November 8, 2019
Tonight, I’m sending excerpts from Mr. Armstrong’s December 19, 1980, Brethren letter. This letter leads right into what I have planned for tomorrow’s sermon. In this letter, Mr. Armstrong gives an excellent outline of the growth of the Work throughout the Philadelphia era.
Please have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ:
December 19, 1980
Look at this era of the Church of God, and its growth up to now! Let me condense it in a few words.
The true Church of God had not been carrying Christ’s Gospel to the world since around A.D. 70 (see Galatians 1:6-7). It still held to the NAME “Church of God,” but had become spiritually dead – – in the Sardis era (Revelation 3:1). God had called me, brought me to conversion and to BELIEVE HIM (that is, what He SAYS in His Word, the Bible) in the spring of 1927. I came among the Church people in Oregon, fellowshipped with them — but never joined with them.
Jesus Christ started me preaching in a 36-seat one-room country schoolhouse near Eugene, Oregon, in July, 1933. A new era – – the “Philadelphia” era (Revelation 3:7) — of God’s Church was born after six weeks’ six-nights-a-week meetings! The Church was organized in October, 1933. Nineteen members!
God had called me, prepared me and now used me to raise up this Philadelphia era of His Church. He then used me to direct and be the human dynamo driving its growth. The first Sunday in 1934 we started on the air — never to go off! February 1, 1934, the first issue of The PLAIN TRUTH was mailed out to some 350 new subscribers. The Church and its Work grew — and GREW — and GREW!
I held public services, inviting the people of local communities. The radio broadcast grew. The PLAIN TRUTH grew, and special booklets began to be printed more and more. I answered letters with questions from listeners and PLAIN TRUTH readers.
The Work was growing 30 percent each year over the year before — doubling in size of operations and people reached with Christ’s Gospel every 2-2/3 years — multiplying eight times over eight years.
In 1947 Ambassador College was started. In 1948 or 1949 the Bible Correspondence Course was started. By 1952 we began to graduate new ministers to pastor local churches.
In 1942 daily half-hour broadcasts began. In 1955 I began on television, with the rating agencies showing larger viewing audiences in cities where we were telecasting than the NBC “Tonight Show” now hosted by Johnny Carson — then by Steve Allen.
Soon we were on a very large number of the nation’s most powerful radio stations SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. The radio program was going out over more wattage of radio power than any program on earth. We became first, worldwide, in our field. Church membership became worldwide with hundreds of local churches pastored by hundreds of Ambassador-trained ordained ministers. The Church’s Work grew at the unmatched incredible rate of 30 percent per year on the average for 35 YEARS!
Then, 1968, Christ began opening doors for me to proclaim Christ’s Gospel in many nations on all continents, by personal invitations to private meetings with kings, emperors, presidents, prime ministers of many nations (Revelation 10:11). This kept me away from Pasadena more and more of the time — up to 300 out of the 365 days in a year! I delegated the day-to-day administration to executive vice-presidents of evangelist rank in Christ’s ministry. They were commissioned to carry out executive administration ONLY of policies and procedures Christ had instituted through me, and which had been building the Work on a 30 percent per year increase for 35 years.
But they assumed, without my knowledge, policy-setting changes and doctrinal changes given out to ministers, in an effort to “TAKE OVER” — destroy everything the living Christ had built through the years through me, and build something for themselves. They were watering down doctrines, changing procedures and policies and threatening other top-ranking ministers with losing their jobs if they revealed to me what was going on in my absence.
The broadcasting program went down, beginning 1968, until most stations had been canceled and replaced with short five-minute announcements. From being the biggest user of radio power on earth, we went down to lowest, even in the religious field. Other programs promptly grabbed our time. I had spent years traveling to all parts of the United States, to SELL our program in person to station managers coast to coast. It all went down the drain.
A little over three years ago — in August, 1977 — I suffered complete heart failure. My heart stopped completely. It was discovered, and a nurse and my sister-in-law worked furiously over me with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for more than a minute and a half, and brought back breath and heartbeat. It left me too ill to do much in the Work for several months.
But now for the past 2-1/2 years, I have once again taken over full day-to-day administration and complete direction of the Church Jesus Christ built through me.
We have had a 2-1/2 year drive to put the Church and God’s whole Work BACK ON THE TRACK!
Changing policies Christ inspired, changing doctrines God’s Word teaches, changing procedures that built His Work 30 percent a year for 35 years, was DISPLEASING TO THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST AND to GOD THE FATHER! When our performance pleases God the Father and Christ His Son, they BLESS THE WORK AND IT GROWS! Brethren, LET’S STRIVE TO PLEASE GOD!
With deep love, in Jesus’ name,
Herbert W. Armstrong