Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 22, 1956

A Challenge To Wilburn Whittington

Roy E. Cogdill

Under date of January 18, 1956, and addressed "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN" Brother Whittington mailed out a statement concerning an incident that took place in the debate at Abilene between Brethren Tant and Harper. I do not know to whom the statement was mailed nor do I know who Brother Whittington thought was concerned about the matter, but I did not get a copy until a good brother thought I was concerned enough to be entitled to see it and did what Brother Whittington was not willing to do — mailed me one.

The statement is just further evidence that Wilburn Whittington has a hard time telling the truth about matters. I do not wish to burden the readers of the Guardian with personal matters and would not be interested in saying anything at all if it just involved the question of the personal veracity of Brother Whittington and myself. I am perfectly willing for those who have been associated with us and know us to choose whether or not to believe what he says or what I say. But there is much more involved.

Without making the story too long let me give our readers the background. When a few of us formed a corporation to engage in the printing business in Lufkin in 1946 our primary purpose was to help Brother Foy E. Wallace keep the Bible Banner alive so there would be at least one medium through which issues that disturb the church could be fairly discussed. We needed someone to superintend the printing department of the business. Brother Luther Blackmon, who is a cousin of Wilburn Whittington, was associated with us in the business, a stockholder, and a director and officer of the corporation. He suggested that Whittington, who was preaching for the church at Palestine at that time, might be available. Brother Roy D. Spears and I went to Palestine and made Brother Whittington a proposition. Brother Spears was an elder of the church, a stockholder and officer in the printing company, and hence represented both the church and the printing company. The proposition was designed to meet what Brother Whittington was then being paid — $75.00 per week. The printing company agreed to pay Brother Whittington $37.50 for his work during the week and the church was to pay him $37.50 for going to Livingston and preaching on Sunday and Wednesday night. Whether or not that was an equitable salary at the time, it was what he was making and he agreed to come for it. About the first of October he began to work at the printing plant. Until he was able to find a place to live, the printing company gave Brother Whittington a weekly expense allowance in addition to his promised salary. I signed a note for Brother Whittington at the bank to borrow the money that made a down payment on a home that he might have a place to live.

In just a few weeks he was given a raise by the printing company of $7.50 weekly. Later he was put on an hourly wage rate of $1.50 per hour for a forty hour week. The printing company continued to pay Brother Whittington for every hour worked as long as he stayed in Lufkin and worked any there. The church never paid Brother Whittington to work one hour at the printing company. This is the point in dispute and which Brother Whittington really evaded in his statement. My challenge to Brother Whittington is this: If he will furnish proof of the definite time he alleges he worked for the printing company without pay I will furnish the photostatic copies of the checks with which the printing company paid him and his endorsement on the back of said checks, or I will apologize in writing for having misrepresented the matter and pay him now out of my own pocket for the time in full. Now, Brother Whittington, either put up the evidence that is relevant to the issue between us or everyone will know you don't have it and can't establish it.

The Issue Is Shifted

In his effort to confuse and deceive the minds of brethren Whittington shifted the issue in his statement. He made it appear that the point in issue between us was whether or not the Livingston church sent money to Lufkin to be paid to him. That was not in issue at all. I have never denied that Livingston sent money to the Lufkin church. I have known all along that in addition to his salary, paid fully by the Lufkin church, which amounted to $85.00 per week after the church began to pay him full time, he drew an additional $50 each month for automobile expenses which was paid by the Livingston church. I did not know exactly how that check was handled because I had no personal connection with it but I knew that Whittington was to get it and did get it. It was not a part of his salary though and it did not constitute a contribution to the Lufkin church as he states. That I emphatically deny along with a number of other misrepresentations. The $50 was in addition to his salary.

I would not now endorse the money being handled as it was then, if it was paid through the Lufkin church, though even that does not constitute a practice comparable to the Herald of Truth. There were other things done by the Lufkin church that I would not endorse or defend. However, this needs to be kept in mind, THE HERALD OF TRUTH AND THE SPONSORING TYPE OF CHURCH COOPERATION HAD NOT COME INTO NOTICE THEN NOR HAD IT EVEN BEGUN AS A BROTHERHOOD WIDE PROMOTION AND PRACTICE. The issue had not been raised for debate and discussion. So far as the Guardian is concerned the first articles on this issue were written in 1951 and that was three years after Whittington left Lufkin. So the impression he tries to leave that it was our "inconsistency" concerning this issue that caused him to leave the company is just another of his misrepresentations. It just is not so. Such an issue had not even risen.

So far as I know at that time there was but one position that the Bible Banner had advocated that was against Whittington's convictions and that was on the war question. He is a conscientious objector. But that issue was not discussed. In fact I never discussed with it him for one moment as far as my memory goes any doctrinal issue upon which we were disagreed. The first discord that arose, as Brother Blackmon points out in another article, was over his refusing to come back and work at night when he was asked to do so upon one occasion. The biggest thing that I had against him in the way of a fault was that he was not a loyal employee.

