Tuesday, March 18, 2014

LCG Announcement of Hiring former-COGFC Ministers - Wrap-up with COGFC

Living Church of God has announced the hiring of three ministers from COGaic (David Hulme) who were also briefly in COGFC: Mr. Peter Nathan, Mr. Stephen Elliott, and Mr. Bob Rodzaj. This is a confirmation of what has been reported by Mr. Nathan (for himself) and Mr. Brian Orchard several weeks ago, but was not announced by LCG until a few days ago.

Here is a link to the announcement:

I think Dr. Meredith and the top LCG leaders will try to make this movement of ministers from COGaic to LCG as smooth for the membership and as successful over all as is possible. LCG will be judged by other ministers and groups outside of LCG as far as the success of this movement of ministers is concerned. Dr. Meredith has long wanted ministers and members in other major Church of God fellowships to join LCG, and as far as I can remember, this is the first significant movement from one major fellowship to LCG that has occurred since Worldwide split up. The more successful this is for all concerned, the more likely it will be that future movements of ministers and brethren from other groups to LCG will occur. It is kind of a milestone, and a test case.

Things in COGFC seem to have settled down, finally. Most of the drama since nine leading ministers have left COGaic and organized the January 2014 conference may be over. When they left COGaic, there were many unknowns. It was not known if they would stay together. It was not known if they would preach the gospel to the world in any significant way or more than Mr. Hulme has done. It was not known what structure of governance they would have.

Some of these things have now been cleared up, at least to a degree. They did not stay together, but went in three different directions. Of the nine, five stayed together to form COGFC (Church of God, a Family Community), three went to LCG, and one went to UCG. They also seem to have pretty much set their direction not to try to preach the gospel powerfully in any foreseeable future but to concentrate primarily on feeding the flock and "healing" the Church of God at this time.

This does not mean they will do nothing to preach the gospel. Perhaps they will to a small degree, but it has become evident that the hearts of the five remaining leading ministers in COGFC are not in it. I would be astonished if they do anything more than a small work. Probably, they will do little more than Mr. David Hulme has done to preach the gospel to the world in COGaic.

This puts them at odds I think with many, perhaps even most, of the members who left COGaic since those ministers have left. Those members left, partly, because of dissatisfaction with Mr. Hulme's slow pace of preaching the gospel to the world. But these ministers may have left COGaic for different reasons, including serious differences with Mr. Hulme about other matters. As a result, I think COGFC has lost some of its membership it started out with. They have not announced yet if they will have enough members in attendance to hold a Feast of Tabernacles in Tucson. They need a head count so they can know if they can fill 50 rooms for the duration of the Feast, which was their original plan for Tucson. They want COGFC members to commit to attending the Feast with COGFC without knowing in advance where that Feast will take place. That is kind of hard for some members to do, I would think.

The structure or model of governance has somewhat stabilized - through inaction to form something else rather than a positive affirmation of what they are practicing - as a "mutual agreement" structure of government I described in previous posts.

Perhaps the pace of change in COGFC will slow now. Some change may still occur. It is not yet definite that COGFC will remain viable as a Church of God fellowship. They may lose more members, and this could strain their finances to the breaking point. But probably they will continue in some form.

COGFC started out with hope and promise. There was excitement over what they might have done. They could have started immediately, as soon as they formed, to carry out both halves of Christ's commission to the Church of God: to preach the gospel to the world and feed the flock. This is what God commands. They could also have started immediately with hierarchical government along the lines of what Mr. Armstrong practiced and the Bible teaches. They could have done both of these things and reached out to scattered members and groups to try to achieve reconciliation and care for the scattered flock. But they did neither.

I get the impression that the present leaders of COGFC were following their own ideas and reasoning more than the word of God, the Bible, for there is abundant evidence in the Bible and history that hierarchical government is the correct structure of governance for the Church of God and that the gospel and the Ezekiel warning need to be preached to the world as a witness and as a warning to Israel, and it should be done NOW, not postponed so that the Church can be "healed" first.

COGFC gave many reasons for their course of action in the last three months, and some of these reasons sound good, on the surface. But in all their explanations, there was one thing I thought was missing. There was not an in-depth Bible study about the issues COGFC faced and decided in the first three months. There was fasting. There was prayer and talk of prayer. There were meetings and a desire for unity. But the justification for decisions made - decisions to try to break new ground with a new model of governance, decisions to postpone preaching the gospel to the world and first concentrate only on healing the Church and achieving reconciliation - seem to be based on a combination of, "here are our reasons", and, "we prayed and fasted and here is the agreement we believe God has led us to".

But there was no in-depth Bible study of these issues where all relevant scriptures on these subjects were discussed and shared with the brethren. There was no biblical justification for not following hierarchical government with one leader under Christ in charge of an organization or fellowship. There was no biblical justification for postponing preaching the gospel to the world.

I do not mean scriptures were never used. But they were used selectively. Acts 15 was used, but not the letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus commanding them to appoint elders. The "beam in the eye" passage may have been used to support the idea that we cannot correct the world until we correct ourselves, but there was no serious examination of the question, "Does the 'beam in the eye' teaching really mean we should 'heal the Church' before we preach the gospel? Is that Jesus's intent?" There was no examination of how God used men like Jonah and Judas to preach the truth even though they had serious problems - if there had been, it would have been clear that we are NOT to use the excuse that we have spiritual faults to postpone obedience to God's command to preach the gospel to the world.

The leaving of COGaic of these ministers has served a purpose, however. It has freed some members and ministers from being in COGaic and it has opened the minds of many COGaic and former-COGaic members to the feasibility of joining Living Church of God. Many COGaic members have thought about this for years, no doubt, but some are now doing it, and as time goes on, LCG may become a magnet to attract more COGaic ministers and members. The ice has been broken in this regard because three ministers from COGaic have led the way.

And, while I feel COGFC has not lived up to its potential and its promise, it can still serve to give some spiritual nourishment to some scattered brethren through its online Sabbath services and Bible studies who are not able to physically attend anywhere at this time.

I think things have settled down to a degree in COGFC, and that is good, for Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are coming up soon, and the Church of God and all the ministers and members need to focus on appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ, personal repentance, overcoming sin, and drawing closer to God. That should be our focus now, and with less drama in the Churches of God, we will be able to better focus on that priority.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your careful analysis of this current event.

You wrote: "I get the impression that the present leaders of COGFC were following their own ideas and reasoning more than the word of God, the Bible..."

You are not the only one who gets that impression!