XIII. The Post Merger Period, 1949 to 1973
1950: New Church Buildings, Travels of Marrs
A new church building at the headquarters in Denver was dedicated on March 4, 1950 by Elder Frank Walker. Among post-merger developments was the construction of several new church buildings over the country, one of which was the Los Angeles church, pastored by Elder Carl Stacey.
Elder Burt Marrs soon replaced A.N. Dugger as head of the Foreign Missions Department, and made a two-month trip to Jamaica and Trinidad in the summer of 1950, finding that the brethren there really were "God's people." Later in the year, Marrs went to Mexico, and attended a conference in Mexico City. There were reported to be some 120 churches of God in Mexico at that time. President of their Conference was Elder Jose Kim Peck.1
Mexico Center of a Tug of War
The February 27, 1950 Advocate reveals that the Churches of God (Seventh Day) of Mexico were well-organized, never had any cleft or division, but considered themselves closer to Salem than Stanberry. Alberto Garcia reported that there were 91 churches there.2
The same issue also reported that a few scattered people were not going along with the merger. Although, James Merriam wrote that he was firmly with the merger.
As noted previously, Salem had done considerable work in Mexico previous to the 1949 merger. Mexico, though, had had little contact with the headquarters of the Church of God in the United States. Some Mexican ministers were chosen for the Salem group's 12, 7 and 70, but they served in name only, since there was little or no contact with them.3
Dugger and others did not remain very long with the Merger; in March of 1950 they launched the "Back to Salem" movement, and sought to draw the entire Mexican work behind them.
Straub, although with Salem, was the strongest advocate of the merger. He went to Mexico in 1948 and again in 1949, in an effort to counteract the possibility of losing the Mexican churches to the "Back to Salem" people. He apparently succeeded in overcoming Dugger's "lying literature" and organized the Mexican work in 1949.4 Marrs' trip of 1950 appears to have been spurred by the Mexican conflict.
"Back to Salem" Movement of 1950
Besides Dugger, there were other key figures in the "Back to Salem" movement. It may have been as early as 1949 when F.L. Summers and his son-in-law Chris Royer went back to Salem and established headquarters there. Royer was married to Summers' daughter, who apparently had been previously divorced. The Merger Group held firmly that no one could be divorced and remarried, or married to a divorcee, and still remain a minister. Members who were divorced and remarried before they come into the church were allowed. No divorce except for adultery was allowed after one came into the church. The "divorce and remarriage" issue thus seen as a major reason why some went "Back to Salem."5
M.L. Bartholomew, another dissident who was in Oregon at the time, tried to push "Back to Salem" ideas in Harrisburg and Marion. According to Straub, he and Dugger told lies to get people to go against the Merger. In 1950, Straub traveled the country seeking to stop the "Back to Salem" movement, and at least for a time did succeed in getting most of the people to support the Merger. Straub maintained that Dugger believed it was all right to tell a lie once in a while if it was for the benefit of the church.6
Robert A. Barnes reported that Summers, a native of Salem, never did go along with the Merger. He was sued by the Merger group for the publishing building in Salem. He won the lawsuit causing the Merger Group's papers to have to be printed in Stanberry. Barnes (one of the Twelve of the Salem Group) went along with the Merger for a short time. He reportedly left because he didn't like the "German leaders" such as Marrs, Charles Adams, and Straub. He averred that in the Stanberry park he heard Straub say that when they got in power they would change a few things. One of those changes would be to allow the people to eat pork. Barnes felt that the Merger Group's organization was a "dictatorship."7
Salem apparently established a Bible School about the same time the one in Stanberry was begun. One of its students who later became a minister was Martin L. Ogren, who attended in 1952.8
Breaks in the "Back to Salem" Movement
The "Back to Salem" movement broke into at least three factions:
1. The original Salem people who stayed at Salem with it as headquarters,
2. Dugger and Severson, who went to Jerusalem,
3. Olson and Groshans, who formed the Seventh Day Church of God in Caldwell, Idaho.
Original Salem Group Continues
Summers, Royer, and Bartholomew stayed with Salem. M.L. Bartholomew preached to a large church in Cleveland. Another Salem church was in Perma, Idaho, where Otis Horne pastored. The group publishes a magazine The Advocate of Truth, which began in February of 1950. On its masthead is the caption, "Come out of her, my people." The Staff in 1971 consisted of9:
Chris W. Royer Editor
John F. Curran Managing Editor
Kenneth C. Summers Associate Editor
M.L. Bartholomew Contributing Editor
Heidi De Long Children's Editor
The 1971 Yearbook of American Churches10 states that the Church of God (Seventh Day) of Salem had an apostolic council which meets bi-yearly in Salem, on the first Sunday in January, and July. Headquarters is at 79 Water Street, Box 328, Salem, West Virginia, 26426. Bartholomew was chairman of the Apostolic Council; Chris W. Royer Secretary; John F. Curran, Sr., Chairman of the Board of Financial Stewards.
Salem is purported to believe that the saints will be raptured to the sea of glass while the seven last plagues will be poured out.11 It differs with the Denver Group in the date for the annual Lord's Supper, following the "Equinox Theory."
The 1960 Census for Salem showed seven churches, nine ministers, and 2,000 members, and also fifteen Sabbath Schools, 100 teachers and 3,000 students.12 Figures for later dates have not been obtained.
Dugger and Severson: On to Jerusalem
In September, 1952, Dugger had just returned to Oregon from an extended trip to Nigeria. There, along with five native ministers and Elder A.C. Olson of Wisconsin, he rode bicycles through the jungles visiting groups of Church of God people. The whole family upon the return had contracted typhoid fever. Everyone recovered through anointing and prayer, except Dugger's wife Effie. Doctors in Portland said she would die. Dugger and his two young daughters prayed all night and Dugger vowed that if God would heal her, he would sell all of his belongings and go to Jerusalem. Dugger recalls, "I had many times definitely felt the urge to go to Jerusalem and publish a paper there, but had made excuses." Effie did recover, and Dugger sold his place in Oregon and took the family to Jerusalem, where he started The Mount Zion Reporter in 1953. His address became P.O. Box 568, Jerusalem, Israel. He reported that his office miraculously survived the 1967 Jew-Arab war.13
Possibly doctrinal issues led to Dugger's exit to Israel. In July, 1950 the Salem Apostolic Council met at Salem and voted the headquarters to be transferred from Jerusalem to Salem. Possibly this was the last straw that broke Dugger with the "Back to Salem" movement.14
Severson reportedly went with Dugger to Jerusalem and later died there.
Dugger's assistant editor on the Reporter was Gordon M. Fauth, his son in law.
In 1960, Dugger established a missionary paper called the Jerusalem Messenger, which reports on activities of ministers in foreign fields that are associated with Dugger.
A traveling evangelist was white-haired A.M. Shoemaker. In Oregon, R.K. Hart of Bandon wrote articles in Dugger's paper, as did Ernest W. Baker of Lakewood, California, Elder J.D. Stewart of Chicago and black Aaron Reid of Brooklyn and V. McIntyre of Mount Vernon, New York.
