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Three cheers for Wayne and Doris Cole
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Three cheers for Wayne and Doris Cole

The writer pastors the Church of God Big Sandy and is a regular columnist for The Journal.

By Dave Havir

BIG SANDY, Texas--Have I ever told you how much I respect and like Wayne and Doris Cole?

On Jan. 22 our congregation acknowledged the anniversary of the Coles' 50th year of service since his ordination by the Radio Church of God (which became the Worldwide Church of God). On that Sabbath Wayne gave two sermons to our congregation, one about "reflections" from the past and the other about "lessons" he learned through the years.

In a sense those two sermons marked the end of Wayne's commitment to regularly giving sermons. Unlike many professional athletes, actors or musicians who hang around and embarrass themselves long after their skills have deteriorated, Wayne Cole is scaling back his speaking while he is still on top of his game.

While we are trying to grow accustomed to the idea of only sporadically hearing Wayne speak, we also know that the Coles are preparing to relocate in coming months to the western part of the United States to be closer to their children.

At this time I want to publicly express to them my appreciation.

History with the family

I haven't known Wayne and Doris as long as many of you have. My wife and I only really got to know them since 1995 when they began attending the congregation that I pastor. Until then I had more contact with other members of their family than I had with them.

Wayne's brother Raymond Cole was my second pastor in the Worldwide Church of God. Raymond was a strict pastor (weren't they all strict back in the 1960s?), but he was kind to my family. He was also the pastor who recommended me for Ambassador College back in 1970.

Wayne's father, Otis Cole, was my boss for one summer when I worked for him at the Mount Pocono Feast site before leaving for college. The older Mr. Cole was a little bit demanding, but the experience was good for me.

I stayed with my boss and his wife, Nellie, in their home on the church property. I worked with them, and I ate meals with them. (Since she was always Mrs. Cole to me, I had to call someone a few days ago to find out that her name was Nellie.)

The Cole family has been around the Church of God for a long time. Wayne grew up in the Church of God (Seventh Day). His family knew the Herbert Armstrong family back in Oregon. Wayne was childhood friends with Richard and Ted Armstrong.

Wayne and Doris have a wealth of information about the history of the Church of God (Seventh Day) and the Worldwide Church of God. I hope they will share some of their experiences and perspectives with a wider audience in the coming years.

Believed the reports

In the 1970s I knew who Wayne Cole was, but I hadn't spent any time with him. Then, around 1978, I heard Herbert Armstrong and other church leaders say some derogatory things about him, like his being "disloyal" to the church.

Back then, if I heard church leaders say bad things about people, I believed them. No questions asked. (I know that sounds ridiculous, but unfortunately it was true.)

It wasn't that I had bad thoughts or bad feelings toward Wayne and Doris Cole. I simply didn't think about them anymore. In essence, Wayne and Doris Cole were nonfactors in my life from that point until 1995.

Then in 1995 I got to know them. It was around that time when I started realizing that official reports from church leaders about supposed malcontents were not always accurate.

Since 1995 my wife and I have seen Wayne and Doris in a variety of public settings, and we have enjoyed personal moments with them.

We have a professional respect for them and also a personal affinity for them.

Professional respect

On a professional level I want to first thank Wayne for the speaking he has done at the Church of God Big Sandy.

Wayne is quite a preacher. As a teacher in the pulpit, his sermons are positive and encouraging. He is an exhorter.

Not only has he edified the congregation, his service has enabled me to serve other congregations. In our congregation the members encourage me to travel to other congregations as a guest speaker twice a month. That's a lot of Sabbaths for the pastor to be away from the congregation.

This has been possible because I knew Wayne would give good sermons while I was gone. As long as the folks at home are well fed, they don't seem to mind my traveling to serve other congregations.

(Now that the Coles plan to move, I have been feverishly working to arrange to schedule other quality guest speakers to fill Wayne's void.)

Also on a professional level, I want to thank Wayne and Doris Cole for being pillars in our congregation. Many people appreciate their steadfast example.

Personal respect

I personally admire the Coles for dealing with the personal attacks that their church (including their boss, their coworkers and their friends) brought upon them back in the late 1970s.

Whatever you think about Wayne's role in the State of California's legal actions against the WCG back in the late 1970s, it is my personal opinion that his boss and friend (Herbert Armstrong) hung him out to dry.

It is my belief that Mr. Armstrong wanted Wayne's help in dealing with a personnel matter at that time that had serious political repercussions in the church hierarchy. It is my belief that, when Wayne agreed to help Mr. Armstrong, both he and Doris knew the situation would probably come back to bite them. They were right.

In spite of the way Herbert Armstrong treated them, I believe they have one of the most balanced approaches toward him that I have ever seen.

They do not hate him and they do not idolize him.

They do not like to see other people hate him and they do not like to see other people idolize him.

In one sense Herbert Armstrong is only a small factor in their lives.

Since they place their emphasis on the Father and on the Son, they understand the much smaller part that Herbert Armstrong played in their lives.

Personal affinity

Not only do I personally respect the Coles, but I also flat out like them.

Wayne Cole is personable in public and in private. He knows how to have fun.

Although Doris is not always verbose in public, she is a pistol in private.

It's too bad if you do not have the opportunity to experience her wit in this lifetime.

I guess you will have something to look forward to in the Kingdom.

We will miss them when they move away from Texas to be closer to family. They are jewels.

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