Volume 11, Number 1, July-August 2007

The above photo is my entrance badge for the General Conference Convention of the Church of God (Seventh Day), July 2-7, 2007 in Overland Park, Kansas. Over 1100 brethren came—from nearly every state in the USA, plus 24 other countries.

Conference Schedule (abbreviated)

Breakfast was served from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. and lunch from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. every day. A special dining room was usually set aside for a specific group: Men’s Prayer, Senior’s Prayer, Editor’s Circle, General Conference Ministries, Spring Vale Academy staff/graduates, Issachar Forum (ministry), Pastors and Wives, North American Women’s Ministries, Ministries Training System

A morning devotion was held from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. every morning, which consisted of a few songs and a brief message. All ages were combined at the main services and some of the session, but separate programs for young children, teens, and young adults were available most of the day.

For those with boundless energy, evening “afterglow” fellowship was available from 9:30 - 10:30 p.m.

Monday — July 2

7:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Golf Outing

10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Family Day - Oceans of Fun / Worlds of Fun & other attractions

6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Welcome Event

Tuesday — July 3

9:15 - 10:30 a.m. Workshop Choice:

  9 Marks of a Healthy Church; Jeff Endecott

  Point of Impact - The Muslim Invasion - When Civilizations Collide; Bill Hicks

  Kingdom and Culture; Amber Riggs

10:45 - 11:45 a.m. “My Utmost for His Highest...My Best for the King”; Larry Marrs and LITES

2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Business Session, “State of the Conference” Address

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Evening Service: “A Journey with Jesus”, Richard Cress

Wednesday — July 4

9:15 - 10:30 a.m. Workshop Choice:

  Becoming Living Bridges - Part 1; Larry Marrs

  Navigating the Highs and Lows of Parenting; Ken and Mary Jean Knoll

  Staying Physically Fit for the Journey - Part 1; Art and Martha Cummings

  Child Abuse (Spanish); Jose Luis Luevano

10:45 - 11:45 a.m. “The Sabbath Exper­ ience”; Whaid Rose

2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Business Session

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Evening Service: “Our Nation and Our Church”, Tim Endicott

Thursday — July 5

9:15 - 10:30 a.m. Workshop Choice:

  Becoming Living Bridges - Part 2; Larry Marrs

  Staying Physically Fit for the Journey - Part 2; Art and Martha Cummings

  A Celebration of Hope & Life (overcoming the past); San and Darla Mills, Linda Michalak

  Christians and Depression; Dr. Clarence Duff

  Mentoring and Discipleship (Spanish); Jose Luis Ramirez

10:45 - 11:45 a.m. “Healing the Wounded Heart”; Ken Davis (guest speaker, www.kendavis.com)

2:00 - 3:30 p.m. Symposium on Church Planting

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Evening Service: “Tips for the Trip”, Ken Lawson

Friday — July 6

9:15 - 10:30 a.m. Workshop Choice:

  Overcoming the Trauma of Sexual Abuse (women only); Maria Holland

  Overcoming the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse (men only); Dr. Clarence Duff

  Cultivating a Culture of Generosity; Paul Forbes

  Slow Me Down, Lord (Spanish); Carlos Ceron

10:45 - 11:45 a.m. “Destined for Grace” (history of Seventh Day Church) Calvin Burrell

2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Business Session

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Evening Service: “Sidetracked in the Wilderness”, Whaid Rose

Sabbath — July 7

9:30 - 12:00 noon. Morning Service:  Children’s Program, Parade of Nations, message: “Until the Victory”—Ramon Ruiz Garaza

2:00 - 3:30 p.m.. Spring Vale Academy Sound and Action Performance.

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Evening Service: “Celebrate the Journey”, Elder Robert Coulter


The feeling there was much like a Feast of Tabernacles at a very good independent site. There were services, numerous workshops, meals together and activities for all ages. The sight and sound of brethren fellowshipping was continual—in the hallways, meeting rooms and eating places. This writer found every session he attended valuable and uplifting. Opportunity for the participants questions and comments were frequent and occasionally demanded: “Break up into groups of eight and discuss this subject!”

There were only two major things that would lead this writer to believe that he was not at a well-organized Feast of Tabernacles:

1)   Three afternoon sessions were devoted to the meetings of the General Conference of the Church of God Seventh Day.

2)   There were not the Feast-day related messages common at a Feast of Tabernacles. Nevertheless, at the last service of the last day, Conference President, Whaid Rose, cited John 7:37-38, where Jesus was speaking on “that great day of the Feast”, promising rivers of living water to flow out from whoever believes on Him. Mr. Rose encouraged each believer attending to be a source of that living water as they leave that “feast”.

The Right Balance

This writer found the Convention and the Church of God (Seventh Day) (abbreviated CG7 hereafter) that sponsors it to have achieved a very good balance in many areas: enough structure to get things accomplished, but not too much to prevent innovation and flexibility.

Upon arriving early, registration packets were seen neatly boxed and ready to go with numerous people there to distribute them. Yet a person remained on duty to distribute the packets to those who arrived several days late. The packets contained everything a new-comer needed to benefit from the conference without being an information overload. Most people wore the issued nametags, which were helpful, but admittance to events was not denied if one forgot or lost their tag.

Display space and some presentation time were allotted to a variety of ministries—from those completely directed and funded by the CG7, to “para-Church” ministries consisting of CG7 members but with their own budget and administration, to ministries that work with multiple church organizations. This writer—without asking permission—put a stack of Servants’ News on an empty table in a main walkway with a sign saying “take one”. Most of the stack was taken and no one complained.

There was very much a sense that God is doing the work and people are serving him, each in their own humble way. The CG7 has made an effort to ac­ knowl­ edge that God works through groups other than theirs. They realize that most Christian Bible translations, study materials, music and evangelism are not the product of Seventh Day groups. As conference President Whaid Rose stated, “We are Protestant. We protested the Catholic Church and embraced ‘sola scriptura’ [the Bible alone is our guide, not church tradition]. We just protested more than the rest.”

The leaders and the people were very friendly and helpful, not pushy or self-promoting. Many friendly people introduced themselves to me, and I never felt that they were doing it out of obligation or to get me to support a ministry. The people to whom I introduced myself were also responsive and friendly—even those who did not speak English.

The international flavor of the conference was very apparent.  There were representatives from Australia, Cameroon, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Ukraine and Uruguay; in addition to many people from South and Central American countries. There are over 200,000 CG7 brethren in Central and South America, with varying degrees of affiliation with this Denver-based group. Over 100 people were attending from these countries in addition to many Spanish-speaking brethren from the USA. Simultaneous translation was available for the services and the programs were printed in both English and Spanish. While most of the congregational singing was in English, some worship teams alternated verses between English and Spanish—all words being displayed by video projection equipment.

The main part of the service also made good use of the video projectors and cameras. In the large rooms, the big-screen projection of the speaker made it easy to see his face and his expressions from anywhere in the room. While services were two to three hours long, they almost always consisted of more than half an hour of congregational singing (a variety of styles of music), numerous special music pieces, short video clips or other presentations, and less than an hour of “main message”.

There is not space to cover all of the worthwhile messages and workshops that this writer attended.  So, we will hit those things that we believe might be of most interest.

The Sabbath Experience

The Sabbath Experience message by Conference President Whaid Rose started with some of the history of the church of God (Seventh Day) organization: In 1852, Joseph Banks walked into the Battle Creek Post Office and asked for the name of the most honest man in that city. He was given the name David Hewitt. Banks sought out Hewitt, whereupon he presented Hewitt with his study paper on the Sabbath. Hewitt began keeping the Sabbath that same week and was shortly followed by his friend Gilbert Cranmer. In 1858 Cranmer started an organization called the Church of Jesus Christ, which later underwent some name changes, but which has a continual succession down to the present Church of God (Seventh Day).

In the past, some CG7 preachers have taught that the ten commandments are a spiritual law and must be kept to obtain salvation, whereas the ceremonial law of Moses was “done away” at Jesus’ death. The truth is that nobody was ever saved by keeping either law, but that doing God’s commandments is one of the fruits of conversion. The fourth commandment is not a Jewish institution, but provision for the vital need for rest and worship for all mankind that God instituted at creation. All teaching that Sabbath-keeping has been eliminated or “changed to Sunday” is false. Keeping the Sabbath does not violate the New Covenant any more than refraining from murder, adultery, theft, etc.

In Exodus 31:13-17, the Sabbath is also given as a sign between God and the physical nation of Israel, which they were to preserve by carrying out the death penalty for people who worked on it. The Church was never commissioned to use this as a sign or to carry out such penalties. The signs of true Believers are “Christ in us” (Col 1:17) and that we “love one another” (John 13:35).

We cannot declare people unbelievers because they break the Sabbath in ignorance any more than we dishonor our parents, steal, lie or covet in ignorance. We need to reach others with both the command of the Sabbath and the blessings of the Sabbath. We do not need to reach them with a lot of man-made rules for Sabbath behavior. The presentation ended with a few minutes of professional video made for future promotions showing the need for the Sabbath in an overworked world.

