News from Local Congregations
This column includes information sent to us from a variety of groups. Servants News does not necessarily agree with the teachings or practices of these groups. Please ask about them before attending their functions.
Richard Paul Van Sickle and Karmi Joy West were married on May 5th, 2002 in Webberville, Michigan with over 100 guests in attendance. The bridal party consisted of Keely (West) Salisbury and Mary Ann Van Sickle and the Groomsmen were Robert Van Sickle and Kevin Van Sickle. The ceremony consisted of several songs, a brief message about the the history and meaning of marriage by Norman Edwards, scriptures by each member of the wedding party, the reciting of vows written by the couple, a prayer for unity by Darrell West (the Bride’s father), the guests’ group reading of Numbers 6:24–26 and a blessing from two grandfathers. A reception followed.
The ceremony was largely designed by the couple being married. This type of ceremony is much more like one would have found during the time of Christ. The tradition of having a church or government official “pronounce a couple ‘man and wife’” is less than 600 years old and not mentioned in the Bible. (The legal aspects of marriage can be, and in this case were, handled after the ceremony.) I hope that independent congregations everywhere will realize that they can have weddings without the elders of a church hierarchy. More detailed information about this is included in Starting a Local Congregation (see page 2 for contact information). We also have a paper in progress which was partly used in preparation for this ceremony entitled Wedding Ideas. It is not finished, but we will keep track of requests for it and send them when it is finished. If someone is desperate for a copy now, we can send the unfinished version.
The Church of God Fellowship (Lansing area) met at the Perry Township Hall for Pentecost services on May 19. Dr. Alfred Harrell of Christian Leadership Academy was the invited guest speaker. He gave a message and led a discussion—each lasting a couple of hours—regarding what individuals as well as our congregation could do to serve others in the name of God.
One of the best points he made was that the fourth commandment is not just the Sabbath commandment. It is a commandment to work six days and to rest the seventh. There are numerous New Testament scriptures showing us that Christians must do the work of God. One of the difficulties some Sunday-worshiping Christians face when they discover the Sabbath in the Bible is that they often must give up their six days of Christian work if they want to join a group that meets on the Sabbath.
These Bible-studying Christians usually know that Christ will personally lead them into truth and that they should not join a hierarchical group where they must profess belief in a humanly devised doctrinal statement. It is that very belief that allowed them to understand the Sabbath while attending a Sunday-keeping church. That leaves them to look for independent Sabbatarian groups, many of which seem more interested in debating the fine points of doctrine than in preaching the Gospel or serving in their local communities. Many Sunday congregations have extensive programs for helping the poor, comforting the sick, encouraging troubled young people, visiting prisoners, distributing Bibles, preaching to the unconverted, etc. Again, these people ask, “Must I give up Christian work on six days in order to worship on the seventh?”
In the past, the Christian Leadership Academy has conducted local evangelism campaigns and considered offering leadership training courses at its facility in Benton, Arkansas. However, the difficulty for most brethren to be away from their jobs for many weeks at a time has caused them to plan to teach courses on a local or regional basis. Mr. Harrell, who has several advanced degrees in communication and education, has outlined a seven-level course plan:
1. Leadership Theory. Defining leadership and exploring the characteristics that make up leadership. A general overview of humanity’s attempt to influence others.
2. Applied Leadership / Interpersonal Communication. The practical application of the principles covered in level 1. Special attention is given to developing effective interpersonal skills.
3. Theory of Logic/Psychology. The ethical and unethical use of logic is covered in this level. The study of psychology will help explain why we do the things we do.
4. Research Skills / Pursuit of Truth. Developing the proper skills needed for effective research. Understanding how prayer, meditation, studying, and fasting work together. A proper pursuit of truth.
5. Project Management / Evangelism. Selecting and planning projects for servant leadership. Developing the proper spirit for evangelism.
6. Community Involvement/Spiritual Gifts. Developing as a light in your community. Understanding the gifts God has given you and how to serve with those gifts.
7. Field Experience / Stewardship. Opportunities for stewardship are explored in this section. Field experience in mentoring and discipleship will be provided.
Alfred Harrell is willing to teach these courses now, one night per week for 12 weeks, at various regional locations around the country. Teleconferencing has also been discussed. He is also making them into a series of cassette tapes and matching work-books, though only the first of the seven is complete at this time.
Some may look at this course outline and say, “These are just a lot of higher education methods applied to Gospel preaching—where is the Spirit of God in all of this?” But we can say the same thing about most “works” through the past hundreds of years. The WCG grew large from mass media advertising principles being applied to Gospel preaching. The Gideons placed Bibles in nearly ever hotel through a combination of mass-production methods (low cost Bibles) and door-to-door selling. In the 1500s, native-language Bibles were smuggled into many European countries using the same methods that smugglers used to bring in other illegal goods. Smuggling tactics were still used to get Bibles into communist countries in the 1900s. The Seventh Day Adventists have used modern medical practices to build hospitals all over the world and preach their version of the Gospel to millions who were served by them. Numerous missionary groups have used good-old American farming methods to feed the hungry and preach the Gospel in Asian and African nations.
