HOW MANY CHURCHES does God have at one and the same time? The dissidents following A MAN, Garner Ted Armstrong, are now speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They KNOW that God condemns leaving God's Church and following a MAN. So, in an effort to take members away from God's Church, actually THREE false claims are being spread. 1) They are spreading the LIE that Garner Ted Armstrong is only doing the same thing his father did — FALSELY claiming I left the "Sardis" church to pull away their members and so start a church of my own. The long article recently appearing, on "How the Worldwide Church of God Came into Being" [GN, Nov. 6], ought to NAIL THAT LIE! a) I did not leave them, for I have never been a member of them; b) I continued working alternately with their two main divisions — Stanberry, Mo., and Salem, W.Va. I was still working with them in 1945, 12 years after the present "Philadelphia" era came into being, 1933. Note that in this he concedes the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were consecutive eras, as well as seven continuous conditions in the one Church. 2) Again they admit the successive eras depicted in Revelation 2 and 3, claiming that my son is now starting the "Laodicean" era of the Church. But God does not start His Church or any era of it by one disfellowshipped for causing division, sowing the seeds of discord among brethren, and then attacking God's Church and trying to draw away its members after him, on pretext of being a CHURCH — when those few are only following A MAN. It is NOT a Church! It has no apostle, evangelist-pastor-elder organization. It is NOT proclaiming Christ's Gospel into all the world for a witness unto all nations! It is a MAN, with one or two working with him, merely seeking to take away members of God's true Church. 3) Then they speak out of the other side of their mouths, I am grieved to say. This time, they say Revelation 2 and 3 do NOT portray seven SUCCESSIVE stages or eras of the one true Church. Apparently they try to explain, or twist its true meaning, by saying seven is God's number of completeness — therefore there are now MANY churches, as Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, etc. — all of which COMBINED constitute the BODY OF CHRIST. Anyone who believes that had, perhaps, better get into one of them, or follow a man who has incorporated himself to be a church. But a legal corporation does not make it GOD'S CHURCH! It might be interesting, at this point, to explain the TOTAL DIFFERENCE between what Garner Ted is now doing and what his father did in 1930. He has incorporated under civil law, under a church name as a starter. This was done to try to draw away members from the true Church to follow him.
The Oregon Conference
But what his father did was totally different. In Oregon a number of members of the Church of God, Seventh-Day, headquartered at Stanberry, Mo., pulled out and incorporated themselves separately as the Oregon Conference of the Church of God. They became a SEPARATE CHURCH, operating with their own tithes, directing and paying salary to their own ministers. They were ORGANIZED. They did not understand God's form of organization — they had no apostle, but they did employ evangelists — as Robert L. Taylor, Roy Daily and myself — and later, Sven Oberg and A. J. Ray. Their form of organization was a board of trustees, with a president, vice president and secretary-treasurer. The board was in authority — not the ministers. Shortly after the Oregon Conference separately incorporated, a division occurred in the Stanberry church, and approximately half of their members followed Andrew N. Dugger into a new church based at Salem, W.Va., and named, simply, "Church of God." In August of 1933, I renounced the salary from the Oregon Conference, but did not leave their fellowship. In fact, later that August a new church was established at Jeans schoolhouse, 12 miles west of Eugene — all but one family my own new converts, and that family not attached to either Sardis group. BUT, more — most of the Oregon Conference members began coming to Eugene to fellowship with the new Radio Church of God (now the Worldwide Church of God), and I continued, as a voluntary service, to preach Sabbath afternoons at the schoolhouse near Jefferson where they met. I never sought to pull away any of their members. They were enamored with the new Salem-based church, and a little later — (not now sure of the date) probably 1934, while the Radio Church of God was on the air and The Plain Truth being published — they abandoned their Oregon Conference and went in with Salem.
