This letter by David Covington has been circulated among many others in the public domain. It boldly confronts Greg Albrecht’s twisting, untrue statements concerning Covington’s true motives and the fact that Worldwide Church of God was functioning as an abusive system. David Covington mailed a copy of his 10-page letter to the Exit & Support Network™ on June 14, 1996.
Note: We no longer post David Covington’s letter of resignation, but a synopsis of it is here: WCG Minister David Covington resigns, accuses church of spiritual abuse [offsite link]
NOTE: Excerpts from David Covington’s resignation letter to Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. were printed in Ambassador Report #62, July 1996. [Read ESN’s disclaimer about the AR]
Note: Much more about Greg Albrecht and his questionable activities can be found on our site by going to our search and typing in Greg Albrecht’s name.
NOTICE: See Update on WCG at end and how they are now known as Grace Communion International.
Friday, June 14, 1996
Greg R. Albrecht
Worldwide Church of God
Pasadena, CA 91129
This open letter is in response to your May 31, 1996 reply to author Janis Hutchinson which was reprinted by the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) administration.
You know me to be a man of integrity who truly cares about people and is faithful to Jesus Christ. Your current May/June 1996 Plain Truth uses my credentials to bolster its article on Jesus’ ministry of healing. You publicly stated at the Tulsa regional conference that you were proud of me as a person and Christian. But, now, after I have broached publicly some difficult issues, you imply my motivation is sinister, my claims completely false and conclude your letter with the following:
“Most, if not all, of Mr. Covington’s statements and implications about church structure and finance are simply untrue. In many cases, the truth is the exact opposite of what is alleged or implied. We don’t know where he got his information, but the fact is he spoke without the facts about matters he clearly knows nothing about” (p. 10).
No! It’s just the opposite, and you know it. I am certainly not a Paul, nor do I consider you a Peter, but I do oppose your actions because you are clearly in the wrong. Your letter is permeated with hypocrisy, distortion and untruths, and I will prove it. You are not acting in line with the gospel, and before the church I beseech you to repent.
Greg, I have heard your testimony, and believe your heart is right. We have had numerous intimate discussions about the healing that comes through our Lord. I know you to be a sincere, born again believer. Your life has been transformed by the power of the gospel, of which we are not ashamed. The Holy Spirit has given you gifts to share the gospel. But this behavior is not in accordance with your identity in Christ. And, it is wrong!
I certainly don’t speak to you as any kind of superior, but as your student. You are the one that has been my mentor. But I beseech you as a brother in Christ to be honest and tell the truth. You write that your response is not for public relations. Why then was the letter immediately reprinted and propagated without Hutchinson’s knowledge? Why was it filled with numerous distortions and blatant falsehoods? Why did you not relate the numerous personal and private discussions you and I had on these issues beginning in February 1995 and how you never labeled me misinformed or deceitful on those occasions?
When we first talked for nearly an hour and a half over the telephone in February 1995 about some of the same issues from my resignation letter, you ended the call with heartfelt prayer. You mentioned to God that I had brought up some tough issues you didn’t really want to address, but knew that the church had to. I tell the truth! That was your prayer.
In Pasadena, in August 1995 we had long discussions behind closed doors at your offices. I mentioned some of these same issues. I told you that if I could not faithfully preach Jesus Christ in this fellowship that I would do so somewhere else. I tell the truth! You later mentioned to me this struck you as my being very naïve or your being hardhearted. But you mentioned it struck you because no other minister had said such a thing to you. This was well before you used me for conference workshops or Plain Truth articles. You have known my stance on these issues. Don’t you dare give another impression. You know I have never misrepresented myself but have always been up front about my objections to our structure.
You and I discussed many of these issues on numerous occasions during the regional conferences. When I finally pleaded with you for some real answers in Portland, Oregon, in March 1996 you dodged my questions several times, but then concluded with the statement that you knew I was telling the truth. That is what you indeed said.
I do not intend to respond point by point to your letter. I will demonstrate some of the blatantly false and misleading statements you presented to Hutchinson and those who received your reply. When Hutchinson responded to my resignation letter she wanted to know if she had been lied to, deceived and if the administrators were sincere. At that time, I bent over backward to explain to her how you were sincere, trying to do your best, but misguided in approach. My resignation was about abusive structure. But, in good conscience, after reading your reply to her, I will no longer be able to give such excuses if you do not publicly apologize for the blatant untruths in your letter. The response of the WCG to my resignation letter has been cultic, slanderous and deceptive.
