Exit and Support Network

Letters to Author, Janis Hutchinson

Written during the new changes in Worldwide Church of God

 

Letter #1 from Kelly Marshall (ESN):

[all emphasis ours]:

December 4, 1995

Dear Ms. Hutchinson,

Thank you so much for answering my correspondence. Please don't feel pressured to answer all my questions quickly. I know you are a very busy person. I'm just grateful for your ministry of helping cultists because there's a great need (unfortunately) for this type of ministry. I have further information that I would like to add to the first package I sent. I apologize that the first letter was lacking in detail. I wanted to go further on some of the information, but I have [children], which makes any spare time limited.

I wrote to the Personal Freedom Outreach that was referenced in your book and I received a pamphlet about HWA and the WCG. Please notice the underlined sentences on Page 4 of this pamphlet. This pamphlet was printed long before we were informed through The Worldwide News1 that the teaching of British-Israelism was being dropped. The second topic about Christ being resurrected into his own body puzzled me. I never even heard of this change. My question is: Is the Church telling the cult-watchers one thing just to pacify them, and teaching the followers something else? (I'm not trying to be suspicious. I feel guilty for even asking such a question). Or is it just taking its time about announcing this new change since we've been hit with so many changes? I want to believe that the WCG is being honest about the changes, but sometimes I think I'm seeing discrepancies. I'm just not sure whether they are imagined or real. (I guess I'm really doubting my judgment because I've heard so many arguments coming from both sides).

Enclosed are two Member letters received by members and co-workers who support the WCG financially. I have underlined the sentences that I have questions about. We were told that Tithing is no longer required, and offerings, etc. are all voluntary. Are we being gently persuaded to give or coerced? I recall one member letter that said, "...even though tithing is voluntary, most people continue to tithe and some people are giving even more than 10%..."  Sayings like this really confuse me. Is tithing no longer required, or is it? And we still receive Holy Day offering envelopes in the mail for the Holy Days (which are also no longer required--so why are we keeping them? Is it really possible to keep them with new meaning in Christ or is this just another cult tactic to keep us where we are?)

I have enclosed more copies of The Worldwide News for your further examination. I have highlighted parts of articles that I have questions about.

Page 3 in the March 7th issue: It states that the church believes that HWA was a minister of Jesus Christ. Many of us cannot understand HOW he could be a minister of Christ since he taught us so much error. Our reasoning goes like this:

  1. Why did God send Jesus to die for us and free us from the bondage of the Old Testament laws (and the apostles spent quite a bit of their ministry speaking out against the Judaism that kept creeping back into the Church) just to raise up an apostle, 1850 years later, to lead us back into the bondage of Old Testament laws again, just to free us again in order to teach us a lesson? It seems too bizarre. But yet this is what we are being told--that it was a good lesson for us to learn.
  2. Could it be that HWA never was an apostle (or minister) of Jesus Christ? After all, isn't keeping the law to earn our salvation (we were to "qualify" for the Kingdom) a form of Anti-Christ? (We won't even go into all the other errors that were taught to us as absolute "truth").
  3. Why would God raise up the only "true" apostle to deliver us the message against the personage of the Holy Spirit (it was supposed to be the power of God, not a Holy being)? Isn't denying the Holy Spirit nothing short of blasphemy? Why would the only true apostle cause us to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?
  4. If what we are learning now is the truth and it completely contradicts the teachings of HWA, doesn't that mean that he taught us lies?

Page 5, April 4th: "These changes are of God..."Are these changes in the church really of God, or are they just a result of the snowball effect of doctrinal errors being exposed once truth comes to light? And by saying that the changes are of God, aren't they implying to the membership that we are still the "elite"--that God is working with us only? (I had a friend of mine say, "Tell me what other Church that God is working with and is willing to change when it's shown that it's wrong? I don't see God working to correct these other Churches!" I had another friend say, "For whatever reason, God is weeding out His Church!" when I revealed to her that I wanted to leave. (Thanks! I love being called a weed!) Another friend of mine said her friend told her "When all the legalists and people like you (people who question) leave the Church, then God will finally start blessing us again!" I still see that many people think that we are still "THE Church," but now they're willing to admit that "there's probably a 'real' Christian here or there in the other denominations." (In other words, "there are real Christians in other denominations," not "other denominations are Christian.")

