12/11/2007

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Raising the Ruins refers to an unpublished, sworn to tell the whole truth deposition of Joseph Tkach Jr., which may help answer some pointed questions about the distressed sale price of WCG's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



9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I approached Herman Hoeh in the balcony of the Auditorium one saturday and asked him directly his feelings about the looting of the church.

Mr. Hoeh quickly whipped out a card with a phone number hand written on it and under his breath said, "i'm sorry but i cannot respond to those questions 'here,' its not the appropriate venue, however if you call me at this number i'll be happy to discuss it!"

He never answered that phone number.

The reason is obvious to anyone who has been around or involved in litigation, "CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT!"

What most members didn't know is that wcg cut agreements with the top brass who knew how to stop them. Part of those agreements were a confidentiality agreement to "shut up and don't comment or lose your payoff."

This is the short simple reason that those big time evangelists who for 30 years claimed to be willing to die in the tribulation for the "truth," sat so silently while the tkach family looted the very church that the members were forced to pay for through fear and intimidation.

As i stated before, any wcg member could have filed a derivitive lawsuit to stop the looting of the church. The members were held in confusion by repeated lies and assurances that nothing would change.

Slowly, one by one, the members were drawn away by the very evangelists who were paid hush money, and enslaved again in spin-offs of the church they had already been forced to pay for.

helen said...

Actually, the California Supreme Court ruled just weeks before that a Church was not obligated to obey local or state zoning rules concerning its property "ONCE THE CHURCH'S THEOLOGICAL MISSION IS COMPLETE," otherwise the Church could be forced to a ward of the State.

Armed with this knowledge, Schnippert gave the city an ultimatum. In truth, in California, wcg was not obligated to keep or sell the property. Tkach could have had bulldozers just plow the buildings under and noone could stop it. That is California law whether anyone likes it or not. The case is Catholic Church v. City of Los Angeles and stems from the city of Los Angeles having forced the Catholic Church not to demolish an earthquake damaged steeple in downtown los angeles, where the Church wanted to build a new church.

Stan said...

Helen,

it's difficult to discern exactly what case or law you are referring to.

From what I gather, you likely are raising the St. Vibiana's Archdiocese of Los Angeles cathedral demolition controversy vs. the Los Angeles Conservancy, and/or the 1994 California State law that was finally upheld on appeal in 2001, I believe.

The LA Mission has this to say about it in a June, 2001 issue:

DOWN WITH HISTORIC CHURCHES. The United States Supreme Court on Monday, April 30, 2001 let stand a 1994 California state law that exempts churches and religious organizations from local and city landmark preservation laws. Without comment, the court dismissed an appeal from the California state supreme court that in December upheld the California law.

In 1994, preservationists in San Francisco tried to prevent the closure, by the archdiocese of San Francisco, of nine parish churches. Then assemblyman Willie Brown carried the assembly bill that exempted "noncommercial property owned by any association or corporation that is religiously affiliated" from local preservation laws.

[Ed. note: The WCG is an organized as an association at its very highest level, according to its own bylaws. Could the WCG have influenced the legislation for WCG's own purposes to include the wording, i.e., "noncommercial property owned by any association" when the Catholic Church is organized through the formation of corporate soles in California, not by an association?]

Bay Area preservationists and San Francisco attorneys, along with the Los Angeles Conservancy, challenged the state law in lower court. According to a Los Angeles Conservancy press release, "the plaintiffs believe the law unconstitutionally grants preference to religious organizations in giving these organizations a unique right to exempt themselves from inherently neutral preservation laws." The Conservancy also noted that that the law "could significantly undermine future efforts to preserve Los Angeles' sacred places." The lower court sided with the preservationists, but an appellate panel subsequently voted 2-1 to uphold the law.

The preservationists then appealed to the state supreme court, which in December 2000, in a close 4-3 vote, upheld the state law. Justice Marvin Baxter wrote for the majority that exempting religious organizations merely freed owners "to use the property as they would have done had the property not been designated a historic landmark." Justice Stanley Mosk, in his dissent, argued that the California law indeed violated the first amendment by singling out religious organizations for special treatment. Justice Kathryn Werdegar, a Wilson appointee, joined in the dissent, arguing that, "particularly in California, with its relative paucity of historic buildings and its population perpetually rich in newcomers, preserving what landmarks we have is all the more vital to creating and continuing a sense of community."

Ken Bernstein, director of Preservation Issues for the Los Angeles Conservancy, told the Mission that the 1994 law "does not eliminate every tool to preserve historic religious structures. The law in question prevents local governments from designating religious-owned properties as local historic landmarks in the future, if the religious institution objects. It does not apply to other levels of government -- for example, the National Register of Historic Places, maintained by the National Park Service. In addition," continued Bernstein, "proposals to demolish or drastically alter a historic religious structure would still be subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires that an Environmental Impact Report be prepared prior to demolition."

