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Robert White's Dilemma & the INCREDIBLE COG MIRACLE That Grew From It Forum Index -> Acts-Celerate Post new topic   Reply to topic
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Post Robert White's Dilemma & the INCREDIBLE COG MIRACLE That Grew From It doyle
Blessed Thousands Because of It.

by Doyle Daugherty

Finally, this COG MIRACLE STORY of special historical import for our church, is being told. It has never been published before. Researching and writing it has been a joy. I hope it is a blessing.

At the Church of God General Assembly, nearly 2,000 ordained ministers, voting during the Ordained Minister's Council, made a decision that totally surprised Robert White.

AS HE LOOKED out over the ministers in that Council, White knew that each of them had put much effort into getting there. Every minister had his own story about his unique journey in COG ministry that had brought him to that Body. For those in COG ministry, being part of the Assembly was almost a "Right of Passage."

Almost none of them have started at the top of the organization. Most have labored faithfully for years, sometimes in untenable situations as they moved slowly up through the ranks. Every one of them had started in ministry at exactly the same level. “Exhorter,” is the beginning rank of COG ministry.

THE WELL-CONNECTED in the Church of God, COG, attend the Assembly at little or no cost to themselves. Organizational expense accounts cover expenditures. Pastors of larger congregations receive an allotment from their local church, all well and good.

Becoming well-connected first requires getting connected. In the COG, the General Assembly was one of several places where new friendships could be formed, and continuing fellowship with others could be enhanced.

For Pastors with fewer in their congregations, getting to the Assembly was a different experience. Many set aside money each month between Assemblies to save for the trip. They too longed to feel part of something special.

Some were blessed to have a congregation that took up a few special offerings to help supplement the travel expense. However, many were totally self-funded which often required taking time off from their secular bi-vocational work.

In spite of the limitations, they also longed to attend the Assembly. It was often a highlight of two years of faithful service for Christ during the time between Assemblies. They were almost always blessed by the Assembly.

It helped them maintain perspective of the larger picture of the many good things the COG was doing around the world. It broadened their vision. and renewed their enthusiasm for being part of the Church of God.

What have been some of the sacrifices you gladly made in order to attend a COG Assembly? I remember seeing a photo from the 1920’s of Church of God people crawling out of the bed of an old dump truck. It had been their transportation to the Assembly.

Georgia ministers and others will remember Brother W.G. Abney. He was a well-respected old-time minister. He once shared about his love for the Lord and for the Church of God. All they had to travel in was an old, dilapidated car with slick tires.

They headed out for the Assembly anyway. During the round-trip, they had to stop and patch the tires over 10 times, but they came home rejoicing. Fifty years later when he shared that story with a group of ministers, Brother Abney was still rejoicing over the sacrifice they made to get there.

While the well-funded registered at the top hotels and ate at the better restaurants, the self-funded often lodged at the less-expensive motels further out from town center. They ate breakfast at a fast-food place or had a bowl of cereal in their motel room.

When we were living in Boulder City, NV about 20 miles from Las Vegas, Mom and Dad took we six children to the General Assembly. The Church of God of Prophecy had their Assembly in Cleveland every year. I-40 was not yet completed, so 1,917 miles took about three days of hard driving to get there.

Lunch along the way was usually bologna sandwiches at a roadside picnic table. Once we arrived in Cleveland, all eight of us stayed in the same room at the Cherokee Motel. Mom and Dad slept in the bed and we children were spread out on blankets on the floor.

Before the night was over, about half of the children had crawled into bed with Mom and Dad. Being the oldest and tallest, it was my honor to spend the ENTIRE night on the floor.

We kids had no clue whatsoever at how much it cost; how long Mom and Dad had scrimped month-to-month to save for the trip. They talked for years about what a blessing being there had been to them. We lived a loooong way from Cleveland. Being there helped them and us all feel connected.

Hmm, we know Agendas and programs are important. We certainly do grasp that goals and proposed endeavors are too. However, is it possible that one of the sweetest fruits the General Assembly and Camp meetings can bear, is making sure they help our people feel connected to each other and to our Church of God?

On our family trip to the Assembly, Mom bought some milk and the Cornflakes multiple small- pack. There were eight little boxes in each packet. I liked the Sugar Pops. Are you old enough to remember the commercial jingle, “Sugar Pops are tops?” They were tops with me, and they never tasted better than during that trip to the COGOP Assembly.

Cut along the dotted line on each little box and “Wow!” The inside was covered with tin-foil. Pour the milk in and eat up. It did not even leak. It was breakfast without having to cook or wash dishes. That helped Mom enjoy the Assembly even more.

But Doyle, The COG Assembly and the COGOP Assembly are not the same. Having had the opportunity to attend one as a young person and the other often as an adult, I do see a few different, procedures, but they are very similar. It is like twin sisters in the same style dress but wearing a different style bow on their shoes.

They both have absolutely the same purpose. That is to help their people feel connected to each other and to their Church. No matter what else transpires at the Assembly, if the people do not leave with a sense of being loved and connected, that Assembly, Convention, Campmeeting missed the mark.

PASS every Agenda item. PASS every WHEREAS and HITHERTO resolution. PASS the offering plate 10 times, but if our people leave without feeling connected and proud to be part of our Church, all we did was pass the time away.

FOR LUNCH, those attending the COG Assembly on a smaller budget, may stop by the in-house Cafeteria. Is there an unwritten law that higher-ups should never be seen eating in the Cafeteria? The fellowship with the common folk sure was good there.

Even higher-ups need to get out of the darkened board rooms from time-to-time. Enjoy the sunshine of fellowship with the COG people who do not have a headquarters credit card or expense account. It will be good for you. It won’t hurt. I promise

IN THE EARLIER YEARS, local COG members where the Assembly was scheduled, rented out a room in their home to delegates. Some formed friendships that lasted through the years. Others offered a spare bedroom or couch absolutely free. They were thrilled at having company from fellow members from around the country.

They referred to each other as “Brother” and “Sister.” It was a title of honor that reflected how close the fellowship in the COG was at the time. Their affinity for identity with fellow church members was sometimes closer than with their own family who may not have “Loved the Lord.”

Whatever it took, whatever sacrifice it required, whether on an expense account or driving a car that was no-count, there was an inner urge to get to the Assembly. There was no law of nature or legislature, but all were in favor of attending the Assembly.

From around the nation and various countries, COG pastors and members flowed toward the Assembly destination. It was a response of love, not a mandate from above. There was an inner sense that one needed to be there.

Those without expense account connections, and without knowledge of homes with a bed, could rent a room at the YMCA. The first time Robert White attended a Church of God General Assembly, he was 18 years old. The Assembly that year was at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, TN. He stayed at the YMCA.

What year did you attend your first Assembly? Did you ever stay at “The Y” or some really cheap motel in order to attend? My first was when it was in Dallas. Linda and I were new in the COG, and were acquainted with very few COG people except at our local church.

The motivation for going was to get a boarder sense of what we had joined. The local church we attended was excellent, but what was the organization about? We wanted to know.

What was the motivation for attending your first Assembly? How did it make you feel? Did you come away with a new excitement about the Church of God?

Funds were low, so I had come alone. A few blocks from the nice Howard Johnson's where I later learned a lot of Assembly delegates stayed, I got a $5 a night room at a local flop-house hotel.

It was a rather run-down place having seen its best days back in the early 1940’s. Other than a few drunks in the lobby, it wasn’t so bad. The room and the sheets were clean. The water in the sink was at least warm, and the four nights I stayed, there was no gun fire. The lunch food in the Assembly Cafeteria, was very good.

Something else was good too. Each morning, I left the flop hotel, walked a hundred yards or so past a few drunks, and had breakfast at the Howard Johnson's. In only moments I went from destitution and the quiet sorrow it brings, into an excited atmosphere where families and friends were having joyous fellowship. The dramatic change of atmosphere in a hundred yards or so was absolutely startling.

It would probably be surprising how many in top COG leadership, stayed at the YMCA, a cheap motel and ate in the Cafeteria during their first few Assemblies. It’s OK, a kind of initiation. Almost nobody starts at the top. Everybody has an “I remember when” story. I bet you do too. Feel free to share it. A lot of folks here will identify with it.

However, once in the Assembly meeting arena with thousands of other members, nobody knew. They didn’t know you crawled out of a YMCA cot or flop hotel. They did not know you grabbed something to eat at a fast-food joint and walked or caught a taxi to the meeting.

You were there, and the fellowship of it all felt wonderful. That was especially true during the times when Pentecostals were under nearly constant attack. Are we still considered to be Pentecostal or are we morphing into something else? What is there in the land of Morphtom that we seek to become?

After all the planning, packing, saving money for months and travel, you were finally inside. Not just present, but inside an Assembly moment of cocoon fellowship. “Bubble” would have been the wrong word. A bubble brings some momentary joy, but is mostly puffed up about itself. The least little disturbance and it explodes.

A COCOON is all about the contents. It protects what is nestled inside a warm and welcoming atmosphere. When the COG is on target with its people and its Assembly, missionaries, evangelists, pastors, teachers and members bask in that “Cocoon” feeling. When it is not, they feel stuck in a bubble. Even the people in the Cafeteria can sense if there is bubble-trouble.

At the Assembly, you are with people with purpose. They love the Lord. He is the primary focus of their life. You are among the chosen. Christ has chosen each one for His purposes. Along with the others, you have chosen to follow Jesus. Every person there has individually decided the Church of God is their church of choice..

Yes, in all organizations; government, religious, government or secular, there is that whole thing about “Proximity to Power.” The closer one can get to where the powerful are, the better they feel about their own status.

In Washington, D.C., the centers of power are the White House and Capitol building. The closer a building is to that center of influence, the more the building owners charge per square foot for office space. A mile away, once can get a rate of maybe $35 per square foot. Two blocks away from the Capitol building, it may cost $110 or more per SF.

“Our office is just down the street from the White House,” projects the idea that one is important. They have paid millions of dollars to give that impression.

In the COG, the nearer one can stay to the “Headquarters Hotel,” the more expensive the rooms become. If one can actually find a room at the Headquarters Hotel, bring a fat wallet or a well-endowed credit card.

Chill. That is not an attack on the COG. It’s just human nature to want to be near the supposed center of power and action. It is exactly the same in the AG, COGOP, PCOG or any other abbreviated religious group.

REGARDLESS YOUR STATUS or travel apparatus, for many decades, the Church of God General Assembly was the capstone or high-point every two years. There was the feeling that you were part of something momentous; part of a movement with purpose. You were on the inside of something special.

In order to be seated in the Ordained Minister’s Council, you were on the inside of the “Inside.” From that Body, the pre-determined Agenda was discussed. It was that Body, constituted of ordained ministers in attendance at the Assembly, that set forth the nomination for leadership for the coming two years.

As Robert White looked out over the vast group of his fellow ministers at the Assembly, he knew the sacrifice in time, effort and money each one had gone through just to be present in that meeting.

He was well aware that every person in that meeting had started at exactly the same place, as an Exhorter. Each one had taken the same entrance exam.. Each one had served faithfully for eight years in order to earn the right to apply for, and pass the Ordination Exam.

In the leadership nomination process, members of that Body could choose from among all ordained ministers in the entire Church of God International To be nominated by that Body for any leadership position, is viewed as a signal honor.

Though honored to his core to be nominated, what they nominated him for totally surprised him. THE STORY of what happened as a result, has never been published before. It is one of the AMAZING untold miracles from the COG.

The largest room in the world is the room for improvement.

Last edited by doyle on 2/19/21 10:45 pm; edited 11 times in total
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12/8/20 6:56 pm

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Post Thank you, Doyle! Aaron Scott
I don't know of any other denomination that, upon meeting strangers from the same denomination, feel such instant kinship. If a Baptist happens to be traveling through a state then stops at a restaurant and find that another diner is a Baptist, well, it don't mean much (after all, both are hopelessly lost).

But if the same things happens between to Church of God folks, BOOM! Instant rapport. At least that has been the case for me many times over the years. I used to go up to people's table and flat-out ask them if they were Church of God (this was back before we dressed like Baptists). I always enjoyed talking to fellow Church of God folks--the ONLY FOLKS I can be pretty sure are actually saved.

I don't recall going but to one General Assembly--Dallas, back in the 60s, I suppose. It might have been a function of finances, but it also might be that having attended at such a young age, I might have felt left out or bored, and so didn't have a hankerin' to go to others.

Further, if the General Assembly were held in the Autumn or Spring (or even the Winter), I'd be much more inclined to go. it's just TOO HOT--especially in Florida!--to attend in the summer. I don't even go to Disney World in the summer--and I live in Florida. If everything was self-contained--all the rooms, auditoriums, and restaurants were in air-conditioned comfort in the same building, yeah, I'd be interested. But I recall those Youth Camp years of leaving the swimming pool and walking the nearly half-a-mile back to the Boy's Dormitory in blazing heat...and needing to now take another shower! So, yeah, not into getting dressed for church then sweating through it before I even get inside the building.

But Doyle, speaking of the sacrifices people made to go the GA, I have heard my dad tell about traveling from Cleveland (our hometown--nothing to do with moving closer to the New Jerusalem) to the Memphis General Assembly (also in the 60s) and sleeping in the trunk of his car. Of course, he was raised so poor that that might not having meant what it would have meant to others.
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12/9/20 11:50 am

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Post Cojak
I listened at attention when my dad would tell the stories of 5 preachers in the same hotel room with one bed. Sleeping on the couch in chairs and on the floor..

Dad did not get a hotel room for family until a Memphis Assembly late 40s early 50s. He took me and mom. we stayed in the Adler Annex, NO A/C and had only an ancient oscillating fan. IT WAS HOT!

I enjoyed it with a chance to run with other pastors sons during the day, we had a lot in common. LOL

Anyway thanks Doyle, lots of memories kick in. Smile
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12/11/20 8:25 pm

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Our first GA was in Atlanta probably 1986. I remember Atlanta had a Gay convention going on in a nearby building as our Assembly. That was disgusting. My husband wasn't on the 3 rd rank so he didn't get to vote. This was very interesting to us.
A couple of Assemblies later, he was qualified to vote. I took a book to read as I figured it would be very boring. Was I ever wrong!!! I could not believe that grown men and ministers would argue over one word. Needless to say, I don't even think I started my book. It is still interesting to me to be able to go and hear all the "fussing". I remember when it got real interesting at one
Assembly and Bro. Paul Walker started singing, Talking with the Lord. I had never heard the song before. I heard numerous people whistling and humming it later. He had a way to bring the people together.
We have attended several since exhorter days and love them dearly. I was sorta glad this years was cancelled as we would not have been physically able to attend. Been saving for the next one in San Anti. My husband's favorite is the Mission Night. He usually cries most of the service - oh the sacrifice that most of them make to preach the gospel.
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12/12/20 10:39 am

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