Christ clearly said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” Each of the above groups reached more people than Christ did in his lifetime. Just because their works were not done as “miracles” does not mean that they were not Christian works. Christ did not always miraculously create food, but often received it from others (Luke 8:3). In fact, most miracles in the Bible occur only when normal human efforts are insufficient to do the job There are numerous commands to do good to others by sharing the physical substance that we have within our power (Luke 3:11; 2Cor 8:14; 9:5–9; 1Tim 6:17–18; Heb 13:16; Jms 2:16; 1Jn 3:17). Why should Christ grant us miracle-working power if we are not using abilities we already have for Him?
The courses from Christian Leadership Academy are probably not a one-size-fits-all solution for local congregations needing to learn to work in the name of Christ. But on the other hand, they may well be a big help to a congregation whose members have Bible knowledge, but lack the skills to communicate it to others. If nothing else, they can help turn a congregation from one with no particular goals to teach or serve its community into a congregation with clear goals.
This is a big issue and not something that will be “solved” or “settled” by a single article. But it is an issue that many independent congregations should not ignore. For more information contact Christian Leadership Academy, 406 W South, Benton, Arkansas 72015; 888-776-0002 or 501-776-9900; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Ruth, webmaster for www.BibleStudy.org occasionally receives Bible questions from the hundreds of people that visit that site every day. Some of the questions are very basic; some are complex. A lot more questions will likely be received when he adds an icon specifically offering to answer Bible questions. The current questions vary from simple to complex. Some can be answered by referring them to an article on the site, others should be answerable by any well-grounded Bible student, and some may require a little research. Yes, there may be a few where there seems to be no good answer.
If you would like to dedicate a few hours per week to answering the Bible questions of others, Alan Ruth would very much appreciate it. This seems like an ideal service opportunity for someone who has been studying the Bible most of their lives. If you feel you would like to answer questions only in certain areas (Bible history, Christian living. New Testament, Old Testament, etc.), your help would still be appreciated.
Desired qualities for those serving are:
Anyone who feels they have a spiritual gift for answering Bible questions and would like to serve others in that way should contact Alan Ruth at: email@example.com.
Well, for over two years I have had this idea to somehow create an electronic version of the Companion Bible (or at least the side notes). By its nature, the Companion Bible cries out for interlinked html files.
At first I considered cutting up an entire Companion Bible in order to scan it into my computer and do so-called “character recognition” on it. But my preliminary “character recognition” results demonstrated that it would require just about as much editing time to produce quality results as it would to just type them in.
When I calculated the amount of time it would take me to accomplish such a task, it actually made me lose interest in the whole project (50 years if I work 1 hour per week).
It then occurred to me that there are probably many people who would be willing to help. Also, quite conveniently, I was about to take a course in web-page development. For my final project in the course, I wrote a website that allows multiple users to assist in this project. This website now exists: www.thecompanionbible.com.
My purpose for writing this is to recruit interested parties to help in the “electronifying” (for now) the side notes of the Companion Bible. If we could get 50 people to set aside one hour per week, the entire Companion Bible could be made into an electronic version in a year. Of course, this electronic version will be free to everyone.
What is in it for you:
So if you are interested, go check out the site. You can see the proposal and what part you can play in the project. Check out the “Main page” as well as the “Side notes” page. If you are interested in becoming a member, there is a link on the Main page, near the top, called “Become a member”.
Remember, the more people that help out, the faster we will have an electronic version of the Companion Bible!
If you have any questions, comments, or anything else, please feel free to email me.
— Erik Hartenian
[This is not a “Church of God” effort, but neither was the writing of the Companion Bible or any of the other major Bible helps and reference works that we so frequently use. Many CoG headquarters writers and field ministers made extensive use of Bullinger’s Companion Bible. It is now public domain material, but not yet available on-line. You can be a little part of history by helping with this project. — NSE]
Stanley Robert Rader was the chief legal counsel for the Worldwide Church of God and personal advisor to Herbert Armstrong from 1968 to 1981. He traveled with Mr. Armstrong on many of his overseas visits. Mr. Rader was born August 13, 1930 in White Plains, New York and died July 2, 2002 in Pasadena, California. Only two weeks prior, he had been diagnosed with metastasized pancreatic cancer. He died surrounded by his family and friends, whom he loved and who loved him very much.
Memorial services were held July 5 at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California. The prelude was played by Ross Jutsum, who had directed many WCG musical groups. The opening prayer was given by W. Jack Kessler Jr., a former law-firm partner and WCG member. Mr. Kessler’s daughter, Abigail Laine Kessler read Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. Joseph Tkach, Jr., present head of the Worldwide Church of God gave the eulogy and benediction. Two of Mr. Rader’s children, Stephen Rader and Carol Little also spoke at the service. Janis Rader, his daughter, played the recessional. Mr. Rader is survived by his wife, Niki, his sister Joan Klein, three children and five grandchildren.
