Servants' News

May/June 2001

Letters and Responses

We print a representative sampling of our mail—both positive and negative. We do not include names unless we are fairly sure that the writer would not object. To avoid any difficulty, writers should specify how much of their name and address they would like us to print.

Who Is Toli Bohonik?

Letter: May 22, 2001

Hi Norm,

Who is “Toli Bohonik”? What is his background? Could you fill us in a bit perhaps in the next Servants’ News? It always makes things more interesting if you know a bit about the author.

Thanks,

— Beve, Quebec

Response: Toli began reading Worldwide Church of God literature at age 13 in 1962 and began attending it in 1968. In 1978, he married Candi Hamilton who had attended the WCG since age 8. Both graduated from Ambassador College. They left the WCG for the Global Church of God in 1994, then attended the UCG-IA in 1995. They have three children who have a commitment to following Christ and keeping “Church of God” practices.

Toli has spent a lot of time studying the Bible, history, and the teachings of various groups. He has an approach similar to mine in that he believes that when we look to find what God has done during the past 2,000 years, we must look at much of Christianity, not just seventh day groups. We believe God works through very imperfect groups of people—including ours.

Toli presently attends the Church of God Seventh Day, congregation Bethel (a messianic Jewish format) and the UCG-IA in the Seattle, Washington area. He visits other congregations as time allows.

— NSE

Thanks for Dave Pack Article

Letter: June 16, 2001

Hi Norm,

Could you let me know how I can find the Ambassador Report archives? My wife and I are very interested. I started to read them this spring and now can’t find them.

I do want to personally thank you for the article you wrote about Dave Pack in your Servants’ News. I was working as the head of Ministerial Services for Dave Pack at Restored Church of God and someone sent in a copy of the article. I read it and realized that what you were describing was what I too had seen as well; and I began to wonder what I got my family and myself into. The end of August / early September I resigned. Again, thank you!

If you want more information you may call me at [numbers removed] or read my resignation letter which I sent to the members at: web.raex.com/~shep/bill/munsonletter.html.

Thanks,

— Thomas Munson

Response: Ambassador Report archives are now available at: http://apollo.spaceports.com/~truth

This is part of the “Painful Truth” site which is very negative and hosts a lot of atheist stuff. I hope to make the Ambassador Report information available on my own web site someday.

I was glad to be of help concerning Dave Pack. A number of people complain about the “negative” writing that sometimes appears in Servants’ News, but sometimes it is a life-saver for some people. Several people from Dave Pack’s group told me they were greatly helped by the Jan/Feb 2000 article (see page 20). It saved them from many more frustrating months or years of learning that not everyone who claims to be “God’s minister” is God’s minister.

I have considered taking your resignation letter and letters from many other people and making a thick document exposing him, but I do not believe it would be worth the time. The whole issue revolves around people who have already decided that some man is “God’s representative” and that questioning his actions would be like “questioning God”. When a person’s mind is set like that, a two-page letter or a 100-page book of evidence against the leader does not matter. People with faith in a man will not normally listen to anything against their leader. Only when they perceive a problem with the leader on their own will they sometimes listen to another’s evidence against him. (Sometimes, God simply opens their mind to see the problems.)

David Pack is very diligent to “do the work”, but he has greatly expanded the erroneous idea I saw used in the WCG and GCG: “whatever I do for the work is all right with God, God’s law doesn’t matter—the end will justify the means.” This idea is unbiblical. Now that he no longer has any man that he must report to, he acts completely without restraint. People who work with him see this after a year or two and leave. It is funny, but in one way Mr. Pack and I both perform the same service for many former WCG members: We both teach against hierarchical government. I teach from the Bible and scriptures, Dave teaches by the experience he gives people.

Unfortunately, people away from his headquarters who primarily only hear his sermons and read his booklets may not see the problem for years. I frequently pray that these people will have an encounter with their leader and be able to see him as he really is.

— NSE

Subscriber Turns Whites Out

Letter: May 29, 2001

Dear David Heslin [Servants’ News, Australia],

Reading through your Servants’ News, I have to point out that your magazine is used by people who are unaware of God’s truth within scripture. I can’t and will not agree with Linda Hardy White, as a woman myself, and aim to obey the teaching of God, not man or woman. If Jesus Christ wanted any of the Mary’s to become preachers, Christ would have inspired the apostles to write about it in God’s true word, the Bible. When Judas betrayed Christ to be put on death on a tree, why didn’t the true apostles select one of the Mary’s to replace Judas? Question “why”. Think.

Also, reading your news reports, one seems that many church brethren are always trying to put down a brother. I always wonder. Do they pray or do they study?

I think Linda Hardy White wants to adopt or bring in the religion of Protestantism like the Worldwide Church of God. I was reading about a long standing Church of God member, stating there was a person before Adam. Craig White, a South African born, states that after the floods of Noah, the Aboriginal Peoples were the first to land on Australian soil. Was Craig White in the ark with Noah? I think these people like to be heard. Please cancel my Servants’ News.

— Australia

Response: I think it would be safe to say that you have been offended by what you have read in Servants’ News. The Bible mentions at least two ways that a person can become “offended”. Sometimes it is other people who do it, and Christ is unhappy with that:

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1–2).

Other times, we can become offended by what Christ does:

And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me (Matt 11:6).

When we are offended at some man’s or woman’s teaching, it may be from either one of the above two causes: they are teaching error that offends us, or they are teaching truth that we don’t understand yet and that offends us. Important issues like the ten commandments and the death of Christ can be clearly understood from the scripture and we should reject people who teach against the simple scriptural teaching. When we ask questions about Mary teaching, or who were the first people to come to Australia, we must realize that the Bible does not say much one way or the other. There is nothing wrong with theorizing about history, as long as it is clearly labeled as “theory” and those who look for support for it are honest. Historical theories frequently give rise to additional investigations, archeology, translations, etc. If new findings support old theories, they may eventually be considered fact; but if not, then the old theories should be honestly discarded.

Gal 6:1 indicates that spiritual people should attempt to restore those who are sinning. If someone’s writing offends you, you can go to them directly as in Matthew 18:15–17. If you can not reach them via the addresses or e-mail provided in Servants’ News, then please send the letter directly to us, and we will make sure that it is forwarded to them.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (Psalm 119:165, KJV).

— NSE

WCG to Pay Reparations?

Letter: Dec 25, 2000

Greetings Norman Edwards:

I received a copy of HWA’s member letter dated March 30, 1970, asking the brethren to take out loans and send the money into “the work”. The letter also states that HWA said he put “our airplanes up for sale”. I want to thank you for responding to Myra McQueen’s request to help The Bible Expositor’s project here in Arcadia, California.

In your comment to Myra, you said, “I am not interested in obtaining any of the WCG’s money”! Neither are we, Mr. Edwards— that’s not our goal. All we want to do is, if possible, “convict” the present leadership of the WCG that many people have suffered “serious loss” due to the deliberate lies and abuse by the former leaders and that some, not all, of the proceeds should be considered as “reparations” for those defrauded in the most egregious ways! Needless to say, this will not be an easy thing to do. We’re hoping that any legal action can be avoided. But if unavoidable, it will be necessary for us to make our case with facts, not fantasy. Hence, any ideas you might have which can be sent to us which could be backed up by facts, would be deeply appreciated. Once again, this is not a “vengeance hate” project.

Response: I think that the present WCG leadership would agree that members were abused in the past, but probably not agree that they are continuing to abuse the members in the present. They used many lying tactics to gradually subvert the WCG membership away from some of the truth that they had. They would go into church areas and tell the local leadership that they were not sure of everything they wrote in the “God Is…” booklet and would like their honest input. Then those who honestly disagreed with it would, after a couple weeks, find themselves off of the local speaking schedules. The WCG still seems to have no love for those who have left her. Their present members can visit other churches (or pagan temples) as much as they want without problems, but are frequently disciplined if they visit another Church of God group and then come back to the WCG and talk about it.

I do not think you will be able to get the WCG to voluntarily give up anything. You will have to go to court.

Letter: The church’s property escrows (including Ambassador College) are scheduled to close in late January and $100,000,000.00, more or less, will be in the church coffers. We have no way of knowing whether Stan Rader is still involved in “the work” but we suspect he is and that’s bad new for everybody! We received a phone call from a minister by the name of Dave Pack a few months ago and he told us Rader was still drawing $250,000.00 in retirement. If true, you can be sure Rader is still involved and will have some kind of a vested interest in the $100,000,000.00.

