The Journal: News of the Churches of God at

Global Church of God elder Larry Salyer
gives insights into WCG doctrinal shifts

By Ewin Barnett

Following is a condensed version of an interview of the former director of church administration of the Worldwide Church of God who now serves as a regional pastor and member of the board of the Global Church of God. Ewin Barnett of Ashland, Mo., the interviewer and an editorial contributor to In Transition, publishes a verbatim version of the interview on the Internet.

COLUMBIA, Mo.--Larry Salyer, member of the board of directors of the Global Church of God, headquartered in San Diego, Calif., said he first became concerned about radical doctrinal changes in the Worldwide Church of God in 1988 while serving on a doctrinal committee at WCG's Pasadena, Calif., headquarters.

The former director of church administration for the WCG spoke in a recent interview about doctrinal changes and his personal relationship with the Tkaches as well as his perspective on offshoots of the WCG.

Mr. Salyer also addressed whether the Global Church of God would ever "merge," "compromise" or otherwise cooperate with any other groups with origins in the WCG.

The interview took place March 2 in the hall in which the Columbia Global Church of God congregation meets for Sabbath services. After a potluck dinner, Mr. Salyer, who lives with his wife, Judy, and son Jeff in St. Louis, Mo., consented to this interview.

Besides serving as a GCG board member, Mr. Salyer is a regional pastor based in St. Louis. Shortly after this interview, the GCG announced that Mr. Salyer will soon move to San Diego to assume the position of director of editorial services.

The following is a condensed version of the interview:

Could you give us a thumbnail sketch of Larry Salyer's early years?

Why don't I start with what a lot of us start with?

When we come to the knowledge of the truth, it's often because we've found ourselves floundering in life, which is where I was at 19 or 20 in a teacher's college.

I had a lot of personal problems in college. I had a lot of problems with my ability to do what I wanted to do. And, having been an honors student and then flunking out of college, it left me looking for answers.

When I returned to my home area and started dating my previous girl friend, who later became my wife, we decided as soon as we started thinking seriously about marriage that we had to figure out what life was about and what we were going to do about church. She had been a Methodist, and I was not practicing any religion per se, though my family was by this time involved in the Worldwide Church of God.

So, we started reading, looking and studying, and within a week after we got married we started attending services and have ever since.

Within two or three years, we went off to Ambassador College in Big Sandy. We already had one child. We had another child while we were in college, then we graduated in '68. I was ordained the day after graduation.

I was the only person out of my graduating class who was immediately ordained, although several others were within a few months, because the work was growing so fast, and there was a desperate need for ministers. I was sent to Houston as an associate [pastor], and within another six months I was made a pastor and sent to West Texas.

From that time on, it has been whatever comes down the pike: moves on a very-short-notice basis and troubleshooting in places like Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

I was brought into Pasadena to pastor the Auditorium congregation in 1980, which was right after the '79 fiasco, and a lot of rebuilding and repairing had to be done. I spent two years there which brought me into direct contact with both Mr. [Herbert] Armstrong and Mr. [Joseph] Tkach.

I made a few trips to Tucson, Ariz., [Mr. Armstrong's city of residence at that time] to visit with Mr. Armstrong, and at one point I was assigned to go to Australia to direct the work down there. But 24 hours later that was changed. Then I was going to Canada, and a few weeks later that changed. I ended up staying in Pasadena.

Six weeks after I left Pasadena for San Francisco, Mr. Armstrong called and asked me to go to Big Sandy as the dean of students. He was restructuring the college. So I spent four years in Big Sandy as dean of students.

Then, after Mr. Armstrong's death [in January 1986], Mr. Tkach asked me to come to Pasadena to take over church administration. I had had some experience with Mr. Armstrong, especially the last few years of his life, while at the college. I knew Mr. Tkach and some of the administrative problems that we had been dealing with up until then.

So, when I came in to take over church administration in the spring of '86, I had some idea what was facing us, but, I certainly didn't know where the church was headed.

You were eventually assigned the job of personal assistant to Mr. Tkach. What was it like to work for Joseph W. Tkach, and what did you do for him?