Page 3, April 25th: "Why these changes in our church?" Good question. And of course we are being paralleled with the early New Testament church in its beginning stages. Isn't this misleading? Aren't these changes a result of Mr. Armstrong's errors not being able to stand against the truth of the Holy Scriptures? I find nothing "astonishing" about this article! (Pardon my cynicism).

Page 5, December 27th: "It's as if some may have never realized what the gospel really is and are now becoming upset ...because the Church is teaching it..." "...Some have felt that the real meat of the word is understanding the identity of modern nations and "getting out the warning message" about the rise of the beast power in Europe and the destruction of the United States ...Can't we see that this is not the gospel?" How can we see that this wasn't the real gospel when we had been taught all these years that it was???

Page l, June 6th: Just thought you'd like some additional information from Mr. Tkach's personal about the Holy days and our observing them in the "New Testament" form.

Page 3, July 4th: I know the early church had its flaws, but they didn't have the New Testament to refer to as we do today. The WCG never even came close to the teachings of the early church, so why are they even comparing and equating us with the N.T. church? And aren't they using Christ to make us feel guilty for feeling any anger against them? Or am I just imagining this? They keep saying "we the church" as if we the members had some part in this wrongdoing. I heard a sermon this last Sabbath that talked about a man that umpired our ballgames that wasn't in the church. He loved doing it because the Church people were so pleasant, but he said he never felt accepted by us. So "we the church" were at fault again. But who told us to "...come out of this world..." and "...be ye separate, my people..." and "God hasn't called these other people yet" and other such catch phrases to make us separated from others? Isn't it "they" "the Headquarters that demanded these actions from us and now "they" the Headquarters are faulting "we the Church" for being obedient?

I have used this analogy: Mr. Jones was abusing his wife. He was so controlling that he decided her every move: Who her friends would be, what she should wear, etc. He cut her off from her family and felt entitled to her paycheck. He even denied her medical care when she needed it and, as a result, she lost her eye. One day this Mr. Jones woke up and realized he had been wrong. So he apologizes to her and says, "Honey, we the Joneses have been wrong. We've been too hard on you and we the Joneses need to change. You can do whatever you want to now, because we know that we've been wrong." Is my observation accurate or am I being unforgiving by feeling that the church should apologize to the membership for all the pain and suffering it had caused? I find it hard to be forgiving when there really hasn't been an apology.

My final question is: Do you have any contacts with other cult-watch agencies that publish cult books (Josh McDowell, Dr. Walter Martin, etc.)? I would like to explain the WCG tithing system thoroughly and accurately because the information found in many cult publications are inaccurate and I've known people to discredit all of the information given in these books because "if they don't have the tithing information correct, how can the rest of the information be true?" So if you can pass this information on, please do. If you can't, I will try to contact these people myself on this matter.

We were taught the following about tithing:

1st Tithe: This is 10% of a person's gross (not net) income that must be sent to Headquarters. It is used to preach the gospel and finance "the Work."

2nd Tithe: This is 10% of a person's gross income that must be saved to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall. It is used to cover all personal expenses incurred during the Feast. Excess 2nd tithe can also be used to supplement Holy Day Offerings taken up during the Feast. This tithe can also be used for the other Holy Days to purchase a meal at a restaurant providing that it will not prevent you from saving enough for use at the Feast of Tabernacles. After the Feast, any remaining 2nd tithe must be turned in to Headquarters (yes, believe it or not!) and 2nd tithe must be saved all over again for the coming year. An exception to this rule may be the following: 1.) If the person was ill and could not attend the Feast, the 2nd tithe could be carried over the next year. 2.) If the person has never attended any other Festival site other than their assigned site and a carry over of 2nd tithe would help them to attend a distant site (but this must be approved by your minister and must happen rarely).

Tithe of the 2nd Tithe: 10% of your 2nd tithe (yes, believe it or not!) must be sent in to Headquarters to cover the cost of running the Feast of Tabernacles.

