Andrew N. Dugger and the Church of God Surge in the 1920's 

The Passing of  A. F. Dugger 

Elder A. F. Dugger became sole editor of the Bible Advocate in 1905 at the ousting of W. C. Long. Dugger's health was failing, and to assist him in the publishing work at Stanberry, he requested sixty-six year old Jacob Brinkerhoff, who became office editor in March of 1907. Exactly what had happened to Brinkerhoff since he had resigned the editorship in 1887 at Marion, is difficult to determine, for he is rarely mentioned in reports of the church leadership or ministerial activity. Presumably he remained at Marion.

On Sabbath evening, December 20, 1907, the Advocate building and offices were destroyed by a fire, and the press damaged. Most of the printing type and cases were carried out into the street, but the upper story, where the tracts were, was entirely burned. Insurance did not cover the entire loss, and a drive was started for financial contributions for another building and office. The "new" building was purchased for $1000 on West First Street, the present location of the Stanberry church and Church of God college, and until recently, the home of the press. An old flatbed press, run by a gas engine, was obtained. In 1915 a cylinder press was added, and in 1916, the first unotype-was purchased.

The paper had long been printed in newspaper size, of eight pages. But in December of 1910 it was changed to a smaller, 9 x 12 inch, size, but expanded to sixteen pages.

Durtng the time when Brinkerhoff and A. F. Dugger were editors, numerous articles on prophecy appeared in the Advocate. One belief held by A. F. Dugger, was that the Gentile Times would end in 1914.

In 1909, A. F. Dugger's health would no longer permit him to continue as editor, so Brinkerhoff became sole editor. Dugger died in December of 1910.

Church of God Before 1914

The Church of God message went into several new areas from the turn of the century to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

By 1903, Elder M.S. Carlisle of Carter Creek, Tennessee, announced the holding of a yearly meeting in that state, August 7, showing that there had already developed a work in the area.  Carlisle worked with Elder J. F. Williams of Boaz, Alabama, and the two preached together throughout the Southeast. Another annual Church of God area meeting was held July 26, 1907 at Phil Campbell, Alabama, site of a local church.

Elders Hiram Ward and J. L. Herriman held meetings near their home in Rollins, Montana in 1906, and a church was organized there.

S. W. Mentzer, who had accepted the Sabbath in Iowa in the 1860's, and was ordained in 1876, became a Church of God leader, frequently being elected President of the General Conference.

Credentialed Ministers, 1907  - 1908

Ministers given credentials by the 24th General Conference in December of 1907 included the following:

Blackmon, E.G. Brinkerhoff, Jacob Carlisle, M.S. Caviness, R. E. Davison, S.S. Dugger, A. F. Ellis, M.B. Harris, Hiram Johnson, J.T. Kennedy, F.P. Knight, E. Loop, S. P. Mentzer, S.W. Moore, Jasper Moore, S.A. Munger, Seth Nichols, J.H. Nugent, J. A. Osborn, J.W. Pope, S. Presler, L.L. Prime, J. T. Richards, G.W. Rodgers, G. T. Rogers, I.N. Shingleton, Jas. Sloan, A.B. Slown, W.H. Vandever, J.H. Ward, Hiram Wells, N.A. Whisler, B. F. Whitehall, H.T. Williams, Charlie Williams, J. F. Williamson, J.T. Wing.

In 1908, the following men were added:  J.E. Wells, E.B. Cox, C. C. Wells, C.A. Blood, J.G. Gilstrap, A.J. Hayes, S.E. Northup, and J.L. Herriman, while the following men were deleted:   E. Knight, S. P. Loop, Seth Munger, S. Pope, A.B. Sloan, W.H. Slown, N.A. Wells, and L.A. Wing.

J. R. Goodenough was suspended until he explained his attitude to the General Conference.

What a Church of God Campmeeting Was Like

The yearly campmeeting must have been a crowning event in the life of the zealous Church of God member in this period. Since many members were isolated, it was a chance to fellowship with others of like faith.

One such campmeeting at Stanberry, described in a 1908 issue, shows that members from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska attended, over 110 in all.  There were 22 family tents, plus a larger tent for services.

Sermons were given each evening, and during the days when the Iowa or Missouri conferences were not meeting. Speakers that year were Elders Whitehall, Munger, Presler, S.S. Davison, Mentzer, Whisler and Brinkerhoff.   Subjects included Mt. 25:34, judgment, parables, love of God, duty of searching scriptures, Christian's hope, the return of Christ, Rev.14:6 and Nebuchadnezzar's image, these are the last days, and baptism. There was much singing, and seven were baptized, children of Church of God members.