Well, first let me correct the title. While I was pastoring the Auditorium church in '80 to '82, he used me a lot for troubleshooting, but I was never [officially] his personal assistant.

When I came in 1986, I was made director of church administration, not a personal assistant to him. But Mr. Tkach treated the director-of-church-administration office as if it were second in command of the work. That's the way he had felt, working for Mr. Armstrong, and that's what he wanted me to do.

Mr. Tkach was always a likable, affable, fun person to be around. He liked to get together in his office after work sometimes and sit around, talk, have a glass of wine or whatever, and there were some good times in the personal sense.

But Mr. Tkach was difficult to work for in the sense he was very unpredictable. He did not have a vision, in my opinion--speaking now after historical perspective--of where the work was going, why it should go there or how to get it there. He simply was flailing in terms of where do I go from here? Often the answer depended on who got his ear on a particular day.

He also focused way too much attention on trivial matters, with which I guess he was comfortable, such as problems with lawn mowers in Big Sandy.

What were the highlights of that job for you?

The highlights were working with the ministry and trying to get programs in place that would affect the field. We worked with the refresher program [a series of seminars for ministers and Ambassador faculty members], which gave us an opportunity to teach the ministry. That was a highlight, [as was] working with new booklets and the correspondence course, which church administration always had a hand in because we had to help coordinate how this would affect church growth and budget outlays.

Other things that were within the purview of church administration I had a hand in. For example, we put the new Graduate Club [a speech club] manual together and changed YOU [Youth Opportunities United, the WCG's now-disbanded organization for teenagers] and summer camp extensively.

Recent statements by Joseph Tkach Jr. and Hank Hanegraaff, the president of the Christian Research Institute, indicate the Worldwide Church of God has been working on doctrinal changes for several years [see In Transition, Jan. 22], perhaps extending into the time of your working for the senior Mr. Tkach. What activity did you see in regards to the status of church doctrines? Who took part in those decisions? Who pushed for the changes, and who resisted those changes?

[Laughs.] We are getting to the nitty-gritty here. First of all, they [the doctrinal changes] absolutely not only extended into the time that I was there, but they started within a couple of years after I arrived there.

To make sure the record is clear, I was appointed director or chairman of the doctrinal team when it was first reconstituted under Mr. Tkach after Mr. Armstrong's death.

The doctrinal team at that time consisted of a large number of evangelists and top leaders in the work, too numerous to mention here, but such personalities as Dr. [Herman] Hoeh, Raymond McNair, Dean Blackwell, Harold Jackson, right on down the line.

We met every Thursday afternoon for a period of three or four hours, and our initial mission was to repeat the style but not the purpose of the STP, the Systematic Theology Project [a notebook-bound synopsis of WCG doctrine published for the church ministry in 1978]. Our job, in other words, was to document what the church believed in a wide range of areas.

I want to say here, on behalf of all those men, that the motive was pure, to serve the church and follow the directives of the pastor general.

To accomplish that, we agreed in the opening meetings to create a prototype, and by that I mean we would take a doctrine that we felt we could have pretty straightforward discussions on and we would write a document that then would become the pattern by which we would do the rest of the doctrines.

So we started with the doctrine of baptism.

Well, we actually surprised ourselves by finding we had quite different varieties of belief even on the subject of baptism [laughs], but we were all of one mind on the major areas.

Within a short time, we were pressured to start on other doctrines, and the specific doctrine they wanted dealt with at the time was interracial dating and marriage. We worked on that doctrine for, I would say, a year without success.

There were all kinds of opinions, a wide range of ideas, a lot of scriptural discussion. It was heavily biblically based, and the attitudes were right, but we nevertheless couldn't agree.

Now, I bring that up because it was at that point that I was called in to Mr. [Michael] Feazell's office, and he mentioned to me that he was now becoming the head of the theology department of Ambassador College and that as such he would also take over the doctrinal committee, which was fine with me.

I said great, no problem. I stepped down. He stepped into the role of chairman of the doctrinal committee, and he, and others, began to push very hard to get that document [on interracial dating] out.

So in the summer of that year, I think it was '88, we produced the doctrinal paper on that subject.

I don't necessarily wish to discuss that paper except to say there were a lot of things in it that a lot of us agreed with, and there were a lot of things in it that a lot of us didn't agree with.

At any rate, many people see that as the beginning of the process [of major changes]. I don't see that as the beginning of doctrinal disintegration, except as it created an environment in which things were done contrary to the wisdom of the group, whereas before we tried to come to a consensus.

At this point, it became an approach of Mr. Feazell presenting various statements to the group, and if the group didn't shoot it down in flames, then we would publish it in the PGR [Pastor General's Report] and later in The Worldwide News. So it was doctrinal decision-making by default.

Let me tell you a story that will illustrate [this]. As had become the custom, a preliminary copy of The Pastor General's Report came out for review with a bold, new doctrinal-position statement. It stated that our previous statements about God as a family had been misplaced and were false.

I don't mind saying for anybody to hear that I stormed into Mr. Tkach's office and said we can't do this, we are destroying a fundamental doctrine of the church. He informed me that he had already received five memos to that effect from people who had read the preliminary paper, all members of the doctrinal team.

The meeting turned into a shouting match between Mike Feazell and me when he happened to call Mr. Tkach from Big Sandy. Mr. Tkach informed Mike that he had decided not to publish the new material until the doctrinal team was of one mind, even if it took a lot more study.

Mr. Feazell felt we had to go forward with that doctrine immediately, saying the doctrinal team was in agreement with it and that Larry was simply missing some meetings and not up to date.

I don't know how this was supposed to square with the memos from the other five. That made at least six of 14 members who had objected in writing.

I felt it [the proposed change]undermine the entire doctrinal position of the church because we were fundamentally changing what we had said, and I even quoted, or paraphrased, Mr. Armstrong in The Missing Dimension in Sex, in which he said, "Here's the greatest truth you can ever know. Man is created to become God."

I said, "Mr. Armstrong's saying it's the greatest truth you can ever know, [but] you're calling it making a mountain out of a molehill." Mike went on to say that Mr. Armstrong had started out to prove the fallacy of the immortality of the soul and ended up taking a flying leap at the moon. I knew then, as never before, that we were in for real doctrinal decay.

After this big discussion, I was assured by Mr. Tkach that this [study on the God family] would not be published in any manner until we could come to complete doctrinal consensus on it. This is very clear in my mind, as I was leaving the next day on vacation and wanted to comfort the others who had objected.

They felt that I, as director of CAD [the church-administration department], had to be the point man on this. I drove to Big Sandy, only to find that The Pastor General's Report had come out the day after I had left with all the same materials intact, in which we in fact had told the church that we no longer believed that God was a family.

This I see as the clearest sign of the beginning of doctrinal disintegration for a couple of reasons: first, because Mr. Tkach had made a decision in my presence not to publish the material, only to change his mind as soon as the pressure from the conservatives was off. It was clear that he was not really in control.

Second, the doctrine itself is fundamental to resisting such later doctrinal error as the Trinity and the immortality of the soul. This also showed a lack, on the part of the progressives, of real spiritual understanding.

Of course, that may be generosity on my part. Maybe they knew all along that they were knocking out a huge piece of the foundation. This would fit in with your question about a long-term plan.

After that, it began to be the question of what was the nature of Christ, was Christ fully human, was He fully divine, how did those two fit together, could Christ have sinned, was it theoretically possible for Christ to sin, or was He immune to sin?

And that, of course, became another huge doctrinal problem to me with which I confronted the powers that be. I remember going into Mr. Joe Tkach Jr.'s office and saying, "Joe, I have a question here from one of the regional directors in the international area, and he has a problem with this nature-of-Christ doctrine."

I said, "I can't answer his question because I have exactly the problem he does."

He said, "Well, what's the problem?"

I said, "Well, the problem is that we're saying that Christ couldn't sin, therefore He did not have the same human capacities the rest of us have, therefore He really couldn't have functioned as our Savior or expected us to walk in His footsteps."

