NOTE: Since I know that Living Church of God employees and ministers regularly monitor this blog I want to make it perfectly CLEAR that the author of the letter below did NOT send this to me.
Below is the letter that was recently sent out by a family in the Living Church of God after Rod Meredith, Rod McNair and Bob League disfellowshipped and marked them. While many here, including myself, wish that they had truly moved on to freedom away from the LCG/COG movement, I nonetheless understand the mental anguish they are going through.
I witnessed this kind of behavior at the hands of Rod Meredith around the time of GTA's disfellowhipment and the Receivership time in the late 70's and early 80's. With one broad swoop Meredith sent out hundreds of disfellowshipment letters to members that he thought were aligned and sympathetic to GTA and the people who initiated the lawsuit that led to the Receivership. I remember one woman showing me her letter and being in a state of shock. She had done nothing wrong and petitioned to have it revoked. Meredith would not even listen to her.
I was speaking to a person the other day that had worked with Meredith in Pasadena in the 60's - 80's. He said that Meredith has always been a vindictive and mean spirited man. He thought part of that came from the fact that Meredith had no marketable skills. He could become highly jealous of highly successful church members and the amount of income they had. Meredith has always been on the dole of the church his entire life. Due to his advancement through the ranks he thought that also included more and more perks, none of which he ever actually worked for. The man is so inept at things that he could not even start his two separate splinter churches after being disfellowshipped from the Worldwide Church of God. He had to rely on funding from financially well off church members to keep his income coming in.
I do not know the connection to the authors of this letter to the Scarbourough family that was in Pasadena many years ago. I have a feeling they are part of that family and if so they are experiencing the exact same thing that Gene Scarborough experienced at the hands of Rod Meredith in the 80's. Gene ran a highly successful natural food store in Pasadena called Granny's Pantry. Meredith was also behind kicking out Gene from the Worldwide Church of God. I remember Meredith telling the local Pasadena churches that they were to no longer shop at Granny's Pantry because Gene had been disfellowshipped and marked. Meredith's expectation and many others was that Gene would loose his business due to the drop in income. Many church members ignored Meredith and connected to shop there. Gene eventually sold the store and it is still in operation to this day, decades after Meredith's god supposedly was going to shut it down. Once again, a successful church member (ex at this point) had succeeded. Meredith resented this with a passion. How could his vindictive god not do the things he expected?
The letter below is sadly like the thousands of others that flooded the Internet as the Worldwide Church of God and various splinter groups imploded over the last two decades. These same sad stories have occurred over and over. The same vindictive mean spirited men are still doling out punishments and retributions for every imaginable scenario. The security and comfort of a familiar church family is ripped apart and shattered. Friendships are destroyed and sometimes families broken up. Spiritual lives are shaken to the core. The ironic thing in all of this is that these same men were appalled when they got their disfellowshiment letters and were marked. They felt the hurt and abandonment and many swore to never let that happen again. It only took a few months or a year or tow twill these same men were back to their mean spirited ways. It's all about control and you can see that plainly revealed in the letter below. Meredith and crew thought they could control and manipulate this family and it has backfired. Big time!
In posting this letter it is not really about the family moving on and leaving the Church of God and finding true freedom and peace, though I wish they had, it is more about making visible once again the control and manipulation that the COG leaders use against members. Mean-spiritedness always seems to trump when grace is missing.
Dear Brothers and Sisters In ChristPatrick and I have recently run into several of the Charlotte LCG brethren in different places while running errands around town. We were shocked to learn that they consistently believed that we had left the church and didn’t want to come back. I’m not sure if these was assumption on their parts or, if that is what people are being lead to believe from leadership. Nonetheless, we wanted to clear things up so you would have our side of things to put an end to the speculation once and for all.We love and miss ALL of our LCG brothers and sisters more than you will ever know. We think of little else. We truly considered all of you to be our family. We love you so much. Patrick and I have mourned the loss of our church and our friends like a death. The last 6 months have been absolutely awful. I cannot count the times I’ve cried or verbalize to you the profound gut wrenching sadness we have experienced over this loss. Our hearts are truly broken. We NEVER WANTED TO LEAVE LCG. We never even knew we were in threat of being dis-fellowshipped.There have been many rumors as to why we were marked and dis-fellowshipped. At first, they believed we gave Cogwriter information about Mr. Apartian’s negative views of LCG at the end of his life which were posted on his blog. LCG called Bob Thiel and he fully exonerated us of all charges. Next they believed that we had tried to get Charles Ogwyn to leave Living and to start a new church with us. Again, there was not a shred of truth in this. Patrick spoke with Mr. Ogwyn and he confirmed that he had absolutely NO RECOLLECTION of any such conversation. He told us that he was going to tell Mr. McNair that his information was inaccurate and he is an honest man so we can only assume that he did exactly that. Next we were accused of causing division in the Charlotte congregation. There is again, no truth in this. I told them that they could interview all 250 Charlotte brethren and not one of them would say that Patrick and I were divisive. We fully agree with church doctrine. These offenses would possibly have been worthy of dis-fellowshipping but we were not guilty of any of them.To this day, 6 months later, we have still never been given so much as one truthful reason that warranted receiving the worst, most strict punishment available to LCG leadership; being completely cut off, being robbed of all our friends, having our names and reputations dragged through the mud for THINGS WE NEVER EVEN DID WITHOUT SO MUCH AS EVEN ONE COUNSELING SESSION.Initially, we truly believed that LCG had been given mis-information and that as soon as they became knowledgeable of our innocence they would make everything right and we would once again be in the fold of LCG brethren. Sadly, this didn’t happen. They are now fully aware that we had no hand in these things. Many of our friends all over the US have been questioned by church administration about our character, attitudes and loyalty. All have attested that we were not in any way divisive or in opposition to church doctrine. Again we hoped that coming into that knowledge would soften them and help us return to the fold. Again, it had no effect.For reasons that we do not understand, Mr. Meredith and Mr. McNair have hardened their hearts toward us and it appears that no amount of truth revealed can change their minds.I have written literally DOZENS AND DOZENS OF LETTERS pouring out my heart, begging for forgiveness for whatever offense I committed, pleading for them to at least meet with us to talk. We have called over and over again beseeching them to counsel with us. We even called Mr. Meredith directly one day (he knows the extension from having once worked at headquarters) but he said “I can’t talk” and hung up on him. How can you mark someone you’ve never even spoken to? One would think that marking would be a last resort after trying repeatedly to work things out! There are even men who have, in fact, left LCG to form their own groups taking with them LCG members; and THEY aren’t marked but we are.We met with Mr. League and Mr. McNair one time the week we were dis-fellowshipped. It wasn’t a counseling session but more of an interrogation session. There were a lot of things going on at the time and they asked us of our involvement in them (we weren’t). I fully admitted to having had a negative attitude over things that had happened to me in the past. I explained why we had been attending outlying congregations and why I didn’t like attending in the Masonic Temple but I also explained that I had IN NO WAY BEEN TRYING TO GET OTHERS TO STOP ATTENDING IN CHARLOTTE. There are others, including ministers, who share my discomfort of worshipping the Almighty from a Pagan Temple. Dr. Winnail told me specifically, in writing, that others shared my concerns. They didn’t get dis-fellowshipped. There is an altar filled with ash from offerings right behind the curtain where ministers are standing to preach to us every Sabbath. The hall is a temple. One only has to scratch the surface of research to discover the abominable things that happen there. There are so many scriptures that outline what God thinks about being worshipped from Pagan temples (Deut 12:2 , Exo 23:24, Exo 34:13, Psalm 78:58 , Deut 7:5, 2chron 31:1, 2kings 18: 4, 1corin 10:20 ). I never judged others for attending in that temple. I never tried to cause division over this issue. I just quietly made the personal decision not to attend in Charlotte after studying my Bible on how God feels when His people worship from Pagan temples. I was told from an evangelist AND a high ranking minister at headquarters that there was NO RULE THAT I HAD TO ATTEND MY LOCAL CONGREGATION and that it was okay if we kept the Sabbath in outlying congregations if it made us feel more comfortable.That night, Mr. League and Mr. McNair never alluded to the fact that we were in any trouble; never hinted at dis-fellowshipment or even suspension. In fact, Mr. McNair said that 100% of the people he had talked to corroborated that we were in no way involved with any of the divisions or heresies that were going around at the time. As a side note, the people that were involved ARE STILL SITTING IN THE CONGREGATION. They were willing to write over $20,000 in checks to earn forgiveness and avoid being kicked-out while others guilty of the same beliefs and behaviors that had no money were dis-fellowshipped. In order for “justice” to appear to be fair, the same crimes have to have the same punishments. Otherwise it looks like favoritism or vendetta. Proverbs 11:1 says, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but just weight is His delight”.As we left the meeting we were all hugging and talking about plans for the Feast which was just a few weeks away. We had no idea that we were going to receive a phone call from Mr. League and Mr. McNair the next morning saying that we were dis-fellowshipped per Mr. Meredith. We were caught completely off-guard and totally devastated. There was no mention of being marked. But then, two days later we were marked from the pulpit by Mr. McNair without ever being told. We found out from a shocked member of the congregation who immediately sent us a text message notifying us of the marking. We subsequently received a Fed Ex’d letter a few days later notifying us of the marking. By this time we had already begun to call and write feverishly begging for counselling; begging to work this out as Christians, as brothers and sisters. None of our letters were replied to. None of our phone calls returned. However, they hand wrote this at the bottom of our marking letter so at least we know they were aware of the fact that we wanted to counsel.
We didn’t let the letter discourage us. We continued to believe that this was all just a big mis-understanding and that eventually we would be called in to talk. I continued to write them on a nearly weekly basis; always begging for forgiveness; always pleading for mercy, love and grace; always expressing how much we love LCG and want to be a part of it; never getting a reply. Everything in us wanted to be back in our church; back with our brothers and sisters. We told them that we were “willing to do anything to clear our names”. They jumped to the conclusion that that meant we were going to sue them and so they started to spread that rumor throughout the church. To clarify, WE ARE NOT SUING THE CHURCH.As the 6 months drew closer, we were excited and hopeful to finally begin to work toward reconciliation. I wrote Mr. McNair again telling him how hopeful we were that we could work things out in time to keep the spring holy days with LCG. Again I poured out my heart in apology for my negative attitude and outlined many of the lessons this trial has shown me in my pre-Passover examination. My last letter got a reply, but not the one for which I had been praying for months. Rod McNair writes, “We are recommending another six months for you to examine yourselves, pray, fast, and ask God to grant you repentance”. ANOTHER 6 MONTHS?!? It was like being punched in the stomach. How do you tell someone, we understand you want to counsel toward reconciliation but we’ve decided that we won’t even speak to you for AN ENTIRE YEAR??? Actions speak louder than words – their actions say “we don’t want you, stop begging to be back in the church”! The act of making us wait an entire year before even having a conversation with us is not love. It’s not shepherding. It doesn’t show mercy, kindness, forgiveness or any other attribute of Christian character. It’s hard and it’s mean spirited. God tells us in in John 13:34 that we are commanded to love one another and in that love He will know we are His disciples. Do LCGs actions toward us show this love John speaks of?God says that He doesn’t even want to lose one! The job of a shepherd is to go after lost sheep, help them and counsel them so that they can remain with the flock. Not push them off the edge of a cliff, never looking back. Ezekiel 34:4 is about irresponsible shepherds and it says, “The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them”. I feel that this scripture perfectly describes what happened to us.Even if the church truly believed that they had a genuine grievance with us they are incumbent in the spirit of Matthew 18 to at least TRY to work things out as brethren. Simply refusing to talk to us or return our emails is not a demonstration of following Christ. We should know the accusation and be given the opportunity to face our accusers, if for no other reason, than to be able to apologize to them.
God says in Romans 12 that Christians are not to repay evil for evil. Verse 18 says “if it possible live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” says the Lord. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. If the Living Church of God really thought we were in trouble or slipping in anyway, the Bible instructs that they should have helped us. Matthew 5:43 admonishes us to do good to those against us. If LCG felt we were enemies worthy of marking, they should have showed us the love, mercy and “goodness” that Christ is speaking of AND THEN GONE THE EXTRA MILE. They should have showed us the fruits of the Spirit in kindness; NOT throw us out to the world to die. Again I tell you, WE NEVER WANTED TO BE OUT OF THE CHURCH.Forgiveness opens the door to reconciliation. An unforgiving spirit blocks the flow of God’s Spirit in our own lives. An unforgiving heart is paramount to the unpardonable sin. Mercy acknowledges that mistakes have been made BUT FORGIVES ANYWAY. True leadership is character in action. 1 John 4:20 says that if someone says ‘I love God’ but hates his brother, he is a liar. Mr. Meredith and Mr. McNair may say they love us, but their actions show otherwise. Friends who have dropped us like lepers may say they love us, but their actions say otherwise.Matt 5:23 says not to make an offering to God if you remember that your brother has something against you. First we are to make peace with our brother and then return to the alter to make the offering. This is God’s instruction, not our opinion. Not working to make peace is a direct violation to obedience to God. Matt 22:9 says that the greatest commandment is love. The entire law and commandments are based on love. It’s legalistic to strictly keep the Sabbath and Holy days but to completely neglect the weightier matter of the law. THAT IS WHAT THE PHARISEES DID.The God we worship cannot be pleased. The Christ I know prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. In His love and mercy He found forgiveness for the very men that were calling for His death! His disciples betrayed Him, denied Him AND YET HE FORGAVE THEM. He is our perfect example. Yet LCG can’t find forgiveness for Patrick and me AFTER 6 month of shameless groveling, begging, pleading, praying for the trite crime of having a negative attitude???Mr. Meredith used to always say, “follow me as I follow Christ”. I tell you brothers and sisters, Biblical principles HAVE IN NO WAY BEEN FOLLOWED in this situation. Matthew 18 was not adhered to. As I mentioned, we still don’t even know what the accusation worthy of marking/dis-fellowshipping is. We were never given the opportunity to face our accusers or the opportunity to try to work things out as brothers in Christ through counselling or conversation.We have been shocked at the number of very close friends who have completely severed ties with us to follow Mr. Meredith’s instruction even though they know we are good people, totally converted and not guilty of any crime worthy of the punishment we have received. I ask you, is that Godly character? Is it better to follow a man or to follow the instructions that our Savior left us with in His short time on earth? Christ preached that love was more important than even faith and hope. Christ preached that love covers a multitude of sins. Christ preached that we are to forgive our brother 7 times in a day if he repents and asks forgiveness. We have felt completely abandoned by so many that we believed were true friends. It’s been devastating.I understand and respect government but if what they are telling you to do is un-Christian and un-Biblical should you blindly follow? They are trying to put government over God’s written instruction. God is grace, mercy and abounding love and fairness. What is more important, man’s government which is tainted with ego, pride and self-will, or the Word of God? If a fallible man tells you to shun us but you know that it’s wrong, will you do it anyway? If they tell you we are bad but you have never seen evil in us, will you believe what they say or what you know based on personal experience? Sometimes God puts us through trials not just to see our reactions but to see if others will do the right thing. Will you stand for what is right or condone questionable behavior in blind submission? If you know the truth but don’t act on it God says you are just as guilty as the one telling the lie.Many of you will say, “I want to be faithful to the church, that’s why I’m choosing to shun you”. Faithfulness means to God, not to an organization of men. To confuse that can cost you your salvation! They do not speak for Christ. There is but one mediator between God and men and it’s not LCG. It’s Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5).As individuals we ask you to remember what you know of our character, review what God says about forgiveness and then decide if you are going to believe that we are enemies of Israel, dangerous and to be avoided; or, if we are begotten children of God, your brother, your sister; worthy of your love and your friendships. We love you all so much and pray you will choose the latter.We have come to the sad realization that LCG does not want us based on their actions and refusal to speak to us for a minimum of one year. We have done everything we know to do to try to get back into the church. I can’t force them to meet with us or forgive us any more than I can change the orbit of the earth. We have prayed our hearts out. Many friends have also prayed their hearts out. For reasons we may never understand, it is now clear that we won’t be allowed back into LCG.
