Servants' News

June 1995

Letters and Responses

We print a representative sampling of our mail—both positive and negative. We do not include names unless we are fairly sure that the writer would not object. To avoid any difficulty, writers should specify how much of their name and address they would like us to print.

We include our response to each letter in this type-style. We have selected a title for each letter for easy reference. If writers supply their own title, we will be happy to use it.


Struggling With New Teachings

Letter: June 8, 1995

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your letter of May 5th. It was a great encouragement to me.

You offered an article just being completed: ”Assembling on the Sabbath”. Yes, I would like to have it.

I have great sorrow that these new divisions have sprung up between God’s people in my lifetime. But I know each of us must follow his and her own conscience, and that includes the Pastor General of WCG.

“All things work together for good,” etcetera, and I know these things will eventually too, and I look forward to that time.

I am having a difficult time with some of the explanations and teachings, and I can’t help thinking of them as “loopholes.” Just after I sent a letter of encouragement to Pasadena, thinking perhaps the worst of the rumble was over, comes the new Worldwide News of Tuesday May 23, 1995, and more “in-depth” studies on Sabbath-keeping and on Hebrews 4:9. Just when I thought I had weathered the storms of change, there comes an additional “blowing of wind”. It seems to me all 10 commandments express the will of God and are valid for all time, else why is God going to reveal the ark, the tent, and the altar of incense after He gathers His people together again and shows them mercy? (2 Maccabees 2:4-8.)

Also, why would the Lord insist upon the keeping of the Feast of Booths year after year (Zech 14:16-19) when He arrives to be king over the whole earth (verse9)?

The article in the current issue of the Worldwide News sure is a far cry from the Sabbath-or-Sunday article on page 11 in the Nov/Dec 1990 Good News magazine.

I believe all these things are still valid for us today, not that they in themselves bring salvation, and not the “Jesus plus” the other things (as WCG is currently teaching against), but for me—I keep the Sabbaths not in place of Jesus, or Jesus “plus”—I keep them because of Jesus. I am distressed to know how easily it is to be deceived! I am wondering what the Feast of Tabernacles will bring in the sermons with WCG!!?

Please continue to send whatever you can.

Servant of the Lord,

— J.C., Michigan

Response: We admire your diligence to study and learn. Even though it can be discouraging at times, it is much better to be humble before the Word of the Eternal (Is 66:2), than to feel you have the scriptures understood and your salvation all worked out (John 5:39). We encourage you to keep studying and let our Saviour place you in His body where he sees fit (1Cor 12:18).

— Norman S. Edwards


Back on Track with the Truth

Letter: May 16, 1995

Dear Sir,

Thank you for the first issue of “Servants’ News,” I would appreciate your continuing to send the publication to me. I’m a member of the WCG which is, as you know, in a mass state of confusion. Many of us are struggling to sort thru the confusion and get back on track with the Truth.


— E.D., Texas

Response: Don’t give up!

— Norman S. Edwards


Why So Many Different Groups

Letter: June 12, 1995

Dear Friends,

I’m a former member of the Worldwide Church of God. A year ago when I left, things were really falling apart, but even now there are so many different groups all claiming to have the truth that I’m having trouble sorting them out. I hope you can help.

A friend in the Church of God, International where I have been visiting some told me your literature really makes a lot of sense and is helping him out a lot.

Would it be possible to get a list of material that you offer or some type of help in sorting this all out?

Thank you very much

Yours truly,

— S.H., Missouri

Response: Many others are sharing the same concerns at this time. We all need to be anchored on the Eternal and his word, not on men and organizations. Please see the lead articles in this issue.

— Norman S. Edwards


A Kinder, Gentler, Loving People

Letter: May 31, 1995

Dear Mr. Edwards,

We appreciate the work you are doing—striving to unite. God’s people should be kind, gentle and loving to one another. So many have been deeply hurt by all the divisions in the Worldwide Church of God.

It was a traumatic thing for us to make the decision to leave the WCG but we had to in order to survive spiritually and emotionally. At the present we are attending the GCG as there is a congregation within one hour’s drive. We have been welcomed so wonderfully. What a precious feeling.

