The Worldwide Church of God, once led by the late Herbert W. Armstrong, was considered by many to be a cult. It allegedly had over 140,000 members in its prime. The church changed its doctrines after the 1986 death of Armstrong, which led to numerous people leaving the church and the formation of various "splinter churches." The Worldwide Church of God changed its name to Grace Communion International, probably a move to cut its ties to its cult reputation and the dozens of Armstrong splinter groups. The new organization is not considered to be a cult, but more in line with mainstream Christianity.
Although Armstrong has been dead for over 20 years, those familiar with his church are still passionate about his influence. Some staunchly cling to his teachings; others feel abused, disillusioned and/or angry. Various websites and blogs continue to provide news and support for former members.
The various splinter churches that rose from the ashes of the old version of the Worldwide Church of God each appear to be proclaiming to be "the one true church" and true champions of Armstrongism. They are strict Friday sunset to Saturday sunset Sabbath keepers. They continue to follow the "holy days" set forth in the Old Testament. They follow Armstrong's teachings about the Trinity, dietary laws, tithing and other subjects, including a belief in "the tribulation" and end times.
One of these splinter churches is the Church of God – PKG (Preparing for the Kingdom of God), headed up by Ronald Weinland. This church makes some bold statements about what constitutes "true seekers of God" and proclaims in its FAQ,
… it is expedient that each person be convicted of where God is leading them and where God is working. God's Church today is organized as the church of God – PKG (Preparing for the Kingdom of God). We are the prophesied remnant (that which remains from the scattering of the Church in the mid 1990's) that God is leading at this end-time. God has humbled His Church, and He has diminished its size. Hundreds of years ago, God prophesied the percentage that will be drawn back together as His final remnant in this end-time. From those who were originally scattered and spewed from God's mouth (that which has happened to the final era–the Laodicean era of Revelation 3:14), only a tithe of a third will be drawn back into fellowship with Him. In addition, even now God is drawing new people into fellowship who are being added to His Church (above the number of the remnant to be called back), and will continue to be added right up to the day Jesus Christ returns.
Perhaps the boldest claim being made by the Church of God – PKG is that it knows the exact day that Jesus is returning to earth.
That day is May 27, 2012.
More than ever, this is the time to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ. The Seventh Seal has now been opened and the world is being plunged into the final tribulation for mankind. Ronald Weinland, who is the pastor of God's Church on earth, has also been appointed by the God of Abraham to be His end-time prophet and one of the two end-time witnesses (and spokesman of both), preceding the return of Jesus Christ on May 27, 2012.
The church offers two free books that explain this prophesy: The Prophesied End-Time and 2008 – God's Final Witness, both authored by Weinland. "Although many will not take seriously what is written here, they will gradually experience disbelief and horror at the events covered in these books as they begin to unfold," the author explains.
On its corresponding site, The-End.com, readers are told:
The year 2008 marked the last of God’s warnings to mankind and the beginning in a countdown of the final three and one-half years of man’s self-rule that will end by May 27, 2012.
On December 14, 2008, the First Trumpet of the Seventh Seal of the Book of Revelation sounded, which announced the beginning collapse of the economy of the United States and great destruction that will follow. The next three trumpets will result in the total collapse of the United States, and once the Fifth Trumpet sounds the world will be thrust into WW III.
Weinland asserts that "God made him a prophet in 1997." Apparently, his wife is an associate prophet who also asserts that Jesus is coming back on May 27, 2012.
In a 2009 sermon, Weinland issued a warning to mockers: