Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Now It's YOUR Chance to Vote

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


Anonymous said...

Regarding the poll "Which is the highest human authority in United Church of God?": technically, I'd say the GCE, but in a practical day-to-day sense I'd say the COE . The COE can take action with much greater speed and specificity. Granted, it's not the case for all decisions and situations. The GCE would have more of a chance to change decisions that take a long time to implement (i.e. the move to Texas) versus changing the ousting of a long list of elders in the immediate future.

John D Carmack said...

Maybe I'm being dense, but I don't understand the question. There is a way it is supposed to be, and then there is the reality of what is. It seems to me that most of the problem stems from these not being the same.

So, which is the vote for? How it is supposed to work, or how it really is? said...

If you think that the way it should be is different than the way it is, I guess the best thing is to explain in your comment why there is the difference, and why who SHOULD have the power does not actually have the power. Should not those who should be in charge actually have the power to be in charge? And if that is not the case, why isn't it, and what is the solution?

I don't have the option of answering the question either according to who should have the authority vs. who actually has the power because, as you know, I do not agree with the form of governance UCG has, so I cannot say that either the Council or the whole ministry "should" have the authority because I think neither should. So when I answer the question for myself, I have to answer based on who actually has the power. But you can answer based on who you think should have the power if you like.

John D Carmack said...

The intent was that it was supposed to be an upside down pyramid. The GCE elect officials to carry out the official functions of overseeing doctrine and any policies regarding preaching the Gospel and feeding the flock. In turn, they select men to carry out the administration related to those functions. If you want, the COE would be the legislative branch and the administration would be the executive branch.

However, in any form of government, there is always the potential for a power grab. We see this in worldly governments all the time. It is the stuff that coups are made of.

In essence, the COE has taken the position that they are in charge, which is not true. Yes, they were given the responsibility to handle certain resources and carry out certain duties, but the charge of ethics violations almost always points back to the COE doing what they want to do rather than consult their real physical boss, the GCE.

That's why petitions are ignored instead of becoming resolutions. Luker was right when he said it was about power and control, but he misses the point that the COE works for the GCE, not the other way around.

John D Carmack said...

BTW, all you have to do is go back to notes taken in Indianapolis in 1995 to see how this developed, whether you agree with it or not.