XI. Two Groups: Stanberry and Salem, 1933 - 1949
As few issues of the Salem group have been located, information on their activities is rather scarce. A pointed question that still is not yet totally answered is: "Who belonged to which group?" and its corollary: "How did the two groups differ?"
Some of the 12, 70, and 7 chosen at Salem did not accept their positions, remaining instead with Stanberry, while Salem did not accept all of those who where chosen by their lots. Later other ministers were added to the list. The Salem group established their own printing house, although for several years their printing was done by a local printer in Salem.1
Salem, West Virginia was probably chosen by Dugger's group because members there tended to side with his "clean church party." Clarence O. Dodd, who held an important position in a large oil company, lived there. F.L Sumners owned a store in Salem, and W.W. McMicken, along with other wealthy Church of God members, lived there. The Seventh Day Baptist college located there, was attended by many in the Church of God, since they had no Sabbatarian college of their own to attend.2
In the 1940's, the name of the Salem magazine was The Bible Advocate and Gospel Herald, in contrast to the one at Stanberry which was called The Bible Advocate and Herald of the Coming Kingdom. O.D. Grimm was editor, with W.W. McMicken and F.L. Sumners associate editors. The paper was entered as second class matter at the Salem post office on November 10, 1933.
"World Headquarters" at Jerusalem
Dugger's trip to Jerusalem in 1931-32 was ostensibly to prepare for the establishment of a world headquarters there. In 1931 the General Conference had voted for this to happen.
After the division and the reaffirmation that Jerusalem should be world headquarters, Elder and Mrs. L.D. Snow were sent as representatives for the Church of God to Jerusalem to work among the Jews and try to establish a headquarters there. They spent nearly a year there, facing "many disappointments." Before the Snows left for Jerusalem, Elders Dugger and Robert Young, a converted Jew, traveled extensively throughout America to raise funds to send Young as a missionary to work with Snow in Palestine. Young preceded Snow by several months, but "his venture did not turn out well for the church."3
E.A. Straub,who became a Salem Church of God minister in 1934, reports that the ministerial certificates were signed in Israel. Later he found out that he had been deceived, and that ministerial licenses were made up in Salem, sent to Jerusalem to be stamped, and then returned. Dugger did not go to Jerusalem to stay because Jerusalem was not the real headquarters as he claimed. Only a "Mrs. Miller" was in Jerusalem.4
Pentecost & Feast of Tabernacles Observed by Salem Group
For a time, it appears that the Salem group observed the Feast days. Kiesz reports that their finances and enthusiasm picked up greatly throughout the country as nearly every state saw some churches going to Stanberry, some to Salem.
Kiesz reports: "In the spring of 1934 there was a wonderful campmeeting held in Salem [West Virginia?] during the time of the Feast of Pentecost, and another one at St. Joseph, Missouri in the fall during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Many new and independent Sabbath-keepers were added to the fold for the next several years, but troubles soon also rose from within this group, which in time led to the defection of a number of the leading brethren."
Kiesz further notes, "During the summer of 1935 there was a blessed and successful campmeeting held at Jefferson, Oregon; and the fall campmeeting was held during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles at Galena, Kansas, where Elder William Alexander had a nice church group started."
According to Kiesz, who was part of the Salem group, "About two campmeetings were held by the Salem group every year during most of the years of separation, in various parts of the country."5
M.L. Ogren, son of C.W. Ogren, reports that he was with the Salem group. He started keeping the Feast Days in 1934, at age 20. He reports that Salem generally kept them from 1934 to 1937, but later dropped the practice. A meeting at Pentecost was observed, as well as a fall meeting at the Feast of Tabernacles. Ogren came to believe in the Feast Days through C.O. Dodd and his own self-study.6
Extent of Salem Group
Kiesz reports that the Salem group did a good deal of foreign work, especially in Mexico. This may explain why later on, Latin American Churches of God tended to be Feast Day observers.
In 1936 and 1937, Elder John Kiesz did "quite an effective work" in several parts of Canada, as well as Elder E.A. Straub. In 1938, the first Canadian Church of God campmeeting was held at Acme, Alberta.
