Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The "MAFIA" Apostle!
Does a man who follows people down darkened streets in a black sedan sound like "apostle" material to you? How about selling stolen property with the reasoning that "if you don't know where it comes from it's not wrong"? Do you think the Messiah would choose a man who associates with criminals and hit men? Learn the astounding truth about the Pappageorge connection and the illegal activities at the Church commissary! Discover the "Mafia connection" in Joseph Tkach's family and read about the "pseudo-gangland" style Tkach has maintained ever since! You will be astounded and appalled by the Earl Timmons' revelations and the manner in which this "mafia apostle" has abused and intimidated elderly in the Church of God.
by John D. Keyser
Burning rubber for half a block, the black Plymouth Fury catapulted into the night leaving Jack standing there on the sidewalk with an incredulous look on his face. Shouldering his unloaded shotgun, Jack turned and made his way back to his friend's apartment, shaking his head in disbelief. "This can't be for real," he thought to himself, "it just can't be."
Does this sound like a scene from a grade "c" movie -- a typical "Al Capone" gangland style scenario? Well, guess again! This was "for real" and actually occurred -- it was a REAL LIFE incident involving none other than the so-called "apostle of Christ" Joseph W. Tkach -- as one of the lead actors!
To get the BACKGROUND on this incredible scene, let's go to the March, 1989 issue of Ambassador Report:
Quite a few people that I talked to told stories about Tkach's PSEUDO-GANGLAND STYLE. But there is one incident, in particular, that stands out in this regard. Jack and Rick (not their real names) were two Ambassador College (AC) graduates of the class of 1970. Like a lot of AC alumni since then, they found their unaccredited Ambassador degrees virtually worthless in obtaining meaningful employment, their insistence on strict Sabbath-keeping also cost them many job opportunities, and so both went through very hard times after AC. For Jack, the years 1970-73 were spent in mere subsistence-level jobs, alternated with periods of unemployment. In mid-1973 Jack was just getting by on the little he earned as a night-time liquor store clerk. Although he had tithed faithfully for years, there were few "blessings" to show for it. His clothes were old, he had no car, and then he lost his apartment. Rick, who had not long before gotten a job as a pressman at the Ambassador College Press, heard of Jack's situation, and, being a generous fellow, told Jack he could sleep on his living room sofa and share what little he had until he got back on his feet.
Discovering Doctrinal Error
During the few months that Jack was staying at Rick's place there was much happening in the WCG. Numerous church theologians were circulating papers showing that there were SERIOUS ERRORS in many Armstrong teachings. Jack, a zealous Bible student, became convinced that church leaders he had supported loyally for years were WRONG ON MANY KEY DOCTRINES and that wrong teachings and policies were destroying the lives of thousands in the church. In November, he heard church founder Herbert W. Armstrong tell a congregation that he would NEVER CHANGE HIS TEACHING ON DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE (actually, he later did when he decided to marry a divorcee) and that anyone who didn't agree with him had no business sitting in WCG services. Jack agreed; it was the last WCG service he ever attended. It was about the time that outspoken WCG pastor Al Carrozzo resigned from the WCG and started his own local congregation in Pasadena. Jack attended a few of Carrozzo's church meetings and was REPORTED to WCG headquarters by CHURCH SPIES (yes, the WCG has them).
The Knock on the Door
John Trechak, in the Ambassador Report, relates what occurred next:
On a Monday evening in early 1974, Jack answered a knock on the door only to find himself nose to nose with Tkach and, standing behind him, an associate named Elmer. "We've come to talk to you, Jack. It'll only take a few minutes," said Tkach. Jack wasn't feeling very sociable. For the last few weeks he had been hearing stories of how Herbert Armstrong had KNOWN for many years that his MARRIAGE-DESTROYING DOCTRINES WERE IN ERROR, but for EGO reasons had REFUSED to change them. Jack had also learned that for years Herbert's evangelist son, Garner Ted Armstrong (GTA) had SEDUCED DOZENS OF AMBASSADOR COEDS AND MINISTERS' WIVES yet was still allowed to continue as church spokesman on radio and television. But besides having all that on his mind, Jack could see in Tkach's bloodshot eyes that Tkach really wasn't interested in his concerns about the church or in his personal problems. Tkach only needed "a few minutes" because he had come to subject Jack to the "knuckle under or be disfellowshipped" ritual. Jack thought, "If anyone needs to be THROWN OUT OF THE CHURCH, it's HWA, GTA, and GOONS LIKE TKACH." Jack didn't move out of the doorway but looked Tkach in the eye and said, "I'm busy and you didn't make an appointment." A startled Tkach could only stammer, "But Jack, it'll only take a few minutes." "Good night!" said Jack, as he shut the door in Tkach's face.
