September 2005 - Issue 65

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

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28 September

Wednesday Sept. 28

Remember Chicken Little? The sky is falling! Well, CGI's Ian Boyne is worried that the fleeing fowl may be carrying deadly bird flu. Ian's recent Gleaner article on the subject is online. Meantime, anyone spotting the chook in question should probably wring it's scrawny neck.

Monday Sept. 26

In the latest Southern Exposure column, AW's editor indulges in "A Liberal Rant" with a difference, and determines that Brian Knowles (pictured above) is himself a closet liberal - with proof text supplied!

Joe Tkach writes "The WCG Katrina Fund has received approximately $111,037 to date." (Sept. 21 update)

Saturday Sept. 24

In a fraternal gesture the Church of God (Seventh Day) has donated more than $12,000 to LifeNets for Tsunami reconstruction.  The money was raised through COG7's Disaster Relief Fund.

A response to Joe III's comments on faith has been posted on The Lake of Fire.

What is Spanky saying? From the front page of the latest Living Church News:  "Even if our expected time-frame of end-time events is off by several  years..."  Huh? Compare that with this statement in his latest co-worker letter:  "We appear to be entering the final phase of Christ’s Work preparing the way for His Second Coming!"  Seems Rod has a dollar each way.

Wednesday Sept. 21

The Church of God, Big Sandy (pastored by Dave Havir) owns a very nice building out on Highway 80. But it seems the congregation has a problem when it comes to hiring out their facilities. It isn't all that long ago that the Kenneth Westby One God seminars, scheduled to be held on the church premises, were hastily relocated after someone decided that it was somehow inappropriate. Now a teachers' group has had similar treatment.

Monday Sept. 19

A further blog entry by Joe Tkach III explores his views on Christianity.

Saturday Sept. 17

Following on from Dennis Diehl's open letter to David Pack, XCG's Gary Scott has done likewise.

The Pack tirade has also inspired a new entry on the Lake of Fire blog. 

The wisdom of Willie Dankenbring is now Katrina-focused: "Will we get the message? Will our leaders? New Orlean’s fate was only a “warning” – a “shot across the bow” of our ship of state! A Warning to America to “Repent or Perish!”"

Thursday Sept. 15

Bob Thiel, not someone AW always agrees with, writes about Dave Pack: He is once again an embarrassment to the COGs. Amen, brother.

Dennis Diehl's  latest column is an open letter to Pack. Den takes us into new (at least to AW) territory with some radical new ideas about all those numbers and symbols in the Apocalypse.  Could the man be on to something?

Wednesday Sept. 14

Guy Swenson, an independent COG minister, has posted a response to the David Pack "Open Letter". Swenson is involved with the NT Evangelism ministry (which has organized a relief response to Katrina), and formerly served in the UCG.

Dennis Diehl is working on his own response; an open letter to Dave.  Look for it in the weekend upload.

WCG webmaster Bret Miller has way too much time on his hands.  Believe it or not Bret has registered! It was first created in September 2002, and renewed just a few days ago. What can we say, other than, um, well, yes Bret, we agree (thanks to Anne for the tip-off.)

Homer Kizer continues his policy of "much importuning" over the Port Austin debacle. His latest From the Margins commentary is available for those who are interested.

Saturday Sept. 10

Do you think he was trying to be funny? Rod wrote in his August 22 co-worker letter: Pope Benedict made quite a splash in Cologne.

A special request to readers using the AOL browser. We're aware that AW may not always display properly using AOL. We'd appreciate it if you could drop us a line if you're having trouble so we can gauge how widespread the problem is.

Thursday September 8

The 102nd issue of The Journal is now out. The front and back pages are available as a free PDF download.

Guy Swenson advises: "Several of us have joined forces in a cooperative effort to give support to hurricane Katrina victims. We have announced “Project Good Samaritan” as an umbrella under which we are coordinating our efforts to provide aid to those in need." Details are available on the NTE  web site.

According to a Danish reader, Mark and the gang at ICG/GTAEA are a tad behind the times. He's just checked out the latest issue of the sect's Intercontinental News and been surprised to find that GTA is listed as Editor In Chief. Or is Chipper communicating with Dad via an oui ja board?

And while we're chipping away at that topic, maybe someone could encourage Mark to get his epistles proof read before he sends them forth. He seems, for example, to be a bit confused about the difference between a levy and a levee.

Another COGlet soliciting Katrina funds is Tom Kerry's COGWM.  Kerry pastors their New Orleans congregation, which owns a church facility in the city.

The owners of the former Big Sandy AC campus are also doing something: "The ALERT campus has been opened up, free of
charge, to meet the needs of the hurricane refugees headed to East Texas. Families have already begun taking rooms on the campus. Donations
are being taken to help feed and care for these displaced people."

It's been a while since we published a gem by the foremost authority in COGdom on chapter and verse. Well, verse mainly. Seamus, may he be thrice blessed, has a new offering called Repent.

UCG has produced another issue of its low-profile Virtual Christian Magazine (VCM) online. The webpage format lacks the professionalism of the GN, and the PDF edition is downright clunky. As for the content... you be the judge.

And finally, a one-liner from a disciple of Fred Coulter who tried reading Charles Hunting and Anthony Buzzard's book on the Trinity: The Buzzards are certainly Hunting the people of God.

Wednesday Sept.  7

Not that anybody is likely to care, but for the record, WCG has also registered International Grace Fellowship (IGF) as a domain name.

LifeNets, a COG charity run by Victor Kubik, has set up a special Katrina fund.

Tuesday September 6

Norm Edward's Port Austin facility seems to be now owned by something called Eternal Life Bible Institute (ELBI) which is associated with a gentleman who is currently doing time in a federal prison for fraud. Norm's interest in the project continues unabated, however, and we're told he's been trying to interest several retired people in moving to Port Austin and investing in the enterprise.

Apologetics is regarded by some as the main purpose of theology, while others see it as an intellectually dishonest diversion for the insecure. Alex Ciurana falls in the former category. He's a COG7 pastor and his website is called Reasons for Faith.

Sidelines has been renamed (why should Joe have all the  fun?) From today it's The Buzz. Quick Bret, see if you can register it!

Sunday  September 4

Micah Royal writes about Bible abuse in a special column for AW.

Friday September 2

Here's the web site for the new developer of the East Campus (takes a minute or two to load on dial-up). This is the area that contained Imperial Schools, the cabinet shop, paint shop, plant maintenance, publishing, shipping and receiving, transportation,
and the old gas station that housed fleet sales for a while.

AW has improved its Alexa ranking to now stand at 207,980 - the sixth busiest COG related site on the Web. 

San Diego was the first home to the Meredith LCG. While the sect has since relocated to North Carolina, it seems abandoned locals can take comfort in the presence of a like-minded (and branded) enterprise that continues to serve the good citizens of San Diego!

Kscribe is back with what might be his best online movie yet called "the child".  Douglas Becker has good things to say about it, and Kscribe modestly proclaims it as "the finest work I have produced yet, and the most serious of subjects I could have picked!"  Curious? If you have a fast connection try here, or a slower one here.

A New York-based TV talk show has contacted Mike Minton about an upcoming show on abuse in religious cults.  Mike is currently mulling over the offer.

Thanks to everyone who has suggested captions for the photograph of Joe taken at the recent conference. We'll run the various offerings mid-week.

CGI's Ian Boyne has an opinion to offer on the recent statements by Pat Robertson. His Jamaica Gleaner column is available online.

Some time ago we mentioned an interview COG-aic did with James Tabor. That interview is now online.

Number Fourteen, step up to the microphone: It's busy, busy, busy at LCG HQ in Charlotte, and new CAD boss Douglas Winnail (caught up in "watching prophecies being fulfilled" on TV) obviously has better things to do than proof read his weekly bulletin. Or could it be that LCG really is about to publish a booklet entitled "Fourteen Sings Announcing Christ’s Return"

Dawn to Dusk: Rod McQueen's recently launched website, Dawn to Dusk, looks as though it has the potential to bring a fresh approach to the COG corner of the Net. Perhaps predictably though, the former Aussie minister appears to be heavily into fundamentalist apologetics (especially creationism).

Oh the wisdom of the supreme Intelligent Designer. Who could possibly believe that such sophistication came about because a tiny speck of infinite mass exploded?

But what's this? On the reader's feedback page Rod assures prospective correspondents: 

Any messages that are posted will not be edited, even for grammar or spelling.

Only one letter appears so far - and, you guessed it, it's been edited to remove references to Charles Hunting and Anthony Buzzard's pro-Unitarian book.

Trouble in paradise? It seems all may not be well in the outer reaches of Gerry Flurry's dominions if an email doing the rounds is anything to go by. According to the email "That Prophet" flew into a rage recently with a visiting minister. The email seems to have had a wide circulation over the last few days, but so far we've been unable to confirm or verify the contents.

Adding to the difficulty is the rambling and polemic style of the writer, mixed with some wild speculation about scriptures. The writer also does not seem to have English as a first language. The gist of the email is as follows:

A gentleman named Newton Wicramasinghe, PCG's ministerial rep in South East Asia, met with Gerry on August 24. Once the usual pleasantries were over he raised certain "sins" which he wanted "That Prophet" to fix. Wicramasinghe was particularly critical of PCG bigwig Alex Harrison. It seems there was confusion about who has been ordained and who is merely a local contact person. Wicramasinghe was concerned that ordination certificates had been issued for 14 ministers under Harrison's supervision.

Following time-honored practice, the Prophet decided that the best defense was a strong counter-offence. Gerry blasted Wicramasinghe for not divorcing his wife as instructed following her disfellowship (brought about over a letter she wrote at the beginning of the year). The email alleges that Alex Harrison had told members in India that Mrs. Wicramasinghe was an anti-Christ.

Gerry - renown for being a good listener, sensitive to others and a born peacemaker - is then reported to have said: "Isn’t she the antichrist? No one has done more harm and made crazy vicious accusations unlike that woman... I can see that you are clearly not fit to work in this ministry if you don’t understand that you must separate yourself from your wife. It is in the bible that if an eye offends you or an arm you pluck it out. You have disobeyed the government of God and I will have to put you our of the ministry because you have not obeyed me."

The account continues: "GF was adamant that he had nothing more to discuss. NW opened the Bible and tried to talk to GF and he stopped and said... NO, GET OUT! OUT!! OUT!!! YOU ARE OUT OF THIS MINISTRY AND CHURCH. GF further said to Chloe [Wicramasinghe's daughter], if you want to come to church you must separate yourself from your father and mother."



In Rita's wake: The following update comes from New Orleans minister Tom Kerry of Church of God Worldwide Ministries.

I am sad to have to report that one of our members whom many of you know, Mary Lou Champagne passed away as a result of the evacuation. She had been under going treatment for cancer and was making progress. Her brother informed me that the strain of the preparation for the hurricane, the long drive to Dallas with all the delays weakened her to the point that when they got her to the hospital, there was nothing they could do for her. I was informed she passed peacefully in her sleep...

Every member has gone through this disaster [Katrina & Rita] with at least some damage. Many have undergone serious damage, some flooding, and to our knowledge, at least six family’s homes had as much as seven to 12 feet of water, losing everything. Most are out of work and still displaced. One member was recently fired because she couldn’t get to Texas in the time frame her company gave her. Her home was under water, and she and her husband were still trying to get a grasp on their situation when she was terminated. 

Several have been able to use the church to stay in until their homes are up and running. Others will be using the church as a refuge as they return to N.O. and begin to get their lives in order.

Melissa's Rita blog: A regular AW reader notes that his better half has kept a fairly detailed blog (Dr. M) on Rita and its impact.

Joe in Edmonton: Last Saturday El Presidente hopped across the border to preach in Edmonton. The sermon was entitled "Let's Travel Together". In the next mailbag we'll run comments from a reader on what was said, but for now the question might be: does the generous travel offer actually mean sharing economy with the membership, or does Joe intend to continue riding in First Class with only his close buddies, making the decisions for everyone else?



Rita: Hurricane Rita is a concern for many who live in or near its path, and this time there has been an early response within the COG community. One individual, Jim Ross, despite battling personal health issues, has attempted to co-ordinate assistance for brethren displaced by the storm. WCG's news update from Tom Hanson begins: Our hearts and prayers are with everyone in the path of Hurricane Rita and those still suffering from Hurricane Katrina. As one sign I saw said: “We don’t needa Rita.” For the latest information on how WCG members in the region are faring (including a list of those unaccounted for) go to the WCG website at Mike Morrison will update this section as he receives additional information.

Thoughts from a reformed reformer: A new blog has appeared from an undisclosed activist in the WCG reformation. 

We won the revolution of course. We were on the side of truth. But all the revolutionaries were promptly rounded up and shot (in most cases metaphorically - but there were a lot of suicides). Earl Williams was the first big target, dozens followed later. Rodney Lain put an actual bullet to himself after a betrayal of faith by Mark Flynn. One jumped from the Bay Bridge. One by one the rest were eliminated from the future ministry...  all the world Evangelical praised God for bringing about such a miracle. But they were never there for the war. They gave comfort to the enemy.

There are no Liars for Jesus.

Stoned (1): So the Stone of Scone is a pious fraud, eh? What next? Will experts debunk the Shroud of Turin? James' ossuary? The Holy Grail? If we can't have relics, how can we be expected to have faith??!! At least the Auditorium and the egrets still stand. That's proof enough for me!


Stoned (2): I read in a British newspaper back in 1986 while I was in London that the real stone was taken as a practical joke and hidden away in an English basement were it quickly fell apart (so the thieves said) and they replaced it with a rock from a local stone factory. 


Stoned (3): I didn’t see the stone until a few years ago when I toured Edinburgh Castle, where it is now kept. If I had seen it many years ago, when I, too, believed it was Jacob’s pillow, I would’ve been far more excited at viewing a rather routine-looking rock.

Francis Penkava

Stoned (4): It should be no surprise that there's no basis to the pillow stone legend, since the Stone of Scone wasn't even dubbed Jacob's Pillow Stone until very late in history. The earliest Scottish legends of the Stone of Scone do not mention Jacob or the Jews at all. John of Fordun, writing in the late 1300s, says that a certain Smonbret (Siomon Breac, Simon the Freckled, NOT Simon Baruch, amanuensis of Jeremiah!) was the son of a Scottish (that is, "Irish," because that's what "Scot" original referred to) king in Spain, before the Irish migrated to Ireland. Smonbret's father sent him to Ireland, and gave him a marble throne, which Smonbret placed at Tara as the coronation stone. But John of Fordun also mentions another legend: that this stone was brought to Spain from Egypt by Gaythelos, legendary (and quite nonexistent) ancestor and eponym of the Gaels. Yet another legend that Fordun mentions is that when Smonbret sailed to Ireland from Spain, his anchors got stuck on something off the coast of Ireland, and when he hauled up his anchors, a carved marble throne was hooked on the anchors. Smonbret accepted this throne as a gift from the gods and placed it as his throne in Ireland.