Whittington had a pretty good thing of it. He drew a full time salary from the church (after such was the arrangement), a full time salary when he worked for the printing company and in addition he drew $50 a month for car expense. That is a long way from working for anybody for nothing! Then he enters what he considers a just complaint because what he was paid for the meetings he held was turned in to the Lufkin church. I guess he expected to be paid full time for holding meetings, full time for local work, and full time for printing too. That is about the most ridiculous point he has raised. He considered turning in what he got for meetings a donation to the Lufkin church while he drew full time salary from the Lufkin church. He was so accustomed evidently to have a good thing of it — drawing two full time salaries, one from the church and another from the printing company, that he just couldn't do without it and considered he was working for nothing if he didn't get it. I have the cancelled checks — and will send a photostatic copy to anyone who wants one — of check after check that was issued to him and endorsed by him paying him $60 per week — forty hours — for working for the printing company — after he had gone on a full time salary with the church and was getting $85.00 per week from the Lufkin church for going to Livingston on Sunday and Wednesday night. When he began to draw full time pay from the Lufkin church he quit working for the printing company for awhile but later on when we needed him he consented to come back and work until we could get someone else. This he did and for every hour of the time he was paid. Cancelled pay checks endorsed by him should be evidence that even he would be willing to accept. Yet he claims that his statement that he "considered that he worked a year for the printing concern without pay" has been established before God and man. God has known it false all along and anyone else can be convinced of it who is interested in the truth.

Why Inject This Matter Anyway?

Whittington had put out this false statement and it was introduced into the Lufkin Debate without him being identified. It backfired on Harper and the Herald of Truth brethren then so badly they tried to patch it up by printing it in a booklet and circulating it during the Abilene debate. Harper quoted in his booklet from a letter received from Whittington without identifying the writer by name. Brother Tant read a letter which accompanies this article signed by five of the former elders of the Lufkin church denying that the church paid him to work for the printing company. Whittington then went to the rostrum and told Brother Harper that there were three men in the audience who knew that what he said in the letter was true. It was not until he spoke up publicly in the debate to try to deceive the people and discredit the Gospel Guardian that I arose and stated that I had the payroll records, social security records, cancelled pay checks, and all the evidence to prove that the statements concerning his association with the company were not true. This was not truthfully stated by Whittington in his circulated "so-called" evidence. He said in the statement, "When Brother Harper made the statement and pointed to me, Brother Roy Cogdill stood in the audience and stated there was not a word of truth in my statement." Whittington knows, the tape recorded, and the audience knows that I did not rise to my feet until he spoke out from Brother Harper's table to testify about the matter. He seems unable to correctly relate anything.

Lufkin, Texas Nov. 10, 1955

To whome it may concern:

This is to certify that the report that the fourth and Groesbeck Church in Lufkin, Texas, supported certain preachers and paid them for working at the Gospel Guardian office or the Roy B. Cogdill Publishing Company at any time is entirely erroneous and untrue. It was a part of the contract of employment between the church and Roy B. Cogdill and Luther Blackmon that they could have some of their time during the week to direct the affairs of the publishing company. It was a part of their consideration and one of the conditions upon which they agreed to some to Lufkin for smaller salary than they were receiving in Houston with the Norhill Church at the time.

Wilburn Whittington worked both for the Church and the publishing company. He was employed by the Church to preach on Sunday and Wednesday day night at Livingston and by the publishing company work as printer during the week. The publishing company paid him for his work during the week and the church paid him for his Sunday preaching. When he went on full pay by the church his work at the printing Company was discontinued. Bill Thompson worked at the publishing company short time but was not employed by the Lufkin Church in any capacity at that time. This church never made any contribution of any kind to the publishing company or to the Gospel Guardian at anytime.

Our signatures are affixed hereto in the interest of the truth and as former elders of the Fourth and Groesbeck Church.

(hand-written signatures)

A Personal Letter Made Public

I am giving the public herewith a letter written by Whittington to Luther Blackmon under the date of June 16, 1951. It has some significant statements in it. In this letter he acknowledges that he received the $2500 stock in the company. But in the booklet by Harper there is this statement, "This man said he was to have received stock from the company if and when it became strong enough but that it never made any money and it was "simply cancelled." This statement implies that the stock was never issued to Whittington — he "was to have received it." But he did receive it. I transferred $2500 of my personal stock in the company to him and I have the certificate with the transfer on it and will send to anyone that asks for it a photostatic copy of that. The stock was conveyed on credit to be paid at a later date as he was able to pay it. There was nothing that could be done when he left the company since he had paid nothing on it but take it back and re-issue it. It was not company owned stock but my own personal stock. The stock was worth par value even though in the early years of the company's existence it did not earn any dividends. It is worth considerably more than that now. I wanted Whittington to take an interest in the company. I helped him get a new automobile and was in every way as good to him as I knew how to be. I cannot now understand his efforts to destroy me and discredit the company.

West Paris Church of Christ Bonham Street At Thirteenth

Ministers Residence 332 7th S.W.

