Tuesday 20 February 2007

WCG's best ministers

Over at the WCG Alumni Forum they're debating which ministers were WCG's worst. Some of the names to feature include Waterhouse, Pack, Flurry, Tkach I, Tkach II, Spanky and Herb.

That's too easy. I think there may be a more profitable question we might grapple with. Who were the best ministers?

Of course, there were no perfect ministers. But decent, fallible men working in difficult circumstances with a genuine interest in those they were supposed to serve? Had to be a few.

So let's put the negativity to one side this one time and ask for a show of hands. Whose ministry did you appreciate, and why? What anecdotes can be told that show a compassionate face, a human dimension, despite all the angst and agro that went on. Which ministers bucked the trend and refused to put on the jack-boots, gave valuable advice or showed an occasional capacity for genuine kindness or humility?

One plea. Let's not turn this thread into an "oh no, you've gotta be kidding about old X. He was a complete stinker to me..." game. Just this once let's play nice. I realise this could be a very, very short discussion. But who knows...


Anonymous said...

There were kind, gentle men, there still are some. Still teaching, but what? Are they teaching truth? Are they teaching God's word faithfully and truthfully?

There were no good ministers.

Anonymous said...

Back in the 80's I had Jim Reyer as a pastor. He is a good man. What I liked most was the way he spoke about King David and the Psalms.

Steve said...

I was in the WCG from 1969 to the infancy of UCG. Never knew a good "minister". Sorry. I can't help you.

Steve K

Anonymous said...

No one can know the heart nor the relationship of another person with God, so to use a dissmissive, judgmental statement like "there were no good ministers" is to make yourself like and with the authority and knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.

None of us is qualified or up to that task - only they are.

Ministers are first and foremost human beings, just like the rest of us. They stumble, they fall, they fail just as we do and just as Abraham, David, Paul, Peter, John, Moses, Elijah, and every other human being God has ever worked with has. I thank God that His judgment is different from ours, is merciful, and is equal and fair (the same rules apply to all).

I would not want the first poster here judging me, nor would I want any other human - including myself - to judge me. I'd be in the lake of fire already if that were the case.

That being said, only God can call something or someone good and He referred to some of the sinners I mentioned above as "a man after My own heart" and as "faithful" and "friends." It is the whole of a life and a person and their character and relationship with God that He looks at, not the small and incomplete sliver of their lives we see as a "minister."

Anonymous said...

Art Braidic is one of those "blue collar" ministers who actually ministers to people -- visits the sick, the fatherless, the widow and stranger in their affliction. He bothers to explain what he believes straight from the Bible -- in fact, he will hand you his and make you read the relevant Scriptures.

John Cafourek is a superior minister for United and does as much as the UCG allows him to do, which often isn't much, but at least he has a Masters in Counseling, which is a lot more than most ministers can claim: A degree of competence, imagine that! It is unfortunate that his church simply won't let him do more because they are too busy keeping their old wineskins to preserve the status quo.

Honorable mention should be given to the young minister who had the courage to preach a sermon to counter the Dennis Luker "once saved always saved" sermon while Dennis Luker and Robert Dick were both out of town, but since he has since been put out of the ministry for supporting the Home Office congregation, his name shall not be given here lest he get into any more trouble than he is in already.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoyed Carlton Green. I found him unfailingly generous and encouraging. He and his family had experienced the bitterness of racism when they lived in Big Sandy, but I never detected any hint of resentment. Before he was put in charge of the food service in Pasadena, portions were rationed and the service was in the red. Mr. Green came in around 1978 and changed it to an all-you-can-eat buffet service -- and made it pay for itself. He didn't preach much, but his can-do attitude, common sense, and perennial smile were infectious.

Douglas Becker said...

I have a sign up in my office at work:

It is impossible to be competent in a dysfunctional environment.

That is the problem with the Church Corporate: It is a thoroughly dysfunctional environment and always has been from the days of its founding in the 1930s.

While there are outstanding ministers doing a good job of helping and ministering to the people they really care about, the organizations of which they are a part are thoroughly degenerate except for the possible the smallest of them under 50 people or so. In such an environment, anyone who is actually a good minister is a deviation from the norm, not doing his part to support the money making machine which is without empathy and conscience. Such men are limited in their effectiveness by fiat and definition because as a psychopathic organization the particular church of gods has the purpose of surviving for the mere purpose of surviving -- generally feeding a lavish amount of funds to the idolatrous narcissistic leadership.

As individuals, both the people of the congregation and their ministers are wonderful people one one on one. It's just when they get together as a group, we can't stand them.

Anonymous said...

Over the years, I've come to realize that many of the WCG ministers are individuals who simply were taken for a slightly different level ride as compared to the lay members of the ACOGs. From what Dennis and others have indicated, many did not do any independent study beyond what we were all spoon-fed.

Over the years, there were significant numbers who suddenly realized that they had not been told all that was known or needed to be known, and as a matter of conscience, left. There were others who simply continued to trondle out the same old mucus in their pursuit of financial stability. Still others probably believe what they have been teaching 100%.

If we use the term minister to mean "spiritual guide", then I really cannot think of a single thing of lasting value whatsoever that any of them imparted to me. This is sad, because I can recall specific principles and concepts which I obtained from my secular teachers and business mentors along the way.

When it all boils down, really all of the WCG ministers were purveyors of a defective product. The ones whom I appreciate are those who realized this, left the group(s), and began a new odyssey, searching for truth and answers. I use an additional qualifier in my analysis. Such ministers would also need to have been nonabusive during their ministry with WCG, or would need to have undergone some sort of epiphany leading to their massive apology for what they'd done to their charges.

Ministers are people, too. How can we, in good conscience, forbid any possibility that they might redeem themselves? We all made a serious mistake in following flawed theology. As stated above, some were simply on a slightly different level.


camfinch said...

Truth to be told, I never developed (nor sought to develop) much of a close relationship with a minister during my COG days (which are now many years removed). Exception: I was friends with a few "local elders" who, not having been to AC, and being permanently based in their own home area, tended to be more genuine, less obsessed with demonstrating their "authority", and more "in touch" with the lay members. Certainly, I know there are many stories about local elders who let the authority go to their head, but I knew a few who conveyed lots of concern and helpfulness and were truly friends. One such person, in the Greensboro, NC area long ago, was Ray Grubb. Another in the same area--at least, I think he got "advanced" to local church elder--was Hollis Crotts. I expect many of you also knew some genuinely nice guys among the local church elders.

Another minister whom I knew somewhat well, back at AC-Pasadena, who seemed pretty cool and decent was Charles Oehlman. He was Dean of Students there for awhile, and I felt more "comfortable" around him than I did with any other minister on campus. He got fired--and I assume disfellowshipped--when HWA "put the church back on track" during the anti-intellectual purge in the late '70s.

The good guys so often got pushed aside.

Anonymous said...

Camfinch said:

One such person, in the Greensboro, NC area long ago, was Ray Grubb. Another in the same area--at least, I think he got "advanced" to local church elder--was Hollis Crotts.

Funny how each person was perceived so differently. I was a small child when we were in Greensboro, NC, but based on the my own intuitive memories and the impressions I have gleaned from conversations over the years, it was a very overtly political church area and the deacons and elders were chosen based on the amount of cowtowing they did to the minister, not on the criteria that is stated in I Tim 3.

Ray Grubb and his family couldn't be bothered with anyone who didn't help them in their quest to be church leaders. They tended toward insecurity and pettiness and jealousy of anyone who looked like a threat (even though those involved were not a threat) to their fifedom. If they helped, they helped for show, not out of a genuine care and concern.

Hollis Crotts' I don't know - I know the name but I think he must have left at some point before I really knew much about him.

The real leaders in Greensboro were the church who put up with a lot of insufferable nonsense and politics and still retained (and many of them do now in other COG groups) their commitment to God.

They believed and followed Matt 6:33 and discovered that keeping their heads down and a low profile was the easiest way to stay out of the human fray going on all around them.

Anonymous said...

Art Braidic???

I don't really know the man, but COGwriter states that he was put out of GCG/LCG for [sexual] improprieties.

So much for "visiting" the widows!

Anonymous said...

Marc Masterson was one of the good guys. He was my pastor from about age 16 through my early 20's

I'd bet if you asked 90+% of anyone he pastored in his NY or NJ congregations, they would agree. He never once talked down to me or acted as if he was in some high and mighty position elevated above where lesser mortals existed. I was always left with the impression that he genuinely cared. He liked a good joke, movies, books, and a cold beer. I won't get into his stances on Armstrongism since I haven't spoken to him in 10 years so he may have changed them...but he was first rate speaker as well.

