Apr 192012
 

We get lots of email. Only some of it is worth sharing, because a lot of the stuff from COG members is usually laced with anger, threats and irrationality. Therefore, we love it when somebody sends us something nice, rational and thoughtful.

We’re interested in hearing people’s thoughts in response to this letter. Obviously, we have our own responses. But do you think it’s potentially fruitful to simply bring matters to ministerial attention? That some of the problems in the COG are simply based on pastors simply being unaware of what’s going on beneath their noses?

Is Dennis Luker actually looking to take UCG in a more sane direction?

Please, share your thoughts.

Dear “Silenced,”

I wanted to take a few moments to write to you to thank you for your website.

I am sorry for the pain you and others have experienced and empathize based on personal experiences.

No one can doubt your zeal for telling the truth. I disagree with some of the things you’ve said, but I believe in your right to free expression.

Have you considered communicating your concerns directly and privately to the leaders about  whom you write?

Perhaps no one has brought these matters to their attention?

I agree with your observations that the WFW could be better managed.  I can’t say that I agree with the B there or B squared approach mentioned in some of your posts regarding young people “you’re either part of the church or you aren’t.”

There are a number of people who attend functions who may not be part of the church in that sense.  But, certainly, we can hopefully learn to deal with all kinds of people?

Have you considered that the larger issue is not the lack of regulation as it is people learning to treat others with compassion and respect?

As a personal fan of Mr. Luker’s ministry, it is my hope that this is the cultural direction UCG is now heading.

There was a gentleman by the name of Mr. Dibar Apartian who helped to oversee various aspects of the French-speaking work under Mr. Armstrong who later worked with Dr. Meredith.

He died in 2010.  But, several years ago, he gave a sermon that was video-taped and played in a number of LCG congregations.  I don’t remember much about it, but I remember his SPS (specific purpose statement) – “recapture values of respect.”

Food for thought.

Blessings,
Kind regards,
Deborah

Silence

  18 Responses to “Letter: Why Not Talk to COG Leaders?”

  1. Now look, I’ve talked to some of the ministry in the various Armstrongist Churches of God. I’ve listened to them very carefully. I’ve studied their works. I’ve checked them out. I’ve participated and investigated.

    And I have concluded this: They don’t listen.

    It’s an underlying arrogance: When you believe you have the truth, it’s only a matter of refinement to get certain things right, because there isn’t much more to learn and Armstrongism is the most perfect religion you can ever get to in the world today.

    Wrong.

    DNA absolutely proves Armstrongism wrong.

    We’ve debunked that “church history” era’s thing thoroughly as being nothing but made up lies.

    The prophecy has failed completely again and again.

    Armstrongism can’t be fixed.

    The very core of it is total rubbish.

    No amount of sincerity or niceness is going to turn lies into truth, fiction into science and delusion into mental health.

    So I have a suggestion for the ministers of the Armstrongist churches of God: Start listening and stop with your agendas.

    First stop: Paul Woods in the Seventh Day Church of God in Caldwell, Idaho. They have a potluck on the first Sabbath of the month. Just go. Listen. Ask questions. Be respectful. Don’t give him any lip. And he will reward you by telling you from Scripture where you are wrong about such things as the calendar. And no, I don’t guarantee he has the truth. He only has the proof you are wrong.

    Second stop: Rich Odegard in the New Life Church of God Seventh Day in Tacoma, Washington. He was the Pierce County Jail Chaplain for 16 years, doing stuff you couldn’t even imagine doing. The church potluck is the third Sabbath of the month. Just go. Listen. Ask question. Be respectful. Listen to the amazing sermons covering the entire Bible and speaking of Redemption through the blood of Jesus. And no, I don’t guarantee he has the truth. He only has the proof you are wrong.

    Third stop: The Church of God Seventh Day (Denver). Oh, you know, the original church you are really from. The ones you call Sardis. Get their booklet just out after 5 years of research and consensus, “This We Believe: Teachings of the Church of God (Seventh Day)”. It’s only $10, less if you buy in bulk. Study it and notice that you actualy (with a few exceptions) believe the same things. Even the (Lord’s Supper) Passover Service is the same (as with the the other two above named sources). Discuss with them where you went wrong. Above all, apologize to them for your slander and libel.

