Letters From Those Impacted by
Philadelphia Church of God
Best of the letters from 2006
PCG Members Disassociating From Family:
January 16, 2006
I want to confirm that PCG members are disassociating from family that were baptized in WCG and are not PCG members. My mother and father in-law had to notify all their children that they will not be able to see them any longer. That is, not until one of them dies and then the kids can come to the funeral. I am concerned that this is a means to distance members from their loved ones and set them up to be led into something even more sinister. Please pass along any info you might have on this. --K.
Comment: WCG under Herbert Armstrong had a similar ruling. In fact, April 1980 The Good News carried an article by HWA entitled, "If One is Disfellowshipped, Which Family Comes First?" and in the May 4, 1980 Worldwide News: "Can We Fellowship With the Disfellowshipped?"
You Have Many Useful Resources:
January 16, 2006
Your site appears to be very comprehensive. I appreciate what you have done with these efforts. It seems that most ex-members have a desire to see all those trapped be set free. You have many useful resources available. Thank you! --Has relative in PCG
February 8, 2006
The 2006 February issue of The Philadelphia Trumpet has a long article about HWA's vision for Ambassador College back in the 1940s. They are trying to appropriate that "vision" for what they are now calling Herbert W. Armstrong College. They also will refer to it as AC (Armstrong College). [bolding below is mine.]
Here is the quote:
Notice what my father wrote in the August 2000 issue of the Trumpet about Herbert W. Armstrong College—before it was anything but an open field with knee-level wild grass: "Physically, our small college will be a vision of hope. The Earth will still become a Garden of Eden. Our plot of land will help make that magnificent potential clear." ("A Vision of Tomorrow" by Stephen Flurry, The Philadelphia Trumpet, February 2006)
In the same February issue Gerald Flurry also says:
Our college, founded in 2001, is appropriately named Herbert W. Armstrong College. (Raising the Ruins by Gerald Flurry)
Our college, Herbert W. Armstrong College, will be producing its first four-year graduates this spring, some of whom will be hired full-time in the work. ("From the Editor: An Open Letter to the Churches of God" by Gerald Flurry)
Also, the new auditorium (which hasn't been built yet, but which will be located on the campus) will be called "God's House" or "House for God." Flurry wrote a 7-page letter "explaining" how this is all prophesied in the Bible. --Impacted by PCG
Update: Gerald Flurry talked about changing the name of college in his sermon: Exposing Satan. Note: Stephen Flurry is president of Armstrong College.
Tax Fraud Involved in PCG Purchase of Surrounding Homes?
February 23, 2006
It seems that the PCG has purchased some of the surrounding homes that backed up to the property for a pretty good sum. I found out that Andrew Locher is now living in one of them, 3.000 sq., feet on several acres the PCG purchased for a large amount, and which Locher is purchasing for only $15,000 dollars. Not sure right now if any of that is illegal but it sure seems like some kind of tax fraud. There are a total of three of these homes they have done the same thing, too. Dennis Leap has now moved into the property and his old home is for sale. --[name withheld]
March 5, 2006
I don't think that all members are walking in lock step with Flurry's latest "no-contact" ruling. I have many family members deeply entrenched in PCG. While they show no signs of wanting to leave, they have chosen to ignore this latest insanity. They shunned me when they first joined years ago, but have since softened their hearts towards me. Many of the people in PCG are frightened. A number of them are elderly and have spent their entire lives following a man (first Herbert Armstrong; now Gerald Flurry) and not being able to think for themselves. I have spoken with several former PCG members and they have told me that they can't believe they were so blind as to shun their own flesh and blood because Flurry told them to.
The PCG "profiles" its membership and knows exactly how much money they make and where it goes. They have an extensive "reporting" system set up. They aren't allowed to miss church unless the reasons are acceptable, such as illness or death in the family. I also know that at least a couple of years ago all PCG households were required to sign pledge cards indicating how much they were able to pledge each month above and beyond their normal 20% tithe and 7 annual holy day offerings. Unlike most Church of God splinters, PCG no longer has a tape library (where members can check out the sermon tape and take it home). Sermon tapes are destroyed after they are played. It is difficult to trust in this kind of paranoid environment.
