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Armstrong's Empire Exposed

Ted's Feast in 1978!

                       THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE

                    Herbert Armstrong's Empire Exposed

                                    by

                                 John Tuit
                            (Published in 1981)



TED'S FEAST!


     WHILE THE LEADERS OF THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD were
fighting to patch up the crumbling financial foundation, and to
discredit Garner Ted Armstrong in order to prevent him from
drawing away tithe-paying members, the Church of God
International was getting off to a very good start. Garner Ted,
once heard on hundreds of radio and TV stations with his
commanding voice and rapid fire delivery, was starting over on
just one station. Where at one time his broadcasts were produced
in the most modern studios that excelled even commercial
operations, he was now recording his first programs in a small
commercial studio in Tyler, Texas, which operated out of a
converted garage. The first broadcast was heard on July 27, 1978
over WOAI in San Antonio, Texas, a clear-channel, 50,000-watt
station.
     Soon after, in early August, the Church of God International
began holding services in Tyler, Texas in a rented hall. The
Church offices were initially located in a spare room in Garner
Ted's newly purchased ranch home just outside of Tyler. It wasn't
long before the mail started coming in. Many of the envelopes
contained financial donations. By early September, the CGI was
located in rented offices and already had a staff of five
employees. Plans were already being made to hold the Feast of
Tabernacles and soon arrangements were made to rent the
Convention Hall at Jekyll Island, Georgia. For approximately
fifteen years the Worldwide Church had held the Feast at Jekyll
Island, and in 1978 decided to move to a large hall in Savannah
and drop the Jekyll Island site. With only one congregation
meeting in Tyler, and a small radio ministry going, Garner Ted
had absolutely no idea how many would show up at Jekyll Island.
Paula and I decided to attend, and made reservations at an
apartment-style resort hotel, the Sand Dollar. Ron Quinlan also
decided to attend, and as it turned out we would be the only ones
from the entire New York metropolitan area.
     Gordon Muir, still on the Quest payroll, although without
any job, was watching the entire situation but didn't know what
he would do. I told him, "I believe that Ted is going to get the
work done. I believe that he is sincere and that this thing is
really going to take off. Why don't you come to the Feast with us
at Jekyll?" Gordon wasn't about to make any hasty decisions. He
said, "I think Armstrongism has had it. The Worldwide Church is
run by evil men and it appears that Herbert Armstrong is totally
corrupt. I certainly can't have any part of that and I'm trying
to find a job so that I can get out from under this whole thing,
If Stan hadn't just thrown me out for no reason as he did, I
would even feel guilty taking the pay checks. I may go back to
England and resume practicing medicine. I just don't know. But
I'll tell you one thing. I'm not about to get wrapped up in this
thing with Ted. You know the problems of his past, that's going
to haunt him and the Scriptures say that a minister must be of
good report, and John, Ted is not of good report. I'm just not
about to swap one Armstrong for another."
     This type of discussion went on for weeks on various phone
calls and I constantly tried to convince Gordon that I thought
that Garner Ted had fully repented of any past wrongdoings and
that God had actually set him free in a strange way from the
Worldwide Church. I was convinced that Garner Ted was doing the
right thing. Paula had a more neutral attitude, but certainly
wanted to look into it further, to see if this was where God
would be working. Ministers in the Worldwide Church were telling
their members that what they called "Ted's Feast" was going to be
a disaster and the whole thing would fall on its face. Anyone to
get involved with Garner Ted, they said, would only find
themselves out in the cold later when the CGI collapsed.
Our entire family looked forward to the Feast at Jekyll. On
October 14th, we piled the four kids into our station wagon and
headed south. Late the next day we arrived at beautiful Jekyll
Island. Having spent previous Feasts at Mount Pocono,
Pennsylvania, during the time of year when the air was getting
chilly and the leaves beginning to turn brilliant colors, this
was quite a contrast. Warm weather, a beautiful ocean, and palm
trees and other tropical plants, all contributed to the
excitement of attending this first Feast of the Church of God
International.
     By the time of the Feast Garner Ted had expanded out to
broadcast on twelve stations. Everyone was excited about the
rapid progress being made. Surprisingly, Gordon Muir and his wife
Diana decided to attend at Jekyll also. As Gordon said, "I
decided to come down and see what's going on. I have to see for
myself. Maybe this is it after all. I'll probably be fired as
soon as Stan finds out that I've been here, but I don't care."
     There were 520 people in attendance at this first Feast of
the CGI, and, incredibly, they were from all over the world.
There were people from Canada, Australia, France, and just about
every state. There were many people who in their long drive to
Jekyll Island had actually driven through as many as three
locations where the Worldwide Church of God was holding their
Feast. Obviously these people were committed to make the break
from the Worldwide Church of God. That attitude was quite well
expressed by a man from Tennessee who was staying in an apartment
near ours. He said, "Yes sir, these are the thinking people down
here. They've had enough of old Herbert. One thing old Ted had
better realize, we ain't going to follow him either if he tries
to pull any fast ones on us. Yep, we're the ones who won't follow
a leader blindly ever again. If Ted does right, God's going to
use him mightily. If he goes wrong, he better realize that the
people who are here just ain't going to put up with it."