The Big Black Car
What happened next was extraordinary to say the least something reminiscent of Chicago in the 1920s!
Rick, who had overheard the brief conversation from the next room, said, "You know, if you leave here tonight, TKACH WILL BE WAITING OUTSIDE FOR YOU. He's not used to being talked to that way." When Jack responded that he thought the suggestion was silly, Rick pointed to the guncase in the corner of the room -- a case that held a double-barreled, twelve-gauge shotgun. "Look," said Rick, "don't load the gun, but take it with you. When they stop you, they'll see it, and it'll give them a good scare."
Jack thought Rick was letting his imagination run amuk, "but what the heck," he thought. "Maybe Rick knows something I don't; it might give us a laugh." He waited ten minutes, then hung the guncase containing the shotgun over his right shoulder. He exited the building, turned left, walked twenty yards and, not seeing anyone, went back to Rick's apartment feeling very foolish for listening to Rick. But Rick was adamant. "No! No! I'm sure they're out there!" he yelled. "You should have turned to the right. They're out there waiting for you. I just know it!"
"Okay, okay," said Jack, rolling his eyes. "Just to show you what a nut you are, I'll go back out there." Jack walked out the door, again with the sheathed gun hanging from his right shoulder. This time he turned to the right. Halfway down the darkened street, he HEARD A CAR ENGINE START UP somewhere behind him. Then over his left shoulder he noticed a BLACK PLYMOUTH FURY SLOWLY FOLLOWING HIM. He walked a little faster. THE CAR SPED UP. Suddenly, as he approached a driveway, THE BLACK SEDAN SURGED FORWARD and pulled to the right, PARTLY BLOCKING HIS PATH. Before even coming to a complete stop the car's back door was swung open by a push from a SHADOWY FIGURE IN THE FRONT PASSENGER SEAT.
IT WAS TKACH. In an angry and authoritative voice, he COMMANDED, "Get in Jack! Right now!" The thought flashed through Jack's mind that maybe he had made a mistake in not loading the shotgun. Jack glowered at Tkach and told him firmly, "No one's FORCING ME into any car. No one!" Jack instinctively reached for the strap on the guncase. But then as the shotgun slid down into better view, Tkach screamed out in panic to his driver, "It's a gun, Elmer! Get out of here!" Elmer's foot hit the gas peddle like it was made out of solid lead. BURNING RUBBER FOR HALF A BLOCK, THE BLACK FURY SPED AWAY INTO THE NIGHT.
This is not the end of the story -- Tkach, apparently, got the last laugh: "Back at the apartment Jack and Rick had a good laugh. The next day Tkach never called for an appointment, but HE HAD ELMER PHONE. And Elmer told Rick that if he didn't IMMEDIATELY order Jack out of the apartment, he'd be FIRED FROM HIS JOB. That evening Jack, penniless, found himself literally on the street."
Actions of an "Apostle"?
What an absolutely incredible story! What sort of man is this? Does this sound like the actions of a minister of YEHOVAH God -- a SUPPOSEDLY CONVERTED man? It sounds to me more like a THUG WITH A GANGSTER FIXATION! And this man is now the so-called "apostle of Christ"? Is this the sort of man the Messiah would have shepherding his flock? I see no evidence in the New Testament that the disciples or apostles went around in the DARK OF NIGHT frightening and coercing people! I see no evidence that those the Messiah called to be witnesses of his life and resurrection attempted to strip the livelihood from those who didn't "toe the line"! Just in whose footsteps is this man Tkach following?
Right after Herbert Armstrong's death in 1986, Tkach pledged that he would "follow in Mr. Armstrong's footsteps." With a background like this it sounds more to me like he's following in Al Capone's footsteps! Unbelievable!! Ask yourself, are these the actions of a man of YEHOVAH God? If you answer in the affirmative then stop right here -- you're wasting your time reading the rest of this article!
Tkach the Fence
Stories abound that Tkach MISAPPROPRIATED THIRD TITHE FUNDS for his personal use, and FENCED STOLEN PROPERTY! There is even evidence that he had dealings with a NUMBER OF CRIMINALS, INCLUDING PROFESSIONAL HIT MEN! Allegations concerning the third tithe fund are covered in my article, Is Joseph Tkach an Apostle of Christ? But what about these other stories? Let John Trechak outline them in the December, 1989 Ambassador Report:
The allegation about Tkach having once been a FENCE was contained in a Feb.1, 1981 telex from WCG attorney Stanley Rader to church founder Herbert W. Armstrong. As I have quoted in past issues, Rader's exact words were:
"With respect to Joe Tkach, I recommended him. Although I did know about his connection with Mr. and Mrs. Timmons (two of the relators in the lawsuit), I did not find out the full details about his ILLEGAL FENCING ACTIVITIES until they surfaced recently when we were preparing our civil rights case. He is obviously NOT the man I recommended to you and I apologize for my error in judgment."
