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Church of God News

The Journal: News of the Churches of God
The November 30 issue of the Journal is now on-line.

The lead articles concern Radio Church of God history and Deborah Armstrong's decision to place 20+ unpublished hymns by her father, Dwight Armstrong, into the public domain.

United Church of God

The Council of Elders meeting on December 9 resolved unanimously to change the title of the church's English language magazine from The Good News to Beyond Today.

Viktor Kubik and Darris McNeely have explained the reasons for the change of title in an Inside United podcast (21 minutes). Written responses are being given to negative comments on the change - some other churches, sadly, will only publish comments praising leadership decisions.

Living Church of God

The Festival of Tabernacles sites in the USA in 2015 will be:

Boerne, Texas; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii;
Indian Wells, California; Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri;
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Navarre, Florida;

Palm Harbor, Florida; Seaside, Oregon; St. George, Utah;

Tannersville, Pennsylvania; Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
The international sites so far finalized are:
Great Malvern, Worcestershire, United Kingdom;
Ballina, New South Wales, Australia; Victor Harbor, South Australia, Australia;
Rotorua, New Zealand; Christ Church, Barbados.

“Mr. Gerald Weston reports that the ‘Tomorrow’s World’ program aired over CBS Reality—a large commercial television station that reaches about 98% of the UK—is drawing very good responses.”
The program is being broadcast at 7.30am on Sundays.
The Philadelphia Church of God announced in the summer that it would be broadcasting on CBS Reality UK - indeed this was key to its planned expansion in the UK. However, CBS cancelled ‘The Key of David’ shortly before the first program was due to go on air, at 8.00am on Sunday, 7th September. CBS had received complaints about the church’s treatment of members and family non-members, but it did not publish any reason for the cancellation, nor has the PCG made any public comment.

All congregations have been commanded to play a sermonette by Rod McNair on Ministerial Authority and a sermon by Rod Meredith on God’s Government.
(These have not been added to the ‘must play’ sermons on LCG’s website, but can be found on the above links.)

They explain that LCGs doctrine on church government gives the ministry rulership over its church members, some of whom are expressing disagreement with various doctrines and distrust of even the leading ministers.
Roderick Meredith says, “We found that some of these people we’ve had to put out (of the church) ... they often lie and lie, and they’ll twist and turn, and turn things around ...”
“I’ve asked Mr McNair and Mr League - they’ve been working as a team to get all the information on many of these things - and I’m working with them and other leaders ... We’re trying to keep God’s church clean.”

Roderick Meredith wrote in the July/August issue of Living Church News:

“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!
From the start of his ministry more than 60 years ago, Roderick Meredith continuously preached (as did other leading ministers) that Jesus Christ would return in the next 5 years, or at most 15 years - then specifically 1975 - and then that it must happen in the lifetime of Herbert Armstrong - who died in 1986. (His conversations with Ernest Martin must have taken place over 40 years ago, as Ernest Martin resigned from the Worldwide Church of God in January 1974.)
He says that the brethren should not complain about this:
“We must never be involved in ‘murmuring’ and ‘disputing’ and complaining about the fact that Almighty God is giving human beings more time ...”

Continuing Church of God
Bob Thiel writes (18th December):

“Some have wondered how many members/congregants are in the Continuing Church of God. Because we are scattered, this is hard to know for certain.

As reported before, over 500 attended our Feast of Tabernacles’ sites in 2014. More could have come, but we had some border issues in Tanzania and some other issues in Nairobi, Kenya. Some elsewhere could not make it for financial, distance, or other reasons. As it turns out, other scattered groups and individuals have asked to be part of us, since the Feast of Tabernacles.
Today, at my request, Pastor Evans Ochieng sent me a detailed report about members/congregants in Kenya and Tanzania. His report did not include some recent ones who have contacted us, nor some with interest in Uganda or Sudan. For my part, I also have not included numbers for 2-3 groups that are distantly related to us in Asia. Nor have I counted all who may actually be with us – but tried to only include those that I was fairly certain were with us.
Based upon those parameters, I calculated a total.
As of December 18, 2014, there are at least 680 members/congregants in the Continuing Church of God. We have members in all inhabited continents, as well as various islands. We have at least twenty congregations, as well as scattered ones in many locations.” [full text, including news of youth camp]

Legacy Institute

Leon Sexton writes:

“I was just informed that the laws of Thailand immigration governing foreign students obtaining and continuing to retain ED (education) Visas have changed. It is now quite complicated and it affects five of our students from Myanmar (Burma) dramatically.
Since this sudden change, a student from Burma must acquire a Burmese Passport and an ED Visa from the Thai Embassy in Yangon (Rangoon), which costs $300 and a lot of paperwork. This visa is good for three months. Then he or she must renew the ED Visa for another three months ($60) at the Thai Immigration Office. At the end of the additional three months, the student must leave the country and start the process all over again. This will mean additional travel expense in and out of the country and time lost in classes every six months. This new law not only affects our five students from Burma presently, but any future students we may want to bring from there as well. Since the Holy Spirit is especially active in Burma at this time, it really puts a ‘wrench in the works’.
Our students from Burma are either baptized members of the COG or from COG families. Two new arrivals are grandchildren of Saw Lay Bey (a well- known minister in Burma during old WCG days and later the LCG—now deceased).
In a couple of months, Legacy will graduate six more students from Burma, all COG. This is where the Holy Spirit is active and this is where we need trained graduates to return and help build the church.
Since our training program is three years long, these additional new rules with having to leave the country every six months, plus all the extra expense and time lost, is going to make it very difficult—if not impossible—to bring students to Thailand from Burma. The church members in Burma earn little money, so their families cannot afford the expense of sending their children to Legacy. All expenses rest on Legacy and our donors.Please pray that God provides a solution. The new military government is trying to clean up corruption in the country, and all the laws have become stricter. More laws and changing laws are happening every day. We need to bring students here to Thailand since we cannot live in Myanmar. We need a solution.

Winter Family Weekend

The Church of God a Worldwide Association, the United Church of God, and the Living Church of God will all be holding a ‘Winter Family Weekend’ again this year.

As Christmas Day is on a Thursday, the ‘weekends’ will begin in midweek.
COGWA, Tues-Sat, 23-27 December, at the Galt House, Louisville, Kentucky.
UCG, Tues-Sat, 23-27 December, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio. LCG, Wed-Sun, 24-28 December, at Marriott Renaissance Hotel, Charlotte, NC.

Church of God, a Worldwide Association

The church has updated its congregational lists, and has copied the practice of the United Church of God in creating local church websites, with the time and meeting place for Sabbath services, plus a brief introduction from the local pastor and his name and telephone number.

The Father's Call

“The Feast of Tabernacles 2014 took place at Domaines de MesAs a Mantasoa, Madagascar, a town situated about 70 km from Antananarivo. It was really a beautiful site with lots of pure clean air lending to the calming atmosphere.
22 participants enjoyed a very edifying Feast and a very encouraging spiritual refreshing. The principal themes of the sermons presented were the Kingdom of God and our relationships with God and among ourselves.
Several different activities contributed to the enjoyment of the Feast: we had an Evening of Song during which each family was asked to sing a song of their choice without looking at the book; then we had a Biblical Mime Evening during which each family was asked to represent a scene from the Bible solely with gestures and without saying a word; and there was also a general Cultural Evening. Family Day was a big hit with everyone and in addition a very pleasant mini Talent Show took place one afternoon.
We enjoyed some unforgettable moments at the Feast and we would very much like to express our deep thanks and recognition to Mr. Veal and to all of the Church who helped us spiritually and financially to be a part of this marvelous Holy Day season. Each member of the Church in Madagascar expressed his or her joy at being able to participate at the Feast and all said that they felt a renewal and a deepening of their spiritual understanding. A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all for that.”
Evelyne Rakotomalala

Philadelphia Church of God

“We are in a period of time just before the Great Tribulation,” writes Gerald Flurry in his article, “Who are the Two Witnesses?, dated 22nd November.

Why then has he just spent £2.8 million to create a college in England?
“Even though this is now the Laodicean era, God’s Philadelphia Church still does God’s Work. Only they are willing to “rise and measure the temple of God” (Revelation 11:1), or do God’s Work. So the godly representatives from both eras are Philadelphians...”                               
“During the Tribulation, the two witnesses will be the only ones doing God’s Work—supported by God’s Philadelphians in a place of safety.”
A warning to members not to leave the PCG—if they want to go to “a place of safety” before the Great Tribulation.
“This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).

It is a hard lesson for men to learn that God’s Work is done not by high-ranking evangelists or money, but by God’s Holy Spirit! God’s Holy Spirit flows through the two witnesses.”
Will Gerald Flurry learn this hard lesson?

Gerald Flurry announced in July 2013 that the church's offer of £4.5 million for Hanstead House and seven acres of adjacent land had been accepted, which would have enabled PCG to recreate Herbert Armstrong’s Ambassador College.

Flurry admitted in April 2014 that “God is not opening a door to purchase the Bricket Wood campus near St. Albans, England.”
PCG officials searched for a cheaper alternative and “were pleasantly surprised to find a large number of beautiful estates available that are considerably less expensive than the Bricket Wood campus.”
Grant Turgeon announced the completion of the purchase of Edstone Hall, near Stratford upon Avon (understood to be for £2.8 million),
in a news article and video on 12th November. Additional money will be spent on landscaping and adapting the building for offices and classrooms. Regional Director Brad McDonald's plan is for the transfer of the UK office from Northampton to take place in December, and for the first college year to start on 12th January.

Some 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.”

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.

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 took place at 12 noon on Wednesday, October 22.)

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, and no changes were subsequently proposed.] ... 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!”