.

Currently in Greenville

As of May 2002 the Greenville WCG meets on Sunday under the name Way of the Cross Fellowship. As in many other churches, the move coincided with a relocation to a different building. About 20 people attend. Many seem excited about a fresh start.
Half of the 80 people from 1998 have just drifted away over the years. Few have gone to any other church…”

(ANNE) In a separate item, this is an account relayed about a conference in very early 2000. This was a weekend ministerial conference in Alan Barr’s district on Jekyll Island. If the Bible Belt was to be the start off point for changing days to all mainstream (mentioned above) then by 2000 it was starting to show in the Southeast. It was explained at this conference that the Feast would be continued as a practice but they did not want to call it the Feast of Tabernacles because we needed to stop thinking we needed to keep Old Testament observance. The attitude towards WCG traditional festivals was apparent when a couple questions about “days” were asked at the conference. There were unsympathic mutterings by the crowd and an abrupt answer to at least one question. Not a welcoming environment for those who wanted the “days”. (accounts from of some who attended. This was a private source and not documented as the other accounts are)

I remember listening to an audiotape of one of the sermons from Shreveport WCG. In it Pastor Mike Booze laughingly apologized to his congregation about a misprint in the bulletins at the last Festival. I did not understand what he was calling a mistake till I heard about the above conference. The misprint Mike Booze made was instead of saying “Festival” he used “Feast of Tabernacles”.

Also in October of 2000 Pastor Glen Webber of Spokane, Washington commented on the Festival in Seaside that had just ended. In his sermon summery he complained about the traditionalists and their unhappiness at the Festival (emphasis his):

“While at Seaside we had two congregations in attendance (one much larger than the other). The LARGER congregation of members was there to celebrate Jesus in worship in as many forms as possible. The smaller congregation members were there to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. They wanted to maintain the old covenant biblical traditions. They wanted to please God through the traditions. However I noticed two interesting things.

a. They generally sat at the back and were very unhappy campers, make it very clear that they did not like what was going on and felt we were sinning by not keeping the days. (Their view of the gospel id Jesus died PLUS Sabbath and Holy Days.)

b. I also noticed that those who strongly wanted to maintain the “biblical” traditions refused to participate in the one biblical tradition Jesus instituted and the early church participated in on a regular basis – the Lord’s table, communion. It was only the biblical traditions they wanted to keep.”
(Glen Webber 10-28-00)

Where do you start with this? Pastor Webber openly condemns the traditionalists from the pulpit at a time when the traditions were still “permitted”. Even Communion was supposed to be optional according to conscience. His words are certainly not in the spirit of even Tkach’s official word. His words however do reflect the attitudes the traditionalists have had to deal with and the environment growing in the church.

...how would a lover of the Christmas custom feel if they had been promised the freedom in Christ to celebrate their Christmas traditions but the ministers demeaned them, refused to call it Christmas and avoided talking about the birth of Christ.

At first I thought when he meant there were separate services at the Festival but it seems with how the Festival was organized and the content of the messages/worship the traditionalists stayed more towards the back. Now of course some might be upset with the traditionalists being upset and sitting at the back. But consider that the traditionalists by this time in the year 2000 have endured at least two or three years of broken promises, misrepresentations and being demeaned for wanting the worship customs they were told they could have. Also remember that this was supposed to be one of those worship customs “days” as it was a festival “holyday”. To put it in perspective how would a lover of the Christmas custom feel if they had been promised the freedom in Christ to celebrate their Christmas traditions but the ministers demeaned them, refused to call it Christmas and avoided talking about the birth of Christ.

WCG HQ had not been clear about what was going on with the Festival. In fact today in 2005 some places like the Worldwide Church of God in Great Britain still use the terms Tabernacles, Atonement, Trumpets and etc. Changing without clarifying or explaining what is being done has and is still causing division. In fact I believe the chief source of division in the WCG on this matter of “days” has been Dr. Tkach and his leadership.

Perhaps if the administration been straight forward with the traditionalists, they might not have been so upset to see their “days” hijacked. In fact they may not have been there at all. However the thing I object most is how those members in the larger congregation are pictured as worshipping Jesus and the others are portrayed as stuck in the old covenant traditions and selfish. When Pastor Webber placed his comments on the website was he ignorant of the fact that it would be publicly humiliating and berating to those members and others like them?

Compare this treatment of the members to another sermon from another pastor given just before this same Festival. In October of 2000 Glendora pastor Neil Earle gave a sermon on the Day of Atonement. But Pastor Earle, considered a moderate and well known minister, reflected on something most ministers would now cringe at … value in the festivals (Shock! Horror!!): “This is one of the Jewish Holy Days we celebrate. We know we have been keeping these days for the last couple of years by permission, and not by commandment. Many of us in the Worldwide Church of God feel that there are still many vital lessons to be learned from our traditional festivals. If we have to focus in on one or two, the Day of Atonement would have to be the most Christ-centered of all of the festivals that we keep.

Why are we here today? There are many vital lessons to be learned. This festival and others we celebrate in the Worldwide Church of God have been taken from the Old Testament holy days and transformed through the Holy Spirit. It is always good for God’s people to meet together. That is the reason the holy days were given. These days in particular foreshadow things to come. Not all has been fulfilled as of yet. The Worldwide Church of God pays attention to the second coming of Christ. Christianity is not all personal... We need the faith of Jesus. There needs to be a future. Jesus took all of the sins of the world upon Himself. We in the Worldwide Church of God are keeping these festivals in surety for those will come after us…”
(Day of Atonement, Glendora, California WCG, 2000)

No wonder members are confused. I very much doubt Neil Earle was the lone pastor to still talk about the days like that. Since this congregation is ALSO on the West Coast perhaps some of these people went to the Festival in Seaside. What a change in attitude they must have found there compared to Neil Earle’s approach. No wonder all those people in Pasadena left for Neil Earle’s more friendly church when Dennis Pelley started his “push” against the days. But with the WCG HQ moving into the area even that may not be a friendly place for much longer.