Rader is NOT THE ONLY ONE who has made such allegations. It was in January 1979, as I waited to be interviewed for a TV news segment about the WCG receivership, that Earl Timmons first mentioned to me how Tkach had KNOWINGLY DEALT IN STOLEN PROPERTY. Whether the item was a refrigerator for a church member or gold rings for his daughter Tanya's wedding, Tkach apparently had NO QUALMS about buying or selling goods that his friends warned him were STOLEN. According to Timmons' wife, Shirley, Tkach would rationalize such dealings by saying, "If you don't know where it comes from it's not wrong." (Ambassador Report, December 1989).
I wonder what Bible Joseph Tkach reads -- it's obviously one I've never seen! I'm beginning to wonder if Tkach EVER opens his Bible -- PERIOD! If he does, it must be only to read the "Mafia Code of Honor" pasted to the inside of the front cover!! It just boggles my mind to think that people who are aware of this man's past activities (and maybe present activities as well) can CONTINUE to follow him! It speaks VOLUMES for their conversion, as well as his own.
Pappageorge and Associates
Now, what about Tkach's alleged association with CRIMINALS AND PROFESSIONAL HIT MEN? Is there any substance to this? Is the image of an "Apostle" with lots of gangland friends really valid, and not the figment of someone's overactive imagination? According to the Ambassador Report, there is "one man who answers unequivocally in the AFFIRMATIVE."
Earl Timmons is probably one of the more colorful characters to have ever passed through the Worldwide Church of God. Convicted of burglary in 1954, he became a Church member in the early sixties and, during the early seventies, was a successful plumbing contractor in the Pasadena, California area. He was a VERY CLOSE FRIEND AND CONFIDANT OF JOSEPH TKACH from 1969 through 1978. The two were reportedly SO CLOSE they would get together almost DAILY over coffee. Timmons' wife Shirley was also close to the Tkach family, and was one of the Church women who took care of Tkach's "ailing" wife for many years.
In the course of his plumbing business, Timmons came to know many businessmen in the greater Los Angeles area. One of his contacts was GEORGE PAPPAGEORGE who owned a service station and U-Haul rental business at Rosemead and Colorado Boulevards in Pasadena. Earl Timmons reveals, however, that Pappageorge was not really a legitimate businessman, but the CENTRAL FIGURE IN A MAJOR CRIME RING. Timmons further alleges that Pappageorge and his associates "were INVOLVED IN BURGLARY, ROBBERY, AND INTERSTATE TRAFFICKING IN STOLEN CARS AND OTHER MERCHANDISE," with the U-Haul business offering a convenient cover for the movement of STOLEN GOODS AND CONTRABAND throughout the country.
Kidnapping and Conspiracy
Court records show that Timmons' allegations should NOT be thought of as fantasy. George Pappageorge and two accomplices, KENNETH CASPER MORAN and SIDNEY BARTOLOTTA, were convicted in 1974 on MULTIPLE COUNTS OF KIDNAPPING (AT GUNPOINT), ROBBERY, BURGLARY, AND CONSPIRACY. One of the kidnapping victims (of the three separate kidnappings listed in the original indictment) was Donovan Hargens, then owner of Don's Market in Pasadena. Pappageorge and Moran were convicted on all counts with MORAN GOING TO FOLSOM PRISON AND "PAPPY" GOING TO SAN QUENTIN.
Reading through the huge file on the case [People v. Moran, et al., files A309048 and HC204116 -- Los Angeles County Superior Court], one is struck by the large number of individuals that were involved. One of Pappageorge's accomplices was RON HAYWARD, described in one affidavit as a volatile, violent, and psychotic individual whose main goal in life was to BECOME A SUCCESSFUL HIT MAN (a goal Timmons fears Hayward has achieved). At some point during the police investigation of the kidnappings, Hayward turned state's evidence and somehow implicated Timmons. Timmons, in turn, was granted immunity from prosecution when he fingered Pappageorge.
The court records I have seen do not implicate Timmons in any of the more violent activities of the ring. For instance, he was not an accomplice in any of the kidnappings. But, by his own admission under oath, Timmons was involved in one highly unusual escapade with Pappageorge. In 1972, as the police began to move in on the ring, Pappageorge hastily called Timmons to a private meeting. He told Timmons that the police had just searched the home of Moran's wife and he thought his place of business would be searched next. Pappageorge, a demolition expert missing a few fingers because he wasn't expert enough, told Timmons that at his garage there was a carload of contraband explosives that he wanted moved. It is unclear from the records I have seen whether the TNT and dynamite were stolen, intended for safe cracking, or worse. But there was a lot of it -- about a quarter ton or enough to blow up a city block. Timmons got the explosives, destroyed some by dilution, and finally dumped the rest in the mountains north of Pasadena. (Ambassador Report, December 1989).
