1929:  Attempt to Harmonize Disagreements

When the 1928 Passover date was annouced, It was advised that to prepare for the event, Church of God members meet every night for a week previous, so "that there may be a general season of refreshing, a time of forgiveness and settling of differences should there by any, and a refilling of the Holy Spirit."

The year 1929 saw a downturn in events for the Church of God.   

From 1922-1929, converts never matched the increase of 1000 in the year 1922.   A possible reason Is that Dugger had pushed through a tighter policy on doctrine:  members were not so free to express their own views when they differed from "official" church doctrine, which had previously been the case   (and which made it possible for the eastern pentecostals to enter Church of God ranks for a time). The turning point was possibly the year 1925, when Dugger's editorial stated that "our ranks will never again be disrupted by taking issue through our papers on debatable questions, and thus spreading contention and


Dugger apparently was not alone in his effort to have all speak and write the "same thing." Kiesz notes that "many of our people were becoming disgusted with our way of doing things. Many felt that without a harmonious message they could not hand out our papers to newly interested folks, because of the confusion and discouragements that were being created thereby."

As a result, the 1929 General Conference at Stanberry resolved that the ministers teach against eating the Biblical unclean meats, and the use of tobacco. Some Church of God men resented this, and the fact that the Advocate refused to print their articles on controversial subjects. Some resorted to printing their views in independent bulletins.

Among the issues in question were the time of the New Birth, the time for observing the Lord's Supper, Meats, Tobacco, the work of the Holy Spirit (pentecostalism), and the Third Angel's Message.  Some still held to the idea that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and therefore not divine.

The Advocate reported that the 1929 Conference was the scene of considerable confusion and dissension. On August 18, Marrs, Dugger, Unzicker, and other leading ministers signed a covenant "that in all matters of essential doctrines, we shall conform to the Bible standard of interpretation in our book known as The Bible Home Instructor; and on other points, we shall either conform to the standard, or be silent on the same until accepted by two-thirds of the conference." Other signers were Sam Oberg, Pete Bartschi, Frank Walker, and William Alexander. The next meeting was slated for 1931. And, significantly, the

Presidency changed hands, from Burt F. Marrs to A.N. Dugger.

Field Events  -  1929

Elder Ed Severson organized several Oklahoma churches in 1929. Elder C. F. Knott, an ex-Seventh Day Adventist minister, preached at Spokane, where he converted a young Pentecostal minister to the Sabbath. Oregon work was being conducted by elders A. J. Ray, Sam Oberg, and Roy Dailey. Elder Pete Bartchi was Arkansas State Evangelist. And three West Virginia churches, at Salem, Parkersburg and Moundsville, were organized (possibly with some former Seventh Day Adventists and Seventh Day Baptists).

A press was shipped to Central America to print Spanish and Portuguese literature.  A press Intended for Jerusalem was delayed from shipment and sold, and another was sought for the Palestine work.

1930:  A Quiet Year; Dodd Enters Church of God

Early in 1930, Dugger and A. A. Cramer of Washington, D.C. held an evangelistic effort near Canton, New York and organized a church there.

Elder W. W. McMicken moved from Alabama to West Virginia, and conducted a number of campaigns in the state. He was West Virginia state evangelist at the time. In August 1932, the first Church of God campmeeting in West Virginia was held in Salem.

And Elder C. O. Dodd of Salem, West Virginia, apparently came into the Church of God in 1930. He was said to have been divinely led into the Sabbath truth by a miracle. He began a preaching campaign in Salem in 1930.

1931: Dugger Goes to Palestine; Alexander Becomes President 

Andrew N. Dugger had long felt the importance of going to Jerusalem and working to convert the Jews to Christianity.  It was Church of God doctrine that the return of the Jews to Palestine must occur before the Second Coming, and events since the capture of Jerusalem by General Allenby in 1917 had been closely watched by Dugger.  There had been numerous articles in the Advocate about "Jerusalem and the Jew." After A.F. Dugger, Sr. died in 1910, Andrew had a vision in which he saw the light of heaven shining around him, and then moving in the direction of Jerusalem.  He thus kept in the back of his mind the importance of this "divine mission" to the Church of God, when he accepted the call to edit the Advocate in 1914.

As  noted  previously,  reportedly  the  first  Church of God in Jerusalem since 70  A.D. was organized in 1926 by Elder David Nield, and the booklet, "How Shall We Know Him?" was printed for distribution among the Jews.

Earlier indications of Church of God work in Jerusalem go back as early as 1921, when the Messenger reported that a Brother J. A. Behar had been called to Jerusalem to establish the work there. He was conducting regular Sabbath services there, in a rented hall. A Church of God that same year was expected to begin at Corinth, Greece.

