Saturday, July 15, 2017

CEM: The Vultures Are Circling

From an East Texas source regarding the current turmoil swirling around Church of God Big Sandy and Christian Educational Ministries/Born to Win.

Please note: Any information James Malm posts about this is from spurious sources.

The Vultures Are Circling
A recent comment to Banned By HWA expressed concern about the possible merge of Christian Educational Ministries (CEM) with Church of God Big Sandy (COGBS).  The fate of CEM should indeed be of concern to CEM supporters at this time.  Ronald Dart passed away over a year ago.  Allie Dart has long been the number one, bulwark defender of Ron’s image and Ron’s works since his illness and death.  But she is not in good health at this time.

For this reason, it is important to keep an eye on organizations and individuals that could potentially be key players in this rapidly-evolving situation.

Let’s be blunt.  CEM is a cash cow.  Granted, CEM’s social media presence is quite deficient – especially when compared to some of the other ACOGs.  In spite of this, CEM has a healthy income through contributions and from sales.  All of this is done mostly thru radio and snail mail.  CEM has little overhead when it comes to paid employees.  And, contrary to popular opinion, only 6% of CEM’s inventory requires a purchase.  CEM gives away 94% of its products. 

CEM’s biggest strength is the inventory of preaching and teaching created by Ron Dart.  His DVD’s, CDs, booklets, books, and articles are considered by many to be the best messages in the ACOG movement.  So it would be quite the coup for any ACOG that ends up merging with or partnering with CEM. 

And let’s not play word games.  There is no such thing as a merge or a partnership.  Whether discussing business, education, politics, or religion, there is no such thing as a merge or a partnership.  There can be claims that two organizations are merging or partnering.  But a merge or a partnership always ends up being an acquisition where one dominates the other.

So no one should be fooled into believing that CEM will merge or partner with another group.  Any such group will, in reality, be acquiring the works of Ron Dart. 

Here are some of the possible corporate candidates for the acquisition of CEM.

Church of God Big Sandy.  When David III was first hired by CEM, it was hard to imagine that his dad wasn’t salivating at the prospects of some kind of alliance that would keep both father and son on the ecclesiastical teat for many years.  After all, COGBS is experiencing severe financial difficulties due to the recent loss of its major donor who had been financing the group since its inception.   And COGBS’s membership is now only a fraction of what it was when they separated from United Church of God. 

That was then.  This is now.  The possibility of a CEM/COGBS marriage probably died with the firing of David Havir III by CEM.  COGBS pastor Dave Havir is notorious for being highly protective of his cubs.  Anyone who dares criticize either of his adult boys has committed the unpardonable sin and can never be forgiven. 

For years, a local business in Big Sandy had an arrangement where it would occasionally rent the COGBS building during the week for things like employee meetings and Thanksgiving dinners.  After several years of this arrangement, David III was hired by that company.  Things didn’t work out.  He left the company.  Soon after, Pastor Dave then kicked that company out of his building.  They have not been allowed to rent it since.   

You can be assured that Pastor Dave (who is known for his many, many sermons about how he is so “besmirched” with his “good name being trampled thru the mud”) is now enraged by the “unfair treatment” his son has received at the hands of CEM.  So you probably won’t see any more cooperative efforts between CEM and COGBS.

Still, it can’t be completely ruled out as a possibility.  After all these years, both United and Worldwide are still trying to figure out how Havir beat them so badly in the battle for members and money when he broke with each of them long ago.   So maybe Papa Doc still has his mojo. 

United Church of God.  This is an interesting possibility.  And the only reason it should be considered as a possibility within ACOG circles is because UCG elder John Garnant is on the CEM board.  When John accepted a position on the CEM board, some were startled -- considering UCG does not allow its ministers to get involved with other church groups. 

An example of this would be when Aaron Dean was disciplined for preaching at a non-UCG feast site.  His punishment was that he was removed from the UCG speaking schedule for six months.  

One possible explanation of John’s ability to be involved with CEM is that that the bosses in Cincinnati haven’t picked up on his wayward activities yet.  Or it could be that UCG (considering CEM’s healthy cash position) is interested in maintaining any longshot chance they might have.  CEM’s good income and low overhead make it mighty attractive to any group that has trouble making ends meet.  UCG is just such an organization.

Church of God International.  This might be the most viable and realistic possibility.  After all, Ron left CGI to create CEM during the late Garner Ted’s scandal regarding the masseuse.  CGI and CEM currently co-sponsor a Feast site in Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky, where 325 people attended in 2016.  However, there are some corporate culture issues that would have to be dealt with for these two groups to join forces.

When Ron Dart first set up CEM, he made it very clear that his new ministry was not to be a church.  And he made it clear that he wanted CEM’s corporate culture to be different than those of the ACOGs.

Dart knew that there was contention over the very term “Armstrongism” within the church of God movement where some think highly of Herbert Armstrong’s ministry while others are totally antagonistic toward it.  Dart wanted to find a middle ground.  And, in his attempts to create a balanced approach, he pointed out there were certain aspects of Herbert Armstrong’s (HWA) ministry that he wanted to avoid in the newly-created CEM.  Here is what Dart was quoted as saying in the January 31, 2003 issue of “The Journal.”  The title of the article was “Beware the Demons of Differentiation.”

I don’t know how much of a role old habits played in HWA’s evangelistic efforts, but I do know he looked for differentiation, and he did so adversarially, as an ad man naturally would.  What he wanted were wedge issues: issues that could be used to drive a wedge between a person and his old church so the person could be attracted to the WCG.  And he wanted exclusive use of the product.  He didn’t want you coming to church with him this week and going somewhere else next week.  The wedge issues are familiar: born again, heaven... Sabbath and Sunday, pagan holidays, immortal soul, etc.  But, in typical ad man style, Mr. Armstrong advanced these with hyperbole and often took them too far in the attempt to differentiate.  Other products (read denominations or churches) were demonized to complete the sale.  The long and the short of the by-products of this approach was a church that was long on hostility and short on tolerance.”

