The Sardis Church Era

By COGwriter

Sardis is the fifth of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation. The Sardis Church apparently became predominant by or during the early seventeenth century.

Ruins of Ancient Sardis
Ruins of Ancient Sardis

Jesus had the Apostle John record the following about the Sardis Church:

1 "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,

'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' (Revelation 3:1-6, NKJV throughout unless otherwise indicated).

It probably needs to be emphasized that since Jesus taught that the gates of the grave would not prevail against the true church (Matthew 16:18), that the true church never actually died out, even though some names associated with it changed (Revelation 2-3).

Here are links to two historical sermons: Sardis Church Era: Beginnings, Doctrines, and Leaders and Sardis: SDBs, SDAs, & CG7s.

Some Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Century Emergences

At the end of the time of Thyatira's dominance, the Sardis Church began to emerge.

John Ogwyn reported:

By the end of the 1500s, congregations that the world labeled "Sabbatarian Anabaptists" had emerged from remnants of the Waldensians and were growing in Central Europe, Germany and England. They were termed Sabbatarian because they taught and observed the seventh-day Sabbath. They were called Anabaptists, meaning "re-baptizers," because they refused to accept as Christians those who had merely been sprinkled as babies. They taught that baptism was only for adults who had come to believe the Gospel and had repented of their sins (cf. Acts 2:38) (Ogwyn, J. God's Church Through the Ages. Booklet. 2003).

This is approximately 1260 years after the Smyrnaeans fled because of of edicts of fourth century Roman Emperors, such as Constantine's Edict Against Heretics of 331 A.D. (it appears that around 1600 the COG no longer felt that it needed to be fleeing, but then began to come out in the open). Or if we, probably more properly use Theodosius' edicts edicts of around 380-394, then around 1640 - 1654. (Note many were called "Anabaptists," sometimes shortened to Baptists, because they did not accept infant baptism, hence required re-baptism, or anabaptism.)

According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, the Anabaptists believed that salvation would be offered to all mankind:

The doctrine of apokatastasis viewed as a belief in a universal salvation is found among the Anabaptists ... (Batiffel, Pierre. Transcribed by Elizabeth T. Knuth. Apocatastasis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It should be noted that the COGs do not teach universal salvation in the sense that ALL will be saved, but in the sense that ALL will have the opportunity for salvation and ultimately nearly everyone will be saved (please see free online booklet Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation and/or the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism).

Notice also the following:

 The first opponents of the doctrine of the trinity were German Anabaptists. ...

Another prevailing feature of their system was a belief in immediate or prophetic inspiration, which if it did not supercede the written word, assimilated them to its author. 

Notice even there, the test of a prophet was the written word! ...

The ancient Sabbath was retained and observed by a portion of the Anabaptists.

(Blackwell D. A HANDBOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology, April 1973, pp. 166, 167)

Yes, some Anabaptists kept the Sabbath (particularly in Moravia) and prophets were something that they recognized. For more on the Sabbath, check out the article: The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad. For more on prophets, check out the article How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God.

The Catholic Encyclopedia also noted:

Persons rejecting infant baptism are frequently mentioned in English history in the sixteenth century. We learn of their presence in the island through the persecutions they endured. As early as 1535 ten Anabaptists were put to death, and the persecution continued throughout that century. The victims seem to have been mostly Dutch and German refugees (Baptists).

The same article also stated that some 'Anabaptist' groups of them practiced "feet washing" (see article on Passover).

Here is information on a Sabbath keeping group in England:

Secretary George Vane of the Mill Yard church of London, who did considerable research work for us the year 1926 in the libraries of London in the matter of church history. He wrote us under date of May 21, 1926, as follows, “I find that the Pinners Hall Sabbatarian church was established at Devonshire Square E. C., on March 1, 1574, ....” Pinners Hall Sabbatarian church mentioned above was {later} organized by Frances Banefield ... he mentions “The Church of God,”referring to his congregation ... 1677 (Dugger, pp. 240-241)

Seventh day Sabbath-keeping was causing controversy in England in 1584 (Andrews J.N. in History of the Sabbath, 3rd editon, 1887. Reprint Teach Services, Brushton (NY), 1998, p. 485).

In 1600, William Cotton reported that a Passover had been celebrated in Exeter, England (Roberts, 1904, vol. 10, 450).

The following is from a writing from a Roman Catholic Priest published in 1618:

John Traske and the other Puritans in their ceremonial and precise manner of observing the Sabaoth, are superstitious imitators of the Jews, our saviour’s adversaries ... (Falconer John. A Breife Refutation of John Traskes Judaical and Novel Fantyces.  St. Omer, 1618,  p. 31. As cited in Parker, Parker Kenneth L. The English Sabbath: A Study of Doctrine and Discipline from the Reformation to the Civil War.  Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 166)

Jesus was a Jew and kept practices many consider Jewish, so not all Jewish practices are adverserial, but should be kept by Christians (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1). John Traske had a great zeal, but some issues of knowledge (cf. Acts 18:25-26; Roman 10:2). He may have been COG. John Traske claimed to get one or more dreams from God (Cottrell-Boyce A. John Traske, Puritan Judaizing and the Ethic of Singularity. Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions 6, 2018), considered himself some type of a prophet (Smith RM. Christian Judaizers In Early Stuart England. Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church Vol. 52, No. 2, June 1983, pp. 125-133), and had a lot of impact in England.

The late evangelist John Ogwyn wrote:

John Traske was one of the first in England to publish a book dealing with the Sabbath. Writing around 1618, he was imprisoned for his efforts. Some credit him with raising up the Mill Yard Church in London, the oldest known Sabbath-keeping church still functioning and parent of later Sabbatarian churches in America. ... In 1661, John James, another Church of God minister in the London area, was arrested for preaching the Truth. (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. 2004)

John Traske practiced the laying on of hands (Smith, p. 127).

John Traske seems to have at least partially kept something on Passover as the Days of Unleavened Bread according to the same priest Falconer while using 1618 English:

Iohn Traske ... By reading in Eusebius history lib. 1. cap. 22. how Saint Policarpe and other holy Bishops of Asia observed the Iewes time of keeping Easter, he and his disciples are lately therein resolued to imitate them. …

IOHN Traske seemeth falsely to suppose, and Maister Cra. his Aduersary as lightly to graunt, that a Sabaoth, or seauenth daie of rest from bodily labour was from the beginning of mans Creation … Christians are expressely forbidden to play the Iewes, and to be idle on the Sabaoth, and willed with all to obserue and prefer our Lords day be∣fore it ...

IOHN Traske ... the 14. of March-moone, wherin the Iewes were commaunded by God to celebrate their Passouer. And vpon his late reading in Eusebius lib 5. hist. cap. 22. Policrates epistle di∣rected to Victor Bishop of Rome concerning the Asian custome of keeping easter with the Iews, ... he will arrogantly presume to call Victor that holy Bishop & Mar∣tyr, famously mentioned in ancient histories, a proud Prelate, ... he hath ob∣serued the feast of Azimes, ... the ancient Bishop of Ephesus in a preposterous zeale of obseruing the yearly me∣mory of our Sauiours resurrection, as S. Policarpe and other great Saintes had done before him in those partes of Asia, wrote very ernestly in the defence of that Quartadeciman Custome. Whose authority hath, as it should seeme, much moued Iohn Traske ... IOHN Traske and his disciples hold the Legall difference of meates mentioned Leuit. 11. Deutron. 10. to be so morall in it selfe (Falconer J. A briefe refutation of Iohn Traskes iudaical and nouel fancyes Stiling himselfe Minister of Gods Word, imprisoned for the lawes eternall perfection, or God's lawes perfect eternity. English College Press, 1618, pp. 3,17,21,43,57-58,60 65)

So John Traske (an “i” was often used then for a “j” in the 17th century; the "u" above often should be a "v") kept the seventh-day Sabbath (and said it was established in the Book of Genesis), would not keep Sunday, kept Passover on the 14th, cited church history, kept the Days of Unleavened Bread (called "the feast of Azimes" above), cited the practices of Polycarp and Polycrates, and avoided eating biblically unclean animals. Those are Church of God doctrines. For Traske doing so, a Roman Catholic priest objected, referred to Passover as Easter, and called original Christian practices preposterous.

But John Traske at least partially apostasized in 1620 after being arrested and imprisoned, though his wife Dorothy did not (Smith, p. 125-133).

Here is information on the Mill Yard Church from the Seventh Day Baptists and the old Worldwide Church of God:


Origin. Some have supposed that this church owes its origin to the labors of John James, who was martyred Oct. 19, 1661. President Daland goes back as far as about 1580. In 1617 (or 1616) John Trask came to London from Salisbury, and held revival meetings. One of his disciples, named Hamlet Jackson, was the means of bringing Trask and many, if not all, of his congregation to the observance of the seventhday Sabbath in about 1617, and Elder William M. Jones says that this Traskite congregation was the origin of the Mill Yard Church. All the records of this church, prior to 1673, were destroyed in the fire of 1790 ...

Pastoral service. The early pastorates are difficult to determine; the following arrangement is probably very nearly, if not entirely, correct:

John Trask…………….. 1617-1619
Dr. Peter Chamberlen…. 1653-?
John James…………………. ?-1661
William Sellers……....... * 1670-1678
Henry Soursby………… 1678-1711
John Maulden…………. 1712-1715

(Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America: a series of historical papers written in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the organization of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, celebrated at Ashaway, Rhode Island, August 20-25, 1902, Volume 1. Printed for the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference by the American Sabbath Tract Society, 1910, pp. 39,40)

Evidence is that this "Mill Yard" congregation dates from 1607, or even the 1580's. (Lesson 53 - Reaching The World With Power! Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1969)

Traske, was not a Baptist (Ball B. Seventh Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, 2nd edition.  James Clark & Co., 2009, , p. xx)

Information on the actual founding of the Mill Yard church is not as clear as we would like. We do not have the name of who immediately preceded John Traske. But, despite the Baptists claiming him, Traske was not one of them.

"Traskite Sabbatarians existed in London ... during the 1630s most probably in continuity of the practice of their founder c. 1617" (Ball, p. 8).

Piecing multiple sources together, the following list looks reasonable for the British Isles:

1617-1619 John Traske
1620-1652 John Pecke (and possibly others)
1652-1654 Peter Chamberlen
1654-1661 John James
1661-1678 William Saller
1678-1711 Henry Soursby (Ball, pp. 81-87)
1712-1715 John Maulden or unnamed Sabbatarian or Thomas Lucas (same as shown below)
1712 or 1716-1743 Thomas Lucas (Ball, pp. xxxii-xxxiv)

Byran Ball reported, "from the late 1640s, with new religious liberty and freedom of expression and practice, the seventh day came into the open in a way previously unknown in England" (Ball, p. 55).

As far as some details on more of the leaders goes, a friend of John Traske was a young lawyer, named John Pecke (Como DR. Blown by the Spirit: Puritanism and the Emergence of an Antinomian Underground in Pre-Civil-War England. Stanford University Press, 2004, pp. 143,173f; Cottrell-Boyce A. John Traske, Puritan Judaizing and the Ethic of Singularity. Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions 6, 2018, p. 2). John Pecke was a Sabbatarian and seems to have been John Traske's successor. Those associated with Traske held to "the observation of the Saturday Sabbath, dietary laws and even Passover ... a Puritan drift towards Biblicism, towards a Judeo-centric millenarianism" (Ball, p. 2).

Dr. Chamberlen was a famous obstetrician. Peter Chamberlen was in Holland from around 1635-1642 (Katz DS. Sabbath and Sectarianism in Seventeenth Century England. Brill, 1988, pp. 51-52) and many, at least in the Amsterdam were reportedly keeping the Sabbath (Ball, p.77). It seems like Dutch influence was related to the Sabbath being kept in places like East Anglia (England) no later than 1645 (Ball, p. 247).

Chamberlen was reportedly influenced by a non-Sabbath keeping millenarian named John Brayne who felt that the 1260 years in the wilderness of Revelation 12:6 would end between 1660 and 1666 (Ball, p. xxi-xxii) and had also contact with Sabbatarians. Though he lived until 1683, he had lost the leadership mantle. "Chamberlen's failure to remain a leader of the Seventh-Day men in large measure derived from his inability to devote himself wholeheartedly to any single project" (Katz, p. 48).

In the mid or late 1640s Peter Chamberlen left an 'independent' group and then seems to have associated with those who held more COG doctrines (Katz, p. 56), was a Sabbatarian no later than 1651 (Ball, p. 81), and helped establish a Sabbatarian group no later than 1652 (Katz, p. 57).

Here are a couple of letters he wrote:

To Archbishop Sancroft

My Lord

I understand that I have lately been traduced to Yor Grace as a Jew by a Combination of Ale Hous Gossips, some Mechanick Church Wardens, with their pettifogging Solicitor; of a Name that is not to be found in all his pretended Dwellings. And to countenance their Conspiracy against me, & my Family, have made bold with Yor Grace's Name, One Barker using it to Suborn Wittnesses against my Daughter: affirming Yor Grace would very well Reward those that should Testifie against her, what they would have them Testifie. And this can be Proved by those very Persons She tampered with And by others to whom She boasted what Yor Grace would do in their behalf. To be a Jew as the Apostle writes to the Romans, is a Crown and Honour to any Christian. But as they intended it, in opposition to the Name & Faith of Jesus Christ, I abhor them. Nor can all they are worth make Reparation for the Slaunder & Scandal, & for the Prejudice they do me in my Practice. If therefore Yor Grace would give me leav to compell them to appear the 19th Article of the Church of England can require. Which none of my dirtymouthd Adversaries can prove of themselves. And I shall eemain My Lord Yor 'Grace's most humble servant.