Church of God Leaders, 1907 — 1910

The 1907 Church of God General Conference consisted of S. W. Mentzer of Robins, Iowa, H. T. Whitehall of Scranton, Iowa, L.L. Presler of Farnam, Nebraska, S.S. Davison of Roscoe, Oklahoma, D. P. Moore of Hatfield, Missouri and Chancy Anible of White Cloud, Michigan.

Some of the evangelistic meetings conducted in 1908 were those by Elders J. F. Willlams and H. T. Whitehall at Kanawha Station, West Virginia, home of L.E. Robinson. Also, L.L. Presler, who was "General Evangelist" at the time, held extensive meetings in Oklahoma and Kansas in February and March of 1908.   Whitehall held tent meetings at Piano, Iowa in August, and E.G. Blackmon kept up regular monthly meetings at Goodman, Missouri, and also went to Keystone and Manford, Oklahoma.

Officers chosen in 1908 were, again, S.W. Mentzer, President; L.L. Presler, Vice-President; G.T. Rodgers, Secretary; Jacob Brinkerhoff, Treasurer; and the Executive Committee of C.A. Shanklin, Springville, Iowa; A. F. Dugger, Jr., Selden, Nebraska;  D. P. Moore, Hatfield, Missouri;   and Frank Baum, Fairview, Oklahoma.

In 1909, reports of missionary labor done in the field were given by S.W. Mentzer and H.T. Whitehall in Iowa, L.L. Presler in Nebraska, S.S. Davison in Oklahoma, and E.G. Blackmon in Missouri.

In 1910 appear reports of elders M.W. Unzicker in Oklahoma; J.H. Nichols, California and Missouri; J.F. Williams, Alabama; M.S. Carlisle, West Virginia;  W.T. Whitehall, Iowa; E.G. Blackmon and J. T. Williamson, Missouri; A. B. Sloan, Arkansas; G.W. Patison, California;  L.L. Presler, Nebraska;  andM.F. Ellis, South Dakota.

Leaders of the church in 1910 were S.W. Mentzer of Robins, Iowa, A. F. Dugger, Jr. of Selden, Nebraska, S. A. Moore of Hatfield, Missouri, C.A. Shanklin of Springville, Iowa, A.D. Youngs of Fairview, Oklahoma, and G.T. Rodgers of Ault, Colorado. Later that year, A. J. Hayes of Piano, Iowa, replaced Shanklin on the conference committee.

The Work, 1911 - 1913

In January of 1911, the newly built Wilbur, West Virginia Church of God building was deeded to the Church of God General Conference.

Also that year, two "gospel tents" were bought, one for Missouri and the other for use in the South. After a tent meeting near Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, a "Southern Conference" was formed, October 15, 1911, with Elder J.F. Williams President, J.H. Hinds Vice-President, and Elder N.B. Ellis, Secretary and Treasurer.  


By 1912, there were 43 credentialed ministers listed by the General Conference.  One of them, Andrew N. Dugger, held meetings around Stanberry in November which resulted in a "good interest to hear the truth presented."

At the 30th Annual Conference, held at Stanberry, October 19, 1913, Elder S. W. Mentzer was again re-elected President. Other officers were L.L. Presler, Vice-President;  G. T. Rodgers, Secretary; Jacob Brinkerhoff, Treasurer; and G. W. Richards, H.T. Whitehall, A.D. Youngs, and A.N. Dugger, Executive Committee.

Brinkerhoff's salary as editor was $10.00 per week.

In the late fall of 1913, Elder L.L. Presler rose up several Church of God members at Farmer and Waterville, Washington. Apparently these were mostly Church of God members that had moved there.

The General Conference Committee of 1913 had many familiar names:

S.W. Mentzer of Robins, Iowa; A.N. Dugger of Selden, Nebraska; G.W. Richards of Gentry, Missouri;  H. T. Whitehall of Scranton, Iowa; A.D. Youngs of Fairvlew, Oklahoma; and G.T. Rodgers the Secretary, of Stanberry.

The Turning Point:  1914

As the year 1914 approached, many in the Church of God were predicting striking events to happen that year, based upon prophecies in the book of Daniel.   World War I broke out in 1914 and in 1917 General Allenby captured Jerusalem from the Turks, which seemed definitely to fulfill prophecies concerning the Times of the Gentiles.  And 1917 marked the beginning of the return of the Jews to Palestine, which according to Church of God teaching, must occur before the Second Coming.

