Garner Ted Armstrong
American evangelist
Garner Ted Armstrong
Garner Ted Armstrong was an American evangelist and the son of Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, at the time a Sabbatarian organization that taught strict observance of seventh-day Sabbath, holy days typically associated with the Jewish faith, and other observances derived from the Old Testament scriptures.
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  • 2003
    Age 73
    In fact, after Garner Ted died in 2003, Merle commented that “after Johnny Cash died, I lost a real close friend in Garner Ted Armstrong.
    More Details Hide Details He was like a professor to me. What education I have, I owe to him.” In 1976 Garner Ted was a guest on the Hee Haw show that starred Buck Owens and Roy Clark. He popped up out of the “corn patch” on the show to say “Sa-loot” to his hometown of Eugene, Oregon. He sang a country western song he had written titled “Working Man’s Hall of Fame,” and joined “the whole Hee Haw gang” to sing the popular Ocean gospel song Put Your Hand in the Hand. He was so well-known that one of the Hee Haw regulars, Archie Campbell, released a parody record in which he did a voice impression of Garner Ted doing the World Tomorrow program. On Archie’s record he was “Gagner Fred Hamstrung.” The Simpsons actor Harry Shearer parodied Garner Ted Armstrong during coverage of the annual New Year's Day Pasadena Rose Parade along with The Credibility Gap ensemble of comedians featuring Michael McKean and David Lander of Laverne & Shirley fame, on their Warner Bros. Records comedy album, The Credibility Gap Floats, 1979.
  • 1998
    Age 68
    Until his death, he was the head of his Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, which he had established in 1998, and the Intercontinental Church of God, Armstrong died on September 12, 2003, due to complications from pneumonia.
    More Details Hide Details He was buried in Gladewater Memorial Park, approximately two miles east of the former Big Sandy, Texas, campus of Ambassador University. He is buried with his wife's family: his father-in-law Roy Hammer, his mother-in-law Pearl Hammer, and several other members of the Hammer family. His parents, paternal grandmother, and brother are buried in Altadena, California. The Hammers were the donors of the original property on which the Ambassador campus was located. His widow Shirley continues to serve as the vice-president of the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, and continues to reside in the private, gated community of Emerald Bay, Bullard, a small community outside Tyler, Texas on Lake Palestine. Rather than selecting a new media spokesman, the evangelistic association continues to broadcast old programs made by Garner Ted Armstrong on approximately 30 television stations and cable outlets according to the Garner Ted Armstrong TV/Radio Page of the ministry's website. The Intercontinental Church of God (USA) and Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association are now led by Mark Armstrong, one of three sons of Garner Ted and Shirley Hammer Armstrong. Mark Armstrong functions as CEO of the organizations and producer of the television outreach program.
  • 1989
    Age 59
    In the fall of 1989, he travelled to Berlin to do on the spot radio broadcasts covering the fall of the Berlin Wall.
    More Details Hide Details That was coming full circle, as he had been in Berlin in 1961 as well.
  • 1986
    Age 56
    He returned to the Big Sandy campus in 1986 for the funeral of Norval Pyle, an early Worldwide Church of God pioneer.
    More Details Hide Details In the spring of 1997, he was interviewed by a staff writer from the Ambassador University student newspaper (shortly before the university closed). Finally, the church archivist sent him several family heirlooms that were held in the Worldwide Church of God's possession following his father's death. He continued his ministry through the Church of God, International in the years that followed. Meanwhile, he appeared on both the John Ankerberg Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show. He continued to conduct personal appearance campaigns throughout the United States, Australia, Jamaica, and Canada but on a much smaller scale than during his heyday in the 1970s. The appearances also provided opportunities for unofficial reunions for those who left or remained in the Worldwide Church of God. In the 1980s, he was in Jamaica when Hurricane Gilbert, a major hurricane, struck the island.
  • 1978
    Age 48
    As Rader's influence with the elder Armstrong grew, so did the gap between Garner Ted and his father over operations and certain doctrinal positions of the church. In 1978 Herbert Armstrong excommunicated his son and fired him from all roles in the church and college on the night of Wednesday, June 28, 1978, by means of a phone call to Tyler, Texas.
    More Details Hide Details Garner Ted moved to Tyler, Texas where he founded the Church of God International and the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, through which he would soon return to the television airwaves. Garner Ted Armstrong never again had the media outreach that he had enjoyed in his father's organization, nor did his new church ever rival his father's in membership statistics. The Church of God, International did, however, become a haven for some former members of the Pasadena church who took exception to Rader's role and/or the elder Armstrong's autocratic style. As a result, members of the Worldwide Church of God were forbidden by Herbert Armstrong from having any contact with Garner Ted, and his name was removed from a significant number of church publications. At the time of the separation, he was one of the Evangelists of the Worldwide Church of God.