WCG - the record speaks for itself: Here is the second in a series of four postings by Anne Hannah appearing on JLF. The first is available in the July 8 upload. While it is quite lengthy (and the version below is abridged) the points made are worth bringing before a wider audience.

Does it matter if they thought they were doing this for the members’ own good? Is there some justification where unchristian actions can be used to do the work of Jesus? For years they have seen the result of this approach in the devastation of the membership. Why not stop when they see so many leave? Did this façade of a reformation become more important than the people entrusted to their care?

“It’s like someone who offers you a choice of two things to drink but before he lets you make your choice he spits into one glass”

These preferences and opinions were relayed to a ministry under tremendous stress. The income was falling; their colleagues were out on the street with some of their wives having to work menial jobs to help make ends meet. They had to please an administration, which for some is the only job reference they had. I would expect most would do what they could to please their employer and look out for their own. Maybe it is all too easy to change when the other choice is hardship and uncertainty.

The main fault lies in the administration that set up this environment. They choose to impose unessential changes (their own words) on a people many of who have had no other customs in their lives. They gradually took away comforting, joyful and inspiring parts of their lives. A former elder put it this way once when describing how he saw some of the changes being made: “It’s like someone who offers you a choice of two things to drink but before he lets you make your choice he spits into one glass” They should be ashamed as Christians to use such tactics and to treat people in such a way. I also feel pity for them that they do not see that saying one thing in the name of Jesus and setting about purposely to do the opposite is wrong.

Where are Ron Stoddart and Alan Barr now? Ron was rescued from this by WCG HQ who transferred him to a more viable congregation. He was also chosen to appear in the “Called to be Free” video. Alan Barr is still District Super of South Eastern US.

The church leadership strung them along with the false belief they would be accepted and choices respected. This wasted years of their lives, alienated and separated them from their friends, even family, and took their money without any intention of fulfilling their promises.

Why should I care about all this? Why should someone like me who prefers Christmas and Easter bother when the church was pushing something I liked? For several reasons, first, I could not accept the false stereotyping and spiritual abuse that was inflicted upon people I had loved for years. Second, I have fond memories and treasured the walk I had with my Lord Jesus through those customs. Third, I believe that Jesus would have me stand up for those that are oppressed because my silence would make me by default a supporter of this wrong. Those who preferred the traditional days deserved better from their church leaders. They were loyal and tithed to the church. The church leadership strung them along with the false belief they would be accepted and choices respected. This wasted years of their lives, alienated and separated them from their friends, even family, and took their money without any intention of fulfilling their promises. But consider that if the leadership would do this to something as trivial and unessential as worship days they will do it on some other issue. Remaining members should beware of this.

Having written about Ron Stoddart’s process to push change on what appears to be a largely unwilling membership I finish with a post I have now reworked that was first written in 2003. It deals with the almost shocking and even betraying declarations by Joseph Tkach regarding days. It describes Dr. Tkach’s actions, and when you compare Stoddart’s frank statements to Joseph Tkach’s professions of grace, it paints a disturbing picture of a church still very controlling and abusive in its practices.

Surely the end does not justify the means. Joseph Tkach has stated that other denominations also have troubles. That is certainly true, but this approach can be used to deflect Christian responsibility.

The September 2003 Worldwide News contained yet another personal from the Worldwide Church of God Pastor General concerning the issue of “days”. In the article entitled “Days Don’t Matter” Joseph Tkach appears to be trying to justify himself and smooth over some of the unrest caused by his July personal “Peace at any Price?”

Tkach’s article was problematic both for the membership and the ministry. As many have observed it is Tkach’s style to “suggest”. But those in the WCG culture know that a suggestion from the top is more than just that. It is a directive to the ministry and yet another policy decision. The difficulty for the ministry is that some of them will be cutting their own throats to carry out this directive. Some ministers realize that to push days will inevitably cause losses both in income and membership. A very difficult situation for those whose congregations are barely making ends meet. It could come to the point of a choice between pleasing their employer and saving their job.

The problem for the membership is that some of them, like conservative Canada and England who largely worship on Saturday, are probably saddened to see forms that they have celebrated being so negatively portrayed once again by their own Pastor General... Members had been told that they had freedom in these matters and no one should have to violate their conscience. Dr. Tkach talks about people modeling freedom but this is discouragement of the expression of that freedom. In Canada where the July US WN personal had yet to even be published and pastors had to make copies of the article and hand them out to the members at services. This gives an indication of how strong a “suggestion” from the Pastor General is.

One accusation leveled against Tkach is that he has changed his policy about days. Yes, this is true, he does appear to be saying something different but this has been the unofficial policy for sometime. The change is that for some reason Tkach feels comfortable enough now to be more transparent. In official statements in 1999 Tkach was very conciliatory about days. In 2001 he had no preference regarding Saturday and Sunday, but he was clearer about how he felt regarding the festivals saying mainstream were preferred. In 2003 the Pastor General is making the strong “suggestion” that members are to move to Sunday, etc. As an example this suggestion was so strong that some ministers weren’t quite sure what he wanted them to do. As a result I was told from a source in the ministry that Randal Dick went to Joseph Tkach himself for a “clarification”. This “suggestion” is not the result of a growing revelation that developed over time despite all the previous official articles. There are plenty of indications (even admissions) that the desire to move to Sunday and mainstream observances has been firmly in place since at least 1998.

Dr. Tkach has used a variety of approaches to sway members over those years but his intentions now are just more out in the open. One move made this year was to quietly take the traditional WCG festivals off the official church calendar. Not only that but the WCG traditional days are not given even in a separate section. Pasadena HQ uses a copied Hebrew calendar from a Jewish website. At least one of the dates for Pentecost is wrong. For those observing WCG traditional days, since when has the WCG ever observed Purim? And now this series of personal articles.

