Exit and Support Network

OIU Volume Three


Volume THREE. A newsletter of understanding ... Spring `96

Published by the Exit & Support Network™
All Rights Reserved ©


VOLUME THREE contents:

OIU 1 | OIU 2 | OIU 3 | OIU 4 | OIU 5 | OIU 6

Next to OIU 3, pt. 2 of 5


A year ago this past May, I looked outside the window in my office and admired the spring flowers all in bloom. As the Exit & Support Network™ (ESN) was in the startup phase, I was just too preoccupied to visit the garden very often and enjoy the outdoors. I thought to myself, next year I won't be so busy. Next year is here and my previous thoughts stand corrected, as the ESN is busier then I could have ever contemplated.

Since the last OIU, events have been unfolding like dominos collapsing on themselves. New information finds its way to the ESN daily, as do many of the one time dedicated WCG members in search of truth. As demands to the ESN stack up, we strive to maintain our goal in providing assistance to exiters. The OIU could be published monthly without delay if all we did was compile the information and report it. However, other aspects demand our time. Our phone line rings daily with first time callers, the mail has increased with requests for help or information, the research continues and the ESN affiliates grow, while we pursue education and networking through conferences. Through it all, we make it our point to stay in touch with the exiters, the professionals and the current events.

Special recognition goes to many who actively participate in the ESN endeavor. Since last spring the ESN has aided hundreds during their exiting process. Many affiliates took an active role in that process by talking with exiters, or supplying information to them. Some have sponsored the OIU for their friends remaining inside. Being able to reach out to those in need has not only been therapeutic in personal healing, but as those who participate find out, it is very rewarding to know your efforts have made a positive difference in another life.

We've been on the go

Thomas and Lavonne Holshouser of the WCG South Eastern Resource Network and other family members attended a conference on cults in Charlotte NC, entitled "Cults in America." Janja Lalich, author of Captive Hearts, Captive Minds and Ron Enroth*, author of Churches That Abuse [and Recovering From Churches That Abuse], were key speakers discussing topics related to cults and how they are infiltrating society. The Holshousers shared lunch with Ron Enroth while they discussed the changes in the WCG and how the WCG compares to other groups making moves toward evangelism and discipling.* Lavonne states, "The conference was so helpful, especially with understanding Mind Control and how all the cults function so similarly."

[Note: *Discussed on "From Cult to Church: The Quest for Acceptance," audio by Dr. Ron Enroth, 1994.]

Another conference on mind control took place in Dallas, Texas in late March. I attended this three day educational symposium and had the opportunity to meet with several experts. They were professionals who have studied the areas of cult abuse and mind control. This particular conference offered an advance view of the topics mentioned and outlined the prevalent cult related problems in our society.

Several WCG exiters attended a NY Cult Awareness conference in New York. The timely theme of this day-long seminar was on Apocalyptic Cults. We heard from experts and researchers in the area of Aryan race (British-Israelism followers), extremist groups and Bible-based groups that expose the apocalyptic belief system. As the WCG fits that category snugly, the attendees gained much understanding from the speakers. The WCG ex-members were mostly from the New York area with one hailing from Missouri. I personally had a great time meeting up with individuals I had met through their contact with the ESN. After the conference, we ate, chatted and laughed, until we had to depart.

The ESN research also extended to New Hampshire on a fact finding and observation journey visiting the New Hampshire Patriot/Militia meeting. While the ESN takes NO position with the movement, it strives to clarify the facts --agenda-- and direction of the highly, recently publicized organization in relation to the Constitution and proposed government control. (Cults have much to do with both.) Some WCG exiters tend to be attracted to extremist organizations eliciting a strong cause. Understanding the mind-set helps us to relate more clearly to the exiter of the WCG. The OIU is about research; armchair assertions cannot accurately portray the reasons behind the events.

For all the concerned ESN supporters.... don't worry, I am taking the time to smell the flowers, too!

Update (1/97): Since the writing of this OIU, the ESN has obtained information pertaining to Cult Awareness Network that exposes associations and goals not compatible with the ESN mission. [Notice: CAN was bankrupted by Scientology and today is staffed by its operatives. More information on CAN is contained in this offsite report.]

AS The Whirlwide Turns™, Part Three

The following list of ministers have been disfellowshipped with credentials evoked and were listed in a notice from Joe Tkach, Jr. to the remaining ministers: [NOTE: There are 168 ministers on this list.]

