Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Roderick C. Meredith: A Biographical Sketch--Part 6: The Living Years

And so all seemed well with the Global Church of God as of 1998. Meredith had been able to build up a following of 8000 or so and seemed well on his way to rebuilding the Armstrong empire.

Interlude: Before we continue this narrative I wish to mention some details I failed to mention. A picture of Meredith and his wife may be seen in the 1960 Envoy, p. 147, PDF p. 150. The photo of Meredith's brother-in-law Raymond McNair and his wife may be seen on p. 157, PDF p. 160. It is during this time that, according court testimony by Leona McNair, Roderick Meredith gave a four and a half hour 'counseling' session to her which she depicts in a very negative light. Meredith stated otherwise, that it was only an hour long conversation that was a friendly chat (AR29 October 1984).

Also I recall reading in one of HWA's articles that the number six is Man's number (day Adam created, 666, etc.) so although I think that idea is nonsense I find it appropriate to end this after six parts.

We now continue with this narrative:

As of 1998, as previously shown AR70 October 1998 reported Roderick Meredith's Global Church of God as appearing to be well in place to emerge as the dominant Armstrongite church. On Pentecost June 15 he spoke about the growth GCG was experiencing.

Late 1998: Power struggle between RCM and the Church Board erupts. Meredith sends a 'special emergency letter' on November 21. The Journal covered the split in this article which also contained the Boards' response to Meredith's accusations. AR71 February 1999 covers this event in detail, containing excerpts from the writings of both Meredith and the Board concerning this power struggle. Meredith responded with a December 21 letter. Meredith leaves GCG with 80% of members and form Living Church of God. Norman Edwards provides a thoughtful critique of the split in Servants’ News, Jan/Feb 2000: Continuing the Work of the Worldwide Church of God Part 2. Ambassador Watch provides a brief summary of the event. CESNUR Center for Studies on New Religions also provides a brief article on the split, with links to many materials.

It is interesting that one of the justifications Meredith uses for his rebellion against the Board in his first letter is that a non-autocratic government is unable to get 'the gospel' preached and only causes distractions from the church's primary mission and ' breeds CHAOS and confusion'. Has he forgotten all the pervasive political in-fighting that occurred in HWA's WCG? At one point he was even sent to exile in Hawaii for six months. Is that not politics? That organization was always dictatorial, so according to Meredith's apparent reasoning there would be no political in-fighting because everyone know where they belong and will only commit themselves to completing their assigned missions. The Ambassador Report tells a different account, it reveals an organization of chaos and confusion, of political in-fighting, of autocratic binges that caused a mountain of abuse and trauma for the eternally abused flock. Is that not chaos and confusion? His justification for dictatorship does not reflect reality.

1999: Living Church of God established. Richard Ames, David Crockett, Dave Hall, Jonathan McNair, John Ogwyn and Dr. Lynn Torrance join (AR71 February 1999). Also involved are Douglas Winnail and Mark Mendiola.

I recall hearing once in a sermon Meredith gave that originally he and those with him wanted to name his church the Church of the Living God, to imitate I Timothy 3:15, one of the twelve Church of God passages HWA used to 'prove' that the church bore the name Church of God which happens to use that very phrase. However another church held the copyright. The Meredithites tried to get that name but failed to do so, thus the name became the Living Church of God.

LCG begins Living Church News magazine for church members, beginnig with the January-February issue. The Tomorrow's World telecast and magazine also are established. Tomorrow's World magazine begins with May-June issue. This PDF file features a deleted article by the now departed Mark Mendiola, a nostalgic article commenting on the passing of the older generation and fearing the short comings of the new generation, because as all Armstrongites know the USA will turn hopelessly corrupt and be punished by total military defeat and Americans will be sent overseas as slaves. Meredith was able to retain his TV spot on WGN. (Tomorrow's World was also the name of a short-lived magazine WCG produced from 1969 to 1972 as a more spiritual counterpart to the more secular focused Plain Truth). Weekly Internet updates are made by Headquarters.

May 3: LCG disfollowships and marks David Pack, who goes out and create his own church, the Restored Church of God, and later calls himself an Apostle and orders members to liquidate their assets for him.

September 17: GCG, crippled by debt, most of which was incurred under Meredith, declares bankruptcy (Norman Edwards, Servants’ News, Jan/Feb 2000: Continuing the Work of the Worldwide Church of God Part 2). Many members gradually drift into UCG.

