Philadelphia Church of God

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Philadelphia Church of God
ClassificationChurch of God
LeaderGerald R. Flurry
RegionInternational
HeadquartersEdmond, Oklahoma
FounderGerald R. Flurry, John Amos, et al.
OriginDecember 20, 1989
Edmond, Oklahoma
Separated fromWorldwide Church of God
 
  (Redirected from Gerald Flurry)
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For other uses, see Church of God (disambiguation).
Philadelphia Church of God
ClassificationChurch of God
LeaderGerald R. Flurry
RegionInternational
HeadquartersEdmond, Oklahoma
FounderGerald R. Flurry, John Amos, et al.
OriginDecember 20, 1989
Edmond, Oklahoma
Separated fromWorldwide Church of God

The Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) is an international church based in Edmond, Oklahoma. PCG traces its roots to the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), founded by Herbert W. Armstrong, and teaches a "new revelation" which its founder, Gerald Flurry, says God has shown to him from the Bible since Armstrong's death. It was founded with the stated purpose of continuing Armstrong's teachings, which were repudiated by WCG after its founder's death in 1986,[1] as it embraced mainstream Christian beliefs like the Trinity that had formerly been rejected.

PCG, as one of the Sabbatarian Churches of God (COG), states that it is carrying on Armstrong's legacy after the doctrinal changes made by new WCG leaders Joseph W. Tkach and his son Joseph Tkach Jr.

Founders[edit]

Gerald Ray Flurry (born April 12, 1935) is the founder and Pastor General of PCG. PCG was founded by Flurry and his assistant pastor John Amos (1929–1993) and incorporated in the United States on December 20, 1989.[2][3] They were ministers serving Oklahoma City and Enid, Oklahoma, WCG congregations at the time.

Flurry graduated from Ambassador College, Pasadena, California, in 1970[4][5] and became a WCG minister in 1973.[6] In 1975 he was transferred to Pasco, Washington,[7] and then to Oklahoma in 1985.

During the three years after Herbert Armstrong's death in 1986, WCG made several doctrinal changes that Flurry objected to as doctrinally false. He began to make known his opposition to these changes and produced a manuscript that would become the book Malachi's Message to God's Church Today. These events led to his being summoned by WCG leaders to appear before them. Flurry and Amos were disfellowshipped from WCG in 1989 for challenging the doctrinal changes.[8]

A group of supporters began to form around Flurry at this point, including John Amos, Tim Thompson, Vyron Wilkins, Dennis Leap, Frank Garcia, Wilber Malone, Don Marshall,[9] Jim Mortensen, Don Roth, and Winston Davis.[10] They disagreed with the doctrinal changes occurring in WCG. Altogether, 12 people met for the Philadelphia Church of God's first service on December 16, 1989. On December 20 the PCG became an incorporated entity.[11] With the founding of PCG, one of its first actions was to publish Malachi's Message to God's Church Today and distribute it to as many WCG members as possible.

Writings[edit]

Flurry has written the following literature:

Flurry co-authored the following literature:

Teachings[edit]

Similarly to WCG and Armstrong's doctrines, PCG teaches God is a family of divine beings currently composed of the Father and the Son which humans may be born into.

The church observes sunset Friday to sunset Saturday as the Sabbath day of worship.

PCG members observe dietary laws as laid out in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.

The church teaches British Israelism, the idea that the British and Americans are descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel.

PCG also possesses a system of tithing where 10% of one's income is donated to the church ("First Tithe") for its operations and for spreading its teachings. A second 10% is saved for the member's expenses during the Holy Days ("Second Tithe"), mainly the Feast of Tabernacles. During the third and sixth year of each seven-year cycle, a third 10% is used for the indigent, widows, and orphans within the church ("Third Tithe").

PCG also has strong apocalyptic teachings inherited from WCG. It teaches a Great Tribulation will soon occur in which a united European power will emerge, composed of ten nations or groups of nations, which will conquer the modern descendants of Israel (the USA, Britain and Israel) and take them into slavery. An alliance of eastern powers (including Russia and China) will gather up its forces and wage war upon the European power. Then Jesus Christ will return and liberate the Israelites and usher in a thousand years of worldwide peace, which is called the world tomorrow.

