Old Articles Desired
I am seeking copies of old Plain Truth, Good News, co-worker letters, etc. of the Radio Church of God, especially on the subject of starting Ambassador College and setting up the hierarchical government structure that ensued (mainly between 1944-1954). I will gladly reimburse those who tell me what they spent for copying and postageplease don't "break" me!
Richard A. Heath
6097 N US Hwy 1
Ft. Pierce, FL 34946-7403
Sabbath Campers Fellowship
Once again, we have made plans for the 1997 SCF campouts. We hope that many of you will feel free to participate! The casual and informal atmosphere of the campground is an excellent place to fellowship. John 13:35 "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another."
Jim Rector of Cornerstone Publications, and Norm Edwards of Servants' News, will speak at the first campout planned for the weekend beginning Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8, 1997.
The second campout is scheduled for Friday, August 1 through Sunday, August 3, 1997. Speakers will be Ray Wooten, Pastor of the United Church of God, Birmingham and Alan Ruth of Barnabas Ministries.
Both campouts will be held at the Gateway Park Campground, 4111 W. Hallett Rd. in Hillsdale, Michigan, only about 10 miles north of the Indiana/Ohio state lines. All campers should make their own reservations by calling the campground office at (517) 437-7005. Reservations do tend to fill up early in the summer, so make yours as soon as possible to ensure your participation. For detailed directions to the campground and for motel accommodations nearby for those who only want daytime visits, please contact:
Al and Jeanne Raines
5415 Torrey Rd
Flint, Michigan 48507-3811
(810) 232-2288/232-5562 fax
South Texas Church of God
About 40 members have recently formed a new fellowship for those living in the San Antonio, Texas vicinity. Mainly exiting from the United Church of God, these members will continue to seek and find truth from the scriptures and other sources. For information on this congregation contact Terry Post at 210-655-5332, work: 210-779-2289, fax: 210-779-2396.
Friends of the Sabbath Conference in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin saw its first Friends of the Sabbath seminar on the weekend of March 14-16. In spite of being quickly put together and hosted, John Merritt and the Milwaukee FOS staff made it a success. This seminar focused on the Sabbath with a sub-theme of Messianic Judaism.
Most all of the presenters for the weekend gave brief introductions on Friday night. Samuele Bacchiocchi made two very interesting comments during his extended introduction.
He spoke well for tolerance and for building bridges among people. He summed that point up by saying, "We used to say, 'We have the truth.' We should be saying, 'We seek the truth.'"
In light of that comment he told us of how he was challenged to study into the trinity doctrine. He stated that he and others should not be afraid to look at it closely. He then mused over some rather pointed questions about the nature of the trinity doctrine and commented on how many of these concepts are not really scriptural.
Sabbath afternoon started with Phil Mills, a Seventh-Day Adventist Minister from Wichita, Kansas. He spoke about gifts and our possible ignorance of them. In Exodus 31, people were given the gift of art in the building of the tabernacle. He asked if it were possible that some eager Israelites got together and discussed issues like, "If you don't have the gift of art, then you really don't have the spirit!"
Samson was given a gift. Was it the gift of art? No, it was the gift of strength. Were the Apostles given the gift of art or of strength? They needed the gift of tongues. In other words, our Father gives to his children certain gifts at certain times to accomplish his will.
Kim Johnson, a accomplished Messianic Jew from Milwaukee spoke about God revealing himself to man.
Lauri Nelson, another well-studied Messianic Jew, gave a cursory overview of the two parts of Jewish lawthe written law and the oral law. The written law obviously comes from the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The oral law began around the time of Ezra. She showed that there were millions of Jews who were taken to Babylon, yet only tens of thousands returned to the land of Israel. It appeared that the rest were assimilated! From that perspective, Ezra and the scribes instructed the people. They diligently installed extra instruction to their teachings so that the people would never assimilate againsomething which appears to have worked. Now the activities around the Sabbath, i.e., the Kiddush and the Havdalah, are all designed to set apart the Sabbath as very special. It is all about sanctification.
Carl Falzone, a United Church of God elder from the Beloit, Wisconsin/ Rockford, Illinois area, spoke next. He discussed the opportunity that the Sabbath provides to build a relationship with God.
Sam Bacchiocchi then gave his presentation explaining how he was the first non-Catholic graduate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. As his warm manner is, with big smile and Italian accent, he retold a number of stories regarding his studies into how Sunday-keeping began well after the New Testament era.