Our children are split in different groups now—some due to their spouses preference. We see many families being divided this way and wonder where all this is leading. I’m studying material about the United Church of God. We are leaning toward the way that church is being organized. I think we are now somewhat fearful of trusting any one man. Never again will we put so much confidence in man but will put our trust in God and Christ and pray that He will grant us wisdom.

Please accept our gift to help with your (God’s) work.


— M. & D. B., South Carolina

Response: Thank you for your kind words. We are not trying to unite the Eternal’s people under an organization but to encourage them to be united under Him. You have given good advice.

— Norman S. Edwards


Global or United Church?

Letter: May 25, 1995

Friends of the Brethren:

I read some articles in your news letter about UCG and my ideas about that is: if the Almighty God wants that, it will work and if not it won’t.

Someone [who] wrote that ought to with Global. That is my true feeling that if some of the ministers in UCG need to repent that have a problem with someone and I will not name the person.

Global has been preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and of Jesus Christ for about three years and are far ahead of UCG and I think that it [UCG] is not necessary.

By the way, this is a friend of mine’s new letter.

Everything is what it was after Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong died, in Global. It is growing and it isn’t being knocked down. The telecast is being done as well.

In my opinion I don’t think United Church of God will work. There are problems and disagreements in it.


— Member of Global Church

Response: Many people are asking similar questions about the various church organizations: Are they all necessary? I think your initial paragraph is a good conclusion: “If the Almighty God wants that, it will work and if not it won’t.” We feel that attending the United Church of God is a much better choice than attending an organization that teaches essentially Protestant doctrines. We feel that too many church organizations are spending too much of their effort fighting other church organizations and not enough doing their work (Matt 14:45-51). Paul rejoiced when “Christ is preached,” even though those preaching were not unified (Phil 1:15-18).

I do not think we should be in a hurry to condemn any group that is teaching people to obey the Eternal’s law and to accept the Messiah as their Savior. We might be able to personally feel better if everyone joined the group that we are in, but that would not make us “right.” History shows that the true believers were almost never the largest group.

You mentioned that “some of the ministers in the UCG need to repent that have a problem with someone.” I am sure that a number of people in many congregations have treated others unfairly and need to repent. I pray that they all come to see it and repent. If leaders in a local congregation are treating people unscripturally and will not repent, I would suggest that those who know about the problem follow the steps in Matthew 18:15-17, then find a new congregation if problems are not resolved. If everyone took this approach, the unrepentant leaders would no longer have congregations. On the other hand, we must be careful to realize that not all leaders in a specific organization are of the same character. An organization with one bad leader may have many other good men.

I encourage you to continue serving in the Global Church of God. That organization is making an effort to preach the gospel to the world, and to continue teaching people the truth as they understand it.

You did not ask to receive Servants’ News in your letter, so I have not added you to the mailing list. However, if you would like to receive it, please let us know.

May the Eternal bless you as you seek to obey Him!

— Norman S. Edwards


Military Government Continued

Letter: May 25, 1995

Dear Norm,

Received your Newsletter. Very impressive. Would like a copy of “How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans?”

I went straight from the US Military into the Worldwide Church of God. The only change in government I observed was that Officers were now called Ministers, and Sergeants were now called Deacons.

I was told that “Church Government” was “God’s Government,” but it looked like a version of the US Military Government to me. It disturbed me that the church embraced such a worldly form of government. But Mr. Armstrong’s expounding of the Bible made sense to me, even if “Church Government” did not.

[personal paragraph removed]

Have a good Sabbath,

— H.C., Altadena, CA

Response: It is important to realize that Herbert Armstrong studied government in the 1930’s and came up with a conclusion far different than his practice in later years. Many of the original articles on top-down government that were published in the 1950’s were not written by him but by his assistants. In the 70’s and 80’s, other men continually told Mr. Armstrong that he was the “one man that God was using.” It is obvious that some of those men were more interested in the finances of the organization than its message—when they left the organization they pursued financial careers rather than continue to teach the truth on their own.