PCG also teaches some distinctive doctrines which distinguish it from WCG.

PCG claims the adoption of mainstream Christian doctrines by WCG was prophesied in the Bible and that it represents the beginning of the seventh era of God's Church (Laodicea), which PCG is not a part of, but instead is a remnant of the sixth era (Philadelphia). Gerald Flurry's first book, Malachi's Message, is held to be the "little book" of Revelation 10, a divine revelation hidden until 1989.[12]

Aside from being viewed as an Apostle, Armstrong is also thought to be the end time Elijah, as John the Baptist is also held to be a type of Elijah for Jesus' time. A church magazine article in the 1990s stated no one is invited to a PCG service unless they agree with this belief.

Gerald Flurry is also taught to be "that prophet",[13] a figure held by PCG to be biblically prophesied to succeed Herbert W. Armstrong.[14]

Media projects[edit]

PCG sponsors media projects, including television shows and regular publications, to preach its message and continue the legacy of Herbert W. Armstrong.

The Key of David[edit]

The Key of David is a weekly religious television program hosted by Flurry, in which he discusses world events and issues from his perspective of the Bible and its prophecies, covering topics such as the human mind, politics and war.

The program is aired in Africa, Australasia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Philippines, and the United States. The Key of David was taken off the air for a while when PCG was embroiled in a legal battle with the WCG over copyright issues, but returned after that matter was resolved through mediation.

The Philadelphia Trumpet[edit]

The Philadelphia Trumpet is PCG's monthly news and prophecy magazine.

The Trumpet Daily[edit]

A program called The Trumpet Daily featuring Flurry's son Stephen premiered 9 May 2011.

Activities and educational institutions[edit]

PCG runs several foundations and educational institutions aimed at promoting Armstrong and Flurry's teachings to its members and their children.

Herbert W. Armstrong College[edit]

The PCG administers a small liberal arts and theology college, Herbert W. Armstrong College, located in Edmond. The college was established in 2001 as "Imperial College of Edmond," but was renamed after objections by Imperial College London.[15] Armstrong College graduated its first class in 2006.[16]

Imperial Academy[edit]

In August 2008, Flurry founded Imperial Academy, a primary and secondary school for the children of church members patterned after the WCG's Imperial Schools.[17]

Philadelphia Youth Camp[edit]

The Philadelphia Youth Camp (PYC) is the youth camp of PCG. PYC campers participate in athletic activities and a wide variety of social and educational activities during the three-week event, encouraging teamwork and cooperation. Church doctrines are also stressed throughout the children's camp experience, both in day-to-day activities and in mandatory sermons and Bible studies. PYC is located in Edmond, Oklahoma, but PYC camps are also held annually in Australia and the Philippines.[18]

Armstrong International Cultural Foundation[edit]

The PCG established a humanitarian arm called the Philadelphia Foundation in 1996 when it took over a project in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan that the WCG's Ambassador Foundation had left behind. In 2005 the name was changed to the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation. Since 1998, the foundation has sponsored a performing arts series in Edmond, Oklahoma, and in 2005 it began supporting archaeological excavations in Jerusalem.

In January 2008, the PCG broke ground on Armstrong Auditorium, an 800-seat performing arts center located on the Herbert W. Armstrong College campus in Edmond, built in the spirit of Ambassador Auditorium at Ambassador College.[19] It was completed in September 2010, and became the venue for the foundation's concerts. It has three of the largest chandeliers in the United States.[20] The Auditorium is hosting a world-class concert series including such artists as The Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, Andre Watts, The Eroica Trio, and the Russian National Ballet Theatre.[21]

Controversies[edit]

PCG has received criticism from bloggers, former members, other WCG splinters and detractors that have declared Flurry's church a cult.[22]

Plagiarism[edit]

Flurry teaches that Malachi's Message is the "little book" of Revelation 10, a part of Revelation hidden by God until 1989.[23]

Due to similarities with the Letter to Laodicea written by WCG member Jules Dervaes in 1987[24][25] it has been asserted that Malachi's Message was actually copied from that letter.[26][27]

Armstrong's writings[edit]

