|Founder||Victor Paul Wierwille|
|Focus||Biblical research, teaching, and fellowship|
|Origins||October 3, 1942 |
Vesper Chimes radio program
|Vern Edwards, Director |
Bill Greene, Director
John Rupp, Director
The Way International is a global, non-denominational Christian ministry based in New Knoxville, Ohio. The followers congregate primarily in home fellowships  located throughout the United States, two US territories and in over 30 countries. The Way International teaches that every follower can have an accurate understanding of God's original intent in His Word. It was founded by Victor Paul Wierwille in 1942 as a radio program, subsequently becoming The Chimes Hour Youth Caravan in 1947, and The Way, Inc., in 1955. The ministry distributes publications such as The Way Magazine through its company, American Christian Press, and has developed and promotes classes and other programs, some of which are in several languages. It formed The Way Corps, a leadership training program, in 1970. The Way offers classes in biblical studies to its followers, prominently The Way of Abundance and Power class series. The Way International has given focused attention on first-century Christianity and extensive research into the Church Epistles. It has been described as combining biblical literalism, evangelicalism, Calvinism, ultradispensationalism, and Pentecostalism. The teaching of The Way is based on that "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" (KJV translation) and they believe the Bible interprets itself in a variety of ways, which is taught in its studies, classes, and publications.
On October 3, 1982, Rev. L. Craig Martindale became the second president of The Way. He was followed by Rev. Rosalie F. Rivenbark in April 2000. In March 2017, Rev. Jean-Yves DeLisle was installed as the fourth president. On March 10, 2020, Rev. Vernon W. Edwards was installed as the fifth president of The Way.
Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille, known by his followers as "Doctor", was born in his family farm's kitchen on December 31, 1916. He had a great interest in Christianity since his youth. He attended Mission House College and Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, and the University of Chicago Divinity School. He later received a Master of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Pikes Peak Bible Seminary.
He was ordained as a minister in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (now United Church of Christ). He maintained he had recovered the true apostolic understanding of Christianity that had been lost to the church. He later claimed God spoke to him personally, telling him He would teach him "the Word as it had not been known since the first century", so that he could pass it on to others.
On October 3, 1942, Wierwille began a weekly live radio program dubbed Vesper Chimes. Wierwille assembled a group of youth to help him from local churches. The program was broadcast from WLOK in Lima, Ohio, where the youth would sing and perform alongside Wierwille's sermons that included "principles for abundant life". Soon afterwards, the program was renamed The Chimes Hour Youth Caravan. Wierwille published his first book, Victory Through Christ, in 1945, compiling his radio sermons. In 1947, The Chimes Hour Youth Caravan incorporated with Wierwille as president alongside a board of directors.
That year, The Way: The Chimes Hour Young People's Publication began publishing writings by people associated with the radio program each month. Starting in 1948, Wierwille began broadcasting every morning in addition to the regular weekly program. Nearly ten years following the first broadcast, The Van Wert Gospel Gift Shop and Multigraph Printing and Publishing Co. opened for business and released the first issue of The Way Magazine. The Chimes Hour Youth Caravan continued to have radio and public performances until April 1953, at which time the Nielsen ratings showed that 70,000 homes were tuned in on Sundays, broadcasting over radio station WLW, Cincinnati. Wierwille continued to broadcast his meditations over WIMA (formerly WLOK) in Lima, WONW in Defiance, and WRFD in Worthington, Ohio, until 1955.
In 1953, Wierwille started teaching the course that would later become Power for Abundant Living. It was held in Van Wert, Ohio. It expanded to other locations in Ohio and eventually to other states. Four years later, he resigned from the Evangelical and Reformed Church pastorate to devote his time to The Way ministry.
Moving to his family's farm in New Knoxville in 1959, he established the location as the headquarters for The Way's Institute for Biblical Research and Teaching, later The Way Inc. The Way's followers grew significantly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In January 1968, Wierwille's visited San Francisco to personally witness the Jesus People street ministries, such as those in Haight-Ashbury, where he ministered himself. Some of the groups he met later incorporated as The Way East (based in Rye, New York) and The Way West (based in Mill Valley, California), groups that utilized Wierwille's PFAL class in their ministries. Wierwille had many join him on his trip, marking a period of large growth for his ministry. Wierwille later merged The Way East and The Way West into The Way Inc., now the Way International.
In 1982, during the ministry's 40th anniversary celebration, Wierwille installed L. Craig Martindale as president and accepted the title Founding President.
In 2000, Martindale's term as president ended and Rev. Rosalie F. Rivenbark replaced him. The governing board, originally called the board of trustees, but now called the board of directors, consisted of three to five directors, with Rivenbark as chairman.
In January 2017, Rivenbark stepped down from the presidency but retained her position as chairman of the board of directors. Rev. Jean Yves DeLisle was installed as the fourth president.
