Letters From Those Impacted by
WCG, HWA & Offshoots
Best of the Letters from 2007
My Life Has Been in Limbo for Years:
January 1, 2007
Somehow I stumbled unto your web site. I am just overwhelmed with the amount of information that I must understand to make sense of my WCG experience. I am slowly beginning to see that the whirlwind that captured me was a huge life changing event, both during and after the experience. For years my life has been in sort of a limbo trying to figure out what in the world happened. I am beginning to see that I must move on with my life, wiser for the experience, and take steps to correct wrongs. --Nebraska
Your Website is the Only Thing That Makes Me Feel Validated:
March 9, 2007
Just wanted to say thank you for the reply and for all the work that has gone into the web site. It's the only thing so far that makes me feel that someone can relate to exactly what I went through as an second generation adult survivor of the WCG. Sometimes I don't even think my parents get it. They still say, "Well, we know God used HWA to bring us into a relationship with God, so we don't regret anything."
I don't know how they can say that, knowing that their kids went through poverty and ridicule and trauma that could have been prevented. I don't mean to come across as a whiner but I'm only now allowing myself to feel the feelings of loss, regret, pain, anger, etc. Looking forward to getting to the other side of this phase and getting on with my life. Thanks again, --Child survivor of WCG
March 19, 2007
With regards to WCG's apostatizing, I did recognize this tendency before. I thought that by trying to save themselves from the extreme error of Armstrongism they had to carelessly swing to another extreme end. By discerning this early on I know it's wrong. I know they are turning more like a dead mainstream protestant church than an evangelical fundamentalist church.
I read Edgardo Meneses' letter [to Worldwide Church of God, Philippines] and I'm acquainted with the National Director and the Pastors that were mentioned. We all attended the same church in Manila at the time. God blessed Edgardo for having a discerning spirit and courage to write these letters. I hope it gives words of encouragement for these concerned brethren.
Thank you Exit and Support group for your effort in helping former members and exposing the darkness behind the scenes. We share the same beliefs. I will continue to read and learn from your site.
In His Name, --B. M. (Former member of WCG in Philippines)
April 9, 2007
Hello, I have been researching the errors of Armstrongism, and I came across the incest incident. I was wondering if Herbert W Armstrong's daughters are still alive today? Did all of his children leave the church? --D.S.
Reply: HWA had two daughters, Beverly Gott, who died in 1992 and Dorothy Mattson, who married Vern Mattson in 1943. Dorothy drifted away from the WCG around 1951, but Vern continued working for the organization. Today Dorothy lives in Sun City, Arizona in a home for senior citizens. (Also see Ambassador Report #27. Note: The AR is now posted on an atheist website.) GTA was HWA's son and he taught Armstrongism until his death in 2003. More on GTA is in our article: For Those Needing Information on Garner Ted Armstrong. UPDATE: Dorothy Mattson died in 2010.
Forever Grateful to Your Site:
April 13, 2007
I can't tell you how grateful I am for your network. I grew up in that cult since I was 5 years old and I have had a number of troubles over the years, one being that I almost lost my life to an abusive man. I hope this site will be here forever. I am forever grateful. I would be interested in telling my story someday. Thank you. --D. G., Canada
I Love Your Site!
April 20, 2007
I love your site! I married my husband 3 years ago and right before our marriage he left the offshoot he was in. I am constantly removing his name from literature propaganda his mother signs him up for to try and drag him back. I have (and continue) to spend many long hours helping my husband feel okay to be himself. When I think of the mental anguish that survivors went through, I am so sad! Thankfully, we are working through things, but it seems I have to validate his sense of self worth on a daily basis.
My husband has become a successful therapist in the mental health field. He has degrees in social work and psychology and he is now able to recognize the psychological ploys the "church" employed to control its members. He told me that all the years of note taking and discipline did make him a better student, though, so we try to see the positives!
I think your website is so important to reach out to survivors, and how you can overcome this abuse and be a better, happier person after all.
On a humorous note, his grandmother is still connected with the PCG and she told my husband when he married me that I couldn't go to the "place of safety" with him because I wasn't in "the church." They had stockpiled corn and water in my husband's house (because he had a basement) for that time of hiding. Well, I cooked all the corn within a couple of months and used up the water in the fish tank just for good measure.