We also must realize that Herbert Armstrong was probably unaware of how his Government was being carried out at the local levels during the 70’s and 80’s. Both you and I worked and attended services at the Pasadena campus for most of those years and we had never had a chance to speak to Mr. Armstrong in person. Nevertheless, the government problems were very real. We certainly cannot use mistakes of the past to justify making the same mistakes again.

— Norman S. Edwards


Joining Without Proving

Letter: May 23, 1995

I received a copy of your newsletter from a friend who is confused and worried about certain changes in the WCG.

I have left the organization to take time to prove all things, to study, to pray and meditate on what God is allowing to occur in the WCG, To one day hold fast to that which is good and to always obey God rather than men.

My desire is to know God’s Truth whatever it may be—regardless if it shakes the very foundation of my present and past beliefs. Sometimes we hold fast to those things we were taught even when we did not prove them, only because a man or an organization we believed to be God’s only True Church told us so.

I’m amazed that so many have left the WCG to join other organization without proving “their” doctrinal beliefs. It’s funny and sad that these organizations are claiming that now they are God’s true church and no other [church is] and they have the “truth” and no other [has it]. Yet, brethren left the WCG because of similar changes to flock to another which is similar but not the same as the WCG before these changes took place. I wonder, how many in these organizations are proving all things said to them?

The reason I am writing is because I liked what you wrote and although I am not in agreement with everything, you do present a sincere desire to know “God’s Truth” not mans.

Please tell me more about your group, your mission statement and doctrinal beliefs and your goals for the future. Also, put me on your mailing list.

Thank you,

— A.G., New Jersey

Response: Our desire is much like yours, to understand the Eternal’s Truth regardless of what we have believed for years. We believe the Bible is His word, we believe in doing His commandments, we believe in the need for a savior. When we study a subject, we write an article about it, but our list of subjects we would like to study is much longer than our list of subjects about we feel we have a thorough Biblical understanding.

We know of many Sabbath-keeping groups that appear to have a thorough understanding of almost everything. The only problem is, they don’t agree. Some groups have researched certain subjects thoroughly, and seem to just give a “standard explanation” for others. As you so well pointed out, just because we learned a lot of provable, Biblical truth through Herbert Armstrong and his organization, it does not mean that everything taught was correct. Once we find someone that is right about some of our big questions, we think we can trust them for everything. Of course, the situation was compounded by leaders which in some cases told us that “God only works through one organization” and we must trust it or get out.

We thank you for your encouragement and welcome well-researched, spirit-guided study of others.

— Norman S. Edwards


What is “God’s Work”?

Letter: May 23, 1995

Thank you for sending Servants’ News; it is a welcomed and informative newsletter.

Especially appreciated is the reprint of Herbert Armstrong’s 1939 article. In addition, Mr Ray Wooten’s letter and the article “Local Church Autonomy vs Central Control” offers your readers a truth that has been suppressed for years. Hopefully those who willingly and actively participate in the hierarchical form of control over God’s elect will find food for thought here. I would like to offer a suggestion that may further enlighten God’s people about which type of “system” or “government” would be best. This has to do with “God’s Work,” as it is phrased.

You stated in your article, “But be doers” on page 21, half way down in column three, that ; “The Eternal may well do his greatest work through groups. I noticed also in Vol. 1 No 1 of your newsletter other references to “God’s Work” as being done by certain groups or people.

God’s people are generally looking for where “God’s Work” is being done in order for them to be able to support that effort. Yet nearly everyone and every “group” claim that they are doing “God’s Work.” One man in California claims that he is doing “the only end-time work of God.” Its therefore very confusing and frustrating for someone looking for a church home to decide which group or which man is “doing God’s Work.”

My suggestion therefore is that you help your readers decide just where and with whom God is doing his “Work.” Part of that information should of course include a definition as to what exactly is “God’s Work” in these end-times.

There are a number of excellent articles on the subject available. However I have found the taped messages and articles of Jim Rector to be the most concise and Biblically accurate of anyone’s. I’m sure he would be glad to offer this information to your readers in helping them decide where and with whom “God’s Work” is being done today.

Keep up the good work; it is a great service to these exiting tyrannical, overlord organizations calling themselves “Church of God.”


