Letters from our readers

Time to subscribe

I am one of your old subscribers from the days when everything hit the fan and have been a member of the church since 1971, attending UCG since it started. The time has come for me to subscribe to THE JOURNAL again because we see several problems cropping up as we did within the WCG. So please start my subscription again with the July issue (send me a copy, please) and run it for two years.

John Dickson

Hedley, Texas

In memoriam

As I'm sure you all have heard, Garner Ted Armstrong died yesterday afternoon [Sept. 15] in Tyler, Texas.

I first met Garner Ted Armstrong when I was 16 years old. He came to speak in Greensboro, N.C., a few months after his father had died. At the time I had not even begun attending WCG (that was another two years away).

When I served as news editor of The Portfolio at Ambassador University in Big Sandy, I helped put together a farewell magazine edition on the history of Ambassador. [AU closed after the graduation ceremonies of 1997.]

I felt it only proper to include Mr. Armstrong, as a member of Ambassador's founding family, in the planning process.

Another AU student and I drove down to Tyler one morning in the spring of 1997 and interviewed Mr. Armstrong about the early days of the campus. This was probably the first time in many years that "good standing" AU students or WCG members had sought him out.

As he reminisced about days gone by, darted around his office locating various mementos from his own college days and shared fond memories of his dad, I somehow think that it might have been a healing experience for him.

Before we left, I gave him one of the new Ambassador Club lapel pins that had been produced that year. He truly seemed touched.

I saw Mr. Armstrong again in the spring of 1999, when he spoke in Fayetteville, N.C. I had to make him feel welcome in "Tarheel country" by giving him a UNC ball cap (I encouraged him to wear it on a fishing trip).

The last time I saw Mr. Armstrong was in April 2002. He came to speak in Durham, and I had him sign my original 1977 hardback edition of The Real Jesus (he had signed a paperback edition in 1986).

I had planned to see him again this past spring when he spoke in Cary. At the last minute I made the decision to visit friends on the opposite end of the state. Somehow I had the feeling deep down that I had just walked away from my last opportunity to see him.

There were many things that I did not see eye to eye with him on. Nevertheless, he was a connection to my past, to the faith and spiritual heritage that has made me who and what I am and all that I hope to be.

God bless you, Garner Ted. May you rest in peace until the trumpet calls.

John Brian Heath

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Passing of an era

Say what you will about GTA, but most of the most judgmental against him can probably trace their roots in the church back to some of his work.

Come to think about it, I "came into the truth" by listening to Herbert Armstrong on WOAI, San Antonio, in 1978-79. Why was the WCG able to run old radio tapes of HWA then? Because Garner Ted Armstrong had built the work up to those many radio stations before the coup. So you could say he had a hand in that work even after being deposed.

Of course, his work to the degree it was blessed by God met with success and was not of GTA's efforts alone.

While I was one of his biggest critics among our little group at the time of his stint at the Church of God International, I am saddened by the passing of an era.

To paraphrase the words of Richard Nixon, "you won't have the Armstrongs to kick around anymore."

William Robin Wansley

Laurel, Miss.

Reflections unbidden

With GTA's death, the reflections come unbidden. One such thought: What will happen to his church now?

I was saddened to learn of his death; the news made me think back to many of the positives I remember about his public role from my early days in the church.

His departure reminds us that the senior generation of our era is dying off. Will we learn from their mistakes to be more cautious about proclaiming prophetic fulfillments, among so many other things?

On another level, his death for me reinforces the importance for all Christians not to look to any individual as a "chosen one." Our fellow human beings can help us, guide us, encourage us and teach us, but none of them should ever take the place of the One who alone is perfect.

I hope that all religious leaders and organizations can understand that their responsibility is to promote the growth and independence of every single member, to teach him to be able to stand firmly on his own two feet.

Of course we need others, but not in a dependency model. Spiritual maturity cannot be achieved in any other way.