The Sons of the East:

Being an Epistle written in English by old Dr . Chamberlen (Eldest Scarlet of Europe) Senior to all Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, and Doctors, now living .) To the Synagogue of the Jews in London, being a Remnant of the numerous People of Israel, scattered into all Countries over the Face of the Earth; who were once the peculiar inheritance, and only Beloved People (abovethe Nations of the World) wisheth Health, Grace, and Truth, from God the Fatherof All , by the Meansof the True Messiah; whose Coming Israel expects on Earth, and Christians hope from Heaven in Glory. Amen. London 1682

Greatly Beloved Nation, and People most Honoured of God,

I dare not but Love, and Honour you ; for Salvation is of the Jews, (John4. 22 ). And in the Seed of Abraham, shall all Nations of the Earth be Blessed, (Gen. 22. 18.). I have heard, that some (of the most worthy amongst keep the Sabbath of the Lordyour God, and Ours. Wherefore, (by the Providence of God) having been the First that endeavoured to rescue that Commandment from the Triple-crowned-little -Horns Change of Times, and Laws, as was foretold by your Prophet Daniel, (chap. 7. 25.) I am in some hope, that God may provoke you to Jealousie, by a People that were not then called his People, (Deut. 32. 21.) And having been conversant with several of your Nation in Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries, I think my self the more engaged to salute you in mine own Native Country. Of all the Synagogues beyond Sea, I found the kindest, and civillest Receptionat Genoa, in Italy: Where (after a few words spoken in Italian to the whole Congregation, after which they had intermitted their Devotions) I was invited to the house of Rabbi Abraham Attias, the next Day after the Sabbath; where I met with 5 Rabbies more; purposely come together to hear what I would say, and to confer thereupon. I had saluted them in the Synagogue, as the BelovedNation of God, who once were the Head of all Nations; but asked of them , if they did not consider, that now they were as the Tail of all, (Deut. 28. 13.) and lived scattered in all Countries (as precario) by Permission? Andwhat Prophet, or Manifestation of God 's Love unto them hap they found these1600years, sincethe Crucifying of the Young Man (as they call him) at Jerusalem? Were they ever so long kept from some Prophet, or Manifestation of the Love of God, as since then ? So now (being met) I came to closer Questions; and asked them , Whether it was not a wonder, that all Nations (except the Jews) should be willing to believe in a Jew, though they hated the Nation? But the Jews (and none else) hated Him, who was of their own Flesh and Blood. Whereupon (to take off the Obloquy of Christianity) I told them, They must not think, that was the Christian Religion, which they saw at Rome and Italy (in the Adoration of Crosses, Images, Pictures, Reliques, Wafers, Gods of Flesh and Blood, and the Virgin Mary (Queen of Heaven) no more than we call it the Religion of the Jews, when they worshipped Baalim and Ashtaroth, (1 Sam. 12, 10.) & c. We esteem none to be Jews, but those who live according to the Law of Moses: so I would not have them esteem any for Christians, but those (whoin all things) were according to the Gospel of Christ, of which theyall did unanimouslyapprove &c.

(Aveling JH. The Chamberlens and the midwifery forceps : memorials of the family and an essay on the invention of the instrument. J&A Churchhill, 1882 pp. 110-113)

"Peter Chamberlen, senior Doctor of both Universities, ... according to grace a servant of the word of God,

"To the Excellent and Noble Governor of New England:

"Grace, mercy, peace and truth, from God our Father, and from our
"Lord Jesus Christ, praying for you, that you may abound in
"heavenly graces and temporal comforts.
"I have always had a love for the intended purity and unspotted
"doctrine of New England; for Mr. Cotton was of the same college and university,of Emanuel in Cambridge, as I was; and so
"was Mr. Hooker, and others, with whom we were all contemporary;
"and I never knew them, but of a holylife and conversation. I also
"knew Colonel Humphrey ,Sir Richard Saltonstall, and Mr. Peters,
"who were of note among you, and Sir Henry Vane, who all had
"some share in the foundation of your Government. But certainly"
the first intentions were never to debar the truths of Scripture and
"liberty of conscience guided thereby; but to suppresss in and idolatry,
"and prevent all the adulteries of Rome, to whom all things are
"lawful, especially lies and hypocrisy, to promote their most damnable"
doctrines, covetous superstitions, and blasphemous supremacy. It
"is great wisdom to suppresss in, but not the liberty of a good conscience; and whilst men grant liberty of conscience, not to admit
"liberty of sin. All magistrates have not attained to this wisdom;
"else England had been long since freed from popery and perjury.
"Whatsoever is against the Ten Commandments is sin, (Rom.3:20;
"1 John 3:4;) and he that sinneth in one pointis guiltyof all,
"because he that spake one word of them, spake all, and he added
"no more, (Jas.2:10,11; Ex. 20:1;) while Moses and Solomon
"caution men so much against adding to or taking from, (Deut.4:
"2; Prov.30:5,6,) and so doth the beloved apostle, (Rev.22:18,
"19,) what shall we say of those that take away of those ten words,
"or thosethat make them void and teach men so? Nay, they dare
"give the lie to Jehovah, and make Jesus Christ not only a breaker
"of the law, but the very author of sin in others, also causing them
"to break them. Hath not the little horn played his part lustily in
"this, and wornout the saints of the Most High, so that they become
"little horn men also! If you are pleased to inquire about these
"things, and to require any instances or information, be pleased by
"your letters to command it from your humble servant in the Lord"
Jesus Christ.

"Peter Chamberlen."
"Most worthy Governor, Sept. i, 1677." (SDB, Volume 2, pp. 1264-1265, Clarke, pp. 12-13)

(So, there was someone in New England called Mr. Cotton, that Peter Chamberlen felt was faithful. It is possible that he had something to do with passing the true faith until New England to people like Joseph Crandell or the senior John Maxson.)

Notice the following about John James:

On Sabbath, October 19, 1661 ... John James was forcibly removed from the pulpit ... and charged with treason for having called Jesus Christ the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland ... he was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging ... his head was set up in Whitechapel on a pole opposite the alley of the Mill Yard meetinghouse. (Nickels, Six Papers on the History of the Church of God., pp. 20-21)

William Saller wrote a few books about the Sabbath. Here is a link to the only one I have been able to find: An Examination of a late book published by Doctor Owen ... A Sacred Day of Rest. Now this book was published in 1671 and uses old English, meaning that the letter "f" is often used where we would not use the letter "s." Also note that some of the first pages of the link are blank on purpose.

Saller's successor, Henry Soursby was possibly succeeded by John Mauldin/Maulden who was a shoemaker. Maulden taught footwashing, but his immediate successor, who was a co-pastor there, named John Savage did not. Hence we stopped counting leadership succession at Mill Yard with either Henry Soursby or John Mauldin. As far as John Mauldin goes, he penned a some books in 1708 under the pen name of Philotheos. Here is a link to one: A Pious Young Man's Guide--but it shows he lost some of the truth consistent with warnings to Sardis.

Here is a link to another one from Maulden: A Threefold Dialogue (Philotheos. A Threefold Dialogue, Concerning the Three Chief Points in Controversy amongst Protestants in our Day. London, 1708). On pages 26 and 27 he used the expression "Church of God"and on page 32 "Church of Chift" (old English spelling). On pages 30-32 he teaches against the false Calvinistic notion that God will condemn babies. On page 61, he teaches that the resurrection was not on Sunday, but on the day we now call Saturday. He died in 1715 (Ball, p. 89).

According to Bryan W. Ball, in the area of England in the 1600s, there were two basic groups of Sabbath keepers, which he identified as General and Particular (Ball, pp. 102-103). He reported that those called General believed Jesus died for all, the doctrine of the laying on hands, avoiding unclean animals like pork, keeping Passover (which Mill Yard and others called "the Lord's Supper" Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America: a series of historical papers written in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the organization of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, celebrated at Ashaway, Rhode Island, August 20-25, 1902, Volume 1. Printed for the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference by the American Sabbath Tract Society, 1910, p. 56) on the 14th, footwashing, millenarianism, anointing the sick, and a soon coming kingdom of God (Ball, p. 9-10,15,49,53,102,153). He basically wrote that the group he called Particular Baptists were Calvinists who believed Jesus only died for the elect (p. 102)—this group, in time, became more ecumenically Protestant, trinitarian (Ivimey J. A History of the English Baptists, Vol 2, 1814, p. 504), and more like first day Baptists. Ball also reported that the Mill Yard Church was NOT trinitarian (Ball, pp. 90, 97-98). And there were conflicts between the trintitarians and the anti-Trinitarians (Ivimey, p. 205).

Even though those associated with Mill Yard in the late 20th century called Passover communion, notice this Mill Yard Church observed Passover annually and at the biblical time through the early 20th century:

The 1926 Seventh Day Baptist Manual notes that the "Mill Yard Church of London ... celebrates it but once a year, at the time of the Passover of the Jewish Church" (Nickels R. Six Papers on the History of the Church of God. Sharing & Giving, Neck City (MO), 1993, p. 83).

According to Andrew Nugent Dugger and C.O. Dodd, the Mill Yard Church and the Church of God, Seventh Day (CG7-S) had essentially the same doctrines in the 1930s, and thus he taught that the Mill Yard Church was part of the spiritual ancestry of the Church of God:

It was the pleasure of one of the authors of this book to spend some months during 1931 and 1932 with the Mill Yard church in London, and we were caused to rejoice, upon finding them advocating the same doctrine on the great essentials, in perfect harmony with the Church of God in America, and throughout the world ... The Mill Yard church in London being the oldest Sabbath-keeping church of which we have a definite record, and at this date, 1935, their doctrine agrees with that of the churches of God throughout America (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, pp. 241,273).

Essentially, in the 1600s there were several, but small, Sabbath-keeping congregations in England.

Thomas Lucas seemed to have Church of God doctrines as he was called a General Baptist by Ball (the true COG has not General Baptist) who felt he was a Sabbatarian who may have also taught Sunday keepers (Ball, p. xxxiv). Thomas Lucas also was a named beneficiary of Joseph Davis from Mill Yard in London when Davis died in 1731 (Ball, p. xxxiii). Thomas Lucas warned against those who he felt practiced lawlessness (Ball, pp. xxxiii-xxiv). He had issues and concerns about the Sabbath-keeping Particular Baptists (Ball, xxiii). Though more officially recognized starting in 1718 in Trowbridge (Ball, p. xxxiii), he (presuming he held it--a document that may let us know does not appear to publicly available) seemed have held the succession mantle in the British Isles earlier, and perhaps until he died in 1743 (Ball, p. xxxiii).

Notice a that in 1719 England, John Ozell, a non-Sabbath-keeper wrote the following about some of the Sabbath-keepers (note I switched this to modern spelling):

… People, who … go by the name Sabbatarian make Profession of expecting a Reign of a Thousand Years … Millenarians. These Sabbatarians are so call’d, because they will not remove the Day of Rest from Saturday to Sunday … They leave off work betimes on Friday Evening, and are very rigid observers of their Sabbath. They administer Baptism only to adult People … The major Part of them will not eat Pork, nor blood … their outward conduct is pious and Christian-like (Mission H, Mission M. translated by John Ozell. M. Misson's Memoirs and Observations in His Travels Over England. London, 1719, pp. 234-235).

So, many John Ozell reported about held COG doctrines.

In the New World

In the 1600s, there were some Sabbath keeping groups established in the Americas.

It has been claimed:

It is evident that there were seventh-day observers among those who landed on the American shores when they arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. Local congregation developed in severa1 of the New England States, in some of the Eastern, Southern, and later even in the Midwestern States.

The earliest Sabbath-keeping churches in America were composed of local congregations, not formally incorporated or organized into conferences.  The local groups went by various names, such as Sabbatarians, Church of God, Church of Christ, The Seventh Day Baptists and even Independents. (Kiesz J. History of the Church of God (Seventh Day). May 1965, p. 1)

Because of the fact that Sunday-keepers often have called Sunday the Sabbath, there are debates as to whether or not the Pilgrims were seventh-day Sabbath keepers.

The following mentions perhaps the first Sabbatarians in Canada:

The first Sabbath-observers in Canada ... were brought to Quebec against their will. The German Sabbatarians were pacifist fur traders in the Shenandoah Valley. In March 1757 a French priest led a part of Indians to attack the German Sabbatarians ... Most of the German Seventh-Day Baptists were killed and scalped ... Only three Germans were taken as prisoners ... They eventually were taken to France ... they died (Neumann B. A History of the Seventh-Day Sabbath Among Christians in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Bible Sabbath Association, Gillette (WY), 2004, p. 28).

