CESNUR's Collection of Documents on the Schism in the Global Church of God (November 1998) and the birth of a new "Armstrongite" church, The Living Church of God. Back to Dr. Massimo Introvigne's Introduction.
Schism in the Global Church of God: Dr. Roderick C. Meredith 's "Special Emergency Letter" (November 21, 1998)
November 21, 1998
Dear Brethren In Christ,
Greetings from San Diego!
This is a special emergency letter, so read it very carefully. You will want to go over this letter and pray and FAST about it. For SATAN is now striking directly at the Global Church of God and at me personally!
First of all, thank you again for your kind expressions of love and loyalty to me during and since the Feast. The outpouring of enthusiasm for 'doing the Work' - and for my leadership -was most encouraging and inspiring. I know that the large majority of you brethren are 'Philadelphians' (Rev. 3:7-8). Your heart is in doing a real Work. Your heart is in preserving and teaching the full Truth. And you do believe in God's form of Church Government which was explained to us so carefully by Herbert W. Armstrong.
As most of you know, the Global Church of God was founded - under Christ's leadership - essentially by me and my wife, Sheryl, assisted by Mr. Don Davis. In the last two weeks of December 1992, others began to come with us. We had an informal Sabbath service in my home on December 26, with 19 present, including children. Then, on January 2, 1993, we conducted our first official Sabbath service in the recreation room of a large condominium complex managed by Don Davis. We only had 42 people in attendance. For approximately the first two months no other full time ministers had yet joined us in this effort. So, at age 62, I had to 'step out in faith' to form the Global Church of God. As many of you know, the living Jesus Christ guided circumstances so that I was literally 'pushed' to start this Work. After learning of the increasingly apostate movement in our former association, I had been praying fervently and fasting twice a month for God to make it absolutely clear to me what He wanted me to do. Finally, in December 1992, Christ did reveal it very clearly to me. I was told that I was going to be forcibly retired whether I wanted to be or not. And it was made clear that in retirement I was to do'nothing' - not even visit or anoint the sick (which I had requested to do) or write an occasional article. Brethren, the timing of all this was very significant. Yet it was out of my control, for I was certainly not 'trying' to get retired. This assault on my ministry came exactly 40 years after my ordination as an Evangelist in December 1952. And strikingly, the official beginning of Global at our first service was seven years to the month from Mr. Armstrong's death in 1986! Most of you know the significance of those numbers, so I won't elaborate further on that except to say that I am positive that all of this was done with Christ's Divine guidance and blessing.
For about the first three years, Global grew and grew in size and in the impact of the Work. We all rejoiced in God's blessing and guidance. But other ministers came with us and were being added to the Board of the Church and to the Council of Elders. As time went along, some of the Board and Council members began to talk of cutting back on doing the Work of God. As I resisted this, they became more and more presumptuous over the last year. Threats and insinuations made it obvious that if I did not 'go along' with them that they would try to remove me from the Board or Council. In fact, in our September Board meeting, they even - over my objections - removed my wife, Sheryl, from the Board and changed the By-Laws so that they can REMOVE ME not only from the Board or Council, but actually disfellowship me from the Church! This makes it VERY CLEAR where they are headed!
You might ask how could they do all of this? It all goes back to a serious, though innocent, mistake I made at the founding of Global. We had to have an outside attorney draw up the By-Laws governing the Church so that we could operate legally, receive tithes and offerings, and so that you brethren would be able to deduct your contributions from your taxable income. Those By-Laws contained the expression that 'the Board' was to make all decisions regarding hiring, firing and the other administrative and business affairs of the corporation. Frankly, brethren, in the midst of hectic day and night telephone calls from many of you who came early on, with the need to get new booklets out, get our radio program going, etc., I was so busy that I didn't realize the danger of the way those By-Laws were worded. And, besides, the original Board consisted of the most trusted individuals I knew at that time - my wife and me and Mr. Davis. But, other men came on the Board and the Council - men I have now come to realize had a great deal of personal ambition and a completely different view of how we should conduct the Work of God. So trouble began to brew.