Colin Adair
Dean Wilson
Doug Winnail
Ray Wooten
Dibar Apartian
John Bald
Alton Billingsley
Tony Bosserman
Steve Buchanan
David Burson
Herbert Cisneros
Robert Dick
Roy Dove
Wayne Dunlap
Rob Elliott
Roger Foster
Jim Franks
Lambert Greer
Vernon Hargrove
David Havir
Roy Holladay
Don Hooser;
Doug Horchak
Noel Horner
David Hulme
Bill Jacobs
William Jahns
Victor Kubik
Saul Langarica
Ellis LaRavia
Dennis Luker
Ken Martin
Burk McNair
Rand Millich
David Mills
Steve Moody
Dave Myers
Hadden Pace
Richard Pinelli
Camilo Reyes
Larry Roybal
Robert Peoples
Carl Sable
Dan Salcedo
Stuart Segall
Mario Seiglie
Jim Servido
Rex Sexton
Randall Stiver
Guy Swenson
Dick Thompson
Jim Tuck
Leon Walker
Larry Walker
Don Waterhouse
Robin Webber
Ron Weinland
Gerald Weston
Lyle Welty
Additional ministerial exits:
John Orchard
John Elliot
David Register
Lyle Kellog
Robert Jones
Harold Rhodes
Larry Grieder
Melvin Rhodes
Randy Corbenal
Richard Crow
Warren Zehrung
Earl Williams
Pete Michaelson
Ken Treybig
Richard Ames
Darris McNeely
Fred Davis
Richard Dunkin
Thomas Damour
Howard Davis
Steve Lablanc
Gary Petty
Roy Camilo
Clint Zimmerman
Jim Chapman
Dave Clark
Tom Turk
Ken Giese
Eugene Noel
Pablo Gonzolez
Harold Smith
Carlton Smith
Richard Dunlap
Ed Pope
Ron Howe-- (suicide)
Rick Beam
Dave Harold
Randell Stop
Gary Antion
Leroy Neff
Dave Caprice
Bob Douglas
Chuck Zimmerman
William Bradford
Gil Goethals
John Cafourek
Tom Tullis
Roger West
Herb Teitgen
Cary Todd
Dave Treybig
Ken Treybig
Steve Nutzman
John Anderson
Steve Siders
Gerald Seelig
Graemme J. Marshall
Mark Mickelson
Bill Butler
Ron Laughland
Bob League
Charles Bryce
Todd Carey
Tom Clark
Randy D'Alessandra
Roy Demarest
Jack Williams
Steve Elliot
Bruce Gore
Mark Gully
James Haeffele
Dan Hall
Arnold Hampton
Mike Hanisko
Cliff Veall
Doug Johnson
Greg Johnson
Clyde Kilough
Mitchel Knapp
Randel Kebernat
Glen White
Lester Harold
Otto Lochner
Paul Lueke
Mark Welch
Bill Winner
Terry Mattson
Marc Masterson
Frank MacCrady
Al Miscnick
Norm Myers
Steve Myers
Frank Nelte
Cliff Parks
Ron Wallen
Dick Rand
Ellis Rice
Bob Rodzaj
Gerald Waterhouse
Steve Shafer
Steve Shepperd
Steve Sidars
Gary Smith
Ron Smith
Brittain Taylor
Keith Waldon
Larry Neff

By the time this is published it will represent only a partial listing. WHERE did all these men go? Part Three of:

As The Whirlwide Turns

will offer the Chronology of Events for the past three months and attempt to correlate some of the reasons behind the events. In OIU Vol. TWO, we discussed the sequence of events leading up to the Tkach Company de-culting program and introduction of the Protestant/Evangelical belief. As the WCG continued to decline throughout the seventies and eighties, the leaders employed an array of new marketing tactics in effort to save the organization. Despite the fact that the yearly income statements reflected financial growth, the truth is, the recruiting of new members was at an all time low.  The enhancement of financial figures was accomplished through "other means!"

As the WCG did not have a clearly written doctrinal statement, the Systematic Theology Project (STP) was an attempt to provide one. Careful scrutiny of past literature will verify that the HWA teachings offered an enhanced system of belief characterized by mandatory behaviors. There was never a STATEMENT OF PURPOSE. The only way any prospect could grasp the church's teaching was solely by wading through the thousands of booklets and articles. By the time one read a few booklets he was well on his way to "transformation and conversion the HWA way." Ron Dart, chief assistant and Vice President to Garner Ted Armstrong and one time evangelist with the WCG (until his resignation in 1978), recently stated:

"For the uninitiated, the STP was begun in the mid-70's to pull together existing teachings of the church into one place. Formerly, anyone wanting to find out what the church believed would have to plow through booklets and articles to find what they were looking for. Much of the time they got it wrong--not altogether their own fault. The idea was to provide a source book for scholars and others so an official statement of what the church believed would be available."

[NOTE: Ronald Dart founded Christian Educational Ministries in 1995 after he left the Church of God International during the scandal involving Garner Ted Armstrong and a masseuse). CEM produces his "Born to Win" program (Whitehouse, Texas), airing on Christian radio. He also founded Independent Church of God. He continues to teach a false gospel based on the dogma of Herbert Armstrong, a known false prophet. At Garner Ted Armstrong's funeral, Dart stated that he thought Garner Ted "knew the Bible as well as any man he has ever known and was gifted of God." (Tape 9/20/03, "The Indispensable Man") Ronald Dart is mentioned in ESN's exposé article on GTA and in the December 16, 2004 letter to ESN: Ron Dart Says He Has All the Money He Will Ever Need. UPDATE: Ronald L. Dart died January 24, 2016 at the age of 82 of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.] 

The absolute verification of the reasons behind the current WCG events is clearly spelled out through the history of the 1970 era. The 1980s marked the pivotal point for decision-making regarding church survival. Certainly, survival was a challenge to the Tkach regime. They were the ones to assume the position of the beloved leader Herbert W. Armstrong--not an easy task when one considers how the membership worshipped the ground HWA walked on. Transferring that HWA devotion over to JWT was a task to behold. That problem coupled with the lack of new recruiting of members forced the Tkach regime to explore many maneuvers.

Think back to 1986, shortly after HWA's death. JWT moved in place with all the hard-line teachings. The Good News, Worldwide News, Pastor General's letters, booklets, articles, all enhanced the Armstrong behaviors and ideology. The JWT article called, God Restored these Eighteen Truths: How Thankful Are You For Them? (WWN, Aug. 25, 1986), depicts quite well where JWT's head was at that time. Throughout 1986 and 1987 there was a major push for distribution with HWA's book, Mystery of the Ages. Many of JWT's signed writings reiterated that this book was the greatest piece of literature ever written by HWA. During the years from 1986 to 1990, The Plain Truth and World Tomorrow format were in constant change. Always being billed as, "God is opening our minds to see other ways of reaching the people he is calling." The membership became complacent to the simple excuses given them to condone change, and for the most part, they went along with whatever the Tkach regime put forth. It was too soon for the questioners to realize that the frequent marketing flip-flops meant that the church was not growing. After the church exhausted the hype over the famous TV clip, "Four Horseman of the Apocalypse" running over the TV screens, The Plain Truth (PT), took on a very secular approach (it accompanied the make-up approval). Of course, all these marketing strategy changes were billed as the famous, "God inspired new truth," or "God is opening new doors." Did the membership notice the rapidity of new strategies being enforced on them? Did they question why they were told the PT and World Tomorrow telecast were not really for them, but for those searching?  One of HWA's famous phrases was, "Never change anything that works." All the quick change marketing strategies in the 1980s should have been an indication and warning that "church survival" was a problem.

We must keep in mind that insiders would have been unable to detect the shenanigans going on with headquarters. The fear/guilt mind-control was so intense, that it prevented members from critically thinking or questioning. It was the game plan to go along with everything and never deviate from the "GOD'S IN CHARGE" mantra planted into everyone's brain.

As the "new truth" was deceptively injected, oh so subtly in the beginning, no one really questioned it--except for maybe Gerald Flurry and few others in the upper ranks who knew a few things! Market and sales strategies were so rapidly changing that any good advertising and sales organization would have shuddered at the shortened time span allowed for testing the new strategies. Were the leaders that desperate? 

Was there a choice?

This is where the planned strategy enters that has been billed as "new truth." When long time exiting members ask whether Mr. Tkach is being honest about the changes or whether or not it is "new truth," we refer them to a thorough research on the 1970 era. Now that's easier said then done for most questioners, mainly because they were "insiders" then and VERY limited to any factual information, thanks to their local minister. However, as they start to recollect their past and think about names such as Richard Plache, Al Carrozzo, Al Portune, David Antion, Ken Westby, David Jon Hill [died 11/24/03], Ernest Martin [died 1/16/02] and many others--things start to click in the mind. 

