the painful truth about the worldwide church of god

I am sorry to have to report that John Trechak, editor and publisher of the Ambassador Report, died the night of September 2nd, 1999.

There is probably no one man who is owed so much by so many former members of the Worldwide Church of God. If it were not for Trechak's determination to publish the truth about the Worldwide Church of God and to lay down his life for that purpose, we may all still be trapped in that cult. Trechak recorded the true history of the Worldwide Church of God and it was not a pretty story. Oh how they wished they could shut him up. He had to cost them thousands of members and millions of dollars.

Thank you John, for preserving the truth in the face of liars and cheats and corruption.

Thank you John, for my freedom.

Rest in peace and God bless, John Trechak.

Ed Sr.



I don't exactly know how to tell you this but I wanted to be the first person to let you know before you heard from anyone else. My dear friend, John Trechak, died tonight of a heart attack. He had been having health problems all summer and had been in and out of the hospital. We were all hoping that he would be able to pull through this but we also felt that he might not.

John was the bravest person I had ever met. He was afraid of no one and had confronted every controversial person in the church in his relentless effort to expose its corruption. Those who were among his close friends knew that he was a kind-hearted and devoted person. He was so close to friends like David Robinson that, when Robinson died, John mourned for days and when he called me to let me know it was extremely difficult for him to talk about it.

John was the most intelligent person I had ever met. Having spent many hours in conversation with him, I was constantly astounded at his insight and ability to talk about any subject with authority. He was extremely well read and understood more about literature than anyone I have ever talked to. A few years ago, he published a list of books that he felt everyone who had left the Worldwide Church of God should read for recovery. He collaborated with me on the list and told me it just scratched the surface of what he really wanted to offer. John had graduated from Julliard with a music degree before he went on to Pasadena to get his BA from Ambassador College. After leaving the Worldwide Church of God he went on to get his doctorate in law from Loyola University in Los Angeles.

Like true heroes, John will pass from this earth as a misunderstood and controversial person. He was ridiculed for years by Herbert Armstrong and his sycophants. The Ambassador Report was often called a "rag" by Worldwiders. But John was never sued and Worldwide Church of God evangelists were his most devoted readers. Tkach would have his assistants phone Trechak if he thought he didn't get his copy in the mailing. Church evangelists could rely on Trechak for facts they had forgotten or misplaced. Joe Sr. had offered John over $100,000 to give him the lost Swiss bank account number after Armstrong had died. Stan Rader too had offered a sum of money to Trechak to keep quiet. If John had simply wanted to become rich, he could have stopped publishing the AR and collected hush money. He didn't. When Rod Meredith was preparing to leave the Worldwide Church of God he phoned Trechak and told him to keep up the good work and that everything Trechak had written about homosexuals in the Worldwide Church of God was true.

There were so many things John refused to write about in the AR simply because he knew that no one would believe him if he did.

John was an active member of the Jack London Society. London was his favorite author. Like London, John disciplined himself to write about 3,000 words per day. He read voraciously and was constantly sending me newspaper clippings and sometimes whole books. So much of what he sent me, I never got around to reading.

John was a very private person who just lived from month to month on a humble salary. I never really understood why he did not get on with his life after leaving the Worldwide Church of God but remained devoted to publishing his Ambassador Report when he could get around to it. It was his life. When the church started becoming more and more mainstream, we wondered what John would do. I tried to encourage him to teach a college class in literature or writing. Others tried to encourage him too. I think we all felt that as Armstrongism died John would lose his purpose in life.

Within the last six years of his life John became one of the two best friends that I ever had. No one will ever fill that void.

Bruce Renehan


September 5, 1999

Dear Ed,

I was shocked this morning when scanning your web site!! The death of John Trechak grieves me. My most heartfelt condolence to the family of Mr. Trechak, a man that contributed to the Benefit of Humanity, and not the destruction of his fellow man.

I recall that to those who just left the cult John would send, at no charge, and with nothing expected in return, copies of current or past issues of A.R. As John put it "They were bleed white by the Worldwide Church of God."

Shortly after leaving the tkach cult, I learned of A.R. and knew without a doubt that I made the correct decision to leave. John's writings on the armstrong-tkach cult came at first as a surprise to me, for I had no idea of the extent of corruption within that cursed organization.

Truly Mr. Trechak will be sorely missed by many who were liberated by his newsletter, and we owe a deep gratitude to a decent and honorable man. My anger prompted me to ask my spouse this morning; If there is a GOD CREATOR why does he allow the good man to perish and the ripoff bastards to prosper? There is no answer to this question.

I really hope that A.R. will continue to be published by those who worked with John at the paper, and that the concept of continuing the exposure of corruption, and the greed of tkach, along with the other churches of god, (those religious brothels) that are operated by armstrong indoctrinated pimps!

In Mr. Trechak memory, perhaps all of us that support the exposure of these false ripoff religions, should make an extra effort to help our fellow man and educate them about the reality of herbert armstrong and his spiritual offspring, those who lay the foundation to the road of destruction. Call someone today!

Saddened by the news,




I was saddened to learn of the death of John Trechak. The church of god world is one of lies, distortion and spin. Trying to learn the truth is extremely difficult as pastors general and anointed ones re-write history in order to justify their reprehensible actions.

John Trechak saw the corruption of Armstrongism first hand, and dedicated his life to exposing it, at considerable cost to himself.

I discovered the Ambassador Report only recently. Friends of mine in the Worldwide Church of God would ask me why I read his publication. I would respond that while I couldn't verify every item reported in the Ambassador Report, I had seen enough during my eighteen years as a member to validate what I didn't witness directly. I didn't have to see everything; what I saw was bad enough, and it was very similar to what Trechak reported.

With the passing of John Trechak, the church of god movement loses one of its most effective watchdogs. It will be harder for those still taken in by the Armstrongist con game to break free from the fraud. It is a sad day for those who still believe in the Armstrong hoax.

Best regards,

Marc A. Mojica



Thanks for forwarding that letter from Bruce about John Trechak to me.

All I knew about him was that he was the Ambassador Report guy. I was very interested to hear about him personally and learning those details made him "real" to me.

As with all of us who have sites or speak out on Herbmania, we are much more than our Worldwide Church of God component. Despite what people must think, we have very rich lives apart from our connection with Herbert and company.

I know some people who visit your site or mine think our homes are squalid dens of Herbert W. Armstrong hatemongering with defaced pics of him on the walls and reminders of him all over the place. Or that we are consumed in our waking hours with spewing vitriolic diatribes on "the church."

My home, like yours, is typical middle class Americana in the suburbs. We have almost nothing in the house that would tell anyone we were ever a member a fringe cult. The Graveyard Church of God is a computer in a spare bedroom and my "church library" is one shelf of a bookcase.

I am more than the Graveyard Church of God and you are much more than the Painful Truth. I like philosophy, architecture, military history, popular culture, modern art and western swing music from the 1930s. I liked meeting you and getting to know more than just your Website.

I now know John Trechak was much more than the Ambassador Report guy.

The Caretaker


I was indeed saddened by the news of the death of John Trechak, which you have reported on your Website.

Although I never knew John personally, I submitted several pieces to Ambassador Report, which he was kind enough to publish. His words of encouragement regarding my writing were deeply appreciated. Most importantly, John will be missed by so many because of his relentless focus on the truth of what was happening, and is still happening, in the Worldwide Church of God and, later, its spiritual daughters. He helped to break the chains of bondage which held so many captive to the Worldwide Church of God, including me. We all owe him a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid for exposing spiritual and worldly corruption in what so many of us thought was "the True Church of God." In doing so, he led us to discover on our own where the "one true church" exists.

Vaya con Dios, John

Warren Carlson


I'm very sorry to learn of John Trechak's passing. I owe a lot to his courageous efforts, as do no doubt a countless number of your readers. I didn't start to read Ambassador Report until 1996, after the changes at Worldwide Church of God had given me back enough of my thinking capabilities to actually do a little research and thinking for myself. But once I did start getting into past issues, it became all too obvious that Worldwide Church of God had not really come clean about the past, and that it was not a healthy organization to continue to associate with.

