The Velvet Delorey Story

Formerly known on the Internet as “Purple Hymnal.”

Among the thousands of articles posted here on the Painful Truth for your consideration, there will doubtless be some that you find useless, and possibly offensive, but we believe you will be perceptive enough to realize that even the stories you disagree with have some value in terms of promoting your own further self-definition and insight.


Pilate said unto Him, “What is Truth?”

 John 18:37-38, KJV

“There is an old Chinese curse, ‘May you live in interesting times.’” – Leonard Nimoy


I’ve lived a lot, for one lifetime. My parents started out their lives together as hippies in Jamestown (I’m not sure where Wiki got the “St” part from, I’ve only ever heard it referred to sans honorific.), whereupon they proceeded to tick every box on the list, although neither one of them were involved with the Church then, beyond my father listening to the broadcast, which he had done, when he was in the Navy. (Beyond a passing mention that “Garner Ted wasn’t so bad” in the early ’80s, which I promptly scoffed at, my father never mentioned his early conversion much. Likely due to the source.)

Fast-forward a decade from “the hippie summer” and my parents are married with a one-year-old who spends more time in hospital than out of it (I have spoken of the false allegations of  “the healing doctrine” elsewhere), living in rural Northern Ontario, and oh yes, they were both baptized members of the Worldwide Church of God.

My mother was disfellowshipped (for a perfectly logical reason) between ’77 and ’78 by Mr. S. (whom can now be found beating the Bible (but never reading it, anymore) for a Pagan Christ, in a church with a cross on the front of it), and thus my family’s saga, as a “spiritually broken household” began.

I do want to go on the record and say that there was never any acrimony between Mr. S. and my family through the years, though; we got on, on very good terms, for many years afterward, even when we were in British Columbia, and Mr. S. was the rising star in the ministry. (He was the Western Regional Pastor at one point, I believe.) A star which has long since flamed out. Another minister, who was referred to behind his back by the more bitter members of his small, conservative, congregation as “little Hitler,” has now risen to the top of the “episcopal hierarchy” dung-heap that GCI is now under the thumb of. I also remember Mr. S. always spoke to each child as an equal, without ever condescending to us, no matter if we were two, or twenty; I remember this quite clearly, even though he was transferred from Toronto a year or so after I started attending services.

But let me tell you what I remember about the Church. My first Sabbath services, I was nervous, and fiddling with the fancy dress-up clothes that never seemed to stay free of foodstuffs, much to my mother’s chagrin. This being the “combined” congregation of Toronto, the East, West, and Central churches all met in the auditorium of the Sir John A, for many years — and it was busting at the seams, with at least a thousand members.

I can recount to you every step from the front door, down into the spacious auditorium, filled with a wall of sound and people (that would have impressed any average professing Christian churchgoer of the day), the 70s-era “Jetson Family” bathrooms with the foot-pedal-fountain in place of faucets and sinks, for hand-washing (ahead of the times, definitely), the classrooms where the YES classes were held every month (there was such a large contingent of children, the YES classes were separated, by grade level, each into their own classroom), and the patio out back, where the refreshments (usually unsweetened apple juice and digestive bikkies) were served. Along with tea and coffee for the adults.

I remember my surrogate “aunts” and “uncles” (not so in the “hardliner” Victoria, BC, congregation, where everyone was prim and proper “Mr. This” and “Mrs. That”), wandering around during fellowship hour with a gaggle of kids the size of which would scare the living daylights out of a modern security guard these days, given how well-dressed and well-behaved we all were. I remember the harsh Scotch mints handed out by the ex-Mennonite “grandma” of the congregation (who gifted me with a quilt I still have, somewhere hereabouts, almost fifteen moves and three provinces later).

Funny, although I can remember Neil Earle thundering so loud, we could hear him all the way back in “the cheap seats” way up in the back, even though he was the pastor of Toronto that I spent the most years under (as a child) I honestly barely remember him. I don’t think he ever visited our house. Certainly, neither he nor Richard Pinelli, ever came to my house and opened cupboard doors, “looking for sin,” as has been alleged of both of those gentlemen on false Christian sites like the “Exit and Support Network.”

