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.
This section is for short articles or letters about activities of local congregations. We will mention local congregations as they form or as we learn of significant news. Groups listed in this section may have some doctrines or policies which we cannot justify from the scriptures, but we believe most of them are a reasonable place for fellowship with the brethren. We believe the holy spirit will guide you in your fellowship decisions if you will study and ask.
Date: August 21-23, 1998.
Sabbath Schedule: 10:00 AM: Sabbath singing. 10:30: morning service. 12:30 Potluck lunch. 2:30: afternoon Bible study, evening sing-along.
Purpose: Fellowship, worship, Bible instruction, and recreation.
Speakers: Ray Wooten, Jim Rector, Alan Ruth, and Norman Edwards.
Location: Hillsdale, Michigan at the Gateway Park Campground near the Indiana and Michigan state borders—the same location used last summer.
You are welcome to come for the entire weekend, though many plan to come just for the Sabbath. For more information on this fellowship opportunity, see the local news section of March/April 1998 issue of Servants’ News or call George or Pam Dewey at 517-543-0853 for more details.
The August 29-30 conference will be held at the Ramada Inn in Toronto which is located on the QEW and Trafalgar Road in Oakville. For more information, call Scott or Teresa Cox at (905) 528-9373 or see our website at www.cemnetwork.com. This event is sponsored by Ron Dart’s Christian Educational Ministries.
August 21: Hillsdale, Michigan
September 12: Houston, Texas
For more information, contact United Christian Ministries at 888-985-9066 or write PO Box 361725 Hoover, Alabama 35236.
Once again, we had a great spiritual week-end in Lexington on June 20 and 21, 1998. The conference was a great success, with attendance of 150. Thanks to all the brethren who were there. Special thanks to the speakers: Ron Dart, Ray Wooten, Mike Linacre, Jim O’Brien. We were spiritually fed both days. Thanks to Larry Keenan and Garry Cain for the beautiful song service. We also heard from the beautiful voice of Stacie Horlick from Canada on Sunday and also at the potluck on Friday evening. It is good to see small groups come together and forget our differences and be at one with God. Hope to do this again next year!
— James and Jeannette Hicks
The Greencroft Retirement Center Community Building in Goshen, Indiana was the location for approximately 60 brethren to gather on Sabbath, July 4. Ray Wooten, guest speaker and pastor of the United Church of God, Birmingham and Director of United Christian Ministries combined a family reunion with requests to visit the area. The sermon, entitled “Search the Scriptures”, dealt with the revelation of Jesus Christ throughout scriptures in the Old and New Testament. Based on John 5:39, the sermon cataloged the prophecy and foreshadowing of Jesus Christ from the book of Genesis forward. Technical difficulties with the sound system did not dampen the enthusiasm of the brethren, but rather gave them added opportunity for fellowship before services began.
Many members renewed fellowships as well as established new ties with brethren who hadn’t before been with us. Special music was provided by Mr. Mark Farmer singing, “Take Now My Voice” and was very inspiring and uplifting. Carol Guinn accompanied the assembly for hymns. Most of the brethren adjourned to a local restaurant to partake of a meal together and continue the fellowship for several more hours. Mr. Wooten was extended an open invitation to visit and speak whenever he was in the area.
— John Davis
The following two e-mail messages were forwarded to Servants’ News:
We had a United/Global cookout at our home for Father’s Day, and we had over 50 people. It is wonderful to get back together with our friends who still believe as we do. There is no reason why others can’t initiate those get-togethers on their own. Maybe some day we will have a “trickle up” affect and our leaders will get together. Just think how much money we could save having combined services: sharing rent on one building, freeing up resources to preach the gospel, etc. It would probably bring some of the Living Roomers out too.
We really have to learn to live with ourselves before we can become kings, priests or teachers in the World Tomorrow.
The Second E-mail Message:
On Sunday we had a wonderful and spiritually healing day. The Global Church of God had invited the Denver area churches to their annual picnic. Of course we went, and were eager to get back in touch with the people we had lost track of long ago. There were a few we had kept in touch with, but many we lost track of.
It was wonderful! There were people there from WCG as well, and maybe even other groups that I was not aware of. Some people came from as far as Wyoming to participate. This was well over 100 miles one way for them! We all had that one thing in common and we talked about it! I got to see teens, now married and with children of their own, that used to get together with my teens years ago. Boy....did I feel OLD!
We all brought a main dish and a side dish to share. All of us sat around and talked together regardless of where we were or were not affiliated. I am sure God was pleased with His people that day!
I would like to see all of God’s people doing this no matter where they live. I found it to be a very warming and healing experience. I look forward to the next time we do it.