Death of Brinkerhoff, The Greatest Church of God Leader

Editor Jacob Brinkerhoff, now in his seventies, was facing a lingering fatal illness. The May 12, 1914 issue of the Advocate contained his last editorial.   Having abdicated the editorship to a younger man, Jacob Brinkerhoff, termed by S.J. Kauer as "perhaps the greatest outstanding leader in the church," died at Stanberry on July 12, 1916, at the age of 75. Jacob Brinkerhoff had served the Church of God for over 40 years. He held the editor's job of the Church of God paper for more time than has any other, twenty-one years editor and two years office editor. In 1874, Brinkerhoff had used the money he had planned to buy a home, to buy the press equipment for the Advent and Sabbath Advocate in order to save the material from being sold for the debt against the paper. Single-handedly, it seems, he had prevented the total collapse of the work.

Departure of the Pioneers

One of the older pioneer members was Elisha S. Sheffield  (1824-1907), born in Bedfordshire, England, who came to America  in 1841 and embraced the Advent faith in 1852. He has been said to have written a Church of God history.

Another was E.G. Blackmon   (?-1913), who in the words of historian S.J. Kauer "was a most active evangelist and minister." He was also the musician and hymn writer of the church. He compiled the old 'Black Back' hymn books, 'Songs of Truth' and a great many of his hymns, to which he wrote both words and music,  appear in them.

Isaac N. Kramer (1832-1923) was born in New Geneva, Pennsylvania, and moved with his parents to Lynn Grove, Iowa, near Marion, in 1839. He lived in Robins for ten years, and fifty years in Marion. Kramer "became a member of the Church of God" around 1863, and was a minister for fifty years. He was noted as a profound scholar, and remained mentally sharp up until his death in 1923. He left an unfinished work on the history of the Church of God.

A.C. Long in 1900, Gilbert Cranmer in 1903, Elisha S. Sheffield in 1907, A.F. Dugger in 1910, J.R. Goodenough and E.G. Blackmon in 1913, Joseph H. Nichols and Jacob Brinkerhoff in 1916: it seemed that the old ministers of the Church of God were all dying out, as a new breed of men entered the leadership of the work. The year 1914, it has been stated, "marks a decided awakening in the Church," as new leadership and new efforts to expand were begun. The leader of the Church of God, and the editor of the Bible Advocate, from June of 1914 until 1932 was Andrew N. Dugger.

History of A.N. Dugger

Andrew N. Dugger, son of A. F. Dugger, Sr., was born and reared at Bassett, Nebraska. In his early years, he was a school teacher twenty miles south of Bassett. In the summer and his spare time, he and his brother Alexander F. Dugger, Jr., each homesteaded 640 acres, raising cattle and hay. Andrew saved up enough money to buy another 640 acres, which had a natural artesian well.   One of his pupils, Effie Carpenter, later became his wife.

Dugger was taught by his parents to tithe, and apparently readily accepted the Church of God teachings. Andrew was granted his ministerial license, and received into the ministry, in 1906 at the Church of God campmeeting at Gentry, Missouri. After his father died in 1910, Dugger saw in a vision the light of heaven shining around him, and then moving in the direction of Jerusalem. In 1914, Dugger disposed of all his worldly possessions, his cattle, horses and land,

and answered the call to the executive board and editorship of the Bible Advocate. In the move, he cleared some $5,000.00, which he used part of later to finance his 1932 trip to Jerusalem.

Dugger's Prophetic Teachings

One of the main influences upon A.N. Dugger was his father's teachings, that there would be a world war in 1912 to 1914. This was based upon his understanding of Bible prophecies concerning a 2520 year period. A. F. Dugger may have received these views from a work on prophecy published by a Dr. Guinness of Australia in the 1860's. He put his ideas in the Advocate in the 1890's.  Based upon the "seven times punishment" prophecy of Leviticus 26 and the "overturn, overturn, overturn" of Ezekiel 21:25-27, Dugger concluded that "As it required three successive strokes in the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by the overturning three times by Nebuchadnezzar, so it is to require three

strokes for the destruction of all Gentile nations," that is, three world wars.   Judah was restored in three successive returns, just as it was destroyed in three strokes.


Beginning of great rebuilding at Jerusalem

The year 1917, the capture of Jerusalem by General Allenby, is seen by Dugger to be a fulfilled prophecy based upon his interpretation of the 1290 and 1335 year prophecies.   Another "crisis date" he points to is 1975.


Prophecy inter-relation continued to be a major feature of Dugger's teaching,and Church of God in general. Directly contrary to William Miller's teaching that the Jews did not have to return to Palestine in order for Christ to return, the Church of God has long taught that a Jewish nation must be setup, and that the Battle of Armageddon, just before Christ's return, would be between Israel and the Gentile hordes, mainly Russia.