Dart went on to say:

“Change is coming slowly, but it is sharply hindered by the need for organizational identity.  One wonders how this dynamic played into the Tkach revolution in the WCG.  Like the old ad man, Joseph Tkach and associates couldn’t see any middle ground.  It was either Armstrongism or mainstreamism.  They knew the former was wrong, so the other must be right.”  

Dart also said:

“It is the tolerance we at Christian Educational Ministries have learned over many years…that makes the CEM Feast of Tabernacles and its Internet forum possible.  It doesn’t require any compromise with right and wrong, merely a humility that comes from being wrong too many times and a willingness to grant others the right to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.”

So here we have Dart making it crystal clear that Armstrongism was definitely not going to a part of his new ministry.  Yet, in CGI there are a number of ministers in that organization who are vehemently opposed to criticisms of Herbert Armstrong.  This is not just characteristic of some CGI ministers in the US, but also characteristic of some in Canada and Jamaica.  Instead of rejecting Armstrongism as Dart does, they embrace what some of them call “reformed Armstrongism.”  So we have two different aspects of two different cultures that could prove to be irreconcilable.

Another problem is in the area of church government.  When the idea of a joint CGI/CEM feast site was first floated, some CEM supporters were upset at the very thought.  One CEM supporter produced an email where he pointed out that most churches which support CEM are congregational where the brethren select their own elders and deacons.  CGI’s churches have pastors who appointed by and answer to the corporate office -- not to the local brethren.  As far as the writer of the email was concerned, “This church governance issue is a deal-breaker because CGI is in no way democratic.  And I am not alone on this.”

We also have a major difference that revolves around how the opening night services are conducted at CGI feast sites vs. what has traditionally been done at the CEM feast sites when Dart was still alive.

Over the years, CEM’s opening night church service would include a message about the birth of Christ.  This goes back to the old teaching in the Worldwide Church of God that Jesus was probably born in the Autumn – perhaps even on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles.   In CEM’s opening night services, there would be songs such as Handel’s “Joy to the World the Lord Has Come” which some in CGI label “a Christmas carol.”

During the planning stages for the 2016 Land Between the Lakes feast site, the CEM supporters wanted the opening night services to include these birth of Christ messages and songs that CEM had been doing for years.  In the end, this had to be rejected because there was no doubt that most CGI members would be offended. 

Further, there is the problem of competing definitions regarding the question, “Who is and who is not a Christian?”  For years, CEM has stated that many Sunday-keepers could very well be Christians who will be in the First Resurrection.  This goes against what many CGI ministers believe.  For example, a recent CGI “Armor of God” program hosted by Bill Watson and Wayne Hendrix entitled “Can a Christian Be Unconverted?” stated (at the 5:18 mark), “There’s what?  One and a half to two billion Christians on planet Earth.  Most of them – the overwhelming majority of that number – are nominal…Christians.”

Ron Dart would adamantly oppose that statement Accepting the possibility of the conversion of non-ACOG Christians was fundamental to Dart.   Conversely, denying the possibility of the conversion of non-AOG Christians seems to be fundamental to CGI’s Armor of God presenters.

Finally, we come to perhaps the most important reason why there should be no merger between CGI and CEM:  This idea goes against the wishes of CEM’s founders, Ron and Allie Dart.   From the beginning, they have always wanted CEM to be a stand-alone ministry that will not be in any way absorbed or led by another organization.   Allie is still adamant about it.

At the 2016 Land Between the Lakes feast site, it was mentioned to the congregation that, a few years prior, Ron had been approached about a the possibility of a joint CGI/CEM feast.  The speaker recounted that Ron replied, “It’s time.”   This story is no doubt accurate.  But Dart’s statement (“It’s time.”) should only be applied in the context of feast cooperation.  It should not be extended to include any sort of merger or combining or affiliation or unification or alliance or whatever spin/label is put on such possible future action. 

When Dart set up CEM, he clearly articulated that he wanted CEM and its culture to be distinct from the ACOGs.  He knew it was vital to CEM’s survival that it be kept corporately separate from the other ACOGs. 

Now we get into the question, “Can CEM continue as an independent, stand-alone ministry without being taken over by another ACOG?  The chances of this approach succeeding will probably depend on which individual ends up at the helm of CEM.  In the past, there have been numerous candidates who were considered to take the reins of CEM.  Dave III was not the first attempt.  In fact, he was selected only after discussions and interviews had failed with several other men.  Here are a few:

Richard Crow.  Richard would probably not be a good fit because he currently works as a high-priced lawyer.  CEM could never match his current pay.  Taking over CEM would require him to abandon his lifestyle back at his nice subdivision in Houston.  It would not be pleasant for his family to relocate to rural East Texas which is not known as an urbane social mecca for the arts.  Further, Richard is not considered to be one of the better speakers in the ACOG movement.  And perhaps most importantly, Richard’s father, George, is on the board of directors of CGI.  This might be viewed as a conflict of interest by those who wish to keep CEM truly independent.

Mardy Cobb.  On one hand, part of the CEM office staff has been actively promoting Mardy to the CEM board because he is a good speaker and writer.  On the other hand, Allie does not want him in that position because she isn’t convinced that Mardy would be enthusiastic about promoting Ron’s works.  She is fearful that any new head of CEM might make modifications (even minor ones) to Ron’s teachings similar to (but not as far-reaching as) what was done by Joe Tkach when he ascended to the leadership of WCG.   Also, Mardy has his own ministry which he would be loath to abandon.

Wesley White.  Wesley and Allie have had lengthy discussions on at least three occasions about his coming on board CEM, but each time one of them had a change of heart and pulled back.  One of the sticking points is Wesley’s being non-political while Allie has stated that, since Ron was a Republican, she wants this new person to be a Republican also.  Wesley and Allie still maintain a personal friendship, but he refuses to get involved in CEM at this time.  He has refused recent requests to preach at their Sabbath services.  Wesley publicly wears his independence from all church organizations to the point where it sounds to some like a badge of vanity.  And like Mardy, Wesley has his own ministry, Dynamic Christian Ministries, which features a weekly internet Facebook/Youtube show.  He shows no eagerness to give it up in order to take on what he calls “the drama of CEM.

