Sunday, February 22, 2009

Roderick C. Meredith: A Biographical Sketch--Part 3: Post-1972 Turmoil

In the last posts we have seen Roderick C. Meredith emerge as a leading figure of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. Being one of the first Evangelists ordained he is at the very center of power in this autocratic church. But now with the 1972 disappointment rocking the faith of the believers a severe crisis begins to raise up. And so this account continues.

1973: Reassigned to be Deputy Chancellor of AC Bricket Wood (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, 'Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', p. 3).

1974: Returned to US. Restored as Deputy Chancellor of AC Pasadena (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, 'Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', p. 3).

1975: June: Raymond McNair files for divorce from Leona (AR29 October 1984).

August 9: Criticizes the fact of African-Americans holding public offices, namely the mayoralties of Los Angeles and Washington, DC and the police chief of Washington, DC, because they are not 'Israelites' and thus are actually foreigners in the land (AR2 1977, 'Separation of Church and State?').

1976: June 16: Wife Margie Helen Meredith (nee McNair) dies aged 40 (Worldwide News, June 21, 1976, pp. 1 &8). When Raymond McNair's book Ascent to Greatness is published, it is dedicated to her (PDF p. 11).

1977: November 20: Marries Sheryl Ann Hensley of Bakersfield, California (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, 'Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', pp. 1, 3). They would later have two children.

HWA had fallen in love with Ramona Martin but as she was a divorcee whose former husband was still alive Meredith ruled that they could not be married. HWA would disregard this and marry her (AR20 June 1982).

1978: Meredith and Hoeh are honored on their 25th anniversary of their ordination. At this time Meredith is pastor of Glendale, California church (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, ' Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', pp. 1, 3).

In the Gary Bagley trial Mr. Bagley tried to subpoena Meredith to demonstrate how widespread knowledge of GTA's immorality was. Helge argued that a subpoena for Meredith should be ignored in Gary Bagley court case (AR4 June 1978). He was later excused from testifying after Helge sent written statements saying he knew nothing relevant to the case.(AR9 June 1979).

Sheryl Meredith complained that she became hard of breathing after just ten minutes in the poisoned Ambassador library which had not recovered from a botched fumigation.

1979: The Receivership. HWA decided to cooperate with the State of California at first and on January 3 appointed C. Wayne Cole to cooperate with the authorities. But HWA was soon persuaded otherwise and betrayed Cole giving those opposing the receivership his blessing, including Roderick Meredith. On January 4 they called a meeting. When Cole tried to present his side of the story Meredith physically seized him and, with help from supporters, cast him off the stage. On Saturday he announced the disfollowshipment of four officials said to have aided the receivers, including Robert Kuhn (who in his post-armstrongite life would emerge as a multi-millionaire). That day he sent security agents to try and change the locks of the college administration building but were blocked off by the State's security men. Rader tried to whitewash it as people simply doing normal business. The Receiver was forced to hire extra security due to his attempted obstructions (AR#7, January 1979).

Appointed Director of pastoral administration worldwide (Worldwide News, January 15, 1979, pp. 1 & 16).

Disfollowshiped Ambassador Report publishers, 'co-publishers Bob Gerringer, Bill Hughes, John Trechak, and Len and Margaret Zola received disfellowship letters from Roderick Meredith' (AR#8).

Dorothy tried to communicate with her father via Meredith but was unable to do so (AR9 June 1979).

He inaccurately accused Leona McNair of being responsible for her divorce from Raymond McNair. This would begin her court case against WCG (AR29 October 1984) (AR28 July 1984 'McNair Trial Begins').

In the March 27, 1979 Pastor General's Report, pp. 1-2 Meredith calls for the members to produce more money, suggesting various possibilities such as 'painting houses, cleaning houses, ironing, mending, etc., washing cars, selling farm products, artwork, babysitting, conducting paper drives, yard and garage sales, bake sales, quilting bees, collecting scrap iron, delivering sales papers or advertisements for local firms, etc.' to raise extra funds to continue WCG's court case to find a way to get out of the Receivership. Headquarters ministers, despite this financial crisis, nevertheless proceed to take flights to various congregations. Meredith himself goes to Cincinnati. (xHWA, 'The 1979 Receivership and the Big 3', Escaping Armstrongism, December 24, 2008).

Some of the members in Hawaii left WCG due to the turmoil affecting the organization, despite Meredith's attempts to maintain power over them (The "Plain Truth" about Hawaii, The Painful Truth [atheist/agnostic/deist]).