— R.P., Kansas City, MO

Response: Your point is well taken. An article answering the question, “What is God’s Work” would be very helpful. Jim Rector is quite willing to share whatever publications he has with us, so we will make it available as soon as time allows. [Jim Rector may be contacted directly at the address given for Cornerstone Publications on page 6.]

We did a quick study of the subject and found that most descriptions of His work was something done in individual people (Mark 13:14, 1Cor 3:13-15, 15:58, 16:10, 2Cor 9:8, Gal 6:4, Phlp 1:6, 1Th 1:3, Heb 6:10, 1Pet 1:17, Rev 2:23, 3:1, 22:14). There are some references to specific jobs that specific people were given to do (John 4:34, 7:21, 17:4, Acts 13:2, 14:26, Eph 4:12, 2Tim 4:5). We find a few references to the Eternal’s work as a whole (Acts 13:41, Rom 9:8, 14:20).

We could not find any mention of the “work of a Church” or “work of a congregation” or “work” of a specific group of people. We never find the holy spirit given to a group, it is always given to individuals—who may attend a local congregation. It would have been more correct for us to say “The Eternal may well do his greatest work through individuals that are members of groups,” rather than just “greatest work through groups.” In any case, we were not trying to judge where the greatest work was done, but merely state that much good work had been done with people structured into a group. (The Eternal taught me much of the truth of the Bible through a radio broadcast supported by the contributions of a group of people.)

We would like to comment on your final paragraph. Most “Church of God” organizations are not “tyrannical overlords.” If you read their foundational documents, they talk about love, fairness, adherence to Biblical principles, etc. It is the people that make them tyrannical. Some people spent years in “Church of God” groups and had the good fortune to work primarily with leaders that feared the Eternal and sought righteousness. Others were much less fortunate. Each will have to answer for what they have done.

“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves through the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1Pet 1:17).

— Norman S. Edwards


Not Affiliated, but Attend

Letter: May 31, 1995

Friends of the Brethren,

We have had the opportunity to see the newsletters and would very much like to receive them. We have recently discontinued all other religious publications because of the biased nature of most. Seeing your statement that you do not publish materials that attack individuals or organizations, or that claim there is only one human organization through which the Eternal works tells me that yours is a publication that could be very useful for personal growth.

Is the literature listed on the back cover of the April issue available? If so, I am interested in receiving “The Worldwide Church of God Splits: Their Triumphs and Troubles” by Allen Ruth.

FYI, we have been members of the Body of Christ for nearly 25 years. My husband and I were married in the WCG, and have three children, the oldest of which just finished her freshman year at Ambassador University. Currently, we are not officially affiliated with any group, though we fellowship with a Sabbath-keeping church.

Thank you for this service you are providing. We look forward to receiving the newsletter!

— J. & S. B., Michigan

Response: All of the literature on the back cover is available free of charge. We see no need to be affiliated with a particular group, though everyone should endeavor to understand their spiritual gifts and to use them to serve in some way. That process often takes time. We need to understand our purpose, what gifts we have, and how and where we can best use them.

— Norman S. Edwards


Prayer Request for Healing

Letter: May 23, 1995

Dear Norman,

Enclosed is a check to help you with your mailings. I have been inspired by your writings! Keep up the good work! Please keep in mind, too, that besides trying to read piles of literature we all are trying to make a living and trying to keep our heads above water in a culture that is rapidly sinking. Conciseness and pointedness will be very helpful in getting your views across. I don’t view anything you’ve written as being wordy, but an effort to really get to the point on all matters is essential now.

My best friend, Craig Hodkins of Kansas City, is suffering from toxic onset diabetes due to his work in porcelain refinishing. He was also kicked out of his house by a “church member” [organization name and identity withheld] who renigged on a verbal agreement when more money could be bade due to appreciation of the property’s value. Due to insulin caused tissue neuropathy, Craig can hardly walk. He is homeless, jobless and in great pain. He also has a wife and two daughters. He was self-employed and has no insurance and doesn’t qualify for Social Security. Your prayers and maybe a small mention in your newsletter would be much appreciated.

