August 2005 - Issue 64

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

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Saturday August 27

Oops: Earlier we wrongly ascribed the use of the Kierkegaard quote (see below) to Bob Thiel. It seems he was actually quoting Ron Dart. We apologize to Bob for the misunderstanding. The item has been corrected.

Holy Existentialism! First David Hulme butchers a quote from Søren Kierkegaard (in his first television special for COG-aic), but who'd have guessed Ron Dart would follow in his footsteps? The quote reads in part: "Christian scholarship is the church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close...  Praise be to everyone who works to consolidate the reputation of Christian scholarship, which helps to restrain the New Testament, this confounded book, which would, one, two, three, run us all down if it got loose."

You probably won't find any references to Kierkegaard in the latest Faith Networks, but you will find articles by a variety of thoughtful and independently minded COG writers, including a nice little item from former UCG New Zealand member Graham Robinson.

Thursday August 25

Grace International Fellowship

 Is a great name
 Is a misleading name
 Is pure windowdressing


Who'd have thought it - there's a now a new Yahoo group called Grace International Fellowship! moderated by Charles Sawyer.  The group blurb reads "The Worldwide Church of God is in the process of changing it's name to Grace International Fellowship. This is a new group to use for fellowship on line with those in the WCG/GIF or have been associated with it." 

Wednesday August 24

Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi (a.k.a. "Soapy Sam"), the noted Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath apologist, is scheduled to speak in the United Kingdom next month. Any British readers wanting details can contact Robert Taylor.

Thanks for all the great suggestions for WCG's new name. This has to be a big help for Joe, as it's the largest and most comprehensive consultation exercise held so far! The list has just been updated

Sunday August 21

Helpful suggestions have been flooding in for the re-branding of Joe's corporation. Would you believe flowing in? How about dribbling in in sufficient numbers to make a puddle? Judge for yourself by clicking across to view some of the responses so far.

Friday August 19

First entry in the renaming of the WCG: Battered Brethren (a tribute to all those good and decent people who have been treated so shoddily by the Tkach apparatchiks). 

Tuesday August 16

Latest Alexa website rankings show LCG's Tomorrow's World climbing to the 201,000 mark, its best performance since we started monitoring, while The Journal edges back into the top half million websites (469,000) ahead of Greg Albrecht's floundering PTM (529,000).

A couple of emails have pointed out that UCG's Longitude feature is now back after "technical difficulties". 

Friday August 12

The WCG is holding its  Senior Pastors conference in Palm Springs at the moment. Coincidentally, as this upload goes online, the cult website's main page has gone down... proof that the Eternal is still answering prayers, even if not those of the Senior Pastors.

Tuesday August 9

The Kilough member letter of August 4 is now online at the UCG website.

Jim Ross, creator of the Music for the Churches of God website and known to many for his involvement with the CEM forum, is battling severe health problems which have only been diagnosed in the last few days.

Friday August 5

Have you noticed, asks an observant UCG member, that the UCG World News and Prophecy blog/podcast "Longitude" hasn't been updated in a MONTH? (Shucks, so much for the "nehemaniacal" zeal of Home Office under President Clyde.) Are prophetic events, our correspondent wonders, taking a summer vacation?

Tuesday August 2

A new column from Dennis Diehl appears today. 

Monday August 1

A new AW editorial appears today: Watch World News!

Guy Swenson has announced the latest issue of Faith Networks. Articles include Ron Dart on church music, Bill Stough on prayer and contributions from Scarlett Stough, Lenny Cacchio, Joan Osborn, Bill Jacobs, Wendy Pack, Jim O'Brien, Guy Swenson and Pam Dewey. You can download the magazine in PDF format, or request a free subscription by email.

Imagine the headline, GTA sex scandal hits Australia. Well, maybe it just takes a little longer for the news to filter Down Under. Then again, perhaps not.

UCG member's lawsuit settled: From the Gary, Indiana Post-Tribune

The woman who sued the Tri-Creek school district because it didn’t excuse her son from attending a religious event is dropping the lawsuit. Ruth Scheidt, of Shelby, said she and the Tri-Creek School Corp. reached an agreement Thursday and her son will be excused for missing classes.

“It’s all over,” Scheidt said about the lawsuit.

Scheidt, mother of a Lowell Middle School student, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the school board for not excusing her son to attend a week-long religious festival. Scheidt is a member of the United Church of God in Munster and they observe an event called Feast of the Tabernacle [sic].

Her son wasn’t excused from school or given make-up classwork when he attended the event last year, which ran from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7. Jacquelyn Bowie-Suess, an attorney for Indiana’s branch of the American Civil Liberties Union representing Scheidt in this matter, came to an agreement with the school district, Scheidt said Thursday. Her son will be excused for the days he missed and for future religious events, Scheidt said.

“I’m very thankful this didn’t have to go to court,” Scheidt said.



Madness at PTM: Doug Ward has an interesting commentary on the latest Plain Truth magazine, which you can read over at XCG

In conjunction with this issue’s “Caught in the Power Trap” theme, The Plain Truth is announcing a “Day for the Captives” (the “captives” being “those who are in the bonds of religious oppression and legalism”) to be held on March 12, 2006. They have given this event its own snazzy logo, featuring a picture of two hands in handcuffs joined for prayer, with a church window faintly evident in the background.

The snazzy logo is in fact an el cheapo recycling of the cover from Brother Greg's justly underappreciated book Bad News Religion. Doug goes on to make this point.

...Mike Feazell’s editorial in this issue is entitled “Authority: Use with Caution.” He says nothing, of course, about the (continuing) abuse of power in WCG.

Feazell is undoubtedly unaware of how hypocritical he appears to many of us XCGers. In his book... he points out early on that one of the problems with the old WCG was its abusive authority structure. Then later in the book he argues that this structure had to stay in place for the full implementation of necessary reforms. (In other words, the ends justify the means.)

... In my view, Feazell should clean his own house before presuming to be an authority on the use of authority. Please excuse me if I occasionally roll my eyes while perusing the revamped Plain Truth.

Has Madness struck UCG Home Office too? There's a strange story doing the rounds about UCG's flagship magazine, The Good News. According to a group posting forwarded to AW it seems the zealous lads at HO want to - wait for it - change its name. What kind of marketing moron would pull the plug on the leading COG periodical brand is uncertain. At this stage we're unable to confirm the accuracy of this report.

Addendum: We've since received the following advice from GN Managing Editor Scott Ashley: There is no truth to the speculation that the name of The Good News magazine is being changed. Apparently someone confused that with a recent discussion about names for the TV program to be produced at the home office. There are no plans to change the name of The Good News magazine.

Shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic:  The September WCG Today rolls out the changes at HQ, "Mathew H. Morgan, 44, was named church controller, replacing Ronald Kelly, who retired July 22."

And "Bernard W. Schnippert, 56, was named general counsel of the church and its related entities in February, replacing Ralph Helge, who retired..."

Carn Catherwood has also been retired, and former high flyer Phil Rice has transitioned to "bivocational" status.

Prophecy comes alive, brethren: Just when you thought it was safe to read World News & Prophecy again, along comes Dennis Diehl with a column on the subject. Some of the good folk over at JLF seem to think he does this just to irritate them (though our Mailbag correspondents today certainly disagree!) The old preacher's adage, "Oh Lord, comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" comes to mind.

AW tries to present a range of views. Our first columnist "The Whistler" presented a heavily Evangelical viewpoint. Earlier this year we even offered space to current COG ministers in "Third Thoughts" (Ian Boyne was the first writer featured). As always, if you don't like, don't click.

Perhaps this is the right moment to announce that we have a new columnist joining the lineup in September with quite a different perspective... stay tuned.

What's up in PCG? The following posting recently appeared on one of the news boards. The writer formerly ran a discussion group on PCG. We sincerely hope the information is inaccurate.

I recently had a discussion with a former PCG cult member who is still in contact with current PCG members. If this info is true it is very troubling!

1-Members have been told to sell their homes and prepare to flee to Jordan by July 07 and that 2010 is the date for the return of Jesus. Of course Jordan kicked out the PCG already so I don't know how he plans to get in. Also, I was told that the FBI has been alerted...

2-Certain members have been told to divorce due to being married to a member of another race. I wonder if that applies to Marvin Campbell...

3-All tithes now go into one big ... fund... I'm not sure if 2nd is included but you can bet tithe of the tithe is!

4-On member who lost their job was told by the local goon to get another job and start tithing or be put out.

5-A member I knew and liked very much died recently. He was a diabetic and got into hot water for taking medication. I was told he stopped taking his insulin... you can guess the result.

Weekly Mailbag

With lots happening since the previous mailbag, events caught up with some of the earlier correspondents. We've put most of it together below anyway.

Careless Joe: Joe Jr. wrote: Our current name has always presented certain challenges in translation. In France, for example, it is translated L’Eglise Universelle De Dieu, which is the historic name of the Roman Catholic Church... In some French-speaking areas, we have used the name Monde du Venir (Tomorrow’s World) as the name of our church. There is a cult in El Salvador that was using the name translated "Worldwide Church of God" before we had a church there, so we use a different name in that country. In other Spanish speaking places, for other reasons, we have also had to use names other than a literal translation of “Worldwide Church of God.” As a result of these anomalies in Spanish-speaking places, we have to use three different denominational names...

What's he thinking? Captions please.

Is this another example of Jr.'s carelessness with facts? Perhaps his administration is willing to sacrifice accuracy and truth, even in relatively small matters, in the service of a covert agenda? I saw this sort of prevarication by the WCG pastor-general take place 10 years ago. Leopards do indeed find it impossible to change their spots. Disclaimer: I have not been linked with WCG for almost ten years, so it's possible some translation protocols may have changed during that time. If so, they have badly deteriorated.

The French translation of Tomorrow's World, and WCG's corporate name in Francophone countries, was Le Monde à Venir. (If you think the difference is trivial, be aware that a Google search using Jr.'s version brought up nothing except a couple of porn sites.) The Spanish translation of WCG was always Iglesia de Dios Universal in every location, including El Salvador.

Conclusion: Would you buy a used car from this salesman? How about a used church?


P.S. For Jr.'s edification, here's part of the Merriam-Webster entry for "catholic." "Catholic" does not appear to be a registered trademark. 1 a often capitalized : of, relating to, or forming the church universal b often capitalized : of, relating to, or forming the ancient undivided Christian church or a church claiming historical continuity from it 2 : COMPREHENSIVE, UNIVERSAL; especially : broad in sympathies, tastes, or interests.