Sidney Davis, a Seventh-Day Adventist, was the last speaker that evening. He showed that the law is really not divided into two divisionsone of moral law and the other of ceremonial law. This may be convenient, but not biblical. Augustine, Jerome, Luther and Calvin all used these ideas to argue against the Sabbath and the Holy Days. Colossians 2:14-17 was dealt with very specifically and it was shown that what was nailed to the cross was a certificate of indebtednessnot the law. He also pointed out that this conclusion is not consistent with official SDA views.
James Schmadl, a Messianic Rabbi from the Milwaukee area, spoke Sunday morning. He spoke of the culture that Yahweh primarily chose to work through, starting with the covenant he made with Abraham. When it came time to redeem man, he sent Yahshua into the Jewish world. Everything about early Christianity was Jewish. Yahshua did a very Jewish thing at his last supper when he performed the seder. Jews did this every Friday evening, on the holy days and at special occasions such as weddings and family get-togethers. The bread and the wine always pictured Messiah as often as they took itand it still does. The new believers were not called Christians, they were Jewish believers believing in the Rabbi Yahshua. After all, salvation is of the Jews.
Dean Wheelock, publisher of Hebrew Roots from Lakewood, a small community in the northern forests of Wisconsin, spoke on the value of understanding New Testament Judaism, since our faith does have Jewish roots.
He discussed a number of small points showing that our depth of understanding can be greatly increased just by knowing more about Judaism. He asked how could a cock crow three times if it were forbidden for there to be chickens in Jerusalem. He showed how Paul was a Torah-observant Jew. He also showed why John the Baptist sent his disciples asking Yeshua whether he was the Messiah when he supposedly already knew.
John Purvins, from Appleton, Wisconsin, gave a message similar in nature to Dean Wheelock's. He encouraged us to learn some Hebrew that we may understand the deeper things of the New Testament.
Those interested in corresponding with an isolated member, and SN subscriber, may choose to write Bob Lim. He reads and writes English, and has read numerous Sabbath-keeper's publications. Write to:
7, Lorong Pandangan
42000 Port Klang
Ancient History on CD-ROM
For those who have computers and like to study, a wealth of information is available on one CD-ROM. It contains: The Ante-Nicene Fathers, The Nicene Fathers, and The Post Nicene Fathers, Life and Writings of Flavius Josephus, Fox's Book of Martyrs, Darby Translation, Young's Literal Bible Translation, and over 100 other books. You can do full text searching on all books at once or separately. Ask for The Sage Digital Library ($60 postpaid). This and other Bible books and videos are available from:
Sabbath House Ministries
PO Box 623
Thorsby, AL 35171-0623
205-646-3290 (fax: 205-646-3425)
WCG and PCG Legal Maneuvers Continue Regarding Mystery of the Ages
The Philadelphia Church of God continues to print and distribute Herbert Armstrong's last book, Mystery of the Ages. The Worldwide Church of God, copyright holder of the book, filed suit in a Los Angeles Federal court in an effort to get a preliminary injunction restraining the PCG from printing until the merits of the suit are tried. This is the usual practice in copyright infringement cases. However, the Los Angeles Judge agreed that the PCG had a reasonable chance of prevailing in the case and refused to grant a preliminary injunction to stop the printing.
The WCG attorneys then dropped the case in Los Angeles and refiled it in an Oklahoma City Federal court. There will be a few weeks delay until the assigned judge can hold a preliminary hearing, at which time he could grant an injunction restraining any further printing and distribution, or he also could refuse to grant an injunction until the case is tried.
The reason why this is not a clear open-and-shut copyright case is that the PCG is claiming that their religious freedom is being limited by being unable to reproduce "the Scriptures of their religion"which is approximately the status that they give "Mystery of the Ages". If the WCG were to continue to sell Mystery of the Ages at a reasonable price, the PCG would have to buy it from them. If this case is tried and decided in the PCG's favor, other writings of Herbert Armstrong may essentially be put in the public domain. The fact that Armstrong was the "founder" of the religion was a major factor in the Los Angeles judges reasoning. It is unlikely that a court decision would affect the copyright status of literature authored for the WCG by other individuals or groups.
We at Servant's News are glad to see greater access to Herbert Armstrong's writings, but do not feel that they are the Gospel-preaching tools of choice. We do not believe they should have the status of "Scripture" and feel there is danger in idolizing deceased leaders. The Gospel must continue to be taken to the world by living people who can speak and write the truth as it needs to be heard today! If there is one thing we can learn, it is that the writings of righteous men should not be held by corporate copyrightsone can never know when someone with a different approach will get control over a corporation and use that control to prevent publication of the writings. Public domain writings will always be available if someone wants to print them. We can be thankful that the original Bible manuscripts are not controlled by a copyright!
