It's been thirty years since Herbert Armstrong departed the land of the living - now ticking on for 31. After three decades we're beginning to see a major die-back among those groups that loudly claimed his mantle.
The Church of God, an International Community is one of them. Splintering from UCG and led by former World Tomorrow presenter (and later founding UCG president) David Hulme, it struggled on for years, never reaching a critical mass. COG-AIC haemorrhaged prominent ministers. Rumour has it that Hulme thought he could get away with dumping the deeply flawed British-Israel doctrine, but Peter Nathan et al had other ideas. It no longer publishes its journal, Vision. In fact, the energy levels were so low that subscribers weren't even informed of its demise. COG-AIC has been downsized, scaled back to the point of irrelevance.
There are also reports that the Philadelphia Church of God has been hit in the pocketbook to the tune of a 25% reduction in income. PCG continues to throw money at its British Bricket Wood clone, Edstone Hall, and Gary is reporting that founder Gerry Flurry is set to purchase a personal jet to wing him - and members of his inner circle - across the Atlantic and beyond, just like his long-dead idol. Apparently flying commercial (and we're clearly talking first class here) is just too much for the great man to endure. How can he afford it? Perhaps it's all those bequests that have accumulated over the years, the gift that keeps on giving. Reason enough to check that your current will is up to date and that the parasites don't get a red shekel.
The United Church of God, an International Association is treading water at best. It's not that they're not trying to recruit new blood, it's just that they're not very good at it. UCG is still operating with a 1980s mentality, despite having paid out big bucks to bring its websites and media facades up to scratch. The message, however, is firmly targeted at old white males of the grumpier variety. Alas, lads, not only are the times a-changin' but so is the demographic.
The Living Church of God is facing a challenging time. Meredith won't be around forever, his successor is probably not up to the job, and there's widespread disillusionment in the ranks. Meredith predictably blames it on Satan. Anyone with a functioning brain can apportion responsibility closer to home than that.
And out beyond the barriers and borders that each of these "major" bodies has erected? "Here be dragons." With a couple of honourable exceptions, there you'll find Thiel, Weinland, Dankenbring and their ilk. Hardly a pretty picture.
The Churches of God will battle on in an increasingly diminished capacity for some time to come, but they have about as much chance of making a comeback as Christian Science or the Christadelphians.