Formerly known on the Internet as “Purple Hymnal.”
Among the thousands of articles posted here on the Painful Truth for your consideration, there will doubtless be some that you find useless, and possibly offensive, but we believe you will be perceptive enough to realize that even the stories you disagree with have some value in terms of promoting your own further self-definition and insight.
Pilate said unto Him, “What is Truth?”
John 18:37-38, KJV
“There is an old Chinese curse, ‘May you live in interesting times.’” – Leonard Nimoy
I’ve lived a lot, for one lifetime. My parents started out their lives together as hippies in Jamestown (I’m not sure where Wiki got the “St” part from, I’ve only ever heard it referred to sans honorific.), whereupon they proceeded to tick every box on the list, although neither one of them were involved with the Church then, beyond my father listening to the broadcast, which he had done, when he was in the Navy. (Beyond a passing mention that “Garner Ted wasn’t so bad” in the early ’80s, which I promptly scoffed at, my father never mentioned his early conversion much. Likely due to the source.)
Fast-forward a decade from “the hippie summer” and my parents are married with a one-year-old who spends more time in hospital than out of it (I have spoken of the false allegations of “the healing doctrine” elsewhere), living in rural Northern Ontario, and oh yes, they were both baptized members of the Worldwide Church of God.
My mother was disfellowshipped (for a perfectly logical reason) between ’77 and ’78 by Mr. S. (whom can now be found beating the Bible (but never reading it, anymore) for a Pagan Christ, in a church with a cross on the front of it), and thus my family’s saga, as a “spiritually broken household” began.
I do want to go on the record and say that there was never any acrimony between Mr. S. and my family through the years, though; we got on, on very good terms, for many years afterward, even when we were in British Columbia, and Mr. S. was the rising star in the ministry. (He was the Western Regional Pastor at one point, I believe.) A star which has long since flamed out. Another minister, who was referred to behind his back by the more bitter members of his small, conservative, congregation as “little Hitler,” has now risen to the top of the “episcopal hierarchy” dung-heap that GCI is now under the thumb of. I also remember Mr. S. always spoke to each child as an equal, without ever condescending to us, no matter if we were two, or twenty; I remember this quite clearly, even though he was transferred from Toronto a year or so after I started attending services.
But let me tell you what I remember about the Church. My first Sabbath services, I was nervous, and fiddling with the fancy dress-up clothes that never seemed to stay free of foodstuffs, much to my mother’s chagrin. This being the “combined” congregation of Toronto, the East, West, and Central churches all met in the auditorium of the Sir John A, for many years — and it was busting at the seams, with at least a thousand members.
I can recount to you every step from the front door, down into the spacious auditorium, filled with a wall of sound and people (that would have impressed any average professing Christian churchgoer of the day), the 70s-era “Jetson Family” bathrooms with the foot-pedal-fountain in place of faucets and sinks, for hand-washing (ahead of the times, definitely), the classrooms where the YES classes were held every month (there was such a large contingent of children, the YES classes were separated, by grade level, each into their own classroom), and the patio out back, where the refreshments (usually unsweetened apple juice and digestive bikkies) were served. Along with tea and coffee for the adults.
I remember my surrogate “aunts” and “uncles” (not so in the “hardliner” Victoria, BC, congregation, where everyone was prim and proper “Mr. This” and “Mrs. That”), wandering around during fellowship hour with a gaggle of kids the size of which would scare the living daylights out of a modern security guard these days, given how well-dressed and well-behaved we all were. I remember the harsh Scotch mints handed out by the ex-Mennonite “grandma” of the congregation (who gifted me with a quilt I still have, somewhere hereabouts, almost fifteen moves and three provinces later).
Funny, although I can remember Neil Earle thundering so loud, we could hear him all the way back in “the cheap seats” way up in the back, even though he was the pastor of Toronto that I spent the most years under (as a child) I honestly barely remember him. I don’t think he ever visited our house. Certainly, neither he nor Richard Pinelli, ever came to my house and opened cupboard doors, “looking for sin,” as has been alleged of both of those gentlemen on false Christian sites like the “Exit and Support Network.”
There was always a steady stream of dinner guests from amongst the brethren, both ministry as well as fellow members, in Ontario, and British Columbia; my mother’s excellent (and kosher; the household was not quite that broken, fortunately) cooking certainly played an influence there; so, too, did her homemade wine, although I never did see Church members any more than tipsy.
