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Church of God News

The Journal: News of the Churches of God
The July 2014 issue of the Journal is now on-line.

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.

Living Church of God

Roderick Meredith has called upon “our people at Headquarters here in Charlotte to institute an ‘Outreach Program wherein we try to serve and help others in the community in the way Jesus described - visiting the sick and those in prison, feeding and clothing those in need, etc.”
His initiative has not received the full support of HQ ministers -
“Some few have indicated to me that many of the brethren are ‘too busy’ to do this kind of thing. So, in an organized way, we cannot all participate equally because of individual needs. I realize this. Yet, we must not all be ‘too busy’ to do what Jesus said! I am sure that we can tear ourselves away from some of our own family activities, shopping, watching TV, etc., and take time to do those things that Jesus said. In this way we will be ‘reflecting Jesus Christ’ in the way He tells us to do. Also, as the leading ministers in each area request, I hope that, gradually and thoughtfully, ‘Outreach Programs’ may be established in most of our churches of any size ... And, with Christ living in you, I am sure all of us will want to do this as we are able - not making too many excuses.

Brethren, I hope all of us will get behind and promote this program as a vital part of our Christian living and become the example and the light Jesus commands us to be. Such structured opportunities for each congregation need not be more than two or three times a year. But at least the brethren involved can be getting the experience of ‘giving’ in this way. And more and more of our young people can be taught the approach of giving and serving and grow up with this thought in mind as part of the true Christianity which we should be teaching them as part of preparing the bride in order to marry Christ who taught us these things.

So I ask all of you to pray about this. Be responsive to Jesus Christ, and ask God to guide each one of us - in a balanced way - to follow through on this kind of program in each of our congregations and in our personal lives as well. God will bless us if we follow these powerful teachings of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.”

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.

United Church of God

Melvin Rhodes (former UCG Chairman) has been suffering great pain following surgery to remove abscesses around his spine, and underwent further surgery on 7th July to remove another abscess. A nerve, trapped by a disintegrating vertebra, was discovered to be causing the pain, and was cut. He has since been able to sleep well, and is now on a rehabilitation ward, receiving physiotherapy.

The Father's Call

“Cliff Veal will undertake a church visiting trip to Madagascar and Rwanda. He oversees the African area along with his pastoring responsibilities in Europe. In Madagascar (July 24-Aug 4) he will visit with all of the members as well as speak on two Sabbaths. While the official language is French, most speak the local Malagasy language, which means he will speak in French and this will be translated into Malagasy by the deaconess. This is not as easy as it may sound. In Rwanda (August 4-7) there is one member and three people who are requesting baptism.”

Festival of Tabernacles 2014
The Festival of Tabernacles site in Ireland, sponsored by the Church of God a Worldwide Association, is now full, but those on the waiting list will be given priority for the festival at the same venue in 2015.

COGWA's festival site in Orange Beach, Alabama, is also full.

The following sites in the Caribbean are full: Freeport, Bahamas (United CoG); Montego Bay, Jamaica (Living CoG); Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia (United CoG).

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.

Legacy Institute

Leon Sexton reports: Gloria and I recently returned from a trip to Myanmar (Burma) for Pentecost. It continues to amaze me just how much modern development is taking place in this backwater country. It is as if they have suddenly awakened from the Dark Ages. Of course, rapid development takes money—and money is pouring in. I commented to Gloria that when I heard former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was visiting Myanmar, I knew it was going to open up. Billions of dollars are being invested into Myanmar by China, Thailand, U.S.A., and Europe. Why? Why spend billions of dollars investing in this former pariah state? Because Myanmar is very, very rich in natural resources. It has a wealth of oil, natural gas, rare earth minerals, teak wood, and gems. If we add to the bounty of natural resources the fact that the central plains watered by the Irrawaddy River could make Myanmar one of the leading exporters of rice in the world, you have a proverbial gold mine. Everyone wants what Myanmar has.

The advantage to the Work of spreading the Gospel message is immeasurable. The roads built and patrolled by the Romans provided freedom of safe travel throughout the Empire. This allowed the apostles to freely preach the Kingdom of God all over the empire. New roads into the remote mountainous regions of Myanmar will help many more be reached.
Gloria and I observed the Festival of Pentecost with the Church of God brethren in a small mountain village directly east of the city of Taungoo in the Central Plains. The area is still a sensitive military controlled area. We were permitted to visit during the day, but could not stay overnight.
On the Sabbath and Pentecost, I gave sermons about the meaning of the High Holy Day. We had 26 adults and 17 children and were at capacity in the church building. The adults sat on plastic chairs and most of the children sat on mats on the floor in the front. Now we need to build onto and extend the church building. More and more people are beginning to attend. More and more are asking about Jesus and the Church of God, and several local Buddhists are starting to attend. The Church is growing and some are even returning that had stopped coming. It is amazing what takes place when the church gets cleaned up. Once the leavening is removed, the church begins to grow automatically.
We had two new teachers arrive last week. Julia Stewart is from Texas. I knew her when she was a little girl. She has wanted to come and serve at Legacy for the last three years. She even prepared herself by taking classes in how to teach English before she came. We also have Chris Collins here from Ohio. He comes from a family of COG Bible teachers and pastors. Also arriving just last night were three more volunteer teachers: Lacee Hilgen from California, Kathleen Kelly from Oregon, and Michael Slocum from Washington. We had an orientation meeting yesterday and all are eager to get started. All of our volunteer teachers come from COG families. Most are graduates of the United Church of God’s Ambassador Bible Course.
Several months ago we received a surprise donation of $10,000 from the Denny Luker Foundation through LifeNets to buy a tractor. We chose a small Kubota with several attachments to prepare soil for planting. A small tractor is more practical for working small paddy sections. Big tractors are too cumbersome and tear up the weirs that divide the paddy sections. We are already using the tractor we have decided to call the “Denny Tractor” in honor of Denny Luker. We have a grader blade in front and a PTO tiller in the back. We really appreciate the very thoughtful donation for something really needed to help grow our own food.

