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More "old" WCG/HWA history

Our local Congregation in the 1960s

                    OLD WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD HISTORY

                         YOU PROBABLY DO NOT KNOW

                                    by

                                Keith Hunt



     Most of you studying on this Website, if you did have a
membership in the Worldwide Church of God, at one time, probably
do not go back before the 1970s. Jesse (her site is on here)
speaks from experience many years AFTER I had LEFT the WCG (1961
to 1972).

     I want to take you back some, into the 1960s, and HWA with
the WCG and our local WCG church.

     I will start with a fact that may shock many of you past
WCG members (unless you've read it somewhere already). Herbert
Armstrong had credentials as a minister with the Church of God,
Seventh Day, Salem, West Virginia, RIGHT UP TO 1938/39, and did
NOT leave that organization  in 1934 as he wrote in his
autobiography.
     The Plain Truth is that which is RECORDED in the Church of
God, Seventh Day, West Virginia. I have copies of the documents,
as I wrote them to have them sent to me. The truth of the matter
is that Herbert Armstrong had his ministerial credentials REVOKED
by the said Church organization, because he would NOT stop
preaching about the observance of God's Festivals and the
"British Israel" teaching. He was then, to put it bluntly,
"sacked" - told he was no longer a minister in good standing with
them.

     A lot do not understand that much of what HWA taught and
preached was the Church of God, Seventh Day teachings. His
delivery of sermons was the typical delivery style of many
CoG,7Day preachers of the time. 
     I was talking to a man in the 1980s who WENT BACK into those
early days of the Church of God, Seventh Day. He told me how HWA
was just another of their ministers of that time, mixed with the
people, socialized after services etc. He told me that Loma
Armstrong had a lot more influence on HWA than most realize. He
was at one church service, and HWA was ranting and powerfully
rebuking the congregation over ... whatever it was .... he did
not remember, but he was sitting close to the front and was able
to see Loma raise her finger to her lap and powerfully shake it
back and forth. Herbert got the message .... change your tone of
voice, stop reaming out the congregation. And he said, Herbert
IMMEDIATELY CHANGED his voice tone and stopped ranting and
raving.

     It was I think the second Feast of Tabernacles I attended,
about 1965. Herbert was the main speaker for the service. I well
remember as he was announced, we all, the congregation, started
to clap our hands, we had not been told to do so, not at all, we
just did it, I guess in appreciation of many truths we had come
to discover in the Bible, through HWA on the radio. Herbert was
walking up to the platform to speak, waving his hands to tell us
not to clap. The first words were, "Please do not clap for me, I
am just a human man in the service of God."
     I remember that event as if it was yesterday. Herbert was
HUMBLE IN THOSE DAYS AND YEARS!!
     I can remember him telling us that we needed to be loving
and patient with our friends and relatives, that we should never
feel big headed about what God had shown to us in the Scriptures.
That all the world was blinded UNTIL God revealed His truths to
whomever He willed. It was God calling and choosing us, and one
day EVERYONE, in God's time plan for salvation, would have a
clear chance for salvation.

     Yes, the man was HUMBLE back then! 

     I remember clearly the early years, and middle years of the
1960s in the then called Radio Church of God. Ministerial
meetings would be held at least once a year, where all new light
on any issue could be brought up and presented to all the
ministry. Where discussion was open, and welcome. Where it would
be admitted that new light had come to us, and that we must
therefore move into the new light of truth, be willing to be
corrected, where we had to grow in grace and knowledge. And the
church did, at least up to 1967 when Loma Armstrong died. Then it
became another matter from there on out. But all of that is not
my purpose of this little essay.

WORK WCG IN CANADA AND OUR LOCAL MINISTER

     During the decade of the 1960s, Dean Wilson was the overseer
of the WCG office and work in Canada. We had no local
congregation for the first years of the 1960s. I met Dean Wilson
in 1963 in our town. He was there to conduct a Bible study and to
baptize. My impression of Dean was that he was a kind, down to
earth, humble man. The impression never changed all through that
decade. After we had a minister and "church" congregation, he
came now and then to visit. He was always kind, a gentle and
quiet spoken man.
     I remember a few years after we got our local minister, that
he asked some of us leading men in the congregation, "What is the
key to success in leading?" We replied with some answers, forgot
what now. He looked at us and said that Dean Wilson had told him,
when sending him to our town to be our minister, that
"FRIENDLINESS" was a KEY factor in building a congregation that
was happy and strong.

