That everyone who thirsteth for the truth may obtain it, these publications are, as a Christian service, provided without charge. They levy but one exaction: the soul's obligation to itself to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. The only strings attached to this free proffer are the golden strands of Eden and the crimson cords of Calvary - the ties that bind.
GENERAL ASSOCIATION OF
BRANCH DAVIDIAN SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS
THE 58th SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST
GENERAL CONFERENCE SESSION
June 30 – July 9, 2005
Dear Kingdom-bound Saint:
This is the Branch's first field report in many, many moons. Praise our heavenly Family: the Father, Mother, Son and the "glorious Star containing Jesus' new name" for Their resurrection power.
The Seventh-day Adventists held their 58th General Conference Session from June 30 to July 9 in St. Louis, Missouri. Two Branch literature evangelists, brothers Doug Mitchell and Steve Penners, were present at the conference the whole time. Their report follows.
Doug Mitchell drove up from Texas with some 750 lbs. of literature which we would be attempting to distribute in the next 10 days. Arriving the afternoon before the Conference was to start, and without any hotel reservations, he soon found that most all of the accommodations within a reasonable proximity of the St. Louis Convention Center had been booked up by the tens of thousands of Adventists who were planning on attending the Conference. Providentially he was led to a very nice motel which had just had a large party cancel their reservations, which allowed Doug to rent a room for 7 of the 10 days the Branch would be needing it. After a flight delay of nearly 3 hours, Steve Penners arrived at the St. Louis airport at about 2:00 a.m. that same evening. Needless to say, this was an indication that neither Doug nor Steve would be getting much sleep on the trip.
Estimates of the number of attendees ranged upwards of 70,000 on the final sabbath alone (although 40,000 was said to be the number after the day had actually passed). Representatives from among the 20 million Adventists worldwide had all come in order to help define the church's direction during the next five years. Few probably suspected that God has a message to give them under Jesus' new name – The Branch.
Many were surprised when we identified ourselves as Branch Davidian Seventh day Adventists who did not leave the church to follow Vernon Howell (David Koresh). Some had compassion for us and said things like, "Well thank God for that," while others were wondering how we could be so bold as to hold our heads up under the name The Branch after the infamy the Koreshians had brought upon that name. We had with us certified copies of a court document Howell had filed in 1985 wherein he identified himself as being the "President of the Davidian Branch Davidian Seventh day Adventists." Most of those who saw this document, and heard our brief explanation of Howell's attempts to destroy our Association, took our literature, saying that they would look at it to see what we actually believe and teach. A few others, though, were so prejudiced and closed minded that when they found that we represented The Branch, they either refused the literature, gave it back to us, and in one case, tore it up and threw it on the ground. Yet we have the promise that,
"The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly." Isaiah 32:4.
The Lords graciously allowed us to hand out an estimated 10,000 new and old studies that we had available. Those studies were:
Along with these we were able give out some of Lois Roden's Shekinah magazines, and her Merkabah, part 3. On all of the new literature we had the addresses to the Branch web site (http://www.the-branch.org) where those studies are posted along with many more by Ben and Lois Roden, Victor T. Houteff, E. J. Waggoner, A. T. Jones, Ellen G. White, some articles from Lois' Shekinah magazine, and others of Doug Mitchell's and Steve Penners' studies. The web site has been up for about a year and a half now. It is our intention to have all of Ben and Lois Roden's studies available there, along with other timely truth presentations, as soon as we are able.
"The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." Luke 10:2.
Our presence and testimony reached many more even if they did not wish to take a study directly from us. We most often stood on the streets outside distributing our materials, but also passed out many inside the convention center – in the very heart of the church as it were. From what we witnessed, of the scores of so-called offshoots and others who were distributing literature outside of the Convention center, we were practically the only ones who would even set foot in the building itself and distribute literature inside. This was in spite of the fact that our faces were certainly not unfamiliar to many inside from having seen us outside in the streets every day.
An example of a fruitful meeting on the street was when a sister was offered our study, The Only Safe Sex is Holy Sex. Steve later discovered that her ministry was to AIDs victims in Africa. Initially she had been reluctant to take the literature, but after a brief discussion of its import, she was greatly appreciative that someone was addressing these questions, and even shook Steve's hand in thanks. Uplifting experiences like these helped give us the needed strength to deal with less appreciative folk.
