The Church of God was founded by Sanghong Ahn in Busan city of South Korea in 1964. Sanghong Ahn entered the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1954 and was expelled in March 1962 after insisting the annual feasts such as the Passover should be observed in addition to the Sabbath.
The Church of God celebrates the Sabbath and the annual feasts such as the Passover, the Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles, and women cover their heads with towels during worship.
It is generally known to people that the World Mission Society Church of God(WMSCOG) is the original church founded by Sanghong Ahn. However, the original name of the Church of God was the Church of God Jesus Witnesses(COGJW). When Sanghong Ahn was alive, the Church of God had a single denomination, but now it is divided into several denominations, and the largest of them is the WMSCOG.
In February 1985, the sudden death of the founder Sanghong Ahn caused confusion regarding the succession within the COGJW. Eventually, as the Seoul Church, led by Gilja Jang, became independent from the Busan Church, the Church of God was separated into two churches.
The Seoul Church attempted to seize the power of the church by appointing Gilja Jang as God the mother and Joo-cheol Kim as the general president, but failed to achieve their will due to the opposition of the Busan Church.
The Seoul Church, which was independent from the Busan Church, began to make new doctrine as follows.
– Sanghong Ahn is God who came in the flesh and is the Second coming Jesus Christ. Therefore you must pray in the name of Sanghong Ahn .
– Gilja Jang is God the mother appointed by Sanghong Ahn, and you must believe in Gilja Jang as well as Sanghong Ahn to gain eternal life.
– The official name of the church shall be ‘Church of God Ahn Sanghong Witnesses’.
However, the Busan Church did not accept the claim of the Seoul Church and insisted as follows.
– Sanghong Ahn is a prophet and should not be deified.
– Sanghong Ahn thoroughly rejected the claim that God the Mother exists, and taught that the bride in the Bible mean the saints.
– The only name of the Savior is Jesus.
After the two churches were divided, the Seoul Church began to insist that they are the orthodox Church of God as follows.
– In January 1985, Sanghong Ahn held a meeting at the Seoul Church and decided to move the address of the church’s general assembly from Busan to Seoul.
– Sanghong Ahn secretly and verbally left his will at the Seoul Church in January 1985 to make Gilja Jang the mother God and Joocheol Kim the next general president.
However, the Busan Church refuted the claims of the Seoul Church as follows.
– From 1964 to 1984, the Busan Church was a headquarter of the Church of God, and has served as the church’s general assembly every year without exception.
– The meeting held at the Seoul Church in January 1985 was a meeting to register the church in Korean government and was not an official general assembly meeting. Therefore, only members of the Seoul Church attended the meeting, and it was a meeting that many churches across the country did not know. When registering in Korean government, it was said that the address should be set to Seoul for business convenience, but the Busan Church decided to play the role of the actual general assembly meeting. Furthermore, since the church’s registration in Korean government was not carried out, all the decisions of the meeting were canceled.
– Sanghong Ahn died suddenly from a stroke, so he has not left any his will on the succession.
The Seoul Church, which started as Church of God Ahn Sanghong Witnesses in 1985, began to expand the church with the theory of eschatology, and began overseas missions around 1997 and changed the name of the church to World Mission Society Church of God(WMSCOG). Since then, it has grown steadily and has entered 175 countries, and has established over 500 churches worldwide.
COGJW(Church of God Jesus Witnesses) has kept Sanghong Ahn’s teachings unchanged since 1985 and believes that Sanghong Ahn is just a prophet who fulfilled Elijah’s mission. And COGJW believes that it is blasphemy to regard Sanghong Ahn or Gilja Jang as divine beings, and that the last church must restore the truth of the early church and keep God’s commandments and faith in Jesus.
COGJW values God’s commandments as follows.
– Baptism by immersion
– the Sabbath day worship
– The cross is an idol.
– Women wear towels on their heads when worshiping or praying.
– Daily regular prayer time
– The Passover, The feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of First Fruit, the Day of Pentecost, the feast of Trumpet, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacle
– Feast dates must be set on the new moon in accordance with the Bible.
COGJW decided around 1992 that all biblical feast dates should be set based on the new moon. However, there were some who insisted the full moon must be the standard, and who left the church saying that they could not follow the decision of the General Assembly. Around 2002, when Sanghong Ahn’s son, Kwang-seop Ahn joined to them, a separate church was established in Songpa district of Seoul city, whose name was the New Covenant Passover Church of God(NCPCOG).
When NCPCOG left COGJW in Busan, the only difference was whether it was based on the new moon or the full moon when calculating the feast dates. However, after Kwangseop Ahn joined, they began to make new arguments about Sanghong Ahn around 2007. They began to argue that they should believe in Sanghong Ahn as God who came in the flesh, the Second Coming Jesus.
COGJW says that no one other than Jesus can be as a divine being and only Jesus Christ is the Savior. Therefore, COGJW says that there could be decisive errors different from the Bible in the teaching of Sanghong Ahn. You may find an article on the COGJW’s official internet homepage that Sanghong Ahn’s interpretation of the prophecy of the king of David was wrong.