Since the 1995 schism of WCG, there have been seemingly countless splinter groups branching off in the wake of the chaos. Some are now defunct or have merged with larger groups. Silenced tends to focus on the larger of these tiny groups, and those that are still functioning with regular congregational church attendance, or are still printing literature.
- View All
- The Splintering
- United Church of God
- Philadelphia Church of God
- Living Church of God
- Church of God, a Worldwide Association
- Restored Church of God
- House of Yaweh
- Church of God International
- Christian Biblical Church of God
- Independent Church of God
- Fragmentation of a Sect
Since the collapse of the initial cult superstructure, several offshoots have come into being over time, each forged to serve the ambitions of individual personalities to gain power over their sheep as they argue with one another over who gets control of member-donated tithes.
The men in charge of these organizations have set themselves up as virtual, and at times literal, prophets claiming one man rule in the tradition of the founder. Each of these sects combine to forge the framework of the greater COG, each one nearly a carbon copy of the other in terms of culture, beliefs and structure of authority, an uninterrupted continuity of the post-collapse cult.
Explore a Broken Cult
There are an estimated 700+ Worldwide Church of God splinter groups in existence, so it's very difficult to keep track of them all. However, few in the COG realize or acknowledge that WCG was itself a splinter from the Church of God, Seventh Day, which in turn split from larger bodies.
Interactively explore the COG family tree with a zoomable, sortable, draggable chart. Mouse clicks and scroll wheels are the only required controls. This will be updated as additional information is acquired.
Most of the data represents schisms, but an obvious handful are organizational name changes, major shifts in leadership or otherwise transformed identities of these cults.
Zoom In/Out: scroll wheel | Zoom and Center: double-click | Expand/Collapse Node: left click | Reorganize Node: drag and drop | Reset
United Church of God
United Church of God
Official Name: The United Church of God, an International Association
Estimated Membership: 10,000 worldwide
Leader: Victor Kubik
Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio
Establishment Post 1995 Schism
The United Church of God was established in May of 1995 and is the largest of splinter group to branch from WCG. Its focus is to continue the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong, however their focus on his life, words and literature is substantially less than that of UCG’s sister groups. UCG is perhaps the most corporate of all of the COG groups and it is considered the most “liberal” by its fellow sects.
UCG was founded at a conference organized in Indianapolis, Indiana in the spring of 1995 and attended by former WCG ministers concerned by the doctrinal changes introduced into the church.
The first president of UCG was David Hulme, who left the church after he was voted out of the office in 1998. Following Hulme, elders selected to serve as president have been Les McCullough in 1998, Roy Holladay in 2002, Clyde Kilough in 2005 and Dennis Luker since 2010.
Unlike other COG groups that follow Armstrong’s one-man rule precedent, UCG is governed by a 12-man Council of Elders. Those serving on the Council of Elders are elected by the General Conference of Elders. The General Conference of Elders meets once a year in May to perform tasks that include approving a budget, operation planning, strategic planning, electing members of the Council of Elders, and participation in seminars designed to strengthen the abilities and enthusiasm of the ministry for UCG’s work. The Council of Elders acts as the governing body for the international association and is responsible for forming policy and doctrine for UCG. The Council meets four times a year.
The international headquarters of UCG is referred to as the Home Office and is located in Cincinnati, Ohio.Youth Programs
There are numerous United Youth Camps camps held each year, usually in the summer, at various locations throughout the world. These are catered to middle and highschool students and are staffed by ministers and volunteers alike. There is also a yearly Winter Camp held in Wisconsin.
UCG’s Sabbath school programs are run locally in congregations with enough grade-school aged children, usually during the first portion of the church service or directly after. They often focus on simple Bible stories and elementary Biblical knowledge, but also focus on specific church doctrines.
UCG also holds church proms to compete with annual school dances and are usually held on Saturday nights in close proximity to prom season. Several young adult dances are also held throughout the year.
The Winter Family Weekend is a yearly sports tournament sponsored by UCG that also attracts youth from other splinter groups such as LCG. It’s held in Louisville, Kentucky over the course of Christmas break, as UCG members do not observe or acknowledge Christmas as a celebration. Over the weekend there are numerous workshops held and lectures, as well as a church service.
Ambassador Bible Center
The Home Office in Cincinnati houses the Ambassador Bible Center. ABC is a nine-month program of classes in Biblical and theological studies. The ABC program is designed to give young adults and all interested people a foundation in the teachings of UCG, and is modeled on the now defunct Ambassador College. There is no dormitory housing since ABC is not a school ground. Rather, students move to Cincinnati during the nine-month period and often forced to work part-time jobs to pay for the high tuition fees to attend the program. Housing is often provided either by members who rent out places to students or they have to stake out and find nearby apartments on their own.
Despite charging for the courses, UCG makes the entirety of the curriculum freely available online, calling into question the value of the courses taught at ABC. There is no testing at ABC, but rather copious note-taking of rapidly-given lectures.
Influence and Media Presence
The Good News Magazine is UCG’s flagship publication published bi-monthly. The magazine contains articles that discuss Bible prophecy, world news and trends, social issues, Biblical doctrine and Christian Living. Subscriptions are funded by the tithes from UCG members. The Good News currently has a circulation of over 400,000 and has subscribers in over 120 nations. It is published in English, Spanish, German, French and Italian.
The Beyond Today television program is shown on over 100 public access stations and is accompanied by a multimedia website and a presence on Youtube. It is hosted by UCG pastors Darris McNeely, Gary Petty and Steve Myers. It’s format is one that is hosted by a moderator, a UCG pastor, who then has two other UCG pastors on, and they proceed to agree with each other on everything in their discussion. The show has much lower viewership than that of other broadcasts by UCG’s sister groups.
The World News and Prophecy newsletter is published monthly and contains articles focused on world news as they relate to Bible prophecy.
Vertical Thought is a quarterly publication published for UCG’s youth. The publication contains articles from both church ministers and youth, and aims to strengthen the Christian faith of its youthful readership. It’s aimed at both teens and young adults, and often attacks today’s media and youth culture.
The United News is a newsletter focusing on news and events within UCG. The newsletter contains articles on UCG missions, church activities, reports on church governance, doctrinal and Christian living articles, and birth and death announcements of church members. As an internal organ, there is only praise and good news attributed to UCG and its members.
UCG has also produced about 33 booklets on various Biblical and prophetic topics, a 12-lesson Bible study course, a monthly systematic Bible reading program with commentary, various article reprints, a national radio program, local access television programs, and a website.
Crisis and Split
A decision to move the Church’s home office to Texas was rescinded in 2008, causing considerable tension within and between the Council of Elders and the General Conference of Elders. In 2009, two members of the Council of Elders resigned. This included then-president Clyde Kilough, whose resignation was effective July 28th, 2009, and Richard Thompson, effective July 27th, 2009. Personal reasons were cited by both members. In 2010, disunity started to tear UCG apart.
An anonymous blogger going by the handle ‘Abigail Cartwright’ launched a blog entitled UCG Current Crisis leaking insider information surrounding a spat amongst UCG leadership that lead to the ouster of then-president Clyde Kilough. This was information being purposely suppressed by the ministry, even by those who disagreed with the official propaganda being distributed to the masses, out of fear of losing their jobs. The blog contended with issues regarding censorship, baseless rumors, and outright lies being perpetrated by ministers, elders and laymembers alike within the church.
Essentially, Abigail Cartwright’s revelations single-handedly led to a massive schism within UCG. The posting of internal GCE and presidential emails and letters revealed the controversy surrounding the cancellation of plans to relocate the church’s home office to Denton, Texas and a disagreement between factions over whether to concentrate media projects on the internet or on cable television. The letters also revealed an increasing paranoia on the part of the newly-elected ‘interim’ UCG president Dennis Luker, who comes off as a vindictive, emotionally unbalanced and untrustworthy leader who fired ministers and staffers based on even the slightest rumor of disloyalty.
Luker, in response to growing unease from most of UCG’s ministry, fired all of the regional pastors and put a ‘trinity’ of Roy Holiday, Victor Kubik and himself in charge of all the daily operations of the church.
