Monday, 2 February 2009

An Onion By Any Other Name

From: Joseph Tkach...
Sent: Thursday, 18 December 2008 6:48 AM
To: [a variety of apparatchiks]
Cc: 'Mike Feazell'
Subject: RE: Status of Denominational Name Change

Greetings again today!

Since sending the email updating you about the survey, Mike suggested to me that I share with you, my original email to all U.S. pastors:

Greetings from Glendora!

It is always such a great joy to see all of you at our annual district conferences, and I want you to know how much I appreciate you and your work in Christ. My only regret is that there is never enough time to interact with everyone as much I would like.

One of the common questions we discussed and that I’m frequently asked is, “When will we change our denominational name?”

I want to answer that question and also seek your assistance.

First, let me rehearse the background to the question of changing our denominational name.

1. Some people have an immediate negative reaction to the name “Worldwide Church of God” because of our past. Changing our name signals clearly that a change has taken place. It also strengthens our witness to God’s grace and his intervention in our fellowship.

2. “Church of God” conveys association with any one of a number of sectarian groups that have long used that name, such as the Churches of God, Anderson, Indiana, and many others. Some of these churches are Pentecostal, and most are fundamentalist.

3. When considering a name for our denomination, we need to consider the future as well as the past. Choosing a name for a church is a spiritual matter, but it has important practical implications. The name becomes the church’s public trademark, and helps people form a concept of who we are. What we call ourselves also has business and legal implications.

4. Our name should not misrepresent what the church is. Older members will remember that our church has been known as Worldwide Church of God only since 1968. Before then, we were known as the Radio Church of God. This made sense at the time, as the church had pioneered religious radio broadcasting. In the thirties, forties and maybe even the fifties, a name that included the word “radio” sounded dynamic and modern. But by the ’60s, it had begun to sound quaint and out-of-date. Membership was growing, and congregations were established around the world. We needed a name that described what our church had become. So “Worldwide” was chosen, and it has served us well. But today, the name “Worldwide Church of God” name carries the baggage of our pre-transformational reputation and culture and therefore misrepresents who and what we are as a denomination.

Since the beginning of our doctrinal transformation ministers and members alike have been raising the question of changing the name of the denomination. Because our doctrinal foundation, mission focus and church structure have undergone major changes, many have and continue to express their feeling that we need a name that better represents who the church is today and where it is going in the future.

As you know, in the September 2005 issue of WCG Today, members in the United States were invited to submit possible new church names to their pastors. District superintendents collected the suggested names and forwarded them to Glendora. Members, national leaders and mission developers from all over the world were also invited to participate in the process.

Our name search team, which was appointed by the WCG Board of Directors and was composed of a number of leading men and women from various departments at headquarters, examined the names submitted and made recommendations to the Board and to the Advisory Council of Elders.

After a reviewing all the submitted names and discussing the viable ones at length, the search team isolated key terms that reflect the church’s values and mission as a denomination while avoiding key terms that are normally associated with other denominations as well as those that are already in use by other organizations.

The name search team presented their findings and recommendations to a combined meeting of the Board and the Advisory Council of Elders on Dec. 20, 2005. After all factors and criteria were considered, the Board and the Council settled on the name “Grace Communion International” as best representing who and what our church is today and where it is going in the future.

The rationale was published in the February 6, 2006, issue of WCG Today:

Grace: Grace lies at the heart of our values and mission as a transformed church. The gospel is the message of God’s grace to humanity revealed in Jesus Christ. And it is by God’s grace that we were led out of our former legalism and biblical misinterpretation. If we must choose one word to best describe our fellowship in terms of our spiritual journey and our ongoing mission and goals, it would have to be the word grace.

Communion: The terms church, community, communion, assembly, conference and fellowship can all refer to a group of congregations belonging to a single denomination. Of these terms, communion includes the concept of spiritual unity and positive relationships in the love of the Father, the grace and peace of Jesus Christ and the life of the Holy Spirit. It is a biblical word, and one that resonates on several levels with our experience of transformation and new life in Christ, who shares with us his own communion with the Father and the Spirit.

