The Inside Story Of The World Tomorrow Broadcast, by Roderick C. Meredith
Published in 1963, this book is a remarkable and at this vantage point somewhat bittersweet look at a religious television show which was once immensely popular and which a great many people I happen to know have very fond memories of and which remains influential, at least in the corner of the religious world I happen to be a part of. Like many inside stories, this one is a bit gossipy and certainly paints a particular picture that does not always square with reality, but as one might expect if you know anything from the source it is told with a great deal of energy and a high degree of fondness for what is being written about. This is, essentially, an insider’s story, and is being written to outsiders who are nonetheless interested in gaining an insider’s perspective on a show that they presumably liked and may have helped support with tithes and other offerings. I am unaware of this particular booklet being well-known in recent times, and it is likely that after the 1970’s when circumstances changed this booklet was no longer offered, but being able to find it online it certainly makes for something interesting to read and review if you have an interest in the sort of religious history that I am interested in.
This book is a short one at just over 50 pages, and it contains a cover piece by Garner Ted Armstrong, a foreword by Herbert W. Armstrong (1) that both demonstrate the all caps style that they enjoyed so much and that presents the Worldwide Church of God and its beliefs as being apostolic in nature. The second chapter then discusses the author’s own discussion of how we checked up on Worldwide Church of God to get the facts and became an influential leader in the period after his graduation from Ambassador College (2). The author discusses the proof of the worth of the Gospel being changed lives by believers (3), and the author includes some inside information about these changed lives and the fruit that was produced by early leaders (4), including an overly optimistic statement that GTA had become a new man by the early 60’s who had left his wild youth behind (oh, that it had been so). After that the book offers a tour of the executive offices in Pasadena (5), a discussion of how the World Tomorrow broadcast was made (6), with a claim that the broadcasts were nearly entirely extemporaneous in how they were delivered and not scripted to a great degree. The author offers a look at the World Headquarters Offices (7) as well as offices around the world (8) and the people who staffed those offices and sometimes wore quite a few hats, as was the case with Mr. Gerald Waterhouse, for example. The author then turns his attention to the familiar story of the humble beginnings of the Worldwide Church of God (9) before closing with a discussion of God as being behind the work and giving the authority to the church leaders for their activities, at which point the book sensibly closes.
If little of the information of this book is likely to be surprising, there are still a few reasons why this book is worthwhile as a historical document. For one, the book is gorgeously filled with photographs that show various ministers and leaders of the early 1960’s WCG in action, and it represents the style that the Armstrongs, father and son, had as writers who wrote as they spoke with considerable boldness, and it marks a serious effort on the part of the author himself to demonstrate his position as an insider within this world to the reader. The book presents the Church as being run by a dedicated group of men and also shows a father-son partnership between HWA and GTA that was succeeding well during a period when the work of the Church was greatly expanding both in the United States and around the world. This particular document comes from a period of only a few years before both my father and my mother’s family entered WCG and the harmony it expresses within church leadership would not last more than a decade before the tumultuous period of the 1970’s. A great many readers would likely find this a nostalgic read, though, of less divided and contentious times than we are familiar with.