Events in United Church of God have entered a new phase. There are changes being reported in the membership of the 12-man Council of Elders even as the Council is conducting business meetings from Monday through Thursday this week.
In the last post, I have published a list of names of a number of UCG ministers who have signed documents out of concern about actions of the COE, and I will try to keep that list up-to-date with news about particular ministers. Since I published that post, a number of events in UCG have been reported, which I will list here in time order.
As reported in the Shining Light blog, Mr. Melvin Rhodes sent out a letter announcing that Paul Carter, Pablo Dimakis, Ken Giese, Eduardo Hernandez, and Jon Pinelli have resigned from the General Conference of Elders. The same letter announced the names of several Latin American ministers whose membership in the GCE was revoked. Here is a link:
The Shining Light blog also reported that Ron Kelley was dismissed from the ministry of UCG. Link:
Mr. Melvin Rhodes sent a letter to the UCG ministry stating that the petition for a resolution to the General Conference of Elders is legally flawed and contrary to UCG's governing documents and should be withdrawn. James Malm has published the text of the letter and his commentary. Link to text of letter alone in Shining Light blog:
Link to text of letter with James Malm's commentary:
UCG Current Crisis blog published an updated list of UCG ministers and employees who have been removed from their positions in the last year. Notable in this list is the recent resignation of four members of 12-man Council of Elders: David Treybig, Michael Blackwell, David Baker, and Jim Franks. Neil Hart resigned from UCG ministry. Link:
The Shining Light blog has also reported the resignation of Jim Franks from the COE, and in the same post publishes excerpts from a letter from David Treybig to his congregation. I think Mr. Treybig wrote this letter before resigning from the COE. James Malm also reports that the Council plans to approve a number of ministerial ordinations during the Monday through Thursday meetings, and James also points out that by declaring the petition to the GCE to be legally flawed and asking that it be withdrawn, the Council has set the stage for accusing its supporters and signers of rebellion and using that as a reason to fire them. Here is a link to that post:
In another Shining Light post, James Malm reports on the Neil Hart resignation, and publishes a letter from Dave DeHart, Glenn Doig, Mike Machin, and Frank Pierce, sponsors of the Petition for Resolution to the GCE, to Mr. Rhodes indicating they will not withdraw the petition, and why. Link:
Both UCG Current Crisis blog and COGwriter blog report that Victor Kubik is now a member of the Council of Elders and that David Treybig, Michael Blackwell, and David Baker have resigned from the COE. Link to UCG Current Crisis post:
Link to COGwriter post:
John Carmack published a letter from Dr. Don Ward in his COG Perspective blog about why he feels an Acts 15 type conference may be successful. He is replying to a blogger who has criticized the idea in a Facebook blog. Here is the link:
UCG Current Crisis blog lists ten current members of the new Council of Elders as Scott Ashley, Bob Berendt, Aaron Dean, William Eddington, Roy Holladay, Victor Kubik, Darris McNeely, Melvin Rhodes (chairman), Mario Seiglie and Robin Webber. Here is a link to that post:
Inside United Realtime blog also announced the changes in the membership of the Council of Elders, announcing the resignation of the four members mentioned and explaining how Roy Holladay and Victor Kubik became members. There are now ten members of the Council, which the Council says is sufficient to do business, and they will function with those ten members. Here is a link to that post:
Those who are sometimes called "conservatives" have resigned from the 12-man ruling Council of Elders and been replaced by those who have been in agreement with the Council majority. This suggests that the conservative ministers may NOT be trying to regain control of UCG by reforming it from the inside, as I previously thought when the petition was circulated for an investigation into the actions of the Council and the administration. Rather, the investigation that the petition proposes may be for the purpose of helping the brethren understand why the split is occurring and why it is necessary for the conservatives to leave and form a new group (or several groups).
This has been a problem for ministers leaving UCG. When ministers left Worldwide when doctrinal changes were being made, it was easy for brethren to understand that ministers were leaving because they could not support the changes. But the core issues that are driving this UCG split have never come to the surface in a way that is clear and definite. The Sabbath issue hints at doctrinal liberalization, but there is no real smoking gun. Ministers leaving UCG want to be able to show their congregations a reason why they must leave. An investigation into the actions of the Council might show the brethren what the conservative ministers already know. If so, it would make it easier to explain to the membership of each pastor's congregation why he is leaving United Church of God. If the brethren do not understand, they will be less likely to follow their pastor out of UCG.
So this might not be a battle any longer for control of UCG. It may now be a battle for the membership. When UCG ministers leave UCG, how many brethren will go with them and how many will stay with UCG?
Also, the Council of Elders (I no longer have to call them the Council "majority" - the whole Council is on the same side now) has two tools to make sure they have the votes they need in the General Conference of Elders. By declaring the petition for an investigation legally flawed and calling for the withdrawal of that petition, they can accuse any minister sponsoring, supporting, or signing it of rebellion and use that as an excuse to remove him from the ministry, thus eliminating his vote against the Council members. But a second tool is that of ordination - the Council can approve a number of ordinations of men they know will support them, thus adding them to the votes that will go in their favor.
This means that a total split is coming soon, probably before Passover.
So far I have not found any letters published on the Internet from the resigning members of the Council of Elders explaining WHY they resigned from the Council of Elders, but I expect that such letters will come soon. When they do, they may shed more light on the entire division within UCG.
The pace of events has picked up.
More to come...
Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:
A Brief History of the Scattering of the Church, 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