Reg Killingley

Big Sandy, Texas

In remembrance of GTA

Once your thoughts were just sounds of silence

Until your father's prayers were anmswered

In a way that has not happened since.

When God anointed your lips to speak His Word

Millions heard His message and heard yours.

Some couldn't tell your voices apart.

You spoke of prophecy, and obeying God's Laws,

Of freedom from sin that binds the human heart.

Your father passed his mantle to you.

Many forget. Though it was from you ripped,

You stayed closer to his teaching, compared to

Most who claim to, and all who've tripped.

You were two witnesses; the song you sang

Was about God's Kingdom to come.

Apostle Peter said: Since the world began,

That same message, all God's prophets drum,

Two witnesses, two olive trees, and

(Though you disagreed about Church Eras)

If you represent Revelation 11's two Lampstands,

Father and son have some unfinished business.

Will an angel yet say, "Rise, and measure

The Temple of God, and the altar

And them that worship therein"? Will a resurrection of two Strong Arms raise the Midnight Cry?

Or will those prophets be two other?

Geoffrey R. Neilson

Fish Hoek, South Africa

Good-bye, Ted

Just a letter to say how shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Garner Ted Armstrong.

He was my wife's and my "father in the faith." We first heard him on the so-called pirate radio stations in spring 1965. We had our first Plain Truth June 1965; I was 18 years old.

I was privileged to meet him and shake his hand at Ambassador College in 1969.

His broadcasts and articles were always great. In spite of any trouble along life's highways (none of us is exempt; 1 Kings 8:46; 1 John 1:7-10), in my mind he was a great man and would not hesitate in saying the words of 2 Samuel 1:17-27: "How are the mighty fallen."

Good-bye for now, Ted. See you later, when it will be an honor to shake your hand again--God willing, and I'm sure He is!

Jim and Barbara Edwards

Banbury, England

Church history

The one single action that affected everyone's life in the Worldwide Church of God, that changed the course of their history, was Herbert Armstrong sending his son Garner Ted, now deceased, away in 1978. No one with any connection to the Worldwide Church of God was unaffected by that irrational and almost incomprehensible event.

Gary Vance

Tulsa, Okla.

GTA's passing

I just heard about GTA's passing. I had no idea he was in failing health.

Steve Tremble

Claremore, Okla.

Larger than life

I saw a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright in which his grandson described what it was like seeing Frank dead in the hospital.

He spoke of FLW as domineering, egocentric and totally selfish, an absolute [rascal] who made his life miserable, but he could somehow not help but have a soft spot for him. He said the man who was larger than life suddenly seemed small and insignificant in death. He cried.

I know how he felt.

Scott Murphey

Arlington, Texas

The WCG doesn't exclude

I wish I could have a long leisurely meal with Ms. Anne Hanna [see "Christian Anti-Semitism Advances in WCG," THE JOURNAL, July 31]. I've read her article over and over and over, and I get the feeling that Ms. Hanna thinks that the Worldwide Church of God is anti-Semitic or is being led in that direction.

As I see it, we are only pro-Christianity, which is for all people, whereas Judaism was inclusive for Jews but exclusive of everyone else.

I wish Ms. Hanna would read Romans 10-12. She would see that Israel is still God's people and it is only by grace that all mankind can be saved. The only thing the WCG is anti is Satan. Thanks for THE JOURNAL.

Jim Perry

Via the Internet

No longer a need

I was interested in reading Bill Stough's article reporting that the leader of the WCG is calling for eliminating the seventh-day Sabbath, Old Testament dietary laws and traditional dates for the yearly autumn festival ["Pastor General Says 'Jewish' Trappings Harmful to Christianity, WCG Must Drop Sabbath, Feasts," THE JOURNAL, July 31].

In 1995 most of the local San Francisco and Oakland congregation people were not in agreement with the doctrinal changes mandated by Joseph Tkach Sr. and his leadership group. They sent evangelist Jimmy Friddle to sway our groups to go along with the WCG's new doctrines.