Brent Kern.  Brent has a long history with CEM.  He was one of the few featured speakers at the mega CEM feast sites of years past.  During those glory years, CEM’s feast preaching was usually limited to Ron, Larry Watkins, John Reedy, and Brent.  Brent is considered to be a dynamic speaker and is a good vocalist who enjoys entertaining the congregation.  But he seems to have moved too far into Methodism to be an acceptable candidate.  His wife is of the Methodist faith and, over the past several years, Brent has spent more time worshipping in Methodist churches than he has with any of the ACOGs.  It would be an understatement to say he is not known as a doctrinal purist when it comes to traditional ACOG beliefs.

Larry Watkins.  Larry is considered to have a pretty good chance to take over CEM after Allie is out of the picture.  After all, Larry was with Ron since CEM’s inception and departed only after Ron found out that, during the early days of Ron’s incapacitation when it was thought Ron only had days to live, Larry had been negotiating to “cooperate with” other ACOGs.  Larry was then terminated from CEM, so there is some bad blood in this relationship.  Larry is not considered a good speaker, but he has the support of some CEM board members.  Allie recently asked the CEM board to promise in writing that they would not bring Larry on board after she is gone.  The board adamantly refused to put this pledge in writing although Allie was given somewhat of a verbal commitment.  Needless to say, Allie has no faith in any verbal promise from a board she has long ago lost confidence in.   The bottom line is that, if you are a gambler, put your money on Larry if the hiring for this position can be put off until Allie is gone.

Unless…  Yes, there is an “unless.”  Larry is getting up there in years and friends notice he is getting feebler these days.  In that case, in it conceivable that CEM could be headed up by Larry’s close friend, John Reedy.  John is a successful Tyler businessman who, like Larry, was heavily involved in CEM from the beginning.  It is rumored that John is considering retirement from that business.  So we may see John take over CEM using Larry part time.   John’s assuming the helm of CEM would create a closer relationship between CEM and CGI because of the fact that John is on the board of directors of CGI.  If CEM were managed by  Watkins and/or Reedy, it would indeed be a defacto acquisition of CEM by CGI because Watkins and Reedy would both take their direction from CGI.  There is no way that either of these men would operate independently of CGI.

Finally, it is good to be reminded that, just because an idea may look good on paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a truly viable plan.  The ACOG groups, while doctrinally similar, have evolved into some very different corporate cultures.  CEM’s leadership and any potential partner’s leadership would be wise to fully examine and comprehend these differences so they don’t make a serious mistake in this matter.

It is unfortunate that issues like this are decided behind closed doors by our “betters” who feel no need to consult with the lay people.  It is sad because we are the ones who tithe and pay the bills for these organizations.  We pay the salaries of these leaders.

Too many times, the brethren are told of these decisions only after it is fate accompli.  At that point, the only decision we have is whether to stay or go.  In other words, voting with our feet.   And this is why their numbers continue to dwindle.

All of this bears watching.  It will not be dull.  


James said...

Where there is money so are the vultures.

Connie Schmidt said...

CEM has always been a service organization and NOT a church. There is no need for it to "merge" with any church group. All it needs is a good business manager that operates under the dictates of the Non -Paid board members, as trustees to the will of Ron and Allie Dart.

The J. Vernon McGee radio broadcast and website works under those principals , 35 years after his death.

Byker Bob said...

The problem that I see is that HWA taught his followers to be binary thinkers, and Ron Dart, whose pre-Armstrong education in theology helped him in seeing the entire spectrum, knew better than to restrict himself in this way. Binary thinking causes tunnel vision.

Allie Dart would be better advised to look outside of the Armstrong movement for the future leadership of CEM. Someone from the Messianic Jewish movement, or even a Seventh Day Adventist would be better qualified to lead and guide the organization according to Ron's original founding precepts. I would also imagine that there are some qualified long term "Dartites" who are independent from or nonaligned with any of the ACOGs. Allie's biggest problems in satisfactorily resolving all of this will most likely come from her own board. It would be better to honorably scuttle the organization than to allow it to be coopted by someone elses' agenda.

Seems like Ron's independent ministry had the same problem as did the splinter groups. No mentored heir or designated successor. HWA only knew how to establish a personality cult, so that is what everybody attempts to raise from the ashes!


Anonymous said...

If I were Allie Dart, I would be wary and concerned about Jon Garnant.

Because UCG does not, under most circumstances allow its ministry to be involved with other groups, and there are more cases that exhibit this than just the Aaron Dean one, we really should be viewing this as an exception that is being made to the rule. Jon deeply wants to rise up the ladder at UCG, he wants to be made a full pastor, and he wants to be on the COE. He is no stranger to the power brokers on the COE either. For the time being, he remains one of their operatives, and the COE puts him up to things, and he reports back to them. I think we can't overlook the very real possibility that the power brokers of the COE have put him up to weaseling his way onto the board at CEM to bamboozle Allie Dart and steer it into UCG's fold.

Garnant split with CGI at the same time the Darts did, and he could well use his shared history going back to the inner circle around Garner Ted to endear himself and make it seem like he's someone that Allie can trust. He has more charisma than the average salesman, and that makes better at hiding his duplicity than many other ministers whose naked ambition is not hard to witness on full display. He's well-suited to the cloak-and-dagger politics that Armstrongism has always been known for and is inability to move up the ranks at UCG so far is because of adverse circumstances, not a lack of skill or effort. Make no mistake, his loyalty is not to God or any morality, his loyalty is to the brotherhood, and he will do whatever it takes to become the made man, with the pastor rank and sitting on the COE.

Anonymous said...

After reading this article, I've started watching Rons online videos. The man is certainly an impressive speaker.

Anonymous said...

Ron Dart was very liberal, maybe even more so than CGI....seems like they would be a good fit.

Minimalist said...

Well what a good soap opera.
I still see a problem with the "M" word:
CEM is only progressive in relative terms; it's still Moronic.

Anonymous said...

This site is infested with chronic liars.

Connie Schmidt said...

Anonymous at 10:11 sounds like Malm's type of ramblings and I wouldn't be surprise if it is him.

