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OIU Volume Three - Pt. 4 of 5

OUTSIDER'S INSIDE UPDATE™

 

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What about the FESTIVALS? (Once upon a time known as feasts)?

Many reports have been relayed regarding the 1995 WCG festival cancellations. Within days of the cancellation reports, we learn that UCG moves right into the scheduled slot to occupy that "FEAST" site. Among many sites taken over by the UCG, are; Tucson AZ; Redding, CA; Keystone, CO; Orlando, FL; Jekyll Island, GA; Moline, IL; Lowell, MA and Corpus Christi, TX

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun, There Is a Doublement Feast, Under the Sun

Can't help but sing that catchy tune when reviewing the plans for the NEW FESTIVAL OF TABERNACLES. While the UCG is diligently and zealously planning for their first Feast under their new name, the WCG has something very new on the horizon. Some might have caught the article in the WWN April 4th, where Joe Jr., is quoted as saying, "Despite rumors to the contrary, we are not planning to stop celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles." Also quoted, "In this time of doctrinal clarification, we have more clearly realized we are not required to keep the Festivals for salvation," however, we meet together because we love to worship God at the Feast of Tabernacles."

"Ministers attended an annual conference in March to review the operation of the Festival: to talk about what we have been doing, what we can do to make the Festival more spiritually profitable to members." [Profitable to members?]

"The conference focused on the meaning of the Festival, the proper approach to evangelism, planning more effective church services, and organizing a week-long celebration for many types of people."

Unfortunately, a series of notes from the conference made the circuit through the FAX machines which left many stunned regarding the WCG plans for this.... festival. Four full pages outline excerpts from videotape from Tom Lapacka, which reviews the Worship service, Mission of FOT 1995, Timetable for sample services and schedule for the 8-day festival. What seems to have shocked members mostly was the list of New Testament elements of worship. Craig Bacheller outlines:

  1. Music
  2. Scripture reading
  3. Prayer
  4. Amen response
  5. Sermons 
  6. Exhortation
  7. Giving gifts
  8. Doxology
  9. Confession
  10. Lord's supper, baptism 

Craig also outlines goals for members, stating--We should leave with our: Faith stronger, Hopes brighter, Love deeper, Sympathy extended, Hearts purer and with Will more resolute to submit every part of our lives to our sovereign Lord. [You must admit, it is a new spin!]

Another upsetting piece to this document was the Timetable for Sample Service, which included Intercessory prayer, Thanksgiving, A word from our youth, Ministry update and INTERVIEWS/TESTIMONIES.

Evangelism training will be big on the agenda, as workshops will be scheduled to train the members on how to evangelize effectively. Most multi-level marketing companies call this recruiting. All this should work in nicely with the new WCG [which will probably have a new name by then] as the main mission is, "Bringing people (WCG) to Christ--coming entirely into the New Covenant; New Covenant focus on FOT and on worship."

Yes, it looks as if it will be a smashing sales convention. Whoops! That's Festival. Now, HQ was mighty upset about the release of the document outlining the big event and stated in the WWN that, "Unfortunately, a paper with some notes from an earlier brainstorming session has been faxed all over. Some members have been told erroneously that this paper contained the official list of Church activities for the 1995 Festival, and that was never true." [We'll see!]

Evangelistic-it is

Browsing the religion section of your local bookstore or used bookstore is a sure way of learning about evangelism. Evangelism strongly took hold this century in the U.S. while churches and denominations struggled to recruit the spiritual-seeking flock into their own doors and under their own spell. The American Heritage dictionary offers this definition:
evangelism
n. 1. The zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work, 2. Militant zeal for a cause.

As the new "Moses," Mr. Tkach, leads his people out of Egypt, he explains that they are now disciples for Christ. Their job is to spread the "good news." As the Tkachee army becomes trained on how to express militant zeal, the JWT Co. is hopeful to drastically increase the grease on printing machines as they add names to the new, "first century-like church" roster.

One wonders what took the WCG empire so long to catch onto this recruiting strategy. In the past, HQ assumed all the recruiting responsibility. While their management style allowed for tight control on their "school of fish" if you will, it prohibited HQ from reaping the benefits of each fish bringing in their own babies, which would have resulted in a massive growth for the church. It must have been quite frustrating to watch other cults, or evangelistic movements by-pass the WCG, while the WCG stagnated and declined these past twenty-five years.