Gavin - You should have a thread for pastors whose positions were most dangerous to their congregations. I have two that really belong on that list.

Jim Jenkins was a good guy too. He died a while back I believe.

FYI Again said...

I've known a number of bad ones over the years, but a few decent ones. The best one I ever knew was never a full time minister. He was "only" an unpaid local Elder. Still, in my experience with him he provided all the services (and none of the burdens) that one would expect a minister to provide.

His name was Ray Clore. The last I heard of him he was with Rod Meredith's LCG. I assume he is still with them.

My experience with Mr. Clore - yes, I'll call him that out of genuine respect - were entirely positive. He wasn't the judgmental sort, he listened, and he tried his best to be truly helpful.

He did this at cost to himself. He was not paid by the church. He had a full time job with the US State Department - a diplomat of some sort - and was often stationed in not so savory parts of the world. While there, he became the local WCG minister to whatever members they had in that area.

So, he ended up being the local WCG minister in such garden spots as Haiti and Cameroon. He had some interesting stories about the years he spent in such places. Yes, years, not weeks or months like some other "ministers".

Long story short, Mr. Raymond Clore was one of the few ministers I ever knew who was a true servant. He was never a big wig and never tried to be. He served some of the poorest and humblest COG people on the planet. And he was never paid a dime by the church.

Wherever he is now, I wish him all the best. He deserves it.

Anonymous said...

Who were WCG's best ministers (of DARKNESS)? Hmmmm.....that's a tough one.

Like...WHO CARES?!

Anonymous said...

One of the most spiritual and knowledgeable ministers I have met is Mr. Mario Hernandez. His messages always inspire and seem to teach me something "new" which when I think about it, it isn't new but a very interesting way of presenting God's Truth. He kind of makes me see things in a new light, which is always refreshing.

Mickey said...

Art Docken. My personal experience with him was that he was kind and had the sense to realize when something was beyond him.

When I came to him with a mental health issue, he said he could counsel with me but it would be better handled by an outside professional. No admonishments to "pray more" or "forgive". Something I would have never thought would happen from a WCG minister. For that alone, I'm extremely greatful.

Anonymous said...

Mickey's right. Art Docken was definitely very humane and very humble.

Steve said...

It's strange how there's a few contradictions about how certain "ministers" were perceived. That's because many of the "ministers" showed favoritism. He may have been perceived as GREAT by one person, but the antichrist to someone else. When he stepped on the individual's personal toes, then the attitude about him changed. One man's medicine is another man's to speak.

Steve K

Anonymous said...

Over the years, I probably had 15 or more ministers.

On the corporate level, I respect and admire David Antion and Ron Dart.

At the congregational level, I had close and loving relationships with two men that really loved their people and were kindly. Interestingly enough, both told me that racism would hold their careers back in the WCG. (One was black and the other Lebanese)

Both of them had also been "just regular members" and had worked real jobs in the real world and had raised kids in the church as regular members.

Both men loved their congregations and would try to introduce progressive thought and methods. One would even do "break out groups" during church services, and solicit input from the audience during sermons! Both could hold someones hand and cry with them and "share their pain".

Warren Waian, and Stan Deveaux moved me, mentored me, and loved me. They are in the "Lussenheide Hall of Fame"


Anonymous said...

Art Docken was a wonderful guy.

Not sure why the comment from Anon about Art Braidic though. This is supposed to be a positive thing. And Art Braidic is one of the most humble and contrite people who has ever served in this capacity. He will even go out of his way to drive people to church.

Frank McCrady was a nice person who really liked to talk about the scriptures and talked a lot about life in general. He wanted people to ask him Bible questions, unlike some, he referred to the scriptures first and rarely to the literature. If you got to know him he liked you.

Lastly, John Halford, fun to talk with and had a real desire to see people be treated properly.

Anonymous said...

The men who entered the ministry from AC were carefully taught that they were specially chosen for this role and that they were superior to lay members. They occupied a higher rank than lay members in the WCG defined hierarchy today and they would occupy a higher rank throughout eternity.

One Saturday evening before a basketball game, I recall asking one of the leading men in the senior class, soon to be sent out as a minister, if he would help me open some bleechers in the Field House. He looked at me as if I were utterly insane and asked me to go ask someone else. This is a small incident, one of thousands, but it is revealing.

Looking down on lay members was part of the "leadership" training these men received. Our salvation was hanging by a thread and that thread was in their arbitrary and imperious hands. Pretty heady for a 22 year old who just graduated, got married and could look forward to a high income, second tithe allowance, clothing allowance, a fleet car and a position of importance for eternity.

This is why I have trouble with this question. Even though I have had ministers, on rare occasion, treat me as if I had some shred of human dignity, I never really trusted them. I knew how they were educated. I knew what they really thought in spite of outward appearances, notwithstanding the big smile, the confident handshake and the seeming interest in me and my life.

They were decidedly, by training and indoctrination, not just people like the rest of us.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

Concerning anonymous comment about Art Braidic, Art Braidic???

I don't really know the man, but COGwriter states that he was put out of GCG/LCG for [sexual] improprieties.

Cogwriter claims:

"On July 1, 2001, eight ministers resigned from CGCF and formed the Church of the Eternal God (CEG), similar in name, but not related, to the Eternal Church of God (ECG--founded by a minister removed from the original GCG ministry for impropriety) about a month later CGCF (USA) dissolved and most still with it ended up in the United Church of God (UCG)."

Cogwriter is often wrong factually. This was true of Phillip Shields, but no one was mentioned in the quote above.

I do know that Cogwriter is wrong, not just because of the XCG blog taking shots at him, but he has really mangled some of the things he claims that the other churches of God teach. But then we would expect that of Dr. Thiel.

Steve said...

From Dennis, "Richard Plache called us all the cream of the crud."

So, you objected to being called the "CREAM of the crud", or the "cream of the CRUD"? Hmmmm?

Steve K

Anonymous said...

"The men who entered the ministry from AC were carefully taught that they were specially chosen for this role and that they were superior to lay members. They occupied a higher rank than lay members in the WCG defined hierarchy today and they would occupy a higher rank throughout eternity."

This may have been an impression you had as a result of your personal experience with some.

Oh, the ministers might not have been carefully taught that, but Gerald Waterhouse said that the ministers "would occupy a higher rank throughout eternity" in his five hour sermons on his world tours of blathering. Maybe the ministers weren't necessarily taught it, but the members sure were if they kept awake during the sermons.

Unfortunately, there was a definite sense of entitlement. As good as a few ministers may have been, there has not been a time that a minister of preaching elder rank or above has ever had us in their home for dinner or been to our home for dinner.

There is a reality that even those ministers who are no longer with the churches of God still project a sense of entitlement that we should listen to their opinions and that we are lesser beings. They might not realize they are doing it, but it is clear that the attitude is still very much with them.

We should very much, as Gerald Waterhouse declared, "say hooray, we are on the bottom!". That is our place, lower than dirt and rotten sinners forever destined to sing Psalm 51 over and over and over again. I'm not certain that I could tolerate the tops being in charge for all eternity, even if I weren't on the very bottom of the Kingdom, because the trivialization would be very hard to bear for those of us who have one shred of empathy.

Everyone should consider ABC's 20/20 segment
The Ugly Truth about
by John Stossel from August 23, 2002. From starting out as a Young Ambassador at AC onward, the ministers were chosen not for their qualifications, but for how attractive they were. This is called "lookism". The handsome people get the breaks. The rest are rank and file church members who pay and pray and do the dirtywork. If you don't believe just how much entitlement most of the ministry has had, just go back and review the information on how conscientious objectors were treated at Big Sandy: Non person persons.

A few ministers did actually do their job, visited the fatherless and widow in their affliction and helped the poor and stranger. Even so, of the few who did, there are fewer who seem to be left. We should hold funeral services for the Good Samaritan.

There doesn't seem to be any solution to this particular problem, for in the church of gods, the world is very much with us unto this very day.

Anonymous said...

"This may have been an impression you had as a result of your personal experience with some. It is, however, BS in fact. There was never any such "careful" teaching, formally or informally, in my experience."

Dennis, I'll have to side with Neo on this one-"They were decidedly, by training and indoctrination, not just people like the rest of us."

While maybe not formally taught, extreme rank and class consciousness is what many of the AC trained ministers exuded from every pore. They figured admissions to AC were selective; leadership positions and assignments as undergrads were selective. Next, passing the AC manpower committee final cut, perhaps the most highly selective "cut" of all. As we now know, the AC manpower committee highly discriminated against any found inferior or defective in the AC Way of Life to find the most perfect cream of the AC crud.