On March 10, 2020, Rev Vern Edwards was installed as the fifth president 
On June 16, 2020, Rivenbark stepped down as chairman, and the board of directors was reduced to three members: Rev Vern Edwards, Rev Bill Greene, and Rev John Rupp.
The Way International headquarters is located in New Knoxville, Ohio, and they also own and operate Camp Gunnison--The Way Household Ranch in Gunnison, Colorado. The Way is organized into Regions, States, and Branches, with each Branch consisting of two or more household fellowships. The Way focuses on these fellowships as a basic organizational unit. Meetings are run in each home by fellowship coordinators who have completed The Way of Abundance and Power class series. The Way International claims no official membership other than the board of directors; individuals who participate in fellowships are referred to as "followers of the way," or "believers".
Until at least the late 1980s, The Way's organization was based on a tree with "leaves" (individual believers), "twigs" (small group fellowships of about 6 to 12 persons, usually private homes or college bible groups), "branches" (groups of two or more fellowships in a local area such as a city), "limbs" (state organizations), "regions" (groupings of several "limbs") and the international headquarters in New Knoxville being the "trunk".
The Way offers three sequential classes covering bible studies. The Foundational and Intermediate classes are required prior to taking any other classes. To qualify for the Advanced class, which is held specially in Ohio each summer, a student must first complete the Foundational and Intermediate classes twice, in addition to Defeating the Adversary.
For years The Way offered a twelve-session, over 33-hour long Power for Abundant Living class, taught live by Wierwille beginning in 1953. This class was offered in video and audio tape form from 1968 until it was replaced in 1995 by Martindale's class The Way of Abundance and Power, which was restructured and re-filmed, being released in 2006.
In 1970, Wierwille formalized his selection and training of ministry leaders by starting "The Way Corps". The Way Corps' motto is "It Is Written". Prior to the First Corps, Wierwille invited a group of Way followers to New Knoxville for training and teaching. He disbanded the group for reasons which were never made public, other than a statement in The Way: Living in Love that they "never got it together among themselves", and that Wierwille "gave them the privilege of leaving". This group was later referred to as "The Zero Corps".
In 1977, the Way purchased property in Rome City, Indiana, where the "Family Corps", those adults who wanted to train as leaders but had children or were older (over 40), resided and trained. A 200-acre (81 ha) working farm, Rome City, was purchased from the Catholic Church.
In 1974, The Way purchased the former site of the College of Emporia, a United Presbyterian college in Emporia, Kansas, with an opening enrollment of 400 students. Activities during the campus residencies included basic mandatory physical activity (jogging) and other optional activities as desired (weightlifting, team sports, etc.). Days were spent on work assignments, usually involving the needs of each campus (such as painting, food service, construction, building renovation, sanitation, gardening). Other programs included Biblical research and study nights, led by ministry staff, and typically involved in-depth study of various books of the Bible.
One of the work projects of the Emporia campus was the restoration of the Anderson Memorial Library, a Carnegie library built in 1901 that had fallen into disrepair. It was rededicated in 1986 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 25, 1987. Before senior year, students at The Way College left for an interim year as missionaries.
Upon completion of the four-year curriculum, graduates receive an accredited degree in theology. Way Corps duties include "providing spiritual leadership at all levels and carrying out decisions made by the Board of Directors". The Way has ordained Way Corps graduates over the years, and both men and women serve as clergy. Neither graduation from the Way Corps nor accepting a high leadership position guarantee ordination.
A yearly gathering of Way followers in New Knoxville, Ohio, known as "The Rock of Ages Festival," was a Way event that took place from 1970 until 1995, when it was discontinued. One of the purposes of the festival was to welcome home returning Word Over the World Ambassadors (the Way's first missionary program) and to send out a new group on their yearly assignment.
Wierwille believed that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. In 1957, he began his association with Aramaic Bible scholar George M. Lamsa, and Lamsa finished his translation of the Lamsa Bible in Wierwille's home. Lamsa and Wierwille produced the first American Aramaic grammar in 1960.
In 1985, The Way published a Concordance to the Peshitta Version of the Aramaic New Testament, followed by a three-volume interlinear version of the Syriac New Testament Bible in 1988, after a 15-year effort by The Way International Biblical Research Team. The Way Biblical Research team cataloged 600 Aramaic manuscripts to compile their New Testament text and lexical aids.
Wierwille's other major publications include Jesus Christ Our Passover, Jesus Christ Our Promised Seed, Jesus Christ Is Not God, Are the Dead Alive Now?, The Bible Tells Me So, The New, Dynamic Church, The Word's Way, God's Magnified Word, Order My Steps in Thy Word, and Receiving the Holy Spirit Today.
The Way International's belief system is based on the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments being "given by inspiration of God" and perfect as originally given. It believes that these Scriptures are the final authority for believing and godliness.
