X. The Division of 1933 - Stanberry and Salem
According to Church of God historian A.N. Dugger, this is how the division occurred: Church of God members across the United States were simultaneously inspired to become impressed with the "improper and unscriptural organization of the church." They wrote one another of the "evils manifest in state and general elections of presidents, vice presidents, and suggesting the need of the restoration of the Scriptural organization of the twelve to look after the spiritual affairs of the church, and seven to take charge of the financial business, and also the seventy to go forth two by two in giving the warning message for the hour."
Dugger's cousin, Elder Otto Haeber of California, wrote A.N. Dugger in Battle Creek, laying out before him the need of the "Bible Organization," as had been suggested by other living in California. Coincidentally, before Dugger received Haeber's letter, he had written Haeber telling him of a movement in favor of this form of organization, and that it would be brought up the next fall at the General Conference at Stanberry.
Furthermore, unknown to the church in general, Elders R.A. Barnes of Arkansas and Ed Severson of Oklahoma had for some time been talking over the matter between themselves. A few months after Dugger returned from Palestine (early 1933), Theodore Gillespie, an old time member of the St. Joseph, Missouri church, suggested the matter to Dugger, who replied that the church at Jerusalem felt this way, and that others were seriously considering the matter.
These members felt that Revelation 19:7-8 tells the church to "make herself ready," by conforming to "Scriptural organization," instead of patterning her government after the civil organizations of this world, and furthermore, the church should make herself ready by moving world headquarters to the place Jesus had chosen - Jerusalem.1
November 4, 1933 - Salem, West Virginia
The time and place chosen to perform this work of "reorganization" was Salem, West Virginia, November 4, 1933.
For several weeks prior to November 4, a call was sent to many countries for prayer "That God would again choose men to lead His church as in the former time." Countries listed were: Jerusalem, South Africa, Australia, Egypt, England, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, China, India, New Zealand, Panama, Japan, Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad, Guam, Canada, Liberia, Nova Scotia, Barbados, Venezuela, Syria, Madagascar, Burma, Newfoundland, and Mexico.
The call was also sent to about 10,000 people in America.
The incoming ministers and members arrived at Salem Church of God, some of them having traveled 1,000 miles. Friday night the 4th was spent in prayer and fasting in a general church meeting. Services opened on Friday afternoon with "Oh, To Be More Like Jesus," "The Church of God," and "Humble Thyself to Walk With God."
Preparation For Lottery
Early Sabbath morning, letters from ministers all over the world were gone over, and 140 names were presented and placed in a box, to be drawn by lot for the new leaders of the church. This was supposed to be a continuation of the Bible practice of drawing by lots, as in the choice of Matthias to replace Judas as apostle.
Dugger later described the selection of names in the following account: "In the fall a general meeting was called of many ministers and leaders of the church to consider a reorganization of the body patterning it more in accordance with the Bible organization . . . . Ministers and local elders of congregations in many parts of the world were invited to attend or submit names of ministers favoring the reorganization policy, and consequently there were 145 names submitted together with the company assembled. These names were used in choosing officers, respectively, for the different offices according to the Scriptural organization.2
The Salem church chose three men whose names were placed on slips of paper and dropped into the box. Elder Dodd drew the slip containing John Adams of Salem, the one chosen to draw out the minister's names for the 12 and 70.
Church of God ministers' names were placed in the box, a brief silent prayer given, and the drawing began by Adams at a few minutes past 11:00 a.m.
The twelve spiritual leaders chosen, corresponding to the twelve apostles, were the following Church of God elders:
J.M. Orn-Naerem of Norway, C.E. Groshans of Indiana, F.C. Robinson of Missouri, Henry Wood of Massachusetts, R.A. Barnes of Arkansas, Raymond Saenz of Mexico, R.L. Taylor of Oregon, H. Negby of Palestine, C. Heywood of Michigan, John Kiesz of Missouri, W.W. McMicken of West Virginia, and Charles L. Royer of Connecticut.
The seventy to go forth two by two, all Church of God elders, were these:
John Anderson, Missouri
D. Davis, Michigan
H. Tavel, Central America
Adolph Gusman, Mexico
William Bodine, Arkansas
Otto Haeber, California
E.H. Shadel, Arkansas
Robert Nance, Arkansas
L.M. Jackson, Alabama
William Berry, South America
W.A. Summers, Oklahoma
John Brenneise, South Dakota
V. Amos, India
Samuel Brown, London, England
Will Barnes, Arkansas
Andrew J. Williams, Texas
J.E. Benson, Panama
J.D. Bagwell, Alabama
N.P. Daniel, India
E.O. Brandberry, Arkansas
G. Flores, Mexico (?)
L.F. Claspell, Indiana
Kenneth Freeman, West Virginia
V.J. Benjamin, India
B. Israel, South India
Pete Bartschi, Arkansas
S.A. Oberg, Oregon
H. Snyder, Washington
J.A. Ijames, Jr., North Carolina
A.H. Stith, Idaho
T.V. Taylor, Louisiana
D.B. Garcia, Mexico
E. Campos, Mexico
E.P. Roche, Michigan
J.E. Codrington, Pennsylvania
Noah Barnabas, Palestine
C. Sobers, New York City
A.C. Turner, Michigan
E. Echiavaria, Texas
Herbert Armstrong, Oregon
A. Steede, Michigan
J.W. Tarver, Louisiana
J.A. Ijames, North Carolina
J.E. Hamilton, Central America
Allen Castor, British West Indies
J.G. Smith, California
L.W. Runyon, Oklahoma
C.O. Vallery, Louisiana
J.M. Rodriguez, Texas
J. Servantes, Mexico
W.W. West, California
E.J. Younce, Illinois
V.J. Joseph, India
C.O. Dodd, West Virginia
J. Siler, Michigan
Archie Craig, Oklahoma
Roy Kanady, Arkansas
B. Bernsten, China
G. Thompson, Panama Canal
James Relford, Kansas
Charles J. Ellis, British West Indies
Charles Welch, Oklahoma
E.H. Jenkins, Arkansas
Ed Severson, Oklahoma
W.C. Bryce, Texas
Albert Bodine, Arkansas
Arthur Barnes, Arkansas
Hugh Brown, London, England
Will Briley, Arkansas
F.G. Zoller, Nebraska
Dugger indicates that Adams chose ministers slips for the twelve and the seventy, but notes that after this was done, "the assembly proceeded as in Acts 6:1 and 6 in choosing the seven men to place over the business affairs of the church." The account in Acts 6 shows that the brethren chose seven men, not necessarily ministers, and there is no mention of use of lots. Thus possibly the seven were voted on, and not chosen by lot.
The seven chosen were:
A.N. Dugger, Missouri; C.O. Dodd, West Virginia; John Brenneise, South Dakota; Hugh Miller, Nebraska; F.L. Summers, West Virginia; John Adams, West Virginia; R.E. Winsett, Tennessee.
During the prayer service that followed, those present among the Twelve laid hands on the Seven. "A prayer then followed for the offices chosen who were not present, that God would lead them and fully set them apart for the life duties thus involved."
By this time it was late in the afternoon and the brethren still had not eaten.
World Headquarters Chosen at Jerusalem
Following this selection the brethren voted unanimously for the world headquarters of the Church of God to be in Jerusalem, and money was secured for the purchase of a headquarters building there.
United States Salem, West Virginia
Mexico Mexico City, D.F.
Europe Rosenburg, Egersund, Norway
India Jonnalapalem, Penumentra, W. Godavaria, South India
A.N. Dugger thus closed his account of the establishment of the Salem branch of the Church of God (Seventh Day).
What Dugger Left Out
The full story of the "Reorganization," as Dugger terms the 1933 split, is not given in his History of the True Church (1936). Only pieces of the full story have been obtained.
The August, 1933 General Conference
As he stated he would, Dugger brought up the issue of reorganization at the 1933 Church of God Conference at Stanberry, which convened on August 20. Kiesz' history notes that 1933 was "the fateful year for the Church of God," as "more and more pressure had been exerted by probably half of the membership, that all should speak the same thing. On the other hand, probably the other half felt that our people were denied their personal liberties and freedom of expression."3
The church was in a crisis that split it right down the middle. On the one side, Andrew N.Dugger and others held to "reorganization" of church government, clean meats, no tobacco, and Passover on Nisan 14. On the other hand, Burt F. Marrs led a group of "independents" who were pro-pork and tobacco, and felt Passover should be on Nisan 15.
The issue of when to observe the Passover was debated for three days during the time of the division.4
Possibly the issues were not this clear-cut. The real gut issue, as stated by R.A. Barnes, was not doctrine at all, but "who's going to drive the car," that is, whose policies would govern the church.5
William Alexander, President of the General Conference, was stepping down. The center of the struggle concerned the election of the next President. Dugger and Marrs were both running, according to recollections of R.A. Barnes. The balloting resulted in a tie vote. The presiding President, Alexander, cast the deciding vote in favor of Marrs' candidate, A.S. Christenson.
The critical element was that previous to the Conference, Dugger had announced that if Marrs and his ideas won, that he would not accept the decision. Elder Barnes was President of the Arkansas Conference at the time, and he refused to attend with his delegates. He told the men: "If you love the church, you'll withdraw from the presidential race and accept any other office. If you split the church, I pronounce the curse of God upon you." Despite this stern warning, Dugger and Marrs refused to back down, and the split resulted. Dugger may have been the more adamant, because Marrs was not elected President, but Christenson.6
In the January 9, 1933 Advocate, Dugger stated that the Church of God has only one creed: The Bible. "We do not stand upon any one-man interpretation of the Word of God, or any one-man leadership, save Jesus Christ the Son of God . . . . Paul warned the Church of God nearly two thousand years ago that men would arise among us speaking perverse things 'to draw away disciples after them.' Read, and re-read, Acts 20:28-31." To make this plea, Dugger must have felt very strongly that a division was coming.
In the August 14 issue, just before the Conference began, Dugger in the "Question Corner" stated that "the congregational form of government is both unreasonable and unscriptural, and if permitted to go uncorrected in the church, the body of Christ, the body becomes paralyzed and deformed, and unable to carry forth the work God has designed."7
The August 28 issue reports the new officials. William Alexander was still Editor, but Dugger is no longer Associate Editor. He was to be replaced by Roy Dailey, who apparently moved to Stanberry from Oregon. Kiesz was still listed as office editor, but was not in the October 30 issue.
Elder C.O. Dodd had a front page article in the September 18 issue on the Sabbath, and later on "unity." In the October 9, 1933 issue, John Kiesz wrote an editorial, that the Church of God does have a creed: it is "the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Still there was no mention of the split as a result of the August Conference.
In the October 23 Advocate, William Alexander wrote an editorial in which he mentioned Dugger, but not by name: "He seems bound to sow discord by circulating false reports which cause division and strife." Dugger had been sending letters to Church of God members, saying
I am burdened over the work at Stanberry much of late . . . . For some reason God is not blessing the work there . . . . The printing establishment is in debt forty-two hundred dollars. I cannot advice (sic.) funds to be sent there and sunk in this way any longer, for God has visibly withdrawn his blessing. At this Conference they voted to open the Advocate to other doctrines besides what the church believes. This was at the strong protest of all Brethren who stand for the third Angel's message, the plagues being future, the passover being held on the 14th of Abib, and the paying of the tithe . . . .
Alexander disputed this, saying that the Advocate was not in serious financial straits.8 Yet in the November 13 issue, it was announced that because of budget cuts, Office Editor John Kiesz was leaving his post.9
October 1933: Stanberry Counteracts Dugger Circular Letter
The October 30, 1933 issue of the Field Messenger, published at Stanberry, shows that the following men were elected officers at the August Conference at Stanberry:
A.S. Christenson, Fredric, Wisconsin, President; Ennis Hawkins, Rattan, Oklahoma, Vice President; Roy Dailey, Stanberry, Missouri, Secretary-Treasurer.
Other members of the Executive Committee were:
William Alexander, Galena, Kansas; E.E. Groshans, South Bend, Indiana; Hugh Miller, Bassett, Nebraska; Christ Kiesz, Eureka, South Dakota; Frank Williams, Stanberry, Missouri.
In the February 28, 1934 Messenger, Alexander, Groshans and Kiesz are absent, showing that they had joined the Salem group. Replacements for them were S.A. Moore of Stanberry and H.N. Vander Schuur of Middleville, Michigan.
Not a single man from West Virginia or Michigan was on the list, showing that the Salem faction had totally lost out.
Notice was given in this issue that a pamphlet and circular letter was being sent out under the signatures of A.N. Dugger, C.O. Dodd, and W.W. McMicken "calling for the Restoration of the Primitive Organization of THE CHURCH OF GOD, Salem, West Virginia, U.S.A., or Jerusalem, Palestine." Christenson and Dailey gave notice that Dugger and the others had been defeated at the last Conference, and should not be supported:
after trying to dominate the conference by intimidation and otherwise, [and] are now calling for means to finance another organization . . . . These men teach in said pamphlet that our General Conference has fallen into the hands [of] dissenters who deny the Holy Spirit, sanction the use of unclean meats and tobacco, and want the Bible Advocate opened to the discussion of these topics. Furthermore, they teach that peace and harmony is no longer known in the Church of God, and the Lord's blessings have been withdrawn . . . these assertions . . . are untrue . . . . We are accused also of using tactics in getting delegates to the General Conference which are untrue. They telephoned and went after delegates after the conference was in session - still they could not control the conference. These men were disappointed, and are now trying to draw away disciples after them . . . . It is furthermore stated that each General Conference for the past nine years [since 1924] has been a place of strife, confusion, discord and debate. Brother Dugger has published good reports of the conferences in the Bible Advocate for many years past, and we feel sure that if he had been elected to the office he aspired to no criticism would be heard at this time . . . . There may be a few who will be deceived by their call, but let all earnestly pray God that these men will see the error of their way, and again join us in laboring for lost souls.10
Two Churches of God (Seventh Day)
Dugger did depart as he said he would. He succeeded in drawing nearly half of the church with him. The November 4, 1933 Salem, West Virginia, meeting followed with the establishment of Salem as U.S. headquarters for his group. On November 6, the Bible Advocate was printed at Salem, with the continuing volume number as the one still being published in Stanberry. Shortly thereafter, the number sequence was changed due to copyright laws.
From 1933 to 1949 there were two separate Church of God organizations, one at Stanberry, Missouri, and the other at Salem, West Virginia. A "united" Church of God (Seventh Day) was never to be again. W
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