CESNUR's Collection of Documents on the Schism in the Global Church of God (November 1998) and the birth of a new "Armstrongite" church, The Living Church of God. Back to Dr. Massimo Introvigne's Introduction.
Documents on the Living Church of God: Dr. Roderick C. Meredith's Letter of December 21, 1998
December 21, 1998
Dear Fellow Ministers and Hosts, Greetings from San Diego!
Things are moving along well here, but several of us now feel that I should take time to answer the 18-page attack on me sent out by Salyer and Co. So this accompanying letter is being sent to help you answer most of the basic charges made in their 18-page attack.
Obviously, it would take several days hard work and scores of pages to answer every accusation and innuendo they present. I simply do not have time for that as dozens of you are calling me and there is much to do to get things going once again. But please read the enclosed explanatory letter carefully. Use this information to help the brethren through this trying situation. And tell any of the brethren who are concerned to write us and request this letter IF they wish this full explanation. We decided NOT to send this to all of the brethren as many of you have told us that most of them did not receive this massive list of accusations. However, we will send you three hard copies of my letter by regular mail. You can give these to brethren who need this specific information. And again, ask all others to WRITE for this letter if you run out of copies. Let's all beseech God to stay the hand of Satan and guide and INSPIRE us to move forward and do the Work.
In Christian love,
Roderick C. Meredith December 21, 1998
In a very clever move to confuse and mislead God's people, the men on the "Board" of the Global Church recently sent out a MASSIVE attack against me personally. This is one of the biggest attacks and attempts at total character assassination in the modern history of God's Church! I tried to avoid mentioning names and never attempted to dredge up every real or imagined sin, improper or unwise comment taken out of context from conversations which took place months or years before, etc. But, in spite of this, these men have virtually tried to DESTROY me in their letter and are "piling on" everything against me they can possibly think of! Of course, we know that God's Word says that Satan the Devil is, "the ACCUSER of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10). Nevertheless, even though I have answered most of these charges before, several of us feel that I should "set the record straight" about these basic accusations against my honesty and integrity. Even though I indicated that I would try to "move forward" and not get bogged down answering accusations of the four men on "the Board", I now feel that I answer the massive series of accusations, insinuations and lies which they have recently sent out. Please read my answers carefully as I do hope this will be the end of that sort of thing. First of all, I did NOT "abandon the Church" by reporting to you brethren this political coup by these three men on the Board--joined later by a fourth. As some of our loyal ministers have stated, I had not only a right, but a DUTY--as Presiding Evangelist of the Church--to report to you brethren about what was happening! Next, I did NOT "steal" the mailing list. We had been previously warned--several weeks earlier--that some of these men on the Board had " fixed it" so that I couldn't use the computer list and regular mailing system. These clever men--DISLOYAL to the one Christ had used to raise up the Global Church and who even gave them their jobs--"fixed" things to PREVENT the President and Presiding Evangelist from communicating with the brethren! However, some of my loyal friends had been--absolutely unknown to me--quietly accumulating names. So we did NOT use the corporate mailing list for my original letter or any letter since, although I should have been allowed to! That is one reason many of our brethren did NOT get my original letter. Our compilation of names was very incomplete. And, again, I did have a duty and a RESPONSIBILITY to inform you brethren about what was happening in this takeover of the leadership of the Global Church of God. Perhaps these men on the Board do not realize that you brethren ARE the "Church". The Board is not the Church as the spiritual organism: you brethren are. So I was trying to communicate--Presiding Evangelist-- with the spiritual organism of the Church of God and give you an understanding of what was happening and had been happening behind my back and behind your backs for some time.
Next, in their letter, these men claim "none of us want to cut back on doing God's Work. None of us were ever convinced that we needed to cancel WGN". In fact, there were many, office who heard Mr. Edwin Pope--the Business Manager--comment again and again that he felt that we " should go off WGN" or that we "needed to go off WGN" or similar statements. Others of these men on the Board would nod and concur in that way and this went on over a period of months. Mr. Fred Dattolo, who was the Controller at Global at that time, can vouch for this, as well as the Assistant Controller, Jerry Ruddlesden. Also, Mr. Wayne Pyle, who was Director of the TV Department, Bonnie Miller who is my secretary, Sheri Bruce who was secretary to Larry Salyer, Tom Turner who was over our corporate insurance, and Elder Don Davis can all testify that such remarks were made quite a number of times. In light of that, all these people feel from their own experience that the LYING in this was not done by me but by these men! You can certainly feel free to contact any of these seven individuals who have heard these statements.
