I was a baptized member of the Worldwide Church of God from 1974 to about 1989. I came across your website after I stumbled upon a Tomorrows World telecast while pedaling a stationary cycle at my local gym. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here was a guy (Gerald Weston) who was basically preaching the same stuff I heard forty years ago, using the same basic format and by-words of the old WCG telecast, and talking about “The Key of David.” When I got home I immediately did a search on the Living Church of God, to find out that it was basically a Roderick C. Meredith splinter group, and pretty much a carbon copy of what I knew years ago.
I have read many of the testimonials offered on your site. I too received a lot of free literature as a teenager in the early 60’s when I learned that I didn’t have an immortal soul, would not go to Heaven after death, was keeping the wrong day as the Sabbath, the pagan origins of Christmas and Easter, and that the world was gonna end soon! I slowly became convinced that I found the one true church, and that if I ever “converted,” the WCG would be the only one I could make a commitment to.
In 1974, after years of receiving The Plain Truth, and later watching Garner Ted Armstrong on TV, I made a decision to follow God, and obey His will. That was the happiest time in my life as a Christian. Because I wanted God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in me, I contacted Pasadena, and a minister came out to visit. I wanted to be baptized then and there, but was told that he wasn’t prepared to do that even though there was a swimming pool in the apartment my wife and I managed. He did ask if I’d been married before, which I found strange, and invited me to attend services in Pasadena, and then in Reseda (we lived in Southern California).
From the very start, things just didn’t seem quite right. Church services were sort of secret and not open to the public, fellowship with the brethren was rarely about anything “spiritual” or one’s relationship with Christ, plus I learned that not only was tithing commanded, but that I also had to save money to attend the Holy Days (The Feast for eight days), and every third year kick-in another 10% for the widows (being called by God was expensive). I struggled with that one; sure didn’t know that was part of the package, and even sometimes regretted knowing “the truth” and therefore without excuse to obey.
Little things started happening after I began attending the Santa Barbara congregation. Out of the blue (to me) a local elder and deacon were disfellowshipped; for reasons unexplained. Then in 1976, the State of California imposed a conservator in Pasadena, and we had to send our tithe checks made out to HWA to Tucson Arizona. What was going on in God’s true church? After that cooled down….Garner Ted was kicked out for reasons only hinted at and not fully explained, except that Satan was persecuting the Church, and we should hold firm, obey and continue our support of the Church.
Other little things didn’t sit well. I continued to vote, as that was my right as an American and I didn’t care what the Church said on that one. Didn’t take it well when our pastor told a guy in Spokesman Club that the book he referenced in a speech was banned. And had a very difficult time, and prayed much to accept the decision over “makeup.” To me that was an old man’s turn of the century view that made no sense in the 1980’s, and left all church women looking dull and plain.
Having an “unconverted spouse” saved me from a lot of grief. My dear wife provided me with an excuse to limit my fellowship with other members, and limit the time I spent at services. She would point out hypocrisies and the general lack of any spirituality in the Church, only for me to insist it was not so, but internally realize that what she was saying was true. I always felt like a second class member in our congregation, and related best to other men with unconverted mates. Mostly all of our friends were not in the WCG.
It was a long slow process of being dissatisfied, unhappy and halfheartedly going through the motions but still fearing I was stuck unless I wanted to tempt the Lake of Fire. What finally did it was after HWA died, Joseph Tkach Sr. started revealing new truths. And what were these “new truths”? Well the new truth was: the old truth was wrong. Which made me think: “if what was true is now false, and if what was false is now true, well all of it is false (BS) and I’m outta here.” Right before the Feast, I feigned illness and skipped the Day of Atonement (and fasting), went to one Holy Day service in Pasadena, left before the offering service with my money in hand, and subsequently stopped attending and tithing. I did eventually get a call from our pastor, Mr. Courtney (whom I later heard quit and was working as a stock broker), but he made no great effort to get me to come back (he was probably on his way out too), nor did I ever get a call from any of my now former brethren asking if I wanted to talk about it.
It’s hard to believe that after 30 years I’m still angry about the whole ordeal. Not so much with the WCG anymore, but with myself for being deceived, fearful and blindly going along with others telling me what I should do all those years. Sadly my reaction was so strong that I threw the baby out with the bathwater, and have no further interest in anything biblical or Christian whatsoever, especially a warmed-over evangelical-like splinter group. On the positive side, I did quit smoking.