Siege mentality: To the retired evangelist who thinks it is "not uncommon for companies to register many domain names when they are planning a change and want to protect themselves from 'domain bandits'," I say WRONG! Companies with good reputations do not need to resort to such drastic measures. One of WCG's problems (besides their siege mentality, bad reputation & sordid past...) is that most of the domain names they'd like to have, are already taken, and so there are very few choices left--especially if including the word "grace" is important to them (which I think it is). For that reason, it is totally understandable why they've already registered a new name, in more than one form. I would do that too, if I were in their shoes.

What I don't understand is why Dr. Tkach seems to think he needs to "patronize" the WCG membership by (i.e. "gathering input from the whole church") making them think they actually have a say in a new name for the denomination, when "GIF" has already been chosen! Why not just announce that a decision was made to change the name to "Grace International Fellowship"? Why all the corporate B.S. about needing to take the necessary time to establish and put into operation a process (for coming up with a new name)? After all, it isn't like a name change will erase WCG history, or the more, serious inaccountability issues at hand.

To the Senior Pastor who suggested that AW readers would register the "GIF" name "just to screw WCG", all I can say is that his "seige mentality" is showing big-time! Who (besides WCG HQ personnel, like Bret Miller....) would waste valuable time and money trying to deviously sabotage someone else's domain name--especially when it's for a skunk organization that has already "screwed" itself? That is too funny!


A much asked question: What will happen to the name, Worldwide Church of God once the current organization changes it name? Is the name up for grabs? Can anyone start using it? 


AW: No

WCG webmaster speaketh: According to Bret Miller, JWT2 does believe that GIF is the most-liked [obviously by those close to JWT2] name among ** those suggested so far ** and the candidate that is most likely to win the survey. The name was registered before a real decision is made as to whether the denomination will really change its name, and what that name might be if it does, just to make sure the "most liked" and "likely choice" of names are reserved.

To me, this explanation sounds reasonable to prevent someone from stealing a favored horse during the discussion period.

The word is out that JWT2 likes GIF, and no one else can easily claim it. However, this does not mean that the decision is final or that someone else will not suggest a more likable name which will be the new choice. Bret believes that is all there is to it -- no decision has been made as far as he knows.

Speaking for myself, I believe that the decision to change the name has been made. The (perhaps *very*) likely candidate is just that for now. Almost anything could happen in this horse race before the finish.

Wouldn't it be ironic, though, if after the name change, Joe receives a "blessing"?

Don't jog - sprint! Someone wrote: "Is it not uncommon for companies to register many domain names when they are planning a change and want to protect themselves from 'domain bandits'..." I hope they don't expect the dumb sheep to believe that one. They could have registered the name that the members have chosen before announcing it. Why do God's minister's think it's okay for them to lie? Run from the!!!

Conference stuff: Apparently Joe also talked about setting in place procedures to elect a
president every five years. And of course, this president could be elected to more than one term. He also wants to do something about "protecting" the doctrines. My question
is--WHAT doctrines? Seems to me that just about anything goes. It'll be interesting to see where all this leads.

Quo Vadis: The deal with Bob Fahey was that he managed to annoy almost every employee in Pasadena. While most didn’t have the ability to do anything about it, the Evangelists did. They did.

One of the final straws was his memo, which was titled, “Quo Vadis”. That managed to really tick people off for several reasons. First, for the Executive Assistant, (a staff position) to put out a memo that was intended to set the future direction of the organization, was not the politically correct move. Second, using the Latin expression was so foreign to the culture of Pasadena that it branded him as a true outsider, who lost touch with reality. Third, he was brought in as a new guy, and was promoted way too quickly, without setting himself up with allies. 

But, he was a very heavy-handed, arrogant, person who managed not only to throw his own considerable weight around, but then supposedly spoke on HWA’s behalf. He crossed many Evangelists very quickly, which set the stage for his undoing. That was the surest way of having your legs clipped out from beneath you.

The Evangelists complained, and he was history. They went to HWA to say that Fahey was taking HWA’s role from himself, and this was very disloyal of the apostle’s office. HWA never tolerated people acting on his behalf. Ever. The way that people got it done was to find a way for HWA to think something was his idea, at which point it was brilliant. That is how the Dean brothers were so successful.

(Name provided)

LCG (1): I have noticed that one more minister at Living is sick and again in Texas... what is going on down there? Is Texas a hot bed of sickness and death? The Living Church of God is quickly becoming the DEAD heads .... apologies to Jerry Garcia

Ron Bryant

LCG (2): Terrible things have happened to the Living Church of God this past year, from the many people being killed almost randomly in a Wisconsin congregation, to now having a 2nd minister die from a staph infection, (Dave Burson), and another who has some kind of infection that he is having trouble getting rid of. (One report was that he had the same kind of staph that J Ogwyn had, but he later said that was not the case, but was infection from insect bites). Ogwyn and Burson both lived in Texas, but I don't know that this has anything to do with it at all... The article that I read says that this is an especially quick hitting and deadly form that is not the kind that is contracted by people in hospitals from time to time.

I think they had another minister die suddenly of something in the Philippines before Mr. Ogwyn died. This year has taken a heavy toll on the LCG ministry... But they still lay claim to being the closest remnant to the org HWA built. That seems to be their greatest claim or brag, and they may be right. They still claim to be the "true Philadelphians", the successors of HWA, which makes them a little or a lot better that the other lukewarm Christians. All we can do is look at the fruits, and they don't look good, but then again, they look as good as any other group I guess - they are still split up, separated from, shunning the other groups and individuals.

I'm sorry about the terrible happenings that have struck their organization, individuals and families, but I am also sorry about their continuing "Better than you - closer to HWA - only real work - separatist - true Philadelphians" approach that they continue to reassure their followers with, while encouraging separation from others of like belief and practice. Following a dead man instead of a living Savior cannot bear much good fruit for long. A dead HWA cannot change any of his teachings, concepts, or approach, but a living Savior can still change hearts, minds, and bring clearer and correct understanding to those who have His Spirit. 


LCG (3): To answer John Karagiannidis' question; $4m was spent on salaries, expenses and hall hire, and just under $0.5m was transferred to reserves. Of the $4m that was spent on "preaching the gospel," $2.2m was spent on TV and radio.

So while the TV and radio station's shareholders get rich, and Dr Meredith and Richard Ames massage their egos, by "preaching the gospel" from the safety of a TV studio, the poor members, who are struggling to pay their bills and feed their families continue to suffer.

Perhaps if they imitate the Apostle Paul, instead of only admiring him, and take the true gospel to the world, in person, they would save $2.2m to be spent on the needs of the saints. In addition, they would share in the sufferings of Christ, as they are persecuted from city to city. Then they would be able to echo the words of the chosen vessel when he said: "Are they minister of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths often"(11 Cor.11:23...). 

Some of you may wish to read the rest of the passage, as an exposition of the texts would run to several pages, and here is perhaps not the place for it. Suffice to ask, how many ministers in cog-land have been persecuted or imprisoned for preaching the gospel? 

Tom Mahon

David Hulme - Mid East Expert (1): DH did his master's and I believe his Ph.D. in Middle Eastern studies (I'm thinking in the school of I.R.) at USC in the early 90s. I worked with him at the time.

Jackie Meeker White

David Hulme - Mid East Expert (2): I have a warning for viewers of COG-aic's new video, "Quest for the Real Paul" (8/22/05) -drink a lot of coffee before viewing. My wife and I attended COG-aic services for a while before leaving Armstrongism for good. My wife once made the comment while David Hulme was speaking that staring at the chandelier in the meeting hall was more interesting than his sermon. He is an unbearably boring speaker. :)


Tabloid Truth: Gordon Feil's response regarding the WN/GN jolted my memory banks to recall that what both writer's were trying to recall was the time in the mid-70's when GTA's stroke of genius inspired him to take the American edition (not sure about overseas editions) of PT from its slick, newsmagazine format to a more Weekly World News tabloid format. Needless to say, within a few months the PT subscription numbers in the U.S. tanked and his "cost saving" measure was assessed as a colossal failure (not to mention a keen sense of embarrassment to those who pushed the innovation in the first place). But, never fear, marketing genius HWA put the PT (and other aspects of "the Work") "back on the track." PT was returned to its old, popular, slick newsmagazine format and subscription numbers again returned (or darn close) to pre-tabloid figures.

Dennis Embo

Batten down the hatches in Oz: On the advance list of items for this coming week's UCG Council of Elders meeting, there's this (paraphrasing): The President has been invited to visit Australia, and he wants to consult with the Council first before he goes.

Hmmmm -- this isn't about addressing people as "mate," I reckon?!

"Cincinnati Royal"

The GIF Files: It appears we should launch an online investigation of this name change to Grace International Fellowship. Call it "The GIF Files!" I can hear the new denominational slogan now, borrowing from a U.S. commercial for peanut butter -- choosy Christians choose GIF!

Richard Burkard

Lie? (1): You asked, " DID JOE LIE?" I ask, "Is Joe breathing?" 


Lie (2): Looking at your exclusive on the domain name change even before Honest Joe sent his misleading letter, leads me to call for his immediate, full and final resignation! He cannot explain this deception away so easily...

M Cunningham

Lie (3): Did Joe lie through his teeth? Maybe it is because the are false teeth!

Lie (4): Does a chicken have lips? Is the Pope Catholic? Does Pinocchio’s nose grow?


PTM: I heard today that PTM is not moving to the new WCG building in Glendora. WCG is charging the going rate for rental rights in the building. Greg figures he can go elsewhere and get a cheaper rate. Imagine a church that has just made hundreds of millions of dollars in the sale of two campuses, countless millions in sale of individual properties around the country (Lake Tahoe, Colorado, Minnesota, etc.) and now charges its flagship magazine rent to use the H Q building.

This means that when WCG does move to Glendora there will be only a few employees left. Executive offices, Church Administration, Accounting, computer staff, Human Resources, archives, and Church Publications. Of course Legal needs to be added to that group. Legal will be represented by Bernie Schnippert and Mat Morgan who also deal with the finances of the church. Do I detect a slight conflict of interest here? WCG's goal was to only take around 30 employees. It looks like they have now met that goal.


Self immolation: Back about 1995 or 1996, I remember hearing through the grapevine that plans were in the works to eventually change the WCG's name to something very much like "Grace International Fellowship." I don't remember what the new name was going to be, but I think it had "Grace" and "New Covenant" in it...

What's especially ridiculous is that the WCG's honchos don't even need to solicit input from their membership for a name change. They can call their sect anything they like. But they say there should be input from the members on some level (whatever that means), and then go ahead and make the change anyway. Sounds just like them...

All in all, though, it would probably be preferable if the WCG did change its name, since the sect that goes by that name has barely any connection to the Armstrongist family of sects any more. Then one can efer to "Grace International Fellowship," or whatever Joe Tkach wants to call his business, as "one of many religious groups that formed out of the self-immolation of the Worldwide Church of God" without confusing anybody.

