3-The Sharon Orphanage Connection

Before I was born my father
Ramon A Haas, founder of the ABC, studied at two seminaries under the G.I. Bill, earning a degree in religious studies. His intent was to become an ordained Pentecostal minister and at this time he also began learning from a man named William Branham, a famous Pentecostal minister. One of Branham’s teachings was the ability to use the “Spirit of God” to make things move on their own accord and my father related to me he tried this just once. He said things in the room did in fact move on their own but the air also became cold, dark and heavy. This scared him so he never tried it again. As time passed he partially rejected the teachings of Branham, but still maintained some of the principles taught by him through the Latter Rain Movement. He incorporated many of these Branham / Latter Rain Movement principles into the fabric of his teachings in the Assembly of the Body of Christ and, in this way, helped carry  forward some of  Branham's doctrines.

One of my father’s favorite songs, and one we sang often, was the tune "This is the Promise of the Coming Latter Rain. Lift Up Your Eyes Behold the Ripening Grain, Many Signs and Wonders are in His Holy Name, Drink Oh Drink My Brothers, For This is Latter Rain". I have searched for the origin of this song but it has no popular source in Christianity. I can deduce from that fact this song sprang from the Latter Rain movement alone. In his heart my father had every intent to restore and revive the "Latter Rain" movement he learned about in his young adulthood. He  spoke often to me of the Latter Rain movement and the restoration of the "latter rain" and it is still a common thread among groups like the ABC. A quick web search will give a review of many of these sects

Branham History

William Branham was born in 1909 in Kentucky. It was commonly reported on the day he was born a halo formed above his head.  His mother, not a Christian, and one heavily involved in fortune telling and the occult, decided after this sign her best option was to take him to a Baptist church in the community for a blessing. She and her family did not continue at this church during Branham's childhood but it still made an impression on him and he grew up to  became a Baptist preacher.

In 1948, Branham, left the Baptist church to become a Pentecostal minister and soon acquired a faithful group of followers. My father, not long back from the war, was one of those followers. These followers declared Branham to be “the apostle of the final church age” and when my father started the "Assembly of the Body of Christ" he also declared himself to be “an apostle of the final church age”, just like Branham.

Branham believed the church was in the seventh and final church age and in this teaching, taught God’s kingdom would soon return to earth, leaning heavily on the scripture in Joel 2:23 that speaks of the latter rain. This movement would become known as "The Latter Rain Revival" movement and the "Sharon Orphanage" in Battleford Saskatchewan would be the match that lit that fuse in many places. More on that later.

While it appeared on the surface Branham had immense healing power this was later proven to be a scam. He alleged to hear “The Voice” and this "voice"  instructed him on how he should live his life. “The Voice” remained with Branham his entire life and he claimed it revealed itself to him as an angel at times in physical form. Angel means messenger and, if we are to believe scripture, there are messengers of good as well as messengers of evil so it is highly doubtful to me this "voice" came from God.

Branham’s life ended in a tragic head-on collision in Arizona. His followers believed he had come in the spirit of Elijah so fully expected he would soon rise from the dead and kept a vigil by his grave . He, of course, did not rise from the dead as was assumed which should have debunked some of his teachings but they still live on in many movements today, including the ABC.

The principal vehicle for carrying some of Branham’s message forward was the Sharon Orphanage and Schools in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada. One student at this school was a man named George Hawtin; a man my father knew personally. I had an opportunity to speak to George Hawtin on the phone, not long before he passed away. He was not happy with the outcome of the teachings that emanated from the Sharon Orphanage and was quite animated in his comments to me about the subject.  Hawtin had befriended several other men at the orphanage and it was these men who would  bring the Latter Rain doctrine to Seattle; primarily a man named James A Watt. Watt would be one who would have the greatest influence on the doctrines of the ABC but more on that later.

The first spark for the Sharon Orphanage Latter Rain Revival movement was struck in the fall of 1947 when a group at the Sharon Orphanage and School; some of whom had personally been at Azusa Street;  traveled to Vancouver BC to hear Branham speak. They returned to Saskatchewan excited by the new ideas they heard and so developed a plan to rebuild the "Latter Rain Movement" started at Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Since this group held the belief the Pentecostal church, which they had recently left behind, was "stale, dry and lacking in spiritual gifts", they felt a revival of the "Latter Rain Movement", initially begun at Azusa Street, was the only means to bring life back into the church. First in Canada, then the U.S., then to the rest of the world. Not many years ago a group celebrated the seventieth anniversary of this tent meeting, and committed themselves to a renewing of the revival movement. This time, seeing the vision through. James Watt was one of those men present and he passed away without ever seeing that vision fulfilled.

