A split is occurring in United Church of God centered around Mr. Leon Walker and the Latin American region of the church. It appears that UCG will lose some ministers and members, but how many is not clear. The situation is still evolving.
There are many details (and opinions) concerning the cause of the split and its progress, which those who are interested can find online (I will give some links below). But here is a brief summary.
Mr. Walker had communicated with several ministers in his area via email informing them about issues and sharing his opinion on those issues, issues which could affect how they vote in UCG. UCG headquarters became aware of that communication, which it did not like, and asked Mr. Walker to cancel a trip he had planned in Latin America and come to headquarters to discuss the matter. Mr. Walker declined, and headquarters fired him as regional director (or coordinator) for the Latin American region. However, Mr. Walker has stated that he intends to continue to supervise the Latin American region, and it appears that a large number of UCG ministers and members in Latin America, probably a majority, intend to support Mr. Walker in this controversy and accept his continued supervision. UCG is separately incorporated in Latin America, and according to a statement by Mr. Walker, he was made director of that area by Mr. Armstrong in 1979, and in July of 1995 he and the ministers under his supervision joined with UCG as a group, and he has supervised that area since.
Mr. Dennis Luker has given a sermon talking about government in UCG, in which he pleads for unity and warns those who do not cooperate with UCG headquarters.
There have been letters, posts, explanations, etc. on both sides. Here are some links for those who are interested:
COGwriter blog (Robert Thiel):
Inside United: Realtime (an official UCG blog) - earliest posts are listed first:
http://realtimeunited.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/seiglie-mario-da-actualizacion-desde-chile/ (Spanish language)
(contains a link to a .pdf file that gives more detail)
You can find a link to the sermon given by Mr. Luker here:
UCG Current Crisis blog - contains some posts by Mr. Walker explaining his side:
The Shining Light blog - posts below give information and opinion about events in UCG:
It is easy to get bogged down in the details of the accusations, defenses against accusations, and counter-accusations that fly around.
It is not a surprise that there is a split, but what has caught me a little by surprise is how fast it is happening.
It still has not been made apparent what the core issues that divide the two camps in UCG are. It cannot just be personalities and positions. I do not believe that the ministry in UCG would be so carnal as to be split like this without some substantive issues at stake, even if those issues are not visibly on the table for the general membership yet.
There have been some hints, but I won't comment till I find something more substantial.
I have listened carefully to Mr. Luker's sermon. Towards the end he talks a little bit about UCG's efforts to preach the truth to the public, and he seems very enthusiastic. Assuming his zeal is real, I appreciate it. As I point out in my book, Preaching the Gospel, there is a tremendous need for the Church to get a warning message to our nations before the tribulation begins, and I rejoice whenever any Church of God group makes the effort to do that.
To be successful, the TV program and literature must be strong and hard-hitting, must "cry aloud" and must tell the people of this country their sins, and must warn them of the punishment that is coming if we do not repent as a nation. To do this, it must teach the viewers our identity as part of the children of Israel and how Bible prophecy shows that the great tribulation will come primarily on the English-speaking nations in the lifetimes of most people alive today. We must not pull our punches and try to preach a soft message, something smooth, that will be agreeable to most viewers. If we do that, our message will be useless as a warning.
Moreover, to be successful, there must be consistency between what we preach and what we practice. We need to practice what we preach so that God will bless our efforts. We must practice what we preach so viewers will find our message credible and our practices will not be a stumbling block for our message. Part of the message must include the good news of the soon-coming return of Jesus Christ to replace all the man-devised governments of this world with God's government over all the earth. But how can we say that it is "good news" that the various forms of man's government on the earth will be abolished, including the democracies of this world, if we hold to one of those forms of government in the Church?
After Christ returns, elections and voting will be abolished. Why should UCG practice a form of government that will be abolished by Christ, and then tell the world it will be "good news" when Christ abolishes that form of government?
Much of the sermon is a defense of UCG's system of governance, but not much is from the Bible. I will have more to say about that in future posts.
Mr. Luker in his sermon implied that he is prepared to take strong action against ministers who will not accept the form of governance as it stands right now and accept the authority of the present Council of Elders and work with him and the Council to bring unity in the Church, and suggested a peaceful separation for those who cannot do that.
The separation of Mr. Leon Walker from the authority of UCG headquarters may be only the beginning of the leaving of many other ministers before next Passover.
More to follow...
Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:
God's 7,000 Year Plan -- Are We in the Last Days?, Chapter 1
The Feast of Tabernacles - the Millennial Rule of Christ, Chapter 2
The Ezekiel Warning, Chapter 3
Why the Gospel Must Still Be Preached to the World, Chapter 4
Practicing What We Preach, Chapter 6