OREGON—Philadelphia Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry hosted a Personal Appearance Campaign for audiences of 210 and 150 subscribers on March 24-25.
Just before 9 a.m. on March 24, personal assistant Grant Turgeon picked up Western United States Regional Director Brian Davis and then Mr. Flurry in a headquarters fleet vehicle at their homes for a 40-minute drive to the private hangar in Oklahoma City, where the Philadelphia Church of God’s purple, gold and white Gulfstream G450 jet awaited them on the tarmac. On the way, Mr. Davis told Mr. Flurry that Washington State Local Elder Robert Morley said members of the Portland congregation were excited at Sabbath services the day before, as if it were a Feast day.
Public relations director Shane Granger, stewardess Paris Turgeon, and audio-video technician Joshua Sloan met Mr. Flurry by the plane. Granger drove Turgeon there to stow breakfast in the galley; Sloan drove a vehicle full of Church literature for distribution at the campaign and traveled to Portland along with Mr. Flurry, Mr. Davis and Grant Turgeon.
The plane departed at 10 a.m. During the flight, Mr. Davis talked with the pcg pilots about trouble the plane’s auxiliary power unit (starter engine) had experienced the previous month before Mr. Flurry’s trip from England to Jerusalem. When asked what solved the problem, one pilot responded, “Mr. Flurry prayed.”
Following a three-and-a-half-hour flight to Portland and a 20-minute drive to the Embassy Suites hotel in the suburb of Tigard, Mr. Flurry checked into his room and spent the next three hours tweaking an all-new campaign message.
At 3:30 p.m., Mr. Flurry spoke to Trumpet subscribers for close to 90 minutes about the fruits of God’s government. He discussed the recent United States college admissions scandal in which wealthy parents bribed universities to enroll their unqualified children. He exposed the lawless spirit in America that has caused generations of American leaders to be educated in far-left indoctrination centers where credentials are prioritized over merit, presence over performance, and social influence over skills.
Mr. Flurry then contrasted the lawlessness in America with the reverence for law in God’s Church. He said afterward that he gained more depth of understanding about Hebrews chapter 9 earlier that day. This chapter discusses the three items inside the ark of the covenant in ancient Israel: the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and manna. Mr. Flurry focused on a phrase in Hebrews 9:4: “Aaron’s rod that budded.”
In ancient Israel, God resolved a dispute between a group of rebellious princes and Moses and Aaron by causing Aaron’s rod to blossom and bud with almonds. This miracle made clear that God was using Moses and his spokesman, Aaron, not the Israelite princes. Mr. Flurry showed that God has always worked through one man—in ancient Israel and ancient Judah, and in all seven eras of the one true Church of God. He quoted Herbert W. Armstrong, who famously and repeatedly said, “Government is everything,” and emphasized that there is one human leader at a time, led by the true Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.
On the flight back to Oklahoma City early Tuesday morning, Mr. Flurry said he chose to speak about the subject of God’s government because it is often maligned by critics. Rather than highlighting the corrective aspects of government, he expounded on the beautiful rewards of God’s government—a loving, merciful government that shepherds God’s loyal people toward eternal life, marriage to Christ, and headquarters rule alongside Him over the Earth and the universe. Mr. Flurry concluded his first lecture by enumerating five fruits of God’s government: A prophetic message, godly family, more understanding than teachers in the world, revelation to the Church, and you have the Head (Christ).
After the first lecture, Mr. Flurry, Mr. Davis, Mr. Morley and Washington State Local Church Elder Darren Verbout conversed with subscribers for two hours. One prospective member immediately approached Mr. Davis, calling the message “pretty powerful” and asking questions about baptism. Mr. Morley said that one 90-year-old man practically ran toward him as soon as the lecture ended. A new prospective member from Idaho told Mr. Flurry that his twin teenage daughters were excited to attend Philadelphia Youth Camp in Edmond, Oklahoma, for the first time this summer.
One pcg member from Washington State gifted Mr. Flurry a red “Make Archaeology Great Again” hat, and Nevada member Steve Szabo, who has attended campaigns in Houston, Tampa and Phoenix, made another appearance.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for us to get down and actually meet Mr. Flurry and hear him speak live,” said one Canadian member who flew into town for the campaign. “So that’s what we’ve done now, and we can cross that off our bucket list.”
On Monday afternoon before the second lecture, Mr. Davis counseled with members and prospective members.
On Monday night, Mr. Flurry spoke about Hebrews chapters 6-13, emphasizing chapter 9. He challenged listeners to focus on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which paid the death penalty for the sins of all mankind, and to trust that God will fulfill every one of His promises. He explained the need for loving correction from God to strengthen us in areas where we are weak, which prepares us to teach and rule successfully—unlike the angels and the vast majority of mankind.
For the first lecture, 67 of the 210 attendees were not already pcg members. For the second lecture, 27 of the 150 were non-members. A total of 144 individuals attended both lectures. A few non-members expressed interest in attending a follow-up Bible study.
“There was a buzz about the people that I spoke to, and they certainly seemed to be very excited about what they heard,” Mr. Davis said. “And their enthusiasm—of wanting to talk and ask questions and wanting to give their phone numbers and have follow-up communications—really stood out. Hopefully, we’ll see that translate into more people coming out for the follow-up Bible studies and wanting in-home visits and that sort of thing.”
Mr. Flurry and company departed Portland at 10:30 p.m. and landed in Oklahoma City at 3:22 a.m. on March 26.
The Portland area is the location where the sixth era of God’s Church began, with God working through the late Herbert W. Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong studied day and night for six months at the Portland Public Library to prove the Sabbath doctrine and disprove the theory of evolution. It was in Oregon that God humbled him, brought him to repentance, called him, tested him with years of poverty and with keeping the holy days without understanding their meaning. This is where he learned how to get real answers to prayer, where he was baptized, ordained as a minister, began preaching in person and on the radio, and began publishing the Plain Truth magazine, the circulation of which would later exceed Time and Newsweek combined. It was also in Oregon that Mr. Armstrong began hosting evangelistic campaigns, the forerunner to the personal appearance campaigns held by Mr. Flurry today.
Mr. Flurry served in the Tri-Cities area of nearby southeastern Washington State for a decade as a minister in the Worldwide Church of God, which Mr. Armstrong established. In November 2001, he approved the purchase of 11 cedars of Lebanon, which had been growing in Oregon since, it was estimated, 1986—the same year Mr. Armstrong died. Three of the cedars were planted in front of the John Amos Field House in Edmond. In April 2002, Mr. Flurry toured the sites that Mr. Armstrong had frequented in the 1920s and 1930s and later wrote about in his autobiography. On the tour, the late pcg minister David Todd and Oregon member James Lowry took him to the Fisher farm, where they found Mr. Armstrong’s prayer rock. Mr. Flurry acquired the prayer rock later that year, and it is now on display at the Hall of Administration on the Church’s headquarters campus in Edmond. When Mr. Todd died a few years later, Mr. Flurry traveled to Oregon to introduce the new regional director. Around that same time, Mr. Flurry also hosted a personal appearance campaign in Portland. In September 2017, he celebrated the Feast of Trumpets with the Portland congregation.
During the return flight, Mr. Flurry commented, “We continue to see more of those Laodiceans [former Worldwide members] coming, and I think that’s a good sign for the future. And we ought to move faster if we can get people like that because they already know so much, and we don’t have to teach them as much as we would the person that doesn’t know anything about our history.”
“This is where it all began,” one Oregon member said. “Mr. Armstrong—what an amazing work he did. What a blessing to be a part of it.”