"Wait a minute," some say, "These changes JWT is making now are the same teachings that all that rumpus was about in the 1970s."
"That's right!" we reply.
"Do you mean to tell me all that so called "rebellion" was because some caring high level ministers wanted to bring the church out of a cult with similar teachings they're instituting now?"
"That's right!"
"That's right!" we retort.
"Was it dictatorial, authoritarian and Government from the top down, then?" they question.
"That is what led the 1970 pioneers to discover that HWA's Bible interpretation had some real flaws. These men claimed they wanted to free the membership from the constrained obedience to one man, to freedom in Christ," we explain.

After a little dialog and reference materials, the questioners soon became exiters and began their own journey into the past. Thankfully, much documented material was left behind from the 1970 era that clearly outlines and verifies the agenda of today. The 1970 era story is enormous and will be told. Current events have preempted the space for this issue, but details will follow in the upcoming months.

Full knowledge of the 1970s era is the "proof" way of de-bunking the "new truth" spectrum and deprogramming one's mind from the "WCG system." [Read transcription of Worldwide Church of God History by Kenneth Westby and the very turbulent 1970 era talked about in ESN's letter to author Janis Hutchinson.]

One reason why members were repeatedly drilled to "look ahead and not behind," was so they could not figure out the inside maneuvers. The leaders neglected to understand that under mind-control one doesn't stop absorbing his environment, he just stores it up in a mental file cabinet for future use when he's ready to look at the data.

As everything appears to unfold and fall apart with the old WCG structure, it becomes very plain that the "new truth" was nothing but another new strategy and a desperate attempt to put humpty-dumpty back together. As the OIU has outlined in previous issues, the thrust is not about Doctrine or God (the D&G syndrome), it was about keeping the business in operation. There wasn't much depth to hold the church together after the entrepreneur, HWA, died. The HWA image sold the product: no image--no product. The multi-level marketing company took a dive. The only hope for survival was to incorporate a product that is known to work with the religion market. As all the surveys indicate, Protestant evangelicalism is on the incline while Apocalyptic-ism is on the decline. So the leaders set out like busy little beavers making friends with the popular spokespersons in the Christian arena (such as Ruth Tucker). One must admit the leaders must have feasted on humble pie to face the enemy of yesteryear and say, they want in....! The pot of gold softens the blow a bit; nevertheless, it had to be a tough task at first. All that wheeling and dealing is enough to grate on anyone's nerve, let alone the WCG leaders. Think about all the things they had to pull off:

  • The introduction of change
  • Making amends with the "Christian" enemies
  • Convincing the outsiders to accept the new pitch at face value
  • Keep the membership in the dark with the duel agendas (the outside and inside)
  • Implement new marketing strategies
  • Keep the "not in the know" ministers faithful
  • Digest the doctrine package so they could somehow put it across to the ministers
  • Conjure up fund-raisers

etc., etc., etc.

Since the Tkach Co. assumed the leadership role, they pretty much tried every market tactic available to increase recruiting. A major switch into mainstream was about the only thing left if the church had a chance at all of making it. The decline was going on for years (the financial totals had nothing to do with the growth).

No one says it better than Stanley Rader in The Good News, Nov. 20, 1978 under the section entitled, FORUM with Stanley Rader.

Question: In the face of the sagging dollar and declining economy, do you foresee any problems for the Work?

Answer: "We are constantly being eaten up by inflation just as every organization is that has to live on a reasonable limited income. But we feel that the Church is now going to go into a period of growth. We have literally been static. We've been stagnating for some seven and a half, eight years. What we have experienced is the Church brethren, despite inflation, despite the difficulty it has caused them as individuals, are giving more to take up the slack that has been caused by the fact the non-member income has not grown. It has shrunk about 50% in terms of real dollars, and despite the fact that costs have gone up. But now that we have removed what we feel has been one of the primary reasons--if not the primary reason--for lack of Church growth all we have to do is begin to show a modest Church growth. We've had no growth. But if we begin to grow by even 5 percent in terms of membership, it begins to change our numbers rather drastically. And if we should go back, and we think we can, to our old growth curves, then you can see the future is bright. We always suffer more in time of inflation than in times of mild recession. That seemed to be the case for us when the country went through recession during the past 20 years. We never suffered as a result of the recessionary conditions. We only began to suffer when our growth stopped, and inflation began to eat us up. So we're hopeful about the future. It all looks bright." (emp. Ed.)

