Columbia, Mo., congregation marks 35th anniversary
By Ewin Barnett
COLUMBIA, Mo.--"He who has many friends has none to spare" is an Arab proverb that George Meeker quoted in his opening comments Aug. 28 at the 35th-anniversary meeting of the Columbia Worldwide Church of God congregation.
Like many congregations of the WCG, the one in this community in central Missouri has seen its share of people leave for other groups in the last half-dozen years.
Local offshoots include the United Church of God, an International Association; the Global Church of God; and the Living Church of God.
St. Louisbased WCG pastor Hal Baird opened the church in 1964, after which it slowly grew in the hometown of the University of Missouri.
Feast-day attendance for the congregation peaked at around 350 in the late 1980s.
The recent meeting, say organizers, was arranged in an effort to permit the members of the offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God to get together and renew their friendships and catch up on old times. Some of the 130 in attendance had traveled hundreds of miles for the function, which included an evening dance and picnic the next day.
Also in attendance was Kenny Walker, who gave the opening prayer and serves the local WCG congregation as an elder.
George Meeker served as WCG pastor in Columbia for several years in the early 1970s. He lives in St. Louis and is pastor of the Global Church of God congregation as well as a member of its council of elders.
The sermon was delivered by Richard Rand, who served as pastor in Columbia for 11 years after Mr. Meeker's administration.
Mr. Rand and his wife, Florence, traveled to Columbia from Florida, where he pastors three congregations of the United Church of God.
"You don't know how heartwarming it is to see all these old friends," Mr. Rand said as he strode to the podium. He devoted his sermon to the topic of friendship among people and between people and God.
The atmosphere was indeed one of friendship among those in attendance. Many had not seen each other in a decade, and many children had grown up in the meanwhile.
At a dance and social later that evening even more Columbia alumni attended to dance and converse away the evening with old friends.
One of them was Rand Millich, who served as Columbia's pastor after Mr. Rand.
Mr. Millich serves brethren in the Living Church of God and made the trip from his home in Athens, Ga., to attend the reunion.
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