     Of course I hoped that Garner Ted was sincere. I believed
that he was, but at this point there was no way one could really
be sure. As the Bible says, "By their fruits you shall know
them". It was much too early to see what kind of fruit would be
born as a result of these fledgling efforts. Time would tell, and
we certainly had to give it a chance and see what would happen.
It was an exciting Feast and everyone seemed to feel the almost
electrifying atmosphere of a new, vibrant spirit. The sermons of
Garner Ted and Ron Dart, a former evangelist with the Worldwide
Church of God all served to inspire us to pull together to do the
work of Jesus Christ. There was to be no autocratic leadership,
they said. The harsh rule and the dictatorial Church government
were all things of the past. They were not scriptural, we were
told. Of course, those of us who were there knew that and it was
good to hear that the leadership of the CGI planned to break out
of that mold. Was this genuine? Was this spiritual high that we
were on for a week for real, or were we just caught up in the
flash of being part of something new? Time would tell.

     During all the time of the Feast, the conduct of the
Worldwide Church of God leadership was anything but Christian.
Since it was customary to take offerings at the Feast on the
first and last days which are holy days, it was necessary to open
a local bank account. What Garner Ted did not realize until
almost the last minute was the fact that his father and Rader had
registered the name of the Church of God International in the
State of Georgia when they found out that the CGI was going to
hold the Feast at Jekyll Island. There was even a question as to
whether or not the signature on the registration papers was truly
that of Herbert Armstrong. Herbert Armstrong, the man who said
that competition was the way of Satan, was engaging in a type of
competitive practice worthy of the most unscrupulous businessmen.
This entire maneuver was viewed as a blatant attempt to seize the
funds that would be deposited by the CGI in its bank account. The
conduct of the Worldwide Church was more in line with that of
organized crime than that of a church.

     The entire attempt was outsmarted very simply. The CGI
opened its bank account in the name of the "Church of God
International (a Texas non-porfit corporation)."

     Each day at the convention center, while CGI services were
in progress, the Rader operatives were busy in the parking lot.
The Worldwide Church had to know who the traitors were in order
that they could be purged out from among "God's faithful people."
License plates were photographed in order to aid in identifying
those who were rebelling against Herbert Armstrong. While the
Worldwide Church was playing its childish spy games, the CGI
members were laughing in ridicule about the whole foolish scheme.
The general attitude was that if they wanted to know who was
attending CGI services, there were no secrets; people would be
happy to tell their names. As long as the Rader spies seemed to
enjoy their activity, we felt it would be poor sport to spoil
their fun.