Craig stood up for the truth long ago and never accepted the error that so many have swallowed.

Your brother,

— L.W., Golden Colorado

Response: Thank you for the encouragement and the prayer request. We will keep your request for conciseness in mind. We hope our readers will join us in prayer for your friend. As James 5;16 says: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

— Norman S. Edwards


Sharing the Gospel Message

Letter: June 10, 1995

Dear Norm,

Warm greetings to you and your family from me and my dear wife Carol.

We thank you most sincerely for the initiative that you and your small group have taken to inform, nourish and bring together many brethren who are scattered. Your non-partisan approach to recognizing and advertising the various efforts of others who are committed to serving God according [to] their understanding and conscience is especially appreciated. Most of us have been guilty of rallying behind the banner of a specific organization being convicted that this is where the truth is and that this is where God is doing His work, not willing to consider that God could be working somewhere else, too. When Elijah thought he was all alone in his commitment to God—the only one serving the true God—that very God informed him how mistaken he was. Whether or not Elijah simply failed to recognize the works of others or did not know of them at all, the reality was that 7,000 others had not bowed the knee to Baal and were witnesses to Yahweh. You acknowledgment of this same reality today shows a balance and understanding that will do more to unite the body of Christ than organizations can ever hope to do.

The May issue of Servants’ News with the 1939 article on church government by Herbert Armstrong puts the finger on a major cause of division—partisanism in an organizational structure straight out of Babylon! Perhaps the greatest service you will do is to continue to make that article available and to promote its message to all those who must come out of Babylon if they are to avoid being partakers of her plagues.

As time goes on there will be more and more people coming out of Her, Babylon, and like Elijah, they may begin to sense that they are all alone. But being all alone, being unable to enjoy regular fellowship, having a sense of isolation may not be so bad. The notion that most of us had that the bride was the Church, made up of local congregations where everyone enjoyed the camaraderie and togetherness which organizations provide is not supported by the Scriptures. A recent study I did revealed that the bride of Christ, who will have made herself ready by removing spot, wrinkle and blemish, will be gathered together to Zion, one from a city and two from a family! [Jer 3:14.] The elect will be gathered from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other [Zech 2:6, Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27]. From what I see, chances are more than good that the form of fellowship in the very end time will, at best, be through such endeavors as Friends of the Brethren, letter writing and the telephone.

Here is what brought about our sense of isolation: our commitment to share the gospel message. Our focus throughout our years in the WCG was to assist in the preaching of the gospel message throughout the world. Why? Nothing had changed our lives like the knowledge of God’s purpose, that He was committed to bringing many sons and daughters to glory, and that He was going to establish a kingdom based upon the purest principles of righteousness which would bear fruit in spreading peace throughout the vastness of the universe forever. To come into harmony with this purpose was the most delightful, energizing, motivating, captivating, satisfying thing we could imagine. When Yahshua [Jesus] said that His Father had been working until now and that He had been working, and when He shared the knowledge of what they were working on, nothing was more fulfilling than to work with them. This we did under the leadership provided by Herbert Armstrong. There was never any doubt in our mind that He was committed to the great commission and to assist him financially and with prayers, in setting up PT news stands and anything else we could do was our joy. In the years since his death, however, the Father’s business that was given into the trust of the saints has fallen by the wayside.

Because of the organizational structure in place when we came into the fellowship of the WCG, we had accepted the roll where we were cast as helpers of another who was spearheading the work. Since Mr. Armstrong’s death, as the scope of the work began to diminish steadily, we began to search for another whose arms we could help hold up. To our dismay we found none who would remain faithful to the great commission. Perhaps we needed to be more broad-minded about the preaching of the gospel, but from the standpoint of our conscience and our knowledge of the joy of the gospel message, we had to be faithful in declaring it and it alone. So it is that we, like many others, have had to separate from organizations so as to not cause division and to be faithful to our conviction.