1. You wrote the following concerning my Worldwide Church of God status:
“Mr. Covington . . . effectively destroyed the church’s plans to continue using him by suddenly and surprisingly resigning from the ministry and the church” (p. 2).
This is blatantly untrue. My resignation letter of May 11, 1996 stated: “As a result, I must resign from the full-time ministry” (p. 1). I did not resign either as a member of the Worldwide Church of God or as an ordained preaching elder, but as stated, from the full-time employ. I request you retract this unfounded statement.
In fact, you are the one member of the administration who contacted me after my resignation. Your short note informed me that the Plain Truth would not be publishing my pending articles. Then you concluded “I will pray that Jesus will provide you comfort and grace as you leave the employ of the Worldwide Church of God and that you will find the Rest that you need.”
Your final reference to my finding the Rest (with a capital R, i.e. Hebrews 4) that I need seemed to me a veiled allusion to a lack of conversion. This from a person who made very strong statements in the past year about what he would say if anyone questioned his spirituality again. Your wife, Karen, was much less ambiguous. In her letter dated May 15, 1996 she referred to me as being like Judas Iscariot, self-centered, angry, intellectually vain, unbelievably immature and inexperienced, youthfully impatient and arrogant, a pouter, not having paid my dues, not knowing what spiritual abuse was, and being desirous of furthering my personal vanity (and all that in only two pages).
2. You wrote the following about letters refuting my complaints:
“We . . . have avoided the temptation of sending you a large file of letters and e-mail messages sent to Mr. Covington by members and ministers who are appalled by his actions” (p. 1).
While your administration may have avoided sending these letters to Hutchinson, someone gave into the “temptation” to send them both to my congregation in Roanoke, Virginia, to my previous congregation in Memphis, Tennessee, and to permit their posting on the unofficial Worldwide Church of God (WCG) publication, The Good News Grapevine, which goes to WCG members all over the world via the Internet.
One current WCG pastor wrote to me concerning these comments (May 20, 1996): “First allow me to apologize for the hurtful and misguided responses I have read regarding your letter on The Good News Grapevine. Their responses are evidence to me of our abusive past and present, our tunnel vision regarding the work of Jesus, and the monumental task of recovery.”
Some of the statements that have been shared by WCG administration through regional pastors Mark Cardona and Keith Brittain and on The Good News Grapevine are simply slanderous. Ambassador student Rose Lance is quoted in Good News Grapevine Update 150 dated May 15, 1996: “Do you feel the way you handled this was ethical? My brother said you have been thinking about leaving the ministry since you arrived in Roanoke.” Greg, you know this to be a lie. I suppose some other administrator did as well because when a package of negative letters was passed out to the Roanoke congregation on May 25, 1996 the sentence about my having wanted to leave the ministry for a year was deleted. I now ask for a retraction from The Good News Grapevine, as well.
Other comments have impugned my character, true intentions, emotional stability, etc. Again, the letters propagated around the world on The Good News Grapevine were then edited and slanderous statements were removed by someone before the material was shared with my congregation.
WCG pastor Marty Davey wrote “David will find he can’t always have his way in whatever ‘healthy’ churches he bounces around among over the years” (GNG, Update #150). This was changed to “whatever churches he attends over the years.” Please consider this a request for a GNG apology from the authors of these various statements, its editor, Ron Lohr, and the Worldwide Church of God. Mr. Lohr refuses to respond to my requests for him to send me copies of the recent updates, again, several of which contain personal attacks on me.
3. You wrote the following regarding Hutchinson’s misunderstanding of my offer to the administration to go through my workshop:
“Mr. Covington’s concept that his “two offers” to conduct workshops have been ignored is nothing short of surprising. . . ” (p. 2)
You know full well Hutchinson misunderstood what I was referring to, and you clearly exploited that. On two different occasions I offered to facilitate the workshop I was giving to the ministry to your administration (Messrs. Tkach, Feazell, Albrecht, Rice, Schnarrenberger, Dick, Schnippert, Lapacka, Kelly, etc.). Both times there was simply no response for the need for the administrators to go through the workshop on a sensitive and healing approach to ministry that you were asking the ministers to go through. Feazell, Schnippert and Tkach were in the room when I offered this in Atlanta. The other offer was to you on cc:mail March 14, 1996. I wrote, “I also wanted to throw out to you the idea of having a workshop . . . for the headquarters personnel . . . . I know Joe, Mike, Bernie, Randy and Tom have not attended a workshop.”