Regardless, the post is totally FULL OF CRAP and in every single way is disconnected from reality. Obviously someone who does not know the least about Garnant in any fashion.

Anonymous said...

I knew Ron Dart when he was in England, teaching at BW and pastoring the Birmingham church. He was an intelligent and reasonable man. I never did understand why he hooked his wagon to GTA, the sexual predator and addict. Surely he must have known what the guy was like. So for me that destroyed his credibility.

Perhaps Dart's group could follow the Ernest Martin model and have his work available but not join any splinter group. Ernest still has a large following amongst people interested in his research and Biblical knowledge.

Connie Schmidt said...

It is my understanding that the current UCG has no problem in cooperating with other groups , or allowing its ministry to visit other groups. Vic Kubik himself has visited CGI congregations and their was a cooperative FOT site at the Land of the Lakes with Chris Rowland of UCG there , CGI and indys there as well.

The Aaron Dean situation occurred back with the COGWA board members were still in UCG. The current UCG has no problem with cooperation with other groups.

Such nonsense to say something like "the power brokers of the (UCG) COE have put him up to weaseling his way onto the board at CEM to bamboozle Allie Dart and steer it into UCG's fold."

Steer what? Again , CEM is not a church, has no "members" to get, and in effect, is not a whole lot more than the archive of Ron Dart writings and recordings. What would UCG be gaining? There are literally thousands upon thousands of sermons and articles and what not on UCG's site already, and the addition of Ron Dart material would not add much to the library.

Much Ron Dart material is in the public domain and is not copyrighted. Does the poster above expect that UCG will start broadcasting the now deceased Ron Dart on its media programs, and printing Ron Dart articles in the Beyond Today magazine? Not a chance!

CEM is in effect, a website. It is information of a very talented teacher, which is now time stamped by Ron being deceased.

I wonder what is anons source of information about Garnant. Lack of loyalty to God or morality? Reckless ambition? Concrete evidence or shut the hell up!

Although I am a Ron Dart fan and devotee, the anon poster is out of whack in regards to perspective.

All CEM needs is a good level headed business manager accountable to its charter and board of trustees. This will be the eventual result, rest assured.

John The War Doctor Hurt said...

This Site Is Filled With Chronic Liars!

Byker Bob said...

One thing will not be the result of this situation: Growth. The Armstrong movement is contracting, and will continue to contract, because as a group it has already cried wolf too many times. When the wolf continues not to materialize, people realize that the factor which was used to manipulate and control them into extremely modified behavior has no power.

The extremists, like Dave Pack and Jerry Flurry, by micromanaging and being extra-demanding, actually hasten the demise of Armstrongism because they use a weakening and increasingly ineffective cattle prod to coerce ever deeper levels of enslavement. This deepening weakness is why their words have become so irrational, and why jets are purchased which can't be afforded. Without realizing it, the examples they set cause people to leave because the people realize that the power over them is contrived, and largely imaginary. When they reach the breaking point, it is then easy to leave.


Byker Bob said...

Cite specific examples, 8:17. Otherwise, you're the liar?


Anonymous said...

If anon is Malm, I still want to know what he has to say. I feel uncomfortable when everyone sings the same song. I got that non stop in Herbs church with all the ministers telling the same lies.
Sometimes it's only the court jester who tells the truth.

Questeruk said...

Connie, thank you for adding some good common sense to this comments section.

A voice of reason!

Anonymous said...

CEM should continue as an independent teaching ministry, as Mr. Dart intended. Mixing it up with one of the COGs would be a disaster as it would inject a terminal dose of Armstrongism into the organization.

Anonymous said...

This article most likely was submitted by Wesley White. He refers to himself as "non-political" while others usually identify him to be liberal leaning. He includes a plug for his ministry and Youtube show and a direct quote about CEM.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10:11 here.

You are not wrong to question, Connie. I am not Malm, nor am I anyone connected with Malm, or indeed, at this point, with any COG, but I used to be a member of UCG, in the congregation that Jon Garnant attends, before I began the questioning that led to my decision to leave Armstrongism.

My source of information about Garnant is 12 years first-hand, personal experience with the man himself. He comes across as a very likeable individual at first, to be sure, and I started off liking him. But that's before you get to know him well enough to see him in private settings, when that exterior gets set aside and you get to meet the man behind that mask. Needless to say, with better information, I was disabused of my initial positive impression. Is that "concrete evidence," for anyone else but me? I never said it was, or that it should be. I invite the reader to take it for what they think it's worth.

You ask what would UCG be gaining? Cash flow from operations, Connie.

You can balk at my statement, "I think we can't overlook the very real possibility that the power brokers of the COE have put him up to weaseling his way onto the board at CEM to bamboozle Allie Dart and steer it into UCG's fold." That's fine. But don't quote mine it to make it look like I was saying something with a greater degree of certainty than I was. The reason why I would not overlook this possibility is because I have seen Garnant be put up to equally nefarious tasks by the guys who call the shots on the COE in my past experience.

And speaking of degrees of certainty, Connie, you claim that my post "is totally FULL OF CRAP and in every single way is disconnected from reality. Obviously someone who does not know the least about Garnant in any fashion...Concrete evidence or shut the hell up!" I would like to hear how it is that you claim to be so certain about how full of crap I may or may not be? How many years of personal experience do YOU have with Jon Garnant? You met him at a feast site once or something? That's nice. Are you going to, in so many words, tell me how I don't have a right to have my own personal experiences, but that you do? That I have no right to express what I've learned from my personal experiences on an open forum, and that I should "shut the hell up," but that you do have this right? Hmm.

I don't have an axe to grind. I don't have a blog. I'm just someone who has some relevant personal experience, and as such, I put out there a word of warning to the wise to be wary. Caveat emptor. Underestimate Jon Garnant at your peril.

If you really are a Ron Dart fan and devotee, I would think you would welcome warnings about possible sources of danger to his legacy. Hmm.

NO2HWA said...

This was not submitted by Wes White

Byker Bob said...

