On Friday afternoon, January 5th, in Superior Court of Los Angeles, California, Honorable Judge Vernon Foster heard arguments for and against the dissolution of the rest of the orders and dismissal of the receiver ordered by the court on the ex parte petition of the plaintiffs who were former members of the Church of God. Mr. La Ravia recounted for the brethren the results of the hearing before the sermon which was given by Mr. Meredith. Following are excerpts of Mr. La Ravia's report.
Good afternoon again to all of you. You know, there are Sabbath Days and then there are Sabbath Days.
Well, for the last three days it has been very nightmarish. There has been a lot of confusion, a lot of turmoil and a lot of misunderstanding, and it has created a great deal of distress for this Headquarters Church area and of course around the world. And we tried to clarify some of the things yesterday at the 9:00 a.m. special service in the Auditorium, Jan. 5 and where we are going and what the problems were and how we hoped-to resolve them. And I don't want to rehash a lot of those things now, but our concern has to be now for the welfare of the Church, God's people around the world, and for the conduct of this work.
I would like to go over with you briefly where we are in terms of the court hearing that ended last evening. Now for those of you who were not there, we did start somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 o'clock and did run until approximately 8:40 in the evening, so it was a very lengthy session. It was very hot and stuffy. I think we must have had five, six hundred people there, maybe more. At least that many. And it was very reassuring, very encouraging, and I think the Judge was moved. In his final comments, he even made one comment that was directed toward those who were in the gallery. And so I think he was himself even very impressed.
But there are several points that I would like to bring out that he stated as far as where we are in terms of the Receivership that carne upon the Church around 8:40 on Wednesday morning. The Judge stated that there has been no ruling or confirmation of any misconduct in the Church by anyone, by any defendant that is named. He said that in the next hearing, on Wednesday, facts will be presented — that is, if any exist — and then a judgment will be made accordingly. This will occur this coming Wednesday, the tenth.
There is also an order to permit the Attorney General to investigate. Of course I think that most of you understand that the Attorney General does have the legal stewardship of all charities' funds and that is certainly the vested responsibility of the Attorney General of the State. And, of course, we have never resisted that particular official duty directly. But now it has worked out that way in the sense that we were resisting the Receivership, so it did work to that end as far as the records were concerned. But that was not our concern. It was never our concern to bar the auditors from the records, or whomever, from the Attorney General's office who needed to see those records. That was never our intent.
Also another point: The control of the Church and its entire organization, and its assets, are back with the Church. Again, I think that is very important because under the terms of the Receivership, or at least the way they were conducting themselves under that Receivership, we had no rights to anything. The appointed Receiver was totally and completely in charge of everything. And that was stated. So that is not conjecture.
Another point: The Receiver has no right, at least now under the terms of the court, to hire, nor fire, nor right to interfere with regular conduct of business. So our "business" can go on as it has been, at least until it was interrupted on Wednesday morning, and we can go on with our normal course of business, paying our bills, receiving income, depositing those funds in the bank, writing checks upon those funds printing the gospel, buying radio and television time, and making payment of all of the other things that are in the normal course of business and, of course, employee's checks which all who are employees are certainly interested in.
Another points all records which previously were removed by plaintiff's attorney or the Attorney General must be returned forthwith because then that brings everybody back to square one where everyone the plaintiffs and the defense has access to whatever records are available, and where no one has any advantage in that respect as the state had up to that point by their absolute control and our exclusion.
Point six: and probably one of the more important ones which undergirds and is an umbrella over, all of these others: The church is back under the control of Mr. Herbert Armstrong. Now he never relinquished it, but believe me brethren, they considered it so. And by "they" I mean the Attorney's plaintiffs and the Receiver, the retired Judge Wiesman. They did definitely consider this so because I was there.
When I walked into the building Wednesday morning, Jan. 3 they were already there. And they summarily told me — in fact — one of the first things they hit me with was "Mr. Herbert Armstrong is removed from his position in this organization." Now that's what they told me, unequivocally, and I lie not. I would state that under oath if need be, or affirm it, for that is what they said. And that was even reaffirmed at a later time. And the Attorney pointed to ex-Judge Wiesman, and said, "He is now in charge of everything." So, to the best of my recollection, that is the way it was.
Now I could relate many, many other things to you, but the important thing at this particular time is that we understand where we are now. We feel like we are in a very good position now because the main thing we did not want to see, and of course Mr. Herbert Armstrong did not want to see, was himself removed by the state of California as the Apostle of this Church because God placed him there and he knows that and we know that.
Another point: The Receiver will only be collecting data from our records and documents. And the only reason the Receiver will be here at this point in time is to make certain that this is done. So they will only be collecting data from our records and documents.
And the final point here: We, the Church, were always willing to open our records and we believe our records will vindicate us. Mr. Herbert Armstrong has said that and we have no reason to believe otherwise. If something is presented to the contrary, Mr. Armstrong has said that he will, of course, do whatever is required to remedy the situation. So we can be content with that and we can depend upon that.
So yesterday's hearing, I think was very essential. It was essential to clarify the authority in this organization because that was what was at stake! Because whether we realize it or not, or whether we understand it or not, we had to preserve our rights as a Church and that meant to preserve the rights of the individual who is the human head of this Church that God has appointed. And this other individual, the Receiver, was in charge indeed. And theoretically, he could have been permanently in charge. Now I am not saying that would have happened. But he could have been in charge as long as the court action or the State allowed him to be in charge. Now that could have been weeks, or days, or months, or years or whatever. Sure that's theoretical, I understand that. But should it happen for one minute? Or one hour or one day or whatever? No it shouldn't. That was what was at stake. And it was a classic Church vs. State situation.
Well, I think that it is very important that we had this clarified in yesterday's hearing and now we can go forth with the regular conduct of our activities, thankfully. Now of course there no doubt will be some impediments where we have records that we are going to have to work around the auditors and people who are combing through these, and filtering through them. That is true. But at least we're in our normal conduct of routine business. And that's going to be good. So I hope all of you can rejoice in that.