I have returned from visiting the churches in as many nations as I was physically able to visit. I was gratified to see how well the churches are now functioning and how little real friction exists among us as a family of God.
I noticed the very real increase in approaches to us from groups and people leaving the WCG and ex WCG systems over their studies into the nature of God and the function of the true calendar. These groups are increasing in their approaches to us, and that can only mean that more and more are falling away from the Armstrong system in its various forms and offshoots.
One of the problems we face is in absorbing and dealing with these groups. Many often come to us as travelling circuses. They are seen as being, and often are, the property of individuals who use them for their own benefit and power. In every case we have had where a group joins us, it is split, or many are lost, as the individuals are forced to come to grips with the faith.
In a dinner recently a person associated with an Armstrongite offshoot and studying with us said to the church group at the dinner that (as most there had ex WCG backgrounds) if it were not for Herbert Armstrong we would not all be together. I then pointed out to him and the church members there that it is God that calls us and puts us together as the body of Christ. Not even Christ has that prerogative. I then said to the members there that they had better understand that unless their righteousness exceeded that of Herbert Armstrong, they would not inherit the kingdom of God. God had removed that system because it was an unfit example of the faith.
In this aspect we are faced with a very serious dilemma. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. In that aspect, and sense, we acknowledge the baptisms and ordinations of the previous eras of the church provided their baptisms are valid, and their doctrines are within the basic parameters of the Churches of God, adjusted for the errors of the systems from which they came and repented.
The problem is that we are continually being faced with officers who are not cognisant of the serious errors from which they have been called. Nor do they really understand the abusive nature of the systems from which they are called to serve, and how different we are to those systems. In that sense, whilst we recognise and credential officers, they must realise they are on trial and their position depends on the acceptance of them by the general populace of the Church.
This brings me to a point about the role of women in the Christian Churches of God. CCG follows Paul’s guidelines and those of the Temple system, in that women are not allowed to preach and have authority over men in services. However, the church has long serving deaconesses and officers, and they have every authority over the areas to which they are appointed. Women are placed in charge of catering, Children’s Bible Studies and education aspects, administration, and write for publications under my editorial responsibility and are active in a host of areas. The three senior administrative positions of the Church are held by women. God placed them there by loyalty and diligence and by their appointment in recognition of their obvious service to God.
We will not tolerate the abuse of women and their denigration in the service
of the Lord. I was appalled to read an account of a court case in Washington
recently where an injunction had to be sought against another member by a man
and his wife of one of the ex-COGs. The report was written by a man who was
present, and who was formerly a member of that organisation. The officers of
the church not only did not take appropriate action to control the matter and
deal with it internally, but also they reportedly tried to force the man and
his wife to continue living within the present situation they were forced to
endure. The judge reportedly had to threaten to find the offending party in
contempt, and remove the church officer and friends of the man from the court.
Unless one has seen it, one can scarce comprehend the insanity and injustice that has passed for acceptable conduct in the churches of God in the 20th century.
This conduct is not acceptable within the CCG and will be dealt with promptly. It is hard enough for us all to live a life of harmony and love of one another, without importing the errors of a dead and dying system into us.
It is important that we all realise, that coming into the CCG from one of the other churches of God merely means that we recognise that God has called each of us, and that service is rewarded. Sometimes I have had to discipline people for failing to recognise the previous service of long standing members. In one instance, one of the faithful deacons of the Church had been left on the sideline when they joined us. We were not informed of their previous service because of what appeared to be family ambition on the part of an incoming minister. I rectified that error immediately after I was informed. I might add that the minister responsible, and his family, and a large section of that church are no longer with us through those sorts of ambitions, and the behaviour inherited from the system from which they came.
Over the period from Pentecost of the Fifth year of this cycle to Pentecost of the Sixth year we have lost many people through their own errors and sins. This weeding out process occurs every cycle and many people are taken out because of their own errors. They are given time to repent and can return to the faith as they repent.
A major problem in the churches of God is that the Armstrong system entrenched privilege, and the ministry looked upon their people as pawns in a game. They were taught to do that. That system is dying and has been removed. They have no authority any more. One of the things I find both amusing and disconcerting is that my amiability, and the equity with which we treat the brethren is often seen as weakness instead of the command of Christ, and the strength of leadership that Christ showed us was to be our model. The leaders of this world lord it over us but it is not to be so with us. However, be advised that when I, or one of our officers issue a polite request, do not ignore it. In the same way, obey the civilian order and the laws governing us. They too are allowed their positions by God and are placed over the populace for order. No officer of CCG is to conduct themselves contrary to the legislation and procedures of the countries within which they serve, unless it directly contravenes the Law of God and is a direct threat to the faith. No criticism is to be drawn to us by such conduct.
What then is required of us? Do we refuse to take those who would join us? By no means! We welcome those among us as part of the body of Christ. However, be aware that there are members of long standing who have seen it all happen and have taken part in the struggles to survive for years. Some of our officers have been there from day 1. Do not presume to judge those who speak from experience. If you don’t know what happened, ask and you will be informed if it is considered appropriate.
The baptism of the members is the starting point, and we must ensure that the baptisms are correct procedurally. One thing we have found recently is that people coming to us from the churches of God are reporting improper baptisms into the church, and not the body of Christ. Such new members are requesting rebaptism and are reporting significant change in their lives.
This feast season I witnessed a number of new baptisms and we made a number of ordinations. I wish them all well and a productive life in the churches of God
I am able to report the consolidation of the church in East Africa, with a translation facility being set up in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, and assistance coming from Kenya. I was able to visit the church in the Kisii area and authorise Bibles in Kiswahili and also in Ekegusi for the Kisii area. When you consider you have it tough, remember that some of our churches are five kilometres or more from the nearest electricity, with no graded roads or transport. Interestingly enough, the Kisii brethren have built a church building nevertheless. The others rent their facilities as is usual with us.
In Kenya and Tanzania over this period, we were approached by many from East Africa leaving the churches of God over the Godhead and the Calendar. Our position is simple. We have a task to do. We are either the Church of God or we are not the Church of God. If we are, then join us and work. If we are not the Church of God, then find out where it is and who it is, and tell us and we will support them also. The approaches to us are because more and more of the people of the various churches of God of Armstrong persuasion are finding out we are correct. However, the financial considerations still tie many down. In East Africa many were paid to go to the feast to hold them in the Armstrong systems. Despite that fact they are now leaving in significant numbers it seems.
One interesting luncheon we had was with Dr Magdel Le Roux of the University of South Africa. She has done a research project on the Lemba tribe of Southern Africa. They are part of the Lost Tribes of Israel and their DNA demonstrates this aspect. The males of the priest clan of the Buba are Cohenate Levites, or descendents of Aaron. They were descended from a group of Jews that went to Southern Africa and seem to have been cut off by the Babylonian captivity and the exile. They took African wives and are to all intents and purposes an African tribe, but they have YDNA from Judah and Levi, and have Jewish customs and traditions. They are a sub tribe of Judah from all the reports. They keep a series of kosher aspects, and I was able to point out some interesting consequences regarding the timing of these aspects and their implications for the origin of the traditions, especially in light of a passage in the Koran. During an address of Dr Le Roux to a Rotary group in SA, so I was informed by our people, one of the SA of a racist persuasion was vehement about the prosect of a sub group of Judah being black. DNA testing will upset a few cherished notions but may itself revise evolutionary theory. I will write more on this later.
A major factor is the Lemba calendar. They do not follow the later Hillel system, as we would expect. They follow the conjunction system as we do and they determine it in advance from the waning moon. They have a set and interesting procedure.
Dr Le Roux was very interested in our history. As a university lecturer in theology, she was rather amazed by our existence. She stated she would study our history on the web sites also. We have invited her to study the Lemba further and write on their calendar. It appears that the later generation has adopted more Protestant views and are losing the earlier understanding. No doubt that degeneration of understanding will be aided by the improper translations of the later Afrikaans versions of the Bible that entrench falsehood and pagan custom in the texts.
I have asked the South Africans to identify these aspects and we will post the details in English and Afrikaans for study in Southern Africa.
The important task we all face is to make it possible for us all to live in
peace and harmony. Do not import the problems from other systems into CCG. Love
one another. Respect and cherish one another. Encourage one another in the faith.
Respect those in authority within us and those granted authority in the society.
If you cannot follow, then you cannot lead. By your faith and love, show that
you love God.
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