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Church of God News

The Journal : News of the Churches of God

The latest issue of the Journal is now available on-line.

In the lead article, the editor discusses Daniel Botha’s Festival of Tabernacles sermon: ‘A Refugee Problem’, which provoked reactions varying from:

“Daniel Botha has done us a service by calling our attention to a responsibility we cannot and dare not neglect  ...” to ...

“I don’t plan to be at the Rio Grande welcoming Obama’s tattoo-covered thugs into my country, and definitely not my household.”

An article based on his sermon begins on page 3.

Living Church of God

LCG is continuing to seek accreditation for its academic courses. On Monday, November 16th, “we had a very positive visit by a three-man team from the University of North Carolina General Administration to review Living University’s application to license aspects of our academic program. We should hear some results in about 3 months after an exchange of correspondence.”

“The most recent co-worker letter has been mailed to more than 21,000 supporters around the world, and the current subscription list for the Tomorrow’s World magazine is about 530,000 in all languages ...
Dr. Meredith has approved to livestream the church service on December 26 at 2:00 p.m. EST. We will be advertising this event to our subscribers as a chance to ‘Meet the Living Church of God’. This will mean that potentially tens of thousands of people could watch this service live on the Internet. It will introduce them to the fact that we are a ‘real’ Church with thousands of members - not just a small ‘Internet church’ with no real members or congregations.”

Church of God, a Worldwide Association

It is nearly 4 years since the Church was started, at which time a Ministerial Board of Directors was formed. Four of the 7 directors were granted a term of 8 years, and the other 3 men 4 years - with subsequent elections being for a term of 8 years. The votes of the 207 credentialed elders resulted in Joel Meeker, David Baker and Leon Walker being re-elected for 8 years.
The annual meeting of the Ministerial Board of Directors will take place Monday-Thursday, December 7-10.
Doug Johnson has been appointed Senior Pastor for ‘COGWA Canada’, but he will continue to pastor the Cleveland Ohio and Meadville Pennsylvania congregations.

Death of Tony Steel
Paul Wilson wrote, on Saturday evening, 21st November: “Extremely sad news, I’m afraid. Tony Steel and John Evans were on their way to keep the Sabbath with me, when the car in which they were both travelling, and Tony was driving, was involved in an accident.
John received broken bones, but will be discharged from hospital within a few days all being well. Tony died from his injuries on the way to hospital.”
Tony was the elder of Maranatha Ministry (formerly North West Church of God), a small, scattered group of brethren, who meet in North Wales and North West England on the Sabbath. He also gave messages at the Tulsa Church of God, Oklahoma, whenever he and his wife were able to visit their son and daughter-in-law, Matthew & Renee Steel.

Unity and the Biblical Calendar

In a recorded interview last week in Israel, Dr. Roy Hoffman explained to Nehemiah Gordon why he has been observing and studying new moons for the past 17 years, yet, as an Orthodox Jew, he continues to keep the Jewish Calendar, which is based on the conjunction.
At the 30 minutes mark, he says of the current Sanhedrin (which no major authority in Judaism has recognized): “on a day when the observed calendar matched the calculated calendar, they took testimony (of new moon sightings) and declared the ‘rosh chodesh’.
What if the dates dont match?

“I hope they won’t try that, because they could cause a breach within the unity ... It’s very important for Orthodox Judaism that there be unity in the calendar.”
Orthodox Jews must abide by the traditions laid down by their elders, which may only be changed by a recognized Sanhedrin.

How is unity in the calendar to be achieved in the Churches of God?
Norbert Link of the Church of the Eternal God says that the Orthodox Jews hold the authority for the calendar, and only its Sanhedrin may make changes to it.

“If and when a legitimate court (Sanhedrin) is formed and active in Jerusalem, sitting in Moses’ seat, and IF they were to make changes to the current Hebrew calendar, then this would indeed be applicable for God’s Church.

Roderick Meredith of the Living Church of God, who has regularly emphasized the importance of unity, says that all authority lies with his church’s leadership.

In discussing 2 Colossians 16-17 (‘Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or in respect of a feast, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths. For these are a shadow of things to come, but the body of Christ.’) he says:
“Who judges you? The body of Christ. Who leads the body of Christ? ... The ministry leads the body, and so the Church makes decisions ... about when they’re held and where they’re held ... and how we observe these Holy Days. So don’t let any man judge you, but the body ... the body of Christ does have that authority and they are given that authority by God.”
In his view, the ‘body of Christ’ is not the congregation, but he himself and the ministers whom he appoints. They are the judges over the calendar (and indeed all issues).”

Kenya Hands of Hope

Bill Goff returned from Kenya at the end of October, and his full report (pdf) is now available online.
• I wasn’t able to visit all 33 groups scattered around Kenya & Tanzania that we are connected with, but was able to visit a number of them, and spoke at least once a day (sometimes twice.)
• All of our traveling around visiting church groups (and feast sites) was on public transportation. We are always very conscious not to be ‘extravagant’ with any of our spending.”
• During my 2½ months visit to Kenya, there was a nationwide teachers strike and all the schools were closed. So during my time in their area, I worked with the boys every day, with a goal of trying to teach them a trade, a way of making their own daily bread.
• One task was to teach them how to build ‘rocket stoves’ and they learned very quickly. Others were ‘hair cutting’ and ‘phone charging’ - everyone in Kenya has a cell phone. We also purchased some hand tools.

