Church of God Adventists
Church of God Adventists
PO Box 770537, Lakewood, OH 44107
The Assembly of God in Christ Jesus was founded in the early 1990s by Bill Phillips, formerly associated with John W. Trescott and the Church of God (Anadarko). Trescott had come to believe that he was possibly one of the two end-time witnesses mentioned in the biblical book of Revelation 11:3. Phillips came to believe that he was a messenger from God, possibly Elijah, the prophet, and has come to believe that the voice of God speaks through him. He terms his teachings Christian Judaism.
End of the World Report Newsletter.
PO Box 25000, Portland, OR 97298-0990
The Associates for Scriptural Knowledge (A.S.K.) was founded in 1984 by Ernest L. Martin (1932–2002), former chairman of the theology department at Ambassador College and founder of the Foundation for Biblical Research. After leaving the Worldwide Church of God in the early 1970s, Martin served as president, director, and chairman of the board of the Foundation for Biblical Research for more than a decade, writing most of its publications. In December 1984, a conflict arose when members of the foundation’s board accused Martin of perpetuating dogmatism, and Martin was removed from office. Before the end of the month, he and several supporters founded the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge to assist in the restoration of the truth of the Holy Scriptures in the days immediately prior to the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. Headquarters of the new organization were established in Hemet, California. In 1986 it moved to Alhambra, California.
The mission of Associates for Scriptural Knowledge is to bring to the attention of believers the importance of self-reliance and personal responsibility when approaching biblical themes. It is their belief that it is the sole responsibility of the believer to become educated and to realize precisely what he or she believes. They believe that by encouraging people to examine the original documents for themselves, they will help to create greater comprehension of the source material itself. They believe people can know and trust God better by having a historical understanding of the Bible.
Associates for Scriptural Knowledge publishes a wide range of books available through their website and in retail bookshops. Associated with A.S.K. is the Academy for Scriptural Knowledge, a home-study course that entails a systematic presentation of the essential teachings of the Bible. The organization does not promote a pastoral, ritualistic, or liturgical ministry.
In 1987 the membership was approximately 1,000, of which 800 were in the United States and 100 in Canada.
The A.S.K. Exposition. • Prophetic Encounter. • The Communicator.
Associates for Scriptural Knowledge. www.askelm.com/.
Martin, Ernest L. The Divine Titles and Their Christian Significance. Hemet, CA: Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, 1985.
———. Human Destiny and the Crucifixion. Hemet, CA: Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, 1985.
———. The Law of Moses, the Passover, and the Lord’s Supper. Hemet, CA: Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, 1985.
———. The Sanctity of Marriage. Hemet, CA: Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, 1985.
PO Box 4748, Federal Way, WA 98063
The organization, formerly known as Associated Churches Inc., was formed in 1974 by a group of ministers formerly associated with the Worldwide Church of God. Headquarters were established at Columbia, Maryland. While making note of the accusations against the ministry of Garner Ted Armstrong (1930–2003), son of the founder of the Worldwide Church of God, as part of the reason for their leaving the fellowship, they placed greater emphasis upon doctrinal issues. Among their first actions as a separate organization, they established a committee to review all of the various theological questions under dispute. They issued a 24-item doctrinal statement, which continued many Worldwide Church of God emphases, but rejected tithing in favor of financing by freewill offering and offered a congregational church government instead of the theocratic government of the Worldwide Church of God. Questions on other issues were assigned to a Biblical Studies Committee for discussion and review.
Congregations initially made up of former Worldwide Church of God members were established across the United States and the group began a radio ministry and a periodical, Impact. In 1977 an evangelistic-teaching auxiliary organization, the Association for Christian Development (ACD), was formed and much of the work beyond the local congregations shifted to it. Through ACD, the Associated Churches issue a newsletter and the New Millenium Journal, numerous booklets, cassette tapes, and conduct radio broadcasts. The group hosts a weekly live “Virtual Church” service via telephone hookup, all of which introduce nonmembers to the doctrine of the Associated Churches. The Association for Christian Development is a Christian ministry dedicated to proclaiming the “Good News” of the coming “Kingdom of God.” They believe God has a “Grand Plan” for mankind which at its core calls people to become like God.
In 2002 the churches reported 1,000 members including about 200 outside the U.S.
ACD Newsletter • The New Millennium Journal
Association for Christian Development. www.godward.org/
Christian Giving or Tithing? Columbia, MD: Associated Churches of God, 1974.
Fundamental Beliefs of the Associated Churches of God. Columbia, MD: Associated Churches of God, 1974.
What Is Christ’s Commission to His Church? Columbia, MD: Associated Churches of God, 1974.
PO Box 1442, Hollister, CA 95024-1442
The Christian Biblical Church of God was formed by Fred Coulter in 1982. It derived from the Biblical Church of God which was incorporated in 1979 by a group of former members of the Worldwide Church of God under the leadership of Fred Coulter. The Biblical Church of God included a radio ministry, several churches along the west coast, and one in Canada. Coulter left to found the Christian Biblical Church of God in 1982, and eventually the Canadian congregation disagreed on church policy and became independent as the Biblical Church of God, Canada, but remained in fellowship otherwise.
The church is in general agreement with the Worldwide Church of God. It believes God is a family consisting of the Father and the Son, and denies that the Holy Spirit, the power of God, is a third member of a Trinity. Members are expected to follow God’s plan of salvation which involves repentance, faith baptism by immersion, the reception of the Holy Spirit by the laying-on-of-hands, and overcoming and growing in grace and knowledge until the resurrection. The church is sabbatarian, and follows the Old Testament feast days. It also follows the Worldwide Church of God in its belief that the descendents of the people of ancient Israel are the Anglo-Saxon people, not modern-day Jews.
Their stated purpose is to proclaim the true faith of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Word of God. Their website offers both visual and audio studies in a wide range of biblical subjects to help people come to a full understanding of the fundamental doctrines of ‘true Christianity.’
The Bible Answers Magazine. • Biblical Church of God Newsletter.
Christian Biblical Church of God. www.cbcg.org/
Coulter, Fred R. The Biblical Truth About Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection. Monterey, CA: Biblical Church of God, n.d.
Coulter, Fred R., and James Sorenson. When Was Jesus Born? Monterey, CA: Biblical Church of God, n.d.
Box 1480, Summerland, BC, Canada V0H 1Z0
After the Worldwide Church of God (WCOG) discarded the teachings of founder Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1936), in 1992 one of the church’s leading ministers, Roderick C. Meredith, resigned and founded the Global Church of God to perpetuate Armstrong’s teachings. Within a few years approximately 7,000 former members of the WCOG had moved to the Global Church of God.
Meredith adopted the WCOG’s hierarchical style of church government and headed the church with autocratic powers. Several years later, differences over his exercise of authority over the church’s board led Meredith to leave and found a second church, the Living Church of God. Almost 80 percent of the members of the Global Church of God followed him. The deserted organization was effectively bankrupted and soon ceased to exist.
Most of the members of the Global Church then reorganized as a new ecclesiastical entity, the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship (CGCF). In the 2000s the church entered into discussions aimed at producing cooperation with another WCOG splinter, the United Church of God.
Through its website, the church offers a variety of literature, some of which is posted on the site.
Not reported. There are fewer than 1,000 members. There are members in the United Kingdom, Australia, Jamaica, Belgium, Canada, and the Philippines.
Church of God Newsletter.
Church of God, a Christian Fellowship. www.churchofgodacf.ca.
Barrett, David V. The New Believers. London: Cassell, 2001.
159 Parker Rd., Mocksville, NC 27028-1074
The Church of God, Body of Christ, is a sabbatarian Adventist group, which, unlike many other Adventist bodies, believes in the Trinity. In common with other Church of God Adventists, members believe in baptism by immersion; keeping the Ten Commandments; celebrating the Lord’s Supper annually on the day corresponding to the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan; in the bodily, personal, and imminent return of Christ; and in tithing, gifts of the spirit, divine healing, abstaining from all unclean animals (Lev. 11 Deut. 14), and the holy life. The church, as the Body of Christ, is organized into a general assembly and state assemblies with a general overseer and state overseers.
In 2008 membership stood at 525.
The True Gospel Advocate.
Church of God, Body of Christ. Church of God, Body of Christ Manual. Mocksville, NC: Author, 1969.
908 Sycamore St., Waxahachie, TX 75165
The Church of God Evangelistic Association is an association of Church of God congregations formed in 1980. Initially four congregations supported the association leadership of David J. Smith, the editor of Newswatch Magazine. Smith has produced numerous booklets, a Bible correspondence course, and many cassette tapes and videos for distribution. Evangelistic efforts have been assisted by a radio show heard on stations across the United States.
The Church of God Evangelistic Association follows the non-Trinitarian beliefs of other adventist Church of God groups. The association teaches that God’s church is a spiritual organization and not limited to any one earthly organization. Christian believers should be organized to effectively serve God and carry out their commission of evangelism, teaching and baptizing those who repent, but such organizations should not impede the individual’s spiritual growth or subvert personal conscience. The association is sabbatarian and observes the annual Passover feast as a time to partake of the memorial Lord’s Supper.
The association does not report membership figures, but in 1987 it reported 93 fellowship groups supporting the association. The periodical circulated 10,000 copies to all 50 states and 31 countries.
Newswatch Magazine. • Restoring Knowledge of God.
The association was originally organized by former members of the Worldwide Church of God, with which it shares most of its beliefs. After working with the association in its formative years and authoring some of its early teaching material, John W. Trescott left to found the Church of God at Anadarko, Oklahoma.
Newswatch Magazine. www.newswatchmagazine.org.
PO Box 1120, Kimberling City, MO 65686
The Church of God, in Truth, was founded in 1993 by James Russell, a formerly ordained elder in the Worldwide Church of God, with which it shares a basic doctrinal perspective. Russell has developed a different belief on a set of issues concerning the Hebrew calendar and the setting of a date for observation of the church’s festivals (Israel’s festivals as described in the Old Testament). Russell rejects the Jewish Hebrew calendar and relies upon present observation of the beginning dark moon phase to set the date of God’s festivals (hence they tend to occur a day or sometime a month earlier than the date set for Jewish observation). Russell also rejects the year 31 c.e. as the time of Christ’s death, opting for 33 c.e. instead.
Russell teaches that the seven churches described in the biblical book of Revelation 2–3 refer to eras and personalities in the life of the church. The last two churches described, Philadelphia and Laodicea, refer to the present faithful and apostate church.
Prove All Things.
Church of God, in Truth. www.postponements.com
Box 2525, Tyler, TX 75710
In 1978, following his second suspension from the Worldwide Church of God, Garner Ted Armstrong (1930–2003), son of Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986), formed the Church of God, International. From his leadership role in the Worldwide Church of God, particularly his years of speaking on its television program, he had a large following that he immediately began to consolidate and organize. He began broadcasting over the radio from San Antonio. Over time, the radio and television ministry was rebuilt, and Garner Ted Armstrong was seen and heard across North America. A vast body of literature, including two periodicals, doctrinal booklets, and Bible study material, is supplemented by a cassette tape ministry.
The Church of God, International follows Worldwide Church of God doctrine closely but dropped much of the hierarchical structure. It denies the ruling apostolic authority of Herbert W. Armstrong. Although it does not discourage tithing by members, the church does not require it and does not monitor membership giving.
Not reported. In 2008 there were 48 congregations scattered across the United States and 7 congregations in Canada. There are also congregations in Jamaica and the Phillippines.
Twentieth Century Watch. • The International News.
In November 1995 Garner Ted Armstrong was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in July of that year. Armstrong denied the allegations, but stepped aside as head of the Church of God, International and as the spokesperson of the church’s TV broadcast. The issue came to a head in 1997 when the church’s board and the ministerial council sought the retirement of the 68-year-old church leader and the cessation of his evangelistic and ministerial activity. Armstrong found their proposal unacceptable; he withdrew from the church and in 1998 founded the Inter-continental Church of God. Apart from the departure of some members to the new church, the Church of God, International continued on its previous course.
Church of God, International. cgi.org/site/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1.
Armstrong, Garner Ted. Sunday—Saturday…Which? Tyler TX: Church of God, International, 1982.
———. Where Is the True Church? Tyler, TX: Church of God, International, 1982.
———. Work of the Watchman. Tyler, TX: Church of God, International, 1979.
Constitution and Bylaws. Tyler, TX: Church of God, International, 1979.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Church of God (Jesus Christ the Head) was founded in 1972 by a group of Sabbatarian Church of God members who hoped to unite the various factions of the Church of God following the principles of the church in the New Testament. They stood opposed to all divisions and sectarianism. They also opposed all forms of control above the local church. Hence, the Church of God follows a loose congregational polity; each church is completely autonomous. There are no denominational officers or general governing boards. Christ is seen as the only head. Regular unity conventions are held for fellowship among the members around the United States. Each congregation is allowed their opinion on all doctrinal matters. The Lord’s Supper is celebrated annually at Passover.
Not reported. Members can be found throughout the United States and affiliate congregations in Nigeria, India, Canada, Jamaica, and the Philippines.
The Voice of Unity.
13022 Kingston Way, Cleveland, OH 44133
PO Box 81224, Cleveland, OH 44181
The Church of God, currently under the administrative leadership of presiding elder Carl O’Beirn, was founded in 1970. Members consider Jesus Christ the founder of the church. O’Beirn was formerly a minister of the Worldwide Church of God and while a leader in that organization argued for the observation of not only the Old Testament (Jewish) Sabbath and feast days, but also the observance of the Feast of Booths and observance of the monthly new moon days. The latter led to his excommunication. Following his excommunication, he identified what he believed to be the more correct calculation of Abib, the first month of the Old Testament year. O’Beirn’s holy days are generally a month later than the Hebrew calendar. His concerns have been embodied in the teachings of the Church of God and have become the subject of various widely circulated booklets.
The church has a worldwide ministry and O’Beirn has published open letters, supplying information on what he has determined to be the correct days for celebrating the various feast days. O’Beirn’s ministry has also been extended through a weekly radio broadcast, “Bible Commentary.”
One special aspect of the church’s ministry is termed Psalmos. Members are taught to sing all of the psalms as a daily act of worship.
Not reported. Counting members and adherents is contrary to the church’s beliefs.
Abib. Cleveland, OH: Church of God, 1976.
The Israel Mystery. Cleveland, OH: Church of God, 1975.
Understanding the Law. Cleveland, OH: Church of God, 1974.
PO Box 371, Pasadena, CA 91102
The Church of God, Philadelphia Era, was founded by David Fraser in 1986 following the death of Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986), founder and apostle of the Worldwide Church of God. Fraser believes that only he and the Church of God, Philadelphia Era, are truly following in Armstrong’s footsteps, especially given the doctrinal changes in the Worldwide Church in the post-Armstrong era. The term Philadelphia Era refers to the messages to the seven churches found in the biblical book of Revelation 2 and 3. The church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7–13) is praised for its faithfulness in the difficult times before Christ’s return. It was said to be a church with but little strength that has not denied Christ’s name.
Fraser published a set of “qwikread” booklets setting out the teachings of the church.
PO Box 37349, Oak Park, MI 48237
In 1969, there was an unsuccessful attempt to unite the various factions of the Church of God (Seventh-Day), initiated by members of the body in Denver, Colorado, led by Elder Roy Marrs of Los Angeles, California, and his uncle, Elder B. F. Marrs of Denver. The issue of local autonomy, denied to the congregations by the General Conference of the Church of God, had originally led to schism. In Denver, the group became known as the Remnant Church of God, and in Los Angeles, it became known as the Church of God (Sabbatarian). Missions are supported in India, Nigeria, and the Philippines.
Not reported. In the mid 1970s there were 7 congregations.
Facts of the Faith.
Church of God Sabbatarian. www.cogsab.org/
79 Water St., Salem, WV 26426
The loosely affiliated congregations of the Church of God that adhered to the Ten Commandments, especially the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath, had organized a general conference in 1887. At the conference meeting in 1933, a prime issue became the move to reorganize the church from its congregational pattern into one following what was considered an apostolic pattern with 12 apostles, 70 prophets, and seven financial stewards. The move was defeated. However, the main supporters of the reorganization issued a call for a general meeting to be held at Salem, West Virginia, on November 4, 1933. Those gathered, being in unanimous agreement and having resigned from the General Conference of the Church of God, reorganized as a new congregation, the Church of God (Seventh Day, Salem, West Virginia), selecting the 12 apostles, 70 prophets, and seven financial stewards by lot (after the pattern of Acts 2:23–26). The church considered itself the true successor of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God tradition.
During the 1940s, several proposals called for the merger of that church with the general conference. In 1947, merger talks were begun and the merger consummated in 1949. However, following the merger, some members rejected the merger claiming that those taking part from the Salem church acted without any official authority from their congregation and without following the procedure established in the church’s constitution. Those rejecting the merger continued the national Church of God organization despite the loss of the majority of ministers and members. Spearheading the opposition was the church at Salem, which retained control of the publishing house. A new periodical, The Advocate of Truth, was begun in 1950.
Andrew N. Dugger (1886–1975) was the most famous Church of God, Seventh-Day, leader in the twentieth century. He was born in Bassett, Nebraska.
Dugger’s father, A. F. Dugger Sr. (d. 1910) had been an Advent Christian minister. When commissioned by his church to do a study refuting the Sabbath, Dugger Sr. instead became convinced that the Sabbath should be observed. The result was a book he later published, called The Bible Sabbath Defended. For more than 35 years until his death in 1910, Dugger Sr. was a leader in the Church of God, Seventh-Day. His son Andrew, a school teacher and farmer, was in his mid-20s when his father died.
Dugger was convinced that a bright light in the sky around him was a sign from God that he should follow in his father’s footsteps in the ministry. Dugger immediately sold his large farm and equipment, and went to the University of Chicago, where he majored in theology and public speaking, mastering Greek, Hebrew, and German.
Dugger periodically returned to Bassett to visit his mother and Effie Carpenter (1895–1980), a student of his whom he wanted to marry. Although he first proposed to her when she was 16, it was not until 1925 that they married. They shared 50 years together.
Soon after college graduation, Dugger was invited by the Executive Committee of the Church of God to move to Stanberry, Missouri, to become editor of the Bible Advocate, a position his father had held before being forced to retire because of ill health. In 1914, Dugger arrived in Stanberry to begin his work in the ministry. For 18 years he was editor of the Bible Advocate, also serving as president of the General Conference of the Church of God. As field representative, he traveled widely, holding evangelistic meetings and public debates. The famous Porter-Dugger debate, between Dugger and W. Curtis Porter (1897–1960), a Church of Christ minister, was later published as a book of over 230 pages. In 1919, Dugger wrote The Bible Home Instructor, which publicized the Church of God, Seventh-Day, and substantially increased its membership during the 1920s.
Two of Dugger’s most adamant doctrinal positions were (1) a scriptural form of church organization with leaders chosen by lot rather than election, and (2) a world headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel. After visiting Israel for only a year between 1931 and 1932, Dugger returned to live in Sweet Home, Oregon. In 1935, Dugger and Clarence O. Dodd (1899–1955) published A History of the True Church, which traces Sabbath-keepers from apostolic times to modern days. Dugger greatly influenced Herbert Armstrong (1892–1986), who was for years affiliated with the Church of God, Seventh-Day, but later formed his own church, the Radio (later Worldwide) Church of God.
Dugger remained pastor at Marion, Oregon, until 1953, when he and Carpenter settled permanently in Jerusalem, and launched the Mount Zion Reporter. His aggressive leadership resulted in thousands of converts around the world. Dugger died in 1975 at the age of 89. Dugger’s son-in-law, Gordon Fauth, continued the Jerusalem work at Mount Zion Reporter.
Dodd, earlier mentioned as Dugger’s coauthor and also a founder of the Sacred Name Movement, lived in Salem most of his life. In 1920, he married Martha Richmond (d. 1982). A writer and minister, Dodd firmly believed that he should support himself and his family, earning his own way, and serve the Almighty’s people without pay. He worked as a clerk for 35 years for Hope Natural Gas Company until he retired early due to Hodgkin’s disease. He died two years later.
Dodd taught a Methodist Bible class. He was standing on Main Street of Salem one day, when a man gave him a tract on the Sabbath, which convinced Dodd of the Bible Sabbath. He never saw the man again, and was convinced the agent was an angel. He became a leading minister in the Church of God, Seventh-Day. At the November 4, 1933, meeting in Salem, when the Church of God split, Dodd was chosen by the lot as one of the 70 elders (along with Armstrong), as well as one of the seven men placed over the business affairs of the church (along with Dugger).
After the 1933 split of the Church of God, Seventh-Day, into the Stanberry and Salem factions, Dodd became editor of the Salem Bible Advocate. He had began to accept the annual feast days in 1928, which put him at odds with the leadership. In 1937 he resigned, and began to publish his own magazine: The Faith. A year later, Dodd accepted the Sacred Name doctrine. He wrote many articles and tracts, using his own funds to establish a print shop in his home. His writings are sometimes reprinted in The Faith magazine, now published by the Assembly of Yahweh. A full list of his articles is available from The Faith Bible and Tract Society, carried on by his daughter, Mary Dodd Ling, since 1978.
Dodd had a close relationship with Elder John Kiesz of the Church of God, Seventh-Day, who held evangelistic meetings in Salem around the 1930s. Kiesz likewise believed in the annual holy days, and was favorable to the Sacred Name doctrine.
Martha Dodd, an integral part of his ministry, died in 1982. Clarence Dodd’s associates in the Sacred Name Movement were Squire L. Cessna, John Briggs, William Bodine, and Angelo B. Traina (who translated a Sacred Name bible). When Dodd accepted the doctrine that believers must use the Hebrew names Yahweh and Yahshua, he was rebaptized into the name of Yahshua.
Dodd was perhaps more of a writer than a speaker and debater—an area Dugger was adept at. It is likely that in collaborating with Dugger on the book, A History of the True Church, Dodd had the greater part in writing it.
For a history of the Sacred Name Movement, see the article, “Origin and History of the Sacred Name Movement,” written by Richard C. Nickels (1947–2006).
In 1970, the church had seven congregations, nine ministers, and approximately 2,000 members.
The Advocate of Truth. Available from PO Box 328, Salem, WV 26426.
Church of God (7th Day). www.churchofgod-7thday.org/
A History of the True Church. www.reformedreader.org/history/dugger/authors.htm
Nickels, Richard C. A History of the Seventh-Day Church of God. Neck City, MO: Giving & Sharing1977.
Nickels, Richard C. “Origins and History of the Sacred Name Movement.” www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/sacrednamehistory.html
PO Box 775, Eugene, OR 97440-0775
Church of God, the Eternal, is a remnant of the Worldwide Church of God still teaching the original doctrines first proclaimed by Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986).
Because of the controversies within the Worldwide Church of God in the early 1970s, several doctrinal changes were authorized. Pentecost was changed to Sunday and, under certain circumstances, remarriage was allowed for those who had divorced. Some saw these changes as a sign of a general doctrinal decline. Among those who disagreed with the changes was Raymond C. Cole (d. 2001). In 1975 he separated from the Worldwide Church of God and several weeks later formed the Church of God, the Eternal, with headquarters in Eugene, Oregon, where Armstrong had founded the original Worldwide Church of God in 1934, then referred to as the Radio Church of God.
It is Cole’s position that God revealed the truth to Armstrong in the early years of the Radio Church of God and appointed him to a special position to teach that truth. Such truth is unchangeable, he believed, and no allegiance is owed to a church organization that departed from truth. From the headquarters in Eugene, the church sends out a monthly newsletter with much content on the feast days, numerous doctrinal papers, and tapes to an unspecified number of members across the United States. Foreign offices are located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and Lausanne, Switzerland. The church sponsors an annual Feast of Tabernacles gathering each fall.
In 1995 the church reported two congregations in the United States (Eugene and Portland, Oregon) and one in Canada (Vancouver, British Columbia) served by five ministers. Other groups met informally at points around the United States. There were three foreign congregations, in Switzerland, France, and Nigeria.
The church publishes a newsletter.
Church of God, the Eternal, Homepage. www.cogeternal.org/
PO Box 471846, Charlotte, NC 28247-1846
10409 Barberville Rd., Fort Mill, SC 29707-9132.
The Church of the Great God was founded in 1992 as an end-time ministry by John Ritenbaugh (b. 1932), Richard Ritenbaugh (b. 1966), Martin Collins (b. 1954), and John Reid (b. 1930), all formerly associated with the Worldwide Church of God, whose doctrinal perspective is basically accepted. Members of the church believe in evangelization or proselytizing, but understand their present commission primarily to be to feed the present flock of Christians (including those still in the Worldwide Church of God and associated movements). A large part of this church is currently in a Laodicean phase, referring to the church of Laodicea discussed in the biblical book of Revelation 3:14–19. God says to the church that it is lukewarm and that because it is neither hot nor cold, he will spew it out of his mouth. Its outreach is made via its Internet site.
Membership is estimated at 400.
Church of the Great God. cgg.org/
PO Box 54621, Tulsa, OK 74155-0621
During the 1970s Garner Ted Armstrong (1930–2003) emerged as a key leader in the Worldwide Church of God. However, he was also caught up in several scandals involving extramarital affairs. As a result, in 1974 he was suspended from all church duties. After being reinstated, new problems developed and in 1978 he was finally excommunicated, after which he left to found the Church of God, International (CGI), with headquarters in Tyler, Texas. That church grew to include a modest 3,000 members worldwide, but supported Garner Ted’s radio ministry.
In 1995 Armstrong’s sexual escapades again became an issue after a masseuse released a videotape to the media and charged him with sexual assault. The ministers of CGI suggested that Armstrong resign his office of church president. He refused and approximately two-thirds of the ministers left in 1996; the following year they founded a new Church of God as a loose confederation of independent congregations, each taking the name of the city where they were located. The association was named Churches of God Outreach Ministries (CGOM).
The Churches of God Outreach Ministries, which continues the perspective of the Worldwide Church of God as slightly modified by Garner Ted, publishes two magazines and offers a set of pamphlets that may be ordered through its Web site. It also sends a weekly e-mail letter to anyone who requests it.
Not reported. The CGOM has an estimated 1,500 members.
New Horizons. • Fountain of Life.
Churches of God Outreach Ministries. www.cgom.org.
Barrett, David V. The New Believers. London: Cassell, 2001.
PO Box 612440, San Jose, CA 95161
The Congregation of God (Biblical Church of God) was founded in 1979 by C. E. Barrett, formerly with the Worldwide Church of God, whose general doctrinal perspective is accepted. There are some beliefs unique to the church. Barrett teaches that prior to the biblical great flood, there was no universal language. He also believes that some of the Essenes (a Jewish religious group) were Christians and that the apostle James (Jesus’ brother) was invested with an office in the early church similar to the presidency and that Peter and John were his deputies.
Members assemble on the new moons rather than every Saturday. The church does not advocate tithing.
Not reported. Associated with the church is the First Century Church of God in Vallejo, California.
2751 S Main St., PO Box 2345, Kennesaw, GA 30156
The Congregation of God, Seventh-Day, is a small association of congregations founded in 1992 by a former minister of the Worldwide Church of God, whose general doctrinal perspective it accepts.
The Congregation of God, Seventh-Day, is dedicated to the concept of providing meaningful information behind today’s news and world events in the light of biblical prophecy as a means of warning people of future events that will drastically change society during the twenty-first century. By sponsoring the Watch America radio broadcast, publishing The Herald magazine and other publications, they are striving to inform people of biblical truths and impending changes facing the world.
The Herald: A Magazine of Current Events in the Light of Bible Prophecy. www.watchamerica.com/theherald/past_issues.htm
Homepage WatchAmerica. www.javanex.net/wa/home.asp
Current address could not be obtained for this edition.
The Congregation of Yah was founded as the Church of God 7th Era in July 1973, by Larry Johnson, a former member of the Worldwide Church of God. He had been disfellowshipped in January 1973, after sending a 160-page manuscript detailing his opinions on the organization of the church to the Pasadena headquarters. In December 1973, Johnson left his home in Buffalo, Missouri, and traveled to California to meet Herbert W. Armstrong, the church’s founder and apostle. The Worldwide Church of God claimed that it was the Church of Philadelphia (spoken of in Revelation 3:7–13) and that Herbert W. Armstrong was one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:3; Johnson hoped to convince Armstrong that he was the other witness. Johnson was rebuffed, but continued for several years to contact Armstrong. As internal turmoil disrupted the church, and Garner Ted Armstrong (Herbert Armstrong’s son) was disfellowshipped, Johnson began to revise his understanding of the meaning of the Book of Revelation. He concluded that the Worldwide Church of God was not the Philadelphia Church, but the Church of Sardis (Revelation 3:1–6) and that Garner Ted Armstrong, not Herbert Armstrong, was the witness. Over the years he also absorbed some Sacred Name Movement ideas and, in 1978, he changed the name of the Church of God 7th Era to the Congregation of Yah. To date, Garner Ted Armstrong and the Church of God International have made no acknowledgement of Johnson. The Congregation of Yah is built around an inner family of supporters and a far larger group who receive Johnson’s mailings. The Feast of Tabernacle is celebrated annually.
Not reported. In 1978 about 400 people supported the Congregation as coworkers. A smaller number were active supporters. About 7,000 people receive Johnson’s material with some regularity.
Activity Bulletin. Available from Box S, Beebe, AR 72012.
PO Box 373, 43 Paris Ave., Charlestown, NH 03603
Among the most popular of the Worldwide Church of God leaders was Dr. Ernest L. Martin (1932–2002), former chairman of the theology department at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. With several colleagues and a group of supporters in the Pasadena area, he formed the Foundation for Biblical Research and began to circulate tapes and literature on such topics as tithing, marriage, the Sabbath, and church government. A monthly Foundation newsletter, now called the Foundation Commentator, was established and regular research papers were issued on a wide variety of topics. Bible history, theological topics, and Christian living have been emphasized. The Foundation program encourages small groups of believers to meet in their homes regularly for prayer and study. Dr. Martin and his associates also traveled widely, speaking to believers around the country. Exact membership figures have not been reported.
The Foundation has departed from Worldwide Church of God doctrine on several points: It believes in congregational church government and sees autocratic forms as being condemned by Christ; doctors are allowed; tithing has been dropped in favor of free-will offerings; and baptism is no longer practiced.
In 1985 the board of the Foundation voted to enlarge the scope of their publications to reflect a broader set of opinions and to publish a much higher percentage of material not authored by Martin. This occasioned a split in the Foundation, with Martin leaving to found the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge. The new arrangement represented not so much a change in doctrinal perspective as a new administrative order.
The Foundation Commentator.
Church Government and Church Organization. Pasadena, CA: Foundation for Biblical Research, 1974.
Martin, Ernest L. Passover, Lord’s Supper, Communion. Pasadena, CA: Foundation for Biblical Research, 1975.
———. The Tithing Fallacy. Pasadena, CA: Foundation for Biblical Research, 1979.
The Sabbath and the Christian. Pasadena, CA: Foundation for Biblical Research, 1974.
c/o General Conference Offices, PO Box 33677, Denver, CO 80233
330 W 152nd Ave., Broomfield, CO 80020.
During the two decades following the Great Disappointment of 1844, the followers of William Miller (1782–1849) became grouped into what became the larger Adventist churches. However, numerous Adventists remained independent of the larger churches. Many sabbatarians, in particular, rejected the “visions” of Ellen G. White (1827–1915) of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Some of these independents associated together in 1863 around a periodical, The Hope of Israel, published in Hartford, Michigan. Enos Easton, Samuel Davison, and Gilbert Cranmer were among the leaders. The Hope of Israel continued intermittently for several years and, in 1866, was formally established at Marion, Iowa, under the aegis of the Christian Publishing Association. By this time, the name Church of God was in general use and was eventually adopted as the “denominational” name.
During the nineteenth century, the movement grew around the periodical and the evangelical endeavor of its leaders. In 1889, the headquarters were moved to Stanberry, Missouri. The periodical continues as The Bible Advocate. In 1906, the associated congregations registered as the Church of God (Adventist) Unattached Congregations.
The General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh-Day), as the church is known today, has emerged with a moderate Old Testament emphasis. It believes that the Christian should lead a life of obedience to God, which includes observance of the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath. The use of tobacco, alcohol, and narcotics is discouraged. Christmas, Easter, Lent, Good Friday, and Sunday are considered pagan holidays. The group believes that tithing is the method of church financing. The church is popularly called the Church of God (Seventh-Day), and will be referred to by that title frequently in this chapter.
Organization is congregational, and a general conference meets every two years. A ministerial council oversees ministerial licensing. The Bible Advocate Press publishes numerous booklets, church school materials, and several periodicals. Missions are supported in 25 countries.
Summit School of Theology, Broomfield, Colorado.
General Conference Church of God (Seventh Day). www.cog7.org/.
Church Manual of Organization and Procedure. Stanberry, MO: Church of God Publishing House, 1962.
Coulter, Robert. The Story of the Church of God (Seventh Day). Denver, CO: Bible Advocate Press, 1983.
Doctrinal Beliefs of the Church of God (Seventh Day). Denver, CO: Bible Advocate Press, 1974.
Nickels, Richard. A History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Author, 1977.
The 2,300-Day Prophecy of Daniel Eight. Stanberry, MO: Bible Advocate Press, 1960.
1827 W 3rd St., Meridian, ID 83642-1653
The General Council of the Churches of God grew out of a 1950 meeting held in Meridian, Idaho, by former members of the General Conference of the Church of God. These former members wished to continue the congregational polity followed by the parent body in the years before its 1949 merger with the Church of God (Salem, West Virginia) and the church’s subsequent adoption of some aspects of the “apostolic” church government of the Salem body.
Today, the council supports mission work in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, England, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Kachinland, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, and the West Indies.
There are more than 50 congregations in the United States and Canada, and more than 200 in the mission areas listed above; additionally, there are many independent congregations that unofficially associate with the council.
Maranatha College, Meridian, Idaho.
ACTS • The Fellowship Herald
General Council of the Churches of God. www.actsforgod.org/.
A Declaration of Things Most Commonly Believed among Us. Meridian, ID: Church of God Publishing House, 1963.
Nickels, Richard C. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Author, 1977.
Walker, Frank M. The Beast, His Image, and the Two-Horned Beast. Meridian, ID: Church of God Publishing House, n.d.
1434 Fremont Ave., Los Altos, CA 94022
The Harmony of Life Fellowship was founded in 1955 by Dr. Roy B. Oliver, formerly a minister with the Unity School of Christianity. Using a basic metaphor of harmony and balance, the fellowship seeks to awaken humanity’s hidden faculties and assert what it perceives to be the timeless spiritual values undergirding human life. The purpose of life is the achievement of a brilliance of mind, a nobility of character, a perfection of the body, and an exaltation of spirit. Each of these can be attained through the ancient wisdom taught as the inner truth in all religions through the application of specific techniques of meditation and concentration, study and reflection, worship, and a devotion to the highest ideals. The fellowship was incorporated in 1957, and during the 1960s its work was extended through the formation of the Harmony College of Applied Science, the International University, and the International Society of Naturopathy.
The fellowship finds truth in the mystical Christianity of the first three centuries, before the church lost its spiritual mooring in a literal interpretation of that which was meant to be understood metaphorically and allegorically. The inner mystical interpretation of the scripture leads to the same basic truth found in all religions. Each individual is a soul on a journey of growth through a series of incarnations and lives among an assemblage of souls whose evolution is being guided by the Great White Brotherhood, the spiritual hierarchy.
The fellowship assumes a nondogmatic approach to Truth. It is to be found in the searching by each individual. The fellowship tries to create an environment where every individual can discover the Truth in his or her own unique manner. It believes that humans are inherently divine, and as they pursue spiritual reality, they perceive the oneness of life expressed on the seven levels of reality. Being divine, they should seek to express the perfection of God. Service, expressed in facilitating the healing of self and others, is encouraged. The universe is the body of God and operates according to immutable spiritual laws.
The development of the individual is best accomplished through group endeavor. Group worship is encouraged by the fellowship as is the formation of “shareview” groups (six or more people who meet in homes to share their views on important matters). The seven traditional Christian sacraments are practiced according to an esoteric interpretation.
To aid the progress of the individual, the society offers a variety of study materials organized into courses. Through the college, both basic and advanced degrees may be secured in a variety of subjects. The college is structured in an alternative off-campus style with each student proceeding at his or her own pace. Students may seek ordination as Harmony of Life ministers and then choose to begin a chapter of the fellowship. Ministers may choose to become members of the Harmony Ministerial Alliance. The fellowship is affiliated with the Union of Christian Universal Churches headquartered in France.
Harmony College of Applied Science, Los Altos, California.
International University, Los Altos, California.
Harmony of Life. Los Gatos, CA: Harmony of Life Fellowship, 1991.
The Master Key: A New Faith for the New Age. Los Altos, CA: Harmony of Life Fellowship, n.d.
PO Box 1117, Tyler, TX 75710
During the mid-1970s, Garner Ted Armstrong (1930–2003), founder of the Church of God International, was in conflict with the board and ministerial council of the church over charges concerning his conduct. While denying the charges against him, which were not made public until 1994, Armstrong stepped down as the head of the church. Then, in 1997, the ministerial council moved to permanently retire him and seek his agreement to cease functioning as a minister/evangelist. Armstrong found this plan unacceptable and withdrew from the church and in January 1998 founded the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association (PO Box 747, Flint, MI 75762) as a structure within which to continue his evangelistic endeavors. He also soon discovered that many of the members of the Church of God International wished to continue in a church relationship with him and a few months later he founded the Intercontinental Church of God (ICG).
The ICG continues the doctrinal stance of the former body, the differences being purely administrative.
Not reported. Members are found in Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Canada, Australia (including Tasmania), and the Philippines.
Intercontinental Church of God. www.intercontinentalcog.org/.
PO Box 3810, Charlotte, NC 28227-8010
Canadian Headquarters: Living Church of God, PO Box 27202, Toronto, ON, Canada M9W 6L0.
In the years following the death of founder Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986) in 1986, the Worldwide Church of God (WCOG) dropped his distinctive teachings (from tithing to sabatarianism) one by one under its new pastor general, Joseph W. Tkach (1927–1995), and moved closer to Evangelical Protestant standards. Eventually, it was accepted into the National Association of Evangelicals.
Many ministers rejected these changes, including Roderick C. Meredith, who had been one of Armstrong’s earliest students and a prominent leader in the church. He had been a member since 1949. Meredith left in 1992 and founded the Global Church of God, which continued most of the teachings of the old Worldwide Church. Because of Meredith’s high profile in the WCOG, many members left to join the new church and within a few years the Global Church grew to around 7,000 members.
As WCOG’s apostle, Armstrong had operated as head of a “top-down” church structure, and Meredith attempted to follow this same single-leader model of church authority. However, in 1998 he and the board of the Global Church came into conflict and the board attempted to reign in Meredith’s authority. In the midst of the controversy, Meredith left the Global Church and founded the Living Church of God. Some 70 to 80 percent of the ministers and members left with him. The loss of so many members left the Global Church heavily in debt. It moved into bankruptcy and eventually reorganized as the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship (CGCF).
The Living Church of God is the second- or third-largest offshoot from Worldwide. It claims to hold to all of the traditional teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong and the WCOG at the time of his death. Like most of the offshoots, it has a strong emphasis in its literature and broadcasts on examining world news to “prove” that these are the end-times. It has a radio show, “Tomorrow’s World,” that continues the show of the same name formerly sponsored by the Worldwide Church. The church also sponsors broadcasts in French and Spanish.
The Living Church of God is active in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia. As of 2001, there are approximately five to six thousand members, over two hundred congregation, and scores of ordained ministers.
Living Church of God. www.livingcog.org/.
Barrett, David V. The New Believers. London: Cassell, 2001.
Tkach, Joseph. Transformed by Truth. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1997.
PO Box 3700, Edmond, OK 73083-3700
Canadian Headquarters: Philadelphia Church of God Canada, PO Box 315, Milton, ON, Canada L9T 4Y9.
The Philadelphia Church of God emerged out of reactions to perceived changes in the Worldwide Church of God following the death of the latter’s founder, Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986), and the emergence of Armstrong’s successor, Joseph W. Tkach (1927–1995). These changes involved dropping some distinctive beliefs of the church and movement toward the doctrinal stance of Evangelical Protestantism. This move was signaled by the removal of many publications from print, including ones written by Armstrong. Many members and leaders of the Worldwide Church of God opposed those changes. Among those who challenged the changes were two ministers, Gerald Flurry and John Amos, and as a result of their protest in 1989 they were disfellowshipped and founded the Philadelphia Church of God. Flurry and Amos published an apology, Malachi’s Message, which they began to mail out in January 1990. In February they published the first issue of a new magazine, The Philadelphia Trumpet, as the official organ of the new church.
Flurry and Amos developed their rationale for founding the church from their reading of the biblical book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, which includes the messages to the seven churches. These chapters have often been interpreted as a prophetic outline of history, an interpretive perspective adopted within the Worldwide Church of God. Church members viewed Herbert W. Armstrong as having been raised up by God to begin a new era, the Philadelphia Church era (Rev. 3:7–13). It is the opinion of the Philadelphia Church of God that under Tkach the Worldwide Church of God has veered from the Philadelphia stance articulated by Armstrong and has become the Laodicean church. People faithful to the Philadelphian stance have had to reorganize to continue their life.