    I don’t know if it’s the right thing to keep the Feasts or not. Maybe that is Old Covenant along with the Sabbath and Ten Commandment keeping, or maybe it’s not. And who really knows anything anyway? What is truth?

    I can’t tell you.

    But I can tell you that I know you are wrong and can prove it. You’ve seen the proof. You haven’t done anything with it. You aren’t listening.

    So it’s your turn.

    Better hurry.

    Offer ends soon (some time in 2012, I’d think from how quickly your little fiefdoms have gone into entropy).

    Good luck.

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  2. Talking to ministers about problems in the church sounds like a good idea on paper, but they have to be willing to listen and act. They historically have done neither.

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  3. CoG leaders’ public actions should be criticized publicly. If they have personal failings that don’t affect their membership then maybe those could be considered for private discussion. Although if those failings are ones for which they punish members, then they deserve to be criticized for hypocrisy,

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  4. I have had multiple discussions with many COG ministers (both local pastors and HQ) over a span of 40 years. In the majority of instances, they have not disagreed with most of my comments, suggestions and/or criticisms. While I have to say I believe some were merely ‘being polite” many confided that I was right on target… yet aside for agreement nothing ever came of anything I offered. The same mistakes continued to be repeated with the same reactions and/or inaction. I would suggest that the problem lies in an overriding loyalty to an organization (employer) rather than a commitment to uphold the word of God no matter what the cost.

    So the bottom line for the COG member (of whatever name) should be to make certain they aren’t placing their salvation in the hands of another man. We can only achieve that by our personal, individual relationship with God through the shed blood of His son. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be diligent to identify error or mis-steps… rather to acknowledge the only person we can change, with God’s help, is our self.

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  5. COG Member wrote:

    This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be diligent to identify error or mis-steps… rather to acknowledge the only person we can change, with God’s help, is our self.

    But what is the point of identifying error in the first place if you will not react to it in a meaningful way? Saying “the only person I should worry about is myself” is simply a way to ignore the problems, in so doing, allowing them to persist.

    The facts are these: the only real way to affect change within these organizations, (if you feel they are even worthy of saving – which I obviously don’t) is to hit the ministers where it hurts most: their wallets. Ideally, stop attending. If you must stay, at least cut back on your offerings. Withhold tithe checks or attach letters addressing your concerns. Write open letters to the membership. There are many things that can be done, if you insist upon staying, despite a million and one reasons not to.

    In the end, I agree with douglas: “They don’t listen.” – Why should they? The membership rosters consist of people with the same Matthew 7:3 mentality that “COG member” has. These people are sheep in every sense of the word (none of which positive). Their minds are malleable, they are used to being walked all over, and are utterly terrified of the least bit of change.

    It’s a terribly sad situation, really, but one they’ve grown accustomed to. I don’t expect it to change anytime soon.

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  6. Well put Jace. Because of this “overriding loyalty to an organization (employer)”, as you’ve put it, COG Member, clearly the easiest way to change things or at least get the attention of the higher ups is to STOP TITHING. Don’t give offerings either.

    More food for thought: shouldn’t you be concerned about the fact that the only way to get anything changed is to stop giving them your tithe money? What does that have to say about the leadership’s priorities?

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  7. S Harris wrote:

    More food for thought: shouldn’t you be concerned about the fact that the only way to get anything changed is to stop giving them your tithe money? What does that have to say about the leadership’s priorities?

    Exactly! Their motives are so clear to me now, it’s simply embarassing that I never saw it for so long.

    S Harris wrote:

    Don’t give offerings either.

    The last two holy-day offerings I ever gave, were $1 each. Down from $150 and $100 the previous two holy days. It worked, caught the attention of the Pastor who chose to respond via sermon and that was that lol.

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  8. Jace wrote:

    Their motives are so clear to me now, it’s simply embarassing that I never saw it for so long.

    Yup (I find myself embarrassed too), it’s not that difficult to understand now.

    (to my fellow ex-COGers, I’m going to quote some scripture, so please, bear with me)

    Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

    I find it ironic, cynical even, looking back now and remembering all of the sermons given in which the speaker used the Pharisees’ hypocrisy to explain some point of there’s. (Takes one to know one, huh?) It’s easy to get people to unquestioningly give you over one tenth of their income (at least), year after year, when they constantly dangle this carrot over the flock’s head:

    Matthew 6:19 – 21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    Ah yes, ‘Don’t be materialistic’, they tell the congregation, ‘But keep your sights on the World Tomorrow! The “sacrifices” you’re making today are proof positive of your love towards God. Your loyalty (*cough, tithes, cough*) and faith will assure you a place in His Kingdom.’

