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.
This section is for short articles or letters about activities of local congregations. We will mention local congregations as they form or as we learn of significant news. Groups listed in this section may have some doctrines or policies which we cannot justify from the scriptures, but we believe most of them are a reasonable place for fellowship with the brethren. We believe the holy spirit will guide you in your fellowship decisions if you will study and ask.
Steven Collins, internationally renowned for his superb book Lost Ten Tribes of IsraelFound!, will be visiting New Zealand and Australia next year. He will be presenting a series of lectures on the migrations of the lost tribes of Israel from the Middle East to their modern locations. Stevens style is to put together a highly complex subject into a very readable form for the average person. We highly recommend his book as one of the best ever published on the subject. His historical background tracing the tribes migrations is fascinating.
At this stage, he will be speaking in 2 or 3 locations in Australia and probably about 2 in New Zealand. We are also hoping for a further guest speaker who will be giving talks on what prophecy has to say about the future of the lost tribes. We will announce that later, if it can be secured. In Australia, he will definitely be presenting his talks in Melbourne over a weekend before moving up the coast to other cities.
Should you wish to be kept up-todate with the organisation of the trip and would be interested in assisting in some way, please contact us:
GPO Box 864, Sydney 2001
Craig White and the Organising Committee (we will need all the assistance we can get).
Due to the lack of interest and speakers, the Feast at Kenlake State Park (near Paducah, Kentucky) has been canceled.
On the Sabbath of August 15th, UCG congregations from Bloomington, IL, Terre Haute and Lafayette, IN and the Biblical Church of God, an independent fellowship in Danville, IL, met for a combined service and potluck meal at the Danville Area Community College. After a sermonette by Tom Damour, pastor of the Bloomington, Canton, and Springfield, IL congregations, Mike Mayfield and Joan Osborn performed an inspiring rendition of People Need the Lord.
Following a few brief announcements by Vic Kubik, pastor of the Terre Haute and Lafayette churches and a UCG council member, fellow council member Dennis Luker gave an encouraging sermon on seven keys to building and maintaining a positive Christian attitude. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of enduring trials and tests while keeping our minds focused on what God has called us to be. Mr. Luker also reminded us that UCG is not the only church of God and that we need to recognize and reach out to others who are part of the body of Christ.
As the day progressed, a number of people from the various congregations enjoyed renewing old ties, one man remarking that he had met someone he had not seen in over twenty years. There were many positive comments about the meeting with the hope expressed that we could do it again. This was an excellent example of what Gods people can do when they put church politics aside.
The United Church of God An International Association released its long-promised Rules of Association. The following excerpts from those rules show that a local congregation essentially has the choice of being completely governed by the UCGIA (to the point that the local pastor could be replaced against the local groups desire) or not associating with the UCGIA at all. The document contains no provision for a group that would like to work with the UCGIA, but not be completely controlled by them.
Rule 1-100 Membership: A member of the association shall be any duly recognized entity operating under the name United Church of God (or its approved equivalent) agreeing to abide by these Rules of Association and the Constitution of the UCGIA. Congregations within the United States (US) must also agree to abide by the Bylaws of UCGIA. Each entity outside the US will be constituted as a National Council (or some equivalent), or Local Congregation. Each member must be accepted by the Council of Elders and must be willing to be fully a part of the association. Congregations in the US which are pastored by an elder recognized by UCGIA are a part of the United Church of God, an International Association and operate under the direction of the duly appointed administration and the Council of Elders. Any association between the UCGIA and an entity that is not pastored by an elder recognized by UCGIA and not desiring fu11 membership must be approved by the General Conference of Elders (Article 4.1 of the Constitution).
Rule 1-140 Qualifications for Membership: Each member [church group] must be willing to adhere to the following standards. Each member of the association must: 1) Support the consensus of the General Conference with respect to the fundamental beliefs of the UCG as enunciated in the Constitution. 2) Support the consensus of the General Conference and the Council with respect to the goals and purposes of the UCG. 3) Support the consensus of the General Conference and the Council with respect to matters of governance.
Rule 2-130 Ministerial Transfers: All elders employed by UCGIA are subject to transfer and/or changes in job description.... The administration does reserve the right to replace a pastor who is not employed by UCGIA if there is a compelling need to do so.
Sabbath Sept 5, 1998 found Brian Orchard of the Church of God
(Hulme) addressing a group of about 20 adults in Phoenix, AZ. Brethren who decide
to affiliate with the new group can look forward to hooking up by phone to listen
to the organizations weekly Southern California Sabbath services, and
being visited monthly
by a live speaker, beginning with Steven Andrews on the Day of Atonement.
