Saturday, 26 January 2008

Big Trouble in Big Sandy

Things have not been going smoothly of late for members of the Church of God, Big Sandy.

If any independent COG congregation deserves the title prima inter pares, first among equals, then Big Sandy is probably it. For years now it has served as a positive example of how Church of God people need not submit to hierarchical leadership in order to get along. The Big Sandy church has successfully forged associations with other independent ministries, forgoing both the empire building mentality of the extremist sects along with their exclusivism. Minister Dave Havir is well respected. If the Worldwide Church of God is to have an enduring legacy, it will be among people like these rather than the Glendora-based organization that has inherited the name, or the ego-driven rip-off imitations.

All that is now at risk. One local has described the situation, perhaps with a feel for the dramatic, as "war." Some 30 - 40 brethren are now meeting separately, and a board member has been dumped. Details of the story are likely to appear in the upcoming issue of The Journal.

I find that incredibly sad. Gainsayers at both extremes will take comfort at the Big Sandy church's discomfort. Regardless of what you might think about the doctrinal position of the church, it has been good to see what appeared to be a healthy, balanced congregation holding its own in a "marketplace" dominated by weird apocalyptic speculation and manipulative power-trippers.

Disagreements are hardly the preserve of COG congregations. Mainline denominations often train pastors whose job is to go into troubled local churches and defuse a situation before it blows, something that is more common than most of us might think. Perhaps it's not too late for the folk at Big Sandy to do something similar; to bring in an outside facilitator - someone without a personal stake in the issues (and someone with prior experience of this sort of thing.) Such a person would not go in to bang heads together, but to respectfully listen to all those involved and arbitrate a solution. To cast blame isn't the way forward, to focus on solutions is.

I for one hope the Big Sandy church comes through its current difficulties intact, and continues to be an inspiration to those who chafe under a plague of pseudo-apostles, pastors-general, presiding evangelists, prophets and other charlatans. There has to be a better way than that.

82 comments:

Tired Skeptic said...

It's a wonder, isn't it? There doesn't seem to be a single group from the original which seems to be able to remain cohesive: The splinters get smaller and smaller and smaller and nuttier and nuttier.

Whence come wars and fighting amongst them?

The well was poisoned from the very beginning and the fruit has fallen not to far from the tree with the root of bitterness.

Is there anyone out there who truly seeks the Will of God in their lives?

Would it not be better if such people turned to God to know Him as their kind and Merciful Father, filled with goodness, caring for His Children? Is it not because Herbert Armstrong neither knew nor understood God from the beginning that he could never teach his followers the true nature of God, and thus they have fallen to division?

The only real solution is to leave all of Armstrongism with its built in pitfalls behind and embrace that which is truly of good report while maintaining discipline to actually seek God's Will, rejoicing in such gifts as God has given in humble gratitude.

Anonymous said...

The Church of God Big Sandy board gave $3,000 to help build a nearby new United Church of God an IA church building there just dedicated.

Anonymous said...

The following synopsis of the special board meeting on Tuesday, Jan.22, was
submitted by secretary Neil McIver.

This special meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday, Jan.10.The meeting was postponed due to an alleged technicality in the procedure for calling the
meeting. Even though I as secretary I caused the meeting to occur,
other board members suggested that we go above and beyond in rescheduling the meeting.

The agenda item remained the same for the new meeting. The agenda item was the potential REMOVAL OF A TRUSTEE.

JOHN WARREN contacted the board members and instructed us that he would be out of town during the rescheduled time period. Mr.Warren informed President Monsalvo that he had asked Arlon Tomes to make a statement on his behalf.

According to the bylaws, a trustee in such a situation has a right to be heard by
the board before the vote. On behalf of President Monsalvo, I, as secretary,
informed Mr. Warren that the board would not be accepting any statements from Mr. Tomes.I also informed Mr. Warren that we would have a telephone in the room awaiting his call. I reminded him of the start time of 7:30 p.m. and gave him the telephone number to call.
When President Monsalvo began addressing the audience at 7:30 p.m., he read
a lengthy statement. At 7:54 p.m., Mr. Monsalvo called the meeting to order. He asked MR. HAVIR to give the opening prayer. (During the prayer, many of the guests who have stopped attending our congregation and who have begun attending a NEW CHURCH SERVICE in Mineola/Lindale, chose not to bow their heads during Mr. Havir's prayer.)

President Monsalvo asked if there was any discussion.Karl Wilson questioned
me as secretary whether the procedure for calling this meeting was correct. After
I gave him the paperwork, he thanked me for the information. Karl Wilson also
made some comments from books discussing Robert's Rules of Order.
The board was prepared and willing to hear any statement from Mr.Warren over the telephone, as per the bylaw that says the trustee has a right to be heard. He
chose not to call.

The motion PASSED 4-2.Voting FOR the motion were myself, Don Mischnick, Bernie Monsalvo and Jim Wilkins.

Voting AGAINST the motion were Ron Avey and Karl Wilson.

Tom Mahon said...

Gavin laments:

>>All that is now at risk. One local has described the situation, perhaps with a feel for the dramatic, as "war." Some 30 - 40 brethren are now meeting separately, and a board member has been dumped.<<

For those of us who understand that disunity is not sustainable, the disintegration of an another divided COG doesn't come as a surprise. On the contrary, it confirms the teaching of Jesus that, "A house divided against itself cannot stand," and the inspired, emphatic, rhetorical question of Amos, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed." As a consequence, the disintegration was inevitable.

Furthermore, about 12 years or so ago, Dave Havir caused the same consternation amongst UCG members, when he broke away and started his own church. He is now reaping what he sowed. "For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

>>>I find that incredibly sad. Gainsayers at both extremes will take comfort at the Big Sandy church's discomfort.<<<

I take comfort from the confirmation of the Scriptures, which cannot be broken, and the judgement of God, who owes it to his children to comfort them by exposing the duplicity of the wicked.

>>>Regardless of what you might think about the doctrinal position of the church, it has been good to see what appeared to be a healthy, balanced congregation holding its own in a "marketplace" dominated by weird apocalyptic speculation and manipulative power-trippers.<<<

It only "APPEARED to be a healthy balanced congregation," but in reality it was or is no different from all the other divided COGs, led by men who are making merchandise of their misguided members.

Moreover, "the all things to all men" drivel that Dave has been writing in The Journal, is no different from the speeches of an astute politician designed to hold a divided party together. But as they say, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time." Eventually, the people come to their senses, and vote with their feet.

Gavin said...

Time to blow the whistle. On this particular thread any further comments BY or ABOUT Tom Mahon will be deleted. I for one need a break. Tom is welcome to post on subsequent threads.

Anonymous said...

Is it not the case that Dave Havir preceded the founding of UCGaia? I understood he gave up using the name, UCG, in deference to the new and larger denomination

Pax Vobiscum said...

'Tis indeed sad. But wherever human beings gather, whether at work or play or worship, we are sooner or later going to encounter differences. Disagreements can easily lead to discord and hurt feelings. Left unresolved, attitudes become polarized, as appears to have happened here.

After all, if everyone agreed with me and did things the way I like them to be done, I would never have any conflicts with anyone. And I daresay all of us could say the same thing. But that is just not how we human beings work.

Frankly, the genesis of this whole dispute is a mystery to many who attend with the Big Sandy congregation.

Gavin's idea of an outside resolution facilitator is sound, but perhaps a cooling-off period will first be necessary.

The folks who are unhappy with the board and/or the pastor will undoubtedly run into disagreements at some time in the future. Will that lead to a further separation or will they realize that there are ways of healing real and perceived offenses? I guess we all like to claim we are genuinely committed to peace and reconciliation, but sometimes we demand what we believe to be justice and in so doing, unwittingly set aside mercy.

Steve said...

Gavin said...
Time to blow the whistle. On this particular thread any further comments BY or ABOUT Tom Mahon will be deleted. I for one need a break. Tom is welcome to post on subsequent threads.

MY COMMENT: I'm sad, but not surprised that you said this, Gavin. Although I do not agree with him totally, I saw nothing wrong with Tom posting his opinions on this subject.

Lussenheide said...

Some wisdom from our friend Dennis Diehl...

When a church implodes, why do your friendships explode? There are several types of friendships built when we become a part of a church and their dynamics are all a bit different.

First of all, everyone in any particular believes that “we all have to be friends,” because, well, we are in the Church. The common bond of similar or same beliefs is what constitutes the friendship. In any other setting, we would not be friends with most of these people as we would really have nothing else in common to hold it together. Thus, when the church implodes, the friendships explode, fall apart and are not salvageable. They are based on being in the common church with a common belief. When that falls apart, that is generally the end of your friendships.

If you leave the church in discouragement, anger or theology fatigue, you are now a seed fallen on bad ground. Those who you leave behind will read about you in Matthew as one of the seeds that fell on hard ground and when trials came alone etc, did not have the ability to survive. Of course, it is a lame explanation, but it makes them feel good to see that they are off the friendship hook with you for being disillusioned, hurt, marginalized or just worn out by controversy. Without the church work, doctrine or goals, you have no friendship. These people will disappear quickly should you ever begin to wake up to the fact that NO church knows all it needs to know about the Bible to be THE one true church. Of course, since no one attends the one false church, you will be labeled, disfellowshipped, avoided and generally cast into the Lake of Fire, Hell or other imagined bad places for the wicked person you are. These are mere not friends that stick closer than brothers, or at least not unless you live in the same house. Since you moved out, you are no brother of theirs.