Servants News comments:
We cannot help but ask: who is causing division among the COG’s? Is it the people, or is it the leaders? It sounds like the people in the above example were not having any trouble with each other—they would be glad to meet all under one roof. But some leaders might be unhappy about anything that might change the current flow of tithes and offering to their headquarters.
There is another question we should ask. Most of the COG’s will claim in their evangelism that they have the “government of God” and the understanding of how world peace will come—can anyone honestly believe those claims when they see all of the different COG groups that will not work with each other or even talk to each other? Herbert Armstrong got away with telling people his organization was “the one true church” because nearly all of the people in it did not know of any other group that taught similar doctrines. Today, nearly everyone in the COG groups is aware of other groups with similar doctrines. It is almost completely unreasonable to bring a new member into a COG, try to convince him or her that this is the “main place” where God is working, and then pretend like all of the other COG groups do not exist! —NSE
The UCG-IA announced a large number of personnel changes July 10 as a result of budget cuts and ministers leaving to work with other church organizations. Most UCG-IA ministers will have some change to their church circuits. Employment changes include:
Going on half-salary:
John Bald, Corpus Christi TX
Steve Buchanan, Tucson AZ
John Cafourek, Olympia WA
Todd Carey, Williamsburg VA
Jim Chapman, Red Bluff CA
Tom Clark, Wichita KS
Randy D’Alessandro, Detroit MI
Tom Damour, Bloomington IL
Wayne Dunlap, Eureka CA
John Elliot, Cincinnati OH
John Foster, Charleston WV
Bruce Gore, Birmingham AL
Ken Graham, Grand Rapids MI
Jim Haeffele, Greensboro NC
Vernon Hargrove, Hammond IN
Don Hooser, Dallas TX
Noel Horner, Portland OR
Bill Jacobs, Albuquerque NM
Bill Jahns, Salt Lake City UT
Dave Johnson, Atlanta GA
Otto Lochner, Columbia SC
Ken Martin, Macon GA
Jim O’Brien, Cincinnati OH
Richard Rand, West Palm Beach FL
Camilo Reyes, Salem OR
Earl Roemer, Honolulu HI
Mark Welch, Tulsa OK
Roger West, Cape Girardeau MO
Mark Winner, Louisville KY
Laid off, terminated or resigning:
Don Billingsley, Modesto CA
Bob Boraker, Kent, England
Glenn Doig, Oakland CA
Roy Dove, Shreveport LA
Steve Elliot, El Paso TX
Tom Fitzpatrick, Providence RI
Dave Havir, Big Sandy TX
Don Hornsby, Harrisburg PA
Steve Le Blanc, Modesto CA
Marc Masterson, Franklin Lakes NJ
Brian Orchard, Los Angeles CA
John Orchard, Omaha NE
Cliff Veal, St. Cloud MN
The United Church of God, Big Sandy congregation, which terminated its affiliation with the UCG-IA on May 16, has continued the process of establishing itself as a completely independent congregation by making revisions to its constitution and by-laws. Meanwhile, according to an interview published in the July 31 edition of The Journal, a group of approximately 25 former members of the UCG-IA in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has made an official request to associate with the Big Sandy group. In addition, Dana Francis, member of the Tulsa group, said that they had proposed that “the formation of a wider association should also be considered as a service to many scattered congregations and individuals who might have a desire and even a need for such an association.” Francis clarified that this suggestion did not include “a headquarters which would rule over the various associated congregations or that these congregations would need to give up their identity as individually organized churches. Due to the size and resources with which it has been blessed, we believe that the Big Sandy congregation could be instrumental in the formation of such an association.”
According to articles in The Journal of July 31, David Hulme has announced plans for production of a new quarterly evangelistic magazine, as well as an international monthly member newsletter. The newsletter is to be produced by the UK affiliate of the COG (Monrovia). UK elder John Meakin is to be the managing editor of the quarterly magazine, scheduled to be launched in January, 1999.
Hulme recently made trips to England, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Australia. In June, over 400 UK UCG-IA members and most of the ministers decided to affiliate with Hulme’s group, and in July, the entire UCG-IA congregation in Switzerland made the switch.
As of June 27, the total number of individuals reported to be “on file” with Hulme’s new group was 2,300. More than 60 elders have affiliated with the group.
For about ten years, a variety of individuals in and out of the Worldwide Church of God have said there was a plan in place to move the WCG from its former doctrines to mainstream Protestant doctrines. However, such a plan was never officially confirmed by the WCG leadership. After the WCG’s conference of June 22 to 25 (for regional pastors and international regional directors), Worldwide News articles and sermons by conference attendees have confirmed this as a fact.