Response: Dave Pack has told people that I was planning to sue him—which is a complete invention on his part. I have heard dozens of others complain that he has invented things about them. He is not a reliable witness. Why should anyone worry about whether Stan Rader will get some of the money or not? If you hired an attorney and won a big judgment, your attorney would get a big chunk of it. Is it somehow more or less righteous for Stan Rader, Joe Tkach, Herbert Armstrong or anyone else to squander the money? I remember Stan Rader being asked about the extravagant lifestyle that he and Herbert Armstrong led, during the 1979 receivership crisis. He said that the members knew about it and loved it—that it was a type of the Millennium. At the time, I knew that was not Biblical—New Testament leaders never did anything like that. But I did nothing about it because this was “my church” and I was going to defend it.

Letter: If legal action is the only possible remedy, we will need people with “standing” to initiate the court action. Most former members of the WCG have been in kind of a “crisis shock” since separating from “mother church” and might not want to get involved. We set the stage in our last three issues of The Bible Expositor with one last issue to come which should impress upon the present leaders of the WCG to acknowledge their responsibility in this matter. Legal action would be the last possible course of action on our part and, if absolute necessary, we hope it would be more than just a futile exercise in harassment.

Response: Please realize that you are not the first person to try to recover money from the WCG in this way, and that there are literally hundreds of cases like this for people trying to recover money from other churches and charities. Also, please realize that there are statutes of limitation for collecting debts. They vary from state to state and for type of debt, but if you had a clear promissory note that said someone owed you $100,000,000, but you could not show that you had made any efforts to collect it for 30 years, you would probably be unable to collect it now. Since WCG members have no such clear instruments, but are simply going to have to claim that they are owed money somehow, a court is going to ask, “why haven’t you been trying to collect this before?” It will simply see the complaints as “the WCG has money and you want some.”

Letter: At court, we would ask a judge to restrain (a temporary injunction) the church from using the funds until notices could be placed in newspapers throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia-Philippines seeking those former members who have not been repaid loans and who may have lost their homes or farms by so doing. Remember, Armstrong said “it was a serious recession” when he asked for the money. Was it also a “serious recession” for those who borrowed, put their homesteads up for collateral, and may have been unable to repay due to that recession? Also, any who have suffered serious loss due to the healing doctrine which was promoted, but hypocritically ignored, by the leaders at their whim and caprice. These notices would be placed for at least one week in any one newspaper. A reasonable period of time would be imposed (30–60 days) in order for the people to respond. In addition, any ex-members who have suffered serious loss in other ways not mentioned above. Naturally, the respondents would have to have documentation of some kind (witnesses, letters, testimony, etc.), to verify their losses.

Response: Courts have long held, and I believe rightly so, that when someone sends money to a church or charity to further their purpose, that that money has been given and cannot be recovered. Otherwise, churches and charities could never spend the money they receive—they would have to hold it in an account in case the giver ever wanted it back. The only exception to this is if the money were given for a specific purpose and it was not used for that purpose. The reality of the WCG is that nearly all of the money was given “unrestricted”, no specific purpose was stated. What little had a purpose attached (“building fund”, for example), the WCG easily spent more than that amount of money in that area, so it is almost impossible to recover money on these grounds. Besides, these kinds of records usually do not need to be kept for more than 7 years—so such a suit is no longer possible.

I believe that if a court were willing to take on this issue that it would be an utter violation of freedom of religion. If a person believes that they should give all of their money to do “God’s work”, or if they believe they should trust God for healing rather than seek medical help, the state should not interfere. I think the WCG leaders will have to answer in God’s judgment for preaching what they did not practice, but I do not think the courts of this world should be the ones to decide whether a church’s doctrines are valid. If a church organization were to physically threaten people, then the state should intervene. But if an organization is teaching false doctrine, it should be the responsibility of the members to see it and leave. It should also be the responsibility of righteous people to minister to those oppressed by cults and help them out of them. Those of us who have been through this should have the love to help others still in the same difficulty.

Letter: That’s why we appreciate anything you folks could do for us in the way of any creative ideas or material facts you might have in your archives like the member letter to the brethren dated March 30, 1970, which you were so kind to send us. Once again, thanks! The packet you sent me several months ago is outstanding and I appreciate the mini-article on my PT article which HWA used for his book, Mystery of he Ages! It really did happen that way, believe it or not!

With Kind Regards and Christian Love,

— Bernard H. Kelly, Calif., bhkell@juno.com

Response: I appreciate your efforts to tell the truth about the past. So many long-time WCG ministers will not tell the truth about the past. The reason they usually give is that it would cause some people to “give up on God and lose out on salvation”. In reality, telling the truth would cause some people to “give up on the CoG leaders”, and then they would lose out on some income”.

“For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:22–23).