Notice the lack of all reference to Jacob's pillow stone in Bethel, to Jeremiah or Tea Tephi or anything like it. The story of Tea Tephi and Jeremiah bringing Jacob's pillow stone to Ireland does not appear anywhere until the 1800s. It seems it was simply *made up* by the British Israelists. Contrary to the erroneous tales and falsehoods of the British Israelists, Irish legend knows nothing whatsoever of any woman named Tea Tephi, but there is a medieval Gaelic poem that describes various legends (guesses) about how Tara in Ireland got its name. One legend was that Tara (Teamhuir) was named after Tea, wife of the legendary first High King of Ireland, and other legend says it was named after Tephi, daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt, who somehow managed to make her way to Ireland. It was the British Israelists who merged Tea with Tephi and decided that "daughter of Pharaoh" meant "daughter of the King of Judah." Notice that "Tephi" sounds kind of like an Egyptian name -- or like what a medieval Irish poet might think was an Egyptian name. It also shouldn't be surprising that Irish legend does not say anything about this Tephi marrying any Irish king, nor that she was ancestress of the later kings in Ireland and Scotland. That kind of throws a spanner in the works of Herbert Armstrong's vaunted pedigree tracing back to "Tea Tephi," daughter of Zedekiah.

Jared Olar

Stoned (5): Greetings from England. Without committing to any theory of origins, it's pertinent to know that there has for years been strong suspicion - among secular authorities - that the true Stone has long been secreted by the Scottish authorities, and that the present one is a replica. Maybe. Nice pic!


Stoned (6): I hate to throw a spanner in the works, but no lesser a person than Billy Connelly, in his TV show called Billy Connelly’s tour of the British Isles (I think), visited the stone and said it was a fake because there had been a switch and the real one was somewhere in Scotland and a substitute was put in its place. I can’t remember the details – but I remember at the time thinking that this made three “overturns” of the stone mentioned in HWA’s book actually four or some such. I was going to do some sort of in-depth study about it because it was obviously either inspired new truth or a satanic attack on God’s church, but somehow I couldn’t get motivated! I just enjoyed the show. He also did a tour of Australia which was good.


Stoned (7): I saw on the latest AW that there was comment about the Stone of Scone. When we were at Westminster Abbey we had a special tour by a man who talked about the myths of the Stone of Destiny and other names that it's called. He said that it has been proven to be a myth and seems only to an interest now of days to some Americans that come over to the UK. The article link that you had for the Sunday Times is almost what he told us.

Stoned (8): It is as likely that it is a counterfeit copy with the genuine article having remained hidden away in Scotland. Who really knows? But I'm not going to accept an unknown author coming out of nowhere and getting a piece of the stone to "analyze" if that is what she really did. Because debunkers are lurking isn't going to cause me to believe self-serving accounts. I'm content to believe it is what has been claimed for it all these centuries.


Crosses: Thank you, Gillian Katz, for your poem. It brought back memories. And your final point was especially poignant. If there is one thing I have learned through the years, it is that our God looks upon the heart, not the outward appearance. If we are to be children of God, we must do the same. When a friend gives me a Christmas gift, I don't launch into a long-winded explanation of why I don't celebrate the holiday. I accept it graciously, with thanks. Besides, chances are I've given this same friend a Feast gift -- so they already know I don't trade presents in December.

Similarly, when someone close to me has died, and my friends assure me that my relative is already in joy at seeing the face of God, that's really not the time to "correct" them on the subject. The time for such discussion is when feelings -- mine and theirs -- are calmer. The outward appearance can be corrected later.

Do I believe using the cross as a religious symbol comes from heathen pre-Christian religions? Yes, I do. Do I believe it is a violation of the second commandment? Yes, I do. Do I say so? Yes, I do. Do I believe the crosses at Milwaukee were set up by somebody who was honestly trying to comfort us? Someone who was trying to show love? Yes, I do. It wasn’t really emphasized, but the man who put them up was the same man who set up the crosses at Columbine High School in 1999. He had to drive a considerable distance to reach the place of our grief. As an LCG member, I was touched.

I knew there would be some armchair quarterbacks crying foul. I didn't care. As far as I know, however, none of the people who were actually there in that Sheraton hotel room were complaining.


Pack (1): Just to verify what Gary Scott had shared on XCG with regard to David Pack being virtually invisible, I did a search of my own using various names. When I input the following names, the majority of the information which came up actually related to the people whom we all know: Gerald Flurry, Roderick Meredith, Joseph Tkach, David Hulme, and even Clyde Kilough! However, when I set my browser for David Pack, I discovered that apparently David Pack is the leader of a well known rock band called Ambrosia. There were dozens of sites devoted to David Pack's infinitely more famous namesake. Talk about an unfortunate (or was it God-sent?) identity crisis! No wonder RCG Dave had to ordain himself Apostle!

Byker Bob

Pack (2): As one who personally felt the wrath of Royal Inquisitor and Executioner Pack (marked & disfellowshipped for daring to study the Bible on my own), I found his diatribe shocking but far from surprising. I would suspect that someday this man, through God’s Mercy, will provide Annas, Caiaphas, Torquemada, Dr. Mengele, and others of his ilk with eternal company. Somebody around Wadsworth should see that a copy of that brand of insanity gets exposure in a local paper. 

Been There, Left That

Pack (3): The response in the last Mailbag of several AW readers against Apostle Dave Pack’s heartless commentary on hurricane Katrina’s victims is perfectly understandable and to be applauded—Pack’s “Open Letter” being the standard ranting of a fanatical COG zealot... Dave Pack was merely re-emphasizing and extrapolating upon what his “Apostolic predecessor,” Herbert Armstrong, was known to have taught numerous times in years past: in essence, “Don’t waste your time or money trying to put band-aids on Satan’s world, instead keep those tithes and offerings coming out to headquarters, folks!” This may not have been “official doctrine” in the old WCG, but off-handed comments HWA made like this during his sermons were routinely elevated to the status of “God-inspired,” and I can attest that the vast majority of church members back then took them as such.

A belief like this (“official” or not) provokes questions in my mind. Does Dave’s unfeeling approach to the tragedies of “Satan’s world” include other unfortunate human traumas that happen from time to time (though admittedly on a much smaller scale than hurricanes or terrorist attacks)—like auto accidents, for example? “Oh well, I know you could use a little first aid here, but you’re part of Satan’s society, and the Apostle Dave tells me if I actually HELPED you now I might be interfering with God’s loving punishment intended for your ultimate benefit! So, see you later, God-bless, and please accept this subscription card for ‘The Real Truth’ magazine as a token of my Christian love!”

Hopefully this kind of “be warmed and filled,” heartless and completely inappropriate response to human suffering does not typify those of the average COG member. But it sure does reflect poorly (and accurately) upon their sometimes uncaring shepherds - and the unthinking, arrogant, delusional and often embarrassing proclamations such leaders are known to make on a fairly regular basis.

Pack’s letter illustrates quite well an important reality often overlooked in apocalyptic, shoot-from-the-hip type religions such as his - that ideas and beliefs have real-world consequences. As a result of my 30 years of involvement in the WCG (including two of it’s offshoot splinter groups) I’ve learned by hard, painful experience to not only rigorously analyze the various truth claims and teachings made by such groups (warning: attempting to seriously use your mind like this may lead to an unsolicited, rather unpleasant counseling session from your local pastor attempting to correct your “bad attitude”), but to seriously reflect upon the very real and practical IMPLICATIONS such teachings frequently have for their follower’s lives as they (consciously or unconsciously) put these beliefs into everyday practice.

Randy Martens

Pack (4): It's an unassailable fact that sane people cannot understand insanity. Any rebuttal to this pack of bull-dust won't affect positive change (repentance??) and could be construed as "proof that he's right and that gaaad is working with him".

When I read the letter I wasn't sure whether to cry or fume at its insensitivity. The letter bastardizes the Christianity of Christ, the Apostles, Polcarp and Polycrates, and the thousands who have preached and practised it down through the centuries. This self-mesmerizing theo-bable, hyperbolic vitriol, this cereal-box banal version of "truth", is full of invective against people he doesn't know.

Here's my challenge to Pack. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is and send your letter to your President, your Congress, New Orleans' Mayor, Louisiana and Mississippi Governors and wait for it, to each and every New Orleans and Biloxi resident. After all, if you're concerned about their eternal salvation why wouldn't you contact each of them directly? This is an excellent opportunity for you to help the 30,000 catch your "vision"...

John Karagiannidis

Pack (5): Lots of open letters to Dave Pack are being written, but Amos wrote the first one, and not just to him but to everyone who claims Katrina is from God. “For the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His counsel unto His servants the prophets.” Alright you who tell us on God’s authority that he is punishing the New Orleans and neighbors, why didn’t you tell us ahead of time since surely God must have revealed it to you?

It seems to me that when God decides to destroy a city it gets destroyed. The Flood destroyed completely, and God warned his servant Noah ahead of time. God also did a thorough job on Sodom and its neighbors, but not before warning his servant Abraham. How many other God-authored destructions to we read about in the Bible? Aside from a couple of errant sons being killed and a guy who wasn’t to touch the Ark of the Covenant I can’t think of any. And each time, God revealed that he would do it. So, in the 4000 years the Bible covers we have 4 examples of God actually destroying people. What is that, 1 every thousand years? Not very often.

Pack (6): [click on the thumbnail]

splintoon.jpg (79705 bytes)

COGlish: I just read the "Speak COGlish Like a Pro" article in the columns page. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with an ex COGer. We were talking about how squeaky clean our mouths are. One never uttered the words crap, darn, heck, etc. The only cuss word allowed was the word "ghastly". We've only heard it from English tourists or from A.C. students. We think that the word was picked up by A.C. students at Bricket Wood. A recent writer in this website used the word "ghastly". How ghastly, an ex-WCGer with a coglish accent. For those readers who speak British-English I've never heard an American use "ghastly", only those who went to A.C.


Jonathan McNair: If Jonathan McNair really said that [LCG does not teach they are the only Church of God], then either he has very recently experienced spiritual maturation and is "departing from the faith Herbert once delivered", or he is flat out lying.

In 2003 Jonathan McNair told my wife, who was a member of LCG at the time, that he would not marry us, because "he (myself) is not a member, nor a prospective member of LCG". He told her it was "Church policy". The kicker is that I was a member of the ICG at the time and practiced the same doctrines of LCG, with some minor but I guess extremely important exceptions.

Paul Ray

Henry Sturcke: Hello, I thought Mr. Sturcke's recent book, his comments on Katrina, and letter regarding Mr. Pack were insightful and refreshing. I was surprised when some responded critically. It may be that his writing is sometimes misunderstood. One must see through his occasional sarcasm, dry wit, and the way he sometimes "role plays" his comments by writing in the first person. I have known Mr. Sturcke since my first introductory lectures to the WCG in 1981. He has always had an interesting and mature perspective on some of the more radical teachings. Now, from his perch in Europe, he seems to have resolved many of the issues that haunt many of us "ex-COGers" I'm still dreaming and missing the friendship of many families - all of the families I was close to for over twenty years, having been disfellowshipped from the PCG in 2001 after the WTC disaster. Mr. Sturcke, keep up the postings!, Its good to feel comfortable reading your material - it helps all of us heal and come to a more developed, mature perspective on our beliefs, putting the utopian ideals of our spiritual adolescence behind us. 

Geoff Gogan

Great Red Spot & Satan: My guess on the the Great Red Spot? Yes it was [a result of sin]! Satan's Sin.

Shocked & dismayed: The "shocked and dismayed" UCG member is justified in mocking me (9/15/05, mailbag). The Armstrong cult ministers aren't "unqualified buffoons." They are qualified buffoons who are unqualified to be ministers. I stand corrected!


Joe III (1): After reading much of Joe Tkach III's blogs, and personal website I find that he is the most transparent, honest and forthcoming of any of the Tkach clan (or any other COG leader). I may not agree with all that he states, in fact, I disagree wholesale with much of it, but, in terms of frankness, candor and just plain "this is who I am", he beats out every COG leader that has ever been.

Here is my vote for the Junior Tkach to be the next head of the Worldwide Church of God. Spread the word and create a movement!

Bill Lussenheide

AW: You are kidding, right?

Joe III (2): Just read today's update to AW. I didn't know JT jr had a son... I copied what I saw of jeva's, for possible later perusal... BTW, thank you for doing a good job exposing the BS in all the cog related crap.


Joe III (3): I always thought you were a busy guy... but after reading the nonsense entitled Thank You... [about Joe III's blog] I have to wonder. You do a terrific job otherwise and most of us out here tune you in daily. But I just couldn't figure out why this item.

Joe III (4): Yes, Little Joe is Little Joe.. see

Webmaster writes: Thanks for mentioning my web site in Ambassador Watch. I had 140 visitors from your web site last Saturday, and another 140 over the following two days. Could you please include my web site in the United Kingdom section of your 'Links' page? ...

Peter Cross

AW: You're listed under "information sites"

Sielaff (1): "Satan dislikes disorder, chaos, and public sin..." (David Sielaff). Yes, the logic escapes me. Could you get a clarification? 

Sielaff (2): Where do these people come from? I've never heard of David Sielaff, but I used to have a copy of Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons, from which Sielaff seems to be cribbing. And what's the deal with his dogmatizing about God being responsible for evil, but Satan disliking chaos, disorder, and public sin? Seems like Mr. Sielaff (in the footsteps of the Gnostics and Marcionites of old) needs a refresher course on how to tell God from the Devil. Hint for Mr. Sielaff: the Devil's the guy with the horns, God's the old bald guy wearing the robes and sporting the long, bushy beard.

Yeah, I know that's a ridiculous thing to say, but it doesn't seem much more ridiculous than "it is not the responsibility of Christians to assist non-Christians unless you have some other relationship to them."