Over the years, many doctrines have been changed, such as the nature of God, British Israelism, prophetic and historical interpretation, etc. They even changed reasons for observing the Sabbath and Holy Days to “WCG tradition” rather than commands of God, but they did not change their actual practice. These are doctrines that affect one’s belief system, but not one’s daily life. Individuals were still free to believe the old doctrines, yet remain members. But recently, doctrines affecting the actions of the members have changed. In many congregations, members no longer adhere to the “clean meats” rules, so church meals can be a “pick and choose” operation for those who do. And now, the WCG has officially incorporated Christmas and Easter into their “Annual Worship Calendar” and made Holy Days completely optional. Notice these principles from the Worldwide News:
Notice that they no longer recognize a need to keep the Holy Days on the day in question, but move it to a convenient weekend. Point one, above, is a good summary of the WCG reasoning for making these changes. They made no effort to give a Biblical explanation of why these new holidays are good and why the Holy Days can be discarded; they made statements like “God likes variety”, and stated that some of their members wanted to keep Christmas and Easter, and did not want anything to do with the Holy Days, so they wanted to serve them.
We at Servants’ News see nothing wrong with not being critical of those who observe non-Biblical religious days in ignorance. This is something that many Church of God members need to learn. But it should be the job of the spiritually mature to teach the days that the Bible teaches, not to make it easier and easier for people to observe unbiblical “holy” days!
The change from Sabbath to Sunday is progressing along similar lines. The WCG headquarters now has a 9 A.M. Sunday service (along with 11 A.M. and 4 P.M. Saturday services). About 20% of the entire WCG now attend on Sunday. More and more Sunday services are being scheduled, and Sabbath services are being discontinued in a few places. News in the WCG emphasizes the Sunday services. If one new person begins to attend because the WCG offered a Sunday service in a particular area, it may make the Worldwide News. If twenty people quit the WCG because their Sabbath service was discontinued, members may not hear a word about it.
On a positive note, we feel the WCG has set an example of cooperating with other groups when there is something that will benefit their congregation. The Big Sandy youth ministry hosted a True Love Waits worship service on May 23 (Sabbath). During the service, the parents and congregation committed themselves to supporting the teens in their promise to remain sexually pure until marriage. While the program is not the answer to everything, it does have a fairly good track record of helping teens stay out of the world’s sexual mess, and getting a good start with a solid marriage. It is far better than the local pastor who gives a sermon once per year telling teens “that if you don’t stop your fornicatin’, you’ll be headed for the Lake of Fire”.
The way to work with other groups, is to respect them, learn what they do well that is in accordance with the Bible, and continue to do what we already do well that is in accordance with the Bible.
We would like to thank the people who sent several boxes of old WCG purple Hymnals. We have sent out about 100 copies to a variety of congregations requesting them. Our latest request completely depleted our supply—and we have more requests. If anyone knows of any unneeded Hymnals, please send them to us and we will send them to those in need.
Most of the Hymnals that we received and sent out had the edges completely taped. They were all still serviceable, but definitely very well used. We help distribute these hymnals because we believe it is important for brethren to get together and praise the Eternal with songs that they know. But we hope that congregations will think about the impression worn-out hymnals will make on visitors: “Is this a church of the living Christ, or is it a group trying to live in the past?”
Our Kansas City church invited Norm Edwards as a guest speaker June 6. While they were here, Marleen sang two numbers for Special Music—accompanied by Norm. Most of us really liked the songs, which we had never heard before. After services, I asked Marleen where they were from. She showed me the Maranatha Praise Chorus Book. That reminded me of an earlier message on the LikeMinds Internet list about hymns. The same book was mentioned—which most people were positive about.
I ordered one of the books and we did three new songs from it at services today. We’ll keep trying it for a while, and if everyone agrees we will buy some to use as a supplement to our current hymnal. I have really enjoyed playing these songs last week and highly recommend it. Thanks to Norman, Marleen and LikeMinds for bringing it to our notice.
— Paula Frazee
[I do not believe that the Maranatha Praise Chorus Book (expanded third edition, red book) is the answer to everyone’s needs for music for services. But if a group hopes to grow, it should use a song-book 1) for which more copies can be easily purchased, and 2) visitors can recognize at least some of the music. There are songs in this book that we do not sing because of their doctrinal error—but it is easy to “not sing” them. On the positive side, over one third of the songs in the book use lyrics from the Bible. The book has a Scripture index in the back. — NSE]
Friends of mine are undertaking a project to collect as many old WCG video tapes and audio tapes of HWA (including the World Tomorrow), GTA, Hoeh, Meredith, McNair, Dart etc for a Churches of God library to ensure that these memories and truths are kept alive. They will be loaning them out to whomever so wishes.
If anyone has any tapes they would like to copy or donate to the library, please let me know asap. Or you can send me a list of the tapes you have and we may be in a position to ask you to copy them for us and we shall pay for them if we can.
May I also encourage others to create similar libraries in your towns to keep these precious truths and memories alive.
— Craig White, GPO Box 864
Sydney, Australia 2001