I think trying to collect money from the WCG is a spiritual mistake. The whole lesson we should have learned is that doing the work of God is not about money—it wasn’t then and it isn’t now. We mistakenly gave huge amounts of money thinking we were doing the work of God. If we did it in faith, we should have no regrets about it. But now we can see that rather than believing the false assurances from these men that our “staying in their church” would take us to the “place of safety” and the Kingdom, we should have been reading our Bibles and looking to God.

Today, we need to concentrate on the spiritual recovery of former WCG members. They do not need the WCG’s money—they are not going to take it into the Kingdom of God. But unfortunately, far too many people who entrusted their spiritual life to the WCG for many years are now simply entrusting it to a different group (be it large or small). They desperately need to understand that they are first a believer—apart from any organization—and that secondarily they meet with other believers to learn and to work together to preach the Gospel.

If you believe that God has stirred you up to cause the WCG to pay this money, then pursue it diligently. But I do not believe He wants me to do it, nor can I recommend that path to anyone else.

— NSE

More on WCG Reparations

Letter: Dec 27,2000

Greetings Norm Edwards:

Thanks for your reply!

I absolutely agree with you that courts shouldn’t take on issues that would “utterly violate” the freedom of religion. Further, I agree that courts shouldn’t decide if church doctrines are valid. Lastly, you are absolutely correct in saying that, “Doing the work of God is not about money”.

Norm, we are talking about Biblical examples of “Reparations” not the “returning of tithe and offerings”! These reparations would be the kind that Jesus Christ sanctioned, applauded and praised (Luke 19:1–9). You recall that the Japanese paid “reparations” to the Korean woman they used as “comfort woman” (sex slaves) for their troops in World War II. You recall, the U.S. government paid “reparations” (I believe $10,000 ea.) to Japanese who were held at “detention camps” here in California during the entire period of World War II.

Response: You have well illustrated the difference between situations like the above that deserve reparations and the WCG. When Zaccheus (Luke 19) overtaxed people, they probably knew it, but what could they do? He had the power of Rome, and they were Israelite subjects. The Korean women and the detained Japanese knew they were being forced against their will as soon as it happened, but there was nothing that they could do.

Whereas, most WCG brethren wanted to pay their tithes, avoid doctors and do other things and had no idea that they were “wronged” until many years later. Some of them, to this day, believe that they were blessed for paying several tithes and avoiding doctors—and that may be true in many cases. I also know that some church members went bankrupt and got sick or died of a disease that could have been medically treated. The WCG never promised that they would give health or prosperity based on members obedience, they promised that God would, and they had examples of where it happened (and concluded that the people who suffered must have been sinning). But can anyone sue someone based upon how God performs?

Letter: The concept would be to pay “reparations”—a valid principle of which the world knows and respects. What we would ask you and others is to “funnel” names of people you know who might be candidates for these reparations. Let me give you an example of such a person who might receive “reparations” from the Worldwide Church of God.

In or around 1970, a couple living in Big Sandy were visited personally by Roderick Meredith and told they were living in “sin”! The local minister had previously told these older people they could live as “brother and sister” if they wouldn’t spread it around in the local churches and just “keep their mouths shut” because their D&R situation was “problematic”—meaning it really hadn’t been completely ruled on. But Meredith came to town, heard about their “problematic” situation, and decided to interfere and go over the head of the local Minister who had handled the situation prudently and wisely. Meredith was, “third in the Universe”, you know, and just had to “exercise authority”!

These were kind, old, veteran members of the church and were sensitive! “Heinrich Himler” Meredith blustered in and gave them an ultimatum consistent with his “SS” storm trooper mentality! A few days later, the older confused gentlemen committed suicide by locking himself in his running garaged car with a hose attached to the exhaust pipe stuck through one of the cars windows. The old lady was devastated as were their children!

Response: I don’t know anything about this incident, but if it is true, it is indeed awful. Nevertheless, I am not sure that the WCG would be responsible if its employee was acting beyond the scope of his instructions. Even so, he was giving religions advice, not physically forcing or threatening somebody. If an abortion doctor came to God and then asked me if I think God would want him to quit his job, I would say, “yes”. Suppose that he has trouble finding another job, falls behind on his payments, loses his house, and is divorced by his wife. Suppose he gives up on God. Should he be able to sue me for reparations because I gave him advice that turned out “bad”, in his view?

I do not think courts should make these kinds of religious decisions.