Bert Otten is ceasing the publications, Truth & Error, Waarheid & Dwaling, and Postbox 612 due to various changing circumstances in his life. He requests that no one ask for new subscriptions and would like those who have received his mailings to realize that there will not be any more.
PO Box 612
2800 AP Gouda
UCG Tired of Local Boards
The United Church of God was founded in April 1995 on the principles of strong local congregations served by a home office. In our Sept-Oct 1995, and again in our Dec 1995 issue, Servants' News warned that the governing documents being produced by the UCG essentially made it a top-down hierarchy, with a certain appearance of group participation. At that time the UCG hierarchy made little effort to assert the power vested in it. But now, the asserting of power comes.
The Kansas City UCG set up a board in good faith after hearing the following from Richard Pinelli in May 1995 immediately after the Indianapolis conference. This is part of his letter:
I'm using the term 'local board' because I think you will see that the ministry will go back to a ministry of the word and prayer. The ministry will go back to ministering the word and prayer. They're going to get out of "deaconing".... The point is that we're going to try to make sure that the decisions about hall rentals and set up of the hall, the Passover, and all the things that have to be donethe buying of equipmentwe're going to leave that in the hands of the men, and we're going to try to do more work in evangelizing. We're going to try to do more work in trying to take care of the needs of the sheep from the point of view of real pastoring instead of all the other things. And then the board is going to be involved in some particular way so that if there is a problem, that they in the head office [sic] will be involved."
In their April 5, 1997 Kansas City Board Meeting, the UCG Local Pastor, Larry Greider, told the board that if he cannot over-rule any decision made by the board, then he cannot Pastor the church. Shortly after, they received this letter from Richard Pinelli, representing UCG headquarters:
April 11, 1997
Dear Brethren in Kansas City,
I am writing this letter because this past week I heard from several people in regard to your board meeting last Saturday night. I want to make a few statements concerning the growth and development of the United Church of God, that has taken place since that meeting I had with many of you in early May of 1995only four days after the Indianapolis conference. It occurred to me that perhaps there are some misperceptions about some of the comments that I made at that meeting. In addition, the fact is that my views and vision of how UCG would operate have been developed further over the past 18 months as the Constitution and Bylaws were ratified in Cincinnati.
It is helpful to note that the term "board" is never used in the documents coming out of Cincinnati. The idea of boards comes primarily from a presentation in Indianapolis, which I used in the first meeting with many of you immediately after being there. While we are not opposed to boards, we must realize their purpose is to advise and not govern. In the meeting in Kansas City and the sermon I gave on governance, the role of the minister, his responsibility and proper authority was never intended to have changed.
Let me quote from the constitution:
"126.96.36.199 The Local Congregation: An assembly of members, wherever located, pastored by a minister recognized by the United Church of God, an International Association (UCG), and governed by the UCG's published rules of association, shall constitute a local congregation of the United Church of God, an International Association. Each local congregation is GUIDED and SHEPHERDED by a pastor, ASSISTED by elders, deacons and deaconesses. A congregation MAY establish one or more local ADVISORY councils to ASSIST the ministry in SERVING the needs of the local congregation, the Church as a whole, and as they have the opportunity, their local community. The local congregation also works in conjunction with the Council of Elders and the home office to administer the established policies and procedures of the UCG."
A congregation of UCG is first of all one which is "pastored by a minister recognized by United Church of God, an International Association (UCG)." The pastor is appointed, and he is responsible for serving God's people and the well-being of the entire congregation. The article goes on to state that he is to shepherd and guide the congregation. He is assisted by elders and deacons. The next statement: "A congregation MAY establish one or more local advisory councils to ASSIST the ministry in SERVING the needs of the local congregation." The article goes further to declare that a congregation is to ADMINISTER the ESTABLISHED POLICIES AND PROCEDURES OF THE UCG. Our established policies and procedures place the pastor in a position of oversight of the local congregation.
There was NEVER any intention when UCG was formed, for a board or council to control a local congregation. The pastor is responsible, ASSISTED by the deacons and elders, and ASSISTED by advisory councils from the congregation.
The Constitution further defines the role of the ministry in relation to the congregation:
"3.2.2 Administration Within the Church: We acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord, the Apostle of our faith and the Head of the Church. We acknowledge that God, in order to fulfill His mission and purpose for His Church, has appointed some to carry the gospel to the world, some to pastor local congregations, some to teach, some to help, and some to administer. To the end that all members may exercise the grace given to them by God as He has willed, the following administrations within the Church are hereby established."
