Gone With The Wind - Or Ready For Takeoff? COGaWA

COGaWA published these canned press releases on the January 10 and 11th conferences today:

January 11, 2011 – The meetings began as Interim Board President Mike Hanisko called upon Kevin Epps for the opening prayer. Mr.Hanisko then announced the result of the ballot for our church name. Of the 118 ballots cast, 78 chose "Church of God, a Worldwide Association," making the temporary name official.
The first presentation of the day was given by Dave Myers on youth camp programs. We don't have a lot of definition yet but we can review the importance of it. One of our core values is to teach our children God's way of life. In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 we find a directive to do this. Additionally, in Luke 9:47-48 we see Christ telling us to receive little children. Receive means "to receive into one's family, to educate."
Numbers 32:24 speaks of a tribe of Israel taking care of its "little ones" and providing "sheepfolds" for its sheep. In a sense, we are taking care of our little ones via our camps. Matthew 18:10 also speaks of not despising (disdaining or thinking little of) "little ones."
Camp is effective because it takes youth away from their normal routines. It puts them in God's creation and away from electronics. We're familiar with the concept of the "Zone" and will continue to provide a godly environment.
We will also continue our pre-teen camp programs. We may be able to use the same location for both a pre-teen camp and a teen camp. Regarding staff, we have 11 trained teen camp directors, seven experienced pre-teen camp directors and two Challenger II directors. We have very talented people and we will take care of our young people. We intend to continue allowing people of other fellowships to attend as space is available.
We will begin with a demographic study to plan locations of camps and to determine the number of teens we will need to serve. The administration will need to appoint an overall Program Director and camp directors. An application process also needs to be developed. While respecting the rights of our previous organization, we have already made calls to find camps and it looks likely that we will have camps in California, Texas, Missouri, in Alabama or Georgia, and in Ohio or Pennsylvania.
Next, David Treybig gave a presentation on developing a literature base. Prior to speaking of possible ways to produce literature, he discussed the importance of reading. Coupling the second commandment that prohibits the worship of idols with Deuteronomy 6:9 which instructed the Israelites to write the commandments on their doorposts, Mr. Treybig said that it is obvious that God expected His people to be literate. True worship of God involves the intellect as opposed to worshipping an image.
Arthur W. Hunt III in his book The Vanishing Word wrote: "The Judeo-Christian heritage, which characteristically has been word-dependent, is contrasted with paganism, which typically has been image-dependent…A church cut from its word-based heritage and a nation stripped of word-based modes of learning do not have the rhetorical or mental resources to guard against despotism" (p. 26).
The importance of reading is also seen in Acts 17 where we note that many of the Bereans believed what they heard from Paul possibly because they "searched the Scriptures daily" (v. 11). Reading disciplines the mind and helps one retain information.
As for producing literature, our organization has many experienced writers and reviewers who know how to work remotely. Many of these talented people have indicated that they are ready to go to work.
Basic, first-contact literature could be produced first and posted online. More in-depth material could then be generated later. And instead of producing multiple booklets on closely related subjects, one booklet could suffice. Since the Internet is so cost effective, this may serve as our primary delivery tool, although we will certainly want some materials in hard copy, too.
Doug Horchak next discussed planning for the Feast of Tabernacles. He noted that Hebrews 11:13 speaks of our vision of the future. We keep the Feast because doing so reminds us that we are strangers and pilgrims here on earth who are convicted of and assured of the coming kingdom of God. We have 20 or more past Feast coordinators.
Last Friday, many of these men here at the conference met to discuss possible locations for observing the Feast. Of course, we will respect the contracts of our previous organization. At this time, we believe we will have four to six sites in the United States. We may also need to provide some satellite locations that receive webcasts of the services.
Starting from scratch is not something any of us like to do but there can be valuable lessons in doing so. In such a situation, we realize that we need to "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33) and that we need to work together in unity.
Andre Van Belkum, from New Zealand, presented the closing address. He began by thanking everyone for the positive, encouraging environment at this conference. He then told a story about a potential aircraft disaster in which the pilot focused on the systems that were functioning and successfully landed the plane. "How can we stay positively focused?" he asked.
The example of the trial the Macedonian churches faced is instructive. Facing this "great trial of affliction," the brethren "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). "First a willing mind" (verse 12) is also of critical importance.
Turning to James 1, Mr. Van Belkum then spoke of having joy when we face difficulties (verse 2) and asking for the wisdom of God (verse 5) to know how to move forward. He also cautioned that we must guard against pride and operate with humility.
The life of Elijah is also instructive. Though Elijah was discouraged, he came to realize that God was all powerful and fully capable of caring for His people. We have talented, capable men and we need to go to work. In Acts 14 we read that Paul was stoned. Yet we see that he rose up and went back to work preaching the gospel (verses 20, 21).
Christ has allowed all that has happened. He knows of this meeting. Let's pray for His direction. If we are faithful, we can be confident that God will finish His work in us (Philippians 1:6).
The conference came to an end with Todd Carey leading everyone in the hymn "All Things Work Together" and Greg Sargent giving a closing prayer. There were 876 English connections and 38 Spanish connections to today's meetings.

