The First Quarter of the Twentieth Century

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Church of God was small and scattered, with fewer than 1,000 members, living mostly in the American Midwest. The General Conference of the Church of God legally incorporated in 1900 in the state of Missouri. The Church's newspaper underwent a name change that same year to become, as the last chapter showed, The Bible Advocate.

In 1903, Gilbert Cranmer, a minister since the 1850s and one of the chief builders of the Church in the aftermath of the Seventh-Day Adventist/Church of God split in the 1860s, died at age 89. In 1910, Alexander Dugger, who had served as a leader of the General Conference since its inception, as well as having served as editor of The Bible Advocate, also died. A third faithful pioneer, Jacob Brinkerhoff, died in 1916. He had served as editor of the Advocate on and off from 1871 to 1914. Mr. Brinkerhoff was considered by many to be the most outstanding leader of the Church in his time. "Jacob Brinkerhoff had served the Church of God for over 40 years.. Instead of buying a home in 1874, Brinkerhoff used the money instead to buy the press equipment for the Advent and Sabbath Advocate.. Single-handedly, it seems, he had prevented the total collapse of the Work" (Richard Nickels, History of the Seventh Day Church of God, p. 85).

Andrew N. Dugger, son of Alexander Dugger, began his ministry with the Church of God in 1906. When Jacob Brinkerhoff retired from the editorship of The Bible Advocate in 1914, he became both president of the General Conference and editor. "During his tenure as president and editor, Dugger exerted much influence upon the Church. Throughout the early period of Dugger's leadership, the Church of God experienced some of its most rapid and greatest growth" (Coulter, pp. 41-42). Andrew Dugger retained leadership from June of 1914 until 1932.

The issue of organization and government had long been a source of controversy within the Church of God. Recognizing that no Work of any consequence could be done with the meager amount of monies coming into the headquarters in Stanberry, Missouri (less than $1,000 in 1917), Andrew Dugger took steps to correct the situation. He sent a survey to the membership in 1922 to find out how much tithe they had paid over the previous year and to whom it was paid. It became apparent that most of the tithes were being collected by individual ministers, and that one particular minister who "worked little" had collected the lion's share. Soon, a policy was enacted that all tithes were to be paid into the State Conferences, and that a tithe of that tithe was to be sent to the General Conference. In 1923, the income of the General Conference in Stanberry jumped to more than $18,000.

In about 1904, G. G. Rupert entered the ministry of the Church of God. Mr. Rupert had previously been in the ministry of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and had raised up congrega tions in South America. After several years of growing doctrinal disagreement, he left the Adventists in 1902. Among other things, Mr. Rupert had come to understand that both the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days were binding upon the New Testament Church. In 1913, Jacob Brinkerhoff published a series of articles by G. G. Rupert in The Bible Advocate discussing the subject of the law of God, arguing that the Holy Days of Leviticus 23 were binding upon the New Testament Church. Though the Church in the United States paid little heed to this teaching, many of the South American congregations Mr. Rupert had established not only followed his example in leaving the fellowship of the Adventists, but also accepted God's Holy Days. Because of disagreement between Mr. Dugger and Mr. Rupert over some issues of doctrine, and particularly over the issue of church organization and government, Mr. Rupert continued as an "independent" Church of God minister, publishing his own magazine, The Remnant of Israel, until his death in 1922.

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