The terms "community, fellowship and church" are less likely to be approved by the trademark office, in the current opinion of counsel.

International: We are an international, multicultural church. We value and respect one another, existing not as a single, national church in any given country, but as a unified body of believers who span the globe, sharing a common history and journey of faith.

(As a reminder, the name “Grace International Fellowship,” which I originally raised for consideration at our worldwide pastors conference in the summer of 2005, we found to be in use by another organization. That made it unavailable to us and meant that even variations of it could subject us to legal challenges.)

The approved name, “Grace Communion International,” was met with mixed reactions when it was first announced in early 2006. Although a majority of members expressed their support for the new name, we decided to put the name change on hold to allow more time to see whether a greater comfort level might develop among members did not.

As time has passed, the consensus in favor of the name “Grace Communion International” has continued to grow. Although we cannot expect 100 percent agreement on any name, it does seem that there is a growing majority of ministers and members who favor a change to this name.

We are a church that God has changed radically from what we once were to what we are today. Our change to a new name that accurately describes what God has done with us would be consistent with that transformation.

As you know, most of our congregations have already taken on local names, demonstrating the value in putting before the public a name other than our current denominational moniker. A new denominational name would underscore the rationale used by our local churches in allowing our name to reflect who our Father has made us through the Spirit to be in Jesus Christ.

Grace Communion International describes our spiritual journey together, celebrates our new life in Christ, and communicates our Trinitarian/Incarnational theology.

Any change, even a positive and accepted one, can generate a level of uncertainty and distress. That means your personal support as a pastor would be crucial to helping your congregation through the transition of a name change.

As a reminder, we are speaking about the change of the name of the denomination only. Each local church, and each international church, will still be able to choose its own name that may or may not be the same as our denominational name (or even keep the name "Worldwide Church of God"). Some North American congregations might wish to change their name to "Grace
Communion" (we anticipate obtaining the legal trademark to this shortened version of the name as well), or some variant, but they do not have to adopt our denominational name as their local church name.

Here is where I’d like to ask for your help. In order to gain a sense of whether now is finally the time for us to change our denomination name to "Grace Communion International", I am asking each pastor to do these three things:

1) explain the need for the change
2) explain the meaning of the new name
3) survey the response by asking your congregation for a show of hands as to whether they are supportive of this name change now. Please reply to this email with the results of a show of hands (e.g. 75% in favor, 25% opposed, or vice versa) along with the name of your congregation(s). While the email address bears my name, it is a temporary address for the purpose of this survey.

Thanks for your help in this and your continued faithful service in the gospel.

In Jesus’ love,
Joseph Tkach

AW response: dear Joe, ditching the baggage is a great idea, so why not start with the hierarchic leadership which has no mandate! Your resignation and the creation of representative structures (elected board, conference structure etc.) would mark a genuine change, unlike your present window dressing proposal.)


Russell Miller said...

Typical WCG behavior. Somehow changing the *name* will fix everything. PR ueber alles!

Anonymous said...

Yawn... Another attempt by WCG-HQ to deny following Matthew 24:14 like HWA knew to do. When will someone call the bluff of Tkach and Feazell on that issue? Why aren't there any demonstrations or protests at WCG-HQ like use to happen at Pasadena?

Byker Bob said...

Perhaps we should take up a collection to buy and kill the rights to the name "Worldwide" before Flurry buys it to actually use.


Anonymous said...

In some ways, the whole Joe-Joe act has me beat. It's as if, having reversed some executive orders, Pres Obama starts to ease up some restrictions on the Patriot Act and other legislation. Then after a few years of alterations to the Constitution, the USA has become a Westminster system democracy, except he retains being Head of State. Then he writes a book about it. As a final touch, there is a referendum for a change in the country's name.

It couldn't happen, as the President hasn't got that much power, and can't by himself alter the Constitution. But Herb gave the #1 supreme power, left no authority to the Board, and rejected any attempt to codify WCG doctrine.

Anonymous said...

