RADIO CHURCH OF GOD WORLD HEADQUARTERS PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG PRESIDENT and PASTOR
Broadcasting The WORLD TOMORROW Publishers of The PLAIN TRUTH
Ambassador College in ENGLAND
July 19, 1961
Dear Brethren of GOD'S Church:
I am having to write you this letter from England with a heavy heart. WHY, Oh WHY does it have to be, dear Brethren, that of all the opposition, persecution, and trials I have to meet and hurdle over, the most discouraging and disappointing experiences have to come from a few of you who profess to be brethren in Christ —believers in and followers of Christ—converted, consecrated, Spirit-led brethren!
This great surging, powerful world-wide work that Christ started through me and a little handful of brethren has grown, and expanded, and multiplied in power and world-wide influence only to the extent that Jesus Christ, the living HEAD of this work, has added and used other brethren and co-workers. I could never have developed this work, without the help of brethren and co-workers, to reach and influence more than a few hundred people. Today it does reach and influence some FIFTEEN MILLION PEOPLE every week, in every continent on earth!
Yet, when our Lord and Master and leader Jesus Christ PUTS HIS CHURCH TO THE TEST, a very large portion of us seem to FAIL HIM. We, like carnal Israelites of old, do not want to OBEY His orders. We gripe and "murmur" and complain and criticize, and want to go contrary to HIS way, even as carnal ancient Israel. But, IF we are really IN God's own Church, WE HAVE RECEIVED THE GIFT OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT—-we have had our carnality CHANGED—we have been graciously given, by God's mercy and loving grace, a NEW NATURE—A NEW ATTITUDE AND SPIRIT—one of willing and eager submission and cooperation, instead of the spirit of rebellion, independence, and criticism.
I am thoroughly discouraged, and I'm going to tell you WHY—and if some of you—yes, MANY of you—do not WAKE UP, and REPENT, I say to you on Christ's authority that He is about to spue you out of His mouth, and your end will be the lake of fire! I am not going to soft-pedal or mince words. God commands me, as His minister, to cry ALOUD and show you who profess to be HIS PEOPLE your sins, lest you fall under HIS TERRIBLE CONDEMNATION! I do not propose to minimize this, because MANY OF YOU PROFESSING BRETHREN ARE IN DANGER OF THE FINAL HELL FIRE JESUS SAID SO MUCH ABOUT!
I am heartsick and grieved at heart. Some of you whom God has called to be my real HELPERS in His work make yourselves, instead, my biggest discouragement.
This is being caused by TWO current experiences.
1) On June 19—just a month ago—our office in Pasadena sent you in the western third of the United State a long letter about the Feast of Tabernacles being held—for brethren of this western part of the country—at a new place JESUS CHRIST has designated for us—a magnificent, exciting, breath-takingly beautiful place—Squaw Valley.
YET IT IS NOW REPORTED TO ME THAT MANY OF YOU SEEM TO BE COMPLAINING, AND PLANNING TO REBEL AGAINST YOUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND GO TO GLADEWATER, TEXAS, IN SPITE OF US!
Brethren some of you—and apparently MANY of you—need to go to a private place of prayer, and beg the Christ who died for you and granted you the gift of His Holy Spirit to HAVE MERCY ON YOU and FORGIVE YOU! Some of you are showing a wrong rebellious uncooperative and selfish spirit. Some of you are putting the visiting with unconverted relatives ahead of obedience to CHRIST, and cooperation with His CHURCH!
Now let me make one or two points PLAIN to you. First, I do not believe anyone in the Church could have been more reluctant to have the great Festival of Tabernacles in TWO places in the United States than I. IT DEFINITELY, EMPHATICALLY, WAS NOT MY IDEA OR WISH! Even after many other ministers saw the need of it, I held out against it—until finally shown beyond any doubt that THIS IS CHRIST'S DOING! Then I had to submit, even as YOU must!
But, to briefly repeat the FACTS—membership in God's Church, and attendance at this Festival is increasing at the rate of 30% every year. Our attendance DOUBLES at the rate of every 2 years and 7 months—multiplied 8 times every 8 years. Figure just roughly and quickly—we had over 7,000 in attendance last October —in 1960. This rate of increase that has been going on for over 27 years means that in 1968 we would have 56,000 in attendance. By 1971 it would be around 120,000. We had to face the FACT that the 27-year record shows we would have to provide for 100,000 in ten years! That is a whole CITY!
On grounds owned by one of our deacons, adjoining our Church grounds near Gladewater, is a great natural bowl, about 900 feet wide. We found that the Behlen Manufacturing Company, who built our present large Tabernacle, could span this natural bowl with a roof—without pillar or post—and thus build for us a gigantic auditorium—the largest ever built by mankind—seating over 100,000 people.