• Donated funds have also purchased many Bibles for all the Kenyan groups.

Another important task being funded is for a number of our “overseers” to travel via motor bike taxis on Sabbath to the various remote groups to conduct services and teach them the Scriptures.

(Kenya Hands of Hope is partly funded by the Christian Church of God in Grand Junction, Colorado.)

Garner Ted Armstrong Sale

On Saturday, November 14, Beard Auction is auctioning numerous items from the estate of Garner Ted Armstrong, who died in 2003. If the vendor, whoever that might be, is hoping for premium prices due to the GTA connection, surely he/she should realize that the Sabbath is the worst day of the week for the sale?

Church of God 7th Day

The latest issue of the Bible Advocate magazine, focusing on end-time prophecy, is now available on-line.

United Church of God

eNews report from Ministerial and Member Services, November 12, re the Western Regional Ministerial Conference, November 8-10:
“What was sobering to us was the unexpected loss of three active servants of God in a period of less than two months. This sudden reality is forcing us to adjust and transition to new leadership at an accelerated rate. We must provide shepherding for congregations large and small, right away. We are thankful that we have been preparing for this.”
“Another session was about common doctrinal challenges that confront the ministry. A video presentation from Randy Stiver spoke about the regular cycle of questions and challenges that we are met with and possible ways to answer them. They included the continual questions from those who have various views on the validity of the current calendar that we use for keeping the Holy Days, questions from those who believe that God’s name must be uttered only a certain way, questions about eating in restaurants on the Sabbath, self-defense and more.”

The November-December issue of the Good News magazine is now available on-line, which is the final issue under this title. In future it will be known as Beyond Today.

David Roenspies, pastor of Beloit and Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, died on Sunday morning, November 1st, aged 72. His memorial service will be held on November 15th, in Lake Geneva, at the Derrick Funeral Home - where you can find service details and obituary.

Note: James Malm of The Shining Light has followed up the post below by writing to Jorge de Campos, whose replies can be found on that link.

The video presentations were removed temporarily, but have been restored. The screen display (at the 1 hour mark in Part 2) now shows the correct data for Passover 31AD.

Jorge de Campos writes: “I apologize profusely for this unintentional mistake. However the content of the message was on the combination of the dates of 29AD, 30AD and 31AD and the results of that combination are still correct.”
It seems therefore that he will go ahead with a presentation in Portland, Oregon,
‘proving’ that the crucifixion occurred on Wednesday, April 25, 31AD - an impossible date in the current Hebrew calendar.

A Ministerial Conference’ will be held in Portland, Oregon, November 8-11, during which Jorge de Campos will give a presentation about why the United Church of God uses the current Hebrew calendar.
On May 9, 2015, Jorge de Campos recorded two presentations on this subject.
Part 1 is an overview, and in Part 2 he goes into detail, asserting that the Hebrew Calendar, including postponements, was observed by Jesus Christ.

At 7 minutes in, he says, “after the fall of the Second Temple (after 70AD) ....  when the Pharisees usurped the leadership of the Sanhedrin from the Sadducees, they started reckoning the years based on observation of the new crescent ...”
Although Jorge de Campos is the
UCG’s spokesman for the Hebrew Calendar, what he is saying is the opposite of what is stated on pages 6-7 of UCG’s Hebrew Calendar Doctrinal Statement:
“... neither does the Bible list rules of postponement. Who authorized them? When were they created? No one really knows the answer to these questions ... Were they a part of the calendar during the days of Christ? We simply do not know. We do not know when the Jews began using a calculated calendar, instead of simply relying on visual observation ...
In addition, in Christ’s time the new moon was ostensibly established by observation. There are those today who claim that the only way of calculating the new moon is by exact mathematical calculation. Visual observation is too erratic and could be one to two days off.
What we know from first-century records is that the calendar was operated by observation and controlled by the Sanhedrin. If Christ and the Church followed this habit, then Christ accepted something that some are claiming is unacceptable.”
Jorge de Campos rejects first-century records, indeed any contrary historical record, as biased or unreliable. Assuming the crucifixion to have been on a Wednesday and not Friday (which most people in the Churches of God accept), he provides prophetic and historical evidence proving that the current Hebrew calendar was observed by Jesus Christ, declaring (at 38 minutes) “we have proved that Jesus Christ’s crucifixion was 31AD.”
At the 1 hour mark, he holds up the Hebrew Calendar Appendix, which lists the dates for Passover, UB holy days and Trumpets for the years 26AD-34AD.
He displays on the screen some of the data for 29, 30 and 31AD, and then states: “The only way it fits - the only way it fits! - is when we use the calendar rules of the Hebrew Calendar with postponements ... and intercalation of the year 31. Brethren, that is the acid test. It only fits there. The rules of the Hebrew Calendar, as they are in existence today, apply to the time of Christ’s ministry.”

The data displayed for Passover in 31AD differs from the Hebrew Calendar Appendix, and is actually the data for 30AD.

