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Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Updated: Restored Church of God Former Staff Member: My Exit Story
I first began working for the Restored Church of God Headquarters at the age of 18. Prior to that, I had only been attending with the local congregation for about a year.
As a young man, the idea that I would be getting the ultimate privilege of working for the Church’s Headquarters and being near to the Apostle conjured enough excitement to disregard my family’s many hesitations and warnings. To completely stop talking to all of my childhood friends, because I knew I was going to aspire to become different enough and I would no longer be able to associate with them. I was told my calling had drawn me out of the world, so therefore If I had friends with the world God hated that. Which actually is scriptural, but I took it to a place farther than I should have.
One of the all-encompassing lessons I was taught in the beginning was that we were to live the “Give Way” of life. That it was better to give to others and more satisfying to our lives to be living sacrifices than it was to expect from others and be given things.
I worked at the RCG HQ for only 4 years. It would have been longer but this is how it went:
At first, it was inspiring. There was a focus on studying, the truth, the people, unity, becoming wholesome people, elevating our standards to reflect God’s glory, and being lights to the world. Several ministerial trips were being made and slideshows put together, the whole HQ staff and congregation gathered for us to see our brethren from around the world and make the connection that we had a family much bigger than our minds could see. I would spend many weekends with brethren, where we would have family movie nights, dinners, game nights, and more. The camaraderie was just something to behold.
My first impression was that everyone was stiff and acted like robots. They all spoke the same, dressed the same, their hair combed, and cut perfectly. People walked fast, always In a rush. Whenever Pack would enter a room everyone would eagerly look for him to be the first to rise up in his presence. He is towering figure and a bit intimidating. We greeted each other in an awkward way the first time. And every encounter after was just me trying to get away from him as much as possible because I did not later want to be the subject of a staff meeting about how people constantly get in his way and make it difficult for him to do the work.
Anyhow, the first two years were marvelous, I found myself working seven days a week, If you didn't know, any setup and break down of the hall and other certain work at HQ was considered okay. We did a lot of it. But I didn't care I was doing something 7 days a week because I was determined to be the best serving Christian I could be. I had rose colored glasses on.
So many people at the time were moving to HQ, the staff was growing fast! There were rumors that a building was in the works.
Pack would always mention he always believed there was not enough time to build a campus so therefore we were going to focus the Church’s assets on doing the work. Resources were devoted to the Real Truth Distribution Program, Advertising was expanded. We got on to television. A hardcover book on prophecy was written. Ministers were coming to HQ for training and being sent out. Everything seemed really ok!
You almost never heard about having to give up your assets. That is…until the land was purchased and the entire Church was told a campus was going to be built. Then all the recent hires made sense. But also, an entire sermon came out on how we needed to give all that we had to the Church. From there, things took many twists and turns.
Fundraising was stressed on the members as a role they needed to partake in as part of their Christian duty. The example of Israel giving everything for the building of the temple was widely used to exhort us to do the same. We were told this would be far greater than what Mr. Armstrong had accomplished with the Pasadena campus. And the timing was so that the Pasadena campus had been demolished, which led Pack to believe beginning the process of building the RCG Campus was permission from God to do so.
But as I video documented the entire build of the lower campus as part of my Job, then, I began to notice some things were off.
First off, contractors were brought from the outside to help make the buildings possible. But Pack solely relied on the HQ staff to do the bulk of the work inside and landscaping. As the months progressed the first building began to take shape quickly but at the expense of tired staff. As I recorded, the few doing too much with too little time, they appeared terribly exhausted. Agitated. I focused a lot of the camera on the buildings themselves getting a lot of before and after.
Many would share with me their experience, often complaining. I’d listen but never went to the ministry telling them what they had said. People needed to vent. I was learning that the rose colored glasses that had kept me in delusion were beginning to wear off.
Pack championed himself as a man of the people and a pastor at heart. Openly stating he didn't want the role of Apostle, this was a method to solicit people to feel sorry for him, a tactic I believe he loves using often to tug at the heart strings of the membership and make them believe he cares about them.
