GCI Update

Understanding the kingdom

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Joe and Tammy TkachJesus told his disciples to pray, “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). But what is that kingdom? And when and how will it come?

Noting the rather mysterious nature of the kingdom (Matthew 13:11), Jesus gave his disciples homespun illustrations to help them understand. He would say, “The kingdom is like….,” then offer analogies like a mustard seed that starts small, a man who finds hidden treasure in a field, a farmer who sows seed, or a merchant who sells his entire inventory to buy a pearl of great price.

Through such analogies, Jesus sought to help his disciples understand that the kingdom of God is “not of this world” (John 18:36). Yet, they continued to misunderstand, expecting Jesus to lead their occupied nation into a worldly kingdom that would give them political freedom, power and prestige.

Just_What_Do_You_Mean_Kingdom_Of_GodMany of Jesus’ followers have continued to misunderstand, including our own denomination. Perhaps you will remember our former booklet on the kingdom, published in 1972. It was entitled, “Just What Do You Mean…Kingdom of God?” Though it contained a few kernels of truth, it entirely missed very important ones. It erroneously stated that the kingdom is an event that pertains more to the future than to the present. In sermons based on that wrong premise, we’d speak of a “soon-coming kingdom.” Our mistaken understanding resulted from poor exegesis and confused interpretations of Scripture. Though we did not intentionally seek to diminish the triumph of Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, our misunderstanding of the kingdom of God did just that.

Like a three-stage rocket

Though no single illustration perfectly captures the full scope of the kingdom of God, there is one that might be helpful in our modern context: The kingdom of God is like a three-stage rocket. The first two stages pertain to the present reality of the kingdom and the third to its future fullness.

Stage 1: Launch

The first stage was the “launch” of the kingdom into our world through the Word of God becoming flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Being fully God and fully human, Jesus brings the kingdom of God to us. As the King of kings, wherever Jesus is, the kingdom is present.

Stage 2: Present reality

The second stage began with what Jesus accomplished through his death, resurrection, ascension and the sending of the Spirit. Though he no longer dwells among us physically, Jesus dwells within us by the Spirit, knitting us together as one. The kingdom of God is now present—it has broken into all of creation. Thus no matter which country is our earthly home, our citizenship is in heaven, for we live now under the sovereign reign and rule (kingdom) of God.

Those who follow Jesus come under that reign and rule. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), he was instructing them to pray concerning both the here and now as well as the future aspects of the kingdom. As followers of Jesus we are called to bear witness to our citizenship in a kingdom that already is present. We are not to think of the kingdom as only something in the future. As citizens of the kingdom here and now, we are about our Father’s business, doing his kingdom work now. That work includes caring for the poor and needy and faithfully stewarding God’s creation. Through such works of kingdom righteousness, we share in the ongoing mission of Jesus, demonstrating the character of his present kingdom rule and reign.

Stage 3: Future fullness

The third stage of the kingdom is yet future. It will occur when Jesus returns in glory to usher in a new heaven and new earth.

At that time, God will be known by all and will be seen to be who he truly is—“all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). We have now the sure hope that at that time, everything will be put right. It is encouraging for us to dream and imagine what that will be like, although we remember Paul’s words that no mind is able to fully conceive of it (1 Corinthians 2:9).

As we dream of the kingdom’s third stage, let’s not forget the first two. Though having a future aspect, the kingdom is here now. Because that is so, we are called to live accordingly, to share with others the good news (gospel) of Jesus the King, and of his present and future reign in the kingdom of God.

In this issue of GCI Weekly Update, we are publishing part one of a six-part series that examines the biblical testimony concerning the kingdom of God. I think you’ll find this series, written by Gary Deddo, to be stimulating and eye-opening.

Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Tkach signature

 

 

__________________

PS: I spoke recently with Paul Young, author of The Shack. He agreed to be a guest speaker at our GenMin Converge conference in 2015 (there will be one conference that year and it probably will be held in Columbus, Ohio). Note that registration is now open for the 2014 Converge conference being held in two locations: Southern California and Ohio (for information, go to genmin.gci.org/).