Although the court records do not show Timmons to be involved in the violent activities of the gang, affidavits in the criminal records archives of Los Angeles contain allegations by former accomplices of Pappageorge that, in the seventies, Timmons illegally purchased and carried a handgun, used various names, and attempted to bribe friends into committing perjury.
Close Friends of Tkach
The records at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse clearly reveal that Pappageorge and his many "friends" were up to their eyebrows in a VERY WIDE RANGE OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES. Yet -- and this is quite astounding -- George Pappageorge and his accomplice Kenny Moran were VERY CLOSE FRIENDS OF FUTURE "APOSTLE" JOSEPH TKACH! Earl Timmons reveals that HE WAS THE ONE WHO INTRODUCED TKACH TO PAPPAGEORGE. From that time on, according to Timmons, Tkach spent A LOT OF TIME SOCIALLY with Pappageorge and Moran. You might ask, "why would a minister of YEHOVAH God spend time with a bunch of known hoods?" According to Timmons, "Joe just liked them. He'd go out to restaurants with them and he liked their company."
Amazing! This should bring to mind Proverbs 12:26: "The RIGHTEOUS should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray." I believe its true you can generally judge a man by the company he keeps!
The Crown City Commissary
The extent of Tkach's dealings with the Pappageorge-Moran gang is speculative and difficult to nail down. However, a number of questions come to mind in light of WCG attorney Stanley Rader's statement that Tkach once engaged in "illegal fencing activities." During the early seventies, the Church started a Pasadena-based discount store for its members in the Southern California area. Using the name "Crown City Commissary," this store was under the wing of pastor Al Carrozzo who saw it as an ideal way to give something back to the WCG members. But when Carrozzo left the Church in late 1973, the vacuum created by his departure was filled by none other than JOSEPH TKACH.
According to John Trechak: "Some now wonder if Tkach was FENCING THROUGH THE COMMISSARY. They recall how the Commissary often had on sale, for VERY LOW PRICES, huge lots of some items (sporting goods, for instance) for which there was VERY LITTLE DEMAND among church members.
Some also remember how the Commissary was ABRUPTLY SHUT DOWN in mid-1974 amid RUMORS THAT "HOT STUFF" WAS BEING SOLD THERE." Former WCG minister Howard Clark remembers how "in early 1974 Timmons (who had been a contractor for the remodeling of the Commissary building) told him he was PROVIDING TKACH'S COMMISSARY WITH 'MERCHANDISE.'" Timmons denies he did anything illegal in those days, but IT IS VERY NOTICEABLE he does not make the same denial for Pappageorge and TKACH.
Using His Influence
Nor do Tkach's "SEEDY" ACTIVITIES stop here. WCG evangelist Gerald Waterhouse has circulated some "wild stories" throughout the Church that should make a thinking person wonder.
According to Waterhouse, during the 1979 WCG crisis when the State of California investigated the Church and installed Judge Steven Wiseman as a receiver over its operations, Joseph Tkach was reportedly IN CONTACT WITH TWO INMATES OF JOLIET PRISON who offered him the services of a HIT MAN. John Trechak elaborates on this story:
Although Waterhouse is probably wrong about a detail or two (like the name of a prison), the story may ACTUALLY BE TRUE. At LEAST one man, Earl Timmons, believes Waterhouse. Timmons told me that in 1979, when the State of California versus Worldwide suit was in progress, he was informed by a DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL that Tkach was USING HIS INFLUENCE to assist in the release of KENNETH MORAN from Folsom Prison and GEORGE PAPPAGEORGE from San Quentin. Affidavits in the Los Angeles archives reveal that for some time Timmons was convinced Pappageorge had taken a CONTRACT OUT ON HIS LIFE. Finding out in 1979 that TKACH WANTED PAPPAGEORGE AND MORAN RELEASED only exacerbated those fears. For in 1979, as a relator in the state's action against Worldwide, and as one who KNEW MUCH ABOUT TKACH'S PAST, Timmons FEARED TKACH would gain much if Pappageorge was successful in getting revenge. Timmons quickly sold his Pasadena home and immediately moved out of the Southern California area. He has made himself very difficult to find ever since.
Pappageorge and Moran have since been released from prison, and Timmons evidently remains extremely concerned about his personal safety.