The Way International believes:
The Way International believes that Jesus is the Son of God, not God the son. In their view, unlike God, Jesus is not omniscient, omnipotent, nor omnipresent. Jesus did not exist before his birth except in the foreknowledge of God; at his conception, God created the sperm to fertilize Mary's ovum, and is the literal father of Jesus. Joseph and Mary married soon after she became pregnant with Jesus and had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus. The Way dates the birth of Jesus on September 11, 3 BC.
In "Receiving the Holy Spirit Today", The Way believes Holy Spirit is a direct reference to God, rather than a separate entity or person. This term is contrasted with the "holy spirit", which is a reference to a "divine gift" from God. Wierwille claimed that English translators of the Bible missed this distinction, and that Greek manuscripts were written in uncial script, which further confused the subject. The Way also posits that there are nine manifestations of the holy spirit and every born again Christian can inherently operate all nine. The list is derived from . Speaking in tongues, energizes the "effectual operation" of the other eight manifestations. Speaking in tongues holds an important place in The Way's doctrine for this reason.[self-published source]
The Way's beliefs about Christ's passion differ in several details: They believe Jesus was crucified on Wednesday (instead of Friday) and raised three days later on a Saturday before sunset (instead of Sunday morning). Jesus died upon a stake, together with four other individuals (instead of two), two thieves and two malefactors, based on the use of different words by Luke and Matthew, specifically, kakourgoi and l?stai.
According to The Way, the cross upon which Jesus was crucified was not the traditional T-shaped cross, but rather a stake or the trunk of a tree. Furthermore, Jesus did not carry his cross; rather, after leaving the judgment hall, the soldiers immediately compelled Simon of Cyrene to bear the cross all the way to Calvary per the three Gospel accounts in , and . The one account in which states "And he bearing his cross...", is argued that it refers to Jesus' spiritual "bearing of sin".
The Way makes a distinction between the bride of Christ and the body of Christ, the body of Christ beginning on the Day of Pentecost and continuing until the return of Christ.
The "thorn in the flesh" in is interpreted as individuals sent by Satan to disrupt the apostle Paul's ministry, not an illness as it is commonly interpreted. Also, the dead do not immediately go to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord, or unbelievers to hell, but rather that death is a continuing state which will end only when Jesus Christ returns for his saints (; ) and with his saints. In this way they believe that souls are not immortal, thus remaining dead until the final resurrection, which is known by some as soul sleep. Wierwille also wrote that the "unsaved" simply "die a second and final death". Way followers reject water baptism, holding that it wasn't intended as a continuing practice after Pentecost, and that it applied only to Israel. With the coming of the greater (baptized in holy spirit) the lesser (baptized in water) is done away with.
The Way notably believes that once a person is born again, they receive "holy spirit" and cannot lose it through any sinful acts. Tithing one's net income to the church is a recommended minimum, taking the example from Abraham's donation to Melchizedek, as well as the instruction in . Additional voluntary giving is called "abundant sharing", and "plurality giving", which refers to the donation of any excess items the owner feels he no longer needs or has too many of, generally within fellowships to help the other members.
The Way believes extreme forms of unusual or destructive behavior (i.e., extreme violence, alcoholism, homosexuality, some forms of mental illness) can be evidence that an individual is possessed by a "devil spirit". A "devil spirit" is equivalent to a demon in most other Christian cosmologies. The Way teaches that believers have the power to cast out devil spirits but should only do so if given divine revelation to do so.
In contrast to Evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic Christians, The Way teaches that abortion is not murder as a fetus does not have "breath life" and therefore does not have its "living soul" until it takes its first breath when born.
As of the late 1980s, graduates of The Way's Advanced Class were encouraged to read the books The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler and Did Six Million Really Die?, a Holocaust denial pamphlet by Richard Verrall. The Thirteenth Tribe argues that most modern day Jews are descendants of the Khazars, who were a Turkic people in modern-day Ukraine, Southern Russia, and Kazakhstan who converted to Judaism in the 8th Century and their descendants became the Ashkenazi Jews. It is not clear if The Way subscribes to the correlative theory of British Israelism (Khazar theory of Ashkenazi ancestry). Another particular Way belief is that baptism was instituted by God for Israel only, only for a limited time.
Unlike some Bible-based Christian sects, The Way is tolerant of smoking and drinking. They recommend a "two drink" limit for leaders. However, those participating as active Way Corps do not use any tobacco products.
The Way believes that homosexuality is not God's design and agrees with many Christian organizations on this position (Baptist, Roman Catholic, Evangelic Protestant, Pentecostal, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventist, etc.). They reject the idea that homosexuality is genetically determined and believe that it is a person's freewill choice. The Way derives its teaching through Biblical sources such as Romans 1:27 and "Thou shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination". If homosexuality were genetically determined then a homosexual would be destined by God to a lifetime of error and sin.
"The Way is heavy," say Rye kids at a prayer-and-fellowship meeting