Letters From Those Impacted by
Philadelphia Church of God
Best of the letters from 2003
January 17, 2003
I'm a law student (and a former member of WCG), and it has come to my attention through a little research that a few former members, particularly ones that have given up property, money and are suffering from emotional distress and other injuries due to membership, may be successful in bringing lawsuits against the churches, particularly the Philadelphia Church of God. Now, I have reservations about suggesting such a drastic action, but it's a good way to stop what is currently going on with the Philadelphia Church of God. A class action lawsuit, especially one that requires millions of dollars in damages, could potentially put the PCG out of business and bring a lot of negative attention toward it. And because the PCG is currently claiming the lives and happiness of several of my own family members, I would be more than happy to see that happen. Of course, I believe that we each have a right to practice whatever religion we choose, but when an organization systematically abuses, violates, and extorts its members, it should not get away with it. I have no standing to bring such a lawsuit myself, but I'm sure there are many who have been irretrievably damaged (financially, emotionally, physically) by the PCG. --J. D.
Reply: If anyone is considering a lawsuit, here are words from an attorney:
"Many legal proceedings have been taken during the last 7-8 years, and anyone seriously considering taking legal action against any of the WCG offshoot groups would be well-advised to do some basic research for case studies and see what firms have been most successful in these actions. As you may, or may not know, much of the current legal research is done via computers and powerful search utilities. One of the most prominent ones is called LexisNexis, a search tool that may be found in many libraries. Just by plugging in the name of the Church as a Defendant Party would probably bring up all of the major cases that were ultimately decided on appeal (and thus provide precedent) and from those cases one could see which law firms represented which parties. My hunch is that there is just a handful of law firms that have handled most of the cases. Anyone with a good case may well be a good potential client for one of these firms." for case studies to see if any related cases have been filed, and what direction to take.
Flurry Good at Disguising Evil:
January 24, 2003
My life has sure been so much more enjoyable this year after I broke with the dictatorship of Flurry. I feel so bad for the many who are still destroying their lives in their "following a man." Some thought Flurry was noble (and he can give that impression), but I think he is very good at disguising his evil, by using others to do his dirty work. --Former PCG member
I've Grown Much Wiser:
March 22, 2003
I appreciate your stories and went through some similar trials at the hands of some "all-knowing" people. I was young and naïve, just hadn't had the life experience to defend against some folks' ideas. Those years are far behind me today but the memories are still there. I think that only people who have lost themselves so completely can really appreciate what it feels like "find" themselves again. I wouldn't have chosen the path for myself but through the pain I learned a lot; how to take care of myself. I've grown much wiser in the passing years and actually matured far beyond many of my friends. Oh well. Life sure isn't fair but they say "if it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger." I'm sure glad I didn't die. Keep up the good work. --B. A.
Can Now Help My Friend Who Asked About PCG:
April 15, 2003
Just a quick note to thank you for your Christian info on the web. My friend was asking about the PCG since he read a book supporting it. Now I can give him the info he needs. Praise God for Christian ministry and blessings you poured on me in the few minutes I had to read your site. Thanks. --Anonymous
PCG Members Focused on HWA:
April 21, 2003
We have access to PCG's literature and were able to take a look at the May 2003 Trumpet yesterday. PCG members (and all those who are still into Armstrongism) recently observed the Passover. I find it rather ironic, because this magazine on page one, shows "who" they really look to.
My highlights are bold:
Trumpet May 2003
Personal from Gerald Flurry Miracle Victory!
And What It Means
"Mr. Armstrong's writings are the foundation of all that we believe. We teach his messages to our people quite diligently. However, we have been unable to teach them to the world. These works were blotted out by the WCG. We could not offer them to a deceived humanity until now! And we believe that God commands us to proclaim Mr. Armstrong's works to the world as a witness. (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 10:11).
"We have a critical message for a dying world. But the world can't fully understand without Mr. Armstrong's revealed writings. Roughly three-fourths of God's end time message is finally available to mankind. The one fourth we could proclaim along the way could be fully comprehended only by those who already understood Mr. Armstrong's writings."
[end of quotes]
You can see how Flurry desperately wants HWA's "works." He wants to play on that name to scare people into joining his group.
They are really worshipping Herbert Armstrong, who spawned an abusive church system, that unfortunately is still out there, trying to target other people. --Former PCG member
May 7, 2003
I have been in the PCG, briefly in the RCG and, last of all, LCG. I have gone through all the prayers for freedom from strongholds.
My question is this, what about my children? Should I go through all these prayers on behalf of them? I have [lists ages of children]. The older children have been in the Armstrong groups from about [a few] years ago, and the younger have been born in these churches. All have had the "children's blessing" on them, except the youngest babe. Are they covered through me, or do I need to pray over them, and do the older ones need to go through the prayers (reading them out loud with me)?
