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Is Ted's Fundraising Letter For Real?

Apparently, it is for real. Ted Haggard, former Colorado Springs mega New Life Church pastor with 14,000 members and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, featured in the dvd rental documentary Jesus Camp, and in The Root of All Evil, is in the news again. Haggard sent out a questionable fund raising email letter asking for money to provide two years of financial support so that he and his wife Gayle can loaf around studying psychology and counseling at the University of Phoenix. Can't Haggard take out a generous student loan to help support "the work" until the crisis is over?

As some background to the email fundraising letter, you may recall Ted made a public apology after a sex scandal forced him to resign from the church and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The WCG joined the NAE in 1977; Tkach Jr. is a board member of the NAE. (Haggard got caught having a sexual relationship with, and buying methamphetamines from, a male prostitute.)

Ted Haggard's New Life Church board released a prepared statement in November 2006 that stated: "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct." The board cited the bylaws of the megachurch and said his conduct compelled them to remove him from his job.

Pastor Haggard's former congregation has since felt the impact of the scandal. Since Ted's downfall and firing, attendance has fallen 20 percent and giving has dropped 10 percent. As a result of the decline, the church laid off 44 employees, or 12 percent of its work force.

Brady Boyd preached his third and final sermon Sunday as he auditioned to become Ted Haggard's replacement. Then more than 95% of members of New Life Church in Colorado Springs voted in a secret ballot Monday to select Boyd as the new Pastor. Brady Boyd was formerly the associate senior Pastor at mega Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. He was the only final candidate asked to try out for senior pastor.

Congregants showed an appreciation for his openness and honesty. Associate pastor Brendle said the staff likes Boyd's authenticity.

(What a pity the WCG, twenty one years after the reign of the Armstrongs, has yet to produce just one set of reformed WCG Church Association bylaws, outlining due process procedures which would justify on moral or contractual grounds the removal, selection process, and replacement of a lifetime employee Pastor.)

In the meantime, ABC affiliate KRDO in Colorado received a fundraising email from former Pastor Ted Haggard which has "raised questions about the non-profit chosen to receive his donations. The letter asks for financial support while Ted and his wife go back to school in Arizona. He suggests those wanting to donate, but need a tax write-off, should send it to Families with a Mission and lists a P.O. Box in Colorado Springs. According to the Colorado Secretary of State, Families with a Mission moved from Hawaii to Colorado in 2003, but then was dissolved for being delinquent in 2007." However, records in Hawaii do indicate the Families non-profit is in current standing in the state of Hawaii.

Ted Haggard reached an agreement with his New Life Church on a severance package which will pay him through 2007. His last reported income was $138,000, not including benefits. Haggard received a salary of $115,000 for the 10 months he worked in 2006 and an $85,000 anniversary bonus before the scandal broke, The Gazette reported. Haggard's severance package included a year's salary of $138,000, and he collects royalties on his book titles.

Records show Haggard's home, which has been up for sale, has a market value of $715,051.

According to his fundraising email, contributors to the cause can mail their checks directly to Haggard at his Scottsdale Ariz., address. But if supporters wish to make their Haggard donation tax deductible, they should make out their checks to Families With a Mission. Ted claims the Families charity will forward 90% of your money to him in Arizona and 10% will go to charitable administrative costs.

Poor Ted.

Watching the Sheep was recently interviewed on ABC's 20/20 with John Stossel regarding the lack of financial transparency among some televangelists. Some of these media ministries are much larger than the COGs of today, but nonetheless some of the same principles apply to smaller size ministries.

The ABC 20/20 segment may be viewed on the homepage.

Ministries are graded according to a set of fair, objective financial transparency criteria. Five-star ministries rated with straight "A" financial transparency ratings are listed here, while some of the ministries shamefully deserving a grade of "F" for financial transparency may be viewed here.