Another contentious matter is members’ complaints that Tkach is forcing them to go to Sunday even against their wishes, thus breaking his word. Tkach’s defense is: “The essence of Christianity is not in the days we meet, but in the message of grace. And as I have written before, it is self-contradictory to preach grace while forcing people to keep one particular day, no matter whether it’s Saturday or whether it is Sunday. We are not forcing anybody to do anything.” (Sept 03 WN)

But isn’t undue influence just that … force, especially when he issues an ultimatum to the pastors: Tkach: “At some point, a pastor must model freedom in Christ, not laws that are no longer valid. … a decision must be made ….” (July 03 WN)

He then actually tells the membership what they are to prefer.

Tkach: “But for most congregations there is a practical reason for meeting on Sundays and if circumstances permit, we should prefer that day, not because it is spiritually better for us ..” (Sept 03 WN)

In other words unless you have an exception you should be meeting on Sunday. In 2001 Tkach warned people to not interfere in a congregation’s right to make a choice but as soon as he wrote these words that is precisely what he is doing. Not only is this giving instruction to what they should choose, it essentially removes their right of choice altogether.

Dr. Tkach tries to use two reasons to justify his actions. First, he uses the example of Paul. Here he comes to the conclusion that “ a pastor cannot seek peace at any price, cannot forever make accommodations to people who are weak in the faith.” (July 03 WN)

But how does this compare with Paul’s writings that aren’t just about tolerating a weaker brother or sister but rather accepting them! Paul even goes one step further when he states, “ Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat lest I make my brother stumble.” (I Cor 8: 13) That brother was not a stranger but a member of that Christian community. This is similar to his instruction in Romans 14 and 15.

Tkach is placing a very narrow interpretation on Paul’s ministry and ignoring the overall and challenging idea of inclusion especially in the face of diversity. If he chastises his own membership because they may not like other ways of ministering (songs and drama) because these are different, why does he have an objection with festivals that “are different”? Is this balanced and fair? The world is filled with differences. Paul would not have asked the Jewish Christians of his time to abandon their culture neither do I believe would he have forced the traditionalists to abandon theirs. Even more so in this day and age where the culture we live in is so multifaceted and changing in our less rigid society.

If Tkach is serious about trying to fit the Worldwide Church of God into the culture that is around them then the major change that needs to be made is not in worship forms but in government.

Joseph Tkach inherited a denomination with a unique culture; one whose worship forms he has admitted are not spiritually inferior. Where was/is Tkach’s responsibility? It is to those sheep given into his care. They needed reassurance, healing and a place to be safe, but the majority of the church is gone because the new WCG was not allowed to be that place for them. To be “seeker friendly” means you must have loving acceptance for all members. After all if people come into a church where there is division and such animosity towards longtime members then why on earth would they believe they would treated any different.

If Tkach is serious about trying to fit the Worldwide Church of God into the culture that is around them then the major change that needs to be made is not in worship forms but in government. In the USA, especially in these times, the virtues of freedom and democracy are precious indeed. Healthy Evangelical churches are not totalitarian. Their members have rights in their organization and their leaders are accountable to those they serve.

Tkach’s second excuse is that despite days not mattering, this is a good strategic decision. Here I question Joseph Tkach’s qualifications as a strategist. Overall his policies have reduced the church to a mere shadow of itself. His timing on this latest push alone came when the WCG suffered financial hardship with “extremely difficult” cuts being made. As well Tkach is fully aware that after eight or nine years many members still meet on Saturday and in areas like Canada and the UK the vast majority have chosen to retain Saturday. Yet given all these factors he still wants to push a controversial issue. This is bad strategy. It will probably mean more income drops and ministerial layoffs.

Traditionalists can’t help but know their days are numbered in this fellowship, so they have a decision before them. They can stay and submit, meet in segregated groups in someone’s home or leave altogether.

Many denominations like the Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, etc. have heard the story of the transformation of the Worldwide Church of God. But as more and more of us leave for those mainstream churches, these fellow Christians are hearing another much different story and that is a great shame. God had given the WCG such a wonderful opportunity.

Related reading: The Apostolic Chair (the very first editorial published on this website in 2001)


09 July. MAILBAG

Weekly Mailbag

London (1): You know it struck me how world events are just another bit of bait on the hook for these guys. They’ll take other peoples suffering and use it to their advantage. A bit sick, eh?


London (2): Hello, I am a member of LCG here in the UK. I read your site with interest, and of course I don't agree with all you write or the way things are phrased but knowing from where you are coming from I take it with a pinch of salt. However I do take exception to the headline Spanky laps up London tragedy. I find this very insulting.

I was working not 10 miles from these bombings and from where I was it was total chaos with sirens blaring ALL day and I do mean ALL day going in and out of town. No one in their right mind would lap this up as you put it. A message to the world has to be preached, I respect your views on RCM and others but I think you're out of order with this headline. You reported with sensitivity and responsibility on the Wisconsin tragedy and I applaud you for that, please act with the same care on this issue without resorting to insulting remarks.


PCG enquiry: Please, can you tell me if Mr. Robert Locher ( Erie, Colo.) is still PCG elder?

AW: No idea. Anyone able to help?

Contradictions: One of the things that real began to wear on me in my last years in the WCG was the fact that Joe Tkach Jr., Michael Feazell, and the rest of the gang had become so brazenly forked tongue. Even when they instituted beneficial changes and reforms, they always spoiled it by saying one thing with one side of their mouths and saying the opposite with the other. It became more and more clear to me that the WCG's leadership are just disqualified from holding any office of responsibility at all, especially in a Christian church.

