GOD'S KINGDOM SOCIETY

(Investigator 170, 2016 September)



INTRODUCTION

God's Kingdom Society (GKS) was founded in 1934 in Nigeria by Gideon M.Urhobo (1903-1952) a former Jehovah's Witness (JW).

GKS has become one of the larger offshoots from JWs with followers in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Benin, North America and England.



GKS FOUNDER, G.M. URHOBO
 
Gideon Meriodere Urhobo (1903-1952) was of the Urhobo people, a largely Christianized ethnic group numbering 2 million in southern Nigeria.

He was born in Lagos, educated in Warri (a coastal city east of Lagos), and taught in Roman Catholic schools. In 1930 he became a postal clerk and telegraphist.

Urhobo claims a vision of Jesus in 1933 sparked his ministry:

After three and half years diligent and prayerful studies of the Holy Bible, Jesus Christ revealed himself to me in a vision and commanded me to go and proclaim the good news of God's Kingdom (or 'Gospel of Peace') to all nations as the only remedy for all human sufferings and woes; to expose all the false doctrines which Satan had used to deceive the people and to keep them in ignorance of God's Kingdom and purpose of creation; and to pronounce God's written judgment against all wickedness.

He resigned his job to obey the vision and was deserted by his wife, friends and family who considered him crazy. He lectured against "churchianity" and Islam which gained him even more rejection.


WITH THE JWs

Urhobo now received some JW books and met the local JW leader, W.R. Brown.

He preached for JWs in Lagos but soon disagreed with Brown over:
•    Failed JW predictions;
•    JW doctrine on Marriage;
•    144,000 going to heaven;
•    The Memorial celebration;
•    Women preaching;
•    The name "Jehovah's Witnesses"; and
•    The teaching that JWs had "no human leader" (when obviously "Judge" Rutherford was the leader).

Urhobo and some others left JWs in October 1934 and founded GKS.

The abstract by D.I. Ilega (1990) says:

This article ... focuses on the conflicts between W.R. Brown, pioneer of the Watchtower in Nigeria, and G.M. Urhobo, onetime Watchtower representative in Nigeria and founder of the GKS, over the impending Armageddon, which Brown predicted would be fought in 1936 or 1937. When the war broke out in 1939 this seemed to many people to be the fulfilment of Brown's prophecy. In reaction to this prediction, farmers were already responding to the call to leave all and join in the gospel preaching. This not only disturbed Urhobo, but was also a matter of serious concern to the colonial government, which promulgated an Order-in-Council in 1940 preventing further importation of Watchtower literature into Nigeria.

W.R. Brown (c.1890-c.1967) was incredibly successful as a preacher. He colporteured in Trinidad in 1910, Dominica in 1915, and was sent by Rutherford to West Africa in 1923. Stationed mainly in Nigeria he also preached in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon and Ghana. He settled in Nigeria in 1931 and opened a JW Branch Office. He returned to the Caribbean in 1960. When Brown first went to West Africa JWs had virtually no members there. When he died, about 100,000 were preaching door to door, and today about 550,000.

Ilega's claim that Brown predicted Armageddon for 1936 or 1937 is plausible since Rutherford had several times indicated the mid 1930s, and in 1935 implied only "months" remained:

Suppose we should be wrong in the chronology and that the kingdom will not be fully set up in 1925. Suppose that we were ten years off, and it would be 1935 before restitution blessings began. Without a doubt there are now millions of people on the earth who will be living fifteen years from now; and we could with equal confidence say that 'Millions Now Living will Never Die'. Whether it be 1925 or 1935, restitution blessings must soon begin...
(Watchtower 1920 10/15 310)


During the few remaining months until the breaking of that universal cataclysm [Armageddon] the powers that rule the nations of the earth will continue to make treaties… (Universal War Near 1935, 27)



POLITICS

Urhobo also argued with Muslims, the National Church of Nigeria, various denominations, and politicians.

In the late 1940s he opposed the anti-colonial Zikist political movement because it sought Nigeria's independence through violence.

He then supported the N.C.N.C. founded by Dr. Nnandi Azikiwe [future president of Nigeria], but deserted it because of conflict with belief in Jehovah. In Nigeria's first general election in 1951/1952 Urhobo campaigned for the "Action Group" a liberal party founded to prevent N.C.N.C. control of Western Nigeria.




SECOND GKS PRESIDENT

Ebenezer Temisaren Otomewo became president of GKS upon Urhobo's death in 1952 and remained until his own death in 1997.

A glowing tribute to Otomewo appeared in The Guardian of Lagos which says in part:
     
During his tenure, honesty and forthrightness were in the forefront of all his actions. He shunned mundane things and encouraged worshippers to look unto God in all circumstances...

Humility guided all his life. He did not arrogate power to himself nor did he try to exploit situations to his gain...

During the civil war (1967-1970), he went to Benin to remonstrate with then Col. Adekunle, over the safety of some ministers of Igbo extraction, owing to the threat that faced all Igbo indigenes in the Mid West. He secured a respite from the dreaded wartime leader, risking his life in the process... (Eghagha 2002)

Otomewo was succeeded by 39-year-old Emmanuel Oseghale Aighalua, a solicitor and barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who lives with his wife in a mansion called Paradise House.
                 


GKS WEBSITE
 
GKS headquarters is in Warri on Nigeria's coast. Its website says:

The God's Kingdom Society is purely a Christian Organisation founded by the Almighty God through the instrumentality of St. Gideon Meriodere Urhobo...



NUMBERS

Ilega estimated that GKS members numbered 2,000 in the 1960s. The GKS website, however, says:

Around the earth, the largest, most similar yet different competitor to the Watchtower Society is the “God's Kingdom Society,” (GKS) which some estimate may have 3 million members.  The GKS itself ... does not count how many people are GKS members ... so an estimation of 3 million GKS members is not unreasonable.

The largest assembled GKS crowd shown on YouTube looks like several thousand. One YouTube video mentions 15,000 people at a GKS street procession, and several videos have received 1100 "Views". All this suggests thousands of members, not millions.

 
   
BELIEFS

The website continues:

The GKS much resembles Jehovah's Witnesses but differs largely in that it places much more emphasis on helping the needy, elderly, and young people.  So far its membership is mostly Nigerian...

From its founding the GKS has pointed out that the Watchtower Society has proved itself a false prophet many many times. As a quick example, even before the Watchtower Society mispredicted that 1975 would bring Armageddon, JWs poured into Nigeria's towns and villages proclaiming Armageddon's imminence after the eclipse of the sun on Tuesday, 2nd May 1947.

GKS ministers meet annually to decide on church policy and have spoken against homosexual marriages, violence, and the use of human embryonic cells for research.

GKS believes that Jehovah is God Almighty and Jesus Christ is Jehovah's son. Their YouTube sermon on this topic is indistinguishable from JW preaching.

GKS believes "Hell" refers to "sleep-like death for unconscious souls" and "The bible term 'Hell Fire' symbolizes everlasting destruction for the wicked" — again typical JW stuff. A "Little Flock" receives the "First Resurrection" and live in heaven. From Ecclesiastes 7:28 it is argued that no women go to heaven. Another resurrection applies to "faithful men and women of old who worshipped Jehovah before Christ was born" and these will live on "a reconstructed earth." Everyone else will share in the General Resurrection also located on Earth where they are judged by what they then do.

Armageddon is anticipated but "no one knows when". JWs believe God's Kingdom was set up in 1914 when Jesus returned invisibly but GKS says:

The Kingdom was established only after World War I which was 1914-1918. That was when Jesus returned invisibly.

Like the JWs, GKS:
•    Baptizes only adults;
•    Avoids interfaith;
•    Opposes racism;
•    Rejects "speaking in tongues";
•    Defines the Holy Spirit as "the invisible, active force of God";
•    Believes Jesus was born in October.

However, the JW belief that the Bible commands house to house preaching is rejected.  

Sunday services start and finish by exclaiming "Hail Jehovah and Jesus Christ!" The meetings have choirs and dancing which JW meetings don't. Men and women sit at opposite sides of the venue, women left side, men right side. Bible study meetings take place Wednesday nights and are separate for men and women.

Men do all the preaching — on streets, in homes, in public lectures, and via radio, TV and Internet. Females do charitable deeds.

Special meetings include a "Youth Assembly" every August, "Freedom Day" in October, "Feast of Tabernacles" in December, conferences for ministers in June, and a conference for lay members and women in March and April.

The GKS website says:

Many Nigerians, especially of the Urhobo and Isoko cultures, have become members of the GKS... Even non-members enjoy the GKS’s rich blend of Nigerian music, its large colorful festivals ... and blending of the elements of other people’s cultures...

JWs are considered "admirable for their zealousness but totally misled..."


CONCLUSION

JWs routinely proclaim how united they are compared to "divided Christendom", yet have generated hundreds of splinter groups!

Most splinter groups remained tiny or faded away, but a few had or have thousands of members. GKS is one that is expanding and going international.



REFERENCES:

Eghagha, H. Conscience, Nurtured By Truth, Remembering Ebenezer Otomewo, The Guardian, August 8, 2002
http://news.biafranigeriaworld.com/archive/ngguardian/2002/aug/08/article28.html

Ekeh, P.P. 2007 History of the Urhobo People of Niger Delta, Urhobo Historical Society, p. 182

GKS official website: www.mountainks.org

Ilega, D.I. 1982 Gideon M. Urhobo and the God's Kingdom Society in Nigeria, University of Aberdeen
http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.330863.htm

Ilega, D.I. 1990 God's Kingdom Society and the Watchtower Society, 1939-1945, Orita: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies, Volume: 22, Issue 1, 27-39
www.africabib.org/rec.php?RID=084864788.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urhobo_people

http://waado.org/UrhoboCulture/Religion/GKSChurch.html
 (BS)

JWs are ignorant about their own religion and its many splinter groups but this website seeks the facts:

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/