Some Truth About Ministry Fundraising and Finances Needed

You'd be hard pressed to find just one monthly letter appeal from HWA from the hundreds he personally wrote without hearing a need for more money, some great impending financial crisis for the work, or at least an emphatic request for bigger donations, lest one be found guilty of "robbing" from God's Work.

It's not hard to be critical of the effectiveness of HWA's guilt trip fundraising techniques, but he managed to get over over a billion dollars in cash donated over his lifetime. Indeed, he raked in a lot of cash without having to account for how he spent it, to the very people who provided it.

In more recent, leaner times, the WCG has become a member of the Christian "Stewardship" Association (CSA), turning to it for financial advice on how to "milk" the donor cows for the best yield. Dan Rogers (with little Joe, no doubt) and scores of WCG ministers have attended CSA conferences.

Articles on the CSA website include such stewardship advice as:

10 Biblical and Practical Reasons to Teach People to Give 10%; 10 Practical Ways to Help Increase a Congregation's giving 10-25% (or more); 7 Secrets to Teach About Biblical Giving (I hope keeping the financial statements and unincorporated association bylaws a secret isn't one of the 7 “Secrets”); 90 day Giving Challenge; 100 Stewardship Verses and Ideas; How to Encourage Generous Giving Through People's Wills and Estates.

Hmmm... Could David Pack or Gerald Flurry use the practical wealth extraction techniques found in any of those CSA golden "nuggets"?

CSA is having it's upcoming annual meeting at the Hyatt Regency/Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, NM Jan 31- Feb 2, 2998. Cost to attend the three day conference, with preregistration by members is $740.00.

Workshops and seminars hosted by CSA at the Albuquerque conference include:

How Data Mining Can Increase Net Income for Ministry; Ten Mistakes You Shouldn't Make with Donors; Developing a Personal Solicitation Strategy; Slay the Gospel Bird: Fundraising Banquet or Free Chicken Dinner; How to Acquire Even More Donors; How to Get Out of Debt by Applying God's Principles; Getting More Bank For Your Buck From The “Hired Gun”; and How to Add Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to Annual Budget Without Finding New Donors.

You can find a copy of the CSA conference schedule at their website here.

These clever modern ministry fundraising techniques have been criticized by Phil Cooke, a ministry media consultant to ministries and churches (unrelated to CSA). He has this to say about modern ministry fundraising techniques:

"For churches and ministries across the country, fundraising has
become a vital tool that ís used to raise the necessary money to make ministry happen. It ís a noble effort, because people need to understand that without financial support, significant outreach is
nearly impossible. However, in many cases, the tail has started to wag the dog, and some ministries focus on raising money more than their actual mission.
The science of fundraising has become a massive business. It has spawned financial consultants, direct response companies, fulfillment businesses, telemarketing, and more. Helping ministries raise money has become an industry in itself.
The fact is, the "personal" ministry letter you receive each month was probably not written by the ministry leader at all, but by a direct mail strategist, and designed by a graphic designer for maximum response. Today, color scheme, spacing, layout, and structure are some of the most important features of monthly letters and and the most effective fundraisers can even compare responses based on different colors of the envelope. They mail the letters on just the right day each month so it arrives when people get their paycheck either from the mail or direct deposit. Statistics prove that if it is only a few days late, the response will drop considerably. I've seen people fired from ministries because they mailed the monthly letter 48-72 hours behind schedule, it ís considered that important.
In fact, I spoke to one Christian fundraiser who said that the single most important thing is getting a person to open the envelope - and he would be willing to do anything to make that happen.

Even lie about what ís inside.

It ís important to note that I'm not against fundraising with integrity. There are some marvelous ministries out there doing great work because of effective relationships with their supporters and partners. But I do think you need to know how the business works, because believe me, it's a business, and they're trying to work you.

Here are some suggestions to consider as you pick up the next fundraising letter from your mailbox:

1) They have timed the letter to arrive when you have the most money in the bank. Giving will be easier for you, but that shouldn't control your decision.
2) The cute little underlines, exclamation points, and arrows that look like the writer inserted with a pen after it was written - weren't marked by a person, but a computer. Each one was strategically planned for placement and effect.
3) The amount of the suggested gift on the reply was calculated by a computer based on your past giving history, and often with the goal to nudge you to give a little more.
4) Even the color of the paper was researched based on past responses to that particular shade...
5) You're more likely to give because they ministry sends you something in return. Sadly, we wouldn't even need fundraising if Christians gave as the Bible teaches. So am I suggesting that we stop fundraising? Absolutely not. As I said before, great ministries are impacting the world because good people give. Plus, there are many gifted fundraising experts who are ethical and operate with utmost integrity. Frankly, I wish people gave more to deserving churches and ministries.
But I am suggesting we become informed givers. Don't be a ministry zombie and give on impulse for any reason. Give because you have researched a ministry, believe in what it's doing in the world, have confirmed its integrity and track record, and then prayed about the gift.

Giving for any other reason, is usually a waste of money."

With all the above in mind, I humbly present the:

Church of God

Donor's Bill of Rights

When you give, be sure the church employs standards and policies that assure you of your ten rights as a Church of God donor. You have the right to:

1. Know exactly how the funds of the COG organization are being spent, where Christian stewardship is not just a web policy for the sake of appearances, but an actual practice.

2. Know the salary and total compensation packages of key ministry, evangelists, executives, and board members.

3. Know what the COG programs you support are accomplishing or not accomplishing. Check and see if any outside ministry you are considering gifting to has a passing or failing financial transparency grade at www.ministrywatch.org.

4. Know that the organization and its employees comply with all federal and state laws, including tax regulations for nonprofit, tax-exempt ministries, including regulations against inurement or personal benefit from tithes and donations.

5. Be able to specifically designate and permanently restrict your COG gifts to fund a specific charitable or religious cause within the organization's mission objectives, such as helping widows and orphans, the sick, or the assistance of the needy or hungry.

6. A timely and courteous response to your inquiries about finances and programs, not incomplete or misleading Orwellian doublespeak about quarterly income and budget percentages as substitutes for periodic, complete financial reports.

7. Give without being pressured by the organization, or computer donation tithe-checked for loyalty or "member in good standing" roadblocks to HQ accountability.

8. Obtain a full copy of the ministry's most recent audited financial statements and charitable disaster fund statements - not a sanitized version with meaningless categories lumped together. Third tithe collected by the ministry and spent for that specific charitable purpose should be placed in distinct, separate categories on the financial reports.

9. Know that there is a responsible, qualified, governing board of members providing oversight to the church mission, accepting responsibility for board actions; not a rubber-stamp, unincorporated church association's board of elders, controlled legally by one man and one man only.

10. Know that all appeals for funds are truthful and accurate, and that conflicts of interest are avoided. Audited financial statements are absolutely not a "clean bill of health" or CPA guarantee of fiduciary integrity. CPA-audited financial statements can also hide church assets, real estate, gold bullion in Swiss bank accounts, payouts, or loans; provide inadequate retirement funding for employees, continue to "cook" the books, or materially misrepresent your COG's financial condition.

You have a right to timely, accurate, and complete sets of financial statements from your COG, and to know exactly how your money is being spent by your ministry.