Notice the tie between the Americas and the British Isles:

Sabbath keepers of the middle ages {in the UK} ... as a continuous body … transferred to America, in Rhode Island in 1664-65, and earliest showed itself in Newport, R. I., in 1644. (Leonard O.  HISTORICAL SKETCH OF SEVENTH DAY BAPTISTS OF NEW JERSEY in Griffiths TS. A History of Baptists in New Jersey. Barr Press Pub. Co., 1904. Original from Princeton University. Digitized Mar 17, 2008, p. 518)

From these groups, many became known as Sabbatarian Anabaptists or Seventh Day Baptists (SDBs). And, irrespective of what they were called, originally, most of those groups tended to be loosely affiliated. Some of them kept COG doctrines, while others were more Protestant in approach, like the Newport group.

Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia, article "Seventh Day Baptists":

A denomination of Christians formerly called Sabbatarians. They hold to the immersion of adult believers and also to the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, arguing that since the institution of the Sabbath at the close of creation and its formal annunciation as a part of the Siniatic code there has always been an unbroken chain for men who have kept the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath." (Adams, CK ed. Johnson's Universal Cyclopædia: A New Edition, Volume 7. D. Appleton, 1896, p. 440)
Yes, those who now call themselves Seventh Day Baptists once claimed to have an unbroken line of succession. And there was apostolic succession that they claim which were really COG, not SDB, leaders.

It has been claimed that:

The first Sabbath-keeper in America was Stephen Mumford ... came as a missionary from London ... in 1664, and brought the opinion with him that the whole of the ten commandments, as they were delivered from Mount Sinai, were moral and immutable; and that it was the anti-Christian power which thought to change times and laws, that changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week (Andrews, pp. 498-499).

Yet, it is fairly certain that there were other Sabbath-keepers who came to the Americas prior to Stephen Mumford, like one or more of the Cottrells (as well as practicing Jews). Hence, Stephen Mumford was not the first, nor do we in the CCOG trace our history through him--nor do we consider that he was Church of God, but more of a Protestant (the CCOG is not Protestant, see also Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism).

Who, then, seemed to hold to COG doctrines?

Let's start with John Maxson. He was born in Rhode Island in 1638.

Sometime in the 1660s John Maxson and John Crandall, embraced the Sabbath, though the Seventh Day Baptists (SDBs) who reported about them are not sure from where (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America: A Series of Historical Papers Written in Commemoration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Celebrated at Ashaway, Rhode Island, August 20-25, 1902, Volume 2, 1910, p. 611). But it may have had to do with Mr. Cotton who Dr. Chamberlen had contact with who had came over from England (Clarke, pp. 12-13). John Crandall was an elder no later than 1671 (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, p. 612).

Anyway, the descendants of John Maxson and John Crandall remained Sabbath keepers and ended up, at least part time, in the ministry.

The once zealous, but now elderly, John Maxson seemed to try to fade out of the ministry in 1715 and asked formally to leave in 1716 (The Seventh-day Baptist Memorial Volumes 1-3. Seventh-day Baptist Publishing Society, 1852, p. 53).

His son John Maxson, Jr. born in 1666--ordained a deacon in 1712 and elder in 1719, was assisted by elder and brother Joseph Maxson in 1739 (Denison F. Westerly (Rhode Island) and Its Witnesses For Two Hundred and Fifty Years, 1626-1876 : Including Charlestown, Hopkinton, and Richmond Until Their Separate Organization, with the Principal Points of Their Subsequent History. J.A. & R.A. Reid, 1878, p. 61). in 1732, Joseph Maxson was ordained as an evangelist and elder in 1739 (Denison, p. 62).

Here is more information:

Joseph Crandall was the third pastor and he served from 1718 to 1737. He was the son of Elder John Crandall, the first minister in Western Rhode Island. Forty-three were added during his pastorate. The first three pastors were all the same age. From 1737 to 1754, the church was without a pastor, but enjoyed the labors of Elder Joseph Maxson, ... (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America: A Series of Historical Papers Written in Commemoration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Celebrated at Ashaway, Rhode Island, August 20-25, 1902, Volume 2, 1910, p. 607)

Joseph Crandall rose up after some type of congregational separation (Ibid, p. 614) and:

It appears that Joseph Crandall had been deacon in the church for some years, though there is no minute showing when he or anyone else was appointed to that office. ... Eld. Joseph Crandall, thought to have been a son of Eld. John Crandall, the first minister in Misquamicut, was called from this church to the pastorate of the Newport church. (Ibid, p. 617, 625)

By the mid-1700s there seemed to have been both types of Sabbatarians in the Newport church--but this did not stay that way. We list 1718-1737 for Joseph Crandall, 1737 -1748 for Joseph Maxson as a leader, followed by 1748-1778 for the later John Maxson.

Notice something about a relative named Simeon Maxson:

September 24, 1775. Simeon Maxson, who had virtually been licenced by the church to preach, was silenced because of lack of harmony between him and the church. ...

The Maxsons did not seem to get along well with those we tend to see as actual Seventh-day Baptists, though some Maxsons ended up drifting that way.

Notice the following:

Elder John Maxson became pastor in 1754 and there were many additions during his pastorate, which ended in 1778. Five years later decline and trouble are manifest, as appears from the following quotation taken from a letter to the First Hopkinton church:

"Dear brethren, we shall be glad if yon will write to us and let us know in what light you look upon us, whether you own us as a church of Christin fellowship with you or not. We know and you know that there is some that have been trying to make a schism in the church and to set up a separate meeting hereon the Sabbath. You can't but be sensible of the bad consequence attending such a thing. There is some we understand that have suggested that, upon the death of Elder John Maxson, the church here was dissolved, this we think is a pretty extraordinary piece of logic, for we never thought that the Elder of a church was the head of it, but that Jesus Christ was the only head of the church, and the Elder if he knows his place is the servant of the church, and that when an Elder dies or leaves a society that the members of the church are destitute, have power to elect another in his place. But we would not do anything to stir up strife, but those things that may promote love and unity among us."

(Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America: A Series of Historical Papers Written in Commemoration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Celebrated at Ashaway, Rhode Island, August 20-25, 1902, Volume 2, 1910, p. 603)

Who appears to have been the main COG leader(s) from 1779-1795 was possibly Nathan Roger, though other possibilities are unnamed--but obviously there were two different groups then. They would have been those who were Sabbatarians who were essentially SDBs and Sabbatarians who were not.

Notice something about some of the Davis family:

January 10, 1796. Joseph Davis applied for, and received, a call "to improve his gift in the work of the Gospel."

May 13, 1798. Joseph Davis was silenced until further action of the church. ... (Randolph, p. 111)

November 21, 1819. Licence was granted to Peter Davis "to go into the world and preach the Gospel." ...

August 16, 1822. The ordination of Peter Davis was deferred until the next church meeting. ... 1823 ... Peter Davis ... ordained ...

November 19, 1824. "It also came under consideration that Elder John Davis wishes a letter of dismission. Laid over till next church meeting."

November 18, 1825 ... Peter Davis was charged with preaching a new doctrine, which the church did not approve. (Randolph, pp. 111, 112)

April 11, 1834. Ezekiel Bee, Asa Bee, George J. Davis, and Peter Davis "denied the government of the church and expressed a desire for free communion." (Randolph, p. 113)

In the late 1700s/early 1800s, the SDBs officially came together. Joseph and Peter Davis and Asa and Ezekiel Bee had doctrinal differences with them. This seems to be because some of their doctrines were more COG than SDB. Likely, such types were tolerated for a time, but as the SDBs became more organized, those not of their persuasion became more distant from them, despite the Sabbath similarity.

Notice also the following assertion:

the North Fork of Hughes River Church ... The church had become extinct before the formation of the Virginia Association in 1851. (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, p. 854)

But that same source hints that what happened was, that in 1850, the pastor of the Hughes River Church looks to have been perhaps COG and not SDB:

These questions involved articles of diet and manner of dress as well as church control of family government and discipline. In short here an attempt was made to apply the provisions of the Mosaic law governing the domestic life of the early Hebrews to American Seventh Day Baptists, in the middle of the nineteenth century of the Christian Era, irrespective of the changed conditions of modern civilization and radically different racial instinct, to say nothing of the profound differences between the Christian and Hebrew religions. The result, as might have been expected, was a grotesque failure. For the greater part of the period of its existence, the church was under the leadership of Asa Bee and his brother Ezekiel, both of whom were men of marked mental ability and of sincerityof purpose, but who were possessed of many half-crazy ideas of Biblical interpretation, which were bounteously fruitful of discord. In 1870 this spirit of dissension resulted in a split in the South Fork of Hughes River Church. ... In their effort to follow the mandates of the Mosaic law, the flesh of swine as food, was placed under ban. (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, pp. 855, 857)

South Fork — Pastors

Peter Davis, the organizer of the South Fork church and baptizer of the nine original members, visited them form time to time from his pastorate at the New Salem church, as did other ministers.

Peter Davis, 1834 - ? visited intermittently

Asa Bee, 1842 - ? received into church, 1839; served until death; called “The Elder” in church records As in so many instances of a people attempting to literally obey the Bible, the South Fork Sabbath-keepers faced severe persecution.  As is common, most of the persecution came from their “Christian” associates. Randolph sneeringly calls their practices “half-crazy ideas of Biblical interpretation.” (Nichels. Six Papers)

Asa Bee ... He was a strong advocate of co-education, having no sympathy, whatever, with the idea that was so prevalent at that period "that woman was amply equipped for the battle of life if she could only spell and read." He taught that woman's influence was the potent factor in shaping the mind of the child, and that, thus, she was in need of the better education; (Lowther MK. History of Ritchie County. Wheeling News Litho. Co., Wheeling W.Va., 1911, pp. 572-577)

Now, here is a somewhat speculative list (as we do not have enough specifics to prove which were truly COG but have reasons from SDB historical records to support the view they were Sabbath-keepers that had not embraced what became SDB theology) related to the laying on of hands mantle of succession, which in the 18th or 19th century had seemingly passed into North America:

1716-1718 John Maxson, Jr.
1718-1737 Joseph Crandall
1737 -1748 Joseph Maxson
1748-1778 John Maxson
1779-1796 Nathan Rogers
1796 - 1832 Joseph Davis
1823-1850 Peter Davis or 1830-1850 John Cottrell
1839 or 1850-1871 Asa Bee or Unnamed Sabbatarians

(Dates mainly derived from Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America: A Series of Historical Papers Written in Commemoration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Celebrated at Ashaway, Rhode Island, August 20-25, 1902, Volume 2, 1910, pp. 606-607, also Clarke H. A History of the Sabbatarians Or Seventh Day Baptists, in America; Containing Their Rise and Progress to the Year 1811, with Their Leaders' Names, and Their Distinguishing Tenets, etc. Utica, 1811, p. 25; Davis T. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. Philadelphia, 1851, pp. 149-157; Spicer WA. Pioneer Days of the Advent Movement. Australian Record, October 2, 1944, p. 3)

Note: We do NOT include William Bliss, whom the SDBs consider to have been John Maxson’s successor to be COG, hence he is not in our list.

More on 'Anabaptists'

It may be of interest to note that in the 1500s the Anabaptists were condemned by the Lutherans because they did not support infant baptism, taught one could reject salvation, taught that Christians should not be soldiers, taught that there would be an end to punishments, and that Jesus would rule with His people on the earth:

Article IX: Of Baptism. Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children...

Article XII: ... They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost...

Article XVI: Of Civil Affairs. Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage. They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these civil offices to Christians.

Article XVII: Of Christ's Return to Judgment. Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end. They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils. They condemn also others who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed. (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

It should also be noted that Lutherans and other Protestant leaders considered that those who relied on the Bible alone for doctrine promoted "ancient heresies" (Brown HOJ.Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 335).

Furthermore, Anabaptists were also denounced by other 16th century Protestant leaders such as Jacob Würben of Biel because they stated that they got certain doctrines from the Book of Revelation (Guggisberg HR. Jabob Würben of Biel: A thoughtful admonisher against Ludwig Hätzer and the Anabaptists. Mennonite Quarterly Review, VOl. XLVI, July 1972, pp. 239-255). The teachings of the Book of Revelation were NOT popular with the early Protestant Reformers and were often condemned by them (for Martin Luther's view of the Apocalypse, please see the article Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).

In the sixteenth century, "Anabaptists" taught Millenarianism and were condemned by Roman Catholics for that belief (Birch D. Trial Tribulation & Triumph. Queenship Publishing, Goleta (CA), 1996, p. lvii).

Look at this admission from the Protestant scholar and theologian H. Brown:

Although classical theology is certainly not without its problems, historically it is almost always the case that the appeal to the Bible alone ... leads to the reemergence of ancient heresies ... The Reformation began with the slogan "To the sources!" and sought to deal a fatal blow to the place of church tradition in shaping life and faith ... Despite their efforts not to be influenced by the authority of tradition, each of the major Reformation churches found itself borrowing from the past and building up a traditionalism of its own...when the Anabaptists and other radicals discovered Scripture to be teaching things the Lutherans found detestable, Lutherans learned the usefulness of tradition...(Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 335,350-351).

It should be noted that the above is not limited to one Protestant scholar, even Martin Luther truly did not believe in rallying cry sola scriptura (an article of related interest may be Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).

But the true church continued in those centuries.