Pack is one way with the church and different with the staff. Certain things he says in a sermon is often cut out because he does not feel the entire church or the world should know it. You can find him even saying this in his transcripts made public.
But during the entire build of the campus, many were overworked. Losing weight rapidly, often enduring poison ivy all over their bodies, sickness and, heat exhaustion. At times there were time crunches where lunches only lasted 30 minutes. Not enough time to get full nourishment for the hard work ahead.
Many were coming and going, that is because many were being fired. The pressure was on, suddenly Pack became so obsessed with the campus he began attacking the very people who with blood, sweat and I believe tears had dedicated everything including assets to build the buildings.
Anyone fired for a disagreement or failing to do the Job correctly were looked at as spiritual weak. IT'S NO WONDER! They had no time nor strength to study! People were driven to alcohol, smoking, escapades probably out of the volume of stress and feeling of emptiness.
If it were not for the faithful women there, who brought the young men food from time to time, I believe some would have gone the day without eating.
The first building was eventually completed in a year. But you could tell it was done in a hurry, there were all kinds of troubles with the first building. It was a headache. The whole staff was moved into the new building and eventually, everything became about appearance and standards and keeping the campus clean to a T.
Pack instituted a big brother is watching you type of feeling among people, often encouraging the staff and congregation that if they saw anyone drop trash on the campus to tell the ministry immediately. He went as far as to say during a staff meeting that you were not spiritual enough if you walked by a piece of trash on the campus and did not pick it up. What if your eye didn't catch it and someone else saw you walk by it? I’m pretty sure they’d see you as not spiritual.
You would see people scour the campus hoping to find trash so they could appear more spiritual. It was shocking!
What was supposed to be a campus for the people, for the city, for the congregation, wasn't really for those people, It was more of an empty palace! As time went on, many of the staff were laid off, even more, were fired, their sins made public by Pack from the pulpit to the entire church, probably to discredit them if they spoke to other members about what was going on. Soon, entire floors were closed off with only those being in executive having access. It was a hassle anytime you needed to go up to the third floor you either had to take three flights of stairs or catch the elevator at a perfect time. And if anyone saw you wondering on the third floor you were asked the reason for being up there. It was as if Pack was paranoid and began to isolate himself and those who were his loyalist also loved being enclosed up there! They had the best views, best furniture, best desks. Meanwhile, staff elsewhere had broken and falling apart desks. And we couldn't even get the latest access to software for work.
Many were made to feel bad. I was once told that Pack personally apologized to a family he had antagonized. However, he never made that public. He shared a story to the entire church of a young man working at HQ who asked another staff member about a bump he had gotten on his hand, the other staff replying to the young man it was a callus. When Pack heard that he used that story to show how young people were weak and didn't know what hard work was, thus he effectively killed the desire in that young man to do any more volunteering. That is what you got when you volunteered.
During a time that was so difficult for everyone, a time that was full of exhaustion, a desire to be better, a time where everyone was trying to get on Packs level, all he ever did was bash people, most often the young people caught the brunt of his anger. He often publicly shamed the young people, for having awful work standards and not being able to have the attention to detail he did. He once said the young people in the church couldn't take care of a gold fish let alone a cat. He made us feel bad because we didn't have the stellar upbringing he did and he couldn't understand that during that time the morale had dipped so low in the church that people needed to be uplifted.
Instead, he hunkered down and would watch from inside the air conditioned third-floor glass windows like a hawk as the staff worked tireless laying out sod and mulch around huge areas and gardens. Anyone who stopped working for more than three minutes he called out.
Pack often stated that if he could he would demand the entire church work on the campus on Sundays because God said six days shall you work. Staff meetings were intense, and the entire time it was him chastising the staff for things that were being overlooked or things that were being done wrong inside and outside the buildings.
The staff was being laid off on a huge scale, many such as myself constantly reassured we would not be affected. Until we were laid off. There went four years of my life, I had given it all up. With nothing to show for, because for the four years, I struggled financially so badly my family would regularly take up fund collections to help me afford my rent not get evicted. I once ate bread for a week. Never told anyone. Once trying lifting up a stack of chairs because there weren't any dolly’s or help around, I ended up pulling a muscle, my medical bill for that hospital visit was $7,000.