Also, in 1925, H.A. Volkovitch reportedly established a Sabbath-keeping church in Jerusalem, made up entirely of Jews, who believed on Christ. He asked for Church of God literature in Hebrew, and reported, another young man was requesting baptism.

In the fall of 1931, the General Conference voted that the church send some one to Jerusalem, to look after the work and prepare the way for moving the world headquarters of the Church of God there. The man chosen was the chief exponent of the ideas, A. N. Dugger. He had served as editor of the Advocate since 1914.

To fill the gap, Elder John Kiesz of South Dakota was called to Stanberry In September to be "copy editor," and later in 1932, to serve under the full editor, William Alexander.

On October 3, Dugger gave his farewell address at the Stanberry church. On his way to Palestine, he stopped off at England for a while, doing some "gospel work" there. He held meetings in London with Brother Samuel Brown, and arranged for the shipment of a printing press to Jerusalem.

The August General Conference had chosen Elder William Alexander President, Elder Frank Walker Vice-President, and Charles E. Brush, Secretary-Treasurer.   Other members of the Executive Committee were Elders Enriis Hawkins, C. O. Dodd, John Kiesz, and A. N. Dugger.

Other Events in 1931

January, 1931 saw the establishment of the Young Peoples' Department, headed by Elder S.J. Kauer.  Other moves included the moving of Frank Williams from Michigan to Stanberry to work in the Advocate office. The son of Elder Timothy Amzy Williams of Missouri, Frank Williams, later became business manager of the Church of God publishing house.

Elder Archie B. Craig of Oklahoma, the youngest minister of the Church of God, started a campaign effort, in which he assisted Elder Ed Severson.

Sister Mary Welch of Ryan, Oklahoma was reportedly healed instantly through prayer of several years suffering of pellegra.

1932:  Dugger and the Jews

Dugger's departure to Jerusalem did not mean that he no longer influenced the Church of God back in America. In his "Notes by the Way" column in the Advocate, Dugger reported much of his work in the Holy Land.

In the summer of 1932, Dugger   with the help of a Jewish Christian, Elder Henry Cohen,  published some 150, 000 gospel tracts in Hebrew. In August, Dugger, with Jacob Futerman, David Golden, Jacob Kort and Henry Cohen went all over Judaea, Samaria.and Galilee, systematically distributing tracts and preaching in all Jewish cities and towns. Dugger reports that "a good number" of Jewish converts to the Church of God were baptized in 1932, and Hebrew workers were carrying on with the message.

In the fall, Dugger and his family left Palestine, once again stopping off in England for some evangelizing there.  Arriving in the United States in October, Dugger began holding meetings in St. Joseph, Missouri, and soon established a church there.

It was November 2, 1932 that Dugger returned to Stanberry. The Advocate reports that he was accompanied by Elder C. O. Dodd, possibly indicating that Dodd had been with Dugger on his trip.

Alexander Becomes Editor and a Key Figure

Already President of the General Conference

In September of 1932, William Alexander was chosen Editor of the Advocate, with Dugger associate editor, and John Kiesz remaining as office editor. Elder Alexander traveled extensively over the field, holding meetings in various places. Alexander was to be a key figure in the developing threat of doctrinal division in the Church of God.

The September 19 issue contained a notice:  "Hints to Contributors — The Bible Advocate will strictly adhere to the Word of God, and send forth only doctrines in harmony therewith as accepted by the Church of God in general."

As if to underline the developing controversy within the church, Dugger in the January 9, 1933 issue wrote an article entitled, "Our Foundation":

"The 'Church of God' stands on the BIBLE, THE WHOLE BIBLE, AND NOTHING BUT THE BIBLE. We have no creed outside of the Bible. The Bible is the Book through which God has revealed His will to man, and if doctrine will not stand the fire of the Bible we reject it.... We do not stand upon any one-man interpretation of the Word of God, or any one-man leadership, save Jesus Christ the Son of God.... Paul warned the Church of God nearly two thousand years ago that men would arise among us speaking perverse things 'to draw away disciples after them'. Read, and re-read, Acts 20:28-31.  For this reason the church humbly stands upon the Bible, and where the Bible speaks the Church of God speaks, and where the Bible is silent, the church is silent."  

The only difficulty with Dugger's statement was that factions within the Church of God that differed with "official church policy" refused to keep silent. What had not been resolved in 1905 was to explode into a major catastrophe for the Church of God in 1933.

Doctrinal Framework Before the Division

Sketches of Church of God doctrine have been given previously in this paper.   But before describing the momentous events of 1933, it is imperative to give a clearer picture of the doctrinal issues which precipitated the division.