The Church in the Americas and the British Isles

In the British Isles John Cox, in 1689, referred to the church as "the true church of God" (Articles of Christian Faith Believed and Written by me, John Cox of York, cited in Ball, p. 297)

Here is a report about the Rhode Island church from A.N. Dugger and C.O. Dodd:

The church in Rhode Island was founded the year 1671, and Ephreta, Pennsylvania, May, 1725, with numerous other congregations throughout the eastern states as previously mentioned in this work. During these early colonial days congregations were at first isolated because of distance and a lack of means of travel with no roads between them. Thus being isolated from fellowship with one another, we find companies in one place called the Church of Christ, and the Church of God, while in other communities they were simply called "Sabbatarian Congregations," but the belief was practically the same. They stood for the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, observing the true Sabbath, keeping the Lord's Supper yearly on the 14th of the first month, with other tenets of faith in harmony with the true faith today. Owing to the isolation of these scattered companies they were known by different names which evidently gives rise to the Scriptural statement relative to the Sardis period, "I know thy works, that thou hast a NAME," Revelation 3:1 (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, pp. 252-253).

Notice that A.N. Dugger and C.O. Dodd considered the above church to be part of the Sardis Church of Revelation 3:1.

Regarding another of those early English Sabbath-keeping congregations it was noted:

An interesting article appeared, April 13. 1901, in the Birmingham Weekly Post, from which the following is an extract:

... at Natton, in the parish of Ashchurch. There the congregation meets on Saturday mornings when all their neighbors are about their secular occupations ... The existence of the sect is known to but few people, and rarely does a stranger make an addition to the regular congregation of half a dozen or eight persons. But it is certainly an interesting fact that such a body should have existed for two centuries and a half. The curious in such matters would do well to store up a record of the sect before it passes out of existence altogether. There appears to be little attempt to propagate the faith, and without such effort the number of adherents is not likely to increase. The tiny one of the oddest things in the ecclesiastical world. Not merely is the gathering inconvenient, one would think, but the place of assemblage is a remote corner -- in a farmyard."

How could there be anything but decline under the circumstances...? (THE SABBATH IN ENGLAND (A.) BRIEF HISTORY OF KNOWN CHURCHES. Reprinted from "Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America" Volume 1, 1910 pp 39-63).

Hence, for 250 years, there was at least one small, but ineffective, group in England.

A group called the Lollards tended to keep the seventh day sabbath in the British Isles (Ball B.  Seventh Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, 2nd edition.  James Clark & Co., 2009, pp. 30-31), and they may have influenced others to do so in the 16th and later centuries.

Here is some information about one of the earliest Sabbath-keeping groups in America (excludes those of the Jewish faith):

In the year 1705, a church of Sabbath-keepers was organized at Piscataway, N.J. The first record in the old church record book, after the articles of faith, was the following statement, proving beyond all question that these early churches retained the Scriptural name of the Church of God. The record reads:

"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, choose 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 in the church-meeting in Westerly, Rhode Island, by prayer and laying on of hands, by their elder, William Gibson, the eighth of September, 1705." -- Idem, p. 121, Vol. 2, No. 3.

The faith of the Piscataway church reads as follows:

"I. 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 Corinthians 3:6, I Timothy 2:5, II Timothy 3:6, II Peter 1:21.

"II. We believe that all the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, given by inspiration, are the Word of God -- II Peter 1:19, 20, 21, II Timothy 3:16, Mark 7:13, I Thessalonians 2:13, Acts 4:29, 31 -- and are the rule of faith and practice.

"III. We believe that the ten commandments, which were written on two tables of stone by the finger of God, continue to be the rule of righteousness unto all men. Matthew 5:17, 18, 19, Malachi 4:4, James 1:21, Romans 7:25, Romans 3:21, Romans 13:8, 9, 10, Ephesians 6:2.

"IV. We believe the six principles recorded in Heb. 6:1, 2, to be the rule of faith and practice.

"V. We believe that the Lord's Supper ought to be administered and received in all Christian churches. Luke 2:19, I Corinthians. 11:23, 26.

"VI. We believe that all Christian churches ought to have church officers in them, as elders, and deacons. Titus 1:5, Acts 6:3.

"VII. We believe that all persons thus believing ought to be baptized in water by dipping or plunging, after confession is made by them of their faith in the above said things. Mark 1:4, 5, Acts 2:38, Acts 8:37, Romans 6:3, 4, Colossians 2:12.

"VIII. We believe that a company of sincere persons, being formed in the faith and practices of the above said things, may truly be said to be the Church of Christ. Acts 2:41, 42.

"IX. We give up ourselves unto the Lord and one another, to be guided and governed by one another, according to the Word of God. I Corinthians 8:5, Colossians 2:19, Psalm 84:1, 2, 4-10, Psalm 133:1." -- Idem, pages 120,121, Vol. 2, No. 3. (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, pp. 275-277).

Now although the Seventh Day Baptists claim that the above church was part of them, the fact that it originally taught that they were part of "The Church of God", left out the term "Trinity", and stated that "the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God" suggests that they were NOT what are NOW called Seventh Day Baptists--Seventh Day Baptists now teach the trinity--it is the anti-trinitarian Church of God that continues to teach that the Holy Spirit is simply the Spirit or Power of God. The minister there was Edmund Dunham, who came over from England (Clarke, p. 32) and had hands laid on him in New England (Clarke, p. 31).

Also, perhaps it should be mentioned that the name "Seventh Day Baptist" was not formally adopted until 1818 (Strand KA, ed. The Sabbath In Scripture and History. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1982, p. 246).

Perhaps it should also be mentioned here that in 1851, a Seventh Day Baptist author, while tracing the history of her church through Semi-Arians in Armenia (see Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 20), also indicated that they once believed in Church eras (ibid, p. 31).

In the 1800s, non-SDB Sabbatarians also believed in 'church eras' (Lee C. The Signs of the End of This Age. Advent and Sabbath Advocate, June 21, 1887, pp. 102-103)

In the Continuing Church of God, we teach that the laying on of hands began in the New Testament church with the apostles with continued to successive church eras (see also the article: see Laying on of Hands).

It may also be of interest to note that some Sabbatarians in New Jersey encouraged footwashing (see Passover) as they wrote in 1750:

And now, dear brethren, we shall use the freedom to acquaint you with one thing, and do heartily desire to recommend it to your serious and Christian consideration, and that is about the duty to wash one another's feet ... 1750 (Randolph CF. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), pp. 15-16).

Furthermore, this practice was also followed in Virginia and other churches in West Viriginia and "the Middle Island Church adopted it in 1870" (ibid, p. 15).

The Seventh Day Baptist Changes

Yet, in the 1700s and throughout the 1800s, changes set in. The SDB movement overtook many in America and elsewhere. And sadly, many of those that stayed in certain Sabbatarian churches did become SDBs, and held less of the truth.

How can this be shown?

Well, the SDBs have basically documented several changes and doctrinal differences in their books.

Those that tended to be "Seventh Day Baptists" complained about some of the differences among Sabbatarians:

That there were members of the Church of God among the Sabbatarians which organized as the Seventh Day Baptist Churches in America, we know, and from the records of the Baptist people themselves, which are very accurate, we learn the truth of this fact. A recorded letter of one William Davis, a Sabbatarian Baptist, states the following:

"Now all this enmity among seventh-day men arose against me originally from a noted seventh-day man and soul sleeper in this country, who above twenty years ago opposed me about my principles of immortality of human souls, and afterward proceeded to differ with me about my faith in Christ and the Trinity, who, having poisoned several other seventh-day men with the mortal and atheistical notion, and set them against me, he secretly conveyed this drench over to Westerly to the persons beforenamed, who, complying with him in their judgments in the Socinian and Anti-Trinitarian error, drank it greedily down before I came among them . . . ." -- Idem, p. 108, Vol. 2, No. 3. (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, p. 277).

My great-grandfather, William Davis, came from England about 1685, and preached to the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Westerly, now Hopkinton—the first Seventh Day Baptist Church in America, except the one at Newport, R. I., which was constituted some time previous. The Church in Hopkinton was constituted in 1061. He preached for this Church a year or two, then made arrangements to go back to England, and went to Newport and engaged a passage; but before the ship sailed, the Church sent a Committee and persuaded him not to go; so he returned to Hopkinton and preached for them until some of the Church fell out with him, because he preached the doctrine of the Trinity. Whereupon he left them and went to Pennsylvania, and some of the time in New Jersey, and died somewhere out in that country. (Stillman W. Miscellaneous Compositions in Poetry and Prose. F.H.Bacon, New-London 1852; pp. 3-4. Original from the New York Public Library Digitized Nov 15, 2006).

Thus, there were Sabbatarians who held to COG doctrines such as that the soul is not immortal and that God is not a trinity. It appears that those in the USA who kept COG doctrines in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were those whose descendants became part of the organized Church of God movement later.

Another difference between those Sabbatarians who remained in the COG and those who were SDBs was the use of titles, both of the church and its leadership.

The COGs always tended to call themselves part of the "Church of God" or "Church of Christ." Those who became the SDBs also seem to have used those same terms until towards the end of the 1700s, when they began to refer to themselves officially as "Seventh Day Baptists."

Notice the following:

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 (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, p. 275).

This is the book of records of the settlement and proceedings of the Church of Christ ... In October ... 1745 (Randolph C.F. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), pp. 11-12).

It is important to note that even though the author of the reference referred to the above church as SDB, they did not use that term in 1745. In 1774, the Sabbatarian Shrewsbury church called itself "church of God." (White C. HISTORIC SABBATARIAN & CHURCH OF GOD FUNDAMENTALS OF BELIEF, Version 1.18, p. 9).

But that changed. By 1775, that church called itself "the Seventh Day Baptist Church inhabiting in Shrewsbury Township" (Randolf, p. 28), but the 'denomination' did not adopt that name until several decades later (1818).

It should be added here that the 1745 writings refer to church leaders with titles such as "Elder" and "ministering brother," and never "Reverend."

While the COGs still use the term "elder" and those that became the SDBs originally used the term "elder," this appeared to change with the SDBs in the latter half of the 1700s.

For example, look at this quote from the official records of the Shrewsbury church:

John Davis, chosen elder, July 19, 1746 ... Rebecca Brand was the first baptized after brother John Davis' decease, and was received as a member of the church, November 11, about the year 1758, Rev. Jonathan Dunham being the administrator (Randolph C.F. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), pp. 31-32).

It seems then, from the latter portion of the 1700s and beyond, those that were SDBs called their leaders "Reverend." Also, even though the original records refer to John Davis as an elder, the SDBs now refer to him as "Rev. John Davis" (ibid, p. 398).

Yet, the Bible teaches:

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name (Psalm 111:9. KJV).

Since it is God's name that is to be revered, it is not proper to say a human's name is reverend.

As mentioned previously, the records of the Piscataway church shows that, in 1750 it did not call itself Seventh Day Baptist, it referred to itself as "The Church of God", and it called its top leaders by the term "elders."

Another change that occurred within the SDB movement was that although their original church buildings looked like houses, eventually, most of them had steeples (no COG I am aware of has ever built a church with a steeple as we tend to consider this a hold-over from sun-god worship). The book A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia has church sketches and/or photos on pages 74a, 100a, 160a, 208a, 214a, 238a, and 242a without steeples, but shows steeples on pages 104a, 106a, 246a, and 344a. This suggests that some of the SDBs wanted to appear more like Protestants.

I should also add that I do not know what the interiors of SDB churches now look like (the two I tried to visit ended up being rented halls), but in the early times, they contained no crosses or other images (ibid, pages 38a and 102a). The COGs do not have crosses or other images involved in their worship services.

Now, as of 1811, the bulk of those called Seventh Day Baptists were NOT trinitarian. Notice a statement from their historian Henry Clarke:

As this denomination universally hold the Bible contains God's holy word ... I conclude they are believe in one God, the Father and maker of all things, sin excepted, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, or that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, also in the Holy Ghost as the operative power or spirit of God. But, there are few if any, of this denomination who believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are three absolute distinct persons, coequal, coessential, and coeternal Gods, and yet but one God: as such an idea would be in the face of scripture, and repugnant to right reason. (Clarke, pp. 61-62).

But the SDBs changed are were fully trinitarian shortly thereafter as they made a trinitarian declaration in 1833 in a document titled Expose of Sentiments.

The SDBs were not an especially large church:

The S.B. Baptist General Conference was organized in 1802 ..., it included ...1130 members ... The Conference now embraces some eighty churches and about eight thousand members (Andrews p. 502).

The "now" would have been 1873. As it became more Protestant, the SDBs grew some.

It appears that by 1808, many SDBs considered Protestants to be true Christian brothers (Randolph C.F. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), pp. 138-140). This differs from the COGs as we do not see it that way--we tend to consider most Protestants to be sincere people who do not fully understand the truth of God or the plan of God (a free online book of related interest might be Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism).

In 1825, the SDB church also temporarily put out of the ministry, one who taught against the immortality of the soul (ibid, p. 87). The COGs have always taught against the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul (An article of related interest may be Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?).

Another aspect of the SDB movement was military service. By the time of the revolutionary war, even some of its ministry decided to become part of the military (ibid, p. 45). This was not the practice of those in the COG (a related article of interest may be Military Service and the COGs).

Hence by the 1800s, major non-biblical changes had taken place within the Sabbatarian churches. But not all in Sardis were taken in by it.

Richard Nickels made this point about the SDBs and history:

Seventh Day Baptists cannot validly claim exclusive "ownership" of the history of Sabbatarians. SDB's today do not agree doctrinally with their Sabbatarian ancestors! Actually, today's faithful Church of God brethren are doctrinally closer to early English and American Sabbath-keepers than are today's liberal SDB's. Early American Sabbatarians rejected Trinity and immortal soul teaching, eschewed Christmas and Easter, promoted their faith much more than SDB's do today, and traced their spiritual ancestry directly to English Lollards, Waldensians, and the first century Church ... The oldest existing Seventh Day Baptist Church, the Mill Yard Church in London, England, began during the mid 1600's. The Mill Yard Church has apparently always kept the "Lord's Supper" on the fourteenth day of the first Hebrew month, but almost no American SDB churches have followed this practice. Today, SDB's accept Christmas, the Trinity, and immortal soul teaching. (Nickels R. Six Papers on the History of the Church of God. Sharing & Giving, Neck City (MO), 1993, p. 83).

On June 12, 1922, the prince of Ethiopia, Wixzezyxzrd Challoughezilzise, accompanied by his secretary, Elder Robert B. St. Clair (an Adventist turned Seventh Day Baptist), arrived at Stanberry, Missouri, where he spoke to audiences for several nights. How he came to visit Stanberry is unknown. The prince was well-educated, and quite a musician. In 1922 it was said that Ethiopia kept the Sabbath as a nation, and held many tenets of faith similar to the Church of God. While in Stanberry, the Prince was presented with two Bible Home Instructors (which have Church of God doctrine arranged according to subject in a question and answer form), which he apparently prized highly. From Stanberry he went to Marion, Iowa (previous headquarters of the Church of God), on his way to Chicago, from where he expected to return to Ethiopia. From St. Clair, Dugger was given "first insight" into the true facts of church history. Dugger learned that the Ethiopian church were Sabbath-keepers and dated their origin from seven hundred years before Moses, "and also that they called themselves the Church of Christ and Church of God." His curiosity piqued, Dugger learned from St. Clair that the Seventh Day Baptist church also called themselves "Church of God" during their early history in America, and showed Dugger certain books where this could be verified. Dugger learned that even as late as 1926, the name Church of God was on some old "Seventh Day Baptist" church houses in the East. Dugger came to conclude "that the Church of God does not date its history back to 1861 and then follow through the Seventh Day Baptist channels, but rather through that company of people who held to the same name we hold today and consequently our history is perpetuated without a break." (Nickels R. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Sharing & Giving, Neck City (MO), 1988, p. 120).

The above partially explains why A.N. Dugger and others have realized that the SDBs claims certain ancestor groups that held closer to COG doctrines than current SDB ones.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that in at least one group (called the Pine Grove or South Fork Church) that became an SDB congregation in 1839-1842, a new leader later came and taught adopted practices more like the COGs in the later 1800s, such as Passover on the 14th day of Nisan (Randolph, p. 202), footwashing (ibid, p. 15), the avoidance of swine as food (ibid, p. 203), etc. and it split in 1871 (ibid, p. 202) and the SDB portion became known as the Ritchie Church. The "mother group" (still known as South Fork, Church of Christ) did not apply to be part of the SDB South-Eastern Association when it formed in 1872 (ibid, p. 204), however eventually its more prominent members left and it became part of the SDBs in 1897 (ibid, p. 228).

Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

During the nineteenth century, there were clear separations of those in the COG and from those known as Seventh Day Baptists, as well as those known as Seventh-day Adventists.

In the early 1800s, there arose John Cottrell. Though considered to be a Seventh Day Baptist, he was not one in doctrine. Here is a report about him:

Cottrell is nearly eighty years of age, remembers the dark day of 1780, and has been a Sabbath-keeper more than thirty years. He was formerly united with the Seventh-Day Baptists; but on some points of doctrine has differed from that body. He rejected the doctrine of the trinity, also the doctrine of man's consciousness between death and the resurrection, and the punishment of the wicked in eternal consciousness. He believed that the wicked would be destroyed. (White J. Western Tour. The Review and Herald, June 9, 1853, p. 12)

The above are Church of God, not Seventh Day Baptist, doctrines--and he seemed to separate from the SDBs after they declared themselves SDBs and started to push, officially, for non-COG doctrines.

John Cottrell also, based on a comment from his son Roswell, would have seemed to consider himself part of the "Church of God." He did not have association with the organization known as Seventh Day Baptist for a number of years (presumably decades) because of differences of doctrine (Nickels R. Six Paper on the History of the Church of God. pp.41, 161-162). However, when he was elderly and influenced by his son Roswell, he fell to become a Seventh Day Adventist, so lost whatever succession he may have had by 1851 when he and Roswell both became SDAs. Note the SDAs were not trinitarian at that time, but well before then the Seventh Day Baptist organization was. Furthermore, it is not clear that the elderly John Cotterell understood various matters related to Ellen White, but perhaps mainly felt that James White's idea to get Sabbatarian non-SDBs to cooperate was a good one.

Both the SDAs and the SDBs currently consider themselves Protestant. In the 19th century, some other Sabbatarians considered the Protestants to be at least part of Babylon (cf. Hall WH. That Second Message. Advent and Sabbath Advocate, September 30, 1884, p. 203). In the 20th century, the old WCG tended to consider Protestants to be among the daughters of Mystery Babylon (cf. Revelation 17:5). In the 21st century, we in the CCOG are not Protestant and we consider them aligned with the Greco-Roman Catholic churches because of Protestant acceptance of many of their traditions over scripture.

That being said, here is a 20th century report related to the true COG and the SDBs and SDAs:

True Church Versus Seventh Day Baptists

Another congregation of early Sabbatarians settled on the South fork of Hughes River in West Virginia in Ridgie County and among them were leaders who lead contrary to the Sabbatarians then known as the Seventh Day Baptists. Of these Christians it is recorded that they “taught obedience to the ceremonial law and enforced on the church contrary to the faith of the Seventh Day Baptists denomination, abstainance from certain meats, peculiarities of dress and urged that the church should be governed by elders exclusively.”

That makes it very blunt that they certainly weren't the Seventh Day Baptists Church at all. And now he goes off on what we used to think. We used to think Adventists had originally been a branch of the true church, but they never were as we found from their own writings now in searching. They never were. Just like the Seventh Day Baptists never were the true church.

(Blackwell D. A HANDBOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology, April 1973, p. 210)

Here is a 21st century report on the SDBs:

Are Christians wrong to worship on Sunday when the biblical Sabbath is Saturday? Rob Appel, executive director of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference answers with a question of his own: “What day did Christ go to church? Saturday. OK, let’s be Christ like.”

... Saturday worship is not a definitive marker over which the church is willing to fight.

“It’s not a big thing,” said Appel ... “We are Baptist,” Appel said. “We just have a different day of worship”... North American churches once called Sabbath Baptists organized as a Conference in 1802. Although “we’ve been around a long time ... we’re small.” Appel attributes stunted growth in part to “our own fear.”

Early members were persecuted because of their Sabbath worship, which prompted “a tendency to keep to ourselves.”

“That mentality permeated from generation to generation,” he said. “We don’t feel that anymore ...”

... Seventh Day Baptists leave women’s ordination up to the local church. The Conference has issued no statement on ordination, although it has accredited some female pastors ...

The Sabbath theology takes second place, or third ...

“We’re Baptists first,” Kersten said. “When I send kids off to college, I encourage them to keep the Sabbath and find a good Sunday Baptist Church.” He said there are “so many theological problems” in other Sabbatarian groups that “Baptist” is more important than Saturday worship. (Jameson N.  'Baptist' comes first for Seventh Day Baptists.  Associated Baptist Press, June 29, 2011. This article was commissioned by the North American Baptist Fellowship. viewed 07/04/2011 )

There is no historical evidence that early SDBs ordained any women, and there is evidence that they would take stronger stands on the Sabbath that they now do.  The "theological problems"  that they have with groups like the Continuing Church of God seem to include the fact that we have retained historical Christian beliefs on matters such as the Godhead as well as other doctrines that the SDBs have abandoned.

Sadly, compromise and non-biblical changes have occurred throughout history. The SDBs bear little doctrinal relationship now to their spiritual ancestors. They, like many groups, have become essentially Protestant as they have adopted many of the Greco-Roman doctrines.  In this century they also seem to publicly admit that.

For more on them, check out the article: Seventh Day Baptists are Protestant, not Church of God.

Millerites and Adventists

The late Dr. Herman Hoeh reported his understanding:

In 1843 several followers of Miller in Washington, New Hampshire, became acquainted with the truth of the Sabbath. It was not until after the miserable disappointment of 1844, however, that the general body of adventists had the Sabbath question called to their attention. A small number accepted the Sabbath and SOON UNITED WITH THE FEW REMAINING CHURCH OF GOD BRETHREN who refused to be affiliated with the Seventh-day Baptist Conference (Hoeh, A True History of The True Church).

Dean Blackwell, who stated that the SDAs were never part of the COG, wrote:

Adventist Movement

William Miller, an earnest prophetical student and minister was the main leader in the movement of 1835, in which the time of the second coming of the Lord was set. His great enthusiasm for Christ's return and a partial knowledge of prophecy led him to believe that the Lord would come back in 1844. ... The year 1844, year of the disappointment, James White began publishing "The Messenger" at Rochester, New York. The name of the paper was later changed to "The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald." ... But that wasn't the location of the true church at all. (Blackwell D. A HANDBOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology, April 1973, p. 210)

Some affiliated with the Millerite movement, like James and Ellen White got exposed to the Sabbath and adopted it, as did some from a group that was called the Christian Connection. The Christian Connection was not COG, but did hold to certain COG doctrines such as anti-trinitarianism.

Ellen G. White claimed to be a prophetess and came up with explanations that those in the COG could not accept about why Jesus did not come as the Millerites thought He would (see also SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666). She claimed to receive 2000 visions or messages from God.

She opposed those who considered themselves to be Church of God.

Ellen White made the following comments as part of her "Testimony for the Church," No. 6:

"No name which we can take will be appropriate but that which accords with our profession, and expresses our faith, and marks us as a peculiar people. . .

"The name Seventh-day Adventist carries the true features of our faith in front, and will convict the inquiring mind. Like an arrow from the Lord's quiver, it will wound the transgressors of God's law, and will lead to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

"I was shown that almost every fanatic who has arisen, who wishes to hide his sentiments that he may lead away others, claims to belong to to the Church of God. Such a name would at once excite suspicion; for it is employed to conceal the most absurd errors."

(As cited in Loughborough JN. Rise and progress of the Seventh-day Adventists: with tokens of God's hand in the movement and a brief sketch of the Advent cause from 1831 to 1844. General Conference Association of the Seventh-day Adventists, 1892. Original from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  Digitized May 15, 2009, p. 227)

So, according to Ellen White's sixth “Testimony” nearly all who opposed her claimed to be part of the Church of God.

Looking over a variety of SDA books on its history makes it clear that most of the SDAs seem to believe that those who left it or were Sabbatarians that would not become part of them were fanatical people with character flaws and not committed Christians. The reality is that many in the Sardis period never were part of the SDAs.

Trying to paint those that did not accept Ellen White’s visions as from God as mainly rebels without self-control is highly misleading. (More on Ellen White, SDA differences, and some of Ellen White's prophetic errors can be found in the article SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666.)

The Cottrell Family Helps Prove that There Was a Long Line of Sabbath Keepers Prior to the Seventh-day Adventists

One family that was apparently part of one of those Sabbath-keeping churches in England, and later the church in Newport, Rhode Island, was the Cottrell family. And they may go back much farther than that as a Roman Catholic pronouncement suggests.

After various persecutions, the Roman Pope Leo IX actually decided that killing those associated with the Church of God was not appropriate. This was confirmed, later, by the Third Lateran Council in 1179, which apparently decided that economic blackmail was better:

As St. Leo says, though the discipline of the church should be satisfied with the judgment of the priest and should not cause the shedding of blood, yet it is helped by the laws of catholic princes so that people often seek a salutary remedy when they fear that a corporal punishment will overtake them. For this reason, since in Gascony and the regions of Albi and Toulouse and in other places the loathsome heresy of those whom some call the Cathars, others the Patarenes, others the Publicani, and others by different names, has grown so strong that they no longer practise their wickedness in secret, as others do, but proclaim their error publicly and draw the simple and weak to join them, we declare that they and their defenders and those who receive them are under anathema, and we forbid under pain of anathema that anyone should keep or support them in their houses or lands or should trade with them. If anyone dies in this sin, then neither under cover of our privileges granted to anyone, nor for any other reason, is mass to be offered for them or are they to receive burial among Christians. With regard to the Brabanters, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, Coterelli and Triaverdini {17 }, who practise such cruelty upon Christians that they respect neither churches nor monasteries, and spare neither widows, orphans, old or young nor any age or sex, but like pagans destroy and lay everything waste, we likewise decree that those who hire, keep or support them, in the districts where they rage around, should be denounced publicly on Sundays and other solemn days in the churches, that they should be subject in every way to the same sentence and penalty as the above-mentioned heretics and that they should not be received into the communion of the church, unless they abjure their pernicious society and heresy(Third Lateran Council, Canon 27. 1179 A.D. Translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner).

The Third Lateran Council took place under Pope Alexander III, Frederick I being emperor. There were 302 bishops present. It condemned the Albigenses and Waldenses (The 21 Ecumenical Councils. Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia, 02/12/06).