The WCG became a very power and rank conscious military style organization with HWA having unchecked authority as fire star Pastor General and Commander In Chief. Armstrong was a disciple of Hitler and his administrative methods, having read Mein Kampf. Would he have his "SS" ministry fraternizing with the lowly, common, ordinary members in the ranks? I think not. Special high rank dinner tables for Armstrong and the WCG ministry, please!

Anonymous said...

fyi again,

Ray Clore performed my step father's funeral last year. My step father was a member of LCG.

I concur with your observations about Mr. Clore. He performed a good funeral service for my family. Afterwards, we had a nice conversation and I told him about my former telecomm career - I am a fatality of the WorldCom telecomm meltdown. He displayed understanding and empathy as I described what had happened in my industry. It was the first conversation I've had with a COG minister in 30 years.

My understanding is Mr. Clore is here in the Washington, D.C. area.

I attended WCG in Washington/Baltimore with my family from 1968 to 1976. Ken Westby and Vince Panella were our ministers among others. I think people were sincere in their beliefs with the knowledge and understanding that they had at that time.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to nominate the Pastor who baptized me in Worldwide in 1984 -- who's still with WCG after all these years.

Arnold Clauson is now in Dallas, but was in Oklahoma at the time. He was the Pastor in OKC/Enid before Gerald Flurry was transferred there and started turning everything upside down.

He was a good speaker, with a style which reminded me of GTA -- and he was patient with me as I went through booklets for two years (and extensive Bible study of the Scripture references in those booklets, on my own).

Anonymous said...

I realize my non WCG upbringing as Presbyterian gave me a different perspective when immersed in the WCG culture.

I was a baptized Lutheran attending a Catholic Parochial School. The WCG / xCG experiences are so far out of bounds, it is difficult for anyone outside the venue who are associated with traditional Christianity to even begin to comprehend what eventually became common in the churches of God. The few who have it described to them just drop their jaws and say, "Oh My God!".

The minister in the Church of God Seventh Day we experienced was a far cry from anything we experienced in the WCG / xCGs. There is no comparison. He actually talked to us. It is difficult to reconcile the experience even with the CoG7.

All churches and congregations have their problems, but it was a breath of fresh air when my wife's childhood friend in the WCG was married by her brother in a Protestant church -- the minister exuded care and obvious concern for people, and not for the Church Corporate.

"Rearranging chairs on the Titanic" springs to mind when thinking about "good ministers" in the WCG. The problem is that many of the deck hands were probably pretty good and nice, but, the ship was sinking, after all.

Anonymous said...

How about this for a title?

"Born Again Pastor Turns Into
Right Bastard the First Time"

Anonymous said...

Born Right the First Time would be my pick. You may want to do a title search on it first. I haven't heard of that title, but it seems too good to have not been used at least in a magazine.

Anonymous said...

Great men!
Earl Roemer, who split wood for the widow while a ministerial assistant, and was reamed by his mentor. However, after HWA became aware of it, sent out a directive that all ministers were to have a set of working clothes in their cars so that work could be done when it was needed and not wait for the "deacon" to arrive.

Jeff McGowan, who always gave you enough room to hang yourself. When you did, you were out.

Ass hole: Jim Tuck, whose wife shot snakes and woodchucks in the desert on Sundays so she could stand to live with him during the week. And who always arranged to receive a phone call when visiting so that he didn't have to stay long.

Anonymous said...

I would like to second the Marc Masterson submission. He was a superior speaker and genuine humane person. I understand that he is ill at home now.

I believe that Bob Dick was one of the good ones. He was kind and gentle with my family when we were going through difficult situations.

Anonymous said...

Most of the ministers I knew in the Worldwide Church of God were good people, some of them good people with significant flaws, to be sure. I can only think of one out-and-out stinker (Dennis would agree with me on this one), and even he had some fine qualities. The problem was their/our orientation in Armstrongism, of which I still maintain we were all "victims."

Audi said...

I have always held Steve Botha in the highest regard. Also Joe McNair. He and I became personal friends, and had he not been in the minstry, would have been even closer, as we had very much in common. He's the only minister with whom we ever socialized on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Individually, they were great!

As a group? Couldn't stand 'em.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful ministers!

Just about all of them.

'Cept at the Feast of Tabernacles where they got the best of the best, got the rooms early and sat by themselves holier than thou.

Also 'cept at church.

And in counseling where they'd flip off "solutions" instantly where a lot of careful research was needed.

Yes, they were all wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, except when they got together for ministerial conferences and for Holydays and Passover; in parking lots and to deliver "correction" to you in your home which was absolutely wrong-headed; and picnics; and social events. Wonderful until it came time to pick awards for talent at which points the ministers kids got the prizes. Wonderful all the time, except when it really counted, which was just about all the time -- just like snakes in suits.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this thread more like the Stockholm Syndrome where the victims declare how wonderful their captors were?

Steve said...

If you were just an average Joe in the church(seen and not heard), then the "ministers" would leave you alone. I remember that my wife became good friends with one "minister's" wife(Melania Nutsman). They were very close until the other "minister" bitty wives found out about it. The "pastor's" wife turned cold as ice toward my wife, and wouldn't have anything more to do with her. It truly hurt my wife at the time. So much for "good" people.

Steve K

Anonymous said...


If you don't realize this, you are not a ministerial bastard now, and probably never were one of the ministerial bastards. Peace.

Steve said...

One more thought: The only good "minister" is an unemployed "minister". Gerald Witte became a good "minister" when he became a people greeter at WalMart.

Steve K

Anonymous said...

I remember one minister who yelled all the time, screamed from the pulpit, the poor sound man with the headphones on trying to adjust the sound was a stunning visual sight with his pained facial expressions. But then again i would look around and see the same expression on others faces as well. I remember very well after services asking this minister about Herb's latest Co-Worker letter ( early 60's?)where he had written that we all were "Spiritual Slackers" and would go to the Lake of Fire if we did not send in more money above and beyond the 1st,2nd,3rd tithes and generous offerings and gifts. I think it was about building or tabernacle funds. He screamed at me for all to hear,a real drama "queen" he was . He let me know that i was criticizing (asking a question) God's true anointed one and was probably going to end up in the Lake of Fire . Now back then he WAS one of the good guys. Some of the others were worse.
rod 2

Steve said...

I remember how "wonderful" the "ministers" were during one of the FOTs. My wife reserved a condo at Corpus Christi. The manager of the complex wasw given strict orders that only "ministers' could stay there, but she bucked the system and gave us one of the condos. When the "ministers" found out about it, they came to "visit" my wife and made her give up the condo because only "ministers" could stay there.

I remember another incident where I talked to another "pastor" about a situation instead of my "pastor". My "pastor" sent a lowly "local elder" to scold me who told me that "only pastors talk to pastors". My comment was, "Then, who the hell talks to God?". Oh, yes, "wonderful ministers!!


Anonymous said...

One of Pasadena's greatest loving and caring pastard's had to have been Jim Reyer. He was filled with so much of the Holy Spirit that he was able to tell a young woman who had a child outside of marriage that her child was going directly into the lake of fire because she had sex outside of marriage. Such love! Such compassion! Such Caring. God love WCG's pastard's! They were the best! Cream of the crop! Destined to rule world's!

Anonymous said...

Working clothes in the ministers' cars -- on orders from HWA? That's a new one on me. I never wouldhave guessed it. And I wonder if any COG still has a "policy" like that (or if they feel it's needed).

Anonymous said...


AC students, in preparation for the ministry, were taught this by example, policy, perquisites and sermonizing. I have mostly indirect knowledge of what was conveyed in classrooms.

I remember students discussing the fact of their having been specially chosen. A Pasadena graduate told me that he was taught in class that our relative rankings would be preserved in the Kingdom of God with the ministry at the top. I heard HWA one time say, in one of his fits over not enough money being sent in, that not many lay members would be saved, except those in the ministry.

Although I never sat in any classes dealing with the ministry in Big Sandy, my guess is that the Armstrongite ministry did not become arbitrary and imperious independently, without any educational infrastructure. They all seemed to have the same attitude -- to the point of being tiresome. How was this common denominator of behavior achieved?

Denying that ministers occupied a special status and believed that they occupied a special status, is akin to denying the Holocaust.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wasilkoff, he always took the time for me and was gentle, caring and humble.

Douglas Becker said...

I heard HWA one time say, in one of his fits over not enough money being sent in, that not many lay members would be saved, except those in the ministry.

