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The Living Church of God (LCG) is one of the church groups formed by followers of the late Herbert W. Armstrong. It was formed as a series of major doctrinal changes were introduced in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) after Armstrong's death in 1986. It is one of the many Sabbatarian Churches of God to leave Armstrong's organization.
LCG's leader is Roderick C. Meredith (b. June 21, 1930), who had been a high ranking, senior-most evangelist in WCG.
Following his graduation in June 1952, Meredith was assigned by Armstrong to start and pastor congregations in Portland, Oregon, San Diego, California, Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. On December 20, 1952, after summoning him back to the WCG's headquarters in Pasadena, California from his pastorship in Oregon, Armstrong ordained him and four other men - including his uncle Dr. C. Paul Meredith - to the high-ranking position of evangelist. These men were the very first evangelists of the WCG. Meredith was the youngest of the newly ordained men, and was the fifth to be ordained.
Over the following years, Meredith would help start up scores of congregations throughout the United States. He would also conduct many baptizing and evangelizing tours in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Africa. From the early to mid-1950s, and again in 1960, he was assigned by Armstrong to live in Britain to start up congregations for the Church.
For many years he was one of the WCG's leading theologians, top executives, and instructors at Ambassador College. Meredith for many years oversaw the ministry in the WCG.
After Armstrong died, WCG began to change many of its core doctrines, a process that brought the organization into the mainstream of Christianity, something many members objected to, hundreds of splinter groups arising as a result.
Meredith initially founded the Global Church of God in 1992, but was controversially fired in 1998 as chairman of its board and presiding evangelist. Meredith left to form LCG, incorporating the church in San Diego, California in December 1998. His dismissal was widely unpopular with most of the GCG membership, and as much as 80 percent left the organization to come with him.
In 2003, the church's corporate headquarters was moved from San Diego to Charlotte, North Carolina. By 2011, the church reported it had 330 congregations in 45 countries, with over 8,000 members attending its annual 8-day long festival of the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day at 46 sites in 31 countries located in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America, and South America. An independent auditor specializing in non-profits reported for 2010 the church had an annual income of over $14.3 million (US). LCG's revenue is collected through tithes, which are 10% of gross income regardless of source, holy day offerings, and contributions from its members and others.
Other beliefs include:
Shortly after LCG's incorporation, it started producing a weekly half-hour television program, Tomorrow's World. As of 2007, the show is anchored by Meredith, Richard Ames, Rod King and Wallace G. Smith.
It is carried on 211 television stations throughout the world. In May 2006, LCG's media department reported the show was accessible to nearly 78 million American households, or 71 percent of the American television market.
According to reports in March 2007 by Nielsen Research, the program was estimated to reach an average of 50,000 new viewers each week. To date,[when?] approximately 320 programs have been taped and televised since 1999.
A free bi-monthly magazine and website by the same name is also published, with 1.8 million copies being mailed to subscribers in 2006. From the magazine's inception in 1999 through May 2007, 8.3 million copies had been sent out.
The church produces several foreign-language radio programs, which are broadcast on 15 stations. These include a Spanish language program titled El Mundo de Mañana (Tomorrow's World). It is presented by Mario Hernandez, who also is the presenter of the Spanish language telecast by the same name. The second radio broadcast, mainly throughout the Caribbean, is the French language program titled Le Monde Demain (Tomorrow's World). Up until his death in 2010, it was presented by longtime LCG evangelist and radio presenter Dibar Apartian.
In 2007, LCG launched Living University, an unaccredited nonprofit online distance learning institution and is exploring accreditation for its undergraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates.
In March 2005, an LCG congregation in Brookfield, Wisconsin was attacked by gunman Terry Ratzmann, a church member. Seven LCG members, including three children and the pastor, were killed. The killings thrust LCG into the national spotlight.
No motive was determined by police but authorities examined possible religious connections to the shooting. However, other motives are likely including the recent loss of job, and mental factors, among other possible reasons.