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In the world of Armstrongist churches, two pieces of recent news have been the death of William Dankenbring and the announced retirement of Joe Tkach Jnr from his leadership of Grace Communion International (GCI), which is what the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) called itself since 2009, long after its transformation into an evangelical Protestant denomination and slid into irrelevance.

William Dankenbring was known for his prophecies and bombast, but never built the sort of substantive denomination that traditionalist splinter groups from WCG did or tried to do.

Joseph Tkach Jnr, son of Joseph Tkach, intends to retire as leader of Grace Communion International nee Worldwide Church of God. And what's the significance of it?

The Tkaches took control of WCG when Herbert W. Armstrong died. They set about transforming a sect known for unconventional beliefs (e.g. Sabbath, British-Israelism, etc) into an evangelical Protestant denomination. Unsurprisingly this was resisted by traditionalists, which is why there are many COGs today.

They also inherited a church with considerable assets and a media presence, as well as educational institutions and an auditorium. All of this would be gone as part of the transformation. And the result of the transformation? The destruction of a church which, while unconventional and controversial, at least had a certain presence and relevance in its heyday (Armstrong met with world leaders including royalty, and was a broadcast pioneer). GCI on the other hand is largely irrelevant; the traditionalist COG splinters all trying to faithfully following the line with their own Internet media presence.

There's a lesson to be drawn from this. Somewhere.


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Posts: 631
Reply with quote  #2 
A lesson to about having either a succession plan drawn up or a mechanism in place for when it is needed too. If it works for monarchs and other leaders of faith worldwide then it should work in this case.
Yours Sincerely Queenslander

Posts: 4,924
Reply with quote  #3 
The WCG was characterised by its centralised, absolutist power structure and most of the splinter groups follow that line. Before Armstrong's death there were various offshoots - Ken Westby, then Raymond Cole with Church of God, The Eternal, then his son Garnet Ted Armstrong formed his own sect, and also Fred Coulter's Christian Biblical Church of God (Coulter also has his own version of the Bible).

I'm not sure quite how the Tkaches came to power, yet it seems they may have privately held the idea of changing the church long before, while selling off its assets.

Flurry (PCG), Meredith and his successor Weston (LCG), and Pack (RCG) have all followed the hardline position of holding fast onto Armstrongist beliefs, replicating his ministry with broadcasting and glossy magazines (with the addition of an Internet presence of course), and autocratic leadership.

The UCG, seen as the most "liberal" (though still orthodox) denomination employs a collegial or "democratic" model of governance precisely because the wanted to avoid the sort of hostile takeover scenario that took place in WCG, but it hasn't worked brilliantly for them. Its breakaway COGWA is apparently more conservative.
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