My favorite quote is, “The journey is the destination.”
I do not know who wrote it, I seen it on a tee shirt in the Whitewater Lodge on the Ocoee River. But it has become the quote that best describes my life.
For the sake of this blog about my journey being so long, it will be written in a series so it will be easier to read.
Is there such thing as a normal life – what constitutes normal?
I was born to Phillip & Brenda Hayes in December 1965. I was seven weeks premature weighting in at 3lbs 5oz.
My parents went to a church that my great grandmother had been going to. It was what I call a non-traditional Christian church. Our denomination was a split off of the Church of God Seventh Day, which was a split from the Seventh Day Adventist.
The church I grew up in was the Worldwide Church of God founded by Herbert W. Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong as a young person was reared as a Quaker. Sometime after marriage his wife had an encounter with a person who challenged her to the doctrine of the Sabbath day, she was asked to prove if Sunday was ever mentioned in the bible. She brought the challenge to her husband and they searched and could not find any. This eventually led them to the Church of God Seventh Day in Eugene, OR where in time Mr. Armstrong became a minister in the church.
After some time as a minister, Mr. Armstrong continued his path of studies and began to see that not only the seventh day Sabbath was an eternal commandment, he found Leviticus 23 where the Sabbath was listed among other days that were to be kept. He approached the leadership of the church. He was told that they did not agree at that time with his assessment but he was free to go and preach what he felt was right for him. Thus, Mr. Armstrong left the Church of God Seventh Day and went on the radio to preach his new found truth that the rest of Christianity had left behind.
His following began to grow and in the 1930s he formed the Radio Church of God that eventually over time became the Worldwide Church of God. Their basic doctrines were:
- The observance of the seventh day Sabbath.
- The observance of the other Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23, this included a total fast on the Day of Atonement, The observance of the seven day Feast of Tabernacles.
- The abstaining from unclean meats – pork, shell fish etc.
- The abstaining from pagan based Christian holidays of Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, birthdays.
- Our hymn book was made up of the Psalms set to music
- You are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God thus your actions in public places like restaurants, hotels, on the job, etc reflect God.
Everything above was kept in a Christian way, we knew nothing about the Jewish observances of these practices, all we knew was that Jesus was a Jew and would not have been an observer of modern day Christianity. This was in no way anything Messianic because Mr. Armstrong came to believe in these practices in the 1930s through his own personal bible study.
I was born and raised in this church. I met my wife there and up until 1995 we were strong long time members of the denomination. The early 1990s was a rough time for the church. It began with the death of Mr. Armstrong in 1986. He was called an Apostle of the church. He appointed a new leader before his death but this new leader would die in a few years leaving it to his son who with the help of traditional Christian leaders destroyed the work of Mr. Armstrong. Many splinter groups formed after the fall of the WWCG. Several have large following trying to continue the work of Mr. Armstrong.
For my wife and I in which we attended a congregation in southeast Tennessee it came to an end in 1995. Our local congregation was shattered after the rulings came down from Headquarters that the church was turning toward traditional Christianity.
We began to consider the pointless drive to the next city to go to church if they were going to change over to traditional Christian ways. My wife and I began to listen to preachers on the tv and began a search for something that might fill the void that had been left from the breakup of everything we knew.
Other than just sitting and listening, I began my own personal studies of the bible; through several events this would lead us to one of the largest Christian churches in our city and the mother congregation of the Church of God, Cleveland, TN
The next part will contain the part of the journey that birthed in me to become a seeker for God; I became what was called a God Chaser.