Who Is the WMSCOG?
The World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) was established by Zahng Gil Jah and Joo Cheol Kim in 1985 after their former leader, Ahn Sahng Hong died of a stroke. The group was previously known as the “Church of God Ahnsahnghong Witness Association” and later in 1997, as the World Mission Society Church of God (commonly translated from Korean to English as “World Gospel Association”). The second splinter group to come out of Ahn Sahng Hong’s original congregation became known as the New Covenant Passover Church of God (NCPCOG) and is currently run by Ahn Sahng Hong’s son. The reason for the division among Ahn Sahng Hong’s followers after his death, was that one group of members believed that Zahng Gil Jah was “god the mother” and the other group did not.
A Court in Seoul, South Korea documented the events surrounding the split between Ahn Sahng Hong’s followers in the WMSCOG vs. Ji Won Tak case. According to the Court’s records, the group led by Zahng Gil Jah changed its name from “Church of God Ahnsahnghong Witness Association” to “Church of God World Gospel Association,” in order to distance itself from Ahn Sahng Hong’s failed prediction that the world would end in 1988. The WMSCOG would suffer yet another embarrassment when their prediction that the world would end in 2000 also failed.
The World Mission Society Church of God Reaches the United States
Despite the evidence that the group believed that the world would end in 2000, the World Mission Society Church of God traveled to the United States and filed for tax exemption in California in January of 1999. The WMSCOG went on to establish two other main hubs under which it would incorporate numerous locations across the US, Illinois in 2000 and finally in New Jersey in 2008.
To date, the World Mission Society Church of God claims to have 7500 churches, 175 countries and a total of three million members. It is unknown if the WMSCOG subtracts the members who leave the organization from its calculations.
Core Beliefs & Practices
- A Korean man named Ahn Sahng Hong, who died in 1985, was the second coming of Jesus Christ. During his lifetime, Ahn Sahng Hong fulfilled numerous biblical prophecies.
- A Korean woman named Zahng Gil Jah, currently living in South Korea, is “god the mother” and spiritual wife of Ahn Sahng Hong.
- Saturday is the correct day to worship God and any church that worships on a Sunday practices paganism.
- Tuesday worship, also known as third day service, is also required.
- Women are required to wear veils during church services.
- Men and women sit separately during church services.
- Salvation can ONLY be obtained through activities including but not limited to, baptism into the WMSCOG, observance of all of their appointed holidays, tithing, recruiting new members and strict attendance.
- All humans are angels that sinned in heaven and are born on earth in order to earn their way back into heaven.
- Children and love are temptations from Satan.
- People who criticize the WMSCOG, especially family and friends, are “slanderers” who are being controlled by Satan.
The WMSCOG’s Public Image
The WMSCOG has made extensive efforts to improve its already damaged public image since 2011, when information about the group became more readily available online and on social media. Prior to 2011, numerous blogs not only criticized the group’s religious beliefs, but also criticized its negative effects on families, marriages, individuals’ finances and the other abuses by the group. In response, the WMSCOG in New Jersey filed numerous lawsuits against the creators of this website in an attempt to silence negative online criticism about the group, only to have the cases dismissed. The WMSCOG has been equally unsuccessful in silencing former members with a non-disclosure agreement that a New Jersey Court declared “invalid, unenforceable and void.” In addition to their efforts to bully critics, the WMSCOG has flooded the Internet with YouTube videos and blogs about their volunteer efforts and numerous awards, in an attempt to bolster their public image. The WMSCOG’s efforts seem to be thwarted by the recent increase in YouTube videos created by former members about their negative experiences within the group.
How Does The WMSCOG Compare To Other Religious Groups?
The World Mission Society Church of God’s beliefs and practices are not unique. Ahn Sahng Hong established his own church in 1964, but critical beliefs and practices that the WMSCOG credits specifically to Ahn Sahng Hong, already existed in other churches.
- The Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church, established in 1863, believes that the Sabbath must be observed on Saturday. This comes to no surprise since its founder Ahn Sahng Hong was raised Buddhist and later baptized into the SDA church.
- The Worldwide Church of God (currently known as Grace Communion International) established by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1933, celebrates the seven feasts of the Old Testament and includes the foot washing ceremony as part of their Passover observance.
- The belief in the “True Parents” was first introduced in the Unification Church by Sung Myung Moon in 1960 when he married his second wife Hak Ja Han.