Friday, December 31, 2010

New X-UCG Churches Being Organized

This post will be periodically updated to keep the list of X-UCG Church of God organizations current. Last updated 2/4/11.

The UCG split has entered a phase where many of those who are leaving UCG have already left and are now in the process of getting organized into new Churches of God (or one new Church of God).

Before getting to that, I want to announce that I have set up two new websites.

Church of God Blogs is a listing of a variety of blogs published by members of various Churches of God that have come out of the old Worldwide Church of God and still retain most of Herbert W. Armstrong's teachings. The site is small, listing only about 11 blogs, but I hope to expand it. It is my hope that this can be a convenient place for Church of God members wanting news about events in the Churches of God, or just online fellowship, can find and link to blogs.

Church of God Doctrines is a list of most of Mr. Armstrong's teachings, and for each doctrine, there is a list of scriptures that relate to that doctrine, but without comment or explanation. The idea is that if you want to research a doctrine, you can look up the scriptures and see for yourself what the Bible says, and draw your own conclusions. Comments can be entered, and I hope to expand the list of scriptures for each doctrine. Also, I have included seemingly "contrary" or difficult scriptures so the reader can learn how to answer those and do an unbiased study of any doctrine, as much as possible. We should let the Bible speak for itself and not have the kind of bias in our Bible study that so many in the world have, only looking for scriptures that support what we already believe.

I have consistently taught that our faith for believing our doctrines must be in God and His word, the Bible, rather than in the ministry or in our traditions. This is what I teach in my online book Preaching the Gospel and in this blog. For that to be the case, we need to prove doctrine from the Bible. We should know why we believe what we believe, and our reasons should come from scripture.

This new blog about doctrines and the scriptures that support them primarily focuses on the doctrines taught by the Worldwide Church of God when Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was alive. Most of these doctrines are also taught by various Churches of God that have come out of Worldwide since Mr. Armstrong's death in January 1986.

Links to both of those sites are in the right-hand sidebar column of this blog.

There have been many more resignations of ministers from UCG, and many or most of them will be meeting in the next several days to make plans. Apparently there is an effort to organize as one large group rather than a collection of small fellowships. This is what many of these same ministers had done fifteen years in Indianapolis to organize United Church of God. There will probably be at least one large group, but I am sure not everyone leaving UCG will be a part of it. There is bound to be a few smaller independent groups also.

Church of God - America website has disappeared. That "organization", if you could call it that, was not much more than a website, and now even the website is gone. This does not inspire confidence in those who might consider contributing to International Ambassador Outreach (IAO), which was closely associated with COGA. There are other potential problems with IAO. Probably the biggest one is the ambiguity of who controls it and where the money goes. Originally it was set up to support the Latin American ministry and the poor in that area, and I am sure many have contributed to it intending to help the poor. But now funds can go to pay living expenses of ministers in the United States, some of which may be following different policies and doctrines than a contributor might want to support. It all seems too chancy.
UPDATE: According to Church of God, a Worldwide Association, this was intended to be temporary from the beginning, and is now replaced by COGWA.

I am going to keep a list in this particular post of X-UCG Church of God organizations as they form, and websites as available, just as I am maintaining a list of ministers in my post on "Where UCG Ministers Stand". So far I have:

Church of God - America - dissolved. This was a temporary organization, to be replaced by Church of God, a Worldwide Association. It listed as associated organizations: Church of God - South Texas, Church of God - Canada, Church of God - Latin America, Church of God - Louisiana, and International Ambassador Outreach. It was intended to be a focus for those concerned about events in UCG. See COGWA Frequently Asked Questions page for an explanation about this, link here:

Church of God - West Palm Beach. According to Shining Light blog, participants include James Cannon, Dan Carriero, Robin Nicholls, David Jenkins, Debra Jenkins, and Michael Moore. Link to Shining Light post:

Church of God - South Texas - Jack Hendren. Website:

Church of God - Canada - Graemme Marshall. I do not know if this is incorporated, but it was a listing in the "Relationships" page of the old Church of God - America website.

Church of God - Latin America - Leon Walker. Spanish language website:

Church of God - Louisiana - Larry Salyer. I do not know if this is incorporated, but it was a listing in the "Relationships" page of the old Church of God - America website.

International Ambassador Outreach. The "Directors" page in their website lists the following: Matthew R. Gus, Chairman; Cliff Demarest, Director; Arnold Cisco Mendez, Sr., Director; Robert L. Paine, II, Director; Larry Salyer, Director: Advisory Board; Ken Geise, Director: Advisory Board; Leon Walker, Latin America Advisor.

Church of God, a Worldwide Association. Temporary board of directors includes Michael Hanisko, Ken Giese, Greg Sargent, Roger West, and George Evans. A temporary leadership team includes Jim Franks, Doug Horchak, Clyde Kilough, David Register, Richard Thompson. This group is hosting a conference in Louisville, KY January 9 through 11 to make more permanent arrangements. The website has news, a list of congregations and contact ministers with phone numbers, a blog, and sermons. Website:

COGWA mailing address is in Orlando, Florida.

Here is some information from the COGWA News page

January 10, 2011:
Summary: 60 papers with suggestions on governance were received from members and ministers. Two proposals for governance were voted on by ministers gathered in Louisville for the January 9-11 conference, one, to have all ministers submit 5 names and the top 14 names would be tallied, then 7 would be randomly drawn from a box to form the interim governance team. Two, the existing temporary leadership team would continue as the interim leadership. The second proposal was approved by a vote of 84 to 37. A commitment was made to the 20 fundamental beliefs approved in 1995. Preaching the gospel to the public will rely heavily on the Internet, and there will also be printed literature. Local congregations are encouraged to have local bank accounts, and members may contribute their tithes and offerings locally or to the central organization, although the latter is encouraged. Old UCG policies are in force unless changed.