Thanks for your guidance. --Former member of PCG, RCG, & LCG
Reply: We definitely should pray for our children and ask Christ to intervene in their life. Jesus cares about all children very much. The prayers you asked about are actually formulated for adults, but there is nothing wrong with combining one short prayer adapted to your children's level and understanding, especially in regard to their trusting in Jesus as their Savior. That is what "covers" them (the blood of Jesus), not being blessed by a WCG/PCG minister. I wouldn't have them pray a lot of prayers from that section if they are young, and never force them to pray if they don't want to. Always try to present Jesus in a loving, compassionate way, since WCG and authoritarian Armstrong offshoots gave a false view of Him as distant and punitive. It is also a good idea to help your children understand what these Armstrong offshoots are all about and how easy it is to be deceived by such groups. Teach them how God is a forgiving God, deeply loves them, and wants them to spend eternity with Him. Just ask Christ to give you wisdom in all of this and lead you in what to do and say. There is no set pattern.
May 19, 2003
I knew Craig Winters, Colleen, Jake and Levi. I spent many Sabbaths in their home. From time to time, my husband says, "I wonder where Jake is now and what he's doing." Jake was a special boy. We knew him when he was 17 years old and attending an all boys school along with Levi.
I am stunned. The news of Jake's death is an incredible blow. We wondered if he'd ever be able to escape Craig's incredible control. And now we have the awful answer.
I remember waiting for the Winters family to arrive at the local Sizzler [Steak restaurant]. I looked out into the parking lot and saw the four of them by their car. Craig was pushing Jake in the chest, repeatedly, like he was trying to start something. Jake never defended himself. My husband, who is near-sighted, could make out Jake and someone pushing him. He became enraged and said who is pushing Jake? When I said "Mr. Winters" he was incredulous. But we saw enough in our time with them to know what kind of family they were. I have several pictures of Jake which I am going to dig out. He was a special young man. I remember at 17 he was thinking about dating one of Dennis Leap's daughters, but didn't want to have him for a father-in-law. Guess he already had a plate-full of discipline and control at home.
We were in the PCG for 2.5 years. Saw many people go through the church. The reason I left is I was a tape transcriber for members and potential members in prison. It's one thing to be sitting in church listening to some of Gerald Flurry's exaggerations and tirades slipping through your ears, it's quite another to actually see his words...word for word. He exaggerates like an accomplished maniacal liar. We decided we would be leaving the PCG. As we were also moving away from the area, we decided not to tell them, but to just quietly go away. He found out anyways. My [sibling] (not in the PCG) told [an-in-law] (PCG member) and [that person] told Craig. Craig called us to say he'd heard we were leaving and, by the way, we couldn't come back without counseling and approval from him. I just laughed when I heard that. Talk about an ego-tripper and control-freak. No, we never did want to go back.
Thanks for your website. I've enjoyed visiting from time to time. So sorry to hear about Jake. He was a great kid.
Sincerely, --Former PCG member
Comment: Read the following testimonies:
Run From Death That Resides in the PCG! (mentions how Craig's son, Jake, died)NOTICE: Following are emails concerning the alleged suicide of Georgina Sanders (member of PCG:
July 15, 2003
Find out why Georgina Sanders, wife of Gregory Sanders, allegedly took her life a few weeks ago, according to Craig Winters' congregation. No one is talking. Chino congregation is under Winters' thumb and very controlled. One version is pills, other is gun (gun in a PCG household?).
Greg has now taken off to Canada and left the son with friends and yet there is no reference about it in any paper. Why flee to Toronto and leave 15 year old son there? Mom loved son dearly. Anyone will vouch that. They reside at [removed] in Apple Valley, CA.
A memorial only, not a funeral, was held by Craig Winters. No obituary found in papers yet. (Why not funeral??)
Maybe Apple Valley authorities will know.
Greg Sanders was Winters' clone and puppet. Worked for San Bernardino county in welfare dept. in Victorville.
All that was said happened on Friday 1:30am (Sabbath!!?)
Wonder what Edmond headquarters has to say!
Very, very strange. --Anonymous
More Info on Suicide:
July 15, 2003
It was confirmed suicide by gun!! June 13, 2003, at home. --Anonymous
Georgina Sanders Did Not Fit a Suicide Profile:
July 16, 2003
I hope the truth is revealed about why Mrs. Sanders died. Craig Winters controls his wife and kids and takes the approach to his group that either they handle the home life situations that arise, or he will. The men are encouraged to browbeat and dominate their wives with fear and fury or they are considered spineless.
Mrs. Sanders did not fit a suicide profile as evidenced by her extreme love for her son. I hope this will open up not just that particular dark injustice, nor the local coven in Chino, but split the whole synagogue of Satan right up to the pearly gates of Edmond. --A brother
Georgina Sanders Had to Be Very Desperate:
July 16, 2003
I was deeply sadden and shocked by the news of Georgina's death. I was a close friend of hers until I was disfellowshipped. She was a great woman and a devoted mother. It is hard to believe that she would commit suicide knowing she would leave her son motherless. She had to be so very desperate.
One day she broke down and cried on my shoulder concerning her problems with her husband, Greg. It seems when he wasn't preparing for a sermonette, he was forever on the computer e-mailing someone. Georgina told me that Greg had his own password and wouldn't divulge it to her. The more she tired to communicate with him the more distant he became. She started loosing weight and was always upset. Greg told her not to involve the "church " with their problems. Being a PCG wife she obeyed. And now I hear Greg is traveling to Canada without his son?
