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Where Is God’s Church Today?
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Jesus said, “I will build My Church…” There is a single organization that teaches the entire truth of the Bible, and is called to live by “every word of God.” Do you know how to find it? Christ said it would:

  • Teach “all things” He commanded
  • Have called out members set apart by truth
  • Be a “little flock”

The Authorized Biography of David C. Pack

Volume Two

David C. Pack has held a variety of leadership roles throughout his dynamic, event-filled life: author of more than 20 books, scores of booklets and a vast array of articles—Pastor General of The Restored Church of God—voice of The World to Come program—founder of Ambassador Center—and publisher/editor-in-chief of three magazines. The Authorized Biography of David C. Pack tells the life story of a man who was carefully prepared by God for a unique position.

Chapter Thirty-Five – Spotlight on the Family

Shirley Pack taught all of her children to play musical instruments, beginning with the accordion—because of her German and music roots—at the age of five instead of the usual several years older. Randy went on to play the trombone, Robby the trumpet and Jenny the flute. They all enjoyed their instruments.

But by now it is obvious that the extended Pack family has always been involved in sports of many kinds. This includes the three Pack children. Mrs. Pack would often jokingly comment how she tried to “counteract” the “athletic genes” in the family, but that the “music genes” were just not strong enough.

Family Basketball Opportunities

Since the family had moved from New York, Mr. Pack’s sons continued to develop their athletic abilities in basketball. While Randy, the oldest son, stayed in the New York City area for six weeks to finish his senior basketball season, the Pack’s second son, Robert, his season over earlier, moved to Ohio with his family.

Quite a story developed!

After being pulled away in the middle of a school year late in his sophomore year, it was difficult for Robert to create a new identity in Wadsworth. But he had one thing that most other teenagers did not: height. At age 15, he was 6 feet 3 inches, and still growing.

Because of his height and the influence of his father, Robert was heavily involved in basketball and developed his skills as high school progressed. However, due to the Sabbath, he was unable to participate in many of the games during the season. Unlike the New York area, where most games were during the week because of so many Jewish children in the school (most schools also closed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), almost half the games in Ohio were on Friday nights after sundown.

Even though the Sabbath schedule did not permit much play during his junior year, Robert progressed enough that he was invited to Five Star Basketball Camp, an invitation-only weeklong camp to help budding teens develop their basketball skills under the watchful eyes of college scouts from around the country. After returning home, Robert’s basketball skills took off, as did his height. By the time his senior year began, the now 6’7” senior was slated to start on the Wadsworth High School (Grizzlies) varsity team later that year.

As the season progressed, the team stretched its record to an undefeated 10-0. They began to be recognized statewide for their accomplishments, with Robert leading the team in scoring in many games, even though he was only playing in about half of them.

Through the winter, the Grizzlies advanced toward the State playoffs. As their streak continued to 18-0, they climbed in the state rankings, reaching as high as the top five. Subsequently, the local media began to pay even more attention to the team as the possibility of a state championship came into view. But there was another story that captured the attention of the Akron and Cleveland media: a starting player on this team refused to play on Friday nights!

By this time, several Division I colleges contacted Robert, interested in offering athletic scholarships.

Media Focus

Once they learned that the boys state championship games were scheduled for Friday night and Saturday afternoon, media outlets buzzed about what would happen if the team advanced that far. Many in the community found it hard to believe that he would not play. Certainly, if the team advanced, an exception could be made, right? His father, the church pastor, would surely grant him an exception, wouldn’t he?

It soon became clear there would be no compromise.

“All that occurred and followed during this time was wonderfully exciting for our family. This time we sat in a lot of bleachers and did watch the games.

“This whole period was made more interesting, and to some degree more possible, because an astonishing thing happened: the wife of the principal of the high school came into the Church, and was baptized. Her husband, a fine and very likable man, wanted to be with her and decided to attend services and activities with their children. He was very involved in and supportive of Robby’s playing, and understood the Sabbath issue. Further, he only lived two houses away, and our daughter babysat for their children.

“Because I am their father, I am somewhat biased of course, but our sons were very good players. Robby would go on to be the MVP in the county all-star game. He also was a little more known because he could jump so far above the rim as a high school player. He was invited to participate in the greater Akron slam dunk championship, but the Sabbath prohibited it. All of this created a little more interest for those watching events progress.

“But as the story develops with some detail, there is an interesting twist that appears at the end.”

Newspaper Articles Lead to Television Segment

As interest in the story grew, the media contacted Robby. Although at first only smaller local newspapers called, television reporters and cameramen soon showed up at practice asking him a myriad of questions. Over the course of just a few months, he had gone from complete obscurity to being seen as an example of the Church’s beliefs in action.

“What started with something as simple as me keeping the Sabbath and having a great coach turned into something so much beyond that,” Robby recalled. “It was even an inspiration to kids. I didn’t grasp it at the time.”

Robert’s first interview was for an article in the Medina County Gazette. It was published with the headline “Religious Choice Forces Pack to Miss Games,” and featured a picture on the front page of the sports section. Shortly afterward, the Akron Beacon Journal featured a lengthy article titled “It’s Simply a Matter of Priorities.” The third newspaper article was published on the front page of the sports section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a newspaper with over 700,000 subscribers, with the title “Never on Friday.”

In each of the articles, writers expressed surprise that the young man would take such an unusual stance on the Sabbath.

The Plain Dealer quoted the young athlete’s reasons for his decision.

“Obviously, it’s tough sitting at home on Friday when the team is playing without me, because I want to be out there with the guys, but as much as I love basketball, my religion…comes first,” he said.

Media outlets were equally taken aback by Coach Dave Sladky’s strong support.

“It’s amazing, his dedication to his church,” Coach Sladky said in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. “We’re learning from it. Our style of play suits him because we use a lot of people, so he’ll get his chance to play. I don’t think it causes any problems for the team. We accept it just as if he was sick on Friday night.”

The articles eventually culminated in a television interview in which Robby was featured as the player of the week in northeastern Ohio on a local news program airing at 11 o’clock.

In the segment, watched by hundreds of thousands because it coincidentally aired just minutes after Super Bowl coverage ended, the teenager declared his dedication to the Church above basketball. When asked what the decision to keep the Sabbath alone meant, Robby said firmly that his family supported him.

“Well, I don’t think I’m standing alone,” he said. “My family is always there. Even the guys on the team, they support me 100 percent. Even my coach…as much as I love basketball, he knows my religious obligations are always going to come first. A lot of people ask me, what would happen if the state championship was on a Friday night. Would you play? It’s not even something that’s in question. I would never play.”

At the end of the segment, the interviewer asked Mr. Pack’s son if he had future plans to play basketball.

“My goal is to play at my Church college, in Big Sandy, Texas. Ambassador College,” he said. “They don’t have any of their games on a Friday night, which is a plus. Basketball is not going to last forever…the way of life will!”

But there is much more to the story.

Similar Dilemma

The team finished the season 21-2, after being knocked out of the state playoffs before reaching the critical championship game. Along the way were many memorable moments for Mr. and Mrs. Pack as they watched their son enjoy his season, even winning two games “at the buzzer,” with thousands in attendance.

However, there was another moment that is most poignant in Mr. Pack’s memory. Robby’s first playoff game of the year was scheduled for Saturday night at 6:00 p.m.—and sundown was at 6:07. As his team warmed up inside in preparation for the game, the Pack family arrived and sat outside in the car waiting for sundown minutes away, in their formal attire because they had just come from services!

At the end of the Sabbath, Robby rushed inside just as the entire crowd was taking their seats after finishing the national anthem. Upon seeing him charge across the floor toward where the team was, with his trench coat flying behind his uniform, over 2,000 Wadsworth fans jumped to their feet to give him a standing ovation.

Although it was difficult for Mr. Pack to watch his son sit at home for some of his games, it was also important to see him forced to face some of the same dilemmas he himself faced when he gave up his swimming career in Lima. Mr. Pack was happy to see his son stand up for his convictions.

Robby was not the only son who took a public stance for his beliefs. Mr. Pack’s oldest son, Randy, (recall he stayed in New York until the season ended) was known as the “Sundown Kid” in local newspapers. At 6’6” he had also been an accomplished basketball player and was known widely across the New York suburbs in which the Packs lived because he also refused to play on the Sabbath.

As Mr. Pack recalled, in one way or another, all three of his children battled the Sabbath issue. Since they all actively participated in sports—even the youngest—they were forced to initially stand their ground with coaches who wanted them to play on the Sabbath. However, each of them gained their coaches’ respect for standing on principle.

“Randy had some serious scholarship opportunities come his way, but he declined them in favor of Ambassador College. I’d been through it and I had to give up a sports career, so I was able to sit down with my sons, and later my daughter, and talk with them about it. Of course, their circumstances were different from mine because they had known the Sabbath all their lives and then were finally put to the test.

“It was difficult for a father to see his children go through it, but I was pleased to see both my sons face the same trial and make the right decision under real pressure.”

Congratulations from Pasadena

After Robby’s television interview aired in January 1992, Mr. Pack received a surprising phone call from Headquarters. It was Mr. Tkach! Unbeknownst to Mr. Pack, someone from the local Akron congregation had sent a videotaped copy of his son’s interview. Mr. Tkach was calling to congratulate the young man for standing firm in his commitment to keep the Sabbath.

As Mr. Tkach spoke, he made it clear to Mr. Pack that he and a group of ministers listening in on the call had seen the video and were impressed with his son’s decision. They had also seen the article featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in which Robby was quoted.

“This is what it’s all about!” Mr. Tkach exclaimed to Mr. Pack. “I certainly appreciate Robert’s commitment to the Sabbath.” His exact words.

Mr. Tkach decided to reprint the Plain Dealer article “Never on Friday” in its entirety on the front page of the Church’s international newspaper for members, The Worldwide News. It was also titled “A Matter of Priorities.” He wanted to share the article with the entire Church as an example of a young person in God’s Church unwilling to bend in his commitment.

“This phone call took on a whole new meaning when Joseph Tkach later threw out the Sabbath as God’s command. But it does show where his mind still was—or probably was—in the spring of 1992. It would soon be evident that others around him had plans for the Sabbath that Mr. Tkach probably did not yet even know about. That story would continue to unfold.

“But there was one other part of the story that should be told at this time. It is important. God had worked out a means of me receiving a certain favor in Pasadena that could last for a time. The Church was getting some acclaim for the truth, and that was good at least for a little while longer in their minds. So I benefited. Without a doubt, it bought me just enough time to finish certain set-up exercises, and leave right on God’s time.

“But one final unanticipated event was tied to Robby’s adventure.”

Delivering the Baccalaureate Address

An unusual opportunity came from Robert’s high profile in northeastern Ohio. Mr. Pack was unexpectedly invited to speak at his baccalaureate ceremony just prior to graduation.

Mr. Pack has always assumed that he was asked to participate because he was an active supporter of his son’s basketball career, but also because he was a minister. His son had been given a citizenship award as a senior who had exhibited outstanding character.

It was an excellent way for Mr. Pack to build a relationship with the community. The opportunity was unlike any other he had encountered—and one that perhaps few other ministers had! He would be able to let the Church’s light shine in the community at a public ceremony as a representative of the Worldwide Church of God, much as in Rochester, with the newspaper interview during the receivership. In effect, it was a chance to briefly introduce the community to the Church and God’s Way. Mr. Pack was determined to make the most of it. He looked forward to delivering the message at the end of May 1992.

Jane Pack’s Health Deteriorates

In the background, Jane Pack’s health had appeared to be on hold. She came to visit her son and daughter-in-law in October 1991. To Mr. Pack, it had seemed as though her condition was improving. Since his mother adamantly refused to talk about her illness, and would under no circumstances discuss any kind of medical intervention with anyone, Mr. Pack was left to believe that she was somewhat improved. Also, her physical appearance still looked quite good.

In November of 1991, the annual family tradition of gathering for Thanksgiving in Greensboro, North Carolina, resumed and Mr. Pack eagerly went to visit his parents. However, after both seeing again and talking with his mother, Mr. Pack realized that her condition was worsening. In a moment etched into his mind forever, as Mr. Pack sat and talked with his mother while piecing together a puzzle on Thanksgiving evening, he pleaded with her to consider seeing a specialist.

“Now David, I do not wish to talk about it,” Jane Pack still maintained. “I have made my decision.”

Mr. Pack was unrelenting. His mother’s life was at stake!

“Please see a doctor to find out if there’s anything more that they can tell you about your condition.”

Again, his mother’s reply was brief. “I do not wish to talk about it.”

Given his mother’s persistence, there was no more to say.

Through the end of 1991 and the beginning of 1992, Jane Pack’s health declined rapidly. By March 1992, she asked her husband if she could visit their children and traveled to Ohio again to visit her eldest son’s family. By this time, the cancer had spread so far into her spine that she was unable to climb stairs at the Packs’ home. The couple had to stay at a motel, where she could walk in and out on a single level. Mr. Pack realized just how serious her condition was.

After his parents departed, Mr. Pack made a decision. He called his brother, sister and father and suggested the five Packs—without children or spouses—should get together at the end of April in Greensboro. All agreed.

The family had a wonderful visit. It was the last time the family—“Dad, Mom, Debbie, Dave and Bill”—would be together.

Chapter Thirty-Six – Descent into Apostasy

It was May 1992. It was again time for a trip to Pasadena for the annual Ministerial Refresher. This was an opportunity to find out why the doctrinal and administrative changes were continuing to occur. The effect locally was nearing the point of intolerable. Mr. Pack yearned for the chance to look deeply inside what was happening at Headquarters. Now was the time.

Also, as had happened often in the past, plans were made to meet with the same college friend who had visited him 15 months earlier and who was on the inside of the Church’s new course.

A Turning Point

Once in Pasadena, the two men met for lunch, and continued talking afterward before taking their wives for dinner. Before, during and afterward, they spent almost 11 straight hours together. The discussion eventually settled on the state of the Church and Headquarters’ “vision” for it. Eventually, after much tiptoeing, the host finally let the cat out of the bag.

The views of the new administration were made crystal clear. As Mr. Pack listened in disbelief, his friend spoke critically of Mr. Armstrong, opining that he was “a harsh dictator who misused Church government for personal gain,” “a marketing man turned hype-artist who exaggerated everything,” and “an autocrat who was lost in the 19th century.” Further, he called Mr. Armstrong what amounted to a skilled doctrinal thief—a “plagiarizer, with no original thoughts.”

“We believe Herbert Armstrong was a cult leader who built the Church on sand and filled it full of prophecy freaks,” he stated [the “we” referring to various key men in Pasadena]. “He never built on Jesus Christ. We are going to blow all the sand [the prophecy freaks] out of the Church, even if we lose half the members, and build on Jesus Christ for the first time.”

He grudgingly acknowledged that many of the senior evangelists and Headquarters administrators still seemed firmly entrenched in “Armstrongism.” He questioned whether these men could be rescued from this antiquated doctrinal thinking, and made it clear they would soon not be around if they could not open their minds to new understanding.

Mr. Pack could not believe what he was hearing. He was in shock!

“This was almost certainly the single most stunning conversation of my life to that point, and maybe ever after—and it lasted 11 hours! I recognized that I was hearing things about a new view of Mr. Armstrong that no one could have foreseen or imagined. A man I knew—that we all knew—to be an apostle and the final Elijah was now seen as completely false. The world was on its head.

“There were times when the conversation grew tense, particularly at the end when I said I had heard enough and it was time to take my wife and me home at what had become midnight.”

It had been less than six years since the WCG had reiterated what had come to be called the 18 fundamental truths restored to the Church through Mr. Armstrong. Nearly all of them were now being thrown out. Mr. Pack had wondered what considerations there were behind the new administration’s decision some years earlier to stop printing and distributing Mr. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages. Clearly, they were not financial. Now it was plain they no longer agreed with any of its contents!

Not Fast Enough!

To Mr. Pack’s surprise, his friend mentioned that Mr. Tkach was dragging his feet. “Mr. Tkach is the real problem,” he said. “Do you understand much about Mr. Tkach? We want to move things along faster than he is able to go.”

“He was being careful with his words, but the plain meaning was that Mr. Tkach just could not ‘get’ fast enough what those around him wanted him to see. The point being made was not that he was cleaving to old ideas, but rather that he was unable to mentally grasp all that needed to be changed. Willingness was not the problem. He was very willing. Of course, I already thought the destruction of the Church (and Work) was moving at breakneck speed. Another message impressed on me during that long discussion was that the conspirators actually wanted to move even faster.”

This was not the privately held opinion of an isolated lay member. These were the thoughts of a group of men in positions of great influence within the Worldwide Church of God. They had the ability to completely alter the doctrinal course of the entire Church—and this is exactly what they planned.

This conversation occurred at the beginning of the Refresher. There were almost two full weeks to go. More would be learned that confirmed the worst elements of the conversation.

“A couple days later, my brother-in-law Carl McNair, who was on the same Refresher, told me of a document he saw lying open in the ‘refreshment room’ upstairs from the Refresher meeting hall. He told me he had seen certain personal notes, markings and underlinings in a particular article within a digest of articles by worldly theologians. It belonged to one of the five leaders around Mr. Tkach. I followed Mr. McNair upstairs and we together paged through and discovered this man had completely bought into the trinity. From that moment forward, we both knew this doctrine was coming.

“It meant the ‘game’ was over.

“I have never doubted looking back that God specifically put me in a position to fully understand as early as May 1992 what was in store for His Church. But knowledge brings responsibility.

“Whatever hope I had that the Church was going to recover was in that one evening utterly destroyed. Events would not turn around. I knew with complete certainty that God was going to raise up someone else to lead the Church from a point that would have to be outside the corporation. I determined to wait until He revealed who that person would be. I felt certain that it would be a senior minister of some weight and experience. I never spent one second examining the mirror for the answer.

“I was, however, determined to speak more clearly in private situations where I found entrance as a direct result of what I had learned on Refresher.

“Another point is worth noting. Over time, I had already come to believe the trinity was probably coming upon the Church. So, on January 4, 1992, I gave the clearest, most thorough sermon I could possibly give against the doctrine of the trinity. I explained that no true Christian would remotely consider following the triune god, no matter the form in which this ‘god’ was packaged.

“I was strong! In fact, I do not know how the message could have been stronger. I was relieved that I had done this and believed that my congregation had now been ‘inoculated.’ My thought was that the congregation would largely reject what I then strongly suspected was coming.”

Another Splinter

It has been explained that the Oklahoma City-based splinter was never an option for a true minister. But another small group had also arisen at the very end of 1991 and it should at least be noted.

“Another minister, a former pastor, but then an associate pastor, had left the Worldwide Church of God in December of 1991, two years after PCG was born. The man leading it was certainly upset about the doctrinal changes, but he was also upset at Mr. Armstrong for having ‘led the Church so poorly’ that ‘apostasy could happen and so many would buy into it.’

“He was upset that Mr. Armstrong had overemphasized the Work. His thought was that doing the Work too much had been the problem. His solution was to claim that the Work was over. So he was never an option.

“I spoke with this man twice later, and he never moved from this position. As Mr. Armstrong warned, such people always fall into false doctrine with the passing of time. Of course, he did later—and badly!”

Keeping in Touch

After returning from Pasadena, Mr. Pack contacted his mother. He realized her health was rapidly deteriorating—and it was possible that she had only weeks to live.

A difficult decision lay before him. He had already committed to giving the baccalaureate address at his son’s graduation on May 31. In light of his mother’s condition, he also considered driving to North Carolina almost immediately after returning from Pasadena to be by her side during her final days.

But at the urging of his mother, Mr. Pack decided to give the address. As a faithful member, she encouraged him a month earlier to take the opportunity to speak to the local community. But by now her condition was grave. However, not wanting to worry her son, his mother still had not fully disclosed the gravity of her condition. It became even more serious on the Thursday before graduation.

Since she had fallen ill, Jane Pack had adamantly maintained that she wanted to stay at home to the end.

That Thursday, Mr. Pack’s father left briefly to go to the store, leaving Jane alone. While he was away, she decided to call her eldest son.

“I’m here alone and Daddy’s gone,” she said after he picked up the receiver. “I just got the mail and read my blood test, and honey it doesn’t look good. I just wanted to call somebody.”

After hearing the terrible news, Mr. Pack asked if she would like him to come immediately, meaning cancel the baccalaureate address. She again opposed the idea. Even with her health in the balance, she emphasized the importance of the speech and said to leave the next morning.

Her selfless input created an unexpected result.

First Baccalaureate Address

Although preoccupied with his mother’s condition, Mr. Pack asked God to help him remain focused on the task at hand.

The baccalaureate occurred in the gymnasium of Wadsworth Senior High School with an estimated 4,000 in attendance. Before opening with prayer, Mr. Pack scanned the audience and the students. Here was an opportunity to in effect preach the gospel by helping students, parents and local citizens understand broad spiritual principles.

Mr. Pack talked about achievement, success and the meaning of the word commencement. He told the students that graduation was not the end, but rather a beginning. Remembering Ambassador College’s motto, he asked the audience, “Many of you students are going to college to learn how to earn a living, but who is going to teach you how to live?”

He also boldly explained to the students that there is a cause for every effect, and taught them that their lives would be defined by how many people they could help—essentially the law of give versus get. Years later came evidence some were listening.

In a poignant moment, as he spoke these truths, he realized they were no longer taught by the Worldwide Church of God. It was an absolutely stunning moment. It would be seen later as a first opportunity to continue preaching to an audience entirely of the world about things that were no longer taught by his own Church.

Mrs. Jane Pack Finishes Her Course

Mr. Pack decided to sleep for a few hours before beginning the eight-hour drive to see his mother early the next morning. On the way to North Carolina, he reflected on the last conversation he had with her. His mind raced. Would he see her again before she died?

The day before the baccalaureate, he had called to confirm his visit. “I’m sure looking forward to seeing you,” Jane Pack said. Mr. Pack was equally eager. “Mom, I love you and will see you soon,” he said.

This was the last time they would speak.

Although he had planned to bring his children, he decided to leave without them, given her fragile condition. Upon arrival, he learned that his mother was unconscious. She had not wanted life support, so Mr. Pack found her in the hospital where she remained alive for another two days, dying on June 3, 1992, at the still relatively young age of 70 and a half.

In addition to the deaths of his father-in-law and Mr. Armstrong, his mother was the third influential person in his life that he had lost. But she was the one to whom he was closest. She had shaped him as a person, and experiencing her death—the first of his parents to die—was extremely painful.

“I had missed speaking to my mother by about five hours.

“Every child thinks his parents are invincible. Mine were very rarely sick. Besides, in light of their love of natural food, they were extremely careful with nutrition. But my mother had run a shorter course than we had anticipated.

“I felt wonderful that we had spent so much quality time together in recent years, and that my children knew their grandmother well. My wife and I could clearly see her in all three of our children, though they did not look like her.

“In the truest sense, her life is summarized by the message she sent through our father just before losing consciousness: ‘Tell the children I was brave.’ My father struggled to pass on this statement. He understood it to be a message to himself as well as to us.

“The next month we sent our second child away to Ambassador College. With my Church collapsing, I remember it being a lonely summer.”

Return to New York City!

In August of 1992, the teenagers of the Church took an excursion to New York City with their parents. Mr. Pack had promised the trip, but only if they understood and addressed the price. They worked hard to raise the funds for the bus rental and other costs.

“This was perhaps the most exciting trip I led as a church pastor. Everything we saw and did in New York was thrilling to the entire group—and it was truly a whirlwind trip, a tour of the first order. It had been very well planned in advance.

“From my time as a campus tour guide at Ambassador, I have loved to give tours. Every year at the Feast until last year I have led one at Niagara Falls. My first wife used to tell everyone that I worked for the Chamber of Commerce in every city we lived.

“Of course, the biggest thing I recall that would later grow in importance, on September 11, 2001, was that this was the second to last time I would take people to the top of the Twin Towers—and see 50 miles in all directions. There were so many tours through the years of the Twin Towers.”

Here is a brief statement from someone who took one of Mr. Pack’s Niagara Falls tours some years later.

“I had recently come into The Restored Church of God from a Protestant organization and was in Niagara Falls keeping my first Feast of Tabernacles. After services one day, those who had never been to the Niagara area were invited to go on a tour with the Packs. Since it was my first time there, I decided to join the group.

“After finishing the tour, which lasted all afternoon, I remember being struck by the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Pack had taken the time to give us a tour of the area. I was 20 years old. Due to their schedule with traveling to all North American Feast sites, they were only in Canada for three days. Yet, they gave up an afternoon to give others a unique tour of the area. It made my first Feast that much more memorable.”

The Worldwide Church of Another God

Mr. and Mrs. Pack gradually became accustomed to both of their sons being gone from home. It was at this time that a watershed event took place.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came in the form of the booklet released to the Worldwide Church of God in the fall of 1992, titled God Is…

Throughout the booklet it was clear that a false, pagan, manmade, 1,700-year-old “god” was being introduced to the Church in place of the true God. Like the trinity itself, the book presented the “nature of God” as a mystery—one that could not really be understood by human beings. This is blatantly contrary to Scripture, which makes plain that the “mysteries” of God can be known to His people (Mark 4:11; Rom. 11:25; Col. 1:26).

Further, the book stated that God was not a Family—negating the Church’s understanding of the purpose of human existence, as well as the fundamental truth that those in the Church will eventually be born into the God Family, as sons of God (John 1:12; 3:3-8; Rom. 8:19). Filled with garble and nonsense, it introduced a “god” who was a “being” composed of “three hypostases.”

In an instant, the leaders of the Worldwide Church of God had formally and officially disfellowshipped the true God from its assembly—and the WCG became ever after the Worldwide Church of ANOTHER god!

It was this defining moment that powerfully reinforced to Mr. Pack that there was no hope for a turnaround in the Worldwide Church of God. His greatest doctrinal fear had come true. This announcement was an undeniable “point of no return.”

This single event clarified the meaning of all the events that occurred during the past several years in the Church. The true God was no longer guiding the WCG, but rather it was being led by “another spirit,” called the “spirit of error” and the “spirit that works in the children of disobedience”—all different terms for the spirit of the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4).

“It was at this point that I understood I was no longer in God’s corporation. I would come to understand that I was still in the Body of Christ, but this was not in any sense any longer related to the Worldwide Church of God.

“I absolutely knew that a new organization would be raised up. I knew with equal certainty that following the blaspheming false prophet in Oklahoma was not remotely an option for one who wanted to worship God and not a man. I sought God fervently for what I should do.

“It was very disturbing that most ministers did not see the disfellowshipping of God from the corporate organization as the point of no return. They invariably seemed to conclude that this point was the Law, and primarily they had the Sabbath and Holy Days in mind. Almost all were too groggy or asleep to grasp what had happened. They seemed not to even know that a different god had been presented to them for worship—and that they must represent this false god. What had happened would not have been any worse if the Hindu trinity—Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu—or the Egyptian trinity—Horus, Isis and Osiris—had been presented to God’s people as the true God. I wondered if people had to be offered Buddha or Allah as their new god to recognize what had happened.

“What I found ironic was that, in the end, so many could not see that any church now breaking the First and Second Commandments, and in such a blatant fashion, had already thrown out the Law.”

Sadly, however, most local members did not even flinch.

“Most astounding was that my sermon of nine months earlier against the trinity seemed to have been almost completely forgotten. The ‘inoculation’ had failed. I do not recall one single member approaching me after having received the God Is… booklet. This did not necessarily mean they had accepted the trinity. Rather, I knew it likely meant they were not reading what was coming from Pasadena anymore than they were reading their bibles.”

How had this happened? How could these men have gone so far in their thinking? What was the catalyst that started it all? And why were the Church’s ministers not willing to really dig inside this vile doctrine?

Meeting with Akron Leaders

For the very first time, Mr. Pack prepared to publicly address the changes. Since all the local church elders in Akron were longtime members of the Church, Mr. Pack sat down with them as a group, along with all of the deacons, and all the wives, to gauge their opinions on the changes that had been slowly disseminating from Headquarters. It was important to gain a sense of their personal reaction to the new direction of the Church.

Mr. Pack remembers most of the men being “pretty quiet,” but all of them acknowledged there had been some tangible changes. There was a consensus that a departure from the Church’s long-held beliefs was underway. Some felt the changes were for the better while others believed there would be negative consequences. No one suggested there was reason to leave the WCG.

The Church was careening toward mainstream Christianity—and Mr. Pack knew that he had to leave the corporation—“The Worldwide Church of God, Inc.”—in order to stay in the Church of God and Body of Christ. As difficult as this was, he had no choice. But he did not know exactly when, how or whom to follow. Where should he go? However, he never lost sight of God’s promise that the “gates of hell would never prevail” against His Church. Therefore, he knew that God would guide someone to lead. At the time, the only reasonable assumption seemed to be that it would be a senior minister—perhaps an evangelist—who would not compromise the teachings of Mr. Armstrong.

“The very last thing on my mind was that this ‘someone’ would be me. This notion simply never entered my thinking. It was hard enough to comprehend that God would start another organization—a new corporation in which the true Church of God would reside. Yet, obviously, someone did have to stand up to lead the reorganization of the Church after the God Is… booklet.

“Whoever I was going to follow would have to be rock solid on every point of doctrine. He would have to promise in advance that he would remain true to all that Mr. Armstrong had taught and the Church had proven.”

Until that point came, the question remained—what would Mr. Pack do?

Again, Mr. Pack was convinced that God would raise up a man who would hold fast to the full truth. And, because God is merciful, He would make where He was working abundantly clear to those who actively sought Him. Therefore, Mr. Pack determined to wait patiently until God identified the man who would hold to everything—meaning would “teach all things whatsoever I [Jesus] have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20)—all truths that He had given to the Church, without exception.

In the meantime, Mr. Pack decided to try to reach as many of those in his pastorate as possible. He continued to work directly with individual deacons and elders as they revealed their loyalty to the truth.

But betrayal was everywhere in the wind!

“Prediction Addiction”

Soon, all Church pastors were ordered to play another sermon that ridiculed the importance of prophecy. Mr. Pack privately listened to the message in advance. Confirming the report of his Headquarters friend, the new administration was trying to rid the Church of all those perceived as “prophecy freaks.”

Mr. Pack could hardly contain his anger as he listened to the speaker, a man he had once highly respected, downplay prophecy and openly ridicule those who place a proper emphasis on this vast subject. Mrs. Pack was shocked because this was her childhood minister speaking. This approach flew in the face of Mr. Armstrong’s emphasis on watching world events, and practically dismissed the third of the Bible that is prophecy.

Mr. Pack decided not to play it.

But there was a certain value in letting the sermon be played. Headquarters would condemn itself with its own mouth. After several leaders suggested this, two weeks later he played the message.

A few brethren were stunned after the message. It was another direct assault on what the Church had long taught. The conspirators were keeping their promise to destroy “Armstrongism.” But most listeners did not care.

The internal pressure to take action was mounting. It grew increasingly difficult not to stand up and offer rebuttals against what he was hearing. But Mr. Pack had taught in advance against certain heresies.

Would the brethren remember?

The question remained: What should he do about it? Mr. Pack had not knowingly compromised, he had simply continued teaching the truth. But, again, the fact that he was not actively and publicly refuting every false doctrine, individually, weighed on his mind. But there were too many—they had been coming so fast.

The greatest problem was which doctrine could he hone in on without being IMMEDIATELY FIRED, which would end any hope of helping one more person from a position inside the organization?

On the other hand, how much longer could he endure? Although he was preaching as strongly as he could, it was becoming an impossible situation as the chasm between the truth and what was emanating from Pasadena widened.

Mr. Pack knew any “holding pattern” was nearing an end.

“I wrestled and wrestled with how to address the problem from the pulpit. Frankly, I knew that a long series of sermons was necessary to completely turn around and save brethren who could be turned. I knew that I could attack and destroy one or two, or possibly even three, false doctrines relatively well in one conclusive sermon, but this would mean the end. I understood that I was watching Church history play out before me and I wanted to be so very careful with when and how I let go my final ‘blast.’

“As of January 2, 1993, I learned there may now be a place to go. A senior evangelist whom I hoped would be faithful had just been disfellowshipped. I saw that his group could be my destination. Everything boiled down to how many spiritual lives I could preserve if I was to follow Christ’s instruction to ‘lay down my life for the sheep.’ There was also the concern about not fleeing in the face of wolves, as would a hireling, meaning a coward. There was no possible way a true minister of God could just quietly resign, as so many would do later, and leave the sheep to the grievous wolves who had entered the sheepfold.