Despite the fact that the WCG owned the copyrights to Mystery of the Ages, written by Herbert W. Armstrong, Flurry decided in 1997 to print and distribute hard copies under the "fair use" clause of the copyright law.[28] This book summed up Armstrong's teachings. The book had been put out of print and copies destroyed by the WCG leadership within three years of Armstrong's death. PCG published the book in order to distribute it.[29] WCG's leadership rejected that the PCG printing of this book was "fair use" of their copyright and thus began a six-year court battle over fair use of the copyrights, with the WCG losing the initial round at the appellate level on February 18, 1997.[30][31] WCG then appealed and won a split decision with the Ninth Circuit Court on September 18, 2000.[32]

After this, PCG petitioned the twenty-six judges of the Ninth Circuit Court. After they all rejected it, the PCG appealed to the nine justices of the Supreme Court, but none would hear the case.[33] WCG's leadership offered Flurry and the PCG all of Armstrong's works for three million dollars on the condition that internal WCG documents, memos, and emails obtained through discovery be handed back by the PCG. According to Stephen Flurry's (Gerald Flurry's son) book Raising the Ruins, this condition was regarded as a deal-breaker and the WCG was told to prepare to resume litigation. Within hours, the condition to the sale of the copyright was removed from the proposal and an agreement was reached. PCG agreed to pay WCG $3 million. In exchange, PCG would acquire the copyright to Mystery of the Ages and the other eighteen disputed works. In order to pay this amount PCG had to abandon coverage of The Key of David program on all TV spots except on WGN.[34]

The Philadelphia Church of God now owns the copyrights to nineteen of Herbert W. Armstrong's works, including all his full length books.

Policy on recorded sermons[edit]

Since at least 2005, it has been PCG policy that all sermons sent out on CD be immediately destroyed after being heard in local areas.[35] No one is to listen to the message again, and the CD is destroyed with a witness present. In spite of this airtight policy, several sermons are available on the Internet. These recordings have been made by former members who secretly brought recording devices into the meeting halls and recorded the sermons while they were being played at church services.[36]

Disfellowshipment and no-contact policies[edit]

Flurry has been criticized by detractors for the church's teaching of disfellowshipment. PCG, citing Romans 16:17, teaches church members to avoid associating with or fellowshipping with present and former baptized members of WCG,[37] who are held to be a part of the seventh era of God's Church (Laodicea). "Any kind of fellowship with former PCG members and all 'Laodiceans,' even if they are members of a church member's immediate family", is prohibited.[38] Flurry has written, "We [PCG members] must not keep company or fellowship with them [Laodiceans] by going to restaurants and things like that. In the past some members have been told that these relationships are okay so long as religion is not discussed ... [but to the contrary] there should be a complete cut off."[39]

An exception to the teaching is made if an apostate or Laodicean spouse of a PCG member is "pleased to dwell." Scripture, Flurry said, dictates that "that relationship should be preserved as long as the [disfellowshipped or Laodicean] mate is pleased to dwell." He cited 1 Corinthians 7:10–14.[38] The other exception to the disfellowship rule is unbaptized children and other former PCG attendees who may have been baptized but were not "validly baptized".[38]

Any WCG member, ex-member, or member of similar offshoot groups is considered a Laodicean, and hence such people are to be avoided by PCG members. Members are also told to cut off contact with friends and family who have left, were excommunicated from, or are in disagreement with the organization[clarification needed] (as stated unambiguously by Flurry in his December 10, 2005, Pastor General's Report, "The principle to remember is this: there should not be any contact with converted church members who have left—and that includes family members other than a mate.")[40]

KOKH report[edit]