It could not have been easy for John to take the stand for truth that he did back in the 70's. It could not have been easy to go against the Armstrong mind-control methods that so dominated most of our unsuspecting and fear-numbed minds. Most of us at that time were mortally afraid to even THINK, let alone SAY anything negative about HWA or "the church". But John took an unpopular stand, and has since been proven to be "right on" in most all of what he uncovered and brought to light.

I thank God that there are such men as John who were willing to do what is right, no matter what the cost. His example is one of the things that has spurred me one in the writings that I post from time to time. He will be missed.



I was sorry to hear of the death of John Trechak.

His work on the Ambassador Report was recognized by many cult watchers and people who try diligently to help former members of Worldwide Church of God reach peace. Though I did not know John personally, I will be forever grateful for his work.

Despite a great deal of personal attack, John continued to write and investigate in the hope of providing people with information that would lead to their personal freedom. He will be missed by many who he touched. May we continue his legacy.

May God bless John's family and be with them during this difficult time.



My husband and I were saddened to learn of John Trechak's death. Thank you for posting the letter from Bruce Renehan. John was a hero to me.

Best regard,

Dorothy Malm



Thanks for posting the letters and nice tribute to John Trechak.

I noticed a number of people said they felt he was a hero. I would have to agree heartily. The stand he (and all the others associated with the Ambassador Report) took in the face of such blatant religious hypocrisy is to be much admired. And the hostility he endured, from so many "christians" who are supposedly dedicated to truth but are afraid to open their eyes, would have been withering to the majority of us. But John always tried to stand tall in the face of all of it, despite his declining health. He paid a tremendous price with his health in order to keep the pressure on the great deceivers of Pasadena.

I had the privilege of speaking with John dozens of times on the phone, and I was always impressed with his intelligence, his unusual ways of looking at common things, and his wit. He had become a very dear friend, and will be sorely missed. It was always such a pleasure to talk to someone who had come out of the wcg with his brain and sense of humor intact. My hat is off to him for helping me and so many others to see the light, which allowed us to move on to much better things.

Scott Friesen



I just found your web site devoted to messages in remembrance of John.

I am touched, and I'm sure John would have been, too. Though I didn't know John as long as Bruce Renehan and many of his other friends who helped start the Ambassador Report, he became a dear friend to me, over time. In many ways, I owe him my life, as do others whom he helped not only to see the light about what was happening in the Worldwide Church of God, but to explore alternative interpretations of long-held Worldwide Church of God doctrines. By helping us explore theological alternatives -by being a clearinghouse and resource for other theological information -John helped many of us feel that while we were taking a step out of the known and into the unknown by leaving the Worldwide Church of God, we were not necessarily entering into a religious void.

John was a talented, intelligent and complex person. He devoted the better part of his talent and intelligence to helping reveal the truth about the institutional machinations of the Worldwide Church of God and the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do conduct of too many of its leaders. In doing this, he kept his focus on the church long after many of us had used the information and encouragement he gave us in order to go on with our lives and pursue degrees, careers, relationships and other meaningful things. You might say that John paid the price for our enlightenment by remaining, himself, in the shadow of the Worldwide Church of God for most of his life.

He was a good friend, and I miss him.

Brenda Denzler Ph.D.
(Religious Studies, Duke University).




Goodbye John Trechak

I have known John as far back as the initial publication of the Ambassador Review. By the time it was to go into its second issue John had put his mark on what became his distinctive publication, the Ambassador Report. It was always my pleasure to exchange ideas with John, speculate on possible outcomes, discuss various historical or political perspectives or simply conjecture. John had an avid, restless and insatiable mind that was virtually open to any view or idea.

My family and I were also touched by his generosity. He and Mary Jones always remembered my son at Christmas time when they sent him some of the most exquisite educational books a child would want to have. On the societal level, John made an academically unrecognized contribution in the field of cult research. He was tireless in tracking, cataloguing and monitoring the various religious and pseudo-religious crack-pot groups that have mushroomed in American society over the last 25 years. John was piercing in his observations and he also tried his level best in analyzing the psychological and social sources that give rise and momentum to these groups. In so doing, John particularly helped thousands of both exand still enlisted Worldwiders in making sense out of their lives. Through his publication John enabled so many people to take that important step out of Worldwide and quite possible out of other mind-restrictive religious and pseudo-religious groups.

