WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD WORLD HEADQUARTERS
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91123
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG
March 14, 1980
President and Pastor
Your letters of February 1 and March 7 show, I am sorry to say, that
either you still cannot understand WHY the living Head of God's Church, Jesus
Christ, had you sent to Hawaii, or you are unwilling to see or admit —
and I prefer to believe the former.
There is no point in telling you this letter is written in LOVE for YOU
— for you ought to know that without my saying it. But out of love for
you, and DESIRE to see you back as PART OF GOD'S TEAM, working in full
co-operation and right attitude with the rest o[f] us; I shall take time and
space to make it clear once for all this time.
I have tried to hold the mirror up for you to see yourself as others see
you. But still you don't see in that mirror the same YOU that others see-or
are unwilling — I hope not the latter. But now I must be SURE! I shall
speak plainly, candidly. If this letter hurts, I quote from a letter the
Apostle Paul sent to brethren at Corinth: "For though I made you angry
with a letter, I do not repent... for I perceive that the same epistle hath
made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye
were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance, for ye were made sorry
after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
"For godly sorry worketh repentance to salvation ... but the sorrow
of the world worketh death." (II Cor. 7:8-10).
Now I'm going to come with plainness of speech as Paul said — in I
To overseas audiences, and to Kings, Emperors, Presidents and Prime
Ministers, I simmer down the WAY OF GOD and the WAY OF THE WORLD in two very
small words — "GET" and "GIVE." This world is
geared to the way of "GET." That is the way of VANITY,
SELF-centeredness, coveting, lust and greed, jealousy and envy, rebellion
against authority, competition which leads to strife, violence and war. The
way of "GIVE" is OUT-flowing LOVE, harmonious co-operation,
serving, helping, sharing, giving.
In spiritual PRINCIPLE, the latter is the way of God's Law, the Ten
Commandments-the former the way of Satan. I tell them that ALL the Unsolvable
problems, troubles and evils in the world are caused by the fact the world
lives by the "GET" principle.
Rod, WHY have so many who have worked [with you] said that you rub the fur
the [w]rong way? You are DOCTRINALLY correct., But in II Corinthians Paul
says we are not to live by the strict letter of the Law, but by the SPIRIT or
obvious INTENT — the basic PRINCIPLE of it (II Cor. 3:6). You are a
model of doctrinal correctness according to the LETTER — the strictness
of the letter — but you do overlook the SPIRIT from the heart. You won
the mile in a state high-school meet, You had know[n,] as Satan injects into
us all from childhood, the spirit of competition. You b[e]came a COMPETITOR.
In conversion you learned and accepted the strictness of the letter of God's
Commandments. You wrote a good booklet on the Ten Commandments. But now I
hold the mirror up for you to see in yourself what SO MANY who know you well
see in you — the SPIRIT of COMPETITION is still there!
You are not going to like this, Rod. Members of your family will resent
it. But I am the chosen apostle of Jesus Christ and in His name, I have to
say these things to you, for I want to have you with us IN GOD'S KINGDOM
— and there will be no contentions — no spirit of competition
there! No one is going to be there who strives for himself to take over the
Jesus Christ through me elevated you to the chief seat (which you had come
to me suggestin[g] over the ministry of God's Church in what we then called
CAD, you were a harsh task-master over the ministers. You, yourself, find it
difficult and perhaps impossible to TAKE what you dished out. Dozens of
ministers would testify to that. You rubbed the fur the wrong way! That has
been your life-style!
In a sense, though I approved it at the time, you came to me [(]when
Raymond Cole was trying to administer CAD from Eugene,[)] to jerk the rug out
from under Raymond-and he feels that to this day. I knew, as did you, that
CAD could not be handled from Eugene, and I approved your suggestion and put
you in the driver's seat over the ministers of the Church when it was not yet
When you were made second Vice President, it became a standing joke among
leaders at Pasadena, the saying, "Well, after all, I am the second Vice
Jesus said, "And whosoever of you will be chiefest, shall be servant
of all. For even th[e] Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to
minister" (Mark 10:44-45). Jesus said further, "Beware of the
scribes which wear long robes, ...and [love] the highest seats in the
synagogue, and the chief rooms (offices-ranks-positions), at feasts"
(Luke 20:46). Rod, am I qualified to call to your attention, these things? I
came into the ministry more than fifty years ago, back in Oregon. I was never
a member of the Church of God, Seventh Day, headquartered at Stanberry, Missouri.
