Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who Rules UCG?

Who is in charge of United Church of God, the COE or the GCE?

I asked this question in the opinion poll in the upper right-hand corner of this blog. Which is the highest human authority in UCG, the Council of Elders or the General Conference of Elders?

John Carmack asked a question in a comment about whether I am asking who should be in charge or who actually is in charge. Most readers can answer the poll either way, but I can only answer about who really is in charge, that is, who actually has the power. I cannot answer who SHOULD have the power and authority because, since I do not believe in governance by voting, I cannot honestly say that I think either the COE or the GCE "should" be in charge.

So who is in charge and has the actual power as granted by the articles of incorporation, the bylaws, and any other legal documents that govern how authority in UCG works?

I think the Council of Elders (COE) is in charge. It rules over the GCE. The COE is the highest authority in UCG.


The COE is more powerful.

Why is the COE more powerful?

It can act more quickly. In a power struggle between the COE and the GCE, the COE will win, provided the COE members are quick enough and ruthless enough to do what they need to do to win. The COE can run rings around the GCE when it wants to in order to hold control of UCG.

Why is the COE quicker?

Mainly, it is quicker because it is smaller. And the COE can change and shape the GCE faster than the GCE can change the COE.

The GCE can change the composition of the COE in the next election. But before that, the COE will change the composition of the GCE to shape the results of that election. It is already happening. The COE can remove members of the GCE it doesn't want by dismissing them from the ministry and revoking their ministerial credentials so they can't vote. The COE can also add new members to the GCE it wants by approving ordinations to the ministry. It can do that now, and does not have to wait till the next election. It is doing it already. The fight will be over before May, I think.

This sounds cynical, but that is the power the ministry gave to the COE when UCG was organized more than 15 years ago. Now the COE is using that power. And by including the process by which the Council members can be installed or removed by the vote of the GCE, the ministry has built the conflict of a struggle for power and control into the governance structure of the Church. They didn't do that intentionally, but that is the result nevertheless.

Democracy in action.

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


MTCOGSM said...

ooGreetings to you.
I noticed in your poll, the majority think that the GCE has more authority--Their constitution and their rules of association indicate that is the way it is supposed to be--however it is abundantly clear that the COE and the president presents itself as being in "charge" which proves one thing to me.
They have abandoned their own rules in order to favor themselves as the ruling body.
Christ said a house divided cannot stand and it is obvious that is what is happening in UCG. Those who have recognized this are getting out.

The Editor said...

Here are the final results of the opinion poll I ran from December 15 for seven days:

The question was, "Which is the highest human authority in United Church of God?" The two choices were "Council of Elders (CEO)" and "General Conference of Elders (GCE) - whole ministry".

There were 57 responses.

18 (about 31 %) said the Council of Elders (COE) and 39 (about 68 %) said the General Conference of Elders (GCE) - the whole ministry.