Last night, I had been reading a telex I had sent to my son about a year and a half ago from South Africa and I was thinking of his condition now, trying to launch a new Garner Ted Armstrong church of his own, without the facilities to do so. I thought of what a lovable little fellow Ted had been as a young boy. I was unable to sleep for a long time.
This morning I felt I should relieve my own mind by sending a letter to my son, showing just how I feel. I had no intention of letting anyone see this letter except my son. However, I feel now, before sending it I should make it an open letter available to the entire membership. It shows how I feel from the depths of my heart.
Following then is the letter dated July 31, 1978, Tucson:
The last two letters you sent me via Bill Evans were very friendly in tone. The last one, dated July 12, told me you were having great difficulty finding a place to live—the homes you might be able to afford were too tiny. You hardly had enough for a down-payment on a place. You asked about the place on Lake Tahoe—for approximately nine years you had been trying to arrange to purchase it—but something always put us off.
You did not know when you wrote this, that already I had arranged a contract—the only way I knew that would be okay with IRS, to turn over to you life tenancy, rent free, with the Church taking care of all taxes, insurance, etc.,—leaving only utilities for you to pay.
Also, I had arranged to offer you retirement pay of $50,000 per year—the same as you have done in the past for others at a percentage of their annual salary. Also, as I'm sure I have written you, I had offered—within the scope of IRS allowances—to supply you with a home of comparable quality and size as the one built for you in Pasadena. It seems the only way we could legally do this would be a company purchase, giving you no-cost tenancy, like the Lake Tahoe property.
Then, suddenly word came to me that you had incorporated yourself as a church—and the very next morning—yesterday, Sunday, July 30, another story from you was published in the L.A. Times saying you rejected the $50,000 retirement pay—that never again would any man be in position of authority over you—and that you were going on the air to build your own church.
Naturally, it is incumbent on me as God's Apostle, to protect His "sheepfold" He has placed under my care. As I told you in the letter offering to provide you with living facilities equal to what you have enjoyed these past eleven years, that God's Work could not pay you to fight it, take away members, or seek to destroy the Work that was paying you. I have not seen the L.A. Times story—but it seems you construed this $50,000 offer as a bribe. Nothing could have been farther from my mind or intention. Perhaps you so construed it because I let Stan Rader write the letter for me, but it was my idea, and I tell you truthfully my only thought and motive was your own welfare—and the fact that of approximately 25 years service, the first 15 had been good years, and warranted that recognition. Certainly the only thought or motive in my heart was right.
Last night, I ran across a very lengthy telex I had sent you from South Africa, March 11, 1977. You had always complained that you wanted to please Shirl and me above all others, and that we never do appreciate it, or show confidence in you—and especially that I had not valued your input, counsel or recommendations. I was trying, in this telex, to show that kind of confidence in you and appreciation of your counsel.
In this telex I said, "This is the Work of the Living God, totally unlike all other human-devised institutions, organizations or activities. Let me say, 1) I do have and entrust to you implicit confidence. I do not only consider your advice and counsel, I need and must have it, and always when I agree—which is nearly always— I act on it, as in this instance"—mentioning a recommendation from you that I had followed at once.
I tried, Ted, to stand "back-to-back" with you. I had mentioned that, since, the entire universe is headed by a Father and Son combination—God and Christ—it would seem to ensure this as being truly God's Work, if it could be headed the same way—but when I mentioned how Christ has always been of the same mind and in all points of one accord, under His Father, you immediately changed the subject.
You completely overstepped the authority I delegated to you. You have recently stated publicly in the public press that you never did agree with me in matters of procedures. All friction between you and me, Ted, came from two sources—you did not agree with the manner of procedures that God had started me out on long before you grew up to maturity, and you felt a sense of resentment over the fact that, in the natural order of the growth of the Work, God had placed YOU under my authority. You remarked, one time, some two or more years ago, "You've never had to work under anyone, Dad." You said, you meant under a MAN. Before you were born, Ted, I had to learn to work under other MEN. I agreed with what I had read from Elbert Hubbard, who said, "If I worked for a man I would work for him!" I worked under a man in the Des Moines Daily Capital, from age 18 to 19. I performed that work, under authority, so well that it opened to me a bigger job. I worked under authority as timekeeper and paymaster of the Finkbine Lumber Mill outside of Wiggins, Mississippi, at age 19. There I did the job it had taken three men to do before they turned it over to me. It was not my kind of work. I was like a fish out of water—but I worked as diligently and faithfully as I could—I worked myself into the hospital with typhoid fever. To keep up with the job—one I was unfitted for—I worked alternately till 10:00 one night and midnight the next—and up at 5:30 every morning! I took criticism—I took orders—and I did my very utmost to take them in good spirit!
I worked under authority for three years on the country's largest trade journal, and then for a summer as assistant secretary of the Chamber of Commerce at South Bend, Indiana.
All this, of course, was before you were born—but I had been required by the Living Christ who was afterward to call me to His service—or I might say was preparing me for His service—to work hard, diligently, faithfully and loyally—and WILLINGLY—to the very utmost of my ability!
The Living Christ is not going to set anyone to rule under Him, in the Kingdom of God, who has been unwilling to work in that willing and faithful attitude under authority. This may be a hard lesson for you to learn, Ted my son, but a father's inbred and real LOVE for his son, causes me to remind you once again of this fact. It may be your hardest obstacle to overcome.