It gives me great pleasure to remind you all about the 1978 sermon on the Last Great Day where Herbert Armstrong said that if he weren't the Apostle, he "wouldn't give a plugged nickel" about his chances for salvation.

Does this admission make him a good minister?

Douglas Becker said...

Of past ministers
Do we remember and now laud,
Evangelists speaking only to the Apostle,
And the Apostle only to God.

Anonymous said...

I think most ministers in the COGs are not approachable. Two who I remember as being very down-to-earth and approachable are Alan Barr and Carlton Greene.

I respected John Rightenbaugh because I thought he was sincere in his beliefs. If he taught something, you could pretty much be sure he was doing it too, not just expecting you to do it while he did whatever he felt like doing, and thinking it was okay because he "was the minister".

Of course you can be approachable, down-to-earth, and sincere and still be dead wrong.

camfinch said...

Anonymous 6:47, yes, it's very interesting how we often have quite different perceptions about the same thing, or different experiences with the same people. My time spent knowing Ray Grubb and Hollis Crotts was mainly in the late '60s into the mid-'70s. As a teenager who, within a short time after beginning to attend with my family when I was fourteen was seen by many in the congregation as on track to go to AC (which I did, of course), I probably got treatment from the members in Greensboro that maybe others didn't. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but it would be interesting to ask others from back then, especially those who were my age. So I don't know how "political" things were in Greensboro then, although after Bob League arrived as pastor in 1974, and hung around until 1981 (I myself stopped attending in late '77), things got VERY political, because with League, everything was based on ministerial authority, being in submission to those above you, etc. And such emphasis ALWAYS makes for organizational power politics, as Douglas Becker so keenly instructs us. I spent a week with the Grubb family in the summer of '68, and was accepted as another family member, and Ray and Ruth Grubb were always friendly to my parents. And I never noticed Hollis Crotts lording it over anyone, but again, I was gone from the Greensboro scene from August '71 until my eventual full-time return in '75, by which time Bob League's ranting sermons had begun to poison the atmoshpere. Hollis Crotts left when GTA was ousted in '78 and formed his own church.

Fyi again, I knew Ray Clore while at AC. We weren't close friends, but Ray always was genuine, open, and friendly. A good guy.

Anonymous said...

I, too, went to school with Ray Clore. Ray was a smart guy. Not only because he was able to take and pass the State Department exams, but also because he deliberately chose a career outside of the paid ministry. He also chose to go to places like Haiti in order to serve people. And now that he's retired (or soon will be?) he has a pension, unlike most of the WCG and other COG ministers, who perhaps thought that being employed by WCG rather than the State Department was the better option.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Some of you seem to have some serious issues! This obsession with the past is just not healthy. Why not seek professional help and learn to move on?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (Previous Post):

That is kind of like telling a Vietnam Vet who has seen a lot of grisly action to "just get over it."

Maybe your experiences have not been so bad. And maybe you don't know that much about what we are talking about.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

Camfinch 2nd post:

You were a good bit older than I was and, as you noted on the AC track (so therefore ultimately useful), so there probably was a different standard applied and perceptions gleaned. I have heard many stories on both sides about the Grubbs both in Greensboro and Fayetteville and usually the experience just depended on where their "ranking" in the local church hierachy was, which goes back to my original post.

My sense, at least from my family who, like me as an adult, were as non-political religiously as they were everywhere else in life (i.e., consistent), was that Greensboro was always a very political church area. It started with Richard Plache and then filtered down through the ministers after him until it reached full maturation under Bob League, whom you described very accurately as a tyrant. I heard pre-"I-saw-the-light" Dan Rogers, who came in after him wasn't a cake walk either in this department.

We actually attended most of the NC church areas and, for the most part, they seemed to have managed to escape the overt politicalness of that Greensboro had, but I suspect that Greensboro, being one of those "mother" churches that for years people from three or four states around went to because it was the closest one to them, had more time to get a well-defined political structure in place and fine-tune it over time.

I would guess the same might be true of the other "founding" church areas, like, oh, Big Sandy...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Wow! Some of you seem to have some serious issues! This obsession with the past is just not healthy. Why not seek professional help and learn to move on?

So, if we talk about the events that led up to the Revolutionary War or any other major era that influenced and defined who we are individually and collectively then we have serious issues and are obsessed with the past and need professional help?

What kind of faulty logic is that? The only way that the past can be put into perspective and the lessons it holds is to analyze it, assess it, and learn from it.

Only in a 1984-ish mindset can anyone say that this activity indicates serious issues, obsession, and requires therapy. Go back and see how much like the Thought Police and Big Brother this sounds as our society has slowly taken on the whole personality of Big Brother and we haven't even noticed.

Steve said...

Dennis: "Steve, you have certainly had one of the more bizzare and lousy experiences I have ever heard of."

Dennis, that was just a tip of the iceberg. The more visible a "layman" was in the "church", the more the shit would hit you in the face, especially if you didn't kiss the "minister's" ass. Actually, these things were mild compared to what many 'laymen" went through. If you think it is all bizarre, then me thinks your head was buried in the sand. Politics were always alive and well because not only were the "ministers" politiking, but many of the "laymen" were bucking for position as well.

Steve K

Anonymous said...

I repeat what I said earlier. There were no good ministers. But I can say there are some good ones now. HWA and GTA are great, they have never been better.

We had Bob League here in Cincinnati also. Many folks hated him.

Steve said...

So, the only good "minister" is a dead "minister"?

Steve K

Steve said...

Anonymous: "Wow! Some of you seem to have some serious issues. This obsession with the past is not healthy."

Maybe God should have left out all the sins and faults of Adam and Eve, David, Solomon, Samuel, Moses, etc.


Anonymous said...

Jim Reyer in 1995 said from the lecturn, that he was unsure of whether he believed in the trinity or not, and it would take a lot more study into it.
I asked an elder after the sermon about this. I was told spies may be in the audience and they were being very careful. I said that it was giving a mixed signal to the brethren and some were in tears afterwards. That plus when Reyer was in Pasadena, it was his job to take a mixed race child and look at them and tell by sight which race they should date. He was very stern and mean spirited about it all then. And Bob League, well---, let's just say as long as you were pasty faced (his sign of good health), you got along with him, but come with a tanned face--LOOKOUT-- , you were going to be on his bad side. His nickname was "Hoser Bob" for his willingness to let all know a high colonic was always in order.

camfinch said...

Anonymous 7:13,

My family started attending in Greensboro during the Roger Foster regime, who, if you're old enough to remember, was a tough authoritarian. He could blister and rail away from the pulpit, far more effectively than Bob League because you could see the fire in Foster's eyes, plus, he didn't just rant away each week as did League, but chose his light-the-fire-under-your-tail sermon times carefully. Within months of our "coming into the church", I had become the church pianist (if that gives you a clue). Then, while Foster was still pastor, I headed out to Pasadena. When I finally returned in '75, Bob League was fully ensconced as dictator-in-chief, assisted by authoritarian-in-the-making, Dan Hall. And so I split (for various reasons) in late '77, never giving them a chance to tell me I was disfellowshipped. I did it to myself!

But this thread is supposed to be about GOOD ministers! :-)

Anonymous said...

Camfinch 10:04,

How could I have missed Roger Foster in the Greensboro list?! I was little, but I remember being terrified of him (he must have been the pastor most of the time we were there) all the way from the American Legion to Guilford High School(?). We moved before Bob League came, but I remember hearing a couple of his sermons at those Y.O.U. weekends and "rant" is a pretty accurate description because I never knew could figure out what the topic was.

And I think I know who you are (or at least your family) and I'm sure you probably would remember us as well. You had a brother and a sister, right? And lived near Asheboro (Ramseur)? If you're who I think you are, your family were some of the "good" guys.

camfinch said...


Yep, I would imagine you've got me pegged. Right on everything. And my family were certainly not part of the politics. And when I did return from Calif. during the League regime, I was again pianist for something over a year, then went back to CA again for a few months, and when I came back then, I was still attending church, but no longer played at church.

Anonymous said...

