Journal Out: Ron Dart’s CEM, CG7, Feast of Tabernacles, Bob Fahey, Frank Scherich, and a Big Sandy investigation


The latest issue (says #177, print date September-October 2015) of The Journal was sent out electronically and received a few hours ago.

Items covered included information on CEM, CG7, Feast of Tabernacles, Bob Fahey, Frank Scherich, and a Big Sandy investigation.  This is the first issue that I noticed my byline on two articles on the front page.

Here is some of what Dixon Cartwright reported about CEM and Ron Dart:

Ron Dart is still recovering from an injury he sustained in a fall at his residence on April 9, 2010. His head struck a bookcase, causing internal and external bleeding and the beginning of a long period of convalescence. Yet the ministry he and his wife, Allie, founded in 1995 continues to serve members of the Churches of God and other listeners to Mr. Dart’s Born to Win radio broadcast and readers of printed materials produced by Christian Educational Ministries. (Outside the United States the Darts’ ministry is sometimes known as Christian Educational Services.)

Recent interview

Recently Mrs. Dart sat for an interview with a member of CEM’s homeoffice-based Sabbath congregation in which she talked about her and her husband’s personal and professional histories and plans. The interview is included later in this article. CEM began in 1995 when Mr. and Mrs. Dart left their membership in the Church of God International. Mr. Dart told THE JOURNAL in 1998 that his personal ministry had been “driven for many years by Matthew 28:19-20” (“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you . . .”) “Wherever we are in whatever circumstances we are in, we must pursue the making of disciples and the teaching of those disciples to do the things that Jesus commanded,” he told JOUR- NAL writer Bill Stough at the time. Not a new church Mr. Dart said he did “not want to build a church [when he started CEM]. I told Garner Ted Armstrong when I resigned from CGI [the Church of God International] that I thought the last thing the world needed was another WCG [Worldwide Church of God] splinter group. “I decided I would form a service ministry . . . Radio seems to be what I do best.”

Ron Dart has long said he did not start a church. The Journal also asked Mrs. Allie Dart some questions:

THE JOURNAL: We understand that Mr. Dart is not able to record new broadcasts of Born to Win. Are there plans to feature other voices as presenters on the radio program?

Mrs. Dart: I don’t think we need to discuss that at this point. But I would say we’re certainly considering it at some point.

THE JOURNAL: Although CEM was not founded as a church per se, the CEM Fellowship Group is a church, is it not?

Mrs. Dart: We have Sabbath services so I guess you could call it whatever you want to.

For more information about CEM, check out the article Teachings of Christian Educational Ministries.

Here is what I submitted to The Journal, of version of which (without the photographs) is on its front page:

While in Denver, I got an opportunity to visit the headquarters of Church of God (Seventh Day), Denver (CG7). There I met with CG7′s former president Robert Coulter.

CCOG’s Bob Thiel and CG7’s Robert Coulter

Robert Coulter and I have conversed over the years, mainly on matters of church history, Christology, and working with people in South America and Africa. This was our first face-to-face meeting and we discussed those subjects and more. He and I had more personally in common than I thought as I learned we both spent time in Africa, South America, and Michigan doing church work.

(Because of responsibilities related to the Feast of Tabernacles, I did not report about this meeting here until now as I simply did not have time to get the few photographs resized until a few hours ago so that they could be posted on WordPress as I do not have Adobe Photoshop on my laptop.)

Robert Coulter also showed me CG7′s ‘vault,’ which is a storage room with original copies of old CG7 publications. He showed me, for example, the first edition of the old Hope of Israel magazine.

Robert Coulter with the first edition of the Hope of Israel which has a print date of August 10, 1863

While in Denver, I had also hoped to meet with another former CG7 president, Calvin Burrell. However, he recently moved to the State of Oregon–Calving Burrell has since emailed me to see if we can meet in the future. He and I have discussed doctrinal matters as well as matters related to contacts in Africa.

Several groups in Africa who have contacted the Continuing Church of God in the past couple of years have used some version of the name Church of God Seventh-Day and I have tried to determine their sincerity as well as their possible connections to the group in Denver.