It's never to late, as the saying goes, because the WCG conglomerate has gotten into the act. JWT tells the fish that the "Church has a twofold commission." WWN, April 25th: [excerpts]

" 'If you love me, you will obey what I commanded,' Jesus said. (Jn.14: 15). And he repeated this in the great commission--his disciples were to teach people "to obey everything I have commanded you."

"Our message, our commission has two parts: 1) preaching the gospel and 2) teaching the disciples. The gospel brings people to the point of conversion, and the discipling process nurtures them after that. The gospel tells them that Christ died for them, and discipleship tells them how to live for Christ. The gospel invites them into the kingdom, and discipleship sends them back out to be ambassadors of that Kingdom."

"That is what we have been called for, brethren--to preach the gospel, to baptize those who believe and to teach them to live a Christ-like life."

"When we really believe Christ died for us and was raised to glory, when we begin to understand how profound his love for us is, 'Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.' " [Ouch!] In explaining suffering, JWT says...

"If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."

[Possible translation: The gospel of Jesus dying on the cross to bring us salvation is to be preached by you, Brethren. Christ gave you his gifts and your job is to be ever indebted with thankfulness. The goal is to catch the fish and "transform" them into our organization. We'll use the gospel to provide the guilt that will weaken the new prospects into submission to us. Once you have them, you will be assigned to them and disciple (hover) over them. Don't worry; you'll learn just how to do that at the upcoming feast. After we've converted the new fish into our kingdom, we'll train them to go out and do the same job your doing. You, brethren will reap the rewards, because it will be your recruit that you personally trained as an ambassador. So, lets go fish and baptize those babies and get them cloned into our school.]

The WCG is diligently joined by all the WCG spin-offs in this new evangelistic strategy.

  • UCG will focus on using the "talents" of their members to bring new people to the truth. They will incorporate evangelism into their "Armstrong" program.
  • Garner Ted Armstrong has made several mass mailings from his, "Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association." These mailings are additional to the "Academy Books" order forms for tapes, publications and "Inspirational Favorites" as "How Great Thou Art," "Amazing Grace," "His Eye is on the Sparrow," "When the Saints Go Marchin' In," and many more. Ted has placed a price tag on these publications and it will be interesting to see if they will be able to drop the "We'll send it free" routine. [UPDATE: Garner Ted Armstrong died of pneumonia at age 73 on September 15, 2003.]
  • Rod Meredith is also moving in the "evangelism" angle, as his publications insert the word frequently.

Move over evangelicals---you've got big company!

YOUTH--YOUTH--YOUTH-YOUTH

And that's the "new church" story. The new WCG (whatever name that might be) will concentrate its recruiting efforts on the YOUTH. As the WCG hastily pushes the old folks (can't teach a dog new tricks) over to the Armstrong church, UCG, it rapidly penetrates the YOUTH markets and organizes its agenda around the YOUTH. Vol. TWO, "Special Edition" introduced this strategy, since that printing we have seen many endeavors that confirm the YOUTH thrust. As stated in the past, the church will move into the same direction of the "International (Boston) Church of Christ," an evangelistic and discipling method cult. This organization is one of the fastest growing church organizations. They have concentrated on the schools and college campuses. Their recruiting tactics are so strong that several IVY league colleges have had to have them removed from campus. This year, YALE was baptizing over six members a week, last time I checked. Most recruited members become school dropouts to get on with "Christ's work" and fund-raise for the cult.

The Plain Truth takes a back seat to the YOUTH magazine, which is anything but pabulum. The modified magazine is enhanced with topics dealing with emotional issues of teens, such as, loneliness, suicide, dating and SEX, SEX, SEX. It is carefully crafted to lure the unsuspecting into its fold; stuffed with mailers inviting the reader to send for "free material." The last issue offered a 16-page brochure on teen sexuality--"Yours free with your subscription to YOUTH 95."

The campaign for the "entertaining…encouraging… enlightening." YOUTH magazine, as it is billed, was kicked off with a subscription price of $9.95, which is about the cost of a movie and a box of popcorn, the magazine advertises. The PGR outlined just what to say to the members and instructed the ministers to read with enthusiasm (in other words, sell it!). HQ strongly urges the members to purchase their own subscription and possibly buy a subscription for a needy person. The WWN 4/25 states 33,000 requests for paid subscriptions were collected in the first month of the promotion and has plans in place to triple that number in the next few month.