But economic boycotting and shunning was not enough to eliminate them, so killing soon became the preference.

The famous inquisition began in 1233 in southern France, when Pope Gregory IX charged the Dominican order with wiping out Cathari (which means the same thing as Puritan) and others not approved by the State church. There is a long history of European church leaders attempting to eliminate those part of, or sympathetic to, the Church of God (some of this is discussed in the article Europa, the Beast, and Revelation).

Anyway, there was a family from southern France condemned by the Third Lateran Council that made it through all of this and eventually made to America.

Notice the following, which also shows the Cottrells did not come from the Millerite movement:

R. F. Cottrell, of California, writes to me:—

"From the earliest records we possess, the `Cottrells' were an Albigensian family or clan of south-western France. In 1178 Pope. Alexander III issued in the name of the Roman Catholic Church a decree of extermination against them. I quote a part of it:—

" 'Thus the heretics who are called Catharins, Patarins, or Publicans, among the Albigensians, and in the territory of Toulouse . . . the Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, Cottrells, etc., . . the faithful who are bound to them by treaties, to be entirely free from their oaths, and we enjoin on them, for the remission of their sins, . . . to confiscate their goods, reduce them to slavery, and put to death all who are unwilling to be converted.' "—De Cormenin's "History of the Popes," Alexander III, par. 10, from end.

"The Cottrell family of England were all descended, as far as is known, from 'John Cottrell, the Norman,' who was one of the very few survivors of the Albigenses- of southern France. He escaped into northern France, and thence to England, where he was given a tract of land in Middlesex County.

"In 1638, two years after the founding of Rhode Island by Roger Williams, Nicholas Cottrell settled in Rhode Island."

Our pioneer, R. F. Cottrell, was the sixth in line, we are told, from that Nicholas Cottrell. In the three hundred years several Seventh Day Baptist preachers came of the Cottrell line. (Among names in other quotations given me by our brother, may I add, I find that of my own mother's family, which counted generations of Sabbath-keepers.) Thus our pioneer of western New York had a long ancestry of Sabbath-keeping behind him. (Spicer WA. Pioneer Days of the Advent Movement. Australian Record, October 2, 1944, p. 3)

When the Millerites were preaching about the second advent of Christ, R.F.C. was thirty years old. He had always believed in the personal coming of Christ; but did not trust in the Millerite preaching. "I saw the proclaimers of the advent in darkness in regard to the commandments of God and bowing to an institution of the Papacy," He explained,"...this was the reason I did not believe." (Steinweg M. Roswell Stenner Cottrell 1814-1892. Adventist Pioneer Library, Lest We Forget, Vol. 4, 2, 1994, p. 4)

R. F. Cottrell was a Sabbathkeeper before he found this movement. He heard the 1844 preaching, but let it pass by, because he knew the preachers of it were not keeping the commandments of God. ...

Years before this advent message came, this family had left the Seventh Day Baptists over the question of the immortality of the soul and other teachings, and were known as Seventh-day Christians or Disciples. A good-sized group grew up—a mixed church the members of which were sometimes called "Cottrellites." (Spicer WA. Other Men of the Early Fifties. Review and Herald, June 13, 1940, p. 8)

Roswell Cottrell, himself, wrote:

The Christian denomination anticipated the message concerning the fall of Babylon. They thought the Protestant churches were a part, at least, of that great city, had the come-out spirit, and anticipated the come-out cry, and it amounted to about this: Come out of Babylon, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and unite in free communion with "Babylon, Egypt, and Sodom." ...

My father and an uncle of mine, a brother of my mother, seceded from the S. D. Baptist church and planted them-selves upon the open-communion platform of the Christians.

The doctrines also of destruction instead of eternal conscious misery for the wicked, the pre-millenial the personal reign of Christ on earth, since de-nominated " Age to come," and the anticipated cry Babylon, together with open communion, were the chief things that led to the separation. These men led out as preachers, and began to gather, what. I may call, a seventh-day Christian church. But some would join with them, if they might do so and break the Sabbath and keep Sunday in its stead. My father opposed their reception on such terms, but my uncle favored it, and prevailed. ...

Quite a numerous church was gathered in the towns of Brookfield, Madison Co., and Plainfield, Otsego Co., N. Y., known in that region as Cottrellites ... (Cottrell RF. Sacred Notions. Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, February 9, 1869, p. 52)

So, putting this together we see John Cottrell had left the SDBs shortly after they started to call themselves that, was anti-trinitarian, taught the millennial reign on the earth, taught separation from Protestant churches, taught annihilation of the wicked, taught one is dead unconsciously until the resurrection, and kept the Sabbath.

Richard Nickels, who relied on multiple sources, 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 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.

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 members were sometimes termed "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, 1960, 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).

In other words, for around 700 years, we may have the continuity of one family at least being part of/affiliated with some of the groups that we in the COGs have long stated had the truth at various times in history (we never really teach that the SDAs had the whole truth, but only that some of those they attracted may have had some COG affilation; nor is it certain that the majority in that family held to many COG doctrines).

SDB Tamar Davis reported:

Lucius Crandall received an appointment to that field, which he continued for three years.  He was succeeded in 1846 by Libbeus Cottrel, a young man of considerable promise (Davis T., p. 154).

In a letter to the editor dated September 18, 1854, George Cottrell wrote to the Messenger of Truth (a publication denounced by the SDAs) asking for back issues. Regarding Ellen White's visions, he wrote:

But the visions never were any help to me in believing the present truth ... I do not think that they should be a test of Christian fellowship, and I think many are seeing it so. (Cottrell G. From Bro. Cottrell. Messenger of Truth, October 19, 1854, p. 4).

So, various Cottrells had concerns about the SDAs.

As far as their history goes, I should mentioned that I also saw Nicholas Cottrell’s name in a list of male, mainly, immigrants who settled in New England (mainly Rhode Island) and were Sabbath-keepers in what appears to be the late 17th and early 18th centuries (Dedication of Minsters' Monument, Aug. 28, 1899. By Hopkinton (R.I. : Town). First Hopkinton Cemetery Association, First Hopkinton Cemetery Association, Hopkinton, R.I. First Hopkinton cemetery association. Published by Printed for the Association by the American Sabbath tract society, 1899. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Mar 15, 2006, pp. 6,22).  The fact that was a reasonably long list (about 150 names) shows that Sabbath-keepers did come to the New World, and not just a few of them. I also found another manifest that some came over in 1854.

Another report states:

Tradition persists that the family of COTTRELL (also spelled as Cotterell, Catterell, etc.) was among the first of the Albigenses to find refuge in England, predating the Huguenot movement (Bierce, Thurber Hoffman and Cottrell, Lisle. Ancestors in the United States of Byron H. Bierce and His Wife Mary Ida Cottrell of Cortland County, New York, 1962. Original from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Digitized Jun 6, 2007, p. 94).

So we see that for at least two centuries, there was a Sabbath-keeping family in the Americas that came from Europe (and it is possible that this family was in the true church from no later than the 12th century) though apparently many of them came Adventists in the latter portion of the 19th century (I heard that there had been Cottrells in the 20th century who had once been part of the old WCG in Canada, but have not been able to verify this personally). I have personally spoken with retired Seventh-day Adventist minister, Stanley Cottrell (who often lectures on church history), who verified the Richard Nickels account with me on 7/29/08 and 7/30/08 and in June of 2020. Stanley Cottrell specifically confirmed that his family came from the Albigenses in France, moved to England, Anglicized their name, came to Rhode Island in 1638, and were seventh-day Sabbath-keepers--though he was not sure if they we were in Italy, France, or England.

I should probably add that in 1860 the group opposing the name Seventh Day Adventist became known as the Church of God (Seventh Day), though sadly some of Roswell Cottrell's descendants decided to become Seventh Day Adventists (and also SDBs) and not hold to all the historic COG teachings.

Church of God General Conference

The SDAs have reported the following about the group in Marion:

The Marion party adopted the name Church of God ... While retaining Sabbath observance, they differed in their understanding of the Millennium, favoring an earthly millennium at which time, with Christ’s presence upon the earth, all mankind will be converted.  They promoted the keeping of Old Testament Feast days and advanced the unscriptural notion that Christ died on Wednesday and arose Saturday afternoon, having spent seventy-two hours, three whole days and nights, in Joseph’s tomb.

... an offshoot of this church formed adopting the named Church of God (Seventh Day) (Standish RR, Standish C. The General Conference Confronts Apostasy.  Hartland Publications, , 2006, p. 84).

While we in the faithful Church of God do not teach that ALL of humankind will be converted (and it is possible that the SDA writer slightly misunderstood that point as I noted some other errors in that book, such as it called H.W. Armstrong, W.W. Armstrong), the doctrines listed above are consistent with the historical positions of the true COG (such as the fact that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday and was resurrected on a Saturday, for details, please see What Happened in the Crucifixion Week?).

Richard Nickels wrote:

Seventh-Day Adventist history states that the Church of God (Seventh Day) "was actually an early offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventists." But Church of God historian Andrew N. Dugger dogmatically contradicts this by stating that Sabbath-keeping Adventists were originally known as "Church of God" people, and that those who in October, 1860 formed the Seventh-Day Adventist church at Battle Creek, Michigan "are a branch from [and withdrew from] the original church, 'The Church of God'." In other words, the Seventh Day Church of God believes that the Seventh-Day Adventists withdrew from them, while the Seventh-Day Adventists believe the Church of God withdrew from Seventh-Day Adventists! A modern Seventh Day Church of God minister and a Seventh-Day Adventist minister concur on a more "liberal" viewpoint: in the early 1860's, the two groups parted their ways (Richard Nickels, History of the Seventh Day Church of God).

Throughout the history of the Church of God (Seventh Day) and the Seventh-Day Adventists, the two groups have been in diametric opposition to each other.

Basically, those that became known as the General Conference of the Church of God--and in 1923, Church of God (Seventh Day)--did not accept Ellen White’s visions and certain doctrines (especially her view that “the investigative judgment” began and that there would be no earthly millennium nor future “age to come” where those who did not truly have an opportunity for salvation would receive it) nor the name Seventh Day Adventist.  When these became imposed on Sabbatarian congregations who had expressed interest in cooperating with other Sabbatarians, there was a separation. (An article of related interest may be SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666.)

I would add that, for many reasons, I believe that only a small part of the COG may have been associated with the SDA movement and that most did not coalesce behind any group until the group that initially called itself Church of Christ or Church of God became more organized.

Because of misreporting, some have erroneously thought that the true Church adopted the named "Church of God, Adventist."

According to Robert Coulter (telecom with B. Thiel 5/19/20 and 3/01/21) there were some in Missouri who referred to themselves as Sabbatarian Adventists (they were NOT Seventh-day Adventists) in 1874. However, the use of that term greatly upset others in Missouri who quickly pushed for the term Church of God.

By 1875, the term Church of God was formally adopted in Missouri--and the term 'Sabbatarian Adventist' (or Church of God, Adventist) never was. By late 1874, the 'Adventist' term had been dropped by the relative few who had used it. The General Conference NEVER referred to itself as 'Adventist.'

Different groups had called themselves Church of God and in 1884 that name was officially adopted by the General Conference.

Robert Coulter also stated on 3/01/21 that the Longs would have been among those pushing for and supporting the name Church of God (Robert Coulter said he got a lot of his information from minutes of various conferences as other less published materials, along with some published sources).

Once Abraham and A.C. Long were part of it it had became more like the group that officially became Church of God (Seventh Day) (CG7) in 1923. I have various concerns and doubts about many of the 19th/early 20th century claimed leaders that CG7 writers have mentioned. Though, because of how it was confederately organized, some groups and individuals were part of the COG.

As far as where the members came from, notice something written by H.E. Carver to the SDBs that was published in the February 8, 1872, Seventh Day Baptist Sabbath Recorder:

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Sabbath-keepers scattered over the land, from the Atlantic coast to the shores of the Pacific, who do not belong either to your church organization, or that of the Seventh-day Adventists. Some of these are lonely ones, having no church privileges…Attempts have at different times been made to combine this Sabbath-keeping element in a distinct body; but as yet without the success desired. (As cited in Briggs, Lawson. What Became of the Church Jesus Built? Thesis for Ambassador College, April 1972, pp. 265,267)

Perhaps this would be a good place to include a quote from the editor of the Bible Advocate, in its November 23, 1909 issue (apparently Jacob Brinkerhoff at this time):

Some people have a mistaken idea of the members of the Church of God, or most of them, having previously being connected to the Seventh-day Adventists, when the fact is that not many of them ever were. (As cited in Briggs, p. 273)

The COG was not truly an off-shoot of the SDAs as the SDAs tend to teach.

It appears that only a very small part of the COG, if any, may have had much association with the early Adventist movement.

Here are beliefs of the General Conference:

Articles of Faithof the General Conference of the Church of God (1888)

The following Articles of Faith, expressing our belief in general, were adopted in lieu of former declarations.

1. We believe that God, the Creator, and Jesus Christ, His Son, the Redeemer, are personal beings.

2. We believe that repentance, conversion, baptism by immersion, a godly life through faith in the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, and His mediatorship for us, are the essential elements of salvation.

3. We believe that the law of God, contained in the ten commandments, forms the basis of a godly life, the standard by which to regulate it.