He looked up at me, kind of blinked and said, "Well, Larry, I'd rather have a Savior that couldn't sin than a Savior that didn't sin."

That was the end of the discussion. He said, "I'll pass it on to somebody else." So he took the memo from me and said he would give it to somebody to answer.

Tampering with major doctrines had clearly begun. I think we're talking now as early as late '88 or early '89. We were already into some fairly major doctrinal issues, some of which may not have hit the church fully at that time. But I think if you went back and looked at the documentation, which I have not done recently, you would see that we were beginning to open the door to major doctrinal disintegration.

Long before the doctrinal changes were formally announced, during his spring-of-'94 Ambassador commencement address, Joseph Tkach Sr. said that the rumors that the church was making significant doctrinal changes were untrue. He also made similar remarks during a number of his church-visit sermons up until the fall of '94. In one audio clip I have, he calls the rumors of such changes "damnable lies." Knowing him as you do, how can you explain these statements?

I was not personally aware of those comments at commencement as I had already left the organization in February of '94. Even at the time I left, I had a conversation with Mr. Tkach in which he said that I was jumping to conclusions. He suggested that my problems were the result of reading the literature of others.

I had read no one's literature, and I told him this. I said, "Mr. Tkach, my concerns are not based on what others have written at all, but they are based on what you have written."

He continued, even at this late date, to try to convince me there had been no major doctrinal shift.

Mr. Tkach at first, I believe, was somewhat of a victim. I say somewhat because it's clear to me in my discussions with Mr. Tkach that he had held reservations about certain doctrinal matters for decades. He openly admitted, for example, that he never agreed with the healing doctrine.

Now, I don't think anybody would have criticized him for saying, "I have some concerns about an aspect of the healing doctrine," but he would make statements that he never believed this or he never believed that.

For the most part, Mr. Tkach seemed to be committed to retaining the basic doctrinal structure in the church. It was over a period of time, when a lot of material began to be printed in the PGR and otherwise presented to the church, that he began to find himself in this position you're discussing, where he's making statements that are totally contrary to the facts.

The PGR was always submitted for his review and approval, but it seems like the contents never sank in.

At some point, having been questioned frequently about his contrasting statements, it must have occurred to him that he had to figure out how to justify this. So he began to take the lead in the doctrinal matters, not in terms of initiating them, but in terms of announcing them and supporting them.

My opinion is Mr. Tkach had an inherent weakness in his doctrinal position to start with, but he would not have initiated all the massive changes that occurred. Once they began to be initiated, and he saw that the ball was rolling very quickly downhill, he decided he would be the person who was pushing.

What changes did Joseph Tkach Sr. bring that the Worldwide Church of God needed?

I think Mr. Tkach's approach initially brought a refreshing openness to the church. The church over a long period had taken on a heavy-handed, authoritative, judgmental approach. This showed up in a the-ministry-will-tell-everyone-how-to-live-their-lives kind of context.

I personally still think that was overdone. I think we went way overboard in terms of the ministry controlling what people did. The ministry has to teach the truth and help people and even correct people, but the ministry doesn't need to go around telling everybody what to do.

Nevertheless, it [the perceived heavy-handedness of the ministry] was also blown way out of proportion by the reformers when they wanted to sell their new doctrines to the church.

I think when Mr. Tkach first took over, people said: Here's a man who came up through the ranks. He knows what it's like to be abused sometimes by church government. He understands what it means to be a part of the congregation and deal with the issues that come up day by day.

He would go out to churches and hold meetings with vast numbers of deacons and elders and ask their opinions. He frequently would respond favorably to a suggestion made by a member in some remote part of the world. There was a freshness and an openness that people really appreciated. That was No. 1.

No. 2, the initial comments about needing more love in the church--that is, the outward expression and evidence of love--were certainly accurate and in my opinion right on.

Love, of course, is defined by God, and love is the fulfilling of the law, and God is love, and God is not wishy-washy, sentimental, syrupy kind of emotion. But there did need to be more open and honest discourse between brethren, more open expression of love.