The YOUTH magazine has shown up on Library shelves, in Pediatrician offices and most disconcerting, in Jr. High and High School Libraries. Just recently, a mass mailing to PT readers was sent from JWT asking all the "adults" concerned about their teenagers to mail a brochure called, "Relating." The letter contends that this informative brochure will cover topics on, getting along with parents; God; loneliness; broken families; and of course, drugs and premarital SEX. Any loving adult would want this brochure for their child. You can be assured that each brochure will be stuffed with lures to get the new YOUTH magazine. The highly advertised YOUTH magazine is the HOT recruiting vehicle that is being used to build the new YOUTH church.

What's new with Doctrine these Days?

APOLOGIES, or are they excuses?

April 3, 1994 Sermon, Pasadena and played on Pentecost:
JWT states the following in response to someone's letter:

"They have no compunctions at all about exaggerating. Like I read from this list of rumors that are going around: we're going to start keeping Christmas, and we're changing the Passover, and we're making changes to please the Protestants to get accreditation. We will ask members to start displaying crucifixes, doing away with unclean meats, doing away with tithing and we don't believe that there's a place of safety, we're going to do away with the Sabbath, we're going to do away with the Holy Days and we're going to do away with the law."

JWT continued by stating that all liars…. those who deliberately mislead people, will have their place in the lake of fire. [Read excerpts from this "Rumors" sermon.]

PGR May 18, 1995

"I have not set the pace for doctrinal change. Jesus Christ has. As I was convicted by Christ, I told the Church everything the Holy Spirit led me to understand. Even last year, I still did not understand what I understand today. Some of you know I was still preaching that we would never understand what I understand today. Some of you know I was preaching that we would never change our position on the Sabbath, the Holy Days, tithing and unclean meat as late as last October."

He goes on to say:

"But when Christ led me to understand the simple and pure biblical truth, it was indeed, as so many ministers and members have described it, like a veil of blindness being lifted."

"Now some people want to accuse me of 'planning these changes for decades,' alleging that I had an 'agenda' from the beginning to make all the changes we have made. What astonishing nonsense! All I can say is that if I had been working from a prearranged agenda of changes, I certainly would have chosen a slower pace of introducing them to the Church. What I did was to teach what Christ led me to see at the pace he led me to see it, and I am the first to admit that I certainly did not foresee all the implications of some of those things."

"Looking back now I can see that one thing led to another. One thing is for sure: Our loving God knows what we need, and he knows how to lead us."

"I serve Jesus Christ, and I take the responsibilities he has given me most seriously. If the Holy Spirit had led me to understand the truth about the old and new covenants a year ago, I would have preached it a year ago. But I have been led as Christ determined to lead, not as I might have chosen for myself. The fact is, I have continued to grow in understanding about the covenants ever since I first introduced it to the Church last December." Joe Tkach, Sr.

Some insiders might think JWT's message answers some puzzling questions. But, it they dare to look back at the last ten years and scrutinize the documented trail left with the meetings of the outside Christian Ministries, theologians, Christian writers, publishers, etc., they would see that this message just doesn't cut it. The resignation letters and tapes left behind from the 1970 "rebels" would point JWT in the direction of telling a falsehood, if you will. How easy it is, to pass the old buck onto Jesus Christ. We see this happen everyday in many situations. All one has to do is say, "I prayed about it, so I knew that's what God wanted me to do." The old "Jesus made me do it," routine seems to serve as an absolute scapegoat. It seems so peculiar that leaders can say anything they want, at anytime, for any reason, and then blame the result on...Jesus Christ! What a racket!! Interestingly, the PGR message ties in nicely with the tape meeting with Joe Jr. Mike Feazell and Richard Rice.

JWT's finishes with: "The future is indeed bright for the Church, because Jesus Christ is faithful. The gospel will be proclaimed, and that is a task that every part of the Body, all according to their gifts, are called to have part in. Our goals are still the same: 1) Nurture and equip our local ministers and ministers and congregations for spiritual growth, worship and evangelism, including providing youth programs, member assistance programs and local church facilities; 2) publish The Plain Truth, Worldwide News and booklets; and 3) support Ambassador University. And our Master is still the same. The only difference is that he has brought us closer to him."

The new focus for the membership is that the "WCG church" is enduring the same pains as the first century church. Articles in the WWN, sermons by Mike Feazell and other documentation all demonstrate how the current WCG change relates to what Paul endured and the experiences of that time; a duality of sorts. JWT gave a sermon called, "Believe" in April where he talked at length relating Moses and the Israelites, as a likeness to himself and the membership. "Moses didn't appoint himself anymore than I appointed myself to be Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God." With many other statements along that line, the message reads, God is leading his people into the Red Sea, are you coming or returning to Egypt? "Repetition is the best form of learning, Mr. Armstrong always said," relates JWT, as he and his team reiterate the message that God has just now decided to take his people out of bondage. The message that this is God's Church and Christ is the head of it is clearly spoken, and that the members are really like the Israelites with Moses (TKACH) leading the way to freedom. Why, some wonder would God have left the WCG members in bondage so long while he was out freeing up the rest of the world?

Long time WWN writer Paul Kroll points out 4/25/95:

"Events in the last few years show we have a lot more in common with the church of the apostles than we might imagine."

" 'Connection to us.' We can see the startling parallels between the Worldwide Church of God as it was and the Jewish Christians of the first century. We had the same general boundary markers of faith as they had. We were, in effect, a Jewish Christian Church!"

"But we've had to recently learn something about religious practices--as did the original Jewish believers in the first century. We have had to see that whether one eats a ham sandwich, whether on works on the Sabbath, or whether one eats leavened bread during the days of unleavened bread are not moral-spiritual considerations. These practices that identified a certain people at a certain time of history, they marked Israelites who were under the old covenant."

While the members are being prepped as the first century church all over again, we wonder if they are aware of the other changes creeping up slowly, such as, the practice of meeting together for corporate prayer. In the PGR, JWT tells the ministers:

"And I want to point out that there is an aspect of church-wide prayer that has been long neglected in the Church, and that was a vital part of the first-century Church and a vital part of this Church in the early days of Ambassador College. That is the practice of meeting together for corporate prayer."

"We should encourage pastors, wherever possible, to hold weekly prayer meetings, either before or following Sabbath services, or at a convenient time during the week. Plan the meeting ahead of time. Have members share what they'd like to have prayer for, and then take volunteers to pray for each specific issue that needs prayer. Allow all who wish to pray aloud to have an opportunity, one at a time. You may wish to include worshipful music, if possible, as well as hymn singing. I remind you that this is not a new thing. It was part and parcel with the experience of the first-century Church and Mr. Armstrong's practice in the early days of this Church." [So were speaking in tongues.]

[NOTE: Paul Kroll exited the Worldwide Church of God sometime shortly after 1973 and was listed among other leading men and women who left their positions because of "frustration, matters of conscience, and disgust over doctrinal and organizational problems" and who "no longer supported AC or the WCG." (Ambassador Review, 1976, p. 5) One must ask why he's back in again?]

The only thing missing is.... "Hallelujah BROTHER" and bring on the tambourines!

In Other NEWS

PGR May 3, 1995: Second New Testament Passover

  • Baptized members of the Church who were unable to take the 'LORD'S SUPPER' in April will have the opportunity to do so..." [Emp. Ed.]
  • Graven images are OK as long as they are not used for the purpose of bowing down to them.
  • Illustration of Angels is fine.
  • It is not wrong to illustrate Jesus. Such artwork can help us understand what the Bible describes.
  • It is not a sin to eat unclean meat. It's only a sin if you think it's a sin. Actually, it's not unclean anymore; ALL FOOD IS CLEAN! [We'll, all is not lost, look at this way, you helped the lobster population and you were a pig's best friend!]

Along with the above changes, the Tkach Co. is still working out the 'kinks' with the New Covenant interpretation, keeping the Sabbath, and the UN-commanded-Ten Command-ments.

How about the finances?

Good question--but good luck in finding out. The true financial picture has always been a WCG secret. The leaders have traditionally used figures to substantiate the condition of the church. However, the figures were easily manipulated with a psychology twist to lead others into thinking, all is well, or, all is in danger. Readers might recall the famous "30%" increase or "5% decrease, etc. What was portrayed at any given time depended on whether there were holy days approaching and whether the guilt routine was due.

Lately, we've heard it all: quotes indicating anywhere from a 10% to 50% drop in income. Who knows? What we do know, is that most of the church's income is derived from sources other than tithes and offerings. And, it is obvious those "other sources" are supporting the organization during this reconstruction of thought reform. Even if the church files bankruptcy, it will occur after the money has been protected and secured.

JWT says the following in his 5/25/95 letter to the Brethren:

"Thank you also for your faithfulness in tithes and offerings, brethren! Per person average of the offering on the last day of unleavened bread was 10.3 percent higher than last year, bringing the total amount of the offering to 19.5 percent under last year. This means that the faithful made up for those who have left, keeping the income within the budgeted range. As I wrote last month, this offering was much needed and at a critical time."

Providing these numbers are valid and our math is correct, this would support that there was a 25% to 30% drop in the number of individuals making an offering. Does that help?