3rd Tithe: This one is a little tricky. There's supposed to be a seven year cycle and in the 3rd year and the 6th year of that cycle, 10% of your gross income must be sent to Headquarters to provide for the widows and orphans. The seventh year is a Sabbath and after that "year of rest" is over, then the seven year cycle starts all over again. (Special Note: I was appalled when I was told of a family in our congregation who received 3T assistance only to receive a bill from Headquarters to pay it back!!!) [Read: Third Tithe- Where Did it Really Go?]

Holy Day Offerings: These offerings are taken up seven times a year during the Holy Days (The First Day of Unleavened Bread, the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day) and are in addition to (yes, believe it or not!) the tithes.

So I hope this will help outsiders understand that the "30% plus occurred only on selected years, not every year as some publications seem to imply.

In conclusion, many people in the Church think that Mr. Tkach is on the right track and that God is leading him in the right direction. They think that God has forgiven our errors and we must forget the past and go on. Are they right? Am I being too knit-picky, suspicious and unforgiving? Or do I owe it to Jesus Christ to get as far away from this cult as I can?

Would God work through a cult if they are really sincere about making changes? I never want to doubt God's power, but I'm having doubts about the people in charge.

I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for your taking the time to help me. I will be patiently awaiting your answer. Thanks again!

Sincerely,

Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™

Letter #2:

[all emphasis ours]:

December 15, 1995

Janis Hutchinson
P.O. Box 374
Everett, WA 98206-0374

Dear Janis,

Hi! It was great hearing from you again. Thank you for taking such a deep interest in the WCG and my situation. I really appreciate your support. At this rate, you're going to be an expert on WCG doctrines! (Ha! Ha!) I have so many things to ask you (as usual).

Much has happened since my last letter. … It's such a relief to be a "whole" family again and to be able to go forward with my life. The good news is that everyone in our support group has been successfully planted into mainstream churches (no one has gone into another cult group). We're all so grateful. Sometimes I marvel how none of us has become bitter over all of this. We're all just so happy and thankful to be out. The feeling of freedom is incredible!

It really dismays me to think that we are being labeled as "angry" and "bitter" (among other categories we've been placed in). Those who have gone into the United Church of God (UCG) have been labeled "legalists" and "Judaizers." Why all the labeling? Isn't this just using intimidation to keep everyone in place? Those of us in our group have not contacted others, or tried to "lead them astray." My two best friends have totally abandoned me. (After 12 years of friendship, my friend looked at me and said coldly, "For some reason, God is weeding out His Church!" I later found this same statement made by JWT [Joseph W. Tkach] in one of his Personals in the WWN [Worldwide News]). It hurt, but I understand their mindset and they're just doing to me what I've been guilty of doing to others in the past. Once a person exits the WCG, what we say is no longer considered "credible." (Please examine The Good News article entitled, "What do Dissidents and Ex­-Members Fill Their Minds With?") This is the mindset of the members in the WCG. And it is still in place today.

Janis, I know the WCG has "Christian" status now, but I don't feel it is deserved--not yet anyway. I really don't understand what the big rush to pronounce them "Christian" is all about. Do you? It's like pronouncing an alcoholic "cured" before he finishes his counselling and rehabilitation. I know the WCG is talking the "talk" but shouldn't they be given a few years to "prove" themselves first? I can't help but wonder if the Christian Community may be a bit naÏve when it comes to dealing with cults (as you pointed out in your book how many Christians/ministers don't know how to deal with ex-cultists).

I find it interesting that you should mention Mr. Greg Albrecht. I am familiar with Mr. Albrecht as a high-profile minister at Headquarters. I do not want to make judgments toward someone I don't personally know, but I wonder if your book helped Mr. Albrecht so much, WHY HASN'T IT BEEN RECOMMENDED TO THE MEMBERS FOR READING???? Do they want you to remove that statement about HWA, AND THEN suggest it for reading? I don't want to be paranoid, but I don't want to be naÏve about this either. Ruth Tucker, author of the book, Another Gospel, was featured in The Plain Truth magazine. Strangely enough, of all her publications, Another Gospel (which featured the WCG) was not mentioned. Why?

