Dear Fellow Ministers:
While writing this PASTOR'S REPORT copy, we are returning to Pasadena from Cincinnati. Yesterday, on the Feast of Trumpets, 3400 were congregated in the beautiful Cincinnati Music Hall for the observance of this annual Sabbath. This excellent attendance represented the combined total of 14 churches in a three-state area. Present were the church congregations from Cincinnati (4), Columbus, Ohio (2), Dayton, Ohio (2), Indianapolis, Columbus, Anderson and Richmond, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky and Portsmouth, Ohio.
The entire service was very uplifting and inspiring — truly reflecting the festive spirit for this season of the year. To add to the day, we laid hands on and asked God to set apart five men as Local Church Elders and raised one man to the position of Pastor. Our sincere congratulations to Bob Dick who was surprised to be called forward for the "setting apart" as a "Pastor." Also we congratulate and welcome to the ministry Gordon Braucla (Anderson, Indiana church), Fred DeMent (Richmond, Indiana church), Larry Freeze (Cincinnati West church), John Gibbs (Indianapolis church) and Dave Molnar (Columbus church). There were quite a few additional ordinations elsewhere on this High Sabbath. Since all the names are not in yet they will be given later.
Since I am on the subject of ordinations I want to explain a few things here.
Last week I was able to counsel with Mr. Herbert Armstrong about a couple of aspects of this subject in addition to receiving his approval for the ordination requests.
As most of you know, for the past few years there has been some question concerning the practice of laying hands on a man more than one time as he moves from one designation to another within the ministry. This administrative practice was started in the very earliest years of this era of the Church by Mr. Armstrong. In our discussions a few days ago, Mr. Armstrong stated that from a scriptural basis it may not be necessary to follow this practice. The Bible is not specific on this point. Many things we do today, such as our form of service — our custom of preaching as we do including average length, sermonettes, hymns, prayers, etc. — are traditions established by judmental decisions. God does not give rigid instructions as He did to the priests and Levites of old.
Mr. Armstrong nevertheless felt that it is encouraging to a minister (as well as to the congregation) to lay hands on him at the time he is advanced to another designation in the ministry. It is not unscriptural; it has simply become a modern tradition and at least for now there is no good reason to change it.
Along this same line, in counsel with Mr. Armstrong, we decided (Mr. Armstrong making the final judgment) that we would at least for now continue with the two separate designations of Preaching Elder and Pastor. Again, this is a matter of administration and judgment. It is not contrary to the few guidelines God gives us, (especially I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4). We have followed this custom since the mid 1950s, at the time the number of ministers of this era of the Church began to grow at a rapid pace.
Today in actual practice we have some men designated as Local Elders who are actually Church Pastors. Generally this should be very limited as one ought to move to the position of Preaching Elder if he is adequately trained and experienced to become a full Pastor.
Mr. Armstrong has taught — and still believes — that when one is ordained as a Local Church Elder he is not set apart with the full credentials of the ministry. For example he is not necessarily required to preach. He does not generally have the duty to perform the functions of conducting wedding ceremonies and funerals. He may not wish to teach publicly in such services as Bible Studies. He must, however, be a man of God, dedicated to the Church as Christ's Body and to the service of his brethren. He is to be a man of faith, able to pray over and anoint the sick in believing faith.
As we know, in actual practice, many of our Local Elders are excellent speakers in both sermonettes and sermons. Many are very good leaders and motivators with very good stage presence. We have seen many men ordained from among the local membership as elders, then grow and develop in such a way that it is obvious God is setting them apart to the full-time ministry. At this time, unless there are unusual circumstances, such a man should be ordained as a Preaching Elder.
Since our custom — now a modern tradition in the Church — is in no way unscriptural, we will continue as I said earlier, to use the designations of Preaching Elder and Pastor. The general guidelines will be that one is ordained as a Pastor after long years of service, perhaps is more effective as a public speaker, and one who exhibits leadership and service orientation beyond the normal requirement.
In no way is it to be a greater "badge" of authority, but rather a meritorious consideration and recognition of development and service. From a pyramidal structure point of view, being set apart as a Pastor may not in fact mean more administrative responsibility. We may actually have Evangelists working under the supervision of a Pastor or a Pastor supervised by a Preaching Elder. This will probably be the exception rather than the rule, but it has occurred and will still occur occasionally.
Designations within the ministry are not worn as "badges" of self-importance or power. Rather the titles and positions are for the purpose of service to God's people and the accomplishment of His Work. A Preaching Elder or a Local Elder is no less a minister of Jesus Christ and no less important than anyone else in the ministry. His Responsibilities may vary, what he is assigned to perform may be different, less time consuming and demanding, but he is still Christ's servant nonetheless.
I hope we can all understand this. We should not have "rank conscious" self-importance. Let us be grateful for our privileges to serve in Christ's Work in any capacity. Envy and jealousy are attitudes of the flesh. We do not want to do away with structure. Certainly structure is Biblical. It gives certain incentive as well as designating administrative functions resulting in order and system.
We are presently reviewing those who should be raised to Pastor, and more ordinations will be forthcoming. It should not be misunderstood that the few men who are ordained as Pastors this Festival season are the only ones who are qualified. As time progresses further ordinations will occur.
One final point on this. Our salary structure is not essentially based on the designation of ministerial title. A Local Elder who happens to be pastoring a church full time is paid as a Pastor. There are, of course, different statures as a Pastor so as to allow for seniority and merit considerations. Pay scales are on the basis of function, though all things being equal a man ordained as a Pastor should normally receive moderately more according to the criteria that qualified him for the designation or title.