Paul also told me of plans to film a movied based on The Shack. Forrest Whittaker has signed to write, direct and star in it. This involvement shows how important the film is to him. You can learn more about the film at variety.com/2014/film/news/forest-whitaker-lionsgates-the-shack-1201078223/.

GenMin mission trips

In the video below, Lee Berger, who coaches the directors of GenMin’s missions trips, reports on recent activities. For additional information, go to http://genmin.gci.org/missionministries.htm.

On YouTube at http://youtu.be/-beqIBxkDkc

Nassau community center

This update is from Robert McKinney the pastor of GCI’s congregation in Nassau, Bahamas.

Center opening
Rita and Leslie

Several years ago, Leslie and Rita Bowe, long-time GCI members in Nassau, donated land in a low-income area where they previously lived and where Leslie operated a business for over 50 years. Their dream was to see a community center built on the land to draw the community together and to provide a beacon of hope for area residents.

Just recently, the Bowes’ dream came true. A leading area newspaper reported that, “The Leslie and Rita Bowe Montell Heights Community Center was officially opened on December 16.” Participants in the opening ceremony (pictured below) included Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis and several cabinet ministers and ministers of religion.

Center opening group

Rita mentioned that since the center opened, she has seen a lot of positive changes in the area. For example, the center provides free lessons for 40 students in an after-school classes program. They operate a soup kitchen that feeds the elderly. A crusade in the park and a free counseling clinic are planned for later this year. Leslie noted that the center has brought together people from all walks of life. They have put the past behind and are working more together. He mentioned that Prime Minister Perry Christie visited the center the day after it opened. He commented that he was amazed to see what had been done in the area.

The kingdom of God, part 1

This article by Gary Deddo is the first in a 6-part series addressing the important, yet often misunderstood, topic of the kingdom of God. For additional articles in this series, click on the corresponding number: 2345, 6.

Introduction

Down through the ages, the kingdom of God has been the focus of much Christian teaching, and rightly so. As a result, controversy has arisen, particularly in the 20th century. Consensus is hard to come by in large part due to the volume and complexity of the biblical material and the many theological themes that intersect at this topic. Also at work are wide differences of theological commitments and assumptions that scholars and pastors bring to the task and that then lead them to offer a wide range of conclusions.

For the purpose of growing our faith in understanding, I will review in this six-part series the central issues related to the kingdom of God. I’ll be drawing on the scholarship and perspective of others who share the same basic historic orthodox Christian faith that we in GCI profess—a faith that is grounded in Scripture and interpreted with Jesus Christ at its center. He is the one who leads us in our worship of the Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This incarnational and Trinitarian approach, while faithful, will not directly answer every question we might have concerning the kingdom of God. But it will provide a secure foundation and a reliable guide for pursing a faithful understanding.

Over the past 100 years, there has been a growing consensus on central issues among those involved in biblical studies who share those fundamental theological convictions that align with our own. Those convictions involve the reality and reliability of biblical revelation, a sound approach to biblical interpretation (see the series, “Scripture: God’s Gift” at update.gci.org/2013/04/scripture-gods-gift/) and the basics of Christian understanding (doctrine) concerning such matters as the divinity of Christ, the triune nature of God, the centrality of the gracious work of God fulfilled in Christ through the Holy Spirit, and the redemptive working of God in and through history to bring it to its consummation—its God-given purpose or telos.

While there are many scholars from whom we could benefit, two companion guides seem to be particularly helpful in putting the myriad pieces of the biblical evidence concerning the kingdom together: George Ladd, writing from the perspective of biblical studies; and Thomas F. Torrance, writing from the perspective of theology. Of course, both of these scholars have learned from many others and draw on and refer to them. They have done a tremendous amount of sifting through the larger body of biblical and theological studies. They give primary weight to those whose understanding comports with those more foundational biblical and theological assumptions mentioned above and who seem to offer the most coherent, comprehensive and consistent arguments concerning the kingdom of God. I will point out a number of the most important aspects of their conclusions that contribute to our growing faith and deepening understanding. [1]

The centrality of Jesus Christ

Ladd and Torrance have both made it emphatically clear that the biblical revelation, in no uncertain terms, identifies the kingdom of God with the person and mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ himself embodies and brings the kingdom of God. Why? Because he is the King of all creation. His ministry as mediator between God and creation involves kingship as well as priestly and prophetic elements. The kingdom of God is real and actual in and through Jesus Christ, since he reigns wherever he is. The kingdom of God is his kingdom. Jesus tells us so: “I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:29-30; NRSV throughout except as noted).

