The Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, originally the Philadelphia Foundation, was founded by the Philadelphia Church of God in 1996 to continue the work of Herbert W. Armstrong, unofficial ambassador for world peace and founder of the Worldwide Church of God, Ambassador College, the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, Plain Truth magazine and television’s The World Tomorrow program.
After Armstrong died in 1986, the church he founded—which sponsored all the magazines, the television programs, the colleges and the foundation—decided against continuing his legacy. Eventually, the foundation itself was discontinued. The Philadelphia Church of God broke away from the Worldwide Church of God in 1989 to keep Armstrong’s legacy alive.
Shortly after its inception in 1996, the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation took over a project the defunct Ambassador International Cultural Foundation had abandoned: collaboration with the Al-Hussein Society in Amman, Jordan. The organization sent volunteers to work with physically and mentally handicapped Jordanian children and to revive the humanitarian tradition of Herbert W. Armstrong, including additional support for the Petra National Trust.
When Armstrong’s successors discontinued the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation after his death, the Philadelphia Foundation, as the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation originally was known, took up the fallen baton and began sponsoring a small concert series in 1998. The new foundation’s series, held in Edmond, Oklahoma, was patterned after its predecessor’s famed series at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, California. Ambassador had been acclaimed as “the Carnegie Hall of the West Coast” and hosted scores of great artists and musical legends. The new series has grown significantly in the years since, featuring as many as 10 internationally acclaimed performers each year.
In 2001, after purchasing 160 acres just north of Edmond’s city limits, the Philadelphia Church of God opened the doors of its own small, private liberal arts institution Herbert W. Armstrong College (HWAC). This campus serves both as an educational environment and home to all of the foundation’s cultural activities.
2004 to Present
In July 2004, the foundation obtained a handful of treasures that were considered the crown jewels of Ambassador Auditorium: a 9-foot Hamburg Steinway grand piano, plus two Baccarat crystal candelabra commissioned by the shah of Iran. The foundation began construction on Armstrong Auditorium in 2008 to house these artifacts. The auditorium opened Sept. 5, 2010, when the Herbert W. Armstrong College Choral Union and a full professional orchestra performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
Top photo: Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena, Calif.—"the Carnegie Hall of the West Coast"