Sabbatarian Churches of God in Rhode Island —Our Heritage

Interior view of Sabbatarian Church of God Meeting House in Newport .  Note two plagues of Ten Commandments behind pulpit (photo, Newport Historical Society)


In Revelation 1:1-3, 17-20 the seven candle sticks are separate, denoting seven distinct Church Era's (verse 20). This is a prophecy of the Seven Era's of the Church of God .  In this study we will be looking at the 5th Era or Candle Stick of the Sabbatarian Church of God.

There are two distinct signs of a Sabbatarian Church of God:

1) The name, " Church of God ." These are the passages where the Bible name for the Church appears, first as “Church of God”:  Acts 20:28, I Cor.1:2, 10:31-32, 11:22, 15:9, II Cor. 1:1, Gal. 1:13, I Tim. 3:5. "Churches of God": I Cor. 11:15-16, I Thes. 2:14, II Thes. 1:4.
2) The observance of the 7th Day Sabbath:  Mark 2:27-28, Gen. 2:1-3, :7, Ex. 16:13-27, 20:8-11, Luke 4:14-16, :31-32, :44, Acts 13:13-16, :44, 16:13, 17:2, 18:4). [This is how Sabbatarian Church of God believers look at the Sabbath Command.

Sabbatarian Churches of God in France and Holland

Leading up to the Sardis Era of the Sabbatarian Churches of God we have the Thyatira Era of these Churches of God. Revelation 2:18-24. The Thyatiran Era was an era with great works and extreme persecution. This persecution was part of an overall persecution corresponding to the "1260 days in the wilderness" of Revelation 12:6, which turned out to be 1260 years of persecution from 325 A.D., the edict of Constantine to 1585 A.D. (1585 being the year Mary, Queen of Scots was executed.) She was the final Catholic threat to the British throne, although she never got a chance to rule on it.

[click on to read about the amazing origin of the Baptist Churches.]

In a book by Tamar Davis, written in 1851, called "A History of Sabbatarians" a people who lived in the valleys of southern France around Lyons are described. Here is some of what was said about them. "From the earliest the inhabitants in the valleys about the Pyrenees did not profess the Catholic faith, neither was it embraced by the inhabitants of the Alps . It also occurred, one Valdo, in the 9th century, a friend and advisor of Barigarius, and a man of wealth, talent and piety, who had many followers, possessed himself of a Bible by which he was led to perceive the errors and corruptions of Rome, which he severely denounced. Moreover it came to pass that about 130 years after, a rich merchant of Leone, whose name was Waldo (Peter de Waldo), openly withdrew from the communion of Rome and supported many to travel and teach the doctrines believed in the valleys." All these people, though different in their origin and different no doubt in some minor points of faith and practices of worship, are called Waldenses, as a general term. According to pope Gregory, "These people came from Rome and they were supposed to be Jews. And that they were supposed to be Jews who migrated from Rome in the days of the Apostles to the valleys of southern France ."  (These would have been Jewish believers in Jesus, being driven out of Rome shortly after the death of John, the apostle.)

A quote from a 'father' Gretchner, who was a Jesuit Priest back about 1250 A.D. states, "Moreover all these heretics despised the fasts and feasts of the Church, such as Christmas, Easter and Sunday. In short, all approved ecclesiastical customs for which they do not find a warrant in the scripture. They say also that God enjoined rest and Holy meditation upon the 7th day and that they can not feel justified in the observance of any other." So these people kept the Sabbath and they refused to keep any other 'holidays'. Also we find in the writings that they were severely persecuted. It says, "...Also driven from Dauphiny, Waldo sought refuge in Piccardy, where also his labours were abundantly blessed. Persecuted thence, he fled into Germany and carried with him the glad tidings of Salvation." It was also in Germany that Waldo died...

Sabbatarian Churches of God in England

Some other of the beliefs of these people were: "They were against war, against capital punishment, against oaths of any kind. And they expressed their opposition to bearing arms, and to war in all its' operations..." They were called Jews and Semi-Judaizers. They were forced somewhat out of France , and they spread into Poland , into Lithuania and into Russia . They did not go directly to London . There is always one thread, of the Church of God , that God keeps active. But there are many threads, like the end of a rope that has unraveled, going in all directions. The real difficulty in tracing the history of the Sabbatarian Churches of God is that you've got to find the right thread. So the threads that went into Poland , Lithuania and Russia eventually died out spiritually, and at times physically. These Waldenses also rejected all politics, and were known to observe Passover on the 14th of Nisan, as the early Apostles did. They were virtually wiped out in France , with over 2 million Sabbath-keepers being killed by the order of the Catholic Church in France .  The Waldensians in Holland were known as the Lollards, and their preaching and numbers were spreading out to the surrounding areas.  So we find Waldensian Sabbatarian Churches of God believers were also present in the Netherlands .  Two chief Waldensian ministers in Holland were Walter and Raymond Lollard.  Whether their real last name was actually Lollard or not isn’t clear, since “lollard” is taken from the English “lollen” or “lullen” which means to mumble or speak softly [i.e., lullaby].  This practice described the Waldensian practice of memorizing Scriptures and then repeating them.  Walter and Raymond came from Holland to England in 1315.  Perhaps as a result, “Lollards” was the name given to Waldensian people in Holland .  In 1320 John Wycliffe was born.  He became an Oxford scholar and theologian who held the Bible in highest esteem.  He translated most of the Bible into English, his followers finishing his work.  What most don’t realize is that he associated with Walter and Raymond Lollard and their associates, although he himself remained a Catholic all his life.

From the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition we get “Lollards: The organization must have been strong in numbers, but only those who were seized for heresy were known by name, and it is only from the indictments of their accusers that their opinions can be gathered.  The preachers were picturesque figures in long russet dress down to the heels, who, staff in hand, preached in the mother tongue to the people in the churches, and the graveyards, in the squares, streets, and houses, in garden and pleasure grounds, and then talked privately with those that had been impressed.” 


Being Waldensian, Walter and Raymond taught about full immersion into water for Baptism, and about the Biblical Sabbath and Holy Days, and they taught upwards of hundreds, maybe even thousands. In the 1400s, the Lollards became a driving force in England , making good use of Wycliffe’s translation and other translations that were coming along. These Lollards successfully planted the Sabbatarian Church of God seed in England .  Obviously, over the next several hundred years these seeds grew.  Now by this time the Thyatiran Era was just about dead in Europe . The 'Baton' was being passed to a new Era of the Sabbatarian Churches of God, called in Revelation 3:1-6 the 'Sardis Era'. This Sardis Era was to be the Church of God in England and then America during the 1st two-thirds of America 's history. Thus in 1585 England became free, once and for all, from the yoke of Catholicism, with the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. Once the Sabbath-keeping Church is rooted in England , everything in Europe is destroyed and virtually wiped out. There were very few segments of Sabbath-keepers left in Europe once they were rooted in England .  By the 1300s, some had fled into Holland and were called Lollards. By the year 1600, there were 11 Sabbath-keeping Church congregations around London . Three of the main Churches of God, the 'Cripple Gate Church of God', and the 'Mill Yard Church of God', and the 'Bell Lane Church of God.'
The names of their ministers for this period of time were:

  1. Theopolis Brayborn, who wrote a book about the Sabbath in 1597. (the old Worldwide Church of God had a copy of this book)
  2. Edward Stinnet
  3. Samuel Stinnet, Edward's son.
  4. John Trask
  5. James Ockford
  6. John James

The Church of England proved to be just as oppressive in persecutions of any religious dissenters. This included all the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God in England . Here is the reason why. Oliver Cromwell unseated Charles I of England . Cromwell eventually died, and 2 years later Charles II came to the throne in 1661 A.D. Charles II believed that there was a group of people out to take the throne from him. He called these people the Fifth Monarchy men. Fifth Monarchy men were a group of political agitators who believed and knew of the 4 prophesied world-ruling Empires or 'Monarchies' prophesied to occur in Daniel chapter 2 [i.e., the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great's Greek Empire and the Roman Empire], and the Fifth Monarchy, which was to be the Kingdom of God set up on earth by Christ, at His 2nd coming.  These agitators wanted to start setting up this 'Fifth Monarchy' in their own time--the 1600's. [They failed to realize, as the Jews also failed to realize in 70 A.D., that the Roman Empire was prophesied to have seven resurrections before the Kingdom of God would be set up on the earth by Jesus Christ.  See ] So, for obvious reasons, Charles II was very paranoid about Fifth Monarchists and brought about severe persecutions on anyone or group who professed a belief in a literal Kingdom of God being set up on earth. The Sabbath-keepers, members of the 'Churches of God' around London all held a firm belief in the literal 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ to set up a literal Kingdom of God on the earth. The Churches of God weren't political agitators for a Fifth Monarchy but they nonetheless fell under severe persecution from both the Church of England and Charles II. John James, the minister of the Cripple Gate Church of God was beheaded on November 26, 1661 to set an example to show what would happen to all who wanted to continue to believe in a Fifth Monarchy. John James' head was stuck on a stake just outside of the building used by his congregation, after his body had been drawn and quartered.  From Fletcher’s “The Incredible History of God’s True Church ”, chapter 10, we get: “John James was arrested and brought to trial, found guilty under the new law against non-conformity.  He was sentenced to the barbaric fate of being hung, drawn and quartered.  It was said that ‘This awful fate did not dismay him in the least.  He calmly said “Blessed be God, whom man condemneth, God justifieth!”  In his final words to the court he simply asked them to read the following scriptures: Jer. 26:14-15 and Psa. 116:15.  In keeping with the gruesome custom of the time, after his execution his heart was taken out and burned, the four quarters of his body fixed to the gates of the city and his head set up on a pole in Whitechapel opposite the alley in which his meeting house stood.”

Along with this, in the 1660's the infamous Clarindon Acts were passed. The 1st one stated that everyone in England had to take an oath of supremacy and allegiance to the Church of England. Members of the Sabbatarian Churches of God could not do this. The 2nd Act stated that no more than 6 people could assemble together for religious purposes except in the Church of England. In 1664, the 4th or last of the Clarindon Acts was passed which stated that no preacher or teacher that refused to take the oath of allegiance was to be allowed within 5 miles of any city or town. This included all the ministers of these Sabbatarian Churches of God in the area. So the Church was in trouble. Church services now had to be held in secret for awhile. This all but destroyed the Church of God in England . This is where the 'thread' is going to go to America .