Those who knew about the corruption and scandal, aka the reasons why their ministers were losing their jobs left and right, officially split on January 8, 2011 along with 75 percent of UCG’s ministry, taking 5,000 members from their fold and forging a new organization, Church of God a Worldwide Association, essentially resurrecting WCG in name.
The aftermath of the schism quickly revealed the reasons why UCG pushed out so many dissenters and abolished their presence in Latin America, Africa and other third world countries. COGWA is now saddled with funding these poor congregations, has no media projects, and now there are no dissenters against Holiday, Luker, and Kubik. By failing to fight for their church, the dissenters in COGWA essentially surrendered the future of UCG, most of whose members still have no concept of what the split was truly about: their tithe money, who gets to spend it and on what.
Most people who left did so based on an emotional response to the posts made on UCG Current Crisis, which were presented sans commentary or context from Abigail Cartwright. This was one of the few occasions when COG members got to think for themselves, however armed with only the partial facts, they made a decision that has left both organizations weaker than ever before.
In 2011, UCG had roughly 5,000 of its members split from the church over disputes over leadership, a home office move, the Latin American and African congregations, and the perceived hostile takeover of Dennis Luker and his allies of the organization’s leadership reins.LifeNets, International
Founded by now-UCG president Victor Kubik, LifeNets purports to be a global charity with heavy connections to the cult.
This "charitable" organization is a front for UCG, engaging in exciting projects to better the community like beautifying the cult's home office. It even started a hilariously-titled Dennis Luker Foundation after UCG's late lunatic leader who splintered the cult into two in the COGWA schism. Bottom line, there are better charities to donate to.
Rogue's GalleryVictor Kubik
President of United Church of God
Incident History: researchingVictor Kubik was the former assistant director of church administration in WCG and following the 1995 schism he found himself in UCG's upper echelons until he finally took the cult's reins in 2013 following Dennis Luker's death.
Kubik has long been considered one of the more "web savvy" of UCG's leaders, meaning he seems to have an Internet understanding relegated to the mid-90's.
Kubik was instrumental in insuring COGWA's dissidents were given a firm boot out the door and he has since tried to right UCG's veering ship without much success so far.
Former Leader of United Church of God (UCG)
Incident History: Allegedly connected, as pastor, to various UCG members convicted in murder and stalking cases
Dennis Luker was one of the chief evangelists under Herbert W. Armstrong in WCG. After the 1995 schism he joined the newly-formed UCG a full-time pastor in Garden Grove, California before being moved to Seattle, Washington. Luker came to hold a seat on UCG’s Council of Elders and in 2005 became the Regional Pastor of the Northwestern United States. In 2010, Luker was elected as the new president of UCG, a move that eventually led to a massive schism within the cult.Unlike many COG ministers, Luker is an extremely emotional man prone to fits of tears during sermons. He has repeatedly confirmed, denied and reconfirmed that he suffers from depression. He also has a reputation for paranoia rooted in his deep dislike for perceived disloyalty and criticisms, traits that led him to fire most of UCG’s regional pastors and force the resignation of all ministers who would not submit to his authority as the new leader of UCG.
Luker’s administration has been the most secretive and least transparent in UCG’s history, which is saying something for a cult already characterized by clandestine meetings and keeping its members in the dark concerning matters of church government and decision-making.
Luker has led UCG down a path that some have described as an “endgame” or a “suicide run,” declaring that there are only a few years remaining before the Apocalypse (without giving specific dates) and pouring the remainder of the church’s waning income not already allocated to huge ministerial salaries into cable television projects, a revamped image and “humanitarian causes” for the sake of “preaching the gospel” before Christ’s return.
Luker’s sense of urgency seems to be driven by a deeply-seated fear that the church doesn’t have long left to exist before its membership, and therefore its funding, dies off.
Luker died in early 2013 after a battle with cancer. He was succeeded by Victor Kubik.
News (Search: UCG)
Philadelphia Church of GodPhiladelphia Church of God
Official Name: The Church of God Philadelphia
Estimated Membership: 4,000 worldwide
Leader: Gerald Flurry
Headquarters: Edmond, Oklahoma
1989: Philadelphia Founded
Supporters rallied around Flurry in the aftermath of his termination. They were convinced that God was using him to ‘get the church back on track’. Together, four families (12 people in all) met as the Philadelphia Church of God on December 16, 1989. On December 20, PCG became an incorporated entity. One of its first actions was to publish Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today and distribute it to as many WCG members as possible. Since the initial mailing, Flurry has done the following:
• In 1990, he began publishing the Philadelphia Trumpet magazine.
• In 1993, he began the weekly Key of David television program.
• In 1992, he founded Philadelphia Youth Camp.
• In 1996, Gerald Flurry founded the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, establishing a concert series in Edmond and supporting humanitarian projects abandoned by the WCG in Jordan and Israel.
• In 2001, he founded Herbert W. Armstrong College, a four-year liberal arts college in the tradition of Ambassador College.
• In January 2008, Flurry broke ground on Armstrong Auditorium, an 800-seat, $18 million performing arts center located on the Armstrong College campus. The center, pattered after Mr. Armstrong’s famed Ambassador Auditorium, is scheduled to open in February 2010.
• In August 2008, he founded Imperial Academy, a primary and secondary school pattered after the WCG’s Imperial Schools.
WCG Copyright Dispute
Despite the fact that WCG owned the copyrights to Mystery of the Ages, Flurry decided in 1997 to print and distribute hard copies under the “fair use” clause of copyright law. The book had been put out of print and copies destroyed by WCG leadership within three years of Armstrong’s death. PCG published the book in order to distribute it. WCG launched a six year court battle over fair use of the copyrights, with and lost the initial round at the appellate level on February 18, 1997. WCG then appealed and won a split decision with the Ninth Circuit Court on September 18, 2000.
After this, PCG then petitioned the twenty-six judges of the Ninth Circuit Court, after they all rejected it they appealed to the nine justices of the Supreme Court, of whom none would hear the case. WCG leadership offered Flurry and the PCG all of Armstrong’s works for three million dollars on the condition that internal WCG documents, memos, and emails obtained through discovery be handed back by the PCG.
According to Stephen Flurry’s (Flurry’s son) book Raising the Ruins, this condition was regarded as a deal breaker and WCG was told to prepare to resume litigation. Within hours, the condition to the sale of the copyright was removed from the proposal and an agreement was reached. PCG agreed to pay WCG $3 million, in exchange PCG would acquire the copyright to Mystery of the Ages and the other eighteen disputed works. In order to pay the settlement, PCG had to abandon coverage of The Key of David program on all TV spots except on WGN. PCG now owns the copyrights to nineteen of Armstrong’s works, including all his full-length books.
The Philadelphia Youth Camp is the youth camp of PCG. PYC campers participate in athletic activities and a wide variety of social and educational activities during the three week event, encouraging teamwork and cooperation. PYC is located in Edmond, Oklahoma, but PYC camps are also held annually in Australia and the Philippines.
Herbert W. Armstrong College
PCG administers a small liberal arts and theology college, Herbert W. Armstrong College, located in Edmond.
HWA College is a small liberal arts and theology college located north of Edmond, Oklahoma. PCG is based on the college’s campus, which offers two-year and four-year degrees, but does not offer accredited degrees.
The college was established in 2001 as Imperial College of Edmond, but was renamed after objections by Imperial College London. Armstrong College graduated its first class in 2006 and was granted permission to accept international students in 2003.
Flurry’s versions of Armstrong’s works are used as teaching tools in the college. The college claims that it is based on the continuation of Armstrong’s educational philosophy used at his now-defunct Ambassador College.
HWA College, through the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, hosts a variety of performing arts events for residents of the area. The organization states it’s activities are based on Armstrong’s original Ambassador International Cultural Foundation.
In 2008, PCG launched a sister school to HWA College, an elementary school for the children of the church’s members. It offers primary and secondary education teaching children about Flurry’s particular brand of Christianity and reverence for Armstrong, “character development” and basic subjects such as math, history, language and science, all with a special PCG spin.