 Hebrew Calendar
Hebrew Calendar
of the
New Moon
Screen Display
(data is 30AD, not 31AD)
Hebrew Calendar Appendix
(Passover 31AD)

If the reader is convinced that the crucufixion occurred on a Wednesday in 31AD, there are therefore two options, not one - but actually there is only one, which is Observation of the New Moon, because this date is impossible in the Hebrew Calendar. Why is this so?
In 1973 there was pressure from leading ministers to change Pentecost from Monday to Sunday. Herbert Armstrong was very reluctant to do so. It was also of great significance to Mr Armstrong that his ministry began in 1931, exactly 100 19-year time cycles after Jesus’s crucifixion. However, if the current Hebrew Calendar were being observed during the time of Christ - which is what the Worldwide Church of God taught (and the UCG continues to teach) - Passover in 31AD would have occurred on March 26, which would have been a Monday in the current Hebrew Calendar.
Herman Hoeh was always anxious to support Mr Armstrong, whom he regarded as God’s apostle, and saw a way to help him with both problems. On Friday, April 20, 1973, he conducted a Bible study at Ambassador College entitled ‘A New Look at Pentecost in Light of the Calendar Adjustment in the Second Century’. He asserted (without any historical evidence) that, during the time of Jesus, a 13th month was added in years 2,5,7,10,13,16,18 of the 19 year time cycle. During the Patriarchate of Simon III, between AD140 and AD163, there was supposedly a transition to 2,5,8,11,14,17,19 - which was then changed to what we have today: 3,6,8,11,14,17,19. This would result in AD31 being intercalated, and cause Passover that year to fall on the required day, Wednesday, in April, rather than on a Monday in March.
“The year of the crucifixion, AD 31, was intercalary and Passover of that year occurred, according to the sacred calendar, on Wednesday, April 25, not a Monday, March 26, the fourteenth day of the previous month. Now jump to our day. The year 1931 is one hundred 19-year cycles from AD 31, so it, too, one might expect, would be intercalary. Yet the year 1931 was not intercalary by the calendar the Jews use today. Why not? The answer is that the sacred calendar was adjusted.”

In a letter to Michael Germano (the head of LCG’s Living University) on November 17th, 2004, Herman Hoeh admitted that there had been no calendar adjustments between AD140 and AD163.

If the reader is convinced that the crucufixion occurred on a Wednesday, according to the Hebrew Calendar, it must have taken place in 30AD.

Last month's Public Appearance Campaign in Texas, entitled, ‘America: The Time Is Now!’, held in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, attracted a total of 124 new people (i.e. who had never been to any United Church of God function), 58 in Dallas, 45 in San Antonio and 21 in Houston.

Personal invitations were e-mailed to all who signed up for the Texas campaigns to view a new, four-part Bible study series called, ‘The Time Is Now’, which began on Wednesday, November 4, at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Steve Myers, Cincinnati East pastor, presented the first topic: All In - 1 hour broadcast, audio recording now available.

Church of God, an International Community

Our search results show a continuing interest in David Hulme and the church he founded, Church of God an International Community. Unfortunately, the church’s website is accessible only to members and donors, and its only public outreach is the quarterly magazine Vision. However, the October 2015 issue of its internal publication Church of God News is now online.

This issue contains an announcement that “On June 30, 2015, Richard and Irene Tattersall of Padiham, Lancashire (England), celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. The couple received a card from Queen Elizabeth congratulating them on the wonderful occasion.”
Their oldest son, Alan, became a minister and UK finance manager for the
Church of God UK, a company registered in 1995 shortly after David Hulme was elected President of the newly formed United Church of God (UCG). When David Hulme was removed from the presidency in 1998 and broke away to set up a new church, Church of God an International Commnity (COGIC),  where he would be in complete control, he retained the name ‘Church of God UK’.
In 1998 the Lancashire congregation decided to remain with UCG, so for the past 17 years the Tattersalls’ ‘local’ COGIC minister has been visiting with them from Scotland.

Festival of Tabernacles 2015
Doug Winnail reported a worldwide attendance for the Living Church of God of just over 10,400. (Official figure for 2014 was 10,289.)

Roderick Meredith writes in his latest co-worker letter, October 19th :
“Thousands of us just returned from our annual Feast of Tabernacles ... Many called it the genuinely
best Feast ever - and, because of the unusual unity and exhilaration, it may well have been.
Many of you have heard about the ‘floods of biblical proportions’ as they were called in USA Today (October 6, 2015), that hit much of South Carolina. Although the Feast site I attended was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, it seems God directed the flooding primarily elsewhere in the state.

(see Historic South Carolina Flooding Kills 17)
So we only missed one activity - the Deacons and Elders banquet one evening. All other activities went on as scheduled, and the exhilaration of the brethren was outstanding. So God does intervene and protect His people!”

