The Story of the Shepherd’s Rod

Request for an Additional Hearing

In the meantime Mr. Houteff was telling unsuspecting
brethren that his teachings had never been given careful consideration
by brethren of experience in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This charge,
as we have shown, was not true.

But to leave him and all concerned without further doubt
on that point, the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Fullerton,
near Los Angeles, gave consideration in December of 1933 to a suggestion
that arrangements be made for Mr. Houteff to be given another hearing
by brethren of experience. And on January 18, 1934, they and Mr. Houteff
jointly sent a formal written request to the Pacific Union Conference
Committee for such a hearing to be held. Here is a copy’ of that document:

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"Los Angeles, California "January 18, 1934
"To the Members of the Pacific Union Conference Committee:

"Dear Brethren:
"We, as members of the Tabernacle Church of S.D.A. of Fullerton,
California, after counseling with Victor T. Houteff concerning the teachings
of the ‘Shepherd’s Rod’ respectfully request that you appoint a committee
of ten to twelve ‘brethren of experience’ to meet with Brother Houteff
while he places before them the evidence for his belief in the fundamentals
of his message. The subjects to be considered are "The Harvest,’
‘Ezekiel 9,’ ‘The Leopard Beast of Revelation 13,’ ‘Hosea, chapters 1-2,’
and ‘Matthew 20.’ In these studies Brother Houteff is to use only the
writings of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. The time used is not
to exceed one week.
"After each study the committee selected may retire for counsel,
and may then submit its evidence for mistakes in Brother Houteff’s teaching,
such evidence to be drawn from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy only.
"If after the first study mistakes may be substantiated from authority
mentioned above, further studies are not to be given. The same conditions
are to prevail after each succeeding study.
"In case the committee find error in the teaching of ‘The Shepherd’s
Rod,’ and are able to refute same by the teachings of the Bible and the
Spirit of Prophecy, Brother Houteff agrees to renounce the advocacy of
the ‘Shepherd’s Rod,’ and to make public renunciation of same.
"Brother Houteff also agrees to discontinue the propagation of the
‘Shepherd’s Rod,’ so far as he can control same, in the Pacific Union
Conference, during the time this investigation is being made.
"The conditions hereby entered into are in compliance with the instruction
given in Testimonies, vol. 5, page 293; Testimonies on Sabbath School
Work, pages 65-66.
"Respectfully submitted
"Representatives for Tabernacle Church
"(Signed) J. W. Rich
"(Signed) L. R. Sommerville"
"For ‘The Shepherd’s Rod’
"(Signed) V. T. Houteff"

VIEW THIS LETTER

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J. W. Rich, whose signature appears on the letter, was
one of the ministers of the Southeastern California-Arizona Conference;
and L. R. Sommerville was one of the elders of the SDA church in Fullerton.

Five days later–on January 23-Elder Rich sent Mr. Houteff
a letter notifying him that the request for a hearing had been granted
by the Pacific Union Conference Committee, and that it would be held as
soon as arrangements could be made for a group of brethren of experience
to get together for the purpose.26

On February 15 Elders Prout and Rich went in person
and informed Mr. Houteff orally that the hearing would be held on Monday,
February 19. 27 Mr. Houteff was told who were the ministers appointed
to hear him. But Mr. Houteff objected, and sent by Elders Prout and Rich
an oral request to the union office that the hearing be postponed, saying
that he had "a pre-arranged important engagement for that date"
27 -February 19.

The twelve ministers appointed to hear Mr. Houteff on
February 19 were the following: A. G. Daniells, a field secretary of the
General Conference; Glenn A. Calkins, president of the Pacific Union Conference;
G. A. Roberts, president of the Southern California Conference, C. S.
Prout, president of the Southeastern California-Arizona Conference; W.
G. Wirth, Bible teacher at the College of Medical Evangelists; H. M. S.
Richards, evangelist; C. M. Sorenson, Bible teacher at Southern California
junior College; J. A. Burden, manager of Paradise Valley Sanitarium; J.
C. Stevens, pastor of the SDA church in Glendale; W. M. Adams, religious
liberty secretary of the Pacific Union Conference; J. E. Fulton, president
of the Northern California Conference; and F. C. Gilbert, a field secretary
of the General Conference.28

Elder Daniells, who had previously served as president
of the General Conference for twenty-one years, also had been closely
associated with Mrs. E. G. White for many years. The other men were likewise
workers of wide experience in the denomination.

A few hours after Elders Prout and Rich had personally
notified Mr. Houteff on February 15 that the hearing would be held on
February 19, Glenn Calkins, president of the Pacific Union Conference,
sent on that same February 15 and by private dispatch, to ensure its speedy
delivery, a letter to Mr. Houteff to confirm the oral notice given him
by the two above-mentioned ministers.29

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On that same February 15 Mr. Houteff wrote to Elder
Calkins to say that those veteran ministers chosen to hear him expound
his views were "unfit for the occasion."’ And he added: "It
will be impossible for me to meet you brethren on the day stated by Elder
Prout. I request that arrangement be made for a week from next Monday-February
26."30 This was just four days before the scheduled date of the hearing.