Armstrong International Cultural Foundation
The PCG established a humanitarian arm called the Philadelphia Foundation in 1996 when it took over a project in the Kingdom of Jordan that the WCG’s Ambassador Foundation had left behind. In 2005, the name was changed to the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation. Since 1998, the foundation has sponsored a performing arts series in Edmond, Oklahoma, and in 2005 it began supporting archaeological excavations in Jerusalem. In 2006, the PCG broke ground on Armstrong Auditorium, a 800-seat performing arts center located on the HWA College campus in Edmond. The hall is the new home of the foundation’s concert series.
Influence and Media Presence
Philadelphia News is the internal newspaper for PCG members featuring organization news, announcements and letters from ministers.
PCG also publishes the Philadelphia Trumpet, a monthly magazine patterned after WCG’s The Plain Truth. It’s content covers Biblical doctrine, prophecy, British-Israelism, creationism against evolution, Christian Living advice, and other articles that were commonly found in the magazine it was directly based on.
The Key of David is PCG’s television program run on hundreds of network stations worldwide, hosted by Gerald Flurry in the same vein as Armstrong’s The World Tomorrow broadcast.
Rogues GalleryGerald R. Flurry
Leader of Philadelphia Church of God
Incident History: researching
Gerald Ray Flurry is the founder and Pastor General of PCG, based in Edmond, Oklahoma. He is also host of the television program The Key of David, is editor in chief of The Philadelphia Trumpet magazine, is founder and chancellor of Herbert W. Armstrong College, and is founder and chairman of the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation.
Flurry graduated from Ambassador College in 1970 and became a minister within WCG in 1973, and was transferred to Oklahoma in 1985.
During the three years after Herbert Armstrong’s death in 1986, WCG made several doctrinal changes that Flurry objected to as “doctrinally false.” He began to openly oppose these changes, and felt God had “inspired” his Bible studies. Flurry eventually wrote a manuscript that would become the book Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today.
These actions led to his summon before WCG leaders, who promptly fired Flurry on December 7, 1989.
Members of PCG must develop a deep respect and love for the PCG ministry. To them, PCG's ministry is made up of “faithful, dedicated men,” of which there are few.
Flurry has been criticized by detractors for the church’s teaching of disfellowshipment. The church, citing Romans 16:17, teaches PCG members to avoid associating with or fellowshipping with present and former baptized members of the Worldwide Church of God, prohibiting “any kind of fellowship with former PCG members and all ‘Laodiceans’, even if they are members of a church member’s immediate family.”
He has written, “We must not keep company or fellowship with them [‘Laodiceans’] by going to restaurants and things like that. In the past some members have been told that these relationships are okay so long as religion is not discussed… there should be a complete cut off.” Exceptions to the teaching are if an apostate or Laodicean spouse of a PCG member is “pleased to dwell.”
Scripture, Flurry said, dictates that “that relationship should be preserved as long as the [disfellowshipped or Laodicean] mate is pleased to dwell.” He cited 1 Corinthians 7:10-14. The other exception to the disfellowship rule is “unbaptized children” and other former PCG attendees who may have been baptized but were not “validly baptized.”
The PCG disfellowshipment teaching does not apply to family members not formally associated with the Worldwide Church of God.
Members are tossed out of PCG regularly, either for fraternizing with outsiders or for disagreeing with Flurry’s special brand of Armstrongism.
Flurry is frequently cited as an egomaniac, since part of the church’s initiation process is to read his book and accept every single word of it as inspired scripture. Anyone who does not revere him is removed from the fold and shunned. He has been quoted several times as stating, concerning himself: ”Following God’s Man is actually following God.”
This is a full listing of Gerald R. Flurry quotes, with regards to adoration and loyalty to him and his office.
News (Search: PCG)
Living Church of GodLiving Church of God
Official Name: The Living Church of God
Estimated Membership: 8,000 worldwide
Leader: Roderick C. Meredith
Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina
Establishment Post 1995 Schism
After WCG's collapse, Roderick Meredith headed the Global Church of God. Following a heated dispute with several members of the GCG’s corporate Board of Directors over Meredith’s authority within the church, he was fired by a 3-2 majority of the board on November 25, 1998. Meredith’s firing was widely unpopular with most of the GCG membership, and approximately 80 percent left the organization and came with him. In addition to the majority of the membership coming with him, approximately 70 percent of GCG’s ministers and Council of Elders joined him as well.
LCG, like WCG before it, places strong emphasis on the Hebrew roots of Christianity. The church teaches members should not take part in politics, juries, military service or traditional mainstream holidays and that the end times are imminent.
After Meredith's firing, LCG was incorporated in San Diego, California in December 1998. Meredith and his followers believed, as Armstrong did, in one man rule of the church. According to Armstrong, the church was to be governed “from the top down.” He created a structure of ranks in the WCG ministry that allowed for progressive increases in responsibility and salary, including deacon, local elder, preaching elder, pastor, regional pastor, and others. Evangelist was the highest rank attainable except for the title of Apostle given to Armstrong. LCG tries to mirror this structure.
In 2003, LCG’s corporate headquarters was moved from San Diego to Charlotte, North Carolina.
By 2006, the church reported it had 294 congregations in 44 countries, with over 7,100 members attending its annual 8-day long festival the Feast of Tabernacles at 45 sites in 30 countries located in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America, and South America.
LCG holds annual youth camps for pre-teens, teens and young adults known as Living Youth Camps.
Sabbath school programs are run locally in congregations with sizable enough populations of grade-school aged children, usually during the first portion of the church service or directly after. They often focus on simple Bible stories and elementary Biblical knowledge, but also focus on specific church doctrines such as “the World Tomorrow.”
As homeschooling is extremely common, interactions with schoolmates are often discouraged, and since proms are often held on Friday nights, church proms are held to compete with or replace annual school proms and are usually held on Saturday nights in close proximity to prom season. Several young adult dances are also held throughout the year for those who have graduated.Living University In 2007, LCG started Living University, a nonprofit online institution. Its mission is “the development of the whole person by educating men and women in the skills, concepts, and values that lead to success in life, while helping them prepare for leadership and worthwhile service to God and humanity.” The school is continuing to explore accreditation for its undergraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates. It is similar in curriculum to UCG’s Ambassador Bible Center, and of course the original Ambassador College, though it offers its materials freely, unlike the aforementioned programs.
Influence and Media Presence
By December 1998, the organization started producing a weekly half-hour television program, Tomorrow’s World. The program is anchored by Meredith, Richard Ames, Rod King, and Wallace Smith. The two-time Telly Award winning telecast is shown on 211 television stations throughout the world.
In May 2006, LCG’s media department reported that the television program was accessible to nearly 78 million American households, or 71 percent of the American television market. According to reports in March 2007 by Nielsen Research, the program was estimated to reach an average of 50,000 new viewers each week. To date, approximately 320 programs have been taped and televised since 1999.
A free bi-monthly magazine and website, also called Tomorrow’s World, is mailed to 1.8 million subscribers yearly. From the magazine’s inception in 1999, 8.3 million copies have been sent out. The bimonthly circulation for the magazine in 2008 was 326,000.
Rogues GalleryRoderick C. Meredith
Leader of Living Church of God
Incident History: researching
Rod “Spanky” Meredith is the leader and founder of LCG. As one of the first five Evangelists of WCG, he was ordained in 1952 by Herbert W. Armstrong. For many years he was one of the cult’s leading theologians, top executives, and professors at Ambassador College.
Following his graduation in June 1952, Meredith was assigned by Armstrong to start and pastor churches in Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and Tacoma. On December 20, 1952, after summoning him back to the cult’s headquarters in Pasadena from his pastoral region in Oregon, Armstrong ordained him and four other men to the high-ranking WCG position of Evangelist. Meredith was the youngest among them.
Over the following years, Meredith would help raise 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. In addition to serving as a senior evangelist, Meredith held many high ranking and influential positions within WCG.
After the collapse of WCG, Meredith headed the Global Church of God (GCOG). Following a heated dispute with several members of the GCG’s corporate Board of Directors over Meredith’s authority within the Church, he was fired by a 3-2 majority of the Board on November 25, 1998. Meredith’s firing was widely unpopular with most of the GCOG membership, and approximately 80 percent left the organization and came with him. In addition to the majority of the membership coming with him, approximately 70 percent of GCOG’s ministers and Council of Elders joined with him as well.
