June 2019 Member Letter
June 6, 2019
I wish all of you could have been present for the building dedication and the International Ministerial Conference! Both were inspiring and will be remembered as major milestones in our short history. We formally incorporated as the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, on Dec. 23, 2010. Considerable progress has been made since that date, for which we give God the credit. He has been merciful to us and blessed us greatly.
The building dedication was scheduled to be an outdoor activity. If you have seen some of the drone footage of the building construction, you know that we have a very nice lawn on the southeast corner of the building. Our original plan was to set up 200 chairs on the grass. The ceremony was designed to be short, concluding with a dedication prayer, and then we planned to invite everyone to tour the building. As we got closer to the date, it was obvious that we would have more than 200 people, so we increased the number of chairs to 300. But our actual attendance was a surprising 454!
We had a real scare on the Sabbath of May 18, the day before the dedication. It was one of the stormiest days of the year in the Dallas area. There were high winds, torrential rain and hail! It seemed impossible that we could hold an outdoor activity in less than 24 hours. We chose to wait until noon on Sunday to make the final decision on the location, whether inside or outside. We had reserved a meeting room at the nearby Sheraton Hotel just in case. But Sunday was absolutely beautiful. What a difference a day made! The sky was bright blue with only a few clouds. The temperature was warm, but the humidity was low. The lawn was dry, having drained extremely well the night before. It was perfect!
Several people worked very hard to make the dedication a success. David Myers, pastor of the Akron-Canton and Youngstown, Ohio, congregations, organized a choir of 37 members from among the ministers and wives. The hymn they sang (“Hymn of Dedication”) was very inspiring for all who were present. Joel Meeker, chairman of the Ministerial Board of Directors, made a few remarks on behalf of the board, followed by my comments. We concluded the ceremony with a dedication prayer offered by one of our senior ministers, Leon Walker. Brethren from the local Dallas and Sherman congregations were involved with setting up chairs and serving refreshments to everyone.
In my comments I described the building as a tool to be used for more effectively doing the work of the Church—preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to all the world and caring for those whom God is calling to be part of His family. The new building consists of 17,000 square feet and provides us with space to expand. We have a large conference room that will hold up to 50 people, a smaller conference room for 10 to 12 people, an expanded studio for our video needs, and a much larger classroom for Foundation Institute. We now have the best working environment since we began just over eight years ago. It isn’t a temple or a place of worship. It is a tool, and we hope it will become a very effective tool for doing the work.
In 1 Corinthians 3:9 the Church is compared to a building that belongs to God (“you are God’s building”). Christ said, “On this rock [referring to Himself] I will build My Church” (Matthew 16:18). Based on the metaphor of a building, we chose as our theme for the Ministerial Conference Psalm 127:1: “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
In the Old Testament God’s presence is recorded to have been in three structures—the tabernacle, Solomon’s temple and the second temple. All three were destroyed and no longer exist, but the spiritual building, the Church, will never be destroyed (Matthew 16:18). What an amazing calling we have to be part of that building.
The tabernacle in the wilderness was filled with gold and silver, and Solomon’s temple was one of the most extravagant buildings ever constructed. The second temple was missing much of the gold and silver, but it was an amazing structure in its own right (Haggai 2:8-9). But all three were destroyed. The tabernacle disappeared after the construction of Solomon’s temple; the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s temple; and the Romans destroyed the second temple. They are all gone, but since the founding of the Church in Acts 2, this spiritual house has survived, and we are assured that the “gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
In my concluding presentation to the ministry, I made reference to Luke 1:2 and the phrase “ministers of the word” and to 1 Corinthians 4:1, where Paul states, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” The word ministers and the word servants are both translated from the same Greek word. The word is huperetes, which literally means “under rower” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). This was the title given to the slaves who were chained below deck on the Roman warships. Their responsibility was to row the ship into battle. The Corinthians of the first century would have been quite familiar with the Roman warships that were always in the city harbor. So, when Luke and Paul refer to themselves as under rowers, they were making a very important statement about the role of the ministry in serving God’s people and thereby helping to build the house. Of course, we all should be under rowers. An under rower—a true servant—is one who serves for the sake of the body and not for himself or herself, and not for recognition.
In my final comments I asked the ministry to return home and focus on three things: (1) to love and serve the brethren with your whole heart; (2) to prepare well-thought-out messages each Sabbath; and (3) to work with younger men and women to develop future leaders of the Church.
It was a truly inspiring conference, filled with stories of God’s people from around the world. There were emotional moments that brought tears, and there were moments of joy that brought abundant laughter. I am excited and humbled to be with all of you in building a spiritual house that will never be destroyed! We have a beautiful office building, but the real building, the one that means the most to us, is located in small and large congregations around the world.
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,