Through all the years, all the numerous church areas across the states from New York to CA, and all the "pastors" I encountered with my family (who actually abandoned me as a result of WWGC), only Bill Jacobs could be listed as a real-enough human being to follow Christ's instructions about the duties of a minister. Jacobs came to the central coast CA churches in the late '80s and never read, preached or even hinted that he was aware of the political psycho-babble from Pasadena. Every week, Jacobs flirted with disenfranchisement by simply teaching his flock. And he was a superb teacher, who ceaselessly studied to improve his already fine teaching abilities. When I moved (yet again) to Oregon in 1991, Jacobs was transferred to Pasadena for some administrative post. After that, I lost track of Jacobs, who may well have been fired or possibly joined a splinter once he came face-to-face on a daily basis with the glaring, wholesale, multi-billion dollar corruption at HQ. Jacobs, like all of us, was imperfect and would be the first to confess that. As a WWCG minister, he was deceived like all the rest of us. I often ask myself, "Why?" What was that experience good for? I never thought of myself as gullible. But, of course I was. How is God going to use those long, horrible years for good in my life? And when will all the extraordinary sacrifices and hardships and immeasurable losses be restored?


Douglas Becker said...

As one who has frequented mental hospitals over the years to visit a family member, I must say that this discussion sure seems familiar.

Perhaps it would be helpful to cast the Churches of God as an insane asylum with the rank and file members as the mentally ill there for treatment. The ministers could be viewed as staff with the deacons as orderlies, preaching elders as social workers, pastors as nurses, evangelists as psychiatrists with the Apostle being the founder and quite daft himself.

In this wondrous venue, the big difference is that in a mental hospital, patients leave when they get better, but in the churches of God, the patients have to leave to become better. As sad as it is, the staff is as loony as the patients but since they hold the power, they are viewed as the sane ones. Just knowing about the problem doesn't mean you are cured of the problem.

This analogy continues to work well without breaking down, considering that everybody is required to go to group once a week.

One would hope that Dr. Dorothy and Dr. Hoeh had some benefit. Dr. Roderick Meredith, not so much.

The thing is about "good" ministers is that they are part of the problem: People wouldn't be unstable if it weren't for them. But then, the whole environment is dysfunctional, even if it was at one time well funded by public dollars. The chief administrator and founder should have been held to a higher standard of accountability, for sure.

My advice for ex-ministers: Stay on your meds.

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

I would name the following ministers all for the same reasons, they were people who had a big impact in my life, men with a heart, and they were honest in difficult times....

In no particular order:

Earl Roemer
Earl Williams
George Birdwell
Keith Thomas
Don Hildebrand
Jack Kessler
Hilmar Lange (my favorite German)
Francis Bergen

My list of awful ministers would be considerably longer.

Anonymous said...

That is kind of like telling a Vietnam Vet who has seen a lot of grisly action to "just get over it."

You're comparing your years in wcg to Vietnam Vets? No offense intended, but please! Let's not get carried away.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:21pm,

Comparing Vietnam to life in the WCG may not be such a wild comparison.... some of us have been in therapy for years to treat the abuses committed against us by Pasadena.

Anonymous said...

Ray Clore is really a wonderful person. Although I didn't get to spend as much time around him as I would have liked, my impression is that he cared more about people than the organization.

The opposite end of the spectrum would be Philip Shields. In addition to groping and kissing young teenage girls, he also enjoyed SCREAMING into the microphone during every sermon I ever heard him give.

Dr. Kessler I never knew, but I do remember one sermon I heard him give. I was visiting Nashville, TN, one day while Jim Friddle (another Hitler wannabe) was still pastoring, and Dr. Kessler told the story about his capture and internment by German soldiers during World War II. I've never heard an audience so quiet. I would love to have a copy of that sermon.

Anonymous said...

I spent two of my four years in the service , in Vietnam, My experience coupled with almost 30 years in the cog's, makes me able to make that comparison. I had a better time getting over "Nam" than wcg.Best ministers, Those who left error of WCG.

Anonymous said...

Born Right the First Time

Anonymous said...

"I remember students discussing the fact of their having been specially chosen."

That was because usually they were ministers kids and got the best of all treatment.

Anonymous said...

John Dobritch

Great teacher and humanitarian. If only he had come to our area sooner I still would have been married!!

Anonymous said...

I've hesitated to add a comment to this thread, for reasons that Dennis, if no one else, can well understand. But since this thread is still active, I'll share some thoughts.
-It's obvious that there are many ways to be a bad minister, as documented in this thread.
-One way that hasn't been mentioned yet: to aim to be on everyone's list of good ministers. There are times when being unpopular is the price for doing what is right.
-Even good ministers aren't good enough. You counsel a dozen people appropriately, then you do one where you didn't listen well, misjudged the situation, and needlessly offended.
-So what makes a good minister? In addition to qualities mentioned so far, I would add, the ability to listen, including listening to criticism. Being able to admit it when wrong, and to say (and be) sorry. Because no matter how good a minister is (and even in dysfunctional systems with inadequate training like the CoGs, there are good ones), there are times when you just blow it.

Anonymous said...


I know exactly who you are and I remember you and your family fondly. If I gave you just one clue, you'd know my family and me as well, but I'd also give up my anonymous status, and being, the complete opposite of Dennis, a consistent (why is it that you have to take the Meyers-Briggs test every time you apply to a school for a post-graduate program?) INTJ, I'd rather remain anonymous with the freedom to speak or not if I choose.

BTW, Dennis, I think you're right on the money with this statement:

I'll stand by my oft quoted feeling that somehow we are conscious spirits, trapped in a limited five sensed carbon based wetsuit attending Earth School. What comes of it, I don't yet know.

Douglas Becker said...

I repeat:

It is impossible to be competent in a dysfunctional environment.

The church of God was, and is, an insane asylum. To actually be a "good" minister is irrelevant because at the very top of form, the end result is incompetence. If you were compassionate and merciful, you were not following the party line and not being the "Corporate Man". If you did follow the party line, you would be harsh, hard and cruel, but providing the basis for the cash machine to fuel the lusts, improprieties and profligate lifestyles of the rich and very famous [in the venue] to take their trips and continue their dalliances in style and comfort. Not to put too fine a point on it, the ministry was part of the whole support mechanism to provide GTA with coeds to seduce, among other things.

How can anyone win at that?

There is One Agreement everyone should have followed:

When a minister of any rank committed improprieties, the congregation should put them out permanently.

There is a small megachurch near here with a senior pastor whose youth minister committed adultery with one of the members of the church. The senior pastor then did the Scriptural thing and put the youth minister out of the church and denied him ministerial position for four years. The senior pastor then had to explain to the congregation why he did it, because the youth minister was very popular and the decision of the senior pastor was very unpopular. It made for an interesting sermon, but the senior pastor made it stick with his congregation.

In 20/20 hindsight, adhering to the Scriptural framework of the qualifications of the ministry could have gone a long way to preventing the problems in the first place. If GTA and Herbert Armstrong were put out of the church for their improprieties, you can rest assured that the landscape would have been far different. As it was, the congregation, for whatever reason, abandoned its responsibility to police the church as outlined in the epistles of Paul and reinforced by the epistles of Peter, and paid dearly for the neglect of duties.

If people are going to claim to adhere to Biblical principles, then abide by them, or else expect lots of trouble with the Hobb's choice of untenable options.

Douglas Becker said...

As we continue to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic with this thread, let us consider a "good" minister in terms of competency.

By definition, a minister would be one who assists and affirms members to enable them to enter into the Kingdom of God. Anything less is incompetence. How good they made you feel might be a plus: They are, after all, supposed to be "helpers of our joy". Nevertheless, and however, the criteria for measurement lies is being able to give account for those of the flock who are in their charge.

Perhaps another look at just which "good" ministers there have been can be made in this light.

Just who among the ministry has gotten us closer to understanding God, the Father, and to entering into the Kingdom of God?

Burt said...

In around twenty-two years associated with WCG there were three I would classify as good ministers. Just three out of how many? Very many.

These three were: Jim Turner (primarily as second-banana in Waco); Bob Bertuzzi (in Orlando-- please excuse if spelling is wrong); and Ray Meyer (during a very short stint in Houston and later in Kansas City).


Douglas Becker said... there any chance you were also an enabling member to others and thus a contributor to this giant conspiracy of evil you are letting eat you alive...?

I regret every dollar to the giant conspiracy of evil but I did it in abject ignorance and as one who was virtually kidnapped into the cult at the age of 17.

As far as being an enabling member, since none of us had any power and I was personally treated in the church of gods the same way you treat me here, I probably could have had no impact whatsoever. The postings about conscientious objectors, of which I am one, confirm that I was in a bad, dangerous situation, which eventually killed my brother.

This is rather quite fun as a diversion.

I'm not letting any of this eat me alive, but I'm letting it eat you alive.

Anonymous said...


