I have said before and I will say it again many, many times with great joy! There is life after the Worldwide Church of God (and it’s splinters) and a life more abundantly. Two ministers who formerly served in that association are still ministers, not in splinters (though one did form a ministry that broke off from an WCG congregation but they are in no way associated with Armstrongism) but have their own ministries preaching the gospel. I have personally had the opportunity to meet both of these men during my life and times in the historic Worldwide Church of God. One of them was Mr.Earl H. Williams whom I met in at S.E.P. church camp back in the summer of 1987 in Orr, Minnesota and the second was Mr.Kim Wenzel who pastored the Hamilton/St.Catherines, Ontaro congregations back in the early to mid 1990′s. Mr. Williams is credited (or discredited depending on your point of view) for contribution to the massive upheaval in the Worldwide Church of God in the early to mid ’90′s by preaching a “grace-oriented”, so-called “New Covenant” message to his then-congregation in the Atlanta, Georgia. I remembered a friend at that time telling me Mr. Williams became “very liberal” in his preaching and his theology saying that the “Q’uran has equal weight with the Bible!” Shame on me for believing this bunk without ever critically examining it despite my friend’s “high academic calibre”—that’s besides the point! To my knowledge Mr.Williams trying to illustrate that you can find tombs and the bodies of certain founders of various religions but you cannot find the body of the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, for those of us who believe was ressurected and acended to heaven to this day. Amazing how in the historic WCG information was easily distorted to discredit anybody. This was the least of Earl Williams troubles. In summary, church controversy and lack of real support for from the upper eschelon had forced him to break away with the WCG and form his own ministry, Christ Church of Grace. My friend who suggested that Earl Williams had a “very liberal” (or radical) theological worldview, simply did not (probably still does not) know what he’s talking about. Earl Williams is theologically conservative in his worldview. He is a firm supporter of the essentials of historic Christian faith. On his website he has link to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church—very conservative. He’s positively, definately not a Reverend Wright type (Obama’s former radical leftist “pastor”). My lesson learned (I hope) is that in dealing with somebody who is entangled in Armstrongism, their understanding of what a liberal or liberalism(religiously speaking, of course) is very narrow in their scope and any mild dissent from their point of view is considered liberal. Where I and Mr. Williams disagree (and perhaps very strongly) is that I am more supportive of E.P. Sanders’ view on Apostle Paul and Judaism in the 1st century (New Perspective on Paul) and Earl Williams in all likelihood is totally opposite. We debate, but we don’t divide. When I went to S.E.P. in ’87, Earl Williams was a great speaker in Christian living class and with his sermon at S.E.P. Sabbath services. He still his a great speaker and orator (perhaps a lot better than Obama–heh,heh,heh!!!) and you can listen to his current sermons with Christ Church of Grace at your leisure, here.
I have met Kim Wenzel many times at Feast of Tabernacles (in Niagara Falls), various combined church activities and seen him at Queensway Cathedral at Etobicoke Lakeshore back in ’97 when Dr.Charles Stanley was in town. I remember his funny laugh and yes, I do remember very well his unabashed directness but openness as well. I must give him credit that he was one of the ministers that you felt at ease, who was very approachable and was apparently very kind (my observation/experience). One year (1996 to be exact) at Feast of Tabernacles seminar in London, Ontario; told about his need for a leave of absence from pastoring because of family, study, congregational concerns. He too, had tensions with the upper echelons (maybe a lot less dramatic than Mr. Williams) which led him to leave the Worldwide Church of God himself. He now has a healing ministry which deals with pastors and other congregational leaders who are dealing with burnout. It is called Smoldering Wick Ministries and here is an excerpt from their About page:
Smoldering Wick Ministries was founded by Kim and Kathy Wenzel, and this is their story.
Kim and Kathy served in pastoral ministry for 30 years. From 1980 to 2000, they served as senior church pastors in Canada. Their personal journey to burnout began with the death of Kim’s father. The day before performing his father’s funeral, Kim was given a sealed letter written by his father, informing Kim for the first time that his father was not Kim’s real father!
Upon returning to Ontario to resume pastoring two congregations, denominational upheavals began. As the denomination started falling apart worldwide over doctrinal issues, Kim and Kathy began walking their two legalistic congregations out of religion and into salvation by grace through faith. The next few years were filled with daily turmoil, and became a living hell as brethren struggled in their minds with the difference between legalism and grace. Not everyone could accept the unconditional love of God through Jesus Christ and division resulted.
The end came after a prayer journey to Nepal with Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Upon returning to Canada, Kim and Kathy were fired by denominational leaders for being too involved with other groups outside of the denomination and for being too progressive for the legalistic denomination. In many ways it was a great relief.
In 2000, Kim and Kathy and their four daughters moved to Colorado Springs to become a part of New Life Church. Kim led a rock climbing small group, and Kathy loved teaching music at High Country Home School Association while teaching and caring for their four daughters.
The launch of Smoldering Wick Ministries marked a new direction for Kim and Kathy, helping the thousands of burned-out and wounded ministry leaders. For two years the ministry was based in Colorado Springs. Kim and Kathy searched for afforable land to establish a retreat center. The door opened in Northeastern Oklahoma in November of 2003, where God provided 30 beautiful acres on the Spring River. Now the hurting and wounded can come and stay at Elijah’s Hide Away Retreat for rest and to receive counsel, teaching, and love. Kim also travels around North America teaching Tree of Life living and ministry in an effort to help slow the burnout rate among both lay members and leaders.
With approximately 1,000 ministry leaders leaving their posts each month in North America the need to help these wounded servants is great indeed. Having personal experience in spiritual bankruptcy, disgust with the church, and anger and disappointment with God, Kim and Kathy truly relate to these hurting leaders, and help them on the journey to complete healing and renewed service. Their hearts are filled with love and understanding for those who are often forgotten by the church and left on the roadside to fend for themselves. The Father heart of God is tender toward those who have suffered trauma as a result of misjudgment and misunderstanding in the Body of Christ no matter what the cause or sin.
Last but not least is Tom Mansanarez. You might ask, “Who is he?” For those who subscribed to the historic Worldwide Church of God’s magazine for pre-teens and teens called Youth (add in the year), we (and that includes me) remember. He was the young man who loved to draw and had the opportunity to draw the founder of the WCG on the premiere edition back in January ’81. Sometime ago, I was searching for his name on internet and found this site. Not too sure about what happened to his affiliation with the Worldwide Church of God in the years later but I can assume he’s doing his own thing (and I mean that in a positive sense). The historic WCG in general showed very low favour towards the arts (and some will bullheadedly argue that it wasn’t the case. Please read the late Jesse Ancona’s take here and consider the possibility it was the case. Next.) and I salute Tom’s ability to do what he loved being stopped by nobody. 2011, it rings ever more true to him and I salute him.