Thank you for your website. I wish all of you the best! --Jessica T., Wife of a survivor
Have Benefited From Your Site:
May 22, 2007
Congratulations on having such a wonderful website. I learned a lot from it. My situation was a little different in that I was never a member of the WCG, but my life was profoundly affected by the free material that was sent to my home in the early eighties.
I've set up a small group here in Ireland to help other people who find themselves in similar circumstances. I have counselling experience and have studied many other religions over the last twenty years. If people do contact me here in Ireland or Europe I would be grateful if you would allow me to use your website as a link from which they could avail of your resources. I have benefited from your site more then you'll ever know and I'm sure that they will also.
Trusting that this e-mail meets with your kind consideration and approval. Kind regards, --Pierce K., Ireland
May 29, 2007
John Trechak (of Ambassador Report) called me often and once we talked about what they found in HWA's desk. It was a well read and marked copy of Mein Kampf and HWA used that as a guide in controlling the people in WWCG. A lot of that is documented in Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web. For instance, the Boston Sunday Globe, August 3, 1980 in the article, "Church beset with troubles," states:
"Herbert Armstrong admired Adolf Hitler's method of control, particularly of striking in the small hours of the morning, when men's resistance was lowest. For example, when Garner Ted Armstrong was fired, calls went out to ministers in the field late at night."
I asked John about there being any Nazis in the WWCG because of the early writings of HWA about World War II and Hitler and also because of HWA's affiliation with Armand Hammer and Alger Hiss who signed him into the United Nations meeting in 1945. [Read this part in HWA's November 24, 1967 letter to Plain Truth subscribers where he boasts about how Alger Hiss signed his entry pass into that meeting.] John said that the only Nazis that were in WWCG were Herman Hoeh's parents. He also told me they had been known to say, that since Hitler died, HWA and his WWCG was the closest thing to Communism that they could get.
Anyway, it was true that HWA was closely involved with both known Nazis and Communists. --H. N., Former WCG member
May 31, 2007
I have made up my mind that I am not going to be attending the July Conference for WCG pastors/elders. I was an elder in our church, but of last month we are no longer considered a "church." We were down to five members and HQ wanted us to become a separate "affiliated" church and send all our offerings into them and they would send us back 80% of it back, or we could just stop being a church. We decided we would stop being a "church." I don't even know if I am still an elder and I really don't care. We still meet every week as we were before, so nothing has really changed for us. None of us have been pleased with the direction the leadership in WCG has been taking us for some time, but now the WCG has really lost its mind by inviting wolves into the sheep pen. --United States
Something Feels Unhealthy in WCG:
July 12, 2007
I left WCG several years ago, only to return in 2005. I felt I needed to go back to put some things behind me.I also felt like I needed to go back because it was "family." (Much of my family still attend, some in offshoots.)But since being back, I have never really been settled there and it feels wrong to me to be there. I have so much guilt about leaving because the people in my congregation think God is really doing amazing things for them. And I don't want to say He is not. It's just I sense some of the same legalism as was there before.
My husband doesn't go with me and I know he is judged for it. At least I feel he is. He doesn't even really want the kids and I to be there. He grew up in WCG, and had the typical childhood you have read stories about. I have been in discussions at church where I voiced my concern about what the future will be like for the youth in WCG. Is there a future for them there? I voiced these concerns and the concerns of my husband, and they were met with this response: "Well your husband just needs to come and see how things have changed." (I sensed a little disapproval.) I told them that he won't be coming ever. I liken it to a woman and her rapist. I wouldn't expect a woman who had been raped to start being close friends with her rapist. She can forgive him but that doesn't mean they will be close friends. I told them all that.
Then one woman made a comment about "everyone was hurt," but they "had stuck with it and hung in there." I got the feeling that those that left were seen in a negative light. I even feel guilty for writing that about her saying that, like I am saying bad things about her. I am not judging her. But I can't deny I am feeling these things. One elderly man got teary eyed a few weeks ago when we were having a church meeting. He was declaring how much he "loved the Worldwide Church of God and how we could all be giving more [money to HQ] to help things keep going." Something just feels so unhealthy to me.