When A.N. Dugger took over the editorship of the Advocate in 1914, World War I was beginning, and soon the way was opened for the Jews to return to Palestine: these prophecies which the Church of God had taught were being fulfilled. This seems to have been an impetus for the year 1914 marking "a decided awakening in the Church." It marked the beginning of an explosion of "missionary work" performed by the Church of God in the years after the Great War and into the Roaring Twenties.

Dugger's Style

Apparently Dugger did not marry until later in life. His schedule in his early years as leader of the Church of God was extremely hectic, with much traveling.   He has stated that he spent most of his time in lengthly revival and evangelistic meetings in new fields, and in answering calls for meetings from isolated brethren. The meetings were held at night, and during the day he prepared copy for the weekly Bible Advocate on a portable typewriter, and answered correspondence mailed to him from the office at Stanberry. Four to six weeks were spent at each site.

After each campaign, Dugger spent a short time at the office. His "backup men" at Stanberry were Elder R.C. Robinson, who ran the printing press, and Chester Walker, the book binder.

Dugger spent over a year compiling his "Bible Home Instructor," which is sort of a doctrinal compilation of Church of God doctrines. It draws together all scriptural references to each subject, listed alphabetically. It originally had some 400 pages, covered 195 Bible stubjects,  and contained 161 photos. The cost of printing these books, which must have been substantial, was mostly covered by the sale of the books by colporteurs, house to house religious salesmen.  A good colporteur could more than cover his traveling expenses by commissions from the sale of the books. Associated with Dugger in preparing the lessons were Elders J. A. Nugent and Herbert Miles (one of Dugger's first converts, soon after l9l4).

In 1924 Elder O.K. Osman, an ex-Seventh Day Adventist, was placed over the colporteur work, which began to greatly expand. However, the Executive Committee, under the influence of "opposition brethren" (to Dugger, that is) said that there was too much profit being made on the books, and voted the price cut in half. Previously, the "Home Instructors" had sold for $3.00 cloth and $4.00 leather, with one half the money going to the colporteurs. Dugger strongly opposed this, maintaining that the colporteurs needed to be compensated for their travelling and lodging expenses. He lamented that this was a "fatal mistake" and that organized colporteur work never recovered from the blow.   When the colporteur work was thriving, Dugger recalls, the church was growing and building.

Zealous young men in the church began as colporteurs, and many were then trained by Elder Herbert Miles in a sort of ministerial apprenticeship program.   Among the "graduates" were L.I. Rodgers and R. A. Barnes. Women termed "Bible Workers," also became involved in tract distribution, such as Maud Rodgers and Emma Brown.

Two large 50 x 80 feet tents were purchased and used for extensive campmeetings and evangelistic meetings by trained evangelists such as Miles and Rodgers, with their Bible Worker assistants. Ed Severson, M.W. Unzicker and R. A. Barnes became leading evangelists.

Dugger'a Debates

The younger ministers often challenged and were challenged for public debates on the Sabbath question. Often they called for the well-versed Dugger to take over in their place. Stidham and Canadian, Oklahoma were scenes of two 1921 debates recalled by Dugger. His debate at Canadian shows the pattern that often developed:

Dugger's opponent at Canadian was Elder Searcy of Oklahoma City, one of the leading theological and political debaters of the south. They signed an agreement for ten nights of discussion in Canadian and Dale, Oklahoma. Each night there were two thirty-minute speeches by each debator. The one on the rostrum could ask questions of his opponent that had to be answered by a yes or no. Dugger deliberately played weak on certain scriptures, leading his opponent to grasp at them, resting the entire Sabbath question, and a $1000 bet, on whether the word "rest" in Hebrews 4:9 was translated from the Greek word Sabbatismos meaning Sabbath instead of Katapausis meaning rest.

"Having held so many public investigations with different clergymen," Dugger had previously written ahead to a local university professor of Greek, and already had a letter from him stating that the word was Sabbatismos, meaning "a keeping of a Sabbath," and thus won the debate.

The whole town was said to have been convinced of the Sabbath, but Searcy refused to pay the $1000, even though he was well able to do so. The debates at Canadian and Dale resulted in the conversion of T. J. Marrs and his sons Burt and Mitchell, all of whom later became Church of God ministers. Forthwith, a Sabbath meeting was set up at Dale by Dugger, led by T. J. Marrs.

Chronology of Growth    Financial Increases

In 1912, the Church of God General Conference received only $356.06 in tithes and offerings for ministerial funds  (missionary work). The next year, 1913, this fell to a mere $226.33. But from the time Dugger took over as editor, the income and pace of the work increased:

Year  - Income Dollars

1917 -- 854.49

1918 -- 3,872.42

1919 -- 7,544.56

1920 -- 11,492.63

1921 -- 12,620.94

1922 -- 13,932.34

1923 -- 18,061.02

  1924-25 Figures were down, because of organization of the Arkansas, Iowa, California, Wisconsin State Conferences, with tithes and offerings sent to them.