If your family member has contacted you "for the last time" and told you that he/she can't speak to you anymore, please do not stop trying. If phone calls are not welcome, send cards and letters to encourage your loved ones. Keep the lines of communication open, even if it's one sided for now. When we allow them to isolate themselves from us, we make it easier for them to live in their own little world, believing the lies they are fed every week. Remind them often of how much you love them. Don't allow their attempts at isolation to be successful. Make a stand against Gerald Flurry just as you would against the Taliban. Don't let religious tyranny steal away your family. --Impacted by loved ones in PCG
I Escaped PCG:
March 28, 2006
This last feast was full of bizarre statements. That is why Gerald Flurry decided that regional directors have to stay in their own areas for (at least part of) the feast from now on. He said that some things were said that did not have anything to do with the feast. There were often times that different ones in my family would just look at each other after something particularly weird was said, and we'd be thinking, did anyone else hear that? We were discouraged from getting our Bibles out and talking to each other about what we'd found. Most likely because whatever we read would be the opposite of what was going on.
We also were read an announcement sent by Marvin Campbell stating that we were no longer to gather in groups of more than two families without the minister's approval and presence. This was because a few of us had gotten together and did not invite the usual toadies. We thought that because, "Where ever two or more of you are gathered in my name...." Christ was ministerial approval enough for us! I guess that's why we no longer attend. We don't fit the profile.
We found your site some time ago while doing a search. The letters I've read were both disturbing and believable. They all had a familiar ring. We had been through some scrutiny by the ministry and knew things were terribly wrong. Now that we are out (we were "fired" by Marvin Campbell) we try to keep up with things just to see how bizarre it is getting.
Thanks. --Escaped PCG this year with all of my family
So Happy to be Out of PCG:
April 3, 2006
My wife and I were in the PCG in Australia for 10 years and are now so happy to be out. We are truly grateful for your site and all of the loving effort that you have put into helping others. It is a real help not only to have your site, but also the letters from others who have experienced the same abuse as we have. --Australia
PCG a Pitiful and Shameful Hoax:
June 24, 2006
I thought I'd let you know how beneficial is your site in making clear to your readers how much the PCG is a pitiful and shameful hoax lording it over its members and abusing their trust as a means of making a living for themselves.
Those entrusted to do God's "End of the end time" work are busily building for themselves luxurious houses in their gated, security-guarded ministerial compound while pauperizing their flock and urging them on to ever more generous donations so "The Work" can get done before the end arrives. The end has been imminent since the PCG first started up; there was then so little time left and such an urgency to finish "The Work." That was 13 years or so ago; it would seem there is more time left than anyone ever thought.
The ministry's swift, brutal and merciless treatment of anyone daring to raise any questions about any aspect of PCG operations or teachings is clearly at odds with their pretense of being Spirit-filled ministers of God. These great, puffed up men of God, love to lord it over their congregations and expect to be treated with the respect and awe reserved for royalty and the high and mighty of this world much like the Pharisees of Jesus' time. Yet, they are often but simple folks elevated to positions of authority not so much because of any demonstrated natural ability to be in such positions, but solely because they unquestioningly follow and support everything taught by "That Prophet." Unwavering loyalty to the organization overrides all other considerations.
Of all the many so-called "churches of God" out there (will the real one please stand up?), I believe the PCG stands alone as the most destructive, authoritarian and exploitative cult to ever rise from the ashes of the WCG. It is doomed to failure and insignificance, a fate it richly deserves and mostly of its own making.
Through the efforts of websites such as yours, many are being warned of the perils of ever allowing themselves to be taken in by the lies and deceit of the PCG and its Headquarters ministry. Many are being spared the frustration, cost and despair of finding themselves ensnared in the web of a crafty liar who is using them to feed his delusion of being a great prophet sent by God to warn the world of its impending end and who, in the name of God, is ruining marriages, tearing apart families and jeopardizing the financial stability and well-being of its members.