The Name of the Church

 In looking up the history of the Church of God in New England it must be remembered that history books list all Sabbatarians prior to 1818 as '7th Day Baptists' even though that particular name was NOT adopted by the Sabbatarians in Rhode Island until 1818. Prior to 1818 they called themselves " Church of God , Keeping the Commandments of Christ."

God’s preparation of a new land

Long in advance, in America , a haven was being prepared for the Sabbath-keepers, through a man named Roger Williams.  Rhode Island Sabbatarian Church of God believers, take special note.


 “Roger was born to a Puritan family in London , England in about 1603.  His father, James Williams (1562-1620), was a merchant of Smithfield , England .  His mother was Alice Pemberton (1564-1634).  Under the patronage of Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), the famous jurist, Williams was educated at Sutton’s Hospital and at the University of Cambridge , Pembroke College (B.A., 1627).  He seems to have had a gift for languages, and early acquired familiarity with Latin, Greek, Dutch, and French.  He gave John Milton lessons in Dutch in exchange for lessons in Hebrew.  Some time before the end of 1630, Williams decided that he could not labor in England under the Archbishop William Laud’s rigorous (and High church) administration, and adopted a position of dissent.  He turned aside offers of preferment in the university and in the Established Church, and instead resolved to seek in New England the liberty of conscience denied him at home.

Removal to America

In 1630, Roger and Mary Williams set sail for Boston on the Lyon .  Arriving on February 5, 1631, he was almost immediately invited to replaced the pastor, who was returning to England .  Finding that it was “an unseparated church,” Williams declined, instead giving voice to the separationist views he had surely found in England .  Among these, Williams asserted that the magistrate may not punish any sort of “breach of the first table [of the Ten Commandments],” such as idolatry, Sabbath-breaking, false worship, and blasphemy and that every individual should be free to follow his own convictions in religious matters.  The first idea---that the magistrate should not punish religious infractions—meant that the civil authority should not be the same as the ecclesiastical authority.  The second idea---that people should have freedom of opinion on religious matters---he called “soul-liberty.”  It is one of the foundations for the United States Constitution’s guarantees of non-establishment of religion and of freedom to choose and practice one’s own religion.  William’s use of the phrase “wall of separation” in describing his preferred relationship between religion and other matters is credited as the first use of that phrase, and potentially Thomas Jefferson’s source in later speaking of the wall of separation between church and state.

The Salem church, which through interaction with the Plymouth colonists had also adopted Separationist sentiments, invited Williams to become its teacher.  His settlement was prevented by a remonstrance addressed to Governor Endicott by six of the Boston leaders.  The Plymouth colony then received him gladly, where he remained for about two years.  According to Governor Bradford, “his teachings were well approved.” 

Relations with the American Indians

Williams’ respect for the Indians and his willingness to deal with them on a basis of equality won their lasting friendship.  He insisted always that any land settled by Europeans should be purchased fairly from the local tribe.  Williams was also a vocal opponent of the forced conversion of the Natives to Christianity calling it one of the most “monstrous and most inhumane” acts forced upon the Native peoples and a “violation of Christian principles”.

While in Plymouth , Williams spent much time among the Indians, his “soul’s desire” being “to do the natives good.”  He wrote: “God was pleased to give me a painful, patient spirit, to lodge with them in their filthy, smoky holes….to gain their tongue.”  During his early years in New England , he mastered the language of the natives to a remarkable degree.

Life at Salem , Exile

Toward the close of his ministry at Plymouth , Williams’ views began to place him in conflict with other members of the colony.  The people of Plymouth quickly realized that they found his ways of thinking, particularly concerning the Indians, too advanced and he left to go back to Salem .

In the summer of 1633 Williams arrived in Salem and became unofficial assistant to Pastor Skelton.  In August, 1634, (Skelton having died), he became acting pastor and entered almost immediately into controversies with the Massachusetts authorities that in a few months resulted in his exile by law from Salem after being brought before  the Salem Court for spreading “diverse, new, and dangerous opinions” that questioned the Church.

He was formally set apart as pastor of the church in May, 1635, against the earnest protests of the Massachusetts authorities.  An outline of the issues raised by Williams and uncompromisingly pressed [by him] includes the following:

  1. He regarded the Church of England as apostate, and any kind of fellowship with it as grievous sin.  He accordingly renounced communion not only with this church but with all who would not join with him in repudiating it.
  2. He denounced the charter of the Massachusetts Company because it falsely represented the king of England as a Christian [man did this guy have courage], and assumed that he had the right to give to his own subjects the land of the native Indians.  He disapproved of “the unchristian oaths swallowed down” by colonists “at their coming forth from Old England, especially in the superstitious Laud’s time and domineering.”  He drew up a letter addressed to the King expressing his dissatisfaction with the charter and sought to secure for it the endorsement of prominent colonists. In this letter he is said to have charged King James I with blasphemy for calling Europe “Christendom” and to have applied to the reigning king some of the most opprobrious epithets in the Apocalypse.
  3. Equally disquieting was Williams’ opposition to the “citizens’ oath” which magistrates sought to force upon the colonists in order to be assured of their loyalty.  Williams maintained that it was Christ’s sole prerogative to have his office established by oath, and that unregenerate men ought not in any case to be invited to perform any religious act.  In opposing the oath Williams gained so much popular support that the measure had to be abandoned.
  4. In a dispute between the Massachusetts Bay court and the Salem colony regarding possession of a piece of land (Marblehead) claimed by the latter, the court offered to accede to the claims of Salem on condition that the Salem church make amends for its insolent conduct in installing Williams as pastor in defiance of the court of ministers.  This demand involved the removal of the pastor.  Williams regarded this proposal an outrageous attempt at bribery and had the Salem church send to other Massachusetts churches a denunciation of the proceeding and demand that the churches exclude the magistrates from membership.  This act was sharply resented by magistrates and churches, and such pressures was brought to bear upon the Salem church as led a majority to consent to removal of their pastor.  He never entered the chapel again, but held religious services in his own house with his faithful adherents.  [This guy had guts of a special variety.]


Settlement at Providence

In June, Williams arrived at the present site of Providence , Rhode Island .  Having secured land from the natives, he established a settlement with twelve “loving friends and neighbors” (several settlers had joined him from Massachusetts since the beginning of spring).  Williams’ settlement was based on a principle of equality.  In 1640, another agreement was signed by thirty-nine freemen, expressing their determination “still to hold forth liberty of conscience.”  Thus a government unique in its day was created---a government expressly providing for religious liberty and a separation between civil and ecclesiastical authority (church and state).  The colony was name Providence , due to Williams’ belief that God had sustained him and his followers and brought them to this place….In 1643, Williams was sent to England by his fellow citizens to secure a charter for the colony.  The Puritans were then in power in England , and through the offices of Sir Henry Vane a democratic charter was obtained.  In 1647, the colony of Rhode Island was united with Providence under a single government, and liberty of conscience was again proclaimed.  The area became a safe haven for people who were persecuted for their beliefs---Baptists, Quakers, Jews, and others went there to follow their consciences in peace and safety.  On May 18, 1652, Rhode Island passed the first law in North America making slavery illegal.

“2nd Baptist Church in America, at Newport, Rhode Island (congregation of John Clarke and Obediah Holmes)”

About 1639, Williams was baptized by Ezekiel Holliman and immediately proceeded to baptize Holliman and eleven others.  Thus was constituted a Baptist church which still survives as the First Baptist Church in America , in the city of Providence , Colony of Rhode Island.  At about the same time, John Clarke, Williams’ compatriot in the cause of religious freedom in the New World, established a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island….Williams remained with the little church in Providence only a few months.  He became convinced that the ordinances having been lost in the apostasy could not be validly restored without a special divine commission, making the following statement upon his departure from the sect:

There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.

He assumed the attitude of a “Seeker” or “Come-outer,” always deeply religious and active in propagation of Christian truth, yet not feeling satisfied that any body of Christians had all of the marks of the true Church.  He continued on friendly terms with the Baptists, being in agreement with them in their rejection of infant baptism as in most other matters.”  [excerpted from ]  So for you Sabbatarian Church of God believers in Rhode Island, Roger Willaims is not only the founder of your State, the State of Rhode Island, but the original author of religious freedoms in the United States, later showing up in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.  He also legislated the laws in the Charter of Rhode Island that guaranteed protection and freedom to believe and worship as led by one’s conscience, so long as it did not go against the public good.  As we now read, this guaranteed a safe haven for the establishment of the Sabbatarian Churches of God in America . 
The following statement in the Charter of Rhode Island is as follows: "Now know you, that we being willing to encourage the hopeful undertakings, and to secure them in free exercise and enjoyment of all the civil and religious rights, appertaining to them. NO PERSON SHALL HEREAFTER BE MOLESTED, PUNISHED, DISQUIETED, OR CALLED INTO QUESTION FOR ANY DIFFERENCE IN OPINION IN MATTERS OF RELIGION WHO DO NOT DISTURB THE CIVIL PEACE." Rhode Island was the only colony where freedom of religion was truly practiced. Roger Williams left this church he helped found either 4 months or 4 years later, depending on which source you want to believe. He was no longer associated with the Baptists. He was by his own admission a religious seeker.  ( Rhode Island was called Rogues Island by Puritans: .)

Sabbatarian Churches of God in Rhode Island

( Newport Historical Society)

In 1664 Steven Mumford, a successful businessman, and his wife Ann, both members of the 'Bell Lane Church of God' and both in their early 20's came to Newport, Rhode Island. The Wanton Lyman-Hazard House probably was his house.  According to the Newport Historical Society: “The oldest surviving house in Newport , the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House was built for Stephen Mumford in ca. 1697.  Mumford was a merchant and founding member of Newport ’s Seventh Day Baptist congregation.  The House passed to Mumford’s son, Stephen Mumford Jr. and then was sold to Richard Ward, a lawyer who became the governor of the colony of Rhode Island in 1741.  During the Revolution, Ward’s son Samuel also was elected to that office.” The location of this house was mentioned in a will left by his son, also named Steven Mumford. Steven Mumford is buried at the Old Colonial Cemetery , down Farewell Street . He died in 1707. His wife Ann died in 1697/8. He was 68 years old when he died. One year later, or in 1708, the Churches of God in Rhode Island gave up the yearly observance of Passover on the 14th of Nisan and switched to monthly and/or bimonthly 'breaking of bread'.