1926 -- 14,864.53

1927 -- 11,064.04  (Oregon and South Dakota retained their funds)

1928 -- 15,127.86

1929 -- 12,002.88

1925 Messenger gives slightly different income figures

Year - Income - dollars

1913 -- 226.72

1915 -- 803.05

1919 -- 7,964.77

1920 -- 10,903.57  Michigan and Oklahoma re-organized their conferences and retained their funds.

1921 -- 10,499.32 

1922 -- 12,993.95 

1923 -- 16,037.30   Arkansas organized and retained its funds.

1924 -- 14, 392.30   California, Iowa, Missouri organized and withheld funds.

1925 -- 13,424. 78   Texas and Wisconsin organized and withheld funds.

From examining the above lists, it shows that there was some opposition from state conferences to the sending of tithes and offerings to Stanberry. But the financial problem was even deeper than this.

Dugger Reorganizes Tithe System and Ministerial Salaries

In 1922, Dugger strongly opposed the practice of some ministers writing scattered brethren, asking them to send tithes to the ministers directly. Dugger believed that a minister should not need to do this, and could be supported by families tithes.

During the years when the General Conference was receiving around $200.00 per year in tithes, equally small sums were being paid to state treasurers.   Dugger, knowing the membership and that so many believed in tithe paying, knew that the money must be going to individual pastors.  So he wrote a letter to each church member, and asked them to fill out a sheet and return, stating how much tithe they paid out the last year, and to whom they paid it. The results were that more than half the sheets returned showed that tithes were paid to a "certain minister" who preached little, was not working in new fields, and had a prosperous farm anyway. Whereupon Dugger re-wrote a general member letter, explaining that the money should go to the General and State Conference Treasurers.

The results were that many people stopped paying tithes to ministers that had been supported for twenty years. Because their source of income was cut off, these men were offended and began fighting church organization. Dugger reports that the worst opposers to organization came from this group of disaffected independent ministers.

As indicated previously, the new system was for tithes and offerings to be sent to a state treasurer, who in turn sent a tithe (tenth) of the state monies to the General Conference Treasurer. The tithes sent to Stanberry were not spent in the State of Missouri, since the Missouri conference took care of its own churches and ministers. General Conference funds were used in opening up new fields, and to support ministers in states not yet organized, and also in foreign lands.

All Church of God ministers  (credentialed)  were considered evangelists, and there was no salary paid to any pastor.  Their actual needs were met by tithes and offerings, and these funds were apportioned by a committee of seven men, patterned after the "deacons'' of Acts 6, who kept strict financial records. A minister began preaching largely at his own expense.

If proven by a period of testing, and if accepted, he was licensed and later credentialed. If he did not make the grade, he was not funded to continue.   Ministers with families received more than those with no families.

Donor List Published

Names and amounts of persons sending in money were printed regularly in the Field Messenger  (which began in 1921), which also contained frequent calls for the necessity of paying tithes. A smaller list appeared in the Bible Advocate.   A.N. Dugger stated that the reason for printing the names and amounts given was that the list made it "absolutely impossible for one cent to be misappropriated," because everything was done openly, and the board of finances had to be honest.

An example of the cash outflow is the report for the month of July, 1923. The General Conference received $1419, and paid out $1365 for home evangelistic work, and $495 for foreign fields, totalling $1860.

The Period of Evangelism

From 1914 to the late 1920's, the Church of God entered a period of intense evangelism and growth.  Evangelists' reports seem to indicate a flurry of activity that intensified with each succeeding year.

In 1915, there is mention of a Church of God conference meeting at San Antonio, Texas, December 22. Elders J. W. Pruitt and H. G. ( or H. C.) Kilgore were leaders of the Texas effort.

Ministers reporting work done in 1916 included G. E. Fifield of Lynn, Massachusetts; Herbert Miles of Maysville, Missouri; C. W. Blair and A. D. Porter in Oregon;  M. C. Penneil and J. C. Branch in Michigan; M. W. Unzicker in Oklahoma;  A. H. Stith and F.C. Robinson in southern Missouri;  G. W. Sarber of Indiana; H. A. Jenkins in Nebraska; and L. L. Presler of Nebraska, who worked in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Washington. 

Debates in 1916 added church members.

The 1916 Census reports that the General Conference employed five evangelists in the states of Michigan, Nebraska, Texas, and two other states. There was even a missionary in China, and one in India, where in 1916 a 50-member church was organized.

