News from Local Congregations
Orange County Special Sabbath
All are welcome to a special Sabbath weekend April 3-4 at the New Community Church in Irvine, California. Events include: Bible Study, Friday 7:30-9:00 PM; Sabbath service, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM; a potluck lunch; and an open forum session 2:15-3:30 PM. The speakers will be Norman Edwards and Dale Stogner. A variety of Bible topics will be covered, including congregational organization. The hall is located at 2025 Alton Pky. (Exit I-5 at Jamboree, go west, turn right at Alton). For more information, call Dale or Rosemary Stogner at 714-730-3561.
CEM Spring Holy Day Meetings
Plan now to join us April 10th, 11th, and 12th for our annual Christian Renewal Conference during the Days of Unleavened Bread. This year we'll be meeting at the Cohutta Lodge and Conference Center in Chatsworth, Georgia near Fort Mountain State Park. This facility ofers beautiful rooms, splendid views, family activities and a restaurant with a "clean" buffet.
Scheduled speakers at this time include Ronald L. Dart, Larry Watkins and Steve Sanders. For reservations, contact the lodge at 706-695-9601, mention CEM. For more information, contact Christian Educational Ministries, PO Box 560 Whitehouse, Texas 75791, 903-509-2999; Fax: 903-509-1139; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.
CGI Bible Study Weekend
The Church of God, International, in Tyler, Texas, will host Holy Day services, seminars, a hymn-along, and a concert during the weekend of April 17, 18, and 19, 1998. This event will be open to the public. For more information on the weekend schedule and available housing and/or camping, contact: The Church of God, International, PO Box 2525, Tyler, Texas 75710; Phone: 903-825-2525; Fax: 903-825-6861;E-mail:email@example.com.
Sabbath-Keeper's Users Group
This meeting is sponsored by the Bible Sabbath Association and Friends of the Sabbath on March 20-22, 1998 at the Seventh Day Baptist Church, 2301 Wadsworth Blvd, Lakewood, CO 80215, 303-233-0121. Tentative schedule:
Friday, March 20, 7 to 9 PM:
Introduction of Speakers; summary of their presentations; Richard Nickels, Bible Study Tools; Dr. John Merritt, International Biblical Learning Center; John Conrod, Witnessing by E-mail and on the Web
Saturday, March 21, 3 to 9 PM:
Tom Justus, Tract Publishing, Local Evangelism; Alan Ruth, Buying Computers, Internet Searching, Sharing the Gospel through Web Pages; Scott Ashley, Magazine Editing and Production; Cecil Shrock, Teaching Natural Health with the Gospel, Dr. Phil Mills, Bible Study Software; Sherry Mills, Sabbath Schools, Conducting and Writing. A Potluck Meal will be held about 6 PM on the Sabbath.
Sunday, March 22, 10 AM to 1 PM:
Richard Nickels, Using Spread sheets to Manage Mailing Lists; Lars Harrison, Utilizing the Brethren's Talents to Preach the Gospel; Diane Kleeschulte, Breaking the Ice in Sabbath School Teaching. (Actual ending time will depend upon the final number of speakers)
Motels in the area:
Motel 6, 480 Wadsworth, 303-232-4924.
Quality Inn West, 12100 W 44th Ave, 800-228-5151.
Super 8, 10101 W 48th Ave, Wheatridge, I-70 Exit 267 Kipling St, 303-424-8300.
Days Inn: I-70 & West Colfax, 303-277-0200.
John Conrod, 303-237-0533. John has both a Bachelor's degree in business administration from Seattle Pacific University and a Master's degree in Pastoral Counselling from Eastern Baptist Seminary. He has worked for many years as a Seventh Day Baptist pastor, as well as in the accounting and business administration fields. He served as the Hospital Administrator and Missions Director for Makawpa Mission and Hospital in Malawi, Africa.
A former Cost Accountant, John took "early retirement" and now does voluntary work through a non-profit organization called New Covenant Ministries. He conducts internal audits for non-profit organizations all across the United States, and is a Vice President of The Bible Sabbath Association. John is editor of a monthly internet newsletter for the Mid-Continent Association of Seventh Day Baptists, titled the "Fisherman's Net." The Association also set up Fisherman's Net Publications to distribute electronic material, of which John is the Publisher. The material can be accessed on the Worldwide Web at http://home.att.net/~conrod/fish.htm.