4. You wrote the following about the administration’s support of my conference workshop:
“It is a simple fact that the administration provided and supported Mr. Covington’s workshops even in the face of considerable resistance from numerous ministers and wives to Mr. Covington’s approach and tactics during the workshop sessions” (p. 3).
I believe this statement is extremely misleading giving the impression that my workshops weren’t effective or competently facilitated. This is a self-serving falsehood designed to diminish my credibility. I did not volunteer for this assignment; your administration chose me.
And, Hutchinson gave extensive input for these workshops. She wrote me the following on December 30, 1995, “Excellent! I read your handout and was impressed. If what you teach in your workshop is an indication of what will take place in the church, it is great and I know many will be blessed as a result.” She also gave a number of meaningful suggestions that I implemented.
The following notes were written to me by various members of your administration. Why did you not mention any of these instead of giving such a false impression?
“I want to thank you for your good work at the Regional Conferences. The work that you have done on the two volumes of sermons that are available to the ministry is significant. And, I wanted to let you know it is much appreciated” (Joseph Tkach, December 21, 1995).
“I heard some wonderful comments about your sessions in Palm Springs, and am delighted that your ministry is touching hearts and minds among our own ministry” (Greg Albrecht, Plain Truth Editor-in-Chief, December 22, 1995).
“Hi Dave, Just wanted to take a moment out of answering 100 messages to send you another vote of confidence and again say how much I appreciate what you are doing at the conferences. I know you’re getting some negative vibes, but I believe the fruit is good and important. Thanks for taking it on the chin and remaining professional, dignified, careful, and above all, committed. And don’t forget that the positive vibes are far more than the negative ones. Don’t be daunted. You are doing a great job with something that has to be done, and Joe and I appreciate it very much” (Mike Feazell, January 20, 1996).
“While in Pasadena a week ago, I had a fairly long conversation with Mike Feazell about the value of what you are doing and how grateful I am for your kindness, concern, and giftedness in this area. Mike holds you in very high regard and I personally felt the need to validate your contribution to the ministry and the church . . . . We have so many ministers that are living with emotional pain because of our past dysfunctional MO, and we all need the comfort that comes from brothers and sisters that understand and exercise the gift of encouragement, as you do” (Carn Catherwood, Church Administration, February 2, 1996).
“Ever since the Portland trip, Greg Albrecht has been very enthused about our involvement with you in producing a video on spiritual abuse” (Larry Omasta, Production Services, April 11, 1996).
“A suggestion I have is to start your discussion with the question of whether or not abuse has existed in the church. Obviously, many will say yes, and then you can move on to discuss it per se. . . . I have heard many good comments about your workshop, by the way” (Bernie Schnippert, January 14, 1996).
Tammy Tkach, Vicki Feazell, Susie Dick and Richard Rice 1 have all participated in my workshop and given very positive feedback. The evaluations of the workshop by the ministry were also extremely positive. Question #1 on the evaluation form was “I found the workshop effective in developing skills for a ministry of healing to our members.” Out of 399 respondents, only 4 persons marked “disagree” and 0 marked “strongly disagree.” Eight persons marked “Don’t know.” 253 checked “strongly agree,” while 134 marked “agree.” These evaluations were anonymous. Your portrayal is false.
There were a very few individuals who were indeed very upset about the approach. The majority of them attended the Atlanta conference. Of the 12 persons who marked “don’t know” or “disagree,” 8 of them attended in Atlanta. Joseph Tkach sent me a blind copy of the following correspondence with one of those individuals:
“You asked that I provide biblical guidelines for ‘dredging up’ past injustices and to explain how 1 Peter 4:1319 and 1 Peter 2:19-23 fit into David Covington’s approach …. You use the term ‘dredging up’ when referring to David’s small group session. I would be surprised to find David using such a term. Rather, he would ask people to share a painful event only if they feel safe doing so in the group. He also explains that no one is required to share anything unless they choose to do so. Therefore, your description of what is demanded is inaccurate …. David Covington’s approach is to model emotional honesty in validating the emotions that people feel regarding the pain from past events that in many cases has never been acknowledged or discussed …. It is dishonest to pretend that suffering should just be accepted from fellow members and that we should behave as though these things did not happen. I hope and pray you can see this kind of reasoning is misguided” (Joseph Tkach to WCG pastor’s wife, January 24, 1996).
