Mixing Religion and Politics
(Standing Watch) video – 10 minutes.
A list of church services for the Day of Atonement is now on the Live Broadcasts page.
There will be live streaming of services from about 15 Tabernacles/Sukkot festival locations, which will be posted when details are available.
Biblical Calendar 2018
Which New Moon? Israel -v- Global Sighting
The Temple Institute was founded to prepare for the building of the third temple. At that time they expect that a new official Sanhedrin will have reverted to sighting the new moon to begin each month, as they did at the second temple:
“Two witnesses who had seen the appearance of the new moon were required to testify before the Great Sanhedrin …”
“After the destruction of the Holy Temple, the Sanhedrin moved to the town of Yavneh, where it would receive witnesses’ testimony of the new moon. The Talmud relates that Rabban Gamliel displayed pictures of the moon in various stages of its monthly course. He would use the pictures when questioning the witnesses in order to determine the veracity of their testimony.”
The Sanhedrin moved from Yavneh, on the Mediterranean coast, to several places in Galilee. Jewish tradition does not therefore limit sighting of the new moon in Israel to an area around Jerusalem.
Those Jews, who protested against the introduction of the fixed calendar based on the conjunction + rabbinic postponement rules, became known as Karaites.
Nehemiah Gordon, a Karaite Jew, admitted, in an article dated 27 August 2014: “For approximately 15 years, I have been a zealous advocate of using the moon in the Land of Israel to determine when to observe our holidays in the Diaspora. I set this forth in a book. I stated this in a Karaite Fact Card. But over the last year, I’ve come to realize that I might have been wrong. Some of my hesitancy in admitting that I was in fact wrong is because so much of my identity has been wrapped up in this …
When I was in the fourth grade, I showed up to school on the Rabbanite Yom Kippur with a handwritten note from my mom explaining that I would be absent the following day for my religious observance. In that year, the new moon was seen in Israel one day after the Rabbinic calendar set the new month. And that year was the last year the Karaite Jews of America set their holidays in accordance to the new moon sightings in Israel.”
So you have to look at “the full picture and decide any final conclusions for yourself.”
Sighting the New Moon for the Day of Trumpets – from Renewed Moon
“This month’s sighting is, once again, an excellent example of the different results that can be obtained by limiting eyewitness accounts only from Israel versus the consideration of global sightings. Although the practice of restricting renewed moon sightings to this specific geographical location is purely traditional (not scriptual), it’s easy to see how extremely limiting and inaccurate the final results can be. In this case, the moon was clearly sighted, with reports further east from India and Mauritius, prior to Israel’s lone sighting, that should serve as the secondary (or third) confirmation – making Monday, September 10 at sundown the start of the seventh Biblical Month for India and areas westward (including Israel).
By following the Israel-only tradition, however, there is no secondary eyewitness (even though there were many others directly south in South Africa) – therefore there would be no conclusive, verified evidence for Israel-based observers to begin the month on Monday and the start of the month would be delayed until Tuesday, by default (after the 30th day) regardless of where they live and despite contrary evidence of the moon’s renewal. It is this contrast as to why we report for both methods to give you the full picture and decide any final conclusions for yourself.
For more information, visit our FAQ page on this subject – Yehovah be with you!”
Church of God Ministries International
In one of his weekly broadcasts (God’s Unchanging Word) Tom Kerry announced (at 35 minutes) that he can “accurately predict when a new moon will be months in advance” by using astronomical data for the full moon, thereby proving the accuracy of the Hebrew calendar. Sadly, his misunderstanding of basic arithmetic leads him to “prove” the opposite of what he intends.
Quoting Psalm 89:37 “It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven”, he says: “So now, if I want to follow God, not man, that means all those people who are out there, and this is what people want to get confused, all these people who are self appointed to determine the new moon [those who wait for the visible new moon], they have just eliminated the one witness that God left for us.”
“These people who are self appointed” are actually following what the Worldwide Church of God proclaimed that God had commanded: “Jerusalem was always the point from which the new moons were observed and sanctified. It was the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, that determined when the new moon was apparent … If the people of Jerusalem, where God’s permanent headquarters are to be, cannot see this crescent of the moon following sunset, then the entire world east and west of that city must delay beginning the month till the following sunset. This is the ordinance as it was given by God. We are not free to begin earlier because of the way we see it.”
“The one witness that God left for us” he means to be the 100% full moon – not the new moon, which is not visible anywhere in the world on Sunday evening, September 9th, when the Hebrew calendar year begins.
“All you need to do is understand, when is the full moon?”
Displaying a calendar chart for September 2018, he explains:
“There’s the 24th of September, which is the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles. This is Tishrei 15, the middle of the month. If you go look at the calendar, you’ll see, you look at NASA, that’s a full moon … We know when the full moon is, just count back 15 days … it brings you to the 1st of the month [counting inclusively] … which is a new moon according to NASA. Now how complicated can that be?! Hopefully you will understand that you won’t let anybody else persuade you to do things differently.”
Tom, it’s a little more complicated than you believe. The 15th day is not “always dead center of God’s month”. A lunar month has either 29 or 30 days, and the times vary between two astronomical new moons and between new and full moons (see chart of moon phases).
“Like the gentleman here, who told me that no-one can predict, then began to predict when he thought it was going to take place. I know he doesn’t mean any harm, but when he brought his conclusion, he began the Feast of Tabernacles on the 25th, not the 24th, so he is actually one day late, and off the full moon.”
Tom Kerry then displays NASA’s full moon chart, highlighting September 24-25 as the 1st day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Tom, you are one day late – the holy day on the Hebrew calendar is the day before.
He continues: “The full moon takes place in the night-time portion of the 24th, which is the beginning of the Feast, and it completes its fullness in the day-time portion of the 25th, which is still the same day as the 15th of Tishrei [not in the Hebrew calendar, it isn’t] … There’s the new moon on the 10th.”
The Day of Trumpets in the Hebrew calendar begins on the evening of the 9th.
“The new moon and the holy days, they correspond precisely as God’s faithful witness says, every single year … and the Jews to this day have got it right. Because why? Because God has given them the oracles of God.”
If the Jews to this day have got it right, Tom, why aren’t you keeping Pentecost on Sivan 6 each year as they do?
The moon was 100% full on the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread 2018 in the Hebrew calendar [Nisan 15 – March 31], but that was because there was neither an astronomical nor visible new moon on Nisan 1 – March 17. On that evening the old waning moon was still visible.
The Hebrew Calendar and the Advent of Messiah
Monday, the 10th of September 2018 is Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s Day) in the Hebrew calendar year 5779 (known as the Feast of Trumpets in the Worldwide Church of God).
“It is traditional Jewish understanding that the Jewish Messiah would come 4,000 years after the creation of Adam and Eve. In the Talmud in Sanhedrin 97 it is written:
“The Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches: The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation … two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era … [He should have come at the beginning of the last two thousand years; the delay is due to our sins.]” (The 7000 Year Plan of God : Shofar Ministries)
The Jews were searching for the Messiah as the year 4000 drew near:
“And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent unto him from Jerusalem priests and Levites to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; and he confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet. And they had been sent from the Pharisees.” (John 1:19-24)
Jesus died in the year 4000, as foreshadowed by the Passover sacrifice.
“In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house … And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” (Exodus 12:3,6)
Why wait 4 days before killing the lamb?
“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)
The Lamb of God was chosen for sacrifice at the foundation of this world, and he was killed at at the appointed time, 4 days (i.e. 4000 years) later.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
Jesus Christ will return to rule on earth for 1000 years:
“After two days [i.e. 2000 years after his death] will he revive us: in the third day [the 7th millennium] he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” (Hosea 6:2)
If the 7000 Year Plan is scriptural, Jesus will return 2000 years after his death (circa 2030AD), so why is the new year in the Hebrew calendar 221 years away from the year 6000?
The Jewish chronology was changed by The Seder Olam (Order of the World), compiled around 160AD, which re-set the year of creation to 3761BC, thereby delaying the coming of the Messiah by 200 years.
Frank Nelte wrote an article on The Seder Olam back in 1997, demonstrating the absurdities of this chronology, by comparing it with well documented historical events.
Church of God Magazines
The September-October issues of the following magazines are now on-line:
Church of God 7th Day : Bible Advocate
United Church of God : Beyond Today
Church of God a Worldwide Association : Discern
Living Church of God : Tomorrow’s World
Gerald Kirby and his wife Lynne run an on-line Christian ministry in Australia – OzWitness
On Tuesday, 5th June, Gerald wrote:
Sadly I have to suspend writing of now, because my wife has become ill with a serious brain problem, which has placed her in hospital, as she is unable to walk unassisted. Tests are on going. Lynne has always been healthy, so it was a shock, even though she is in her 70′s.
Wednesday, 6th June
Scans reveal brain tumours, which have not spread elsewhere. She is in no pain, but is losing memory, and will undergo a brain biopsy on Friday. There is risk in this operation due to serious possible side effects. Thank you for your prayers, brothers and sisters around the world.
Saturday, 23rd June
Yesterday, Lynne and I, with our two sons, Marcus and Gaius, met with the doctor advisors for a report on the results of the biopsy operation, which were discussed in detail by the team last night. The brain tumour is the highest grade aggressive tumour, grade four. It and several smaller tumours are inoperable and all they can do is stabilise Lynne to “inhibit development deficits”. This would involve some radiation therapy, which could slow down further damage. Without that, their prognosis was for only a few weeks of life, though at the moment Lynne is in no pain and has only lost some control of her legs.
Tuesday, 31st July
After three of the radiation treatment sessions Lynne found the dizziness and nausea anything but stabilising, and as it was never expected to provide a cure, which is in God’s hands, she asked me to take her home.
Monday, 27th August
Strangely, I have almost been afraid to report on Lynne’s happy progress in case it was just an anomaly, but having just returned from our daily walk up the road with her only holding my arm, rather than in a wheelchair, I must tell you that her progress back towards normality has recently been astounding! God has begun to restore the Lynne we all love – her confusion almost gone, her mind much clearer, her ability to do things like simple food preparation or make a cup of tea, etc, restored.
Her voice has returned to normal, whereas it had become almost a whisper, she can balance again and walk independently for short distances, instead of only a slow shuffle, with help. The dizziness and nausea she experienced has gone and, unlike all the other patients in the brain tumour ward, Lynne never experienced any pain or need for pain suppressants, thanks be to God. She feels she has been given a second chance at life by God and, despite outliving the medics’ prognostications, based upon the very worst kind of aggressive brain tumours, she has even begun to remember how to type, and never lost her long term memory, never ceasing to praise God for His mercy towards us as His wayward children.
Thank you all for your loving concern and prayers – I am convinced that without that support we may not have seen this ongoing miracle!
With love and thanks in Jesus Christ’s name, Lynne and Gerald.
Church of God – Preparing for the Kingdom of God
Ronald Weinland has given another signal that his prophesied date for the return of Jesus Christ – Pentecost 2019 – is due to fail, by posting the holy day dates for 2020 and 2021 on his website.
The 3½ years Great Tribulation should have started a year before his sermon on 19 November 2016 (Be Encouraged, part 5), so he knew then that his latest prophecy would fail.
“We live in awesomely serious times! To understand what God has placed before us? I mean, how much do we really believe that we see a world headed towards WWIII? I don’t care if it doesn’t happen until the beginning of 2019 – which I hope and pray is the case, and see why there would be wisdom in not doing it until then. But I don’t care if it goes on to 2020 or 2021. It’s coming! It’s in front of us! If there’s more to be learned, if there’s more to do, that’s up to God Almighty.”
Yet he doesn’t see his continual failures as any reason for so many people to be leaving …
“I’m crying out, brethren, because of where we are and what I see some not doing. And if we go down to a hundred, if we go down to fifty, so be it.”
COG-PKG could easily be down to a hundred after the Festival of Tabernacles.
“We’re not going to advertise. We’re not going to do diddly right now. We’re putting a full stop on everything until God reveals, “Now is the time!” And we’re not there. We’re not even close yet, which is encouraging too …
So how much time God gives the world? How much time God gives this nation? I don’t know.”
Church of God Big Sandy
It was announced last Sabbath that Dixon Cartwright (best known as the publisher of The Journal for 21 years – until January 2018) had suffered another stroke, and was admitted to the East Texas Medical Center (now called UT Health East Texas).
On Sunday a cardiologist approached him about having a heart catheterization on Monday to see if he needed bypass surgery.
Brandi Cartwright reported: “It’s good news. They put in 1 stent to repair a 75% blockage, but his heart was stronger than what the EKG led them to believe. So, no bypass needed.”
On Tuesday he was moved to the rehab portion of the hospital (across the street). He is in room #309. Visitors are welcome after 4:00pm. He expects being able to return home on Wednesday, the 5th of September.
Congregations from the Church of God International (Tyler, Shreveport and some from Dallas) will be combining with CGBS for the Day of Trumpets. The Bible study will be given by Lenny Cacchio of the Kansas City Church of God, and Jeff Reed of the CGI will be giving the sermon.
United Church of God
Videos of most of the meetings of the Council of Elders 20-23 August 2018 have been uploaded, among which is a report by John Elliott on behalf of the Doctrinal Committee.
Here is a written report by Shawn Cortelyou covering all 4 days.
James Malm (God Our Light) writes:
“UCG to adopt major heresy- The Doctrinal Committee recommends (link to COE video) that the statement “Jesus is the God of the Old Testament” be removed from UCG and no longer used. They will have a formal Study Paper supporting the position that Jesus was not the God of the Old Covenant for CoE approval in December. The CoE can approve such doctrinal papers and make them official in a simplified process due to the new formula for changing doctrines passed in May.
They use a lot of double talk saying without any evidence [all evidence being to the contrary] that because the Father was alluded to in the Old Testament they surmise that he must have been the God of the Mosaic Covenant.
(Note: when John Elliott talks at the start about discontinuing the statement “Jesus is the God of the Old Testament”, he emphasizes the word “the” – and at 22 minutes suggests amending this phrase to “Jesus is God in the Old Testament” – not removing the whole phrase.)
Without doubt this is a dramatic departure from both Armstrong and Holy Scripture and is a massive change in UCG towards the evangelical idea that God the Father was the God of the Mosaic Covenant; while Jesus brought the New Covenant which they falsely claim exalts “love” above God’s law; when God’s love [including all of the statutes, precepts and judgments which God gave to Moses] is love and defines godly love.
The groundwork was laid for this move to the evangelical by the recent new Trinity booklet and the Mark Mickelson paper. Also see this article.
Once adopted, this heresy will bring UCG into line with CGI, CGBS [see Dixon Cartwright 20 Aug] and the Ron Dart people.
(Here are the “heretical” beliefs of the CGI and CGBS, to which UCG is allegedly moving towards. The “Ron Dart people” are the Christian Educational Ministries [Born to Win ] and the Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association)
Once they get this approved in December they will have laid the foundation for moving towards the evangelical positions these same men crafted for Joe Tkach before they were laid off and joined the forming UCG.
Where is this heading? UCG has spent the last decade indoctrinating its students at ABC with the lie that “We do not keep the Sabbath, High Days, clean and unclean etc, because we have to; we do this because we want to;” thereby assuming the Mark of the Beast by exalting their personal choice above the sovereignty of God’s command.
Once they officially reject and then deny that Jesus Christ was the God of the Mosaic Covenant they can proceed to claim that none of these things are required any longer, but are simply a matter of personal choice: Which is exactly what they taught with Joe Tkach, before being laid off when so many brethren left the WCG.”
Christian Educational Ministries
“We are excited about an addition to the CEM team – Blake Silverstein as our new General Manager. He is a native Texan from Manvel, a small rural town just south of Houston. Before coming to work at CEM he owned a small construction company focused on renovations and remodeling services in the Houston area, a company that was able to donate time and work to help many families rebuild after hurricane Harvey.
Blake is married to Tracy and the father of a young toddler, Jeremiah. They spend most days chasing little Jeremiah and keeping him out of trouble. Tracy works in commercial operations for Fox Sports Southwest. They attend church in Katy, Texas, at the Katy Christian Fellowship, which is pastored by George Crow.
After listening to the Born to Win radio series and many of Ron Dart’s sermons, he found himself inquiring more about his deeper purpose in God’s plan. Not knowing where it would lead, he attended church with his stepfather, and sometime later, at the Common Faith Network Feast site in Destin, Florida, he was baptized by George Crow and Terry Post.
Blake recalls, “I still remember it like it was yesterday. There were these dark black clouds and a bad storm causing the Gulf of Mexico to thrash restlessly, and just before a peal of lightening ripped through the sky, Mr. Crow leaned over and said, You sure you want to do this? to which I replied, Worst case we get zapped and come to in the kingdom of God!”
He looks forward to leading our team as we fulfill the mission of CEM. Blake’s plans include assisting the staff in putting the Born to Win radio series into modern platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and other online resources over the next few weeks, as well as continuing to keep the promise to serve the public and individual Christians of every kind through the ministry of Ronald L. Dart.
Blake truly understands the value of Ron’s ministry and the impact it can have on a life. As he put it in our first staff meeting, “Without Ron’s teaching I wouldn’t be a baptized Christian right now.”
Gloria Sexton writes: “First of all Leon and I want to thank all of you for your continued support, not only in your generous donations, but your heartfelt prayers. We are deeply moved—and sometimes with grateful tears. We read your precious notes and emails and are encouraged and comforted. God continues to supply all needs as HE has promised.
Leon and I continue to receive sermons sent to us to use for Sabbaths in Chiang Mai. We also send them out weekly to some of our Karen and Kachin brethren. These sermons are not Leon’s, but from our Western ministers or speakers—though a few are Leon’s from the past. We go through these sermons and simplify them for our Burmese translators and those whose first language is not English. Here are a few THANK YOUs to those of you who most kindly help support us by providing godly messages for our brethren. One lady is Jane Brown, who has transcribed sermons from various speakers for Leon. Mr. Vince Szymkoviak continues to send transcripts with audio. We rarely have to change anything, because he has been to Thailand and understands the needs of our translators.
Because of your support, we are now able to put eleven young people into the better local JawkTaing SDA School and two girls into the SDA University in Maung Mya, south of Yangon. In our last letter, we gave the names of those students. Not only are Leon and I grateful to you, but so are the parents and children. Seng Pan took photos of their thank you letters and sent them to us.
SengPan, along with our SDA High School students, continue to teach Friday Night Sabbath School to the older youth and Sabbath Day School to the younger children. Sometimes youth will come from nearby villages from the community just to take part in the Sabbath activities. This has been made possible now for several years by the Tulsa Church of God, Oklahoma.
We will continue our Youth Programs in Burma two times a year—with or without foreign volunteers. Of course, we prefer to have the foreign volunteers, because our young people are able to continue to learn more about the Bible and practice their English communication with real English-speaking individuals.
We would be most grateful for any volunteer teachers who will come serve for at least 10 to 14 days around Passover/Unleavened Bread and/or the December-January school break. Something really wonderful is that this Youth Program includes children not only from our local COG congregation, but the youth from the entire community. Some come from the SDA schools, especially if the program is during the year-end break.
We are planning to have the next session during the December/January break. If any of you are able to help out with our bi-yearly Legacy Youth Program, let us know if this would be a possibility for you. Please write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AhJar Shan has continued to stay in the far north of Myanmar. After the death of her grandmom, she has stayed in NaMawn, Kachinland, with her mother—who would be alone now, if not for AhJar. Our plan, if God so will, is to see her at the Feast of Tabernacles in JawkTaing. We would like for AhJar to continue translating for us. The weekly sermons would be especially helpful for our brethren in JawkTaing. She is still working on our latest version of the Holy Day booklet. AhJar had an older computer that is no longer functioning properly. It was taken to Yangon for repairs, and it was not reparable. If we are able, we would like to take her a new/used laptop computer at the Feast and bring the old one back to see if there is some hope. We have been informed that a new computer here in Thailand costs about 10,000 to 13,000 baht ($300 to $400. U.S. dollars). She will also need some quality safety back-up and surge protection.
