Greetings to each of you from Mona and me. Your outpouring of love over the many years has been an encouraging source of strength as we journey on the path to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
Many of you have known us personally over the years (or as our son, Vernon, says, “over the decades, Dad”). You know our demeanor, our walk with God and love for the Truth. We have shared joys, pain, heartaches and victories together.
In the early years, Mona and I had the honor to know Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Armstrong personally, and over the years spent many hours with them….especially with Mr. Armstrong, on numerous occasions. We learned much directly from him one-on-one about the way of God and His purpose for all of us, in addition to the many ways we all learned from God and Jesus Christ through him --- directly or indirectly. This brings responsibility, hence the length of this letter.
Now in the very last years of this age I am both burdened and moved to share a message of hope, vision and serious concern for our spiritual wellbeing --- and a way out of spiritual confusion in which the churches of God find themselves. God and Christ provide the way out, and it includes “anointing our eyes” with the oil of the Holy Spirit and “anointing our ears” with the Word of God. Everyone can read Revelation 3:17-18 --- “anoint your eyes with eye salve” --- but many fruits and teachings in the churches indicate it is not understood as it applies to each person individually.
My message is straight and to the point, and shared in sincere love for each of you.
Mona and I now know that the Truth which was lost during the buildup and final volcanic eruption of the apostasy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, following the death of Mr. Armstrong, has definitely been found and restored to God’s Church….including the all-important Government of God headed by Jesus Christ.
Some time ago, my wife and I visited the Headquarters of the Restored Church of God. We were en route to see family in Ohio and stopped in Wadsworth, Ohio to spend the night with longtime friends and brethren, Bill and Jackie Behrer. They have been members in the Restored Church of God for the past few years, and at my request gave us a tour of the Church’s Headquarters the following morning.
What an unexpected and heartwarming surprise! Entering the beautiful complex was immediately reminiscent of walking into the Administration Building of the Worldwide Church of God in Pasadena, California in its prime. As we began the tour, meeting the friendly, outgoing staff, seeing quality everywhere, and experiencing the common spirit present in the atmosphere and staff with that of our own, I made the comment to Mona and Jackie that this was like a homecoming.
At a point, we were warmly welcomed by Mr. David Pack, Pastor General of the Restored Church of God. Following greetings with bear hugs, I repeated to him the feelings of homecoming I was experiencing. We reminisced of the time we served in adjoining church areas with the WCG, he in Westchester and the Bronx, NY when I was Pastor of Nassau County, NY. As he personally introduced us to many of the 60 employees (we met everyone), all very busy doing The Work, each would take a break to meet and welcome us. To say the least, we were simply amazed at the volume of work being accomplished by so few. We found that ALL the literature and programs Mr. Armstrong was used by God to develop and produce, Mr. Pack had rewritten and reproduced --- everything! Below is just a sample.
|Mr. Armstrong – Worldwide Church of God|
|Mr. Pack – The Restored Church of God|
The work and work atmosphere we witnessed was also seen in a four-day follow-up visit that included a great many hours of interaction with Mr. and Mrs. Pack, department heads and staff. Both visits reflected the same spirit of unity and zeal we saw during the exciting growth years of the Worldwide Church of God when it was fully “on track” under the leadership of Jesus Christ through Mr. Armstrong and his support team.
All who lived in the Philadelphian era knew that Mr. Armstrong was selected and appointed as the “one sent” (an Apostle) by God and Christ, and that he was ordained and commissioned to establish the sixth era of the CHURCH OF GOD. This twentieth century messenger was the one GOD chose to restore Truth that had been lost during past eras of the Church. This “restoration of all things” (Matthew 17:11) included the very Government of God to properly organize and efficiently do God’s Work, and take His Truth and Plan of salvation in the last days to all nations. It was also to announce the coming Kingdom of God as a witness, and explain how to prepare for it.
Yet the one we once all recognized as the final “Elijah” has been almost universally rejected today as having restored all things --- as having been the Elijah. Some have even tried to suggest he “didn’t really believe he was” when the statements from him --- the facts, and I have recently reviewed them --- make plain that he did.