That doesn't mean love didn't exist in the church. Brethren often made tremendous sacrifices for one another.

When these things began to be presented, they were right, they were positive--even, frankly, the statement that we needed to be talking more about Christ and Christ's role.

We didn't know at that time we were going all the way to saying everything happened on the cross and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but to say we needed to be more focused on Christ and His role in things was probably accurate.

To some degree, that is still true in the church, and even in the Global Church we find people who are so focused on the letter of the law that they are missing the amplifications that Christ made to enrich their lives and build the church.

But what happened was that a good thing soon turned into a human idea with human vanity behind it. It got pushed beyond the normal limits, and pretty soon it was a negative.

The publicly available WCG financial reports out of the United Kingdom show a high average salary level, yet it was widely known that the support staff was modestly paid. What were the salaries of the top staff members in Pasadena? What was the typical evangelist's or field minister's salary level when you were involved with it?

When I was in church administration--again, I'll talk in general terms because salaries are not always exactly the same at all levels--there is no doubt that there was salary disparity in certain areas because favoritism existed.

In general, under Mr. Armstrong's administration, the church's approach to salaries was that people in high administrative office who were bearing the brunt of heavy decisions and the burden of long hours were definitely paid more than field ministers. Field ministers understood that; everybody knew that. It was a salary structure not unlike a corporate structure.

So the salaries in Pasadena were often considerably higher than the salaries in the field. I first assumed that the field was reasonably well paid, but I had gone through the transition of dean of students and pastoring in Pasadena, factors that made my salary a little higher than the average salary in the field.

I discovered as director of church administration that a lot of fellows were being paid what I considered a pretty minimal wage, though maybe high by the standards of certain regions of the country.

Let's understand this: The nation as a whole is very divided between expensive areas and low-cost areas. If somebody is living in a part of the country where the mean salary is $15,000 a year, they're hardly going to understand the minister making $35,000, much less understand an executive in Pasadena making $60,000. So the salaries were often not divulged for that reason.

Do you care to comment on an example of field ministers' salaries in Worldwide? I realize this does not apply necessarily to Global. A question that has come up in this local area is the situation of a Global minister apparently making more money than he was making in the WCG. I was trying to understand that apparently the top people in Worldwide are being very well compensated while the average employee may be undercompensated.

Let me address two or three issues here. First of all, I think the person you referred to is in error in his statement that he was offered more money to go to Global. Nobody that I know that came to Global was offered more to come to Global except for two people who were grossly underpaid, as you just described, in Worldwide.

I myself, for example, took a 25 percent cut in pay when I went to Global. My pay has since been increased somewhat, but I am still well below what I was paid in Worldwide. I will say that I had the high salary in the field ministry because of my previous administrative responsibility. But I took a fairly severe cut when I left Pasadena and then took another 25 percent cut when I came to Global.

Money has never been the issue with any of us. In fact, I can say honestly, and anybody who reads this can check it out, when Mr. Tkach first tried to raise my salary above what I thought was reasonable and proper in Pasadena, as director of church administration, I knew not what the job was worth. But, when he raised my salary beyond what I thought was reasonable and proper, I said, "I don't need that."

He said "Well, that's what we are going to pay you; that's what we want to pay you."

I learned later that he was paying several other people that same salary, including people who were not doing the kind of job I was in terms of the level of responsibility, so I think it might have been partly justification.

In other words, if you are going to raise this one, you better raise these three or four so they don't complain. So sometimes salaries got inflated because of favoritism.

Now, again, I'm not saying that salaries were necessarily ever completely out of line, though I think we could have lived more modestly in Pasadena than we did. But people don't understand either the cost-of-living situation in a headquarters environment in terms of all you're expected to participate in, as well as all of your travel.

I can say this: I think, before God without fear, that I have always lost money in doing the work, when I take the money out of my pocket and then get reimbursed from headquarters. I've traveled the world repeatedly in the last 15 or 20 years, and I've always lost money on that. I never get back everything I take out.

It's also safe to say that most executives, including Mr. Tkach, gave a significant portion back to the work in offerings.