I felt privileged in having walked with him a stretch on his path. Farewell John, until we meet again some day.

Ernest Zimmermann Ph.D.

Woodland Hills, CA



(The following is text from a letter sent to all AR subscribers. Apparently the back issues of the AR will be made available, once again, soon.)


Ambassador Report

October 7, 1999

Dear Friends:

I am sorry to announce that John Trechak died Sept. 2 from a massive heart attack. John had suffered from many health problems this year and was, in fact, in the hospital at the time of his death

I know that John would have liked to thank his long time Ambassador Report subscribers for their support and his friends for their friendship over the years.

John devoted 24 years of his life to exposing the Worldwide Church of God's hypocrisy, misuse of funds, and intimidation techniques. An Oct.26, 1977 article in the Los Angeles Times called the Ambassador Report "the first concerted attempt to document many of the accusations of a playboy-style living by the Armstrongs, the mishandling of tithes, and the sexual misconduct of Garner Ted Armstrong.

Over the years, John's writing and efforts to expose the cult of Armstrongism helped many people to leave the Worldwide Church of God, and certainly saved thousands of people millions of dollars in tithe money. While the Worldwide Church of God worked to split up families, wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in tithe money, and literally destroyed many people's lives, John worked to help people rebuild their lives and their families, and saved many people the heartbreak of even joining the Worldwide Church of God.

Although the Worldwide Church of God occupied many hours of John's life, his friends remember him as a fine musician. Even at the age of four he was playing the accordion and entering national contests. At the ripe old age of eight, John switched to the piano which he played until his death. Before being diverted at 18 into the Worldwide Church of God and going to Ambassador College, John took several classes at Juillard and was interested in conducting and composing music. Music was an important part of John's entire life.

One of John's proudest accomplishments was obtaining his J.D. in Law at Loyola Law School. While he never practiced: law, his degree enriched his writing and his life.

In addition to being a fine musician and writer, John was active in the Green Party, supported the Sierra Club, and Amnesty International. He belonged to the Jack London Society and participated in their biyearly conferences and their email discussion group. John was also an avid weight lifter since high school and broke several records during his years as a student at Ambassador College.

John: will be missed by many people, but most of all by his mother Helen Trechak, his brother Andrew Trechak Jr., and his nephews and niece Julie, Gregory and David. John was born in New Jersey and his mother still resides in that state If any of you would like to send his family a card or perhaps a remembrance of how John touched your life, please send it to: Helen Trechak, c/o Mary E. Jones:, P.O. Box 60452, Pasadena, CA 91116.

The former publishers of Ambassador Report feel that our lives have been enriched by our friendship with John. And his death has greatly affected all of us. We will never forget him and our hope is that John's early death will teach us to live life more fully with the understanding that our moments on earth are very short and very precious.

Since John's subscribers, friends, and relatives are scattered around the world, we would like to ask that everyone take some time on Nov. 6, 1999 to go outside, watch the sunset, and remember how John touched your life and appreciate the man that he was. In this small token of friendship and love of John we can all share his memory together.


Mary E. Jones with the former Publishers and staff of Ambassador Report

The following letters are from two former Publishers of AR:

I've just finished moving the last of John's AR office and personal possessions out of his home and into storage. The organizing and packing of all AR-related research, reference materials, notes, and library took several weeks. Going through this difficult process brought back a flood of memories of my long friendship with John going back 27 years. Naturally, some of the most poignant occurred during the early years of our waging up-close and personal war against the Armstrongs, Rader, et al. And the war was very hot indeed.

From the early 198Os, though, the AR was John Trechak. This tireless sacrifice manifested itself not solely on the pages of 72 issues. Much of his labor was quiet, behind-the-scenes counseling provided individually to hundreds of Worldwide Church of God members on their way out. John was very instrumental in my own awakening to the doctrinal and secular corruption rife in the Armstrong cult. This 25 year effort at great personal cost is John's greatest gift to all of us. My life is far richer for having known him.