It was through the faithful submission and work of that servant, that Apostle, that God used to call and nourish the vast majority of us, either directly or indirectly. We could see that we had the Plain Truth, the Real Truth.
We all remember that as the apostasy came to fullness, many of us determined to stay the course of Truth “as delivered to the saints,” as we understood it. Much doctrine, in word and practice, had been slowly watered down, and thrown out. Virtually all in the WCG (who were now leaving) had already been affected to one degree or another, including Mona and me.
This becomes very evident when comparing the doctrines and practices of the many groups that split away. Some 75% of WCG attendees fell completely back into the doctrines and practices of the churches of the world, in open rebellion against all Truth. They yielded to the deception of men who “appeared as ministers of righteousness,” but who were instead followers of Lucifer, who pawns himself off as “an angel of light.”
But did all such deception end with the apostasy (read II Timothy 3:13-14)?
The remaining 25% splintered into groups of “like minds” and formed various organizations --- “Churches of God.” Of course, being different organizations with different names, different leaders and different forms of governing, over time, sadly, we have witnessed that --- instead of becoming of one mind, one body under Jesus Christ --- they have become more divided. We have seen much of this in the United Church of God since it was established in 1995, having undergone two major splits (in 1998 and 2010). These two offshoots each feel their ways and practices are superior to those of UCG, or they would not have left.
Virtually all others who splintered from the WCG also have a history of continuing to divide into smaller splinters, sometimes even into slivers off splinters. Is this really of Almighty God? Is the true Church divided when Jesus instructs that, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself cannot stand” (Matthew 12:25)?
Brethren, how could we believe that all of these churches are “part of the Body of Christ” --- “true churches”? How could we let ourselves come to agree with Joe Tkach and Billy Graham instead of Mr. Armstrong and God’s plain Word? Jesus Christ built one unified organization, and this was under His form of Government. How could we have rejected two such giant doctrines so plainly and powerfully restored to us, and from such a great servant? And this is just the beginning of what is a long list of doctrines rejected.
We now see the full-blown Laodicean Era, the last era at the very end of the church age just before the Bridegroom returns. But He is returning to His Bride, the True Church --- the unified Body of Christ. This Body is not a collection of splintered, divided organizations and scattered individuals. It is comprised of true Philadelphians --- those who have anointed their eyes and those who will yet do this, who will yet repent and return to the Philadelphian condition before the great tribulation. THESE are part of the Bride --- and THESE will escape torture and martyrdom.
We know some will anoint their eyes during the fiery trials unto death during the tribulation. Notice what Jesus the Revelator said in warning those of Laodicea, “I stand at the door and knock…” DID YOU CATCH THE POINT? He is not WITHIN the church of the Laodiceans but rather OUTSIDE, looking in, KNOCKING….“if any ONE hears My voice….” (Revelation 3:20). Besides knocking, He is also calling out….“Anybody home? Anybody in there? Can you hear Me? If you will open to Me I’ll come in and dine with you and you with Me on real life-saving spiritual food.” Upon recognizing our condition, we must anoint our eyes with the Holy Spirit before the tribulation (as do the five wise virgins of Matthew 25:1-12 during it). We use the “eye salve” of the Holy Spirit, through in-depth personal Bible study, prayer, fasting and meditation.
The five foolish virgins will allow their oil, the Holy Spirit, to get so low they lack the desire to repent of the sin they returned to and the false teachings they fell into. The Bridegroom will say, “Depart from Me, you who work iniquity [lawlessness]” (Matthew 7:23). These will have chosen to continue in sin, chosen to continue rebelling against Truth, God’s Law and the Government of God. They will also have chosen to reject what they once enjoyed. Sobering thoughts.
If we have ears to hear at all, and even eyes that see dimly, the scripture is simple. It is clear that ALL who do not repent of being Laodicean will ultimately not make it, they will not be in the first resurrection, not be part of the Bride.
Jesus said, “Thy Word is Truth” and promised that “the Truth SHALL make you free.” This is how to return to “faith with works,” the biblically defined Government of God and how to return to Philadelphian fruits in our lives. Only the TRUTH can set us free from the disagreement and confusion that now exists. Every group today feels it is more right than the others, yet proclaims to still be brothers in the same faith. This is classic Protestant thinking, which says that the “true church” is not divided, while all the groups are VERY divided.