Paris Texas June 16, 1951

Dear Luther:

Received your letter a little while ago and was glad to hear from you.

As for my asking for my money out of the business, I never invested one dime in it. Nobody owes me anything, nor have they ever owed me anything. The $2500 stock I had was to pay itself out and of course since the business had not shown any profit while I was there never felt that I had anything coming and was glad to get out without owing anything personally.

No, Roy and I couldn't seem to hit it off on some things and it is best I left there, but I have not done anything as far as I know to hurt him and certainly I never told anyone he owed me. Several who have learned I worked in Lufkin have asked for written information on how we did mission work there, but I have not given it to anyone and don't intend to. If I ever feel that what information I have would do the church good, then I will write under my own name, but to help win a personal battle, I refuse to do so. You know Livingston sent a check monthly to Lufkin and Lufkin in turn paid me. The same is true with Huntington and Bro. Moody, which looks a lot like what Roy and Yater are fighting but I have not put these facts down as some have insisted I do. Of course this would have been a good way for me to "get back" at Roy, but Luther, if I know my heart I am not in the "getting back" business. I say again, Roy nor the publishing company do not owe me a dime and I have never felt they did nor did I say they did.

I am glad you are moving and wish for you the best of everything in the Lord's work. I wish Roy would move too as his staying there will only do harm and make a lot of folks continue to do wrong. A church mess is the messiest mess a fellow ever messed in. If a fellow has any lie in him he will lie in a church fuss, or at least stretch the truth and make a statement sound like something it "a'int".

So Long, Whit

In the letter he says, "No, Roy and I couldn't seem to hit it off on some things and it is best I left there, but I have not done anything as far as I know to hurt him and certainly I never told anyone he owed me." Well he needs to change that little verse of his tune now because it isn't so — and it wasn't so when he wrote it. Whittington never came to me with any complaint. He never talked to me about my alleged "inconsistencies." The only unpleasant thing that occurred as related was the time when he refused to come back and work at night in order to help us meet a mailing deadline on the paper. That must be his grudge against me. If I ever did him any wrong, he said nothing about it, that is, to me.

Harper said in his booklet, "From this letter I believe you will agree that Brother Jones was not wrong in his appraisal of these brethren. They played a master deception trick on him if this letter be true, for this man did not receive CHECKS FROM THE COGDILL PUBLISHING COMPANY for this YEAR'S WORK and he said there were at least TWO OTHERS who worked just as he did. Yes it would seem that the ROY COGDILL PUBLISHING COMPANY GOT INTO THE BUDGET OF THE LUFKIN CHURCH — ." I said then and say now that this is a vicious lie — there is no other word in the English language that will say what it is but that. Harper wanted something with which to discredit and try to destroy the Gospel Guardian and its influence. He wanted to discredit and destroy Tant and Cogdill. Why? For only one reason — they oppose his unscriptural promotion and he can't defend it by the Bible. Nothing has been more evident in the two debates. He was and I am sure still is willing to grab anything that looks like a thread of evidence that will throw any reflection on the Gospel Guardian and those connected with it. He labors under the false delusion that if he could discredit the Gospel Guardian and those connected with it, he would do away with the opposition among the brethren to what he is promoting — The Herald of Truth. This is one of the greatest mistakes he has ever made in his wild efforts to justify what Highland is practicing. If Yater Tant, Roy Cogdill and every other writer connected in any way with the Gospel Guardian were all forever silenced and if another issue of the Gospel Guardian was never printed, there are still multiplied thousands of brethren all over the country who still rise up within the church as a ground swell in opposition to many churches combining their funds and centralizing their control under one eldership and in one congregation as a method of cooperating in the work of the Lord's church. If the Gospel Guardian were the issue, it could easily be done away with and the matter be resolved, and I would be the first one ready to do it. But The Gospel Guardian isn't the issue. It is an unscriptural method of cooperation that these brethren are determined to foist upon the whole church that is causing dissension and division in the body of Christ.

Brother Harper needs to correct the falsehood that he has propagated. The pay checks are available to him anytime he wants to actually learn the truth. He should know by this time that he cannot afford to believe every tale that some grudge bearing brother brings to him concerning the Gospel Guardian and those connected with it. He tried to build his case on hearsay and false testimony and in every instance it has exploded in his face.

Brother Whittington will meet his falsehoods in the judgment and answer for them as well as the grudge that he evidently has in his heart. He has slandered the publishing company, Yater Tant and myself as well as the church at Lufkin. He is guilty of criminal libel and subject to being held responsible for it in the courts of the land but Christians do not seek access to such in adjusting such matters. He should repent and correct the wrong that he has perpetrated so that he will not stand condemned for it. For him to say that "he does not consider that the publishing company or Roy Cogdill owes him anything" is not enough. If he has told the truth someone owes him for almost a year's work. He should be paid for it, if he wasn't and I am willing to see to it that he is paid for it if he will just establish what he has said. Until he can establish the definite period of time when he worked, for which I cannot find endorsed and cancelled salary checks to show that he was paid, his statements about his connection with the company remain absolutely false.