In Business...

The WCG Travel Agency continues to expand its services as it keeps up the dramatic changes in the travel industry. This lucrative WCG business is hopeful "to have the opportunity to serve you as a partnership to financially serve both you and the church."

In Public Relations... Ministers Ralph Orr and Richard Burkey joined historians, scientists, theologians and educators from the U.S, Canada and Great Britain areas at the Evangelical Engagement With Science conference, March 30th to April 1st. The Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals sponsored the conference that included representatives from American and Canadian evangelical universities and seminaries, as well as Harvard, Notre Dame, Indiana University and others.

The WWN states:

"Mr. Orr and Mr. Burkey were there to strengthen the Church's contact within the evangelical and academic communities, and to gather information that could help the Church write on scientific issues."

"Topics at the conference included Charles Darwin's 'conversion,' environmentalism, women evangelicals in science, attempts to reconcile Scripture with geology, evangelicals and natural theology, and Canadian evangelical support for the social sciences."

We at the OIU couldn't help but wonder whether Mr. George Bush, Mr. Clinton and wife, Mr. Newt Gingrich, the Council of Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission and the Club of Rome, also attended.

Golf Anyone?

What's the story on "golf playing" on the Sabbath, some have asked? Well, JWT and Co. has reconstructed their thoughts on this topic, again and again. JWT sends the following quotes to his people:

Big Sandy Sermon Dec. 24, 1995.

"Does that sound like I am encouraging you to go play a game of golf on the Sabbath instead of being here? What I am saying is that if you came here and you did want to have some relaxation, you want to go play a game of golf, that would not be a sin, brethren! Does that shock you?"

January 7, 1995 Sermon to Pasadena and all the members:

"Paul; is telling us that the reality or the substance is Christ. And now that he has come, now that we have the reality, there is no more requirement for the substitute. See, some are going to take this fact as license that, well, they can go and golf because this is what I have been misquoted as saying. And now you can go and play golf on the Sabbath. I never said any such thing!"

May 18, 1995 PGR, Dear Ministers:

"Please allow me to verify the now infamous golf statements in my recent sermons. I have been accused of denying that I preached that it is not a sin in my sermon in Big Sandy on December 24, 1994. I did have the statement edited out of the video that was played in all the churches; however, I had it edited out because I was informed that some people had misinterpreted my comment to mean that it was fine to play golf instead of going to services."

"That is certainly not what I intended. So I thought it best to avoid the misunderstanding by not including the comment in the video. Then in a later sermon, I tried to explain that I never said it was fine to miss church to play golf and the result was the accusation that I was lying about having mentioned golf in Big Sandy at all."

"Well, please forgive me if I have misstated my intent, or if I have not made this clear, or if I have confused anyone. That was not my intention. To make it plain, I do not believe that golf or other such things should take priority over coming to church services. But neither is it a sin to play a round of golf on the Sabbath. I hope that makes clear the point I was trying to make."

[Translation: The law is done away with, but it is still priority to obey it. For those members who wish to stay in good standing at the Big Sandy campus, we suggest you book in for your Sabbath golf slot early in the week, it is very likely that there will be a stampede from the church hall, up the path, and onto the golf course. Members last in line; of course, ministers have the right of way.]

 

WHAT GOLF COURSE???

You mean you didn't know that the WCG in Big Sandy, TX had a sprawling "76" acre golf course, meticulously manicured and privately available to those whom have special permission to use it? It is not surprising that insiders and outsiders, some of whom have been affiliated with the WCG over 30 years, deny ever having known of its existence.

On my recent trip to Dallas, TX, I stretched the days and visited the famous Big Sandy campus. After a 1 and 1/2 hour trip east of Dallas, I approached the little town of Big Sandy. My initial reaction was, "How quaint," but as I viewed the town of approximately 1,400 population, I realized that the Ambassador University was the big happening in the area. Big green signs announcing, "Welcome, Home of Ambassador University" led me through the small streets of the town to the impressively constructed, brick gateway that assured me I reached my destination. After riding past, what seemed to be an endless connection of high quality, glistening white, corral fencing, I proceeded to enter the main approach into the campus.

I was freely allowed to exit my car and walk the campus grounds. The large, rectangular white administration building greeted the entrance of the campus and offered Pasadena flair with its art structures and water decor. As I walked the very tailored paths, I was stuck by the silence that prevailed. If it were not for the slight breeze that unsettled the leaves, one would truly hear a pin drop. I carefully noted the stillness as I observed each passer by. The few students I saw around the campus during this mid week school day all had a pleasant and timely smile for me as they approached. The students appeared to have much in common, as it seemed they walked at the same pace and carried their back packs in the same position.