At another time Jesus declares that the kingdom of God belongs to him. He says, “My kingdom is not from this world” (John 18:36). So the kingdom of God cannot be understood apart from who Jesus is and what his entire mission is about. Any study of Scripture or any theological synthesis of the exegetical material that does not interpret the kingdom of God on the basis of the person and work of Jesus Christ will be off-center. It will end up at a different place than one that operates from this living center of Christian faith.

Working from that center, what can we begin to understand about the kingdom of God? We should first note that it is Jesus himself who announces the arrival of the kingdom of God and makes this a comprehensive theme of his teaching (Mark 1:15). Jesus brings with him the actual presence of the kingdom, not just a message about the kingdom. The kingdom of God is operating wherever Jesus is—because he is the King. The kingdom of God has its reality in the living presence and activity of King Jesus.

Following on that point, then, what Jesus says and does conveys the character of his kingdom. The kingdom he offers has a character identical to his own. Jesus offers a certain kind of kingdom, one that embodies his own character and purpose. Our ideas of the kingdom of God then must cohere with who Jesus is. Everything about it must be redolent of him. It should look, sound, act, smell and carry itself in a way that points us to and reminds us of him so that we get the idea that this kingdom is his—it belongs to him and has his fingerprints all over it. The implication of this connection is that the kingdom of God is primarily about the rule or reign of Christ and not so much, as it has been put, about a realm or a spatial or geographical location. Wherever Christ’s lordship is operating according to his will and purpose, there is found the kingdom of God.

More particularly, his kingdom must have to do with his redemptive purposes and so be bound up with his incarnation, vicarious life, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and return for us, and for our salvation. That is, his rule as King cannot be understood apart from his revelatory and mediating ministry of also being Prophet and Priest. All three of these Old Testament offices, represented by Moses, Aaron and David are uniquely combined and fulfilled in him.

The purpose of his rule and will is to bring his creation into and under his gracious protection and beneficence, that is, into fellowship, communion and participation with him by reconciling us to God through his self-offering. The ultimate result of being under his rule is for us to share in his rule and experience all the benefits of his kingdom. And this rule will be characterized by God’s own love for us in Christ and worked out in us by the Spirit. Love of God and love of neighbor in the way Jesus embodied it will be marks of participating in his kingdom. The kingdom of God is a fellowship, a people, a community in communion with God through Jesus Christ and so with each other in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

But such love in fellowship, as shared in Christ, will emanate from a lived trust (faith/belief) in the redeeming, living God and his rule being continually exercised by Christ. So faith or belief in Jesus Christ will necessarily bring about involvement in his kingdom. This is because Jesus not only proclaims the nearness of the kingdom of God as he draws near, but he also calls for the response of belief (trust/faith) in its presence accompanying him. So we read: “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news’” (Mark 1:15). Belief in the kingdom of God cannot be separated from faith in Jesus Christ. Putting our faith in him means putting our trust in his rule or reign, that is, in his fellowship-creating kingdom. To love Jesus and the Father through him is to love and trust in all his ways that are embodied in his kingdom.

Jesus is King of kings over all the universe

The kingdom reign of Jesus Christ is universal and unrivalled. There is no corner of the cosmos that does not fall under his redemptive sway. So Jesus proclaims that all authority has been given him in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18)—that is, throughout all creation. All things were created through him and for him, notes the apostle Paul (Colossians 1:16).

Echoing back to God’s promises to Israel, Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords (Psalm 136:1-3; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). The extent of his reign corresponds exactly to who he is: the one through whom all things were made and who upholds everything in existence by his power and life-giving will (Hebrews 1:2-3; Colossians 1:17).

