EDMOND—Philadelphia Church of God Pastor General Gerald Flurry hosted a personal appearance campaign for 333 Trumpet subscribers July 16-17 in the Chicago, Illinois, suburb of Oak Brook. The Sunday- and Monday-night lectures focused on the hope in Bible prophecy and on God’s master plan. The campaign was Mr. Flurry’s first since 2008.
On July 16, Mr. Flurry, television department head Andrew Locher, cameraman Dwight Falk and online marketing manager David Vejil improvised after the pcg’s jet was temporarily put out of service, quickly chartering a jet in Oklahoma City and flying to the Chicago Midway airport. Northeast United States Regional Director Cal Culpepper and Illinois Preaching Elder Eric Anderson drove the men from the hangar to the hotel, where Mr. Flurry spent the rest of the afternoon preparing his message.
Meanwhile, the other men joined pcg volunteers who had arrived at the large Chicago Marriott Oakbrook hotel ballroom to set up nearly 500 chairs, a small stage with a red Key of David/Philadelphia Trumpet backdrop, a projector screen and projector, lighting and audio/video equipment, and several tables for scanning tickets, distributing pcg literature, and signing up audience members interested in attending follow-up Bible studies.
“Because of the delay in getting to Chicago, it was an amazing relief to arrive to the hall with everything already set up,” Mr. Locher said. “We were super-pleased with the volunteers’ willingness to come early and stay late until the last person left the hall.”
Mr. Culpepper, who served as the campaign’s local coordinator, said, “To say the members were excited is an understatement.” He said that the atmosphere during setup had the same flavor as the intense and cheerful setup for the Feast of Tabernacles. More than 30 members, along with five ministers, contributed, driving in from four states and from as far away as 300 miles.
Mr. Culpepper said that some of the members had taken time off from work to volunteer. He added that the volunteers were a joy to work with and noted that they responded well to the instructions from the campaign manual.
Before the doors opened, Mr. Culpepper led the volunteers in prayer, emphasizing a sobering and inspiring quote from Mr. Flurry’s booklet Ezra and Nehemiah—Building God’s Temple: “[W]hen we fully realize that God’s eye is upon us, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.”
Then the first attendees began to arrive. They were among a total of 6,117 Trumpet subscribers in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio who had received three invitation letters beginning in May. A total of 611 subscribers ordered tickets, and of those, 187 attended the lecture on the first night, along with 75 Philadelphia Church of God members.
Mr. Culpepper welcomed the crowd and gave a brief introduction, which was followed by a video presentation about escalating world events and God’s warning message.
Mr. Flurry then spoke for 75 minutes about “The Hope in Bible Prophecy.” He praised people in the Chicago area for producing the best response in the U.S. to his Key of David television program. The Key of David aired from 1993 to May 2017 on the wgn superstation and on other Chicago-area stations. It now airs on three smaller stations in the area.
Mr. Flurry then spoke about the number one problem American college students have today: anxiety.
“I was especially moved by his comments about anxiety,” Mr. Culpepper said. “[H]e mentioned that if he had a problem with anxiety, he would pray his way through it. … That is a real-world issue, even for people in the Church. I thought it showed hope and faith.”
“I’m talking about a living hope that Bible prophecy brings to anybody who really understands it,” Mr. Flurry said. He then went on to detail imminent threats to America posed by North Korea, Russia, Iran, Germany and China. “We’re facing a nuclear problem that, if it’s started, is going to become a nuclear nightmare,” he said.
Mr. Flurry described the four Gentile kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, prophesied in Daniel 2. He recounted the description in Daniel 4 of God forcing Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to eat grass like a beast for seven years to remind him that God rules in the kingdom of men. Mr. Flurry said that there are actually five kingdoms in Daniel 2, and God is the ruler of the fifth kingdom, which will soon crush the last of the previous four human kingdoms.
“God is not phony! God is not a fantasy,” Mr. Flurry declared. “God is real, and you can prove that beyond the shadow of a doubt.”
Bible prophecy builds faith, Mr. Flurry said, but only if humans will bring God into the prophecy. Without God, he said, prophecy is just carnal titillation, as useless as chaff blown in the wind.
Mr. Flurry also asserted that nothing on Earth matters more than physical family, because it points humans to the God Family. God is inviting a few people today to become the Bride of Jesus Christ and to produce billions of children for His Family, he said.
