Worldwide Church of God Changes Name
to Grace Communion International
Religious cults use tactics such as confusion and distortion whenever making new changes in their organization. The confusion causes cognitive dissonance in members and when it is great enough, it will facilitate the changes being put forth.
The following will highlight some of this ongoing confusion and spin that took place. This information is very likely to make your head spin, so we recommend you read it slowly and more than once. We have bolded the names of their registered domains in order to try to cut through some of the confusion.
However, in doing a check, WCG had not only created and bought the domain name for Grace International Communion (in October 2005), but Grace International Fellowship was created and bought in August 2005.
In March 2006, a WCG announcement was made which said there were too many members who were "against the name communion," and so they wouldn't be choosing Grace International Communion after all. (One must wonder why members would object to the word "communion" when it has been used for some time in regard to their partaking of the Lord's Supper?2)
In addition, WCG also said some members didn't like the "sound" of Grace International Communion, but others later "warmed up to it" and still others wanted WCG to "reverse" the order of words and have the name as Grace Communion International.3
It is interesting to note that WCG also created and bought the domain name for Grace Communion International in August 2005.
WWCG says "some" told them the name Grace International Communion sounded "Roman Catholic." They go on to tell us that their present name of "Worldwide Church of God," when translated into certain European languages, "sounds like the ancient name of the Roman Catholic Church" and that they've even received letters from Catholic bishops objecting to it.3
This is absolutely ridiculous and one must ask what all this has to do with finding a new name? It doesn't. It simply adds more ludicrousness to the double-talk and confusion WCG is known for.
One question that comes to mind is, will WCG churches that have incorporated "Worldwide Church of God" into their name change it after headquarters makes their new name change?
Towards the end of 2006, WCG admits that Grace Fellowship International was the name their committee "favored," but then they discovered it was already in use and could have caused legal problems.3 WCG is well aware of the fact that before buying a domain name the person has to check first to see if the name is in use; therefore, why do they even bring up about "favoring" this particular name?
We shouldn't be surprised to find out who created and bought the domain for Grace Fellowship International. It was none other than Worldwide Church of God in Nov. 2005!
In April 2006, a former WCG member emailed WCG HQ to ask if they had chosen a new name yet. He received a reply back from Paul Kroll who first gave a "short answer" in one sentence, saying no, they hadn't. Then he proceeded to give a several paragraph "historical sketch" of their search for a new name (which the former member hadn't asked for and which would have served to divert his attention elsewhere).
WCG has said some of the new names submitted by members and ministers in 2006 were "too long and cumbersome."3 One has to wonder how much longer a name could be than the ones WCG has already mentioned, "favored" and even created and bought the domains for?
WCG also states that some of the names submitted to them "sounded cultish."3 Why would names submitted by "members and ministers" of the WCG sound cultish? Does this mean you can tell a "cult" by its name?
WCG declares their present name "sounds old fashioned" to others.3
They tell us "some" people had a "negative reaction" to their present name (because of HWA) and these people "leave thinking we are the same church we once were."3 Again, this makes no sense, since why would someone attend the congregation in the first place if they believed this? There are also still WCG churches that use "Worldwide Church of God" in their name.
We are told by WCG that before 1968 the name Radio Church of God (their first name) made sense because "the church had pioneered religious radio broadcasting."3 This is quite a twist on their true history. WCG goes on to explain how, in the 1930s, `40s and `50s, a name that included "radio" sounded "dynamic and modern." But that by the 1960s it began to sound "quaint and out-of-date."4 If this is true, then why do ministries that have been around for sixty years or more, such as Thru the Bible Radio Network in Pasadena, CA (began broadcasting on radio in 1941 and still broadcasting today) and Southwest Radio Ministries in Bethany, OK (began broadcasting on radio in 1933 and still broadcasting today), continue to use the word "Radio" in describing their ministry?
This is only more foolishness to sidetrack the members. WCG is quick to add that many well-established organizations change their old names to "something snappier to reflect new realities." When an organization has something in their past that they are trying to hide, this is usually true, but old established institutions are actually proud of their past and hesitate to change their name.
Loaded language is frequently used when WCG talks about their name (past and present). While they say the name of a church becomes its "trademark" and "helps people form a concept of who we are,"3 it's also a way of causing members to disassociate from their past history.
Joseph Tkach has called the pending new name change their "denominational name change." Experts who have studied religious cults consider such words (i. e., "denomination") the new rhetoric for deceptive groups who desire a new name after going mainstream (as many cults are doing today5). Doctrine and "new" changes can also be used to cover up the real agenda.6
Will The Worldwide News continue to retain its name in certain countries such as Africa and Australia?7 Or will they incorporate something "snappier"?
On and on they go with their reasons as to why they need to make a name change and why they haven't done it yet.
Counting all the variations for .org, .com, .net, .biz, .info, and .us, we've counted sixteen names they've bought, counting their present one. Who knows how many others there are?
The list of the domain names they registered are as follows:
Could WCG possibly be waiting until most of the domain names they've registered expire before choosing their new name? Will they later deny to gullible members that they even registered so many? Only time will tell.
Taking on a new name would allow them to be forever beyond any lawsuits and legal entanglements, as the corporation of Worldwide Church of God would no longer exist. (Read more about this in letter to author Janis Hutchinson) After the doctrinal changes came in 1995, WCG was considering changing their name to "The New Covenant Church in Christ," but it was put on hold. (Read this part in OIU Newsletter 3, Pt. 2 and this part in the same Newsletter for more info.)