During his Bible studies Mr. Friddle repeatedly swore that the WCG would never switch from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday. Other congregations were told the same thing by WCG evangelists.

Soon Mr. Tkach made it optional to observe either the Saturday or Sunday Sabbath.

And now the junior Mr. Tkach is calling for all WCG congregations to observe the Sabbath only on Sunday.

The WCG leadership is now breaking two Commandments: observance of the seventh-day Sabbath and the commitment of a falsehood.

I wonder what will happen to the WCG after all its property has been liquidated and golden parachutes are created for WCG leaders. The WCG no longer stands for anything. Members who no longer believe in the earlier traditional WCG doctrine are better off to attend neighborhood mainstream churches. They don't need the WCG.

Earl Cayton

San Francisco, Calif.

70th anniversary

Several Sabbaths ago the Eugene, Ore., WCG commemorated the 70th anniversary of this church with the stated goal that the congregation would move to Sunday as soon as possible.

Makes one wonder. Anyone know the exact date in 1933 when the church began? It'd be ironic if Eugene were to meet on the Sabbath for exactly 70 years and then go to Sunday.

Noel Rude

Via the Internet

Comprehend the incomprehensible

In response to Maximo Sarmiento's letter in the July JOURNAL ["Mysteriously, Three Are One," page 10], Maximo says "God" is incomprehensible to the "human finite mind." Nevertheless, he goes on to describe and explain "God."

Is Maximo superhuman? Is Maximo's mind not human and infinite? If the Eternal is incomprehensible to the human mind, then how can any human explain Him?

Sounds like dogma of the regimes that say, "You little ones are too simpleminded to comprehend God, so we'll explain Him to you."

You can't have it both ways, Maximo. Either we "finite humans" can comprehend Him or we can't. The Eternal's Son said that in seeing Him His disciples had seen the Father. If other "finite human" minds can't comprehend "God," then neither can yours. If indeed "God" is incomprehensible to humans, then what in the world is He doing communicating with us?

Name withheld

Valley Lakes, Ill.

Site seen

There is a new unitarian Web site. Looks good to me. It is

F. Paul Haney

Watertown, Conn.

The loss of Gov. O'Bannon

Today is the last day that flags will fly half-mast in our state of Indiana in remembrance of Gov. Frank O'Bannon. He died Saturday, Sept. 13.

While I have not personally known many public officials, I will have to say that Gov. O'Bannon, along with his wife, Judy, has exemplified servant leadership in a most effective and down-to-earth way. They genuinely cared for people and seriously took their public role to help, build and serve their constituents. In life as well as in death they showed care and service.

I met Judy O'Bannon for the first time in 1999. She greatly helped support our not-yet-started charity LifeNets and helped give it life and support from many others. [See "Chernobyl-Plant Blast in 1986 Led to LifeNets in 1999; Ministry Ships Aid for Pennies on Dollar," THE JOURNAL, June 30, 2002.]

I traveled with her to Russia in October 1999. Afterwards, in 2001, we helped with a Moldovan orphan, Natasha Vasilitsa, who came to Indianapolis for two major surgeries for congenital birth defects, a project sponsored and endorsed personally by the O'Bannons. Natasha was a remarkable child; you can see her story at

The death of the governor before his time is a great loss to us who grew to love and respect him and his wife. His example will live and should serve us as a model for how to care for the needs of people in this life.

Victor Kubik

Indianapolis, Ind.

For crying out loud

For once I agree with pettifoggering ex-coworker Reg "Vinnie" Killingley with respect to his comments about the UCG bigshots even considering the policy of clapping for special music, much less ruling that one should keep his hands under his or her legs to prevent the horrible semisin of clapping. [See "Unwelcome Interference?," THE JOURNAL, Aug. 31, page 4.]

Don't you guys have something better to do already? I cannot believe that you would want to make this a policy issue when so many other things call for more scrutiny and study.

Also, why would you want to squelch the spirits of your congregants who feel moved to respond in a physical manner to the inspiration of an uplifting or sobering or motivational piece of music?

