WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG
PRESIDENT and PASTOR
Jerusalem, Old City
May 5, 1969
Dear Brethren and Co-Heirs with Christ:
I find it necessary to push aside all other writing and responsibilities for the moment and write personally a letter just to you Brethren, members of God's Church.
Two or three points urgently need to be cleared. One is about changing areas in attending the Feast of Tabernacles; another is about the special offerings taken on the seven annual Holy Days.
Let me explain, first, that in writing the letter to Co-Workers once a month, I do not address you as Brethren, because the letter goes to about twice as many NON-member Co-Workers as to MEMBER Co-Workers. Of course I assume you all understand that you Brethren are Co-Workers. It is like all Jews are Israelites, but all Israelites are not Jews. All members are Co-Workers. But all Co-Workers are not members. Nevertheless, the Co-Worker letters are meant as much for you Brethren as for NON-member Co-Workers.
I sincerely hope the new magazine, TOMORROW'S WORLD, to be mailed to all Co-Workers -- both members and non-members -- will help in bringing many more Co-Workers, who are not members now, into God's Church.
But first, about changing Feast site areas. Some have had a mistaken idea about changing areas -- and especially many in the United States going to England. A few had gone to England two and three years ago. But last year the mistaken assumption got going that "it would save money for the WORK if a large number went to Britain." I felt sure it would COST the Work a very great deal, but both our Festival planners and those in charge of the Business office at Headquarters felt it would be good for the Brethren and SAVE THE WORK MONEY. Our British Headquarters had to bring a certain minimum number to the Festival, or pay the difference -- and there were not enough ln Britain and Europe to make up this number unless we sent a fairly large contingent from America.
I do think God guides me, Brethren, and it proved that my judgment was right. It DID cost the Work money. It did take money from the Work seriously needed IN the Work. And it DID have a spiritually injurious effect on several.
Let me tell you what actually happened. Many letters have been coming to our ministers in the eastern part of the United States -- the area from which most went last year to England -- about disappointments and problems. We find that MANY who went failed to consider all aspects of the trip. Many failed to plan properly, and found themselves in a shortage of funds. This in spite of the fact it was continually EMPHASIZED to the brethren they should thoroughly evaluate the situation. One minister personally talked with each one. They all stated they had plenty to finance their trip. But it didn't work out that way! Although they ENJOYED it, many miscalculated on funds, found themselves short, and should not have gone! MANY USED PERSONAL MONEY, beside second tithe, which should have gone to pay bills, and returned in financial trouble.
Many have admitted that THE HOLY DAY OFFERINGS WERE CUT DOWN, as a result of the trip, and also as a result of taking side pleasure trips.
One minister who went with the group reports: "Overall, I feel the Feast was overshadowed, in the minds of the people who went, by the trip's side advantages." In other words, sight-seeing side trips, perhaps to Europe, were MORE IMPORTANT in the minds of Brethren than the SPIRITUAL advantages of the Festival. He continues: "It was not as spiritually-rewarding a Feast as it should have been, because their minds were on other things."
The Brethren who went were repeatedly warned of this BEFORE they went. Yet the chance to go to England, and probably Europe, loomed up as THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME, and their interest in PHYSICAL sight-seeing was so great it cast a shadow over the Feast in their minds. The Feast became secondary! They attend the Feast every year -- but the chance to see England and Europe was once in a lifetime -- naturally that became FIRST -- over and ABOVE Christ, or the Kingdom of God.
Brethren, I do sincerely hope none of you RECEIVED YOUR REWARD, a sight-seeing physical material reward ONCE in a lifetime, and cheated yourselves out of an ETERNAL reward continuously FOREVER in God's glorious KINGDOM! The things sightseers have their eyes and minds on are mostly ugly, drab, dirty. The very PURPOSE of the Feast of Tabernacles is to GET OUR EYES O F F the ugly things of this world -- and to GET AWAY from this world, and have our minds on the BRIGHT, HAPPY, GLORIOUS things our loving God has prepared for us, IN HIS KINGDOM, during the millennium and on beyond for eternity!
No, Brethren, as the servant and instrument of the LIVING Jesus Christ, who is the HEAD of this Church, I simply have to put an end to these group trips overseas for the Feast of Tabernacles!! I have to do it IN HIS NAME, and by Jesus Christ's AUTHORITY!
I find that several local churches have been excitedly planning a FAR BIGGER excursion and worldly sight-seeing adventure to Britain for this autumn. Charter flights are DANGEROUS. Most air crashes seem to be on charter flights. Pilots on these flights are not flying daily like those on scheduled airlines. Now that we have our own jet and our own crew -- the MOST efficient and experienced, and men led by God's Spirit -- I am learning more about flying than I knew. They tell me that definitely, most air crashes are due to PILOT ERROR, and much if not most of that because pilots are not in continual flight. If one of our pilots laid off for two or three months, for instance, we would not let him fly passengers until he took intensive brush-up training all over again, to get back into "harness."
IF the English Feast site requires more in attendance than will come, then we know now it will SAVE THE WORK MONEY to simply PAY THE DIFFERENCE, not try to send enough Brethren from America to make it up.
WE NEED TO REEVALUATE THE ENTIRE PURPOSE OF THIS FESTIVAL! We need to EXAMINE OURSELVES, just as much as we do before Passover!
One member who went last year wrote me personally, DEMANDING a personal answer, saying: "Please take the opportunity to answer this letter personally." Brethren, if I take time to write each one of you personally, I would have no time to write PLAIN TRUTH articles, booklets, Co-Worker letters, or to attend the many conferences I must attend to counsel with those God has made leaders at Headquarters, learn the facts of numerous problems, make weighty decisions often involving millions of dollars or the very spiritual life or death of one or more members, or any number of responsibilities I have constantly coming down on my shoulders. This member was TAKING IT ON HIMSELF without authority to organize a $56,000 charter flight. Of the trip to Britain he said: "We would like to do it again this year only extending it to the NYC churches." This member's letter was quite DEMANDING! Well, Brethren, I have to tell you that I do not respond to such uncalled-for demands! I referred this letter to the District Superintendent over his district. I was informed that this member was one who has an attitude problem, more zeal than wisdom -- MEANS WELL -- but sometimes lets zeal cause him to appear to be in a wrong attitude and spirit. I hope he has learned his lesson. Let me say, I would like to write individual personal letters to each one of you -- and to have private, personal talks with each one of you. But I'm sure you realize why I am simply unable to do that.
And I do have to call your attention again to the fact that the LIVING GOD (not I) did set AUTHORITY in His Church. It runs in a CHAIN of authority, from the TOP down. The TOP is the living Jesus Christ. He is QUITE ALIVE and ACTIVE! I did not appoint myself next under Him -- but HE DID, and I have to accept that authority, and will have to ANSWER TO HIM as to how I exercise it. Therefore matters like these charter flights MUST BE DECIDED FROM THE TOP AT HEADQUARTERS, and any planning of such must originate from Headquarters, not with individual members.
Now about the annual Holy Day offerings.
I am discouraged and sorely disheartened, Brethren, because THE FACTS ARE that on these seven occasions, the receipt of money at Headquarters to carry on the Work of God drops off AS MUCH as the amount put into these offerings! That can only mean one thing! Most of you Brethren are NOT putting in ANY real special Holy Day offering at all, but instead taking what otherwise would have been mailed in -- as tithes and normal offerings -- and putting THAT into the Holy Day offering!
Brethren I wonder if that is not doing almost exactly what Ananias and Sapphira did! Please read that again -- it is in Acts 5:1-11. They professed that they put in the amount they sold their property for. Peter said THEY LIED to THE HOLY SPIRIT. They DROPPED DEAD! If YOU profess that what you put in the Holy Day offering is a SPECIAL HOLY DAY OFFERING, when it is only a regular offering, is not that about the same thing? Brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ I say I WOULD BE AFRAID to do such a thing!
PLEASE, for your own sake -- for you are being judged BY GOD -- send ALL the tithes and regular offerings to Headquarters by mail as usual, and let the Holy Day offerings be EXTRA and SPECIAL offerings! If this means that instead of a $75,000 offering at a Feast, we only have a $25,000 offering -- while the income at Headquarters remains normal, THAT WILL BE BETTER! The example I set for you is that the offering I make on Holy Days is special and extra. No one likes to see these SPECIAL offerings swell 'way up big' more than I. I try to HELP swell them up, as those who count the money may know. But they should be SPECIAL offerings. They should swell up the income at Headquarters, not just bring it to the same normal it would have been anyway.