Speaking of caveat emptor, let's look at some missing ingredients. What if there had been a place in Armstrongism where loving governance and good, honest stewardship had prevailed? What if erroneous doctrines had been corrected quickly, rather than being considered sacred cows because they came from HWA? What if divine healing had been the rule, rather than the occasional exception? If the prophecies had actually been fulfilled, validating the understanding provided due to "correct" doctrines and faithful keeping of those doctrines? Wouldn't people have been drawn to such a church, and wouldn't they have done almost anything to support the message? Wouldn't 50, 60, 70, and 80 year olds have had perfect confidence that they would be OK camping out in a rocky barren desert area for 3-1/2 years?

Don't we all remember those things being preached as being present in "God's True Church"? These were all spoken of as if they were fact. But they never existed in original WCG, and they certainly do not exist in any of the splinters, although some of the despotic and incompetent "leaders" who read this will probably insist that these exact conditions exist in their particular franchise, and they will twist their statistics and lie to tell us that their churches are actually showing significant growth. These missing ingredients, collectively, would breed loyalty amongst current members, and healthy growth. If any ACOG out there wants to buck the trend, becoming the standout, you now know where to start!


Anonymous said...

Check out the "Archives" button on this link for Message 1 and Message 2, July 15, 2017, COG Big Sandy. "Forgiveness" seemed to be the topic of the day:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10:11/12:19 here.

I guess I should add that in addition to having no current connection to any COG anymore, and having no blog, I also have no ministry, no followers, or any type of religious aspiration of any kind. My conscience would never permit to con gullible people out of their hard-earned money.

I guess I should also say that no, I am not Wes White, nor do I know who that is. Does Wes White know Jon Garnant? Does Wes White have a reason to share his personal experiences about Jon Garnant too? I would think that maybe we should compare notes, but if he's some kind of minister, that would put the kybosh on that.

All I offer is public service announcement. For anyone in the unenviable position of counting on Jon Garnant to do the right thing, I caution such people to think twice. OTOH feel free to disregard the red flag I put up for the time being. In time, you too might have your own personal experience to offer as a word of caution. I leave that choice up to the reader.

Nancy Smithers said...

"This was not submitted by Wes White"

No, it was submitted by Mr. ... Snrub. Yes, that's it.

Anonymous said...

12.19 PM
Well put. Many times when I attended services, people would express a pet belief, and when I began to disagree, they would say over and over 'I don't want to hear' or similar. Sometimes they went running to a minister, complaining of being 'offended.' By contrast, they didn't care if others were offended by their opinions.
When people express a opinion, they have entered into a implicit contract which states that the other party has a right of reply. A contract is a contract.

I have complained several times here about rights being a taboo topic in the churches.
Which if one scratches the surface, amounts to 'the ministers have all rights, and the members have none.' Like children, members act by permission, rather than by right. The lack of understanding by present/former members is unsurprising.

Connie Schmidt said...

Anon at 12:19

My family has known Jon very, very well , a long time, going even back to his CGI Days when I was a young girl. You frankly are full of it. We have known him as a dedicated, unpaid servant, who has spent much of his time, effort and tears into the Church and membership.

You mentioned "cash flow" from operations. Do you honestly believe that all UCG would have to do is "takeover" CEM and suddenly all the independent COG members who support CEM will give money to UCG? Or even to CGI?

Your reasoning is ridiculous. Contributors to CEM have never been coerced to give offerings or tithe to them and them alone. The income and cashflow to CEM is , in effect, a volunteer crop. Have it "taken over" by an organized church like UCG and it would dry up donations overnight.

Ron never copyrighted his materials, tapes, CDs etc. They circulate for free and widely for the benefit for as many as possible. This was Ron's desire. Thus there is no "captive product" to be sold or kept either.

Your theories and "script" that you have written do not add up in any kind of business sense.

As far as Jon Garnant goes, your accusations remain vague and non-descript. He is not an immoral man. Were you put out of the church for specific moral cause and you are now bitter? Care to explain??

YOU ASKED-"Is that "concrete evidence," for anyone else but me? I never said it was, or that it should be. I invite the reader to take it for what they think it's worth." My answer is - WORTHLESS!

The Painful Truth said...

Has anyone seen Wes White?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Ron Dart was very liberal, maybe even more so than CGI....seems like they would be a good fit.

I hear that commonly from people who want to dismiss Dart out of hand without listening to what he says. Outside of his views on church government, how is Dart liberal?

Anonymous said...

If Jon Garnant has "endeared" himself to Ally, it is because he is a genuinely humble, talented, capable, and converted man, willing to help Ally because she asked. Since the death of Dart, there is no one in the Church of God leadership that I esteem more highly than Jon.

Anonymous said...

This site IS infested with chronic liars, and any current or former COG member with half a brain knows it, and needs no further evidence.

Anonymous said...

The accuselah is usually the dooselah.

Ex CEM board member said...

I would like to correct one error in the article. Larry Watkins was NOT terminated at CEM. He retired voluntarily when he was notified that most of the outside board members were about to resign from the CEM board. Larry was a loyal and valuable employee from the first day of CEM's existence till he resigned.

Anonymous said...


You are more than welcome to take my 12 years of personal experience with Jon Garnant as being worthless. I'm not offended by that in any way. But don't tell me personal experiences are less valid or real than yours, and don't tell me to "shut the hell up" on an open forum.

Others might still yet benefit from my blowing the whistle and sending up the red flag, even if you don't. You might not know him as well as you think you do. You'll never see that side of him during church services, at church functions, or if he invites you over to his home for dinner.

Whether it adds up to business sense in your opinion or not, all that matters here is whether it adds up to business sense in the opinion of the folks in Cincinnati. I for one am not sure that their business sense is all that brilliant. It may be true that if CEM were absorbed by UCG, that donations would dry up overnight. It wouldn't be the first time something turned to ash in the mouth of UCG, nor do I expect we've seen the last of such miscalculations on their part.

