As noted by experts some leaders of authoritarian religious groups choose to keep their life before leading the group quiet in order to obscure the fact that their lives were fairly ordinary and not particularly remarkable before leading the group. PCG rarely talks about Gerald Flurry's life before he was removed from WCG in December 1989. Let us take a look at what happened with Gerald Flurry before he established PCG.
|(Worldwide News, July 30, 1984, p. 4.)|
Gerald Ray Flurry was born on April 12, 1935 in Oklahoma. By his own account it was his mother who first got into Armstrongism via HWA's World Tomorrow broadcast in 1957. At first he was uninterested until 1961 when he decided to give it a try and he joined HWA's Radio Church of God and got baptized. By this time he was living in St. Louis.
My mother had been called into the truth in 1957, and from that time until 1961 she tried endlessly to convert me. I rebelled against that and persecuted her for what she was doing. Whenever Herbert Armstrong came on the radio, she would turn up the volume so I could hear him, and that upset me. I was antagonistic against him and his message— that is, until my life had finally become so miserable and hopeless that I would do anything to change it, even if it meant getting interested in “mom’s religion.”In a recent PCG article it was mentioned that Gerald Flurry applied to enter Ambassador College at one point but his application was rejected. It is quite vague so at present it is not possible to know precisely when this application occurred.
I eventually came into the Church and began to think of Mr. Armstrong as a father. My own father was lacking in many ways—he didn’t know how to teach me; no one had taught him. But I saw that Mr. Armstrong was very stable. Following him helped me stabilize my life and become stronger. (Gerald Flurry, Royal Vision, July-August 2000, p. 9.)
Mr. Flurry shared that his first Ambassador College application was rejected. He assumed he needed to move on, so he married and continued to live in the St. Louis, Missouri, area, attending the Worldwide Church of God. (Phillip Nice and Grant Turgeon, Graduates, "Faculty Attend First Herbert W. Armstrong College Reunion," January 8, 2016.)(Grant Turgeon is Gerald Flurry's grandson.)
From 1964 to 1966 Gerald Flurry worked as a regional reporter and later a regional editor for Church of God News. It should be noted that the site looked at only has issues of Church of God News published from 1962 till 1966.
Gerald Flurry wrote an article entitled "Mr. Baird Returns" for the September 1964 issue of Church of God News. (pp. 1-2.)
"Around the World in 80 Days" could almost be Mr. Hal Bird's theme song after returning from a nation-wide baptizing tour this summer. Mr. Baird returned to St. Louis August 28 after an 80-day whirlwind tour covering 40% of the states in the U.S.A. and half the provinces of Canada!In the October 1964 issue of Church of God News it is mentioned that Gerald Flurry is credited as the regional reporter for St. Louis. (p. 2.)
In addition to driving 14,000 miles, Mr. Baird and Mr. Prumer also flew approximately 1,200 miles. This combined mileage amounts to more than half the distance around the earth! That's where the "almost" came in -- the "Around the World in 80 Days" theme.
Sabbath, August 29, Mr. Baird's sermon dwelt mainly with the more interesting and profitable highlights of his tour. Mr. Baird and Mr. Pruner baptized 40.8% of those who were met!
After having covered so much territory, there was one thing in particular that impressed Mr. Baird concerning our nation. He said that the physical pollution of our streams and rivers is very extant throughout the country, whereas 25 years ago [c. 1939] such conditions did not exist. Factory and industrial wastes, raw sewage, and pollutions of every type are being dumped in to our rivers and are in evidence everywhere. This just another sign of the times.
We are all very happy to have Mr. Baird back with us again and certainly appreciate the golden opportunities we have in a local church area especially after hearing of those who are not so fortunate.
Remember, if you are ever inclined to give Mr. Baird a stereo album--he especially like, "Almost Around the World in 80 Days." (pp. 1-2.)
Gerald Flurry is credited as one of four "regional editors" for the Church of God News in the October-November 1965 and April-May 1966 issues as well as may be seen on page 2 of those issues.
In 1967 Gerald Flurry was accepted for Ambassador College.
Chancellor Flurry spoke for 30 minutes about his personal experiences, centering on his time at Ambassador between his acceptance in 1967 and his graduation in 1970. ... But then the door to attend Ambassador College as a married student opened at the last minute. Mr. Flurry said he was accepted on a Friday and he and his wife, Barbara, left for Pasadena, California, less than three days later. (Phillip Nice and Grant Turgeon, "Graduates, Faculty Attend First Herbert W. Armstrong College Reunion," January 8, 2016.)Gerald Flurry graduated in 1970. He was well on his way to becoming a minister for WCG.