Later, their letter states, "Moreover at no time did any Council or Board member ever make any quotes or insinuations about firing Dr. Meredith". This is absolutely untrue. Definite insinuations were made along that line after my trip to Tulsa last July. My whole purpose in going to Tulsa was to encourage the brethren there that the Council and the Board had reaffirmed that I was to be a "strong leader". I went back there with that understanding--to which a number of the former Council members can testify. But when I returned, some of these dissident Board members were absolutely certain that I had called myself the primary leader, the chief pillar and statements like that to encourage the Tulsa brethren that, indeed, I was to remain a real "strong leader" which they wanted and hoped that I would be. I had felt that these men had pledged their cooperation to work together as a team with the provision that I was to be a "strong leader" of the team. Frankly, brethren, they "talked the talk" but they did NOT "walk the walk" in that way at all! Again, such dedicated, long time ministers as Mr. Dibar Apartian, Mr. Charles Bryce, John Ogwyn, Dick Ames and Carl McNair can testify to that. You need to realize that the situation had come to the point where they were wanting me to be a virtual "puppet" and do what they said. That fact they have UTTERLY FAILED to make plain in their letter. They would come to Board meetings with "pre-packaged" agreements that they had already talked about in private meetings apart from me the Board meeting would even begin. Then these things would be put forth and I was always on the defensive and was "pushed" to cooperate with them or else be the "bad guy". As I have said, I "did" cooperate with them again and again and voted for a number of changes in the By-Laws and other issues in order to preserve the UNITY in the Global Church of God. I "bent over backwards" to try to keep things together! But when it became obvious that I was either going to be put out or else become a "puppet", then I had to take a stand. The other, long time dedicated men on the Council and Board who have come with me KNOW that! They can TESTIFY to that! And there are far more of these experienced, dedicated ministers that have come with me than who have stayed with these few men on the Board. I hope that that can TELL you brethren something in spite of the clever arguments put forth by these few Board members and the young editorial guys who have helped put together this 18-page letter against me.
Later in their letter, these men allege that I agreed that the Church Government booklet was the basis for our approach to Church Government. But they FAIL to bring up the issue that I consistently referred them to the Sept/Oct. Global Church News article where I laid out the positive approach to Church Government which should have clarified the previous booklet. In this section of their letter they keep indicating that I think of myself as "God's anointed" (as though I am some "pope" or "king"). I'm sure that they know in their heart that I have NEVER tried to appropriate unto myself any such title! Rather, as they acknowledged, the term "anointed" is used for all of God's people in the Bible as well as for the two witnesses and other individuals on occasion. Certainly, anyone called of God to raise up a branch or era of God's Church is "anointed" of God if he has, indeed, been called to do this and is led by God's Spirit in doing it. They later acknowledge in their letter that God did use me to raise up the Global Church. Was I not then guided by God's Spirit to do this?
They later claim that I never agreed to the June 11 letter. This is not completely accurate. I have told them a number of times that I would try to work with this more democratic approach--for the sake of UNITY--as long as they respected me and cooperated with me as the "strong leader" in the Church. But, they did NOT honor their commitment in that regard. I could see the more democratic approach simply was not working! We were definitely having CONFUSION and the thrust of God's Work was being turned in a wrong direction.
Next, we come to the issue of the loan repayments that I attempted to make and which were blocked by these men. Incidentally, they STILL have not repaid the 74-year-old widow involved or the other people who have asked for their loans to be repaid. I would like to quote directly from a report from the Controller at that time, Mr. Fred Dattolo, who clearly explains what happened. Here is his report:
DISTORTIONS REGARDING LOAN PAYMENTS, INCLUDING THE REQUESTS SUBMITTED TO DR. MEREDITH
1. Loan payments at Global have NEVER been on a "strict" schedule and I have never "insisted" that they be on a "strict" payment schedule. The primary reason I wanted them scheduled was simply to be able to categorize the debt on an annual basis and thus fulfill accounting reporting requirements in the notes to the financial statements. For those that understand, such disclosures are stated as of December 31, and by themselves are not binding. Indeed, they can be subject to change and are required to be re-stated at the end of each year.
2. The ESTABLISHED practice and procedure FOR OVER TWO YEARS, was that those who insisted on payment in full, were ALWAYS paid in full, sometimes years in advance of the schedule, unless we could convince them to change their mind. I know of NO exceptions. This has happened many times since 1996. In the last few months alone, we have changed the schedule for about SIX lenders! The audit confirmations sent out earlier this year bear this out. In other words, these six lenders were most recently NOT paid according to the schedule we had established! Mr. Pope had changed of these payment schedules and I had not been instructed that he did not have the authority to do so!
