Ministerial Evils in Philadelphia Church of God
I was suspended from the PCG in December because I read "dissident" emails from a PCG minister's wife and her sister who were disfellowshipped. I discussed this with two members also and questioned what had gone on in India and Sri Lanka in the PCG. The two women were unjustly disfellowshipped because they tried for years to expose wrongs that were done by the regional director (RD) (I call them regional destroyers) when he brought 842 new members into the church at one time in India. The leader of this group misspent church funds, lied, extorted money from other churches and committed many other wrongs (much like what the PCG itself does and is doing). The point is this woman and her sister's cries about the abuses went unanswered and unresolved for three years.
When the wife of the minister finally wrote to the so-called prophet (Gerald Flurry) about all the wrongs, and did so very humbly and was even reluctant to do so (for fear that she was violating God's "government" by going over her husband and the RD, the false prophet (hereafter known as "FP") said he would look into it and get back to her.
A meeting was arranged between the minister, his wife, the RD and FP in Edmond, Oklahoma. But the RD somehow convinced the FP to cancel the meeting. The FP turned the matter back over to the RD, the one who was responsible for allowing all the wrongs to take place and told the RD words to the effect, "I don't care if we have a work in India or not..." The woman had supplied over 60 pages of documentation proving her allegations against the leader of the 842 Indians. When she wrote the letter to the FP she included all of this information.
The FP turned this back to the RD, who in short order began to disfellowship, one by one, those who had tried to bring to light the wrongs that were happening.
The minister, at the urging of his daughter, who had moved to the United States for her education and previously worked for the church in the church office in Sri Lanka, came to the United States to see the FP, without anyone, not the FP or the RD, knowing that he was coming from half way around the world.
The daughter, through the United States' Regional Director (Craig Winters) where she lived, set up a meeting for August 24, 2005. Only the daughter and the minister from Sri Lanka knew that the minister from Sri Lanka was coming to the meeting.
When he came, Winters gave the two a tour of HQ and then took them to meet with the FP. After the obligatory greetings and the like, the minister began to explain what had happened in India. The FP contradicted things that the minister brought to his attention, asked the minister why he had not yet divorced his wife, as he had advised through the RD, and after several back and forth exchanges, which I will not go into full detail here, told him he was not fit to be a minister or to be in the church. He raised his voice, never once opening the Bible to show the minister where he was wrong, and basically told him in no uncertain terms to get out of his office!
The way I became involved is that I got an email from the minister's wife who had been disfellowshipped in December 2004. (The FP's wife had the last stroke that eventually lead to her death1 a day or so after the minister's wife was disfellowshipped.)
The subject line read: "Craig Winters Witnessed the Disfellowshipment of Mr. Wickramasinghe."
Since Craig Winters was my regional destroyer at that time, I was curious. But because of the church policy on reading dissident literature, I did not read the email. I only opened it to see from whom it had come. It was just signed "The Assembly."2
I received this email sometime in September, I think, but did not open it until returning from the Feast of Tabernacles in Greenville, South Carolina in October. Initially, I tried to refute everything that The Assembly was saying. They would answer back, saying, look at this literature, look at that article, etc. The more I tried to prove them wrong, the more it became apparent that they were right and that something was wrong in PCG.
I began talking to my wife and stepson, both also PCG members, about what I was seeing and that something was wrong in PCG. Neither wanted to listen and eventually, my stepson became so "concerned" he wanted me to arrange a "counseling" session with Craig Winters. To pacify him, I called the local minister and he said he would arrange the meeting. CW (Craig Winters) was in the area at the time, but he was in Washington, D.C. It was a Thursday and the next day I spoke to one of the members, a "leading" man in the congregation, about what I saw was happening in India. At first, he seemed to be interested but as the conversation (phone, Friday night) went on, it was apparent that he was going to tote the party line, obey the government, don't get caught up in "dissident" literature, be careful, etc.
Our local minister was to be visiting another local congregation on the Sabbath, so I was going to conduct services. (I was a deacon in PCG.) The man to whom I spoke on Friday night called me at 7:30 A.M., asking me if I was okay to conduct services, what with our conversation the previous night. I said, yes, I would be okay, there were only two short announcements and that I was not going to speak with anyone else. That was not good enough for him. He called one of the ministers. I received a call from CW at 8:30 A.M., as I was about to leave for services. He said, "I know that you want to have a counseling session. Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner." (Bear in mind that I had only requested the session on the previous Thursday.) He also said, "I am going to ask you to not attend services today." The conversation continued with me asking him questions that I had about some of FP's literature, questions from the Bible, none of which he could answer. He said he would have to look at these issues.
A counseling session was arranged for the following Thursday. I asked my wife to come along, even though she was reluctant to go (and as she told me later), she thought I had gone off the deep end about these church issues.
To conclude what has already become too long a story, at the meeting I could see that they would not listen to what I had to say about what was going on and what had gone on in India, and they misapplied the Scriptures. So I chose to back off, rather than be confrontational. I asked if they were going to suspend me. (There were two other ministers--and Mrs. Winters who recorded everything that was said on a laptop computer--present at the meeting, even though I had only requested to meet with CW.)