4. We believe that man is mortal and has no consciousness in death.

5. We believe that there will be a resurrection of the righteous to everlasting life, and the setting up of God's everlasting kingdom on the earth at the second coming of Christ.

6. We believe that there will be a resurrection of the wicked to a judgment of deeds done in this life, wherein life and probation for them forever ceases.

7. The prayer of faith, for the sick.

8. The ordination of ministers by the laying on of hands.


The following preamble was added in 1892: “We take the Bible and the Bible alone as our only rule of faith and practice. The following are some of the things it teaches and that we believe.”


Early Leaders

Some of those that the current Church of God (Seventh Day) Denver (CG7-D) accepts as their early leaders, like Gilbert Cranmer and Jacob Brinkerhoof, were clearly unitarian (General Conference Report, Catalog of Minutes. Stanberry, Missouri, August 1924, pp. 1-2 as quoted by Robert Coulter to Bob Thiel via telephone on 11/14/12). We in the CCOG do not accept them as part of our history nor trace ourselves through the Millerite nor SDA movements.

On the other hand, we accept COG leaders like Abraham G. Long. He was mainly from Pennsylvania (Coulter R, telecom 3/01/21).

Abraham Long was a Sabbatarian before the James and Ellen White were (perhaps he learned from the COG-type congregants from the Ritchie congregation), was never a Seventh-day Adventist, and was a COG leader (though he inquired about the SDAs and realized they were not COG after reviewing Ellen White materials according to Robert Coulter who confirmed that with me on the telephone 5/19/20 and 3/01/21), and a COG leader.

Two of his sons became part of the Church of God ministry.

We trace leadership mantle history through people like Abraham Long’s son A.C. Long. A.C. Long, himself, was too young to ever have been a Millerite. He was not an SDA. A.C. Long was not a unitarian since he taught the deity of Jesus (Coulter R. The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day). Robert Coulter, 2014, p. 190. Robert Coulter also confirmed this in a telephone call with Bob Thiel on 5/19/20).

Notice one report about one:

[I]n 1871 there began to appear reports of A.C. Long doing missionary work in Missouri and Kansas. In 1872 he preached in Harrison and Worth counties, close to Stanberry (Gentry County). ...

A.C. Long's Missouri Efforts

Apparently, much of the Missouri growth was due to the preaching efforts of A.C. Long. In early 1874, he held three months of meetings in Harrison and Worth counties. At Martinsville, he garnered seventeen converts and began a church. ...

One meeting lasted for three weeks, and was held at the Union School House near the Moore residence in Harrison County. Six converts were added, making 23 Sabbath-keepers in the area.

In the year 1900, A.C. Long, perhaps the leading Church of God minister since the 1870's, died ... A Church of God member since the 1860's, Long was born in Perry County, Pennsylvania, September 15, 1846. (Nickels R. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Giving & Sharing, 1999)

As the leading COG minister for that period of time, he would have held the mantle of succession.

A.C. Long argued for the deity of Christ. (Coulter R. The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day), p. 190)

Here is some of what he wrote about the pre-existence of Jesus:

Christ lived before Abraham. "Before Abraham was I am" John 8:58. Christ was in heaven before he came to earth. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven" John 8:13. "What if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" John 6:62. The plain and obvious meaning of all these passages is that Christ had pre-existence before his birth of the virgin Mary. (From 1886 as cited in Coulter R. The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day), p. 191)

A.C. Long's older brother was W.C. Long. Against the trinitarian view of the Godhead, he wrote:

We do not believe that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit constitute one person. (ibid, p. 190)

Notice something about him and a song book:

E.G. Blackmon of Neosho, Missouri, a former Seventh-Day Adventist minister, was converted through the efforts of W.C. Long in 1886. He was a songwriter and became a leading minister in the Church of God. By January of 1893 he had prepared a church hymnal called "Songs of Truth." Most of the hymns therein, the music as well as the words, were composed by Blackmon. The new church hymnal went through several revisions and "the black book" continued to be used for many years by the Church of God. As Kiesz stated, "The songs were slanted toward truth so that our people could freely sing them, not only with the spirit but with the understanding also." Blackmon died in 1912. (Nickels R. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Giving & Sharing, 1999)

Regarding succession, A.C. Long was a pre-Civil War Sabbatarian (later of Church of God in Missouri, later called Church of God, Adventist in 1884) who seemed to hold the succession mantle from 1871-1900.

He was followed by his brother W.C. Long from around 1900 -1905. He was succeeded by S. W. Mentzer 1905-1921. A.N. Dugger of the same church, renamed Church of God, Seventh Day (in 1923) specifically claimed his church had the succession mantle:

Succession in Apostolic Ordination

The Scriptures teach us most emphatically that the apostolic virtue and power was handed down from apostle to apostle by the divine ordinance of laying on of hands and prayer. -- Numbers 8:10, 27:28; Acts 6:6; 13:3; I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:5.

That the Sabbath-keeping "Church of God," has a most definite link of connection back through holy men to the days of the apostles is certain. (Dugger AN, Dodd CO.  A History of True Religion, 3rd ed.  Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, p. 308).

A.N. Dugger may have held it from 1921 through 1933 (another option for that period was John S. Stanford--who is discussed later). 1933 marked the end of the Sardis era dominance.

Here is another speculative succession list:

1871 - 1900 A.C. Long
1900 - 1905 William C. Long                                         
1905 - 1921 S. W. Mentzer
1921 - 1933 Andrew N. Dugger or 1922 - 1933 John S. Stanford

In 1933, there was a split and that church organization lost the mantle and it passed to Herbert W. Armstrong (Church of God Seventh Day, then in 1934 Radio Church of God, then in 1967 Worldwide Church of God), who held it until his death in 1986. It was seemingly picked up by Roderick C. Meredith or Dibar Apartian or Aaron Dean then (if Dibar Apartian or Dr. Meredith Radio, then Worldwide, then in 1993/4 Global, then in 1998 Living Church of God), until he died in late 2010 for Dibar Apartian. Or in the case of Dr. Meredith, he lost it no later than 2011 (consistent with a prophetic dream), when Bob Thiel (Worldwide, then Global, then Living, then in 2012 Continuing Church of God) was anointed to receive a double portion of God's Spirit in 2011 and was told by an LCG minister this was reminiscent of passing of the mantle and that seemed applicable (for more on the mantle, check out the article: Herbert W. Armstrong, the Philadelphia Church, & the Mantle).

Notice also:

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

Andrew Dugger retained leadership from June of 1914 until 1932/1933--then later in his new organization.

CG7-D reported the following history about itself:

Dec. 1899 - General Conference (G.C.) incorporated in Missouri.
1900 Magazine changes name to Bible Advocate and Herald of the Coming Kingdom.
1903 Michigan pioneer Gilbert Cranmer dies.
1906 Andrew N. Dugger begins ministry.
1914 Jacob Brinkerhoff retires; A. N. Dugger becomes Advocate editor.
1900-22 Church expands from the Midwest to West Coast, deep South, East, and High Plains; over 1,000 members added in 1921.
1923 The name Church of God (Seventh Day) is adopted.
1925 Bible Advocate ceases to be open forum for debatable Issues.
1927 G.C. resolution calls for doctrinal conformity among membership.
1931 A. N. Dugger visits Jerusalem, proposes it for Church headquarters.
1932 Returning from Jerusalem, Elder Dugger moves to restore “Bible organization,” i.e., use of 12, 7, and 70 within the Church.
1933 Meeting in Stanberry, MO, the G.C. divides over Elder Dugger’s candidacy for president; a segment of members institutes “Bible organization” in Salem, WV. (100 Years of Church of God Seventh Day (CG7) History, from The Bible Advocate, December 1999. 6/24/06).

Notice that it had a split in 1933, which is when the Philadelphia era began.

The group in Stanberry eventually relocated to Denver, Colorado. CG7-D does NOT teach succession from the apostles, but that they began with Gilbert Cranmer in the 1800s. CG7-Salem (where A.N.Dugger went) does teach succession from the apostles (Our Apostolic Church. The Advocate of Truth, September 24, 2018, pp. 5-6).

In the 1920s, Sardis seemed to have outreaches throughout the world. In the 1920s, CG7 had works in Argentina, Australia, several Balkan states, Barbados, Bermuda, Boliva, Canada, Costa Rica, China, Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, England, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palestine, Panama, South Africa, Sweden, Trinidad, United States of America, West Africa, and elsewhere (Nickels. History of the Seventh Day Church of God, pp. 100-122). In the 1920s, in addition to English, Church of God literature was produced in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German, Spanish, Chinese, two Indian languages, Portuguese, French, and Italian (Nickels, pp. 100,113).

Under A.N. Dugger, CG7 taught a fair amount about prophecy and other matters.

It should be noted that CG7 was then quite small. Richard Nickels reported:

In 1927, the Church of God Seventh Day, or Church of God Adventist, as it was variously known, had scattered members probably numbering less than 2,000 mostly in rural areas, and only a very limited number of local churches, none as large as 100 members...…The year 1929 saw a downturn of events for the Church of God.  From 1922-1929 converts never matched the the year 1922. (Ibid, p. 2, 124)

The above seems mainly to be the USA membership; the amount in other nations was probably not high, but was not in the above source.

In 1929, Herbert Armstrong had written A.N. Dugger about certain points that A.N. Dugger (then CG7 president) admitted in writing were correct (see the actual letter in the article Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today?). Later Herbert Armstrong wrote the following about it:

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 to God! Yet, here was the only Church holding to the one greatest basic truth of the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, 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).

A.N. Dugger, who would not change because he feared a split, however, still ended up with a split church. Four years after he admitted that Herbert Armstrong was right in writing, CG7 divided into two parts after a Conference on August 18, 1933.

Herbert Armstrong later wrote:

I continued to work with and fellowship with West Coast members of the Sardis era until 1942, when the rapidly growing work of the fledgling Philadelphia era required my full time. The present era was officially begun in October, 1933. (Armstrong H. Worldwide News, Special edition, June 24, 1985)

1933 is the year that Herbert Armstrong felt that the Philadelphia era began.

It also should be pointed out that what seems to be a 21st century group, claims to essentially represent the Salem split.

They call themselves Jerusalem 7th Day Church of God.

They are a sacred name group, try to insist that the true COG needs to be based in Jerusalem in the end times (see also Does the Church of God need to be headquartered in Jerusalem?), they do not properly keep Passover, do not proper teach the gospel of the kingdom of God as a witness, and have significant prophetic errors. They also have made claims related to some other CG7 groups which those groups denied when I spoke with their leaders. For more on them, check out the article J7DCG: Jerusalem 7th Day Church of God.

Three Unique Doctrines

According to A.N. Dugger, there are three unique doctrines that separated the COGs from the Protestant and Greco-Roman Catholic sects: The observance of the seventh day Sabbath, nontrinitarianism, and teaching against the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. According to A.N. Dugger and C.O. Dodd, only the COGs held ALL three of those doctrines. And he may have been correct in that:

From the quotation taken from the letter of the Sabbatarian Baptist, Elder William Davis, it is noted that this noted Sabbatarian of whom he speaks was not only a Sabbath-keeper, but also one who held to the truth of the individuality of Jesus Christ and his heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit of God, and to the truth of immortality only through Christ. There is no body of Christians in the world, with the exception of the Church of God, which teaches all three of these beautiful truths, hence, we know this man was of the Church of God, and contended for the "faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, p. 278).

In the quotation they refer to, W. Davis calls the non-Seventh Day Baptist one with an "Anti-Trinitarian error." Throughout history, the true Church of God has been binitarian (an article of related interest may be Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning). In August 1924, CG7 officially wrote the following about the Godhead:

The Church of God recognizes two Divine Beings called God, the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. (General Conference Report, Catalog of Minutes. Stanberry, Missouri, August 1924, pp. 1-2 as quoted by Robert Coulter to Bob Thiel via telephone on 11/14/12; also Coulter, The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day), p. 194)

And it is not just binitarianism that marked the most faithful. Throughout recorded history, the true COG generally also observed of the Passover on the 14th day of Nisan (see article on Passover). A newspaper account reported that this was reported to be observed in the USA, by a Sabbath-keeping congregation, as early as the late 1600s.

The Cranmer-era group did not seem to do this originally, but it was advocated in 1872 and basically accepted from then on (Coulter R., The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day), p. 182). CG7 officially declared it in 1917 (Ibid, p. 183).

CG7-D and CG7-S still use the 14th date, as do those remaining in the ThyatiraPhiladelphia, and Laodicean portions of the COG.

CG7-D used to teach church eras, but now it does not--CG7-S (Salem group) seems to.

Dugger & Dodd's writings did endorse Church Eras as did some of their earlier writers,

J.T. Williamson in the April 1, 1924, Bible Advocate said, "to properly describe the conditions of this Church, from Christ's first advent until His second coming, this entire period of time [of the New Testament Church] is subdivided into seven periods ... The first period or Apostolic age is called the Church of Ephesus" ... He goes on to divide Church history into seven periods, based on the seven churches (Nickels R. Seven Churches of Revelation. Study 164. G&S).

Sardis Continues to Have a Name, But Changed Doctrines and ...

Not all during the Sardis era were officially part of the main CG7 group.

Some were associated with them for a time, but left--many for doctrinal reasons.

