Meridian Church of God Seventh Day

By COGwriter

There is a small seventh day Church of God that is headquartered in Meridian, Idaho.

Here is what its website lists for its church history:

Church History

The local Meridian church was founded in 1923 by Elder A.H. Stith, after he had been holding Bible studies in his home.  The congregation met in a local school until a church was built in 1929.  

The church continued to grow throughout the years and plans for a new church were started in the 1960s.  In 1968 the work began in our existing church, which was first used for the Lord’s Supper Service in the spring of 1970.

During the 1990s, we also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the church and it continues to thrive with faith in God and our love for one another. http://www.meridianchurch.org/introduction/church-history/ accessed 06/25/20

Here is more on its history--which basically points to it as a group that had ties to the CG7 group that had been in Stanberry, Missouri:

"Back to Stanberry" Group

Perhaps the major departure from the Merger Group took place in 1950-51. At Meridian, Idaho the "Bible Church of God - Seventh Day" was formed by elements formerly of Stanberry that refused to go along with the Merger. In spirit, if not in name, they constituted a "Back to Stanberry" Group.

Philosophy of Local Autonomy

The 1948-49 Merger of the Salem and Stanberry groups "did not unite all of the Church of God. ...

Those who had not changed their ideas and still held to usage of pork were for the Merger, but against the Merger Constitution which was made a test of faith. A minister who believed pork was all right would not get credentialed by the Merger Group. Before the 1933 split, pork or no pork was not a test. As Clair W. Ahlborn states, issues like this were "handled in Christian love."35 Now it was being insisted upon. This almost guaranteed the failure of complete unification.

The Organization Issue

Salem had been organized with the "Bible numbers" of 12, 7 and 70. Stanberry was not so tightly organized. It had a committee of seven. The Merger Constitution was almost a carbon copy of the Old Salem articles, and carried over the tight organization with the 12-7-70. The "local autonomy" people did not support this type of organization.

Formation of Meridian Group

A.H. Stith and several other staunch pork eaters voted for the merger, because they were for unity, but their revulsion to the Merger Constitution led them to break away and in effect formulate a "Back to Stanberry" movement.

 . . . several of the ministers and members of the former Stanberry General Conference could not accept the compromise in doctrine and practice that their church had made, forsaking the principles so dear to the members of God's Church. They had remained faithful to congregational government and other Biblical truths when the division came in 1933, they reasoned that now was not the time to forsake those same principles and truths.

A meeting at Meridian, Idaho was called during the summer of 1950 which resulted in the organizing of former Stanberry churches and members across the country that refused to go with the Merger.36 Originally called "Bible Church of God - Seventh Day," the name was changed about 1963 to "General Council of the Churches of God - Seventh Day." There was to be no "test of fellowship" for the group except "the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."

Organizers of the Movement

A group of ministers from Idaho led the movement from the start. They published a paper, The Acts, and in the first issue, March 1, 1951, stated: "We believe firmly in unity among the Brethren. However, we are convinced that such unity cannot be achieved by a set of rules imposed upon the Brethren by a majority. This is not God's Way . . . we cannot expect to see eye to eye upon all things, for we have not all reached the same spiritual growth. This does not mean that God rejects us. He teaches us unity through tolerance and charity or Christian love . . . . Thus our motto is 'Unity through tolerance and Christian love,' . . . rather than unity through force."37

Clair W. Ahlborn, a former teacher at Spring Vale Academy in Owosso, Michigan and a native of Idaho, was first edit of The Acts. But he was not a real minister and not the leader of the movement. The first officers were:38

General Conference Officers

Mark Burnham, President, Meridian

Nettie Burnham, Secretary, Meridian

Arthur Estep, Vice President, Port Orchard, Washington

Edna Palmer, Treasurer, Kuna, Idaho

Committeemen

A.H. Stith, Meridian

Frank Williamson, Caldwell

James Kling, Nampa

Clair Ahlborn, Meridian

Luvelt Palmer, Kuna

The first camp meeting was held in late June of 1951 at Meridian. Attendance for the evening services ranged from 60 to 200, and there were 250 on the last Sabbath. Those preaching were Elders:39

Edgar Lippincott, Missouri

A.H. Stith, Idaho

M.W. Unzicker, Oregon

Arthur Estep, Washington

Boyd Dowers, Idaho

R.C. Glassford, California

Roy Davison, Idaho

Mark Burnham, Idaho

At the 1952 campmeeting, 144-200 were present. The elders present were:

Harry Ford, Marion

Jack Slankard, Charlie Salkeld, Iowa

Jack Slankard, Charlie Salkeld, Iowa

Lippincott, Unzicker, Estep, Stith, Ahlborn, Burnham, Idaho

Valencia, California

By July of 1952, the Church of God Publishing House, which today houses the press and college, was ready for use.40 Another paper, reporting church news, The Fellowship Herald, was established.

Beliefs of Meridian Group

The Acts (standing for: "Advocating Christ the Savior") magazine contained a brief statement of beliefs, which closed with the statement: "We believe the true church organization taught in the Bible is local autonomy and that the Bible name for the church is THE CHURCH OF GOD. That the test of Christian fellowship is the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."41 Local autonomy and no test of fellowship appeared to be the big difference between Meridian and Denver-Stanberry.

The Meridians came out with the nearest thing to a statement of beliefs, a "Declaration of Things Most Commonly Believed among Us," which they stressed was not a test of fellowship.42

At first, most Meridians ate pork. Later, most of them changed their views to anti-pork. Not all their young men became conscientious objectors, but the church supported the convictions of those who did. "Pentecostalism" of the "spiritual" style rather than speaking in tongues was commonly adhered to. However, Billy Watts of Springfield, Oregon apparently went overboard on this and lost good graces with them.

Mark Burnham, pastor of the Meridian church, and son-in-law of Arvin H. Stith (deceased), said Christians should have "a real experience with the Lord." He said he is saved and that he was working with many young people who want a "born again" experience. Burnham ate pork, and probably got his ideas from his father-in-law Stith.

In 1971, Burnham reported that there were at least seventeen divisions of the Church of God which have come about since the initial split in 1933.43 Actually, there were many more.

Carl Palmer was minister of the Milwaukee, Oregon Church of God, in 1971 which was affiliated with Meridian. He said that there was speaking in tongues in his church, but it was not emphasized. About one third of the ministers spoke in tongues, and the movement had been growing lately. However, he did not do so.44 The Milwaukee church emphasized music.

British-Israelism at Meridian

Frank Walker quit the Merger Group in 1951 because he was against their kind of organization. In 1971, he taught at Meridian's Maranatha College.

Walker's "Anglo Israel" ideas have already been discussed. He estimated that 1/3 to 2/3 of the Meridian group leaned in this direction. Roy Davison (deceased), who worked in Idaho for some time, was a firm believer in Anglo-Israelism. Other believers besides Walker were Claude Ellis and the Palmers.

The Church of God has long taught that the Jews will be restored to their homeland, and Armageddon will be fought by the Jews and their allies against Russia (Gog) and its allies. The Two-Horned Beast is said to be the Holy Roman Empire, and Babylon the Catholic Church.

Walker and his father W.K. Walker may have gotten their Anglo-Israel ideas through G.G. Rupert, whom they met in 1913-1914. Walker admitted that he believed a lot like Herbert Armstrong on the Israel Identity question, but he differed in that he thinks the United States is Ephraim, the younger and greater nation. His 32-page pamphlet, "Hope of Israel," explained that the Ten Tribes were never amalgamated back with the Jews, but continued to exist as the Celtic and Teutonic peoples of Europe and America, and elsewhere. They will remain separate until they become one nation, when the two sticks are put together, Ezekiel 37. Joseph is not dead, but he cares for his brethren, (the 5 1/2 million Jews in the United States). Thus, according to Walker, the United States will defend the Jews at Armageddon against Russia, which will be a battle of Israelites versus Gentiles.

Walker was speaker of the Bible Sabbath Association's radio program, "Echoes from Eden," for eleven years, from 1960 to 1971.

Meridian Not The Only True Church

Both Palmer and Walker did not believe theirs is the "true church." Palmer noted that people in his church are baptized into Christ, not into the Church of God. The people in the true church have their names written in heaven, and no organization exists that one must belong to in order to be a true Christian. Walker, in referring to Armstrong's later development of a tight church government, said "Any people that claim to be the only people of God, I am against, because we are all God's children." Palmer worked with the Merger Group people, and had a very broad view of the Church of God.

Differences of opinion must certainly have been rife in the Meridian Group, owing to the nature of their organization. As Clair Ahlborn stated, doctrinal differences, such as pork, were handled the same way the church handled them before the division of 1933, "in Christian love."

Meridian Organization

The church government of the Meridian Group is highly congregational. Ministers serve "at the pleasure of the membership." Elders are elected by the local congregations, and the churches determine to what extent they would cooperate with the General Council program. ...

Maranatha College, founded in 1963-64, had 17 students in 1971. ...

Meridian, Idaho Group

The Meridian group continued to publish the Acts and Fellowship Herald magazines. The 1986 Directory states there were 26-30 affiliated congregations in North America and five in Latin America.