In foreign fields, these were some of the areas and men Dugger reported:
In Nigeria, Elder R.D. Orukwowu was overseer of many Churches of God which were apparently established in the 1920's as a result of Church of God evangelistic work. Another Nigerian overseer was Elder J.A. Agileb of the Agilebu, Ogba-Ahoada area. A white missionary, Elder Kenneth Oglesby, had been in Ethiopia for 28 years, since 1944. Bishop Samuel M. Fabande and Elder Francis Thuku were in Kenya.
Some of the Indian elders reported in Dugger's Jerusalem Messenger have been: Khamzalang, Thankamloval, Zamkhosem, Douthang, Henngam, K. Isaac, Gindai Thang, Thangkhai, and Ngehpu.
Elder S. Matthews was overseer of a large district in India. A school in India with seventy students was started in 1971 near Pastor Thankamlova's home in Churachandpur, Manipur, India, the headquarters of the Indian work. The Feast of Tabernacles was kept by the Indians.
Numerous churches affiliated with Dugger existed in the West Indies. Apparently Elder William Heuer was overseer of the West Indies in general. In Jamaica, Pastor George S. Thompson was General Overseer. Other Jamaican elders were: McLish, Barton; Mitchell, Salem Town; McFarlene, Hamstead; Reid, Miles End.
Other West Indies workers were Elders: J. Endovique, St. Croix, Virgin Islands; Overseer Hilton Winston, Dominica; Clive Peters, Grenada; Hercules Charles, St. Lucia; Persey St. Ange, Cayenne; Solomon Bramble, St. Vincent; J. Ernest, Dominica; Elder A. Nicholls, Tobago; V. Watson, Trinidad
In the Philippines was Elder Michael Postrers, evangelist of the province of Zamboanga del Norte, and Elder L.G. Cabardo of Leyte. Cabardo reported groups of believers in Hilusig, Makenhas, Baybay, Leyte, Taligi, Abuyog, and also in Satmon.
In Formosa, there was a Church of God group which published a paper in Chinese, "The Holy Spirit Times." This group had originated in Peking over fifty years previously. While editor of the Bible Advocate, Dugger sent tracts to two Sabbath ministers, for them to translate into Chinese. One of them was Elder Pilquist. The Formosa church reported to Dugger that there were one thousand churches in China when they had to flee (1949) to Formosa. A few thousand actually did escape Communist China to Taiwan. In Korea, David G. Beattie was a missionary.
In England, there was a Church of God (Seventh Day) at 83 Raglan Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk, where Elders Hart and Williams presided. They kept the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, and had done so since 1966. Another was Pastor W.D. Robinson, at 12 Ancherton Road, Spark Brook, Birmingham.
Bennie Maxfield, a Negro, led a church in Tulsa called the Branch of Jerusalem, and associated with "The Day Star Foundation of North America."
In Burma was Elder Robin H. Aeia at Kalemyo, Upper Chindwin. The South African overseer was J.J. Kondlo. In Israel, one of Dugger's chief associates in evangelizing among the Jews was Elder Shlomo Hizak.15
Dugger's African trip of 1951 apparently paid off, as many of the churches there supported his efforts. In foreign areas, the appeal of a Church of God headquartered at Jerusalem seemed to be an important element in directing people to Dugger's group.
Dugger's Call for Unity
Dugger apparently did not have any firm organization, because he felt that all Sabbatarian Churches of God should work together. He certainly believed that his work was God's work, and not that he split off from the Church of God. He stated that the 1931 Church of God General Conference passed a resolution by a unanimous vote that the headquarters should be moved back to Jerusalem as soon as conditions there would permit. Those who refused to carry out this resolution, Dugger believed, had separated themselves from the original "Family of Elohim" (name of Old Testament church Dugger used in the masthead of the Mt. Zion Reporter, besides "Messianic Jews" as the name of his followers, as a branch of the ancient true church).16
The "Church of God," Dugger stated, was now represented in all parts of the world with "the same doctrine," with "little differences on some minor points." The Sabbath, Lord's Supper Annually, the Inspired Bible Name for the Church, the Kingdom, the Soon Return of Christ, the Regathering of the Jews preparatory to Armageddon have been common doctrines binding the Church of God together. He implored that members should "refrain from passing judgment (Matt. 7:1-2, Luke 6:37), and . . . in spite of minor differences LOVE ONE ANOTHER."17
Dugger further stated, "Let us all be one. In times like these, all variance and divisions among Sabbath-keepers should be forgotten. All trouble forgiven, and all groups fellowship together, for they are the Father's children if in harmony with Rev. 12:17 and Eph. 3:14 and 15."18
Dugger advised that the seeker for the true church connect himself with the group nearest him that has the right name and keeps the Sabbath, and be a peace maker, not bringing up strife.19
Presumably this meant that Dugger felt all Church of God Sabbath-keepers should work together, and also look to him because Jerusalem, he believed, was the only true headquarters of the church.
Dugger and the Feast Days, Sacred Name, Anglo Israelism
Dugger himself kept the Feast Days, according to the Jewish manner of calculating. However, he said that others do not have to keep them, because Paul stated in Colossians 2 not to let any man judge us for keeping them. In other words, Paul didn't take sides on the Feast Day issue. They not only commemorate days of mighty works for the Jews but also for the church. Therefore, Dugger believed it is not wrong to keep them, and can even be good. In 1972, Dugger kept the feast of Pentecost on Friday (Sivan 6) with his group at Jerusalem.20
Dugger appeared to believe that the Feast Days are not mandatory during this age, because they were nailed to the cross. He felt that they will be kept in the next age, as Zechariah 14:16-17 states.21
In order to appeal more to the Jews, who are offended by the name of Jesus and Christ, Dugger also used Yahshua as a descriptive title of Jesus. This is adhering to the Sacred Names concept, but like the matter of the Feast Days, this was not a cardinal point.22
Regarding Anglo-Israelism, Dugger wrote an article in the March 21, 1949 Bible Advocate from Stanberry entitled, "The Jews' Civilization and Economy." In it he said that all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. He neglected to say who the Ten Tribes were.23
Seventh Day Church of God at Caldwell, Idaho
The third split of the "Back to Salem" group was that of Olson and Groshans, who formed the Seventh Day Church of God in Caldwell, Idaho, in 1954.
Signers of the incorporation of the Seventh Day Church of God in 1954 were Joel Ling, A.C. Olson of Wisconsin (deceased), Paul Groshans of Indiana (not with the movement since 1961), C.W. Ogren and his son M.L. Ogren, and R.A. Schaeffer.24
Doctrinal disputes appeared to be the reason for the new group. Salem allowed a divorced and remarried person to be a credentialed minister (namely, Chris Royer), and Bartholomew said that people sinned every day, while Salem also maintained that a Christian is not born again until the resurrection. These and other points instigated a departure of some from the Salem and the Merger Group organizations. Probably the biggest reason was the one of the Feast Days.