I have also observed that many of the WCG doctrines have been changed subtly through The Plain Truth magazine, so they would not have to deal with admitting the errors to the membership. One such example is the "Gap Theory." We were taught by HWA that the earth was created millions of years ago but was destroyed by Satan's rebellion. "The earth became without form and void" until God recreated it 6,000 years ago (thus explaining why Evolutionists and Creationists cannot agree because both were partially correct). We were taught that these unknown "truths" were revealed to HWA through the Bible. It was expounded upon in great detail in The Incredible Human Potential and the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, and among many of their publications. It wasn't until I read the article in The Plain Truth magazine (March `94 issue, article entitled: "The Battle Over Genesis 1") that I became flabbergasted when I discovered that this theory had been around since 1909 through the Scofield Bible!! But what really disturbed me was the way the WCG disassociated themselves as promoters of that specific doctrine. And even more disturbing was the response I received from other members when I asked them about the "Gap Theory." "The what?" was the usual response. I then proceeded to explain it, and inquire, "Didn't you read that in the recent PT [Plain Truth] magazine?" The usual response was, "Yea, I think I recall reading something like that" accompanied by a puzzled look followed by the comment, "So?" Somehow, they didn't seem to make the connection. I can't help but feel that if this doctrinal change had been printed in The Worldwide News, you-know-what would hit the fan. The members would start to realize that HWA plagiarized his doctrines.

They also used this tactic when they changed the "Healing Doctrine"2, the "British-Israelism Doctrine," the "Health, Wealth and Prosperity Gospel," the "Gospel of Works," the "Confrontational Gospel," the "End-Time Gospel" and a host of others that HWA dogmatically taught. They have retracted their errors through generic statements, absolving themselves of any accountability, or they try to share the blame with "many other Christians" or "We the Church." I can't help but feel that your PT interview may be a further set-up (again, I'm not trying to be paranoid, just cautious). No WCGer believes that they're in a cult. We've been told for years that the word cult just means "culture" and that we're part of "God's culture"--we dress, eat and act the way God's culture wants us to do, so we shouldn't be surprised that people think that we're a cult. They've also made jokes in the PT about the definition of a cult: "The church down the street from yours." So if your interview does appear in the PT, the average WCGer will not make the connection. (I am willing to gamble that the article won't appear until you change the statements in your book). They will read the article and think that it applies to someone in the Moonies, not to them, and they will not investigate any further into your book. 

The WCG has many excellent writers that could easily make things clear to us. Sometimes they seem to be taking one step forward and two steps backwards. I know you said that Philip Arnn said that the ministers are "preaching fluff" until they can understand the new doctrines, but does "fluff" have to include the members being ridiculed or shamed for their lack of understanding? When they adopted the Trinity doctrine, they made it so complicated and confusing that nobody could understand it. They played a tape by Dr. Stavrinides3 (a high ranking Greek evangelist) and he told about a woman who inquired, "I thought there was God the Father, and Jesus Christ the Son." He then, in a most condescending, incredulous voice said, "...I was APPALLED at her LACK OF UNDERSTANDING! Why, that's polytheism--belief in two Gods!!!!" (How could he be appalled when that's what they taught us?) I remember several of us looking at each other, all thinking the same thing, "But I thought the same thing the lady thought....!" and we all looked away with embarrassment, feeling guilty about our ignorance. He also said that the Greeks had the right understanding of the Trinity all along (because the N.T. is written in Greek). So why didn't Dr. Stavrinides tell HWA that he was wrong all this time? And why did he wait seven years after HWA's death before saying anything? Don't you think this is strange? (And now he's completely disappeared. Nobody's heard anything from him4).

(A few weeks later, I took a poll in the Mother's Room and asked everyone, "Does anyone understand the new "Nature of God" doctrine [notice I didn't say "Trinity"]? It was as if I broke a code of silence. Every person admitted, "No, not at all!" and we were all relieved to know that somebody else was just as confused as we were. The tension was incredible, but once we all talked about it, the feeling of relief was evident. We all felt that it wasn't important to know the "details." What mattered was our relationship with God. A few weeks later an elder gave a sermon saying that we better stop brushing off the "nature of God," and get to know the new doctrine in order to know God more deeply. Talk about a guilt trip).

