Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God
The Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God (COG-PKG) is an apocalypticist splinter sect of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) that claims to provide "support, education and warning" to former members of the WCG. It is one of many groups that left the WCG after its sweeping doctrinal changes in the late 1980s, and forms a part of the seventh-day Sabbatarian Churches of God, following the teachings of the WCG's founder, Herbert W. Armstrong. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, the COG-PKG is an international church which is mostly active on the Internet. It was founded in 2000 by Ronald Weinland, a former WCG minister and convicted tax evader who has made a number of public end times predictions. In November 2012, Weinland was sentenced to 42 months in prison for tax evasion; he began his prison term in February 2013, though he continued to issue sermons and prophecies to his followers.
The COG-PKG is led by its founder Ronald Weinland (born May 30, 1949), a Colorado-born minister who served in the WCG from 1981 to 1995. When the church made major doctrinal changes after Herbert Armstrong's death in 1986, Weinland moved to the United Church of God (UCG). He served the UCG's Toledo, Ohio, congregation until 1997, when he departed after issuing an open letter to the church criticizing its management. In 1998, Weinland started publishing a newsletter called "News Watch", which ran for about four years and helped establish the prophetic themes of his later ministry. He founded the COG-PKG in 2000.
Tax evasion trial and imprisonment
On November 10, 2011, Weinland was indicted by a federal grand jury on five charges of tax evasion. It was alleged that he had understated his income on federal tax returns, redirected COG-PKG church funds for personal use and concealed the existence of a Swiss bank account.
Weinland admitted that church funds were placed in a bank account in Switzerland and that his was one of the two names on the account, but denied that there was any tax evasion, and stated that all funds had since been repatriated to the United States and used for church advertising. Weinland informed his church before opening the account, in a December 2002 sermon entitled "Planning Ahead."
Weinland's trial began on June 4, 2012. On June 13, after less than four hours of deliberation, a jury found Weinland guilty on all counts of tax evasion. He remained under house detention and electronic surveillance until his sentencing hearing. On November 14, 2012, Weinland was sentenced to 42 months' imprisonment and a $245,000 tax restitution; his prison term began on February 1, 2013, and will end in 2016. He is currently an inmate at Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution, Indiana. He remains the head of the COG-PKG in absentia and continues to issue statements and prophecies from prison, but has delegated church elders to deliver sermons in his stead.
Weinland founded the COG-PKG in 2000, drawing followers from UCG's Toledo congregation and ex-WCG members in Georgia and Texas. Prior to his imprisonment, Weinland delivered his sermons weekly on Saturday afternoons to church members throughout the United States and Canada via live streaming audio on the Internet. The COG-PKG also has a number of members overseas who listen to recordings of the sermons. The church's headquarters are located in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a 2009 sermon, Weinland warned that critics who mocked him or the COG-PKG would be divinely cursed with "a sickness that will eat them from the inside out".
Under Weinland's tutelage, the COG-PKG has adopted an apocalyptic belief in the imminent end of the existing world order. Weinland has repeatedly predicted the swift return of Jesus Christ, whom he believes will set up the Kingdom of God upon the Earth. This view was expressed in Weinland's books, The Prophesied End-Time and 2008 – God's Final Witness. In 2006, Weinland identified himself to be "the spokesman of [God's] two end-time witnesses", who are mentioned in the Book of Revelation. In an April 2008 sermon, he identified his wife, Laura, as the other witness of Revelation, and called Pope Benedict XVI a "false prophet". Weinland furthermore claimed that he was "an end-time apostle to the world" and "the end-time Elijah to come", as mentioned in Malachi 4:5-6.
2012 and 2013 prophecies
In 2008, Weinland wrote that "the final countdown has begun, as the 1,335 days before the actual day Jesus Christ returns began on Tuesday, September 30, 2008." Weinland later changed his prophesied date for the return of Christ to Pentecost of 2012, which fell on May 27. Prior to this date, Weinland declared that 7,000 ministers and leading members of the Sabbatarian Churches of God would die in the Great Tribulation.