Jared Olar

NT not at all clear on male dominance: Xbeliever has brought me out of years of lurkdom. Apparently, he is reading an English translation of the original Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, etc. or he wouldn't be so dogmatic ("the NT is clear that men are to rule over women"). He should study the applicable scriptures in the original languages and get the cultural backstory. He'll find that they don't exactly say what the translators said they say, or the background story isn't what we think it is. After all, the translators were all men, and most couldn't fathom that God would allow women to have positions of leadership in any venue. Maybe xbeliever should first study spiritual gifts, and remember that Jesus condemns the burying of the gifts God has given to each of us, or does the Parable of the Talents, too, apply only to men? If a woman has the God-given gift of teaching, and she earnestly desires to teach from the Bible, how is she to use her gift? Behind the scenes, teaching only "easily deceived" women and children (which is ironic, since children are the future and have such malleable minds)? Seems to me that's squelching the Holy Spirit, when a man with that same gift can teach/preach to anyone. I'd certainly not want to face God in the Judgment, trying to explain that one to Him, when Galatians 3:28 is pretty clear on the subject: "...neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus". God gave rulership over Israel to Deborah, leadership to the prophetess Miriam, the explanation of the Law to Huldah, prophecy to Phillip's daughters and to Anna; then there were Priscilla, whom many historical proofs point to as being the author of the book of Hebrews (better than those proofs that point to Paul), and the courageous Queen Esther who faced death to save her people. Anyone wanting more information, go to www.cbeinternational.org, the website of Christians For Biblical Equality. Be prepared to invest quite a bit of time in the study of Biblical equality, because organized religion has had centuries to warp our perception of our Creator's intentions. (And, men, don't worry; it's not a man-hating, brow-beating, feminist site!)

A Seeker of Truth

AW: All good points. To be fair to "xbeliever" I don't think he was advocating patriarchy in the church, but bemoaning the fact that male dominance is (he believes) regrettably embedded in the texts - albeit a product of the cultural milieu. In fact, he's provided us with a similar example this week...

Gideon article: John Gideon's column "...a teaching of Contempt" uses the same old Armstrongist reasoning that if what the Bible says disagrees with what we believe then we'll just deny what it says. Although it's nice that Tkach and his new friends the Evangelicals don't want to be anti-Jewish, the New Testament is unequivocally anti-Jewish. In the NT God sends his only son to be brutally executed by the Romans and uses his chosen people the Jews to arrange it. Then the Jews are told that if they don't violate the eternal covenant they have with God and accept Jesus then they will be condemned. Pontius Pilate is depicted as a reasonable man (historically he was a brutal tyrant) who doesn't want the innocent Jesus executed but pleads to have him released. The Jews are depicted asking that a criminal be released instead and saying let Christ's blood be on their children. The NT has caused the Jews untold misery and should be exposed for the fiction that it is. After Armstrongism isn't time to be honest?" 


Joyce Meyer: [Here] is a correction by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch over some of the allegations they made in an article you link to (on July 2, 2005) in regards to the Joyce Meyer Ministries. Apparently they admit that not all of their facts were correct about JMM. The correction was dated June 19, 2005.

David Stone (1): I was told in the past that the members of David Stones Church had all given, and signed over their assets, property, etc. to the church for Stone's use in preaching the Gospel etc. etc. Is there any truth to this? Now that he's dead, if true, who controls the property? I don't suppose (if it's true) that anyone will give it back do to the members. He was a very slick man. Members in this area that had known me for 20 years believed his version of my resignation and the events surrounding it without batting an eye. His version was entirely fabricated. I was stunned at the time that a Minister would deliberately lie and lie big time with a straight face. I know this as friends gave me copies of the sermon tapes he preached after I left. I also dealt with another person (at Pasadena) that would lie in a heart beat and I was shocked & stunned at the time to have encountered two liars in Gods church... Later I realized that members were truthful, or at least agonized over sinning, for the most part - but the Ministry was cut from a different cloth. At any rate I do feel sorry for Stone and have prayed for him and his family. Just curious as to the property and asset rumor I heard sometime ago. Thank you in advance.

David Stone (2): Er, um, ah... what about the 15 year old boy... I think one writer about him called it "relationship"? And for which he went to prison? Have I missed something here, or do we feel sorry for the criminal and ignore the victim?

John Karagiannidis

AW: Agreed, but the man is dead and those that wrote were honest about the issues that led to his incarceration. I doubt whether belated indignation on a public forum will serve to do much for either his own children or the victim. No further correspondence on this matter.

DNA: I've read a couple of items on AW (or related sites) that mention DNA proof which invalidates the theory of British Israelism. However, despite repeated searches of the internet, I cannot find any papers or books discussing such DNA evidence. This would be a handy bit of knowledge to have so that I will have one more reason why I am trying to leave the world of the CoGs behind. If you could point me to these articles, I would be very grateful.


AW: You might begin with Dr. Michael Germano's article on BibArch

Preterism: Preterism is proof once again that the Bible can be made to prove anything given sufficient, clever and creative twisting. The hermeneutical gymnastics are a sight to behold.

Mr. Stump's article points the audience to a biblical interpretation which is the exact opposite of the pre-millenialist (futurist) stance most exWCG folks hold to and which Mr. Stump once defended while a writer for the WCG. It is good that he was able to investigate a different way to spin the Bible but I submit that he hasn't gone far enough.

In my exit process from the WCG in '92 I obtained a little booklet entitled, "What Happened in 70 AD?". That was my first introduction to Preterism... I was impressed as to how there was a refreshing honesty as to treating the subject of imminency. Some great thing was about to happen "soon". The NT is pregnant with clearly-stated warnings. And yet all the verses speaking of an event just up ahead were basically treated as being addressed to us in the
alleged "end times", not to the folks who heard them in the times they were written. The scriptures had to be twisted to mean "not soon". The delay was (and is) the foundation of the WCG and similar cults for centuries. It was a great way to keep the folks stirred up, subservient and giving over the centuries. Time is short. Yeah, right.

I obtained more studies on the subject and was amazed at how much more sense the Preterist argument made. As an ardent supporter of futurism, I realized I'd been duped for 25 years! It's a long story as briefly given in my interview but I eventually found that Preterism is simply another way to hold the NT as being true by spinning it to mean other than it seems to speak. The futurists do the same thing. The latter group holds to the physical promises and spiritualize the time statements; the Preterists spiritualize the promised events and cling to the time statements as real. Both are trying mightily to hold the Bible as being a book that can be relied on. And both are wrong.

