Living Church of God

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Living Church of God
Classification Independent Christian
Leader Roderick C. Meredith
Region International
Headquarters Charlotte, North Carolina
Founder Roderick C. Meredith
Origin 1998
San Diego, California
Separated from Global Church of God
Congregations 330

The Living Church of God (LCG) is one of the church groups formed by followers of the late Herbert W. Armstrong. It was formed as a series of major doctrinal changes were introduced in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) after Armstrong's death in 1986. It is one of the many Sabbatarian Churches of God to leave Armstrong's organization.

Founder[edit]

LCG's leader is Roderick C. Meredith who had been one of the most senior, high-ranking evangelists in WCG.

Following his graduation in June 1952, Meredith was assigned by Armstrong to start and pastor congregations in Portland, Oregon; San Diego, California; and Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. On December 20, 1952, after summoning him back to the WCG's headquarters in Pasadena, California, from his pastorship in Oregon, Armstrong ordained him and four other men—including his uncle Dr. C. Paul Meredith—to the high-ranking position of evangelist. These men were the very first evangelists of the WCG. Meredith was the youngest of the newly ordained men, and was the fifth to be ordained.

Over the following years, Meredith would help start up scores of congregations throughout the United States. He would also conduct many baptizing and evangelizing tours in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Africa. From the early to mid-1950s, and again in 1960, he was assigned by Armstrong to live in Britain to start up congregations for the Church.

For many years he was one of the WCG's leading theologians and top executives, and an instructor at Ambassador College. Meredith for many years oversaw the ministry in the WCG.

Formation[edit]

After Armstrong died, WCG began to change many of its core doctrines, a process that brought the organization into the mainstream of Evangelical Christianity. However, many members objected, and hundreds of splinter groups arose as a result.[1]

Meredith initially founded the Global Church of God (GCG) in 1992, but was controversially fired from his positions as chairman of its board and presiding evangelist in 1998. He left to form LCG, incorporating the church in San Diego, California, in December 1998.[2] His dismissal was widely unpopular with GCG members, and as much as 80 percent of the GCG membership followed Meredith to LCG.[3]

In 2003, the church's corporate headquarters was moved from San Diego to Charlotte, North Carolina.[4] The church reported in 2011 that it had 330 congregations in 45 countries, and that over 8,000 members attended its annual eight-day festival of the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, at 46 sites in 31 countries on every continent (except Antarctica).[5] An independent auditor specializing in non-profits reported that the church's income for 2010 was over US$14.3 million.[6] LCG's revenue comes from tithes,[7] holy day offerings, and other contributions from both members and non-members. The tithe is 10% of a member's income and it is permitted to tithe on the net income.[8] The members should not tithe on the "unearned income" (such as social security, old-age assistance, unemployment benefits, pensions, gifts, disability or similar types of income).[9]

Doctrines[edit]

LCG preaches Armstrong's message of an impending Apocalypse followed by a thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on Earth.

Other beliefs include:

  • Binitarianism: The belief that there is a two-person Godhead, consisting of God the Father and God the Son (also called The Word). The Holy Spirit is "not a Being", and is considered "the very essence, the mind, life, and power of God".
  • Generally, members should not take part in politics, juries, voting, swearing oaths (members can only "affirm", not swear, in court), or military service.[10]
  • British Israelism: The belief that the Anglo-American people are descended from the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, and are the possessors of the birthright promises and accompanying blessings of Abraham’s descendants, through his grandson Jacob.
  • Certain laws should be adhered to by Christians today, including the "dietary laws", mentioned in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:3–21, delineating which animals may be eaten.
  • Christians should observe the biblical seventh-day Sabbath. According to the biblical definition, a day is measured from sunset to sunset, and therefore the Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday, and ends at sunset on Saturday. No paid physical labor is to be performed during this time period, nor any personal activities that take away from worship and family time. These include entertainment, such as participating in sporting events (for example, high school football), going to the cinema, theater, dance hall, or bar, and watching non-religious movies or television, except news. Feeding livestock and cooking for family members are allowed. The Sabbath is viewed as holy, and set apart by God at creation (Genesis 2:2–3), and is a sign between God and his believers (Exodus 31:13).
  • Annual festivals listed in Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16 should be observed by Christians today as part of the "Sabbaths", as they were kept by Jesus, the original apostles, and the first-century Church of God, headquartered at Jerusalem. Members do not celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Easter, or other extra-biblical holidays that were adopted by Christianity after the middle of the first century to placate those with pagan beliefs.
  • People "sleep" after death (Ecclesiastes 9:5) while awaiting resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). Believers will be changed into immortal beings, and people who have never heard the gospel will be taught, having a chance to accept or reject God. [11]