There was always a steady stream of dinner guests from amongst the brethren, both ministry as well as fellow members, in Ontario, and British Columbia; my mother’s excellent (and kosher; the household was not quite that broken, fortunately) cooking certainly played an influence there; so, too, did her homemade wine, although I never did see Church members any more than tipsy.

In British Columbia, during the closing years of the Church holding fast to the truth, my family hosted NTBMR / NTBMO evenings where the local pastor very happily provided us with a list of all those who needed to be “placed” in a household for the evening some months prior, thus making both the local minister, and those in need of a place to go for the traditional meal, very, very happy. There are probably still legends circling the BC splinter groups, about those evenings. “Epic” is not even close to the appropriate adjective. People in the Victoria congregation would start talking about the coming year’s meal, after we all got back from the Feast.

The Victoria congregation met in a building called “the Union Hall,” which I have tried, unsuccessfully, to find information on the Internet about, to link for you. Still, I can retrace every single step, from the “back” of the Union Hall, the closest door to the auditorium, where the greeters stood and took attendance every Sabbath, to the YES classroom (only one), then the mother’s room, and finally the anointing room, all in a line, down one side of the long, narrow, hall, with the vending machines at the end; opposite were the bathrooms and the auditorium itself, full of spongy hardwood flooring that was probably original to the building, and didn’t creak nor crack, so much as give, like a slightly firm old-growth forest floor, beneath one’s feet.

Our first Sabbath services in BC (after six months of not attending; no, we were not put out of the Church in Toronto, nor was our non-attendance for that length of time an issue; we continued to keep the Holy Days while we were between Ontario and BC, traveling, and homeless, as we were at the time), I remember my father and I walking up to the greeters, shaking their hands, being marked off on the attendance sheet, and then walking through into the auditorium.

My first impression, after coming from a congregation that must have had upwards of a couple hundred kids (at least) ranging every age from nine months to nineteen years, was that there were no children in the congregation. All I saw were adults! I stuck close to my father, then, and we were dutifully introduced around, with a flurry of activity being conducted by one of the deaconesses, just out of the corner of my eye.

You know how they have that clichéd scene in those After School Specials, where “the new kid” is introduced into “the new school?” Yeah, so. Like that, only it was a circle of about twenty (if that) kids, ranging in age from about five to fifteen, gathered around my father and I, ringing us in, almost like they were going to bust out into a game of “Pocket full of Posies.” I would have been eight or nine at the time.

Things improved somewhat after that, thankfully, although the Victoria congregation was rife with cliques, to the point where it was preached about from the pulpit almost constantly. My parents tried to allay that, in their own way, through the Night to be Much Remembered meals, mentioned above.

I personally think they would have been wildly successful, had the Holy Days not been abolished, and the congregation disbanded, to go in directions we knew not where, until a chance meeting in a bookstore, a coffee shop, a library, a mall, or on the street, where the ex-member would loudly proclaim “We’re [insert x] now!” leaving my parents and I slack-jawed; after twenty-plus years of being told never to proselytize, how, exactly, does one respond to such flagrant disregard of Christ’s admonition?

Too, I couldn’t get over how these formerly righteous (OK the ones who barked the loudest were always the most self-righteous, and were likely a pox on whatever false idol-house they ended up worshipping in, anyway) brethren, could just drop everything, and depart so far from the truth, as if they had never, ever, believed.

I still can’t understand it, to be honest with you; and I’ve felt the same way, as a second-generation Christian, as an agnostic, an atheist, and now as a true Christian once again. All changes which came, for me, slowly, with much agonizing, planning, and careful thought; yet for my parents, and for these other wanton, pallid people, yelling meaningless, rebellious phrases, it was like flipping a switch.

Didn’t they even think about what they were doing? Did they even think about their beliefs, when they allegedly held them? (Obviously not, and they don’t want to re-examine them at all, speaking to those who have gone “whole hog” with “the changes.”) How could you forsake being a chosen member of the true Church? Sure, the Church forsook its members, but that was the leadership; the headship of the Church (whether it goes by the Worldwide Church of God, Grace Communion International, or any other name the “episcopal hierarchy” wants to assign to it, in the hopes that the truth will just go away) is still under Christ; the leadership of the Church just isn’t listening to Him!