Try tacking the Church of God Donor's Bill of Rights up on your COG's bulletin board or website, and emailing your ministry requesting financial statements promised to all COG members in good standing. See what kind of charitable response you receive in return for exercising your Christian responsibility.


Grounds For Impeachment

Raising the Ruins refers to an unpublished, sworn to tell the whole truth deposition of Joseph Tkach Jr., which may help answer some pointed questions about the distressed sale price of WCG's Ambassador Auditorium:

"Yet another legacy that was neither heavy nor burdensome. After 2,500 concerts and recitals, it was the Tkaches who shut down the famous performing arts series in 1985, saying they could not afford to subsidize the program and that it had “nothing to do with the mission of the church” anyway (Deposition of Joseph Tkach, September 8, 1998). “News of Ambassador’s closure,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “rumbled through Pasadena’s business and political circles like an earthquake.” The community was terribly disappointed. In fact, one reason it took so long for the WCG to sell the Pasadena property is the resistance that city officials put up over proposals to turn the campus into a residential community. “Our mission in the building is over; we aren’t going to keep it," Bernie Schnippert, the church’s director of finance and planning, told the Los Angeles Times in 2002. If it is not bought by the city or bought by a benefactor, the church will tear it down.” Quite a legacy! They actually gave the city an ultimatum: Either buy Ambassador Auditorium for the appraised value of 22 million, or else we’ll demolish it! In the end, city officials held firm and prevented the auditorium from being sold to a developer. This forced the WCG to divvy up the property and sell off the parcels piece by piece. Harvest Rock Church bought the auditorium in 2004 for a little more than a third of the appraised value.

After the sale, like a good politician, Schnippert’s tune changed. The Ambassador Auditorium has always been an important part of the Worldwide Church of God’s ministry, Schnippert told the Worldwide News. “We are pleased that this religious and cultural jewel will continue to be used for the glory of God.” He said this just two years after threatening to demolish the structure.”

Ambassador Auditorium's dedication occurred April 7, 1974. In order to help pay for the expensively built auditorium, the church had requested special donations for an auditorium Building Fund. Yet after the auditorium was finished, it was announced a loan mortgage was made for 100% financing. Mysteriously, neither Tkach nor his predecessors in office have told the Church where the Auditorium Fund money collected went or what it paid for.

When the Mystery of the Ages lawsuit phased into calculating the amount of money damages Flurry would be ordered to pay, the WCG had to submit into evidence certain facts regarding its financial condition. Flurry may be basing the sale price of the Auditorium based on actual knowledge of WCG documents handed over during trial. If what Flurry says is accurate about this, Harvest Rock paid only one-third of the appraised value of Ambassador Auditorium, or the paltry sum of $7.3 million dollars for it.

Some sketchy information has come to light recently from the WCG's commercial real estate broker on the total amount the WCG received from the sale of its Pasadena campus. But Tkach has not fully informed the church of the financial details of these real property and other important transactions; as in what happened to the collections made for the Building Fund, or of the debts, assets, or balance sheet of the church. Such unaccountable arrogance of the Tkach dynasty since 1986 is grounds for impeachment of the Pastor General. Sufficient reason, indeed, for the Pastor General to be ordered to produce the WCG's balance sheet, real estate asset sales and executive compensation packages right before Senator Charles Grassley and the Senate Finance Committee.

cc: Sen. Charles Grassley
Committee On Finance
219 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6200


New UCG Estate Building; United Landing $1.6m Texas Deal

It's 160 miles west of Big Sandy, TX; 168 miles south of Edmond, OK and and 132 miles north of Waco, TX on Interstate 35 and Milam Rd.
Just go east at the Milam Rd. exit, #473 off I-35 (notably on the southeast UCG corner is Love's 24 hour truckstop) and you're right there in the promised land.

What is it? It's land where God's new UCG headquarters building is to be erected!

The UCG land is east of I-35 on Milam road, south side, by the area marked "Hills of Denton Home Sites", in orange. (Catacorner opposite the red area on the photo marked "site").

As Clyde Kilough informs in United News:

The 81.5-acre parcel north of Denton considered a "very good value" at $1.6 million. Closing likely in early January. Further discussions of development plans set for December Council meetings.

We have been working for several months on finding suitable land, and the process gradually narrowed from several good options to one that is very suitable for filling our short-term needs, and also offering flexibility for yet unforeseen long-term options.

Here are the details:

• Property: 81.5 acres.

• Location: South side of FM 3163 (Milam Road), just east of Milam Ridge Road, Denton, Texas, one-half mile east of Interstate 35 (visible from the freeway), approximately 3 miles north of loop 288 and 7.5 miles from downtown Denton.

• Cost: $1,599,784, or $19,610 per acre.

• Appraised value: $1,710,000.

• Description: The property is outside of the Denton city limits (which simplifies the development process somewhat), with vacant land to the north, east and south, and a small subdivision adjoining to the west. The property is gently sloping to the south.

We consider this to be a very good value, not only for the specific site and price but for the surrounding area and future potential. It is, by the way, 15 more acres, for $100,000 less, than the Kings Row acreage we originally considered.

The future growth in the Denton area is moving in this direction, with four major commercial/residential developments all planned for the north and west sides of town, including a 2,000-acre project between Loop 288 and the Milam Road property.

Already under construction is a major, 412-acre mixed-use commercial/residential development approximately five miles south on I-35 that will include major department stores, Sam's Club, theater complex, restaurants, a 280-room hotel and a 90,000-square-foot convention center.

The appraisal states, "In conclusion, the market area has good access to all parts of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex via US Highway 380, US Highway 377, Interstate 35E, and Interstate 35W. It has a good single family residential base which is located throughout Denton, primarily on the interior streets. There is plenty of available land for development. The proximity of freeways and the dramatic growth of Denton are positive influences on the market area creating a good long term outlook for real estate values."

We have found a very good property with close proximity to all the services we will need, and for a very good price. We most likely will not actually close on the property until early January, but the Council gave its approval last week in light of a looming deadline for commitment. So, if anyone drives by the area, remember that it is yet private property, and please don't drive into it.

Of course, purchasing land is just a first step, and much work lies ahead. Further discussions about where we go from here with development plans will take place at the December Council of Elders meeting (which is scheduled for Dec. 11 to 13 at the home office).

Note to Clyde: So if the land is a cool $1.6 million, how much in 3rd tithe is the 1st building gonna cost?

Scroll through the facts on Denton, TX from City Data (link)


Can ORU Be Saved? In Green We Trust!

Oral Roberts University has been in a bit of a cash crunch lately. Who will come up with the green? Oral Roberts? Not this time.

To relieve that worrisome cash crunch crisis, ORU has been promised a gift of $70 million by Mart Green, the founder and CEO of Mardel Christian educational stores.

David Green (pictured left), father of Mart Green, is CEO of Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma businessman who founded the Green family Hobby Lobby retail chain, with one small store in the early 1970s.

David Green also happens to be who bought Ambassador College Big Sandy. He took this campus off the books of the WCG at a very good price through a purchase by the Green Family Trust, which owns the 390+ Hobby Lobby retail chain of stores Green built. (David Green then somehow wound up leasing the AC Big Sandy campus to evangelical Bill Gothard, who founded Big Sandy's Alert Academy).

