Friday, January 1, 2010

Gerald Flurry: A Biographical Sketch--Part 2: Founding of PCG

Previously we saw Gerald Flurry's early life, from a dysfunctional family in Oklahoma, how he became converted to Armstrongism and became a minister of WCG. However with Tkach beginning to change some of the doctrines of WCG tension is building between Gerald Flurry's desire for things to stay the same and the beginning of the changes.

Gerald Flurry had just confided to his son, Stephen, around February, 1989, first voicing his disquiet over the Tkach regime.

We now continue.

Gerald Flurry in some writings suggests that he began writing Malachi's Message on March 11. He does this in order to place this event within an alledgedly Biblical pattern.

Here's one example of this myth he has developed.

"Mr. Armstrong died on January 16, 1986. After 1150 days, or around March 11, 1989 (probably that exact day), God began revealing to me the truths contained in the book Malachi's Message." (Gerald Flurry, 'James, Part 6: Elijah's Prayer,' Royal Vision, January-February, 2006, p. 38, PDF p. 40.)

It is clear here that he is uncertain that he actually did start writing at that time. This was the beginning of what would later be entitled Malachi's Message. (It is to be noted that this places the beginning of Flurry's writing of Malachi's Message after Jules Dervaes completed the Letter to Laodicea, which was completed in January 1989.)

The authorship of Malachi's Message is described in the following manner in Stephen Flurry's Raising the Ruins.

"For four months [since July 14, the unspoken implication is that it is supposed to have started on March 11], my dad had been working on his paper, telling no one about it. He occasionally worked on it at home in his office, but that was inconvenient and nerve-wracking with my mom around. His favorite workplace was a vacant building in Enid, Oklahoma, where he pastored a small second congregation of about 100 people. The church area rented a room in a vacant building for services and Bible studies and the owner liked the congregation so much, he just gave my dad a key and said he could use it whenever he wanted. Thoreau had Walden Pond—my dad had a remote second office in a small Oklahoma town. He may have looked funny hauling a typewriter in and out of that vacant meeting hall, but it worked well for him. He wrote the bulk of his manuscript at that secluded location, about an hour and a half from home." (Stephen Flurry, Raising the Ruins, Chapter 13.)

When Stephen Flurry returned home Gerald Flurry introduced Malachi's Message to him for his feedback. Stephen Flurry came home on July 14. Gerald Flurry showed him the unfinished manuscript but the younger Flurry did not read it until two days later on July 16.

Gerald Flurry has since used this date and has claimed that it follows some sort of alledgedly Biblical pattern.

"Finally, MY SON READ THE ROUGH DRAFT OF MALACHI'S MASSAGE ON SUNDAY, JULY 16, 1989--EXACTLY 3½ YEARS AFTER MR. ARMSTRONG DIED! (January-February, 2006, Royal Vision, p. 38, PDF p. 40.)"

It needs to be noted here that once again, just like Flurry's January 16 doctrine, Gerald Flurry is using the "pagan," "Roman," "Papal" Gregorian Calendar to produce this highly artificial chronological and numerical pattern. He is not using "God's Sacred Calendar" which "Elijah" (HWA) supposedly restored to "God's Church."

The younger Flurry records his father's reaction to his son's reading of the clandestine manuscript: "As I read, I could tell my dad was anxiously awaiting any kind of feedback. He was very fidgety—constantly in and out of the cabin, trying to “keep busy” while I took the time to read." Stephen Flurry records that he found it inspiring and states that it seemed to ring true. (Stephen Flurry, Raising the Ruins, Chapter 13.)

An alternative account of this happening is presented by Exit and Support Network. In this remarkable testimony it is related that Stephen Flurry told these now ex-PCG members that "His dad stood and watched over his shoulder while he read it, waiting for a reaction. Stephen said his initial thought was that his dad was crazy. He said his dad kept asking him what he thought." (Emphasis mine.) Not surprisingly that particular negative impression is not stated in Raising the Ruins.

It is related that Gerald Flurry planned to unveil Malachi's Message to the public in January 1991. He wished to do this in order to make this event align itself with HWA's 19 year time cycles which date from the first regular broadcast of HWA's radio program in January 1934. This time cycle theory was responsible for HWA's infamous false prophesy that Christ would return in 1975.

