Members moving forward with new church that replaces Global
By Mac Overton
The recently formed Church of God, a Christian Fellowship (CGCF) is "doing reasonably well under the circumstances," according to Larry Salyer, director of church administration for the new church, whose central office is in Fort Worth, Texas.
For the moment the office is in Mr. Salyer's home, with Rob Hasanen handling office and media duties.
The church conducted its organizational ministerial conference Oct. 17-19 in a rented Knights of Columbus hall in suburban Fort Worth. It was organized by ministers formerly with the now-defunct Global Church of God.
Jack Hendren, a pastor from Boston, Mass., acted as moderator for the three days of meetings.
The elders made decisions by consensus, Mr. Salyer told The Journal, with proposals written on a board and then edited and refined until agreement was reached.
The Global Church of God had voluntarily entered into a legal process called assignment for the benefit of creditors (similar to bankruptcy) Sept. 17. (See "Court Grants Judgment After Living Member Sues Global," Sept. 19 issue.)
That effectively ended Global as an operating organization, said Raymond McNair of San Diego, Calif., who was chairman of Global and is president of the council of elders of the CGCF.
The new church has 34 elders, about 25 congregations and about 1,000 members around the world.
"Since the end of Global, the brethren in our fellowship have continued to worship together on the Sabbath and at the Feast," Mr. McNair said in a letter to members and other supporters Oct. 22.
"A new corporation was formed in Delaware, temporarily organized under the name Church of God, a Sabbath Fellowship."
The 22 elders who attended the October meeting in Fort Worth decided to change the name, said Mr. Salyer. The change came about because of concerns that the phrase "a Sabbath fellowship" might imply that the church valued the Sabbath more than God's other laws.
"In some areas of the world, Sabbath would elicit a response that the fellowship was a cult," Mr. McNair said. "The ministry agreed to retain the word fellowship in the hope that we would all see ourselves as builders of bridges rather than walls."
The church is registered in several states, including Texas. During the transition from Global to the CGCF, former Global elder Harold Smith had set up a separate corporation in the state of Washington and plans to remain independent but cooperative with the CGCF, said Mr. Salyer.
Branches of the fellowship in other countries may operate under different names.
"For example, our brethren in Britain still operate as the Global Church of God, which is a British company entirely distinct from Global in America," he said, "and in Australia the church is registered as the Church of God, a Global Organization."
Tapes and a magazine
The new church has an audiotape program and a Bible-reading program published on the Internet. It plans to launch a magazine, beginning with electronic publication in the United States, to be printed later in some foreign areas.
It broadcasts weekly Sabbath services via the Internet. The schedule is available on the church's Web site.
The church's mailing list is "not up fully," said Mr. Salyer. "Addresses on tithe-and-offering envelopes and from all other contact sources are being used to develop a new database."
Of the church's 34 elders, 14 are employed full time by the church. Twelve elder employees reside in the United States and two in Belgium.
"The church is operating with a skeleton staff," said Mr. Salyer.
Rob Carrico of Santee, Calif., serves as Webmaster and computer coordinator, working with Mr. Hasanen. Mr. Carrico is a ministerial trainee in the San Diego area (which until recently was the location of Global's headquarters). Tom Robinson, based in St. Louis, Mo., is associate editor of publications and a ministerial trainee.
Mr. Salyer's duties, besides serving on the board, include directing church administration and pastoring the Fort Worth congregation.
Besides developing new publications, the church, he said, hopes to buy "intellectual property"--copyrighted material such as booklets and articles belonging to Global--when Global's assets are auctioned off. "It may be cheaper to purchase them than to reproduce certain material such as basic booklets," he said.
No date for such an auction has been set by the trustee in charge of the assignment for the benefit of creditors.
The mission of the church
The elders adopted a mission statement at the October conference: "The mission of the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship, is by teaching and example to fulfill the purpose of Christ's ministry as stated in Ephesians 4:11-13 and to share God's Truth with others as He grants us ability (Matthew 28:19-20)."
The conference delegates decided to form a council made up of the current elders of the church, with Mr. McNair as president of this "spiritual-decision-making group," Mr. Salyer said.
Six elders--three paid, three unpaid--serve as the corporate board of directors, making operational decisions. They are Mr. Salyer; George Meeker of St. Louis; Rex Sexton of Portland, Ore.; Rick Railston of Yakima, Wash.; Rob Barnett of Canberra, Australia; and Rick Stafford of Portland.
One pair of paid and unpaid elders will rotate out each year. Mr. Hendren is managing director of business operations.
Mr. McNair said the church plans to locate its ministry strategically within the United States to better serve everyone as God makes the need clear.
"We intend to live within the income God provides and expand operations only as He makes that possible," Mr. McNair said, "and we plan to provide print and electronic materials to members, prospective members and others around the world as part of fulfilling our mission.
"We will work together as one body open to all Christians who are unified in doctrine, practice and mission."
The church is just getting its feet on the ground, said Mr. Salyer, "but we have started to move forward. We believe God will bless our efforts as we collectively yield ourselves into His hands."
Contact the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship, at P.O. Box 161698, Fort Worth, Texas 76137, U.S.A. Visit the CGCF on the Web at www.cgcf.org.
Call (817) 306-5353 for more information about the Fort Worth and other congregations' meeting times and locations.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God