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.
Ray Wooten and over a score of other long-time ministers have seen the need to continue to be good shepherds, teaching the truth and doing the work that the Eternal has given to his saints. Although he is over 60 years old, Mr. Wooten gave up his retirement to continue to serve the local brethren and to help other congregations continue to teach the truth. He has expressed his hope that ministers everywhere will have the courage to teach what they believe to be true and to consider first their obligation to their Father and also to their congregations.
Mr. Wooten believes that local congregations are best served by organizing and incorporating (if necessary) on a local basis, then working together on a national or international basis in areas where a larger group is more effective. Some of the other men in contact with him are in the process of setting up their own local congregations.
Mr. Wooten meets in Birmingham with about 175 people each Sabbath. You may contact him for more information at 205-822-8938.
George E. Crow, a Houston, TX attorney and several other professional men have formed a corporation known as the Worldwide Church of God Texas. Their purpose is to complete the paperwork necessary to form an organization to essentially continue the work that the Worldwide Church of God did for many years.
The corporate bylaws are different in some areas to prevent a few men from reversing the doctrines of the organization (as we have recently witnessed). The bylaws vest control of the corporation in the board of directors—also called the Council of Elders. The Council of Elders would be made up of all “ordained” elders and any necessary additional advisory personnel. The council selects corporate officers, approves all ordinations and approves removal of ministers.
If the holy spirit moves the leaders and their congregations in this direction, then Mr. Crow and his associates are ready to serve. For additional information, contact George Crow, 1519 Miller Ave, Katy, TX 77493, 713-391-9564.
Gerald Weston, David Burson, and over 200 other people have been meeting independently since the middle of March in Kansas City, MO. Members drive from a number of outlying areas to meet with a congregation that believes that the law (including the Sabbath) was given to us because it is good for us and our neighbors.
Mr. Weston and many long-time members are considering the possibilities of working with one of the larger organizations. For more information, contact Mr. Weston at 816-228-2035.
Over 40 people have been meeting each Sabbath at the home of Karl Beyersdorfer in Southwestern Missouri. They have outgrown the capacity of their home and will be meeting in a hall in the near future. Mr. Beyersdorfer can be reached at 417-623-8888.
Letter: March 14, 1995
One of our associates provided me with a copy of your recent letter and publication. Thank you very much!
I never cease to marvel at how our heavenly father manages to provide “like minds” in various parts of the country for us to fellowship with. Your approach sounds virtually identical to that which we have taken in the past two years. We have taken slightly different names—we refer to ourselves as the “scattered brethren”.
We currently have 9 regulars meeting in our homes in Oregon and there are nine more in Southern California. Others in New Mexico, Wyoming, Illinois and Canada.
Our feast last year on the Oregon coast was attended by 51 people and what a glorious feast it was.
We would very much like to hear from any and all of you, and we would like to share some of the things we have been doing with you. Of course, we would like reciprocity from you.
I am enclosing a copy of our latest publication. As you can see, we encourage any and all to participate. Please put me on your mailing list, and advise whether you wish to continue receiving the Scattered Brethren.
—Bob Strelow, 2951 SE Fuller Rd #47, Portland, OR 97266, 503-777-9262.
Response: This letter was answered with a telephone call. We agreed to remain on each other’s mailings list and exchange literature and other information.
Letter: March 21, 1995
Dear Friends of the Brethren,
My son [name withheld] received a letter from your group the other day. I must say that as being former members of the WWC of G. we were very impressed with what you had to say. We had discontinued our membership in the fall of 1989. We have been meeting with a few other former members since then every Sabbath. The few things that you have mentioned in your short letter were very encouraging because all of these items we have been discussing in great detail. It was very uplifting to see others from another area that are of “one mind”.
We are interested to see what your views are on other matters such as 1 Cor 14:1 and all of that chapter. Also, on Eph 5, especially 5:21.
[In your letter] on page 2 paragraph 3 under “Does the Eternal work through one man or one organization” you say Moses commanded the people to choose the wise, understanding and knowledgeable “persons”. Please explain; my Bible says “men” in verse 13. Are you trying to be politically correct or was this an inadvertent error?