The special committee, however, assembled on February
19, and Mr. Houteff attended the meeting. The brethren elected A. G. Daniells
to serve as chairman and W. G. Wirth to be secretary for the group. Since
J. E. Fulton was not able to attend, 0. J. Graf, former president of Emmanuel
Missionary College, had been appointed to serve in his stead. The meeting
opened promptly at ten o’clock in the morning. Two stenographers were
on hand to make a verbatim report of the proceedings. Mr. Houteff brought
along five or six of his followers, and they were permitted to witness
the hearing. After an earnest prayer by Elder Calkins the secretary read
the letter of request that had brought the group together.28

The chairman, Elder Daniells, expressed the hope that
the hearing would be conducted in strict harmony with the terms of the
agreement set forth in the written request, and suggested that Mr. Houteff
be allowed to state his views without interruption by the members of the
committee or anyone else present. The brethren agreed to this by unanimous
vote. The chairman then suggested that if he should wish to do so, Mr.
Houteff might feel free to present the first two subjects named in the
request, those of "The Harvest" and "Ezekiel 9." This
appeared to be agreeable to all. Moreover, the brethren manifested a willingness
to grant Mr. Houteff a week, if necessary, for the presentation of his
views.28
It was also agreed that the stenographic report of Mr. Houteff’s presentation
of his theories should be transcribed for the use of the committee in
reviewing the arguments set forth by him. Furthermore, the committee offered
to supply him a copy to be edited by him and returned to the committee
for its use in making this review. And this was sent to Mr. Houteff. 28

At 10:30 A.M. Mr. Houteff began his presentation of
the subject of "The Harvest," and concluded at 12:30 P.m. He
stated that he did not wish to present his views on "Ezekiel 9"
until after the committee had rendered its report. He said that if his
teachings

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on this subject were unsound, there would be no need
of discussing the others.

H. M. S. Richards, the present program director of the
Voice of Prophecy radio work in English, was a member of that committee,
as previously stated. He made notes in his diary from day to day as the
committee did its work, and he says of the meeting of February 19:

"When he [Mr. Houteff] got through about one o’clock,
Elder Daniells suggested [that] we go and get something to eat and come
back and take up where he [Mr. Houteff] left off. He said, No, he would
not go any further, it was useless for him to go further, [and that our
decision upon this one subject, The Harvest, would be our decision upon
the whole of his doctrinal program, as that was the key to it. Elder Daniells
urged him to go forward. He said, ‘We have brought these men here from
far away. They are ready to stay two days, three days, a week or two weeks,
however long it is necessary for us to get the full picture in our minds.
To us it is a serious thing. If you are right, we want to know it. If
you are wrong, you ought to know it. We have spent a good deal of money
to come here in a serious, honest attempt by the denomination to give
you a hearing. Therefore let us go ahead.’

"Again Mr. Houteff refused. This happened a number
of times. Any statement that he did not have all the time he wanted is
absolutely false. He was urged to take more time, urged to take days,
even weeks, but no, he refused to go any further at all. He wanted us
to go immediately into some room and make our decision and come out and
tell him. Elder Daniells said, ‘No, if you won’t go any further and you
wish us to make a decision on what you have given us today, we must have
time to study it, study the Bible and the Testimonies, and then after
much study and prayer we will come to a decision.’ It was decided that
the decision was to be made upon a written record of his [Mr. Houteff’s]
talk supplied by the two secretaries." 31

So Mr. Houteff definitely was informed that the committee
would need time to study carefully the views he had presented, and to
prepare its reply concerning them. Thus that meeting ended.28 Several
meetings were held by the committee alone thereafter, and every point
made in Mr. Houteff’s presentation was carefully considered, together
with what he had set forth in his writings. Before

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the committee had proceeded far in its work, they wanted
to make sure that Mr. Houteff had received a typewritten copy of the talk
he had given at the hearing, as recorded by the stenographers, for him
to revise as needed and be returned to the committee for study. The minutes
of the meeting on March 8 state:

"Elder Daniells asked if Houteff received an edited
copy of the [stenographic] notes of the Hoover Street meeting [at the
Tabernacle on Monday, February 191. Elder Calkins replied that this had
been sent to him on February 21, but that nothing had been heard from
him regarding these notes." 32
The report goes on to say: "It was moved that Elder Prout and another
brother go to Houteff’s home to find out if he had received the transcribed
notes of the meeting at the Hoover Street Tabernacle on February 19 sent
him by Elder Calkins on February 21. If he did not, these brethren were
to give him a copy of these notes and tell him that a meeting had been
arranged, the place to be announced later, for Friday, March 16, at about
9:00 o’clock in the morning, and that Houteff was requested to be present
at this meeting to hear our reply." 12

Elder Calkins, in a letter concerning the meeting of
February 19, 1934, says: "A few days later the transcribed notes
were presented to Mr. Houteff, and I remember distinctly [that] I called
him several times in the next two or three weeks to get back the corrected
copy, which finally did reach our office. As soon as it arrived we called
the full committee together to study carefully what he had presented in
the light of the teachings of the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy."33

In the meantime the denominational leaders in Washington,
D.C., had received inquiries about Mr. Houteff’s teachings. They had received
copies of his writings, some of which had been mailed to them by him,
and those who had examined them were convinced that they contained error.
The matter was presented to the General Conference Committee on February
19, 1934, the same day on which Mr. Houteff was given the hearing on the
West Coast. After discussing the matter, the General Conference Committee
took this action: "Voted, that W. A. Spicer, F. M. Wilcox, and W.
H. Branson be a committee to prepare material for a leaflet counteracting
the false teaching of the ‘Shepherd’s Rod.’" 34

Elder Spicer was then a field secretary of the General
Conference,

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Elder Wilcox was editor of the Review and Herald, and
W. H. Branson was president of the North American Division of the General
Conference. Thus two different groups of men of experience were at work
at the same time comparing the teachings of Mr. Houteff with those of
the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy.