Looking back, before his Rochester assignment, several ministers at the 1976 Feast of Tabernacles in Mount Pocono summoned Mr. Pack to the festival security office.
“We have a woman here who seems like she may be bothered by a spirit,” they told him. “What do you think?”
Not knowing what to do, they had sent for the young minister because of his training and experience in dealing with brethren troubled by demons. (Recall how in Newburgh, a month before the Feast, there occurred what became an instance in which Mr. Pack had cast seven demons from a man, right in his home.)
Mr. Pack looked at the woman in the security office, who was acting extremely strange. One of the pastors dismissed her bizarre behavior as “pure schizophrenia” and “a psychological problem.”
“No!” Mr. Pack said. “This woman has at least one spirit, and probably two.”
Though they disagreed on the exact nature of her problem, the ministers did agree she had no place at God’s Feast. They immediately sent her home.
Mr. Pack did not give the incident another thought, as the woman was not in the congregations he then served and the problem had been removed from the Feast.
However, on his first Sabbath in Rochester, Mr. Pack was surprised to see the same woman sitting in the congregation—the third of the three serious earlier-described problems about which the local church elder had warned him. Apparently, the previous minister had permitted her to attend services some time after the Feast. It was even more surprising when this same elder later conveyed more of the details of her history.
Mr. Pack attempted to gather all the facts and not rush to judgment, so he visited her at her home. He needed to decide whether he should inform her that she could not attend Sabbath services.
The decision was almost immediately made for him. While he was conducting the local congregation’s first Women’s Club at a nearby Holiday Inn, the still-troubled woman was there, and, during the proceedings, leapt from her chair, threw her arms in the air, and shrieked as she fell backward on the women behind her.
Surrounded by several dozen terrified ladies, Mr. Pack sternly told the woman (actually, the spirit troubling her), “In the name of Jesus Christ, hold still and be quiet.”
She immediately dropped to the floor, trembling.
“Don’t say one word,” Mr. Pack commanded. “I know who and what you are.” Thirty shaken women observed.
An ambulance was called to take her away. When the paramedics arrived, they came to recognize that the woman only responded to Mr. Pack. After they loaded her into the ambulance, they asked him if he would be willing to ride with her to the hospital. It was an unusual request, but he complied, ordering the woman not to utter another word en route, and she did not.
The scene reflected badly upon the Worldwide Church of God in the eyes of the local public. This became another reason in Mr. Pack’s thinking that people who do not belong in God’s Church must not, if possible, be permitted to ever get there in the first place.
Mr. Pack could under no circumstances permit the woman to attend any longer. Since she was vexed by demons, it would have been imprudent to continue working with her while still in the Church. She had been bothered for many years, been divisive, and had shown no signs of progress. Therefore, in accordance with Church doctrine, Mr. Pack did not permit her to attend Sabbath services, and distanced the Church and himself from her.
A year passed with no contact—yet she somehow had the idea that Mr. Pack planned to let her attend services again! That summer, after he returned from vacation, she unexpectedly telephoned him.
“Mr. Pack, while you were gone I was told by one of my friends that I would be allowed to come back to services now that you’re back from vacation.”
Naturally, the minister was confused as to what could have led her to think this. He sought to diffuse the situation.
“I’m sorry,” Mr. Pack said. “You cannot attend. Just keep studying and working with the Bible Correspondence Course at home.”
About two hours later, he received a call from one of the woman’s daughters.
“I’m curious, Mr. Pack,” she said calmly. “What did you say to my mother when she called you?”
The young pastor explained he had not spoken to the woman in almost a year, but had quietly told her she could not return to services, and asked, “Why are you calling?”
The daughter said, “Well, after hanging up the phone with you, Mr. Pack, my mother walked straight out into the backyard and shot herself in the head.”
Staggered by the news, Mr. Pack saw underscored a valuable lesson, again, never to be forgotten: Problems must be diffused immediately. What might have occurred if he had allowed this terribly disturbed woman to fellowship with the local congregation?
Sadly, some today blame Mr. Pack for the troubled woman’s death. Their “reason”? Because he did not show enough “love.”
“I knew that a demon had been involved and had tried to set me up with such a call from her out of the blue. I also remember being very angry that the previous pastor had put me in this position.
“Over the years, my enemies have done much to promote this story and two other accounts, one of which has already been described. Yet I had not the slightest involvement in any of these tragic occasions.
“The stories propagated about my involvement are pure fiction, and all who were involved in each case understood this. Had I been responsible in even a small way for such tragedies, one could have supposed that my ministry would not have continued, or there would have been some kind of consequences. These stories from the past are included here since they are a part of my life’s story, and occupy a place in the realm of ‘urban legend.’
“As I have learned so many times, those in God’s ministry must always be prepared to ‘play the hand that you are dealt’ by the previous pastor, men who were sometimes no more converted than a stump. I did the best I could at playing cards that no incoming minister should receive. But there would be one more similar occasion, and many additional times when ‘inherited’ problems would be laid at my feet. I had been trained from early on that when these things happen you just lean harder into the wind. And I did.”