After 24 years of struggle, The GOOD NEWS at last blossoms forth as a real full-age official organ of God's Church. by Herbert W. Armstrong
The GOOD NEWS — February, 1939, the FIRST! — with the April 1951, and the July, 1953, editions. Read the fascinating story of how these historic issues came into being, in this article.
This is the February, 1963, issue of The GOOD NEWS being printed on our own presses here at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. Having our own staff and facilities right on campus makes this unique picture possible, as well as producing the most (Ambassador Press is the largest printing establishment in the Pasadena area) for the least expenditure.
FEW of you members of God's true Church realize what a hectic, obstacle-strewn path The GOOD NEWS has trod over a 24-year period of constant struggle.
Always TWELVE-year Beginnings
It started with the issue of February, 1939. There was only that one issue. And that was TWELVE years after the beginning of my training for Christ's ministry — twelve years after my conversion and baptism. It BEGAN anew after TWELVE YEARS — God's number of beginnings — with the issue of April, 1951. It has limped and hobbled along for twelve years, as an 8 to 16-page paper, but never with an adequate full-time editorial staff. Always its articles were written by men whose time was filled with other responsibilities. Editing The GOOD NEWS was always about fourth or fifth in priority on the time of its editors and writers, overburdened with other tasks. We simply had to write an article when we could find time, which was not often. Now — after another T W E L V E YEARS — The GOOD NEWS COMMENCES its career as a full-fledged magazine, with regular staff, and a Managing Editor who has been assigned this editorship as his first and number one responsibility. And David Jon Hill begins this managing editorship TWELVE years after the beginning of his training at Ambassador College!
GOOD things never come cheaply or easily. The GOOD NEWS is GOOD! It is packed with GOOD things. I want you to know what it has cost, in struggle, effort, determination and perseverance. So here is some interesting history. Prior to February, 1939, I had been issuing a short mimeographed bulletin for the church members in Oregon. It was called "The BULLETIN of The Churches of God in Oregon." It had started during the days when I was trying to work with Oregon brethren of the Sardis era. In February, 1939, the broadcast had been on the air five years. That month would have been the fifth anniversary of The PLAIN TRUTH, except that there had been about a two year period when 1 was unable to print it. By that time the ties with the Sardis church had been completely severed — except that I had organized and still pastored a small church of those people at Scravel Hill, near Jefferson, Oregon. But the only church of the Philadelphia era ac char time was the parent church at Eugene, Oregon. It was attended then by between 80 and 100. The time had come when we felt there should be a church organ, exclusively for members, in addition to The PLAIN TRUTH, which was edited primarily for interested radio listeners. So, in February, 1939 — TWELVE years after my conversion — the first issue of The GOOD NEWS was printed — on a mimeograph. Of course, at that time, The PLAIN TRUTH was still being mimeographed, also. The editorial in that firs^ issue of The GOOD NEWS had the following: "The GOOD NEWS makes its appearance, successor to The BULLETIN, with a definite mission and purpose. Its mission is to feed the Church of God with the spiritual manna — to minister to and edify the brethren — to help them to grow in grace and in knowledge. "The time has come for The Church of God to AWAKE! It is time we were on fire for God! The time has come to arouse The Church of God — to reawaken a real interest and a burning, fervent ZEAL for the closing Work of God entrusted to us to do! "The purpose of The GOOD NEWS is summed up in these Scriptures: "'Feed my sheep!' 'Preach the WORD!' 'GROW in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!' 'STUDY, to show thyself approved unto God... rightly dividing the Word of Truth.' 'Press toward the mark of the high calling...' 'By this shall all men know ye are my disciples: if ye have LOVE one for another.' 'Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the Church.'" But that one issue is all that came out — until TWELVE years later. Then we started all over again — with Volume I and Number 1, dated April, 1951. The lead article was captioned "Here's GOOD NEWS!" That article explained why The GOOD NEWS had not continued after that first issue, twelve years before. It said: "The burden for this new publication was heavy. Under severe handicaps it was started with enthusiasm. That first issue was printed entirely on our old second-hand mimeograph. "But the commission to 'feed my sheep' is second to that Great Commission, 'This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world.' One man alone could not carry on a campaign of evangelism then expanding from local to national, and conduct a personalized ministry to so many at the same time. And so no other issues of The GOOD NEWS were published — until now, though I did come as close to it as possible by sending out a number of issues of an abbreviated 'Good News LETTER.'"