2000: LCG's Bible Study Course, written by John Ogwyn, begins to be published.

2001: Douglas Winnail begins his 'Prophecy come Alive' column in the March-April issue, the first column is 'Jerusalem's Sobering Future'.

2002: By this time Raymond McNair becomes reconciled with Meredith and joins LCG, he even writes an article for the March-April 2002 issue of Tomorrow's World, 'America's Protective Shield' which tells of British-Israelism and warns of coming punishment.

50th anniversary of Meredith's ordination.

2003: LCG moves Headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina. Presumably around this time Meredith buys this house.

Raymond McNair takes advantage of move to stay behind and establish the Church of God 21st Century.

2004?: Meredith's sister Pattricia, who never entered Armstrongism, dies.

April 14: Carl McNair dies.

2005: March 12: the Brookfield shooting. A church member murders seven church members in a congregation at Brookfield, Wisconsin. The news was told by Dibar Apartian in LCG's March 17 update. Meredith gave an interview to Dixon Cartwright. He discusses the shooting in his March 17 Co-worker letter and in the March 31 update (this update also contains a commentary by Richard Ames on the shootings and peoples' response to them which I find quite illuminating, though not in the way intended) and April 7 update. Also relevant is the March 24 update. The shooting is also discussed in Living Church News May-June 2005 in the obituary section (p. 23).

One motivating factor often cited to explain why Terry Ratzmann did what he did was his severe frustration in finding a wife. In observing how Meredith wrote about this unprecedented crisis I was concerned by his lack of focus on the plight of singles in LCG, who are forbidden to marry anyone outside of the church or even those of a different race within LCG. I am not aware of anything new he and the LCG leadership have done on this issue. These factors do not justify Ratzmann in any way but his life story does expose a severe problem facing LCG members. This article discusses the unique problems that singles faced in the old WCG. LCG is far smaller, it is not an expanding church, and there are only 7000 members worldwide, and most of them are getting older. Meredith desperately needs to address this issue and loosen this tradition. Instead of confronting this issue he chooses to focus on the old Armstrongite teachings that 'Satan is getting ready to pour his wrath upon us, that's why this happened. We must look at the big picture (My paraphrase)'. Presumably he means the 'soon coming' Great Tribulation. In their Bible Study Course, Lesson 2, Part 2, p. 7 (December 2000) they 'suggest' that 'the end' will occur in 2017, just 12 years in the future from here. If it is Satan's fault then LCG cannot be blamed. I hope he is trying to confront this issue, ideally by letting members marry more widely, but I am unaware of any such moves, beyond staging singles events. He admits that he will make some changes in the interview with The Journal if memory serves correctly but he does not directly address any specific issue.

The resources on this tragedy are too numerous and varied to be discussed here.

After discussing the tragedy Cartwright and Meredith discuss how a New Zealand LCG member was last year threatened with disfellowshipment for distributing The Journal, which caused him to stop attending. Meredith replies that LCG has no policy on this matter.

June 14: John Ogwyn, author of LCG's Bible Study Course and some of their booklets, dies. A tribute to him may be seen in p. 3 of July-August 2005 Lving Church News and his obituary is also shown on p. 27. The Journal also mentioned his death.

June 30: Spanky’s “Canons of Evangelistic Discipline of the Living Church of God”.

Douglas Winnail ordained as Evangelist (September 29 update).

News and Prophecy section added to weekly updates (December 1 update). In Meredith's interview with The Journal he say 'we only preach on prophecy in church about once every two or three months, so we're not harping on prophecy to the brethren' and yet here in every weekly update, every seven days, they provide news stories made to tell members that the end is nigh.

Ernest Owino, a minister in Kenya, defects to Dave Pack's RCG.

2006: LCG rocked by schisms as Mark Mendiola, a Tomorrow's World writer, and Syd Hull, head of LCG in South Africa, leave for Dave Pack's RCG. (For Mark Mendiola see September 12, 2006 here, for Syd Hull see October 29, 2006 here and this Ambassador Watch post). Syd Hull also marked Bob Theil. XCG provides an intriguing analysis of Syd Hull's resignation letter.