It should be evident that this Jesus, the Lord of the universe, has no equal—no rivals, neither in terms of creation nor our great redemption. While there were contenders, pretenders and usurpers who had no power nor will to create or give life, Jesus has overcome, has vanquished, all enemies who refused his reign. As the incarnate agent of the Father in the power of the Spirit, this Son opposes all that opposes his good creation and God’s good purposes for all creation. The strength of his opposition to all that would maim and destroy his good creation and deviate from his glorious ends is proportional to his love for his good creation. Were he not to oppose that which would undo his creation, he would not be its loving Lord. This Jesus with his heavenly Father and Holy Spirit is implacably opposed to all evil that distorts, twists and destroys life and loving relationships in fellowship first with him and in turn with each other and creation. To bring about his original ultimate purposes, all opposition to his rule and right must submit in repentance or be undone. Evil has no future in the kingdom of God.

So Jesus regards himself and is depicted by the New Testament witnesses as a redeeming victor who delivers his people from all evil, all enemies. He sets the captives free (Luke 4:18; 2 Corinthians 2:14). He transfers us from the kingdoms of darkness to his kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). He “gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4). It is just in this sense that Jesus has “overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). And in doing so, he is “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5; Matthew 19:28). The cosmic scope of his reign and the absolute banishment of evil under his Lordship describe beyond our imaginations the wonder of his gracious kingdom rule.

Next time, in part two, we will discuss how the kingdom is present in two major phases.

______________________

[1] For the relevant works of Thomas F. Torrance see his two volumes, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ and its companion Atonement: the Person and Work of Christ. For the relevant work of George E. Ladd, see his A Theology of the New Testament. It should be noted that we are under no obligation to slavishly follow either of these men’s teachings and may depart from any particular point if compelled by good reasons that are backed by biblical revelation, and when there seems to be a better alternative theological understanding.

Google competition

This prayer request is from Tim Maguire, GCI’s mission developer in southern Africa.

An exciting opportunity has arisen for GCI related to our ongoing ministry in Mozambique.

Africa ConnectedLast October, I learned of a competition run by Google, called Africa Connected. Its objective is to show how Google has helped to advance business enterprises in Africa.

I decided to enter on behalf of GCI, explaining how Google’s Translate tool enabled me to communicate with our Portuguese-speaking members in Mozambique. This was critica because their local leader—the only member who spoke English—had died. I also explained how we used Google’s search engine to find information on well digging and water purification.

Out of thousands of entries from countries throughout Africa, our story was chosen as one of 20 semi-finalists. They then asked for my participation in filming a short video about our work in Mozambique. We could not travel to Mozambique with all the video equipment, so we traveled to an area close to the Mozambique border where we filmed a reenactment of our ministry activity. The video is being edited and will appear as part of Google’s future promotions.

The next stage of the competition involves Google judges selecting the top 10 videos. This selection will be announced on February 10 with the selected videos appearing on YouTube where the public will be invited to vote to choose the top five as winners. Each winner will be awarded $25,000.

Who knows what positive impact this exposure may bring to GCI in southern Africa? Your prayers are much appreciated.

Death of Debbie Klynsmith

Bob and
Bob and Debbie

We are saddened to announce the death of Debbie Klynsmith, wife of GCI elder Bob Klynsmith.

Debbie passed away in Cape Town, South Africa on February 2. She had been courageously fighting cancer for over three years.

Debbie was born in Northern Zambia in 1960. The family moved to South Africa when she was three years of age. Debbie and her husband, Bob Klynsmith, were married in Johannesburg in 1982. They enjoyed close to 33 wonderful years of marriage, including parenting their three sons David, Warren and Matthew.

Bob graduated from Ambassador University in 1973 and entered full-time ministry in 1981 after working in business for several years. In 1992, Bob became the national leader of WCG/GCI in Southern Africa, serving in that capacity until 1996 during the years of our transformation as a church. He currently runs his own management and strategic consulting business in Cape Town while serving GCI in a bi-vocational mentoring role and as an editor and writer for our Face to Face magazine.