Jared Olar

Sielaff (3): Don't be so quick to judge David Sielaff of ASK. I am a long time supporter of ASK and I am sure Mr. Sielaff did not mean what he said about Hurricane Katrina in the same way Pack did. If you are going to go by God's Word, the Bible. You will see that He does allow bad things to happen to either teach some one a lesson or to go according to His plains. For example, He did allow Satan to do all those terrible things to Job. God does not promise us a rose garden in this life. It is the next life in His Kingdom that we must look to. No, I don't think God is picking on the people of New Orleans and I gave a contribution to help them. It is just that Jesus said there would be terrible disasters in different places in the world as His second coming gets nearer. I believe that Katrina was just part of that prophecy. There have been more natural disasters in the past century than any other in history. If these are not the end times, I hate to see what is. For those who don't believe in God's Word, well, that's your choice. But I wish you would not throw God, Jesus, and the Bible away just because Armstrong or one of his stooges hurt you. God warned us in His Word about false ministers, so we have no one to blame but ourselves for the hurt Armstrong caused us, because God warned us about putting too much trust in men. As for ASK, I do not agree with them on everything, but it was Dr. Ernest Martin who taught me that I did not have to follow the Law of Moses in order to be a Christian and to think for myself. 

David W. Berryman

AW: If David Sielaff didn't mean what he said, what did he mean? The commentary was entitled "God is responsible".

Sielaff (4): The fact that nutty people are running around in a Life of Brian craze holding up a gourd or a sandal that might have belonged to HWA, while at the same time saying that God is the one who has got "the whole world in his hands" is neither here nor there. Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine would have said the same thing because they were deists. They did not believe in the sub-god theory of Satan. Neither do a lot of people who washed their hands of HWA after 1972 and others who never had contact with HWA at all.

The problem with your editorial comment is that while the nutty people who follow the ghost of HWA also claim the same thing (because it also suits their own egos by claiming to be some sort of representative of God), ... logic says that if God aint God then who is? ...

So "God is Love"? Tell that to the victims of the Nazis, the Soviets, the Sudan warriors, etc etc... The bottom line is that you did not ask to be born and by the same token you have no control over when you will die, but die you will... If you are facing a hurricane: flee and make sure that you have a survival kit in hand. (This includes a working flashlight, battery radio, first aid kit and [forget the] Bible!)

Bob Thiel: I think that Bob Thiel deserves a round of applause for his statement found on his COG Writer website: "Fourthly, given a sufficient disaster, Jesus' teachings suggest that it is appropriate to use items that would have been considered as first tithe to feed the hungry (see Luke 6:3-5)."

Frankly, I was surprised that Bob, a loyal member of LCG, would actually state that it is okay for Christians to give their first tithe to feed the hungry in an emergency like Katrina. This is a laudable step that shows critical thinking and understanding of the words and intent of Christ. I just wonder if a LCG minister would encourage his members to use their first tithe to feed the hungry instead of sending it to LCG HQ in order to fund the so-called "Work". If that happens, then I will not be surprised, but absolutely shocked.

Of course, I think it is clear from the entirety of the Bible that first tithe, and second, and third, should be used to feed the hungry at any time, not just in a disaster situation. As far as needing the money to fund the "Work", the gospel can be spread at little or no monetary cost (compared to the funding of TV programs and magazines) as evidenced in Acts 8. In fact, if LCG wants to spread the Gospel to the whole world, then all they need to do is buy a plane ticket, hire an interpreter, and send in a LCG minister. The costs of supporting his efforts in a third world country are probably much more cost effective per convert than a costly TV program. A minister on the ground in the wilderness is much more an effective tool of evangelism than a television program, which will never be seen by those living in backwater countries, due to lack of electricity and televisions.

Paul Ray

Postscript: I e-mailed Bob for clarification on the matter. He stated that is was okay, in certain situations, to use "items" that would normally be "considered" first tithe to feed the poor. I wondered if he meant monetary tithe. I asked him, "Are you advocating that Christians should use first tithe (a tenth of monetary salary) to feed and clothe those in need around them, in any situation?" Bob replied that he does not advocate the use of first tithe for the purpose of feeding and clothing those in need. He said there could be times when this was appropriate, but the present situation (I can only guess Katrina) is not one of them. Gee, what is? The tribulation?... I must say his subsequent clarification is not surprising at all. 

No speculation please: Thanks for posting James D. Tabor's "book clarification". I would like to point out to those who hate Herbert W. Armstrong for his failed speculation and haven't learned a thing who are still looking to human scholarship for clarification and confirmation of their belief or unbelief in God and the Bible that James Tabor emphasized that his book " intends to be a serious (though speculative) historical study". Thanks to James Tabor for his honesty and sincerity.

The Bible doesn't allow for speculation or guess work. Religion at this time in the history of mankind is a very "explosive" subject, literally or in essence. If you don't know it as fact; don't say it. If you say it whether fact or not you are going to have to face the consequences.

Be wise as wise can be and harmless as wisdom manifest itself.


AW: You're saying scholarship = speculation? No intellectual inquiry allowed? Thanks but no thanks.

Dear Dave column. Sounds like Dennis has a real love - hate bible relationship. Perhaps he could add Ps. 19:1-6. Would tie in nicely with as another source of Revelation.




David Pack's Greatest Hit: The latest 3 monthly average figures for Alexa are out, and there are surprises for COG watchers. Nine of the ten top rated sites at the beginning of the month have improved their rankings, including AW (up from the 207 thousands to 179,504!) But the big winner is the Pack cult. In one fell swoop they've lifted their performance from a lackluster 397,000 to 162,243 - a nose ahead of Meredith's Tomorrow's World site on 162,943. Pack's Real Truth site also benefited.

So what gives? Alexa tracked a huge surge in hits for the Pack site in the first week of September. This has thrown the stats out in the same way the sudden spike for LCG did immediately after the Wisconsin slayings. What caused it? That's unclear, but what is clear is the swift drop-off. The latest weekly average for Pack has them down to an insignificant 784,071 ranking.

Poison: According to Joe Tkach the name Worldwide Church of God has been poisoning his sect. The October WCG Today carries a story called WCG considers denominational name change (perhaps, more accurately, "WCG rams through name change")

In many ways, the name Worldwide Church of God is in effect ‘poisoned,’ similar to the way the German word fuehrer (leader), though innocuous in itself, is no longer usable in any normal sense because of its associations with a negative history. The negative associations with Armstrongism that are connected with the name Worldwide Church of God tend to hamper our effectiveness in proclaiming the gospel.

Dan Rogers sings the same tune: 

For many in the public arena, the name Worldwide Church of God is assumed to be the church affiliated with Garner Ted Armstrong or Herbert W. Armstrong. Also, most of the church groups who separated from the Worldwide Church of God and who still maintain the teachings and practices of Armstrongism, have adopted similar names, and this often causes confusion as to our identity in the mind of the public.

AW has maintained from day one that the real poison is the unaccountable hierarchical structure that leaves a self-appointed cabal in charge. Until that changes any name change will be pure window-dressing. 



Tea (Tephi) and (stone) scones: Remember all the fuss about the Stone of Scone (a.k.a. Stone of Destiny, Jacob's Pillow, the Coronation Stone, Jacob's Pillar and Liath Fail) among rabid BIs? The story went that Jeremiah (accompanied by the delightfully named princess Tea Tephi) hauled that sucker all the way from the Middle East so chinless members of the British aristocracy could be crowned while seated above it. Doug Ward, in an entry on XCG, draws attention to a recent report in Britain's Sunday Times ("Stone’s biblical past is exposed as myth") that gives that particular piece of nonsense a firm heave-ho. 

Jill Hamilton, the author and historian, took rock samples from the Palestinian village of Beitin, the traditional site of Jacob’s epiphany.

The samples, which are almost identical in composition to those at the time of Jacob’s supposed visit more than 2,000 years ago, were analysed by scientists at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh. They discovered that the samples contained fine-grained crystalline limestone, in stark contrast to the sandstone composition of the the Stone of Destiny.

Emrys Phillips, the geologist who carried out the tests, said the samples were as different as “chalk and cheese”. The stone was instead hewn from the 400m-year-old sandstone rocks around Scone.

Hamilton is adamant that her findings prove that the Stone of Destiny and Jacob’s pillow are not the same. “There is no doubt in my mind that the stone originated in Scotland and not Palestine as the legend tells us,” she said .

“I decided to look more closely at the myth of the stone because I’m interested in the influence of the Old Testament on Britain and the stone is a physical link which I wanted to verify. I think it is clear from the geological tests that the legend is without foundation.” 

Expect this item not to be reported in the Philadelphia Trumpet, Tomorrow's World or the GN.

The Second Book of Mokarow: Some time ago former WCG minister Art Mokarow penned a substantial book called God's Puzzle Solved, and offered it free of charge to all who requested it. Over 10,000 copies were mailed out. Now Mokarow has produced a follow-up volume: God's Work. According to publicity material God's Work "covers the entire process of God's salvation from Genesis to Revelation".

So, should you send for a copy? AW's guest reviewer of the first book, God's Puzzle Solved, was less than flattering back in April last year. Excerpts:

You can't criticize Art Mokarow for his dedication in self-publishing, promoting and mailing out a full length book (430 pages). You may even admire his commitment to provide this material free, and even refuse to accept donations. Mokarow's sincerity is obvious. The question is, was all the effort worth it?

God's Puzzle Solved is the first in a projected multi-volume project. In it Mokarow, a prominent Worldwide Church of God minister and administrator back in the seventies, presents his distilled wisdom and insight on the Almighty's purposes... If you should get confused, the author is there to provide lengthy and detailed clues, pitched at the level of a retarded 13 year old. Here's Mokarow on the subject of God's clothes.

"What type of clothing do you think God wears? God does not run around as today's movie bare-chested heroes with oily, disgusting, sweaty skin. God appears to be very modest. He is so modest that He's clothed down to His feet." (p.67)

And God's hairstyle? "You mean God has curly or wavy hair? When one looks at a herd of sheep and notices their hair, it's wavy isn't it? God's hair possibly could be curly or wavy. The Scriptures confirm it. God just naturally has His hair looking like wool." (p.67) These examples should be sufficient to indicate whether or not the book deserves to be taken seriously...

After thirty years in the wilderness he returns to offer his analysis of the plan of God... but all he seems to have come up with is a proof text puzzle that regards the Bible as some sort of children's parlor game.

Those interested can order a copy of either God's Puzzle Solved or God's Work via the website. God's Puzzle Solved can also be read online.



Remembering Wisconsin: The LCG shootings in Wisconsin earlier this year gave all past and present Church of God members pause for reflection. Ambassador alumni Gillian Lynn Katz has expressed her thoughts in the form of a poem which we're delighted to publish today: No Crosses, Please. The title is a reference is to the opposition shown by some sect members to the display of crosses by local well-wishers in tribute to those slain by Terry Ratzmann. Born in South Africa, Gillian attended AC Pasadena from 1974-76. 

David Sielaff - "God is responsible": The September 13 commentary on the ASK website (promoting the work of the late Ernest L. Martin) squarely places blame for the Katrina tragedy on God's shoulders. David Sielaff writes:

God is responsible. If He is not, then who is? Blind chance? Satan? Human action? ... Remember always that God is ultimately responsible for all evil that occurs... God was responsible for the Hurricane. God creates evil (Isaiah 45:6–8). If you do not like this fact, take it up with God... Was Satan Responsible? Perhaps, but if he was it was as God’s agent, and therefore God is still responsible. Satan dislikes disorder, chaos, and public sin in the nations he controls. And he controls the United States through the Babylonian system of religion and government just as he controls all nations of the world... it is not the responsibility of Christians to assist non-Christians unless you have some other relationship to them. The household of God must come first in your minds if not your actions (Ephesians 2:18–22)...

This simplistic logic might be expected from Pack, but ASK positions itself as a more considered, theologically informed alternative to traditional COGs. Apparently the reputation is undeserved.



Blog roundup: There are a few specialist COG blogs which we link to regularly, two of which are mentioned in today's Buzz. But there are countless other blogs in cyberspace maintained by people with a COG connection. Here are 5 recent entries of interest.

(1) Requiem for my aunt. Being a WCG member also meant stress for those in our families who remained outside "the Truth". A guy called Jeff tells a personal story from the perspective of a non-member. 

(2) Movie/rain/rant. The gay son of a UCG minister lays it on the line. 

(3) The Church in my head (Part 1): A nicely written reminisce about the WCG that once was, seen through the eyes of a teen in the 70s. 

(4) Hatred, Anger & Stupidity. Another kid who grew up in the WCG, this writer is still working through the negativity as an adult.

(5) Thank you everyone... Could this be the Joseph III? The Joe III who travels with his dad and meets and greets sect wannabes worldwide? Doesn't he have an interesting vocabulary. 



Asinine harangue: Guy Swenson is too kind. Pack's self-righteous, abusive, and asinine harangue is a parody of Christianity. This impostor is no pastor. He may be tall but his heart's so small. He's pusillanimous even though he's venomous. It's time this compassionless and nonsensical bully was sent packing!


Horrified: I was horrified to read what Dave Pack is saying about Hurricane Katrina. I have to wonder which god he is serving. Abraham was a righteous man, beloved of God, and went before Him and begged for mercy for Sodom and Gomorrah. He pleaded that if only ten righteous people could be found that Sodom and Gomorrah would be spared. God agreed. If only some of the vengeful and unmerciful men found sheltering within the confines of the Body of Christ had even a fraction of understanding of the way God works.

Rosemary Morton

The Not-so-good Samaritan: Dave's "Unspeakable Doctrine," 9/13/05, is just aping his idol Herbert W. Armstrong who said that giving to charity is just putting band-aids on the world. It reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan when the self-righteous priest said to the man who needed help that he has to go and do God's work so "screw you!" (to paraphrase). It's a good thing that Christ returned in 1975 like old Herbie prophesied...oh...wait, that never happened so I guess Dave Pack's idol is a false prophet too.


Packing Katrina: Wow! Dave’s letter to the splinters really packed a punch and woke me up! I must admit I was worried about the COGs who wanted to play it safe and set up a relief fund after their 40 days of warning New Orleans to repent. They should have learned from Jonah, just sit back and watch the destruction! I immediately turned to the story of the Stupid Samaritan in my Restored King James Bible, Luke 10:36 – 37, “And which of these was right about him that fell amongst the thieves? Yes!! The priest and the Levite! They knew the man was being punished!”

We must continue to follow the example of HWA – tithes are not for helping people, they are for Steuben Crystal and jet fuel!


Wolf Pack: Wow Davy I am sure glad it was Moses that went to the top of Mt. Sinai otherwise we would not be here now for God would have destroyed the nation of Israel and started over with Moses or should I say David Pack. After God punished not killed the Israelites for their Idolatry God forgive them because they repented. Be careful of wolves in sheep's clothing they always run in a pack.

Jim Matthews

Pack's ass problem: The spirit of the law is contrary to Davis Pack's comments in his open letter: Deut. 22:4 Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again. How much more does this pertain to fellow countrymen in a time of need? Mr. Pack needs to read 1 Cor. 9:9 and pray for understanding, wisdom, and the same spirit that Abraham had while pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah...