The April 30, 1973 issue of Worldwide News lists Flurry as a local elder.
Local Elders (in our employ) .... Gerald R. Flurry. Norwalk-Santa Ana, Calif; (p. 20.)The November 26, 1973 issue of Worldwide News also lists Flurry as a local elder.
Local Elders (in our employ) .... Gerald R. Flurry. Norwalk-Santa Ana, Calif; (p. 14.)The May 26, 1975 issue of Worldwide News lists Flurry as a preaching elder in Norwalk, California. (p. 2.)
Later in 1975 Flurry was transferred to Pasco, Washington. He would remain there as minister for WCG until 1985.
The March 15, 1976 issue of Worldwide News mentions a Spokesman Club meeting in Richland, Washington.
PASCO, Wash. - An inn in Richland, Wash., was the gathering place for the first Spokesman Club ladies' night of the season here the evening of Feb. 7. Jerry Ribail, president, welcomed the 19 regulars and 22 guests to a dinner of roast turkey. Toastmaster was Joe Daniels, and topicmaster was Richard Green . Guests came from as far as Spokane, Wash. (160 miles), outdistancing the participants themselves, who are from such places as Walla Walla, Moses Lake and Yakima, Wash., and Pilot Rock, Ore. Trophies were won by Jack Elder, Kelly Gangnath and Charles Lenhart. Gerald Flurry, director and minister, made the awards. (p. 13.)(Right below that article is another little article describing a gathering of "nonwhite" South African members of WCG. At the time South Africa was severely segregated under the Apartheid regime. Shamefully PCG has continuously chosen to sympathize with the Apartheid regime to this day.)
The August 2, 1976 issue of Worldwide News mentions a celebration of the bicentennial in 1976 with a camping trip at Pendleton, Oregon.
PASCO, Wash. - The church here celebrated the bicentennial July 3, 4 and 5 with a three-day camp-out at Westminster Woods, in the Blue Mountains 25 miles east of Pendleton, Ore. ... Afternoon services were attended by 89 people, conducted by pastor Gerald Flurry in the outdoor amphitheater under blue skies and majestic pines. (p. 14.)The September 23, 1976 issue of Worldwide News mentions a marriage officiated by Flurry. (p. 10.)
The April 25, 1977 issue of Worldwide News contains the following anecdote.
Minister Gerald Flurry had the misfortune of pushing down the button on a spray can that was pointed in the wrong direction. (p. 12.)The May 9, 1977 issue of Worldwide News discussed an AICF seminar that was promoted by Gerald Flurry and Dennis Leap.
PASCO, Wash. - Art Mokarow, director of the AICF Extension Center, held an all-day session with two seminars here April 10, with about 150 attending. The first was "Talent and Skill Development" and dealt with choosing a career and finding ways to discover and develop one's talents. The second seminar, "Achieving Marital Compatability," gave insight into the formula for a more successful marriage relationship. For several weeks prior to the seminars, Gerald Flurry, pastor here, and Dennis Leap, librarian for Umatilla County Library and AICF representative, spoke at Rotary, Kiwanis and other service clubs about the seminars. (p. 8.)Umatilla County is in Oregon. Could it be that it was during the preparations for this event that Gerald Flurry and Dennis Leap first met? If so this would prove to have been a fateful encounter. Leap would later become one of Flurry's main collaborators in establishing PCG. Several early booklets are credited as being co-written by him.
The May 1, 1978 issue of Pastor's Report lists a new church in Quincy, Washington that was under Gerald Flurry. (p. 2.)
The May 8, 1978 issue of Worldwide News mentions that a new congregation was established in Quincy, Washington with Flurry as pastor. (p. 1.)
The February 8, 1980 issue of Pastor General's Report contains the following brief report from Flurry.
Gerald Flurry, Tonasket, WA: "Strong little Church with good spirit."The June 2, 1980 issue of Worldwide News mentions that Gerald Flurry got caught up in the traffic disruption caused by the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Note that it is not Flurry who speaks in this article.
Gerald Flurry, Pasco, WA: "Overall, people are in a good spirit--excited about the Work. Some growth." (p. 7.)
Gerald Flurry, pastor of the Pasco, Wash., church 145 miles due east of the mountain, and of the Yakima and Quincy churches, which are closer and in the direct path of the cloud of ash, was visiting in northern Washington Sunday. He was stranded in Ephrata, near Quincy, when the highway patrol closed all roads to travel. Mr. Flurry stayed there with local elder Irvin Hardman until Tuesday when highways were clear enough for some traffic, but Mr. Hardman said driving conditions are still dangerous.The July 25, 1980 issue of the Pastor General's Report contains the following "special letter of appreciation" from Gerald Flurry and his wife.
"The dust is like driving into flour," he said. "You go about 20 miles before your air filter is filled up." (p. 1.)
We can't ever remember foundational knowledge having such an impact on our lives. Our hands are almost paralyzed from writing! It seems to us that the ministry is more unified and teachable than we have been for years. And the greatest Teacher of all is truly teaching as never before. We thank God and Mr. Armstrong for making it all possible. Gerald and Barbara Flurry (p. 6.)Flurry had no idea that anything like the Tkach changes would occur just a few years later.
The November 14, 1980 issue of the Pastor General's Report contains the following letter from a lay member affirming loyalty to the local ministry. In this instance the praise is directed towards Gerald Flurry.
Thank the Eternal God who gave our small church here in Quincy a man like Mr. Gerald Flurry to be a minister over us. He is a very loyal man to the Church and with his love has helped us all. We are so blessed to have him here with us. (p. 22.)The January 26, 1981 issue of Worldwide News mentions a family night held on December 27, 1980.
The TONASKET, Wash., church had a family night Dec. 27. following services and a potluck dinner, the activities began and included games for those of YES age, a discussion by minister Gerald Flurry with the YOU and dancing for every age, led by minister Eldon Davis and his wife. (p. 4.)The May 18, 1981 issue of Worldwide News contains a story about a WCG member who said that her son was miraculously healed. Flurry is mentioned in the report.
"During her contractions, the baby's heart would stop," said Gerald R. Flurry, pastor of the Pasco, Wash., church. ... [After the mother was told her new born baby was severely disabled she called Flurry to pray for her new born baby.]
After being called, Mr. Flurry contacted several other Church members and asked them to pray also. As [the mother] learned later, [the new born son] began breathing on his own almost immediately after the prayer request and was taken off an artificial respirator. ...
"Now whenever the nurses talk about the ... baby, they refer to [the new born son] as the 'miracle baby,'" said Mr. Flurry. (p. 5.)HWA and some of his imitators taught anti-medicine superstitions to their followers that caused many of his followers to neglect their health. Some even died because of this doctrine of death. Shamefully to this day Gerald Flurry continues to promote HWA's deadly anti-medicine superstition. He is fully aware that those indoctrinated to neglect their health can very well die because of such neglect as may be seen in these words printed in a 2004 booklet of his.
This is REAL, ABUNDANT LIVING—EVEN IF WE ARE DYING PHYSICALLY! Over the years in my ministry, I have seen a few people physically rot right before my eyes and yet remain loyal to God every step of the way to the end! Though it must be one of the most grotesque sights to see, at the same time it is one of the MOST MAJESTICALLY NOBLE examples ever on Earth, from God’s point of view! If someone is being loyal in circumstances like that, he or she is BEARING WITNESS OF THE FATHER! What a precious, extraordinary beauty that is! I know I will see those people again, and they will live FOREVER AND EVER! When resurrected, they won’t remember that trial for very long. They will have ETERNAL LIFE!Could it be possible that this happy incident encouraged him to promote this dangerous superstition? That would be terrible. This dangerous anti-medicine superstition must be strongly opposed.
Are you prepared to trust God to heal you, now or in the resurrection? Well done, good and faithful servant, He will say if we trust Him to the end. (Gerald Flurry, The Last Hour, 2004, 2007, Chapter 5, p. 54.)
The August 21, 1981 issue of the Pastor General's Report contains this "comment from monthly church reports".
TONASKET, WA--GERALD R. FLURRY: This area seems to be getting more interested people. We're working with close to half a dozen new people! Some in this area are focused on personal survival. We're working to balance them out while helping them to focus on God! (p. 11.)The January 18, 1982 issue of Worldwide News mentions a celebration of the five year anniversary of the Yakima congregation. (If it is good to celebrate a congregation's anniversary why is it wrong to celebrate the anniversary of your children's birth?)
A dinner marked the fifth anniversary celebration of the YAKIMA. Wash., church Nov. 14. Pastor Gerald Flurry pointed out a number of "firsts" in the church: first birth ... first baptisms ... first marriage ... first Ambassador student ... and the first outhouse blown down in the wind.... Don Talbot gave a historical five-year review of the church. The children's choir ... and children's games rounded out the program. A photo album-scrapbook provided memories for all to share. (p. 8.)The February 15, 1982 issue of Worldwide News features this report of a celebration of the Pasco congregation's ten year anniversary. Notably the report was written by Dennis Leap who would be one of Flurry's early collaborators in establishing PCG. (If it is good to celebrate a congregation's anniversary why is it wrong to celebrate the anniversary of your children's birth?)