Think about this. When the conference of “elders-of-like-mind” convened in Indianapolis in 1995 and established the United Church of God, some among the leaders present openly commented that a government based on casting lots (balloting, voting) was, at best, a poor second choice compared to the Government of God restored by Christ in the Philadelphian Era through Mr. Armstrong. The idea was to keep our eyes open --- to watch for fruits of a work that might emerge in or from one of the “Church of God” organizations. It would reflect the Government of God at work, and have fruits similar to the WCG when it was on track and being so obviously blessed by God. THIS would be the signal for all the groups to reunite as one!
To my knowledge no committee was ever formed --- and assigned --- to be a “watchman” to look for this organization. Mona and I, as a self-appointed committee of two, have been keeping our eyes open, being frustrated with the fruits of division all around.
When we were led to the Restored Church of God, and did due diligence in our research, we confirmed to our satisfaction that the works and fruits of this organization were of God. Christ is the Head of this Church. We saw Christ at work through one He had called and appointed to finish the work --- to fulfill the prophecy of Revelation 10:11, which we should all know, “You must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” This prophecy was on Mr. Armstrong’s mind, especially in his latter years.
The first time this was done was in the 20th century. This was the first time it was possible to fulfill such a commission. This was accomplished by God through His appointed leader and support team of the entire membership of the Worldwide Church of God. Now, just before the work of the two witnesses begins, the instruction is for His Church to repeat --- under the leadership He has appointed and sent (one sent from Him) --- yes, under another Apostle --- to “prophesy (preach, proclaim) again before many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
We have found and confirmed to ourselves that the Restored Church of God is just what its name implies. And that Mr. David C. Pack is the one sent, an end time Apostle, through whom Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, is powerfully working.
When Mr. Armstrong was age 91 --- about 1984 --- Mona and I had opportunity to spend several hours with him in his home in Pasadena to visit and further report on work he had commissioned us to do. We were to report directly back to him. He talked freely of the mighty work God had given him to accomplish. He went on to tell us there was yet a bigger work still to be done, to go again and repeat what has been done, but with more power and with a stronger warning, just before the work of the two witnesses would begin. He said it would be a “short work” (Rom. 9:27-29) compared with the longer time to complete the work he had been given, and that it would be “cut short.” That’s when the great tribulation would begin, as would the work of the two witnesses. These would last for three and one-half years.
The Restored Church of God is truly about our Father’s business. I am thankful to be a part of this very end time work --- and I urge you to take a very serious look. Investigate it as we have. I heartily recommend as a starting point Mr. Pack’s book “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People.
I must caution that you will probably experience a “blizzard” of lies and deception about Mr. Pack. Do not let this deter you. I have prepared myself for some of the same treatment. You all know me, and I have known Mr. Pack for almost 30 years. Think of how Mr. Armstrong was and still is being slandered and attacked. It could not be different with Mr. Pack --- and maybe with me!
Please read the warning in Proverbs 16:27. “An ungodly man digs up evil: and in his lips there is a burning fire.” Just like in politics, distortion, deception and slander becomes necessary if one cannot win on TRUTH, right STANDARDS, correct TRADITIONS --- or FRUITS! Consider the source of what has or will be “dug up” about Mr. Pack, and what is being said about Mr. Armstrong. As the scripture above states --- those who do this digging are “ungodly men.”
Will you believe the lies… or seek out The Truth?
My wife and I believe that the Work of the Restored Church of God fully reflects the FRUITS of the Spirit, individually and collectively; with vision and zeal, and the Government of God in place and working well, and as we experienced when we were called into the Church decades ago. By God’s mercy we had our eyes opened, and we repented, were baptized and received God’s Spirit in order to be placed in the Body of Christ, the True Church and under the Government of God. We are so delighted to be “home” once again, and yes, under the leadership of Jesus Christ through Mr. Pack.
