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Interview with Roderick C. Meredith
Presiding Evangelist of the Global Church of God

by Ewin H. Barnett and Sue Ann Pomicter

An article appeared in In Transition Oct. 28, 1996, under the headline "Global Church Leader Discusses Growth and Challenges Facing GCG." It was based on the following interview, which is reproduced here in full with only light editing of spelling, capitalization and punctuation.

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo.--Dr. Meredith spent the first half of 1996's Feast of Tabernacles at the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks Feast site, where this interview took place. This was our second interview of him. The first took place during last year's Feast at the same location.

Q: What has happened in Global in the last year?

A: We've made a good deal of progress because we have been on television much more than we had at this time last year. Last year we were just starting on WOR [New York] and KCOP in Los Angeles. Now we've been [on] a number of other stations. As you just heard us announce, we're going on WGN [Chicago], which will be broadcast all over these United States coast to coast. So we're very grateful for that.

A number of other ministers have come with us since the last interview. We're grateful for them also. I don't want to name them all lest I forget someone.

Since that time we've had the publication of the American and Britain in Prophesy booklet and other key booklets and information. Our international work has been strengthened. Many additional people have come with us in the Philippines and in other parts of the world who were grateful for the work we are doing.

Q: What is Global's top focus today?

A: Doing the work.

Q: You mentioned going on the Chicago superstation WGN. It was announced that membership has increased by 35 percent during the last year. How is Global growing in Canada, Europe and South America?

A: The growth in Europe has been minimal, although we have grown some there. I don't have a number to give you, but from what I've heard it's been 15 or 20 percent.

We have had new people come with us in South Africa.

Canada has grown a great deal more because of we have gone across Canada on the Vision network. WGN will do for us here what Vision did up there. We have had dozens of new people starting to attend church because of the program. We have had dozens of new people starting to attend church because of the program. We have started many new churches and video groups as a result of the growth of the work in Canada.

Q: Recently Global announced it had borrowed over $1 million. What are the plans for those funds?

A: We're planning to put that money primarily into the work. It will enable us, in other words, to go on WGN, to handle the follow-through from that, and to be able to handle the magazines, the booklets and literature and any new staff that will be required as well.

Q: Are any joint projects or coordination being planned with any other group such as United?

A: Not that I'm aware of.

Q: You have spent some time several months ago addressing conspiracy theories. How has this issue affected the church?

A: We have lost a few dozen people because of that. We're very sorry because I personally know and love some of those people, as a number of our ministers do. Those people got very hooked on conspiracies and certain other ideas, sometimes of their own devising, and made it a divisive issue. We would have been glad if they could have just left it alone and attended church, but they insisted on pushing it on other people. It became a divisive issue, so we're very sorry about that.

The things in that area have calmed down a great deal in the last several weeks. It seems like those people have separated themselves.

As you know, one group sent out a letter saying the "disfellowshipped brethren of Cincinnati, but then they put in their own little blurb about that. They admitted in their own writing that they disfellowshipped themselves. We didn't disfellowship them, they disfellowshipped themselves. Then later, because they began to cause trouble, we did formalize their disfellowshipment. But they took it upon themselves to leave first.

Q: How should Global members should relate to members of other Churches of God?

A: I think it depends on what other Churches of God you are talking about, frankly. Some are more militant or have different types of problems. In general we want to love and respect other Sabbath-keeping people of whatever background.

I think we can have a closer association with some who doing more of the work, preaching more of the truth. There are some who have gone off, who are very militant, who are attacking Worldwide continually and perverting scriptures to show that Mr. Tkach [senior] was "the great man of sin" of 2 Thessalonians, "sitting in the house of God, showing himself that he was God, and performing great signs and lying wonders."

They were not sitting in the house of God that Paul was talking about there in that way at all, and they were not showing themselves as God. Some of those people we want to love and pray for, but we do not necessarily have a lot of contact with people who are that far off.

Q: I want to ask you about those who are part of the stay-at-home Church of God. Why do you think most of them decide to stay at home? Is there any way for Global to address their concerns?

A: We would like very much to reach out to them. We love them. Many of [us] know some of them, and I feel that they are in that situation because of the greatest apostasy among God's true people in hundreds of years that has just taken place. That has caused tremendous confusion, disillusionment, hurt, a sense of betrayal, frustration, and those people are not all monolithic in their thinking.

I have corresponded with a number of them. Some are hurt more over church government. Some are hurt over feeling betrayed doctrinally. Others are hurt over all kinds of things.

We do want to, in any way we can, reach out to them, let them know they are welcome at Global.

The way to find out about us is not to listen to our enemies attack us. As many of the early church-history writers point out, the early true Christians were attacked by virtually everyone. You have to find out, in fact, the history of the early true church by looking at articles and letters and books written against them. That's the only record you have, to know that they were there, by the things written against them.

We urge the stay-at-home people to check us out personally. Come just as visitors. They don't have to commit; they can just [come] as visitors and see what we have.

