I have some exciting news! You may have heard it already via "the grapevine." I announced this a week ago Friday night at Bible Study here in Pasadena, and things announced here seem to spread at lightning speed over the United States and Canada. These announcements received a thunderous applause here.
First, whenever Garner Ted or I visit one of the churches away from Headquarters, the question almost everybody asks is: "WHEN are we going to be able to receive the television program of The WORLD TOMORROW here in our area?" Well, Brethren, THIS is the year when we must expand our television coverage to blanket all markets over the entire United States — IF we are to finish the present phase of God's Work before the Great Tribulation stops us. We already have coverage in nearly every major market in Canada.
THIS is the year when, if ever, we MUST reach all the rest of the world. I wrote you a few days ago about plans for opening the Work in Japan. Recently we have been reaching the Scandinavian countries through double-page advertising space in Reader's Digest. The response has been very good.
We are now on the air in MEXICO CITY for the first time. They now claim a population of 8 million in Mexico City. We are on the ONLY English-language station there, with Garner Ted Armstrong's half-hour programs at a prime time seven nights a week. Response so far is JUST GREAT!
But, if we are to expand the TV coverage we must IMMEDIATELY build the larger permanent studios to produce the program. Up to now the TV program has been produced in a make-shift temporary quarters in an old building scheduled soon to be torn down. We have been terribly cramped for space there. We have been producing a very fine program — but until we can have the expanded facilities in the much larger permanent building, we cannot produce the kind of PERFECTION the program must attain — if we are to get the NATIONAL COVERAGE necessary to finish GOD'S WORK for this time.
Here is MORE EXCITING NEWS!
Just the other morning we held a most important conference with four of the top executives of one of the major firms of building contractors in southern California, here in our Hall of Administration. We are planning, now, to RESUME our long-postponed BUILDING PROGRAM — including the new TV studios.
Also, IF the day-to-day income for God's Work — and ESPECIALLY if THE SPECIAL PROPERTY-BUILDING FUND is revived, and increased sufficiently — we hope to break ground by July on the long-awaited auditorium building here on the Pasadena campus.
We first planned this building in 1963. I think it was about that time I sent sketches of the design for this building to all the Church membership. But at that time, an emergency developed. A new freeway was being planned by state engineers, with its probable path directly through our campus, cutting off half of it. By RUSHING to completion our new Physical Education facility — including gymnasium and natatorium, the freeway was diverted to the eastern border of our campus.
That was the only building we could finish soon enough. That building has been used every day, and most nights, seven days a week, ever since. The Headquarters Church has had to meet there now with two services, Sabbath AM, and Sabbath PM — besides the overcrowded Friday night Bible Study. Physical education classes are scheduled every school day from 8 a.m. and all college assemblies and forums are held there every week.
Then we wanted to build this auditorium — (TO BE CONSIDERED BY US, THE HOUSE FOR GOD, at His present earthly Headquarters) — right after the Physical Education plant. But by that time a dining hall for students had become an emergency necessity. So the Student Center building had to come next. It also houses the college bookstore, barbershop, four Ambassador Club (speech clubs) rooms, and faculty lounge and dining room, besides four student lounges.
I hoped that SURELY we could build this "House for God" next. But the student body had outgrown the classrooms, and the new Loma D. Armstrong Academic Center simply had to come next. It was in the planning stage at the time of my wife's death, but not finished until the following year. It consists of the Science Hall, and the Fine Arts Hall, adjoining Ambassador Hall and the formal Italian Sunken Garden.
Before that operation was finished, our business department had completely outgrown our small original Administration building. It had become scattered all over the campus, with desks in halls and corridors. Again necessity postponed the beautiful auditorium, although the architects by that time were well along with the plans. At the same time a new larger men's dormitory had become imperative, and also the new much larger printing plant. So those three major buildings sidetracked the auditorium again. They were all completed early in 1969.
But, 1969 and 1970 turned out to be years of a "tight money" situation in the United States, and a financial recession. And so ALL building operations had to be stopped. The auditorium had to be postponed again, although all the architects' and engineering plans were fully complete.
In the Work, we weathered the two recession years, with YOUR HELP. The Work, for the first time in 35 years, did NOT grow 30% a year — yet we DID GROW — at about 11% to 13% each year. Not many institutions or businesses grow that fast even in GOOD years! MORE IMPORTANT, we managed, by sound management, making cutbacks, to keep our financial condition in good shape. Today banks and insurance companies have more confidence in us than ever before.
Here is STILL MORE important news: In the past week, we have STARTED preliminary planning on the direly needed new Library building. As you probably know, we are now in process of pursuing accreditation. Already two visits have been made to our campus by accreditation committees. One thing absolutely REQUIRED is a new, much larger Library building that will house more than twice our present number of volumes.
We have now chosen the location for the new Library. The architects are already at work on preliminary plans — showing the design and appearance of the building and the floor plans. This will probably require the first half of this year. Then it will require perhaps another six months to complete the working drawings and specifications. We hope to break ground on actual construction by or before year's end.
But, Brethren, now comes the NOT-SO-GOOD news.
For the year 1970 the SPECIAL OFFERINGS for the PROPERTY & BUILDING fund actually dropped down 16 1/2% below the preceding year, 1969. The membership of the Church GREW by 15% to 20%. Yet we are receiving for this fund considerably LESS than two and three years ago, when we had only about two-thirds as many members!
We definitely CANNOT proceed with this IMPERATIVE building program UNLESS there is a very SUBSTANTIAL increase, starting immediately, in these extra SPECIAL offerings for this special fund!