Eric Walter

Sinless Shreveport: I presume from David Pack's words that RCG has no congregation in New Orleans. That group must have fled to a more sinless city such as -- well, what, Shreveport? -- long before the hurricane arrived. If RCG has a congregation in New Orleans or Biloxi, I presume it is NOT helping brethren who were affected by the storm. After all, wouldn't members of his denomination REALLY be the "children of God" now -- the ones God is punishing, so we should not touch? (Or did Satan sending the hurricane, instead of God? He seems to imply both God and Satan did it, or maybe were working together.)

Has David Pack ever preached a message on the Good Samaritan? Based on this letter, I'm left to conclude he might not know it's in the Bible. Perhaps his translation instead says, "By this shall all men know you are My disciples -- if you point fingers, and yell repent a lot."

I thought "Edmund" meant "protector of wealth." After reading this letter about where to send your money, David Pack might want to swap headquarters with Gerald Flurry.

Richard Burkard

Spiritual Sociopath: Yet again, David Pack has distinguished himself as a "spiritual sociopath"! His acidic remarks concerning New Orleans indicate that Pack is a very confused individual. Apparently he has substituted the philosophies of Charles Manson for those of Jesus Christ.

Byker Bob

Fatalistically fixated on failure: David Pack is right in saying that the Katrina disaster is in some way connected to sin, as is all evil. But figuring that out is about as hard as falling off a log. What is really hard, and what Pack has yet to figure out, is how to both preach repentance from sin while still loving and ministering to the sinners. He might want to start by reading the gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount.

Pack's view that it is wrong to love and help people "of the world" is grounded in the fatalistic view that end-time events are "locked in" -- that things are inevitably bound to get worse and worse until the end. Well, if that’s the case, why preach or write anything? Why set up church corporations, broadcasts, Web sites? You may as well flee to the Cave of Safety right now.

The Bible does not say that things must inevitably get worse and worse. The purpose of prophecy is to produce repentance. It is a worst-case scenario. If Pack knows the scriptures, he knows of instances in which those who received the message of repentance actually repented and the prophesied evil did not come about. One would think that Pack, and other teachers, would be encouraged by that fact and would be studying, praying and hoping to likewise become successful preachers and examples of reconciliation, rather than to remain fatalistically fixated on failure. Is it possible the whole world could repent and be spared the horrors of the plagues of Revelation? It is entirely possible. But if it happens, it will be achieved though those who invest their talents, not those who “pack” them away in a box and bury them in the earth...

My views on Katrina, on prophecy, and anything and everything related to spirituality can be found at Church Trek. (Within the next week, by the way, I’ll have quite a bit to say about British Israelism.)

David Harrell

AW: Katrina was connected to sin? Does that go for the storm that makes up the Great Red Spot on Jupiter too?

Hard hearted: Regarding the hard-hearted responses of many COGs to Hurricane Katrina, the following quotation comes to mind:

"If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in His name, He'd never stop throwing up." -Max von Sydow, in "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986)

Keep up the good work, Gavin!

Keith Stump 

In contrast to Pack: David Pack's monstrosity leaves me speechless, not because I can't find words, but because my words aren't nice. It seemed better to send you another man's more compassionate response to the same tragedy. I hope you find the contrast refreshing.


Katrina commentary: Thank you for publishing the commentary by Sturcke on Hurricane Katrina. I found it insightful. It amazed me that some readers compared it to the misguided teachings of past WCG ministers. The connection between anthropogenic climate change, rising sea temperatures and hurricane strength is accepted as consensus by the vast majority of climate scientists. The hypothesis has been subjected to some of the most rigorous peer review in the history of science. To compare it to the religious ramblings of some poorly educated preachers is ridiculous.

Pointing out the connection between climate change and hurricane strength is not "blaming the victim" as one reader claimed. The victims here were mostly poor people who did not even own cars. They were not the ones driving SUVs long distances. Another readers said we just need "roll up our sleeves and help the victims." Yes, but if we really care for victims we should also be looking at how to prevent future tragedies like this.


Tithe flow strategies:  Thankfully I vented all my anger about CoG responses to Katrina before reading Dave Pack's open letter to the brethren of the churches of God. Guy Swenson's response is laudable and Christian, but does not deal with the fact that Dave here appears to be the only one upholding vintage Armstrongism. I have sat in services after disasters and heard Herbert Armstrong utter similar sentiments to Dave's. This is Satan's world, and there is no use putting band-aids on it. Better to keep those tithe dollars flowing to me.

I believe there are two roots of this attitude. One is the belief that we are in the end times and that this world will end soon. Many early Christians held this view, too. By the second century, after the first generation passed, and it became clear to most (thankfully) that the return of Christ was not imminent, then you start having Christians deal with questions of whether it is appropriate to serve in the military, etc. In other words, Christians begin to share in their responsibility for this world, regardless of whether it is "God's World" or not. Something similar happened to the WCG after it repudiated end-time speculation in the early nineties. It was shortly after this that it changed its stance on voting, jury duty, and service in the police and military.

The other root has little to do with theology, though, but is monetary. All organizations that depend on public contributions pay careful attention to when their contributions rise or fall. Christmas was always a bad time for the WCG, for instance, which is why HWA would often put a plug in his December Co-worker letter not to forget Christ while supposedly honoring his birth. But whenever disaster strikes, many charities note that funds they normally receive are diverted to other organizations directly related to disaster relief, such as the American Red Cross. One way to combat this is to establish special funds that piggy-back on these efforts. The fact that this is inefficient, since it means that two organizations have to take their cut for overhead, rather than one, is not as important for these organizations as it is to keep their cash flow up. It is clear that many of the CoGs have now learned this. Guy Swenson already pointed out, though, that many of these will concentrate the proceeds to the "household of faith". Why members should contribute to this if they already pay third tithe is not clear.

By the way, we should take time to savor the irony that some of those who squawked loudly when Joe Tkach Sr sent a donation out of WCG funds to the Red Cross after the San Francisco earthquake in 1989 are now following his footsteps.

Hats off to Dave Pack, though, for daring to buck the trend. Throwing all considerations of political correctness to the winds, he issues his dictum not only to his own faithful but to all of COG-dom: don't even think of diverting just one tithe dollar to the Red Cross. And I say: one more reason to do so! I look back fondly on the day that I first changed the term "tithe" in my budget book to "charity" and redirected some of the funds to the Red Cross and similar organizations. I still savor that feeling of freedom to this day. And exactly that is what Dave et al. are afraid of.

Henry Sturcke

Pride: Someone should remind Dave Pack that pride comes before a fall. This man is doing what Spanky did after the mass murder by Terry Ratzmann back in March. Capitalizing on a disaster with many deaths...


Book clarification: Someone forwarded me a few posts from your Web site regarding my forthcoming book with Simon & Schuster (April, 2006) titled The Jesus Dynasty. I did want to clarify two things. 

First, my central thesis has nothing in common with that of Baigent, Brown, et al. regarding Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their children. It seems clear to me and to most historians that Jesus neither married nor had children. Apparently he, like Paul, advocated a kind of "apocalyptic celibacy" in view of the imminence of the Kingdom of God which he surely expected to arrive within a generation and possibly in his own lifetime. Had such been the case I think the evidence would have survived, no matter what attempts were made to suppress it. There are simply no credible historical sources from the 1st six centuries of early Christianity that even hint at marriage or children in the case of Jesus. My friend and college at UNC-Chapel Hill, Bart Ehrman does a good job carefully exposing the assumptions that Brown makes. There is a short version on the "Did Jesus Marry" question in Bible Review (Spring, 2005) by Birger Pearson. I think it is excellent and right on target. We have to give Brown credit for so skillfully fictionalizing Baigent's thesis. I have never met Brown but Baigent and I worked at Qumran years ago and I really like the guy, though I have not been able to give credence to his theory on the royal line of Jesus, Priory of Zion, etc.

Second, though I helped Kathy Reichs with her latest novel Cross Bones it is a totally fictional account, though a thrilling read I thought. Kathy teaches here at UNC Charlotte, this is her 9th novel, all bestsellers in the forensic mystery genre. This one has more history and archaeology and less guts and gore, so many of her fans will be disappointed. BTW, a new TV show called "Bones" based on Kathy's real life work aired on FOX last night (Sept 13th) and will be on Tuesday nights through the new season. In the front of the book she carefully notes the "facts" so the reader can distinguish such from her story. Several reviewers, reading hastily I guess, have said her novel promotes the idea that Jesus died at Masada--which is surely one of the silliest notions one could imagine...Her main character, Tempe Brennan, even in the story, discounts that theory. Further, there is little in common between my forthcoming historical study titled The Jesus Dynasty and Kathy's novel. They are two very different products, though we can't blame the publishers (Scribners is owned by Simon & Schuster) for promoting the tie in. The Jesus Dynasty is my take on the historical Jesus after 30 years of working in the field of Christian Origins. Like Crossan, Fredriksen, Ehrman, Sanders and all my colleagues it is finally my turn to step to the plate and do my "Jesus book." Seems to be a turn of the trade in this business. It is a popular book, but intends to be a serious (though speculative) historical study...The details of the thesis I am forbidden to reveal at this time by the publisher, who wants it to make a big splash come next Easter, but most of my sources and work on early Christianity are on my University Web site (, so one could read between a lot of lines. There will be some surprises....As far as I know no one else has quite the same take on things as I do, but surely that is to be expected in our field. I will put up a few tantalizing hints along the way on the Web site for the book and there is an e-mail list one can sign up for:

James D. Tabor

P.S. The idea that Jesus did not die on the cross but survived and went East or any other direction is not one I support. Someone told me of some documentary with a title something like Did Jesus Die? and I definitely never was part of any such production. What happens to many of us who do film interviews is that we typically film for hours on end, little bits are used, and then we sign over our rights and some of this footage is sold to others, clipped, edited, and God only knows what one can end up saying. I am familiar with the idea that Jesus survived the cross and went to India...I think it is an idea without any historical foundation. I guess I need to get this documentary and find out what I am supposed to have said...It makes one not want to do ANY filming...but who has time to run all these things down...

Over the moon (1): Mr. Jewell’s article “Who Built the Moon” was a real eye-opener. According to this article, the Earth is “ringing like a bell” from the December 2004 Tsunami. Hence, the Earth must be hollow as well! Has Mr. Jewel considered that MEN MAY BE HOLLOW?

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
T. S. Eliot (1925)

I have not heard any other of the splinters reveal new truth like this, meaning that Mr. Jewell must be amongst the elect and the only place God is working in this end time. He is most definitely on to something!

AW: A touch of T. S. Elliot on AW... who said there was nothing new under the sun!

Over the moon (2): Regarding [the Jewell article]: "...any possible extra-terrestrial life-form would have to come from so far away that, even with faster-than-light travel, it would take millions of years to get to earth." At half of light speed, it would take only a decade or perhaps a few centuries to travel from nearby stars. At light speed, travel time seems instantaneous to the traveler. A trip of a thousand years seems to be just a day.

If the moon is just a shell, it does not have enough mass to account for its gravity. So it must have a gravitron at its center. But that would collapse the shell and destroy the gravitron. I could not tell who was trying to debunk what. But no one did a good job of it.

AW: Gravitron? Hey, I'm outa my depth...

Good Works: Re Comments on UCG Good Works Program 'Katrina Disaster Relief Project'. The writer confidently stated:- 'How could the total contributions ever exceed the total that can appropriately be disbursed in helping to alleviate the needs of these folks? Even if they collected millions (which they won't), they still couldn't exceed the need.'

Can funds never exceed the need? Could the recent Asian Tsunami not have enough contributed to it? The well known organization 'Medecins Sans Frontieres', based in Switzerland, doesn't agree.

From their report on the Asian Tsunami dated 8th April 2005: One week after the disaster MSF decided to stop accepting earmarked donations for tsunami-related relief operations… However, spontaneous gifts continued to arrive topping at approximately 100 M€ three months after the disaster… The amount of donations greatly surpasses our financial requirements for emergency medical relief in the Tsunami-affected regions.

100 million Euros were contributed, but they only budgeted 25 million euros. The other 75 million euros was given specifically for this purpose - what can they do? MSF aims to derestrict 75% of the funds received. As MSF will not use earmarked tsunami donations for any other purpose without the consent of the donor, MSF offices worldwide have started to contact donors asking their consent to use gifts in other emergencies or forgotten crises...

Surely the clause which the writer objects to is included by UCG to avoid a situation like MSF experienced. Note that it says the money would then be used to help fund other Good Works Program projects that are then active. And these projects are clearly shown on the website - not some flight of fancy which seemed to have overcome the writer's comments!

Brian Crook

Unqualified? As a member of a UCG congregation, I was shocked and dismayed to discover (September 8 mailbag) that I may be attending a church pastored by an "unqualified buffoon". We all know that when seeking a professional, we should discern whether the professional is qualified, be it be a doctor, lawyer, accountant or indeed a pastor. Therefore, I prevail upon "xbeliever" to reach into his unlimited intellect and explain to me how I may determine whether the church I attend is pastored by an "unqualified buffoon" or a "qualified buffoon". Since my eternal life may depend on it, I need to know the difference as I definitely draw the line at being instructed by an "unqualified buffoon".

Merging LCG with United? I read your site every day and have not read anything about the following. I was told by a minister (not Jonathan McNair) in LCG that they are working on bringing the 2 groups together as one... This minister is known for gossiping and does not always have the facts correct. He has told this to a few people in both groups. What did you think about the current letter from Rod Meredith dated 8-22? In particular the 11th paragraph? Winning team? Living Jesus Christ is truly working today! Align yourself with the true people of God who will be taken to the Place of Safety. Paragraph 12: the true Church of God. I personally believe the Church is all those who have God's Holy Spirit and I think congregationally not in a hierarchically.

Why does Rod keep talking about the Place of Safety as if it is some kind of carrot on a stick? Our minds should be focused on getting into the Kingdom of God and being right with Him, if not, the PoS won't matter. Anyone who is Philadelphian is so humble he doesn't know he is Philadelphian, it is the Laodicean who believes he is ok and has it made. Rod limits God's ability to work His work through any number of people. The New Testament church was congregational. Ministers were teachers not lords over the brethren. Brethren thought for themselves, conducted services in their homes and fellowshipped without ministers present.

LCG is set up similarly to the Catholic church... Rod is the pope, the board of elders are the cardinals, the ministers are the priests, no nuns. You will be kicked out if you disagree with them on enough points ... You must have ministers (priests) over you. You can not get together and have a bible study without a minister present to guide the thought processes. Can't think on your own. You have to think the same way as the group no matter what the bible says, even if it clearly contradicts what is being taught.