I really want to leave and put this whole confusing time of my life (which is a good chunk of my life) behind me. I just feel so much guilt for leaving. I feel like for me, here we are twelve years later and for some reason I still feel turmoil there. They are still reeling from the changes.
My parents divorced over the WCG, or it at least sped things up. I love my dad, but I do know one thing. He loves the WCG and still holds Herbert Armstrong in high regard and believes he was "a servant of God."
I went to a different church for two of the last three weeks and I loved it. I felt free. When I went to this new church, it was one of the first times since attending WCG services that I have felt a little bit like me, the happy-go-lucky person I was once, the one who wasn't living in constant fear that I had not done everything perfect enough for God to love me.
My husband 100% supports me in my decision. I don't want to be bitter, but I am tired of the turmoil. I know other churches aren't perfect, but I want to fly and be free. I don't want to run away from the confusion, but why stay? Everything about being there is a painful memory of what was taken from me.
I know the WCG has changed but I still am horrified about what I am reading about the past. I don't want my children attending a church with that kind of history. I know I am not their judge, but I am finding it hard to trust this organization any more. For years it appeared to be something it wasn't and I don't feel like stepping out to trust them again.
I thought with the WCG changes that was all the changing I had to do. Wrong!! I am beginning to realize that the guilt and the confusion I feel is symptomatic of having been in a cult. It was the WCG's control over me. I have to really work at it now to get un-culted (if that is a word). I feel horrible. Probably my biggest problem is that Joseph Tkach, Sr. seemed to be the one instituting the changes but after reading about him I think, how can I trust that he was genuine? It's just hard to comprehend.
I just need some encouragement on how to go forward to sever my ties completely with this organization. Even if there's only the possibility of these things being true about Herbert Armstrong, Joseph Tkach, the administration, and more, I feel I shouldn't have anything further to do with this organization. I have been looking for another church and have been attending a wonderful church the last few weeks, but I need to tell them at WCG I am not coming back. I need to just get it over with.
Thanks for letting me vent. I just need to talk to someone who understands. --A.
Comment: This person corresponded with three people in ESN and wrote back a few days later and said she left the WCG for good. (See following letter.)
Something Feels Unhealthy in WCG:
(2nd email from person above)
July 12, 2007
In the last week I have started to realize these people that I have been in church with are victims, too. It's really helped my perspective. That being said, even though I have a changed perspective, I also know that I don't want to raise my children in this church. So, I have left with no plans to go back--ever.
I do sense that the congregation here is a little frustrated with headquarters. Yet, they stay. What is interesting is that they still say to me that they don't think Herbert Armstrong knew he was wrong. "He didn't mean to mislead everyone." It can't be both ways.
I guess plain and simple, I just don't want to be a part of an organization with this mired past. It's hard enough seeing the trail of broken lives left in WCG's wake. I have a responsibility to teach the freedom of grace in Christ to my children and ask the Lord to help me live it.
Thank you for listening. I am so grateful. I keep wondering if I ever crossed paths with you at a feast. Thank you for reaching out to help people heal, to validate us. --A.
Beginning to Understand More About the Love of God:
July 13, 2007
Thank you for your reply. I found it encouraging. I am beginning to understand much more about the love of God. In the past I felt I would be zapped for any infringement of His laws--now I grasp (albeit darkly at the moment) something of His love. The way is forward. I realise that giving up a certain way of life that spans nearly 40 years won't be easy, but with God's mercy I will get there. Thank you again. --P.
Been Reading Some of Your Wonderful Articles:
July 19, 2007
I've been reading some of the wonderful articles on your site today--your poems, too. Your article about why exiters become agnostics or atheists was really good and you present the Gospel so well. I read that and benefited from it myself. Then I started to read about Thomas Paine and Madelyn O'Hare. Both really good articles. I'd never read that piece her son wrote before. She was something else. I didn't know Thomas Paine was an alcoholic. I want to read more of the articles when I get more time. God certainly did prepare you for your ministry and there is no one else doing it. Thanks again! --Former WCG member
July 25, 2007
Mrs. Dave Pack (of Restored Church of God) died a horrible death July 22 of ovarian cancer. This is very sad, but not surprising news!