January 10, 2011 – Mike Hanisko, president of the temporary Board of Directors opened the meetings at 8:30 a.m. by asking Tom Diaz to lead the group in prayer.
The first order of business was to ballot upon two proposals for selecting the Interim Governance Team. Dave Baker, of the short-term governance committee, walked everyone through the balloting process. He explained that both options presented to the conference would result in the governing body performing the same duties and he provided a new handout that showed this more clearly than the one distributed the previous day. The improved wording came about as a result of discussions in the Sunday breakout sessions with elders.
After explaining the options and the processes involved with each, Mr. Baker invited all elders (both those who had served as salaried elders and non-salaried elders in our previous organization) to mark and turn in their ballots to the interim Secretary's team.
Dave Johnson then updated everyone on the administrative committee's work. "We have attempted to label and categorize the tasks that need to be accomplished by the Interim Leadership Team." Continuing, he informed everyone that the decision has been made that, with a few exceptions because of financial or other limitations, all established policies that existed in our previous organization will remain in effect until changes are made. Those currently working on administrative needs believe we can begin with a virtual office—that is, an operation without a physical building. The temporary board has approved using McNeely and McNeely as our accounting firm.
The committee recommends that each congregation establish a bank account with an Employer Identification Number (EIN). We do not encourage areas to collect tithes locally, but at this point that remains a local option. To begin, we will provide operating funds for congregations on a monthly basis rather than a quarterly basis. Areas that have funds beyond local start-up needs are asked to send them to the central organization.
Additionally, Mr. Johnson announced that we will immediately begin taking care of those relying upon the Church for financial assistance, including people such as widows and retirees from the ministry. A stipend representing a partial salary will be offered to pastors and other formerly salaried ministers who recently resigned or were terminated. Adjustments will be considered for those with special needs. Mileage reimbursement will initially be 25 cents per mile with a maximum of $500 per month. Since there is no Internet technology department to help ministers with computer needs, the committee suggested that ministers contact fellow ministers who have these skills or local members who are able to help. Gary Black will make a directory of ministers who are willing to help others.
As for credentialing elders, Mr. Johnson said that electronic forms will soon be sent to all elders, but the exact process of credentialing must yet be determined by the Interim Governance Team. New ordination certificates will be issued as soon as the credentialing is completed. The administrative team recommends that one person be named to oversee the administrative needs of the ministry and a personal correspondence team. Mr. Johnson also announced that he and others are looking into establishing a corporate email system, gathering congregational data and coordinating special needs services. We also need people to oversee human resources, media efforts, and financial matters he said. Initially, he believes only one or two full time employees will be needed to handle administrative needs.
Bruce Gore, Chairman of the long-term governance committee, updated everyone on the work of this committee. He thanked everyone for the input that has been given, including over 60 papers on this subject that have come from members and ministers. He noted that the papers represented the widest possible range of ideas.
He shared with everyone that the committee plans to offer several options for governance to the organization. If possible, we want to avoid mistakes of the past. Answering the question, "Can you guarantee that this won't happen again?" he said, "No. But we all want to reduce politics and the turnover of administrators. We also want to minimize the amount of balloting." The committee will recommend options for choosing governance that will emphasize choosing leaders based upon spiritual character and that will minimize choosing by name recognition.
Covering a few biblical principles, Mr. Gore pointed out that "able men" who are "men of truth" (Exodus 18:21) need to be selected to provide leadership. Some may be men of character but not have the skills that are needed for a particular job. In closing, he cited Proverbs 29:2 which says, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice." Please continue praying for us that we will find a way to make this happen he said. Ministers then broke into small groups to further discuss governance.