Bob Thiel writes: “The 2015 Feast of Tabernacles had the largest number of people attending than any in the past for the Continuing Church of God.”
Evans Ochieng reports that “we had 5 Feast sites in Africa. We had Three sites in Kenya, One in Tanzania, and One in Ghana.”
“In Kenya we had Feast Sites in Ndhiwa, Transmara and Bomet. In Bomet there were 50 brethren ... Transmara there was a total of 174 ... and in Ndhiwa 212 ... a total of 436 brethren who attended the Feast in Kenya.”
Bob Thiel comments on the 216 attending the festival in Abuja, Nigeria: “they reported much higher attendance at the Feast of Tabernacles than we would have expected. I suspect that some were simply curious about the Feast as opposed to truly being part of the CCOG.”
Ghanaian Pastor Samuel Fosu Gyeabour writes: “Your financial assistance encouraged many to honour the feast, unlike the previous times ... about 400 congregation out of the 500 were always present, and the civil servants who could not abandon their work but were near to the camp grounds joined us during the Sabbath service and the Last Great Day service. Students who were far from the camp location also could not join us.”
Over 1000 people therefore attended the African festival sites - and Evans Ochieng comments that “We have hundreds more members in Kenya who were unable to get to the Feast sites.”
He also says, “Many churches now complain why the Continuing Church Of God is growing so much. The is answer to this is because we are not sitting, we are at work  and we shall preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God till the end, as that is our duty. We can’t do as they do, because we shall carry our own load.”
The CCoG not only pays for the festival venues, but also for accommodation, food and travel in many cases, as well as distributing bibles and publishing its literature in the local languages.
The numbers attending the festival sites in Canada, USA and New Zealand - the ones who must provide most of the finance - are not quoted, but the group photographs indicate that the total for these 3 sites was no more than 60.

The United Church of God’s attendance figures for North America were 7,275 in the USA and 510 in Canada.

Jim Franks of Church of God, a Worldwide Association, says there was a worldwide attendance of around 9,300 (plus another 1000 watching in video groups or webcasting). There were 5 additional festival sites this year, resulting in a 2% increase in attendance, and the income is expected to be another record high. Current plans are for even more festival sites next year.

Church of God Radio
Peter Salemi and Bill Petsinis have “decided to create an internet radio station for the 7th day Churches of God. Many of the mainstream and Christian radio stations will not broadcast our content for being Sabbatarian and not believing in the trinity. Well now we are starting a radio station that will broadcast Church of God content and belief:
Church of God Radio.

We are letting all the Churches of God know that, if you would like to buy some air time, please contact us.” Programming Schedule & Prices

(The UK based 24/7 radio station Radio 4 Living - operated by John Jewell and Tina Tivey - continues to broadcast, but the programmes are all recorded.)

Death of Frank Scherich

House of God Pastor Frank Scherich was killed on October 1st. He had been attending the Festival of Tabernacles in Galveston, Texas, where he was joint co-ordinator. He was hit by a car around 4pm, while trying to rescue his dog from traffic, and died in hospital that evening.
The funeral service
was held at Angel Springs Event Center on Sunday, October 11th, and the burial service at Liberty Hill Cemetery.

Tributes to Frank may be left on the website of Eeds Funeral Home.

Frank's last sermon - 1st day of Festival of Tabernacles - September 28th.

Church of God 7th Day

Gavin Rumney (a disillusioned former member of the Worldwide Church of God)  writes (9th October) on Winds of Change at CoG7:
“The church is now seeing new leadership emerge. Loren Stacey is the new president of the General Conference following the retirement of Whaid Rose, and Jason Overman has become editor of the BA after Calvin Burrell’s many years at the helm. A smooth and peaceful transition? Imagine that!
CoG7 is a fundamentalist Sabbatarian body, it’s true, and I expect that would be reason enough for many of us not to take it seriously. But it also demonstrates an openness and accountability that stands in marked contrast to similar and related groups many readers of this blog will be more familiar with. Without an authoritarian top-down structure, it provided what could have been a benign and unifying model for the re-structuring of the post-Armstrong WCG. That the Tkach cabal chose to ignore that option and instead pretend to have some kind of ‘episcopal’ form of government is perhaps the most damning indictment of the so-called reforms that eventually led to its re-branding as Grace Communion International.
In his State of the Church Address at the recent General Conference, outgoing president Whaid Rose reflected on the denomination as it was in 1998 (he was appointed in 1997).
“I assured the membership that there are no plans to throw out the Sabbath and Ten Commandments. There are no plans to bring about organizational ties with the Worldwide Church of God.”
Rose’s retirement should, one would hope, not go unnoticed by Joe Tkach, who should have stepped aside years ago. One doubts he will take the hint though, and there’s little indication that he has put in place a workable transition plan.
There have been times in the past when CoG7 must have felt upstaged by its precocious offspring. In the end however it has demonstrated the staying power that has eluded its desperately troubled daughters and granddaughters.”

Calvin Burrell & Bryan Cleeton of GC Missions report:
• A new Bible school is nearly built and will soon be opened in Pakistan. There, Pastor Shamas Pervaiz leads CoG7, assists wider Christian efforts, and often addresses inter-faith gatherings that include thousands of Muslims. Pastor Shamas attended convention in Milwaukee in July, then accompanied Bryan in a two-week tour of New York and Dallas-Ft. Worth, where they worked with Pakistani immigrants.
• In India, Church General Secretary Jacob Rao visited 40 Christian pastors in the northern state of Punjab, introducing them to the teachings of the Church of God (Seventh Day), and receiving confirmation of their readiness to partner with us in proclaiming the Good News.
• Jorge Gillig of Argentina, coordinator of churches across South America, recently completed a visit of new groups in Chile, Peru, and Venezuela, while working to strengthen the Church there.
• In Zambia, nearly 70 young women and men learned sewing (taught by CoG7 women from the U.K.) to support their families and help the church become self-sufficient. A new water-well was also completed for a community that lacked it.