Evangelism in the War years

When the United States entered the war in April, 1917, Dugger, with a Missouri congressman, had a personal interview with President Woodrow Wilson, obtaining Church of God exemption from combat service. The capture of Jerusalem in December of 1917 by General Allenby was fully covered in the Advocate.

Also that year, a typesetting and a folding machine was purchased, and a new edition of the songbook was printed. This was the first year that printed illustrations of subjects were used in gospel meetings (presumably this means the pictorial, charts on Bible prophecy). A special drive to increase the Advocate subscription list resulted in a thousand new names added to the list. The "Question Corner" section was started in the Advocate, and Dugger published the tract, "What the Church of God Believes and Why."  At the 1917 conference, it was resolved that everyone try to convert someone in the coming year.

For the first time, in 1918 "Bible Workers" were used in connection with evangelistic efforts. In a Stanberry revival, aided by the Bible Workers Sister Brown and Sarah Corbet Phillipps, sixteen new members were added in a six week effort.

Also that year, Elders H. T. Whitehall of Scranton, Iowa, and Jasper Moore of Hatfield, Missouri died.

After the close of World War I, in the winter of 1918, A.N..Dugger went to Michigan to stem the drift there toward the Seventh Day Baptists. He also went to Oregon, and began meetings in Cecil, Oregon, where J. W. Osborn had lived for many years. Osborn was a contributor to the Advocate and presumably a Church of God member.  After a week, the Oregon meetings were closed due to the flu epidemic, which resulted in a ban on all public gatherings.

After Cecil, Dugger went to Portland where he visited a Smith family, and then went south for more Oregon stops. Apparently he visited many of the Advocate subscribers in the area.

Dagger's West Coast trip probably continued into the first part of 1919.

The Year of 1919

Besides Dugger's efforts, there were other Church of God ministers active at this time. Elders F. C. Robinson and James Bartlett reportedly garnered forty converts in eastern Oklahoma in the month of June. Elder H.C. Kilgore added nine converts in Texas at the same time. Elder L. L. Presler was another major evangelist, as was Elder Herbert Miles, who baptised thirteen at Albany, Missouri, close to Stanberry. Contact was established with the Lodi, California German independent Church of God through W. A. H. Gilstrap. The leader of the Lodi church at that time was Henry Baumbach. Ed Severson's name appeared for the first time in the Advocate, as he was married to Florence Williams of Alabama at the August campmeeting at Albany, Missouri, Elder Miles officiating.

This year also saw the purchase of the first large assembly tent to be used in cities in the evangelist-Bible worker efforts. Miles held meetings at Corydon, Iowa, as well as other locations. The Sabbath School Quarterlies were also begun this year, which came to be used for Sabbath Bible studies in areas where there was no Church of God minister.

Plans for A Church of God College

In 1917, mention had been made in the Advocate of plans for starting a college at the Stanberry headquarters. With the advent of the war, the plans were laid aside, but now they were regenerated.

Dugger pressed the college proposal because of the need to have a trained, educated ministry. The school was to be on the standards of the rest of American colleges. A preparatory school of grades 9 through 12 was to be established also.   Above grade 12, such courses as music, art, business, teaching, and science would be taught. There would be a School of Divinity within the college as well.   According to Dugger, the school would aid Church of God small town brethren who, if they educated their children at all on the higher level, would have to send them away to city schools, where they were liable to fall under "worldly" influences. The college Dugger had in mind would not just be for Church of God brethren, but would be morally and ethically appealing to those outside the church.

Some Church of God brethren were opposed to the establishment of a college, because they thought that Holy Spirit would guide and inspire the ministers, and that colleges and schools were of the devil. Since Christ was coming soon, there was no need for a college. Dugger replied by quoting Matthew 24:46, "occupy till I come."


By early 1920, three persons had pledged $1000 each, and the total college fund promises, including wills, by March of 1920 was over $59,000.

The college idea apparently never came to fruition. However, a sort of ministerial apprenticeship program at Stanberry was instituted. Elder Herbert Miles trained a number of younger ministerial candidates, including Robert A. Barnes, and W. W. McMicken. It was not until 1948 that a Church of God college was actually established.

1920:   Bible Home Instructor and Colporteur Work

In 1920 the first edition of the Bible Home Instructor was published, made possible by donations totalling $2,835.  Dugger's dream of a Bible subject book which would convince people of the Church of God doctrines and increase membership, had at last come into being. He later reported that he had spent more than a year compiling "true doctrine" for this book.

With the Instructor came the real impetus toward beginning the colporteur program, that of selling these books in a door to door effort.

