Have you ever wondered what kind of response you would receive if you inquired about attending PCG services? As you read through this letter, ask yourself if this is this the way Christ responds when someone desires to come to Him? Or if this the way secret groups operate?
Form Letter Mailed:
Dear Friend, Thank you for recently contacting the Philadelphia Church of God. We sincerely appreciate your interest in attending church services with one of our local congregations. Please carefully read this entire letter which gives information about your request to attend services with us.
We have congregations in many parts of the United States, Canada and in other areas of the world. All of our congregations are administered by dedicated, fully instructed, ordained ministers.1 While we do not advertise public church services, in all likelihood there is a minister serving in your region that would be available to contact you, visit you in your own home, and answer any questions that you might have about the Philadelphia Church of God. He also would be happy to discuss your interest in church attendance.
We have sent you this letter because our records indicate you have not read all of the material we require you read prior to speaking with a minister. We are interested in you attending services with us, but we also want to make sure you thoroughly understand our doctrines—that is why we ask that you read the books and booklets listed below if you have not already read them.
We require that you carefully read the following reading material BEFORE being contacted by a minister if possible: Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today, That Prophet and The God Family Vision.
In addition, we also require that you read the following books, authored by the late Herbert W. Armstrong: Mystery of the Ages,2 The United States and Britain in Prophecy, The Incredible Human Potential, Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?3 and Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?4 These books explain the major doctrinal beliefs of God’s Church in great detail.
Please let us know if you lack any of these titles, and we will ship them to you immediately. All of our material is published as a free educational service5 in the public interest.
When you are ready to speak with a minister, please provide us with your name, phone number and address. We will then be happy to have one of our ministers contact you as quickly as possible. No one will call on you unless you request it. But please remember, we urge you to carefully read the above mentioned booklets before you request the visit. Thank you again for your interest.
PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE DEPARTMENT
COMMENT FROM ESN: If the recipient of the above letter then dares to express surprise at all the literature they are required to read before having a minister even meet with them, they will then no doubt receive a letter (or email) such as the following which was written by Andrew Locher:
“Our visit request program forwarded your e-mail message on to me so I could reply in person. I am a minister with the PCG and want to explain our policy regarding those wanting to attend services with us. As you can imagine, each year thousands of individuals6 make a request to attend services with our Church. We are delighted with their interest, but know from experience that many of those who request information about attending services with the PCG don’t fully understand our doctrine.
“We believe and follow Biblical teachings that run contrary to some common Christian teachings/doctrines.7 It is our desire to help those who request a visit to understand we have different beliefs than traditional Christianity. For example, we keep the Sabbath from sunset Friday through sunset Saturday. Members don’t engage in work or other business for the Sabbath. Many of those interested in the Church don’t understand our doctrine in that way, and their interest quickly changes.
“There are other doctrines which are clearly explained in our literature that we ask all interested individuals to read prior to hearing from one of our ministers. As I stated earlier, we have thousands of interested people – but only a handful of ministers available to see to those requests. We have found it to be very effective to ask interested individuals to please read our material first to ensure they are ready to commit to God’s way of life8 that we strive to practice as a Church. If they are still interested after reading the material – we quickly respond with a personal visit from one of our ministers. It is our intention to quickly see those who have a genuine interest and calling to this faith. We would love to see our membership grow, and do all that we can to promote that as God directs.
“I am sorry that background wasn’t better conveyed through the standard e-mail response you received.”
Posted by AJW
Exit & Support Network™
NOTE: This letter was what was sent out a few years ago but probably hasn’t changed much.
Update: As of 2017 Andrew Locher was a PCG HQs pastor and Department head of Mail, Business, Legal, Security, Information Technology, Headquarters Office, Festival, Chief financial officer; Council of Elders. For more about Andrew Locher, read: Shameless Sermonette Exploits Members Financially (April 17, 2020 letter to ESN)
Philadelphia Church of God Info (History, teachings, destructive Methods)
1 Most of these “ordained” ministers had their ordination established as a result of being a member of PCG and believing that GF is “God’s man.” In other words, they are “their own authority.” To understand more about this, read: “Ordinations in PCG” (letter to ESN).
2 Read our two critical reviews of Mystery of the Ages
3 Read: Why Church Leaders Demand Holy Days For Their Members
4 Read: A Critique of Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?
5 It is “free” until one becomes a member and finds out they must pay 3 tithes, including tithe of the tithe, generous offerings (especially on all the mandatory holy days), building fund, etc.
6 This number is no doubt blown out of all proportion. PCG has been steadily losing members, and are reported to be down to only a few thousand today. See Philadelphia Church of God Info under “Membership Declining.”
7 Almost all of PCG’s doctrines run contrary to traditional (i.e., historical) Christianity’s teachings. Read: Mystery of the Ages (a critical review) by Kelly Marshall. HWA plagiarized and copied most of his material from others such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses (this review goes into detail about that in chapter 3, pt. 2; just search for the word “Watchtower”) and Mormonism (see chapter 2 of the same review; search for the words “Latter Day Saints”). Also read: Herbert W. Armstrong’s Religious Roots (the origin of Herbert’s unique doctrines) and how he copied from 7th-day Adventism and the COG 7th-Day, especially the “required reading” book on PCG’s list, The United States and Britain in Prophecy (originally entitled The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy.)
8 See Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform. Once someone becomes a member of a high demand, totalistic group, they are not allowed to challenge the leadership (i.e. the “government”) and must remain obedient to all they are told. This is “God’s way of life.”