November 5: Gerald Flurry meets with John Amos, his assistant pastor, Don Avilez, Stewart Powell and Dan Elliot where he shows Malachi's Massage to them.

(John Amos' 1981 photo may be seen at the Painful Truth's Hall of Shame.)

Early December: A follow up meeting with those men is held. Don Avilez criticize Flurry's criticism of Pastor General Tkach. Flurry then asks them to return their copies of the unfinished manuscript of Malachi's Message. Later Avilez relates this incident to Arnauld Clauson who then relates this information to Tkach Jr.

December 7: Gerald Flurry and John Amos are summoned to a meeting with Tkach Jr. After a long and heated meeting Tkach Jr. fires and disfellowships Flurry and Amos. Around this time Flurry's daughter, Laura, quits her job at the Church Administration.

Laura returns to Edmond via plane, while Gerald Flurry drives home, returning on Sunday, December 10.

Following this expulsion their own organization soon begins to be formed.

(It is to be noted that in Raising the Ruins the role of Tkach Sr. in the "Apostasy/Transformation" of WCG is deemphasized by implying that he was merely a puppet, the implication being that Tkach Jr. was the true mastermind of the Changes. This is done to obscure the fact that originally Gerald Flurry identified Tkach Sr. as the "Man of Sin" who would live to see Christ return. But this was changed to Tkach Jr. following Tkach Sr.'s death in 1995. I had earlier addressed this topic here.)

December 16: The first service of the Philadelphia Church of God is held with twelve persons. In Armstrongite numerology twelve represents the beginning of organization.

December 20: The Philadelphia Church of God is officially incorporated by Gerald Flurry with help from Tim Thompson.

PCG Information provides some intriguing information concerning how PCG gained its name:

"Gerald Flurry has preached how God preserved the name "Philadelphia Church of God" just for use by the PCG today. This idea also came from someone else, Colin Sutcliffe, and is in fact not true. The name "Philadelphia Church of God" was in use by a local Edmond church, from which Gerald Flurry had to obtain permission to use. There is a legal document in the Edmond Court House (?) granting this permission, and the story can be verified by contacting Mr. Fred Elliott or Mr. Don Marshall (he may even have a copy of the document). Please write me for contact information. There is also a Philadelphia Church of God located in Safford, Arizona; and another one in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania." (Revelations?)

Malachi's Message is rapidly finished at this time.

1990: Malachi's Massage is published.

January 10: 921 copies of Malachi's Message are packaged at the home of Tim Thompson. The next day, Thursday, January 11, they are mailed out at the post office.

Around this time Gerald Flurry tries to bestow some sort of numerical pattern upon this pivotal event for his organization. His previous attempt, waiting to unveil Malachi's Message in January 1991 had failed. Now PCG latched upon the connection of the anniversary of HWA's death on January 16. Curiously PCG used the Roman calendar to hallow the anniversary of HWA's death rather then using "God's Sacred Calendar" which they hold is the true, divinely sanctioned way to measure time. More discussion on the peculiarities this doctrine poses for Armstrongism may be seen in this previous post.

January 16: Another notable event on this day was that Stephen Flurry is baptized into PCG. Stephen Flurry was baptized on the anniversary of HWA's death at his own suggestion. His father bestowed a significance to this date using his son's baptism. This is taken as (generally) the cut off point for the legitimacy of baptism within WCG. Anyone baptized into WCG after this date are regarded, in general, by PCG as having been baptized in the Laodicean church and therefore must be rebaptized into PCG. Those baptized into WCG before this day are not required to be rebaptized for PCG. (See p. 41, PDF p. 43, of the January-February, 2006 Royal Vision which is quoted in January 16th, PCG Information. Also see Pastor General's Report, November 12, 2006, cited as Document 3 in Examples of a Tightly Controled System (Philadelphia Church of God). Note that this PGR is not in PCG Information's archive.)