When everyone reconvened, Mike Hanisko announced the results of balloting for the Interim Governance Team. Having given prayerful consideration to both options, 37 elders chose option one and 84 chose option two. Therefore, the men who served on the Temporary Leadership Team and those who served on the Temporary Board now become the Interim Governance Team. Those serving on the Interim Leadership Team are Jim Franks, Doug Horchak, Clyde Kilough, David Register and Richard Thompson. Those serving on the Interim Board are George Evans, Ken Giese, Mike Hanisko, Greg Sargent and Roger West.
Richard Pinelli next addressed the care of congregations. Mr. Pinelli reported that we have 54 pastors and administrators from the United States plus 14 international pastors who have resigned or been fired from our previous organization. He then reviewed biblical passages showing that the ministry should be remunerated so they might give their full attention to pastoral and/or administrative duties. Returning to the men that are with us, he noted that these men have many gifts and abilities ranging from editorial skills to directing summer camps to coordinating Feast sites. They have very ably worn many hats and fulfilled many responsibilities in addition to pastoring. He said that our new organization will need these men to continue doing the work they have previously done.
Of immediate concern, he spoke of the need for pastors to "comfort those who mourn" (Isaiah 61:1-3). Pastors are already in place where many congregations have formed, but in some cases, congregations are coming together where there is no pastor. We are committed to caring for all of the brethren. Some of these congregations may have to initially be connected on the Sabbath via webcasts and phone line connections, but it is our intention to provide each with a pastor as soon as possible.
The afternoon session began with prayer by Jim Haeffele. Jim Franks then gave a presentation on doctrinal integrity. He began by sharing some history of the Sabbatarians in New England. On December 23, 1671, the first Sabbath keeping church was formed with seven people. Eventually, this church became the largest church in Rhode Island with over 2,000 members. The original seven members of the first Sabbath keeping church reluctantly severed their relationship with the Baptist Church because they believed they needed to obey God rather than man. They understood that doctrine is more than belief. Doctrinal integrity also requires acting upon those beliefs.
In 1995 we left our former organization over doctrine. But doctrine apart from conduct is insufficient. In 1995 we noted that if we don't have correct doctrine, we don't have anything and if we don't practice correct doctrine, we also don't have anything. Paul charged Timothy and Titus to give attention to doctrine, to preach doctrine and to practice doctrine. In Matthew 5 we see that Christ taught His followers doctrine. He emphasized that we must practice what we teach. Christ had harsh words for the Pharisees—those who taught the truth but didn't practice it. Everyone fails to practice sound doctrine perfectly, but only by repenting of our sins and living properly can we expect to please God.
Mr. Franks then shared a document establishing our commitment to doctrinal integrity. This includes the following principles:
  1. We commit our support for the 20 fundamental beliefs as developed and approved by the elders in 1995.
  2. We commit to establishing a doctrinal review process for all publications that contain doctrinal material, whether posted on the Internet or printed. This process must involve levels of review and include senior ministers known for their doctrinal integrity.
  3. We commit to establishing a committee for doctrinal oversight, entrusted with the responsibility of resolving doctrinal conflict and answering doctrinal questions from within the organization, among the elders and among the membership.
  4. We commit to providing a process by which any elder or member may submit doctrinal questions and/or material for doctrinal review. This process will provide for several levels of review by senior ministers.
Ken Treybig then gave a presentation on preaching the gospel. We want to assure everyone that we are committed to doing this he said. Continuing, he noted that we must fulfill the commission Christ gave the Church. How we can do this with a smaller group? Perhaps it will have to be done in a measured way, most likely with an Internet focus, but also with print. We can use many strategies including print on demand and videos.
Continuing, Mr. Treybig said that he believes we have just as much passion for doing this as ever. He also noted that in 1995 many of us began working with the development of literature—something that he now has a great zeal for doing. He then shared a story of how a new person learned about the Church via the Internet. Asking how many in room had received contacts from people who found the Church on the web, almost every hand was raised.