What sort of man is this who counts HOODS AND THUGS as his friends, and who has the audacity to call himself THE "apostle of Christ"? What an AFFRONT AND ABOMINATION to our Lord and Saviour!!
Is the Past a "Key" to the Future?
Is there anything in Tkach's past that would lead to this propensity for, and fixation on, "Mafioso" type friends and associates? According to Ken Nagele -- a former WCG member who once worked for Tkach -- the pastor general "used to kid about his old MAFIA connections." He even went so far as to have a "Mafia Staff Car" bumper sticker on the BLACK SEDAN he used in visiting Church members. In order to uncover information on Tkach's background in this respect, John Trechak of the Ambassador Report started phoning around to see if any of Tkach's in-laws could provide some insight.
Using the Chicago phone directory, I began phoning people with the name Apostolos -- the maiden name of Tkach's wife. I reached a man named MIKE APOSTOLOS. When I asked if he knew an Elaine Tkach (Joe's wife), he answered in a low voice, "She's my sistah." Apostolos spoke with a slow gruffness reminiscent of CONVICT CHARACTERS in 1930s gangster movies. But he was quite open about his life and background. He said he was 77 years old, not married, a WCG MEMBER, and was considered by some to be senile ("that's what they tell me"). He explained how both his parents had been of Greek ancestry and how his father had been a strict disciplinarian. He also said he had SPENT 19 YEARS OF HIS LIFE IN PONTIAC PRISON. When I asked for further details, he would only say he didn't like to discuss his past crimes.
Although John Trechak couldn't get this claim verified by prison officials, TWO former WCG members, who knew both Apostolos and Tkach in the early sixties, say Apostolos was convicted of armed robbery and served a prison sentence in Indiana.
Apostolos sounded contrite about his past mistakes, yet there seemed to be a residue of certain old values. At one point he said, "MY FATHER WAS MAFIA. HE KNEW ALFONS." Naturally, I asked "Alfons who?" His reply was , "ALFONS CAPONE. MY FATHER AND ALFONS WERE GOOD FRIENDS." Not knowing how to react to such talk, I commented, somewhat awkwardly, how, over the years, I had read a few books about the Mafia's history and was aware of their so-called "code of honor." Apostolos' voice became animated: "Yeah, if you treat the Mafia good, the Mafia treats you good. In prison the Mafia treated me real good."
Apostolos then mentioned that "When I was in prison he [Tkach] used to ALWAYS visit me." Did Tkach meet any of these Mafia inmates during his visits to see his brother-in-law? While it can't be proved, it's worth thinking about! At some juncture, as a member of the Worldwide Church of God, Tkach gained a reputation as a man WITH CONTACTS IN ORGANIZED CRIME. One ex-member of WCG stated, "I seem to recall it was Alan Manteufel [a WCG minister] who started that rumor." Unfortunately Manteufel died in 1978 -- from alcoholism, some say.
So, in all likelihood, Joseph Tkach developed this "FIXATION" for gangster types through his wife's family. John Trechak notes that, "Whether it was because of Tkach's visits to his imprisoned brother-in-law, or because of a overactive imagination on the part of Manteufel or someone else, the rumor of TKACH'S MAFIA CONNECTIONS became widely accepted as FACT in WCG circles. As for Tkach, not only did he MAKE NO EFFORT TO DISPEL THE RUMOR, HE ENCOURAGED IT."
Growing Up In the Ghetto?
In sermons, Tkach and some of his "true blue" ministers have fostered the tough, "gangster" image by concocting the idea that the pastor general grew up in a rough, lower-class neighborhood of Chicago. Here, it is asserted, Tkach had to learn the "skills" necessary for survival. Tkach himself jokingly claimed that he wanted to learn the violin as a child, but was unable to because carrying violin cases in his part of Chicago had gangland connotations.
But, as the TRUTH would have it, Tkach's neighborhood was far from the rough and ready place he portrays it as. In asking a number of people from this area, John Trechak discovered that "the area west of Gage Park, where Tkach grew up, is NOT the rough and tumble 'Back of the Yards' area of South Chicago! Nor is it Cicero where the Capone gang was once centered!" According to Trechak, "Father Semkoff, of St. Peter and St. Paul, told me that the neighborhood where Tkach grew up had always been, and still is, clean, quiet, and free of gang violence." This is corroborated by former WCG minister Art Mokarow, who grew up in the same area at the same time as Tkach. "Business people and educators familiar with that part of Chicago and its history all told me the same thing. Most said it still is a quiet neighborhood. And when I commented to Tkach's sister, Mrs. Bregin, that I had heard that she and her brother had grown up in a rough part of town, she replied INCREDULOUSLY, "No way! Who could ever have said that?" I didn't have the heart to tell her it was her brother and some of his fellow ministers." (Ambassador Report, March 1989).
