Tuesday, October 20, 2015

UCG Feast Attendance Declines As COGWA's Rises



The United Church of God is not in their happy place right now with news out that the Church of God a Worldwide Association had more members attend the Feast this year than UCG.  Several years ago when COGWA split off of UCG they took a substantial number of ministers and members with them.  UCG tried to shrug it off because they had visions of grandeur running through their heads.  They assumed than since all the dead weight was gone their god was going to start doing great things in the UCG.  Sadly though, UCG has been in a state of decline ever since.  Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on personal appearance campaigns, bankrolling moronic blue sock puppet videos, and shoving their doctrinal beliefs into the neither regions of their web site has not helped them.

UCG had a feast attendance of 7,275 in the US.  Foreign sites are still to report in.  COGWA had 9,300 in attendance, a 2% increase in attendees.   Living Church of God had 10,400 attendees.  The only two COG's out there that had less people than UCG was Dave Pack's Restored Church of God and Gerald Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God.

UCG seems to be The Little Engine That Couldn't.

34 comments:

Connie Schmidt said...

UCG's reported FOT attendance for 2015 was about the same as last years, being just 22 people shy of last years reported United States attendance. The 7700 or so reported on this blog reflect USA numbers only.

In 2014, the final total, when international numbers were reported, ended at 13,500. 2015 numbers will be aproximately the same as last years total UCG FOT attendance, 13,500.

Anonymous said...

But, can you trust any of these numbers?
Should you deduct a tithe or two from the announced numbers to arrive at more realistic attendance figures?

Anonymous said...

And yet, I thought I saw somewhere that UCG at it's most recent board meeting said it's income was back up to 2010 pre-split levels (probably not adjusted for inflation) because they've gone after the old "co-workers" as a supplemental source of income.

Even so, if UCG attendance has been declining after 2010, I think we should be wondering if UCG's evangelical efforts and feints toward a Joe-Jr.-style mainstreaming are disgusting their existing Armstrongist followers faster than they are attracting new mainstream christians into their fold. And that's saying something because they've been very subtle about it since the whole sabbathgate flap involving the daycare center owned by Mario Seiglie's wife's family back in 2010, when it became apparent that messing with the Armstrongist's sabbath was institutional suicide.

However, their claims that they aren't doing a Joe-Jr.-style mainstreaming should not necessarily be taken at face value for several reasons:

1) Tkach & Co. lied like rugs about their intentions to mainstream WCG until Christmas Eve 1994 when Joe Sr. let the cat out of the bag and basically admitted they'd been lying about their agenda for years. So this kind of baldfaced lying about the agenda is part of the agenda.

2) UCG is making mainstreaming changes such as the embracing of evangelical testimonials.

3) An intense focus on "growth" using image consultants and PR campaigns such as the KOG Seminars and Public Appearance Campaigns will only bring in people expecting UCG to be a regular evangelical church with regular mainstream doctrines, NOT Armstrongist heresy. UCG does not have the resources, hierarchy, or charismatic leadership necessary to convince people that some almighty god is working with UCG like HWA used to claim back in the heyday. So UCG must conform to the people they're trying to attract.

Maybe UCG could switch to an all co-worker business model, scrap most of it's congregations, lay off most of its ministry, and send those troublesome old school Armstrongists packing who insist that their leadership at least appear to be scrupulous about things like sabbath observance and adultery. Most of the rest of the commandments of their god appear to be negotiable anyway, especially the one about lying like a rug!

NO2HWA said...

These numbers are based upon bodies occupying a space, not baptized members. These numbers also include members from other churches that are visiting the various sites for one or more days. Many people now Feast site hop if there are several in the same city.

Questeruk said...

It's a case of 'oranges' and 'apples' in your reporting.

COGWA (9300) and Living (10,400) are world total figures, (both 100 or so up on their last year figures), and you are comparing that with the UCG figure for just USA alone.

I agree that Connie's estimate is probably about right, UCG world total figure would be around 13,500, similar to last year.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to UCG for posting their attendance per each Feast site.

The other COGs who only give a total COG number, rather than a number for each site, do it that way so they can inflate their total without being caught by their members.

They do the same trick with their local congregations.

COGs are so adolescent, if they had anything big to brag about, we'd hear all the dirty specifics.

History says their all hiding something.

Anonymous said...


“Several years ago when COGWA split off of UCG they took a substantial number of ministers and members with them. UCG tried to shrug it off because they had visions of grandeur running through their heads. They assumed than since all the dead weight was gone their god was going to start doing great things in the UCG. Sadly though, UCG has been in a state of decline ever since.”


The story I heard in the past was that the more conservative types went with COGWA while the more liberal Tkach men stayed in the UCG. The plain truth is that the dead weight stayed in the UCG, and the good news is that the UCG's god the devil is going to use it to try to sink that leaky deathboat and rid the earth of those paycheck collectors.

The Tkach people back in the WCG thought that they could do great things with the WCG and grow it greatly if they could just get rid of HWA's teachings, kick out those who followed HWA, and let in all sorts of ignorant, godless, phoney, professing “christians.” Now, some of these very same Tkach people are running the UCG and trying to do the exact same thing again. It is not working out for them this time either.

When the WCG collapsed after the Great Tkach Apostasy of January 1995, the hit to the wallets of the unbelieving Tkach hirelings in it forced many of them to go over to the UCG sooner or later to collect a paycheck. Since its beginning in 1995 several months after the January 1995 apostasy, the UCG has had a history of splitting and splintering and declining. Because of the bad behavior of the people in the UCG, there has always been speculation that the UCG will have to go into a coming “Great Tribulation”--unless it will have already totally disappeared back into the world before that time arrives.

Why do things happen? Well, they happen for a reason. Rather than going into all the gory details--and they are gory--let it suffice to say that if you know the sort of people that the UCG has filled up with, and how badly they behave, you will know WHY the UCG is never going to work out well.

To save typing, I'll be blunt. People who want to sin in the world can do so in the world. Those who want to play at religion while sinning can do so in the world's churches. The UCG will never grow because there is simply no need for anyone in the world to put up with the semi-retarded, demon-influenced morons and real weirdos who hang out at relatively tiny and declining nut houses like the UCG. The devil already has enough of his agents in the UCG that he does not need to send any more there and make it any larger. The freaks and weirdos who like to hang out at the UCG, even though they don't believe anything or obey anything, and are neither sociable nor even civil, cannot be dealt with since their type goes out only by prayer and fasting, and the UCG ministers do not do that since they have their own serious spiritual problems.



Anonymous said...

I can't stop laughing at these pictures. They describe the current state of the UCG so accurately. Well done.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

NO2HWA said, "These numbers are based upon bodies occupying a space, not baptized members. These numbers also include members from other churches that are visiting the various sites for one or more days. Many people now Feast site hop if there are several in the same city".

MY COMMENT - Then the Feast attendance numbers cannot be used as gauges of the numeric size of the splinters and therefore the remaining remnant of the Armstrong movement since you are saying they double count and perhaps triple count many people. I am using these attendance numbers as proxies for the relative size of the Splinters compared to the mother Worldwide Church of God pre-splintered pre-doctrinal change which peaked at 150,000 people.

Richard

Anonymous said...

The only way that the UCG can survive is if they become a mainstream Christian church. The doctrines they preach now certainly are not mainstream. I think that the UCG leadership knows this and that many Tkatch style changes are ahead. Brace yourselves hangers-on members of the UCG prepare to cancel future feast plans and attending Sunday morning services!!

Miller Jones said...

Both current and former members of the Armstrong Church of God culture seem to be oblivious to what the Bible actually says about festival observance. In fact, no one (including the Jews) is currently observing these festivals in the manner prescribed by the Pentateuch.
It is made VERY CLEAR that there was only ONE legitimate feast site: Jerusalem. According to Scripture, that is the ONLY PLACE which God has chosen to place his name. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ always kept the festivals at Jerusalem. The prophesied future observance of the Feast of Tabernacles is centered on Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the law of the central sanctuary is completely ignored by the Armstrong COG culture. In short, after the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, it became impossible for ANYONE to observe the festivals in the manner prescribed by Scripture!
Moreover, this idea of one pilgrimage festival (Feast of Tabernacles) is also a TRADITION of Armstrongism. Scripture tells us that there were THREE times each year when people were commanded to assemble at Jerusalem. And, if we profess to believe biblical historical accounts, it is clear that the Israelites themselves rarely observed the festivals in the manner prescribed by God (note what an extraordinary event it was when kings Hezekiah and Josiah actually observed the festivals in the proper manner).
One more thing, the Israelites had to actually construct temporary shelters and live in them during the time prescribed to properly observe the Feast of Tabernacles (reread the instructions in Leviticus). Can anyone explain to me how a hotel/motel/camper actually fulfills those instructions? Yes, I can see that folks are staying in those things temporarily, but how can we say with a straight face that a hotel is a temporary structure (especially in light of the fact that people often stay in the same place year after year, and how many of the people staying there can actually claim to have had a hand in constructing the edifice which they are staying in for eight days?).
I guess the real question is: Has anyone truly observed these festivals in the past eighty years?

Anonymous said...

"Those who want to play at religion while sinning can do so in the world's churches."

Anonymous 6:31, in the spirit of lively exchange, I'll be blunt, too. You're a condescending blowhard. What an arrogant, dismissive thing to say. By far, the most sincere, exemplary people I've known in my lifetime were people in those "world's churches" you look down upon.

And take your "apostasy" babble and stick it back in your Armstrong lexicon. We're on to your nonsense.

Alan said...

"It is made VERY CLEAR that there was only ONE legitimate feast site: Jerusalem. According to Scripture, that is the ONLY PLACE which God has chosen to place his name."

God placed His name wherever the tabernacle (later, the temple) was set up. Ultimately, it was in Jerusalem. But there is no temple there today, so the Jews who live there or who can afford to travel there every year for the pilgrimage festivals are still unable to keep the sacrificial aspects of the feasts. So the question is not whether or not Jerusalem was the place God chose to place His name. Rather, it's this: What were Jews driven into other lands to do come feast time? Just forget about the pilgrimage festivals altogether, or celebrate them in the lands in which they lived? And what about the current situation? Are Jews who celebrate the festivals in Jerusalem not really keeping them? Does Scripture indicate that, under such conditions, they should just forget about the feast days? These are the questions that should first be addressed before jumping into arguments about whether or not CoG groups are really "keeping" the feasts.

Alan said...

"One more thing, the Israelites had to actually construct temporary shelters and live in them during the time prescribed to properly observe the Feast of Tabernacles (reread the instructions in Leviticus)."

So do the instructions regarding dwelling in "huts" mean that Israelites who were unable to go to Jerusalem still had to dwell in huts during the festival? The Law of Moses doesn't say, so someone had to make a judgment call. The instructions on the pilgrimage festivals pertain primarily to the ideal situation of Israelites coming to Jerusalem with their sacrifices and offerings, etc. Very little is said about what those who couldn't make it were to do or whether there was a way they could "properly observe the Feast of Tabernacles" even though circumstances prevented them from going to Jerusalem and following all the "instructions in Leviticus." In my judgment, they were still expected to keep the high days, remove leavening from their homes for the FoUB, and fast on Atonement. I'm not sure that anyone thought it necessary to build huts in their backyards and live in them for the seven days of the FoT. Again, where the Law was silent, someone had to make a judgment call.

Vance said...

"I guess the real question is: Has anyone truly observed these festivals in the past eighty years?"

If "truly observed these festivals" means "followed all the instructions of the Law of Moses," the answer is obviously no. It is quite impossible to follow all those instructions, and no one has been able to do that for many centuries. Christians who celebrate the festivals do so with emphasis on the festivals' rich Christological significance. I think the more important question (and this is ONLY for people who believe in God and, at least in some sense, the inspiration of Scripture) is this: Does our celebrating the redemptive work of Christ through observance of the biblical festivals please God? For Christians, that's the beginning point for the discussion.

Byker Bob said...

People can delude themselves as we all certainly did, but the Armstrong brand was in no way what Herbert Armstrong advertized it as being. Also, the brand died with HWA. There is no direct heir or continuation of old school WCG! Or a faith once delivered. What we see is an exercise in nostalgia for one man's faulty and misguided interpretation of the Bible, and a misunderstanding of heritage and genetics, misapplied to prophecy.

HWA was a brother in spirit to Harold Camping.

BB

Anonymous said...

I've attended UCG, LCG and COGWA. It seems to me that LCG is in the right ditch(too legalistic), UCG is in the left ditch (to liberal) and COGWA, while far from perfect, makes a fair attempt to walk the line.

I predict that COGWA will see the most growth in the coming months as people get sick of the lack of love and harsh gestapo brutality over in LCG while at the same time old timers in UCG get sick of the watering down of fundamental beliefs.

I'm betting even more LCG members will flee to COGWA when the inevitable LCG split occurs after Meredith's impending death.

COGWA is still on good behavior and trying to behave righteously since it is relatively new.

I'm not too excited though because even Meredith was on good behavior in the beginning.

It seems that all the splinters are nicey nicey at the start but then power, greed and corruption grow and it all goes into the crapper.

Anonymous said...

I married into Armstongism and sometimes attend with LCG. The people in the "world's churches" anon 6:31 are 1000 times more kind, sincere and have a far better understanding of the spirit of the law than anyone I have ever met in an ACOG.

I have seen how people treat one another in ACOG's and I would venture to guess that any random "worldly" person off the street would most likely treat their fellow man with more decency.

What is the point of all the ACOG law keeping when they completely miss the point on the spirit of the law?

Floyd 1944 said...

Vance
Does celebrating the festivals please God?
What would please God would be showing love to another person not judging not feeling like condemning those not in a cog church. Following the example Jesus set Is what would please God

Floyd 1944 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Vance, like so many in the Armstrong tradition, you strive to somehow see the "Christological significance" in the festivals.

Instead, why not allow yourself to see the festivals in Jesus, and his redemptive work? It's really not as complicated as Herbert Armstrong made it out to be. Makes all the difference, if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Its all about money. The board of directors of the UCG will make decisions based on what course of action they need to take to ensure the future survival and growth of the UCG. Just like any corporate board of directors decisions are made with the bottom line the most important consideration. It can be summed-up in three words--MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!!

Miller Jones said...

Alan, God's presence was with the Tabernacle and at Shiloh (because of the Ark of the Covenant), but there was only one place where God chose to place His name. "There shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord: And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God..." (Deuteronomy 12:11-12, and make sure you read verses 1-10 of that chapter). The Israelites were told NOT to worship God wherever they pleased. Notice also Deut. 14:23-24; 16:2,6; 26:2. Moreover, after Solomon prayed to the Lord when he dedicated the Temple, we read: "And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, TO PUT MY NAME THERE FOREVER; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually." I Kings 9:3

Miller Jones said...

Vance, Thank you for acknowledging that it is impossible to currently keep the festivals in the manner prescribed by Scripture. This clearly puts the Armstrong COG's observance of these festivals in their proper perspective relative to strict obedience to God and Scripture - that was and is clearly a pretense. If someone is truly celebrating Christ's redemptive work and following the spirit of his teachings, I'm quite sure that God would be pleased with that. Nevertheless, to say that Christians are obligated to celebrate these festivals is absurd if we are willing to acknowledge that they simply cannot currently be kept in the prescribed manner. The Armstrong Churches of God reject the "I'm doing my best the way I see it" argument from Catholics and Protestants. And, if we're going to say "wherever two or three are gathered together," why can't Catholics and Protestants use that argument for Sunday observance?

Miller Jones said...

I think Floyd and Anonymous hit the nail on the head. "Bring no more vain oblations (offerings); incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." Isaiah 1:13-17

Anonymous said...

I recently learned that the Messianic Jews actually build tabernacles (in the parking lot of their building) but they don't travel anywhere to keep the Feast. Perhaps they are the flip side of the COG coin. They build the tabernacle but acknowledge that they can't get to the only place God has ever truly placed His name, Jerusalem, while the ACOGs don't make tabernacles and travel to wherever each splinter leader proclaims that God has placed His name.

Only I have difficulty believing that God is "placing His name" in places like PCB and Myrtle Beach (to name a few). It is clearly just men figuring out how far members will have to travel and which facilities they can afford and then labeling it as God's will.

Otherwise we are all to believe that the Almighty is inspiring NCIS Jim to set up Feast sites where He has placed His name. Not likely. I rather doubt Jim is inspired by much but his own will and the will of his friends and family.

Connie Schmidt said...

When will there ever be a FOT site in Vegas?

Byker Bob said...

I doubt that teams of ACOG ministers go over the sites, praying for purification, and annointing strategic areas, as do mainstream Christians when preparing a venue for a large event. So far as site selection goes, they probably simply review the convention facilities and hotel accommodations available in the various cities. Obviously they have no Urim and Thummin, and I doubt that they would even cast lots!

BB

Anonymous said...

It is so funny LCG has 10,000...what a lie. When Rod McNair took over the feast sites. He has been inflating the numbers ever since.
The total used to be about 7000. But Dr. Meredith announced one year "we would grow to have 9,000 at the feast. And low and behold Rod McNair waived his magic wand and there were 9,000 at the feast that year.
The next year Dr. Meredith got up there and announced "there would be 10,000 at the feast that year. And low and behold Rod McNair waived his magic wand again and there were 10,000 at the feast that year.
But if you go to the World Ahead magazine and count up the totals there...they do not match. LOLO need to lie in every place to get the sheep to believe you dummies.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

“The total used to be about 7000. But Dr. Meredith announced one year 'we would grow to have 9,000 at the feast.' And low and behold Rod McNair waived his magic wand and there were 9,000 at the feast that year.”
“The next year Dr. Meredith got up there and announced 'there would be 10,000 at the feast that year.' And low and behold Rod McNair waived his magic wand again and there were 10,000 at the feast that year.”



That's nothing! The COG7D snorted some magic pixie dust and lo and behold there were suddenly (claimed to be) 300,000 to 400,000 supposedly similarly minded people in supposedly somehow related groups somewhere all around the world. Too bad that the magic pixie dust snorting does not work the same way for the COG7D in the USA where they cannot seem to get beyond about 5,000 people.

Anonymous said...



From Worldwide Church of God (WCG) to Grace Communion International (GCI)

From the GCI's website:

Our Story

“We are an international Christian fellowship with about 50,000 members formed into 900 churches spread across 100 countries.”

Our History

“In the early 1930s, Herbert Armstrong began a ministry that eventually became our denomination. He had many unusual doctrines. These he taught so enthusiastically that eventually more than 100,000 people attended weekly services. After he died in 1986, church leaders began to realize that many of his doctrines were not biblical. These doctrines were rejected, and the church is now in full agreement with the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals. To reflect these doctrinal changes, in April 2009, the denomination changed its name to Grace Communion International.”

----------------------------------

These GCI fibbers try to make it sound like they lost only about half the members of the WCG.

Anonymous said...

“We are an international Christian fellowship with about 50,000 members formed into 900 churches spread across 100 countries.”

They issued a report some years ago that they had 30,000 members in Angola.

That leaves 20,000 members spread across 99 other countries.

Anonymous said...

6:40 and 5:31 act like Banned is made up of a bunch of GCI supporters. Wake up, dimwits.

Anonymous said...

I know first hand that LCG lies about their feast attendance numbers. The different feast sites send "festival greetings" to one another which are read during the announcement portions of daily services. The numbers never add up. I have noticed it for years.

It seems to have gotten worse when Rod McNair got to Charlotte.

It is driven 100% by pride and ego.

Many of the brethren believe the lies but then they are typically the people who believe everything HQ's says. Some, like myself and my friends laugh about how inflated their numbers are every year.