The second kind of church friends you will cultivate are genuine friends that are friends in spite of church. You have the church in common. You met at church, but you also have kids, ideas and needs in common and develop a friendship outside of just church stuff. Your kids grow up together, make fun of the church and minister together, as do you from time to time and it's just normal. But if you leave the Church or the Church leaves you, they have agonizing decisions to make. If they stay, they might sneak your friendship but if the Church was still the main draw, they eventually will leave you alone, high and dry. They might even leave the church themselves, but if they move on to an even more righteous church than the one they left, and you just became disillusioned and non-committal, they will spend some time getting you to follow them into the truer church, or drop you in time as well. They don't mean it. You're not being theologically tied to any belief and even willing to step outside boxes that lead to different conclusions about religion will leave you without these friends in time. They will feel sorry for you for not moving on to even an more true church in their quest for the one true one. These friends will make you feel icky if you insist on staying around them just because they are all you have left. They will make you feel inferior for your beliefs or lack of them compared to their now new and improved ones, which is always a sign you might need to just forget the friendship. It's not real.

Another group are those that may be somewhat like you in your skepticism and having learned more than the church would have wished you to learn from the whole experience. You'll have all the cmplaining in common about the past. You will have quality time living in, mulling over and analyzing the past, but when you tire of that and realize that your life is not going forward in the past, these friends will also dry up and blow away.

You may outgrow them and bring your life up into the present while they wallow in the past and you grow tired of it, or you may stay stuck and they move on. Either way, the friendship will dissolve in time, as friendship based on sharing only a bad experience is doomed in the long run. You'll know the "friendship" is over when they keep sending you updates on the goings on the past Church and you don't care. In the world of blogging and email, you may have attracted these types of friends because of your common disastrous experience, but you have never even met these people in real time and would not know them if they sat next to you. But you were friends, until you weren't.

Well, I guess that answers in part, where did they all go? People who hop from truer church to truer church in pursuit of the TRUE Church build friendships based on being a member of that particular church or set of beliefs. That is one kind of friendship but they also tend to dissolve quickly when conditions in that church change. That has been my experience in spades. While the Bible says "a friend loves at all times", that has proven elusive to say the least among the people of the Book.

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

Anonymous said...

On exiting GTA's ICG, I found Dave Havir and the Big Sandy COG to be wonderful. Most of the folks were open and nice (like normal Christians). There was none of the COG organizational insanity and Dave Havir was like an alien from another planet- very friendly, concerned, and constantly advocated love and compassion over all. I don't know what is going on down there, but Big Sandy was known as a place where people had "different beliefs," as remarked by one of those guys who left UCG. I met a guy there who didn't hold the meat laws and the Sabbath (nice guy). Point is, I can't help but think that this is probably a split caused by those who want to leave the bondage of the Law and embrace the New Covenant- and those who outright refuse.

I'll put my money on Dave Havir. He's the "best" minister in COGland.


Paul

Dr. Phil Proponent said...

It's time for the Churches of God to get real! The Churches of God need to take responsibility for their choices. Each member needs to find their authentic self to find peace within. Each man and woman needs to learn their own personal truth by taking a congruency test and eliminate the negative internal dialog brought on by years of self-delusion. Each person needs to take off the social mask to face the truth about what we are truly saying about ourselves.

People in the Churches of God need to stop letting other people define who and what they are. They need to stop pretending they are someone they are not because of external pressures to measure up to the ideas other people have about who they think they should be. Stop letting other people define who you are to become the person you are and should be.

The people of the Churches of God need to protect themselves from sabotage. It's important to prevent the carriers of the patterns of toxicity from setting you back. Avoid the destructive behaviors of those who would seek to control your destiny through overprotection, power manipulation, leveling and convincing you of the safety in the status quo. Particularly, avoid the "drama queens" in your life which seem bigger than life to persuade you that you should give your life over to them.

Particularly be aware of the power manipulation through which people will attempt to take your personal power away from you in order to maintain their old relationship to you. They figure if they treat you like a child, you will yield to their suggestions like a child.

Don't stay with the status quo: Is it working? A change for the better is still a change -- a complete threat to familiarity and the security of the status quo. Don't be surprised if others perceive your reconnection with your authentic self as something threatening that they need to destroy.

Do not use money to buy affection and attention from the Churches of God. Do you know what the real issue is? Get real about why you're doing what you're doing, and deal with that issue. Your tithing and offerings may be the result of guilt you feel to buy a false sense of security and worth. This buying and living beyond your means is a false substitute and illusion.

Get honest with yourself. Ask yourself, "How insulting is this to me that I have to buy my way into a relationship?" Step up and say, "If they like me, they like me." You'd rather be healthy alone than sick with someone else. And if you have to buy friends, they're not much of a friend.

Deal with this issue emotionally. Quit hiding behind gifts. This will force you to deal with your REAL problem.

Stop abandoning your real family for strangers. Substituting other church members for your real family is stealing from your family. You need to give your time to your loved ones and break off the destructive relationships which have taken you away from those who rely, depend upon and have trusted you to be committed to your responsibilities. Just because some of your real family and spouse may be in the churches of God, do not assume that the other members of the church have your best interests at heart: Blood is thicker than water and you have obligations to your real family first.

You either get it or you don't: Become one of those who get it. Create your own experience and don't let others manipulate you to enrich theirs. Do what works. Get real with yourself about life and everybody in it. Be truthful about what isn't working in your life. Stop making excuses and start making results. Make careful decisions and then pull the trigger. Learn that the world couldn't care less about thoughts without actions. Identify the filters through which you view the world. Acknowledge your history without being controlled by it. Life is managed; it is not cured: Learn to take charge of your life and hold on. This is a long ride, and you are the driver every single day. Don't live the life given you by a minister. He's not the one who has to live with the consequences. We teach people how to treat us: Own, rather than complain about, how people treat you. Learn to renegotiate your relationships to have what you want. There is power in forgiveness: Open your eyes to what anger and resentment are doing to you. Take your power back from those who have hurt you. You have to name it before you can claim it: Get clear about what you want and take your turn.

Let's do it.

Byker Bob said...

In terms of general concept, I'm reminded of what happened when the Soviet Union collapsed. Many of the nations (the Balkan countries come to mind) which were under authoritative domination by the USSR had atrophied in their abilities to think and function as nations. People who had been artificially held together in unnatural alliances suddenly found themselves with freedom, and needing to deal with centuries old animosities. What happened over there most certainly has a parallel within the ACOGs. Folks in the splinter ACOGs had been prevented via HWA's looming authority and irrational anger from thinking for themselves, and or governing themselves. So, it's perfectly logical that all of the splits and schisms would occur as people begin to regain their thinking skills and freedom.

Human nature is strange, in that even when familiar circumstances are cruel, some will often resist change from their comfort level with the cruelty. That's why some have chosen to stick with harsh HWA-styled authority figures like Gerald "snow" Flurry, or David Pack(rat). It's no different from formerly communist citizens sitting around, drinking their vodka, and reminiscing about the glory days when Khrushchev was in power.

The glaring difference here is that we're comparing apples (a secular system of government) with oranges (church government). In the case of the latter, some would presume the presence of the Holy Spirit. I think we can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if the Holy Spirit had ever even been a remote influence in the church built by HWA, there would be unity amongst his survivors rather than all of the dissonance and discord. That there is continued disunity should raise some serious redflags amongst those aspiring to "keep the faith" that they may be on a completely wrong path, one on which the Holy Spirit never did have any presence or influence from the very beginning. It was all illusion and delusion, promoted by one very strange little man.

BB

BC said...

It is sickly dysfunctional that the churches of God, including CoGBS, should still be dominated and influenced by a delusional manipulative controlling fat strange narcissistic little man, terrible with money and relationships, 20 years after his death: The evil men do oft lives long after their bones are interred....

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gavin. You did the right thing.

This blog is part of my post-WCG healing process. Reading, and participating, is a form of catharsis for me. TM poisoned this place and over the last few weeks I began slipping back into a very dark place when I logged on to AW.

Cracker said...

Great post dr. phil proponent!! That really inspired me. Please continue such wonderful contributions to this blog. We need you here!

Anonymous said...

" It is sickly dysfunctional that the churches of God, including CoGBS, should still be dominated and influenced by a delusional manipulative controlling fat strange narcissistic little man, ...."

Hey, come on bc, leave fat people out of this. I'm fat, and I find HWA's behavior as awful as you do.

Anonymous said...

Bob Thiel surprises us all by not gloating over the Big Sandy situation in a post today. Maybe there's hope for him yet.

On the other hand it's interesting how he quotes Gavin - leaving out the bits that don't fit his prejudices.

Jim Butler said...

Gavin does a great job bringing up significant happenings within the Church of God as well as other Christian groups. He gives us something to think about, a book to read, a link to check out, etc.

Often, and without exaggeration, 75% of the comments on many, if not most, topics are back-and-forth comments between Tom and most of the rest that post.

Allow me to be politically incorrect.

This is a waste of time.

All of us know what Tom thinks. All of us know what most on this blog think of Tom.

It is clear that all the attempts at reconciliation with Tom will be inadequate. (I'm being sarcastic for any that were wondering)

Gavin, sorry to violate your request, but I thought it might be a good time to make this point.

I do scroll past most of this banter but it does take a few seconds to determine that it is banter and sometimes within it there is actually something related to the topic.

I think many, if not most, that contribute to this blog are "bigger" than this. I hope so anyway.

Jim

Church Corporate Critic said...

Take a moment to associate a bit of humanity with the Church of God Big Sandy
by reading
this week's Bulletin
.

Church Corporate Critic said...

It may well be that this incident is far overblown.

The Church of God Big Sandy may well be healthy enough to lose small proportion of people in disagreement without significant damage.

Anonymous said...

In the Gospel of Thomas there is no church, there are no congregations, and there are no apostles or pastors. In the Gospel of Thomas there is only Jesus teaching his disciples how to enter the Kingdom.

In Gospel of Thomas Jesus teaches that the Kingdom is available now and that each individual should seek it now. Don't seek to be part of a church or part of a group; that is OK if it works for you, but each person needs to individually seek the kingdom.

The Gospel of Thomas has a very different message then what you find in the Canonical Gospels. There is a different Gospel there. It is the correct one.

Jesus main message is that the kingdom is available now. It is both within you and around you.

GT3 Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and it is outside you."

What Dennis said so well about friends is true. If you have good friends Jesus says to hold them close and hold them dear. They are hard to come by...

GT25 Jesus said, "Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye."

Christianity is an individual experience not a group experience. When things aren't right, you have to be willing to move on, to be a "passerby".

GT42 Jesus said, "Be passersby."

You may often find yourself alone.

49 Jesus said, "Congratulations to those who are alone and chosen, for you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again."

The search for the Kingdom is very often done alone; all by yourself, with a mate if you are lucky, or with a few select friends. It can be a solitary venture. But when you find the kingdom both inside of you and outside of you you... you find and experience the divine.

Its very nice.

Salvation is something you already have within you. It doesn't come from the outside, it is yours to loose if you are not careful.

GT70 Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you."

Finally watch out for pastors, teachers, and church leaders...

GT39 Jesus said, "The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so. As for you, be as sly as snakes and as simple as doves."

The kingdom and salvation are very different then what many of us have been lead to believe...

Anonymous said...

Dixon Cartwright at the piano.

Dave Havir is speaking now:

Just paste this url into Windows media player for direct services video feed:

http://www.bigsandychurch.org/
live/live.asx

Anonymous said...

Just click on "File" up at the top and open "URL", then paste the above URL into the Windows Media Player, then press enter to get the video feed.

nelson said...

Former members and current members of anything
"ARMSTRONG," deserve much love and compassion.


The gentle sheep that were searching for our sheperd Jesus Christ were stolen from the true flock and devoured by the wolves in sheep's clothing.

Gentle Christians, our Lord offers you sanctuary from "armstrongism" in ALL OF ITS FORMS!

Please accept the OPEN DOOR our Lord offers you. You are fine just as you are. In fact, there isn't anything you CAN DO! Jesus has ALREADY DONE IT FOR YOU!

Jesus truly loves YOU! HE DIED FOR YOU! The important thing to remember is that "armstrongism," isn't your fault. You were stolen from away from the Lord by unscrupulous men.

Just leave it alone! Walk away!

Let go and watch our Lord set you FREE! Yes, you can be free! Free from the bondage of "armstrongism!"

The reason you have been confused and troubled is that a veil has been lowered on your eyes. Paul said it best when he said in 2 cor. 3:15, "but even unto this day, when the law of Moses is read, the veil remains upon their hearts!"

Paul goes on to say in the very next verse, 2 cor. 3:16 "NEVERTHELESS, WHEN THE HEART SHALL TURN TO THE LORD, THE VEIL SHALL BE TAKEN AWAY!"

Paul continues in verse :17 "NOW THE LORD IS THAT SPIRIT: AND WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS THERE IS FREEDOM!"

Gentle Christians, you CANNOT SERVE THE LAW AND CHRIST AT THE SAME TIME! FREEDOM AND SLAVERY ARE INCOMPATABLE!

Please remember, "NOT ONE PERSON HAS EVER BEEN SAVED BY SERVING THE LAW!"

Please, today, lift up your prayers to our Lord jesus Christ and ask Him to set you free from "armstrongism," and all of its off-shoots. HE WILL SET YOU FREE!

My prayer is for all those who have suffered the chains of bondage of "armstrongism," would come to the freedom that rests in our Lord Jesus Christ.

No holy days,no tithing,no clean meats,no sabbaths or no make-up can save you. In fact, following those regulations will ensnare you.

There is nothing you can do!

Jesus Christ has already done it all just FOR YOU!

Please ask Jesus to set you free!

Anonymous said...

1. Why should that church be any different from what happens in churches everywhere, all the time? Disunity is a fact of church life.

2. The COG approach where one's spiritual identity is found primarily in the church they go to is a terrible error. If you live for a church organization, you will get let down. Build a relationship with God, not a church organization.

Church Corporate Critic said...

The Church of God Big Sandy has a number of features not associated with some of the other Churches of God. For one thing, it has people the caliber of Dixon Cartwright. For another, the people are pretty much in one location and not scattered all over the place. The biggest plus, though, is that they have land and their own buildings, which gives them a greater sense of permanence. While not unique, these are certainly unusual features within the venue.

For the most part, there doesn't seem to be much reason to perpetuate hyperbole and cry wolf. Given what everyone has been through, the CoG Big Sandy is in reasonably viable shape and have a pretty good situation, near as anyone can tell, with just a few fringers at the edges -- and everybody, but everybody has a few of those [even on the job]. They seem to have a healthy social context ranging from the children and teens through the seniors, while still paying attention to the spiritual in a healthy balance.

At least it gives the appearance from a distance.

It should be noted that the church they built was built cooperatively. What was built was not possible on an individual basis: Some things do need to be done in groups. That is one of the ways that God the Father could tell whether or not everyone could get along for all eternity.

DennisDiehl said...

How often did you ever see any kind of genuine reconciliation in the COG movement?

You see precious little in the NT with all the marking, noting and generally culling out of the bad sheep in wolves clothing scriptures the NT uses to keep itself pure.

But reconciliation with those of a different perspective...no. Compassion for those that fail someone elses test..no. Gentleness with those who are sensitive to correction..no. One size fits all, even when it didn't.

How much life time is wasted in meetings where stubborn butthead A claims Jesus is on his side to In your face person B. Each prays to the their God that the other will yield and that Jesus will inspire their flinty hearts to soften. As a result, nothing happens of course.

"I'm soft hearted, your Flinty..."

"Am not, am not...I know you are but what am I?"

Sound familiar?

How many lives have really been blessed and how much encouragement has really been distributed by a Gerald Flurry or Dave Pack? Precious litte. Men who can't be worked with and who can't work with others are mentally ill at best and bastards royal in the damage they cause human souls who mean well and get caught between the insanity distributed by these types and the regular seekers desire to know "the truth." That's why they can't see well when it's time to let go. Patted on the back at the same time they get kicked in groin. It's confusing.

I saw that all my career and hating it would be an understatement.

Doctrines and beliefs are nothing when it comes right down to it. Doctrines can be bogus and beliefs incomplete to say the least, but friendship, kindness and compassion are everything...to me.

Letting people back into the church caused more upheaval than kicking them out ever did in my experience.

I guess reconciling with and encouraging the "fallen" by keeping them a part of the body made the pure ones feel sullied and keeping the humans out made them feel cleaner yet.

Compassion, cooperation, kindness under stress, trust, tolerance, an inquisitive spirit, real forgiveness, and the ability to say "that was a dumbass thing to do or idea to have," were never high concepts on the WCG fruits of the spirit.

I would not expect there to be much of that in the offshoots as there was precious little cool water to trickle down in the process of implosion in the first place.

I also personally blame some scriptures redacted back into the text for the very purpose of crowd control and insuring ample amounts of fear, guilt and shame be felt by those who need to submit to the "Higher Powers" which, while said to be from God, ummm....were not. It's just folks gone nuts for a Jesus that fits their personality.

And they all split over irreconcilable differences again and again.

I wish Dave Havir the peace, due a gentle man.

VonHowitzer said...

Dennis wrote:

>>Compassion, cooperation, kindness under stress, trust, tolerance, an inquisitive spirit, real forgiveness, and the ability to say "that was a dumbass thing to do or idea to have," were never high concepts on the WCG fruits of the spirit.<<

True enough, and I believe the roots of that go back to the early days of RCG/WCG, where being right, or uncovering new truth was what really mattered.