Sabbath-Keepers Users Group Meeting in Australia
The Bible Sabbath Association and Friends of the Sabbath are sponsoring a Users Group Meeting in Australia for all Sabbath-keepers. The first Australian meeting is to be patterned after the one in the USA [see previous story] and is tentatively scheduled for later this year in Sydney ( date to be determined). The purpose of the meeting is to share information about spreading the Gospel. This is a "how to," nuts and bolts session. Expected results are: increased co-operation and awareness among Sabbath-keeping groups, more efficient use of resources, cost savings through sharing of "best practices" knowledge. The purpose of this Users Group is not to foster merging of groups, but to share knowledge and empower each to use the Almighty's gifts more effectively. Participants will become aware of the successes and failures of others, and discover experts in a wide range of fields.
Speakers are asked to prepare a 30-90 minute tape in areas of their expertise, and answer questions. Tapes of the entire session will be made available by the Bible Sabbath Association, and summaries will be posted on the Internet. Please let us know if you are interested in attending the conference or in presenting a topic. For further information ring: (02) 9521 6742 (Henk Merison); (02) 9745 2964 (Craig White) or (02) 4991 2525 (Alan Kendall) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Write to Bible Sabbath Association, 23 Linden Street, Sutherland, NSW 2232, Australia.
Australians: Do not forget about the Rick Sherrod lecture series this June (covered in previous SNs). Contact Craig White, above, for details.
Ron Dart Meets Rod Meredith
We very much enjoyed our visit to the Global Church of God headquarters in San Diego. Rod Meredith and Raymond McNair took my wife Allie and me to lunch, and showed us around the offices. They were very open about everything, discussed freely their headaches and problems as well as plans and finances. I would say that we were received very warmly, and they expressed an interest in cooperating in areas where we might be able to help one another.
We had a valuable contact on a feast location we had decided not to use, and passed it on to them. I think they will be using it.
It is a classic example of finding that people who have been beat up on for mistakes of the past turning out to be human after all.
[I personally worked with Rod Meredith for nearly two years and found him very easy to work with. I think most others would find him the same way. The difficulty, I believe, is that the leaders of many hierarchical organizations do not have the faith to say "Let our members attend services or Feasts with other groups, let them read other literature, let them talk about Scriptures that appear to differ from our doctrines." If these organization's leaders really believed in their hearts that they were God's main work and that they were the most filled with God's Spirit, then they would not fear, but welcome interaction with other groups, because more people would learn about their group. But unfortunately, there is a great tendency for hierarchies to keep their members away from other groups because they realize that they are more likely to lose than gain members. NSE]
More German Reunification?
[We received this e-mail post about cooperation between the United Church of God (AIA) and the Global Church of God. If this can begin happening all over the world, it will be an important step to breaking down the divisions between brethren that are too often created by organizations. NSE]
Larry Salyer and Norbert Link [GCG ministers] would like to express their sincere appreciation for the kind words from some of you regarding their speaking at United [Church of God] Services in Germany in response to an invitation from German UCG ministers Paul Kieffer and Winfried Fritz.
Subsequently, Global invited Paul Kieffer to speak at GCG services last Sabbath in Pensacola, as Mr. and Mrs. Kieffer were visiting over there with Mr. Kieffer's parents-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. John Burquist. Mr. Burquist, as the local elder, and Mr. Dan Hall, as the Pastor, attended services, as did 26 additional brethren. After services, nearly the entire group went to a nearby restaurant for lunch and fellowship for another 90 minutes.
Larry Salyer & Norbert Link
Assorted Flavors of 7th Day Sabbatarians
Sabbatarian Internet users might like to check out this Web site:
This is a service to the 7th day Sabbatarian community. It has forums, Sabbatarian chat rooms, e-mail lists, message boards, and more. It has links to numerous Sabbatarian ministries, publications, exhaustive Feast site listing, study sites and personal web sites. It also includes links to non-sabbatarian research that provide good resources for information.
The Sabbatarian Webring is a highway to your web page from another Sabbatarian web page. Webmasters can put the webring on their web site with their site name on it.