Jared Olar

Tough luck for Belfast church (1): Was just reading about the WCG new name!! I guess it doesn't matter that the name is already used in Ireland...

Tough luck for Belfast church (2): I did a Google search on "Grace International Fellowship," and found that there is already a "GRACE International Fellowship" in Belfast, Ulster, as well as a couple "Grace Fellowship Internationals." Seems all the good name's have already been taken.

Jared Olar

Tough luck for Belfast church (3): If you Google on “grace international fellowship” you get a variety of existing churches e.g. GRACE International Fellowship is the English language congregation of Belfast Chinese Christian Church (BCCC), an evangelical, non-denominational church ... Monaco even has an award called the ”Princess Grace International Fellowship”

Ah well, the shortened form, “G.I-N. Fellowship” has only shifted a bit from its predecessor, the “Bristol-Cream-Sherry Fellowship”.

Jonathan Higbed

Missing story in WCG Today: If "every US based senior pastor and district superintendent was up with the play on the name change, as well as most of the international leaders, well before this month's conference," then it's just real interesting that none of this (obviously, "old" news) has been published in the September WN along with the conference pictures.


Frank comment (1): As a Frank Sinatra fan I think Dennis did a great and very funny job. But I wonder, what will the sale price be for the name "Worldwide Church of God" ?


Frank comment (2): A standing ovation is in order for Dennis Diehl and his rendition of “It Is Finished”. Sinatra never sounded so good. The only thing missing was the rest of The Rat Pack but some might confuse them with Tkach and company.

Richard Dahms

Pastor Joe: I am a pastor in WCG. I heard Pastor Joe say in 2003 that there was consideration on changing the name. In the last two regional conferences, I attended, he mentioned it again. He asked for a show of hands if we thought it was a good idea. It appeared that over 90% were in favor with many raising two hands and then came applause. Mind you his comments and requests for feedback were made with pastors and lay members present. Pastors were not told to "keep this a secret". In fact I shared those comments with the congregation I would soon pastor. They were receptive. The church I was serving in at the time was also positive about the idea. Other friends in and out of the WCG expressed to me their appreciation of plans to change the name. Pastor Joe even made a side bar comment 2 years ago just in passing that he was open to input on the name 2 years ago. I know because unlike yourself I was personally there to hear the words directly. I do not mean the previous statement as a personal attack, rather only to illustrate the difference between our points of view.

Changing our name is cool as far as I am concerned. We are not Pentecostal (no beef with our Pentecostal friends). I was not personally consulted about coming up with a name. Yet it was obvious to everyone paying attention at the last regional conference, I attended, that we were welcome to suggest names. Maybe Pastor Joe should have passed out suggestion forms or asked that a suggestion box be erected at the rear of each WCG congregation. Although I have a hunch that the only thing he could do to satisfy some people is to force the WCG to disband, then himself to drink poisoned kool aid and die. I hope that is not the case.

Bill Winn

AW: Thanks for the input Bill. Good to see a minister front up publicly in the mailbag (OK, the rest of you rabble, BE NICE!) While I accept what you say, we've also had a confidential email from an international pastor that says our story was the first he'd heard of any name change.

Are you really suggesting that there are current WCG members who'd want Joe to take kool aid? If so, Joe really should take the honorable option - concede he's doing a rotten job and resign for the greater good. A leader must surely have the confidence and respect of those they lead.

(Note: This is not the Senior Pastor email referred to in an earlier upload, which we were asked not to publish.)

TGIF: You may have already seen this, but for what it's worth... The wcg logo is a globe with a cross. If you put the letter GIF to the left of the logo, it spells GIFT (the cross being the T). But if you put the GIF to the right of the logo, you get TGIF... Wouldn't you have liked to be a fly on the wall at HQ this week?

Joe knows: My wife suggested that Joe already knows what the new name will be for the church. He's just letting people think they have a vote. When it comes time to make the announcement, he will name it whatever he wants it to be.

John B 



Bits and pieces on WCG: It's been a fascinating week. Here are some of the things that have appeared in the AW inbox in the last few days. These items come from multiple sources, so perhaps it'd be best to sort them out. Let's think of something original and call them J, E, P & D. Some (J, P & D) will appear as letters in the next mailbag.

1. (Source J) PTM (Greg Albrecht's ministry) is not now moving to the new Glendora office. It seems Joe wants to charge PTM the going commercial rate for office space, and Greg believes he can get a cheaper deal elsewhere!

If you are a member of a WCG congregation please drop us a line and let us know whether you were consulted... in advance of Joe's letter, and if so, how

2. (Source E) Every US based senior pastor and district superintendent was up with the play on the name change, as well as most of the international leaders, well before this month's conference.

3. (Source E) Input on the renaming options was sought at each of this year's district conferences, as well as several international conferences.

AW: One thing is apparent, the well planned consultation process implied by Source E is largely past tense, yet Joe's letter of last week implied that the process is yet to kick off. Joe even says: "When the time comes to begin gathering input..." Hey, we're confused! Perhaps Joe is too. At the very least we believe Joe stumbled over his own spin... not a good look for any church president. 

Our conclusion? The real consultation process (with the "important" people) has already occurred. Garden variety members, the target group for Joe's update, are just an afterthought in need of patronizing.

Then again, we could be wrong. You can read the relevant slab of Joe's letter in the August 19 update and judge for yourself. If you are a member of a WCG congregation please drop us a line and let us know whether you were consulted, advised or otherwise kept in the loop in advance of Joe's letter, and if so, how.

4. (Source P) There was even confusion among those coming away from the Palm Springs conference. One pastor reported that the decision was a fait accompli, another said that the name was not a done deal.

5. (Source D) Tkach believes that GIF is the most-liked name among "those suggested so far" and the candidate that is most likely to win the survey. The name was registered just to make sure the "most liked" and "likely choice" are reserved.

6. (Source P) Apparently Joe also talked at the conference about setting in place procedures to elect a president every five years. And of course, this president could be elected to more than one term.

AW: We've heard this before. Talk is cheap. Where's the action. Bring out the timeline. (And even then its tempting to add "too little, too late.")

7. (Source P) Joe also wants to do something about "protecting" the doctrines, though what this means isn't immediately clear.

AW: Does WCG have any unique doctrines left? And if Joe is talking about protecting the old ones (ensuring they stay out of circulation) how come he sold off Herb's writings to the wacky Flurry cult?

Praise be: Dennis Diehl entitles the following "It is finished..."  Frank Sinatra fans (assuming there are any who can read) will especially enjoy this.

Butt lo...the days will come when that which is Worldwide, long dead, shall finally also not endure in name and shall be finished.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow...

And the King of the West shall declare it so, through feigned input shall he declare, "I care not what you call it, just call it not Worldwide, for it offendeth me and hath lo many years, even from my youth. For now I have the gold and he who hath the gold winneth, even so hath my father taught me."

This King, unqualified in learning and devoid of common sense,
Installed by nepotism and perpetuated by self decree
Who scorned the little ones and mocked the Shepherds
Shall yet longer, over nothing, rule and declare,
"Hell no I ain't steppin' down, cause darn it, I'm worth it, and the pay is good... in Him. My father raiseth not stupid children."

This King, shall lie to the little ones oft betimes and of Shepherds makes fools most often before the Children of God.
Who oft saith "no" when "yes" was in his heart
And "Never" when "Soon" be the truth.

And the Minions of the King...oi...these Imperial Minions!
Who flow with tides and change with the wind,
Their butts to keep in clover promised by the King,
Yet remember they not how oft the King doth forget, as in times past, his words of promise to those who did serve. 

How sleep the minions? Fine shall they sleep and give no account of that which they have sold nor taken to themselves. Yeah verily hath mine father also not raised a stupid son and I smell where thieves and robbers have broken in and taken that which belongeth not to them and smirk hiding behind their faith, falsely so called.

(Enter the late Frank of Sinatra... sing it Frank!)

And so, the end is's time to face the final curtain.
(Sniff sniff)
My friends, I'll make it clear, and of this truth, I am most certain.
These men, these men of Gawd, have taken all, not in a shy way
And this, much more than this... they did it their way!

Regrets, I got a bunch, but then a bunch not worth repeating
I tried, I really tried, to help the sheep, who oft were bleating
I hate, they got away, with all the bucks not in a shy way
Twas bold, they got the gold and hit the hiiiigh way!

Yes, there were times, I think they knew,
That they bit off more than we could chew
But through it all, they left no doubt,
if you don't like, then...just get out.
The record shows, they dealt the blows... and hit the hiiighway!

And now, the End has come,
Thank God for this most holy moment.
The name, that name is gone, it's all done ,
they got the whole thing.
We dinked, we dinked around, and let it be, we simply languished
It's done, it's really's finally fiiiiinished...

OOOOOOOh there were tiiiimes, I think we knew
These guys were nuts, what could we do?
We prayed for help, it did not come
I blame myself, I was so dumb
The record shows, we took the blows
Soooomeone just slaaaaaaaaaaaap meeeeeeee!

Don't you just wish Den was still giving sermons! A more sober piece from the same writer appears in the weekend upload, along with a very full mailbag.



Yes gentle readers, it's all your fault!

More on the name game: Our report two days ago that WCG had been less than candid about its proposed name change has caused a bit of a stir in some quarters. There have been reactions (via a third party) from the WCG webmaster Bret Miller, a Senior Pastor (to AW directly), and even a retired evangelist (on a news-board).

In addition, we've heard more details about Joe Tkach's statements on other matters at the recent Senior Pastors conference. We'll be running what promises to be a fascinating report in a day or two.

Meantime, its interesting that the retired evangelist made this point:

Is it not uncommon for companies to register many domain names when they are planning a change and want to protect themselves from "domain bandits"

The Senior Pastor was more direct, suggesting AW readers would register the name "just to screw WCG".

Yes gentle readers, it's all your fault!

The thing is, when we first found out about the registration (and even as recently as of 5 minutes before this upload), we could have registered both Australian and New Zealand domains out from under WCG ( and We didn't. Nor do we recommend that anyone else does, it'd be a dirty trick. (Bret, you'd better be in quick!)

Yet it was WCG that registered, .org, .net in order to prevent AW from doing so.

So, we wonder, who are the real "domain bandits"?



Vision revamped: It may have only a fraction of the profile and circulation UCG's Good News enjoys, but COG-aic's Vision magazine has consistently led the field in quality of design. Now the magazine has had a significant facelift as a new "creative director" takes the helm. The new look is interesting, and continues to show greater originality than anything we've seen produced by the other splinters. So far the website hasn't been updated to include the new logo and look.

COG-aic has also finished its latest television documentary called Quest for the Real Paul. There's no indication yet whether or when the program will air on TV stations. 