When Mumford landed with his wife in Newport there was no Sabbatarian Church of God in America to attend so he and his wife observed the Sabbath alone in their home and fellowshipped on Sundays with the members of the local Baptist Church . This Baptist Church was the second Baptist Church founded in America . Soon, 9 other Baptists started to observe the Sabbath with Steven Mumford and his wife Ann, in their home. 

Their names were:
William Hiscox
Roger Baster
Samuel Hubbard and his wife Tasey
Rachel Langeworthy (their daughter)
Nicolas Wild and his wife and
John Solmon and his wife.

Around 1669 Nicolas Wild and his wife and John Solmon and his wife rejected the Sabbath and went back to Sunday observance solely. (It is one of the Bible doctrines that if someone leaves or renounces the Church and its beliefs, once having become a baptized member, he or she is not to be fellowshipped with.  Most Sabbatarian Churches of God view themselves as “the True Church ”.) Mumford and the others fellowshipped with the Baptists on Sunday, now these four were among the Baptists they were fellowshipping with. And now, according to the ' Bell Lane ' Church of God , they had a serious problem. it was one thing to meet and fellowship with people who never knew the Truth, but to meet with someone who knew the Truth and then rejected it was forbidden by the Church's teachings. So they wrote to the Bell Lane Church and Edward Stinnet. (The old Worldwide Church of God had a copy of this letter.) Edward Stinnet wrote back and said, "You are not to meet with these people, they have rejected God's Holy Sabbath Day." So now they were only attending with the Baptists sporadically. They never made an uproar in the Baptist Church , and never created confusion in the Baptist Church . But none-the-less, this avoiding of the other 4 must have created some friction with the Baptist Church they fellowshipped with, for on December 11, 1671 Obediah Holmes, assistant pastor of the Baptist Church in Newport , gave a sermon attacking the Sabbath. Ruth Burdick was the only Church member attending. [Ruth Burdick is the ancestor of a friend of mine, a former member of one of the congregations of the Worldwide Church of God.  He is now the elder of the small independent Sabbath-keeping house-church I currently attend in North-Central Massachusetts.  Burdick’s, many of them pastors, virtually fill their main graveyard in Westerly Rhode Island, as you’ll see in the next section.] She went directly to Steven Mumford's house and told the others.
          So they met on December 16, 1671 to talk with John Clarke the Baptist minister, and Obediah Holmes, and asked, "What should be done to rectify this problem?" They were told, "Reject the Sabbath or you can no longer commune with us." Finally Tasey Hubbard spoke up and said, "This is what I say, we must keep God's 7th Day Sabbath no matter what the consequences." Their fate was sealed. On December 23, 1671 these seven remaining members founded the 1st Church of Sabbath-keepers in America . They did not call themselves 7th Day Baptists. They adopted NO official name or doctrines, but simply agreed to follow everything in the Bible.

What have we witnessed here?

 Now something needs to be said here about what many believe about the these early Sabbatarian believers who called themselves “the Church of God , Keeping the Commandments of Christ”, ‘”the Church,” or simply “Sabbatarians”.  Going back to the Inquisitions instituted in France during the 1100s, Waldensian Sabbatarians and Sunday observing Ana-Baptists alike were being slaughtered at the behest of the pope.  Remnants of these two groups did end up in England , not just the Sabbatarian Lollards.  These Lollards and those who followed preached up a storm, preaching both the gospel and the need for Sabbath observance, and their preaching was effective.  Even though these two groups were separate and never a part of each other doctrinally, but because the Sabbatarians often fellowshipped in Baptist congregations, it was thought they were another extraction of the Baptists.  Some church historians, viewing recent historical evidence of this Baptist/Sabbatarian Church of God mixing have interpreted the facts this way, labeling the Sabbatarians as just another form or persuasion of Baptist.  But I beg to differ.  I offer that Baptist churches apparently proved to be very fertile grounds for Sabbatarian evangelism, drawing out converts while fellowshipping in their midst.  Also, some wish to lump Baptists in with all the other British Protestants, which came from the Separatists and Puritans.  Baptists themselves in England were never Separatists.  Separatists, by definition were those who had been in the Church of England but felt compelled to separate out of the Church of England.  Baptists had never, ever, been a part of the Church of England.  Baptists had come from France along with Sabbatarian believers, and again, had never been a part of the Church of England.  So Baptists could never be Separatists, even though they were often lumped in together with them.  What we see in the actions of Stephen Mumford was that he was merely following an evangelistic practice that was already extant in England , that of fellowshipping with Sunday observing Baptists and then winning some of them over as converts to Sabbath worship.  In fellowshipping with Baptists, there was one less major doctrinal error to wean their new converts of, and that is infant baptism.  The Baptists and Sabbatarians both believed in adult immersion for baptism.  All the other Christian persuasions, Separatist, Puritans and Church of England believed in infant baptism, usually by sprinkling water on the infant being baptized.  To convert Sunday observing Christians, whether real or the nominal ones from the Church of England, involved a major doctrinal makeover and re-education of this new convert.  But to convert a Baptist into becoming a Sabbatarian Church of God believer involved merely the change of one’s day of worship from Sunday to Saturday, and sometimes including the Holy Days of Leviticus 23 in place of Christmas and Easter.  So Sabbatarians fellowshipping with Baptists didn’t make them a part of the Baptists.  It made the Baptists a target of Sabbatarian evangelism, and this is what we observe first hand taking place in Newport , Rhode Island .  Although Sabbatarian pastors were adept at evangelizing the unsaved masses, as the Lollards proved, they also used this method, both in England and in the Colony of Rhode Island.  In a way, this form of evangelism was similar to the way the apostle Paul would go into Jewish synagogues and preach Christ to the Jews, and with much success.  As the synagogues in Asia Minor proved to be fertile ground for the Apostle Paul, likewise the Baptist churches proved fertile ground for Sabbatarian evangelism, as Sabbatarians fellowshipped within their midst.  Also in one historical account, it says that Stephen Mumford was a member of a Baptist congregation in Tewksbury , England , based on an early letter discovered from Mumford to someone in this congregation.  But in the history article written about Mumford by the Seventh Day Baptists themselves, an Edward Townsend of the old Natton church, near Tewksbury, became the pastor of the Cripple Gate Church of God congregation in 1727, so this congregation in Tewksbury was probably Sabbatarian, because these Churches of God would never appoint a Baptist pastor over one of their Sabbath observing congregations.  Some church historians have tried to call Mumford a Baptist citing this letter he wrote to a congregation in Tewksbury , England .  But all subsequent evidence points elsewhere.  Quoted from “THE TIMES OF STEPHEN MUMFORD”, an article written by the Seventh Day Baptists and available online, “Stephen Mumford was a member of the Bell Lane Seventh Day Baptist Church [Bell Lane Church of God, as it would have been called in 1664], and so he could not but witness to his faith among the Baptists of the New World.  He persuaded a number that the Fourth Commandment should still be kept, and they had to separate when they found it impossible to continue in fellowshipping with the other Baptists who opposed the truth for which they stood.  Thus he was the human instrument used by God to establish our denomination in America where it succeeded in taking root and in expanding, while unfortunately the cause declined in the country from which he came.”  As a matter of fact, Mumford had strong ties to the Bell Lane Church of God.  Around 1674 “Stephen Mumford returned to England to report the actual conditions in Rhode Island and invite others to this haven of rest.  He succeeded in persuading William Gibson to return with him….Gibson became assistant to the first pastor of the Newport church, William Hiscox, one of the first converts made by Mumford.  When Hiscox died in 1704, having been pastor for 33 years, Gibson succeeded him.  It was under Gibson that the First Seventh Day Baptist Church [ Church of God , Keeping the Commandments of Christ, Meeting in Hopkinton] was organized in 1708 as the denomination began to move westward.”  This William Gibson had been an active member in the “Bell Land Church of God.” [ibid, see .]

Map of Historic Sites and Ancient Cemetery on Farewell Street , Newport , Rhode Island

The Church records are to be found in 3 old books in the Newport Historical Society vaults:

  1. The Church in Newport , 1692 (a copy of the oldest)
  2. The Church, 1708 (original from 1708)
  3. The Church in Westerly , 1708 (a copy).

, Messiah, making the body of Christ truly one.


After Steven Mumford's death in 1707 there were many waterings down and changes which started to take place in their fundamental beliefs. On March 2, 1708 they apparently changed their observance of Passover from the yearly Bible observance of it on the 14th of Nisan to a monthly or bimonthly event. Here is a quote from their Church minutes: "it is ordered and appointed that the last Sabbath in every month, the time of breaking of bread, it is also agreed that if by reason of the season, or otherwise the Church neglect the breaking of bread at any of the times appointed, then they shall break bread the next Sabbath after, except at the time of the yearly meeting." I.e., they appointed a time each month to observe 'The Lord's Supper', or Passover. This is the 1st appearance of this in any of their records, one year after Steven Mumford's death. As of 1708, Rachel Langeworthy was the only one of the original 7 still alive. They now had 40 members and Will Gibson was their minister.

Historic thread

One recently discovered historic thread connecting the Waldensian believers with the Sabbatarian believers in England, and then in Rhode Island:  “The Third Lateran Council took place under Pope Alexander III, Frederick I being emperor….it condemned the Albigeneses and Waldenses (Catholic Encyclopedia).  The famous inquisition began in 1233 in southern France , when Pope Gregory IX charged the Dominican order with wiping out Cathari and others not approved by the State church.  A family was discovered that can trace their roots back to southern France, a family condemned by the Third Lateran Council, and made it through all of this and eventually made it to America .  Richard Nickels of the Church of God Seventh Day ( Stanberry , Missouri ) relied on multiple sources to uncover this and reports:

Roswell F. Cottrell.  He descended from a long line of Sabbath-keepers; the Cottrells were an Albigensian family or clan of southwestern France….The Cottrell family of England was descended from John Cottrell the Norman, one of the few survivors of the devastating Albigensian Crusades.  In 1638 (two years after Rhode Island plantation was founded by Roger Williams), Nicholas Cottrell came from England and settled in Rhode Island .