In your further attempts to cast aspersion, I think it's ridiculous your pulling out the "bitter" cliche. No, I was not kicked out of UCG, nor have I have ever been kicked out of any other COG group. I left of my own accord because I ceased to believe that Armstrongism as a sect or movement, in general has much to offer, and any benefits from my involvement were exhausted long, long ago. Still, I'd agree that Dart, with a broader set of experiences, stood head and shoulders above those who had nothing more to offer than rehashing HWA's cliches.

I was not personally wronged by Garnant either. I was never really in his crosshairs. Those who I saw him harm were mostly other ministers. He had nothing to gain by stabbing me in the back and there was never any dirt for him to have on me anyway. What I saw, over and over, behind the scenes, were the actions of another narcissist motivated by political gain. He thought he was the smartest guy in the room, he thought he should be a grander poobah, and he was willing to do whatever was necessary to advance in the ministerial brotherhood. This was only a secret from the membership, but it wasn't a secret among the ministers. But I saw it because I had jobs to do within the congregation. From what I saw, I don't trust him any farther than I can throw him. I would certainly never trust him to do the right thing, or refuse to do what the brotherhood he is brown nosing tasks him with, even if it's morally wrong.

I heard stories when I was growing up in WCG of all the intrigue that was surrounding HWA, especially when the vultures began to circle because ambitious ministers jockeying for position thought he might die. Those who had jobs to do would often be the proverbial fly-on-the-wall. UCG is still just like that. Rotten at the core. And his ambition is to get to that core.

I've watched Jon Garnant hurt people who deserved better because he thought he thought it would advance his ministerial career in UCG. And I've seen him do it on behalf of people on the COE. Sure, there's Connie, but for everyone else, I would advise you to think twice before trusting him to do the right thing.

This wasn't supposed to get drawn out like this, so, enough said.

Anonymous said...

We are still waiting for examples of these supposed lies.

Angela Storey said...

why does there always have to be a central figure running an organisation. After all this time aren't there men who have born the fruit of the spirit and can teach and lead LOCAL church groups just like it seems it was done in the early New TEstament church era? When is everyone going to become mature and have stand alone local groups that can absorb any people that God calls where they are living. Why are things still running just the same as when Hwa was around? When are we going to grow up?

Angela Storey said...

After GTA's being caught out on film with the masseuse, I wonder who would want to be associated with something belonging to him.

Byker Bob said...

He won't elaborate or confirm, 8:09. Never does. That's why I assume he's one of those arrogant ones who hosts a blog or does youtube videos but won't enable comments because deep down he realizes who is actually lying and who is telling the truth, and how he would appear to the greater public if he subjected himself to open debate. Such a cliche. In Armstrongism, you're not allowed to challenge those who posture as teachers. They don't like the Bill of Rights very much.


Hoss said...

CEM was my last stop on the way out of Armstrongism, and I sometimes referred to Ron's doctrinal repertoire as Armstrongist-Lite.
Ron disagreed with some key WCG doctrines, such as Church Eras and the Place of Safety, and he was openly uncomfortable with BI.
Byker Bob mentioned about possible non-COG interest, such as Messianic Jews and SDAs. One Messianic group considered Ron's teaching "about 75% correct". But Ron, with some assistance from Pam Dewey, discouraged interest in such groups, warning people to stay clear of Hebrew Roots and Messianic groups.
He may be considered more SDA-friendly, as he did fill in for Samuele Bacchiocchi on at least one speaking engagement.

Anonymous said...

CEM will never join up with UCG. For starters, Ron Dart would openly talk in his sermons how UCG would invite him to preach in their congregations and then others would then find out and banish him. I was always wondered in who high up in UCG invited him and who high up in UCG didn't want ron dart preaching in UCG.
I found the answer years later, after ron dart had his accident and was recovering Allie Dart took him to see some of his friends. He was taken to COGWA. Ucg and ron dart differ on many things God forbid they get their hands on Ron Darts legacy.

Helen Wheels said...

I'm confused about Connie's comments that say it's "nonsense" and "ridiculous" reasoning to suggest UCG, or I guess anyone else for that matter, would have any interest in CEM.

But isn't that the case being made by the entire blog post?

Anonymous said...

I posted this comment last week on the other thread about CEM, but it was late in the cycle. I am posting it again here with a few additions. I would like to know the answers to the questions I submit.
Why are so many in fear of what may happen to CEM? Aside from personally liking Dart over the years, why is he given a break? Is he ok because he was not involved directly in some of the evil activities of leaders in the wcg such as hwa and gta?
What about the fact that he absolutely knew about what was going on with those people and yet did nothing for years, finally having a “heart problem” so he could break away from gta and fairly soon thereafter start his own ministry. Did he ever clearly and publicly admit that he was in an evil organization which is how it is correctly described here on this web site and that he was part of the problem? Do you think his wife knew nothing about all of this? What has she said regarding her acquiescence to such evil?
Why do they get a break? He was a part of what was going on even if he did not involve himself in the actual behaviors except for tithing (and checking on member tithes (tithe spying according to Ambassador Report). She had to have known things too if indeed they were the close couple they were made out to be. There are those who are correctly against old and current ministers who did/do these things or sit by and do nothing while others in their org do these things. However, some do not seem to apply the same judgement to the behavior of the Darts.

End Part 1

Anonymous said...

Begin Part 2

Again, what about the fact that he clearly accepted a salary which came from tithes as a minister in the wcg and other orgs, a practice that is clearly against the laws outlined in the scriptures even if many organizations collect tithes? Anyone who reads what tithes are, from what they are taken, and to whom they belong clearly knows this. Ask any Jewish person who has a basic understanding of that belief system. Wcg and others do/did not teach voluntary giving with regard to tithes. It is true that tithing is a law to be followed, but those tithes have always belonged to the Levitical/priestly people which have always consisted of ONLY one tribe of Israel. Additionally, those tithing laws are in effect for the land of Israel that has a lawful temple. That’s it. There is no other way.
Do some like him because he was not as bad as the others or because he did not copyright material? If so, one will find that scripture does not call such people who call themselves ministers good. A person is supposed to judge properly and elders, deacons (i.e. leaders), and ministers are held to a higher standard.
Obviously, one probably does not care what some commenter on a forum thinks, but if he believes he has got his judgment on good ole Ron Dart correct, scripture tells a different story.
One thing I’ve seen throughout the years is that people who accept such groups seem to feel that God would never let them go wrong and that they were taught correctly in the beginning. That is simply not the case. Scripture shows how people learn, especially those who come from “gentile” religions.
Wcg was bad from start. The calendar was incorrectly changed away from the longstanding Jewish mainstream calendar based on faulty “study”, the leadership went from a flatter organization more like the body which Paul describes in his letters to a fiefdom, and the head honcho was without a doubt a pervert who should have been seriously punished according the law which he said was still in effect. The groups today still have problems like those. They are not any better even if they affect people less negatively given their small sizes. Size does not matter. Doing things with the proper spirit and truthfully is what matters.
Just because one has figured out what day the weekly sabbath is, that yearly sabbaths are in existence, and that there are certain things one does not eat does not mean that he is “begotten again” as a called child of God.
So to ask the question again, Why are Ron and Allie Dart better than the other ministers/wives?