Mr. Flurry concluded by quoting Jesus Christ’s admonition in Luke 21:34-36 to “watch you therefore and pray always,” urging the audience to be diligent as times grow increasingly dangerous.
“I was amazed how he painted a picture of this way of life,” Mr. Culpepper said. “He reminded me of Mr. Armstrong by addressing the audience like a loving grandfather helping to guide the way.”
Audience members, including PCG members who drove from as far as Wisconsin and Ohio, lined up to meet Mr. Flurry after the lecture. Mr. Flurry talked with them for over an hour.
“Those who were in the line were excited to meet him, and several wanted to take pictures with him too,” Ohio Preaching Elder Victor Vejil said. “I had a couple of conversations on subjects that were discussed in the lectures. Overall, I feel there was a warm response to Mr. Flurry and his messages.”
Out of the 527 Trumpet subscribers who requested tickets for the second night of the campaign, 140 non-members and 50 members heard Mr. Flurry’s lecture “God’s Master Plan for You Personally.” Mr. Flurry recounted Mr. Armstrong’s dual challenge to prove the Sabbath and to disprove evolution. The Sabbath day is made for man, Mr. Flurry said, quoting from Mark 2:27.
Mr. Flurry said that the Sabbath is a memorial of creation and cited Exodus 31, saying that the weekly Sabbath and the annual holy days describe God’s master plan for mankind.
Mr. Flurry said that Satan’s counterattack for God’s Sabbath is the false theory of evolution, which he branded “a dumb faith.” He recommended studying the two theories of origin, the Sabbath and evolution, together. When the Sabbath is kept properly, he said, it is impossible to believe in evolution even as a first cause, since the Sabbath points back to the creation week outlined in Genesis 1.
Mr. Flurry then summarized the seven annual biblical observances commanded by God: Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day.
“If that is not a beautiful plan, I don’t know what is,” Mr. Flurry said. “God loves humanity. God is not a respecter of persons.”
Finally, Mr. Flurry implored the audience to build urgency fit for a tumultuous age, and to put away all doubt. He held up his Bible and said, “I hope you will prove what I’m saying from this book, which is Jesus Christ in print.”
Mr. Flurry and the rest of the group flew home late that night, arriving in Oklahoma City at 12:35 on the following morning.
A total of 440 seats were filled at both lectures by Mr. Flurry. The 333 individual attendees requested a total of 808 pieces of literature, including 145 copies of Great Again, 143 copies of He Was Right and 142 copies of How to Be an Overcomer.
David Vejil said that according to the partial data available, the campaign appears to have had the seventh-largest attendance of the 24 campaigns Mr. Flurry has given. He noted that it attracted the second-highest non-pcg member attendance.
Vejil also estimated that the 2017 Chicago campaign had the second-highest attendance compared to the total number of letters mailed, and had the second-lowest drop-off rate from the first night to the second night.
At the lectures, 37 people signed up for a follow-up Bible study on July 30, and 35 signed up for a follow-up Bible study on August 13. Mr. Culpepper, who is presenting the studies, reported that 34 of the 37 people who signed up attended on July 30 and heard a message on “Living Faith.” He also said that two additional studies are planned for September 10 and September 24.
Five people who had been counseling with pcg ministers in the northeast region and who attended the Chicago campaigns are now attending services with the Philadelphia Church of God.
Gerald Flurry Personal Appearance Campaigns
Mr. Flurry has delivered a total of 24 campaigns in 15 or more cities.
January 25-29, 1999 (220, 150)*
February 21-22, 1999 (232, 140)
Los Angeles, California
November 1999 (300, 200)
Little Rock, Arkansas
December 7-8, 1999 (75, 25)
December 12-13, 1999 (227, 136)
March 2000 (164, n/a)
March 2000 (294, n/a)
New York, New York
May 2000 (n/a)
St. Louis, Missouri
May 2000 (n/a)
July 9-10, 2006 (167, 78)
July 23-24, 2006 (353, 187)
Los Angeles, California
August 6-7, 2006 (n/a)
August 20-21, 2006 (174, 97)
August 27-28, 2006 (334, n/a)
New York, New York
September 10-11, 2006 (481, 400)
September 24-25, 2006 (201, n/a)
Greenville, South Carolina
December 3-4, 2006 (280, 100)
November 11-12 2007 (145, 72)
November 9-10, 2008 (363, 156)
July 16-17, 2017 (262, 187)
* First number equals estimated first-night total attendance. Second number equals estimated first-night non-pcg attendance.
n/a = not available