(Nickels R. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Giving & Sharing, 1988, pp. 186-194, 215)

The following was its online Statement of Belief in June 2020:

1. THE SCRIPTURES

We believe that the Bible, both the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, is given by inspiration of God. We believe that the Holy Spirit inspired the thoughts of the writers with the results that the original documents were inerrant as to fact and infallible as to truth. We further believe that the Bible is the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions shall be tried. (II Timothy 3:16, 17; 11 Peter 1:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Psalm 12:6, 7)

2.  THE GODHEAD

We believe, as revealed in the Bible

a. In the one true God the Father who is the eternal and supreme Deity. He is infinite in His wisdom, love and power, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, “in whom we live, and move, and have our being.” (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 40:28; Matthew 19:26; Jeremiah 23:23, 24; Romans 11:33; Acts 17:24-28)

b. And in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the only begotten Son of God, who came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. We believe in His deity, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death on Calvary, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of God in heaven, in His ministry as our High Priest and Mediator, in His personal return to the earth at the end of this age to establish His kingdom and rule this earth in great power and glory, judging the living and the dead. (I Timothy 3:16; John 3:16; Matthew 1:21-23)

c. And in the Holy Spirit, the promised Comforter, which is the agency of the Father and the Son to convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment to come. By this same Spirit of God we are sanctified and sealed unto the day of redemption. For those who diligently seek the Spirit, it will lead and guide into all truth and empower the believer for witnessing and service. (John 14:16, 17, 26; 16:7-11; Ephesians 1:13, 14; Acts 2:38, 39)

3. CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST

We believe the Scriptures plainly teach that Jesus Christ was crucified and buried in the middle of the week, on the day we call Wednesday, and He was in the tomb three days and three nights. He arose towards the end of the Sabbath day (Saturday) and thus fulfilled the sign given by Jesus in Matthew 12:39-40.

4. MAN’S CONDITION

We believe man was created for immortality, but through sin he forfeited his divine birthright; that because of sin, death entered into the world and passed upon all men, and that only through faith in Jesus Christ can depraved man become “partakers of the divine nature,” and live forever. (I Corinthians 15:22; Genesis 3:22; Romans 3:23; 5:12; 11 Peter 1:4)

5. MAN’S SALVATION

We believe that man in his state of depravity cannot extricate himself and therefore God provided salvation free to all those who accept it on God’s condition that he repent before God, receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, accept His precious blood as his payment for sin, and obey the command to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. At this time his sins are forgiven and he receives a full pardon from God. This is called justification. Now he isa new person in Christ. (John 3:16; 11 Corinthians 6:2; Acts 2:38; John 14:6; Romans 6:23; Acts 4:12; 11 Corinthians 5:17)

6. A HOLY LIFE AND SANCTIFICATION

We believe to know God’s will and become more like Him is a natural consequence of salvation. God is holy and requires that His children be holy and sanctified. Sanctification means a separation from worldly influences and consecration to God. This is attained through prayer, Bible study, church attendance and fellowship with other Christians. Sanctification happens as we grow in grace and knowledge, which commences at conversion and continues through one’s whole life. (Ephesians 4:12, 13; Hebrews 10:25; 11 Peter 2:20; I Peter 2:2, 9; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Matthew 7:7; 26:41; I Peter 1:13-16; 11 Timothy 2:21; Colossians 1:9, 10)

7. STATE OF THE DEAD

We believe at death a person truly dies and his thoughts, feelings emotions perish. His body goes to the grave (sheol, hades) and his spirit (breath) returns to God who gave it. The Bible talks about this time that will seem but a moment as sleep, that will only be disrupted when Jesus returns, calling all from the grave who trusted in Him. (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; 12:7; Job 14:10-14; Daniel 12:2; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Psalm 146:4)

8. ETERNAL REWARDS

a. The Just: will receive eternal life at the return of Jesus bringing to pass the saying, “death is swallowed up in victory,” and, “this mortal must put on immortality.” The righteous will reign with Christ on earth and receive the reward He has prepared for them that love Him. (Revelation 5:10; 21:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:53, 54; John 14:1-3; 11 Timothy 1:10)

b. The Unjust: will be “punished with everlasting destruction,” suffering the complete extinction of being. This is the second death. (Revelation 20:6, 12-15; 11 Thessalonians 1:9; Matthew 10:28; John 5:28-29)

9. THE CHURCH

We believe the church is of divine origin, established upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. This spiritual body includes all who have received forgiveness of their sins, through Christ, and placed themselves under His headship. This is the universal church.