  • 1977
    Age 47
    In 1977, he officiated at the wedding of his father to the former Ramona Martin. The two would separate in 1982, and divorce in 1984.
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  • 1976
    Age 46
    Meanwhile, in January 1976, he appeared on the television show Hee Haw.
    More Details Hide Details Some saw this as an increasing focus on secular pursuits.
  • 1970
    Age 40
    Senator Bob Dole requested all copies of Garner Ted Armstrong's 1970's World Tomorrow broadcasts preserved into the national archives of the Library of Congress TV & Film division.
    More Details Hide Details His establishment of a "Systematic Theology Project" was eventually jettisoned by his father, but a form of it was later adopted by a separate church that Garner Ted would establish. By the mid-1970s, Stanley Rader, an attorney and church accountant who had been a personal assistant to Herbert W. Armstrong since 1958, appeared to be stepping into the number two position of administration previously thought to be Garner Ted's domain. Relations between the two became strained and a power struggle ensued. One conflict was that Rader had set up privately owned, affiliated corporations that were doing business with the church. Garner Ted, and others in the organization, were skeptical of Rader's legal and financial dealings and suspected a bid to control the church's multimillion-dollar business. One objection to Rader's role was that, being Jewish, he had never been a baptized member of the church or a practicing Christian. That obstacle was removed in 1975 when Rader was baptized by the elder Armstrong.
  • 1957
    Age 27
    In 1957, he began to take over much of his father's broadcasting responsibilities.
    More Details Hide Details During that same year, he traveled extensively through South America. As a fluent Spanish speaker, he made several Spanish-language broadcasts of the World Tomorrow. Garner Ted Armstrong proposed dropping such an approach in favor of one centered on Christian living and an outline of church doctrines and practice. Nevertheless, by 1977, Armstrong's media exposure included a daily radio program broadcast on over 300 radio stations across the United States, 33 in Australia, and 11 in the Philippines, with other programs throughout the world rebroadcast in the German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Russian languages. With an annual television budget of six million dollars, his exposure also included television programs which appeared on up to 165 channels. For almost two years this included a daily television appearance. According to Armstrong, notables such as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Nelson Rockefeller, Cyrus Vance and Hubert Humphrey, as well as a number of U.S. senators were frequent viewers of the broadcast. President Johnson personally told Armstrong during an afternoon lunch the two men had at Johnson's Texas ranch, quote "I watch your show (The World Tomorrow (radio and television)) all the time and I agree with most of what you have to say".
  • 1955
    Age 25
    Garner Ted Armstrong was ordained to the ministry by his father in 1955. G.T. Armstrong later reported in a sermon that he did not want to be a minister, to which his father answered something to the effect that because he did not want to enter the ministry that was a sign that he should.
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    He was ordained a minister in 1955 and held key administrative posts in both the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College until he was disfellowshipped (excommunicated) by his father in 1978.
    More Details Hide Details Prior to his removal, he was executive vice president of the church and president of the college, and was widely considered to be heir-apparent to succeed his father as head of the church and its operations. In the mid 1970s, Penthouse magazine described Garner Ted as providing "late night companionship to thousands of truckers, the voice of the morning to millions of farmers, the living room preacher to a subculture of lonely, frightened, disoriented Americans." Noted for his charisma, movie star looks, and for being a music enthusiast, he toyed with becoming a nightclub singer before following his father into the ministry. He was at ease before cameras and microphones. In radio and TV programs he mixed political, economic, and social news of the day with Bible-based commentary. Armstrong's voice, style and presentation (with a low-key, ironic delivery more in the style of a comedian's monologue than in the didactic fashion of the standard evangelist) attracted millions to the church-sponsored broadcasts. His voice was so widely known that his name was included with many of the world's politicians and entertainers on the record track The Intro and the Outro by the Bonzo Dog Band of the 1960s. On a radio commercial that aired in the Raleigh, NC area in the mid 1980s, he was among several celebrities said to have been seen at a popular restaurant in the area.
  • 1953
    Age 23
    He was baptized in early 1953 (Origin and History, p. 36).
    More Details Hide Details He enrolled in Ambassador College, founded by his father and supported by the church. Ambassador was state-approved but not accredited, and Armstrong eventually completed bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in the only discipline offered, theology.
  • 1946
    Age 16
    Following service in the United States Navy during the Korean War, Armstrong returned to Pasadena, California where his father had moved the church's operations in 1946.
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  • 1930
    Age 0
    Born on February 9, 1930.
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