The radical changes to the bylaws proposed at the General Convention were not passed, and so the governance of the Church continues to be congregational in nature. Minor changes were made in the portion of the bylaws that were covered at convention - but no significant change in substance. Retaining those minor changes, the bylaws were referred to the Bylaws Committee, to be brought back to the next General Convention in 2017.
At the close of the Convention, Loren Stacy took over as President from Whaid Rose. He graduated from the University of Southern California (BA, MS) and the Summit School of Theology (M.Div.). In 1981 he became pastor of the Lodi, California congregation, serving as Youth Agency director (1981-1986), West Coast District overseer (1986-1992), and Chairman of the board of directors (1997-2015).
Jason Overman has taken over Calvin Burrell’s role as Editor of the Church’s 150+ years old magazine, the Bible Advocate. Jason and his wife Stephanie pastor the Jasper, Arkansas congregation. He worked for the Harrison Daily Times for 24 years, where he was general manager until his recent appointment.
The new Executive Director is Jody McCoy, who graduated from Spring Vale Academy and Texas A&M with a masters in electrical engineering. He worked for Advanced Micro Devices for 25 years in Austin - ten years in telecommunication and computer chip design and 15 years managing a performance analysis team. He left AMD in 2011 to do full-time research in science, religion, and philosophy.

Legacy Institute

Leon Sexton reports (with pictures) on the Festival of Tabernacles in Myanmar :

“40 Church of God members (including children) gathered at Kyawk Taing, Myanmar (Burma) for the Feast of Tabernacles with much worship; singing songs to God; and lots and lots of feasting....”

Living Church of God

Gerald Weston has transferred to the UK to take charge of the work in Europe, replacing Rod King, who has serious health issues.

Stuart Wachowicz replaces him as Canadian Regional Director.

Gerald Weston will also be taking over Rod King's role as a presenter of the Tomorrow’s World telecast.

Rod McNair will become a guest presenter, as Roderick Meredith's failing health no longer allows him to continue as a regular presenter.

In Tomorrow’s World News & Prophecy, Sept. 4th, the article ‘British Girls Suffer Emotional Trauma’ stated: “Jesus Christ is coming back to turn the hearts of parents to their children, instead of being focused solely on themselves (Malachi 4:6), and no one will be afraid (Ezekiel 34:23-28).
Malachi 4:5-6 refers to the Elijah to come, not Jesus: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Some believe that the Church (not a person) will do an Elijah type work, others continue to hold to Herbert Armstrong being the Elijah to come (even though he died almost 30 years ago).

The statement that the above verses refer to Jesus Christ was changed today (Sept.9th), and the passage now reads: “Jesus Christ is coming back to establish perfect government and peace (Isaiah 9:6-7), and no one will be afraid (Ezekiel 34:23-28). The true meaning of family will be “recaptured” and will permeate society once again (Acts 3:19-21).”

The LCG has set up The Morgan Montgomery Memorial Youth Fund, a special fund in memory of 19 year old Morgan Montgomery, who was killed in a water skiing accident on Alum Creek Lake in Ohio, at the Living Church of God summer camp on August 2nd. Donations to the fund will provide scholarships and transportation for Church youth around the world to participate in the Church’s youth camps, in addition to providing other important services to Church youth. No special projects are mentioned, so it seems that donations will simply subsidize existing youth services.
Presiding Evangelist, Roderick Meredith, arrived at the camp on August 5th, but failed to authorize payment for the cost of repatriation of her body to Australia. A YouCaring page was therefore set up, so that members could make donations, primarily to cover all related expenses of returning Morgan to her home and family in Australia. This goal has been met, and the excess will be used to enable the Montgomery family to return to their new home and family at Living Youth Camp in future years.
On August 6th Morgan’s father, Martin Montgomery, gave this video message to the campers about his daughter and our hope of the resurrection.

Roderick Meredith, writes in his latest co-worker letter, dated July 21:
“It’s happening! It’s happening right now before our very eyes. Most people do not even have a clue. But many of you subscribers to Tomorrow’s World do understand. For all around us, we see the ‘signs’ that the end of this lawless age of mankind is very near.”
“My friends, all around us we see the prophetic events unfolding which I have been preaching and writing about for about 63 years.”
“We constantly explain how you can escape the coming Great Tribulation and how all of us can have a tremendous part in warning our fellow human beings and helping them also escape the coming Holocaust.”
How much confidence should we place in his predictions?
In the 1950s and 60s he and the other leaders in the Worldwide Church of God taught that those in the church would “escape the coming Great Tribulation” and go to ‘the place of safety’ (probably Petra in Jordan) in 1972, and Jesus Christ would return to earth in 1975. After the failure of this prophecy, he has continued to preach of current “prophetic events unfolding” showing that “the end of this lawless age of mankind is very near.”
The July-August 2014 issue of the Living Church News leads with his letter entitled, Is Our Lord Delaying His Coming?
“At least a few thousand of you older brethren who are reading this letter have had to be patient through the trials and tests of life, of human issues in the Church, and with the realization that Christ has not come back as quickly as we had hoped.”
“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!
Do I, personally, think it will be that long? No! But I have ‘hoped’ that it would be sooner for many decades.”
“We must never be involved in ‘murmuring’ and ‘disputing’ and complaining about the fact that Almighty God is giving human beings more time to write the lessons of human suffering and for His own children to ‘work out’ our own salvation before Christ returns.”