THE BUILDING OF THE EATING HALL IN JAWKTAING
It’s rainy season! Everything is a bit slower. At first, logs were bought in and they cut this themselves with a chain saw and truck to pull through the wood—a method I have not seen before. Seng Aung is still waiting for wood, which is hindering this project. Here are the messages he sent us: “About the Hall (eating). I was order the wood. Two bridges is broken so they cannot carry—so I am waiting… The wood will arrive when the bridge will done. The government is continue to build the bridge. I will (then) carry the wood with the cow.” In the meantime the government quit working on the bridge.
The eating area will be on the ground floor, and the plan for the second floor is for classrooms, and a sleeping area when needed.”
FEAST OF TABERNACLES IN MYANMAR (MONDAY 24TH SEPT—MONDAY 1ST OCT)
If you would like to come to Taungoo and Jawk Taing for the Feast of Tabernacles, we have a few cancellations, so there are rooms available. There is a new hotel that is just a couple of years old and the staff is very kind and helpful. The room rate has been discounted again to 35,000 kyats ($26), for one or two people. Included are breakfast, WiFi, mini bar, air conditioning, private bathroom with hot water, T.V., hairdryer, and towels. If you want to check it out online, type in “Pathi Hotel in Taungoo.” There is also a nice restaurant on the premises. Please book through Legacy for the above-mentioned rate by writing to us at email@example.com. We will email your booking confirmation. Please pay the hotel at the end of your stay.
We will have no “package” available, though we will have feast activities. You will be responsible for payment should you participate in any of the activities. We will let you know activity amounts as we find out the number of guests that are interested.
Logistically, you will fly to and from Yangon and stay at a hotel of your choice. (Best Western in China Town worked very well for Mr. Earl Roemer and Mr. David Bensinger, and you can book it online.)
You will need to get a “Myanmar Tourist Visa” online. The Burma Embassy will want a copy of your booking reservations and dates of travel. The purpose for your visit will be as a “tourist.” From Yangon, you can make your own travel arrangements to take a bus to Taungoo or make other arrangements of your choice. More details will be forthcoming. The Pathi Hotel will pick up from the Taungoo bus station for free; just give the bus number and time of your arrival in Taungoo. To return to the bus station, there will be a charge.
Here is a brief outline for travel in Myanmar for the Festival:
Wed. 19th Sept.: Atonement in Chiang Mai. Leon and I will leave the next day to Yangon. Sabbath 22nd: In Jawk Taing (30 minutes from Taungoo).
Mon. 24th: 1st Day Festival of Tabernacles at Pathi Hotel meeting room.
Sabbath 29th: At Pathi Hotel meeting room.
Mon. 1st Oct.: Last Great Day at Pathi Hotel meeting room.
Tues. 2nd: Travel back to Yangon
There will be daily worship services at Jawk Taing and festival activities when it’s not a high day or Sabbath. We all look forward to keeping the Festival with you!”
United Church of God
Victor Kubik was recently a guest on the Friday evening program Bring on the Sabbath (this section starts at 17 minutes). He then gave Sabbath day sermons at the Church of God International in the morning, and at the Church of God Big Sandy in the afternoon.
During the evening program one of the presenters mentioned that UCG ministers will be speaking at non-UCG Festival of Tabernacles venues this year.
Anthony Wasilkoff will be in Collingwood, Ontario, a festival site sponsored by the CGI and the Canadian Church of God (which is affiliated with the Churches of God Outreach Ministries).
Kevin Kenady will be at a site sponsored by the CGI and Christian Educational Ministries in Gilbertsville, Kentucky (Land between the Lakes).
Aaron Dean will be speaking both in Kentucky and at the CGI site in Harrison, Arkansas.
This is quite a change from the situation prior to 2011 (when the Church of God a Worldwide Association was formed). Prior to COGWA’s split, UCG’s Council of Elders censured fellow council member Aaron Dean and suspended him from speaking for 6 months for daring to give a sermon at a non-UCG event.
Church of God – Preparing for the Kingdom of God
Ronald Weinland returned to the lectern last Sabbath, having missed only 5 weeks, following his third heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery, and gave a 1½ hour sermon.
He was dressed in a jacket and sweater, instead of the regulation suit, buttoned shirt and tie, and explained “… how dumb it is for me to get up here and speak, and have something tied around my neck tight, when I have a bad flow of blood through my body.”
He concluded that it is no longer sensible to continue the rules handed down from the WCG as to how men and women should be attired for services – in future it would only be necessary for members to be smartly dressed.
Looking back on his church experience, he remarked, “It means a lot more to me now, because I see it in a different light than I used to, because of what I’ve gone through, what I’ve experienced, and I wouldn’t have traded that for anything in the world for what I’ve gleaned through it.”
He sees it “in a different light” – but that light is not clear enough for him to express repentance for:
• seizing control of the assets of Church of God Toledo in 2000 – reported to have been $300,000;
• failing to admit that he was a false prophet, after assuring listeners, in a radio interview on the 10th of April 2008 that the 3½ years Great Tribulation would begin one week later, and “If things do not happen by mid-June, very clearly so, I will make it very clear that I was a false prophet, and I will never preach again” – but instead prophesying 3 more dates for the return of Jesus Christ: Pentecost in 2012, 2013 and 2019;
• On the 18th of April 2008 declaring his wife to be the Second of the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 alongside himself (even though she has remained a ‘Silent Witness’ ever since);
• income tax evasion in 2012 (for which he was sentenced to 3½ years imprisonment).
Huffington has added to this post a 2-minute snippet from one of Ronald Weinland’s sermons, in which he declares, “See what happens when you don’t change, and you want to continue to live the stupidity of your past … Do not follow a minister … unless they speak the truth. And, if they speak a lie, they are not yielding themselves to the righteousness of God, God’s truth and God’s way of life.”
Church of God a Worldwide Association
On In Accord, 9th August 2018, Clyde Kilough, reporting on Internet Developments (starting 4 minutes in), stated that the number of unique visitors to its website was 765,083 in January 2018 (higher than in 2017), but then the numbers tumbled each month to 456,732 in July. He went on to explain the factors that affect website rankings in addition to visitor numbers, and how the ranking rules are adjusted continually.
The metrics of Alexa’s Traffic Rank were updated on the 12th of August, and the new chart shows that, contrary to the decline in visitor numbers, COGWA’s global rank has risen from 600,000 in May to 300,000 in August. (Easy Counter: COGWA vs UCG comparison)
Intercontinental Church of God
Garner Ted Armstrong founded the ICG after he was expelled from the Church of God International in 1997 for sexual misconduct. When he died in 2003, his son Mark took over, whose only significant involvement is the issue of a weekly newsletter, which is almost entirely devoted to American politics – mostly extolling the virtues of Donald Trump. He began his weekly update for 3 August 2018: “Is there some news in the world that doesn’t contain an angle that involves President Trump? Apparently not” – and linked it to an item on Fox News, headlined: “Media continue attacking Trump despite his week of accomplishments and strong economic growth.”
It’s very rare for him to spend any time at all discussing the ICG – but this week he ended the letter with a P.S. “We were welcomed warmly by David Overstreet, Jr., his wife and the people in Tampa last Sabbath. With 28 in attendance, thirteen very fine people were new to us and we surely enjoyed their participation. My son Michael was on hand to provide statistics from our on-line advertising. Here’s the latest. Our posts have been viewed by almost 4 million, with 1,200 new page “followers,” and 39,000 NEW visitors to our website. One current campaign is directing Is God a Mystery? to people who are specifically interested in the “Trinity.” That should get interesting. More to come …”
Is it possible that the younger generation is taking ICG in a new and better direction? If this does not happen soon, the future of ICG is bleak. The website Silenced estimated its worldwide membership at 200. Whilst this is too low – there are currently 365 on ICG Members Facebook page – the 90+ total of congregations on its church towns list is definitely out of date.
Several of the Texan congregations listed broke away years ago to form the House of God, whose FOT site in Galveston continues to be listed as an ICG festival site.
The Seventh Day Christians in the UK were at one time nominally affiliated with the ICG, which continues to list the FOT site at Kendal in the English Lake District. An overseas speaker from the House of God would regularly go there, but now this FOT group is associated with the CGI in the UK, which established a congregation in England in 2017 – the first since 1997 (when CGI imploded after the revelations concerning Garner Ted Armstrong.)
We have revised our church list to include only congregations for which local websites could be found, so that we now have a total of 43 ICG congregations worldwide.
This includes Corbin, Kentucky, which has this interesting statement on its sidebar: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, this congregation will no longer be meeting, at least for now … There is a United Church of God congregation in nearby London, Kentucky, if you would like to attend.”
United Church of God
Steve Myers states, in a brief Beyond Today Bible Study and Media Update, that the one hour bible study webcasts will no longer be broadcast live. The 11 series already broadcast will remain on the website. There will be no more bible studies until the new video studio is ready, when new bible studies will be recorded with the same format as the TV series.
Voice in the Wilderness Church of God
Update from Bill Goff, 5 August 2018:
“I hope all is well with you, as we patiently await the return of our Lord and Savior.
We here at Sengera House are doing okay. School has closed for the Month of August. They will now have a much needed break from the very busy schedule and routine of getting up at 5:30am and preparing to be in class by 7:00am (even earlier for the two boys in High School).
This past Sabbath we traveled to the Massai border to visit the church group there (Ketongo). They greeted us with a very warm welcome. Services lasted about three hours including songs by the children’s choir. Afterwards we all shared a bowl of rice and a cup of tea.
This group has been suffering a lot. You might recall they had no access to water, and we funded the digging of a well. The brethren have been drawing water form that well and are so appreciative of the help you have given them. In the past, they had to walk a total of three kilometers to fetch and carry back every drop of water needed to wash their clothes, cook their food, bathe etc. What a blessing to have access to water nearby.
We are now hoping to assist them with another project. They are congregating on Sabbath under some trees for shade. This is the last group that I know of who is still in need of a meeting hall where they can meet every Sabbath rain or shine, and be protected from the elements.”
United Church of God
2019 Feast Cruise Decision
“We were asked to poll our brethren about an interest in a cruise ship Feast of Tabernacles in the Caribbean. A survey was distributed on May 30 to determine the interest in keeping such a Feast.
While there are many who expressed interest, we have decided not to have a cruise ship as a Feast site. A number of factors have led to the decision.
We already have many Feast sites serving our scattered brethren around the world in their countries. Manpower availability is critical for the more than 50 sites, some of whom have a very limited number of speakers and staff. A cruise that does not serve brethren in a particular geographical location will draw off more manpower. As we plan our Festival venues we need to consider the purpose and staffing of our Festival program.
Thanks to those who responded to the survey.”
Philadelphia Church of God
PCG members are being urged to take part-time jobs to help pay for Gerald Flurry’s jet – which he hasn’t used for ‘the work’ since his public appearance campaigns in January (Los Angeles) and February (Houston).
‘Fundraising for God’ (Philadelphia News, May-July 2018):
“God blesses us in many ways, and He asks for so little in return … tithes, holy day offerings and funds for building, airplane and other projects …
There are more than 100 Philadelphia Church of God congregations spread across the globe. Most of these congregations have few members … Even small congregations can make a big contribution through fundraising…
Chief financial officer Andrew Locher said that the Church received $200,000 in fundraiser donations in 2017…
So what are some practical fundraisers you can become involved in? Here are some ideas you can suggest to your local minister. One of the most profitable ways to earn money is to work concessions at sporting venues, which are always looking for people to staff their food and drink stands …
When I was serving as a minister in Michigan, we had a bake sale where one chocolate cake auctioned for $150!
An average of 17 Philadelphia Church of God members from northern Illinois and from Wisconsin worked together at three separate evening events in January and February selling concessions at the Sears Centre Arena under the direction of Associate Pastor Eric Anderson and Chicago deacon Jim Privratsky Sr.
The first event was a sell-out country music concert that took place the night of January 20. By the end of the show, 18 PCG volunteers had brought in a record-breaking sales commission of $3,080, plus $813 in cash tips.
At the second event, 15 PCG volunteers raised $1,158 during a Monster Truck Nationals show the night of January 27.
On the night of February 3, 18 PCG volunteers raised $2,463 working a third event – a Professional Championship Bull Riders competition.
The combined profit from the three events amounted to $7,515. The funds will be added to the northeast region’s annual summer speedways and fall fruit sale proceeds and sent to headquarters in early 2019 to support the Church’s aircraft fund.
Chicago member David Privratsky noted how these types of fundraisers help unify the brethren, saying that working together was ‘a unique and special opportunity to interact with God’s people apart from weekly services; it helped strengthen the spiritual family bond’.”
(David Privratsky was married to Janet Gennaro, who committed suicide in 2014 due to Gerald Flurry’s no contact policy.)
Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association
Press Release (27 July 2018)
The Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association (RLDEA) is pleased to announce that this ministry is now fully operational. The purpose of the RLDEA is to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ by using the works of the late Ronald L. Dart. The RLDEA is solely funded by an endowment from the estate of Ron’s wife, Allie Driver Dart. The RLDEA does not accept any donations from the public.
The board of directors and executive committee of the RLDEA are Wes White, Gary Gibbons, and Cathy Gibbons.
RLDEA’s new website has just opened. It is RLDEA.com. At this time, the website has limited materials. More and more materials will be added over the coming months and years.
The three main pillars of the website will be the tabs: “Turn the Page,” “Printables,” and “Ron’s Books.”
Turn the Page (TTP). The “Turn the Page” tab presently has two of Ron’s sermons posted. Each message has a brief introduction by Gary and Wes. The RLDEA is committed to not editing Ron’s works for content in any way, although Gary Gibbons (owner of GG Media) is a professional audio engineer who will be “cleaning up” Ron’s older messages to make them more audible. More of Ron’s messages will be added to TTP in the coming weeks. Some of the messages that will be posted go all the way back to 1977. The RLDEA management team believes that Ron’s messages are timeless and will have value 50 and even 100 years from now.
Printables. The “Printables” tab contains transcribed sermons by Ron. Again, these messages are unedited and printed exactly as Ron gave them. Each Printable is a PDF file that is formatted to be printed, hole-punched, and placed in a three-ring notebook. And the RLDEA is in the process of creating Bible study questions to supplement these messages. The purpose of the “Printables” tab is to provide materials for personal Bible study or for small group, interactive Bible studies. Currently, there are eleven “Printables” on the RLDEA website.
Ron’s Books. The “Ron’s Books” tab shows the full-length books that Ron has written. The tab tells readers they may purchase Ron’s books at Amazon.com. the RLDEA gets no royalties for these Amazon purchases.
The RLDEA will also be producing 30 second audio commercials that promote Ron’s works. These commercials will be played on the live, weekly internet show, “Start Our Sabbath.”
The RLDEA will also be producing four-to-six minute videos called “Answers For the 21st Century Thinker (21CT).” The format of these videos will be to examine some historical event or some current event that can provide the viewer with a lesson. That lesson will be used to promote a TTP message, or a Printable message, or a book written by Ron. Presently, there is one 21CT message on the RLDEA website. These 21CT messages will be played on “Start Our Sabbath.”
The RLDEA management team feels it has assembled a quality staff to promote Ron’s materials. Our staff consists of contract labor employees around the world.
There will be further efforts to promote Ron’s works internationally.
For more information, please contact Wes White firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dynamic Christian Ministries
A question for COG hierarchies: Are You Bringing Young People to Christ or Just Spinning Your Wheels?
In the Living Church News, July/Aug 2018, LCG’s presiding evangelist, Gerald Weston, acknowledged that his church has a problem: “Many members do not watch the telecast and many do not read our literature. This is a curious phenomenon, as we find that some of these same members are well-versed in the literature of others. And it is evident that the problem is not lack of time, as people today spend loads of time on Facebook, snapchat, twitter, e-mail and/or television. One must wonder why this is the case. Perhaps our writings are not compelling enough for members to read them or our Tomorrow’s World telecasts fail to compete favorably with other options. If that is the case, we sincerely apologize.”
Is it really a “curious phenomenon” that LCG’s output is unappealing to many, and compares unfavorably with other options?
In March 2017 LCG launched a new initiative – a live weekly TV discussion program on Facebook and YouTube, called TWnow (i.e. Tomorrow’s World live), which was broadcast at 3pm ET, on Thursdays.
(Was it aimed at Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where it could be viewed in the evening? Is it broadcast live now – who knows? – LCG doesn’t say.)
In the latest broadcast (July 19), two of LCG’s top ministers, Jonathan and Rod McNair, talked with a “token millennial”, Josh Lyons, about The Vanishing Church – “Fewer people attend church than ever. But why is this the case?”
Compare their presentation with another on the same subject that was broadcast on July 13 – SOS #63 Are You Bringing Young People to Christ or Just Spinning Your Wheels?
Start Our Sabbath was launched at around the same time as TWnow. It is put together by a small group of unpaid volunteers, and is broadcast live on Facebook (with a live feed to YouTube), from the home of two of its presenters.
Our Adventist Churches
“The 14th edition of the Handbook of Denominations in the United States has just been published (the previous edition was in 2010). Monte Sahlin (author and SDA pastor) writes:
The new edition lists 10 denominations under the Adventist category … All together it provides concise descriptions and histories of more than 200 denominations that are generally defined as Christian …
The 10 Adventist denominations include two relatively large ones, each with more than a million adherents in the United States and eight small ones that total only 107,000 members all together. These eight small Adventist denominations you may have never heard of.
[If you have any knowledge of Herbert Armstrong, you will have heard of some of these.]
The two large Adventist denominations listed in the Handbook of Denominations in the United States are the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Many Adventists will not like the idea that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are classified in the same category with them, but Charles T. Russell, who started the Jehovah’s Witnesses movement, was deeply influenced by the Advent movement of the mid-1800s, although he was not born until 1852. As the book explains, “He developed his own Adventist ideas based on personal study of the Bible, and his lectures attracted huge crowds. To date, some thirteen million copies of his books have been circulated.” The first Russellite group formed in 1870, at the close of the decade in which the Seventh-day Adventist denomination officially organized.
Today, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are estimated to have about 1.2 million members in the United States in 13,000 congregations. There are about 1.3 million members of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in the United States and, if their unbaptized, small children are included, it is about 1.5 million people all together.
[Charles Taze Russell founded the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1881, but Jehovah’s Witnesses was formed by one of the WTB schisms in 1931, 15 years after Russell’s death.]
The Advent Christian Church grew out of the William Miller movement in the 1840s and has about 22,000 members in 270 congregations. It has no creed, but preserves the pacifist position and Sunday worship practice that was common among Millerites. It rejected the ministry of Ellen White and the theological ideas of early Seventh-day Adventists, but has a shared view of the “state of the dead.” It has a congregational organization and maintains affiliations with Aurora University and Berkshire Christian College.
The Christadelphians are both Adventist and Unitarian in theology with roots in the Disciples of Christ, and have 15,000 members in 170 congregations. In 1844, John Thomas launched a “return to primitive Christianity” which was pacifist, congregational in structure, had an inerrant view of Scripture and rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. They have no clergy and women are not permitted to speak or pray publicly or participate in meetings of elders. They have no associations or headquarters.
[The largest number of members is in the UK, where The Christadelphian magazine is published. Regular events are still held on the Sabbath, but most, if not all, congregations now meet on Sunday.]
The Church of God and Saints of Christ is a historically African-American, Sabbath-keeping denomination that seeks to live a literal understanding of the Old Testament. It now has some 40,000 members in 50 congregations and was begun by William S. Crowdy who was born to slave parents, served in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and was a Baptist layman when he began to have visions in 1893. The organization is episcopal and its headquarters is in Cleveland.