Religious cults have been known to be masters at disguise and it is common for them to change their name every so often in response to exposure, along with avoiding lawsuits. Boston Church of Christ changed their name to International Church of Christ and has fronts under many other names.8 The Children of God (which emerged from the Jesus People Movement) changed their name to The Family of Love and today are known as The Family International.9
Worldwide Church of God is connected with (or subsidizes) the following: Church Multiplication Ministries (CMM); Plain Truth Ministries; Ambassador Center at Azusa Center; Azusa Pacific University; Ambassador College of Christian Ministry; New Life Fellowship (Glendora, CA); Northern Light; Living Today; The Plain Truth; Life Today...A Perspective; Worldwide News; WCG Today; Together (prior to May 2006 was entitled WCG Today), Christian Odyssey; Face to Face (in South Africa); Living Light (in Bangalore); Eastern Canadian Youth Camp; Silver Meadows Camp; Youth Ministry; Youth Only; SEP Camps; Discovery Weekends; and others not known.
WCG continued down the long road of procrastination in choosing a new name--which allowed more and more confusion and suspense to be planted in members' minds, and knowing when the change finally came, members would be so relieved it was all over with that they would accept whatever name was chosen, no questions asked.
At last, in April 2009, Worldwide Church of God 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.)
WCG soon became involved with church planting10 and many of their churches and congregations changed their names to a different one. They have since gone on to endorse New Age teachers and philosophies and to become part of the ecumenical movement.11
We recommend that our readers read books which explain how thought reform works.
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
January 23, 2006
Updated January 14, 2016
In the October 2005 issue of WCG Today12 (formerly The Worldwide News) Joseph Tkach states, "This would not be the first name change for our church: Herbert W. Armstrong changed it twice--once from Church of God, Seventh Day, to Radio Church of God and then to Worldwide Church of God." One must ask when HWA ever named his church "COG Seventh Day"? It was first known as Radio Church of God and then he changed it in 1968 to Worldwide Church of God. This can be verified by checking out archives of The Good News online.
Joseph Tkach goes on to say that the name "Worldwide Church of God" is "poisoned" because of the "negative associations with Armstrongism." Is it really the name that is "poisoned," or is it the organization itself that is poisoned, due to the damage it has caused to thousands of lives? That and the fact of the scandalous and corrupt history which the top leaders have tried to cover up.
This issue further states: "For many in the public arena, the name Worldwide Church of God is assumed to be the church affiliated with Garner Ted Armstrong or Herbert W. Armstrong."
WCG's PR campaign during the time of the changes made certain the public was notified through books and the media that they were now "changed."
The article uses the word "denomination" throughout, saying that through their history their "denomination" did such and such. Again, one must ask what denomination? When was the WCG--known for decades as a destructive Bible-based cult that used thought reform on its members--ever known as a "denomination"? But here is what Tkach says: "...throughout our history as a denomination, we have used different names for the denomination in different areas that are not always exact translations of Worldwide Church of God." Yes, and those who listened attentively to The World Tomorrow broadcast never knew there was a "church" (calling itself "God's one true church") behind it that they needed to enter--until they worked their way up into the Ambassador Bible Correspondence Course. (See: How Did HWA Recruit People?)
Worldwide Church of God was originally listed in The Kingdom of the Cults by the late Walter Martin. When the book was revised, their name was removed. Isn't it strange that at least "Armstrongism" was not covered, since there are hundreds of WCG splinter groups today?
Religious cults are known to mutate; change their name, and go underground.
For more information, read the OIU Newsletters which looks behind the scenes at the real activities and associations pertaining to the "transformation" of the WCG and their New Age agenda. Reveals how doctrine has been used as a massive propaganda tool.
Note: In May 2006 Worldwide Church of God moved all their offices to their new headquarters in Glendora, California.13
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
January 23, 2006
Updated May 28, 2015
UPDATE: There have been hundreds of offshoots and splits from the Worldwide Church of God, many which claim to be the "restored Church of God," the "original Church of God, the "true church of God," the "continuation of the true Church," the "remnant of the Philadelphia era," etc. See: Offshoots & Splinter Groups of Worldwide Church of God.
Transformed by Christ (a critical review) (shows history revision and whitewashing of their founder)
1 WCG Today, February 2006
2 "Questions & Answers About the Lord's Supper" (1997-1999)
3 FAQs About Changing the Church's Name, Together, November-December 2006.
4 Together, May-June 2006.
5 "From Cult to Church: The Quest for Acceptance," audio by Ron Enroth, 1994.
6 Many feel "church" is merely a front for what are actually highly funded organizations with millions of dollars in investments. Today they are shedding their distinctive features, blending their ideologies, and becoming united under the name of "God." Much of Christianity is being replaced today with New Age philosophies. Are we beginning to see the coming together of an ecumenical, one world religion? Read more about HWA's clandestine involvements in OIU Newsletter #6, pt. 3. Also read: Grace Communion International - New Age and Ecumenical Connections.
7 In Feb. 2005 The Worldwide News (first published in 1973) in the United States changed its name 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.
8 ICC is also known as "Campus Advance," "Upside Down Club," "Alpha Omega," "Campus Christian Movement, " "Hope on Campus," "Christian Advance," and "Students Advocating Christianity Today."
9 The Family International has used other names such as, "Heaven's Magic," "Martinelli," "World Services," and "Fellowship of Independent Christian Churches." (Offsite link shows list of this group's many pseudonyms, fronts and umbrella organizations.)
10 Together, July-August 2007, "New Church Leadership Training Conference." In GCI's Church Multiplication Ministries "General Resources" list, they have a link to Emerging Church's Rick Warren under "Pastor's Toolbox." They are also listed on: Church Planting Leadership Fellowship, August 20, 2010.
12 WCG Today, October 2005, "WCG considers denominational name change," by Joseph Tkach.
13 Together, May-June 2006.