Dear Brethren and Friends,
Solomon tells us, “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1). How can this be? How can the day of death be better than the day of one’s birth?
After all, Solomon also tells us, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward” and “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them” (Psalm 127:3, 5). One of the happiest days in one’s life is when one’s own child is born. There is hardly a more exciting day, but what has that tiny bundle of joy actually accomplished?
A good name has to do with reputation and accomplishment. When a child is born, he or she has accomplished nothing and has no reputation. We know not whether he will be a scientist who makes some great discovery, or whether he will be nothing but trouble for his parents and society in general. It is only when one comes to the end of life that we have a record of accomplishment or failure.
A Life of Accomplishment
In the case of Roderick C. Meredith, we see a meaningful life, and we rejoice at what he accomplished. We see a man who walked with God. We have all heard of his influence on young minds at Ambassador College, but I doubt that those of us who took his Freshman Bible Class fully appreciate all that he gave us. Not only did he give us the best instruction found anywhere regarding the life of Jesus and His message, but he gave us much more. He taught us how to apply God’s law in our lives on a daily basis. He encouraged developing the habit of daily prayer and study, and occasional fasting. How can one measure the lasting effect this has on someone? He instilled within us, at least those of us who were responsive, respect for the opposite sex. We learned a new approach to dating, how to reject selfish desires and to treat one another with outgoing concern. Yes, there were others who taught these values, but no one did more than Dr. Meredith to “hold the line” and lift our standards. The impact that instruction had on my life is beyond measure, and I owe him greatly for that!
Those of us on the Council of Elders were privileged to see a side of the man that many have not seen. We are all aware of his strength, his perseverance, and his drive. One of his sons spoke at Dr. Meredith’s funeral of how forgiving he was. We all know he focused on the big picture and avoided the petty. But, to sit with him in meetings was a real privilege. I admired the way he conducted Council meetings. He was patient and allowed everyone to speak on a topic, but he also knew how to cut off discussion and move on when appropriate. He did not let a discussion drift or move off track and he kept control of the meeting. He had that delicate balance.
Starting Again at the Dining Room Table
My first experience on the Council was at the beginning of the Living Church of God. God used Dr. Meredith to raise up the Global Church of God when the former association was reverting to an apostate form of Christianity. Certain ungrateful men thought they knew better how to lead the Church and, through circumstances and evil plotting, they were able to gain control of the Global Church of God. As it turned out, they were far better at destroying than building. Dr. Meredith prayed that God would scatter his enemies, and that is exactly what He did! They could not get along with one another and quickly scattered in more than seven different directions!
The newly formed Council of Elders met around Dr. Meredith’s dining room table. One of the first items on his agenda involved the ministerial fleet program and I confess that I did not understand why that was so important. Cars at such a time seemed rather secondary to this neophyte. However, in retrospect, cars were incredibly important. Our ministry needed to travel to the various congregations on the Sabbath and to visit members who needed encouragement and reassurance at that difficult time. He saw the importance of ministerial transportation to the Church. He saw the big picture and what was important at the moment.
Dr. Meredith recognized that those who made themselves enemies also had a problem. They held a lot of leased cars, and the obligation to make payments, but very few ministers to drive them. He sent Tom Turner back and forth to negotiate a deal with them that was beneficial to all involved, including the lease company. He did not let bitterness or revenge blind his judgment regarding what was best for everyone, especially the members who needed their ministers during the crisis.
Serving on the Council of Elders has been a tremendous learning experience. Dr. Meredith understood the value of a multitude of counsel and he always showed great respect for each of the members. The council members individually and collectively showed him great respect in return.
Occasionally someone claims that there is conflict on the Council. These individuals know nothing. If everyone thought the same on every subject, why would one need a Council of Elders? Dr. Meredith maintained open communication where each man could speak his mind openly, but respectfully. That is the way it has been from the beginning of the Living Church of God. Compared to what we read in Acts 15, I can say without any hesitation that we are a very unified group of men.
Greatness does not always come with fanfare. Often it comes down to the quiet things one does. These are a few of my memories of this great man. We each have our stories to tell and our observations to make, and in the remainder of this “Dear Brethren” article we are going to read how other men on the Council of Elders were influenced by Dr. Meredith.
Comments from Council of Elders Members
Dr. Meredith was not able to travel to observe his final Passover, so Wyatt Ciesielka and his wife had the privilege of keeping the Passover with Dr. Meredith and his daughter, Elizabeth, in his home. Here are Mr. Ciesielka’s observations in general and on that Passover in particular.
