On July 17, 2004 Gerald Flurry gave a sermon to all Philadelphia Church of God congregations. Following is basically what he said, along with quotes from the Bible and Malachi’s Message.
First, he informed the membership that he had bought at an auction a nine foot long concert grand piano made by Steinway, and two seven foot tall crystal candelabra. These items were among others that were being auctioned off by the Worldwide Church of God and had been in the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena. Second, he gave a detailed account of the history of the building of the Auditorium and how Herbert W. Armstrong picked out the piano himself. He later told how Herbert Armstrong had acquired the candelabra in Britain at Harod’s. He also went into some of the history of the artists who had performed there.
During this part of the sermon, he made a statement that we need to keep in mind “Satan finally did take over God’s House and made it HIS HOUSE.” He again stated, “Satan did indeed take over the Church of God.” Third, GF gave details of the auction itself. He stated that he was prepared to pay $50,000 for the piano and $55,000 for the candelabra. A PCG minister named Craig Winters was representing the PCG at the auction. He was stationed in a back corner with a cell phone to receive orders from GF. The piano was auctioned first. When the bidding slowed down, GF got involved in it. The bidding went over $50,000, but GF made a last bid of $52,500 and won the bidding. [Note: Others have stated that the piano was from the auditorium, but not the one that HWA had played himself.] The candelabra were next. GF was prepared to pay $55,000, and that is what it took to win the bidding. The grand total was $107,500.
Later in the sermon, GF stated that an unnamed person unexpectedly sent in $100,000 in “tithes and offerings” after the auction, which conveniently covered almost all of the cost. GF stated, “We step out on faith and God backs us up.” His faith did, however, seem to have a limit in that he was not going to make any higher bids than he did. Also, he was not interested in bidding on the grand chandelier which was the centerpiece of the Auditorium. GF stated, “The only other thing we would probably have wanted very badly would have been the big chandelier, but if we had that huge thing, we’d have to build a bigger building just to accommodate it.” Why didn’t his faith include the chandelier? Why didn’t his faith envision a bigger building? Perhaps he knew just how much money was coming in for the auction.
I now quote the 1992 edition of Malachi’s Message, which has been revised five times since it was “delivered by the Mighty Angel.” I know for a fact it has been revised since then, so others may have a different copy. In the chapter, “Prophesy Not,” GF relates that the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) donated $100,000 to the Hurricane Hugo Fund and again to the San Francisco Earthquake Fund.1 GF’s words: “Wouldn’t the WCG’s $100,000 have been better spent on a special booklet or article revealing WHY THIS WHOLE NATION IS ON THE VERGE OF A FINANCIAL EARTHQUAKE? The worst in the history of man! Are they trying to smooth over the correction and chastisement God is sending to this world?!”
In GF’s July 17, 2004 sermon, what did he say about the “goods” just acquired by the PCG? “Really, brethren, I think if you, if we, had the money, I would think $100,000 would still be a bargain for those candelabras.” By buying the candelabra, the PCG has made some very dangerous enemies. This is what GF said about them: “The candelabra was used by the late Shah of Iran during the celebration of the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. The Shah had it made for that very, very special celebration. Then somehow it was sold to Harod’s in Britain.” That is where Herbert Armstrong bought them in 1973 for $23,000.
A further quote: “The man that was bidding against us, of all things, was an Iranian. He worked with the Shah and had something to do with creating and crafting these candelabras. And he was really, really angry. So much so that (Craig Winters) was worried about the way they were all acting. He had two other Iranians with him and they really, really, deeply wanted those candelabras.” Of course, Iran is the country that GF has named as the “King of the South” (which goes against what HWA taught). GF has stated and put in print that Iran is the “Head of the Snake” which should be “CUT OFF.” Later in this same sermon GF stated, “They have degenerated today into such beasts. They are like animals only worse.”
About the WCG, GF stated, “They are rich and increased with goods and they are concerned about things.” This is ironic when we consider that GF has just spent a small fortune to acquire “things.” GF compared the two candelabra to the two witnesses of Rev. 11: 3-12. He made this astonishing comment, “Two witnesses representing, I believe, two church eras.” A careful reading of Rev. 11 does not support that interpretation. Neither would HWA have agreed with it. GF is putting great emphasis on these two candelabra which were, after all, made by Moslems for a Moslem celebration. GF stated, “How much symbolism do you suppose might be in those candelabras?” Later he stated, “Those are not just certain physical things that we’re getting. That’s a vision from God. I believe that with all my heart.” What does he say is the purpose of this vision? “God wants more of us and He wants us to move faster and He wants more sacrificing. I just can’t read this any other way. He wants all of us to sacrifice more… Now I’m totally convinced God wants another House of God and another beautiful Hall of Administration.”1
What is the purpose of another “House of God”? GF stated that the Ambassador Auditorium was used to silence the critics of the WCG who wanted to label it as a cult. He stated that such criticism “didn’t wash” as long as concerts were being given to raise money for charity. Also, he stated that God wants us to “show them why they were created and put on this earth. We need to be building our culture and growing in that way.” How does God want Christians to grow? 2 Pet. 3:18 says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”
GF also stated, “We are going to be labeled a cult by a lot of our enemies. We need to fight that in every way we possibly can. And I think the best way to do that is through having God’s House.” Jesus stated in John 13: 35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Just how much will be spent on things and how long will it take before any concerts raise any money for charity to prove that the PCG is a “real church” and not a “cult“? Did the Ambassador Auditorium really convince cult-watchers that the WCG was not a cult? Did it really “change the world” as stated by GF? Tour guides in the city of Pasadena used to tell tourists that the “cult members” lived on the campus and “sacrificed animals.” How can GF expect 6,000 people (at most) to build anything like what 52,000 WCG members2 did in the 1970’s? He admitted in the sermon, “We expect to have one considerably smaller than that.” I expect, though, that it will cost the members all of the money that they can possibly spare.
Acts 7: 48-50: “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?”
Eph 2: 21-22: “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
1 Cor 3:16: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
Matt. 6: 19-20: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”
Gerald Flurry said: “If we’re going to thrive spiritually, I’ll tell you one way we can do it. We can keep our minds and our eyes on God’s Work and God’s House and that Light that’s shining out from this little church.”
Col. 3:2: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
John 6: 28-29: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
2 Cor. 11: 13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
By K. J. (former member of the WCG and PCG)
Also read: What Has Happened to Gerald Flurry?? (concerns from a former member regarding Flurry’s spending)
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life
consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15)
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world,
the love of the Father is not in him: (I John 2:15).
Footnotes by ESN:
2 Mike Hollman, director of data processing 1972-1973 clearly documented on his testimony, “Armstrongism: An Insider’s View,” that in 1973 the WCG had no more than 53,000 members at maximum. (Hollman was director of data processing in WCG from 1972-1973. Message available through Watchman Fellowship.) This was before the 11,000-member fallout in 1974. (Read: Myth 1 and 2 – the greatest of them all (in OIU 6, Pt 1) and “we find some discrepancies with the growth picture starting around 1978” (in OIU 2, Pt 2) for more. [OIUs available as PDF download]