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Church of God News

The Journal: News of the Churches of God
The latest issue of the Journal was published on-line on 10th September. The next issue (31st October) will be on-line early in November.

Leaving the Corporate Churches of God
This comment was posted on the Shining Light blog on 30th October:
“Having traveled internationally during the FOT, I have come to realize that there are many in the Churches of God around the world who are establishing and organizing C’sOG geographically, according to the city area in which they live, and leaving the modern corporate C’sOG. They attend together from all the corporate C’sOG, including the reclusive C’sOG like Philadelpia, for many reasons such as:
They realize they are not being told the entire truth.
They are not being served, but are instead the ones doing the serving.
They are broken up into such small COG congregations within their city or area (because of the leaders inability to get along with one another), that they are basically on their own, while having demands made of them from HQ.
They have little faith in the leadership of their corporate COG, and particularly in the leadership coming from the U.S.
The C’sOG may be evolving into what they were in the 1st century; The COG at (location) and away from the way they became organized in the modern era. They are appointing their own elders and deacons from among themselves, instead of appointment by people 1000s of miles away who don’t know them anyway. They incorporate to meet the local laws and collect tithes & offerings locally, and use them locally. Interesting development.”

Continuing Church of God
Robert Thiel (who founded the church in December 2012) writes: “Over 500 people, part of the Continuing Church of God, were able to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in 2014. We had more than double the number of attendees in North America and Africa this year compared to 2013.”
The church produces a range of literature in Kiswahili, which Kenyan pastor Evans Ochieng says are convincing many people to join the CCG. He reports that there were 236 at the festival in Ndhiwa and 200 in Kisii (plus there were two small festival sites in Nairobi and Northern Tanzania). So the East African congregations currently comprise around 90% of CCG’s membership.

John Halford

John Halford, former editor of the Plain Truth and Christian Odyssey magazines, has died of cancer. In this video he discusses his life and international work experiences in the Worldwide Church of God, and transition into Grace Communion International.

Church of God, a Worldwide Association

President Jim Franks has announced that the total attendance at the Festival of Tabernacles this year increased from 8,800 to 9,200. This was due to more members in Africa, Latin America and the Philippines. Membership numbers in the USA have been static. Next year there will be two extra festival sites on the west coast of the USA.

Philadelphia Church of God

Pastor General Gerald Flurry announced in July 2013 that Hanstead House and seven acres of adjacent land were being purchased (for $6.8 million according to one source), which would have enabled PCG to recreate Herbert Armstrong’s Ambassador College. PCG could not afford this purchase, forcing Flurry eventually to admit that “God is not opening a door to purchase the Bricket Wood campus near St. Albans, England.”
A church publication subsequently stated that, “PCG officials .... were pleasantly surprised to find a large number of beautiful estates available that are considerably less expensive than the Bricket Wood campus.”
The opening message for the 2014 Festival of Tabernacles was surprisingly given by Stephen Flurry (his father had done so in all the previous 24 years of PCG’s history), before a backdrop of Edstone Hall, located in Shakespeare country in the English Midlands, for which, it is understood, a bid of £2.8 million ($4.5 million) has been accepted. Although mortgage rates are currently at an all time low, it remains to be seen if the PCG will be able to complete the purchase this time.
PCG announced that, “In mid-July, we received approval to begin airing in Britain. The Key of David will debut on CBS Reality a few weeks before the Feast of Trumpets .... With mounting tension in Britain and Europe, it looks like God’s timing is perfect for launching The Key of David to the general population. Pair with that the possibility of expanding Herbert W. Armstrong College into Britain, and we could muster a labor force ready to take calls, process requests and do other support work for the program.”
“God’s timing” proved not to be perfect, as CBS cancelled The Key of David shortly before its first broadcast was due, at 8.00am on Sunday, 7th September. The program continued being listed for a while (probably due to an appeal by the PCG), but has now been dropped from the schedule. CBS has received complaints about the church
’s treatment of members and family non-members, but has not published its reason for the cancellation, nor has there been any comment from PCG.

Shirley Armstrong

Shirley Armstrong, widow of Garner Ted Armstrong, died early on Friday morning,  October 17th. Mark Armstrong writes:

“I am sorry to report that my sweet Mother, Shirley Ann Armstrong died peacefully at 3:17am this morning. The news apparently flew throughout the internet almost immediately, but I wanted to add some context to this terribly sad event.
Most of Mom’s immediate family was able to be at her side before the end came, and for that we are all very thankful.
The days leading up to October 16th were some of the best she’d had in months. I was able to talk to her at least three times by phone while traveling, passing along the great news that Michael and Melody are expecting. She said, “Tell them congratulations for me.” She also spoke lucidly with them and with Sonja by phone, exchanging information about each other’s circumstances as you’d expect. Wednesday the 15th was a particularly good day for Mom. She was up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, feeding herself and expressing her gratitude to my brother David who was staying with her.
Mom never used a wheelchair or was confined to her bed. She got where she was going on one of our arms, on her own two feet, right up to the last day. Though she really never felt good or energetic for at least the last two years, she was never in any agonizing pain, and for that we are eternally grateful.
When I got word, pre-dawn in Lake Tahoe that Mom was in the midst of a life-ending emergency, I was able to secure an early morning flight and arrive at her side by about 8:30pm last night. Matthew and his sons Andrew and Hunter had arrived and visited with her earlier. She was only in a semi-conscious state, but I’m sure she was aware of my presence and hope that was a comfort. She held on until my son, Michael, and his wife, Melody, along with her only granddaughter, Sonja, and her husband, Matt, arrived shortly after 1:00am. We all had the opportunity to speak and be close with her until her breathing became labored.
I was able to reach beneath the covers, take her hand in mine and say a prayer thanking God for her, for all she’s done for all of us and all she’s meant to so many; for the fine example of sterling character that defined her whole life; for being the rock and the glue that has held the Hammer and the Armstrong families together; and asked God to take good care of her. After saying “Amen” she yawned once or twice, and breathed no more.
She’s safe in God’s Hands, she didn’t suffer terribly as many do. Her time had come, as it must have been God’s will. Surely it is a time of great sadness and we’re all missing her already. But we also have a tremendous amount for which to be thankful and can rejoice in the life we were blessed to share with her. We loved her dearly, as did everyone who crossed her path. She took care of us, kept us all in line, and we’re going to try to stay that way. She was a wonderful wife and an inspiration to my Dad, Garner Ted Armstrong, and crucial to the Evangelistic Association and the ICG.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone for the prayers and well-wishes. We believe they were answered, according to His will. The funeral will be held at Croley Funeral Home at 401 N. Center, Gladewater, TX, on Wednesday, October 21 with the time yet to be established.” (The funeral is at 12 noon on Wednesday, October 22.)

Why Were You Born?
Or as the British Humanist Association prosaically puts it, ‘What’s It All For?’ In response to BBC Radio’s 4 minute daily religious program, ‘Thought for the Day’, the BHA launched a ‘Thought for the Commute’ campaign. Large posters were put on display at 100 London Underground train stations, featuring quotes by eminent British humanist writers.
Meanwhile, however, the Sunday Assembly (formed in January 2013) is quickly putting its godless church philosophy into practical action. Sunday, September 28, saw the launch of 35 new assemblies, 17 of them in the USA.
Its motto is, “Live better, help often and wonder more,” and its mission is, “to help everyone reach their full potential in this one life we know we have.”

The Sunday Assembly is not atheist, just non-religious. You can believe in God, but discussion of religion is not allowed. Adam Newton explains, “The idea is, why not steal all the good bits about church - the music, the fellowship, the community work - and lose the God stuff.”

United Church of God

On September 10th the UCG held the first of a planned nationwide series of seminars, entitled, ‘Why Were You Born?’, in its HQ city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

This was “a major undertaking for the Church” - publicized by expensive general media advertising, plus cheap targeted advertising - 5,830 on the Good News mailing list, and 28,500 Cincinnati households who were sent e-mails about the event.
Hundreds registered for the seminar, but only 74 attended (including a few who hadn’t signed up in advance). A follow up survey e-mailed to these 74, plus those who registered but didn't attend, resulted in one new person being interested in attending services with the UCG.

Living Church of God

“Shirley Young, a long-time faithful member of God’s Church in the United Kingdom and regular contributor to the “Woman to Woman” series in the Living Church News, died peacefully this morning, 11th September, after an 11-year battle with cancer. We are thankful for Mrs. Young’s life and contribution to God’s Work, and for the faith God instilled in her and His divine mercy in answering the many prayers that were offered on her behalf. She now awaits the resurrection and we look forward to seeing her at that momentous occasion.”—Jamie Meakin

Jim Meredith has announced that the annual “Winter Family Weekend” will again take place at the Renaissance Charlotte (NC) Suites Hotel, and will be “three days of spiritual rejuvenation and fellowship”, beginning with a full day of sports tournaments and games on Christmas Day, and finishing with a dinner dance on Saturday evening 27th.

Persecution in East Africa

Report from Bob Thiel, 11th September: There are some in Uganda that have expressed interest in the Continuing Church of God, but are not yet actually part of us. Kenya-based Pastor Evans Ochieng was born in Uganda and was able to meet with a couple of them. Several hours ago, I received the following from him:
“I went to meet two brethren from Uganda, who met me at border yesterday till today early. There is a sad news from them that I would like the church to offer prayer to this our brethren.

They have a great war with some denominations that are surrounding them. These denominations are saying that they are devil worshipers, because they are preaching that people are not going in heaven. That Christ is coming to rule on earth. This is a big problem facing these our brethren. Some people have attacked them and are ready to accuse them because of what they preach. But it is good that, they insisted that they must preach the truth and they cannot change whatsoever. Even some of people who had joined went back to follow men instead of following God.

Now they told me that, even though the situation is tough, they are going to arrange how I am going to meet those people on the ground. They told me that I should wait first and give them time to see how they are going to solve that  problem. We took a lot of time when talking, answering questions, and talking about the kingdom of God. I urged them not to give up, because God has chosen them to reach in the kingdom of God. When I saw how they were brave and strong, I was very happy and pray for them. Please pray for the gospel in Uganda to stand.”

When Will Jesus Christ Return?
Roderick Meredith of the Living Church of God writes:
“Because I have been one of the pioneer students of Ambassador College and of the ministry of this Work under Herbert W. Armstrong, I have been able to know and converse for many hours with nearly all of the leading men who studied prophecy in detail in the early years. I have also read some articles and books on prophecy and biblical chronology by outsiders.
Every one of the leading men that I talked to in this Work—including Dr. Herman Hoeh, Dr. Ernest Martin, Dr. Charles Dorothy, Dr. Robert Kuhn and others—have acknowledged that they came to realize during their study of biblical chronology that we could ‘easily’ be 20 or 30 years off in either direction! Therefore, it should be easy to realize that Christ may not come until about 2030AD!
Meredith and the other pioneer students in the 1950s who became ministers preached, as Herbert Armstrong had been doing, the imminent return of Christ—in the next 5 to 10 years—and then specifically 1975. When this prophecy failed, they declared that Jesus Christ must return during the lifetime of Herbert Armstrong—who died in 1986—and then by 1996/7AD, this being the year 6000 from creation according to James Ussher’s chronology.
Roderick Meredith
’s conversations with these other leading men must have taken place over 40 years ago, as Ernest Martin resigned in January 1974 from the Worldwide Church of God.
The brethren should not however complain about this deception:
“We must never be involved in ‘murmuring’ and ‘disputing’ and complaining about the fact that Almighty God is giving human beings more time ...”

The Vatican and Christian Unity

Tony Palmer, an evangelical Anglican bishop and close friend of Pope Francis, who consecrated him to be a “bridge for the promotion of Christian unity,” died in hospital on 20th July, following a collision between his motor cycle and a car near his home in south-west England.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, sent a message of condolence to his widow, saying that Bishop Palmer’s meetings with Pope Francis over recent months had given "great impetus to ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians.” His strong faith and his passion for unity, the Cardinal said, “reached a global audience of Christians with the message that there is no time to be wasted in division, the time for unity is now.”
Tony Palmer was due to be in Italy on 28th July for a meeting with the pope and Rev. Giovanni Traettino. reported on 28th July: ‘Pope Francis has met privately with Evangelical pastor and friend Rev. Giovanni Traettino in Caserta, southern Italy. After the private visit this morning with the friend he’s known since early ministry in Buenos Aires, the Pope surprisingly met with the Community of the Pentecostal Church of Reconciliation - which is under construction - and gave a speech. The Vatican has said the text of the talk is being transcribed and will be published soon.’

The video Does the Pope’s Message Fulfill Prophecy is an analysis by Doug Batchelor of Tony Palmer's presentation and the Pope's message in Palmer's video The Miracle of Unity Has Begun.

International Congregation of Yahweh

ICY is sponsoring an International Festival of Tabernacles in 2015, to be held at Elementaita Country Lodge (about 85 miles north of Nairobi Airport.)

“It’s been almost 15 years since we began to hold international gatherings every 3-5 years at Tabernacles time. In that time believers from all over the globe have met together and celebrated Tabernacles, this incredibly joyful feast, in the UK (2000 & 2010), the USA (2003), and in Jamaica (2006). These international gatherings have been rich in fellowship, worship and the ministry of the Word. There is a thriving and developing national congregation in Kenya and the people are keenly excited about hosting this event.”

There is an option of a variety of safaris following the festival.

Bookings need to be made by mid-October.

Please email for any further information you require, and contact details of the festival organizer in your part of the world.

Church of God 7th Day

The Journal’s lead article in the July 2014 issue concerns Bill Hicks, pastor of The Rest of God Ministries, and International Ministerial Congress Executive Director, who resigned from the General Conference of the (Denver based) Church of God Seventh Day in June.
The Ministerial License and Credentials Committee alleged that he had posted “inflammatory and defamatory e-mails” concerning leaders of the church.
Bill Hicks published an online newsletter, dated 19 May 2014, titled ‘Wanted: Church Organizations That Care More About Your Soul Than Your Assets!’ alleging that the church’s national board of directors had spent more than $80,000 for legal advice on how to adopt a new constitution to enable it to exercise control over local church assets.
“Now that the CoG7 General Conference has formed a ‘committee’ which is preparing to reveal their recommendations on a completely new constitution in advance of their general conference next year, it is high time all local churches wake up and see what is going on. The sales pitch is always something like this: ‘If you give us (the denomination) full control over all power and assets of the local church, we can do a better job of preaching the gospel’.”

Whaid Rose, CoG7 President and Chairman of the Conference, declined to comment on the allegations and resignation.

Christian Biblical Church of God

On the front page of the 31st May 2014 issue of The Journal is a report of a sermon given on 3rd May by the church's founder, Fred Coulter, entitled Guard the Doctrine of God, in which he criticized the Journal for publishing “heresies to deceive those who are trying to be faithful” - particularly articles on the Passover and the Biblical Calendar.
He also criticized the leadership of the United Church of God for changes in doctrine that they are supposedly preparing. After 11 minutes he says, “In one of the Churches of God today there is a man [he means Viktor Kubik] who was also in charge of the big church that we left years ago [he was in charge of Ministerial Services - Joseph Tkach was in overall charge of the Worldwide Church of God], who was the leading one in bringing the false doctrines within that church. [Tkach and others brought in the new doctrines - Kubik's responsibility was to ensure that all the ministers taught them.] And guess what they’re doing in that church [United Church of God], they are investigating 26 doctrines.
[None of which are fundamental doctrines.] ... Currently one of the ministers is giving a series of six sermons on the Passover, entitled ‘Changes in the Passover’. [The correct title of the series is 'Six Steps to Passover']
After 22 minutes Fred Coulter discusses the Hebrew Calculated Calendar, admitting that “there are some things you have to take on faith.” He asserts that God gave this calendar to the priests and the Levites at Mount Sinai [thus by-passing Moses, who wrote all the words of the Lord - Exodus 24:4 - and delivered the law to the priests and the Levites - Deut.31:9].

He warns that, if you do not believe this and you observe another calendar, “in your own self righteousness, God’s judgement will be upon you!”