According to information published by Exit and Support Network the early core of the PCG ministry were composed of the following: John Amos, Tim Thompson, Vyron Wilkins [his story, from his daughter, may be read here], Dennis Leap, Frank Garcia, Wilber Malone and Don Marshall (who would soon leave). Others who soon joined afterward were Jim Mortenson, Don Roth and Winston Davis.

September: PCG gains its first mention in Mr. John Trechak's Ambassador Report #45:
The ministries that have openly criticized Tkach for deviating from HWA's teachings and then lying about it include:...The Philadelphia Trumpet (Gerald R. Flurry and John R. Amos, two ministers who recently exited the WCG and distribute Flurry's 83-page book Malachi's Message, a scripturally based critique of corruption at WCG headquarters), P.O. Box 1787, Edmond, OK 73083-1787. Ironically, while none of these four ministries seem to subject their followers to fear tactics, claims of extravagant spiritual rewards, or totalitarian yokes of bondage, such descriptions do perfectly fit the WCG!
Alas this rather benign portrayal of PCG would soon turn out to be quite mistaken.

1991: January: Ambassador Report #46 relates Colin Sutcliff's defection to PCG.

With Tkach changing so many WCG doctrines, it is not surprising that there are more and more reports of groups of members and some ministers leaving the WCG. The latest minister to make his exit is Mr. Colin Sutcliff of Christchurch, New Zealand. Sutcliff, who is the father-in-law of WCG broadcaster David Hulme, reportedly left with about 40 members to align with Gerald Flurry's breakaway church in Oklahoma. He will not be the last WCG minister to exit because of Tkach.

In page 3 of the February issue of the Philadelphia Trumpet Gerald Flurry writes that the Little Book of Revelation 10 is the Bible. That would soon be changed. This is very significant, as this is proof that Gerald Flurry had not yet settled on teaching Malachi's Message to be the Little Book at this time. And this is just over a year after Malachi's Message was written.

May: The following is reported on PCG at Ambasador Report here: Just how many HWA teachings have now been changed by the Tkach cabal is difficult to calculate. An article in the Nov./Dec. issue of Gerald Flurry's Philadelphia Trumpet (P.O. Box 1787, Edmond, OK 73083) reported that Tkach had already changed 26 HWA doctrines and policies. But since that article appeared, there have been more changes.

Flurry is also caught peddling a false prophecy by Mr. John Trechak:

Nevertheless, trying to predict the future is always risky business, no matter how well intentioned the prognosticator may be. For example, in the March 1991 issue of The Philadelphia Trumpet ex-WCG minister Gerald Flurry wrote that California's five year drought would continue to get worse because it is a curse from God. Quoting passages from the "sacred" writings of HWA, Flurry wrote that God has put the curse on California because in 1979 the state's attorney general brought the famous lawsuit against the WCG. (Frankly, while the sins of California might make such a punishment well deserved, it is difficult to fathom why God would curse the entire state for a lawsuit that was aimed primarily at WCG lawyer-accountant-evangelist Stanley R. Rader.) In the weeks immediately following Flurry's curse-by-drought prophecy, California had weeks of heavy rain. Although the drought is still officially on, a large area of the state (the entire central coast region), which previously had emergency conditions, now reports numerous reservoirs at 100% of capacity (Los Angeles Times, April 4, pp. A1, A3). It seems Flurry's prophetic schedule is a bit off.

If you ever hear PCG boasting of any prophetic successes it has just remember that.

The Lion has Roared (revised 1992 and 2006) is released by PCG. A critique of this booklet may be seen here.

1992: John Amos, who used to Flurry's assistant pastor, dies. (What Did John Amos Really Die of?)

And so PCG begins.

To be continued...


  1. I used to live in Enid, OK, where Mr. Flurry worked on Malachi's Message at the church's storefront meeting place.

    I worshiped with a couple of people named here. Stewart Powell (proper spelling) stayed in WCG for years, and as of a few years ago was a local pastor. But I searched the WCG/GCI site for his name just now, and didn't find his name or a congregation in the Enid area.

    Dan Elliott became a local elder, but then reportedly became divorced and left WCG completely. I'm not sure what became of him.

  2. Thanks for the info. I have now made the correction.

  3. Maybe you, or someone out there, should get in contact with them and ask them to give their account of what happened in late 1989.