As a regular reader of your site, I encourage you to keep up the pressure on the PCG; they need to be exposed for the thugs, thieves and liars that they are. My recommendation to "That Prophet," and the PCG ministry is that they should all get a job like all the rest of us and earn an honest living. --Robert C.
Comment: This email reminds us of similar letters that ESN received back in 1993 and after. The only difference is that those were referring to WCG and Herbert Armstrong. Today only the names have changed but the mind control methods remain the same.
June 29, 2006
I'd like to share my joyous news with the other readers of this website. My family is finally out of the PCG. It was the no-contact ruling that finally opened their eyes to the knowledge that they were in a cult.
During the whole ordeal, I tried to never criticized their religion or their odd ways. I tried to be an example of true Christianity, and offered to help them whenever they needed it. Although it caused me much pain over the years whenever they turned a cold shoulder toward me, I didn't voice my hurt feelings to them. I'm only writing about these experiences to encourage others to persevere.
Even though I didn't tell them how I felt about the way they were living, you can be sure I talked it over with close friends who would understand. Keeping a journal was also helpful. Doing these things helped me to get through the toughest times.
If you have loved ones in this cult, please don't give up hope--especially if there are children involved. Send letters with photos at least once a month. Keep your conversation civil and about non-religious issues. Show them you care no matter how much they may act like they don't. Remember that they are mind-controlled and if and when they ever leave, they will need encouragement and help to put their lives back together. Also, remember that the children who grow up in cults are very likely to leave and will need a place to go where they are loved and accepted.
Thanks for letting me share my story. This website is the most encouraging and helpful one I have found for those of us who have had to deal first-hand with the PCG cult.
In deepest appreciation, --Family OUT of the PCG!!
My Impression of the Recent Chicago Speaking Engagement of Flurry's:
July 24, 2006
Last night my sister and I drove to the Oakbrook, Illinois hotel where Gerald Flurry was making his "personal appearance." The meeting room was located just past the front desk on the main floor.
We estimate there were 200 in attendance. Tables were set up with copies of the PCG literature, registration was required if we wanted to take a "free pamphlet." My impression is there is no love in the PCG.
My sister and I walked around the hallways outside the meeting room; not one person said so much as hello. I saw not one smile. A tremendous amount of prayer is needed for this group of followers.
Gerald Flurry showed up around 7:00 p.m. and stood about 10 feet from us with another man who was also dressed in a suit and tie. My sister and I were sitting in chairs next to the piano. The two men spoke only to each other. Gerald Flurry greeted no one, he had no eye contact or communication with anyone in the hallway other than the man he came in with. They stood there for about 20 minutes and walked into the meeting room to a round of applause.
A young mother left the meeting room with her one year old; they were standing in the hallway and the little girl let out a little of what sounded like a laugh and I saw the mom put her hand over the baby's mouth. This reminded me of how my sister (PCG member) used to "train" her babies at home every day to stay on a blanket for hours on the floor and quietly entertain themselves. This was practice for services, so that the children would be quiet. I view this as child abuse and it breaks my heart. Please keep the followers of this and all deceptive and dangerous groups in your prayers.
In Christ, --Have loved one in PCG
August 3, 2006
There are three houses in a row on the PCG property which are apart from any other buildings. They are close to a main road (which is not church property) that leads back into Edmond itself. There is a bit of a clearing if you stand on the side of that main road and you can see the houses from there, on your right. Those houses are accessed by an internal road on church property. The middle one is Gerald Flurry's house, and flanked on either side are the homes of Stephen Flurry and either Wayne Turgeon or Joel Hilliker. Who paid for those houses? Who holds the legal title of those houses? Do the PCG members even know? Is it public knowledge as to what they cost to build? Who has the legal right to sell those homes if they wanted to?
How nice for Flurry that he has his family close by, in their nice new homes, while his followers' families are being broken up on his orders. --Impacted by loved ones in PCG
God Helped Get Me and My Relatives Out of PCG:
August 8, 2006
I have attended both the Worldwide Church Of God and the Philadelphia Church of God. I was 13 years old when I started attending the WCG. After Herbert W. Armstrong died and the church split, my parents and I quit attending. Then after the PCG got started in 1989, my dad, a couple of my relatives, and I started attending it. But about 4 years ago my dad my relatives and I quit attending the PCG. We started noticing in their articles saying one thing, then later saying just the opposite on the same subject. Then we started noticing it at services in their sermons. They keep Moses' Law. God open my eyes to that now that I'm out of the PCG. God has really led me to the truth since being out of the PCG. They wouldn't let you marry anyone outside the church, eat pork, sea food and other foods. I Timothy 4 proves them wrong on that about marriage and meats. PCG claims Christians should keep the Law of Moses. They teach they're the "only true church" and that they're the only one that understands Satan. They teach that you have to keep Gods Holy Days.
I just wanted to share this with you and let you know that God did answer my prayers. I asked Him to get my dad, my two relatives, and myself out of the PCG if it wasn't His church; also to provide me with a wife. I'm now married to a wonderful woman and we have one daughter that just turned one. Thanks for your time. --Exiter of PCG
Critique of Mystery of the Ages Best Defense Against Cult Propaganda:
August 18, 2006
I just finished the last chapter of Kelly Marshall's critique of Mystery of the Ages. Now I want to go back and read it again from the beginning. It is the best defense I know of against the cult propaganda. For those who haven't read it, I can only say the whole series has been a real eye opener. When I was first "called" or rather recruited, I did not have ready access to the information that is now available on the history of the early church. I took HWA at his word, and assumed he was really an expert and sincere. The vast amount of information that was purposely withheld and, indeed, twisted to say what it did not say, helped open my eyes to the depth of the deception that was being done to innocent and naïve people. I also had virtually no knowledge of the techniques that are commonly used by all cults to mind control their members. --K. J.
Flurry's Two Speaking Manners:
September 1, 2006
In listening to Gerald Flurry's sermons, I can't help but be struck by the different tones that are used by Gerald in speaking to the public on his Key of David program and what he uses in his sermons to those in his church. Comparing the two, it doesn't even sound like the same person. On the television program, he speaks in a subdued tone, appealing to the public, and trying to convince them that he is so concerned about their spiritual welfare. Once someone hears how he speaks to the members, they realize just how "watered down" these words are.
In listening to his sermons, he shouts, rants and raves, drawing out words to emphasize his points. He also belittles those he proclaims are Laodicean and/or antichrists, etc. Gone are the appealing, concerned words and the smile that ends with the sentence, "Good-bye, friends!" on the program.
What the public sees and hears on TV and what the members hear in the sermons are two totally different characters altogether. Just as Herbert Armstrong drew in members portraying himself as a loving, grandfatherly figure, Flurry sets the trap, then slams the door shut when the people become members. For these members, the "kid gloves are off." --S. L.
September 1, 2006
Garth Macdonald, a young man, aged about 24 years old, died this year. He was a Western Australian who was a student at the PCG college. He became very weak some short time before the start of the Ministerial Conference at Edmond in June of 2006. He had no medical attention, and probably didn't want to either as it would be considered a "lack of faith." His father is John Macdonald, PCG minister (but not on the PCG payroll) in Perth, Western Australia. Garth's parents attended the Conference and were shocked to discover that their son was so emaciated. So Garth was put into a hospital somewhere in Edmond for "tests" which showed that he had a weakened immune system (similar to, or the same as Craig Winters' son who died), which could possibly be due to stress, apparently. If he had taken steroids for the rest of his life (like the hospital suggested), he would at least have had a life.
The PCG members were asked to pray for Garth, and (due to the hospital giving him steroids) he picked up and people thought that God was healing him, but they weren't told that Garth was being given steroids. That was kept secret. The next thing anyone knew was that his parents were putting him on a plane with them to take him home to Perth (to die), immediately after the conference ended. PCG members were shocked when he died a few weeks later, as they believed that God was healing him, but it was because he stopped taking the steroids once he got back home to Australia. He had to be on them to have the strength to be able to get onto the plane.
