To Set The Record Straight - Again!

WCG Together has added a belated notation - an explanation if you will - to the glaringly inconsistent WCG membership numbers it published in its January-February 2008 Together edition. The Together web page now tries to wave the numerical contradictions completely away with a note that says it was based on a PowerPoint presentation in Indian Wells, August 2007, but with additional statistics and corrections reported since then (the pdf file has not been updated). (Emphasis mine.) So now members are informed the webpage Together chart is supposed to have the latest WCG facts and figures on WCG membership, updated since the worldwide ministerial conference at the luxurious Indian Wells resort last August. Ok. Fine. But wait, not so fast, Pastor General Tkach.

The Together web page reports the following membership, which comes to a total of 35,170 members:

Australasia.......... 9,000
Total WCG
membership....... 35,170

Interestingly, at this same time, Tkach has finally chosen to update the “About Us” web page to say “The Worldwide Church of God is a Christian denomination with about 42,000 members, worshiping in more 900 congregations in almost 100 nations.” So now, he claims “about” 42,000 members, after holding it at exactly 64,000 members for the last four years? And just how does Tkach have the right to quote 42,000 members in "About Us", when the latest published Together figures add up to no more than 35,170 members?

In fact, since its inception, has the WCG told the truth about the true number of its actual members? ESN has more about the disputed WCG membership totals, including the following observations:

“It is vital to know what the membership totaled in the early 1970's as the churches' membership was far smaller than what had been propagandized for years. The director of data processing 1972-1973 clearly documents that in 1973 the church had no more than 53,000 members at maximum. That was before the 11,000-member fallout in 1974. It is well documented that the church did not grow at all during the 1970's and by 1979 the leadership was very concerned about stagnant recruiting position.

...Careful calculations based on the factual data available from the head of Data Processing in 1973, Mike Hollman, along with lack of recruiting from that point on to 1995, and consideration regarding the massive attrition rate in 1974, 1978-79, and again following the death of the beloved leader, HWA, calculations indicate that there could not have been more than 40,000 members prior to the UCG split and that is a liberal estimate. The UCG started with approx. 17,000 members, which in turn, left the WCG with a possible 20,000 members remaining.

“Of the approximate 35,000 members in the WCG in January 1995, over 20,000 followed various splinter groups with the bulk of members attaching their allegiance to United Church of God, the WCG extension group. The 12,000 to 15,000 members remaining in WCG were scattered, traumatized and uninformed of the massive hypocrisy that was occurring on various levels of the corporation.”

Looking solely at North America, as ESN estimated, 12,000 to 15,000 members left may not be all that far off - at least a few years ago. The official statistics in Together list 10,873 members in 362 churches for the USA and 3.651 members for Canada in 64 churches. That’s 14,524 members combined for North America, or somewhere between 12,000 to 15,000 aged WCG members remaining. But Tkach’s latest North American membership totals may still be padded and could in fact be smaller. Let’s see how.

Statements published in the WCG former Worldwide News publication give us total reported WCG membership for some historical comparison:

1988 -- 92,000
1989 -- 95,000
1990 -- 97,000
1991 -- 99,000
1993 – 100,889 (total baptized membership reported)
USA- 67,444 baptized members; 478 paid ministers for 469 churches; with average monthly attendance of 84,892.
International- 30,350 baptized international members; 275 ministers over 372 churches; with average monthly attendance of 38,000 internationally.

Since Tkach’s latest “About Us” web page downsizes the WCG by -22,000 members (meaning from 64,000 in 2007 last year to 42,000 members today), Ambassador Reports thought it might be beneficial to take a look at the Internet Archive to compare and find out what was actually reported for WCG membership on the WCG “About Us” web page in prior years. Researching the archived web pages since 1999, Tkach Jr. reported the membership of the WCG to be at the following levels.


About Us” reported WCG Total Membership in years 1999-2008 as:

1999 50,000 members
2000 70,000 (Gained 20,000 members from prior year)
2001 50,000 (Lost -20,000 members)
2002 67,000 (Gained 17,000 members)
2003 58,000 (Lost -9,000 members)
2004 64,000 (Gained 6,000 members)
2005 64,000
2006 64,000
2007 64,000
2008 42,000 (Lost -22,000 members worldwide)

Source: Internet Archive (Link)
@ http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.wcg.org

Or the WCG lost a total of as many as -29,500 members since 2007, if the WCG had 34,500 actual members as actually was reported on the Adobe pdf in Together. The Vol 3 No 1 Jan-Feb 2008 Together web page membership chart now totals up to only 35,170 members (when carefully added together by AR), but inexplicably claims 43,000 members in the top paragraph of that web page for worldwide membership. How 35,170 members turns into 43,000 members - a difference of nearly 8,000 members, on the same page- is somewhat of a mystery. Tkach, as mentioned earlier, now puts out a still different membership number. He lists the current membership as 42,000 on the “About Us”. Perhaps that 42,000 is even more current than the 43,000 quoted in Together!

Besides the newest notation about the Adobe pdf membership document becoming outdated, surprisingly, there have also been some strange, unreported, undocumented changes made to the WCG web page membership numbers since publication. When I first started writing about this, I duly made a printed copy of the January-February Together pdf and the corresponding web page to use for comparison purposes. But later, I noticed my printed copy of the old Together web page didn’t match up with the current Internet membership figures posted on the Together web page!

Comparing the web page with my original printed paper copy, readers might be interested in finding out what numbers were changed. The following unreported changes were made, without additional explanatory footnotes, only since Vol 3 No. 1 Together was first published on the web, in just the last few days. To be specific, I am not referring now at all to the old Together Adobe document. I refer to only the latest web page document. According to my printed copy, the Philippines was reported originally on the webpage chart at 6,225 members with 82 churches and 23 new congregations. This web page now lists for the Philippines as 7,715 members, 85 churches, and 25 new congregations.

You may remember, I specifically mentioned Zimbabwe in the previous Ambassador Reports entry. I wrote, “Zimbabwe has 399 members. Can't Zimbabwe demand a recount or find just one additional WCG member for an even 400?”

Well, miracle of miracles, after searching, apparently Zimbabwe DID find that one additional member! Actually, in fact, an additional 221 members! Zimbabwe was reported at 399 WCG members on the old WCG Together web page in question. Zimbabwe is now reported as having 620 total members.

Also, the membership numbers for Canada were changed from the original WCG Together webpage. Originally, on my printed archived copy, it reported 4,476 Canadian members, 64 churches, and 4 new churches. Now it reads 3,651 Canadian members, 62 churches, and 4 new churches. So reported Canadian membership shrank down by -825 members and -2 churches in the current internet Together version.

Here's how the latest Together totals stack up, in a summary format:

USA ....................10, 873
Latin America..............453

Evidently the WCG has trouble counting its members in Canada, the UK, and the Philippines. According to the Together revised membership numbers:

*Phillippines have reported an additional 1,490 members, as reported in Jan 2008 Together.
*Canada lost 825 members since the August, 2007 Indian Wells ministerial conference, from a reported high of 4,476 to a new low of 3,651.
*The United Kingdom reports an 596 additional members (between the two reports in Jan 2008 Together ) - from a new low of 871 UK members on the Adobe pdf, to a high of 1467 on the corresponding web page, as reported in Together.

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