Exit and Support Network

We Were Told We Were Rebellious

My husband was in the Worldwide Church of God for about twenty years total. Then after leaving WCG (about 3 years later) went on to Philadelphia Church of God. I was in the PCG for 2 1/2 yrs., without any prior experience with the WCG. (Thank God).

We were introduced through a mutual friend. Although we never met personally, before the feast, we knew quite a bit about each other prior to meeting. We met at a "feast site" in Colorado. We spoke during breaks and during sermons and at functions. The eighth night of the feast we went on a date. We knew that we had a lot in common and wanted to start writing to each other.

We started to e-mail each other sometimes twice a day or more. We learned that we had much in common. I, Sandy, was pretty close friends with the Winters, and told them that Jerry said he was smitten with me. Colleen told me to slow down and stated that she was worried about me. She asked me if Craig Winters knew about this. Not the response that I thought she was going to say. I was expecting a more friendlier jester that maybe she was happy for me. I did not date for the first year at all after joining the WCG so I could catch up on the "truths" that I didn't know.

Well I, Sandy, told Craig Winters that I wanted to start dating Jerry who lived about 400 miles away. He said fine, but take it slow. Well we were seeing each other every weekend. Jerry also spent ten days in my area, so we could talk and get to know each other better. We knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and were both committed to God and the "Work."

Our first meeting of counseling we were told that we had to slow down and he (Craig) was not sure about us. He told my husband that he knew me and doesn't know him (Jerry) quiet well and felt as though he (Craig) was my spiritual father. He told us that we did not have his permission to be engaged. That is when Jerry told him, we are engaged and we are going to stay engaged. Craig looked at me and said something to this effect, Sandy are you going to make my job easier and wait? I told him that I would do everything to make his job easier but would still be engaged. Craig called me that week to reinforce what my attitude should be, and that I was being rebellious if I did anything but wait for his approval.

We told Craig that according to Herbert Armstrong we didn't need anyone's approval to be married--as stated in this Plain Truth article as follows:

Personal from the Editor
September 1966 Plain Truth:

ONE OF THE PROBLEMS that continually comes up on all three Ambassador College campuses is ROMANCE. Actually, this is a problem category that helps keep Mrs. Armstrong young. She is Guidance Counselor for women at all three campuses. Most of the girls come to her for counsel and advice. Their problems are not always romance, of course. But out of hundreds of girls, mostly of ages between eighteen and twenty-two, you may be sure that many are concerned with matters of love and marriage.

Let me hasten to say that we most certainly do not REQUIRE that students obtain faculty or ministerial permission to marry. Frequently a male student will come to me, and say, "Mr. Armstrong, I would like your permission to become engaged."

I smile. "You're not required to have my permission," I assure him.  "Yes, I know," the student will answer, "but I'd like to counsel with you about it, if I may."

At the request of the student, we are always happy to have students come to us for counsel. On each campus there is an ordained minister, who is also a faculty member, who is Guidance Counselor for men. But some students will come to me, or to Garner Ted Armstrong, for counsel and advice.

[End of Quote from The Plain Truth]

As you see, according to Herbert Armstrong, we did not need anyone's permission.1 Craig Winters' reply to this was that we were rebellious. Winters said that Gerald Flurry was well aware that Herbert Armstrong changed his mind about this and instructed the ministry accordingly but never put it into writing. Now, PCG goes by what Flurry remembers.

On that bases we were talked into starting counseling and given some papers to fill out. When we looked at the materials given to us we were shocked to learn that the materials were so carnal and much that of secular counseling. One of the papers stated that the answers to the question were to find out other information other than the obvious answers. It had questions asking how to solve spending Christmas with one in-law opposed to the other side of the family. Does God counsel with deceitful questions? We inquired about having direct personal counseling instead of going through with the proposed plan. We were turned down and told again how rebellious we were.

Jerry wrote Craig a letter with quotes from Herbert Armstrong about not needing permission to be married. Craig said that every line of the letter showed rebellion and selfishness. One can surmise from his statement that Armstrong must have showed rebellion and selfishness because most of it was quotes form documentations from Plain Truth magazines or other sources from HWA publications. One day Craig told me that it's funny that Jerry decided to get married again after a bad marriage. Craig told me that Jerry said he would never get married again. I asked Jerry about the conversation he and Craig had and he said it never took place. Who do you believe? There were many other comments said that were not Christ-like.

We married. When we told Craig, he told us that he would get back to us. When he called, we were at The International House of Pancakes eating breakfast. Jerry left the table and took the cell phone to the lobby of the restaurant. When he got back, he told me that we were on suspension for six months and had to repent. How do you repent of being married? We panicked. This meant that we were not to be with Brethren for the Holy Days that were approaching.

We began to question. How could a church that was supposed to be an offshoot of the "Apostle" change doctrine? Other issues that weren't satisfactorily answered were the question of eating out on the Sabbath. I tried to show Craig where it states in the Bible about not selling or buying. His response was, after many discussions, either you believe HWA was the last day Elijah or you don't. Remember HWA had authority to loose or unloosen. This is when we really started doing our homework.

I went to the Los Angeles Court to look up court records associated with HWA. What a shocking experience. The papers showed where HWA gave monies to several people including family members. They were put on annual salaries for a lifetime, fifty grand a year for doing nothing. Members were supporting his whims. He gave expensive gifts to foreign diplomats. Buying his way for a pat on the back, and publicity for the sake of gaining influence over members. For the "Work" of course. He admitted himself that most of the time he didn't share God's word. Exchanging silence for money so that his ex-wife would not go public about his incest. [This is mentioned in the New Times Los Angeles story, Honey, I Shrunk the Church] HWA taught keeping yourself until marriage, but he slept with Ramona Martin for a long period before they were married. Exempt because he was the Elijah? 

We started looking at another source forbidden by members: dissident literature. Well we had to step out of our comfort zone and admit that we were in a cult and not God's Church. Ouch!!

You may use our names; we are not ashamed to stand for Christ. But we are ashamed of those who place themselves between Christ and the believer. How does one get into God's church? By professing that HWA is the last day Elijah? Not so!! And we are ashamed that we ever did. No, there is no other name! Acts 4:12: "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved." Yet even today one is not allowed to go to a PCG service without stating, "I believe that Herbert W. Armstrong is the last day Elijah."

By Jerry and Sandy Patterson (Former members of WCG and PCG)
July 24, 2000

UPDATE: Craig Winters No Longer a Minister (April 22, 2013 letter to ESN)

Footnote by ESN:

1 HWA was known to use double-speak in his writings, along with stretching the truth. For instance, while he stated that couples weren't "required" to have permission to marry, he expected them to counsel ahead of time. In this 1966 Plain Truth editorial HWA went on to say, "Out of a few hundred marriages that have resulted from campus life at Ambassador, there has so far been only one divorce--that that happened to a marriage made against our advice. One other, also made in spite of our adverse counsel, came to a temporary separation--but this couple apparently learned their lesson and went back together." "But, on the other hand, so far as we know, EVERY marriage which had the approval of our counselors has been a successful and happy union. Not all have counseled with faculty members by any means, but many have. And, as far as we know, our counsel has proved close to 100 percent right." [bolding mine] Nevertheless, all of this is for the purpose of controlling the person's life.

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