I hope all of you have a very uplifting, encouraging and meaningful Feast of Tabernacles. This Festival observance is very rich in tradition and significance to the Worldwide Church of God. It has great meaning in what it relates to us in the great purpose and plan God is working out here on earth.
So long as we prepare for this coming Feast, get "up" for it in our emotional, mental and spiritual outlook we can't help but have a very fine Feast. And, I believe, many others affected by your example will go home from the Festival just a little more rewarded as a result of your presence and attitude.
We may have our troubles. There will perhaps always be "reasons" to be discouraged. Ever since man was first put on the earth he has tended to look across the fence and see something else he thought he wanted more than what he had. But, alas, when he gets it, like Solomon said, that also is vanity — a puff of wind.
Fellow ministers, we have the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:46). And, we "found" it here in this Church. I don't care who the name of the person was who may have been your teacher. It doesn't matter how you were initially attracted to the Church; God is the One who really opened your eyes — blessed your eyes and ears to see and to hear (Matt. 13:16). God is the One who brought you to Christ (John 6:44, 65). The servant was a spokesman for the Body. Naturally, we love those who helped us along the way — those who fed and nurtured us. Naturally, we tend to feel especially close to and perhaps even have somewhat deeper love for those servants through whom God called us. But, when it comes to "following after men," that's something else. Where might that road end?
I have been thinking about my own tendency toward negative thought recently. Let me share just a few of these thoughts with you.
Negative attitudes are often the result of subjective thought. It is easy to talk oneself into futility, hopelessness and despair. Recently, especially I have noticed that I can be "up," feeling good, encouraged and positive one moment and suddenly just one word, one cord or nerve struck just the right (or perhaps the wrong) way sends me plummeting into a "valley." Maybe this is just me, but somehow I feel it's a rather common phenomenon.
Perhaps I've said some of this before, but I want to repeat it. In reading many of the Psalms I have been impressed with numerous references indicating that King David (a man after God's own heart and attitude) was a sensitive personality — a person who experienced a wide spectrum of very high "HIGHS" and very low "LOWS."
David knew what it was like to ride the crests, soar across the peaks and feel like nothing — absolutely nothing — could slow him down, get him down, or defeat him. Then there are a l so indications that he plunged to the depths of despair, and literally, as the 23rd Psalm says, walked in the valley of the shadow of death.
David experienced human emotions perhaps to extremes. He knew hate — the kind of deep hatred and utter contempt that he felt toward the Philistine army with its giant Goliath mocking his nation Israel and wagging the finger of defiance toward his God — the One and Only Great Creator God. In his controlled rage and bitter hate for the shame being perpetrated against God and His nation Israel, he did not shrink back in fear or consider the "impossible odds" against self-preservation. But rather, he went after and destroyed the giant.
The example of David fighting a lion in protection of his charge, to me is outstanding in its meaning of "love" and commitment. His duty was to protect his flock and that's exactly what he did.
The relationship of David to Jonathan (the son of an avowed enemy), stronger in the bond of friendship than that of blood brothers, is indicative of his capacity for deep love.
The example of his love and compassion toward Absalom even during the peak of the " coup" Absalom was leading against him is outstanding in revealing his emotion.
Fellow ministers, the reason I'm saying these things is because I know that many of you have gone through a wide array of human emotions and reactions over the events that have transpired since March-April of this year.
But, perhaps some are confusing these deep feelings and emotional reactions with their responsibilities as a minister of God's Church.
A man is an elder because he is spiritually to be just that. His spiritual maturity — his stability in not being easily tossed to and fro, his capacity to keep his own troubles, ups and downs, and needs for personal ventilation of frustrations from getting mixed up with his service to those in his care — should always be present to govern his conduct.
When this governor is no longer there or is not exercised, then a man has lost those qualities that set him apart as an elder and he is fast disqualifying himself to serve as a minister. In principle, this would be true in any church and, for that matter in many secular pursuits, and it certainly is true in the Church of God.
We have noticed that as a general rule a church congregation is as stable as its leader. Where we have a relatively large number of problems, people ready to walk out, etc., we often have leaders who are uncertain, frustrated, doubtful and tending to ventilate themselves before the people.
Fellows, this just can 't be! Before we allow ourselves to get into a frame of mind whereby tens, perhaps scores or even hundreds of God's people are hurt by our conduct or by our words, we should take definite steps to remove ourselves either temporarily or permanently from the arena of leadership.
Please let us all examine ourselves and use this time during the Feast of Tabernacles to sort out our own attitudes and frustrations if they are getting to us, and affecting our ministry.
I'm your friend, fellows. At all times I want to help. I believe my record of giving time, being long-suffering, not accepting every rumor and accusation is apparent and stands on its own. I've heard that some have said, "It's time to clean house." I may agree with that, but I may also disagree strongly concerning the method by which it might be done.
But I also want you to know that I will not defend deliberate or uncontrolled actions to upset and disorient God 's people. Neither will I protect and defend a minister who openly expresses to the people doctrines, speculations, and personal notions that are contrary to the teaching and doctrines of God's Church. There is a forum for inputting personal thought. We have made positive changes as a result of such input. None has just cause to believe that any true and proper reform is hopeless. We have done it. Mr. Armstrong is ready and willing to listen — though slow to change, as indeed he should be.
I was very impressed with a statement apparently made by the late Pope John Paul I. He said in effect that he was lenient on moral sins but tough on sins of the spirit and sins of doctrine. In other words, he understood the weaknesses of human flesh but wasn't quite as tolerant towards fruits of wrong attitudes and was quite intolerant of members and clergy who defied and/or ignored official doctrine.
Again, I exhort you to look on the beautiful and inspiring things we do have — not on the problems or those things you feel we don't have.
Have a great Feast!
Your Servant in Christ,
C. Wayne Cole