We look forward to your response.
—J.T., St. Ignatious, MT
Response: Thank you for your encouragement. We believe that 1 Corinthians 14 and other chapters tell us a lot about how Sabbath services should be conducted. Many “Church of God” organizations today have based their services on the protestant model instead of looking to the scriptures. We intend to write an article on this subject. We would be interested in hearing from others who have studied this matter.
Ephesians 5 and the questions of authority and submission are the topic of another article that is nearing completion. No one should ever exert their will upon another just because they are “in charge.” From our Messiah’s words and life example, we see that the purpose of authority is service (Matt 20:26, Phil 2:6-7). We find no scripture where a righteous person holds up his office or occupation as a reason for others to obey (never “do it my way because I’m an apostle”). I understand Ephesians 5:21 to mean that we should submit to anyone “in the fear of God”—if anyone shows us what the will of the Eternal is (usually via scriptures), then we should hear them, regardless of position.
The use of “persons” was inadvertent. The Hebrew word there is enowshe which has a meaning like the English word “man.” It usually means adult males, but can be extended to include everybody. It is translated “people” in Jonah 3:5 and persons in Zephaniah 3:4. I think it is unlikely that the “captains” included any women. Men were given the primary leadership role in Genesis 3:16. Sometimes, when men would not stand up to do their job, women such as Deborah, Jael and Abigail did it for them (Judges 4-5, 1Sam 25). I believe men have largely misused their authority over women just as they have largely misused other positions of authority. They will be held accountable for this abuse. However, 1 Timothy 2:12 and other scriptures show that leadership responsibilities should be given to men if one is available to do the job. Again, this is the subject for another good article.
The True Church (assembly of believers) are those people with the holy spirit. The Eternal’s people should not create divisions among themselves based on the particular corporation or leader they support or learn from (1Cor 3). We all have a need to fellowship with the Eternal’s people and do the work that He has given us to do. That can be done with or without a corporate organization.
Individual circumstances such as distance, family size, health and age affect our options for fellowship. Our own Biblical understanding of doctrine is another crucial factor. We will probably never find a group of people that we agree with on everything. We should find a group where we can have a peaceful working relationship and where differences do not have to become points of constant division (see Romans 14).
Below, we list a number of organizations with many Sabbath-keeping congregations across the country. Some welcome any seriously interested visitors, others may insist you meet certain requirements before attending. Our experience has shown that the acceptance given to visitors varies tremendously even among congregations of the same organization. If you say, “they wouldn’t want me to attend with them,” and never ask, you have not been a peacemaker (Matt 5:9). If you ask to attend and the organization refuses you, then they will have to someday explain whether or not they were causing division.
Church of God, 7th Day [Salem WV]. PO Box 328, Salem, WV 26426. 304-782-1411.
Church of God, International. P.O. Box 2530, Tyler TX 75710. 903-825-2525
General Conference of the Church of God 7th Day. PO Box 33677, Denver, CO 80233. 303-452-7973.
General Council of the Church of God (7th day). 1827 W. 3rd St. Meredian, ID 83642. 208-888-3380.
Global Church of God. PO Box 501111, San Diego CA 92150. 619-675-2222.
Philadelphia Church of God. PO Box 3700, Edmond OK 73083. 405-340-7474.
Hot off the press! The 1995 Directory of Sabbath-observing Groups is now available from the Bible Sabbath Association, RD 1 Box 222, Fairview, OK 73737. This book lists many small groups too numerous to mention here. While some groups in this publication would appear unacceptable to many of our readers, this book is a great aid in finding a place to fellowship or people to correspond with. BSA requests $12 for one book post-paid. Multiple-copy discounts are available.
If you discover a group that is not in this directory, Friends of the Brethren would appreciate hearing about it. We will attempt to maintain a file for the benefit of others looking for a place to attend.
If you are not able to fellowship with a Sabbath-keeping group that feeds you, there are organizations that will send tapes on a weekly basis, plus provide other literature. While we do not endorse every teaching of these organizations, we feel there is much to be learned from them:
Christian Biblical Church of God. PO Box 1442, Hollister, CA 95024. 408-637-1875.