Mr. Orchard spoke about the connection between character and leadership, and said that the pursuit of consensus tends to lead to mediocrity. Making the point that human nature being what it is, if we all seek to agree on common grounditll be a lower common ground. Leadership, on the other hand, is about taking people to places they hadnt dared to go. Encouraging those assembled to strive to successfully fulfill our callings to become kings and priests, Mr. Orchard described our recent past as containing incredibly good learning opportunities that we should make the most of.
He identified the universal access to the flood of information
available to people today as having a weakening effect on systems of government
and the authoritative administration of the affairs of state. He envisioned
that as people withhold the granting of authority to their leaders, a tendency
toward anarchy develops, which could coincide with a strong European combine
taking to itself the very authority that individuals had resisted granting.
Mr. Orchard decried the gap between leaders and followers in the COG, repeatedly stressing its not about superiority and inferiority. He also lamented the familiar striving or upward climbingeven calling the various WCG splits the masters of division and confusion. He said if God were to shine a spotlight on these groups now, the world would not benefit from what they saw.
In spite of those frank admissions, Mr. Orchard also said that we need to work within the proper framework today in order to rule in the World Tomorrow. He maintains that there is a valid parallel between the Levitical Priesthood of ancient Israel (where we have the nation as a whole described as a kingdom of priests and an holy nation in Ex. 19:6) and the need for the Body of Christ today to have a subset of its members available to focus on spiritual matters, full time.
Unfortunately, his expounding of 1Pet 2:9 (where the Church is likewise referred to as a royal priesthood, a holy nation) was limited to getting the job of gospel proclamation donepresumably by way of a centrally directed media program, since his organization aspires to have one. Apparently Mr. Orchard does not yet understand that the Scriptures, as they should be translated, do not require these conclusions; and it was ironic that he appeared to not recognize that this line of reasoning actually causes the very same division he so eloquently lamented earlier.
He reminded us that the core of Christs commandment to His people was to go into all the world to make disciples. He said that we were called for the purpose of getting the true, centuries-suppressed gospel out to a world that desperately needs to hear it, but is running out of time to hear it. He described the uphill battle to accomplish this as having been made all the more difficult by the fact that the world had been powerfully presented with another emotionally-based, fraudulent and deficient gospel which causes people to turn against God.
At the conclusion of the meeting there was much upbeat fellowship and all were invited to one individuals home for refreshments.
Jon D. Pike, Phoenix, AZ
New congregations of the COG (Hulme) are forming in many places all over the country and world. Most of them are small: 10-30. Some seem genuinely committed to Hulmes concept of preaching the Gospel. There have been other cases where some of the local UCG-IA leaders were apparently not getting along, so one contacted Hulme and asked him to send someone to start a congregation. Without taking a lot of time, it would be very difficult for the COG (Hulme) to determine if they are starting a new congregation that is committed to their way, or simply being used as an excuse for division whose real root is a local squabble. NSE
We received the following news item from Paul Kieffer in Bonn, Germany: The United Church of God an International Association in Germany and the Global Church of God in Germany will jointly publish an article in German in their respective German-language publications in the month of October.
We have also heard reports of other joint UCG-IA and GCG activities in Germany. In countries where there are few Sabbath keepers, it only makes sense not to be further divided into similar corporate groups. We hope that the leaders in the various group headquarters will stop protecting their turf and encourage more co-operation between groups. NSE
The Ambassador University campus is in the final phase of being sold. La Roche College of Pittsburgh, PA has entered into an agreement to purchase, that includes three months to determine if the campus will be suitable to their needs. La Roche, a coeducational Roman Catholic college presently has only one other campus, in Pittsburgh. The WCG is very pleased to know that the prospective buyer is an educational institution with a philosophical commitment to comparable values and vision for which we have used the property, said WCG spokesman Bernie Schnippert. The potential sale includes everything on the campus, including furniture, fixtures, equipment and library books and magazines.
The WCG began to keep their promise in their doctrinal statement to observe the annual Holy Days on the nearest convenient weekend. We heard reports from Detroit, Michigan; Olympia, Washington; Big Sandy, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Sarasota, Florida. Nearly all of them scheduled Trumpets services on Saturday, September 19 and Atonement services on Saturday September 26. Big Sandy had Trumpets services on Sunday night, September 20. Some also had services on the Hebrew calendar Holy Days (Sept 21 & 30). The reasons given for such a change were we can worship God at any time and some people might need to work on the Hebrew-calendar dates.
It appears that many of the WCG members were not happy with the new dates. A vote for the service date was taken in Olympia and about 85% wanted to continue on the Biblically-assigned date. Offerings were taken up at all services. More than one participant speculated that this is the main reason that the WCG continues the Holy Day services.
This writer believes that the Eternal will honor the keeping of Holy Days on different dates due to different understandings of the biblical calendar. Will He similarly honor the WCG Holy Days which make no effort to correspond to biblical instructions?