The NEW IDEA
This re-born second BEGINNING of The GOOD NEWS was the fruit of a new idea. The article in that issue said: "An IDEA is born! The GOOD NEWS is re-born! "When God first started Ambassador College, many brethren and co-workers lacked faith. They couldn't see God's hand in it. Some felt your pastor's sole duty was to preach the Gospel to the world — not realizing that one man alone can't do it all. "They had forgotten that Jesus, Peter and Paul surrounded themselves with specially God-called men whom they trained to assist them in their great mission. "Our students have been gaining experience daring their college years! By their fruits we know they have been called of God for their important parts in this Great Commission of Christ. They are trained and ready. They are consecrated and Spirit-led. Already more than one hundred and fifty, brought to repentance and conversion through this Work, have been baptized by these competent disciples (the word disciple means 'student,' or 'learner') " THINK OF IT! Twelve years ago that one hundred fifty was a big harvest — compared to what had been accomplished by my own personal efforts, alone! But today, twelve years later, that one hundred fifty has multiplied into many thousands! The article continued: "God made no mistake when He started Ambassador College! " At that time, April, 1951, I was still the only ordained minister in this Church of God. At that time, we had just THREE local congregations. The parent church at Eugene, Oregon, was then reduced to some 30 in regular attendance, and, without a pastor to feed the flock, was falling into division and apostasy. The church in Portland, without an ordained minister, had shrunk to some 18 members, a union of two churches — Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. And there was then a small but fast-growing church meeting here in Pasadena in the college library — possibly some 60 or 70 attending. THAT WAS ALL! — JUST TWELVE YEARS AGO! But we had a few God-called students nearing readiness for ordination into the ministry of Jesus Christ. Herman L. Hoeh was then within two months of graduation. My elder son, Richard D. Armstrong. Roderick C. Meredith, Raymond C. Cole, and Raymond and Marion McNair were within one year of graduation, and Dr. C. Paul Meredith was completing his undergraduate work. And so the article in that first re-born number of The GOOD NEWS, April, 1951, continued: "And now, with this issue, A NEW IDEA is born. Through Ambassador College students The GOOD NEWS is re-born! With this issue, our students launch a new activity in Christ's ministry — and at the same time, a new college activity. Now, at long last, The GOOD NEWS is re-born, as one of the fruits of Ambassador College — one of the EVIDENCES that this college was NECESSARY! "Mrs. Armstrong and I have almost worn ourselves out in constant, zealous, energetic service. We have had more than we could do. God has prospered the work, and it has far outgrown the efforts and poor abilities of one man with only his wife as a helper. Many phases of this dynamic and constantly expanding work have of necessity been neglected. We bad to have help. "The very FACT of the resumption of this most necessary publication is proof of the imperative need of Ambassador College. For the NEW IDEA is simply that, by combining this new magazine as the organ of God's CHURCH for its members, and also as the college student paper, its regular publication is now made possible." It seems a little absurd, today, that because of the lack of vision and understanding, and the criticism of brethren — or those who then professed to be brethren in Christ — I was called on, continually, to apologize for the founding of Ambassador College — impelled continually to justify its existence. Many of the members, up in Eugene, Oregon, allowed themselves to criticise, and find fault with the way the living Christ was guiding His Church toward the fulfillment of its God-given mission. Those professing brethren became wrapped up in their own little local group. Their hearts were not in the WORK OF GOD in spreading His Gospel to the world. They became bitter. That parent church was split in two, and the disgruntled half left the Church! But today, as a result of the work of dedicated ministers trained at God's College, that same church has grown to a regular attendance of around 400.
Fruit of Ambassador College
That 24-year struggle, from the time of the first mimeographed issue of The GOOD NEWS, has been an uphill climb with opposition and persecution from without and from within. But GOD'S WORK has been guided and directed by the living Head of God's Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. It has been empowered by His Holy Spirit. Not only did the college make possible the resumption of The GOOD NEWS on that limited basis, twelve years ago, it made possible the growth of GOD'S CHURCH, and the entire scope of GOD'S WORK. The work could grow only so big, through the efforts of one man. But soon the college began to produce ordained ministers. On December 20, 1952, five ministers were ordained — Richard D. Armstrong, Raymond C. Cole, Herman L. Hoeh, Dr. C. Paul Meredith, and Roderick C. Meredith. That was the beginning. As soon as God's Church began to have ministers, trained in God's own college, the Church began to grow. Through those years when the Work of God was being started, in Oregon, I tried to work with the remnant of the Sardis church. But the fruitful days of the Sardis era had waned several generations before. We found their leaders resorting to politics, unwilling to correct false teachings or to accept and obey truth — such as Gods annual festivals and holydays. Originally, in the days of Walter Lollard, even the Sardis church had kept these feasts. In the words of Revelation 3:2, they refused to be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that were ready to die. They did allow those things (truths) to die. They did not repent. Their church is dead. Looking back over those days, now, it seems that God used me to bring to their attention these very things. But their leaders not only rejected them, they used these very truths as a weapon to oppose, fight, and persecute me. They indulged in deception and politics for selfish personal advantage.