“My duty was crystal clear. But I was to learn bitter lessons later about those who would profess to love the truth, and to be standing firm, but who would turn on a dime to blow the whistle.”

Led by a Figurehead

Meanwhile, it was becoming increasingly evident that although Mr. Tkach was the physical leader of the Church, he was little more than a figurehead. Other men were orchestrating a plan that had gone far beyond a shift in the gospel or an inward focus. It appeared to the discerning eye that the new Pastor General was simply doing their bidding. Indeed, more than his sermons and articles were being written for him—his doctrines were being written for him!

This became even more obvious just months later when Mr. Pack visited his sons at the Ambassador College campus in Big Sandy, Texas. As he sat in Sabbath services, as referenced earlier, Mr. Tkach began his message by reaching for his notes on the lectern.

“Well,” he said, smiling as he picked them up. “Let’s see what they have for me today.”

Mr. Pack could not believe his ears! He already knew Joseph Tkach was not preparing his own sermons. The Pastor General had been reduced to a puppet—a marionette controlled by hidden strings and hands. He did not even have the capacity to hide this. The new administration’s audacity was breathtaking. Yet, again, few seemed to care.

As he listened, the hypocrisy of Mr. Tkach’s praising his son Robert for keeping the Sabbath also came to mind because by now Mr. Pack knew the Sabbath and God’s Law would eventually succumb to rejection and dismissal. Although the Pastor General had commented how wonderful it was that a young person was unwilling to compromise, he was more than willing to do so.

Seeking Protestant Approval

After the closing of Ambassador College’s Pasadena campus two years earlier and consolidation to one large campus in Big Sandy, there was an immediate focus on pursuing accreditation, and turning Ambassador College into Ambassador University.

This seemingly small administrative change—pursuing academic accreditation—had a profound effect on the Church and on the college’s administrators. To be more accepted by the mainstream professing Christian world, a related step that the new administrators had taken was to pursue post-secondary education in a variety of religious fields at outside institutions.

The group of men who were the leading architects of all the new doctrines were pursuing degrees from Azusa Pacific University—a school founded by the Methodist and Brethren churches. These would range from doctorates of ministry to masters of arts in biblical studies. These schools indoctrinated these deceived thinkers with standard Protestant theology. In turn, they injected this thinking into the Worldwide Church of God.

The pursuit of higher education in itself was not wrong. The problem was the pursuit of religious degrees from institutions that endorse teachings contrary to the Bible.

These men chose to be trained by Methodists, and were in fact slowly becoming what could be called Evangelical Methodists. Mr. Pack was sure of this after seeing that the Church began to teach the classic Methodist doctrine of assurance.

“To me it was plain—and simple. The top ministers had purposefully decided to suckle on the milk of one of the Revelation 17 whore’s harlot daughters, and God’s Church and ministry were in turn doing the same with these leaders. If one merely saw where they were being ‘educated,’ there would be no doubt how far they planned to go. Yet, few took note.

“I recommitted to staying out front of them, so I could counteract what would come next.”

Visiting a Methodist Church

With the motive behind these academic pursuits clear, Mr. Pack decided to conduct some personal research. He walked into a Methodist church during the week a few miles from his home in Wadsworth. This was mid-January.

Mr. Pack had not done anything like this since high school, before he left the Presbyterian church. This time he did so, of course, for a different reason. If the men who were making the changes were sitting at the feet of supposed experts in Protestant seminaries, the changes still ahead would be predictable.

Just reading a basic pamphlet detailing Methodist doctrine was enough for Mr. Pack to realize that he was holding the blueprint for what was to come. For instance, it was easy to see that the acceptance of the pagan symbol of the cross would soon follow—as would Christmas and Easter celebration—and Sunday worship!

“After so long, it was strange entering a Protestant church. But my purpose was good. I very carefully selected a stack of pamphlets that were offered in the front foyer. This literature covered all of the Methodist basics. This began a special project that would help many people leave the apostasy later. I thoroughly marked them up, and matched their terms with articles in the Pastor General’s Report (PGR). It was easy—anyone else could have done what I did, had they cared.

“I systematically assembled a box of literature that I carried with me in my car. With doctrine after doctrine, I contrasted The Worldwide News or PGR or Plain Truth articles with stuff lifted straight from Methodism. It was the ability to show proof of what was happening that ultimately saved many in Akron, and other places later.

“The box was jammed, but organized. The proof presented was unmistakably clear. Many were the times I entered homes carrying the box. I spread documents, passed them around, made key points, regathered and reorganized it, before leaving for the next house to restart the sequence. I felt it was my duty to bring facts, and I continued with this box well beyond my final time in the WCG. The box is still in my basement, and this volume of the biography offers an example of the Methodist doctrine of ‘assurance’ with my underlinings as they appeared.

“Of course, some who requested me to come to their homes would later say that I came ‘trying to recruit’ them.”

The 1990s—Not the Liberal 1970s

Ultimately, desire for approval by those outside the Church was the catalyst for the apostasy—the falling away, or defection from truth (II Thes. 2:3)—that struck the Worldwide Church of God.

The liberals of the 1970s introduced certain doctrines because they wanted acceptance by mainstream Christian organizations, and similar ideas had now been resurrected. But the leaders in the 1990s were “the real McCoy.” They were actively seeking a false god, as opposed to passively allowing the devil’s influence to affect them slowly, over time. They wanted more than acceptance—they wanted to be part of the mainstream Christian world!

Observing from the outside, many Protestant leaders were incredulous—and very pleased—that what they had considered a misguided, fundamentalist organization outside real Christianity could be so radically changed, and in such a short time.

Mr. Pack was aghast that so many were willing to sit idly by, either seduced by or oblivious to blatant Protestant beliefs. He reasoned that most feared being accused of unwillingness to “grow in love,” even though their bibles should have been reminding them what the true love of God is (I John 5:3; Rom. 13:10).

This is an important factor in the Church’s fast track toward abandoning everything it once held dear.

Chapter Thirty-Seven – Startling Developments

After the review of Methodist literature and coming to fully comprehend the extent of the changes to be introduced to the Church, Mr. Pack also did what he had always done in times of uncertainty: pick up his Bible. He had often observed that in times of crisis in the Church most people pick up their telephones, not their bibles.

Mr. Pack dove into the Word of God for answers, and searched through what Mr. Armstrong had written in his literature—literature the brethren were literally being told by their ministers to throw away. It was obvious that this was going to be the best source to help successfully navigate others through this terribly confusing time.

The First List of Doctrinal Changes

Although Mr. Pack knew that he had to leave the organization, there was much work to do before that would be possible. He decided to carefully analyze each change, using his Bible to prove each one invalid—just as he had done in 1966 and 1967. He would continue to work with people privately, and preach for as long as possible.

This type of intensive personal Bible study, coupled with copying scriptures by hand, had served Mr. Pack well over the years. It had been an effective way to understand various trials experienced, and to best evaluate situations, meaning in a spiritual light, not a human, corporate or psychological one. Of course, in the 1960s, Mr. Pack had written out Correspondence Course Lessons.

It was now time to do this again. But this time there was much more at stake than just personal conviction. Yet, being reconvicted was also most important.

“In December 1992, I sat down in a restaurant with a notepad and a cup of coffee. I had decided to make a list of every doctrinal change I could think of that had occurred in the Worldwide Church of God to that point. Working from simple recall, my very first list exceeded 30 in number. Over the next 10 weeks, the list slowly grew to 75.”

Two Incredible Phone Calls

While working on this project, Mr. Pack phoned a friend in Pasadena, a relative through marriage and a senior evangelist.

In a one-hour conversation, Mr. Pack strongly exhorted the man to take action. This man’s brother-in-law (also an evangelist) had just been fired the month before.

“You know this stuff is wrong!” Mr. Pack stated emphatically. “Something has to be done.”

At first the response was passive.

“Dave, I just feel that Mr. Tkach is focusing more on love, and we probably need to do that right now in the Church,” he replied. “You just aren’t seeing that yet.”

Mr. Pack was unrelenting.

“You are right,” he said, pressing even further. “This is not what I see. But, let’s just set that aside for a moment. There are over 60 fundamental changes that have occurred: they are saying the kingdom of God is here now, the gospel is about Christ, we’re born again in this life, women can wear make-up, it’s fine to marry outside the Church, the definition of the Church is anyone with the Holy Spirit in any organization, and God is a trinity!”

As he listed the 60-plus doctrinal changes documented thus far, the evangelist was taken aback.

In utter disbelief, the man finally replied slowly, “That’s eye-popping what you’re telling me. That’s amazing!” He then repeated, “That’s eye-popping.”

Still, he ended the conversation by encouraging Mr. Pack to be patient.

“I just think we’re focusing more on love right now,” he reiterated.

“I had known this man as family for over 20 years. My children called him ‘Uncle——.’ I was flabbergasted that an evangelist at Headquarters, one of the three World Tomorrow presenters, did not know what was going on mere feet from his office.

“This was truly a watershed moment. Giants, meaning men I thought were giants, were not even seeing the problem, never mind addressing it.

“There is a famous saying, ‘Some people make things happen. Other people watch things happen. Some people don’t know anything is happening.’ I had just talked to an evangelist who did not know anything was happening. It would be three full years before this man left the WCG to join his brother-in-law.”

Mr. Pack next called one of the oldest evangelists to get his opinion. It was reported that this man was well aware of what was happening. He was among the first four students to attend Ambassador College in 1947.

In a two-hour conversation, the men ranged across the same list of doctrines.

The renowned “doctor” completely agreed that if Mr. Armstrong had still been alive, the current Pastor General would have been disfellowshipped from the Church. “The synagogue of Satan is in charge out here,” he said, alluding to Revelation 3:9.

But he urged Mr. Pack to be patient until, as he put it, “an electrifying change occurs—one that will galvanize the whole Church—and we will all walk out of the organization dry-shod, together.” This was the exact statement. He was resolute that there would come a time “we would all have to leave.” He would not think of taking action yet, however. Mr. Pack followed the call with a detailed letter shortly afterward, imploring him to reconsider. (This man died still in the Worldwide Church of God in late 2004.)

Mr. Pack was somewhat relieved that there were experienced men who also saw, to some degree, that the Church’s doctrinal foundation was being destroyed. Yet, at the same time, he was frustrated that no one yet seemed willing to speak out. It was always “too early”—“we must be patient.”

“This was another, albeit different, watershed moment for me. A second evangelist at Headquarters recognized everything, or most of it, that was happening. Yet, a man who knew that the synagogue of Satan had captured the Church was no different from the other man! Neither was about to DO anything.”

Horrific Policy Change—Brethren Turn in Ministers

One other change in the Church directly applies at this point. It was a devastating policy change that could only be described as one of the most evil things the apostates had perpetrated on God’s ministry.

Some background is helpful. Starting with the rebellion in the early 1970s, Mr. Armstrong realized the importance of setting up a mechanism to protect the Church from disloyal or doctrinally unsound ministers. At that time, it had proved effective in identifying men who were introducing new ideas or making decisions that defied instruction from Headquarters.

During that time, the Church Administration Department made it clear that any member with concerns about the loyalty or teachings of their local minister was duty-bound to contact Headquarters. Of course, this policy was implemented because the Church had been set back on track, and they wanted to ensure that brethren notified them if a minister was not back on track or at any point going forward was departing from the truth. This was an effective safeguard to help shield the brethren from any rogue holdovers in the ministry, or from new ones.

However, the Tkach administration turned the entire system on its head. This policy was now being used to identify ministers who were holding to the truth. It turned local members into informants against faithful ministers!

Up was down and black became white in the WCG.

As ministers across the country struggled to understand and began to teach new doctrines, the policy of brethren being required to “inform” Pasadena of non-compliant ministers fed a huge problem in local congregations.

If anyone in a congregation thought their minister did not completely embrace the new ideas, they reported the “disloyalty” to Church Administration. This created an especially difficult situation for those ministers who were adjacent to congregations in which the pastor and most of the membership welcomed the changes. If they did not preach the new doctrines immediately, they knew they would be turned in in short order.

Taking a broader view, the new administration encouraged each member of the Church to “grow a voice,” turning the government of God upside down. They embraced a mainstay in traditional Christianity in which the congregation largely determines what they want to hear from the preacher. Given a chance, parishioners will typically trade in their pastor for someone who tells them what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear.

Since Mr. Armstrong’s death, the dominant spirit of the last era of the Church, the Laodicean era described in Revelation 3:14-21, had settled over the WCG. The word Laodicea literally means “the people rule, judge and decide.” Many lay members came to tacitly believe that they were at least partly in charge of the Church, rather than Jesus Christ, and that they could personally decide which of the Church’s policies, traditions and doctrines to accept and reject.

However, people did not just grow a voice regarding doctrine and policy. As many realized an open door existed to complain and circumvent their local pastor if they had any issues, ministers around the world were also “turned in” for almost any injustice, real or imagined.

There was no doubt that it was not just the Akron congregation that had entered the Laodicean age—it was the Worldwide Church of God as a whole, and the cooling had begun almost immediately after the death of Mr. Armstrong.

“At a point in time, Mr. Armstrong learned that ‘government is everything,’ as he often put it. After the rebellion of 1974, he instituted a policy that brethren should report ministers to Pasadena who taught error or spoke against Headquarters. Liberal ministers were trying to take people into other doctrines. Members were instructed to notify what was at the time a faithful, on-track Headquarters about what could be an unfaithful local minister. Mr. Armstrong said in effect, ‘You not only can, but you must notify us about such ministers.’

“Although on its face this could seem terrible, it was designed to safeguard the Church. And it did. A few members did try to take advantage and spin things against their minister, but this was always discovered in the end. The policy was a good and necessary one—and everyone understood it.

“Here is what Mr. Armstrong’s successor did. Somewhere around 1990, this man terribly perverted this protective mechanism into a destructive one. He took a policy made for good and turned it to pure evil. He told brethren to once again notify Pasadena if their pastor was not teaching what Headquarters was teaching. Of course, members thought, ‘This is what Mr. Armstrong said to do, and we’re just doing the same thing.’ But this was a very different situation.

“In the new policy, brethren were being instructed to turn in faithful pastors to an unfaithful Headquarters. It was brilliantly wicked. Literally, brethren sitting in a congregation believed that they were following what Mr. Armstrong told them to do by turning in pastors, who were in fact teaching what Mr. Armstrong taught, to a Headquarters that would no longer do the same. And the undiscerning, the shallow-minded, the carnal or the plain negligent who just did not care, went right ahead and turned in faithful ministers, eventually by the hundreds. Tragically, they cowed a lot of men, while believing they were doing what Mr. Armstrong said.

“This was one of the most evil things I saw that came after his time—and this policy was awaiting me in Akron from day one.

“I would sometimes later look out at my congregation, knowing I was teaching the truth, but recognizing there was a risk someone would turn me in—believing they were doing ‘what Mr. Armstrong said.’ Worse, these ‘incriminating’ letters were permitted to be anonymous. Ministers could not know when, whether or who was writing in on them, never mind what was being said.

“Ironically, and this would be natural, some field pastors could do no wrong. Members writing in on them could get nowhere with Headquarters, no matter the offense. Not me however, I was never in that category. I would have to watch and be careful in every occasion.

“Such were the times—and ‘atmospheric conditions’—that lay around me in my final Worldwide Church of God years and, as time passed, it grew worse, not better.

“Try to imagine the difficulty for a true minister of God under such circumstances. It really made it difficult to teach the truth near the end—and be able to stay long enough to help very many. At a certain point, of course, it became impossible to teach the truth in the Worldwide Church of God. You either sold out, or you had to go out.”

Mr. Pack’s brother wrote a letter to Pasadena during this period that articulated the problem very well. He offered it for inclusion here as helpful corroboration of what Mr. Pack has already written. Strangely, Pasadena at this time invited pastors to write anonymously as part of a survey of questions it wanted field ministers to answer. This was so that their feelings could be honestly expressed without fear of reprisal. Answer 39 is included to demonstrate another major, related problem felt in the field having to do with what hypocrisy at the very top was doing to the Church. William Pack wrote in early 1991:

“The remainder of what I wish to say will be my answers to questions 37-39 of the survey.

“37. The policy of allowing members to indiscriminately write in to Church Administration and inform on their Pastor is a self-destructive policy, if not unscriptural. The members are placed in a position from which they know they can dictate to their Pastor—the ‘tail wags the dog.’ But much worse than that, this policy emasculates the ministry. It is a constant ‘gun to their head,’ which is not creating shepherds as much as it is hirelings. Love cannot be perfected in an atmosphere of fear. A ‘kinder and gentler’ ministry is gaining ground in the field, but not so much because of a greater amount of love, but because of an ever greater amount of fear. Through this policy the very way in which Church Administration would not have the brethren feel toward the ministry—fearful, intimidated—is the very way in which the ministry feels toward Church Administration. Please discover another way, a Biblical one, in which to perfect the ministry. We all need to become ever kinder and gentler—because we are inspired to—not because we fear not to!”

“39. I would like to describe the perception that I have of a procedural and administrative style of our Pastor General, which I feel is hurting his effectiveness and credibility, and hindering the wholehearted support of the field ministry. I wish to illustrate this perception by likening the passing of the baton from Mr. Armstrong to Mr. Tkach to the transfer of a pastorate from one pastor to another.

“We pastors have been given valuable instructions in our Ministerial Manual concerning ‘Pastoral Transfers’ (2.2.1). First of all, we are informed that a change is good and healthy for the congregation...we pastors are counseled to avoid certain breaches of ethics which will hurt us and the congregation. We have been given four factors to consider (pp. 1-3), which I would like to respectfully submit to Mr. Tkach, Sr. for his very careful and prayerful consideration. For if he will but follow his own good advice—‘walk the walk and not just talk the talk’—with respect to pastoral transfers, I believe he will have far less need to be so defensive, as he often is.

“In addition, when a new pastor comes into a congregation, it is a mistake to give the impression to the existing leadership—deacons, elders, and others—that they are not really qualified for their responsibilities, but must be tolerated. For over five years Mr. Tkach has continued to give the impression that he feels the field ministry (‘existing leadership’) is largely unqualified and unfit to serve effectively, rather than the dedicated, faithful, and loyal shepherds that they are for the most part. We have been put down far more times than we have been built up, so much so that the morale is beginning to suffer. For this reason, the ministry is becoming more of a grinding job rather than a calling.

“A pastor must not be perceived as administering via cronyism, but sad to say, from day one Mr. Tkach has unabashedly done this. All the congregation must feel close to their pastor, not just a privileged clique.”

Laodicean Attitude Rears Its Head

One of the best examples of the fruits of the “people rule” attitude occurred in December of 1992. It would go on to be a story of huge proportion—one that would reappear and threaten Mr. Pack’s ministry two months later.

With several hundred visitors scheduled to arrive in Akron for a regional singles weekend, Mr. Pack wanted to make the time as special as possible. Therefore, he requested that Headquarters send a senior guest speaker. Church Administration thought this was a good idea and sent an evangelist.

As an added element of the weekend, Mr. Pack asked his wife to coordinate and organize a choir performance, accompanied by skilled instrumentalists from the local congregation.

When the occasion arrived, Mr. Pack was pleased and the congregation was excited that more than 400 singles had come to town (plus nearby brethren who wanted to hear the guest speaker), meaning there were nearly 1,000 in attendance. As the choir and accompanying ensemble made their final preparation 30 minutes before the start of services, a frantic local church elder approached Mr. Pack and informed him that they might have to cancel special music.

“Cancel special music…why?” Mr. Pack asked.

As he approached the stage, the problem became evident. A 20-year-old unbaptized girl, a flute player with a crucial solo part in the performance, was offended because the choir director did not give her a more prominent, visible place on the stage. She explained that she wanted to be seen, as well as heard—and that she should be placed in front of the piano on stage, as opposed to next to and slightly behind it. With hundreds of visitors in town and an evangelist sitting in the front row, this was her chance to be seen!

The size of the choir and ensemble was thwarting her purpose.

When told no, she dug in her heels, knowing the absence of her critical soloist part jeopardized the performance. She bluntly threatened to boycott if not moved more to “center stage” where she could be “featured.”

Mr. Pack could not believe his ears—such incredible, vain, unbending, disruptive selfishness, and just minutes before services. Worse, the girl’s father agreed with her!

There was a clear choice: yield, or call her bluff and inform her she was not needed. God’s Church is never held hostage to such “people rule” demands. Also, the girl’s ridiculous behavior would set a terrible precedent.

“The last thing I needed was a crisis of this sort. I knew the devil had stirred this young girl more as a personal challenge to me than anyone else. But there was no possible way she could be permitted to get away with such appalling conduct.

“I had to do what was right, yet be mindful of the importance of not letting the outrageous conduct of one young adult brat destroy all that I was trying to do in my last WCG hours.

“We actually had a better option, and one that could move on a moment’s notice. My wife was an accomplished flautist of nearly 40 years. A flute was found, not hers, and she calmly stepped into a back room, practiced a few minutes, and proceeded to perform the part flawlessly.”

The next weekend, Mr. Pack stood up and, without mentioning any names, used the example to admonish the congregation about human nature. Many had witnessed or were aware of the tantrum, and it had to be addressed. “We cannot have people refusing to participate like this and putting themselves so blatantly before the needs of the congregation,” he said. “There is no place for this kind of ‘me-first’ attitude in the Church of God. It is an honor to do special music before God and His people. We are not gracing both with our presence.”

Instead of being embarrassed, the young girl sat in the crowd, miffed—with her offended father and sympathetic family at her side.

It would soon be learned that this story was not over.

Events were continuing to build. The Packs were almost out of time.

About six weeks to two months later, Mr. Pack and his wife headed south on a scheduled trip to Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Texas, where both of their sons were now students. His eldest son, Randy, was a junior, and his younger son, Robert, a freshman. In addition, Mr. Gary Antion and his wife Barbara (Mrs. Pack’s sister) lived on campus.

Since there was a big basketball game scheduled for the weekend of February 16, 1993, and both of their sons played on the intercollegiate basketball team, the Packs used the occasion as a chance to again visit Ambassador College and to see old friends and other ministers.

“You Are Being a Sheriff”

After arriving on campus, Mr. Pack was almost immediately notified that the Assistant Director of the U.S. field ministry wanted to meet with him. This was the “Headquarters friend” whom Mr. Pack had contacted regularly with needs and situations occurring in Akron. The purpose of the meeting quickly became evident. To Mr. Pack’s surprise, the administrator relayed the story about his supposedly “harsh” and “unloving” treatment in managing the special music threatened boycott of a few weeks earlier.

Instead of being instructed by the incident, the girl’s father had quietly rushed a copy of Mr. Pack’s Sabbath comments to Headquarters.

Amazingly, instead of backing up a fellow minister and chastising the girl’s father for his presumptuousness, the Assistant Director sided with the disgruntled parent and said that Mr. Pack had a history of being “too harsh.” Mr. Pack would be dealt with accordingly, no investigation was necessary.

Mr. Pack was not surprised that certain men would listen to these naysayers, as he had seen this happen repeatedly throughout his ministry. The vocal minority was at it again, and Church Administration was more than willing to listen. By now nothing really shocked Mr. Pack about the injustice of the false leaders at Headquarters, this man now having become one of them.

The Assistant Director told Mr. Pack that Church Administration was probably going to demote him again to the position of Associate Pastor. The stated reason? The discontent of an unbaptized 20-year-old!

“We are considering demoting you because of how you dealt with the recent situation,” he said. “We are thinking of transferring you to St. Louis, where you will be working for [a liberal, highly political, field evangelist].”

At this point, it was likely that the U.S. Field Director agreed with this assessment, but the man appeared to act as though the matter was his call. Both men knew perfectly well that Mr. Pack had a tumultuous past with the St. Louis North pastor. It was painfully obvious they hoped he would quit rather than accept the demotion. Either way, their plan would work: Mr. Pack would be relegated to a position where he was completely impotent. It must be remembered that no one had yet stood up in a clear and powerful way—not one minister in the world—and publicly declared the solution to all that was happening.

“I was sitting in my brother- and sister-in-law’s home with my wife, my longtime ‘friend’ and his new wife. My brother-in-law was living on campus and was the Dean of Students. My other brother-in-law, Carl McNair, was also present. He represented another connection to my friend, having been a man who played a large role in training him.

“I requested that my wife and I be left alone with the minister and his wife so we could talk privately. Everyone vacated the home for what would become perhaps one of the most dramatic conversations of my life.”

The Conversation Turns

After his experience in the New York City area and his knowledge of the intentions of the current Church Administration, Mr. Pack rose from his chair and looked the man straight in the eye.

“Do not even think about demoting me,” he said. “I will not accept the assignment under any circumstances. The Church is in apostasy, and there is no way I will sit idly by while the Tkachs and their cohorts destroy the Church and slaughter God’s people.”

“It was high drama. I had drawn a line in the sand—and I knew it. So did he. There was no possible way that I could survive much longer. I made a long impassioned plea to this man to wake up to the full extent of what was happening. I knew in advance of the discussion that he was upset by the changes because his best friend was the Pasadena evangelist ‘doctor’ who had just as plainly told him about the synagogue of Satan present there.”

Mr. Pack then recounted all of the details that he had been aware of since May 1992, and in stages before that, concerning the final doctrinal direction—and goal!—of the leadership. He plainly stated that he knew how far the new architects were planning to go toward mainstream Christianity. Mr. Pack detailed the long list of changes that he had been documenting, along with a summary of at least some of the other ministers that he knew were upset, but would likely do nothing until it was too late to have an effect.

This was a four-hour, high-intensity discussion.

Finally, in a stunning turn, the other man suddenly softened, completely pulled away from the idea of a demotion, and asked, “What can I do to support you?”

“I wanted to say something impossible to misunderstand, and easy to remember at the same time. I was ready.

“I responded with a simple request. ‘Buy me time. I need time to warn as many people as I possibly can. I want to remind as many brethren as time permits of the vital importance of God’s truth. Buy me time! What I want is time. Shield me. Buy me as much time to blow the loudest trumpet I can blow for the longest possible period.’ He listened respectfully.”

At that moment, the man’s wife, a pleasant lady who was visibly moved by what she was hearing, turned to her husband and said, “Now [first name] you are going to teach the truth, too, aren’t you?”

The man gave no response. She repeated her question, this time pointedly stating his name to begin: “…you are also going to teach the truth, right? Aren’t you going to stand up for God’s truth too?” she asked.

Still not receiving an answer, and unwilling to let the conversation continue until she did, she asked a third time, “I’m asking you again [name], you are going to hold to the truth, and teach it like Dave is, right?”

“Yes,” her husband quietly mumbled, looking down.

“I had to choose the path of what would shame him in front of his wife, because I had no choice. I would do it again.

“After this exchange, my ‘friend’ explained that he would buy me as much time as he possibly could. He gave me his word of honor before both of our wives. The man had known my wife before me, and had even dated her in college.”

At this moment, Mr. Pack realized two other realities. First, no one seemed to be really interested in defending the truth. Paul declared he was “set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17). Usually, Mr. Pack had to drag statements of recognition of events and changes from leading ministers. Second, he now knew he was on the thinnest ice. Whatever happened, however long the man’s promise bought him—three weeks would not be much different from eight weeks—his time in the Worldwide Church of God was almost over.

Driving back to Ohio, he and his wife acknowledged they were on borrowed time. He hoped to have one more month to warn the brethren.

“We had every reason to believe the assurance given. I thought that I might have about a month to go. If circumstances permitted a little more, that would be a bonus.”

Priorities in Focus

At the end of 1992, Mr. Pack did not have any grand designs or firm plans. He simply saw himself as a servant of God, pastoring his local congregation, not willing to bend in regard to the truth. Starting his own organization was the farthest thing from his mind.

Mr. Pack feels strongly that this idea did not enter his mind because God had a very different path in store for him. God kept the idea from ever passing through his mind at even the most fleeting level. It is clear in retrospect that the timing would have been completely wrong. There were many lessons that God wanted him to learn and experience that He wanted him to gain.

This may trouble a few who think that Mr. Pack should have made this move earlier. But from the perspective of God’s purpose, it simply was not the right time.

“The fact that I would be the first minister in the entire world to stand up in the way that I did was still not good enough for a few brethren who had left over the last three or four years without concern for where God wanted them to go, but rather had been only concerned with where they were coming from.

“Shepherds are not permitted such liberties. They are responsible for more lives than their own. In fact, in the end, this would be the greatest single problem I saw with hundreds of ministers, many of whom I thought I knew. They seemed to entirely miss this most central point defining a shepherd.

“I had partly acquiesced on one doctrine, coming to believe that being born again was possibly a dual event—it was a change that occurs at the Resurrection, but also possibly one in this life, because of a misapplication of a couple verses. But this error would be quickly rectified. This is actually background for why the booklet I would write later about the truth of when one is born again would be so extensive, would offer so much proof—and make it much longer than Mr. Armstrong’s booklet.”

In any case, Mr. Pack was certain that God would reveal a “way to escape” for him (I Cor. 10:13). He determined to never compromise and teach any of the false doctrines he had now so clearly identified in his ever-growing list of changes.

Prayerfully, and carefully, he decided his primary responsibility during this tumultuous time was to the roughly 500 brethren in his local congregation. It was these to whom he was most responsible before God. These must get his greatest attention.

Chapter Thirty-Eight – Truth—and Consequences

From a point beginning a few weeks earlier, Mr. Pack had begun to analyze an event that happened less than two months before.

God Reveals a “Way of Escape”

In late December 1992, a “senior evangelist” was fired from the Worldwide Church of God. On the Sabbath of January 2, 1993, he started the Global Church of God.

During the weeks after this man’s firing, all of the experiences that Mr. Pack had endured with the man immediately began flooding back into his mind. He had laid Mr. Pack off for self-motivated reasons in 1972. And there had been numerous other occasions when the man had been difficult to work with on day-to-day matters. He had also been harsh to others, including Mr. Pack’s brother on more than one occasion.

And then there was his disfellowshipment (some 12 years earlier for a period of over eight months) by Mr. Armstrong for having sown division. Mr. Armstrong had written the following (in March 1980) to him during that period: “You lack the charisma to lead God’s Work…You repel people…You are a harsh taskmaster over those under you…You have a will to lead, but not the qualifications.”

Now that two months had elapsed and he could see the handwriting on the wall after his trip to Texas, Mr. Pack thought there had to be a solution. The Global Church of God must be the ‘way of escape’ I have been waiting for. Mr.———has always seemed to be doctrinally sound, but there are so many other issues with him. Is it possible that God has chosen him to gather and lead the remnant of the Philadelphian era in the aftermath of the apostasy? He has no brotherly love, or even a concept of it.

“I revisited my conversation with Mr. Armstrong of over 13 years earlier. I knew that he felt this man was not remotely converted, but I also saw that God had necessarily blinded Mr. Armstrong to Mr. Tkach’s true character for His own great purpose—to try His Church at the end of the age in a way that had never happened before. I naturally wondered then if God had also necessarily been forced to blind Mr. Armstrong to this leader’s true character—and that he actually was loyal, and a man of God.

“A tremendous amount was at stake. Not one of my friends thought I should remotely consider this path. To say that my wife and I were conflicted would be a great understatement.”

Mr. Pack has long acknowledged that he desperately wanted to believe that the man’s apparent devotion to the truth in years past was enough to trump his shortcomings. He had to get out of the Worldwide Church of God. Encouragement came from the leader’s strong verbal commitment and promise to him to “preach the full truth” as restored to Mr. Armstrong, with 1986 being Global’s doctrinal starting point. So said its founding bylaws.

Then there was his stated enthusiasm to “restart the Work.”

In addition, another senior evangelist, the Global leader’s longtime brother-in-law, spoke privately to Mr. Pack many times over the first two months of 1993 about his intention to follow the new leader’s effort to rebuild God’s Work—to participate in preaching the true gospel again. This senior man was a close friend (and extended family) to Mr. Pack—one he had always respected because he had been doctrinally sound. This seemed to support the idea that the man was in fact God’s choice.

Again, prayerfully and carefully, Mr. Pack considered the decision before him.

Long Personal History

Mr. Pack had a detailed personal history with this man that was negative in so many regards. But Jesus’ words about forgiveness loomed large. He instructed Peter, in Matthew 18:21-22, to forgive time and again—“seventy times seven”—if necessary.