Some Church of God people generally became so disgusted and disheartened at the division that they gave up the faith altogether. However, enough remained to give the Salem group equal membership with that of Stanberry. The 1936 Census listed Salem with 1,154 members and 39 churches.7
Another Look at Salem Organization
Elmer T. Clark's book, The Small Sects in America (1937), mentions the Salem group as the Church of God (Seventh Day).8 He grouped the church with Holiness and Pentecostal churches as the Church of God (Salem, West Virginia). Clark termed it an Adventist body that arose from a schism in the Church of God (Adventist) in 1933. When Dugger, the leader of the Church of God (Adventist) returned from Palestine, dissension arose over matters of church government. Dugger insisted that it be patterned more closely after the Biblical pattern, but he was deposed as leader by a majority of the General Conference. He then went to Salem, West Virginia, and formed the Church of God (Seventh Day), and established a periodical, the Bible Advocate, the name of the paper long published by the parent body at Stanberry.
Clark listed the following as Salem's chief tenets of belief and practice:
1. Officers chosen by drawing names out of a hat, Dugger insisting that the Bible shows nothing of democratic elections. There were 12 apostles, 70 evangelists, and 7 elders or business committeemen. Although Dugger's name was not drawn, he remained leader of the sect (the 1936 Census lists Dugger as "General Overseer").
2. Seventh day Sabbath observed.
4. Law of "clean and unclean" meats practiced, pork forbidden.
5. The church "displays considerable emotional enthusiasm in its meetings."
In an official report submitted by A.N. Dugger for publication in the 1936 Census, the organization of the Salem group was described as follows:
This body retains the apostolic form of the primitive church and consists of: The Twelve, The Seventy, The Seven, the elders, the overseers, the helpers, and the disciples. The Twelve have the oversight over the body of believers as a whole; The Seventy give themselves to the evangelistic ministry of the Word; The Seven have general oversight and management of the business of the church; the elders give themselves to the ministry of the Word and to prayers; the overseer under the supervision of the Twelve has general care over the church as a whole and has assistant overseers to care for the affairs of the church in States, territories, or various countries, as the need may require; the helpers give themselves to the advancement of the work and the truth, as the Lord has given them talents and opportunities; and the disciples give themselves wholly into the Lord's hands to use as He will.9
Robert A. Barnes, one of the Twelve, reported that he was elected the first chairman of the board of twelve. A friend of his was F.C. Robinson, another of the Twelve whom he visited in London, Ontario.10
E.A. Straub reports that he became one of the Twelve in 1942, and that these were lifetime, board members.11
The Michigan Historical Records Survey, published in 1941, gave the officers of the "General Assembly of the Church of God, Salem, West Virginia." Andrew N. Dugger of Sweethome, Oregon was listed as "General Overseer." His "counselors," The Twelve, were these Elders:
Alexander, Missouri; McMicken, Salem, West Virginia; Groshans, South Bend, Indiana; Haywood, Battle Creek, Michigan; Turner, Deckerville, Michigan; Robinson, Missouri; Haeber, California; Sines, Mexico; Royer, Connecticut; Ellis, Panama; Orn Naerem, Norway.
Listed as "assistant overseers" are Elders Grimm, Robinson, Pearson, Summers and Adams.12
Doctrines of the Salem Group
Straub reports that the lines of demarcation doctrinally between Stanberry and Salem were not as sharp as might seem. He maintains that Dugger allowed some use of pork and smoking, yet the younger Stanberry ministers were "cleaner" than Salem pictured them. The essence of the differences were that Stanberry ministers tended to be more lenient, and would not disfellowship members for doing these things. Barnes, one of the 12, as well as Dugger, had been anti-pork all his life.13
Dugger's report in the 1936 Census on the Salem group's doctrinal beliefs gives much information as to what their original position was:
1. The Bible was held to be the only inspired writing.
2. The Holy Spirit is that which abides in the believer and not a third person.
3. Christ was in the tomb exactly three days and three nights, rising at the end of the Sabbath.
4. The apostolic organization and government must be followed today.
5. The "Church of God" is the inspired Bible name for God's people.
6. Prayer and anointing will save the sick.
7. Laying on of hands (at baptism) is to be practiced.
8. Lord's Supper is to be observed annually at the beginning of the 14th of Nisan.
9. The Sabbath is to be observed from even to even.
10. Payment of tithes on increase is obligatory.
11. Participation in carnal warfare is condemned.
12. The Law of clean and unclean meats is to be observed in this age.
13. Habitual use of narcotics and habit-forming drugs, alcohol and tobacco is condemned.
14. Under this gospel age the judgment is upon the house of God.
15. The return of Christ will be literal, personal and visible, is imminent, and He will sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem, ruling the world with the righteous saints on the earth.
16. Righteous saints will be resurrected at His second coming.
17. There will be a final regathering of the dispersed nation of fleshly Israel.
18. The dead are unconscious.
19. The wicked dead are resurrected to final judgment, with no probation but will be eternally destroyed.
20. The Third Angel's Message is a present day message.
21. The seven last plagues are literal and fall at the end of the gospel age.14
Michigan During the Division Years
The 1936 Census shows that two Michigan churches went with Stanberry while three went with the Salem organization. The Michigan Historical Records Survey, published in 1941, records all the churches of God there as affiliated with Salem. It gives records of the establishment and then current status of all the churches in the state.
The Michigan Assembly of the Church of God (the word "conference" is not used because of aversion to the conference system) was said to have been organized in 1863. In 1941, it met annually for business and religious discussion, and its officers were elected for life. Elected at that time were:
James Merriam, Detroit, President; A.C. Turner, Deckerville, Vice-President; Pearl Walkley, Detroit, Secretary; Mable Cole, Detroit, Treasurer; Walter Spencer, Freeland, Garner Thomson, Vassar, Cecil Hull, Detroit, Board Members
The session minutes and membership records from 1863 to 1941 were in the custody of the secretary.
The Freeland Church of God, in Saginaw County, was organized in 1899. Services were held in private homes, rented buildings and the Freeland School. Its first settled elder was James Merriam, from 1899-1920. In 1941, Elder Edson Merriam presided. Myrtle Spencer, secretary of the church, had the church records since 1899.
Deckerville was organized as a church in the fall of 1924, where a brick church building was erected the same year. Elder Roy Hosteter ordained Elder E.J. Davis, who served from 1924 to his death in 1928. In 1941, the minister was Elder A.C. Turner.
Detroit's Church of God met at 700 Fairview Avenue in a building erected in 1940. Elder James A. Merriam founded the church in 1925, and was still serving in 1941. Pearl Walkley was custodian of the records.
The Detroit church began with home meetings before 1923. Elder O.R. Osman worked in the area, and in August, 1924 James Merriam and others went to the Stanberry campmeeting. In September, 1925, Elder C.E. Groshans established the Detroit church with some twenty members. A.N. Dugger's 1929 revival added more, and after the 1933 division, W.W. McMicken was sent there to preach.
A Spanish Church of God in Detroit, meeting at 3330 15th Street in a private home, was organized in 1931 by Elder R.R. Saenz, who served until 1935. In 1941, the elder was Adolfo Guzman.
Finally, the Spanish St. Charles church of Saginaw County was established on May 16, 1931, by Elder O.R. Osman. Its first settled minister was Elder Ermilo Duque, from 1939-40. In 1941, Elder Julian A. Ojeda served the church, meeting at 321 E. Water Street. It stemmed from Sabbath-keeping Mexican brethren who moved from Texas and Mexico to work in the fields of Michigan. The first Church of God minister to preach there was Elder E. Campos of Mexico.
Among other churches in Michigan was the one at Grand Rapids, where a church began in 1914. John De Wind began keeping the Sabbath there, and soon there was a Sabbath school, headed by M.J. Vander Schuur. They learned of the Church of God at White Cloud and visited with them. Elder L.L. Presler held evangelistic meetings at Jenison and West Olive, and Elder Thomas Howe organized a church at West Olive, with its own church building. Michigan's conference was held in the Jenison-Grand Rapids area in 1920, 1925, 1934 and 1944.
At West Olive, the first record of a Sabbath school was on September 20, 1902, with 48 scholars. Elder L.J. Branch baptized John and Nellie Goodin in 1902, and two others in 1903. In the summer of 1920, meetings by Elder Presler resulted in the baptism of several more. In 1922, Elders George P. Wilson and Thomas Howe added more. A church building was constructed in 1922, and Elder R.E. Hosteter pastored from 1924-36.
The Church of God at Battle Creek began anew when C.J. Heywood moved from Detroit in 1928-29. C.E. Groshans was informed of the move, and organized a church there with Heywood as elder in 1930.15
Stanberry History - Independent Thought, "Debatable Questions"
Dugger reported that the August, 1933 Conference had voted to open the papers "to other doctrines beside what the church believes," despite protests by Dugger and his supporters.16 In this, he was correct, as the October 30, 1933 issue of the Field Messenger contains "Exchange of Views Department" that contains thought "on points of doctrine that have not yet been decided by the Church of God as its teachings or beliefs." That issue has an article, entitled, "Were Enoch and Elijah Human Beings?" by J.T. Williamson.17
The December 25 Advocate, published at Stanberry, has articles that are anti-pork and tobacco, showing that Stanberry did not dogmatically hold to either side of these and other "debatable questions."
"Growing in Knowledge"
The 1936 Census contains a statement of beliefs of the Stanberry group, termed the Church of God (Adventist). Prepared by Roy Davison, then President of the General Conference, it begins with the statement that his church "has no formal written creed but believes in constantly growing in the knowledge of the Bible, which it accepts as the sole rule of faith and practice."18
Davison lists eleven "doctrines upon which the church as a whole stands united." They are very general, and include belief in the seventh day Sabbath; literal premillennial second coming of Christ to be near; unconscious state of the dead; resurrection of the righteous dead at the second coming to reign with Christ for 1,000 years on the earth, after which the wicked will be resurrected to be completely destroyed and the righteous to receive eternal reward on the renewed earth; Wednesday curcifixion, Saturday resurrection; the ten commandments are distinct from the Law of Moses.
Of note is the statement that "the Lord's Supper service was instituted by Christ to take the place of the ancient Passover, and should be observed annually, at the time of the Passover." This left open the question of whether to observe the event on the 14th or 15th.
Passover Date Question
In the February 25, 1935 Advocate from Stanberry is an article written by Roy Dailey on Passover. It gives the date for the 14th of Nisan as April 17 (date is correct). Dailey does not say when to celebrate the Lord's Supper, that it is a disputed question. It is useless to argue the point, Dailey maintained, because "some would see it one way and some another. Let the local churches decide for themselves, practice charity toward others, and may there be no battles over the subject."19
The March 15, 1937 Advocate from Stanberry contained both Nisan 14 and 15 as "Lord's Supper dates."20 This would be something that Dugger would not allow, as he strongly adhered to Nisan 14 as the only valid date. The Passover date question has long been debated.
Anglo-Israelism in Stanberry Camp
The March 14, 1938 Advocate from Stanberry contains an article by Roy Davison, President of the Conference, on the subject of Israel. He stated, "The subject of 'Anglo Israel' and kindred thoughts in regard to the twelve tribes is quite well advanced in these last days. However it is not a new thought with the Church of God, for amongst our people it has held a prominent part in the message for many years." Both Judah and Israel must return to their homeland in conjunction with Christ's return. Israel today is where knowledge is increasing, in Western Europe, England and the US. "We as a people have not laid great stress upon the identity of the tribes, or so much as to which nations are included, believing God knows His own . . . ."21
Roy Davison, Frank Walker, R.K. Walker, J.W. Rich, Ted Flo, Claude Ellis and the Palmers of Idaho have all been listed as Anglo-Israel believers,22 yet this belief has not been generally accepted by the Church of God (Seventh Day). The freedom of expression allowed in the era of division (1933-1949) made it possible for the Anglo-Israel issue to gain acceptance. It still has not been totally eradicated despite efforts to debunk the idea.