Parent Church grows
At, and just west of Eugene, the parent church of the Worldwide Church of God was very much alive and growing. I was leading elder, and I had appointed and ordained an assistant pastor and a deacon. We counseled seriously on the matter and decided, in early or mid-1934, not to go in with the Salem people — and we had never gone in with Stanberry. However, a little later I agreed to cooperate and work with the Salem ministers. And under this arrangement I continued as pastor of the members who formerly were the Oregon, Conference, but now were joined with Salem. BUT NEITHER I NOR ANY OF THE EUGENE MEMBERS ever joined the Salem Church — or Stanberry. I received no salary or compensation of any kind from them. On my part it was a VOLUNTARY GIVING of time and effort and cooperation, with no remuneration of any kind. Later — it was either 1945 or 1947 — probably the latter — the former Oregon Conference members had a division. I had ordained two elders and two deacons in their local church near Jefferson, which I pastored. Half of them, including one elder, a Mr. Davidson, and Mr. Henion, refused to meet with them further, though I urged them to remain with the Salem people. Meanwhile, about half of all the brethren in the Willamette Valley had remained with Stanberry. They asked me urgently to unite then with the half of the Salem people who had refused to remain with the Dugger group. For a while I refused. But it left only a small membership still with the Dugger division, and I finally agreed to organize them and serve as their pastor — although the Stanberry brethren kept their membership and sent tithes to Stanberry, while the Henion family and others, including the Coles, counted their membership with the parent church of the Worldwide Church of God — and Mr. C. Wayne Cole is still with us in the very important capacity of director of ministerial services. I continued to pastor the Stanberry-based group in the Willamette Valley until probably in 1942, when I spent some months in Hollywood starting the DAILY radio broadcasting and speaking Sunday afternoons to a packed house at the Biltmore theater. I had GIVEN them my time and services freely, at my own and Eugene church expense. I sought none of their members and none came with us — though as brethren we still had love one for the other.
Incorporation becomes necessary
And I did not start out by incorporating myself pretending to be a church. We, in the growing Church of God — then Eugene-based — finally had grown to a size where incorporation became a necessity. IN NO WAY is Garner Ted doing as his father did, and any claim that he is, is a point-blank lie resorted to, to DECEIVE God's people and present the REPREHENSIBLE things Garner Ted is now doing in a good light. It is Satan who tries to make us believe that wrong is right. But now what about the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3? I have always said, and still affirm, that these seven messages to the seven churches are picturing in advance the seven CONDITIONS to be found in the ONE CONTINUING TRUE CHURCH — but with the Ephesian condition dominant during the first era or years of time, the Smyrna condition becoming dominant in the next period of time, and so on with the Laodicean condition outstanding in the same true Church at about the time of the great tribulation and climaxing with Christ's second coming. To expound that fully requires more space than I have here. It will be covered later. But the crux of the whole matter is simply THIS: Where, in all this effort at persuading God's people to follow Garner Ted Armstrong, a man DISFELLOWSHIPPED, who did, and is continuing now from without, to sow the seeds of discord among brethren — in all their arguments, WHERE IS GOD? WHERE IS JESUS CHRIST, living HEAD of the Church? One thing I can say definitely and with authority, God and our Head, JESUS CHRIST, have NOT left God's one and only TRUE CHURCH. These dissidents are LOOKING AT MEN! They are leaving GOD out of their thinking. For 44 YEARS the living JESUS CHRIST HAS BEEN HEADING, LEADING, GUIDING AND BLESSING GOD'S ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH! HE has not forsaken it. HE is not in ANY effort to pull members out from GOD'S Church, where CHRIST is working. HE is NOT following Garner Ted Armstrong, who resorted to a conspiracy to water down God's TRUTH — to SECULARIZE God's Church and college — to literally PUT GOD AND CHRIST OUT OF THE COLLEGE AND CHURCH! HE is not! Will You? Some were leaving Jesus when here in the human flesh (John 6:66), "... many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Would you have been one of them?