Frank Walker Tribute (1902-1997)
Frank Walker, Long-Time Church of God Minister, Dies
BY RICHARD C. NICKELS
January - February 1998, Volume 50, No. 1, Issue No. 469, The Sabbath Sentinel
Frank M. Walker (1902-1997) died at his home in St. Maries, Idaho, on September 13, 1997. He was a noted Church of God (Seventh Day) minister, writer, and radio broadcaster. His long-time support for the seventh-day Sabbath, and the "Anglo-Israel," doctrine, made him a leading Sabbatarian figure for over seventy-five years, influencing various Church of God (Seventh Day) groups, as well as Herbert W. Armstrong. (Many of the facts in this article were taken from a 1971 interview by Richard C. Nickels with Frank Walker.)
SDA "Cast Out"
Born in 1902, Frank Walker began attending the Church of God in 1922, where he was a minister since 1924. His father was R.K. Walker, and he grew up in Bates, Oklahoma, where an SDA church disbanded. Three Seventh-day Adventist ministers (Eyler, Rich, and Talbert) rejected the teachings of Ellen G. White.
These men called themselves "the cast outs," and printed the independent Sabbatarian periodical, "The Gathering Call," which was published for many years in Riverside, California. Two camp meetings were held at Bates, Oklahoma, around 1913-14. The second camp meeting was attended by the famous SDA evangelist, A.T. Jones; as well as, A.F. Ballenger, G.G. Rupert, and a well-educated Mexican minister, Rodriguez.
It was in this setting, R.K. Walker began preaching. When Rich later died, Eyler went back into his law business, and Talbert began attending the Church of God. Ballenger served as the long-time editor of "The Gathering Call." This periodical published controversial material against Seventh-day Adventist doctrines.
Contact With C.G. Rupert
Frank Walker recalled seeing G.G. Rupert as a boy. His father, R.K. Walker, around 1914, talked of the book, Yellow Peril, which was internationally famous at the time. (One of its interesting points was the accurate prediction that America and Japan would eventually fight a war.) Rupert was at that time an independent, and had no direct connection with the Church of God.
Rupert spiritualized Israel, and applied the term, "Israel," to the Gentile people. Modern day Gentiles, Rupert believed were fulfilling prophecies about the biblical Israel. Walker disagreed with Rupert on this point, and instead held the belief that the "Lost Ten Tribes" were the actual Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples.
In the early 1970s, Walker visited Rupert’s daughter, Mrs. I.C. Sultz, in Kinsley, Kansas. Sultz gave Walker a copy of Rupert’s most famous book, Yellow Peril, and also Inspired History of the Nations. (Both are available as reprints from Giving & Sharing, Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.)
Long-Time Church of God Minister
Walker’s first contact with the Church of God was through M.W. Unzicker, who baptized him. (Ironically, this was the same minister who refused to baptize Herbert Armstrong.) R.K. Walker was asked by Unzicker to help in meetings, and became a full-time preacher for the Church of God in 1922-23. Frank Walker started preaching at Crowder, Oklahoma, in 1924.
In the spring of 1928, Frank Walker moved to Iowa, where he was a state evangelist for six years. Then he spent four years in Wisconsin, where he established a church in Bruce, located in northern Wisconsin. In 1931, he became the Vice President of the General Conference.
He soon after was selected as the state evangelist for all three states of Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. During the 1933-1949 Church of God (Seventh Day) split, he sided with the Stanberry Group.
In 1942, Walker moved to Oregon, and became the state evangelist. From there he went to serve in California and Colorado. In 1951, he resigned from the Merger Group, after being disillusioned with their type of organization. Instead he joined the "Back to Stanberry" organization, headquartered in Meridian, Idaho, and returned to Oregon in 1954. In the 1960s, he pastored in Fairview, Oklahoma, and in 1971, when I met Mr. Walker, he was a teacher at the Meridian Group’s Maranatha College.
Bible Sabbath Association Radio Speaker
For 11 years, Frank Walker was the director of the "Echoes from Eden" radio broadcast, sponsored by The Bible Sabbath Association, a non-denominational group that publishes, The Sabbath Sentinel. In 1962, this half-hour broadcast was being aired in Denver, Colorado; Nampa, Idaho; Pasco, Washington; St. Louis, Missouri; and Birmingham, Alabama. Working together with Frank in broadcasting for the BSA was Edgar Lippencott.
In 1972, Walker accepted the post of Vice President for the BSA. Until his death, Frank Walker continued to support The Bible Sabbath Association. Printed transcripts from thirteen of Frank Walker’s radio broadcasts are available today, in the booklet, The Law, The Gospel and The Sabbath. This 90-page booklet, and Frank Walker’s tract, "Bible Truth About Salvation by Grace Though Faith," are both available from The Bible Sabbath Association, 3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718, for $3.00 and $0.35 respectively.
Walker held unique views on "British-Israelism." In 1971, he told me, "I believe a lot with Brother Armstrong." However, he held a different view believing that the United States was Ephraim, the younger and greater nation. The Ten Tribes were never united with the Jews; they continued to exist as the Celtic and Teutonic peoples of Europe and America, and scattered through the earth. And that they will remain separate until they become one nation, when the two sticks are put back together (Ezekiel 37:15-28). "Joseph is not dead," Walker stated, "he still cares for his brethren [referring to the over five million Jews in the U.S. alone]. America is co-mingled with Israelites. God has used the Israelite nations to carry the gospel."
Walker was not the only one in the Church of God who believed in British-Israelism. In 1971, Walker estimated that in the Meridian group, 1/2 to 2/3 of the people leaned to British-Israelism. Claude Ellis (singer on the original "World Tomorrow" radio broadcast, who later returned to Meridian) and the Palmers believed in Anglo-Israelism. Even though the Denver Group puts out articles against it, some of their people nevertheless hold to this idea.