January 11, 2011:
Ministers gathered in Louisville, Kentucky January 9 through 11 voted 78 out of 118 votes cast to retain "Church of God, a Worldwide Association" as the name of the Church out of a list of five possible names. They are considering about 4-6 Feast sites in the United States. Literature production will start with first-contact literature, which will be put up on the Internet.

January 14, 2011:
Interim Governance Team is made up of Jim Franks, Doug Horchak, Clyde Kilough, David Register, and Richard Thompson. Board of Directors is made up of George Evans, Ken Giese, Mike Hanisko, Greg Sargent, Roger West. Mike Hanisko is board chairman. Clyde Kilough is president.

Jim Franks will supervise pastors and congregations. Richard Thompson will manage finances and the Feast. Doug Horchak will supervise international areas. David Register will handle communications and youth camps. Clyde Kilough will manage preaching the gospel to the public.

There is a member letter dated January 20, 2011 in the members page that goes into detail about guidelines and instructions for local congregations in the handling of finances and contributions. Link:

I will update this list with ministers, websites, and new churches as the situation develops.

There have been a number of resignations. According to Shining Light blog, the following ministers have resigned or been removed from the ministry (or fired) in this past week:

Jeff Caudle
Art Verschoor
Andre van Belkum
Paul Suckling
Ed Jacobs
John Lusk
Harold Rhodes
Melton McNeely
Ed Oliver
Don Thomas
Dempsey B. Bruton III
Martin Cole
Leroy Neff
Ken Treybig
Dan Anderson
Dave Baker
Bill Jahns
Alan Pachinger
Gary McConnaughey
Jack Willoughby
Ed Oliver
Fred Davidson
Mark Hampton
Jim McTiernan
David Treybig
Glenn O. Harmon
Flavious Adkins
Don Henson
Tom Diaz
Donald Erickson
King Finley
Steve Ferenchiak
Alonzo Gjesvold
Todd Carey
James W. Hudson
Michael Machin
Tom Kirkpatrick
Mark Winner
Alton Head
Greg Swartz
Lyle Welty
Mike Blackwell
Thomas Seltzer
Britt Taylor
John Pentlin
Joel Meeker
David Smith
Don Shaw
John Foster
Dick King
David Jackson
Alton Head
Don Waterhouse
Larry Greider
Kingsley Mather
Bob Peoples


UPDATES 1/7/11:

I have added details about a number of organizations forming from those leaving UCG, including names of ministers or directors associated with those groups. Church of God - America is dissolved, to be replaced by Church of God, a Worldwide Association. I have added that organization to my list, and I have also listed websites for each group when available.

UPDATES 2/4/11:

I have added more information about COGWA from their website.

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

Friday, December 24, 2010

Should We Trust God's Ministers?

The Bible teaches that we should put our trust in God, not men.

"Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help" (Psalm 146:3).

"Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:5). Rather, we are to trust God (verse 7).

Ministers are men, and we are to put our trust in God, not men, not even ministers. But we are to respect ministers and respect the offices they hold (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Philippians 2:29-30, Hebrews 13:17).

Nowhere are we instructed or commanded to "TRUST" any men, even God's ministers.

Trust comes in degrees. There is a kind of limited trust that we can give to other people. I trust that when I give the cashier at a store a $20 bill to pay for a $2.24 purchase, she will give me $17.76 in change, not $2.76 claiming I only gave her a five dollar bill so she can pocket the difference. Yet I know there is a chance that can happen. (In fact, something similar did happen to me at a fast food restaurant years ago.) If I know someone well, such as a family member, friend, co-worker, or Church member, I can trust that person more (or less) than a stranger. But I always know that a human being, any human being, can make mistakes or sin, sometimes in surprising ways.

I am reminded of this after reading a post by John Carmack in COG Perspective blog, then reading a post by John Elliot in the blog for his UCG congregation.

Here is a post from John Carmack:

Here is the post from John Elliot in a UCG congregational site:

Mr. Elliot warns his readers that any members of his congregation who spread "concerns" that Mr. Elliot regards as misinformation will be told to stay home until they "work through their distrust of Church leadership". In other words, he is teaching his members that they should trust the ministry at UCG headquarters.

This statement by John Elliot comes across to me as a declaration of war against members of his congregation who obey God's word to put their trust in God, not men. It is not that he is wrong to teach his members to show respect to the office of the ministry by not harshly criticizing the ministers in the church they attend. But it is the reason he gives. He wants them to TRUST the leadership. That is wrong, according to the Bible. That kind of trust we should give only to God.

I would imagine some members of Mr. Elliot's congregation will face a conscience problem attending his congregation, especially if they feel they are hearing the voice of a stranger coming between them and God, not the voice of Christ (John 10:1-5).

Ministers are human. They make mistakes. Some of them sin. We are to respect them, to respect the office they hold, to obey them when such obedience does not come into conflict with God's law, but we are not to put our trust and faith in them. Trust and faith should be given to God alone.

More to come...

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Our Attitude and Approach Towards God's Word, Chapter 1

How to Understand the Bible, Chapter 1

Focusing on the Bible, Chapter 5

Practicing What We Preach, Chapter 6

Changing Doctrine, Chapter 6

A Lesson from the Autobiography, Chapter 6

The Source of Our Beliefs, Chapter 6

Faith, Chapter 6

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

Resignations, New Churches, and UCG Letter

Resignations from UCG continue. Among them are Roger West, Roy Demarest, Clyde Kilough, Doug Horchak, Andy Burnett, Neil Hart, Arnold Burns, Jim Franks, Bruce Gore, Larry Lambert, Cecil Maranville, Richard Thompson, David Register, Paul Luecke, David Charles McCarble, Frank Robert Pierce, Bob Mitchell, Steve Villaescusa, John Richard Seiver, Jim Servidio, Jim Springer and Phillip Sandilands, according to posts in the Shining Light blog. Here are links to those posts:

Church of God Perspective blog also reports some of these resignations, link:

These are major names and they show that the split in UCG is major and definite.