Finally! They have arrived at the truth and will be removing God's name from their institution. I see no reason to use God's name in vain when they clearly reject him. I wonder if this will affect all those members who refuse to leave because they believed that they were baptized into the Worldwide Church of God. Without the name, I think the Lobby Church of God will have to face an interesting dilemma. The Worldwide Church of God will officially cease to exist and whatever institution they create to replace it will quickly dwindle. The general ministry has already basically abandoned them and will want to keep their tithes for their local use. This will be the final nail in the coffin. However, God's Church is still flourishing, just not with the numbers it used to have. I believe God will lead those who continue to follow him to the right place.

Russell Miller said...

Anonymous, indeed, you are correct. Thus, I look forward to the COG splinters coninuing to hemorrhage members. After all, God will lead them to the right place, right?

That would be OUT of any armstrong-worshipping cult.

KScribe said...

Anonymous Anonymous said..
"I believe God will lead those who continue to follow him to the right place."

And where would that be? Hell?

Mel said...


Since Radio Church of God "made sense at the time"...

How about "Hi-Def Church of God" for this "time"?

Heck, Joey could even sell 'convertor boxes' that will filter out any negative past preponderances, while ministering to all the new convertors they get.

I'm sure Jesus is agreeing with the Joey, and the church is growing by leaps and bounds as we speak.

Ain't it?

Mary Lane said...

The truth is that in order to change the WCG name, the WCG would have to call for an election of the corporate board membership, and set up new corporate articles, and could not go by the restated articles of incorporation, that leave the Joe Jr. as the sole owner of the WCG. This could cause loss of sole ownership and limit Joe's time in office.

From 1987 restated articles of incorporation-
"Each of the undersigned declares under penalty of perjury that the matters set forth in the foregoing certificate are true and correct of his own knowledge and that this declaration was executed on 2nd day of June, 1987, at Pasadena, California.

(Signed) Joseph W. Tkach

(Signed) Gene M. Michel

Filed June 11, 1987.

[Ekklesia posted the footnote below to the copy of the restated articles of incorporation]-

"* This constitution is significant in that it gives control of all assets of corporation to the Pastor General in the event of dissolution of the corporation. By calling this a restatement they avoided a vote by the membership on the subject."

Purple Hymnal said...

".....the WCG would have to call for an election of the corporate board membership......"

There is no "corporate board membership".

JIM O said...

Paint the exterior of a house falling apart on the inside and it is a newly painted house still falling apart on the inside.

Purple Hymnal said...

Can you say "lipstick on the pig", boys and girls?

Anonymous said...

WCG-HQ name change results are in... only 58 out of 260 churches "100% Agree" with the proposed name change. Mandate? Comments?

Purple Hymnal said...

...only 58 out of 260 churches "100% Agree...

That doesn't mean squat, and certainly won't make a difference: Junior has already decreed the name's going to be changed, so it's Junior's Will be Done, they're going to be "Grace Communion International".

Junior thinks that then maybe people in "the world" won't associate them with the forty thousand of us saying, "Um, but, you know, there were these two campuses? One that had a three million dollar chandelier in the lobby? And our and our parents' tithes and holy day offerings and special offerings paid for it? And Junior sold it in the mid-90s, but he pocketed the money, or did something with the money, and nobody knows what?

"And oh yeah now they've changed their name, too! Nope, they've got nothing to hide, not a thing in the world, nope, nada, zip, zilch, bupkiss, they have nothing to hide at all........"

Anonymous said...

Heard a rumor that WCG-HQ seems to be identifying certain WCG members as "rogue members"... are they afraid of dissent right now?

Anonymous said...

Apparently, WCG minister Ted Johnson needs to be looked into fo disparaging certain WCG church people as "rogue members". Wonder why, and why now?

Anonymous said...

KSLA news report confirmed Clergy Response Teams

Anonymous said...

Tkach on the Trinity: "The fact that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one and one in three means that Jesus Christ and the Father are not separate Gods. And that means you don’t ever have to worry about what God thinks about you, how God feels about you, or what is going to happen to you when you die…"

Anonymous said...

Tkach and Company may want to take a really good look at this one. Wonder what thisTed Johnston and his silly blog articles will say about this information...

Shocked by the Bible: The Most Astonishing Facts You've Never Been Told (Hardcover) by Joe Kovacs (Author)