Martin L. Ogren maintained that he, and Salem generally, did keep the Feast Days from 1934 to 1937. He came to a firm belief in the validity of the Feast Days through C.O. Dodd and self-study. He continued to believe in them after Salem stopped observing them. Ogren reported that he had neglected to observe the Feast Days for some years until he began anew in 1954-55. This appears to be the prime reason why the Caldwell Group began.
Background of Ogren
Martin L. Ogren and his parents met Church of God minister J.T. Williamson in Missouri in 1926, where Ogren was baptized (he was re-baptized in 1934). He moved to Idaho in 1938, and was with Salem during the years of division. Ogren became a minister in 1952, having attended Salem's Bible College of the Church of God.
Ogren began the Caldwell church in 1952, and in 1971 there were 47-60 in attendance.25
Groshans of Indiana came from an area that had long observed the Feast Days, but little is yet known of him.
Doctrine of Caldwell
The "40 Doctrinal Points of Faith," adopted on November 4, 1933 at Salem, West Virginia were held to by the Caldwell Group. However, they added a 41st point, the Feast Days.26
Passover is kept on the beginning of Nisan 14, with footwashing. Pentecost is always kept on a Sunday, the other Feast Days kept according to Caldwell's version of the Sacred calendar, which is different than the Jewish Calendar. Unclean meats, alcohol and tobacco, and carnal warfare are forbidden, while tithe-paying, laying on of hands and anointing the sick is practiced. The organization of the 12-70-7 is also practiced, but Ogren admitted his group did not have enough ministers to fill the slate. He was one of the 12, chosen by lot, while Art Schaeffer, also of the 12, was chairman in 1971. Ogren objected to the lot system of the Merger Group, which puts the names not chosen back into the pot.
The Feast of Tabernacles was kept for eight days at a common place. In 1971, it was observed by 125 people at Puget Sound, Washington. In 1972 it was held at a YMCA camp at Lake Wenatchee.
Tithes were paid in tithe envelopes to the local church, where they are used. Full time ministers are salaried, and a Council of Ministers decided what to do with deviant ministers. A ministerial school was in the process of being set up. The church doctrine stated that "no member who teaches a doctrine contrary to any point of our essentials of faith as taught by the body and published through our literature, either by precept or example, shall be considered a member in good standing of this body."
Like Dugger, Ogren believed in fellowshipping with the other Church of God groups. One Sabbath a month the Nampa (Merger Group), Caldwell and Meridian ("Back to Stanberry" Group), churches all met together. "There is only one church," Ogren maintained, but it won't be until the Millennium until they all see eye to eye. He was not out to convert others of the Church of God into keeping the Feast Days. President Robert Coulter of the Merger Group visited him about 1970, proposing that Ogren and his group join with them, and promising that their Feast Day observance could not be hindered. Ogren maintained that some of the Merger Group believe in and keep the Feast Days, but felt he could not conscientiously be a part of a group that teaches against them. Ogren said Dugger kept the Feast Days in Jerusalem, but believed that Jerusalem is the only place of worship. Ogren pointed to John 4:21-24 as a text to prove the opposite. As an acquaintance of Dugger since 1930, Ogren and most of his church helped support Dugger's foreign work.
Associates of the Caldwell Group
The Herald of Truth, the Seventh Day Church of God paper, was started in 1954. Circulation in the early 1970's was about 600, and some 500-1000 members were claimed in the United States. A Spanish minister from Chicago said that there were some 80,000 believers in Mexico. There were supposed to be some forty native ministers in Africa, mostly in Nigeria. They incorporated with the name, Seventh Day Church of God, in 1925, and had been affiliated with Caldwell for 15 years. The Caldwell Group supplied them money and literature for distribution. There were said to be many thousands of black African members, one congregation alone being over a thousand. Elder R.D. Orukwowu, Overseer of Nigeria, wrote letters published in The Herald of Truth.
In America, churches affiliated with Caldwell were:
Wenatchee, Washington, Elder Easterly
Everett, Washington, Elder Art Smith
Maywood, Illinois, Elder J.D. Stewart
Chicago, Illinois (Spanish), Elder Augustus Grenada
Ohio, Elder Roberts
Other writers to The Herald of Truth were27:
Paul A. Dreher Iowa
Elder L.S. Howard Indiana
Elder Hubert Thomas Oklahoma
Elder Joe Moore Oregon
Viola Senn Washington
"Back to Stanberry" Group
Perhaps the major departure from the Merger Group took place in 1950-51. At Meridian, Idaho the "Bible Church of God - Seventh Day" was formed by elements formerly of Stanberry that refused to go along with the Merger. In spirit, if not in name, they constituted a "Back to Stanberry" Group.
Philosophy of Local Autonomy
The 1948-49 Merger of the Salem and Stanberry groups "did not unite all of the Church of God. This great disappointment brought additional division, and it even 'mothered' more independent congregations." In the eyes of many, especially some of the former Stanberry churches, the merger showed that the Church of God had made the same mistake the Adventists did in the "schism of 1860" in adopting a "centralized system of government."28 The anti-organization idea, so prevalent in the Church of God in the 1860's, again raised its hoary head, so that the merger was only another futile attempt to bring unity to the church.
Since its formation, many "free" and "independent" Churches of God have existed outside the General Conference organization. Their idea is that "the first step away from the faith of Jesus in the early days of this Gospel age was the path of wrong government. The simple eldership in the local church soon gave way to a presiding elder and later a president, then a bishop over several congregations, and then we know the results - the apostasy." The "free" churches sought to recapture the "Biblical church" in both worship and government. They voluntarily cooperated in missionary projects. With no headquarters machinery, they could devote themselves to the sole purpose of preaching the Gospel. Christ is the only authority they were subject to.29
Elder Frank M. Walker said, the Church of God is united - under Christ. Christ is the "only ONE HEAD" of the Church, and the record of membership is kept in heaven, Hebrews 12:23, Philippians 4:3, Revelation 3:5. Walker stated:
Jesus did not establish any such thing as we now know as a general organization in the church . . . . There is no divine authority in the New Testament Scriptures for any general organization to direct and control the activities of the local assemblies of the church in general . . . the Book of Acts gives us a picture of real unity under Christ without any general organization such as we know today. Yes, they had unity with 'Local Autonomy' or congregational government.30
Elder Robert A. Barnes summed up the idea of local autonomy with his Harry Truman-like bluntness: "I'll let no man or group tell me what to preach."31 If all the Churches of God (Seventh Day) believed alike, there would be no objections to a central form of government. The local autonomy idea seems to be a cover so individual ministers can preach the doctrines that they want to preach.
The Meats Issue
The doctrine of abstaining from unclean meats has long been an issue of dispute in the Church of God. A "Seventh Day Baptist" church on the South Fork of the Hughes River in West Virginia which existed in the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s was looked upon as somewhat of an oddity. This church termed itself "the Church of Christ," observed the Passover once a year, was governed by the elders, and forbade the use of unclean meats.32
The Whites for some time, until the early 1860's, believed pork could be eaten. Carver states he always opposed its use. Apparently the use of unclean meats was not a firm doctrine in the early Seventh Day Church of God. Some did speak out against its use in the pages of the Advocate.
In 1908, the editors of the Advocate (A.F. Dugger and Jacob Brinkerhoff) stated that they did not eat pork, but said other brethren did. Brinkerhoff wrote in 1911, "on the subject of Food we must be lenient with those who do not see the matter as we do."33
In the eyes of the pork eaters, those in the Church of God who forbade its use were mainly former Seventh-Day Adventists, or influenced by their views.34 Ostensibly, the split of 1933 resulted largely over doctrinal issues, such as clean and unclean meats. Dugger of the Salem Group opposed pork while Marrs of Stanberry approved its use. During the years preceding the merger, many Stanberry ministers came around to the anti-pork position, and the Merger Constitution included an anti-pork provision, copied from the Old Salem forty articles of belief.
Those who had not changed their ideas and still held to usage of pork were for the Merger, but against the Merger Constitution which was made a test of faith. A minister who believed pork was all right would not get credentialed by the Merger Group. Before the 1933 split, pork or no pork was not a test. As Clair W. Ahlborn states, issues like this were "handled in Christian love."35 Now it was being insisted upon. This almost guaranteed the failure of complete unification.
The Organization Issue
Salem had been organized with the "Bible numbers" of 12, 7 and 70. Stanberry was not so tightly organized. It had a committee of seven. The Merger Constitution was almost a carbon copy of the Old Salem articles, and carried over the tight organization with the 12-7-70. The "local autonomy" people did not support this type of organization.
Formation of Meridian Group
A.H. Stith and several other staunch pork eaters voted for the merger, because they were for unity, but their revulsion to the Merger Constitution led them to break away and in effect formulate a "Back to Stanberry" movement.
. . . several of the ministers and members of the former Stanberry General Conference could not accept the compromise in doctrine and practice that their church had made, forsaking the principles so dear to the members of God's Church. They had remained faithful to congregational government and other Biblical truths when the division came in 1933, they reasoned that now was not the time to forsake those same principles and truths.
A meeting at Meridian, Idaho was called during the summer of 1950 which resulted in the organizing of former Stanberry churches and members across the country that refused to go with the Merger.36 Originally called "Bible Church of God - Seventh Day," the name was changed about 1963 to "General Council of the Churches of God - Seventh Day." There was to be no "test of fellowship" for the group except "the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
Organizers of the Movement
A group of ministers from Idaho led the movement from the start. They published a paper, The Acts, and in the first issue, March 1, 1951, stated: "We believe firmly in unity among the Brethren. However, we are convinced that such unity cannot be achieved by a set of rules imposed upon the Brethren by a majority. This is not God's Way . . . we cannot expect to see eye to eye upon all things, for we have not all reached the same spiritual growth. This does not mean that God rejects us. He teaches us unity through tolerance and charity or Christian love . . . . Thus our motto is 'Unity through tolerance and Christian love,' . . . rather than unity through force."37
Clair W. Ahlborn, a former teacher at Spring Vale Academy in Owosso, Michigan and a native of Idaho, was first edit of The Acts. But he was not a real minister and not the leader of the movement. The first officers were:38
General Conference Officers
Mark Burnham, President, Meridian
Nettie Burnham, Secretary, Meridian
Arthur Estep, Vice President, Port Orchard, Washington
Edna Palmer, Treasurer, Kuna, Idaho
A.H. Stith, Meridian
Frank Williamson, Caldwell
James Kling, Nampa
Clair Ahlborn, Meridian
Luvelt Palmer, Kuna
The first camp meeting was held in late June of 1951 at Meridian. Attendance for the evening services ranged from 60 to 200, and there were 250 on the last Sabbath. Those preaching were Elders:39
Edgar Lippincott, Missouri
A.H. Stith, Idaho
M.W. Unzicker, Oregon
Arthur Estep, Washington
Boyd Dowers, Idaho
R.C. Glassford, California
Roy Davison, Idaho
Mark Burnham, Idaho
At the 1952 campmeeting, 144-200 were present. The elders present were:
Harry Ford, Marion
Jack Slankard, Charlie Salkeld, Iowa
Lippincott, Unzicker, Estep, Stith, Ahlborn, Burnham, Idaho
By July of 1952, the Church of God Publishing House, which today houses the press and college, was ready for use.40 Another paper, reporting church news, The Fellowship Herald, was established.
Beliefs of Meridian Group
The Acts (standing for: "Advocating Christ the Savior") magazine contained a brief statement of beliefs, which closed with the statement: "We believe the true church organization taught in the Bible is local autonomy and that the Bible name for the church is THE CHURCH OF GOD. That the test of Christian fellowship is the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."41 Local autonomy and no test of fellowship appeared to be the big difference between Meridian and Denver-Stanberry.
The Meridians came out with the nearest thing to a statement of beliefs, a "Declaration of Things Most Commonly Believed among Us," which they stressed was not a test of fellowship.42
At first, most Meridians ate pork. Later, most of them changed their views to anti-pork. Not all their young men became conscientious objectors, but the church supported the convictions of those who did. "Pentecostalism" of the "spiritual" style rather than speaking in tongues was commonly adhered to. However, Billy Watts of Springfield, Oregon apparently went overboard on this and lost good graces with them.
Mark Burnham, pastor of the Meridian church, and son-in-law of Arvin H. Stith (deceased), said Christians should have "a real experience with the Lord." He said he is saved and that he was working with many young people who want a "born again" experience. Burnham ate pork, and probably got his ideas from his father-in-law Stith.
In 1971, Burnham reported that there were at least seventeen divisions of the Church of God which have come about since the initial split in 1933.43 Actually, there were many more.
Carl Palmer was minister of the Milwaukee, Oregon Church of God, in 1971 which was affiliated with Meridian. He said that there was speaking in tongues in his church, but it was not emphasized. About one third of the ministers spoke in tongues, and the movement had been growing lately. However, he did not do so.44 The Milwaukee church emphasized music.
British-Israelism at Meridian
Frank Walker quit the Merger Group in 1951 because he was against their kind of organization. In 1971, he taught at Meridian's Maranatha College.
Walker's "Anglo Israel" ideas have already been discussed. He estimated that 1/3 to 2/3 of the Meridian group leaned in this direction. Roy Davison (deceased), who worked in Idaho for some time, was a firm believer in Anglo-Israelism. Other believers besides Walker were Claude Ellis and the Palmers.45
The Church of God has long taught that the Jews will be restored to their homeland, and Armageddon will be fought by the Jews and their allies against Russia (Gog) and its allies. The Two-Horned Beast is said to be the Holy Roman Empire, and Babylon the Catholic Church.46
Walker and his father W.K. Walker may have gotten their Anglo-Israel ideas through G.G. Rupert, whom they met in 1913-1914. Walker admitted that he believed a lot like Herbert Armstrong on the Israel Identity question, but he differed in that he thinks the United States is Ephraim, the younger and greater nation. His 32-page pamphlet, "Hope of Israel," explained that the Ten Tribes were never amalgamated back with the Jews, but continued to exist as the Celtic and Teutonic peoples of Europe and America, and elsewhere. They will remain separate until they become one nation, when the two sticks are put together, Ezekiel 37. Joseph is not dead, but he cares for his brethren, (the 5 1/2 million Jews in the United States). Thus, according to Walker, the United States will defend the Jews at Armageddon against Russia, which will be a battle of Israelites versus Gentiles.
Walker was speaker of the Bible Sabbath Association's radio program, "Echoes from Eden," for eleven years, from 1960 to 1971.
Meridian Not The Only True Church
Both Palmer and Walker did not believe theirs is the "true church." Palmer noted that people in his church are baptized into Christ, not into the Church of God. The people in the true church have their names written in heaven, and no organization exists that one must belong to in order to be a true Christian. Walker, in referring to Armstrong's later development of a tight church government, said "Any people that claim to be the only people of God, I am against, because we are all God's children." Palmer worked with the Merger Group people, and had a very broad view of the Church of God.
Differences of opinion must certainly have been rife in the Meridian Group, owing to the nature of their organization. As Clair Ahlborn stated, doctrinal differences, such as pork, were handled the same way the church handled them before the division of 1933, "in Christian love."
The church government of the Meridian Group is highly congregational. Ministers serve "at the pleasure of the membership." Elders are elected by the local congregations, and the churches determine to what extent they would cooperate with the General Council program.47
In 1971, the seven Board of Directors consisted of ministers and laymen48:
Lee Roy Stucker, President
Charles Ward, Vice President
Luvelt B. Palmer, Committeemen
Maranatha College, founded in 1963-64, had 17 students in 1971. There were plans to build a new campus for expansion to 150-200 students, a rather ambitious project. David Gjesdal was director and Frank Walker and Clair Ahlborn teachers.49
Extent of Meridian Group
It is difficult to determine just who is a part of Meridian because it is an association rather than an organization. A "Church Directory" from the 1965 Fellowship Herald50 listed the following churches as constituents:
California Arcata, Fresno, Lodi, Los Angeles, Olivehurst, Pico Rivera
Oregon Coos Bay (Empire), "Harmony" (Junction City), Milwaukee, "Scravel Hill" (Jefferson)
Washington Olympia, Port Orchard, Richland, Toppinish, Wenatchee
Idaho Boise, Emmett, Meridian
Iowa Cedar Rapids, Clio, Davenport, Ottumwa, Muscatine
Michigan Detroit, Newton, Battle Creek
Missouri Buffalo, Easton, El Dorado Springs, Ethel, Maryville, Milan
North Carolina Farmville
Texas Borger, Stinnett
Kansas Pawnee Rock
Canada Langley, Vancouver, B.C.
Early 1970's mention of affiliates to Meridian included:
Richard Chatfield, Maryland Heights (St. Louis) (Remnant Seventh Day Church of God)
William Dornberger, Huntington Beach, California
David Blanke, Sid Sikkema, Lodi, California
Billy Watts, Springfield, Oregon
R.A. Barnes, Harrisburg
Albert Keating, Harmony
David Killgore, Scravel Hill, Oregon
Claude Duwe, Phoenix, Arizona
Arthur Estep, Washington State
Evangelist A. O'Reggio, Washington, D.C.
Martin Ogren of the Caldwell, Idaho, Seventh Day Church of God has been in Meridian papers. Foreign workers mentioned by Meridian publications have been51:
Teofilo A. Donal, Binalonan, Pangasinian, Philippines
A.A. Bryson, Jamaica
Calvin V. Ledger, St. Vincent, West Indies
As for numbers, it is difficult to determine, since the Meridian headquarters kept no records and the association was loose. About 1600-1800 magazines were mailed out monthly.52
Some ministers apparently did not really want any central location or publishing work at all. In 1971, Barnes said he was "going along" with the Meridian group, but he believed they had gone overboard on the idea of local autonomy. "It won't work," he stated. Yet Barnes was the most esteemed minister of the Idaho group and the oldest, for he was being given the privilege of giving the opening sermon at each year's camp meeting.53 Frank Walker went along with them, but because of his British-Israel ideas he had plans for doing things on his own as well.
The "Missouri Conference of the Church of God (Old Time)" was apparently organized in 1951, as its 13th annual campmeeting was held at Milan, Missouri in 1964. Leaders then were Edgar Lippincott and Keith Siddens. It appeared to be affiliated with Meridian, but incorporated separately.54
For a time, the "River Road Church of God" of Eugene, Oregon associated with the Meridian Group. It originated from a division of the Radio Church of God congregation in Eugene, and was led by Elders Emil Heibel and J.O. Spires. Because of their Feast Day observance, the alliance with Meridian was transitory.55
Un-Denominational Split: The Ultimate Trip56
Splits for local autonomy, splits for feast day observance, splits for this and splits for that: the Church of God (Seventh Day) in recent years came to a full circle when there developed a non-denominational movement, the ultimate split of all.
In late 1943, correspondence between a few Sabbath-keepers of different beliefs and affiliations led to a self-appointed Committee of Six. In early 1944 this committee sought to ascertain if there was enough interest in an un-denominational organization for promoting the Sabbath. Circular letters were sent to many known Sabbath-keepers, which resulted in the establishment of the Bible Sabbath Association at Fairview, Oklahoma in 1945. One of the leaders in the movement was Church of God (Seventh Day) member, Lawrence Burrell of Fairview. Its founder was the late George Main, a Seventh Day Baptist.
In 1949, a paper, The Sabbath Sentinel, was established. Since 1962, it has been published by the Bible Advocate Press in Stanberry, which later moved to Denver.
Some of the Bible Sabbath Association's aims were to restore the true Sabbath worldwide, repeal all existing Sunday "Blue Laws," oppose adoption of a World Calendar (already adopted in Sweden) which would upset the weekly cycle. It published tracts for the Sabbath, Sabbath calendars and localized sunset tables, and the Directory of Sabbath Observing Organizations. It also supported a radio broadcast, "Echoes From Eden," with Bob Rogers, which was heard on eight stations across the United States. Elder Frank Walker of the Meridian Group was the radio speaker from 1960 to 1971. The following served in various posts:
Eugene Lincoln, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Editor
Terril D. Litterll, Nevada, Missouri, President, Associate Editor
Frank M. Walker, Meridian, Idaho
Edgar Lippincott, Stanberry
Lawrence Burrell, Fairview
Ruby C. Babcock, Editor Emeritus
There was a separately incorporated Bible Sabbath Association in New Zealand.
Beliefs of the Bible Sabbath Association
The Bible Sabbath Association is held to be strictly un-denominational and non-sectarian. The Directory of Sabbath Observing Organizations was sent to those interested in affiliating themselves with a church, but was not offered unless someone asked for it.
Succinctly stated, its whole purpose was to promote Sabbath observance, for "None who are directors of the Bible Sabbath Association intend to turn the association into a church; The Bible Sabbath Association was founded upon the principle of various Sabbatarian groups WORKING TOGETHER."57
Supposedly nonsectarian, the Bible Sabbath Association does take a side on the issue of Feast Days: they are held to be done away, as "shadows of good things to come."58
Significance of the Bible Sabbath Association
Of minor importance as far as numbers, the key significance of the Bible Sabbath Association is that it keeps alive the principles of local autonomy and "working together" among independent Sabbath groups. By publishing and publicizing the smaller splinter groups of Sabbatarians, the Bible Sabbath Association serves to perpetuate them. It also definitely helps the historian attempting to keep track of these small groups.
Merger Group Continues
Having carried on the story of the splits and divisions following the 1948-49 Merger of the Church of God, there remains the story of the Merger Group itself. Without at first a background of the post-Merger splits, one would have a distorted picture of Church of God history. The Merger Group, also known as the Denver Group, contained the largest number of Church of God people today, but it would be inaccurate to describe it as the only significant Church of God center, as the foregoing has shown.
Worldwide Trips to Unite Church of God Efforts
As reported earlier, Burt Marrs traveled to Jamaica, Trinidad and Mexico in 1950. Also Elder Charles E. Adams went to Africa in 1951 and stayed almost a year, and then went on to India and the Philippines.
Before leaving Nigeria, Elder Adams organized a board of seven men, with Elder Tikili as chairman. In 1953, he toured the Caribbean Islands. In the meantime, Elder E.A. Straub, chairman of the General Conference, made an extended tour of the United States and Canada, in order to stem the "Back to Salem" movement.
Elder A.N. Dugger and Elder A.C. Olson toured Nigeria in 1951-52, apparently for the same reason: to garner the foreign work under their particular organization.
Also in 1951, Elder Charles J. Ellis of Jamaica spent several months in America, and attended the Red Rocks Church of God campmeeting of 1951, near Denver.59
Canadian Churches Dedicated
In June of 1952 a church building was dedicated at Nipawin, Saskatchewan, with Elders Pete Hrenyk, R.C. Moldenhauer and John Kiesz present. The following July another building was dedicated at Calgary, with guest ministers Charles E. Adams, E.A. Straub and John Kiesz.60
New Developments, 1952-1955
Dr. A.L. Carlin of California moved to Stanberry in 1952. Besides teaching at Midwest Bible College, he served as town doctor.
Elder Floyd Merriam, as head of the Home Missions Department, in 1953 with the help of others prepared the Searchlight Bible Correspondence Course and the Membership Instruction Course. Elder Kiesz with his Committee prepared a Personal Evangelism Handbook.
In accordance with the 1949 Merger Constitution, property was secured in Denver, at 1510 Cook Street, to be used as church headquarters and conference building. The first General Conference and campmeeting held in Denver was at the Assembly of God Campmeeting Grounds in August of 1953 or 1954. It continued to be held there bi-annually for many years.
Shortly thereafter, a Church of God radio program was instituted, "Faith for Our Time," and Elder K.H. Freeman of West Virginia became its speaker, serving for many years, until replaced by Ray L. Straub in 1972. In 1973 the program was going out on 32 stations in 18 states.
In 1953, Elder Clayton L. Faubion replaced Ray Benight as editor, serving until 1956.
Also in 1953, Midwest Bible College had its first graduating class, (it is basically a two-year institution for men, although a few women attend for Biblical Foundation courses.) The first graduates were Haskell Hawkins and Robert Harris. Elder Burt F. Marrs (died 1956) became its director.
In 1955 a young minister named Carl Stacey was killed in an auto accident while visiting in Bakersfield. He was a member of the Executive Board and pastor of the Los Angeles church at his death.61
Church Development, 1956-1959
A new church building was completed in 1956 at Grand Junction, Colorado, where John Kiesz was pastor. Also that year, Max Morrow, Deloris Forkel, Lyle Schueler, Claretta Ling and Nelson Caswell graduated from college. The following year Morrow became office editor of the Advocate while Charles E. Adams replaced Clayton Faubion as editor of the Advocate and the Harvest Field Messenger.
In 1958, Elder K.C. Walker became Director of the college, and the Stockton, California church building was secured. Elder Ivan Harlan pastored Lodi and Stockton at the time.
Adams lasted only a year as editor, resigning in 1957 at the Denver campmeeting, with the idea of going to New Zealand and Australia. The new officers were: Horace Munro, Editor, K.C. Walker, Assistant Editor, Max Morrow, Office Editor (in 1959, he became Editor).
In 1959 there was launched a "Free Tract" program in which tracts were given away free, instead of having a charge as in the past. Financing for this program came from a special fund for which offerings were taken by local churches. Men who died during these years were62: Elder Otto Haeber, 1958 at Hawthorne, California; A.S. Christenson, 1959; Roy Davison, 1959.
"Facts of Our Faith" Split from Merger Group
Charles Adams, head of the Home Missions Department of the Merger Group, headed a "Layman's Research Committee" of Seven Men in 1958 and 1959 which sought to reform the church from within. The object was to put the control of the church back in the hands of the laymembers, not the ministers. One of these members was Ed Blenis of McKenzie River, Oregon. Possibly others were Roy Marrs and Wilbur Dornberger.
Apparently the movement affected about a third of the entire church, but the Ministerial Council got wind of the development and nixed the idea. At the 1959 Conference, the Laymen's petition was not even allowed to be read before the conference meeting, consisting of 475-500 delegates. They in the end received only seventeen votes, and still later only eleven.
Churches in Denver and Los Angeles separated from the Merger Group, but in 1972 only the church in Los Angeles was left. There, Roy A. Marrs headed the "Church of God, Sabbatarian" at Torrance, California, which published, free of price, the Facts of our Faith magazine. Apparently, he had a radio program as well. His associate was Elder Wilbur C. Dornberger of Huntington Beach.
Elder E.A. Straub was President of the General Conference at the time, and says there were no real issues for the split. The Layman's Group asked Twenty Why's, but these were based on false information of the condition of the church. They still believed in the Merger Group's principles, and did not fellowship with Meridian. Roy Marrs sent his daughter to Stanberry for college, and Straub felt that they would eventually come back to the Merger Group, once the older generation passed on.63
1960-1962: Church of God Continues
In 1960 a new church building was erected in Bloomington, California, where Elder Trinidad Padilla was pastor. He was a former Roman Catholic, and was responsible for bringing more than fifty of his relatives out of Catholicism into the Church of God. Bloomington attendance at that time was over a hundred.
Youth Camps began to be held at this time, at campgrounds owned by other denominations. In 1961, one was held at North Silver Creek Falls, Oregon. Elder Ray Straub reported many young people "began to pray loudly and groaned for the filling of the Spirit of God," in a revival meeting. Some twenty-six youths were baptized on the last Sabbath of the meeting.
In 1961, K.H. Freeman was Conference Chairman.
From 1949-1961, it was the practice of the Merger Group to hold the campmeeting and General Conference sessions in Denver every odd-numbered year. In 1962, though, the Central States Districts held a meeting near Dover, Oklahoma instead of Stanberry, on some land that had been recently purchased by the Church.