Poor young Garth Macdonald might still be alive had he never gone to the PCG college and been under a lot of stress there. Prior to that, he was a very healthy young man. There was also the stress of his brother getting kicked out of the PCG and college while he was there, and probably stress from Dennis Leap poking his nose into the Macdonald boys' lives.
One of Garth's three brothers is Brad Macdonald who is married to Erin Leap, one of Dennis Leap's daughters. Brad and his wife live at Edmond. [Brad is a contributing writer for The Trumpet.]
What I say is fact, coming from none other than [minister's name withheld] own mouth. He knew the truth about Garth's situation because of being involved with the Macdonald family while they were all at the Ministerial Conference at Edmond in June 2006. I was told that it was being "kept quiet" about the medicine Garth was taking and that only a very few people knew the details and that it wasn't to "get out."
I don't have it in writing about the steroid story, but I do have a copy of an email to [a certain minister] from John Macdonald (Garth's minister father) that Lynda (John's wife) didn't tell her own WCG mother that Garth had died, that she had "nothing to say."
If anyone talked to Garth before his death, naturally he would have been told that he (Garth) was trusting God for healing (no one in PCG is going to admit to taking steroids or any medicine lest they be "judged"). Garth had stopped the steroids once he was back home in Western Australia. He didn't lie about taking steroids, he just didn't tell anyone that he had already taken them, so at that point in time he was "trusting in God" only. --Ex member (Formerly at HQ)
Update 2016: John Macdonald is Regional Director of the Philadelphia Church of God over Australasia, the Philippines, South and Southeast Asia and Africa.
Shocked to Hear of Garth Macdonald's Death:
September 1, 2006
I was absolutely shocked to learn of Garth Macdonald's passing. I can remember what a wonderful young man he was, both very athletic and intelligent. He was very loyal to the PCG which I believe ultimately lead him to his death. How tragic that an otherwise healthy and fit young man with his whole life ahead of him can be left to die without medical treatment in the name of a false religion. This has really angered me. The PCG needs to be exposed to stop these totally senseless deaths that occur. Life is a precious gift from God. The leaders of this cult certainly have a lot to answer for. --Shocked ex-PCG member
Garth Macdonald Had a Lot of Potential:
September 2, 2006
Hi ESN, thank you for a brilliant website filled with valuable information. Keep up the great work. I just wanted to write in and say that I was truly saddened to hear of Garth Macdonald's recent death. I was quite surprised by the news. Garth was only a few months older then me and was a very kind and well liked young man whom I believe had a lot of potential, and would have gone far in life if he hadn't of been caught up in a religious cult, which by the looks of it, has indirectly caused his life to be tragically cut short because of his belief in the PCG's healing doctrine. If only he knew the truth about the "church" he grew up in. I attended PCG in Australia for approximately 10 years (as a child) and witnessed a number of members who refused medical treatment, and instead opted to rely on God to heal them, which in a lot of cases lead them to a slow and painful death. Not once did I see any miracles. Many of those members would still be alive today if they had of followed the doctor's advice and/or start treatment for their otherwise curable medical conditions. The PCG should be held accountable because of their healing doctrine. What they are doing to innocent and naïve people is just wrong. It's time for the PCG to come to an end once and for all. I hope and pray that becomes a reality before any more members die due to a lack of medical care. --Child survivor of PCG
Very Useful Website:
October 20, 2006
Thank you for providing a fabulous website so full of very useful and eye opening information. I would still have been a member till this day if I hadn't of come across this site. --Ex-PCG member
Alex Harrison a Spiritual Bully:
December 18, 2006
At one time, Alex Harrison was responsible for South Africa and turned out to be a real "spiritual bully boy." He even instructed a 75 year old grandmother in the South Africa PCG to go and look for employment and refused to give her any of the third tithe that amounted to many thousands of Rand. --South Africa