Currently, the Joyce Meyer ministry grossing $100,000,000 million dollars a year with $71,000,000 in assets is receiving a grade "C" rating in financial transparency from Ministry Watch. Find out why by clicking here.

According to a 2003 series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, her ministry spent $4 million from 1999 to 2003 on five Ambassador-quality homes for the Meyer family. Joyce and Dave live in a sprawling $2 million, 10,000 square-foot property with a large fountain, gazebo, private putting green, pool, poolhouse and an independently cooled garage. The Meyers bought several items held by an irrevocable trust in order to guard against financial problems in the ministry. Among them are a $500,000 lake front home on Lake of the Ozarks, a $107,000 Mercedes for Dave Meyer, and a $130,000 house for Joyce's parents.
In response to financial criticisms, Joyce Meyer Ministries have pledged to give greater transparency in financial dealings, publish annual reports, and have a Board majority at arm's length who are not relatives.

What grade would you assign your Church of God on financial transparency?

Also of note, the WCG has posted an edited video of participants
discussing the Palm Springs 2007 retreat on camera.

Philadelphia Freedom - Arbeit Macht Frei?

Philadelphia - Freedom Through "The Work"?

The Philadelphia Church of God's (PCOG) Edmond, Oklahoma headquarters may not evoke images of captivity and a world war, but the gated and locked church college compound entrances give silent pause to those who have concerns about youth, family or loved ones living under the control of televangelist Gerald Flurry.

The PCOG holds youth camps at Armstrong College during the summer trying to create positive public relations buzz in packaged news reports released to local Oklahoma news outlets. However, unfiltered reports from the direct participants of what actually has occurred at the camps have surfaced. Letters about the camps sent to ESN with a reported camp sermon tirade by Flurry may be read by clicking here. Concentration on camp sporting activities combines with mandatory bible studies, harsh discipline, and campers being closely guarded twenty four hours a day. Reports of sleep deprivation; completely exhausted youth; inadequate meals; severe dehydration, heat exhaustion; camp injuries; nonexistent, or negligent medical care; and of military boot camp type techniques used to enforce constant, severe discipline have emerged. The Edmond, OK church college camp is for those who are 13-19, whose parents are baptized members of the PCOG. Acceptance at the PCOG Youth Camp can serve as an indoctrination and recruitment tool for idealistic, religiously inclined church youth to apply to Gerald Flurry's unaccredited Armstrong College.

Other widespread concerns for family members impacted by the PCOG include no further contact orders with family, once family members are disfellowshiped by the ministry. Philadelphia church members are ordered to shun any contact with family members or others who have been excommunicated, or disfellowshiped for any reason, valid or not, by the minister. The slightest criticism or minor doubt expressed about Malachi's Message, purportedly written by "That Prophet" Flurry as the "little book" referred to in Rev. 10, is strictly verboten upon pain of disfellowshipment. Philadelphia church members are only allowed PCOG approved reviews of Malach's Message, Raising the Ruins, Mystery of the Ages, and other such church writings at such booksellers as if they wish to remain a member of the church. Nor are PCOG family members who are outsiders allowed to post uncensored reviews of PCOG literature or risk disfellowshipment and permanently losing contact with their own family loyal to Flurry. Personal letters of PCOG family members directly impacted and hurt by PCOG's no family contact policy or otherwise may be found at ESN here.

It is becoming increasing difficult to find out exactly what members are being told in the church about the last hour of the upcoming prophesied "end time". Lengthy, blaming, emotionally draining, doctrinally explicit, shouting sermons from Flurry are deemed to be much too strong for the public to stomach. As soon as Flurry's sermon cds are played in congregations, they are to be immediately destroyed. Sermon tape libraries have also been eliminated. (PGR 2005-12-10, pg. 3-5) No recordings are to be made available, or allowed, to set the record straight. What has Flurry got to hide by having his own sermons destroyed?