5. You wrote the following concerning the church’s income:
“It is simply untrue that the church headquarters somehow spends most of the money on itself and gives very little back to the churches” (p. 3).
Whoa!? Perhaps it is easy to say, but, it simply is not true! The administration has admitted it spends the following: $8 million annually for campus upkeep; $6 million for Ambassador University; $4 million for the Plain Truth magazine; $4 million proposed for the radio ministry; and there are still 300 employees working in Pasadena. On the other hand, there are a few more than 200 fulltime ministers in the field, and you pay for the hall rental of congregations. I believe it is a dishonest distortion to validate the above statement by saying money paid to headquarters employees actually goes to the local churches.
It was reported in the Worldwide News (March 12, 1996) that campus upkeep is $8 million per year. In the Pasadena employee meeting June 4, 1996 it was reported that Bernie Schnippert quoted the church’s budget as $46 million. In your letter you mention to Hutchinson that “about 8 percent goes to maintain the HQ properties” (p. 4). $8 million is actually 17% of $46 million, more than twice what you quoted. It would appear you utilized the budget of 1995, not 1996, as the budget has been cut 50% in the past year, according to Bernie Schnippert (June 4, 1996 employee meeting).
If one simply adds up the millions devoted to the campus, Ambassador, Plain Truth, and radio, the result is $22 million. That is nearly half the reported budget of $46 million and that does not even include the 300 employees in Pasadena.
Despite these good intentions that the vast majority of the money flows to the local congregations, according to your letter the WCG last produced a financial statement in 1994. And, even then, you admit some difficulties for many in understanding the material produced in the Worldwide News. There are tremendous accounting personnel in Pasadena, as you mention, yet, there has been no financial accountability from the WCG for nearly 1 1/2 years?!? And, a statement by you that most of the money goes to local congregations is supposed to suffice. Where’s the proof?
My wife’s grandmother passed on to us the monthly financial report of her small town Baptist church with its listing of how each dollar of its funds were spent in the past 30 days. About 200 attend on any given Sunday, many of them are elderly, and it is not located in a wealthy area. Yet, they have their own building, employ a pastor at $35,000 per year (plus parsonage), minister of music $21,000 per year, pianist ($3,000), organist ($2,000), secretary ($7,000), janitor ($6,000), grass cutter ($875), and nursery workers ($4,000). They also give to a cooperative program, missions fund, hospital assistance, missions trips ($20,000), and upkeep their facility, building fund ($60,000), utilities ($20,000), etc., etc.
You also wrote the following:
“A greater percentage of our income probably goes to the direct and indirect support of local congregations than any time in our recent history” (p. 4).
Of course, that would not be difficult to accomplish. In 1990, there were some 1,200 employees in Pasadena. From my best recollection, upwards of 30 million dollars was spent on television, upwards of 30 million dollars was spent on two Ambassador campuses, upwards of 15 million dollars was spent on the Plain Truth. I don’t know how many millions were spent by the Ambassador Foundation on its concert series, foreign projects and foreign assistance. And, there were millions spent on other items in the past as well. In my presence, both you and Norman Shoaf made a number of jokes about the extravagant Steuben crystal used as gifts in the past.
The congregations received a full-time pastor split between two churches and hall rental. Not hard to beat that record.
Again, you did not address current regional pastor Craig Bacheller’s statement in January of 1995 that his congregation received 19 cents back for each $1 sent to Pasadena. The statement that your administration doesn’t know where I got my information is, of course, completely false, since Mike Feazell was the one to whom Craig directed the comment.
6. You wrote the following about the consequences of a congregation incorporating:
“No, a local church congregation could not unilaterally decide to change the organization and governance of the church and expect to still retain its identity. Thus, if a local church were to incorporate for some reason, they would by this act be removing themselves from the Worldwide Church of God …. This is just common sense” (p. 4).
It may be common sense. But, once again, it is just not true. There are in fact WCG congregations that have locally incorporated and retained their identity in the Worldwide Church of God.