This loomed as a STUPENDOUS project. The manufacturer, his engineers and our architect all visited the spot with me. Preliminary architectural drawings were made. We found we could build this gigantic auditorium in two stages. The quoted price for the first stage was ONE MILLION DOLLARS. This did not include the housing and sanitary facilities for some 40,000 people—nor the vast dining halls and other facilities. Our plan was to turn the present Tabernacle into the second dining hall. To do this we needed to ADD ON a wing for the kitchen. We were planning to add this wing—in the form of the "stem of a T" at the rear of the Tabernacle, directly facing the stage. That would have had to be done this year, ready for the Feast beginning late September—for over 9,000 are expected in attendance, and we could seat only 7,500 at present. Also we were going to have to construct a new dining hall, new sanitary buildings, new housing, all in a rush CRASH PROGRAM before this coming Festival this year.
To do this and finance it we were going to have to pay out about $40,000 per month for the next ten months. It would have to be paid in full within ten months, so that we could then start making even larger payments every month on the first half of the great 100,000-seat BOWL auditorium. Our architect had been working some two or three months on the plans for the big addition to be built on the present Tabernacle this summer. His plans were almost completed, when, in May, I received over here in England, a long letter from my son Garner Ted Armstrong, with the news that this Squaw Valley project had opened to us.
I will say candidly that I was not enthusiastic. I was dead against it. I didn't want to see the Festival held in two locations. But that brings me to the current discouragement number 2:
2) Although there are now more than TWICE as many members in God's Church as there were early in 1958, when I first asked for pledges to build the big Tabernacle at Gladewater, you brethren ARE NOT SENDING IN ANY INCREASE IN SPECIAL OFFERINGS FOR THE PROPERTY AND BUILDING FUND! I have just received a report from the Headquarters office in Pasadena, with these exact figures: contributions for this Building Fund, June 1960, $16,789.13. For June, 1961, $15,371—LESS than a year ago. Besides, in June 1960 there were special offerings for Booths at Gladewater of $4,734, and for June 1961, only $985. This, I believe, was advance rentals, however. I have written and explained to our entire membership the seriousness of this failure to keep up the special offerings for the Property and Building Fund—two or three times. But ONLY SOME OF YOU BRETHREN TAKE IT SERIOUSLY AND RESPOND.
Brethren, I simply WILL NOT pester and hound you, or beg you, about this! If about HALF of you brethren do not wish to respond, or to help carry your part, and wish to let God's Church and His work down, and do not want to stand behind me in the terrifying responsibilities Christ has given me to carry, then I AM SIMPLY GOING TO LET CHRIST DEAL WITH YOU AS HE WILLS! But I do have to say it is mighty discouraging!
So all this brought us to a certain point. My son wrote me all about the Squaw Valley opportunity—he had visited it— told me how wonderful a place it is—and said the final decision was mine. I replied that it was NOT mine at all—but that we have to meet AT THE PLACE WHERE CHRIST CHOOSES. Well, of course, he said he knew that—but he meant it would be my responsibility to come to KNOW what CHRIST has chosen and directed.
And our LIVING Head Jesus Christ did let me know in an unmistakable manner! First, He permitted YOU BRETHREN—that is, those of you who have become lax and indifferent—to slam SHUT THE DOOR of this building project at Gladewater. We should have had to start making payments of about $40,000 per month as far back as February or March—and here it was, late May, and our business office had not been able to make a single payment! I had to fly back to the United States in May, to visit several of our largest radio stations, and to be at Pasadena for the 10th Commencement of Ambassador College. So I flew from Chicago direct to San Francisco, where I was met by my son Garner Ted and other executives from our Headquarters. Several of our Ministers already had inspected Squaw Valley. Next day we flew on over there. At first there were some hitches. It appeared they would have to charge so much for food at the Cafeteria our people could not afford it. I telephoned Mrs. Hammer at Gladewater—she arranges the menu there—and asked her to send menus. This brought the cost of food down within reach. All obstacles were ironed out. THE DOOR SWUNG WIDE OPEN AT SQUAW VALLEY. Christ CLOSED, or permitted to be closed, the door for going ahead at Gladewater. HE SHOWED ME HIS DECISION, since it was the ONLY ONE POSSIBLE. This is not my decision—it is that of JESUS CHRIST!