Over the years, the Global leader had been demoted and exiled—then promoted in 1986 by Mr. Tkach, only to be demoted again three years later in 1989 for things that appeared to be justified. Had this man changed? Was Mr. Pack willing to reject someone who appeared to be standing for the truth merely because of character flaws? Yet, whatever the answer, no matter how uncomfortable he might be, there were no other options.

Doctrine alone told him he had to leave now.

In addition, this man was family (an in-law through marriage) to Mr. Pack and, despite painful episodes, they had been friends for more than 20 years. After speaking with the Global leader on the phone for hours—and multiple times—about what his intentions were and whether he agreed with any of the changes, Mr. Pack slowly concluded that God was sending him a signal to join the Global Church of God.

“I called my brother-in-law, who was also the new leader’s brother-in-law, for perspective, and because I knew he was also very upset about doctrine. He was not encouraging—to say the least. He did all that he could to restrain me from going with this man. He made it clear in early 1993 that he would likely never choose this path.

“All that had happened to me over my almost 27 years in God’s Way at that point had ingrained in me a willingness to forgive. I had to do this a great many times or I would have eaten up my stomach with bitterness and resentment. Whereas some would look for reasons not to forgive and hold a grudge, sometimes over small matters, I decided that I had to take a different approach early on in my life and ministry. Good health was at stake.

“My wife and I talked long and hard about what we were getting into. She had known this man much longer than I. She had been family to him since 1963—for 30 years. He had baptized her, and performed our marriage.

“I swallowed hard, knowing that I could soon be ‘in for it’ with this man, that I could soon be deeply unhappy under him once again. I was at the same time at peace because there were no other options.

“It was strange.”

Time for Action

In the wake of being reported for the special music incident, it was evident to Mr. Pack that he was being carefully monitored. He felt as if his every move was known to Pasadena.

Armed with this knowledge—that the eyes of Headquarters were on him—it was time to take action.

With this course in mind, Mr. Pack made preparations for a termination that appeared imminent. He privately issued stronger and stronger warnings about the state of the Church to various friends and local brethren. He spoke through the week after he was in Texas to as many more as possible about every matter of doctrine he could discuss in a short visit.

“I was certainly not sitting on my thumbs through this period. I was talking to people I thought to be spiritual. Eventually, it settled out that all three of the local church elders were saying they were with me—that they were in agreement with Mr. Armstrong. At least three other deacons were saying the same thing. So were all of their wives.

“The thought in my mind was that it was crucial to have the leadership solid. I met many times with these people over the first two months of 1993. Sometimes I took one of them with me on a visit. We would try to carefully bring the subject around to changes in the Church with a person or couple. As soon as people would say that they were ‘disturbed’ or ‘troubled’ or ‘disagreeing’ or even ‘confused,’ it was my signal to open up. Each time that I did I understood that I could possibly be betrayed and never get to give my final sermon. But I had to take that risk.

“The reason I was willing to do this is that my strategy of getting people to verbally commit during the discussion, through use of questions, largely did commit them. That there was a deacon or elder with me on visits was also reassuring to them. Of course, I never—under any circumstances!—trusted even one other person with the timing of what could become my last sermon until just before the moment I would give it.

“Two other factors were at play in this time—and both were of huge importance to me personally in terms of a ‘grace period.’ Pasadena was loathe to fire any ‘non-compliant’ ministers before they had carried out their agenda. They did not want unnecessary attention too early. A termination would have raised a big, ugly—and premature!—stink.

“Also helping me was the fact that I was a high profile field pastor, at least partly because of the family I was in. My wife was also well-known, and for decades. Within this was a sub-factor that helped me—my name was linked directly to Mr. Armstrong in the minds of many. Mine was a name that Pasadena would be very interested in seeing go away quietly. The ‘put him in St. Louis’ idea flowed from this worry.

“All these things had probably quietly bought me precious time.”

Termination Looms

Against this, some of the local leaders believed that Mr. Pack had virtually no more time. He had to give his most crucial sermon first so that if he suddenly had no further opportunity to speak, at least he would have said the most important things possible.

Mr. Pack now earnestly prepared for what would turn out to be his final sermon in the Worldwide Church of God.

“I spent a number of weeks trying to decide, and working toward, what was likely to be my final sermon to the 500 brethren I served in Akron, Ohio. This process had begun well before my trip to Texas.

“What should I cover?

“I finally settled on a plan to cover the single word ‘truth,’ as it is found throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. I decided to cover dozens of scriptures, hitting this one word—“truth”—from every possible angle that God revealed to me a different usage for it within its context. The end result would be that I never used more verses in one sermon.

“The process of deciding when to give this sermon had taken some time—over two months—but the actual decision to deliver it when I did was in part because of urging by leaders who felt we could not stay any longer. It was a somewhat sudden decision.

“A curious thing had happened. Some people were so worked up by what I had told them, they wanted out ‘right now’! This was the flip side of those who did not care. There were some who were unnecessarily impatient, not seeing that others needed to be helped as they had been.

“Listening so much to these people would become a point of lesson learning.”

Mr. Pack wanted to deliver a message powerful enough that it would stun—and at least get the attention of, if not awaken—every sleeper in the congregation.

The magnitude of the departure from the basic tenets held by the Worldwide Church of God cannot be overstated. Looking back, Mr. Pack has often used an analogy to describe the Church’s departure from the truth.

“It was as if the pope would have announced to over a billion Catholics around the world that they were now Mormons, or as if the head of the Southern Baptist convention declared that all Baptists were now Jews. No one would have accepted this in those churches. But members of the Worldwide Church of God—people with the truth—would only too gladly change to be Methodists. Incredible. But this is not new with Israel. Read Jeremiah 2:11.”

Solemn Responsibility

Mr. Pack tried to envision what Mr. Armstrong would do if faced with the same situation. He had often said at conferences, beginning in the 1960s, “If you men were ever able to get rid of me, Loma and I would just walk across the street and start over.” In fact, this is exactly what he did in 1933 when he left all Sardis organizations to rekindle the Work.

Mr. Pack remembered the commitment that Mr. Armstrong had personally asked for while in his home in Tucson, Arizona, in the aftermath of the receivership in 1979. “Dave, you will never teach anything but the truth, will you? You will never teach these things—will you?” he asked. “If false leaders ever take control of the Church, I hope you won’t teach their false ideas.”

Now here it was!

In Mystery of the Ages, on page 262, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “It is the duty of Christ’s true ministers (and how scarce today) to protect the begotten but yet unborn saints from false doctrines, from false ministers.”

There was no choice.

One task of a true minister is to carry out Titus 1:9-11, a qualification for ordination. He must “hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to [convict] the gainsayers.”

In much the same way a person “counts the cost” before baptism, God’s ministers must also “count the cost” of “holding fast” to the truth during the tough times. This is easy during good times.

Mr. Pack faced a harsh reality. I must be willing to give up all of my friendships if necessary—many of which I have built for decades since I left my previous life behind in Lima. I must also be willing to give up forever the comfort of staying with a large organization and the job security that comes with it. Any such “security” was illusory, anyway.

Special Sermon

Mr. Pack decided to give the special, powerful sermon on the subject of “truth” on the Sabbath of February 27, 1993. The topic was simple. It was a way of building an umbrella under which all other topics fall. In effect, it covered every doctrine in one sermon—while focusing on no one doctrine.

In the last two days before its delivery, Mr. Pack spoke with several close minister friends about the impasse he had reached. He spoke with the pastor of the Indianapolis congregation, a man who considered Mr. Pack to be “one of the three men I would call for counsel.” He had another conversation with a friend in the adjacent Cleveland pastorate. On Thursday evening, he called the previous Akron pastor who also readily poured out how unhappy he was with Pasadena. On Friday evening, an evangelist and family member in the field, called for a quick question. The conversation went almost two hours. He was yet another evangelist who seemed only vaguely aware of the severity of what was happening. He requested Mr. Pack’s entire box of material.

Minister after minister acknowledged the depth of their own trouble with what was happening. Many of these conversations lasted for hours. The crossroads that each man faced in his own ministry was undeniable.

Mr. Pack’s hope built that others intended to stand up. Maybe there are more ministers out there who see through the false leaders, he thought.

The Sabbath when he would deliver the message on truth finally arrived. Since Akron was hosting a local activity that evening, guests had arrived from Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown, and other surrounding congregations.

Following a straightforward sermonette by a deacon that stated emphatically how the kingdom of God was not yet here, directly disagreeing with Pasadena’s position, Mr. Pack approached the lectern. With bold confidence—and clarity—he delivered what was the most important sermon of his life to that point. The following are a few excerpts from the sermon:

“I don’t know if a minister could give a more important sermon or cover a more important topic than the one we’re going to cover today. I suppose one could make a case for the importance of many, many things in the Scriptures that would put it at the top, but I think that ultimately this is probably the most important subject. And the subject is…what the Bible has to say about the truth…”

“Take a look at what God inspired the apostle of love [John]…to record…‘I wrote unto the Church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, receives us not…’ Diotrephes must have been a pretty powerful man…somebody who could get away with speaking against an elderly apostle. ‘Neither does he himself receive the brethren, and forbids them that would, and puts true brethren out of the Church.’…Here are people who are actually put out of the Church. Now what would happen if there were true servants [put out]?...God could not leave us without understanding as to what happens to those people…Let’s let the same apostle John answer that question…”

“Turn to John 10:26. What does God say? What happens if somebody gets put out of the Church improperly because they love the truth, because they teach the truth?…‘My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me…and neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.’ A person can be put out of the church unjustly, but they cannot be plucked from the hand of God…He repeats it again for emphasis, ‘And no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand’ (vs. 28). If someone is teaching the truth they cannot be removed from God’s hand. Impossible! They can be put out of the church, but they CANNOT be taken out of God’s hand.”

Mr. Pack later wished he had used the word “corporation” instead of “church,” but what he meant was clear. He understood that one can get kicked out of a church corporation, but not the true Church, Body of Christ or Temple of the Lord. Near the end of the message, he announced the next week’s sermon topic, and then concluded:

“Next week I’m going to cover the vital truths about who and what God is. And what we are called to defend…”

“‘I will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth…Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have’…There’s the same thing, hold it fast, ‘that no man take your crown [Rev 3:10-11].’ What do you hold on to? You hold on to the truth. What sets you free? The truth. What sanctifies you? The truth. What do you have to love? The truth. What can even get you kicked out of the Church [corporation]? The truth.”


Immediately after the sermon concluded, a firestorm erupted. The message stunned brethren. Yet, even though it was shocking to many who had not heard the plain truth of God in some time, it was actually quite ordinary. It was a tapestry of scriptures taken straight from the Bible addressing verses long taught in the Church, but never assembled as they were on this occasion.

Those in attendance were divided. Over 200 people came up to Mr. Pack after services during a period lasting for three hours. Some were aloof and distant, but many others were emotional and thankful that someone had finally taken a stand against the false doctrines entering the Church.

A number of brethren expressed excitement that he had spoken up, but many wondered aloud what was going to happen next. Quite a few connected the dots, realizing that this would almost certainly lead to the termination of their pastor.

Mr. Pack’s response was simple. “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m just not going to compromise.”

(There is a prevalent belief that Mr. Pack was secretly planning all along to quit. But this is not true. Note that in his “Truth” sermon, he announced the topic he was going to cover in the sermon the following week.)

He would later discover that, after hearing the sermon, many visiting from other areas raced back and told their local pastors about the controversial material they had just heard. After these visiting brethren explained to their pastors what had happened, one adjacent pastor called Headquarters and turned in Mr. Pack.

It surfaced later that one local man even sent a copy of the message to Pasadena by express mail.

“I was calm and yet geared to the hilt. There was strong reason to suspect I would not survive as a WCG minister, but I made a point of speaking as though I would be back the next week. I would have never resigned—under any circumstances.

“The reaction to the sermon was beyond what anyone could have anticipated. It is no exaggeration to say that people almost literally stormed my position at the back of the hall. There were tears and long hugs and gratitude from everyone who approached me. So many thanked me for having a courage they had never seen. I told them I was neither hero nor villain, but just someone who was keeping a vow I made at baptism—that I was doing something all of us were supposed to do.

“There were also many questions about what would happen next. Many brethren stated openly that they feared for me. I told them this concern was not necessary, but rather they should focus on the truth being lost to thousands—and to fear for their own crowns.

“I could also see the many others who were not coming up to speak. These were a mixture of two kinds of people: (1) those who did not seem to understand ‘anything was happening’ and (2) those who were very unhappy about a pastor they believed to be disloyal, rather than one trying to faithfully protect them.

“Upon getting home, I pulled out the address list and counted the faces that had approached me after the sermon. There were 207. My phone rang all evening.

“I would learn later that one man was said to have actually run from the hall with the sermon tape to mail it to Pasadena. He had not heard his name mentioned aloud from the pulpit for over three years, and now had come a chance for recognition.”

As Mr. Pack left services that night, he was encouraged by the response of many brethren. But he still had a feeling that he would not make it through the week ahead as a minister in the Worldwide Church of God.

The Day After

The next day was a scheduled basketball tournament, hosted in Indianapolis by one of Mr. Pack’s dear friends in the ministry. In fact, he was scheduled to speak in Indianapolis in just six more weeks. The two men had been neighboring pastors when Mr. Pack was in Buffalo and he in Toronto.

Just a few days earlier, this man had been privately commiserating with him about the new Worldwide Church of God administration. He had called to say, “I was looking at my speaking schedule, and it has your name on it.” A date was set for Mr. Pack to return to Indianapolis, and to speak, for the first time in almost 21 years. He was delighted to accept and looked forward to the trip.

Soon after arrival, another minister approached. His father- and mother-in-law were longstanding members of the Akron congregation and had phoned him after hearing Mr. Pack’s “Truth” sermon the day before.

Visibly agitated, the man confronted Mr. Pack.

“You really upset my wife’s parents yesterday,” he said. “I think you were way out of line. I want to talk about it!” (His mother-in-law had long run the Akron church kitchen.)

Unappreciative of the man’s tone, Mr. Pack responded, “Calm down and we’ll talk about it,” he said.

“Well, I’m upset,” the man continued.

Mr. Pack replied, “Well, get un-upset—and if you have something to say to me, you can say it. But calm down first. Pounding your hand on the table and pointing at me will not work.”

As the two men talked, things became clearer. On the doctrinal side of things, the minister completely agreed that the new administration was way off course. Finally, the man explained that he thought Mr. Pack chose the wrong tone in his sermon, and should not have said anything about what was occurring.

Mr. Pack made his position clear to him. “Well, I do think I should have done something about it, and a lot more people ought to do something about it, and, since you are also upset, maybe you ought to say something, too.”

By the end of the conversation, the man closed by saying, “Well, I agree, there’s a lot of wrong teaching…but I just don’t think you should have said anything about it...and I feel that I need to call Headquarters tomorrow.”

This attitude would represent the approach of many ministers who agreed with Mr. Pack, but refused to do anything—or worse, beyond mere inaction, chose to be “company men” and report Mr. Pack for teaching the truth.

“This confrontation was unexpected, but probably should have been expected, considering the connection between the man and his in-laws. The last three-fourths of the conversation were completely calm and there was agreement. The man (one of my brother’s friends in the ministry) did leave to join another splinter some two years later.

“What was incredible was that the man was visibly worried about what WOLVES thought about his ministry. He was literally sweating fear. He knew I was right—and said so—and yet told me that he was going to report me to those he knew to be WOLVES. This tells its own story.”

The “Friend”

Just before leaving, Mr. Pack located his friend, the Indianapolis pastor. This was just four days after the invitation to speak in his area. Explaining his plan, Mr. Pack stepped toward the friend—and the man took a corresponding step backward, refusing even to touch him, let alone shake his hand. His final words were that he would be calling Pasadena the next morning. Now two men would do this.

“It was as though I was suddenly a leper, almost literally. I had given a sermon on the word ‘truth,’ with verses found all through the Bible. I did not mention any names, and had attacked no one. Of course, the sermon is still available exactly as I gave it. Yet that message made me a kind of spiritual leper to almost all at the time.

“This man had a descriptive phrase that he used to picture what all ministers in the Church should be doing during this time. He repeated it over and over to all who would listen. ‘Dig a foxhole, get in it, and pull the brush back over your head.’ This description perhaps best represented what so many ministers would do for the next over two years.”

Another “Friend”

When Mr. Pack returned home that night, another “dear friend” had called, the Cleveland East pastor. He had already grilled Mrs. Pack about the sermon, because some in his congregation were present. Mr. Pack called him back.

“Here was a man with whom I had been good friends for over 18 years. We had served in Cincinnati together, followed by upstate New York, where I had requested he be sent to replace the pastor in Albany that I had dealt with almost 15 years earlier, and now we were in northeastern Ohio together.

“He was angry that I had taken action. His extreme coldness—after 18 years—was truly shocking to witness. He grilled me like a prosecuting attorney about things we had discussed time and again, things about which he was in complete agreement with me. It was as though he wanted to be able to say that he had questioned me about issues and my intent, even though he knew them well, so he could report them to Pasadena as though he had just learned them. He concluded by saying he would be calling Pasadena in the morning.

“This was the third man who told me in a 12-hour period that he was going to turn me in to Pasadena. Yet all these men would move on to senior positions in the coming largest splinter, which would form just two years later.

“Pastors on all sides, and from around the country, who had been agreeing with me, telling me that they were upset and in complete disagreement with the false teachings, changed their minds and sold out. Worse, they absolutely betrayed me. Men who had bitterly complained to me privately began to deny that they had ever done anything but support Headquarters.

“But I must say that I am deeply thankful to this day for the treatment I received. It galvanized and focused my thinking about what had been 2,000 years of Church history more than anything that has ever happened to me.

“Think. I was given the opportunity to understand perhaps just a little of what Christ felt at the hands of Judas. I could understand why the apostle Paul rejoiced in Philippians to experience ‘the fellowship of Christ’s suffering.’

“What value would you place on lessons such as these? While incredibly painful, they are priceless.”

Some Leaders Flip

More was happening on the day after than met the eye. Not just surrounding ministers had a sudden change of heart. Some local deacons and elders, who had been more than willing to express to Mr. Pack their concerns—and support for taking action—turned against him almost immediately. Of course, this was terribly disheartening. Family after family pulled back who had just a day before conveyed outrage over the apostasy! By Monday, certain leaders would not even talk to Mr. Pack. Two of these had on Friday pushed the hardest for him to, “Act now—we can’t wait any longer!”

“Ministerial friends and local deacons and elders were not the only ones who either betrayed me or flipped. A great many brethren turned on a dime and showed a sudden venom toward the very mention of my name sufficient to have made the devil blush. It was an incredible experience to see people call me one day thanking me with tears in their eyes and a trembling voice, only to watch them turn in an instant to display a viciousness I had never previously experienced—and I have experienced a great many difficult things in my life and ministry.”

The only positive news during this time seemed to be that a number of Akron brethren were thrilled that Mr. Pack had chosen to swim against the current. During the 48 hours following the sermon, aside from 12 hours in Indianapolis, his phone rang constantly. News that something “big” happened on the Sabbath in Akron spread like wildfire.

Surrounding congregations also called for explanations from their pastors. This put pastors on the spot—they had to choose loyalty. To a man, they protected themselves, not those they served. This would repeat itself over coming days in a few other parts of the country—until Pasadena could reinvent history regarding what had happened in Akron.

Mr. Pack spent one of the longest and most gratifying days of his ministry visiting brethren all day on Monday. This was March 1, 1993.

“I took the box in and out of the car all day. Most people that I would actually get to talk to that day and the next would remain firm. Each next day, in fact for a long time, it would be the same thing. In and out of the car, repeating the same answers to the same questions.”

Arriving home late in the evening, his brother called explaining that circumstances had put him in a difficult position. He reported that he had just received a call from Joe Tkach Jr. Here is Bill Pack’s account:

“The call ostensibly was, ‘Your brother is doing this up in Akron. Are you aware of it?’ I knew what he was really wanting to ask, ‘Are you and your brother in agreement somehow, doctrinally or otherwise?’ I had not really talked recently to my brother about this. Essentially, I knew Joe Jr. was feeling me out more than he was really calling to feel out my brother. I was pretty much noncommittal. I was able to tell him the truth that we were not in collusion or discussions over anything. These weren’t my words, but essentially I said, ‘He is doing his own thing. That’s him and I’m me.’ He seemed satisfied.

“He was fishing for, ‘Can you tell me anything about what your brother’s strategy is?’ but also, ‘Where do you stand? Do I have to worry about you?’—without saying it.”

Mr. Pack responded to his brother that he had not heard from Church Administration. He explained that he had heard a rumor from one of three elders (whose brother was a former Akron pastor) that he had been terminated. Also, his email account had been cut off by Pasadena.

What Mr. Pack did not know yet was that his sermon had been sent to Headquarters. The actions taken against him had been based on four ministers who had reported on him (this included the man he had just met 13 days earlier in Big Sandy), as well as the verbal account of one deacon in Akron who falsely described Mr. Pack’s sermon in a note mailed with it.


On Tuesday evening, March 2, after another marathon day of visiting local brethren, the phone rang.

It was the U.S. Field Director. Finally, Mr. Pack would get to speak to him directly.

The conversation began, “We have reports that you called my dad a false prophet, that you attacked Headquarters and that you announced your resignation [there was a fourth charge mentioned]…”

Mr. Pack replied, “I did not mention your father. I did not say anything about Headquarters or the current administration, and I did not announce my resignation. But I did announce my topic for next week’s sermon. I expected to be speaking next Sabbath. But you already know that because you listened to the sermon…correct?”

After a silence, Mr. Pack asked again, “Have you listened to the sermon?”

Forced to acknowledge that he had still not heard the message, the man informed Mr. Pack that he was fired.

The official reason? The content of Mr. Pack’s sermon would prove him guilty of “cognitive dissonance.”

The man explained that Dr.——, the evangelist who described the synagogue of Satan at work, had rushed into his office that day and given Mr. Pack’s letter to him.

“Dr.——even told us that he feels you should be disfellowshipped,” he continued.

Mr. Pack was incredulous at the duplicity and betrayal of the evangelist. “I see. Did he also tell you that he believes you are part of the synagogue of Satan? Please help me on this. Did he remember to tell you that?”

Next came a sound akin to stammering and choking.

Mr. Pack continued, “Will you do me a favor? You’re firing me for four reasons that are all fiction. They’re fiction! Do me a favor. Listen to the sermon, and call me back tomorrow night. Can I expect your call?”

The official promised to call.

“I went to bed that night with the strangest feeling in my life. Part of me could not believe I had been disfellowshipped. It was much more than a shocking feeling, and it was intense. That part of me was numb. That it had occurred for teaching the truth is what made this so. The feeling lasted for about two hours until I fell asleep.

“The next morning was entirely different. I was raring to go. I had never felt so empowered and excited by events. I understood that something much bigger than I was playing out. I knew God was with me.”

Not surprisingly, Joe Tkach Jr. did not call back. So Mr. Pack called him, asking, “Did you hear the sermon?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“But you did not call me back?” Mr. Pack questioned. “Well…am I guilty of any of the reasons for which you fired me last night? Did I say any of those things in my sermon?”

Forced to admit the facts, he said, “No, you didn’t.”

“But I’m still fired, right?” Mr. Pack asked.

“You’re still fired, because you are guilty of ‘cognitive dissonance,’” he repeated, explaining this was a term roughly equivalent to appealing to old feelings and emotions in people through a discordant message.

Despite the theological mumbo-jumbo, Mr. Pack was satisfied. “Fair enough. But I have some things to say. You know you hold your position because of nepotism, not experience or skill. Your daddy picked you. You have never been a field minister. Yet you lead hundreds of ministers. You probably understand that you are not remotely qualified. Frankly, not one minister I know thinks you are qualified for anything. And your doctrinal training is now Methodist.”

All this was true. Finally, there was nothing left to say. They hung up.

“By now all feeling of ‘termination shock’ was long gone. I had one chance to express things that needed to be said—that I thought I was responsible for saying—and I said them. The man tried to justify himself and list his supposed qualifications, but all of us knew such things were laughable. It was pitiful. At a point, you do not dignify such people.

“He would go on to tell people that I had been perfectly happy in the Church until Global’s leader was fired and convinced me to go with him.”

After over 25 years of faithful service, Mr. Pack was no longer employed by the Worldwide Church of God.

The Pastor General made a point of personally marking Mr. Pack on the next Sabbath of March 6, 1993 on a church visit to Tampa, Florida. The service was filmed, and played in all churches the next week.

Such marking would not be done publicly with any other pastor.

Chapter Thirty-Nine – The Global Church of God

Even if it was not clear why circumstances were unfolding as they were, or why God allowed the WCG to veer so far off course, one thing was certain—Jesus Christ was still the Head of His Church and Body. Being able to fully comprehend all elements of the path ahead was inconsequential for the moment. There was one central question, however.

Where Is God’s Truth and Work?

During the final days before termination, Mr. Pack faced more closely his most immediate decision. Where would he continue as Christ’s minister? In a sense, it was simple. He would go where he believed the truth of God was located and where the Work was being done. It never entered his mind to choose a group that would make him most personally comfortable with the most secure paycheck or the highest position. Nor did he entertain starting another organization.

By this time, the Oklahoma-based Philadelphia Church of God was growing larger. Yet, it had long been clear that its leader was doctrinally unsound. In just three short years, his bizarre interpretations of Scripture had confirmed that he was a false prophet, but was also a raging accuser, and now even outright blasphemous in light of certain divine titles he was taking to himself. (Later these would exceed more than a dozen in number.) And though the leader had wrapped himself in the flag of Mr. Armstrong’s memory, he and his group had already significantly departed from certain fundamental beliefs that Mr. Armstrong had restored to the Church.

It remained that this group was no option.

Since the Global Church of God (GCG), based in San Dimas, California, had formed just two months earlier, the timing of its appearance seemed its own statement. Mr. Pack had continued to speak with Global’s leader (its presiding evangelist) by phone. He wanted to be sure he was a different man from the one of decades past.

During these conversations, the man showed a much more contrite and humble attitude than had previously been seen. This was reflected by his ardent assertion that he had not sought to start his own organization. He said the idea had been forced upon him only after he was fired. In fact, he told Mr. Pack he had no intentions of starting his own group until deciding to do this after he was fired. (This will be evidenced later as having been untrue.) At the time, it was this senior evangelist’s apparent reluctance to set himself up as a leader that pointed toward the possibility that he really had changed.

“Global’s leader made plain to me, and to all who would listen, the following story of his termination: He was called in and told that he was being retired from the ministry, and removed from all ministerial duties and even from office. He requested to remain in the WCG as a local church elder, explaining that he would permit himself to be reduced in rank (three levels of office) and retired—if he were not completely removed from the ministry. This was his position, and it was well-known.

“The conspirators said, ‘No, holding any office was out of the question.’ In a sense, they shot themselves in the foot because the man could be had for a small price. He was willing to stay in-house and be quiet about all the false teachings—and to give up the office of evangelist that he presumably once believed Jesus Christ gave him. (Read Ephesians 4:11-12.) Incredible! But they pushed him out.

“It would only be later that I saw this story for what it was—that the man was perfectly willing to remain in the Worldwide Church of God, with all its false teachings, as only an elder, and if the false leaders would continue to salary him. He had not shown faith at all in starting his organization, and, attempting to prove that he had not sought a position of leadership for himself. The man repeated this story time and again to all who would listen. He had not shown courage of conviction to give his life for the sheep. In a sense, I eventually came to realize that the conspirators started the Global Church of God, in essence, by their foolish termination of a man willing to stay. That man backed into the GCG leadership.

“The man cannot deny the account, having told it so many times in sermons and conferences.

“I went through a period of several years being upset with myself that I did not see the man’s actions for what they were at the time of his termination, and for having always retold the story just as he did. This book recounts my mistakes, and this is certainly among them. Yet God did allow me to go there because, as I found myself saying so many times through the years, there was so much experience I yet needed to obtain during my ‘Global years.’

“But it will be seen that I functioned in Global somewhat independently—very differently from the average minister—much as Mr. Armstrong did with Sardis, even though he drew a salary from them.”

The Global Church of God increasingly appeared to be the only choice for those who wanted to adhere to true doctrine and continue the Work of God.

By the first week of March 1993, it seemed obvious that this was the way of escape God promised he would provide. Mr. Pack overlooked his personal experiences with Global’s leader, knowing that the particular personality overseeing the Church should be of little importance. Jesus made it clear that God could “raise up stones” if necessary to accomplish His Work.

In choosing the Global Church of God, he paid little attention to the size of the Church or its lack of ministers at the time. He knew this was in Christ’s hands, and that He had called His Church a “little flock.”

Instead, Mr. Pack focused on the initial bylaws of the corporation, which, again, stated clearly that its doctrinal position would be identical to that of the Worldwide Church of God at the death of Mr. Armstrong in January 1986. These bylaws also stated that the new organization and its leaders were not going to examine the changes made in the WCG for any possible validity. It was in effect deleting the entirety of its “doctrinal memory” over the last seven years, refusing to acknowledge any of the changes made under the new administration.

So Mr. Pack forged ahead in faith—just as he had following his demotion in New York City—and began to mentally prepare for the inevitable tumult to come upon all brethren around the world. The rest of the first week after his firing was a whirl of phone calls (from local brethren and ministers far away) coupled with nonstop visits until late at night.

First GCG Sabbath in Akron

Mr. Pack spent his first Sabbath morning with the Global Church of God’s new Akron congregation on March 6, 1993. A group of 58 people attended in a small hall in Copley, Ohio. Some were motivated by curiosity rather than commitment. Nevertheless, their presence was encouraging. The room was full. Its size—quite small—was important because there was a rumor that Mr. Pack had plotted treachery by deceitfully arranging to have the whole congregation meet with him—by diverting everyone to a different hall as though it was just a location change for the same congregation.

The long week had produced a special problem—and at the worst possible time. Mr. Pack had developed a severe case of laryngitis. After greeting everyone briefly, and making a few announcements, all that he could do was play a video sermon by Global’s leader. The one elder who had come with GCG had selected from a choice of three available sermons, because Mr. Pack had been too busy to review and select one.

There was much excitement. Members viewed themselves as fellow survivors of a catastrophe—of a shipwreck from which they had all escaped in a lifeboat. There was indescribable joy. The realization that they were no longer held hostage by wolves in sheep’s clothing in Pasadena was liberating, and empowering. It was thrilling to stand up for the truth. People could not swap war stories often or long enough.

Members sought direction on how to warn others and inform them that God’s Work was regrouping and preparing to push ahead once again. The anticipation for rekindling the Work was palpable.

However, services held by the Akron Worldwide Church of God were another matter.

Meanwhile, Across Town…

Those wrestling with uncertainty in the WCG found no solace in the firing of their local pastor. After morning services in Copley, some did dart back across town to the WCG services, trying to make sense of the confusion. Others were just curious what would be said. It was learned that one “loyal” WCG supporter had carefully scanned the parking lot in Copley, recording license plate numbers, and makes and models of cars, in order to report to the WCG’s leaders of those who had “defected.” These would be especially targeted for “enlightening” assistance by phone.

For this first Sabbath after Mr. Pack’s termination, WCG Headquarters sent two ministers to Akron for damage control. These were the pastor who was stationed in Akron prior to Mr. Pack, and the evangelist who would stay in town to seize all of Mr. Pack’s church-related belongings.

“All of the previous pastors in Akron who were still in the WCG were brought into the area and put in the same hotel. An evangelist came in from Pasadena to join them. Surrounding pastors also came. Two of the three local church elders who were going to come with Global flipped and joined them, giving up as many names as they could to ingratiate themselves back into the good graces of those seeking to discredit and destroy the man they were with so shortly before.

“All of these men set up a phone bank—literally—for the purpose of dialing the phone numbers of 500 people over and over again. Their goal was simple: scare them into staying with the WCG through stories about me. If one voice after another could make awful accusations against my character in a similar way, reinforcing each other’s falsehoods, hearts and minds might be turned. It worked for many. Those who were not frightened later reported the tactics used. My character, not doctrine, was the entire focus. (Of course, it still is today.)

“Sadly, most were easily frightened away. The importance of truth vanished in the night in their minds. The original 207 people I had counted from a week ago had dropped to only 58 present by the first Sabbath, with the next week dropping to 37, before it slowly began climbing again.”

The pastor preceding Mr. Pack in Akron began the sermonette with a leading question: “What happened since I left?” Rewriting history, he went on to portray the supposedly wonderful state of the congregation at his departure, implying that Mr. Pack had torpedoed existing unity, enthusiasm, warmth and loyalty to Headquarters among the brethren.