The church of Dugger and Dodd at Salem, W. Virginia, was an off-shoot, and,
like Ted's present "church". Ray Cole's, and other's, NOT the true Church
of God. However, I never became a member of the Salem offshoot. Half of the Oregon
brethren (while all were in Stanberry) had incorporated as a separate church,
"The Oregon Conference." I was ordained by them. Twice I was paid
by them-about four months at $20 a week, and 15 mon[n]ths later, from
February to July, 1933, at $3 per week.
But I did CO-OPERATE with the Stanberry people, from 1927 until ordained
by the Oregon Conference, June, 1931-without salary, I co-operated with the
Salem people after the start of the present Worldwide Church Of God (then
called the Radio Church of God), and WITHOUT RECEIVING FROM THEM A PENNY OF
FINANCIAL SUPPORT in any way, from 1934 (after both the World [T]omorrow
radio program was going, and The PLAIN TRUTH was being published) until
August, 1937. And after that, while building the present Church of God, Philadelphia
era, I co-operated at my own expense with the Stanberry (Sardis era) people
until October, 1945.
I DID NOT, as Ted claims (he was 5 years old when I ceased the co-operation
with them because of the pressure of the Work in the present Church of God).
I did not leave them to start something of my own. I continued working with
them-GIVING, not getting-at my own exp[e]nse co-operating — GIVING
— as long as my time allowed.
But the point I want to make is this: I SERVED — I HELPED — I
co-operated. And I did not have or seek any high position. I always
considered myself, just as the Sardis ministers did, that I was the LEAST of
the ministers-the TAIL-ENDER!
When I conducted the campaign in the Firbute school house (36 seats) in
1933, I stopped receiving even the $3 per week salary from the Oregon
As the tail-end LEAST of the ministers, Christ started me in that little
36-seat school house, I constantly suffered persecution-first from Stanberry
ministers, then again from Salem, W. Va.-ministers, then again from
Stanberry. The 19 members we had from that Firbutte campaign was the START of
the present Worldwide Church of God. The brethren at the start were my own
converts-my own children in the Lord. NEVER in all my ministerial experience,
I once sought a higher position.
Jesus Christ gave me the Pastor position at the start. The Church grew, as
I held other campaigns in Eugen[e] and in Alvadore. Finally I appointed and ordained
two other elders, one a preaching elder and one a local elder, at Eugene,
beside two deacons. In those early years of this, our present Church, I
served as pastor of a Stanberry church near Jefferson, Oregon. There I
appoin[t]ed and ordained two elders, and two deacons — for THEIR
church. All the time I "GAVE" — I did not "GET."
Before that I had learned how Paul says, in II Corinthians 3:6, that we must
obey the SPIRIT or obvious INTENT of the Law, not the letter. I had dedicated
my life to "GIVE" and not to "GET." As the Work grew,
Christ used me in founding Ambassador College. After their graduation I
ordained m[y] son Dick, Raymond Cole, Herman Hoeh, Raymon[d] Mc Nair and his
brother. From there you know the history, Your uncle and yourself came along
about next, then others. I ne[v]er sought or moved up to a higher rank or
office. Jesus Christ raised up the Church through me. I came to the position
I hold as the simple result of what the living Head of this Church raised up
But others have sought higher Position. There has been, it seems, NO END
of worldly POLITICS at Pasadena Headquarters. As Christ blessed and prospered
God's Church and Work, and we came to have better than $100,000,000 of net
worth, and a near $80 million a year income, there devel[o]ped a mad scramble
for ever higher and higher rank. Sure, I made some mistakes. I naively
TRUSTED men like Al Portune, David Antion, my own son, Wayne Cole, many
others no longer with us. But now, f[o]r the first time since about 1967, there
is HARMONY and a spirit of Co-oper[a]tion at Pasadena. AND I AM DETERMINED TO
KEEP IT THAT WAY!