There are also new Churches of God forming.

The Church of God-West Palm Beach has started, and includes as officers or directors James Cannon, Dan Carriero, Robin Nicholls, David Jenkins, Debra Jenkins, and Michael Moore, according to Shining Light blog. Link:

Shining Light blog also has published information and letters about a split in the Orlando Church of God. Link:

Other new Churches of God forming by those leaving UCG include Church of God, a Worldwide Association, as reported by UCG Current Crisis blog, link:

It appears that UCG ministers are not leaving UCG in a united way as they left Worldwide in 1995. There will not be one organization, but many.

One thing I have not seen yet is any news of a pastor leaving UCG going directly into another large, existing organization, such as Living Church of God. But it may be easier for some pastors to function independently of a large group during a transitional period, and then join with a different group later.

UCG Current Crisis blog has reported that Joel Meeker has declined a seat on the Council of Elders, and gives a link to a letter from Mr. Meeker in .pdf format. Link to UCG Current Crisis post:
Link to letter from Joel Meeker:

In this letter, Mr. Meeker points out that he has signed a Council Code of Ethics agreement in 1998 in which he agrees to uphold decisions made by the majority of the Council if he is a member. He now cannot, in good conscience, be a member of the Council knowing he cannot uphold decisions he knows are wrong and contrary to God's law. If he becomes a member, he is stuck between two unacceptable things: support the Council majority decisions thus breaking God's law, or not support them thus violating his signed agreement.

I think this shows the unwisdom of signing agreements to support the decisions of men. At baptism, we vowed to obey God and the Bible. We should not sign agreements that can bring us into conflict with that vow. That is a trap.

If it has been a requirement for Council members to sign such an agreement, then every Council member has been compromised I think if they remain on a Council they cannot support.

UCG has published a letter to the ministry and membership of UCG from Mr. Melvin Rhodes and Mr. Dennis Luker. Here is a link to that letter:

In this letter, they say that they believe the current crisis in UCG is nearing its end. I do not know what they have in mind, but I do not think it is near its end.

They state their belief that God lead the formation of UCG as an organization in Indianapolis 15 years ago. I ask, based on what evidence?

Did God lead the ministry to form UCG as an organization lead by the balloting of the all the elders? I do not think so. That would be contrary to the examples of the Bible and contrary to the fruits of where that decision has led.

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Really Is Church of God - America?

First the news.

Shining Light blog has reported that Richard Thompson has resigned from UCG. The same post reports that "Church of God, Orlando, Inc." has been formed, but I have no website for that church yet. Link to that post:

Another Shining Light post reports on the resignations of Clyde Kilough, Roy Demarest, and Roger West, and reports some detail about a new Church of God, "The Church of God-West Palm Beach Incorporated", with Mr. James Cannon as president of the corporation. Other people involved include Dan Carriero treasurer, Robin Nicholls secretary, and David and Debra Jenkins and Michael Moore as directors, according to the post. I know of no website for that church yet. Link to Shining Light post:

Other blogs have also reported the resignations of Roger West, Roy Demarest and Clyde Kilough.
Link to Church of God Perspective post:
Link to COGwriter post:

What, in essence, is Church of God - America?

It is not a church or a corporation, nor does it intend to become one, according to the statements in its website. So what is it?

If you take it at face value, it is basically a voluntary association and a website that expresses the intention of a group of independent pastors to cooperate along certain agreed lines. There is no binding legal authority over the pastors I have found. It is not incorporated, and it pays no salaries to ministers, as far as I know. The group of ministers are basically making a voluntary commitment to each other to help each other and work together along certain lines. You can read the details in their website. There is a shared statement of beliefs for example, and a commitment to a Bible reading program specified in the website. The site provides a common platform for contact information and links to websites for the member pastors. It is a point of communication.

Here is a link to the site:

Here is the email address for the site:

The domain "" was created 11/9/2010. The registrant and administrator of the website is Jasper Hendren in Corpus Christi, Texas. This means he has physical control of the website.

Pastors may receive, and probably do, compensation from International Ambassador Outreach. How much influence that has on the pastors, they know. But they may also receive compensation directly from the members of their congregations. There is nothing I have found in the website that indicates that pastors cannot incorporate locally if they wish, so I assume that member pastors can locally incorporate and collect tithes from their members.

Those are the tangibles. The intangible characteristics of the association depend on the intents, plans, and promises of the ministers who make up the association. They are not visible, and not fully known to everyone at this time.

It can be viewed as an organization, but probably a loosely controlled one. And if it is strongly controlled by someone, such as Mr. Leon Walker, it is only to the extent that member pastors voluntarily follow his lead.

Because it is a voluntary organization, it is also changeable. Like the proverbial glass that is half full or half empty, this can be viewed as good or bad. You can say it is flexible or you can say it is unstable. Where this leads, whether it bears good fruit or bad fruit, really depends on the intent and character of its members and leaders and to the extent they submit to Christ and Christ works through them. It can be a transitional form, one to be replaced with something a little different later. It can also be transitional for pastors and congregations, in that a local pastor may join this association now, then leave it later if the relationship is no longer needed and no longer useful.

Potentially, this might be something similar to an idea I wrote about in my post How the Church Can Be Organized. Or, it might be something else.

But one thing is clear. The pastors that make up this association no longer report or are responsible to UCG's ballot-box governance. I do not say they are not responsible to the balloting of men. Each Church of God led by a pastor can be organized with ballot-box governance, even at the local level. The pastor can organize the collection of congregations he pastors so that the elders elect him, and can remove him, by ballot, if that is how the pastor wants his congregations to be organized. He can even submit to the voting of the membership, as Church of God (Seventh Day) does. Or he can govern them from the top down, reporting directly to Christ.

I think it would be a mistake for any pastor coming out of UCG to organize a system of governance by the balloting of men and to submit to that kind of system. I hope UCG ministers are learning better.