The Cottrell name is found among the earliest Church of God people (later Seventh Day Baptist) people in America .  John Cottrell was a member of the “mother” church in Newport , Rhode Island in 1692.  Nicholas and Dorothy Cottrell were members of the Westerly Church ( Rhode Island ) in November 1712.


After photographing the old cemetery, and then their meeting house that held 2,000 members in Hopkinton , Rhode Island , while driving away from it toward Route 95 we passed either a mansion or plantation with the name Cottrell on it, and it was owned by the local historical society. This may have been the property of the children of Nicholas and Dorothy Cottrell, or maybe their actual dwelling.  We didn’t have time to stop, as it was running late.  We had searched in vain for their tombstone.  But the Cottrell presence was all over Westerly , Rhode Island .  In 300 years one family can grow large.

We’ll get back to the Cottrell’s a little bit later, as they provide a very interesting connective thread between the Waldensian era, all the way to the Church of God Seventh Day (headquartered in Stanberry, Missouri), which denomination Mr. Herbert Armstrong was a minister in for a brief period of time.  They’re an interesting family, to say the least.
          1715/16: Joseph Crandall was ordained a minister. In the written record of the ordination ceremony it stated, "Being an example to the flock, and when the chosen Shepherd shall appear you shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away." They still believed in the resurrection to Immortality at Christ's 2nd Coming, and not the 'doctrine' of going to heaven when one died.

1729: In 1729 they built their first meeting-house, in Newport , Rhode Island .  They called the buildings they met in 'meeting-houses' and called themselves 'the Church', 'Sabbath-keepers', or simply 'The Church of God'. All the Sabbath-keeping meeting-houses followed this style. Up until 1882, this building and all their buildings had no steeples or crosses. It had a pulpit and front door right next each other. If you were late everyone knew it. There was no way to sneak in. This building held 45 people, and the highest Newport attendance reached 75 people. It has really fine carvings and woodwork and is now a part of the back of the Newport Historical Society Building .

“The soul and spirit of the Newport Sabbatarian church lives on in the lives of countless men and women in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and the Pacific coast, who trace their spiritual lineage back to those who founded the Newport Seventh Day Baptist church in 1671 [when it was called “the Church of God, keeping the commandments of Christ”].  They are reminded of their religious foundations by the carefully persevered meeting house in Newport, built in 1730.  The Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House is significant not only for its architecture, but also as a reminder of the importance that its members had in Newport and American history: “This beautiful and architecturally significant interior was and is a symbol of the wealth, education and talent of the congregation’s distinguished members.”  The Newport Seventh Day Baptist church was not able to weather the storms that shook it, but it scattered the seeds further than any could have imagined over three hundred years ago.” [Newport History, Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society, Vol. 66, Part 1, Summer 1994, Number 226, Seventh Day Baptists in Newport, Their History, Their Meeting House, p. 32, par. 4.]

“The meeting house had twenty-four box pews on two levels.  The main floor had four in a cluster in the center, four along the west wall, three along the east wall, one on the right of the pulpit against the north wall, and one on either side of the front entrance.  The pew box to the right of the entrance was reserved for strangers.  In the gallery there were four smaller boxes along the railing on the west side, three along the middle section, and three along the east gallery railing.  The stairway to the gallery occupied the southwest corner of the meeting house.  There is no known record of the names of the pew holders, but as indicated by Maud Howe Elliot, the Ward family had a reserved pew and other prominent families certainly followed the common practice of renting or even buying their pew space.  One report indicates that the pews “in the east gallery were occupied by colored people.”  The church records contain the names of a number of African-Americans and Indians who were baptized and accepted as full members of the church.
          Although C. H. Greene may have viewed the box pews as advantageous for keeping one’s eye focused on the pulpit, their primary advantage was conservation of heat.  Few meeting houses were heated adequately, so each family brought foot warmers (metal boxes filled with live coals), and a boxed-in pew preserved the warmth.  The box pews also provided a sanctuary for children, and adults, who might find diverse amusement or even fall asleep during the normal two hour sermon.  “Long and tedious must have been the sermons in former years,” wrote Getrude Ehrhardt Elliot in 1930,
For even today may be plainly seen initials carved in the railing.  This was not because the pastor lacked knowledge of the fleeting hours, for there was before his very eyes hung the clock made by William Clagget, a worthy member of the Sabbatarian congregation in 1731 and an excellent clock maker of that period.
That clock still hangs on the center balcony railing of the Meeting House.”  [ibid. pp. 32-33, par. 2-3, & 1 resp

1740's: It was during the 1740's that both Richard and Samuel Ward were Governors of Rhode Island. The Church is quick to claim them as members as they started seeking credibility in the world's eyes, but Richard Ward didn't become a baptized member up until 9 years before he died, (1754), long after he was out of political office and politics, reflecting the Church's belief in that baptized members should have nothing to do with politics. Richard Ward died in 1754. Mary Ward, his wife was a baptized member for 55 years (1713-1768) and died October 19, 1768.

1769: In 1769, August 5th, Samuel Ward wrote a letter stating to the Westerly Church of God, "...believes in God the Father, and God the Son, and the power of God's Spirit (showing he doesn't believe in the Trinity Doctrine), all the Holy scriptures, which excepting the ceremonial law and some part of the judicial law peculiar to the Jews, it is the duty of all mankind to whom they are made known, sincerely to believe and obey. [I.e., both the Old Testament and New Testament]. My sins I have sincerely and heartily repented of, and firmly rely upon the unbounded goodness and mercy of God, and His only begotten Son, Christ for pardon and Eternal life. And I sincerely desire and resolve by His grace for the future to walk in all the Commandments and Ordinances of the Lord. Signed, August 5, 1769, Sam Ward. Samuel Ward was a member of the Continental Congress. He died March 26, 1776. He died just days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which he probably would have signed. There is no record of Samuel Ward ever being baptized. [Samuel Ward who wrote the music for, " America the Beautiful."]

1765: A college was founded in 1765 called ' Rhode Island College ', in Warren , Rhode Island . It was founded by 7 men, 4 of which were Sabbath-keepers. They were: Sam Ward, Joshua Babcock, Joshua Clark (the pastor in Westerly ), and Job Bennet. The college was originally founded to preserve religious freedom. Today the college is Browne University located in Providence , Rhode Island . It has 2 fine libraries where some of our research was done. They are the Rockefeller Library and the John Haye Library. It was in 1770 that the college was moved to Providence and renamed Browne University .

“The Revolutionary War had considerable effect upon the diverse congregations of Newport.  As a leading seaport with an exceptionally good harbor, the British were quick to occupy the town.  Trinity Church was depleted after the British evacuated Newport in 1779 because many of its members were Loyalists.  Other places of worship were used by the British as barracks or hospitals.  Some were even used as stables for horses.  However, the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House was undisturbed.  Tradition holds that the church was spared because of the presence of the Ten Commandments behind the pulpit and the design on the underside of the sounding board, which resembled the Union Jack.  Others believe that several prominent members of the congregation were sympathetic to the British.”  [ibid. p. 33, par. 2]

1780's: The Church of God in Newport dies out, but it had moved westward to Westerly and Hopkinton , Rhode Island .


The photo above is a small former Sabbatarian meeting-house we found opposite Hopkinton Post Office, on the same road that leads to their much larger meeting house in Hopkinton.


1672: In 1672 Ruth Burdick, Bathia and John Clark, were the 1st 3 Sabbath-keepers to start the Church in Westerly , Rhode Island .  [Located on High Street in Westerly .]

1680: In 1680 a little north of Westerly , with 20 members, they built a building (meeting-house) that would hold 1,000 people. This Church preceded the building of the town of Hopkinton , Rhode Island . They founded that town. They continued to call themselves 'The Church', or 'The Church of God', or the ' Sabbatarian Church ,' but never registered their name. They refused to register their name (i.e., have an official name) because to have an official name, they felt, would mean that they would have to seek sanctions from the State, because they felt they had a higher sanction, and that was from God. That is why they never registered their name. They simply called themselves 'The Church', 'The Church of God', or 'The Sabbatarian Church'.

1757: In 1757 the town of Hopkinton was founded. [The year Fort William Henry was burned to the ground by the French at Lake George . (See historical note, page 55.] 90% of its' inhabitants were Sabbath-keepers. These Sabbath-keepers founded that town. Sarah Mumford, granddaughter of Steven Mumford, is buried in the area.


The Sabbatarian Cemetery in Hopkinton , Rhode Island

We found this plaque next to the main Church building in Hopkinton, the one that was built to hold 2,000 members.


1812: Dr. Joshua Babcock, member of the Church, and friend of Benjamin Franklin, died. His friendship with Franklin caused the rumor to take root that Franklin was a Sabbath-keeper. Ben Franklin was never a Sabbath-keeper.  We found the headstone of Anna Babcock, and it mentioned Dr. Joshua Babcock on it as well.



1816: As of 1816 they still haven't adopted the official name 'Seventh Day Baptists'.

1818: In 1818 the name 'Seventh Day Baptist' was officially adopted as the name of the Church instead of the Bible name, ' Church of God .' It was also in 1818 that they reached their highest membership level with nearly 2,000 members in Hopkinton , Rhode Island alone. Meeting-house Bridge, 2 miles from the cemetery ( Hopkinton Cemetery , original location of the meeting-house), is where they brought everyone to be baptized. This bridge was the only crossing of the Pawcatuck River from Connecticut into Rhode Island (at this point). People who lived in Connecticut had to walk up the Pawcatuck River 5 miles to cross this bridge to go to Church. Boom Bridge Road and Boom Bridge , 5 miles down the river, was a short-cut they used to get to services. Boom Bridge was originally a tree that had fallen across the river. Some would cross this tree and walk to services. People who fell in the water would show up wet. This is why, if you didn't show up at Sabbath Services 3 Sabbaths in a row, after the 3rd Sabbath all the ministers showed up at your house the very next day to ask 'why?'.

What follows is the plaque we found next to Meeting House Bridge , adjacent to the Hopkinton Cemetery .

