One of the first major Armstrong doctrines to be invalidated by Tkach was that going to doctors was no longer considered a sin. The Church had formerly taught that going to the doctor was a lack of faith.
I. Group Profile
Name: Philadelphia Church of God
Founder: The Philadelphia Church of God is a sectarian splinter group from Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, founded by Gerald Flurry and John Amos.
Year Founded: The Philadelphia Church of God broke away from the Worldwide Chruch of God in 1989. The United States based Philadelphia Church of God was incorporated on December 20, 1989. Since that time additional churches have been established internationally. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God was established in 1933.
Sacred or Revered Texts: The Philadelphia Church of God looks to the Bible for all guidance and believes that it is the full word of God. Although the doctrinal founder, Herbert W. Armstrong published a great deal of works that interpreted the Bible. Armstrong’s last work, Mystery of the Ages, was his most celebrated. In Gerald Flurry’s words:
“[it] was like the magnificent SUMMARY OF ALL Mr. Armstrong’s work– THE ACCUMULATED KNOWLEDGE OF HIS ENTIRE MINISTRY. This book, more than any other piece of literature, was what Mr. Armstrong and God’s Work were about during the Philadelphia era.” 1
In addition, the Armstrong empire published many pamphlets, Bible lessons and letters. These writings were used to supplement the Bible in that they provide Armstrong’s own interpretations and inspiration for the church.
About the PCG
Gerald Ray Flurry, a former WCG minister, leads the most extreme of the major Armstrong splinter groups. A spiritual autocrat who claims an angelic vision to validate his authority, Flurry’s Philadelphia Church of God is reportedly run with the rigor of a spiritual concentration camp. Despite this – or perhaps because of it – the Flurry cult has grown. In 2001 it reportedly had around 6000 people in attendance on any given Sabbath. Claiming to be the “Only True Church”, the PCG resembles Armstrongism in the 1950’s and sixties. The sect’s main mission appears to be republishing Herbert W. Armstrong’s material, particularly Mystery of the Ages, over which it was enmeshed in a legal battle with the Worldwide Church of God, which held the copyright.
There is a high price to belonging to the PCG. Members practice a strict tithing regimen, avoid medical treatment, and must declare fealty to their spiritual master, Herbert W. Armstrong (Elijah), as mediated to them through Gerry (Elisha). Flurry has gone as far as describing himself as Christ “in the flesh.” His book “Malachi’s Message” is regarded as near-scripture, the prophesied “little book” of Revelation. Attendance at PCG services is by invitation only. PCG members are forbidden to read anything sourced from other Armstrong sects.
The PCG has created a “headquarters campus” in Edmond, Oklahoma. This includes an unaccredited educational institution, Imperial College, modeled on the now defunct Ambassador College. Flurry’s son, Stephen, widely regarded as monumentally underqualified for the task, has been appointed chancellor by his father.
But all is not well in God’s Philadelphian Work. The PCG has been smitten with a spate of defections, and the Great Helmsman has been apprehended by local police officers, drunk and disoriented. At the end of 2002 numbers were believed to be in decline, and the sect’s Key of David television show was removed from most television outlets with the exception of WGN, ostensibly so the PCG could fund further legal moves in their quest to distribute HWA material.
My father was one of the 12 charter members of PCG when it was founded, and gave Gerald Flurry his VW van when WCG took back his company car, leaving him without transportation. For the last eight years Vyron Wilkins served as a minister in PCG, pastoring the Lawton Ok. church, and was also a senior editor of the Philadelphia Trumpet. He took no pay during that time, and in fact paid tithes to PCG on his retirement income.
On September 28, 2001, at the age of 71, he died of heart failure. During the two and a half days he was in the VA hospital in Oklahoma City, no PCG minister, and only one PCG member (other than family) visited him in the hospital. The VA hospital is less than 20 miles from “headquarters” in Edmond Ok.
During his tenure at PCG, Stephen Flurry was named as the editor of the Trumpet. My father continued with the actual editing, and as Stephen Flurry could not open email attachments or operate a fax machine, he would demand that this elderly man with a heart condition drive the hard copies of edited articles from Norman, Ok. to Edmond Ok., a distance of some 45 miles each way. Often, this drive was made as late as midnight on Sunday nights. This caused additional strain on a dangerously weak heart. When my father was discharged from the military in 1978, he was found to be 100% disabled. His condition only worsened after that.
All of this was done by Vyron Wilkins for no pay. Presumably, Stephen Flurry was paid for his efforts though. There is no explanation why Stephen Flurry could not have made the drive to retrieve the edited articles, other than the obvious one, that is. The callousness and arrogance of doing this to an elderly man on a regular basis, gives a pretty clear picture of the Flurry family values. Less than a week after my father’s death, PCG informed my mother that she is not eligible for any sort of widow’s benefits from their church, either as an indigent widow, or as the widow of a minister. I had approached Barbara Flurry at the funeral (she stopped by, and did not stay for the service), and advised her that I expected a pension to be offered to my mother, as she is 71, in poor health, and has only the widows benefit left from my father’s military pension. Barbara explicitly assured me that they would be giving her a pension, and that it had been promised to her already, the weekend after my father died. Less than three days later, Barbara called and told my mother that she wasn’t eligible, and that my father wouldn’t have wanted her to take a pension anyway. Presumably PCG still collects third tithe for widows and the indigent, however it appears that their practice is to talk those same widows out of taking those funds. That this was done to a widow less than a week after her husband’s death is appalling even by secular standards.
