Between 10% and 15% of the Worldwide Church of God's 400 congregations in the United States now worship on Sunday instead of Saturday, and the majority observe Christmas and Easter--all practices that the early founders of the church condemned.
The changes in worship were reported by Greg Albrecht, director of church relations, this week.
Founded in 1934 as the Radio Church of God by the late Herbert W. Armstrong, the Pasadena-based church forbade the observance of Christmas and Easter on grounds that they were pagan holidays. The church also observed the Saturday Sabbath and kept Jewish holidays.
But after Armstrong's death, the church went through wrenching theological changes. The new leadership said that many teachings were in error. By 1995 the church had declared itself to be a mainstream Christian evangelical body. The move was hailed by other churches, but led to a dramatic loss of income and membership.
Albrecht said the situation is "stabilizing." He reported 30,000 members in the U.S., and 30,000 overseas. When changes began, the church reported 104,000 members.