Understanding Yahweh Part VI – The First Congregation of Yahweh International
Last week, we looked at Yahweh in Jamaica in terms of the number of established congregation/branches. Today, we are zooming in on of one them, which said that it has no affiliation with Qahal Yahweh in Paradise, Norwood, St James, which got much media attention in early November when law-enforcement authorities stormed the compound in dramatic fashion.
Like other congregations, The First Congregation of Yahweh International (COYI), located at 81 West Street in Arnett Gardens, has distanced itself from the accusations levelled at the leaders and members at Qahal. Besides the accusations, counter-accusations, Family & Religion set out to explore what COYI believes in.
Its website says, among other things, that it has been in Jamaica for almost 50 years, stemming from the Congregation of Yahweh in the UK in the 1970s. It is affiliated with a group in Florida called Ambassadors of Yahweh, and is affiliated with several other groups internationally.
It also claims to be part of the international Congress of Yahweh, “which is an association of national congregations who are committed to the gospel of the Kingdom and to working together in proclaiming it worldwide”.
One true god
First, they believe that there is one true and holy God of Israel, whose name is Yahweh, our Heavenly Father. The Scriptures then are the “inspired and infallible words” of Yahweh, who created a perfect world.
The perfection was tarnished when Adam and Eve introduced sin into it through their disobedience of Yahweh. The sin of Adam and Eve became the sin of everyone, who needs Salvation.
Yahweh sent his son, Yashua, our saviour, to pay the penalty for sin, “and to rescue humankind from eternal punishment”. They say, “Yahua did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it,” that “through his Holy Spirit residing within us and by circumcising our hearts, we, too, can fulfil his commandments”.
Yashua was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a painful death, but was resurrected and went to Heaven where He is reigning with his father. Those who repent of their sins and believe in Yashua are his heirs who will spend eternal life with him.
For sins to be remitted, after repentance, there must be baptism by way of immersion in water in the name of Yashua into the Holy Spirit, “which is the promise of the Father”.
And speaking of promise, they want the restoring of the land of Israel to its “former glory and productivity”. All of this, they say, “will take place in the last days”, when the 12 Tribes shall reunite. Because, “the Assembly of the new covenant dispensation has not replaced Israel, but that together they are a part of Yahweh’s great plan and purpose comprising the ‘The Body of Messiah’.”
The assembly of believers is The Body of Messiah, from which Yahweh gives the gifts of ministry and service to individuals for the “growth and health of the body”. “These gifts play an essential role in Yashua’s congregation today,” COYI says.
They also believe that the day will come when Yashua will return to Earth for a thousand-year reign, and “will finally establish an eternally heavenly kingdom with those who have accepted His salvation”.
This ‘good news’ must be shared and “the celebrations of the feast in Leviticus 23 were continued in the new Covenant era and are to be observed today”. These celebrations include the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath.
Family & Religion also spoke with Michael Ward, one of the pastors, who said their beliefs and practices are based on biblical scriptures, and that they are obligated to Yashua, to please the Father. The current congregation, he said, evolved from a charismatic Pentecostal church.