In my book, Preaching the Gospel, I wrote a section on How Is the Church Organized. In that section, I show from scripture and with diagrams how Christ leads the Church three ways: how He leads us to salvation individually, how He leads the family through the husband, and how He leads the administrative, organized work of the Church through the ministry. In that section I show a diagram of how Christ leads the organized work of the Church.

Now, suppose the individual pastors of congregations or groups of congregations associated through COGA do not organize their groups by ballot-box like the system they are leaving but instead practice top-down government, reporting directly to Christ. And suppose they do not allow themselves to be unduly influenced by the wishes of those in IAO who may provide some of their financing, but are only influenced by their desire to do God's will and obey Christ and believe and obey the Bible. If that is the case, then I could modify my diagram from my book to represent this structure, like this:

(Click on image to enlarge)

This is just an example. Only God knows the hearts of all men, if they are serving Him or themselves. God knows who obeys Christ and who does not.

Or, if Mr. Walker is faithful to Christ, and if Christ chooses him to becomes the leader over the other pastors, you might end up with this:

Or, in a worst case situation (in my opinion), if the ministers have learned nothing from their experience in UCG with ballot-box governance, you could have this:

There are many questions not yet answered.

How does International Ambassador Outreach decide who receives funds and how much? What is their criteria? Are there doctrinal and policy requirements pastors and elders must comply with before IAO will give them support? And who runs IAO? Who decides the criteria for who will receive support and who will not? The IAO website is not clear, at least to me. There is a board. Is it just the board of directors that determines this, collectively, by voting? If so, then you have ballot-box governance over the disbursement of funds. And if those funds influence the decisions of the pastors who receive those funds, then you have at least the potential influence of the ballot-box over the pastors, if not the actual rule over them. And if Mr. Walker controls the members IAO's board, how does he do it?

Over time, if a pastor is faithful to obey Christ, the fruits of his decisions will become known. If God is working through a particular pastor, and He wants this known to the Church of God, He can bless that pastor with wisdom and intervention to make his decisions prosper. "And the LORD said to Joshua, 'This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you' " (Joshua 3:7). "So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD" (1 Samuel 3:19-20). In this way, God can reveal who He has chosen by the fruits, not by the balloting of men.

You have four leading men, at this writing, who lead Churches of God who are part of Church of God - America: Leon Walker, Jack Hendren, Larry Salyer, and Graemme Marshall. Suppose, just as an example (I know little about most of these men, so I am just picking a name here to illustrate the example), that Christ has chosen Mr. Marshall to lead the other men in a combined organization. Christ could make His choice known, not by the balloting of men, but by fruits. God could bless Mr. Marshall with a greater measure of wisdom, blessings, success, and good fruits, and over time those fruits would make evident whom Christ has chosen. Those who are willing to recognize the biblical way of knowing whom God has chosen would recognize the fruits and would cooperate with Mr. Marshall more and more. Or, if Christ chooses one of the other men, or someone who joins Church of God - America later, He could make His choice known the same way, by fruits, not by balloting.

There are many unanswered questions, and a great deal of change is is likely.

I would advise any pastor joining the Church of God - America association to keep his options open.

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

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Church of God Association and Website - Church of God - America

There is a new Church of God organization and website called "Church of God - America, Anchored in Scripture" as reported by several blogs. Here is a link to their website:

Post in Shining Light blog (James Malm):

Post Church of God Perspective blog (John Carmack):

This group is a voluntary association of pastors and elders, not a Church of God corporation, and it does not plan to become incorporated, according to its website. It seems to be a kind of loose association, not claiming authority over individual Churches of God that are in the association. It is based on common commitments to certain principles.

I have not studied its statement of beliefs in detail, but what I have seen seems to be regular Church of God doctrine, nothing unusual. The website states that preaching the gospel is one of the objectives of the association or its member churches, and suggests the Internet as a way that the member churches can do this.

In its statement of beliefs, there is no clear statement about the doctrine of the identity of the lost tribes of Israel being the English speaking and other European nations, but there is a statement that God has blessed the children of Abraham.

Although Church of God - America is not incorporated, the Churches of God that are listed in its website may be. I think a church needs to be incorporated in order to accept tax-deductible contributions, so this will probably be done at the level of the individual Churches of God in the association. Some pastors in the association may elect to receive compensation from International Ambassador Outreach (which would be tax deductible I think), or from their local members directly without the benefit of being tax deductible if they do not incorporate, and this could be temporary.

Here are the Churches of God and organizations listed in its relationship page:
Link to relationship page:

International Ambassador Outreach. Link:

Church of God - Latin America - Leon Walker. Link (Spanish language site):

Church of God - South Texas - Jack Hendren. Link:

Church of God - Louisiana - Larry Salyer. Link:

Church of God - Canada - Graemme Marshall. Link:

Other UCG news:

UCG has complained about unauthorized use of its logo in documents published by those not in agreement with headquarters policies in their Inside United Realtime blog, and this has been commented about in several other blogs. Link to UCG post:

Church of God Perspective post (John Carmack):

COGwriter post (Bob Thiel):

Shining Light blog has reported that Roy Demarest has been suspended. Link:

There is a Facebook page that allows UCG members to sign in their support of the open letter to Mr. Dennis Luker.
Link to post in Church of God Perspective blog:

Post in COGwriter:

Other COG news:

Bob Thiel reported that a weekly news radio show called "Head's Up" featured an interview with Mr. Roderick Meredith of Living Church of God. Link to COGwriter post:

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Three New Papers are Published

The UCG Current Crisis blog has published three documents from some signers of the December 4 letter summarizing actions of the Council of Elders over about the last year and a half and answering some of the things said and written by Mr. Dennis Luker.

These seem to be important documents.

