In the Beginning
Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry arose from what has been traditionally called the Sacred Name Movement. This movement traces back to Clarence O. Dodd in 1937. Dodd (1899-1955) did not originate the Sacred Name doctrine, however. Its exact origin is unknown, and appeared long before his time. Some have traced the Sacred Name movement back to the Waldenses of the 12th century and even further back to remnants of the early New Testament assembly. A few books have been written on the subject. Dodd crystalized the movement, however, making it a major force among Sabbath (Saturday) keeping organizations. A solidifying influence was The Faith magazine that Dodd began in 1937 and which continues as an organ of the Assembly of Yahweh in Holt Michigan. In the Encyclopedia of American Religions scholar J. Gordon Melton wrote of the magazine, “No single force in spreading the Sacred Name movement was as important as The Faith magazine.”
Dodd became independent mainly over the issue of the Feast Days of Leviticus 23. He believed these days should be kept, while the majority of the Church of God, Seventh Day to which he belonged, disagreed. Dodd later came to believe in the Sacred Name doctrine, which means a belief in the exclusive use of the original Hebrew names for the Supreme Beings (Yahweh and Yahshua the Messiah).
In 1968 Dodd and Andrew Dugger (1886-1975) published the book, A History of The True Religion. This book traced Sabbath keeping and the Faith back through the Waldensians of medieval Europe and various other groups to the 1st century. They recounted that a November 4, 1933, meeting was set to reorganize the Church of God, Seventh Day. Some 10,000 were invited to Salem, West Virginia. Names were drawn by lot for 12 and then for 70 elders. Included among the 70 were Dodd and Herbert W. Armstrong, who later founded what became the Worldwide Church of God.
An October 1939 issue of The Faith included a report of the Feast of Tabernacles in Eugene, Oregon, held by “Elder H.W. Armstrong, a pioneer in this great truth.” Elder Angelo B. Traina restored the Sacred Names to the King James Bible in 1963. Both Elders Dodd and Traina are remembered for their efforts in reestablishing the correct Names and teaching Bible truth. Herbert Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God chose to keep the generic titles for Yahweh’s Name as well as the Latinized-Greek form for the Savior’s true Hebrew Name Yahshua.
It all Began with a Sinking House
Elder Donald Mansager (1924-2012), originally a Lutheran, thought all was well in his life. He had a loving wife, a healthy family, and a great job. Little did he know that Yahweh was about to move him – literally. Elder Donald put everything he had into building his dream house. But the satisfaction he derived from his new house soon evaporated when the house’s foundation, built on fill dirt, began to sink. The whole house threatened to slide down a hill toward a river, with his hopes, dreams, and life savings going with it. After consulting a contractor there was only one solution: the house had to be relocated.
Now it wasn’t just the house that needed to be moved but also his faith. Yahweh used this trial to redirect Elder Donald’s priorities in his life. Rather than give up, he delved more into scripture. An auspicious thing happened next. Once he started poring over the Bible he realized that his church was not teaching what the Bible taught. So he started searching for more truth. For a time he studied with the Worldwide Church of God in the 1960s but never became a member. He proved that the Sabbaths and Feasts were necessary for the Truth seeker. His interest was now in full active mode.
One day he heard a man on the radio with a strong German accent explaining the Sacred Name Yahweh and how it was wrongfully removed from the Bible and history. This radio minister was Jacob Meyer. Elder Donald would became an evangelist in Elder Meyer’s organization, and for eight years traveled thousands of miles throughout North America, the Philippines, and India to bring Yahweh’s Truth to the willing ear.
An issue with the increasing authoritarian way that the group was governed led him to resign and purchase with a couple elders a run-down KOA campground in Rocheport, Missouri. There he founded a new organization, building the Body of Messiah for 10 years. He ultimately left that organization as a result of infidelities among elders. He then started what was to be called Yahweh’s New Covenant Assembly. His son Alan edited and printed in his garage the ministry’s magazine and literature for the new group. YNCA eventually distributed cassette tape recordings of their sermons and Alan’s son Ryan produced videos of the new program, “Back to the Truth.”
In 1998 Elder Alan (who had worked in the field of publications for several Sacred Name organizations since the 1970’s) believed that the practice of divorce and remarriage disqualified leaders (1Tim. 3, Titus 1). So he left the organization he helped start with his father. As an ordained Minister he was content with just ministry work from his home and spreading the truth online under the name Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry (YRM) www.yrm.org. His son-in-law Randy Folliard also gave messages and wrote articles and was eventually ordained an elder. Ryan designed a website for the new organization as well as created an audio-video outreach. At first they were keeping the festivals with just close friends and family. But the numbers of those wanting to help kept increasing. For 17 years YRM went to group camps for feasts ranging from California to Tennessee, and holding Sabbaths in homes and library meeting rooms. Elder Randy spent countless hours searching the nation for suitable camps for the Feast of Tabernacles. Constant growth created a need for permanent worship facilities and around 2005 YRM purchased a few acres near Holts Summit, Missouri, and built a 3,500 square foot meeting hall. This facility grew to 16,000 square feet, with an additional 11,000 square-foot event/activity center.
What Happened to Elder Don?
Yahweh in his mercy through a series of events brought Elder Donald in his later years to reunite with his son Alan and become a part of Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry where he delivered an occasional message. Elder Donald is now asleep in Yahshua awaiting the resurrection.