(‘The end of this lawless age’ is ‘about 2030AD’ in God’s 7000 Year Plan)

Wyatt Ciesielka reports: “We recently went on ‘Family TV’ and ‘Family Radio 316', and already scores of inquiries and requests for literature are coming in from all throughout Kenya. We have been very encouraged by both the quantity and the quality of the responses. We are also very thankful for the enthusiasm of our Kenyan brethren for this initiative, and for the labor and service from our South African office which is playing an important support role in this project.”

Peter Nathan, Stephen Elliott, Bob Rodzaj and Ted Budge were among the ministers who left David Hulme’s church to form The Father’s Call in January 2014. One month later all four left that new group - Nathan, Elliott and Rodzaj joining the Living Church of God, and Budge returning to the United Church of God. Ted Budge has had to wait a full year until his appointment as an elder, assisting Robin Webber in the Los Angeles congregation.

Many ministers were upset to learn that these three had been given immediate full-time employment, prompting Roderick Meredith to write an open letter in March 2014 to “ask all of you, in Jesus’ name not to be alarmed or worried about this!”
In March 2015, all three men were promoted:
“Mr. Stephen Elliott has been designated as the Area Pastor of congregations in Southern California and Nevada. Mr. Bob Rodzaj has been designated as the Area Pastor for congregations in New Mexico and West Texas. Mr. Peter Nathan will serve as the Assistant Regional Director for Africa in addition to his duties with Living University.”

Philadelphia Church of God

Come Right On In: A Walk-through of the Philadelphia Church of God Canadian Regional Office, by Grant Turgeon, was put online August 14, but was later removed from public access. If you want to read the article, copy the above link into Yahoo! or Bing search, and click on the cached page.

The article reveals that there are now only 400 members in 20 congregations from the Atlantic to the Pacific, whose needs are fulfilled by 4 office staff plus another staff member and a volunteer working from their homes.
Covering this vast area are regional director Fred Dattalo and Local Elders Ron Hanson (9 congregations in central and eastern Canada), Timothy Oostendarp (10 congregations in western Canada and Alaska) and Chris McKay (1).

The article also reveals the level of control exerted by Gerald Flurry over each church member via his ministers. “By far the best part of my job is getting to talk to Mr. Flurry and receiving guidance, counsel, direction and even correction from time to time, directly from God’s apostle,” Mr. Dattolo said. “I learn a lot from talking to him, and I pass on the wisdom and judgment that God gives him to the ministers in Canada, whenever I have the opportunity to do so, especially in the weekly meetings that I conduct with each minister individually.”

When Stephen Flurry, Dean of Students at the new college in Edstone, Warwickshire, in the English Midlands, made the first broadcast from the new studio there in January, he quoted from Herbert Armstrong’s autobiography: “It was the development of the college in Pasadena that made possible the growth of the whole gospel work.” He expected the college at Edstone to have a similar effect in the UK.
Rapid church membership growth in the UK in the 1960s was not however achieved by the establishment of Ambassador College at Bricket Wood in 1960, but via daily broadcasts by Garner Ted Armstrong on off-shore pop music radio stations - at a time when only the BBC was allowed to have a mainland radio network - which did not then include a pop music tv or radio channel. The UK government enacted legislation which made it impossible for these radio stations to continue operating, and the BBC was obliged to launch a pop music channel. The Bricket Wood College was closed in 1974.
On his return to the USA after the end of the first semester, Stephen Flurry reiterated the view to PCG News that Edstone is “another new beginning” ... “a special one” ... “a massive step forward.”
“Mr. Flurry said attending services at Leavesden, London, has been ‘a real inspiration’. He added that the local members are ‘super-excited’ about the new Edstone office and that, ‘you can feel the energy when you go in’ to services.”
Leavesden is north-west of London, 2½ miles from Bricket Wood, so the congregation is likely mostly composed of former students and their families. (Other ex-WCG churches also have congregations in or near Bricket Wood.)
“Local members have been praying and waiting for the Work to expand in Britain, Mr. Flurry said. Now, the Church has a campus with students from Edmond and is airing a responsive tv program in Britain.”
If people were responding to this program (which is broadcast at 8am Sundays on CBS Reality UK, a channel that very few UK viewers ever watch), Stephen Flurry would have described how the Work in Britain was growing, rather than remarking that “local members have been praying and waiting for the Work to expand in Britain.”

Continuing Church of God

Robert Thiel writes: “We want to thank all of you who have supported the work with your tithes and offerings, including those of you who have given extra to support the work in Africa.
We have spent thousands of dollars to fix a building in Ndhiwa, Kenya. Many will be staying in this building (for free) during the Feast of Tabernacles in Kenya. This is expected to be the largest CCOG festival site in 2015.
We plan to have two CCOG pastors from Kenya be able to visit groups in Ghana and Malawi that have expressed interest in the CCOG in a few weeks - we have had to send funds for the travel as well as literature (including Bibles in the Chichewa, also known as Nyanja, language) for this.
We also hope to eventually be able visit groups in Nigeria and Ethiopia later this year if funding allows.”

