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.
You are invited to the Sabbath Campers Fellowship at Gateway Park Campground in Hillsdale, Michigan, August 27-29. Fellowship, group singing, interactive Bible studies, and recreational activities will abound. Alan Ruth will cover the subject "joy and humor from the Bible". Sabbath Activities begin at 11:00 A.M.
Camping prices per site for each night are: Full Hookup: $19. Primitive: $18. "Pull thru": $21. Cabins/trailers $40 & up, one-day visitor’s pass: $2. For reservations contact: Norm Wilcox, Gateway Park Campground manager, at 517-437-7005, 4111 W Hallet, Hillsdale, MI 49242. Mention you are with the Sabbath Campers Fellowship. Motel accommodations are a few minutes drive away. For more information, contact Richard Fox 1-800-228-2473.
You are all Invited! The fourth annual Kansas City fellowship picnic/potluck will be at Baumgardner Park in Blue Springs, Missouri on Sunday, September 12 (11AM–4PM). Come and see friends old and new.
Baumgardner Park features tennis and volleyball courts, children’s play area, covered picnic shelter, horseshoe pits, and more! Despite an all-day downpour last year, we were still blessed with over 100 friends. We would love to double that in 1999. Contact Lenny or Diane Cacchio for more information: 705 NE Bryant Drive; Lee’s Summit, MO 64086; Phone: (816) 524-2442 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org [since changed to L_cacchio@yahoo.com ]
After much discussion, the United Church of God in Jackson, Tennessee decided we would like our name to be placed on any list of places to meet, for those looking to meet on the Sabbath. We have maintained an open door policy from the beginning. We have accepted visitors from any group and all who have come to meet with us.
We started in the Living-room and have maintained that family atmosphere. Any travelers or visitors to West Tennessee are welcome. Services typically are at 10:00 AM. Holy-days are held in nearby Brownsville, TN. Several (40%) are Servants’ News subscribers.
Come visit and see for yourself if you are travelling nearby.
Bill Shults, 901-427-8099
46 Locust Lane; Jackson, TN 38301
All former members and members of the Worldwide Church of God and all 7th-Day Sabbath Keeping Christians are invited to a Church Family Reunion at picnic shelter #2 below the dam at Jenney Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, KY on Sunday, August 22, 1999.
The shelter is available for all day so plan to come early and stay late. We hope to obey Christ’s command to "love one another" as we meet old friends and make new ones. No sermonizing will take place and we ask that no proselytizing be done at this re-union. Various individuals who believe that there should be harmony and respect between the various christian groups are supporting this event.
Eating time is about 1:30 PM. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be grilled on the spot. You may contribute those (no pork please), along with the fixins, desserts, drinks, or extras as you choose.
— Orville Bumgardner, 606-639-6429
I am from a Church of England background, my wife is from the Baptist church. We were called in spring 1997 and baptized by Jack Hendren in Nova Scotia in July of that year. God quickly moved me to Toronto after that and I started to attend with Global. My wife joined me in June 1998 just in time to attend with Global for the Global/Living split. We remained with Global and attended with the brethren in Milton, just in time for the Global/Restored split.
To the best of our knowledge there are no Global brethren left in Ontario and, since we detected the same spirit in David Pack (Restored Church of God) as we had felt with Rod Meredith, the 4 families who did not go over to the RCG have formed a Home Fellowship COG. We believe it is our calling to find as many of the lost sheep and scattered brethren as we can in this area and we intend to help them find the place where they may best grow and develop in preparation for the times which are soon to come.
If you are aware of any lost sheep in the Toronto/Ontario region who are looking for fellowship please feel free to forward my email address or phone to them.
—David J. Walters, 905-263 2194
[We hope that Servants’ News subscribers who have friends in the Toronto area who are not attending anywhere on the Sabbath will call them and encourage them to contact this group. Stories like this are becoming all too common: 1) a new person hears about the Sabbath and other Bible truths and is excited by them; 2) they begin attending a corporate COG; 3) they hear their leaders arguments about why they are the "main group" that God is using; 4) they try to prove those arguments from the Bible and realize they are very wrong; 5) the new person quickly joins or in many cases forms a home fellowship where they can continue their study of the scriptures. — NSE]
In a letter to brethren dated July 7, 1999, Raymond McNair of the Global Church of God wrote about the "trials Satan has thrown at us". Since the GCG board voted out Rod Meredith and over half of the members left to join his new Living Church of God, the GCG has had great difficulty paying its bills. The GCG has had to stop nearly all printing of booklets and its World Ahead magazine, posting their writings on the Internet instead. They continue to produce their television program, but are putting it only on free, public-access cable channels. They plan one US Feast site for this year. There is nothing wrong with these things—they are the same approaches being used by many independent and home congregations.