I used to attend services with LCG. I know how it works. The shooting in WI was an eye-opener. Jonathan McNair said Rod didn't go to WI to comfort the brethren the moment it happened was because LCG was afraid of lawsuits and he spoke about the lawsuit brought against WCG by Raymond McNair's ex-wife... Did you Jonathan's sister dated the shooter once? She told Jonathan way back then that the man wasn't right... No one thought maybe he needs some psychological help? Wow. Now that is negligence on the part of the church, wouldn't you think?

Jonathan said LCG does not teach they are the only Church of God, obviously he and Uncle Rod are not on the same page or of like mind. Uh-oh.

It was announced in UCG this week that a group of brethren in VT have been told by Paul (can't make a decision or comment without checking with the committee) Suckling that they can not meet on Sabbath without a minister, and by the way there aren't enough ministers to visit with them. They have to drive 3 hrs. to get to services in MA for Trumpets. With the price of gas and these people aren't very young, what is UCG thinking? Why can't they meet on their own, together? ...

On another note. The money the board of GCG borrowed from the brethren, couldn't LCG spare some of the $9m to pay off the loans? Rod is the one who asked (personally or through a representative) the people for the money to continue to be on TV and get the work of Rod out to the sheople of the world... Are there people in UCG who Rod owes $$ to? I know of one in particular, some $30k. How is that going to work? Maybe those in UCG will be paid quietly.

AW: Some intriguing questions. This letter has been edited for length.

And Katrina again: In spite of and despite most of the CoG self appointed guru's dire warnings, prediction predilections, blah, blah, blah... physics is again proved - water does run downhill, and if you build your nest in a valley or a bowl, when it rains, you will get flooded.

I've read much about the sins of many (and yes there are aplenty, and dare I say even by the self-appointed). Yes there is a lot of crime (and dare I say even by the self appointed). Yes there is much stupidity (and dare I say much by the self-appointed). But you know, I have never read anywhere where the abusive, reclusive, thieving, conniving, all-righteous self-righteous, self-appointed gurus of self-proclaimed CoG's, ever, and I mean, ever, pointed their finger at themselves, and predicted dire consequences at themselves, for the mistreatment, and destruction of people's reputations, lives, finances and families. Yet they so readily, rapidly, and gleefully, point at the sinners "out there". Seems the words of one called Christ, who extolled the virtues of a "hated" Samaritan's good work on a total stranger, were just that, weren't they. Oh and how well the self-appointed of the self-proclaimed like to quote Him.

Gimmee a break. At least the sanest approach to Katrina's disaster was UCG's... in a nutshell, if you want to help, just do it.

John Karagiannidis

Hating 'Queers' (1): I wanted to email both Ambassador Watch and The Painful Truth and thank you for letting the public know about John B's article "Do You Hate 'Queers'?" As a recent WCG pastor and a life-long WCG-er, I can say that John B really hit the nail on the head with his words. Even now, in the "kinder, gentler" WCG, a lot of lip service is paid to loving gays while hating their behavior without much loving action.

I can still remember one of the first openly gay members who came to me for counseling, just a few years ago, whose questions led me to think, as John B encourages, how would I feel if my religious organization was telling me "You have to become something you are not, become gay, to be a Christian. You can't ever have a woman as a life companion, even though it is your heart's desire. Your love is unnatural and sick," when I knew I had no control over who I fall in love with or the fact I am attracted exclusively to women. I remember how this man was treated by the church members around him. Even though he was living a celibate life -- a difficult life to live when you have as much love to offer as this man does, and have dreams of having a companion in life, something we in WCG tended to look down on Catholics and others for asking of straight ministers, let alone regular members -- the church membership treated him like a pariah. The senior pastor (at the time I was a pastoral assistant, then an elder & assistant pastor) never really talked to him, obviously avoiding him. He never shook his hand as far as either my wife or I could remember. So he had to suffer loneliness and exclusion, both because the church said he could not have a loving companion, because most of his neighbors were GLBT people and viewed by the church as a "temptation", and because the church refused to reach out in love to him, even while preaching "love the sinner, hate the behavior". Love that looks so similar to hatred does not deserve the name "love" at all. Attempting to counsel this man and others like him that God led down my path is a big part of what led me to reconsider the way I treated gay and lesbian people in my ministry, as well as other sexual minorities. It shows a lot of courage in the polarized environment in religious and political circles on this issue to see other individuals reaching out to victims of spiritual abuse, encouraging them to reconsider this issue. The sad thing is that so many who claim to follow the way of Jesus are the greatest proponents of hate against minorities like gays, lesbians, trans-sexuals, and women. Yet when examine the core of Jesus' life and message, it was one of loving acceptance of all God's children, only pouring out harsh rhetoric at the theologians of exclusion. Too many Christians remember Jesus' reputation was tarnished by the company he kept.

Where would Jesus be in the debate of today? Would he be the one judging and condemning gay & lesbian people as "sinners" without getting to really understand them & their unique struggles? Or, would Jesus be reaching out to them, though his reputation be tarnished, to show them love, respect, & support? I know not all of your writers are people of faith and do not know if John B is, but I believe that, by encouraging this attitude of openness and respect, he is more clearly joining Jesus in His way of loving acceptance of all people than those who are quick to put down others who are different, without getting to know them as fellow brothers & sisters in the family of our great God.

Micah Royal
Safe Haven Community Church

Hating 'Queers' (2): [Quote]: "Rod asked a waitress about it and she told him, "Didn't you know that this weekend is the Closet Queen festival?" Rod, again according to him, told the waitress: "OF COURSE NOT! IF WE HAD KNOWN THAT, WE WOULDN'T HAVE STAYED HERE!""

Well, of course he wouldn't have stayed there and neither would I or any other Christian- why would you put that attitude down? Don't you remember Leviticus20:13 ? It's still there and God has not changed- He is the same- it's modern "enlightened mankind" that has changed and now condones a very disgusting practice- an abomination as God calls it and I agree! 

Suzy Johnson

AW: For the record, the quote was from John B's article over at the Painful Truth.

Harold - meet Nev: Harold Reiman had two cars with Signet tires? That's nothing! Besides, he has foul language on his website. I can't imagine Elijah talking like that. I nominate the website of another Elijah, Neville Victor Dunlevy Stevens, hater of Moslems, for your kook/quack links. Neville was born in 1933 - not coincidentally the same year that HWA went on radio. At the end of this period of seventy years, which began in 1933, and which was given by God for the re-establishing of truth and to prepare a people, God will again identify the one who will be more than a prophet. As in the days of Moses, this man will be a Levite from God's own Tribe. He too, will prepare a people for the task that God has set before them.



Let 'em die! If you believe disasters like Katrina are God's way of "getting our attention", why would you defy the judgment of God by attempting to undo his act of punishment through acts of mercy?

Not a nice question, and even the most literal of Armstrong splinter groups baulks at that kind of perverse logic.

Except for David C. Pack's personal designer-cult, the Restored Church of God.

Give Dave credit where it's due, he doesn't allow decency, humanity or compassion to get in the way of his virulent hate-gospel. Think we're exaggerating? Here's part of Dave's "vital" message in an "Open Letter to the Brethren in the Splinters". is not the purpose of God’s true Church and Work to “repair” or “fix” a world cut off from God—a world He is punishing. His people are supposed to recognize—and deeply understand!—that what is happening here is that a loving God is punishing His disobedient children. God’s people should always think of it this way. Like any parent chastising his child, God does not want interference with the punishment of His children. More than any others, true Christians should understand this! God’s people must not fight Him. What human parent, when he is disciplining his child, wants a neighbor interrupting by trying to comfort the child in the middle of the process, thus muting—directly countering, in effect—at least some of the punishment? Regarding the world, with its affairs, difficulties and disasters, Christ taught, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22). The Church once understood this meant let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead! Further, Christ is also saying, “Do not interfere with any so-called ‘love,’ when punishment is the kind of love necessary here.”

The job of God’s Church is to warn about and explain why the punishment!

In addition, recognize that God does not want what are His tithes and offerings, which are designated solely for preaching the gospel, for warning modern Israel and for feeding the flock, to be spent directly FIGHTING HIS PURPOSE.



Tkach introduces process for name change - blink and you'll miss it: Members and friends of the Worldwide Church of God can breathe a small sigh of relief - or can they? There will be a very brief process of consultation (highly controlled and finishing at the end of this month) before a new name is determined. Being the hierarchical structure that it is, the process is firmly under the control of leadership, and the final determination will be by an appointed "Name Search Committee". Of course, there is no process for the general membership to ratify any decision. The concept of the priesthood of all believers is again willfully ignored by sect leaders. There are no representative structures available to members at any stage of the process. 

From: Joseph Tkach 
Process for Denominational Name Change 

As mentioned in my August 17, 2005, Weekly Update, we are beginning the process of selecting a new name for our denomination. (See update for more details and explanation.) The first step will be for church pastors to forward suggested names to their district superintendent. Names should be short (no more than four words), clear and descriptive of our church; they should be names not already being used by other churches. A quick Internet search can show you whether a name is already in use. Let members know you will pass on their suggestions to your district superintendent. Please have your suggestions to your DS by October 1.

District Superintendents will then forward all suggestions to Paul Kroll in Pasadena. His e-mail address is Paul will organize these suggested names and give them to the Name Search Committee, who will review them and select from them what they determine to be the most fitting names to submit to the Council of Elders, who will make a final selection by November 1. I will announce the new name in the Weekly Update and in a member letter. The Name Search Committee will be appointed by the Council of Elders next week.

In some ways, selecting an appropriate name will be the easy part. The hard part will be the laborious process of actually making the change on the myriad of legal documents and registrations, as well as with all our accounts and business contacts, etc.

However, I believe that all the work will be well worth the fresh sense of purpose and identity that a new name will help bring us. Please join me in praying for God’s blessing in our process and final selection.

Port Austin feud: The messy situation with two opposing camps at Port Austin edges slowly toward resolution with legal actions proceeding. We've been told that this week a judge determined that the three expelled trustees retain property rights, probably not an outcome Norman Edwards wanted. This update from a known source was forwarded to AW.

The court placed Mr. Edwards under oath and questioned him for more than an hour. While doing so, the court, Judge Kraus, informed Mr. Edwards that [there] were apparently fraudulent documents filed; that the fraudulent documents were the ones that Mr. Edwards had authored, and offered into evidence. The judge asked for any document by which the other three men, Williams, Drieman and Frankford, had signed away their property rights. Of course, no such document exists. Therefore, the documents upon which Mr. Edwards presently occupies the property are [potentially] fraudulent. Mr. Edwards will lose control of the property and be removed from it as other lawsuits are filed and resolved... The basis for what the court found is that a trust had to exist on April 28, 2004, or the document that Edwards that authored and caused to be filed was [deemed] fraudulent... It appears that the State of Michigan will prosecute for filing a fraudulent document, because Liber 1048, page 223 and Liber 1073, page 62 are both [potentially] fraudulent documents or the second is. Edwards will have to prove that the first document (1048) is true or he will face charges for fraud. And if he proves the first document is true, then the second document is automatically a fraudulent vehicle...

Nor was Edwards happy with a September 4 item on AW:

We are purchasing the property from ELBI by a land contract. For practical purposes, we own it, unless we stop paying. The man currently doing time in a federal prison [AW note - Arthur Hawkins] was convicted for wire fraud -- he did not commit the fraudulent transactions, but they claimed he knew about it. The judge sentenced him for crimes for which he was never tried. A recent Supreme Court decision will cause many cases such as his to be re-tried and/or thrown out completely. This man has already served the maximum sentence for the crime for which he was tried. Until the crowded court system can address his case, he remains in prison. I hope most realize that "the news" about Port Austin, comes from Homer Kizer, a professional fiction writer, who believes it is his duty to write fiction about us. Having written many fiction books, he is a master of taking a few facts and filling in with many plausible but fictitious details.

Which, however, just seems to corroborate our item, once you factor out the special pleading. Meanwhile a spokesperson for the opposition camp reports that she was banned from posting on the Likeminds forum earlier this week, and Norm has announced his intention to reboot Servants' News. The last issue appeared over two years ago.

COGs in the UK: A British website provides a comprehensive list of Churches of God and Feast sites in the United Kingdom, with web and email links. Articles on the website are reproduced from a variety of sources - LCG, UCG, John Jewell's "What Next?" splinter and others.

For a taste of "something completely different" (Monty Python music please) you may wish to try Jewell's remarkable article entitled "Who built the moon?" You know, that hollow structure that floats in the night sky...

Painful question on Painful Truth: Only a few days ago Micah Royal's article (Bible Abuse) appeared on AW. Now, dealing with similar themes but coming from a different perspective, there's a new article across on the Painful Truth that asks the question: What would you do if your son or daughter sat down one day and said, "I'm gay"?

Rod Meredith in particular was completely polarized on the subject. His landmark article in a 1961 Plain Truth magazine was entitled "The Shocking Truth About Queer Men!" Rod once came to my area to give a sermon and spent the night in a local hotel. The next morning, he told us, he and his wife noticed a "whole lot of queers" parading around the hotel and the restaurant. Rod asked a waitress about it and she told him, "Didn't you know that this weekend is the Closet Queen festival?" Rod, again according to him, told the waitress: "OF COURSE NOT! IF WE HAD KNOWN THAT, WE WOULDN'T HAVE STAYED HERE!"


08 September

IGF: Isn't IGF also the acronym for Insulin Growth Factor? Would that make this the Diabetic Church of God?

Bill F

Joe's inspirational leadership: It is interesting when people begin disliking Joe Jr. after only a brief time of getting to know him. This is an example of why. This was one that was done very publicly, in an all-employee meeting on February 7, 1996, only a few months after his father died. The exact quotation, word for word was:

The income has been holding. The income has been good. But we want to have a plan in hand in case we have to make a cutback. So we looked at having a 10% cutback plan, and a 20% cutback plan. And Bernie Schnippert sent a memo to all the managers to have such a plan in hand. That is just good management and good stewardship to have such a plan. But sadly, that memo went out and rumors generated that we are laying off some people again, or we are cutting back right now. No, we are just planning. We want to have the plan in hand if it is needed.

Here’s the kicker--less than a week later, the budgets across the board were actually cut by 20%--thereby laying off dozens of the employees who were at the meeting. The joke always was that Joe would lie even when it was easier to tell the truth.

(Name provided)

In search of... Is Gary Prather still around? Does anyone know where Ray Howard is, he was the chorale director in Big Sandy in the 70s. Thanks.

Joni Anderson

Da Vinci Code: First just a note to let you know that I regularly enjoy looking into the AW site. It is always interesting and I appreciate the many sides presented on the selected topics.