Well, the future was not so bright Mr. Stan Rader, because the church barely recruited during the eighties and many continued to leave (the reader is referred to Vol. TWO). The reason for the changes should now become clearer. It was the last resort--to make or break the organization that postulated as a church for decades, while the leaders lapped up the luxury afforded to them by the tithes and offerings of mind-controlled and deceived members. While Stan Rader and HWA globetrotted in luxury, the church was in decline. The financial reports were no indication as to the actual condition of the church, furthermore, they are very misleading (just try and read one), they do not indicate who "dumped" the extra 150 million dollars into the church bank roll during the 1980s, nor do they indicate what direction the money was filtered. Obviously, it appears.

"Worldwide News, Feb. 10, 1986,
"Media Marks Death of Herbert W. Armstrong."
"The Associated Press continued: In the Church's theology, Armstrong was appointed apostle of Jesus Christ on earth."

"Members of the Church tithe voluntarily, and the Church also says it receives significant financial support from non members who back it's evangelical work." (emp. Ed.)

Please, read that again! Who are the non-members with deep pockets? Who are these backers of the evangelical work!??? Inquisitive minds want to know!

LA TIMES, January 17, 1986

"The jet-setting Armstrong was the patriarch of a religious empire often as mysterious as it was famous. In 1934 he founded the Radio Church of God on a shoestring in Eugene, Ore. He moved it to Pasadena in 1946, renamed it the Worldwide Church of God in 1968 and proceeded to build a lavish church headquarters and the Ambassador College campus near the corner of Orange Grove Avenue and Green Street."
"In addition to the 725-student, four-year unaccredited Pasadena school, the church operates a 350-student junior college in Big Sandy, Tex., and controls the education and culture-oriented Ambassador foundation in Pasadena. The opulent Ambassador Auditorium, a pet Armstrong project and a showplace for performing arts concerts was built for $11 million in 1974."
"Armstrong brought in the Vienna Symphony for the auditorium's debut at a cost of $112,000. A year later the foundation inaugurated a glittering 64 concert series
featuring world-renowned artists." (LA Times, January 17, 1986) The 1986 Gospel announcement that Jesus Christ was coming in your lifetime to set up His wonderful Kingdom on earth and World Tomorrow (One World Government) seemed to lose steam when the flying HWA team finally landed.

Could it be that Jesus Christ, the head of his "one true church," was a big spender, and ran out of cash?

Whatever the reason was, drastic changes were necessitated by the lack of membership growth. After the Tkach Co. hard-line approach didn't produce results within the first few years, there was no choice left but to join the Christian mainstream and grab a piece of the pie. That may sound cold-hearted to those who were recruited under the Tkach Company, but for the members of the 1970s who were scorned, ridiculed, rumored against, castigated, defiled and disfellowshipped for their knowledge of grace -- salvation and the New Covenant, it's a complement.

The WCG teachings crumbled when the HWA foundation disappeared. (Parable of the sower comes to mind.) Armstrong was the real product, and he died. That's verified by observing the members' reaction to change. Those who claim that the doctrine is priority are also the ones who continue to worship the man. They are the ones who will cover-up--deny--and go through great lengths to defend the man of many deceptions. Their attitude can be understood when one realizes that the message and messenger go hand in hand. The others? Well, we are all in the process of watching the one time true believers in HWA transform and convert toward a whole new by-line by JWT Company. As they wash away the "HWA ilk, and undergo a renewing of their minds," they trust their new master that he is the one who has "the truth" again!

As JWT well instructed his flock at FOT, 1993:
"Come out of Her My People...see the selfish sinful materialistic arrogant way of the world."...REVERSE your life completely! That's what revelations mean.... The Christian is not to conform to this world but be TRANSFORMED...We think our perfect Sabbath attendance record is going to get us into the Kingdom of God. I don't keep the Sabbath to get into the Kingdom of God; I keep it because of God's personal intervention in my life. I keep it because I am saved!"

"To be TRANSFORMED means to be CHANGED...be different...a different set of values...by a process in one sense of the use, the expression by BRAINWASHING, the RENEWING OF THE MIND, to RESTORE, to REBUILD, to change into a likeness of Christ." [NOTE: Tkach, Sr. also talked about a "brainwashing program" in the January 7, 1995 video sermon to members, which introduced the new doctrinal changes.] [NOTE: Tkach, Sr. also talked about a "brainwashing program" in the January 7, 1995 video sermon to members, which introduced the new doctrinal changes.]