Within days Meredith and others had founded LCG. Meredith is the organization’s CEO and Presiding Evangelist of Church. He is also the Editor in Chief of Tomorrow’s World magazine and one of the four regular presenters of the LCG’s television program, Tomorrow’s World.
News (Search: LCG)
Church of God, A Worldwide AssociationChurch of God, Worldwide Association
Official Name: Church of God, A Worldwide Association, Inc
Estimated Membership: 5,000 worldwide
Leader: Jim Franks
Headquarters: Denton, Texas
The Church of God, a Wordwide Association splintered off from The United Church of God due to a year-long dispute between many of its pastors and the new church president Dennis Luker.
The reasons for the dispute centered around UCG pulling funding from its poorer subsidized congrations in Latin America and Africa, the cancellation of a planned headquarters move from Cincinatti to Denton, Texas, and the what many pastors deemed to be a hostile takeover or the organization after former president Clyde Kilough was ousted.
The crisis at the top of the organization was largely kept secret from the average laymember, pastors only hinting to their congegrations as to what was happening. When ministers started to get fired for questioning UCG’s authority and others started to resign, members started to get wonder, yet received little in the way of answers.
One anonymous blogger, Abigail Cartwright, was the only resource members could go to as he or she leaked council letters and documents detailing some of the reasons behind the dispute.
On January 8, 2011, after scores of ministers had resigned their post, they had a secret meeting that formed a new church. A small percentage of members left their former congregations without a word or a farewell to their former brethren. Families and friendships were torn apart.
Essentially, the reaction of those leaving was largely emotional, as many to this day do not understand the reasons for the split other than that Dennis Luker was a ‘paranoid tyrant’.
As true as that might be, they chose not to fight for the organization they spent 15 years building with their tithe money. Most in the third world congregations shifted over to COGWA, the new organization inheriting a massive yearly expense to subsidize their work.
There are no doctrinal differences between COGWA and UCG, but rather a difference in an approach to leadership, finances, and media projects. UCG had been leaning towards a cable TV campaign, purchasing a slot on WGN for its show Beyond Today, abandoning previous projects that had been focused on the internet.
COGWA launched a school similar to UCG’s Ambassador Bible Center, the Foundation Institute, Center for Biblical Education.
Rogues GalleryJim Franks
Leader of Church of God, a Worldwide Association
Incident History: researchingOn September 2, 2011, Jim Franks was elected the first full-time president of COGWA, which was fitting because he allegedly helped orchestrate the split from UCG in late 2010, which was even more fitting because he allegedly helped orchestrate the split from WCG in 1995.
What we’re saying is that he’s seems to be really good at starting new splinter cults and transitioning the confused sheep to new paradigms where they forget about their time in the previous organization, save to demonize it.
After it was clear that Franks and his allies, including former UCG politician/president Clyde Kilough were all going to lose their jobs after Dennis Luker’s coup, he appears to have feathered a nest for all of the newly-unemployed COGWA dissidents built on all of the tithe money UCG’s disaffected were withholding during the throes of the crisis. Slick moves, Jim!
News (Search: COGWA)
Restored Church of GodRestored Church of God
Official Name: The Restored Church of God
Estimated Membership: 1000 worldwide
Leader: David C. Pack
Headquarters: Wadsworth, Ohio
The Restored Church of God is a small splinter group formed in the wake of the collapse of the Global Church of God. RCG is primarily an Internet-based congregation, but there are about 140 members that attend live church services in Wadsworth each week.
Pack is infamous for his lengthy open letters to other COG groups in attempts to draw away members and pastors from his rivals, which has been somewhat effective in recent years.
Pack announced the construction of an Ambassador College-like world headquarters for RCG in Wadsworth, which broke ground in 2013.
RCG's structure and doctrine mirrors that of WCG and its sister splinter groups. It runs a television program called The World to Come, hosted by Pack. It also prints a magazine called The Real Truth, along with a teen-oriented magazine called Ambassador Youth. It’s internal news organ is called The Pillar.
It holds a single annual youth camp where teens from its scattered congregations meet from all around the world. Like its sister groups, it has several, approximately 17, annual sites for their annual Feast of Tabernacles observance.
David C. Pack is the strong man of the organization and the unquestioned leader over his small church, in the tradition of Herbert W. Armstrong, whom its members revere.
Rogues GalleryDavid C. Pack
Leader of Restored Church of God
Incident History: researchingDavid Pack, born in Lima, Ohio, was an Ambassador College graduate who entered WCG‘s ministry under Herbert W. Armstrong in 1971.
Pack left WCG two years before the schism in 1993 citing the gradual doctrinal changes as “blasphemy.”
He started the Restored Church of God in 1999 in Wadsworth, Ohio after his excommunication from the Global Church of God. He continues to write copious amounts of literature, books and runs a number of RCG-related websites where he attempts to siphon members from the larger COG cults in several open letters.
Pack has declared himself an “apostle” and the rightful heir to that title following the death of Armstrong in 1986. He works very hard to direct as much tithe money from his own followers and members in COG cults to himself and his small yet steady ministry.
Relevant NumbersThe Real Truth
News (Search: RCG)
House of YawehHouse of Yahweh
Official Name: The House of Yahweh
Estimated Membership: 300? (in Texas)
Leader: Yisrayl ‘Buffalo Bill’ Hawkins
Headquarters: Abaline, TexasThe House of Yahweh is a fundamentalist sect founded by former Worldwide Church of God member Yisrayl “Buffalo Bill” Hawkins.
Hawkins is best known for wrongly predicting nuclear war on several occasions, first for 12 September 2006, then 12 June 2007, followed by 12 June 2008. He has not made any recent prophecies regarding specific dates for nuclear Apocalypse, but it’s only a matter of time.
HOY has been in the media’s crosshairs as well as that of cult watchdog groups for accusations of polygamy, bigamy, pedophilia and other abuses.
The cult is centered in an Abaline, Texas compound and are extremely enclosed and exclusive. Its beliefs mostly mirror those of Herbert W. Armstrong, though Hawkins has taken a more extreme tone and has set himself up as a prophet and has made several doctrinal changes.
HOY also runs the Peaceful Solution Character Education Incorporated as a front group focused on "character education" through literature, workshops and seminars -- an obvious recruitment tool for the cult.
Rogues GalleryYisrayl ‘Buffalo Bill’ Hawkins
Leader of House of Yahweh
Incident History: Bigamy charges, child labor convictionYisrayl Hawkins is the founder of the House of Yahweh based in Abilene, Texas. Hawkins claims to be descended from European Jewish immigrants who fled Nazi persecution. He was a follower of Herbert W. Armstrong in WCG before starting his own cult, his teachings on the Sabbath, Holy Days, anti-paganism, Levitical Laws and Apocalyptic prophecies mirroring those of Armstrong.
In May 2008 Hawkins was charged with bigamy. The House of Yahweh lives in an Abilene bunker, its members are largely closed-off from the outside world, and it was alleged that Hawkins had over 30 wives. All four counts of the charges were dropped in October 2009, yet rumors of what goes on within the confines of his bunker persist.Yedidiyah Hawkins
Elder in House of Yahweh
In December 2008, then 40-year-old Yedidiyah Hawkins was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually molesting his niece when she was 11-years-old. He claimed to be checking her for cervical cancer. His niece testified against him when she was 15-year-old. Hawkins was an elder in former WCG member Yisrayl “Buffalo Bill” Hawkins’ dangerous bunker-dwelling cult, the House of Yahweh. He’s still in prison today.
News (Search: HOY)
Church of God InternationalChurch of God International
Official Name: Church of God International
Estimated Membership: 2000 worldwide
Leader: Garner Ted Armstrong (deceased)
Headquarters: Tyler, Texas
The Church of God, International is headquartered in Tyler, Texas. Incorporated in 1978, the organization was led until 1998 by Garner Ted Armstrong. In 1998, amid accusations of sexual impropriety, GTA was removed from office by the church’s board of directors. A significant ministerial reorganization followed which resulted in the present sharing of administration and leadership among church pastors, similar to the structure of UCG.
Many CGI doctrines are similar to other COG groups. However, CGI has a focus on “refining and honing” church doctrines, as opposed to the stringent attitudes of other COG splinters, which rarely if ever deviate from the groundwork laid by HWA. CGI attempts to base all church doctrine as plainly as possible on a “simple and direct reading” of the Bible, which causes its viewpoints to be rather fundamentalist, though they often claim they are not literalists.
CGI produces a television program entitled Armor of God and has congregations in the United States, Canada, Jamaica, Ireland, Australia and the Philippines.Intercontinental Church of God
Official Name: Intercontinental Church of God (ICG)
Estimated Membership: 200 worldwide
Leader: Garner Ted Armstrong (deceased)
Headquarters: Tyler, TexasICG was founded in 1998 after Garner Ted Armstrong left COGI amid allegations of sexual assault. The church is small and connected to the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelical Association. It has scattered congregations comprised of charter churches, local churches and extended churches, which are often just small handfuls of families.
Rogues GalleryGarner Ted Armstrong
Leader of the Church of God International
Incident History: sexual assault, infidelity, rape allegations
The son of cult leader Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong was one of the chief evangelists of WCG. Born in Portland, Oregon, he was thrust into international fame for his charm, good looks and on-air charisma as the host for The World Tomorrow television and radio broadcasts.His sardonic, ironic, low-key delivery made him seem more like a comedian than a tele-evangelist, and made him one of the most well-known voices throughout the world for his generation.
He was a fluent Spanish-speaker and broadcasted a special Spanish edition of The World Tomorrow.
Armstrong was also a writer of many pieces of church literature, including brochures attacking the Theory of Evolution and many other booklets decrying various “social ills.”
He was also an author and made many non-cult-related appearances on shows such as Hee Haw. Armstrong, despite his father’s teachings against service in “man’s military” served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.Armstrong was ordained by his father as a pastor in WCG in 1955, despite Garner Ted voicing his opposition to the promotion. In 1957 he took the reigns of his father’s broadcasting responsibilities and was responsible for launching the television version of his father’s radio show.
In 1972, Garner Ted was removed from WCG’s ministry, his father describing him as being “in the bonds of Satan”. The reasons for his dismissal stemmed from swirling rumors that Garner Ted had raped a stewardess aboard his private jet, was guilty of adultery for sleeping with numerous Ambassador College coeds, and that he had developed a serious gambling problem.
Armstrong was in a constant power-struggle with Stanley Rader, and a disagreement developed between Armstrong and his father over choosing specific dates for the Apocalypse, which he deemed as being bad for the cult’s public perception.Garner Ted was excommunicated by his father in 1978 and formed his own ministry, Church of God International, in Tyler, Texas. Garner Ted was removed from his leadership position within his own church after footage of his sexual assault of a massage therapist went public on the Geraldo Rivera Show.
Armstrong died of pneumonia in 2003.
News (Search: COGI)
Christian Biblical Church of GodChristian Biblical Church of God
Official Name: Christian Biblical Church of God
Estimated Membership: 1500 worldwide
Leader: Fred R. Coulter
Headquarters: Hollister, California
CBCG was founded in 1983 by WCG minister Fred R. Coulter and seven other members because of what they termed the mother church's "non-scriptural beliefs and practices."
That they broke away from WCG three years before Herbert W. Armstrong's death because the cult had become too "liberal" should grant an open window into the pure insanity in Coulter's group.
The cult has congregations all over the world.
Rogues GalleryFred R. Coulter
Leader of Christian Biblical Church of God
Incident History: researching
Fred R. Coulter is CBCG's pastor general and one of its seven founders. He's a hardline Armstrongite fundamentalist and built one of the first major splinters off WCG, even before Gerald R. Flurry's PCG.
He graduated from Ambassador College in 1964 and became an ordained WCG minister in 1965, pastoring in the Pacific Northwest and California. He fancies himself a "translator" of the Bible because of his passing understanding of Greek and has written hundreds of booklets and articles and delivered thousands of sermons during his 44+ years as a COG minister.
Former Spokesman for CBCOG
On November 12, 2014, Stephen Gough, a 79-year-old woodworking teacher and CBCG member in New Zealand, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for molesting children between the ages of three and 16 while reading them passages from the Bible. Gough was formerly a WCG member and reportedly a spokesman for Coulter's cult.
British and Kiwi media ran with the story, describing Gough’s abuse as using children as “sexual toys” and “carefully orchestrated” his crimes. No COG group turned him in. For years he was reportedly in therapy for his “addiction” instead of rotting in prison.
News (Search: CBCG)
Christian Churches of GodChristian Churches of God
Official Name: Christian Churches of God
Estimated Membership: no idea
Leader: Wade Cox, other "elected" leaders
Headquarters: Australia, with conferences elsewhere too
Christian Churches of God is a COG cult lead by Australian coordinator general Wade Cox.
CCG is criticized for its deviations from standard COG doctrines, its hyper-enclosed nature and attempts to silence those critical of Cox through legal threats and litigation, even over the display their logo.
CCG has made some big forays into Africa, triggering concerns of exploitation from former members.
CCG claims to be the "largest of the modern branches of the Church of God" though we haven't found any hard numbers to back this.
The cult has conferences in Australia, North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Rogues GalleryWade Cox
Coordinator General of Christian Churches of God
Incident History: Legal threats against online critics
Don't worry, Cox is an "elected" leader. His term as coordinator general of CCG ends in 2019. Right around the corner!
People don't like to talk about Wade Cox for fear of litigation. He is often referred to on anti-COG blogs as "he who shall not be named" making him the closest thing the cults have to Lord Voldemort. But we'll talk about him lots once we learn more, don't worry.
Absolutely none thus far. We'll keep looking.
Related ResourcesChristian Churches of God
News (Search: CCG)
Independent Church of God
Independent Church of God
Official Name: Independent Church of God
Estimated Membership: 1000 worldwide
Leader: Ronald L. Dart
Headquarters: Portsmouth, Ohio
Ron L. Dart, one of the chief evangelists in WCG, founded it along with Christian Educational Ministries in 1995 following the schism and his exit from COGI following Garner Ted Armstrong's sexual scandals.
Dart leads ICOG as more of a “living room church” that is decentralized without being officially incorporated and ICOG members usually join other COG groups for Holy Day festivals and services.
Rogues GalleryRonald L. Dart
Leader of Independent Church of God
Incident History: researching
Ron Dart was one of the chief evangelists in WCG and an administrator at the Bricket Wood campus of Ambassador College. Dart joined GTA’s COGI after HWA excommunicated his son in 1978.
He later became COGI’s vice president. After the 1995 schism of WCG and amid sexual assault allegations directed toward GTA, Dart founded the Independent Church of God along with Christian Educational Ministries. Dart is infamous for his prolific production of sermon tapes and literature, all of which he personally and independently creates.
As the founder of Christian Educational Ministries, he is the host of the radio program Born to Win heard across 275 stations across the world where he makes the majority of his income. The leadership of other COG cults generally dislike Dart even more than they dislike each other for his independent streak.
News (Search: ICOG)
The Fragmentation of a SectMost of the hundreds of splinters that fell from WCG’s fallen tree are so small, they rarely make waves or do anything publicly noticeable. Internet ministries have gained popularity, along with the so-called “Living Room Churches of God” that have popped up across the country.
In some instances, isolated communities of Armstrongites have taken to remote bunkers.Many of these smaller groups, in their starvation for attention, tend to be more extreme than the larger, more carefully PR-controlled cults.
Their leaders are often crazier and work very hard to differentiate themselves from the greater COG and resort to attacking other groups in hopes of pulling members away. These splinter groups have at times become dangerous, more so than their bigger counterparts, and it’s these we strive to keep an eye on.Church of God (Seventh Day)
Official Name: The General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh-Day) (COG7)
Estimated Membership: 211,000 worldwide
Leader: Whaid Rose
Headquarters: Denver, Colorado/Salem, West Virginia
Before delving into WCG’s actual splinters, it’s important to recognize that WCG itself was a splinter group.
