Who Was Ronald Weinland?
Who in the world was Ronald Weinland before he appointed himself one of the two witnesses?
Those who cannot remember their history are doomed to repeat it. –Plaque inside the Jonestown pavilion. Updated July 6.
This timeline is taken from Weinland’s own words, and comments made by ex-members who had inside experience with being members of Weinland’s, and his mentor Bob League’s, congregations in the Worldwide Church of God.
Born in 1949, the CoG-PKG’s “end-time prophet of god”, the self-professed “one of the two individuals referred to in scripture as the two witnesses from the book of Revelation”, Weinland joined the Worldwide Church of God in 1969 in Kansas.
Weinland claims to have attended Bricket Wood, the United Kingdom campus of Ambassador College. From his (unaccredited) degree from AC, he then went on to become a member of the ministry in the WCG.
Weinland got his start as associate pastor to Bob League in Cincinnati, OH, sometime around 1984. League has been described by ex-members as a tyrant and a ranting dictator, with everything based on the congregation’s submission to ministerial authority (i.e., League). This was the political atmosphere in which Weinland was “trained” as a minister.
Weinland was then awarded congregation(s) of his own in Pennsylvania, serving the areas of Franklin and Erie, sometime in the mid-80s. Weinland apparently did a lot of “fund-raising” while there: One member recounted being a part of “mass-producing” a large quantity of fruit baskets for sale by the congregation (in other words, sweatshop labour, and one wonders exactly where the proceeds went).
Another alleged incident in Pennsylvania with Weinland involved his using construction labour drawn from the congregation in Erie to build a home, which he then sold for his own profit. Weinland was transferred to Toledo, OH six months after this incident, presumably because of the anger and resentment in the Erie congregation over his having sold and profited from the house church members had built for him.
Reported in The Journal (a CoG-sympathetic publication that is lax in both objectivity and good journalism) May 26, 1995, Weinland is listed as one of the ministers fired from the WCG for not going along with the doctrinal changes imposed by Joe Tkach Sr. in December 1994.
Weinland was then a minister for two years in the United Church of God, and publicly complained in December of 1996, reported in both The Journal and The Servants News (a publication geared at disaffected Church of God ministers who still hold to Armstrongism). Weinland is reported in TSN as sending the complaint letter in January, and the date on the letter printed by The Journal is Dec. 27, 1996.
The key component of Weinland’s complaint letter to the United Church of God Council of Elders is in the opening paragraph:
“…just before that trip, I had also received my Pastor General’s Report from Pasadena which spoke of sweeping changes in doctrine. Since I was so wide awake and couldn’t sleep, due to agonizing over the questions of our future course, I drove the trip straight through. Perhaps that might not be considered wise to do so, but I did it anyway, because my mind was racing with questions, scriptures, prayers, doubt, frustration, and a whole lot more.”
(Weinland is speaking here of the lead-up to his dismissal from the Worldwide Church of God in 1994.)
“For somebody who used to sleep like a baby, I found I could hardly sleep at all. My mind was constantly racing and wouldn’t stop so that I could sleep.”
Note in his complaint letter to United, Weinland states that he resigned from WCG, while the list published in The Journal puts his name on a list published by Joe Tkach Jr. of ministers who were fired or retired.
“I knew the faithful tithes that paid me as a minister came from God. But like a parent who can’t go back to do a better job on his children a second time, we can only go forward — repent where we need to and change where we can.”
Weinland is here speaking of his departure from the Worldwide Church of God. CoG-PKG still demands tithes and special offerings up to or exceeding 30% of members’ income. They also demand “entrance fees”: The church requires a tithe before the prospective member can be baptized.
“One can begin to look at everything in a Pollyanna context. It isn’t a healthy thing to see all things through rose colored glasses, with a blind faith that God is somehow inspiring and doing all that is taking place in UCG. We should never forget that in our past, God has allowed people to make very wrong decisions and has allowed people to be placed in positions of administration that have caused great harm to the church.“
Here Weinland is discussing his problems with the United Church of God splinter. It is ironic that Weinland is unable to see that he is essentially guilty of the same thing he accused the UCG council of elders of, twelve years ago.
“In addition, there are many questions concerning the “Statement of Activities” which is being reported in “New Beginnings” on a quarterly basis. This accounting method only gives data and is not informational. It is quite incomplete to be of real value to the brethren. This is especially true since they have no comparison they can make with the budget, nor are the beginning and ending balances recorded. How much money is actually in the bank? Is it true that the reserves are being depleted at a rate of nearly $500,000 per month? Wasn’t the estimate for reserves for April 1, 1997 figured at $5.5 million, but will instead be closer to only $1 million? These and many other questions need to be asked and answered.”
Ironic that Weinland should be accusing the UCG council of elders for misappropriating funds, when he quite clearly did the same thing himself, while in Pennsylvania under the WCG, and presumably continues to do the same, with the money appropriated from the tithes of CoG-PKG faithful (tithes, one notes, that are a prerequisite for baptism, according to the church itself).
(An independent full financial audit of the Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God’s books would clear up any vagueness as to what Weinland is doing with his peoples’ money. It has been stated online that Weinland’s daughter is the accountant for the organization.)
At the time that he resigned from the United Church of God in 1997, Weinland remained in Ohio, and a percentage of the members from the Toledo and Detroit congregations were reported by The Servants News as going with him. There was a small group in Meadville Pennsylvania, and a larger group from Cincinnati that Weinland had recruited, possibly outside of the United fold, who also went with him at this time.
These congregations were presumably the basis of what was to become Weinland’s CoG-PKG. However, one more split happened in these congregations (known as the Church of God, Toledo), before the PKG incorporated. More details here.
Wayne Matthews has been verified as a former minister of the Australian United Church of God. Matthews helped arrange the Melbourne leg of a speaking tour for Anglo-Israelism proponent Rick Sherrod in 1998 in that capacity.
John(ny) Harrell is alleged to have come from United as well (after “a short stay”), but further verification of that information is ongoing. Email to United Church of God requesting verification of Harrell’s employment with them has not been responded to. He is purported to have been a long-time member of WCG (between twenty-five and thirty years) prior to his alleged association with UCG, but no information has been verified as to what he did prior to joining WCG. Harrell is alleged to have had a well-established home construction company in Macon, Georgia, for over 30 years, but that has not been verified.
There has been some speculation, mainly due to Weinland’s accusation of Rod Meredith’s refusal to acknowledge him (Weinland) as one of the two witnesses, and the “prophecy” that Meredith is going to die as a part of “the fifth thunder” that Weinland may have entertained a brief stint in the Living Church of God before breaking away completely. This speculation, according to one LCG apologist, is incorrect, as confirmed by the information above.