Green said ORU will receive $8 million immediately to meet pressing financial needs. ORU is currently at least $52 million in debt, but who's counting?

The remainder will come after a 90-day review of ORU's accountability practices.

Green said that ORU must demonstrate "good governance'' before the remaining $62 million will be gifted.

Meanwhile, the ORU regents have voted to separate the school from the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.

''This has truly been a great day for Oral Roberts University,'' said George Pearsons, chairman of the ORU board of regents.

Richard Roberts resigned as ORU's president, but carries on as president of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, OREA.

In 2006, the OREA ministry brought in $12.7 million. While the evangelistic association spent most of that on its weekly television shows, direct mail, crusades and other outreach, many donors give directly to ORU because of the ministry, according to Roberts.

ORU received cash donations totaling $14.3 million from 173 persons last year. Most gifts were in the $10,000 range or more, including three of at least $1 million.

In terms of separating the intertwined ministry and university, out of 15 key officers and trustees of the OREA ministry, 14 are now key officers and trustees of ORU.

Richard Roberts has said the university and the evangelistic association cannot be separated and must not be separated.

Roberts said frequently, people believe they are giving to the ministry and make a check out to ORU. In those cases, the funds go to ORU, he said.

''I will go somewhere to preach or I will go somewhere for a healing service and they will raise an offering and they will make the check out to ORU.''

He said the ministry has traditionally raised funds for campus projects, such as the prayer tower or new carpet in the dorms.

Can ORU Be Saved?


Richard Roberts Resigns From Oral Roberts University

Richard Roberts in 'the bonds of Satan'?

Richard Roberts, president of Oral Roberts University since 1993, resigned from his position Friday effective immediately, according to a statement by the chairman of the school's Board of Regents.

Roberts and ORU have come under fire since a lawsuit was filed by three former professors.

The lawsuit includes allegations of financial malfeasance by Oral and Lindsay Roberts and other forms of misconduct.

Roberts, son of school founder and televangelist Oral Roberts, had taken a temporary leave before resigning from the evangelical university, fighting the accusations against him. The couple denies wrongdoing.

Richard Roberts is the CEO of Oral Roberts Ministries, an Oklahoma corporation. Robert's wife Lindsay Roberts is a director of the Oral Roberts Ministries.


ORU Hit With 3 New Lawsuits

Does Richard Roberts have a prayer?

A senior accountant for Oral Roberts University, Trent Huddleston was ordered to help school president Richard Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, “cook the books,” by hiding improper and illegal financial wrongdoing from the authorities and the public, a lawsuit claims, filed November 21st in Tulsa.

Huddleston was hired in 2006 and spent 15 months at the school. He was responsible for recording the fixed assets of the university and delegating them to several corporations formed by the defendants named in the suit, which include the Robertses, the university, the ministry and school’s board of regents.

Huddleston claims in the wrongful termination lawsuit that he was directed against his will to falsely list thousands of dollars as expenses rather than assets — which were spent remodeling the home of Richard and Lindsay Roberts — in order to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies.

He says the couple co-mingled and spent university and ministry funds, and that funds donated by one church were spent on the Roberts’ home.

He claims nearly $123,000 in expenditures were paid by Oral Roberts University and Oral Roberts Ministries for remodeling the home. He said more than $40,000 of university and ministry money went for a new swimming pool and nearly $5,000 was spent on a pool table.

Huddleston claims he was instructed not to contact certain departments or individuals about expenditures and was not allowed to question their authenticity.

He claims he was discharged on the day an audit was to take place. The audit was ordered by the school’s regents two weeks after three professors brought a wrongful termination lawsuit against ORU accusing Richard Roberts of misusing school funds to support a lavish lifestyle.

Huddleston’s lawsuit states that his discharge came “in retaliation for his refusal to remain silent about the fact that the defendants were committing illegal acts with regard to the finances of the various parties.”

Causes of action set forth in the lawsuit include constructive discharge, fraud, civil conspiracy, tortious interference with business relationships, naming Richard and Lindsay Roberts, ORU, Oral Roberts University and Ministry Boards, and Oral Roberts Ministries.

Two others were filed on behalf of ORU students Cornell Cross II and David Brown. Both claim ORU’s wrongful termination of the three professors, John Swails and Tim and Paulita Brooker, ruined the reputation of their degrees. Brown states that he cannot complete his degree at ORU because of Swails’ termination and is looking to transfer schools. Cross says an attempt to transfer will invalidate half the credits he earned at ORU.

“This was a complete, 100 percent destruction of the degree,” Cross said Wednesday.

The lawsuits come after more than 80 percent of ORU faculty voted this week against Roberts continuing as president at the 5,700-student school.

Next week, the school’s regents are expected to discuss that vote, as well as a similar one cast last week by tenured faculty members giving Roberts a “no confidence” vote as president, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit.


WCG Pocono Feast Site Condemned - Now A Corporate Business Park!

The Pocono Feast site has been condemned and is being turned into a new corporate business park - called Pocono Mountains Corporate Center East.

As many Worldwiders will recall, the Pocono property was originally a WCG Feast of Tabernacles site. The 247 acre site was owned, developed and constructed by the WCG with much unpaid, volunteer, "sweat equity" labor from the church. One year after HWA died, Tkach Sr. sold it in a very mysterious transaction to the also mysterious US Senda Corporation, which supposedly had intended to develop and market the facility. The WCG property deed wording recorded claimed Pocono was sold for just "one dollar" and other valuable consideration. Just what other valuable consideration?

Property taxes declared on the sale were far, far lower than the estimated sales value of the property, Tkach hasn't released the 1987 WCG financial statements to show what money the WCG received for selling off the Pocono property. After the WCG sold it to US Senda, the property sat undeveloped, and it endured periodic vandalism, making it a blighted property. Monroe County, PA completed a redevelopment plan and the redevelopment authority of the county began the process of condemnation of the Poconos site. It would be interesting to know who really owned US Senda corporate stock, what US Senda paid Tkach for the Pocono property and compare the difference with what US Senda received for the condemned site from Monroe County. But with the Tkachs not responsibly releasing financial statements of their secretive cult, it's anybody's guess what the WCG actually got for the Pocono property, that is besides "one dollar".

The former feast site project was unique because it was one of the few times in the Commonwealth of PA that a redevelopment authority has condemned property and sold it to a public entity, like Pocono Mountains Industries (PMI), for development. Condemned properties are typically sold directly to the private sector. A 54,000 sq. foot Mountain Health Care facility has already been completed off Rt. 610 in the business park.

US Senda was a subsidiary of a Japanese corporation formed in California on 2/9/87 - in other words, formed only weeks prior to the time the Pocono deal was completed. The CA corporation in question could have been was formed for the specific purpose of buying Pocono from the WCG. The Calfornia private corporation US Senda in the WCG Pocono land deal has since been dissolved and disappeared without a trace. Believe it or not, US Senda corporate offices in California were listed in the Pocono property sale records as strangely being located in a warehouse, right across from the WCG campus on the other side of freeway, opposite Waverly Drive, directly behind Mijares Mexican Restaurant. How very odd. John Trechak then discovered where U.S. Senda moved to (at 200 E. Del Mar Blvd. in Pasadena) the exact suite at which the Senda Group received mail is also an address where Osamu Gotoh and associates received mail!