The speaker then proceeded to the thrust of his sermonette, which was intended to offer guidance on how to react to the difficult times in the Church. He made it perfectly clear how he believed members should decide who to follow.

He set forth a hypothetical situation. Beginning with an analogy, he set the stage by telling a story.

“Envision for a moment a teenage boy who was coming to understand the Fourth Commandment in Exodus chapter 20,” he said. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work. But while coming to the new understanding that he was not allowed to work on the Sabbath, imagine that at the same time the young man’s father confronted him by ordering him to cut the grass that Saturday afternoon.

“Now, conflicted in his mind, the young boy was unsure of what to do because he also understood the Fifth Commandment—honor your father and mother. What is the boy to do in this seemingly irresolvable dilemma—this spiritual ‘catch-22?’”

His answer to the seemingly irreconcilable situation was that the boy should follow the instructions of his physical father—and break the Sabbath. He then went on to parallel Mr. Tkach to the father in his analogy, instructing the local brethren that when they were in doubt spiritually, or if certain changes seemed not to make sense, they should just do what Headquarters and Mr. Tkach had instructed—even if this meant disobeying God!

The point of this twisted analogy was that everyone should just trust the new administration, and it would all work out in the end. The former pastor blatantly ignored instruction in the book of Acts that Christians “obey God rather than man” (5:29) when there is a conflict of this sort. He had also forgotten that the first and greatest Commandment is to love God, followed by love for neighbor as the second.

Upon hearing about the sermonette from a member some days later, Mr. Pack could not help but think of his father “ordering” him to eat pork hot dogs when he was first learning the truth, and of his refusal on principle. Even at 17 years old, he understood that he had to obey God first.

This terribly misleading message encouraged brethren to, in effect, anesthetize themselves to the confusing new doctrinal “understanding” flowing from Pasadena.

“This was another ‘friend’ who went on to be a pastor three years later in the big, new splinter.

“The example that he used—pitting one Commandment against another—is terribly flawed. Honoring parents is not always synonymous with obeying them, and that is why God uses the word ‘honor’ instead of ‘obey’ in the Fifth Commandment. For young children, of course, this becomes one and the same. Why was none of this reasoning included?

“While it was not easy listening to the man describe the Akron congregation as supposedly left in good order, it was easy to consider the source. What else was he going to say? I understood that this was his chance to denigrate the improvements that made his administration look bad. The only alternative was to admit to the mess he left behind, and that was not going to happen.

“The reasoning in his sermonette was very typical of so many messages given around the world by ministers unable to confront reality in a way that protected the sheep. The man who had said ministers should get in a foxhole and protect themselves forgot to explain what was happening to the sheep who were unable to enter the foxhole with him. Shielding God’s people from loss of eternal life was not on their minds. It had given way to shielding themselves from loss of a job. I understood that the previous pastor was simply protecting himself financially.

“Messages of that period were so weak, so confusing, so self-protecting, so hypocritical, so deceitful, so filled with vile, hollow, unscriptural analogies that did not ring of God—and they were so common. The truth is that thousands of such messages were given over a period that would last several years.”

The sermon that followed was even more outrageous, but mostly because of what the speaker said the day after the sermon.

When the minister from Pasadena took the lectern, his purpose became clear: deny that anything out of the ordinary had occurred in Pasadena under the new administration. “Changes? Changes? What changes?” he asked in mocking fashion. He offered that Mr. Pack was “leading people over Niagara Falls in a peanut shell for protection.”

But Then Commiserates…

The man’s duplicity would become evident—and would be breathtaking.

The next morning, he came to pick up Mr. Pack’s (the family’s only) car, his church-owned computer and all church-related files. His charge was to leave nothing behind. Ironically, Pasadena had sent the man who had been Mrs. Pack’s minister when she began to attend services in Milwaukee in 1959. He was the same man who had so glowingly described the happiness and unity in the Buffalo congregation, and proclaimed that if he were ever a field minister again, he would want to pastor a congregation like that one.

And here he was—the agent that Headquarters chose to formalize and complete Mr. Pack’s termination.

As the man walked in the door, he handed Mrs. Pack a bouquet of flowers—while he simultaneously burst into tears! He immediately began to agree that the Church was engulfed by outright apostasy.

“You’re right about all the doctrinal changes,” he said. “But I can’t leave now because there is nobody who can write like Mr. Armstrong and it’s too late to start the Work over again. Even if it is way off track, this is the only place that anything can be done at this point.”

He was very troubled, even admitting that he was considering leaving the WCG. Mr. Pack listened in disbelief as the man named two organizations that he was considering joining if the current WCG administration made many more changes. The group he indicated that he was leaning toward was the Church of God, Seventh-Day—a Sardis organization.

This manner of extreme two-faced behavior exemplified those who recognized doctrinal error, but were perfectly willing to lie to brethren to protect themselves—to secure their paychecks!

“I could scarcely believe my ears. Yet another evangelist who was well aware of all that was happening. He was known as one of the most doctrinally sound ministers. But here he was remaining in the WCG in the face of bald heresy. Having ordained Mr. Tkach in 1963, and still close to him, he was on the inside.

“My wife was visibly emotional, although not in a tearful sense. She was quite composed, and quickly detailed a list of false doctrines because she knew the issues. She pointed out what he had just said, and how he acknowledged that what was happening was wrong. She reminded him of what he had taught her as a teenager. She asked the man how he could live with himself—‘How can you come so far and go along with this?’

“I also had a series of pointed questions that I brought. This was perhaps among the five most memorable conversations of my life.

“The man never did leave the WCG. He died in 2003 in the saddest of circumstances, remarking, ‘I lost my wife (too early), my job and my Church—I do not want to live.’ He very soon after got his wish.

“These stories are helpful to include in the biography because they show that life is cause and effect. In the very greatest regard, it is (doctrinal) truth—or consequences.

“The biggest part of the problem was that many men had bought into some, but not all, of the changes. They wanted to pick and choose. It was as though they believed ‘bitter and sweet water’ or ‘salt and freshwater’ can come from the ‘same fountain’ (Jms. 3:11-12), and that one could eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as long as he knew how to discern one from the other.

“Of course, this view leads to spiritual suicide. It is so plainly unscriptural. Unlike Mr. Armstrong, these men could not see that ‘a little leaven leavens the whole lump’ (Gal. 5:9), meaning that it eventually fills its host—and that heresy ‘eats as does a canker’ (II Tim. 2:17), meaning that it always spreads (margin: ‘gangrene’) until it kills its host. They were not willing to eat completely unleavened doctrine, or to cut away dead, gangrenous doctrinal tissue before it could take their life.

“There would be no convincing such ministers they were wrong—that they were holding to an impossible position. I have tried to do this more times than could be recounted. In fact, seemingly having learned nothing over the years, most of them hold the same ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ view today.”

Mr. Pack watched as the man pulled away from his driveway, accompanied by the Canton, Ohio, pastor who had come to drive the vehicle they arrived in. He was the man who had inherited the Canton church from Mr. Pack 18 months earlier. They had known each other in college. This newly hired pastor (he had held a job in the world for many years until just before this time) had said not one word—but he had heard the evangelist’s comments. He too would join the largest splinter in 1995.

No Transportation

It was March 7, 1993. For the first time since 1972, Mr. Pack was unemployed—only this time the family was also without a vehicle! The Packs could not afford and never had a second car. He also had no computer to communicate through email.

The Worldwide Church of God gave him only two weeks severance pay for his over two decades of service in the ministry, plus a few days of any unused vacation that all terminated ministers received by policy. The small severance was because the Packs had officially declared that they were going with another organization. This made them, also by policy, “opponents” of the WCG. Virtually all other ministers, most of whom that would leave would do so two years later, would receive one week of pay for every year that they were in the ministry—because they did not immediately declare their new allegiance. These waited until the larger check had cleared the bank. This was made possible by high-ranking sympathizers in Pasadena carefully coaching them step by step regarding exactly what (and what not) to do, and when.

Mr. Pack took a deep breath and resolved to move forward—regardless of giant obstacles ahead.

But what about a car? The Packs had insufficient money to buy one.

Since the Global Church of God had been in existence for just two months, there were only about 275 members worldwide. There were a handful of deacons and local church elders to help, but no full-time ministers had yet been hired into the field. Mr. Pack was the first. The fledgling organization had limited resources. The tithe-paying base was small. The headquarters could not afford to advance a down payment for a car.

Understanding the crucial juncture facing God’s people, Mr. Pack could not let days, let alone weeks, go by. There was work to do!

His very first action as a yet unpaid minister was to go obtain a $4,000 cash advance on a personal credit card. He then sent these funds to the Global Church Headquarters so they could purchase a car in the Church’s name with this money. The promise was that they would try to repay the principal amount when and as they could.

Thrilled to get back into the field and to visit brethren, Mr. Pack charged into this unique, new assignment with gusto.

“Someone was kind enough to loan us a car until we could get a new one. We were most grateful. It allowed us to run errands and buy groceries for about 10 days.

“We had faced obstacles in the past where the only path was that of faith. This decision was easy. But what choice did we have? We needed a car, and the Church could not afford to buy one. So I offered to act as an agent to purchase the vehicle on their behalf. There was a Ford dealer nearby and we got a brand new Aerostar exactly like the one that had just been driven from our garage.

“It would look better for Global if it had purchased the vehicle, rather than I having done so on my own behalf, or even on their behalf. The goal was to have other ministers be able to see that Global was a legitimate organization—that all manner of familiar procedure, activity and support was present. We were happy that no other Global ministers had to do as we did. I would certainly do it again.

“I would only learn later about how the many scores of ministers went with the new splinter in 1995 with a tremendous amount of money—sometimes tens of thousands of dollars—simply because they did not declare their affiliation until the larger ‘severance’ check had been cut for them.

“These men would wait in the back of the hall for one Sabbath, officially ‘undeclared’ in terms of organizational destination. Of course, everyone knew exactly where they were going in a couple of days, and could not understand why they were delaying the changeover. There were always salaries, cars and expense accounts waiting from the start for these faithless, hypocritical appeasers because large numbers of tithepayers followed them out the door to the same new organization.

“There was a very early surprise, however, in all of this. Instead of a thank-you for buying the car from my (borrowed) funds, the Global leader was disappointed that I had only brought an initial group of 38 people with me. It was absolutely stunning. I was not bringing enough human ‘booty’ right out of the gate to suit him.

“This biography could not contain all the unexpected difficulties experienced and painful lessons learned of those early days and weeks in Global.”

The New Akron Worldwide Pastor

Pasadena’s most crucial problem in the wake of Mr. Pack’s termination was the appointment of a new pastor for the Akron area. The decision was very important because whoever filled the role had to be able to stem a potential tide of people from the congregation, which could lead to rumors that the WCG was in greater trouble than its leaders had anticipated. More brethren might “move.”

Who was selected was all-important. He must be carefully handpicked for the task. Above all else, he had to be a man who had demonstrated an absolute commitment to the changes underway—he must be a skilled cheerleader on Pasadena’s behalf, and one able to comfortably articulate the changes. He also had to be a smooth personality so he could make Mr. Pack’s administrative style seem more authoritarian. Above all, his loyalty to Pasadena must be unquestioned.

The Scranton, Pennsylvania pastor had the perfect resumé.

The man quickly arrived in the area. He raced to visit as many of the “lost sheep” as would see him. Several were interested to hear what he said. Above all, he stood for the changes, and said so.

“Naturally, I was curious about who would be my replacement. The selection showed Pasadena knew what they were doing. The man chosen did have a smooth personality, and was a cheerleader for every change made. Some of his sermon tapes were funneled to me, and he clearly came into the area with skirts twirling and pom-poms waving. He had the cheers down pat. Origen could not have given a better sermon ‘supporting’ the trinity than this man. I have his tape. This history will momentarily become more important.

“But other statements told the tale. He was shown my list of doctrine and policy changes, at the time somewhere about 100 in length, and proudly announced that he ‘agreed with every one of them.’ He stated this openly to person after person.

“Ironically, Joe Tkach Sr. was still denying in June 1993 the very changes that this man was actively agreeing with and teaching. I am including what Joe Tkach said in Columbus, Ohio, on June 12 in a sermon that was sent to be played in all churches, because by that point my list had reached him and was at 154 changes:

“Now I’m being accused of dismantling everything Mr. Armstrong had established. That I’ve done away with the Law and that the Ten Commandments are no longer required to be kept or observed. In II Corinthians 2:11 the Apostle Paul said lest we be deceived we should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, and that he is working through human beings who are just rumormongers and going around falsely accusing and making up lies that this is what Tkach is now doing or purported to be doing.”

“They’re spreading ugly rumors around and unfortunately some of our more gullible people will swallow hook, line and sinker when people are spreading around rumors and lies that, well, you see next year we’re going to be keeping Christmas and we’re going to be keeping Easter. We’re going to do away with the Sabbath. We’re going to do away with the Holy Days. We’re going to do away with unclean meats. We’re going to do away with this and that.”

“And I purportedly have made 154 changes. You know, someone has had to be eating poison mushrooms! You know what poison mushrooms, the effect it has—they’re toxic. It affects the brain—you begin to hallucinate. You get feverish, you know, you begin to act irrationally and everything else. That’s what happens, whereas the Spirit of God is of sound mind.”

“Another thing that I’m being accused of—that I no longer believe this is the true Church of God. I believe it with my whole heart. You are my witnesses.”

“The denial presented in this quote was a big element of dealing with the problem of what was happening. Each minister handled the problem in his own way for his own area, with seemingly no two saying the same thing. Some were so asleep that they were buying ‘hook, line and sinker’ statements like the one above, and denied to their congregations that anything was changing. Others knew that new doctrines were being presented, and they may or may not have agreed with them, but they denied the facts to keep their flocks in place.

“But Joseph Tkach’s statement demonstrates that I had anticipated most of the false teachings that would come, and Worldwide did make the changes that he so vehemently denied in Columbus and elsewhere. It was humorous, while also tragic, that my replacement was actively teaching new doctrines that supposedly ‘had not yet been presented by the WCG Headquarters.’

“Such was the deceit of the time—deceit attributed to me and others by those who were the real deceivers. And I include in this both the type of deceit from the Pastor General above and the type offered by my replacement who taught false (deceitful) doctrines. I wondered why my replacement never felt shot in the back by the Headquarters for whom he was so ardently cheerleading.

“My replacement would 26 months later ‘stand up for the truth,’ and leave the WCG to enter the largest splinter with over 200 drowsy Akron brethren happily following him. Incredibly—and this is its own statement about his new organization—he became its president in 2005!

“Let’s summarize. The friend I spoke with in Big Sandy would become the initial leader of the ministry in the largest splinter in 1995, and is still on its Council of Elders, and is still a regional pastor.

“The Indianapolis friend, having left his foxhole, would soon become this man’s replacement in the Cincinnati-based group, and would lead for many years the over 450 ministers that would join that organization.

“The Cleveland East friend would become the regional pastor of its headquarters region (one-tenth of the United States).

“The upset son-in-law minister who confronted me in Indianapolis about his in-laws’ concern, would go on to anchor the television program for the new splinter.

“And my replacement would quickly be a regional pastor, before going on to become president over the entire church of 20,000 attendants.

“No story of my life is complete without such facts. Of course, that these men ‘rallied in understanding’ and ‘found their voice,’ and ‘courage,’ at the last minute would only be known later. If this sounds like mocking, it is because it is. Remember Elijah with the prophets of Baal. And then remember how strong was Mr. Armstrong—and the apostle Paul—in describing grievous wolves coming among God’s flock.

“I have more respect for those who sold out completely and stayed in the Worldwide Church of God, openly accepting the changes, than for those who left professing to stand for the truth, while secretly holding to a host of false doctrines, as do their organizations.

“Oh that God’s people would look more closely at those whom they follow! But Adolf Hitler’s rule of leadership again presents itself, ‘What luck for rulers that men do not think.’”

Endless Calls—From the Beginning

After the excitement of the first Sabbath in Global, Mr. Pack wasted no time. The first order of business was to gather, organize and serve in practical fashion those who were fleeing the apostasy—the calls came from every corner of the world.

Growing numbers of brethren who had seemed to be in a trance, resigned to blindly follow Headquarters’ dictates, were jolted into action. Increasing hundreds began to ask questions more openly. Many with whom Mr. Pack spoke would hang up and immediately tell friends and family that they could call him.

Members of WCG from far and wide found there was a minister who thought and worked differently from their local ministers. A lady from Pennsylvania summarized it this way: “The other ministers talked. Mr. Pack taught.”

The more he repeated the explanation of the changes, the more it snowballed into increased responses.

Although unsure of the long-term effect of his firing on the Church, Mr. Pack was certain of one thing: The false doctrines that led to it could not remain still largely unrecognized for much longer.

To that point in his ministry, Mr. Pack had worked with or pastored over 8,000 people, and he knew that some would want to know the reasons for his termination.

It is important to note that Mr. Pack did not initiate contact with anyone after the Worldwide Church of God fired him, which gave him the moral high ground. Despite accusations to the contrary, he did not call or write the reported “lots of people” who did not first contact him. He did not attempt to “pick people off” after he was fired. In fact, it was not until four months after the fact that he wrote his entire congregation about the reasons for his departure from the WCG.

Even if he had wanted to do these things, he would not have had time! The first weeks after Mr. Pack gave his “Truth” sermon were followed by a frenzy of activity, as scores of people called wanting to understand the circumstances of his departure. For days on end, he had virtually no time to eat, drink or sleep.

During the first few days, local members jammed the phone line. Then brethren and a few ministers from across the country also began to call.

Same Two Questions

Nearly everyone asked variations of the same two questions: “What are the changes?” and “What should I do about them?”

Members were in a state of shock and needed answers. Receiving these calls caused Mr. Pack to realize that these questions had become central to the thinking of many now facing the painful reality that false leaders had captured the visible, corporate sheepfold—the Worldwide Church of God. Therefore, he spent a staggering number of hours answering the same two questions.

“I was overwhelmed with inquiries from the moment that I was fired from the WCG. There was such excitement.

“Soon after I would arise in the morning my phone would ring—and I learned that a phone can almost ring ‘off the wall.’ Often I was not yet out of my pajamas. I also did not always get to eat breakfast before the calls began. Sometimes lunch was also missed, and a couple times even dinner. I had to be careful of drinking water because I did not have time to excuse myself from the phone.

“Many were the times I spent entire days like this, and I did lose some weight from missed meals. I actually learned the ‘art’ of eating between responses—and sometimes this meant knowing the person I was talking to, or better stated, listening to, so I could chew some food. Some talked more than others, and I was happy for this. There were also the many people who would call me for ‘news of the Work.’ My day would end late at night, when I just could not talk further. Naturally, my wife would then want an end-of-the-day report.

“Eventually my neck began to hurt, and of course my ears felt like cauliflower virtually every day. After about 10 months, I went to RadioShack and bought a headset phone so I could walk and get dressed and hold a conversation, hands-free. When the battery went dead, my wife would have another phone recharged and waiting for me. We knew which phones would last which amount of times.

“I refer to the spring of 1993 as ‘the lost spring’—and this really included the summer. Because the apostasy developed for over two more years, and because my book (to be introduced momentarily) and tapes circulated more and more widely, this type of schedule would last for the greater part of two years.”

But all would not be well for long. Soon old patterns would come with new faces.

Chapter Forty – Growth and Priorities

From the beginning, the Global Church of God gave the impression that it would hold—at all costs—to the truth as taught by Mr. Armstrong. Remember the confirmation in the bylaws. Early sermons by Global’s leader, and others at its headquarters congregation, also reflected this focus.

At first, the organization did not have a magazine designed to reach the public, or a television program. There was simply the Global Church News, a basic publication for the members, and a growing number of congregations.

This was not in any way an indication that doing the Work was not important at the group’s beginning, but rather it reflected the reality that the organization first had to spend at least several months mobilizing. Basic structure takes time to establish. For the first few months of 1993, the immediate focus in Mr. Pack’s mind was on the re-gathering of a scattered flock. Only then could the Global Church of God move forward in a bigger way.

To produce a telecast or “reach the world in a big way” at the beginning, with only a handful of full-time ministers would have been ridiculous—or more accurately, impossible. Brethren were spiritually “dying where they sat” in the Worldwide Church of God. Thousands recognized the changes, but did not know what to do about them. These people needed much attention from the start.

This early mobilization period can be best described by the analogy that Mr. Armstrong used time and again—that of cocking a gun before a bullet is fired. (But, within six weeks, the leader was on one radio station with his then-named The World Ahead program.)

Mr. Pack would face this same reality again some years later, and the same practical sequence of steps in rebuilding the Work would once again be necessary.

Visiting and Starting Smaller Congregations

After some of the details of Mr. Pack’s termination became known, his reputation grew among troubled brethren—and ministers as well—as the person to talk to about the specifics of false doctrine. The countless hours on the phone were paying dividends. Small numbers of brethren in more pockets across the country were opening their eyes to the crisis at hand.

The result was predictable. Not only did people want to talk to Mr. Pack on the phone, afterward they also wanted to be visited.

Within weeks, Mr. Pack began to visit brethren across the Midwest. Meeting with individuals and small groups, he spread the truth—and word circulated. The requests continued.

“When can you come down here for a Bible Study?”

“Can you meet with our group?”

Such invitations began to mount as Mr. Pack acted largely on his own. With the Global Church of God’s office located in Southern California, he was given relatively free rein to meet with and “gather” as many brethren as possible.

Overjoyed, Mr. Pack forged ahead relentlessly.

One of the first places he visited was a little group in Toledo. By the end of April 1993, he had already driven across Michigan, meeting with individuals and tiny groups. He visited a small group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then another in Columbus, Ohio. Next it was “When can you come to West Virginia?” “Can you visit us in Cincinnati?” The trips went on and on, including several to Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolina. Also to Washington, D.C. He traveled to New Jersey and started a small group there. The same with Rochester and New York City and other places that came a little later.

Mr. Pack remembers the time vividly:

“Talk about on fire! I could appreciate the apostle Paul’s travels described throughout the book of Acts. At times the hours for both myself and my wife were grueling and it seemed like there was no possibility I would ever return phone calls from every person who requested counsel. I did not have a cellphone—very few did yet—and would return home from trips with my answering machine having shut off from so many messages left.

“But seeing little enclaves of people gathering in their homes early on waiting to talk to me, or for Sabbath services, reminded me of the steadfastness and zeal that brethren exhibited in the first-century Church. There was the ‘church that met in Philemon’s house,’ and another in ‘Archippus’ house,’ with also the Corinthian congregation meeting in the home of ‘Aquila and Priscilla.’ In Laodicea they met in Nymphas’ house.

“I counted up at one point that I had established 43 separate congregations in GCG, ranging from Maine to North Carolina to Milwaukee. But there were also some that I organized internationally by phone. There was the lesson that you do not need to have 500 people, or 700, or even 100, to have a congregation. You could meet in a house just as they did in the first century.

“I had never seen that before!

“Yet there was always the little jab that would come from the leader at the wrong time. I would get home from a trip where I had met with many and started several groups, increasing the size and income of GCG, and the presiding evangelist would be waiting to pounce because I had ‘spent too much money.’ In time I learned not to turn in some of my expenses. The ingratitude was too much to bear after the effort, so I just ate certain costs in order not to have to hear it.”

To experience times similar to the first century was amazing and motivating beyond what can be described. It provided Mr. and Mrs. Pack the fuel to keep going. Mr. Pack recalls, “The biblical account of Archippus was seared into my head as an example.”

The first two to three months were unbelievably busy as the Packs traveled across the Midwest meeting with those who shared the love of the truth.

This was a special time for everyone involved. Members who had been in the Church for many years—some for decades—began to feel their “first love” for God’s Way rekindled.

Nearly a Whole Generation Lost

One of the most tragic aspects of the apostasy was that teenagers and young adults, especially “second generation kids”—those who had grown up in the Church—departed from the truth in even greater percentages than did adults. Ultimately, roughly 75 percent of adults walked away from all that they had believed. Among those age 25 or younger, the figure is probably closer to 90 or 95 percent.

Many parents in the WCG, even during the years when the Church was on track doctrinally, had been lax in childrearing, with many viewing programs such as Youth Education Services (Y.E.S.) and Youth Opportunities United (Y.O.U.) as little more than babysitting services. Their children were now reaping what they had sown—or more accurately had failed to sow.

Another factor that badly disillusioned many young adults was that standards of conduct at Ambassador College had terribly deteriorated alongside the doctrinal slide. Those who arrived in Big Sandy or, before it was closed down, Pasadena, expecting to find an oasis, instead faced a harsh reality: there was now little difference between students at AC and those attending an average college or university.

Of all the young people in the WCG at the time, Mr. Pack’s sons may have been in the most trying, and sometimes surreal, circumstances. Robert Pack recalls,

“The fact that Randy and I were sort of held up as ‘badges of honor’ for the church was an interesting subplot of sorts. After my father was disfellowshipped, all of the administrators instantly turned to us to see if we were going to follow him, and when we didn’t, it was used as ammunition against him. It was portrayed that even his two sons thought he was ‘eating poison mushrooms,’ as Mr. Tkach once said from the pulpit in reference to my father’s list of doctrinal changes.

“The irony here is that my father realized that both of his sons were now adults, and they had to examine the situation for themselves, and ultimately, make their own decisions. I remember my father very directly telling us, ‘You’re both men and have to examine the issues, prove all things, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. But I’ll be here for counsel when you need me.’

“I have a lot of respect for my father for handling the situation this way when at the time the fact that we stayed behind in the WCG did publicly give him a black eye.”

Still Documenting Changes

While traveling and counseling personally, Mr. Pack continued his progress in documenting the changes underway in the Worldwide Church of God. His personal Bible study and efforts to document the changes were about to have a more dramatic impact than he or anyone could have imagined.

Begun in December 1992, the reader saw that the list Mr. Pack had written for his own edification had grown into a box of paperwork that documented the changes in meticulous fashion. As a result, the assertion that the new administration was not making changes was becoming completely indefensible.

Many brethren in the Akron area remember when they asked “What changes?” and Mr. Pack arrived at their home with a box of files and clippings—proof of the changes—in his arms. Now the numbers asking, and the changes made, were mounting. There had been no slowdown.

One of the most deceptive elements of the changes is that the WCG was incredibly subtle in announcing them. New doctrine was rarely—if ever—announced plainly by the Pastor General from the pulpit. Bringing hard documentation was key.

The standard practice was to make passing comments in sermons or briefly allude to them in one of multiple church publications, such as the Worldwide News, or the Pastor General’s Report, which was read only by ministers. As a result, many changes went largely unnoticed. Even the careful listener and reader could not always discern what was being said. Each new doctrine had to be carefully spelled out, with contrasting quotes—old versus new.

This made the task of properly identifying and documenting false doctrines a time-consuming undertaking. Still, in just one short month after his termination, Mr. Pack identified well over 100 distinct doctrinal errors, as well as policies and changes in tradition, that had been introduced. Often brethren who heard this figure were stunned, and then skeptical that so many changes had really occurred. Weary of trying to convince others that the defection from truth had progressed this far, Mr. Pack renewed his zeal to organize all of his work.

“Within a month after my termination, I had discovered well over 100 changes in teaching. By early May, I had created a somewhat more formal list, which I typed out for distribution to anyone who asked for it. Somehow this still-early list found its way to Joseph Tkach.

“Later, a story was told about Mr. Tkach’s reaction to my book, now no longer just a list. Apparently, someone sent him a copy that was probably around its sixth or seventh edition. I think someone had actually ordered one for him under a different name. When he received it, several were present. It was by then already a very large document.

“It was reported to me by an eye-witness that Mr. Tkach paged through it, got angry because it was costing the WCG a lot of money and members, and in anger picked it up and threw it all the way across his office.

“I often wondered after this point if he ever came to understand himself all that he had overthrown of God’s Way. There are those who believe that he never really understood himself what those around him had wrought.”

Mr. Pack tried not to write this initial document in a spirit of attack or hostility toward the men who personally made the changes. He had no interest in attacking personalities. True ministers are for the truth, not against individuals.

Although Mr. Pack was not bitter, he knew it was vitally important to clinically—and accurately—inform Church members about the changes. This provided the tools necessary to make a well-informed decision about their course of action. They would have facts.

The best way to describe his feelings at the time is “righteous indignation.” As Mr. Pack knew from so many hours of studying, such feelings are not wrong. Examples are found throughout the Scriptures, and even God Himself shows this kind of anger.

The Bible contains a long list of God’s servants who had to point out error even though it brought persecution from their detractors. In identifying the errors of the Worldwide Church of God, Mr. Pack considered himself neither a villain nor a hero. He understood that the truth is the “pearl of great price,” and he was determined to keep it “full, round and smooth—allowing none to be chipped away.” His duty as a minister, and his training by Mr. Armstrong, required him to help as many sheep as possible do the same.

Simply put, he was just unwilling to compromise.

“I knew that I was being vilified in the worst possible way, and in nearly every corner of the world. It taught me the real meaning of Matthew 5:11-12—‘Blessed are you when all men revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My [Jesus’] namesake…for great is your reward in heaven.’

“The value of such nonstop slander would only later be known for its true worth. There would come a time when the organization I had helped build, spearheaded by its leader, would falsely accuse me in ways that made what the WCG did seem like a child’s story.”

Except There Come a Falling Away—

and the “30 Reasons” Sermons

With much clerical help from others, the early typed list morphed into a more formal document, at first titled “What Are the Changes?” This list held 154 doctrines by early May, and Mr. Pack made it available for any who asked. He eventually renamed it Except There Come a Falling Away, based on II Thessalonians 2:3, which warns of an apostasy in the end-time, and only at that time did greatly expand to become the first edition of a looseleaf notebook.

Now that the simple list was answering the first question on everyone’s mind, “What are the changes?”, it was soon realized that even though thousands now recognized what the changes were, they did not know how to proceed.

At first, Mr. Pack duplicated the list on standard 8.5” x 11” paper in small quantities at a local copy center. But as time progressed, the document underwent a metamorphosis. It eventually became the book There Came a Falling Away. This is because Mr. Pack concluded that the apostasy had largely become complete, and a title in the past tense better reflected this. Of course, it is understood that the splinters are still going off into wrong doctrines of every stripe and color. But the bigger point was made.

“Jesus Christ is in charge,” many said. “Let’s just wait and let Him solve it.”

Mr. Pack’s response was straightforward and unwavering: “No, we must follow the truth. Where it goes, we must go.” It appeared that brethren needed to be explicitly shown what they must do. Remember, Joseph Tkach was still largely denying the changes to the brethren, as evidenced by his June Columbus, Ohio sermon. It was this sermon that became the catalyst for the first of 13 editions of Except There Come a Falling Away.

“30 Reasons” Sermons

It was this realization—that many could now clearly see and understand the changes, but were confused about what to do next—that prompted Mr. Pack to prepare a series of special sermons. This series complemented the book. Each sermon had a slightly different title—“30 Reasons to Follow the Truth,” “Another 30 Reasons to Follow the Truth” and “30 Final Reasons to Follow the Truth”—with 90 documented scriptural points and principles in total.

These messages explained that recognizing the changes was only the first step in a two-step process. In the first part of the series, Mr. Pack presented a biblical perspective of what was seen to be a very large doctrine never taught in the Church in a coherent way. This teaching is summarized best by the question, “What does God (not men) say to do in an apostasy—during a time when false leaders have captured the corporate ‘Church’?”

It has been estimated that as many as 10,000 to 15,000 people heard those tapes and left the WCG for one of several major “splinter” groups. Some of the top officials in GCG acknowledged that perhaps 5,000 of these came with Global. Many more than this hold various editions of the book.

Why was this series necessary? Although Mr. Armstrong had been forced to address different elements of false ministers finding their way into the Church, neither he nor anyone else expected a full-blown apostasy in this age.

Since Jesus Christ was the Head of the Church, it was assumed that false leaders could never capture the corporation. Accordingly, since He was in charge, He would certainly make sure the Church was “put back on track” at a point, just as had occurred in the 1970s—one simply needed to be patient until God did this.

To leave what was thought to be “God’s government in the Worldwide Church of God” was inconceivable—incomprehensible—for most people. For many, cracking or altering this equation was completely out of the question. It still is for some who have remained there all these years. This forced Mr. Pack to carefully research God’s instructions to Christians if these circumstances did arise—and he was amazed at how much the Bible had to say on the subject. God’s Church had been infiltrated by false leaders time after time through its history, beginning in the first century.