I would also like to add that the people who are holding onto the HWA's teachings have all joined the United Church of God (or one of the other splinter groups). Those remaining in the WCG are ready to go forward, but we are being held back. When they keep saying that, "Some people think the changes are coming too fast..." BALONEY! The people that don't want to change have already gone into the splinter groups. Those remaining are trying to grasp the New Covenant, but I feel the confusion is caused by re-introduction of the old covenant with New Covenant terminology, complete with their redefinitions.

We were also told that obeying all the laws and commandments was "ignorant and stupid." So you see Janis, even though there are changes in doctrine, the way it's being implemented really disturbs me. The blame is being shifted onto the members and I can't go along with that. Where is the mercy, love and patience of Christ? We lived in fear of being disfellowshipped if we didn't go along with it, and now we are being blamed for being obedient. Aren't these all still the same old "cult controls"? There are so many confused people, and little has been done (such as recommending your book) to alleviate the problem. We've been given freedom to "think--but don't think too much lest you be led astray!" is the undercurrent. The WCG has become a dog on an 8-foot chain, instead of a 2-foot chain. 

I would also like to quote The Worldwide News and Plain Truth articles which continue to make me suspicious. The November 14th WWN issue ran an article in Joe Tkach, Jr.'s Personal called, "Restoring good relations within the body of Christ." The article starts out sounding good, and then deviates in its apology. It tries to drag other churches in with them. Quoting from the article on page 4 (bolding my emphasis):

"The Holy Spirit is working today in the body of Christ to heal historic wounds and restore good relations between offenders and offended. This is true not just in our own fellowship but in many others as well."

"...Many Christian groups have recognized a need to repent for those times in history when they or their forebears deviated from the spirit of the gospel, injured others and brought shame upon the name of Christ."

Well, who are these "Many others/many Christian groups" they are referring to? Isn't this the old "Yea, I committed adultery, but so did Mr. Jones" blame-shifting tactic? "...deviated from the spirit of the gospel"--here is another example of downgrading their actions. HWA didn't just "deviate"--he never had the gospel in the first place. He taught heresies. People weren't just injured--innocent people DIED!! But of course this sentence tries to couple "many Christian groups" with HWA in order to minimize his actions.

On Page 15, column entitled "Tithing, moral commitment." I will quote the paragraphs (Underlines my emphasis): "A few employees have asked why they are required to tithe when the church does not require strict tithing as a condition of membership....First, a comment about a misconception that some have about the new covenant. Living under the new covenant, being in Christ, and being freed from the slavery of old covenant requirements does not equate to doing whatever one wants to do ....For Christians, tithing is not a requirement for salvation ...Christian financial stewardship is built upon the old covenant practices of tithing but is different in philosophy and orientation...But Christian stewardship is far more demanding than the old covenant practices of tithes, offerings and sacrifices ....Christian stewardship includes not only the responsibility to give of one's monetary resources, but it also includes the moral demands that the gospel of Jesus Christ places on our time and our talents. Therefore, it is entirely consistent that we would expect our employees who are members of the church to tithe. We expect a high moral behavior that is Christian in every respect ....Tithing is the foundation of Christian stewardship ...(GUILT TACTIC COMING UP)--> Some employees have reasoned the following: "I have not had a raise in a long time; therefore, I will not tithe." In effect, they propose giving themselves a raise. But a Christian is obligated to give ...If an employee does not tithe, we are not making a moral judgment about his or her salvation being adversely affected. We know, and acknowledge, that it is between that person and God..."

Can you see what's going on here? Can you understand what is going on in the average WCGers' mind? Statements like these make us feel guilty for giving any less than 10%, therefore even though the WCG claims that tithing is not required for salvation, it is redefining the term "Christian stewardship" as "tithing plus more." The mainstream churches that I've attended have never in any way coerced me to give nor made me feel inadequate as a Christian if I did not give a certain amount. Can you see that the "cult controls" are still in place in the WCG? This article was intended to make the membership feel guilty because the employees are required to give 10%. We are being chastised for "misconceptions" of thinking independently; therefore, they are correcting these "misconceptions" by once again, dictating how we can be acceptable New Covenant Christians.

On page 12 and 13, article entitled, "Christmas, Is it a Sin?": "Members of the Church are free to celebrate or not to celebrate Christmas ...However, the official practice of the WCG is to exalt and worship our Savior during festivals founded on biblical precedent, rather than on days that entered Christianity after the first century."