Dr. Meredith set a wonderful example of faith, of pushing himself to do the Work, and of servant leadership. To Dr. Meredith, Jesus Christ was not only His personal Savior, but He was also the very real and active head of the Church. Over and over, we saw how real God was to Dr. Meredith, when he would really focus on how Christ would want him to handle “such-and-such” challenge or opportunity. We also saw Dr. Meredith’s drive as he pushed himself—well into his 87th year—to come into the office every day and to be involved in all of the big decisions. I personally saw Dr. Meredith’s humility and drive when I was able to take the Passover with him at his home, a little more than a month before his death. It was his 68th Passover, and although his mind was strong, he was too weak to get up out of his chair without assistance. However, he was determined to do his part in the foot-washing service, and as he had done so many times throughout his life, that evening he again pushed himself to do his part in the service, just like any younger, healthier person would. I will always greatly cherish being able to have that last Passover with Dr. Meredith, in his home. Our conversation continually went back to his profound appreciation for Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, his love for the brethren all around the world, and his absolute faith that Jesus Christ had indeed gone to prepare a place for all of us and would soon come again.
Rod McNair is one of the younger men on the Council, but one of the early ones to leave the apostasy and join in reviving the work of maintaining and capturing original Christianity. He currently serves as Assistant Director of Church Administration in Charlotte, NC.
I will always admire Dr. Meredith for his courage and fortitude to step out alone in reviving the Work in December of 1992. At that juncture in his life, he had already spent decades in Christ’s ministry, and many men would have been thinking about slowing down and pondering retirement. But he didn’t do that. He had no idea how many would follow but stepped out in faith and put his life in God’s hands. I remember being overseas on an Ambassador project when Global began, listening to recorded sermons by Dr. Meredith, and drawing a lot of strength and encouragement from them. I admired him as an uncle and a teacher, and I appreciate his legacy as a man who yielded his life to Christ.
Mr. Rand Millich is a longtime minister and has been on the Council for many years. He currently pastors our second-largest congregation, Kansas City, and is Upper Midwest Regional Pastor.
One of the most memorable moments I experienced was during the apostasy. I called Dr. Meredith concerning being part of the Work God was doing through him. He didn’t get upset because I waited so long. Instead, he was kind and understanding—willing to answer any questions I might have had. We had known each other through the years. He taught me as a student, baptized me and watched over me as my boss and head of Church Administration. During this critical time in the Church, he accepted me as a fellow minister and friend. I’ve remembered this time because it showed God’s Spirit working through him as a servant leader and as a genuine Christian.
Dr. Douglas Winnail serves as Director of Church Administration worldwide. He is a longtime member of the Church and is one who took Dr. Meredith’s Freshman Bible Class at Ambassador College in Pasadena.
My wife and I have known Dr. Meredith for 50 years. He was my contact before coming to Ambassador College. We were both in his class, and he married us on the Pasadena campus. He was also one of my speech teachers. When I served as the Regional Director in Ireland and the UK, we had the opportunity to travel together to a number of historical sites and major cities in the European region to get a firsthand view of those areas. I have always been impressed with his focus on preaching the Gospel, doing the Work and obeying God. The theme he stressed of “servant leadership” is something we plan to continue to emphasize. Probably due to his track team experience in high school, he has always seemed determined to finish whatever race he was in. It has certainly been a privilege to work closely with Dr. Meredith here in Charlotte for the last twelve years.
Mr. Wallace Smith has served in the field ministry and, for the last two years, here at Headquarters in Charlotte. Dr. Meredith added him as the third presenter on the telecast in 2006. He has more recently stepped into the role of Managing Editor for our magazines and booklets.
I have so many memories of Dr. Meredith that mean so much to me, yet one stands out as representative of so much of what Dr. Meredith stood for and of the importance he placed on God’s Work, both to the world and within the Church.
My wife and I were on our first official visit to Charlotte as part of the ministerial trainee program, and Dr. and Mrs. Meredith took us out to dinner to get to know us better. Dr. Meredith was sitting right next to me, and as he was talking to me about the serious responsibility of serving God and His people as a pastor and shepherd, he leaned very close to me there in the restaurant and spoke in a soft but emphatic voice, as if he were saying something of the utmost importance. He looked right in my eyes and said, “Wally, we are helping people to become a part of God’s own Family!” His earnest sincerity and the gravity in his voice moved me and still comes to mind from time to time. He passionately believed in God’s calling and our mission, and I will always remember him for that conviction and deep faith in God and His purpose.
At Dr. Meredith’s request, Mr. Dexter Wakefield and his wife Marcia moved from Florida in 2011, where he was pastoring several congregations, to serve here in Charlotte as the Church’s Director of Business Operations.
One of the most interesting experiences I have had while working at the Charlotte Headquarters has been the lunches we had with Dr. Meredith a few times every week. At 12:30 p.m., we would sit down with our lunch boxes around a couple of tables that we put together in the Staff Meeting Room. The discussions were wide-ranging and often light-hearted, but the most interesting part was hearing Dr. Meredith recount his experiences with the people and events of the earlier years of the Work in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. He provided a remarkable institutional memory of those decades, and the rest of us listened intently when he spoke of them. His comments and stories were candid and balanced, and he gave us invaluable insights into the development of the Work and the personalities present during those decades. Dr. Meredith spent more time with Herbert W. Armstrong than anyone alive in recent years, and through Dr. Meredith’s many recollections, I feel as though I know Mr. Armstrong and the Church’s history much better.