Church of the Great God. PO Box 471846. Charlotte, NC 28247. 800-878-8220 or 704-544-2100
Congregation of God Seventh Day. PO Box 2345, Kennesaw, GA 30144.
Cornerstone Publications. 3802 Olive Street, Texarkana, TX 75503.
This list is by no means complete. There are many others. Also, most of the larger organizations listed under “Places to Fellowship” have cassette tape programs.
A number of organizations and individuals are making arrangements for the Feast of Tabernacles this year. We encourage everyone to ask for the Eternal’s guidance and then attend in the place He leads you. If you are looking for a place to attend, there are a number of groups that will welcome anyone that is seriously interested in participating. We will all need some patience this year as many people are changing the group with which they fellowship—accurately estimating attendance and facilities needed will be difficult.
We will publish a list of sites accepting members without regard to their corporate affiliation. If you know of other sites that are open to any of the Eternal’s people, please let us know and we will be glad to list them here. We expect a much larger list for the next issue. In addition to this list, some of the organizations listed under “Places to Fellowship” may allow you to attend one of their sites.
The festival dates are listed with each site as multiple calendar systems in use among the Eternal’s people. Please be sure to verify that the dates of the Feast you plan to attend correspond to your understanding of the Eternal’s calendar. [We are not trying to say that one calendar system is as good as another, Many individuals have sincerely studied the scriptures and arrived at different conclusions. The Eternal honored alterations to his festivals when the intent was good (2Chr 30:1-3, 20, 23, 27) but condemned those with an evil intent (1Kngs 12:32-33, 13:1-3). It is not our job to judge people for the understanding they have deduced from the scripture on this rather complex subject.]
Feast Sites in Order by State:
Florida, Destin. October 9-16. Contact James Rector, 3802 Olive St, Texarkana, TX 75503.
Oregon, (coast). Details to be finalized soon.
South Carolina, Myrtle Beach. Contact John Pinkston, PO Box 2345, Kennesaw, GA 30144.
Texas. Details to be finalized soon.
We have leads to several other sites which will be announced in the next issue.
Only a few years ago, many (but not all) of our brethren believed that the Eternal worked primarily through one organization. They believed that the organization would continue to grow in truth and they should follow their minister as long as he appeared to be following headquarters. They believed that God “backed up” any decisions that were made and if they were wrong, He would correct them
This concept has been shattered. Most brethren now realize that the Eternal does allow deception among his people to see who is with Him (1Cor 11:19). They realize that they cannot simply sit back and accept whatever comes our of their leader’s or minister’s mouth as the Truth. They must “try the spirits” (1 Jn 1:4). Members are going to want to see scriptural proof before they change doctrines or practices or before they obey an apparently arbitrary command of a local minister. After so many just men have been “disfellowshipped” for simply talking about the same doctrines they had believed for 10 years, fear of disfellowshipment from a human organization has also faded.
As most ministers are now seeking to work within organizations where they cannot be removed by one man for any reason, so members are seeking congregations where they cannot be removed by one man for any reason. Now that there are multiple similar organizations, it is unlikely that members will remain in an organization that treats them unjustly.(as defined by scripture).
We encourage men that have made their living in church organizations to examine themselves and ask “Will I be an effective leader if members are not forced to follow me?” How can a member, whose minister commanded him to quit his job to keep the Sabbath, trust a “minister” who will not oppose major errors just to keep his job? If you cooperated in disfellowshipping members for clinging to the Truth, can they now look to you as a reliable source of truth?
The scripture is clear: each man’s work will be judged and a greater judgement falls on the leaders (1Cor 3:11-15, Ezk 24:7-11, Jms 3:1). While it may be possible to fool many of our subordinates and associates, we cannot fool our Father in Heaven.
Send Us Your News!
or not, publication editors are not people who automatically know
whats going on. The only way we know about significant events
is by somebody telling us, by reading a publication or by asking various
groups what they are planning. We simply do not have time to contact numerous
groups before each issue to get their current news. We receive a lot of
publications, but cannot read all of them. Many groups do not have a publication.