In order to give a proper perspective of the history, intents, purposes and goals of A Congregation of God, A Free Church (ACOG), it is needful to give a brief history of myself, Darryl Henson, and events that led to the founding of ACOG with me as its pastor.
My family began listening to the World Tomorrow in about 1952 when I was eight years old. We began attending all holy days in Big Sandy right away. A family occurrence compelled us to move to Big Sandy in
1958 where I graduated in 1962 from Imperial High School, run by World-wide Church of God (WCG). Four years later in 1966 I graduated from Ambassador College in Pasadena and was ordained into the ministry of Jesus Christ (now we use Immanuel) by Herbert Armstrong and all the evangelists at Pasadena joined him in laying hands on me.
Prior to that, at the beginning of my Junior year I had received a vivid, short, frightening dream. It was as if Christ told me if I went into the ministry, I would likely be killed sometime in the future and asked if that was acceptable to me. I said yes. End of dream. That was the first memorable dream I had ever had, and while it was disquieting, I went on with life. Shortly thereafter I was invited to lead hymns in church, added to the sermonette list and later appointed Student Body President, whereby I got to know Mr. Armstrong fairly well personally, and then on into the ministry.
I was married upon graduation, but there were some political problems that led to difficulties in the marriage. As students we were not supposed to be seriously involved with anyone until the second half of our Senior year. That is hard to time perfectly! I had rekindled an interest in a girl I had known since high school and we were getting serious. Then in a forum, all students were told to break off any relationships unless they were second-semester Seniors. We broke up.
But I had a friend who WAS a second-half Senior and we began dating.
She got approved to date me. At some point I realized my affections were still much with the original girl. About then, HWA castigated a student for breaking a girl's heart and told us not to ever do that in a very strong letter. So I went ahead and married but my heart was not in it.
Years later it had affected the marriage and my ministry and life greatly and I went to HWA for counsel. He apologized for his part, but stated that nonetheless, I had defrauded the girl I married and fired and disfellowshipped me for fraud. He also annulled the marriage and told us both to date and remarry. He said that once my life was back in order, he wanted me back in the ministry.
Some have questioned my current qualification for the ministry due to the annulment and divorce. I bring up this whole episode in order to show that God must have passed on the situation or was willing to forgive my errors and sins in life as He later gave me some startling revelations that led me back into the ministry. It would never have happened had He not been willing to show forgiveness and mercy.
I later remarried and we moved to Alaska where I earned my own living and did quite well for twelve years. During that time, I had become involved as half-owner of two manufactured home dealerships and a subdivision in Pahrump and Las Vegas, Nevada, commuting from Alaska. We added another dealership and bought a subdivision in Beaver Dam, AZ, near St. George, Utah, which I personally oversaw.
It was in Beaver Dam in 1994 that I received another very vivid dream or maybe vision as I awakened. The message was that I was to prepare a place for His people “near here.” I thought, who me? Why me? But it was repeated so I took it to heart and began looking around in the area for what the meaning might entail. Later that year, I sold out of the business and went back to Alaska.
I had been involved for some time with John Ritenbaugh of Church of the Great God and in 1995 he hired me to move to North Carolina and work with him in the ministry. I arrived and reported for duty January 1, 1996. About two weeks later, I had another vivid dream about the books of Haggai and Zechariah. Immediately I began a vigorous study of the meaning of those two books. God began to show me that almost all the prophecies of the Old Testament were dual in the sense that they referred first to the church, spiritual Israel, and secondly to the nations of physical Israel.
In a nutshell, the scattering and spewing out of WCG and the spiritual famine, pestilence and sword that destroyed that church would later come on the nations of Israel on a physical level—and that is about to happen as we see world-wide economic collapse accelerating as I write.
So first the prophecies apply to the church, then to the nation.
The message of Haggai is that a ten per cent remnant of the church will be gathered together to work with the two witnesses of Revelation
11 and Zechariah 4 to build the latter temple and rebuild Jerusalem in its original place prior to three and a half years of preaching the gospel to the world as a witness before Christ returns, even as physical Israel will be scattered in captivity during that time.