However 'Meredith, aggrieved over the extent of Rader's power, confided to a number of ministers that he wanted to see Rader removed. It wasn't long before Rader learned of Meredith's desire' (AR42 September 1989.) And so he was sent to Hawaii in exile for resisting Stanley Rader’s ordination as an Evangelist.
'First Roderick C. Meredith was removed as director of the WCG's ministry....The board of trustees was purged of anti-Rader trustees (Meredith and Luker)....As we go to press, we have learned that Roderick Meredith has been given a six month "leave of absence" in Hawaii. Few believe he will ever return to any significant position in the WCG. Perhaps he will not return at all.'(AR#10, 'Rader Ordained')
1980: HWA sends a fascinating letter rebuking him harshly. In the middle of HWA's autocratic spiel he apparently rules him out as a successor:
'When I told you and Raymond [McNair], and perhaps another or two, that IF I were no longer among the living, I wanted you to be sure Ted did not slip in and take over. At that time, I had heard SO MUCH talk about my dying right away, perhaps started by Ted, that for a while I was overly conscious of it. It is not that later I changed my mind. But as time went on I began to realize very deeply that God has not prepared ANYONE to take my place. You, Rod, could never take it. I know that is 100% contrary to your own estimate of yourself. You have a WILL to lead, but not the qualifications.
Although it must be stated he apparently felt at this time that no one would replace him, which of course turned out to be wrong. This attitude would later manifest itself when HWA would not allow his successor, Tkach, to call himself an Apostle.

Meredith continued to languish in isolation.
Roderick C. Meredith, in exile in Hawaii (see our last newsletter), says he hopes he will be allowed to return to Pasadena soon. ("There are strong forces at work in the church," he commented to one member.)...He says he has been ordered not to speak to fellow ministers. But nothing was ever mentioned about not talking to WCG members and others, so that's okay. (AR#11, March 1979, 'Where are they now?')
He later returned to favor and got out of his exile, but Ambassador Report believed he was now less powerful than before.
Evangelist Roderick C. Meredith has been allowed to return from his exile in Hawaii and is now permitted to teach classes at Ambassador College again. His name has been returned to the staff box of The Plain Truth but only as a "senior writer," along with Jeff Calkins, Keith Stump, etc. Insiders say it is unlikely he will ever again be allowed a position of real responsibility in the church hierarchy. Said one long-time friend, "They've emasculated him." (AR#13, September 1980, 'Where are they now?')
He is given a chapter in David Robinson's book, chapter 14: Roderick Meredith - The Broken Reed (AR12 June 1980).

1981: HWA establishes Council of Elders but leaves Meredith out. (AR15 March 1981)

HWA turns against Rader and has him give up his prominent position thus allowing Meredith to regain some of his powers (AR16 July 1981 'Rader Ousted'AR17 October 1981'').

August 10 Worldwide News reports Meredith on Council of Elders. AR speculates that Meredith will succeed HWA. (AR17 October 1981). I wonder if John Trechak knew about HWA's letter to him in Hawaii.

Resisted revival of make-up ban and tried to rally Tkach on his side but Tkach refuses to participate in 'suicidal' act (AR18 December 1981). This is also mentioned in Kessler's Letter, excepts of which may be seen in AR18 March 1982.

Bob Fahey was called by HWA as the man most worthy to lead the church but was soon relegated to a lower position by Meredith supporters (AR18 December 1981).

WCG has gone through a lot of turmoil but through it all Meredith seems to have weathered this storm and continues to be a high ranking official of WCG. Many tithe paying members were lost but WCG seems to be able to come back from these trying times. All appaers to be - pretty much - fine as 1982 begins.

To be continued...

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.


  1. It is interesting that when the state audit of '79 failed and the dust settled, it was found that Arthur Anderson did the audit for the WCG, which makes me wonder,(after Arthur Anderson was found to have accepted an expensive bribe from Enron to adjust their books), how much they were paid to adjust the WCG books? and exactly why WCG was so secretive about WCG wages, and financial statements? Did "God's church" keep two sets of books?

  2. Mary Lane said...

    >>Did "God's church" keep two sets of books?<<

    Speculation is not facts.

    People will only have the option to take bribes if they are offered. But decent, honest people neither offer nor take bribes, you might be disappointed to learn.

  3. Tom Mahon says "Speculation is not facts."

    And you know this because.....? you know the facts? Just curious.

  4. Mary, Beware! Tom is a known narcissist. Don't be his source by replying to him. I can confidently claim that Tom truly believes that it is better that a hundred thousand people should perish than that he should be even slightly ignored.

  5. Herbert Armstrong the foolish shepherd of Zech 11