The Philadelphia Church of God continues the doctrines of the Worldwide Church of God prior to 1986, and it has been at pains to document each change through a booklet, Worldwide Church of God Doctrinal Changes and the Tragic Results, and in articles in The Philadelphia Trumpet. It has also moved to put Armstrong’s books back in print, beginning with The United States and Britain in Prophecy and Mystery of the Ages.
The church continues the teachings of the larger Church of God movement. It is non-Trinitarian, observes the seventh-day Sabbath, and recognizes two ordinances, baptism and the annual observance of the Passover, which includes foot washing. The Old Testament festivals are observed and the more familiar holidays—Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day—are denounced. The church also holds to the belief in the special position in cosmic history held by Herbert W. Armstrong, who they believe is the Elijah figure mentioned in such biblical passages as Matthew 17:10–13.
The church also has a strong belief in British Israelism, which asserts the prophetic significance of Britain and the United States as the literal descendants of ancient Israel. British Israelism has been played down in recent years by the Worldwide Church of God. The church emphasizes prophecy and believes that most prophetic passages of the Bible are being fulfilled in the current generation.
The Philadelphia Church of God found immediate support, both among people who had been disfellowshipped by the Worldwide Church and among those who had left it on their own. It quickly developed support in Canada, Europe, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Australia. It also launched a radio show and a television program, the “Key of David,” which is aired on cable in the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe.
In 1997 the Church reported approximately 5,000 baptized members and 98 congregations in the United States. Additionally, the church has congregations across Canada and in England, other European countries, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and throughout Latin America.
The Philadelphia Trumpet • Royal Vision • Philadelphia News
Philadelphia Church of God. www.pcog.org/.
Flurry, Gerald. The Ezekiel Watchman. Edmond, OK: Philadelphia Church of God, 1992. 71 pp.
———. Jeremiah: Prophet of Doom or Hope? Edmond, OK: Philadelphia Church of God, 1993. 43 pp.
———. Lamentations and the End-Time Laodiceans. Edmond, OK: Philadelphia Church of God, 1993. 37 pp.
———. Malachi’s Message. Edmond, OK: Philadelphia Church of God, 1992. 162 pp.
Lock Box 126, Hamilton, TX 76531
The Pure Truth is a ministry and fellowship of believers founded in Pasadena, California, in 1979 by Richard Scott, who was formerly a member of the Worldwide Church of God and the Church of God International. Scott came to believe that he was a prophet sent to speak especially to former and present members of the Worldwide Church and its offshoots. He received his commission to preach from several visions and vivid dreams that also gave him insight into some future events, many of which subsequently occurred. He believes that he is the only true heir to Herbert W. Armstrong’s work of proclaiming the truth.
While generally following the beliefs of the Worldwide Church of God as it was prior to Armstrong’s death in 1986, Scott has developed some distinctive ideas. He employs the sacred name in speaking of the Creator and Savior. He accepts some of the tenets of the British Israel idea but believes that the United States, not Great Britain, is to be identified with the scriptural Ephraim and New York City with mystery Babylon. He believes that the first (preparation) day of the Feast of Unleaven Bread (an important date in the Worldwide Church of God annual calendar) is on the 14th of the first solar calendar month, but that the Feast proper begins on the 15th and lasts for seven days, and that the first day of the 50-day count to Pentecost starts on the day after the Last Feast Sabbath. He rejects the idea of the lunar month as having anything to do with the sacred calendar.
APT School of Scripture and Truth.
The Pure Truth Magazine. • Ephesian Messenger Newsletter. • The Prophetic Notebook Newsletter. • The Hamilton Crier Newspaper. • The Restoration of ALL Things Has Begun! • Back-to-Scriptural-Basics.
The Pure Truth. www.users.htcomp.net/apt/The_PURE_TRUTH.htm.
2375 E Tropicana Ave., Ste. 158, Las Vegas, NV 89119
The Restoration Church of God was founded in 1993 by M. John Allen, a former member of the Worldwide Church of God, whose general doctrinal perspective is accepted by the Restoration Church. Allen teaches that Herbert W. Armstrong, the late founder/apostle of the Worldwide Church, was a modern-day Elijah, but that the church he founded has departed from the Truth. Today, Allen believes, the Restoration Church is the only work of God that is building on God;s foundation.
The Clear Truth.
The Clear Truth. www.holysmoke.org/sdhok/rev05.htm.
PO Box 23295, Wadsworth, OH 44282
Canadian Headquarters: PO Box 4064, St. Catharines, ON, Canada L2R 7S3.
In the 1990s, as the Worldwide Church of God transformed from a sabbatarian Adventist group to a mainline Evangelical Protestant group, it lost many members. In 1992 one of the prominent ministers, Roderick C. Meredith, left and took a number of ministers and some 7,000 members with him to found the Global Church of God. He claimed to be keeping faith with Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong’s teachings as they were at the time of Armstrong’s death. Then, in 1998, the Global Church of God experienced a conflict over its administrative structure (which Meredith headed as the sole leader), and as the conflict heated up, Meredith left and took more than 80 percent of the members with him to found the Living Church of God.
Shortly after Meredith left the Global Church of God, another minister, David C. Pack, also left and founded the Restored Church of God, which took even a harder conservative line than that assumed by Meredith. Pack went on to publish a book-length list of 280 teachings, which he felt that the Worldwide Church of God of the 1990s had changed from what Armstrong had taught in earlier decades. To this list, he added a second list of an additional 174 teachings from which all the other off-shoots (including the Living Church of God) also deviated. These changes are related to major doctrines concerning tithing, the observance of the Sabbath, and the role of women, as well as many minor points.
The Restored Church of God has several thousand members.
The Pillar of the Truth.
The Restored Church of God. www.restoredcog.org.
PO Box 804, Caldwell, ID 83606-0804
The Seventh-Day Church of God was formed in 1954 by several ministers of the Church of God (Seventh-Day) headquartered in Salem, West Virginia. They rejected that church’s stance on divorce (allowing divorced and remarried ministers and/or spouses to continue as ministers). They also embraced the observance of the seven annual Holy Days. Otherwise the church follows most of the doctrine commonly known to the sabbatarian Church of God groups. The church is headed by a chairman and secretary, apostles, elders, evangelists, and teachers. Mission work is supported in several countries.
Not reported. The church believes that membership records are in the Lambs Book of Life and thus no earthly records as such are kept.
Zion Faith College.
The Herald of Truth.
Nickels, Richard C. A History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Author, 1977.
PO Box 292, Altadena, CA 91003
The Triumph Prophetic Ministries (Church of God) was founded in 1987 by William Dankenbring, a former member of the Worldwide Church of God, the general doctrinal framework of which is accepted. The church disagrees on a variety of particular points, however. Most importantly, the church does not believe that Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder/apostle of the Worldwide Church, was a modern-day Elijah figure. It does believe that the seven churches described in the biblical book of Revelation 2–3 are indicative of seven church eras leading up to the present. The Church of God is the faithful remnant, and most of the other Worldwide splinter groups belong to the Laodicean era of lukewarm believers.
As to the Jewish feasts, the church teaches that Passover should be kept according to the Lunar Karaite Hebrew calendar on Nisan 15 (not 14), and Pentecost on Sivan 6, the dating being a matter of great concern to Worldwide Church members. Passover should include the eating of a Passover meal. The Feast of Tabernacles should be celebrated wherever possible and kept in actual booths as described in the Bible. The church accepts the British Israel theology but believes that the United States is to be identified with ancient Ephraim, and not with Manassah, as is commonly done.
The church teaches that man is living in the end-times and is preparing for the battles that shall characterize this period. Among the prophetic personages and entities that have appeared are the King of the South (Egypt), the King of the North (NATO, Europe, and U.S. allies), the Beast (who may be William Clayton, and the Man of Sin. There will be a New World Order under the United Nations.
Triumph Prophetic Ministries. www.triumphpro.com/.
PO Box 2900, Vista, CA 92085
Among the church leaders to leave the Worldwide Church of God in 1974 was Al Carrozzo, regional director of the church’s work in the western half of the United States and director of the Counseling and Guidance Office in Pasadena. He accused Garner Ted Armstrong, son of founder-apostle Herbert W. Armstrong, of adultery (citing numerous instances over a period of years), and continued to raise the issue in his monthly Newsletter. He alsopushed for a change in the church’s demand that people living with a second spouse following a divorce and remarriage leave their spouse because they would be living in adultery.