I remember discussing the clashing subjects of futurism and Preterism with a former WCG evangelist who exited during the "Great Rebellion" of the mid-70s. He told me that to believe in Preterism would make out Jesus to be a liar. Those are his words, not mine. Mr. Stump asks, "...how much is faith worth that fears to take an honest look at itself?" I assert that the real challenge is taking an honest critical look at the whole assumed premise of Christianity from which the cult masters draw their strength.

I have to say that Preterism helped me to become entirely free of the terrors of the prophecies as interpreted by the various branches of the Church Of God specifically and the false assumptions of Christianity in general. I hope these words won't dissuade folks from following Mr. Stump's suggestion to at least know something about Preterism. It's for sure the many futurist cult masters won't tell you about it without the spin.

Jim Baldwin

Robert L. Kuhn (1): Yes Kuhn has the PBS program, no he isn't with the WCG, no he doesn't seem to identify publicly anyway with any specific org, and yes he is connected to the OBP.

Here's his Random House bio -- they've left out his AC stint :-) ...

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, who hosts the PBS series Closer to Truth, advises China on economic policy, mergers and acquisitions, science, and media and is vice chairman of the new Beijing Institute for Frontier Science. The author of numerous books, including The Library of Investment Banking, Dealmaker, and Made in China: Voices from the New Revolution, he holds a Ph.D. in anatomy (brain research) from UCLA and an M.S. in management from MIT. He is a managing director at Smith Barney/Citigroup.

And here's a "Where Are They Now" column from 1998 from the Ambassador Report:

Many will remember Dr. Robert L. Kuhn (AC-Pasadena 1969) who was Garner Ted Armstrong's executive assistant in the early 1970s. After that era, Kuhn, who already had a Ph.D. from UCLA, went on to get an MBA from MIT. In the years that followed he wrote and/or edited more than 30 books on business and finance. He is currently president of The Geneva Companies, a group specializing in the arranging of medium size corporate mergers. In addition, Kuhn is also chairman of the Original Bible Project.

While many are aware of Dr. Kuhn's accomplishments, many may be surprised to learn that his wife, Dora Serviarian-Kuhn, is a respected concert pianist who performs with major orchestras around the world. Her recent recording of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto on the ASV label has been hailed by a number of critics as the finest since William Kapell's legendary recording of fifty years ago. The Kuhns are scheduled this month to be in China where Dr. Kuhn is working on a series of TV documentaries about the new Chinese economy and where Dora Serviarian-Kuhn will be performing with the China National Symphony.

Pam Dewey

Robert L. Kuhn (2):  Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lawrence_Kuhn and note that HWA is mentioned within the article.

Robert L. Kuhn (3): Re Robert Kuhn. Yes, he is the same Robert Lawrence Kuhn who hosts the PBS series “Closer to Truth” (Which is based on the book of the same title I read a few years ago.) Robert is no longer associated with the WCG, the Armstrong movement or any institutionalized religion. He was the leading intellectual in the WCG under the GTA ascendancy in the 1974-1978 period—in my view, the Golden Years of Armstrongism in terms of reform. He pried the church away from from C. Paul Meredith's unbiblical view that humans were just like animals, based on a misapplication of the text in Ecclesiastes. He influenced Armstrong on the concept of the “spirit in man”—that there is a non-physical part of the brain which accounts for mind and consciousness. Kuhn had an accredited doctorate in brain science. He was a main force behind the much-maligned but theologically sound Systematic Theology Project, still accepted today by the CGI as a foundational doctrinal statement.

Kuhn became the object of HWA’s wrath and the symbol of the much-derided “Liberalism” of the 1970s, which Bob Thiel and Dave Pack can tell you much about. And, yes, he was involved with his friends James Tabor and Phillip Arnold—two other first-rate intellects now ex-members of the church - on the Original Bible Project. He, along with another sane voice from the 1970s, Dr. George Geis--- former AC Theology Department Head-- also wrote an excellent book in the 1980s looking at the lessons from religion and management titled, “The Firm Bond”. The loss of Robert Kuhn to Armstrongism is one of our most tragic losses.

Ian Boyne

Lame attempt? The younger Bradford’s sarcasm is a lame attempt to deflect from the issue. His old man was heard promoting the Tkachian changes which, when he was challenged, disavowed any knowledge of his (own) actions. Why not clear the air by posting the full transcript of that sermon, or the audio, on AW? The session was mid to late 1994, either at a “Pentecost” service or a “festival of trumpets” service, or may have been during Bradford’s (snr) visit to Australia in that year. It shouldn't be that difficult to locate the "sermon", surely! In conclusion if any one out there does have the material please send it to my e-mail address at pblack79@hotmail.com.




Spanky laps up London tragedy: Roderick C. Meredith won't be the only COG vampire to seek vindication for his hateful eschatology in the wake of the London bombings, but he's certainly one of the most blatant.

A series of terrorist attacks has just occurred in the city of London, England. This is indeed a horrible tragedy. All of us should pray for the victims and their families. But it will do only a limited amount of good to sorrow over what has already happened. For this is only the beginning of the “series of terrorist attacks”—as Prime Minister Blair of Britain called them—which are predicted by the Creator to continue. And these attacks are destined to affect primarily the Americans, the British and the other British-descended peoples of the world.

The entire article is available for the titillation of the weak-minded on the LCG website. And for more perversity there's always Dave Pack's ghoulish gloat on his cult site.

For every effect, there is a cause—and, in this case, the cause runs deeper than the current geopolitical affairs of today.

In the wake of the World Trade Center terrorist attack, David C. Pack, the editor and publisher of The REAL TRUTH, wrote an article revealing why that event took place—and why the U.S. and its allies can expect more attacks. The article has direct application to recent events in Britain.

Once considered the capital of the world, London was headquarters to the greatest empire in history. Yet now, this once-grand city and the empire it directed have greatly declined. Most do not understand that there is a reason—a cause—for Britain’s rapid fall from world pre-eminence.

Our book AMERICA and BRITAIN in bible prophecy reveals why both nations, and the territories and countries that flow from them, will experience even more shocking events.

WCG's timeline of contradictions: From Part 1 of a series of postings by Anne on JLF this week.

(This timeline highlights the double mindedness of WCG Headquarters. I have separated this timeline into a few of the different WCG issues to show how the church handled each)

Herbert Armstrong’s dangerous doctrines:

1997 WCG sues PCG over copyright violations of HWA works.

1998 WCG says they will rewrite and publish Mystery of the Ages.

1997-98 Tkach writes Transformed by Truth (TBT). In TBT Tkach says it is the church’s Christian duty to keep HWA's materials such as Mystery of the Ages out of circulation.

2001 Christianity Today reports, “The court majority said that despite the WCG action to suppress the book, PCG could not claim fair use in reprinting the entire book. Because they now believe Mystery of the Ages is "riddled with error," WCG officials say they feel a Christian duty to withhold the book.” (Christianity Today 2001)

Oct 2002 WCG HQ sells HWA writings online.

June 2003 Christianity Today articles announces WCG sale of HWA books to PCG. “"These are heretical doctrines that are destructive to the eternal life of anyone who comes under their influence," Arnn said. "To have profited from the release of the copyrights is a matter that I would think [would be] very troubling to the conscience." Some former WCG members criticized the church's leaders. "They're willing, in effect, to support what they condemn—to permit the perpetuation and promotion of heresy for the sake of money," said Reginald Killingley, a former Worldwide Church pastor.”

June 2005 In radio interview Mike Feazell says PCG is dangerous group

WCG HQ’s violation of the members’ freedom in Christ:

July 1998 WCG District Superintendent Alan Barr having been to ministerial conference relates to Georgia congregation WCG HQ plans to move all congregations to mainstream customs as quickly “as sensitivities allowed”..

August 1998 Report on late June ministerial conference “"From those discussions and from subsequent communication has come what I believe is a Spirit-led official position on the subject," Mr. Tkach said.
"It was agreed and decided that the Worldwide Church of God will provide increased flexibility in worship by accepting the incorporation of the traditional Christian festivals into its annual worship calendar.
"How this flexibility is applied may vary from region to region internationally and from congregation to congregation in any given region.
Congregations are free to meet on any combination of the festivals. A number of U.S. congregations have expressed their desire to celebrate only the Christian festivals and to no longer meet on the seven annual festivals, while other congregations prefer a combination of festival occasions."

July-August 1998 WCG Canada advertises special Feast issue “Preparing for Festival 98” in the Northern Light magazine.

Sept-October 1998 WCG Canada without explanation pulls Festival issue and replaces it with issue on worship publishing articles on annual worship calendar and is Sunday the mark of the Beast? No Festival themed articles.

Sept. 1998 Tkach writes personal saying ministers should support members’ choice in worship.

Nov 1998 US church survey shows majority favor Saturday worship and mixed liturgy.

Nov-Dec 1998 WCG Canada publishes Christmas issue of Northern Light filled with articles on the Incarnation.

1999 Ron Stoddart stops encouraging “days”. (see Pastor’s Desk letter March 2002)

March 1999 Tkach writes personal saying both sets of days must be allowed and abolishing WCG traditional days would be against very principals of the gospel.

Early 2000 Jekyll Island ministerial conference related need to stop calling Fall Festival Feast of Tabernacles.

October 2000 Neil Earle gives sermon on spiritual value of Holydays.

October 2000 Glen Webber writes on his website berating traditionalists who attended Seaside Fall Festival.

Early 2001 At Savannah Georgia regional conference it was emphasized for ministers to stop pampering traditionalists.

August 2001 Tkach writes personal announcing WCG official preference for mainstream holidays but will still permit WCG traditional days to be observed.

March 2002 Ron Stoddart writes he discourages holydays because he receives salary from HQ.

May 2003 Ron Stoddart includes letter on his website from a supporter asking members to obey and be submissive.

July 2003 Ron Stoddart complains about how miserable some members are making his life.

July 2003 Tkach writes stating a major change in the WCG “official” stand on days. That ministers should “model freedom in Christ not laws that are no longer valid … a decision must be made”.

Sept 2003 Tkach writes “Days Don’t Matter” personal in response to his harsh July 2003 personal “Peace at Any Price?” He denies that any one is being forced to change.

Nov 2003 Ron Stoddart tells members that in regards to moving to Sunday, that is where the denomination is going “like it or not”.

2005 Joseph Tkach writes still publicly proclaiming, “Sometimes people today get too opinionated about worship — true worship has to involve a certain day of the week, a certain type of song, a certain posture or some other detail. But I think that Jesus’ answer to the Samaritan woman covers it well: The time will come when you will worship God neither this way nor that, because God is not to be found in earthly places, rotations of the earth, cultural music or human gestures.”

WCG members are they saved or lost?

Sept. 1998 Tkach’s wife writes article about WCG members should be affirming each other’s Christianity.

Oct. 1998 Joseph Tkach tells EMNR most who believe in Armstrong are “lost”.

The decision to ordain women pastors:

2003-present HQ doctrinal team begins and is still in an extensive study to decide the issue of whether or not women should be ordained pastors.

2004 Tkach’s wife served as council member at Azusa Pacific’s theology school for organization to promote/help women become pastors alongside men. 



Fancy attending services in Wadsworth? Longtime AW correspondent Dateline Pasadena asks an interesting question. While scanning through a Ministry Watch press release on Joyce Meyer (available as a PDF document, it makes both fascinating and disturbing reading) he noticed this statement from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Under the law, a religious organization can be tax exempt only if its property is used for the public good and only if public church services are held regularly at the site, Holman said. Meyer’s headquarters has no public services; its chapel is used only by the 600 employees who produce and sell tapes and books, broadcast Meyer’s television program and collect money for the ministries.

DP comments: "Will WCG allow the public to come in for worship services in their chapel in their new building each week? Will the public be allowed regular access?" 