I know of no biblical injunction opposing the response of a congregation to something that is inspiring. Didn't the OT congregations respond with "amen" from time to time? Does not the NT say "Rejoice, I say, rejoice"?

Mario, Aaron, Paul and my other UCG friends: Come on, for crying out loud. I hope that the members of the UCG ignore this silly edict and let the Spirit move them to show their appreciation of inspirational music.

I will applaud all who do so.

Keith Speaks

Hammond Ind.

Tribute to Richard Rice

I remember Richard Rice as friendly, helpful, nonjudgmental and willing to listen [see "Richard Rice Dies," THE JOURNAL, July 31].

During the '70s and '80s he was a standout among the WCG ministry in terms of his attitude and views. He felt that Jesus Christ had been relegated to a minor role, being pushed off into the periphery of the thoughts of all too many, not occupying the central role in our lives.

He noted that we seldom brought up His name in our daily conversations, and when we did it was often in a casual, offhand, arm's-length manner as if He had little to do with our everyday lives and thought processes.

By contrast, another WCG minister expressed something to this effect: "It goes without saying that our sins are forgiven through Christ. We all understand that, so we don't need to keep talking about Jesus in sermons and writing about Him. We just need to emphasize more-useful and productive matters."

Other ministers had voiced similar sentiments, but not all. One minister rightly observed that "to outward appearance you would never know we are Christians." It wasn't Richard, but he probably had such thoughts.

He was especially helpful to me during the times we talked in the late '70s and early '80s. The waters of biblical truth had been thoroughly muddied, and I was just emerging from a decade of spiritual stagnation.

It had been a difficult time for me in terms of coming to grips with these and other issues involving the proper understanding of the role of good works in our lives (determining our reward, not our salvation), and the knowledge that Jesus lives His life in Christians.

He concurred with my observation that, even though these concepts were found in WCG expression and literature, they were seldom understood or correctly applied.

For instance, I had spoken to another WCG minister of the concept that Jesus in us is a vital key to overcoming. He actually said that any such notion could expose a person to demon possession!

Richard presented many helpful sermons, but I will always remember his standout sermon of Jan. 22, 1983, to the Imperial PM congregation in Pasadena. He outlined many of these points including the "missing dimension" in the lives of many: Jesus Christ living His life in us. What a radical idea!

Though Richard was somewhat tied to the notion that the WCG was the one organization through which God was working, he was a minister ahead of his time. He was not afraid to express his views even though they sometimes put him at odds with his fellow ministers.

Robert Macdonald

Pasadena, Calif.

Don't call me a Christian

To be called Christians in today's world places us with a group of people that number about 1.7 billion, all of whom follow the teachings of Christ.

But what does this word Christ, for this is where the word Christian comes from, mean?

Christ or Messiah means "anointed," so the early Christians were called the "anointed ones."

This word Christian, which we have used as a noun, when spoken in plain English becomes an adjective, describing something that has happened in our lives, for when we were converted we received it and we were sealed with the Holy Spirit from our heavenly Father.

This experience must surely be the greatest thing that has ever happened in our lives.

In Revelation 2-3 we find tremendous promises for those who have been anointed with the Holy Spirit.

The seventh or final promise is that we will sit on the throne with the Anointed One as He sits on His Father's throne in the heavenly glories.

2 Corinthians 13:5-6: "Test yourselves and find out if you are really true to your faith. If you pass the test, you will discover that the Anointed One is living in you. But if the Anointed One isn't living in you, you have failed."

Four years ago our son Paul brought me a plate of ice cream for dessert. Two hours later we found him dead in his room.

I went to go to his body when I heard this loud, powerful voice say: "Don't touch him. I have taken him."

I froze and feared to go any nearer to our son.

Paul had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Motueka [a place in New Zealand], but what wonderful words to hear from the Anointed One.

When that trumpet sounds and the saints are raised into the clouds, will we all be there? Revival cannot begin unless it begins in our hearts.

