Exit and Support Network

I Grew Up in WCG With Much Confusion

I am a child survivor of the Worldwide Church of God. I belonged to this "church" until I was 13 years old. I had been a member ever since I was born. My father had joined in the seventies. My father and mother were married in 1975, but he was a member already and she was not. (From what my aunt has recently told me, my father had told my mother it would be her "choice" if she joined the WCG or not.) Within one year my mother was a member.

Growing up in "the church" was never easy. At school I was expected to sit out from the rest of the students, whenever there were going to be Easter parties or Christmas sing-alongs. I can remember being in the second grade when I decided to sit with my classmates while singing Christmas carols. My older brother caught me and later told my parents. Of course, my father (who at the time looked like a giant compared to a 7 year old) yelled at me profusely, stating I should have the strength to stand up for "the church" and tell them why I do not celebrate Christmas. (Of course, I did not understand why not, and still don't.)

Later on at the age of 9 I received a stuffed animal as a birthday present from a cousin. Of course not thinking about the WCG's beliefs I accepted the stuffed animal, and took it home to show my parents. They immediately made me take it back to my cousin and give it back, because it was considered a "birthday present" and I could not except it. Yet one week later they let me have it on the terms that I did not think of it as a birthday present. My parents always expected me to be strong at school and tell others why I had to sit out of different seasonal assemblies such as Easter and Christmas (which was made even harder by the fact that they made me attend a private Christian school). They expected me to explain beliefs that I still cannot explain, and that I never understood. Even then, I knew something had to be wrong with the teachings, but how do you as a small child explain this to parents who think that they and "the church" are the ones who are right and you are wrong. And as a small child how do you explain to other children about Passover, days of unleavened bread, day of atonement, and feast of tabernacles (which I was expected to know all meanings of, and exactly why we celebrated them)?

My mother left the WCG a few years before my father did, and that made things even stranger than they were before. I could not comprehend how my mother could leave a church that considered themselves to be the "only church" and if you left, you would be left behind or burn in fire.

Within about two years of my mother leaving, my father talked to one of the deacons of the WCG. The deacon basically told him that since my mother wanted to go back to teachings she believed before the WCG, that my father may need to divorce her. (This was around Christmas time that year.) Well, once my father was told that, he went straight home, took my mother to the store, bought her the Christmas tree of her choice, threw on some ornaments, and that was to be our first Christmas. (Now keep in mind, even though my mother was going back to her old beliefs, my father still had not.) He was still holding on to some of the doctrines of WCG.

Which meant while my brothers and I were celebrating Easter and Christmas with my mother (we starting having birthday parties as well), my father was still taking me (and sometimes my older and younger brother) to the WCG services.

It took my father another year (when I was 14), to totally leave WCG. He had a lot of problems with his back, and was forced out of work for awhile. While he was out of work, he started to truly read the Bible for what it was, and understanding what it said, that it was not what WCG was teaching. That's when he got in touch with the minister, and told him he was leaving the "church" for good, and would no longer associate with them. After he left WCG, my father seemed to change totally (which, of course, led to more confusion). As before, when we didn't celebrate holidays because they were considered to be devilish, he was now openly reading the Christmas story from Luke. We also started attending a Christian church and celebrating Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter [i. e., Resurrection Sunday]. And, of course, while my parents dropped all of their beliefs from WCG, they just expected me to do the same. They could not understand what a whirlwind this was for me to be taught one thing through my childhood, and then be expected to just throw that away and believe something else.

My parents have never once apologized for the confusion they caused (even though from their actions I can tell they are sorry for it), but every Christmas since the age of 13 we've always received really big Christmas gifts (almost like they're trying to make up for what they took). I'd rather they stop trying to make up for it, and acknowledge what they did, so we can all move on.

I am now 23 years old, happily married, and attend a independent Baptist church. I've fought hard to forget about WCG and by the grace of the true God, I have found some peace. When I stumbled across this website I just had an urge to write part of my story. I feel better now that I've done so. Thank you for giving me a place to write.

God Bless You.

By Amber - Child survivor of WCG
2009

Note from ESN: It is important for parents to acknowledge the confusion and pain they have caused their children by raising them in WCG. They also need to try and help them understand about cults and the methods they use to deceive and control people.  


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