After leaving the church, Carrozzo formed the Twentieth Century Church of God, began a tape and literature ministry, started a radio show carried on several stations, and traveled around the country talking to groups who had left the Worldwide Church of God. The monthly newsletter contained two sections: one that discusses continuing concerns within the Worldwide Church of God, and another that focuses on the Twentieth Century Church of God’s main emphases— spiritual growth, prayer, Christian living, and preaching the gospel of reconciliation. These emphases emerge within a context of general agreement with Worldwide Church of God doctrine.
Newsletter. Available from Box 129, Vacaville, CA 95688.
Carrozzo, Al. Christmas. Vacaville, CA: Twentieth Century Church of God, n.d.
———. How to Study the Bible. Vacaville, CA: Twentieth Century Church of God, n.d.
———. Who Is Qualified to Be Your Minister? Vacaville, CA: Twentieth Century Church of God, n.d.
Twentieth Century Church of God. Our Christian Responsibilities. Vacaville, CA: Author, n.d.
PO Box 25, Nineveh, PA 15344
The Twentieth Century Church of God was founded in 1990 by C. Kenneth Rockwell and David E. Barth Jr., both former members of the Worldwide Church of God. The church (not to be confused with the other church of the same name) accepts the basic doctrinal perspective of the Worldwide Church of God, especially as it existed prior to the doctrinal changes of the early 1990s. It is very close to the position of the Church of God International and the Triumph Prophetic Ministries (Church of God), with whom it cooperates. In regard to the church festivals, it teaches that Passover should be kept on Nisan 15 and Pentecost on Sivan 6. It rejects tithing.
Voice from Afar Newsletter.
PO Box 547, Crystal River, FL 32623
The United Biblical Church of God was formed in 1992 as an association of autonomous congregations by Charles Kimbrough, Mark Carr, and Chris Patton, all former members of the Worldwide Church of God. The general doctrinal perspective of the Worldwide Church of God is accepted, but the church has a number of specific disagreements with it. Most importantly, the church has departed from the sabbatarianism of the Worldwide Church and has concluded that Jesus was resurrected on Sunday, not Saturday. The church keeps to the Jewish festivals but rejects the Hebrew calendar. Thus it celebrates the festivals a month later than other groups. It also observes the new moon.
The Jerusalem Sentinel.
PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1027
Box 144, Sta. D, Etobicoke, ON M9A 4X1, Canada.
The United Church of God, an International Association, was formed in 1995 by a group of former ministers and members of the Worldwide Church of God. During the years following the death of Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986), his successors in office dropped one by one all of the teachings that had made the church distinctive, and it eventually joined the National Association of Evangelicals. During this period, a number of ministers and members withdrew from the church. They were especially concerned about continuing the requirements to worship on the Sabbath, observe the ancient Hebrew Holy Day seasons, and maintain a belief that Jesus Christ will return to earth to institute a benevolent, world-encircling kingdom of God.
The new church drew to it more than 100 ordained ministers formerly affiliated with the Worldwide Church. In their initial meetings they developed an administrative structure designed to be more directly accountable to members and the ministry. Leadership was placed in the hands of a 12-person Council of Elders elected by a general assembly of all ordained ministers. They reviewed the church’s beliefs and issued a formal Statement of Fundamental Beliefs. The Council of Elders elected the president of the church minster’s assembly. In 2008 the president was Clyde Kilough.
The United Church sees itself as having a basic duty to preach the gospel and prepare people to enter the kingdom of God. To that end it publishes a large amount of church literature that, continuing the practice of the Worldwide Church, is offered freely to all request it. The texts of many of its central publications can be found online.
The United Church has emerged as one of the larger continuing bodies of former Worldwide Church of God members. It supports a television show, Beyond Today, and an Internet radio show, The Good News.
Not reported. In 2008 there were 219 congregations scattered across the United States. There are also affiliated congregations in more than 40 countries around the world.
The Good News. Available in English, German, Italian, and Spanish.
United Church of God. www.ucg.org.
United Church of God. This Is the United Church of God. Available from www.gnmagazine.org/booklets/UC/UC.pdf.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The United Seventh-Day Brethren is a small sabbatarian Adventist body. It was formed in 1947 by two independent congregations and several individuals who banded together for greater effect in the fields of evangelism, publication, Sabbath promotion, and fellowship. Each local church in the fellowship remains autonomous. Views held generally in common include the following: The Bible is the inspired Word of God and the final authority in faith and conduct; there is one God; Jesus is God’s son, who was born of a virgin, died, was resurrected, and ascended; man has no hope apart from the blood of Christ; the Sabbath Day remains in effect, as do the Ten Commandments; and the local church should be autonomous. Members deny the immortality of the soul. They do not eat “unclean” meats.
For several years, The Vision was the official periodical for the group, though it was owned privately. In 1966 it was bought by W. Allen Bond and, soon after, the official relationship was ended. The Vision continues to reflect Seventh-Day Brethren ideology, however. In 1980 the General Association of United Seventh-Day Brethren consisted of four congregations, one each in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
PO Box 35, Pasadena, CA 91102
World Insight International was formed in 1977 by Kenneth Storey—a former administrator of the Worldwide Church of God who had been associated with the Foundation for Biblical Research—as a Christian service organization offering insight into the full scope of God’s plan for the world. A strong evangelistic program was announced as well as provision for the establishment of local fellowship groups. Underlying World Insight International was the discovery by Storey and his wife of the manifestation of the spiritual gifts discussed in I Corinthians 12. The first mailing from the new organization both announced the beginning of the Latter Reign of the Holy Spirit before the end of time and warned against counterfeits (which he believes are manifest throughout the contemporary Charismatic Movement). While looking for the manifestation of spiritual gifts, Storey rejected the basic Pentecostal idea of the primacy of speaking in tongues.
Over the years, Storey received support from other prominent Worldwide Church of God leaders such as David Orr, who had initiated the work of the Foundation for Biblical Research in England, Brian Knowles, and Richard Plache. Since its founding, a program of biblical research and publication has led World Insight into fellowship with more orthodox Christians and has produced a critique of Worldwide Church of God ideas. Church literature and beliefs reveal a strong emphasis on prophetic themes and the inner life.
Not reported. There is a mailing list of several thousand and fellowship groups are found around the United States.
Storey, Ken. Love Feasts of the Church. Pasadena, CA: World Insight International, 1978.
———. Worldwide Church of God in Prophecy. Pasadena, CA: World Insight International, 1979.
300 W Green St., Pasadena, CA 91129
The Worldwide Church of God (originally known as the Radio Church of God) was formed in 1933 by Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986) and approximately 20 other people in Eugene, Oregon. Armstrong had been a member of a small independent sabbatarian group, the Oregon Conference of the Church of God, when he first began to function as a minister in the late 1920s.
THE ARMSTRONG ERA
Herbert W. Armstrong and his wife, Loma Armstrong, moved to Oregon in the mid-1920s. Shortly after the move, Loma began to absorb the teachings of the Church of God from Ora Runicorn, who taught her about Sabbath observance. Catching the enthusiasm of his wife, Armstrong became an avid bible student and eventually was convinced of the truth of the Church of God. Without formally joining it, he became an active participant in 1927, and the following year preached his first sermon. He was ordained by the Oregon Conference in 1931.
After his ordination, Armstrong began to preach regularly and became the pastor to a small group in Eugene. In 1933, while still a member of the Church of God, he began an independent radio ministry, “The World Tomorrow” broadcast, and issued the first copies of a periodical, The Plain Truth. This ministry was incorporated as the Radio Church of God. By this time, Armstrong had come to accept a belief in the modern identity of the ancient tribe of Israel. Though never accepted by the General Conference of the Church of God as a whole, the belief had been present among the ministers for a generation.
At the time Armstrong began his radio ministry, the Church of God was being split on a national level by disagreements over church government and the observance of the Jewish (Old Testament) feasts. Armstrong sided with the minority faction that argued for the observance of the feast days and the abandonment of democratic procedures for the selection of church leaders. As a member of this faction, he participated in the formation of the Church of God (Seventh-Day), headquartered in Salem, West Virginia. He was chosen as one of its 70 leaders in 1933. The Salem faction, however, after observing the feast days for a few years, dropped the practice. They also denounced the belief in British Israelism. About this same time, in 1937, Armstrong withdrew from further participation in any Church of God activities. His ministry continued under the corporate title of Radio Church of God.