Church of the Eternal God

Four deacons, two men and two women, have been appointed to care for the increasing German speaking congregations. There was a Festival of Tabernacles site in Germany last year for the first time, and 80-100 German speaking brethren are expected to attend this year's festival.

Philadelphia Church of God

Grant Turgeon, reporting on the Graduation Ball on 15th May 2014 for Herbert W. Armstrong College students, wrote: After receiving a donation from the senior class for establishing a college in Britain, Chancellor Gerald Flurry spoke briefly about his trip to Britain last week with Dean of Students Stephen Flurry. “If you have just a little bit of understanding, you know that God is doing this,” he said, saying that doors were opening in Britain.’

PCG had made a bid to buy Hanstead House, so that it could recreate Herbert Armstrong’s Ambassador College, but with no collateral assets in the UK, and struggling to meet the loan repayments and cover losses for the $25 million Armstrong Auditorium, it failed to raise the money.

For some time after Saint Congar, a property development company, bought the former Ambassador College campus in April 2012, PCG continued to suggest that it was still in negotiations to buy the property.

Saint Conger sought planning approval from St Albans City Council in 2013 for a housing scheme, not only for the conversion of Hanstead House and grounds, but also for a much larger and controversial development on adjacent green belt land which it had also bought.

A letter to the Council's legal department, dated 10 June 2014, in response to an appeal by BRE, states: “the Secretary of State hereby directs that he shall determine this appeal instead of an Inspector. This means that, instead of writing a decision, the Inspector will prepare a report and recommendation, which will be forwarded to the Secretary of State. The reason for this direction is that the appeal involves proposals for significant development in the Green Belt.”

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!”

Continuing Church of God
For over 5 years Robert Thiel has considered himself to be a prophet, and now he is preparing the ground for the possibility of his also being the Elijah to come.
“As far as ‘Elijah’, the position of the Church of God since the beginning is that there would be three biblical ‘Elijahs’. The original Elijah (e.g. 1 Kings 17:1), John the Baptist (Matthew 7:12-13), and an Elijah to come at the very end of the church age (Malachi 4:4-6) to restore all things (Matthew 17:11).”
“Although I have not
restored all things, nor am I insisting that I personally must be the prophesied Elijah, the reality is that I and CCOG have restored what Dr. Meredith repeatedly wrote needed to be.”

[Meredith is the leader of the Living Church of God, which Thiel left at the end of 2012 to form CCOG.]

“...while Herbert Armstrong seemed to feel he was an Elijah, I have yet to see any published statement from him where he directly stated that he was the only possible Elijah, that he restored ALL things, and that there could be no Elijah figure after his death ...”

“Since HWA taught that the one of the two witnesses come in the spirit and power of Elijah, and he was not one of the final two witnesses, he clearly allowed for another ‘Elijah’.”

“... the old WCG taught what I believe that the Bible teaches on them (on the one or two that it did not, one is consistent with a November 1979 HWA  writing, and on the other an advisor to HWA told me that HWA would have agreed with me on that as well).”

Churches of God in East Africa

Following his CCOG conference in Nairobi, Kenya, 1-2 April, Bob Thiel reported that “CCOG currently has over 20 congregations in East Africa, with more expected soon” and “Although I have not seen anything in writing, I have been directly told that Bill Goff (of Voice in the Wilderness Church of God) ... [has] gone to Kenya in an effort to see if those that were once associated with them personally will support them at this time.”
On 8th May he wrote: “A few small groups in Kenya were influenced by another group that does not have our focus on proclaiming the gospel or using the same biblical calendar (
CCOG observes calendar method [1] and VW-COG [2]), so they are no longer part of the Continuing Church of God. This was not a surprise and I even told Evans Ochieng that something like this was likely to happen around now. So, this means that we seem to have 18 congregations and groups in Kenya and Tanzania. Further negative changes may also happen. Despite what has happened, according to Evans Ochieng, we still have over 300 people as part of the Continuing Church of God in Kenya.”
Evans Ochieng was formerly with Roderick Meredith’s Global/Living churches and latterly with Voice in the Wilderness.

Bill Goff has ‘weighed in’ with his views of the actions of Evans Ochieng and “incorporated COG groups who continuously try to draw the brethren into their carnal organizations, and lord over them.”