Any thinking (and converted) Christian must surely find this behavior of the so-called "apostle of Christ" totally OBNOXIOUS and FAR REMOVED from the conduct the Messiah would expect from a servant of his. A former WCG minister, Lawson O. Price, put it very succinctly: "...the "thug" mentality used to subjugate the members during Tkach's ascension to power [is] sickening. Where is the CONCERN, LOVE, if you will, of these PRETENDERS in the ministry?...How can they even mention the word FAITH in a sermon without WAVES OF REMORSE coming over them?..."
Excommunicating the Elderly
Consider the case of Garnet H. Hill. Mr. Hill was an elderly gentleman who attended the Miami, Florida congregation of the Worldwide Church of God during the 1970s.
In 1970, following a letter from headquarters in Pasadena requesting donations to help tide the church over a period of alleged poor income, Mr. Hill faithfully complied. Even though he was short on cash and his wife was dying of cancer, Mr. Hill sold off some property and presented the local minister, Mr. Curtis, with $20,000 of the proceeds.
Mr. Curtis didn't give him a receipt at the time, and whenever Mr. Hill requested one he was told not to worry about it. This went on for a number of years until Mr. Hill became suspicious and contacted headquarters in Pasadena.
In a letter dated 11-9-73, Bob Seelig of the Accounting Department wrote Mr. Hill DENYING RECEIPT OF THE DONATION:
We have checked all our donation records and other sources of information. There seems to be no knowledge or record here of your donation. Perhaps you could give us more complete information about your gift.
After YEARS of trying to resolve the problem, Mr. Hill finally realized that he was NOT dealing with men who practice Christian principles. In 1977 -- SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE DONATION -- he received a letter from Benton Nesmith of the church's legal department stating:
The purpose of this letter is to let you know that we recently succeeded, after a protracted effort, in obtaining $5,000.00 for the Church. This represents a portion of the funds from the sale of your lots which were not sent to headquarters.
That was it regarding the missing money, no explanation, no mention of the other $15,000! Naturally, that was totally unsatisfactory, and Mr. Hill continued to ask questions, expecting, in all good faith, that the problem would be corrected.
Suddenly, the day after Pentecost in 1980, the new minister, Al Kersha (Mr. Curtis had been moved to another area), called Mr. Hill ON THE PHONE and summarily informed him he was DISFELLOWSHIPPED. This was absolutely devastating to Mr. Hill, who by this time, was well over 80 years of age and legally blind. Suddenly, he found himself all alone with no family or friends. (His wife had since died of cancer). Now, I ask you, HOW'S THAT FOR CHRISTIAN LOVE AND CONCERN?
Mr. Hill's Appeal
To protest his excommunication and the OBVIOUS THEFT AND SUBSEQUENT COVER UP of his 1970 donation, Mr. Hill appealed directly to Herbert W. Armstrong, who either never received the letter personally or turned it over to JOSEPH TKACH. Here is Mr. Hill's letter to Herbert Armstrong -- word for word:
February 10, 1981. Dear Mr. Armstrong: I was put out of the church for TELLING THE TRUTH. I am 87 years old and can hardly see.
In 1970 I rec'd your letter how bad the church needed money, my wife had cancer and I didn't have much cash. but I did own six lots so I gave those to the church. The lots sold for $30,000.00. I got $10,000.00 and $20,000.00 was to go to the church.
I GOT NO RECEIPT. I ask Mr Curtis [minister of the Miami congregation at the time] and he said don't worry about it. He kept telling me the same thing. AFTER A LONG TIME I wrote pasidena about the $20,000.00. THEY NEVER REC'D IT.
This is when my troubles started because I started asking what happened to the 20,000.00. I WAS TOLD TO KEEP QUIET. I was told to keep quiet and told don't talk about it. You said it was a SIN TO COVER UP A SIN. I HAVE BEEN MISTREATED BECAUSE I WOULD NOT COVER UP.
Last Penticost Mrs. Witte [a church member] ask me about the problem. I told her I felt terrible about the COVER UP. She said I don't believe a word you said. The next day Mr. Kersha [the local minister in 1981] called on the phone and said "You ARE NOT WELCOME, I am putting you out of the church for going around telling people about it." I was standing by the wall. SHE CAME TO ME. MR. KERSHA WOULD NOT LET ME TELL HIM TRUTH. Mrs. Witte saught me out I did not seek her.
My friends no longer call me. Someone someone must have SPREAD EVIL ABOUT ME. I am not the one that had done evil. Mr. Pierson [Bill Pearson - a deacon later promoted to local elder] has not liked me because I would not sell him my deceased wife rings for $700.00. After I had already had them appraised for 1850.00 at House of Diamonds of Miami. He got angry at me because I turned them into the church. Mr. Armstrong I ask you WHO DID THE WRONG? I am enclosing some letter so you can see that I am telling the truth. WHY HAVE ALL THE MINISTERS TREATED ME LIKE I WAS THE THIEFT?
Mr. Waterhouse did not bother me. Mr. Pierson Mr. Curtis Mr. Reyes [Camilo P. Reyes -- the assistant minister] Mr. Brady [Ira K. Brady -- a deacon; later promoted] and Mr. Kersha all have tried to make me COVER UP THE STOLEN 20,000.00 They told me to KEEP QUIET AND NOT TALK ABOUT THE THIEFT. Mr. Armstrong I am getting alone in years and am angry and LONELY since being put out of the church and TREATED LIKE A THIEFT.
I want to know if you approve of the way I have been treated? Please let me know. God knows the truth.
The Letter of "Love"
As I mentioned earlier, this letter ended up in Joseph Tkach's hands to expedite. And how did he handle this matter? We would assume that Mr. Tkach -- as a man of YEHOVAH God -- would handle this in a Messiah-like and loving manner, right? WRONG! This is what Mr. Hill received from the office of Joseph W. Tkach:
Dear Mr. Hill: Your letter was forwarded to me by Mr. Hunsberger of the personal correspondence department. I have REVIEWED OUR FILES and received additional information regarding the background of your situation FROM OTHER PEOPLE IN OUR LEGAL DEPARTMENT AND MAIL PROCESSING CENTER. I feel I understand what happened.
Also, I HAVE VERIFIED WITH MR. KERSHA the circumstances leading up to your being disfellowshipped. After all this review, my conclusion is that Mr. Kersha has performed this duty as God would have him to.
It is regrettable that the sale of your property was MISHANDLED like it was, but you must come to realize that THE PEOPLE INVOLVED HAVE REPENTED of their wrong doing. When God forgives he forgets. YOU MUST LEARN TO DO THE SAME. Mr. Kersha had given you several warnings about talking against the ministry of the church. You shouldn't have continued to harbor this ill will.
The action of being disfellowshipped is used to show you the gravity of your sin -- unwillingness to forgive and forget. Upon PROPER REPENTANCE Mr. Kersha would be very happy to welcome you back to the church -- with open arms. It's my sincere hope that you will be able to return.
What an incredible letter! And this from a man who is now the "apostle" of the Messiah! If this man is an "apostle" of the Messiah, then I want nothing to do with the "Messiah" this man represents! Tkach and the other men involved must have felt awfully insecure if a man in his eighties -- who was legally blind to boot -- posed a threat to them.
Let's analyze Tkach's letter. If Joseph Tkach was following the rule of love and following the commands of the YEHOVAH God he claims to represent, then he would have handled this quite differently.
One thing really stands out in this letter -- Tkach consulted everybody (legal department, mail processing center, Mr. Kersha) -- everybody EXCEPT Mr. Hill HIMSELF! And why the legal department? Will the Messiah consult with the church's legal department when he makes his judgment? If Joseph Tkach was striving to OBEY YEHOVAH GOD he would have applied Matthew 18:15-17: "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, JUST BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, TAKE ONE OR TWO OTHERS ALONG, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, TELL IT TO THE CHURCH; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a PAGAN OR A TAX COLLECTOR." Mr. Hill tried this and got thrown out of the church for his efforts!
Notice, please, that the passage says NOTHING ABOUT DISFELLOWSHIPPING THE OFFENDER -- it says "treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector," in other words, avoid VOLUNTARY association with him. Also note II Thes.3:14-15: "If anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. AND YET DO NOT BE CONSIDERING HIM AS AN ENEMY, BUT CONTINUE ADMONISHING HIM AS A BROTHER." To continue "admonishing him as a brother" one would obviously have to make contact with him!
All this, of course, presupposes that Mr. Hill was guilty of an "offense" -- when, in fact, the only thing he was "guilty" of was trying to find out what happened to his stolen money and NOT cover the crime up as some wanted him to do. Mr. Hill was familiar with Isaiah 58:1 which says: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet; ANNOUNCE TO MY PEOPLE THEIR TRANSGRESSION and to the house of Jacob their sins."
It is abundantly clear that Joseph Tkach followed none of the scriptural advice recommended by Paul, but instead consulted with the legal department, et al, and NEVER even talked personally with Mr. Hill about the problem.