In conclusion, I have personally found that a daily Bible reading program, has opened my eyes to the truth the Church once preached (that one day I pray, it will preach once again), and to the prophecy contained in that “NOW book,” for what direction the Church, both as a spiritual organism of scattered believers, and a corporate organization that still has the headship of Christ, regardless of how far from God its leaders have departed. Will it happen in my lifetime? That’s not for me to say. All I can say, is what the power of the Holy Spirit gives me to say.

Thank you for listening.

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27 Replies to “The Velvet Delorey Story”

  1. “I still can’t understand it, to be honest with you; and I’ve felt the same way, as a second-generation Christian, as an agnostic, an atheist, and now as a true Christian once again. All changes which came, for me, slowly, with much agonizing, planning, and careful thought;”

    Ummm, no!! Then again, it depends on how you define “slowly” and “careful thought”.

  2. I also want to add that, since I sent this article to James, I have become aware of new facts, regarding the Worldwide Church of God, now known as Grace Communion International.

    So, my rather bitter words above, no longer hold any bearing, on WCG, known as GCI, at least the Church how it has been presenting itself, since about May of this year (but which I was only made aware of today).

    Thanks, that’s all I wanted to say.

    1. Velvet,

      They are the same as yesteryear. Nothing has changed except you. Where was the help for those who left, those who asked for help? Look at Dennis. Tkach’s company store shit on him, and for what reason?

      No, I do not support them in anyway. You may, you own your decision and will have to live with it. I believe that there is something much deeper here going on. Time will be the great reveal-er. I hope you and others will survive when the time comes. You are in for a rerun of the “great disappointment.” When that time comes you will suffer that which comes with it.

      1. I really, really, get the sense that people regret the way the changes were handled, and regret the things that happened “from the top down.” I could be wrong about that, but everyone I talk to, says exactly the same thing. This is members, mind, not just ministry!

        Take that for whatever it’s worth.

        And, no, they’re not date-setting, or anything. They might go more for a Messianic Jewish setup, in which case, we’ll get the Holy Days back, and drop the Evangelical stuff, and no date-setting, which would definitely be close to ideal, IMO.

        Everyone I speak to talks about how much they miss the Holy Days, and how everyone they speak to, misses the Holy Days. So do I, even though I have been keeping them (except Passover) at home. Not sure where God wants me for the Feast, this year….That’s pure, 100%, unadulterated conjecture, though, so please take with a large block of salt.

        “Something deeper?” Who knows? I don’t think it is anything that is being orchestrated by the leaders in the Church, personally. Not sure what you mean about “the great disappointment,” you ask me, the Church has already had that! Here’s hoping and praying they have learned, and are learning, from that very harsh lesson.

          1. No idea. All I know is, all the MJ stuff I’ve looked into, spells nothing but trouble. There’s even one site that claims to promote unitarianism, but read down through the links, and you find them shilling for the trinity garbage!

            A lot of the complaints you read from within Orthodox Judaism circles, about “Messianic Judaism” are pretty much spot-on, from what I can see. The “movement” has essentially been set up, by professing Christians, falsely-so-called, in order to “convert” Jews to the religion of the god of this world.

            Like I say, I’ve no idea why anyone in the Church, or out of it, would hook into the Messianic “Jewish” movement; I do recall reading, some time ago, a “warning” from a “Messianic Jewish rabbi” (real Jews will tell you there is NO such thing; some of the Chabad people might disagree; but they’ve got their own issues) saying that ex-WCG members were “too Orthodox” for them. So take that, for whatever it’s worth.

            Unless the ONLY thing those people missed about the Church, were the Holy Days, in which case, why didn’t they just migrate to Judaism completely? It’s a puzzler, that’s certain. Or maybe they’re just grasping at straws, what with everything that happened in the Church, between 1994 and 1996.

            You wouldn’t catch me anywhere near a “Messianic Jewish” congregation. They’re worse than the apostate groups of WCG!

  3. Well, it’s been a long time, but I did agonize quite a bit over leaving back in 1975. It was a very rough transition, not at all like flipping a switch. There were lots of tears falling during my prayers. The lynchpin prophecy on which the entire Armstrong gospel was based had failed. Dr. Martin, and others, had produced well researched Biblical documentation showing that numerous of the official WCG doctrines were false. HWA, in fact, actually did change the divorce and remarriage doctrine, birthing at least one conservative splinter group. GTA’s activities and corruption in other areas of the church made it seem as if the administration really did not believe church doctrine or take it seriously. It became very obvious that WCG literature had provided a lying witness or testimony supporting the weirdest of their doctrines.

