Christian Leadership Academy changes focus
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark.--The Christian Leadership Academy changed its tactics for its campaign here Dec. 19. Whereas in a campaign in Joplin, Mo., several weeks ago CLA director Alfred Harrell had spoken on the resurrections and related topics, this time he talked about the Sabbath.
The narrowing of the focus contributed to a "good turnout," Dr. Harrell told The Journal Dec. 28. "We had about 30 people, including 20 new ones. We had Worldwide Church of God people who had just left Worldwide, and we had several Seventh-day Adventist members. As a matter of fact, there were two ministers from the SDA Church."
The CLA, founded in January 1998, conducts planning meetings in Hot Springs and elsewhere to decide how to present a campaign in a targeted city to preach the gospel.
At first Dr. Harrell conducted classes, but the students have graduated to "strategic sessions," he said. He plans the next session for Jan. 9, and an SDA elder has expressed a desire to attend.
"We are also going to have a Seventh Day Baptist minister there, a Church of God (Seventh Day) minister and a United Church of God minister."
During the Russellville campaign, a member of the Catholic Church sat on the front row and later told Dr. Harrell he was "convinced that Saturday was the Sabbath," reported Dr. Harrell. "He wanted to know more, to get some more information. He seemed truly interested."
The CLA receives financial and moral support from various Church of God congregations but is not sponsored by any one group.
"We financed the campaign by donations," he said. "We've been able to get enough donations to do the campaigns without having to go into debt or anything. Everything's paid for as we go. I thought everything went well in Russellville. Everyone was excited about it. We didn't encounter any negatives this time."
CLA students who helped with the Russellville campaign include Tim Hall of Jonesboro, Ark., an "independent" Church of God member; Robert and Lorene Hall of Jonesboro, United Church of God members; Danny Akers of Hot Springs, United; and Lee Davis of Little Rock, United.
Dr. Harrell said he changed the focus of the message this time to try to focus on a subject potential participants could agree on.
"One of the things we've decided to do is to dwell on the things we can agree on," he said. "Perhaps we can get more cooperation that way. We want to emphasize what we have in common, not what we don't have in common."
He said that during a visit with Ron Dart of Christian Educational Ministries in Tyler, Texas, Mr. Dart gave him some valuable advice.
"Ron Dart pointed out that sometimes in the Worldwide Church of God we spent so much time talking about what we didn't believe that we didn't talk about what we did believe," said Dr. Harrell. "We're going to dwell on the good news instead of the bad news. The gospel is the good news, and there's a lot to say."
The subject of the next few campaigns will be the Sabbath, but "we're not attacking Sunday-keepers. We're just going in and talking about the Sabbath in a positive way. I think that's what impressed the Catholic member; we didn't attack him or his religion.
"I feel like God inspired the change as far as direction. It just felt good."
Though the theme of the campaign was the Sabbath, its formal name was "A Time for Answers." Dr. Harrell spoke for 70 minutes, then conducted a question-and-answer session for 45 minutes.
"Although the subject was the Sabbath, several issues came up including the holy days, the health laws and the different [Church of God] groups that are in the area. People wanted to know if we were affiliated with any of them. There were a lot of questions that branched into a lot of things we believe.
"Then, after the 45 minutes of questions and answers, we stayed around for another hour talking to people and answering questions."
The CLA's next campaign is scheduled for West Memphis, Ark., Jan. 23. Tentative dates after January include Paducah, Ky., Feb. 20; Little Rock, Ark., March 20; and Tulsa, Okla., April 17. Dr. Harrell said he attended the recent multiChurch of God get-together in Little Rock organized by Ian Hufton of Hawkins, Texas, of the Churches of God Outreach Ministries.
"I made a presentation at the meeting about the CLA and what we were doing, and everyone's excited about it," Dr. Harrell said. "Many people wanted to be on the mailing list and to request a campaign for their area."
To get on the mailing list, write the CLA at P.O. Box 20096, Hot Springs, Ark. 71903, U.S.A. Or call toll-free (888) 776-0002. Or visit the CLA's Web site at www.cl-academy.com. Or E-mail Dr. Harrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We're hearing of some interest out of Canada right now, around Vancouver," said Dr. Harrell, "and also from Austin, Texas. We will probably plan one in Austin soon."
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God