This series presented the straightforward scriptures and biblical principles, with corresponding proof and necessary quotes at times from other material, of why Christians should always pursue the truth—the Word of God—and never follow human leaders who have departed from it.

The first sermon began the process of answering the second of the two questions—“What do we DO about the changes?”

Mr. Pack gave Part One of the series on May 15, 1993. News of it spread quickly, and did so around the world. It was helpful to have the changes listed in one convenient document, and now there was also a sermon available. The response was phenomenal. Those who had been aware of the changes—but uncertain of how to respond—began to take action immediately.

“Shortly after my termination, I began to realize that the Bible had much to say about the supremely important responsibility that every true servant of God has to follow the truth no matter what! During this time, when I saw so few brethren and ministers willing to take a stand in the face of the holocaust engulfing the Church, I knew that I was missing something in God’s Word—perhaps something that had never before been taught to the Church—that we as God’s people did not yet understand.

“I soon discovered what it was.

“Reflect for a moment. All of God’s people and ministry once believed the very thought that false leaders could capture the visible corporate sheepfold was incomprehensible—it was literally inconceivable. Strangely, despite the well-known pattern of Church history, this was something the Church had come to believe simply could not happen, and was actually thought to be impossible! Of course, we learned otherwise. But here was the problem. Prior to this, because we thought such capture impossible, no one had ever taken the time to examine the Bible, let alone teach, what God’s people should do in such an awful crisis. It was as though we thought that God tells His people what to do in every other—and lesser—kind of spiritual problem and difficulty, but that His Word was devoid of instruction for what to do when the worst kind of trial possible strikes the whole Church collectively.

“Believing that God could not have ignored such a titanic understanding in His Word, I set out to discover what He expects His people to do in the event that enemies have seized His organizational structure.

“Over the next 20 months, through October 1994, I learned that the Bible is actually full of instruction, exhortation and direct commands about what to do in the face of false leaders and/or false doctrine. In the strongest possible terms, God explains that the person who loves and has proven the truth must follow it no matter the price. (I also discovered that Mr. Armstrong had said more about this than I thought.) Each time my study reached 30 more points—‘reasons’—I delivered another sermon in the series.”

Global Leader Visits Ohio

In June 1993, the presiding evangelist of GCG came to Ohio to meet with the brethren. Services were in Columbus, and about 200 brethren came from all around for the meeting.

“This was the first time that the leader of Global came to Ohio. He stayed in our home, and the visit was pleasant. His purpose was to meet the brethren from all over Ohio and other areas for services, with a follow-up Bible Study so that any questions could be answered. He wanted to travel and meet people on a regular basis, so this was good. I had started a little group in Columbus, and another in Cincinnati, and both were also there. There had been another group started in Michigan, and perhaps other places, and all within range were there.

“Before and after the Sabbath we discussed plans for the first conference that would occur the next month in San Dimas. He told me that he wanted me to do as much writing as possible for the church’s publications. We spent some time covering ideas for articles. He placed no limits on the subjects I could cover, so that was encouraging.

“Certain ideas about the structuring of the church were also discussed, as were the names of some men who were contemplating coming with GCG.

“Not many problems had yet arisen in Global, so doctrine was not much in our discussion, except for the fact that the leader made evident that he was not ‘moving away from what we had all believed.’ It would remain unclear what this meant.

“Of all things, Joe Tkach Jr. happened to be on the same flight with him, bound for another destination. He reported that they did not take time to ‘catch up.’”

New York Trip with Presiding Evangelist

Ten months later, Mr. Pack was asked to meet the Global leader again, this time rendezvousing in New York City. It was now the spring of 1994. Mr. Pack’s role as designated tour guide was being called upon. And it was a chance to meet the brethren in New York for the Passover. The story is covered here because it contrasts with the visit of the previous June.

“The visit was again a generally pleasant visit. I took the Global leader to all the most interesting parts of New York City, including tours of the Federal Reserve Bank, a walk through Central Park, and a journey to the top of the Twin Towers.

“I will never forget the discussion that occurred on the way up the escalator to the elevator that took us to the top. It continued through the line to the ticket counter. The leader had changed the ‘designated successor’ from the senior evangelist who had come with him the previous April to my brother-in-law, that man’s younger brother.

“The older brother was the soundest doctrinal mind in the church—by far—and had been ordained an evangelist in 1952. He had come with Global about a month after I did. We had stayed closely in touch during the preceding year to this point.

“While this man was not a natural leader, by any means, he was the most senior evangelist in the church (dating to the same period as the presiding evangelist), and he was again the most doctrinally sound, including the presiding evangelist. For instance, this man knew that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah, the truth about interracial marriage, and that of marriages between baptized and unbaptized people. He also had a few other points that were correct, where GCG and other groups would go wrong.

“Another point is important. Mr. Armstrong had also told him ‘six to 12 times,’ as this man reported, that the Global leader was never converted. Yet, like me, he was willing to put this warning aside in the belief that the man would ‘hold fast.’ (Later, this man would come full circle back to this position.)

“This account is related here because readers must understand why none of us were yet willing to leave GCG. This man and I talked constantly through the years. We and others were watching closely. We wanted to be sure before God of every position that we took.

“Now he was no longer the designated successor. My brother-in-law was. Both were men of great integrity in my opinion, but the older brother had far and away the stronger doctrinal mind.”

Early Global Members

It has been explained how Mr. Armstrong never permitted an open-door policy in the WCG. An early question arose regarding how to examine from a central Headquarters the sincerity of faraway people coming with the Global Church of God, and to do so when there was not yet much literature to prove what the Church believed.

No one had experience with receiving what turned out to be the many different kinds of “brethren” who surface during an apostasy. It became easy to let people in whose only comment was that they were “upset with the changes.”

“In the early days of Global, many people entered who were no more converted than stumps. But it would take time to see this. Many of them brought doctrines and theories that represented a host of ideas and kinds of thinking that were no less wrong or even crazy than the apostates. I used to often say that there were ‘no end of rebels, rogues, rascals, renegades, reckless thinkers, ax-grinders, politicians, flatterers, heretics, troublemakers, tares, mega-tares and other assorted oddballs and kooks that had come into GCG.

“It eventually became evident to me that a lot of people who came to GCG were little more than people who had ‘messed in their nest,’ and needed a new, cleaner one in which to start over. They were not ‘fleeing to the truth,’ they were ‘escaping a mess’ they had made.

“Sadly, and this soon exacerbated the problem of who was permitted in the door, these kinds of people were also well represented in the early ministry that came over from the WCG. A lot of these men never should have been ministers in the first place, and were no less goofy in their thinking than some of the brethren just described. The net effect was that wild ideas grew up everywhere. It was as though every minister in the WCG had been secretly holding to doctrines that they could not wait to deliver. Ironically, a church now in complete apostasy had not permitted them an audience. They had to ‘stand up for the truth’ in order to teach their falsehoods.

“What was most troubling, and I saw this early on in a big way, was that the leadership in California did not care. It was as though they learned nothing from the apostasy. Other groups were as bad or worse. The presiding evangelist constantly stressed that we needed to ‘have love’ and ‘be understanding’ because ‘people were wounded,’ and that we need to give them a place to go. There was no talking him out of this.

“At first I could not understand how he could think this way, why he could let such unsound ministers and brethren come among us—and you would see them at the Feast in great numbers. Even when they caused problems, some of them no end of problems, they were permitted to remain. Eventually I learned the ugly truth—it was ‘about the money,’ but also it was about bragging rights over numbers attending. It became clear during the apostasy that there were tens of thousands of carnal minds and outright tares throughout the Worldwide Church of God—but it was just as clear that the unconverted generally pay tithes like everybody else.

“The presiding evangelist wanted tithes—and wanted the people numbers that brought bragging rights. There was no mystery to the money angle because he said so time and time again. This would later lead to my very greatest confrontation with the man—but this would be several years after Global began. All I could think was, Where is the faith that GOD will provide for His Church if we do not compromise His standards—if we please Him?

“Early on, it was hard to recognize that many wrong kinds of people were entering GCG. There were people and ministers not at all of God. The apostasy would teach, if nothing else, that many ministers never understood anything. An irony of some of the ministers that came early on is that they were known as some of the oddest ministers who had ever been in the ministry. The more balanced ministers in the WCG, converted or not, saw this. The goofies were dealt with there. But the apostasy gave them a chance to start over—and to do so as a HERO. What could be better?

“Another obstacle that often permitted the wrong kind of people to get in is that you were barely able to know people well when working with them only by phone, and from so far away at that.

“I absolutely would not throw open the door in my own congregations—and this brought some criticism of being harsh from the presiding evangelist. Coming from a man who had a long history of requiring people and ministers to make bricks without straw made this difficult—but necessary—to take!

“This element of the Global Church of God and apostasy make-up was valuable training for me. I was working with many hundreds of people around the world in the Laodicean age. This would help prepare me to write vitally important things later.

“It was not long before I realized that all who ‘glitter,’ meaning who appeared to be brethren escaping the apostasy, were not gold. In fact, over time, I came to realize that the worst tares in the WCG departed with the wheat for the splinters that were forming. I came to understand that, after a point, the devil could better use them in the splinters and slivers, the places where all of God’s people had gone.

“The WCG had gone over a cliff and washed out to sea. Think! What would be the value in the devil keeping his best agents in what had become a church of the world.”

But there would be many other problems in the Global Church of God. The years ahead would reveal them.

Reproving the Truth

From the start of the Global Church of God, Mr. Pack urged everyone who contacted him from the WCG to use the written materials and sermons as resources to help them find the right direction. The task of analyzing and documenting all the changes that had occurred was far more than just a personal exercise. Again, it had an enormous impact on thousands of brethren around the world!

But the experience taught him a lesson that he has continued to remind others to take to heart.

“Unless truths are personally proven on a very deep level,” Mr. Pack has said, “they are not your own convictions—and they will not last. You only have what could be called borrowed information.”

He continually stressed that a Church member could not coast on another’s personal conviction. He knew that individuals would have to prove the truth again for themselves.

For this reason, Mr. Pack made his list of doctrinal changes available in increasing numbers. The intention was that the list would be a complete roadmap for brethren to navigate the tangled path that lay ahead of them as the Worldwide Church of God continued to derail, toward a total unraveling.

There was the vital need for all of God’s people to reprove old truths to make them new again in the mind.

Global Grows

During the first three to six months after Mr. Pack’s termination, the demand for the list was very high. Many wanted to learn of the changes firsthand.

Throughout this process, Mr. Pack followed Jesus’ command in Matthew 10:8: “Freely you have received, freely give.” When necessary, he personally funded the distribution of the book, so that any who asked could receive it.

“The Global Church of God headquarters would not fund one dime of my efforts with the book for the first year, and very little after that—and then only did it because my brother-in-law, in charge of Church Administration and aware of the facts, would sneak me a check now and then. Headquarters also would not help with any of the ‘30 Reasons’ sermon tape costs until the presiding evangelist decided that one should be sent directly from California. He certainly did want to receive the tithes from brethren who came as a result of the book, but I had to either count on donations from those who wanted to help offset the huge costs of distributing such a large document, or pay for them myself.

“In this sense, I worked largely alone inside the Global Church of God. I will certainly admit that mine was a somewhat separate ministry within the general GCG ministry. Exactly as Mr. Armstrong had cooperated with Sardis, he was even willing to take a salary from them until the conflict of conscience was too great, while not personally knowingly compromising the truth, I did the exact same with Laodicea. Of course, also like Mr. Armstrong, there would come a point where the relationship could not continue.

“That others might see my actions as ‘serving his own interests,’ or ‘acting independently,’ when they would never themselves have put in the time or the money, let alone both, to do the same—on top of having been fearful of leaving Worldwide ‘too early’—carries little weight with thinking people.”

The reach of this material was truly “global” in nature. A South African member related his experience:

“We started realizing that things were not right in the Church when the ministers started coming back from Pasadena from a Refresher. They started bringing little things out in sermons that didn’t sound quite right. We asked them about it and nobody would really say anything. A friend of mine and I were both concerned about what was happening in the church in Cape Town and, of course, throughout South Africa as we were in contact with members in the north as well. My friend came to me and said, ‘Look what I found.’ It was a manuscript by Mr. Pack. I think there was a list of 100 or 120 changes that were occurring.

“We phoned friends in Johannesburg and a couple of them had also received this manuscript. We had no idea where it came from. It just sort of got passed around. My friend and I tried to find Mr. Pack by asking the ministers. They were so secretive and protective that nobody would say anything.

“So we made copies and distributed it around to as many people as wanted it. We were warned not to distribute literature that would cause division in the Church. We tried to ask how it could cause division, when these were the teachings that had brought me into God’s Church in 1966.

“I asked the pastor at dinner one night, ‘How can you say that all this that Mr. Armstrong brought us for the past 50-odd years was wrong and these changes are right?’

“The answer he gave then became part of a sermon. He said to the brethren, ‘I’ve just come back from Pasadena…just give yourself two years and you’ll understand these changes.’ When we spoke to him after services, we asked, ‘How can you tell us two years? When God called us we understood the truth as we learned and proved it. We never waited two years. We studied the Correspondence Course, read articles in the Plain Truth—we understood. Our minds were opened up to the truth.’

“That manuscript certainly helped us. It affected a number of people in South Africa. That was like a lifeline that people were hanging on to, and it was distributed throughout the country. It was faxed to my friend from someone in New York.”

Mr. Pack’s phone went on to ring at an unprecedented rate as word spread that this information was available free of charge. Many, understanding the importance of what they were receiving, offered to help cover duplication and postage expenses so the books and tapes could be printed and distributed in greater quantities.

As the summer of 1993 became fall, it was encouraging to see the Global Church of God growing in numbers. During this period, several additional full-time ministers were hired. This directly aided Mr. Pack—a great deal. Prior to this time, the entire East Coast had been solely his responsibility.

Brethren from around the country, and small numbers internationally, began to stream into the Church. Further, after studying the list and speaking with Mr. Pack, more ministers began to respond as well.

“A story was told that became well-known. One member in Montana, a state with only a few hundred in attendance, distributed There Came a Falling Away (I later slightly altered the title) to every household, or virtually every one, in the state. Almost immediately 20 percent in attendance left the WCG for GCG.”

It must be stated that the first sermon on “30 Reasons” created a miniature worldwide firestorm. But Mr. Pack did not stop studying the subject simply because he had reached a round number of biblical principles explaining what people should do in the apostasy. He continued through the summer and fall of 1993 and delivered a second sermon on December 15.

Resentment Surfaces

Despite the growth during this period, the presiding evangelist was displeased. He felt that the success of Mr. Pack’s writing and preaching deflected some of the light that he thought should shine wherever he stood.

Although hundreds were streaming into Global, the leader began to denigrate Mr. Pack’s efforts, reducing it to “driving all over the East Coast spending money.”

This was partially correct. Mr. Pack did drive up and down the East Coast for the first year of his ministry in the Global Church of God—but he did so on available time within his ministerial schedule, and, again, in part at his own expense. (It should be remembered that his own congregation had become quite small. There was not much local work to do.)

Moreover, as brethren steadily flowed into Global, he realized it was bearing fruit.

The leader’s motivations quickly became clear. To a degree, Mr. Pack’s materials had become the “face and voice” of the Global Church of God to many individuals, especially on the East Coast of the United States. But this was not by design. It was a natural result of the books and sermons being a catalyst for action for many.

Because of this, the leader privately told some at Headquarters, “Dave Pack is doing his own thing.”

In a sense, this was also true. At the very beginning, there had been no administrative structure in the Global Church of God. Since Mr. Pack was the first field minister hired, he pastored all of the East Coast by himself. This is why he had been hired—to reach as many people as possible and help them open their eyes!

Nevertheless, Mr. Pack’s goal had never actually been to run an independent ministry or to divert the focus away from Headquarters. He understood that God’s government is always led by one man—and that it functions from the top down. He viewed himself as a field minister whom circumstances had compelled to produce tools to help suffering brethren. But it seemed that Global’s leader viewed him in a competitive light.

Third “30 Reasons”

In his third “30 Reasons” sermon, Mr. Pack urgently stated, “They’re going to throw everything out. They’ve already thrown out 90 percent of the truth and the rest will follow shortly,” referring to the WCG’s apostate leadership.

By October of 1994, Mr. Pack had learned still more about what God says to do when false leaders capture the visible organization. He was also positive that the Worldwide Church of God had to soon throw out God’s Law, His Sabbath, the annual Holy Days, tithing, and probably other things, including the truth about unclean meats. This was partly because these were about the only things left to dismiss, but it was also because “leaven always leavens the whole lump.”

But more was happening behind the scenes.

“Word of another church forming was growing. It was everywhere on the wind. But greater numbers were also pouring with Global. This was producing internal pressure within the disaffected WCG contingent to ‘do something sooner.’

“I wanted to preempt them.

“A quote from Mr. Armstrong spurred what would be a third ‘30 Reasons’ sermon. In a sermon he had once said, ‘If I am ever not honest with God’s Word, you reject me as God’s apostle.’ This was the 90th and final reason in the series, and it may have had more effect than any other 10 reasons put together.

“I am still grateful to those who so generously gave their time in researching things that ultimately, I am convinced, saved a great many people who would have been devoured by the wolves leading the WCG.”

Condescendingly dismissing Mr. Pack’s warning, Global’s leader told him, “They have not thrown everything out, and they are not going to. You are exaggerating what is happening!”

Using this as a premise, Global’s leader refused to send out the audio tape to be played in all congregations as he had done with Mr. Pack’s first “30 Reasons” sermon—even though several senior men at Global Headquarters urged the presiding evangelist to do so. These senior leaders recognized them as the most effective tools the Church had for reaching those trying to make sense of the confusion. Yet the leader refused.

Soon afterward, word reached Mr. Pack that this evangelist was saying, “They should be talking about my sermon tapes…Instead they are talking about Dave Pack’s books and tapes. Brethren should be mentioning my name more. I’m the leader of this Church.”

“I got calls from Global’s Headquarters that I should tread softly. There were many private supporters out there who wanted to hear my sermons, and who were reading the mail, which constantly reflected people saying they were coming with Global because of my first book and my ‘30 Reasons’ tapes.”

Even as late as 1997, lay members could still sense this dynamic. A longtime member of the Church from Ohio, a man who had attended another splinter before joining Global that year, and who is an elder, recalls,

“I remember talking to the leader of Global at the Feast, and since we were new to that group, he asked, ‘What prompted you to come to Global?’ I said, ‘Largely it was the two books that Mr. Pack wrote (Falling Away as well as a later work titled Except the Lord Build the House.)’ That brought a cool reception. I wondered why, because the books were mostly quotes from Mr. Armstrong and others.”

Others in the Global office in San Diego understood the situation, and conveyed to Mr. Pack their appreciation of his sermons.

Downplaying the rumblings of resentment, Mr. Pack pressed forward with the simple understanding that he was helping people. He strove to avoid the petty disputes brewing three time zones away.

“It took two and a half months for Global’s leader to agree to send out my tapes. But he only then did it because Mr. Tkach formally threw out the Law, Sabbath, Holy Days, tithing and the truth about unclean meats in a sermon given on December 31, 1994. When news of this horrific sermon got out, he was all ahead full. The moment he was able to connect the final ‘30’ sermon to enhanced revenue, the tape was literally mailed to all GCG brethren as fast as they could make sufficient copies.

“What surprised me was that he could not see that the conspirators would throw out the last remaining truths—or that they had already thrown away 90 percent of the truth before that time. Yet, because he resented my book, like Mr. Tkach himself, Global’s leader never read it, or at best may have read only a small portion in order to say that he had.

“Tragically, he never himself understood the scope of the apostasy—meaning all that was at stake in God’s great trial upon His people. Resentment blocked this understanding, and it still does.”

This part of the story leads to other early events and elements of the Global Church of God. There would be serious cracks in its foundation from the beginning.

Chapter Forty-One – Deeper in Global

Almost from the outset, issues began to arise in the new GCG organization. Some were serious. Outwardly, the Church’s leadership appeared to be upholding the truth, and appeared to be upholding who and what was Herbert W. Armstrong. But in private discussions behind the scenes, another story was unfolding.

The First False Doctrine

It is obvious by now that maintaining pure doctrine was ever-present in Mr. Pack’s mind. At the same time, learning the privately held beliefs of Global’s leader was a process.

In a phone conversation with Mr. Pack, the leading man said emphatically, contrary to what the Church had long believed, that “the Church is not our Mother.” He had also written this in a publication. (The analogy of God’s Church as the spiritual Mother of its members is made plain by a number of scriptures. The subject was not in doubt under Mr. Armstrong—it was never challenged to anyone’s knowledge.)

Mr. Pack was perplexed, thinking the other man may have simply expressed himself in an unclear manner. Reminding him that Mr. Armstrong had long taught this, he asked, “You mean that the Church is not our Mother when leaders begin teaching false doctrine…right?”

The presiding evangelist replied that he believed this doctrine as taught by Mr. Armstrong was incorrect. Mr. Pack could not believe what he was hearing. Incredulous, he repeated, “Do you mean that the Church is not our Mother when the organization goes into an apostasy and throws out the truth?”

“No. The Church is not our Mother. That teaching is wrong.”

“This was the first subject that I recall discussing with the church’s leader during which I found we were not in agreement with what Mr. Armstrong and the Church had always taught. I certainly did not yet think, ‘Here we go again,’ but I was very surprised that something so basic had been lost to the leader’s understanding. I was also surprised that he would have actively formulated such a belief on something that so obviously should have been left alone. I thought it to be a particularly foolish heresy. In fact, I believed that time would bring him around. I thought he would see it.

“But this would not be the only early ‘investigative’ conversation in which I received troubling answers.”

A Different Gospel

Some short time later, the leader then mentioned in a sermon that he felt Jesus Christ was part of the gospel—that this message was not solely about the kingdom of God. Again, Mr. Pack tried to understand what he was saying. “You mean He was ‘part of the gospel’ in the sense that He was the Messenger that brought it, right?” he asked.

“No, He’s part of the gospel.” No real explanation followed. Mr. Pack recalled this:

“This discussion had an unusual beginning. The man was looking for help in writing the necessary basic booklets to get the Work restarted. I offered to start by writing a gospel booklet, plus others, and he agreed. I told him that I would be covering the kingdom of God in some detail. He was fine with that.

“I decided to write the booklet in two parts, so that it could do ‘double duty’ by first appearing in the Global Church News magazine. I sent in part one and waited to see the first article. Some months passed before, to my surprise, the leader suddenly came out with a full gospel booklet of his own. He had not told me that he had decided to write it himself. Most troubling was that he had Christ as part of the gospel—he was mixing the Messenger with the message. I referred to his gospel as a hybrid of true and false.

“This was a more serious error. All error is serious, of course, but the gospel of the kingdom of God is not just the absolute centerpiece of the entire New Testament, but also of the whole Bible. If one did not understand the true gospel, or taught something different from the kingdom of God, curses kicked into place. Read Galatians 1:6-9. I had emphasized this in my part one article.

“I called the leader to discuss the matter, first reminding him that he had designated me to write the booklet, and asking why he had not told me that he was writing it instead. I could have saved time. He simply said, ‘I should write this booklet.’ It was obvious that he disagreed with what I wrote, but was not courteous enough to tell me to stop writing.

“I related that the apostates had started down the same trail, eventually ending with the position that Jesus is the gospel. He was insistent that Mr. Armstrong always privately believed that Christ was part of the gospel, and that he had heard him say it in conferences in the early 1950s. I reminded him that Mr. Armstrong had neither said it in the 20 years since I was called in 1966, nor did he ever say it privately to me. Further, I explained the Bible was absolutely plain, and that I had studied the entirety of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, on the subject of the gospel, and it was about the kingdom of God—nothing else—with Jesus only preached in conjunction with the kingdom.

“He was adamant—and so was I. It ended as a quiet, but cordial, standoff. I did not buy what he said, and he did not buy what I said, and both of us knew it. His attempt at authoritative intimidation had also not worked.

“The story has a happy ending, however. My article went on to become the opening half of my first booklet in The Restored Church of God. The time spent had been profitable. The reader can actually see for himself what Global headquarters rejected.”

Government, New Moons and the Elijah

Perhaps the biggest issue that affected the organization immediately was the first piece of literature produced, a booklet titled Church Government and Church Unity. The leader wrote that God’s government was “collegial,” denoting some sort of shared or collective responsibility within a group of colleagues, with no person having much more authority than another. He made a point of saying that there was no “Moses” or “Pope Peter” figure in the New Testament—an obvious denigration of Mr. Armstrong’s understanding that Peter was the leading apostle in the early Church.

After the release of the booklet, Mr. Pack tried to confirm exactly what the presiding evangelist meant. He asked, “You mean that right now things are more collegial while we are getting organized. But you do not mean the government of God could ever have shared authority in that all or some of the ministers would serve as a collective committee running the group?”

“No,” he restated. “I am in charge, but the government of God is collegial.”

Mr. Pack realized that the new leader either completely misunderstood the most fundamental understanding of God’s government or simply disagreed with what Mr. Armstrong had taught! The word “collegial” derives from the word “college,” meaning that all are of equal status, rank or authority.

“This doctrine was no less troubling than the man’s gospel error. In fact, both subjects have to do with government, either in the world to come or the Church now. They were the two most important subjects in the mind of Mr. Armstrong. Recall that he also taught how, ‘Government is everything,’ and that he had been, ‘Raised up to restore God’s government to His Church.’

“In these early days, there was a fourth doctrine that the presiding evangelist had on his mind, talking about it privately almost everywhere he went. He wanted the Global Church of God to keep New Moons. He had a litany of terrible ‘reasons’ for this idea that were easy to shoot down with just basic understanding. He did not care what Mr. Armstrong taught, and it was obvious he wanted his own ‘signature’ on certain doctrines. He wanted to be able to show that he could be ‘original’ and could ‘grow.’

“There was no changing his mind. This doctrine almost turned into an open war in a couple of ministerial conferences, one of them hosted in Akron. It would go on to be the very first thing he brought up on the first day of the first meeting of the Global Council of Elders. Happily, the Council would never let him get away with this one.

“To make matters worse, in fact much worse, Global’s leader made it plain that he did not believe that Mr. Armstrong had fulfilled the role of the final Elijah to appear before Christ’s Return. This was huge, because it meant that he did not believe that ‘All things’ had been ‘restored’ to the Church during Mr. Armstrong’s leadership. He even hinted early on that he hoped God would use him to ‘shake the nations’ as Elijah did. He asked a number of men privately to pray that he would be able to do this.

“For the first time, however, the errant position of Global’s leader on a doctrine—how the government of God leads His Church—opened a door in my mind that I did not know how to close. He posed a dilemma for me, defined in the following way:

“We did not have a living apostle, and we had all been long aware—and it was taught by Mr. Armstrong—that truth only enters the Church through apostles. If the leader carried the same authority as did Mr. Armstrong in this way, he could throw out truths and ultimately scatter God’s people with no less effect than did Joe Tkach. And his pattern had already become very troubling. (Remember, he did not believe Mr. Armstrong had restored all things, having not been the Elijah. Therefore, some things were still ‘up for grabs.’) On the other hand, giving authority to either a Board of Directors or Council of Elders to block any proposed doctrinal changes—translated errors—seemed good. Yet it would not be what we all understood to be the pattern of God’s government. In other words, Global would have a wrong structure, but it would be capable of blocking a rogue presiding evangelist.

“At the time, from 1993 and forward, I saw no other solution. I would later have to acknowledge participating in a government that was wrong. But God knew the ONLY REASON for the position I took was to allow NO FALSE DOCTRINE into GCG.

“Ultimately, this dilemma is exactly why the large splinter that formed in 1995 chose to lead itself through an elected committee of 12 men. In effect, they let Joe Tkach’s actions cause them to throw out the only way that God has ever worked.

“Of course, in the end, Global’s leader brought in much false doctrine anyway, and the Council of Elders looked the other way, either because he signed their paycheck or, even after the apostasy, they still did not know truth from error.”

Because of this confusing public explanation of God’s government—in the very first piece of literature produced by the Church—hundreds of people rejected the Global Church of God and joined the Philadelphia Church of God, which capitalized on GCG’s error. Many knew the Philadelphia Church had new, strange doctrines, but its administration stayed closer to the correct government structure.

Would They Remain Private?

At the time, it was sometimes uncertain whether these doctrinal positions were the evangelist’s firmly held personal beliefs or simple speculation, since they contradicted the group’s bylaws. But, dismayed that he seemed to be unclear or unable to communicate even basic understanding, Mr. Pack was grateful that the man at least refrained from saying most of these things publicly in the earliest days. But when he did, most seemed not to hear.

“There were specific moments in time when each of the subjects referenced in these previous subheads were addressed in early conversations with the leader of Global. It was never all at once, meaning that we covered it in one long conversation. It was here a little and there a little all through my Global years. While I am sure that those who know me well, understand that I would actively pursue removing error to the ‘nth degree,’ it is important to state for the record that in fact I ALWAYS did this!

“I prosecuted every false teaching, I think, without exception. There was never a false doctrine—not one—that I was aware of being taught in the Global Church of God where I did not ‘ring the bell’ in either Council of Elder meetings, Regional Pastor meetings or annual conferences. These included doing so in private conversations with the leader and other leaders.

“I was truly the thorn in the presiding evangelist’s side, although I did not seek to be, but there were also others who saw me to be no less a thorn on matters of teaching.

“It is also important to state that I believed things would be righted in time. It was not remotely in my thinking that we were going to have to leave the Global Church of God right away. And there was still the ever-present question of where would one go if he did. But, after what we had all just experienced in the WCG, I was not about to let ideas pass that were wrong.”

A Troubling Episode

The official teaching on government was not the only problem in regard to this subject. Its practical application, in terms of administration in the field, was a disaster.

In January 1994, GCG hired its first ministerial assistant. He lived in Cincinnati, and he was assigned to Mr. Pack in Akron, Ohio, 200 miles away. But his father-in-law had come with Global in 1993, and was the pastor in Indianapolis, just 100 miles away.

Incredibly, the man as much as refused to report to Mr. Pack immediately after he was hired, choosing to report to his father-in-law instead. Somehow the man believed he could do this and was permitted to make his own choice.

“This was the most unbelievable thing in terms of field administration that I had experienced in all my years in God’s Church. I had never heard of such a thing. The man should have been immediately fired for insubordination—plain rebellion. Nothing like this would ever be remotely permitted in a worldly corporation. Imagine a new salesman just hired, and refusing to report to one district manager in favor of another, and because the other was his father-in-law.

“The brand new Church Administration Director, my brother-in-law, had just come with GCG only about 10 days earlier. He had been immediately put in an impossible position by his new boss, again, also his brother-in-law. First he went to Cincinnati to see the man, and then swung through Akron. He tried as hard as humanly possible to solve the problem, and create peace with his hands tied behind his back. He would never have tolerated the matter when he was a district superintendent, area coordinator or regional director, all positions he had held in the past. But he had no backing, and I finally encouraged him to just transfer the man away if Global’s leader was not going to fire him, because this status quo was intolerable. So he did.

“Any discussion of early problems would have to include the very disillusioning episodes such as these that were also occurring. Remember that this was on top of the fact that many ministers who had come with us should never have been in the ministry in the first place, let alone be thought of as men who had ‘stood up for the truth.’ Some of their wives were even worse. This young assistant’s father-in-law was a classic example. He had a head almost exploding with false doctrines and zany ideas. His son-in-law was in part a victim of in-law family pressuring him.

“What made the ‘Cincinnati assistant’ story most incredible was that Global’s leader thought that I must have in some way been harsh with the man—until my brother-in-law set him straight—when I had had no dealings with the man whatsoever. We had never even met to my recollection. It should not be surprising that this ‘assistant’ is now a pastor in the largest splinter.”

Another Ministerial Assistant

About five months later, Mr. Pack received a ministerial assistant sent directly to Akron. It was his nephew.

“My wife and I were thrilled to have our nephew come as a ministerial assistant to the area. I had had several assistants in the past, but it was quickly obvious that this would be the best one we had received. It was obvious that he belonged in the ministry. There were almost no other options for where to send him, so any concern about nepotism got trumped by reality.

“I had first met my ‘assistant’ in 1971 when he was standing in a little robe at the foot of my bed in Milwaukee at the age of two years. For the first time, I began to feel a little old. He was now 25.