Tkach Jr. undoubtedly knows how much the WCG was paid for the Pocono feast site; for what reason the mysterious US Senda corporation was formed, with offices adjacent to the WCG Pasadena campus; how this mysterious US Senda corporation got the winning bid for the property; and who really benefited from the sale of the Pocono site. Certainly not the rank and file members. But Tkach isn't talking, he's taking the fifth.


New ORU Charges Filed

ORU professors have filed an updated amended complaint in Tulsa District Court Friday, adding a count of negligence against the ORU Board of Regents, saying the Board has "exhibited a consistent pattern of negligence regarding its fiduciary and oversight duties to authorize and supervise" citing several instances of supervisory neglect, including the charge, that only 3 days after their lawsuit was filed, "the Board allowed Defendant Roberts to terminate ORU's financial comptroller - who had 26 years of service -- allowing voluminous materials and documents to be shredded and destroyed" constituting the spoilation of evidence, the lawsuit states.

The complaint also includes additional factual citations such as the University jet plane - a Hawker Siddeley HS125 Series 700A was rented in 2003 for five years, to the tune of $1,809,185 dollars.

Now, why couldn't Ambassador get a 'great deal' like that one? Such a steal!

Richard Roberts was paid $181,469 by ORU; more than $100,000 as VP of City Plex; and $41,530 by the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association; with other yet unverified income sources, the lawsuit alleges. (See Exhibit A, pg. 14).

Oral Roberts, father of Richard Roberts, visited and toured the Ambassador College Pasadena campus with his business manager in the early 1960s. It is plausible that he patterned the future ORU partly off this AC visit. He incorporated ORU in 1963, admitting the first students in 1965. In 1971 ORU applied for and became accredited. The hospital, medical school and law school later built were closed down by 1989.

Regardless of how much Oral patterned his ORU after Ambassador, Richard appears to be taking his plays right out of the WCG Pastor General's playbook.

Read additional details here:
View Second Amended Complaint


Scandal Rocks Oral Roberts University

There's trouble brewing up at Oral Roberts University - just 100 miles east of AC - down I-44, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. No, God isn't "calling him home" unless Oral raises at least eight million dollars. Three former ORU professors – Dr. John Swails, Dr. Tim Brooker and Dr. Paulita Brooker -- filed a lawsuit October 3rd in Tulsa District Court against ORU; son Richard Roberts, now ORU university president and evangelist; and three university administrators.

ORU president Richard Roberts is accused of coercing Professor Tim Brooker in 2005 to assign students and use university resources to work on a local Tulsa politician's election bid, Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller, in her bid for city mayor. That would be a violation of state and federal law, since ORU is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt, nonprofit church organization.

In January 2006, Roberts publicly announced that he was backing Miller for Tulsa mayor. Prof. Brooker said, "I was told to get my students and get down there and help Randi Miller." "We were told, 'Use whatever resources are at your disposal,' " Forty to 50 students worked on the campaign. The lawsuit alleges that Richard Roberts and ORU administrators intentionally participated in a cover up conspiracy to thwart an Internal Revenue Service investigation looking into partisan political activity by ORU. The lawsuit contends ORU gave incomplete, or at the very minimum, intentionally misleading responses to written IRS interrogatories. The plaintiffs allege they were wrongfully terminated, constructively discharged, or forced to resign subsequent to the IRS investigation; and fired in retaliation for forwarding evidence of other ministry financial wrongdoing to the ORU supervisory board of regents.

The lawsuit includes a summary of a report allegedly developed by Richard Roberts' sister-in-law, Stephanie Cantese, that claims the Roberts family used ORU and Oral Roberts Ministries money for personal expenses. Cantese works for Oral Roberts Ministries.

The lawsuit charges:

-ORU's corporate jet was used to take one daughter and several friends on a senior trip to Orlando, Fla., and the Bahamas. The $29,411 plane trip was billed to the ministry as an "evangelistic function of the president."

-Richard and Lindsay Roberts' home
has been remodeled eleven times in the past fourteen years. (Ed: At least third tithe wasn't used for the remodeling!)

-A longtime maintenance employee was fired so that an underage male friend of Lindsay Roberts could have his position.

- Lindsay Roberts - who is a member of the board of regents and is billed as ORU's "first lady" on the university's Web site - frequently had cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to "underage males who had been provided phones at university expense."

-Lindsay Roberts spent more than $39,000 at one Chico's clothing store alone in less than a year, and had other accounts in Texas and California. She also repeatedly said, "As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off." The document cites inconsistencies in clothing purchases and actual usage on TV.

Lindsay Roberts was given an white Lexus SUV and a red Mercedes convertible, insurance paid by ministry donors.

-University and ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts' home to do the daughters' homework.

-The university and ministry maintain a stable of horses for exclusive use by the Roberts' children.

One of Richard and Lindsay Roberts' children vandalized and removed athletic department equipment from ORU property.

-Lindsay Roberts routinely uses ministries security personnel during personal vacations.

-Lindsay Roberts awarded 13 non-need-based scholarships to friends of her children, two of whom had test scores below ORU's admission requirement; and more.

-The summary of the report in the lawsuit says ORU provides Roberts with housing and claims ORU also provides 13 Internet/cable connections, wide-screen televisions, hot tubs, a $15,000 stove;

-Other alleged expenses include remodeling of dorm rooms for Roberts' daughters, $51,206 worth of clothes, phone bills, a soda machine exclusively for the family, meals, airplane trips, vehicle rentals, and more, according to the lawsuit.

Dr. Tim Brooker said that days after the professors gave the report to administrators, Cantees called him and threatened that his wife would lose her job and his son would not graduate from ORU. His wife, Dr. Paulita Brooker, was fired, and department chair Dr. Swails.

Richard Roberts, son of university founder Oral Roberts, said he pays for his family's personal expenses, contrary to allegations in the lawsuit. Roberts issued a written statement outlining strict current accountability measures for ORU and Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association finances. The Roberts family's expenses related to ORU or the association are charged to those organizations, and the family's personal expenses are charged to Roberts, the statement says. "Any expenses, including trips, errands, food, etc., deemed personal are charged back to me and are paid personally by me on a monthly basis," Roberts said in the statement. An "independent audit firm reviews financial transactions and controlling procedures" and produces an annual report, according to Roberts' statement. Outside auditors also write an annual report on the compensation of administrators and their relatives. The board's and association trustees' audit and compliance committee receives the reports.

Not to worry, though ;-) Oral Roberts, 81 and presently residing in Newport Beach, California, may be getting ORU 'back on track' this time. Roberts routinely visits his father in Newport Beach and bills the costs of the trip to the university. Televangelist John Hagee, a ORU board of regents member, said the university's executive board presently "is conducting a full and thorough investigation." How comforting. On the flip side of the coin, however, the court filing quoted Richard Roberts as saying "if a Regent appears to give me trouble, I stack the deck..."