Anonymous said...

I have said good thing about Ron Dart in the past, but he was not perfect. Maybe he tried hard but....... At one point I was invited to join his group on Facebook, but I didn't, thinking he is just another one. Another old WCG minister who can't stop preaching.

From my childhood I remember Ron Dart as being intelligent and a good speaker, but he followed the party line. He probably just believed it like the rest of us, but I remember him throwing a member of my family out of the church for minor matters. When this family member died amongst his possessions were letters from Ron Dart discussing whether he (family member) had committed the unpardonable sin and concluding that he probably hadn't but had never been converted (after being in the church 12 years) and tithed and given genorously all that time. This was before Dart left and joined the adulterer and predator GTA.

As for not knowing things, ignorance is often wilful. I do remember at Bible Study in England Ron Dart was talking about homosexuals. Now this was the late 1960's, so what can one expect, but he said "do people even know what they do together? it is disgusting, my wife doesn't even know, and I don't want her to". At the time I was around 12 years old, and I didn't know what they did together, but had never thought about it until Mr.Dart brought it up. Of course now I wanted to know especially if his wife didn't know so I asked the girls at school and of course they knew and told me. I felt quite pleased that I knew something that Mrs. Dart did not know. But then maybe her husband was wrong about her knowledge, but really if it is true that has to be wilful ignorance.

Then what else did they say back then "that women are much more easily fooled than men" that is why men are in charge. Yes women were protected from lots of things, sort of kept childish and innocent to fulfil male fantasy. I wish Mrs. Dart well, I am sure she like the rest of us has learned much in the last 40 years.

Byker Bob said...

Ron's target audience was the people who loved the Armstrong doctrines, but hated the abuse of authority that those doctrines always produce the moment you have an organized group.

What would happen if any of the organized groups that have been mentioned succeeded in absorbing CEM, the people who now rely upon CEM for spiritual input and guidance would look to Ron's archives instead. For the most part, these are people who refuse to check their brains at the door, and they do not respect arbitrary authority. Having said that, some of them I've encountered are some of the most admant Armstrongites you could ever meet. Collectively, they would easily be the largest splinter group. And you'd better believe that all of the ACOG leaders know this, and covet their presence!


Anonymous said...

Perhaps some people do not know what homosexuality entails, but everyone knew what gta did. The Darts also know that wcg forced tithing on its membership. There is no escaping that. Willful ignorance is not justifiable.

Also, what about a man who clearly accepted a salary from tithes (which are not and never have been lawfully given to or received by any other group of people except one and only in a certain area with a lawful) first booting someone from membership and then informing him later that he was probably never converted.

Do you think Ron Dart was converted? What about his wife?

It is understandable why people give breaks to those they like, but that has nothing to do with properly understanding and practicing what scripture says. If it is made up, then people should ignore it. If it is true, believers should learn to follow what it says.

There is no middle ground. While people who are called do wrong, scripture clearly shows that they admit wrongdoing and work to overcome and it seems actually become better according to what scripture (and not some person) says. The Creator sees the improvement and the opinions of others are irrelevant if they do not match what the Creator knows.

Not trying to harp on anyone, I would simply like to know why people like Dart get a break from some who clearly are against others.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:51 people give ron dart a break because he DID speak out about things. He said it like it was and the brethren appreciated and loved him for it. He called it dartisims we called it the truth that could not be uttered. He ultimately stood up to garner ted but you have to be in the know, CGI, CEM, the forgotten CGOM, to know about those dark days. Some groups wanted Ron Dart as their president but he refused and set up CEM instead. It's a shame what's happened with Havir 3rd.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Dart spoke out in an assembly or to a small group of individuals.

I have not found any record that shows he said something to a wider audience about gta, hwa, his tithe stealing and tithe spying, etc. I have looked over the years for such information and cannot find it. Perhaps he did make statements against wcg ministers lording it over the little people. That's nice, but I still have not found anything about his apologies for doing it himself when he disassociated members and/or said they were (probably) never converted.

Hoss mentioned Pam Dewey in a comment above and I have read her web site about all the crazy "ministers." While I think her site has good information, it is interesting that she glosses over Dart's association and acceptance of the evil behavior of leaders in organizations in which he had a large presence. It is obvious that she likes him and had personal gain from her relationship with him.

People like that (minister or not) are not the kind of people that others who are logical and who want to what scripture says like to associate with or attach themselves to.

Ron Dart may have been the best of the bunch, but the whole bunch is still rotten. Nice and liked and teaching less error is not what scripture says. Acting in the proper spirit and truthfully is what believers are to do.

I'll keep looking for Dart's apologies for engaging in wrongful activities and going along with those of others.

Anonymous said...

After reading your comments, both pro and against Dart, I will add something in the pro column. I wrote the anonymous at 4:56 PM entry about Dart putting someone in my family out of the church and saying he was probably never converted. The reason that never converted was in fact a good comment is the we then believed that if you were converted and then left you had committed the unpardonable sin and would go to the lake of fire, so the only escape from this sentence was to be declared 'never converted'. Now why does this remind me of the catholic church being against divorce, but allowing remarriage by annulling long term marriages......