Lucky you class yourself an extravert. An associate pastor in Wichita, Kansas once explained to us that he felt that only extraverts could really be saved. His reasoning was that extraverts radiated an outgoing energy and that energy only needed to be channeled in the right directions to produce the works necessary for salvation. Whereas an introvert radiated nothing so you really had nothing to work with, hence, no salavation.

I don't recall the guy's name. One of our vaunted AC grads. He was thirty-ish.

I cringe to think of the untold pscyhological and emotional damage perpetrated by the "pastors" on the flock.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

"By definition, a minister would be one who assists and affirms members to enable them to enter into the Kingdom of God. Anything less is incompetence."

I knew some good ministers, in the humane decent person sense; however, if I use Douglas’ gauge, then none of them qualified as a “good minister.” One cannot teach that salvation and the Kingdom of God comes through human efforts and works of the law (and all the rest of Armstrongism) and be a good shepherd. By Biblical definition these are wolves. I certainly don’t like to think of them in that way, but it really doesn’t matter what I think. The good news is that God would have all men be saved and His will shall be done.

Burt said...

Woops. A bit ago I was concentrating so much picking a few grains of wheat from a lot of chaff that that I failed to include the man I had at the top of this short list. Thus, I must up the number to four.

John Ogwyn is the one I neglected to include. My wife and I considered John and his wife friends for a number of years. While we were never a part of a congregation he headed, we trusted him and his counsel served us well.

While we never understood his loyalty to Meredith, twice when he came to town we attended Living services just to hear him and visit a bit.


Anonymous said...

Ministers are just human beings like the rest of us.

No one can measure up to another persons 'yard' stick of spirituallity.

Those who have posted about "good" ministers, I could counter with some antidotes about how those same men failed in various ways and did hurt some members because of those failings. I knew most of the ones mentioned having been in the church almost 50 years and living in different areas.

They weren't perfect.
They were human.
They had some good points.
They had some bad points.

We all react differently in even the same situation.

We all tend to hear a sermon differently too.

We see through our own eyes and thoughts. We don't see clearly enough to judge anothers motive at any given time.

We all have bad days when it would be best not to make any important decisions. Ministers were and are no different.

Too many, started out as AC grads who knew nothing about life.

That was the main problem with ordaining in WWCG. They went against the Bible by ordaining novices.

An AC grad was too young, too inexperienced and some too full of themselves.

Many had only the example of their teachers and the top honcho's to know how to act.

Some were treated as servants when sent out as ministerial trainees and so that's how they treated others when they were ordained.

But if one is a Christian then it's time to be Christ like and look to Him and move on and let Christ lead us and not get hung up over what men have done.

What's done is done.

I've learned that holding on to anger hurts me, not the other person.

I've also been around long enough to see that there is a certain amount of truth in 'karma'.

A truly mean spirited minister who is only out for self, will pay for that.

We may not see it, but he will feel it and hopefully will repent and ask forgiveness.

That's between him and God.

Another Anon poster

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

The "wheel-o-karma" is indeed something to watch when it rolls around. What comes around goes around.

I'm almost convinced karma is some divine form of retribution until I see the rain pour down on the just and the unjust. (Or did the parable teller think of rain as a bad thing?)

I kind of think, if you live long enough, you're bound to get what you dish out. Maybe its just our pattern seeking minds that sees karma in all the craziness? We crave order. We crave justice. We don't often get either.

Evil finds its most comfy home in the inhuman bureaucratic machine. It took a Hitler to dream up Mein Komp, it took an SS to carry it out. Evil is uncomfortably banal.

Steve said...

Listen to yourselves. Let's make excuses about why the "ministers" abused the POWER that we gave them. They were assholes, pure and simple. We should have decked them and gave them a good kick in the ass. We are the ones who kept that Catholic doctrine(ministers, deacons, deaconesses) alive and well by staying there and putting up with the abuse. Many still do today because they are too weak and afraid to think for themselves. We were no different from the Germans who gave Hitler free reign to murder 6 million Jews...and I mean NO different. It's the same mentality.

Steve K

Anonymous said...

Douglas said:
"By definition, a minister would be one who assists and affirms members to enable them to enter into the Kingdom of God. Anything less is incompetence."

Dennis responded:
"No one can meet this definition and turn out not to be incompetent."

It's not either/or. Sure, everyone is somewhere on the spectrum, just as I am somewhere on the spectrum (depending on the day) of ideally meeting MY job description. You're not incompetent just because you're human and imperfect. However, if you NEVER meet the job requirements, or do so so seldom as to be substantially ineffective, then yes, you are incompetent and should find another line of work.

jorgheinz said...

Let's face it, Worldwide was a PIT of VIPERS.

It came complete with its own FIFTH COLUMN,bitches and bastards.

A wonderful array of righteousness,compassion,humility,
tolerance and beneficence.

And I am not even beginning to get cynical.



Anonymous said...

Someone said the ministers were just human. That's just the problem. They were human.
Christ said, search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life.
And you will not come to me. I am come in my Father's name and you receive me not. If another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. So we received a bunch of lying ministers, but not Christ, the true shepherd. The good shepherd. So we all got screwed.

Anonymous said...

If you would, go to all of John Ogwyn's articles he wrote, and then check out the sourcework and see if you can figure out where he is coming from. It is a real headscratcher , but in line with RCM, Ames,and Winnail . It is such a shame that they could not just go with the truth instead of fables.
jim hamby

Anonymous said...

Winnail was a decent guy, although he often had difficulty processing information correctly, no matter how clearly a member thought they presented facts or circumstances. That aside, he was never malicious, nor was he a liar. He had a kind heart, which is perhaps why its easier to overlook the shortcomings.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Becker wrote:
>>>In 20/20 hindsight, adhering to the Scriptural framework of the qualifications of the ministry could have gone a long way to preventing the problems in the first place. If GTA and Herbert Armstrong were put out of the church for their improprieties, you can rest assured that the landscape would have been far different.<<<

I beg to differ. The people would have followed herb and his adulterous son Garner out of the church and into a new corporate entity. Herbie would blame it on Satan and the membership that demanded his expulsion. Then the apostate apostle would start a "New Work" with all the bells and whistles the "old work" had except for the fact that herbie was just given new revelations from God!

Think Rod Meredith. He bankrupts Global, dead beating the membership out of loaned money, just to keep his miserable ship afloat! Then the Rod goes to a bank and tries to withdraw a large sum of money out of Globals war chest. Global that put him out of the church! Criminal behavior!

Like herbie who had $$$ sent to him in Arizona in order to thwart the receivership that the state of California had ordered on the wcg, Rod tried the same horses shit game!

No Douglas, these “Churches of God” are not of God, but of “pious organized crime.” This scam will continue until the time that society is damaged so severely by it, that laws will be in place to protect the citizens from the vultures of “pious organized crime.”

Just think of what the Taliban did to Afghanistan. That is happening here in America.
The fundamentalist IS criminal!


Anonymous said...

Steve wrote>>> We are the ones who kept that Catholic doctrine(ministers, deacons, deaconesses) alive and well by staying there and putting up with the abuse. Many still do today because they are too weak and afraid to think for themselves. We were no different from the Germans who gave Hitler free reign to murder 6 million Jews...and I mean NO different. It's the same mentality.

I agree Steve, thank you!

Growing up in the wcg had the effect Herbert wanted it to. Visit the link:

"The years of disaster have enmeshed all of us in guilt deeply enough, as it is, and the task of the day is to find bridges that will lead us to deeper insight."
(Mitscherlich and Mielke, 1947, p.151) Hitler's Unwanted Children

Growing up or joining the wcg made all of us bastard to the world in which we attempted to re-join after leaving this dysfunctional group. But we have company. This link may make more sense to our children in who we feed the lies and errancy to:


Anonymous said...

To FWH, many comments up -- Bill Jacobs bolted to UCG in 1995. Then he left United with Jim O'Brien in the "NT Evangelism" split earlier in this decade. That group doesn't seem to have taken off at all.

Anonymous said...

I personally like Dennis’s four agreements and hope he incorporates them as a revealing theme towards the end of his book. Although they may not be perfect as theology, it does show the present end to his path in this drama.

Other people have, obviously, other end points they are currently at. From what I have seen, there are some fairly decent reasons to hold a grudge—and in some places hurt so deep that it is beyond a reasonable person’s capacity for forgiveness.

Despite the out-croppings of good people and better intentions, most of Armstrongism’s history is a slow motion disaster, complete with slow motion flying literal and spiritual corpses and seemingly solely a profit motive as its cause for being.