Good questions! Here at AW we're thinking of hiring a mini-bus so we can crash Dave Pack's services in Wadsworth, Ohio next week. Just imagine the thrill of seeing Big Dave in person behind that lectern (pictured). DP has kindly agreed to supply the popcorn. 

Tithe refunds? If you gave money to a church within the last three years, and suspect they've misused the moolah, you may possibly have legal recourse. Following on from our June 24 story an AW correspondent writes:

I lived in Nashville for 6 years and was vaguely familiar with The Nashville Church. We met a couple from there once at our son's kindergarten open house, and they struck up a conversation and of course, invited us to church, which we graciously declined. The lawsuit interested me, though, enough to make a couple of phone calls and get the name of the lawyer to see if he was interested in initiating one against WCG. He called me back promptly, and is interested, but he told me the bad news that there is a statute of limitations of three years. It's of course been more than that since I flushed the last money down the toilet of WCG, but I asked him if the three years was from the date of the last donation, and he said yes. I told him that all I needed to do was to write them another check to get the clock ticking again, and he said I shouldn't do that. He did say that if anyone is interested in pursuing this, that, as long as they lived in Tennessee when they donated, he is willing to represent them. 

We'll pass on any enquiries on this matter to the writer.

Weekly Mailbag

NT clear on male dominance? Anyone who's reads the New Testament and has to decide if it says that it's okay for women to be ministers is kidding themselves (WCG doctrinal committee divided, 6/25/05). The NT is clear that men are to rule over women. I don't agree with that but let's at least be honest.

And COGWM's split brings to mind Armstrong's main criticism about Christianity that with all the sects and division they can't possibly be God's true church. The disregard by the ministers for the well being of the members betrays their insincerity and greed for power. 


Pardon my skepticism: A reason WCG cannot come to any conclusions about the ordination of women is because within one month any number of women would rise to the top of what's left of WCG with more heart, compassion, wisdom, kindness, common sense, clear thinking and good judgment, than the men of Gawd have ever remotely known.

The WCG leadership has had to fake these attributes in this "miracle of Jesus", although for the most part has rarely even attempted that. Most male leadership types who lead simply because they are male, would simply be overthrown and marginalized by the obviously superior perspectives of just about ANY woman with a well integrated mind. A compassionate woman who has loved and raised children AND thinks for herself, would be particularly fatal to their job security. Therefore, they must remain ambivalent on this topic for the foreseeable future, until such a time as they can figure out what to do with the millions that they hold in sold former assets and their own future security. Approving the ordination of women will be directly related to their solving these personal needs and will come to pass when they can leave the organization behind once and for all. You'll be surprised how clear Jesus becomes on this matter once they feel secure for life.

Pardon my skepticism on their interest in any genuine theological or spiritual truth. I have seen too many members wither in depression, anxiety and cynicism to think Jesus had any part in this. Jesus would have to be a certified paranoid schizophrenic with narcissistic personality disorder to have orchestrated this mess. I know too many decades long devoted former ministers and wives left out in the cold with nothing but the thought "what the hell was that all about," to have anything but contempt for the idea that Jesus brought this to pass. Jesus had NOTHING to do with the changes in the WCG. It is men playing Church. Any place but a church, and the current WCG male leadership would have been terminated long ago.

Ministers wives whose husbands are now dead or dying prematurely (most in their 50') have assured me that the decline, and sometimes death, of their mates has been accelerated by the despair and confusion inflicted upon them by the spiritually abusive NEW WCG. 

So, of course we can draw no conclusions about the ordination of women. Read the papers and you simply have to see the truth that the Bible contains whatever answer YOU need on that or any other topic. There might be a more practical truth here than they can stand. ANY ONE WOMAN with a heart could have done, and would do a better job at leading than all these men put together. It's simply too risky giving them a chance to prove it. Therefore, sorry brethren, the Bible is a bit fuzzy at this time on this topic and we'll let you know when Jesus speaks a bit more clearly for us. Gosh...and he was so clear on everything else we've wanted to do.


Splinter splatter: Every time there's a splinter split up, the first we hear about is someone absconding with the money. Start up a new church in secret, then snatch the money and you're set. What I'm wondering about is what is $82,000 in tithe money doing sitting in a bank? Isn't it supposed to be spent on getting the message out? Doing the Work of God? These "leaders" tell us how urgent the "need" is, to "dig deep" and support the work but it sits in a bank? Now I'm hearing about a couple of ministers who are looking for World Tomorrow broadcasts and sermon tapes with all references to HWA and WCG "removed". ? That's kind of a get rich quick scheme; if such tapes existed, they'd be sort of a template, insert your own org. name and wait for the money to roll in.


Bill transfigured! The person requesting a Bill Bradford sermon tape from '95 from Melbourne may be mistaken or confused. My dad was never in Melbourne in '95. My dad and mom were living in the bay area in California. To the best of my parent's knowledge they never made any trips to Australia in '95. The requestor may be confused in the time period but just in case my dad was transfigured one Sabbath in '95 to Melbourne and spoke he can contact my dad as he may have the the sermon notes or tape in question although it is unlikely it would be of him extolling the Trinity.

B. Bradford

David Stone: Thanks for helping me find out about David Stone, would you pass on my thanks to Garvin Greene, for his kindness. David Stone... served us with all his heart and we in turn loved him, & many tears were shed when he left this state. Our prayers & condolences go out to his family - I say ours as I speak for many here in WV who cared about the man...

Mike Burgess

Where's an axe? How in the world can anyone think that a church that changes doctrines has "the truth". If they do now, they didn't yesterday, and it will change again tomorrow. All the WCG split-off's are from the same "tree", they are only branches of that tree. If the WCG was corrupt, and it was, then according to Matthew 7:18 so are the split-off's and cannot bring forth good fruit.

Almon McCann

Computer intelligence: I just tried to follow the link you gave on the 25th for Tkach's comments on the role of women in the ministry. But my computer wouldn't let me do it without first disabling the parental controls. It seems my computer is even smarter than I thought. :-)

Bob E.

Robert Kuhn: Could you tell me if the Robert Kuhn associated with the WCG and Herbert Armstrong is the same Robert Lawrence Kuhn, host of the PBS programme 'Closer to the Truth'? Is Kuhn still connected in any way to WCG or any other Christian religious organization? Is Robert Lawrence Kuhn also associated with the Original Bible Project? Thank you.

AW: Probably, don't know, don't know. Anyone able to comment?

Keith Stump on Preterism: Would you have Mr. Stump email me so we can discuss his recent article on Preterism? Thanks so much.

Ron McRay

AW: Sorry Ron, since changing mail programs I've lost Keith's email address. If you're out there Keith, maybe you could drop a line.

The last word: [Norm] Edwards' statements about the electrical circuitry is flawed in several aspects, the easiest of which to demonstrate is the electrical service (transformers) supplying power to all of the former airbase supplies 208 volt service, not 240. As a result, power usage (amperage) for the same appliance is higher than it is with a higher voltage circuitry. Appliances that push the limits of a system produce enough heat because of the lower voltage to cause problems. The military choice to use 208 volts instead of the usual 220/240 causes all of the businesses on the "hill" a certain amount of problems. But Edwards would not be aware of that as no products are produced in Edwards' holdings, temporary as they are in nature.

Carolyn Smith-Kizer

AW: Barring a major catastrophe AW is declaring the next 30 days totally free of Port Austin coverage.



Third Thoughts: A while ago AW tested the waters with a new column giving COG ministers a chance to present an alternate perspective from the critical approach we usually adopt. The seed fell, it seems, on stony ground, as there has been no rush to present follow-up pieces. Still, the introductory article by Ian Boyne was well worth posting. Felix Taylor thinks so anyway. He's just posted a thoughtful response on XCG.

Ian, for those who haven't read his article, took a hearty swipe at evangelicalism. Felix enters into the spirit of forthright debate and slaps right back (though it's unclear which cheek took the blow). But no name-calling, no ad hominem attacks? How very un-COGish! 

Russell Miller reflects: I am a second-generation WCG survivor - born in the church, raised in the church, and an adherent (both willing and unwilling) to the doctrines and other things they taught until I finally made the complete break at the age of around 22 or 23. I've never made a secret of the fact that my life has been a very difficult one (and there's enough blame to go around for that), but the WCG and its teachings has a great deal to do with that fact. Of course, to some degree, it's never been all that much of a mystery as to why, but circumstances have conspired to expand on that reasoning and make it crystal-clear, and I wanted to share it. Read more.

Questioning the unquestionable: What if some of the many heroes of faith, even some of the biggies, were simply mentally ill as we understand it today? That's the question Dennis Diehl poses in his latest column. Not a question too many practicing COG members would care to tackle, but Dennis is good that way - boldly going where no Ambassador alumni have gone before. To say this is his most provocative article yet may be an understatement. Click across at your own risk.

Someone once asked what’s the difference between a Bible Prophet or Christian fundamentalist and a paranoid schizophrenic? Well, one hears voices in their head, has a heightened moral code, is judgmental yet can be very deceptive and manipulative, has delusions of being on a mission from God, sees things that no one else present sees, hears things that one else hears, sees lights in his head, is the center of the universe and has special knowledge that must be kept secret until the right time an then can only be understood as explained by the one. The other, of course, is a paranoid schizophrenic.

Once again with feeling: More from Port Austin. Marleen Edwards has provided a reaction from husband Norm to a posting last month. It follows in edited form.

Scott Pfeilstucker is not a fire chief. He is a fire captain. He is not at all responsible for determining the cause of the fire, and therefore the other firemen are not even responsible for reporting information to him that might be necessary to determine the cause. Scott did not interview any of the people who were at the fire and never mentioned that he had read any of the reports written by those who did the interviews.

While I objected to Scott saying that there was no evidence of arson, it is not unreasonable to determine those things, so he is accurate in saying that he did not know of any evidence of arson and as long as he speaks for himself, that is fine. 

I believe Scott is engaging in slander when he states that the fire was caused by overloaded electrical wiring. Scott said that he "heard" that there were only four circuits in the building and that 10 space heaters would be overloading them. If we were somehow managing to run 10 heaters on four circuits (one would have to clamp down the breakers or bypass them to do this), he would be right. But the truth is that there is a 150-amp, 240 volt, 30-circuit panel for the dorm rooms plus an additional 100 amp, 240-volt 18-circuit panel for the hot water heaters, dryers and other big things. When I mentioned this to Scott, he agreed that his conclusion was inaccurate.

Scott repeated his desire to remain neutral on this issue and encouraged me to use the official reports. He said he had never seen the statements that [Phil] Frankford had written and attributed to him. It is true that he did not want to write a retraction--he did not want to write anything. At this point, I am not sure if Scott is saying different things to me than he is to Carolyn [Kizer] or if Carolyn is simply changing Scott's words.

I did say to Scott that people would not reasonably want to stay in dorms if a fireman was openly saying that the wiring caused the fire. I have found Scott to be reasonable in his dealings with me and I expect to work together with him in the property condominium association for a long time. I will go back and talk to him about it.

We have had two new people come to help us within the last week, and expect several more soon. The work continues here.

Searching desperately for...  It's great when search engines like Yahoo and Google direct people to AW, but sometimes you have to wonder why. OK, so "what happened to ambassador college" makes sense, but some of the less likely searches that brought people here in June were:

lighted pitch and putt in Gulfport Mississippi, volleyball dimension, chicago fire arms co the improved protector, prayers for pope benedict, Congregation Emanuel Denver CO phone number address, carnal carvings photos, edwards pocket watch, baseball terminology dugout, lighted tennis courts - indianapolis, latest voluptuous issue, brethren spanking church service cult, a website where i can watch the seed of chuckie

Hopefully they weren't too disappointed...

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