Hebrew Roots Before It Was Cool
The modern Hebrew Roots movement which began in the 1990s was no doubt influenced by the teachings of the Sacred Name Movement, which was the only movement in existence teaching the Feasts, Sabbaths and Sacred Names. The Sacred Name movement has always endeavored to return to the Torah and Hebraic worship of the Messiah. The Sabbath, Feast days, biblically clean foods, shofars, menorahs, Hebrew-centered songs and an emphasis on Hebraic New Testament sources has always been a staple in the Sacred Name Movement.
Roots of the Hebrew Roots
The first Messianic/Hebrew Roots organization began in the 1970s as the Jews for Jesus movement. This movement started when Moishe Rosen, who was ethnically Jewish, converted to Christianity and became a Baptist minister. It’s hard to connect this movement specifically with the modern Hebrew roots movement, however, as all seem to loosely fall under the same umbrella. A few teachers recognized today in the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM) are familiar faces to those who attended some Sacred Name assemblies in the ‘80s and ‘90s. With the advent of the internet and ease of communication, groups started springing up all over the world that had no ties to our movement. New groups are forming all the time, taking the name “Hebrew Roots” with no direct ties to one another or any uniformity in teachings. Adding to the confusion are self proclaimed teachers vying for leadership in a movement that has no organization or leadership. At first many in our movement rejoiced to see people leaving the Church for Torah. But it soon was clear that these HRM groups still held to some doctrines we had disproved decades ago. Many broke away from the church and formed new ministries without fully taking the time to research all the traditions they came out of and still hold. It is interesting that we see many whose former affiliation was the Assembly of God Church. Oneness beliefs, charismatic displays, child baptism, etc., coupled with Feast keeping, Sabbaths and Torah, are muddying the waters for those who desire to get back to the true faith of Abraham. Mixing the common titles with the sacred Names and bringing in Jewish traditions is a recipe for real confusion. Many push unscholarly forms of the sacred Name and sadly we see a mixed bag of not only false doctrines but several variations of the Name that didn’t exist 30 years ago. Because of this confusion a term leveled at the HRM is “messy-antics.” Some of this confusion is a lack of understanding biblical Hebrew, which is ironic when many take on the name “Hebrew Roots.” Dogmatic interpretations without knowing Hebrew grammar and linguistics are far too common in the HRM movement. Bold teachers masquerading as experts who invent their own forms of biblical Hebrew is a recent phenomenon. Popular are those who claim to understand pictographic or Paleo Hebrew. Self proclaimed “ancient Hebrew” experts interpreting Paleo Hebrew letters as pictures and deciphering scripture with their own esoteric meaning is spreading among the movement. This is quite shocking considering that not even scholarship is in agreement with the pictorial meanings and origins. For many, the emotional experience of “being Hebrew” takes precedence over solid, critical analysis. Bizarre forms of the Sacred Name draw the accusation from the misinformed that we (Sacred Name believers) don’t even agree on the sacred Names ourselves. Guilt by association has caused much confusion. The predominant Sacred Name assemblies hold to the sacred Names Yahweh and Yahshua, which has been the case for many decades. So are we Hebrew roots? Yes and no. The Sacred Name Movement was the “original” Hebrew Roots Movement, the precursor to the “modern” Hebrew Roots movement, which has a long way to go before we would consider ourselves in league with it. We pray many of these congregations will remove traditional baggage and come to the real Hebraic roots of the Messiah. If you are coming out of the church for Torah we caution you to “prove all things and all traditions.” Don’t blindly follow your emotions or the charismatic teacher, follow the Word. Just because something appears to be Jewish doesn’t make it correct. We must remove unscriptural traditions in both Christianity and Judaism.
What Denomination Are You and What Do You Call Yourselves?
We are non-denominational and strive to return as closely as possible to the original Faith of the Messiah. You could say we fall somewhere between Judaism and Christianity, removing tradition and pagan influence in both faiths and retaining some truth still found in each. For those who need a label we are the “Faith of Abraham.” We accept the prophesied Messiah as we adhere to Yahweh’s standards and way of life ordained for His people from the beginning. We analyze our doctrines regularly and will (and have) changed doctrines in light of new truths.
Where We Are Going
As many who follow us know, we are a very outreach-oriented ministry. We have always used media, whether in print form, video, or television to further the work. Starting assemblies is difficult and takes years of work and sacrifice, but we have also let Yahweh lead us as we listened to his direction. He gives the increase not from our own efforts. We decided early on we will not water down his Word for the sake of numbers. He gives and takes away and all of it is His will. We are just servants for Truth.
Through the blessings of our supporters Yahweh has led us on an amazing journey. We were on national network television for a time. The Discover the Truth program was seen by up to 50,000 viewers per telecast, per station airing on several networks, like SkyAngel, Trinity Broadcast Network, The CW, Superstation WGN, and others, multiple times a week. We had the great honor to record programs and videos from the Holy Land that have been seen by millions. He has led us to publish the world’s only Sacred Name Study Bible, purchased by tens of thousands. We try to fulfill what Yahweh leads us to do and at the same time realize that all our accomplishments are His.
We will continue to preach the truth of Yahweh in this declining world until we are unable. We are waiting for Him to give us the next big challenge, whatever that may be. If that opportunity never comes we are content to continue to hold the line for Truth as these humble stones cry out. We will always revere, preach, and defend the great Name of Yahweh and His son Yahshua until His return.