Debbie will always be remembered for her gracious strength, dignity and caring nature. She was a remarkable person and friend who sincerely served those who crossed her path with compassion. Besides being a competent legal secretary and loyally supporting Bob in ministry, Debbie poured many years of her life into the Kenridge scouting movement as a volunteer instructor. She adored young people and deeply loved her three sons. Debbie’s gentle smile, thoughtfulness and love for life will be deeply missed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob, David, Warren and Matthew as well with Debbie’s mother, Grace; Debbie’s sister Glynis; and her brothers Richard and Douglas and their families.

Debbie’s funeral will be held on February 8 in Cape Town. Messages may be emailed to Bob at robert@strategic-options.co.za

Cards may be sent to:

PO Box 627
Sea Point, Cape Town
South Africa, 8060

Bernie Schnippert

This health update and prayer request is from Bernie Schnippert, GCI’s legal counsel.

I recently learned that my carcinoid cancer has spread considerably and has infected both more soft tissues and the bones in my upper abdomen area. This spreading was discovered when I had more extensive tests after breaking my sternum (very painful but now essentially healed). The spreading of the cancer obviously has implications for longevity but no one knows for sure exactly what this means. For now, I continue to be able to do my job, so please do not hesitate calling or emailing the Legal Department with church business.

As you can imagine, this whole scenario is especially stressful to me and my wife Arlene after recently losing our daughter to breast cancer. Please pray for strength for Arlene and courage for me.

Cards may be sent to:

Bernie and Arlene Schnippert
64651 Jan Dr
Bend, OR 97701-8824

 

Church Next Training East

CMM Small -RGBChurch Multiplication Ministries (CMM), part of GCI Church Administration and Development, USA, will be conducting Church Next Training, East (CNT East) on July 24-25 in Arden, North Carolina (near Asheville).

CNT East is for church pastors, church planters and others interested in starting a new church and/or re-missioning (re-planting) an established church. Bring your team and learn how to impact your community, develop a discipleship pathway and discover more effective ways to “do church.”

CNT East will address Trinitarian principles for starting new churches, determining your call to a people group or community, developing church planting or re-missioning teams, gathering people for a new or established church, starting a new worship service, funding your church, and other topics. The trainers at CNT East will be Travis Jarrett, church planter and executive pastor at The Orchard in Asheville; and Randy Bloom, CMM director.

  • Location: Trinity Life Fellowship (GCI) 44 Buck Shoals Road G4, Arden, North Carolina
  • Date: July 24-25, 2014
  • Cost: $40 before July 10, $60 after that; $20 for a spouse or additional ministry team member. This registration fee covers training manual and lunch on both days. Attendees are responsible for providing their own dinners and lodging.
  • Lodging: There are several hotels nearby the training location—a Google search is advised.
  • Need assistance? Email Randy.Bloom@gci.org
  • Registration and information: Go to www.gci.org/go/cnte14 (login required)

Concerning Medicare

This announcement is provided by GCI treasurer, Mat Morgan.

medicareGCI pastors and other families who are enrolled for Medicare in the U.S. should be aware of important information related to Medicare coverage of hospital care.

Please be aware of the distinction that Medicare makes between hospitalization classified as “inpatient” vs. hospitalization classified as “outpatient.” Knowing the difference could save you a lot of money and affect whether you qualify for skilled nursing care at the end of a hospital stay.

In how it pays for hospitalization and related services, Medicare distinguishes between “under observation” (outpatient) treatment and inpatient treatment. As the patient, you won’t necessarily know how your doctor and hospital are classifying your stay. The centers for Medicare and Medicaid services suggest that you ASK YOUR DOCTOR how your stay is being classified each day you are in the hospital. Doing so might save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenditures.

To learn more go to www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/54026469/ and read page 32 of Medicare & You 2014—the publication you were sent when you enrolled for Medicare (available online at www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf).

If you have purchased a Medicare supplement insurance policy or have a Medicare Advantage (HMO) plan, understanding this issue may make a difference in your ultimate costs. It would be a good idea to find out how your plan views inpatient and outpatient costs.

Neither inpatient nor outpatient care is necessarily better than the other—each situation is determined based on the patient’s symptoms and medical needs. The important thing is that you be aware of what treatment you’re actually receiving, how it is being classified and thus how it will affect your family’s finances.

