Sword of JoshuaSword of JoshuaSword of Joshua


Copyright © Jules Dervaes

January 29, 2011

A compilation of comments from discussions with Jules Dervaes

The date January 16, 2011, marked 25 years since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong. It was a tragic reflection on his work and the legacy which his so-called heirs have squandered that, a few days prior to the anniversary, an organizing conference for yet another splinter group from the late, great Worldwide Church of God convened.

Mr. Armstrong restored essential doctrines of the church that had been lost, including the observance of the weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Day Festivals. He also emphasized the importance of preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. However, as these doctrines were established in the WCG, the church itself—its organization and well-being—became the overriding focus of “the work.” The ancient agricultural roots of the annual festivals, as well as the farming ethos of the early Radio Church of God in the community of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, were dropped as the church organization expanded and came to be defined by a highly successful publishing, broadcast and education outreach centered in urban Pasadena.

In bringing back the abandoned doctrines, Mr. Armstrong failed to set forth the crucial importance of restoring the LIFESTYLE in which these doctrines could be embodied and developed. Thus, a dangerous split was embedded in the church and in its individual members between mind and body. (To read more, see “God, Man & Technology.”)

The results of this inherent split between the mental and the physical are, today, blatantly displayed at the organizational level by the myriad “Church of God” groups which have spun off from the original Worldwide Church of God. The recent breakaway (COGWA) from the largest remaining group (UCG) has set off a desperate scramble of competing church-wranglers who are trying to round up stray members and ministers and drive them into each group’s “corral” so that the size of their herd can be increased. The “lasso” being used is the claim that a particular group is the possessor of God’s true work, brazenly touting their numerical growth as evidence of fruit.

Some of the main wranglers with their claims are cited below.

Gerald and Stephen Flurry, Philadelphia Church of God.

Making Sense of the Church Split: Judge By the Fruits” by Stephen Flurry, January 7, 2011.

As Mr. Armstrong learned early on in his ministry, the work of preaching the gospel to the world directly paralleled the growth of Ambassador College. “It was the development of the college in Pasadena that MADE POSSIBLE the growth of the whole gospel work,” he wrote in his Autobiography.

In like manner, our college has provided the means for this work to exert a powerful influence worldwide. In terms of membership figures, this church is still incredibly small. But the size and scope of this work testifies loudly to what Almighty God can do through a small group of dedicated servants.

With the college and the headquarters building program now well into their tenth year, here is a quick snapshot of where we are in God’s work: Worldwide attendance stands at about 5,500. Serving those brethren, we have 72 ordained ministers—41 of them employed by the Church. Counting ministers and employees, 115 people work for the Church full-time. Another 60 are on payroll as part-timers. We’ve added 55 employees just since 2006, when the college first started turning out four-year graduates.


We have the public appearance campaigns, the television program, the web presence, hundreds of online videos, two magazines and dozens and dozens of books, booklets and reprint articles, as well as a 36-lesson Bible correspondence course.


It’s an incredible story….But at the same time, isn’t this what you would expect of a work God does through men? As Mr. Armstrong wrote in his Autobiography, when God does something through humans, it must start in the smallest of ways. But like the tiny mustard seed, the smallest of herbs, it continually grows until it becomes the biggest!

David C. Pack, The Restored Church of God

RCG Fruits—Phenomenal Growth Continues!” by David C. Pack, [?] December 2010.

Growth is the greatest indicator of fruit. Each separate category demonstrating growth forms another fruit one can measure. In this regard, The Restored Church of God is without peer in every category of measurement! This is in addition to being the only Church that teaches without compromise the exact same truths taught by Herbert W. Armstrong in the WCG until his death in 1986. The following statistics compare the years 2010 and 2009, with 2008 sometimes included. For well-known internal reasons, all 2011 estimates are conservative!


As conditions in the world grow darker, and time grows shorter, we continue to pray diligently that more will follow Christ’s command to “anoint their eyes” (Rev. 3:18) so they can join where He is leading. We are pleased that in 2010 again a significant percent of our growth continues to come from those who were once in the Worldwide Church of God. With more regularly joining us from UCG and LCG (and smaller groups), we look forward to welcoming many more who desire to help finish the final chapter of God’s Work in this age!

Roderick Meredith, Living Church of God

Letter posted online, December 25, 2010.

Pray that God will bring with us those who should come and would loyally and cooperatively help us “do the Work.” For we certainly need more dedicated members and ministers.


Fellow ministers, I urge all of you to stir yourselves to reach out to these people and these ministers, to visit them as soon as you are able, to work with your Elders and members to make them feel welcome and to help them in every way to become part of the group that is really “doing the Work” at this time. We do not want to pressure or “proselytize” anyone in a wrong way. But it is certainly not wrong to reach out to them and let them know that we love them and would love to have them with us to help us do the Work and get the message out to a very confused world.
Brethren, most of you realize that a huge Work needs to be done within the next few years—far beyond anything we have done thus far. I can sincerely tell you that I can see more “light at the end of the tunnel” than I have ever seen before as far as the end of this age coming relatively soon and the foundations being prepared for a truly big Work to be done by us! As you know, Christ Himself has just opened the Discovery Channel to us, has given us a much better time on Word Network—which is already producing very good fruit….

Dennis Luker, United Church of God

Jan. 14 Letter from Dennis Luker,” January 14, 2011.

The work of the Church has been hindered in some ways over the past year or so, and we expect—following the direction of the living Head of the Church, Jesus Christ—that we will emerge from these meetings refreshed and energized, eager to tackle the work that our loving and faithful God has set before us.

As the work of God advances, I expect to communicate with you ever more frequently. As you likely now know, about 30 percent of the ministers formerly associated with the United Church of God have formed their own separate organization.

In that regard, I want to bring a critically important point to your attention: Similar to other organizations that formed from the prior association in the 1990s, some of those formerly associated with us are actively seeking to draw members away from the United Church of God. Let me speak plainly: Some claim a “superior” form of church government. Some say that they are doing a work “more effectively.” Others profess to be some sort of apostolic heir. These challenges, of course, have no basis in fact. But we must warn you, lest their enticing words lead you astray.

Based on what we have already seen in current trends, we expect the United Church of God to go forth with renewed strength, energized and ready to humbly yield to the power—and to the growth—that God provides! James teaches us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (chapter 1:2) because these trials refine us. We have all felt that refining fire, but we have also remained steadfast! We know that he who endures to the end—he who overcomes—will reap the reward that God has in store for us.


The UCG has called for a special ministerial conference to be held January 31 – February 1, 2011, in response to the split in their organization. The first sessions on the agenda address the topic “What happened and why, and lessons learned.”

The question “Why?” has already been answered in events that unfolded following the death of Herbert Armstrong. At that time, there was a series of letters written to the church administration and, later, distributed publicly that pointed out fundamental problems in the church and warned of serious consequences if those problems were not addressed. The warnings were ignored, and the “mother ship” foundered and was wrecked, splintering into hundreds of pieces. What is happening today was explained 25 years ago; the current events are merely aftershocks that can be traced back to the original disaster.

The real cause of the recent developments in the churches is the continuing split between the mental and the physical that was already a characteristic of the “unified” mother church and her members and then was passed down—unquestioned—to the next generations.

The result is confusion about where the real work of God is and how it operates. How can each of these groups claim to “have” God’s work? How can the true work of God be split up into competing groups? And, most importantly, how can what is divided be made whole once again?

In order to restore Mr. Armstrong’s legacy and then to go forward and correct the faults, there must first be a people united, a people who would never break away. As Mr. Armstrong often passionately preached:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

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