Tkach's God Blog

Joe Tkach Jr. has announced a new WCG blog in his personal. He invites you to go to here http://thesurprisinggodblog.wcg.org/ to make a visit to the WCG theology blog.
Even if you do not sign up, you can still submit a question there by sending an email to theologyblog@wcg.org. Don't hold your breath if you expect an answer to your question.
Certainly this is more of a move towards more openness, but I don't expect the impact of Tkach's secret WCG Church Association bylaws on its own theology to be discussed there. His Excellency, the lifetime Pastor General with the hidden six figure royal salary won't even post a public email address for himself, much less blog openly and responsively on theology.
Maybe the first order of the day should be to change the name of the WCG theology blog to something more systematic, as in some Plain Truth About WCG's Theology. Any suggestions or comments?

Brian Knowles' Plain Truth

Brian Knowles, writer, former managing editor of the The Plain Truth magazine, columnist to The Journal, has published an essay clarifying his stance on certain issues of late which AR readers may find interesting, linked here:

Of The Hunting of Heresy There Is No End


ABC's 20/20 - Enough is Enough! Ministry Watch

Is Ted's Fundraising Letter for Real?

Apparently, it is for real. Ted Haggard, former Colorado Springs mega New Life Church pastor with 14,000 members and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, featured in the dvd rental documentary Jesus Camp, and in The Root of All Evil, is in the news again. Haggard sent out a questionable fund raising email letter asking for money to provide two years of financial support so that he and his wife Gayle can loaf around studying psychology and counseling at the University of Phoenix. Can't Haggard take out a generous student loan to help support "the work" until the crisis is over?

As some background to the email fundraising letter, you may recall Ted made a public apology after a sex scandal forced him to resign from the church and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The WCG joined the NAE in 1977; Tkach Jr. is a board member of the NAE. (Haggard got caught having a sexual relationship with, and buying methamphetamines from, a male prostitute.)

Ted Haggard's New Life Church board released a prepared statement in November 2006 that stated: "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct." The board cited the bylaws of the megachurch and said his conduct compelled them to remove him from his job.

Pastor Haggard's former congregation has since felt the impact of the scandal. Since Ted's downfall and firing, attendance has fallen 20 percent and giving has dropped 10 percent. As a result of the decline, the church laid off 44 employees, or 12 percent of its work force.

Brady Boyd preached his third and final sermon Sunday as he auditioned to become Ted Haggard's replacement. Then more than 95% of members of New Life Church in Colorado Springs voted in a secret ballot Monday to select Boyd as the new Pastor. Brady Boyd was formerly the associate senior Pastor at mega Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. He was the only final candidate asked to try out for senior pastor.

Congregants showed an appreciation for his openness and honesty. Associate pastor Brendle said the staff likes Boyd's authenticity.

(What a pity the WCG, twenty one years after the reign of the Armstrongs, has yet to produce just one set of reformed WCG Church Association bylaws, outlining due process procedures which would justify on moral or contractual grounds the removal, selection process, and replacement of a lifetime employee Pastor.)

In the meantime, ABC affiliate KRDO in Colorado received a fundraising email from former Pastor Ted Haggard which has "raised questions about the non-profit chosen to receive his donations. The letter asks for financial support while Ted and his wife go back to school in Arizona. He suggests those wanting to donate, but need a tax write-off, should send it to Families with a Mission and lists a P.O. Box in Colorado Springs. According to the Colorado Secretary of State, Families with a Mission moved from Hawaii to Colorado in 2003, but then was dissolved for being delinquent in 2007." However, records in Hawaii do indicate the Families non-profit is in current standing in the state of Hawaii.

Ted Haggard reached an agreement with his New Life Church on a severance package which will pay him through 2007. His last reported income was $138,000, not including benefits. Haggard received a salary of $115,000 for the 10 months he worked in 2006 and an $85,000 anniversary bonus before the scandal broke, The Gazette reported. Haggard's severance package included a year's salary of $138,000, and he collects royalties on his book titles.

Records show Haggard's home, which has been up for sale, has a market value of $715,051.

According to his fundraising email, contributors to the cause can mail their checks directly to Haggard at his Scottsdale Ariz., address. But if supporters wish to make their Haggard donation tax deductible, they should make out their checks to Families With a Mission. Ted claims the Families charity will forward 90% of your money to him in Arizona and 10% will go to charitable administrative costs.

Poor Ted.

Watching the Sheep

MinistryWatch.com was recently interviewed on ABC's 20/20 with John Stossel regarding the lack of financial transparency among some televangelists. Some of these media ministries are much larger than the COGs of today, but nonetheless some of the same principles apply to smaller size ministries.

The ABC 20/20 segment may be viewed on the
MinistryWatch.com homepage.

Ministries are graded according to a set of fair, objective financial transparency criteria. Five-star ministries rated with straight "A" financial transparency ratings are listed here, while some of the ministries shamefully deserving a grade of "F" for financial transparency may be viewed here.

Currently, the Joyce Meyer ministry grossing $100,000,000 million dollars a year with $71,000,000 in assets is receiving a grade "C" rating in financial transparency from Ministry Watch. Find out why by clicking here.

According to a 2003 series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, her ministry spent $4 million from 1999 to 2003 on five Ambassador-quality homes for the Meyer family. Joyce and Dave live in a sprawling $2 million, 10,000 square-foot property with a large fountain, gazebo, private putting green, pool, poolhouse and an independently cooled garage. The Meyers bought several items held by an irrevocable trust in order to guard against financial problems in the ministry. Among them are a $500,000 lake front home on Lake of the Ozarks, a $107,000 Mercedes for Dave Meyer, and a $130,000 house for Joyce's parents.
In response to financial criticisms, Joyce Meyer Ministries have pledged to give greater transparency in financial dealings, publish annual reports, and have a Board majority at arm's length who are not relatives.

What grade would you assign your Church of God on financial transparency?

Also of note, the WCG has posted an edited video of participants
discussing the Palm Springs 2007 retreat on camera.

Philadelphia Freedom - Arbeit Macht Frei?

Philadelphia - Freedom Through "The Work"?

The Philadelphia Church of God's (PCOG) Edmond, Oklahoma headquarters may not evoke images of captivity and a world war, but the gated and locked church college compound entrances give silent pause to those who have concerns about youth, family or loved ones living under the control of televangelist Gerald Flurry.

The PCOG holds youth camps at Armstrong College during the summer trying to create positive public relations buzz in packaged news reports released to local Oklahoma news outlets. However, unfiltered reports from the direct participants of what actually has occurred at the camps have surfaced. Letters about the camps sent to ESN with a reported camp sermon tirade by Flurry may be read by clicking here. Concentration on camp sporting activities combines with mandatory bible studies, harsh discipline, and campers being closely guarded twenty four hours a day. Reports of sleep deprivation; completely exhausted youth; inadequate meals; severe dehydration, heat exhaustion; camp injuries; nonexistent, or negligent medical care; and of military boot camp type techniques used to enforce constant, severe discipline have emerged. The Edmond, OK church college camp is for those who are 13-19, whose parents are baptized members of the PCOG. Acceptance at the PCOG Youth Camp can serve as an indoctrination and recruitment tool for idealistic, religiously inclined church youth to apply to Gerald Flurry's unaccredited Armstrong College.