One of the reasons I'm pursuing this line of questioning is that, when Joseph Tkach's estate is probated, that probate may reveal his estate to have several million dollars in net assets. Do you happen to know what his salary was?

If his net assets are several million dollars, they far exceed what he would have accumulated with his annual salary. His annual salary at the last I knew--and this may not have been his final salary because I was told by an insider that there were lots of major salary increases after I left Pasadena--I would say that Mr. Tkach's salary as pastor general of the church was probably $150,000.

That sounds very high to people who might be making $25,000 to $30,000, but, again, you're talking about a major executive responsibility in a major corporation, be it church or nonchurch. It was not at all out of line with the corporate world.

We have a number of local elders throughout the church who are executives, CEOs and so forth of small companies who are making considerably more money than that. That was always considered when these salaries were set. That salary, by the way, would have been pretty much commensurate with what Mr. Armstrong would make.

Let me come back to [the field ministry]. I know that today, when we hire a minister into the Global Church of God, we try to set his salary at what it was when he was in Worldwide. However, we find that Worldwide had not offered any across-the-board raises except the one in 1987, which was a 5 percent increase for most ministers.

Now, anybody who works in the corporate world knows that a 5 percent increase over a 12- or 14-year period is not a great deal of a raise.

We try to look at the cost of living in an area. I know people in Worldwide, and even coming to Global, who have been in the ministry for 30 years who are making a good salary by some state standards, but who are making a salary that is not uncommon for a new college graduate entering the work force.

So we have people who've been working at the same job for 30 years who, because of a lack of [consistent] pay raises, have ended up in a pay bracket that in my opinion is far too low and which Global, I hope, will attempt to raise over a period of time.

We must also keep in mind that in most cases when you hire a minister you are hiring two people. You are hiring the minister and his wife. We have never paid the wives, so they both basically work full time for that salary. If you look around at two-income families, it is not uncommon for those families to be making $50,000 or $60,000. Our ministers don't make that.

When I was director of church administration, we hired new graduates at about $23,000 to $24,000, about what a lot of beginning teachers make. There was a salary scale that considered the tenure, the rank, the work load and the cost of living in an area.

Some pastors were still in the high 20s. Most were somewhere in the 30s and a few in the 40s. It was the rare individual in the field, usually a man with a very long service record with supervisory responsibility, who could be making around $50,000. So we're talking well under $50,000 for virtually all of the ministry in the field.

I don't consider those salaries outrageous. While it is true that there were some inflated salaries--the rumor I hear is that it got much worse in the last few years--the idea that the ministry is grossly overpaid compared to the average member just doesn't hold water.

How much did the Worldwide Church of God count on receiving in donations from the average U.S. member over the course of a year?

The last I recall, about 85 percent of the income of the work came from members. When Mr. Armstrong was writing his coworker letters, it was more like 70 to 75 percent from members and maybe 25 or 30 percent from coworkers and other donors.

But, in the latter years of the church, I would say fully 85 percent, maybe even 90 percent, of the income of the church came from members. I can't tell you what that average was, but generally it averaged out to considerably more than a tithe per family.

Basically, there was a long history of projected income. You could tell within a few thousand dollars what the income was going to be depending upon how many members you had.

The present WCG publications and members often speak about what we used to believe, saying that the WCG was legalistic and that members could earn salvation by works. How does this square with your memory of the WCG five or 10 years ago?

It doesn't square at all with my memory of five years ago, 10 years ago or even 30 years ago. When I came into the church in the early '60s, it was probably as disciplinarian and as law-oriented as it ever has been with the possible exception of the '50s, and I never, ever was led to believe as a member or a student in the college or as a minister that we believed in salvation by works.

I don't know any ministers who believed that. We never taught salvation by works. We taught that works were necessary, that there is a part for us to play, but we never taught salvation by works. This is a fabrication dreamed up by people who got sick and tired of doing what needed to be done and decided the easy way out of this is to preach a gospel of grace.