When I was in RCG (over three years ago) Mrs. Pack (Shirley) had been experiencing some minor health problems. Apparently, they became major health issues. She was a few years older than her husband. He is 59 this year and she was 62.
Shirley M. Pack typed up almost all, if not all, of the pages of the books that the RCG produced. Even the Herbert Armstrong re-writes were done by her (as far as I know). She was the former Shirley Ochs. Apparently, at one time she was one of HWA's secretaries. My understanding is that they had a "pool" of secretaries back then.
Dave Pack and Gerald Flurry are very similar in many ways. They share the common trait of being false prophets and unfortunately share in having their wives die premature deaths. Perhaps, Pack will be humbled by this tragic loss. It didn't humble Gerald Flurry. If anything he has gotten worse.
Your website keeps many of us informed. --John (Former Member of RCG and PCG)
July 28, 2007
When I first met Ron Lohr, I had thought he was a pleasant person. He never seemed to get ruffled and opened himself up for others to talk to him. But as time went on, I saw what an act that all was. Whenever I tried to share with him the way I had felt God's intervention in the lives of both me and my husband, he just took on a body language that told me he doubted what I said. For instance, when my husband was set free from his alcoholism, both of us gave God the glory, but Ron Lohr wasn't used to that kind of spiritual talk, and I perceived how the WCG really didn't validate such things.
It was my impression that Ron Lohr liked the ladies. I'm not saying for sure what that amounted to. But I do know my "friend" in there told me how Lohr phoned her and wanted to see her. She said she didn't know why he phoned her either. Both of us just thought it odd that he did the calling. (She may not have told me everything.) I certainly didn't experience anything first hand of that kind of behavior. But I noticed if the women were submissive and nice to him, he would bend over backwards to help them, and they usually got what they wanted.
I personally feel he has no intention of repenting of hurting anyone. One part of me realizes that he was a vulnerable, needy person who got taken in, but on the other hand he wanted power too. He wanted to rise up the ladder in the WCG. That was obvious to me when I used to hear him preach. He sounds the same to me and very deceptive. He resigned. I'm sure because he knew he would never be moved up the ladder in "God's church." He may not be as ruthless as the hierarchy was, but I feel he is very shallow, very prideful and hardheaded. I really believe that was what was behind his so called "breakdown" (and resignation) after the WCG's doctrinal changes. It was more like a tantrum. No, he makes way too light of what he did, and he hurt a lot of people, not the least of which was his former wife and daughters. --Former member of WCG
Comment: Also read: "What it Felt Like to Be Kicked Out of Worldwide Church of God" (by child survivor who had Ron Lohr as minster)
Dumbfounding that "Ministers of God" Can Do These Things:
August 3, 2007
Thanks so much for the tapes. [My Story by C. Wayne Cole and Firing and Disfellowship by David L. Antion] I received them about three days ago. I listened to them right away and was able to confirm the many written articles and books I've read about the same things from many different sources. Makes them believable.
I was deeply impacted by the WCG experience ever since I became a member in the early 70's. It is really dumbfounding that men who call themselves "ministers of God" can do these things to their fellows. This was so effectively hidden from us then and we were so fooled by those "ministers" making us believe that the receivership was the work of Satan when it was really Satan himself working with those in the top leadership at that time.
Thanks again. This is a great service you are doing to all who are willing to investigate and get free from this destructive religious systems. We are praying for you. God is always in charge (not these ministers) and He will take care of His people every time. Yours, --Jose de la Cruz (Philippines)
David Pack is Full of Himself:
August 11, 2007
We used to travel to Akron, Ohio for Regional basketball weekends. The members had just lost their other minister and they were saying how God provided for their needs by bringing in David Pack. The first time I saw David C. Pack he was very tall, and wore very, very tight spandex biking pants. I remember being surprised that anyone in "God's church" would wear such clothing, let alone a minister. Let's just say that it didn't hide his "anatomy" well. I remember being very embarrassed when I saw him, and I avoided looking at him for the rest of the day. Looking back on it, I can see he was so full of himself. He certainly liked to strut around in his tight britches.