In British Columbia, during the closing years of the Church holding fast to the truth, my family hosted NTBMR / NTBMO evenings where the local pastor very happily provided us with a list of all those who needed to be “placed” in a household for the evening some months prior, thus making both the local minister, and those in need of a place to go for the traditional meal, very, very happy. There are probably still legends circling the BC splinter groups, about those evenings. “Epic” is not even close to the appropriate adjective. People in the Victoria congregation would start talking about the coming year’s meal, after we all got back from the Feast.
The Victoria congregation met in a building called “the Union Hall,” which I have tried, unsuccessfully, to find information on the Internet about, to link for you. Still, I can retrace every single step, from the “back” of the Union Hall, the closest door to the auditorium, where the greeters stood and took attendance every Sabbath, to the YES classroom (only one), then the mother’s room, and finally the anointing room, all in a line, down one side of the long, narrow, hall, with the vending machines at the end; opposite were the bathrooms and the auditorium itself, full of spongy hardwood flooring that was probably original to the building, and didn’t creak nor crack, so much as give, like a slightly firm old-growth forest floor, beneath one’s feet.
Our first Sabbath services in BC (after six months of not attending; no, we were not put out of the Church in Toronto, nor was our non-attendance for that length of time an issue; we continued to keep the Holy Days while we were between Ontario and BC, traveling, and homeless, as we were at the time), I remember my father and I walking up to the greeters, shaking their hands, being marked off on the attendance sheet, and then walking through into the auditorium.
My first impression, after coming from a congregation that must have had upwards of a couple hundred kids (at least) ranging every age from nine months to nineteen years, was that there were no children in the congregation. All I saw were adults! I stuck close to my father, then, and we were dutifully introduced around, with a flurry of activity being conducted by one of the deaconesses, just out of the corner of my eye.
You know how they have that clichéd scene in those After School Specials, where “the new kid” is introduced into “the new school?” Yeah, so. Like that, only it was a circle of about twenty (if that) kids, ranging in age from about five to fifteen, gathered around my father and I, ringing us in, almost like they were going to bust out into a game of “Pocket full of Posies.” I would have been eight or nine at the time.
Things improved somewhat after that, thankfully, although the Victoria congregation was rife with cliques, to the point where it was preached about from the pulpit almost constantly. My parents tried to allay that, in their own way, through the Night to be Much Remembered meals, mentioned above.
I personally think they would have been wildly successful, had the Holy Days not been abolished, and the congregation disbanded, to go in directions we knew not where, until a chance meeting in a bookstore, a coffee shop, a library, a mall, or on the street, where the ex-member would loudly proclaim “We’re [insert x] now!” leaving my parents and I slack-jawed; after twenty-plus years of being told never to proselytize, how, exactly, does one respond to such flagrant disregard of Christ’s admonition?
Too, I couldn’t get over how these formerly righteous (OK the ones who barked the loudest were always the most self-righteous, and were likely a pox on whatever false idol-house they ended up worshipping in, anyway) brethren, could just drop everything, and depart so far from the truth, as if they had never, ever, believed.
I still can’t understand it, to be honest with you; and I’ve felt the same way, as a second-generation Christian, as an agnostic, an atheist, and now as a true Christian once again. All changes which came, for me, slowly, with much agonizing, planning, and careful thought; yet for my parents, and for these other wanton, pallid people, yelling meaningless, rebellious phrases, it was like flipping a switch.
Didn’t they even think about what they were doing? Did they even think about their beliefs, when they allegedly held them? (Obviously not, and they don’t want to re-examine them at all, speaking to those who have gone “whole hog” with “the changes.”) How could you forsake being a chosen member of the true Church? Sure, the Church forsook its members, but that was the leadership; the headship of the Church (whether it goes by the Worldwide Church of God, Grace Communion International, or any other name the “episcopal hierarchy” wants to assign to it, in the hopes that the truth will just go away) is still under Christ; the leadership of the Church just isn’t listening to Him!
In conclusion, I have personally found that a daily Bible reading program, has opened my eyes to the truth the Church once preached (that one day I pray, it will preach once again), and to the prophecy contained in that “NOW book,” for what direction the Church, both as a spiritual organism of scattered believers, and a corporate organization that still has the headship of Christ, regardless of how far from God its leaders have departed. Will it happen in my lifetime? That’s not for me to say. All I can say, is what the power of the Holy Spirit gives me to say.
Thank you for listening.