Restored Church of God

David Pack has been relatively quiet since the abject failure of his prophecy that most ex-Worldwide Church of God members would be reunified in the Restored Church of God on 31st August 2013 - or lose the holy spirit. With his tithe payers falling below 1000 and his HQ campus still not quite complete, he has announced, in a 7 minute video The Coming Signal to God’s People that thousands from other Churches of God will be flocking soon (no date setting this time) to his “one church” and then “a work of absolutely immense proportion will follow.”

David Pack declares that he is the ‘Elijah to come’ (Malachi 4:4-6) and also the ‘Joshua to come’. The Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 will arise from within the RCG, and will be trained by him for their commission in Jerusalem.

He gave this general prophetic warning about himself in December 1998:

“I want to make a statement about me now. If I became deceived, I will never tell you what I’m going to tell you now. I am telling you, if I go off into strange ideas, misconduct, rebellion, you name it, don’t follow me. I want to tell you that now, because if I start doing that, I’m gonna try to get you to follow me! I’m gonna come to you and tell you it doesn’t apply, it doesn’t mean me. No, no, no, no, no, no, it’s ok to follow me, because ABCD and XY and Z. Do you understand what I’m saying? Listen to me now, when I tell you, don’t follow me if I go off into weird ideas, or if I get off into other things that are total absolutely unscriptural conduct, because if I do, I’m gonna paint it with a different face and try to get you to follow me. Do you understand what I’m saying, brethren? Please remember that, because I promise you that, if I become deceived, I’ll forget it, and I’ll want you to forget it. And I hope you’ll remember it well enough to quote it right back to me.”

Church of God - EIM

Steven le Blanc, COG-EIM pastor, writes: “The interest level in our public bible study in Sacramento was very good. We had an attendance of 112 guests (non-members). This was our largest attendance to date. Though we do not look to numbers, but to God - it was encouraging to see that interest levels are growing. I discussed events in Europe - the European Beast, and 40 sins of America (in part) - national punishment.”

Death of Fred Porter

Fred Porter, pastor of the Sabbath Day Church of God in Hot Springs, Arkansas, died on Wednesday evening, June 17th, aged 70. The funeral will be at 11am on Monday at Carney Funeral Home Chapel in Blytheville.
In November 2014 he was interviewed by KATV as vice president of Arkansas CALM, the Citizen's Alliance for the Legalization of Marijuana, and co-author of the Arkansas Hemp & Marijuana Amendment, seeking to legalize marijuana - both for medicinal and recreational purposes.
He had been using cannabis oil to treat his prostate cancer, which had produced positive results, but at the time of this interview the cancer had reached stage four.

United Church of God

Two messages from Viktor Kubik:

Firstly: We ask for your prayers for Roy Holladay, who suffered a stroke early Sabbath morning [Oct.9]. He does not have feeling on his left side. The extent of damage is not known and they are running tests to determine the full extent.
Roy’s wife, Norma, called us about 1:45 a.m. We live about a half mile away. The ambulance took him to the hospital and there I anointed him. He was immediately given a CT scan. In a few hours he was moved to a conventional hospital room.
Please pray for Roy, Norma and the entire family. Roy is a faithful servant and one with whom I work most closely. We need him!
Our love to all the Holladays…
Roy and Norma Holladay, 1195 Shayler Woods Dr, Batavia, OH 45103-2683.

Update: “On Tuesday [October 20th], Roy was moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility. He has made progress in his mobility. He has been able to stand and maintain his balance, and has also been able to walk short distances without a walker, although he tires easily. He is also undergoing therapy for speaking and swallowing. His son Art writes, ‘From here on out he will be participating in approximately 3 hours of therapy a day ... Clearly he has a long way to go to regaining self-sufficiency, but he is off to a good start.’

Your continued prayers for his recovery are much appreciated.

Secondly: “Bill Bradford Jr. called me about the sudden death of our beloved long-time brother, friend and elder, Robert Fahey. He asked that I notify all of you with this statement from the family: ‘We are deeply saddened to let you know that our father, Robert Edmund Fahey, 75, died unexpectedly this past Monday evening [September 28]. He was recovering at home from a heart stent placement completed less than two weeks ago, and had been expected to make a full recovery’.”

Bill Bradford Jr. has taken temporary charge of the church in Chicago.

The Council of Elders Meetings on August 12/13 were dominated by discussions on ‘The Last Great Day/Eighth Day’ study paper.

“The Doctrine Committee (DC) and the Council as a whole has been reviewing and discussing this paper for over two years. It emerged that in the DC there were different strengths of belief concerning whether John:7:37 referred to the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles or [the Eighth Day], but all agreed that the current paper contained no conclusive proof either way. Consequently, it is the recommendation of the DC that the current study paper, ‘Last Great Day/Eighth Day’ be withdrawn and replaced by a doctrinal statement by the Council.”
“Mr. Webber emphasized that this is not a sudden decision, but something the DC has been reviewing for two years, and the meaning of this day remains the same.
Mr. Holladay asked how the conclusion of this doctrinal statement differs from the study paper. Mr. Elliott replied that the current study paper favored the timing of John 7:37 as happening on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles. However, the paper could not fully substantiate that position and it consequently advocates utilizing both terms, which is our current practice. The newly drafted doctrinal statement explains the situation more succinctly while giving equal weight to discussions concerning the timing of John:7:37.
Mr. Webber commented that there is no conclusive proof either way in the scripture regarding John:7:37. He stated, ‘Well intentioned people on both sides of this issue with strong viewpoints regarding the setting of John 7:37 and the accompanying terminology have at the end of the day agreed among themselves there is no rock solid proof one way on this issue.’
Mr. Kubik was impressed that we admit that there is no clear statement in the scriptures.

