The Worldwide Church of God is in the process of “weaning off” its members from the old ways of doing things. For instance, at the Feast of Tabernacles this year they will have a variety of new programs: workshops, a praise service, preaching on evangelistic themes, invitations to nonmembers, some evening services, more music, etc., etc. They’re even calling it the “Festival of Faith”11 to outsiders, yet telling the members that name is just this year’s “theme.” Bible studies have been started up in people’s homes–without a minister–and the members are being told they now have more control over what they do in “their church.” But all they’re doing is starting up what other churches call “Fellowship Groups.” In the meantime, the WCG saves money from not having to rent halls for regular Bible studies. They’ve even started up “prayer groups” in certain areas.
Boy, it all sounds so exciting! But is anyone free to choose whether they want to attend one of these groups, church services, or even the whole Feast? It’s certainly the expected thing to do if someone is “following and serving Christ.” What is really happening behind the scenes is the leaders are wanting to hurry and get the WCG as close to mainstream Christianity12 as possible, yet still dish out the manipulation, guilt, control, and regulation to keep everyone following lockstep behind the leader–who is now Tkach, Jr.–and to prevent as little division as possible. This will all look good to outsiders–especially to those that have never heard of the WCG, or if they did, are fooled by what they think is “a cult turning to God.” Actually, it’s more like “a cult finding more innovative ways to draw in more victims so the leaders’ lifestyle won’t depreciate.”
No matter how good it may seem to be studying the Bible together and praying together and understanding grace, none of them with convictions would really want to stay if they truly understood what their leaders have been–and still are–hypocrites, liars, deceivers, etc. If they are telling the members to “show love to others–get involved in the community and with nonmembers,” then why haven’t any of them reached out in love to us who have left and said, “We also believe in Christ. Let’s come over to your house (or you to ours) and have a Bible study and discuss Christ and the Christian way? Isn’t Christian love to be extended to all people–especially other Christians–in tangible ways?
The frank answer is because these members and “Christians” wouldn’t want to hear anything negative about their leaders–past or present. No criticism, no bad information, no complaining to spoil their happy, pleasant, joyful life. Nothing to rock their composure. Nothing to interfere with the “new program.” They certainly wouldn’t want someone disrupting their peaceful state of mind by mentioning ‘how abused and grief-stricken they have felt, and how the WCG has affected their health, family and emotions. No, that would dampen the dream world they are in. The past should be “forgotten” along with the old ways. Nothing is allowed in their minds that would threaten the “unity of the body.” Furthermore, they can’t ask us over to their Bible studies, or even to their homes, because we “left the Church.” No, it isn’t the one and only true church anymore “they’ve been told by Tkach Sr.,” but somehow it is still something everyone thinks they should stay in since “God placed them there.”
Is God somehow working in an extra special way with this group? They seem to think so. Are there still unspoken rules about what to do with those that have left? (E.g., “Be careful about any kind of fellowship with those that have left. Undertake it only if the former member maintains a positive attitude about the Church, and you can see hope of their possibly returning to our group.”) Oh yes, much love and friendliness will probably be exuded by most members if you happen to run into them–as long as you don’t say anything they don’t want to hear. Otherwise, once you leave the WCG…”Well, you made your choice. Go it alone. Don’t expect any of us to be coming around. We’re too busy being happy and having a good time.”
Exit & Support Network™
UPDATE: In April 2009 WCG changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.) They have since gone on to embrace New Age teachers and philosophies.
1 Much money was taken in at these “festivals.” [Update: By 1998 the WCG was calling the Feasts “optional” and by 2005, they were already phasing them out, only having “special worship festivals during the summer and fall of the year” by certain local congregations. In 2006 their “worship calendar” included Roman Catholic / Lutheran observances such as Maundy Thursday (also known as “Holy Thursday”), First Sunday of Advent and Last Sunday of Advent. They also have referred to Pentecost as Whitsunday and congregations have had combined services on that day with the church whose building they rent. (This ties in with their ecumenical unity with all churches.) However, several WCG congregations overseas (i.e., Philippine congregations), or in Canada (i.e., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) still observe a “festival” or “Fall Festival” either immediately before or after the Feast of Tabernacles. This time has been described as a “grand celebration” and “great family reunion.” (Worldwide Church of God Philippine Update, October 6, 2007; ESN update 2010)] Also read: Why We Thought We Had Such a Wonderful Time at the Feast and see at end “MORE INFO” which will show the days they are observing as of 2018.
2 Much of “mainstream Christianity” today has become liberal and apostate due to the infiltration of New Age ideas; also the church growth movement began in the early 1990s. See our Links: Discernment & Research and Grace Communion International – New Age and Ecumenical Connections.
Grace Communion International History (formerly entitled What in the World is Worldwide Church of God Doing Now?)
Includes selling the copyrights to HWA’s literature to Philadelphia Church of God for $3 million; sections at end: “What Are They Still Doing Today?” and “Need For Discernment.”
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