Pastor General's Report

Editor's Note: At 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning, July 28, Mr. Stanley Rader's pretaped interview with Torn Snyder was aired on the NBC television network show, "Tomorrow." Since this show has national coverage, its impact would seem to be important at this time of widespread publicity and stress in the church.

A videotape of the program was shown to the brethren at the evening Bible study in the Ambassador Auditorium with Mr. Herbert Armstrong's permission, and again before the main sermon Sabbath afternoon. Since a number of the brethren and ministry missed the program when it was aired over their local stations, plans are to show it at all festival sites for their interest.

In the meantime, we are including with this report some excerpts of comments by Dr. Hoeh which he made immediately following the screening of the interview during Bible study. Those comments follow.

The questions and answers are very meaningful to the churches as a whole. I hope you will appreciate that some of these questions were handled in a manner not everybody could handle as smoothly as did Mr. Rader. It was a good illustration of the favor that we still have -and should have if we trust God — when going before some men who, as interviewers, could be far more pointed and critical if they wanted to. But he Mr. Snyder asked what I would regard as responsible questions under the circumstances, and it would be very educational for all of us to reflect on how the answers have been presented. There isn't any doubt that how one handles a question is very important in terms of the job he has in a work such as this. The first thing that occurs to me, and I see no reason not to be candid, is this: I briefly wrote Mr. Rader a letter after I had seen the last part of the original TV program (because of a problem in getting my own TV to work). I mentioned that I thought it proper to give him some support. The reason I said that is that there is a tendency in people to discount some of the responsible decisions that have been made with the aid of Mr. Rader's advice. What was said near the beginning of the interview may help you to understand part of the reason why people can think negatively about things for which they have no real basis, in attempting to analyze a person's role such as that of Mr. Rader, who is not an ordained minister.

If you recall, Mr. Rader said that his fundamental job is to report to the Chairman of the Board. His job is not to report to a whole series of departments or to be accountable to a local church. If he reports to the Chairman of the Board, that is, Mr. Herbert Armstrong, then of necessity there are matters that are submitted to Mr. Armstrong that are reported to nobody else. Therefore, a natural gap exists between the membership and Mr. Rader. There is also a gap between the ministry and Mr. Rader merely because he doesn't owe reports to them. If Mr. Armstrong wants him to give reports to the headquarters church o r the church as a whole at the Feast of Tabernacles, he does so. This gap will occur with any individual who seems to have significant input at a high level, but who doesn't interact every day or every week with the people who are essentially underwriting in prayers, tithes and labor, God's Work day by day, week by week, and month by month. I do believe that the absence of that daily and/ or weekly contact, as we in the ministry have on the Sabbath or during Bible study, puts Mr. Rader at a disadvantage in terms of what people want to think about him. It would be better to acknowledge what we don't know and not draw conclusions, rather than assume that what we don't know must be something that isn't good.

I've had only minimal contact with Mr. Rader over the 20 years I've known him. That's a lengthy period of time. My contact has always been favorable. I think I can say that he's a very fair- minded individual in weighing any question and in giving advice to anybody at any level.

I was very pleased with the important help Mr. Rader gave me in particular, and others on the staff in the academic area during 1970-71. I've also appreciated very much his input and judgment in assisting Mr. Armstrong in terms of how to help and evaluate projects around the world.... Having been involved myself in one of the projects, in the sense of getting some on-the- spot information about the hill tribes in Thailand to Mr. Armstrong, I do feel that the judgment that he has had in advising Mr. Armstrong on the worldwide trips has been very important and truly worthwhile....

When you see a man like Mr. Torn Snyder ask questions, you realize how important it is to know what your attitude is toward a problem. If your conscience, if your understanding, is clear, no matter what is thrown at you, you needn't be concerned. And some of those were very personal and touchy questions that Mr. Rader fielded.... There is no doubt that in showing respect for Mr. Ted Armstrong he handled a section very diplomatically and properly — the way that all of us would be expected to.

The question of religion in terms of holidays was certainly fielded in a way that was very direct at the beginning. Mr. Rader went right to those things — especially the Sabbath — which are thought to characterize the church uniquely in terms of our relationship to Judaism versus the traditional relationship to the general Christian community. Where Sunday and the world's secular or religious holidays are concerned, Mr. Ruder found it easy, and I think any of you could find it easy, to describe the Feast of Tabernacles as one of joy and responsible pleasure. Certainly this ought to be apparent in contrast to the excesses that arise on Christmas more than on any other day of the year. He made the religion that the Church of God exemplifies come across quite respectably.

I hope you do reflect on how these things were fielded both in terms of how the character of the Church was conveyed, and how you can be diplomatic in explaining certain matters when somebody is trying to fish for an answer that frankly is better not said in some other terms. Concerning the question of the nature of our Work: I wanted to dwell briefly on something that, although it isn't the way any of us in the ministry would word it, we should consider why Mr. Rader, taking a generalization, said what he did. He said we tend to baptize people only after they are 21. That is not, of course, a statement of fact as it is literally practiced. But on the other hand, it says something that ought to be considered seriously.

Many students come to college at 18 and are baptized by the time they are 19 or 20. We've had a small number who have been baptized prematurely, which is what I am addressing.... The human mind doesn't really mature as early as some might think, and it pays to give some serious consideration as to whether young people are always ready when they first are emotionally swept off their feet by something they may never have really understood before. Have they actually counted the cost to know how long they are willing to stick with their convictions, as represented by baptism?

If more would give heed to maturity and to making decisions and counting the cost and in knowing that one has to come to the point that no matter what, he or she will never turn back, we probably would not have some of the marital problems that have arisen among people who have been baptized prematurely.

I thought the interview was a very fine presentation without being critical. It was a sensitive, accurate, respectful evaluation of a problem that we are living through in the Church and shall continue to live through for sometime, without a doubt. I hope if any of you are interviewed you will give some serious thought to how someone else has handled an interview.

One thing I think we did learn this evening that would be of help to any of you in answering questions, at the level of which you would be responsible, is to be able to tell it bluntly, be friendly, and not imply that the interviewer. doesn't know anything. After all, Mr. Snyder's description of the end-time events was far removed from some biblical realities. But Mr. Rader put it in a way that I thought was very diplomatic. He said, "You're not that far wrong," which leaves it up to the audience to decide how far "far" is.

It's also important to feel comfortable with the person who's asking the questions.... Mr. Rader may have talked with Mr. Snyder in advance actually he did not — editor and learned something of what was on his mind. Once you get to know people, you can be freer and more comfortable in the way you explain things.

This was an education for all of us. Not merely to inform us of what the Church has stated on certain matters; that is helpful, but to be informed of how anyone who is a layman and not a minister (Mr. Rader is an educated layman), can handle things that many ministers are called upon to handle quite often. Reflect on how you may have done it. It was done commendably, and it was a thorough credit to the Church.

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Pastor General's ReportAugust 07, 1978Vol 2 No. 30