Here is a link to the post:

Here are direct links to the documents. Each is a .pdf file which may be downloaded:
What Really Happened In Latin America?:

What Are The Real Issues?:

What Were the Real Efforts to Seek Reconciliation?:

As I read these documents, I got a definite sense of action in the wind, that these documents are declaring the reasons for actions yet to be taken. The document titled "What Are The Real Issues?" reads as a list of grievances such as one might find in the United States Declaration of Independence. Just as the Declaration of Independence set the stage for a war of independence that severed the authority of England over its American colonies and created the United States of America, so these documents may be setting the stage for some kind of action leading to total separation of those who will not or cannot follow the Council's agenda.

The United States Declaration of Independence starts out, "When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." No such preamble starts any of the documents prepared by UCG ministers, but I almost get the sense that the statement, "they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation" may be implied.

I have said before that I expected most of the split in United Church of God to run its course before Passover, 2011. Most organizational changes in the Church of God seem to happen after the Feast of Tabernacles and before Passover, not during a holy day season. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong started a work separate from Church of God (Seventh Day) late 1933 and early 1934. Mr. Armstrong died and Joseph Tkach became pastor general of Worldwide in January 1986. Mr. Roderick Meredith started Global Church of God after the Feast in 1992 and before Passover 1993. United Church of God was started just before Passover 1995. David Hulme and UCG went separate ways after the Feast 1997 and before Passover 1998. Larry Salyer and Raymond McNair took control of Global Church of God and Mr. Meredith started Living Church of God shortly after the Feast in 1998.

These documents summarize what has happened from the beginning of the split, and they build a case that the actions of the Council and administration have been unethical, unchristian, and illegal. This may be a preparation for something.

The last paragraph of the document titled "What Were the Real Efforts to Seek Reconciliation?" says that the issues that divide UCG have nothing to do with governance structure, but rather unethical and abusive behavior, implication being that this wrong behavior is on the part of the Council. Now, it may be true that the DIRECT issues that are causing division are not about governance structure, but indirectly they may be. If, as this document alleges, the wrong behavior of the Council is the heart and core of the issues that divide UCG, then the cause of that wrong behavior is the present make up of the Council. In other words, it is WHO is on the Council that determines the actions of the Council. If the division is the results of wrong actions by the Council over the last year and a half, then those actions have taken place because the majority of the Council members were willing to take those wrong actions. The real issue is, who are the Council members? Are they ethically qualified to lead the Church?

And if the answer is "no", then the next question is, "who put them there?"

And the answer to that question has very much to do with the structure of governance.

The twelve original apostles were chosen by Jesus Christ after He spent all night in prayer to know the Father's will (Luke 6:12-16, John 15:16), and one became an enemy, who was appointed for a purpose (John 6:70-71, Acts 1:15-17). The current UCG Council members were chosen by the balloting of about 500 ministers in a process that gives the majority the legal power to force its will on the minority.

You cannot separate the fruits of that process from the choice of that process and say, "It doesn't matter" (Luke 6:43-44).

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

Where Is the Evidence?

Mr. Dennis Luker has replied in Inside United Realtime blog to the open letter submitted to him December 4. Here is a link to that post:

Here is a link to the open letter he is replying to:

In Mr. Luker's reply, he calls on the signers of the open letter to bring back their loyalty to the governing structure that Christ has built in United since 1995.

I would like to ask a simple question of Mr. Luker, or of those who support UCG governance structure.

What evidence is there that Christ built the governing structure of United Church of God?

I think the evidence is that Christ did NOT build the governing structure of UCG, but that the governance of UCG was built by men, and Christ allowed it to teach us hard lessons.

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Corinthians 14:33).

"For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit" (Luke 6:43-44).

There is a direct relationship between setting UCG up to be governed by a voting process and the current division within UCG. It is voting and the struggle for voting that is fueling and driving this division.

Ballot-box governance is a bad tree that is bearing bad fruit.

The Church of God should be learning its lessons from this.

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

Larry Salyer and International Ambassador Outreach (IAO) Website

Mr. Larry Salyer is listed in the directors page of the International Ambassador Outreach (IAO) website, along with Arnold Mendez, Sr. and Leon Walker.

Review of IAO website:

The site states that it is not a church nor will it become one, but that it was set up to meet the financial needs of Church of God congregations around the world. Originally intended to meet the needs of areas outside the United States, it now intends to provide financial assistance to ministers in the United States during a time of transition due to the current UCG crisis. It also lists as one of its goals to provide financial assistance for the preaching of the gospel to the world through various means such as print, the Internet, and electronic media, so I presume that part of the money contributed by IAO to local pastors and their congregations can be used for the purpose of preaching the gospel to the world.

The site states "IAO will be making application for exemption to the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to have them declare IAO [EIN 27-3007906] exempt from federal income tax as an organization described in section 501(c)(3)."

Donations made as of December 5th, 2010 can be used by IAO for the United States congregations and pastors as well as International areas.

There is no information about how IAO is governed, but I would expect that it is governed collectively by the board of directors. In their directors page, six names are listed: Matthew R. Gus, Cliff Demarest, Arnold Cisco Mendez, Sr., Robert L. Paine, II, Larry Salyer, and Leon Walker. There is a portrait and a short biography of each man. Matthew Gus is the chairman. Larry Salyer is listed as "Director: Advisory Board". Leon Walker is listed as "Latin America Advisor". The other men are listed as "Director". All are members of the Church of God. The site states that the bylaws will be made available after approval of legal counsel.

Quarterly financial reports are made available on the website.

The address of IAO is:

International Ambassador Outreach
P.O. Box 251566
Plano, TX 75025-1566


The same content is shown in this domain:

Director's page:

Post in Shining Light blog:

All I can say is that it will be interesting to see how this develops. This may be a new Church of God organizational model in embryo. I remember that when United Church of God first began to be organized in a meeting or series of meetings in Indiana in 1995, some wanted a more loosely organized church than UCG became, one where local congregations had more autonomy and a headquarters organization and staff was to primarily serve those congregations and their pastors rather than exercise authority over them. IAO may be the start of that kind of organization.