I see that same focus on correct doctrine just about everywhere in COGland today - one group splits from another because they have deviated from "the truth" - the cursed heretics eat in restaurants on the sabbath, or watch TV, or keep the wrong day for passover. It's not hard to come up with something that shows one group is right and the other wrong - and if they are wrong, they are not christian, and definately not part of the true church.

Yet the proof of discipleship was not the amount of correct doctrine one held, but love for each other. I really don't see Jesus so overly concerned with doctrine as with faith, and what he called the weightier matters of the law. It's too bad that these would be apostles in splinter land are so concerned with being right - which they never truly can be - that they've forgotten to deal with each other as people that need help, compassion, and some love along the way.

It's not encouraging to read that the first issue raised in the BS board meeting was one of legalism, a technicality of the bylaws. Let's hope that they can get past that and on to that rarest of attitudes, true Christianity.

KMS

Bamboo_bends said...


I also informed Mr. Warren that we would have a telephone in the room awaiting his call. I reminded him of the start time of 7:30 p.m. and gave him the telephone number to call.



I hate to sound cynical about church board meeting shenanigans, but I find myself wondering if the phone was plugged in?

What is this man accused of? What race is he? What rank of minister is he? Lots of missing details.

Anonymous said...

"(During the prayer, many of the guests who have stopped attending our congregation and who have begun attending a NEW CHURCH SERVICE in Mineola/Lindale, chose not to bow their heads during Mr. Havir's prayer.)"

Oh, yeah, they're TOTALLY not like the old-style WCG! They're not watching members under a microscope, for the slightest little slip! Really, they're not, they seem completely open-hearted and welcoming, don't they? Doesn't this sentence just literally SCREAM at you, "What a great church!!"??

*rolls eyes*

Everyone on the ex-CoG boards praises Havir to the high heavens, but it's clear from this leaked report that it's just another personality cult like all the rest. Disagree with whoever's at the top of the food chain, and you're out the door.

ijere616 said...

Maybe I can shed some light as a member of an independent COG congregation. When we left WCG we ended up with 50 people sitting in a room, looking at each other and asking, "Where do we go from here?" There were people who wanted to re-create WCG, others who wanted something entirely new, not abusive and with a more contemporary Christian flavor in music and structure - and every position in between. I can't tell you how hard it was to get even 2 people to agree on everything. And this is on top of everyone being emotionally hurt and drained. As the years have gone by people have indeed left when our congregation took turns they couldn't in good conscience make. But new people have come in, too. What is happening in Big Sandy is nothing new to anyone who has tackled the hard work of trying to build what I call a "non-wacko" COG. Both sides are good people, they just have different opinions and need to go their own separate ways - kind of like the Baptists & Methodists. Hopefully, they can still be friends in two different congregations. When I was growing up, we met with the Methodists one Sunday a year in a "Fellowship Service." Maybe in a few years the two Big Sandy groups can hold joint Pentecost services. ijere616

Anonymous said...

"Take a moment to associate a bit of humanity with the Church of God Big Sandy by reading this week's Bulletin."

So I tried. But look what I found instead.

"Reminder from Dave Havir about inclement weather—Dave Havir wants to remind the congregation that he rarely cancels a church service or Bible study because of weather and that he expects members of the congregation to make their travel decisions according to their personal judgment. (If our local weather is bad, we still want to serve our friends who join us on the computer or telephone each Sabbath. Therefore, our intention is to cancel only a church service when we don’t have electricity in the building.)"

Passive-aggressive much, Dave-o??

"Sure! You can make your own decision about driving three hours one way just to get to church in bad weather!

But if you don't show up, you'll just have to suck up feeling guilty about Your Dedicated Minister plowing three hours one way through the ten-foot-high snowdrifts to deliver the sermon and soup, with no one there to listen but the cluebies on the Internet."

And look! They shamed the members mentioned in the board meeting report in the church bulletin! Isn't that just so warm and christian and loving?

And the parting shot(the "Thought of the Week")?

“A lot of money is tainted: ’Taint yours, and ’taint mine.” —Courtesy of Penny Harris

It's god's! You wouldn't want to steal from god would you??

Pffffffff. We really were brainwashed, if Havir is held up as being the best of the worst.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Note from across the tracks: Two Jews discovered after living decades on a remote island without contact with the rest of the world.

They had built three synagogues. One for one guy, the other for the other, and a third that neither would lower himself to enter.

Tired Skeptic said...

but it's clear from this leaked report

Not buying it: The "leaked" report was in the weekly church bulletin.

But if you don't show up, you'll just have to suck up feeling guilty about Your Dedicated Minister plowing three hours one way through the ten-foot-high snowdrifts

Not buying it: Not certain what part of expects members of the congregation to make their travel decisions according to their personal judgment has been overlooked in the previous statement. The intent seems good: If our local weather is bad, we still want to serve our friends who join us on the computer or telephone each Sabbath. There would be people in other parts of the country who simply wouldn't have services, and I'm pretty sure that if the weather were really that bad, even the minister would not come. You're suggesting self-preservation through guilt, but self-preservation also works for ten foot snowdrifts in winds of 50 miles per hour in 25 degree below weather.

Hyperbole by adopting extreme positions is something which, while not unique to the churches of God, is certainly central to them: Both by xCGs, but the ex's of the xCGs, taking imaginary scenarios to unprecedented unrealistic projected fantasies which have neither happened nor are going to happen.

It's time to get a grip and leave the strangely weird behind.

Stan said...

I'm buying it, because the last 19 months of Havir's board meeting minutes are missing and so far mysteriously unaccounted for. Only Big Sandy board meeting minutes from years 2006 and before are found on the Big Sandy COG website!

No board minutes taken down since June 2006? Please Dixon, say it isn't so!

Stan Gardner

Anonymous said...

Re governance; some thoughts:

What Do You Do When You Meet?

' Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together'

There are as many Christian meeting formats, it seems, as there are denominations. From the heavily formal 'high church' through to the 'happy-clappy' informality of modern evangelicals there is infinite variety. Do the Scriptures provide any fundamental guidelines?

...It may surprise readers to hear that the New Testament in no way suggests that the prime purpose of assembling together is 'worship'! That goes counter to the generally held belief that we come together primarily to 'worship the Lord'. It shapes the form of our assembly. The magnificence of worship in a great cathedral echoes that of the Temple in Jerusalem. More appropriate, however, is 'the synagogue model'. Temple worship was a rare experience for the Jews - maybe once a year, while the synagogue was frequently visited

By definition worship is grateful man's expression of praise and thanksgiving to his Creator for all His blessings. But isn't that the whole of the Christian's daily life? Certainly our meeting together will include such - but it is not the prime function. We don't need to 'call Christ down' to our assembly - he is here, indwelling his brethren, as is our Father (John 14:23). We simply give thanks for their continued presence among us (Matthew 18:20)

The apostolic model must surely be the most effective: '...they continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching (Gk: didache), and fellowship (Gk koinonia: interaction), in the breaking of bread (Gk klao: sharing of food - cp v. 46) and the prayers' (Acts 2:42, Acts 4:24-30)

The emphasis focused on the apostolic teaching. The brethren met primarily to learn and to share insights. Sound teaching was a sure defence against heretical teaching (cp I Timothy 1:3, 6:3, II Corinthians 11:4). Paul instructed Timothy: '...Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine [teaching]' (I Timothy 4:13)

Indications are that the brethren - though all 'one church' - assembled in 'house-sized' groups (see Romans 16 etc), coming together only on special occasions (eg I Corinthians 11:18). It provided opportunity for mutual support: '...let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another' (Hebrews 10:24-25). Activities that are only possible with intimate interaction. In this way the brethren learned of each other's battles and victories and needs, and could unitedly pray for one another - and provide assistance as appropriate

In this context the use of 'spiritual gifts' (Gk pneumatikos) (eg I Corinthians 12, 14) is more readily understood. While meetings were conducted '...decently and in order' (v.40) yet there was ample room for spontaneous participation and expression of these gifts

So every church meeting is a 'business' meeting. We meet to hear what God is saying to us through the 'prophets' (speakers). We meet to cement and make friendships, to learn our brethren's needs, to pray for those needs, to supply those needs. We meet to share our food in a comfortable and relaxed and spiritual context. And every meeting is a '(Father's) business' meeting in which we learn to be'...witnesses unto [Jesus]...unto the uttermost part of the earth' (Acts 1:8) - and plan the ways and means for our assembly to fulfill that mission

Anonymous said...

The problem with almost all COG and ' main streamers ' too, is that you men run the 'works'.

Read Proverbs-------get wisdom.

Anoneemoose

PS: BB.... we miss ye

Tired Skeptic said...

The problem with almost all COG and ' main streamers ' too, is that you men run the 'works'.

And here I thought no body was in charge and everything is pretty much out of control.

Maybe Hillary could do a better job?

Tired Skeptic said...

By the way, Byker Bob made a stunningly reasonable comment above, comparing the churches of God to the breakup of the old Soviet Union. It was such a good comment, that little else really needed to be said.

So we have all these gulags....

Anonymous said...

Tired Skeptic said...
Maybe Hillary could do a better job?