I have been called a dictator, and a bad guy and a legalist. All they have to do is come and talk to hundreds of our people to disabuse themselves of that idea. They will find that we have been going nearly four years now, and I'm not a dictator, and we are not pushing legalism, which we don't have anyway.

People are basically very happy. We are preaching more of the full truth of God and the way of God, that we all learned for years, than we feel that any other group is doing. We are certainly doing more of the work.

Our brethren are committing our lives to the work in a remarkable way. They will sense that spirit of zeal when they come to Global. So they need to check us out and not listen just to what our enemies are saying.

Q: Some groups in the church elevate the doctrine of government over the written Word of God. Government has been stressed in some of the Global literature. Where do we find the balance?

A: We are finding the balance in Global. If you talk to our ministers and our members, in a vast majority of our churches you will find that most of them are very happy. They are not being dictated to. They don't feel anyone is trying to run their lives at all.

We do feel that we should follow the overwhelming majority of very plain, clear scriptures about government. From the time of Moses appointing captains over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens; King David doing the same thing; Christ appointing His apostles; Paul appointing the evangelists under him--every big example in the Bible is like that, including the indication in the world ahead that King David will be put over Israel once again as king and the same pattern will be carried right on.

People look desperately for one or two little scriptures to somehow get around those great big obvious examples.

The true pattern of God's government: We practice that government in Global. But, as I just exhorted our ministers in this meeting here just before you folks came to interview me, we are to learn to practice, and I am constantly teaching our ministers to practice, servant leadership.

Our whole attitude should be to try to help, to serve, to generally encourage and build up, to teach and train, but to strengthen our members, not to dictate to our members, not to run their lives, not to be on their case, not to stress who is in charge here.

The issue is not who is in charge here. The issue is how can I help you. How can I serve you? How can I teach you the truth? How can I help you get in the Kingdom of God.

Q: In the matter of interracial dating and marriage, is there anything you wish to that you had stated differently?

A: No, I've always made it very clear that we had practiced for 40-some years, going into the homes of brethren of different races, loving them, helping them, praying for them, eating with them, having them in my home for dinner, encouraging all kinds of social fellowship and loving Christian fellowship--but we discourage interracial dating and marriage. Not as a capital sin, but as something that brings a great deal of trouble, frustration, unhappiness and sorrow to the vast majority of people who get in that situation.

Following the clear example in the Bible of Abraham, even though his own household was taught the ways of God, as God says, he sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac of his own people. That is God's way. It is clearly in the Bible.

It is not put as a capital sin. We do not put people out of the church for that. We will have, and have, some interracial marriages and people in that situation in the Global Church. But we feel it's more loving to tell the people about the problems than to let them drift into problems like that without any guidance whatsoever.

Q: So, you're saying that you would perform an interracial marriage if the circumstances were correct?

A: We do not recommend interracial marriage. Our ministers have the option to perform them, and that is up to them. There could be circumstances where some of our ministers do that, I imagine.

Q: How would you respond to somebody who would then say that this is racist?

A: I would say that they themselves simply do not understand God's plan and God's purpose. God clearly, though examples and statements in the Bible, indicates that in this human, physical flesh we are male and female, we are black or white or whatever, and that we ought to emphasize our own strengths and marry within people who share those same strengths.

When I was in England, Muhammad Ali said over the BBC, this interviewer asked him: "A lot of black athletes are getting white wives. Why don't you get yourself a white wife?"

He said, "I want my sons to look like me."

That statement was very well thought out, that's normal, that's right: "I want my sons to look like me." I think people should be taught that.

You see, when they vary greatly, marrying across wide racial lines, they are in one sense repudiating their whole ancestry. They're going to change what their family and their lineage has always been, whether it be black, white, yellow, American Indian, whatever.

Of course some say that there is no sin involved, and often there isn't. The only sin that could be involved, and quite often would be, is if both parents are very knowledgeable and dedicated and perhaps both sets of parents would tell the children, "Don't do that."

In that case, they would be directly breaking the Fifth Commandment. They would be dishonoring their father and their mother by such an action, and that is breaking the Ten Commandments.

Q: Do you have any immediate plans for any management restructuring in Global?

A: No. Not of any consequence.

Q: How do you respond to those who say that Global is not for them?

A: They need to prove it by coming to meet with us and giving us a chance to show them what we are rather than listen to unsubstantiated accusations from others. They should judge us by our fruits. I think that is very important for any fair-minded person to consider.

The second thing: Mr. Armstrong always said you could tell how much people's hearts are in the church and with God by how much their hearts are in the work. I think they will be able to ascertain that if they check it out. Everyone who wants to be a part of the Kingdom of God in the future should really want to find out where God's work is being done today.

You would think they would have great interest in getting the facts about where the government of God is being practiced and experienced here and now. Global is where that is being done, I think better than anywhere else on earth.

Read another In Transition interview of Dr. Meredith,
from October 1995 (originally headlined "Global Views: IT Interviews Dr. Meredith").

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