1835: This meeting-house they walked 5 miles to, the current meeting-house they meet in, was built in 1835 at the current location of the Hopkinton Cemetery . It holds somewhat less than 1,000 people. They sold pews to finance the building, so the people ended up owning their own pews. This caused some heated encounters when the Church had to disfellowship some members from time to time. How could you tell a person not to attend when he owned his own pew? It was now his own personal property. 1852: In 1852 they moved their present building (built in 1835) by dragging it on oxcarts 5 miles, from the cemetery in Hopkinton to its present location in Ashaway , Rhode Island .

1840: At this date the Pawcatuck Church was built (on High Street , Westerly , Rhode Island ).


This church building we found, much by accident (or divine guidance, which seemed to be unusually active this day).  While we were photographing the outside of the building a girl came running across the street and asked us what we were doing.  We explained, and she invited us to go across the street into their church offices and speak with their elder Sr. Pastor, a Rev. Leon R. Lawton, a most wonderful man.  He proceeded to take us into the church building for a photo-tour.  It was fairly large, I would say it could have seated 1,000 people.  The sanctuary was upstairs, while kitchen and function rooms, and class rooms were downstairs.  Hundreds of clear windows were throughout the building, windows of ancient glass.  The building had the date of 1840 on it.  Pastor Lawton said currently there were forty members meeting regularly on the Sabbath, and that he also pastured a group of Jamaican believers who had moved from Boston into the area.  Sadly, they are short of qualified pastors and have to invite pastors of other churches to preach on occasion, and at times they teach doctrine contrary to their beliefs.  These people are lovely people, gentle and kind, and yes, genuine Christian Sabbatarian believers.  Their numbers are down from their heyday of the 1800s, but they’re still alive spiritually.  These buildings are beautiful, and the quality of the woodwork is truly marvelous.  He freely gave of himself and some of the booklets out of their library, whatever we were interested in.


1705: In 1705, 2 years before the death of Steven Mumford (and probably while Passover was still observed on the 14th of Nisan), a few members went down to Piscataway , New Jersey , and founded a Church there. They called themselves 'The Church of God , Keeping the Commandments of God in Piscataway New Jersey .' They met in the house of one Benjamin Martin. Edward Dunham was sent back to Westerly , Rhode Island for his ordination with 'the laying on of hands' ceremony. The Piscataway Church of God's beliefs were as follows: 'We believe that unto us there is but one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ who is the Mediator between God and mankind, and that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God.' (I.e., they rejected the 'Trinity' doctrine of Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism.) They believed in the Old Testament and New Testament. They believed in the Ten Commandments being written by God, they believed in the 6 principles of Hebrews 6 (i.e., the laying on of hands, healing, the resurrections, the ordinance of baptism, etc.) They believed in the keeping of the Lord's Supper (although it doesn't say how often. This is something we'd like to find out.) They believed in Church Government. And they believed that baptism should be by immersion. These are the basic beliefs of the Church as written down in 1705.

Their first record in their old book is as follows: "The Church of God, Keeping the Commandments of God and the Faith of Jesus Christ, Living in Piscataway and Hopewell, in the province of New Jersey, being assembled with one accord at the house of Benjamin Martin in Piscataway, the 19th day of August, 1705, we did then and with one mind chose our dearly beloved Edward Dunham, who is faithful in the Lord, to be our elder and assistant according to the will of God, whom we did send to New England to be ordained. Who was ordained at the Church meeting in Westerly , Rhode Island by prayer and laying on of hands by their elder William Gibson the 8th of September, 1705." As it was stated earlier "On March 2, 1708 they apparently changed their observance of Passover from the yearly Bible observance of it on the 14th Nisan to a monthly or bimonthly event." This ordination of Edward Dunham occurred 3 years earlier. Piscataway was far enough removed from Rhode Island that they just might have held onto the proper observance of Passover on the 14th of Nisan.  We get the following quote  from “Conscience Taken Captive, A Short History of Seventh Day Baptists”, p. 12, par. 2,

 New Jersey 1705, Piscataway, in northern New Jersey , was the third birthplace of Seventh Day Baptists in America .  [remember they weren’t calling themselves this in 1705, and this congregation probably never did].  In 1705 Deacon Edmund Dunham, a leader in the Baptist church, saw Hezekiah Bonham doing “servile labor” on Sunday.  Thinking it was his Christian responsibility, Dunham reprimanded him for breaking God’s law.  Bonham demanded scriptural proof that the first day was holy by divine authority.  Edmund Dunham accepted the challenge.  He not only searched the Bible himself for proof he assumed must be there but enlisted members of his Bible class to join him in the study.  Out of this study he and 17 others became convinced of the validity of the seventh day Sabbath and began meeting in the Dunham house.  Most continued membership in the Baptist church but the subject was so fundamental that, for the sake of peace, the Sabbathkeepers withdrew.  They entered into a covenant agreement on August 19, 1705.  Edmund Dunham was selected as pastor and sent to Rhode Island where he was ordained at Hopkinton by the Newport church.”

What we see here, and this is by extrapolation of the facts, and obviously the Seventh Day Baptists have interpreted the facts differently, we’re all dealing with the same facts---but we see that these early Sabbath observing “Churches of God, Keeping the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ” for the most part had such a friendly relationship with their harvest field, the Sunday observing Baptists, that eventually in 1818 they took on the name Seventh Day Baptists---and actually came to consider themselves a part of the Baptist movement, and not the Sabbatarian movement they had originally come from by way of England and France.  This friendly relationship to their harvest field was so strong at times, even in times of the Newport Church of God, that William Hiscox actually pastured the 1st Baptist Church started by John Clarke when they didn’t have a pastor.  From “Conscience Taken Captive”, p. 14, par. 2 we get:

“The Newport Baptist Church , from which the Seventh Day Baptists had separated, was without pastoral leadership in 1694.  The records show that they voted to “place themselves for a time under the ministry of Rev. Mr. William Hiscox of the 7th day Church.”  During much of the 18th century a chapel located on the shore of Green End was shared by several Baptist churches in Newport for their baptismal services.   Elder William Bliss of Newport helped preserve the Baptist witness during the period of British occupation in that city as he visited and encouraged members [obviously Sunday observing Baptist members] of pastorless churches in the area.”  [Elder Bliss was and Elder in the Newport Sabbatarian Church of God during this time.  I believe his gravesite is in the cemetery in Ashaway , Rhode Island .]

One other point that should be made here, and that is that Pastor William Hiscox was non-Torah observant and recognized Sunday observing Christians were believers as well, by the very fact that he preached for the 1st Baptist Church in Newport when they didn’t have a pastor.  Most of the Sabbatarian Church of God believers viewed their Sunday observing Baptist neighbors as genuine brothers in Christ.  Although they themselves were strict Sabbatarians, they were non-sectarian and had not cut themselves off from serving the greater Body of Christ.  These revivals, although growing smaller in number, are by no means dead spiritually, but are genuinely filled with the love of Christ, and continue onward down the path Jesus Christ has laid out for them.  I am indebted to Pastor Lawton for his love and help in freely giving of his time and Church history of the Seventh Day Baptists.

Westward Movement From New Jersey

But the real identity of the “ Church of God , keeping the Commandments of God” went south, first to Piscataway , New Jersey , and then west where eventually many of these migrating members formed into what is now the “Church of God Seventh Day.”  We see this because the Church of God Seventh Day recognize their true identity going all the way back to the Albigensians and Waldensians in France (understanding the prophetic meaning of Revelation 2-3).  Whereas the Churches of God in Rhode Island since 1818 called themselves from that point onward “Seventh Day Baptists”.  The Churches of God in Rhode Island truly carried the torch of the Sabbatarian Churches of God to America from England, and then handed it to those moving westward across America, those who now call themselves “The Church of God Seventh Day.”  From  Conscience Taken Captive”, pp. 17-18, par. 2-3 & 1 resp. we get:

West Virginia and Ohio Migrations, One of the most dramatic examples of Seventh Day Baptist migration occurred in 1789 among members of the Shrewsbury church in northern New Jersey .   [this would be while they still went by the name Church of God ]  Members of the church voted to sell their house of worship and migrate west.  Ten families left by wagon train on a journey which eventually ended in the wilderness of western Virginia .  They were joined by others from Piscataway and the Philadelphia areas so that about 70 people participated in this exodus.  They stopped for a time in Fayette County , Pennsylvania where a church had been established at Woodbridgetown by members from the Piscataway church and local converts among Baptists.  [See, they’re still working their Baptist harvest field for converts!]  From this gateway to the frontier, the exodus moved south up the Monongahela River to Ten Mile Creek.  In 1792 the Salem , West Virginia church was constituted, although the record book treats it as an extension of the Shrewsbury church.  Over the next century more than a dozen churches were located among the hills and runs of West Virginia at places such as Lost Creek (1805), Middle Island (1832), Berea (1870), Greenbrier (1870) and Roanoke (1872).  From this areas of western Virginia (which became the state of West Virginia during the Civil War), a stream of migration crossed the Ohio River into the Old Northwest Territory .  Seventh Day Baptist settlements were made in Ohio at Todd Fork, Mud Run, Mad River and North Hampton where a church was established in 1837.  Other churches followed at Jackson Center (1840), Port Jefferson (1840), Stokes (1842), and Sciota (1842).  From these churches the migration continued across Indiana , Illinois and Iowa .  They moved with others and settled in the Great Plains area.”

So we can see that many of these members, far removed from Rhode Island , carried the torch of identity and doctrine to what developed into the Church of God Seventh Day, headquartered in Stanberry , Missouri .
So we follow the Sabbatarian Churches of God from France , to London , to Newport , Rhode Island , to Westerly , to Piscataway , New Jersey . From Piscataway, the active thread goes to Marion Iowa, and from there it goes to Stanberry , Missouri . From Stanberry , Missouri the thread goes to Oregon where Mrs. Herbert W. Armstrong was convinced by a Mrs. Runcorn, a Sabbath-keeper in Oregon , affiliated with the Church of God Seventh Day out of Stanberry , Missouri , that the 7th Day Sabbath should be observed. [The Church Mrs. Runcorn may have been a member of was called the 'Scravel Hill Church of God', in the Willamette Valley , in Oregon .]

