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Joseph Tkach gives specifics of new WCG vision

By Linda Moll Smith

BIG SANDY, Texas--"It is time to be counted and stand up for His [God's] name's sake," Worldwide Church of God pastor general Joseph Tkach Jr. said in a 20-minute videotaped address played for the church's congregation on the Ambassador University campus here Aug. 10.

Mr. Tkach discussed "the formidable challenges" facing the WCG "in our mission to declare the glory of Jesus Christ in ways that go beyond us." The tape was to be played to the church's congregations around the world.

In introducing the specifics of the church's "newly defined vision," he said he sees the church "as men, women and children making a difference for God in a church that's given its heart to Jesus Christ. We want to preach the gospel, not only through the mass media, but through each individual member. We want to teach our members to use the spiritual gifts God has accorded each of us."

A pastor in every church

Mr. Tkach then gave a 10-point synopsis of how the Worldwide Church of God will "make our church a place where we all minister." He said the church plans to:

  • Provide a resident pastor in every church area to cut down on cumbersome church circuits and overburdened ministers.
  • Provide high-quality, continuing training for the ministers.
  • Offer non-members the gospel message through the mass media, The Plain Truth magazine and books and other media.
  • Establish church-leadership training through Ambassador University.
  • Form a partnership with Ambassador University to sponsor summer camps and weekend rallies of teenagers to "bring young people to Christ."
  • Establish congregations as centers of evangelism.
  • Communicate the news of local WCG congregations around the world through The Worldwide News, member letters and taped lectures.
  • Emphasize the annual feast days as celebrations of worship.
  • Send out a comprehensive survey immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles this year in which the members of the WCG will be asked their opinions on the future administration of the Feast.
  • Encourage the overcoming of racial barriers inside and outside the church and work toward the reconciliation of cultures.

Mr. Tkach said he believes that "the transformation of everyone's lives and the changes in our church have occurred in spite of us. We are in the middle of something that is bigger than any of us. The glory for this story goes to God alone, and we must not go through this experience and miss the meaning."

Mr. Tkach called the church "God's army marching under the banner of the cross of Jesus Christ" and urged the membership to feel "a sense of urgency in following our marching orders."

Some still grieving

"I know some of us are still grieving and angry over what we've been through, but Jesus Christ has claimed, cleansed and commissioned us. Yes, we've lost members, but we who remain have to take up our cross and follow Him. We have to pursue this miracle, and it's time we realized we are all in this together."

Mr. Tkach said his "passion" is "to be involved in the historic and unprecedented changes the Holy Spirit is performing in our church, and I want to help others avoid the mistakes we've made in the past in doctrine and practice.

"Now is the time for all of us to show our allegiance to Christ. I call on all of those who've been holding back to honor Him with our substance."

Comparison to Nehemiah

As the taped address concluded, Mr. Tkach prayed, comparing the church's struggles to those of the biblical Nehemiah and his band of laborers in their rebuilding of the temple, and prayed that "we count each other as fellow servants, all part of one body, and in so doing not let the losses we've suffered have occurred in vain."

In his sermon after the videotape, Ambassador University president Russell Duke promised to give the church here in a couple of weeks an update on the "changing church and Ambassador College link."

"We [at AU] desire to go into the Christian community in a greater degree," he said, "and we'll be letting you know how you may help with that. As for our financial concerns, which you know about through reports you've been hearing, we're looking to examine ours and those of our church by asking what is our calling and what do we need to accomplish?

AU to have new emphasis

"As you've just heard on the videotape, the new emphasis at Ambassador University by the church will be on specific programs in Christian education and cosponsoring youth camps and rallies. It will be more of a focus by the entire church rather than simply a full-scale subsidy of the university." (See related article this page.)

Meetings will continue between the WCG's regional pastors and headquarters staff in Pasadena to determine the programs and methods best for "today's church."

Dr. Duke said he wants to encourage members of the Big Sandy congregation to "choose to continue to attend here and belong here and be part of a wonderful encouragement to AU and our greater community."

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