Who is in charge of UCG, the Council of Elders (COE) or the General Conference of Elders (GCE)? Which of these two bodies is the highest authority?
You can find statements made by UCG ministers and writers both ways. Some have said that the Council is the highest authority and some have said that the General Conference of Elders, the whole ministry, is the highest authority.
Which is it?
One could make a case either way.
You could say that the Council is the highest authority and rules over the general ministry. It is the Council that chooses who will be members of the GCE by approving ordinations. It is the Council that can remove ministers from the GCE by revoking their ministerial credentials. Therefore the Council decides who will be in the GCE and who will not. Moreover, the Council appoints the administration, and the administration supervises the ministers and can order them to transfer.
The power and authority of the COE over the GCE is illustrated in the diagram below.
On the other hand, you could say that the GCE, the collective ministry, has authority over and rules the Council. It is the GCE that has the authority to elect members on the Council by balloting them into office or to remove them by balloting them out of office. It is the GCE that has the final say in approving or disapproving measures that must come up for ballot (such as the move to Dallas), and the GCE also has the authority to put issues up for ballot.
The power and authority of the GCE over the COE is illustrated in the diagram below.
You may vote your opinion in the poll in the upper right-hand corner of this blog.
In a future post I will give my opinion on which of these two bodies is in charge.
The struggle between two bodies, each claiming authority over the other, is an important part of the split that is occurring in United Church of God.
In the near future there is likely to be more dismissals of ministers by the Council as well as approvals by the Council of ordinations to add new ministers to the GCE. The make up of the GCE is thus being changed by the Council.
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