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Barnabas Ministries promotes bridge-building among groups

By John Robinson

SAN ANTONIO, Texas--Alan Ruth, founder of Barnabas Ministries, Farmington Hills, Mich., is probably best known for his work in compiling a listing of more than 75 offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God. But his real goal is to build bridges between people and groups.

Mr. Ruth, 33, a former member of the Worldwide Church of God, formed his one-man Barnabas Ministries in 1995 to encourage the accomplishment of four goals: communication, cooperation, caring and Christian growth in the Churches of God.

He was one of the guest speakers during the Jubilee '95 conference, sponsored by Friends of the Sabbath, held here in late December. Between conference sessions, he talked about his efforts.

Mr. Ruth works full time in Detroit as a computer analyst in the electronic-data-interchange department of a utility company. But he devotes a significant part of his free time to promoting communication between Sabbath-keeping individuals and groups.

"Since I'm single, I have a little more time than a lot of people," he said.

He likes to clarify what his ministry is not before talking about what it is. He stresses that it is:

  • Not to build a following or to pull members out of the organized Churches of God.
  • Not to compete with others in the Churches of God for members, money or ministers.
  • Not to promote the merging of Worldwide Church of God split-off groups or other Churches of God to form "one big supergroup."

NOT building an organization

"I am not building an organization which seeks to perpetuate itself at all costs or to be adversarial to those in the churches who are striving to minister to others," he said. "This effort is not so much an organization or group as it is an attitude of promoting and encouraging love, fellowship and service in all the Churches of God.

Mr. Ruth has never been ordained a minister by any group. He quips that "the only hands laid on me have been those that tossed me out of the Worldwide Church of God."

He began attending the WCG in late 1985, and on Feb. 15, 1986, he was baptized by then-pastor of the Detroit East congregation Ed Marrs.

Shortly before the end of 1986 (Dec. 4th), Mr. Ruth was disfellowshipped from the WCG by another minister. Earlier in the year several of his friends were suspended, disfellowshipped or marked. He credits then-WCG pastor Ray Wooten with a significant role in those events.

"I have followed the trials of Mr. Wooten in the UCG and spoke to him at Thanksgiving time in Michigan and here at the Holy Day conference," Mr. Ruth said. "I feel Ray has made the major turn in understanding God's government, primarily because he has experienced hierarchical church government like we brethren have. I look forward to further cooperation with and advertisement of his efforts in the gospel."

More than pay, pray, stay and obey

Mr. Ruth is adamant that being a Christian carries a heavy responsibility.

He said too many who have shared the WCG experience believe they are simply "to pay, pray, stay [in a fellowship] and obey."

In his efforts to minister to and serve others, he notes that "the two traits that have helped me the most have been persistence and a generous sense of humor."

Mr. Ruth, who holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Wayne State University in Detroit, says he encourages brethren to remain in the church or organization in which they are spiritually fed, yet he encourages all to "visit other groups on occasion for Sabbath, Holy Day services, meetings or Bible studies."

"When visiting other fellowships, we should strive to encourage and strengthen our brethren who are fellow members of the Body of Christ," Mr. Ruth said. "Our light of encouragement can shine as an example to those we meet or have contact with."

Mr. Ruth said Barnabas Ministries is named after the New Testament minister first mentioned in Acts 4:36.

"His real name was Joses, but the apostles in Jerusalem called him Barnabas, which means son of consolation or encouragement," Mr. Ruth said. "He was a generous, loving man who served the Churches of God by encouraging and building up his brethren wherever he went.

Began research in 1993

Mr. Ruth's research into WCG offshoots began in January 1993 (he turned 30 on Jan. 15th) when the Global Church of God formed.

"When the GCG formed, I asked myself the simple question: I wonder how many splits there are from Worldwide now.

"Soon after this I created a basic chart of about 30 WCG split groups.

"A minister in the church encouraged me to further research into the splits and gave me the opportunity to present my findings at the Feast of Tabernacles in 1993."

After the Feast, he began to condense his many notes into a research paper about the splits titled "The Worldwide Church of God Splits: Their Triumphs and Troubles."

Mr. Ruth's latest passion is researching how to use the Internet to further his ministry.

Internet Web page

Started in late 1995, he operated a World Wide Web page on the Internet at However, he has requested a permanent address of, which he anticipates moving to before May 1.

"There's a lot of wonderful material available from a wide variety of groups that could easily be made available to people around the globe," he said. "One of my goals is to make available some of the best biblical articles in the Church of God to others in the church and in the world."

Mr. Ruth intends to report events and news with an eye toward encouraging "communication, cooperation, caring and Christian growth" in the Churches of God.

When Internet users sign on to Mr. Ruth's Web page, they are welcomed and offered the following information:

  • "The articles and information on these Web pages are from many different groups, organizations and authors within the spiritual organism known as the Church of God. This is not a site solely promoting one church or group.
  • "These pages will contain a significant sample of articles and information from nonordained Christians. There is a wealth of well written materials and God inspired activities created by dedicated brethren (male and female) which will be offered and promoted on this site.
  • "Barnabas Ministries puts materials on the Web to promote the building up of character, not of organizations. We are a service organization which seeks to encourage you to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, to gain a better understanding of the Bible and to reach your highest potential of service and love as a Christian. We are not here to build a mailing or contribution list.
  • "We have no large tithe-paying base, nor do we squeeze others for support. Rather, we communicate the needs of this service to those that benefit from it and pray God moves some to help us continue to serve through the Internet."

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