Colette M. Jenkins
WADSWORTH: The Restored Church of God has officially moved into its new home — a multimillion dollar, 40,000-square-foot building at 1000 Ambassador Drive.
On Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception was held at the newly constructed administration building. The distinct white building with columns and crystal chandeliers shining through the windows is the first of five buildings that will eventually make up the world headquarters campus of the independent church.
“In late 2007, a property I had driven past for years in the special city of Wadsworth, Ohio, I suddenly saw as perfect for all of our rapidly expanding needs, meaning five buildings it would have to contain,” said David C. Pack, president and pastor general of the church. “I envisioned a shimmering jewel befitting the Great God that would be visible — as a biblical ‘city set on a hill’ — to literally hundreds of thousands every day on highways passing either side of what would become our lower campus.”
Plans for the property, bordered by state Route 261 and Interstate 76, include a newly constructed building to house the training institute for its ministers and leaders, Ambassador Center. Until the center is completed, training classes are being taught in the multipurpose room of the administration building as well as online.
The multipurpose room is also being used for Saturday worship services, which are by invitation only and typically scheduled during the afternoon. Plans are for worship services to move to a three-story building with a 450-seat auditorium, once it is constructed.
The auditorium and training center buildings are in the final phases of the campus construction. The next phase, expected to be completed this year, includes the completion of a media center and mail processing building.
The 12,000-square-foot mail processing center will be home to the Church’s mailing and in-house print operations and Landscaping and Construction departments.
The 4,000-square-foot media center will include three studios, where many of the Church’s video and audio productions and The World to Come with David C. Pack program will be filmed and edited. The program, which is designed to explain Bible prophecy by analyzing current world events, is broadcast locally at 6:30 a.m. Sundays on ION Television (WVPX) and at 3:30 a.m. Thursdays on The Word Network.
“These next buildings allow us to expand, in fact explode, in size in taking the gospel of the soon coming kingdom of God to a world in desperate need of this good news,” said Pack, who does not use the title reverend. “We hope in the fall to announce construction dates for the beautiful Ambassador Center, a training facility for our ministers and leaders, and also the crown jewel centerpiece — the magnificent Imperial Auditorium.”
In addition to church offices, the completed administration building is home to the editorial offices of the Real Truth, the church’s flagship monthly magazine which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
The Hall of Administration is done in an exterior insulation finish system and is a design unique to the church, according to Don Cameron of Cameron Design Group, the architectural firm that designed the structure. Four chandeliers, with an average of more than 1,500 lead crystals in each, hang in the building’s north and south towers on the second and third floors.
The 605 window panes throughout the structure allow natural light to brighten interior offices and meeting spaces, most of which are lined with 3.5 miles of cherry and oak wood trim. The building also includes 10 miles of data cable and three miles of fiber cable.
The developing landscape has about 4.5 miles of pipeline buried beneath the surface to irrigate the rolling grounds and provide water from the church’s own spring to the towering trees, plants and flowers. Campus designs reveal that the property will be wrapped in trees and include a variety of gardens, a lake and stream with multiple waterfalls and lighted walkways with sitting areas.
“Soon we hope to also announce the purchase of farmland, which will lead to one of the most important agriculture programs anywhere on Earth … it will be a model for all nations demonstrating the crucial basics about quality food production lost by many today,” Pack said.
History of the church
The Restored Church of God is rooted in the tradition of the Worldwide Church of God, founded in 1934 by Herbert Armstrong as a religious broadcasting radio ministry (Radio Church of God). The broadcast evangelist is often referred to as "God's End-Times Apostle," who prepared his followers for a utopia to be ruled by Jesus.
Although Armstrong’s ministry has been criticized by some cult-watching organizations, followers report that when Armstrong died in 1986, his church was attracting 120,000 people to weekly services, with an annual income of about $200 million. Circulation of its the Plain Truth magazine was more than 8 million, and The World Tomorrow attracted one of the largest religious television audiences in America.
Published reports indicated that Worldwide Church of God members paid as much as 20 to 30 percent in tithes. Leaders of the Restored Church of God dispute that, saying members have always paid an average of 12.5 percent of their annual income.
Pack was trained by Armstrong at Ambassador College, which Armstrong also founded. A former competitive swimmer (who trained for the 1968 Olympics), Pack grew up in Lima and served as pastor of two churches in Akron — congregations of the Worldwide Church of God and the offshoot Global Church of God — for nearly 10 years before establishing the Restored Church of God in 1999.
Teaching and beliefs
Leaders of the Church consider it unique in that it does not fit under the three main branches of Christianity (Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism).
It teaches that the Bible is mankind’s instruction manual on how to live God’s way. It also teaches that Jesus came as a savior and as a messenger to announce the coming of God’s kingdom, to replace Satan and reign over the kingdom, and to reconcile mankind to God.
The international organization (not considered a denomination by its leaders) currently has more than 370 congregations in 50 countries on six continents, publishes the Real Truth magazine, broadcasts The World to Come with David C. Pack and claims to have the largest biblically-based websites on Earth.
In self-published reports, leaders of the church say more than 65 million items have been downloaded from the church’s websites and that its programs and materials (including books, booklets and articles) have reached more than 220 countries and territories.
The church distributes hundreds of free books and booklets (printed in English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian and Afrikaans) 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.
In addition to a special Passover ceremony (once a year), which includes the symbols of wine and unleavened bread, the Church also observes the sacrament of baptism. Baptisms are rarely performed before the age of 18 years old and the Church does not call the Passover “communion.”
The independent church does not solicit the general public for financial support and does not proselytize. The new campus is being paid for by its members.
“Mr. Pack has had the design for this campus and the administration building in his head for a long time. It is amazing to see how his vision has come to fruition. We are all excited about our new surroundings,” said William H. Behrer III, director of publishing, media and public communications. “As Mr. Pack says, ‘the garden of Eden is open for business.’?”
More information about the church can be found at www.rcg.org.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She can be followed at www.twitter.com/ColetteMJenkins.