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Pastor’s Letter (January 16, 2021)
It was like dwelling in the Garden of Eden
. … And so did others who were divinely blessed … in a modern-day Garden of Eden. As an incoming student to this campus in Pasadena, CA, I witnessed the years that the Ambassador College campus received the award for being selected as the “Most Beautiful and Best Maintained Campus in the United States.” The college campus truly was an extraordinary artistic masterpiece. .
... Never got tired of it
I never got tired of walking across the Ambassador College grounds nor of spending some time at Ambassador Auditorium … the crown jewel of the campus. Yes, Ambassador College, with its manicured grounds, multiple mansions and the Auditorium generated much publicity.
When I think of the miraculous expansion of Pasadena’s Ambassador College in Pasadena from a single building to a sprawling 48-acre campus, I think of how this expansion paralleled the miraculous expansion of the United States. The US started out with 13 small colonies. Then overnight it tripled in size through the Louisiana Purchase, reaching across to the west coast at a minimal cost of just 15 million dollars. Then it acquired the territories of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota for virtually nothing. In 1819, the US paid only $5 million for Florida. Later it paid to annex the huge territory of Alaska for a mere 2½ cents per acre. No other nation has expanded like that.
Ambassador College (AC) began in 1947 with one dilapidated building and two unkempt acres of undeveloped land. Eventually AC purchased the mansions of Mayfair, Terrace Villa and Del Mar, with space to build a gymnasium and additional dorms. …and after that, AC acquired the Hulett C. Merritt mansion.
Was This a Steal?
In 1956, Ambassador College annexed the lavish 4-acre Hulett C. Merritt Mansion, with its elaborate Italian gardens, water fountains and massive flowerbeds, valued at $1.1 million—in 1906! and who knows how much more money today. The estate was miraculously sold in 1956 to Ambassador College in a private, sealed-bid auction for less money than the value of the ornamental fence that surrounded the property! When you look at the cost of each mansion and other buildings that were incorporated into the campus of Ambassador College, it was an absolute miracle everything “came together” as it did in segmented key purchases at repeatedly rock-bottom prices.
All of this—and much more—for the cost of a fence
The final enhancement to the college was the Ambassador Auditorium with its quality craftsmanship construction, exotic materials and adornments . For many reasons it would be extremely difficult to estimate its true value. In its heyday it helped draw public awareness to the college and the mission of the church.
This auditorium with its world-famous rose onyx, crystal chandeliers, fountains, marbles, gold leaf and extraordinary acoustics, became a coveted destination for the most famous of music artists and professional entertainers in the world. Renowned talent included Arthur Rubenstein, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Burl Ives, Beverly Sills, Luciano Pavarotti, Gerhart Opitz, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Vladimir Horowitz, Ray Charles, Pearl Bailey, Lucille Ball, the Panovs, as well as the Vienna Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic and children of Shanghai. I attended some of those Ambassador Auditorium concerts. No other music programing elsewhere could match the programming of Ambassador Auditorium.
Speakers such as Mrs. Omar Bradley, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dwight Stones, Senators Chuck Percy and Alan Cranston, Bobby Fisher, Francis Gary Powers, and First Lady Nancy Reagan addressed students and dignitaries on the Ambassador College campus. And the following quotes are indeed true:
Where have I been not to have seen this Paradise Oasis before? – Bob Hope
The day I visited AC was the happiest day of my life! – Germany’s F. J. Strauss
I want to be invited back! – Queen Sirikit of Thailand
I want to meet the man who founded this college! – King Leopold of Belgium
I was struck by Queen Sirikit of Thailand, who visited and raved in awe over Ambassador College, sounding like the Queen of Sheba who raved over King Solomon’s kingdom. Yes she came to visit the college, spent time here and strove to return. I remember personally meeting Mr. Armstrong’s eight “Japanese Sons” when they visited the college and then toured the Office Facilities building next door. These men were Japanese government leaders who held Mr. Armstrong in high regard.
Also the sweeping landscapes and endless displays of flowers on the campus were world renowned. Every cubic inch of its 48 acres was absolutely beautiful; such a marvelous place to attend college. World ambassadors, royalty, philanthropists, heads of state and businessmen all expressed their appreciation on visiting the campus and often were impressed with the students. When the King and Queen of Thailand came to Pasadena, they asked the college to “loan” some of its students to Thailand every year to teach English and computer skills to Thai students and also to exemplify God’s high character standard of living
Also during this time, Hebrew University invited Ambassador College students to Israel to participate in archaeology excavation in Jerusalem. Scores of other colleges and universities wanted to also be invited but only Ambassador and one other school were asked to be involved. That is because Israeli management was impressed with our energetic and clean cut students. Winston Churchill made the astute observation that while men can build a quality environment, that same environment can build men (and women) of noteworthy character.…
There is so much to remember and learn from this college campus. Such lessons include:
1) With God, all things are possible.
2) God is able to take care of our needs as we endeavor to do God’s work
3) God is the author of beauty and harmony
4) God can develop Godly character in us – if we let Him
Next week, I’ll write a letter that contrasts my “Ambassador Experience” to the other university that I also attended for 4 years. Here I will differentiate between Ambassador College and that “other college.” Understanding the difference between the two campuses is extremely important.
Vero Beach With several brethren on the mend, we plan to have church services once again with Jeff Newell speaking. Much of the focus among brethren here regards Carol-Lynne who has been in the hospital with pneumonia and Covid-19. A local and national prayer request has been made on her behalf. She is slowly regaining her strength as are one or two local members. Much thanks goes to Bill Wilson who conscientiously serves everyone and has been most helpful in supporting local needs.
Ft. Myers It was good to see the brethren in Fort Myers. It was also good to hear that Ron Crumbliss is out of the hospital after dealing with respiratory issues. Although I gave a message, it was nice to hear Jim Kocher give a split sermon as well as spend time with our snowbirds from the north. Jim will speak again this Sabbath along with Jeff Lockhart.
Ocala We will continue the electrifying fellowship that Ocala is also known to have. This Sabbath we will have or monthly pot luck meal. I will speak and have the opportunity to hear Paul Bidetti speak. I give my thanks to Bob Orosz who spoke here last week. We have had several different new contacts call me about coming to church., Please pray that God will be able to draw them to Him and that they can benefit from being with us.
The report from Ocala cannot be considered complete without letting you all know that Michelle and/or Shay has a new Siamese kitten that may have started out with 9 lives but has used up 7 or 8 of them in its 2 week old life. For several days it apparently rode hundreds of miles under the hood of Michelle’s car without getting injured or getting twisted up in the alternator belts under the car’s hood. This kitten, which still needs a name, apparently has terrific survival skills.
Tallahassee As things now stand, Tallahassee will meet every week at 1:30 PM. The first Sabbath of each month we will meet at the Marriott Hotel. All other Sabbath services will take place at “the Farm” in Havana, FL. Even with a record attendance of 30 last Sabbath, we still had some brethren that could not be there. Because of its growth, I feel responsible to provide live speakers for Tallahassee for almost every week from now on. This week Mike McCarty will give the message.
As Victor Kubik brought out in his letter yesterday (forwarded separately), this is a very significant time for us to consider fasting for God’s direction and blessing for the church. Let us do all that we can for ourselves and for God.