At the Ministerial Council, held at October 30, 1962, there were forty credentialed ministers and five licensed ministers from the United States, plus one credentialed minister from Canada and one from Mexico. Two doctrinal positions were approved.64
Centennial Celebration - 1963
The Hope of Israel began in August of 1863, and thus in August of 1963, a special centennial issue of the Bible Advocate was published, which contained a number of historical items, excerpts from older issues, a list of editors from 1863 to 1963, some twenty-five in all, and an analysis of Church of God doctrine through the years.
Ministers in 1963 and their locations were as follows65:
1. Augustine Adams, California
2. J.D. Bagwell, Alabama
3. Ray E. Benight, Idaho
4. Carl Bentz, Idaho
5. E. Barnal, Texas
6. Garland Brunson, West Virginia
7. Hugh Butrick, Oklahoma
8. Julian Camero, Michigan
9. Noah Camero, Minnesota
10. Nelson Caswell, Michigan
11. L.L. Christenson, Missouri
12. T.U. Conner, New York
13. Robert Coulter, Michigan
14. Archie B. Craig, Colorado
15. Floyd Craig, Oklahoma
16. James Crane, California
17. Tieman DeWind, Michigan
18. A.F. Dugger, Colorado
19. E. Dugue, Texas
20. Burt Ford, Oklahoma
21. K.H. Freeman, West Virginia
22. Curn Gilchrist, Colorado
23. Israel Haeger, California
24. Rudolph Haffner, Oregon
25. Ivan Harlan, Arkansas
26. Ennis Hawkins, Oklahoma
27. C.J. Heywood, Michigan
28. Peter Hrenyk, Canada
29. Harry Johns, Washington
30. Ross Johnston, Oklahoma
31. S.J. Kauer, Missouri
32. Roy Keim, Michigan
33. Christ Kiesz, South Dakota
34. John Kiesz, Missouri
35. Fred Krumsick, Oklahoma
36. James Kuryluk, Iowa
37. A.E. Lidell, Michigan
38. Clyde Maher, Oklahoma
39. Eric Mathis, New York
40. William McCann, Michigan
41. Reuben Moldenhauer, Canada
42. Max Morrow, Missouri
43. R.C. Moldenhauer, Missouri
44. Deroy McGill, Oregon
45. W.W. McMicken, Florida
46. Horace Munro, Missouri
47. Delvin O'Banion, South Dakota
48. W.H. Olson, District of Columbia
49. Trinidad Padilla, California
50. Vernon Patchan, Wisconsin
51. Roland Peterson, Nebraska
52. Sam Poff, Oklahoma
53. Emmett Presler, Colorado
54. Jesse Rodgers, Arkansas
55. L.I. Rodgers, Arkansas
56. Louis Sanchez, Minnesota
57. Manuel Solis, Texas
58. Archie Stiede, Washington
59. Ray Straub, Oregon
60. Nathan Straub, Oregon
61. E.A. Straub, California
62. Heber Strickland, Maryland
63. Marion Strunk, Oregon
64. Belton Sweet, Texas
65. B.G. Sweet, Texas
66. Melvin Sweet, Texas
67. S.R. Tedrow, Ohio
68. Floyd Turner, Michigan
69. Clifford Tuttle, Missouri
70. K.C. Walker, Texas
71. R.K. Walker, Oklahoma
72. Fred Walter, Oregon
73. O.T. Whitten, Oklahoma
74. C.W. Wilderson, Michigan
75. Victor Youngs, California
Extent of Work - 1963
The Executive Board in 1963 was composed of the following66:
K.H. Freeman, W.H. Olson, Carlos Garcia, Reuben Moldenhauer, Nelson Caswell, K.C. Walker, Floyd Turner, E.A. Straub, Robert Coulter, Trinidad Padilla, Archie Craig
The nine District Overseers were:
1. Robert Coulter, 2. Delvin O'Banion, 3. Ray Straub, 4. E.A. Straub, 5. K.C. Walker, 6. James Kuryluk, 7. John Kiesz, 8. Nelson Caswell, 9. Floyd Turner
General Conference officers in 1963 were:
Robert Coulter, Chairman
Ray Straub, Vice-Chairman
Larry Russell, Secretary-Treasurer
Heads of Departments were:
LeRoy Dais, Publishing
Elden Fischer, Young Peoples
S.J. Kauer, Sabbath School
Emmett Presler, Home Missions
Grover Davis, Foreign Missions
Delvin O'Banion, Ministerial
Dr. A.L. Carlin, Education
From Church of God "United Fund" receipts were the following distributions: 30% Publishing, 20% Home Missions, 20% Ministerial, 15% Foreign Missions, 12% Christian Education (1/2 each to College and High School), 2% Sabbath School, 1% Young People.
In the Foreign Work, Mexico had over 200 ministers, led by brothers Alberto and Carlos Garcia in Mexico City. Other foreign workers were:
Jamaica Charles J. Ellis
British Guiana V.H. Gibbons
Trinidad John Raybourne, Wilfred Saunders, Hubert Weekes
Philippines Benjamin Dingal, E. Peniaredondo, H.C. Rosell
New Zealand F.A. Tonge
India F. Joseph
Germany Helmut Strauss
Nigeria B.I. Tikili
Extent of Work, Circa 1973
Robert Coulter continued to be the Chairman of the General Conference, and Floyd A. Turner the editor of the Bible Advocate and the Harvest Field Messenger. Robert Coulter and S.J. Kauer were the editor's advisors and Ray Straub, L.L. Christenson, K.H. Freeman and Bose Dickens were contributing Editors. Ray L. Straub was speaker of the radio program, "Faith for our Time."
Mead's Handbook of Denominations for 1970 listed the Merger Group with 76 churches and 5,000 members, and the Salem group with only seven churches and 2,000 members.67
The old "Church of God Publishing House," which served from 1908 to 1948 gave way to the newly constructed brick L-shaped building in 1948, which served the Stanberry church, the press and the college. The General Conference offices moved to Denver in 1952. A new headquarters building near Denver was constructed in 1971-72 at a cost of about $195,000. The press was moved into the new complex in March of 1972. In the 13 months since the publishing plant was moved, some half million tracts were printed for the "Free Tract Fund."68
The following were department heads:
LeRoy Dais, Chairman of Publishing Department
Raymond C. Moldenhauer, Home Missions
Reuben Moldenhauer, Foreign Missions
Harvey Fischer, Sabbath Schools
Elden Fischer, Christian Education
Calvin Burrell, Young Peoples
E.A. Straub, Ministerial
Max Morrow, Director, Midwest Bible College
S.J. Kauer, Chief Instructor, Midwest
Numbers and Growth of Merger Group
The Messenger gave Sabbath School (SS) and Sabbath Worship Service (WS) attendance for the churches submitting reports. Combining figures and taking highest amount in each case for 1972 and late 1971 gave the following results69:
Acme 15 15
Calgary 17 17
Bono 33 33
Delaplaine 27 28
Fort Smith 80 85
BRITISH COLUMBIA [Canada]
Mission City 18 18
Bloomington 89 95
Lodi 49 52
North Hollywood 35 38
Ontario 43 45
Sacramento 93 113
San Jose 76
Stockton 83 88
Visalia 20 20
Denver 97 111
Nampa 41 0
Macomb 17 17
Marion 39 41
La Cygne 30 30
Wichita 18 26
Freeland 38 38
Grand Rapids 30
Muskegon 26 30
Owosso 79 86
Petersburg 18 22
West Olive 26 26
St. Paul 59 63
Kansas City 54 65
Stanberry 72 83
St. Joseph 44 57
St. Louis 36 40
Central City 22
Roswell 18 0
Brooklyn 21 22
Manhattan 28 39
Alfred 68 68
Brighton 14 14
Toledo 19 23
Claremore 60 57
Coweta 30 27
Fairview 33 33
Lane 18 18
McAlester 38 43
Oklahoma City 52 60
Shawnee 78 85
Tahlequah 41 40
Tulsa 22 20
Elmira 39 38
Harrisburg 116 140
Marion 106 112
Portland 39 34
White Fox 32 33
Eureka 47 48
Arlington 22 24
Artesia Wells 24
Austin 10 10
Conroe 66 74
Grand Prairie 26 29
Houston 34 41
San Antonio 43 45
Three Rivers 20 19
Spokane 18 18
Tacoma 53 72
Walla Walla 31 31
Moundsville 23 23
New Auburn 53 47
TOTAL (Highest Figure in either case): 3,226
Leading Ministers, 1971
The 1971 biannual conference was held at La Verne, California. Seventy Credentialed Ministers were placed on the Ministerial Council as follows70:
Ray E. Benight K.C. Walker
L.L. Christenson Victor A. Youngs
Burt Ford Jose Desiderio
Israel Haeger Erlo S. Hendricks
Ross Johnston Hermon Champagnie
Roy Keim Thomas J. Madden
Dale G. Lawson Raul Escalante
Clyde Maher Arturo Gonzalez
Ray C. Moldenhauer Jonathan Gonzalez
Vernon Patchen Jesus Martinez
L.I. Rodgers Pedro Martinez
E.S. Straub Benjamin I. Tikili
E. Bernal Wilfred Saunders
Floyd M. Craig Peter Hrenyk
K.H. Freeman Artemio Soto
Rudolph Haffner Helmut Strauss
S.J. Kauer Oscar G. Cockburn
John Kiesz Gersham N. Wallen
Kenneth R. Lawson Alberto Garcia
Jacob S. Miller Bulmaro Gonzalez
Reuben Moldenhauer Lionel Hernandez
Roland Pedersen Joel Martinez
Manuel Solis Aureliano Rodrigues
Spurgeon Tedrow Richard Lindo
Hugh Butrick Andres Leiva
Alex F. Dugger Antonia Vega
Curn A. Gilchrist P. Joseph
Ennis Hawkins Charles J. Ellis
Marvin Keim Rosalio Alonso
W.J. Kuryluk Carlos Garcia
Nathan Lee Lawson J. Encarnacion Gonzalez
John Moldenhauer Zeferino Laureano
Max M. Morrow Jonathan Martinez
Emmett Presler Manuel Rodriguez
Archie M. Stiede Ezequiel C. Barangot
The Executive Board chosen in 1971 were:
Robert Coulter Chairman
Ray Straub Vice-Chairman
Noah Camero A.B. Craig
Delvin O'Banion Melvin Sweet
Floyd Turner Wesley Walker
O.T. Whitten Bose Dickens
Trinidad Padilla W.H. Olson
The United States was divided into six districts as follows:
#1 West Coast Ray Straub
#2 North Central Delvin O'Banion
#3 High Plains Robert Coulter
#4 Southwest K.C. Walker
#5 Southeast (under supervision of Executive Board)
#6 Northeast Melvin Sweet
Canada constituted a seventh district, which was under supervision of the Executive Board, with Wesley Walker representative. The men in charge of the districts were referred to as "overseers."71
In July of 1970 the Bible Advocate was made free, the first time in its 107-year history. The reasons given were to expand the paper to non-members and reach more people. Also in July, Floyd Turner of Owosso, Michigan replaced Noah Camero as editor of the Advocate. Camero had served since 1967.
In October, 1970, the Sabbath School Missionary for youngsters was discontinued and replaced by Footprints magazine. The new teen magazine was Aim. A free home "Searchlight Bible Course" had thirty lessons.
The Church of God (Seventh Day) in Mexico had an estimated 20,000 plus members. On November 8-13, 1971 a ministers meeting was held at Acapulco, attended by over 150 Mexican ministers, and with Robert Coulter and Noah Camero from the United States also attending.
From this meeting, Coulter and Camero went to Guatemala city, headquarters of the Central American work. There they attended the annual Church of God (Seventh Day) council of Central America where 40-50 delegates from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua met from November 17-20, 197172
Elder Antonio Vega of Guatemala was the overseer of the Central American work. He raised up other churches in South America in 1970 when he visited Panama, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. At a meeting on his return it was agreed by the Central American headquarters to send Elder Manuel Soto Lopez on a return trip.73
Vega reported that the Managua, Nicaragua Church of God was spared during the earthquake there, and the United States churches were sending relief supplies to their Latin brethren there.
The General Conference in the United States in 1971 agreed to sponsor Elder Andres Leiva, formerly the overseer in Honduras, to be missionary to Ecuador. He soon established the work in Ecuador, incorporating the Church of God (Seventh Day) there.
In Jamaica there were said to be thirty-eight churches. Elder Thomas Madden was overseer, replacing Elder Charles J. Ellis who died in 1972. Wilfred Saunders of Trinidad was overseer of four churches on that island. Another group, in Nassau, Bahamas, was headed by Joseph S. Garvey.
In 1971, Elder E.A. Straub made a trip to Eastern Europe, where he contacted Sabbath-keepers in Poland and elsewhere that were interested in working with the Church of God. They had only "minor differences" with the Church of God in the United States. Chorzow is the headquarters of the Polish work, led by Brothers Bujok and Wiecek. Straub reported seven to eight Polish churches (60-79 at Chorzow, 85 at Brenna, some in Gdansk, and 85-90 at Bielsko Beala) with 400 members. There were supposed to be 80 members in Czechoslovakia, and others in Romania and Hungary. Elder Helmut Strauss headed the German work.
There was a small work in Norway and in Belgium, where Elder F.C. Ardaen worked.
There was reported rapid growth in England, with some 500-600 members. Elder Erlo S. Hendricks, a black of London, appeared to be the leader. Elder Reed of Manchester reported a church of 80 at Birmingham.
In Nigeria, overseer of the Church of God (Sabbatarian) was Bishop Benjamin I. Tikili of Port Harcourt, River State. Numerous other ministers were mentioned in Messenger reports.
In the Philippines, a Church of God radio program went out in 1972 over DXMB Malaybalay and DXSY Ozamis City. In India, Elder P. Joseph resided in Bhinavaram, Godavari District.
The 1973 biennial conference was held August 10-18 at St. Marys, Ohio. It was probably the first one held east of the Mississippi River. W
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