    This was a time when people candidly admitted their thoughts of suicide, and confusion. I was fortunate to have good friends such as John Trechak, and other friends with whom I worked at AC Press as a kind of buddy system, helping me maintain perspective as we left the church. Some switched to mainstream Christianity, a couple even joined the Church of Scientology, and others just faded from the scene. Oddly enough, some saw GTA as being some sort of reformer, and moved to Texas to be part of his group.

    I went through a couple of stages. In one scenario, I would have privately kept whatever doctrines I had not disproved in the privacy of my home. I didn’t trust any other church groups because we’d been programmed to believe they were all insincere, although at one point I did consider sending my first tithes to Billy Graham’s organization.

    My marriage ended up not surviving all of this turmoil, and I set out to just live my life. There was considerable partying, but I never allowed it to get to the point of self-destructiveness. Eventually, I got into health, physical fitness, career, and my new family. But, it was years before I could tolerate any mention or discussion of religion. As an atheist, I considered myself to be a truthseeker, and thought of all religion as being harmful superstition which the entire world would need to shed before making any true progress.

    WCG demanded attention and involvement. You could not be ambivalent and remain a member of the church. Given the level of emotional investment, I’d say that anyone who compares leaving to turning on or off a switch has probably either forgotten what leaving was like, or is not telling the truth.

    BB

    1. It certainly was not just turning a switch off. You can’t be immersed in something like that for over twenty years and just shake it overnight.

      The journey was long, hard and confusing and led me eventually to full blown atheism. I’m comfortable there, but the comfort was slow in coming.

      1. “It was a very rough transition, not at all like flipping a switch.”

        I felt the same way…unfortunately, my parents, at the time (for better or for worse) decided to just forget that that part of our past ever happened, and I was left on my own. Think I found Internet Infidels about late ’96 (the old site, not the new one), and I branded myself an “agnostic” at the time, but I had a couple solid years of very bad depression, as a result of the whole mess.

        But, yes, my parents did treat it very much like flipping a switch (which shows you how converted my father was, in the first place, i.e., not very / not at all.)

        Not that my life was all gravy and roses after that; mostly it was just OK. Now, things are improving, at least they seem to be for me.

        Obviously I did not have the same experience growing up that you did, Bob, with the whole ’75 thing and Garner Ted. The Church I grew up in, is very misrepresented, by what you read on these sites, though, which was the point I made when I first joined Shadows of WCG in 2007.

        I think we all know where that led….

        Anyway, the disconnect between the stories / rumour mill on the Internet, and the Church on the ground (in Canada at least) are two entirely different creatures altogether; although the Canadian Church is a little better about saying what they do / doing what they say. I have found, anyway.

        1. My shock came before I even thought about leaving, during my time at Pasadena, when I saw the attitudes of those at top positions firsthand. I returned to my home church shaken and ready to leave as soon as someone gave me logical reasons. Ernest Martin did it for me.

          I learned that there is good news and bad news about leaving the COGs:
          The good news: You can be free of all organizations and human systems of authority

          The bad news: You can be free of all organizations and human systems of authority.

          It’s very hard to be alone, and there is that need to heal and find out who you truly are.

  4. Velvet,

    I wouldn’t read too much into Joe Jr’s sermons on Revelation. Actually, this is a big part of mainstream Christianity today, and it was one of the things which were very difficult for me to deal with as God drew me back to Him, because of the cruel and manipulative ways in which Armstrongism used it, and their somewhat distorted take on it.

    John Hagee, Dr. David Jeremiah, Grant Jeffreys, Jack van Impe, Dr. LaHaye, and many others do preach from the books of Daniel and Revelation, and understand the Beast power to be a revival of the Holy Roman Empire. They just don’t threaten their congregations with it, act as if they are the gatekeepers for it, or become obsessed with it. They don’t even guess at dates, but do state that fulfillment could all come to pass in our lifetimes. Emphasis in mainstream Christianity is on living the Christian life, and experiencing the blessings with flow naturally as a result.