Foster Friendships for Sabbatarians
On February 21, nine people from the UCG-Bloomington traveled to Oak Brook, Illinois as guests of the Church of God-Downers Grove, pastored by Ken Svehla. A Bloomington member, Jerry Reece, traveled last July to Asahikawa, Japan, as a part of the Sister Cities program. Asahikawa is one of Bloomington-Normal's three Sister Cities and Jerry's wife is a member of the Normal town council. Jerry took a video camera and obtained footage of various events the group attended. Ken Svehla learned of the trip while at the Feast in Kissimmee, Florida and wanted Jerry to come up to their fledgling church and give a presentation during the sermon time.
About thirty to thirty-five filled the small meeting room to hear Jerry's brief overview of the trip and an introduction to Buddhism. Jerry pointed out a few similarities and the many differences between this chief religion of most of Asia and the truth of God as we know it. Sandwiched in between was video footage of numerous cultural dances and ceremonies. Among those attending the service were representatives from the UCG, the Active Bible Church of God (Chicago), pastored by Mike Linacre, and the Church of God United, pastored by Donald Deakins. Following services, most of us gathered at the home of Ken and Trisha Svehla in Downers Grove for feasting and fellowship. I heard at least one comment that at least some of those who had been part of a split are starting to talk to one another again. I think most of us would like to do more of this type of activity again. It does offer us a chance to share ideas about how we can better reach out to the world around us with the good news of Jesus Christ and not isolate ourselves from one another.
Larry Evans, Bloomington. IL
Graham Hymnal Still on Hold
Previous issues of Servants' News have covered Mark Graham's efforts to produce a Sabbatarian hymnal containing Dwight Armstrong's and other songs. He was initially told by the Worldwide Church of God that he would be able to purchase a license to use Armstrong's hymns, but he has waited over a year and the WCG has yet to complete the arrangements.
In January, Graham received a very strange letter from Ralph Helge, calling him a "thankless child." It was the first direct response Graham had since May 1997. Helge said that his response is now lower than ever on his list of priorities, and that he was spending all his time fighting off those who sought to "destroy God's church," but that he would review the request some day in the future, and that perhaps he would come up with a license. He never did answer Graham's question regarding why the UCG hymnal received a license when his did not.
Meanwhile, Graham is considering redoing his hymnal without Dwight Armstrong hymns (It would make it cheaper). "Musically speaking," he said, "they are the weakest segment of this hymnal, but emotionally, they mean a lot to God's people." Graham is now investigating every source he can find of hymns that are essentially metrical scriptures set to music. (Dwight Armstrong actually borrowed metrical scripture texts and set them to music.) Graham is considering using a combination of good existing melodies and more music he will write in the future.
On a positive note, Mark Graham will be giving a spring concert Saturday evening, March 21st, in the auditorium of the Kulas Musical Arts Building at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, near Cleveland. The free concert begins at 7:30 P.M., is open to the public, and will be followed by a punch and cookies reception. Graham will be performing songs he has written over the years for God's people, including old favorites and new material. For more information, call Mark Graham at (216) 529-1380, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome!
New York Times Fasting Article
[Many Sabbatarians probably never heard of fasting until they began to study with a Sabbatarian organization. But in an effort to stop the moral decline in our nation, many thousands of religious people of all denominations are fasting to seek the Eternal's will. While many of these people are lacking in Biblical understanding, their sincerity and zeal would put many Sabbatarians to shame. Will the Eternal use Sabbatarians to teach these diligent groups more truth, or will we be too busy condemning them to help them? The following are excepts from a February 8, 1988 New York Times article entitled A Call to Fast, in Hopes of a Spiritual Revival. NSE]
For 40 days last year, Linda Creager prepared dinner and sat down with her two sons at the table, but ate nothing. For 40 consecutive days she fasted, swallowing nothing but liquids. Ms. Creager says she was not on a diet, but on a religious mission, to find guidance from God. "After four or five days, I didn't even want food," said Ms. Creager, a church outreach worker in Birmingham, Ala....
Thousands of evangelical Christians, hopeful that the nation is on the threshold of a huge spiritual revival, have quietly taken to preparing by fasting and praying, on their own and in large groups. Now prominent evangelicals, led by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ and Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network, are calling for 2 million Christians to join in a national 40-day fast...
Many fasters will buy automatic juicers and sustain themselves with fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. Some will drink only Slim Fast. Others will go on modified fasts by denying themselves a favorite food. What is important to them, they say, is that while they may appear to be carrying on their work and family routines, in private they will be deep in prayer and immersed in Bible study. "Fasting and prayer is the atomic bomb, or the hydrogen bomb, of all the Christian disciplines," Bright said in a recent interview. "Prayer has great power, but fasting with prayer has infinitely more power."...