I’d now like to quote Mr. Armstrong’s May 2, 1974 personal letter to the brethren (all emphasis is his):
“Today some in the Church of God do not UNDERSTAND just what the Church of God really IS! Some have become confused as to whether there is ORGANIZATION or government in it—and I mean in GOD’S OWN CHURCH! And God HAS ONLY ONE CHURCH! (Cor. 12:12, 13.) But we ‘of the wise’ shall understand! That understanding shall be made PLAIN in this letter.”To our surprise, we also found that over the years several hundred UCG brethren, with many brethren from all the other major splinter groups, have already anointed their eyes and gone to the Restored Church of God to support the only true Work of God. They, as we, have found where all that we had in the past has been restored and is again available….including the same Government and the same gospel of the Kingdom of God.
“Many times I have told you, dear brethren, that when God first called me, beginning in the autumn of 1926, that the living Christ brought me into His truth a step at a time. YOU have not had to learn the truth so slowly—Christ used me to do it for you. And one of the very last truths He opened to me was that of CHURCH ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT!”
“Brethren, I have felt it necessary that you should know and understand these things, so you may realize WHY I did not yet fully understand the truth regarding church government and organization, in February 1939—MORE THAN 35 YEARS AGO—when I wrote an article on church organization.”
“The parallel instruction on the RANK of authority in the Church is Eph. 4, beginning with verse 11: ‘And He (Christ) gave some,…) the RSV translates it more clearly: ‘And His gifts were that some should be apostles,’ etc. Continue, ‘Some prophets, and some evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for THE WORK of the ministry (proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the world), for the edifying of the body of Christ…’”
“God has ONLY ONE CHURCH on earth, which He directs in the Doing of His Work—not TWO churches—not MANY denominations and sects, and ‘groups.’ But now are they many members, YET BUT ONE BODY’ (1 Cor. 12:20—see also v. 12,13). ‘For by one Spirit are we all (not part of us) baptized into ONE body.’”
This “little flock” has and is producing fruits so manifold that they could only be accomplished by the grace of God, with Jesus Christ the head of the Church --- through a servant faithfully dedicated and committed to Truth. We are confident that we have located the remnant continuation of the Body of the True Church of the Philadelphian Era and its leader, for whom so many have been praying and waiting.
Here are some of RCG’s end-of-the-year statistics out just this week. They review the work accomplished in 2011. As you read, remember, “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16, 20). This is an excerpt from a list (only part of it) in Mr. Pack’s January 4 Brethren/Co-Worker Letter. The whole list --- and other points --- will appear next week in his annual Open Letter to RCG’s website readers. Do check out the entire report.
“Every year the statistical growth in all categories within God’s Church and Work show an increase, and usually all of them a significant or large increase. But what follows next, brethren, is nothing short of a STATISTICAL TIDAL WAVE unlike anything we have seen before—and we have seen a lot of growth!
“Here is a bullet list of simply staggering—PHENOMENAL!—statistical increases. Some numbers compare the year 2011 to 2010, but others include additional years to help show a trend. Take time to savor what you read:
1. WEBSITE VISITORS
2. WEBSITE DOWNLOADS (in December we passed 56 million since launch on our three sites)
● Books: 395,074 (+68.2%) ● Articles: 409,480 (+41.3%) ● Bible Course: 105,334 (+36.4%)
● Splinter Books: 98,213 (+108.2%!!)—This huge spike represents more in the WCG splinters researching us.
3. WORLD TO COME BROADCASTS (video and audio)
● Video: 3,615,873 (+49.1%) ● Audio: 295,597 (+484.5%) ● YouTube: 2,461,405 (+608.1%)
4. THE REAL TRUTH MAGAZINE
The Real Truth had its most expansive year, with 1,633,881 downloads—a 134.06% increase over 2010. The online subscriber list grew by 50% above 2010, with subscribers in 162 countries/territories. 2011 also saw our single most popular article ever—“Is May 21, 2011 ‘Judgment Day’?” Downloaded 674,623 times, it worked in tandem with a special related World to Come video.
5. CHURCH INQUIRIES (those asking about a local church)
2011—7,795 (+62.8%)—Be sure to ponder the message in these increases.