Church of God related leaders such as Greenberry G. Rupert, R.K. Walker, Frank Walker, and J.W. Rich had “Anglo-Israel” (also known as “British-Israelism”) beliefs and teachings in the early 20th century:

In 1920, R.K. Walker moved to Finley, Oklahoma, and soon met Elder M.W. Unzicker at Sardis, Oklahoma. This was the first Church of God man he had met. At the behest of Walker, Unzicker held meetings at Finley, and baptized Frank Walker to be a Church of God evangelist for the Oklahoma Conference, and Walker began his first meeting for the Church of God on May 19, 1923. Frank Walker began preaching at Crowder, Oklahoma in 1924. In 1987, Elder Frank Walker was independent and still publishing a paper, Hope of Israel, from St. Maries, Idaho.

It is interesting that the Walkers, Rupert and Rich held to "Anglo-Israel" beliefs. So did an Elder Ziegler, who put out a paper, The Torch of Israel, published in Washington, D.C. Ziegler tried unsuccessfully to work with Eyler.

G.G. Rupert established his own paper, the Remnant of Israel, published in Britton, Oklahoma, beginning in 1915. Rupert, a former Seventh Day Adventist minister, taught and practiced the keeping of all the annual sabbaths, or holy days. He also had a form of "British Israelism"... Rupert's article on the holy days was printed in the Bible Advocates of 1913, and two of Rupert's most popular books were the Yellow Peril and Inspired History of the Nations. (Nickels R.C. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Giving & Sharing, Neck City (MO), 1988, p.76).

In December, 1919, Merritt Dickinson of Longdale, Oklahoma wrote a series of articles in the Advocate ... Dickinson stated in the article that England is Ephraim and America is Manasseh, and presumably the rest of the Ten Lost Tribes are in northwestern Europe. (Ibid, p. 142)

And while versions of this view are still held by most groups with origins in the old WCG, the main CG7 group, never would teach it (despite A.N. Dugger admitting its truth in a letter to Herbert W. Armstrong; see photo of letter from A.N. Dugger, dated July 28, 1929 in Autobiography, 1973 edition, p.372). A.N. Dugger also admitted the truth of the Anglo-Israelism doctrine to Merritt Dickinson in 1912, but A.N. Dugger would not teach it (Nickels, p. 143).

Herbert W. Armstrong as well as G.G. Rupert felt that what Christ said regarding Sardis described the Church of God, Seventh Day (CG7):

Rupert and Armstrong both held that the Church of God (Seventh Day), headquartered at Stanberry, Missouri, was the “Sardis era” of the Church, while Stanberry believed itself to be the “Laodicean era.” (Nickels R.C. Six Paper on the History of the Church of God. Giving & Sharing, Neck City (MO), 1993, p.196).

Specifically Herbert Armstrong wrote about events in 1931:

After about two week of our Umapine meetings, a letter from Mrs. Florence Curtis, secretary of the State Conference, informed us that a business meeting had been called ... At precisely 5:30 the next morning, Mr. and Mrs. Preston and I bade Elder Dailey goodbye ...

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 ...

Later research into church history identified where we stood, at the moment, in the prophecy concerning the seven stages, or eras of God's Church from the time of the original apostles, up to Christ's return to earth and establishment of the Kingdom of God. I had been fellowshipping with, working with, the latter part of the Sardis era, as described in Christ's own words in Revelation 3:1-5 (Armstrong HW. Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, 1973 edition, p. 450).

Herbert W. Armstrong also taught that there were at least 18 biblical truths that the true COG originally had, but were lost by the main body in the Sardis era. And these truths are in addition to those "unique ones" that A.N. Dugger reported were minimal requirements of the COG (as well as many others that the COG has held throughout history).

G.G. Rupert had distanct affiliation with the Dugger group, but was always independent. After his death in 1922, he seems to have been succeeded by John S. Stanford.

Stanford wrote that Jesus comes "at the end of the six thousand· years" (Remnant of Israel, April 1927, p. 1).

Here is more information about him:

The meaning of the fall Holy Days was clearly expressed by John S. Stanford in the Remnant of Israel of September 1929. ... After Rupert’s death, Stanford apparently took real leadership of the movement ... What happened to the paper after November 1929 is not known. (Nickels R. Remnant of Israel. An Analysis of G.G. Rupert and His Independent Church of God (Seventh Day) Movement, 1915-1929. August 15, 1972; Revised, 1993)

Remant of Israel ... Nov 1928, pp.1-2 In this article Stanford proves the Saturday resurrection doctrine and 3 literal days and nights in the grave:]“Jesus Lived, Died, Was Buried and Rose,"According To the Scriptures"” ...

Sept 1930, p.1 Article on “The Feast of the Tabernacles (Lev. 23: 34)” by John S Stanford (White CM. Significant Quotes from The Remnant of Israel, version 1.1)

John S. Stanford, a Remnant editor, wrote that it is wrong for Christians to vote (Remnant of Israel, September 1928. As stated in The Remnant of Israel. Richard Nickels' Reprint 1993, p. 191).

Note: Remnant of Israel was put out in 1930 and 1931, so Richard Nickels comment about ceasing in November 1929 was premature. Herbert W. Armstrong taught many of the doctrines that the G.G. Rupert/John S. Stanford group taught.

Anyway, related to voting, most in the Churches of God do not vote.

It should be emphasized that even CG7-D admits that it changed some of its early teachings. Notice what a retired former president of CG7-D, Robert Coulter, admitted on two of the restored truths:

... there was a point in time when some ministers in the Church of God (Seventh Day) taught that we were begotten but not born again ...

But that was a temporary thing [in the CG7]. It was like going through a phase. The church finally said, no, our conversion is a completed work. When Jesus said you must be born again, He facilitates the spiritual rebirth of the convert, and it’s a completed work. We continued then to strive for sanctification, a lifelong process.

Anyway, we abandoned that position years and years ago ... (Cartwright D. Former CG7 president gives his understanding of history of Church of God and Mr. Armstrong. The Journal: News of the Churches of God. Sep-Dec 2008).

Thus, CG7-D admits that it changed (or in Herbert W. Armstrong words, lost) at least two of the truths that it once had. Robert Coulter admitted this and more to me personally when I met with him in 2015. (As far as 'born again' and the Hope of Israel goes, check out the article Born Again: A Question of Semantics?).

CCOG’s Bob Thiel and CG7’s Robert Coulter

Recall that Jesus taught, "you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God."

Since Herbert W. Armstrong's death in January 1986, CG7-Denver has more and more failed to "strengthen the things which remain" and has made the move towards becoming more Protestant.

As recently as October 2003, its then president urged its members to celebrate Reformation Month and to meditate on Martin Luther's accomplishments (note: there is another CG7 group from Meridian Idaho that has not made that type of error, nor has CG7-S as far as I can tell).

CG7-Denver is heading further towards Protestantism and is warned that its most of its members will not notice when Jesus will come (Revelation 3:3), but a few may as CG7 does still observe the seventh-day Sabbath, observes the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, keeps the ten commandments, etc.).

CG7-D also no longer teaches Church eras, though it once did (see A. Dugger's A History of the True Religion, 1990 reprint). It also down plays prophecy (please see in the article Church of God, Seventh Day). It no longer emphasizes the "age to come" doctrine that its earliest pioneers embraced.

CG7-D teaches that most of the Olivet prophecies (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) have been fulfilled, that there are no future powerful beasts of Revelation 13, and that Christians are not prophesied to experience the persecutions shown in Daniel and Revelation (they teach that they have come to pass, see Coulter, The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day), pp. 204, 206-207, 210 as well as the article Church of God, Seventh Day).

The current CG7-D's lack of prophetic knowledge (which may even be a residual effect of being turned off the subject because of Ellen White) is probably part of why Jesus warned Sardis, "you will not know what hour I will come upon you" (Revelation 3:3).

CG7-D also does seem to fulfill the prophesy to it that it has "a name that you are alive, but you are dead." While this may also been true of the Church in Sardis in the late 16th century, it is true of CG7-D in the 21st century (more information can be found in the article Church of God, Seventh Day).

Ancient Sardis

As far as anicient Sardis goes, closer to the time that Revelation was written, notice the following:


   Sardis was founded in the twelfth century before Christ, and was one of the oldest and most important cities of Asia. It was located about thirty-five miles southeast of Thyatira. Until captured by Cyrus in 549 B.C., Sardis was the capital of the kingdom of Lydia, and became so again after the fall of the Roman power in Asia in A. D. 395. Lydia was one of the richest kingdoms of the ancient world. The Lydians are reputed to have been the inventors of coined money. Speaking of their wealth, the historian Ridpath says: "A great cause of the prosperity and wealth of the Lydian kingdom was the natural fertility of the country. No other of all Asia Minor had so rich a soil.

   The ancient city of Sardis was built on a plateau of crumbling rock rising 1,500 feet above the plain. The plateau was a part of Mount Tomolus, whose height was 6,700 feet. The walls of the elevation on which the city was built were almost perpendicular, and the city was inaccessible except by one narrow passage which was steep and easily fortified and guarded. Sardis was considered an impregnable fortress.

Citizens Overconfident

   The natural defenses of Sardis made the guards and citizens proud and overconfident. The walls were carelessly guarded, with sometimes fatal results. Because of the failure of the guards to watch, Cyrus captured the city by stratagem in 549 B. C. Solon had warned Croesus not to be too confident of safety from attack, but even after the army of Cyrus appeared on the plain below, he saw no reason for concern. But the unexpected happened. One dark night a Persian soldier resolved "to approach the citadel" and attempt to climb the precipice "at a place where no guards were ever set." There the rock was so "precipitous and impracticable" that it would seem impossible to scale it. Herodotus says that the soldier "climbed the rock himself and other Persians followed in his track, until a large number had mounted to the top. Thus Sardis was taken, and given up entirely to pillage. "But the lesson was soon forgotten, for 330 years later the city was again captured through stratagem by Antiochus the Great.

Appropriate Message

   Sardis means "those escaping" or "that which remains. "The name, the message, and the subsequent history of the city and church, indicate a good start but a bad finish, a change for the worse. Sir William Ramsay calls Sardis "the city of death." Its history is just the opposite of that of Smyrna, which "Was dead and is alive;" or is "the city of life." Sardis had "a name that thou livest, and art dead." Like Ephesus, the city and church of Sardis began with a glorious history and ended in a heap of ruins.

   Sardis is now heaps of ruins, with no signs of life. It is indeed "the city of death."

   Sardis never fully recovered from the earthquake of A.D. 17, and was only partially rebuilt. When this epistle was written, the city was rapidly waning in prestige and glory, but its inhabitants were still boastful of the reputation and history of the past. Decay and death were inevitable, but the Sardians refused to recognize the fate of the city and continued to live on its ancient glory. The city had a name only, whereas in reality it was dead, or rapidly dying.(Bunch, Taylor G. The Seven Epistles of Christ. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1947 as cited in The Seven Cities of Asia Minor, Ambassador College Study Guide, pre-1987, pp. 7-8).

My wife and I have visited this area. Here is a link to: Joyce's Photos of Sardis.


The Sardis Church has an interesting history. For the most part, it was relatively unorganized until the early 20th century.

The separating of the Church of God from those known as Seventh Day Baptists (SDBs) seems to have also occurred during this era of the church in the 18th and 19th centuries. Those known as Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) seem to have had distant contact with some with COG doctrines.

Both the SDBs and SDAs now are fairly closely aligned with Protestant doctrines and other than the Sabbath, no longer hold many of the teachings unique to the true Church of God (more on them can be found in the free online book: Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism).

Over time, the Sardis era has lost more and more truth that it once had.Here are links to two historical sermons: Sardis Church Era: Beginnings, Doctrines, and Leaders and Sardis: SDBs, SDAs, & CG7s.

The Sardis era itself became less dominant in the 1930s, as the Philadelphia era of the true Church of God began to emerge. And although there are many still today in remnants of the Sardis Churches, the fact is that Jesus suggests that only a few of them are worthy to walk with Him today. And that nearly all affiliated will not understand end-time prophetic events. Sardis is a chuch that Jesus truly warned about, though He praised Philadelphia.

More information can be found in the article The Philadelphia Church.

Here is a link to: Joyce's Photos of Sardis.

Previous Church was Thyatira                                                                          Next Church is Philadelphia

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B. Thiel, Ph.D. The Sardis Church Era. (c) 2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014/2017/2018/2019/2020/2021 /2022 0121

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from circa 31 A.D. to present
The Ephesus Church Era predominant from circa 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D.
The Smyrna Church Era predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D.
The Pergamos Church Era predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D.
The Thyatira Church Era predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D.
The Sardis Church Era predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D.
The Philadelphia Church Era predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D.
The Laodicean Church Era predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present

CG7-D: Church of God, (Seventh Day): History and Teachings Nearly all COG's I am aware of trace part of their history through some affiliation with this group. Loren Stacy is the president of the largest CG7 USA group (Denver). Do you know much about them?
CG7-S: Church of God 7th Day, Salem (West Virginia) This group formed by A.N. Dugger in 1933 when he split from the CG7 group he was once president of.
J7DCG: Jerusalem 7th Day Church of God A sacred name group claiming A.N. Dugger and a Jerusalem headquarters.

Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from 31 A.D. to the 21st century.