Please,NOT Hillary.....
no, no a thousand times NO

Anoneemoose

PS: BB always makes stunningly good comments...that's why we miss him at the other place :)

Anonymous said...

Tired Skeptic said, "By the way, Byker Bob made a stunningly reasonable comment above, comparing the churches of God to the breakup of the old Soviet Union. It was such a good comment, that little else really needed to be said.

So we have all these gulags...."

MY COMMENT: I think Byker Bob's analogy is right on the target. When President Ronald Reagan said, Mr. Gorbochov, "Take down that Wall", it was symbolic of the information age that was filtering into the old USSR. Much effort was made to circumvent the symbolic Berlin Wall to provide the Soviet people that were held captive by their Socialist Gulag system with the truth and alternative information.

Today, the information age provides WCG citizens who were held captive by their HWA Gulag system with the empowerment to understand how corrupt and false Armstrongism is. Information about Armstrongism is readily available on the internet. Freedom of information is a powerful empowerment for people.

By the way, it is interesting for me to see how the WCG broke up into all these little sects based on their beliefs that follow the political spectrum from far left to far right. For example, the PGC is more to the far right than LCG, and UCG and CGI seems more moderate and center then PCG, LGC and others I have seen on the internet. I guess using Armstrongism as the "standard", the new WCG would be an example of a sect to the left.

Richard

mytwocents said...

Gavin said...
Time to blow the whistle. On this particular thread any further comments BY or ABOUT Tom Mahon will be deleted. I for one need a break. Tom is welcome to post on subsequent threads.


Long overdue! Bravo, Gavin! The diatribes off-topic get really annoying really fast and the substantive stuff ends up getting lost.

Gulag resident said...

Found lurking from long ago:

The Worldwide Church of God and the Soviet Union

One is tempted to use analogies of one's own to describe what the Worldwide Church of God was like, particularly while attempting to describe its more opprobrious aspects to the uninitiated; so let us be led to temptation and yield to temptation fully to devise the analogy of the Worldwide Church of God being like the Soviet Union.

And if you don't look to closely, there are any number of parallels one could draw which should start exploding in your head like a grenade, right about now.

For one thing, though the timing isn't quite right, one could compare William Miller as the foundation for what the WCG believed from the 1930s onward, just as Karl Marx kicked off the concepts of communism.

Of course, it wasn't until G.G. Rupert came along that most of the doctrines were in place, just as it took Lenin, Trotsky and the Bosheviks to lead the revolution to initiate Soviet Regime in 1917.

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the undisputed Strong Arm leader of the USSR from 1929--right around the time that Herbert Armstrong got started--until his death from a brain hemorrhage on March 5, 1953 in Moscow [Moscow, Russia, not Moscow, Idaho] [Joseph Tkach suffered death from a brain hemorrhage caused by cancer September 23, 1995].

During its heyday until its demise in 1991, the USSR was known to its own people for the heavy handed oppressive government with few freedoms, represented by its own flagship publication "Pravda", which means something like "Truth" in Russian--always replete with propaganda, and for those paying attention, the analogies involving the USSR vs WCG are not lost in such details as heavy handed government with few freedoms and the flagship publication, "The Plain Truth".

Critics of both the USSR and the WCG were handled somewhat differently, with the USSR executing critics or putting them in insane asylums and gulags or expatriating them; the WCG either disfellowshipped their member and minister critics, or, as in the case of some ministers, sent them to the equivalent of Siberia; for example, we were shocked that Dennis Luker, a man of consummate talent and ability was slated to be the minister of Quincy, Washington with something like 16 members in the WCG, but, fortunately, he was replaced by Gerald Flurry and my wife was able to hear Gerald Flurry's by now infamous sermon about how "You have NO RIGHTS!"; one could never be certain who had pushed whose hot buttons under the arbitrary governance of either the USSR or the WCG.

None of us witnessing the event on television can forget Kruschev banging the table at the UN with his shoe ["we will bury you!"], and neither can we forget Herbert Armstrong yelling at us at the Feast of Tabernacles for being disloyal.

The USSR was known externally for its cultural contributions such as great musical performers and ballet while its own people lived in relative squalor and poverty; there is no need to go further for those familiar with the AICF.

Leaders in the USSR could claim that the state owned everything and they had nothing for themselves personally--that what they had and used was for the good of the Work, comrade--while they actually lived lives of much greater privilege than their compatriots and met with world leaders; need we say any more than "soup tureen, Steuben Crystal and Marcos"?

Eventually the USSR fell and was broken into smaller nations, and while the flavor is a bit different, the same thing seems to be happening to the WCG.

Yes, once started, an analogy is much like rolling a snowball down a hill and there's a snowball's chance in hell that you can ignore the analogy.

Finally, there are points at which analogies break down: For example, in the analogy comparing the Soviet Union to the Worldwide Church of God, it would be silly to pursue the analogy that when the Soviet Union finally collapsed, it was taken over by the Russian Mafia.

Dos Vadanya

Anonymous said...

Finally, there are points at which analogies break down: For example, in the analogy comparing the Soviet Union to the Worldwide Church of God, it would be silly to pursue the analogy that when the Soviet Union finally collapsed, it was taken over by the Russian Mafia.

Dos Vadanya


au contraire Mon Ami,

A very perceptive analogy....but you already know that.. :)

Anoneemoose

Rodroid said...

The WCG/USSR analogy started by BB is right on! Gulag Resident added more clever observations. The Russian Mafia connection is only a coincidence, of course. It is interesting that Joe Sr. came along to WCG at approximately the same time the USSR started coming apart. I remember thinking that JWT's Russian heritage had to be significant in God's eyes at the time the USSR was disintegrating and "God's Work" was ready to leap forward. Little did I know that WCG was getting ready to disintegrate, too.
I do have to thank the Tkach's for setting so many of us free in '95. Had it not been for the mismanagement of "the changes", many of us would have continued blindly being loyal to the status quo. I just don't think the intent was to set us free though.

Regarding the division in COG Big Sandy and all the other cog's, at the present rate, there will be as many splinters as there are members in just a few years. If every cog were laid end to end, they'd all point in different directions.

Lussenheide said...

FREE MARKET CHRISTIANITY vs. COMMUNIST CENTRAL CONTROL CHRISTIANITY

The one thing about a free economy that makes it work is FAILURE! A system
that allows failure is necessary so that bad ideas, bad institutions, and
bad people can get out of the way for those that are indeed serving the
market place. The COGs in general, never admit to failure and will do as
much as possible to prop up bad ideas and bad people. It takes humility to
accept and embrace failure.

IMPORTANT THOUGHT: Those who are not failing on occasion are only those who
not trying new things!

A great book is one called "Creative Destruction". It basically states the
same thing, that you must be continually tearing down and allowing
destruction, so that new growth can take place. In fact, you need to embrace
"destruction", actually change itself, and design for it and encourage it.

The problem we have with centralized communist style COG government, is that
it does not allow for failure. How many bad ministers are replaced? The
reason is that there is no free market choice for the congregants. They dont
get to vote for the man, and they dont even get to vote with their dollars
either.
There is no cleansing mechanism, and no free market response allowed.

In free market Christianity, these poor performing pastors would not be
able to sustain a congregation. In business, it is a well known fact that
about 7% of your staff needs to be replaced annualy for job related poor
performance.

Furthermore, not only are bad administrators and ministers subsidized, but
good ministers and managers are NOT REWARDED! In fact they get held back or
discouraged. The whole system does not reward innovation or risk, but rather
rewards "maintaing the status quo" or "avoiding problems".

The dynamic of change is thus thwarted in this communist central planned
church economy. There exists no "flushing mechanism" and no true economy.

The individual member should not be chattel, or "fuel". He is the actual
client, or customer! God saves individual people, not corporations, or
denominations. In the end it is One Person at a time. Yet, if the client is
viewed as dependent on the state, and not the state on the client, you end
up with a very weird upside down relationship! This has happened in the
Church.

One thing that threatens communist systems is freedom of information. A
controlled press is necessary in order to thwart a free market of ideas.
Ideas, and dreams are dangerous. Complaints are dangerous, as it allows for
a synergy of thought, whereas if someone holds a complaint privately, he may
doubt its merits, or question ones self , or be in fear. If there is a
community of likeminds, it reinforces the merits of dissatisfaction, or
impetus for positive correction.

The ORGs hate the internet, and they hate guys like you and I, that operate
freely outside of it. I do not advocate anarchy or disrespect. But I have
tremendous faith in the Holy Spirit of God, and I believe that the Body of
Christ, will be the self correcting government if we are taught to learn how
to listen to that small still voice of its leading.

Ants have an "Ant Spirit" and they do tremendous things. They do not require
"Managers", "Hierarchy" or a centralized government. Yet each knows what to
do, and what their "gifts" are.

Friends, why do we have such low amount of faith in the fact that the brethren
have the spirit of God. If indeed, they do not have the spirit, then all is
for naught anyway. But if they do, then like the ants, they will follow the
voice of the Eternal leader.

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

Tired Skeptic said...