Does anyone have the police report?
When are the "dumb sheep," as HWA was known to call the members behind closed doors, going to wake up? Why don't they look up files at the LA archives and find out just who their " Elijah" is.
Also, who are we to believe when our Creator says in Deut. 18:22: "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." How many more prophesies are you to wait to come to past? --S. P. (Former member of PCG)
PCG Members Cut Off Relations With Family Outside:
July 18, 2003
A member of my family has been involved for a number of years with the Philadelphia Church of God (The Key of David - Gerald Flurry).
Ever since [my relative] joined this organization, our relations progressively deteriorated to the point that today practically no contact exists between us.
This has been extremely painful to me.
Respectfully, --N. N.
Money Controlled by Headquarters:
August 21, 2003
When I was in PCG, some people had been giving their third tithe money directly to widows with children, elderly people, or people with long-term health problems because they knew the PCG was not helping them. Then the ministers told them, "You are not to do that, because only ministers are qualified to determine who is truly deserving of third tithe money" and "You could be interfering with a person's opportunity to grow because God has given them by endowing them with hardships." This was just another way to make sure the money was controlled by headquarters. --Former PCG member
Much to Learn and Unlearn After PCG:
August 26, 2003
My husband just in the last few weeks has discovered that there is no third resurrection. He is totally amazed that it is so plain that there are only two resurrections mentioned in the Bible. He also just recently discovered that being a Christian is about how you act toward each other instead of just keeping all the laws. You know I never realized that he didn't understand that. So much to learn and unlearn after being in PCG. --Former PCG members
Don't Need HWA Lifted Up:
September 18, 2003
I found significant problems with Mystery Of The Ages when I read it. HWA was so wrong on some scientific matters that it raised questions with me as to how he could be so wrong in those areas and "so correct with spiritual matters." Remember how he thought this book would become part of the sacred scriptures?
For one thing, he had such a lack of understanding of animals, such underestimation of them, that no such error would ever become Scripture, as he hinted they would. We don't need HWA lifted up after the deceptions and other outright abuses we've endured over the years. --Exiter
Getting Rejected by PCG is a Form of Punishment:
October 26, 2003
When you discover the true God, you oftentimes do get rejected by PCG. It is a form of punishment to bring you back in line with their way of thinking. The true blue followers of God can let the group go and find new friends. I had to find out the hard way that people in "the world" were okay to associate with. But much the same as any other thing, you have to select who and what to tolerate in your life. The type of people you choose to be around is up to you. But there are a lot of good people out there that are not in the "churches of God." And I quote because I don't think God has much to with the Armstrong Empire. It is all a big lie. Thank you so much for all of your dedication to this website. It has been a tremendous help to many people. --CT
Thanks for Warning About Gerald Flurry:
November 10, 2003
On Sunday morning I found Gerald Flurry and he sounded so knowledgeable. He offered a book on the end times and I wrote down the web address and also the phone number, intending to order it.
I am so glad I looked on the web to find out more before I called and got the book he talked about. Surely, I don't need any wrong teaching. Thank you for your warning.
I know that Herbert W. Armstrong was very controversial and his son Garner Ted Armstrong said once that hell is not even mentioned in the Bible. That is when I knew he was a liar. You see I am a Bible reader--but just think of the countless others that are not and believed the lie--or lies--these kinds of "ministers" tell.
It does make a difference what we believe.
The only cure is for people to read the Word of God and pray for discernment to know the truth, and or lies, when they hear them.
Thank you for the information. --J.
Cannot Become Member Unless You Believe HWA was End-time Elijah:
December 8, 2003
When we first went to the PCG, John Amos asked my husband if he believed HWA was the end time Elijah and of course he said yes. Flurry would brag at that time that they would ask potential members this question and if they said no they were not invited to services. This was very well known in the PCG. In the summer of 2001, Flurry gave a sermon refuting a sermon given by Rod Meredith who said that you could not go to the PCG unless you believed that HWA was the end time Elijah. Flurry claimed in the sermon that Meredith didn't know what he was talking about and that the PCG had never had that requirement. I was in complete disbelief because that was such a lie. But I'm very thankful for that particular "lie" because that was when I started questioning other things with the PCG.
As of the time I left in 2002, I think PCG was claiming that you did not have to believe HWA was the end time Elijah but then they would qualify that with, "but we don't know why you would want to be in the PCG if you didn't." I have heard that Flurry is requiring members to believe that he is "That Prophet." He definitely preaches that he is "That Prophet" and then says why would anyone stay if they disagreed with that?
I suppose like anything else in the PCG, depending on who you are and how bad they want to keep your tithe money, they will allow you to believe anything you want. --Former WCG/PCG member
PCG Hires Top Attorneys:
December 20, 2003
It's too bad that PCG has so much money that they can afford to hire "top of the line attorneys" to keep the law off their backs! But one way or another, their judgment will come someday. --Impacted by PCG