COG7 was started by Gilbert Cramner in 1858 after a falling out with Millerite/Adventists James and Ellen White. Cramner’s congregations were later organized into a state conference. In 1927, Herbert W. Armstrong was ordained in COG7′s Oregon conference.
COG7 itself split in 1933 over governmental issues, dividing the conference between the Church of God (Seventh-Day) stationed in Denver and Church of God (7th Day) in Salem, West Virginia. Armstrong joined with the latter.
The Radio Church of God was started in 1934 by Armstrong, who was a minister in the Salem conference at the time. Armstrong’s ministerial credentials were signed that year by COG7 leaders A. N. Dugger and C. O. Dodd, concurrent with the launching of Armstrong’s The Plain Truth magazine and KORE Oregon radio program. It was Dugger and Dodd who attempted to connect the COG back to the Biblical church in Acts, concepts still prevalent among the Armstrongite cults today.
Armstrong was not expelled from COG7 until 1937 for his teachings on British-Israelism, differing teachings on the Holy Days and his general inability to work well with others.
The influence of COG7 doctrines on Armstrong’s teachers are undeniable and today’s COG differs from those teachings in very few ways. COG7 did become more “Trinity friendly” in 1994, roughly the time that WCG had made a similar doctrinal shift. After WCG’s 1995 schism, many disenfranchised members disinterested in joining the new splinters instead clung to COG7 conferences, bringing the Armstrongite churches back full circle to their roots.
Official Name: Church of God, The Eternal (COGE)
Estimated Membership: 300 worldwide
Leader: Jon W. Brisby
Headquarters: Eugene, Oregon
One of the first splinters from WCG, COGE was started in 1975 by the late Raymond C. Cole, one of the first students to attend Ambassador College. Cole, WCG minister Bryce Clark, and others departed the church.
This was around the time of 1974's “East Coast Rebellion” where many ministers from the northeastern United States parted ways over the mother church’s seeming unwillingness to change various doctrines.
However, Cole's issues were quite the opposite problem as he was bothered by various doctrinal shifts. Cole left WCG in the mid-70's, believing it was descending into "rebellion" as Pentecost was changed from Monday to Sunday and rules shifted regarding divorce and remarriage.
Today, COGE is led by Jon W. Brisby and has congregations in America, Switzerland, the Philippines and Kenya.
Official Name: Global Church of God (GCG)
Estimated Membership: 1,000 worldwide
Headquarters: London, England
The Global Church of God is a Sabbatarian church based in England and founded in San Diego, Califorina in 1992 by Roderick C. Meredith. Following the dissolution of most church operations in the United States, the GCG’s operations shifted to the United Kingdom and it reestablished a presence in North America under new organizational identities.
Rod Meredith established Global in response to a number of major shifts in the long-standing doctrines of the WCG. Similar in fashion to Armstrong’s approach, Meredith and the GCG soon established a magazine and television program, both under the name ‘The World Ahead’.
The Global Church of God experienced upheaval of its own after dispute between Meredith and the church board over governance issues in 1998. Meredith in response formed the Living Church of God.
Membership in the GCG declined to the point that it ceased operations under that name in the United States. Most members either affiliated with Meredith’s new church or were later absorbed into the United Church of God.
Administrative affairs for the GCG shifted to the church’s office in the United Kingdom. The GCG reestablished a presence in the United States and Canada as The Church of the Eternal God, based in San Diego, and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship, based in Summerland, British Columbia.
Groups that formed out of the GCG breakup in 1998:
Church of the Eternal God (CEG)
Church of God, A Christian Fellowship (CGCF)
Restored Church of God(RCG)
Living Church of God (LCG)
Church of God Fellowship (CGF)
Sabbath Church of God (SCG)
Church of God-21st Century (COG21)
Official Name: Church of the Eternal God (CEG)
Estimated Membership: 250 worldwide
Leader: Council of Elders
Headquarters: San Diego, California
Formed in the midst of the collapse of the GCG, Church of the Eternal God is a small church that is still affiliated with the remnants of Global. It holds a single Feast of Tabernacles observance every year at a different site, and has only released Holy Day Calendars to its members up to 2012, as its a commonly held belief that 2012 will be the beginning of the End Times. Their literature is usually recirculated or reprinted versions of old WCG and Global publications and booklets, and their weekly church services are usually streamed online. They do publish a periodical called ‘Standing Watch’.
Official Name: Sabbath Church of God (SCOG)
Estimated Membership: 300 worldwide
Leader: Warren M. Zehrung
Headquarters: Little Rock, Arkansas
Formed in the midst of the collapse of the GCG, the Sabbath Church of God is a small church looking towards an imminent end time series of events.
It publishes a weekly newsletter called The Countdown and a broadcast an online radio show called The Proclamation of Jesus Christ.
Related ResourcesChurch of God Fellowship
Official Name: Church of God Fellowship (COGF)
Estimated Membership: 500 worldwide
Leader: Harold Smith
Headquarters: Spokane, Washington
The Church of God Fellowship is a mostly internet-based collective of former and current COG members who have come together on the internet to share sermons, literature, and attend phone-in church services. Some members are also members of its corporate sister groups, but others are stay-at-home practitioners with a background in the teachers of Herbert W. Armstrong. It is a splinter from the Global Church of God.
There are handful of actual congregations scattered throughout the United States and United Kingdom bearing the COGF name, but most of these meet in members’ living rooms and connect to internet podcasts of church services conducted by other groups.
COGF does publish some of its own literature, mostly produced by Harold Smith, but usually circulates the ‘best’ of the content produced by other COG groups, in accordance with its statement of beliefs. Members of other larger groups, such as UCG or LCG, will often disdainfully refer to COGF as ‘The Living Room Church of God’.
Official Name: Church of the Great God (CGC)
Estimated Membership: 400 worldwide
Leader: John W. Ritenbaugh
Headquarters: Fort Mill, South Carolina
Church of the Great God (CGC) was founded in 1992 after WCG pastor John W. Ritenbaugh resigned his post citing disagreements with the doctrinal changes at the time.
This sect only has four elders servicing tiny congregations in Australia, Canada, France, Africa and the southern United States. They have a large cache of booklets, sermon tapes and literature on their website which serves as its primary hub of activity. CGC members usually join with larger COG groups for holy days.
Official Name: A Congregation of the Church of God (ACOG)
Estimated Membership: 20??? (in Arizona)
Leader: Darryl Henson
Headquarters: Freedonia, Arizona
A Congregation of the Church of God (ACCOG) is run by Darryl Henson and Nelson Nichols, who decided to start their own splinter sects after disagreements over calendar issues during their time with the Church of the Great God.
Henson is building a small town outside of Freedonia, Arizona after being inspired by similar towns in Utah constructed by Mormon splinters. The Arizona strip is well-known for being home to polygamist communities seeking to be separated from the rest of the world. Luckily for Henson, Arizona usually allows polygamists and others isolationist religious communities to operate without hassle.
Official Name: Obedient Church of God (OCG)
Estimated Membership: 60 worldwide
Leader: Lawrence Nowell
COG cult leader Lawrence Nowell has expressed his readiness to kill the disobedient, meaning those who don’t conform to Armstrongism’s teachings. His very tiny cult following is mostly based online, yet seems to have some followers overseas, as evidenced by Feast of Tabernacles photos he posts online.
Nowell primarily posts sermon tapes and long, rambling tracts on his poorly-designed website and has taken on a tone reminiscent of the more extremist COG ministers. Aside from instituting the controversial COG-doctrine of New Moon observance, he also believes in UFOs and preaches about them frequently.
Official Name: The Church of God Faithful Flock (COGFF)
Estimated Membership: 300 worldwide
Leader: Alton B. Billingsley
Headquarters: Modesto, California
The Church of God, Faithful Flock, is one of the smallest splinter groups still operating. It’s led by Pastor General Alton B. Billingsley and operated out of Modesto. It has a handful of congregations and Feast of Tabernacles sites, but many of its members latch on to UCG or LCG events.