We have characterized the things that Yahweh [God the Father] does, His works, and His ministries. When Yahshua was about His Father’s business, He was about the ministries of Yahweh. He was an ambassador, a minister of the gospel, a promoter of His Father’s purposes, a minister to the needs of people, a servant. The things that Yahshua did were the things He saw His Father do. The words He spoke were not His own words, but were the words His Father gave Him to speak. He performed the ministries of His Father Yahweh. This is what we see our responsibility to do, not to establish ourselves as an organization or to promote ourselves in any way, but to perform the ministries of our Father as they have been committed unto His people to discharge. We see as our injunction, or mandate, to share the gospel message with as many as we can, and then to help those who embrace it to learn to do the things Yahshua commanded, to be helpers of their joy, to help bring them into an everlasting fellowship with their Father and their Savior. In working toward this great commission we have published a booklet called GOD’S PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE. We would be delighted to share it with any who are thinking of doing something similar in their locality. The understanding that we are to be so-doers does not permit us the option of standing by in idleness because we cannot find anyone deemed worthy whose arms we can help hold up. Our Christian stewardship is what we do with the talent, our Master’s goods which have been given to us.

Again, Norm, to you and to your small band of helpers, thanks for your stewardship and your efforts to bring unity to the body of Messiah.

May the grace of the only true God be with you.

Your brother in Messiah,

— Fred McGovarin
R.R. 2, Hastings, ON
Canada, K0L 1Y0

Response: Thank you for your long letter. You have mentioned several subjects that we would like to study and produce articles about. We would be interested in hearing more about your research. We will contact you about making your booklet available to Servants’ News readers. May the Eternal bless you in your studies and your efforts to teach others.

— Norman S. Edwards


“We Needed Some Stirring Up”

Letter: March 26, 1995

To: Friends of the Brethren

A friend lent me a copy of a newsletter they received. There’s no date on it, but it talks of the Sabbath being holy, Pork Chops...?, Is there one right group..., etc. My husband found it encouraging as our Sabbath/Holy-day keeping church is being deceived and divided. But God is allowing the deception I think to test us to see who will continue to follow his truth or not. We needed some stirring up. It’s caused me to recapture my first love and prove things again. I’m actually looking at the Passover service we do each year on the eve of the 14th. I’m wondering if that is the wrong night. Do you have any information or input according to scripture on the true Passover observance?

Enclosed is part of our tithe for the newsletter. We would like to continue receiving any encouraging letters as such. I really think God may be drawing more Sabbath groups together. Our church always taught we were the only true church. But God says the “Churches of God” are wherever His Spirit is guiding in Truth.

Thank you,

— J. & P. M., Washington

Response: We have read several papers on the Passover and begun compiling one of our own, but it is not ready for publication yet. The major difficulties centers around whether the Old Testament lamb was slain at the beginning of the 14th or near the end of the 14th. In the New Testament, we must resolve the question of why the Messiah apparently ate the Passover one day before the Jews were eating it. There are difficult scriptures to explain no matter which approach one takes. Several papers claim that certain scriptures have been altered; almost all of them will point out several verses which they feel have been mis-translated in most English Bibles.

Unfortunately, many papers start by telling their readers that they are probably not going to be saved unless they are keeping the Passover according to the way specified within. This tends to raise emotions instead of helping us find the truth.

When we have information available on the Passover, we will put it in the literature section of Servant’s news.

— Norman S. Edwards


Found a Place to Meet

Letter: June 20, 1995

Mr. Edwards,

Thank you for your help a month or so back. I contacted Mr. Ritenbaugh and am very grateful I did so. I never realized the condition of the WCG until I received your news letters. They have been a big help for me. As I told you in our telephone conversation, I had not been able to attend services and couldn’t get help from our minister. I feel like I am again a part of God’s church. I receive a tape each week and also some literature. I am sending a small donation to you and pray that your services will be as helpful to others as they were to me. I would like to ask for a copy of The WCG Splits by Alan Ruth. I appreciate your approach of not attacking groups , organizations, or individuals.

May God bless your work as it helps others.

Thank you,

— L. F., North Carolina

Response: We are happy to help you find a fellow-servant.

— Norman S. Edwards

Back to front page   June 1995 Index
Latest Issue   Previous Issues    Literature List   About Servants' News
Directly Helping    Contact    Help   Search this site    Receive SN for free
Permission is granted to reproduce any article in its entirety