We all need the Morning Star of the Anointed One rising up within us. Only then will our enlarged buildings be bursting at the seams. However, we do need to speak in plain English, in a language that people can understand, using words that tell a story, the greatest story ever.

Graeme White

New Zealand

Mercy beaucoup

It's minister-bashing time!

Is there anything more sublime

Than to hate a minister?

Malign a minister?

Than "elder" resentment, big time?

Oh, yeah, we're to love our brother,

Our father, our neighbor, our mother;

They're not perfect, okay?

Who is, anyway?

But love elders? Let's not even bother.

So the ministers didn't move fast?

How long will we dwell on the past?

Get this understood:

They did what they could

In the blitz that has left us aghast.

Some of us were not quick to depart

When the devil was tossing his darts.

Some of us have delayed,

Hurt, bewildered, dismayed,

Not yet ready for any fresh start.

Who is patient with you and with I?

Whose mercy is Higher than High?

Do you really believe

Elders will not receive

Of that mercy? If so, tell me why.

God allowed the brethren to see

The falling-away prophecy

Come to pass from above.

But our job is to love,

Yes, love, too, for the flawed ministry!

Lucille Boone

Vicksburg, Miss.

Provocatively dressed teens

It was with interest and sadness that I read the article about the "Titus 2 Camp" in the June 30 issue of THE JOURNAL.

First, a big thank-you to the people who recognized the need and gave of their time and talents.

It was saddening to read a quote from camp organizer Cindy McLendon: "Many women are so busy they do not have the time to pass these skills [of homemaking and proper attire] on to their daughters," and "There is a big void in schools for teaching this."

Since when have parents in God's church transferred this responsibility to the schools?

To the fathers: Are you, also, so busy that you do not notice how your daughters are dressing and not teaching them how dressing provocatively puts wrong ideas and impressions in the heads of males?

Last but not least, are not the "church corporations" teaching modesty, etc., anymore? ("Why haven't we been told that"? one of the teenage Titus 2 Camp participants asked.)

Are the church organizations so busy "doing the work" that they are neglecting the church family? (1 Timothy 5:8).

Sadly, it seems the Father's most precious resource, future spirit members of His family, our very own physical children, are being thrown to society.

G. Neely

Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Not just housewives

As mothers and wives in the Body of Christ, we have been called by God to be keepers at home (Titus 2:3-5). Our calling is extraordinary and a wonderfully divine privilege.

We not only care for the needs of our family and cultivate domestic tranquillity, but we keep watch over evil influences that can enter into the home such as ungodly reading material, music and TV programs or movies, or unruly and rebellious attitudes from our children or their friends.

In other words, we are to be wise and discern between good and evil.

We are not just housewives. We are the queens of our homes. God has called us for this job. So let no man or woman despise you for following the Scriptures and your calling.

We are not just serving our husbands and children but also our King and Lord within the sacred walls of our homes. We are handmaidens of the Most High. We are in charge of the future generation of priests and kings.

Many younger women and girls haven't had proper upbringing; they haven't been taught God's ways, even within the Churches of God. The older generation should train and help the next generation in its walk. The younger women desperately need godly examples, women who fear the Lord, love their husbands and are submissive.

Many young women would love to have a God-fearing and wise mentor, but they don't know where to turn. A lot of older women are not doing their jobs. They are too busy with their careers outside the home.

But one way or another we are teaching them, whether it be in a godly way or the way of this world.

Like it or not, much of the breakdown in morals, reverence and respect is traceable to the absence of godly mothers who are keepers at home.

Your family is your career. We need women encouraging other women to be faithful daughters of God.

Stand up in the gap and fulfill your calling. Let the Bible be your guide in this matter. Your family depends on you, and so does God!

Elizabeth Johnson

St. Petersburg, Fla.

Throw the feds out

The vast degree of federal amalgamation since the Constitution was conceived and adopted by the United States has undermined individual freedom and self-determination with the mediocrity of secular humanism.