Jack Hines was the pastor of Church of God of Colorado Springs, an independent congregation and the publisher of Churchlight magazine. He was born Aug. 29, 1932. and died May 12, 2002. Jack had been hiking, and he and his wife, Evelyn, were awaiting a table for brunch today with their son David when Jack slumped over on Evelyn. He never regained consciousness.
He is survived by his wife, Evelyn Hines; three sons, Richard, Timothy and David; and a daughter, Janice Smith. He was buried in Evergreen cemetery. Evelyn may be reached at PO Box 9901, Colorado Springs, CO 80932-0901.
I remember speaking with Jack Hines on the phone and corresponding with him on a few subjects. I remember receiving great encouragement from him when he asked if he could reprint the front page articles that I wrote for the first issue of Servants’ News. At the time, I thought it was because they were “really good”. In retrospect, I think I would do a much better job today—and quite likely Jack knew that he was giving a young writer encouragement.
I received a number of comments about Jack Hines via e-mail. Here are some excerpts from them:
I had never gotten to meet Jack personally, having only conversed with him via email, but I have heard nothing but saintly good ever spoken of him. Surely his crown is laid up for him. I look forward to meeting him face to face one day.
— Brian Hoeck, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Hines believed in the independence of each congregation and sought to help the independent groups by making available several booklets that could be distributed locally. His magazine often reprinted some articles from other Sabbath observing organizations. I spent time with Jack during the Feast of Tabernacles in 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984. I will always remember Jack's loving politeness, his desire to simplify complexities, and his efforts to seek brief explanations that are easy for the vast majority to comprehend. His soft touch and devotion to the Kingdom has been an inspiration to tens of thousands around the world. He promoted an active faith as did those in Hebrews 11 and sacrificed much of his time to help others, whether directly or indirectly. He hosted the Feast of Tabernacles for many years which was another sacrifice of his time. I look forward to being with him in the resurrection and feel a sense of loss now.
—Herb Solinsky, email@example.com
What I admired most about my Brother Jack was his humbleness and devotion to God’s work and ministry. His zeal to keep his hands to the plow. When someone asks me what I first think of when asked, “What Jack was like?”—my thoughts were always clear as to what he meant to me: He was a Saint of God that had a conversion of heart that was the most gentle, meek, humble—exactly what Christ expects from His Servants.
To me personally, Jack was a confidant to whom I felt so close. Even though I was not blessed to be around him as much as I would have hoped for, I actually felt so at ease and safe around him, that I felt closer and more able to confide in him than my own earthly Father. That was the way Jack was—because of his loving, meek, humble, gentle spirit, he made you feel at home & comfortable. I never heard him ever say a cross or judgmental word against anyone. He may have not been in agreement with many other preachers, ministers, or church groups and their doctrines, but his attitude toward them was not one of self-righteousness nor judgment. If someone was in error or misunderstood scripture, his attitude was one of concern and compassion.
My respect for Jack grew as I got to know him. The more time I spent communicating with him, the more respect I had for the wisdom God had granted to him. His dedication to searching the scriptures, learning Greek, Churchlight Publications, tape ministry, computerized live church services, e-mail correspondence, letter writing, phone calls of encouragement, music ministry, Feast Hosting, road trips of long distances to baptize or marry someone, are just a few examples of a man that gave his life for Christ. Jack was never blessed with a large number of people for weekly physical church attendance, but his ministry stretched out much farther and should be an example to us all. Numbers did not seem to matter nor did the lack thereof quench his spirit of devotion, dedication or zeal to reach out to mankind. It seems that his human effort to touch people spiritually was never ceasing.
He always signed his letters, e-mails, and publications as “Your Humble Servant”. To that he was a living example. Jack always put others above himself. His understanding of what it takes to be a true servant of God and the way in which he put it into practice was a mirror of what the scriptures define. God used Jack in a mighty way for His will here on earth. Jack was the most dedicated man I have ever known.
I do know of one blessing that Jack did receive while here in this earthly state—his blessing of a beautiful wife. Not only is Evelyn beautiful inside and out, her example, set forth as a helpmate, and a Proverbs 14 & 31 woman, helped keep Jack in tune and on beat. She is also an example of the righteousness and blessings of the fulfillment of God's promises to us. If I have ever witnessed a biblical example of the unity of marriage and true proof that we can become “one flesh” through the covenant of marriage, they radiated this example. I cannot even fathom the loss that Evelyn must feel. Let us all daily keep her in prayer cover. I personally cannot even begin to think of my feelings that will surface when I see Evelyn again since this loss. The two were just inseparable in my mind.
I never knew Jack to take any credit for what God gave to him. He always gave the glory to God. And from the remembrance of Jack and his desire and enthusiasm for jogging and hiking I draw now from the Word of God in which is stated:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Heb 12:1–3, NASU).
— Mike Kirk, firstname.lastname@example.org
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or not, publication editors are not people who automatically know
whats going on. The only way we know about significant events
is by somebody telling us, by reading a publication or by asking various
groups what they are planning. We simply do not have time to contact numerous
groups before each issue to get their current news. We receive a lot of
publications, but cannot read all of them. Many groups do not have a publication.