6. CHURCH GROWTH
RCG experienced 20.4% increase in attendance over 2010. Since its inception, the Church has averaged just over 20% growth every year for 12 years! More important, the first five of these years (2000-2004) averaged 15.2% growth, while the next seven (2005-2011) averaged 23.5%—when the baseline number was naturally growing bigger, and thus making it much harder to even grow at the same rate. As with income, we do not list our attendance. This is because, however large we have become, size is not important. Realize that thousands consider themselves members with us. While we do not count these, it should be obvious that 20% growth for 12 straight years puts our official member total in the thousands.
7. FIELD MINISTERS AND STAFF
2011—7 fulltime ministers added (9 more are planned in 2012)
All ministers (and wives) undergo a very extensive, sophisticated training program, via Ambassador Center, The Pastor General’s Report, numerous, special Pastoral Care lectures, and an annual Conference for all ministers, among other means. Nothing like our training program is occurring anywhere else. Headquarters staff grew from 56 at the end of 2010 to 64 this year. (At very least 14 more hires, including some students, are already scheduled for just the next five months, and just at Headquarters.)
8. TOTAL 1ST TITHE AND OFFERING INCOME
2011—102.2% above 2010 (and in the worst economy since the Great Depression!)
It is time to explain why we do not list our income. This is because percent of increase is the true indicator of growth—not income “bragging rights.” This is what counts in examining the fruits of God’s Work! Think of it this way. The millions of dollars we received in 2010 more than doubled in 2011!!! The many fruits in this letter represent the “fingerprints of God” for those interested and willing to look.
9. LOCAL FUNDRAISING
Last year saw an historic worldwide local congregation fundraising effort. The hard work, dedication, vision and innovation of God’s people were incredible. The 2011 goal began at $120,000 and became $200,000 by June. This number seemed almost unattainable. But the brethren nearly quadrupled the original goal! They more than sextupled 2010’s amount. The goal for 2012 is $1 million.
The Church’s fundraising efforts have been so successful that the down payment for all of the six buildings will be entirely financed by local congregation fundraising (2011, 2012 and 2013). Some accuse God’s Church of extravagance while “gouging members” to fund projects such as our new campus. As with virtually everything else our enemies declare about us, this is completely false—members are funding this project voluntarily, through fundraising! This evidences a zeal that our critics simply cannot comprehend. My January 14 update sermon will make this brief description more clear—and even more inspiring!...
15. VISITING WORLD LEADERS
The “short Work” (Rom. 9:27-29) of “prophesying again” to “peoples, nations, tongues and kings” (Rev. 10:11) saw new doors opened, with opportunities to meet with national and municipal officials in the nation of Israel. I was received by dignitaries from the Knesset, the cities of Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, and dined with a former ambassador. These meetings, along with growing contacts with diplomatic missions at the United Nations, are paving the way for invitations to meet with other world leaders in 2012, either in their nation or at the UN in New York. More about this will come later. We also were able to film seven World to Come broadcasts at historic locations, and to visit Petra.”
Dear brethren and fellow ministers, let’s “anoint our eyes” individually. I encourage and challenge every member and minister to please read “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People. Then apply its contents. You will benefit from it greatly, as have Mona and I.
As I have been doing for several months, yes years, I urge all members and ministers --- in every group --- to read and quote Mr. Armstrong’s writings. The sooner the better!
I encourage every minister and member who is able to visit the Restored Church of God Headquarters and see it for yourself.
Mona and I remain available to serve you and all others, spiritually or physically, just as we have continued to serve others around the world over the years. However, from now on I will be a minister of the Restored Church of God, serving in the New York City area. I will also be serving as a “pastor at large”, freely communicating with anyone in UCG or individuals in other groups who wish to contact me.
I will regularly write on an important website/blog (www.rcgtruth.com) to keep you informed and updated. This will include more of my observations and thoughts. It will also contain exciting updates about God’s work, including reports from other ministers who have joined RCG, but also many other kinds of information. There is much more to say.
Our hearts and home remain open to you as they always have. Do not hesitate to contact us in person, by phone, email, snail-mail or fax.
With brotherly love and respect,
Dale L. Schurter