Church of God History

Former General Conference President Calvin Burrell’s presentation on Church of God history was most informative. He has numerous relevant old documents and photos. He confirmed that the first Sabbath keepers in the USA were Seventh Day Baptists in the 1700s. The CG7 came from the “Great Awakening”, a time that spawned new groups such as Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons. and the Millerites. William Miller interpreted Bible prophecy believing in a literal return of Christ on the Day of Atonement in 1843—then 1844. This failed, creating the Great Disappointment. From that errant Millerite movement came the Advent Christian Church (meeting on Sunday), the Seventh Day Adventists and, eventually, the Church of God Seventh Day.

Burrell disagreed with A History of the True Religion by A. N. Dugger and C.O. Dodd, which concludes that there was one true Sabbath-Observing church with an organizational name of the “Church of God” since first century. The individuals most concerned about the “Church of God” name were among the Seventh Day Adventists and they eventually lost their case. While the organization started by Gilbert Cranmer has continued to this day, it has undergone some name changes. The names of the early Michigan, Iowa and Missouri congregations were more often “Church of Christ”, Church of Jesus Christ, and other variants.

The churches in northwest Missouri grew the fastest, with Stanberry Missouri becoming the place of church publishing and ministry.  Over 1200 people attended a convention there in the 1880’s. The church continued to grow for about 50 years with some minor difficulties. In 1933, the church divided between Salem, W.V., and Stanberry branches. There was a lot of infighting which caused many people to leave both groups. CG7 elder Herbert Armstrong left at this time to found the Radio Church of God, later renamed the Worldwide Church of God. In 1947-1949, the Salem and Stanberry groups got back together, again, agreeing to put their office in a new city: Denver, Colorado.

Much of the information in this presentation is in The Story of the Church of God Seventh Day, by Robert Coulter; Bible Advocate Press. This writer was able to meet Mr. Coulter breifly at the conference. In their efforts to reach out, the CG7 leaders invited numerous other Sabbatarian groups to the conference. Some groups sent speakers or representatives. Dr Samuels, president of a Seventh Day Baptist group, said that Sabbath keepers have too long separated themselves from each other. C. Wayne Cole, a long-time WCG leader, gave a prayer at one service.

Ken Davis on Christian Love

Ken Davis, a Christian comedian and inspirational speaker, made an enjoyable hour presentation. While I would not consider him a resource for doctrine, he made an excellent point that many Sabbatarians need: if we do not have love between the members of our own families, what right do we have taking our “Christianity” to the rest of the world? How many Sabbatarians claim to know so much truth, but are not at peace with their own spouses and children?

LITES Ministries

The lack of young people that remain in evangelical Christian churches—and in the CG7—was mentioned by several conference presenters. To stem that tide Larry Marrs founded LITES (Leaders-In-Training for Evangelism and Service). He obtained use of the old  CG7 facilities in Stanberry, Mo., for a training program for young adults. The focus of the program is on personal spiritual growth and training and practice for ministry at a variety of levels. Students can attend up to three years and there were nine students attending this past year.

LITES Ministries differs from the plan for Port Austin Bible Campus in that PABC focuses on vocational training along with Christian education, mentoring and fellowship. This writer wishes that there were dozens of these kinds of programs rather than just a few. Contact LITES Ministries at PO Box 172, Stanberry, MO 64489; 660-783-9544; lites@cog7.org.

Conference Meeting

It was wonderful to see that the affairs of this organization were conducted in a peaceable Christian manner at meetings that anyone could attend and in which all members were able to vote. It was nothing like the politics and controversy so common in secular elections. There were four positions open on the CG7 board and eight candidates in the election. Each candidate wrote their priorities for service in a handout, which was given to the members.

Each member could then cast up to four votes. The totals were posted and the candidates receiving the most votes became the new board members: Chip Hinds, Melvin Sweet, John Tivald and Larry Zaragoza. In a situation where the membership chooses the leaders, there can be little complaint against them. The meeting’s tone was such that God was choosing through the members, and that they would all work together no matter who was chosen.

Any member had the right to submit a proposal, have it heard, and have the entire Conference vote upon it. A proposal to change the holding for the Convention from ever 2 years to every 3 or 4 years was quickly defeated. The people seemed to want more, not less. (Ex 23:14?). If this writer has any suggestion, it is to use less expensive facilities so that more people can attend. Otherwise, “Well done!” &


by Norman Edwards

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