One other thing. For the month before the Feast of Tabernacles, the income always SAGS DOWN below normal. Many Brethren have either NEGLECTED to save all their second tithe, or have "borrowed" (the word should be "stolen") from it for other purposes through the year. Then, when the Feast is coming they take from tithes or offerings, beginning about a month ahead, apparently feeling they won't be able to go otherwise. IT IS NECESSARY WE LEARN HOW TO HANDLE GOD'S MONEY. The second and third tithes are as much GOD'S as the first -- even though He has directed that you spend the second on yourself -- and also the "Levite" (in this N.T. time God's ministers) and others, and the third for the poor, etc. But God has directed HOW and WHEN to use it. To "borrow" from it is disobedience to God's directions.
I know Brethren, that we all like to have large Holy Day offerings. We like to keep swelling them up larger than the year before. But I would much rather have the special Holy Day offerings lower and keep the receipt of tithes and regular offerings up to normal at Headquarters. So I ask you, PLEASE, continue to mall in your tithes and regular offerings -- and special offerings for the building fund -- during the Feast periods the same as regularly. Let the special Holy Day offerings be JUST THAT -- special Holy Day offerings that are IN ADDITION TO what you would send in if we did not have this special offering.
One other thing is VERY IMPORTANT.
Let me explain it. You know how King David had a great desire to build a HOUSE FOR GOD at the Headquarters of that time, which God has chosen. God said to David "Thou didst well that lt was in thine heart." (l Kings 8:17-18.) However, because David was a man of war, and had killed so many men, God said the Temple was to be built -- but not by David, but by his son Solomon when Solomon became King.
A few years ago a similar desire came to me. Because of the sins of Israel and Judah, God rejected Jerusalem and turned His back on lt. He will YET choose Jerusalem AGAIN, at the coming of Christ as WORLD RULER, to be the capital city of the world. But UNTIL then, Jerusalem is NOT God's earthly Headquarters, but Pasadena, California IS. At Pasadena, God's Headquarters Church had to meet for years in a hired hall. For the last four years or so, we have met in the college gymnasium. The College NEEDS an auditorium. And since the Headquarters Church meets on the campus, this auditorium would also be THE HOUSE FOR GOD, where the Headquarters Church would hold its Sabbath services.
The desire came to me to build a HOUSE FOR GOD at His present HEAD-QUARTERS.
Of course I did not have in mind anything remotely as fine as Solomon's Temple. Yet I feel it should be very fine in quality, in the type of construction of our day. It should not be cheap or shoddy.
I wanted to build this before we built any other buildings on the campus several years ago. But serious needs for the College seized priority. These other buildings had to come first. Now we have the gymnasium -- used almost constantly seven days a week. We have the Student Center, with the dining hall. We have the classroom and lecture buildings, named the Loma D. Armstrong Academic Center. And, at last, we are ln the new desperately needed Hall of Administration, at the College's new main entrance, 300 West Green Street.
And now, at last, the architects' plans for the auditorium -- which to God's people will be thought of as THE HOUSE FOR GOD, at His present world Headquarters -- are completed. And here is a most unusual coincidence -- OR IS IT COINCIDENCE? In Jerusalem is a large-scale MODEL occupying an area of at least 100 feet or more each way -- possibly 150 feet. This model represents the city of Jerusalem as it was at the time of King Herod. Herod died while Jesus was still a young child (Matt. 2:20) -- probably not over two years old. One of the many, many buildings modeled in miniature is the Temple -- called Herod's Temple, for King Herod (the Roman King) had repaired and remodeled the second Temple built by Zerubabbel, and enlarged it. As I looked at the model of the Temple, from the front, I was startled. In form and shape it is VERY SIMILAR to the design of our new HOUSE FOR GOD! Neither the architects knew or planned it to be that way, nor did I. It made me feel that God surely must have guided the plans for our auditorium. For example, this auditorium will seat about 1250. Yet the building is to be over 70 feet high. Now I might, myself, wonder WHY would we build an auditorium so high? That much height is NOT required to seat the audience -- or the congregation. How did that happen? Well, some five years ago, when we first started planning for this HOUSE FOR GOD, our architect firm's designers made eight or ten rough sketches of building designs and shapes. I was at the time at the English campus. They sent these to me there. I tacked them all up on walls in our radio studio there. Then I, and our ministers who were there, carefully studied all these different designs for the external appearance and shape of the building. Why did we choose this particular one? Simply because we thought It looked the most beautiful. Others had much lower height. Yet to all of us, this one design was by far the most attractive. Later, at Pasadena, all of our ministers and officials there agreed -- they, too, chose this same design. None of us knew lt was shaped like the Temple at Jerusalem. But somehow I think God knew!
Several months ago the architects gave us their carefully figured cost estimate for this building. Our business management and financial representatives went to work to obtain long-term financing to pay the cost of construction. They obtained definite loan commitments from insurance companies and banks. We hoped to break ground and start construction about August or September, this year. Then, just before I left Pasadena on this present trip to Jerusalem, the architects gave us bad news: They had made a mistake in figuring the cost, by about 40%. They said it will cost 40% more than their first estimate. Our financing does not provide that much money.
So now our business department and financial representatives are having to start all over and try, first, to get the same banks and insurance companies to increase the loan commitments by 40%; and second, failing in that, to obtain the higher financing elsewhere. Meanwhile too, we are having other firms figure this cost as a double check. I hope we shall not have to delay this wonderful building another year -- or perhaps give it up altogether.
I have a brother-in-law in Portland, Oregon, who for years has been the leading architect in that area for public buildings -- school and college buildings. He has carefully studied these plans, and examined the small-scale model the architects had made for it. He told me with enthusiasm that this is the most PERFECTLY designed building, architecturally, he has ever seen. He simply marvelled at its simplicity, the perfection of its proportions, at its beauty.
Are we going to be able to build it? THAT DEPENDS ON YOU, BRETHREN. Once again, instead of increasing the special building fund by 25% or 30% a year as we should -- since we have that many more members -- you Brethren are FALLING DOWN on it again. Since January 1, the SPECIAL offerings for the building fund have been, NOT 25% higher than the same period last year, but MUCH LOWER.
When I first started this building fund, a few years ago, I expected to build this building first. That's what I wanted to do. At that time the response from all Church members was ENTHUSIASTIC. But necessity gave other buildings priority, and we had to delay this HOUSE FOR GOD. Now, at last, we are ready to build it.
So HOW ABOUT IT, Brethren? Are we going to have to give it up, because so many of you are dropping off on this building fund? Remember, it is to be ADDITIONAL to your regular tithes and offerings -- and additional to Holy Day offerings. I believe God WANTS IT BUILT!
I'm going to ask you to sacrifice other things, and CONTINUE sending in generous SPECIAL offerings for this Building Fund.
Of course I know there will be some who will say, "Well, are we not too near the time of Christ's coming, and the end of this Work, to build it?" The answer is NO! First, we cannot set dates for sure. Second, Jesus said blessed shall we be, who shall be found diligently doing in HIS WORK, when He comes. Not those who say, "Let's lie down and quit." Our Leader, the living Jesus Christ, is leading us in God's Work to continue diligently right up to the end of the present phase of the Work.
Another VERY IMPORTANT point. THIS WORK IS NOT GOING TO END IN THE NEXT TWO-AND-A-HALF OR THREE -- OR FIVE OR TEN YEARS! This WORK OF GOD is going to continue for more than a thousand Years! There will be a short temporary RECESS -- or temporary stopping of it, during the period of the Great Tribulation and Day of the LORD, up to Christ's coming. But that will be only a temporary INTERRUPTION. We shall have a TREMENDOUS responsibility to perform IN GOD'S KINGDOM, all through the Millennium!
Some ask: Will God supernaturally PROTECT His own College Campuses through this period? Of course I do not know. I do know He CAN protect and preserve these beautiful properties He has put in our hands, IF HE SO WILLS! And it does seem like He just very possibly MAY so will! I think we shall have to leave that in HIS hands.
Anyway, I am convinced we should CARRY ON, with no slacking down or let-up -- but with INCREASED DEVOTION, ENTHUSIASM, SACRIFICE, AND ZEAL to spurt up faster on the home stretch we are now in!
Brethren, are you WITH ME? Let's set our hearts to proceed with this HOUSE FOR GOD, and every other phase of GOD'S WORK.
Let me say that in this MOST IMPORTANT archaeological excavation adjoining the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, removing some 50 feet or more of rubble and debris covering THE THRONE OF DAVID, on which the living Christ will sit when He comes, progress is proceeding at a breathtaking rate. On this trip I was surprised to see the great progress! Ambassador College is sending 50 or 55 students to work on it during the summer. Ambassador College is in 50-50 joint participation with Hebrew University in this tremendous project. THE WAY IS BEING PREPARED FOR CHRIST'S RETURN.
Please speed up on your prayers! Let's put all other things second -- GOD'S WORK MUST BE FIRST. THANK YOU.
With love, in Jesus' name,
Herbert W. Armstrong