I have read about the abuse of the elderly in Philadelphia Church of God and thought it might be time, now that my mom has died, to provide yet another testimony concerning this issue. This one has an added difference. She was the widow of a minister in the PCG.
My mom’s marriage was not a happy one, although they both played at being happy for the congregations he “pastored.” One of the couples indicated they wished they had a marriage as good as theirs. After those people walked away, he elbowed her and said, “Boy, we sure have them fooled!” He was very controlling and Mom’s life was miserable. They had to change their will so that the PCG was the beneficiary of all they had. The will indicated the children were all adults and the inheritance could be better used by the Philadelphia Church of God. Before she died, she changed her will back to her children. PCG gets nothing more.
Mom inherited a tidy sum from her dad after waiting many years. Her husband had wanted to give it all to the PCG. Fortunately, he died before she received it. That did not stop the PCG from getting a hefty portion of it anyway.
Now for her story. I don’t know about the widows of all of the ministers, but I can testify that this widow received no pension or help from PCG headquarters. After she had given a great deal of her inheritance to the PCG, and being only on social security and still tithing that little sum, she requested third tithe assistance as her rent had gone up. You know this is the tithe that is supposed to be used for the widows and fatherless. Well, they took several months to get back to her. It took so long that she had to renew her lease and was on the hook for rent for another year. Finally, her regional pastor, whom I won’t name, but his first and last initials are the same [C. C.], called her and told her that if she had been a better steward of her money she would not need to “beg from the church.” You read that right–beg. They thanked her for her donations and then accused her of being a poor steward of her money because she needed help.
She was devastated. I suggested she ask for her money back so that she could show them what a good steward she could be if not being coerced into giving all her money to them, but she wouldn’t do that. She decided she couldn’t live on her own anymore and, like a good PCG follower, she counseled with her regional minister about moving in with her son, my brother. He told her she was not been allowed to move in with him because he was “toxic.” This minister didn’t know my brother. He had never been in a “church of God” [WCG offshoot] but he had made it quite clear to our stepfather minister how he felt about the whole thing. She decided she was going to move in with him anyway and did. Yay to my mom! This was the beginning of her thinking on her own.
They sent her one small check that would not have helped her so she told the regional minister that she had moved in with my brother. He was livid and told her she should be suspended. She indicated she would gladly give back the money as her son, who treated her very well, was taking good care of her. She was happy. She was not suspended at that time. She lived with him for about three months. He never stopped her from going to services or doing anything she would have normally done on her own.
One evening my brother called and asked if I would be able to meet them for dinner at a new restaurant that had recently opened in our town. I jumped at the chance as Mom and I didn’t get to see each other on a regular basis (I was supposed to be shunned for not joining PCG). As they were getting ready to meet me, my brother smelled smoke and found that his house was on fire. He called the fire department, got my mom out of the house and then died of a massive heart attack.
Well, she had nowhere to go except to my house so she moved in. So in one short space of time she lost her son and her home and just about everything she owned. On the day of the funeral the regional minister’s underling called her while we were eating a very nice lunch provided by my brother’s church. He insisted she call the regional minister within a half hour and I told her that was not going to happen and that she could call him when we got home, whatever time that was. Long story short, she got a call from the regional minister who suspended her for moving in with me and also told her it was her fault my brother died and his house burned because she had disobeyed him. Did you catch that? She disobeyed him not God. He also accused her of going to UCG [United Church of God], which is not true. She went nowhere after she was cut off from PCG. She tried to get in touch with Gerald Flurry who did not return calls or even bother with her. She was devastated because she thought he would do something as he knew her personally. The cause of the fire was electrical from wiring that was very old, and my brother, who was 62 at the time of his death, had heart problems and 17 stents to hold his arteries open. I’m sure it was not my mother’s fault for disobedience to that man. She never did find out if she had been finally disfellowshipped but she knew the drill. The flock is usually told that “Satan got to the person.”
She did some real soul searching and studying of the Bible and not GF’s literature. None of her friends contacted her nor did my sister, who is still with the PCG.
She was in and out of hospitals and rehab centers for a couple of months and during that time was anointed at least three times by the ministers from the church I attend and visited by those she had formerly shunned who had never gone to the PCG. I might add that she never did believe the shunning was right and a lot of the people in the PCG don’t believe it either. They live in fear. These were her own words. She told me she feared the regional minister more than God and came to realize that was not the way to be.1 There is no love in the PCG ministry. She indicated her previous minister, Aaron Eagle1, was a much better person than the minister she had at the end and she thought that he was put out because of it. She saw that God is trying to build a family and that Satan, through PCG, is trying to destroy families.
In the end, Mom had to recant what she said when she told me she had to shun me for my own good, about being poor, blind and naked when she realized it is the PCG that fits that description.3 Your website also helped her as there were several articles or testimonies where she said, “I know who these people are! I often wondered what the real story was.”
I also found a couple of letters in Mom’s remaining belongings from someone who was suspended for no good reason and then found out she had been disfellowshipped from those in PCG who still kept in touch with her and from some who were also out of the PCG and were treated the same way. The lady was not told by a minister that she had been disfellowshipped but the congregations were told that she was.
So Mom knew for at least 14 years how the PCG worked but had to experience it herself before she could believe it. Mom saw the truth about the PCG before she died. My long time prayer was answered. I know that there are some who take what is said on your website and use it on other websites to make fun of those who have suffered, but if people don’t speak up more will continue to suffer. Being in a situation like this is painful and devastating. Thank you for allowing us to share our experiences so that others may be helped.
1 The “government of God” (i.e., the top minister) in abusive groups, takes the place of God. More is explained in Why do members emphasize the “government of God”?
2 Since this testimony was written, it has been rumored that Aaron Eagle started his own splinter group.
3 PCG has been described as a Bible-based cult. Read: Identifying Marks of an Abusive Group