People who often try to say there is no connective thread between the Sabbatarian Churches of God of Rhode Island and the Church of God Seventh Day, and then to the Worldwide Church of God, or the Sabbatarian Churches of God in and around London and the Sabbatarian Waldensians, Cathars and Albigensians in southern France, and later Holland cannot account for a little, but very revealing connective thread provided by a family who has kept good records of their origins, or others who have managed to find those origins.  Such is the case with the Cottrell family, researched by a Church of God Seventh Day historian.  The Cottrells were originally of Albigensian stock, and escaped from the devastating carnage of their people, who, along with them were condemned under the Third Lateran Council.  The Inquisition began in 1233 in southern France , when Pope Gregory IX charged the Dominican order with wiping out Cathari and others (Albigenians and Waldensians) not approved by the State church.  Richard Nickels of the Church of God Seventh Day relied on multiple sources to uncover:

Roswell F. Cottrell.  He descended from a long line of Sabbath-keepers; the Cottrells were an Albigensian family or clan of southwestern France….The Cottrell family of England was descended from John Cottrell the Norman, one of the few survivors of the devastating Albigensian Crusades.  In 1638 (two years after Rhode Island plantation was founded by Roger Williams), Nicholas Cottrell came from England and settled in Rhode Island .

The Cottrell name is found among the earliest Church of God   (later Seventh Day Baptist) people in America .  John Cottrell was a member of the “mother” church in Newport , Rhode Island in 1692.  Nicholas and Dorothy Cottrell were members of the Westerly Church [of God] ( Rhode Island ) in November 1712.

Roswell F. Cottrell, born in New York , was sixth in the line of descent from the original Nicholas Cottrell.  Several Cottrells were Seventh Day Baptist preachers.  Roswell was reared in a Sabbath-keeping family and observed the Sabbath all his life….the Cottrell family left the Seventh Day Baptists because the Cottrells refused to believe in the immortality of the soul.  Original Sabbatarian Baptist ( Church of God ) leaders were outspoken against the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and were derisively termed “soul sleepers” by their opponents.  But the belief in the immortality of the soul eventually crept into Sabbatarian Baptist teachings through men such as William Davis.

After leaving the Seventh Day Baptists, the Cottrells were known as “Seventh Day Christians”.  A good-sized group of believers was raised up, whose membership were sometimes called “Cottrellites”….But in 1851, through Joseph Bates and Samuel Rhodes, now Sabbath-keepers, Roswell, his brother and his father John accepted Adventist teaching.  Roswell became a leading Adventist minister and writer.

During the debate over a church name, Roswell F. Cottrell stood for “ Church of God ”.  He was not able to attend the Battle Creek Conference of 1860 when the church name was selected, but his article “Making Us a Name,” published in the Review and Herald of March 22, 1860 was counted as support for the group that opposed organizing under the name Seventh Day Adventists.  In the Review of May 3, 1860, he wrote, “I do not believe in popery; neither do I believe in anarchy; but in Bible order, discipline, and government in the Church of God” (Nickels R.C. Six Paper on the History of the Church of God .  Giving & Sharing, Neck City , (MO), 1993, pp. 161-162).

So we find for around 700 years, we have the continuous line of one family,  who were first Albigensian Sabbatarian ( Church of God ), English Sabbatarian Church of God, Rhode Island Sabbatarian Church of God, and then ended up with the Church of God Seventh Day in the Midwest , when they could not continue with what became the Adventist church.  Those that left the Adventists left over change of doctrine and church name, and remained a Sabbatarian Church of God, whose name became The Church of God Seventh Day.  What they briefly say about their history on their website is:

Our beginning… .The Church of God (Seventh Day) grew from the efforts of dedicated advent believers living in Michigan and Iowa in the late 1850’s.  In 1863, the Michigan church began to extend its influence into the eastern and central U.S. through a publication called The Hope of Israel.  This magazine invited fellow Christians to assemble at conferences and campmeetings, and created interest in their distinctive doctrines: the second advent [coming] of Christ and the seventh-day Sabbath.  Through these means, the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day) was organized in 1884 and incorporated in Missouri in 1899.  Its offices were located in Stanberry , Missouri , until 1950, when they were transferred to Denver , Colorado .  Over the years, The Hope of Israel also moved from Michigan to Iowa , then to Missouri .  After several name changes, it is now known as the Bible Advocate.  More than 100 years later, this flagship publication of the Church continues to be published and mailed ten times a year from Denver offices (   ).


The Cottrell Family, An Excellent Example

The Cottrell family is an excellent example of how certain tight knit groups of Sabbatarian Church of God believers more or less maintained the same set of beliefs.  And whenever the beliefs of the Sabbatarian Church of God they happened to be attending changed or got watered down, they would then move on, at times fellowshipping amongst themselves.  Certain of the Cottrells thus moved from the Churches of God in Rhode Island to the Midwest, bringing with them their Church of God identity and the doctrinal understandings which had originally come from England , and before that, France .  We find the 7th Day Adventist movement formed out of these of Church of God members who were migrating west from New Jersey and New York , at the time the Cottrells were also moving into the Midwest .  Some of their number along with some of these others developed into the 7th Day Adventist movement, taking on that name, while some of their group, which had become somewhat large (even being called Cottrellites) became part of and founding members of what became the Church of God Seventh Day, which preserved more of the original Sabbatarian Church of God beliefs which had originally come from London via Stephen Mumford.  So we see how the original Sabbatarian Church of God beliefs moved west, almost unchanged, first from France , then to London , then to Rhode Island , then to the Midwest and Stanberry , Missouri .  Around the time of 1925 or 1926 Mrs. Herbert Armstrong met a Mrs. Runcorn, who attended a local Church of God in Oregon that was an affiliate of Church of God Seventh Day, headquartered in Stanberry , Missouri .  She convinced Mrs. Armstrong of the Seventh Day Sabbath.  Six months later Mr. Herbert Armstrong was a baptized member of that church, and then became a pastor in their churches.  So that is how we see that the Sabbatarian Churches of God in the Colony of Rhode Island are truly “our heritage”.  Mr. Herbert Armstrong became a pastor for several years within the Church of God Seventh Day, before he was inspired to start a work of his own.  The following quotes show that process and how it came to take place.

Here is what Herbert Armstrong said about the Church of God Seventh Day and why he left them (taken from the 1973 edition of his autobiography):  “The only Church I had so far found which “kept the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ,” and at the same time bore the NAME of the original true Church, was this almost unknown little Church of God with its small publishing house in Stanberry, Missouri” (Autobiography 1973 ed., page 312).

“….So, as the first step in this test, I wrote up an exposition of some 16 typewritten pages proving clearly, plainly, and beyond contradiction that a certain minor point of doctrine proclaimed by this church, based on an erroneous interpretation of a certain verse of Scripture, was in error.  This was mailed to the Stanberry, Missouri , headquarters to see whether their leaders would confess error and change.  The answer came back from their head man, editor of their paper and president of their “General Conference.”  He was forced to admit, in plain words, that their teaching on this point was false and in error.  But, he explained, he feared that if any attempt was made to correct this false doctrine and publicly confess the truth, many of their members, especially those of older standing and heavy tithe payers, would be unable to accept it.  He feared they would lose confidence in the Church if they found it had been in error on any point.  He said he feared many would withdraw their financial support, and it might divide the Church.  And therefore he felt the Church could do nothing but continue to teach and preach this doctrine which he admitted in writing to be false.  Naturally, this shook my confidence considerably.  This church leader, if not the church itself, was looking to people as the SOURCE of belief, instead of God!  Yet, here was the only Church holding to the one greatest basic truth of the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ, kept in the NAME of God, and in spite of this and a few other erroneous teachings, nevertheless being closer to the whole truth than any church I had found.  If this was not the true Church of God , then where was it?” (pages 315-316).

“….This Umapine experience was one more in which no fruit could be borne as long as I teamed with one of the ministers of this church, connected with, or springing from the Stanberry, Missouri , political center.  Years later, still in my search for the one true church, still questioning whether this could be that church, still not having found it elsewhere, I asked Mrs. Runcorn (whom Mrs. Armstrong and I looked upon as our “spiritual mother”) if she could point out a single real bonafide convert, brought in from the outside, resulting from the ministry of any of the preachers affiliated with “Stanberry.”  She thought seriously for quite a while.  Then she slowly shook her head.  She knew of none.  I asked several others who had been in the church for years.  Their answers were the same.” (page 385).

….This was the crossroads---the final pivotal, crucial test before the living Christ began opening the doors of mass communication through which GOD’S WORK at last could come to life after centuries of sleeping, and go forth in mighty power to all the world, preparing the way before Christ’s return to earth as Ruler over all nations.  I did not fully realize, then, that this was a crucial turning point in the history of the Church of God .  My wife and I did not leave the Church.  This was God’s Church.  Of that I was not, then, completely sure.  They came closer to Biblical truth than any other---but I was seriously disturbed by their lack of power and accomplishment.  What actually was happening, though we did not understand it then, was that a NEW ERA was dawning in the history of the [Sabbatarian] Church of God .  The words of Christ are quoted in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Book of Revelation, foretelling the history of God’s Church in seven successive eras, or phases.  [Interestingly, the Stanberry Churches of God believed the same interpretation of Revelation 2 and 3, as apparently the Waldensians did as well.]  Events since that time have revealed [this] was the transition for ‘ Sardis ’ (Rev. 3:1-5) into the beginning of the ‘ Philadelphia era’.  Mrs. Armstrong and I continued to fellowship with these brethren.  I continued to work with them, and with their ministers, as far as that was possible.  The lay brethren continued to look to me for the leadership of getting the Word of God going to the world.  But from all that “all-day wrangle” I was independent of them and their ministers, financially.  From that time I was dependent solely, on God.  We did not ask or solicit financial contributions from any except those who voluntarily became financial co-workers with us.  And that has been the policy ever since.” (page 385).

So that is a description, in Herbert Armstrong’s own words, about why he left the Church of God Seventh Day (headquartered in Stanberry, Missouri ).  It was because of two things, doctrine as well as the fact that he felt the Church of God Seventh Day was not following what should have been its top priority, and that is proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness.  Herbert Armstrong considered that the Church of God Seventh Day was [the continuation of] the group in Revelation 3:1-10, the representatives of the Sardis era of the Church of God .

Here is a question and answer from the Church of God Seventh Day’s website on Herbert Armstrong.

What connections did the Church of God (Seventh Day) have with Herbert Armstrong?---Herbert W. Armstrong was a licensed minister of the Church of God (Seventh Day) for several years in the 1930’s.  He was personally known by many of the Church’s ministers at that time and worked in cooperation with them.  In the late 1930’s, Mr. Armstrong left the Church to begin his own work, which became known as the Radio Church of God and later the Worldwide Church of God.



In 1927 Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Armstrong came into contact with the Church of God Seventh Day in Oregon , when Mrs. Armstrong met a Mrs. Runcorn, a member of the Scravel Hill Church of God in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  We have already read about that early connection between the Church of God Seventh Day and what became the Worldwide Church of God.

Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and The Worldwide Church of God, a snap-shot of the early Church

 First let’s look at the phenomenon that was Mr. Herbert Armstrong. Where most have misjudged him and the Worldwide Church of God (which he began in the early 1930’s and led until his death in 1986) is that most have not taken the long-range historic view of either him nor the Worldwide Church of God.  Looking back into the early Judeo-Christian churches in Asia Minor that existed for the first 300 years of the Church Age, recent history has discovered that the early Church in Asia Minor and as a whole for the first 250 years was basically Jewish in practice of days of worship, as well as racially.  Then came the Greco-Roman church under Constantine in 325AD, banning any and all Jewish practices in the churches that were “allowed to continue” in Asia Minor.  [see for a more comprehensive study of this period of time in early Church history.]  God obviously wanted a “snap-shot” picture of his original early “Churches of God” preserved down through the ages, to our time now.  Amazingly, for whatever reason, that is what has occurred.  [See for a comprehensive study of this history.]  Now, as recent Church historians have discovered, the early Judeo-Christian churches in Asia Minor were decidedly non-Torah observant.  (That term is defined in the study right after this one.)  But how would God preserve a historic snap-shot of these early Judeo-Christian Churches of God that had spread all over Asia Minor from the mother Jerusalem Church, preserving for us a near exact copy?  How would God preserve this copy through all the pressures of the Greco-Roman church under Constantine and later, the Roman Catholic Church?  How would he prevent this snap-shot copy from syncretizing the belief system of this pagan-Gentile church which was annihilating the Judeo-Christian churches in Asia Minor?  Historically, the answer is obvious, looking back.  He would have to make his snap-shot copy Torah-observant, believing the full Ten Commandment Law of God was still in full force for believers.  In a sense, God had to make his snap-shot copy hard-shell to all outside efforts to change it and it’s belief structure.  Looking back through all the different era’s of the Sabbatarian Churches of God shows they resisted successfully all efforts from the outside to force them to syncretize other belief systems.  Now when you look at Herbert Armstrong, along with the Worldwide Church of God, one is forced to take a different view, and cast off the popular view that he was a cult-leader of a legalistic cult-church.  Taking into account that God has amazingly revived the Jewish branch of the Body of Christ within a short historic span of time (1970 to 2005), to where there are close to 500,000 Messianic Jewish believers, this snap-shot of the early Judeo-Christian churches in Asia Minor becomes even more relevant.  We Gentile Christians have been all too guilty of misjudging what we don’t fully understand.  It is God who raises up Gentile Christian and Messianic Jewish churches and denominations, and it is God who preserves them.  And it is God who lets the older “revivals” die out.  So let’s try to view this history you just read, and Mr. Herbert Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God properly now, through the lens of  their own church history.  Remember, the Church that Jesus will establish during his Millennial Kingdom age will be very much like these Torah-observant Sabbatarian Churches of God, as both Zechariah 14:16-19 and Isaiah 66:23 clearly show us [taken in context with verses 7-22 of Isaiah 66].  God’s full Old Testament law, as magnified by the New Testament, will be in full force as the “Law of the Land” for the whole world, as Jesus reigns from Jerusalem as King of the whole earth (Zechariah 14:9).  In light of all that, we should take a closer look at Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God that was under his leadership.  But also realize, Romans 14 very clearly spells out the freedoms we all have in Christ, making “days of worship” an optional choice “during the Church Age.”  Careful reading of Romans 14 shows the believer has freedom in Christ to chose whether he or she desires to adhere to the Old Testament version of God’s 10 Commandment law, or the New Testament “law of Christ”, which is basically 9 of the 10 Commandments, with choice of “days of worship” being optional.  During the Millennial Age it will be different, reverting back to Torah-observancy.  That is what the Bible shows us.  Don’t like it, take the matter up with God.  Them’s the facts, folks.  Take it or leave it, doesn’t change them. 

Irenaeus (177AD)


During the first three hundred years of the Christian Church a pitched battle raged against the heresies of Gnosticism and Adoptionism and those that were spreading them into the congregations.  Many of the early Church leaders after John would start to draw up the battle-lines between the orthodox and heretical.  Polycarp was John’s trained disciple.  He trained a disciple named Irenaeus, another Jewish Christian, who then moved up into the region of Gaul and was a Bishop in what became Lyons in 177-178AD.  He wrote five lengthy books defining the heresies that were attacking the Church.  He was the Christian Church’s first major apologist.  He wrote a number of books, but the most important that survives is the five-volume On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis, normally referred to by the Latin title Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies).  Book I talks about the Valentinian Gnostics and their predecessors, who go as far back as the magician Simon Magus.  Book II provides rational proof that Valentinianism contains no merit in terms of it’s doctrines.  Book III shows that these doctrines are false by providing evidence from the Gospels.  Book IV consists of Jesus’ sayings, and stresses the unity of the Old Testament and the Gospels.  The final volume, Book V, focuses on more sayings of Jesus plus the letters of Paul the Apostle.  Irenaeus recognized the legitimacy of the church in Rome, which at this time had apparently not become an apostate church yet After 325AD this all changed, but at this time the Judeo-Christian congregations and Gentile Christian congregations existed peacefully, side-by-side, recognizing each other and working with each other.  All the genuine Christian churches were busy fighting these heresies and those who brought them into their congregations.  These heresies had torn into the early Judeo-Christian churches, just as John and Paul had warned, noting especially what Paul said, that when he departed, he said grievous wolves would tear into the flock.  The nature of what become the Catholic Church would all change by the 300s AD.  Irenaeus is claimed by the Catholic Church as one of their early “fathers” to this day.  As stated Irenaeus was a Jewish-Christian, and was a student of Polycarp, who was said to have been tutored and discipled by John the Apostle.  It’s interesting, Irenaeus give us in these five volumes a sort of snap-shot picture of what the early Judeo-Christian, and even Gentile Christian churches believed, which modern apologists might label heretical, sort of proving my point that heretical beliefs should only be those that complicate the simple gospel of Christ, and nothing more. 


Early eschatological beliefs of the Christian Church as recorded by Irenaeus


Irenaeus gives us a vivid snap-shot of early Judeo-Christian eschatological doctrines, which should not surprise ex-members of the Worldwide Church of God.  “Irenaeus identified the Antichrist, another name of the apostate Man of Sin, with Daniel’s Little Horn and John’s Beast of Revelation 13.  He sought to apply other expressions to Antichrist, such as “the abomination of desolation,” mentioned by Christ (Matt. 24:15) and the “king of a most fierce countenance,” in Gabriel’s explanation of the Little Horn of Daniel 8.  But he is not very clear how “the sacrifice and the libation shall be taken away” during the “half-week,” or three and one-half years of Antichrist’s reign.”  Small wonder he wouldn’t understand some of this, as these events are due to occur about 2,000 years later.  Irenaeus is at the early end of the Church age, and we now are at the end of it.  “He also understood that Rome, or some form of the Roman system, would be extant at the time of the 2nd coming of Christ.  Like the other early church fathers, Irenaeus interpreted the three and one-half “times” of the Little Horn of Daniel 7 as three and one-half literal years.  Antichrist’s three and a half years of sitting in the temple are placed immediately before the Second Coming of Christ.” 


Early beliefs about the Millennium


“Irenaeus declares that the Antichrist’s future three-and-a-half-year reign, when he sits in the temple at Jerusalem, will be terminated by the second advent [2nd coming of Christ], with the resurrection of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the millennial reign of the righteous.  The general resurrection and judgment follow the descent of the New Jerusalem at the end of the millennial kingdom.”  Well, he got the order a little mixed up, as Revelation 20:11-13 shows the general resurrection taking place, and Revelation 21:1-17, after that event, shows the descent of the New Jerusalem---after the lake of fire, and the new heavens and earth are created.  “Irenaeus calls those “heretics” who maintain that the saved are immediately glorified in the kingdom to come after death, before their resurrection.”---i.e. he does not believe that the spirit-in-man component within humans remains conscious upon death when they rise to God in heaven, but as Ecclesiastes teaches, the spirit of man rises to God, but is unconscious, which is often called the doctrine of “soul sleep”.”  So Irenaeus and the early Church during his lifetime believed that believers were to be brought back to life and made immortal at the time of the 1st Resurrection, spoken of by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:49-56.  The doctrine of “the immortal soul” was considered Biblically inaccurate and heretical by the early Christian Church, and don’t forget this is a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John.  So what Irenaeus pens in these five books, these beliefs here, were the doctrinal beliefs of John and the other 11 apostles, as well as those of Paul.  “He avers that the millennial kingdom and the resurrection are actualities, not allegories, the first resurrection introducing this promised kingdom in which the risen saints are described as ruling over the renewed earth during the millennium, between the two resurrections.”  “Irenaeus held to the old Jewish tradition that the first six days of creation week were typical of the first six thousand years of human history, with Antichrist manifesting himself in the sixth period.”---Wow!  No wonder his concepts of what the end-time Roman government, or some form of it, were fuzzy.  He knew he was 1800 years away from that event---“And he expected the millennial kingdom to begin with the second coming of Christ to destroy the wicked and inaugurate, for the righteous, the reign of the kingdom of God during the seventh thousand years, the millennial Sabbath, as signified by the Sabbath of creation week…he applies Biblical and traditional ideas to his descriptions of this earth during the millennium….”  i.e. he’s relying on Old Testament prophecies that describe that millennial period, such as found in Isaiah.  He saw the millennial period bounded by the two resurrections.  You know, I learned most of this information when I first became a member of the Worldwide Church of God, which was under the leadership of Herbert Armstrong at the time.  Now isn’t that a kicker?  Most other Christians and apologists like to paint him as being a fringe cook, a cultist (heretic?).  But here is described the eschatological beliefs of the early Church, and undoubtedly the apostles themselves, as recorded by the first and foremost apologist of the Christian Church.  So we see reflected in what Irenaeus wrote in his five books, as he battles heresies John and Paul also battled, the very same beliefs the early Church of God in Jerusalem believed, which are the same beliefs taught and believed by the Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Armstrong.  So what should we conclude from this?  Secondary beliefs, in such areas as prophecy, soul-sleep verses immortality of the soul, are not to be considered on the list of what makes beliefs orthodox or heretical.  We must go by what Paul taught, and that is simply that anything that complicates the simple gospel of Christ is to be considered heresy.  Personal or denominational beliefs about prophecy or immortal soul verses soul-sleep, even teachings about heaven and hell, all fall within the realm of secondary teachings, and can and do differ amongst the various denominations that make up the body of Christ.  Apologist’s beware, you must not aim your gun-sights on other denominations and groups just because they disagree with you on these secondary items I have just listed.  For years you have hammered at the Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership, calling him a heretic, and you were wrong in doing that.  [Be sure to click onto the Homepage nav button “Why Orthodoxy?” when it appears on the site.  It will reveal a lot about these early battles against those two major heresies that tried to destroy the early Christian Church.]