It seems that many followed JWT's commands--- just fine, "in many ways, shape and form," to quote a JWT saying.

Was JWT paving the way for what is transpiring today? As we will see, many financial backers (tithers) didn't aspire to the orthodox quick fix. But then, how could they accept the new teaching in the manner of which it was presented...deceptively, dialectically, with confusion and contradictions; with little support materials or straightforward explanations of the supposed teachings. For a group of SKILLED writers who for decades have been able to publish writings that were entrenched in trickery, one must wonder WHY the same team couldn't explain the "new truth" in a proper, open, honest and straightforward fashion. Was there a method to the madness?

Did the big push for Christian mainstream--flop??

Since JWT presented the January 3 1/2 hour video on the New Covenant, the church has been in great disarray. How much of this fragmentation is going according to plan? Is there really a severe rebellion occurring? Is the church going bankrupt? Will the WCG change its name? Where are all the exiting ministers going? What direction is the WCG headed? What is happening to the members?

These questions and more are answered in the:

Chronology of events since January '95

Week one--Joseph Tkach relays a 3 and 1/2 hr. video to entire membership on the WCG New Covenant and Sabbath teaching. Tithing becomes voluntary, but if you really want to follow Jesus Christ you'll tithe above and beyond what the LAW required.

Week two & three--Follow-up 1 1/2-hour video, sending conflicting messages regarding first video.

Week four--LA TIMES and Pasadena Star News broadcast church's financial woes. Immediate cutback in advertising/ closing of Ambassador Auditorium, lay-offs, liquidating of property/PT cutbacks/International funding cut.

Week one--USA TODAY 2/8/95 "A month after telling parishioners that tithing is voluntary rather than God's command, the Worldwide Church of God has lost 30% of its income, the Pasadena Star News reported. It is one of the church's worst crises in its 61 years."

Week two-four--Tkach Co. relays financial stress to members.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 2/16/95, "I wish I could say that this letter is full of good news. But the truth is, my heart aches as I write it, brethren, and I have no choice but to bare my soul to you. Let me share my sorrows with you. The income of the Church has dropped sharply, and we must lay off hundreds of employees. I grieve for them, and for their families. Please join me in praying that they would be able to find other work soon."

"We are facing the Red Sea as it were. The enemy of the gospel is threatening us from behind."

"Since the amount we give is voluntary under the new covenant, it is a far more revealing test of where our hearts are. And what a surprise it has revealed! Some people have simply stopped giving anything. After years and years of preaching that Christianity is a "give" way of life, generosity hasn't been written on their hearts at all!" (OUCH! Some professionals might list that statement as emotional, spiritual, financial and psychological abuse!)

"But I'm also sad that so many families have jumped ship, so to speak, and are not supporting the work of the Church. They are failing to contribute even their fair share of local congregational expenses."

"People are blown about by every wind of doctrine, and by cunning and crafty men who teach what the people want to hear. I cannot judge their motives, of course, but I can see that their followers are following men and not Christ, comparing themselves with others and not with Christ. So I am sad for them."

Dear Brethren letter, 2/23/95, "I am sorry to have to write to tell you that we may not be able to hold our summer camps this year. As you know, we have stepped out on faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, choosing to teach the truth of the Bible despite the consequences, and this has resulted in a lower level of income for the church."

"Brethren, I know the summer camps are very important for our young people, and I am willing to go ahead with them this summer if the operating expense can be met with special donations within the next four weeks."

"If we do not receive $683,000 for this fund by March 20, 1995, the camps will be postponed until next year, and your donation will be applied toward the 1996 SEP operating fund." (This letter represents the annual fund-raiser drive to gather funds under the SEP heading.)

[UPDATE: In 1996, because of the small number of applications for S.E.P., the program was canceled and applicants were being referred to S.E.P. in Orr, Minnesota. In 2002 WCG sold the camp in Orr and closed it the same year. As of 2005 WCG has 8 local S.E.P camps in the United States (and some in Canada).]

March--Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 3/27/95, "Last month I shared with you my sadness about having to terminate hundreds of Church employees due to a 30% decline in income. Now, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity. As of March 10, income had stabilized at 15% under last year, and with our cutbacks, if income remains at this level, we will be able to remain on budget."