Marrs on Church Eras
In 1935, Burt Marrs wrote a series of articles published in the Advocate on the seven churches of Revelation. He equated the "Sardus (sic.)" period with the reformation, but added, "There are churches today that claim to be living while for the most part they are as dead as a door nail . . . . Perhaps there is yet some good left in it, but it needs strengthening in order that what is left might not die." He believed the Philadelphia era began with religious toleration in America, and in the Laodicean article, he applied it to current conditions, saying that the Church of God should not have a lukewarm attitude.23
Organization of Stanberry
Stanberry did not have a 12, 70 and 7 organization like Salem. Although it did have an executive committee of seven men.24 The 1936 Census states that "in polity the denomination is essentially congregational," but a large proportion of the members were isolated and without a church. Nine states were organized into state conferences, each with an executive board that directed evangelistic work within its territory. Of the tithes received, one-tenth was sent to the General Conference, which included all the local conferences as well as unorganized territory. Essentially, the state conferences paid the evangelists in their area.
Ministerial candidates were first issued licenses on recommendation of a church or conference. After having gained experience and proven their calling, they were ordained into the ministry by prayer and the laying on of hands in a public service by other ordained ministers of the church. "Elder" was the only title allowed by the Stanberry group.25
Work of the Stanberry Group
The Bible Advocate and Herald of the Coming Kingdom continued to be published at Stanberry as well as a bi-weekly children's paper, "The Sabbath School Missionary and Young People's Friend," and a monthly church news magazine, "The Field Messenger," as well as a quarterly booklet of Bible lessons, "The Sabbath School Quarterly." The Stanberry plant was referred to as "The Church of God Publishing House."
Ministers - December, 1933
The December 25, 1933 Advocate from Stanberry lists a number of ministers and their locations.26 It appears that not all of these were in the Stanberry group, as the lines of division were not clear at this point.
Rudolph Haffner, Bern, Kansas
Horace Munro, Sabetha, Kansas
Hugh Miller, Bassett, Nebraska
Frank Walker, Albia, Iowa
William Alexander, Galena, Kansas
J.F. Jenson, McCook, Nebraska
R.E. Hosteter, Jenison, Michigan
Darrel A. Davis, Battle Creek, Mich.
H. Vander Schuur, Middleville, Mich.
John Goodin, West Olive, Michigan
Archie Stiede, Battle Creek,Michigan
A.S. Christenson, Frederic, Wisconsin
Lawrence Christenson, Frederic Wis.
Russell F. Barton, Waterbury, Vermont
J.T. Williamson, Appleton, Missouri
L.I. Rodgers, Milan, Missouri
Quincy Walker, Stanberry, Missouri
J.F. Williams, Stanberry, Missouri
S.A. Moore, Stanberry, Missouri
John Anderson, Evona, Missouri
T.A. Williams, Evona, Missouri
Burt F. Marrs, Wewoka, Oklahoma
Archie B. Craig, Ashland, Oklahoma
R.K. Walker, Crowder, Oklahoma
Ennis Hawkins, Rattan, Oklahoma
M.S. Marrs, Dale, Oklahoma
C.H. Munro, Fort Smith, Arkansas
B.F. Dailey, DeWitt, Arkansas
Pete Bartschi, Heber Springs, Arkansas
William Woodruff, Van Buren, Arkansas
M.W. Unzicker, Elgin, Texas
J.A. McClain, Conroe, Texas
W.C. Bryce, Gregsly, Texas
R.R. Emerland, Lendon, Tennessee
Lloyd George, Moundsville, West Va.
D.S. Doyle, Moundsville, West Virginia
E.W. Garner, Philcampbell, Alabama
A.H. Stith, Meridian, Idaho
Roy Davison, Caldwell, Idaho
C.F. Knott, Odessa, Washington
S.J. Kauer, Junction City, Oregon
G.W. Benight, Albany, Oregon
(President of Oregon Conference)
Leading Figures of Stanberry
Elder Roy Dailey took over the editorship of the Stanberry Advocate from William Alexander in 1933, serving until 1935, and again from 1943 to 1945. He was chosen secretary-treasurer of the General Conference in August, 1933. Burt F. Marrs was associate editor in 1935.
