Here is some assorted news about UCG events.
UCG pastor Ken Giese has resigned from employment with United Church of God according to a post in the UCG Current Crisis blog. My understanding, based on my reading of this post, is that Dennis Luker and Victor Kubik told Mr. Giese they wanted to transfer him out of his area (Reno and Sacramento) because some members in his congregations did not feel he was sufficiently supportive of the Council of Elders. After consideration, Mr. Giese resigned from his position of employment with UCG. Two letters of his are in the post. A link to the post is below:
This may be an example of a pattern of behavior by the UCG Council majority that they could use to force out those ministers who do not agree with them on doctrinal issues or any other issues, as I said in an earlier post. They could do this for two possible reasons. One, to ensure their re-election in the next election by the General Conference of Elders, they may want to force out as many pastors and ministers as they can who they perceive as likely to vote against them. Two, if they want to change doctrine, they could do this to force out voting ministers who are unlikely to agree with the changes in an effort to build a 3/4 majority needed to approve doctrinal changes.
In either case, the pattern can be, identify pastors likely to vote against the interests of the Council majority, and put pressure on them to resign by requiring that they teach something they don't believe, by forcing them to transfer, or any other means. Those pastors can resign or they can disobey commands to teach what they do not believe or orders to transfer, thus giving the Council cause to fire them. Once a pastor is removed from employment and his position as a pastor, if he then serves the spiritual needs of members in his area by pastoring them in his home or other meeting place or if he collects tithes and offerings from those members, he can be expelled from UCG or his ministerial credentials revoked, and he can no longer vote against the Council majority. That has been the general pattern the Council majority has seemed to use to get rid of opposition voters in the persons of Ken Giese, Larry Salyer, and Leon Walker, not to mention many ministers who report to and support those men such as many of the Latin American ministers.
As far as I know, Ken Giese has only resigned from employment, not from UCG or the ministry, and is still credentialed as a minister who can ballot in UCG elections. But how long can that last? Some members of his congregations are bound to come to him for pastoring. Is he going to refuse them? How can he refuse without abandoning Christ's sheep (John 10:12-13, 21:15-17)? He has an obligation to Christ to feed and protect them. He also needs an income, and those members will be offering him tithes and offerings. Is he going to refuse, knowing that the Bible teaches that a minister is to earn his living from his work as a minister (1 Corinthians 9:14)? Is he going to refuse, knowing that if he refuses tithes and offerings he will have to get a worldly job and will not have time to tend to his flock as he needs to? I think not. And when he pastors those in his area who come to him and accepts their tithes, the UCG Council majority can accuse him of causing division and revoke his ministerial credentials, in effect, banning him from voting against them.
So the UCG Council majority has an effective tool to keep themselves in office and to make any changes they want, including doctrinal changes. It is just a matter of them moving strongly enough and fast enough before the next election. Because I think it is a pretty sure bet that their heavy handed approach has alienated many moderate ministers who would not have voted against them before, but now will.
This is the fruit, and the conflict of interest, with ballot-box governance. And I think this is one reason God has not put instructions in the Bible for the Church to use voting to appoint leaders in the Church of God.
Again the question will come up for Ken Giese as well as Larry Salyer and others. Will they set up a new organization also based on ballot-box governance? Time will tell.
Robert Thiel in the COGwriter blog has reported on UCG finances in the fiscal year ending June 30. Income is down 3.5% over last year. This is not a great drop considering the turmoil in UCG. However, this is for an entire year ending about four months ago, and the UCG internal conflict had not reached the high level it is at now during most of that time. Most UCG tithe-payers may not have known much about the internal divisions until just a few months ago. It is possible, even likely, that income during the last few months is down much more than that. Here is a link to that post:
Dennis Luker has published a new letter to the brethren dated November 4, 2010. The letter is basically a warning to members about ministers Mr. Luker says are practicing rebellion (the letter speaks of those ministers in a general sense, not mentioning names).
If you read the letter, you might notice the part where Mr. Luker says that rebellious ministers use dissident websites to air their views and that these sites often block and refuse to publish factual information in favor of UCG. Probably he is not referring to my site (my site is very small compared with many others), but just for the record, I have not refused to publish comments presenting factual information favorable to UCG. The vast majority of the comments submitted to this blog I have published. Occasionally I refuse a comment if it is totally off-topic, spam, rude or disrespectful, or for other good reason. But not just because it advocates a view I do not agree with. Yet in the same UCG blog that Mr. Luker writes in, I have submitted a comment, written respectfully but asking a question and challenging an assumption, and that comment was refused.
Mr. Luker also suggests several official UCG sites where UCG members can get information, and he lists links to those sites.
Here is a link to Mr. Luker's letter:
I can understand the desire of some UCG members to go outside of official UCG websites to try to get information about what has been happening. UCG communications have not been exactly even-handed. For example, in one of their communications, they published a letter by Larry Roybal I think that he had apologized for, yet they never mentioned the apology. Yet earlier they accused Leon Walker of being one-sided in his communication with his pastors about issues they were going to vote on.
It would be nice if UCG were a little more open. For example, Living Church of God usually notifies members and the world if its income is up or down each month and by how much. But I know of no UCG channel of communications that you can go to in order to learn how income is doing for July, August, September, or October. I also am still waiting for solid evidence about what is at the heart and core of this war within UCG. My guess is, it is doctrine. But I can't know, and the silence of Dennis Luker, Melvin Rhodes, Roy Holladay, Victor Kubik, and the majority of the Council of Elders about this does not help. They have denied that this is about doctrine, but they have not said what it is about. If not doctrine, then what?
It will come out eventually.
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