Our local church is a necessary part of this body. The purpose of this local congregation is for people to meet together who have like goals and beliefs, who come together to worship and have fellowship, be built up in the faith, and be prepared to face the challenges of living a victorious Christian life in the home and marketplace. (Acts 2:21, 39, 47; John 3:16; Ephesians 1:19-23; 2:11-22; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 1:18; Acts 14:22, 23; Titus 1:5)

10. ORDINANCES OF THE CHURCH

We believe Christ has given certain ordinances He desires His entire body to observe. These are:

a. Water baptism by immersion. After repenting of and receiving forgiveness for sins, the new believer will want to be baptized. This is a statement, to all who witness it, that Jesus has been accepted as both Savior and Lord. Baptism also symbolizes dying to the old sinful life and an eagerness to walk in “newness of life” in the power of the Spirit. (Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19-21; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:36-38; Romans 6:3-5)

b. The Lord’s Supper. This service commemorates the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ “till He comes” and is a memorial that should be observed yearly at the beginning of the 14th of Nisan (Abib) with unleavened bread and “fruit of the vine”, which represent the broken body and shed blood of Christ. It is also a loving symbol of Christian fellowship and a pledge of renewed allegiance to our risen Lord and Savior. (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

c. The observance of the act of washingthe saint’s feet. This service should be held in connection with the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “If I, then, your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye also OUGHT to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:1-17)

11. THE TEN COMMANDMENT LAW

We believe the Ten Commandments are eternal and portray for us what God is like so we can understand what is expected of us when He tells us to “be holy for I am holy.” Some people may view God negatively when they find out how God expects them to live, but each commandment is designed to protect us from an area of sin as well as guide us in right interpersonal relationships. When obeyed, the Ten Commandments give us direction for daily living, protection from the consequences of sin, and confidence to serve God wholeheartedly. (Exodus 20:3-17; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Deuteronomy 9:10; Romans 3:20; Matthew 5:17-19; James 2:8-12; 1 John 3:21-24)

12. THE SABBATH

We believe that the scriptural Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, commonly called Saturday, that it was not a day randomly picked out as a day on which to gather for worship, but rather, it was a day created by God at the culmination of His creation work, and He blessed it and set it apart for a holy purpose. God knew man needed rest, but more importantly, He understood his need for time to develop and maintain a strong relationship with Himself, the Creator. The Sabbath is to be observed from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Luke 4:16; Matthew 24:20; Mark 2:27, 28; Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; 18:4; Hebrews 4:9; Leviticus 23:32)

13. PRAYER AND DIVINE HEALING

We believe prayer is the privilege and duty of every Christian, a drawing near to God, a spiritual communion for the purpose of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, intercession and direction. Prayer, anointed by the Spirit, is the most powerful force there is. It is limitless because the power of God is without limit. We believe in the “laying on of hands” by the elders for divine healing. We also believe God delights to see all of His people doing the “greater works”, praying the “prayer of faith” and seeing the miraculous hand of God move. We believe miracles are for us today just as they were in the early church. (Matthew 28:19-21; Mark 16:17; John 14:12, 13; 15:1-7, 16; James 5:14-16; Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:1, 8).

14. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

We believe that Jesus Christ, according to His promise, will come again to this earth, even “in like manner” as He went into heaven–personally, visibly and gloriously–to reign here on earth with His holy saints for a thousand years. This coming is the blessed hope of the church, inasmuch as upon that coming depend the resurrection of the dead and the reward of the righteous, the abolition of sin and its fruits, and the renewal of the earth now marred by sin, which will become the eternal home of the redeemed, after which event the earth will forever be free from sin and the curse of death. (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Revelation 22:12-20; Matthew 25:31, 32; I Corinthians 15:24-58; Acts 3:21; Revelation 19:11-16; Daniel 7:27; 11 Peter 3:13; Proverbs 10:30; Matthew 5:5)

15. SIGNS OF THE TIMES

We believe that Bible prophecy has indicated the approximate time or season of Christ’s return, comparing testimony with the signs of the times (such as the regathering of Israel, famines, earthquakes, wars and rumors of war, and “perilous times”) we are confident that He is near, “even at the doors.”  We believe that the great duty of the hour is the proclamation of this soon-coming redemption, the defense of the Bible truth and authority warning the nations to flee the wrath to come and following the last command of our Savior to His disciples to preach (teach) this message to all of the world, and to remember His promise that He would be with us even till the end of the age. (II Peter 1:19-21; Matthew 24:27-46; Revelation 22:17; 11:18; 11 Timothy 3:1-7; Romans 15:4)

Other than what the above does not allude to at all, the fact that it does NOT list Matthew 24:14 as a proclamation priority means it is not focused on teaching the full gospel.

Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 24:14:

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

Notice that according to Jesus, the end does NOT come until Matthew 24:14 is fulfilled. We in the CCOG have a booklet that covers this in English: The Gospel of the Kingdom of God and at the following website, in about 100 other languages: https://www.ccog.org

The Journal: News of the Churches of God dated March-April 2007 put out the following:

Idaho—The General Council of the Church of God 7th Day, based in Meridian, Idaho, has decided to develop a “systematic-theology project” to help with training of its ministry and “local eldership,” said Tom Roberts, seminary professor at the CG7’s Maranatha College and coordinator of the church’s ministry.

Dr. Roberts directs the project. The goal of the undertaking is to help the Church of God “better understand where its teachings fall within the larger context of theological history,” Dr. Roberts said. The project will involve scholars from “all corners of our Sabbatarian persuasion and to emphasize our common biblical heritage.” The scheduled date of publication is July 2008.

While I cooperated with Dr. Roberts back then, ultimately he left the COG and is more of a Greek Orthodox Catholic.

Notice the following from a group calling itself the Jerusalem 7th Day Church of God (bolding added):

The Jerusalem World Headquarters has representatives laboring in establishing this true faith in about every country of the world, where many congregations have been raised up, and many evangelists are laboring. Calls come in to Jerusalem World Headquarters for Jewish ministers, and they are being sent to different countries. ...

We believe they are all gathering fruit for the kingdom, and the foundation creed of all of these groups is the same, viz., Revelation 12:17, ―the commandments of Elohim and the testimonies of Yahshua (Christ).

One of these headquarters is Denver, Colorado; another, Meridian, Idaho, and some that make the sacred Hebrew names of the Father and the Son, a special part of their message (Proverbs 30:4; Psalm 68:4, and 91:14, also 69:35, 36, and Isaiah 52:6) are located at Junction City, Oregon, and Jackson Gap, Alabama, also The Faith of Holt, Michigan.

We believe these will all fall in line with the Holy Scriptures and publicly affirm that Jerusalem was chosen of the Father, and must be recognized as the World Headquarters by all of the remnant people holding to the New Testament name, and the true faith once delivered to the saints, as they are led further by the Holy Spirit. http://jsd-cog.org/a-brief-history/ 02/8/17

The Church in Denver does NOT consider that this Jerusalem-based group is part of them—and I confirmed this with the President of the Church of God Seventh Day (Denver) group, Loren Stacy, on December 21, 2017. Nor is the Jerusalem group part of the Meridian-referenced church (which I confirmed with their President Roger Boone on December 21, 2017). I also asked their pastor Jody Crowson about the Jerusalem group on June 30, 2020 and he said they were not part of them nor do they use sacred names (nor does CG7-D). Actually, the people I had spoken with at those churches had not ever even heard of the Jerusalem 7th Day Church of God until I brought that group up.

More on the the Jerusalem group can be found in the article: J7DCG: Jerusalem 7th Day Church of God.

Other Doctrines

In a telephone conversation on June 30, 2020, Meridian pastor Jody Crowson confirmed that the Meridian group does teach annihilation, allows for people to keep the Holy Days if they with (but officially they do not), and allows people to eat pork (though he said he does not and most do not).

Regarding alcohol, Jody Crowson says that although they are officially opposed to alcohol, he realizes that various passages of scripture do allow for the consumption of alcohol. But their basic view is that those who do not consume alcohol do not become drunk, so that is better.

He admitted that it made sense that Jesus would have used wine for His last Passover (which they observe with grape juice as the Last Supper). We in the Continuing Church of God follow Jesus' instructions and do consume a small amount of wine (not grape juice) for the Passover ceremony.

When asked about "church periods" (A.N. Dugger's term) or "church eras" (a term commonly used by groups once part of the old Worldwide Church of God, Jody Crowson said he was not familiar with the Meridian group teaching that.

So, the Meridian group is similar to some of the others that had some type of connection to the old Stanberry group. But does not hold to many teachings that groups whose leaders had ties to the old Worldwide Church of God do.

End Note Although it has been reported that "The doctrinal differences among the Churches of God are minuscule. You can't get a knifes edge between us on doctrines" (Dart, Ron. CEM Founder Talks About Bickering, Bridges, the Future. The Journal. July 31, 1999. p.6), this author does not believe that one can examine the teachings of groups, such as the Meridian, and come to that conclusion. Here is a related article of possible interest: What is a True Philadelphian?

Thiel B. Meridian Church of God Seventh Day. COGWriter (c) https://www.cogwriter.com/mcgsd.htm

Back to home page