The adoption of fasting by evangelicals coincides with their growing hope for a great spiritual revival, a fervor that scholars say is fueled in part by the coming end of Christianity's second millennium, but even more by what evangelicals see as a dismal moral climate. Evangelicals, Robertson said, are discovering that fasting "is a way of coming before God and saying we really mean business, we're not just playing this time."...
For many evangelicals, these years before the millennium are a time of utmost urgency, of darkness just before the dawn. Yet theologians say the renewed fervor for revival among evangelicals has also arisen because of moral concerns.
Some evangelical leaders talk of the United States as "Sodom and Gomorrah." As evidence, they rattle off statistics on the high rates of abortion, teen-age pregnancy, divorce, crime, suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism and prostitution, even though some social indicators, especially crime rates, are improving. In addition, the evangelicals say, the current White House scandal has intensified their sense that sin reigns....
"As a nation, we are faced with the gravest crisis in our more than 200-year history, because we have rejected God and His Commandments," Bright warned last year as he and Mission America, an interdenominational group, announced their fourth annual Fasting and Prayer meeting. "Judgment has already begun with rapid social disintegration during the last three decades, but far worse awaits us," he warned. "Unless we believers truly repent, further judgment and ultimate destruction loom drastically ahead."
In the last few years, thousands of people have taken up fasting. Some fast on their own, some with their congregations. A Denver church began the year with a month-long graduated fast in which, by the fourth week, the congregation was drinking only water. A youth group at a church in Harrisburg, Pa., fasts a day or two a week as a way to grapple with personal problems like addictions.
Ms. Creager says she believes that the nation needs revival because "we buy too many things, we eat too much, people drink too much" as a substitute for a relationship with God. "Out at restaurants," she said, "I have sat and watched people eat, and thought to myself, I wish we devoured God like we devour our food."
House of Joseph Seminar Held In Bryan, Texas
A "Return of the House of Joseph" seminar was taught by Dell Griffin of Torah Voice Ministries on Saturday, January 31 at the "The Veranda" meeting hall just outside of Bryan, Texas. The seminar was held from 11:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. with a noon potluck lunch. Dave Thomas from Bryan, Texas, a non-aligned Sabbath-keeper organized the seminar.
Approximately twenty people attended the seminar. Attendees included persons from the local WCG/CGI splinter groups. Other attendees included persons from the messianic synagogue in Houston, and from one of the "living room" Bible study groups in east Texas.
Griffin, an east Texas native whose background includes seminary, several years of study with rabbis in Jerusalem and nearly seven years residing in Israel, began the first session by conducting a short version of a Sabbath morning liturgy (order of services) that is practiced in many Orthodox Jewish synagogues today. This included audience participation in the reciting of the Sabbath morning blessings and blessings of the Torah. At mid point in the service, Griffin blew a ram's horn for the call to gather and ascend. The group then continued by reciting the Shema (the call to prayer and worship), the mourner's kaddush (the customary sanctification of God's name by those who have lost loved ones within the past 11 months), and a version of the Sabbath Amidah (standing prayer). The group then took a potluck lunch break.
After lunch, the group sang a combination of traditional Protestant and Worldwide Church of God hymns. For special Sabbath music, the Messianic Jewish song Oh Give Thanks was sung by Gary, Chrystal, and Leona Smith of east Texas.
Griffin's spiritual turning point began in 1985 while he attended graduate theological seminary at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He didn't graduate because he didn't feel right about taking the required systematic theology courses. Concerned, he prayed about the situation. He concluded that he had to start studying "the Torah roots" of his faith. Soon after this revelation, a man that he had never before met gave him a one-way ticket to Israel. When he got there, he stayed in a Moslem village and became a missionary. His message was not the usual Christian gospel; rather his message was a warning directed at Moslems. Griffin says he believes God directed him to tell Moslems that if they "opposed the children of Israel returning to the land, it would be like spitting against the wind." Essentially, those who opposed the return of Israelites to Israel would not succeed in their efforts. These efforts continued for nearly eight months.
He then returned to his pre-seminary profession as a journalist first with Middle East Television and then for the Jerusalem Post as a copy editor. While at the Post, he occasionally wrote columns on religious topics. One of his articles was an editorial about opposing Palestinian statehood. Griffin stated that based on biblical prophecy, that land was reserved for the assimilated northern kingdom of Israel. Rabbi Chaim Richman, of the Jerusalem Temple Institute read the article, was impressed with it and contacted Griffin. They became friends and for two years did Torah studies together in Richman's home. As he made more rabbinical contacts, they asked him to help promote opposition to the proposed Palestinian statehood.
In 1993, he returned to the United States and tried to rally support from pro-Zionist ministries for the cause of opposing Palestinian statehood. The effort was proceeding until the meeting later that year at the White House between President Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat. Suddenly, all forward momentum stopped. A "witch hunt" for those who opposed Palestinian statehood began in Israel. The rabbis involved in this opposition were considered right-wing extremists and were either imprisoned or placed under house arrest. Griffin was warned that if he tried to return to Israel he could be either deported or arrested. However, Griffin says, "With Netanyahu now in control, I am confident I could return at any time, however, I feel HaShem [God] directing me to work toward establishing the Right of Return for all Josephites. When that work can be better accomplished in Israel than in the States or elsewhere, we do plan to return."
He now strives to promote the return of the house of Joseph to Israel and a second state in Israel to non-Jewish Zionists and/or Josephites. Griffin explains that the tribe of Joseph consists of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin according to Genesis 41:9-12. In this passage, Benjamin became part of the house of Joseph since he was declared dead by his other Israelite brothers and later became a slave to the house of Joseph when Joseph's cup was found in his sack. Griffin's view of Joseph's descendants differs from the traditional British-Israelite view. The traditional view is that most of the U.S.A. and the former British Commonwealth are descendants of Joseph. Griffin believes that Joseph's descendants are a minority scattered throughout these nations. He believes that those people that are pro-Israel, pro-Jewish, etc. and "don't know why" are actually from the lineage of Joseph, and are part of Israel.
Griffin believes that the house of Judah and the house of Joseph (the northern kingdom of ancient Israel) are to be reunited according to Bible prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15-18). To pursue this end, he teaches Torah seminars and occasionally teaches seminars on Jewish worship. Griffin says that it is important to acquaint non-Jews with how Jews worship in working toward a reunification of Judah and Joseph. Griffin says that "the spirit of God is choosing the House of Joseph" and that God is turning the hearts of the children to their father Joseph. Griffin explains, "many non-Jews identify with Jewish people, the Torah, and Israel. I call it the unexplainable Israel-thing."
As part of his vision, Griffin started an Orthodox Josephite synagogue in Akron/Canton, Ohio in 1996. The service is patterned after Sephardic Orthodox Jewish worship. "We had a Torah scroll. We followed the Sephardic Orthodox prayer book. We recited the Shabbat morning prayers, said Kaddish, ate our kosher meals together and spent the entire afternoon studying Torah before ending the evening with the lighting of the Havdalah candle," says Griffin.
Additionally, he offers audio tapes that will soon include all of the yearly Torah and Haphtarah portions and commentaries on each. Many of these were recorded at the synagogue in Ohio. He also offers a video tape about the "Return of the House of Joseph" and another one on learning Hebrew. All of his tapes are available from Torah Voice Ministries.
Griffin founded Torah Voice Ministries in 1992. It is located in Nederland, Texas. It is a Torah teaching and outreach ministry to non-Jewish Zionists and potential Josephites. He teaches Torah seminars for primarily seventh-day Sabbath churches, but also teaches seminars at churches of various denominations around the nation.
In addition to his work at Torah Voice Ministries, Griffin currently works at Hatikva Ministries, helping Joe Good with various writing, editing, and production projects. He also answers questions from callers when Good is not available.
For more information on "The Return of the House of Joseph," to order Torah study tapes, instructional videos, or to arrange a "House of Joseph" seminar, call Dell Griffin at (409)722-9202 or write him at Torah Voice Ministries, P.O. Box 552, Nederland, Texas 77627. He can also be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.
Dell Griffin will be teaching a House of Joseph seminar in Hawkins, Texas at the Hawkins Community Center on Sunday, March 15, 1998. The seminar will include 3 ninety-minute sessions with breaks in between and a potluck lunch. For more information, contact Mitchell Smith at 903-882-7446. Veronica Smith &
[We have not studied Dell Griffins's work and can not say if God has commissioned it or not. We are sure that God has not commissioned SN to do this kind of work, but our readers may find this info useful. -NSE]