Other widespread concerns for family members impacted by the PCOG include no further contact orders with family, once family members are disfellowshiped by the ministry. Philadelphia church members are ordered to shun any contact with family members or others who have been excommunicated, or disfellowshiped for any reason, valid or not, by the minister. The slightest criticism or minor doubt expressed about Malachi's Message, purportedly written by "That Prophet" Flurry as the "little book" referred to in Rev. 10, is strictly verboten upon pain of disfellowshipment. Philadelphia church members are only allowed PCOG approved reviews of Malach's Message, Raising the Ruins, Mystery of the Ages, and other such church writings at such booksellers as Amazon.com if they wish to remain a member of the church. Nor are PCOG family members who are outsiders allowed to post uncensored reviews of PCOG literature or risk disfellowshipment and permanently losing contact with their own family loyal to Flurry. Personal letters of PCOG family members directly impacted and hurt by PCOG's no family contact policy or otherwise may be found at ESN here.

It is becoming increasing difficult to find out exactly what members are being told in the church about the last hour of the upcoming prophesied "end time". Lengthy, blaming, emotionally draining, doctrinally explicit, shouting sermons from Flurry are deemed to be much too strong for the public to stomach. As soon as Flurry's sermon cds are played in congregations, they are to be immediately destroyed. Sermon tape libraries have also been eliminated. (PGR 2005-12-10, pg. 3-5) No recordings are to be made available, or allowed, to set the record straight. What has Flurry got to hide by having his own sermons destroyed?

After purchasing the rights to Mystery of the Ages from Joe Tkach Jr. (including the rights to 19 additional WCG titles) PCOG tithe and contribution income did not surge forward as Flurry expected. Nevertheless, how is all that incoming church tithe money going to be spent? For starters, construction of new, luxury homes for his loyalist inner circle; a two story administration building; followed by an imitation Ambassador Auditorium for the arts. Flurry said about the tithe money expended for homes being built:

"I'll tell you something that, well I just want you to know the truth, what's happening, but we, we are in good financial standing right now. In 2003, this stunned me a little bit, we actually decreased in members by six percent. Six percent from 2002. ... When you think about that six percent decrease, brethren, and really it happened the year we finally won the court case ... it certainly has the stench of spiritual death. ... What about the six percent decrease in the members - what does that mean? ... What is going to happen to those people? ... It is about spiritual death. ... Six percent of God's family just died or are dying." [G.F. sermon, That Prophet, 2/7/04, tape1:side2]

"In 2003 we had a six percent decrease in members." [G.F. sermon, Spiritual Revolution, 4/17/04, side2]

Contributions after purchasing Mystery of the Ages from Tkach for three million dollars were not what was expected, in the following Flurry quote:

"Now in January 2003 we received $45,000 less income than we received in January 2002. Now again, brethren, I know we're turning it around, but I want to be very cautious and I certainly want to sacrifice for the work as much as I can. And they were about to start building my home, and I've just decided, well I'm going to put that on hold until after the holy days ... [G.F.
sermon, That Prophet, 2/7/04, tape1:side2
]-- we know one PCG member who lost her home trying to 'sacrifice for the work.' PCG members ought to visit Imperial College and see the beautiful homes being built for the PCG ministry inner circle."

Although the PCG instructs its members to pay third tithe (RV July/August 2004, pg. 28), a member who was seeking third tithe assistance was recently told "the church has discontinued that program." How so? An article in the church magazine "Is Having Insurance a Lack of Faith" (Royal Vision, July-August 2004, p. 28), subheading "God’s Insurance System" after quoting Deut. 14:8-29, states:

"In the Church of God, this is commonly known as the third tithe. Third tithe is a pool of funds that Church members pay into. It is essentially the Church’s insurance program for the widows and the fatherless...If the head of a household dies prematurely, his family may face economic hardship unless some sort of financial provision has been previously made. In this case,the third tithe is there as an insurance program to help the widows and the fatherless."

Checking with the Oklahoma department of Insurance, two Philadelphia named insurance companies licensed to do business in Oklahoma were located, but no such Philadelphia insurance company was found based in Edmond, OK. Any church member paying out of their current income, life savings, retirement funds, or probated estate in premiums to Flurry’s version of "God’s Insurance System" to provide for their loved ones, should they unfortunately predecease their spouses, may well be leaving their families financially destitute. Flurry may not have to live up to his part of the insurance bargain as advertised. Perhaps the anti-fraud unit of the Oklahoma Insurance Department might be interested in hearing more about "God’s Insurance System".

The numbers Flurry provides in his PG reports for are United States PCOG income. How is Flurry "tithe farming" going in Canada? Ambassador Reports has produced a unique accounting spreadsheet for the PCOG, which should prove to be of interest to the readers of Ambassador Reports, based on PCOG charitable reporting to Canadian Revenue.

The total contribution for PCOG Canada average is $1.39 million annually 2000-2005, per year. Refer to the spreadsheet for the actual income and expense reported. For those five reporting years only, that’s a total of $8,348,105 in tithes and contributions from Canada, as reported to Canada Revenue.

Of interest in the Canadian report is the amount of $215,258 due from directors, employees, individuals, and organizations not at arm’s length - in other words, unnamed PCOG insiders. While this could simply represent a legitimate loan from the Canadian PCOG to the parent corporation in Edmond, it does not specify who or what organization owed the money to the Canadian PCOG and for what reason.

Similarly, an amount of $46,779 was owed by the Canadian PCOG in 2005 to unnamed persons or organizations not at arm’s length with the Canadian PCOG.

Directors of the Canadian PCOG in 2005 who were reported not to be at arm’s length are also listed in the financial report.

Finding out how much the Philadephia church collects annually is estimated using the available Pastor General reports. Philadelphia Church of God tithe income averages in the twelve million dollar a year range annually 2003 through 2005. Prophecy does pay! A bar chart illustrates the major grouping of some reported expenses for 2005, the latest year Flurry disclosed PCOG-U.S. expenses. But no personal salaries, ministerial liability insurance, or employee benefit costs were specifically listed by "That Prophet".

Where is the most of the money reportedly going? Not for a personal, custom-fitted corporate business jet. At least not yet. The single largest grouped component of the 2005 budget is media broadcasting at $4,109,937. A quick tally of the latest Flurrycast schedule shows 183 local TV broadcast nationwide in the U.S.; and one local station in Vancouver, Canada. WGN and other satellite feeds overlap some international areas outside the continental U.S. Early Friday and Sunday mornings are the favored days and times for purchase. No lack of Flurry on the air, but is anyone watching "That Prophet?" -click-

View additional PCOG financials on "That Prophet" developed at the following Ambassador Reports link:

Philadelphia Church of God Financial Data

Packing In Those Canadian Tithe Dollars

Just what is David Pack's RCG doing in Canada?

David C. Pack, former Worldwide Church of God minister, affectionately known by many as the 'Packatollah', founded and operates a new kind of triple-tithe Worldwide Church of God based on cloning the old one- his very own Restored Church of God (RCG) knockoff brand from the Radio Church of God 'original'.

After parting ways with Rod Meredith, Pack incorporated his own RCG in Ohio on June 15, 1999. RCG headquarters is now located in leased office space at One Park Center Drive, Suite 209 in Wadsworth, OH. Pack appointed an initial board of three members consisting of himself as president, along with William P. Ambrose and John B. Holcomb as directors.

Pack then incorporated the RCG in Canada on December 23, 1999 with an initial address of 1006 East-West Line RR#2, Niagara-On-The-Lake Ontario, Canada. Besides himself, Pack appointed two others to serve for his Canadian board of directors.

