Colette M. Jenkins

WADSWORTH: The Restored Church of God is working on plans for a six-building complex to house its world headquarters on Ambassador Drive, west of the Giant Eagle store.


Representatives from the church presented formal plans for the project at the city of Wadsworth’s Planning Commission meeting Monday. The commission granted some variances, approved the division of the parcel into two lots and suggested some minor revisions. It did not grant approval of the project, pending review the church’s traffic impact study.


“Right now, it doesn’t look like anything should hold the project up and it could be approved at the next meeting (Feb. 13), if the review of the traffic patterns doesn’t show that any road improvements need to be made,” said Jeff Kaiser, Wadsworth’s planning director. “It looks like it is really a matter of a little bit of fine-tuning before the plan can be approved.”


Plans for the church’s headquarters include a four-floor, 33,900-square-foot administration building; a three-story, 450-seat auditorium; a 7,200-square-foot, three-story training center; two dormitories, each with 20 sleeping rooms; and a 5,400-square-foot mail processing building. The church, which has more than 370 congregations in more than 50 countries, has outgrown its current headquarters location in an office building on Park Center Drive, according to Jeffrey Ambrose, spokesman for the Restored Church of God.


Ambrose said church leaders, who did not release the cost of the project, do not refer to its organization as a denomination. He said the congregation in Wadsworth attracts an average of 200 people who live within a two-hour driving radius to its Saturday worship service, which is typical of the congregations in the Toledo, Columbus, Pittsburgh-Youngstown and Cincinnati-Dayton areas. The organization also has congregations in other states, including California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas.


“We are dedicated to preaching the gospel through whatever means are available,” Ambrose said. “We have a very large Internet presence and one of the largest religious publishing operations. Last year, there were 13.4 million downloads from our websites.”


The church operates a corporate website (www.rcg.org), a website for its monthly flagship magazine, The Real Truth (www.realtruth.org), and one for its weekly video program, The World to Come (www.worldtocome.org). It distributes hundreds of free books and booklets (printed in English, Spanish, French, German, Afrikaans and Dutch) each year and offers bimonthly magazines for its members and youth. It also offers a 30-lesson Bible introduction course and a two-year institute that trains ministers and church leaders.


The Restored Church of God was founded in 1999 by President and Pastor General David C. Pack. It is rooted in the tradition of the Worldwide Church of God, founded in 1934 by Herbert G. Armstrong as a religious broadcasting radio ministry (Radio Church of God).


Pack, who does not use the title reverend, was trained by Armstrong at Ambassador College, which Armstrong also founded.


Armstrong, a broadcasting evangelist, is often referred to as God’s End-Times Apostle. His teachings incorporated a blend of fundamental Christianity, nonbelief in the trinity and some tenets of Judaism and Seventh-Day Sabbath doctrine. His members paid the church at least 10 percent, and as much as 20 to 30 percent, of their income and celebrated Passover and Yom Kippur rather than Easter and Christmas. Armstrong espoused enjoying material wealth as a sign of “divine favor” and said he was preparing his followers for a Utopia to be ruled by Jesus.


After Armstrong’s death in 1986, Pack saw the church moving away from Armstrong’s doctrines to a more mainstream evangelical Christianity and left in 1993. Determined to continue Armstrong’s teachings, Pack formed the Restored Church of God. The former Worldwide Church of God adopted a new name, Grace Communion International, in 2009 and is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.


The Wadsworth congregation offers a Saturday worship service that begins at 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m., depending on the season, Ambrose said.


“The bulk of our service is the sermon. We sing hymns, have an opening and closing prayer and fellowship before and after the service (which typically lasts two hours). We try to dress up and come before God in our best. The men wear suits and ties and the women wear dresses and skirts,” Ambrose said. “We don’t align ourselves with any current movement. We just call ourselves Christians who are committed to spreading the gospel.”


According to the website of the Restored Church of God, it is commissioned by Jesus Christ to:


•?Announce the good news of the kingdom of God to all nations (Matthew 24:14), including warning the modern nations descended from ancient Israel of impending national punishment (Isaiah 58:1-2; Ezekial. 33:1-19).


•?Feed God’s flock called out of the world and into His Church (John 21:15-17; I Peter 5:1-2).


Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com