7. You wrote the following about the local congregations social event funds:
“Our churches already have local funds for purposes of their own social events, etc” (p. 5).
Let me clarify that these local funds are produced by the fundraising efforts of the congregations by selling fruit and/or candy, etc., above and beyond their tithes, festival savings, seven “holy day” offerings, etc. This was not made clear for Hutchinson.
8. You wrote the following with attached rumor distracting from the point I had made:
“Is the Pastor General “sole owner” of the corporation? If not, how is it set up?’ No. The church is incorporated as a California religious non-profit corporation. The rumor circulated by some that Mr. Tkach owns all church property is ridiculous and untrue” (p. 7).
I would like to quote the WCG bylaws as presented in Ambassador Report (AR #58, April 1995):
“2.2 `Corporate Governance” shall mean the Pastor General . . . . 2.3 `Ecclesiastical Decision’ shall mean a decision that requires religious considerations. Such decision shall be within the sole and subjective discretion of the Corporate Governance [heretofore defined as the Pastor General], shall be conclusive and final …. 4.2 Only the Pastor General shall be empowered to call meetings of the Members of the Corporation . . . .”
“5.1 The Corporation’s books, documents and records shall be deemed absolutely confidential and secret and no person shall have any right of access to or utilization of said information unless authorized or subsequently approved by an Ecclesiastical Decision [heretofore defined as solely administered by the Pastor General] . . . . “
“6.1 The governance of the corporation is, after the biblical example, hierarchical in form. Joseph W. Tkach shall hold the office of Pastor General of the Corporation and the office of Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors . . . . “
A lot of legalese. Yet, it would seem to even the casual uninformed observer that in a very real sense the Corporation of the WCG is the Pastor General, the “Corporate Governance, ” the “Ecclesiastical Decision,” namely, Joseph W. Tkach. Your letter indicates many, myself included, just wouldn’t understand such matters. Oh, no. We understand all too well. That’s the problem.
9. You wrote the following regarding the bylaws and the decision of the board, giving the distinct impression significant WCG power is vested in a board:
“The church, to my knowledge, has never published the bylaws …. It is a judgment the board must make about what should be confidential and what should not be. If they wish to publish the bylaws of the church at some future time, it will be their decision” (p. 7).
Again, from the alleged copy of the bylaws:
“6.2 The Pastor General shall have the sole power and authority to appoint and remove officers of the Corporation. He may exercise said power and authority at any time, with or without cause or notice. 6.3 The Pastor General shall have the sole power and authority to appoint and remove any singular member of the Board of Directors, or the entire Board of Directors of the Corporation. He may exercise said power and authority at any time, with or without cause or notice. . . ” (ibid).
Thus, given Mr. Tkach can release the board in its entirety without cause or notice, it would appear it is a dummy board just as I described in my resignation letter from Toxic Faith:
“There may be a board of directors, . . . but when the authoritarian ruler picks them, he . . . picks people who are easily manipulated and easily fooled. What appears to be a board of accountability is a rubber-stamp group that merely gives credibility to the leader’s moves …. Then when a practice is called into question such as an extremely high salary, the persecuting dictator justifies it by saying the board made the decision or approved it” (p. 169).
10. You wrote the following about WCG governmental structure:
“The bylaws simply delineate in legalese what everyone already knows-namely, that we are a hierarchically organized church, that the Pastor General is the chief governing officer, and that he, the board members and the officers are appointed rather than chosen by vote. Mr. Covington may or may not like the structure, which, by the way, was in place long before Mr. Tkach (Junior) assumed his role of Pastor General, but it is in place unless and until legally changed. Mr. Tkach cannot simply ignore our bylaws and do what Mr. Covington likes any more that the President of the United States can ignore the Constitution if Mr. Covington doesn’t like it” (p. 7).
I believe the reference to the Constitution is extremely relevant, given our government’s system of checks and balances with executive, legislative and judicial branches having oversight of one another. Charles Kennedy, professor emeritus of religion at Virginia Tech, wrote the following:
“A religious base to the government of the United States is in fact described in the Constitution, and it comes from a Christian theologian. John Calvin 2 argued that, since all humans are sinners, they will want to advance their own selfish interests, not the interests of others. Therefore, a rational form of government requires a set of checks and balances against the selfish desires of individuals” (Roanoke Times, October 22, 1995).