So how can they tell us that the O.T. Laws/Commandments are no longer in effect (Sabbath-keeping and Holy Days), but yet continue to keep them? Most people in the WCG will NOT keep Christmas because of this statement "...rather than on days that entered Christianity after the first century" because it smacks of paganism. Don't you think it's rather odd that a church claims to be New Testament/New Covenant but keeps the days of the Old Testament/old covenant?

On Page 17, December 1995 Plain Truth magazine, article "When was Jesus Born?"

"Today, many Christians agree that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25 They acknowledge that shepherds living out in the open fields at night would seem to rule out a December birth date for Jesus ...flocks were brought in from the fields ...by late October. Accordingly, the early autumn seems to be a reasonable inference for the time of Jesus' birth.

Now follows a contradictory statement in the Dec. 5, 1995 Worldwide News, subtitle, "When was Jesus born?":

"Some people have claimed that Jesus was born near the fall festivals. That is possible, but it is not proven. It is not likely that Augustus would risk rebellion by requiring each person to go to his own city at the same time as the local religion required everyone to go to Jerusalem. Many people have objected to the idea that Jesus was born in December, since there were shepherds in their fields, and shepherds didn't normally do that in December. But we must remember that this was not a normal year. Augustus told everyone to go to his own city, but the shepherds had not ...they may have been tax evaders ...Of course this doesn't prove that Jesus was born in December ...but objection to a December birth isn't necessarily conclusive."

Can you see the duplicity going on here? They made the statement that Jesus was probably born in early autumn. To an outsider, that means nothing. To a WCGer, that means Christ was born near the fall festivals (we were taught he was born on the Feast of Trumpets--Rosh Hashanah). But then to turn right around and make a contradictory statement by saying "Some people claim Jesus was born near the fall festivals..." and "It is not likely..." How can they say that when they are the ones claiming it???? It just baffles me to no end. It's no wonder everyone is so confused!

Janis, I know you said that Philip Arnn [Watchman Fellowship] said that the changes in the WCG are sincere, but I have a hard time believing it. I remember your book talked about the "man of words" and the "man of action." HWA was the man of words, and it seems to me that JWT was the man of action. Aren't the changes taking place just a cult in transition after the founder dies? Isn't JWT just restructuring to make the cult more acceptable (like Brigham Young did)?

The new buzzword now is "personal evangelism"--they even had classes at the Feast of Tabernacles called "How to Share Your Faith." Isn't that just a fancy name for recruiting?

Since the WCG has been in decline since HWA's death, doesn't it make sense for them to change their strategy to draw new people in? Even if Philip Arnn is convinced that the changes are "real," shouldn't he wait a few years just to make sure? What does it matter whether the WCG is pronounced "Christian" now, or two years from now? I remember reading a statement made by a cult-expert saying, "One of the major problems in helping a cult to 'rehabilitate' is that it just makes them more clever at hiding the deceptions."

I don't know whether you've had your meeting with Mr. Albrecht or not, but if this letter gets to you in time, could you please ask him these questions for me?

  1. Do you believe in "Once saved, Always saved"? Or do you have to continually "work" for your salvation? If so, what kind of works must one do to have salvation? How many times does a person have to commit a particular sin to "lose" his salvation?
  2. Can you explain the difference between salvation, eternal life, and immortality? Once a person has been given salvation, does he go to Heaven upon his death (Is he given eternal life at that point)? Is man an "immortal soul"? The WCG does not believe that man has an immortal soul. They believe in "soul sleep." They believe in the resurrection of the dead at Christ's return. So to be given salvation or to be "saved" means that you will be resurrected from the grave at Christ's return.
  3. Are other churches "Christian"?
  4. Does the WCG consider HWA a "disciple of Jesus Christ" and why? (See if they still give this answer: They consider him a "disciple" or "minister" of Christ who was merely misunderstood because "he didn't use standard Evangelical terminology," and because he was "an advertising man and obviously stated many things incorrectly"). But of course, HWA had sufficient time in his life to learn evangelical terminology. He knew the English language and was extraordinarily adept at using it to his advantage, he purposely put his own definitions on various theological terms, and he knew that what he taught was contrary to evangelical Christianity and he was proud of it. Remember, HWA attacked the Christian community, not the other way around. I also am discouraged with their approach of "HWA was right, but JWT is more right."
  5. Is the Holy Spirit the power of God, or a Divine Being? What is being done to acknowledge that Being? Does it change the way the WCG worships? Why or why not? (Another point that I have observed--the WCG is "accepting" the new viewpoints (Trinity, Christmas, etc.) not "adopting" them. In other words, they accept that the Trinity as a "sincere attempt at trying to understand the nature of God," but they are not adopting it. We are told to "go on praying as we have always prayed" and that "nothing has changed" (these quotes are from JWT!).
  6. What is being done to compensate for victims who suffered under the HWA regime? What is being done to help the ministry "de-program" (stop the intimidation and control)?
  7. Government Structure: Will local congregations become autonomous? Will the "top-down" church government be abolished?
  8. What is "Personal Evangelism"? What is the purpose of Personal Evangelism? Will the WCG adopt a "discipling" or "shepherding" type format (where new people will be assigned a spiritual "shepherd" to guide them)?

So in conclusion to another one of my usual long letters, I hope you can see and understand why I have a hard time believing that the WCG is for real. Maybe they are, but only time will tell. I hope you are very cautious in your dealings with them. Please don't let them get by with the "Oh, that person's just bitter or angry" excuse, because I'm not. We were one of the lucky ones. All we lost was money, but many have lost their lives.

We want the WCG to become honestly and truly Christian--probably more than anyone because we have so many people we care about still in it. I really want them to come to know the true peace and freedom in Christ.

Gratefully yours,

Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™

P.S. Enclosed is a copy of a letter written by [name withheld] to Watchman Fellowship, voicing his concerns about the WCG's new status.

P.P.S. I have copies of past Worldwide News announcing all the changes in the WCG doctrines. You are welcome to examine them if you wish.

Next: Kelly's final letter to Janis Hutchinson

Pt. 1 | Pt. 2


Update on WCG:

In November 2004 the Worldwide Church of God moved its headquarters from Pasadena to Glendora, California. In April 2009, they changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.) Today they have gone on to embrace New Age Teachers and philosophies. Read: Grace Communion International - New Age and Ecumenical Connections and Letter to Worldwide Church of God, Philippines (On Apostasy--A Radical Proposal) (this letter reached close to 350 WCG ministers, including those at Headquarters).

Related Material:

Has WCG (GCI) whitewashed Herbert W. Armstrong? (for quotes from WCG HQ about HWA)

Worldwide Church of God's Faulty Orthodoxy (especially see links at end)

Is Grace Communion International Still Holding to Some of Herbert Armstrong's Doctrines?

Discernment & Research (covers apostasy and error in Christendom; the church growth movement, etc.)

Footnotes:

1 As of February 2005 The Worldwide News in the United States changed to a new format and the name was changed to WCG Today. In May 2006 it was changed to Together. A few years later Together was no longer available Their magazine is now Christian Odyssey.

2 Although the booklet, Does God Heal Today? was discontinued in 1968, the members were given no new doctrinal advice on how they should approach health care. It wasn't until the late 1980s that a new book on healing was published.

3 Could WCG have picked Stavrinides (who had no real degree in theology) to "explain the Trinity" because he rambled a lot and used mind control techniques? (Note: Since Ambassador College where Stavrinides graduated [AC in Bricket Wood, England], did not receive accreditation until 1994, any degrees given during that time were worthless; i. e., not acknowledged. See comments for p. 56 in Myths in Transformed by Truth - Is the book truth or propaganda?)  Read this part in OIU Newsletter Vol. 1 for more info about Dr. Stavrinides.

4 After leaving WCG, Stavrinides relocated to Greece with what was understood to be a "fat bonus." (Read this part in OIU 2, pt. 2 about it.) He later became a Greek professor at Azusa Pacific University, which is considered to be a theologically liberal institution and a member of Willow Creek Association. (Azusa was also where many top leaders in the WCG were quietly attending in the `70s without the members' awareness. Read about it in OIU 6, pt. 2).


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