Why Sardis Church Died
In searching old files for information for this article, I ran across an article by C. O. Dodd, co-founder of the Salem, West Virginia, movement of 1933, which split that church. This article was written in 1938, after Mr. Dodd had fallen out with Mr. Dugger's movement. It is captioned "My Apology." In part, Mr. Dodd wrote: "I wish to make this apology to the members and ministers of the Salem and Stanberry and German branches of the Church of God, for certain misrepresentations in the organization work of 1933.... I went along with the leaders and continued to be used in these deceptions.... Later, when I saw mistrust, envy and strife grow rampant in the ranks, I knew that God was not blessing a work founded on rank misrepresentation.... I, therefore, in the spring of 1917, resigned from the Salem organization, but have continued to work with God's people in the three branches even until now.... First, let me say that at the time of reorganization" (the split in 1933) "I thought that the plan was to get the church on a higher plane, to have the members live holier lives, to have an organization free from partyisms and politics, to study and grow in advancing light.... About a year afterwards, however, I concluded that we had been deceived, as I saw favoritism and respect of persons shown in the ruling clique, saw old time politics played as aforetime, members allowed to live as before, and ministers forbidden to teach new truths, and told that, 'We have a saving message. What we have is enough.' I thought God could overrule this, and so remained silent until this time; but now I wish to apologize and ask for pardon.'' I was one of the men to whom Mr. Dodd referred, forbidden to teach new truths. Of course I continued very vigorously to preach these new truths. That led to final and complete severance of cooperation between the Sardis and Philadelphia eras of God's Church. For years I had tried working with ministers of this Sardis church. But they only worked against the true Work of God. They plotted to kill the broadcast. They resorted to lies — which they well knew to be deliberate lies — to discredit me personally.
Imperative Need of College
Wherever I went, God granted a harvest. Repeatedly and almost constantly I conducted evangelistic campaigns — not only in Eugene and surrounding towns and communities, but in Salem, Portland, Vancouver, Washington; Goble, Oregon, and other places. Always without fail there were repentant converts baptized. Always a church or Sabbath school was raised up. But, with the opposition of Sardis ministers — and without any qualified cooperating ministers to pastor those flocks, they soon disintegrated. It was as if I was on a treadmill. There had been a church raised up at Vancouver, Washington. Then one at Portland. When I was unable to preach regularly at these churches, they diminished. I ordained Basil Wolverton a Local Elder. The two churches consolidated into one church meeting in Portland. It was then reduced to an attendance of around eighteen. Mr. Wolverton, though not a preacher, held that little flock together until Ambassador College was able to come to the rescue. We sent one of our four pioneer students, Mr. Raymond C. Cole, to help out at Portland the first of February, 1951 Mr. Cole was then winding up his third-year work at the college. The college had been able to operate only on half schedule its second year. Mr. Cole finished his third-year work, therefore, in January, 1951. He returned to Pasadena in late August that year, to enter his senior year in college, graduating in June, 1952. After graduation he went immediately to pastor the parent church at Eugene. He was ordained a Local Elder at the Feast of Tabernacles at Seigler Springs, California, that September, and a fully-ordained Preaching Elder along with four others, December 20, that year. Immediately after the Seigler Springs Festival, Mr. Roderick Meredith, who also graduated in June, 1952, went to pastor the Portland Church. Portland again had been without a minister for almost a year. Both Mr. Meredith and Mr. Cole were called to Pasadena for full ordination December 20th, 1952. But prior to attending the Feast and going on to Portland, Mr. Meredith organized the church at San Diego, starting with seven adults, in late August or early September, 1952. He probably had spent the summer on a baptizing tour. Mr. Meredith then organized the Tacoma church on New Year's day, 1953. It started with God's BEGINNING number, twelve — not counting children. After ministering to both Tacoma and Portland churches a few Sabbaths, Mr. Meredith was called back to Pasadena to help lighten my personal teaching load at Ambassador College. Mr. Cole thereupon began acting as Pastor to all three Pacific Northwest churches — preaching at Tacoma Friday nights, Portland Sabbath mornings, and Eugene Sabbath afternoons.