Mr. Treybig then explained that a leading marketing firm recently stated that the Internet is the loudest, most pervasive tool available for reaching people. Using biblical symbolism, the Internet is the loudest "trumpet" today. Media expert Steve Rubel predicts that by January 2014 almost all forms of tangible media will either be in sharp decline or completely extinct. Of course, this doesn't mean that print will disappear but it will likely be in decline.
Mr. Treybig then explained that we've been advised to develop one mega portal website through which all of our anticipated websites can operate. We also have many young people who want to get involved. He showed the home page of a potential new website designed by Kelly Cunningham. Additionally, he noted that we can purchase an Internet television channel for $7 a month. He also mentioned that he had learned last week that software is being developed that will translate material into any language—something that could be another great tool for us. In closing, he cited part of 1 Corinthians 9:16 saying, "Woe to us if we don't preach the gospel."
Education programs were next covered by David Register. He began by joking, "I can cover this very quickly. We have none." Continuing, he said, "But we are making plans. At this point, I can confidently report that we expect to have summer camps for our young people." Referring to the Church's commission in Matthew 28:19-20, he explained that making disciples means making someone a student and that we will continue this process, which the Church of God has followed since the first century.
He then referred to Acts 14:21-23 where Paul and Barnabas "made many disciples" and "appointed elders" to continue educating those whom God had called. This was an ongoing, instructive process that begins with a person's calling and continues until a person becomes part of God's family—in other words, from before one becomes fully a member of the Church until the end of that person's life or the return of Christ. He also noted that Daniel 11:32-33 speaks of the people of God instructing many. Reflecting on this, he noted that we have many capable teachers in this room who are anxious to continue.
Balloting for the name of the new organization was then conducted by Jon Pinelli, who outlined the five choices and explained how the list had been narrowed to that number.
Saul Langarica then gave the first of two international reports. On behalf of the ministers in Latin America he thanked everyone for his or her part in organizing this conference. He recalled how the late Herbert Armstrong at times had to put the Church back on track and stated that he believes that we now collectively share this weighty responsibility. Ministers and members in Latin America have been fasting and praying for this conference to occur he said. While some individuals might have timed matters differently, Mr. Langarica said he was personally convinced that this was God's time and the right time.
He stated that he is grateful for the mind of God, the Spirit of God at work in this conference. It was scary to be alone for several months. None of us wanted to be independent. We believe it is a miracle from God for all of us to be together again. He wondered if perhaps God allowed this to help us grow in unity so we can do the work together more powerfully. We are also grateful that God allowed us to continue serving so many brethren in Latin America. Four other ministers from Latin America are here in addition to Mr. Walker. In Latin America, 15 ministers are serving 1900 brethren. He said that his prayer is that we would not have to face this kind of trial again and that God will bless our efforts.
Kambani Banda then gave a report on Zambia. There are seven churches in this country with a regular church attendance of about 210. Three hundred ten attended the 2010 Feast of Tabernacles and 70 attended the youth camp. He gave credit to God for a phenomenal rate of growth in financial income over the past several years. Although the growth was small in actual numbers compared to an area such as the United States, it was a huge percentage of increase. Members from that country asked him to tell the ministers gathered here that voting is not good because it invites politics. At least that is what they have observed in their country. We are all praying for unity he said.
Richard Thompson closed the meeting with prayer. There were 1141 English connections and 48 Spanish connections to today's meetings.
Another suggested name for COGaWA, that didn't make the final cut?
Ambassador Church of Apostolic ThunderJowls Worldwide, a Semi-Retired Association


Anonymous said...

Where did they get their start-up funds?

Stan said...

Good question.

We'll just have to wait and see what information is made public through the usual channels, or what information is intentionally leaked.