“Unfortunately, he was only able to stay in Akron for about six months because the nature of my ministry was that I was on the phone a great deal, continuing to answer the same two questions described earlier. These were still coming from around the world. The goal was to give him training and I could not keep him busy enough. It was better that he work under a man who was a more traditional minister and pastor, even by the broader geographical standards of GCG.”

New Writing Opportunities

Scores turned into hundreds of brethren joining Global, but trained full-time ministers were still arriving in relatively small numbers. This led the GCG headquarters to rely on its few ministers to fulfill a variety of writing assignments for the Church’s fledgling publications.

Mr. Pack was asked to write as often as his schedule would permit. It had been 10 years since he had written his second article in The Good News, and he relished the challenge of learning to effectively present God’s truth in convicting fashion through the written word.

Mr. Pack wrote articles for The Global Church News such as “Which Came First—Truth or Love?” He also wrote articles for The World Ahead magazine, Global’s counterpart to The Plain Truth.

“At first, writing was a pleasure. I loved it. As often as I could find time, I wrote an article. Raymond McNair, the first Editorial manager, also urged me to write as regularly as possible. The subjects were usually of my choosing, until I was asked to write an article on Christmas and then later one on Easter. I may have the order wrong. Both of these appeared in GCG’s flagship World Ahead magazine.

“Things began to change when another inexperienced ‘personality’ got brought into the editorial process. This person was impossible to deal with, and would throw screaming fits right out in the open office. The reports of this were beyond belief, but it was tolerated. He was a young man, and was trying to teach me to do things a certain way when many of us knew more than he did. The Global ‘gospel booklet’ incident also did not help make the early writing effort rewarding.

“The kicker though was when the presiding evangelist told me that my Christmas article was ‘too strong.’ We went out to dinner and he unloaded on me in front of another man. I asked him who thought this, because I was hearing that people loved this long, carefully researched article. In fact, some people still mention it.

“He bluntly answered that he thought it was too strong, and that that was enough—that he was the leader.

“The next day, I was speaking to his direct assistant about the comments. The man was privy to everything going on around him. I asked if he knew of criticisms. In truth, I really did not care what was said and would probably not change the article one whit, given the opportunity. (Virtually all of it—and even stronger material—is within my Restored Church of God Christmas booklet today.)

“The assistant told me that over 1,100 favorable comments had come in. He explained that it was the most popular article that had been produced to date—by far! Only two criticisms came in—and these were from members of the Global leader’s personal family. One of his daughters-in-law and her father—an elder still in the WCG that the leader was hoping would come with Global—had complained.

“No wonder he would not tell me his source.

“Eventually, these kinds of wrong-headed situations and confrontations made it impossible for someone with a direct approach to continue to write for that church’s publications—and ultimately of course to even remain in the Global Church of God. At the time, however, these incidents were providing vital insight into the nature of the presiding evangelist. Problems were simply piling up on all sides.

“But there would be so much more yet to occur.”

Appointed Regional Pastor

Despite Mr. Pack’s periodic objections to doctrine or manner of administration, Global’s leader expressed implicit approval of Mr. Pack’s ministry by allowing him to be appointed one of three regional pastors in September 1994. From the beginning, he had actually already functioned within this capacity, covering much of the eastern United States. But now it was official. His new region included one third of the country, the eastern U.S., and eastern Canada. His responsibilities still included serving the needs of the local brethren, but now also organizing the full-time ministry.

“This promotion brought with it a wonderful opportunity to learn. Although I had trained many deacons, elders and ministerial assistants, I had never supervised pastors before.

“Eventually my region included seven pastors, besides myself. It was allowed to be largely my decision to put a man in New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., Charleston, West Virginia, Lansing, Michigan, Columbus, Ohio, and Rochester, New York. Akron was basically in the center of these cities.

“I visited all of the men and worked closely with them on difficult matters occurring in their areas. My job was to guide and support them. Some had never been pastors before at the time they were assigned to the northeast region. So it was very much a hands-on process of building pastorates and pastors. I was also training ministers who supposedly had already been trained, but who lacked an understanding of some of the most basic concepts of being a shepherd over Christ’s sheep.

“For a host of reasons, this additional training would be invaluable in my post-GCG years.”

WCG Throws Out the Law

In the meantime, the Worldwide Church of God remained in a state of terrible and worsening confusion. To help brethren make sense of the apostasy, Mr. Pack gave his final “30 Reasons” sermon, as mentioned, in late 1994. It was one last attempt to explain with precision the course a true Christian should take when the Church is in full-blown apostasy. It was the strongest of the three sermons.

Nine weeks later, Mr. Tkach gave his infamous sermon to the Atlanta, Georgia combined congregations, in which he “liberated” members from the need to obey God’s Law, the Sabbath, the Holy Days, tithing and dietary laws. What happened spread like wildfire. This act removed any doubt that the WCG was not the Laodicean era of God’s people. It had become completely Protestant—a church of the world! This had started with the local pastor sort of beating Pasadena to the punch on all these things, and then Mr. Tkach coming to supposedly sort out and correct matters. Instead, he went further.

The haunting words of Mr. Pack’s friend from years before echoed in Mr. Pack’s ears. Everything that the small band of doctrinal architects at Pasadena—now essentially Evangelical/Methodist ministers—had conceived was carried out according to plan.

“I distributed a lengthy synopsis of the local Atlanta pastor’s offending sermon, with a list of all the damning points broken out. That list spread far and wide, eventually landing in Pasadena—who simply could not look away. They had to take a position. The local pastor had in a sense, wittingly or unwittingly, called their bluff by jumping out front of them with full-blown agreement regarding what they were doing. That pastor had been a friend of mine from college and after. Somewhere he went terribly wrong. Now he had been premature—and had blown their cover. Faced with confirming or denying his message, no doubt very reluctantly, they confirmed. I was glad that my paper played a role in flushing the destroyers from the closet.”

By the hundreds, and then thousands, brethren began an exodus from the WCG. January through April of 1995 saw an explosion of members leaving for GCG, but also for PCG. It was throughout this time that many read There Came a Falling Away and heard the “90 Reasons” sermon series. In the wake of Mr. Tkach “throwing everything out,” the Global Church of God received a major surge of growth.

Humorous Story

Everything happening during this period was not grim and awful. There was some humor. Here is one example.

“One of my friends over the years was Mr. Frank McCrady, Jr., (not Frank III) referenced earlier in the biography. A funny story with a certain tragic twist in the middle is associated with him.

“Mr. McCrady was coming to Canton, Ohio, from Big Sandy, Texas, in the spring of 1995 to attend (or perform) his grandson’s wedding. He was asked to give the sermon. I heard that he had come, and asked certain former Canton members, now in Global, who were attending in Akron, if they could find out where he was staying and to see if he were willing to talk to me.

“It was reported back that he was willing to talk to me, and I called him at the number given.

“The call began cordially, but almost immediately he said to me, ‘Dave, you just got me in a lot of trouble. I am probably going to be fired on Monday (the next day) because of you.’ Having not talked to him in some years, and naturally surprised, I asked what he meant.

“He answered, ‘Just before I drove out of Big Sandy, someone handed me all three of your “30 Reasons” tapes. I listened to them over and over on the way, and got more and more angry as I got closer to Ohio. By the time I stepped behind the pulpit yesterday, I let it fly. It split the congregation right down the middle, and one woman actually jumped up and shouted at me from the congregation that she hoped I dropped dead of a heart attack right then. Half of them walked out, and the other half cheered. So I think I am going to be fired tomorrow or the next day.’

“I congratulated him, and suggested why should he have it better than the rest of us. We had a big laugh. I answered some questions on his mind. He was fired, and did come with Global.

“Still alive and healthy in his 80s, he is an example of one of the men residing in another group today whom I would love to talk to.”

Constant Theme—and Wrong Choices

Going back a little in time, because Mr. Pack was the first minister hired by the Global Church of God and was overseeing a large area alone, he was intimately involved in much of the early planning and organization of the Church. From almost the beginning in Global, he had long talks and visits with a growing number of men whom he had known since Ambassador College days. The conversations were generally about the ministers’ pastoral duties during the apostasy.

As Mr. Pack spoke with man after man, a frustrating and recurring theme emerged with almost every minister—few if any wanted to follow Global’s leader. Even this man’s brother-in-law expressed strong hesitation about leaving WCG and joining Global. He felt that this man had always been doctrinally sound and loyal to Mr. Armstrong, but he knew it would be a challenge to work with him. This kept him from coming with GCG until January 1994.

Despite these personal impressions, some few pastors did continue to trickle into Global.

“Some of the men who entered the Global Church of God should never have come with us. This is not because they were odd or strange men as some who have been described, but rather because they more belonged in United, and GCG had somehow become what is probably best described as ‘the church of their choice,’ much as people pick a church in the world. They would have been much more happy in UCG.

“However, I do not ever remember hearing that any minister at headquarters ever asked a single minister why he was choosing Global instead of United. Nor did I once hear that anyone ever asked ministers coming with us what he believed in order to determine whether or not he would be happy or compatible in the Global Church of God. Not once—except I did. With ‘numbers’ driving decisions, it just was not something that anybody cared about. The assumption was that men wanted to come with Global because of ‘the truth.’ That was enough. There was nothing of which truths, how much truth, or what they saw to be the truth, etc.—just ‘the truth.’

“This introduces an infamous Council meeting exchange regarding these kinds of ministers and brethren coming with GCG. It is a story that could be told in any of the Global Church of God chapters, but it probably best fits here.

“On one occasion, we were talking about the Church’s open door policy. I was very animated. One evangelist on the Council expressed how he ‘could not really see a way to “keep the gate” as we once did because the apostasy created so many people who needed to quickly flee to a “new home.”’ As usual, there was no real resistance in the meeting.

“I asked for the floor. I asked those with bibles to turn to Matthew 13:24-30 and read the part about how Jesus warned of how tares got into the Church: ‘But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.’ I paused for dramatic effect and asked, ‘Are we in this meeting making a corporate decision to officially go to sleep?’ I believe I also referenced I Chronicles 9:19.

“I could not get anyone to acknowledge the wisdom of Jesus Christ, and Mr. Armstrong who both so strongly taught against keeping tares from the Church. No other attendee would do more than mumble. The presiding evangelist wanted numbers. They could not see the devil had won.”

Interviewing, Hiring and Counseling Ministers

It was during this time that Mr. Pack gained a much broader knowledge of what it meant to structure the Church, when building from scratch. This included interviewing, evaluating and recommending potential ministers and, of course, supervising other pastors in his own region. It also included the opportunity to observe many of the most senior ministers. Some of the men coming aboard or considering doing so went back to the 1950s. Some of the most senior pastor-rank and evangelist-rank ministers were also joining Global.

As more ministers came aboard, the pressure of being responsible for the entire East Coast began to subside. As concentrations of brethren became more compact, the country was divided into smaller regions. One of the first areas shifted to another man was the southeastern U.S. (This was actually before regional pastors were appointed.) This provided the opportunity to focus on the Midwest and Northeast. However, brethren across the country continued consulting with Mr. Pack because his early WCG departure made him the most recognized figure—but also the biggest target—who had stood up for the truth.

The period of interviewing and recommending ministers for hire overlapped the period before and after Mr. Pack became a regional pastor. While the official promotion brought vital additional training, it also had the effect of limiting Mr. Pack’s work to a third of the United States. That was certainly fine, but it did mean he was no longer ‘in the loop’ in terms of which ministers were hired in other parts of the world. Some, however, did continue to call him for advice. For instance, one minister called wanting to give his own version of the “90 Reasons” sermons, and needed counsel.

“There are so many stories that could be told about men I talked to, who would go on to join GCG. But two stand out head and shoulders above all others for how their WCG exit played out.

“I drove into Kansas City in March 1995 from a counseling session in Columbia, Missouri to meet with a small group who were ready to leave the WCG. One of the three local pastors there, and his associate, asked to meet with me while I was in the area. I had known this minister in college and he was a very fine man—and fine pastor.

“I arranged to meet with both men for dinner before going to the Bible Study, which was scheduled to last until about 11:00 p.m. It was a Tuesday night.

“The dinner went very well, with both wives also present. After many questions about whether the GCG leader had changed, the two men said that they may wish to meet with me again in the morning before my plane departed at 8:00 a.m. I called the pastor back at midnight and he confirmed that they did all want a follow-up meeting at 6:00 a.m. at the airport.

“They were absolutely on fire to leave the WCG the next morning. There was a humorous moment when they both said that they wanted to get fired rather than resign, and asked me how to best accomplish this. I explained that I was good at getting fired, so that if they followed instructions exactly, they could be assured of this occurring immediately. I literally gave them instructions on what to say from the pulpit three days later on the Sabbath right up to the point when I had to separate and board the plane. They were writing notes furiously.

“That Saturday night, there were two messages awaiting me after services on my answering machine. The first was from the associate pastor, virtually shouting, ‘It worked! I got fired right after services!’ There were a couple other comments. Next was the pastor’s almost identical message thanking me because he too got fired. Both were ecstatic.

“The important part of the story was that over 200 people, from a congregation of about 450, immediately followed their pastor out of the WCG. Interestingly, the other half walked out in the middle of his sermon—a message simply listing as many of the 90 reasons as he could include in a 75-minute sermon. The associate had set the table in the sermonette with principles from my “Truth” sermon.

“This may have been the largest number of people who left the Worldwide Church of God in a single congregation, on a single Sabbath. No matter the man’s thinking today, I still salute his courage demonstrated in a sea of cowardice.

“The second story that stands out also involved a pastor trying to decide what to do. He was another friend from college. He called to talk. His thinking was toward joining the new, big, large splinter forming the first week in May of 1995. I spent almost four hours telling him why going with that group would be a big mistake. He hung up, agreeing with me, but saying he would still probably attend and ‘observe’ their Indianapolis ‘set up’ conference.

“He went to the conference. After returning, he called back to report that he had changed his mind again and was going with the new organization. We spoke for another four hours, covering basically the same things. The result was also the same. He flipped again and came with Global.

“So many are willing to let others do their thinking for them. I realized later that this is what I had also done. In effect, how was I any different from those who had twice turned him toward the new group? So many showed weakness and ambivalence during that time. It was sad to watch grown men who had no idea what to do. They needed someone to hold their hand and tell them every step to take.

“The irony is that this man rose to ‘evangelist,’ and now heads the group’s entire ministry. But so is the Kansas City pastor now an ‘evangelist’—the one I had to work so hard on to sell Global’s leader to him. I have often wished I had just let these men, and so many others, make their own decisions. Many more would have wound up in the largest splinter, and perhaps not have been among the additional ‘friends’ who fiercely attacked me later for merely upholding doctrines they once believed.”

Two Schools of Thought

As more ministers contacted GCG, as he had opportunity, Mr. Pack warned them candidly about the Worldwide Church of God’s downward spiral. Most with whom he spoke well understood that a full-blown apostasy was occurring, but were unsure of the most effective way to exit the Worldwide Church of God. They were concerned that brethren would turn against them if they did not approach the congregation (and correctly) regarding the changes. Others would do the same if they did speak out.

Like lay members, many ministers asked two related all-important questions: “What is my obligation to the local brethren? What is the correct way to leave?” These were the same two questions that Mr. Pack asked himself when he began to recognize the scope and severity of the changes in the WCG.

There were two prevailing ideas about a shepherd’s responsibility to his flock. Some men believed that the honorable way to leave was to slip out without causing a stir. These men felt they should leave without warning brethren—they would not give sermons explaining the importance of truth nor present any clues as to how to navigate the rocky spiritual shoals of the apostasy. In effect, these men thought it best to pull a vanishing act.

Without warning, many ministers left their pastorates without notice, thus ambushing their congregations through use of a sudden absence—translated abandonment. This left brethren confused and uncertain—they were in effect thrown to “grievous wolves” (Acts 20:29) and left to fend for themselves. These men thought that this was somehow the most “honorable” thing to do. Yet it could not have been more dishonorable and cowardly.

Of course, Pasadena openly applauded such “honor.” What could be better for them? They were now free to slaughter the flock with almost no resistance.

The alternative was to “blow a trumpet,” as Mr. Pack often put it, warning people in a final sermon about the state of the Church, and informing them about the decision lying before them. If people chose not to act after warning, they would at least have made their own choice.

Two ministers who joined Global typified the two ways of thinking.

One was a longtime evangelist. Through the years, he had gained a reputation as a man of principle and doctrinal conservatism, and had earned the respect of many. He chose to leave his Miami pastorate quietly, telling no one except a single one of his local church elders. The outcome was predictable: only his wife followed him—and he had been an evangelist since 1952.

The other man was the Kansas City pastor: His result? Over 200 people followed him from the WCG!

“Dance with Who Brung You”

The biography discussed earlier the problem of ministers coming into GCG who were neither doctrinally sound nor balanced men. This was permitted almost by policy. Mr. Pack was far from the only person who could see what was happening.

“I called headquarters many times about some of the men who had already been permitted to enter the GCG ministry. A lot of these men were freelancing with doctrine, and sending their tapes all through the church. It was causing real problems. We were paying a price.

“I would call headquarters and reference a particular minister and his problem teachings—this happened often—and I would hear philosophic comments about why the presiding evangelist, but also others, would not do anything about most of the men. The answers were never spiritual, never based on the Bible. The three most often repeated comments to me were, ‘We have to dance with who brung us,’ meaning the ministers who were coming had brought us to the dance. But of course the truth was it was headquarters that was letting men attend a dance where they did not belong.

“Another saying came off of the need to confront and/or discipline certain ministers about their beliefs. The answer I heard time and again, and these are the exact words used, ‘You have to manage problems, not fix them.’

“This is administrative insanity, and the most inexperienced managers and executives know better. Looking the other way never works in the long run, although there might be a very temporary period where you manage a problem until a full solution can be worked out. But this is not what was meant. Men were being tolerated—‘managed’—for years.

“Finally, when it came to dealing with either members or ministers, I would hear, and these again were the exact words used, ‘We are no longer herding sheep in this age—we are herding cats.’ The man had read a book written by a worldly minister saying this. Of course, I objected (and did so with all three of these comments) by saying the Scriptures did not state that God’s sheep in the end-time were now cats!

“The name Global Church of God always elicits the same three problems in my mind. (1) Many and worsening false teachings, (2) many and worsening false ministers—(3) both of these permitted because its leader did not care. These were the three constants that always grew worse with the passing of time.”

Council of Elders

Over time, more senior pastors and evangelists joined Global. In February 1995, the presiding evangelist appointed and convened a Global Council of Elders, somewhat similar to what Mr. Armstrong had done. This was possible because there was now a group of senior men who could provide counsel.

Because of his early involvement in the Church, Mr. Pack was invited to serve on the Council. For obvious reasons, he welcomed it. He recognized it was a chance to contribute during a time of growth and progress. He also welcomed the opportunity to interact with men who had served directly under, as well as around, Mr. Armstrong. These included the French regional director, AC college chancellor, and The World Tomorrow presenter, among others. Naturally, Mr. Pack also hoped there were things that might still be gleaned—helpful or bad—from Global’s leader and certain others.

Mr. Pack was certain he would be able to gain lessons from these men because they had witnessed Mr. Armstrong firsthand during a decades-long period of great growth, change and constant restructuring. These men watched the Worldwide Church of God grow from a fledging organization into one with worldwide impact. In addition, they had been privy to the details of how Mr. Armstrong accomplished what was achieved.

It was humbling and an honor to participate in the next phase of the Work as the Church grew from several hundred members to several thousand.

At the very first meeting, as Global’s leader opened by describing the purpose of the Council, Mr. Pack sat at his immediate right. He asked about a seemingly small detail. In front of the Council, he asked the leader, “Why have you called this a Council of Elders, instead of an Advisory Council of Elders?”

The man explained that he was actually a member of the Council himself. He went on to carefully explain that he wished to be considered “first among equals.”

This did not mesh with Mr. Armstrong’s view of the Council. The reason for the Advisory Council under the late Pastor General had been for men to simply advise him—not to act as equals with him. Even though some of the Global appointees had sat on the Advisory Council with Mr. Armstrong, they did not seem to comprehend the difference.

Mr. Pack and one or two other Council members were puzzled. This murky explanation of the purpose of the Council had greater implications. Everyone in the Church had once understood that God’s government works properly only when one man is in charge. This authority, from the top down, is the only way to ensure that the Church of God does not turn into a community of voices where everyone has an opinion and input on every matter.

From the outset of the Council, this lack of precision represented a pattern with which Mr. Pack was all too familiar—and it spelled trouble. As he continued participating in the meeting, it slowly became more evident that many did believe to one degree or another that God’s government should be a shared responsibility, meaning that when there was disagreement, a consensus of opinion would have to be sufficient in final decision making.

The group failed to comprehend that seemingly small issues, when glossed over rather than resolved, always lead to larger problems.

“The moment of the first meeting was truly surreal. I was sitting in a room with several evangelists. These were men I had thought to be titans in the faith. Other evangelists would later join the Global Council. So I was honored to be there. But there was also a sense that there were going to be problems, and that something was ‘just not right.’

“Of course, it did not help that the presiding evangelist almost immediately brought up the idea of introducing New Moons to the church as something that should be an optional monthly Bible Study held in all areas on this date every month. He felt that Mr. Armstrong ‘got this wrong.’ He was willing to let the monthly date be ‘low-key,’ as he put it, but he did want the church observing New Moons. It was all we could do to convince him that this alone would quickly destroy the Global Church of God. Not one Council member stood with him. Yet he would not give it up (and then only tacitly) until much later.”

Other Doctrines Compromised

Wrong government was far from the only problem. Global’s leader quickly began to mention being more “accepting” and “open-minded” on topics such as baptized people marrying unbaptized people.

“One of the most incredible moments in my time in GCG occurred during a regional pastors conference regarding a discussion about baptized and unbaptized people getting married. The CAD Director had just put a letter in the quarterly ministerial journal that officially okayed such marriages, ‘under certain circumstances.’ The ministry had been ambushed. Yet none seemed to care—and this was its own equal problem.

“I was the only one in the room who took a stand. There were two evangelists and two pastor-ranked ministers and I sitting around a table. None of the four men could comprehend either II Corinthians 6:14—‘Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers’ or Romans 8:9—‘If any have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.’ I also reminded them, and in no uncertain terms, of what Mr. Armstrong had always taught. I made reference to his June 1980 or 1981 PGR in which he said that anyone who even dated outside the Church was to be disfellowshipped. One man said that he was aware of the article because he was at Headquarters at the time—and he could vouch that Mr. Armstrong never really meant what was written. Stunning!

“I could not get them to care, literally. It was a ‘vigorous’ conversation, to say the least. They would not back down, but neither would I.

“I was absolutely flabbergasted that these ‘senior’ men could not understand these scriptures or see the importance of Mr. Armstrong’s view of them. One man made a point of saying, ‘I always performed such weddings in Worldwide.’ Incredible! He was actually holding up his long pattern of quiet, but outright, insubordination against policy as reason for continuing it.

“This was truly a defining moment for me. It ended with me saying that I would administer one thing in my region no matter what headquarters or the others did. Interestingly, when I reported this to another headquarters evangelist, not present in the room, his comment was, ‘Well, you’re not going to obey that instruction, are you?’ My answer was, ‘Of course not.’

“But think what we were saying! What organization could sustain such confusion?

“This example reveals the kind of open disagreement and division that existed on some of the most basic matters. This particular conversation was in about the summer of 1996.”

No Resistance

Shocked that others offered little resistance in Council meetings, Mr. Pack quickly learned that these meetings were not based on spiritual thinking. The Bible was almost an irrelevant book at times. Instead, these men wanted to speak about practical and pragmatic issues. Only rarely did they discuss doctrinal issues.

A lack of doctrinal conversation would not have been a problem on the Council during Mr. Armstrong’s time. The Church had decades of sound doctrine as a foundation, and was led by a faithful apostle. During those Council meetings, everyone’s beliefs had already seemingly been settled. There was no need to linger on doctrinal topics.

But now that Mr. Armstrong was gone and each man on the Council of Elders had taken a different spiritual path to the Global Church, arriving at different times, Mr. Pack felt it was necessary to regularly confirm basic doctrines. To his chagrin, nobody else was thinking the same way. Some did have small concerns. But otherwise everyone assumed they were holding to the full truth since the corporation’s bylaws asserted this. Yet, doctrine was slipping out the door on a daily basis. So were traditions such as dress on the Sabbath. This became proof that there was nothing new under the sun.

“Things were to grow very, very bad, but it was always subtle. On one occasion in the Council it was not subtle, with Global’s leader opening a meeting with the following words: ‘Does anyone have anything new to discuss in terms of doctrine? The brethren like to hear that we are learning new things. They want to see that we can grow.’

“I could not help but remember Acts 17:21, regarding the practice in pagan Athens, where people ‘spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.’

“On another occasion, something else was being entertained as a new idea. Perhaps it was that the wedding supper was in heaven—another false idea that was eventually accepted in GCG. I do not recall. But I had readied myself for the next time anything new was going to be brought up. I had been carrying a list, ready for the moment.

“At the end of this particular discussion, I asked for the floor and received it. I proceeded to list 14 different doctrinal points, including also a few matters of policy and tradition that GCG had changed. I was brief, but ended by saying that the matter was serious. The presiding evangelist smiled piteously at me at what he took as the suggestion he was leading the church incorrectly. He was dismissive and nobody else said a word.”

Accepting the Present

Mr. Pack continued struggling to resolve the government catch-22 situation in his mind. On the one hand, a more collegial and empowered Council could block the presiding evangelist from implementing significant, or major, doctrinal changes (but not minor ones, with no one able to define the difference). Several men on the Council did recognize that unfettered power in the leader’s hands would destroy the Church. So this was the wrong form of government. Eventually something would have to change, because, as Mr. Armstrong stated time and again, “Government is everything.” The government of God establishes and upholds everything in His Church.

It was the same previously stated dilemma, now largely centered in a Council of Elders setting. But there was still no other place to go!

“As explained, I was basically willing to accept the ‘first among equals’ explanation. But this was not because I liked it. However, I was glad the leader could not unilaterally change doctrines. Without realizing it, he had openly empowered the Council through the bylaws to be able to block him. The question was always whether it would.

“On one occasion, the presiding evangelist and certain men on the Council wanted to allow interracial marriage. It came up for discussion, and the consensus in the room was that under no circumstances must this be permitted. Shortly after the Council decision, the leader gave an interview to the Texas ‘newspaper’ called In Transition (later renamed The Journal). He unilaterally announced in this paper that interracial marriage was acceptable, and that GCG ministers could perform such marriages if they wished. We were ambushed again—this time by bald deceit and rebellion.

“I was outraged, and called as many Council members as I could find to see who would take him to task. Others were outraged as well, but, replaying the spirit I had seen in the WCG, no one would take action—not one. He got away with it.

“But there was a second big lesson in this. When it happened, also no members I heard of made a peep. I knew many never knew about it, but others who were aware did not care. Of course, this was its own great problem, and I noted it.

“I was forced to conclude that God did not want an evangelist to carry the same authority as an apostle. Of course, in a sense, this was obvious. The chasm between the two offices is vast. For instance, again, Mr. Armstrong had long taught, and with authority, that truth only enters the Church through apostles—and I knew this absolutely. But not one man on the Council of Elders ever spoke of this transcending truth, or would acknowledge it when I did. Other things related to the differences between these two offices I would only later fully understand. This would happen at the time God made known how he was going to reconstitute His Work, when my training was complete.

“This much I knew. A (compromising) evangelist was leading what I believed to be God’s Church and Work. What this ultimately meant was yet to unfold.”

Though there were serious issues with Global’s doctrines, Mr. Pack trusted that God would end this compromised form of government, along with the rest of the doctrinal confusion—one way or the other. Whatever happened, he resolved to continue to teach everything that Mr. Armstrong had taught.

He would learn later that one other major point of doctrine was escaping his notice. It would eventually have to be understood and dealt with. But that would need to come later.

Chapter Forty-Two – United Church Forms—House of Health Inc.

Months had gone by since Mr. Tkach had openly rejected the truth, wholesale. It was now decision time for the remaining Worldwide Church of God ministers—and a new level of urgency took over there!

Impasse for Remaining WCG Ministers

To anyone seeking to remain with the truth, staying in the WCG and hoping the ship would turn around was beyond the realm of possibility. Remaining in that organization meant such ministers were “on board,” either actively or passively acknowledging that they agreed with the new doctrinal direction.

Forced to compromise doctrinally, these ministers had appeased, politicked and accepted paychecks now long after the new administration had introduced a new god. By their actions, they had shown they were willing to sit in the presence of a false, trinitarian god for over two and a half years—and do nothing! This had forced them to either preach false doctrines or sit idly, allowing brethren to spiritually “die where they sat.”

Now, with so many leaving the Worldwide Church of God, these ministers were at an impasse. If they stood up on their own and sounded an alarm in opposition to what Pasadena was doing, and fought for the spiritual safety of their flock, they knew that within a day or so they would face termination. On the other hand, if they did not sound an alarm, they would, and had already, let countless brethren—who had in many cases wrongly placed their very salvation in their pastor’s hands—drift out of the Church.

“It had come to be crunch time for the men who just would not move, meaning from the WCG, even though years had been passing. The WCG no longer believed in tithing, and salaries were either going to disappear—or migrate elsewhere, meaning to a place where tithes could be had. Even the most blind ministers had no trouble seeing this.”

New Organization Grows Within WCG

By the middle of 1993, Mr. Pack first heard rumors that “something big” was in the works with a large group of ministers in the Worldwide Church of God. Exact details had not yet crystallized, but there was a rudimentary plan in place to build the structure of a breakaway organization with ministers from within the WCG. A tightly organized “Star Chamber” of “deep thinkers” operated from the closet, very carefully guiding the plan to completion.

The prevailing thought among this covey of senior men was that if they operated covertly inside the Church, they would be able to quietly “prepare” thousands of brethren for a signal to leave. But after staying so long in the Church following its doctrinal compromise, their purpose was hardly to stand for all the truth. (They had accepted many errors, some consciously, others not.) Rather, they sought to pave the road to a sufficient tithe base and infrastructure. Later documents would actually spell this out. The internal, self-appointed “new administration” determined that they could better build from within, while on the WCG’s payroll, instead of after they had left, where there would be less money and less time to do this. This was crucial.

The plan involved organizing ministers into a concealed coalition that could collectively create a net to soften their financial landing. As imagined, this plan would work only if built on secrecy. The scheme encouraged ministers not to take a stand until the correct time. They were to “buy time.” A critical part of the plan was to be discreet—and ministers kept local brethren partially in the dark until the appointed time was reached. The covert organization instructed, “Don’t say anything until the right time.”

As the plan took shape, the Assistant Director of Church Administration (in the U.S.) quietly approached all 12 regional pastors in the United States to get “unofficial” confirmation that each was still on board. He had in fact carefully handpicked these in mid-1993 to this end. This cowardly approach was taken while he was (and all of them were) still on the Worldwide Church of God’s payroll.

At the same time, as mentioned, the treasurer and office manager in Pasadena had devised a plan behind the scenes to offer ministers who resigned favorable severance packages. With this security blanket in place, the secret organization scheduled a conference to begin on April 30 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Over 320 ministers and local church elders attended to learn more and to confirm their plans of joining the new group.

However, the urgency had developed because more and more brethren were exiting Worldwide to join Global. Some ministers realized that they may have waited too long to make a move. In order for their organization to be successful, they had to now quickly get out front of the flock and act as though they had been leading it all along. The truth was that many of the brethren stood for the truth much more quickly than ministers did! Of course, salaries had not blinded their eyes.

Before, and for awhile after, this conference, Worldwide Church of God pastors received their severance packages, which eventually cost the WCG millions of dollars. Within months the vast majority became ministers for the newly formed United Church of God. Now, severance in hand, hundreds of ministers began to loudly chorus their “love” for the truth.

It was clear that these men would permanently lose their paychecks if they did not immediately follow thousands of tithepayers from the WCG. Not wanting to look like followers—and concerned that many who left were joining or contemplating joining one of the already existing and more doctrinally conservative groups—they jumped in front of the departing flock, claiming to be leading it.

These largely faithless pastors chose to move together, shielded by the security of large numbers—and instant paychecks. If these men had taken a stand earlier and organized in a coherent way before brethren became doctrinally poisoned, they may have reached a great many more who drifted from God’s Way altogether!

“My brother-in-law told me that a ‘point team’ of WCG ministers approached him in the summer of 1993 regarding their new organization, fearing he was going with Global, and saying, ‘Why go out with a pop when you can go out with a bang?’, meaning with a much greater number of ministers in a much larger new organization. Of course, my brother-in-law saw through it immediately.