Did Paul steal Christianity from Jesus to make it a world religion? Journey through the Mediterranean region to the center of the Roman Empire and discover some of the myths and misconceptions that surround the apostle Paul and his teachings.

Quest for the Real Paul takes viewers on a fascinating journey through the rich cultures of the Mediterranean, once the center of the ancient Roman Empire, to visit the places where Paul traveled and taught. Along the way, publisher and Middle East scholar David Hulme begins to unravel the centuries of accumulated misunderstandings about Paul and his teachings. Through a fresh look at the cultural, historical and religious context of his writings, viewers will get to know this complex and colorful man. With modern scholarship shedding new light on the biblical record, an astonishingly different picture of the apostle Paul emerges.

We'd be fascinated, though, to learn what actual credentials David Hulme has as a "Middle East scholar".

Another LCG minister succumbs to infection: Bob Thiel carried to following item on his COGwriter site: David Burson, 54, of Forney, Texas, died unexpectedly Aug. 19 in a Dallas hospital of complications from a massive staph infection. Mr. Burson, a minister in the Living Church of God, served congregations in Dallas, Gladewater, Lufkin, Shreveport, Midland, Amarillo and Abilene.

Earlier this year John Ogwyn died from a similar infection, and another LCG minister, Glen Gilchrist, is apparently still recovering from a related illness.


AW Exclusive: 21 August



The Tkach church seems to have already selected its new name - with absolutely no member consultation -  despite what seem deliberately misleading assurances from sect leader Tkach. The WCG has registered the domain name (along with several related domains). Following up on an email tip, AW discovered that the new name was registered last week (August 14) BEFORE the August 17 weekly update in which Joe announced the possibility of a change publicly for the first time .

So much for "the input of all our congregations, pastors, district superintendents, national leaders and mission developers worldwide". Once again the question must be asked: Did Joe lie through his teeth?

Addendum: To find the registration, go to a service such as and do a search on Even though they haven't set up a website there yet, you can confirm the ownership, along with .com, .net and other extensions..

The question now arises, will the unexpected exposure on the Internet cause Joe to back away, or is the planning already too far down the track? 



Name Joe's cult! Have you been waiting on tenterhooks for Pastor Generalissimo Tkach to finally do the right thing and step down - as he indicated he would - after a decade of what many regard as unrelenting failure in the role as un-elected, un-mandated leader of the WCG? Think again. Joe has just pulled an unexpected rabbit out of the hat, indicating perhaps that the WCG will continue to be "blessed" with his peculiar skills well beyond the end of this year.

In his latest weekly update President-for-life Tkach writes: 

As we talked about at the [Senior Pastors] conference, the time has come for us to give serious consideration to our denominational name. The phrase “church of God” in a church name typically signifies that the church is a congregation in the Pentecostal family of churches. And while we recognize Pentecostals as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are not ourselves Pentecostal.

The use of the term “church of God” in the New Testament was not intended to be understood as the one and only right corporate name for the church. I believe that all our pastors are well aware of that fact. While there are several passages in the New Testament where the words “church of God” or “churches of God” are used to refer to believers, there are also numerous other appellations for believers as well, such as “disciples of Jesus,” “the saints,” “believers,” etc. In other words, all these are generic descriptions of those who follow Jesus, but certainly not sacred or commanded monikers under which the church must be incorporated.

When God transformed the life of Abram, he changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Likewise with Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel, and with Saul, whom God renamed as Paul.

Our current name has always presented certain challenges in translation. In France, for example, it is translated L’Eglise Universelle De Dieu, which is the historic name of the Roman Catholic Church. Occasionally a Roman Catholic bishop lets us know that he objects to our use of what amounts to the name of the “Catholic,” or “universal” (worldwide) Church. In some French-speaking areas, we have used the name Monde du Venir (Tomorrow’s World) as the name of our church.

There is a cult in El Salvador that was using the name translated "Worldwide Church of God" before we had a church there, so we use a different name in that country. In other Spanish speaking places, for other reasons, we have also had to use names other than a literal translation of “Worldwide Church of God.” As a result of these anomalies in Spanish-speaking places, we have to use three different denominational names. No matter what English language name we use, of course, there will always be some anomalies internationally due to translation and cultural issues.

It is important in changing our denominational name that the whole church is involved at some level. We will need to take the necessary time to establish and put into operation a process that will include the input of all our congregations, pastors, district superintendents, national leaders and mission developers worldwide. The name should be short and uncomplicated. Names more than four words in length tend to sound pretentious and can more easily be confused with other groups...

When the time comes to begin gathering input, we will find that many names, which might seem at first to be the “perfect fit,” are already trademarked by other groups. There is no “deadline” to get this done, and we want to be sure we have a sound process in place before we begin. Please join me in praying that God will lead our efforts and bless us with a denominational name that rightly describes who we are and what he has called us to do.

And so, a final "re-branding" to complete the utter destruction of Armstrongism. Well, not exactly complete: the Herbal hierarchical structure naturally remains with Joe holding tightly to the reigns of denominational control (and with few apparent checks and balances). A rubber stamp board. A disenfranchised membership. 

A stinkweed by any other name...

Following up on a suggestion from Anne Hanna we're delighted to offer our services to the Imperious Leader as he graciously seeks "input" from the powerless plebs. We'll run your suggestions for the sect's new name in the Sidelines section. Email your entries to

Weekly Mailbag

Huskies lost: Thanks for printing the UCG member letter... I guess us Canadians don't qualify to get same unless UCG sends it by dogsled to Canada... in which case we'll hear from the "chief" eventually.

Pack and Fahey: I read [some speculation about Bob Fahey in MAM's article]... I was working at DPC (Data Processing Center) at the time, and I have an alternate theory as to why Mr. Fahey was exiled.

Shortly before we heard that he was in fact exiled, a memo from Mr. Fahey (not HWA) was sent to all departments, instructing them to hold expenses to a minimum. It was written in a very authoritative tone. I remember thinking at the time that the various department heads probably did not appreciate such a memo from someone they probably considered an "upstart", "green-behind-the-ears", non-HQ person, especially without HWA's co-authoring. 

If this memo was not authorized or known by HWA, Mr. Fahey was taking a real chance sending it. In the highly political atmosphere of those days it is easy to imagine one or more (or all) of the major departments going to HWA and warning him about the reckless behavior of his aide while of course their real goal was to protect their budgets.

ex-DPC/CIS employee

Chosen vessels and vases: The only observation in Ian Boyne's article with which I agreed, is that "God raised up Herbert W. Armstrong to do a Work." For to believe otherwise, would be to subscribe to the illogical and heretical opinion, which has gained some popularity amongst many in cog-land, that God called us to follow a false prophet. But there is where my agreement with Mr Boyne ends.

Sadly, Mr Boyne is a minister in a church that was started by GTA, who rebelled against the same person whom Ian claims "God raised up to do a Work." Doesn't Ian realize that by supporting CGI that he has also rebelled against God's servant? 

Of course, there is no need for me to rehearse GTA's lecherous and degrading sins, or his nepotism in leaving ICG as an inheritance for his son. Suffice to say, that if CGI reflects the teachings Jesus Christ, then, those of us who are looking forward to Christ return may as well eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

Also, doesn't Ian Boyne know that one cannot preach the gospel unless one be sent? The baneful idea that God has sent Dr Meredith, Richard Ames or anyone in UCG to preach the gospel is tantamount to blasphemy. Perhaps Mr Boyne ought to note what the chosen vessel was inspired to write concerning the character of God's ministry. And although this is not a doctrinal site, perhaps the editor will permit to quote from the inspired text thus, "Having received this ministry, we faint not, but have: (1) renounced the hidden things of dishonesty (2) not walking in craftiness (3) not handling the word of deceitfully (4) by manifestation of truth.

Have the ministers in UCG and LCG "renounced the hidden things of dishonesty?" Do they walk in craftiness? Do they not misrepresent the word of God to promote their own agenda? And do they not lie to the brethren, often by omission, but sometimes by denying the truth? I could illustrate these charges with a number of examples, but readers of this site are well aware of the scandals of the ministry.

So how could God use such men to preach the truth of the gospel? For how long would the roses remain fresh in the vase?

Tom Mahon

LCG locks: Can anyone [advise] why the Living COG spent over $60,000 dollars in security in their building a few weeks prior to the shooting incident by Terry Ratzmann. Also, why did the office have to place serious locks on each office individual's doors? Do they have anything to hide from each other? 

Micromanaging ministers: Paul Shumway... has told people that they couldn't have an anniversary party without his permission... He has told people that they couldn't come to church (one young lady was so warmed by the brethren's response to her at her father's funeral that she asked to attend with her mother. She was told no, if she couldn't come when her father was alive she didn't need to come now)... I could go on... Ben Faulkner's disfellowshipping was, in my view, a direct result of [one man's] insecurity and desire to micromanage...

AW: This email has been edited for publication.

Safe Haven (1): Micah Royal and his congregation (8/17/05) are living in denial. A quote from their web site: "[Safe Haven] views the Gospel as a bridge-building work, which tears down the barriers separating people of all races, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, levels of disabilities, and religious backgrounds." 

There must be some verses missing from my Bible. That a good god would create beings who are born gay and then condemn them for it makes no sense but the Bible, OT and NT, does condemn them. I don't agree with that - I think that the Bible is wrong and was written by ignorant men who didn't understand the complexities of human behavior. No, the Bible isn't the word of God and should be put on the book shelf with all the other ancient works of fiction that are important literature but not to be taken too seriously. 


Safe Haven (2): I like these people! They have a heart for real humans who have real lives.


AW: Later in the year we hope to run an interview with Micah Royal.

Locher: In answer to a question posed last month ("can you tell me if Mr. Robert Locher, Erie, Colo., is still PCG elder?"): Robert Locher is a preaching elder with the PCG. His son, Andrew, heads the television department and is a "teacher" at their "college".

Britolaci: The origin of the name of Great Britain is lost in the mists of antiquity. None can assuredly say that their version of name origins is correct. Some time ago on AW I enquired if anyone could identify the Britolaci tribe living inland from the western shores of the Black Sea around the 6th & 5th centuries BCE. Zdenek Vana, the Czech archeologist, mentions this tribe in his history of the Slavs. No one was able to shed any light at the time.

Bingo. Persistence has paid off. The Britolaci tribe/people lived in Northern Rumania and Moldavia. They were a Celt people, otherwise known as Britolagi, Britogalls, Britogalli.

Is it remotely possible that this tribe gave its name to that of ancient Gaul and Britain?


UCG and The Journal: What is the relationship between The Journal and UCG? The Journal seems to cozy up to UCG more than any of the other splinter cults. Is it initiated by UCG for more publicity, or is The Journal just looking for something to publish?