Just how has Pack been doing since then? Financially, that is. The Canada Revenue Agency provided us with a peek inside the financial back office of RCG's Canadian church operation. Ambassador Reports has reviewed the last five years of financial reporting RCG has sent to the Canadian government, compiling a convenient summary of it for the first time on the Internet exclusively for Ambassador Reports readers to review. Here is the page link for viewing it (click on the following): RCG Canadian Financial Data, 2000-2005

As you can tell from the income section of the above website link, tithes and donations have increased in Canada from $76,976 (beginning in 2000) to $189,246 for fiscal year 2005. That makes for a grand total catch of $836,392 through 2005 in tithes and donations. It more than likely by now has exceeded past the million dollar mark on the RCG Canada donation 'thermometer'. Of course, the Ambassador Reports financial summary here represents just one Canadian slice of the total RCG donation 'pie'. It does not cover any tithes and contributions to RCG originating from inside the United States, which would be materially significant in amount by comparison.

What does the RCG say what is done with tithes and offerings donated in Canada?

"The Church prints, publishes and distributes materials regarding the church's beliefs and practises [sic] to various locations worldwide. In order to send materials to locations outside of Canada, the church employs the services of the Restored Church of God (Ohio), on behalf of the church, prints, publishes and distributes the church's materials." Source: 2000 CRA report (emphasis mine).

The 2005 RCG report mentions Canadians do get the service of one local ordained elder in Canada to serve the spiritual needs of Canadians who is "without remunerations", that is, serving without any pay.

The RCG also claims in the 2005 report that 85 cents out of a dollar donated goes to religious publishing and broadcasting, and about 15 cents out of a dollar goes to the support of local congregations.

RCG Canada, with only minimal assets listed on its balance sheet, is taking on the characteristic of a shell corporation. In compiling this financial summary, it appears the majority of the Canadian money donated is moved out of Canada and spent as the Restored Church of God packs those Canadian tithe dollars into its Wadsworth, Ohio coffers.

What does the RCG say about why it collects a third tithe? In an article on tithing, it states "Notice the phrases “the third year” and “the year of tithing.” The third year refers to the third and the sixth year in a seven-year cycle. The seventh year in this cycle is called “the year of release.” Every third year of seven during a Christian’s life, he is to pay an additional third tithe. This is called the year of tithing because this is the maximum number of tithes a person is commanded to pay."

For exactly what intended purpose does the RCG give for collecting this third tithe? It says further in the tithing article:

"Third tithe is used to support the needy within the Church—those unable to support themselves. This is a special tithe, in that it is God’s “insurance plan” for those less fortunate. This can be a child who has lost his father, a woman who has lost her husband or any person who has temporarily lost a primary source of income."

Helping those are less fortunate in life by collecting a mandatory third tithe might possibly be an admirable pursuit for the charitable purposes of a church. However, there is absolutely no evidence in these financial reports sent to the Canadian government of third tithe being set aside in a restricted fund or actually being kept in a separate bank account for the specific intended charitable purpose of helping the less fortunate. This is the way it legally should be held in trust to prevent mixing, or commingling of third tithe with general funds collected for other intended purposes, say for erecting a headquarters building or building an unaccredited school of liberal arts and theology. So for what is the third tithe money being collected actually being spent for by the RCG anyway? Jet travels to Petra, maybe?

Any legitimate church, which demands payments of: a 10% first tithe, excess second tithe, an extreme third tithe from donors in addition to first tithe, special offerings, a tithe of the second tithe, and firstfruits should to be asked to account for how every penny of third tithe was actually spent. Donors are being placed in the highly uncomfortable position of not knowing if it is actually being used for the specifically intended charitable purpose of helping widows, orphans, and the destitute as promised, or for less than honorable reasons.

Link: RCG Canadian Financial Data, 2000-2005

Tkach's Tithing Tactic

Is tithing voluntary in the Worldwide Church of God for pastors?

Quoting chapter and verse from the currently-in-force "WCG Administrative Manual", section 6375 (June 2007 version, source below):

"Pastors should teach that financial
giving is an aspect of worship. As teachers, pastors
should be generous stewards (it is the policy of the
WCG that all employed pastors tithe their income;
bivocational pastors are expected to be generous
donors in accordance with their income levels)."

It would be interesting to see what New Testament scriptural support, if any, Tkach claims for his policy of requiring WCG pastors to tithe on their paychecks.

Since tithing on their paycheck is required of WCG pastors, just exactly how would Tkach know his pastors were tithing, without doing a tithe check on the entire ministry? Does he run periodic tithe checks on the ministry to determine compliance with his tithing policy? On the HQ employees? And how would the the ministry know if the Tkachs themselves were tithing, without knowing the amount of secret salary the WCG pays to the Tkachs? Would WCG pastors check out the private donation records of their members to determine who is actually donating the most (or least?) in their congregation and district?

Herbert Armstrong repeatedly said, "Tithing pays off!" He also claimed, "This Is the Life!-Real Abundant Living!" True, as a means of financing WCG government, it really does pay off.

Perhaps this is why the current Pastor General Tkach believes in pastors tithing so much as an official WCG church policy. He has his pastors tithe on their own monetary income to HQ, to set such a high standard of giving for their congregations. Perhaps someday the Tkachs will become accountable on the WCG's complete lack of HQ financial reporting to it's constituent congregations. It would also be interesting to let Worldwiders know if tithing on pastoral incomes to the WCG HQ has played a key role in ending their HQ financial worries.

Your valued comments on AmbassadorReports.blogspot.com are appreciated and may even be posted anonymously should you desire anonymity. ;)


Source: Chapter Six - WCG Administrative Manual

Are Local WCG Congregations Following HQ Financial Reporting Policy?

A poster commented:


It's not just HQ that's not being willing to be up front with the membership about offerings and what's being done with them. The local congregations (at least this one) bears watching as well.

While we were just shown a budget for this year recently, we have never been told how last year's funds were actually spent. It's one thing to say you plan to do something; actually doing it is another thing entirely.

After our previous experiences with the WCG under HWA, you would think a minister would know better than to say give your money to Jesus and let it go, and expect people to just go along with it.

Thank you for drawing attention to this most important aspect of giving in the WCG, but not getting appropriate financial reporting in return.

You do well in drawing a distinction between a congregation's projected budget and spending with what actually takes place during the fiscal year. Rarely if ever do the two perfectly coincide. If the budget, donations and spending did match exactly, your pastor must be able to prophesy the future, well in advance. Even Alan Greenspan isn't that good at forecasting!

Ambassador Reports has knowledge of other members reporting that they can't get the HQ mandated local financial information from their Pastor. Dan Rodgers, Director of WCG Church administration, and your regional pastoral leader should be notified about this troubling situation in your church. Local church pastors must keep their congregations fully informed with certain periodic financial reports, not just how well the local budget is doing. If the pastor doesn't give after a friendly reminder, perhaps some further administrative action may be in order.

Tkach has demanded financial and administrative accountability from local WCG congregations through highly detailed rules and regulations in the WCG financial and administrative manuals. Part of his financial rule is to require local congregations to develop and locally approve of an annual budget which calls for electronic funds transfer of 15% of donations given ("apportionment income") from the local offerings over to the Glendora headquarters bank account on a set day each month. All the better to electronically monitor local weekly attendance and giving records! Local pastors salary and compensation is similarly transmitted electronically from Glendora back to the local pastor's separate account.