    Once I recognized and appreciated the difference in the way in which these folks handle such a sensitive topic, I was able to overcome the fear and hatred of prophecy which Armstrongism spawned.

    BB

    1. John Hagee has had issues with date-setting before, IIRC, Bob. David Jeremiah is the one selling the green hankies as some sort of “MLM for God” isn’t he? Jack van Impe looks like an Auton (from Dr. Who) and so does the missus; they don’t really “preach” so much as proof-text, to support standard professing Christian rhetoric.

      Which is something the Church did, around the time of the changes, but it appears they have gotten very much away from that, again. Nor are they “threatening” or acting as “gatekeepers” nor are they obsessed with it. The Church in Canada is acknowledging, “Yes, we did teach this at one point, and we don’t anymore, but we aren’t going to browbeat someone who still does believe it.”

      I have found this very much to be the case, at least from attending for two Sabbaths. (They get funny little looks on their faces when I mention that word, so I’ve taken to saying “services” — that’s what we’ve always called it, anyway.) We shall see how things develop, but all I know right now, is this is where I am supposed to be.

      No comment on Tim LaHaye. The writing sucked too bad.

      “Emphasis in mainstream Christianity is on living the Christian life, and experiencing the blessings with flow naturally as a result.”

      Funny, that’s what I remember the Church I grew up in, always teaching. They still teach that, today, apparently.

      1. I should also add, there’s a pretty clear disconnect, between “Headquarters” and Canada now, the thing with the Board Governance notwithstanding. I am trying not to ask too many nosy questions, though (After all, I don’t want to be a troublemaker!!) but I am keeping my ears pricked (as much as possible). General conversation gives me the gist that they don’t really pay attention to what comes out of Glendora at all.

        Plus, the tithes don’t go there, anymore, which is one weight off my mind.

      2. I should also add, the sermons on Revelation that I refer to are coming from pastors in Canada. Joseph Tkach Jr. just did a 3-minute YouTube video on Revelation. Sorry if that was unclear.

  5. “I was able to overcome the fear and hatred of prophecy which Armstrongism spawned.”

    I, for one, neither fear nor hate prophecy. I recognize it for the imaginary claptrap it is and ignore it. Revelation was probably an augmentation of somebody’s nightmare with a lot of imagination thrown in to buoy up the Jewish christians against the Romans. Daniel was a fictional novel written by some Maccabbean zealot for basically the same reasons.

    The writings of yahwistic prophets can be viewed in the same light as the speculations and urgings of zealous aspiring leaders of any group in any part of the world at any time. What a tragedy that the great Alexandrian library got burned down by idiots. So much knowledge and history lost.

    1. As a student of media for many years, I am less interested in the content of the mediu of communication than the nature of the medium itself, and the effects that medium will produce on future generations.

      Result of biblical influence:
      1.Violence
      2.Hatred
      3.Constant and increaasing division, especially among the various CoGs.

      I contend that it is not the “content” of the bible that has caused this, but the actual nature of alphabetic text as a medium. For example, if you;re shocked by a small charge of electricity, you don’t ask “What was it trying to tell me?”

      You realize that electricity is a medium that results from an instant re-configuration of electrons that re-configure the “normal” configurations of other systems. The results are hopefully controlled, and generally predictable.

      The samne with alphabetic texts. History indicates that a group of nomads wandering in the desert adopted a new concept of written symbols that contained a “law of God”. This same alphabet, based on about two dozen symbols, could be used interchangeably by most anyone, and it eliminated the former elite priesthoods that were needed for “legal” interpretation.

      The result tends to have a rather “schizophrenic” effect. While we try to organize around some collective truth of “God”, we are forced to interpret each concept in a more individualized way, leading to constant splintering and speciation of religions. If there was a Yahweh, it would seem logically to conclude that THAT was “His” intention. If not, we still get the same results.

    2. FWIW, at least one GCI pastor is preaching a quasi-preterism. Fascinating sermons, though, and the evangelical stuff is kept to an absolutely bare minimum (I personally think it’s just obligatory, because of the NAE.) but while they’re not “connecting the dots” with, say, Rev. and Matt 24 anymore (I don’t agree with that, obviously, the excuse is “the audience reading Revelation didn’t have Matthew” — although the suggested chronologies imply otherwise.) but they are drilling down, and getting into the meat of the book once again.