A Church pastor is appointed. It is a calling. The members do not elect the pastor, nor do they govern the pastor. He is responsible for the well-being of the congregation and not a board or council.
The Kansas City board, at that early time, was set up with elders, deacons and leaders of the Church to handle the physical matters of the Church. The definition was refined in Cincinnati in our Constitution as "advisory" councils. An advisory body gives helpful input to assist the pastor; however it does not govern.
I know that the past two years has been unsettling for some in the Kansas City area. While trust must be built, I do hope everyone is willing to abide by and honor our Constitution and Bylaws in this regard, since the meaning is clear and more importantly, it is consistent with the Bible in this regard.
I hope this helps clear up where we are in United Church of God, an International Association, and where we have come from, since that first meeting we held in May, 1995, when the Kansas City Church was begun. Together, we can serve each other, the Church of God, and work together as God's people to share this great message of hope with a desperate world.
Your brother in Christ,
(There was no signature, this area was blank.)
Mr. Grieder stated that there were only 9 boards left among the UCG congregations. When asked if their interpretation meant that local church governance in UCG is identical to WCG and Global, Mr. Grieder said, "Yes."
It is interesting to note that all three of the above organizations will acknowledge that there are converted people in the other organizations. Yet, they all claim a hierarchy where God only works from the top down. Cannot they also see, that each member has individually chosen which of these three organizations they will attend? And then we must ask, is God limited to three? The breakup of the WCG has taught brethren that the Eternal sometimes gives them choices. The only thing that will stop these organizations from their continued loss of members is for their leaders to acknowledge that they are but men, and they should be followed only as they teach from the Bible, as the Spirit works through them and as they do works worthy of following. Leaders have no "right" to the allegiance of any believer.
New Hymnal Available Soon
Last fall some friends and I decided to put together a hymnal for our brethren in the churches of God. Although the five people involved are all part of UCG, our goal from the start was to keep this project free from any corporational boundaries. I set a goal of April 1st to have all the editorial work done, and amazingly enough, we made it! I have a rough draft ready, and now we are taking a little time to figure out how much interest there is in our hymnbook. We need to decide how many to print before we can finalize royalty negotiations with the Worldwide Church of God and a few individuals.
We think we have come up with an uplifting collection of hymns both old and new. I tried to preserve our musical heritage and still give it a contemporary feel. It is definitely oriented towards our people, with hymns about Christ returning, the millennium, and the Sabbath. Here is a breakdown of the contents:
Hymns by Dwight Armstrong (with their original lyrics):
Blest and Happy Is the Man
How Excellent Is Thy Name
I Will Praise Thee, O Eternal
Who Shall Dwell on Thy Holy Hill?
Thee Will I Love, O Lord
Blessed Is the Nation God Is For
Turn Thou From Evil
O God, We Have Heard
Mount Zion Stands Most Beautiful
In Thy Lovingkindness, Lord
Thou Shepherd That Dost Israel Keep
Praise the Eternal With a Psalm
How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings
O Lord of Hosts, My King, My God
O Come and Let Us Worship Him
Holy Mighty Majesty
Bless the Lord Eternal, O My Soul
Praise Belongs to God
O Give Thanks and Praise the Eternal
O How Love I Thy Law!
Unless the Lord Shall Build the House
Praise God's Name
His Mercy Never Fails
By the Waters of Babylon
Hallelujah! Praise God
Go Ye Therefore Into All the World
If I Have Not Charity
Not Many Wise Men Now Are Called
Behold, the Day Will Come
Other songs which are also in the WCG hymnal:
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
All Glory, Laud and Honor
Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty
The Lord's My Shepherd (Crimond)
The Lord's My Shepherd (Havergal)
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Salt of the Earth
Consider the Lillies
God Speaks to Us
All Hail the Power of Jesus Name
The Church's One Foundation
We have a Story to Tell to the Nations
All Things Work Together
One Faith, One Love
Battle Hymn of the Republic
God Is Our Refuge
Onward Christian Soldiers
O God Our Help in Ages Past
The New Jerusalem
It Won't Be Long Now
How Good and How Pleasant
By This Shall All Men Know
Songs which are in the WCG hymnal but which appear in ours in a somewhat different form:
Immortal, Invisible (slightly different melody)
Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (same words, different tunesame tune as Love Divine, All Loves Excelling in the WCG book)
O Worship the King (alternate tune)
America the Beautiful (lower key, different arrangement)
The Mountain of the Lord (The verse has a new melody and reworked lyrics)
Old songs which are new to us:
All People That on Earth Do Dwell (Familiar words set to Thomas Tallis' famous canonmay be sung as a round)
The God of Abraham Praise (An old hymn, with a new third verse which makes it particularly appropriate for God's people)
Men and Children Everywhere (An old Jewish melody, 20th century lyrics about God's creation)
The Spacious Firmament (Adapted from Haydn's Creation)
Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him (Words from Psalm 148)
On the Sabbath Day (Melody written in the 1800s by Mark Warshavsky, a Ukrainian Jewish folk song writer. Used in the soundtrack of Schindler's List. New words by Mark Graham.)