     Our local minster was Bob Lay, probably none of you know his
name per se for he left the WCG in 1970, after being transferred
back to the USA, and not finding his "new" area "ministers" and
WCG churches at all like those in Canada, and especially our
congregation that he had built.

     Bob, truly did a super work for our congregation. He was
indeed a "friendly" fellow. Only in his late 20s, but what a
congregation he built. He was down to earth, had a good sense of
humor, was relaxed, and just a pleasant guy. He brought us a huge
variety of sermons over the 4 years or so he was with us. His
sermons covered everything you could ask for, that a Christian
community needed.

     Over the time he was our pastor, I grew quite close to him,
often going with him on visitations. So it was natural we had at
times some close personal talks. When he was being transferred
back to his native USA, he told me about three times, that he
really did not want to go. He said he loved Canada, the people,
and our local congregation.
     When it came time for our farewell, Dean Wilson came for the
last week-end Bob would be with us, and at that last goodbye
Saturday gathering, there were few dry eyes. It was very
touching, we loved Bob and he loved us.

     What became clear to me over the next few years and then
much later on during the 1980s and the stories I heard from
different people who were once a part of the WCG experience, was
that the WCG experience VARIED within each congregation and THE
minister who was "in charge." 

     Some ministers acted like little Hitlers, just ruling with a
rod of iron, and throwing their weight around. And it just got
worse as the 1970s moved into the 1980s. 
 
     Herbert Armstrong took over the reigns once more in the WCG,
pride and vanity got the better of him. He had no Loma to keep
him in line. The years moved into the sad truth that Jesse writes
about on her Website. And the WCG drove off the straight and
narrow into the ditch of cultic control syndrome.  
     But there was a TIME and there was SOME church congregations
in the WCG in the 1960s that were NOT governed by ego-dogma-
control-leaders. I was blessed to be in one of those
congregations and blessed to have worked with a younger minister
back then, who taught me how to build a kind and loving
congregation, established upon friendliness and genuine concern
and brotherly love. Bob Lay would invite three couples over to
his house every Saturday evening during the long winter months,
to just play table games, and have fun. He told me that he wanted
to get to know everyone in his congregation as friends. 
     Yes, he and I went through a lot of fine times back in those
old days. I was years later able to talk to him over the phone
for a few hours in 1990, and talk about those times. A few years
back, about 2005 he emailed me on finding my Website. I lost his
email address by mistake when I moved to my new Computer.
     So Bob, if you get to read this essay, please don't hesitate
to email me again. 

     I think back on those early years in the WCG, it was good in
many ways, but sad also in many ways. I guess one of the sad
parts is that MANY of those I knew back in the 1960s days of the
WCG in the local congregation I was part of, have thrown in the
towel, walked away from God the Father and Jesus, walked right
back into the world, from whence they came. They have just turned
their back on the Bible and the God who inspired it.

     I am very grateful to my parents who decided, when I was 5
years old to send me to a Church school - the Church of England
school. Each school morning, the first half hour was spent
reading the Bible. Throughout all those school years I was given
a very good, but certainly not perfect, education in certain
parts of the Bible. We memorized Psalms, memorized the full Ten
Commandments as found in the KJV Bible of Exodus 20. As the years
went by I developed a personal relationship with God the Father
and Jesus the Christ. I was a sincere Christian, following what I
could from the Bible, for what was revealed to me during those
years. Hence when I came to Canada, and came into the Radio
Church of God (or the Worldwide Church of God as it was in the
middle 1960s) I already had a very personal relationship with our
heavenly Father and our Savior Christ Jesus.

     So, when men or an organization went off the tracks, I still
looked to the Lord and His word as my guiding light. Maybe that
was the difference for me and thousands of others who have, since
the 1960s, turned their back on the Bible and God, and His way of
life. Maybe they never ready did have a personal relationship to
the Holy One.

     I can only hope and pray they will one day RETURN unto the
Lord, but I also have to realize that many are called today, but
few are chosen. 

     So we continue on, fighting the good fight, encouraged that
others are still being called, and chosen, through the continuing
work of the body of Christ, in its various individual and
organized ways around the world.

     I hope and pray that YOU will want to serve our Savior and
our Father in heaven, and that you will find the blessedness I
have had and continue to have, through the rest of your life.

                            ...................

Entered on this Website November 2007   


 
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