To preach [that] gospel of grace, we have to show that the church was abusive in the past, and that is the word they're now using, that the church was abusive, that the church was legalistic and authoritarian, that the church worshiped the law instead of the law-giver. [That is] the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, and you can quote me.

I went to Washington, D.C., in 1974 to counter similar charges when various leaders there broke away from the church. We lost thousands of people, and they were attributing the statement to Mr. Armstrong that you were not called for salvation; you were just called to do the work.

They said that church members were just to pray and pay and get the work done, and it didn't matter whether they achieved salvation or not. Mr. Armstrong's actual quote was, "You were not called only for salvation at this time, but to do the work." He meant that God wouldn't need to call the church at this time if it didn't revolve around doing the work.

Similar statements are being made today [about] an abusive, authoritarian, legalistic church which frankly never existed except in the [accusers'] own imaginations. It's a straw man.

Some of these are second-generation Christians who grew up in an environment tightly controlled by parents, school, perhaps even by the congregation. As they matured, they looked around and said, "We are adults, and we're now in charge. We don't have to put up with this anymore."

How do you think that other Churches of God fit into the future of the Global Church of God?

Let me start with a definition. A lot of people hear the term Churches of God, plural, and they say: Wait a minute, the Bible says there is only one Church of God. We all know that the Church of God, the Body of Christ, is a singular organism.

Today however, various organizations have been put together by people who have been at one time or another a part of the Body of Christ, and they usually use the name Church of God in some form, so we call them the Churches of God. That is not to say the Bible does not mean what it says or that there are lots of churches that are God's church. It means that God's church is in some ways at the moment divided.

How does that fit in with the Global Church of God and what the future holds? We in Global believe we have a mission. We're not saying that God intervened years ago to set this up and call us in the way that He did. We're saying that, when we stepped out and responded to the truth and resisted the apostasy that was taking place, God began to bless that effort. He blessed the work when Mr. [Roderick] Meredith began to produce magazines and booklets and broadcasts.

We believe we have a mission to preach the truth, to live the truth, to teach the truth to the best of our ability, without regard to what others do. If those others are of one mind with us, we will eventually all walk together.

But two cannot walk together except they be agreed. In spite of the protestations of many who say we are all alike, we all believe the same thing, the fact is we do not all believe the same thing, though sometimes it is hard to nail down specifics.

It is clear that we are different organizations, and, had we all really believed the same thing, then there never would have been the need for other organizations.

I, for example, came to Global a year and a half after it started. I looked at the facts and said this is where I see the fruits of the truth and the true Church of God functioning; this is where I want to be.

Others chose not to come to Global and in some cases created other organizations. Now some of those same groups say to us why can't we all be together? I say we all can't be together because you refused to be together, you didn't come together, you went somewhere else.

So what does it have to do with the future of Global? We will continue to proclaim the truth. We trust that God will bless that. We expect Global will grow without regard to what other groups do. We expect to see new people being called and brought into the church.

I expect that this congregation in which we are sitting today, in three years' time, will probably be doubled, and the half that's not here today are probably people who've never even heard the truth. I look for that kind of growth to happen in the Global Church of God.

If other groups choose to become part of what we're doing, then we will all be able to walk together. What I do not see is any kind of an intent by any of us to start some kind of humanly devised negotiation, merger talks, compromise, and create an agreement so that we can all pretend that we are of one mind. We must all be of one mind spiritually, or we will not be able to walk together.

Judging between the attendance figures of Worldwide, United and Global, there may be several tens of thousands of people who no longer attend any church. Does Global have any specific plans to reach these people?

I recently had a conversation with a couple of high-ranking individuals in the United congregation. We discussed this very thing. They acknowledged that in their cities as well as in our city there are many, many people who are not attending anywhere.

Does Global have a particular means of reaching those people, or are we targeting them? The answer is no. Again, we are going to proclaim the gospel through television, The World Ahead magazine and local services to which people are welcome to come as long as they wish to worship peacefully with us.

If those people who've not been attending for a period of time want to come and see what we believe and what we teach and whether we are teaching the truth, they're more than welcome to come among us. But we are not going to target them as an audience any more than we do the average person on the street.

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