In 2015, we were contacted by groups in Ethiopia and Ghana who use a version of the term Church of God 7th Day as their name. I discussed those groups with Calvin Burrell some months ago. After that and additional contacts, I determined it would be wise to send CCOG Pastors Evans Ochieng and John Owak to meet those in Ghana in August 2015. I also worked on matters related to supporting those in Ghana to observe the Feast of Tabernacles this year, as well as assisted in clarifying doctrinal issues related to the Feast of Trumpets and the Last Great Day. We hope that CCOG Pastor Evans Ochieng will be able to go to Ethiopia relatively soon to meet with those interested in that nation.

Those groups in Ghana and Ethiopia were not breaking away from the Denver group according to Calvin Burrell (nor had I thought so, but wanted to check). When I met with Robert Coulter, he explained that there are groups that are formally part of the CG7 International Conference, but that there are also independent groups that have associate status–but that it is really a name-only association.

Robert Coulter and I discussed how I was told the Ethiopians first became affiliated with a Church of God minister from Kenya and that there were around 200 in the group that contacted us (how many are truly interested in the CCOG remains to be seen). I also mentioned that there were about 500 in the group in Ghana that we were starting to work with. He provided some of his insights to that part of the world, and he and I discussed our own respective visits to Kenya and other parts of Africa.

While in Denver, I was unable to meet with new CG7 president Loren Stacey as he has not yet moved to CG7′s Denver office in his new role.

My main interests in meeting with CG7 was to improve information on church history, pass on doctrinal information, help prevent misunderstandings, reduce the possibility of getting misled by pretenders to the COG located in various parts of the world while we in the Continuing Church of God work to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20. We also discussed, but did not dwell on, prophetic and other differences, but did discuss the belief that God will call all.

Anyway, the meeting I had in person with Robert Coulter was helpful and productive as were my previous telephone and email contacts with him and Calvin Burrell.

After my article, Dixon Cartwright had his own short piece on CG7:

Mr. Coulter’s visit to Big Sandy in ’08

Editor’s note: See also “Former CG7 President [Robert Coulter] Gives His Understanding of History of Church of God and Mr. Armstrong,” THE JOURNAL, issue No. 132, dated September-December 2008.

THE JOURNAL, and Church of God members in Big Sandy during a Q&A in 2008, questioned Mr. Coulter on several historical and doctrinal points.

What can happen to babies?

One question that came up was “What [according to official CG7 Denver doctrine] happens to people who died in infancy or never heard the words ‘Jesus Christ’ in their lifetimes?”

Mr. Coulter responded that the “righteous” will be resurrected at the Second Coming, and the remainder will not be resurrected until the end of the 1,000 years.

“So what happens to people who are resurrected after the 1,000 years?” a writer for THE JOURNAL asked.

“Well, God will raise them and pass judgment on them, and they would be judged, in a sense, and annihilated,” Mr. Coulter responded.

The fact that God will offer salvation to all as well as what happens to babies are topics that I also brought up to Robert Coulter when I met him.  I even mentioned to him that I had twice sent CG7’s Calvin Burrell, at his request, a link to my article Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis.

Perhaps I should add here that one of the doctrines that first got me interested in the Church of God was the teaching about what happens to babies when they die (see also Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants and What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die?).

The Journal had a few Feast of Tabernacles’ reports.  About half had to do with those of the Continuing Church of God.  To read even more than The Journal reported, along with more photographs, check out the link: CCOG Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2015.

The Journal ran the following obituary on UCG minister Robert Fahey:

Funeral services were Oct. 11, 2015, for Robert Fahey at Hinsdale Community House in Hinsdale, Ill. ¶ Robert Edmund “Bob” Fahey was born Jan. 15, 1940, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Mildred (Bower) and Walter Fahey. After his parents divorced when he was 2, he moved many times around the country with his mother, often in less than ideal circumstances. The two eventually relocated back to Cleveland to be near Bob’s grandmother, Elizabeth Bower, and his aunts and uncles, Evelyn (Bower) and Charles Delamater, Stan and Louis Bower, and Jim Bower. ¶ After finishing high school in Cleveland, Bob entered General Electric’s Management Apprenticeship Program. He worked for GE for three years, and in 1961 the direction of his life was changed when he enrolled in Ambassador College in Pasadena, Calif., to pursue his newfound interest in biblical studies. ¶ In 1963 he was transferred to Ambassador’s British campus in Bricket Wood, England. ¶ In a single month in 1965 he graduated, was ordained into the ministry and married Evelyn Thomas from Kalamazoo, Mich. ¶ The couple’s first pastorate was Glasgow, Scotland. Then in 1966 the Faheys were transferred to Melbourne, Australia, to pastor the congregations in the states of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. ¶ Joanna Marie and Jonathan Thomas were born in Melbourne in 1966 and 1968, respectively. ¶ In 1969 the Faheys were transferred to Johannesburg, South Africa, where Bob became regional director for Southern Africa. In 1972 their third child, Robert Benjamin, was born in Johannesburg. From 1976 to 1978 Bob served as regional director for all of Africa. Other assignments included regional director of Canada in 1980, executive assistant to Herbert W. Armstrong, pastor of four congregations in and around New York City during the mid-1980s and regional director of Australia and Asia in 1986. ¶ While serving in Australia he also enjoyed caring for the congregation in Hong Kong. ¶ In 1990 Bob and Evelyn returned to their Midwest roots as pastor of the Chicago congregation, a post Bob held for the last 25 years. ¶ On a personal side, many have commented over the last few days that Bob was larger than life, a true extrovert with a full social calendar, exuding energy and determination. He loved to study books on business management, history, human development and more, but his passion was studying the Bible. ¶ Through the years he developed extensive studies on most of the books of the New Testament, as well as many biblical studies with general-life applications. ¶ In his youth (friends and family have commented) he “had a cool haircut, drove a cool car and listened to cool music.” In his 20s and 30s friends shared that he was “a man’s man” and “macho,” “a constant swirl of activity and energy.” In his 40s and 50s he was known as “a man with deep conviction,” “having amazing drive and resiliency” and “a strategic mind with a laser focus on results.” In his 60s he was known as a man with growing “wisdom, maturity, strength and love,” “willing to learn from others” and “open to trying new approaches.” In his 70s he was described as having “silver-fox hair, holding a cane” and being “a dedicated husband to an ailing wife.” ¶ In June 2015 the couple was honored with a special church tea to note the 50th anniversary of Bob’s ordination as an elder. It was a meaningful time for the couple and they fondly reminisced on their many travels and the friends they had enjoyed together through the years. ¶ The following week on July 3, 2015, Bob hosted a celebratory dinner for his bride and their family to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. ¶ On Monday, Sept. 28, first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Robert E. Fahey, 75, died unexpectedly. He was recovering at home from a heart-stent procedure completed less than two weeks prior, and all indications had been that he would make a full recovery. This was the first Feast he had missed in 54 years because he was resting and attending to Evelyn, who was four weeks into her stay at a rehabilitation facility after surgery to repair a broken hip. Bob had been visiting her twice a day before his heart procedure and was working diligently to help her gain strength so she might have an opportunity to return home. ¶ Robert Edmund Fahey dedicated his life to preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God and helping others towards that goal. He trusted God and lived in faithful anticipation of the resurrection to eternal life. His example of steadfast service and forward momentum despite many obstacles encourages those who follow along behind him: a husband, father, grandfather and teaching pastor who is greatly missed.

Robert Fahey’s name seems familiar to me, but I do not believe we ever met.

The Journal ran the following obituary on ICG minister Frank Dorwin Scherich:

Francis “Frank” Dorwin Scherich was loved by his family, friends, brethren and all who knew him worldwide. He loved people and he loved life and enjoyed it to the fullest. He was a faithful and dedicated minister of Jesus Christ for 35 years. ¶ Frank was born March 17, 1934, in Wind Ridge “Jacktown,” Pa., as the youngest child of Herbert Paul and Ruby Durbin Scherich. He grew up in his mother’s childhood home and helped out on the farm. He was responsible for tending the sheep, which prepared him for being a shepherd of God’s people. ¶ He graduated from Richhill High School and attended Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania. Annually, he would return to his birthplace and the green rolling hills and tall trees of his beloved Greene County. Frank’s childhood friend, Patricia R. Burns, became his wife on May 12, 1955. They reared six children and enjoyed 50 years together before her passing in 2005. ¶ One of Frank’s greatest passions was flying. He served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force for six years, until he was called by God and was baptized in April of 1959. After leaving the Air Force, he worked as a flight instructor in Pennsylvania and Ohio, teaching numerous students to obtain their private pilot’s license and was also a charter pilot. He also taught two of his sons, Fran and Barry, how to fly. ¶ He was employed in the early ’70’s as a pilot for the Worldwide Church of God in Pasadena, Calif., and Big Sandy, Texas. When he accepted a job as a private pilot in the Austin area, he moved his family to Liberty Hill, Texas where he lived for 39 years. ¶ In 1980 he was ordained a minister in Church of God International and pastored several churches in central Texas over the years. When he became an area coordinator his responsibilities increased to supervising congregations throughout portions of the central part of the country, necessitating long hours of travel. ¶ He loved teaching others about God and was doing so right up until his passing. This included traveling a long distance every week to lead a Bible study. ¶ Family was also a priority for Frank, and some of his greatest joys came from family gatherings where interesting conversation, food and card games were a family tradition. His life experiences, love for travel and extensive knowledge on just about any subject became the fodder for fascinating stories. ¶ He was a voracious reader with an extensive library, as well as an amateur astronomer. His innovative mind enabled him to figure out or fix just about any mechanical or technical problem. His skill for carpentry was often employed in enhancing not only his own home but others’ as well, even to the extent of building a home for his son. He was happiest when he was using his talents to help others. ¶ He was an avid *Star Trek* fan and enjoyed many other pursuits, but two years ago he discovered a new passion: a white Scottish terrier he named Buddy who became his travel buddy and constant companion. He now had a partner to share his zest for life, adventure and new discoveries. ¶ He was warm, loving, generous, compassionate, kind, considerate, humorous and a true gentleman. He loved life and he seemed to have found the proper balance to fully enjoy it. He was known for his smile, laughter and positive outlook. ¶ Faithful to the end, he finished his course on Oct. 1, 2015. ¶ He was preceded in death by his beloved wife; three infant children, Laura Lee, Scott Durbin and Michael Jones; one infant granddaughter, Allison McCammon; his parents; and siblings Herbert Paul Scherich Jr. and Christine Staggers. ¶ Survivors include three sons, Frank Scherich Jr. and wife Sharon of Grapevine Texas; Randy and wife Mary of Leander, Texas; and Barry of Mart, Texas; three daughters, Becky Tate and husband John of New Caney, Texas; Debbie McCammon and husband Phil of Leander, Texas; and Sherry Evans and husband David of Georgetown, Texas; 17 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. ¶ His funeral was Oct. 11 at the Angel Springs Event Center in Georgetown.

The Journal ran the following:

Buyer of Big Sandy campus investigated

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.— Reports from several news media say that U.S. federal investigators are looking into the David and Barbara Green family, founders of the Hobby Lobby arts-and-crafts chain of stores.

Allegations are that Hobby Lobby smuggled ancient artifacts into the country illegally, The Daily Beast and other sources report. The Green Family Trust bought the former Ambassador University campus in Big Sandy in 2000 and sold it for a token amount (said to be $1) to the ministry of Bill Gothard of La Grange, Ill.

Mr. Gothard is said to operate several varieties of Christian ministries, and one of them is the International ALERT (Air, Land Emergency Rescue Training) Academy, which operates the campus as a military-style training school for young men. The probe of Hobby Lobby is based on a 2011 shipment of 200-300 small clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform.

The Greens are deeply religious evangelical Christians, and the tablets were to be a part of their planned Museum of the Bible, scheduled to open in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Museum President Cary Summers confirmed the seizure of the tablets and the federal investigation, according to The Daily Beast.

I had heard of this investigation.  Since decades ago Big Sandy was part of the old Worldwide Church of God, I thought I would include the report here.  I have personally been to Big Sandy, but that was several decades ago.

Anyway, The Journal also had the usual letters to the editor and other advertisements, various comments, and opinion articles.

The Journal itself is available by paid subscription (though Dixon Cartwright says some subscriptions are free to those who cannot afford it).

It tends to have a non-Philadelphian approach to many matters and, in my view, it excessively allows unitarians to promote their views (there was at least one pro-unitarian ad in this edition), which I do not believe were held by early Christians (see also Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church?).

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