    Of course! Don’t worry about your financial needs, or get caught up in your life goals and aspirations. Just keep calm and carry on. Besides, God loves a cheerful giver!

    And when that World Tomorrow never comes, and the prophecies continue to fail, again and again, where will that leave you?

    The joke’s on you, I’m afraid..

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  9. Jace, you’ve hit the nail on the head: There is no incentive for the ministers to change. None.

    This is typical in cults where the sheep stand around waiting to be sheared and to provide the sustenance for the hirelings of the dead false prophet: The members never say anything to the minister that leaves an impression — he just doesn’t listen — and he then has the support of the members who believe that the minister is doing the right thing (he isn’t). This circle is a closed loop and the ministers are fools because they only listen to what they want to hear.

    The only way to get them to listen is to give them a healthy incentive: Withhold their living off of the sheople and let them starve (who is not working shall not be eating, and the ministers really aren’t working that hard, for the most part).

    Of course, even if they were to listen, take it to heart, “repent” and try to make changes, it wouldn’t make a lot of difference, because Armstrongism is proveably factually wrong at it’s core (there’s just too much proof lying around and there is ever a growing supply of it).

    The real bottom line is that the ministers are worthless and need to disband their little fiefdoms and figure out a different way to support themselves: Even if we were to assume the Bible is true, they simply do not have the Scriptural qualification to be ministers and they have to know that at some deep level they don’t acknowledge.

    The only free pass I might be inclined to give them out of a sense of mercy, since they would have a hard enough time for the rest of their lives, is to not require them to make reparation. It’s generous, but if they don’t bother us any more and don’t cause any more harm, it might be the right thing to do. It is certainly a lot more generous than they have been to us and I suspect that if the positions were reversed, they’d demand the very last little farthing.

    The epiphany I had this past week is even more definitive: I have nothing in common with the average minister and ACoG member and have absolutely no desire to associate with them. Let us say that the peace and quiet is refreshing, but more to the point, I just don’t want to bother with people who do not have any background or even a CLUE about science, technology and logic and I have very much tired of attempting to do the equivalent of explaining rainbows to earthworms.

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  10. Douglas Becker wrote:

    I have very much tired of attempting to do the equivalent of explaining rainbows to earthworms.

    I like that.

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  11. I think the saddest part of certain splinter groups (maybe all of them) from the WWC is that their leaders are blatant liars whenever it is more convenient for them. They will make up stories about people who leave and make up reasons that they leave that they absolutely know aren’t true. Their followers then end up being the same way. I know one in Oregon who made up a story about someone leaving because they were marrying, and it was total fabrication. BGC had received a letter from the member telling him why the person was leaving, but he chose to lie about it anyway, when the person didn’t agree with his ridiculous teachings about there being two Gods, and his odd backdoor liberal teachings.

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  12. @ Silence:

    Me too, and I concur with it completely. As I’ve said before, there really are some for which even a fastidiously strategic approach is a wasted effort. They simply are living in a dream world and no reasoning will breach that gulf. For most people in general, the language of reason is a foreign tongue–this can only be doubly true for the sheep and their self-deceived handlers (the duplicitous ones are unreachable for other reasons, obviously).

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  13. @ Gary:

    “odd backdoor liberal teachings.”

    Isn’t that the only way to get them in these days–by the backdoor? In Armstrong’s time, he taught all kinds of stuff that would be considered “liberal” in today’s political environment (in the U.S. anyway).

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  14. “Have you considered that the larger issue is not the lack of regulation as it is people learning to treat others with compassion and respect?”

    The larger issue is the lack of intellectual integrity in those who continue to promote ridiculous delusions as “truth”. We can pretend this isn’t important–and many argue for that very sentiment, poorly of course. But the fact is these beliefs of Armstrongism are incredibly easy to refute for anyone who cares enough or takes them seriously enough to apply to them the critical examination they call for. If the sheep had the integrity necessary to do this, they would not be suffering any abuses and we would have nothing to talk about.