The People That in Darkness Sat (Isaiah 9)
In Christ There Is No East or West
Were You There (African-American spiritual about the crucifixion)
In Joseph's Lovely Garden (Traditional Spanish melody, words about Christ's death and resurrection)
God, Who Made the Earth
We Gather Together (Same melody as We Praise Thee O God, Our Redeemer)
And a few new songs:
Wake, My Heart (by Mark Grahamwords from Psalm 108, various millennial scriptures)
Great God, Who Made the Universe (by Mark Graham, about God's creation and plan)
In Days of Old (by Mark Graham, about Christ's birth and ministry)
Listen (John 3:16, and other scriptures about God's plan, melody from South Africa)
Song in the Night (by Mark Graham, about the work yet to be done)
There Is Joy in My Heart (Mark Graham, about Christ's return)
From the Highest Heaven (melody from the Peruvian Andes, about Christ's return)
God Is Calling Children (by Mark Graham, lyrics adapted from HWA's three mandates)
God Will See Us Through (by Mark Graham, my personal favorite, a hymn about God bringing us through the times between now and Christ's return)
The hymnal will contain 77 hymns in all93 pages (including index) with a durable soft cover. The Title will be: Songs for the Family of God.
We do not know the cost yet. Jim Hopkins is printing it at near cost; the rest of us are donating all labor and hymns. Our only expenses are royalties and printing and shipping costs. I would guess it will cost around $6 or $7 per book, mostly because of royalties, since I thought it was important to use some Dwight Armstrong hymns. They are a part of our tradition that we all have in common.
If this is of interest to you, it would help us to know how many copies you think you would order. If you have questions, you can e-mail me or call. I am out working most of the time but by now my wife and maybe even my children know as much about the project as I do, and someone can answer your questions. If you call on Sabbath, the answering machine will be on, but just say you are calling about the hymnal and we will talk if we are home.
I know this hymnal will not please everyone but I think there are some real treasures here. I am very happy with the collection. I have received much encouraging e-mail so farit's part of what kept me going! Thanks for your interest!
PO Box 770261
Lakewood, OH 44107-0019
Tel: 216-529-1380 (Eastern Time)
Trouble for Church Corporations
The March-April 1996 Servants' News contained an article on why we are not a tax exempt, non-profit organization. One of the chief reasons was that such organizations must promise to comply with all IRS regulationsboth past and future. It seems that a lot more regulations were just added. The following is a quote from "Pastor's Family" magazine, (Feb-Mar 1997, page 29) Colorado Springs, CO 80995, a publication from Focus on the Family.
Last year's "Intermediate Sanctions" legislation affects every church and religious organization in America. It is the most sweeping law of its kind in 25 years.
The new law covers anyone who can exercise substantial influence over a non-profit organization (a "disqualified person," as newly defined by the legislation). If the IRS determines the person has received "excess benefits," he or she will be hit with a 25 percent penalty tax.
This need not be an employee or a director. Family members of disqualified person are also covered. The key factor is the amount of control the person has over financial affairs of the organization.
If penalized, a minister must pay back the benefit to the organization and pay the penalty tax and interest on the tax. The church and individual board members may also be liable for withholding-tax penalties. The new law is retroactive and applies to any compensation paid on or after Sept. 14, 1995.
What kinds of compensation are being considered as possible excess benefits? Here is a partial list of what IRS officials say are "potential targets": convention trips paid by the church, particularly when spouses are included; church-paid tuition, use of a "company car"; unsupervised expense accounts; sports and theater tickets; below-market loans and leases; free accounting, estate planning or legal services; paid sabbaticals; and excess contributions to pension and deferred-compensation plans.
A former IRS official told me the new legislation may be an administrative nightmare for organizations. But that's the law.
This article was written by J. David Epstein, a tax attorney in Carmel, Indiana who specializes in financial matters concerning ministers and Christian organizations. &
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