The church's official statement of beliefs is comparable to those of Armstrong's original Radio Church of God.[12]

Media projects[edit]

Shortly after LCG's incorporation, it started producing a weekly, half-hour television program, Tomorrow's World. As of 2007, the show is anchored by Meredith, Richard Ames, Rod King, and Wallace G. Smith.

It is carried on 211 television stations throughout the world. In May 2006, LCG's media department reported that the show was accessible to nearly 78 million American households, or 71 percent of the American television market.[13]

According to reports in March 2007 by Nielsen Research, the program was estimated to reach an average of 50,000 new viewers each week.[14] From 1999 to date,[when?] approximately 320 programs have been taped and televised.

LCG also publishes a free, bi-monthly, subscription magazine under the title Tomorrow's World. As of 2006, its circulation was 1.8 million. From the magazine's inception in 1999 through May 2007, 8.3 million copies were produced.[15] Additionally, the church operates a Tomorrow's World website.[16]

The church produces several foreign-language radio programs, which are broadcast on 15 stations. These include a Spanish program titled El Mundo de Mañana ("Tomorrow's World"),[17] presented by Mario Hernandez, who also is the presenter of the Spanish telecast with the same title. Also, the French program Le Monde Demain ("Tomorrow's World") is broadcast throughout the Caribbean.[18] Up until his death in 2010, it was presented by longtime LCG evangelist and radio presenter Dibar Apartian.

Online university[edit]

In 2007, LCG launched Living University, an nonprofit, online, distance-learning institution. The school is currently unaccredited, but LCG is exploring accreditation for Living University's undergraduate degrees, diplomas, and certificates.[19]

Terry Ratzmann shooting[edit]

In March 2005, an LCG congregation in Brookfield, Wisconsin, was attacked by gunman Terry Ratzmann, a church member. Seven LCG members, including three children and the pastor, were killed. The killings thrust LCG into the national spotlight.

No motive was determined by police.[20] Authorities examined possible religious connections to the shooting, but other motives, including Ratzmann's recent loss of a job, and mental health issues, are likely.[21][not in citation given]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Short History of Grace Communion International". Grace Communion International. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ Introvigne, Massimo. "Schism in the Global Church of God: Birth of A New "Armstrongite" Church, The Living Church of God". Center for Studies on New Religions. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  3. ^ "Church of God Timeline: 1996 to 2004". The Journal: News of the Churches of God. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  4. ^ Howard, J. Lee (February 14, 2003). "Church group relocating HQ here from San Diego". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  5. ^ "The Living Church News" (pdf). Living Church of God. January–February 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  6. ^ "The Living Church News" (pdf). Living Church of God. July–August 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  7. ^ "God's People Tithe!". 
  8. ^ "Personal Correspondence Department L061". 
  9. ^ "Personal Correspondence Department L061". 
  10. ^ "Statement of Beliefs". Living Church of God. 
  11. ^ Is There Life After Death? by: Richard F. Ames.[1]
  12. ^ "Fundamentals of Belief". Radio Church of God. 
  13. ^ Winnail, Douglas (25 May 2007). "World Ahead Weekly Update". 
  14. ^ Living Church of God, Letter from Roderick C. Meredith, March 12, 2007
  15. ^ Greetings, Douglas Winnail, May 24, 2007
  16. ^ The Living Church News, v.4 No.9, July–August 2007, p9
  17. ^ Programas de El Mundio de Mañana
  18. ^ http://www.mondedemain.org/emissions.php.
  19. ^ Co-Worker Letter Library
  20. ^ "Motive Still Unclear in Milwaukee Church Shooting". The New York Times. August 3, 2005. 
  21. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (March 15, 2005). "Police Focus on Religion in Milwaukee Shootings". NYTimes Online (The New York Times). Retrieved 24 January 2012. 

External links[edit]