The Church of God General Conference is an odd-lot collection of groups that have a variety of backgrounds, including several connections with the Advent movement of the 1840s. The current organization was actually formed in 1921 and has about 4,000 members in 84 congregations. It is sometimes called the church of Abrahamic faith, reads Scripture very literally, is Arian in theology, and shares with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination the teaching on the “the state of the dead.” The structure is congregational and affiliated with Atlanta Bible College.
The Church of God (Seventh Day) is a Sabbath-keeping denomination that formed in 1858-63 as the Seventh-day Adventist denomination was getting organized, largely around the issue of rejecting the role of Ellen White. Its headquarters is in Denver and it is affiliated with Lifespring School of Ministry. It has about 11,000 members in 200 congregations.
Grace Communion International is the denomination that has emerged from the Worldwide Church of God after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong. He was a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) when he started the Radio Church of God in 1934. He taught the seventh-day Sabbath and other Adventist ideas and the members were tied directly to the denominational headquarters. It grew rapidly from 1964 to 1974, but then conflict surfaced as local groups formed and Armstrong’s son took members with him into a splinter group when he was disfellowshiped, allegedly for adultery. Armstrong died in 1986 when the denomination had 120,000 members. Over time it repudiated many of its teachings, a number of local groups joined other denominations and splinter groups formed. It has become a conventional Evangelical denomination and currently has about 11,000 members in 300 congregations. Some congregations, wishing to retain the Sabbath, have joined the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.
[GCI retains the doctrines of the resurrection at Jesus Christ’s return, a future Kingdom of God on earth, and adult baptism by immersion. Sunday is now the desired day for worship, which it is for most members, although 90% of the congregations in Great Britain and Ireland continue to observe the Sabbath.]
The United Church of God is the largest denomination that still holds to the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong. It has about 14,000 members in 200 congregations, it is strongly Adventist, and continues to teach British Israelism, Armstrong’s unique theology. Headquarters are in Cincinnati.
[UCG continues to teach about British Israelism, but does not wholeheartedly endorse it.]
The Philadelphia Church of God broke off from the Worldwide Church of God in 1989. It has about 5,000 members in 100 congregations. It is a Sabbath-keeping denomination and pacifist in principle, and teaches “the state of the dead” in a manner similar to Seventh-day Adventists. It holds to the traditional teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong.”
Church of God – Preparing for the Kingdom of God
Membership of COG-PKG is down to around 200. That might seem surprisingly high, given his track record, but there are always those who struggle to accept that they have been deceived.
It was reported on 7 July 2018 that: “Ronald Weinland has undergone quadruple bypass surgery. He is still at hospital under observation due to afib (atrial fibrillation) issues.”
In the past 10 years Ronald Weinland has announced 4 dates for the return of Jesus Christ, made many rambling and contradictory prophetic statements, and been imprisoned for 3½ years for failing to pay tax on millions of dollars of church funds that he and his wife spent on themselves and their family.
In a radio interview with James Whale, 10 April 2008, he declared that on 17 April 2008:
• The 1st trumpet of the 7th seal would be blown (which only he would be able to hear).
• The 3½ years (1260 days) of ‘great tribulation’ would start, ending with the return of Jesus Christ on the Day of Trumpets 2011 (29 September 2011 on the Jewish calendar).
• The Two Witnesses (Ronald Weinland and his wife Laura) would begin prophesying for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth – Rev.11:3. (He has never prophesied clothed in sackcloth, and Laura has always been a ‘silent witness’.)
• The pope would be given special power on his visit to Washington DC.
• Nuclear explosions would devastate the USA within 45-90 days of the 1st trumpet.
When asked by James Whale what he would do if none of this were to happen, he responded: “If things do not happen by mid-June, very clearly so, I will make it very clear that I was a false prophet, and I will never preach again.”
The blowing of the 1st trumpet of the 7th seal was put back to December 2008, because God revealed to him that Jesus Christ would not return until Pentecost 2012, which was then delayed to Pentecost 2013. His next predicted date was Pentecost 2019, on which he has recently been back-tracking, admitting that Jesus Christ’s return will probably be after this date.
Philadelphia Church of God
According to his new book, The New Throne of David, Gerald Flurry now sits as King on the Throne of David. He has identified the ‘Place of Safety’ as Adullam, a cave in Israel. He says he will shortly be transporting Herbert Armstrong’s prayer rock (the new “stone of destiny”) to Adullam, where he and his church will soon begin living for the duration of the ‘Great Tribulation’ (provided the Israeli authorities don’t see any problem with this!).
pp.1-2: ‘on January 14  … I heard a strong voice. That had never happened to me before. This voice said, “There is a new stone of destiny and a new throne of David.”
The stone of destiny is the stone over which British monarchs are crowned. It is also known as the stone of Scone, or Jacob’s pillar stone … God has shifted the symbol of David’s throne and that royal line to a new stone.’
Fortuitously, the new stone of destiny is an icon already in PCG’s possession.
p.4 ‘In his autobiography, Mr. Armstrong described what he called a “prayer rock” that he used very early in his ministry, during his time in Oregon … “I discovered a rock about 14 inches high,” he wrote … “It became sort of a daily pilgrimage, during my stay at the Fishers’, to this, which became my ‘prayer rock’.”
p.5 ‘Later, his “prayer rock” was moved to the PCG campus in Edmond, Oklahoma.
p.11 ‘Mr. Armstrong’s prayer rock has replaced the “stone of destiny”.
The date on which I came to recognize this is significant. It was yet another example of God making something momentous happen on or near January 16, the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986.’
p.13-14 ‘The stone of destiny is really the symbol of David’s throne – not the chair that sits in Westminster Abbey. God said there would never lack a man to sit on that throne – and here He says the throne will be established in a temporary, Tribulation setting, with God’s loyal people dwelling in a rocky fortress!
Isaiah’s prophecy says the individual sitting on the throne at that time will be “seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.”
I wrote how this implies it will be occupied not by a member of Britain’s royal family, but by a Spirit-led member of God’s Church. I then pointed to the prophecy in Micah 2:13 referring to the leader of God’s Church as “their king” …
I was wrong in thinking the way I did about us getting that stone. God had a better stone in mind – one superior to that original stone! God is making this significant change for a good reason: We are ready to go to the place of safety, and we now have the new stone of destiny!’
p.22 ‘God is getting us ready to go to the place of safety where David’s throne is prophesied to be. There is a new king and a new stone. There has to be for this prophecy to be fulfilled! And this new king would have to be God’s apostle, at least for this time.’
So Gerald Flurry is not only God’s prophet but also now God’s apostle and king.
Flurry says a prophecy in Micah 1 identifies the location of the ‘Place of Safety’ as Adullam.
pp.24-25 ‘During the Great Tribulation, they will suffer as never before! Now – what will happen to God’s people during that time? Verse 15 says, “Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel.”
This translation is a little awkward. The word Mareshah means summit, or chief place. And the New King James Version reads: “… The glory of Israel shall come to Adullam.”
Where is Adullam? This was the cave to which David escaped when he was on the run from King Saul (1 Samuel 22:1).
Remember, Micah is an end-time book. Here is a prophecy of a time when “the glory of Israel” will come to a cave, or rocky fortress. The Cambridge Bible Commentary says it is “the worthy part of Israel” that goes to Adullam. The Soncino commentary says, “[T]he phrase means that Israel’s nobility will take refuge in a cave” (emphasis mine throughout). Who are the nobility of Israel? They are the people who have the throne of David! …
We must be prepared to go to the cave of Adullam, the place of safety. Make this a part of your thinking, because we live in the most urgent time ever! We must be willing to go any place and do anything God wants. We must get our minds conditioned to do that! He often offers opportunities or directs us to do things we don’t want to do, humanly. We all have to do things we would rather not do; that is good for us! We must have the mindset that whatever God says, we will do. That will bring the most wonderful reward you could possibly receive!’
Near the end of his video, The New Throne of David (29 June 2018), Gerald Flurry says of himself, “Now the law and the scepter is brought together, and some man has to implement the LAW, which is the government of God.”
The Israeli government can prevent PCG from setting up camp at Adullam, but Gerald Flurry is conditioning his followers to be “willing to go any place and do anything God wants.”
Voice in the Wilderness Church of God
Update from Bill Goff, 29 June 2018:
“I want to update you on the orphan Brian (the one we call Ibu.) Brian is the one who has been attending boarding trade school in the town of Ogembo. He has been learning how to weld. Last week his class took a field trip to the City of Kisumu for additional training. A few days after arriving in Kisumu, seven of the students became deathly ill. They were taken to a local clinic and diagnosed with severe case of cholera. None were given any medication though; (the school apparently didn’t want to disperse any funds, or be responsible for any bills); one student died within hours. The other six (including Brian) were put into three ambulances and sent on their way to the city of Kisii (near where the boarding school is, about a three hour drive.) The school then called the parent and guardians of the six, and informed them to meet the ambulances at the hospital in Kisii and pay the transport fee. Kenya Hands of Hope paid half the ambulance bill for all three emergency vehicles, because most of the parents had no money. The students were admitted at the hospital. And finally, after about eight hours of becoming ill, the students were given medication. But sad to say, another one died at the hospital. The other five (including Brian) survived; he is now recuperating quite well back at the orphanage. I hope we realize brethren, how fortunate most of us are. We don’t have such a struggle to survive like so many of our impoverished brethren do. Even now, we have a young church widow struggling for food for her children. She is not rationing her food, like many of our church widows
living in that impoverished country do on a daily basis – she is struggling to find food to ration. We also have a church family in Narok who have been displaced from their home, and in need of help. But currently our funds have been depleted, and we are unable to help them. Two church families in Narok area whose homes were completely washed away have been assisted.
At the orphanage we have been battling typhoid for some time now. We finally have come to find out that the artesian well where we get all of our drinking water has become contaminated from the unprecedented flooding. That water is now being treated.
Please pray for our impoverished brethren, and for the work we are involved in there. We are told in Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” The families that we have been assisting are of the household of faith. Even all of the orphans that we are caring for came to us from various scattered COG groups. We paid no attention to which particular COG group their deceased parents previously attended, that didn’t mean one iota to us. Our focus has been to help orphans and true widows.
Brethren, we have much to be thankful for, and much to pray for. But most of all let us pray “Thy Kingdom Come” – because many around this world are suffering, some horrendously.”
Church of God 7th Day
In the July-August 2018 issue of the Bible Advocate magazine Robert Coulter (p.8-9) recalls a directive by the Ministerial Council on Divorce and Remarriage in 1974, correcting some ministers who had been advising married couples that, if one of the partners had been divorced prior to their marriage, they should separate because the couple was living in adultery.
In the Worldwide Church of God, prior to 1974, this was not a misconception but a rigidly enforced rule.
Robert Coulter writes: “The Church of Christ, later known as the Church of God (Seventh Day), of the 1860s did not have a written position on Christian lifestyles. Apparently she left standards of morality and Christian living up to the Christian community as a whole …
The doctrinal statements of the Stanberry and Salem conferences of the Church of God didn’t address marriage and divorce prior to 1949. But their revised doctrinal statement on marriage of 1949 said, “We believe that any marriage contract entered into between husband and wife at a time prior to the conversion of either party to the marriage, should be recognized as acceptable to the Church if recognized by civil law.”
In spite of that statement, he says, some ministers were advising those who had divorced and remarried to separate. The study by the Ministerial Council removed this misconception.
In the Worldwide Church of God, prior to 1974, a rigidly enforced rule on Divorce and Remarriage broke up many marriages. In May 1974, however, after initially rejecting a review, Herbert Armstrong announced new light on marriage and divorce, ending this harsh rule.
In 1977, at the age of 85, he married a divorcee, Ramona Martin, a 38 year old long time church member.
He spelled out the new official doctrine on divorce and remarriage in the Oct-Nov 1979 issue of the Good News magazine:
“Actually what happened in 1974 was not a CHANGE in the Church’s definition of God’s law, but the ADDITION of a second reason for divorce and remarriage we should have, but did not see before — so now we have the TWO categories…
If a converted man has a wife who is an unbeliever, causing trouble and disrupting the marriage because of the man’s religion (NOTICE IT CAREFULLY), if she is pleased to live with him, he must not divorce her he has NO GROUNDS for divorce and remarriage.
Likewise the woman in God’s Church, if she has an unbelieving husband, and he is willing to live with her despite her religion, she shall not leave him (verse 13).
But if the unbelieving one leaves — cuts off the marriage because of the Church member’s religion — let him or her depart. Now NOTICE THIS! The believing Church member is not given grounds for breaking off the marriage. It is only IF the unbelieving one leaves — severs the marriage relationship — then and only then is the believer (Church member) no longer bound and free to obtain a divorce (verse 15).”
In April 1982 Herbert Armstrong filed for divorce, justifying his action in the May 1982 issue of the Plain Truth magazine with an article about Divorce – A Case History:
“It’s a case of an aged personage who loved a beautiful young woman and proposed marriage. He offered her a considerably increased life-style and many advantages – even to make her the FIRST LADY of all the earth – for this aged personage was GOD. And all the earth was his! I quote from this biblical story because it illustrates human nature and the CAUSE of divorces and broken marriages today …
This aged personage’s wife to be was in the bondage of slavery in Egypt – just as many young brides today are in the bondage of sin. She was promised enjoyable living in a most desired home – the promised land flowing with milk and honey. This national wife promised to be subject to her husband in everything, and to respect him, in the marriage ceremony. Moses officiated at that ceremony. “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Ex. 24:7).
This husband, God, took his wife to her very choice new home, the “glory of all lands” (Ezek. 20:15). But his wife was unfaithful and refused to live with him in peace, for two cannot “walk together, except they be agreed (Amos 3:3).”
Living Church of God
The July-August 2018 issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine is now on-line.
United Church of God
The July-August 2018 issue of the Beyond Today magazine is now online.
Church of God a Worldwide Association
The July-August 2018 edition of Discern Magazine is now online.
Church of the Eternal God
In Standing Watch, 28 June 2018, Norbert Link says that the actions of Donald Trump and the reactions of European leaders are leading to war between the European Union and the USA – not just a trade war, but a real war, the great tribulation.
He offers a free booklet, The Great Tribulation and The Day of The Lord, which states on p.16: “Incredible as it may seem, the United States and Great Britain, as well as other Commonwealth nations, will be overthrown and enslaved by their former ally and friend—the United States of Europe, led by the modern Assyrians.”
(This scenario – the modern Assyrians being Germany – was part of the end-time prophecies of Herbert Armstrong, to which a number of ex-WCG churches hold fast.)
p.55: “… another “Elijah” must come to prepare this world for the second coming of Christ. God has given this role of an end-time Elijah to His end-time Church. There should be no doubt that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, who is considered by many as an apostle and who served as Pastor General of the Church of God until his death in 1986, began to fulfill this role.”
In the Plain Truth magazine, June/July 1934, Mr. Armstrong set out the timeline of end-time events in his article What is Going to Happen:
“These prophecies above considered, then, indicate that we may expect the present world-wide depression, time of trouble and fear of war to CONTINUE until the year 1936! This in spite of the NRA or any man-devised remedies for the present trouble!
And at, or quickly after that time, we may expect to see the heavenly signs of the sun and moon becoming dark, the stars falling — and the heavens rolling back as a scroll, showing the SIGN of the coming of the Son of man IN HEAVEN.”
In the July 1935 issue he declared, in Mussolini Goes To War, “Even as you read this, he is marching to ARMAGEDDON! HERE is the most astounding prophecy of the hour! Heretofore unexplained! Now being startlingly fulfilled! The Bible foretells every step Mussolini will take …
Mussolini shall establish his palace, as capital of the revived Roman empire, at JERUSALEM!”
The Plain Truth magazine was not printed in 1936 or 1937. Publication was re-started in 1938 without any reference to these failed prophecies.
Beverly Kubik writes: “From the end of March into April my husband and I experienced a very profitable trip to Africa visiting South Africa, Malawi and Zambia. We visited many of our humanitarian projects and met with many of our scholarship students. With us we carried 120 LuminAid solar lights to distribute mostly in Malawi where power outages are a regular part of one’s daily life. Many of the friends that we have come to know are not even connected to the local power grid and have no electrical power source.
The solar lights, I am told, are helping our scholarship students with their studies after dark. Daily life is not easy. People have to walk long distances to carry water for the family. Imagine assisting your family to source water for their daily needs and then walking to or enduring long public transport to school. Then trying to keep up with your studies without electricity. Another benefit of the solar lights is that many of them let you recharge a cell phone. When you have no electricity, charging a mobile phone must otherwise be done at a charging station for a fee.
As we approach the dry season in Africa, it is time again to source additional funds for new boreholes. These are wells that are drilled to a depth of 150-200 feet. This source of clean water is invaluable and at this time we have requests for and would like to drill four new boreholes at a cost of $3,500-$5000 per well. If funds are available we would like them to be powered by solar panels.
We appreciate all of you who support our scholarships and many life-providing and improving projects. Parts of both Malawi and Zambia are also requesting aid with food again this year, as many of the subsistence farmers suffered from crop losses due to lack of rain in due season.”
Filius Jere reports: “The burden of household food and economic security in Zambia, and most of the poor countries in Southern Africa for that matter is mostly borne by the womenfolk. By tradition, females are unfortunately relegated to secondary considerations for many things that require expense and money, including education and access to land and property. Because of this, females often have limited opportunities to many things that can enable them to have better livelihoods. Consequently, they are forever struggling to survive and as soon as they reach maturity, or even before, some consider marriage as their only option. But it’s a matter of out of the frying pan into the fire because, in such marriages of convenience, they are often regarded as sources of free labour in the fields and subject to abuse by their men.
In the rural city of Chipata, in eastern Zambia, we conceived a plan to empower its vulnerable but viable women members with dependable means of generating income. The sewing program presented the most feasible approach. For this, seven women were chosen as the first beneficiaries.
The aim was that Chosiwe and Thokozile, who were accomplished tailors, should conduct a crash training program of the other five members, so that the group could immediately take advantage of the high demand for school uniforms at the beginning of the year.
Already, the trainees are able to operate the sewing machines very well and design their own clothing patterns to produce stunning products. More concentration has been put on simple women’s dresses and children’s clothes, including school uniforms for girls and boys.
These same women are fully involved in conservation farming, because this reduces the labour demands and has been proved to increase crop yields. They are likely to be role models for a similar project being launched in Mchinji, Malawi by Brennan Hilgen and his wife Michala.“
Grace Communion International & Worldwide Church of God
Vice President Greg Williams has decided to end the church’s laissez faire attitude toward congregations that want to hold on to the old WCG ways. In a letter to pastors and ministry leaders, 20 June 2018, on Ordering Our Worship, he stated that, “If you are holding your primary worship service on Saturday, that puts you out of step with most of GCI and the rest of the Christian world. Doing so sends a misleading signal about who GCI is. While circumstances may have prevented some GCI congregations from moving to Sunday services, making that change should now be a priority.”
“Wanting to assist you in that work, we have published in this issue an article that addresses worship in GCI congregations. It includes a standard order of services (liturgy) that, though not required, is strongly recommended.”
This liturgy is derived from the 1969 Ordo Lectionum Missae, a three-year lectionary produced by the Roman Catholic Church, following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
“ … change should now be a priority … strongly recommended.”
If strong persuasion doesn’t work, will it be followed by enforcement?
The main website for Great Britain and Ireland continued under the name of the Worldwide Church of God for many years, but has now been replaced by a GCI banner.
90% of the congregations continue to hold services on Saturday, and Autumn “Harvest Festivals” are still held on the traditional dates in two locations.
Confrontation has not worked in the past, as exemplified by the “Civil War” in West Wales in 2011.
“Apparently, civil war broke out when a minister from the UK ‘headquarters’ attended their West Wales meeting place on the First Day of Unleavened Bread, 2011, taking only fully leavened bread, which he openly ate in the presence of all. He also preached effectively, telling them that it was time for them to grow up! I have now received a few reports of what ensued, though, as always in such reports, there are variations. According to one report, the anger almost came to blows being landed, certainly the official WCG ‘minister’ was accused of ‘preaching heresy’.
We are told that the deacon who seems to have led the local rebellion now states that he will lead the West Wales WCG grouping out of the officially “reformed” WCG and will make contact with the ‘Living Church of God’ (Roderick Meredith’s old, diehard Armstrongist group), in order to recover full-blown Armstrongist teachings.”
The remnant of the Llanelli WCG congregation in West Wales now meets on Sunday.
The LCG group meets in the nearby village of Llanfallteg.
The article refers to the Church of God in Wales, a group of people who split from Llanelli WCG in 1995 and set up a UCG congregation, but then became independent, because the UCG was not emphasizing Herbert Armstrong and his status as God’s apostle.
United Church of God
Victor Kubik writes, 21 June 2018:
Ivan Yurishko, a leader among Sabbatarians in western Ukraine, visited the home office last week. I first met him in 1992 in Rokosovo, Ukraine, when we discovered that there were thousands of people keeping the Sabbath and espousing similar doctrinal views about the Passover, Holy Spirit, non-use of the cross, not keeping the Roman holidays, and the state of the dead to name just a few. Many Sabbath-keepers in Ukraine emigrated to the United States over the past 20 years as a consequence of the Helsinki Human Rights Accord adopted in the days of President Jimmy Carter. Under that accord, many small persecuted religious groups were given preferential status to come to the United States. Thousands did and settled mostly in Portland, Oregon. Two of Ivan and Nina’s children have settled there and Ivan was in the United States to visit them.
Over the years we have worked together on various projects through the Ambassador Foundation, when we sent eight Ambassador College students and volunteers for a summer to Ukraine to teach English in 1994. We have worked together on humanitarian projects. For 15 years we supported a street children’s program run by a Sabbatarian pastor.
One area they had resisted doctrinally was the keeping of the Holy Days. Some groups who had tried to do so slipped into Judaism and away from Jesus Christ. On my visits to Ukraine, I would preach about various topics of common understanding, but in the summer of 2006 I spoke about Pentecost, the day that New Testament Church was established. I pointed out that not only was Passover centered around Jesus Christ, but Pentecost was also commanded by Jesus Christ to be observed as the day of the founding of the Church of God. The fall Holy Days point towards Jesus Christ’s return and the establishment of His Kingdom. In 2011 Ivan and his family came to our Feast of Tabernacles in Estonia. Since that time, we have talked about a combined Feast somewhere in Hungary, but this has never materialized. The good news is that his congregation in Khust has adopted the keeping of all the Holy Days. Most Sabbatarians still balk at their observance.
On this visit, Ivan proposed a closer association with the United Church of God as we have with the Sabbath-keepers in Misiones, Argentina, Mizoram, India, and in Angola. One of his sons who has a European Union passport is applying for Ambassador Bible College.
Voice in the Wilderness Church of God
Update from Bill Goff, 16 June 2018:
I am happy to inform you that we reached our fund-raising goal and have purchased the second sewing machine. Now the children will begin learning to sew. This is another huge boost forward for the orphans as they continue learning skills and trades that will enable them to become self-supportive. We have also reimbursed the Sengera House budget we used to purchase the motor bike. Let us praise and thank our Heavenly Father for continuing to bless the work we are involved in here in E. Africa.
We are also happy to inform you that the children living at Sengera House continue to excel in many areas. As you may know, Kenyans are good runners and have achieved gold medals in numerous Olympic Games. One of our young men has demonstrated his athletic skills. Nehemiah came home from school last week and informed me that there was going to be a sports event that afternoon in the City of Kisii, Kenya. He had no previous knowledge of the upcoming event, but wanted to know if he could participate. We told him yes.
Nehemiah arrived just in time to begin the race and little did we know he would win the race. Afterwards, he told me he was extremely tired as he approached the finish line and wanted to give up. But as he heard the cheering from the crowd (Including Government officials who attended) it gave him the extra strength needed to continue on and win the race. What a boost this was for his morale.
Brethren, Let this be a boost to your morale. As members of the body of Christ (the called of the Father) ye also are approaching the finish line, the Kingdom of God. As I see the help you continue to give the many widows and orphans living in that impoverished country, I keep hearing “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord” … “I was hungry and ye gave me meat, thirsty and ye gave me drink, naked and yet clothed me.”
The motor bike is a big help at the orphanage. Not only is it transporting the boys to High School but is also easing the purchasing of supplies from the nearby villages of Sengera and Ogembo.
Gloria Sexton writes:
While Mr. Earl Roemer and Mr. David Bensinger were in Jawk Taing for Passover and Unleavened Bread, they reported: “God has built a Church here that is probably 60% or 70% under the age of 35 providing the platform for growth. But these young people need God to open doors. Advanced educational opportunities are challenging as are job and business opportunities. First, it is a developing nation that is just now starting to have some semblance of peace. And second, some of the educational opportunities are either poor, require study on the Sabbath, and/or are expensive. This is why the Legacy Institute education has been a priceless gift for many who are now young adults … This is a matter to pray about. If God starts opening those doors, the Church will become self-sufficient and the reach of these young people into the society of Myanmar could be powerful.”
I also quote Josh Raudenbush, who was there to help teach at their Youth Program: “The quality of the students helped make that experience great. They wanted to learn, and most of them actively participated throughout the classes I taught.”
If any of you would like to follow in Josh’s footsteps and help out with our bi-yearly Legacy Youth Program, please let us know if this would be a possibility for you. We are planning to have the next one during the December/January break. (This is also a time when students are not in school for ten or more days.) Please write us at: email@example.com.
We continue to be so very grateful to our Tulsa Church of God brethren, who provide for our young people in supplies and other needed items throughout the year. They also write letters to each other—though Leon and I are not sure that all the letters are arriving as we would like.
If you would like to come to Taungoo and Jawk Taing for the Feast of Tabernacles, we still have a few openings. There is a new hotel – Pathi Hotel in Taungoo – that is just a couple of years old and the staff is very kind and helpful. The room rate has been discounted again to 35,000 Kyats ($26), for one or two people. Included are breakfast, WiFi, mini bar, air conditioning, private bathroom with hot water, T.V., hairdryer, and towels. Please book through Legacy for the above-mentioned rate by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will e-mail you your booking confirmation. Please pay the hotel at the end of your stay.
We will have no “package” available, though we will have feast activities. You will be responsible for payment should you participate in any of the activities. We will let you know activity amounts, as we find out the number of guests that are interested.
Logistically, you will fly to and from Yangon and stay at a hotel of your choice. (Best Western in China Town worked very well for Mr. Earl Roemer and Mr. David Bensinger, and you can book it on-line.)
You will need to get a “Myanmar Tourist Visa” online. The Burmese Embassy will want a copy of your booking reservations and dates of travel. The purpose for your visit will be as a “tourist.”
From Yangon, you can make your own travel arrangements to take a bus to Taungoo or make other arrangements of your choice. More details will be forthcoming.
Living Church of God
In the weekly update for 31 May 2018 is an article by Douglas Winnail on ‘The Value of Education’. He was a prime mover in the launch of LCG’s Living University in 2007, which was closed down by LCG in May 2018.
Douglas Winnail’s article is an edited copy of an article he wrote in May 2017.
He now says that a “worldly education” is no longer to be regarded as “ungodly, a matter of vanity and/or a waste of time.”
One might wonder why he has omitted “training in a trade” to provide “support for the Work of the Church.” Is he losing confidence in the “work” that LCG is presently doing?
|The Value of Education : May 2018
Over the years, some have concluded that worldly education is of little value for true Christians. Since Satan is the god of this age, and Christians are to come out of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4; 6:14–18), some have assumed that getting an education in this world is ungodly, a matter of vanity and/or a waste of time. Such ideas overlook the fact that God used individuals who were schooled in this world in powerful ways. Moses was raised as a prince in Egypt and was “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Solomon was knowledgeable in many fields—including botany, zoology, and human relations—and he collected wise sayings in the book of Proverbs (1 Kings 4:32–34). Daniel was one of a group of intelligent young Jewish captives who were educated in Babylon before they were used by God (Daniel 1:3–4). Paul studied at the feet of Gamaliel, the leading rabbi of his day, before being used by God to write 14 books in the New Testament. Numerous studies show that more education can result in higher incomes that can enable Christians to provide better for their families. In today’s world, in pursuing an education, we must also be alert to the social, moral and intellectual pitfalls that are also part of academic environments. Christians who understand the Truth of God and the Plan of God should wisely take advantage of the opportunities to gain an education—whether academic or vocational—that will help them prepare to serve others now and in the Kingdom of God.
|The Value of Education : May 2017
Over the years, some have concluded that getting an education is of little value to Christians. Since Satan is the god of this world, and Christians are commanded to come out of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4; 6:14-18), some have assumed that getting an education in this world is ungodly and/or a waste of time. Such ideas overlook how God has used individuals who were schooled in this world. Moses was raised as a prince in Egypt and was “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Solomon was knowledgeable in many areas (1 Kings 4:32-34), and he collected wise sayings in the book of Proverbs. Daniel was one of several intelligent young Jewish captives who were educated in Babylon “in the language and literature of the Chaldeans” before they were used by God (Daniel 1:3-4). Paul studied at the feet of Gamaliel, the leading rabbi of his day (Acts 5:34-39; 22:3), before being used by God to write 14 books in the New Testament. Numerous studies show that more education and training in a trade result in larger incomes, and this enables Christians to provide better for their families and support for the Work of the Church. Christians who understand the Truth of God and the Plan of God should take advantage of the opportunities to gain an education and marketable skills that will help them prepare to serve others now and in the Kingdom of God. This is one of the reasons why we developed Living University—to help God’s people prepare to lead and teach in Tomorrow’s World.
United Church of God
UCG has issued an open survey to explore the level of interest in a possible 2019 Festival of Tabernacles site on a cruise ship.
Church of God a Worldwide Association
The June 2018 issue of One Accord is now on-line.
President Jim Franks writes about the lack of basic Christianity of many leading ministers who graduated from Ambassador College.
“I enjoyed my four years at Ambassador College, and I learned a lot. But I also realized that there is more to developing leaders than attending four years of college. Now that we have been 20-plus years without a four-year college, what have we learned about leadership development? I believe we have learned a lot.
One thing we have learned is that leadership without conversion is of little value.
Over the years we have seen many examples of outstanding leaders and great speakers who were lacking in this most basic principle of Christianity. Our current programs for leadership development focus on this core principle.
While Ambassador College had as its motto the recapturing of true values and laid claim to being a character-building institution, it could only do so much.”
What the WCG could have done, as soon as these men’s lack of Christian character became evident, was to remove them immediately from the ministry.
The reason for the COGWA leaders leaving UCG (secondary to ‘Who should be in charge’) seemed to be that they wanted to adhere firmly to the doctrines and policies of Herbert Armstrong. This would include prospective members being interviewed (often more than once) before being allowed to attend services.
So why is COGWA now copying the UCG in introducing a standardized website for each congregation, stating location and times of services, and welcoming people to visit?
COGWA has been a great success financially, increasing its income annually. Its revenue for January-April 2018 was 19% more than the same period last year. Its expenditure is relatively low, because its public outreach is limited to the internet. No money is spent on buying time on TV and radio stations or printing magazines to spread its message to the general public.
The largest expense has been the purchase – for cash – of land in Texas, on which it is building a new HQ property more than double the size of its rented office, which it has quickly outgrown.
The substantial growth in revenue and burgeoning administration have not, however, been reflected in increasing numbers attending services.
So COGWA has decided to be more welcoming – but it insists on doctrinal unity, so how will it cope with newcomers who won’t accept all of the tenets of ‘Armstrongism’? Or will COGWA be mainly targeting disaffected members of similar ex-WCG churches, such as the Living Church of God?
Jim Franks spent the Pentecost weekend in North Carolina, attending services on both days, and driving more than 800 miles to hold discussions with all the elders in the four congregations there.
On In Accord, 24 May 2018, he talked about unity, quoting Acts 4:32, and commenting:
“Striving for unity is always something we do. We do it because we want to be more effective in preaching the gospel to the world and also caring for the brethren.
But you know, we live in a time 2018 when there is a lot of cynicism. I see it and I see the reasons why. We can have an organization that will make a claim, “We’re unified now.” Well sometimes the loud cries of unity are only a mask to cover up division. We’ve seen that as well, and it’s always disappointing, and sometimes disillusioning.”
Seventh Day Adventist
Adventist Review 25 May 2018 (includes short video)
Seventh-day Adventist presence and input were significant at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle on 19 May 2018, thanks to the work of arranger Mark De Lisser and soloist Paul Lee.
De Lisser, an Adventist musician from Great Britain, arranged the song ‘Stand By Me’, sung by The Kingdom Gospel Choir during the ceremony. It is estimated that 1.9 billion people followed the ceremony on TV or online around the world.
Adventist Today, 20 May 2018
Paul Lee, an Adventist who is often linked to the award-winning London Adventist Chorale, was the featured soloist during the Royal Wedding performance of Stand By Me on Saturday. Lee performed as part of The Kingdom Choir in front of Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and about 600 guests at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. Lee is music coordinator as well as assistant to the president of the South England Conference.
Time.com reported that the 1961 blues ballad Stand By Me was originally performed by American singer-songwriter Ben E. King, and that, according to music licensing company BMI, it went on the become the fourth most recorded song of the 20th century.
Although it is a hit at weddings, “Stand By Me” also has a political message linked closely to America’s civil rights movement when, according to Time, it was “used as a rallying cry for solidarity amongst people of color.”
Markle is biracial with a mother who is black and a white father. Her marriage to Prince Harry is widely seen as a sign of a more inclusive future for Britain’s Royal Family.
According to the Adventist denomination’s Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, there are 37,519 Adventists in Britain and there are 288 churches.
Church of God 7th Day (Salem)
The June 2018 issue of the Advocate of Truth is now online.
United Church of God
The Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report – May 8-10 – included the following:
“Rex Sexton led the discussion of the cost analysis of the 22 Public Appearance Campaigns.
The cost-per-response for the PACs came to about $420 per new attendee.
Mr. Sexton said we have tried other ways to preach the gospel and asked if we are making the best use of our funds.
Mr. Sexton mentioned how popular TED Talks are right now. Maybe a 15-minute Beyond Today presentation could be tried to see how effective it could be.
The Doctrine Committee and its sub-committees completed review of the paper titled “The God of the Old Testament” submitted by Mark Mickelson. The conclusion reached by the Doctrine Committee was that God the Father and the Word were and are both very active in all of Scripture. The paper did not receive support to move forward.”
Continuing Church of God
Following the apparent success of his first animated film on First Date: Worldly v Christian (500+ views on YouTube, 16 likes 0 dislikes), Bob Thiel has produced a longer one on Big Bang: Nothing or Creator. Unfortunately, the woman playing the student regularly stumbles over her lines.
Voice in the Wilderness Church of God
Update from Bill Goff, May 12 [edited] [read full report, with pictures]
We are told “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV).
Here in Kenya, we are striving to do just that, and to teach the children the same, as we patiently await the return of our Lord and Savior.
I can remember quite well how the orphanage in Sengera began. Two of the young orphaned boys were sleeping on the kitchen floor of the church pastor. He had already taken in a number of orphaned children and had no other space left for them to sleep. They had no mattress, and no blanket, making it quite easy to become ill lying on the cold and damp dirt floor. It is hard for many of us to comprehend the poverty here, there is so much that we take for granted.
In Sengera House alone we now have 18 precious children living in peace and safety. All are in school, all are clothed, all are well fed, and are very happy, content and loved.
Naomi is a perfect example of how hard working these children are. She just walked back from the river carrying 20 liters of drinking water on her head.
The boys also continue involvement in all the construction at the camp. The plastering of the new security wall is now totally complete.
We continue to help numerous “true” widows from various remote church groups. In Narok, we assisted two families whose houses were totally washed away from the recent Kenya flooding. Also, one widow in Nakuru had her house totally flooded. She was moved into an evacuation tent by the local government, but not given any bedding. So, we funded her to purchase a mattress and blanket. We also continue to help other church widows, including one living at the Maasai border and one in Ogembo. The family who was evicted from the property, that they unknowingly purchased from a con, are living in rough conditions trying to find a new place to live. We have helped them the best we can with some food.
We have also been continuing to fund traveling to visit new groups who have recently come into the faith. Charles Momoro is one of the pastors here who has been traveling to the border group each Sabbath for teachings. (They are the group where 20 were recently baptized.)
Counting 50 Days to Pentecost
In 1974 Herbert Armstrong was persuaded to change the day of Pentecost from Monday to Sunday. He had formerly determined that Monday was the correct day, because:
“In ENGLISH, 50 days FROM a Sunday can be counted NO OTHER WAY than that ONE day FROM Sunday is Monday, and 50 days FROM Sunday always falls on a Monday.”
If, as Leviticus 23:15-16 states, the count begins and ends on a Sunday – wave sheaf Sunday is the 1st day, and the Sunday of the 7th week is the 50th day. This is known as inclusive counting, which is used in almost all the world – but not in the USA .
Charles Dorothy mailed to all ministers “a packet of Pentecost material representing some of the combined labors of our doctrinal team, especially Mr. Raymond McNair, Dr. Robert Kuhn and myself – as well as various other researchers, notably Mr. Lester Grabbe and Mr. Lawson Briggs.”
WCG’s doctrinal team set out various technical grammatical arguments to show that counting in the Hebrew text is inclusive. Some refused to accept these arguments. The Bethel Church of God and Church of God the Eternal continue to observe Pentecost on Monday.
The fact is that in biblical times everyone counted inclusively. We are all familiar with numbers in Latin: M=1000, C=100, L=50, X=10 etc., but Greek and Hebrew also used letters to denote numbers. There was no letter in these languages to represent ‘0’, as counting was inclusive.
The inclusive counting of days in Hebrew is demonstrated most clearly in 1 Samuel 20.
DAY 1 (daytime) v.18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon; and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 And when you have stayed three days, go down quickly and come to the place where you hid on the day of the deed.”
DAY 2 (evening) v.24 … And when the New Moon had come, the king sat down to eat the feast. 25 … but David’s place was empty. 26 Nevertheless Saul did not say anything that day …
DAY 3 (evening) v.27 And it happened the next day, the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to eat, either yesterday or today?” … 30 Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan … 33 Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David.
DAY 3 (morning) v.35 And so it was, in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David.
The time appointed was three days, but it would be two days using exclusive counting.
Inclusive counting in the Greek text is clearly shown in Acts 10.
DAY 1 v.1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment … 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” … 5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.
DAY 2 v.9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray 21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius … 22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” 23 Then he invited them in and lodged them.
DAY 3 On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
DAY 4 v.24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them … 30 So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter.”
Four days ago – but it would be three days using exclusive counting.
Have you ever wondered why, when counting years from BC to AD, you have to remember to add one year, because there’s no year 0?
AD – “Anno Domini” – counting years from the birth of Christ – was devised by a Catholic monk Dionysius Exiguus in 525AD. The English monk and historian Bede used AD dating in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, completed in 731, and referred to years before AD in Latin, which became known simply as “Before Christ” – BC.
Counting was still at this time always inclusive – because the number zero had not yet been invented!
In the Liber Abaci (1202), the Italian mathematician Fibonacci introduced the western world to the Modus Indorum (method of the Indians) – the Hindu-Arabic numeric system, 0-9. He demonstrated the practical use and value of these numerals in banking and accounting, converting weights and measures, and various other applications.
There was now a symbol representing a transition between plus and minus values, a “break-even” point between profit and loss. He likened this symbol to a zephyr (west wind) – zefiro in Italian, which was then contracted to zero.
This new method of exclusive counting was popular in business and science, but only began to have a wide impact with the advent of the industrial revolution, when it quickly became the standard way of counting, so that today many people are unaware that we ever counted any differently.
Leon and I have previously written in the Legacy letter about the miracle blessing of Earl Roemer and David Bensinger coming to Myanmar to handle Passover and Unleavened Bread services, since Leon was not able to do so after his stroke in November.
Here is David Bensinger’s report:
“Our trip to Chiang Mai and Jawk Tiang was a highlight of the Spring Holy Days. John 6:44 seemed to pop into my mind daily. Christ gave us the mission to preach the gospel and feed the flock. But John 6:44 reminds us that God the Father does the calling, He hand picks people at the right time, right place and in the right way, and turns them over to Christ for development (Heb 5:9 and 12:2). He has picked some wonderful people in Myanmar.
Departing Chiang Mai, we connected in Bangkok and arrived in Yangon. The next morning, we enjoyed the drive to Taungoo with MyoZaw (deacon) and TooMar, Seng Mai, and Zin. I was inspired learning about MyoZaw’s and TooMar’s background coming from Buddhism and the Anglican Church influences respectively; along with their dedication and hopes for the Church. Seng Mai provided translation and helpful insights into Myanmar’s society and culture, and the influences affecting the Church.
Each day we‘d make the 30 minute drive out to the camp area, park alongside the road, then walk the quarter mile in to JawkTiang. We got to know the neighbors along the path pretty well over almost two weeks and were daily greeted with “hellos” and “good mornings”. They all know about the Church camp and seem to have good respect for what the members are doing there. Everyone was friendly and we’d even see some of them show up at services on occasion.
Seng Aung (pastor) and Seng Pan are truly dedicated people in service to the Church in Jawk Tiang. Taking children in from surrounding areas, helping coordinate cooking for 40 to 60 people daily, teaching God’s way through messages as well as example, providing a basic education to many young people, and providing support and guidance to many children, teens, young adults and elderly—they are examples to follow.
Earl conducted the Passover with Seng Aung and spoke on the first Holy Day. The rest of the Feast Earl, Seng Aung, Josh and I shared the speaking schedule. Services started at 9am before the heat of the day. The highlight, of course, was spending time with the brethren, young and old, learning about their individual stories, challenges, and hopes for the future. They have come out of various regional tribes and enjoy working together—God’s spirit in action for sure. An observation on which to end. God has built a Church here that is probably 60% or 70% under the age of 35 providing the platform for growth. But these young people need God to open doors. Advanced educational opportunities are challenging, as are job and business opportunities. First, it is a developing nation that is just now starting to have some semblance of peace. And second, some of the educational opportunities are either poor, require study on the Sabbath and/or are expensive. This is why the Legacy Institute education has been a priceless gift for many who are now young adults. But even with an education, most jobs require Sabbath work, making it difficult for the young adults. And starting businesses requires capital and further business education. This is a matter to pray about. If God starts opening those doors, the Church will become self-sufficient and the reach of these young people into the society of Myanmar could be powerful.”
LEGACY YOUTH PROGRAM IN JAWKTAING, MYANMAR WITH JOSH RAUDENBUSH
Please read Josh’s own words below about his sacrifice and service to our youth and brethren in Jawk Taing. I say sacrifice, because this took a lot of time off from work, hours of travel, catching up back home, and the energy to jump in and serve as he did. We all thank him so very much!
“I can safely say that one of the most memorable experiences of my life occurred just a few weeks ago, about 9,000 miles away from my own home, give or take 1,000. From March 15th through April 2nd, I served at the youth program and got to spend the first half of the days of Unleavened Bread with the brethren in Jawk Taing.
Teaching was both more fun and more rewarding than I thought it would be. The quality of the students helped make that experience great. They wanted to learn, and most of them actively participated throughout the classes I taught. Occasionally, if I said something that may have not been understood by all of them, some of the Legacy grad students would translate for the younger ones. For my English class, a few stayed after class to try and get me to teach them the minimal Spanish I know. For my Daniel class, Aj Mopalel would translate and then, when he had to go to Yangon, Aj Seng Aung took over and did the translating. I would review the previous day’s material in the form of a quiz, and the students did well on those quizzes.
“This trip would not have been possible for me if not for the help from donors, from Aj Gloria and Leon helping with all the hotel costs and other trip logistics, and also from Aj Amanda helping me get started with the whole process and setting up the gofundme fundraiser. I was honored to be the first person from the U.S. to help with the youth program since it moved to Myanmar. I was also honored to make a new group of friends with whom I got to spend some quality time. I hope to make it back sometime in the next few years!”
If any of you would like to follow in Josh’s footsteps and help out with our bi-yearly Legacy Youth Program, please let us know if this would be a possibility for you. We are planning to have the next one during the December/January break. (This is also a time when students are not in school for ten or more days.) Please write us at: email@example.com.
United Church of God
Among the issues to be voted on at the General Conference of Elders annual meeting, May 4-7, was the selection of 4 elders to serve 3-year terms on the 12-member, Council of Elders.
Ballot Results: Council of Elders seats:
- Anthony Wasilkoff, international
- Scott Ashley
- Robert Dick
- Len Martin
- Approve the 2018-2019 Strategic Plan — Approved, 238 for; 12 against
- Approve the 2018-2019 Operation Plan — Approved, 231 for; 19 against
- Approve the 2018-2019 Budget — Approved, 228 for; 23 against
- Approve adding Rule 5 Asset Protection to the Rules of Association — Approved, 224 for; 19 against
(This amendment assures that building and land assets are held in the name of UCG IA or an equivalent international associated body.)
- Approve Procedure for Amending the Fundamental Beliefs — Approved, 192 for; 42 against
- Approve amendment to Bylaw 8.4.1 Number of Council Members — Approved, 226 for; 14 against
(This amendment assures that, when a Council member is elected to the Council they retain their domestic or international status through the duration of their term, regardless of relocation or adjustment of duties.)
Living Church of God
Living Education, which has replaced Living University, will begin its first semester on August 15th. There are just 14 residential places, but only 8 students have been enrolled so far.
There were many part-time, but only 5 full-time, staff at Living University:-
Michael Germano, Scott Winnail, Kenneth Frankl, Peter Nathan and Douglas Lindly.
The teaching staff at Living Education will be Jonathan McNair (brought in to replace Michael Germano), Scott Winnail and Kenneth Frankl.
Peter Nathan is returning to the UK, where he will become Regional Director for the whole of Europe and Africa.
Douglas Lindly will continue as Church Librarian, which will now be known as the “Roderick C. Meredith Memorial Library.”
Michael Germano is an ordained elder, but only joined LCG when he was offered the presidency of Living University, so what he will be paid for now is uncertain.
The May-June 2018 issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine is now on-line. This issue contains part 8 of Roderick Meredith’s The Plain Truth about the Protestant Reformation.
Gerald Weston originally claimed that this is a “brand-new series”, but he now admits that Roderick Meredith “published his research more than 60 years ago.”
He continues: “There is one final chapter remaining, but it is far too large for us to include as a magazine installment here in the pages of Tomorrow’s World magazine. However, we are delighted to announce that we plan to make the entire collection of these articles—including the last chapter—available as a single collection, free for all who request it! The work is titled The Plain Truth About the Protestant Reformation,to be published October 1, 2018!”
If it were far too large to include as one installment, surely the simple and obvious solution would be to publish what remains in two installments?
Furthermore, his explanation that it is far too large is untrue.
The thesis totals 85 pages (excluding the preface, table contents and bibliography).
What now remains to be published begins with the sub-heading in the final chapter (XI), Protestant Contradictions, near the foot of p.81, and ends halfway down p.90. It is therefore of average length – roughly one-ninth of the total – and so it could be published in its entirety as part 9 in the next issue of the magazine.
Gerald Weston wrote on April 12th 2018:
“Dr. Meredith’s article series on the Protestant Reformation is being put together in booklet form. We believe this is an important statement by Dr. Meredith and the Church regarding Christianity, showing the difference between the true Christianity of Christ and the Apostles and the counterfeit Christianity of Revelation 17.”
The editorial of the March-April 2017 issue stated:
“Roderick C. Meredith, the Editor in Chief of the Tomorrow’s World Magazine and Presiding Evangelist of the Living Church of God, is uniquely qualified to write this series. His ministry spans almost 65 years, from the earliest years of Herbert W. Armstrong’s worldwide work to today’s multi-media continuation of that Work of reaching the world with the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God. Dr. Meredith has long been an expert concerning the history and significance of the Protestant Reformation, and this series collects his research on this highly misunderstood subject. It will explain the truth about the Reformation—a truth that will make you see the last 500 years of the religion called Christianity in an astonishingly different light.
We hope you will enjoy this brand-new series!”
Gerald Weston and his editorial staff know that Roderick Meredith did not collect “his research on this highly misunderstood subject” during “his ministry (spanning) almost 65 years.”
He wrote The Plain Truth about the Protestant Reformation in 1956, when he was a student at Ambassador College. His thesis was written in ‘Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Masters of Arts in Theology’.
The first article in this “brand-new series” comprises chapters1-3 of this thesis. It is almost word for word, with some slight (or should that be ‘sleight’?) amendments by the editors, e.g. “thesis” changed to “series”; “the following chapters” to “this series of articles”; and “the present work” to “this series”.
United Church of God
Chris Rowland reports that, “There have been several changes to the oversight of international areas over the past year. John Elliott has officially passed his role as senior pastor for East Africa to Monte Knudson, an elder who serves the congregation in Phoenix, Arizona. Mark Mickelson passed English-speaking West Africa to Paul Moody, pastor of congregations in Washington and Idaho. Earl Roemer has passed the Philippines to David Dobson, pastor of congregations in Alabama and Tennessee.
On Feb. 27, 2018, two Canadian elders were recredentialed by the United Church of God. Ken Parker and Bob Trotter serve in the Barrie, Ontario, congregation.” (This was an independent congregation that has now joined UCG.)
Victor Kubik writes: “My recent (March 19-April 17) journey to south-central Africa was highlighted by ribbon cutting and the dedication of four church buildings. Two were in Malawi (Blantyre and Lilongwe) and two in Zambia (Mufulira and Mufumbwe).
These church-owned buildings provide a consistent home for our weekly Sabbath services. Two will serve as festival sites as well as a venue for youth camp and other events such as training seminars. Financing was provided by international subsidies, Good Works, LifeNets and local tithes and offerings. Much of the labor was donated by our brethren.
Each of these buildings has a unique history of planning and construction. We first assessed need, location to our brethren’s homes and availability of transport. Most of our brethren must use public transportation to come to services. The outcome has been most encouraging, as the buildings provide a place for worship and a venue for church activities. Since the locations are in high-density population areas, the buildings are noticed and become a notable part of our church identity where people can find literature about our beliefs and accessibility to our church leaders. This has been most encouraging to all of us!
The building in Lilongwe, Malawi, was part of a broader LifeNets project that includes a line of store fronts called the LifeNets Business Center. It includes an Internet café, a grocery and a beauty salon. These employ a number of our brethren.
In Mufumbwe, most of the people are within walking distance of the church. A valuable borehole for drinking water and irrigation was donated by another Sabbath-keeping church in Portland, Oregon. Before the hall was built, the congregation met “under the mango tree” for several years at the orphanage run by a member, Joseph Kapatula.
Hopefully, next year there will be one more building to dedicate in Manyinga, Zamiba, about 60 miles west of Mufumbwe.
Christian Biblical Church of God
There is a new unauthorized website http://www.cbcgedinburghscotland.co.uk/, which states:
“NB we are currently carrying on the day to day running of members of Christian Biblical Church of God situated in the UK and Republic of Ireland.“
The home page also states, “You may choose to visit cbcg.org. We at cbcgedinburgh.co.uk are not responsible for their content or any sites they operate or provide links to nor do we give our complete endorsement, you must be your own judge.
cbcgedinburgh.co.uk accept no liability arising out of your usage of our Website or any cbg.org or linked Websites. There will be a FOT Site in Scotland 2018 spaces are limited so places will be allocated initially on a first come basis so apply now!
When our Website is running, only persons who are at least 17yrs years of age are invited to use it !!!”
The CBCG website has been re-titled the Truth of God – Restoring Original Christianity, and you should indeed be your own judge of a church making such a bold claim – and also be wary of any church website that will accept no liability arising out of your usage of it, and only persons who are at least 17 years of age are invited to use it.
The official UK website is http://cbcg.org.uk/index.html. It does not contain any UK content, as there is currently no office manager in the UK, and no UK congregations. Subscribers to CBCG’s material are receiving their regular mailings from Australia.
Fred Coulter wrote to UK subscribers on 27th February 2018 that, when the previous office manager resigned, he “mistakenly passed on office material and funds on to Mr. David Sheridan … has since requested that Mr. David Sheridan return such funds and material, to date he has not done so.
So now I am writing to inform you that I have appointed Mr. Frans Peeters, our elder, to look after our office duties … Mr. Peeters is based in the Netherlands, and … he will also forward you details regarding the arrangements for this year’s Feast of Tabernacles.
I will again clarify the fact that Mr. David Sheridan has not been appointed office manager, nor is he to act in any way on behalf of the CBCG UK, nor is he authorized to either copy or distribute any CBCG material.”
We do not intend to list David Sheridan’s FOT Site in Scotland. The CBCG site in Montana is listed, and information on all the others is expected in June.
If you are keen to visit Scotland for FOT 2018, the two sites listed are sponsored by long established independent groups.
Church of God 7th Day
In the May-June 2018 issue of the Bible Advocate magazine, the development of Herbert Armstrong’s theological outlook can be discerned from Robert Coulter’s ‘Looking Back’ article, pp.8-9:
“In 1915, Andrew N. Dugger, treasurer of the General Conference, resurrected a resolution that the General Conference had adopted in 1891. It recognized the “tithing system,” not the “law of tithing,” to be its main source of funding. Throughout the 1920s, his implementation of the tithing system resulted in a great increase in the Conference’s tithe receipts and unprecedented growth in the Church’s membership.
However, by the 1930s the tithing system and the distinction between clean and unclean meats were being taught as an obligation of law in some quarters of the Church. The Church’s revision of her doctrinal statement, What the Church of God Believes, And Why in 1949, made them an obligation of the law.
But by the 1970s, the Church of God’s theology was undergoing a dramatic change from her legalisms. It became Christ centered and grace based …“
Robert Coulter wrote, in the March-April 2018 issue, that formerly, “the Church of God placed greater emphasis on works in her doctrine of salvation than on than on the grace of God. However, by the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Church’s laity and ministry began to understand that salvation is received by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. In recognition of this, the North American Ministerial Council of 1986 … adopted a Statement of Consensus, which acknowledged God’s grace but retained a works ethic …
However, as the Church’s understanding of God’s grace in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ became clearer, the North American Ministerial Council of 2006 adopted a doctrinal statement recognizing that salvation is by God’s grace alone.”
Herbert Armstrong summarily dismissed those in the 1970s seeking any changes, but within a decade after his death in January 1986, there were radical changes in the Worldwide Church of God – not just to “salvation by God’s grace alone” – but the abolition of all “Old Testament Law”, culminating in 2009 with the renaming of the church as Grace Communion International.
United Church of God
The May-June 2018 issue of the Beyond Today magazine focuses on Israel.
In “Another Temple Mount Battle – Where Was It Located?” (pp.22-26), Scott Ashley responds to “old arguments re-emerging as to where the Jerusalem temples actually existed.”
These “old arguments” surely relate to Ernest Martin, who worked with archaeologist Benjamin Mazar (1969-1973), who was sponsored by WCG’s Ambassador College. Scott Ashley refers both to him and his grand-daughter, Eilat Mazar, who is currently being sponsored by the Philadelphia Church of God.
If the “Temple Mount” is the correct location, a miraculous event will be needed to permit the Jews to build the third temple there.
If the “Temple Mount” is not the correct location, a miraculous event will be needed to convince the Jews to build the third temple elsewhere.
Voice in the Wilderness Church of God
Update from Bill Goff, April 21:
“Last week we were contacted by a church group in Canada. They were asking if we had any information concerning a church organization in Bungoma, Kenya, that they have been supporting the past few years. We offered to travel to Bungoma (located on the Uganda border) to investigate for them. Nehemiah and I traveled there on Thursday, and our trip was a success. We found the church group to be totally legitimate and caring for quite a number of orphans.
Over the past few years we have investigated quite a number of “churches” here in Kenya that numerous churches of God in the States had been supporting financially. The majority of them turned out to be “cons”.
So, we thank our Heavenly Father for enabling us to work together and help one another whenever possible. We may be of different administrations, but there are no barriers between us, because we are of the same mind and same spirit. And much can be accomplished when we work together in unity and strive for humility. Praise God for that!
This is also a busy day today. We are having combined Sabbath services in Ikenye. There will also be a number of baptisms. (There are 20 being baptized, most are from the border group next to the Maasai tribe). We have been counseling with them for some time now.”
Church of God the Eternal
In 1974 Herbert Armstrong was persuaded by some leading ministers to change the day of Pentecost from Monday to Sunday – and also considerably loosen WCG’s draconian divorce and re-marriage doctrine. As a result, Raymond Cole formed the COGTE in 1975.
A former member wrote the following to Exit & Support Network, April 17/18th:
“The lead minister is Jon W. Brisby (age 55). He has some wild ideas. A married couple came to the group from LCG a few years ago. They had been married for about 18 years. Brisby soon found out that the man had been married briefly to someone else when he was a really young man. They divorced and his ex married someone else. Anyway, this married couple of 18 plus years were instructed to split up and live separately but not get divorced. Jon Brisby told him that if his ex wife happens to die then and only then can he and his current wife live as a couple again. The couple have remodeled their home and made it into a duplex. They each live in one of the side by side units. They are allowed to go back and forth to each other’s apartment for meal times but not allowed to sleep, shower or linger at each other’s place. At the Feast of Tabernacles and Pentecost they were not permitted to sit together for services. This couple is in their 50’s also.
There is another man, a single man around age 60. This man was also married but years ago his wife left him and married a Seventh Day Adventist. Brisby told him he must never remarry. This man said God would not allow him to marry unless his ex died. Brisby stays in total control of the dating and marriage relationships in the group. He comes off as very intensely and genuinely kind, but if he feels you cross him, then he gets an attitude and can be very arrogant.”
(Two churches with similar names – Church of the Eternal God and Eternal Church of God – have no connection with the COGTE.)
Philadelphia Church of God
The first issue of PCG News in 2018 is a tour of the various departments and activities at HQ.
“The Philadelphia Church of God has dozens of congregations scattered around the world. About 70% of these are without a minister on any given Sabbath, but all are supplied with recordings of Bible studies, sermonettes, announcements, special music and sermons, week after week.”
These recordings are now encrypted when sent to congregations and, after playing, are automatically deleted.
“In 2017, the field audio department purchased 151 mp3 players in bulk at a discount. Tauer and Information Services manager Patrick Hogan developed and installed a secure application on them for playing PCG recordings, and the units were distributed to all field congregations over the course of the year. (Regional offices purchased and distributed the devices for their respective congregations.)
The department uploads encrypted messages to the players, which are brought to services by contact people who have been assigned by regional directors. The devices plug directly into sound systems and play the recordings. The following week, old audio is automatically deleted and new audio becomes available.”
“The Church was hit with a massive, unexpected and unpayable expense in the summer of 2016: $70,000. The software provider for one of the Church’s most significant and important pieces of software informed comptroller Jason Hensley that it was phasing out the system used by the Church and was requiring its clients to upgrade to a new version. The cost to upgrade was many times more than what the Church had been paying … Finally, in February 2017, the firm offered the Church its upgraded software for approximately 7% of the original price, which the department gratefully accepted.”
A massive, unexpected and unpayable expense? Yet at the same time Gerald Flurry was considering the purchase of a personal jet, the price of which, according to the Sherpa Report, would be at least $14 million, with annual costs (excluding depreciation) of $2.5 million.
Church Politics and Fake News
In Start Our Sabbath #52 on April 6th, Wes White discussed the politics of Billy Graham and Seventh Day Churches (starting at 49 minutes). This section included the following:
“Where are we now in the Sabbath-keeping community on the issue of political involvement?
Well, to me, when I see what was happening in CG7 and SDA in the last half of the 20th century, I’m reminded of the history of England where they had a few fairly mild revolutions where they would go thru some changes – but they weren’t seismic revolutions where all of society got turned upside down. Just like England, SDA and CG7 were able to maintain a lot of stability between the 1860s to the present. And, just like England, the Christian fundamentalists were also able to maintain their stability after Graham encouraged them to get involved in politics. This change was somewhat revolutionary, but in the end, it was no big deal.
Again, that’s CG7 and SDA and the Christian fundamentalists. Pretty mild stuff.
But it was totally different in the WCG. Totally different. Because… in the 1990s, the WCG went thru a major, major seismic revolution that affected everybody in that church organization. Everybody. No exceptions. It was a major upheaval.
The WCG was just like France … in that it did NOT have the benefit of experiencing a multitude of mini-revolutions over a long period of time. Instead, in the WCG, there was a ton of built-up frustration and animosity. And when their circa 1990 revolution occurred, it blew up like Mt Vesuvius. Institutions were overturned as a lot of the members went off the deep end. In many ways, the religious environment became its own version of a reign of terror.
And within that revolution was the issue of participating in the world’s politics. As a result of this single, traumatic revolution that released so much anger and animosity, today we have some major, major problems within some of the spin-offs of the old WCG.
And I know my assessment of this situation is going to annoy a lot of folks. I’m not deliberately trying to be provocative. I’m just trying to see if we can better understand why some of us are the way we are. Because right now, we’ve got a lot of stuff going on within the ecclesia that has no business taking place. As I’ve said so many times before, Matthew 5, 6, 7 don’t seem to be a way of life for enough of our people. Some of our people have no idea how to put into practice the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount.
Let me give you an example of this business of some of God’s people going totally bonkers after the 1990 WCG revolution. Tonight we’re focusing on the area of politics. What we have today is that too many of our brethren have gone from one extreme to the other. They were once forbidden to take any part in politics for decades. And now, as the revolution continues to swirl around them, many of them have enthusiastically immersed themselves in the down and dirty of the worst politics that are out there.
I want to demonstrate this with two pictures.
The first picture is a meme of Donald Trump, where he supposedly said back in 1998 that, if he were ever to run for President, he’d run as a Republican, because Republicans are basically stupid. I’m paraphrasing the meme. This meme is a lie. It’s a falsehood. Trump never said this. This picture is a hateful piece of lying propaganda that was put out by people who are trying to hurt Trump. They may even hate Trump.
This second picture is that of Obama supposedly kissing another man [David Cameron, the British Prime Minister]. This picture is another lie. It’s a hateful piece of lying propaganda that was put out by people who are trying to hurt Obama. These people may even hate Obama. Now, where did I get these two awful pictures?
Right now, someone out there is groaning – “Oh no. Wes got these two pictures from the FB pages of church people.” And it’s true that I’m always lamenting about church people who post falsehoods on FB. And it’s actually worse than me doing my usual grousing about church people posting lies on the internet. And I’ll address that in a moment.
But first, let’s interject a question. Because I really want to know the answer to this question. Am I the only minister out there who’s preaching against all these hateful and lying social media postings by church people? Is anyone else teaching you this stuff from the pulpit? Or in your church publications? Or on your church’s social media? I’m not trying to pat myself on the back. I’m trying to find out if I’m alone on this. Am I the only one who’s doing this? And I really would like for you to tell me that I’m not alone on this. So please tell me the names of the ministers who are preaching this, so I don’t feel alone.
[One at least is. Ken Hoeck broadcast a message on March 17th, titled Fake News.]
OK. Back to these two pictures. So right now, you’re groaning that Wes has gotten two more hateful memes on FB from church people. Wes is pointing out that church people shouldn’t be posting this type of stuff.
But guess what? It’s actually worse than that. I say that… because I got these two different pictures from Sabbath-keeping Christian MINISTERS! Not former ministers, but ministers who are actively serving the ecclesia. The very people who are supposed to be shepherding the flock in the right direction.
How awful is that? This is so wrong that we have Christian ministers who are promoting lies when they post this stuff. They’re violating the Commandment which forbids us from bearing false witness.
And let’s be clear. I don’t say this in a spirit of condemnation. When I point this out, I’m telling you that my heart’s breaking over it. It hurts me so much to see this in the ecclesia …
It was an abrupt, traumatic transition. So, when people gripe to me about Billy Graham having doctrinal errors, I just shrug my shoulders, because I believe he helped the fundamentalists in their transition to engaging in worldly politics. I only wish the ecclesia had had a Billy Graham in the 1990s …”
Report from Gloria Sexton:
“This year God has blessed the Youth Program with a special guest teacher from the United States—Josh Raudenbush. Josh arrived in Yangon on the 14th of March. After a ten-hour delay in Chicago and a night in Yangon, SengAung, Josh traveled by bus to Taungoo.
As I mentioned in our last letter, Seng Aung (our pastor in Jawk Tiang), and his wife, Seng Pan, have a special yearly ten-day Legacy Youth Program during the time the children and young teens are out of school for the summer. This year it was postponed so as to be near the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. Josh flew home two days after the first holy day.
This is the first time a volunteer has come to help teach in Myanmar, and we hope that more will follow in his footsteps.
Everyone seems to be on a high and excited about Josh’s arrival. When I spoke to SengAung on the phone, he said that Josh speaks slowly, clearly, and politely—and therefore needs no translator for the older Youth Class. That was really good to hear and a special blessing for all of them!
Earl Roemer and David Bensinger arrived Friday afternoon on the 23rd. Leon and I had been eagerly awaiting their visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand. The three days they were here were truly a highlight! We were able to discuss many areas of importance with regard to Legacy, as well as their visit to our members in Myanmar for Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. They came to help out Leon at this time, since we were not able to go to Myanmar ourselves. They are our brothers coming in a time of need—and Leon and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate their sacrifice.
This is a very long trip that takes many hours—and the travel by foot or motorcycle into our church compound is also for the seasoned traveler(s). Mr. Roemer has been in the Ministry for 52 years; and for the last 22 years, he has served in the Philippines and Hong Kong. He understands Asian culture. Even if there are differences among the various Asian countries, much of it is the same. We truly felt in our conversations that we are all of the one body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We continue to pray for all of you, our brethren, wherever you are, especially those of you going through stressful trials at this time. Leon and I continue to genuinely be thankful for all your prayers.
We continue to be so awed by your support for us in prayers and financial aid for Legacy. Our Youth Program, Passover, and Days of Unleavened Bread have been completely provided for. Also, we received a very generous donation for the entirety of a permanent roof for the eating area, which will be finished as time permits after the holy days. And all the plastic will be re-used for so many other purposes in the church compound or for members in need.
Thank you again for making the Youth Program and Holy Days extra-special!!!”
Biblical Calendar 2018
On March 18th Devorah Gordon reported these new moon sightings from Israel:
From Ma’ale Adummim by Roy Hoffman at 6:12pm.
From Nitzana by Yotam Marcus at 6:30pm.
(Roy Hoffman, an ‘Orthodox’ Jew, is a founder of the Israeli New Moon Society.)
Devorah Gordon, a Karaite Jew, reports, March 18th, 2018:
“The Aviv Search Team has spent the past few days inspecting the barley crop in the Land of Israel to determine whether this year needs to be intercalated with a 13th month. We concentrated our search in the Northern Negev, Judean Hills, and the Jordan Valley, as barley ripens first in these regions.
The barley in the Judean Hills and Jordan Valley was quite immature this year, while the barley in the Northern Negev was more mature. The aviv barley. We also found some individual stalks at other fields. It is the unanimous conclusion of the participants, that we found enough aviv barley to begin the year with the upcoming new moon sighting.”
Abib Summation: March 18, 2018 by Brian Convery includes …
There are a lot of signs mentioned in scripture in addition to inspecting barley, for they are all placed in creation to tell us when the turn of the year is from winter to summer in the Promised Land. They are witnesses to it. Please do not be deceived by some stating these Biblical facts and patterns are irrelevant. Here are just a few.
Matthew 24:32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender (sap running through it) and puts forth leaves, you know that the summer is near.”
Song of Solomon 2:11-13 “For lo the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth: the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.”
Jeremiah 8:7 “Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times (moedim); and the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgement (when to start the beginning of the year to keep their appointed times) of the Lord/Yehovah.”
Isaiah 18:5 “For before the harvest when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower…” (perfect description of both at this time of year)
These are clear instructions from God/Elohim that there are very distinct patterns placed by Them in creation for us to observe and use in our determining the exact days of Their appointed times for us. I happen to be simple enough to believe them as detailed in scripture and follow this simplicity in Christ/Messiah. We actually look for them all. Imagine that.
This year we have witnessed the white storks migrating in vast numbers, swifts darting around in their aerial displays, swallows playing tag (as it seems) in the heavens with each other, and waking up to the doves singing their love songs, and other birds singing to the glory of God/Elohim for another day dawning. We have seen fig trees leafing out and growing figs all over the Land. The grapes are in every stage of early growth with the tiny sour grape forming. And we have inspected the barley as to the head/bud being found perfect/complete, so it can reproduce itself and thus be ground into fine flower for a first of the first fruits offering of the early harvest of grain, the barley harvest, which bows deep before God/Elohim prior to its use as the Wavesheaf Offering. There is enough barley which meets the Leviticus 2:14 minimum qualifying requirement to satisfy all the different factions that I am aware of. However that is my opinion and understanding.
We have presented these evidences to you for you to make your decision between your Creators and yourself as to when you will be keeping the appointed times of meeting with Them. All we do is provide the technical assistance, you do all the rest.
Zoom Meeting this past Sabbath [YouTube] on the results of the inspections.
… folks were asking some very basic questions about:
How to determine the state of Aviv in the barley in Israel
The Importance of the Wavesheaf
Who Are We?
The biblical new year begins on Friday evening, March 16th, according to the Hebrew Calendar, which continues to be used by the vast majority of brethren. This is not technically a ‘new moon’, as it is actually the final evening on which the waning moon of the previous month can be seen.
This is very confusing for ex-WCG members, who were taught that the Hebrew Calendar calculates the appearance of every new moon.
Why does this new moon begin when the old moon is still visible?
The reason is that only the new moon of the 7th month (Day of Trumpets – known as Rosh Hashana by the Jews) is calculated. The Molad (average conjunction – dark new moon) is on September 10th. All the other months are determined from this date, simply by counting 29/30 days alternately forward to the end of the year and backward to the start of the year.
HMNAO’s Crescent New Moon Maps show that the new moon will first become visible on the evening of March 18th, when it will easily be sighted over most of the world (including Israel).
Herbert Armstrong believed that the month begins when the new moon can first be observed by the naked eye in Jerusalem, and he taught that the Hebrew (Jewish) calendar correctly calculates this time. In 1940, he wrote:
“After thorough study of the Bible, of the Hebrew calendar, of history, and every angle – after going into the matter with all the Eugene brethren, and other brethren who have made a special study of this question, we have unanimously agreed that the Hebrew calendar has been preserved correct by the Jews.
The [Astronomical] New Moon occurs, IN JERUSALEM, (World Almanac), at exactly 10:18 P.M., the night of April 7th, which is the eve of April 8th. However, God had the new moon observed by the naked eye [i.e. via the Hebrew Calendar] and by this method the first day of the 1st month begins the following sunset, April 8th.”
WHAT IF Herbert Armstrong and the Eugene brethren were alive today and could refer to an Almanac for 2018? They would see that :
• on the evening of March 16th – when the Hebrew calendar month begins – the old moon has not yet disappeared;
• the dark phase – the astronomical new moon – is on March 17th;
• the new moon could not be observed until the evening of the 18th.
Would they “unanimously agree that the Hebrew calendar has been preserved correct by the Jews”?
The Journal : News of the Churches of God
After 21 years and 202 issues, the FINAL ISSUE OF THE JOURNAL: Jan. 31, 2018, has been published – a bumper issue of 40 pages.
Printed back issues are available for purchase, and can be viewed online in pdf from issue 158 onwards. The Journal’s webmaster, Alan Ruth, plans to transfer all the earlier issues into pdf.
Church of God, a Worldwide Association
Jim Franks reported: “Enthusiasm for the Feast of Tabernacles really ramped up recently with our early registration for the site in Italy. Within two minutes of opening the registration portal on Sunday, Feb. 11, we had 350 people register, which is our maximum seating capacity for the auditorium, and within 10 minutes we had well over 500!”
Only those attending a COGWA congregation could register – so those in Europe living too far away from any of COGWA’s 4 locations missed out.
He then turned to Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and the traditions associated with the Night to be Much Observed.
“We have no biblical model of a meal among the Old Testament Israelites on this evening, nor is there a New Testament model for us to follow.
How we observe this evening is a matter of church tradition.”
Herbert Armstrong and Racism
Did Herbert Armstrong oppose inter-racial marriage?
According to Wes White’s Confessions of a Repentant Racist, the answer is ‘yes and no’.
When a black church employee wanted to marry a white student, “Fire him and disfellowship him.”
But when a white man wanted to marry an Asian …
“This couple is all right. Let them get married. And just so we don’t have problems with someone like Rod Meredith, let’s send the couple to Hawaii to live, because interracial marriage is accepted there more than in other states. We’ll pay their way there. We’ll pay for their apartment for a while to get them started. We’ll have the local minister help find them jobs.”
And then Herbert Armstrong exiles Rod Meredith to Hawaii …
Philadelphia Church of God
Gerald Flurry is in the final stages of writing a new book, “The New Throne of David”.
This new publication is necessary following his announcement in the Royal Vision magazine, July-August 2017: “New Stone, New Throne”, that Herbert Armstrong’s prayer rock is ‘The New Stone of Destiny’, and Gerald Flurry will sit on ‘The New Throne of David’ in ‘The Place of Safety’.
“God is getting us ready to go to the place of safety where we will have David’s throne. There is a new king and a new stone. There has to be for this prophecy to be fulfilled! And this new king would have to be God’s apostle, at least for this time.
The prayer rock, the new symbol of David’s throne, also came to us through a descendant of David, Herbert W. Armstrong. And it all happened on Jan. 16, 2017, the anniversary of his death.
God made all these things happen miraculously. This was all prophesied, and God has brought it about in a way that is truly mind-staggering when you think about it.”
From The Last End – A Book of Remembrance (an ex-PCG group which continues to regard Gerald Flurry as “God’s true messenger for this last era of God’s Church”) 25th February 2018:
“With this so-called new revelation about this new stone of destiny, even people outside of God’s Church are noticing how God’s servant is sinking deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit of confusion and wickedness.
What the PCG ministry is unaware of is that, this change in the stone of destiny, is also being questioned within the PCG membership. These are questions that harbor in the people’s minds:
“How can the prayer rock of Mr. Herbert Armstrong became the new stone of destiny?” Or, “How can the actual stone of destiny be changed to another actual stone?”
Mr. Gerald Flurry admitted in the article that it is radical or extreme to say that there is a new stone of destiny. It’s very strange to say something like it. But he rationalized that statement by saying, “It is also radical to say that God’s people will have the throne of David.”
Mr. Flurry, furthermore, admitted that he was wrong in thinking that they would get the real stone of destiny in Scotland.
He further reasoned that having this new stone of destiny (HWA’s prayer rock) is for practical purpose or appropriate to the present condition, since they believed that they’re all set to go to the place of safety in Petra in Jordan and it will help them prepare for the return of Jesus Christ.
One may ask, “Has God’s messenger lost his mind?” or “Why all these unsound reasoning of God’s servant?” What happened to Mr. Gerald Flurry? A prophecy in the book of Hosea, provides an answer.
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. (Hosea 9:7)
The Prophet Hosea reveals that God’s messenger has gone mad. Strong’s Concordance says, “play the madman” or “rave through insanity” – which means that he is talking or writing about something absurd or ridiculous. He is now acting like a foolish man in the eyes of many people.”
The Last End then supports Gerald Flurry by transferring the blame for his insane behavior onto Stephen Flurry.
“But why has this happened to him? The same passage shows the reason. It is because of the foolishness or perverseness of the prophet – referring to his own son, Stephen.
The failure of Stephen Flurry and his men, in their pursuit to acquire the real stone of destiny in Scotland, after three years of setting up a new work in Edstone and abandoning the work in Jerusalem, has occasioned the fabrication of a new stone of destiny.
The change in the stone of destiny is essentially a product of Stephen Flurry’s vanity and wickedness. He turned away from God. Hosea also proves why this has happened – it is because of the multitude of iniquity in God’s Church. And God has shown in many of His prophecies that these evils were caused by Stephen and his men.
And so the Pastor General of the Philadelphia Church of God is frequently maligned by other people. He is often the subject of ridicule instead of his son Stephen and his fellows.
Mr. Gerald Flurry could not see all these evils happening inside God’s Church because God has temporarily closed his eyes.”
Biblical Calendar 2018
“Equinox” originally meant the time when night and day are of exactly equal length, but today it has the scientific definition of “the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator, making night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth.”
A relatively new word – “Equilux” – expresses the original meaning.
Lighted Way Ministries begins the biblical year at the visible new moon following the vernal equinox – but has changed to what it terms “the true tekufah” (i.e. the equilux).
(Tekufah: Strong’s H8622: a revolution, i.e. (of the sun) course, (of time) lapse).
In 2018 the equilux in Oregon (where LWM is based) occurs before the March new moon, but the equinox is after the new moon. “The true tekufah” (equilux) thus brings the annual holy days one month earlier.
Using local data (rather than Jerusalem) for the equinox – and even more so for the equilux – causes problems, as explained in USNO’s article on equinoxes.
LWM’s most recent festival (Tabernacles 2017) was held in Townsville, Queensland, where the equilux will be on March 27 – after the new moon – so Passover/UB there should be one month later than in Oregon.
Furthermore, within a couple of degrees of the equator, daylight is always several minutes longer than the night – i.e. equilux does not occur at this latitude – so technically there could not be any annual holy days there.
Restored Church of God
Letter to Exit & Support Network, February 12 [name withheld]:
“This [Restored Church of God Destroyed My Marriage] is a sad story, repeated too often. Personally, I am grateful that my husband in RCG continues to support us. His understanding of “common” is less strict than what I have read on your site.
I know that most of the RCG ministry works without pay, just being compensated for expenses. So, it is not a mystery who gets the money [Pack]. They teach that the End is near, so why bother saving? I also know they believe that they are not looking for Jesus to return, rather they believe that Elijah is coming to “rule the world” for a time.
Also, a top minister in RCG works full time to “correct” Pack’s false prophecies on their computers. That way, no one without a hard copy will know how wrong he is!”
Port Austin Bible Campus
“Norman and Marleen Edwards and Bill Buckman have lived on the former Port Austin Air Force Base property since 2004 … The Edwards are now retirement age themselves. It is no longer as easy to pick up new homeless guests or resolve disputes among existing guests in the middle of the night—and still tend to all the necessary work the next day.”
They will be moving to Nashville, Tennessee, shortly, and Norman has set up a Facebook page for the new ministry, Do His Works.
Jeff and Judy Kramer, with their 5 young children, arrived in October 2017, and will take over the running of PABC. In November Jeff presented his plan for the Michigan House of Hope Homeless Ministry.
Philadelphia Church of God
In December treasurer Andrew Lochner alluded to the heavy financial pressure placed upon the church by Gerald Flurry’s decision to buy a private jet, and yet he also announced: “There are plans in the works to expand our efforts to reach the cities of Judah (Isaiah 40).”
The first of these plans will cost PCG’s members $500,000.
JERUSALEM—A “fly on the Byzantine wall” south of the Temple Mount has been witnessing a flurry of activity at an archaeological dig site in recent weeks. Since January 15, Dr. Eilat Mazar, 11 Herbert W. Armstrong College students and graduates, and 11 Israeli workers have been excavating a site on the Ophel. So far, each day on the dig site has brought something new and different, whether it’s constructing staircases, sorting sand bags, staging equipment, hefting stones, or passing buckets of dirt.
In December, Herbert W. Armstrong College chancellor and Armstrong International Cultural Foundation chairman Gerald Flurry announced that the foundation would sponsor a total of $500,000 to help Dr. Mazar complete her second phase of excavation at the eastern edge of the Ophel. The sponsorship consists of a $300,000 donation and an estimated $200,000 sponsorship for travel, accommodations and other expenses of seven students and four graduates from Herbert W. Armstrong College to provide manpower.
“This excavation represents a big step up for the foundation,” said college president and foundation vice president Stephen Flurry. “Since 2006, we have provided Dr. Mazar with 55 volunteer diggers for six different excavations in Jerusalem—two in the City of David and four on the Ophel. The 2018 Ophel excavation, however, is the first time the foundation has provided volunteers and funded the overall costs for the dig.”
In the last issue of The Philadelphian for 2017, treasurer Andrew Lochner alluded to the heavy financial pressure placed upon the church by Gerald Flurry’s decision to buy a private jet, a photograph of which was displayed on the front page.
He said that God wants the brethren and co-workers to “continue to sacrifice and respond to His direction,” and so Lochner urges them to pray about how they might be able to send in even more money, and pray that more co-workers will be added.
“About midway through 2017, Pastor General Gerald Flurry took a more aggressive approach to God’s finances to make sure we are putting to use the money God has provided to do the Work. That act of faith caused us to more closely monitor expenses, measure our results from various advertising and promotional campaigns, and to really work more efficiently to accomplish more with the money we spend.
There are plans in the works to expand our efforts to reach the cities of Judah (Isaiah 40). That will require additional resources, but God will provide. His response in 2017 has been very inspiring. God wants us to be active and aggressive. He wants us to continue to sacrifice and respond to His direction as we finish this Work. As we near the end of the year, please continue to pray about your personal finances.”
United Church of God
On February 2nd, Stephen Allwine, who was an elder in the Twin Cities congregation, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the 1st degree murder of his wife, Amy, in November 2016.
They first met when they were students at Ambassador College in Big Sandy.
Rosemount Town Pages (a local newspaper) reported:
“A Washington County jury convicted Stephen Carl Allwine of first-degree premeditated murder Jan. 31, concluding a week-long trial.
District Judge William B. Ekstrum handed down the life sentence without parole, Friday, Feb. 2.
Allwine drugged and shot his wife, Amy Allwine, in the head before staging her death as a suicide, prosecutors said.
A two-month investigation revealed at least two extramarital affairs by her husband, along with a complex “dark web” plot for a hired hitman to kill her.
Stephen Allwine chose to have his wife killed, prosecutors said, rather than tarnish his reputation within his local church with a divorce.
Prosecutor Fred Fink said the complex cache of evidence and Allwine’s “obsessiveness” in planning his wife’s murder made the case unlike any he’s handled during his four-decade career.
“It’s fair that this defendant spends the rest of his life in prison,” Fink said.
Authorities found Amy Allwine’s body in her Cottage Grove home Nov. 13, 2016, while responding to a 911 from Stephen Allwine. She suffered a single gunshot wound to the head. Medical examiners determined her death was a homicide due to the lack of blood spatter and gunpowder on her hands.
A toxicology report revealed large amounts of scopolamine in Amy Allwine’s body. She never had a prescription for the drug, which is used to treat nausea and causes drowsiness and confusion as a side effect. Investigators later found a 35-digit bitcoin code backed up on Stephen Allwine’s computer that linked to posts on a “dark web” page about purchasing scopolamine.
Amy Allwine’s family described the terrifying final months of her life in their statements.The summer before her death, Amy Allwine received anonymous emails graphically threatening her family’s lives and urging her to kill herself. Prosecutors said the FBI contacted the family about the emails at the time.A forensic search of Stephen Allwine’s computer revealed searches for the names and addresses of his wife’s relatives. Julie Brown, Amy Allwine’s sister, said the FBI warned the threats should be taken seriously. Tasks like grocery shopping, Brown said, spurred intense anxiety. Brown said her sister “lived in fear every waking moment of the last months of her life.”
In a written statement, Amy Allwine’s parents Chuck and Joanne Zutz said the betrayal they felt as authorities investigated Stephen Allwine amplified their grief. Stephen Allwine lived in the Zutz’s home for two months after his wife’s death, the statement said. Their daughter’s murder, they said, robbed her 9-year-old son of his mother and “terminated” their ability to enjoy cherished family traditions.
Throughout their grief, Brown said the family found strength in their faith, which comforted Amy Allwine as she faced threats on her family’s lives.
“We’ve lost so much, but with God’s grace, all is not lost,” Brown said.
Other friends and family described Amy Allwine as a loving mother, a compassionate friend and a talented figure in the area’s close-knit dog training community. “She believed in people and helped them believe in themselves,” a family friend said.
Stephen Allwine stared down at the desk in front of him during the statements.
Allwine maintained his innocence in his final statements and expressed grief over the loss of his wife.
Judge Ekstrum spoke briefly before sentencing Allwine, describing the 44-year-old as “cold” and a “hypocrite”. “You’re an incredible actor,” Ekstrum said in response to Allwine’s statement. “You can turn tears on and off.”
Peter Eddington & Victor Kubik issued the following statement on February 1st, in response to his conviction the previous day:
“Back in late 2016 we reported on a shocking and tragic event in Minnesota. Amy Allwine, wife of Stephen Allwine, was found dead of a gunshot wound in the Allwine’s home. A lengthy and in-depth police investigation ensued and Mr. Allwine was eventually charged with premeditated first-degree murder by a Minnesota Grand Jury. A trial began earlier this month. Because of the sensational nature of the facts surrounding the case, a considerable number of international and national media outlets covered the events leading up to and including the trial.
Last Wednesday evening, after deliberating a little more than six hours, the Minnesota jury involved in the Amy Allwine murder trial delivered a verdict—finding Stephen Allwine guilty of first degree murder. After now being declared guilty, his formal sentencing is scheduled for Friday morning, February 2. Given the grim details of the terrible death of Amy, we expect media attention to continue for some time.
At this point it is important to remember that this situation remains profoundly tragic in a highly personal way for many. The justice system has acted and rendered a verdict, which we as a Church respect. But we should remember that this process has been exceptionally hard on the families involved, and also for close friends and extended members of the families. As innocent independent victims of this tragedy they face a difficult and challenging mix of strong emotions—including renewed shock and grief that will last for some time. We need to recognize this. Jesus instructed us that we are to love one another, and now is an especially good time to fulfill that.
Minnesota law will call for an automatic appeal, so the process will actually continue in some form. It is our fervent hope that all will continue praying to our merciful Father about the entire situation and be compassionate about what the extended families are going through.
Here is an important point: while we certainly respect the verdict, at the same time we personally are not to sit in judgment. As Jesus Himself instructs us, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Jesus also tells us that “there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known” (Luke 12:2). We can have confidence that our all-knowing God is aware of all aspects regarding this tragic situation. We need to remember what James, the brother of Jesus, writes to us from a spiritual perspective: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). As a result, we will not be making speculative comments about the verdict.
As noted, the details of the murder are terrible. Coupled with the fact that Mr. Allwine was technically a lay (unpaid) minister at the time of Amy’s death, this has made for heightened media coverage—which we expect will continue in some form. Regarding his status, it is important to know that during the police investigation Mr. Allwine publicly admitted to conduct that violated the established ethics policy for ministers of the United Church of God, an International Association. As a result, and given the policy’s zero-tolerance application of that policy, the Council of Elders removed him from the ministry in 2017. While that action has been appropriately taken, I do encourage all of us to continue praying to our almighty God for direction and comfort for all parties.
It is also important to note that some major media previously and erroneously asserted that the Church’s teachings on marriage and divorce may have been a contributing factor in the case. As we have been told by those who attended the trial, that was not a major focus during the actual proceedings. As a precaution, we did previously publish a public statement correcting this information, which is available on the members website. You are welcome to review and refer to that as needed. We may update it as appropriate.
Again, because the details of the murder are so graphic we expect a considerable amount of public attention about the verdict—both in the short-term and ongoing in the weeks and even months ahead. This public attention may have certain outcomes, including making things more complicated for the families.
On a related matter, given that both the United Church of God and the work that we do may come to the attention of the media as a result of this trial and verdict, we humbly ask that you pray that all will serve to ultimately further the will of God, particularly as it concerns what we have been called to do (Romans 12:1). As Paul writes with authority, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Amy Allwine’s parents and siblings made this public statement: “We can summon no words to describe life without Amy. We loved her and miss her tremendously. We now turn to the path of privately healing and grieving.” We personally ask that we all join with them and all the families in praying for this healing.
May the work and mission of God advance urgently in these times of turbulent need. Thank you for your prayers. You remain in ours.”
Church of God, a Worldwide Association
In the Sabbath service in London on 20th January, David King gave a sermonette on the subject of Why Say Amen? at the end of a public prayer (starts at 12 mins., ends at 25 mins.) This would seem to have been prompted by the recent dispute which led to Ron Harmon leaving the House of God – fellow minister Mike Alewine arguing that failing to say “amen” is a salvational matter, as denying “the Amen” (Rev.3:14) is denying Christ (see House of God post below).
There is now a web page for the Festival of Tabernacles 2018 site in Cortona, Tuscany, Italy. Registration for all other festival sites will not open until April 1st – however, owing to the level of interest for this site being well above the 300 capacity of the meeting room, Jim Franks announced last month that registration for Cortona will open on February 11th at 10am CST – and is expected to close on the same day. The 300 successful applications will be notified on February 13th.
Those who have not previously registered for a festival or camp site in the USA (which of course is almost everybody in Europe) must open an account at portal.cogwa.org/acct before they can register for Cortona. Furthermore, only those currently attending COGWA congregations will be allowed to register. COGWA’s only congregations in Europe are in south-east England, Paris, Liege and Geneva – so those brethren in Europe living too far away to attend Sabbath meetings in these locations will be barred from registering for Cortona.
COGWA will have two other festival sites in Europe – in Normandy and Winchester in southern England.
For those having a strong preference for Italy, an annual Festival of Tabernacles is held in Sabaudia, near Rome. A four-day pre-festival cultural tour of Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano) is being offered to brethren who can attend the Day of Atonement at the festival site. (The group is aligned with the United Church of God.)
Clyde Kilough asks, in his article, ‘How to Spot a Counterfeit Church’, in the January-February 2018 edition of Discern Magazine:
“Fake Faith: What would you do, how would you feel, if you discovered your religion was counterfeit? Most of us have been “given” our religion by our parents, or maybe we “shopped” for one we liked. Is it possible that, in all innocence, we possess a fake belief? …
Look at the thousands of denominations in the world today representing differing interpretations of what Christ did and said. Isn’t that a problem?”
Clyde Kilough was “given” his religion by his parents. He became a minister in that religion, the Worldwide Church of God.
After the founder died, his successor began to change its doctrines, starting with the nature of God (the Trinity). Clyde taught the “new truth” – which must have been a “fake faith” – since he has subsequently changed churches twice, both of which teach the previous “truth”. Isn’t that a problem?
The Shining Light
James Malm posted the following on 31st January [full text here]:
“It is my very sad duty to inform the brethren that my very dear friend Constance Lynn Belanger has been seduced and has left the faith. At the beginning of 2017 Constance retired from writing for this site and during the course of that year departed from the faith under the influence of a certain person.
Later in the year Constance wrote me with some links and asked me for my opinion on a flat earth. I thought that this was an honest question and dutifully looked this up and then sent her my opinion.
She got all upset at my answer and wrote accusing me of treating her like a child and of attacking her. It was obvious that she had swallowed this and had been trying to get me to accept it as well. Then when I did not do so, she justified her refusing to look at the evidence and rejecting me, by accusing me of something that had never entered my mind. I had always considered her a beloved friend and I found this quite a shock.
This kind of cop out is so common in today’s COG’s: when people cannot refute something they do not want to accept; they just accuse the messenger of attacking them and tune out, cleaving to their error.
Constance had fully swallowed the Flat Earth error [hence my recent post on the subject]. She then chose to disassociate herself from me because I did not agree, taking the view that nothing I say can be believed because I do not accept the “truth” that the earth is flat.”
Passover & Festival of Unleavened Bread 2018
Passover/Unleavened Bread 2018 page has been added.
Seekers of Yahweh’s Ministries has deemed it necessary to impose the following rule: “Due to many bad reports of things that have taken place at other gatherings during Yah’s Feasts, we here at Seekers of Yahweh want to make it very clear that the following topics for discussion will not be focused on, and if it is your intent to bring these topics (listed below) that are creating division, instead of studying with us, please find another venue …
FLAT EARTH — EXTRA BIBLICAL BOOKS — CALENDARS / MOON PHASES — COLOR OF ISRAELITES — WHEN A DAY BEGINS.”
Chris DeWeese wrote recently in The Word and The Way: “For the past four or five years, our movement has been playing “whack a mole” with ludicrous doctrines. Every year some new strange doctrine comes up and then those who would normally be talking about sound doctrine go to war trying to tamp down the strange doctrine.”
Voice in the Wilderness Church of God
Bill Goff’s update, January 29th, reveals the unchristian attitudes of some corporate Church of God leaders towards the impoverished children of God in Africa.
Trouble At The Orphanage
Hope this letter finds you well, as we patiently await the return of our Lord and Savior, whom this world so desperately needs. We are having some trouble at the Sengera Orphanage. The police have arrested Haron (the overseer). They are complaining that we are not completing the improvements they required of us, fast enough. We still need to plaster the outside of the cafeteria, tile the girls’ bathroom, and erect a security wall along the front of the orphanage.
We have made much progress with their original demands; the store room is completed, the boys’ indoor and outdoor toilets and shower have been tiled. The cafeteria is completed inside so the children have been able to use it. But the work came to a stop because schools were opening, and we used the only remaining funds to pay their tuition.
Fortunately this time they released Haron temporarily, although they are threatening to close the orphanage down if we don’t complete these required improvements quickly. (Last time they jailed him for two days, and when he was released, he had to be brought to hospital because he had been beaten by some of the inmates.)
Brethren, If you can spread the word that these church orphans need help, please do so. I have contacted numerous large churches of God recently, trying to get them to help assist, but sad to say, haven’t received even one positive response. Please understand, I’m not requesting more help from the few who have consistently been assisting these orphans, I’m reaching out to those who have the means to help, but are not aware of the dire situation, because their ‘leaders’ continue to cause division in the churches of God, and refuse to inform their congregations that there are true members of the Body of Christ, the Church, who need help.
After informing one high ranking leader of one of the large churches of God of the dire need of some of our impoverished brethren, he patted me on the back and said (and I quote): “You’re doing a great job over there, but we like to take care of our own brethren before helping those abroad.” He would not help at all, and I know for a fact that his organization has tens of thousands of dollars of tithe and offering money sitting in the bank.
I then contacted another high ranking leader, explaining the suffering that our African brethren are enduring, and how they need our help. His reply was even more shocking. He said (and I quote again): “preaching the gospel is a business, and when you don’t get a return, you pull out. We tried Africa, but got nothing back, so we will not help African brethren.”
Another well known ‘leader’ of another larger church of God group, who had a little over $200,000 of tithe and offering money sitting in his bank account, also refused to help. He said we weren’t part of ‘his’ organization. Yes, you heard me correctly, he would not help, because we weren’t part of his particular ‘COG group’. And he not only had $200,000 sitting in his bank accounts, but was also purchasing stocks and bonds with all the tithe & offering money that the brethren were sending him.
I don’t mean to be so blunt here, but keeping silent about this atrocity would be a sin. The Apostle Paul instructed us to do good unto all men, especially those who are of the household of faith. Brethren, these suffering people are of the household of faith. Even these orphaned children came to us from various churches of God who could no longer care for them after their parents died. We didn’t care which particular COG group they were part of, that didn’t matter one iota. What mattered was that they needed our help. And believe me, their needs are quite dire. And I’m not only addressing these orphans here, there are also other brethren who need our help. I received a call from a COG pastor in Western Kenya last week informing me about two deaths in his congregation. One was a child. They needed to bury them, but didn’t have enough funds to purchase coffins. I had to turn their request down due to lack of funds.
We have also been assisting a number of ‘true’ widows, also from various COG groups. One from the border group living near the Maasai tribe, another from Ogembo, and a few from Sengera area. We help the brethren that are reaching out to us the best we can, and our Heavenly Father has always been good at stretching the funds that come in, but if a few more were involved, we could help so much more.
Brethren, don’t allow these false leaders to continue dividing the church of the living God. Don’t be fooled by men. Men have divided the church of God into hundreds of separate organizations, but in God’s eyes, He sees only 2 groups (yes two) the wise & the foolish, the sheep & the goats.
Please pray for our impoverished brethren who are living in these 3rd world impoverished countries, many of them are suffering severely. And most of all let us pray “Thy Kingdom Come” – because the coming kingdom of God is the only thing that can resolve all the man made troubles of this untoward world.
Your brother in Christ, Bill Goff.
The update includes pictures of the orphans at Sengera House and at school
United Church of God
Public Statement: Trial of Stephen Allwine
a former lay minister of the United Church of God, an International Association
Posted on Jan 26, 2018 by Peter Eddington, Victor Kubik
“The Church strongly follows the biblical command that murder—even the mere thought of murder—is condemned as sin and can never be justified.
In the coverage of the January 2018 trial of former lay minister Stephen Allwine, some media have included inaccurate comments about the United Church of God, an International Association. They attempt to link Church beliefs regarding divorce to a possible motive for the murder of Amy Allwine.
Here are the facts about the United Church of God and its beliefs: We highly value Scripture and regard the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. In respect to marriage, the Church positively teaches it involves a lifelong commitment of mutual love, respect and selfless service. Marriage is a Holy covenant that reflects our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Church also strongly follows the biblical command that murder—even the mere thought of murder—is condemned as sin and can never be justified (Matthew 5:21-32). Unlike what some may have insinuated, our ministers are called to be humble servants—as stated in the New Testament: “These pastors must be men of blameless lives because they are God’s ministers. They must not be proud or impatient; they must not be drunkards or fighters or greedy for money” (Titus 1:7, Living Bible).
The United Church of God is transparent and regards our mission, in part, to be a light to this world (Matthew 5:14). As humans, we are all subject to missing the mark and stand in need of a Savior. We have a glorious Redeemer—our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ—who died for all of us that our sins and shortcomings may be forgiven (Acts 4:12). That selfless act of Jesus results in marvelous reconciliation to God our Father and subsequently in “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). As the Bible authoritatively and positively declares, it is the fervent desire of God for “everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, New Living Translation).
The United Church of God is deeply saddened by this tragedy and urges all to pray for the families and those involved.”
House of God
On leaving the House of God, Ron Harmon wrote: “I will be continuing the work in the ways I can from my home. I’m not sure at this time how that will manifest itself, but the fact is, I can’t stop serving God.”
He has decided to continue with the bible studies – which he has been broadcasting from his home in Temple, Texas, on Wednesday evenings – each Sabbath at 12 noon ET, under the title, Tomorrow’s Church of God – ‘looking to a future with God!’
Ron Harmon presented a final video message on Wednesday, 13th December, as many brethren were confused as to his reasons for leaving right now, since the issue of whether or not it is an obligation to say “amen” in a public prayer was a topic of discussion years ago.
Fellow minister Mike Alewine argues that denying “the Amen” (Rev.3:14) is denying Christ.
In his e-mail response to Mike in July, Ron wrote:
“I did one sermon on this, and in that sermon I told everyone it wasn’t a doctrine or a edict of the church; they were free to use amen or any other phrase to end a prayer, or none at all … As far as Frank was concerned, he took it to a level where I would never have, but that was Frank.”
Frank Scherich gave a video sermon back in 2014 : Amen Again
(He was killed on 1st October 2015. He had been attending the Festival of Tabernacles in Galveston, Texas, where he was joint co-ordinator. He was hit by a car around 4.00pm, while trying to rescue his dog from traffic, and died in hospital that evening.)
This is Ron Harmon’s letter of resignation, dated Tuesday, 12th December 2017:
“To The Wonderful People of the House of God
Unknown to most of you there has been a spiritual struggle occurring within our congregations. It was a battle not of my choosing, but it caused much tension in our home. This last Sunday at our annual meeting of the consul and ministers of the House of God, it all came to a conclusion.
This spiritual battle has been raging behind the scenes for many years bringing me to a final conclusion. I can’t work effectively when others I work with are so consumed by my different beliefs on ending prayers, not allowing camaraderie to exist.
As of Sunday, Virginia and I are no longer members of the House of God. I won’t get into the specifics for the sake of the church, only to say the following. I cannot go against my convictions and how I see the scriptures. There are some in the leadership of the church who seem to believe my salvation is lost because of what I believe on one issue. I can only say this, you might be careful how you judge others and their salvation.
I will be continuing the work in the ways I can from my home. I’m not sure at this time how that will manifest itself, but the fact is, I can’t stop serving God.
I wish everyone well and God’s blessings. I’ve always tried to help make everyone’s lives a little better at the House of God and we hope you remember us fondly. Virginia and I are deeply saddened by what has transpired over the last few months. We are saddened to not be a part of your lives any longer, but we no longer feel welcomed, and we don’t go where we’re not welcomed.
God Bless you all: Ron Harmon.”
Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association
The press release announcing the formation of ‘The Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association’ (RLDEA), created by Allie Dart, stated: “Mrs. Dart’s will prohibits the assets of her estate from going directly to Christian Educational Ministries.”
Lawyers appointed by CEM’s board (now headed by Larry Watkins) are contesting her will.
Wes White has clarified the RLDEA’s position regarding CEM’s legal dispute over Allie Dart’s will. (Edited statement)
1. I have nothing to do with the estate of Allie Dart. What goes on with Allie’s estate is none of my business, and I have no desire to get involved with it.
2. What goes on in CEM is none of my business either, and I have no desire to get involved in CEM’s business. I have no ill will toward anyone in CEM, no animosity on my part. There were rumors that I was trying to get this or that done in CEM. Not true.
3. Any legal disputes that are going on right now between Allie’s estate and CEM have absolutely nothing to do with me. I am completely uninvolved in the legal difficulties that are taking place right now between CEM and Allie’s estate.
If Allie’s estate ever gets settled, and if there’s some money left over after the lawyers take big chunks out of it, and if some of her money ends up going to RLDEA, as dictated by her will, then at that time it will be my responsibility to help expedite those funds in the way that Allie asked us to. So, until that day comes, if it comes, because lawyers are really good at eating up estates with their legal fees. Until that day comes, I have nothing that I can further report regarding the RLDEA. Further, both sides have asked me not to comment on these matters of Allie’s estate, and it is with great pleasure that I comply with that request.
4. Let’s be really clear on another point. My commitment to refrain in commenting on these legal matters does not stop me from preaching the doctrines of the Church of God. Further, I will not stop preaching the following two doctrines. I have been preaching these two doctrines for decades, and I am not going to stop now.
The first doctrine is this: the Bible makes it very clear that it’s wrong to take your brother to court. Those of you who follow this show remember that I talked about this at length on SOS #34.
The second doctrine is: stay out of the business of judging who is and who isn’t a Christian. If someone says he is a Christian, it’s not my job to say, oh, he’s not a Christian. Only Jesus can make that determination. Many people want to get around the 1st Corinthians 6 prohibition of suing fellow Christians by using this cop out line, saying, this man’s not my brother, and so I can sue him. And the way many a person makes this claim is to do it by saying things like, well, he’s not in my alphabet soup CoG. I’m in the ABC CoG, and he’s in the XYZ CoG, therefore he’s not my brother, and I can sue him. Or they say, this guy’s not even a Sabbath keeper. That means that he’s definitely not my brother, because, if he doesn’t even keep the Sabbath, he’s not a Christian. Again, I’m not making a declaration that all Sunday keepers are Christians. That’s not my call to make. Only Jesus can make that call.
If you want a really good teaching on this subject, I recommend you watch Ron Dart’s sermon Curse Not The Deaf on YouTube.
On Friday evening, October 20th, Wes White talked about the possibility of Christian Educational Ministries suing the Ronald L Dart Evangelistic Association.
He began by recalling when the Church of God International, a breakaway group from the Worldwide Church of God, was formed in 1978, “a couple of these folks went down to the courthouses in Texas and California to reserve the name CGI. This was so they could set up new churches in those two states under that new church name.
And, before they had time to set up the name CGI in the other 48 states, the lawyers over in WCG ran out into those 48 states and reserved the name CGI in those 48 states. Now, did WCG have any desire to use the name CGI in those 48 states? Of course not. Their sneaky act was very clearly a dirty trick done to undermine CGI. That was their only reason. To hurt CGI.
And I’ve got a confession. Back then, I applauded WCG’s action to do this. And I was wrong. Today, I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I thought it was a good thing to undermine what my brothers and sisters were doing when they were setting up CGI back in 1978. I think it was around 1985 or 86 that God softened my hard heart and showed me that this is no way to treat a brother.” …
“Ron Dart left CGI about 25 years ago and started CEM … I have been told by church leaders of that time that Ron had a severance agreement with CGI … there were some people who claimed that Ron violated that … And they said to these CGI leaders, “You need to sue Ron Dart.” And guess what? The leadership of CGI said – We are not going to sue Ron Dart. And these other people got mad.” …
“I bring all this up to show you that there are at least some who have taken a Christian point of view when it comes to disputes such as church splits. There are at least some of our brethren who say – We’ve got to be nice to our brothers in the church.
That’s a little bit of history. Let’s talk about the here and now – what’s going on at this moment. A lot of you have been asking me for an update on how things are going in my attempts to reach out to the leadership of CEM so that we at the Ronald L Dart Evangelistic Association can have a harmonious relationship with CEM. Because we want to help them – we want to assist them — in their efforts to promote Ron’s stuff …
I met with one of the leaders of CEM on the third day of the Feast. Also present was a minister who’s not a part of CEM. It was just the three of us alone. At a table overlooking the lake.
One of the important points that I hope we got across to these guys was that we in the RLDEA have no desire to remove board members from CEM. I hope I made it very clear that what they do at CEM is none of my business.
Second point of assurance I gave was related to the issue of Ron Dart’s intellectual property rights. I gave them assurances that, as far as I am concerned, Ron’s intellectual property belongs to CEM and not to the RLDEA. We don’t own them and we have no intention of trying to take them from CEM.
Now, there’s a back story to this IP issue. Before Allie went into her last round of surgery, she told me she didn’t believe that CEM should own Ron’s property rights. So she asked me to research this issue with an IP attorney. Not because she wanted to sue anyone. Suing was never an option in her mind. She just wanted to know what all her options were regarding Ron’s Ips.
So I found an IP attorney in Dallas and I talked to him about this. He told me that Allie had two options: Either Allie could accept the status quo that CEM owns Ron’s intellectual properties – or she could sue CEM. He said there was no third option. When I related this to Allie, she was a little disappointed, because she was hoping for some third option where there could be some kind of sharing agreement between her and CEM. Some kind of compromise. But, once she realized she only had two options, she immediately chose to accept the status quo, because she said there was no way she was going to take her brothers to court. Suing these people is NOT something that Ron would want.
Now, let’s get back to the meeting I had with a CEM board member and this other guy. I said to them near the end of this positive and productive meeting – I’d like to clear the air on two final issues.
The first issue is that we at RLDEA attempted to reserve the domain name RLDEA.com, and we were astounded to learn that one of the CEM employees in Whitehouse had already reserved it! Just recently. Like a week or so before we tried to get it. And I told these two guys that I thought this was underhanded, because CEM has no need for the domain name RLDEA.com. I told them that the action of reserving this particular domain name was too reminiscent of when WCG reserved the name of CGI in 48 states only for the purpose of keeping GTA from using it.
So I asked the leader from CEM if he knew that this had happened. “Were you aware of this action taken by one of your paid employees?” Well, he said, he couldn’t remember. He couldn’t even remember whether or not he got an email on this subject. And he couldn’t remember whether or not he had approved it.
So then, I asked him if he would find out if he had been informed of this action and find out if he had approved of it. And I asked if he’d get back to me. Since he couldn’t remember. He said he would get back to me. I’m still waiting.
I then asked this leader in CEM if this action is something that he condones or condemns. And he refused to take a stance on it one way or another.
So then I brought up my second concern. I told these two fellows that I found out just the day before that CEM had hired a lawyer – a litigating lawyer – and that lawyer had attempted to contact the lawyer who represents Allie’s estate. At the moment of this meeting during the Feast, the two lawyers hadn’t made a connection yet, so I had no idea what the litigating lawyer for CEM wanted from Allie’s estate lawyer.
So, in this meeting, I asked a simple and direct question. I asked – Do you have some intention of suing us? And I thought they would say – “Oh no, we would never take a brother to court. We just want to clarify a few points.” That’s what I hoped to hear. But that’s not what they said. And let’s be clear. They did NOT say – “Oh yes. We are indeed going to sue you.” What they said was that a lawsuit against us was a possibility. Have I made that distinction really clear?
The other fellow in the room (a minister in the COGs) said that the CEM board members have what they call ‘fiduciary responsibilities’. He said that, if it’s determined that it’s in the best interests of CEM to sue us, then he said that’s what they should do. They would have to. Well then next, this minister turned the question back at me. He said — Wouldn’t you do the same thing if you were in their situation? And my response was: No! I said — No way …
Brethren, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I left the meeting … My disappointment stems from the fact that this meeting once again demonstrated to me that too many in the COGs are still dysfunctional and still know either nothing or next to nothing about Christian conflict resolution. And I know that, when I make that statement, some of you out there will get mad at me …
If you’re gonna get mad, get mad at our collective ignorance of how to treat each other as brothers in the church.
If you’re gonna get mad, get rid of the collective malevolence that exists between brothers in the church.
If you’re gonna get mad, get mad at the collective inability or unwillingness that exists out there on matters of how to deal with each other in a Christian manner.
You want to do something about this? Then temper your disappointment – with prayer. Let’s all go before our heavenly Father and ask him to heal the dysfunctionality that currently exists in the COGs. Take it to God, because the last thing we need is for people to start getting mad and getting wars started. We don’t need that.
And I think it’s important that I relate the following to you. When our brethren in the CG7 movement look at us in the Armstrong COG movement, they’re kind of aghast. They don’t understand why there’s so much acrimony among our people.”
Wes White concluded the broadcast with a study of 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 and other scriptures on resolving disputes.The above notes are a small part of the broadcast, which is available on YouTube – SOS#34 ‘Can you take your Christian Brother to court?’ You might also wish to view a related broadcast SOS#33 ‘Who is my brother?’
United Church of God
“Absolute proof the UCG is going mainstream evangelical”?
James Malm posted the following on The Shining Light:
4 Jan: UCG News- I see that UCG has removed their presentation after I posted a link on 2 Jan. This is very strange since they claim to be preaching to the world. I do not seek out such material but visited and posted the link after receiving the message below. Why they removed the sermon is very hard to understand since hundreds of people heard it at the WFW.
“James: You were right. Here is absolute proof the UCG is going mainstream evangelical in order to attract new members. Bible Study given at their Winter Family Weekend. https://www.ucg.org/sermons/the-fields-are-white-for-harvest”
On 5 Jan Banned by HWA posted on the same subject:
UCG: Are the fields no longer white for harvest?
Was it sensible to react to such allegations by restricting access to a sermon heard by hundreds of UCG members and heartily endorsed by UCG’s president? (see below)
For those left wondering if Jay Ledbetter’s sermon could be “absolute proof the UCG is going mainstream evangelical”, this sermon is still available on UCG’s website – on this link
Church of God, a Worldwide Association
The January 2018 edition of One Accord is now online.
There are short reports on the Winter Family Weekends in Louisville, Kentucky, and Portland, Oregon. The Galt House is the largest hotel and conference center in Louisville, but it is becoming too small for the increasing number of people wanting to go to the WFW there. The venue has been booked again for 2018 – December 21-25 – but a larger venue will be sought for 2019 onwards.
There will be a special registration process for the Festival of Tabernacles 2018 site in Tuscany, Italy, owing to the level of interest being well above the 300 capacity of the meeting room there. Registration for all festival sites will open on April 1st, except for Italy, which will open on February 11th at 10am CST – and is expected to close on the same day. The 300 successful applications will be notified on February 13th.
(There will be two other festival sites in Europe – France and England.)
The January-February 2018 edition of Discern Magazine is now online.
Clyde Kilough asks, in his article, ‘How to Spot a Counterfeit Church’:
“Fake Faith: What would you do, how would you feel, if you discovered your religion was counterfeit? Most of us have been “given” our religion by our parents, or maybe we “shopped” for one we liked. Is it possible that, in all innocence, we possess a fake belief? …
Look at the thousands of denominations in the world today representing differing interpretations of what Christ did and said. Isn’t that a problem?”
Clyde Kilough was “given” his religion by his parents. He became a minister in that religion, the Worldwide Church of God.
After the founder died, his successor began to change its doctrines, starting with the nature of God (the Trinity). Clyde taught the “new truth” – which must have been a “fake faith” – since he has subsequently changed churches twice, each of these teaching revised versions of the previous “truth”. Isn’t that a problem?
Greater Phoenix Church of God
John Vonderhaar died in the early morning of December 22nd.
He was feeling bad stomach pains, and asked to go to the ER early in the morning on the 18th of November. After testing, it was discovered that John had stage 4 liver and colon cancer. The tumor in the colon made it very hard for John to eat much of anything. He lost a lot of weight rapidly. After two sessions of chemotherapy and drastically declining health, John decided to come home and receive hospice care. John passed away at home surrounded by his loving family on December 22nd at 4:43 am.
His wife Tonya wrote: “Joycelyn and I were singing softly to him as the rest of the family stood around to comfort John and pray. When we got to the final chorus of ‘Amazing Grace: My chains are gone’, he opened his eyes (which could no longer see), gave us that infectious ornery smile, and left this world behind … From the moment I met him, John lived his whole life to the fullest. His family will miss him very much.”
Christian Biblical Church of God
CBCG in the UK has imploded.
In the early years of CBCG Fred Coulter referred to his then small group as “the no hassle, recycle, last resort, Church of God.” It still can be – but not if you have a disagreement with Fred Coulter over doctrine or policy.
The UK ‘Office Manager’ (there was never an actual ‘office’) for the past decade has been described by someone who knew him well as “abrasive” and “easily offended”. He resigned earlier this year, warning subscribers of ‘dangers’ of keeping their names and contact details on the mailing list.
His replacement found the situation so difficult that he soon resigned in frustration – much to the fury of Fred Coulter.
There was no Festival of Tabernacles site this year (and no prospect of one any time soon). The remaining subscribers to CBCG’s material are now receiving their regular mailings from Australia.
The Plain Truth Magazine
American readers of the magazine published by the Worldwide Church of God will know of its successor, Plain Truth Ministries, which has similar beliefs to Grace Communion International, but is no longer affiliated with it.
The UK equivalent is The Plain Truth, a registered charity with no set creed, which “produces a non-denominational magazine, aimed at readers of all faiths – or none – to inform and educate them on issues affecting our everyday lives from a Christian perspective. Our goal is to provide our subscribers with ‘food for thought’.”
Among the thought provoking articles in the latest issue (Autumn 2017) is one on Christmas – Is It Crackers? (pp.10-11), in which Father Christmas has an existential crisis, while trying to explain to the author’s two young children why Africa is a ‘no fly zone’ for his reindeer and sleigh.
Church of God International
The Jamaican Gleaner reports that Ian Boyne (pastor of CGI Jamaica), died on Monday, 18th December, at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
While recuperating in the hospital, after suffering a heart attack on Saturday, 2nd December, the Jamaica Information Service reported: ‘“I am deeply touched by the outpouring of love from all sectors of the society,” Mr Boyne said, as he was updated on the concern expressed by many Jamaicans at home and abroad on social media and through calls to the JIS and radio stations. He was told that churches everywhere were in prayer for his recovery.’
The Miracle of Ian Boyne, from The Gleaner.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Minister of Culture Olivia Grange, and Minister of Education Ruel Reid, were among the first to pay tribute to Ian Boyne.
United Church of God
Gerald Weston, ‘Presiding Evangelist’ of the Living Church of God, reported in his December 14th update that, “Mr. Jim Meredith returned … from the funeral of Mr. Burk McNair, who died recently. He was a long-time Evangelist in another Church of God, but well-known to many of us, and part of the McNair clan. Jim’s mother was a McNair and sister of Burk.”
Jim’s mother was Margie McNair, wife of Roderick Meredith, who presided over the funeral of Carl McNair, Burk’s brother, in 2004.
Jonathan McNair and Rod McNair were pall-bearers at Carl’s funeral – but Burk McNair’s funeral was not an LCG event – he was in “another” Church of God.
Burk McNair died on December 5th, aged 85.
He attained the ‘rank’ of evangelist in the Worldwide Church of God (as did his brother Raymond), and he was a pastor with UCG until his retirement in 2002.
Two other brothers, Marion and Carl, were also WCG ministers.
Victor Kubik writes: “He is the last survivor of the McNair brothers, who many of us have known over the years. He was preceded in death by his wife, Billie Sue, earlier this year. Gary Petty will officiate at his funeral this coming Sunday.
Burk McNair has a full history of faithfulness and service in the ministry. Many of us had the privilege of knowing and working with him. I had gotten to know him best in the early days of the Council of Elders and appreciated his generous and merciful spirit. He will be remembered for his love and study of God’s Word.”
The main part of the President’s update on December 7th concerned “… the need for more working space and video recording facilities. The project called for a separate video studio to be added to the south side of the current building.”
The total cost will be around 1 million dollars.
“Architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and site drawings have now been completed. From these drawings, costs have been more accurately estimated to be $750,000 for construction of the building. Above and beyond the cost of construction has already been an outlay of about $35,500 for these design and architectural drawings, plus various permits.
Our members have been very generous, and the video recording studio fund now stands at just over $700,000! Thank you! So, while the amount currently in that fund is getting close to what is needed for construction, it still is not sufficient.
We have also discussed with the Council the need for contributions to equip the new recording studio with the needed lighting, cameras, audio gear and other incidental equipment. While we plan as much as possible to use existing equipment in the expanded studio, there is still the need for some updated equipment that keeps pace with new technology fitted to the new space. We calculate this to be about $200,000.”