Like the founding fathers of our nation, I am against public funding to promote any specific denomination or that persecutes anyone's reasonable free exercise of religion. However, we have a Judeo-Christian national heritage upon which our laws and culture are founded. The Ten Commandments are common to that foundation.

If the people of the sovereign state of Alabama recognize the societal bedrock God provided with the Ten Commandments and want to emphasize this fact publicly, I say keep the feds out!

Hey, they already outlawed the Texas tradition of praying for good sportsmanship, etc., at the start of high-school football games!

Wake up, folks! We are being quickly assimilated!

Rick Stanczak

Round Rock, Texas

Just what do you mean God isn't a Republican?

There is a remarkable open letter written to President Bush and members of Congress by Norman Edwards in Servants' News, January-February 2003 [read the letter at or subscribe to Servants' News by writing P.O. Box 107, Perry, Mich. 48872, U.S.A.].

I am not a fan of Mr. Edwards, or anyone else, but truth is what matters. The truth is that too many church folks, especially in the South, think that God is an American who has an American flag on His throne.

These folks are more Republican conservative than they are Christian. They are not outraged by our hypocrisy and national sins and think that "God bless[ing] America" is a permanent state of affairs like doctrine.

Vic Singh

Fresh Meadows, N.Y.

America the beautiful

I've just returned from traveling for just over two weeks across this great nation of Manasseh (Menashe in Hebrew). Praise God for letting me continually stand in awe of His great creation that was foretold by the prophets.

Along the way, at various national parks, whenever I heard an Israeli accent I started speaking with people in Hebrew and we'd enjoy a friendly but brief conversation in which I would mention "We the People Are Manasseh" (, mention Gershon Salomon and the Temple Mount Faithful movement and mention that I'm a Christian member of it who was deported for my beliefs.

One Israeli son (about 30) was explaining to his mom and dad about Christian Zionists, and they were all impressed. I loved the opportunity to become all things to all men, in this case Jewish and Israeli, to help plant some scriptural seeds for God to water in His good time.

David Ben-Ariel

Toledo, Ohio

More help

I am personally very thankful to THE JOURNAL and editor Dixon Cartwright for printing my letter to the editor in the March 2003 issue and my article on "what counts with God" in the April issue.

I received very good and encouraging responses from several, and God has used THE JOURNAL and me and my personal experiences in the church to help some who appealed to me for help in understanding what has happened to them.

I even heard from people I knew back in the '50s and '60s while working at Radio Church of God headquarters in Pasadena. One gentleman wondered if I recalled corresponding with him in the late '50s and early '60s when the church did not have local congregations and people sought help from headquarters via correspondence.

In spite of the thousands with whom I corresponded, I did recall his letters.

Another response received was from Ontario, Canada, from a person who has been in the church for 25 years. He was traumatized by two WCG ministers and later by two . . . ministers [of a WCG derivative]. He had concluded (based on his experiences) that he had lost his salvation when he ran across my article in THE JOURNAL.

God's Spirit in me was able to assure him that he had not lost his salvation (we had an extremely profitable conversation). He is now on the road to spiritual recovery.

At the end of our first telephone conversation (we have had two phone contacts), he assured me he received more help from me in 45 minutes than he had received from all others over a 25-year period.

The response received confirms what I have believed and solidifies the reason my wife and I began the Living God Ministry, and that is that there are many people scattered all over this earth for whom Christ died who are at this moment bewildered and seeking help but do not know whom to trust. THE JOURNAL is making this possible.

Those who contact us soon realize who and what we are and that they can trust us not to mislead them.

I tell people out front that I cannot solve their problems for them but that God will guide me in helping them find the solutions but that they are the ones who must solve the problems with guidance from God through the Holy Spirit.

God is not playing games with us. He offers us salvation--eternal life--in His family.

This is real. It is time to cut through the religious confusion and the hurt and disillusionment and get on track for the eternal Kingdom of God.

Bill Glover

Eugene, Ore.

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