The second session of the Church of God General Conference at Stanberry in 1885 outlined 24 articles of belief, a copy of which has not been obtained.   Current Church of God beliefs are outlined in the booklet, "What the Church of God Believes, and Why", containing 38 articles.

The early groups, Church of God, Church of Christ, and Church of the Firstborn, probably held widely divergent views. A. F. Dugger, Jr. wrote that "It is doubtful if any one of these had all of the truths now taught by the church…. each contributor [was] responsible for his or her views of the Scriptures."

This long continued to be the policy of the Church of God papers, until Dugger in the 1920's attempted to clamp down on this confusion.

Differences Between the Church of God and Seventh Day Adventiats

A. F. Dugger, Sr. wrote a tract at least as early as 1907, later reprinted, on the doctrinal differences between the Church of God and Seventh Day Adventists.   He listed ten general points of difference:

(1) The Basis of Faith and Belief.  Since the Hope of Israel stated its beliefs were solely on the Bible, the basis of faith and belief of the Church of God has been the Bible, and the Bible only, not the additional visions of Ellen G. White.

(2) The Purpose and Place of Church Organization.  Seventh Day Adventists say that they are the true church, the "remnant people of God." They say there may be people saved that were never in their organization, but all who hear their message and have the opportunity to join them, must do so to be saved. They hold that they are the only organization God is directly leading. They reverence their organization and leaders, and the powers exercised by Seventh Day Adventist leaders are simillar to those of the Catholic hierarchy.  There is a strict test of fellowship, and those not complying are excommunicated.

The Church of God of Stanberry follows Christ, and they believe Christ has not established any exclusive church organization; membership in an "organization" is not, and never has been, a requisite for salvation. No "organization" has divine authority. "Mutual fellowship and cooperation, with brotherly love have always characterized the true followers of Christ." The Church of God is an association of believers working together to spread the gospel, and does not claim to have all God's people. "All who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus are invited to fellowship with us."

(3) The Church Name. This difference is obvious, and the reasons have hitherto been explained for the Seventh Day Adventist—Church of God name difference.

(4) The Atonement and the Sanctuary. The 2300 days of Dan.8:14 are believed by Seventh Day Adventists to have been fulfilled on October 22, 1844, while the Church of God believes they were fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes.   John Reed, an early preacher for the Hope of Israel in Michigan in the 1850's, wrote an article on the Sanctuary Question ridiculing the Seventh Day Adventist idea that Christ didn't enter the holy of holies until 1844, because Paul said Christ was at God's right hand in the first century, A.D.

(5) The Judgment. Seventh Day Adventists believe there are three periods of judgment, investigative judgment, executive judgment, and an investigative and review judgment during the 1000 years when the saved are in heaven going over the books, deciding the amount of punishment of the wicked before they are destroyed.

The Church of God believes in one period of judgment for all who now have the opportunity to hear the gospel and either accept or reject it.

(6) The Millennium.  The Church of God believes that Christ will come all the way to earth, Zech. 14:4, Acts 1:11.  The earth was created to be the home of mankind, not to be destroyed, Isa. 45:18. The saints will rule during the 1000 years on the earth, Rev. 5:10, 20:6. Ellen G. White stops in the middle of the sentence in Isa. 24:6, supposedly showing that there will be no inhabitants left on earth.

(7) The Second Coming of Christ.   Both Seventh Day Adventists and the Church of God believe the end is near, and don't set dates. But Seventh Day Adventists speak of the Advent as especially near, at any time. Seventh Day Adventists hold that Christ comes in clouds, and goes back to heaven. The Church of God teaches that the saints meet Christ in the air, and come back with him on the Mount of Olives, Zech. 14:4, 9.  The Church of God is not sure just who will be on the earth besides saints, but that they are to preach the gospel until Christ comes.

(8) The Time of Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection. Seventh Day Adventists hold to the Friday-Sunday mainstream Christian belief, while the Church of God believes in a Wednesday-Sabbath time element.

(9)  Time of Observance of the Lord's Supper. Seventh Day Adventists believe that there is no certain time, but follow the custom of observing it four times a year, in connection with their regular Sabbath services. The Church of God keeps it at the same time, beginning of evening, and the same day of the year as Christ did.

(10) Differences in Prophetic Interpretation. The Seventh Day Adventist church was founded on prophecy. The Church of God is greatly interested in prophecy, but its fundamental doctrines do not depend on prophecy.  The Church of God believes that the prophecy of the return of the Jews to Palestine to be a sign of the Second Advent, while Seventh Day Adventists do not.