The convention exhibition hall was another fruitful field. The first day of the convention we visited many of the hundreds of ministry exhibits and, a fair number of studies were passed out to folks there, generally after a brief discussion on the subject. The many health-oriented ministries were a fruitful field for the Lord's Supper series. Others which had a burden for sexual morality and AIDS ministries warmly received the Holy Sex tract, along with others on the feminine Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost issue. Mark Finley of the It Is Written television ministry accepted The "I'm Being Religious About Eating" Diet – The Lord's Supper Part 3 study after hearing what it was about, and who we were. He cordially said he would prayerfully investigate it. Such was the case with many in the exhibit hall. But, of course, the Laodicean condition of thinking that they were "rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing," (Rev. 3:17) was also quite evident.
One sister raised her hands to heaven, her face aglow, and praised God after she received a copy of The Return of the Shekinah – Introduction to the Seven Thunders. Another sister from South Africa rejoiced to receive a fuller revelation of present truth. The Adventist Theological Society, some ministries to Jews and Buddhists, a group from Romania, and several others also received a heavy sprinkling of heavenly rain drops. When two of the Theological Society representatives working the booth learned that Doug was with The Branch, and was a firsthand witness to the works of Vernon Howell, they invited him to sit down with them for around 1/2 hour to discuss many questions they had about the Davidian and Branch teachings. One of the brothers kept asking him to join their discussion Society, but later realized that he didn't really meet their criteria, one point of which was paying tithes to the General Conference. Doug said that maybe they could consider him a "Guest Speaker" of sorts, but they indicated that the jury was still out on that one.
Among the other exhibits we visited was the one of Samuele Bacchiocchi, of whom we have a rather strong denunciation of his review of Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of The Christ. Doug had sent him a copy of the study a couple of months before the convention, along with another study, but Samuele had stated at the time that he was too busy to read them. At the convention, Doug gave a copy of The Passion of the Gospel – Gibson and Bacchiocchi, to his daughter, who had read some of it before we last saw her. He also asked Samuele what he may have said about John 19:14 (Christ being before Pilate at the "sixth hour") in his book on the events of Christ's last Passover week. He was quite weary at the time Doug asked him this question, and was unable to recall if he had even written anything at all on the matter.
Due to financial limitations, about half of the studies that we had just had printed for the occasion still required folding, stapling and stuffing. The combination of being far from our motel and the steamy St. Louis weather drove us to an act of faith which surprised us both, and maybe some others. During the hottest part of several days in a row we loaded up our hand truck with boxes of unprepared literature, wheeled it through the main entrance of the convention center, negotiated the crowded foyer, went up the escalator, and set up a literature folding, stapling, and stuffing operation on the second floor at a table in the midst of a dining area with many tables.
With literature intentionally spread across the table so the people walking by could see the titles, many curious truth seekers stopped to pick up some literature or engage in conversation. We continue to praise the Gods for not only giving us a wonderful respite from the hot and muggy outside weather, but also for the friendships and witnessing that came about through this providential arrangement. Of particular note were a large delegation from Ghana, a sister from Montreal, one from West Palm Beach, another from Kenya, two from New York and a group from Peru. Many others stopped by, but we did not find out where they were from.
The Branch messengers, however, were not only distributing literature inside, but also kept a number of the Dailies with the attending suppers of the Lords inside at those tables, and spent hours upon hours in plain view working on literature stapling and folding. Great be the power of our Intercessors, the Branch, He and She! One day a group of delegates saw us breaking bread after the Lord's manner, and came up to us to inquire about what we were doing. When they saw our box of unleavened bread which was called, Bible Bread, they became very curious, and sat with us for quite a while discussing the Lord's Supper and the issue of the feminine Holy Spirit. The latter issue was the one they dwelt the most on, as we later found out that in their country the worship of a feminine Deity was an ancient part of their culture. To our surprise, they showed no hesitancy in asking us to share our food with them, and soon we saw our somewhat limited fare dwindle rapidly. But Praise the Lords, there was enough for all.
Though God has a message for the church, He also has a message for the world. Several non-Adventists took copies of The Only Safe Sex is Holy Sex as they passed by us on the busy St. Louis downtown streets. One man said something to the effect, "I really need this!" In addition, that same booklet stuffed with four other studies was given to a parking lot attendant on our first day there. The next day he asked for four more copies to hand out himself as several Adventists had seen him reading it and asked where they could get their own copies. This young man was later moved to let us come into his parking lot several times when the lot was closed due to being full. He had saved a couple of spaces for "special people." By this providence our van was positioned virtually right in front of the main entrance to the convention center every day but one. This made resupplying ourselves with literature and getting other necessities, like drinking water, much easier and faster. There is no doubt in our minds that God lightened our burdens in this way so that we could spend more time and energy getting literature into people's hands.