On Pack's website on "Press Resources" he has three small photos of himself in various poses that visitors can click on to download and evidently enlarge. There are photos of the inside of his "world headquarters" which show different angles of everything in the building down to the desks and chairs. His Biography page--which has a dignified photo of himself with the caption "President and Pastor General"--lets us know about all he gave up to go to AC (i. e., "Dartmouth College, an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, and numerous scholarship offers"). He says he has the "largest Biblical website in the world." It is so evident that Pack has an inflated, insatiable ego, along with being a liar. I believe he is controlled by an evil spirit. --Former member of WCG
August 20, 2007
We received this letter from someone the other day. It appears as though Dave Pack is keeping some of his members in the dark. Pack has also said stupid things like only his church has a "circle of protection," However, we know of several incidents of people in Restored Church of God having met untimely deaths. Below is another example that his "circle of protection" theory is a lie!
"It was a shock to hear of Mrs. Pack's death as I never knew she was so seriously ill, until the last couple of weeks. I only heard that she had a persistent cough for over a year, but she was doing alright, exercising in a gym and was on a special diet. This morning, I received an email from HQ, informing the brethren, to pray for Mr. Pack's son Rob, who had a serious accident when a metal soccer goal tipped over and fell on his head and face, during the RCG Youth Camp. It now appears that Mr. Pack's son has been in the church for over a year, a fact I didn't know until a week ago."
It's sad that the sheep will continue to follow this ravenous shepherd! When will they ever learn? --John (Former member of WCG, PCG, & RCG)
P.S. I decided to do a search on the "circle of protection" and while I knew that it was superstition, I didn't realize that it actually has to do with witchcraft and the magic arts.
Your Article Kept Me From Being Suckered:
September 12, 2007
Thanks for the article Did Herbert Armstrong Distort Historical Church Documents? I had stumbled across some Living Church of God writings on early church history regarding Sabbath vs. Sunday and Passover vs. pascha. Your quotations of the full documents kept me from being suckered into the Church of God crap. Thanks much! --David B.
October 26, 2007
What a great letter by Sharon Griffith (An Open Letter to Joseph Tkach, Jr.). I personally knew about Sharon through some long time church members and even though I had never seen the letter she wrote Tkach, Jr., my friend told me about it years ago. Sharon describes exactly what went on in the WCG during "the changes." My friend told me that she was 52 years old (at that time) and she had been calling headquarters. She somehow was successful in reaching Joe Tkach, Sr. (JWT) and they had spoken to each other on the phone on several occasions. I do remember that JWT gave her his number and told her she could "call him anytime" and she did frequently. I am glad to see this confirmed in her letter. She was calling JWT and talking to him, and then the man in the Ohio church (who had been in 28 years and was friends with our friend who was in 26 years) would call her and she would relay what was said, and our friend in turn gave it straight to me from the horse's mouth. She was the one that passed the Earl Williams tapes off to the friends of mine and they passed them off to me. I am certain my friend has a copy of that letter since she sent him everything.
Yes, she was right on about the guilt tactics. I recall one Sabbath where the minister was reading the PGR [Pastor General Report from HQ] and quoting the scripture where Jesus was introducing the bread and wine and "the disciples walked with him no more," and Jesus asked his own disciples whether they would do the same. Then the PGR questioned the members loyalty and said that those who quit the WCG were walking away from Jesus like the disciples.
HQ used some pretty low down tricks like that to coerce us to stay--always using guilt and twisting scriptures to make us feel like rats for wanting to leave. I'm glad Sharon spoke out against all the confusion they made us suffer through. It was awful. Every word in that letter is true. JWT asked her something to the effect of "what should be done to make the changes better (or acceptable)" and she told him, "You need to tell the members that Herbert Armstrong was not God's Apostle, and you need to tell them that you are not God's Apostle either." She said there was "dead silence" on JWT's end of the phone. That's when she knew the changes were shallow and he wasn't going to come clean about the whole HWA cult.