After purchasing the rights to Mystery of the Ages from Joe Tkach Jr. (including the rights to 19 additional WCG titles) PCOG tithe and contribution income did not surge forward as Flurry expected. Nevertheless, how is all that incoming church tithe money going to be spent? For starters, construction of new, luxury homes for his loyalist inner circle; a two story administration building; followed by an imitation Ambassador Auditorium for the arts. Flurry said about the tithe money expended for homes being built:

"I'll tell you something that, well I just want you to know the truth, what's happening, but we, we are in good financial standing right now. In 2003, this stunned me a little bit, we actually decreased in members by six percent. Six percent from 2002. ... When you think about that six percent decrease, brethren, and really it happened the year we finally won the court case ... it certainly has the stench of spiritual death. ... What about the six percent decrease in the members - what does that mean? ... What is going to happen to those people? ... It is about spiritual death. ... Six percent of God's family just died or are dying." [G.F. sermon, That Prophet, 2/7/04, tape1:side2]

"In 2003 we had a six percent decrease in members." [G.F. sermon, Spiritual Revolution, 4/17/04, side2]

Contributions after purchasing Mystery of the Ages from Tkach for three million dollars were not what was expected, in the following Flurry quote:

"Now in January 2003 we received $45,000 less income than we received in January 2002. Now again, brethren, I know we're turning it around, but I want to be very cautious and I certainly want to sacrifice for the work as much as I can. And they were about to start building my home, and I've just decided, well I'm going to put that on hold until after the holy days ... [G.F.
sermon, That Prophet, 2/7/04, tape1:side2
]-- we know one PCG member who lost her home trying to 'sacrifice for the work.' PCG members ought to visit Imperial College and see the beautiful homes being built for the PCG ministry inner circle."

Although the PCG instructs its members to pay third tithe (RV July/August 2004, pg. 28), a member who was seeking third tithe assistance was recently told "the church has discontinued that program." How so? An article in the church magazine "Is Having Insurance a Lack of Faith" (Royal Vision, July-August 2004, p. 28), subheading "God’s Insurance System" after quoting Deut. 14:8-29, states:

"In the Church of God, this is commonly known as the third tithe. Third tithe is a pool of funds that Church members pay into. It is essentially the Church’s insurance program for the widows and the fatherless...If the head of a household dies prematurely, his family may face economic hardship unless some sort of financial provision has been previously made. In this case,the third tithe is there as an insurance program to help the widows and the fatherless."

Checking with the Oklahoma department of Insurance, two Philadelphia named insurance companies licensed to do business in Oklahoma were located, but no such Philadelphia insurance company was found based in Edmond, OK. Any church member paying out of their current income, life savings, retirement funds, or probated estate in premiums to Flurry’s version of "God’s Insurance System" to provide for their loved ones, should they unfortunately predecease their spouses, may well be leaving their families financially destitute. Flurry may not have to live up to his part of the insurance bargain as advertised. Perhaps the anti-fraud unit of the Oklahoma Insurance Department might be interested in hearing more about "God’s Insurance System".

The numbers Flurry provides in his PG reports for are United States PCOG income. How is Flurry "tithe farming" going in Canada? Ambassador Reports has produced a unique accounting spreadsheet for the PCOG, which should prove to be of interest to the readers of Ambassador Reports, based on PCOG charitable reporting to Canadian Revenue.

The total contribution for PCOG Canada average is $1.39 million annually 2000-2005, per year. Refer to the spreadsheet for the actual income and expense reported. For those five reporting years only, that’s a total of $8,348,105 in tithes and contributions from Canada, as reported to Canada Revenue.

Of interest in the Canadian report is the amount of $215,258 due from directors, employees, individuals, and organizations not at arm’s length - in other words, unnamed PCOG insiders. While this could simply represent a legitimate loan from the Canadian PCOG to the parent corporation in Edmond, it does not specify who or what organization owed the money to the Canadian PCOG and for what reason.

Similarly, an amount of $46,779 was owed by the Canadian PCOG in 2005 to unnamed persons or organizations not at arm’s length with the Canadian PCOG.