It is a coincidence that I am just now reading an exceptional book on the topic of Dan Brown's book regarding The Da Vinci Code. I find it very informative as well as interesting. It is, Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code by Bart D. Ehrman, which I ordered from Here is a quote from inside the back of the book cover. 

"He chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus, he has appeared on A&E, the History Channel, CNN, and other television and radio shows. He has taped several highly popular lecture series for the "Teaching Company" and is the author of Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (OUP, 1999) Lost Christianities (OUP, 2004) and Lost Scriptures (OUP, 2004)."

I've also read the aforementioned books, which include some of most helpful research on that important early period dealing with the time of Christ and his followers. I am sure that you would enjoy reading this yourself and might even wish to include the information for your AW readers. Here is one last quote from inside the front cover.

"As historian Bart D. Ehrman shows in this informative and witty book, The Da Vinci Code is filled with numerous historical mistakes. Did the ancient church engage in a cover-up to make the man Jesus into a divine figure? Was Jesus Christ married to Mary Magdalene? Did the Church suppress Gospels that told the secret of their marriage? Bart Ehrman thoroughly debunks all of these claims. But the book is not merely a laundry list of Brown's misreading of history. Throughout, Ehrman offers a wealth of fascinating background information - all historically accurate - on early Christianity. He describes, for instance the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which are not Christian in content, contrary to The Da Vinci Code); outlines in simple terms how scholars of early Christianity determine which sources are most reliable; and explores the many other Gospels that have been found in the last half century. Ehrman separates fact from fiction, the historical realities from the flights of literary fantasy. Readers of The Da Vinci Code who would like to know the truth about the beginnings of Christianity and the life of Jesus will find this book riveting." 

Many thanks for the continuous information and updates that you do provide.


AW: I've read Ehrman's Truth and Fiction and agree, it's an eye opener. In fact, there's a brief review from May this year elsewhere on AW. Ehrman's Lost Christianities is also on my shelf - and it's also a book I'd heartily recommend! 

Good Works Program: While it is commendable that UCGia is assisting hurricane victims, shouldn’t we be wary of their requested disclaimer for contributions: "This contribution is for use by the Good Works Program in funding the "Katrina Disaster Relief Project." In the event that at some point the total contributions to this project exceed the total that can appropriately be disbursed in helping to alleviate these needs, the director of the Good Works Program is authorized to use any of the excess, including this donation, to help fund other Good Works Program projects that are then active."

How could the total contributions ever exceed the total that can be appropriately be disbursed in helping to alleviate the needs of these folks? Even if they collected millions (which they won't), they still couldn't exceed the need. Does this mean that the Director of the program gets to say when he feels like it, “Enough is enough”? Can he then say, “I decree that this money is to be deposited into the general UCGaia coffers and used for - say - salaries for high-ranking ministers? Is this similar to the WCG, under the rule of the Armstrongs, using 3rd tithe money for jet fuel so HWA could go gallivanting off to visit third-world dictators and GTA could go fly off for a weekend of gambling in Tahoe? Also, wouldn't such a move be similar to that international charity that collected millions for 9-11 victims and then put much of that money into the bank where it is now earning interest for that organization?

And if the answer is to all of the above is “yes,” wouldn’t donors be better off giving to organizations which guarantee that all money designated for hurricane victims will be used totally for those people and not for things like “administrative costs”?  

Just asking. I would like to know and hopefully UCGia will clarify.

Hilarious: Did you notice  has a “Help us name the development” request & button? Maybe you could have one of your hilarious competitions?

Jonathan Higbed

AW: By all means email the developer, but I think we'll give the "hilarious competitions" a rest for the moment.

Blog entry: Hi Gavin, I did a recent article in my blog. I thought you might be interested.

Felix Taylor 

Jesus Dynasty: Dr. Tabor's idea is interesting, even if it has independently occurred to many others, such as Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln of Holy Blood Holy Grail infamy, from whom Dan Brown got his idea for The Da Vinci Code. They claimed "the Jesus Dynasty" were descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, while Tabor is looking to Jesus' male kin -- but they agree that Jesus intended to found a political dynasty, that St. James the Lord's Brother represented that original version of Christianity, and that St. Paul distorted Christ's message. Seems rather like Eisenman's treatment of St. James. I also know of an individual named David Hughes (no connection to the WCG or its splinters that I'm aware of), who has proposed that most of the first bishops of Jerusalem and Rome were close relatives of Jesus, members of the "desposyni" as Africanus called them. Hughes presents the early Church as being ruled by a Jewish-Christian "caliphate," first in Jerusalem and afterwards in Rome. He's even constructed a hypothetical pedigree chart of the Jewish-Christian "caliphs," which is, so far as I can tell, founded almost entirely upon his own imagination as opposed to information found in actual historical records. I don't think Dr. Tabor has ever heard of Hughes and his ideas, though -- as I said, different people have arrived at similar ideas independently.

Now, my preliminary response to Dr. Tabor's hypothesis is that in essence it doesn't seem too different from the Da Vinci Code conspiracy theory, but one may at least hope that Dr. Tabor will refrain from speculations about who Jesus' royal consort may have been, and I trust he'll shun references to the Merovingians and the Prieur de Sion. ;-)

Jared Olar

AW: It'd have been disappointing if Tabor was going down that path, but he's too good a scholar for that, and as you probably noticed in the following update, he seems to be doing something quite different.

Katrina commentary (1): Henry Sturcke's commentary on Hurricane Katrina (9/3/05) is the same self-righteous refuse I've heard from the ministers in WCG for the 28 years I stupidly stayed there. That's right, blame the victim. Yes man has polluted the planet in making the life Sturcke's god gave us less burdensome and in trying to make New Orleans a better place to live they built a faulty levee. The Bible says the poor will always be with us yet more people today live well than ever in history because of MAN'S advances. The smug, arrogant attitude that's coming from the churches about Katrina confirms that the leaders of Armstrong's cults and their ministers are unqualified buffoons. Anyone who stays with WCG or it's many cult spawns after this episode shows that they have bad judgment. The contempt that I have for the current "ministers" in WCG, LCG, PCG, et. al., is at an all time high.


Katrina commentary (2): Mr. Sturcke is only spewing the poisonous bile put forth by the left-wing, anti-conservative, Bush-hating communist-loving American media, and I and everyone I know reject it out of hand, and am sick to death of hearing it.

Randy Karnes

Katrina commentary (3): So the Armstrongists want us to believe that Hurricane Katrina is punishment sent from God for our national sins, while Henry Sturcke wants us to believe that the U.S. President is to blame for causing the hurricane and failing to wave a magic federal wand to make the devastation all go away. My view is that when disasters strike, we should just quit our bitchin' and roll up our sleeves and help the victims. Time and again the Armstrongist sects have demonstrated their total lack of skill at interpreting prophecy and analyzing world events -- they should stop doing what they're no good at. I would offer Mr. Sturcke the same advice when it comes to his political and geoscientific analysis -- he's a preacher, not a policy analyst, and he should stick to what he's good at. His approach to politics and the weather reminds me of the ancient pagan Swedes, who used to sacrifice their kings to the gods whenever they had bad harvests or famines. I would also ask him if he really thinks the 750,000 active-duty troops in the Army, Reserve and National Guard who are currently stateside (260,000 are currently overseas in various countries, 103,000 of them in Iraq) are not enough to deal with the aftermath of Katrina.

Jared Olar

Katrina commentary (4): I think you were brave - and perhaps foolhardy - running Henry's perceptive comments of Hurricane Katrina. Lord only knows the venomous response it'll bring down from those good people who live in willful denial about the real world.





More on The Jesus Dynasty: From the Charlotte Observer:

James Tabor, chairman of the religious studies department at UNC Charlotte, has signed with publisher Simon & Schuster for a book to be called "The Jesus Dynasty."

"For most of us who work in the field of Christian origins, there comes a time when we write our Jesus book," Tabor said. "I'm 59, and I've thought about this (subject) for 30 years. He and the publisher hope to capitalize on the interest in early Christianity sparked by Dan Brown's best-selling thriller "The Da Vinci Code."

"I'm going for the Dan Brown audience," Tabor said. "I hope to touch that audience with something I think will be more responsible and accurate." Tabor's nonfiction work, due out in April 2006, does not support Brown's suggestion that Jesus married and had children.

But why wait till next year? The Tabor thesis - whatever it might be - seems to have been built into a work of fiction by Kathy Reichs called Cross Bones: "a mystery revolving around a first-century tomb that may contain the remains of the family of Jesus Christ" (Publishers Weekly). According to Booklist "we get a fairly complicated lesson in biblical history, some radical theory to ponder, and the itch to read real-life religion professor James Tabor's upcoming book about Masada and ancient bones, The Jesus Dynasty, to which Reichs refers in an afterword." According to another reviewer "Tabor had done research on looted tombs as well as archaeological evidence from earlier digs. He offered to make his findings available to Reichs... the scholarship involved in this junket adds immense interest to the story."



Tabor's latest project: There's little doubt that James Tabor is a brilliant guy. There really aren't too many genuine scholars with a WCG background who are recognized as leaders in their field. Narrow that field down to religious studies and the nominees drop away to almost nothing. Lester Grabbe is still out there (University of Hull, UK), and then there's Dr. Tabor (Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

Tabor's upcoming project is something called The Jesus Dynasty. You'll have to hang around till April next year to see the final result, but there's a sneak preview online.

Jesus_DynastyNot since The Gnostic Gospels has there been a book about early Christianity that is certain to be as controversial and important as The Jesus Dynasty.

Tabor argues, based on intriguing new evidence, that Jesus understood himself as a descendant of the royal house of David, someone who could be both a kingly leader of the Jews and a spiritual Messiah. Jesus, says Tabor, attempted to establish a messianic dynasty, leadership of which passed first to his brother James (“the Just”) and then after James’s death to their younger brother, Simon, and subsequently to close family members. This dynasty was to be an apocalyptic, messianic movement that would bring about the political, social, and spiritual redemption of the nation of Israel. His message was radically altered when Paul took it out into the Roman Empire and preached to the gentiles, splitting from James and those who remained faithful to the original dynasty in Jerusalem.

Tabor’s research reveals a striking “alternative” version of Christianity that contrasts sharply with the letters of Paul and the theologically motivated versions of the canonical Gospels. Although based on solid new textual and archeological evidence, The Jesus Dynasty is popularly written. This book, which has already been sold in all the major European languages, promises to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.

Sounds intriguing. But whatever happened to the Original Bible Project? According to an August 17 newsletter the Transparent English Bible may finally see the light of day (after a 16 year gestation) in 2007. (Note: the above link displays correctly in Internet Explorer, but not Firefox).

Hypocrisy, Bret Miller, domain banditry and who's really in charge: Bret Miller is WCG's webmaster. From what we've heard he's a decent bloke. We'd have thought, though, that after the self righteous posturing and defensive mumbo jumbo that came out of Pasadena over the disclosure of the GIF name he'd be too busy (and astute) to continue the double-standard policy of "domain piracy". It seems we were wrong. This posting from JLF: 

On August 23, Ambassador Watch wrote: "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"?".

However, and disappointingly, the ones setting the example of "domain bandits" are the retired evangelist's own church leadership.

The "New" Worldwide Church of God strikes ... again.

"Domain ID:D89960267-LROR
Created On:04-Sep-2002 21:00:17 UTC
Last Updated On:05-Sep-2005 01:56:06 UTC
Expiration Date:04-Sep-2006 21:00:50 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Go Daddy Software, Inc. (R91-LROR)
Registrant ID:GODA-01477700
Registrant Name:Bret Miller
Registrant Organization:Worldwide Church of God
Registrant Street1:300 West Green Street
Registrant City:Pasadena

Registrant State/Province:California
Registrant Postal Code:91123
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.6263046000
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:+1.6263560493

The domains .net and .com are also registered by the Worldwide Church of God. Bret or his supervisor have been busy this morning.

The reason I mention his supervisor is that on a WCG related Yahoo site a member of that forum on August 22 reported that they had contacted Bret Miller. Bret said he didn't actually register the names...(hey maybe there are more out there). Bret said his boss did. Whoever that may be. What a way to run a "reformation". :-)

Actually Bret, AW - being a proud Kiwi site - is quite happy to continue with the domain. We're more worried about this nameless but ethically un-enhanced "boss" of yours running loose.



Norm sees an opportunity:

The Port Austin Bible Campus is offering medium-term accommodations to brethren displaced by Hurricane Katrina... PABC expects members to help out with the various ministry tasks as they are able... People who are likely to be able to return to their homes or occupation in a month or so are probably too far away for PABC to efficiently help them... While PABC would like to help all people at this time of struggle, we are not able to accept a significant number of people who are unbelievers or who would oppose our understanding of Christianity.

Maybe Norm could have 'em weed that baseball pitch.

Jim of the Jungle: The following item appeared on Douglas Becker's news board.

Most of you don't know who Wade Cox really is, haven't heard what the Christian Churches of God is all about and have no idea who James Dailley is. I'm here to fix that... James Dailley is the Deputy Coordinator General of the Christian Churches of God under the thumb of Wade Cox, the Coordinator General... some of you might be interested that our illustrious Mr. Dailley has prominence not only for being the... official in charge of making certain men wear ties and jackets and the women wear dresses at all times at the Feast. He is also running an African Game Farm in Canada. In the past, it has been used as a very pleasant feast site for the Christian Churches of God where they do their meetin' and eatin' -and little else for eight days. Break out the four versions of the Bible, the Strong's Concordance and two Bible Dictionary/Helps to study the meanings of Eloha, Elohim, Adonai and discuss how Satan will be converted back to a son of God to be Elohim again as the Brother of Christ in the Millennium...

And when the Coxites do gather to study all about Brother Satan, they can do so around one very impressive table. Check out Jim's whopper, created by (and yup, he did tell the makers it was for "a Bible Study group"). 

What's Joe Thinking?

Here are the captions readers provided for Joe's wistful conference photograph.

I know when I was a kid - it made a really cool noise. Want to hear it again?

Is this really the best offering you can make?! Dig a little deeper, I need a fancy new car.

Is this how you do the chicken dance?

Tell me honestly. Am I a candidate for sainthood or not?

Those pathetic little critics at sites like AW can whine and pout all they want... I'm laughing all the way to the bank in Glendora!

If I can get rid of a church I can certainly get rid of a shirt and tie.

This'd actually be quite a decent church organization if it wasn't for all the other clowns in this room.

Bad news: Can't seem to keep my story straight. Good news: Antiperspirant seems to be working.

Ah, Bank of Switzerland!

Where else could the son of a Russian peasant wind up with Ten Million Bucks ? I LOVE THIS COUNTRY !

If I change the name, hmmmm?....WCG exists no more and the cash is all mine......YEAH!!!