The PASCO, Wash., church's 10th anniversary was celebrated Jan. 20 with an elegant dinner prepared by deacon Jim Cobb. The gratis, sit-down meal consisted of salad, roast beef, baked potatoes, vegetables and apple pie and ice cream. The dinner was served by formally dressed YOU members. Minister Ed Oettel gave a short pictorial history of church events and socials, and pastor Gerald Flurry thanked everyone for his serving attitude, dedication and loyalty. Paul Heisler directed a musical presentation that featured piano and vocal solos and the church chorale. Dennis R. Leap. (p. 8.)The April 26, 1982 issue of Worldwide News contains the following report.
A family weekend took place in SPOKANE. Wash., March 19 to 21 for eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana members. Sabbath services were oriented to the family with the sermonette by Pasco. Wash., pastor Gerald Flurry and the sermon by pastor Roger Foster, who also conducted a Friday night Bible study. A dinner and dance that evening took place at the Masonic Temple. The YOU served the meal, which was prepared in advance by the women of the church. Sunday, families took part in the events at the Mead High School gym and field house. There were games, races and tournaments for all ages to enjoy. A high point was a basketball game with dads and young children. The YOU cheerleaders displayed their routines, and the boys their basketball skills. (pp. 8-9.)The July 5, 1982 issue of Worldwide News contains an article discussing the recession. The article briefly mentions Flurry.
Gerald Flurry, pastor of the Pasco, Quincy, Tonasket and Yakima, Wash., churches, remarked that unemployment in the Tonasket area is above 20 percent, "but it's not quite that high in the church." (p. 8.)The July 11, 1983 issue of Worldwide News contains an obituary mentioning that Flurry conducted a funeral. (p. 10.)
(This issue contains an article by a WCG writer visiting Syria. No mention is made of the insurgency that ended with such bloodshed in Hama just one year earlier with about 20,000 people killed off in a government crackdown. A generation later the government showed it learned nothing from it and provoked a popular uprising that some extremists like ISIL have since hijacked. The struggle continues.)
The October 24, 1983 issue of Worldwide News mentions that Gerald Flurry gave a sermon during the Feast of Tabernacles at Spokane, Washington.
Gerald Flurry asked how real the coming Kingdom is to brethren.... (p. 5.)The February 27, 1984 issue of Worldwide News mentions a fund raising inventory that was made on the evening of January 14, 1984.
After the Sabbath Jan. 14, 112 Church and YOU members from PASCO and TONASKET, Wash., combined for a fund-raising inventory at the Bon Marche department store. Under the direction of Gerald Flurry, pastor of the Pasco, Quincy, Tonasket and Yakima, Wash., churches, the churches have conducted inventories to raise funds since 1978. The original contact with store officials was made by Patty Sexton, wife of Rex Sexton, a local elder in the Tonasket church. During the inventory 10 to 20 members assigned to each department in the store work under the supervision of department managers. ... Part of the money earned from the Bon Marche inventory will be sent to Pasadena, and the rest will help finance annual formal dances. "I believe the opportunity for direct service and working and cooperating between brethren is valuable experience for the future," said Mr. Flurry. "I believe we'll be doing a lot of this in the future." (p. 8.)The July 30, 1984 issue of Worldwide News features a photo of Gerald and Barbara Flurry after they had completed a "ministerial refreshing program" that was held July 11-24, 1984. The caption reads as follows.
Gerald & Barbara FlurryThe August 3, 1984 issue of the Pastor General's Report contains the following "comment from monthly church reports".
Pasco, Quincy, Tonasket and Yakima, Wash. (p. 4.)
PASCO, WA--GERALD FLURRY: God is allowing His people to be tested. Most are responding extremely well. Some have had very difficult trials, but the end result has produced miraculous changes. The people involved are seeing that nothing short of what God allowed would have brought about the wonderful changes.The November 12, 1984 issue of Worldwide News made the following report about the Feast of Tabernacles observed in Spokane, Washington.
SPOKANE, Wash. - The family that God is building forever was the theme of sermons at the Feast here where 2,816 attended. How to strengthen members' families tied in with the overall theme. Sermon topics included Christian leadership, the members' calling to be kings, judges and priests, and the Great White Throne Judgment by evangelist Richard Ames; ... the Eternal's Feast of Tabernacles by Gerald Flurry.... (p. 5.)The March 8, 1985 issue of the Pastor General's Report contains the following announcement of Dennis Leap's ordination as a local church elder. Dennis Leap was one of Flurry's early supporters in establishing PCG. He even co-wrote several of PCG's early booklets.
Recent OrdinationsThe May 10, 1985 issue of the Pastor General's Report announces Gerald Flurry's transfer from Pasco, Washington to Oklahoma City. Flurry was replaced by Harold Smith. (p. 4.)
On the Sabbath, December 1, 1984, Mr. Dennis Leap was ordained a local church elder by Mr. Gerald Flurry, pastor of the Pasco, Washington congregation. Mr. Leap, who recently moved to New York, now serves in the Buffalo (South), New York church. (p. 3.)
And so it came to pass that in 1985 Gerald Flurry had been transferred to Oklahoma City.
On January 16, 1986 HWA died and was succeeded by Joseph Tkach Sr. Tkach would later lead the Tkach changes in which most of HWA's teachings would be renounced by the organization.
The February 24, 1986 issue of Worldwide News mentions that Flurry officiated at a funeral. (p. 11.)
The May 19, 1986 issue of Worldwide News mentions Flurry twice.
First a singles evening is mentioned.
OKLAHOMA CITY. Okla., singles built an evening around an old-fashioned box social March 29. Gerald Flurry, pastor of the Oklahoma City and Enid, Okla. churches, and Charles Holladay, associate pastor, auctioned prepared and decorated box dinners to the highest bidders.Secondly a near miss avoiding a tornado on May 8, 1986 is mentioned.
After the meal singles viewed baby pictures of each other and tried to identify them. [Name] guessed all correctly. Mr. Flurry read facts about each single and invited the others to guess whom he described. [Name] and [Name] were winners of a card-game mixer. The auction covered the cost of the activity and added to the church activity fund. (p. 8.)
EDMOND, Okla. - A tornado cut a two-mile strip of destruction May 8 two blocks north and 1 [and a half] blocks west of the home of Gerald and Barbara Flurry. Mr. Flurry pastors the Enid and Oklahoma City, Okla. churches. The Flurrys left for a Bible study about 35 minutes before the tornado touched down. "We didn't know it had happened until after Bible study," said Mr. Flurry, "and then we couldn't get into our home because the area had been scaled off." Although the tornado destroyed 45 homes and damaged 90 others, there were only about 15 minor injuries. Seven or eight Church families live in Edmond, but nbne suffered properly damage or injury, Mr. Flurry said. "We were the closest," he said, "and yet at our house it hardly looked like there was a storm. A little of the fence was knocked down by the wind, but that's it." Mrs. Flurry said the area where the tornado touched down looked like a war zone," like an area that's just been bombed." (p. 12.)The December 21, 1987 issue of Worldwide News mentions this event that occurred on November 15, 1987.
Forty widows and widowers attended a banquet in their honor at the Midwest City, Okla., Community Center Nov. 15 sponsored by the Oklahoma City, Okla., Church youths. ...The May 30, 1988 issue of Worldwide News mentions that Gerald Flurry officiated at a wedding.
"When you look at the youth of the world, it is different to see our young people serving the seniors and enjoying it. It is proof that we are turning them around as God has told us we should do," said Gerald Flurry, pastor of the Oklahoma City and Enid, Okla., churches. "We were so impressed that we will make it an annual event to serve the Silver Ambassadors. It will also give our youth an opportunity to rehearse for the annual talent contest," he said. (p. 6.)
The ceremony was performed by Gerald Flurry, pastor of the Oklahoma City and Enid, Okla., churches. (p. 6.)In December 1989 Gerald Flurry and John Amos were kicked out of WCG. They founded PCG.
The first booklet they published was Malachi's Message. It is widely known that many of the ideas within Malachi's Message were plagiarized from The Letter to Laodicea by Jules Dervaes, written December 1986-January 1988. It was sent to 237 WCG ministers including Gerald Flurry and John Amos. In fact on September 26, 1990 Jules Dervaes sent a letter to Gerald Flurry in which he denounces Malachi's Message as "a direct and clear plagiarism" of his work.
The June 24, 1991 issue of Worldwide News contains a polemic critiquing Malachi's Message as mentioned in a previous post. (p. 4.)
But by then Flurry's bridges with WCG had been well and truly burned. PCG proceeded to exploit the escalating turmoil of the Tkach changes for all they could.