Mat Morgan

Mat and Pam Morgan
Mat and Pam Morgan

During most of his formative years, Mat worked on a farm. “Starting about age 12, I worked on a truck farm, raising vegetables for a hardworking Christian couple whose children had moved away to the city to work. When I was about 16, I helped manage the farm because the owners were getting up in years. They paid for the seed, the equipment and fuel, and I provided or paid for the labor costs. We split the proceeds. I hired my friends from high school to do some of the work.

I learned to operate about every kind of farm equipment they had and learned how to market tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, sweet corn, cantaloupe, watermelons, squash and other produce to the grocery stores. People also came to the farm to buy produce and when we couldn’t sell it fast enough, we filled up the pickup and sold it beside the highway. It was a practical introduction to a lot of hard work and business for which I am grateful.”

Mat also worked at home. “My mom operated a small café during my high school years in the first level of our house, which was an old hotel built in 1888. My brothers and I learned to cook and wash dishes. Knowing how to motivate teenage boys, my mom would say ‘As soon as the dishes are done, you can have whatever you want to eat.’ I once asked her if she ever made any money with the café. She said ‘No, but I fed four teenage boys.’”

Mat has been in WCG/GCI most of his life. “My parents were baptized in the icy Clark Fork River in northern Montana in 1963. I was two years old. My parents became interested through the church’s media and my mother was miraculously healed of a serious illness not long after they became members.”

During high school Mat became interested in Ambassador College. “I was active in YOU and through the basketball program I visited both Ambassador College campuses for tournaments. My parents and our pastor encouraged me to go to Ambassador after high school and it seemed natural to do so. At the time I was personally more interested in becoming a chiropractor and had applied to Palmer College in Iowa. However, I decided to go to Ambassador in Pasadena where my brother Tim already lived.”

Transitioning from farm to city was not easy. “I nearly left college after a few weeks. I learned that I needed more money than I had first thought and I did not like the city crowds. The smog, which was thick at the time, caused me to have severe headaches. Also, I did not like the fact that I had to give speeches. When I called my parents to tell them I was coming back to South Dakota, they and the pastor encouraged me to stick it out another month and the congregation sent me enough money to get through the first semester. So I gritted my teeth and stayed.”

It proved to be a good decision. Mat survived his first few speeches and started a job on the Ambassador landscaping crew. “Because it was like farm work and because my boss was encouraging, I began to feel better, but I still felt out of place, though I stayed. I called home and had my parents sell my horse to cover my second-semester tuition.”

Mat transferred to the Big Sandy Ambassador campus in 1981. “I was chosen as one of the ‘leaders’ in the sophomore class to go help with reopening the Big Sandy campus. I learned that ‘leadership’ in Big Sandy that year meant working the graveyard shift on security and eliminating varmints like copperheads and armadillos from the property. These critters had used the vacant campus as home for a while and had to be pushed back into the surrounding ‘jungle.’ Because it was more rural and relaxed in some ways, I thrived there. I was baptized in Lake Loma that year.”

While in Big Sandy, Mat became interested in cycling, which would lead to participating on staff at “SEP On Wheels” held in New Zealand. “I still enjoy cycling today in the hills around Glendora—mostly on my mountain bike.”

Mat returned to Pasadena to finish his BA degree. “I became involved in community outreach during that time and began organizing tutors and tutoring children who had been abandoned by or otherwise had lost their parents. Through this experience, I experienced God’s heart for children and the joy of seeing children succeed, even in difficult circumstances. I am a strong supporter of GCI’s Generations Ministries camps and missions because I see the tremendous value in helping kids see who they are in Jesus.”

Besides his job in landscaping, Mat worked in the Ambassador Auditorium. This turned into a full-time job after graduation. “I supervised the ushers, parking attendants, concessions areas at various times, and later served as a foreman and house manager.”

During this time Mat started working with the budget for the areas he supervised. “As part of that job, I worked for Herbert Armstrong, organizing and serving luncheons and dinners at his home where I met many interesting people including Nancy Reagan, Queen Sirikit of Thailand, Prince Philip from the UK, Anwar Sadat from Egypt and several world-renowned performing artists. Although I appreciated these opportunities, I became personally troubled seeing how Mr. Armstrong and some around him handled the finances. I was so troubled that I nearly left my employment. I had no idea at the time that I would have influence in this area later as church treasurer. It reminds me that God has a plan for us all.”