Directors of the Canadian PCOG in 2005 who were reported not to be at arm’s length are also listed in the financial report.

Finding out how much the Philadephia church collects annually is estimated using the available Pastor General reports. Philadelphia Church of God tithe income averages in the twelve million dollar a year range annually 2003 through 2005. Prophecy does pay! A bar chart illustrates the major grouping of some reported expenses for 2005, the latest year Flurry disclosed PCOG-U.S. expenses. But no personal salaries, ministerial liability insurance, or employee benefit costs were specifically listed by "That Prophet".

Where is the most of the money reportedly going? Not for a personal, custom-fitted corporate business jet. At least not yet. The single largest grouped component of the 2005 budget is media broadcasting at $4,109,937. A quick tally of the latest Flurrycast schedule shows 183 local TV broadcast nationwide in the U.S.; and one local station in Vancouver, Canada. WGN and other satellite feeds overlap some international areas outside the continental U.S. Early Friday and Sunday mornings are the favored days and times for purchase. No lack of Flurry on the air, but is anyone watching "That Prophet?" -click-

View additional PCOG financials on "That Prophet" developed at the following Ambassador Reports link:

Philadelphia Church of God Financial Data

Packing In Those Canadian Tithe Dollars

Just what is David Pack's RCG doing in Canada?

David C. Pack, former Worldwide Church of God minister, affectionately known by many as the 'Packatollah', founded and operates a new kind of triple-tithe Worldwide Church of God based on cloning the old one- his very own Restored Church of God (RCG) knockoff brand from the Radio Church of God 'original'.

After parting ways with Rod Meredith, Pack incorporated his own RCG in Ohio on June 15, 1999. RCG headquarters is now located in leased office space at One Park Center Drive, Suite 209 in Wadsworth, OH. Pack appointed an initial board of three members consisting of himself as president, along with William P. Ambrose and John B. Holcomb as directors.

Pack then incorporated the RCG in Canada on December 23, 1999 with an initial address of 1006 East-West Line RR#2, Niagara-On-The-Lake Ontario, Canada. Besides himself, Pack appointed two others to serve for his Canadian board of directors.

Just how has Pack been doing since then? Financially, that is. The Canada Revenue Agency provided us with a peek inside the financial back office of RCG's Canadian church operation. Ambassador Reports has reviewed the last five years of financial reporting RCG has sent to the Canadian government, compiling a convenient summary of it for the first time on the Internet exclusively for Ambassador Reports readers to review. Here is the page link for viewing it (click on the following): RCG Canadian Financial Data, 2000-2005

As you can tell from the income section of the above website link, tithes and donations have increased in Canada from $76,976 (beginning in 2000) to $189,246 for fiscal year 2005. That makes for a grand total catch of $836,392 through 2005 in tithes and donations. It more than likely by now has exceeded past the million dollar mark on the RCG Canada donation 'thermometer'. Of course, the Ambassador Reports financial summary here represents just one Canadian slice of the total RCG donation 'pie'. It does not cover any tithes and contributions to RCG originating from inside the United States, which would be materially significant in amount by comparison.

What does the RCG say what is done with tithes and offerings donated in Canada?

"The Church prints, publishes and distributes materials regarding the church's beliefs and practises [sic] to various locations worldwide. In order to send materials to locations outside of Canada, the church employs the services of the Restored Church of God (Ohio), on behalf of the church, prints, publishes and distributes the church's materials." Source: 2000 CRA report (emphasis mine).

The 2005 RCG report mentions Canadians do get the service of one local ordained elder in Canada to serve the spiritual needs of Canadians who is "without remunerations", that is, serving without any pay.

The RCG also claims in the 2005 report that 85 cents out of a dollar donated goes to religious publishing and broadcasting, and about 15 cents out of a dollar goes to the support of local congregations.