Even then we cannot completely finance this project by ourselves. But our standing with banks and insurance companies (for long-term loans) is exceptionally high. We have, as I said, by wise management, kept the financial condition of the College and of God's Work SOUND.
Now the money market is beginning to loosen up. Our principal Los Angeles bankers, for the first time in two years, appeared much encouraged and optimistic over future prospects yesterday. Although we have large-scale lines of credit with three major eastern banks, our own Los Angeles bank assured us yesterday that they will back us with whatever we need, if we decide to go ahead with this building program this year. This, of course, is based on procuring 50% long-term loans from insurance companies. But our mortgage bankers, who procure these loans for us with the aid of our bank, were absolutely elated when we told them what I am now telling you of our plans. They feel very confident of being able to finance this entire project — including the new radio and television production building, the Auditorium, the Library, and a semi-high-rise Editorial and Administration annex building, putting them all together in one financing package.
Of course we have to start making sizable monthly payments on this financing. One very HAPPY situation here is that we are now entirely paid out on MOST of our buildings already constructed (that is, our short-term 50%), and by the end of this year we shall be entirely paid up on all buildings so far constructed, except for the remainder of the long-term (15 to 20 years) insurance company loans. And even those are already reduced considerably.
I will say this, Brethren: If you have as much confidence in our business management and handling of God's finances, (under HIS guidance) as the major banks and insurance companies do, you'll have a lot of confidence. Not many institutions or businesses have weathered the economic recession of the past two years remotely as well as we have done. This has given the big banks more confidence in us than ever. Moreover, they have full confidence in our wisdom to know WHAT, WHEN, and WHETHER to go ahead.
So it appears now, that we can finance this building project in one big package PROVIDED we can bring the SPECIAL CONTRIBUTIONS for the building fund once again back up to a live, active fund.
This will inject NEW LIFE AND VITALITY into God's Work! TIME is now mighty short — we don't know HOW short! If we are to GET THE JOB DONE, we must be UP and AT IT! The Work of God NEEDS this new spark to come in on the home stretch of the Work.
I want to hear the living and soon-coming Jesus Christ say: "WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!" Don't YOU? Do you want it enough to PUT YOUR WHOLE HEART INTO THIS — AND INTO YOUR PRAYERS — and to sacrifice for it? Don't make the mistake of setting dates, and foolishly (as the William Miller people did in 1843 and 1844) selling everything you have in order to put it into the Work. Our Work could still be brought to a stop a year from now, until after the tribulation. But that does not seem so likely now. We may have only one more year — we may have two years — we may have five. I DON'T KNOW and YOU DON'T KNOW! We are laying plans for the next TEN years, if God grants that much more time.
What I DO KNOW is that Jesus said, in regard to knowing or NOT knowing the time of His coming: "Who, then, is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over His household . . . ? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find SO DOING."
If Christ should yet cut our work short one year from now, I want Him to find me SO DOING carrying on His Work right up to the last minute!
We must PLAN AHEAD as if we have another ten or twenty years — or more. But we must be as close to GOD, and as READY, as if He were appearing at His second coming, in the next moment!
Let me say, as I did once before, that even though we have been willing to give up having our own local church buildings IN ORDER TO LET THAT MONEY BE USED IN GETTING THE GOSPEL TO THE WHOLE WORLD, God has shown us that we DO WELL in desiring to have ONE "HOUSE FOR GOD" at His present earthly Headquarters of His Work — ONE HOUSE we can all look to from around the world, WHERE GOD IS HONORED. And, where God and the living Christ actually do MEET, in Spirit, WITH THE BRETHREN OF THE HEADQUARTERS CHURCH.
Now, after so many delays and disappointments, IF the income for the Work keeps up, and IF we bring up the SPECIAL offerings for the Building Fund, we can break ground for that fine building by July!
But REMEMBER the fact that in all probability we shall be able to get the financing DOES NOT MEAN that the banks and insurance companies are going to PAY FOR IT, and present it as a gift while we do nothing. I will personally have to BIND OURSELVES to repay these loans by making HEAVY PAYMENTS EVERY MONTH. The 50% of short-term financing by our bank must be paid back in two or three years in substantial monthly payments. I have to sign a promissory note BINDING me to make these payments. True, because our credit is good, this 50% of the entire building costs will be advanced by the bank UNSECURED — no mortgage — just my PROMISE — just MY WORD! But I have to make my word GOOD.
I'm sure you can see that I have to know that I shall be able to keep my word! I DO NOT ask you to BIND yourself, as I must do. But I must again ask for STATEMENTS OF INTENTION. This will show me whether or not I can safely enter into this financing, binding MYSELF.
REMEMBER, this statement of intention is ONLY that. It is NOT a pledge. It is NOT a vow. It does NOT bind you. If your personal circumstances change during the year, and you are not able to keep it up, I won't expect you to. I will trust God to provide someone else to pick up your part. You will remain FREE to stop sending these special offerings if you find you have to. But if there are ENOUGH statements of intention from ENOUGH members, then I do feel safe in BINDING MYSELF because in so many NUMBERS of us THERE IS STRENGTH! But I do need the statements of intention.
And REMEMBER — this must be an EXTRA, special, over-and- above tithes and regular offerings for the Gospel Work. Our expenses for getting the Gospel to the world continue JUST THE SAME. This must be IN ADDITION to that.
So PRAY EARNESTLY ABOUT THIS! If we are not putting our minds on material wants and desires and LOSING our inheritance in the Kingdom of God, WE SHALL ACCOMPLISH THIS!
Brethren, I pray God will inspire you to surprise and simply overwhelm us here at Headquarters with your response. I know you CAN if willing! God bless and inspire you!