In 2008, Oklahoma City news station KOKH FOX 25 broadcast an in-depth report on PCG,[41][42] which Flurry viewed as being "sensationalistic" and largely negative, claiming the church was the victim of an "ambush" and depicted inaccurately.[43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martin, Tim (2000), "The Philadelphia Church of God", Profiles (Watchman Fellowship) 17 (2) 
  2. ^ Philadelphia Church of God, The Religious Movements Homepage Project, University of Virginia. Archived August 29, 2006.
  3. ^ Official website of The Philadelphia Church of God ©2007
  4. ^ 1971 Envoy, p. 37, (PDF p.41).
  5. ^ Dixon Cartwright, 'Philadelphia Church of God founder Gerald Flurry in Texas for campaign, talks about lawsuit (Part 1)', [1], The Journal: News of the Churches of God, February 1999. '[Stephen Flurry] noted that his father [Gerald Flurry] had graduated from Ambassador College in 1970'.
  6. ^ What is the Philadelphia Church of God?, Exit and Support Network.
  7. ^ 'the Flurrys were transferred to Pasco, Wash., in 1975.' Sarah Leap, 'Worldwide Family Remembers Her Impact',Philadelphia News, November–December 2004, p. 8, (PDF p. 15).
  8. ^ "Stephen Flurry, Raising the Ruins, page 109"
  9. ^ Don Marshall soon renounced his association with PCG. A letter detailing his views on PCG may be read at Ambassador Report#54, February 1994,'Flurry's Philadelphians'.
  10. ^ Letters from those Impacted by Philadelphia Church of God 2005, August 31, 2005, Exit and Support Network.
  11. ^ "Stephen Flurry, Raising the Ruins, page 203"[www.thetrumpet.com/index.php?q=4626.0.101.0]
  12. ^ "Gerald Flurry Quotes". The PLAIN TRUTH About Malachi's Message And THAT PROPHET. pcog.info. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  13. ^ The Riddle of That Prophet Gerald Flurry's elementary mistake.
  14. ^ PCG Information, 'That Prophet'.
  15. ^ Imperial College of Edmond Changes Name, Herbert W. Armstrong College news, December 5, 2005
  16. ^ "The Weekend Web - January 6, 2008". The Trumpet. Philadelphia Church of God. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  17. ^ "Foundational Education". Imperial Academy. Philadelphia Church of God. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  18. ^ Philadelphia Youth Camp
  19. ^ http://www.americanseating.com/architectural/resources/A-ARM-11.pdf
  20. ^ http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/expert-lighting-installs-largest-chandelier-in-armstrong-auditorium-1322373.htm
  21. ^ Adam Kemp (15 July 2010). "Brand new, high-class Armstrong Auditorium hopes to be cultural jewel in Edmond". Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  22. ^ "Letters From Those Impacted by Philadelphia Church of God". Exit and Support Network. Exit and Support Network. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  23. ^ Gerald Flurry, 'The Little Book', 1995.
  24. ^ Jules Dervaes, 'The Letter to Laodicea', December 1986-January 1988.
  25. ^ PCG Information, siderbar section, 'The Letter to Laodicea'.
  26. ^ Jules Dervaes, letter to Gerald Flurry, September 26, 1990.
  27. ^ PCG Information, sidebar section, 'Letter to Laodicea v. Malachi's Message'.
  28. ^ "Stephen Flurry, Raising the Ruins, Our Big Day, Pages 223-224"
  29. ^ Stephen Flurry, Raising the Ruins, page 220"
  30. ^ L. A. Mystery of the Ages suit transcript in full, The Journal: News of the Churches of God, March 1997.
  31. ^ Ambassador Report, May 1997, 'Flurry Wins Big in Court'. Retrieved 20-1-2009.
  32. ^ Worldwide Church of God v. Philadelphia Church of God, Case number 99-55850, September 18, 2000, PCG Information.
  33. ^ Ralph Helge, lawyer for WCG, quoted in PCG Information, heading 'Court Case Lost'.
  34. ^ [2] PCG Information, 'Forced Settlement'.
  35. ^ December 10, 2005 Pastor General's Report, pp. 3-5.
  36. ^ http://www.pcog.info/Sermons.htm
  37. ^ PCG Information, sidebar section 'Disfellowshiping'
  38. ^ a b c Dixon Cartwright, 'PCG Clarifies Disfollowship Policy, Gives Main Purpose of Church: The Need to Expose Satan', The Journal: News of the Churches of God, January 2006.
  39. ^ Gerald Flurry, Pastor's General Report, December 10, 2005, pp. 1-2, PCG Information.
  40. ^ PCG's "No Contact" Policy
  41. ^ "Philadelphia Church of God: Part One". KOKH. FOX. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  42. ^ "Philadelphia Church of God: Part Two". KOKH. FOX. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  43. ^ Flurry, Gerald. "PCG tells Fox25: "You cannot stop our message."". The Philadelphia Church of God. Philadelphia Church of God. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 

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