January: Fred Coulter splashed out on full page magazine ads to promote his new Bible version. Weinland's "The End" website was drawing more traffic than any other COG contender, but the Obama inauguration demonstrated that yet another of his amazing prophecies had crashed and burned: "... there will not be a new president take office in January." Oops.
February: Publicity emerged about the forthcoming Wolverton Bible. John Morgan's Flying Free appeared in hard copy for the first time. Weinland was overtaken in web traffic by UCG's Good News.
March: News that LCG had spent megabucks on a flash new set for their TV show. AW scraped into the top half-million websites (as measured by Alexa). The Wolverton Bible was released to mixed cries of both hosanna and rhubarb by the ex-COG community. With flawless timing the Flurry cult (PCG) knicked some of Wolverton's artwork for their Trumpet magazine, while the local Distinctly Oklahoma rag provided Gerry Flurry with shamelessly facile publicity for his Ambassador Auditorium knock-off.
April: COG members observed Passover. AW linked to AC alumnus Jennifer Armstrong's intriguing travel book Dreaming In Arabic. Sheila Graham asked for submissions from Journal readers on women's experiences in WCG. Weinland's website dropped another place - behind both the GN and Flurry's Trumpet. Joe Tkach officially announced WCG's rebranding as Grace Communion International. James took over the helm at The Painful Truth, becoming the fifth editor. News that Gerry had been out shopping and returned with Big Sandy's bird sculpture to grace his cloned auditorium. Jonathan Meredith, son of Spanky, tried his hand at a spot of twittering, only to find that his unguarded comments were accessible to more than his mates.
May: News that the balance on UCG's Council of Elders may have shifted with the election of new board members. Weinland's website continues the slide... down to number 5 on the COG hit parade. Bill F. announces the closure of the Ekklesia site, while Norm Edwards resurrected Servants' News.
June: UCG's Paul Kieffer floated the idea of a cautious rapprochement with LCG. Gerry's Trumpet predicted Christ's return in less than a decade. Weinland appeared at IdeaCity in Toronto to smirks and chuckles.
July: Tkach announced that he had "tried and tried hard" to reconcile with disaffected members. Living University was authorised to issue worthless, non-accredited degrees. "Sientspirit" launched a series of short but powerful YouTube videos relating to her experiences growing up in WCG. Tom Mahon fulfilled a long-standing promise and uploaded a photo of himself to the Web. Willie Dankenbring raised his anti-Obama scripture-twisting to a new level of lunacy. Former Painful Truth editor John Bowers published a sci-fi novel. Dianne McDonnell had a hernia over Sheila Graham's article in The Journal. P.Z. Myers had a hernia over UCG's creationist ads appearing on his openly-atheistic science blog, and sent for a copy to review (which was, wouldn't you know it, never sent.) Pam Dewey made some pertinent observations on misogyny in the COGs. The first signs appeared of problems on UCG's COE with Richard Thompson leaving ("for personal reasons") and el Presidente Clyde Kilough making a discrete sideways shuffle.
August: The Living Armstrongism blog chalked up a remarkable success with an email campaign to put a spoke in PCG's efforts at distributing their rag via a South African firm. Weinland warned his devotees to stay away from social networking sites.
September: Willie Dankenbring discovered how to put his stuff up on YouTube. Australia's ABC noted the 40th anniversary of WCG co-worker Rohan's attempt to blow up the Al Aqsa mosque. Dave Pack appeared on a History Channel doco about Nostradamus. Greg Albrecht claimed he was reduced to eating beans in his efforts to preach the PTM gospel. Bob Thiel launched a book choc full of 2012 garbage. Carla Powers, a high-profile corporate lawyer with a WCG background, launched a book that dealt with her early years in the church, Matches in the Gas Tank. "Sideshow Bob" popped up again with the claim that he held a Th.D (Doctor of Theology degree) from "TCU," which later morphed to "TC of U" - an institution nobody could identify. Trumpet hack Ron Fraser had a rush of blood to the head and claimed that the Plain Truth magazine was "the most widely circulated of all periodic publications during the 20th century."
October: The 2009 FOT. More and more questions about Bob Thiel's so-called Th.D, culminating in some Internet research which suggests Bob picked it up by correspondence from a third-rate degree-mill in Kochi, India called Trinity School of Apologetics & Theology. No response from Bob.
November: LCG climbs on the 2012 bandwagon with a cover story (but no acknowledgement of their own in-house expert, Dr. Thiel.) Rumors of more internal strife on UCG's Council of Elders. Bob Thiel removes mention of the Th.D from his site, but indulges in rampant speculation about the new EU president's place in prophecy.
December: Paul Kieffer steps down - or maybe was pushed - from the COE after a long, bitter campaign by UCG's more gestapo-friendly elements. Weinland infers that he is the End Time Elijah - kind of. And finally, UCG's COE sends out an unprecedented appeal for unity to its ministry in the wake of ongoing trauma and the destabilizing activities of hard-line malcontents: 2010 could be a make or break year for the largest COG of them all.
And so to AW's 2009 awards.
For continuing chutzpah in the face of undeniable disconfirmation: Ronnie Weinland.
For services to amateur Biblical scholarship and translation, Fred Coulter.
For services to the Arts, with particular reference to collecting Herbal memorabilia and erecting monuments, Gerry Flurry.
For keeping up appearances, despite a guaranteed job for life handed down from his dear old dad, Joe "whataya mean a sinecure?" Tkach.
For promoting healthy food options, Greg Albrecht.
The AW "Watch this Space" award: the elected members of UCG's Council of Elders who have had to contend with vicious behaviour intended to destabilize their church and bring back "the colonels" who would, in turn, bring back on old-style, top-down regime.
Finally, AW's Person of the Year.
An individual who in 2009 has dueled with talk-show hosts and created video clips to promote his new book, suffered silently the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune when his eminent qualifications were churlishly questioned, tirelessly defended the reputation of ad-man turned Apostle Herb Armstrong, and loyally promoted LCG through thick and thin despite ingratitude... [insert fanfare!] the most remarkable "Th.D" the Churches of God have ever produced, ladies and gentlemen... Dr. Bob Thiel.