Following World War II, Armstrong moved to Pasadena, California, and in 1947 launched Ambassador College. From this point, the ministry grew steadily. In 1953 the Radio Church of God spread to Europe. A television ministry was added in the 1960s and the voice of Garner Ted Armstrong, the son of the founder, became a familiar sound in many American homes. The work expanded greatly, both in North America and overseas, especially in Western Europe, Australia, and South Africa. In 1968 the name of the work was changed to the Worldwide Church of God. By the mid-1970s the circulation of The Plain Truth (which was distributed freely) had jumped to over 2,000,000.
The last 15 years of Armstrong’s expanding ministry proved a time of intense controversy. Within the church, a debate arose over the dating of the Feast of Pentecost and a number of ministers began to question the absolutist approach to the ban on divorce and remarriage. As the debates proceeded, Garner Ted Armstrong was involved in a public scandal that took him off the air and eventually led to his disfellowship from Worldwide Church of God and his founding the Church of God, International. The internal discontent also led to the departure of some prominent ministers and several thousand members, some of whom established the first of several splinter churches. One group of former members began an anti–Worldwide Church of God newsletter, The Ambassador Report, which critically discussed trends in the church.
The controversies came to a climax in 1978 when several former members filed a lawsuit against the church. Gaining the cooperation of the California state’s attorney, they were able to have the church placed in receivership pending trial. The action of the court thoroughly disrupted the church’s life for a period of months, before the lawsuit was abruptly brought to an end by new legislation that prohibited such actions by the state’s attorney. During this time, other churches, recognizing the threat inherent in the courts preemptive action, came to the Worldwide Church of God’s defense. A final ruling in the court on the action stated that the initial lawsuit was from its “inception constitutionally infirm and predestined to failure.”
Some peace returned to the church in the few years immediately prior to the death of Herbert Armstrong in 1986. He was succeeded by Joseph W. Tkach (1927–1995), whom he had chosen as the church’s new apostle.
THE TKACH ERA
After settling into office, the new pastor general, in response to Evangelical Christian critics who had labeled the Worldwide Church of God a “cult,” opened the church to a large-scale reexamination of the doctrinal stance and practices initially taught by Armstrong. In 1987 Tkach announced a doctrinal review intended to help the church prepare a Statement of Beliefs, and subsequently issued a new doctrinal manual. Changes began to be noticed by the end of the 1980s, when pieces of Armstrong’s writings (which had been published in a series of booklets) were one-by-one withdrawn from circulation, and the very popular Bible correspondence course was dropped from distribution as it went through a complete revision. The editorial format of The Plain Truth was changed in 1990 to focus more on biblical and spiritual matters rather than on commentary on world affairs. Two years earlier, a second magazine, Good News, had been discontinued.
The changes in the Worldwide Church of God came to a head in 1994–1995 as major steps were taken toward dropping significant and unique teachings of the church in order to move closer to mainstream Evangelical Christian beliefs. The most significant changes included the adopting of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the dropping of requirements that church members triple tithe, observe the Sabbath (Saturday) as a “holy time” and keep the annual festivals, and practice the dietary restraints outlined in the Levitical law. Church leaders also dropped the belief that the Worldwide Church of God had an exclusive relationship to God as the remnant of true believers in the last days of history.
The doctrinal changes have been hailed by the Evangelical Christian community, but rejected by many leading ministers and long-time church members who had organized their life around these beliefs and practices. Almost one-third of the membership withdrew and formed a variety of new churches, the two largest being the Global Church of God and the United Church of God. The financial disruption that resulted from the dropping of tithing requirements in January 1995 forced the church to divest itself of some capital assets and to cut back on staff. Then in the midst of these changes, in September 1995, Tkach died of cancer. He was succeeded by his son, Joseph Tkach Jr.
Under Armstrong’s leadership, the Worldwide Church of God accepted the basic doctrinal stance of the larger Church of God movement. It accepted the authority of the Bible. It was non-Trinitarian, with Armstrong proposing the idea that God could be thought of as a “family” of multiple “spirit beings” into which humans may be born. Armstrong was seen as God’s chosen apostle-messenger and he and the church he led had a special place in human history. Drawing on an interpretation of the biblical book of Revelation, chapters 2–3, he saw the Worldwide Church as God’s church of the last days. It was the Philadelphia church described in Revelation 3:7–14.
The church was sabbatarian and its members were expected to keep the Sabbath as a “holy time.” Christmas, Easter, and other popular holidays were denounced and the ancient Jewish feasts kept. Members were expected to tithe 20 percent of their income annually (10 percent being given to the church and 10 percent used for the celebration of the annual major feast) and an extra 10 percent every third year. Jewish dietary laws were also kept.
Among the major beliefs of the church was British Israelism, an understanding that the nations of northern and western Europe and those countries largely founded by them (such as Australia, South Africa, and especially the United States) were the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Often, the first piece of literature read by people who encountered the church was a booklet by Armstrong entitled The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy.
Marriage was deemed a onetime affair, to be kept inviolate until the death of one of the marriage partners. Divorce and remarriage was not allowed. Couples who joined the church after a second marriage were forced to separate, a fact that pained many ministers who were required to enforce the church’s teachings. Interracial marriage was forbidden.
During the Armstrong years, the high-profile church was labeled as a “cult” by numerous Evangelical Christian writers. A large number of anti-Armstrong books appeared through the 1970s and 1980s. However, through the years of Joseph Tkach and Joseph Tkach Jr.’s leadership, all of the church’s unique doctrines have been dropped and The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy has joined the pieces of literature that have been withdrawn from circulation. The church is going through a significant period of transition as members consider the new doctrinal perspective.
Herbert W. Armstrong served the church for many years as its apostle. As the chief administrator, he made all of the policy decisions and held the power to appoint all church officers and ministers. He was the chief teacher of the church and guided its development through a regular column in The Plain Truth and several hundred books and booklets published and regularly revised over the years. While most of these materials were distributed freely to any who asked for them, some were reserved for members only.
“The World Tomorrow” broadcast and the widespread distribution of The Plain Truth led to tens of thousands of people joining the church. Admission to member-ship was by baptism by immersion. Congregations are established across North America, but meet in rented facilities; thus they are virtually invisible in the larger religious landscape. Local congregations do not advertise their presence and only rarely are telephone numbers listed in local directories. Today, pastors’names and telephone numbers may be obtained from the church’s Internet site.
Eventually, some of church’s programs were discontinued due to financial difficulties. Ambassador Foundation, a cultural, humanitarian, and educational program, has been shut down. Ambassador College has also been discontinued, and The Plain Truth magazine was turned over to a new corporation, Plain Truth Ministries.
In 2008 the church reported some 42,000 members, worshiping in 900 congregations scattered in around 100 nations and territories.
Ambassador College, Big Sandy, Texas.
The Plain Truth. • Youth.
The Worldwide Church of God is among those religious bodies that have since the early 1970s been attacked as a “cult.” Numerous pieces of literature, primarily from a conservative evangelical Protestant perspective, have been produced about it. The bulk of the criticism has concerned the church’s departure from traditional Christian affirmations on such issues as the Trinity. Almost no objective studies have been produced about the church, and there has been a constant complaint from church leaders that the anti-church literature fails to portray their positions accurately.
Worldwide Church of God. www.wcg.org.
Armstrong, Herbert W. The Autobiography. Pasadena, CA: Ambassador College Press, 1967.
———. The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. Pasadena, CA: Worldwide Church of God, 1980.
Bjorling, Joel. The Churches of God, Seventh Day: A Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1987.
Hopkins, Joseph. The Armstrong Empire. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974.
McNair, Marion J. Armstrongism: Religion or Rip-off? Orlando, FL: Pacific Charters, 1977.
Nichols, Larry, and George Mather. Discovering the Plain Truth: How the Worldwide Church of God Encountered the Gospel of Grace. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998. 141 pp.
Rader, Stanley R. Against the Gates of Hell. New York: Everest House, 1980.
Robinson, David. Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web. Tulsa, OK: John Hadden Publishers, 1980.
This Is the Worldwide Church of God. Pasadena, CA: Ambassador College Press, 1971.
Tkach, Joseph. Transformed by Truth. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1997. 207 pp.
Tuit, John. The Truth Shall Make You Free. Freehold Township, NJ: Truth Foundation, 1981.