     Every day there were Ambassador College students visiting at
Jekyll Island, having decided to come down from the Worldwide
Church Feast at Savannah. Even they were under close scrutiny.
One student told of overhearing a festival monitor at the motel
where he was registered, speaking to the desk clerk. "Festival
monitor" sounds like a title out of the "new-speak" vocabulary of
George Orwell's 1984. Officially their duty is to assist
Feastgoers with any problems they may have with their
accommodations. However, their true purpose was more sinister
than that. In this one instance one monitor was overheard to
instruct the desk clerk to make note of all Worldwide Church
registrants who did not return to their rooms for the evening.
Through this means, going on the assumption that anyone who did
not return to their rooms would be staying over night at Jekyll
Island, the spiritual guardians of the Worldwide Church would
know which members they were going to consign to the lake of
fire.
     In the past it had been Herbert Armstrong's policy, as well
as Garner Ted's, to speak at each Feast site throughout the
United States, which meant about twelve speaking engagements in
the course of eight days. In 1977, the father was unable to
conduct his speaking tour due to his illness. This year, he was
back at it again, alnough he was going to limit his speaking
engagements to perhaps three or four. "Garner Ted's Feast," as he
called it, could not be ignored and Armstrong felt the necessity
to speak nearby. He chose to speak at the Worldwide Church Feast
at St.Petersburg, Florida, where he announced mockingly, "My son
has his little Feast going on up there at Jekyll Island and he
has only 17 people, that's all he has." From the reports of those
who heard Armstrong make this statement, it was felt that he
actually believed that what he was saying was actually true. It
appeared to many that he was becoming senile as had so often been
reported.
     Many who attended the Feast at St.Petersburg upon hearing
such a statement from Herbert Armstrong, followed by a scathing
attack of his son, made that their last day in St.Petersburg and
transferred to Jekyll Island for the balance of the week. Yet
others who continued to follow Herbert Armstrong were even more
strengthened in their resolve to remain with the Worldwide Church
of God. After all, they reasoned, if Garner Ted was so evil that
his own father would reject him in faithfulness to God, certainly
they must follow Herbert Armstrong in order to please God.
     It was obvious to any thinking person that the Worldwide
Church leadership was reacting in a paranoid way to just about
every move being made by Garner Ted. Some time prior to the
Feast, Garner Ted announced that the CGI was going to be squeaky
clean and that all financial information was going to be open,
with no secrets. He announced that the financial details of the
Church would be made public each year at the Feast, and that an
audited financial statement would be issued each year at that
time. This put the Worldwide Church on the spot, as they had not
released any financial information to the membership in several
years.

     While Garner Ted was releasing full details of the first
couple of months' operation of the fledgling Church to those
gathered at Jekyll Island, the Worldwide Church was distributing
what it called the "Treasurer's Report." This report came out in
October and was merely two pages with some graphs showing the
apportionment of income and expenses. Included was a very brief
summary showing total revenue of $67,161,300 and total expenses
of $68,420,500 leaving a deficiency of $1,259,200 for the year
1977. There was no way from this abbreviated report that one
could glean out any meaningful information other than a few grand
totals. The interesting point is that while this report covered
the period ending December 31, 1977 it was not released until
October 1978, after Garner Ted had announced to the press that
the CGI would not keep its financial affairs secret as was the
practice with the Worldwide Church. In a misleading statement
signed by Stanley Rader, the "Worldwide Church Report" said, "The
Work's financial statements are audited and certified each
calendar year by an independent firm of Certified Public
Accountants." What Rader failed to note was the name of the
accounting firm - Rader, Cornwall and Kessler, more recently
known as Cornwall, Kessler and Pallazzo. This was the firm with
which Rader had been associated for so many years. While he
claimed to have withdrawn himself from any act of participation
in the firm, the matter of independence was certainly one of
question. According to Rader's own statements, there was never
any cash consideration given him by the others for his share of
the business, and he continued to maintain an association with
Henry Cornwall in their ownership of Worldwide Advertising.

                          ......................

To be continued with "Preparing for Action"

Note:

It was the following year (1979) that I attended the CGI Feast
site in Jekyll Island, with about 2,000 people in attendance, and
for a few years our little congregation in Oshawa, Ontario (near
Toronto) associated ourselves with the CGI in Tyler, Texas. A
number of things took place for us after that period, some of
which I've mentioned in my short "Biography" on this Website.

Keith Hunt

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