For over the last year or two, some of these men have tried to 'push' me into going completely off WGN - our ONLY major television outlet in the United States! They have directly pushed for a completely different approach to doing the Work - planning to concentrate our efforts on turning inward - NOT striving first of all to go through the 'open doors' that Christ shows Philadelphians will do. I can tell you very definitely, brethren, that this approach would DESTROY the Work of God as we have known it, and would slowly but surely turn us into a kind of 'social club,' thinking only of ourselves. Now, these misguided, but very political individuals are beginning to follow the pattern of those dissidents who tried to unseat Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong back in 1979. Rather than trusting that the Living Christ would guide the one He is using to do His Work (and NOT one advocating direct heresy!), these men are using the new By-Laws which they have devised to try to pressure me to do their will or to 'oust' me if I don't! You would have to experience the atmosphere of profound disrespect, envy, jealously and open HOSTILITY displayed in some of our Council and Board meetings to really grasp the impact of what I am talking about.
Dear brethren, we are being trained at this time to learn and later to administer GOD'S form of government. And as Herbert W. Armstrong explained clearly over and over again, God has virtually ALWAYS worked primarily through one man in leading or guiding any particular phase of His Work down through the ages. All the way from Moses, Samuel, David to Nehemiah, that pattern is clearly shown in the Old Testament. Then, in the New Testament, the overwhelming weight of evidence shows that Christ used Peter, NOT as a 'Pope' - but, as the definite 'Leader' of the original 12 apostles. Then after Acts 15, Peter left the scene and apparently went to the 'lost 10 tribes' of Israel in Northwest Europe and the British Isles. Paul became the obvious and primary leader of the Work to the Gentiles. God even inspired Paul to put this into the very Word of God: 'But on the contrary, when they saw that the Gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the Gospel to the circumcised was to Peter' (Gal. 2:7). Notice that Paul does NOT say that the Gospel to the circumcised was committed 'equally' to all 12 of the original apostles, but rather to Peter! And, again, Paul did NOT write that the Gospel to the Gentiles was given to him and Barnabas, but rather to Paul himself! Certainly, these dedicated men - Peter and Paul - used and supported the others working with them. But at NO TIME did they have a human 'board' of men LACKING FAITH in Christ's leadership to constantly 'second guess' them, thwart their decision to preach the Gospel and even threaten them with dismissal if they didn't cooperate! Frankly, brethren, throughout the Bible, whenever you see a man being used of God -whether by appointment or through circumstances - to raise up or lead a phase of God's Work, that man is 'God's anointed' in that particular function and must be respected as such. Even King Saul of ancient Israel - unrighteous though he was, even to the point of attempting to murder David (I Sam. 19:10) -was respected as God's 'anointed.' So even when David had already been anointed by Samuel as the next King of Israel, he DARED NOT try to harm or overthrow Saul! When David had a perfect opportunity to destroy Saul he told his warriors, 'The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD' (I Sam. 24:6).
These men who have made these threatening political moves and comments toward me seem to have NO FAITH in the Living Christ to lead His Church and remove me if that were ever necessary. Rather, they have decided to use human, carnal political means to get their way and to thwart the one Christ guided to raise up and lead the Global Church of God. This attitude and approach, if it is allowed to continue, will spread like a CANCER through the body of Christ! Increasingly, our meetings have become more like a 'debating society.' Each 'side' has to divide up their constituents and propagandize them before a 'vote' is taken on key issues. That is worldly. That is DAMNABLE! We will NEVER learn to faithfully practice God's form of Government if this continues! Frankly, brethren, since I was 'out voted' anyway, I tried for a while to cooperate and go along with this system for the sake of UNITY in God's Church. Now I see that I was WRONG. I should NOT have gone along with this 'democratic' approach even for the sake of unity. This 'political' approach to government is NEVER advocated in the Bible. It is NOT working because it is not God's way, and it breeds CHAOS and confusion. I have not wanted to fight. But now, I am being FORCED to fight for the Truth - for God's form of Church Government and for us to have the ZEAL to finish the Work! Some of these men on the Board want to 'politicize' this Church and make it like the human governments of this world. Brethren, these carnal practices must CEASE within the body of Christ!