“Two years later, this same ‘point team’ met with him again. They wanted to explain why they would not follow the Global leader. There would be no significant, high-level contact between the groups for several more years.

“Not all who went with the United Church of God were bad ministers. Far from it. Many good men left who were simply deceived. And not all men knew what the Star Chamber had done in advance, or when it had started. In time, of course, by inaction in the face of facts, they took full ownership of their decision. I do realize the final chapters for some of these men are yet to be written.”

Unique Opportunity for Akron Congregation

Mr. Pack’s former Worldwide Church of God pastorate in Akron, Ohio, represented a unique scenario—unlike anywhere else in the world. This was the only congregation where WCG members were given two distinct chances—two opportunities—two choices—to leave the parent organization.

Recall that the pastor who was transferred to Akron in March, 1993, to replace Mr. Pack, arrived as an advocate for the leadership that was changing and destroying everything. Also recall that the apostates had handpicked this man because he supported all the new doctrines. (He was present immediately after Mr. Pack’s firing.)

Further recall that the man stated he agreed with every change. And when the mass exodus (of eventually about 20,000 brethren) occurred to a new organization, this man also moved. Sadly, about 230 people in the Akron congregation did not care what he had taught them. Almost all of them had been present 26 months earlier. Yet they did not care that Mr. Pack had warned them over two years before. Not one person seemed to recognize that right in their own area—a shepherd had stood up and given his life for his sheep. Instead, they believed they should continue to follow the “Pasadena-chosen cheerleader” who had poisoned them for so long, but now suddenly “loved the truth” again. And still further, also as mentioned, his new organization would 10 years later elect him its president—and not because he was known to have repented of the false doctrines he taught in Akron to hundreds willing to follow him anyway.

In hindsight, the majority of brethren (or ministers) who experienced the apostasy “loved the truth” only until it meant holding services in a living room or by themselves. The “safety in numbers” idea was dominant during this time. This event forced Mr. Pack to confront the fact that there were very few brethren who had proved everything when called, and who deeply loved all of the truth. Most need to be reinforced with the presence of many human beings beside and around them.

“I often marveled at how people could not see through those who should have been so easy to discern. Smooth personalities, particularly when large numbers are following them, seem to be most important to the majority of people. Of course some people just have short memories. However, the greatest truth I learned in this was that most simply do not care. And I speak of those who left the WCG, not of those who stayed.

“I learned a powerful lesson: members and ministers will stand for some truths—but only the big, convenient ones. Many will flee false leaders—if they have a pastor and a hall. In other words—an instant congregation, with all the accoutrements, to continue as they were.”

Thoughts After United Forms

Just as the organizers had planned, in early 1995, roughly 16,000 members of WCG moved to this group en masse. (It would temporarily grow to over 21,000 by the Feast of Tabernacles that year.) They decided it was better to form a new organization with a democratic government than subordinate themselves to the Global Church of God leadership.

Again, thousands heard Mr. Pack’s tapes and read his books, resulting in them leaving the WCG and entering one of several major groups. As Mr. Pack remembers:

“A greater number left WCG because of my ‘90 Reasons’ tapes and went elsewhere (than GCG) because of Global’s leader—and it began to trouble me! I thought to myself, ‘Wait a minute! They’re going to other places because of this man? Do they have a point? We are also shot full of doctrinal compromise, so how much different are we?’

“In the end, UCG’s false doctrines were certainly more and worse—but false doctrine is false doctrine, and we were gaining on them. But it had not all crystallized in my mind. I even have to remember today that hindsight is always 20/20.

“I did at that time decide to focus on the horrific form of government being formed in the United Church of God. The result was my second book—Except the Lord Build the House. This volume was really a compilation of a series of quotes under topics from Mr. Armstrong that a careful researcher had helped me put together.

“Examples were ‘God’s Government Is Always from the Top Down’—‘Satan Can Overthrow God’s Government’—‘Government, Unity and Division’—‘Doctrinal Compromise’—‘Personalities Versus Fruits’—‘A Biblical Council of Elders’—‘Government in the Church Enables It to Do the Work’—‘Laodicea and Democracy’—‘Laodiceans Are Headed for the Great Tribulation’—‘The Responsibility to Warn Those Headed for the Great Tribulation’—‘Yes Men’—‘Christians Are Training for Positions of Authority in God’s Government.’

“Each of these topic titles introduced a series of quotes from Mr. Armstrong. They explained exactly what he taught about all of these things. These were quotes that were impossible to misunderstand for those reading with any carefulness at all.

“My thought was that people would see and remember what Mr. Armstrong taught, and realize that United’s government was ridiculous—and could not possibly be anything that God was leading. However wrong it was, Global’s government seemed infinitely better. Our president and Council members did not face the requirement of being re-elected every three years, as in UCG.

“The book did seem to help a few, but not as many as was hoped. Most who read it just did not seem to care. They settled into United as though they had been there for years. However, the first book (detailing the changes) and the three-sermon series about following the truth did help thousands—and this brought great satisfaction.

“I would have to go on and learn that there is little difference between the many Laodicean organizations, large and small, other than slight grades of temperature.”

Despite thousands of people having joined the Global Church of God in the first two and one-third years, the start of the United Church of God (UCG) sobered Mr. Pack greatly. It spoke volumes about how many people were likely to escape the apostasy and reconstitute the Work. He had high hopes that many of the men with whom he attended Ambassador College 25 years earlier and served with in the ministry were eventually going to come with Global. Surely they would see their error.

It was now clear they would not—at least in the short term.

Meanwhile, the presiding evangelist continued to single out Mr. Pack behind the scenes because of his perception that there was an inordinate focus on the “younger minister.” This, coupled with the growing doctrinal and governmental issues not being resolved, left Mr. Pack increasingly uncertain.

“I had a clear thought at this point about what I felt was happening with the birth of UCG. Obviously the Worldwide Church of God was no longer connected to anything of God. It was cold, not lukewarm. It had become a completely dead organization.

“My thoughts were that Global appeared to be the remnant of Philadelphia. Of course, there were growing questions with this idea in the back of my mind. It was easy to see that UCG was Laodicean. That was a ‘no-brainer.’ In fact, it was almost as though the leadership set out to be Laodicea with their ‘the people (and ministers) rule’ approach to government. But ultimately, it would be a church ‘of, by and for the ministers.’

“The group planning the new organization was very confident. When it broke away, they predicted that 50,000 people would be with them in six months to a year. They terribly overestimated their pulling power—and just as terribly underestimated the power of the conspirators in Pasadena to overthrow the thinking of thousands, while these men sat planning in a state of delayed exit. In a sense, pride came before a fall, because so many fewer joined them.

“The troubling part that would take three and a half years to come clear in my mind would be Where is Philadelphia? It had to be a single organization, holding to all of the truth, while doing the very same Work as before under God’s perfect form of government.

“I could not find such an organization. I knew that I was not in it, but did still have hopes that GCG could become what it should be. Maybe time would solve our problem.”

Randall Pack’s Health Deteriorates

In the summer of 1994, Mr. Pack began to notice that his father had developed a slight limp. This was a precursor of a serious health concern.

From the day his mother died in the spring of 1992, his close relationship with his father grew even closer. Having left the Worldwide Church of God for doctrinal reasons shortly after Mr. Pack did, and joining GCG, Ran Pack had not only lost his wife, but also most of his close friends from the Church. He was quietly lonely. Since his wife’s death, Mr. Pack’s father had little physical or emotional support in his life. At the same time he was a person who could function largely alone. He was far from being a “dependent” type.

Mr. Pack recognized this fact and made an effort to call his father every day, never missing a day. There were occasions when it was two or three times in a day as his father tried to make sense of the doctrinal issues in the Church. Mr. Pack realized that he would not have him around forever. He wanted to be sure that he supported his father, but also learn as much as possible from him about leadership.

In March of 1993, Ran Pack suffered a major aneurism and underwent a procedure to repair the damage. After this incident, Mr. Pack became even more involved with his father.

A year later, Mr. Pack noticed as they were walking into the house that the older man seemed to be slightly dragging his left leg. At first worried that his father had perhaps suffered a mini-stroke, he pressed his father to get himself checked by a physician. But he was reluctant to do this since the problem appeared minor.

Next, it was evident that his father gradually began dragging his leg more noticeably. Unable to any longer take the long daily walks he was used to, he also seldom went to his health food store.

Reaches a Breaking Point

Finally, the condition having grown steadily worse, he visited a specialist. The condition was neurological, arising from the spine rather than the brain. Suffering from a form of listhesis, or shifting vertebrae, the neurosurgeon painted a grim picture. Due to years of degenerative arthritis, which led to the breakdown of the structure in his neck, his spinal cord was slowly being crushed by two shifting vertebrae in his neck. The leg dragging was irreversible. The damage had been done.

Unless doctors fused his neck, using parallel metal plates and screws, the vertebrae would continue slipping and crush his spinal cord, leaving him a quadriplegic within 12 to 18 months!

At 75 years of age, the idea of major surgery was daunting. Deciding the alternative of paralysis was worse, he agreed to the reconstructive neck fusion. His brother and niece and son, David, had all had spinal fusions.

The day before his scheduled surgery, Mr. Pack’s father summoned his son to his home and sat him down.

A Big Decision

“Son,” he said. “You’re going to have to take over the business for me. I just cannot do it anymore. If something happens to me, I want you to already have become the President of the corporation. Can I count on you?”

Mr. Pack agreed without hesitation. “Yes, Dad. Whatever you need me to do. I will do it.”

Mr. Pack realized just how difficult it must have been for his father to turn over the business for which he had worked so hard.

Undergoing the first of two operations on July 12, Ran Pack made it through a follow-up operation two weeks later. As Mr. Pack waited for the results, he prayed for the strength to be able to support his father, manage the operations of the business, and fulfill his ongoing responsibilities in the ministry.

“My father had been my greatest friend for my entire life. I was determined to be with him regularly through July and August, the period of his two surgeries and recovery. I actually had to refinance my house to afford what became six flights to Greensboro. Both my sons were there working for him at the time, and this was helpful, but he was my father and I wanted to personally be with him as I could. I stayed one day each time. My back had been fused, and this had been hard enough with a family all around me. I well understood what he was experiencing.

“The one thing I do recall so clearly was my father’s amazing steadfastness in everything he endured in this trial, so consistent with his entire life. I still consider him one of the strongest men I have ever known.”

Absentee President

Within weeks it became obvious that something major had to give in Mr. Pack’s schedule. There was no way to be an active president of a company from so far away. Fortunately, Rob had been in the business for 17 months, while in college preparing to enter medical school. Mr. Pack remembers taking a walk with his son at the end of July 1995, just three weeks before his wedding day, and spelling out the reality of the situation.

“Rob, your grandfather is not capable of taking care of himself or running the business anymore and my first responsibility is as a minister,” he said. “I am going to suggest that Grandpa move up to Ohio with your mother and me. There are only two options: First, you run the business with me overseeing from a distance. Second, we sell it and move on with our lives. There are no other alternatives.”

After much thought, they agreed to continue to run the business together. Rob dropped out of college to manage the store.

In the area of business, Mr. Pack thought of himself in terms of Gideon’s self-description in Judges 6:15—“my family is poor in [Israel] and I am the least in my father’s house.” Although he had been surrounded all through his life by very successful businessmen in the family, the ministry had always been his focus. But there had been exposure from childhood forward to business deals and the start-up of companies. His father had owned three companies, his grandfather had owned perhaps five, and his uncle had essentially run a very large company for decades, and had also been the President of World Book.

In taking oversight of his father’s store, the first months consisted of a crash course in bookkeeping, financial statements, cash flow, inventory, human resources and a variety of other day-to-day responsibilities. Although Rob managed the eight to 10 employees, along with all daily operations, he was only 21 in July 1995. Mr. Pack was determined to maintain the store’s success while his father recovered. He did not take lightly the care of a business his parents had spent more than two decades building, and dove headlong into this new role.

“I spent a lot of time at my father’s bedside talking with him about his business with more than the usual passing interest of previous years. It certainly did help that I had a long history of experience in eating natural foods and in use of specific vitamins and supplements.

“My other son, Randy, had been in the business for almost two years at this point, so he was very helpful. I also talked to my Uncle Frank at every opportunity. The four of them, including Rob, made it doable. (There were also several longtime, established employees in place that made the transition relatively smooth.)

“In the end, however, I was making executive decisions about a very successful company. It would at times be trial by error in terms of decisions made and people hired. I expected that my father would be available for a long time to come in the background. So I was not worried. The biggest problem was finding enough time to handle the new responsibility. I did not want to let my father down, or injure my son who was leaving school to manage the store onsite, or in any way undermine the 19 and a half years that my mother had invested in a store both parents loved. There were also the thousands of loyal customers to be remembered.

“I was aware all through the time I led the company that I was being given extraordinary training that not one other minister in the Worldwide Church of God had ever received while in the ministry.

“The why would come later.”

A Move to Ohio

After several weeks of recovery from surgery, it was obvious that Ran Pack could not stay in North Carolina by himself. As hard as it was for him to leave, it was necessary. He could no longer drive a car, meaning he was severely limited in terms of shopping and mobility.

There was also a sizable Global congregation in Ohio. This meant Ran Pack would not only have his son and daughter-in-law to care for him, but brethren would also be available.

At age 75, Ran Pack was headed back to the Midwest. Since he had spent over 50 years in Ohio and Indiana, the adjustment would not be overly difficult.

On September 6, 1995, less than two months after he had entered the hospital, he temporarily moved into a skilled nursing facility not far from Wadsworth, Ohio, spending nearly seven weeks there. He then settled into the Sterling Oaks assisted living complex, close to his son’s home.

The Packs were excited to have “Grandpa” living close by. Jennifer could have a grandparent living in the same community. With the store stable and running smoothly, Mr. Pack would be able to visit and help his father on a routine basis.

The second surgery had left Ran with congestive heart failure, however. It took quite a period to get this under control. It would be seven Sabbaths in Ohio before he could finally get to services on October 28.

A Church member recalls Ran observing his son at work, and while at services, and commenting, “He sure loves his job!”

“It was very difficult visiting my father in the nursing home, which was some miles away. But we saw him almost every day, thinking we were counting down until he would be moving to Wadsworth into an assisted living complex that was not quite completed and ready to receive him at the time he arrived in Ohio.”

Sudden Illness—and Death

Four days after moving into the new assisted-living facility, Ran attended services in Copley. However, shortly after services, he felt very faint and decided to return to Sterling Oaks.

Upon hearing his father was not feeling well, Mr. Pack raced downstairs to check on him. Ran assured his son that he was fine and just needed rest. Since Mr. Pack customarily stayed long after services counseling and visiting with brethren, two young men in the congregation, one of them Mr. Jeff Ambrose, were asked to take him home. On the way home, he conversed and kidded with the two younger fellows, continuing until he laid down in his room. Looking up at them from the bed, he joked, “How tall are you two Arabs?”

Mr. Pack checked in that night and it just appeared to be the flu. He saw his father again the next morning, and he was not doing well—but urged his son to not stay long lest he get sick, and be unable to attend the upcoming Council of Elders meetings in three days.

Sunday evening brought an ominous call from the facility to come quickly, and that an ambulance was on the way. Mr. Pack arrived in time to briefly speak to his father, and to follow his ambulance to the hospital.

Less than two hours later, Ran Pack succumbed to a systemic bacterial infection, or sepsis, which had severely compromised his immune system.

His daughter-in-law present, Randall Pack’s very last moments were spent expressing gratitude to the individual nurses and hospital staff working over him. “Thank you, you’re all doing a wonderful job…” he told them—he then went unconscious mid-sentence, setting an example of gratitude and selflessness to the end. He died two hours later, Mr. Pack holding him.

“I always regretted that I was not with my father at the moment he lost consciousness. I had to call my brother and sister to tell them what had happened so suddenly. By the time I got back, he was no longer awake. But it was not quite like my mother where I had missed speaking to her by a few hours.

“It was so like my father to be concerned for people around him, even though his condition should have been receiving all the attention. But that was not my father.

“Some weeks before, when still in the hospital, the staff had revived him from heart failure, thus violating a code blue restriction that my father had imposed against all such ‘heroic efforts,’ as he and my mother had long before decided. He was actually upset that he had been revived because he saw his next moment as being in the kingdom of God. I had to actually tell him that he was in a bad attitude—‘Dad, what are you talking about? You are here. We don’t want to lose you!’ He felt sheepish, but I have never forgotten the point about how he saw this life. He had no concern over staying alive, particularly without what he called, ‘quality of life,’ as God intended.”


One of the first things Mr. Pack remembers doing after hearing the news was sitting in a restaurant by himself for several hours. He was scheduled to board a plane bound for Global’s corporate office three days later.

Mr. Pack describes himself as having initially been in shock. There was so little warning. His father had only been in Ohio for 51 days, and in the new residence for just five days. Both of his parents were now gone.

Ran Pack was a unique man who had shaped his son in many ways. He passed on a toughness forged by the Depression and World War II battles. He had been an army pilot, world-class salesman, master card player, ballroom dancer and star athlete, among other things.

Even as he enjoyed considerable success in the later decades of his life, he never forgot his humble beginnings, saying in his wheelchair just weeks before his death, describing his approach to needs, “Son, what you do not realize is that I am still about 90 percent pauper.”

Another trait he passed on was boldness. An example of this occurred during his time with Kurfees Paint Company. He was the firm’s leading salesman, and one day he received a call from the National Sales Manager at its corporate offices in Louisville, Kentucky.

The man stated, “Ran, you should have my job! You should be training all of our young salesmen.” Ran countered, “I do not want your job. I can make more money here, and have more freedom besides! You can send all the young salesmen to work with me if you wish and I will be happy to train them.” They did.

“New salesmen came to our home in Lima on a regular basis all during my childhood years. They would join us at the dinner table for conversation and stories. Each would be a man whom my father was training. One, I recall, had been the second most decorated American soldier in World War II, only behind Audie Murphy who was in the European theatre of war. This man, I believe his name was Lt. Carter, or something similar, was the most decorated man in the Pacific theatre. I recall sitting for several hours listening to him and my father tell stories. This man had escaped in dramatic fashion from a Japanese prisoner of war camp in China. What a story of grueling endurance.

“I learned that my father had been teaching some of the old ladies in the facility to play poker on the Friday, just two days before his death. I never saw anybody who could play solitaire or bridge as well.

“My father had beaten the fourth-ranked Ping-Pong player in the world while in France during the war. He taught his children to play in our basement. Naturally, he was an absolutely fantastic player, and with almost no warm-up. He had learned as a camp counselor, and then honed his skills in college and after. His shots were almost impossible to return.

“Virtually everybody liked my father. Even though he had only been in the facility for five days, the nurse regularly attending to him was still so distraught at his death that she had to immediately turn around and go home. Her shift started after he had died. I went to visit her the next night at her home to console her. She was still upset, explaining to me that she had never met anybody like my father, and yet again she had only known him for five days.

“My parents probably did more for people in God’s Church than any minister I ever knew. For instance, they would invite all the little children in the congregation to their home, especially being sure to include those who were disadvantaged. They would roast wieners with all of them in the backyard, and then be sure that transportation had been arranged to get all of them to the zoo. They would take them all on picnics, hikes, to gardens or to see the local minor league baseball team.

“They would also bring all of the widows over for dinner, being sure to give extra time and occasions to those widows whom they felt were most overlooked. My parents almost always went out to eat after services on the Sabbath, but rarely went alone. Frail widows and the poor were ever with them. They got excited about this weekly, each time almost like they were doing it for the first time.

“They were put in charge of what my dad had called the 5H Club. It was for seniors. The names stood for happiness, health, heartiness, humility and one other ‘H’ word I cannot recall. Only rarely would perhaps one of the eight deacons or three elders ever show up for activities. The pastor never did. But my parents always wanted me to join them on these occasions when I was in town on vacation. I would tell myself that at least a pastor was there occasionally.

“And racial origin made absolutely no difference to my parents. I am not sure they saw any difference between a white and a black person. I have never seen so much affection as was the case with my parents and these special ladies. To this day, I get occasional letters of affection about them.

“My father’s love of people actually cost him ordination. It is quite a story. The local pastor was going to ordain him a deacon on Pentecost in about 1979 or 1980. I was there visiting in Greensboro one week before it was to occur, and the pastor wanted to tell me in advance. The next Saturday night was a brief deacons meeting before the Holy Day, and my parents had been attending as guests. At a point when serving the widows came up, my father made an impassioned plea to the deacons who had seemingly all forgotten the Acts 6 genesis of the office they held. He took them to task for never coming to any of the 5H Club activities—and that was the end of his ordination.

“I could not bring myself to tell my father what had happened until near the end of his life. I wanted him to know that he should have been a deacon for the last 15 years, and that had I been his pastor, he would have been a local church elder long before. By 1995, I was a senior minister, had worked with many ministers, and was on the Council of Elders. He was well beyond many I had trained and ordained. In fact, he was more an elder than most elders I have known.

“My parents never sought public reward. They always wanted to toil in the background. In fact, my father never wanted to be a deacon because he felt so many of them were virtually useless, and he did not want to be associated with them. He also did not want to have to ‘play any games.’ He was utterly apolitical. So it bothered him not one whit that he had not been ordained. He found the story I told to be amusing because he understood the minister who had made the decision.

“I thought of the many sayings my father had trained into me—‘Beauty is on the inside’—‘Don’t toot your horn, let others do it’—‘There is lots of room at the top’—‘Your word is your bond, lying is the worst thing’—‘You cannot outgive God’—and so many, many more.

“My father and mother had put me in a beautiful home growing up. They brought ‘country club’ living to their children. Yet my father had not really even had a father, and had lost his grandfather Pack when he was just seven. I think he had seen him twice because he lived so far away.

“I had so many, many thoughts of my father after his death, and these lasted for years. In fact, I still do, almost every day of my life. His words never stop being in my ears. Much like Mr. Armstrong, my father in the gospel, I will probably always hear them. In fact I regularly review the words of both.

“I felt a little cheated at my father’s death that I had lost him with so little notice, and before his years should have been through. My mother-in-law of over 36 years died 10 days ago at this writing, and she was almost 91. (Recall I had lost my mother early, at age 70.) But my father always thought 70 was good enough, believing that if he honored his mother he would get his three-score and ten. He consciously acted as though each additional year past 70 was living on borrowed time. He used the days.

“Finally, I am convinced that God allowed my father to die perhaps somewhat before his time so that I could inherit the business and learn necessary lessons in preparation for my role today. I do not see how it could have happened otherwise.

“I was in awe of my father all my life. I knew that a special member of the ‘greatest generation’ had died in my arms.”

Randall Pack’s Bible

Immediately after his father’s funeral, Mr. Pack had to go through his father’s possessions. He came upon what he still considers one of his most valuable possessions today—his father’s wide-margin Bible.

At first, as Mr. Pack paged through its personal, marginal notes, he was moved by the treasure trove of information. It represented one of the only remaining links to his father, with whom he could no longer talk. But thousands of notes in its margins spoke volumes about how he saw the Christian path.

As he continued, he noticed certain other notes in the Bible, recalling a special story.

In late 1977, after Mr. Pack had been in the ministry for some years, his father came to him with a request: He asked for a written explanation of all the Bible’s difficult scriptures. Thinking of the magnitude of this task, Mr. Pack said, “Dad! You do not know what you are asking.” His father put on a mock sad expression—as Mr. Pack recalled, “He put on an Academy Award performance”—and with a flourish of “unhappy” showmanship lamented, “Well, okay. If you don’t love me enough to do it, I guess that’s fine. I just brought you into the world, and raised you, and fed and clothed you—but that’s okay. Don’t feel any pressure to do anything for a father just because he asks you…”

Laughing, Mr. Pack relented and agreed to take on the task when he could. Recognizing it would take a staggering number of hours to do it properly, Mr. Pack initially put the project on hold, because the request came just after he arrived in his first full-time pastorate in Rochester, New York.

However, his father persisted. So the writing finally began, and was planned as a surprise Father’s Day gift for the next year.

At first, the undertaking seemed even larger than expected. The Father’s Day deadline began to seem unrealistic. But as the winter of 1977 turned to 1978, Mr. Pack enjoyed the process as he delved into it more deeply. The project was completed in time to present it to Ran on Father’s Day in 1978. He was thrilled!

A side note. Getting the list finished had been a “horse race,” and there was not even time for a single proofreading. Mr. Pack simply photocopied the rough manuscript for his own future use. He would later give copies away to deacons and elders as a part of his sermonette seminars. While certain parts were rough, the manuscript contained 137 typed scriptural explanations, including many correct interpretations of confusing scriptures, as taught at Ambassador College under Mr. Armstrong.

These explanations formed part of the extraordinary doctrinal understanding restored to God’s Church in the 20th century (Matt. 17:11; Mal. 4:5-6). The Ambassador faculty expected students to be able to explain these scriptures to those who had questions. Because of this, Mr. Pack took his photocopied version and eventually refined it into an extensive tool for elders, deacons and other leaders in his pastorates. Many found it helpful in their personal Bible study and in preparing sermonettes and sermons.

“Years later, a thief in the local congregation would steal a photocopied version of this paper, and claim for justification, falsely of course, that someone else had written it. We contacted him and told him to cease and desist, and that he was violating copyright law. He did not care. His actions were brazen. I decided it would be counterproductive to take action. If others got copies of the correct explanation of these verses, fine.”

As Mr. Pack continued examining his father’s Bible, he was surprised to find that time had been taken to painstakingly cut out and paste every one of the explanations into the margins beside the corresponding passages. He had first had them reduced in size, so that they would fit in his Bible.

“My father had the largest wide-margin Bible I have seen. I could only wonder where he got it. Every one of my explanations is somewhere within it. There seemed to be none missing. I must admit that it was a little painful to see them again in such rough, un-proofread form. Obviously, however, I was overjoyed to find, although after his death, that he had derived so much joy and benefit from the gift.

“My father was an extraordinarily diligent Bible student until the day of his death. I have both my parents’ bibles sitting in my office today.”

The original manuscript was reworked many times before eventually being expanded into a full-length book, The Bible’s Difficult Scriptures Explained!, almost 30 years later.

Uncle Bill Pack Dies

Ran Pack’s older brother, Bill, had also not enjoyed good health for some years by the time of his brother’s death. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for much of this time. In February of 1996, he died at the age of 78, just four months after the death of his brother. In the end, neither knew that the other had died.

“I had not gotten to spend a lot of time with my Uncle Bill (and his daughters, my cousins) in later years, but we did see him periodically through the 1970s and 1980s. I knew he was struggling with areas of memory for many years, but was still surprised when he died suddenly in Augusta, Georgia. He had lived for many years in Jacksonville, Florida caring for my grandmother.

“As a career military officer, my uncle had commanded a number of naval airbases, including New Brunswick, Maine, having risen to the rank of naval captain (or full colonel if in the Army or Air Force). We have family photographs of President Kennedy reviewing the troops at this base beside my uncle on a number of occasions, with Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, who later ran for president, present in some of the photographs.

“There is a side of my uncle that is important. Much like my father, he would never toot his own horn. I saw in his office a thank-you letter from Ted Kennedy, and asked what it meant. Here essentially was his answer:

“Many will recall that the Kennedys lost a two-day-old baby boy when they were in the White House—Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. The baby was buried in Massachusetts. When the president was assassinated in 1963, Senator Ted Kennedy contacted my uncle and asked if he could move the baby’s casket to Arlington National Cemetery from Massachusetts without the press knowing at either end that it had happened. He pulled it off, and Senator Kennedy wrote to thank him.

“I have visited Arlington twice, the second time specifically wanting to see the graves, the spot where the baby was buried. My uncle had never repeated the story to the rest of the family.

“I decided to attend my uncle’s funeral partly so that I could see my cousins after some years. But also, he was the last link to my father, and attending honored both him and my father. He gave my dad the nickname ‘Buddy’ that stuck throughout his life. My father could hardly speak about his brother without having tears because this older brother had so watched out for him as a little boy, as his ‘Buddy.’

“The funeral was an extraordinary affair because my uncle had also been the naval air base commander in Pensacola, Florida, the location of the Naval Air Museum, and the place of his burial. It was quite an experience to see a 21-gun salute, then trumpets playing, and a squadron of jets fly over, tipping their wings to an uncle who, like his brother, my dad, had been a war hero to a once little nephew.”

Mr. Pack flew home to the reality of a new future trying to lead a business, while continuing in the ministry, without knowing he was about to face a new series of trials that were just over the horizon.

Chapter Forty-Three – Growing GCG Problems

The nature of the inheritance left by Ran Pack to his children was straightforward. He had left the store solely to his oldest son, who had been acting as the president of the House of Health—and after only 129 days was now the owner of the store. But his grandson had been managing the business day-to-day, so the transition was not nearly as difficult as it could have been.

Although there have been rumors and wild speculation about an “instant fortune” for Mr. Pack, the reality of his inheritance was far from that. He received no giant lump sum of money—in fact, no money. Rather, he became the owner of a single retail natural food store, 450 miles from his home in Ohio.

Company History

When Mr. Pack’s parents purchased the store in 1973, it was a very small operation, largely due to the fact that vitamins, supplements, herbs, and natural food—thought of as “health food”—were seen as a part of a fringe lifestyle that was a residual effect of the 1960s counter-culture movement. While retail natural food stores, organic markets, juice bars and health food products are now common, this was not the case in the early 1970s. During this time, when the average American thought of health food, he generally pictured a sandal-shod hippie carrying a sack of granola.

“My father was able to anticipate that the natural food industry would one day become a booming business. He and my mother thought, ‘What could be better? We can buy and develop what will be a successful business—and become healthy at the same time.’

“I am glad that they thought like this. I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to understand business in a consumer products environment—and I could now improve even more my family’s health at the same time.”

Between 1973 and 1995, the entire natural food industry had been transformed, and this included the House of Health Inc. The small “hole-in-the-wall” store, opened in 1963, was now a thriving 2,000 sq. ft. retail operation. The store offered thousands of products including vitamins, supplements, herbs, natural health and beauty care products, organic and natural groceries, sports nutrition products and a wide variety of other products that supported a healthy lifestyle.

In the decades before widespread Internet access, if customers wanted to get information about a specific supplement or natural food product, or learn how to manage a health condition themselves, they were often blocked from going further. A focal point of House of Health was its extensive bookstore and education center, which served to enable customers to take charge of their health through reliable information. This was a unique aspect of the store and perhaps the largest factor in its continued success.

Unique Challenges

Overseeing this business from a distance presented unique challenges. At first, Mr. Pack contemplated selling the store in order to simplify his life. This would generate a single sum of money, a large portion of which he could possibly donate to the Work—under certain circumstances. He explored this through a formal appraisal and discussions with a business broker.

However, after considering that selling the business meant letting go of his parents’ legacy—a fixture in the city of Greensboro that had enriched the lives of many thousands—as well as jeopardizing his son’s job security, Mr. Pack decided against it. In addition, the added source of sustained income would further enable him to support the Work on an ongoing basis, as opposed to one large offering from its sale.

While he was gaining valuable business experience, Mr. Pack did not consider himself a business magnate. After over 22 years as the owner, Ran Pack described House of Health as “a goose that lays a golden egg each month”—but it was a small egg!

The store would have to be worked with and carefully monitored for it to continue producing as it had for so many years.

“The leader of Global authored the story that I was now a ‘millionaire.’ This story would grow to be ‘multi-millionaire.’ It was never true, and I never had more than a tiny fraction of even one million dollars. The man knew that it was untrue, but he recognized that people would believe him, and it would make it appear that I now wanted to be a businessman rather than a minister. Later, this is exactly what he would tell people. Some will still occasionally tell me that they heard this in GCG, and later in the Living Church of God.

“The truth is that I was not able to really work the business much. As fascinating as it was, I really did not want to give it the necessary time and attention. But I did learn a tremendous number of lessons. Just what I learned about advertising in the little over five years that I had the business was worth its weight in gold. My father, uncle and grandfather had been very big in advertising. But I had not.

“The many lessons learned, advertising and otherwise, made clear to me why God used a former advertising man to do His 20th-century Work. Mr. Armstrong could not have completed the Work on the scale he did without that specialized training.

“Neither would I be able.”

Still mourning his father, and having been forced to postpone the funeral until after regularly scheduled quarterly Council of Elders meetings, Mr. Pack boarded a plane for California to attend. He was determined to address certain concerns he had.