Elder Herbert Miles, the leading evangelist in the Church of God at the time, held a long tent effort in Sabetha, Kansas in 1920, assisted by three Bible Workers, Sisters Corbett, McGaughey, and Browne. Also with Miles were several young men aspiring to the ministry, Melville Gilstrap, Horace Munro, Fred T. Conway, and R. A. Barnes. As later explained in the "Question Corner" section of the Advocate, Dugger said that women were not to be religious leaders with authority over men, but that they could be used as workers and have a part in evangelistic work  (I Cor. 14:34-35, I Tim. 2:12 and Rom. 16).

After Sabetha, most of the group moved on to Maryville, Missouri, for a ten week tent meeting. Some forty-three new members were added there, and a Sabbath School was held with about seventy members. This became the largest Church of God ever started despite the fact that Maryville was a strongly Catholic area.

S.W. Mentzer Steps Down

Church leaders in 1920 included old S. W. Mentzer of Robins, Iowa, President; G. T. Rodgers of Stanberry as Vice-President; Chester Walker of Albany, Missouri, Secretary;   A. N. Dugger of Stanberry, Treasurer;   and L.L. Presler of Orafino, Nebraska as Chairman of the Executive Committee.

Mentzer had served as President since 1905. He reportedly always paid his own expenses to general meetings, and during his entire ministry never received one cent from the church for his services. At the 1921 Conference, Mentzer requested that the office be turned over to a younger man. Mentzer died in 1927.

The Big Push:   1921 and the Harvest Field Messenger

In February of 1921, a new kind of paper was begun, the Harvest Field Messenger, an official Church of God field organ, givings news of the churches and field evangelism work. It was issued monthly, at 25 cents per year. With this paper, a storehouse of information is available as to the activities of the Church of God, in home and foreign missionary fields.

That same year, the old publishing house was tripled in size, as a new building was constructed with a full basement. As one of the first issues of the Messenger reported, in the previous five years, 1916-1921, the Church of God had been carrying an "agressive field work in territories where the 'Third Angel's Message' and the gospel of the coming kingdom has never been preached." Each year the field force had increased. And in the preceding nine months, over $8000 had been paid out by the General Conference in missionary work. Further, "thousands of people have been reached with the message, and more converts made during the past year than during any preceding year of our history in America." The work had grown such that there weren't enough ministers, so Dugger exhorted the brethren "to carry on a greater work than we have ever done before....The Church of God must now be up and doing."

Was the Church of God really growing by leaps and bounds? Or does it only seem so because of "better reporting"  (the Messenger)? There is proof that real growth did occur, for the 1921 General Conference set a goal of 1000 new members for the following year; which goal was exceeded. Dugger truthfully reported that "never before has the Church of God in North America launched such a drive for winning souls to the narrow way with Christ as now."

Many Evangelists Active

Leading the list of field evangelists during 1921 was Elder Herbert Miles, with some 63 converts. Besides Maryville, Missouri, Miles held meetings at Santa Rosa, Missouri and Marion, Iowa, where he was assisted by J. T. Williamson and R.E. Hosteter. The Marion effort was financed by the local Church of God   tithes and offerings. It was a common practice for local churches to initiate and support evangelistic efforts in their areas.

Williamson, of Appleton City, Missouri, had started out several years previously as a Church of God minister, but because of financial burdens, had gone back to teaching school and farming. His work with Miles at Marion, Iowa, marked his return to the ministry. Hosteter, a young ex-Christian Church member, was one of Miles' converts at Maryville, Missouri. Miles held a large tent meeting at Ghillicothe, Missouri, similar to the previous one at Maryville.  He was assisted there by Elder J. A. Riggs and Mrs. Sarah Corbett, "a recognized missionary of the church, Miss Esther Smith, who has charge of the singing, and Mrs. J. J. Kramer.

Second in gaining converts in 1921 was Elder M. W. Unzicker, with 48 additions. Pierce, Crowder, Indianola and Cherokee, Oklahoma, as well as Tatum, Texas, were scenes of some of his evangelistic efforts. At Tatum, Unzicker stayed to raise up a church and a Sabbath school, prompting Dugger to remark that the Unzickers were "stayers, " for "they stay in one place until a company is raised up, and they are doing a fine work."  At Pierce, Oklahoma, Unzicker gathered together some 86 Sabbath keepers, whereas only a few months previously, there had been none.

As noted earlier, Dugger in 1921 held debates in Stidham, Oklahoma. This resulted in 15 church members being raised up there, including the Marrs family, former Campbellites. Burt Marrs, a school teacher, later became one of the leading Church of God ministers.  Another was Joe Cozad who was preparing to become a minister that same year.

