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September - October 2000 The Sabbath Sentinel

The Churches of God Evangelistic Association
A Special BSA Report

Pictures courtesy of Peter Huizar of San Antonio, Texas.

On July 28, 2000, approximately 150 members of various different Church of God groups met for the purpose of establishing dialogue. Their intended goal was to seek out a way for cooperation in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ-the coming Kingdom of God. The conference had been anticipated since late last year, and advertised by this magazine, as well as The Journal of the Churches of God and Servant's News.

The Conference opened with the keynote address by C. Wayne Cole. In the address, he covered the question, "Why must the Gospel of the Kingdom of God be proclaimed to all nations?" Other points covered included the divisiveness of the "doctrine" of the Seven Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 and, in particular, to the brethren who are part of the Church of God Seventh Day.

Dixon Cartwright and Wayne Cole exchange ideas.

Mr. Cole went on to comment on how the group is attempting to pick up the pieces of a disastrous philosophy of leadership caused by a personality driven religion. Some initial suggestions were, that we should be encouraging one another in the various ministries which we have undertaken, and that we should be encouraged to share with each other how we are thus edifying local brethren. In the end, it was agreed on the necessity to allow disagreement on how this project should get done-without being disagreeable.

Next came a presentation about the difference in DNA structure between the peoples of the earth. It was brought out that there is a .03% difference in DNA between the different races and that there is actually greater difference within the races than among them. This presentation was made by Ron Willhoite and Maynard Kappel.

Following the slide presentation was the open topics session, which was conducted by Ken Westby. Various suggestions as to current methods of preaching the gospel were made. The brethren were encouraged to fill in forms with suggestions of their own, or other topics that they would like to bring forward in the meeting.

David Kenders, of Loveland, Colorado, brought out the six points of Matthew 25 in relation to preaching the Gospel. Jeff Henderson, of San Francisco, wondered (rhetorically) about what we can do collectively that we can't do individually. He suggested that a non-organizational web site be created, and that professional guidance be utilized to promote it.

Alan Ruth provides excellent insight into use of the Internet to publish the Good News of the Kingdom.

Ken Riley of Wichita, Kansas, remarked that the advice, which he had received from those he visited, was to be sure not to draw circles to keep people out. Steve Tremble of Tulsa, Oklahoma, noted that we need to learn first, then to do what we have learned, and then finally we will be ready to teach. Arlo Gieselman discussed his efforts at trucker's bible studies and the success he is having there. He went on to discuss having a booth at a local fair, and promoting the Bible Sabbath Association (BSA) while distributing a shirt pocket pamphlet. Allan Burlison of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, noted that we all have a challenge to give hope to those around us. Alfred Harrell of the Christian Leadership Academy (CLA) discussed the opening of a college in Little Rock, Arkansas, this fall with the intent of teaching the brethren how to preach the gospel.

Bill Hicks, of the Church of God, Seventh Day, directed our attention to John 13:35 as a focal point of what we are trying to accomplish. Manny Molinar saw this meeting as a catalyst for a united effort. Terry Post of San Antonio, Texas, suggested that we look for a vehicle that provides a common ground where we can work together. Mr. Post's comments brought the evening session to a close.

With so many good ideas brought out at the open session, it became clear, in order to give everyone a chance to speak, some time limitations would need to be imposed. To the credit of the brethren, most observed those limitations.

The Sabbath started with a presentation, by David Antion, concerning the essential characteristics of the Kingdom of God. He noted that people accept things that are relevant in their lives, and that we need to make the Gospel message relevant. Mr. Antion went on to point out that we cantaste the Kingdom now.

The open session contained presentations by many of the brethren attending. Some recommendations that were offered for consideration were CLA's School of Evangelism, global satellite television programming, funding a non-organizational web site and backing it up with traditional media and a college called Maranatha College. Barnabas Grayson wondered if a full page ad in USA Today would be an option to advertise what we are trying to do. Louis Williams, from the Washington, D.C. area, discussed his own efforts at public access television. Discussion was held as to whether this type of idea could not be incorporated into other local efforts. Also, the idea was presented that those in areas with these capabilities could make available their work for the use of the brethren in other local areas.

On Sunday morning, Lawrence Gregory opened the meeting with a review of the invitation letter sent earlier in the year. He reiterated his desire to participate in an effort to preach the gospel to the world. Then, he concluded with some ideas as to what he considered the obstacles in our path.

Ken Westby was then reintroduced to present a message titled, "Overcoming Obstacles to Proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God." Among the points made was that death is when sinning suddenly stops! ... Christ outlined the specifics of our task and gave us awareness of our challenges; we also need to be well thought out in our attempt to do what we know is our mission.

Break-time at the Conference-just a few of those in attendance!

Mr. Westby went on to note that we, ourselves, are one huge obstacle to preaching the Gospel. Mention was made that Paul followed the lead of the Holy Spirit and so should we.

Lawrence Gregory then had the floor to conduct the final open session. As the Conference close loomed ever closer, decisions needed to be made. Last minute comments were made. A suggestion was made that we needed to come away from the Conference with something concrete in hand that we could build on.

It was suggested that two things should be done, if we agreed that an association of brethren was going to be developed. The first thing was that a mission statement needed to be developed. Part of that mission statement was to give the tool a name. It was decided that the new association would be named "Churches of God Evangelistic Association"

The mission statement was then constructed. Amazingly, it took only 15 minutes to hammer out the statement and its few details. The Mission Statement agreed to was: "The purpose of the Churches of God Evangelistic Association is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, and make disciples of all Nations." The Conference quickly agreed to this statement.

Finally, an interim board to put flesh on the bones had to be formed. Many members were suggested. However, in the end, the consensus was that Lawrence Gregory should choose men to help him create a Constitution and necessary Bylaws and to report back to the attendees when something concrete was decided.

The interim ad-hoc board selected by Lawrence Gregory was Royce Mitchell, Alfred Harrell, Lawrence Gregory and Allan Burlison. The advisory committee selected to assist this effort was George Crow, Wayne Cole, David Antion, Ken Westby and Bill Hicks.

The meeting adjourned in true Church of God style -- fifteen minutes late. At the time of the writing of this article, the ad-hoc committee has met via phone conference once and met personally on August 13, 2000, in Dallas Texas. The committee expects to have a finished platform ready to set officers by November 2000. Lawrence Gregory reports that there have been many calls and complements on this effort.

Editorial Note: The Constitution and By-laws were approved by the initial formation and advisory committees and have been sent to the brethren who attended the Tulsa Conference. At this point four interim officers have been elected. They are: President-Lawrence Gregory; Vice President- Alfred Harrell; Secretary/Treasurer-Royce Mitchell, Jr.; Parliamentarian-Allan Burlison. Monthly updates are planned while the Association continues to build toward its stated goal.

Stay tuned for more!


September - October 2000 The Sabbath Sentinel