They asked me if I had spoken to anyone else. I said, yes, one other man. "Oh!" one of them said. "This is more serious than we thought." (At first I think that they were going to let me come back to services the next Sabbath.) When they heard this, CW said I would have to be suspended for four weeks.
I knew deep down that something was terribly wrong but I agreed to follow CW's directive to pray, fast, get closer to God, study the literature closer, and ask God to remove all the "wrong" things that had been placed in my mind. I agreed but there was much doubt in my mind.
For a few days, I stayed away from the so called "dissident" emails, studied the Bible, even fasted once and studied FP's writings.
After a few days and knowing that something was wrong in PCG, I again looked at more new emails from TA. I again began to warn my family and it got to the point after a few weeks that my stepson went to the local minister to complain about me. He approached my wife, who told him that I was "hammering" them pretty hard.
CW called me a few days later. I did not want to talk with him as I really did not want to go back to PCG and it was almost the end of the four-week suspension period. So when I saw the number was from Edmond on my cell phone, I did not answer it. At the time, I did not know that my stepson and wife had spoken to the local minister the previous Sabbath.
I checked the message on voice mail. He asked that I call him at home that night. I chose to wait to call the next day as I really did not want to talk with him, nor did I want to go back. I just thought that he was calling me to counsel a bit before allowing me to return.
I called him back the next day and after about one hour on the phone, he said he would have to disfellowship me. He never adequately explained the reason for the disfellowshipping of the members in Sri Lanka and even later must have told someone in the church at HQ that I had demanded that the church publicly apologize for the wrongs done in Sri Lanka and India. Of course, I never demanded any such thing but suggested that if the church did something wrong, or if an elder did something wrong, that there ought to be a public acknowledgement and correction, as the Bible instructs about what to do if an elder is found to have done something wrong. But I NEVER demanded an apology.
Bottom line, my wife continued to attend but I continued to try to reach her and after four weeks of prayer, study, preaching to her, and our great God our Father and Jesus Christ intervening, she began to see and stopped attending.
Since that time, we have quietly been seeking out the truth at home, finding out more and more about the lies, contradictions, unbiblical statements, deceit and works of darkness going on in Edmond, Oklahoma, all led by the FP who exalts himself to heaven and even takes upon himself titles that belong only to God the Father and Jesus Christ.
One problem that has happened because of this fake minister is that both my stepson and my stepdaughter still attend the PCG. Our son moved out of our home a few months ago over this church "situation." Neither will have any contact with either of us according to the dictates of the dictator in Oklahoma.
I have been sending warning emails to brethren still in PCG for whom I have email addresses.
I realize only God can set these people free from this deception and the workings of this false prophet, antichrist, and perhaps even demon-possessed man. But I believe it is important to warn in whatever way we can.
One more thing. When my wife was still attending, Craig Winters, at some point, either in person or on the telephone, told my wife, "You know, Jim is not pleased to dwell with you..."
This man tried to plant the seed of separation and divorce in my wife's mind.
FP told our daughter, who is a full time student in the college (Armstrong College) and works in the editorial department, "Your mother has to get out of there..." He was obviously referring to getting out of our home, or away from me, no doubt planting the seed of separation and divorce in her mind, just like his regional destroyer tried to do.
Our daughter was obviously still talking to her mother at the time as my wife was still attending when our daughter told us what FP said to her.
To my knowledge, my wife has not been disfellowshipped and marked as I have been.
Hebrews 1, verse 1-2 tells us to whom we must look in these last days. May we all rely on God, and not some puny man, to lead and teach us.
Thanks so much for your website and the work you are doing to expose the false apostle (Herbert W. Armstrong) and the false prophet (Gerald Ray Flurry). May God be with you.
In Christian love,
By James M. Kazimir
September 1, 2006
Note: As of 2012, Craig Winters was Regional Director of Southeast U.S.
UPDATE: Craig Winters No Longer a Minister (April 22, 2013 letter to ESN)
Read other articles by James Kazimir:
Selling the "Truth" (Stephen Flurry's book, Raising the Ruins)
Footnotes by ESN:
2 This splinter of PCG calls themselves Gentile Assembly. While this group (formed by Neela Wickramasinghe and her husband) started out with sincere efforts in exposing a number of things concerning Gerald Flurry and PCG, they feel God is now working through them. They still hold to Herbert Armstrong's doctrines as "God's truth," and give their own, very strange, interpretation of prophecies. Neela and her sister both feel they are the "two witnesses of Revelation 11." Unless exiters come to see that WCG was never "God's true Church," and that HWA was not who he said he was, many will continue to be deceived. Read this part of our transcription concerning exiting a cult (i. e., deceptive, exploitive group), which can help exiters to understand more about these totalistic groups, what their goals are, how propaganda works, etc. Also read: Is the Philadelphia Church now the Laodicean church?