This chapter is now complete. John's research, publications, and personal library will be utilized in a future book dealing with alternate religions and the role of apostates in changing them. Back issues of all ARs will be available in the near future.

John and I often philosophized about death being "the next great adventure." So many unanswerable questions in this life will hopefully be resolved in the next. Or maybe not. Hence the adventure.

I think John's wish for all in. the AR family would be to constantly question, challenge, and grow. Make your own life an adventure. He certainly did.

Len Zola

John Trechak - Publisher, Writer, Musician, Friend

John's death brought Connie and me much sorrow and a deep sense of loss.. But at the same time we are so happy that he was a part of our life for so long. Connie and I met John more than 30 years ago when we transferred to the Bricket Wood, England, campus of Ambassador College. Music was one of the passions in his life, and we were lucky to have had him play the piano at our wedding in 1972. John. met his longtime companion and the love of his life, Mary Jones, at our home in January, 1 97.6--and they went on to share life for the next 23 years

John and Mary not only babysat our two sons, Ted and Fred, from time to time, but our boys cannot remember a time without John as a close family friend. Not only did he keep them challenged with stimulating literature, both fiction and nonfiction (they were always eager to tear into his Christmas gifts), but he and Mary attended their Eagle Scout ceremonies, school plays, high school graduations, and even made it up to Berkeley for Fred's college graduation. And perhaps most important, more than once John served as a non-parental sounding board for our boys as they grew and matured through their school years.

I consider myself fortunate indeed to have had the privilege of being one of those in a. supporting role to John as he created and shaped Ambassador Report in its early years. As he and Mary "went it alone" with the AR, he perfected his investigative reporting techniques while regularly delivering an interesting, fast-moving, hard-hitting newsletter. The handwritten thank you's of ex-Woridwiders whose minds and lives were freed numbered in the multiple thousands during the nearly two and a half decades that he spearheaded this crusade.

On September 2, 1999, the AR died. with John, and that is as. it should be.. but its legacy lives on. It was his life's work, and it showcased his talent, tenacity, and dedication.. He was no stranger to controversy, and in fact felt quite at home in its presence. He was as uncompromising in his pursuit of truth as he was unapologetic about revealing the secrets which the pursuit of truth often uncovered.. A man of conviction, he was fearless and relentless--against all odds, confronting the powerful and well-funded Ambassador College and Worldwide Church of God, he never blinked, and he never quit

Why did the AR succeed and why did it succeed for so long? I think John's professionalism and commitment to detail were the foundation of his editorial success, but his writing style, his zeal for the written word, made each issue eagerly anticipated by his readers and exciting to read.

A "social" evening with John was seldom "laid back," he was always intense, thoughtful and thought provoking; he challenged and stimulated our minds as much in person as in writing. We (Mary, Len, Marg, Bill, Connie, myself) worked on the AR with John, partied with him, argued politics, philosophized, and pondered the meaning of life with John, and all for nearly a quarter of a century...and we really miss him.

The lives of Connie, my sons, and I were enriched for having known John. I am proud of the positive and lasting impact he had on so many lives, and I am honored to have been one of his Ambassador Report publishers. Rest in peace, my friend - you earned it.

Bob Gerringer



 For John Trechak's Family and Friends,

Here it is, nearly 2 years after John's death, and a year since I learned of it. Having just found this site, I wanted to share my experience with my fellow "emancipated" alumni, and John's family and friends.

There were perhaps 5 or 6 men at Ambassador that I considered to be my "best friends." John was one of those.

It was in the Spring of 1970 when I first met John. He was working out in the weight room in our dorm at Ambassador College. We decided to become lifting partners, and soon became very good friends. He taught me how to train for strength, and how to enjoy fine wines with a good meal. I taught him how to drive a stick shift. He had purchased an MGB (?) in 1970 with little knowledge of how to drive it. Even though he worked at it, he never seemed to be able to make a smooth shift. He would just laugh. He didn't care. I loved that about John. We drove to The Feast of Tabernacles in Squaw Valley that year, grinding gears and all.