Frank Walker’s father, R.K. Walker, believed this doctrine, as did Rich. Roy Davison, a noted Church of God (Seventh Day) leader of the twentieth century, was a strong believer in Anglo-Israelism.
Before 1942, Frank Walker was convicted to this belief through self-study and literature, while he was in Wisconsin. The Church of God, Frank recalled, taught that the U.S. would defend the Jews at Armageddon against Russia. The passage in Zechariah 9:13-15 convinced him. He believed that the Israelites would battle against the Gentiles at Armageddon.
Another believer in some form of British-Israelism was Ziegler, whose paper, "The Torch of Israel," was issued from Washington, D.C. His attempts to work with Eyler failed.
For twenty years, Frank Walker published a little paper called, "God’s Watchman," covering prophecy, the Sabbath, and Anglo-Israel views. A special 26-page edition, "Hope of Israel," covers the United States in Prophecy.
Herbert Armstrong’s First Choice
Walker met Herbert Armstrong at a 1940 camp meeting. Armstrong had already parted ways with the Church of God organization of Salem, West Virginia, but his people were fellowshipping with others. Mr. Armstrong told Walker that he agreed with the Salem organization 90%, but wanted to keep his own radio work, thinking that he had to work alone. Herbert Armstrong had originally accepted a position as one of the Seventy with the Salem organization, not the Stanberry Group. However, Armstrong found greater acceptance among Stanberry brethren than the brethren in Salem. Walker moved to Eugene in the fall of 1942. Claude Ellis, the local elder there, asked HWA to let Walker preach. Walker preached in the Eugene Church several times. In the 1940 meeting, Armstrong told Walker that he had tried to work with Salem group, but they wanted to take over his radio work. Armstrong told Walker, "I don’t want a tight organization, but I can see it coming."
Walker believed that Armstrong sincerely wanted to work together with the Church of God people. Armstrong told him that the different views of the Feast Days did not prevent them from working together. Emil Heibel later told Walker, that Armstrong originally wanted Walker to become the pastor of the Eugene church, but instead placed Heibel in charge, when Armstrong moved Church headquarters from Eugene to Pasadena, California. It was an unfortunate choice, because Heibel’s Sunday Pentecost beliefs later split the Eugene Church in half. Walker felt he probably couldn’t have worked with Armstrong anyway, because Armstrong later changed his ideas about church government. Walker said, "Any people that claim to be the only people of God, I am against, because we are all God’s children."
Church Organization: Local Autonomy
The Meridian Group of the Church of God (Seventh Day) continues to espouse "local autonomy" ideas dear to Frank Walker’s heart. In his tract, "The Church of God - United Under Christ," Walker stated that Christ is the "only ONE HEAD" of the Church, and the record of membership is kept in Heaven, (Heb. 12:23, Phil. 4:3, Rev. 3:5).
Walker stated, "Jesus did not establish any such thing as we now know as a general organization in the church....There is no divine authority in the New Testament Scriptures for any general organization to direct and control the activities of the local assemblies of the church in general....the Book of Acts gives us a picture of real unity under Christ without any general organization such as we know today. Yes, they had unity with ‘Local Autonomy’ or congregational government."
Frank Walker’s staying power for 75 years was phenomenal. How did he remain so dedicated and productive, for so long? When I met Frank Walker for the first time in 1971, I was impressed by his Biblical and historical knowledge. He was open, candid, and friendly. At that time, I was not very delighted with his views of "local autonomy," because I was a stalwart supporter of Church Government, headquartered in Pasadena, California. Now, however, my views on Church Government are somewhat modified. The current discussion in the United Church of God on the issue of governance brings to mind Walker’s tract, "Church of God - United Under Christ."
One of the lessons of Frank Walker’s life is that enduring spiritual growth and development is enhanced and nurtured by networking with other believers. Adventism, Ballenger, Unzicker, Rupert, Armstrong, The Bible Sabbath Association, and many other contacts did not make Walker confused or erratic. On the contrary, such interaction strengthened his personal convictions and deepened his faith.
Unfortunately, many Sabbath-keepers today are not aware of the spiritual network available to them. Because of this lack, they are unknowingly headed toward extinction. Too many today are stuck on the "one true church organization" syndrome.
Even before the World Wide Web, networking had always been the hallmark of Sabbath-keeping survival and growth. During the Dark Ages, Irish Celtic Sabbatarian evangelists nourished continental Europeans, along with their Waldensian brethren, who were aided by Balkan Bogomils.
In colonial times, American Sabbath-keepers received spiritual advice and support from their brethren in England. One cannot historically prove “apostolic succession,” but Sabbath-keeping networking is an historical fact. In reality, staying power is a direct result of networking, exemplified by Frank Walker.
Frank’s Sabbath and Anglo-Israel beliefs did not come from being spoon-fed. He personally wrestled with the issues, and was continually open to different points of view. An intelligent man, Walker realized that continual learning is a spiritual necessity. This is why, even in advanced years, Frank Walker seemed youthful. Like a good old tree, Walker continued to bear fruit, even in his later years. Truly, Frank M. Walker was a pioneer, known by many around the world as “God’s Watchman.”Frank Walker’s 8-12 page magazine, “God’s Watchman,” will continue, says his wife Ruth. “We are going on with the work here,” she says. “No time to stop. Too many need God’s truth.” The paper has a mailing list of 6,000 in the USA, and 1,000 overseas. For a copy, write: God’s Watchman, P.O. Box 558, St. Maries, ID 83861. TSS
Richard C. Nickels, the President of the Bible Sabbath Association.