RCG Canada, with only minimal assets listed on its balance sheet, is taking on the characteristic of a shell corporation. In compiling this financial summary, it appears the majority of the Canadian money donated is moved out of Canada and spent as the Restored Church of God packs those Canadian tithe dollars into its Wadsworth, Ohio coffers.

What does the RCG say about why it collects a third tithe? In an article on tithing, it states "Notice the phrases “the third year” and “the year of tithing.” The third year refers to the third and the sixth year in a seven-year cycle. The seventh year in this cycle is called “the year of release.” Every third year of seven during a Christian’s life, he is to pay an additional third tithe. This is called the year of tithing because this is the maximum number of tithes a person is commanded to pay."

For exactly what intended purpose does the RCG give for collecting this third tithe? It says further in the tithing article:

"Third tithe is used to support the needy within the Church—those unable to support themselves. This is a special tithe, in that it is God’s “insurance plan” for those less fortunate. This can be a child who has lost his father, a woman who has lost her husband or any person who has temporarily lost a primary source of income."

Helping those are less fortunate in life by collecting a mandatory third tithe might possibly be an admirable pursuit for the charitable purposes of a church. However, there is absolutely no evidence in these financial reports sent to the Canadian government of third tithe being set aside in a restricted fund or actually being kept in a separate bank account for the specific intended charitable purpose of helping the less fortunate. This is the way it legally should be held in trust to prevent mixing, or commingling of third tithe with general funds collected for other intended purposes, say for erecting a headquarters building or building an unaccredited school of liberal arts and theology. So for what is the third tithe money being collected actually being spent for by the RCG anyway? Jet travels to Petra, maybe?

Any legitimate church, which demands payments of: a 10% first tithe, excess second tithe, an extreme third tithe from donors in addition to first tithe, special offerings, a tithe of the second tithe, and firstfruits should to be asked to account for how every penny of third tithe was actually spent. Donors are being placed in the highly uncomfortable position of not knowing if it is actually being used for the specifically intended charitable purpose of helping widows, orphans, and the destitute as promised, or for less than honorable reasons.

Link: RCG Canadian Financial Data, 2000-2005

Tkach's Tithing Tactic - 2007

Is tithing voluntary in the Worldwide Church of God for pastors?

Quoting chapter and verse from the currently-in-force "WCG Administrative Manual", section 6375 (June 2007 version, source below):

"Pastors should teach that financial
giving is an aspect of worship. As teachers, pastors
should be generous stewards (it is the policy of the
WCG that all employed pastors tithe their income;
bivocational pastors are expected to be generous
donors in accordance with their income levels)."

It would be interesting to see what New Testament scriptural support, if any, Tkach claims for his policy of requiring WCG pastors to tithe on their paychecks.

Since tithing on their paycheck is required of WCG pastors, just exactly how would Tkach know his pastors were tithing, without doing a tithe check on the entire ministry? Does he run periodic tithe checks on the ministry to determine compliance with his tithing policy? On the HQ employees? And how would the the ministry know if the Tkachs themselves were tithing, without knowing the amount of secret salary the WCG pays to the Tkachs? Would WCG pastors check out the private donation records of their members to determine who is actually donating the most (or least?) in their congregation and district?

Herbert Armstrong repeatedly said, "Tithing pays off!" He also claimed, "This Is the Life!-Real Abundant Living!" True, as a means of financing WCG government, it really does pay off.

Perhaps this is why the current Pastor General Tkach believes in pastors tithing so much as an official WCG church policy. He has his pastors tithe on their own monetary income to HQ, to set such a high standard of giving for their congregations. Perhaps someday the Tkachs will become accountable on the WCG's complete lack of HQ financial reporting to it's constituent congregations. It would also be interesting to let Worldwiders know if tithing on pastoral incomes to the WCG HQ has played a key role in ending their HQ financial worries.

Your valued comments on are appreciated and may even be posted anonymously should you desire anonymity. ;)


Source: Chapter Six - WCG Administrative Manual