AW: I think you've got it wrong. My impression is that the editor (Dixon Cartwright) works hard to make The Journal professional, impartial and factual. Hey, I wouldn't want to be without my copies!

Actually Steve, now I come to think about it, aren't you the guy who once suggested AW was "soft" on UCG? Somehow I think some of the lads in Cincinnati might have a different perspective :-) 

Memory morphs: Just a small note to set the record straight. Mac Overton commented that the Good News morphed into the Worldwide News. Not so. The WN began in the mid-70s and was one of the innovations GTA had instituted before he left soon thereafter (the other notable ones being YOU and family night).

Gordon Feil

AW: Mac had it right. While the WN was identified with Ted, after he was tossed out Herb renamed it. It continued as The Good News for some time before getting its original name back.

Vertical rule: There will be no modern day "reincarnation" for the COG's as long as there still exists a hierarchical tyranny of Babylon embraced by virtually every organized institution on the planet including WCG and almost all splinter groups. It has, does, and will continue to go nowhere because they simply refuse to replace "man rule" with "God Rule".

Christ said his church would be horizontal, trusting in Him for guidance and direction, not vertical rule trusting in men and their self preserving institutions. The same thing Christ condemned, an imperial priesthood, is what we inexorably fall back into. I have yet to see good fruit from a bad tree!

Dan Stanton

CADs and tithe spies: Tom Mahon wrote that LCG's reported expenditure on the needy (in its "fold") is $0.5 million. On revenues of $9.0 million, that makes it 0.5/9 or about 5.5% of its income, which is about half of a tithe. Over $4.0 million was spent on "preaching the gospel". So one has to ask: where does the other $4.5 million go? But I guess it's not appropriate to ask for accountability because it's "god's" money! Nevertheless is there anybody in that group who passed elementary maths and has the testicular fortitude to ask where the money is going?

Tom's comment reminded me of a Melbourne family that attended LCG several years ago. The husband was unemployed and life was tough for them financially, despite Australia's enviable social security "safety net". The man told me he reluctantly approached LCG's recently hired
"minister" (from another church of God group) for "emergency" financial [assistance] to
be told... "if we help you we have to help everyone". A nice, caring touch?

This same "minister" [has stated] that the church group he is in (LCG makes it the 4th church of God group - WCG, UCG, Hulme, LCG) is the "right church"... Several years ago he asked me, why LCG didn't have records of me tithing. You can understand my horror, and anger at such a gross invasion of privacy, and my response that was it was none of their business.

You know, I think I should start a church group. What with so many people wanting to part with their money, even a membership of say 100 people each tithing $100.00 a month, could provide a very comfortable living. Anybody interested in a partnership?

Interestingly the word cad... is defined on one on-line dictionary web site as: cad n. A man whose behavior is unprincipled or dishonorable, n 1: someone who is morally reprehensible; "you dirty dog" [syn: bounder, blackguard, dog, hound, heel] 

John Karagiannidis



Some Good News for UCG: A degree of much-needed sanity seems to have been injected into the fight a UCG family has been forced to wage over religious discrimination. The Indianapolis Star reports that the "U.S. Justice Department has joined the Indiana Civil Liberties Union in a legal fight to force a school district to grant a student excused absences so he can attend [the feast]".

micah_royal.jpg (28937 bytes)More on Safe Haven: Micah Royal's new congregation has a website or two and a discussion board. In addition there's a PDF with FAQ.

Royal has made the following comments on the news board regarding the Sun newspaper article (see yesterday's upload):

A few addendums. Renee's last name is Sasse not Sass, although I am sure she has her share of sass. Renee is our chief business officer (as treasurer) although she hopes to enter training to be our mercy minister with a focus on the TG community.

Also, the article makes it sound as if Kat is a lesbian... which she isn't. Essentially, she is bisexual -- attracted to both women & men at times -- although we live in a monogamous, faithful marriage. We don't believe in "swinging" marriages.

Finally, homosexuality and transgenderism are not primarily a "lifestyle", but are instead mainly innate conditions. They deal with whom one finds attractive romantically -- whether you live that out in a relationship or not -- and what gender you identify most strongly with (if any), whether you fully express it or not.

The lifestyles (there are more than one) associated with these ways of the heart are more than anything people deciding to be honest with themselves, others, & God -- and quit pretending to be someone they are not.



A different kind of splinter: The San Bernardino County Sun ran this story by staff writer Brad Greenberg on Aug. 14.

Three months after being ordained in a conservative Christian denomination, the Rev. Micah Royal found himself wrestling with his church's condemnation of homosexual and transgender lifestyles. So the 26-year-old assistant pastor left that church. Soon after, his 23-year-old wife, who had attended the Worldwide Church of God with him, confessed she could no longer keep secret her attraction to women.

A year later, the former evangelical minister has launched Safe Haven Community Church. The nascent Colton congregation is reaching out to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, as well as those, with mental and physical disabilities. "There are too many people out there judging. And we really needed a place we all could go and feel loved and comfortable,' Royal said. "Who people are is a gift from God to be celebrated not to be looked down on.'

What is unusual about Safe Haven is not its open-and-affirming nature. It's the church's roots. Royal was ordained in June 2004 in the Worldwide Church of God, according to his ordination certificate. "Some people are really homophobic, but we don't believe homosexual behavior is any more sinful than any other sin,' said Paul Kroll, spokesman for the 64,000-member church in Pasadena. But one Sunday last summer, Royal took to church with him a neighbor who considered herself a woman in a man's body.

The pastor of the congregation Royal declined to identify because he didn't want to criticize his former employer told Royal not to bring transgender people to church. The pastor feared his church would split, Royal said. Royal and his wife, Kat , began attending the Metropolitan Community Church in San Bernardino, a ministry dedicated to the LGBT community.

After that church left town a few months ago, the Royals decided to step in. They began Safe Haven in July at Rich Dauer Park. The Royals plan to move the 11 a.m. service into their residence on Aug. 21. Unlike many conservative Christians who believe gays choose to be attracted to the same sex, the Royals, like many liberal Christians, believe homosexuality is biologically based. Because Kat has spina bifida, they are also sensitive to how society often treats disabled people.

Their congregation is small, between eight and 12 depending on the weekend. The church's budget is even smaller. Micah and Kat, who work for Safe Haven full time, are scraping by. Last week their electricity and gas were shut off. But they believe they are doing God's work.

And so does Rene Sass, 45, of Crestline. "There is a lot of pain for people like myself with churches,' said Sass, who was surgically changed from a man to a woman on April Fools Day 2001. "But Pastor Micah wants to help us and give us a home."

Latest Journal: The June 30 issue of The Journal is now out. The front and back pages are available as a free PDF file. UCG president Kilough is interviewed, an ex-WCG member has taken over what remains of the Andrew Dugger sect in Israel and there are details of the spat in the ICG splinter group Church of God Worldwide Ministries

Then there's the Connections ad section. Don Billingsley pens yet another pastoral epistle, Jan Aaron Young has his regular but unreadable page of rant, Arlen Berkey shares his Pentecost theories, Raymond McNair promotes his very own FOT in Arkansas, William Dankenbring has a new book promoting BI, and somebody called Pallant Ramsundar wants to tell us all about "Satan's curse". 

Barefoot and pregnant in North Carolina: Once upon a time - the 70s - Garner Ted Armstrong rattled his tonsils endlessly about the dangers of overpopulation. WCG produced a booklet called Famine - Can We Survive?, and the Plain Truth was full of gloomy prognostications from Paul Ehrlich and the Club of Rome. As the population skyrocketed, food supplies were imperiled, ecological collapse was just around the corner and the Tribulation was about to come crashing around our ears. Probably by 1975.

But this is the post-Viagra Twenty-first Century, and at the Ritenbaugh franchise (Church of the Great God) in Charlotte they're whistling a more self-indulgent tune entirely. While you might be forgiven for thinking the various COG bodies are better at dividing than multiplying, CGG's Charles Whitaker writes:

...God issues His first command... by extension a command to every human. There He tells them to "be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth." Multiply means to "increase," to reproduce at a greater-than-replacement birthrate, which is about 2.3%. Modern man has refused to multiply, and the consequence is self-inflicted genocide... Here is a fine example of the inexorable effect of man's refusal to obey God: death.

Yes, the problem isn't overpopulation, it's underpopulation, and CGG expects every man to do his duty... 

May we conclude that there are no singles in the Ritenbaugh gulag? 



"Something worth thinking about" (by Anne Hanna writing on JLF)

The WCG HQ and Dr. Tkach have these multiple millions of dollars yet still they do not make such common sense information such as their salaries known. In fact they could set the church up the way they want it and retire without the members ever knowing what part of the revenue went to their "parachute". That leaves people guessing and helps generate rumors like those about Ron Kelly's supposed "comfortable" retirement.

Congregations have to account for the local money. In fact HQ insists on it and has strict rules for it. As they should of course. But that is where it stops. These rules of stewardship and accountability do not seem to apply to HQ. Congregations should ask if they want to be in this one sided arrangement.

I wouldn't invest in a company that would not tell me the CEO and executives salary or how much the company has in reserves, why would I tolerate it in my church.

Helpful counsel from Pope Dave: Here at AW we always try to be fair, and when Dave Pack has some profound and precious apostolic advice to offer, we're happy to pass it on. We're indebted to Gary Scott for pointing out the following Packensian exhortation:

While everyone sins, you should avoid those who are blatantly living a sinful lifestyle. For example, if someone is a drug addict, a serial killer, a habitual thief, etc., you should avoid them—you should not be friends with them, as “evil company corrupts good habits” (I Cor. 15:33).

We'd like to add our "amen" to that. All you non-RCG backsliders out there should immediately quit consorting with serial killers forthwith!

Religious Lingo Lexicon online: Pam Dewey's guide to religious nomenclature is now free for perusal at The Journal website. Originally published as part of Wild World of Religion, it's not only a great resource - it's downright entertaining.

Webmaster Alan Ruth is also asking for help in adding to his list of useful websites offering general information and services. If you'd like to suggest an addition you can contact Alan at 

Creationism in a cheap tuxedo: That's how one wag described "Intelligent Design", or "ID", a smarter, more subtle approach taken by those who oppose the idea of evolution. While there are differences between old-style new earth/old earth creationism and ID, positive references to ID and its proponents have appeared in both UCG and COG7 publications (presumably based on the logic that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"). President Bush's unexpected entry into the fray last week seems to have taken the debate to a new level, and even onto the front cover of TIME. With reconstituted creationists loudly exhorting everyone to seriously consider their case, maybe it's only fair that the other perspective gets a hearing as well. Tower of Babel by Robert Pennock presents a viewpoint few COG members will have been exposed to. Subtitled "The evidence against the new creationism", it will be reviewed next month on AW.