On my first day visit, I toured all the grounds that were accessible. Acre after acre I glanced at the dorms and buildings all nestled within rolling landscape which was spotted with gardens, streams and waterfalls. The many gardeners were actively cultivating the massive grounds with various machinery. Every now and then, I would come upon a young person, slowly raking between bushes as he sorted the debris from the mulch.

As I journeyed up the incline I came upon an airstrip. As my thoughts became increasingly reflective and somewhat flooded, I started to visualize Herbert W. Armstrong and son landing in their private jets, only to be greeted by mobs of members cheering them on and welcoming their footsteps. Oh, what magnificent times the 1960s and part of the 1970s must have been! I thought to myself. At this juncture, I started to have a most difficult time assimilating what I was viewing and relating it to what an insider's WCG world is all about.

"Is this the same operation that writes the WWN?" I asked myself.

"It couldn't be!" I thought.

As I proceeded onward I was confronted by a fence that noted the grounds were privately owned by the Worldwide Church of God. Being that, we too, paid (through coercion and fear) many thousands of dollars into the pockets of the leaders who owned this luxurious land, I felt very welcome to tour this off-the-path acreage.

To my right and mostly hidden by the bramble was the rolling and sprawling golf course. Slightly stunned, I glanced with amazement; I never knew it existed. Never was it mentioned in the church during my constant presence. Never did I see it in writing or view it on any WCG Newsreels.

"Was this another kept secret?" I thought.

As the big tractor manicured the lush sod in my presence, I became overcome and reminiscent of the many people who died with no medical treatment and the extreme amount of poverty members experienced. How many people suffered and sacrificed their families, their futures and their lives for this golf course?

As I walked a few yards, I entered the neighborhood of homes that bordered this golf course. Home after home demonstrated more obsessively tailored grounds holding large brick structures that represented home. On average, each home was approximately 2,000 to 2,500 square feet. Most of the homes had ample play yards that edged up to LOMA Lake. Now I realized where the ministers lived and how they lived.

The glistening water of LOMA Lake was a beauty to behold. But my moment of time was spoiled as I reflected on what a 30-year ex-deacon told me. "I helped scrape the hole for LOMA Lake until my hands were cut up." Now, I understood what he was relaying to me. At that moment, I wanted to hold his hand.

The journey didn't end at the lake, as the next day I visited the "Ambassador Farms." I leaned on the very high quality fence to gaze at the hundreds of beautiful Holstein cattle, as they grazed in the far distance on the sprawled out hilly farmlands. Suddenly, the funniest thing happened. About 20 of the cattle started a rapid approach toward me. Their pace was fast enough to alert any gawker. I skeptically waited for their approach, only to be rewarded by the friendliest cattle I ever came across. It was almost as if they were saying, "Please take me with you!"

I accomplished much detailed research of what I will note in future OIUs. I did interview several students and had several tours of inside buildings, including the dorms. The stillness within the wall of the buildings mimicked that of the outside. One student asked me what I thought about the campus. I remarked that it was so quiet, similar to being on a remote island in the middle of the ocean. He said to me, "Wow, I haven't heard it described that way; most visitors say it's like living in a bubble or under a dome."

Some visitors might equate it to Brigadoon, especially if they try to find the University listed in the local telephone book. The campus consumes miles of the Usher County geography. It stretches in length of approximately five miles and is three miles deep. With an entity the size of Ambassador University, you'd think it would at least be listed by phone.

As I wandered around the campus inside and out for two days, I never came upon a building named after the founder Herbert W. Armstrong, nor did I see his picture hanging in what would be termed the obvious places. As I walked into the Administration building I was confronted by a detailed oil painting of Joseph Tkach, Bible and all, proudly displayed on a golden easel, but no Herbert W. Armstrong. If there was a dedication to HWA, I missed it!

How could this school of about 1000 students support all this? How could the church carry this financial burden when it is supposed to be financially strapped? I'm told the enrollment is significantly down for `95/96. Where does the money come from to maintain the opulence? What else is going on in Big Sandy? So many questions to be answered. Why haven't many others wondered these things, or did they?

Only 15 miles down the same road going west, sits the Headquarters of Garner Ted Armstrong, just a hop--skip--and a jump from Big Sandy. The assessment of this and other mysterious findings gathered from this journey will be relayed in the future.

To Be Continued

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