Question: "What is the Gathering of Christ Church?"
Answer: According to the official website of the Gathering of Christ Church, this religious movement claims to be “sending an epistle throughout the world to the 12 Lost Tribes of Israel, which are scattered abroad and to all the Gentiles who believe the true doctrine of Christ by denouncing paganism and are baptized into the fold of Christ, keeping the commandments contained in the Bible.” This statement is general enough to sound almost orthodox, but upon further investigation, it is clear that this group's beliefs mean something very different from what they seem to communicate at first glance.
First, it is important to understand how this religious movement defines the “12 Lost Tribes of Israel.” According to the Gathering of Christ Church, the true Israelites are not ethnic Jews but are the Native Americans of North and South America and all Africans. The Gathering of Christ Church is comprised of mostly African-Americans and Hispanics. In fact, they claim to know which modern-day people groups are the true descendants of each of the 12 tribes of Israel:
Asher = the South American Indians
Ephraim = Puerto Ricans
Manasseh = Cubans
Gad = most North American Indians
Issachar = Mexicans
Naphtali = Pacific Islanders
Reuben = Seminole Indians and Australian Aborigines
Simeon = Dominicans
Zebulun = Central American Indians
Benjamin = Jamaicans
Judah = African-Americans
Levi = Haitians
The Gathering of Christ Church believes the tribulation is imminent and that a New World Order overseen by the Illuminati is implementing a satanic agenda. The Gathering of Christ Church also teaches that America will be hit first and hardest when the Illuminati set up global governance. The Gathering of Christ Church wants to flee America and live a simple, low-profile lifestyle in other countries.
The Gathering of Christ Church teaches that true Jews are wandering among the Gentile lands without any idea of who they are. They interpret Jeremiah 31:8, which says the Lord will gather His people from the “north country,” as a reference to North America. This interpretation is inaccurate. Jeremiah’s “north country” is a land north of Israel, not the North American continent. They also misinterpret Isaiah 42:22, which refers to Israel as “a people plundered and looted,” claiming that this is a reference to the Negroes and Native Indians of North, Central, and South America, who are the “true Jews.” However, Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled when Israel was exiled to Babylon in 586 B.C.
Besides misidentifying Israel, the Gathering of Christ Church claims there is only one name for God, Ahayah. Their official website states, “The true name of God in the Hebrew is Ahayah Ashar Ahayah which means I Am that I Am. Why then would the heathen uphold any of the names that we have aforementioned? The reality is that the heathen love and promote those names, because these are the names of the gods from whom they receive their power and might over the Children of Israel.” The Bible itself refers to God by many names (Lord, God, Father, Savior, and others), and this movement’s claim that only they use the true name for God is directly in conflict with the Bible’s statements.
Also, the Gathering of Christ Church teaches that today’s ethnic Jews are not really Jews at all; rather, they are the “synagogue of Satan,” a phrase lifted from Revelation 2:9. They call Jews today “the Roman powers,” identifying them with Westerners who oppress Africans and indigenous people in the Americas. However, the Bible defines the synagogue of Satan of Revelation 2:9 as something particular to the culture of Smyrna in Asia Minor. The passage clearly refers to a group of Jews who were troubling the believers in Smyrna in the 1st century. It is not a reference to “Western powers.”
The Gathering of Christ Church also believes the trans-Atlantic slave trade was predicted in the Bible. They base this belief on Deuteronomy 28:68, which warns Israel of the penalty for disobedience to the Law: “The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.” It is hard to see how this curse is connected to the African slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The movement utilizes many ancient, extra-biblical sources as “proof” for its teachings. Especially notable are the Book of Jasher and the Book of Enoch (both are pseudepigraphal works). Further, it should be noted that many of the movement’s ideas come from The Thirteenth Tribe, a radical 1976 book by Arthur Koestler. The movement also focuses on the King James Version of the Bible, though no official statement is made regarding Bible translations.
In summary, the Gathering of Christ Church is not a Christian church in the traditional, biblical sense, but is a new religious movement with many aberrant teachings that contradict orthodox biblical interpretation. The Gathering of Christ Church has many similarities to the “Black Hebrews / Black Israelites” movement. Christians should avoid supporting or becoming members of this movement. Rather, we should pray and reach out to this group’s members to provide a more accurate understanding of basic Christian beliefs and their application for today.