The Conservancy, said Bernstein, does not "have any current significant threats to Los Angeles religious structures that we're working on. St. Vibiana's cathedral, a past source of controversy with the archdiocese of Los Angeles, is now slated for preservation and reuse as a performing arts center for Cal State LA." If the law had been in effect in the past, though, said Bernstein, "we would have lost important religious structures such as the Breed Street Shul, an important historic synagogue in Boyle Heights that has been recognized as part of Hillary Clinton's 'Save America's Treasures' program. While the Shul's former rabbis wanted it demolished if it could no longer serve its former congregation (which had moved elsewhere), the Jewish Historical Society has rescued it and is transforming it into a museum on the history of immigrant communities in Boyle Heights, and a community center for today's Boyle Heights community."

d said...

Worldwide Church of God bought Azusa-Pacific University in 1995. Joe Tkach liquidated all Church of God assets to make the purchase.

Witnesses have declared that both Stanley Rader and Jack Kessler were seen and photographed in Glendora on several occassions while the deal was being consumated.

At this time former Ambassador professors are teaching at Azusa and Tkach owns property very near APU!

The new world headquarters of Worldwide is located on a semi-private street call Financial Way! In fact, its just a former industrial park. However, it allows Tkach to oversee the new empire he has purchased.

Stan said...

D,

I think it's fair to say Tkach bought influence with Azusa.

990 Tax forms filed as Ambassador University closed prove scholarship funding Tkach provided to Azusa Pacific University for selected WCG members attending Azusa: $395,000.

And that's only the WCG funds transferred to Azusa which can so far be publicly proven. Any deal made with Azusa, such as the Ambassador Center at Azusa, could have costed many times that base figure. The rest of the Azusa story is hidden underneath financial statements Tkach wrongfully doesn't allow the church to see.

Tkach wanted to get the legitimacy of an easy doctoral degree from Azusa. Azusa faculty probably wanted the money, students, and to influence the doctrinal direction the WCG took.

Anonymous said...

we heard from somewhere that the price was between $275 and #300 million and one of the conditions for the sale/takeover/purchase was for worldwide officials to publicly denounce armstrongism.

a high placed individual at worldwide was seen and heard to verrify and exclaim in shocked surprise that rader and kessler were working together, apparently involved in whatever agreement was in place.

these are the best estimates that have leaked out from behind the iron curtain on financial way.

Frank said...

My local church wanted donations for a church building, this is why I don't.

Richard said...

I figured the auditorium was closed because church leaders realized their changes would bring a big drop in donations -- either from the "tithing is voluntary" announcement, the mass exodus of members, or both.

From what little I've read of Raising the Ruins, I'm amazed by how the Flurrys use the book to attack the Tkaches. I mean, researching the Chicago birth records for Joseph Tkach Sr.?!

That's the sort of stuff you might see Presidential campaign staffs do -- but organized church denominations, who ought to be spending their time "doing the Work"?!?!

That's one reason I haven't bought the book. (Besides, in true Church of God tradition, won't it be offered free eventually?)

Stan said...

Richard,

As I think you would agree, it's unfortunate that a man of so many limited qualifications he made so many misrepresentations. Joe Tkach Sr. brought it on himself and the WCG by himself misrepresenting his personal background, work experience and qualifications, and knowingly allowing others to do so on his behalf while he was pastor general. It goes so far as to affect Tkach Sr's reputation for personal honesty and integrity. He was truly under qualified, to be generous, at least in terms of education and experience to be pastor general of the WCG, or president of an accredited college. Weaving tall tales about his exploits did not remove Tkach Sr.'s obvious lack of qualifications.


Tkach Sr., in contrast to the WCG biography he authorized, was born in March 16, 1927, not 1926; no record of having finished high school; no record of ever attending Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago as he claimed. He was never an industrial plant manager according to first person sources and records at Hupp aviation (but was only a low-level hourly wage laborer doing assembly); no labor strike occurred there in support of his sabbath keeping. Tkach Sr. lied about his war record to the Church and was not a WWII U.S. Navy hero as he claimed, according to his military service record, and this raises other questions about his deliberate deceptions on his resume, including his fictional 1926 birth date. After he was ordained a local elder by Dean Blackwell on June 3, 1963, Tkach Sr. did not “establish” ten churches in the mid west as his WCG publications maintained. Tkach Sr.'s major discrepancies as a "master weaver" go on and on to the level of deliberate deception - intentional misrepresentation!

Anyone interested in finding more about how Joe Tkach Sr. inflated and misrepresented his background, war experience, work experience and qualifications as pastor general can find more about it in Ambassador Report issues AR 42-44, by clicking the appropriate link on the front page sidebar.