Now, Brethren, the only question is: ARE YOU REALLY IN GOD'S TRUE CHURCH? If so, you will cooperate 100%, with ENTHUSIASM, gladly. But, if you try to go around those GOD has appointed in authority, and go to Gladewater anyway—except in the most SERIOUS EMERGENCY—or to go around the appointed Committee and make your own reservations independently, then, I ask, WHY ATTEND AT ALL? If your attitude is hostile, independent, uncooperative, you need to REPENT, deeply and from the heart, and ask a loving living Saviour to FORGIVE YOU before it is too late.
Now God has placed it within my power to take harsh and stern measures, if necessary. I don't want to have to do this— PLEASE DON'T FORCE ME TO!
It appears, as of now, that HUNDREDS of you on the West Coast or west of the designated line are determined to go on to Gladewater. IF YOU DO, there will not be enough at Squaw Valley to meet expenses, and we shall have to give up going there altogether —and, in addition, there won't be ROOM for you at the Texas Tabernacle!
This is nothing short of a mild, perhaps even unrealized, REBELLION on the part of HUNDREDS of our members in the western part of the United States. I have it in my power, by Christ's authority, to see that admittance at Gladewater is REFUSED to all in our western designated zone, unless you have special written permission. I don't want to take such drastic steps. Instead, I ask you to come to realize the seriousness of this, and to cooperate AT ONCE.
Let me state, therefore, as God's minister, that NO ONE from the designated West Coast area should travel all the way to Gladewater for the Feast this year unless he has very special permission from God's ministers. This permission is to be granted ONLY for the following reasons:
1. For those specifically sent by the Church as elders or acting deacons or deaconesses, or in any other capacity.
2. For the Negro brethren whom Mr. Jackson feels will be better able to have the right fellowship if they meet at Gladewater together.
3. For those very few with a real family or business EMERGENCY necessitating a trip to the Midwest at this time. This should be an emergency consideration only —as in a case where a mother or father is very close to death and a final visit just before or after the Feast seems imperative.
4. For those who have definite ministerial or medical advice that they should not travel to areas over 5,000 feet in altitude because of a serious heart or asthmatic condition.
Brethren, this is ALL. We can think of no other valid reason why any of you should forsake attending the Feast of Tabernacles in the area God has designated for you.
WE HAVE TO PAY A BIG DEPOSIT IN ADVANCE TO THE SQUAW VALLEY AUTHORITIES. That is why we HAVE to ask for a partial advance payment on your housing and food. IF you have been obeying God by faithfully laying aside your SECOND TITHE you will be able.
I know there may be financial circumstances involved with some of you. I would like to say that if for any reason you do not have the required $50.00 deposit at this time, you may send in your application for registration without including your deposit. This should NOT be necessary, however, in many cases, because you should have faithfully saved your second tithe as God commands.
And do you realize, brethren, that if we will follow through with our part in this arrangement, the huge Blythe Arena— to serve as our meeting place for the service—will be given to us absolutely FREE?—and many other smaller meeting rooms, counseling room, recreation rooms and three swimming pools beside!
Do you want to wreck this opportunity for God's Church? Do you want us to forfeit the terrific cash saving this makes possible for the very work of Christ?
I know that you don't.
Perhaps many of you have just not taken the time to thoroughly read my original letter on Squaw Valley. If not, you should go back and READ CAREFULLY every word of it so that you fully understand how you should cooperate in registering for your space at Squaw Valley for the coming Feast of Tabernacles. If for any reason you do not have this letter, write immediately and we will send you an additional copy. This original letter had a detachable coupon at the bottom for you to enter the type of accommodations you preferred. If for any reason you are in doubt about any of these accommodations and wish to further qualify what you would personally like to have, you may add additional information to the back of the coupon or write it on a separate sheet of paper. Let me again ASSURE you that we have adequate facilities for every need and only require your advice as to what you would desire!
Please don't try to bypass our own registration team and get some "special deal" by making a motel or hotel reservation personally. You will probably LOSE money by this effort, and you will complicate things for our registration team which is trying to SERVE YOU. So if you have not yet sent in your registration for Squaw Valley then do so immediately! Reread my original letter and fill out the attached coupon and send in with the required deposit on your registration. Or, if you are planning to camp or rent a trailer, please designate this as indicated so we can send you information on the available facilities and will be able to plan for the total number of people planning to come.
I am counting on you! Let's all get our reservations in just as soon as possible and show God we are truly thankful for this wonderful door He has opened to us!
Remember, if you have any questions or if there is anything you do not understand, write immediately for information. Be sure to use the special envelope enclosed for any inquiries or reservations sent.
Please realize, dear Brethren, it isn't easy for me to write a letter like this. I haven't had to do it before—I hope I never shall again. I am planning to be at Squaw Valley for the opening of the Feast there—and I hope to see you there.