In 1934, Elder L.L. Christenson came to Stanberry to learn to operate the linotype, taking over from Mrs. Brush. In August 1935, Elder W.C. Rodgers was appointed editor, with Elder S.J. Kauer, who had moved to Stanberry from Oregon, as office editor. Kauer served until 1942. Officers chosen at the 1935 Conference were:
A.S. Christenson President
Carl Carver Vice-President
S.J. Kauer Secretary-Treasurer
During this time, Elder Ennis Hawkins was the general evangelist for the Church of God, and traveled extensively. On September 21, 1936, Hawkins was in Oregon at a meeting in Jefferson.
In 1936, Elders G.T. and W.C. Rodgers died. Elder Roy Davison was elected president of the General Conference and editor-in-chief of the Advocate.
In the spring or summer of 1938, Elder James A. Murray of Trinidad came to America and in June accompanied Elder Kauer on a long tour over the country, visiting many Churches of God.
In 1939, Mrs. Roy Davison was instrumental in forming the Women's Association of the Church of God, in order to provide more tracts and booklets for ministers to distribute.
At the 1941 Conference, Carl W. Carver was elected President, and Elder Burt F. Marrs, Vice-President.
In 1942, A.S. Christenson came to Stanberry to take over as Secretary-Treasurer of the General Conference, and manage the publishing house. In the summer of that year, a Bible School for young ministers was held in the Stanberry church, and Elder S.J. Kauer was the instructor. A short time later, Elder Archie B. Craig replaced Kauer as office editor, while Roy Davison continued as chief editor.27
Christenson served as chief editor from 1945-1950, through the merger period. In January, 1948, his contributing editors were28:
Burt F. Marrs
Frank M. Walker
Stanley J. Kauer
Ray E. Benight
Damaging Effect of the Division
The division had certainly been a damaging influence on the Church of God as a whole. Numerous members were grieved at what occurred as Church of God leaders attacked one another in print. Kiesz notes that the church division "caused a lot of consternation and disturbances in the established policies and work of the church," and "because of all the friction that continued over the years . . . a number of folks became discouraged and gave up the faith altogether." Yet nevertheless, Kiesz reports, "good was accomplished by most of the ministers during the years of separation" between the two groups.29
Kiesz notes that by the late 1940's, "there had been a general feeling among the membership of the two churches that they were not receiving the blessings from the Almighty to the extent promised in the Word."30 A definite movement toward union came to the fore in the 1940's, in order to salvage what remained and to unify the Church of God.
Pre-Merger Developments: Armstrong and Dodd
Before the 1949 Merger of the Salem and Stanberry factions of the Church of God, there had already occurred at least two major developments in the Church of God.
Herbert Armstrong, ordained by the Oregon Conference of the Church of God in 1931, began a radio broadcast in Eugene, Oregon on January 7, 1934 which developed into a distinct work, the Radio Church of God (later renamed the Worldwide Church of God), published the Plain Truth magazine. Herbert Armstrong taught annual Festivals and the identity of the English-speaking peoples with the birthright tribe of Joseph. He worked with the Salem group for a few years, though he did not consider himself to be a part of the political organization of the Church of God (Seventh Day). When Salem's beliefs changed, Armstrong found himself in a precarious position: either cease preaching Feast Day observance and the identity of Israel, or lose his minister's license. In 1937 he was definitely "on his own" as he refused to quit preaching these doctrines. A number of Church of God members in and around Eugene and Jefferson, Oregon, agreed that Armstrong was preaching truths which the Seventh Day Church of God did not have. The work moved to Pasadena, California in 1947, with the beginning of Ambassador College. The Worldwide Church of God grew to a much larger work than the Church of God (Seventh Day), with about 80,000 members in 1973.
Another Feast Day observer was C.O. Dodd. He was closely associated with A.N. Dugger (co-author of the History of the True Church in 1936) and, with Dugger, was one of the seven men to look after the financial affairs of the church. It appears that in 1937 he too departed from the Salem group, mainly over the issues of Feast Days, and
later, the "Sacred Name." In 1937 he founded a magazine, The Faith, which is still published.
Closely resembling the Church of God (Seventh Day) in many aspects, the Worldwide Church of God and the Sacred Names Movement (Assemblies of Yahweh) naturally weakened the original group. W
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