Tower of Babel is published by the MIT Press.

Weekly Mailbag

Doctor Doug: I first met Doug Winnail in 1999 at the feast of tabernacles, Scotland. Our discussions on how I should have handled to the carnal, power struggles in the London church, suggest that he is consummate politician, rather than a defender of the truth - if he knows what truth is. He even asked me, "What would you like me to do for you?" Which is code for, "would you like me to recommend that you be ordained?" Does he not know that God places people in the church as it pleases him?

He certainly won't do anything to expose the secrecy that is endemic amongst the ministry or undermine their power base. So I'd expect the members to continue receiving the same meaningless updates every week, while glossing over any problems.

Also, I note from LCG's recent published accounts for 2004/5, that the church had an income of over $9m, and just over $0.5m was spent on the needy. This would suggests that the needy are few in number or they are a very low priority in the church. In contrast, over $4m was spent on what is called "preaching the gospel." I wonder if anyone knows what budget the Apostle Paul had when he set out to preach the true gospel, and not the watered down versions that are now peddled by the various cogs?

So please don't get too excited about Doug elevation to the office of CAD, for it will be business as usual.

Tom Mahon

Shumway: Why doesn't somebody take a look at Paul Shumway's role in the situation in Florida?

AW: I don't know, why doesn't someone? And which situation in Florida in particular?

Mrs. Herbert W. Armstrong: About the question about Ramona's [2nd wife of Herb] pictures in either the WN or GN, you may remember that, for many years after his final exile of GTA (how could we have ever functioned without acronyms), HWA renamed the WN "The Good News," and turned it into an archaic-looking tabloid newspaper. Sometime in the early 1980s, I think, it was renamed the Worldwide News.

Mac Overton


N Harris

AW: Once you've worked out the problem with caps lock, maybe you could define what you mean by "true Christian intent".

Hierarchy malarky: In regard to Steve's question about Hier-archy or Christ-archy, a quick search of of the internet will show that it was written in 1996 by Wesley Webster. There is no indication what Wesley's roots are. He doesn't give any hint, and his article is reprinted on a wide range of church sites.

Bob E.

AW: Thanks Bob. Pam Dewey has provided further details which have now been added as an intro to the article, which is also now credited to Webster.

John Ogwyn remembered: I have / had known Mr. John H. Ogwyn for 21 years. It was sad to hear of his death. I was never a member of the Living Church of God, but Mr. Ogwyn still kept in touch with me and I with him. I have suffered with mental health problems all my life and never has Mr. Ogwyn discourage me from seeing a medical doctor or a Clinical Psychologist. Granted there are some secular doctors out there who gave God little thought and I switched professionals until I found someone who encouraged prayer, bible study etc...even keeping the Sabbath! I had no fear of allowing Mr. Ogwyn on my therapist contact list if she wanted / need to speak with Mr. Ogwyn or vice-versa. John Ogwyn never made me feel like an outsider, a freak, or had a demon possession problem. If anything he made me feel like I was part of his family. I have wonderful memories of staying at his home for weeks at a time, and filling up with Mrs. Ogwyn's home cooked meals. Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread will never be the same! The man--and he was just that a human being--may had had many faults, but compassion, kindness, gentleness and having a love for God's holy word was not one of them. 

Alison Raborn

Retraction offered: Last week a letter of mine appeared in the "Mailbag". I have since found
out Matt & Lisa Fenchel's children are not home schooled as I thought, they attend public school.

Also, UCG is insisting Matt is not being paid. That may be true and will take it at face value. I do find it odd that UCG is calling Matt's unemployment a "Sabbatical". Wouldn't they just say his employment has ended? 

My apologies to the Fenchel family and anyone else who was offended by what I wrote. The Fenchels are very kind & devoted people, I wish them nothing but the best.


AW: There have been several letters on the subject of Matt Fenchel's move to non-salaried status in UCG. Rather than run the lot, it has been decided just to publish Linda's at this time as she hits the same points others have made. The term "sabbatical" may have created some misconceptions. Like Linda we wish Matt and Lisa a smooth transition.

Everything's coming up roses: For those of us who still believe that God raised up Herbert W. Armstrong to do a Work (despite his well-documented and most tragic transgressions), the last couple of weeks have been hopeful. First came the news that Meredith has been lightening his Rod, something which I had spotted before. Then we were greeted with the welcome news that the iron-fisted Charles Bryce was being replaced by Dr. Douglas Winnail, a kindly, courteous man with whom I had a most delightful Feast here in Jamaica in 1977. I immediately thought of writing to AW to recommend to the UCG President that he should follow suit by replacing Richard Pinelli. But I resisted what might be seen as uncharitable coming from a fellow minister. I was delighted to read your post today which gave the most refreshing news that Pinelli had been given other responsibilities. Let me say, with all courtesy, that he can best serve elsewhere.

I know this is not a popular opinion on this site, but because freedom of expression is cherished here, I take the liberty of expressing my view that the LCG and the UCG have an important role to play in getting the Gospel to the world. It will be critical, therefore, that God bring about needed reforms in these two sections of the Body of Christ. I don’t write off Rod Meredith, unlike many on this site. I believe he will continue to moderate his stance and distance himself from the extremists David Pack and Gerald Flurry. Among the UCG’s major problems has been a lack of zeal and passion. (Bob Thiel and I agree on this one!) I have been very impressed with Clyde Kilough’s initial statements and actually believe he will be the most effective UCG President. Yes, a Nehemiah is indeed, needed! (Actually if you look on the CGI website you will see that I have an article on Nehemiah, extolling his work and calling for a modern “reincarnation”!)

I have been very discouraged at the turn of events and happenings in the COGs over the last number of years, but I must say that the replacement of both Bryce and Pinelli indicates to me that some influential people see that serious changes need to be made in how we deal with “the weightier matters of the law”, which include justice and mercy.

I know that the cynics on this site—my friends, former brethren and brethren—will yawn or scoff at this post, but I just wanted to publicly acknowledge a small work of the Spirit that might yet have a big impact. 

Ian Boyne

The Boston Connection: I find it interesting that Jim Franks has pulled together a group that he worked with while in Boston: David Register and Lyle Welty. Also of note is that Dr. Doug Winnail was also there in Boston at the same time. This may prove helpful when Living goes through some more problems. especially after Roderick Meredith passes from the scene. While the members are not encouraged to speak to those in other groups, you can bet that Dr. Winnail and Jim Franks will be communicating when needed.

New Englander 

Ministers were victims too: What Betty Brogaard said, that "deacons and elders..... In the cult,..... were tested and tried in fires of debasement and cold waters of forced deference to their “superiors.” They were chosen to conform, not to reform...." (8/9/05) is true. Some of the ministers were just as much victims of Armstrong's tyranny as were the member's. If a minister questioned Armstrong or treated his congregation with compassion he was labeled a liberal or worse. In the late 1970's a monster of a minister was sent to the NYC area to get us "back on the right track." He constantly railed against and belittled the past ministers who were, to be fair, just trying to help the members deal with the problems caused by the Armstrong's misconduct.




Betty Brogaard on the "fires of debasement": Why were (are!) so many WCG ministers such jerks? Betty Brogaard fills in a little background in a new article on the Painful Truth site:

Do all who were not in the ministry of a cult realize that the deacons and elders of whatever rank did not come into it as authority figures? In the cult, they were tested and tried in fires of debasement and cold waters of forced deference to their “superiors.” They were chosen to conform, not to reform--just as everyone of us who walked into the jaws of the cultic beast were. Depending on personality and character, perhaps those who endured the most humiliation before they were ordained became either the kindest or the most authoritative in their congregations.

Betty goes on to relate some of the experiences she and husband Fred (formerly a pastor in the WCG) had. It's a significant article, and a sobering reminder of the way things were.

Confronting anxiety: Another new offering comes from former pastor Dennis Diehl. His latest column is on the subject of anxiety, delivered with the raw honesty we've come to expect. 

A note for NZ readers: Something to watch out for later this month is the TV documentary Leaving the Exclusive Brethren, screening on TV3, Thursday 18th August at 8,30PM. While the EBs are unrelated to the COGs, they share some common characteristics, as those who've read Ngaire Thomas' recent book (available at Whitcoulls and other major NZ booksellers) will already know. 



2 Nehemiah, Chapter 1: Though he's barely had time to warm the presidential throne yet, UCG's Clyde Kilough is moving swiftly to put his personal mark on the church. Only days after Rod Meredith replaced Charles Bryce and moved Douglas Winnail in as LCG's Church Administration Director, the latter-day Nehemiah has sidelined United's Ministerial Services manager Richard Pinelli.

I am very excited and pleased to announce some personnel and strategic moves in the area of Ministerial Services that are going to build greatly on the foundation established over the last 10 years. First, the Council of Elders last Thursday, July 28, approved my request to have Jim Franks succeed Richard Pinelli as operations manager for Ministerial Services...

For the last few years Mr. Pinelli also pastored the Cincinnati East congregation. Now we are bringing another seasoned minister here to pastor Cincinnati East, plus mentor ministerial assistants (one at a time) brought here for pastoral training... We have asked Lyle Welty, the pastor of Cleveland, Ohio, and his wife, Margie, to move to Cincinnati to assume that new duty... Mr. Pinelli is being asked to work on developing and implementing a program to train the trainers.

But that's only the beginning. David Register is being moved to "a new, full-time position of education program coordinator to work within the structure of Ministerial Services" and others are caught up in the shuffle. This new broom seems determined to do a very thorough sweep. The Zealous One's full encyclical (August 4) doesn't appear to be online yet, but we'll link to it when it's available.



LCG gunman targeted minister: An August 3 story in the Waukesha Freeman focuses on the motives behind the Wisconsin killings and ties in with the story on The Journal website. Excerpts.

...prosecutors believe gunman Terry Ratzmann likely targeted the pastor’s family, who were among the eight killed... evidence indicates that Ratzmann’s first priority when entering the service of about 50 churchgoers was to "take out the pastor’s family," ... Ratzmann was depressed over his personal life and career and he blamed the N.C.-based Living Church of God for his problems, [District Attorney Paul] Bucher said.

"He just clearly felt the church was responsible," Bucher said. "The rest, I believe, was random."

One revelation from the investigation was a witness statement suggesting Ratzmann had planned the assaults for weeks, said Tom Geiger, a church member who knew Ratzmann for 20 years and was allowed to view a police file.

Weekly Mailbag

Has Gerry crumbled? I heard from a friend last night that G. Flurry had a nervous breakdown, have you heard anything about this? Maybe he couldn't live up to his own expectations.