On August 13th “The final copy of the doctrinal statement was presented. There were some more edits and improvements.”

The Council of Elders report for August 11th included the following :

Viktor Kubik reported:
• The Public Appearance Campaign (PAC) will be held in three locations in Texas: Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.
Rotary Club: The home office hosted the Batavia, Ohio, Rotary Club. The group was given a tour of the home office. (The reason for this was not stated.)
Home Office Grounds: A new playset for children was put up on HQ grounds, largely financed by the LifeNets charity. (It’s unclear from this statement if any money was taken from Lifenets’ general funds. Why were local members asked to make tax deductible donations to Lifenets, rather than paying for the playset, which cost several thousand dollars, out of local church funds?)
Roy Holladay provided some general statistics:

• 287 elders in U.S.A.;  82 international elders; 196 churches and Bible study groups (USA); 96 baptisms so far this year (USA); 5 new ordinations since May; average USA Sabbath attendance is the same as a year ago.

Peter Eddington reported:
• Co-worker count is 43% higher than a year ago.
• Donor list count is 8,306 people, 90% increase over the same time last year.
Rick Shabi reported:
• Overall, income for the year was $2 million more than projected.
• Expenses at budgeted levels, resulting in net income of over $1.8 million.
• Because of higher than budgeted income, the Council approved certain employee considerations and additional print advertising expense.
• Transfer from TV airtime to the Internet - greater exposure for less cost.
John Elliott reported that the Doctrine Committee:
• had concluded its two-year review of ‘The Last Great Day/8th Day’ study paper, and will present its findings and recommendations to the Council.
• is continuing its one-year study review of calendar related materials/issues.
• is working on a short paper on marriage and what constitutes a marriage.

Church of God, a Worldwide Association

Video summaries of Day 1 & Day 2 of the International Ministerial Conference, which took place on 1st & 2nd June 2015.

The Church’s Media team and its web developers at 30 Degrees North are now working on phase 2 of its 3 part plan to overhaul its Life Hope & Truth website.
“We’re now working hard to complete all parts of Phase 2, focusing on creating an “I’m New” page, developing our new online/interactive Bible study course and shooting a brand-new video series. The “I’m New” page will serve as a starting point for visitors who come to Life, Hope & Truth for the first time. It’s here that they will be introduced to the people and the Church behind the website and how to go forward in their learning journey. We are now in the process of creating our new welcome video, which will describe why Life, Hope and Truth exists and what our mission is. We’re also creating our brand-new interactive Bible study course, which will be a key tool in helping our website visitors take the next step in understanding and committing to God’s truth.”

The January 2015 issue of One Accord included a report of the annual meeting of the Ministerial Board of Directors in December 2014. The Doctrine Committee chairman, Don Henson, “reminded the board that the committee reviews various (official) documents and publications” and “also reviews a small number of study papers submitted by members to propose alternate positions to the Church’s longstanding doctrines or understandings. Mr. Henson explained that, while such writers are asked to submit their papers to their pastors first, they generally want the papers to be reviewed by the committee and then usually try to rebut the explanation if it differs from their own. This is is very time-consuming, but such submissions are treated seriously and with respect.”
On 22 December 2014 it was announced that Andrew and Sarah Henderson had been officially suspended and prohibited indefinitely from attending all COGWA services and activities, because “they no longer speak the same thing as the Church.”
The Hendersons had questioned their local minster, Lyle Welty, about the COG Hebrew calendar, which he failed to answer satisfactorily. At his request, they submitted to him a study paper, A Case for the Biblical Calendar, to be forwarded to the Doctrine Committee. On receipt of the study paper, Lyle Welty suspended the couple from attending services, but he eventually agreed to submit it to the Doctrine Committee, which resulted in their total and indefinite exclusion.
It is not then the Doctrine Committee’s role to treat members’ study papers seriously and with respect, and to consider their alternative positions to the Church’s longstanding doctrines or understandings. Rather it is to explain to the members that they are wrong, and that they must comply with the Church’s teachings.

Larry Salyer stated, “All seem to agree that the camaraderie among the MBOD is the best we have had in years. While it is easy to find agreement, I also feel I can disagree and be frank on any issue I want to—even with the administration.”
It’s a pity that this freedom to disagree and be frank on any issue does not extend to those people who pay the high salaries of the Ministerial Board of Directors.

Herbert Armstrong Videos

Grace Communion International (formerly the ‘Worldwide Church of God’) has filed several copyright notices with YouTube concerning the telecast section of Herbert W. Armstrong Library, resulting in the deactivation of the HWAL account with YouTube. HWAL spent years building the YouTube channel, uploading a total of 1,335 videos on to YouTube, where it says they were receiving 1.6 million hits per month.
GCI owns the copyright on all WCG materials, but HWAL believes the publication of the videos falls within the ‘fair use’ provision of the copyright regulations.