"As the Passover of Jesus Christ and the festival of unleavened bread approach in the next couple of weeks, I need to remind you that the seven annual festival offerings, in addition to regular tithes and offerings, are an important part of the Church's income."

"Thank you again, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for your dedication to the work God has called us together to do. Let's remember the words of Paul: "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Within three weeks of the New Covenant Video and follow-up sermon, the WCG implements a slash and dash program while it places the financial strain blame on the members. Some old timers who have had enough of the above say, "So what's new?" The point to be scrutinized is the time frame of the mass ministerial exodus in conjunction with the rocket approach "new truth" deliverance. Many wonder how the church financial condition could have fallen apart within three weeks of the "voluntary tithing" knowledge.

While all the "doctrinal change" is causing a great distraction with the membership at large as it bombards the sermons and WWN, we learned that several high level evangelists were working secretly to put together a "reform church." We were told the newly formed corporation will attempt to restore the WCG and possibly take it over. Now, it must be stressed that the early organizers of this reform church did not call the ESN directly and relay their plans to us; however, several insiders, close to the situation did offer their "bites" of information on an ongoing basis. That input combined with our investigations and research allows us to relay the events to you in close order in which they occurred. 

By mid-Feb. to March, several names of men surface to reportedly be working behind the scenes, supposedly they were responsible for organizing a new corporation and possibly a big takeover. The men named at that time were Richard Helge (in Texas getting the legal/financial affairs together) Victor Kubik, Ray Wooten and Dennis Luker. [UPDATE: Dennis Luker was president of UCG-AIA when he died of cancer March 14, 2013; Ray Wooten died February 9, 2014.] Alex LaRavia's name was mentioned intermittently. Meanwhile, other ministers were starting to resign, for supposed doctrinal reasons. The pattern seemed to mimic a visit to the local region in question, from an HQ representative. Within a few days of visitation, the local minister would resign. This happened with Jim Franks and Roy Holladay, both of who were managerial ministers in areas that leaned conservative or legalistic. Within a few weeks of resigning, it was announced they were setting up their own corporation and bringing many members with them. The ministerial exits continued as stories piled up about in-house fights.

Big Sandy becomes enmeshed in the events as Don Ward and Tkach Company fight. JWT removes Ward, but the Board of Regents step up and vote Ward to remain in charge. Mr. Giese quits Big Sandy church; Carl Sable is kept out of services by armed guard only to be followed by Mr. Havir (who took over for Ken Geise) being blocked from the pulpit to give his sermon. [Phew.] Stories of firings, disputes about severance pays and pensions and ministerial battles were ongoing.

[UPDATE: Don Ward later went with United Church of God-AIA.]

By mid March the picture looked somewhat like the following: ·=

  • United Church of God, Inc. from Alabama, Ray Wooten
  • United Church of God, California 
  • Sacramento Church of God, Wayne Dunlap
  • Phoenix Church of God, Zimmerman, Forester
  • Worldwide Church of God, Texas, Steve Crow and son

Since then, we are told there are over "50" WCG spin-off Corporations set up, with over 100 Fellowships, with exiting ministers and over 250 full-time ministers who have exited since January.

Not all defectors have joined the new reform group, some have migrated to Global [with Rod Meredith] who now reports approximately "100" ministers. One researcher estimates the ministerial picture looks like the following:

WCG--200 ministers remain

This is a rough estimate based on Tom Lapacka's quote to the LA Times, Another Schism Racks Worldwide Church of God.

"In Pasadena, WCG spokesman Tom Lapacka estimated Wednesday that the new United Church of God will attract more than 100 of the church's pastors. There were 350 pastors in the WCG as of February, but 104 have since resigned or been terminated...."

However, we find a major discrepancy in what the officials report as JWT tells a very different story.

In a Dear Brethren letter, May 25 1995, JWT says:

"We praise God for the solidarity and faithfulness of the more than 550 full-time ministers and more than 1000 elders who are filled with enthusiasm and joy about Christ's gracious activity in the Church!"

Is someone telling a fib? Officials should meet and get their stories straight because the multitude of discrepancies is allowing others to see the "hidden agenda."

Another discrepancy we find is the total WCG member count. OIU, Vol. TWO, estimates and explains why the roster listing never exceeded 45,000 to 50,000 baptized members total. Tkach Co. leaders seem insistent on floating the total around the 95,000 mark. This number would help disguise the condition of the church and financial accountability. Now that thousands have been reported to have defected to UCG and Global, JWT and son still insist the roster reads 92,000.