Dr. Jeffrey Fall, Western U.S. Regional Pastor, has been serving in the ministry since 1987 and has been a longtime member of the Council of Elders. Having known Dr. Meredith and his family for 37 years, he mentioned that he considered Dr. Meredith a tremendous role model. He had these words to share.
One of the first sermons from Dr. Meredith that had a profound effect on me, was a passionate sermon on being sure that all that we do is to the honor and glory of God. If we use God as our guide, staying close to Him, obeying His laws, and walking with Him in submission, loyalty and obedience, we will not fear what any man can do, and we will have peace and confidence. It is to God we hold the allegiance and accountability. Dr. Meredith was tested on that level more than once. Years later, following Mr. Armstrong’s death, God allowed new leadership to test the people of God, and through no fault of his own, Dr. Meredith was removed from virtually all responsibility in the Church. While talking with Dr. Meredith often in those very difficult years, I was totally amazed that he showed absolutely no bitterness in the way he was mistreated. His real concern was the relentless destruction of the Truth and the Work. Clearly, being mistreated and yet maintaining a godly, faithful attitude without bitterness was an awesome character trait that God used for future leadership. It was in humility that Dr. Meredith could forgive and discard the false accusations, while keeping his eyes firmly on protecting the Truth and walking wholeheartedly before God.
While we had known of Dr. Meredith from the onset of coming into God’s Church, it wasn’t until entering AC in 1980 as a married student that our families became closely acquainted. Our entire family profoundly saw that Dr. Meredith was a straightforward, sincere man—that what you saw in public was what he truly was. He loved God, his family, the mountains, and he had a profound love and zeal for God’s Work which was not diminished even to the end of his life. We felt honored to be able to consider him a true friend and mentor—a sincere upholder of God’s Law and Work. Dr. Meredith truly lived by “vision,” seeing and teaching that if we do all things to the honor and glory of God, we will be living with our eyes focused on the coming Kingdom of God.
Mr. Stuart Wachowicz is the Regional Director of God’s Work in Canada. Dr. Meredith found his experience in the field of education and the halls of government to be eminently useful, and he was added to the Council of Elders in 2012.
In the months following the death of Mr. Herbert Armstrong, there came, with growing frequency, announcements or new teachings which challenged nearly all doctrines we had learned and proven in the Scriptures. Many were driven to a detailed study of the Bible only to prove again the teachings expounded by Mr. Armstrong. In 1993, my wife and I, after contacting what was then the Global Church of God, received a package with some printed literature and audio tapes. It was hard to contain our joy when we heard Dr. Meredith in these sermons. The sound of truth was once again available! The day we heard those early tapes is one of our fondest memories. Our prayers were full of gratitude that God was preserving His Work through His servant, Dr. Roderick Meredith.
The Canadian brethren are certainly feeling the loss as we contemplate the death of Dr. Meredith. His very long history in the Church, during which time he held a solid grip on the Truth, encourages and inspires us all. Despite being derided by those who sought to return to error, Dr. Meredith was unflinching. He also deeply cared for the flock entrusted to him. And now his greatest legacy would be for the Living Church of God to remain faithful and loyal to God in a manner which he exemplified, and to complete the great Mission of propagating the Truth to all Israel and the world.
Finally, Mr. Lambert Greer is the Regional Pastor for the Mideast area of the U.S., and has served as a minister for 50 years. He worked closely with Dr. Meredith for many years, and has served on the Council of Elders from the beginning of the Living Church of God.
An important moment in my life was to hear the voice of Roderick C. Meredith on the radio program, The World Ahead from the Global Church of God, saying, “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible.” Those words resonated through my mind and heart. They were words I had not heard for years and words that, in so many ways, framed the life and example of Dr. Meredith. The strength of Dr. Meredith was not that he said these words, but that he lived these words. I was among many in the Living Church of God who were taught “at his feet” in Ambassador College, and in the years that followed it was my blessing to call him my friend and to serve in the ministry under his leadership. I will always remember Dr. Meredith in the light of the words of Jesus Christ, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish his Work” (John 4:34).
We are all very thankful for Dr. Meredith’s leadership and thankful that he established the Council of Elders. It gave him wise counsel and created a more stable environment in the Church. We expect it will continue to do so in the future. Dr. Meredith commented on more than one occasion that the leadership as seen on the Council was more unified than any time he could remember except for the very early years of Ambassador College. I expect that will continue, based on the fine men we have serving in that capacity.
The loss of Dr. Meredith is something that will grow on us as we come to questions and situations for which we would like to consult him. There will also be times when we want to share some experience or accomplishment with him, but will have to wait until the resurrection. Until then, the best way we can honor him is to do what he did: look to Christ and do the Work. Then we can truly look forward to that day when we will stand together and hear those most comforting of all words: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” May God speed that day!
These photos of Dr. Meredith from various stages in his life and work were among those selected by his family to show at his funeral.