One can cast a very dubious eye on the rational actor who chances upon a radio show and needs to know more. And more and more there is, the more questions you ask. As Gavin has stated, Armstrong was the man with all the answers. Was there a part of life Armstrong didn’t cover, a fashionable cause he failed to have a take on? An opinion about everything! Our spiritual adventurer is, at best, a victim of mis-advertising and at worst a luddite, more than willing to truck off this life he has so clearly lost in for a new way in which he can somehow truly become first and lord over others, if only in his fantasy life, if only above others who have failed to make the same sacrifices of Spartan money and long road trips in bad cars.

These people, one could say, got what they deserved. Unfortunately, they dragged a lot of others involuntarily with them—mostly family relations. Although the quaint teachings of Armstrongism have long since failed to have any relevance whatsoever to any reality even the most creative can manifest, the ill will, recriminations, lost opportunities and mortal sins implemented in its name will continue to devastate for as long as some of these people live.

There is no replacement for a family who won’t speak to you or a dead loved one. Some things you don’t get over. Some things hurt as much the millionth time you think of them as they did the first. That this was done in the name of religion, the comforter of the bewildered, the salve to the hurt and the weak, makes it more disgusting still.

And all of it for lousy, stinking money.

--Mark Lax

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how some people see the same WCG ministers in very different lights.
I suppose that's a function of a few things, some of which come to mind:
1) Different people's various takes on what "the truth" is or isn't.
2) Different situational dealings people have had with various WCG ministers.
3) The different times in life that we have known these various WCG ministers. People change, over time.

Another thing I've thought about as a result of reading this topic here, is the different views as to how the ministry was taught to consider themselves. Dennis took issue with the statement that ministers were taught that they "would occupy a higher rank throughout eternity", and mentioned that those in his group were told that they were the "cream of the crud".

I get the idea that this curious double message was also one that the lay members were fed, in a way.
One the one hand, we were taught that our basic essence was quite horrid. On the other, we were "chosen ones", who would rule the world someday.

I see this as nothing but a cult tactic, designed to control people, by both subverting a healthy sense of self-efficacy and inculcating delusions of grandeur.
It makes it hard to leave a cult when you both believe you are crap at the core, but that if you give up on the cult's teachings, you will probably end up in the Lake of Fire, and miss out on being among those who will rule the world.
(Not to mention possibly becoming demon-infested if we were to stop believing "The Truth"!)

Let's see, what do I want....
Lake of Fire, or Rule the World...
Lake of Fire, or Rule the World...
Lake of Fire, or Rule the World...

But I digress.

Back to the question Gavin asked.
I remember a pastor named Mike Swagerty, who I liked. Not that I had much personal contact with him, but I did observe a humility in him that was glaringly lacking in so many others.
Mike Swagerty also held my interest when he spoke, too(hardly anyone else did). He seemed a genuinely kind and compassionate man, to me.

Mike Swagerty

Lol, just kidding. I'm not him. I did google him and see that he is still with the WCG and leads their Sacramento congregation, I believe.


Anonymous said...

One reason Mike's sermons were so good was he had something meaningful to say.

And he could say it in a shorter period of time than most ministers.

anon poster

Steve said...

Mel said, "...The different times in life that we have known these various WCG ministers. People change, over time."

I beg to differ. The despots who were in WCG for years moved to UCG, LCG, and various other splinter whore groups, and were never any different than they were in the WCG. The leopard's spots don't go away. I've NEVER seen a changed "minister, except change for the worse, and I've been around for many years.

Steve K

Anonymous said...

The fact that there is over 100 comments on this thread and not many mentions of 'good' ministers speaks volumes.

Not to defend the indefensible but I would guess that a good many of the ministers, both good and bad, were as duped as the rest of us.

Someone made the point that many A/C grads were far too young for the responsibility of pastorship. True enough, however young age is not exclusive of good leadership. When I was a young rifleman in the Marines, I had many good officers and noncoms that were only in their early to mid twenties...The difference was probably that the military has a much better process for getting rid of those who don't measure up.

Anonymous said...

"The fact that there is over 100 comments on this thread and not many mentions of 'good' ministers speaks volumes."

More about the people commenting caught in a cycle self pitying therapy

Anonymous said...

As a teenager, I heard the World Tomorrow, subscribed to the PT, did the Correspondence Course, got some booklets and coworker letters, then invited a minister over for a personal visit to find out more about it in 1972, when I was only 16 years old. How naive and stupid I must have have been! Wolves looking for fresh meat for the WCG grinder. The average age survey shed some light on the cult recruiting methods Armstrong used. The tactics worked well on many idealistic young people, so I can say I had some excellent company, Gavin.

A constantly smiling. right out of AC ministerial trainee in his early twenties, single, pulled up in his late model sedan in front of my parent’s home. He introduced himself, then requested the door be closed so my parents wouldn’t hear our conversation. Amongst other things, he wanted to know if I smoked and a few other unmemorable details, then invited me to services the following Saturday. He told me I didn’t even have to drive myself there; as he probably could arrange for a member who lived nearby to give me a ride back and forth. How conveenient! A member of God’s True Church lived nearby. How lucky can a chap get? I didn’t realize it, but I had just been kidnapped into a cult! Which is why they didn't want me driving alone to services, thinking for myself. Why leave that to chance? My parents were Christians, and had little knowledge of the WCG or how cults operate in general. Reluctantly, they agreed to this shocking (for them) ride sharing arrangement for me to attend Sabbath services.

After this one initial contact, this AC ministerial trainee had basically kidnapped and dumped me into the WCG gulag. It was against the wishes of my parents, who he should have at least consulted. He never took the initiative to personally phone or contact me or my parents again to inquire about how things were going. Nor did he ask if could he help me out in any way, explain things, answer any questions or concerns. Many of the youth I subsequently met at services, literally suffering and abused under Armstrongism for many years, must have thought I was nuts for wanting to attend the WCG! I probably was. At least the teens told me they respected my decision. Learning the WCG Talmud one detail at a time, about unclean meats, having the best Feast ever, how to observe a peaceful Christmas, birthdays, and holy days with family members were issues rolling just around the corner.

B.H. wasn't a good minister. There were no good ministers.

Anonymous said...

Garner ted Armstrong.

Anonymous said...

I would like to enroll Dennis Diehl as one of the good guys. I liked him as a very friendly minister, and his sermons seemed to make us laugh and smile, so what that he told me once that he did not feel comfortable sermonising about prophecy (which seemed odd to me at the time, I liked him anyway because he seemed to be a member of the human race that I could relate to and approach). I lived in NK, Ohio in 1978-80. He was the minister for my wedding and baptized my wife. Thanks for the memories!, I appreciate him taking the time to share his thoughts on this forum. It's helped me alot to deal with the whole WCG, Global & LCG experience (for me mostly good but lately alot of baaaaad!! It's like being on one of those Disney rides where the doors open up and you go in the cave like thing and you are sitting in an open carriage that's on rails and you slowly snake through and at first it was alot of fun headin for the Kingdom. LOOK! on the stage it's HWA! He's smiling at us, he's Thundering at us! It's for our own good and actually I "didn't get it". Then he died,the end must be near! Then there was Joe he's smiling at us, nice man.Then he died.Another Joe.Then there was Rod, he's smiling at us, and after that we got treated to the real freak show aaannnd the torture room,lots of mental vomiting and more freak show stuff and it seemed like it just wouldn't end. THEN! the exit doors slam open and I squint in the bright sunlight birds are chirping and I'm out of that hellhole and never gonna git on that ride again. Take Care,Dennis.
from Jack Tremble

Anonymous said...

I realize you are looking primarily for comments on local ministers; however, the name of Garner Ted Armstrong deserves at least a mention in reply to your question.
It was the ministry of GTA that brought the Worldwide Church of God to the place of prominance it once enjoyed; and I have no doubt the foolishness of GTA had much to do with its eventual downfall.
God did a wonderful work through the ministry of Garner Ted Armstrong but no one should ever mistake his preaching for the perfect truths of God. He did the work of a warner; and introduced his understanding of God's truths to many hundreds of thousands. But from that point on it was up to each of us as individuals to "search the Scriptures, whether these things were so."
If from his preaching we accepted some error as truth, will we be able to blame it on his teaching? When we are asked to give an account of the spiritual failures of our lifetime will we be able to say: "Garner Ted told me and I believed him"?
Try picturing in your mind standing before our Saviour on the day of His return using the flaws and failures of GTA as your excuse; I can't even bring myself to wish you 'good luck' when you do.
I have in my files more than 100 of his old sermons and when I get sick and frustrated listening to the milksop crap being fed to us by the ministers of the many different and differing end-time Churches of God I go back to listening to the old GTA sermons.
No matter how many times I hear the same sermon something I missed before will come to my attention. Occasionally I wonder how he could have accepted an understanding that was so obviously wrong. At other times I wonder why I didn't understand what he was telling me more perfectly -- and every time I appreciate and enjoy his presentation.
At other times I want nothing more than to reach into the computer to grab him and give him a good shaking. He, (and his father before him) had a tendency towards using ridicule and bombast when disagreed with others; their ridicule of those whose looks, or actions, or beliefs opposed their own was somthing less than the compassion each of are supposed to have as God's children.
Then again, Garner Ted would be the first to laugh at any suggestion that he, the man, was in any way perfect before God. He had many flaws; and what's more he knew it!
I suggest to those who would harbour any animosity towards GTA (the man) you consider the one who will reign directly unders Our Lord in the Kingdom.
David, king of Israel, also had his flaws; but you'd do well to get over any animosity you may have towards having him as your king.

brave anonymous poster said...