In the fall of 1971, because my grade point average was not up to snuff, I was no longer a student at AC. Dr. Hoeh advised me that if I went to see Ted Armstrong I could be easily reinstated, because Ted liked me so much. But Dr. Hoeh's council was to "go out and work a year first." Since he was one of my "heros" (along with Ted, the droll Richard Plache, and world champion bench-presser, Harry Sneider), I took his advice and moved in with John, who lived in a small house in Altadena.

We spent many hours together, and I enjoyed playing guitar for his recording of "When My Ship Comes In." (it didn't make the charts). The 2 years I spent at AC, and the subsequent 6 years of living and working in California were the most exciting and carefree days of my life. John Trechak is an important part of that memory.

John and I speculated that there might have been some "politics" going on (at some point I had apparently created some controversy) that would account for the fact that my picture never appeared in the Envoy (although I can be seen in the Chorale picture and the 1969-70 Pasadena AC Student Body magazine). It was a puzzle we never solved.

But his best contribution to my life came when I told him about the guilt I was feeling (or being made to feel) that I did not return to AC, nor make payments on the small "debt" I had accrued. This came at a time of struggle when I was not sure from whence would come my next meal --while being pestered and pressured by the College. But a lengthy conversation with John (just after he had begun his AR work), which centered around the deception and injustices that were forced upon AC students and WCG members, took my guilt away completely, and I have never looked back. Thank you, John, for that!

I am just finishing up a health book that I have been working on for 15 years, designed to concisely communicate, in shirt-sleeve English, the fast-track for healing any condition. Although we had lost touch since the mid '80s, John would have been a recipient of a complimentary copy. And I regret that, if I had finished it sooner, perhaps John would still be with us.

My sympathy goes to Mary and all his family and friends. My memory of John is of a man of honesty and integrity, wit and wisdom --and with whom I never spent a boring minute! I am looking forward to the time when I will hear his laughter once again in the hereafter.

--Ken Johnston 

P.S. Mary, if you see this, I would like you to have the copy which would have gone to John. Let me know where I might send it.

If it's Ok, I'd like to add my love and sympathy for John Trechak's passing a year or so ago.  I never knew John or even spoke to him, but his reporting has changed our family's life.  The only guy I ever spoke to and chatted at length with (on the phone) was Bob Gerringer.  He had a listed phone number, and was an affable guy, and more than willing to answer any questions about WCG that he could.  This was in 1979.

Much of what we discussed and talked about, I've now forgotten, but NOT the major details.  But he sounded very sincere, and I'm sure that John was the same way.  I deeply regret that I didn't meet John personally.  Boy - would we have had stories to tell.  This communiqu, was, of course, AFTER we left (now) dead Herbie's Worldweird cult.

John's true calling, I feel, was to be an investigative reporter for some newspaper.  But he used that talent well in another way.  He had a genius for digging out the facts.  In spite of all of this, he led a normal life, and I understand, he supported his family well.  I'm pretty much foggy in that area, as I have no details.

Some men are workaholics.  I KNOW that applies to me and apparently to the PT Site Editor - and that's a compliment, because we need more people with DRIVE.  And I feel John must have had the same genes.  But without the drive of John, we'd never had the AMBASSADOR REPORT.  I never heard about this publication until someone (intelligent) in the Pasadena circle sent me a copy - Volume II.  That was the book version, and when I got it, I had one of our "thinking" members copy it multiple times, and I distributed it everywhere.

Now, it's easy it say (as the cultmasters did) to say:  "It's all of Satan.  The Lord of Darkness is oppressing us."  But the facts are - if John was wrong - then where's the proof of his errors.  Can anyone PROVE him wrong? 

Those of you who have read the articles, that I've written, will see how many times that I've referred to the AMBASSADOR REPORT.  This doesn't mean that it's a  final authority, but at least it needs to start all of us investigating, and reverts to my favorite saying  . . . . THINK.

I'm really sorry that John died.  I really wish that I could have known him personally.  I think he could have contributed much more.  But maybe nature has its strange way of saying:  "John, you've done your part.  You've helped multiple millions.  Now, let others take on the fight that you started."

And that's possibly why the PT Site now exists.  Thanx Editor.

Blessings 2 all.  JohnO.




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