AW: You have no idea the self control required not to add an uncharitable comment... Jared Olar, however, draws attention to a satirical posting on XCG that may be the basis of the rumor (the literal mindedness of many Flurryites is rare & wonderous). Nevertheless I'll keep hoping... Anyone able to comment further?

Hierarchy article: Concerning Hierarchy or Christ-archy, is this an old article?


AW: The article as it was forwarded to us was labeled "author unknown". The senders wrote the following letter.

South African readers: We trust you are keeping well! Some while ago we contacted you for some assistance with a snippet of information we required, pertaining to what has become a lengthy (article/e-mail/book?). You responded immediately, respecting our request for anonymity, (through browsing your Website we knew you would- thank you), and exactly as you expected, Jared Olar also responded without delay. Thank you Jared!

We have been involved with WCG and thereafter with UCG, since 1974. We were “founding members” of UCG being on the “Interim Board” , which became the National Council, where I (Robert) served until we “resigned” from UCG on the 4. Aug last year. Since then we have spent a lot of time extracting and compiling some “facts”, intended to clarify in our minds, and possibly in a few other minds, and to illuminate, the “big ride” we were taken on for all those years. We have e-mailed all of this to most members in our congregation, as well as to some in the ministry, including people that we have met and even hosted, from “HQ”, and to a few friends in Germany. It is a cumbersomely long effort, but we cannot help thinking that there may be “others out there”, for whom it could be of value, so we are e-mailing it to you, in case you want to mention it, or some extracts of it.

In response to the mailing of our "doctorate" on why we left UCG, we have not had any of the "facts" given, contested, except for one matter. We wrote that there were no, (or we could not remember seeing any decent ones), pictures of HWA's wedding to Ramona, (or of her). One person has now pointed out to the members (without copying us), that in fact there was in the Good News of Feb. 1980, a double page picture of the "happy couple" on one of their "State Visits". Would it be possible for you to find this...

Your Web page is GREATLY appreciated!

Robert & Brigitta

AW: Some further documents attached to this letter may appear at a later time on AW. As for Ramona, I recollect the photos in the Worldwide News, but not the GN. Anyone able to help?

Terry Ratzmann: I knew Terry Ratzmann quite well and I also disagree with the LCG stance. I remember Terry at a Feast of Tabernacles several years ago where he, because of a need asked of him by the Church, drove 1200 miles to help with the sound system. When he arrived - two of the ministers kids with lime green punk hair decided to interfere with his work. Well, Terry could have went "Postal" on those two spoiled P.K.'s, (and would have been justified in most eyes) but kept his composure and just left after several days and went back to Wisconsin to finish the Feast. He came back a few years later to the same Feast site and was very nice and helpful.

I listened to most of the tapes from LCG and know that the messages were real "downers" and put downs (much like the old days in WCG). They were abusive in nature a lot of the times and just plain mean spirited. I often asked my local elder where in the bible a lot of those things they said were (because I surely could not find it nor the principle). The local elder stated that they out at HQ needed to do more editing, but I firmly believe as long as they are not held accountable for anything they do or say, the abuses will remain unchecked and continue unabated.

rod 2

Bye bye Chucky: Rod Meredith says in his letter that "Mr. Bryce has considered this option [moving to Texas] for some time and has written me twice in the last several months suggesting this as a possibility." If that was the only reason for the assignment, why did they ever announce that Lambert Greer would be replacing John Ogwyn? Surely they would have just assigned Charles Bryce to Texas in the first place. Smell Test: D-

Hogwarts howler: Why did you call Fred Coulter "Hufflepuff?"

AW: The reference was to Fred as a likely candidate (along with Raymond McNair) for Hufflepuff in the unlikely event that the fabled sorting hat should descend upon them. If that still doesn't make sense, you need to ask a helpful kid about Harry Potter. 

Matt Fenchel: Just curious if Matt Fenchel (minister of UCG-Cincinnati North) is no longer employed/paid by UCG? I had heard he's on a paid Sabbatical while he goes back to school to get his degree. (I believe his wife "home schools" their 2 children, which would make it nearly impossible for her to be the "bread winner" while he's taking classes.) Very odd that just over a year ago, when Jim O'Brien was asked to transfer and didn't he was fired (he gave HO several options that would allow his employed wife to keep her job in the area). Matt gets paid to pursue his education?! Where can I sign up for a deal like that?


AW: We reported last month that Matt has become a non-salaried elder.

Doctor Doug (1): Dr. Winnail was our minister for about 7-8 years. He's a decent, honest &
sincere individual. A man of sterling quality and stability. High standards, likeable, and very intelligent. Wishing him all the best with his new position.

Doctor Doug (2): There is no one going to take Doug Winnail's place overseas, he will just run it from Charlotte and hop an occasional plane if it warrants his attention there. His Son Dr. Scott Winnail has been out at Charlotte for a little over a month, and was scheduled to go to Austin Texas as soon as he finished Ministerial training but may stay at HQ as well.

I have had some up-close and personal exchanges with Charles Bryce, and they were anything but a civilized exchange. He even chastised our local minister over and over for just trying to ask a question during a "Q&A" session at a Ministerial and Host luncheon at a Feast of Tabernacles site in Wyoming a few years ago. We all felt bad for our local minister as he was put down in front of all there, repeatedly (I guess the minister did not know that when he was asked for questions - that it was only rhetorical)... I also remember getting a call from someone in North Carolina when Charles Bryce was made CAD after Carl McNair's death, telling me the story of how Charles Bryce, when he was a minister in the area, would call the deacons after ten at night on the Sabbath and expect them to call everyone late at night, and change services on the Sabbath to 10:00 A.M. instead of the afternoon regular scheduled service. The deacon stated that it would be too much for the members with little kids to make the change, because some of them had to travel four hours to get to services. This deacon told me he was lambasted over the phone by Bryce about how the people should be prepared for anything in advance of the Sabbath, and how would they react if they were told to flee to Petra? This deacon was really concerned about his dealings with Bryce and how he would be as CAD... At least Douglas Winnail will be a kinder more gentler tyrant.

rod 2

Dirty marks: Every time I hear of one of the splinters "marking" someone, I almost laugh. I'm sure they take it very seriously, they've made it serious and that's the problem with it. The Bible says to mark someone as in "take note", "be aware of". But the various splinters have given it some sort of significance the Bible doesn't and it is almost embarrassing. "That person has been MARKED! SHUN him!" Good grief. Who would want to be associated with a "church" like that? Not me and I suspect that is why many of the splinters are losing members. What the splinters are doing is man-made, it is not biblical. I can live my life in faith without the silliness.

Plainly, it is politics. Power. Someone has power and is using it to get his way, or their way. What ever happened to "Let us reason together"? It is now, "MY way or the highway!". People leave that sort of thing because they will not live their religious life in fear of a minister and his cronies. A minister is supposed to be a leader, not a ruler.

Free publicity in a good cause: In regards to your comment that there'll be a lot of folk rushing to make sure they get a mention next time around... The FASTEST way to get on LifeNets supporters' list is to contribute ONLINE - which we have working now - by going to We would be happy to add many more names. We have many good works projects going on right now, check them out and find one you are interested in supporting!!

Sue Johns



Ratzmann - was shooting spree premeditated?  The Journal has released a story that gives credibility to the idea that Terry Ratzmann took bloody vengeance on his minister and fellow members of the Living Church of God as a premeditated response to a sermon.

The new information comes from local member Thomas Geiger, who is writing a book on the tragedy. Geiger spoke to a hardware store employee who knew Ratzmann, and to whom Ratzmann confided his reaction to the sermon.

She said he mentioned to her he was "very angry" with "his church" because of a "sermon." She said he did not mention any specific person he was upset with. But she stated that he mentioned the Sheraton hotel in Brookfield to her and said, "It's going to be on the news."

This seems to conflict with statements LCG leaders made dismissing suggestions a sermon precipitated the murder/suicide.

The Journal story can be accessed at 

No plagiarism says Bob: Bob Thiel has emphatically denied any suggestion of plagiarism following statements posted on the Elijah forum by Australian Craig W.

I do not know who he is and have not seen the research he refers to. The simple truth is that I read two books last week on the Orthodox Church and cited one of them (Timothy Ware's "The Orthodox Church"). I also visited Greece in June 2005, attended a Greek festival hosted by the Orthodox Church a couple of days ago, and conferred with various ones in the Orthodox Church. Doing original research is not plagiarism... if he had any legitimate concerns, he should have contacted me directly. I also never saw his article about the woman and the beast. My article on Europa, which is available at clearly states the sources for my materials.

The simple truth is that I am doing a lot of research and cite sources extensively. Since multiple thousands of people have conducted religious research, it would appear logical that they sometimes can independently come up with the same or similar conclusions. In conducting research, I do not recall ever seeing writings attributed to any Craig W. and if he is convinced that I somehow needed to read and/or copy him to come to my own conclusions, he is in error.

The truth is that the most of the information about the Catholics and Orthodox Churches is obvious (e.g. The Catholic Encyclopedia is available free, on-line). Almost anyone doing serious research could easily come to the same or similar conclusions about these groups, especially if they have a COG background... if he is a legitimate researcher, and will take back this absurd charge, then perhaps he may wish to work with me (as other researchers are doing).

We also note that Craig has since asked AW to remove yesterday's item as he "merely wanted to raise the issue in my way and then leave it." Raising it on an Internet forum is a very public act, however, and two separate forum members forwarded the posting to AW (the Elijah forum is one we don't usually monitor). The item has given Bob the opportunity to respond, which only seems fair.

South African concerns: In the upcoming mailbag we'll be featuring a letter from a couple who were founding members of UCG in the RSA, and were involved with both the Interim Board and National Council. They have also provided copies of a number of interesting documents and essays, one of which is called Hierarchy or Christ-archy. While it is both lengthy and full of quotations from the KJV, it may be helpful for anyone still wondering about authority issues and top-down government.

Modesto lynch mob?  A jury may have acquitted Michael Jackson, but the COG-lords of Modesto have reached their own verdict - both on Jackson and the jurors: "Paralyzed by moral myopia and a weak backbone the jurors in the recent Michael Jackson trial reached a verdict that allowed a child predator to go free and unpunished. The jury of twelve had trouble discerning the obvious evil that sat before them." As controversial as the Jackson verdict was, and granted that many people hold a personal opinion on the matter that differs from the jury's, the question remains: how appropriate is it for a church to undermine the decision of a court?

A disturbing thought that apparently didn't occur to the anonymous COG-eim commentator: the entire article could easily be re-written to apply to another alleged child molester: Herbert W. Armstrong. To quote the article: "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably a duck." 

The article's tone of righteous indignation is perhaps less remarkable than 2 scripture references. One is quoted from the New Century Version, a very unCOGish choice, while a second is sourced from the Catholic New American Bible.



Dueling COGlets: Back in the Middle Ages popes and anti-popes excommunicated each other and the common folk of Christendom were left wondering which pontiff was the One True Vicar of Christ. It seems history is repeating itself in an obscure corner of COGdom. Following on from the August 1 report, here's the latest from Tom Kerry. 

I’m sorry to bother you, but we need your prayers and support. So far, the entire ministry has been unable to solve the church problems. Simply stated, George Trent and Earl Timmons have accused me of misusing your tithes. I’m innocent, however. And the much-anticipated, long-overdue audit will prove my innocence.

As of today, the audit has not been released. Apparently the delay is connected to Mr. Trent’s and Mr. Timmons’ attempt in early June to move the church to Tennessee. Mr. Trent and Mr. Timmons based their attempt on the claim that they, and only they, represent the Church of God, Worldwide Ministries. Most ministers disagree. Therefore, a majority of the ministry has authorized me to file a court injunction (not a lawsuit) to protect the church’s records.

Because the (slow-moving) court hasn’t decided on who legally represents the church, the cautious auditors don’t want to do anything that imperils their firm.

However, the release of the audit should not have to wait for the court. Several weeks ago, Bruce Chapman asked Mr. Trent to authorize the release of the audit. Without offering a reason, in effect Mr. Trent said no. But perhaps he’ll change his mind. Therefore, I’m asking for your prayers and help. If you’re able to, please notify Mr. Trent (by phone, email or snail-mail) and ask him to authorize the immediate release of the audit. The audit should be released simultaneously to Mr. Trent, Mr. Timmons and me. I’ll then photocopy the audit and mail (or email) a copy of it to you.

In addition to proving my innocence, the audit should contain several recommendations on how to conduct business, and I promise to implement those recommendations.

A Plague on plagiarism: Copying someone else's doctrinal writings is something of a denominational distinctive in the Church of God. Indeed, there is "Apostolic precedent" in the sly appropriation by Herbert W. Armstrong of works by J. H. Allen (Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright) and COG7 (Has Time Been Lost?

Fast forward to 2005 and it seems Craig W, hyper-conservative apologist behind several COG websites as well as the "Original WCG" Yahoo forum, is none too happy to see what he regards as the fruit of his own "research" appearing - without acknowledgement - on Bob Thiel's COGwriter site.

It is seems to us that Bob Thiele [sic] has based his research on my recent paper on the Eastern Churches. In addition, his article on 'Europa and the Beast' also seems to be based on my article on 'A Woman Rides the Beast' written many, many years before his article. Just too many coincidences here.

We are all for further research and writing on these issues, but it would be nice if some writers would acknowledge their sources. This sort of thing has happened several times now. Two plagiarists have since backed [?] recanted.

The cause of Craig's chagrin is a posting by Bob in which he comments on Eastern Orthodox doctrine. After outlining his ideas Bob writess:

My research has been confirming a hunch that I had, and that is, that there are certain doctrines that the Orthodox Church either did not lose, or (in most cases) took longer to lose, than the churches that developed from Rome. I am working on an article about the similarties [sic] and disimilarities [sic] of the doctrines of the COGs and the Orthodox Church.

Joe Dulaney's money and the compassionate Apostle: A column in the Dallas Morning News recently paid tribute to Joe Dulaney, "one of Collin County's most colorful residents." A man with great wealth, but a frugal philosophy:

[HWA] came to Dallas when Mr. Dulaney was dying in Collin Memorial Hospital to make sure that his will was in order, but he did not visit his benefactor

His reluctance to spend money was so extreme that he didn't even eat right. He was a good friend of my father's, and I can remember his complaining that Shaw's Café had gone up from 20 cents to a quarter for a bowl of chili. As a result, he said he would only eat every other day.

He had an automobile that had only one seat for two people, and he sold it because some people of the neighborhood would ask him to take them somewhere, and that took gasoline, which at the time was about 12 cents a gallon. He agonized over whether he should buy an electric razor, which cost $9 to $11. He never bought it. 

But there's an ironic twist...

Before television took off, the radio and newspapers were the main source of entertainment and news. Mr. Dulaney became enamored, spellbound, with Herbert W. Armstrong, a California religious radio personality who founded the Worldwide Church of God. His theme was that the Sabbath, the seventh day, was Saturday, not Sunday. Mr. Dulaney opened the vault and poured his money into that ministry.

Mr. Armstrong came to McKinney and baptized Mr. Dulaney in some local creek. He came to Dallas when Mr. Dulaney was dying in Collin Memorial Hospital to make sure that his will was in order, but he did not visit his benefactor. The bulk of the Dulaney estate was willed to the ministry. Mr. Dulaney died in 1968, and in the 1970s, Mr. Armstrong's son, Garner Ted Armstrong, got involved with the ministry and was quickly removed after a series of affairs with many different women. The church unraveled; Joe Dulaney was gone, and so was his money.

Numbers below are in thousands (i.e. UCG ranked between 51,000 and 51,999 in March)

1. UCG 51

2. WCG 98

3. CGI 158

4. Ruth 164

5. Pack 192

6. TW 208

7. LCG 214

8. Boston  216

9. GN 237

10. Kubik 314


1. UCG 50

2. LCG 91

3. WCG 98

4. CGI 137

5. Ruth 157

6. Boston 204

7. Pack 216

8. TW 224

9. GN 226

10. Kubik 281


1. UCG 55

2. LCG 90

3. WCG 95

4. Ruth 140

5. CGI 159

6. Boston 204

7. GN 205

8. Pack 216

9. Kubik 278

10. TW 296


1. UCG 58

2. WCG 99

3. LCG 102

4. Ruth 137

5. GN 157

6. Boston 207

7. CGI 240

8. Pack 258

9. Kubik 272

10. AW 274


1. UCG 65

2. WCG 107

3. Ruth 141

4. GN 151

5. Boston 200

6. LCG 239

7. AW 264

8. TW 297

9. Pack 303

10. Kubik 310


1. UCG 79

2. WCG 118

3. GN 143

4. Ruth 158

5. Boston 210

6. TW 210

7. AW 230

8. Trumpet 268

9. LCG 317

10. Kubik 327

Websites - what's hot: Over the last 6 months the UCG website has maintained its top ranking of COG-related sites - as measured by Alexa.  Despite this the site has lost ground, and is currently ranked in the 79,000 band, down from 50,000 in April (the lower the number the better the result.) UCG also climbs to the third spot this month with its Good News site, up from the 237,000 band to 143,000. UCG minister Victor Kubik's site has also made the list each month. 

LCG has fared less well. Briefly catapulted into online prominence following the Wisconsin killings, it now languishes at number 9, while Tomorrow's World has only just managed to fight its way back to where it was in March.

Despite the grandiose claims of David Pack, Alexa reveals a downward trend that has seen the RCG drop out of the top 10 completely. CGI has also plummeted out of sight. 

Alan Ruth's Bible Study site continues to attract considerable interest and has never been out of the top 5. The pseudonymous "Dr. Boston's" Reluctant Messenger has also maintained consistent figures. Apart from the Good News, working their way up the food chain during the last 6 months were Ambassador Watch and Flurry's Trumpet site, which managed to push aside LCG to take 8th place on August 1. 

Note: The figures shown are for the beginning of each month. Full details for August 1 are available here.



More bad news for Worldwide Ministries COG: COGW is a many splintered thing. From WCG to CGI to ICG and then into the wilderness. All that dislocation has brought little relief to the scattered brethren who've hitched their wagons to this particular mule. Excerpts from a recent letter:

We’re reluctant to write yet another letter about the problems in the church. By now, you must be somewhat tired of hearing about these problems. We are too. After all, these problems surfaced months ago, when George Trent notified some of us that he and Earl Timmons suspected that Tom Kerry was misusing church tithes. Messrs. Trent and Kerry then met to review the books. The next day or so, Mr. Trent informed some of us that he was satisfied with the books and Mr. Kerry’s answers, and advised us to disregard information sent by Mr. Timmons. However, Mr. Trent did not tell us that Mr. Timmons had already formed a new organization in Tennessee, took $82,500 of your tithes, and tried to divert all church mail to his organization in TN. Afterward, Mr. Trent commissioned an audit to determine Mr. Kerry’s innocence or guilt. 

It didn’t make sense: Messrs. Trent & Timmons prejudged Mr. Kerry to be guilty, took drastic actions, and then commissioned an audit to prove Mr. Kerry’s innocence or guilt. Later, they tried to shut down the Work in Louisiana and assume complete control of the church by moving the corporation to TN. Worse, they did not inform the entire ministry of their intentions and actions. 

Despite our misgivings, we didn’t do anything to stop them, that is, until we heard of their intention to move everything to TN, etc. Consequently, we dissolved the board. And in the spirit of Acts 15, we called an emergency meeting for the entire ministry. Messrs. Trent & Timmons ignored our invitation to collectively solve these problems. Instead, they wrote letters to defame Mr. Kerry; spent money to set up the corporation in TN; hired a lawyer to justify their actions; and hired the CT Corporation (a secular, outside firm) to represent the church. To legally contact Messrs. Trent and Timmons, you must first contact the CT Corporation. Because of their actions, we removed their ministerial credentials of Mr. George Trent and Mr. Earl Timmons... and duly notified them that they could no longer represent the Church of God, Worldwide Ministries. Unsurprisingly, they ignored us. 

Contrary to biblical instruction (I Cor. 6:1), Messrs. Trent & Timmons sought lawyers. Therefore, in the best interests of the church, we have been forced seek legal recourse. We asked Mr. Kerry, as Director of Operations, to seek an injunction preventing them from seizing church records and moving the corporation to TN. (This injunction isn’t a lawsuit; the church is not being sued.) We’ll also be forced to send official letters demanding that they “cease and desist” from further damaging the church, etc.

Stick with light bulbs! Remember the candelabra that Flurry acquired for his Oklahoma compound? "That Prophet" informed his flock that they were "Persian" - following a much repeated urban legend that they were once the property of the Shah. DP burst the bubble by commenting that they were French Baccarat crystal. Another source now advises that the candelabra had in fact never been in Iran, but were simply the same design that the Shah chose to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. We trust Gerry paid extra for the misunderstanding!

Poll results: Last month we asked 2 poll questions. Here are the final results.

(1) Has Joe done a competent job in the role of president and Pastor General? 323 votes were cast. No 288 (89.2%), Yes 35 (10.8%)

(2) Do you expect Joe to step down from the leadership of the WCG this year as he indicated? 236 votes were cast. Definitely 5 (2.1%), Probably 7 (3%), Possibly 17 (7.2%), No 207 (87.7%)

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