"...but no one should ever mistake his preaching for the perfect truths of God. He did the work of a warner; and introduced his understanding of God's truths to many hundreds of thousands. But from that point on it was up to each of us as individuals to "search the Scriptures, whether these things were so." "


if people would work out their own salvation with fear and trembling they wouldn't be so easily damaged by the shortcomings of Church leadership......and, they wouldn't have so many excuses for dropping out all together. ;-)

when God is our focus we aren't easily discouraged by the actions of others....but if our faith is in the man, then we are wasting out time.

Anonymous said...

fear and trembling.


If God loves me...and I believe he does, what do I have to fear?

Anonymous said...

To Voicelost:

To begin with, The World Tomorrow was NOT a biblical work of God. It was/is a CULT! A bombastic prophetic loudmouth's cult so full so sure of himself and his prophecies, then grandfatherly con man!

Con man HWA deserved to spend most of his World Tomorrow incarcerated in Fulsom Prison in a orange jumpsuit busting rocks after having relations with his daugher Dorothy! - or at the very least as a registered sex offender. He could then try to fly around the world visiting dictators on his own dime instead of on conned tithes stolen from the poverty stricken members.

Same thing for GTA who used his positional authority as a minister and school administrator to force relations on coeds at the Ambassador whorehouse of school of understanding.

GTA didn't do "the work of a warner", either. The one thing he should have been warning about would be to stay as much away from him, his incestous psychopathic father, Ambassador, and the WWCG as far as possible!

Your should have "searched the scriptures" blame the victim mentality is way off the mark explaining how the WCG worked. IT WAS AN AUTHORITY CULT! The Armstrongs were the unchallenged AUTHORITY on everything inside and out of the Bible! Just like their highly trained bastard ministers. It didn't matter if you read the Bible upside down, backwards and sideways, Armstrong beliefs are plainly the result of a personality cult of a true PSYCHOPATH - HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG!

Anonymous said...

I think I've stumbled onto the "Who can I blame for my own personal dysfunction?" blog.

Anonymous said...

ummm, fear meant "revere" in 1611

Anonymous said...

I'd nominate Howard Clark as one of the few ministers I knew at "headquarters" in Pasadena who was approachable, kind, friendly and honest. There were actually several, believe it or not, but he in particular stood out. I left in 1974 after 17 years in WCG and He and his family were some of the finest people you could hope to know.I recall our last Feast in Squaw Valley where my wife and I talked into the wee hours of the morning at the Clark's lodging over the impending fate of the disintegrating WCG.

Once we left WCG, we never looked back. I don't decry the experience, we lived and LEARNED. I was terminated by GTA - it was the best thing that could have happened. I see that clearly now, but at the time it was very traumatic and took about two years to get 're-oriented'.

The awful experiences so many had we avoided by simply staying to ourselves as much as possible and being friendly but 'cautious'. We learned very early who to avoid and who you could relax around. There were plenty of back-stabbers in the highly volatile atmosphere in Pasadena but you didn't have to be a psychic to recognize them. When I origianlly entered AC I maintained an attitude of 'prove All things'. That could get you in trouble with the heirarchy but it keeps you open to the Truth. I continue that approach to this day.

HSC 'not H Clark'

Anonymous said...

JOHN MOSKEL. One of the kindest, most thoughtful, easy going, calmest ministers in or out of WCG.

I remember him being yelled at by a young guy who was having marriage problems. I mean the guy was spitting in his face and swearing black and blue. John just calmly listened, and when the guy had finished, asked if there was anything he could do to help.

His wife always said that she could fix cold noodles for him to eat and he would be grateful and give her a compliment on how nice they tasted. What a guy!

camfinch said...

Anonymous 12:06, I was a dorm mate of John Moskel's back in '71-'72, and your portrait of him is 100% in line with what he was like when I knew him. I haven't seen him basically since the mid-1970s, but have had reports about him from people who were under his pastorates, and everyone genuinely loved John. Indeed, he would be one about whom it would be nearly impossible for me to envision having gone over to the "dark side" of power-complex ministry. Good to know that a truly wonderful human being remained so all through the years. John, if you're out there somewhere reading this site, here's a fond hello from an old buddy from first floor Manor Del Mar, so many years ago.

Anonymous said...

Agree with John Moskel as just a decent human being, as was his wife, Jolie. When they were in Jacksonville/Wilmington, NC, they brought with them a humble and genuine, down-to-earth humor and rare thoughtfulness and intelligence that made us love them.

Anonymous said...

Now that L. McCulluough and C. Kilouh were seen looking at land in Dallas to buy for a new headquarters and college for the United Church, their members in Texas will likely be excited to have the United HQ in their state.

Anonymous said...

We were asked to lay aside negative and post who were in the ministry that we believe truly sought to act Christ-like as shepherds. There are men who I had the pleasure of coming to know as personal DEAR Friends, that WALKED the best they knew...being positive, humble exmaples: Art Braidic, Dennis Fischer, Bob Fergen (who passed in 12/06 without my even knowing he was ill..I will deeply this this man), Terrance Graves, Camillo Reyes, Andy Burnett. I don't know if I forgot anyone? Yet these men were "True Gentleman", in my own experience.

Anonymous said...

I just posted, and I knew I would probably forget someone, ugh! John Cafourek counseled me, and with a real heart.

And since I don't have blog thing, I wish it be known that these heartfelt comments about Art, Dennis, Bob, Terrance, Camillo, Andy, and John; are from Ned Meacham. Anyone who knows these men, I would appreciate hearing you share your POSITIVE experiences in knowing them. NO negative thoughts please....there's too much of that out in COG-land.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Roderick Meredith was obviously one of the best ministers in God's eyes. He is now in charge of the ONLY church that Jesus Christ is leading.
Pray that you will know what church Jesus Christ is leading in this end time and you will be moved to join the Living Church of God. Do you want to hold on to what you want to believe or do you want to know the truth? Pray sincerely to know which church you should be attending!

Colyr said...

Marc Masterson was my minister before he went to New York, here in WV. I was going through hell in school, being skinny and religious in a southern town, you can imagine what everyone called me. The only 2 places I felt safe were the church and home. One night during a YOU meeting, Marc Masterson gave a little speech about what a man should look like. Not skinny, not me. Everyone in the group was looking at me, including him. One guy even reached up and grabbed my arm just to be sure I was aware I was skinny. "Homosexuals are skinny, and feminine." said Marc Masterson. I lost a safe place that night. I almost lost my life as well, it was the first time I tried suicide. Marc Masterson wasn't a good guy here. He was arrogant. He treated me like crap, and almost killed me. Can you imagine the humiliation, the pain a 14 year old has to feel to try to kill themselves? He caused that kind of pain, and that was the last time I went to church.

Colyr said...

BTW he replaced Charles Crane (Crain?) because Crane was having an affair with a member of the church. She was married to one of the deacons. Best ministers? I guess I don't know any. I did learn of God, and to always search for truth. I learned that from my father, who I believe was inspired by God. He seen what was happening in the church long before everything went to hell, and left soon after I did.

Anonymous said...

In Canada, Terry Johnson (pastor of Kitchener, Ontario) church in the late 70s and 80s...did not seem to be an asshole. His wife was really easy to talk to....whatever happened to him

Anonymous said...

Wow! I guess I would have to say...I never met a preacher I wouldn't like to see go down in flames. They (WCG, HWA, GTA and all of their authorized mouthpieces) threatened me all of my formative years (birth to 14)with burning in eternal flames so I figure back at you! All of the false, lying, abusive, pedophilic, sick twisted, sadistic, fear instilling bastards.