It should be noted that in 1994 the headquarters of GCG left San Dimas, California for a larger and nicer office north of San Diego. Growth had required this move. The Council meetings would always be held in San Diego, the second Global headquarters. (The original organization, today called the Living Church of God [LCG], is now headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.)

Weak Leadership, Slow Progress

The Global Church of God had been started almost three years earlier and the fruits evidenced were relatively meager. Vital, basic literature was being produced slowly, despite growing manpower and financial resources. Worse, some doctrinal subjects were simply left unaddressed, with lay members filling the vacuum with their own personal ideas.

Weak and indecisive headquarters leadership, along with the lack of a single voice of doctrinal precision and accuracy, was becoming painfully evident. The ideas of certain ministers, some of whom specialized in “prophecy,” were creating camps—for and against—radical new ideas being preached.

“Two ministers, friends, in the northwestern United States fancied themselves as ‘prophecy specialists.’ In truth, what they preached was outrageous, silly junk. One man taught things like Christ would return on Pentecost, the Wedding Supper is in heaven and, worst of all, that there was no coming captivity of modern Israel—that they were already in captivity—and it was to sin! He was openly teaching that one of the Two Witnesses would be the Elijah, and many in GCG were buying his idea, obtained from the well-known ‘Dr.——’ in Pasadena.

“The best way to describe the things this man believed was that many on the Council found them interesting. Of course, others knew they were nonsense, and easily disproven.

“I had had a long conversation with the Church Administration Director the very night after my father died about the heresies of the above two ministers, and why headquarters was permitting it. I got the, ‘You gotta dance with who brung you’ answer.

“What was perhaps most disturbing was that the same kinds of wild, lunatic-fringe prophetic ideas sweeping PCG (coming from its leader) were also finding a home in the Global Church of God. It was becoming increasingly difficult to see a difference between the two organizations in this regard.”

Missing Bibles

It was puzzling. How could high-ranking ministers who had served with Mr. Armstrong for decades appear so cavalier about important doctrines? Looking around the room, Mr. Pack realized some on the Council did not bother to bring their bibles to meetings! Others rarely opened them.

“Another item that I believe came up at this time in the Council was that members did not need to eat unleavened bread on each of the seven days of that festival. This engendered serious strife on the Council, and I dug my heels in on it. Someone cited Joe Tkach as having said this in 1982, and somebody else said that he heard Mr. Armstrong say in the early 1960s in England that we did not have to do this every day.

“I asked for the floor, and opened my Bible to Exodus 13, and read verses 3 through 9. They are literally impossible to misunderstand, with verse 9 (1) equating unleavened bread to God’s Law in our mouth. Obviously, this is an everyday event in the Christian’s life. (2) So is Jesus Christ, the unleavened bread who came down from heaven, to be eaten every day of our lives. And (3) verse 7 states, ‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.’

“Not one Council member said a word. Finally, the presiding evangelist acquiesced, because no one could argue with these three points.

“This was another moment of truth in my learning process. It was very difficult to comprehend such basic, biblical ignorance in those who had been with Mr. Armstrong for decades. I knew there were minds in the room that just did not have God’s Spirit.”

It became evident that the Council of Elders was passively divided on what it considered to be “less important” doctrines. And no one felt the need to take a firm position.

It was as if these men had been in the Church for so many years, they felt that as long as they were keeping the Sabbath, observing the Holy Days, tithing and not eating ham sandwiches, all was well.

Mr. Pack began to draw a direct correlation between the often “Bible-less” Council meetings and the lackadaisical efforts to unify the Church doctrinally.

Another problem became obvious: Senior men had stayed in the Worldwide Church of God too long. Whether they knew it or not, they had absorbed certain attitudes and doctrinal errors. Many could no longer remember what they had learned and from whom they had learned it. Others no longer believed, or had never believed, some of the most fundamental doctrines Mr. Armstrong taught!

Naturally, confusion was trickling down to local congregations. Many field ministers would not, or could not, address doctrinal issues because they often did not know the position of the Church on a given teaching. Not surprisingly, this led to an “anything goes” attitude among some brethren.

“Are You a Millionaire?”

Although Mr. Pack brought up a wide variety of pressing doctrinal questions on this trip, the event that stands out distinctly in his mind is a separate conversation he had with Global’s leader.

At a lunch engagement, as Mr. Pack opened his wallet, the presiding evangelist caught a glimpse of a Platinum credit card. With two or three personal cards and now a couple corporate cards from House of Health visible, he was apparently focused on the possibility that Mr. Pack was now “wealthy.” The man was aware that Mr. Pack had taken the helm of House of Health four months earlier as his father prepared for neck surgery, and that he would be inheriting the business.

He literally reached over and took Mr. Pack’s wallet from his hand, and began flipping through the contents, asking, “Is that a Platinum credit card? Dave, are you a millionaire?” his voice rising in excited interest.

Stunned at such bluntness, and such a question so soon after his father’s death, Mr. Pack stated he had no idea his worth, and that he was focused on burying his father and fulfilling his obligations as executor of his estate.

He ended the conversation by assuring the man that he would support the Work to the best of his ability after returning home and evaluating the financial condition of the business.

“This was Wednesday, November 2, 1995. I will never forget the date. I opened my wallet to pay for the lunch. But it was not the only time this man wanted to know my ‘worth.’ And there would be many a time he would try to get me to give more to the church.

“On one other occasion, when I offered to pay for a meal—with five others at the table in a restaurant—he responded by literally calling out across the table in an irritated tone, ‘What we really want is for you to give a lot of money to the church, not pay for dinners.’ He was loud. This episode was some time in early 1996. When the others left the table, well aware that he had crossed way over the line, he rushed around the table to soothe the moment. But in the eyes of those present, the damage to him was done.”

“I Need You in San Diego”

In late 1995, the Director of Church Administration had planted the seed in Mr. Pack’s mind that he wished him to move to San Diego the next summer (of 1996) to take over the United States field ministry. They thoroughly discussed the idea at the time of the November Council meetings. Mr. Pack agreed to think about it.

“At the Council meeting right after my father died, my brother-in-law, the CAD Director, also admitted to frustration with some of the ministers being permitted into Global, and explained that he wanted to bring me to San Diego the next summer. He wanted more local support when addressing them, including when he sought back-up from the presiding evangelist. I was not sure I wanted the assignment, but I told him I would consider it. In any event, the offer was firm, and it was intended to be a clear promotion. It meant supervision of the United States regional pastors.

“Just before my uncle’s funeral, we decided to buy a new house, because I had decided there was no way I wanted to go to San Diego. I had come to realize by early 1996 that I would be stymied there—I would not be permitted to do my job, and would be trapped in a place of suffocating misery.

“My brother-in-law was unhappy with me, but he did understand because he was miserable. I felt bad about this part of it.”

Go Off Salary?

As 1996 began, Mr. Pack remained focused on his regional pastorate and continued to receive his normal salary from the Church. There were times he considered going off salary completely to assist in the Work, but realized that “a laborer is worth his hire.” He preferred to continue accepting normal payroll checks as compensation for efforts as a minister.

However, intermittently over the course of the year, he did the equivalent of going off salary by simply sending in an offering that was the same amount as his paycheck the day after he received it. He considered his responsibility no different from that of any other Christian, to give according to his blessings—and he counted himself truly blessed. He now had the ability to support God’s Work in a little greater way.

At that time, almost the entire church was led to believe that Mr. Pack “was not accepting his salary” or had “gone off salary.” Neither was completely accurate, but there were some senior ministers and members of the Council who understood his intention to support the Work as much as he could—both with his ministerial salary and income of the House of Health.

“I did consider for a time going off salary to help the Work, but I was never able. I was constantly reminded that this was practically my duty. Yet, in 25 years, I had never had a savings account. Now I had a very little money, and I was being pressured to no end to give most of it to headquarters.

“This was one of the most ungodly things a person could do to another human being—and it was coming directly, and solely, from the leader of the church, making the pressure even greater. He was also trying to get me to invest in gold stocks in South Africa so I could give more to Global. The man even told the church I was going off salary in order to put extra pressure on me. But the laborer is worthy of his hire, and that is the way it remained.”

Conspiracy Theorists Infiltrate Global

At the beginning of 1996, as Mr. Pack was settling into his new long-distance responsibilities as House of Health owner, a serious problem slowly appeared in several congregations in Mr. Pack’s region. A growing number of brethren began to reflect a deep involvement in “conspiracy theories.”

At first, this appeared to be limited to a small, confused contingent divided between two congregations (Rochester, New York, and Cincinnati, Ohio). Gradually, it became apparent that brethren were being sucked in across other areas, including northeastern Ohio and Michigan. It would be learned later that there were some in these areas, but also around the country, who came into Global with similar thinking. These were mostly veteran conspiracy thinkers, not new converts who could be easily worked with toward recovery.

The basic premise behind many of these theorists’ ideas was a paranoia that there was a “New World Order” underway (a phrase first heard in a 1991 speech by President George H.W. Bush). It was supposedly being constructed secretly by governments around the world, and would soon be imposed on the citizenry of the United States.

Those of this mindset spoke of “black helicopters” following them home from work and secretly monitoring their homes, and they believed that certain manufacturing facilities and warehouses near their homes were actually secret “concentration camps,” among other outlandish ideas.

Many of them held a warped obsession with the April 1993 Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas, claiming a government cover-up. They were also caught up in strange forms of numerology, randomly associating world events with numbers in Scripture. Some “knew who shot JFK” or that “the Rockefellers had been killed and cloned for government purposes” or “the Soviet government actually destroyed the Challenger spacecraft in 1986 by space-based laser weapons—but only after the astronauts had first been secretly taken out of the capsule and hidden in Arizona, where they now reside.” Another member in Mr. Pack’s congregation “did not believe the Holocaust had occurred.” He could not be convinced otherwise.

Sadly, this mentality was not limited to the members’ view of the outside world. They began to believe that some ministers in Global were actually covert agents of the Jesuits (a religious order within the Catholic Church)!

Spiritual Boredom

An inset fits here. Such thinking is difficult to comprehend, but it is partly attributable to what may be called “spiritual boredom.” Some members complained that they were tired of the ministry preaching “the same old things” repeatedly, explaining God’s Plan and spiritual principles in the same way. One member of a congregation in Mr. Pack’s region began to put check marks in her Bible next to every scripture that was referenced or used in sermons and Bible studies. When certain scriptures were referenced more than once over the course of several months, this would be cited as proof that “the ministry was not teaching anything new.” Again, some members mirrored the Athenians, who lived to hear “some new thing.” Ironically, the Pasadena conspirators had carefully prepared the survivors of the apostasy to look for new things. But conspiracy theorists were perhaps the most susceptible.

The irony is that this was only a few years after the truth had been thrown out under the guise of “new” understanding. The basics of doctrine were what was needed to re-establish brethren in the faith.

“The conspiracy theorists who entered Global were a cancer of the worst order. I had dealt with them many times in my ministry, and they are minds that can rarely be brought back to balance. Once they have been involved for any length of time in the drug of what are endless conspiracy theories, they become addicts. Over time, and not much time at that, this becomes their religion. I liken it to the ‘Holy Names’ people, or to some who make aspects of natural food a religion. They ‘know’ something that everybody else does not know, and nothing will change them.

“I studied conspiracy thinking in the early 1970s at great length. I read a host of books and magazines to see what there was to the idea of ‘the Illuminati,’ as they are often called. This is when I learned it was a drug of the mind with vast reach—and that involvement in it was very dangerous to maintaining spiritual growth. It tends to block out the sun in its victim’s thinking.

“Consider. There are only three views of conspiracy theories, and I have taught this for decades. First, they are all true—who could believe this?—but if so, there is nothing you can do about them. Second, they are all false, and obviously should not be given the time of day. Third, they are a mixture of both, and we cannot know which is which. So what would be the point of studying them?

“Finally, there is the all-important point that conspiracy thinkers are dangerous to the image of the Church. Not only are their ideas wrong, but they make the Church look to be composed of kooks, something people are eager to believe anyway. We did not need ‘members’ fostering the image that Global was a Church that did not believe in the Holocaust. So there was the protection factor for the Church.

“But headquarters could not see this!”

Another factor in the conspiracy problem was an event that had a permanent impact on the whole world—the advent of the Internet.

While the Internet is now a huge part of everyday life in many nations, this was not the case in 1995-96. Many were new to this medium, and were transfixed by the information found there. However, in seeking information, many could not discern the reliable from the faulty, and the timeless wisdom of “considering the source” fell by the wayside.

Soon, minds ripe for strange ideas became addicted to the Internet, and the conspiracy theories found there, again, as if they were a drug. Anyone could get a “fix.”

These people began to be more vocal about their ideas, which led to division in congregations. Mr. Pack repeatedly had to let them know—in no uncertain terms—that such bizarre theories had no place in the Church of God. This fell on deaf ears.

Soon, at social events at the Feast and combined activities, a few brethren began to be grouped into a caste system. There were those who were ignorant and those who considered themselves the “enlightened few,” who knew the “story behind the story.”

Incredibly, some of these brethren actually began to insist that Mr. Pack and other senior ministers should not be warning of the coming Great Tribulation, but rather of the covert activities of those building the “New World Order.”

Such odd, strange and divisive ideas could not be tolerated in the congregations of Mr. Pack’s region. It was crucial to address these members. Hoping that brethren could be protected, he told them, through sermons and counsel, to wash their minds of the conspiracy ideas.

By this time some members had become so paranoid that they were convinced Mr. Pack was a member of the Freemasons, and had reached the highest level, which is the 33rd degree! He would only learn this accusation later.

Unbelievably, upon hearing that some were mixed up in such thinking, Global’s leader tacitly permitted some of it. Realize that he had set a certain tone in the church by holding to strange ideas of his own such as New Moons, of which some knew. By choosing to not clearly condemn the focus on conspiracies, he tacitly added fuel to the fire.

As Mr. Pack dealt with some of these situations locally, a recurring accusation began to reappear. Once again, certain members in his region began to complain that Mr. Pack was “being too harsh.” As had happened early on due to the “30 Reasons” sermons, he began to hear rumblings that the presiding evangelist was upset with him.

“At a certain point, I had to deal with people in the Akron area, and other areas of the northeast region, who were very deep into these things, and who were closely connected to one another in opinion-sharing. I learned that a small group of them had also sprung up in Michigan. But that the real genesis of the problem lay in brethren within the Cleveland area. I had to address them, because they were causing division in the church.

“Naturally, some of them got very, very angry. And just as naturally, when they complained to headquarters, the presiding evangelist did not rebuff them. I did not know this at the time. I was forced to threaten suspension of two or three people. This outraged the others, and caused an explosion.

“At a point, I got a blunt phone call from Global’s leader stating that I ‘was costing the Church income.’ I thought, Where is the most basic, righteous judgment in matters? What is wrong here?

“Somewhere along the line, I believe in about late 1997 or so, I came to the point where I had to confront the Council as bluntly as I could. It was high drama. I told them in no uncertain terms I was charged by God to protect my flock from false doctrines—no matter where they came from. I explained that if I were going to tolerate heresies and wrong ideas I would have just stayed in the WCG.

“Sitting at the end of the table, so that I could see all 12 men at once, I stated that I would protect my flock from THEM if I had to. I made it clear, later, that I would mark ANYONE in the MINISTRY who tried to harm the people in my area with false teachings. They were shocked. Of course, had this had to be done, this action would have caused chaos, but it was my duty. Recall the Mystery of the Ages quote from Mr. Armstrong, referenced earlier. This quote will come up again in this biography.

“But remember again, it had still not once occurred to me what would be the only final solution to all these problems. Mr. Armstrong needed years to leave Sardis, and I needed years to do the same with Laodicea.”

Administratively Harsh?

Led by its leader, certain senior leaders on the Global Council began to have significant issues with the way that Mr. Pack dealt with brethren’s problems in his regional pastorate. Starting with those who were entertaining certain conspiracy theories, but eventually including others who had clear problems of conduct, there was a growing concern that Mr. Pack was not showing enough understanding. Of course, the real problem was his doctrinal positions. And, much like Pasadena, they had to be sure that this was never perceived to be the problem. They had to keep it about “his administration.”

In the end, however, they were right. He was not “understanding” with people who thought that they were being followed home by black helicopters after work or who believed the plastics factory near their house was a United Nations operation—and were talking about these things. Concern for their welfare, and for those around them, dictated that certain brethren who could be reached needed immediate help to come out of this destructive, exclusivist, isolative mindset.

Although the conspiracy theories were a new twist, this was déjà vu. The New Testament is replete with examples of the early apostles addressing foreign ideas entering the Church, whether Jewish traditions or the intellectual vanity of Gnosticism.

“We had the happiest, most doctrinally sound and unified pastorate in the entirety of Global. We were also growing fast again, much like had occurred in the WCG. Liberal ministers were not happy, however, and were complaining about my lack of ‘inclusiveness’ as they would put it.

“By April 1996, I was summoned to a meeting in Cincinnati because a minister down there in my region had put one man out of the church—and then told him I said to do it, when I had specifically told him NOT to do it, but rather to only suspend him until I could get there in a few days.

“The reaction against me within his ‘conspiracy circle’ was almost violent. The insubordinate pastor was excused as an ‘old man who got it wrong.’ Yet, this man finally admitted openly to the CAD Director that I had not told him to disfellowship the man in question. The Global headquarters retired the man. But the CAD Director flew in and the Louisville pastor drove over because he was to now take over this pastorate. I was placed in a hotel meeting room with about 10 angry conspiracy theorists around the table, each of them permitted by the two ministers present to lambast me. The Louisville pastor had blasted my parents’ congregation in Greensboro in 1974, and only later was Pasadena barely able to ‘restore’ him. I knew he was very liberal.

“This was one of the most outrageous experiences I had ever been in. I was so very happy that I was not going to San Diego, and knew that God had protected me from this move. I drove home from Cincinnati well aware that I might soon not be a regional pastor. I did not care, since I was blocked from doing my job.”

As had happened in the WCG, many wondered how Mr. Pack’s ministry could yield so much growth, have so many fruits in his pastorates, and at the same time be dealing “so harshly” with “so many.” It just did not add up. Yet still, this charge continued to be leveled.

His response was always the same. He learned early in his calling that to be considered a true Christian, a person must “live the Book” (God’s Word). And, to be a true minister of Jesus Christ, a pastor must administer the Bible.

Most love correction—as long as it is directed at someone else.

This period represented a turning point in Mr. Pack’s thinking. Although long recognizing there would be some in the Church whose conduct slipped (Paul’s letters to Corinth bear this out), he saw for the first time that there were elements of alien, confused thinking cutting large swaths through all of the WCG splinter groups.

The other groups that had splintered from the Worldwide Church of God were obviously Laodicean—and sometimes they seemed determined to prove it through their decisions. Now, he began to see many of the same attitudes in a much bigger way in the Global Church.

The Northeast Pastors

In the background, Mr. Pack was working with seven men in the Northeast region. He lived toward the center of the region, with these men largely surrounding his area. His job was to work with each man, and keep the region on track.

“The men in my region were a very diverse group. Two had been international pastors in Worldwide, transferred into the Northeast region by Global. All the other men were moved into their locations from other parts of the United States. I was to learn a great deal about working with ministers during an apostasy that brought invaluable experience.

“One pastor came in from an international area, where he had pastored a small number of people. I had known him a very little bit from my time in New York City. His thinking would turn out to be bizarre beyond all bounds, eventually coming to services dressed in outlandish international garb. He was insistent that interracial marriage was not a sin, and the CAD Director told me not to work with him, that he would do this from headquarters. They shared the same view of this doctrine. I was being backdoored, and there was nothing I could do. The man soon resigned.

“A particular U.S. associate pastor lived in a city where there was also a pastor. This made him expendable to the area, if he were ready to be on his own. I called the pastor to see if he would recommend the man to move up to pastor and be sent to a post in my region. The pastor had doubts, but did reluctantly agree. This man turned out to be a complete pastoral dysfunctional. His teenage son came to a dance in Akron, and deliberately destroyed the ceiling of a room in the home of his host by soaking the floor above it with water. The act was malicious. I told his parents what he had done. They ignored me. That son was not long after killed in a car accident.

“Another pastor was a man relieved of his duties in the WCG some years before coming with Global. I interviewed and hired him. It was a terrible mistake. He wound up believing Mr. Armstrong was never even an apostle, among other bizarre ideas. At a point, he refused a transfer within the region. Headquarters did back me up on this one, permitting me to tell him that he would be fired if he did not report to his new assignment. He showed up, but picked a home an hour from where he was supposed to live. When his wife died some years later, he buried her before even telling the church she had died. This barely scratches the surface of strange things he did.

“I interviewed and hired another man who had not previously been a pastor. He seemed like a nice person. I learned much later that he believed and taught such things as abortion was okay under some circumstances—Christians can hate others under some circumstances—there are two groups of 144,000, totaling 288,000—he shopped at flea markets on the Sabbath—and told off-color and racist jokes. I never knew any of these things for the short time the man served under me. Two staunch local members later went to his regional pastor (I was then out of the picture), and he told them to take up these concerns with the man. When they followed instructions, the man got angry, pounded his fist, jumped up and rebuffed them. He died very shortly after.

“Of course, there was also the older man who had lied and created problems during the matter of the conspiracy theorists. This man should never have been in the ministry for even five minutes. Church Administration knew this and retired him. I had not interviewed or hired this particular man.

“The last two men in the region essentially always went around me to evangelist friends at headquarters. They had strong political connections, and used them. They became ‘hands-off.’ When I saw that this was tolerated, it became another reason I knew my time as a regional pastor would come to an end.

“I registered complaints to headquarters about the kinds of things described here, as well as so much, much, much more regarding just the men outlined above. Almost never would anybody take action about anything. I was ‘making waves,’ and ‘not seeing the big picture.’

“But, just as had happened in the WCG, they would soon take action against the messenger.

“I learned untold volumes from hiring men who never should have been ministers, never mind men considered to have ‘stood up for the truth.’ I count these among some of the worst administrative mistakes of my life. I was inexperienced. While I take some umbrage at Mr. Armstrong having ordained evangelists whom he later acknowledged did not have God’s Spirit, I am not completely off the hook for ‘missing the mark’ so badly on these men. I got fooled, plain and simple, by a number of men.”

Linking Conduct to Doctrine

To understand Mr. Pack’s ministry, certain basic instructions from God’s Word must be examined.

Consider this instruction in Philippians 4:5: “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” Mr. Pack understood this was a doctrinal statement—and it spoke to a person’s conduct. Most people simply did not connect the dots that conduct is described and specifically labeled by God in His Word as doctrine.

Next, I Timothy 1:9-10 sets up more: “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons…”

All of the items in these scriptural lists are matters of basic Christian conduct. But most people never connect them to the end of verse 10: “and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine…”

The point? Wrong conduct is “contrary to sound doctrine.” Mr. Pack knew few considered this.

Also notice verse 11, tying conduct “to the glorious gospel of the blessed God.” The way individual Christians are to “preach the gospel” is through conduct, as a light to the world.

Philippians 1:27 makes this clear. Notice: “Only let your conversation [conduct] be as it becomes the gospel of Christ…that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…”

“These verses are central to almost everything that I learned in my years in Global. They also brought a powerful message about what was not happening in any of the splinters. The Church that Jesus built was to be unified, living the gospel, and understanding that all matters of right conduct were an equation with right doctrine.

“I came to see what could be called a second kind of apostasy that was evident in hundreds of people I knew from the WCG who had moved to one of the splinters. I referred to it as ‘the apostasy of conduct.’ People’s most basic Christian conduct had degenerated every bit as much as had their doctrinal understanding. I would one day have to write much about what I saw.”

If a person attended services sporadically, Mr. Pack would remind him that the Sabbath was a commanded assembly. He told them to attend regularly.

Most ministers would not do this.

If a woman came with revealing or inappropriate clothing, his wife brought this to her attention.

Most ministers would not do this.

When brethren did not faithfully save second tithe to attend the Feast, Mr. Pack would admonish them.

Other ministers saw this as harsh.

To determine whether someone was being called, it had to be known whether the person was serious about obeying God, and in all points. Mr. Armstrong had established the policy that if, after attending for one year, a prospective member was not pursuing baptism, they should drop out.

Most ministers wanted to keep attendance up.

The truth has everything to do with how people live, not just the doctrines or ideas they believe.

Recall that Mr. Pack believed the simple principle of “God’s Math”—removing divisive brethren leads to unity in the Church—and growth in numbers.

Holding members to high standards and refusing to compromise doctrine in the early 1980s brought the best financial years ever in God’s Work. But this was lost to GCG’s leadership.

Another Hint About San Diego

In May of 1996, the leader of Global broached the subject of Mr. Pack moving to San Diego to bring additional business experience to the staff. This was in no way connected to the idea of joining the Church Administration team. They were separate ideas by separate men, six months apart.

Although the idea sounded interesting, both men agreed that there were several reasons not to yet make the change. Mr. Pack reasoned that this could be a possibility in the future—however slim—but current circumstances with learning the business made it unrealistic. Mr. Pack was still in the early phases of this new challenge, and anticipated gaining much business knowledge in the months ahead. The men agreed that he should not yet leave Akron. Mr. Pack was willing to serve at headquarters when circumstances changed. The Work was the first priority.

“I was shocked at the thought that I would come to San Diego for the position that the leader had described. He made it very clear that he wanted me to essentially run the entire Work under him, as a kind of Chief Operations Officer. He was most specific, and believed that my business experience, however thin I thought it was within my overall family, would be something that headquarters did not have. He would tell me every time he talked to me that he needed an ‘idea man’ around him. But I saw that so many men were stifled under him—so how much more would be any ‘idea man?’

“For the same reason that I did not want to move to San Diego to serve in Church Administration, I was not very interested in this opportunity. On the surface, it was an even greater promotion. But I could not imagine working directly for this man, and neither could my wife. I mulled the decision for almost one year, but could never get myself to be comfortable about it. I could not see how God was in it, and believed that I would not be permitted to do my job by a man with no idea how to do his.”

Overspending Leads to Borrowing

From the very beginning, the Global Church of God made bad financial decisions. They put the organization in deep financial trouble. Although Mr. Armstrong was aggressive in doing the Work, he understood the command to be “a good steward.”

Global’s leader had no business experience, and both he and those under him wildly overspent beyond revenue received. This brought them to the summer of 1996. When the United Church formed and Global did not continue growing as had been projected, an extreme financial crisis developed.

GCG reached an impasse. It needed big money fast or risked folding. Its leader decided to borrow from the brethren and ministry as much money as possible for what was hoped to be a short period.

Mr. Pack was approached.

The evangelist made clear the situation, “Dave, we just need the money temporarily. Please get as much as you can and send it right away. Without an immediate infusion, we cannot meet payroll! Can you send money to get us through this short term cash crunch?”

The situation had to be dire, but Mr. Pack had limited resources. Since the death of his father the previous fall, he had accumulated a reasonable—and necessary—cash reserve in his business. But this was exactly that. It was a reserve that was vital for normal store operations. It was not something that could be permanently lost.

Something had to be done. Mr. Pack called his son and asked what was the largest amount that could be pulled from the business account and sent to the Work without endangering the company financially.

Mr. Pack decided he could loan $57,000 to the Church, but only with the absolute guarantee that it was a 90-day loan to be repaid once the fall Holy Day offerings arrived. He asked for a promissory note, and received assurance that the note and the date would be honored.

At first a month passed, then two, without the promissory note’s arrival. After many requests, by phone and letter, Mr. Pack still could not get headquarters to send him the promissory note, needed to confirm the transaction had occurred.

“The leader called me in about late July or early August of 1996. He was urgent. I had never heard him so frantic. Headquarters was in deep financial trouble. I had been hearing from different ones there that some sort of accounting malfunction occurred, and that the church had fallen into a hole to the tune of almost $1.5 million without anybody recognizing what was happening. I was pressured in the worst way to give all I could, and to do so quickly.

“I happily agreed, but made clear a promissory note was necessary, and must be sent right away. I was sending every dime I had in the world, as well as my 16-year-old daughter’s inheritance from her grandfather the previous year. I was asked to solicit a couple others if they could help. I did, and they did.

“But I could not get the Business manager to send me the promissory note. I called him at least 10 times, asking for the note that I had been promised. They had my funds within 48 hours, but had not kept their agreement to send the note. I finally DEMANDED it. I got the note just before the Feast of Tabernacles. What had been done was an outrage!”

The Feast came and went without repayment. Mr. Pack made it clear to the Global leader that his business needed the money to meet specific obligations before the end of the calendar year. Begrudgingly, the funds were remitted, but it was made clear that he was more interested in his new business than “God’s Work.”

This implication stunned Mr. Pack. After everything that he had done to pour his entire life into God’s Work—he now stood accused of not enough zeal for that Work.

It was at this moment that all the collective events that transpired over the course of 1996 began to make sense. But things would grow worse—much worse.

Chapter Forty-Four – Demoted—Gaining Business Experience

There was a bright spot that occurred before, during and after the Feast of Tabernacles of 1996. The Packs were sent to keep the Feast in Australia. This would be preceded by a visit for the Day of Atonement to New Zealand. They would be able to visit Hawaii on the way home.

“My family was thrilled to hear that all of us—wife, daughter and I—were going to visit Australia and New Zealand for the Feast of Tabernacles, after which we could ‘take in Hawaii.’ When I married my first wife, she made me ‘make a promise’ to her—that I would take her back to England and Hawaii some day. She had kept the Feast in Hawaii the last year before we married. We never got to England, but did make Hawaii—and with our daughter.

“Of course, the main part of the trip would be keeping the Feast with God’s people halfway around the world in a place that the three of us had never been. I had heard that New Zealand was the most beautiful country in the world, and we were scheduled to fly into Auckland first.

“We arrived, toured north of Auckland for one day—all out of sorts with the time change. We then kept Atonement before touring one more day south of Auckland.

“I must say that New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world. We were thrilled that our daughter could be with us. I remember thinking how my calling into God’s truth put me in a position to see places of the world that I likely would never have seen otherwise. The brethren were very warmly affectioned toward visitors. I learned that many people had read my book and heard my tapes from these areas so far away. It was its own reward hearing that these things had ‘made the difference’ in leaving the WCG.

“We were next to go to the beautiful city of Perth, on the western side of Australia, to keep the first half of the Feast several hours down the coast on the Indian Ocean. Again, we found the experience extraordinary, and western Australia to be very different from New Zealand—we toured a little as we could. The second half of the Feast was spent in Canberra, the capital, located in eastern Australia. Here we saw kangaroos in the wild, and they were everywhere—‘Reds’ and ‘Grays.’ After the Feast, we toured the east coast of Australia, going north to Sydney, no doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world. My aunt had once lived there for five years.

“It was as though we had now been to three entirely different parts of the world, including east and west Australia, which are very dissimilar. I gained a perspective of how these diverse parts of the southern hemisphere are more than just ‘down under.’ The birthright blessings in God’s promise to Abraham are evident in more places than North America and Britain. But I must say there are an awful lot of deadly creatures in Australia—spiders, snakes, sharks, tree frogs, crocodiles, potent jellyfish, scorpions, and many more. I bought a very big book, titled, Australia’s Deadliest Creatures, and was glad I was reading about them after I had left.

“Of course, Hawaii was entirely different, and it became the fourth part of the world we saw in this one trip.

“The only negative to the trip was that I learned later that the presiding evangelist wanted me far away from any kind of influence in the United States at what would be larger Feast sites, meaning exposure to greater numbers of people. Australia and New Zealand together were under 200 in attendance. I was well aware he was upset that I needed the note repaid right after the Feast.

“He had ‘plans’ for me I would soon learn.”

Despite all that was happening behind the scenes, Mr. Pack’s public relationship with the Global leader was still cordial. But events about to unfold forced the situation closer to a breaking point.


The presiding evangelist scheduled a trip to Akron for the weekend of December 7, 1996, with the intent to speak with Mr. Pack. Mr. Pack learned of it just one week before when his brother-in-law finally reached him in Greensboro, where the family had gone for Thanksgiving. (Both his sons lived there.) There was both urgency and gravity in his voice.

Not knowing what the meeting was to be about, and having been told he would find out when the leader arrived, Mr. Pack approached it with some apprehension, but at the same time, eagerly looked forward to the meeting, hoping some of the serious administrative and financial issues facing the Church could be resolved.

The purpose of the visit would soon be clear.

The leader walked into the house, li