Front page: Church of God friends plan another reunion

By Dixon Cartwright

BIG SANDY, Texas--The organizers of a reunion of present and former Worldwide Church of God members last spring are planning another one.

The first reunion in the series took place in June in the mess hall of a youth camp west of here. The next one is planned for Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003, in the building owned by the Church of God Big Sandy at 1106 W. Broadway.

Organizers Lee Stolley and Rick Peterson of Big Sandy and Dwayne Canup of Winnsboro, Texas, said the first one was successful, so why not have another one?

"This is nothing more or less than an opportunity for old friends and church brothers and sisters to get together again," said Mr. Stolley, who attends with the Church of God Big Sandy and the United Church of God in nearby Gilmer.

Mr. Stolley, an officer in the Big Sandy Police Department, said that, just like last time, everybody is invited. The organizers specifically request the attendance of present and former members of the Worldwide Church of God, employees of Ambassador College and their relatives.

But "anyone and everyone is invited," he said.

Besides Mr. Canup and Mr. Peterson, members of the Worldwide Church of God, and Mr. Stolley, organizers include Ellis Stewart, a UCG member and owner of a Big Sandy printing business, and Wayne Weese, a COG Big Sandy member.

Rarely see

The Worldwide Church of God, which for many years owned property two miles east of Big Sandy and sponsored the now-closed Ambassador College (later a university), over the years has spawned many other ministries and congregations. So people who formerly met together every week at church services or worked together on the university campus sometimes rarely see each other nowadays.

"The reunion came about because it occurred to us that the only time we ever got together was when someone died, at the funeral," said Mr. Stewart. "But that's not a good time to fellowship. So we wanted to organize a reunion at a happier time for everybody."

The organizers will charge no admission fee, and everything is free--except that participants are asked to bring food for a potluck lunch.

"We'll furnish drinks and tableware," Mr. Stolley said. "You just need to bring food."

"Because of the preferences of some of the participants," added Mr. Canup, "please make sure the food you bring is kosher."

Mr. Canup mentioned that the Church of God Big Sandy, which owns the building in which the reunion will take place, is not a sponsor or organizer.

"It just happens to be the best facility anywhere around," he said, "and the price was certainly right: zero."

No hidden agenda

Mr. Stolley said no one should worry about the organizers concealing an agenda to influence anyone's religious beliefs.

"Is this an ecumenical movement?" he rhetorically asked. "No. We have no intention of starting a religious movement, period. This is just old friends getting together for four hours from 11 until 3 on Jan. 19. That's all."

At the reunion last June, Mr. Stolley didn't know how many to expect and was happy that close to 100 people showed up.

"I felt that was a big success," he said. "It was all positive. I think I talked to almost everyone there, and everything seemed to go well. I saw a lot of hugs. One guy asked me when are you going to do this again."

Contact information

For more information phone Mr. Stolley at (903) 734-6050 or Mr. Canup at (903) 636-4456. Or write Mr. Stolley at or Rt. 2, Box 397, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A.

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