In 1977, a member of the Worldwide Church of God in it's heyday responded to the criticisms leveled by the Ambassador Report - a work by John Trechek, the earliest mass-expose of the atrocities that were happening within the Headquarters of the Worldwide Church of God. Internal ministerial bulletins, writings by Garner Ted Armstrong, the lack of firm rebuttals by the Church, and the testimonies of close relatives of HWA and former HQ employees indicate such reports were not made up, nor were they exaggerated. The above letter by a member in Altadena, California explains what most of us thought of the Church under Armstrong. As we close out 2018, it's a good time to look into these honest perspectives, look back in hindsight, see what was correct or incorrect, and analyze where we are today.
"We are working for a cause that is bigger than all of us put together."
I think it is fair to say that all of us believed this fully and completely. We believed in the predictions, the goals, and the mission of the Church. We believed that we were the specially called out of the world - the infinitesimal few who had contact with God while the rest of the world was completely cut off and under the power of the devil. The cause, of course, was that we were in training to become kings and rulers in a world-ruling government under Jesus Christ., forever under the authority of the rule of Herbert Armstrong. The author says that we "knew" the Worldwide Church of God was exactly what it said it was. Meaning, the "One True Church".
Where are we today? The Worldwide Church of God is history. It is now Grace Communion International, a small mainstream evangelical church, presided by Greg Williams. Hundreds of competing, incompetent splinters - fighting against each other with tens of two witnesses, wanna-be prophets, weak ministers and powerless ministries continually make merchandise of their brethren, incapable of substantial growth and influence - barely surviving on just enough income to eek out comfortable lives for the very top while the bottom sacrifice their hard earned income with the hope that somehow, it will all work out. Many stay because there really is, to them, no other place to go. What cause are they working for now?
"We believe we are part of a vibrant, growing organization"
At the time, this appeared to be true. The local churches had congregations averaging three to four hundred. Festival sites ranged from four to fourteen thousand. The teen program was taking off. Herbert was trotting the globe - members believing that he was somehow preaching the Gospel to kings and heads of state. And in the back of their minds, the end of the world was three to five years away - and at any minute they were preparing to flee to Petra while the world was engulfed in World War Three. Today, not one of the remnants of the Worldwide Church of God can come close to be called a "vibrant, growing organization". Today, in many cases, one established major mainstream megachurch in any medium to large city is as large or larger than a whole large Church of God. Indeed, the Worldwide Church of God, the "vibrant, growing organization" referred to, is practically dead.
"Hate-Filled Group of Poison-Penned Pharisees"
The writers of Ambassador Report were not hate-filled. They simply were able to cut through the deception and report what was really going on behind the scenes. Garner Ted Armstrong, in a bulletin to the ministers, confirmed the ministry was full of "vanity, conceit, pride, ego", and all manners of carnality within the ranks - large enough that he even said it would be nearly "impossible" to fix. The video of GTA himself caught in a massage parlor, while he tickled the pickle, hadn't yet come out. The Kessler expose had not yet come out. The Receivership was yet to come. The membership did not know about GTA wanting to hire Kareem-Abdul Jabar and top sports celebrities at their expense to promote their intercollegiate basketball program. They ignored the constant threats of the Lake of Fire by HWA to those who were not giving their all - while GTA at around the same time admitted the average family simply had no more to give after all the donations they were already strangling themselves with. No, this was not hate. It never has been. It was a bold attempt to confront a multi-million dollar scam and it's followers with the solid truth of what was really going on. It is a mission that continues to this day.
"What Kind of Perverted Pleasure do they Get"
None. They didn't get pleasure then. It's not "pleasure" now. It's incredulous wonder, especially now, well after the collapse of Worldwide and looking at what is left. Bastardizers of the Law, self-appointed unordained and untrained men trying to gain followings, alcoholics running larger splinters, a splinter taking everything from a member as his own and calling it "common", worship of a common rock, covering up felonies, supporting abusers, and member suicides are things that happen within these churches. No, this is not "perverted pleasure". This was, and is, a duty to inform others of the atrocities that happen that burn to ash the life of the human spirit and soul. Those who get "perverted pleasure" are the many (not all) "ministers" and "members" within the Church who have been thoroughly documented to be perverts.
Would They Have Believed Now - Then?
If we would have told them the exposes that came out a few years later. If we would have told them that Ambassador College would be sold, scattered, and demolished to oblivion, would they have believed it? If we had told them that the Worldwide Church of God would collapse and turn mainstream evangelical - keeping Christmas and Easter, and going to Church on Sundays - would they have believed it? If we had told them that Ambassador Auditorium would be sold to a charismatic church - would they have believed that? If we had told them that there would be hundreds of small, insignificant, puny splinters -some even led by non-ordained lay members thinking they are prophets or the best interpreters of the Law - would they have believed that? If we told them that one splinter leader would try to make people believe 2008 was important, another that 2013 was important, that one would go to prison, and the other would redact nearly everything he said - would they believe all of this? If we told them that Christ had not yet returned in 2018 - no tribulation - would they have even considered that as the truth? What do you think they would have done? Called us liars? Demon-possessed? Deceivers? They would have kicked us to the curb if we told them the truth. In the same way they kicked to the curb John Trechek and the Ambassador Reports for daring to tell them the truth.
The writer of the above letter was all of us. Hopeful and confident that HWA was right. That we did have just three to five years left. That we were going to Petra, the Place of Safety. That the Worldwide Church of God was the one true church. That the door God had opened "no man can shut". That the growth would continue until the whole world was the Worldwide Church of God. That all of HWA's prophecies would eventually prove to be true. That none of the things that happened in the Church really happened.
But they did. And they still are. And they will still happen - if people are not informed and realize what it is they are walking into.
The person who wrote this opinion into the Paper believed with her whole heart. So did we, at one time. Now, with the internet, history, and facts at our disposal from all levels - Bulletins, Pastor General Reports, Testimonials, Accounts from true insiders - we know the story. We know the facts. And we know whereof we speak. We lived it. And we see it. This is not a mission of Pharisaical poison-penned bitterness. It never has been with Ambassador Reports. It is not with us. It is simply telling it exactly as it was, and is.
6,000,000 views with this site alone - along with sites like PT, and the many other blogs on the Internet - prove one thing. The stranglehold of information the Churches of God had back in 1977 is history. Now, you can know. And we - with straightforward opinion, in honesty and fact - will tell you.
Check out a few other web sites and blogs regarding the Church of God movement
Vridar occasional articles on COG
These two sites are by the late Gavin Rumney that hold a wealth of information