In an hour-long sermon before the headquarters congregation of the PCG, Pastor General Gerald Flurry, 70, expanded church policy to prohibit any kind of fellowship with former PCG members and all "Laodiceans," even if they are members of a church member's immediate family.PCG members may no longer associate with their own children, parents or siblings if their children, parents or siblings are disfellowshipped PCG members or members of the WCG or any of its splinter groups other than the PCG.
Mistaken notionIn his sermon Mr. Flurry, a native of Oklahoma City, explained the new, or at least clarified, policy on fellowshipping and disfellowshipping."In the past," he said "some members" have operated under the mistaken notion that "relationships" with family members are permitted "as long as religion is not discussed." But "that is not what God says."The Bible "makes it clear that there should be a complete cut-off" of contact with any family member, no matter how closely related, with only two exceptions.• One exception is an apostate or Laodicean spouse of a PCG member. Scripture, Mr. Flurry said, dictates that "that relationship should be preserved as long as the [disfellowshipped or Laodicean] mate is pleased to dwell." He cited 1 Corinthians 7:10-14.A wife who is "pleased to dwell" with her PCG husband is one who is willing to live peacefully with him, with no tendency toward hostility or contentiousness."But if that mate becomes hostile or stirs up contention, it [the marriage relationship] should be cut off," Mr. Flurry said. "Where there is hostility you must cut off every time."• The other exception to the disfellowship rule is "unbaptized children" and other former PCG attendees who may have been baptized but were not "validly baptized."Mr. Flurry noted that Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, in whose footsteps Mr. Flurry conscientiously endeavors to walk, "had a relationship with his daughter" only because Mr. Armstrong "believed she was never converted."The fruits of Mr. Armstrong's daughter's lack of conversion "were there," said Mr. Flurry.Mr. Armstrong had two daughters, Beverly Gott, who died in 1992, and Dorothy Mattson, who lives in Sun City, Ariz.Mr. Flurry did not say which of the two he was speaking of, but Mr. Armstrong did have working relationships with both his daughters in his lifetime.Mrs. Gott frequently traveled with her father on his trips to visit world leaders and the Ambassador College campuses in Texas and England, even though many members of the Radio/Worldwide Church of God did not consider her to be a member of the church."As long as they [unbaptized or invalidly baptized former church attendees] were unconverted, we can have a relationship there," Mr. Flurry said, "but we do have to be awfully careful."If church members aren't cautious in their dealings with these kinds of relatives and friends, they can fall into grave error by promoting fellowship--ungodly fellowship--with somebody who really had been converted.Therefore church members must make sure anyone they have contact with who formally attended the PCG was never converted--that is, was either never baptized or was invalidly baptized--because "we don't want to use this as a cop-out."Mr. Flurry said it again, just to make sure the brethren understood:Although they may associate with their children as long as they were never converted, "if your children have been baptized and left [the PCG], that relationship should be severed. We must obey God's command."He explained what he meant by "God's command" in this context by quoting the apostle Paul in Romans 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them."It just amazes me that PCG members would go to their minister to ask for help in the following areas. What right does a minister have in telling you who you are allowed to visit with in your own family?He did mention that the PCG could encounter some legal problems if church members prevent their Laodicean parents from visiting with their children; that is, the Laodiceans' grandchildren.In such cases, the PCG ministry could evaluate the situation and might allow the Laodiceans some contact with the members' children, as long as the Laodiceans are not hostile and contentious toward the Philadelphian church members.Mr. Flurry also talked about church members who work for Laodiceans. To preserve their livelihood, the members may continue their employment with Laodiceans (or, analogously, with employers who have been disfellowshipped), but they should work toward finding a new job as soon as possible."The principle, remember, is this," Mr. Flurry said: "There should not be any contact with converted church members who have left, and that includes family members other than a mate."Mr. Flurry did say that, when shunning disfellowshipped and marked former members and Laodiceans, PCG members should take care to be "as inoffensive as we possibly can and as kind and loving and as considerate as we possibly can, regardless of what attitude even they may have."The exception to this rule would be if the ex-members or Laodiceans began "attacking" the PCG members.In that case the PCG members do not have to be as inoffensive, kind and considerate as they would normally be.Shunning, disfellowshipping, marking and avoiding Laodiceans serve the higher purpose, said the PCG leader, of sending an important message."Avoiding these people . . . get[s] a message across to them that they are influenced by the devil and we don't want to have anything to do with them."If situations come up that he did not cover in this sermon, Mr. Flurry said, then members can check with their regional directors for more clarification of church policy. If a regional director cannot answer a question, he will pass it up the line to Mr. Flurry for a final resolution.