Volume 11, Number 1, July-August 2007
The above photo is my entrance badge for the General Conference Convention
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.
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
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.
international flavor of the conference was very apparent. There were representatives from
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
Sabbath Experience message by Conference
President Whaid Rose started with some of the history of the
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
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.
General Conference President Calvin Burrell’s presentation on
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 “
churches in northwest
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?
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
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
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 ?). 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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