Associate pastor makes conciliatory remarks
By Dixon Cartwright
GILMER, Texas--The associate pastor of a United Church of God congregation, during remarks from the lectern during Sabbath services here Feb. 16, advised the brethren to "bury the hatchet" with members of the independent Church of God Big Sandy, which meets 15 miles southwest of here.
Associate Pastor Frank McCrady Jr. of Gladewater, Texas, spoke about the split in the Big Sandy church on May 9, 1998, that resulted in two congregations: the United Church of God, which meets in Gilmer, and the Church of God Big Sandy.
Roy Holladay of Hawkins, Texas, pastors the Gilmer group. Dave Havir of Big Sandy pastors the church in his city of residence.
"I understand there have been hurt feelings among the brethren here and among some of the brethren over there," said Mr. McCrady, who made his remarks during an announcement about a benefit concert for a local charity that was to take place a week later in the building owned by the Big Sandy congregation.
Members of both groups, and members of the general public, on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 23, presented a concert to raise money for the Big Sandy Museum Association, which wants to establish a museum in the old downtown section of Big Sandy.
A UCG elder, Ellis Stewart of Big Sandy, acting as a member of the association, organized the concert. Mr. Stewart had asked Mr. McCrady to make an announcement about it and invite United members to the event.
"You can call them [the brethren in Big Sandy] Havirites or Church of God Big Sandyites," Mr. McCrady continued, "but you'd better call them brethren. Jesus Christ ... died for them just as much as He did for us."
Mr. McCrady spoke a parable:
"The place of safety is the Church of God Big Sandy's building, and you say I can't go over there; I can't stand those people.
"Or let's say we're going to take you to Petra and you're going to have to share the Big Sandy brethren's cave for three and one-half years. How you get along with one another will [determine] what your future is in the Kingdom. Brethren, can we bury those ill feelings?"
Mr. McCrady said he had attended activities with the Big Sandy group.
"Let's love these brethren," he said. "Let's be willing to forgive. Let's associate. I'm going to, God willing. I've been over there; they treat me fine. I don't agree with everything that's been done. That doesn't stop me [from entering] the building. They have potlucks; they taste good."
Mr. McCrady, who at the time of the split in 1998, was a member of the Global Church of God, said that if he were to "look into" the situation that resulted in the split, "I'd almost bet there were mistakes on both sides."
"Let's bury that hatchet, but not in their backs," he said. "Let's put it in the ground somewhere."
The Journal asked Mr. Havir about Mr. McCrady's comments.
"I appreciate Mr. McCrady calling us brethren," said Mr. Havir. "We enjoy it when our brethren in United attend our activities. I hope many come out for the upcoming community event."
The concert seven days after Mr. McCrady's comments was a resounding success, with about 400 people attending. The museum people raised more than $1,000 that evening. Members from the Big Sandy and Gilmer congregations, as well as many other Church of God groups and from the community at large, performed on stage and sat in the audience. (See related article and photos, page 13).
A concertgoer told a writer for The Journal that the show was much more enjoyable than the occasional funeral as an excuse to fellowship with members of other Church of God groups.
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