My father, Vyron Wilkins, was one of the 12 charter members of Philadelphia Church of God when it was founded, and gave Gerald Flurry his VW van when WCG took back his company car, leaving him without transportation. For the last eight years he served as a minister in PCG, pastoring the Lawton, OK church, and was also a senior editor of the Philadelphia Trumpet. He took no pay during that time, and in fact paid tithes to PCG on his retirement income.
On September 28, 2001, at the age of 71, my father died of heart failure. During the two and a half days he was in the VA hospital in Oklahoma City, no PCG minister, and only one PCG member (other than family) visited him in the hospital. The VA hospital is less than 20 miles from “headquarters” in Edmond, OK.
During his tenure at PCG, Stephen Flurry was named as the editor of the Trumpet. My father continued with the actual editing, and as Stephen Flurry could not open email attachments or operate a fax machine, he would demand that this elderly man with a heart condition drive the hard copies of edited articles from Norman, OK to Edmond, OK, a distance of some 45 miles each way. Often, this drive was made as late as midnight on Sunday nights. This caused additional strain on a dangerously weak heart. When my father was discharged from the military in 1978, he was found to be 100% disabled. His condition only worsened after that.
All of this was done by Vyron Wilkins for no pay. Presumably, Stephen Flurry was paid for his efforts though. There is no explanation why Stephen Flurry could not have made the drive to retrieve the edited articles, other than the obvious one, that is. The callousness and arrogance of doing this to an elderly man on a regular basis, gives a pretty clear picture of the Flurry family values.
Less than a week after my father’s death, PCG informed my mother that she is not eligible for any sort of widow’s benefits from their church, either as an indigent widow, or as the widow of a minister. I had approached Barbara Flurry1 at the funeral (she stopped by, and did not stay for the service), and advised her that I expected a pension to be offered to my mother, as she is 71, in poor health, and has only the widow’s benefit left from my father’s military pension. Barbara explicitly assured me that they would be giving her a pension, and that it had been promised to her already, the weekend after my father died. Less than three days later, Barbara called and told my mother that she wasn’t eligible, and that my father wouldn’t have wanted her to take a pension anyway. Presumably PCG still collects third tithe for widows and the indigent, however it appears that their practice is to talk those same widows out of taking those funds. That this was done to a widow less than a week after her husband’s death is appalling even by secular standards.
The fact that they do this while building Imperial College2 is breathtaking in its audacity. They don’t have funds to take care of long time faithful members who have fallen on hard times, but they do have money to build a self aggrandizing college for Stephen Flurry (of limited education) to become dean. At the very least, I would urge all members to withhold third tithe until a full accounting has been made by PCG of where those funds are really going.
I think what happened is something that PCG should be very ashamed of. Since my father’s death, no PCG minister has bothered to visit my mother, who lives local to the HQ church. One of them has phoned, but that’s it.
By Sharon Wilkins
October 26, 2001
Read: Where Most of PCG’s Third Tithe Goes To
Footnote by ESN:
1 Read: Mrs. Barbara Flurry Suffered For Years With Health Problems
2 Imperial College was renamed Herbert W. Armstrong College in 2006.
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