It is, of course, very difficult for our country to modify the Constitution, though it can be done. Is that also the case for the Pastor General of the WCG? Are there any checks and balances to keep his administration from becoming tyrannical?
“Article 8.1 The Pastor General shall have the sole power and authority to amend or repeal these Bylaws” (ibid).
The statement was made that Mr. Tkach can no more ignore the bylaws than the President can ignore the Constitution. It would seem to be an incredibly dishonest and misleading analogy, especially if the Pastor General can change the Bylaws at his discretion, a power the United States would never extend to its President. The Declaration of Independence comes to mind.
11. You wrote the following about why a person might want to see the bylaws:
“Oftentimes the only reason a person wants to see confidential documents is to use them for their own sinister purposes. The church has an obligation not to allow people with harmful motives . . . to rifle through its files” (p. 7).
Wow! If this kind of classic spiritual abuse wasn’t so devastating, it would be laughable. I grew up in the WCG. It has been my whole life. My career, family, friends, church, education, etc. were in this fellowship, and I was a successful pastor. Now, I must start all over again. I have not started my own church. I am unemployed, but my motives are sincere, and I have followed my convictions. You respected that about me until I stood up publicly against the corruption I observed in your own administration.
On the other hand, you present yourself as completely faithful and honest as you spend the $4-16 million dollars allotted your department. It’s incredible that the cultic dynamics of WCG are so powerful that most cannot see through that facade. I pray the Holy Spirit will free those who have been so enslaved, for “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). But, I am impugned as having “sinister” motives. I quoted the following in my resignation letter, and it has come to pass:
“If the whistle-blowers reveal the group’s problems to the outside world, the group will mobilize to discredit them. Sometimes trumped up counter-charges are aired, but most often the troublemaker’s mental and emotional state is brought into question” (Healing Spiritual Abuse, Ken Blue, p. 75).
12. You wrote the following about the Pastor General’s desires:
“The Pastor General has stated he wishes to move toward a more representative board structure, but has not decided exactly how this might be done. A fundamental change of this type should not and could not be made without serious deliberation . . . . Mr. Covington is not versed in these matters and we cannot be held to his uninformed timetable” (p. 8).
An M. Div. student and WCG member at a recognized seminary, who is “versed in these matters,” turned in a paper discussing WCG authoritarian structure (May 13, 1996) prior to seeing my resignation. He sent the paper to me, and I quote portions from the first two paragraphs below:
“The church [Worldwide Church of God] maintains a hierarchical form of government¹ with no downward accountability, which almost invites the continuation of pastoral abuse. At the top is a ‘pastor general,’ Joseph Tkach, who with his late father, courageously began the very welcome, though painful, reform process. But Tkach, functioning as a kind of Protestant pope, still exercises nearly absolute power.”
“Though apparently unwilling to publicly discuss questions about the legitimacy of the kind of authority he and his subordinates continue to wield, Tkach–along with most pastors and members of his church–realizes the WCG has been quite abusive.”
13. You wrote the following about Mr. Tkach’s raise:
“Mr. Tkach received a raise because, and ONLY because, he received a considerable promotion in his responsibilities by becoming Pastor General” (p. 8).
And, the reader is supposed to believe this was written for Hutchinson’s benefit and not for public relations, as you wrote? In fact, it was reported that at the WCG special Pasadena employee meeting June 4, 1996 the question was asked by a WCG employee: “With the cutbacks many now have much more responsibility or an actual promotion, but no corresponding raise–why?” Hard to reconcile?!
In closing, Greg, you have confessed publicly on several occasions in the past year to be a recovering spiritual abuser, legalist and hypocrite, even when in a position of religious authority as the Dean of Students of Ambassador College. This year you sponsored workshops and gave a lecture because of the spiritual abuse the WCG has perpetrated. Now, you attack me personally and publicly and state the church has always been set up this authoritarian way, so it will continue to be. You are enabling and supporting spiritual abuse, and I call on you to stop the deception, publicly apologize for the false statements and accusations made against my person and stand up for the good of the membership whom Jesus loves.
Ken Blue writes that, “Spiritual abusers are curiously naïve about the effects of their exploitation. They rarely intend to hurt their victims. They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don’t notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers” (pp. 12-13). But, Greg, I know you are not so deceived. I have seen the struggle in your own heart. Please, don’t give in to peer pressure or self-interest. Take a stand for the cross!