For those who looked through the CoGBS website, some may have looked at their beliefs and noted their position on tithing. This has prompted a few thoughts intersecting one poster's probably accurate allegations that most of the ministers in the CoGs are hirelings. Maybe, as extreme as it may sound, he didn't go far enough: Perhaps all paid ministers are hirelings.

There are those xCGS who have founder / leader / ministers who don't take one penny from the tithes, offerings and contributions, but spend them entirely on publishing the gospel in one form or another. [One disturbing feature of these groups is that often the money goes to some group in Africa -- up to 95% in some cases -- and they have no how idea the money is spent.] They are rather rare. Most have a paid minister / leader and it's not volunteer.

Here's the point: Although the Apostle Paul hints in his epistles that he could live off of members' contributions, he chose not to do so. This raises a nagging question which is doubtful any of the xCGs could answer: In the First Century AD, were Jewish Christians supposed to give as many as six tithes? The first three dedicated to the Temple System and the other three dedicated to the early Churches of God and the Apostles and Evangelists?

And what of Feast Days? Would this reduce the tithes to only five? Would the Christians assemble themselves at Jerusalem to be taught by the Jewish priests out to kill them -- the ones without the Holy Spirit, mind you -- or would they be off by themselves in their little group of 4,000+, an easy pick off for those laying in wait to kill them? Maybe the third tithe was, as the CCg believes, simply the second tithe the third year in a seven year cycle?

This is truly a logical puzzle which would make no real sense given the assumptions of the xCGs and the Armstrongists, as far as I can tell. It would be a fairly sure bet that one of three things were true: 1) Christians in the First Century AD paid to the Temple System only up until it was destroyed in 70 AD, or 2)they paid something like double or 3) they paid nothing at all and gave what they thought they could afford after rather heavy Roman Empire taxes.

It is doubtful we could ever tell one way or another. There don't seem to be any documents written in the First Century that survived except the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those of you who watched the History Channel recently to see Life Without Humans understand the reason why: In little over 200 years, the writings would ashes to ashes and dust to dust. It's disturbing that there will be no evidence of humanity 100,000 years after humans disappear from the face of the earth and the earth pretty much erases all evidence of their ever being here. There would be no way to tell, and frankly, what little we do have comes of the New Testament comes suspiciously after most writings would have crumbled into so much rubbish.

So the question remains: What Scriptural basis is there for a paid and not volunteer ministry, worthy of double honor, but not from the mammon of this world?

In such a world, even Herbert Armstrong would have been a hireling and his behavior certainly told us that.

What's the answer?

And what Bill just said. Study the ant, thou sluggard: Rocks will be raised up. To do what? Praise God and His Glorious Son, Jesus Christ, according to the Bible, that's what, not that Armstrongists seem to care what Scripture says nor use any sort of logic to puzzle things out.

Tired Skeptic said...

For the one or two who may have a bit of curiosity left, Tired Skeptic is a play off of Daniel 7:25 -- the part about "and shall wear out the saints of the Most High". There's quite a lot of that going around these days with rather tiresome folks on the front lines.

Anonymous said...

WWYHD?

In trying to sort out how the various xcg organizations can get along either internally or with each other, it can be helpful to try to visualize what you personally would have done if it had been you rather than Joe Tkach (Senior or Junior) who had been given the reins to the WCG wagon after HWA's death. In other words, what would you have done (WWYHD)?

Assuming that you think that HWA was fundamentally wrong on several things - healing, tithing, feast days, US & BC in Prophecy, the imminent return of JC, ultimate destiny of mankind, etc., how would you have proceeded? God has put you in charge of His organization. Now what do you do?

DennisDiehl said...

"Finally, there are points at which analogies break down: For example, in the analogy comparing the Soviet Union to the Worldwide Church of God, it would be silly to pursue the analogy that when the Soviet Union finally collapsed, it was taken over by the Russian Mafia."

You're kidding right? Tell me you're not missing the final irony of the Tkaches :)

Bob said...

Tired Skeptic asked "What's the answer?" and "Although the Apostle Paul hints in his epistles that he could live off of members' contributions, he chose not to do so."

Actually, if you take a close look at the Greek you will find that many of the scriptures used to prop up these things have been turned upside-down. What Paul was actually saying was that he had a right to the Christians' respect, not their money.

The bit about "double honour" was referring to the elderly, not the elders.

Throughout his epistles Paul urged others to "follow me as I follow Christ". Again, a look at the Greek reveals that what he was really saying was "imitate my example."

Acts 20 has Paul summing up what his example was. He says there that he never took any money from anyone, but rather provided not only for himself but for others as well. He then tells the elders that it is better for THEM to give than to receive.

My favourite scripture on this subject is 2 Cor.2:17
"For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ."

DC said...

To comment on a couple of peripheral matters regarding the COG Big Sandy of which I have personal knowledge:

Stan Gardner wrote: "No board minutes taken down since June 2006? Please Dixon, say it isn't so!"

I don't do the congregation's website. However, I lay out (but do not write) the weekly bulletin posted as PDFs at bigsandychurch.org. (I also lay out the local United congregation's bulletin. For that matter, I play music in both congregations.)

I wondered what Stan was talking about, concerning the minutes. I see what he means. There is a page of links to minutes of board meetings of the past and a list of dates of recent meetings that look like they should be links but are not.

That must be because at some point somebody decided that the minutes would appear in the weekly bulletins. An example is the latest bulletin, dated Jan. 26, which exists in PDF form on the site.

It is current policy that the minutes of every board meeting appear in the weekly bulletin, which goes up on the website and which people attending Sabbath services may pick up as hard copies as they walk into the church building.

It does look like only the most recent 10 weeks' worth of bulletins are posted on the site. Still, each set of minutes is made public and remains on the site for several weeks.

On another matter, Tired Skeptic wrote: "For those who looked through the CoGBS website, some may have looked at their beliefs and noted their position on tithing. This has prompted a few thoughts intersecting one poster's probably accurate allegations that most of the ministers in the CoGs are hirelings. Maybe, as extreme as it may sound, he didn't go far enough: Perhaps all paid ministers are hirelings."

I'm not sure what Tired Skeptic was implying about CGBS and tithing, but I did go and read the graf about tithing in the statement of beliefs, which says:

"We believe that the use of tithes and offerings to further the cause of true religion is an act of worship and therefore a private matter between a Christian and God."

I read this to mean that the Big Sandy church does not involve itself in recommending that anyone tithe or make offerings. Further, I've never heard Dave Havir recommend, from the pulpit or anywhere, that anyone tithe or make offerings. Further, even though Dave's congregation accepts feast-day and other offerings and tithes (from people who want to donate and tithe), there are no pitches encouraging offerings during feast-day services or at any other time, orally or in print. There is a 10-second announcement on a feast day that an offering will be taken up, and that's it. No sermonette or any comment at all on the importance of tithing or offering.

--Dixon Cartwright

byker bob said...

WWYHD? is a difficult question for me to answer, because I considered WCG to be beyond repair and left immediately following the 1972-75 debacle. For a while, I considered sending my tithes to Billy Graham, but then read some papers by Ernest Martin disproving the need to tithe during our modern era.

We have an abundance of history on which to draw, as many of the ministers who left Armstrongism as a matter of conscience have shared with us the fact that many of the original doctrines were promised by HWA for restudy. Divorce and Remarriage was one, and third tithe was another. To read their accounts, (they now have a voice via the internet, whereas at the time they were simply "gone") hardship amongst the members and lack of confidence in the leadership was building to explosive proportions while HWA stubbornly refused to consider any new exegetics prepared on the various doctrines which had been in place for so many years.

As I understand it (I wasn't around during the '80s), HWA waffled on D&R and cosmetics to suit his own marital imperatives, and following the breakup of his marriage, put the church "back on track" effectively killing any hope for reform.

The Tkaches certainly had to know of all the independent studies which had been prepared shedding new light on cherished doctrines, as Sr at least was around in the days of the STP.

The basic problem is that when HWA died, it became obvious that he'd set up the WCG as an oligarchy. I don't know what a sincere reformer could have done that would have produced results that were any more favorable than what we've seen.

Still, if a person had been willing to put power and financial issues aside, he might have declared something to the effect that:

"Brethren, we were wrong on so many of the salvation issues. We simply cannot,in good conscience continue to teach error. We're going to be very upfront with the changes, and we know that probably some of you will choose not to go along with them. So, in the new sense of spiritual freedom, if you want to stick around, we'll be here for you, only this time, not as Nazi officers, but as genuine spiritual guides. If you wish to stick with the original doctrines, here is a list of ministers who will be teaching them. Feel free to join in with them, if that is what you believe to be correct. We encourage you to listen to what we have to say first, so that you can make an educated decision, but this is the end of the old WCG, and the beginning of a new era."

The problem is, deception and coercion spoiled what could have been a very beautiful new journey.
The original oligarch gave birth to hundreds of apiring oligarchs, most of whom have contaminated their efforts by imitating him instead of Jesus Christ.

BB

Anonymous said...

Byker Bob, in response to the question WWYHD, wrote:

"I don't know what a sincere reformer could have done that would have produced results that were any more favorable than what we've seen."