A lawsuit filed by a former member, and continued attacks from former GCG minister Dave Pack have also contributed to the decrease in income. The GCG was able to negotiate free rent with its landlord until December of this year.McNair announced that Larry Salyer made a trip to Dallas, Texas to consider the possibility of moving the GCG headquarters there, where the cost of living and doing business is much cheaper and where they would be much closer to most of their congregations. It is an interesting twist of events, in that Raymond McNair vigorously opposed my proposal to move the GCG headquarters to Tulsa when I was on its board in 1993. — NSE
The Restored Church of God under David Pack is continuing to place a heavy emphasis on the "apostleship" of Herbert Armstrong and the need to follow his teaching and government. In a June 19th tape, Pack 6/19/99 stated that he did not know if he would have a huge work, or a small work, but that it is God’s work and that he is the head of it. He also stated that God leads by Apostles—implying that might be his position. Other ministers who have joined with Dave Pack include Arlen Berkey, formerly of the PCG, and Ron Laughland, formerly of the UCG and GCG. We have received a number of abuse complaints against all of these men, and would advise potential members of the group to tread carefully and check it out. — NSE
Our previous Servants’ News issue covered a "third alternative" put forth by a group of about 40 WCG members who wanted to remain in that group, but continue to keep the Sabbath and holy days. They called themselves the Worldwide Church of God, Restored (530 New L.A. Avenue #115-214; Moorpark, CA 93021; e-mail: email@example.com). They thought they had worked out an arrangement with Joe Tkach, Jr. that would allow them to meet separately on the Sabbath, but remain a part of the organization.
However, on June 10 the group’s spokesman, Mardy Cobb, found himself disfellowshipped from the WCG. By July 1, Joe Tkach, Jr. clearly wrote "that if members create division in the church by persisting in teaching things that are contrary to church doctrine, for example, that Sabbath or holy day observance is commanded for Christians, then the church has a duty to rescind their membership." The WCG’s position is that people can worship on any day of the week, but teaching Sabbath worship as more important than any other day is a sin. The WCG let other members know that they would be disfellowshipped if they continued with the WCG Restored.
But as Mardy Cobb so well noted, Joe Tkach is being very one-sided. When Tom Lapacka, a former WCG minister, departed to to become a Lutheran minister, neither he nor the WCG members who attend with him were disfellowshipped. And the Lutherans clearly teach that Sunday is the day of worship. Mr. Cobb said that he and others remained in the WCG till this year because they were able to keep the Sabbath and holy days, and because he was able to preach about them in some WCG services—even within the last year. Cobb and the WCGR tried to make peace with Tkach by holding their own services where their teachings would not affect WCG members who did not want to hear them. But as of now, they do not know of anyone in the WCG who is still permitted to speak about keeping the Sabbath and Holy days. While the WCG still claims to be tolerant of Saturday-Sunday and Feasts-Christmas-Easter, Cobb said that the WCGpastor of his congregation never speaks about the Sabbath or Feast days, but gave them 6 weeks of Christmas sermons last year.
Cobb explained that he never faulted other WCG members who left the WCG for other groups—as long as they were following their conscience. He and those with him left when they simply had no other choice. Many have asked him why they do not join an existing "Church of God" split-off group. His answer was very interesting:
1) Would the GCG leaders be happy if we joined the LCG? Would the UCG be happy we joined Mr. Hulme? Or would each group only be happy if he joined them? Most have little doctrinal difference. They are just fighting about who is in charge.
2) Is there a date, after which any group exiting the WCG is no longer legitimate? Do all the split-off groups agree on this date?
3) The WCGR is not the architect of division inside or outside the WCG—division existed long before the WCGR.
4) If unity is so important to the groups that have left, why do they not drop all their leaders’ names in a hat and trust God that the one chosen should be their new Pastor General? Or is running their own organization is more important than unity?
Mardy explained that their services are "geared" for people who have been through the specific trials that they have all been through. This group does not have a ministerial hierarchy, and allows people to ask questions at the end of every service (which is different from most other corporate "CoG groups). "I believe that the Spirit of God is leading our community," said Cobb. They are providing tapes to some groups in other parts of the country that are in a similar situation.
Servants’ News received a WCGR information packet and found it well designed and easy to follow. The doctrinal statement was good, though it had no doctrine on "the Church". This is sensible as they are still actively thinking about exactly what defines "the church". The statement did have a section on "Eternal Judgment", a fundamental doctrine mentioned in Hebrews 6:2 that is ignored by many doctrinal statements.
I think the WCGR still places too much importance on the WCG, Herbert Armstrong, and the Tkaches. But I made this mistake for 20 years of my life. The Eternal works with each of us in our own time, in His way. It is wonderful to see that this group is focusing on serving their members and preaching the Gospel as they can, rather than setting up another hierarchy and making great pronouncements about themselves. — NSE