Two more of the established, older ministers active were Elders J. C. Bartlett, at Salem, Oklahoma, and L. L. Presler, who spoke throughout Oklahoma:  March 18 at Dane, then Enid, Fairview, Merrick, Keystone, and then Licking, Missouri.   Presler was "devoting all his time to the ministry. "

New Preachers Enter the Field

Elder L.I. Rodgers, ordained at the 1920 campmeeting, held one of his first efforts at Keystone, Oklahoma. A two month effort resulted in "only one convert," because of the   harassment of a Campbellite minister.

Elder J. A. Riggs, whom Dugger termed "a very spiritual man" (meaning he leaned toward the pentecostal side), was making calls on isolated brethren, and held a meeting at Atoka, Oklahoma, with Ed Severson, who had recently been granted a license by the Nebraska Conference.

Elders Charlie Salkeld and Jack Slankard, long a ministerial team, held meetings in Des Moines that year.

Another large tent effort in 1921 was the one at Brookfield, Missouri, in a 50 by 80 foot tent. Elder Rodgers led the campaign, assisted by Elder J. W. Crouse and Bible-Workers Mrs. Emma Browne, Mrs. Maud Rodgers and Mrs. Mable Rodgers. Rodgers and Crouse later held a tent meeting at Milan, Missouri. In the summer of 1921, classes were conducted to train Bible Workers and Missionaries, with free tuition.

J. W. Crouse became stationed in Los Angeles, while Elder J. S. Jellison stayed at Salt Lake City, where a new church was located.

Robert A. Barnes' first ministerial effort was at Canadian, Oklahoma, having been trained by Elder Miles.

When Barnes first went to Stanberry in 1920 to study for the ministry, the eloquent Miles had told him he was too unlearned and that he should go home.   But Dugger supported him, and at the end of the term, Barnes won the oratorical contest of the young minister candidates.

Another new man, who had been preparing for the ministry for two years under Miles, was W. W. McMicken of Alabama. His first effort was at Bear Creek, Oklahoma.

Some other new faces in the ministry in 1921 were Thos. J. Marrs, and his son, Burt F. Marrs. Like R.E. Hosteter, the Marrs previously were in the Christian Church, or Campbellites. T.J. Marrs had been a Campbellite minister and came to Sabbath observance through self study. Burt Marrs began preaching for the Campbellites at the age of 19 in 1910. After nine years a Christian Church minister, Burt Marrs was ordained a minister in the Church of God in 1919. He retired in 1958 and died of cancer in 1961. A graduate of Oklahoma State College, Marrs served 33 years as a school teacher and school superintendant.   In 1921 he was apparently still teaching, near Earlsboro. Dugger urged him to enter the ministry actively.

Work  in  China

The work in China, first mentioned in 1916, was apparently growing, for in 1921 it was reported that Elder Bernstein was supervising the Church of God in Peking, and there were three other elders in different parts of China.

1922:  Activity Expands  worldwide, Mexican Work Grows

The 1921 goal of 1000 new members during the next year was exceeded. At the 1922 Missouri Campmeetlng, six ministers reported a total of 230 converts. In the eastern United States, there were now over 300 new members, with fourteen ministers working there. One whole Seventh Day Adventist church in Mexico City came into the Church of God, with twenty-one members, and a Mexican Conference was formed with Elder J. M. Rodriquez in charge. It was reported that 500 new members were added in Mexico. One of the churches was at Torreon, Coah, Mexico, which had been established for some years, the work of

J.M. Rodriguez.

There were about 40 ministers of the Church of God in America at this time,  all of whom were considered evangelists. Over 400 Seventh Day Adventist ministers had reportedly dropped out of their church during the past five years, and the Church of God sought to get them to investigate the teachings of the Church of God. Some 150 letters were sent to prospective ministers in foreign fields, forty-two to Germany, twenty-eight to Russia, three to Denmark, and others to Norway, Sweden, China, Africa, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Japan, Philippines, western and eastern India, South America, and other places. These were Sabbath keeping ministers who were prospective allies of the Church of God.

Elder Y. M. Om Naerem, an ex-Seventh Day Adventist, began a work in Norway at this time. Interest was also expressed in New Zealand and Jerusalem. Elder A. Jacobs reported from India.  And a Negro from Port of Spain, Trinidad, James A. Murray, formerly with the Seventh Day Adventists for some 12 years, came into the Church of God in 1922.

During 1922, state and district conferences were held in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, as well as in the South and West Coast.

Despite limited funds, Dugger reported that "our ministers and field workers are more than double what they were one year ago, and in a few months will be trebled, and we hope doubled or trebled again...."

In September of 1922, more than 25,000 pages of free reading matter were distributed by volunteer workers, missionary secretaries, and ministers. Elders J.W. Crouse of California and W.E. Carver of Iowa headed the list in this field.