3. For example, before the Feast of this year, Mr. Pope told me that a lender called him to ask that his loan be paid in full because he wanted to help his mother buy a house. It was a very sizeable loan. Mr. Pope verbally asked me to pay it off although it was not due to be paid until a year or two later. It was paid off. As before, I presumed he had the authority to make that decision.
4. More recently, Mr. Pope verbally asked me, that an even more sizeable loan--well into six digits--be paid in full. The schedule called for it to be paid off in three equal installments, one in 1998, one in 1999 and one in 2000. Breaking the schedule was not deemed a problem.
5. When Dr. Meredith, as CEO, presented three demand letters given to him from three lenders for loans to be paid off, paying them off was NOT inconsistent with the established practice and procedure that had been followed for more than two years. It is true, although I did not remember it at the time, that Norbert Link had some months prior, sent me an e-mail (not a memo), as I now recall, SUGGESTING that the executive committee approve loan payoffs. However, Mr. Pope or ANY superior of mine had NEVER instructed me, either verbally or in writing, that this should now be the new procedure! Since I did not report to Mr. Link, it did not register as a new policy, with me, and was forgotten. What I remembered was the procedure Mr. Pope had followed many times before.
6. It is also not true that paying these loans would have propelled Global into bankruptcy. The fall Holy Day offerings came in at well over 8% above the year before. Income for November was also about 8% higher than the previous year. Bank balances were well ahead of earlier projections. There was over $650,000 in the bank, at the time the checks were written.
7. The checks were NOT prepared with a disregard for following proper controls! There were five people involved in the transaction. Authorization, custody of checks and execution of the transaction were distinctly separate. I did not have access to the checks but asked that the backup person to the regular person access the checks. As the backup person, she had her own key to the checks. These three checks were recorded promptly in the check log and the remaining check stock was immediately locked up again.
8. I did NOT "contact a certified public accountant and an attorney to determine if such actions were illegal". If I even had doubts that it was "illegal", I would not have participated. Norbert Link, in open office space, in front of many witnesses and in a most unprofessional manner jumped to conclusions and cried "felony", "embezzlement". It was a day or two later, AFTER his remarks and after being subject to interrogation that I felt I should consult an attorney regarding his accusations, as well as my potential claims for harassment and defamation.
9. It was later determined that Dr. Meredith believed that the removal of Mr. Davis as a signatory on the bank account would not take effect until the day after the demand letters to pay off the loans were presented to him.
10. Finally, please understand THIS. The bulk of Global's funds were not kept in the bank account. They were invested in an account with a well-known securities firm, so that Global could earn over 5% interest. As needed, these funds were transferred to the bank account, always with a CHECK, drawn on the investment account. This investment account required only ONE signature, regardless of the amount. The check to transfer funds FROM the investment account TO the bank checking account, to cover the loan payments and payroll, was signed soley by Dr. Meredith. HE DID NOT NEED MR. DAVIS' SIGNATURE TO DO THIS. The point is very simple. If Dr. Meredith, or any of us, intended to"embezzle" funds, we could have written checks off the investment account, which required only ONE signature" in this case, his! Instead, we first moved the funds to the checking account--using his signature alone--and then checks were written off the checking account (two signatures required) to PAY OFF THE LOANS . At what time Mr. Davis was understood to be effectively removed as a signer on the checking account is, completely irrelevant to the charges of attempted "embezzlement" because funds could have been removed from the investment account with only Dr. Meredith's signature! It should be very clear that there was no attempted "embezzlement"! In fact, I explained this to Messrs. Link, Pope and Salyer the very same day these transactions took place!
I hope all of you brethren will carefully re-read Mr. Dattolo's report on this if any questions come to your mind later. For he knows exactly what happened and his report is specific. It is absolutely UNTRUE to try to describe me as CRIMINAL for simply trying to repay a bonafide debt. For, as President, I was authorized to do so and had every right to do so.
Later, these men say they are "baffled" by the fact that Mr. Dibar Apartian has now joined us in the Living Church of God. They try to give the impression that he was NOT supportive of me. Yet, in each of the motions of recent months he was always supportive. And in the situation involving the suspension of Dave Pack from the Council, Mr. Apartian was definitely supportive! Mr. Apartian realizes that this is where the Work is being done and is very happy to be with the Living Church of God and not with these few Board members who try to change the focus of God's Work. In their letter, they indicate that I wanted them to be a "rubber stamp" of everything I wanted. Again, our six loyal Council members who have come with the Living Church of God can testify that it was the other way around! They wanted ME to be the "puppet" and to "rubber stamp" what they had decided, They were upset that I would not always do so, even though I bent over backwards for months for the sake of unity.