By 1949, the Pentecostal church had begun an effort to squash this new movement. Not much later the Assemblies of God also tried to put it down. They were mostly unsuccessful and it led to a great deal of wranglings and loss of respect between previously amicable friends. The "Latter Rain Revival" movement continued to spread and ministers left the Pentecostal and Assemblies of God churches to take active roles in this new movement but by the 1950s the movement had lost most of its steam and run its course. Most of the men who had been in the forefront faded into the distance, or died, but many of the doctrines they taught are still alive and well today, for good or for bad.

One doctrine that carried through from this era to the present is “the five-fold ministry”. This doctrine teaches the church must have an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor and a teacher. There is also an emphasis on restoring, and observing, the feasts of Israel, with a very heavy emphasis on teaching primarily the foundation truths found in Hebrews 6:1-2, while ignoring Christ’s original message of tolerance and love. These things, love, acceptance and tolerance were Jesus' main message. Paul, the apostle, battled this tendency in his era as he often mentions those who followed the law and were becoming mired again in legalism.  There is no problem with following the foundation teaching, the issue is one of "this you should have done but not left the other undone; love and tolerance".

The next few paragraphs are excerpted from the Apologetics Index. I provide links after. Links change and move at times and I attempt to update these whenever they change but it can still be challenging. 
These paragraphs show some principal players in the birth of the ABC; Ern Baxter, William Branham, James A Watt and Derek Prince and I will show later there is a direct connection between James Watt and my father Ramon A Haas. All had direct or indirect ties to the Sharon Orphanage and schools.

A significant event in the history of Sharon Orphanage and School was its July 7-18, 1948 Camp Meeting, during which thousands of people from Canada and the United States flocked in hopes of receiving something special from God. Residents from at least twenty states attended, and the great Latter Rain Movement burst upon the world.
From that time the movement spread rapidly and Sharon shortly became just one of many centers of teaching for the Latter Rain Movement. Link
Among those present at the Sharon Camp Meeting in July, 1948, was George Warnock who at one time had been personal secretary to Ern Baxter (an associate with William Branham's healing ministry).  At this meeting one of the teachersJames Watt, made a passing remark that the third of Israel's feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles, was yet to be fulfilled.  This struck Warnock and he began to associate it with the end-time ministry of the Church, and the concept of restoration.
In the fall of 1949 Warnock took up residence at Sharon, "assisting in the office work, and helping in the Bible School and in the local church."
In 1951 Warnock wrote his book, 'The Feast of Tabernacles,' in which he layed out a specific doctrine for the Latter Rain Movement, and those who came after. He taught that the Church was about to usher in the completion of God's feasts for Israel, through perfection of the saints and their dominion over the earth.
Essentially, this Latter Rain teaching implies that the three great annual feasts of the Lord in Israel's worship (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) pre-figure and typify the whole Church Age, beginning with the death of Jesus on the cross, and consummating in "the manifestation of the Sons of God" - the "overcomers" who will step into immortality and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
Warnock teaches that this will be accomplished through the restoration of the Church in unity and, once done, the saints will "eat the Lord's Supper in reality." (as if we are not doing so now).
"Unity" as defined by Kingdom Theology entails the putting on of "the mind of Christ" so that we all think, say, believe, and confess the same things. What we will think, say, believe, and confess will be told to us by the apostles and prophets.
Unity without regard to "doctrine" (except the doctrine of those imposing the unity) is the great cry among those today who think that the Body of Christ has thus far failed in its commission. We will deal with these teachings in more detail later. Link

Note: To delineate further the tie-in the ABC has with these “Latter Rain” doctrines please reference this link to the official site of the ABC  Jewish Calendar. About the time I was being pushed out of the ABC, these feasts were being physically observed by the men at three yearly special gatherings. This was a new development.
Additional information and resources regarding the Latter Rain Revival can be found at this link.

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