Many have advised us that we should not attend with other groups as it will prove our loyalty to LCG. We have 2 children at impressionable ages so we must attend church. We have attended with COGWA and UCG and had excellent sermons across the board. It is clear that they too are God’s people. There are good and bad in every group but the good by far outweighs the bad. We can’t tell our kids that we have to obey God by keeping the Sabbath and the holy days and then stay home alone. We want them to love God and keep His ways so we need to set the example. Again, expecting us to stay home from church for AN ENTIRE YEAR would be suggesting that we put the word of man above the word of God. That is something that we are not willing to do. Besides, we will all be judged as individuals, not a group or corporate organization.We love and miss all of you so very much. We realize that you cannot openly be our friends out of fear of retaliation from the authority. Ruling by fear instead of leading by example is a scary precedence. People have literally told us that they want to see us and that they love us but that THEY ARE SCARED THAT THEY WILL GET IN TROUBLE if Mr. McNair or Mr. Meredith find out. I don’t think they realize how crazy that statement sounds. We are each responsible for our decisions and our friendships. They do not have the authority to scare you into staying away from converted brothers and sisters for unfounded reasons. There are multiple members of the council of elders who know our character and know that we are not guilty of any offense worthy of dis-fellowshipping but they too are scared to openly defend us. It leaves us wishing that people had more courage but that is beyond our control. Will no one stand up when they see blatant injustice?Hearing those types of words definitely throws up red flags. Telling members that they can’t fellowship with us even after they know we are not guilty of causing division is very much like the obedience demanded by people like Gerald Flurry. Members being “scared” of the ministry is cause for question. Anytime friendship is contingent on membership in the same group, it’s cause for alarm. Shepherds are to teach you right from wrong ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD and then trust that you are mature intelligent adults capable of discerning good from bad, right from wrong. You should all be free to make your own decisions. It is a shepherd’s responsibility to seek out the truth; to be slow to act; to avoid false accusations of the brethren. Only pride, arrogance, inability to admit they have made a mistake and plain out-right meanness is to blame for the refusal to show Philadelphian love; the refusal to be peacemakers.Over the years we have been completely dedicated to the Living Church of God. I used to spend hours baking so that I could fill each hotel room with snacks and bottled waters when there was a ministerial conference. Patrick worked at headquarters at his own expense for nearly 5 years. He provided computers, paid for all his own business expenses for trips to set up Feast sites and to attend the Religious Conference Meeting Association conference each year to network for better deals for the church and its brethren. We used our personal vehicles as a church taxi service for years at all hours of the day or night, rain, sleet, ice or snow anytime anyone was in need. I would make snack packs for ministers to enjoy as they arrived to their 2nd or 3rd Feast site completely worn out from travel and work. I hosted cocktail parties and dinner parties, not for myself, but so that visiting members would have a place to fellowship instead of being stuck in a hotel room with nothing to do as was often the case. We opened our home like a bed & breakfast FOR YEARS to visiting ministry. We single-handedly paid for the Tomorrow’s World television program to air on Kansas City channel 29 for a long time. We helped brethren be able to attend the Feast of Tabernacles when they otherwise would not have been able to afford to attend. Patrick paid to hire a software programmer to develop what you know as the Festival Registration Program when the church was stuck in the dark ages using paper registration forms that had to be manually entered to figure out how to plan on the correct numbers of brethren at each Feast site. Patrick has always been there when ANYONE needed him. He took care of widows, installed fireplaces, laid carpet, graded backyards with a Bobcat, cleaned houses, poured yards and yards of concrete to build patios, towed cars, fixed cars, picked up brethren the side of the highway after they totaled cars, etc, etc. The list goes on and on. We have always tried to be there for our brothers and sisters in need. We did these things NOT because we are enemies of the church trying to cause division but rather because we loved the church, believed they were doing the Work and loved our brothers and sisters.Some will say that this very letter is divisive. That is not the message we hope you take away. We feel we have a right to say our side of events without being accused of causing division. After all, they proclaimed their side when they stood in front of 250+ members and read our names as enemies of the church. Justice is blind. One should have both sides prior to making a determination. Shining the light on how wrongly this situation has been handled will likely upset them. They don’t want you to know how hard we have fought to be back in the church because it makes them look bad. We have not attempted in any way to cause division. Separating best friends, brothers and sisters... that’s divisive. Not following Matthew 18 and not showing mercy and love to fellow begotten children of God… that’s divisive. If anything, THEY are causing division by acting unfairly and unequally with the brethren.We didn’t leave LCG and we never committed any crime worthy of being dis-fellowshipped or marked. We pray you will remember who we are, truly are, instead of believing the false narrative that is being portrayed. We treasure our friends and understand the fear that many have expressed regarding openly being our friends. We would love nothing more than to continue positive brotherly private relationships with our LCG family members; summer BBQ’s, boat rides and family fun. We love you all!Patrick & Elizabeth Scarborough