Like most of the smaller splinters, it focuses a great deal on the life and work of Herbert W. Armstrong and one of its tenants of faith is that Armstrong was an Apostle and prophet. It also runs an online home school association aimed at COG families.
Official Name: God’s Church, Worldwide (GCW)
Estimated Membership: 300 worldwide
Leader: David Moore
Headquarters: Sorrento, Florida
God’s Church, Worldwide was founded by David Moore in the wake of the 1995 WCG schism. They mostly distribute Herbert W. Armstrong’s works and writings and don’t produce any literature of their own. Their members primarily attend the events and Holy Day services of other splinters.
Official Name: Church of God In Training for the Kingdom (COG-TFK)
Estimated Membership: 100 worldwide
Leader: Dan Cafeo
Headquarters: Palo Cedro, California
Dan Cafeo’s Church of God, In Training for the Kingdom is similar to other Armstrongite churches. Cafeo waxes poetically about how dangerous it is to be intellectual, how to raise kids, that there will be no entertainment in the Kingdom and how praying for those in office is a sin. This one-man show is small and primarily rooted online, but it’s trying to setup a tithing structure and draw members away from the larger COG churches through attacks on the current ministry.
Estimated Membership: 200 worldwide
Leader: David Nix
Headquarters: Woodruff, South Carolina
Formerly the End-Time Assembly, Church of Covenant Blessings is a splinter from Church of God International originally headquartered in Fredericksburg,Virginia, before it’s leader, David Nix, declared himself a prophet and claimed to be receiving messages from God, which he published in two books. Nix moved the cult to South Carolina. Both towns have small congregations comprised mostly of former CGI members and they still hold regular Sabbath services. To add to its sketchiness, it has a 1-800 number as its primary “toll free” line and its website is infected with malware.
Related ResourcesEnd-Time Assembly of God (MALWARE WARNING PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK) Church of Covenant Blessings Church of God, a Family Community Official Name: Church of God, a Family Community (COGAFC) Estimated Membership: 1000 worldwide? Leader: Steve Andrews, Brian Orchard Headquarters: Pasadena, California
David's Hulme's COGIC exploded at the beginning of 2014 over issues of Hulme's megalomania, ministerial abuse, lack of leadership, failed media ventures and apparent rejection of British Israelism. Several top ministers within COGIC, including Hulme's own brother-in-law Brian Orchard, left the cult to form their own church after Hulme terminated their employment and excommunicated them.
We'll see whether the new splinter group manages itself any more effectively and ethically.
Related ResourcesThe Father's Call
Other COG Evangelists (via Wikipedia)
Colin Adair (1944-1998, DECEASED): Leader of WCG congregations in the Philippines and Canada. Was a minister in GCOG after the split.
David Albert (STATUS UNKNOWN): Ordained by Joseph W. Tkach in 1988. Co-host of The World Tomorrow from 1986 to 1994. Author of Difficult Scriptures. “Professor” of psychology for many years at Ambassador University.
Richard Ames: Former Registrar of Ambassador University. Co-host of The World Tomorrow. 1986-1994. Currently co-hosts Tomorrow’s World for LCG.
David Antion: Left WCG in 1979. Affiliated with the COGI.
Dibar Apartian (1916): Came to Ambassador University in the 1950s as a French professor, later head of the French outreach for the cult. Left WCG in 1995. Now affiliated with the LCG.
Richard D. Armstrong (1929-1958, DECEASED): Ambassador Student Body President, 1951-1952. Ambassador Class of 1952. Ordained by his father, Herbert W. Armstrong on December 20, 1952. Died in an automobile crash near San Luis Obispo in 1958. Is buried in his family’s plot at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California.
C. Stanley Bass (1945-1998, DECEASED): One of two African-Americans to be ordained as an evangelist in WCG. From 1990 onward was on the English faculty at Ambassador University in Big Sandy. As he had graduated from Paul Quinn College many years earlier, he was finally awarded a degree from Ambassador in 1997 at the institution’s final spring commencement.
Dean Blackwell (1931-2003, DECEASED): Was the first pastor of the WCG congregation in Big Sandy, Texas in 1953. Ordained Evangelist in 1964. Long-time pastor in the Chicago area, later a favorite professor of theology at Ambassador University. Retired by WCG in 1996. Remained with WCG until his death.
Carn Catherwood (STATUS UNKNOWN): Ambassador Class of 1961. Leader of the Italian outreach of WCG beginning in the early 1980s.
C. Wayne Cole (STATUS UNKNOWN): Ambassador Class of 1954. Excommunicated in 1979 during the Receivership Crisis. Has been affiliated with both the COGI and the UCG.
Robert Fahey: Ambassador Class of 1965. Ordained minister in 1981. Demoted from Evangelist rank. Only Evangelist to be demoted to the rank of Pastor. Now affiliated with UCG serving in Chicago.
J. Michael Feazell (1951-????, STATUS UNKNOWN): Ordained to the rank of Evangelist by Joseph W. Tkach in 1990. Authored The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God in 2001.
David Jon Hill (1930-2003, DECEASED): Ambassador Class of 1955. Authored How to Study the Bible and Read the Book. Contributed to Twentieth-Century Watch in the 1980s. Brother-in-law of church hymn writer Dwight L. Armstrong.
Herman L. Hoeh (1928-2004, DECEASED): Ambassador Class of 1951. Ordained by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1952. Noted church historian, his two doctoral dissertations that laid the foundation for views on world history held by many in the cult. Retired by WCG iu 1996. Served on Ambassador University board until its closure in 1997. Served on church board until his death.
Charles F. Hunting (STATUS UNKNOWN): Ambassador Class of 1961. Excommunicated in 1974.
Harold Jackson: (1911-1991, DECEASED): First African-American to be ordained as an Evangelist, one of only two. The Harold L. Jackson Hall of Humanities on the Big Sandy, Texas campus of Ambassador was named in his memory. Worked with African-American members of the church during the 1960s. Listed as “doctrinal advisor” in 1988 ministerial directory.
Ronald D. Kelly: (1938-????, STATUS UNKNOWN): Ordained in 1976. Co-host of The World Tomorrow from 1988 until 1994. Now retired from WCG.
Ellis LaRavia (1931-present): Vice-President of Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. Ordained Evangelist in Tucson, Arizona in 1979. Now affiliated with UCG.
Burk McNair: One-time pastor of WCG congregation in Big Sandy. Now with UCG.
Raymond F. McNair (1930-2008, DECEASED): Ambassador Class of 1953. Authored Ascent to Greatness in 1976. Deputy Chancellor of Ambassador University until 1987 when sent to serve in New Zealand. Excommunicated in 1993. Served in LCG.
Leslie McCullough: Ambassador Class of 1961. Twice served as Deputy Chancellor of Ambassador University in Big Sandy. Currently affiliated with COGWA.
C. Paul Meredith (1905-1968, DECEASED): Ordained by Herbert W. Armstrong on December 20, 1952. Editor of the original Bible Correspondence Course. Was the uncle of Roderick C. Meredith, leader of LCG.
L. Leroy Neff: Ambassador Class of 1959. Long-time treasurer in the WCG. Now affiliated with COGWA.
Al Portune (STATUS UNKNOWN): Excommunicated in 1974.
Richard Rice (1935-2003, DECEASED): Director of WCG Mail Processesing Center.
Larry Salyer: Now with UCG.
Bernard W. Schnippert: Ordained by Joseph W. Tkach in the fall of 1990. Was an assistant to Stanley R. Rader. Affiliated with UCG.
Norman A. Smith (STATUS UNKNOWN): Ambassador Class of 1954. Ordained Evangelist in 1957. Retired in 1996.
Leon Walker: Long-time director of Spanish work, now with COGWA.
Donald L. Ward: Ordain by Joseph W. Tkach. Excommunicated from WCG in 1995. President of Ambassador University from 1987 to 1995. Affiliated with UCG.
Gerald Waterhouse (1927-2002, DECEASED): Ambassador Class of 1956. Excommunicated in 1995. Affiliated with UCG, 2005-2003. Buried in Florence, South Carolina. Known for sermons stressing the importance of remaining loyal to Herbert W. Armstrong and his successors no matter what. In the end, he left the cult to which he had pledged undying loyalty.
Kenneth Westby: Excommunicated in 1974. Founded ACOG.
Dean Wilson (STATUS UNKNOWN): Ambassador Class of 1962. Leader of WCG in Canada.
Clint Zimmerman (STATUS UNKNOWN): Ordained by Joseph W. Tkach in 1990. Originally a chiropractor.
There are hundreds of other online ministries and small living room-based COG sects throughout the world. As some become more notable, they’ll be specifically profiled. In the meantime, here’s the list of current COG splinter sites. We’re keeping track of new cults and the extinction of others.
We strive to keep track of each extinct or defunct COG churches in order better record the gradual crumbling of the cult. A number of these groups may have simply gone under ground or changed their name beyond anyone's notice. Others have self-destructed spectacularly.
Some of these groups have merged with others or have changed their identities completely, and such cases are noted. If anyone has any brief profiles to add describing the history of these splinters, please send them to us, as many are so obscure they barely existed at all.
We've also listed former COG websites that existed when Silenced launched in Summer 2011, but have since disappeared entirely.
Ron Weinland of the Church of God (COG website)
RonDart.com (Ron Dart's personal ministry profile)
Biblelaw.com (COG website)
Christian Renewal Ministries International (COG sect)
Church of God, Atlanta Bible Fellowship (COG sect)
Church of God Big Sandy (COG sect)
Church of God, Established in Modesto (COG sect)
Church of God His Beloved (COG sect)
Church of God Huntington Beach (COG sect)
Church of God Independent (COG sect)
Church of God Sabbath Day (COG sect)
Church of God Talents Ministries (COG sect)
Church of God, In Truth (COG sect)
Church of God in Williamston, Melbourne (COG sect)
Church of God’s Patience (COG sect)
Cornerstone Evangelical Association (COG sect)
Cornerstone Publications (COG website)
Faithful Church of God Winnipeg (COG sect)
Final Prophecy for the Church of God (COG website)
Free Biblical Articles (COG website)
Green Pastures Gazette (COG website)
Heartland Fellowship (COG sect)
Hebrew Roots (COG website)
House of God, Daytona Beach (COG sect)
Inter-Dependent Church of God Sabbath Day (COG sect)
International Bible Learning Center (COG website)
Little Children of Jesus Christ (COG sect)
New Covenant Church of God (COG sect)
Olive Branches (COG website)
Original Bible Project (COG website)
Patriots of the Kingdom (COG website)
Stedfast Church of God (COG sect)
Sabbatarians (COG website)
Tomorrow, Inc. (COG website)
Truth-Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ (COG website)
7th Day Sabbath Churches of God (Directory website)
Wikipedia: Church of God, an International Community (Wikipedia entry)
Wikipedia: David Hulme (Wikipedia entry)
A Congregation of God (COG sect)
Orange County Fellowship of God (COG sect)
Christ’s Knock (L.F. Maschio, COG prophet)
HWA Compendium (COG library)
COG World Travelers (Facebook group)
Church of God, Southern California (COG sect)
Church of God, Speaking to the Remnant (COG sect)
United Christian Ministries (COG sect)
Steve Burns Calendar Page (COG website)
Church of God, Preaching the Kingdom of GodChurch of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God
Official Name: Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God
Estimated Membership: 800 worldwide
Leader: Ronald Weinland
Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio
The Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God is a small Christian church that claims to provide “support, education and warning to the scattered Church that was formerly united in the Worldwide Church of God.”
COG-PKG is led by Ronald Weinland and has adopted apocalyptic beliefs stating we are currently in the process of watching the world end.
Weinland has changed the prophesied date for the return of Christ several times and recently began to ordain women in his church as elders.
Weinland used to deliver his sermons weekly on Saturday afternoons on a live basis to members throughout the United States and Canada via streaming internet podcast. Since his indictment and prison sentence for tax evasion, whatever is left of COG-PKG -- which is now mostly defunct -- is held together by Weinland's letters from prison.
Rogues GalleryRonald Weinland
Leader of Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God
Incident History: Tax evasion indictment and conviction
Ron Weinland, born in Wichita, Kansas, studied at Ambassador College and graduated from Bricket Wood in 1975. He was ordained a full-time minister by WCG in 1982. After the 1995 schism, Weinland joined the newly-formed UCG as the pastor of the Toledo, Ohio congregation, taking many of his flock with him to form Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God in 2000.
Weinland has taken Armstrong’s apocalyptic beliefs to its farthest point, claiming that we are “currently” in the process of watching the world end. Weinland has identified himself to be “the spokesman of His two end-time witnesses” mentioned in Revelation 11:3. Weinland also claims that he and his wife Laura are both prophets, and that he is the "end-time Elijah" to come as mentioned in Malachi 4:5-6. He also claims to be the “Zerubbabel” who will rebuild the Jewish Temple.
According to his blog, “the final countdown has begun, as the 1335 days before the actual day Jesus Christ returns began on Tuesday, September 30, 2008.” In a sermon given for April 18, 2008, he identified his wife Laura, as the other witness of Revelation 11 and called Pope Benedict XVI a “false prophet.”
He was indicted on tax evasion charges in November 2011 for using tithe money for his personal use and expenses. Federal investigators said Weinland failed to report more than $356,000 in taxes between 2004 and 2009, translating to millions in received tithes from his followers.
His alleged acts of evasion included filing tax returns, understating his gross income, using church funds for personal expenses and failing to report the existence of a Swiss bank account where he funneled many church donations. Weinland was found guilty on all charges in June. He faced up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000 for each of the five counts of tax evasion brought against him and was sentenced in September 2012.
He is serving a 40 month prison sentence and continues to send letters to his followers from prison. Weinland's latest predicted apocalyptic date is May 19, 2013.
COG-PKG is virtually defeated and done for as Ron Weinland continues to serve his prison sentence for tax fraud. The cult could make a comeback, but the number of disillusioned that left following years of false prophecies, bad press and federal crimes leaves this group weakened to the state of being completely impotent, even while Weinland attempts to make new pronouncements from his cell.
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Church of God, an International Community
Church of God, an International Community
Official Name: Church of God International
Estimated Membership: 2000 worldwide
Leader: David Hulme
Headquarters: Pasadena, California
The Church of God, an International Community claims to follow the “original” teachings of Jesus Christ as taught by the first-century Church. COGIC has regional offices in nine countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
COGIC publishes the quarterly print journal Vision: Insights and New Horizons. COGIC has produced three television documentaries: “Cheating God Out of Christianity,” which aired on The Discovery Channel and CNBC, “Quest for the Real Paul” and “Message to the Seven Churches.” It also publishes an online biblical study course called Foundations.
Rumblings of turmoil within COGIC started in 2012 and exploded in late 2013 when several ministers "resigned" or were fired for disagreements with Hulme over issues of governance, ministerial abuse and Hulme's apparent rejection of British Israelism. At the very beginning of 2014, Church of God, A Family Community was born when Brian Orchard (Hulme's brother-in-law), Steven Andrews (his former treasurer) and a handful of other senior ministers held a conference over New Year's that ultimately broke COGIC.
Leader of Church of God, an International Community
Incident History: researching
David Hulme, born in Bolton, England, is president of Vision Media Productions, publisher of the quarterly Vision Magazine, and lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Southern California.
After the 1995 schism of WCG, he also founded the Church of God, an International Community. Hulme was one of Herbert W. Armstrong’s lieutenants and latched onto UCG in the wake of WCG’s schism.
From 1986-1994, Hulme was a presenter on The World Tomorrow television program, and from 1995-1998, was the president of the United Church of God. In 1998, when it was clear that UCG was not going to institute the “one-man rule” of WCG and instead establish a General Council of Elders with a rotating president, Hulme left to form COGIC in Pasadena, California, the spiritual home of Worldwide and all of its daughter churches.
Hulme has continued his broadcasting work and still writes much of COGIC’s literature.
David Hulme's COGIC shattered in early 2014 after his own brother-in-law, Brian Orchard, left with a slew of other senior cult ministers, taking many members with them. Months of internal strife mostly destroyed COGIC.
The resulting splinter group, The Father's Call, promptly broke shortly thereafter.