My friends, who had been long time members, were wondering whether they should permanently leave the WCG (since D. James Kennedy and others were telling us to "go back"). When they spoke to Sharon, and she relayed how JWT wouldn't denounce HWA, they decided that they were making the right decision in leaving. When he and his wife were telling everyone "Goodbye" at church, I asked him why he was leaving. That's when he took me aside and told me about all kinds of things that went on that I was never aware of. He had been in 26 years, so I knew he knew so much more than I did. He told me of all the exploitation that had occurred during their tenure with the WCG (like HWA asking people to take a second mortgage on their homes and send in the money for "God's House"). They pointed out to me that the WCG wasn't coming clean because JWT wouldn't admit the truth about HWA, and that he did not have the charisma and the hold over members that HWA had, so they rode on the coattails of his name for as long as they could. This was pretty eye-opening to me. That's when I realized the lies and deception would continue (and they have even to this day). He said I shouldn't waste any more time there and advised that I leave, too, and I did.
--Kelly Marshall, former WCG member; author of The Earl Williams Factor and other articles on ESN site.
November 28, 2007
III am a former WCG member. I was born into the WCG in 1980 (3rd generation) and was present for all the changes. My step-granddad, John Amos, started the PCG with Gerald Flurry. This was a very hard time for my family as my stepdad chose to stay in the WCG and not join the PCG. He didn't stay long, however, before leaving WCG completely when John Amos died in 1993. My mom and maternal grandparents still go to the current WCG, as they went along with the changes in the early 90s. I, however, quit attending in 2005 and have joined a nondenominational Christian church which I love!! There are still too many previous cult-like mentalities in the WCG congregation that my family attends and I am so happy to be completely free of it all!! I just wanted to write and tell you that I really like your site and appreciate what you are doing! The Amos family is still heavily involved in the PCG along with some others ex-members of WCG that I know. It is just sooooo sad!! Do you have any advice for getting them to see the light? I feel so helpless! Again, thank you!! --Kelly Case (Child survivor/former member of WCG)
Update: Kelly sent further info the next day. Read: Abused By Worldwide Church of God Cultic Mentality When I Decided To Leave Their Fellowship.
November 29, 2007
I remember saying "how much better the Feast was than Christmas." Of course it seemed that way to those of us who had plenty of 2nd tithe. We lived the whole year in financial straits, and then when the Feast arrived, we were free to go overboard. We ridiculed Christians who were "getting drunk and overspending" during the Christmas season, but the Feast was an 8-day drinking and spending spree for many. Every year I personally witnessed members who would drink round after round of cocktails and mixed drinks while overeating rich foods at pricey restaurants. But the usual reasoning we held for such overindulgence was: "It's okay because the Bible says we can eat the fat and drink strong drink."
At the end of the rung were the poor who had little 2nd tithe to spend. I remember one man telling me how he was "eating at McDonald's" during the Feast. Another family would go to their vehicle every day to eat bologna sandwiches with their children. At the same time, I knew the ministers lounged in their expensive hotels and condos, indulging in the "best of the best," yet never lifting a finger to invite these "less desirable" (or "unblessed") members out to eat. It reminds me of the rich man who only tossed crumbs to the beggar at his gate.
HWA tried to paint an idyllic "World Tomorrow" by attending the Feast, which in reality, wasn't true. Since our daily lives were strict and frugal all year, is it any wonder why we thought the Feast was the ultimate experience? I spend so much less for Christmas now than I did trying to spend all the 2nd tithe I could during the Feast. I am convinced that spending thousands of dollars in just over a week is not emotionally healthy either. It certainly creates a "high" that can never be rivaled, which I'm convinced is why people think the Feast is "better than Christmas." --L. B.
WCG More Corrupt and Depraved Than I Imagined:
December 15, 2007
I have never properly researched the WCG movement until the last two years. It turns out it was far more corrupt and depraved than I could ever have imagined--a veritable antichrist. I regard the majority of cult leaders as atheists who regard God and the Bible as mere interesting ideas while they carry on as usual in pursuing their real agenda--power and glory.
Many years ago at Seacroft in Yorkshire there were some who were trying to warn me about the cult (WCG), including a kind retired Lady from Wakefield.
Thank you for an outstanding site which has been very helpful and continues to do so. --Former member of WCG (Europe)