What do you mean I don't have pecs like Arnie?

Oh boy, more stupid questions from the church members, don't they ever give up!

What the heck, one more little lie wont hurt anyone will it?

They still don't get it!... I own and run things around here... check mate!... mates :-)

Let's see, what can I screw up next?



UCG fudges on disaster: Despite an initial response that avoided the usual "wrath of God" rhetoric, a more recent update from UCG (eNews Sept. 2) on Hurricane Katrina has backpedaled. The anonymous offering states: For the present, prepare your life to feel the impact of further unseasonable, catastrophic weather, caused both by man and by the hand of God.

COG7 has released a statement on the emergency situation and its response, and Joe Jr.'s latest update contains this information:

A Hurricane Relief Fund will be immediately established here in Pasadena to help with costs of emergency WCG member needs, including the costs of such items as food, water, clothing, temporary housing as well as temporary local pastoral salary expenses and other emergency local church expenses. The fund will be coordinated by District Superintendent Robert Persky, along with local Louisiana and Mississippi pastors Mike Horchak, Anthony Rice, and John Novick.

Commentary: Henry Sturcke

Someone who studies the Old Testament as closely as the leaders of the various COGs do should know that one of the great principles to be found there is that of cause and effect. Oddly, this knowledge seems to escape them whenever it comes time to pronounce on the latest catastrophe, leaving them with nothing better to say than that God has done this to us because of various sins, mostly sexual.

This is so patently illogical that it is rightly rejected by most, but it diverts attention from the question of whether there is a connection between some catastrophes and national sins. I believe there is a case to be made when it comes to Hurricane Katrina. While it is true that hurricanes are natural occurrences, the dimensions of the suffering in this case are self-inflicted, beginning with the engineering that has sought to conquer the silting of the Mississippi, but has left New Orleans a least a meter lower than a century ago. But it goes beyond that, including egregious national sins like the growing gap between rich and poor, leaving tens of thousands of the most vulnerable with no means to escape the oncoming storm, or the ill-advised and botched overseas military adventures that have left us so strapped that a significant portion of the National Guard has been diverted from its primary task, leaving us not only unable to police Baghdad, but also New Orleans. Perhaps the most glaring sin of my nation, and the one least addressed in the COGs, is our contribution to global warming, causing sea levels to rise and hurricanes to grow in intensity. Not only does our government refuse to face this issue, but the current administration has been cutting back on the few environmental safeguards that were already in place. Cry aloud? Hardly. The COGs even contribute to the problem, spending millions to get people to believe that none of the churches in their hometowns are truly Christian, and that to please God one must drive dozens or hundreds of miles every weekend to a true church. Given the constant splintering, this sometimes means even driving past other Sabbatarian churches since, while they are not "false", they are not quite true enough.

The biggest mistake made in these predictable responses to each and every tragedy is the assumption that God is doing these things to us. He is not. We are doing them to ourselves.

Henry Sturcke ministers jointly in the Worldwide Church of God and the Swiss Reformed Church. He is author of "Encountering the Rest of God".


02 September. KATRINA, MAILBAG

Katrina and the COGs: David Pack is the latest cult leader to attempt to get mileage out of the dire situation in New Orleans. The RCG website carries a special "report"

As residents and tourists sought shelter or fled the city, a giant hand-painted sign was left behind, which read, “Please Pray for New Orleans.” Praying for New Orleans—“The Big Easy,” known around the world for its “anything goes” party atmosphere, and countless stories of debauchery and lewdness—to be spared means that a God must exist to answer. How would the God of the Bible answer such a prayer—what would be His reaction? Would He turn a blind eye to the indescribable excesses that have run rampant throughout New Orleans’ history? There is a reason why “The Big Easy” was struck—and why the rest of the United States will feel its rippling effects.

AW is no cheer-leader for the WCG, as regular readers know, but the public reaction there has been both compassionate and balanced:

Our hearts and prayers are with those suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. If any of you receiving this are in the affected areas please let us know how you are by sending an e-mail to me at so I can share it with the rest of the e-mail list.

UCG's often ridiculous WNP site seems to take a much more balanced view that the raving lunatics elsewhere:

Nature's forces know no political, ethnic, social, religious or racial bounds. To use the Biblical phrase, "it rains on the just and the unjust". Nature is not something to be worshipped as a substitute religion for the worship of the one true God.

The UCG's president has also written to the flock:

I know you and all the members around the world have been deeply concerned about the unfortunate people who were in the path of Hurricane Katrina. The images and news reports are continually conveying an unimaginable scene of devastation and human suffering, and the news seems to worsen every day... we are relieved that at this point we have heard no reports of harm coming to any of our own Church members. However, due to the state of poor communications, not all of the affected members have been contacted, so we cannot make any kind of summary statement... 

Our advice at this time from the home office is that members who want to "do good to all" should contribute to the organizations that are best equipped and experienced to provide the food, clothing, shelter and medical attention needed. We recommend reputable groups the government is endorsing, such as the Red Cross.

For those who want to reach out particularly to "the household of faith," you can send a check to the home office, payable to the United Church of God, noting in the memo section that it is for the "Assistance Fund." We will likely be helping a number of our brethren in these affected areas using our "Assistance Fund"—beyond what was anticipated in the budget. We will draw on these funds in consultation with the local ministers to make sure we can effectively help members in their need.

UCG has also announced a "Katrina Disaster Relief Project", which is a great deal more practical than the sickly, shallow waffle about disasters offered on WCG's home page. CGI has also shown made an appropriate response:

In response to the terrible tragedy unfolding in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, the Church of God, International has sent a donation on behalf of its members to the American Red Cross for the Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund. Our heartfelt prayers go out to everyone impacted by this most recent tragedy to strike our shores. Also, offers to provide food and clothing to the "greater body of believers" in the affected areas have been extended and we are awaiting details of how we can best meet those needs.

AW Columnist and former WCG pastor Dennis Diehl offers his views in an article called Weather we like it or not. It's fair to say that they're nothing like Spanky, Dave or Gerry's.

A flying leap (1): This is just a short note to the daughter of the elderly father who is [having difficulties with] Dennis Leap in PCG. Please tell your father that's it's ok to let go of PCG and that being being suspended by the likes of Dennis Leap and those officials in PCG carries no authority, no guilt and no shame. Not knowing your dad's mind set in thinking he has to try to be "in the church" at all costs, just look him in the eye and tell him, "Dad, you are free now." Thinking that PCG can be put in a bad light is like thinking cow dung doesn't stink. You're dad needs the spiritual guidance of PCG like a fish needs a bicycle as they say.

I don't know what it will take to end the foolishness of these arrogant fools but if you dad can simply be told and believe he can walk away with that bunch having done him a great favor in telling him to stay home, a small victory can be counted for the good guys. I'm sure your dad is one of the good guys! I am sorry your elderly father has had to put up with all this drama and I hope he can let it go and be himself again, free from the control and foolishness of men who have no accountability much less common sense. I'd write DL myself but there seems to be no connect to any PCG church site of late as I suspect they get a lot of much deserved internet observations about how screwy the leadership is. Tell Dennis to take a flying leap. 

Dennis Diehl 

A flying leap (2): What a blessing for your correspondent's decent father that he is being offered his freedom... The indefensible behavior of the Philadelphia Church of God bosses show they are neither Philadelphian nor of God. But why do sincere PCG members support them, rejecting the leadership of both God's Holy Spirit and common sense? Why do they submit to preachers who do not even evidence basic fruits of conversion? Many may exhibit the tragic psychological phenomenon where victims of abuse have their minds altered so they seek out abusers to bully them. I've known several victims of spousal abuse who had to really struggle just to accept love and respect from good, new mates after suffering this damage. I love, pity, and pray for the people so sincere and misled to believe this demon-driven caricature is God's church...

Meredith on Katrina: So many things I wanted to say, but it matters not I guess! The "presiding evangelist" wrote "However, if we just are “concerned” and “pray about it” is that enough?" Nah, that isn't enough, how about actually getting YOUR hands dirty? How about actually giving and contributing to the suffering of people instead of using this as a fund raising event to further your own personal agenda which you probably actually think has been assigned to you by God - through the dead Herbert Armstrong! What IS the lesson you think God wants people to learn from the horrible tragedy on the coast of LA, MS, and AL? I know what it is - that all should ... follow YOUR lead unquestioningly... Did you actually "say" anything in this letter? Nope! 

TRUE leadership might actually require YOU to get your own hands dirty, but we all know that God loves quality, and He wouldn't want his "main man" getting his hands dirty... Rod may be in the 1st resurrection, but it surely won't be by any of his works, because they will be burned up!


Prophecy really does come alive! Be prepared for Meredith, Flurry, Pack and others who will have a field day with the hurricane that is scheduled to hit New Orleans this coming morning. It is expected to be seriously damaging and has a potential to cause catastrophic damage and death. The COGlets will all claim that this is God's punishment on Manasseh.


AW: This message from Dateline Pasadena came in before Katrina struck, providing DP with a 100% better hit rate in the prophecy department than anything the tithe farmers have managed so far :)

The Ogwyn/Smith correspondence (1): John Ogwyn's reply to Harold Smith essentially sums up LCG's official view of any and all loans that were made to Rod Meredith's church before the Great Global Split of 1998. If a loan was made to Global Church of God, it was GCG's responsibility, not LCG's, to repay it - legally, if not quite morally. However, one thing that is forgotten nowadays is the fact that just after the split, GCG insisted it would make good on every single loan, even though the corporation was now only a shell of its former self. They recalculated their repayment schedules, contacted the people they owed, and begged for more time. In most cases they got it. But like the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, there was one man in particular who demanded his repayment immediately, and thus dealt the death blow to GCG. His name is [removed] and his voice is [familiar to LCG members]

See, most of the loans had a little-invoked clause in the fine print that gave the loaner the right to demand his/her money back, in full, at any time. Just as your corner bank operates on the assumption that only a few customers will completely clean out their accounts in any given month, so GCG had borrowed with the unwritten understanding that their loaners would request full repayment only in case of emergency. Most of the few who demanded their money back in the wake of the Global split had loaned relatively small amounts, which GCG was able to repay immediately. Except for [this man], that is. He and his mother-in-law had contributed a very substantial sum to the church. When he demanded repayment, they didn't have the money in their account. So he took them to court.

But wait a minute! What about all those sermons Rod Meredith gives on I Cor. 6:1-8? [the person in question], in a letter to the brethren, assured his critics that Raymond McNair and the rest of the GCG leadership were no longer his brethren - and besides, this wasn't a "suit," it was a "court action." So it was okay. Meredith did nothing about it, though he did avoid I Cor. 6 in his sermons for about, oh, half a year.

Well, the court ruled that GCG had to repay [him] or liquidate its assets trying. After all, the clause was right there in black and white. Since Global obviously couldn't borrow enough to repay the loans, they went into insolvency. [He] and his mother-in-law got pennies on the dollar for his trouble -- and destroyed any chance that Harold Smith's acquaintances would ever see their money again.

[The man in question] took a big hit financially, but hey -- at least he has the satisfaction of knowing he destroyed the evil corporation that dared to kick Rod Meredith out. Had he given Global time to repay, he might eventually have recouped most, if not all, of his loan. I personally don't believe he ever seriously thought he would see his money again if he took the matter to court. In fact, I have to wonder whether he knew exactly what he was doing.


The Ogwyn/Smith correspondence (2): Matthew 7:15 - No one should ever expect the wolves to repay.


The visionary leadership of UCG: Life must be a little different on Planet UCG to Earth, or at least the part of it I live in. For example, in a recent report from the exalted COE there's this statement: The studio will have a news-center appearance, with a desk large enough to seat three MEN for the program's discussion format. And later: The main program hosts will be Gary Petty, Steve Myers and Darris McNeely... In addition, 30 of our ELDERS are scheduled to be guests on the program.

My question: is UCG so bereft of articulate women and lay members who could contribute once in a while? If this was a Catholic news release there would be dark mutterings about priestcraft and misogyny. 

These boys don't think too far out of the box do they?


Consulting with "the little people": Understand Joe is speaking at the Glendora church on Saturday and taking a vote on the new name.

Former member

AW: Could be the start of a thorough and exhaustive consultation process - no pressure. Yeah, right! :)

The deal with Dennis (1): In regards to Dennis Diehl's "Prophecy comes alive, brethren:" Dennis is a spiritual suicide... [He] can rejoice in the fact that many have come and been deceived and are deceiving, leading people in a blind faith and others who are blind are trying to lead people with no faith at all. Hey, if you are looking to fail you can't miss with those two, can you?

AW: Do we take it from this that you won't be clicking across to Dennis' latest offering?

The deal with Dennis (2): A hearty “Amen” to the many points and sentiments Dennis Diehl expressed in his recent column “The Problem with Prophecy.” If you haven’t taken the time to read it, please do so because Dennis touches upon a number of thought-provoking observations that, if seriously considered and acted upon, can remove the many negative consequences resulting from chronically wasting your life “in the gun lap” of end-time prophecy schemes. (And let’s not delude ourselves, this is the “bread and butter” of virtually all the various WCG spin-offs – the primary psychological tool they use to continually stoke the fire of urgency under their members and thus keep the stream of money flowing into their respective Home Offices.)

Dennis’ comment about many COG members growing “older but not the wiser” in their experiences and bouts with prophecy addiction is right on the money. It has always amazed me when I talk to any number of prophecy zealots: they’re frequently all fired up in eager anticipation of the latest predictions their particular ministerial guru (in the guise of Pastor, Apostle, Presiding Evangelist or whatever) has made. Eventually, of course, such proclamations fail miserably, as ALL such predictions of the traditional WCG historically have, without exception. But just a short while later, perhaps after a quick battle with disillusionment (wherein the still, small celestial spark of reason awakens and tries, in vain it often seems, to get their attention), such prophecy junkies, rather than doing the wise thing by actually questioning the legitimacy and the worn-out presuppositions of their “inspired” leaders, soon thereafter are swept into the throes of prophetic rapture once again by the next unending series of proclamations and commentary to emanate “from on high.”

Eric Hoffer writes in his insightful 1951 book The True Believer (a brief yet seminal work which needs to be re-visited in light of the threat of radical fundamentalist religion): “It is the true believer’s ability to ‘shut his eyes and stop his ears’ to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger nor disheartened by obstacles nor baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence.”

And, indeed, it seems that massive denial manifested as an unwillingness to face reality about any number of issues (both organizationally and individually) play a major role in the COG’s particular strain of prediction addiction.

Randy Martens

PCG - huh? You used this phrase, "PCG" several times, I'm probably just not up to speed "UTS", but I don't know what group this refers to. ITD (in the dark)

ALG (Al Green)

AW: Blessed art thou ALG, for AW has garnered the most common COG acronyms in a handy reference guide for the confused and/or uninitiated. 

