In 1994 (after leaving the WCG) I went into the Philadelphia Church of God. After some time, I saw things that weren’t right, but I was after all in “God’s church” and I didn’t want to disobey government. But when my minister and his wife were suspended by Cal Culpepper, I was in shock. After their son got married, they couldn’t walk into the hall until everyone else was already seated, then they were “allowed” to only stay for the ceremony. After that, they had to leave and they couldn’t talk to anyone. This man and his wife served the members faithfully for years, and this was their reward–embarrassment, shame and humiliation–all because Calvin Culpepper ran the show, with his protégé Aaron Eagle. They were “allowed” to return but not as a minister, and they never spoke about what happened. Unfortunately, he has since died, and I know his wife is still attending.
This minister had a brother who also was a minister for many years. He, too, was suspended because he called HQ for an anointing cloth instead of his boss Cal Culpepper. He was never allowed to come back and a few months later died alone.
My finale came in February of 2011 when my 12 year old car had to have $700 hundred dollars worth of repair and I “borrowed” from my second tithe for the work. In March, a few days before the Passover, I had gotten the flu and called Aaron Eagle for an anointing cloth. I told him about the car repair and borrowing from second tithe. He told me that was “holy money” and I had no right using it to fix my car. He said he would to talk to Cal Culpepper and get back to me but in the meantime, due to sickness, I wouldn’t be able to take the Passover. I hadn’t missed taking the Passover in 26 years, and now I would have to take the second.
The day before the second Passover, Aaron Eagle called and said that Cal Culpepper and Gerald Flurry had discussed my situation and they decided that I wouldn’t be taking the Passover in a worthy manner so I wasn’t to take it at all. I was dumbfounded and could barely speak. He informed me that in the next two months Cal Culpepper would be in town and we could get together to talk about the situation.
After he hung up, I went to Scripture. I saw how it is each individual’s decision–my decision–to make. How did they know what I had talked to God about? Repented of? Who were they to make a decision like that for me? And that’s when it really hit me. They had been making decisions for me all along, about everything–the length of my hair, the clothes I wore, the money I gave, the job I could have, the apartment I could live in, what I could and couldn’t afford, the music I could listen to, the movies I could watch, what sites I could view on the Internet, my conversations on the Sabbath, the books I could read. Everything I did had to be built around them. My interests, my likes, my hobbies were gone. I realized I didn’t know who I was, my whole life was this organization and the people in it.
After that, I knew it was over. I saw the members differently. They were fearful and hesitant to voice an opinion. The joke was the hidden microphone and who could you trust not to say anything to the ministry. All for fear of being suspended or disfellowshipped. I wanted out, and I started going back over the “laws” they had put in place: tape libraries gone, CD’s destroyed immediately after services, the no-contact rule; even the men had to wear shoes with laces, especially at Spokesman’s Club. If holy day services were in another state, you were expected to travel there, incur expenses for hotel, meals and gas, plus your offering–all of this from your second tithe, which would leave less funds for the Feast of Tabernacles, and believe me when I tell you, you went to where you were suppose to go, because if you wanted to travel to another city or state to visit other brethren, you received a phone call from Cal Culpepper asking why you were going there instead of where you were assigned. To reconsider and change your plans, with them it’s numbers, the higher they are, the better they look.
In August, I was contacted by Aaron Eagle that I was to be at the hotel (when they were in town) to meet with them both. I emailed and told them I couldn’t attend, that I had things that were bothering me and I needed time to think. That was August of 2011, and I haven’t looked back.
The guilt is finally gone, and I hope to have a relationship with God again, but it’s slow coming.
By Eileen Graves (real name used with permission)
January 14, 2013
Update: Aaron Eagle was later disfellowshipped from PCG and Cal Culpepper was given his duties. In 2015 it was rumored that Aaron Eagle started his own splinter group.