Again, I APOLOGIZE to you brethren for going along with them in many of these issues for the sake of unity. I now see that was wrong and I should have acted sooner. But I wanted to avoid the kind of confrontation that we are now having, and finally it became impossible. Still later, they tried to give the impression that I had already started a competing church when I came into that final Tuesday Board meeting. This is absolutely untrue! I did NOT have a competing Church. I was hoping that these men--as I stated in my original letter--would back down, resign and leave. But because they did not, I took action. Regarding the weekend before the final Board Meeting, these men insist in their letter that I said I would do "nothing" during this time. That is totally untrue! As they peppered me with questions as the meeting was breaking up, I told them that I was going to talk it over with my advisors, that I would not start another church over the weekend, and that I "would do what I have to do"! I purposely did NOT say that I would not write a letter or do anything like that. For I had already WARNED THEM that if they kept on and on in moving forward in their total takeover of the Church and kept "tightening the screws" on my cage, then I felt DUTY BOUND to go over their heads to you brethren!
Since they brought up the Dave Pack issue, let me inform you that every single member of the Council--except Raymond McNair--voted for the suspension of Dave Pack pending an investigation to be conducted regarding his outrageous remarks to the brethren in Michigan on the Sabbath of November 7. WHY? Because his comments to dozens of the brethren there were truly reprehensible and led many of us to feel that he should be removed--not only from the Council of Elders--but from the ministry. In fact, as I had repeatedly told Mr. Salyer and others, Dave had been telling people back in his region that the Presiding Evangelist was a continual LIAR, that I was doctrinally unsound, and that I was "not fit" to be the human leader of God's Church. This can be testified to by SEVERAL different individuals including Dave's Regional Pastor, Mr. Lambert Greer. In fact, Mr. Greer himself has posted on the Internet that Dave Pack told him about a year ago, "I will DESTROY Rod Meredith!" And that Larry Salyer told him months ago, "We need Dave Pack to get in Dr. Meredith's face"! You see, brethren, I have every reason to believe that these men on the "Board" KNEW what Dave Pack was doing and WANTED him to do it! For, whenever I brought up to them this outrageous behavior, they shrugged it off and indicated they would do NOTHING to help me stop it. And since Dave Pack -- as a Council member -- could only be removed by 75% or more of the Council, I could do NOTHING! Does that begin to help you understand WHY this type of "democratic debating society" approach to Church Government was NOT working?! Only recently, after Dave Pack's blatant comments to an entire group of people came to light, could we have mustered the needed votes to remove him. Until then, I fully believe, these disloyal Board members were happy to have him out there seeking, in his own words, to "DESTROY" me, while out here in San Diego these men were busy as little beavers trying to bring me down in a more "respectable" manner! But they failed to reckon with the LIVING CHRIST who has finally brought this entire matter to a head to 'test' His people and SEE if they are really willing to follow His pattern of government. And IF they will remain loyal to the one HE has installed as the human leader of the Church.
Finally, on page 15 of their letter, they list a number of statements from the original Church Government booklet. Then, wording their letter very carefully and cleverly, they try to give the impression that I disagree with these statements about not being a "pope", about the need to be "clothed with humility", about avoiding "authoritarianism", etc. But I AGREE with these statements in the booklet! I do NOT disagree with the spirit of those comments at all! Again, the other men on the Council of Elders, whom I have named, can testify that I have NOT been a dictator, authoritarian, or high handed. If I were, WHY have all these long-time, dedicated ministers chosen to follow me and join together in reviving the Work through the vehicle of the Living Church of God? The few men on the Board are simply frustrated that I would not consistently take orders from them. I insisted that there ought to be someone guiding the Work as a whole and making decisions so we wouldn\rquote t bog down in constant debating. I think this covers most of the main allegations that these men make. I hope this is helpful to all of you ministers and brethren, and that it will help you answer questions from others. May God guide and bless you as you walk with Him, as you try to see the Big Picture of where Christ is really working and as you act upon the full Truth of Almighty God.
With Christian love,
Roderick C. Meredith
PS: A couple of our ministers now report that Dave Pack's accusation that I am "changing doctrine" are now making the rounds. Brethren, I am NOT changing ANY doctrine. In fact, we are sticking MUCH CLOSER to Mr. Armstrong's consistent teaching about Church Government than the more democratic or "Presbyterian" type of government Global has been drifting into. Any accusation that "massive doctrinal changes" are under way is TOTALLY UNFOUNDED!
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