I just discovered the ESN site this week and am “enjoying” reliving some of my memories.
When I was nine (1959), my late father started listening to The World Tomorrow broadcast. He was taken with GTA’s speaking ability, knowledge of current events, and authoritative style.
We started attending Worldwide Church of God services in Dallas, TX the next year. I remember being irritated, even at age ten, by the disingenuous way in which the ministry and leading members deliberately introduced the triple tithes and medical prohibition in a very gradual way in order to avoid scaring off new prospects.
Not long thereafter, I was incensed by a sermon or sermonette by Cecil Battles—a recent AC grad with an especially arrogant attitude toward the Mundanes of the WCG. Battles excoriated the members because he’d recently managed a youth outing in which several of the local teen boys wore used and unacceptable quality tennis or running shoes (probably old black and white Converses). To hear him tell it, this was tantamount to child abuse and neglect! I’ll never forget the little twit’s closing command: “MOVE!”
Then the “work parties” began. Since we were only a two-hour drive from Big Sandy, TX, the fathers and sons were expected to spend as many Sundays as possible clearing the Lake Loma area. On the “off” Sundays, there was always a needy person who needed to have his or her house painted, car washed or repaired, moving truck loaded, etc.
As I look back on that period, I have a newfound respect for Dad’s stamina: paying three tithes plus all the offerings, building fund, ad infinitum; supporting a wife and five kids on what was left of one income (Mom had to stay home as the WWCG prescribed), with almost no time off. He got home Friday evening dead tired, was busy all day Saturday with WCG duties (including getting guilt-tripped every week out for never being good enough), then cramming all the family chores plus “church work” into Sunday.
Another event stands out from that period. One day, during the Feast of Tabernacles at the old metal “tabernacle” in Big Sandy, the high and mighty GTA arrived for a royal visit, during which he regaled us Mundanes with a sad story that the “Work” was in dire need of more money. He “suggested” that the lowly members sacrifice by having lunch that day at McDonald’s, and giving the savings to the afternoon offering. I followed him to the exit, and watched in stunned anger, as the monarch climbed into his chauffeur-driven limousine! I thought to myself, “Yeah, I’ll bet you’re going to Johnny Cace’s for lunch, you lowlife!”
I graduated from AC Pasadena in 1972. One of the strangest experiences of my life was sitting in the gymnasium in January 1972 (the “overflow” facility for Ambassador Auditorium) as HWA lamely tried to ignore the fact that THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE DAY OF THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about “time to flee,” by telling the sheeple that the big news was that we were going to resume broadcasting on Radio Luxembourg after a one 19-year time cycle absence!
Much later, in the mid-`90s, I was flabbergasted as it dawned on me that many ministers were “hanging in” with WWCG for the pay and bennies [benefits] until United Church of God could get up and running. I also recall a very eye-opening Saturday afternoon in the home of Harold and Susan Smith in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State in the late `80s in which Harold regaled me and my then wife with some wild stories about some of our fellow alumni from AC (many of whom were then ministers).
It’s been only fairly recently that I’ve begun to learn just how despicable HWA and GTA were during those years when I verbally defended them against what I then considered misguided critics.
I’ll close with a brief episode from my short time with UCG. Shortly after Joseph Tkach Sr. died in 1995, my roommate and his friend were discussing the WCG situation. The friend said, just as cavalierly as you please, that it was obvious that God had struck down Joseph Tkach for leading the “church” astray. I’d never felt more estranged from everything I’d once believed than I was at that moment.
I could go on, but I’ll close with this for now.
By Monnie – Child survivor of WCG (first name used with permission)