In an unrelated matter, UCG Current Crisis blog has published a letter from Mr. David Jackson, a local elder in Columbia, Maryland, to the Council of Elders and administration, about his concerns after seeing the situation of the Church of God in Chile. In the letter, he describes the suffering in the Church of God in Chile because of the division that has occurred.

Here is a link to that post:

The number of names approving the open letter to Mr. Dennis Luker first sent December 4 as published in the UCG Current Crisis blog continues to grow. It is up to 126 names as of this writing, up from 120 about a day and a half ago.

This letter may be intended to let ministers get an idea of about how many will be signing the petition for a proposal for an investigation to be put up for ballot. The signatories of that petition are being tallied by an independent CPA firm and the names will not be made known until the tally is complete and if the requirement of 25% of the GCE (GCE is about 480 names) is reached. If everyone who has signed this letter also signs the petition, that figure has already been met, NOT COUNTING any ordinations that are made of new ministers and members of the GCE. One of the orders of business of the COE in its meetings was the approval of requests for ordinations, and there has been no news on that front. But the Council only approves the ordinations. The actual ordinations usually take place locally at Sabbath services with the congregations present, so they may be announced in the near future. Ordinations that may have been made last Sabbath may be announced by the administration at any time, and ordinations that may be made next Sabbath may be announced next week. New ordinations will expand the size of the GCE, requiring more signatures on the petition to meet the 25% requirement.

COGwriter blog has reported that a number of UCG members in the Kansas City area, pastored by Mr. Ed Dowd, have left apart from Mr. Dowd, possibly as many as 2/3 of the congregation. This would be the first time I know of in this crisis that a large group of members have left on their own, not being led by a minister. Bob Thiel's report is based on emails he has received and on letters from members published by the UCG Current Crisis site. Apparently, COG members David Yee and Sarah Yee published a letter in Facebook critical of UCG pastor Ed Dowd. The letter expresses the view that Mr. Dowd and the current UCG administration seem to be increasingly Protestant in the flavor of their teachings. Arlene Henderson indicated in Facebook that she liked the letter, and in a meeting with Mr. Dowd confirmed that she still liked the letter. She was then suspended, according to her daughter, Diane Martin, in a letter from Diane and Howard Martin in the UCG Current Crisis website, member letters page.

It is not in the nature of things for a large group of people to remain long without a leader. If the number of people who left the Kansas City congregation is as large as 2/3, or large at all, if they stay together, either they will find a pastor or a leader will emerge from among them. They may go in different directions in small groups, perhaps attending or visiting other Church of God fellowships, such as LCG, and some of them may stay home for a while or gather in small groups in their homes for fellowship on the Sabbath, perhaps listening to recorded sermons for a while until they find a more permanent solution.

Here is a link to the COGwriter post:
Here is a link to the UCG Current Crisis members letters page which publishes letters from Diane and Howard Martin and from David and Sarah Yee:

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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Leon Walker Reply to UCG Council of Elders, How a Split Might Occur

Mr. Leon Walker has replied point-by-point to a post published by the UCG Council of Elders and administration. Here is a link to the original UCG official post:
Here is a link to a post in UCG Current Crisis blog that publishes Mr. Walker's reply:

Shining Light blog has published a post indicating that Mr. Mike Hanisko has been suspended and told not to attend Sabbath services. Here is a link to that post:

More names continue to be added to the list of ministers endorsing the December 4 letter that was sent to Mr. Dennis Luker published in the UCG Current Crisis blog. The list of names is now up to 120. I will continue to add the names to my post titled Where UCG Ministers Stand to keep it up-to-date. Here is a link in the UCG Current Crisis blog:

Not every minister that has concerns or disagrees with the current direction of the Council and administration in United Church of God has necessarily signed this letter or any other document expressing concern, nor will they necessarily sign such documents in the future. The absence of a pastor's name therefore does not indicate that he agrees with the Council.

Why would a minister not take a stand at this time?

Some may be motivated to try to avoid controversy and stay in UCG out of legitimate concerns for the welfare of their local flock. Almost every time a pastor leaves UCG, whether it be because he is removed or resigns, it means his local congregation is split, sometimes down the middle, sometimes into a larger and a smaller piece. In just about any congregation, there will be some members who feel duty bound to stay in UCG and there will be some who feel just as strongly that they should stay with the pastor who has been caring for them and teaching them for years. A split in a congregation is always hard on many members in that congregation. In order to shield the members from division and to help the congregation stay together and to be able to teach and feed all of the local members, to care for Christ's sheep, some pastors may simply choose to avoid making waves, avoid controversy as much as possible, and to concentrate on teaching their congregations solid, biblical doctrine as they have been doing for years. Each minister must weigh a number of factors concerning his particular situation and what is best for the members he cares for as well as what is best for the Church as a whole, and we should be cautious about judging any pastor's decision in this, since we do not have all the facts he has regarding his situation. It is each pastor's decision, not anyone else's, and he has to seek God's will in making that decision. When a minister prays to God for the wisdom to make that decision, it seems to me that God will more likely give that wisdom to the pastor who asks for it and who has the responsibility for making the decision than to onlookers who may be looking for a reason to criticize and accuse, but do not have to make the decision themselves.

The cumulative effect of this is that the collective body of those who disagree with the Council's agenda are themselves split in how to handle it, with some wanting to take an open stand to reform UCG or to form a new organization and others choosing to keep silent and continue to pastor their congregations with a minimum of local controversy and division.

So if UCG splits, with 1/3 leaving and forming a new organization and 2/3 staying in UCG, that does not mean that all 2/3 of the ministers who stay in UCG agree with the policies of the current Council and administration.

Another interesting development is the possible formation of a "shadow government" within UCG, now perhaps in embryo stage. There is a funding organization, "International Ambassador Outreach" (IAO), which can channel tax-exempt donations from any contributors to any UCG or former-UCG ministers whose salaries have been cut off by UCG and are in need of financial support, whether those ministers be in the United States or other parts of the world. There is also the petition that is being circulated among UCG ministers to take a ballot on the proposal to have an investigation into recent actions by the Council and administration that may have led to the division. It will require 25% of the GCE, as tabulated by an independent CPA firm, to approve putting the proposal up for ballot. Then it would require 50% of those who vote on the ballot to approve the investigation. Yet the Council has said that this entire proposal is legally flawed, suggesting they may not abide by the results!

This could be interesting.

The independent CPA firm was chosen and contracted by the supporters of the proposal, but not by the Council and administration. This CPA firm will announce its results in due time. If the 25% is attained, then the COE and administration will have to make a choice to honor that decision or declare it invalid and void. If they honor it, they will have to reverse their position that the whole process is legally flawed. They will also have no legal excuse for disciplining any minister who supported it. But if they declare it illegal and void, then there may be a ballot not administered by the UCG administration, but by the sponsors of the proposal, perhaps using the same CPA firm to tally the ballots. In such a case, the Council of Elders and administration will no doubt instruct ministers to not participate in that ballot.

But that itself will have consequences, because as I understand it (someone correct me if I am wrong), the 50% required to approve the proposal is not 50% of the entire GCE but 50% OF THOSE WHO PARTICIPATE IN THE VOTING. So if the entire General Conference of Elders is 480 men, with about 160 (1/3) supporting the resolution and 320 (2/3) supporting the Council, and if the 320 who support the Council obey the Council's instructions not to participate, then only the 160 who support the resolution will vote, and they are guaranteed to have about 100% majority to approve the proposal. But if the Council advises ministers to vote against the proposal, then they are acknowledging the validity of the proposal going to ballot!

Once approved, the sponsors and supporting ministers of the proposal can go ahead with the investigation according to the terms of the proposal, which have been detailed in advance, and the investigation in due time will publish its results. The investigation can proceed without the cooperation of the Council and its allies using published documents and testimony of those willing to cooperate with the investigation. By not cooperating, the Council will cut itself off from defending itself. But if it cooperates, it acknowledges the validity of the investigation and the entire process that led to it.

The results of the investigation can be published outside of official COE and administration channels just as many documents have, on the Internet.

This whole process can become a model or pattern, a test case if you will, for those who disagree with the Council and its agenda. The supporters of this proposal will claim that it is legal and has force, and the Council will claim it is not legal.

Now, an investigation is just an investigation, but if the process were applied to something else, such as recall votes for the Council members or a re-examination or proposed changes in the bylaws and rules of governance for the corporation, the legal consequences will be more serious. Such a process could be used to vote out of office current Council members and elect a new Council. Then you will have two bodies, each claiming to be the "real" Council of Elders, and each claiming legal control over the corporation and its assets.

If it reaches that point, the current Council will remain in control unless the new Council files a lawsuit in the courts. The "alternative Council" may chose not to do that based on 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. But even if it does not file suit, it may have its own source of funds, based on local contributions and based on funding channeled through International Ambassador Outreach. This split can thus proceed gradually. Eventually, a new corporation may form. Or, the new Council may file a lawsuit against the old Council for control of the assets, and a worldly court will sort this mess out. In fact, in matters of voting and democracy, a worldly court may actually be more qualified to judge this matter since they have more experience in resolving matters of voting than the Church of God. In other words, if the Church is going to adopt the world's way of governance, it may need the help of the world's courts to resolve disputes within that form of governance.

United Church of God may split very gradually, not all at once. I suppose an analogy in biology might be cell division. When a single cell reproduces itself, it splits. But it does not split at once. The nucleus splits first. For a time, you have one cell with two nuclei. But eventually the whole cell splits. If that happens in UCG, first the government will split. You will have two governments in one Church organization. That will not last long before the whole Church splits.

That may not happen at all. It might be a possibility.

Whatever happens, it could get uglier and uglier.

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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Latest Church of God News

Long-time evangelist Dibar Apartian has died. Mr. Apartian served the French-speaking and International areas under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and Mr. Roderick Meredith. I have never met him, but I have listened to many of his sermons, and my impression of him was that he was a kind and loving man. Here are links to sites with more detailed information:
COGwriter blog (Bob Thiel):
Thoughts En Route blog (Wally Smith):
Inside United: Realtime blog:

UCG Current Crisis blog published an audio file of a question and answer session between the Council of Elders and students at ABC. It runs about 1 hour and 7 minutes, and various Council members took turns answering questions from the students about the current crisis in United Church of God.

Some highlights:

A student asked why members of the Council resigned from the Council. Mr. Melvin Rhodes answered that 2 of the resignation letters cited health reasons (of the 3 resignations turned in this week) and 2 of those resigning said they could not support the consensus of the Council. It was not clear if there was overlap between those who cited health reasons and those who could not support the Council.

In response to a question about whether there were more firings and resignations to come Mr. Robin Webber said the ministers have made an ethical bond with the UCG organization and that they are all duty bound to uphold the consensus of the General Conference of Elders (GCE) and the Council of Elders (COE), and that it is a bond and who and what you are. He said that the ministers are bound by the words "spiritual consensus". What struck me about this statement was that it was emphasizing loyalty to the organization and to a minister's commitment to that organization, but no mention is made of loyalty to obey God the Father and Jesus Christ. You can listen to the audio file and judge for yourself if loyalty to God and the Bible is being emphasized or not. This statement starts about 18 minutes into the session.

A student asked why so many men who have served faithfully are resigning or being asked to leave. Mr. Aaron Dean asked how well you can know anyone, and he said that people can change over time. Mr. Scott Ashley also responded to that question (about 35 minutes into the recording). He reiterated that when UCG was formed, the ministry chose a form of governance based on the proverb that in a multitude of counselors there is safety, that there is no one biblical form of governance, and that Christ did not leave one apostle in charge, but all twelve. He then compares the governance in UCG with the government of the United States, asking, who is the head of the country, who is the primary power? He answers, the president. Then he says that it is not like that in UCG, but that the primary authority and power within UCG is the sum total of all the ministers, about 470 or 480 men. He describes the president in UCG as being on the third tier down, under the authority of the Council, which is under the authority of the whole ministry (the General Conference of Elders). Then he states that the Council is the highest active authority within the Church. If that sounds confusing to you, it sounds confusing to me too, and contradictory. First he says that the entire ministry, the collective body of 470 or 480 ministers called the General Conference of Elders is the primary authority, then he says that the Council of Elders is the highest active authority in the Church.

So is the entire ministry in charge of the Council or is the Council in charge of the entire ministry? Who runs UCG, the General Conference of Elders (470-480 ministers) or the Council of Elders (now 10 men)? Who runs UCG?

Either way, no mention was made in Mr. Ashley's statement of Jesus Christ and how he fits into this upside-down hierarchy.

I would also point out that UCG governance is not based on safety in a multitude of counselors. Counselors give advice to decision makers. The decision makers can follow or not follow the advice. The balloting of the ministry is not advice on how to make a decision that a leader can accept or not. The balloting in UCG IS the decision. It is not advice or counsel. UCG governance gives the majority the power to force its will on the minority. That is NOT safety in a multitude of counsel. Also, it is incorrect or misleading to say that the Bible does not teach one form of governance. There are two basic forms of governance, top-down and bottom-up. In every system of government set up by God, authority flows from the top down, never from the bottom up. Details may vary, but that basic structure is always the same. And I believe the statement that Christ did not leave one apostle in charge is incorrect. The Bible shows that Peter was leader among the apostles. He led by seeking agreement, but he led.

A student pointed out that a UCG letter said that Latin American brethren were not cut off, then asked if they were still receiving money from UCG. Mr. Mario Seiglie replied that ministers are bound by the commitment they made when they signed on as UCGAI ministers, that they have credentials given to them because they said they would back this system of government and this group of governing authorities, then he asks if UCG is committed to continue to support those who have broken that pact.

One statement I found particularly interesting, because I suppose it could refer to one of my posts, but could also refer to posts in UCG Current Crisis blog, is a statement by Mr. Webber criticizing those who make "real long lists" about which ministers have resigned or done this or that. My reply is that it is my experience that in a time of internal crisis, members hunger for information and facts about what is going on. They want to know. They can make decisions, but they want to know the facts, and sometimes those facts are hard to come by. I have made a list in a previous post, "Where UCG Ministers Stand", of those ministers who have signed letters of concern or have resigned or been fired so readers can conveniently find out where their ministers stand in this crisis. (I also try to keep that list up-to-date with new information as it becomes available).

Here is a link to UCG Current Crisis post with the audio file of the question and answer session:

In another item, the Shining Light blog has published an open letter of concern from 87 ministers to Mr. Dennis Luker. Here is a link to that post:
UCG Current Crisis blog also published the same letter with 110 signatures, explaining that the letter was originally signed by 57 ministers but later more ministers added their names thus endorsing the content. Link below:

UCG has published three letters in rapid succession in its Inside United: Realtime blog explaining its efforts to achieve reconciliation. Here are links to the posts in order from first to last:

In the second post listed above, which is titled, "Latin American Ministry Reconciliation", the letter states that the August meetings with Mr. Leon Walker to seek reconciliation were unproductive because Mr. Walker insisted that he be restored as director of the Latin American ministry. Actually, I would have thought that reinstatement of Mr. Walker would be a GOAL of reconciliation, not an impediment. I do not know why the Council cannot reinstate Mr. Walker to his former position. I realize that I am not in a position to know the facts, but the Council is choosing to discuss the details openly, and they have given reasons for Mr. Walker's removal that do not make sense. No one has accused Mr. Walker of teaching heresy or of breaking the Ten Commandments or engaging in immoral behavior. As I understand it, the accusations against him fall into two categories: he advised ministers in how to vote, and he refused to cancel a trip to attend a meeting. In the matter of advising ministers in how to vote, how can that be wrong since the Council and administration continue to say that UCG governance was based on the principle of a multitude of counsel? In the matter of not canceling a trip, Mr. Walker already met once with Council representatives and could have met again after the trip. Accusers of Mr. Walker like to say that even in a business corporation you would be fired for not obeying orders, but I doubt if many UCG Council or administration leaders have much experience in the corporate business world, so let me educate them. That is NOT how business works. Decisions of that kind take into consideration the value of the employee and his reasons for refusing to obey an order. High-lever executives are NOT automatically fired. In such a case, if an executive is fired, it is usually for other reasons.

I do not know why four members of the Council of Elders have resigned. They may not be at liberty to give all the reasons at this time, but those reasons will eventually come out. But Jim Franks was the first, and the others seem to have followed.

This is speculation. But as long as all four members remained on the Council, those ministers who could not support the majority's agenda were perhaps themselves divided on whether to stay in UCG and fight for reform, or leave. And as long as the four stayed on the Council, many had hope for the first option. Whether it was Mr. Franks' intention or not, that first option is probably closed. With the "majority" on the Council now becoming the "unanimity", there is no chance of a change in power now.

In other words, the resignation of Jim Franks from the Council, followed by the resignations of David Treybig, Michael Blackwell, and David Baker, sends a signal to all those ministers who do not support the agenda and direction of the Council - we are leaving.

If that is the case, there may be moves to investigate the Council, to bring facts to light, and to prepare, but in the end, those ministers who cannot accept the leadership of the Council and administration will have to leave. The split is basically complete, except for the paperwork.

What remains to be seen is, will ministers leave together or in small groups? If together, who will lead? What structure of governance will they have?

The last time this happened was in Worldwide, and the same ministers who are faced with having to leave an organization today were also faced with that situation 15 years ago. And at that time, they left together as a group. We will see if they do the same thing this time.

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Changes in the Makeup of the UCG Council of Elders

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