Ballot-box governance was chosen by ministers organizing UCG, in part, to safeguard the doctrines of the Church, to prevent one man in the organization from having the authority to change doctrine against the wishes of the majority of the membership and minister.
But governance by voting does not stop an organization from turning away from true doctrine. All it does is slow the process down.
Bob Thiel reported in his COGwriter blog several weeks ago the recent position of the Church of God (Seventh Day) on working on the Sabbath. That Church, in its September-October 2010 Bible Advocate magazine, stated that a deacon is not sinning if he works Friday nights on the Sabbath because he has to do it to support his family. Here is a link to that post:
I mention this because Church of God (Seventh Day) is also a Church of God governed by the voting of those under authority to select those over them in authority, and that has not stopped that church from watering down the Sabbath. In their case, the voting is done by the membership, not elders.
Mr. Armstrong resigned his employment with that Church in order to work for God directly after a vote was taken in that church that would have required him to go contrary to the teaching of the Bible, as related in the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume I.
The Church of God (Seventh Day) is absolutely wrong to say that a member can work on Friday nights to support His family. It is no more lawful to break the fourth commandment to support your family than it is to break the eight commandment, to steal to support your family (Exodus 20:8-11, 15, James 2:10-11). Rather, we are to trust God's promises to provide our needs if we put His kingdom and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:31-33). To do otherwise is the sin of unbelief (Hebrews 3:17-19). Lack of faith to trust God is sin, because sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4) and faith is one of the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23).
How could the Council majority change doctrine on the Sabbath? There are two ways. One, they could liberalize the details and policies concerning what is taught about Sabbath observance and say it is not really a doctrinal change, just a "clarification". Two, they can work to build a 3/4 voting majority of the elders by firing or pressuring to quit those ministers who do not agree with the change. James Malm has pointed both of these out in various posts in his Shining Light blog (link below). The Council majority can combine both of these methods by issuing an unbiblical "clarification" or policy on Sabbath observance, then firing any minister who refuses to teach the new policy.
Ballot-box governance will not stop doctrinal change, whether that be watering down the Sabbath or any other doctrinal change, whether the voting be done by ministers or members. It has not stopped doctrinal change in the Church of God (Seventh Day) and it will not stop doctrinal change in United Church of God.
More to come...
Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:
Government in the Church, Chapter 5
Following the Bible -- Pattern of Government, Chapter 6
Church Government, Chapter 7
How Is the Church Organized?, Chapter 7
The Weekly Sabbath Day, Chapter 2