I was sent to Chicago to conduct Passover in April 1996, a few months later. There, on Passover Day, I was awaking from a nap when I saw a vision. It was technicolor and very vivid again. Two maps appeared, side by side. One was of Utah and continuing South. One was of Israel in the Middle East. The perception was that they were mirror images of each other, many features being similar, but that the Utah map was real and the Middle East a fake. Zion National Park was a main feature of the Utah map. It was scary, but precipitated a deep study of Utah.
A short time later another short dream showed a group of people going down a ridge on foot into Zion National Park from the North. I was with them. End of dream. Shortly thereafter, another short dream showed that we could go East into Petra or West down into Zion. We went to Zion.
In short, God had showed me that the area “near” Beaver Dam was Zion and that He would gather His people to this area. That is where He wished the place prepared for them. I traveled to many church areas for Church of the Great God (CGG) and every time I came West, I searched all over the four corner area for a place God might show me to prepare a place—a piece of land not too far from Zion which is in the original promised land of Abraham.
John Ritenbaugh visited Zion in Dec. of 1996 and said this may be the place, but not yet the time. He later moved me to Colorado to continue the search, though he considered and then declined to move the church.
He had a recurring dream of many years about a trolley car that his family was very familiar with. Prior to my leaving Charlotte for Colorado, he had another. This time he got off the trolley and he and I were standing together. There was a little house on a hill and my perspective as he told the dream was that it was on my right or West of me and that it was dark. He and I separated to each find a way to the house. We took separate directions and both found the back door.
As we went in, the lights came on and it was a large gathering of people. End of his dream.
A calendar controversy ensued in CGG and in July of 2000 we separated as I no longer could follow the Hebrew Calculated Calendar. I had no plans to start another church as it seemed to me there were plenty of splinters of WCG already. I did make plans to go to Zion for the Feast of Tabernacles (FOT) as I now realized that was the true Zion. I did not yet know the location of the original Jerusalem, but have since learned that it is just North of Zion as the Psalms state very clearly.
Meanwhile, I began to receive calls from around the nation, mostly from people I did not know or ever heard of who had been listening to my Minor Prophets series in CGG, explaining the real meaning of the prophecies, particularly in regard to the church itself. They asked where I was going to the Feast. I told them Zion. They asked if they could come also. They asked for a phone conference so that they might listen as I finished the Minor Prophets series apart from CGG. I agreed and held the first conference call on Feast of Trumpets in Sept. of 2000. The headquarters “congregation” consisted of my wife and I and Andy Benedetto. 70 people showed up at Zion for the Feast and asked me to be their pastor, so we went from three to seventy.
Those who attended had begun to see from many scriptures, that the end-time remnant of WCG was to depart from the middle of Babylon and gather at Zion. I continued to search for “the place.” At the Feast in
2001 I brought a load of household goods with me and found a house in Kanab, Utah to rent. Others began moving shortly thereafter. Most of us stayed in Kanab and others helped me in a search for a piece of land God would make available for us to prepare for the time the ten per cent remnant would gather. We would be a set-up crew for the bigger gathering to come.
A good property candidate showed up during the Feast in 2002 and I went to look at it after the Feast and thought it could work. Upon my meeting with the owner, he immediately lowered the price before I even asked. He then offered a lower interest rate than I had even considered negotiating. The 110 acres was priced at $300,000, but he then offered to sell it for only $5000 down. I immediately wrote a personal check. The terms were so gentle it was almost a gift—just as John Ritenbaugh had told me years earlier it must be in order to see God's hand in it. Sure enough!
Please understand that God's church has always been hierarchical, overseen by the ministry God ordained. This was true in the church in the wilderness with Moses and has been in every age, including the NT church with Peter the chief apostle and the other apostles working under his authority, Paul included.
I made the decision to buy the land for God's express purpose of preparing a place as He had instructed in the dream. We are a Free Church, not a worldly 501c3 corporation, which is overseen by corporate law and the state, even to the point of closing some churches who teach against abortion or homosexuality, etc. The State has no jurisdiction over a Free Church. So we have no board of directors and board of deacons who hire and fire ministers. I was commissioned directly of God to prepare a place near Zion. As the one given the direction, He also placed me in charge of the operation and I formed A Congregation of God, A Free Church to fulfill His purposes on the piece of land He provided.
I was deeply committed to preserve it in a way that outsiders could not buy lots and move in on us. The Fair Housing Act has a clause that states churches can discriminate in this manner. Additionally, I determined that it should not be sold as it was a gift from God for His purposes. The church and the land were inextricably bound together to accomplish what God instructed me to do.
On the day of closing the purchase, Dec. 7, 2002, I wrote a letter to all members in Utah and around the country offering anyone who desired, a lease on one acre each if they wished to move out and join the project. The letter mentioned a lease several times, not once hinting at a purchase option, which I had not intention at all of offering so as to prevent future sales of lots to non-members. I prepared a lease that was specifically designed with that in mind. The lease was for 49 years with the intent of giving security, but also preserving the land intact for God's use. No offer of eventual ownership was made as people understood why it should be that way.
None of use expected (expect) this age to continue that long in any case.
Immanuel the Christ personally directed me via dream, vision and scriptural instruction to find a place for Him to use. He led and directed me to form A Congregation of God, A Free Church as a continuing part of the original church He founded while on earth with the apostles as its directors. I was duly ordained into His ministry by Herbert Armstrong in apostolic succession. Therefore as founder under Christ, pastor and signatory from its beginning, I declare that the original intent for purchasing this piece of land in Cane Beds, AZ to prepare for the gathering of Christ's remnant was to keep it sacrosanct from the infringement of the world at large, reserved for God's own remnant. The original intent of the lease I wrote was to prevent subdivision and sale of any portion of the land. Those present in the church at the time, read, accepted and signed the lease, most of them in late January 2003. Others signed and accepted later. All have lived under the lease, most have complied with its financial stipulations and accepted it as their security for a 49 year period, short of their violating its terms.
Some, in recent months, have lost confidence in me as pastor of ACOG and left its fellowship, not attending and withdrawing any verifiable financial support of the church, such as tithes, other than the lease stipulations. Now, after adhering to the lease all these years, they suddenly “remember” that they were promised ownership at the beginning. Most of those protesting for ownership were not even here at the beginning. How would they know what was originally promised?
They also read, accepted, signed and lived by the lease, but now are lobbying for ownership and subdivision which was never offered and appears on no documents in any form.
I do not wish to air our dirty laundry in public beyond this, but feel a statement which will be posted on our website, is now necessary to establish original intent, as evidenced by letter and lease documents, that this hierarchical church, governed solely by God through His ordained ministry and not “majority opinion” intends to preserve the land purchased for God's purposes to be retained for those purposes. A subdivision with potential sale of land, has never been a part of those purposes. The church and its purpose cannot be separated from the land and its purpose. They are one and the same. Of course, since the land is in the name of the church, some are trying to take over the church to obtain the land.
There is no example in the bible, anywhere, of the nation of Israel or the New Testament church having a matter resolved by a majority vote of its members. All decisions have always been made by the patriarch in charge or the ministry in terms of the New Testament, first apostles, then prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
Paul states clearly in the book of Hebrews that the members were to OBEY them that had rulership/oversight/governance over them. The ministry.
The history of ACOG is not finished so I will stop here. But be warned that any who seek to take over God's land and His church may be found to be fighting against God Himself as indicated in Jer. 11 concerning a rebellion at Anatoth. I am truly frightened for any who might dare go there. This is not about Darryl Henson, a human and a sinner. It is about Almighty God in heaven and The Lord of Hosts and their purpose for this land.