December: Meredith expels Charles Bryce from LCG. Ambassador Watch covers this story, with Meredith's initial letter (December 4) which states that Charles Bryce and his son-in-law Larry Solomon have defected. Charles Bryce's responded that he was simply discussing some issues amicably and suddenly Meredith has turned on him and fired them thus they did not defect. Meredith responds that Bryce did not want to go to Headquarters when he was directed to do so. This split clearly caused LCG some consternation. Douglas Winnail insisted it was all Bryce's fault, saying that he had refused to discuss these issues with Headquarters. Bryce later sets up his own church, Enduring Church of God. Bob Thiel, a LCG member, covers this event here from 12/05/06 onwards.

Perhaps here is a good place to relate how Meredith and Co. treat those ministers who decide to leave. As far as I understand it when a minister is disfollowshiped any sermons that LCG has are to be taken out of circulation so the members cannot listen to them, they are deleted from the website, church members are forbidden to listen to the sermons the disfollowshiped made while in LCG and their names are erased from the Tomorrow's World Magazine Archives. Not only is this information control I feel it is very petulant on the LCG leadership's part. If one should look at the Tomorrow's World Magazine Archive for 2001 the reader will notice that the March-April issue's cover is missing. That featured a cover story by Fred Dattolo who soon left for PCG. If you look at the archive for 2004 you will that the January-February issue's cover is missing. It showed a cover story written by the disfellowshiped Charles Bryce. The powers that be seem to be particularly angry at him as the PDF file is gone, so there is absolutely no way for an unsuspecting reader to see his name mentioned there. Unsuspecting readers will also be unaware that Mark Mendiola wrote many articles for Tomorrow's World in the first years, but his HTML articles are now deleted. They can still be read in the PDF but obviously Meredith doesn't mind if they are not seen. This is also the same with Raymond McNair's article in 2002.

2007: Living University (LU) established. In his February 13, 2007 Co-worker Letter he announces its formation and promises that it will provide accredited degrees. As far as I am aware of LU is not yet accredited. Bob Thiel discusses its formation here. Ambassador Watch discussed the problems LU will face in gaining creditability and questions if LCG will have the resources to be able to run it. Its original logo was scraped. Technical problems occurred when LU was supposed to start. Winnail blamed the Devil.

Meredith's Co-worker letter also discusses the introduction of Wallace Smith and Rod King onto the Tomorrow's World telecast.

Former Evangelist Syd Hull and former Tomorrow's World writer Mark Mendiola both defect from Dave Pack's RCG. For Mark Mendiola's defection see the July 7, 2007 update. He went to Don Billingsley's COG-Faithful Flock. Syd Hull defects to Charles Bryce's Enduring Church of God.

November4: Ernest Owino dies (See November 7, 2007 update and further).

2008: June 12: Meredith petulantly marks Fred Coulter again. I am not trying to promote Fred Coulter.

July: Elder Dana Glatz in Montana leaves.

September: John Meakin join LCG from David Hulme's COG-AIC and Syd Hull rejoins as a lowly member.

Meredith suffers stroke in the evening of September 19. (Gavin Rumney, 'Meredith Stroke', Ambassador Watch). On September 23 he appoints Richard Ames as acting CEO (Gavin Rumney, 'Ames at the Reins', Ambassador Watch, September 24, 2008).

October 11: Raymond McNair dies.

2009: A new set is created for the Tomorrow's World telecast. This is commented on by Tomorrow's World presenter Wallace Smith and by Gavin Rumney.

Meredith continues to try and lure new members, he gets them scared about an apocalyptic future even though HWA and Co. have produced more than 200 false prophecies as the non-Christian Painful Truth website shows clearly. He then tells them they should pay back for all the free literature the unsuspecting reader is given by tithing, neglecting to tell them that three tithes are expected from the convert until he or she is securely in their grasp and brainwashed. He has lived like this since his ordination back in 1952, 55 long years ago. He keeps telling us that we need to repent, he makes us feel guilty, hoping that we will accept him as the man closest to God and give our loyalty to him as such. Meredith keeps telling us we need to repent. The truth is Meredith must repent. He must repent of spreading fear-inducing and financially-exploiting doctrines that are causing untold misery and anxiety for his long abused and deceived flock, and for those who love them. He does not have much time left. Meredith needs to renounce Armstrongism now.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment