National Association of Evangelicals Press Release, May 7, 1997
Transformed Church Finds Acceptance and Fellowship in Evangelical Community
NAE Accepts Worldwide Church of God
WHEATON, IL The Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has voted overwhelmingly to accept the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), headquartered in California, into membership. The application process included examination of doctrinal changes which have taken place in the once-controversial denomination.
“NAE is founded on the premise that the Bible is the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God. I respect Joseph Tkach and the leadership of the Worldwide Church of God who did not rest in the refuge of their historically held doctrines, but sought the Truth through careful study of the scriptures even at significant cost to the denomination,” said NAE President Don Argue. “And we thank God for his faithfulness to them. We appreciate the gracious and open manner in which this church’s leaders answered questions about the struggles that led them to a biblically-based theology.”
WCG members once followed the teachings of church founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, who rejected the Trinity as a pagan doctrine, while also insisting that tithing and observance of the Old Testament Sabbath were necessary for salvation, among numerous other old covenant practices. After Armstrong’s death in 1986, denominational leaders began to study and reflect on the validity of the church’s teachings. In light of the Word of God in the Bible, they not could find support for many of the denomination’s most controversial doctrines.
These dramatic changes, however, have cost WCG more than half its membership that once topped almost 90,000 people attending in the United States. The denomination has about 36,000 members worldwide [2007 statistics]. Over one third of its 900 churches are located in the U.S. There are almost 1000 ordained WCG elders worldwide; almost 600 in the United States.
“The greater Christian community is just beginning to realize what God has done with the Worldwide Church of God; and understandably many still tend to view it with extreme skepticism,” WCG leader Joseph Tkach told the Board of Directors of the association in March. “We have experienced what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:15-18, ‘…whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away… And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.'”
“For years, people have been praying for their friends and relatives who have been a part of the Worldwide Church of God, asking that they would be able to see the truth of God’s word,” said Don Argue in announcing their acceptance into membership. “We see the dramatic changes that have occurred among our friends as God’s continuing efforts to bring renewal and revival for His glory.”
The Worldwide Church of God joins 48 other denominational members in the fellowship of the National Association of Evangelicals, including Reformed, Pentecostal, Free Church, Holiness, and various other traditions. “In essentials unity, in distinctives liberty, in all things charity” is the motif of the association which serves as a forum, a voice, and a resource for the evangelical community.