The manuals also direct the pastor of the local congregation and finance committee to keep the local WCG members fully informed in specific ways about the local finances, not just the lack of donations or if meeting budgeted expectations. The local congregation is to receive a certain number of stipulated, written financial reports with detailed information on at least a periodic basis. Summary financial information from the previous year is to be used locally to plan next year's budget. Your congregation may want to go above and beyond the minimum reporting requirement standards as required by the financial manual.

Chapter 8 of the WCG Financial Manual should prove helpful to you. Required financial reports of local congregations are described in this section, along with frequency of reporting and designated recipients in the pecking order. It specifically states that reports to be received by the congregation are to be posted on a bulletin board or in a bulletin or newsletter available to all members. Are you getting these reports through bulletin boards? Perhaps your local newsletter is getting filtered out as spam by your internet service provider.

Reports to be received by Glendora HQ are to be submitted electronically, through the Internet. If required financial reports become overdue by more than six months, HQ may audit the congregation’s records or take other appropriate action, charging your congregation for associated costs for the inquisition. Local congregations are responsible for reporting to HQ according to certain deadlines.

WCG financial reporting deadlines are:
Weekly reports are due by Tuesday of the week following
Monthly reports are due by the 10th of the month following
Quarterly reports are due by the 30th of the month following
Year-end report is due by March 1 of the year following

WCG Financial Manual

Good luck in your quest to get your Pastor to follow Tkach' local disclosure financial rules. You always have the option of not donating to an unaccountable Worldwide Church of God! What are they going to do, run a tithe check on you?

Scholarly Insights

Dr. John Buchner, former WCG member in Australia, was awarded his Doctor of Philosophy degree by the University of Western Sydney, Australia for research on change in the Worldwide Church of God. You may already know him from his previous work in compiling the most exhaustive reference bibliography ever assembled on the Worldwide Church of God.

John Trechak's Ambassador Report long ago justifiably praised the work of John Buchner and his exemplary efforts in contributing to genuinely scholarly research on the WCG. At one time, WCG officials had at first agreed to talk with him, but then all meetings were canceled for his research travel to the United States while meeting with leaders and members of other COG organizations. This change of direction came apparently on orders from Joe Tkach who didn't have the sense to see how Buchner's research could actually help the WCG, but instead wrote Buchner a letter turning the research down. Should you read Joe Tkach Jr's Sept 1, 1997 Multnomah book "Transformed by Truth", with his substantially similar, if not identical in many respects, 2000 Azusa doctoral thesis with bibliography, "An examination of the doctrinal reformation of the Worldwide Church of God" (available to anyone by interlibrary loan on request from Azusa Pacific Library), and compare it to Dr. Buchner's research product, you will understand the extreme irony of Joe Tkach turning down such a worthy research request.

Ambassador Reports is glad to see the WCG changed its mind on conducting research on change in the WCG. Dr. Buchner's work is entitled "The Worldwide Church of God: A study of its transformation in terms of K. Helmut Reich’s theory of Relational and Contextual Reasoning".

As to K. Helmut Reich, first a professional physicist at CERN, the world's largest particle laboratory, next became an APA award-winning recognized psychologist. He spanned both professional fields with his unifying cognitive developmental theory in his 2002 book, "Developing the Horizons of the Mind: Relational and Contextual Reasoning and the Resolution of Cognitive Conflict". Reich in his cognitive theory draws from complementarity theory found in physics, which theorizes how light may paradoxically appear both as a particle and a wave in the same context as a coherent whole.

Relational and Contextual Reasoning (RCR) goes beyond the conceptual premises of complementarity in resolving conflict to recognize the complexity of human interaction and transactions at a higher level of complexity. It begins at the elemental RCR of logical processing stage one, at an either/or binary level of cognition. (My notion on binary thinking is Herbert Armstrong commonly utilized it in his publications as a persuasive tool to circumvent critical thinking processes.) RCR can then progress in complexity through five stages. Stage five is relational and contextual theory taking into account complex relationships with multi-perspectives.

Reich's RCR theory is used by Dr. Buchner as a measure to stage the cognitive development of WCG leadership in regards to their level of understanding of the Trinity doctrine. In regards to grasping RCR stages, with level 1 at the beginning level up through level 5 (5 = highest cognitive level), may I humbly suggest you first take a look at the Appendices link below, at sections A-C for a diagrammatic, visual representation of Reich's RCR theory, followed by section E to take a look at the actual survey questions the WCG leaders answered in writing for the research. This may make it easier to have some background context on the RCR staging levels before reading the paper. Or if you care not to get into that much theoretical depth, just think of Relational and Contextual Reasoning (RCR) as everyday "reasoning" without getting hung up on the RCR acronym, and enjoy your plunge into chapter one.

By the way, this thesis is not exactly dry reading for Worldwiders -it is chock full of COG figures such as Herman Hoeh (who telephoned Dr. Buchner for the survey). Splinters and spin off luminaries are given coverage, too with interesting details to ponder.

After going through a lengthy approval process, thirteen members of the WCG ministry or administration responded in writing to fifteen survey questions probing their level of relational and contextual reasoning in regard to the Trinity. Joe Tkach Jr. and Mike Feazell are two of the thirteen who participated with written responses on the Trinity, but which two? WCG survey participants have had their identities cloaked, with their names replaced by thirteen phonetic monikers: ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, DELTA, through...MIKE - you get the picture.

Respondents to the survey are described as including: a very senior early stage administrator, retired senior WCG minister, senior WCG administrator, senior editor and retired pastor, longtime WCG writer, active senior WCG minister, editorial writer, retired senior administrator, and so on.

My guess is that Joe Tkach Jr. is identified as respondent LIMA in Chapter 6.

LIMA is described as exercising a prominent position in the WCG hierarchy. He received his early education in the WCG which helped form his thinking, and had an opportunity for secular work and study. This could be veiled language for Tkach Jr's work experience at Arizona Boys Ranch or Microsoft, followed by his secular masters degree in business. Exposure to mainstream evangelical theology could mean attendance at Azusa after returning to Pasadena from Arizona.

Either way, it's definitely worth a read to any Worldwider! Simply click on the following chapter links. Enjoy!

Detailed Chapter Contents, Abstract

Ch. 1 Introduction to the WCG and the Cognitive Conversion of Its Leaders

Ch. 2 Literature review of Helmut Reich’s theory of Relational and Contextual Reasoning

Ch. 3. Relational and Contextual Reasoning related to Christology and the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity

Ch. 4 - Method: the qualitative application of Relational and Contextual Reasoning to the case study

Ch. 5 - Results of Study 1: A review of opposing interpretations of the Trinity as a cognitive construct, and transition from rejection to acceptance of the doctrine, in search of an explanation consistent with Relational and Contextual Reasoning

Ch. 6 - Results of Study 2: Analysis of responses to a survey of Worldwide Church of God leaders in regard to their understanding of the Trinity, in terms of Relational and Contextual Reasoning

Ch. 7 Discussion and Conclusion

References and Bibliography

Appendices A-E