Joseph Tkach Sr. died of cancer in September of 1995. Prior to his death, he made arrangements for his son to succeed him as pastor general. (Before that, Mr. Tkach Jr. had served as director of Church Administration.)
In 1997, Mr. Tkach Jr. wrote Transformed by Truth, condemning Mr. Armstrong and his teachings. By that point, wcg leaders were proud of their “unprecedented” changes, even though they had concealed those changes early on. When they started making changes soon after Mr. Armstrong’s death, they denied it. When the changes became more obvious in the early 1990s, Mr. Tkach Sr. told wcg members that Mr. Armstrong, on his deathbed, said he wanted these many changes made. But by 1997, Mr. Tkach Jr. and wcg officials labeled Mr. Armstrong a heretic and took credit themselves for leading the wcg “out of darkness and into the light.”
Concurrent with these many changes in doctrine and traditions has been the steady decline of the wcg’s work. By 2004, the annual income was down to $18 million—less than one 10th of what it was in the late 1980s. As mentioned on page 71, the World Tomorrow program, once on over 400 stations, has since been canceled. Both college campuses, in Pasadena and Big Sandy, have now closed and been sold. Church membership figures are far below the more than 100,000 baptized members counted in the 1980s. Many splinter groups have attracted disgruntled members. (Even key wcg figures mentioned in this book, like Donald Ward and Larry Salyer, have gone their separate ways.)
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Church of God has continued to grow and prosper. In January 1997, we decided to reprint and distribute Mr. Armstrong’s final book, Mystery of the Ages. Weeks later, the wcg filed a lawsuit trying to stop us. We responded to their lawsuit by filing our own counterclaim—seeking to reprint and distribute 18 additional works of Mr. Armstrong that we consider central to our beliefs.
In March of 2003, we obtained the copyrights to Mystery of the Ages and the 18 other works of Mr. Armstrong we sought in our counterclaim. In less than a year, we had printed most of them and now offer them to anyone who requests these life-changing works, free of charge.
The Worldwide Church may have disfellowshiped Herbert Armstrong from their own church, postmortem, but they will never do away with his teachings. As this ongoing story unfolds and the Worldwide Church continues to self-destruct, be assured the work of Mr. Armstrong will never die. God’s end-time message from Malachi will go out. The Work will continue.