To read the first volume of Herbert W. Armstrong’s autobiography, which describes the early years of the Worldwide Church of God and how it got going, log onto .  This link goes to another Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God’s website.  Although, being a non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God believer, which makes me not believe some of what is on their site, they have accurately reproduced the “Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume I” at that link. 

(Historical note to page 51, "1757:...": Few realize that Satan even tried to wipe out the Church of God in the United States through a bold invasion plan by French General Montcalm, which if successful would have made all of New England from New York City to the top of Maine part of the French Empire, a Catholic empire. Even New Jersey , where the active thread had taken root would not have been safe, being only a short distance from New York and the Hudson . The French, if they had gotten that far, would have intensified their efforts militarily. Fort William Henry is a colonial version of "The Alamo ." It threw a vital six-day delay on Montcalm which caused him to cancel his invasion plans which would have taken him successfully to New York City . Read these quotes taken from a historical flyer printed by The Fort William Henry Historical Society. (Emphasis mine throughout this quote.)

" Fort William Henry was constructed at the southern end of Lake George in 1755 by Major-General William Johnson and a group of colonial volunteers. The British military strategies designed the fort as a key northern defense of the colony of New York . It would also serve as a launching point for future military operations against the threatening French empire to the north. Finally, the fort would guard the portage between the waters of Lake George and the Hudson River to prevent any large scale French invasion. This portage was a vital link in the water route from Montreal to New York City...In August of 1757, the most brilliant French General of the colonial period, the Marquis de Montcalm, sailed up Lake George with a force of 8,000 crack French regulars, a large party of Indian allies, and Canadian volunteers. With the capable assistance of the Chevalier de Levis, Montcalm masterfully deployed his troops and artillery train of 32 pieces. Once their cannons were in siege position, the French expected the fort to surrender rather then engage such an impressive army in battle. When an easy capitulation was not forthcoming, Montcalm initiated a brutal assault with great vigor and much skill. The defending garrison, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel George Munro, consisted of 2,000 men. In addition, there were numerous women and children from neighboring settlements who sought refuge within the safety of the fort's walls. After a siege of 6 days, Colonel Munro realized that the structure of the fort was near collapse and holding out any longer would be impossible. Yet by withstanding the French onslaught for such an extended period, the British had time to mass troops further south. After Colonel Munro surrendered, Montcalm recognized that any attempts to continue his expedition further south would be futile. The terms of capitulation included a promise of safe passage for the beleaguered English who were able to make the trip to Fort Edward . This greatly mystified and angered the Indians who had accompanied Montcalm from Canada for the sole purpose of securing English scalps. Montcalm, underestimating the ferocity of his Indian allies, had detailed but a small guard of French regulars to escort the garrison to Fort Edward . As the pitiful column of unarmed survivors marched down the military road, the Indians could be restrained no longer. Although the precise number of Englishmen killed during the massacre may never be ascertained, historians agree that it constituted one of the bloodiest pages of colonial American history. Following the massacre, Montcalm razed the fort and covered the charred remains with sand. The site remained untouched until the present project was begun in 1953."

So the next time you attend the Feast of Tabernacles at Saratoga Springs, New York, visit Fort William Henry and remember that the Church of God owes those buried there on the grounds a debt of gratitude for stopping Montcalm. Fort William Henry was our ' Alamo ', defended for us by those who didn't even know the true reason why they were inspired to resist so tenaciously. It was God who inspired this tenaciousness and military foresight in Lieutenant-Colonel Munro, for reasons beyond what he could have realized.



So that is where I sincerely believe the Worldwide Church of God comes from. Currently the Worldwide Church of God now believes it has historic evidence linking it back to the English Separatists of the 1630's, which I believe is a totally inaccurate interpretation of church history.  The Separatists of England (my ancestor was Elder Brewster, so I ought to know a little bit on this subject) were never Sabbath keepers, but observed Sunday as their “sabbath”.  Although the developing Separatist/Puritan movement may have crossed paths and shared common ground on English soil with the Sabbatarian Churches of God, the threads of their origins were never quite the same as the Sabbatarian Churches of God which came from the Lollards evangelistic preaching ministries.  A few stalwart Sabbatarians had obviously “crossed” the Channel from Europe into England in the 1300s.

Judging from the mostly Torah observant doctrinal interpretation each of these revivals shared, which was not part of the new covenant doctrinal beliefs of the Apostolic Church of God from the 50's A.D. to the 300's A.D., these revivals appear to be revivals of Jewish Christians who didn't go along with the major doctrinal decisions made at the Jerusalem council of Acts 15 (and explained by Paul in Romans 14). For some reason God preserved this often persecuted group of Torah observant Sabbatarian Christians as they were harassed from Turkey into Europe, then England and then into the United States. God doesn't always chose to leave the identity of his people, whether national or Apostolic Church of God, in the hands of secular and oftentimes hostile historians.
Don't forget what I said in the beginning. These Sabbatarian revivals were not numerically large, but very small at best. This is a footnote in Christian history. I believe it is our footnote, but it is merely a footnote at best. But the important thing it shows is that Jesus, for some reason beyond our wisdom, not only allowed but actually participated in the raising up of Sabbatarian revivals from the 3rd Century all the way up to and through Mr. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God. As you can see there are huge gaps between revivals of these Torah observant Sabbatarian Christians.  But there is also a connective thread, sometimes historically visible, sometimes not, between one revival and the next.  That thread between the early Sabbatarian Churches of God in Rhode Island was indeed Mrs. Runcorn out in Oregon .  The Cottrell family shows us there were viable connections going all the way from southern France to England to Rhode Island and finally to Stanberry, Missouri. The revivals of these Torah observant Sabbatarian Christians were also numerically small, i.e. each revival was not particularly large in number of members. But they did all share a spiritual/doctrinal/ideological kinship. If there truly are seven era's of these Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God believers there must also be seven major revivals of the Gentile Christian Church.  If Jesus has used Revelation 2-3 to plot both Sabbatarian Church of God revivals and Sunday observing Gentile Christian revivals, it is most interesting, because we believed we were the Philadelphian era in the Worldwide Church of God. The Calvary Chapel affiliates of Costa Mesa , California believe the spiritually active and alive Gentile Sunday observing Christians of today are the Philadelphian era.  Then under Joe Tkach Sr. God brought the Worldwide Church of God from being a Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God into being a non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God.  This may seem insignificant to most Christian readers, but it is not really insignificant, for recent highly qualified church historians have uncovered evidence that the early Judeo-Christian churches in Asia Minor for the first 300 years of their existence, after 50AD, were almost all non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Judeo-Christian churches.  So, under Joseph Tkach Sr. the Worldwide Church of God had become---in 1995---the very first non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God in 1700 years!  But very suddenly, Mr. Tkach Sr. died of cancer in that very same year. This same Worldwide Church of God remained a non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God for about five or six years, until Joe Tkach Jr. brought them over to observing Sunday/Christmas/Easter as their “days of worship”.  Are there any non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God in existence after Worldwide’s change-over to Sunday/Christmas/Easter?  That remains to be seen.  Tens of thousands of non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God members were “squeezed” out of Worldwide because they preferred to keep observing the Sabbath and Holy Days voluntarily, as Romans 14 allows, and as the early Judeo-Christians had for the first 300 years of Church history in Asia Minor .  Where are those tens of thousands?  Scattered to the spiritual four winds, so to speak.  As I said before, it is a very interesting and recent discovery that the early Christian church in Asia Minor for the first 300 years was basically Judeo-Christian, and racially, mostly Jewish, with an estimated 3 million members.  These were all or mostly all non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Judeo-Christians.  (We have already seen that the early Rhode Island Sabbatarian Churches of God recognized Sunday observing Baptists as being genuine believers as well.  But they were Torah observant in the strictness of following the letter of the Old Testament Sabbath Commands.)  So the early Church of God in Jerusalem and Asia Minor was almost totally non-Torah observant for the first 300 years, even though they observed the Sabbath and Holy Days of Leviticus 23, and probably the dietary laws as well, voluntarily.  To read an excellent research study on early church history log onto:  To read more about what a modern Sabbatarian Church of God is like, continue reading.

Prophetic beliefs

"The Worldwide Church of God under the late Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, and presently the splinter Churches of God that split off from the Worldwide Church of God after 1995, both held and hold basically a Classic Pre-Millennial view of prophecy which include some unique interpretations about the "unsaved dead" not embraced by most Christian denominations. These are the beliefs of three major splinter groups that broke away from the Worldwide Church of God, as well as the "old" Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Armstrong. These are totally secondary to the central gospel of salvation--i.e. one is totally free to believe or disbelieve what is presented, without it affecting one's salvation in the least. The study is merely being presented to show another view on the subject of heaven & hell and the Millennium. CLICK HERE to view the study. You will find it most interesting. You don't have to believe it."


In this Sabbatarian Church of God history section you could sort of glean what their doctrines were, and the link above shows what their prophetic beliefs essentially were.  But to gain a more complete understanding of what a Sabbatarian Church of God is like, what they believe that’s the same, and what’s different, go to the next section.  You will find it fascinating.