The hotel where we stayed was booked full, with nearly all guests appearing to be Adventists. Speaking with a young Baptist woman who was working the desk one evening we found that she had no idea that SDAs were even Christians and believed in Jesus, in spite of the fact that so many had been staying there for a couple of days. We were able to witness to her, sharing with her the truths of the Sabbath, the Lord's Supper, and the feminine Holy Spirit, and leaving her with several of our pieces of literature. It seemed odd that it was a Branch representative who was used by God to shed light upon that matter with her, when the whole area was flooded with SDAs. But we praise the mighty Elohim that this sister has not only heard of the Sabbath truth, but of her heavenly Mother.
In God's providence, when the 7 days that we were allotted at the motel were about up, there was another cancellation, and we were able to stay there for the remainder of the convention, through the busiest weekend when many late arrivers were searching the area for lodgings. We believed that God wanted us at the convention, doing what we were doing, and these many providences all served to convince us that our calling was sure.
Another Baptist brother received The Only Safe Sex is Holy Sex and four other related studies on Steve's flight home. Steve had been talking to him about his experience of passing out literature for the past 10 days and the brother said, “Well maybe if you have been passing those out in St. Louis, you could pass that one out to me.” Steve was only too happy to honor that request.
Other interesting experiences included a reconciliation of sorts with one minister who had been a leader in firing Steve from his ministry in the SDA church many years ago. He ended up taking a handful of present truth literature as well. We will continue to pray for him. Some of the well known leaders of the SDAs took literature, while many passed it by. We must continue praying for them as well, as God continues to extend mercy and grace.
Doug met Clifford Goldstein, a Jewish convert to Adventism, at a street corner while he was waiting for the light to change. With many of the leading brethren standing by, Doug asked him if it was not true that the Holy Spirit is "feminine in Hebrew." This really shook up Clifford, and he threw his hands in the air and nervously danced away from Doug and said, "You can't do that to Hebrew." There were a few smiles in the crowd.
Among the many other groups that were there was a group that called themselves, Smyrna Gospel Ministries. They were passing out their literature along with that of someone named, David Clayton, from the West Indies. Their main burden was to show that Christ was literally "begotten" before He created everything, but they deny that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Their position is that the word "begotten" does not mean "birthed," but means something mystical like the Son exuded, or was exhaled, from the bosom of the Father, with no Mother involved. They were among the most active at the Conference, and were so numerous that they were able to distribute quite a bit of their heretical literature.
Ellen White spoke of the introduction of the pantheistic theories by J.H. Kellogg and associates around the turn of the 20th century as being the "Alpha" of the apostasy which was to come upon the Adventist church. She also warned that the "Omega" was yet to come and would be even greater in power to disrupt the work of God in restoring all things. Those pantheistic theories came in as a result of the church leaders mocking and rejecting E.J. Waggoner's 1888 teachings that Christ was literally born a Divine Being before coming to this world. Now that the church at large has also rejected the feminine, Motherly, reality of the Holy Spirit, which explains how Christ was literally "begotten" a Divine Being, the way is open for them to fall into the pit of teachings like those presented by the Smyrna group. Their literature presents many quotes from the early Adventist pioneers who were opposed to the Trinitarian doctrine, and downplays all of Ellen White's testimony about the Holy Spirit being a literal Person. May God have mercy on their souls.
Of the numerous so-called Davidian groups there, only the Waco group had a notable presence at the convention. While Steve said he met a couple of men from Don Adair's group, we did not learn of any who may have been from Bashan, or any of the other more prominent "100% Rod" groups. When meeting with some of the Waco group at meetings they were holding at a nearby hotel, and trying to have them explain how they could possibly be teaching the truth in the Rod message which states that its message is to be continually "unfolding," and how it clearly teaches that "... without the living Spirit of Prophecy in our midst there can be no success in any revival and reformation, and the sooner we know it the quicker we shall achieve our goal." (Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 10, p. 27), we received a response to the effect of "when I read the Rod, it is always unfolding to me."
Brother Houteff condemned that same type of thinking in the Adventists in regards to Ellen White's writings, calling it Shintoism (worshipping the dead prophets). Yet those professed Davidians are so bound up to those who are leading in their organizations, they can't even see that they are cutting apart the Rod message in order to sew fig leaves for themselves to cover their nakedness.
There was a Davidian who had asked Steve how many "Golden Pipes" there were in the Zechariah 4 Golden Bowl symbolism. Of course the answer is "two." But since Brother Houteff said that those Two Golden Pipes were "prophets," Davidians like that man change that into meaning "two prophets," which in their twisted logic means Ellen White and V.T. Houteff, and none others. As Steve had told Doug of his experience with that man, when that man later approached Doug and asked him the same question regarding how many Pipes there are in the symbolism, instead of answering that question, Doug told him that it says "prophets," not "two prophets," and that he should not add to the Rod to make it say what he wants to believe. He seemed somewhat disarmed, and said nothing else, and walked away.
What is ironical about this is that Brother Houteff said that no one seems to know how to properly keep the Lord's Supper, but that the Lord will show the Davidians how to properly keep it when He wants them to keep it among themselves again. But what they don't realize in saying that Ellen White and V.T. Houteff are the only prophets symbolized by the Two Golden Pipes is that neither of them will be around until the special resurrection which takes place at the time the saints are delivered by the voice of God, which gives them the day and hour of Jesus' coming (E.W. 285), and those who are then delivered are only those "who could wash one another's feet." (1T 59). The washing of feet mentioned there implies that the saints have been properly keeping the Lord's Supper prior to that time.
In that same paragraph there is revealed another distinguishing feature of the saints at the time of this deliverance. That is, "On their foreheads were the words God, New Jerusalem, and a glorious star containing Jesus' new name." Thus it is also seen that the saints will then have knowledge of Jesus' new name before they are delivered at the time of the special resurrection and the jubilee commences. So if Ellen White and Victor Houteff are the only two prophets who are to receive of the Golden Oil and let it flow into the Golden Bowl, the Davidians who cling to that private interpretation will not be keeping the Lord's Supper correctly, nor will they be sealed with the complete seal and then delivered, and brought into fellowship with Ellen White and Victor Houteff who will then take up their work anew in the kingdom.
Missing also were other "Davidians" who claim to be God's servant, the "David" of Eze. 34:23, who is to feed God's sheep and be their shepherd. Among these are David Anderson of California, and Jordan in Canada.
Ben Roden stated that while the SDA church could never become "Babylon" (though she could do worse than her), the "100% Rods" could become a part of Babylon. They are certainly on the road to such perdition, and are burning the bridge of Inspiration which could provide them an escape. May God deliver the honest among them as He did Lot before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah!
On another note, there was an Adventist man who said he was half Jewish, and was calling upon the Adventist men to let their beards grow. He calls his ministry "Total Restoration." His arguments are rather convincing. After all, Brother Houteff states that God gave Adam a beard as a symbol of his dominion (The Shepherd's Rod, Vol. 1, p. 56). Add to this the fact that, traditionally, angels are not portrayed as having beards. Therefore, the devil can be seen to be the one who wants men to look like him, or immature males, or women. It is certainly something to pray about.
There was also a woman there the first few days of the conference who was exposing the selfishness of some in the Adventist Health System. Her complaint was mainly focused on "Florida Hospital, a Seventh Day Adventist Affiliate." According to her, "Rodney Vega, the son of a Seventh Day Adventist Pastor," was "dying of a brain tumor" when "he was turned away" by the hospital "simply because he had no health insurance." She mentions that said
"not-for-profit hospital, acting in our name, has made over $167 million in PROFITS in just the last two years."
"They and their parent corporation have accumulated, and are sitting on, over $2,522,000,000 in cash, stocks, bonds, etc."
After a couple of days of protesting outside the conference, it was announced that the young man was to receive the help he needed. The reason we bring this up is because Ellen White speaks of the Lucifer Movement in Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 17, p. 30, and describes "commercialism" in the Lord's work as one characteristic of that "general movement."
On the final day (Sabbath) of the conference, a man named Denton Brunken showed up and was passing out his literature. What is notable about him is that he professes to be the "Elijah" of today, and traces his roots back through Verliss Johnson (who left the Branch when he came up with his Creation Calendar theory), and back to Ben Roden because of Ben having reinstituted the feast days and the Daily. In his writings he speaks out vehemently against the feminine Holy Spirit doctrine. But when he came up to Doug and introduced himself, and Doug mentioned that he was somewhat familiar with his position on things (and particularly on the Holy Spirit issue), and that he has seen people "close their probation" over the Holy Spirit issue, Denton quieted down and took some studies on the matter. The Lords know what the outcome may be.
What was most significant about who was at the meeting, and who was not, concerns those who profess to be successors to Lois Roden. None of the Koreshians were there that we know of. This was not surprising, though, for they have nothing for the church, nor anyone else for that matter.