      (And the Church still believes that Rev. 20-22 will eventually come to pass, and that there will be a Resurrection from the dead. No more Hell-peddling like in ’95-’96, either, which is a welcome relief.)

  6. Velvet,

    As to the Christian religion, watch this video and tell me if what is said is correct or incorrect.

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQakqEYmd1U

    1. I see “Aquarius” in the screenshot of the YouTube video you have linked; if it’s “Zeitgeist” I’ve seen it before, and did not think it correct, even when I was an atheist! If it is something else astrologically-based, I’m not interested in watching it, nor commenting on it, simply because astrology is pagan and unbiblical, and I want nothing (more) to do with it.

      Sorry.

  7. Velvet,
    You were right to start with a few years ago when you were agnostic/atheist.

    I don’t know how the confusion happened, a deep religious religious experience you say, but you know that Muslims have those and Mormons have those too. It’s nothing new – I came within an inch of turning from atheism to preterism because of a religious experience myself. The same thing happened to BykerBob – only he didn’t return to Armstrongism (yet).

    It can’t happen to me anymore because genetics drove the last nail in the coffin of creationism a few years ago and the theory of evolution became a scientific fact. Regardless of Xians who have suddenly decided to be theistic evolutionists it really does destroy the whole of Xianity from its very root in Genesis.

    What Xians who understand about the fact of evolution are not exactly living in denial but it is cognitive dissonance and they are not thinking about what evolution really does to “the first man, Adam”, since he wasn’t the first man. Also “death by sin” because of the first man, Adam, no longer applies because there never was a “first man”.

    1. I’m still not sure where everyone is getting this “deep religious experience” idea (I have been accused of same, on Otagosh, as well); it wasn’t; it was a few years of a whole lot of little signs building up, until the “Last Boarding Call” of the giant, neon flashing sign, saying “Neither Atheism NOR Professing Christianity are viable options; stand fast in what you have been taught from the beginning.”

      So far, it’s been nothing but uphill, since then. But a “deep religious experience?” Is that what they’re calling getting virtually screwed by two lying, manipulative, devil-inspired Baptists, these days?? 🙂

    1. No, Ralph, there wasn’t a first man or a first woman. The reason is because populations evolve, not individuals. By the way, the egg came first – because dinosaurs laid eggs before there ever was a chicken.

      1. Yup, like the olf joke: “Why did the dinosaur cross the road?”
        “Because there weren’t any chickens back then”.

        Evolution has a most amazing relationship to truth because you can’t seem to find that exacting starting point and say “It all began right here”.

        One of the basic reasons for that, of course is a thing called entropy. It’s like a cosmic blackboard that seems to erase itself of any useful connections that can allow us to trace history to basic beginnings.

        One of the most interesting challenges to Darwin, to him at least, was the Cambrian explosion, as stated in Wikipedia:

        The Cambrian explosion or Cambrian radiation was the relatively rapid (over a period of many millions of years) appearance, around 530 million years ago, of most major phyla, as demonstrated in the fossil record,[1][2] accompanied by major diversification of other organisms, including animals, phytoplankton, and calcimicrobes.[3] Before about 580 million years ago, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies. Over the following 70 or 80 million years the rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude (as defined in terms of the extinction and origination rate of species[4]) and the diversity of life began to resemble today’s.[5]

        The Cambrian explosion has generated extensive scientific debate. The seemingly rapid appearance of fossils in the “Primordial Strata” was noted as early as the mid 19th century,[6] and Charles Darwin saw it as one of the main objections that could be made against his theory of evolution by natural selection.[7]

        What has been learned since those early days is that pesky little viruses began a rapid exchange of DNA back and forth across one celled systems, cutting and pasting, until a kind of “speciation” occurred with multi-celled organisms occupying niches of their environment. More recently it was discovered that sexual reproduction developed from this process to maintain immunity among those different categories of multi-celled life, which makes sense.

        As Dawkins might say, each species was merely a gene’s way of making another gene.

      2. Not to fuel the flames or anything, but Church literature has been promoting Theistic Evolution for a while now, something I always secretly believed, even when I was growing up.

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