Secondly, if the "people involved" had truly repented, why didn't they come to Mr. Hill PERSONALLY and AT LEAST APOLOGIZE for the way they had treated him and the suffering they caused him? And Joseph Tkach, as Director of Ministerial Services, should have AT LEAST apologized to Mr. Hill ON BEHALF of those men who had treated him so shabbily over the years. But there is no sign of any apology in Tkach's letter -- no humbleness, NO LOVE. Just an overbearing and threatening attitude of self-righteousness and conceit. You can see here how the threat of disfellowshipment is used as a TOOL OF FEAR to keep control of the church. Read John 9:1-22 for a New Testament parallel.
Joseph Tkach knew that Mr. Hill was blind, very elderly and lived all alone. If this so-called "minister" of the Messiah was the man he was supposed to be he would have DIRECTED Mr. Kersha or someone else in the Miami congregation to call on Mr. Hill to see how he was doing, or if he had food in his house. WHY DID HE NEGLECT TO DO THIS? Read what Yeshua the Messiah thinks of this appalling neglect in Matthew 25:31-46.
The Second Appeal
Mr. Hill wrote back, addressing the letter to Herbert Armstrong again:
Dear Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. I appeal direct to you. I wrote you a personal letter in Feb. tell you how I was put out of the church for TELLING THE TRUTH when people asked me about the local minister STEALING $20,000.00 donation I gave to the church. I wrote per- sonal on your envelope but it was answered by Mr. Tkach. Mr. Tkach got your mail and answered telling me to repent and that Mr. Kersha was doing God's work right. I will be welcomed back to the church when I will COVER UP for the thieves that STOLE THE CHURCH MONEY. I have not harmed anyone. I AM TREATED LIKE A THIEF AND TOLD TO REPENT. I worked for the money many years. Mr. Tkach said the thieves had repented. I heard MR. CURTIS left the church. HOW DID HE REPENT? [A VERY good question]. The local men that helped him have NEVER ADMITTED doing wrong to me. The NEW ministers have ordered me to COVER UP AND DON'T TALK about it. Mr. Waterhouse did not order me to cover up.
I am 88 years old and have been MISTREATED FOR ALMOST TEN YEARS over this. I am treated like a thieft. Mr. Armstrong will you EXPOSE the thieves?
I await your reply, Garnet H. Hill.
In reply to this Mr. Hill received a terse letter from David G. Hunsberger of the church's Personal Correspondence Department:
Dear Mr. Hill: I'm writing to let you know that your letter of May 5, protesting your disfellowshipment from the Worldwide Church of God, has arrived at Mr. Armstrong's office.
Since you mentioned receiving a letter on this subject from Mr. Tkach, I will explain that he is Mr. Armstrong's assistant supervising the Ministerial Services office.
Mr Armstrong often refers matters to Mr. Tkach and other assistants, where appropriate, for handling on his behalf.
THIS WAS THE LAST LETTER IN ANSWER TO MR. HILL'S APPEALS.
To CONFIRM the church's REAL attitude and concern (and Joseph Tkach's for that matter) Mr. Hill received this letter ten days before his death:
Dear Mr. Hill: I review our Will files periodically in order to update them. And, I recently reviewed the copy of your Will, executed in 1974, which names the College as your beneficiary.
Would you please advise whether this Will is still in effect. Your response will be appreciated and will aid us in keeping our files updated. Very sincerely yours, Benton Nesmith.
Isn't this a sad story? Can you believe that ministers of the living God would treat a man in this fashion? This man, this Director of Ministerial Services, this "minister of God" is now the pastor general and "apostle" of the Worldwide Church of God. All I can say is, YEHOVAH God help those in the WCG because, frankly, with a man like this at the helm they need all the help they can get!
Does Tkach Read the Bible?
As well as the scriptures mentioned above, has Joseph W. Tkach EVER read the book of Proverbs? This book is FULL of advice regarding relationships: "Do not be ENVIOUS of evil men, nor DESIRE to be with them; for their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking." (Proverbs 24:1-2). Or, "Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge." (Proverbs 14:7).
Joseph Tkach, TAKE NOTE: "The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the WICKED WILL ROT. The wise in heart will receive commands, but a PRATING FOOL will fall. He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who PERVERTS HIS WAYS WILL BECOME KNOWN." (Proverbs 10:7-9). MARK WELL THESE WORDS!!
To those in the Worldwide Church of God who read this article YEHOVAH God says: "My son, fear the Lord and the king; DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH THOSE GIVEN TO CHANGE; for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin THOSE TWO can bring?" (Proverbs 24:21-27). In a recent letter I received, the comment was made: "We have to agree that the COMBINATION OF TKACH AND HOEH might prove the end of the WCG." The RUIN a man with gangster associations and attitudes, and a man who dabbles in the OCCULT AND EASTERN RELIGIONS, could bring to the Worldwide Church of God would be devastating!
TAKE HEED, MY FRIENDS, BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!
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