Ramona and a whale of a tale: First let me say that I have been following Ambassador Watch for a long time and think you are doing a good service even if I may not agree with you on some things. It is a great source of information.

Recently someone asked if there were any published pictures of Ramona Armstrong. There was a black and white pic of Ramona and Herbert cutting their wedding cake in the Worldwide News in the summer of 1977 shortly after they were married. There were probably several pictures printed in the Plain Truth or Good News from their globe trotting trips. There is one in particular that I remember though. I was working in publishing in Pasadena when a less than flattering color picture of Ramona eating at a banquet in China was published probably in the Plain Truth but could have been in the Good News sometime between November of 1979 and March of 1980. The reason I distinctly remember is one morning right after it hit circulation I nearly rolled on the floor laughing when I walked into work and was told that "Dexter Faulkner (editorial staff) got his ... in a wringer because Ramona looked like a beached whale in the pic." Have never forgotten that.

A low blow: This was low: "Are you really suggesting that there are current WCG members who'd want Joe to take kool aid?" It's obvious from Bill Winn's comments that he was talking about criticisms of WCG from the broader COG community in general, and from the AW-posting crowd in particular, not current WCG members. Your leading question was a cheap shot - the very sort you'd just got finished telling everyone else not to try. WCG is doing a fine job on its own of making itself look ridiculous, without folks like you taking shots at a courageous pastor who speaks up on its behalf. For shame.

Aaron Root

AW: I accept your righteous chastisement Aaron. But in my own defense, the 2 things were grouped together. If Bill was suggesting anyone here is advocating anything so hateful he's dead wrong. Fans of Joe are pretty scarce in the mailbag, but the kool aid thing was way over the top.

Was Jacob a proto-Celt? It has been observed by Celtic historians that the letters GL were incorporated into many Celtic names - e.g. Galway, Galloway, Galatia, Galicia, Galati. In Genesis (31:47-48) Jacob called the name of the place "Galeed" (heap of testimony). And what about the following names from the Bible incorporating GL into their structure: Gaal, Galad, Gallim, Galilee, Geliloth, Gilalia, Gilboa, Gilead, Gilgal.

Are these words from a Proto-Celtic language?


LCG stats: Thanks to Tom Mahon for the additional information. From the financial information I've gleaned so far, I've prepared a summary of LCG's revenue and expenses which unfortunately created an additional question. The amounts are in millions:

Revenue $9.0
Less Expenses:
Salaries, Expenses, Hall Hire ($4.0 )
Assistance to needy ($0.5 )
Preaching Gospel (Radio, etc) ($2.2 ) ($6.7 )
Surplus(?) $2.3
Less: Transfer to Reserves ($0.5)
"Profit" (?) $1.8

The additional question? Where did the $1.8 million net surplus go? Remember folks, a "church" is a not for profit organization. So they cannot label their excess of revenue over expenses as "profit"; it should be labeled "surplus"...

To echo Tom's comments, many admire the Apostle Paul, the other Apostles, Christ Himself, yet a scant few imitate them. But then why should any of us be surprised???

John Karagiannidis

AW: Hey, I'm just grateful LCG actually fronts up with a balance sheet (published in their members' magazine). If only the Tkach church would do the same (but I gather their financial ethics are totally "giffed"!)

Quo Vadis: Oh yeah, "Quo Vadis" would definitely be a nail in the coffin for Bob Fahey. To use that famous Latin phrase with such unmistakably Catholic associations (in the legends of St. Peter's martyrdom in Rome, it is said to be the question Jesus asked St. Peter as he was fleeing Rome during Nero's persecution -- "Where are you going, Peter?") would cause great displeasure in a virulently anti-Catholic sect.

Jared Olar



PCG - How they treat their members: In June we ran an item about PCG's treatment of an elderly deacon (see the boxed item below). Today we follow up with a disturbing report.

I just got a call from my mother and sister in reference to Dennis Leap [pictured] and my father, who is in the PCG.

It seems that he (Leap) read what I wrote recently on the internet about what he did to my father (a former deacon who had his position taken away by Dennis Leap and was told to get rid of my mother if he couldn't control her and to never see or talk to me again) and he called my father today and told him that he was suspended from attending PCG services. This will be announced in my father's church location tomorrow (Saturday). It is a typical and predictable pattern that Leap likes to practice, take something away from someone on Friday so it can be announced to humiliate you on Saturday.

He told my father that he had put the church in a bad light even though my father had no hand in what I wrote and didn't know that I was writing it when I did. My father doesn't even know how to get on the internet much less type. 

My father is a very good person who only tries his best to please God and all he gets from Dennis Leap is more abuse and being accused of things that he hasn't done. When my mother realized who my father was talking to, she asked my father many times to let her talk to Dennis Leap but Dennis wouldn't talk to her when my father told him that his wife wanted to talk to him. He finally told my father that he "might" talk with her when they had a meeting at a later time. I'm sure my mother is holding her breath about that happening. I'm surprised that Dennis Leap wasn't man enough to talk to my mother, but then again he can't control her so I'm sure that was one of the reasons he didn't want to talk to her and only wanted to talk to my father.

Dennis Leap never said to my father that anything that was written by me was a lie, he only told my father that "he" had put the PCG in a bad light and was hurting the "church". I find it funny that he has time to read things about him on the internet or else has his own "spies" doing it for him and reporting back to him. He knows that what I wrote is true and the truth hurts, or rather the lack of power over me and other family members hurts him because he can't control us. 

Here's the June item - also published on other websites - that brought down the wrath of Flurrydom: I just wanted to let you know that I am a former member of the WCG and am not a member of any of the splinter groups or the WCG for almost 10 years. My father left the WCG for the PCG back when Joseph Tkach was making a lot of changes. My father was recently told by Dennis Leap that he was no longer a deacon due to him not being able to control his non-PCG family members.

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

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

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

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

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

Katrina's stench - the vultures gather: Nothing quite equals human misery to attract ghouls waving Bibles and apportioning blame. One solo COG prognosticator writes: Katrina is only the beginning of the End.

And quick, duck, here comes Spanky:

Isn’t it much better to ask ourselves why the Creator God allows these things to occur? Are we willing to learn every lesson which the great God wants us to learn as these things occur? Is this Hurricane Katrina just a separated tragedy? Or is this part of a pattern of more and more and more such “natural” disasters to come from our Creator as part of His corrective chastening of our peoples for our mounting sins? ...

And the “experts” are seemingly in total ignorance of the fact that there is a Great God who ultimately controls natural events—who blesses nations that obey Him with “rain in its season” (Leviticus 26:4), and who can (and often will) punish a rebellious people with drought and famine (v. 19) ...

When ancient Israel turned aside from God, how did He respond? “‘I blasted you with blight and mildew [from too much rain]. When your gardens increased, your vineyards, your fig trees, and your olive trees, the locust devoured them; yet you have not returned to Me,’ says the LORD” (Amos 4:9). And the same God who “chastened entire” nations and empires in centuries past is still very much in charge! He says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

The Word of God makes it clear that if the British Commonwealth [Note to Spanky: the word "British" was removed from the Commonwealth of Nations in 1946!]and American peoples do not repent of our personal and national sins and return to God, He will punish us with floods, drought, famine, earthquakes and disease epidemics such as we have never known nor even imagined! Each of us, individually, needs to seek God in a way we have never done before... The great God of the Universe will always punish nations for their sins—especially those nations who should “know better,” and who have and who profess to believe in His inspired Word! America claims to be a “Christian” nation. But our mounting rates of crime and violence, and our horrible problems with illicit sex, perverted sex, mounting drug addiction and drunkenness certainly belie this fact...

If you understand, you will grasp the fact that increasing “terror”—including natural disasters and terrorist attacks—will continue to plague our peoples as never before. The great God of heaven will get our “attention” one way or the other!

The Flurry cult has also posted a crass commentary. In our next upload we'll be running a very different perspective on this topic from Dennis Diehl. However, if you think the Rod 'n Gerry God is a bit of a sociopathic bully, check out the next item.

God's hit list: Pat Robertson wants to assassinate democratically elected leaders in other countries, but wait! Harold Reiman has his own take on the matter:

My God has a hit list. Israelites are at the top of it. Why? To whom much is given, much is expected. The US and UK were given the most. They are at the top of the list. Judah is a close third. False ministers like Pat Robertson and Billy Graham are right up there. Of course George W. is at the top where the buck stops. The radio beacons, Dennis Prager, George Putnam and Michael Savage, are right below him... He's put his sin mark on you, Sunday worship along with the sun worship of Christmas and Easter.

There is only one way to get off God's hit list. Listen to the coming prophet, Elijah III.

You are on the list too.

Ghastly! But who could Elijah III be? Oh, of course, silly us. DP tells us that Harold worked on landscaping in Pasadena  before developing a variety of "interesting" thoughts like these when cult bosses placed him over the archives department.

And then there's Jules: Jules Dervaes is another intriguing character. This is the guy who once parked his placard-plastered van outside WCG services in Pasadena. According to some researchers his theological ideas were snatched by Gerald Flurry who then credited them to the inspiration of the Eternal. Unlike Harold however, he seems to have achieved a little legitimate fame.

Anyone wanna lend Rod a buck? When Roderick Meredith took his ego and walked from the Global Church of God, the savings of many members were lost. AW has been provided with correspondence regarding one such situation. The following introductory comments are from the person who forwarded them: Global borrowed approximately 1 million dollars from employees and members. One loan was from an elder in New York where it is illegal to borrow from an employee. That elder conveniently died. I do not know if the widow received any repayment. She may have been given third tithe assistance. Money was borrowed from the mother of an employee then she was promptly put on third tithe assistance which in that case was an abuse of third tithe. I have not heard of any attempt by LCG to repay any of the loans, even if the lenders remained loyal followers of Rod. Rod uses the excuse that the loans were made to Global and he left that organization.

The following emails concern a couple that were employees of Global that did not follow Rod into Living. Perhaps they did not make wise choices but the point is the total lack of concern on the part of the Living Church of God.

October 15, 2002

Living Church of God
PO Box 501304
San Diego, CA 92150-1304

Re: Church Loans


There were a fair number of loans where my wife and I helped the church through difficult times. In early days the church started with very high interest credit cards. Our loan eliminated the high interest at that time. There was need for an internal radio studio to eliminate long travel to an outside studio. It needed interim financing, which we loaned. On occasions there were not funds for the payroll, sometimes right up to the very day before payroll. We provided emergency funds to cover 3 payrolls going out, on one occasion our ck#1966 13Mar96 for US $100,000. Mr. Meredith through Mr. Pope asked us for finances to help the work, and we did as best we could. It appears our last loan to the church was for US $14,288 with the work in straits, which exhausted our last savings.

Now with poor health and poor finances, our life savings--loans to the church--would help provide for us now. These savings were set aside for our twilight years. With lifetime service in the work from 1968, unfortunately there was/is no provision for our retirement including Social Security.

In Nov/Dec98 returning to US from Abbotsford, BC, there were no negative comments, and we cooperated agreeing to help in staying on for some time, for transition of the Canadian office to move to Ontario. People notice that we had/have no ill feelings, and are living quietly.

Last audit Sep99, our final principal ended at US $194,710.39. We would ask you consider repayment. It would be most helpful in our need, and appreciated.


Did LCG leap into action to rectify the situation? Harold Smith eventually went in to bat for these folk. He wrote to John Ogwyn:

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Hi John,

If RCM wants to receive God's blessings he needs to be reminded that the abuse of widows and the poor must be rectified first

I hope all is going well for you. I caught your telecast a few weeks back and felt you did an excellent presentation. How much response did you receive from that one?

Since it has been about 15 months since you said Living's comptroller had two options on the table for the repayment of the loans made to RCM for Global, and that one or the other would be in place by the end of 2003, and since the last time I heard from the (victims) they still had not received any communication from Living, I thought I would see if you had an update that I could pass on to them.

I am still sending them third tithe assistance even though they attend with Norbert and Ed. There are several of our Board members who have expressed concerns to me about the lack of concern RCM has shown regarding the
(victims). They feel we have gone over and beyond in providing them help, especially since we had nothing to do with taking their money and not repaying it. If we, who had nothing to do with creating the (victims')
position of poverty, have taken the financial burden for almost 4 years, why can't the man who was responsible for requesting and taking their money at least do the Christian--and morally right thing--and send them third tithe assistance like we have done?

You did promise me that you would take this up with RCM early last year. I know you know RCM has the moral obligation to help the people whose money he took. The (victims) gave him everything they had. Now (the husband) is in hideous health and can't work and (his wife) has not been able to get any steady work. The last I heard (she) had not yet received her money, but I know she has family to help her, the (victims) have no job and no one to help them. Please follow through and help Christian justice to prevail on this issue. It is high time it is no longer swept under the rug. If RCM wants to receive God's blessings he needs to be reminded that the abuse of widows and the poor must be rectified first.

Thanks for your help and attention to this matter.

Your brother in Christ,

So, did John Ogwyn race around doing the Christian thing? Back to you Harold:


Hi John,

Since I have not received a response, I must assume the following email must have been lost in the web of the internet. I would appreciate you either acting on it, or passing it on to Mr. Meredith, or sending me an address where I can make certain that Mr. Meredith receives it. It is mind-boggling to me how any man can look the other way and not feel it is his Christian duty to help fellow brethren in Christ who are in need, especially when he has been personally responsible for putting them into the category of the needy!

I am tired of men strutting around, claiming they are the epitome of men of God and yet fail to do their Christian duty to those who they have wronged. I would at least like to hear from the (victim couple) that someone in the organization that claims to be the primary "living" branch of the Church of God has at least contacted them about their letter, so they know that that organization has not died. (I am attaching it below under my last email.) I just spoke with (Mr. Victim) this evening and after almost 26 months they
still have not been shown the courtesy of a phone call or letter from LCG to acknowledge the receipt of their letter.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.

Your brother in Christ,

cc: Board of Directors

And then, at last, a reply from John:

Wednesday, December 08, 2004 8:59 AM

Hello, Harold, and thanks for the note. Has this request been passed on to Larry Salyer & Raymond McNair (as well as Ed Pope & Norbert Link)? Since they acted in collusion to take over GCG, they gained liabilities when they grabbed assets. I therefore believe that THEY have primary responsibility in this matter. I will however, see that your request gets to Mr. Meredith. If those who rejected RCM's leadership had simply resigned and started their own group (or groups) rather than take over GCG (over the objections of the overwhelming majority of the ministers and members) this situation with the (victim's) repayment would not exist. Best regards.

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


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