Bob, I have thought about this several times over the years and have not been able to come up with any good answers. If one were determined to break down the HWA system that was replete with errors then you would pretty much have to destroy the organization, in my opinion. The ministers and the most of the people were of a certain mindset that would not have allowed too much change. Plus, you have to consider that there were two campuses to support, a couple of thousand employees around the world, financial obligations to banks and other lenders, not to mention the AICF activities and the well being of all the members and their families.

After saying that the old WCG regime is over, would you have held on to all the assets or would you have given the facilities to the majority of members and ministers who would have wanted things to remain much the same as always?

I think that about the best that could have happened would have been for those in charge to have cobbled together a sabbath-keeping church with kinder, gentler doctrines, sold off most of the assets, paid off the bills and then tried to get along on what people gave as freewill offerings. I think that Joe Jr. tried to go that route but decided to place all his chips on the "we will go with whatever Jesus has in mind for us" bet. I have been of the opinion since shortly after Joe Jr. obtained the office that his long-term game plan was keep the money coming into HQ until the campus was sold and then he could implement the final stages of "freeing the church."

This is not meant to be a defense of the Tkaches but I think anyone would have found it extremely difficult to have turned that ship around without running it aground.

Caraid de Sith said...

The situation in Big Sandy is convoluted at the moment, but eventually the truth will come out.

A handful of people have held the reins there for over 10 years with few real challenges. Due to events over the last couple of years, challenges have come and the present administration is determined to prevent change and growth. Members of the Big Sandy congregation have not been provided a venue for discussing and dealing with conflicts or the governance of the church. The attrition of the membership was gradual but noticeable until recently when it became painfully obvious.

For almost a year the congregation heard messages from the pulpit encouraging those who disagree with the leadership to separate themselves for a while. Many have left to attend other congregations or home fellowships. Recently, a group of about 30 long-time members decided to meet for services in another town for the sake of peace. They were immediately accused of starting up a competing church. Those who do not agree with the present administration are strongly encouraged to go elsewhere rather than stay and try to work things out. Those who choose to follow this advice are then labeled as troublemakers and are not welcome to stay involved in the Big Sandy congregation in any way.

It's unfortunate to see things like this happen to a congregation that was considered unique in the COG world, but it was inevitable. Similar patterns of behavior occur in churches of every stripe. It has little to do with a belief system but has everything to do with human nature, fear of change, and the desire for control.

Anonymous said...

Dixon Cartwright has posted an interesting commentary related to this topic of the difficulty in brethren getting along at The Journal website.

I couldn't get the specific link to post properly here. Just go to thejournal.org and look for the link to "Should we worry about being agreed?".

Anonymous said...

Oh, they don't encourage tithing. That's great. And yet they still pass out the offering envelopes at the Feasts. OH yeah, somebody's going to just take the envelope and not give anything. Do the words "peer pressure" or "group psychology" mean nothing to you people?

"For almost a year the congregation heard messages from the pulpit encouraging those who disagree with the leadership to separate themselves for a while."

Combined with the fact that these same individuals are then publicly shamed in the church bulletin (which is posted on the church's website for all to read), I stand by my earlier assertions that Havir's out for his own little piece of Herbie's kingdom. It's a cult of personality. Havir may indeed be a kinder, gentler theocrat, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a theocracy.

WWIHD? Sold off everything, gone through the records at Ambassador (You do recall that we each had our own church-assigned "serial numbers", do you not? Speaking of the mark of the beast....), matched up amounts with people, and sent everyone back every single penny the church had ever taken them for.

Ahhhhhh, but then Junior would have had to forgo all those cruises throughout the year. Not to mention the European vacation he's got planned for the fall....

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that should have read "number" of the beast.

One last point though, if you're still a Havir fan, check out his op-ed piece in The Journal (right under Dixon Cartwright's). The relevant quote (emphasis mine)?

"Not only should a believer find peace and edification in his home and in his place of worship, a believer should be a tool of peace and edification.

"Don't allow well-meaning family and friends to place a guilt trip on you to talk you into attending a larger congregation. (For that matter, don't allow well-meaning family and friends to place a guilt trip on you to convince you to attend a home fellowship.)"

So. Don't disagree with us, don't listen to those who disagree with us, and don't let anyone talk you into coming to church here, but don't let them talk you into going to church at somebody's house, either.

Did I get all that? I think I did.

Same old CoG logic. Stun them with contradictions, and hope they'll stay stunned long enough to pass in the special offering envelopes, and kick them to the curb if they show any signs of "disturbing the peace". And by peace, I think you know I mean brainwashing.

Church Corporate Critic said...

The CoGBS is an outgrowth of not just the WCG Church Corporate but the UCG as well: Expect nothing less over time that Church Corporate tactics no matter how benign things may seem at first.

Byker Bob said...

I don't see anything wrong with offerings per se. But, they should be totally voluntary, and between the individual giving them, and God. Having a series of manipulative dire emergencies and gunlaps over a fifty year period to extort more than what people would give on a free will basis is just plain wrong, though.

I also feel that, while nobody could ever begin to make meaningful reparations for all of the wrongs and suffering perpetrated by HWA/WCG, even an apology and some sort of rebate would have been both appropriate and appreciated by most. Unfortunately, religion and charities do not offer a money back guarantee as do some reputable retailers. Backers must do their due diligence prior to making substantial donations, or they are pretty much SOL.

What we went through has often been likened to either rape of the soul, or seduction. In this case, the perpetrator has morphed, shrunken, and cloned itself, remaining a threat to future victims. And, you really can't prevent this type of perp from continuing its dastardly deeds without elliminating the freedoms and protections which we enjoy under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Some folks get so angry at this that they'd even like to see religion abolished and made illegal, but that's not the solution either.

It all boils down to what we do as a committee of one. Most of us will help out the occasional homeless or needy person out of the goodness of our hearts. Now that we're no longer the proverbial frogs in boiling water, it is shocking that a church would exploit this basic goodness.

BB

Anonymous said...

Re: Tithing. I suggest the article 'Be a Good Steward' in the Nov/Dec New Horizons magazine. View at www.cgom.org

Anonymous said...

To Byker Bob on tithing: Are you referring here to giving of your time, resources, etcetera? Because if you're thinking of giving your money away, I highly recommend you check out Earnest Martin's treatise, The Dilemma on Tithing before you do.

"I don't see anything wrong with offerings per se. But, they should be totally voluntary, and between the individual giving them, and God."

Here's my question: Do you really think "God", whatever your concept of God might be, has use for/need of/the ability to utilize funny-coloured pieces of paper that arose as a result of purely human-generated capitalism?

(We shall save the debate on capitalism being a religion in its own right for another day, thanks.)

If, after considering all of the above, your answer is still "Yes!" then my next question is: How are you going to get the money to God?

Send it up on the shuttle? Or, if you believe, as I do, that God is extra-dimensional (outside of) our universe, you can't get the money there. Not that the laws of physics would apply there anyway.

(Resulting in such potentially weird and wonderful things as paper being liquid, liquid being solid, etcetera.)

With regards to the argument that we can't limit the CoGs' right to freedom of speech, I agree absolutely, 100%.

However. I think the crux of the argument (made especially well by those over at the Freedom From Religion Foundation) is that the basic human rights of the members of the various Churches of God splinters ARE being subverted.

The same holds true of members of the current incarnation of the Worldwide Church of God, for all Junior's protestations (heh) that they're really happy hippy Jesus-preachin' bible-beaters now.

The members' basic human rights, of access to food, and shelter, and other basic necessities of LIFE are STILL being denied, in the church's zeal to promote the latest "fund-raising" project, which as we all know, includes Junior's multiple cruises per year, and the ministers of misery's European vacations.

Careful financial auditing of any of the corporate megachurches extant in North America today will reveal much the same.

If you want to "tithe" ten percent of your time, or your good-will, or ten percent of your (for example) clothing to a thrift store, or something along those lines, that's commendable.

The danger is when you start giving and giving, with the idea that it's going to bring anything back (except maybe a warm fuzzy). Because it isn't. That's not the way the real world operates.

There are no scorecards, except the ones humans generate. Sacrifice and suffering, however noble they may be in theory, won't get you any further up the rungs of the ladder of life. No matter what any mere mortal preacher-man, or their concomitant holy book, has to say about it.

Byker Bob said...

Obviously you've got me mixed up with someone else. I've consistently stated that I believe tithing was done away, and before it was, it only involved "increase" which was always agricultural. There is no Levitical priesthood, and has not been since AD 70 when Herod's temple was destroyed in the Jewish insurrection by the Romans. Part of the HWAcaca was that we were to believe that WCG ministers were the modern day equivalent of the Levites, but that is just plain stupidity. If you've been reading my posts at all, you know that I cited that same Ernest Martin article that you linked to as support for my position on tithing.

What I said was that I don't have anything against "offerings" per se, if people want to give them and are not coerced. I think you're just looking for a straw man to pick a fight with. I don't even attend church, have nothing to do with WCG, the sphincter groups or even Livingroom Churches of God.