Many young people are routinely relocated, the same people working on the buildings, never having a feeling of being settled. One day you could be at peace the next day, your household would be shuffled and you could find yourself living with someone who secretly worshiped Pack.
I am thankful I had thick skin from the start. Some of the things I was told and made to feel would have been enough to make anyone feel insecure for a long time. But I believed I was doing something good. I believed and many others that we were helping out humanity.
Instead, we were helping out Pack by bringing to life his vision of a campus he could eventually live on. He is in his own bubble. As he has stated, he has this ability to “see things that are not real”. Thinks people will eventually try and kill him, hence why he must be on the campus. The 82 part and counting series on correcting much of the prophecy he says the church misunderstood has left people even more confused.
During the almost two years that this sermon series has taken place, many have left, and the new people will have no idea that Packs failed prophecy of August 2013 has effectively ruled him as a false prophet.
He is now claiming to be the end time Elijah and therefore if Elijah was a type of Christ, he is. He has trained the staff and ministry to tell people who disagree or question something that is wrong as spiritually weak.
One particular sermon that was given during a conference explained the higher a Christian is in the pyramid of government that God laid out, the higher your vantage point is spiritual. So the people work hard to achieve that level of awareness that could allow them to “see other peoples intention and spiritual level”. It almost sounded at times like some Scientology nonsense.
The Staff is underpaid. When they no longer need you, they let you go and don't even bother to check up on you only if there is a need of you again. Some staff are brought back when it's in the best interest of HQ. Staff meetings are basically, Pack yelling and staff never able to ask the questions they really want to ask. The buildings are mostly empty. Not enough money is coming in, so the existing number of people there have to work even more to maintain the income that is needed to pay for the campus. While others struggle to pay three tithes, Pack is enjoying a new home with a huge deck none of the members who have given it all up will ever have the pleasure of being on or having one of their own. Some of the loyal ministers at HQ routinely share with each other what was supposed to be private counsel sessions. They try and persuade you, that there must be something wrong with you. They regularly ask you about other members not keeping up with the status quo. If your haircut is off, they pounce on you like a pack of wolves, meanwhile, the same ministers walk by you as they walk into Sabbath services with their crisp pressed shirts, shined shoes, and clean shaven faces never saying hello.
The arrogance and egos and the people building up a wall around Pack are the same people no one likes to counsel with. There is no trust in them. People vent all the time. Anyone would welcome a conversation, a sincere genuine conversation where you openly talk about frustrations bothering you with the way things are done. It's considered murmuring, but some people cannot go to the ministry to release the pint up anger and hurt.
Now I am 26 years old and I realized I could no longer bear this all in, I spoke my mind several times, left the Church three months ago after giving it another shot, I was told I had been spiritually weak for a long time. No, I just got tired being told to believe the bible and then see actions that were different. I got tired of seeing peoples live uprooted, good people. People who were willing to do the right thing. Widows removed from the body for being a burden on the church. Young people shamed. Great ministers being fired or leaving. Always helping but never being helped. Played with your emotions. Confused about prophecy. Made to feel like people in the splinters were stupid and our enemies. On and on and on! What happened to the Give way of life I was told to honor? Pack has turned into something of a mad man even more so than what people already claim he is.
This is no joke, this will ruin your self-esteem and once you are either kicked out or muster the courage to leave, you are left to pick up the pieces and try to make sense of the whiplash that is being a part of RCG. You will feel unable at times to relate to people in the world. You will feel like you completely lost your sense of purpose in life. You will miss your friends who will no longer speak to you. You will fight hard to unlearn being critical of others and being a robot and all about appearances.
More and more people are coming out and saying the exact same things, down to precise details that cannot be made up. This stuff just cannot be made up!
It has affected my friendships and sometimes my relationship with my family. Now they are the ones helping me and encouraging me and giving me bits of happiness. I don't think Christ meant for a person to feel this way. But my hope for any who read this is that at the very least some faith in God can remain intact in your hearts and that you too make the decision to begin the healing process.
Also see a previous story of a former RCG employee: