The Long Island COG Fellowship has been meeting since the early nineties. In 1993, 32 members regularly attended. Nick Viola, the leader of the fellowship, then approached the Global Church of God about becoming one of their congregations. Dave Pack was sent to meet with the group. After a few meetings together, it was clear that neither the independent study format nor the T-shirt and jeans worn by Nick (and most of the fellowship) fit the GCG image. The GCG headquarters told Nick it was best if he quit meetings, disband, and tell his group to just send tithes to the GCG. After having built up the GCG to the congregation, their refusal to accept them so disheartened the group that Nick says they gradually dispersed.
[I was working for the GCG headquarters at this time and remember hearing about this from the office—I thought it was sad that the GCG could not work with Nick Viola, but I had no idea that the group broke up. — NSE]
Later, the group got together again with people from various COG backgrounds including the WCG, CGI and GCG. As time went on, the original membership changed so that most of the ten to fourteen people now attending have no “Church of God” background. Yet, they are now keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days as well as learning other truths. In fact, two new ladies are presently being counseled for baptism.
When asked how the fellowship has been able to reach and attract so many people without a COG background, Nick replied that it is personal contacts and evangelism, people reaching out to other people.
Comment: This writer recalls Ron Dart of Christian Educational Ministries mentioning several times that even though the WCG spent hundreds of millions of dollars on TV, radio, and advertising, nevertheless about one half of new members came as a result of personal evangelism, a member bringing someone else into the church.
The Long Island Fellowship Sabbath home meeting hosts are taking on a sabbatical so the fellowship presently meets three or four times a month for an extended Friday night bible study. The study is completely interactive, anyone is free to speak on a pre-determined broad subject. The members feel very strongly that yes, iron does sharpen iron. The group also believes in testimonies from its members showing that we are living epistles of Christ living in us and that much of Christianity is showing by example. Nick also mentioned he feels it is important to establish in prospective members why God is there before getting into a lot of do’s and don’t’s.
Their meetings start with group prayer. Nick felt this is an important and especially-rewarding part of their study. The group prayers last as long as fifteen minutes and bring a welcome feeling of peace to start the meeting.
The fellowship is presently working on setting up a web site. They are also looking at the Sky Angel cable network as a possibility for an outreach program.
Visitors are welcome. Some without a COG background have come 200 miles. Contact:
LICOGF, PO Box 396,
N Massapequa, NY 11758; www.licogf.com e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
— “One Third Century In CoGs”
The Family Sabbath Keepers are a small fellowship of about four households, with some occasional visitors. Their background has been the WCG and the CGI. They were meeting with a larger group, but because of the distance and time involved, decided about a year ago to have their own fellowship.
They meet Sabbaths at 1:30 p.m. The meeting place alternates every week so all the households are able to serve as hosts. The meetings are very interactive, anyone can volunteer to pick a topic, lead a discussion, or make a presentation. The formal part of the meeting lasts about two hours. A potluck lunch follows. Then fellowship and enjoying each others company can go well into the evening.
Although Ken Kitzke is considered the Elder, he emphasized the group does not want one person running things. Instead they want a close relationship, with everyone using their various spiritual gifts, with everyone making a contribution. Ken feels the secret is involvement, not to be served, but to have something to give others.
One of the fun things they do as a small fellowship is visiting other groups. They have gone as far as Morgantown, West Virginia and Akron, Ohio on their visits..
Ken would be glad to hear from you. His number is (724) 468-8076 or e-mail at LawstSheep@aol.com. Another contact person would be his son, Timothy Kitzke at (412) 826-1811.
— “One Third Century In CoGs”
Summary of Small Groups & Evangelism Articles
Name of Group
City & State
|Jan/Feb 2000||(unnamed)||Carolyn Adreeser||Vero Beach, FL|
|COG 7th/Sabbath Day||Tom Justus||
|(unnamed)||Richard Fox||Nashville, TN|
|Mar/Apr 2000||COG Miami||Tony Fontao||Miami, FL|
|COG New Mexico||John Shavers||Albuquerque, NM|
|Heartland Fellowship||Len Newbert||Middletown, OH|
|May/Jun 2000||(unnamed)||Neil Carson||Grant, FL|
|Midlands COG||Ralph Hanahan||Columbia, SC|
|(unnamed)||Wes Gordon||Tulsa, OK|
|Jul/Aug 2000||Active Bible COG||Michael Lineacre||Chicago, IL|
|(unnamed)||Marc Amino||Mesa, AZ|
|(unnamed)||Karen Brinkley||Linthicum, MD|
|Sep/Oct 2000||(unnamed)||John Canter||Fairfax, VA|
|COG Berean Fellowship||Hal Geiger||Milwaukee, WI|
|(unnamed)||Kim Snyder||Livonia, MI|
|Nov/Dec 2000||COG Downers Grove||Ken Svehla||Downers Grove, IL|
|(unnamed)||Laura Lee||Bismark, ND|
|May/Jun 2001||Long Island COG Fellowship||Nick Viola||Long Island, NY|
|Family Sabbath Keepers||Ken Kitzke||Delmont, PA|