Now, even since I started this letter, a Board meeting was held yesterday, November 20. Although it had been intimated that these men might be willing to put at least one friendly face on the Board, instead they chose to REMOVE Mr. Carl McNair and put in his place a lawyer! I was ASTOUNDED at the effrontery of this most obvious political move! For Carl McNair is one of the most dedicated, balanced and experienced ministers I have ever known. Next, this small cadre of men on the Board voted to remove me from having any authority over the preaching schedule and who is to speak on our headquarters sermon tapes to the Churches and video groups all around the world. Obviously, if they had their way, you would be hearing less and less from the one Christ has used to raise up and lead the Global Church of God. Next, I was told by Larry Salyer that I would not be speaking the next Sabbath, November 21, even though I was already scheduled to speak. Then, they began to call in, one by one, a number of leading employees here - known to be loyal to me - and proceeded to lecture, frighten and/or intimidate them. Has another 'reign of terror' begun?
In addition to the above matter, I have learned - on very good authority - that several 'secret' contacts have been made behind my back with another church fellowship. I find that - though I am still Presiding Evangelist of the Church - I have been intentionally left out and even misled about some of these contacts! This is blatant rebellion and DISLOYALTY against the Founder and President of the Global Church of God!
I could go on with many more details, dear brethren, but I think you get the picture. Therefore, until these disloyal and deceived men back down, or leave, I am asking all of you faithful brethren to send all of your tithes and offerings in care of me to Post Office Box 501304, San Diego, CA 92150-1304. Just put my name 'Roderick C. Meredith,' on the check and then it will be used for the powerful preaching of the Kingdom of God and to maintain our local congregations and video groups. We have already started to incorporate and will see to it as soon as possible that your donations can be deducted from your taxable income as usual. Remember, brethren, Mr. Herbert Armstrong did the same thing when the 'receiver' took over the Church's Pasadena headquarters in 1979. And at that time all the loyal brethren responded enthusiastically and the Work was able to continue. So I ask you in the name of Jesus Christ to do the same thing now! This new (hopefully temporary) mailing address will be placed as a postscript at the bottom of this letter.
In closing, I want to reassure you that most of the ministry stands fully behind me. In their desire to finish the Work that God has called us to do, they want - as I do - to follow the lead of the Living Christ and to practice God's form of government in the spirit of true Servant Leadership. The majority of the Council of Elders backs my leadership. And all of the Regional Pastors save one stand firmly behind me in this effort to 'rescue' the Global Church of God from this small band of rebels on the Board.
I know that most of you, dear brethren, back my leadership. But in all honesty, we must now stand and FIGHT to preserve the Global Church of God! With the majority of the ministry and of you faithful brethren standing with us, surely this puny band of politicians will not be allowed to prevail. So we are NOT alone, brethren! 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Rom 8:31). We must be truly loyal to anyone Jesus Christ places as the human leader of His Church as long as that individual continues to preach the Truth and to do the Work! As the crisis Mr. Armstrong went through in 1979 proved to be beneficial in 'purging' out the dissidents, I am sure that this crisis will further God's PURPOSE in 'sorting out' His people and in determining who will REALLY be loyal to Him and to His Government for all eternity. I love you deeply, brethren, and I thank God continually for the solid 'core' of you people who are truly converted and preparing for a position in the Kingdom of God.
Let us all FAST and pray fervently for God's Work - and for one another - at this critical time. Once Christ sorts out and removes those who have a wrong and rebellious spirit, I am confident that the Work of God can go forward faster than ever. For we will be doing things God's way more than ever! And, as Mr. Armstrong used to say, 'in the end, we WIN'.
Again, it was a joy to see and to be able to preach to about two thousand of you at the recent Feast of Tabernacles. I have worked hard and faithfully to try to serve you brethren as a faithful minister of Jesus Christ. But now I need your help, your prayers and your support more than ever. Please STAND UP and be counted! If you believe that God has used me to establish the Global Church of God and you appreciate what has been done, then please write me a letter of encouragement and support. I need to know that you are with me during this most difficult trial. I NEED your prayers. And I will be looking forward to hearing from you soon.
With Christian love,
Roderick C. Meredith
P.S. Again, brethren, send all mail to me at Post Office Box 501304, San Diego, CA 92150-1304.
[Home Page] [Cos'è il CESNUR] [Biblioteca del CESNUR] [Testi e documenti] [Libri] [Convegni]
[Home Page] [About CESNUR] [CESNUR Library] [Texts & Documents] [Books] [Press Releases] [Conferences]