The Shepherd's Rod movement as it is popularly known, was derived from a series of controversial Biblical Studies presented initially in Los Angeles, California, in the 1930's by Victor Tasho Houteff, A Bulgarian Emigre, and while a Sabbath School Teacher in a Los Angeles local Seventh-day Adventist church.
Victor Tasho Houteff was born in Raicovo, Bulgaria, March 2, 1885, and became a member of the Greek Orthodox Church before emigrating to the United States in 1907. In 1919, while running a small hotel in the mid-west, he joined the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination.
Church. By 1923, Bro. Houteff relocated to Los Angeles, California, where he became a respected and popular church member and Sabbath School Teacher. His lessons revealed new and startling expositions of countless Biblical passages. While not contradicting the church's fundamental doctrines, he called for a world-wide denominational reform, and brought "new light" to SDA eschatology. Those new teachings subsequently brought a wave of persecution to believers who were convinced of its veracity and that it was divinely inspired truth. Its theological positions posed a gargantuan challenge to SDA clergy and laity. Its explications and exegeses were so compelling that even some high ranking officials embraced the message.
In 1930 Bro Houteff published his first Volume, entitled, "The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 1". He published a 2nd (Shepherd's Rod, Volume II) in 1932. This of course did not stop the persecution. In fact, it intensified. This brought on a series of confrontations involving believers being verbally and physically abused. Church leaders numerous times and with varying methods, attempted unsuccessfully to stamp out the fledgling movement.
Finding no other recourse, Rod believers organized the Universal Publishing Association in 1934, in Los Angeles, California. In 1935 he established a training center, and Headquarters in Waco, Texas, where for about 20 years the ministry catapulted the message to Adventists world-wide. It published and dispensed millions of pieces of literature, initiated and employed hundreds of workers, all the while building an expansive institution with 389 acres - with crop farming, houses, horses, goats, a dairy farm, orchards, and an apiary. It had its own water supply, dispensary, mercantile, chapel and Bible Training School. Up to 125 persons resided at the Center--mostly staff and their families. By the mid 1950's its regular subscribers numbered about 100,000 worldwide. The Denomination numbering just over 800,000. It was during this period that "Rod" believers became known as Davidian Seventh-day Adventists.
On February 5, 1955, Victor Houteff died at Hillcrest Hospital, Waco, Texas of heart failure. His wife was elected the Chairman of the Executive Council, but through a series of unfortunate and ill-advised decisions and predictions, plunged the movement into disrepute, especially when the new Council forecasted the establishment of the Kingdom in April 22, 1959. This debacle became known as the "knock-out blow" and subsequently caused the movement to fragment, and the Association dissolved.
Since that time, orthodox believers have reorganized endeavoring to carry the original, untainted, message to the SDA denomination in harmony with Bro. Houteff's original writings. Believers still number in the thousands, but continue to face stiff opposition from the Church's hierarchy--believers still battle unrelenting prejudice and persecution. Furthermore, they have to confront radical and fanatical elements who start their own groups and introduce strained and contradictory teachings, completely out of harmony with the Bible, the teachings of the church and Victor Houteff's message.
The General Association of Davidian Seventh-day Adventists remains true to the the original teachings as expounded from the Scriptures and the writings of Mrs. E. G. White, the church's Inspired founder. It holds true as its original forbearers, that the Shepherd's Rod Message is God's voice--His revelation today to the SDA Church Denomination. We are convinced because of the overwhelming Biblical evidence. That is, despite the skeptics, its persecutors and fanatics, its teachings' rooted deep in the Holy Scriptures convince us that we have not followed "cunningly devised fables". (2 Pet. 1:16).