New Churches Raised Up
And so our few churches began to have God-called, educated, consecrated ministers. Meanwhile, The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast was being heard nation-wide, and even, from January, 1953, in Europe and Britain. Students were being sent every summer on nation-wide baptizing tours. Hundreds were being added to God's Church. But in those years most of these members were isolated. There was no organized church for them to attend — still no God-called qualified shepherds to feed the scattered but growing flock. About the only preaching most members heard, aside from the radio broadcasts, was at the Feast of Tabernacles. This re-born GOOD NEWS helped. But it was small, and partly a college paper for students. We began to find that 40% to 50% of our newly-baptized members fell by the wayside annually. Still the Church continued its 30% annual growth. New members were being brought in faster than the unstable dropped out. The need of more ministers became more and more painfully apparent. All we could do was to ask scattered isolated members to BE PATIENT until God gave us the ministers to raise up local churches. Gradually additional ministers became ready for ordination. Slowly but surely more and more local churches were organized. Even today, there still is need for between sixty and a hundred additional churches in the United States alone. But progress is being made — at constantly accelerating pace, with churches over the United States, Britain, Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, and soon in Europe. And what do we find, once a local church is raised up, with a qualified pastor feeding the flock? WE ARE LOSING NOT MORE THAN ABOUT 1% OF MEMBERS PER YEAR, EVEN INCLUDING DEATHS! Incidentally, it is remarkable how few deaths are occurring among the many THOUSANDS of members of God's true Church today!
GOOD NEWS Subs for PLAIN TRUTH
Not only had I been unable to edit and publish The GOOD NEWS during the twelve-year period from 1959 to 1951, but it had been an almost impossible task to continue issuing The PLAIN TRUTH. Many issues were missed during those years. There had been only four issues during 1950 — and each had been reduced to only 8 pages. From the first issue of The PLAIN TRUTH, in February, 1934, it had been a never-violated policy that no articles were printed except those written by me. The college had been started, not only for the purpose of attracting and training God-called ministers, but to train men to lighten my own personal load. But it didn't seem to work out that way. The responsibilities of administering a very small but growing college only added — and greatly — to my personal responsibilities. There was the daily broadcast — seven days a week. There was preaching every Sabbath. In those early years I was teaching all the Bible and Theology classes, and by the third year I had added the Principles of Living Class. There was the executive function of being President of the college, as well as Pastor of the churches. There were Co-worker letters to write, and the responsibility of raising funds and financing a fast-growing work. Much of the time, I was unable to get out a PLAIN TRUTH for the simple reason that there was no money to print or mail it. There was no issue of The PLAIN TRUTH during 1951. Another function served by The GOOD NEWS, largely edited by students, was to substitute temporarily for The PLAIN TRUTH. Unable to carry the whole burden and issue The PLAIN TRUTH, I simply discarded the entire mailing list of The PLAIN TRUTH, or let it lie dormant. We began sending The GOOD NEWS to co-workers who contributed regularly to the Work, in addition to members. This re-born GOOD NEWS appeared in April. There was no May issue. The second issue came out in June. We omitted July, August and September. There was an October issue of The PLAIN TRUTH, written entirely by me — 16 pages of it. In November and December The GOOD NEWS appeared again. In 1952 we managed to get out a 16-page publication every month. The months of June and August we published The PLAIN TRUTH, and in each of the other months that year there was a GOOD NEWS. But for the first time, the August PLAIN TRUTH carried articles written by two students, now graduated and attending the Graduate School of Theology — Herman L. Hoeh, and Richard D. Armstrong. The first five months of 1953 saw a GOOD NEWS published each month. Beginning June of that year, we resumed regular publication of The PLAIN TRUTH, with an issue every month except December. But now Mr. Hoeh, Dick Armstrong and Mr. Meredith became regular contributors. Beginning with the November issue, Mr. Hoeh became Executive Editor, and Mr. Meredith, Associate Editor. From there, The PLAIN TRUTH has grown to its present enlarged editorial staff, and full 52 pages.
A Second NEW Good News
Beginning with the July, 1953, number, The GOOD NEWS became again a NEW Good News, with a new editorial policy. Now that regular publication of The PLAIN TRUTH had been resumed, The GOOD NEWS no longer was sent to co-workers. It became exclusively a CHURCH organ for members only. It has continued regular publication until now. But, with The PLAIN TRUTH being published every month, constantly increasing in size, and with multiple duties and responsibilities constantly increasing on each of its editors as the whole work expanded, the editing of The GOOD NEWS had to remain a sort of side-issue. All of us who have written for it have had other pressing duties that have more than filled our time. But now, at last, we are able to assign an editorial staff to this very important church magazine, with The GOOD NEWS having first priority on their time. This present issue is only a first beginning. YOU MAY EXPECT TO SEE YOUR GOOD NEWS EXPAND IN SIZE AND IMPROVE IN QUALITY FROM NOW ON!