Letter: Another candidate for “reparations” would be the young man I discussed in the June 9th issue of The Expositor! He was the victim of the first sanctioned divorce among two graduates of Ambassador College. As such, he lost his house, his wife, his children, and his job! All because GTA was having an affair with his Falcon Jet stewardess and wanted to divorce his wife! Ted needed a “precedent” first! He got it! Next Ted needed a precedent among the ministry! He got it with Raymond McNair’s shameful debacle using 1 Corinthians 7, and Deut. 7, along with Ezra’s so called example as mentioned in the July 31 issue of the Expositor! It was GTA who orchestrated the laughable 1974 D&R Ministerial Conference and truly “screwed up” the church. It all came out in the Leona McNair “libel” trial of 1984.

Norm, I could go on and on! Our mission is not to have Tithes & Offerings returned! It is rather to have biblically sanctioned reparations exacted upon an acknowledged corrupt church in the same way that reparations were exacted on a corrupt Japanese government and an act by the US Government which may have been unconstitutional! What we are asking you to do is to “funnel” any names of people to us, right now, who you know might be candidates for legal, righteous, and for them, needed Reparations!

In the meantime, please send us the cost of putting an ad in your publication for this purpose. It would also be OK with us for you to reproduce part or all of the Expositor’s last three (and fourth to come out soon) issues which sets the stage for our action if action is ultimately needed!

With Kind Regards,

— Bernard H. Kelly, bhkell@juno.com

The Bible Expositor,
130 W Huntington Dr # 120,
Arcadia, CA 91007-3025;
626-446-5211 x120

Response: I do not accept ads, but anyone who wants can contact you, above.

Restitution or reparations are certainly taught in the Bible, but usually the individual who caused the damage pays them. In a few cases, the families have paid for the sins of the fathers, and sometimes nations pay for past national sins. In the case of the Worldwide Church of God, we have a corporation. The Bible has no laws for corporations. When Mr. Armstrong left all of the wealth of the Worldwide Church of God in a corporation, it was like sticking all of the money in an envelope, giving it to Joseph Tkach and saying, “play keep-away!” Whoever holds the envelope controls the money and everyone else chases him. In reality, whoever controls the corporation controls the money.

Herbert Armstrong is dead, his family does not have his wealth, and the WCG no longer teaches his doctrines. The offending ministers that you named are not part of the WCG and do not presently possess any significant part of its wealth (or wealth of their own as far as I know). Joe Tkach, Jr. can honestly say that he was opposed to many of the WCG’s teachings and methods during the 60s and 70s.

Reparations are supposed to punish the person who has to pay them and reward the person who received them. Those that you are suggesting do not do either one. While Joe Tkach, Jr. may have caused problems of his own, he did not cause the ones you described here. It is probably too late to do any good for the people who suffered as you described.

It might have helped them to have $100,000 right after the abuse occurred—it would have given them a way to start a new life. But those who suffered, who are still alive, and who have found a way to continue will probably not be helped with a sudden windfall of money. Such things frequently cause people to lose friends rather than gain them.

If there is any lesson that we can learn from this, I think it is to work diligently to try to help other people who are in hierarchical religions. We can still get to them in time to make a big difference in their lives.

— NSE

The Holy Scriptures Bible

Letter: June 27, 2001

I received the materials you sent and am busy reading. Very good articles. I found an article about The Holy Scriptures Bible version that you will be offering free. As you know, I am disabled and can’t afford to buy a new Bible. The two I have been using have fallen apart from age and use. It would be nice to have a Bible in one piece that I can take with me to meetings without having to take the rubber bands off of to open and having parts of it falling all over the place. I had hoped to get them both repaired, or better yet, find a way to do it myself but they may be too far gone for even that. It would be so helpful to have one that stays together.

I like what was explained about Rabon Vincent trying to clarify the various translations.

If it is possible, could I be considered for receiving a hard copy of one of these Bibles? I feel badly that I can’t pay anything but I do refer people to your site. If I ever do have a spare few dollars, I will send them to you. You are operating a valuable site and service. If only more people could, and would, listen.

Thank you,

— Alice, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Besqa@earthlink.net

Response: Thank you very much for asking. After spending some time studying about the many people who worked hard, and others who died trying to make the scriptures available to everyone to read, I am glad to send a Bible to someone who is having a difficult time obtaining one. The Holy Scriptures Version is not the best of bindings, but it should last as long as any other paperback book. At this time, I feel it is one of the best translations available for general reading. I am glad that others are making it possible to give away this Bible.

— NSE


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