The fact that they do this while building Imperial College is breathtaking in its audacity. They don’t have funds to take care of long time faithful members who have fallen on hard times, but they do have money to build a self aggrandizing college for Stephen Flurry (of the limited education) to become dean. At the very least, I would urge all members to withhold third tithe until a full accounting has been made by PCG of where those funds are really going.
Shades of David Koresh?
A former PCG member posted this December 2001.
I think of all the people commanded to go to the minister’s house to fix his roof, fix his car, till his garden, mow his lawn, the list is endless, and the little widows in the church couldn’t get help from those deacons who were too busy sucking their way up the ladder to deal with the little people anymore, especially the ones who had already given every dime to the church…
I wasn’t in the WCG for very long before I was lured away into the PCG… I think there may be a good possibility that Flurry will self-destruct and take a lot of people with him. I think, with as much absolute certainty as I ever could have, that he will use that compound/college for something awful. Another Waco/Jonestown thing. I’ve thought that could happen, since I first heard that the location was chosen because they could enlarge an existing lake to supply water in case of an emergency, since I first heard that they were building a swimming pool to also be used as an emergency water supply, since I first heard they were installing their own elaborate sewage treatment facility, since I first heard they thought the land could hold 7000 people temporarily when the government/army comes after them, since I first heard the land had an existing airstrip to make it easier to leave when they are being chased by the army, since I first heard they suspected people of infiltrating as spies. This site was not chosen as a lovely spot for a college, it was chosen to be an out-of-the-way base of operations during a time of siege.
At the current headquarters location in town, the association that runs the whole complex of buildings has been “given” many landscaping improvements at negligible cost, because Flurry will get his followers to do incredible amounts of work, unpaid. The men assigned to such chores are doing it after hours, after their own days of full-time work, all days on Sundays, whatever it takes, even to neglecting their own homes. Even in our local area, the men who are summoned to work at the minister’s home, they do it at HIS convenience, not their own.
Gerry is Christ “In the Flesh”
Excerpts from a posting on a PCG forum
… we were told by Mr. Flurry, and later by S. Flurry, that this phrase “in the flesh” refers to the single fleshly manifestation of Christ on earth – a man heading the govt. of God on earth. Mr. Flurry is the fulfillment of this now as he is the only man through whom Christ is working…
Mr. Flurry explained that the Last Hour doesn’t start until “The Anti-Christ” is revealed. In the sermon, we were told that anyone who does not recognize Mr. Flurry as the single and only “Christ in the flesh” person at this time, is one of many antichrists, or of the spirit of anti-christ. (Laodiceans included.) It is “anti-Christ” if one doesn’t admit that God directly leads the church (through Mr. Flurry and only Mr. Flurry). “Antichrist is anti one man govt. Anti Christ is anti- the revelations through Mr. Armstrong. Especially Mystery of the Ages.” Mr. Flurry then distinguished the many antichrists from “That Antichrist” of 1 John 2:18. He stated that since Mr. Tkach is against Mystery of the Ages, he is “The Antichrist” – the single one that we look for to identify the commencement of the “Last Hour”.
It seems that the answer to all marital problems is to re-read articles on leadership and submission in marriage, and the old. D&R articles, that were declared erroneous by Mr. Armstrong. When I attempted to apply this in my marriage it just got worse…
The official teaching by the WCG as well as the PCG that use of the medical profession is a personal decision, was developed in order to protect the church from liability and to protect the public image… In fact use of the medical profession is very strongly discouraged, and based on Mr. Thompson¹s most recent sermon on the subject, is a sin, can lead to eternal death, and is against the Government of God…
I have been uncomfortable with Mr. Flurry¹s statements about the “blacks”. He stated that they would rise up and riot, burning the cities after the OJ Simpson Trial. This would be the beginning of Christ¹s “smiting” of Israel. He taught that the plagues in Revelation could be interpreted as the burning’s. He restated these fears of a black uprising after the black man was dragged by a pickup to his death in Texas. Recently, during the Last Hour series, he re-stated this teaching that the blacks are rising up and about to revolt and burn the cities…
I am similarly uncomfortable with the statements, also repeated during the Last Hour series, about how Israel should go out and pro-actively attack the Palestinians, Egyptians, Syrians etc, based on their divine right to live in the Holy Land. We teach that any attempt at peace is just a waste of time. The PCG teaches that such futile efforts toward peace or with the recent formation of the coalition, reflect a loss of pride in our Israel¹s power and Gods blessing…
The article on Depression in the “True Education” magazine, stated that drugs should never be taken. It spoke of depression as a spiritual condition, not a physical one. It was critical of professionals who try to help. I was helped by a professional, after Mr. Campbell said I could see one. He put me on an “anti-depressant” and it did help me. Some people are genetically predisposed to certain conditions and I don¹t think it is wrong to restore the right balance in the body. The article was not well researched and was very dangerous in discouraging professional help of all kinds…
- 1. Flurry, Stephen. “Where We Have Been, Where We Are Going.” in the February 1999 issue of The Philadelphia Trumpet.
Some of this article has been sourced from the Ambassador Files, available here on the Painful Truth.