But I have to allow Ron Dart change, maybe he grew and changed and perhaps that is why he didn't want to become the leader of a group.

I will add something in the pro column. My mother was never in the church and hated it. She became mentally ill, many ministers came over to our house to 'help', and she would rail and yell at them. It was declared that she was demon possessed by many. Mr and Mrs. Dart came around one day and my mother did not disappoint in her hostility toward them. Mr. Dart said that she probably had a chemical imbalance and was not demon possessed. This was early 1970's, so I would say Dart was ahead of his time regarding mental illness and its causes.

Anonymous said...

When CGI imploded, Mr. Dart could have walked away with a big chunk of the organization and started his own church. He was intelligent and a good speaker, so I have no doubt he would have done well. He had his faults and I don't know why he handled some things the way he did (or didn't), but he at least had the integrity to stay out of the trap of starting yet another WCG spinoff. My own dealings with Mr. Dart and CEM were always pleasant. Had he publicly lashed out at GTA and called for his removal from CGI, no doubt people would have accused him of being opportunistic and greedy for power. I don't think he had any desire to rip apart congregations and relationships for what would have been perceived as personal gain, especially in a situation where the crap was going to hit the fan without his help anyway. Those of us who were around at the time and remember the response of the "leading ministers" in CGI know that regardless of what Mr. Dart said or did, they were going to back GTA (at least for a while). Don't think for one minute Mr. Dart didn't see that as well.

Anonymous said...

I can see how Dart was better than other leaders in the cogs. I thought he was a better teacher than gta. I can even see how he did not want to "take" members from one organization to one that he formed.

That being said, members did follow him and more noticeably (at least to me) he never made a very public stand against the evil in organizations to which he belonged and lead, nor did he admit his own wrongdoing as has been pointed out in this comment thread.

From comments in this and other threads, I conclude that I have received the answers to my questions. I also conclude that the responses do not make the grade according to scripture when it comes to making proper judgment on the behavior of so called believers (minister or not).

As written previously, a comment in a forum is not going to change someone's mind. However, given my own experience with those who deem themselves worthy to judge the actions of some while looking past the actions (in some cases much worse) of others including themselves (even when approached about doing that), I have concluded that what seems to be a larger number of those who believe that they are called probably need to be avoided.

They are too confused by their own feelings to allow scripture to lead them and thus, it would be "hazardous" to have closer ties with them less one ends up in the group of those who can be judged or who ends up in the group whose wrongdoing is looked over because that person is one of the "in" crowd. Either way, a person associating with people who treat others differently because of who they are (whether being judged incorrectly or being given free reign to behave wrongly) is not being edified by those who play favorites.

Anonymous said...

Satan is a good speaker.

Byker Bob said...

All "ministers" of Armstrongism were participants in a sick and evil system. Some of the people I knew at Ambassador College started out as nice people. But the system warped and twisted some of those who were sent into the field following graduation, and according to many, many reports, they were terribly abusive and did horrible things to the people who trusted them as their spiritual guides.

There are also those who were somewhat less bad, even benign. Although their Ambassador experience did not completely subvert their consciences, they still aided, abetted, and propped up the system that was revealed to Herbert Armstrong during the ten years in which he was abusing and corrupting his daughter.

Fortunately, 2:38, we have some ministers who have have recognized that system for what it was, have repented of it and now eschew it. The majority of Armstrongite ministers, however, just followed whomever would continue to fund their paychecks, and continue to spew the proof-texts from the eisegesis taught to them at Ambassador College. How they could not have been curious enough to ask hardball questions, to dig deeper, and to see the answers to which you referred is a complete mystery. But then again, they were thoroughly baked by the system to the point where someone thought that they would be unquestioning advocates for it in the field. And, an above scale paycheck is a powerful conscience modifier!


Anonymous said...

Satan is a good speaker. He is smart and, if he could, he would come to church where he could to the most damage and wear a nice suit on the Sabbath. He would worm his way into the ministry. Sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

If anon 7:26 is trying to imply Ron Dart was Satan, satanic or demonic then I would guess anon 7:26 didn't know Ron Dart at all.
I would reccomend anyone to listen and watch Ron darts one candle short sermon from 2008 on YouTube. I consider it a fine example of why Ron Dart was so popular with the brethren and why so many ministry actually despised him.

Hoss said...

watch Ron darts one candle

Thanks 1229. Good ol' Ron, a sermon with take-home content, delivered in his easygoing style. And yes, at parts, I could imagine the typical COGleader sweating bullets.
When this article was first posted, I listened to his old CGI sermon series, History and Prophecy. In this series, and the sermon above, one thing I would dispute is Ron's use of the word "Church". I feel the team of scholars who put together the KJV made a big mistake when they changed William Tyndale's translation of ekklesia from congregation to church.
For those Protestant groups who try to get radio stations not to broadcast BTW, about the only thing they bring up against Ron is that he's non-trinitarian.

Angela Storey said...

When you read the history of Israel - judges and kings and chronicles you will often see that a King is given a positive evaluation about religious reform but there is also often a comment to show that things weren't perfect for example "but they did not take down all the high places". Ron was very helpful but not a complete reformer. What are we doing now?

Hoss said...

Yes, the Kings of Judah were compared to David, and noted when they came up short. The Kings of Israel were compared to Jeroboam, and there was seldom a good thing to say about any of them.

What are we doing now?
I can’t speak for the COGs, but I think they too come up short. For contributors to Banned and other COG-critical blogs, we try to help by pointing out where they come up short. It's up to them whether they change.
Something Ron mentioned on the One Candle sermon was persecution for obedience and doing the right thing. The point of critical thinking on blogs such as this is not to criticize for doing the right thing, but for doing the wrong thing – and that’s not persecution, it’s feedback.

Something I forgot to mention in my previous post – theological differences aside, I remember Ron telling a real whopper in a sermon, perhaps a decade ago. Maybe he was misinformed, or was joking, but he said, Intelligent Design has scientists running scared. Sorry, not at all true. I could imagine Eugenie Scott (National Center for Science Education) saying to Ira Flatow (NPR Science Friday) Do I look scared??