The stand that you have taken thus far appears to be one for the WCG. The following quote is reported to be what you said in the June 4, 1996 Pasadena employee meeting: “God will not let this fail. We must not forget that the eyes of Christendom are focused on our little group.” I’m sorry; they are not. They are fixed on Jesus Hebrews 12:2). One of the hallmarks of an abusive group is more of a focus on the church than on Jesus. Even in the public response to my letter Mr. Tkach mentioned the historicity of the WCG changes. Is your goal of the success of the WCG more important than the truth? Is it worth the sacrifice of thousands of WCG members?
My resignation was definitely not about doctrine! It is about corruption and deceit. This is not about too fast or too slow. It is about being honest and putting the members of the WCG before organizational continuance. This is not about personal gain. You are the ones gaining from the ongoing abuse and deceit. And, unlike years past, I believe you know better!
Standing up for Jesus,
“Christ calls us to spiritual maturity. And that sometimes means resisting spiritual authorities, just as he did. I agree with Arterburn and Felton: ‘We must have the courage to follow Christ’s example and overturn the system. . . if that system is wrong. Silent submission in the face of violence, dishonesty and abuse will only enable that abuse to be passed on to generations “‘ (Healing Spiritual Abuse, p. 36).
David Covington stated:
“In February 1995 I was sharing my concern for the members and the truth of the gospel with one of the three current leading WCG administrators. He told me that I needed to understand how much ‘Armstrong worship’ they had to deal with among the membership. I responded that they in the leadership facilitated this approach by continuing to use Armstrong to control people, long after his death. Privately, one of the other three told me he had come at one point to view the church founder as a ‘charlatan.’ Yet, nonetheless, these private views seem to be put aside. The July 4, 1995 Worldwide News again hearkened back to his false teaching. ‘Recalling the Final Sermon of Herbert W. Armstrong.’ It stated, ‘And if that should ever happen [the pastor general die and be succeeded by another], you will follow [him]…and your eternity depends on that. Everyone of you. Don’t forget it…’ This was a few short months before the installation of the current pastor general and several months after the ‘changes regarding salvation.’ The January 1997 Worldwide News demonstrated the ongoing use of Armstrong to control members keeping them on a sinking ship.” (Taken from David Covington’s Ministry of Healing website, 1995; no longer online)
NOTE: The last Exit & Support Network™ heard from David Covington was the following email:
Subject: Re: Ministry of Healing website
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 19:19:38 EDT
Thanks for your kind note. I do not plan regular updates, but have been contemplating a short addition or two since receiving your note. I do spend most of my time in Fiji now and don’t have much time for the WCG stuff anymore (if you have seen the Truman Show movie, you will understand better). Best wishes and thanks again for the note.
NOTE BY ESN: In April 2000, Covington’s email address was no longer valid and as of August 2000 David Covington’s Ministry of Healing website is no longer up. In light of what happened in the ensuing months after this letter was sent, Covington sadly appears to have been used only as a pawn by the WCG to further their agenda and then was discredited and cast aside.
Letter Exposing Outright Lies, Abuses and Sociopathic Behavior (Reveals the truth about what was really going on at the time of the changes. Written to Janis Hutchinson who succumbed to the WCG propaganda.)
WCG Minister David Covington resigns, accuses church of spiritual abuse [gives a synopsis of the letter; offsite link]
Update on WCG:
In November 2004 the Worldwide Church of God moved its headquarters from Pasadena to Glendora, California. In April 2009, they 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.) Today they have gone on to embrace New Age Teachers and philosophies. Read: GCI – New Age and Ecumenical Connections and On Apostasy–A Radical Proposal (Letter to WCG, Philippines) (this letter reached close to 350 WCG ministers, including those at Headquarters).
UPDATE: In April 2018, GCI relocated its headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina. Joseph Tkach, Jr. will retire at the end of 2018 and Greg Williams will replace him as GCI’s President. (GCI Update, March 14, 2018)
Footnotes by ESN:
1 Richard Rice died suddenly July 27, 2003 of a massive heart attack.
2 For more on John Calvin and his reformed theology, read: My Journey into Calvinism [offsite link]. Also see the book: The Judaizing Calvin. (available through Amazon)