May 27, 2012, passed without Weinland's predicted apocalypse. In a blog posting dated May 26, 2012, Weinland acknowledged that "nothing has begun in the world that would signal the need or purpose for ... Christ’s return". He urged his followers to "move forward", and suggested that God had been, and continued to be, merciful to his people. He later stated that the end of the world had indeed begun on May 27, 2012, but would take "one year to become fulfilled". Weinland next asserted that Christ would return on May 19, 2013 (Pentecost Sunday), but later withdrew this prediction. In a blog post dated May 13, 2013, Weinland stated that Christ would return on some future Pentecost Sunday, but only when the Earth had endured "much suffering"; he did not give a specific year. He expressed hope that members would remain with the church after May 19, 2013, which passed without any apocalyptic event.
- Philadelphia Church of God, a similar apocalypticist splinter church
- Stated on COG-PKG Homepage. Retrieved January 7, 2008.
- "Jury convicts minister of tax evasion". WLWT. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- "Jesus returning on May 27? Indiana pastor urges Christians to pray for the well-being of doomsday ‘prophet’". God Discussion. May 25, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- "Time Time and Half-a-Time Redux". RonaldWeinland.info. November 24, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- "CGPFKG’s Ronald Weinland to report to prison today". Church of God News. February 1, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- "A Personal Timeline for False Prophet Ronald Weinland". RonaldWeinland.info. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- Weinland, Ronald. "Open letter from UCG pastor Ron Weinland on UCG concerns and problems". In-Transition: News of the Churches of God. The Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- "PRESS RELEASE November 10, 2011". Eastern District of Kentucky. The United States Attorney's Office. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- "Church of God pastor indicted for tax evasion, predicts coming of Christ". FOX 19. WXIX. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- Goldsmith, Ethan. "Local minister indicted for tax evasion charges". FOX 19. WXIX. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- Hannah, Jim. "Minister indicted for tax evasion". Cincinnati Enquirer. Gannett. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- Kegley, Josh. "Union minister is indicted on income tax-evasion charges". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- Goldsmith, Ethan (November 10, 2011). "Local minister indicted for tax evasion charges". Fox 19. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Weinland, Ronald (November 26, 2011). "Indictment". RonaldWeinland.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Weinland, Ronald (December 28, 2002). "Planning Ahead". Church of God-PKG Sermon Archive. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
- "Criminal Trial News Day 1". RonaldWeinland.info. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
- "Jury finds Church of God pastor guilty of tax evasion". WXIX. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- "Recent Sermons". COG-PKG.org. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
- Weinland, Ronald (June 13, 2009). "A Warning to Mockers". YouTube. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- Weinland, Ronald (2006). 2008 – God's Final Witness (PDF). Cincinnati, OH: COG-PKG. p. 109. ISBN 0-9753240-6-3. Retrieved April 25, 2008. "The growing manifestation of proof that I am God’s end-time prophet and that I am the spokesman of His two end-time witnesses is a thunder that will become powerfully stronger all the way up until the very return of Jesus Christ."
- Revelation 11:1. "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."
- Stated on Ronald Weinland's blog entry "Second Witness". Retrieved March 2, 2013.
- Weinland, Ronald. "James Whale Show – April 4, 2008". TalkSport Radio via COG-PKG. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- "The 'Elijah to Come'". Ronald Weinland's blog. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
- Weinland, Ronald. "Feast of Trumpets Holy Days Calendar". Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God. Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
- Kissick, Peter (May 26, 2012). "Eurovision 2012: a sign of the apocalypse?". ThePhonograph.co.uk. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- Stated on Ronald Weinland's blog entry "'In' The Final Three and One-Half Years". March 6, 2009. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- "Ron Weinland: 7,000 Ministers and Leading COG Members Will Soon Die". Banned by HWA. Armstrongism Library. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- "NKY evangelist's trial exposes lavish lifestyle". WLWT. June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- Weinland, Ron. "The Present Truth". Ronald Weinland Blog. Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- "The Day of Christ's Coming". RonaldWeinland.com. May 30, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- "Timing and our Commission". RonaldWeinland.com. May 13, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2013.