When I give, it is generally to friends or family members, and the occasional homeless person. I never under any circumstances give a red cent to churches or religious teachers. If others wish to contribute to their church or guru, that's their choice. Hope that helps.

BB

Anonymous said...

That's what I was hoping (that you weren't talking about giving money). Glad to see I was correct. And no, I wasn't trying to pick a fight.

Rodroid said...

Hey,
None of us believe in a flying purple unicorn.
I believe in a flying purple hymnal. At least that's what it looked like when I last saw it flying toward my trashcan back in '95.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what on earth prompted the COG BS to remove John Warren?

Mel said...

Am I mistaken in thinking COG BS split off from United in the past?

If correct, anyone know when and why?

Anonymous said...

Re Tithing. I suggest you read the article 'Be a good steward' in New Horizons Sept/Oct 2007 . View in www.cgom.org

Sorry if this is duplicated: Yesterday's 'disappeared' from the comments

Anonymous said...

WWIHD? As one present at the time of the 'changes' leaving only after the fumbling maladministration, here's what I would have done and what, naturally I feel Joe Sr should have done:
"Brethren, I have been put in a position by HWA with the expectation of maintaining the dcotrines and practises of the WCG which he built. I now find myself at odds with many of these teachings so I will step down and allow another Pastor-General, chosen by the Council of Elders, to replace me. I will be holding meetings of my own in a locally hired meeting place and if anyone cares to join me they would be most welcome. Goodbye."
Perhaps not a perfect solution but at least it would have left the WCG in the hands of those who had contributed the most to its development.
I wonder what would have happened had he done this.

Lochinvar

Anonymous said...

Mel,
I was with bsCOG when we founded. We were independant and then joined UCG (BIG mistake)then went independant again. Hope this answers your question.

Anonymous said...

Lochinvar,

What you suggest in your WWIHD comment would have required integrity and honesty.

The Tkach clan will never have to work again for generations to come, and live the lifestyle of the wealthy. Stealing a church the size of the WCG pays!

Reality said...

"Perhaps not a perfect solution but at least it would have left the WCG in the hands of those who had contributed the most to its development.
I wonder what would have happened had he done this.

Lochinvar"

It certainly would have been more ethical and honest.

In supposition, he would surely have been poorer, and many more captives would yet remain in the COG system.

If all who had major doctrinal questions had left the organiztion (many did, we just didn't see them anymore) then only those who continued in their brainwashed mode would have been available to move into the numero uno level.

Mel said...

Anonymous answered,

"I was with bsCOG when we founded. We were independant and then joined UCG (BIG mistake)then went independant again. Hope this answers your question."

Thank you for the information.

Makes me think of an episode of Little House on the Prairie in which Mrs. Olsen hitched a restaurant she'd started to someone running a chain of them.
She was sorry she did, as the fine print in the contract (micro-managing by the parent entity) came back to bite her in the rear.

Of course, Michael Landon ended up the hero, making all ok again.

If only Little Joe could make everything all better in COG-land!(NOT Tkach-Joe, I mean the Little Joe from Bonanza!) (I know I'm moving amongst TV shows) with some help from Hoss, Adam, and Paw, riding in on their horses, and throwing some well-deserved punches on jaws and noses...

Heh...heh...

pat said...

byker bob said:
"I think we can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if the Holy Spirit had ever even been a remote influence in the church built by HWA,..."
" It was all illusion and delusion, promoted by one very strange little man."

The church built by HWA? I thought God was the builder of His church! Why did HWA teach so many truths? Why are there so many who still fellowship together who knew each other from our previous association in WWCG and love and enjoy doing so, have moved on, grown, changed in alot of areas but still hold to the Sabbath, Holy days, food laws, tithing, love...? We don't neccessarily hold to every little itty bitty piece of former "knowledge" and we have ALOT of growing to do but why do we view life this way as opposed to the negative? There were many mistakes made under former associations but if we had looked into our Bible and asked God for the answers, would we have followed blindly along? Who was at fault for our bad decisions? Was it HWA or us?

byker bob also said:

" That there is continued disunity should raise some serious redflags amongst those aspiring to "keep the faith" that they may be on a completely wrong path, one on which the Holy Spirit never did have any presence or influence from the very beginning."

How many times in the New Testament were there problems to deal with among people IN the church? The messages to the churches in Revelation tells of the problems and the good in the churches.

dr. phil proponent said:

"It's time for the Churches of God to get real! The Churches of God need to take responsibility for their choices."

Good advice in that line!

Anonymous said...

I was an unbaptized member of a God's church for a few yrs and have just woke up this week. I started to do something one of the ministers actually told me to do, read everything I can on line about the WWCG origins. I have seen 2 pastors die, and now it is a royal mess. I never understood or saw the infighting and church power struggles until lately. But enough is enough! One of the many red flags I recognized right away, is the claim the Herbie is an end time Apostle and I asked if that is so, then why is he not mentioned in the Bible? And the placing of the picture of sweet old Herb at the FOT gave me the eeriest feeling of wrong, wrong this is wrong. He is a man. All of those predictions that did not come to pass? What a hoot! But many people simply do not want to read and are not going to hear it from the ministry, except a bland, oh he made mistakes! Oh did he ever. And what about the 2d wife of his, 46 years younger and he was deceived?? Poor guy... right! That and the story of the incest were simply too much for me. I have decided not to worry about it another minute and take back my life. I thank God and Jesus that I am not going to ignore all the red flags I saw and be deceived any longer by their scare tactics and constant talk of the lake of fire, and all the talk like a bunch of Pharisees. I am out and glad that my husband who was always too smart for this advertisers hype! sign me as breathing easy now.

Anonymous said...

The commentary on COGBS is a sad one due to people being hurt, but until we get away from "man-made" churches and follow Christ as our head and let God truly build the Church then I think we will continue to see splits.

As far as the comment made that implied "legalistic" views by the bylaws and proper procedure at board meetings being questioned...that person does not seem to understand how a corporation is supposed to function...and that is what it is is...a corporation of the State of Texas.

When reading the COGBS bulletin, please realize that it is written, edited and monitored by the Pastor and can only report what he allows. The congregation does not have a voice where the bulletin is concerned.

Unless you are involved you cannot truly grasp all that is taking place.

My prayers are with all of us being effected by this including those that would use deceptive practices and manipulation. Because some have chosen to not congregate with COGBS on a regular basis they are no less Christian but trying to follow Christ and worship in peace where they feel welcomed. The Sabbath is to be a delight.

I am appalled at the "whose side are you on" questions arising again. We should all be on the side of Christ and no man. True disciples love one another.

Let's be forward looking and get over the past. The only power that doesn't corrupt is the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us all walk humbly with God.

Anonymous said...

In response to something dc said about the COGBS board meeting minutes.

"It is current policy that the minutes of every board meeting appear in the weekly bulletin, which goes up on the website and which people attending Sabbath services may pick up as hard copies as they walk into the church building."

What is put in the bulletin is a synopsis customarily written by the board secretary but not the actual approved minutes. The minutes are not given out to the membership or public but are to be kept with the board records. I presume that if a member or person wanted to read them in their entirety, they would have to contact the secetary as apparently they are no longer being put on the website. I believe they are to be a matter of public record.

thesoilman said...

Hello everyone, Interesting site.

I am the new Secretary of the COGBS Board of Trusttees. I did not know until recently, when I was asked for the minutes by our web master, that it was supposed to be done. The man who was Secretary before me did not know about this so he did not let me know this was to be done. This is the time of year where I make most of my living in the next few months for the year so I will be out of town alot but will try to have it to the web master by March 1st. Anyone who asks may see the Minutes at church or at the Board Meetings. I will be happy to bring them. We have nothing to hide, and this is an innocent oversight, since the secretary of the board changes yearly. The board minutes will included the pastor's report, as well as all other church business. Our board meetings are open for all to attend if they so desire. Neil McIver

Anonymous said...

thesoilman:

Can you answer the question as to why was John Warren removed from the Board?

thesoilman said...

Anonymous asked if I could say why John was removed from the Board.
Yes I can. I think I will let those who want to know write or e-mail the Church of God Big Sandy and ask for the information. I will probly be the one to send it but then I will have gone through proper channels. As soon as I can get the info on the minutes to the web master it will be there for those to see. I believe it will be in the Journal that Dixon puts out so I don`t want to have it out befor he prints. :-) Some have called me and I have read what the President of the Board said was the reason, not reasons but reason. Thanks for asking, the answer will be out soon......
Neil McIver

Anonymous said...

Another question for thesoilman:

Why were the members who had chosen to meet separately in another town specifically singled out and shamed for not paying respect to a man they no longer felt in harmony with, in both the minutes of the report, and on the public bulletin issued on the website?

Anonymous said...

thesoilman said..."Yes I can. I think I will let those who want to know write or e-mail the Church of God Big Sandy and ask for the information. I will probly be the one to send it but then I will have gone through proper channels."

Thank you for your response. But I think writing/emailing would take away me wanting to remain anonymous so I won't be doing that.

We'll wait and see if the "reason" is told or not. I would hope that John Warren would also be given the same advantage of stating his side of things as well because truthfully we know that there is two sides to this story.