(left to right) Jessica, Pam, Mathew adn Mat
(left to right) Jessica, Pam, Mathew and Mat Morgan

It was while working at the Ambassador Auditorium that Mat met Pam, whom he calls “the most important person in my life.” Mat and Pam were married in Indianapolis where her family was living at the time. “We were married in 1988—25 years ago. We initially had a 5-year plan for just the two of us to be together before having children. This turned into a 5-month plan when Pam got pregnant.

Our son Mathew was born in 1989 and our daughter Jessica in 1991 (see their pictures at left). Both have now graduated from college. Mathew is a financial consultant and Jessica is finishing her teaching credential, hoping to teach early elementary school children. We are very proud of them. Both love God and are working in areas where they are gifted. Family is such a blessing.”

Mat started working with WCG pastor general and president, Joseph Tkach, Sr. “He invited me to work for him as a project coordinator and to do the president’s budget. While working with Mr. Tkach, I helped organize senior dinners at the campuses in Pasadena and Big Sandy. I also served as a steward on the church’s airplane on the weekends when Mr Tkach visited churches. I still have the flight uniform (if only it still fit!).”

While working for Mr. Tkach, Mat entered graduate school. “I could not afford it, so Pam and I worked another job managing property, but it still wasn’t enough for a young family to live on. I asked Mr. Tkach if the church would help pay for me to finish an MBA. He told me if I could show him how I would use what I was learning to serve the church, that he would help pay for it. During that month I renegotiated discounts with existing vendors, which saved more than twice the amount of my complete tuition. After I showed him this, he agreed to help. Looking back I really appreciate that challenge.”

When Mr. Tkach Sr. died in 1995, Bernie Schnippert asked Mat to work with him as assistant treasurer and Joseph Tkach Jr. asked him to serve on the church board. “I worked with Bernie for about 10 years during some very challenging times. Our doctrinal changes led to a dramatic decline in income over several years and forced the sale of many of our church properties, including the camp in Minnesota, both college campuses and many other assets. This proved to be a challenging real-world education in finance, real estate and business administration. I would never wish to repeat those years, but, as they say, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. During that time, Bernie carried a heavy burden and served as my mentor. When Ralph Helge retired, Bernie took on the role of the church’s general legal counsel and I was appointed church treasurer in 2005.”

When asked what he enjoys most about being church treasurer, Mat said, “I don’t always enjoy this job because I see both tremendous need and scarcity of resources and feel personal angst about this tension. However, seeing money well spent corporately and by individuals makes me happy. Other things that I see as treasurer that make my heart smile is generosity of spirit and generosity of possessions by people who are helping others. I especially enjoy when resources are well spent for the gospel so that others can understand who they are in Christ and be connected, elevated and energized through this experience. When the light goes on in a young person’s eyes I feel tremendous joy. What a privilege to participate in this adventure! I think money is well spent for the gospel when it is used to help others see their true worth in Christ.

“I have so many good friends in GCI, my family and I feel like we are part of a worldwide family. I also enjoy the foundation of sound theology, which allows us both to feel God’s love and to share it freely with all of God’s children, whether they know Christ lives in them or not.”

Mat’s passion is “seeing young people discover who they are in Christ and view their future from this perspective. I love to see young people learn to handle their finances responsibly. I also enjoy being outdoors in God’s creation, hiking, biking, fishing, camping, meditating. I have climbed Mt Whitney a couple times and several other mountains in Southern California. I think a rainy day outside in the mountains is better than most good days in an office. I am told by my children that I have a stern appearance and for whatever reason I have been placed in a job where I often have to say “no” to people. Those who know me well, understand that under the stern appearance, I care deeply for people. God certainly has a sense of humor.”

When asked if he had a final thought, Mat said, “I am blessed to work with some of the nicest people on this earth every day. If members are ever in Glendora, I invite them to stop by and meet some of these folks who serve them every day.”