Exit and Support Network

My Mom Started Her Own HWA
Home-Based Bible Studies

My mom found out about the teachings of Herbert Armstrong when she was only 13, through her older brother. Eventually, a few of my other relatives (two uncles and an aunt), including three of my mother's friends, latched onto Armstrong's beliefs. They all received a lot of his material such as The Plain Truth magazine and The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

My mom, her relatives and friends, finally attended their first WCG sermon in the early `80s. This WCG group was a part of HWA's WCG out in Pasadena, California. Every Saturday morning, they would meet with this WCG branch at the old Westview Mall movie theater just hours before it opened for business that day. At first, they did just about everything with the WCG including saving all their money to go down to Virginia Beach for the Feast days back in the fall of '82. However, this WCG branch that they attended began to defy HWA's orders of not buying anything on the Sabbath. That's what my uncle and my mother both had a problem with. My mom told me that members at this particular branch began to go out to restaurants after their Sabbath sermon was over with. If I'm not mistaken, she may have said that they started doing this shortly before or after Herbert Armstrong died. Eventually, my mom, relatives and friends were all kicked out for disagreeing with what they were doing.

It was shortly after Armstrong's death that my two uncles both decided to move out to California and rejoin the WCG. My mom decided to stay back home with the rest of the family and seek God on her own. Both of my uncles later began to despise Herbert Armstrong after they found out that Armstrong had wanted everyone to sell their homes and businesses due to the coming Great Tribulation. Eventually, they decided to move back home and try to worship God there.

My mom then noticed how Joseph W. Tkach (who became the editor of The Plain Truth) started to change things in the PT. After a while, there wasn't much talk about the end of the world [i. e., end of the age] in it. Although years have passed since my mom attended that WCG splinter, she began to hold her own home-based Bible studies about a couple years after I was born. She said that everyone who was baptized by her (including me) were a part of "God's true church," which she thought was the PCG and other WCG offshoots. By then, she wasn't very close to her relatives, but invited some of my cousins to come over to her house for Saturday Bible study. Sometimes she would hold these Bible studies at a friend or relative's house. In other words, my mom started a cult [destructive group] of her own based on the earlier works of HWA and then on Gerald Flurry's of the PCG (Philadelphia Church of God). She even appointed herself as minister, but claimed that God was the one who did it.

Around the summer of 2006, my mom was invited by Gerald Flurry to attend his "America in Crisis" sermon at the Holiday Inn in New Castle, DE. She had been receiving literature prior to and after this sermon from Gerald Flurry including The Trumpet magazine. The night that we met Gerald Flurry, my mom and I were both interested in attending a PCG congregation near us. The ministers claimed that it would be possible for us to become members, but that we had to go through a baptism first. My mom was a bit uneasy about this because she claimed she baptized everyone that came with her to Flurry's sermon that day. To make a long story short, none of the PCG members we met that day tried to contact us. My mom admitted that once a church gets your money, they don't want much to do with you after that. Despite all this, she continued to receive literature from the Philadelphia Church of God and still gave sermons on Gerald Flurry's literature. All those years, I was spiritually abused and sometimes suffered from soft-core abuse by my own mother.

That wasn't the first time my mother didn't get a response from the PCG. She once wrote a letter to Gerald Flurry about the end of the world [i. e., the end of the age] back in the summer of 2005 and she never heard anything back from him. She thought it was because the people in the mailing department didn't have God dwelling in them, but now I feel that it was because they were only out for their own selfish gain.

I finally let my subscription to The Trumpet run out after receiving it for another two years. I'm so glad I stopped it because I couldn't take anymore of their no-hope view of the world. If you were to read every issue of The Trumpet, you'd find that they report what is happening in the world, but don't offer any real solutions. 

My mom continued to receive her daily Trumpet magazines until she became mentally ill in 2010. She became this way after thinking that God gave her the ability to talk to people in the head. She needs help, but doesn't think so. She's been homeless for six months after escaping a hospital in December 2011 and now she's in the process of being that way again once my sister moves out of her apartment. And you know what, it's probably from all those years of "walking with God" and following Herbert Armstrong and Gerald Flurry. She claimed she wasn't following a man, but she was and didn't even know it.

I still have family, friends and relatives whom I haven't talked to in a while and who still hold onto what Gerald Flurry says like gold. I don't know how to convince them otherwise because they'll just say I've "walked away." 

I've since been to two churches. I left one church to go to a Chinese church down the street. The members at both churches treated me so much better than a relative or close-friend ever did. It's about time I make new friends.

I want to thank ESN for all that they've done in helping people who have left the WCG, PCG and other splinter groups. 

By Connie - Child Survivor of a WCG branch
August 10, 2012

Update (5-13-16): As of April 2016, I've stopped attending church altogether, which includes the Chinese Church I've been to for nearly four years. Many in my mom's family not only accused me of letting go of Armstrong's dogma, but have taken my sister's side (who also still believes in what she was taught about him, but doesn't always practice it). 

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