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  15. People need to read the Bible once in awhile. The bible says to rebuke an elder publicly in front of everyone. Why? Because they have preached and practiced their error publicly. In short, the criticism and correction is to be on the same level as the infraction. Public = public. It helps no one at all to privately address false teachers who have taught publicly. Furthermore, the direction Jesus Christ gave in Matthew 18 to first go to your brother privately speaks to his sins against you personally — these are sins against the body of Christ generally. Lastly, every single one of these false teachers have been appealed to privately by SOMEONE of the Body of Christ. They know exactly what the objections are to their teaching — they know because they say they know. They condemn their critics point by point. So it is absolutely right to publicly expose these people without the need to personally go to them because their are others who have gone to them as representatives of the body of Christ and they have rejected it. Thus, they have spoken openly and we are correct to exposing them openly. Read Paul’s exposure of Peter. He never sent to him privately. He did it publicly because it was essential to do so at the level of the damage done.

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  16. In response to: Kind Regards, Deborah…
    To me you sound like you may be a graduate of Ambassador College or Armstrong College because of your use of your ending words,”Kind regards”. This is a typical Valediction those young people normally use. Or that just may be a coincidence, but regardless, your question was, “Why Not Talk to Church of God Leaders?”…I assume you have not read any posts on any of the other websites that allow ex members to post their experiences with any of the Armstrong offshoots. I have posted a lot. Most, I have not even put my name to, as I was very upset at the time and did not really care how I worded things or what I sounded like to others. I could post a lot more as I have recently remembered more incidents which included two regional directors, Gerald Flurry’s son-in-law, and my local minister… four more stories I could tell.
    The subject of most of my postings has been Brian Davis of the Philadelphia Church of God. And if any of you have not realized yet, ….according to Gerald Flurry the PCG IS the only true church as Mr. Flurry quote’s often: “The PCG is the only church that went to court to fight for Mr. Armstrong’s works!” So, OBVIOUSLY, the Philadelphia Church of God is the one and only true church, right haha! This is what Mr. Gerald Flurry teaches over and over again. I use to actually believe that until I kept being harassed and persecuted and “secretly disfellowshipped”, suspended while going through my divorce, and finally disfellowshipped for the last time Feb. 2012, for trying to defend myself on trumped up charges brought on by Brian G. Davis, a regional director in the PCG. You really need to read my real life experiences with that church and ministers. There is no hope of having a decent conversation with that regional director OR his brother-in-law Andrew Hessong. I’ve tried. They have absolutely no Godly wisdom. They DO NOT practice Jesus’ teachings. Gerald Flurry, his son, and son-in-law are aware of all this, I’m sure. They would rather throw me out with my young son than get rid of precious, lying, deceitful, vain, proud, arrogant, slanderous Brian G. Davis. What are they waiting for…Christ to remove him?? In the mean time…back at “Happy Hills Farm” he is destroying lives and people’s faith. My son will probably grow up to be an Atheist now! I won’t. Throwing people out of the church is according to the church’s belief’s…telling them they will have to suffer through the tribulation and repent or be condemned to the “lake of fire!” Well, I’d rather be condemned to the lake of fire than LIE and say I WAS WRONG about any of the false accusations Brian G. Davis has ACCUSED me of. I don’t have money for an attorney but I will get it somehow and plan to take them to court and use their own beliefs against them. Did that answer you’re question?

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  17. @ Bennidene Stevenson:

    I’m very sorry to hear of your experiences with PCG. I’ve never heard any good reports regarding that organization, aside from the ones disseminated by PCG itself. And, we know people and have helped and work with folks who have been there.

    My question was posted to the administrator of this site with regard to posts here concerning the WFW, but there was no evidence presented of a good faith effort to bring the concerns to the leadership of the groups in question.

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  18. @ Bennidene Stevenson:

    No, I am not a graduate of Ambassador College or Armstrong college.
    I never attended either.
    The only COG school I’ve ever attended was ABC last year, and
    I didn’t graduate from it. I got expelled because I wasn’t able
    to attend the number of classes required to graduate, due
    to family needs and other policies (U.S.) that were out of my control.
    If you get a copy of the 2013 ABC Pictoral, there’s no evidence that
    I was even there. But, I was. I wrote an article for them that was published
    in their student paper, the ABC Times. I’m sure that’s been expunged as well.
    But, I have a copy of it. And, the expulsion letter from Gary Antion
    proves that I was there.

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