is "moving on" in these three ways :
1) Its production location is being moved from Charlotte, Michigan to Perry, Michigan about 50 miles away.
2) It is going to an every-other month schedule instead of nine issues per year.
3) Its focus will shift, placing more emphasis on the important practical issues commanded by the Scriptures and less on the complex doctrinal issues covered in the past.
Most of our subscribers have noticed that Servants’ News is often mailed considerably later than its issue date. All of these three points are related and we hope you will read the rest of this article to see how.
We currently plan to move in late August. We have found a house with room for our family in the top two floors, and room for Servants’ News in the partially finished basement. Our new P.O. Box will be:
P.O. Box 107, Perry, Michigan 48872-0107
Please continue using the old P.O. box through August 1999 (P.O. Box 220, Charlotte, Michigan 48813-0220), then begin using the new one in September. (We will receive the mail at either box, but if you use the wrong one, it may take several more days to reach us. We will keep the old P.O. Box open for a number of months because it has been printed on so much literature.)
There are a number of reasons for moving—I’m not sure exactly which is the most important.
1. I’m taking my own Y2K advice. We had been living in a mobile home park for last three years. Implementing alternate energy or storing fuel is not practical or safe there. We have no control over the water system. We do not see much potential for co-operation with park residents for the likely year-2000 computer-related disasters. By putting our home and our ministry under one roof, we will be able to provide alternate energy for both with one set of equipment; we will have a well. We want to be able to continue to publish both Servants’ News and Shelter in the Word during the year 2000 problems. History has shown that during disasters, people’s interest in God increases greatly.
2. We will be much closer to local brethren. About half of the people who attend our local fellowship live in the Perry area. The fellowship meets nearby. Nearly all of the other brethren live closer to Perry than Charlotte. We would like to be able to see them more often than once per week. Our teenage sons prefer activities with their Sabbath-keeping friends. When we move, they will be able to do many more things together. Also, many of these nearby brethren have been a tremendous help to us in collating and mailing our publications. It will be easier for all of us if we are closer.
3. Our growing family needs more room. Our four boys range in age from 6 to 14. Our mobile home had 1,200 sq. ft. of room. The house will have 1,900 sq. ft. of living space and about the same amount of room for publication production that we have now.
4. We believe that the Eternal wants us to move. We prayed that if it was the Eternal’s will for us to move, He would provide a place with sufficient room in Perry that we could purchase. (This is not simple, as the money our family receives is not stable enough for most banks to consider making loans.) It did not take long to look at the few houses that were for sale that had sufficient room and an affordable price. There was only one that really would work for us. The owners went out of their way to make it possible for us to purchase the house.
As you have noticed, we are getting behind in our production. Mailing at "Periodical" postage rates requires that we have a "stated frequency" of publication. We cannot combine any monthly issues at any time unless we pay $50 and file a statement. Nevertheless, "Periodical" postage rates save us a great deal of money compared to bulk or some other kind of mail.
Also, increased weight has very little effect on the cost mailing periodicals. It costs about 27 cents to mail a thin issue, and about 30 cents to mail a thick one. As you can see, we save almost half the money on postage by mailing six issues per year as opposed to twelve. Also, we save on envelopes, labels and processing time by mailing less often.
However, we realize that you would be better served by receiving smaller issues, more often. People have told us that it was easier for them when they received a 22-24 page Servants’ News every month, and could finish reading it before the next one. Now, they go a long time between issues, and then receive 70 pages (combined size of Servants’ News and Shelter in the Word).
We hope to get back to a monthly publication rate at some time in the future. That may be possible if the Eternal sends us more help. As it is right now, I (Norman) spend too much time away from my family. I often spend 12-14 hours per day, 6 days a week for the two or three weeks it takes to produce an issue. Some people have asked why we started a second publication if we were already too busy with the first one. I believe that it is necessary to help fellow former-WCG members through the difficulties we shared (Servants’ News), and I believe it is necessary to learn to reach out to others as independent Bible believers without dragging them through all we have been through (Shelter in the Word).
In between issues, there are still many things to be done. We produce the literature that we offer separately. We plan our Feasts or travel to speak with other groups. We encourage and share our experience with others who are starting groups or planning Feasts. Some people, with no one locally to help them, call about personal problems. Others write in with good questions that are not appropriate to publish—we try to answer as many as we can, but do not get to all of them.
About 15% of our subscribers are outside of the USA. They have different needs than some of the other subscribers. Fortunately, the Eternal has provided people in England, Belgium, Australia and the Philippines to help us.
Also, we do much of the technical work that a "big magazine" would simply pay someone else to do: computer maintenance, network administration, software writing and installation, auto repair, duplicator maintenance, etc. (I’ve saved $10,000 over four years by doing my own maintenance on our Risograph—used to print our publications).
We will continue sending issues as quickly as we can produce them, dating them every other month, until we are back on schedule.
We believe every believer should study the Bible and history to learn Biblical truth. But the Bible does not teach that "the person who dies with the most truth wins". It teaches that those who do the most with what they do know will be rewarded (Luke 12:47-48; 16:1-12). We will continue to deal with doctrinal issues, and publish articles by people who seem to be genuinely seeking to help others understand the scriptures (as opposed to trying to convince others that "they are the one with the truth"). We do not believe that we will come up with "God’s truth" on every significant doctrine before we die.
I think it is important that we take an honest look at the WCG movement and see where it is going. Many men have claimed to be the successor of Herbert Armstrong in some way. Yet, nearly all of their organizations are shrinking. They can barely pay the ministry they have—there are virtually no new ministers. There are many previous examples of what has happened when a religious leader dies—both Biblical and historical. Sometimes the Eternal selects a person to continue on the work and it prospers (as Joshua was after Moses and Elisha was after Elijah). In other cases, people attempt to continue a leader’s work, God does not choose them, and it fails (as Gideon’s sons, Eli’s sons, Samuel’s sons, Solomon’s son, etc.).
By looking at other religious movements, we see three basic patterns that occur when a founding leader passes on: 1) A strong new leader emerges and the work goes on, possibly taking a new direction; 2) The leader prepares one or more successors before he dies and his work continues—largely run according to the original leader’s teachings and programs; 3) The work falls apart, either due to an ineffective leader or multiple quarreling leaders.
The Worldwide Church of God has had particular difficulty continuing, because it was so hierarchical in nature, and because the new leaders attempted to reverse much of its original teaching. It seems to be a combination of the above points 1 (with a completely new direction) and 3 (quarreling leaders). The likelihood of the WCG split-off groups getting back together seems more remote each day—they are not even talking about merging. We cannot effectively serve people as "the church that once was" or as "the church that hopes to get together some day".
My oldest son was a year old when Herbert Armstrong died. He and his "Church of God" friends have not experienced anything but divided "Church of God" groups. Can you or I prove to his generation from the Bible that it is their responsibility to "get the former WCG groups back together"? I don’t think so. Can I prove to them from the Bible that it is their responsibility to live by the Bible—to keep the Sabbath and other commandments, to fellowship with others similarly convicted and to teach those things to the world? Yes, I can prove that.
I believe former WCG members need to turn outward to accept and help others, not to try to re-establish the "good old days" of the "big work". I do not know how the Eternal will accomplish that. He may do it through effective small groups, He may do it through the leadership of large groups. But somewhere down the road, I believe the day will come when there will no longer be a significant body of "former WCG members", but a large number of Bible-believing Sabbath keepers—much more involved in their communities, spreading the Gospel as was done in the first century. If the Eternal desires Servants’ News to continue, we hope to be serving them.
— Norman Edwards