April--A memo dating April 5, 1995 states that three regional pastors met with Joseph Tkach, Jr. Dennis Luker, Bob Dick and Jim Franks met for the purpose of informing Mr. Tkach, Jr. on the current state of affairs in the congregations of Worldwide Church of God. All previous requests for a ministerial conference were rejected.

The note sites the irreconcilable doctrinal difference that has brought the church to the brink of destruction. It stated that all ministers and members who cannot accept the current doctrinal position should be permitted to begin fellowshipping together on the Sabbath and Holy Days without recrimination.

In an attached note it is stated that as a result of the decision made by JWT Jr., which was affirmed by his father, not to allow separate worship, it was agreed to have a meeting of interested regional pastors to determine the next step.

Oddly, even though plans were well in the works for a reform organization, regional representatives for the "legalists" were requesting to hold separate services with the old covenant keepers. When the "reform" leaders received a refusal, an immediate letter was sent out to the ministry regarding a conference in Indianapolis. Invited were all local church elders, full-time ministers, the formally employed and the disfellowshipped with ministerial title.

April 4, WWN, Pastor General's Letter:

JWT opens his Personal with: "I am sorry to report that several beloved ministers have concluded that they cannot teach the Sabbath observance is not required for Christians under the terms of the new covenant and have chosen to resign from the ministry."

He goes on to say,

"It is only natural that our minds fall into certain familiar patterns of thinking, and it can be very hard to break out of those patterns. As a Church, we have believed and taught for decades that the sign of God's true and faithful people is Sabbath-keeping. Once the basis of this belief, we saw ourselves as the one and only true Church, the faithful, end-time remnant of God's people, and conversely, we saw all other "professing" Christian fellowships as deceived "Protestant daughters of the great whore of Revelation."

On the same page JWT, Jr. states, "I am saddened to report that several full-time ministers have decided to step from their pastoral duties. We have had several calm and friendly conversations with certain of our ministers, yet some have decided to resign. These are men we know and love." "Some ministers, however, have chosen to become a divisive element in the church and have decided to start their own churches."

Jr. goes on to list many ministers who have departed but stresses that "nearly all of them have told me that they would not join any of the splinter groups." Ironically, most ministers listed on page two have immediately joined with the "splinter" Churches of God upon exiting.

In the same issue, another article, called, "Coping with doctrinal change: Give yourself time," Jr. writes, "We are convicted that Christ is leading these changes, and it is our responsibility to help our members understand them. We are definitely not out to lose ministers." (emp. Ed.)

For an organization that did not want to "lose ministers," the facts state, they have lost a bulk of the ministry backbone.

Let's assess what is actually occurring.

The Tkach Company did expect to lose many members when they started the Protestant belief campaign. The Tkach leaders stated that on several occasions. I personally recall Tom Lapacka shouting at the Tucson FOT in 1992 that the train was moving ahead and those hanging onto the caboose would be cut loose and stranded.

Could the leaders have misjudged the membership's reaction to all the change these past few years? In April of '94, Joe Tkach, Sr. made the following statement in his Holy Day sermon video:

"And the rumor was that we were going to do away with unclean meats, and that we were going to do away with tithing. How on earth are we going to get out the Work? And that we are going to be doing away with the Sabbath and that we are going to be keeping Sunday instead."

"A damnable lie!"

"We are going to be doing away with the Holy Days? And we're going to be doing away with the law...? What are some of the other cockamamie rumors? Another one is that we are going to be doing away with unclean meats."

"We are not doing away with the Sabbath, the Holy Days or doing away with the law!"

Members started to see that they were victims of contradictions and confusion. While the Tkach Company thought they would subtly inject the mainstream changes, while simultaneously denying any change, the members were SLOWLY catching on. Even some ministers started getting angry over the duplicity.

The membership at large started to divide into the Tkachites and the Armstrongites. This division took time as most members had to fight off cognitive dissonance (trancing out, due to trauma and confusion). One must question whether it was a local church reaction that dictated what side the minister would follow. Certainly, HQ had a handle on the overall feeling of the area; the tithing barometer would be a foolproof indication.

--Michael Feazell (Festival Planning Conference, March /April `95)

Next to OIU 3, pt. 2 of 5

OIU 1 | OIU 2 | OIU 3 | OIU 4 | OIU 5 | OIU 6

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UPDATE: In 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name to Grace Communion International in the United States. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.) Church Multiplication Ministries is a ministry of GCI. 


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