United Church of God has eliminated the existing Regional Pastor structure, replacing ten regional pastors with a Ministerial Services team consisting of Roy Holladay, Victor Kubik, and Gary Antion, according to UCG Current Crisis blog.
This is presented as a cost-saving measure, but it can have other consequences as well.
Here are links to those reports:
I have said for a long time that there is an inherent conflict of interest when you have those in authority voted into office by those under them in authority, especially when those in authority are able to remove the voting credentials of those under them. The system automatically becomes unstable as those in power seek to increase or retain power by eliminating those who they think are likely to vote against them in the next election, and as they use their power to intimidate into silence those who might discuss among themselves any information unfavorable to those in power. Rather than a balance of views and interests, such a system will tend to oscillate between extremes.
By firing Mr. Leon Walker and many Latin American ministers, the majority of the current Council have effectively removed their opposition votes from the system. That will tend to help the majority on the Council remain in power and increase their power in the next election.
But that may not be enough. There must be a number of independent voting ministers who can swing to either side of this division, and many of them may have been alienated from the current Council majority by their heavy-handedness and harshness in getting rid of Mr. Walker and much of the Latin American ministry. To many ministers, and members, firing Mr. Walker because he declined to cancel a trip he felt was vitally needed to address problems hurting some of his members or ministers, when he had already met once with the representatives of the Council and was willing to meet again after his trip, was not a good reason for firing him, but a technical excuse. The division within UCG has increased dramatically since the current Council took office, and more ministers may be inclined to vote for a change.
So the majority on the Council may not feel secure for the next election if things remain as they are.
If this is just a legitimate cost-saving measure, then this may be all there is to it. But otherwise, there could be a host of measures put into effect designed to put pressure on opposition ministers to quit or refuse to obey orders giving cause for firing them. These measures could include transfers, reduction in employment (which can be serve as a cost cutting measure as well), and consolidations. For example, if you have two employed pastors in neighboring cities, you can terminate the employment of one and make the other the pastor of the congregations of both cities. The one who is fired still needs an income, so he either gives up serving his members full time and seeks outside employment, or his leaves UCG to continue as full-time pastor of his flock, thus removing himself from the roles of voting UCG ministers. It can be the Leon Walker situation, but replicated in local areas all over the world. If the new Ministerial Services team manages this scenario skillfully to remove opposition voting ministers, the majority on the Council can protect and advance their interests and agenda in the next election.
I do not say this will happen. But to the extent that men behave carnally, it CAN happen. There is a motive built into the system to encourage this to happen, and that motive is created by ballot-box governance in the Church of God. Whether the Council majority can resist this temptation will be seen.
It is ironic. When ministers in UCG say, we created the system of governance we have today because we made a decision fifteen years ago that we did not want the kind of "one man rule" that led to such bad results before, I had assumed that they were only talking about the changes in doctrine Joseph Tkach made. But I am realizing now that many ministers HATED Herbert W. Armstrong's rule, especially his policy of transfers of ministers every five to eight years. So they chose ballot-box governance thinking that would prevent that. Now, many of the same ministers that created that system may become victims of it, as headquarters orders them to transfer to other cities far away, and fires them if they refuse, using the same reason (or excuse) used to fire Leon Walker (disobedience to orders).
More to come...
Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:
A Brief History of the Scattering of the Church, Chapter 5
The Cause of the Church's Scattered Condition, and the Solution, Chapter 5
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