Now back to you.
You have demonstrated, as seen clearly by many others, a spirit of
rank-consciousness. In plain language that is coveting higher authority. I do
not think you have coveted more money. I do not think more money is what Ted,
Al Portune, Dave Antion, Ray Cole, Wayne or others really coveted. They
coveted POWER — more authority — like a 15-year old boy coveting
the POWER of a steering wheel and a throttle. We have gone through a House
CLEANING. We now have PEACE and CO-OPERATION at Pasadena. And eight to ten
others on the executive level there have voiced to me their fears and
convictions that if you now come back to Pasadena, that PEACE, and HARMONY,
and CO-OPERATION will be turned once again into constant contention,
irritation, and HARM TO GOD'S WORK! I do not like to tell you this. I haven't
mentioned this to all, but to those I mentioned your return, that is the
If I have you come back as Dean of the Faculty, several say you would
delegate most or the real duties of the Dean, and devote yourself to trying
to make yourself the LEADER and boss of the College, and even of the
Chur[ch.] You have — and all are aware of it — been possessed
with the idea that I will not live much longer, and that YOU are the
"FIRST among equals" to take my place.
Rod, in frankest candor, JESUS CHRIST will NEVER put any one at the head
of His Work on earth who is competitive, covetous of power and status, and
[self-righteous]. In brutal frankness, you lack the charisma to lead God's
work You do not attract-as I said before, you REP[EL-] people. You are a
harsh taskmaster over those under you. THAT IS YOUR RECORD!
When I wr[o]te you [<uncertain>] that a change of ATTITUDE is
needed, perhaps I have at last made myself clear.
You have said that you only said a few statements you probably should not
have made, but you didn't think you had said enough to warrant this six
months' leave of absence. Rod, I'm very well aware of the amount of words you
said against Christ's chosen apostle. But Jesus said, "of the abundance
of the heart (attitude) the mouth speaketh." What you did say, affirmed
to me by two witnesses, was sufficient, coupled with many other things, to
show me the [a]ttitude back of those words. You try to c[o]nvince me of how
glowingly and how numerous were the times you have shown loyalty by the
things you have said "hundreds" or "thousands of times".
But in this regard your attitude reflected [<uncertain>] OMISSION
rather than the sparse and sparing things you did say. Ted was leading a
conspiracy to destroy my credibility before the ministers and the brethren by
saying nothing about me — as if the human leader did not exist —
and blowing himself up. Radio and TV programs went under his name-no longer
The World [T}omorrow. He even started correspondence under HIS OWN [Letter
head] NAME, rather than that of the Church or College. Now I do not want any
of our ministers flattering me, or trying to see how often they can mention
But neither do I want it deliberately AVOIDED in both speaking and
writing, as if I did not exist. Jesus Christ — NOT MAN — has made
me the human leader under Christ. A leader cannot be a leader if all under
him IGNORE his very existence. I never did want anyone to go out of his way
deliberately to mention me — as you profess to have done. That is not
what I mean. But I do not want the other extreme, caused by a competitive
feeling, and deliberate non-mention.
Now another thing you cover in your letters. You imply that in what few
things you did say, you were FOLLOWING MY ORDERS. Rod, that is hypocrisy. It
is not a matter that I CHANGED MY MIND. Let me tell you how it [ac]tually
was. When I told you and Raymond, and perhaps another or two, that IF I were
no longer among the living, I wanted you to be su[re] Ted did not slip in and
take over. At that time, I had heard SO MUCH talk about my dying right away,
perhaps started by Ted, that for a while I was overly conscious of it.
It is not that later I changed my mind. But as time went on I began to
realize very deeply that God has not prepared ANYONE to take my place. You,
Rod, could never take it. I know that is 100% contrary to your own estimate
of yourse[l]f. You have a WILL to lead, but not the qualifications. I came to
realize that God raise[d] me [from the dead-f]rom total heart failure-in
August, 1977, FOR A PURPOSE.
I have felt like the Apostle Paul, when he said earlier in life it would
be more profitable for him to depart this life — and in the next
split-second of consciousness, be with Christ in the resurrection, but it was
more needful that he stay.
I did not CHANGE my mind. I did come to realize, as God caused me to realize,
that He had raised me up as His instrument to raise up His present Church and
Work — and that Work is not finished. So after my heart had completely
stopped, my breath — no pulse — no blood-pressure — by
mouth-to-mouth resuscitation I was br[o]ught back. I have not said I now
believe God will keep me alive until Christ comes. I have said and I say now
again, I do believe He will keep me alive AS LONG AS HE NEEDS ME!
You have taken the attitude that "some one GOT [you]." No one
did but your own self.
I have tried here to make clear what I mean by a CHANGE OF ATTITUDE. I
sincerely hope you "get the message" this time. Self-pity is not
your need. A change of ATTITUDE from "GET" to "GIVE" is!
If this letter does not get through to you, I shall not try again. So far you
have not admitted a wrong attitude. Your RIGHTEOUSNESS you have maintained!
But it has been only so much "filthy rags" to GOD! God said-rather,
Christ to His disciples, that he who would seek the top seat should be the
SERVANT of all. We should be as a little child.
So far, four months or more of your leave of absence has profited you
NOTHING! Rod, in a candor, HAVE YOU EVER REALY REPENTED? To repent means much
more than being sorry, or remorseful. It means a CHANGE OF HEART — a
CHANGE OF ATTITUDE — a CHANGE FROM "GET" TO "GIVE."
From competition, vanity, coveting power and position, to harmonious
co-operation. BELIEVE ME, there is PEACE, and HARMONY at Pasadena now. Our
men there do not want it disturbed. I have held up the mirror with BRUTAL
frankness-in LOVE not only for you but also for GOD'S WORK! The Work is
getting along wonderfully well now-without you. It can go on growing and
pleasing Jesus Chris[t] an[d] prospering under His blessing WITHOUT YOU. I
have written you are not coming back until I am CONVINCED BY THE FRUITS of a
real REPENTANCE, and CHANGE OF ATTITUDE. I hope at last I have MADE IT PLAIN.
In deep LOVE as a father to a son,
In Jesus' name.
Herbert W. Armstrong
Dean, Herbert Armstrong’s Personal Aide, Confirms Accuracy of Above
Letter on the alt.religion.w-w-church-god Forum, January 8, 1999:
have nothing to hide and don't mind if people ask what HWA thought. Some have
asked and I have answered these same questions before. People should not be
allowed to rewrite their own histories to their own ends.
happened in GCG is precisely why I couldn't join Global. I wish I had been
wrong. If it will help people find God and Christ instead of men, feel free
to use my post. It will probably bring some hate mail, but I have gotten use
to it as I am sure some of you are. I wish people could become zealous
instead of zealots. I have found you can become zealous for God, but only
zealots for men.
I edited my note a bit for clarity. It is below.
is the letter that was in Mr. Armstrong's files. HWA did talk to not only RCM
[Roderick C. Meredith], but others about how he was wrong about Stan [Rader].
Mr. A didn't apologize to people, and had other ways of
apologizing—some of which could be misinterpreted. His discussion with
Rod about SRR [Stanley R. Rader], I imagine Rod took to be an apology. Of
course he wanted to see it this way. To RCM it seemed either he was right or
SRR was right. Since SRR turned out to be a 'bad guy' RCM assumed he was
vindicated. This helps to justify why he maintains he should be in charge. He
never understood the issue was not about him and SRR, but him seeing himself
as next in line.
did not change RCM's problem, as you can see from the letter RCM's problems
stemmed from well before SRR. The fact that HWA never reappointed RCM to a
position of power shows that he knew RCM still had the problem. The COE
[Council of Elders] was never a power body, although many seemed to see it as
took the fact that those he disliked (and it is interesting to note they were
always the ones between him and the top) turned out to have problems, so it
seemed a vindication of his problem. Mr. Armstrong still felt the same way
about RCM up until his death.