Another one, Charles Pace, who not only claims to have brought the truth of the Holy Ghost Daughter, to the Branch, but who also claims to have a special revelation about the church no longer needing to keep the Lord's Supper daily, and that Christ is no longer shedding His blood in the heavenly Sanctuary at the times pointed out in the symbolic service, was not there either, sharing his so-called revelations with the church. This is significant because he has set up his headquarters on Mt. Carmel Center under the name "The BRANCH, The LORD (YHVH) Our Righteousness," which he at first named "Living Waters Branch Our Righteousness," in spite of the fact that Ben taught that
"now that the new name of Jesus has come, the name of God's true church is changed to MESSIAH'S NEW NAME and IT WILL NEVER BE CHANGED AGAIN since she (the church) is called by the Son of God's NEW NAME." Seven Letters to Florence Houteff, Ben L. Roden (1955) pp. 114, 115. And,
"The Branch is to be the name of God's church which brings the close of probation. Instead of Christian, or some other name, the Kingdom church throughout the world will be BRANCH – Praise ye the Lord." Ibid., pp. 63, 64.
Charles even went so far as to join the Koreshians in 1998 in their failed attempts to gain title to Mt. Carmel Center. He now calls himself, "Joshua Solomon Branch."
Though Lois published the first phase of her message under the name Living Waters (or, sometimes, Living Waters Branch) she also published tracts under the name Universal Publishing (one of the names which Brother Houteff used), and never changed the Association's one and only name. The only thing that was ever predicted to occur to the name "Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventists" was that the names "Davidian," and "Seventh-day Adventist" would be dropped (The Leviticus of Davidian Seventh-day Adventists, The Branch Supplement, p. 5) because the work within those bodies would be finished. Ben Roden clearly taught that there was only one Branch church. Is Christ, the Branch, divided? No!
Besides Charles Pace's non-appearance at the convention, there was another who absence was most telling. That is, Teresa Moore, who also claims to be the leader of the Branch. She also has a new name for her group, "The Lords of Sabbaoth, Our Righteous Branches."
Though Teresa Moore wasn't there herself, a few of the women who were, or are, somewhat associated with her were there. That is, Irmine Sampson, Celestine Lowe, and another sister, Vida (I forget her last name) were there passing out some literature which Celestine had written. We were told that Celestine doesn't claim to be a prophet, nor the leader of the Branch church, and that the sisters only consider Teresa to be some sort of a "guardian" of the Branch writings.
One thing we noticed is that the parable/prophecy of Matthew 25 is certainly true in stating that all of the virgins (wise and foolish) fell asleep, and were in need of an awakening call. Such was the condition of all at the conference, in one way or another. While many of those who had exhibits were casually dressed, the delegates themselves were pretty much all at the height of fashion. This, in spite of the fact that Ellen White declared that, "Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-Day Adventist churches and doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. ...We must arise at once and close the door against the allurements of fashion." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, Pg. 647-48
Add to this the fact that many of the presentations during the conference were simply vain boastings of how many people in foreign countries were joining the church and how many Bible studies were being given, what we understand and teach about the lifeless reformed bodies in Eze. 37 proved to be sadly true. Yet there was great hope, for many sincerely said they would investigate our teachings. It was obvious that many were quite hungry for hearty spiritual food, though they were still reluctant to look outside the leading brethren to get it. Many also expressed their belief that eventually there wouldn't be any divisions in the church such as they were witnessing at the conference.
The belief that God's people will be eventually united, and that the "other" Angel (Rev. 18:1) will soon join the Third Angel in verity, is exactly what we were also teaching through the prophecy of Ezekiel 37 in our study, Dry Bones Extra. As God continues to prophesy through antitypical Ezekiel, the reformed lifeless bodies will receive His Spirit from the one "wind" that comes from the "four winds," and will live and stand upon their feet as an exceeding great army to give the Loud Cry to the world.
"...this simile of the dry bones appl[ies]... to those who have been blessed with great light; for they... are like the skeletons of the valley. They have the form of men, the framework of the body; but they have not spiritual life. ...The dead are often made to pass for the living; for those who are working out what they term salvation after their own ideas, have not God working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. THIS CLASS IS WELL REPRESENTED BY THE VALLEY OF BONES EZEKIEL SAW IN VISION. Those who have had committed to them the TREASURES of TRUTH, and yet who are DEAD in trespasses and sins, need to be CREATED ANEW in Christ Jesus." Review and Herald Jan. 17, 1893, as found in the SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1165,1166.
"Our faith is to have a resurrection....We need the breath of the divine life breathed into us." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 45, 46.
That we all may become fully awake to the great and glorious events taking place in our day is our prayer. So let it be Lords,
Doug Mitchell and Steve Penners
July 20, 2005
P.O. Box 1004
Kingsland, Texas 78639