The Final Stages of the Children of God

In 1977, nearly 20 million people were personally witnessed to by COG members and 1.2 million received Jesus as their Savior, and 79.7 million pieces of literature were distributed.

In 1976, the New Revolution doubled our number of converts [those who accepted Jesus as their Savior]. We jumped from 377,000 to 774,000! … Now what other denomination can claim such a record? And we’re probably one of the smallest in the world! … But we have jumped from three-quarters of a million now to over one million souls saved already in 1977, just in the first 11 months! … And 2.5 million souls have been saved just in the last six years!

“’78 Here We Come,” 1977

But while the Gospel was being preached at record levels, all was not well in some COG colonies. Rather than give the colonies more independence, the COG’s top leaders used the “Chain” structure to consolidate their control over the colonies through their lower-level appointees. This control was especially strong in Europe and South America.

The idea of literature distribution quotas, which David had suggested in 1973 in order to challenge his followers to spread the Good News more zealously, was misused by many leaders who sought to improve their personal lifestyle. Members were required to reach difficult distribution goals and reprimanded when they fell short. Colonies at the “bottom of the totem pole” were required to heavily support those higher up.

However, the negative influence of the Chain was not felt everywhere. Many colonies, particularly those in distant mission fields far from Chain leadership headquarters, remained relatively untouched by the policies of many Chain leaders. They continued to happily and enthusiastically preach the Gospel and follow God and the Letters the best they could. But in general, while most COG members were still dedicated to the Lord and His message, there was growing discontentment in the ranks due to the harsh policies, quotas, and restrictions of the Chain leadership. The COG was ripe for another “revolution” to set things straight.

At the close of 1977, nearly three years after the “Chain of Cooperation” had been established, several reports filtered through to David which made it apparent that the plan had gone awry. Rapid worldwide expansion and subsequent management by young and inexperienced leadership—most under pressure from a few leaders at the top—had resulted in many instances of gross violations of the fundamental rules and principles laid out in the Letters. Several Chain leaders were neglecting (and in some cases outright oppressing and exploiting) the grassroots members, exacting exorbitant tithes from the colonies in their areas, assigning unreasonably high literature distribution quotas, and tightly controlling the actions and moves of COG members.