thing HWA did say, was that "Rod will be personally loyal to me"
(HWA). Of course RCM wanted that same loyalty to himself, never realizing
that what HWA really wanted was loyalty to GOD. That is why HWA, amid the
confusion of the receivership did appoint RCM over Church Administration in
RCM began immediately to try to solidify his position as heir to the church,
and had to be removed within the year, and was never reappointed to a high
administrative position. It was RCM's own words that caused him to be sent to
Hawaii, not anyone else. I pray
that he eventually can come to see himself, just as I pray for so many other
self appointed leaders.
on the Previous Two Letters:
Armstrong’s letter was retyped from an old copy. A very few places are
not readable and are marked with “[<uncertain>]”.
were made in brackets [ ].
second letter is an Internet message by Aaron Dean saying that he knew this
letter was in Herbert Armstrong’s files and was written by Him. Rod
Meredith will accurately point out that a few months after he received the March 14, 1980 letter, Herbert
Armstrong returned him to the WCG Council of Elders and a teaching position
at Ambassador College. He also claimed that
Mr. Armstrong apologized to him. Mr. Dean has a different view here in that
he said Mr. Armstrong never apologized people and that the council of elders
was never a “power body”.
Mr. Meredith was appointed head of the College in Big Sandy, Texas. This
showed that Mr. Armstrong trusted him with a certain amount of
responsibility, but others will say that it was deliberately done to get him
out of Pasadena where he would need to
be to someday take charge of the WCG.
is my hope that the reader of this letter will look beyond determining if Rod
Meredith should or should not be the “successor” to Herbert
Armstrong—and see the bigger picture of the way these kinds of issues
were handled in the Worldwide Church of God. Please notice:
1. Mr. Armstrong’s letter is mostly
accusations about what Mr. Armstrong and others think Mr. Meredith is like.
It contains almost no specific incidences of sins on his part. How could Mr.
Meredith correct himself with no specific instances of sin mentioned?
2. Mr. Armstrong said Rod needs to take on a humble,
serving, giving attitude, but writes many paragraphs about his own importance
in “the Work”.
3. Mr. Armstrong claims he never sought a higher
office or rank, but that is silly since he always had the highest rank in his
own organization since the 1930s. In the March 6, 1981 Worldwide News, he
proclaimed himself the head of the one spiritual Church on earth under
Christ—no human had a higher rank. He never claimed that God had
somehow told him this—he proclaimed it on his own authority. Was it not
enough to be the head of the Worldwide Church of God? Did he have to proclaim
himself head of Sabbatarians he did not know? Also, he wrote of how he liked
to be with the “great and near great”. It is no wonder that many
who worked for him were “political” in nature.
4. Aaron Dean, who was with Herbert Armstrong almost
day and night for several years, said Mr. Armstrong “didn't apologize
to people”. This is a rather amazing thing. Is this a biblical
characteristic of a minister—or an apostle—of God? Paul said,
“We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed”
(2Cor 6:3). Jesus taught that there was a great penalty for offending
“little ones” in Christ (Luke 17:1-2). If Mr Armstrong received
his authority from God, how could his position be jeopardized simply by
apologizing for mistakes he made?
5. Mr. Dean’s statement that the “COE
[Council of Elders] was never a power body” is also significant. Mr.
Armstrong made many decisions that had great
impact on the lives of a great many people. He never claimed guidance
directly from God’s voice, angels, dreams or visions. Yet his official
counselors apparently had little influences on his decisions. “But in
the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov 11:13) The kings of Israel were all surrounded by counselors. The apostles listened to all the elders and brethren (Acts 15:22). Even when they traveled and taught, they usually worked in pairs. Mr. Armstrong
needed a good group of counselors.
6. News prepared for Worldwide Church of God members
frequently mentioned “peace” and “harmony” at “headquarters”
and explained “Christ was leading his Church”. But in fact, there
were frequent changes among headquarters staff and most of those were
associated with accusations and problems like the ones mentioned above—or
7. May Christ help all of us to better represent His
way and His Church.
— Norman Edwards